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" D'autres auteurs I'ont encore plus avili, (le roman,) en y milant les tableaux dcgoutant du
vice ; ct tandis que le premier avantage des fictions est do rassembler autour de riioninie tout
ce qui, dans la nature, peut lui servir de le9on ou de modele, on a imagine qu'on tirerait une
utilite quelconque des peintures odieuses de mauvaises mceurs ; comme si elles pouvaient jamais
laisser le ccEur qui les repousse, dans une situation aussi pure que le cceur qui les aurait toujours
ignorees. Mais un roman tel qu'on peut le concevoir, tel que nous en avons quelques modeles, est
une des plus belles productions de I'esprit humain, une des plus infiuentes sur la morale des indi-
vidus, qui doit former ensuite les moeurs publiques." — Madame de Stael. Essai sur les Fictiuns.

" Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda :
Forse diretro a me, con miglior voci
Si pregliera, porclie Cirra risponda."

Dante. Paradiso, Canto I.

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The night -vvas as Llack as ink ; not a solitary twinkling star
looked out thi'ough that wide expanse of shadow, -syhich our
great Poet has called the " blanket of the dark ;" clouds
covered the heaven ; the moon had not risen to tinge them
even with grey, and the sun had too long set to leave one
faint streak of purple upon the edge of the western sky.
Trees, houses, villages, fields, and gardens, all lay in one
profound obscurity, and even the course of the high-road
itself required eyes well-accustomed to night-travelling to be
able to distinguish it, as it wandered on through a rich part
of Hampshire, amidst alternate woods and meadows. Yet
at that murky hour, a traveller on horseback rode forward
upon his way, at an easy pace, and with a light heart, if one
might judge by the snatches of homely ballads that broke
from his lips as he trotted on. These might, indeed, afiord
a fallacious indication of what was going on within the
breast, and in his case they did so ; for habit is more our
master than we know, and often rules our external de-
meanour, whenever the spirit is called to take council in the
deep chambers within, showing upon the surface, without
any effort on our part to hide our thoughts, a very difierent
aspect from that of the mind's business at the moment.

Thus, then, the traveller who there rode along, saluting
the car of night with scraps of old songs, sung in a low, but
melodious voice, was as thougthful, if not as sad, as it wa&




in his nature to be ; but yet, as that natui'e was a cheerful
one and all his habits were gay, no sooner were the eyes of
the spirit called to the consideration of deeper things, than
custom exercised her sway over the animal part, and he gave
voice, as we have said, to the old ballads which had cheered
his boyhood and his youth.

AVhatever were his contemplations, they were interrupted,
just as he came to a small stream which crossed the road
and then wandered along at its side, by first hearing the
quick foot-falls of a horse approaching, and then a loud, but
fine voice, exclaiming, " Who goes there ?"

" A friend to all tx"ue men," replied the traveller ; " a foe
to all false knaves. 'INIerry sings the throstle under the
thorn.' Which be you, friend of the highway ?"

" Faith, I hardly know," replied the stranger ; " every man
is a bit of both, I believe. But if you can tell me my way to
Winchester, I will give you thanks."

" I Avant nothing more;," answered the first traveller,
di'awing in his rein. " But Winchester ! — Good faith, that
is a long way off; and you are going from it, master :" and
he endeavoured, as far as the darkness would permit, to gain
some knowledge of the stranger's appearance. It seemed
that of a young man of good proportions, tall and slim, but
with broad shoulders and long arms. He wore no cloak,
and his dress fitting tight to his body, as was the fashion of
the day, allowed his interlocutor to perceive the unencum-
bered outline of his figure.

" A long way off 1" said the second traveller, as his new
acquaintance gazed at him ; " that is veiy unlucky ; but all
my stars are under that black cloud. AVhat is to be done
now, I wonder :"

'' What do you want to do r" inquired the first traveller.
" Winchester is distant five and twenty miles or moi*e."

" Odds life ! I want to find somewhere to lodge me and
my horse for a night," replied the other, " at a less distance
than twenty-five miles, and yet not quite upon this very

" Why not Andover ?" asked his companion ; " 'tis but six
miles, and I am going thither."

"Humph!" said the stranger, in a tone not quite satisfied;
" it must be so, if better cannot be found ; and yet, my
friend, I would fain fmd some other lodging. Is there no
inn hard by, where carriers bait their beasts and fdl their
bellies, and country-folks carouse on nights of merry-making?


or some old hall or goodly castle, where a truckle bed, or one
of straw, a nuiichion of bread and cheese, and a draught of
ale, is not likely to be refused to a traveller with a good coat
on his back and long-toed shoes r"

"Oh, ay!" rejoined the first; "of the latter there are many
round, but, on my life, it will be difficult to direct you to
them. The men of this part have a fondness for crooked
ways, and, unless you were the Daedalus who made them, or
had some fair dame to guide you by the clue, you might
wander about for as many hours as would take you to Win-

" Then Andover it must be, I suppose," answered the
other ; " though, to say sooth, I may there have to pay for a
frolic, the score of which might better be reckoned with other
men than myself."

" A frolic !" said his companion ; " nothing more, mv

" No, on my life !" replied the other ; " a scurvy frolic,
such as only a fool would commit ; but when a man has no-
thing else to do, he is sure to fall into folly, and I am idle

" Well, I '11 believe you," answered the first, after a mo-
ment's thought ; " I have, thank Heaven, the gift of credulity,
and believe all that men tell me. Come, I will turn back
with you, and guide you to a place of rest, though I shall be
Avell laughed at for my pains."

" Not for an act of generous courtesy, surely," said the
stranger, quitting the half-jesting tone in which he had
hitherto spoken. " If they laugh at you for that, I care not
to lodge with them, and will not put your kindness to the
test, for I should look for a cold reception."

" Nay, nay, 'tis not for that, they will laugh," rejoined the
other, " and perhaps it may jump with my humour to go
back, too. If you have committed a folly in a frolic to-night,
I have committed one in anger. Come with me, therefore,
and, as we go, give me some name by which to call you when
we arrive, that I may not have to throw you into my uncle's
hall as a keeper with a dead deer ; and, moreover, before we
go, give me your word that we have no frolics here, for I
would not, for much, that any one I brought, should move
the old knight's heart with aught but pleasure."

" There is my hand, good youth," replied the stranger, fol-
lowing, as the other turned his horse ; " and I never break
my word, whatever men say of me, though they tell strange

' B 2


tales. As for my name, people call mc Hal of lladnock ;
it ^vill do as well as another."

''For the nonce," added his companion, understanding
well that it was assmned; "but it matters not. Let us ride
on, and the gate shall soon be opened to you ; for I do thinlc
they will be glad to see me back again, though I may not
perchance stay long.

' The porter rose anon ccrtaiuc
As soon as he heard John call.' "

" You seem learned for a countryman," said the traveller,
riding on by his side ; " but, perchance, I am si)eaking to a

" Good faith, no,"re])licd the first wayfarer; " more soldier
than clerk, Hal of Hadnock; as old Robert of Langland says,
' I cannot perfectly my Paternoster, as the priest it singeth, but
I can rhyme of Robin Mode Jind Randof Earl of Chester.' I
ha\e cheered my boyhood with many a song and my youth
with many a ballad. When lying in the field upon the
marches of Wales, I have wiled away many a cold night with
the —

' Qucus Mountfort, sa dure mort,'

' Eichard of Alemaigue, wlule lie Avas king,'

and then in the cold blasts of March, I ever found comfort
in —

' Summer is icumen in,

Lhude sing cuccu,

Growetli sede and blovrcth mode.

And springctli the wode nu.' "

" And good reason, too," Siaid Hal of Hadnock ; " I do the
same, i'faith ; and when wintry winds are blowing, I think-
ever, that a warmer day may come and all be bright again.
Were it not for that, indeed, 1 might well be cold-hearted."

" Fie, never flinch '." cried his gay companion ; " there is
but one thing on earth should make a bold man cold-

" And what may that be?" asked the other ; " to lose his
dinner ?"

" Xo, good life !" exclaimed the first, — " to lose his lady's

" Ay, is it there the saddle galls .^" said Hal of Hadnock.

'' Faith, not a whit," answered his fellow-traveller; "if it
did, I should leave off singing. You are v.rong in your


gaess, Master Hal. I may lose my lady, but not my lady's
love, or I am much mistaken ; and while that stays Avith me
I will both sing and hope."

" 'Tis the best comfort," replied Hal of Hadnock, " and
generally brings snccess. But what am I to call you, fair
sir? for it mars one's speech to have no name for a compa-

" Now, were not my uncle's house within three miles," said
the other, " 1 v.ould pay you in your own coin, and bid you
call me Dick of Andover ; for I am fond of secrets, and keep
them faithfully, except when they are likely to be found out;
but such being the case now, you must call me Richard of
Woodville, if you would liave my friends know you mean a
poor squire who has ever sought the places where hard blows
are plenty ; but who missed his spurs at Bramham Moor by
being sent by his good friend Sir Thomas Rokeby to bear
tidings of Northumberland's incursion to the King. I would
fain have staid and carried news of the victory ; but, good
sooth, Sir Thomas said he could trust me to tell the truth
clearly as well as fight, and that, though he could trust the
others to fight, he could not find one who would not make
the matter either more or less to the King, than it really was.
See what bad luck it is to be a plain-spoken fellow."

" Good luck as well as bad," replied Hal of Hadnock ; and
in such conversation they pursued their way, riding not quite
so fast as either had been doing when first they met, and
slackening their pace to a walk, when, about half a mile far-
ther forward, they quitted the high road and took to the nar-
row lanes of the country, which, as the reader may easily
conceive, were not quite as good for travelling in those days,
as even at present, when in truth they are often bad enough.
They soon issued forth, however, npon a more open track,
where the river again ran along by the roadside, sheltered
here and there by copses whicii occasionally rose from the
veiy brink ; and, just as they regained it, the moon appearing
over the low banks that fell crossing each other over its
course, poured, from beneath the fringe of heavy clouds that
canopied the sky above, her full pale light u])on the whole
extent of the stream. There was something fine but melan-
choly in the sight, grave and even grand ; and though there
were none of those large objects which seem generally neces-
sary to produce the sublime, there was a feeling of vastness
given by the broad expanse of shadow overhead, and the long
line of glistening brightness below, broken by the thick black


masses of brushwood that here and there bent over the flat
surface of the water.

*' This is fine," said Hal of Hadnock ; " I love such night
scenes with the solitary moon and the deep woods and the
gleaming river — ay, even the dark clouds themselves. They
are to me like a king's fate, where so many heavy things
brood over him, so many black and impenetrable things sur-
rovmd him, and where yet often a clear yet cold effulgence
pours upon his way, grander and calmer than the wanner and
gayer beams that fall upon the course of ordinary men."

His companion turned and gazed at him for a moment by
the moonlight, but made no observation, till the other con-
tinued, pointing with his hand, " What is that drifting on the
water ? Surely 'tis a man's head !"

" An otter with a trout in his mouth, speeding to his hole,"
replied Richard of Woodville ; " he will not be long in sight.
— See ! he is gone. All things fly from man. We have esta-
blished our character for butchery with the brute creation ;
and they wisely avoid the slaughter-house of our presence."

" I thought it was something human, living or dead," re-
plied Hal of Hadnock. " Methinks it were a likely spot for
a man to rid himself of his enemy, and give the carrion to
the waters ; or for a love-lorn damsel to bury griefs and me-
mories beneath the sleepy shining of the moonlight stream.
The Leucadian promontory was an awful leap, and bold as
well as sad must have been the heart to take it ; but here,
timid despair might creep quietly into the soft closing wave,
and find a more peacefid death-bed than the slow decay of a

" Sad thoughts, sir, sad thoughts," replied Eichard of
Woodville ; " and yet you seemed merry enough just now."

" Ay, the fit comes upon me as it will, comrade," replied
the other ; " and, good faidi, I strive not to prevent it. I
amuse myself with my own humours, standing, as it were,
witliout myself, and looking inward like a spectator at a
tournay — now laughing at all I see, now ready to weep ; and
yet for the world I would not stop the scene, were it in my
power to cast down my warder at the keenest point of strife,
and say, ' Pause ! no more !' Sometimes there lives not a
merrier heart on this side the sea, and sometimes not a
sadder within the waters. At one time I could laugh like
a clown at a fair, and at others would make ballads to the
little stars, full of sad homdies."

" Not so, I," rejoined Richard of Woodville. " I strive


for an equal mind. I would fain be always light-hearted ;
and though, when I am crossed, I may be hot and hastj%
ready to strive with others or myself, yet, in good truth, I
soon learn to bear with all things, and to endure the ills that
fall to my portion, as lightly as may be. Man 's a beast of
burden, and must carry his pack-saddle ; so it is better to do
it quietly than to kick under the load. Out upon those who
go seeking for sorrows, a sort of commodity they may find
at their own door ! One whines over man's ingratitude ;
another takes to heart the scorn of the great ; another broods
over his merit neglected, and his good deeds forgotten ;
but, were they wise, and did good without thought of thanks
— were they high of heart, and knew themselves as great in
their inmost soul as the greatest in the land — were they
bright in mind, and found pleasure in the mind's exercise —
they would both merit more and repine less, ay, and be surer
of their due in the end."

"By my life, you said you were no clerk, Richard of
Woodville," cried his companion, " and here you have
preached me a sermon, fit to banish moon-sick melancholy
from the land. But say, good youth, is yonder light looking
out of your uncle's hall \dndow — there, far on the other side
of the stream ?"

" No, no," answered Woodville ; " ride after it, and see
how far it will lead you. You will soon find yourself neck
deep in the swamp. 'Tis a Will-o'-the-wisp. My uncle's
house lies on before, beyond the village of Abbot's Ann, just
a quarter of a mile from the Abbey ; so, as the one brother
owns the hall, and the other rules the monastery, they can
aid and countenance each other, whether it be at a merry-
making or a broil. Then, too, as the good Abbot is as meek
as an ewe in a May morning, and Sir Philip is as fiery as the
sun in .Tune, the one can tame the other's wrath, or work up
his courage, as the case may be — but here we see the first
houses, and lights in the window, too. Why, how now !
Dame Julien has not gone to bed — but, I forgot, there is a
glutton mass to-morrow, and, as the reeve's wife, she must
be cooking capons, truly. lUit, hark ! there is a sound of a
cithern, and some one singing. Good faith, they are making
merry by their fireside, though curfew has tolled long since.
Well, Heaven send all good men a cheerful evening, and a
happy hearth ! Perhaps they have some poor minstrel within,
and are keeping up his heart with kindness ; for .Tulien is a
bountiful dame, and the reeve, though somewhat hard upon


the young knaves, is no way pinched when there is a sad
face at his door. Well, fair sir, we shall soon be home. A
])leasant place is home ; ay, it is a pleasant place, and, when
far away, we think of it always. God hclj) the man who has
no home ! and let all good Christians befriend him, for he
has need."

Although Hal of Hadnock made no farther observations
upon his companion's mood and character, there was some-
thing therein that struck and pleased him greatly ; and he was
no mean judge of his fellow-men, for he had mingled with
many of every class and degree. Quick and ready in dis-
covering, by small traits, the secrets of that complicated
mystery, the human heart, he saw% even in the love of music
and poetry, in a man habituated to camps and fields of
battle, a higher and finer mind than the common society of
the day afforded ; for it must not be thought, that either in
the knight or the knight's son, of our old friend Chaucer, the
poet gave an accui'ate picture of the gentry of the age. That
there were such is not to be doubted — but they were few ;
and the generality of the nobles and gentlemen of those
times were sadly illiterate and rude. The occasional words
Richard of Woodville let drop, too, regarding his own scheme
of home philosophy, showed, his companion thought, a
strength and vigour of character which might be serviceable
to others as well as himself, in any good and honourable
cause ; and Hal of Hadnock, as they rode on, said to him-
self, " I will see more of this man."

. After passing through the little village, and issuing out
again into the open country, they saw, by the light of the
moon, now rising higher, and dispersing the clouds as she
advanced, a high isolated hill standing out, detached from
all the woods and scattered hedge-rows round. At a little
distance from its base, upon the left, appeared the tall pin-
nacles and tower of an abbey and a church, cutting dark
against the lustrous sky behind ; and, partly hidden by the
trees on the right, partly rising above them, were seen the
bold lines of another building, in a sterner style of archi-

" That is your uncle's dwelling, 1 suppose ?" said Hal of
Hadnock, pointing on with his hand. " Shall we find any
one up ? It is hard upon ten o'clock."

" Oh, no fear," replied Richard of Woodville. " Good Sir
Philip Beauchamp sits late in the hall. He will not take his
white head to the pillow for an hour or two ; and the ladies


like well to keep him company. Here, to the left, is a shorter
way through the wood ; but look to your horse's footing, for
the woodmen were busy this morning, and may have left
branches about."

In less than five minutes more they were before the em-
battled gates of one of those old English dwellings, half
castle, half house, which denoted the owner to be a man of
station and consideration — just a step below, in fortune or
rank, those mighty barons who sheltered themselves from
the storms of a factious and lawless epoch, in fortresses
filled with an army of retainers and dependants. As they
approached, Richard of Woodville raised his voice and
called aloud,

" Tim Morris I Tim Morris ! " He waited a moment,
singing to himself the two verses he had repeated before —

" ' Tlie porter rose again certaine
As soon as he heard John call ;' "

and then added, " But it will be different now, T fancy ; for
honest Tim is as deaf as a miller, and his boy is sound
asleep, I suspect. Tim Morris, I say ! — He will keep us
here all night: — Tim Morris ! — How now, old sluggard '. " he
continued, as the ancient porter rolled back the gate ; " were
you snoring in your wicker-chair, that you make us dance
attendance, as you do the country folk of a Monday morn-

" 'Tis fit they should learn to dance the Morris dance, as
they call it, Master Dick," answered the porter, laughing,
and holding up his lantern. " God yield ye, sir ! I thought
you were gone for the night, and I was stripping off' my

" Is Simeon of Roydon gone, then ? " asked Woodville.

" Nay, sir, he stays all night," answered the porter.
" Here, boy ! here, knave ! turn thee out, and run across
the court to take the horses."

A sleepy boy, with senses yet but half awake, crept out
from the door, and followed Richard of Woodville and his
companion, as they rode across the small space that sepa-
rated the gate from the Hall itself There, at a flight of
steps, leading to a portal which might well have served a
church, they dismounted; and, advancing before his fellow-
traveller, Richard of Woodville raised the heavy bar of
hammered iron, which served for a latch, and entered the
hall, singing aloud —


' As I rode on a Monday,
Between Wettendon and Wall,
AU alono; the broad way,
I met a little man withal.' "

As he spoke he pushed back the door for Hal of Haduock
to enter, and a scene was presented to liis companion's sight
which deserves rather to begin than end a chapter.



The hall of the old house at Dunbury — long swept away by
the two great destroyers of man's works, Time and Change
— was a spacious vaulted chamber, of about sixty feet in its
entire length, by from thirty-five to forty in width ; but, at
the end next the court, a part of the pavement, of about nine
feet broad, and some eighteen or twenty inches lower than
the rest, was separated from the hall by two broad steps
running all the way across. This inferior space presented
three doors ; the great one communicating at once with the
court, and two others in the angles, at the right side and
the left, leading to chambers in the rest of the building. At
the further end of the hall, on the left, was another small
door, opposite to which there appeared the first four steps of
a staircase, which wound away with a turn to apartments
above. There was a high window over the principal entrance,
from which the room received, in the daytime, its only light ;
and about half way up the chamber, on the left hand, was
the wide chimney and hearth, with seats on either side, and
two vast bars of iron between them for burning wood. In
the midst of the pavement stood a long table, with some
benches, one or two stools and a great chair, in which the
master of the mansion seated himself at the time of meals ;
but the hall presented no other ornament whatever, except a
number of lances, bows, cross-bows, axes, maces, and other
offensive arms, w^hich were ranged with some taste against
the walls. The armoury was in another part of the house,
and these weapons seemed only admitted here to be ready
in case of immediate need ; for those were times in which


men did not always know how soon the hand might be called
upon to defend the head.

When Richard of Woodville and his companion entered,
some six or seven large logs, I might almost call them trees,
were blazing on the hearth ; and, in addition to the glare
they afforded, a sconce of seven burners above the chimney
shed a full light upon the party assembled round the fire.

Online LibraryUnknown[The works : Revised & corrected by the author, with an introductory preface] (Volume 20) → online text (page 1 of 41)