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The king, seeing some mistake in the unravelling or con-
ception of the plot, good-naturedly commanded the min-
strels to strike up a favourite tune ; at the hearing of
which a number of masks immediately mustered to begin
dancing in the soft and dewy twilight. Amongst the rest
came in Buckingham, negligently attired, and without his
visor.

" I thought thee hidden amongst the maskers," said
the king.

" Ay, my liege, a short space ; — but the night is hot,
and I am something distempered and weary in this tur-
moil."

Buckingham looked flushed and agitated, strangely dif-
fering from his usual manner. It was not unobserved by the
king, who attributed the change to illness.

" Thou shalt continue about our person," said the
monarch. " Jack, see to the sports : — the pageant hath
suffered greatly from thine absence. I do think the
Queen of Beauty hath played thee false."

Buckingham took his usual station by the king ; and Sir
John Finett, in great dolour, went forth in search of his
mistress. He questioned the guests diligently, but could
gain no further tidings, save that she had been seen by
man}' in company with the Silver knight. Every minute
added to his uneasiness : thoughts of a wild and terrible
import haunted him. In vain he tried to shake off these in-
truders — they came like shadows, hoi'rible and indistinct.
His naturally sensitive and sanguine temperament, as
prone to the anticipation of evil as of delight, was a curse,
and not a blessing. Departed hopes may fling a deeper
shadow even on the brow of Despair ! — and rayless was the
night which visited his spirit. It was now too evident —
I 2



116 HOGHTON TOWER.

for he was no novice in the science — that his admiration
had awakened one dormant but hallowed affection, long
lulled in the soft lap of pleasure. The maiden, with
whom it was his sole aim to pass a few hours of pleasantry
and amusement, had enthralled him by so sudden a spell,
that he was more than half inclined to believe in the
boasted skill and exploits of the sex, which has rendered
Lancashire so famous. Her unaccountable absence im-
pressed itself strangely upon his thoughts. He was in
love ! — and he writhed at the discovery ; but he would
have given worlds just then to have proclaimed it at his
mistress's feet.

Scarcely conscious how the night wore on, he was
obliged to act his part. Supper was announced ; and he
took his station where he could see the guests unmask as
they entered to the banquet.

The tables were nearly filled, but the Silver knight and
his fair lady were still absent. Grace Gerard is doubtless
in her own chamber, was the host's reply to some enquiry
from Sir John : — she had craved excuse from some slight
indisposition. But this did not satisfy him to whom it was
addressed : he suspected her chamber would be found un-
occupied ; — his heart felt wasted and desolate ; — it was
as if the whole fair face of Nature were blotted out, — the
light being gone which rendered it visible.

" What ho !" said the king, " bring my Sienna knight
a cup of hot sack and a merry-thought, for he seems
melancholic and watchful — a wary eye, but a silent
tongue. — Sir John, are your wits a wool-gathering with
your Queen ? "

" I am in my widowhood, most gracious prince, — my
Queen having departed."



I



HOGHTON TOWER. 117

" More fool thou, to fling thy heart after thy wits.
Come, honest Jack, we'll have some minstrelsy after the
feast, — a merry troll and a short one."

Sir John was well skilled in handling the lute and
rebeck. He had been early trained to their use ; and many
a kind glance and tender word he had won thereby.

The feast was over, and those hushed halls thrilled to
the following ditty : —

I.
" They bade me sing, they bade me smile.
They bade my heart be gay ;
They call'd my spirit forth, to while

The laughing hours away.
I've sung, I've smiled: where'er my path

Mirth's dazzling meteors shine ;
All hearts have own'd its magic power,
And all are glad but mine.

II.

" I've soothed the darkest surge of woe,

And many a bosom bless'd;
Forbade the sufferer's tear to flow.

And brought the weary rest :
I've pour'd upon the bleeding heart

The balm of Hope, — the shrine
Where holier, happier thoughts shall dwell ; —

But who shall gladden mine?

III.

" Forgive ; 'tis but one short complaint.

One pang I would reveal :
The vvretch upon the torturing rack

Is not forbid to feel !
Then laugh, — let merry hearts to-night

Tlieir brightest wreaths entwine :
The flowers that bloom on every breast

Will, withering, fade on mine ! " *

* See Note at the end.
I 3



118 HOGHTOX TOWER.

Many were the bright eyes glittering on him through
their long silken lashes ; but Sir John looked downward,
— diligently noting something extraordinary in the dispo-
sition of his shoe-roses, or in the tie of his garter.

" One raven will set another croaking," said Sir George.

" That we may escape a concert so detestable," cried
out Buckingham, " let Sir John Finett follow me, and we
will reel with our fair dames, until cares whirl off like
sling-stones.'"

" And may he that tires first, fiddle the witches' jig,"
said the sapient king.

A burst of harsh music followed, and Sir John's feebly-
tinkling strings were thrown aside. Never had he wished
so anxiously for one short hour of quietness ; and right fain
he was when the king retired to his chamber. His duties
for that day were over, and he strolled out from the hot
and oppressive atmosphere into a calm quiet moonlight.
The cool breeze came like a healing balm upon his spirit,
the soft dew fell upon his cheek, — but the fire in his veins
burnt fiercely. His mistress's form, her face, the sweet in-
fluence of her smile, were fixed indelibly on his heart.
Away from the bustle and cares of office, — which, Uke
waves on the surface, for a while effaced their image, —
the whole beauteous impression was revealed before him
in all its loveliness and truth. His heart bounded at the
thought : — it was but for a moment. Again he stood,
hopeless and desolate, gazing upon the soft mist-wreath
in the valley, as though expecting it would render up the
form of his beloved.

Suddenly the short swift steps of a steed were heard
hurrying up the avenue. A horseman approached the



IIOGHTON TOWER. 119

gateway : it was his friend, the soi-disant knight of the
Silver mantle !

"How now, We'don! *" — whither have thy unlucky
familiars carried thee? Hast thou bestridden the enchanted
horse, or wert thou bidden to a witch-feast?"

" I have been to Myerscough with your message, — and
the pains I have had for my labour,"

" My message !" said Sir John with amazement : " I
sent thee on no other errand than to guard the lady,
whom thou hast either made away with, or she hath slip-
ped from thine hold."

" You are pleasant. Sir John. Your tricks are well
enough in court-hours. Come, be serious, and tell me
thou hast had a fool's errand out of me."

" I never was more serious in my life, Weldon, I do
vouch, as my head shall swing safely on its pivot. But
who gave thee a message, — and to whom ? "

" To our fair hostess at Myerscough. Thy page thrust
a scrap of writing into my hand after prayers. The
request was, that I should see the accompanying billet
safely delivered, and with mine own hand, without loss of
time. It was one of your curiously-folded fantastic love-
billets, as I thought. Knowing I could well be spared



* This person is supposed to be the writer of a curious satire, Harl.
MSS. 5191, called a Description of Scotland. Weldon's name is not
attached to it in the MS., but it is duly ascribed to him by Sir Walter
Scott, in his description of Holyrood chapel, in the " Antiquities
of Scotland." Sir Anthony Weldon accompanied the king into Scot-
land; but that he returned with him is not so certain, one of his letters
saying he should return by sea. By this, however, may be under,
stood his return to the court at Edinburgh, having had leave of ab-
sence to visit his friends in London,
I 4.



120 HOGHTON TOWER.

hence, I immediately took horse, and came in a bath of
foam to the lady ; but when she opened her pretty token,
she drew herself erect with great majesty. ' Tell Sir
John Finett,' said she, ' that when he next sends thee forth
on his fooleries, to choose another butt ; to shoot his
arrows where they will stick, or his goose-feathers may fly
back again.' "

Horror almost deprived Sir John of utterance. That
some foul play had been meditated, and in all probability
accomplished, was but too plain ; but how, or by whom,
was inscrutable as ever.

The page was straitly questioned ; but he merely said
that his message M-as given him by some person he did not
recognise in the crowd at the chapel-doors, who said he
was to seek Weldon forthwith, and deliver him the papers
from his master. What course to adopt, or where to
begin their search, were questions alike embarrassing and
impossible to answer. In the end, they determined to lay
the matter before the king on the morrow.

It may be needful to go back a short space to " The
Bower of Beautie," wherein the knight of the silver mantle,
having safely ensconced himself, as the reader may remem-
ber, the arras was let down ; after which, being wheeled
away to their destination, they were to await for the com-
mencement of the masque. But the Silver knight, lifting
up the curtain, observed they were much too early for the
performance, and courteously entreated the lady that she
would alight. The evening was hot, and the bower close
and oppressive. An hour might, in all probability, elapse
ere their presence would be required. Grace, trusting to
her companion, quitted the car, strolling out amongst the
masks. Gradually they left the main crowd, unconsciously



HOGHTON TOWER. 121

approaching the steep brow of the hill, where, looking
towards the east, they beheld the broad red moon swinging
out from the blue horizon. The loud hum of the revellers
came softly and pleasantly on the ear. It was an hour of
quietness and delight — a few hasty, happy moments
snatched from these gaudy hours — the pomp and circum-
stance of life. Would that Sir John had been here in lieu of
his friend ! thought Grace. No, she did not think so, — but
she felt as though such a thought might have been nursed
into being with little effort. They were now stealing down
the hill, and the dark waters of the Orr were leaping and
bubbling at their feet.

" We must return," said the maiden, looking up, alarmed
at seeing, for the first time, that they were cut off from all
connection and intercourse with their companions. Her
attendant was a perfect stranger, except m name, and
though counselled to rely implicitly on his care, by the
master of the ceremonies himself, she felt her situation
embarrassing and unpleasant.

" And why must we return ?" said the mask. The tone
startled her : its expression was now soft and beseeching,
as though he had before spoken in a masked voice.

" Wliy !" said she, looking as though she would have
pierced through his disguise.

'•' Nay, whet not thy glance so keenly. I am not what
I seem, — and yet am not unseemly."

" Your jests had been better timed had they taken a
fitter season. — I must hence."

" Go not, my beauteous Queen," said the stranger,
taking her hand, which she dashed from her with indigna-
tion and alarm. She was darting up the crag, but was
again detained.



122 HOGHTON TOWER.

" I will worship thee : — thou shalt be my star, — the
axle of my thoughts. All "

" Unhand me, sir, — or I'll call those who have the
power to punish, as well as to humble thy presumption !"

" Whom wilt thou call, my pretty lamb ? The wolf?
The snake is scotched in the bower, and I but beseech thy
gratitude. How that look of scorn becomes thee ! Pout
not so, my Queen, or thou wilt indeed make an excuse for
my rudeness."

" How ! Again this insult ? — Begone, or thou shalt rue
that ever thy thought escaped thy tongue. I'll report thee
to thy betters."

" My betters ! and who be they, maiden ? Thou knowest
me not, perdie. Hath not Sir John Finett shorn his love-
locks and eschewed thy service, after leaving thy bower
the other night ? "

This taunt raised her indignation to a blaze ; — her
bosom swelled at the rebuke.

StUl he retained her hand — with the other she clung to
a withered tree, whose roots held insecurely by the rock.
Making another effort, she sprung from his grasp ; but the
tree was rent from its hold, and she fell with it to the edge
of the precipice. Ere the Silver knight could interpose, a
faint shriek announced her descent, — a swift crash was
heard amongst the boughs and underwood, — a groan and a
rebound. He saw her disappear behind a crag. Then
came one thrilling moment of terror, one brief pause
in that death-like stillness, and a heavy plunge was heard
in the gulf below ! He listened — his perceptions grew
more acute — eye and ear so painfully susceptible, and
their sensibility so keen, that the mind scarcely distin-
guished its own reactions from realities — from outward



HOGHTON TOWER. 123

impressions on the sense. He thought he heard the
gurgle and the death-throe. Then the pale face of the
maiden seemed to spring out from the abyss. He rushed
down the precipice. Entangled in the copse-wood and
bushes, some time elapsed ere he gained the narrow path
below. He soon found, as in most other situations, the
shortest road the longest — that the beaten track would
have brought him quicker to his destination ; but these
nice calculations were forgotten. All pranked out and
bedizened as he was, the puissant knight plunged into the
gulf, — but his exertions were fruitless, and he gave up the
search. His love for the maiden living and breathing did
not prompt him to drown himself for her corpse. With
hasty steps he regained the Tower, where he doffed his
dripping garments unobserved.

Sir John Finett, by advice from his friend Weldon, de-
termined on acquainting their host with the lady's disap-
pearance. They had a shrewd suspicion that Bucking-
ham was the contriver of this daring outrage ; though
from his great power, influence, and audacity, they had
every thing to fear and but little to hope from the result.
Yet no time should be lost in the attempt.

As they entered the hall. Sir Gilbert Hoghton and
several of the guests were still making merry after the
feast. Calling him aside, they communicated the dis-
mal tidings.

" Grace Gerard a missing, say ye?"

" 'Tis even so," said Sir John : " we have yet no clue
to the search ; but this night shall not pass without the
attempt, at any rate. In the morning we will to the king
with our complaint."



124 HOGHTON TOWER.

" Boy," said the baronet to his Httle henchman, " go
to the woman's suite, and rouse Grace Gerard's maid."

" The woman was in the kitchen some half hour agone,
conveying her mistress a warm draught, or some such
puUng diet," said the page.

" Haste," cried Sir John impatiently, marveUing at this
unexpected intelligence, — " the lad is blinded by some
misapprehension. I'll forfeit my best jewel she is not in
her chamber. This interlude works i'the plot — part of
the trickery now enacting."

But the page made a quick return.

" What news ?" said Finett.

" The lady is gone to rest ; something discomposed
though, and out of spirits. So says her maiden, whom I
would have questioned more straitly, but she rebuked me
sharply for my impertinence."

" Pray you send and question her," said Sir John.

" Nay," returned Sir Gilbert, smiling, " I'll be bound
the lady is safe ; and her maiden has other guess-matters
to look to than letting out the secrets of her mistress's
chamber."

They were obliged to rest satisfied, or rather unsatis-
fied, with this answer. But the mystery was more and
more inexplicable. Either some laughable mistake or
some deep-laid villany was intended. Sir John dared not
pursue the subject to this extremity. He felt assured of
her purity and honour. Her manners, so confiding and
unsuspicious, showed a heart unacquainted with guile.

After a sleepless night Sir John arose, feverish and un-
refi-eshed. He threw open the window of his chamber,
which looked into the court-yard. Near a side postern
stood a grey palfrey, caparisoned for a lady's use, and im-



HOGHTON TOWER. 125

patiently awaiting its burden. The hour was too early for
morning rambles, but the beast was evidently equipped for
a journey. Two other steeds were now led forth, as if for
the attendants. He caught a glimpse of Grace Gerard's
maid, who seemed, by her dress, to be of the party whose
movements he was so anxious to ascertain. He suspected
this sudden departure was for the purpose of escaping
without his observance. He hurried towards the stairs :
just entering the corridor, he met Grace Gerard. She
was evidently confused at his appearance. It was but for
a moment : her spirit grappled with the occasion ; and
she replied firmly, and with becoming dignity, to his
questions.

"Whither away, our beauteous Queen?" said he, bowing
almost to the ground. " Are you bound for some isle of
the Western Ind, getting the start of Phcebus in his nightly
race to those gem-bearing climes ? Methinks the sun is
departing from us, though but just risen."

" 'Tis my purpose to depart. Sir John. This clime is

too bright, and its beams too fervid, for a lady's eye."

" One word in sober speech : — Wherefore?

" I know your question. Sir John. Time hastens, and

I reply. Your knight of the Silver mantle I proclaim a

recreant, as treacherous as he is base. Sir John, for my

— no, for your own sake "

" Another stole into his place," said he, interrupting
her with great eagerness. " A base-born changeling ! —
some villain, who, under this disguise, abused our ho-
nourable intent. But say, peerless princess, to whose
prowess we owe your rescue ?"

" 'Tis my first venture into the unhallowed limits of
your licentious court; and, through the grace that hath



126



HOGHTON TOWER.



preserved me harmless, I here resolve it shall be my
last. By your instructions, Sir John, I relied implicitly
on the protection of your friend. He would fain have
abused his trust, but I escaped from the offered insult.
Struggling to free my hand from his grasp, by yonder
hill-side, I lost my footing. I fell down the steep unhurt.
Fear lent me unwonted strength, and I escaped unseen,
round the narrow pathway. My discourteous knight
thought, doubtless, I had tumbled into the roaring abyss ;
for the night-mist hung below, and I heard a huge frag-
ment of rock, loosened in my descent, plunge into the
dimly-rolling waters. Now, hear me : my resolve is taken,
and no earthly influence or persuasion shall stay me. I
was bewildered, yet flattered by your follies : foolish and
thoughtless enough to frolick and flutter on the very
brink of a precipice. I was dazzled by the glittering but
dangerous excitement. Conscience spoke ; but I durst
not listen. My course of life hitherto has been through
scenes of gentleness and peace, and I could not look on
your bustle and dissipation without alarm. Yet was I
persuaded to mingle in your sports yesterday — that day
hallowed by the last fiat of its Creator, wherein the soul,
freed awhile from the cares of earth, may prostrate itself
in homage before Him who said, " It is mine ! " Justly
punished for trifling with my better thoughts, my escape
shall not be without its acknowledgment."

Sir John was silent. She stood before him like some
purer, brighter thing than could be deemed akin to this
polluted earth.

" Those siren waves were bearing me on to the gulf,

where " She paused a moment, shuddering at the

dark retrospect of the past.



HOGHTON TOWER. 127

" Where all your pomp and pageantry will be over-
whelmed, and yourselves, for ever, in the same irre-
trievable ruin ! "

Sir John looked uneasy, and his eye wandered, as if in
search of some object wherewith to throw off these gloomy
anticipations. The maiden again spoke:

" It seemed as though a veil, invisible heretofore, were
suddenly undrawn. The glory and the baseness, the
splendour and the pollution, were at once revealed. The
hand unseen had drawn it aside. I would now shun — I
hope for ever — these paths of folly ; and I bid farewell to
your pleasures without a murmur or a regret."

Sir John, courtier though he was, ardently and will-
ingly rendering homage at the shrine of pleasure and
dissipation, was awe-struck. Conscience echoed a fearful
response ; and he shrunk before the reproof he could not
shun.

" Without regret ! " said he, faltering and abashed.
" I had hoped — perhaps wished, — but it was too pre-
sumptuous. My purest thoughts would have sullied so
pure a shrine."

" Stay, Sir John ; though the confession be humbling to
a maiden's pride, yet my heart tells me 'tis the last time
we meet ; and it is the only acknowledgment, — I render
it to your honesty and good faith." Her voice grew he-
sitating and tremulous. " There was a tendril twining
about my heart ; but it is wrung off, and I am again
— alone ! "

Her heart was full, and her whole frame convulsed by
some overpowering emotion. An adieu died upon her
lips; but she resolutely refused any further communication
Hastening to the court-yard, she mounted her little white



128 HOGHTON TOWER.

palfry, and quitted for ever those fascinating and dan-
gerous allurements, which, having once felt, few have had
the power to withstand.

We need scarcely add, that, amid the gaieties and splen-
dours by which the lover was enthralled, the recollection
of Grace Gerard sometimes mingled in the revelries of
this votary of pleasure. It often came as a warning and a
rebuke. By degrees the impression grew less powerful.
Each succeeding wave from the ever-tossing ocean left
the traces less distinct, until they were overwhelmed in
the dull tide of oblivion.



I



NOTE ON THE BALLAD, p. 117.

The music to these words is traditionary, if we may be allowed
the expression. It is one of the many wild and characteristic melo-
dies floating about, perhaps unappropriated, on the popular breath,
varied indefinitely according to the humour of the performer. The
author has listened to several of these ditties : some of them he thinks
peculiar to this and the neighbouring counties. They are generally
sung by the labouring classes, and would, in many cases, defy any
attempt to commit them to writing, being apparently founded upon a
ratio of tones and semitones at variance with our diatonic scale. From
this we might almost be led to imagine some truth in the theory that
the ancients had different scales peculiar to their different moods ; a
theory, which, however impossible it may be considered, is not without
its advocates, who will perhaps not be displeased to find here some
slight confirmation of their opinions. Yet in these songs the pre-
vailing character of the minor key may generally be detected, which,



UOGHTON TOWER. 129

from its being imperfect, and probably vitiated by the mistakes of these
rustic melodists, may give a colour to the notion of a change in the
scale.

Tlie great antiquity of these melodies is unquestionable, audit would
be an interesting enquiry to trace them back tlirougli remote ages, per-
haps to the Jewish temple and the tent of the patriarchs. The author
has found in them a strong resemblance to the Hebrew music, sounds
which, since the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and the destruction
of their temple, 606 B.C., and in consequence of musical instruments
being afterwards forbidden, they have clung to with increased tenacity,
preserving their ancient melodies, and bequeathing them by memory
from one generation to another with the same jealous care that a miser
would his treasure, and as the last melancholy relics of a " kingdom
passed away."

Algarotti says " Those airs alone remain for ever engraven on the
memory of the public, that paint images to the mind, or express the
passions, and are for that reason called the speaking airs, because more
congenial to nature, which can never be justly imitated but by a beau-
tiful simplicity, that will always bear away the palm from tlie most
laboured refinement of art. "

The author has ventured to give the following air, which he fancies
would almost suggest the words of the song to which Sir John Finett
is supposed to have appropriated it. As we have before mentioned, the
tune is traditionary, possessing some of the peculiar characteristics


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