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and inherent principle, not extinct though often dormant,
— a deference to superiority, whether of intellect or sta-
tion — rendered him for awhile mute and inoffensive. It is
even said that he made a sort of half conscious obeisance ;
but his mind misgiving him during the offence, which


smote him on the sudden as an act of homage and idol-
atrous veneration, he breathed out a very audible prayer.

" Pardon thy servant in this matter, even if I have
bowed in the house of Rimmon." As he said this, he
threw himself back, Hfting his narrow eyes towards the
ceiHng ; then thrusting out his hand with the despatch at
arm's length, he was striding forward, but Ogle intervened
ere he had made his way to the countess.

" With all courtesy, friend," said he, " these commu-
nications must proceed from the officer on duty."

With great gallantry and respect the captain presented
it to his mistress.

" Eye-service and will-worship ! " growled Gideon. " 'Tis
like your vain and popish idolatry and the like, through
the ministry of saints, even to a woman, vain and sinful as
yourselves. 1 would as soon commit my prayers to the
angel of the bottomless pit ! "

Her ladyship had broke open the seals. Her eye
kindled as she spoke. —

" Thou hadst thy reward were we to hang thee up at

the gate Yet art thou but a foolish instrument in the

hands of this traitor Rigby ; and we do not punish the
weapon, but him that wields it."

Now Gideon finding himself moved by natural heat and
choler, and mistaking this wrath for a righteous indigna-
tion, thought himself surely called upon to reprove these
unrighteous ones for their iniquities. His body fell into
the usual disposition for an harangue. — His eyes rolled
upwards, and his whole frame swung to and fro whilst the
exhortation was preparing. To his great mortification,
however, the lady quitted the room, leaving word for them
to follow her to the hall.

p 3


The preacher was greatly chagrined, when his eyes re-
sumed their office, to find himself almost thrust out and
on his way back to the guard-chamber. A number of
soldiers and domestics were here assembled. Lady Derby
with her chaplain, steward, and captains, ranged on each
side, stood at the higher end of the chamber.

Silence was commanded, whilst she read aloud the

" And this, — and this, my answer !" said she, tearing
the paper as she spoke, and throwing the fragments in-
dignantly from her.

" Tell that insolent rebel, he shall neither have our per-
sons, our goods, nor yet this house, — When our strength
and provision be spent, we shall find a fire more merciful
than Rigby ; and then, if the providence of God prevent
it not, my goods and house shall burn in his sight : —
myself, children, and soldiers, rather than fall into his
hands, will seal our religion and loyalty in the same
flame ! "

A loud shout burst through the assembly, who, with
one general voice, cried out,

" We will die for his majesty and your honour : — God
save the king ! "

Gideon's countenance grew terrible, and he seemed
as though suffering under some violent excitement.
Lifting up his hand, he was about to thunder forth ana-
themas and denunciations, the dealing out of which,
strange to say, most parties agree in reserving to them-
selves. Even men whose honesty and single-heartedness
we cannot doubt — who have boldly defended our rights
and liberties against religious tyranny and intolerance —
have still arrogated to themselves exclusively the control


of opinions and modes of belief: — wielding the terrors of
Heaven where the arm of Omnipotence can alone be felt;
their efforts futile andineflPectual, as though a feeble worm
were attempting to grasp the quiver, — to launch the bolt
and the arrow from the skies.

But Gideon's purpose was again frustrated : the impious
idolaters, refusing to listen, blindfolded him, before he was

But his spirit kindled suddenly, and he cried aloud,
" Yet shut your eyes wilfully, and go blindfold to your
destruction : — To-moiTow these walls in which ye trust,
this Egypt in whom your soul delighteth, shall be as
Sodom. Brimstone and fire shall devour you ; and they
that flee from it shall not escape ! "

Gideon and his threats were, however, speedily thrust
out at the gates, and the answer transmitted through
him, was faithfully reported to the council.

Though this heroic woman was not daunted, yet she
saw her soldiers were, at times, dispirited, by reason of the
expected succours so long delayed. The mortar-piece,
too, which, if it had been well managed, was sufficient to
have laid the fortress in ruins, was an object of daily
terror and annoyance.

One of the MS. journals states*, "The litle ladyeshad
stomack to digest cannon ; but the stoutest souldiers had
noe hearts for granadoes, and might not they att once free
themselves from the continuall expectac'on of death ?"

Her ladyship was well aware that inactivity is, of all
things, the most dangerous and dispiriting to the soldier.

* Harkian MSS.2043.

p 4


wlio, used to the bustle and array of camps, doth fear
nothing so much as a quiet home and winter quarters.

It was needful that something should be done, some
decisive blow struck; for, according to the historian,
" Chaunges of tymes are the most fitt for brave attempts,
and delayes they are dangerous, where softnes and quyet-
nes draweth more danger than hazarding rashly."

" A hard choice either to kill or be killed;" but such
was their case. The Countess therefore proposed, that the
next morning, a little while after day-break, they should
make a sortie ; and though ordnance was planted against
every passage, yet that they should sally forth, and stake
their all upon one desperate throw.

On the 26th April, about four o'clock, before sunrise,
the action commenced. Captain Chisnall and Captain
Fox, with Lieutenants Brettargh, Penketh, Walthew,
and Worrall, were appointed for the service. Captain
Ogle had the main-guard to secure a retreat at the
southern gate, while Rawsthorne had the charge of the
sally-gate to secure a retreat on the eastern side. Cap-
tain Ratcliffe had the command of the marksmen and
musketeers on the walls, while Farmer, with the reserve,
stood ready at the parade, to relieve any of them in case
of necessity. All things being ready, Captain Chisnall
and two lieutenants issued out at the eastern sally-port.
The morning favoured their attempt, being wet and foggy,
so that before he was discovered he got completely under
their cannon, marching immediately upon the scouts
where the enemy had planted their great gun.

" It cost him a light skirmish to gain the fort : at last
hee entered ; many slayne, some prisoners, and some es-
caping. Now by the command of that battery, the retreate


being assured, Capt Foxe seconds him w'h much bra-
very, beateing upon their trenches from the easterne to
the south-west point, till bee came to the work w^*^ se-
cur'd the morter-peece, w^'i being guarded w'l' 50 men,
hee found sharpe service, forceing his way through
muskett and cannon, and beateing the enemy out of the
sconce w'** stones, his muskett, by reason of the high
worke, being unserviceable. After a quarter of an houres
hard service, his men gott the trench and scal'd the
rampier, where many of the enemy fledd, the rest were
slayne. The sconce, thus won, was made good by a
squadron of musketteers, which much annoyed the enemy,
attempting to come upp agayne. The 2 maine works thus
obtained, the two captaynes w^*^ ease walked the rest of
the round, whilst Mr. Broome, w'"^ a companye of her
lapps servants and some fresh souldiers, had a care to
levell the ditch, and by a present devise, with ropes lifting
the morter-peece to a low dragge, by strength of men
drew it into the house, Capt. Ogle defending the pas-
sage ag' another companye of the enemye which play'd
upon their retreate. The like endeavour was used to
gayne theire greate gunnes ; but lying beyond the ditch,
and being of such bulke and weight, all our strength could
not bringe them off before the whole army had fallen
upon us ; however our men tooke tyme to poyson all the
canon round, if any thing will doe the feate, Capt.
Rawstorne still defending the first passe ag' some offers of
the enemy to come up by the wood."

It was near the conclusion of this affray, as Mr. Broome,
the steward, and several of his helpers, were encompassing
the great dragon which had so often vomited forth fire


and smoke upon them, intending to carry it away captive,
that they heard a voice from the breach below : —

"Hold, ye uncircumcised : — I will make your house
desolate, and the glory thereof shall be turned into ashes."

The mortar was ready charged, and they beheld Gideon,
with a Hghted match, springing towards them. Several of
the men drew aside in dismay ; but as Providence willed
it, he was prevented from his purpose, the light being
struck from his hand, and himself tumbled backwards into
a deep and muddy ditch, extinguishing both light and life
apparently together. But he arose, and would have run
a tilt at them in this unsavoury condition, had he not been
caught by one of his enemies, who waggishly exclaimed,

" Let us yoke this great Amalekite to the gun. He'll
help us well over the ditch."

This goodly piece of advice was not neglected ; and
the unhappy Gideon, fastened between two yoke fellows,
was dragged on by main force, the hindmost threatening
to shoot him if he made any resistance.

In vain did he cry out for vengeance upon them. His
gods were deaf — no miracle was wrought for his deliver-
ance ; and though he would have called down fire from
heaven upon his adversaries, the thunders he impiously
desired, died harmless on his own tongue.

We again quote the words of the journal : — ■

" This action continued an houre, with the loss of two
men on our part, who, after they were mortally wounded,
still fired upon the enemy, till all retreating. What num-
ber of the enemy were slain it is not easy to guesse. Be-
sides the execuc'on done in their trenches, Capt. Far-
mours and Capt. Rattcliffes reserves, w''' the best marks-
men, played upon them from the walls with much slaughter.


as they quitt theire holds. Our men brought in many
armes, three drums, and but five prisoners, preserved by
Capt. Chisnall to shew that he had mercy as weh as
valour. One of theese was an assistant to their engineere,
Browne, who discovered to us the nature of their trench,
in which they had laboured two monthes to draw away
our water. Theire first designe was to drayne and open
our springs, not considering theire rise from a higher
ground south-east from the house, w

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Online LibraryJohn RobyTraditions of Lancashire (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 20)