INSCRIBED TO HIS GRACE THE
DUKE OF BUCCLEUGH.
BY ANNA MARIA JOHNSON,
AUTHOR OF CALISTA, A NOVEL, &c.
Mark but my fall, and that which ruin’d me.
——————————Fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels: how can man, then,
(The poor weak image of his Maker) hope
To win by it. SHAKSPEARE.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR W. LANE, LEADENHALL STREET.
IN one of those wild and almost desolate islands, called the HEBRIDES, situated in the northern parts of Scotland—whose shores are washed by an ungovernable ocean—stood the remains of a castle—once the defence of its warlike and independant possessors, as well as the terror of those besiegers who, in conformity to the opinions of their barbarous ancestors, sought the extirpation of every Clan against whom they maintained a settled and invariable enmity, and who had vainly attempted not only to overthrow its lofty battlements, but raze from its deep foundations a structure that bid defiance to every assailant but ONE—before whom even the Babylonian palaces have bowed their heads, and by whom every trace of the stately edifices, pensile gardens, and all those various scenes of luxurious grandeur that rendered the proud city remarkable to a proverb, were totally destroyed.
THIS enemy, by his slow, undermining, yet certain power, had nearly demolished the towers of this venerable building, destroyed the walls, and mouldered away even the mighty buttresses erected for their support.—Around were scattered several fragments of its ancient ornaments; and, crumbling into the dust, lay the once solid cement which had united those vast stones that choaked up the grand entrance with their broken particles.
THE wide destructive fosse upon the land side, half filled with rubbish, no longer deterred the daring Highlander, by its yawning horrors, from exploring its subterraneous extent;—no longer the chevaux de frize defended, with their ruinous points, the counterscarp.
THE portcullis—that once threatened, by its sharp and massy bars, to destroy the gallant and courageous warrior—had long remained in a situation utterly inimical to the possibility of doing any service, or even of a removal—while the ponderous gates, by their own gravity, had torn away the immense hinges on which they long had rusted. Every avenue, but one, presented the dreary prospect of weeds, brambles, and stunted trees, covered with coarse moss, giving a still more melancholy cast to a scene perfectly wild and romantic in itself.
A CASTLE—sinking into irremediable ruin, part fallen to the earth, part projecting over the edge of a rock, and frowning tremendously upon the deep—black, rugged, nodding in the eye of Fancy over the foaming surge, which forced up against the yet strong foundation the restless gravel, that perpetually ran back with a rumbling noise, when deserted by the retiring wave—A castle thus placed in a vast and dreary moor, surrounded by hills higher than that on which it stood—in whose environs the benighted Caledonian could not enjoy an hour’s repose—where thorns and thistles only promised an uneasy couch—could not encourage the hope of protection, or excite a wish to examine its interior apartments, from any certainty of meeting a human creature;—yet, with all these inhospitable appearances—with all these repulsive marks of desolation and solitude—this ancient abode of warriors was inhabited by innocence, heroism and integrity:—even Benevolence, from the western turret, which had not so violently suffered from the ravages of Time, and afforded a comfortable shelter to its harmless inmates—held out the sweet and social invitation:—even Love, and every softened grace, found refuge in the patrimony of DONALD BRUCE—a descendant of that heroic Scotsman EDWARD BRUCE—who in earlier times had, by continual wars, ascertained his title to the Scottish crown; but, overcome by mightier contending powers, was obliged to give up the pretensions he could no longer maintain;—while the arbitrary and unjustifiable claims of BALIOL met with that encouragement from EDWARD, King of England, which for a time fixed him in the possession of BRUCE’S rights.—This unconquered hero—though outwardly professing to resign the privileges his family had enjoyed—secretly determined again to make head against the usurper. He did—but driven from all his strong holds, and following the ill fortune of his royal progenitor, was totally defeated at Bannock’s Burn—and in 1330, fell a sacrifice to the prejudiced Hibernians—losing his head in a foreign country, for striving to achieve that, which should have secured him the esteem and confidence of his own.
THE noble DONALD, inheriting the independant principles of his great progenitors, prefered a dreary residence in the island of Sky, and an undisputed authority over his vassals, to all the advantages he might justly derive from the loyal services his gallant son, ARTHUR, had performed for CHARLES the Second—who had just recovered, by General MONK’S successful manoeuvres, the sovereignty of England, and the possession of a throne, from which an unhappy parent had been driven to scenes of blood and death.
MODERATE, though highly just in his sentiments, and sincerely impressed with true patriotism, untinctured by enthusiasm, BRUCE had long seen and lamented the distress and misery CHARLES the First was bringing upon himself—his family and country—by his arbitrary adherence to tenets incompatible with the freedom of a Briton—and equally condemned those rigid Covenanters, who aimed to explain away and reduce the rights of Majesty, to a degree that should make a monarchieal government little superior to the shadow of power. The death of that mistaken, though highly injured sufferer, confirmed DONALD in his resolution of ending his days in a retirement, where ambition, pride and luxury had no support to swell their vague or criminal claims—where the calm enjoyment of a well ordered life was not empoisoned by a slavish dependance upon the will of despotism, or an unbounded and licentious gratification of indulged passions;—and though the soft, enervating melody of the flute lulled not his senses to indolence—or the martial drum and trumpet awakened not in his soul the wish of slaughtering his fellow creatures—yet this primitive Scotsman was gratified by that kind of harmony which, to ears tuned to its rough and sonorous notes, gave the most ample satisfaction. His morning repast of eggs, milk, and honey, received additional zest from being accompanied by the national and customary amusement of the bagpipe; and he would look with a partial delight upon the piper’s diurnal revolutions round his hall, which resounded with songs of EDWARD BRUCE’S triumphs—or, changed to a slow and melancholy tone, breathed a mournful dirge to the memory of that unfortunate hero.
ANOTHER source of happiness, deduced from the exercise of benevolence, supplied his worthy heart with themes of thanksgiving—to that Power who had expanded his soul with the desire of doing good, and the opportunity of reducing that desire into practice.
THE unhappy Royalists, who were scattered over the face of the earth, and deprived of every means to preserve those lives they had so nobly ventured in support of a banished Monarch’s cause, claimed privately from DONALD BRUCE the services of friendship—whose lonely, and apparently desolate habitation, promised a certain protection to those who knew the worth of its owner.
MONTROSE, HAMILTON, MIDDLETON, HOLLAND, CAPEL, with many more, were indebted to his humanity for pity and relief;—and though that relief but transiently prolonged their lives—as the interest of the unhappy CHARLES again called forth their warmest endeavours to assist him, and they were soon after sacrificed to the fury of the commonwealth—yet to the last moment they acknowledged the philanthropy of the generous DONALD, by whom they had been succoured.
EVEN the heir of England’s throne had tasted this loyal subject’s bounty!—fatigued, deserted, driven from his native home—his father slaughtered—his friends rendered amenable to the laws—mother, sisters, brothers, all fled, and fostered by strangers in foreign courts—himself a wandering, wretched exile, disguised as a peasant, and pleading at the door of indigence for the morsel due to the commonest vagrant—even he, directed by Providence, and cautiously rambling about the northern islands, experienced at Bruce Castle the noblest offices of sacred allegiance:—But when fortune had once more wasted him to the height of her unsteady wheel—the heir of England’s throne—forgot, in the luxuries of a palace, the plain yet plentiful diet to which poverty and hunger then gave a sweetness, that the profusion of a splendid table could never after supply. Lost in the delights of sensuality, and too weak to bear the amazing and almost unhoped for change, he considered only the indulgence of those inordinate desires which necessity had but chilled, without eradicating;—and, by torturing the imagination to invent new modes of plenary gratification, destroyed the effect he aimed to promote. The rose of health was faded by the stifling heat of sordid appetite—and the calm, soothing reflections of a satisfied conscience, supplied by the turbulent workings of an unquiet mind.
BUT though DONALD had ever remained possessed by the idea that Courts were dangerous—that polite society was destructive to his system of solitary enjoyments—his son, the warlike ARTHUR, admitted a possibility of living untainted by those vices which take their colour from the principles which produce them, rather than example, interest, or influence—and was active on the side of Liberty, when the martyred King began his reign, by contending for that despotic form of government which, in the estimation of a proud and free people, took the appearance of tyranny, and seemed to indicate an intention of acquiring an unbounded sway over the subjects, who had not long been emancipated from Papal authority—an arbitrary Queen—and a submission even to the stake, rather than forfeit their steady adherence to the Protestant faith.
ALARMED by these suspicions, ARTHUR cheerfully acceded to the terms prescribed by CHARLES’S spirited opponents, and was active in his endeavours to restrain a prerogative so dangerous:—But, when opposition took the form of barbarous compulsion—when the reins were held with a hand so strict, as to threaten the downfall of the Royal House of STUART—he boldly maintained the rights they so cruelly infringed, and dedicated every wish, every hope, every action, to the most sincere attempts to serve the Monarch he could not save—and, in various instances, hazarded his life, his family’s safety, and his moderate patrimony, to the most loyal purpose;—but though he had escaped the arts of CROMWELL—the machinations of the Independants—and with the rest of the army united with the city—yet did not the Restoration hold out those advantages his sanguine mind predicted. The striking features in ARTHUR’S character were, untainted integrity, heroic stedfastness, and disinterested single-heartedness. His reflections blunt and severe, his penetration keen enough to develope the obscure doublings of a selfish statesman’s heart—an abhorrence of flattery—and a thorough dislike of the quibbling witticism, the double entendre, or the smooth insincerity of the refined courtier—answered every idea of the ancient Caledonian:—but alas! these were qualities for which CHARLES had not the smallest propensity, nor his levée the least employment.—ARTHUR, conscious therefore of his inability to render any further services to the Crown, and shocked to prove, in his own bitter disappointment, the fallacy which he had before asserted for truth—that ingratitude and mistimed parsimony were not traits of his Sovereign’s character—abdicated England, took his only child MARGARET from the dissipation of a riotous court, where he trembled for her virtue, and, at the age of seventeen, consigned her to the protection of his father, and then joined Sir ROBERT HOLMES in a secret expedition against the Dutch settlements in Africa.
SUPREMELY happy in the company of this amiable creature, DONALD scarcely looked beyond his present situation for human blessings—nor could the awful reflection, that he had reached the period of seventy years, damp the pleasure he felt in contemplating those feminine perfections, which time, reason, and infirmity, convinced him would not be much longer within the reach of his admiration.
THOUGH educated in the metropolis, MARGARET derived from her predecessor a portion of that enthusiasm for lonely comforts which had so long confined him in the ruined mansion of his forefathers, and cheerfully adopted the modes and habits congenial to the island:—but there was taste in the make, disposition, and colour of her simple attire;—there was an elegance, a refinement in her behaviour, unpractised and not understood by the ignorant inhabitants of Sky:—by them she was considered as a superior being; nor did her appearance dishonour the elevated opinion they had conceived of MARGARET.—Tall, graceful, with an eye brilliant, commanding, yet not repulsive—the colour in her cheeks heightened almost to vermillion by the cold, pure breezes of a northern climate—and a complexion, though not dazzlingly fair, yet clear, soft, and glowing, with hair of the finest black hue—gave this lovely girl a striking similitude to the portrait of MARY Queen of Scots.
TWO years residence in Bruce Castle had only strengthened the beauties of her mind, while they improved those of her person;—and DONALD had the lively satisfaction to observe, that MARGARET neither lamented the loss of those pleasures a numerous and polite society would assure the enjoyment of, or the admiration of the great, the gay, the witty—contenting herself with the tender, pleasing conversation of her indulgent grandfather;—while she seemed to felicitate herself upon the contemplation of those amusements which nature had prepared upon a wild and magnificent scale; nor looked disdainfully above the few simple lasses with whom she occasionally consorted.
OFTEN would she accompany the aged BRUCE to the sea-side, or ramble, fearless of interruption, over the barren heaths and broad hills of the island:—Sometimes she would place herself upon a broken fragment which had fallen from the ruins on the strand, where the tide could not reach; and, with a heart free from every blameable passion, she would meditate upon the absence of her heroic father, or with the softest pity heave a sigh to the memory of a revered mother, long since consigned to the grave.
A COLD and tedious winter had now given way to the charms of spring—MARGARET, confined to the dreary hall, yet found entertainment in the perusal of well-attested history, sacred and rational, elegant poetry, and the use of the harp—which she touched with exquisite grace—or an application to her needle, which had produced some elegant landscapes in embroidery: but, allured by the appearance of a beautiful day, she quitted the castle, and eagerly sought her favourite seat.
THE weather was such as made an April noon even in the Hebrides delightful, whose northern situation permits not that early spring, which a more southern climate usually enjoys. The air was clear, calm, and soft; the prospects around grand and sublime. The vast and swelling hills, not yet covered with the verdure of a Scottish summer, were finely contrasted by the deep sunk vallies, giving that relief in perspective so necessary to the otherwise fatigued optic. The sun, occasionally obscured by white and fleecy clouds, added inexpressible beauty to the whole, producing those changeable masses of light and shade, so pleasingly variable—now skimming over the distant eminences—now brightening, or throwing a brown tint over the nearer objects—as the bright luminary poured his glowing influence upon the animated scene, or withdrew for a moment his cheering beams. It was a subject worthy of a CLAUDE LORAIN’s pencil, and greatly heightened by the gentle waves of a still, calm sea, which beat with a smooth and regular motion against the low shores of several little islands that lay within view. Upon them were already collected many flocks and herds, sent thither to fatten for a London market. It is true, the bare and almost inaccessible heights of Sky afforded no verdant walks, or shaded avenues—no luxuriant oaks, or lofty elms, defended the meditating traveller from the boisterous winds, or sharp keen gusts, that even in summer would sometimes stream between the hills, and pour along the vallies: but yet there was a dignity, a magnificence in the appearance!—It was Nature working upon a large and awful scale, striking, rather than amusing, the attentive observer, with the wondrous performance of a glorious Omnipotence—whose astonishing operations are equally visible in the formation of a mountain, or a grain of sand; an enormous whale, or the smallest animalcule. Could it then fail to please a mind formed upon the most exalted plan?—Could the whole prospect, taken together, afford aught to such a mind but reflection adequate to the immensity of its conceptions—the gratitude it excited—the notions of creative goodness—and furnish every claim to the gratification of curiosity—the exercise of admiration, and the tribute of praise.
SEATING herself quietly in her usual station, and casting an eye of astonishment around, she fell into a train of thought, that was rather assisted than impeded by what she beheld. "Yes," she articulated, "though a tender and endearing parent has left his duteous daughter, though he has removed her far from the gaieties of a court, that might have proved fatal to her integrity; yet in this solitary asylum he has found for her a protection equal to his own—of that then she cannot complain: but for himself, for his own welfare, shall she not feel!—alas, he quits this ruinous, yet hospitable fabric—the blazing embers no longer lend a supporting warmth to refresh his warlike limbs—the Gothic hall, hung round with victorious trophies, no longer echoes to his martial step, nor does the sonorous bagpipe arouse him from a short repose:—no more his benign countenance is bent with love upon his MARGARET;—alas! he has changed the tapestried chamber, ornamented by the hands of simple industry, for the stately pavillion, the soldier’s tent, or perhaps, what is really dreadful, quitted these lonely, peaceful walks for the field of battle, the roar of cannon, or the groans of a dying enemy!—How vain was the hope which induced me to suppose this quiet scene could detain an active spirit! Impressed with such ideas, so productive of melancholy, grief and prognosticating mischief, how is it that I so contentedly exist, that I can patiently look forward to the period of his return; which at present seems hidden in the bosom of futurity?—upon what principle is it that I can submit to suppose the probability of his being involved at this moment, perhaps, in pursuits fatal to his ambitious notions, fatal to his personal safety?—Upon what principle? great Heaven!—upon the most sacred, the most encouraging, that ever supported a participating child—a principle which has hitherto held out the strongest consolation—when my heart, without that, had been destitute of every hope—a dependance upon, and submission to the will of Omnipotence! before whose sublimity, and beneath whose gracious smiles my soul expands, as the fairest daughter of spring to the plastic rays of an all-fostering sun. It is this reliance which enables me to partake of the pleasures authorised by reason, and provided by a bountiful Creator. It is this that banishes the gloom of apprehension, hushes every tumult which passion, uncontrouled by judgement, would raise in an unreflecting mind: it is from this I derived fortitude to part with a beloved father!—Blest source of happiness! never may it desert my bosom." With these sentiments, the heroic virgin counteracted the force of perplexing doubts and dispiriting fears, and proved, by the fire and spirit of her ideas, the origin from whence she sprung.
LOOKING towards the horizon, MARGARET perceived a heavy cloud, tinctured with a sulphureous crimson, slowly advancing, till it totally obscured the cheerful sun. The rising of the wind interrupted her meditations. She had noticed a large vessel, in that part of the offing bearing east from the little islands—its sails were clewed up, and seemed, at that distance, to be preparing for a storm. The eagles were clamouring to secure that shelter among the cliffs, which these threatening appearances made necessary.
MARGARET hastened from the shore, and retired to her chamber, in the western turret, that overlooked, or rather overhung the strand beneath. Going to her window, she beheld the mounting billows thundering against the rock to the east, and menacing destruction, not only to the opposite turret, but shattering the island fishermen’s small craft, who, tempted by the late calm, had ventured them beyond the hope of safety. The increasing tempest tore their slender sails; and, in sight of the pitying maid, tossed them among the foaming surf, which immediately turned them bottom upwards, or left them dry upon the sand, till the returning surges again carried them into an equally perilous situation. The ship, driven by an irresistible power, was dragging her anchors, and making towards the shore, while the crew were hanging out tokens of distress. The winds redoubled their violence—the clouds thickened—the sea was covered with a white foam. MARGARET trembled—her heart sunk—she would have left the horrid spectacle—she would have sought consolation from her ancient protector. The dependance she had so lately exulted in, steeled not her soul against the soft emanations of pity;—it impeached not her fortitude, to feel for the distress she could not relieve: She had strength of mind, but she had sensibility; and the tear she shed for the woes of others, was as the mild dew of the earth, cherishing, rather than chilling, the luxuriance of a benevolent heart—it was stimulated by the noblest motives—a wish to release her hapless fellow-creatures, and a fear that no human help could reach them. Yes, MARGARET would have retired; but those wishes, those fears, while they urged the necessity of going to summon assistance, kept her eye still fixed on the subjects of them; it was not curiosity—it was not the expectation of seeing the storm subside, that kept her at the window—it was a sudden idea which arose in her mind, and was founded on a supposition, that perhaps the father whose absence she had lamented, whose presence she long had desired, might be in the very vessel which had, during the calm, hovered so near them;—this was a thought she could not help dwelling upon, and indulged an eager, a vague desire, of beholding the sailors take to their boats;—but she waited for that which the turbulent weather forbid:—the ship, in whose safety she found herself so largely interested, could never reach the shore—its situation was such as to prevent the possibility of receiving any help!—She watched with the utmost anxiety, and one moment saw it upon the extremity of a monstrous wave—the next, she despaired of ever more beholding its useless sails:—now it seemed driven among the little islands—presently it appeared bearing down upon the castle;—while the low, sharp-pointed rocks, which lay without the reef, increased the fury of the awful breakers, forbad the most distant chance of getting within the dreadful pass. MARGARET could look no longer—it grew duskish:—"Why," said she, "do I thus delay the operations of humanity?—why not fly to picture the distress my soul shudders at?—DONALD may attempt at least to lend the—" A loud and horrible explosion from the clouds decided her intention of seeking BRUCE:—she left her chamber, and lightly flew down the broken steps, which, winding round the inside of the turret, formed a narrow well-staircase, that received air from several holes left purposely in the wall; terror kept up her speed, while the blue lightning, gleaning about her, served to render the solitary ruins still more dreary;—she gained the hall, when another flash almost convulsed her, as it glanced upon the ancient trophies, which, by the industry of BRUCE’S vassals, were many of them preserved from cankering rust. The furious storm, making its way through the mutilated windows of the hall, induced DONALD to retire to a small inner room, that had formerly been a chapel, on the farther side—at the door of which he stood with a lamp. MARGARET hastened towards the glimmering light. "My child, what ails thee?" said the compassionate old man;—"I was going to seek thee—be not thus terrified—heaven will protect us. How usual is such a war of elements in the Hebrides; and though so early in the season, it is not the first that has shook this venerable fabric."
"O, MY dearest grandfather—the ship—dear, respected friend—the ship will be lost; and, who knows, perhaps my father—he may, at this moment, be struggling for life in—"
"MARGARET!" interrupted BRUCE, in the utmost surprise, "thy father!—What says my daughter?"
"O I hardly know what—my fears are dreadful—cannot you send some of your faithful followers to try at least—The poor fishermen too—you know not what distress they are in!" BRUCE wanted no inducement to be serviceable—his soul was tuned to the same soft strings of benevolence that vibrated in MARGARET’S bosom—not that he conceived there was the least foundation for her fears respecting her father’s return—but fierce as were the conflicting elements, he summoned his hardy Highlanders, who, in conformity to his commands, hastened, some to the sea-side, others to the top of the castle, where they placed signals to prevent the mischief which threatened the ship; though such was its situation as made all attempts to govern the helm, or manage her sails, equally fruitless.
IN vain the tender DONALD would have induced his child to taste the wholesome viands, with which a clean and simple attendant had spread the board—in vain he tried, by the garrulity of age, to steal from her disordered imagination the shocking pictures her sensibility had drawn, of wrecks and drowning friends—She sighed in unison with the gusts that shook the doors and casements, which had long lost their fastenings, and listened to the howling tempest which roared in the spacious chimney—nor, till it in some degree abated, could she listen to BRUCE’S entreaties to go to her repose. Unwilling to keep him from the rest his time of life required, she accompanied him to his chamber, and then, with a beating heart, retired to her own.
THE lightning ceased—the thunder no longer echoed through the Castle—nor did the wind rage so violently round the turret—but MARGARET could not sleep. She went upon the battlements—it was midnight—cold, dark, and wet;—she was obliged to return. Her maid entreated she would go to bed. No, she would watch—and seating herself at the window, anxiously waited for the dawn. It broke—but she could not yet discover any thing;—it grew lighter—but what consolation could she derive from it—what could she discern—but floating bodies, and the wrecks of fishermen’s boats.
THE ship, the grand object of her attention, was no longer to be seen—"Great God!" she cried, while the tears burst from her eyes—"to how many unfortunate beings has this tempest been fatal—how many hapless wives, mothers, and friends, shall mourn the horrors of yesterday? Children too!—O my father!—if thou art among the sufferers—if I am doomed to mourn thy destruction, may I at least have the melancholy satisfaction to see thine hallowed remains decently entombed.—But what do I hear?—some one at the gate!—surely no stranger, in defiance of appearances, can hope to find human help within these walls!—again the bell rings; arise, JANET." The poor girl, overcome with youthful drowsiness, heard not the summons;—MARGARET listened—all was silent as death—when from the side next the sea, where a low Gothic door opened to the strand, she heard a loud blast from the horn which was fastened to the wall—when suddenly starting, she exclaimed—"Wherefore should I fear—Thou, O God, will protect a lonely virgin, who in the hope of that protection derives fortitude."—Again the horn sounded—"Yes, I will develope the cause of this early interruption—DONALD hears it not—JANET is lost in sleep—what should I fear, while Heaven is my guard?" So saying, she quitted the turret, and descended with cautious steps, passing the low vaulted passage that led to the side entrance; again the horn echoed, in dying hollow sounds, through the building—she stopped,—looked round upon the gloomy objects over which a cheerless dawn diffused a doubtful light—when, recollecting the vassals her grandfather had sent to assist the poor sailors, she applied her utmost strength to the unweildy door—but found it repelled her strongest efforts, till JANET, who heard her lady go down, and was thoroughly awakened by the horn, hastily followed, when, with considerable force, she lifted up the bar. The door burst open—but what did it discover—not the unlearned boors of Sky—not the fishermen who had escaped—but a stranger, whose watry garments bore the marks of quality; nor could the drenching of a cruel storm destroy the grandeur of his mien, or that air of dignity which high birth generally diffuses over the countenance. MARGARET stood speechless, and while her eye, tinctured with soft concern, invited his entrance, the modestly repulsive motion of her hand seemed to reproach his temerity in gently advancing. He checked the inclination which appeared to give her terror, and respected the delicacy that disordered her features—when with a half-retiring bow, and in an attitude distinguished by courtly grace, "I would not," he said, "Madam, intrude upon your solitude; but if pity, if sympathising humanity for the sufferings of an unhappy wanderer, shipwrecked upon this island, may plead privilege for my admission, I trust the condescension will be repaid by every testimonial of ardent gratitude. Alas! I wish but for a few hours shelter—the sorrows of my soul make the luxuries of life no longer consequential—misery, anguish, and disappointment, must colour my future days with the black tints of hopeless despair."
MARGARET changed her position;—the repulsive hand was withdrawn—the bright commanding eye was dimmed with a tear of tenderness and compassion, and she hesitatingly answered— "Humanity, Sir, will ever be allowed its full claims in Bruce Castle, and the gentlest commiseration for the distressed. I am not mistress of this abode—but if you will wait a few moments, your request shall be made known to one who lives in the fullest practice of benevolence." The noble stranger bowed, and MARGARET flew—not to solicit DONALD’S permission—but merely to say his suffrage was wanting in behalf of an unfortunate human creature—well knowing the heart, which a knowledge of worldly deception and the errors of others could not warp, would cheerfully expand at the sight of pleading misery;—and, while he was rising, she returned to introduce their visitor into the hall, where JANET roused the half-extinguished faggots, and produced such a change of apparel, as BRUCE’S frugal wardrobe afforded.
BEFORE he could avail himself of her thoughtful kindness, DONALD descended into the hall, and testified a marked surprise at the view of a face in which his second sight predicted something extraordinary. Nor did the gentleman feel less admiration of the person of this venerable Caledonian, whose silver locks touched those shoulders, not yet bent to the infirm stoop of age;—his eyes still sparkled with the keenest sensibility, and were occasionally animated with generous disdain, unconquered courage, or the tenderest benevolence;—his beard, graceful and regular, was suffered to preserve its luxuriance, without being tortured into a formal peak, the usual fashion of those days;—his belt, plaid, and cap, were in the true Highland stile, and gave the greatest advantage to a figure so prepossessing—while, with the warmest hospitality, he endeavoured to lessen the sense of obligation, by which a liberal spirit conceives itself bound, when in a situation that makes the reception of favours perfectly necessary—supplying every thing the stranger’s forlorn appearance demanded, and covering their plain oaken table, with the eggs, the honey, and the pure milk of Sky—while the piper, who had just entered to perform his diurnal occupation, was summoned to give a specimen of their national music. During these little hospitable offices, the bell proclaimed the arrival of more company. DONALD immediately ordered their admission, supposing his people were returned; when the stranger, suddenly starting, exclaimed in a voice of terror— "Stop, thou revered friend—I conjure thee to let no one open the gate—it may be—it is not impossible, but my destiny depends upon the present moment! Save a miserable fugitive—you know me not—but I will not abuse your generous confidence." BRUCE stood suspended in confused amazement;—the bell sounded with a rude violence—"I see," said the distressed unknown, "you suspect me—I cannot at present explain the mystery which envelopes my fate:—but by that exalted goodness that holds out such serviceable relief to my wants, do not own you have a stranger under your roof."
THE voices of several men, calling to each other, encreased BRUCE’S astonishment, and the anxiety of his guest—upon him MARGARET cast an eye of apprehension—she had heard that pirates refuged formerly in the Hebrides, whose stormy seas, and rocky shores, ensured them from the pursuit of larger vessels;—the ship she yesterday beheld in such imminent danger might belong them: but then why should he, whom she now considered as their commander, be thus agitated?—Even her grandfather, whose steadiness and want of fear was almost unequalled, felt for the consequence he now began to dread;—and then the safety of his lovely child alarmed him, while he found it necessary to answer those without;—turning therefore to the stranger, with a stern, intimidating aspect, "I demand," he said, "in the name of God, your business?—Tell me what can occasion your fear within these walls? Upon the candour of your answer depends the protection you ask." Thus interrogated, the young man hesitated—his working features spoke the importance of a decisive resolution—time pressed—again the people shouted for entrance. DONALD was leaving the hall, but turned about, on finding his arm detained by the unhappy pleader— "Stop," he cried, "one moment;—be not more deaf than the tempest, from which I have escaped—you know not my reasons for this reserve—they are such as would justify my perseverance, even unto death; for death, simply considered, carries no such horrors, as when clouded by disgrace, stigmatized with infamy, and loaded by dreadful calumny."
"Calumny!" retorted BRUCE—"your name, this instant."
"Be it so, then, thou hard, unfeeling man—I am—MONMOUTH!—that MONMOUTH who is pursued by inveterate malice—hunted from the arms of a royal parennt—no country left unsearched, that is suspected of giving succour to my wretchedness!—My wife—O torment! lost for ever to these eyes—friends sacrificed to my cause—no means left to restore my fame, my fortune, and my honours. Now then, you know me, do as it seemeth good." So saying, he turned disdainfully towards the window, mute, from suppressed pride and sullen anguish.
BRUCE could not reply, but went to the gate, from which MONMOUTH no longer witheld him;—opening it with a calm, determined countenance, and settled dignity of manner, he demanded the business of those intruders, who had so peremptorily announced their expectations of admission. The confusion they exhibited, when thus charged, could only be equalled by the distress and misery pictured in their features. "We are come," said he who appeared as chief—"we are come merely to beg a temporary relief; nor should have sought for it before these ruined walls, but a peasant encouraged us to hope for succour here;—the late storm has, we fear, deprived us of several noble friends, who are undoubtedly gone to the bottom!—we have only then to plead for the exercise of that generosity, so characteristic of our nation."
"YOU are Scotsmen, then," said DONALD; "alas, unhappy men, I feel for you! In yonder cottage you may find repose and comfort:" and then calling to one of his servants, charged him to take the utmost care of them, whom he now conceived were not the objects of MONMOUTH’S terror.
THIS business properly arranged, he returned to the hall; where, stretched upon the cold stones, with his face downwards, lay the despairing Duke;—tears, bitter tears, trickling over his pallid cheek. "What," said he, raising his head, and casting a wild and agonizing look at BRUCE, "they are come, then? Think not I fear death—my soul disdains the cowardly idea: but my Anna—my wife—lost in the moment of anguish and horror unspeakable—after a long and melancholy separation!—for her, these disgraces of manhood sully the honour of a STEWART." Then, suddenly rising, "Where are my guards—where are the emissaries of ambition, cruelty, and blood? Come, proud enthusiast! come, gloomy JAMES! come, treacherous, deceitful HOWARD, and sacrifice a blameless nephew to a monstrous tyrant!"
"PEACE, thou much injured Duke," said the pitying BRUCE; "peace awaits thy summons within these walls; here no destruction lowers on thy noble head. Come, then, and let me infold thee within these aged arms: the power of YORK reaches not this island—far to the south, he reigns—here his government oppresses not the brave and disinterested Scotsman: but keen and direfully suspicious as he may be, his sullen eye dwells not on these ruins, nor looks for objects of his jealousy in the scarcely peopled Hebrides. Come, then, ill-fated son of royalty; I venerate thy sufferings. Once more, fear not: this castle, this island, shall protect you—I am DONALD BRUCE—there is magic in my name."
"FORGIVE", said MONMOUTH, taking his hand, "the pusillanimity which so ill accords with the claims I wish to support: but fatigue of body, and deep sorrow, will enervate the mind, and render it unequal to such repeated storms of fortune. Yet tell me, thou generous friend, have I foundation for apprehension?"
"OF that I cannot determine," answered DONALD; "there were only three men at my gate, the chief of whom expressed a sincere concern for the rudeness which distress enforced; and humbly solicited permission to repose their wet and weary limbs."
"WHAT, then," said the Duke, sighing, "they are shipwrecked too?"
"THEY expressed as much, and in a Scottish accent; you may judge therefore, O MONMOUTH, if their designs reach your peace."
THE Duke pondered—he was struck with a sentiment, which kindled a flush of pleasure over his features: but dejection soon banished the transient glow. "No," said he, in a low, inward tone, "it cannot be—I saw him expire—I saw him swallowed by the foaming deep! He lifted up a hand, convulsed with departing life—he sunk—I caught, but could not hold him!—No, he is lost to every hope. Pardon me, noble BRUCE; I had a friend: but he too is gone. However, as there is a possibility of obtaining some necessary knowledge from these men, I will, when your leisure permits, attend you to their retreat."
"NOT so, gracious sir; I will bring one of them to you." So saying, the good old man went to the cot, from whence he immediately brought the chief, without communicating the intelligence, which his humane heart hoped would give pleasure to the stranger.
MONMOUTH arose when they entered, and advanced with an eager pace, though somewhat checked by his dread of a discovery; for when the ebullition of desperation subsided, that again became predominant: when the Scots chief, with that doubtful kind of curiosity in his eye, which is the result of unconfirmed hope, gazed upon the Duke, and in a tremulous accent said, "If circumstances did not contradict—I should suppose—I should think—" then, going still nearer, he suddenly rushed from his conductor, and embraced MONMOUTH with the warmest ardour. "It is," said he, "I cannot be deceived—it is the friend of my soul—the son of my affection: no disguise can hide him;—he is risen from the grave."
"AND art thou indeed ARGYLE? art thou truly that ARGYLE whom yesterday these eyes beheld struggling in the beating wave? Blessed be thy goodness, O DONALD, who thus restores my faithful adherent to a cause so dangerous. Fear not, ARGYLE; this venerable man is a friend to virtue, a sincere Protestant and an enemy to JAMES."
"YES," said BRUCE, "I am an enemy to JAMES, while JAMES is a foe to religion and MONMOUTH."
"The favourer of MONMOUTH must also be the confidante of ARGYLE," answered the Earl; "who, for his sake, vows never to taste in peace the fruits of his patrimonial fields, till the end is brought about for which we fight: For this, I am content to quit the country of my ancestors; for this, I undergo a self-inflicted banishment. But be it so! though men and devils, though bulls, anathemas, and all the power of the Vatican were to combine in my destruction, I would laugh at their futile attempts, and, while stretched upon the rack, cry out for more tortures, to prove my integrity."
"To such a friend," said MONMOUTH, "I dedicate the purest, the sincerest effusions of my soul; for now thou art my comfort—I once—" and he sighed— "I once divided with thee and my adored wife the affection of a constant heart;—now, none but BRUCE, the noble BRUCE, can claim from ARGYLE a share of MONMOUTH’S attention."
THE mournful recollection this hint had awakened, was suspended by the appearance of MARGARET, who had retired, in pursuance of a signal from DONALD, to prepare a necessary, but humble collation for the strangers. The austere modesty of her deportment was sweetened by the smiles of innocence, and the simplicity of her apparel dignified by the most graceful carriage;—her jacket was a blue and brown silk plaid, tied at the bosom with blue ribbands;—her petticoat brown, with one row of the same ribband round the bottom;—a simple, plain, lawn cap, could not confine her luxurious tresses, which hid the beautiful decline of her shoulders.—MARGARET could not stifle a silent wish to know the fate of two friends, whose fate seemed so interwoven—but delicacy repressed every expression of its discovery. MONMOUTH, bred in courts, and with a refined taste for beauty, admired the lovely maiden: but the sadness of his soul, the sorrow which his recent loss supported, forbid any warmer sensation. But the Earl of ARGYLE, whose residence in Scotland gave him an attachment to the manners, customs, and dress of the Highlanders, felt something stronger than admiration—warmer than that esteem which is the result of long intimacy—more fierce than gratitude could inspire. The sensation was new to him, who had passed his early days, involved in the troubles of an unfortunate King, and whose disposition, vehement and uncontroulable, could never yet inspire that tender confidence in the gentler sex, necessary to the accomplishment of a successful and honourable attachment. His years, likewise, was a tacit ridicule of the affection which rushed upon his heart, and threatened to conquer every cold and prudent suggestion of a mature judgement, thus suddenly devoted to the influence of a passion—unjustifiable in its direction, considering the inequality of age; dangerous in its commencement to the fair object, and decidedly blameable at a period so critical. He gave himself up to the delight her presence inspired; which rather softened the usual ferocity of his deportment. MARGARET shrunk from his penetrating looks, disgusting as they were by being tinctured with a dark, mysterious impression, the result of concealed plots, and deep state intrigue. Yet, ARGYLE was MONMOUTH’S friend; and MONMOUTH shewed no such repulsive terror in his features, which carried a sweet, but melancholy indication of the trouble that oppressed his mind; nor were those features less interesting, from the striking similitude they bore to those of his royal grandfather: His hair and eyes were black; and when the latter were free from their present influence, full of fire, and animating a complection which, though not enlivened by the blushing tints of early youth, was clear, bright, and healthy—while his whole appearance, dignified by a graceful height, and becoming fulness of person, credited the idea, that he was of high descent. Alas! for the Duke—though thus distinguished by nature, ambition clouded his earlier life, and by feeding false hopes, pursuing chimerical notions, and claims which were ill-founded, the happiness he sought was embittered by disappointment—the peace he had scorned, supplied by internal anguish—and the prospect, seen too far off to be justly ascertained, totally obscured. To the courage of a hero, he united the softer graces of a courtier—yet, by an unhappy propensity to vanity, and an indulgence of those whose flatteries he had not spirit to resist, though discernment enough to despise—the imbecility of his nature laid him open to the machinations of dark, designing people; while a certain degree of pride, not altogether incompatible with the vanity we have lamented, taught him to sigh, in the midst of real danger, for the attendance which once administered to his luxuries: nor could he banish those false ideas of greatness he had imbibed. This faulty trait in his character, while it called for friendly pity, excited in his enemy a hope of availing themselves of a propensity so weak; for, not the free expostulations of ARGYLE, whom he considered as his guardian angel, and the step upon which he was to ascend the British throne, nor the respectful hints of his Dutchess, could destroy a propensity so unworthy his vast designs.
UPON him MARGARET’S eye rested with evident complacency, and the more, perhaps, for not meeting the ardent gaze of admiration which lightened in ARGYLE’S countenance; though the highest respect was visible in MONMOUTH’S attention.
THEIR little, yet acceptable repast concluded, DONALD gave way to an impulse of curiosity, not untinctured with patriotism, since from the DUKE he should hear of events so concerning to the fate of his country;—it was not that his cool judgement gave a verdict in favour of MONMOUTH’S pretensions, without the most weighty reasons. To the illegality of his title no objections could be offered; but MONMOUTH was a Protestant—JAMES of York a professed Catholic: even CHARLES the Second was strongly suspected of leaning that way—and gave not the smallest hope of a legitimate successor. How could BRUCE, then, who practised in the highest degree the reformed religion, do aught but contribute his suffrage to the Duke’s claim? "To thee, then," said the reverend seer, "to thee, O MONMOUTH, my soul looks forward for the confirmation of those hopes it has long entertained; and which, if second sight fail not, will hereafter be established:—to thee—friend—Prince—and the object of my sacred allegiance, I look, for England’s recovered peace and glory. In the gloom of futurity, I discover thy spirited attempts to emancipate thy people; may they be successful, and secure a permanent and happy exercise of our glorious profession—now," and he shook his head, "now, I fear, covertly undermined by those who openly declare themselves its protectors. Though inclination and infirmity hold me to this desolate spot, I have not wished in vain for such intelligence from the southern parts, as convinces me of the necessity of your interference—when heaven shall deprive us of our present sovereign, who has already been accused of duplicity. Speak not to me of obligation—my heart, my country, is free to do you service. JAMES governs with a despotic hand in Edinburgh; dispossess him of his power! My vassals are numerous, my interest in them fixed and decided: I can raise a body of hardy Highlanders, who shall aid you even unto death; the severity of your uncle has already disgusted them, while the very name of MONMOUTH is held in veneration."
"BE it so, generous friend," interrupted the impetuous ARGYLE, while his eyes sparkled at the proposal— "We will lead them on: My forces are at present scattered, but they are not lost; and the appearance of their royal chief" casting a look of affection at the Duke, "will reanimate them. Heaven shall aid us, and JAMES will no more triumph in the hope of rendering Britain a scene of blood."
MONMOUTH rejoined, "Yes, Heaven will support its own cause; but my father, my King—I seek not his destruction. Well has BRUCE distinguished my intention: I seek not to overturn the throne of my ancestors—let my father reign in peace—I wish but to humble the Duke of YORK’S ambition, to live in the hearts of my countrymen, and seek but the reversion of a crown, which, Omnipotence permitting, I will possess. And now, my dearest friend, let us speak of those events that have driven us hither—deprived me of a tender, faithful partner—and proved the worth of this excellent man." A tear stopped him. DONALD felt the pang which produced it, and waved the desire that could not then be gratified, but by a sacrifice too mighty for humanity to exact.
"NO more," he said, "my Prince—fatigues like your’s demand repose; speak not, think not, of aught that may disturb it. We shall possibly have a calm for some days, during which I will muster the clans on whose fidelity I can depend; you may then follow the intentions of your heroic souls, and depend upon every good office I can do, to aid a cause so just. And forget not, O MONMOUTH, that the Power which has thus preserved your friend, may, in its own good time, restore your lamented Duchess."
WITH a sigh of despair, tinctured with swelling gratitude, the Duke bowed his head in silence, and, followed by ARGYLE, attended BRUCE; who conducted them to a tapestried chamber, where the broad oaken boards were eaten into several chasms by devouring time. The lofty testered bed, once gay and glittering with the brightest colours, intermixed with silver, was in a ruinous state. The chimney vast, open, and uncomfortable, admitted more wind than the stifling blaze (kindled to air the room) could repel. The chairs, of polished ebony, contained wood enough, separately, for half a dozen. The casements were glazed with panes extremely small, and placed so high as to give a gloomy appearance to the room.
THE storm had subsided—but yet the surge foamed over the reef, and murmured against the rock. The winds waved the ivy which darkened the windows—and the melancholy hue, that hung upon the surrounding objects, would have given terror to minds unimpressed by stronger subjects. The intrepid ARGYLE thought only of MARGARET—till fatigue at length produced a salutary slumber. Not so MONMOUTH—the tempest in his bosom was not so easily hushed—raging still with greater violence than the howling storm, to which it owed, in part, its fury. Banished from the paternal inheritance he fondly fancied was his legal right—deprived, at present, even of a foundation for those expectations which ambition had encouraged—accused of crimes too horrible for cool investigation, and of which he detested the idea—for his soul shuddered at the bare suspicion of paricide—prevented by party malice from exonerating himself from a load of guilt—a wretched witness of the sufferings his friends endured—and, what chilled his very soul, the uncertainty of his ANNA’S existence—how was it possible, though in a place of safety, to forget such complicated distress? In the hollow tones of the fallen wind he fancied the expiring groans of the injured RUSSEL; the heroic SYDNEY, ARMSTRONG, and all whose attachment to him had brought on their destruction—and whose lives were inhumanly sacrificed to his fatal cause—and, in the melancholy exertion of a perturbed mind, assimilated the roaring of the dashing surf to the merciless denunciations of that savage hyena, JEFFRIES, whose rancorous heart was dead to the pleadings of innocence—the most piercing invocations for mercy—or even the spirited demand for justice, when the chicanery of law admitted of a doubt, or left the smallest point undecided by its express declaration.
RESTLESS, and unable to commit to oblivion the sorrows that oppressed him, MONMOUTH softly arose, and, unfastening a door which opened upon the battlement surrounding the turret, he contemplated, in painful silence, the wild and awful scene around—wishing—vainly wishing to be conveyed to those friends who had yet escaped the impending vengeance. Reclining over the rugged stones, he appeared a statue of grief, when DONALD, who was walking below, perceiving his guest had not availed himself of the offered indulgence, invited him, by a motion of his hand, to walk by the sea-side. MONMOUTH, quitting his situation, soon joined his hospitable friend, and they immediately went down to the shore, where, under an arch in the rock, DONALD proposed to sit, while the Duke should speak of the troubles which had driven him thither.
THIS afternoon, like the last, was clear, calm, and warm; the ocean only retained that gentle swell, so common after a tempest, that had turned from its deepest bed the boiling wave—but its turbulence was no longer displeasing. The rays of a brilliant sun, broken and refracted by the fluid motion, presented all the varied beauty of a changeable green, edged with silver. They were seated in a part of the cliff, which formed a kind of bay, at some distance from the castle, that rose to the right of their shelter, in the most interesting stile, and added to the singularity of the scene. One of its towers had been separated by time from the main building. The chasm was narrow, through which the beams of the sun, concentred to a focus, threw a long stream of light over the water, forming a picturesque appearance. DONALD felt the most benevolent delight in congratulating those poor fishermen who had escaped the storm, and were busy in righting their little vessels, mending the sails, or preparing their nets for a more successful expedition. But MONMOUTH, with mingled terror and impatience, beheld the ship in which he doubted not his ANNA had met her cruel destiny. It was tossing without the reef, totally dismasted, and pitching, with an irregular motion, near the rocks. Her anchors were buried in the deep, while some fragments of the broken cables hung from her stern.
THE Duke lifted up his hands and eyes in silent woe, and seemed insensible to every thing but an object, which renewed in his mind the most piercing recollection. DONALD beheld his internal struggles with the tenderness of a parent; and, rising, would have led him from a scene so painful. "Come," he said, "thou son of affliction and disappointment, look not so mournfully upon yonder wreck. Come with me—we will return to the castle."
"No," answered MONMOUTH, "this sight will only point, with additional strength, the reflections I wish to encourage. In the gloom of despair, the afflicted soul seeks for, and not seldom derives consolation. Every hope is extinguished—but there is an indescribable sweetness in the indulgence of grief like mine. All interruption is a degree of cruelty, since it takes us from the contemplation of sorrows so sacred."
"THESE," replied BRUCE, "are the arguments of a heart determined against receiving comfort—they are fallacious and ill grounded, which time alone can refute. I seek not to controvert them by powerful reason, or the representation of cool judgment; since, in your present situation, they cannot be efficacious."
THE Duke, with an assenting bow of the head, shewed his acquiescence to the latter remark, and immediately changed the subject, by adverting to his own history.
"THE imputed illegitimacy of my birth," said he, "has been too often canvassed and ascertained by my enemies to escape the notice of every friend, whose generous indignation may have prompted them to contradict the scandalous legend. You, doubtless, have been instructed to condemn a faultless woman; but it may yet be in my power to clear, at least in the eye of cool discrimination, that cruel odium, which the world has cast upon the character of an angel; whose virtues, sufferings, and pure connubial tenderness, deserved no such attribution. It is indeed a melancholy fact, that the peaceful asylum, where she bloomed in a happy obscurity, was left unguarded from the approach of impetuous youth; and the mind, which was armed against the rude attack of unlicensed passion, wanted but the vibration of a single chord to actuate every delicate string, and sweep, with ungovernable force, over the soft and laudable, as well as those which more properly becomes the hero’s bosom—Love and Ambition. Alas! what had ambition to do in the female mind? that masculine virtue demands not a residence so gentle;—but in LUCY WALTERS’ soul they urged their claims, to the exclusion of reason, and controverted every argument a cool judgement might offer. Dear victim to inconstancy, and false notions of greatness!—never shall thy unhappy son forget those excellencies, so extraordinary, and yet so powerless!"
"WHAT!" interrupted BRUCE, "could CHARLES sacrifice his domestic felicity to the airy vision inflated by fancy, and destroyed even by its creator?"
"FRIEND," replied MONMOUTH, "my father’s character was formed, and his principles fixed, at an age, when the puerile pursuits of others permit not an idea to intrude, superior to the indulgence of childish pleasures. His person so noble, so elegantly formed, and an air of majesty, impressing that reverential awe, which his most familiar manner could not remove, prepossessed every one in his favour, on whom he chose to exert their influence;—and, at the early period of seventeen, his propensity to gallantry, and an unlimited attachment to the gentler sex, met with the most sanguine encouragement.
"NOTWITHSTANDING the cloud of danger which lowered on all his fair prospects—notwithstanding the misery his royal father struggled against in vain—while himself was pursued by party-malice, and his name proscribed through every country, CHARLES could not resist the impulse of a youthful soul, nor fight against a congenial temptation, though clad in the most repulsive garb. Thus unprepared for resistance, he willingly submitted to a conquest, at first intended by him as a mere amusement, and a temporary gratification of indulged passion. Passing in the disguise of a peasant through Pembrokeshire, in Wales, he was stopped by the enchanting appearance of a distant prospect. His road lay along the edge of a bold aclivity, which was cloathed, to the foot of it, with the mountain-ash, large oaks, and full grown poplars. Not willing to quit the lovely scene before him, he threw himself beneath one of those majestic trees, whose leaves, impelled by a gentle breeze, conveyed a soft and pleasing murmur to the ear, so lately filled with sounds of warlike import; while the setting sun, glittering between the desultory boughs, animated the surrounding objects. The blackbirds responded to each other from the hawthorn bushes, or were interrupted by the monotonous cuckow. The tinkling bell of the distant herd, and the lively peal from an ancient steeple, these formed, altogether, a concert, which, though wild and irregular, was full of sweetness, and productive of the most cheerful ideas.—It was a scene perfectly according to my father’s sensations—and, if he regretted a solitude so charming, it was only because he could not communicate his feelings to a corresponding mind;—but it was soon interrupted by the harmony of a tabor and pipe behind the hill. He left his seat, and, directed by the sound, quickly discovered a troop of lads and lasses in the plain below, joining in a rural dance before a little white house, that was almost covered by a luxuriant vine.—Delighted at the sight of so much innocent festivity, at a period when England was involved in anarchy and confusion; and, thoughtless of the danger that might attend his mixing with such a party, he instantly descended, and walked up to a venerable man, who seemed director of their sports, and was seated at the entrance of a small tent, which was raised for the purpose of containing such simple refreshments, for accommodating the dancers, as were deemed necessary.—With the frankest hospitality, the good old man pressed his young visitor to taste the Pomonian juice, which his evident fatigue rendered to the last degree an invigorating restorative, while, in terms simple but expressive, he assigned the cause of this conviviality.
"DRINK," said he, "my friend—drink to the success of our noble Monarch—we shall yet succeed;—yesterday his Majesty, GOD bless him, took possession of Bristol. The army are in great spirits—and we, his loyal subjects, are thus celebrating his victory. All Wales, Gloucestershire, and Somersetshire, are rejoicing upon the happy occasion. Pray Heaven I may live but to see him triumph over his enemies."—The news was acceptable to the Prince, who, too young to assist his father, could scarcely preserve himself.
"WHILE they were talking, a lovely woman approached with her companions, and saluted CHARLES with a modest grace. Her gentle manners and bashful deportment raised the most unprincipled wishes in his bosom. The evening closed their sports, and succeeding days passed over in the transporting hope that he should conquer the timid maid. His addresses were warm—abrupt—but they were disdainfully repulsed. Yet CHARLES could not give up the ungenerous intention which so long detained him under the hospitable roof, without making every trial of her virtue that his prolific brain, and impetuous desires, suggested—hazarding even the discovery of his real name and situation. LUCY was struck—the son of that king her father almost idolized—the heir of a crown—thus suing for her favour.—O, it was too much for humble innocence to reject—till every means had been tried in vain to secure his honourable vows. His protector, the kind and hospitable landlord who had sheltered him was astonished:—and, though he disdained to purchase the empire of the world by the forfeiture of his LUCY’S chastity—yet, depending upon her prudence and modesty, he suffered her to encourage hopes of a legal union, to which her humble birth could derive no claim;—and forbad not the addresses of a Prince, whom he fondly imagined might raise his family to the highest honours;—thus blindly sacrificing to an unwarrantable ambition, the tranquillity of a life which had hitherto glided on in the unruffled calm of rural peace.
"PRESUMING upon the supposition that his proposals were covertly assented to by Mr. WALTERS, CHARLES would not give up the pursuit, till, in consequence of an indiscreet and dishonourable declaration, the affronted LUCY was sent from Pembrokeshire to a worthy aunt who resided in Rotterdam. Offended pride—mortified affection—and a keen sense of the impropriety he had committed, irritated her lover almost to madness—and, in the fury of his passion, he denounced the most terrible imprecations upon those who had deprived him of what he then considered as the delight of his soul.
"WITH an eye of pity Mr. WALTERS beheld the effects of parental caution, while he inwardly rejoiced that his child had escaped the impetuous Prince;—but uniform and steady in his resolution of opposing those designs, which had so nearly proved destructive to his domestic happiness, he continued inflexibly determined to conceal her present residence, till CHARLES had quitted that part of the world.—But here the cool dictates of judgement were superceded by the successful arts of restless passion, and to the information of an old (and only) servant was Mr. WALTERS indebted for the discovery he had fondly imagined none could make;—and my father corrupted that fidelity, which was open but on the side of avarice, equally the concomitant of wealthy age and ancient penury.
"DELIGHTED at the idea of recovering his lost love, and sacrificing the sweet impulse of gratitude to the indulgence of a less laudable pursuit—he secretly fled from the hospitable cot, and, after a short passage, presented himself before the affrighted LUCY in all the ungovernable ardour of youth, uncontradicted by superior power, and amenable to no one for his present actions. My dearest mother, though strongly guarded by natural reserve, and a sense of that dignity which is ever the criterion of true modesty, could not see the hereditary Prince of England entreating at her feet for pardon, without an internal triumph—but, when he perceived her rectitude was not to be overcome, and that every attempt to destroy the virtue which soared above temptation was ineffectual—and as a compensation for the insult which had driven her from a parent, he offered to raise her to an equality with himself;—that triumph was without bounds—she received his vows with transport, and they waited but till Mr. WALTERS could arrive, to ratify the deed. He soon attended a summons, to him so desirable, and accompanied by an English minister, upon whose discretion he had the greatest reliance, hastened to fulfil a contract, which was to secure his daughter’s claim to greatness, and a royal son-in-law to himself—witnessing, at the altar, those vows registered in Heaven, which, though dissipation so soon obliterated from my father’s memory, will ever remain recorded in those tablets he shall one day tremble to behold. Excuse, reverend BRUCE, the bitterness with which a sainted mother’s wrongs tinctures my reflections—upon a parent to whom I am yet, for many obligations, considerably indebted—He gave me titles and estates, but denies me that of his legitimate son—refuses to confirm my legal right to his kingdom. Blessed angel, thou no longer hearest those opprobrious epithets, that once so deeply wounded thy gentle spirit—no longer weepest the cruel desertion, which clouded thy sad days with anguish and sorrow.
"MR. WALTERS had engaged the clergyman to inviolable secrecy, and I was born ten weeks after the massacre of my royal grandfather—born, O horrible!—under the impression of infamy.
"THE troubles, which not even the martyrdom so recently committed could allay, continued, by the violent exertions of party-rage, to block up every access to the throne, and the real heir was necessitated to abdicate the Kingdom he was entitled to command. Holland had now no charms for him—the enchantment was dissolved—the novelty was at an end. My mother, with extreme grief, beheld his preparations to quit her—she would have attended him, but he bluntly refused; and, from that hour, commenced her misfortunes—the miseries she then endured were daily increased, by an accumulation of others yet more dreadful—he left her under the excruciating idea, that the wife of a Prince, the son of an exiled sovereign, were to be stigmatized with the most cruel odium. There was no resource—the Minister who had married them was fled, prepossessed with a dread of his being called to a severe account for that action, though neither reason nor policy could justify a fear so ill grounded—her father, to whose care she had entrusted the proofs of her marriage, was lost in his return from Holland—her husband! unstable, fickle, and ungenerous—if he refused to acknowledge us, there was no resource. How can I think, with patience, on the partial, the unnatural distinction he made? Willing to cover the pretended dishonour of my birth, by loading me with titles, and consigning me to the care of his tried friends—he yet disowned the legality of my mother’s right, and branded with a scandalous imputation the innocent author of my existence.
"UNABLE to resist the torrent of ill fortune, which poured so rapidly upon her, she yet lived in the hope of seeing her once unsullied character cleared from the foul impeachment, and took no pleasure in any thing but the contemplation of her innocent offspring: but even that melancholy satisfaction was, by the mysterious ordination of Heaven, interrupted by an event the most extraordinary—and, what her keenest sagacity could not develope. As she was dutifully acquiescent to every request my father thought essential to prefer—she was induced, while an infant, to consign me to the protection of Mr. GHYSSENS, a merchant of Schiedam, whom she daily visited, for the purpose of embracing her helpless JAMES; and, when the weather permitted, would order her servants to procure a boat, in which she frequently was rowed down the canal. The gentle motion of the little vessel, the cheerful scenes, and clean, delightful villages, that continually presented themselves in these excursions, promised some benefit to her health, which was materially injured by the anxiety of her mind. The weather was now warm enough to make an evening voyage pleasant—she embarked as usual, and was holding out her arms, to take the only comfort of her soul, when the boat was suddenly pushed into the midst of the stream, and she beheld several men surround the nurse and child, whom they immediately put into a small treschught, and, with incredible speed, rowed a contrary way from that she was carried. Dear sufferer! what were thy emotions in that agonizing instant!—O DONALD, I was destined to tear that bosom, with the most exquisite torture, which palpitated with the softest, sweetest emotions for me. She shrieked with vehemence—but there was none to help.—"Save," she cried, "my JAMES—tear not the strings of my bleeding heart—he is the son of royalty, the child of affliction!—O cruel CHARLES, thou abandonest me to distraction! Bring me my little one—bring him but in safety and I will hide him for ever—we will inhabit the dens of lions—even they will respect maternal anguish; we will fly to the rocks, to the caves—my infant shall not know to whom he is indebted for his existence—turn back, hard-hearted men—Pursue the murderers!—What has he done?—fear not, he shall be no King—I will rear him in solitude and silence."
"Indulge me, BRUCE, with a pause—nature feels too pungently the recapitulation of a mother’s woe—what had she done, to be distinguished only by supereminent sorrows!"
A WELCOME interruption closed, for the present, a recital so sad. ARGYLE missed his friend, and sought him throughout the castle in vain, till directing his search towards the sea-side, he discovered the pensive MONMOUTH with folded arms, and eyes fixed upon the strand, perfectly inattentive to his commiserating companion, who considered the appearance of ARGYLE a desirable event, which promised a temporary relief to the Duke’s melancholy reflections.
WHILE they were admiring the beauty of the rising moon, which gilded, with a rich and brilliant tint, the extreme edges of some black clouds, that lay parallel with the eastern horizon, MARGARET appeared before them in all the agonies of inexpressible terror—she could not speak, but pointed towards the castle. ARGYLE and MONMOUTH rushed from their recess, as if impelled by one motive—which neither could explain, and leaving the venerable BRUCE to follow, with his almost breathless child, they hastened to the spot she had distinguished. A confused murmur increasing as they approached, quickened their speed, and the dread MONMOUTH discovered at his first arrival in the morn, was apparently swallowed up in the hope of that assistance DONALD, in the persons of his vassals, had offered:—but what was the Duke’s indignation, surprise, joy, and grief, when he saw a warrior, whose face he immediately recognized, bearing in his arms the helpless form of his ANNA—his adored Duchess—and surrounded by a mixed multitude of Highlanders and Englishmen—the first endeavouring to prevent the ravisher’s departure, the latter opposing the skill and resolution of well disciplined troops, to the ferocious attacks of their Scottish adversaries. Not the fiercest lightning could descend with more tremenduous force upon the stately oak, than did the blows of the agitated MONMOUTH upon the destroyer of his happiness; who, immediately relinquishing his hold, fell prostrate upon the earth; which his adherents perceiving, they attempted to make their escape, pursued by ARGYLE and the trusty Highlanders, to the mountainous parts of the island—where the chace was stopped by the dispersion of the fugitives—who eluding their irritated foes, took shelter among the almost inaccessible rocks and caves, with which that spot abounded.
POSSESSED of the treasure he had lamented as lost for ever, MONMOUTH thought but of the restoration of that life which seemed feebly hovering upon her lips, nor cast a look upon the wretch whose diabolical villainy had endangered the total extinction of so fair a flower—his tears descended in heavy drops, from his pale and ghastly countenance—he contemplated, with excessive anguish, the death-like complexion of her lovely hands and arms, whose coldness chilled his soul with the most dreadful apprehensions, while motionless and languid they fell inanimate before her.
THE sight of MARGARET, who had just arrived, kindled in MONMOUTH’S bosom a hope of assistance—"Sweet gentle creature," he cried, "accord to this dying angel the tender offices of female kindness—lost, as I imagined, to the possibility of ever seeing her again—I have perhaps only recovered her for the melancholy satisfaction of feeling her last breath respire upon my cheek."
ALREADY overcome by the astonishing scene, MARGARET felt this request strike at the very root of those half formed expectations she had hardly dared to whisper to her heart—and while she hastened to collect the necessary restoratives, and apply them to the insensible Duchess, her eyes were suffused with tears composed of disappointed affection, a sentiment of lively pity, and the sad reflection, that the first offering she had secretly and silently made of a pure and delicate passion, should be returned, rejected, and unacknowleged, to the bosom in which it had received birth—nor had she but one consolation, though that was extremely material; being no less than the certainty, that the place of its existence would be its tomb—as laudable pride, innate modesty, and a natural, yet noble reserve, would ever confine it there.
WHILE the Duke, eagerly bent on the means used for his ANNA’S revival, perceived with transport their efficacy—the author of all this misery, though severely wounded, was slowly withdrawing from a place so full of danger, and would possibly have escaped—but BRUCE, active, though somewhat enfeebled by age, secured the monster, and, aided by MONMOUTH, whose fears for his ANNA now gave way to rage and revenge, seized him, and, in the moment of inconsiderate fury, would have sacrificed him to the injuries he had received: but DONALD would not permit an illustrious hero to stain his great character, by slaughtering a defenceless enemy, though deserving every torture offended justice could inflict, or human nature endure.
"No," said the Duke, "he shall live—coward, perjured wretch, faithless and despicable—he shall live, to hold forth to mankind a picture of every vice that can render him an abhorrence to society—confined within a dreary prison, he shall ask in vain that pity his wicked heart never granted to the misfortune of another—he shall live—no more the scourge of his fellow-creatures, but a warning and an example."
SULLEN, unrepenting, and disdaining the man he had wronged, the warrior cried, "Be it as you will—bring me my chains—conduct me to my prison:—but remember and tremble, Monmouth is not yet King of England, he has no legal power over his Monarch’s subjects—let him doom to death the wretch within his rapacious gripe—still, he should not forget that the uplifted axe is sharpened, which lately silenced so many traitors."
"TAKE him hence," said the Duke: "pardon the necessity, my friend, which induces me to ask some obscure corner of your castle for this boaster’s residence, till he can be conducted to a habitation more gloomy, more lonely, and consequently more fitting for crimes like his."
"He shall be conveyed," said BRUCE, "to yonder low vault, which lies towards the sea—nor, vile as his crimes have made him, shall he be destitute of the help his situation demands."—So saying, he was conducted to the room the humane DONALD had appointed; where his hurts were examined—which proved more terrible in appearance than reality, and a guard was set over him, lest some of those who had fled should endeavour to liberate an enemy so dangerous.
THE recovery of his amiable consort, called her noble husband’s attention, from the indulgence of well-grounded resentment, to a scene replete with extatic gratitude, and thankful joy—and he tasted, in the pure delight of a conjugal embrace, the highest happiness heaven could bestow:— "And dost thou live again," he said, "my ANNA!—shall I once more enjoy thy sweet converse, untinctured with foreboding perplexities, unclouded by fear? Shall that horrible incendiary no longer poison our tranquillity, with base suspicions, and jealous doubts—no longer treacherously undermine a confidence so sacred."
WITH a soft sigh, and eyes swimming in tears, arising from innumerable sensations, among which the most delicate tenderness was predominant, she could not directly articulate the answer her heart would have dictated; till, in a feeble, hesitating accent, she murmured the genuine expression of a soul nearly overcome with the view of unexpected felicity.
IN this charming interchange of bliss they were interrupted by the arrival of ARGYLE, who congratulated his friends, in all the rough sincerity of ancient heroism. His presence, and the Duchess’s visible weakness, induced MARGARET to solicit that lady to take the repose her state required. To this proposal the Duke added his suffrage; and ARGYLE saw, with inward vexation, the readiness with which it was accepted:—they passed him in their way to the chamber, and he availed himself of the opportunity which occurred, in pressing to his lips the hand of his beloved, as she went out of the door. Her confusion was visible to the Duchess, who noticed, with some concern, the scorn her favourite incurred; for the Earl was her husband’s friend, and had been her protector:—how much then did she wish his worth might be rewarded in the possession of so much beauty and gracefulness, as was visible in the person and behaviour of her hospitable entertainer—but that fate, which, for the wisest purposes, counteracts our designs, and suffers not the purposes of a wilful heart to be gratified, forbid the union ARGYLE had planned.
THE benevolent BRUCE, happy in the idea of contributing to the peace and convenience of his fellow-creatures, arose the next morning serenely cheerful; and conducting his guests to their simple repast, with that frankness, ever the characteristic of true hospitality, recommended to their notice those viands he thought most suitable to their taste. The Duchess and MARGARET were not present, as a state of repose was judged most beneficial to the illustrious invalid; and her fair attendant felt herself pleased with an excuse so natural.
When breakfast was concluded, ARGYLE related the circumstances of his evening’s pursuit. DONALD was alarmed to hear the Englishmen had retired to those difficult passes, known before only to his countrymen—and proposed sending out a party to drive them from those places of defence; though he could not help lamenting the necessity of distressing people, whose greatest fault might be an attachment to their leader:—this was a difficulty not easily obviated; as it was impossible to get from the island without boats. But ARGYLE, who had his reasons for extirpating a people bent upon MONMOUTH’S destruction, entreated DONALD to give him the command of the clan he should nominate for that business;—his wish was granted, and the Earl went, with the utmost alacrity, to rout an enemy he so much detested.
WITH sentiments totally different from those which had embittered the relation of his life, the Duke gladly acceded to his venerable friend’s request to continue a narrative so interesting—and was the more ready to comply, from a desire that BRUCE should become possessed of all the events preceding his ANNA’S happy deliverance; as her explanation would the more naturally follow.
"I HAVE already told you," said MONMOUTH, "the dreadful event which tortured my unhappy mother’s feelings;—but in vain were her piercing cries—her tears were fruitless—her distracted emotions disturbed not the apathy of those who were appointed to tear her from what she held so dear.—Cold and unfeeling, they beheld her strong convulsive agonies, nor attempted to unclasp her hands, which were twisted in her hair; and it was only with a view to their own safety, that they prevented her leaping into the canal.—At last, wearied and exhausted with the various agitations both of her body and mind, she suffered them to obey the orders of her persecutors, without farther opposition—and they carried her to a village some miles distant from Schiedam, where the humanity of a Dutch lady, to whom she was not quite unknown, was conspicuously held out to her relief—and she revived only to a painful sense of the loss she had endured.
"MRS. MEYERS, to whom she related the shocking circumstance, immediately accompanied her back to Mr. GHYSSENS,—and every expedient was put in practice for the recovery of her lost infant, which tender friendship and generous pity could invent.—Upon this part of my life hangs a mystery, which time itself cannot unravel—the most probable conjectures concerning it are, that my father’s enemies, knowing his pretensions, by my birth, were strengthened in the male line, had recourse to the cruel expedient of tearing a child from the arms of its parent, with an intention, probably, of secreting it for ever in a convent, or depriving it of that life which must weaken their hopes; plainly proving, if it was so, the legality of its claim.
"WRETCHED in the idea that I was sacrificed to the Catholic system, my fond and anxious mother left no place unsearched—no scheme untried—that bore the most distant probability of reviving a hope which three months had almost extinguished;—when, after a fatiguing journey, she arrived late one evening at Loosdymen; and, harrassed by repeated successless applications, retired to her chamber, melancholy and almost despairing. It was in the height of summer—the heat, which, even in that climate, is for some weeks extremely fervent, prevented the repose she ardently wished to take. She arose, and opened her window—it was profusely ornamented with jessamine in full bloom.—The moon was at the full, and threw a clear radience over the extended level, which was only varied by numberless canals, intersecting each other, and added by their lucid reflection to the silver light. A soft whispering under the window made her start. The voice, though scarcely distinguishable, struck her with an eager desire to see the person to whom it belonged. The apartment, though detached from the rest of the inn, was open to the garden. She softly descended into the lower room, where two women were in earnest discourse. Her entrance interrupted them;—but, great GOD, what was her perturbation, when, in the person of one of them, she discovered THERESA—the identical servant to whose care her darling child had been entrusted—and who was taken away by the assassins that murdered her peace!
"WHERE," she cried, in a tone of horror, "where is my son? Speak—Restore my little JAMES.—"
"THE girl, nearly breathless with mingled joy and affright, held up her hand—"Silence, dear lady," she cried, "for Heaven’s sake, do not be impatient.—We are prisoners—but you will deliver us.—Our guards are sleeping yonder," pointing to another door, which was fastened upon them.—"They cannot know of the entrance through which you came.—They are doubtless commanded by a superior power—and their fidelity is not to be corrupted."
"BUT my child—tell me THERESA—is he safe?"
"HE is, dear Madam.—But retire, and I will bring him to you."
"DISTRACTED between hopes and fears, my mother, nevertheless, had prudence to restrain all tumultuous expression of her transport; when, silently and cautiously, THERESA approached a small pallat-bed, on which lay the innocent object of mysterious intrigue, and bore her sleeping charge to her enraptured mistress; who, with trembling anxiety, pressed her recovered innocent to the bosom that throbbed with transport—against the cheek that unconsciously sought the maternal warmth of so soft a pillow; and safely reached the upper apartment.—Description here must be perfectly feeble—a child thus unexpectedly and suddenly restored to its maternal protector—at the moment when every prospect of seeing it again was totally obscured—what must be her feelings? Who could coldly contemplate such an event? I can only say it was the excess of rapture—the feast of the soul.
"EVEN my royal father, when acquainted with this miraculous incident, shuddered at the danger I had escaped; and, upon his accession to the throne of Scotland, he prevailed upon his widowed mother, HENRIETTA MARIA, to receive me at Paris. To such a noble relation my unfortunate parent was easily induced to resign me; and, with tears and blessings, entrusted me to the faithful THERESA, who was kept about my person, by the command of my royal relatives.
"THE safety of her son, thus powerfully secured, this estimable woman could not be ingrateful; and she wrote a tender and truly affectionate epistle to his careless father, acknowledging a deep sense of gratitude for the protection he had procured for him; and delicately hinting, how much it concerned his honour, as a king—his faith, as a man—his duty, as a parent—and his affection, as a husband—to wipe off the stain her enemies had fastened on her character, by proving the legitimacy of his son and heir, and publicly confessing the true nature of the engagement between them. Was she to blame, my friend, for thus asserting the purity of her claim? Was she to be condemned for an attempt, at least, to awaken in her husband’s soul the flame of conjugal affection:—A flame, before which prudence, ambition, hereditary greatness, and filial duty, had vanished, as the light vapours of the earth, when dispersed by a fervid sun. But the warm effusion of unsatisfied passion, pleaded no more as an excuse for the rashness judgement would condemn. Cold, comfortless, and studious of a dishonourable evasion, was the answer, dictated by duplicity; and, in each guarded expression, my mother beheld the refutation of every assertion, which a sense of delicacy had prompted her of late to publish, and the extinction of every bright expectation.
"THUS then," she cried, "are my expiring hopes of legal justice stopped at their source. Nothing short of this horrible conviction could have totally overthrown those faint, and, at last, extinguished notions, that a shocking want of the principles of humanity were not among those failings. I have often wept in silence;—alas! must I only, through the medium of my child’s prosperity, view the distinction which a husband’s neglect tinctures with imputed shame! O strange inconsistency; titles—honours—a gloried in attachment, mark his boasted right in my beloved JAMES. The fruit, alas, is tenderly cherished—it is watered by the rich dew-drops of paternal love;—it blooms in the garden of the great, and lifts up its head to the cheering warmth of a vernal air; basking and expanding before the bright beams of a courtly sun;—while the maternal root, neglected, and exposed to the unwary step of the incautious traveller, withers in its obscurity—left to the mercy of blighting winds, and sinking—even perishing—through the rude attack of untimely frost."—Dear sufferer! her words were in some degree prophetic—the disappointment she lamented threw her into long and violent faintings. Her constitution could not resist a shock so violent. The powers of discrimination were enfeebled—her mind partook of the disorder which unhinged her tender frame; and a long and peaceful insensibility followed the ravings of an unconquered spirit.
"THOUGH extremely young at the time, I have yet strongly in remembrance, the agonised emotions which wrung my childish heart, when introduced to an object the most affecting nature could hold forth, to a soul ever keenly susceptible of the sorrow it could not relieve. The uniformed eye—the motionless hand—the vacant gaze—and woe worn countenance of a mother, whose misfortunes had been familiarized to my soul by the faithful THERESA, from the moment I became capable of receiving a proper impression, conveyed such ideas to my tortured heart, as no following occurrence, however distressing, could more mournfully supply, or tint with a deeper colour, than that which overshadowed with the melancholy hue of despair every latent hope of her recovery.
"IT was with the utmost difficulty I was borne from the breathing corpse, that seemed dropping, as it were, into an opened grave; nor could find any comfort in the answer given to my repeated enquiries. That she still existed, was a matter of surprize to all who witnessed that deep and direful sleep of the intellects, which gave a doubtful resolution to the questions her attendants were continually in the habit of hearing;—though, perhaps, to that silent and fragile state she languished under, might be attributed the unexpected, though partial restoration of her reason; which first discovered itself in a sudden, violent, and convulsive flood of tears—induced by a natural expression of my sorrow, while hanging over her bed, and contemplating those features, once informed with every charm, now divested of their first attraction, animation.
"WHEN the storm of tender passion was in some degree subsided, and the necessary volatiles had been administered, she took my hand into both her’s, trembling, emaciated, and scarcely able to grasp it;—then, with a low, inward voice, cried, "It is my JAMES—it is the son of misfortune!—they will not deprive me of a sight so precious:—Long have I wished—long have I sought him;—I looked into the confines of the tomb, but they had not hidden him there:—No, nor yet did the ethereal air bring upon its downy wings the treasure I desired;—yet, when I called he heard me."—She was interrupted—her wild and devious senses were not equal to the rapture of the moment. She sunk from my arms, which were extended to catch her; when the grasping eagerness with which she held me, was succeeded by such extreme weakness as obliged her to relax her hold—and her half closed eye, yet fixed upon me, though dim, and totally without lustre, was filled with an inexpressible tenderness; and she appeared, the sweet, resigned victim of unmerited afflictions.
"VARIOUS, from that period, were the symptoms of her disorder; but I was not long permitted to watch those various turns of it. The royal relative who had condescended to inspect the first rudiments of my learning, sent an order, no one dare dispute, for my immediate return to France—the humanity which had induced her to send me to Holland, for the purpose of visiting a dying parent, had no claim strong enough in her breast, to protract my stay till her destiny was determined—I wept—my very soul seemed to cling to the bosom which had fostered my helpless infancy—the very idea of my departure unsettled that judgement, no longer distinguished by calmness, fortitude, or equanimity; and I left her, under the excruciating supposition, that she had relapsed into decided madness.
"MELANCHOLY and unhappy, I was often upon the point of escaping from my tutors, to attend the beloved parent, whose indisposition was heightened by an absence, enforced by superior power—but the attention of those about me, prevented the many little schemes I had fabricated from succeeding; and several years were passing over my head, unenlightened by careless juvenility, and at no time gilded by youthful hopes.
"SITTING one memorable day in the closet appropriated to study, and accompanied only by a faithful friend, I was surprised at the appearance of THERESA; who, from the hour her services were no longer deemed important to me, had retired to Holland, where the affectionate girl dedicated her whole time to the care of my poor mother, soothing her wild excentric imagination, when under the influence of insanity; and arguing, comforting and consoling her, when a feeble glimmer of reason shed a beam of recollection on the dismal colour of her fate. The foreboding countenance, which spoke a thousand unwelcome tidings—forbid those enquiries I could not gather courage to make—THERESA saw the distressful conflict, but she could not relieve it—her tears were prophetic of all I dreaded—You may speak, THERESA, I cried; you may tell me—my mother is no more—yes, I can hear you with fortitude—I may weep, but what is my anguish to the innumerable floods which have deluged her eyes—if she be sainted, who shall dare to lament the very circumstance by which her happiness is at last secured.
"I HAVE," said the worthy creature, "a sad and disagreeable narrative to relate; and am thankful to that goodness, which enables you at these early years, to extract the essence from that bitter cup all must taste."
"I am prepared, THERESA; delay not a recital nature shudders to hear, while reason corrects her weakness." She bowed in dutiful acquiescence, and with a reluctant sigh, informed me, that, after my departure, her Lady’s ravings were incessant, nor did they intermit till, conquered by their own ungovernable violence, they sunk into the faint and languid expression of exhausted insanity. Whole days, deprived of light and society, would she linger in solitary sadness—sometimes conversing, in a low tone, with those fancied beings her deranged intellects supplied to the wanderings of an unsettled mind—sometimes calm, clear, and collected, she would advert to that unfortunate situation, which the fatal indulgence of ambition had induced. These intervals of sense became more frequent, till her constant attendant began to remit her usual watchfulness—and suffered her to take the air, without being subject to the eternal caution of those appointed to guard a harmless maniac. A strong desire of visiting England was now uppermost in her thoughts—her love for the neglectful object of it, urged the propriety of this plan;—invariably obstinate in the pursuit of this scheme, she would hear of no dissuasives, agree to no rejection of an intention, which promised nothing less than a confirmation of her wishes. Who was to contradict a deserted woman, already lost to the world, and every other connection, but those which had shook her very brain? Little preparations were necessary for such a voyage—THERESA followed the destiny of her hapless mistress, and the vessel landed them in safety at the Tower—fatigued, disordered, and scarcely able to articulate a question. She turned a disgusted ear from the artillery upon the wharf, which was discharging its awful thunder, at the moment she put her feet upon the steps; a carriage received her harrassed frame, and she was conveyed towards Westminster, amidst a confused and joyous populace, whose acclamations, joined to the ringing of bells, the preparations for bonfires, and illuminations in the highest stile of elegance, recalled her scattered spirits so far as to occasion her to express a faint curiosity to know the reasons for this unusual appearance. Alas! the cause was not wholly unknown to THERESA, who trembled for her unhappy Lady, and the resolution she had formed of proceeding directly to Whitehall.—My mother was satisfied with the ambiguous and aukward evasion of her conscious confidant, and again relapsed into dejected lassitude—till casting a look at the encreasing multitude which impeded her progress—
"AH!" she cried, "for whom do these bursts of applause rend the air? It is not for me, or my beloved JAMES, these testimonies of rude affection are shewn.—Unnoticed, disregarded, defamed, and cruelly dishonoured—no welcome greetings salute my ears—dreadful recollection—no tender partner waits impatient for my arrival—but yet," said she, suddenly raising her eyes to Heaven, "I may wrong him—perhaps when this fragile form shall sink before him—he may feel an honest shame for the woes he has inflicted—yes, THERESA, we may yet be happy." The colour with which animating hope had tinted her cheek—the brilliancy which had informed, with foreboding lustre, her beauteous orbs—soon vanished with the extatic sensation that had revived them; and she arrived at Charing-cross, in the same listless state in which she performed her voyage. It was impossible to proceed—the croud had completely wedged in the useless vehicle, and it was fixed near that of Lord SHAFTSBURY’S, whom she had formerly known. He immediately quitted his carriage, and went into hers—his countenance expressing a melancholy sympathy, awoke in my mother’s bosom a maddening suspicion—she caught his hand—"Why are you here, my Lord?—what means this strange confusion?— wherefore do these uncommon preparations every where meet my eye?—ah! you do not answer me:—There is a dreadful mystery couched in the intelligence you fear to communicate.—Where is your royal master?—I must see him—he can inform me—he will pierce, unreluctant, a heart which has ever retained his image to the exclusion of peace and happiness:—but we again move forward, and I hope to conviction."—Dear helpless angel—she was indeed soon convinced—. Though more than equal to the deep intrigues state policy was ever forming against him—though the touch of pity seldom operated upon feelings dutifully subordinate to the more manly principles, actuated by a vast and grasping mind—SHAFTSBURY could not decide the poor sufferer’s fate without a sincere repugnance, and hesitated in the disclosure of a fact he dreaded would produce the most direful consequences:—but her rapid guesses, saved the explanation friendship would have kept back. She looked at him with a penetrating awful steadiness—"Speak not, my Lord," she said, "you need not—He is married—" The composure of her air, the expressive silence which followed those few decisive words—made SHAFTSBURY’S affirmation unnecessary, and he was not sorry to be saved the task of reconciling her to an event, which, unskilled as he was in the nature of her disposition, seemed from a knowledge of its certainty to give the fortitude it in effect overcame. With difficulty they escaped the croud, and, without resistance, my mother permitted them to carry her to a relation of his Lordship’s; but, with horror THERESA perceived her wretched mistress had again fallen into a melancholy paroxysm of insanity, nor could her most affecting entreaties extract one word from the unconscious invalid.
"FOR several days she preserved a silence so distressing, when suddenly starting from the gloom which had overpowered every active faculty, and appearing as if she resumed the discourse so fatal to her repose—"I will see him," she cried, "who shall keep a lawful wife from the husband of her choice—ah! choice—how dear—how destructive
—" all restraint was now at an end; the mistaken tenderness of those to whose care SHAFTSBURY had entrusted the poor Lady, permitted not the exercise of that coercion necessary to her unhappy state; and, as arguments were useless where reason dictated not the opposition made to them—THERESA could only attend in submissive sorrow the excentric motions of her mistress, whose every idea was now concentred in that of seeking an interview with the King. When the mornings were serene enough to admit a hope of meeting company in the park, my mother, with that subtlety so usual to an insane person in pursuit of a scheme, the formation of which solely occupied a disturbed brain, would linger whole hours, attended by THERESA, near the spot where she yet hoped to meet the cause of all her miseries.
IT was just at the period when CHARLES, in defiance of duty, love—every principle that can distinguish man from the brute, who is less culpable, because less enlightened—determined to sacrifice the sacred claims of an unoffending son, a virtuous faithful partner—to the cold prudential motives dictated by political selfishness, and meanly tendered a guilty hand to the Infanta of Portugal, whose vast possessions, procured to her ambition a gratification uninfluenced by the sweet and gentle hope of reigning supreme in a heart, to which even the connubial engagement could give no legal title—but to be a Queen, was, in that lady’s estimation, a sufficient succedaneum for the happiness my father could not bestow. The pride of royalty supplying all the innumerable softnesses for ever expected, and for ever bestowed, where mutual confidence and mutual tenderness sanctifies the delightful union. It was well for CATHERINE that a love of pomp was united to the insensible gloom, generally characteristic of the Spaniards; which, in her disposition, tended to the exclusion of every humble sentiment, and proved her, though of Portuguese extraction, a descendant of that consequential nation, as it deadened that exquisite sensibility, which, irritated by CHARLES’S future conduct, must otherways have bled upon a thousand points.
"THE festive rejoicings which saluted the fair LUCY upon her first landing in England, was in consequence of the King’s marriage—and CATHERINE’S birth-day, which soon succeeded, renewed the general joy,—On the morning of that awful day, my hapless parent entered upon her usual peregrination, a vast croud interrupted her melancholy steps, and the loud acclamations of, "Long live the King and Queen," almost petrified her: she gazed upon THERESA—but her eyes conveyed such a dreadful meaning—so much horror was contained in that look as clearly demonstrated the sad conviction her tortured soul could no longer doubt.—Pressing into the thickest of the throng, with a vehemence scarcely to be resisted, and passing the guards—whose presence constituted in those days a necessary ceremony—she stood before the royal pair—God! what surprise—terror—guilt—and confusion almost convulsed his Majesty’s features, when, in the attitude of distraction, he saw the desolate undone LUCY—the first object of those vows so lightly tendered to many succeeding beauties.
"HE beheld the fair, gentle, and long abused victim to treachery,—beheld her at the moment when no means of recompence offered to lighten the load of guilt which oppressed his bosom almost to suffocation.—Her emaciated form was sunk upon the ground—her delicate hand held up to the wretched author of her sorrows as if demanding pity and redress!—With a wild and agonizing shriek, she resisted the humane attempt of several soldiers who endeavoured to raise her. THERESA could not get near enough to assist her, and was almost as frantic as the despairing maniac, who, with a momentary force, again disengaged herself, and kneeling before the mute astonished CHARLES— "One moment," she cried, "only one moment of the many dedicated to splendor, luxury; and thoughtless conviviality—I ask no more—hear but my supplication before I go hence—my child—the legal heir of your kingdom—by me requests an acknowledged legitimacy—no longer condemned to the obscurity his birth should protect him from—by me he asks the honors due to the race of STUART."
"BEAR her hence," said CHARLES: "is Majesty to be insulted by the claims of insanity?"—"I will not go, Madam," turning to the Queen, "adopt my child—be a mother to him—the place you have been taught to consider as your right is mine—but I am gone—just gone:—Nobody will upbraid my husband with my injuries.—The noble HENRIETTA fosters my son—but with you it remains to call him to greatness." CATHERINE was affected—pity, rage, contempt, even tenderness, produced the most striking revolutions on her countenance. She saw she had been deceived—she saw the King’s complexion tinged with conscious grief—she felt the indignity he had offered in espousing her as a free agent; but it was no time to express the rage of disappointed pride, which burnt up the tears that scalded as they fell.
"MY mother’s exertions became too powerful for the temporary strength which decided phrenzy had raised and supported—she sunk in the arms of a soldier, who turned his face aside to wipe away the effusion humanity made glorious to him—such was his agitation he could hardly support her, and the soft drops that gathered in the eye of true courage, dropt insensibly on the pale inanimate face, by the distressed appearance of which they were extorted. There was contagion in his artless grief—it spread far and wide. CHARLES stamped, and in a tone of ill-concealed anguish, commanded they should take her to some place of safety: she opened her eyes as they were passing, and caught his hand. He shuddered at the touch—but it was not dislike that shook his whole system; it was not abhorrence that informed his looks as she lifted her heavy eye to his; it was—a soft thrill of recollected bliss, that passed from his heart to the hand she pressed. It was—O my God—it was but the momentary extacy never to be repeated; for, after a strong and sudden convulsion, she relaxed her hold—and—O BRUCE, pardon her beloved son, while he pauses one minute upon the circumstance that followed.
"YES, it was almost too shocking for repetition—the spotless soul escaped in that awful moment. Lifeless—like the lilly hung her lovely head—her arms fell motionless by her sides.—It was a scene too poignant for the Queen, who perceiving the terrible catastrophe, could not bear up against the unexpected denouement—and was carried off hardly sensible. But my father, in the pride of greatness—in the possession of recovered rights—adored by his people, and of an age and turn to seek and enjoy pleasure—felt—how inefficacious were those advantages, when deprived of the consolation innocence bestows—and sighed for the hour of retirement, that he might indulge his wearied soul in the open expression of stifled grief—
"THE angel, whose sufferings were now forever terminated, was conveyed through a pitying multitude, whose sighs and tears were envied by the unhappy CHARLES at the instant when his heart was wrung, and every fibre strained to the most painful excess—for oh! what must be the feelings of her murderer?—But I will now gather into my own bosom the sorrows which such a repetition must naturally excite—when the page of my dear mother’s sufferings is sanctified by the tears of a stranger—sacred be those generous effusions which adorn my friend’s venerable face.—THERESA followed the sad cavalcade to the abode SHAFTSBURY had chosen for them, where she was soon joined by that nobleman, who confessed he had received the commands of Majesty to have the remains of my mother interred with the utmost splendour. Vain hope of making the amends no earthly grandeur could supply; for what were the sable plumes and costly trappings, to a soul torn from its lovely habitation by the rude violence of barbarous insensibility: well might CHARLES sacrifice in friendless solitude, the tear of pity to the memory of that fair and faded flower he had so cruelly cropped, whose fragrance he had destroyed, whose delicacy he had sullied, and whose pure and lively tints his bold hand had expunged—well might he shun his Queen’s society, or, when dragged by hated ceremony to grace the banquet with his royal presence, no wonder he would peevishly contradict, or coldly disregard the haughty CATHERINE, who, from that period, found her dislike justified by his neglectful behaviour.
"BUT though neither pity, justice, nor humanity, could plead a helpless woman’s cause, her last solemn injunctions were not totally uncomplied with; and I was brought forward with every advantage but the only one essential to my future glory;—alas, it was long ’ere I surmounted the shock THERESA’S information communicated; and looked with a cold reservedness upon the apparent eagerness with which my father planned his son’s advancement. The simple denomination of JAMES CROFTS, was lost in the high-sounding title of JAMES, Duke of MONMOUTH. Fortune, dignity, all that expressed the shadow of greatness, without its reality, distinguished even my early youth;—but as the purity of my dear mother’s ideas descended to me, with the pretensions that had long embittered her life, I could not see myself deprived of a right to those pretensions, without the most pungent grief.
"THE death of HENRIETTA put a period to my residence in France; and I came to England, with a fixed and invariable dislike to the Duke of York, whose determined and gloomy bigotry to the Romish faith, had already filled my father’s subjects with sentiments similar to my own;—but what were their predictions, when CHARLES settled the succession, in failure of his own male issue, upon his proud and deceitful brother? effectually by that stroke depriving me of every chance my sanguine soul had hitherto appropriated, of one day mounting a throne I was born to. The nearness of blood in which I stood to this jealous claimant of unmerited royalty, and the affection which was accorded me by all ranks of people, together with the partiality my father expressed for the son of his youth, arouzed suspicions in that furious zealot, which my careless and independant manners strengthened. He saw in me a formidable rival, and scrupled not, by the meanest subterfuges, to inculcate opinions to my discredit, whenever he could obtain the ear of Majesty. Open, disdaining servility, and secure in a firm reliance upon the ascendancy I had gained over the King—my soul spurned the idea of retaliation; and the marked contempt of my behaviour irritated, where prudence perhaps would have urged the necessity of conciliation.—But who can inspire ardent youth with the practice of reason’s cold, phlegmatic precepts? whose fiery activeness prevents the operation of discriminating judgement. With pain my father witnessed the daily bickerings between a son and brother; which were heightened by those, whose interest lay with either party, and rendered the court perfectly uncomfortable. Indeed he saw more deeply into the Duke’s designs, than my inexperience could fathom—but no one could more certainly develope those designs than SHAFTSBURY;—that nobleman, who had passed much of his life in the intricate study of politics, felt nothing of the true patriotism, which shuts our eyes to every object that may interfere with the love we owe our country, deadens the sense of corporeal punishment, and gives dignity to the axe and scaffold—nor did a review of the evils JAMES’S future administration might produce, at all influence his sentiments respecting that Prince’s pretensions: but thoroughly provoked by his duplicity, shallow understanding, and low cunning—he thought proper to encourage me in the claim I made no scruple of asserting, when stung by the illiberal reflections of the artful Duke.
"MY youth, situation, and warm, impetuous disposition, proved not the smallest obstacles to those rapid promotions his Majesty was pleased to indulge me with; and my successes in the important offices delegated me, confirmed CHARLES in his inclination to seek every occasion of exalting the poor LUCY’S offspring. A circumstance happened about this time, which, while it filled the nation with foreboding horrors, induced my countrymen to turn their eyes with additional affection upon me. The Duke of York, willing to strengthen his attachment to a Popish belief, thought proper to send proposals of marriage to MARY, sister to FRANCIS Duke of Modena; to which my father unhappily consented, and, by so doing, gave a just suspicion of his own religious principles tending that way. The parliament declaimed vehemently against a measure so dangerous;—the people remonstrated; and at length, induced by a sense of his own precarious circumstances, CHARLES was necessitated to relax in an affair he was obliged to put a negative upon, and deprived the Earl of Shaftsbury of his office, as the Chancellor, while secretly favouring my cause, was suspected of leaning more strongly towards JAMES: but this seeming severity prevented not the celebration of their nuptials, and grounded a rooted aversion in those bosoms, that had never before admitted a thought, derogatory to the duty which had uniformly descended from father to son, and for which their best blood had flowed, their hereditary possessions been forfeited, and their domestic comforts destroyed.
"The encreasing hatred that subsisted between JAMES and myself, induced the King to express an inclination for my taking the command of some troops, destined to foreign service. The thirst of glory, so natural to youthful minds, prevented the slightest opposition to his will; and, when the campaign was finished, I returned loaden with applause, crowned with success—and the more immediate object of my uncle’s fears and apprehensions, which the joyous clamour of a giddy populace improved to a degree scarcely supportable. That envy, jealousy, and just dread the Duke had conceived against a competitor so highly countenanced by his numerous enemies, were powerful bars to the happiness his second marriage could not ensure. My residence at court, and increasing influence, shook his most sanguine hopes; and, unable to witness what he could not prevent, he retired to Brussels.
"WHAT now remained to check the laudable expectations I had encouraged—The King—pardon me, DONALD, for thus freely impeaching the public conduct of him, whose private character not the grossest pencil of adulation could describe as faultless—the King had added the most glaring proofs of a weak administration, to errors of a more domestic nature;—he became arbitrary, even cruel—the lowest and most contemptible vipers, that can blast the peace of a generous People, were by him countenanced and supported;—informing wretches, who had before served the purpose of an opposite faction, were now brought forward by that deluded Prince;—vile reptiles, who, hanging upon the pure and wholesome tree, blighted with their poisonous breath the fair blossom of liberty, while they extracted its invaluable sweets. The gentle, the honourable, the aged, boasted no antidote powerful enough to counteract the baleful effects of perjured information. STAFFORD, thou noble, and ever to be lamented martyr, not thy spotless character, numerous years, earnest protestations of innocence, and pure integrity, could rescue thee from the gripe of infamous tyranny. Even the vulgar herd, unused to oppose the general stream of credulous belief, wept in testimony of thy injuries; and, while contemplating that meek and heavenly countenance, upon which time had impressed a thousand venerable wrinkles, shuddered to behold the impending axe, ready to deprive thee of thy little remnant of existence. SHAFTSBURY also felt the rod of oppression—who dropping the veil so long held between the King and his principles, declared publickly his intention of supporting my future claim against the Duke of York, and was confined some months in the Tower. These impolitical proceedings, therefore, served only to confirm my numerous adherents in their resolution of raising me to the throne after my father’s decease: but as an open expression of their sentiments was not at present safe, or necessary—and as the general dislike his Majesty’s subjects had conceived against the Duke, was attributed to my insinuations by the Catholic party, who had influenced CHARLES to withdraw that confidence my services and consanguinity demanded, upon a suspicion that the brilliancy of my exploits would obscure his brother’s fame—it occurred to me to solicit permission to visit the northern counties; wishing my absence might contribute to silence the turbulence of faction, which every day broke forth in illegal accusations, and incessant applications for justice. The facility with which my request was granted, was clearly the effect of lately-conceived disgust—and I departed in the full persuasion, that a public adoption of my views would totally annihilate the parental tenderness I once fondly fancied no earthly occurrence could deprive me of.
"AS my aim, in this excursion, pointed materially to the securing an interest among the Scottish nobility, and their vassals, I embraced every opportunity of conciliating their confidence, engaging their esteem, and cautiously unfolding the plan, which I hoped would meet their concurrence. It did meet their concurrence;—all ranks, all parties, all ages, entered into schemes which promised every advantage the gloomy JAMES was secretly striking at;—and my everlasting gratitude was engaged, by their reception of me as heir-apparent. How soothing to the laudable ambition which burnt in my glowing bosom, were the numerous invitations I accepted from the noble chiefs of the various clans inhabiting the Highlands;—and what strange, transporting sensations palpitated my heart, when introduced to the Earl of BUCCLEUGH’S romantic seat; for there I first beheld the enchanting ANNA SCOTT. Gentle creature, never shall I forget the various graces that broke upon my dazzled sight, when introduced by thy noble parent—Ah! do I not now behold that unspeakable sweetness—that gracious modesty—that mild, yet fascinating expression, which played upon her lovely countenance—those languid azure eyes—that air of conscious dignity. "Such," said I to my empassioned soul, "be the woman I would raise to a throne;—those charms—that form—would give consequence to royalty. What numberless ideas confused my disordered mind, passing too crouded and rapidly to be ascertained.
"MONMOUTH," said the Earl, "my daughter hopes to congratulate you as her future liege." He smiled— "Accept her dutiful obedience." O, BUCCLEUGH! wary—deep—well read in the study of the human heart, how couldst thou offer that obedience my soul was already prostrate to return!
"THE Duke is a courtier, my ANNA," continued the Earl, "do you not wonder at his silence." What pure, what deepening tints overspread her polished cheek at this remark, and the action which accompanied it—for he put her trembling hand into mine. With the reverence of an Anchorite I conveyed it to my lips. "Excuse, Madam," I cried, "the freedom with which I accept this invaluable obligation.
"O, HOW she looked—but you have seen my ANNA—and, though terror, sickness, and fatigue, may discountenance the credit I would exact for my description—yet she was then more than the tongue of enraptured love can define. How did the prospect of future glory, though gilded by ambition’s sun, vanish from my eager perception, when obscured by the humbler enjoyments of domestic bliss. How faintly shone those bright and well-founded schemes, when overpowered by the indescribable hope of calling ANNA mine. The moments passed with a rapidity I never before experienced. She listened, while rambling through the vast and various mazes of her father’s rude, yet magnificent gardens, to the effusions of my ardent affections, with a chaste and modest attention; and, when touching with inimitable taste, grace, and expression, the sweet lute—ethereal harmony lulled my senses. Sometimes, when retired from the tumult of a joyous croud, whose prognostications of my success were enforced with a potency too violent for the ear of delicacy—she would sooth her MONMOUTH’S soul with her prudent plans of future felicity, or recite, in its genuine purity, the charming production of FINGAL. With what sacred delight my bosom palpitated in those delicious minutes!—but this charming delirium could not continue.
"THE Earl, with a frankness characteristic of ancient nobleness, called back the purpose which had given way to love, and roused the dormant principles of laudable power.— "MONMOUTH," he said, "to you the sons of Caledonia look up, for the future protection of their rights and privileges;—they tremble for the safety of those tender infants your resolution must preserve. The massacre at Pentland-hills still agonizes their souls—and the execrable memory of DALZIEL turns the milk of human kindness to sanguinary intentions of exemplary vengeance. Loiter not, then, in the lap of indolence, while JAMES, at Edinburgh, is striving to establish an opinion of your illegitimacy. My child is your’s—she is the blessing upon which I lean for happiness. In giving her to the heir of a contested crown, I expose her to a thousand dangers;—her fate will be eminently distinguished, but it will be interwoven with MONMOUTH’S. Should female tenderness, at the moment your well-planned schemes are ripening into dangerous action, shrink from the bold hope of success; and, in the contemplation of inglorious safety, venture to breathe the smallest wish, incompatible with the vast projects you have formed, listen not to the weak insinuation;—cast her from your bosom, as unworthy a confidence so noble; nor think that a parent, though he trembles for her future welfare, will countenance her cowardly fears, which would raise an indignant blush upon a cheek unused to glow, but when the sacred calls of honour force the burning blood through every beating vein.
"WHAT a solemn charge!—What a sweet and lovely gift!—"Yes;" I cried, while with a bent knee I accepted the hand, sanctified by consenting love, and the rich approbation of a powerful ally—"Yes, BUCCLEUGH, you read my inmost heart;—the crown of England becomes yet more precious, when irradiated by such a gem. The distant prospect of a trust so aweful—so consequential—holds forth temptations more desirable, from the certainty of sharing with such a partner the government of a mighty nation.
"PAUSE here one moment, DONALD, on the great, the noble, the happy lot, fortune seemed to have chosen for the most distinguished of her favourites. Reflect upon my expectations, hopes, and wishes—all in a train for the fullest accomplishment. What a circle of friends! What a blooming bride! Judgement—prudence—even passion—decided in favour of the most sanguine assurances of happiness. Pleasure, in the garb of innocence, held out the chastest allurements. Ambition felt her most extensive claims gratified. Love—enchanting love—just, pure, and successful—militated not against duty—warred not against reason. It flattered my vanity—It did more—it exalted my pride. An alliance with BUCCLEUGH concentered the most illustrious names in Scotland, and drew, in particular, the heroic ARGYLE to my interest. An union with the charming ANNA secured my interest with all her noble relatives. No difficulties impeded the completion of my marriage;—no false delicacy protracted the holy ceremony. Conscious of her worth, and not insensible of my important situation, she found, in the gentle commands of her father, a sanction for the preference she owned, with an amiable diffidence and ingenuous modesty. Pause then, BRUCE, upon MONMOUTH’S felicity;—momentary, and in the instant of possession, it was ready to take an unexpected flight;—it was but the shadow of a substance ever in view—perhaps never to be overtaken;—a brilliant meteor, whose rays diffused a false glare—dazzling, rather than aiding, a perception too weak to bear its blinding influence.
"NOT long was my soul permitted to repose upon happiness so exquisite—the patriotic BUCCLEUGH, the warm and spirited ARGYLE, united with SHAFTSBURY, in expediting the business which had carried me to Scotland—nor would suffer me to disguise any longer those principles which as yet were not publicly known to the commonalty of England.—The last-mentioned nobleman urged the necessity of a tour through that kingdom, as YORK’S name now inspired terror among those whose ancestors had so cruelly suffered in MARY’S short, but sanguinary reign; and CHARLES, who was once the idol of his people, could no longer shelter himself under a partiality he had taken so much pains to destroy, by his attempt to abolish the penal law, and his weak and criminal attachment to a brother, whose succession was deprecated as the worst of evils. To whom then should a nation, so apprehensive, look up to for the protection their King withheld?—Was it not highly natural they should conciliate the affections of him through whom they hoped to enjoy the protestant religion and its privileges, so lately established, and already so powerfully attacked. "What danger," argued my noble father-in-law, "can attend the full discovery of your sentiments—hasten then, my son, to undeceive your anxious countrymen—prove the royalty of your descent, the lawfulness of your pretensions—CHARLES cannot justly take offence, while you plead only the right of succession. Secure such an interest in the bosoms of the people as will, at a proper season, be the firmest basis on which to erect the throne of your ancestors—for this hypothesis is undoubted, That the strength of a kingdom lies not solely in the higher power; and personal might, when concentered in the body of the nation, (more particularly when that body and its members are governed by one consenting heart), will stand against all the force nobility can bring—above all, MONMOUTH, be not obscure in your principles; let not the shadow of a doubt envelope your sacred professions—remember, upon these professions depends the completion of your vast and extensive schemes. The task of governing the English is not so easy as your unhappy grandfather supposed—the due medium between despotism and a listless indulgence is extremely difficult to hit. To hold the reins with equal prudence and judgement, requires deep forecast, a penetrating eye, a steady, firm, yet gentle hand. The English, like the various climate they live under, differ materially in their prejudices, propensities and dispositions; but in two things they all unite—an ardent love of liberty, and a tenacious and noble adherence to the faith they have adopted. Remember then, my son, the more arduous the undertaking the greater will be your glory, when success shall crown your future exertions.—Think not of your wife—let not an idea of her—feminize a soul that should now burn, but for glory and a crown. I will not suffer the most trifling weakness to sully a cause so important—nor must a sigh agitate that bosom, but what is impelled by stifled ambition:—my daughter shall be no clog upon your vast designs—she shall not hang a dead weight upon the noble resolutions of her husband.—Here she will be safe.—Speak ANNA, and confirm my expectations of your fortitude, say, shall I derive honour from my child—or, will she cast a disgraceful shade upon mine?"
"NEVER, my dear Lord," said the sweet creature, "shall your daughter give reason to doubt her affinity to such a parent—but—and she cast her eye upon me—but—for MONMOUTH"—heavenly woman—the expressions of her melting heart evaporated in a sigh—a tear.—
"LEAVE her," said the stern and awful Buccleugh, "leave the worthless, selfish female, who prefers inglorious obscurity to the reversion of a crown. She is no longer my daughter—BUCCLEUGH’S offspring should possess a Roman spirit—but she disappoints my sanguine hopes, which were built upon the presumption of seeing a race of heroes spring from ANNA SCOTT."
"YOU wonder, BRUCE, at the retention of that memory which can so easily transmit to a distant period, scenes and conversations of such import—but indelible is the sad impression of melancholy subjects, and equally strong those of a blissful tendency."—
DONALD, whose attention was deeply engaged by the interesting recital, bowed only in token of his assent to the Duke’s observation, who perceiving the eagerness with which the venerable listener honoured his melancholy tale, continued to excite his pity and admiration. "Without drawing a line between masculine intrepidity and the more gentle feminine graces which distinguish the softer sex—Buccleugh expected the same courageous exertions from my lovely wife, as more properly became her fond admiring husband:—to contradict the haughty emotions of his soul would have been the utter destruction of all I had so successfully planned—yet to behold the dear object of my tenderest affection, sinking under the weight of an impenetrable father’s resentment, was more than humanity could support. I raised her to my bosom, and addressing the Earl— "You cannot, my Lord," said I, "reprobate your child for possessing that tenderness which marks the boundaries between the sexes—The Roman spirit sunk with the Roman name. In giving her to me, you gave her to the protector of her honour—she needs not the ferocity that formerly gave women the power of avenging their own injuries: once that ferocity was numbered among (or rather stood above) the virtues of their sex—but you could not wish to see your daughter command, like BOADICEA, an undisciplined army, and hurl the mighty javelin, or drive her chariots over heaps of murdered fellow-creatures; nor can I think the warlike BUCCLEUGH could derive any satisfaction, if, like PORTIA, she were content to swallow fire. Suffice it then, my Lord, that she can with an amiable patience, and proper dignity, give up the husband of her choice to his uncertain fate—and while no fatiguing complaints render her society disgustful to you—condemn not the partiality she may at times express for the man you have honoured with her hand."
"I see," said the Earl, turning from us to hide an emanation of subdued pride, which softened his features—"I see how vain it is to contend for a superiority so lately given up—but forget not, that I expect in her future conduct to see your assurances realized."
"ARGYLE and SHAFTSBURY interrupted a scene so painful—and BUCCLEUGH, renewing the advice which his irritated spirit had embittered—left me no plea strong enough to oppose the mighty trio; and, in an evil moment, I consented to encounter dangers foreseen, but not shunned. SHAFTSBURY accompanied me to England, and I left—Oh what a moment of anguish was that—when her father led my bride from the window, where she had placed herself to watch the departure of that boat which lingered, by my command, near the shore, till the waving of a snowy handkerchief signified the instant of an agonizing separation. Yes, BRUCE, I left the venerable castle with sensations not to be described—ten thousand blessings, I exclaimed, remain with my love—ANNA—dearest ANNA, adieu.
"WHAT different feelings occupied my mind, when the politic Shaftsbury presented me to the opulent inhabitants of those towns and villages through which we passed, as the indubitable heir-apparent—and how my soul panted to signalize its ardour in behalf of those unhappy people, who, with uplifted hands, besought my assistance against the oppressive methods already taken to reduce the spirit of independence, and prepare them for JAMES’S reign, and a diabolical slavery. The mask was now pulled off—I was called upon to avow my intention of claiming an indefeasible right to the succession. The counties of Cumberland; Northumberland—the Bishopric of Durham—Yorkshire, and the whole northern circuit, engaged to promote my interest; and many of those to whom my father had rendered himself obnoxious, ventured some oblique hints of their readiness to set me upon that throne I only solicited the reversion of;—but, discouraged by the zeal with which I espoused his cause, they hazarded not my further displeasure; but, (encreasing my train, which was already not only become august, but even formidable), I was escorted to London, amidst the acclamations of a numerous populace, who, with that warm and thoughtless sincerity, which consults neither time, situation, nor convenience, raised, by their indiscreet zeal, a flame, which not the most prudent and guarded behaviour on my side could ever allay—but as my enemies found all their attempts to bring home a charge of high-treason was rendered futile by my father’s disbelief of the reports continually and infamously circulated, I was still permitted the indulgence of that liberty JAMES’S adherents were seeking to destroy.
"ENGLAND now became a scene of confusion. The Catholic party, with their usual severity, sought the discovery of every man’s principles, who, led by necessary caution, chose to preserve silence upon a subject so pregnant with danger. The politic SHAFTSBURY could not stand a test so hazardous, notwithstanding he had before so openly asserted his intention to oppose the papal succession, and retired to Holland, impressed with an idea that destruction to himself and friends lowered on the Duke’s sullen brow; and, Heaven only knows, whether the consequences that immediately followed his departure imported good or evil to my cause; but a very few days for ever settled the plots and schemes perpetually occupying a restless brain, and he submitted, however unwillingly, to the mighty conqueror of kings and princes. His death was sudden; and, as it happened in a country whose ruin he had just before urged in Parliament, in those remarkable words, Delenda da est Carthago, the foes of Holland were not backward in attributing his demise to Dutch policy.
"THE disturbances which a set of wretches had fomented became still more serious. ARGYLE, with whom I constantly corresponded, warned me to abscond, till conviction had undeceived the credulous, and mortified the undesigning; for, to my utter surprize, I was named as the first of a conspiracy, enleagued to assassinate the king. Indignation urged me to continue my appearance at court, as an effectual means to prove the innocence their calumnies had blackened;—but the brave heroes who had united their fate with mine, added their entreaties to ARGYLE’S for my flight; and Lord HOWARD’S country-seat was named for my residence—as being convenient to the purpose of holding our secret consultations. Insinuating, soft, and graceful, this nobleman was fitter to preside over amorous intrigues, than the bold and warlike counsels with which our little cabinet was filled;—nor could CHARLES’S court boast a libertine more practised in the arts of female seduction:—but his attachment to our cause—the readiness he manifested when called upon to declare his sentiments, left not a doubt of his sincerity in my bosom; and, with that weakness inseparable from an open disposition, I told him the most important secrets of my heart—described the beauties and mental excellencies of my sweet bride—the heroic stedfastness of her father—the particulars of our marriage—all were laid before him, with that frankness for which, though I daily lament it, no cure has yet presented. How patiently he attended the effusion of a lover, and how fast he wound the chain of deception about my soul. When the business that had linked me to him took its turn in conversation, how readily was I predisposed to adopt his advice—accept his instructions, and rest upon him, in common with my real friends, for support—no wonder, DONALD, when he made no scruple of attempting to raise those hopes—those wishes—those desires—so soothing to wild, impassioned affection—and often would urge me to send for the charming creature; offering his habitation as a secure asylum for my love. It was in the rustic stile, and delightfully situated on the banks of the Medway, above Rochester-bridge, skirted by a beautiful copse, through which was cut, in defiance of the formal taste which has so long prevailed, a variety of walks, running in a mazy direction through the wood—while the boughs that sheltered them were suffered to wave in full luxuriance, without being trimmed by the sheers of an unnatural artist. These solitary paths, avenues of elms, and rude shrubberies, gave the charms of novelty to a spot so pleasingly simple, and gratified the philosophic observer in a higher degree than the appearance of statues, fountains, and melancholy evergreens, so common in the gardens of our nobility.
"FROM a little gate, opening to an opposite hill, I have often wandered to the brows of the surrounding eminences, and endeavoured, after the tedious occurrences of the day, to throw off the heavy clog which state affairs had fastened upon a mind still fervently devoted to the remembrance of chaste tenderness. Sometimes, incapable of fear, I have lingered among those sweet enclosures, till the early dawn has awakened me from the delirium of a disordered imagination. Autumn was now pretty far advanced, but it hindered not my excursions. A plot, which seemed to bear the face of probability, and was the offspring of HOWARD’S brain, occupied my mind one evening, or rather mixed with the idea of my love—I pursued it till, unconscious of the way I had taken, a sudden light induced me to lift up my eyes, when I perceived a pale, soft effulgence diffuse itself about me. There was no moon, but, above my head, appeared a glaring meteor, that streamed from East to West, forming a grand variegated arch, over the northern sky;—it was desultory, and took the most fantastic shapes. Sometimes fiery and terrible it darted, with an awful radiance, towards the horizon—then, suddenly rising, trembled with an irregular motion in the air. During the height of these singular evolutions, my eye was caught by the appearance of a warrior, whose armour reflected the brightness I had admired. I watched his motions. The element that distinguished him arrested my attention, which scarcely changed its object till his nearer approach convinced me he was not alone. A youth, whose scarcely perceptible movement declared excessive fatigue, hung upon his arm, as if unable to walk without assistance. I gazed—they saw me and stopped. The lad stood suspended, as though restrained by cautious fear—when suddenly rushing forward, he fell upon my bosom, and softly in a convulsive sob—sighing out the name of MONMOUTH, sunk into silent insensibility.—"Gracious God," I cried, "what can this mean?—Speak, Sir—say who is this gentleman. The stranger—stranger do I say—Ah! how did my heart reject the unfriendly term, when he exclaimed—"O MONMOUTH,—ARGYLE calls upon thee to receive thy ANNA."—My ANNA—fainting—perhaps dying—her delicacy, sullied by a masculine dress. The lovely object of my meditations interrupting them so unexpectedly, and in a situation that rendered her loved presence almost undesired.—Enfeebled by excessive surprise, I tremulously bore the precious burthen, accompanied by ARGYLE, towards the garden, when Lord HOWARD, who (attracted by the luminous phenomenon) had walked out to examine its curious appearance, came towards us.—My friend drew back, but HOWARD, to whom he was well known, immediately discovered him. "Fear not," he said, "my Lord, we are joint adherents in MONMOUTH’S cause, seek not to hide that honoured person from one who will receive you with open arms."
"YES," I cried, "it is ARGYLE—he brings my wife—sweet creature—she dies in her husband’s arms. If ever the weakness which manhood disdains can be justified—it is, when our tears are sanctified by duty—when nature, love, and generous pity, call forth the gentle effusion—tears, thus excited, ran from my glowing cheek upon the pallid face of my angel—tears, thus excited—even the heroic ARGYLE could scarcely condemn—no more than he could blame the raptures her protracted recovery created—for inexpressible was the delight I felt, when returning life again animated the gentle frame too soft to bear the united force of concurring passions.
"I will no longer harrass you with descriptions not absolutely necessary to my story, but hasten to the cause which had blessed me with the presence of visitors so invaluable.
"SOON after my departure from Scotland, the noble BUCCLEUGH felt the impossibility of long contending against the fury of a rapid decline, which his ardent endeavours to serve me had undoubtedly precipitated—but his mighty soul was yet unconquered—and, with incredible fortitude, he arranged his temporal affairs, consigning my ANNA to the care of ARGYLE, whose tried faith made him an eligible protector of a trust so sacred. It was with the sincerest grief, the dear creature quitted her deceased parent, who departed in the very moment of giving up a wardship so precious.—Informed of the dangers which surrounded my unfortunate friends, and convinced by authentic intelligence of my uncomfortable situation, the hapless itinerant, though determined to seek an asylum in her husband’s arms, however repugnant to her feminine feelings, was induced to assume a disguise powerful enough to escape suspicion, and with her friendly guardian travelled through the most unfrequented roads to the seat of ALGERNON SYDNEY, where they were shocked with the information of his imprisonment, and my disgrace. An ancient servant, who was intrusted with the secret of my flight, and knowing the Earl, pointed out a ready road to Lord HOWARD’S, but their horses failing within ten miles, the poor old man, who had accompanied them so far, was necessitated to stop at a lone cottage, after directing them in the best manner he was able; but night approaching, they wandered, unconscious of the way, and at the instant I recognized my poor sufferer, as she was sinking through fatigue and distress of mind.
"THE superiority claimed by our advisers, and those who appear to sacrifice every selfish advantage to our benefit, made me cheerfully accord to the request HOWARD thought proper to enforce respecting my ANNA’S accommodation, which was to accept his apartment, as more convenient than that appropriated to my service; and I beheld with gratitude his solicitude to render Howard Park agreeable to his guests.
"FOR some weeks I experienced all the happiness our charming, though little, society could bestow; the days were passed in forming plans for liberating our friends, or forwarding our glorious schemes for future freedom—the evenings in the sweet intercourse of souls, whose sentiments were in perfect unison—but a cloud, composed of the most noxious venom, too soon shed its poisonous mischief upon hearts too simple and sincere to guard against its subtle effects.
"THE first symptoms of its dark malignity overspread my ANNA’S features: if spoken to suddenly, a transient blush animated a face not perfectly restored to its original loveliness, while a constant melancholy supplied the place of that peaceful serenity which, till then, declared the tranquil state of her mind: whole days she chose to pass alone—and how those days were employed, her inflamed eyes too truly ascertained;—even to me she was shy. ARGYLE’S generous attention was received with politeness, but she was cold, grave and solemn. HOWARD, insinuating, gentle, and over sedulous, seemed not to possess the confidence she withheld from us. Distracted at this strange foreboding alteration, I implored her to speak the cause—but no—she could only lift up her hands to heaven, then look upon me, with such a sad meaning as froze every idea, and chilled my throbbing heart: again I urged—entreated—nay I menaced:—the distressed angel—I dared to breathe horrible doubts of her virtue. She bore it with a saint-like mildness—she even smiled—for self-approbation, at the moment I basely accused her, spread a charming glow over her sweet features—and the tear extorted by my cruel vehemence, was as the tribute delicacy paid to the character never before sullied by the slightest taint.
"ON the third evening, after my ineffectual attempt to develope the mystery—as I was conversing with ARGYLE upon the inexplicable change in her disposition, my ANNA entered the room—gazed upon us with an air of such agonizing distress, and then suddenly rushing out again, that I could no longer repel the truth of a shocking suspicion which had lately possessed my soul—I started up, and wringing my hands—exclaimed, "yes, my friend, I have indeed wronged her—sweet creature, her intellects are too surely deranged." ARGYLE would have spoken, but his words were lost in speechless grief, and we remained some minutes, when she again entered, and catching my arm, cried, "you are lost—betrayed—ruined—undone—you are now in the worst of snares—I have too long delayed—" Oh! but what an interruption followed this cruel surprise—my benefactor—my adherent—the treacherous HOWARD, who, unperceived by me, had followed her—rudely pulled her from me, and with a sarcastic smile, said, "You have indeed been somewhat late in your caution, I shall no longer secret such imminent traitors;" and then stamping his foot, the room was immediately filled with soldiers. Insensible to every thing but the capture of my love, who, in a voice of the most piercing anguish, implored my protection from the barbarian who was dragging her out of the room, I fought like a raging madman. Two soldiers lay dead at my feet, who interposed between us.—The cowardly wretch had the advantage of numbers in his favour, and left us to decide a contest which was sure to end fatally on my side—while, sheltered from my fury by his partizans, he carried off my treasure. The unequal engagement was soon decided; ARGYLE, covered with the blood of his enemies, and breathless from this violent exertion, with indignant rage beheld himself the prisoner of a monster; and calling to me, who still fought, animated by despair, "Submit, MONMOUTH, it is their turn now—it may not be always so." Indeed, I could no longer contend—my sword was broken, my strength had failed, and I sunk in sullen agony before our conquerors. We were then conveyed to a room, whose bars and bolts seemed to indicate we were not the first unfortunates confined there; and, after disgracing us with vile manacles, we were left to the tormenting reflections such a situation must necessarily create. The gloom of a prison, the decided assurance that our plots were circumvented, our schemes betrayed, and our brightest hopes blasted by the villainy we could not soon enough suspect, were only secondary considerations:—my ANNA—my earthly happiness—was snatched from my doating eyes—left to the power of him who had ruined her husband. I groaned—I imprecated—I almost blasphemed—when, to heighten my sufferings, HOWARD, the author of this mighty evil, entered our dungeon with an air of triumph. I rose from the ground—I threw myself upon him—the weight brought him to the earth, and, fettered as I was, his cowardly soul must have escaped beneath my tremenduous vengeance, if his cries had not brought some servants to his assistance—"Give me my wife—restore my friends—vile serpent—where is my ANNA?—is she to suffer for our ill-placed confidence?" O how I raved—my brain could scarcely bear the tumult which worked up from my burning heart. He heard me—he even smiled at the incoherence of my rage—and—shall I ever forget the insult—he even dared to mention the honor of my spotless Duchess, as the price of my liberty. Had I not cause, DONALD, to execrate the Court in which a weed so poisonous had flourished—and almost to cause the parent, whose licentious conduct had been so closely copied by the reptiles, whose dirty track so many perfidious actions had marked with glaring infamy? Language cannot convey the feelings of my soul, when he yet added another pang to those already tearing the ligaments that bound me to a wretched world, by throwing me a paper in which I read the condemnation of ESSEX, RUSSEL, HAMPDEN and SYDNEY, and then scornfully retired.—What agonies, what exclamations followed his departure; I crawled to ARGYLE—I laid my beating temple against his friendly bosom—I blessed the warm sighs which burst from his sympathising heart.— "Have you no comfort," sobbed out the unhappy MONMOUTH, "to give a poor tortured lover? Cannot humanity suggest one hope to keep alive flattering expectation?"—No, the saddest silence followed my address—for words were too feeble to express the force of those boiling passions, which revenge was feeding with the contemplation of future miseries.
"A LONG and dismal confinement followed this barbarous exertion of lawless power; no cheerful countenance smiled upon our captivity. None, whose pity was strong enough to promise a mitigation of our misery, were suffered to pervade the dreary abode; slowly and reluctantly did hope retire from my bosom; but I could no longer cherish a phantom by which I had so often been misled. The spirit of ARGYLE, unsubdued by love, and supported by laudable pride, submitted not patiently to the harsh vindictive usage we daily received, and was continually contriving plots our watchful guard for ever rendered futile. Our table was regularly, though scantily, served by people whose fidelity had, no doubt, been often tried, so that every attempt I made to come (through their intelligence) at the knowledge of my ANNA’S fate, only heightened the anguish of uncertainty. A small grated window, too high for us to reach, had often been the object of ARGYLE’S plan for our escape, and as we were sitting one afternoon, eagerly meditating upon its construction, my friend started up in the utmost surprise, and ran towards it. My astonishment was rouzed to an equal degree, when I beheld a paper thrust through the bars, which he joyfully caught and holding it out, "See MONMOUTH," he cried, in a low tone of voice, "Heaven at last has interfered, and we shall be free." With transport I perused the contents; and never shall I forget the tidings they engraved upon my heart. It was addressed to my friend in the following terms:
"THE knowledge of my Lord’s captivity has pierced the heart of his ancient and trusty servant, who he may recollect conducted him and his young friend from Sydney House towards this inhospitable roof; nor can my Lord have forgotten the accident which obliged me to leave them upon the road; but I have the happiness to think your escape is once again in my power, if my noble Lord will condescend to employ the means. I will, in the evening, contrive to thrust between the bars, which I believe are wide enough, two female servants dresses, and when your doors are opened in the morning, you may secure the two soldiers then upon duty, and, by immediately flying to the woods, defy any pursuer. The noble Duke, your companion, may be assured his lady is perfectly safe at present; but my Lord HOWARD intends to carry her to a seat upon the northern coast.
I am, with the profoundest duty,
Your Lordship’s obedient servant,
"BLESSED ANTHONY," I cried, "may the means be sanctified by Heaven’s suffrage, which thou hast promised; but, O my beloved, who shall protect thee from a ruffian’s fury?"—ARGYLE looked grave:—"You ought to be satisfied, MONMOUTH—is not this an extraordinary interposition of Providence." It was indeed, and I bowed in silence. With eager impatience I watched the window through which the means of our deliverance was to be conveyed; nor could the orient beams of light give half the extacy my soul swelled into, when, by the glimmer of a dim lamp, held on the outside of the bars, we beheld the welcome disguises thrust, with much difficulty, through, and saw them drop at our feet. We were soon, though aukwardly equipped, and waited with two swords, which our benevolent friend had likewise provided for the approach of our gaolers. Every thing succeeded to our utmost wishes: the soldiers, amazed at the suddenness of the attack, hastily fled, and we gained the woods before any alarm could be given. ARGYLE entreated I would fly to the west of England, where my friends were yet more numerous than in any other part; but my heart clung to the spot where my imprisoned Duchess might be vainly sighing for the assistance her husband was bound to give.—I mentioned my inducement for lingering within reach of danger. ARGYLE frowned—"Are you at present," said he, "in a situation for liberating one, who doubtless is more strictly guarded than we were. Do you suppose yourself equal to a troop of armed men. Your cause is mine—the safety of your ANNA is an important consideration with me—but let us claim her at the head of an army, let us seize the wretch who has forfeited every title to mercy.—Come, MONMOUTH, my bosom burns to extirpate that villain—remember you have a faithful adherent, who has suffered imprisonment for your sake, and whose life is yours, when honourably claimed." I blushed—an honest shame glowed in my breast, and the generous ARGYLE permitted not the acknowledgement candid conviction would have made.
"AT this horrible juncture our souls were petrified by the black intelligence, that those noble sufferers, RUSSEL and SYDNEY, had received the palm of martyrdom, through the execrable villainy of the treacherous HOWARD.—I was stunned—grief, indignation, pity—filled every idea. I called upon the spirits of the injured—I descended to imprecate curses upon him who had worked their ruin. Even the sacred name of father could not defend the King from the hasty resentment of wounded friendship. Had he not sacrificed those who would have secured the reversion of his crown to its legal inheritor.—Glorious RUSSEL, could not thy vast deserts—the merits of thy great progenitor—the pathetic pleadings of thy lovely lady and her numerous little ones—emancipate thy warlike person. Fettered—tried—condemned for me—for MONMOUTH thou diest. O what a scene was that, when the aged Earl of BEDFORD—his venerable countenance steeped in tears of paternal anguish—conducted with feeble steps an afflicted daughter, a sorrowing wife to the feet of Majesty, while her soul, immersed in grief, could scarcely solicit that pardon for her husband, which her own life was held as trifling to procure. How could a prince, not deficient in courage, surrender to the fancied fear of his own danger, the feelings, the earthly happiness of connubial tenderness? But Omniscience, mercifully just, supplied to the agonizing wife a heroic fortitude—and, at this crisis of her fate, the scaffold—the croud—the executioner, and tremenduous weapon full in view—an adored husband, waiting with calm dignity the stroke that must stifle the beatings of a faithful heart—even then—took one—one last embrace—mild, meek, resigned, not the smallest appearance of sorrow in her heavenly features—not a struggling sigh suffered to agitate her distended bosom—every pang—every thought of future solitude—of her blameless orphans—of the sad—sad hours, perhaps years, of lonely retrospection, all lost, all condensed in the generous hope of lightening his dying scene with the contemplation of her magnanimity. Noble creature—her end was answered;—the fortitude she shewed—she inspired. He pursued her with a beatified look; the handkerchief he waved, was unstained with a tear; a charming enthusiasm possessed his soul—a mental prayer composed his mind. He saw into futurity—he beheld his God with the eye of faith. The moment approached—his lady was departed—he smiled—there was heaven in that smile—he took out his watch—wound it up—"Now," said he, with a cheerful aspect, "I have done with time, and henceforth must think of eternity." What a finish to an honourable existence!—Well might he exclaim, after the solemn interview, that the bitterness of death was past.
"THE end of ESSEX wrung my heart with regret, unallayed by the circumstance which gave a dignity to Lord RUSSEL’S.—He died, but it was not discovered by whom—black assassination, or blacker suicide—robbed the executioner of an unmerited acquisition, and his merciless judges of their prey. This is one of those dreadful events which the last day must discover. SYDNEY submitted to his fate with conscious dignity. HAMPDEN, who was fined in a sum of forty thousand pounds, copied his grandfather in the nobleness of his principles—all testified the sincerity of their attachment to an unhappy wanderer; all gave consequence to a cause of itself truly important, and I determined to avenge myself upon our common enemies:—but love, strong, prevailing love, claimed my present attention, and the ineffectual sighs I gave to the fate of my friends, were all mixed with the tenderness of a despairing husband."
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.