Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time online

. (page 18 of 27)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 18 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

above him, by his very house, which was like a deserted


cloister buried in big trees. All those years Cromwell was
being forged and welded by spiritual influences into the
man of Naseby and Dunbar and Worcester into the man
who stepped grandly to the throne we saw him mount to

" One thing is sure : he will set free all godly men in
prison for conscience sake unless it be papists and prel-
atists. Yet tis hard to imprison men because they can t
agree about caps and surplices."

" Such talk does not go to the root of the matter, Israel.
Oliver, and men like him, look on papists and prelatists as
Amorites and Amalekites to be rooted out, and as disloyal
citizens to be coerced into obedience."

" I know papists that believe the Mass to be a holy obli
gation. They are sincere, Doctor; I know it."

" What of that, Israel ? A good Puritan cares no more
for their sincere opinions than the Jewish prophets cared
about the scruples of a conscientious believer in Baal.
Why should he ? "

"Well, then, as to Episcopacy a great number of Eng
lishmen love it ; and you can t preach nor teach Episcopacy
out of them."

" Don t I know it ? Popery without the Pope, that is
what Englishmen want. They love ceremonies dearly ;
they love Episcopacy as they love Monarchy. Queen
Elizabeth made an ordinance that at the name of Christ
every woman should curtsy and every man bare his head.
It went straight to the heart of England. Men and women
loved Elizabeth for it, and bent their knees all the more
willingly to herself. As for Cromwell, his zeal for the
Protestant religion will be the key to every act of his reign.
Take my word for it."

" Reign ? "


"Yes, reign. He is King, call him what you like."
" As ruler King or Protector over papists, will it be
right to hate them as bitterly as he does ? "

" Right ? Yes, a thousand times right. You must re
member what his education and experience have been.
From some who lived in Mary s reign he must have heard
how Ridley and Latimer and Cranmer were burned in the
streets of Oxford for their Protestantism. The whole
awful history of Mary s reign was part of his education.
He may have heard from eye-witnesses of the scene in the
great square of Brussels when Horn and Egmont, champions
of the Protestant faith, were beheaded by Alva s bloody
Council. The Armada sent to conquer England and force
on us by fire and sword the Catholic religion, was wrecked
on our shores by God Almighty, only eleven years before
Cromwell was born. The Popish Gunpowder Plot to
blow up the King and the Parliament was discovered when
he was six years old. Both of these last events were the
staple of fireside conversations, aud would be told him in
wonderfully effective words by his grand-hearted mother,
and you may be sure they were burned into the heart of
the boy Oliver. He was old enough to understand the
cruel murder of Henry by the Jesuits in Paris; he grew
into his manhood during the thirty years war of Catholic
Europe against the Protestants. When he first entered
Parliament, he was one of the Committee that investigated
the brutal treatment of Prynne, Doctor Bastwick and the
Rev. Mr. Burton. I think, indeed, that he witnessed these
noble confessors pilloried and burned with hot irons and
deprived of their cars, because they would none of Laud s
surplices and mummeries. And both you and I witnessed
his agonies of grief and anger at the frightful massacre by
Phelim O Ncil of one hundred thousand Protestants in


Ireland. How can Cromwell help hating popery and prel
acy ? How can any of us help it ? Let us judge, not ac
cording to outward appearance, but with righteous judg
ment. Oliver will do his work, and he will do it well, and
then go to Him who sent him. Verily, I believe he will
hear the Well done of his Master."

" And then ? "

" The Commonwealth will be over. The soul of it will
have departed can it live afterwards ? "

" Think you that our labour and lives have been wasted ?
No, no ! We will be free of kings forever ; we have
written that compact with our blood."

" Not wasted, Israel, not wasted. The Puritan govern
ment may perish, the Puritan spirit will never die. Before
these wars, England was like an animal that knew not its
own strength ; she is now better acquainted with herself.
The people will never give up their Parliament and the
rights the Commonwealth has given them, and if kings
come back, they can be governed, as Davie Lindsey said,
by garring them ken, they have a lith in their necks "

" If I survive the Puritan government," said Israel, " I
will join the pilgrims who have gone over the great seas."

" I will go with you, Israel, but we will not call our
selves c pilgrims. No, indeed ! No men are less like
pilgrims than they who go, not to wander about, but to
build homes and cities and found republics in the land they
have been led to. They are citizens, not pilgrims."

At these words Mrs. Swaffham, who had listened be
tween sleeping and waking, roused herself thoroughly.
" Israel," she said, " I will not go across seas. It is not
likely. Swaffham is our very own, and we will stay in
Swaffham. And I do not think it is fair, or even loyal, in
you and Doctor Verity, on the very day you have made a


Protector for the Commonwealth to be prophesying its
end. It is not rio-ht."


" It is very wrong, Martha, and you do well to reprove
us," said Doctor Verity.

" And talking of going across seas," she continued, " re
minds me of Cluny ; neither of you seem to care about
him, yet our Jane is fretting herself sick, and you might
both of you see it."

" Tell Jane to be patient," said Doctor Verity. " If
Cluny is not back by the New Year, I will go myself and
bring him back. There is no need to fret ; tell her that."

" Yet we must speak to Cromwell about the young
man," said Jane s father; "there has likely been some let
ter or message from him, which in the hurry and trouble of
the last month has been forgotten. You will see the Pro
tector to-morrow, speak to him."

" If it is possible, Israel. But remember all is to ar
range and rearrange, order and reorder, men to put out of
office, and men to put into office. The work before the
Protector is stupendous."

This opinion proved to be correct. Day after day passed,
and no word concerning Cluny was possible ; but about the
New Year a moment was found in which to name the
young man and wonder at his delay. Cromwell appeared
to be startled. u Surely there must have been some word
from him," he said. " I think there has. A letter must
have come ; it has been laid aside ; if so, there could have
been nothing of importance in it no trouble, or I would
have been told. Mr. Milton is fond of Lord Neville ; so am
I, indeed I am, and I will have inquiry made without delay."

"Without delay" in government inquiries may mean
much time. The accumulated papers and letters of a month
or more had to be examined, and when this was accom-


plished, nothing had been found that threw any light on
Neville s detention. Yet no anxiety was expressed. Every
one had such confidence in the young man ; he was accus
tomed to the exigencies of travel, ready in resort, and brave
and wise in emergencies. Cromwell made light of any
supposition affecting his safety, and there was nothing then
for Jane to do, but bear, and try to believe with those sup
posed to know better than herself, that the difficulties of
winter travel in strange countries would easily account for
her lover s non-appearance.

Thus, sad with the slow sense of time, and with grief
void and dark, Jane passed the weary days. The world
went on, her heart stood still. Yet it was in these sorrow
ful days, haunted by uncertain presentiments, that she first
felt the Infinite around her. It was then that she began to
look for comfort from within the veil, and to listen for
some answering voice from the other life, because in this
life there was none. Outside of these consolations she
had only a bewildering fear, and she would have wept and
worried her beauty away, had there not dwelt in her pure
soul the perennial youth of silent worship. But this con
stantly renovating power was that fine flame of spiritual
light in which physical beauty refines itself to the burning
point. The greatest change was in her manner; a slight
cold austerity had taken the place of her natural cheerful
ness this partly because she thought there was a want of
sympathy in all around her, and partly because only by
this guarded composure could she maintain that tearless
reticence she felt necessary to her self-respect. Neverthe
less, through her faith, her innocence, her high thought and
her laborious peace, she set her feet upon a rock.

One crisp, sunny morning in January she suddenly re
solved to make some inquiries herself. It was not an easy


thing to do ; all her education and all conventional feeling
were against a girl taking such a step. But the misery of a
grief not sure is very great, and Jane believed that her di
rect inquiries might be of some avail. She went first to
Jevery House. Sir Thomas had a financial interest in
Lord Neville s return, and it was likely he had made inves
tigations, if no one else had. She expected to find him in
his garden, and she was not disappointed ; wrapped in furs,
he was walking up and down the flagged pathway leading
from the gates to the main door of the mansion. He was
finding a great deal of pleasure in the green box borders
and the fresh brown earth which, he said to Jane, was
" nourishing and cherishing his lilies and daffodils. You
must come again in three weeks, Jane," he added ; " and
perhaps you will see them putting out their little green
fingers." Jane answered, "Yes, sir;" but immediately
plunged into the subject so near her.

" Have you heard anything about Lord Neville, Sir
Thomas r " she asked. " I must tell you that he is my
lover ; we were betrothed with my parents consent, and I
am very, very unhappy at his long delay."

" So am I," answered Sir Thomas. " I sent a trusty
man to The Hague, and it seems Lord Neville collected the
money due me there, six weeks ago. A singular circum
stance in this connection is that he refused a note on the
Leather Merchants Guild of this city, and insisted on
benvj; paid in gold, and was so paid. Now, fane, a thou
sand sovereigns are not easily carried, and and

"Well, sir? Please go on."

"A ship left that ni^ht for the Americas for the Vir
ginia Colonv."

" But Lord Neville did not go to America. Oh, no, sir !
That is an impossible thought."


" Well, then, there is this alternative : the merchant who
paid him the money died a few days afterwards of smallpox.
Was there infection in the money ? Did Lord Neville take
the smallpox and die ! "

" But if he had been sick he would have known the
danger, and written some letter and provided for the safety
of the property in his charge. He knew many people in
The Hague. This supposition is very unlikely."

" Why did he insist on the gold ? This is the thing that
troubles me."

" Who says he insisted on gold ? "

" The widow of the man who paid it."

" She may have been mistaken. She may herself be dis
honest. The money may never have been paid at all. I
do not believe it has been paid. Did your trusty man see
Lord Neville s quittance ? "

" I have not thought of that, Jane. I was troubled at
the story, and accepted it as it was given. It was too pain
ful and suspicious to examine."

" For that reason it must be sifted to the very bottom.
That Dutch widow has the money, doubtless. Did your
messenger ask her to describe Lord Neville ? Did he ask
her any particulars of the interview ? It is easy to say the
thousand pounds were paid. I do not believe her."

"Well, my little mistress, your faith infects me. I will
send again to The Hague."

" Yes, sir; and let your messenger ask to see Lord
Neville s quittance. Cluny did not receive from any one a
thousand pounds without an acknowledgment of the pay
ment. Let the woman show it."

"You are right. I will make further inquiries at

" To-day, sir ? Please, to-day, sir."


" I will send a man to The Hague to-day."

u Thank you, Sir Thomas. Can I now see Lady Jevery
and Lady Matilda ? "

"My dear, they are both at de Wick. A week ago my
niece received a letter from the man who bought the estate.
He urged theai to come and see him. He said he had not
long to live, and that before he went away he had some
most important intelligence, vitally affecting the de Wicks,
to communicate. My niece thought it prudent, even nec-
essarv, to make the visit ; and Lady Jevery went with her.
In a couple of weeks I shall go for them."

" But before you go "

" I have said to-day, Mistress Jane. I will keep my
promise. Why do you not see the Protector ? He was
fond of the young man ; he believed in him."

She only answered, "Yes, sir," and then adding, " Good-
morning, sir," she turned to go. Her face was so white
and so full of hopeless disappointment, he could not endure
to keep its memory a moment. Hastening after her, he
said, "My dear little mistress, I am certain of one thing
if there is any wrong about this matter it is not Lord
Neville s fault, it is his misfortune."

She received this acknowledgment with a grateful smile,
yet her whole appearance was so wretched Sir Thomas
could not rid himself of her unhappy atmosphere. His walk
was spoiled ; he went into his private room and smoked a
pipe of Virginia, but all his thoughts set themselves to one-
text : " There are many sorrowful things in life, but the
hardest of all is loving;."



" Hold Thou my hands :

In grief and joy, in hope and fear,
Lord let me feel that Thou art near ;
Hold Thou my hands."

THERE are two ways to manage a day that begins badly;
we may give the inner man or woman control, and permit
them to compel events ; or we may retire until unpropitious
influences have passed us by. It is perhaps only in ex
tremes the first alternative is taken ; usually the soul pre
fers withdrawal. Jane felt that it was useless for her to
attempt a visit to the Protector that day, and she hastened
to the covert of her home. Her mother s kind face met
her at the threshold, and the commonplace domestic in
fluences of the set dinner-table, and the busy servants,
recalled her thoughts from their sad and profitless wander
ing among possible and impossible calamities.

Mrs. SvvafFham had a letter in her hand, and she said as
soon as she saw her daughter, "What do you think, Jane?
Cymlin has got his discharge, and instead of coming
here, he has gone to SwafFham. And he says Will and
Tonbert are in the mind to join a party of men who will
pay a visit to the Massachusetts Colony ; and Cymlin says
it is a good thing, and that he will stay at SwafFham and
keep everything up to collar."

" I was at Jevery House, mother," said Jane, " and
Lady Jevery and Matilda are gone to de Wick."



"Never ! That accounts for Cymlin s being so thought
ful for Swaffham. Reasons for all things, Jane, and some
woman at the bottom of all. I am sorrier than I can tell
you. Matilda will take her sport out of Cymlin, and leave
him with a laugh. I know her. I will write to Cymlin
this night."

* But why, mother? You can do no good. A word, a
look from Matilda, and a fig for all advices ! " Then she
told her mother of Anthony Lynn s message, and they
talked awhile of its probable meaning, Mrs. Swaffham
being of the opinion that Lynn s conscience was trou
bling him, and that he wanted, as far as he was able, to pro
pitiate the de Wicks.

" You see," she said, " it is not only the living de
Wicks, Jane, there is a powerful gathering of the family on
the other side. , And the late Earl was very good to Anthony.
From his boyhood he was fostered by the de Wicks, and
then to think of his buying out the young Earl and Ma
tilda !"

" If he had not bought out de Wick, somebody else
would , and perhaps the de Wicks would rather have an
old retainer there than some unknown stranger," said Jane.

" It is hard to tell what the dead like, and how they feel ;
but it is a wise thing to treat every one in this world so that
you won t be afraid to meet them in the next world. I
wouldn t wonder if Anthony Lynn felt a bit afraid to meet
Earl Marmaduke; anyway, he ought to be ashamed.
k Anthony was always known for a prudent man ; he is
going to make his peace at the gates of death, for fear of
what is beyond them."

" I do not know. Sir Thomas offered no opinion ; and
he said some cruel things about Cluny, though he followed
me to unsay them."


Then Jane told her mother what suspicions evidently ex
isted in the mind of Sir Thomas, and Mrs. Swaffham
laughed at their absurdity, and was then angry at their in
justice; and finally she sent Jane up-stairs to dress for din
ner in a much more hopeful and worldlike temper. This
day was followed by a week of wretched weather. Jane
could do nothing but wait. Her soul, however, had reached
its lowest depth of despondence during her visit to Sir
Thomas Jevery, and on reviewing it, she felt as if she had
betrayed her inner self let a stranger look at her grief and
see her faint heart, and suspect that she, also, had a doubt
of her lover. She was mortified at her weakness, and fully
resolved when she visited Cromwell, to show him the heart
of a fearless woman brave, because she doubted neither
God nor man.

It was, however, the month of March before this visit
could be made. The bad weather was the precursor of a bad
cold, and then she had to consider the new domestic ar
rangements of the Cromwell family. The royal apartments
in Whitehall and in the palace of Hampton Court were
being prepared for the Protector s family, and Jane knew
from her father s reports, as well as from her own acquaint
ance with her Highness and her daughters, that all the
changes made would be of the utmost interest to them.
She was averse either to intrude on their joy or to have
them notice her anxiety.

But one exquisite morning in March she heard General
Swaffham say that the Cromwell ladies were going to
Hampton Court. The Protector would then be alone in
Whitehall, and she might see him without having to share
her confidences with the family. She prepared a note ask
ing for an interview, and then called on Mr. Milton and
induced him to go with her to the palace and deliver it into


Cromwell s hand. In her simplicity she considered this
little plan to he a very wise one, and so it proved. Mr.
Milton had no difficulty in reaching the Protector, who, as
soon as he read Jane s appeal, was ready to receive her.
She had been much troubled about this audience, how she
was to behave, and with what words she should address
Cromwell, but her fear left her as soon as the door closed,
and she was alone with her old friend.

"Jane," he said kindly, "Jane, what is the trouble ?"

" It is Lord Neville, sir. Nothing has been heard of
him, and I wish to tell you what Sir Thomas Jevery said."
She did so, and Cromwell listened with a smile of incredul
ity. "We know Neville better than that," he answered.
" It would be a great wonder if he should think of America,
fane. Would a man in his senses leave you, and his es
tate, and his good friends and good prospects to go into the
wilderness ? Truly he would not. His home and land in
Life are worth more than Jevery s gold and jewels, and I
do think mv favour may count for something. And more
than these things there is your love. You do love him,
fane : "

" Better than my life, your Highness."

" And he loves you ? "

" Indeed, I am most certain of it."

u When did you hear last from him ? "

fane had expected this question and she offered Crom
well Cluny s last letter, and asked him to read it. He read
it aloud, letting his voice become sweet and tender as he


did so.

u Mv dearest and most honoured mistress, I am just on
the moment of leaving Paris; my horse is at the door; but
by a messenger that will come more directly than myself, 1
send you a last word from this place. Mv thoughts out-


reach all written words. I am with you, my own dear one,
in all my best moments, and my unchangeable love salutes
you. Graciously remember me in your love and prayers.


" A good letter, Jane. I do think the man that wrote it
is beyond guile, beyond dishonour of any kind. I will not

hear a doubt of him. I will not " With these words

he rose, and taking Jane s hand in his, he began to walk
with her, up and down the room. His clasp was so hot
and tight she could have cried out, but glancing into his
face she saw it was only the physical expression of thoughts
he did not care to give words to. In a few minutes he
touched a bell, and when it was answered said, " Mr. Tas-
burg to my presence without delay." Mr. Tasburg came
without delay, and Cromwell turned to him in some pas

"Mark Tasburg," he said scornfully, "I know not
whether you have been alive or dead. I have not once
heard from you in the matter of Lord Neville s delay ; I
have not, and that you know. The commission for your
search is more than a month old ; it is, sir ; and I like not
such delays. I will not have them."

" My Lord Protector, I reported to Mr. Thurloe and Mr.
Milton that my search had been of no avail."

" Who gave you the order to make this search ? "

"Your Highness."

" Did I give you an order to report to Mr. Thurloe or
Mr. Milton ? Did I ?"

"No, your Highness."

" See, then, what you have taken upon yourself. Be not
so forward again, or you may go back to St. Ives and make
clay pipes. What date does Lord Neville s last letter
bear ? "


" It was written at Paris on the eleventh day of Novem

u The same date as your last letter, Mistress S waft" ham.
Four months ago. This is serious." Then turning; to

o o

Tasburg he said, " Find Colonel Ayrton and send him here,
to me, without delay."

During the interval between Tasburg s departure and
Ayrton s arrival, Cromwell was occupied in writing a letter,
and when it was finished, Colonel Ayrton entered.

" Colonel," he said, " I think you know Lord Cluny
Neville ? "

"Your Highness, I know him well. His mother was
my fifth cousin."

u He has disappeared, I do fear, in some unfortunate
wav. On the eleventh of last November he left Paris,
after despatching the business he was sent on with Cardinal
Mazarin. No one has heard of him since. He was going
to The Hague, but whether by land or water, does not ap
pear. I have written to his Eminence, the Cardinal ; here
is the letter, and if his reply be not to the point, go next to
the lodging of Lord Neville, and from there follow his
steps as closely as it may be in your power. The treasurer
will honour this order for your expenses. Waste no time.
Be prudent with your tongue. Say not all your mind, and
send me some tidings with all convenient speed."

" I am a willing messenger, your Highness. I am
bound to my cousin by many kind ties, and I have been
most uneasy at his silence and absence."

" Farewell, then, and God go with you."

He waited until the door closed, and then he said, " I
owe you this and more, Jane ; and I like the youth a
dear, religious youth, of a manly spirit and a true heart.
He was always counted fortunate, for in all our battles he


went shot free. I wish, I do wish, we could hear of him !
And you love him, Jane ? And he loves you. My heart
aches for both of you ; it does indeed. But I think I can
do somewhat in this matter, and truly I will use my en
deavour. Why does he not come ? What can have hin
dered him ? " he cried impatiently as if to himself.

" Oh, sir, he is sick or wounded perhaps at death s
door in some poor man s cottage, in some lonely place far
from help or friends," and here Jane burst into passionate

u You must not, you must not cry, Jane ; I beg it as a
favour not in the sight of men and women. Tears are


for the Father of spirits. Retire to Him who is a sure
resting-place, and there weep your heart empty ; for He
can, and He will wipe all tears away. As for your dear
lord and lover, he is within God s knowledge, and if God
saves souls, surely He can save bodies."

" It is four months, sir. Tis beyond my hope ; and I
fear Cluny is now beyond human help."

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 18 of 27)