Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 9 of 27)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 9 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Were not carried out it was not his fault."

" I neglect no opportunities, rnadame. And Cromwell
needs not that any one soften his heart. The sight of
these fallen heroes made him weep but there are consider
ations and every triumph implies some one crushed at the
chariot wheels."

" But, Doctor Verity," said Jane, " if we may lawfully
fight and kill for the sake of our rights and our convictions,
may we not also lawfully punish those who made us put
our lives in such jeopardy ? "

" Jane, I am sure that we have the right of self-defense ;
the awful attributes of vengeance and retribution are dif
ferent things. Will mortal hands be innocent that take
the sword of vengeance from God s armoury ? I fear not.
I had a long talk with Sir Richard Musgrave this morning
on this very subject. I found Lord Cluny Neville with
him ; it seems they are related."

" Why did you not bring Lord Neville with you ? "
asked Frank.

" Lord Neville looks after his own affairs, Lady Frances
I do likewise."

"Then, Doctor," said Mrs. Cromwell, "look better
after your dinner. That buttered salmon has gone cold
while you talked. There is a jar of olives near you, and
pray what will you have ? a dish of steaks ? or marrow
bones? or ribs of roast beef? or some larded veal? or
broiled larks ? "

" Roast beef for John Verity, madame, and a couple of
broiled birds and a dish of prawns and cheese. I enjoy my
meat, and am not more ashamed of it than the flowers are
of drinking the morning dew."

" You are always happy, Doctor," said Jane.



120 THE LION S WHELP

" I think it is the best part of duty to be happy, and to
make others happy. No one will merit heaven by making
a hell of earth. As I came through Jermyn Street I saw
Lady Matilda de Wick. She looked daggers and pistols at
me. God knows, I pity her. She was shrouded in black."

" Has anything been heard of Stephen de Wick ? "
asked Jane.

" It is thought he reached The Hague in safety. His
companion, Sir Hugh Belvard, joined Prince Rupert s
pirate fleet there."

Then Mrs. Ireton, as if desirous of changing the sub
ject, spoke of Doctor John Owen, and of his treatise on
" The Pattern-Man" and Doctor Verity said he was " a
Master in Israel." Talking of one book led to conver
sations on several others, until finally the little volume
by Cromwell s brother-in-law, Doctor Wilkins, was men
tioned. It was a dissertation on the moon and its inhabi
tants, and the possibility of a passage thither. Mrs. Ireton
disapproved the book altogether, and Mrs. Cromwell was
quite scornful concerning her brother Wilkins, and thought
"the passage to the heavenly land of much greater im
portance."

But it was easy to turn from Doctor Wilkins to the
great University in which he was a professor, and Mrs.
Claypole reminded her mother of their visit to Oxford
after its occupation by Cavalier and Puritan soldiers.

" I remember," she answered. " It was a sin and a
shame to see ! The stained windows were broken, and the
shrines of Bernard and Frideswide open to the storm ; the
marble heads of the Apostles were mixed up with cannon
balls and rubbish of all kinds. Straw heaps were on the
pavements and staples in the walls, for dragoons had been
quartered in All Souls, and their beasts had crunched their



ON THE TIDE TOP 121

oats under the tower of St. Mary Magdalene. I could not
help feeling the pity of it, and when I told the General
he was troubled. He said the ignorant have clumsy ways
of showing their hatred of wrong ; but being ignorant, we
must bear with them.

" All these barbarisms have been put out of sight," said
Dr. Verity, " and thanks to Doctor Pocock, Oxford is it
self as;ain."

O

" Doctor Pocock ! " ejaculated Mrs. Cromwell. " He
was here a few days ago to consult with the General. He
had on a square cap, and large ruff surmounting his doctor s
gown ; his hair was powdered and his boots had lawn tops
trimmed with ribbons. He looked very little like a Com
monwealth Divine and Professor."

" My dear madame, Doctor Pocock is both a Royalist
and a Prelatist."

u Then he ought not to be in Oxford," said iMary Crom
well hotly. "What is he doing there ? "

" He is doing good work there, Lady Mary for he is
the most famous Oriental and Hebrew scholar in England.
No Latiner, but great in Syriac and Arabic; and no bigot,
for he is the close friend of Doctor Wallis and of your
uncle, Doctor Wilkins, though he does not go with them
to the Wadham conventicle. The Parliamentary triers de
clared him incompetent but Edward Pocock had powerful
friends who knew his worth, and perhaps if you ask your
honoured father, he can tell you better than I why Dr. Po
cock is in Oxford, and what he is doing there."

At this moment, Lord Cluny Neville entered the room.
He saw Jane on the instant, and his eyes gave her swift
welcome, while in the decided exhilaration following his
entrance Love found his opportunities. But among them
was none that gave him free speech with Jane; they were



122 THE LION S WHELP

not a moment alone. Cluny had a fund of pleasant talk,
for he had just come from the Mulberry Gardens, where
he had met Mr. and Mrs. Evelyn and had some refresh
ment at the tables with them.

" I suppose the Evelyns were as gaily dressed as usual ? "
asked Mrs. Claypole, " and looking as melancholy as if the
world would come to an end in a week s time ? "

" Indeed, they were very handsome," answered Neville ;
" and the coach they brought from Paris is extremely fine.
We had some chocolate in thin porcelain cups, and some
Italian biscuits and sweetmeats. And anon we were joined
by Mr. Izaak Walton, the gentlest of malignants, and very
entertaining in his talk, Mr. Evelyn was praising Mr.
Milton s poetry, but Mr. Walton did not agree with him.
He thought John Milton was always trying to scale heaven
by a ladder of his own, or else to bring down heaven on
earth in some arbitrary shape or other that in truth, he
knew not in his work where he was going."

" He goes, truly, where Mr. Izaak Walton cannot follow
him," said Mrs. Ireton. " John Milton has looked God s
Word and his own soul in the face, and he will not hold
Mr. Walton s opinion of him as anything to his hurt."

" Besides, " added Cluny with a pleasant laugh, " Mr.
Walton is writing a book, and Mr. Milton will soon not
need to say with the patient man of Uz, l Oh, that mine
enemy had written a book ! He may have reprisals."

During this speech there was heard from a distant apart
ment the sound of music, low and sweet, and full of
heavenly melody.

"That is Mr. Milton playing," said Mary Cromwell.
" I would know his touch among a thousand." And then
Cluny blushed a little, and held out a small roll which he
carried in his hand. It contained three fair copies of his



ON THE TIDE TOP



123



own hymn, and Mary delightedly hurried Jane and Frank
away with her to the musician. He turned as they entered
and bowed gravely, and the girls fell at once under the
charm of his music. Mary involuntarily assumed a ma
jestic attitude, Frances ceased her childish titter, Cluny be
came almost severe, and Jane stood in silent delight
while the grand melody filled their souls till they out-
soared the shadow of earth and that unrest which men
miscall delight. " Glory to God ! " he sang, and the
room rang with the lofty notes and seemed full of Presence,
and of flame-like faces, sublime and tender, while the air
vibrated to the final triumphant crescendo, " Glory to God !
Glory to God ! Glory to God in the Highest ! " And in
his beautiful face there was seen for a few moments that
face of the soul wherein God shineth.

Then there was a short pause of spiritual sensitiveness
which was broken by the opening of a door, and all eyes
turning towards it beheld Cromwell standing on the thresh
old. Perhaps he had been listening to Mr. Milton s ecstatic
anthem, for his clear, penetrating eyes were tender and
mystical, and a smile gentle as a woman s softened his
austere mouth. He wore a suit of black cloth with a fall
ing linen collar, stockings of homespun wool which his wife
had knit, and strong shoes fastened with a steel latchet.
But his brown hair, tinged with gray, flowed down upon his
shoulders, and his whole air was that of a man on whom
the eternal dignities of a good and great life had set their
seal. Frances ran to him with a cry of delight. Mary
looked at him with adoring pride, and then put into Mr.
Milton s hand the roll of manuscript Lord Neville had
given her. Jane left her companions and timidly advanced
to meet the Lord General. He saw her in a moment, and
gave her a smile so bright and affectionate that all fear



i2 4 THE LION S WHELP

vanished, and she hastened her steps and the next moment
felt his strong arm draw her to his side.

" Jane," he said tenderly, " Jane Swaffham, I got your
message, and it did me good ; it did indeed. Out of the
mouths of babes often come our sweetest help and comfort.
When I was ill and my heart was troubled for Israel, I
remembered one night the word you sent me by John Ver
ity, and it was very good. I think of it often, Jane, when
in the midst of ill men. Say it now in my own ears, and
let me taste its goodness from your own lips."

Then Jane lifted her eyes to his, and the fiery particle in
them filled her with Cromwell s own faith and courage, and
she said with a fearless fervour, " They shall be able to do
nothing against thee, saith the Lord. My hands shall cover thee"

" Truly God is good, indeed He is, Jane, and you have
been His messenger to me. Let us take this gracious God
at His Word. And if ever I can help you or yours, Jane,
come to me ; I will be as good as my word doubt not.
Let us see what John Milton is going to play for us. I ll
warrant tis my young soldier s hymn, and in my judgment,
a good hymn."

They were advancing; towards the organ as Cromwell

* o o

spoke, and they joined the group around the inspired player.
His trampling notes gave the sensation of charging men
and horses, and of the ministration of angelic hosts. Then
there was a pause, and out of it arose in jubilant praise the
song of triumph on the battle-field :

Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord,

Thine was the Word, and Thine the mighty sword,

Thine be the glory.

We heard Thy call to arms, and understood :
But Thine the hand that wrought in flame and blood,

The splendid story.




"BEHELD CROMWELL STANDING UPON THE THRESHOLD."



ON THE TIDE TOP 125

Not for ourselves, or for this day, we fought,
But for all lands and for all times we wrought

Stormy Salvation :

Thine was the battle, both by land and sea,
Thine was our valour and our victory,

Thine our oblation."

So far, Cluny Neville led the singers, but it was Cromwell s
strenuous, adoring tones that mostly influenced the stirring
chorus

" Not unto us triumphant lauds and lays,
To Him whose name is Wonderful be praise !
Be thanks ! Be glory ! "

The exultant song ceased, but their hearts were yet full of
thanksgiving, and Cromwell walked about the room with
Frances and Jane at his side humming the majestic mel
ody, or breaking out into some line of audible song, until
he finally said,

" I came here for John Milton, whose pen I need, and
I have stayed to sing ; and that is well, for the soul has
wings as well as hands and indeed our souls have had a
good flight heavenward." Then addressing John Milton,
he said,

"We have sundry letters to write, and the plain truth is,
I could wish they were more heavenly. Here is a man to
answer who is playing fast and loose with us, and I will
not have it. He is laying too much weight on my pa
tience ; let him take care that he break it not."

Speaking thus, he walked towards the door, and Jane
marveled at the man. His countenance was changed : all
its wistful tenderness and exaltation had given place to a
stern, steadfast severity ; his voice was sharp, his words



.-26 THE LION S WHELP

struck like caustic, and the homelike, country gentleman
was suddenly clothed with a great and majestic deportment.
He put on his hat as he left the room. And there was the
glint of a gold band round it, and in Jane s mind it gave to
the rugged, broad-hatted grandeur of the man a kind of
mythical authority, for she instantly remembered a picture
of St. George of Cappadocia in de Wick hall which had
the same gold band around the helmet. And ever after
wards she associated in her memory the patron Saint of
England and the great Pathfinder of her people.

Neville left soon after the Lord General, and the girls
had a game of battledore and shuttlecock in the long gal
lery ; then sewing, reading aloud, the evening meal, and
the evening exercise closed the day. The days that followed
were little different ; when the weather permitted there was
a ride in the park, or shopping in Jermyn Street, or a visit
to St. Paul s to hear Dr. Owen, or the great tolerant Mr.
Jeremy Taylor. But Jane thought Dr. Verity need hardly
have given her special counsel against the vanities of such
a life as the Cromwells led. On the whole, she was not
very sorry when her visit was over and she was free to re
turn home. In spite of the frankest kindness, she felt out
of her element. The Cromwells had outgrown their old
friends, and not all their familiarities could dispel the at
mosphere of superiority which surrounded them ; it was un
avoidable and unequivocal, though they were not themselves
conscious of it.

But every happy family takes its tone from the head of
the household, and this conqueror of three Kingdoms, step
ping out grandly to their government from his victorious
battle-fields, impressed something of his own character upon
those so nearly and dearly allied to him. They had been
after his image and likeness at St. Ives and Ely, what won-



ON THE TIDE TOP 127

der if in the palaces of London they took on something of
the roval air which his achievements entitled them to as
sume ? There are friends whose favour we wear as jewels
and ornaments, and there are others whose love will bear
the usage of an every-day garment, and Jane understood that
she must put the Cromwells among those friends reserved
for rare or great occasions.

Then there came to her mind in very sweet fashion the
memory of Matilda de Wick. They had quarreled almost
constantly for years, and Matilda s exacting temper and
sharp tongue had wounded her often ; but for all that she
knew Matilda loved her. Now perfect friendship must be
founded on perfect equality, for though love may stoop
to an inferior, friendship cannot do so without becoming
patronage and offense. But between Matilda and Jane
there was no question of this kind. The Swaffhams were
noble by birth, they needed no title to give them rank. In
their own county they stood among the foremost, and Earl
de Wick had ever been ready to acknowledge the prece
dence of a family so much more ancient than his own.
Besides which, the Swaffhams were very wealthy. Israel
Swaffham had given his eldest daughter on her marriage to
Lord Armingford ten thousand pounds, an immense bridal
gift in those days. So that the question of equality had
never crossed or shadowed the friendship between Jane and
Matilda. Their many quarrels had been about King
Charles, or Oliver Cromwell or Stephen de Wick, for
Matilda was passionately attached to her youngest brother
and she thought Jane Swaffham valued him too little.
With her mind full of kindly thoughts towards Matilda,
Jane returned to her home, and she was delighted to find a
letter from her friend waiting for her.

" It came this very morning," said Mrs. Swaffham,



J2 8 THE LION S WHELP

" and I told the man who brought it you would be
here to-day, and no doubt would answer it forthwith.
Have you had a good visit, Jane ? "

" Yes, mother."

" You wouldn t like to go again just yet, eh, my dear ? "

" No, mother. I do not know why. They were all
very kind to me, and the Lord General wonderfully so
but there was a difference, a change I cannot describe. It
was not that they were less kind "

" I understand. Power changes every one. Open your
letter, I want to know how Matilda is ; her man was so
ippish, I would not ask him a question."

Then Jane laid aside her bonnet and opened her letter.
" She is at Lady Jevery s house, mother, and she longs to
see me, and indeed I am in the same mind. We shall be
sure to quarrel, but then "

" You can both play at that game, and you hold your
own very well. What is the use of a friend if you can t
talk plain and straight to her ? I like Matilda no worse for
her little tempers. I would go to Jevery House in the
morning. Whom did you see at the Cockpit ? "

" Doctor John Owen for one. He has just been made
Chancellor of Oxford, and General Cromwell expects great
things from him. I saw also John Milton, who writes so
beautifully, and he plays the organ like a seraph. And
Doctor Wilkins was there one day, and he talked to us
about his lunarian journey ; and Mr. Jeremy Taylor called,
and we had a little discourse from him; and Mrs. Lambert,
and Mrs. Fleetwood, and Lady Heneage, and Mrs. Fer-
mor, and many others paid their respects. It seemed to
me there was much enforced courtesy, especially between
Mrs. Fleetwood and Mrs. Ireton ; but changes are to be
expected. Mrs. Cromwell and Lady Heneage used to be



ON THE TIDE TOP 129

gossips, and kiss each other before they sat down to talk,
and now they curtsey, and call each other my lady, and
speak of the last sermon, or Conscience Meeting. I saw
Lord Neville several times, but had no private speech with
him ; and I heard Alary Cromwell say there was a purpose
of marriage between him and Alice Heneage."

O o

" Tis very like."

" I do not think so. I am sure he loves me."

" Then he should say so, bold and outright."

j * O

" He said last night he was coming to see my father and

O O J

vou, and though he spoke the words as if they were mere
courtesy, I read in his face the purpose of his visit. Mother,
we shall need your good word with my father."

" I can t go against your father, Jane. I would as soon
take hot coals in my naked hands."

" But you can manage to make father see things as you do."

" Not always. He would have stayed at Swaffham and
minded his own affairs instead of following Oliver Crom
well, if I could have made him see things as I did. Men
know better than women what ought to be done ; they are
the head of the house, and women must follow as they
lead. Your sister Armingford wanted to marry Frederick
Walton, and your father would not hear of such a thing.
You see he was right. Frederick Walton was killed in
battle, and she would have been a widow on her father s and
her father-in-law s hands. You will have to do as your
father says, Jane ; so make up your mind to that. The
SwafFham women have always been obedient and easy to
guide, and it isn t likely you will need bit and bridle."

" I would not endure bit and bridle."

" All I can say is, your father will decide about Lord
Neville. Father keeps his own counsel, and he may have
a purpose already of marrying you to some one else."



1 3 o THE LION S WHELP

" I will not marry any one else."

" Your sister said the same thing, but she married Philip
Armingford ; and now there is no man in the world but
Philip."

u I will marry Cluny Neville or remain a spinster."

" You will in the end do as your father and brothers say."

" What have my brothers to do with my marriage ? "

" A great deal. The men of a family have to meet
about family affairs. It wouldn t do to have some one
among the SwafFhams that the SwafFhams didn t like or
didn t trust. They have always been solid for SwafFham;
that is the reason that SwafFham has done well to SwafFham.
There, now ! say no more about your marriage. It is be
forehand talk, and that kind of discussion amounts to
nothing. It is mostly to go over again. Your father
thinks of buying this house. Parliament has ofFered it
very reasonable to him, in consideration of the service he
and your three brothers have rendered."

" It belonged to Sir Thomas Sandys ? "

"Yes."

" And Parliament confiscated it ? "

"Yes."

" If I were father I would not give a shilling for it. It
will yearn for its own till it gets back to them. If the
King had taken SwafFham, we should yearn for it at the
other side of the world, and some SwafFham would go
back to it, though it were generations after."

" I don t know what you are talking about, Jane. I
suppose the Cromwells live in a deal of splendour."

" Everything is very fine. Mary Cromwell s room has
the walls hung with green perpetuano and tapestries of
Meleager. The standing bed is of carved wood, and the
quilt of Holland striped stufF. There is a large looking-



ON THE TIDE TOP 131

glass in an ebony frame, and many fine chairs and stools,
and her toilet table is covered with silk and lace, and
furnished with gilded bottles of orange-flower water and
rose perfume. All the rooms are very handsome ; Mrs.

Cromwell s

" That is enough. I have often been in Elizabeth

O

Cromwell s room, both in Slepe House and in Ely. I re
member its tent bed and checked blue-and-white curtains !
Well, well it is a topsy-turvy world. You must go and
see Matilda to-morrow. I have been making inquiries
about the Jeverys ; they are what your father calls Trim
mers, neither one thing nor another. Pie is an old soldier,
and has made use of his wounds to excuse him from further
fighting ; and Lady Jevery mingles her company so well
that any party may claim her. A girl so outspoken as her
niece iMatilda will give her trouble."

In the morning Jane was eager to pay her visit, and she
felt sure Matilda was as eager as herself; so an hour before
noon she was on her way to Jevery House. It stood
where the busy tide of commerce and the drama now rolls
unceasingly, close by Drury Lane a mansion nobly placed
upon a stone balustraded terrace, and surrounded by a fine
garden. In this garden the old knight was oftenest found ;
here he busied himself with his flowers and his strawberry
beds, and discoursed with his friend John Evelyn about
roses ; or with that excellent person and great virtuoso,
Mr. Robert Boyle, about his newly invented air pump ; or
thoughtfully went over in his own mind the scheme of the
new banking establishments just opened by the City Gold
smiths : certainly it would be more comfortable to have his
superfluous money in their care than in his own strong
chests but would it be as safe ?

He was pondering this very question in the chill, bare



1 32 THE LION S WHELP

walks of Jevery House when Jane s carnage stopped at
its iron gates. She had been delayed and almost upset in
Drury Lane by the deep mud, so that the noon hour was
striking as Sir Thomas Jevery met and courteously walked
with her to the entrance hall. Here there were a number
of servants, and their chief ushered her into a stately cedar
salon the walls of which were painted with the history of the
Giants war. But she hardly noticed these storied panels,
for above the. mantel there was a picture which immediately
arrested her attention. It was a portrait of Oliver Crom
well, the rugged, powerful face standing out with terrible
force amid the faces of Pym, Laud, Hampden, Strafford and
Montrose. With the countenances of all but Montrose
Jane was familiar, and she regarded this unknown face with
the most intense interest. It was one not to be ignored,
and having been seen, never to be forgotten a face on the
verge of being ugly, and yet so proudly passionate, so true,
so strong that it left on Jane s mind the assurance of a soul
worthy of honour.

She was standing gazing at it and quite oblivious of the
Florentine curtains, the Venetian crystal, and French por
celain, when Delia came hurriedly into the room with an
exclamation of delight. " Oh, Miss Swaffham ! Oh, Miss
Jane ! " she cried. " My lady is impatient to see you.
Will you kindly come to her room ? She has been ill, oh,
very ill ! and you were always the one she called for ! " So
saying, she led Jane up a magnificent stairway lined with
portraits, mostly by Holbein and Vandyke, and they soon
reached Matilda s apartment. As the door opened she rose
and stretched out her arms.

" Baggage ! " she cried with a weak, hysterical laugh.
" You dear little baggage ! You best, truest heart ! How
glad I am to see you ! "



ON THE TIDE TOP 133

And Jane took her in her arms, and both girls cried a lit
tle before they could speak. Matilda was so weak, and
Jane so shocked to see the change in her friend s appear
ance, that for a few moments tears were the only possible



Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 9 of 27)