Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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washed out by reconciling tears and promised forgetfulness.
Even the atmosphere of SwafFham, though grateful and
cheering, was exasperating to the poor royalist lady. There
was such cheerfulness in its comfortable rooms, such plenty
of all the necessaries of life, such busy service of men and
maids, such active, kindly hospitality to herself, and such
pleasant companionship betwee* Jane and her mother, that
Matilda could not help a little envious contrasting, a little
backward thought of the days when her own home had
been the light of its neighbourhood, and her father and
mother had entertained in splendid fashion nobles and
beauties and famous men whose names were familiar as
household words to all England. In those happy days the
rooms had shone with a hundred lights > her handsome

o 7

mother had moved as a queen in them, and her father and
brothers had made the place joyful with all the masculine
stir of hunting and hawking, the racket of balls in the
bowling-alley and tennis court, the excitement of the race,
the laughter and love-making of the ballroom. All these,
and far sweeter and dearer things, had been cast into the
gulf of civil war, and Matilda spent her days counting the
cost of such sacrifices a terrible sum total which she al
ways reckoned with one reflection : " if only mother had
been left ! I could bear all the rest."

One day, near Christmas, the roads were hard and clean
and the sky blue above them, and in spite of the cold Ma-


tilda resolved to walk over to Swaffham. She had an
abundance of rich clothing, but as she went through it, she
saw that its very splendour was only another sign of her
poverty, for neither her own nor her mother s wardrobe
contained the plain, scant skirt suitable for walking ; plenty
of carriage robes, and dinner and dancing dresses ; plenty
of gold and silver tissues, and satin and velvet, and rich
lace, but she would have given the richest of the costumes
for a short cloth skirt and coat, such as Jane trod the miry
ways in with comfort and cleanliness. However, she made
the wisest choice possible, and when she stood before her
father drawing on her white gloves and saying all manner
of cheerful words, no one could have desired any change
in her apparel. She held the train of her black velvet skirt
over her left arm ; her shoulders were covered with a tippet
of minever, her large hat of black beaver was drooping
with plumes. In her cheeks there was a faint rose colour,
and her large brown eyes were full of feeling. She looked
like some lovely princess exiled from her state and condi
tion, but retaining, nevertheless, all the personal insignia of
her royal birth.

As she left her father she kissed him affectionately, and
then curtseyed to the Chaplain, who did not notice her at
tention, being happily and profitably lost in a volume by
good Dr. Thomas Fuller, who was that moment saying to
him, in one of his garrison sermons, " A Commonwealth
and a King are no more contrary than the trunk of a tree
and the top branch thereof; there is a republic included
in every monarchy."

Matilda walked rapidly, and the clear cold air blew hope
and cheerfulness into her heart. u Perhaps, after all, the
King might come to his own Cromwell had not reaped
all that was anticipated from Dunbar victory, he was still


obliged to remain in Scotland and watch the King ; and if
the King s position needed this watch, there must still be
strength and hope in it. I will take what the Swaffhams
say with a large allowance," she thought; and then she
suddenly remembered that they had had no news from the
royalist camp, and knew nothing on which any good likeli
hood could be built.

" It is very cruel of Stephen," she sighed ; " if I were
with the King I would get word to my father and sister of
the King s condition but it is either drawing the sword or
shaking the dice, and while they gamble away the hours and
the gold pieces, father and I fret life away in waiting and
watching for the news that never comes."

The sight of S waff ham restored her. There was some
thing so hearty and sincere in the very aspect of the house.
As she went through the garden she saw a monthly rose
in bloom, and she plucked it ; and with the fair sweet
flower in her hand entered the SwafF ham parlour. No won
der she had missed Jane at the large casement where she
usually sat at her work ! Jane was sitting at the table serv
ing Lord Cluny Neville, who was eating and drinking and
leaning towards her with a face full of light and pleasure.
Mrs. SwafFham sat on the hearth ; it was Jane who was
pouring out the Spanish wine and cutting the game pasty,
and into Jane s face the young Lord was gazing with eyes
whose expression there was no mistaking.

Matilda saw the whole picture in a glance, and she set
her mood to match it. Dropping her gown, she let the
open door frame her beauty for a moment. She was con
scious that she was lovely, and she saw the swift lifting of
Neville s eyelids, and the look of surprised delight which
came into his eyes. She was resolved to be charming, and
she succeeded. She let Jane help her to remove her hat


and tippet. She let Mrs. Swaffham make much of her,
and when she said,

" Draw to table, my dear, and have a mouthful, for
walking is hungry work, as well as pleasant," Matilda
laughed and answered,

" Indeed, madame, I cannot tell wherein the pleasure of
walking lies ; I have sought it till I am weary, and cannot
rind it. However, I confess I am hungry with the search."

Then she sat down by Neville, and he cut her a slice of
the pastv, and Jane filled her wine-glass, and] Neville
touched his own against it, and wished her health and hap
piness. And by an unspoken agreement they said not a
word about the war, but eat their meal to such cheerful
thoughts and conversation as made the meat and drink
wholesome and joyful. Then they sang some madrigals,
and as the shades of evening gathered, Neville began to tell
them wild, weird stories of the Border-Land ; and Jane had
her traditions of Swaffham, and Matilda of de Wick, and
they sat in the twilight pleasantly afraid of the phantoms
they had themselves conjured up, drawing close together
and speaking with a little awe, and finding even the short
silences that fell upon them very eloquent and satisfying.

There was then no question of Matilda returning that
night to de Wick, and very soon Mrs. Swaffham joined
them, and the servants began to build up the fire and spread
the table for the evening meal.

" Time wears on," she said. u I thought I would take
a nap of ten minutes, but instead of shutting my eyes in a
dog sleep, I dropped oft till candle-lighting. Why are you
all looking so yonderly ? I hope Lord Neville has not
been a fob s postman ; for as far as I can see, Satan does
just as barefaced cruelties now as he did thousands of years


" We have been talking of fairies, and the gray ghost of
Raby, and the armoured giant that keeps Swaffham portal,
and Matilda has told us many awesome things about Lady
Sophia de Wick, whose ring no one can wear and escape

" Peace to her spirit," ejaculated Mrs. Swaffham, and
Jane added thoughtfully,

" If to such a spirit, peace would be any blessing."

" I would not talk of the dead if I were you ; they may be
nearer than you think. And there are wick men and
women in plenty to praise and to ban. Lord Neville has
told us nothing at all, yet, about General Cromwell. I
would like to know what is going on. Whatever has he
been doing since Dunbar ? " and Mrs. Swaffham made
these remarks and asked these questions with just a little
touch of impatient irritability.

" The first thing he did when he reached Edinburgh,"
answered Neville, " was to order the head of Montrose to
be taken down from the Tolbooth and honourably buried.
Some of the army grumbled at this order, and the Scotch
whigs preached and raved about it, and even Dr. Verity, it
is said, spoke sharply to Cromwell on the matter. And tis
also said that Cromwell answered with some passion, I
will abide by my order, notwithstanding the anger of the
foolish. We all have infirmities ; and I tell you, if we had
among our ranks more such faithful hearts and brave spirits,
they would be a fence around us ; for indeed there lives
not a man who can say worse of Montrose than that he
loved Charles Stuart, and was faithful to him unto death. "

u This is the noblest thing I have heard of Oliver Crom
well," said Matilda, " and my father will rejoice to hear it.
How Montrose loved Charles Stuart I will tell you, for my
brother Stephen was with him when he heard first of the


murder of his King. He bowed his head upon his sword
and wept, and when his heart had found some relief in
tears, he stood up and called the King in a mighty voice,
indeed Stephen told me it was heard beyond all probability,
and with a great oath he vowed that he would sing his
obsequies with trumpets, and write his epitaph with swords,
in blood and death." As Matilda finished her story, her
voice had a tone of triumph, and she stood up, and raised
her eyes, and then made such a sad, reverent obeisance
as she might have done had the dead been alive and
present. No one liked to impugn a ceremony so pathetic
and so hopeless ; and a constrained silence followed, which
was broken by Jane asking,

" Where did Charles Stuart go after Dunbar ? "

u He went northward to Perth. For a little while he
held with Argyle and the Kirk, but the Covenanters drove
him too hard. They told him he must purify his Court
from all ungodly followers, and so made him dismiss
twenty-two English Cavaliers not godly that is, not Cal-
vinistic enough. Then Charles, not willing to endure
their pious tyranny, ran away to the Highlands behind Perth,
and though he was caught and persuaded to return, he did
so only on condition that his friends should be with him
and fight for him."

" Why should the Scots object to that ? " asked Mrs.
S waff ham.

" Because," answered Neville, " these men were mostly
Englishmen and Episcopalians ; and the Whigs and Cov
enanters hated them as being too often reckless and wicked
men, full of cavalier sauciness. In return, Charles Stuart
hated the Whigs and Covenanters, made a mockery of
them, and, it is said, did not disguise his amui-ement and
satisfaction at the defeat of the godly army at Dunbar."


" And how did these godly men regard Cromwell ? "
asked Matilda with undisguised scorn.

" They troubled us a little in the West," said Neville,
" and Cromwell marched the army to Glasgow, and on the
next Sabbath day the preachers railed at him from every
pulpit in that city. One of them met the Lord General on
the street, and attacked him with threats and evil prophe
cies. I would have shut his lips with a blow, but Crom
well said to me, Let him alone ; he is one fool, and
you are another ; and the very next day he made friends
with this preacher, and I met them coming down the High
Street together in very sober and pleasant discourse. After
beating these Whigs well at Plamilton, we went into win
ter quarters at Edinburgh ; and Cromwell is now staying at
Lord Moray s house in the Canongate." l

" He ought to have taken his rest in Holyrood Palace,"
said Jane.

" I am glad he did not," replied Neville. " Tis enough
to fight the living Stuart ; why should he run into mortal
danger by invading the home of that unlucky family ? A
man sleeps in his dwelling-place, and when he sleeps he
is at the mercy of the dead."

" Not so," said Jane. " The good man is at the mercy
of God, and if he sleeps, his angel wakes and watches. I
will lay me down in peace and take my rest : for it is
Thou, Lord, only, that makest me dwell in safety."*

Neville looked steadily at her as she spoke with such
a glad confidence; and Jane s face grew rosy under his
gaze, while Neville s smile widened slowly, until his whole
countenance shone with pleasure.

They spoke next of the Parliament and the Council ;

1 This house is still standing.


and Mrs. Swaffham said, " For all she could find out, they
had been at their usual work, good and bad."

" And generally bad," ejaculated Matilda.

" That is not true," said Jane. " Think only of this :
they have commanded the laws of England to be written
in English. This order alone justifies them with the peo
ple. Also, they have received foreign ambassadors with
dignity, and taught Holland, France and Spain by the voice
of Blake s cannon that England is not to be trifled with ;
and in Ireland they are carrying on, through Ireton and
Ludlow, the good work Cromwell began there."

" Good work, indeed ! " cried Matilda.

" Yes, it was good work, grand work, the best work
Cromwell ever did," answered Neville positively; "a most
righteous dealing with assassins, who had slain one hundred
thousand Protestants men, women and children while
they dwelt in peace among then, thinking no evil and
looking for no injury. When men mad with religious
hatred take fire and sword, when they torture the helpless
with hunger and thirst and freezing cold, in the name of
the merciful Jesus, then there is no punishment too great
for them."

1 See Knight s History of England, Vol. 3, p. 464 ; Clarendon (royalist his
torian) says 50,000; I axton Hood, Life of Cromwell, p. 141, says as high
as 200,000; Church (American edition) from 50,000 to 200,000 with muti
lations and torture ; Imgard, the Catholic historian, in Vol. X, p. 177, ad
mits the atrocity of the massacre. Alany other authorities, notably Hick-
son s " Ireland in the ijth Century," which contains the depositions be
fore Parliament relating to the massacre. These documents, printed for the
first time in 1884, will cause simple wonder that a terrible massacre on a
large scale could ever be questioned, nor in the ijth century was it ever
questioned, nor in the face of these documents can it ever be questioned,
except by those who put their personal prejudice or interest before the


"The number slain was not as great as you say," in
terrupted Matilda. " I have heard it was only ten thou

" I care not for the number of thousands," said Neville
in a voice trembling with passion ; " men were put to death
with all the horrors religious fanaticism could invent ;
women and children outraged, starved, burned or drowned
with relentless fury. There were months of such perse
cution before help could be got there."

"Very - well, Lord Neville," said iMatilda in great anger,
" Episcopalians and Calvinists should not have gone to Ire
land. I bought a song from a packman the other day for
a farthing, that just suits them

" People who hold such positive opinions

Should stay at home in Protestant dominions.

I am sure Cromwell has made a name to be hated and
feared in Ireland for generations."

" England has far more cause to hate and ban the name
of O Neal for generations ; but England does not bluster ;
she rights her wrong, and then forgives it. She is too mag
nanimous to hate for generations any race because one gen
eration did wrong. Nowhere was Cromwell more just and
merciful than in Ireland. There have been English sieges
for instance Colchester far more cruel than that of
Drogheda ; and at Drogheda it was mostly rebel English
men that were slain, Englishmen fighting in Ireland against
the Commonwealth. Cromwell, even at Droo-heda, offered


mercy to all who would surrender and so spare blood. He
was throughout as merciful as he could be, as the Irish
themselves permitted him to be. I shake hands with
Cromwell in Ireland and I clasp a clean, merciful hand ! "


And as he said these words, Jane stretched out her hand
to Neville; and Matilda cried, hysterically, "Throne of
God ! It is wicked to say such things ! Give me my hat
and tippet, Jane, I will listen no longer to Lord Neville !
He is worse than you are."

" My lady, forgive me ; but truth is truth, and must not
be withheld when the occasion calls for it."

At this point Mrs. Swaffham, who had left the room,
returned to it ; and seeing Matilda s angry distress, she at
once understood its cause.

" It is Ireland, of course," she cried. " Children,
children, why will you quarrel about those savages ? They
arc not in your concern except to pray for." Then turning
to Neville she asked, u My Lord, why is it necessary to
speak of Ireland ? It breeds quarrels to name it ; well is
it called Ire-land, the land of ire, and anger, and quarrel
ing. I forbid the word in this house. If the Irish are as
sassins for God s sake, may God forgive them ! "

" There is nothing impossible to God, madame," said
Neville. " But men find some limitations ; and when effects
are so much talked of and condemned, it is the part of
Eternal Justice though only from a mortal s mouth to
balance the deeds with the deeds that called them forth.
And none can deny that Phelim O Neal s atrocities called
into righteous existence Oliver Cromwell s retributions."
And at these words Matilda threw herself on the sofa in a
passion of tears.

Neville fell on his knees at her side. " Say you pardon
me," he urged ; " I have wounded myself worse than you.
Your tears drop like fire on my heart; I promise you they

With a slight frown on her face Tane stood looking at


the two. Site despised that abnegation of self-control


which turned conversation and argument into disputing, and
anger, and tears ; and after a moment s thought, she went
to her friend s side and asked Neville to rise. " There is
no need to humble oneself for the truth," she said softly ;
" and Matilda knows that. She is now fretted with anxiety,
and must not be judged by her words." Then she took
Neville s place and soothed and reasoned with the weeping
girl, as best she knew how ; and Mrs. Swaffham brought
the Bible for the evening prayer, and the words of the com
forting Psalm stayed all other words ; and when they ceased
there was peace.

But Jane was grieved in her very heart. The evening
promising so much had been spoiled ; for love in such an
unhappy atmosphere could find no opportunities. Yet in
the short tremulous " good-night " which followed, Jane
both remembered and foresaw ; remembered the sweet
glances and the refluent waves of sweet smiles which
through all shadowings had drawn Love deep into her heart ;
and foresaw, beyond all obstacles and peradventures, what
possible joy might be waiting in the future. And swift as
thought the delicate love lines of her mouth grew bright
with expectation, and the clasp of Neville s hand thrilled
to her warm heart, and her soul blessed Love and Hope, and
sheltered itself in the sunshine of their imperishable land.

Neville had asked to be called early, and before daybreak
he came into the parlour ready for his journey. Some broiled
beef, a manchet of white bread, and a black jack of spiced
ale, stirred with a rosemary branch, was waiting for him ;
and Mrs. Swaffham and Jane sat at his side while he eat
and drank. He spoke regretfully of his temper on the
previous night, and left a message of apology for Lady
Matilda de Wick, adding to it his sorrow, " not to be so
favoured as to make his excuses in person."


" Matilda will sleep for three hours yet," said Mrs.
Swaffham, " and I will be glad if she has that much com
fort, for she frets her heart away when she is awake."

Then they stood up, for Neville s horse came clattering
to the door. He clasped Jane s hand as it hung by her
side, and they walked thus to the threshold. Snow was
falling ; the steps were white with it, and the east wind
blew it gently in their faces. Mrs. Swaffham laughed and
drew her shawl over her head, and Neville laughed also,
and with a cheerful word, leaped to his saddle, his dark
figure growing more and more phantom-like through the dim
dawn and the white veil of the snow. At the gate he
wheeled his horse, and, saluting them, vanished into the gray
obscurity, which made all things as if they were not.

" The storm will grow worse, I fear," said Jane as they
turned into the house.

" More like than not," answered Mrs. Swaffham ; " but
he is a dauntless youth, and nothing but good will come
to him. Where goes he to-day ? "

" As far as he can go. He is in haste to reach Edin
burgh, for there is fresh news of rebels from Ireland land-


ing on the Scotch coast. He showed me this report in a
copy of the news-letter called The Scottish Dove."

" A badly named news-letter, Jane ; the Scotch are never
for peace."

u It is intended for a peace paper, mother."

" They are confused in their minds concerning peace.
What did it say ? "

" That ten ships were leaving Bristol to bring men from
Ireland to help Charles Stuart against Cromwell. The Dove
asserts, the Scotch are ready for speedy action, if God
permit, and if advance money be forthcoming; " and Jane
laughed scornfully at the saving clause.


" He did not say much of the Cromwells. I ll warrant,
they will forget you in their rising state."

" Far away from it. Mary and Frances sent me many
good words, and they are very persuasive with me to come
to London and share their state."

" You cannot go just yet, Jane. Your father is opposed
to it, until General Cromwell returns there. Then, if it so
please God, we shall all go at least for a season."

" But when will Cromwell return there ? "

" God has set a time for all events, Jane. We must
wait for it. What think you of Matilda ? "

" That she is in trouble greater than we know. She shuts
in her words, but I think that something is about to happen."

" Anything may happen with Cromwell in Scotland, and
the Parliament carrying things with such a high hand. But
see, Jane, we must be after our own concerns. Servants,
men and women, are getting beyond all belief ; they do such
barefaced things as never was. The week s butter is gone
already, and when I spoke to Debby, she wiped her saucy
mouth and, like the fox in the fable, thanked God she
wasn t a thief.

Then the mother and daughter separated, and Jane went
to her friend s room. She was languidly brushing out her
long black hair, and Jane tried to kiss a smile into her
melancholy face. And as she lifted her head, she had a
momentary glance at a beautiful miniature lying upon the
dressing-table. The face was that of a youth with flowing
locks and a falling collar of lace ; but Jane was too honour
able to let her eyes rest consciously upon what was evidently
hid from her. For in that same moment, Matilda moved
her ribbons and kerchief in a hurried way, contriving in so
doing, to cover the picture. Then she assumed her usual
manner and asked,


" Is Lord Neville still angry at me ? I suppose if I had re
mained with him, he would have eaten me by this time."

" He was very sorry for his show of temper, and would
fain have made some apologies to you."

"Then he has gone ? Well, it is not worth my while
saying I am sorry for it."

u He set off early this morning."

" And so gave me the slip."

" Oh, no ! He had important news for General Crom
well, and would push on at his utmost."

" Yet staying awhile at every decent Puritan dwelling,
and making love to their sweet daughters."

" Do not be ill-natured, Matilda. He had letters from
my father and brothers, and also from Mary and Frances
Cromwell to deliver, or he had not stopped at Swaff-

" Oh, Jane, Jane ! I pray your pardon ! It must be easy
now to forgive me, I keep you so well in practice. In
truth, I am a wretched girl, this morning. I have been
dreaming of calamities, and my speech is too small for my
heart. And this young lord with his adoration of Crom
well and his familiar talk of the ladies Mary and Frances
angered me, for I thought of the days when the Lord
General was plain Mr. Cromwell, and we were, both of
us, in love with young Harry Cromwell."

" Was I in love with Harry Cromwell ? If so, I have
forgotten it."

" You were in love with Harry Cromwell or you
thought so and so was I. Do you remember his teaching
us how to skate ? What spirits we all had then ! How
handsome he was ! How strong ! How good-natured ! I


hear now that he is all for Dorothy Osborne, and has had
some Irish hounds sent her, and sea! rings, and I know not


what other tokens. And Mistress Dorothy is a royalist
that is one good thing about her. Very soon this lucky
Cromwell family will coax you to London to see all their

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 5 of 27)