CASTLE OF TYNEMOUTH.
BY JANE HARVEY,
AUTHOR OF WARKFIELD CASTLE, &c. &c.
No air-built castles, and no fairy bowers,
But thou, fair Tynemouth, and thy well-known towers,
Now bid th’ historic muse explore the maze
Of long past years, and tales of other days.
Pride of Northumbria!---from thy crowded port,
Where Europe’s brave commercial sons resort,
Her boasted mines send forth their sable stores,
To buy the varied wealth of distant shores.
Here the tall lighthouse, bold in spiral height,
Glads with its welcome beam the seaman’s sight.
Here, too, the firm redoubt, the rampart’s length,
The death-fraught cannon, and the bastion’s strength,
Hang frowning o’er the briny deep below,
To guard the coast against th’ invading foe.
Here health salubrious spreads her balmy wings,
And woos the sufferer to her saline springs;
And, here the antiquarian strays around
The ruin’d abbey, and its sacred ground.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE:
PRINTED BY ENEAS MACKENZIE, JR.
129, PILGRIM STREET.
And sold by all the Booksellers.
THE author who opens the mines of his understanding, and presents their productions before the shrine of public opinion, will unquestionably strengthen his claim to approbation, by the best exertions which the powers of his mind are capable of making. If the sphere he has chosen be that of the moralist, he will summon to the task every energy of his soul; he will emblazon the standard of virtue with every religious and moral precept, and will combat vice with the artillery of reason, and the musketry of ridicule. If he treads the path of the historian, he will banish partiality and prejudice, rise superior to party rage, and rest his claim to favor solely on the pillars of integrity, truth, and candour.—The writer who sits down to compose a work of imagination, engages in a province less important, indeed, but inconceivably more arduous; to preserve originality, all the powers of invention must be had recourse to: if he explores the regions of romance, his ideas must expand to grandeur and sublimity; if his researches are confined to the less glowing, but perhaps more valuable pages of nature, his pictures must be portraits—they must be copied from life, or the likeness will never be striking; he must preserve the nice consistency of his characters; the lights and shades of passion must be pourtrayed with a skilful hand; the manners and customs of the age in which his characters are supposed to exist must be attended to, and the purity of historical truth strictly observed; and in the localities of place, care ought to be taken that geographical accuracy is never violated; and beyond all, let the poet, the novelist, the light and puerile writer, ever remember, that however temporary the subject, however trivial the work they are employed on, still they are under a sacred obligation to heaven, on no account to injure, but as far as possible to serve and promote the cause of virtue, both directly and indirectly. He who pretends to respect morality, while he is insidiously sapping its foundations, is the worst of hypocrites—an enemy in the mask of friendship. Dangerous are those mixed characters, wherein beauty, accomplishments, and politeness, are mingled and incorporated with the most odious vices, while the latter are excused by the appellation of “Youthful follies, which Sir Edwin will abjure as he grows older;” or “Fashionable levities, which positively add such a grace to Lady Albina’s charms, that it will be almost a pity when the maturity of her judgements points out the propriety of abandoning them.”
These are the bane and destruction of young minds; captivated by the fascinations of personal charms and attractive manners, they adopt the whole character without discrimination, until the subtle venom, like the poisoned garment of Hercules, preys on their vitals, and consigns them to ruin and infamy.
To produce a work adorned with all the beauties, and free from the defects which I have enumerated, is what the upright heart will aim at, and the able head will effect; but how shall he acquit himself to whom nature has denied supereminent abilities, and from whom situation and circumstances have withheld the means of acquiring extensive knowledge? On what claim shall he presume to approach the temple of Fame? What offering has he to present to the deity of the place? Alas! only the humble one of a good intention. To criticism he dares not appeal; but he raises his trembling voice to candour. Justice, perhaps, will awe him by her frown, but mercy will cheer him with her lovely smile.
Let not the lowly candidate for literary distinction be chilled to despondency, and condemned unheard. In exercising the functions of an author, he infringes no one’s rights, for there all are free; the gate by which he enters is open to another, and if he has gathered a few flowers by the way side, they spring up afresh to invite the hand of his successor.
Mental strength, like that of mechanic powers, cannot be ascertained until it is
tried. The being who “hides his light under a bushel—who wraps his talent in a napkin,” and who suffers his abilities, such as they are, whether they be formed of strong and massy oak, or slender and flexible bamboo—to rest dormant and unexercised, frustrates the intentions of Providence, and is of no use to either himself or others; he is a drone in the great hive of the community—he neither builds the cells, nor enriches them with honey, and yet claims from both, shelter and food.
At the bar of the public, alone, can the literary adventurer have a fair and impartial trial; friends may be partial; and that principle of self-love, which is incorporated with our very essence, will lead ourselves to judge favourably—perhaps too favourably of our own powers; to counteract this feeling, nature has implanted in our bosoms—and in the bosom of a female writer it is particularly alive—a diffidence, a timidity, which continually whispers a doubt of our own abilities:—between these two opposite principles, public judgment must decide: to it I offer up my humble pretensions; from its decision there is no appeal.
For much of the architectural description of the church and castle of Tynemouth, I have to confess my obligations to “Hutchinson’s View of Northumberland;” and for part of the historical information, the same acknowledgment is due to “Brand’s History of Newcastle.” I could not, in its proper place, refer the reader to the pages from which I made selections, as I did not copy literally, but compressed the information I derived from them, and blended it with such as I was enabled to collect on the spot, or elsewhere. Those were the only books I consulted.
Feb. 12, 1806.
LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS.
Anderson Mr. ditto
Angus Mrs. J. ditto
Archbold T. esq. ditto
Ballany D. esq. Little Green Croft, Durham
Barnes Mrs. North Shields
Barras Miss, Gateshead
Barrett Rev. S.
Bell Mr. T. Tynemouth
Blaydon Miss, ditto
Brash James, esq. 82d Regiment
Bertram Charles, esq. Gateshead
Bracket Mr. W. Gateshead
Brown Mr. T. Jarrow
Buckley W.H. Lieut. and Paymaster, 82d Regt.
Burlison Mr. T. Jarrow
Burton Mrs. North Shields
Campbell Mrs. Ellison Place, Newcastle
Clarke J.G. esq. Fenham Hall, 3 copies
Clarke J.G. esq. Kinnersley Cottage
Cox John esq. Ryton
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Cram G.W. esq. Newcastle
Crawford R. esq. Warden
Crawhall T. esq. Newcastle
Croser Mrs. ditto
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Cunningham Miss, Tynemouth
Cuthbert Miss, Benwell
Dixon Rev. G. Yorkshire
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Dunn Mrs. Stella Hall
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Elliott Miss, St. Ann’s Row, Newcastle
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Holmes Mr. J. Gateshead
Housley Rev. J. Portobello, Scotland
Hutchinson Mrs. Doctor, Charlotte Square, Newc.
Hutchinson Mrs. Sheriff Hill
Hutchinson Miss, ditto
Hutton Mrs. Richmond, Yorkshire
Jackson Mrs. Eldon Square, Newcastle
Jowsey Mr. J. North Shields
Liddell Miss, Shield Field, Newcastle
Losh Mrs. Jesmond
Lough Mr. Turf Hotel, Newcastle
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Makepeace Captain R. I. Dragoon Guards
Martindale Miss, Chester-le-Street
Metcalf Mrs. North Shields
Millar Mrs. Mosley Street, Newcastle
Millar Mrs. Winlaton
Mitcalfe Mrs. Henry, Northd. Square, N. Shields
Montealegre Jose Maria y Mariano, Costa Rica
Moore W. esq. Bigg Market, Newcastle
Newbiggen Mrs. Blaydon
Ollivier Ensign N.E. 82d Regiment
Orange Mr. North Shields
Oliver Robert, Draper, Quayside, Newcastle
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Peters Miss, ditto
Potter W. esq. Walbottle House
Potter Mrs. ditto, 2 copies
Potter Miss R.G. ditto
Potter A.G. esq. Walbottle
Potter Edward, esq. Cramlington
Ramsay Mrs. Doctor, Newcastle
Ramsey Mr. I. Tynemouth
Rayne R. esq. Newcastle
Rawlinson Miss, Benwell
Reavely Miss, Kenton
Reay Mr. Tyne Brewery, Newcastle
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Richardson Mr. J. ditto
Robinson Mrs. John, Tynemouth
Russell John, esq. Heworth
Robson Thomas, Brandling Place
Slater Captain. W. 82d Regiment
Smart Mrs. Heworth, 2 copies
Smirke Sidney, esq. London
Smith Mrs. Lumley Thicks
Smith Mrs. Percy Arms, Tynemouth
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Swan Miss Anne, Walker
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Todd Mr. W. Evenwood, near Bishop Auckland
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Usher Mrs. Newcastle
Wallace Mrs. Tynemouth
Walton Mrs. R. Westgate Street, Newcastle
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Watson Mrs. Side, Newcastle
Watson Mr. Gateshead
Weatherby G. esq. Tynemouth
Weir George, esq. Charlemont, Ireland
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Wilson Mrs. Fell House
Wylam Mr. Gateshead
THE custom of preluding a book with matters which were judged requisite to be known before the work was perused, seems to have fallen into disuetude in proportion as books themselves have multiplied. Time was that a three, four, sometimes sevenfold barricado of dedication, preface, complimentary poem, address, poem, or advertisement, defended the subsequent pages. Perhaps the modes of life in days gone by, when science was little cultivated; when many modern arts were unknown; and when the events of history, with which it is absolutely requisite that the mind should make itself acquainted, were comparatively few, might leave such a paucity of occupation that it might be pastime to wade through a mass of words; but the experience of twenty years amongst readers of all classes has convinced me that prefatory addresses, under whatever title they may be presented, are rarely read. Yet as it has been suggested that a preface to a second edition is usual and proper; and as I cannot better express the reasons which induced me to re-publish The Castle of Tynemouth than I have already done in the prospectus which was circulated, and as these volumes may fall into the hands of many persons who have not seen that prospectus, I shall briefly recapitulate its contents.
At a period when the number of new books which are almost daily issuing from the press exceed all former precedent, the re-publication of a Novel which has been before the public for twenty-four years, can only be excused on the plea that a new edition is called for: such in the present instance is the fact. The antiquity, beauty, and celebrity of the ruins of Tynemouth Priory; the former consequence of the Castle as a military fortress at the mouth of the Tyne; the importance of that river and its harbour; and the high character which the Village of Tynemouth has for so long a period maintained as a delightful resort for those to whom sea-bathing is pleasant or beneficial, have conspired to make the brief history contained in the introductory chapter of the work a subject of constant quest and enquiry amongst the numerous summer visitants of Tynemouth.
Nor is the subsequent tale (interwoven of probable incidents connected with the circumstances which give this place such high claims to notice) perused with less avidity. It has amused thousands; nor can it justly offend any one in either a religious or a moral point of view. Doubtless there are those who in literary, as in all other matters, are offended without just cause; many whose taste is fastidious; and perhaps a few who deem it a sure mark of superior acumen to be able to do that easiest of all possible things—find fault. To such I can only say, in the words of my great cotemporary
“------Little reck I of the censure sharp----
“May idly cavil at an idle lay.”
Many circumstances connected with the history and antiquities of the place have been added to the historical detail; together with several brief but interesting notices of recent events and discoveries. The numerous typographical errors which disgraced the first edition have, in the present one, been carefully corrected.
I beg to offer my most grateful acknowledgments to the Subscribers by whose liberality I have been enabled to attain an object to me so desirable; and to those amongst my friends who so kindly exerted themselves to promote the subscription, my warmest thanks are due; and while health shall be allotted to me, I shall deem myself bound in gratitude to exert my limited abilities to contribute to their amusement.
Tynemouth, July 17, 1830.
CASTLE OF TYNEMOUTH.
The abbey’s hoary bound,
Or mark where once, ere fate the chapel shook,
Each father op’d the brass-embossed book;
Or note the cellar’s space, to shew how vain
All monkish joys.”
FEW places in the island of Great Britain are more universally celebrated by both history and oral tradition, than the ancient monastery, town, and castle of Tynemouth, situated in the south-east extremity of Northumberland, where the German ocean receives the river Tyne.—Various are the concomitant causes which point out this singular and important place to the notice of the warrior, the mariner, the valetudinarian, the searcher into antiquity, the admirer of nature, and the votary of pleasure. The noble harbour of Shields, the emporium of the coal trade; and the strength and importance of its fortifications, conspire to render it eminently conspicuous in the annals of naval and military fame. The history, and curious remains of the venerable priory, afford an ample field for conjecture and inquiry, to those who love to contemplate the monuments, and search into the records of past ages; while the natural grandeur of the situation, and the bold, majestic, and sublime scenery by which it is surrounded, must ever delight the mind, and inspire it with noble sentiments: and, doubtless, these circumstances had a considerable share in influencing the first religious settlers in their choice of this place.
Tynemouth was called by the Britons, Pen Ball Crag—The head of the Rampart upon the rock: and from this name, some have conjectured, that the rampart raised by the Roman Emperor Adrian—the wall built by Severus, or at least the fosse, extended hither: and this belief is strengthened by the traditions scattered throughout the country; according to which, the Picts’ wall certainly terminated at the mouth of the Tyne. However, be this as it may, the antiquities lately discovered furnish unquestionable evidence, that the Romans had a station here, and it was certainly a place of considerable strength in very remote times. Under the Saxon heptarchy it was called Tunaeaster, and in succeeding periods it has been distinguished by the names of Thinemu, Thynemue, Tynemuth, Tinemouth, Tunaeaster and Tinmouth, under which appellation it is sometimes confounded with Teignmouth in Devonshire.
From the long series of years which have passed, and the feeble means by which, formerly, records were preserved and transmitted, the first accounts of this celebrated monastery are necessarily involved in dark obscurity; but it appears undoubted, that Edwin, King of Northumberland, who reigned about the year 617, built a chapel of wood here, wherein his daughter took the veil. It must be remarked, however, that some have ascribed its foundation to St. Oswald, the first Christian king of Northumberland; and others, to king Egfrid; but the latter probably only repaired and restored it.
On the 13th of the calends of September, 651, Oswin, king of the Deira, one of the provinces of the then divided kingdom of Northumberland, was murdered at Gillingham, or Chillingham, as it is now called, a sacrifice to the treachery and ingratitude of Hunweld; and the ambition of Oswy, king of Bernicia, the other province; and his body was brought here for interment, as were those of many kings, and great men of those times.
Tynemouth suffered several depredations from the Danes; the hope of plunder generally inducing those barbarians to turn their arms against places dedicated to religion. On their second descent, the monks took refuge in their church, as a sanctuary: but the invaders, far from respecting its holy walls, reduced the hallowed building, together with its venerable inhabitants, to ashes. The robbers, however, did not escape the punishment they merited; for they were pursued by Etheldred, king of Northumbria, and Offa, king of Mercia; who, after routing them with a dreadful slaughter, forced the survivors to retreat with the utmost precipitation to their ships, which were wrecked by a succeeding storm: and thus the lawless plunderers met a death not less dreadful than that to which they had devoted their fellow-creatures. The church, thus destroyed, was dedicated to the blessed Virgin; and it is generally supposed, that, at the first foundation, this monastery was endowed for religious of both sexes.
In the reign of king Edward, surnamed the Confessor, the royal saint and martyr, Oswin, was most graciously pleased to make choice of Edmund, the sexton of Tynemouth, to rescue his precious relics from obscurity; and, accordingly, visiting that good man in a vision, he pointed out to him the place of his own interment. Edmund communicated this important discovery to the wife of Tostin, earl of Northumberland; and the pious lady so powerfully exerted her influence with her husband, and with Egelwin, bishop of Durham, that the former repaired and endowed the monastery, to the honour of St. Mary and St. Oswin; and the latter ordered a search to be made for the royal bones, which were discovered in the place the saint had pointed out; and after being inclosed in a coffin, they were, on the 5th of the ides of March, A.D. 1065, recommitted to the sacred earth.
The situation of this place, so well adapted for a fortification to command the mouth of the Tyne, and protect the adjacent shores, induced William the Conqueror to order that it should be converted into a fortress; and this command was obeyed by Waltheof, earl and governor of Northumberland, who, A.D. 1073, gave the church of our Lady at Tynemouth, together with the body of St. Oswin, king and martyr, resting therein, to the monks of Jarrow monastery, on the south side of the Tyne; of which place, or its neighbourhood, his sainted majesty was a native; and thither the sacred relics were removed. The fortifications which were erected here at this period, consisted of a strong square tower, comprehending an outward and interior gateway. The outward gateway having two gates, about the distance of six feet from each other; the inner of which had an open gallery, and was defended by a portcullis. The interior gateway was also strengthened by a double gate. The space between the gateways, being a square of about six poles, was open above: and thus, those on the top of the tower and battlements had an opportunity of annoying assailants who had gained the first gate. “This tower has been modernized without any attention to military architecture, and converted into a barrack, capable of accommodating 240 men; but, during the late war, it contained at one time near 400 men.”* It has since been enlarged; and the barracks could now accommodate 500 men.
From this gateway, a double wall of great strength extended, on each side, to the cliffs on the sea shore, which are of a stupendous height, particularly on the north-east side, where their altitude is about ten perpendicular fathoms; an ascent which in those days was deemed inaccessible, more especially, when it is considered, that the broken rocky shore at their bases effectually prevented the approach of any vessel on that side.
The gate, with its walls, was fortified by a deep ditch, defended by moles on each side.
This place now took the name of Tynemouth Castle; and from the time of Waltheof, for several succeeding years, it belonged to the earls of Northumberland. Robert de Mowbray, who supported that title in the reign of William Rufus, undid the act of his predecessor; and separating the monastery of Tynemouth from its connection with Durham, he rebuilt the church and offices, gave it to the abbey of St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, and placed black canons in it. When this nobleman rebelled against his sovereign, he was besieged in his castle of Bamborough, which he quitted in the night, expecting to make himself master of Newcastle; but finding the gates shut against him, he took refuge in Tynemouth Castle. Hither, however, he was pursued, and again closely besieged for six days; when, being wounded in the leg, and unable to hold out against the king’s army, he withdrew into the monastery, vainly hoping that the sanctuary would be held sacred and inviolable; but he was dragged from thence and carried to Windsor, where he was kept in confinement a considerable time, and then put to death.
On the 13th of calends of September, 1110, the body of St. Oswin was removed from Jarrow, and once more lodged in the monastery of Tynemouth. The venerable ruin of this building is perhaps one of the finest specimens of gothic architecture now remaining in this island. The area which inclosed the church and offices contains about six acres. Many beautiful arches are still entire, but so disunited, that it would now be difficult to determine, with certainty, the particular part to which each belonged. Those which present themselves in front, on passing the gateway, appear to be the remains of a cloister. On the south side, adjoining the wall, or rampart, on the brink of the cliff, are the remains of several spacious vaulted chambers; one of which, from the wide extension of its fire-place, may be conjectured to have been the kitchen, and another the prison, with an aperture in the roof, by which the wretched captive was lowered down into his living tomb. The erection is of a red freestone, which endures the lapse of time, and the changes of season, in this bleak and exposed situation. The west gate, entering into the abbey, is in high preservation; it is composed of circular arches, comprehending several members inclining inwards, and arising from pilasters.—Among the ruins in this part is a Saxon arch, with a gothic capital, and a pillar of the very rudest Saxon architecture, which has probably been a part of the original building. “This is clearly the most ancient part of the edifice; but Brand is mistaken if he supposes it bears the characteristics of Saxon architecture.* All the Saxon churches in England, except in a few rare instances, were plain, square, or rather oblong buildings, and generally turned circular at the end; but the Normans, in erecting their sacred edifices, adopted the cruciform with high towers, and ornamented the interior with columns and arches. The west entrance, which is in the pointed style, seems to have been formed at a later period. The choir is executed in what is termed the pointed or English style of architecture. It has been built after a more elegant and noble plan than the old church. The transcepts have been extended, and a highly decorated entrance has been formed in the wall of the old transept, leaving the plain Norman window above. This decorated English style prevailed from the time of Henry III. The Lady’s Chapel has been built at a still later period than the choir, and is a beautiful specimen of pure English. The whole length of this ancient and magnificent structure is 279 feet. The breadth of the nave, or the west and oldest part, inside is 26 feet; and the length to the transept 126 feet. The old transept is 79 feet in length, and the side of the tower, which was square, 20 feet. The choir, or east end, is 31 feet 6 inches wide, but the length of the new transept has not yet been ascertained.” Two walls of the east end of the church are standing, the architecture of which is so singularly light, that (without deciding the controverted question, whether such lightness be a beauty or defect) it cannot be looked on without exciting the highest astonishment, how a structure of so little apparent strength, should have withstood, for so many centuries, the united devastations of time, storms, and sieges. The end wall, to the east, contains three long windows, the centre one near twenty feet high; the divisions or pillars between the windows are enriched with pilasters of five members, with highly finished foliated cornices and capitals; above the centre window is an oval one with similar mouldings; and on each side are door cases, which have opened into galleries of most curious construction. Part of the south-side wall of the choir is still standing, illuminated with four windows, formed and ornamented like those to the east, though not of the same height; for above them are an equal number of small windows: the divisions between the large windows are decorated with pilasters of the same kind as those at the east end; and it is observable, throughout the whole, that the capitals of the columns have each of them a different kind of ornament. From the pillars between the smaller windows, spring the arches, which formed the roof: the arches of the windows in this part are circular; and the blank arches, which are thrown upon the wall beneath the windows, are pointed. In this wall are also remaining three recesses, one of which is supposed to have been the confessional chair, divided by a stone partition, where there has been a grate; another of them, it is evident, has been the cavity for containing the holy water; and the third; the closet for the consecrated host. Many were the charters given to this monastery, and the privileges granted to its priors, by several of the kings of England, and numerous were the endowments and donations it received, insomuch, that no fewer than twenty-seven villas, with their royalties, in Northumberland, belonged to it, with many other possessions; and beyond all, the good fathers, doubtless, would find a rich and ample source of revenue in the offerings brought to the shrine of St. Mary and St. Oswin, by the mariners who in those days navigated the German ocean.
Tynemouth was not unfrequently honoured by visits from the kings and queens of England: and, it is also famous for having given birth to, or been the retreat of, many eminent men. And, it may be also observed, that in Coquet Island, there was a cell of Benedictine monks, subordinate to the monastery of Tynemouth. In a charter of king Edward the first, dated at Westminster, the 20th of February, 1299, the body of St. Oswin is mentioned, as resting in a certain shrine within the church of Tynemouth. In the year 1315, Tynemouth is mentioned among the castles of Northumberland. A.D. 1336,* mention occurs of the new chapel, or oratory of St. Mary, at Tynemouth. This small, but most elegant and beautiful apartment is still entire, having been shut up for a considerable time: the entrance is by a door beneath the centre window of the east-end of the church, already described. On each side of the door is a human head, cut in a style much superior to the generality of the sculpture executed in that age; the length of the apartment within, is eighteen feet, and the breadth and height nine feet: on the south-side, is an entrance from the open yard, and two windows: on the north-side, three; and to the east, a circular one, so elevated as to leave room for an altar beneath; at this end are also two niches for statues, a closet to contain the vessels for sacred uses, and a basin for holy water. On each side of the window is the figure of a monk kneeling, and two of the emblematical animals usually depicted with the evangelists. The side walls are ornamented with pilasters, from whence spring the groins and arches of stone, which in various intersections form the roof; the interstices of which are constructed with thin bricks, and its joinings are enriched with circles of carved work, containing sculptures of the divine personages and the apostles, exceedingly well executed; each sculpture is surrounded by a circular belt, containing a sentence in the old English characters, well raised (viz.) Sanct. Petrus ora P. nobis. &c. each varied by the name of the personage to whom it is inscribed. The centre row consists of four circles; in one is the effigies of John the Baptist, with the like sentence.—In the second, the effigies of our Saviour, with a monk kneeling.—In the third, the effigies of the Supreme, with the Lamb bearing an ensign.—And, the fourth a representation of the last judgement, with the following sentence In die judicii liberare nos. Above the door is the effigies of our Saviour, with a globe in his hand, with morit P. nobis, inscribed, and on each side of the door is an emblematical figure. There are two escutchions, the dexter one charged with bearings of Vesey, a cross sable: the sinister, the bearings of Brabant and Lucy quarterly. Many little ornaments are cut on the inferior roses on the arched work, as croslets, crescents, winged crosses, the old Saxon n, as the emblem of sacred masonry, and the usual characters disposed over religious buildings, J D C Jesus hominis conservator. On the outside of this chapel, at the east end, are two coats of armour supported by cherubs; the one charged with a cross, the arms of the monastery of St. Albans, and the other with three crowns, originally the arms of Oswin, king of Northumberland, and afterwards those of the monastery of Tynemouth.
On the 20th of February, 1379, Richard the Second, granted a licence of mortmain to the prior and monks of Tynemouth, to hold possessions to the value of twenty pounds per annum, to enable them to repair the walls of their fortifications, which had been damaged by the encroachments of the sea. In this curious grant, the priory is described as having been; and being, to the then king and his progenitors, “a certain fortified and walled place for defence against the enemies of the kingdom.”*
“Among the most remarkable features of the history of this place, after this time, are the following:—The churches of Eglingham, Norton, and Hartburn, were given to the monks, for the purpose of mending their ale, and to enlarge their means of hospitality. The prior mediated a peace between England and Scotland, in 1244; and eleven years after, obtained a charter from Henry III. to hold a market in his ville and manor of Bewicke. He claimed the privilege of a market also at Tynemouth; but, in a suit on that account, judgement was given against him in the King’s Bench. The place, however, had certain immunities, which it annually asked of the judges itinerant, by some great public character, or, by its bailiffs, at the “Chille” Fountain, in Gateshead, when they came from York; or at “Faurstanes,” when they came from Cumberland. They returned the king’s writ within their respective lordships, and were exempted from cornage by king John: several villages in Northumberland, however, paid cornage both to St. Albans and to this house. Edward I. In 1299, restored them certain free customs, which the crown had deprived them of, and granted the prior to have all pleas concerning his men, lands, and tenements, to be pleased and determined by his own justices, the king’s justices not being permitted to enter his liberty. A fair, granted to the place in 1303, was revoked the next year, on the petition of the town of Newcastle. The prior caused a pillory to be erected in the village in 1307. King Edward II. and his favourite Gaveston, were at Tynemouth, on Ascension-day, 1312, from whence they took shipping for Scarborough. A riotous band of Northumbrians, at the head of whom were Sir William de Middleton, knt. and Walter de Seleby, ravaged this house in 1316; but being apprehended, they were sent to London by shipping, and there tried, condemned, and hanged. The hospital of St. Leonard, at this place, is of uncertain foundation: it existed in 1320. Ruins of it are still traceable a little to the west of Tynemouth, on the road to Newcastle.”
At the dissolution of the monasteries, the prior of Tynemouth, with fifteen prebendaries, and three novices, surrendered the house on the 12th of January, 1539, in the 30th year of the reign of King Henry VIII. The prior had a pension of eighty pounds per annum assigned him, and the annual revenues of this monastery, unconnected with St. Albans, are supposed to have been, on an average, upwards of four hundred pounds.
The scite of the priory has since belonged to several different possessors; and, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the castle appears to have been considered by government as a place of strength and importance. In 1644, it was besieged by the Scots, and the garrison was compelled to surrender to the arms of the parliament. Thirty-eight pieces of cannon, and a considerable quantity of arms, ammunition, and provisions were delivered up on this occasion; but the fortress suffered so much in the siege, that the parliament found it necessary to appropriate a large sum to repair the damage. Sir Arthur Hazelrig was then governor of Newcastle and Tynemouth Castle; and Colonel Henry Lilburne was appointed deputy governor. The officer favouring the royal cause, the garrison revolted, and Sir Arthur, marching from Newcastle to reduce them, took the place by storm; his men scaling the walls, and entering by the embrazures and the barbacans: the conflict within was short, but Colonel Lilburne fell in it, and the republican party triumphed.
In 1665, Tynemouth Castle was repaired on account of the Dutch war: Colonel Edward Villiers was then governor.
The celebrated James, duke of Berwick, was created earl of Tynemouth, by his father, James II. at the same time that the former title was conferred upon him.
About the year 1687, Henry Villiers was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, and he obtained a licence from government to build a house on the north side of the castle-yard, to serve as a habitation for the governor; and also, to erect a light-house for the benefit of shipping, passing this rocky and dangerous coast. The scite of the priory had passed through many hands since the dissolution (as was said before), but none of its former possessors had exerted themselves in a manner so widely beneficial to the community; he was authorised to receive one shilling for every British, and sixpence for every foreign vessel anchoring in Shields harbour, which produced about eighty pounds per annum: a poor recompence, indeed, for a work of such general utility: but the sum is since greatly augmented. Much of the priory was pulled down, to convert the materials to the use of these erections; and the lead was also stripped off the church, which had been used for divine service until about twenty years before. Governor Villiers was buried in the castle-yard, A.D. 1707; and, in 1722, another Henry Villiers was appointed lieutenant governor.
About the year 1775, the light-house was rebuilt, under the direction of John Wooler, Esq. the celebrated engineer.
From the period before mentioned, the fortifications of Tynemouth seem to have been greatly neglected, until 1782, when a company of the royal artillery, and some officers of the corps of engineers were stationed at Tynemouth; and under their inspection the works were thoroughly repaired, storehouses, &c. built, and a complete arsenal and depository of military stores, formed; and a strong garrison is always kept here both in peace and war; convenient barracks for the accommodation of soldiers having been built upwards of forty years ago, and additional ones since erected in the castleyard: a considerable portion of the ground, called by this name, is still used as a place of burial; and from its walls is a wide and extensive prospect of the German ocean, of Prior’s haven, or harbour, and of the crowded port of Shields, and the batteries which command its entrance.
“Within the gates of the castle are two dungeons, which had been long shut up. One of these places of solitary confinement was explored some years ago by an officer of the garrison; on one of the walls there is rudely engraved, probably with a nail— ‘JOHN REDSHAW, 1715,—17 WEEKS PRISONER.’ There are some curious caves in the rock on which the priory stood. One of them, on the north side of the precipice, is called by the town’s people the Gingler’s Hole, probably from having been the resort of some juvenile gamblers. It is now built up. There are, perhaps, several crypts and vaulted passages beneath the church; for, in digging near the south side of the ruins of the priory in 1808, an arched tomb was discovered, with human bones and skulls of a large size. This chamber, which it was supposed had not been opened since the dissolution of the priory in 1539, was converted into a powder magazine. Behind the Canteen are buried a row of stone coffins, which range north and south. The sexton, in 1819, struck his spade against a stone coffin, which, on examination, was found to contain a perfect skeleton, the bones of which were covered with leather, curiously cut and ornamented. An adjoining coffin also contained a skeleton, without a head, and which was in like manner carefully defended and decorated with leather.”
The town of Tynemouth is small, but pleasant and well built, and is the resort of a numerous and genteel assemblage of company during the bathing season. The manor now belongs to his Grace the Duke of Northumberland.
“It was lately in contemplation to build a church in Tynemouth; and Mr. John Dobson, architect, who has often studied among the ruins of the desecrated structure here, with all the enthusiasm of an architectural antiquary, offered a plan to the consideration of the projectors. He proposed to pull down the remains of the choir, preserving the little chapel, and to rebuild it in its original form. The restoration of this light and beautiful edifice would have reflected honour on the taste and liberality of those concerned. The design is not yet abandoned. It is alleged that the government would object to the erection of a church within the limits of the garrison; but it is not probable that any attempt would be made to perpetuate a desecration, which is directly contrary to the repeated decisions of our courts of law.”
Such an attempt has, however, been made; the Board of Ordnance has tried repeated efforts to induce the parish of Tynemouth to yield up its claims to the ancient burying-ground; but, with laudable firmness, the parish has refused to sanction such an infringement on the rights of posterity, and so painful an outrage on private feeling.
With regard to the erection of a church, perhaps the plan proposed might have been found too expensive for the parish, in the present times of depression, to adopt; but, surely, a church ought to be built “to God” if not “to fame;” plain and simple structure is all that the purity of Christian worship requires; and, in whatever point of view the subject is contemplated, there is certainly no place where a church or chapel belonging to the Establishment is more wanted. The extent of the parish to the north, without any church nearer than Shields—the resort of invalids, in the summer, to Tynemouth, who must frequently find a walk of such length an impracticable undertaking—the operation of the same inconvenience on the elderly and infirm part of the inhabitants in the winter season—and the state of religion and morals in the village itself, all present unanswerable arguments in favour of the plan; nor will the projected erection of an additional church at Shields tend, in the least degree, to remove or mitigate any of the evils just enumerated.
At the time the claim just alluded to was made by the board of Ordnance, it was pertinaciously contended, that, the eastern side of the enclosure never had been a place of sepulture, but always garden-ground. Proof positive to the contrary, however, unsought, presented itself; for in turning up the ground in that part for the purpose of making a drain, numbers of stone coffins of the rudest form, containing bones, both of adults and children, were found; and that at such a depth as to leave no doubt that the period of their interment was very remote.
Though the fortifications of Tynemouth may attract the warrior, its ruins the antiquarian, and its gaieties the votary of pleasure; few, very few of its visitants have cast the reverted glance of enquiry back to the private history of the beings who once inhabited this celebrated place. While they gaze on the remains of the venerable priory, they think not of those, who there hid the sorrows of a worthy, or veiled the vices of a corrupt heart, beneath the monkish cowl. The soldier, who now guards these towers and bulwarks against the hostile invader, turns not to the records of his predecessors in arms, who formerly attacked or defended them. And the fair Northumbrian, as she lightly passes over the consecrated ground,
“Where heaves the turf, in many a mould’ring heap.”
reflects not, that the ashes they enclose, once, perhaps, composed a form not less lovely, a heart not less tender, and were animated by a mind not less intelligent than her own; but when the faithful pen of the biographer shall trace the story of their sufferings, will the bosom of courage refuse the sigh of sympathy, or the eye of beauty withhold the tear of sensibility?
CASTLE OF TYNEMOUTH.
“With frequent foot,
Pleas’d have I, in my cheerful morn of life,
When nurs’d by careless solitude I liv’d,
And sung of nature with unceasing joy,
Pleas’d have I wandered through your rough domain.”
WILLIAM de NORTON, earl of Wooler, one of the most conspicuous and distinguished characters in the reign of the seventh Henry, was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, on the decease of Sir Robert Lilburn, in the spring of the year 1491. This nobleman was at once eminent for his high rank and station, his military talents and achievements, the opulence of his fortune, and the favor of his prince, to whom he had been recommended by both his personal services in the field, and the ardent and faithful attachment of the family of Norton to the interests of the house of Lancaster. Though his military skill was great, and his arm generally powerful in the day of battle, yet his understanding, naturally not one of the brightest, had received little assistance from study or application; strictly honourable and just in his dealings with men, he was easily imposed upon by the semblance of virtue; and a rigid observer of truth himself, he scarcely ever doubted the veracity of others. Mild and good natured, almost to a fault, he seldom betrayed symptoms of anger, and never for any length of time. But though he was guilty of no vices, he had errors which are ever baneful in their consequences, and too frequently fatal in their effects: he was the slave of superstition, in the fullest extent of the word; the tool of priests and monks; the implicit believer of all ridiculous notions, and the bigotted devotee of all the absurd prejudices of that dark age. Twelve years had now elapsed, since the earl lost a lovely and beloved consort, to whom he had been united early in life, and who had made him the happy father of two beautiful and promising children, a son and a daughter. The countess, with her last breath, recommended these dear objects of her maternal tenderness to his care; and since that melancholy period, he had faithfully supplied to them the place of both parents. He had signalized himself at Bosworth Field; and after the event of that battle, which established Henry of Lancaster on the throne of England, Wooler abjured public life, and secluding himself almost entirely at Wooler Park, he devoted his time to the superintendance of his children’s education. No expence was spared to bestow on them every science and accomplishment that the times could boast; and the highest extent of the earl’s hopes and wishes was, to see Ida a faithful son of the church, and a loyal subject of the house of Lancaster; and to trace in the lovely countenance and engaging manners of Rosetta, the living image of her lamented mother.
At the period now under consideration, Lord Ida de Norton had just completed his seventeenth year; the season of hope, generosity, courage, and benevolence; and the soul of Ida was compounded of them all, in their most romantic extremes. With a capacity far more extensive, and an understanding infinitely better cultivated than those of his father, he inherited his talents for war, and his passion for military glory. His heart was warm and noble, his disposition open and sincere; his graceful limbs were braced with youth and strength, his expressive countenance wore the glow of health and cheerfulness; and good sense and lively fancy sparkled in his animated dark eyes.
Lady Rosetta, two years younger than Ida, was all of feminine virtue, grace, and loveliness, that imagination can form, or language describe. Her unaffectedly soft and delicate manners were the natural emanations of a tender heart; yet her gentleness was blended with great dignity of mind and strength of soul, and enlivened with sportive gaiety and lively wit. The exact symmetry and proportion of her form and stature, the transparent beauty of her complexion, the roseate bloom which adorned her lovely face, and the inexpressible sweetness and intelligence which beamed from her fine black eyes, were perfect models of female loveliness, and emblems of the soul which gave them animation.
Such were the children of the earl of Wooler, at the period when that nobleman, at the express request of the sovereign himself, accepted the government of Tynemouth Castle. The earl was too much attached to Ida and Rosetta, to think of residing at Tynemouth unaccompanied by them; and their ardent and inexperienced minds, found a source of exquisite delight, in anticipating the varied succession of new objects which their change of residence would present. Hitherto they had never strayed beyond their native shades of Wooler Park; which, though endeared to them by early habit, and a thousand recollected circumstances of youthful delight and happiness, was a scene too narrow for the active and opening powers of Ida’s mind; his martial spirit sighed for
“———The plumed troops, and the big war,
That makes ambition virtue, the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th’ ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”
And hence Ida thought, that a residence at Tynemouth Castle would be felicity itself. They had never yet beheld the sea; for Wooler Park was at least thirty miles distant from that element; and numberless were the inquiries which they now made of the earl, their father, and whoever else could give them information concerning its wonders.
“What delight I shall take in viewing the ships, and examining the fortifications,” said Ida to his sister, “and we will have a barge, Rosetta, and fishing tackle, and make little excursions to sea, and we shall find a pleasant companion in Mitford Lilburne.”
Rosetta smiled; but at that moment her eye glanced on the plants which had been cultivated by her own hands, and those of her brother.
“Oh! but we must leave our flowers, Ida!” she sighed; “my father says, they will not grow so nigh the sea.”
“Oh! never mind the flowers,” cried Ida, “we can try them, you know, and if they will not grow, let them die!”
But while he spoke thus—while he gathered one of the fragrant lilies, and presented it to his sister—his bosom heaved a gentle sigh, as he contemplated the object of his care, which he had tended every morning, and watered almost every evening.
“Ah! I shall have no lambs, no kids, at Tynemouth,” said Rosetta, while she gazed with pensive earnestness on the enclosures where she had been accustomed to view the little animals, and amuse herself with their gambols.
Ida found matter of consolation for this loss also; for he reminded Rosetta, that the earl had promised her a little white palfrey to ride on the sands; and he added, that Tynemouth would afford much finer subjects for the display of her talents in landscape drawing, and descriptive poetry, than any about Wooler Park.
The earl of Wooler could quit with little regret, the mansion of his ancestors, the scene of his former happiness and present tranquillity, to obey the command of his sovereign, and reside on a spot, where he thought he should be peculiarly favoured by heaven, within the sacred precincts of St. Oswin’s holy shine. Ida felt delighted and enraptured with the prospect of being always surrounded by fortifications, ordnance, ships, and boats; and Rosetta anticipated, with sensations of pleasure, her rides, her walks, her pictures, her verses, and her projected collection of shells and sea-weed.
But there was another inmate of Wooler Park, in whom the very thought of a residence in Tynemouth Castle excited disgust, dismay, and horror; this was Mrs. Judith Cresswell, a maiden lady, distantly related to the earl of Wooler, and who, since the death of the countess, had superintended his domestic affairs, and assisted him in the education of his children, to whom she was much attached. Mrs. Judith possessed much good sense, but was extremely formal, demure, and sententious, and even more ridiculously superstitious than the earl himself. She had tried every argument, to induce her kinsman to decline accepting the government of Tynemouth Castle; and when she found they were ineffectual, she endeavoured to persuade him to leave his children, or at least his daughter, at Wooler Park: but this too failed of success, for Wooler loved his Rosetta too well to bear her absence; and as it would have been equally insupportable to Mrs. Judith, she was at length compelled to yield a reluctant consent to accompany her friends to Tynemouth: but she did not fail to bitterly inveigh against it to Ida and Rosetta. “I do not approve of living at Tynemouth,” she would say, “I think it is a pity your father has accepted the appointment; I have heard very strange reports about that place; and, though I believe no one is less inclined to be superstitious than myself, yet there is seldom so much smoke without some fire.” Ida dearly loved his antiquated relative, was truly grateful for her cares, and held sacred the precepts of virtue which she had implanted in his bosom; but he well knew how to appreciate her character; and though he did not always dare to openly avow his sentiments, yet in his heart he despised both the bigotted prejudices of his father, and the ridiculous credulity of Mrs. Judith. At the same time he well knew what reports she alluded to, and exclaimed “Why, to be sure, my dear madam, the firing of the cannon is always attended with smoke, and the report, as you observe, is very loud, but when you are once used to it, it will be nothing at all!”
“Ida,” exclaimed Mrs. Judith, in a tone of displeasure, “I do not like this incredulity: it is fool-hardiness. There are certainly great grounds for the reports I mention. Do you consider the size and antiquity of the building? You plead wilful ignorance, child. You cannot but know, that after the sanctuary of Tynemouth monastry was violated, and our ancestor, Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, was dragged from it and murdered, a spell of enchantment was laid on the Castle of Tynemouth, which has continued ever since; and the ghost of—”
Here Ida, no longer able to command his features, ran out of the room; while Rosetta, though not less diverted than her brother, contrived for once to sit with a grave face. Mrs. Judith, who was doubtless afraid that the example of Ida’s incredulity would extend its fatal influence to Rosetta, wisely cautioned her against its effects, by saying, “Do not mind what your brother says on these subjects, my dear. It would be wickedness indeed, to disbelieve what I have advanced, but he knows very well, that it is all true, and only affects to doubt it, merely to teaze me. I cannot say I like this going to Tynemouth, Rosey; I have felt a kind of ominous foreboding for some time past; and I have dreamed some very strange dreams lately. However, if we are to go, I wish we were there; for we had better have the finger off, than always aching. For my part, I shall take care not to meddle with any of the mysteries of the place, nor go out at night, upon any account; for the best way to keep out of danger, is not to come into it.”
When the hour of departure from Wooler Park arrived, the earl was thoughtful and silent, for he could not avoid reflecting, that he was quitting a peaceful retreat, and entering upon a situation replete with toilsome cares and duties; and that he was about to introduce his children to a world where they would be surrounded by dangers and temptations. Mrs. Judith could not abstract her mind from the ideas of ghosts and enchantments, with which it was haunted. Ida hailed this day as the most auspicious of his life. And Rosetta, though she shed the tear of regret, at leaving her happy home, soon resumed her wonted cheerfulness, and exerted her charming vivacity, to chase the pensiveness which oppressed her father, and divert the attention of Mrs. Cresswell from the subject of her apprehensions.
The earl possessed a house at Newcastle, where he had scarcely ever resided since his marriage; but he now passed a night there on his road to Tynemouth; and the next day embarked with his family in his barge on the Tyne, followed by a number of boats, in which were his retinue. Their voyage down the river was rapid and pleasant; and the earl not choosing to land at Shields, they passed through the harbour, and, entering Prior’s haven, sailed up the moat to the bridge, where the new governor was received by Major Shipperdson, the deputy-governor, and the rest of the officers and the soldiers of the garrison under arms; and welcomed by a discharge of artillery. The heart of Ida responded to the sound of the guns; while the gentle Rosetta, surprised and agitated by a scene so novel, clung to the arm of her father, and turned her lovely face from the ardent gaze of the surrounding strangers.
Shipperdson addressed the earl in the language of flattery and compliment, a language in which he was indeed a most skilful adept. This officer maintained in the world the character of a man of honor; but was in reality a designing, unprincipled villain. A good person, and exquisitely polished manners, had but too successfully veiled his depraved heart from general observation, and so deeply was he read in the school of dissimulation, that he could readily assume any character, and wear it with the most perfect ease as long as it suited his designs. He possessed the most consummate effrontery, veiled under much seeming modesty and gentleness of manners; and he had by persevering assiduity recommended himself to persons high in power, who raised him from mean birth and obscurity to his present situation: yet was that situation too low to gratify his ambition, and the income attached to it far inadequate to answer the expences consequent on the passions and pursuits in which he indulged himself; but he had hoped for preferment. Stimulated by vanity, he had expected that his sovereign would promote him to the post vacated by the death of Sir Robert Lilburne, and now bestowed on the earl of Wooler. And though he received that nobleman with every appearance of cordiality, respect, and submission, he secretly execrated him in his heart, for having usurped what he thought his right, and ardently wished for an opportunity of revenging an injury, of which the earl was both innocent and ignorant. While Wooler, who was totally unacquainted with the dark shades of Shipperdson’s character, and only knew him as a brave officer, gave easy credit to his professions of duty and esteem, and readily assured him of his regard and friendship. At the second gate, the governor was met by the prior and brethren of the monastery; and Wooler, as he knelt to receive the holy father’s benediction, believed himself peculiarly favored by heaven, and guarded against all evils and dangers. The sentiments of Mrs. Judith were not perhaps perfectly similar to those of the earl. Rosetta obeyed the command of her father, and knelt also; and Ida, thinking, with a certain pope, that an old man’s blessing could do no harm, followed his sister’s example.
When this ceremony was finished, one of the monks advanced to the earl, leading a graceful and elegant youth, habited in a deep mourning dress.
“My lord,” said he, “you now behold the son of Sir Robert Lilburne, your deceased friend, who, with his latest breath, charged me to recommend this youth to your protection; and to entreat you, as the last request of a dying friend, to undertake the office of guardian to him, during the two remaining years of his minority.”
The earl replied to father Vincent with his accustomed gentleness and urbanity. They had already corresponded on this subject; and Wooler now embracing his young and amiable ward, promised to faithfully supply to him the place of the parent he had lost. Lilburne, who possessed much natural dignity of manners, bowed to Mrs. Cresswell and Rosetta with easy grace, and replied to the earl in terms of lively gratitude; while Ida, addressing him with fraternal tenderness, gave and received the most cordial assurances of sincere and lasting friendship.
The exterior and interior appearance of the governor’s house, did not serve to reconcile Mrs. Judith to a residence at Tynemouth. Though commanding a noble and extensive prospect of the sea, she thought the situation chilling and dreary; and though it had been fitted up and put in order for the earl’s reception, she examined the apartments with scrupulous exactness, and passed sentence on them all in succession.
“I do not like this hall,” she exclaimed. “It is too near the church-yard, and the smell of it affects my olfactory nerves like the effluvia from a vault!”
The little breakfast room adjoining the oak-parlour was forbidden to be entered, and the door absolutely nailed up, because Mrs. Judith was convinced that the spell of enchantment extended to it; the rooms in the gallery above underwent the same scrutiny. Rosetta wished to inhabit an apartment which commanded a view of the bar, and of every vessel which entered or departed from the harbour of Shields; but when she intimated her desire to Mrs. Creswell, that lady replied, “No, my dear, you must not sleep in that room, on any account; for the furniture is of a most unlucky colour—when the bed is green, sorrows are soon seen.”
Rosetta was compelled to acquiesce, and they proceeded in their examination. The adjoining room was the one which the governor had ordered to be prepared for himself, and it was passed with little animadversion; Mrs. Judith only observing, “That it would be much exposed to the wind, when it was in the east, which neither is good for man nor beast.”
The next subject to which Mrs. Cresswell turned her attention, was the choice of a chamber for herself; and to fix on one unexceptionable in all points was indeed a difficult task. Some were enchanted, and others haunted; in that the furniture was yellow, which she termed a forsaken colour; and in this it was red, the reflection of which would, she said, disorder the optic system. Rosetta, however, observing that the view from the windows was nearly the same as that she had admired in the green room, made choice of this apartment for her own use, assuring Mrs. Judith, that the colour of the hangings would not affect her sight in the least; and that lady, after some hesitation, accorded to her request. After three hours had been spent in this tedious search, without success, a small room on the north side of the gallery presented itself, and had the good fortune to please. It was hung with tapestry, and furnished with a bed, curtains, and chairs of dark blue velvet; and true blue, Mrs. Judith declared, was the very best of all colours: but many were the forms of preparation which this apartment was destined to undergo, before it could be made habitable in her opinion. In the first place, the hangings were all lifted up, and the wainscot carefully examined, lest any concealed door, or private passage, should be there. None, however, appeared; and the tapestry was then fastened down close to the floor, and a horse-shoe nailed on the threshold. On further examination, however, Mrs. Judith discovered that the bedstead was not made of mountain-ash, the only wood proof against the power of witchcraft; but, by making a strict search throughout the house, one was at length found, composed entirely of that precious material, and fitted up accordingly. She then dispatched one of the soldiers to the sea-side to bring her a holed stone, which she suspended with blessed tape over the bed’s head; and having placed images of St. Mary and St. Oswin on each side, she piously thanked heaven, that she now had a chamber fit for a human being to repose in. Yet many untoward circumstances combined to break her rest, even there. Ida insisted on occupying the rejected green room, though Mrs. Judith assured him, that such a choice would infallibly draw down misfortunes on his head; and Mitford Lilburne was no less tenacious in retaining the apartment where his father died; though it was confidently whispered about the garrison that the spirit of its late inhabitant nightly resorted to it. Poor Mrs. Judith was consequently under continual apprehension for the safety of her two young friends. The dashing of the billows also disturbed her; and in the continual roar of the winds and waves, she heard the cries of drowning seamen, and the moaning of the ghosts of those who had already perished. Besides, she was much afflicted with the cramp during the first night, though she took the precaution of turning her shoe soles upwards; and the furniture of the chamber gave loud and repeated cracks, which she considered as a most unfortunate omen indeed.
But no cares, no fears, no anxieties, either real or chimerical, disturbed the tranquil bosoms of Ida and Rosetta; to them Tynemouth was a delightful residence, and every anticipated pleasure was realised. They soon became possessed of the promised barge and palfrey; and their excursions to sea, and their rides in the neighbourhood, opened and enlarged their minds, and proved inexhaustible sources of both amusement and instruction.—Rosetta was charmed with the beautiful and romantic subjects which Tynemouth afforded for her drawings; and delighted when the melody of her harp was echoed and reverberated by the surrounding rocks; and poetry, her best beloved and favourite art, was successfully cultivated, amidst scenes calculated to inspire the ardor of poetic enthusiasm. Nor did Ida and Rosetta pursue these pleasures and employments alone, they found three amiable companions at Tynemouth in Mitford Lilburne, Oswald Clifford (a young officer of the garrison), and Elfrida Thornton, the daughter of a private gentleman who resided in the village.
Mitford Lilburne was in every respect one of the finest young men of the age in which he lived. His person was tall and gracefully elegant and majestic; his complexion fair, but animated by the bloom of health; and his sweet blue eyes expressed the gentleness, the goodness, and the sympathizing humanity of his character. His manners were at once plain, noble, sincere, and dignified; possessing a soul firm and unshaken in virtue, the constant aim of his life was to obey her precepts, from the practice of which, he neither could be diverted by the allurements, nor deterred by the sneers of the world. His understanding was acute, strong, and profound, his judgment clear and solid; the cause of misery he considered as his own, and his open heart and persuasive lips were ever ready to assist the unfortunate. Father Vincent, the most learned and amiable monk of the priory, had for several years past been his preceptor; and, aided by his instructions, the mind of Mitford Lilburne early in life was highly cultivated, and adorned with all the learning of that age. Father Vincent had for ten years been a member of the society of Benedictines settled at Tynemouth; yet the prior and brethren were ignorant of his name, family, and connections. They knew him to be a native of Italy, but of what part they could not ascertain, for he seemed equally well acquainted with every place in that country and France, and he had never communicated the particulars of his history to any of them. He was eminently conspicuous for sanctity of life and manners, and his countenance exhibited the picture of a man worn with years and sorrows; but the austerities and mortifications which he practised, and a grief which, doubtless, had its origin in days long past, had probably greatly augmented his appearance of age, and anticipated the work of time. Yet good and amiable as was father Vincent, he had few friends in either the convent or garrison. The prior and monks in general envied his superior erudition, and secretly hated him, because he saw and reproved their vices. This was also the case with Major Shipperdson: he had refused absolution to that officer, and frequently admonished him; but Shipperdson, far from profiting by his exhortations, highly resented them, and vowed a revenge, which he only waited for a favourable opportunity to execute. Father Vincent, however, had been high in the esteem of the late governor; he attended him on his death-bed, and from the length of time which they remained in private, and the agitation which appeared on both their countenances, it was generally believed that Sir Robert then communicated to him some very important event of his life, but of what nature no one could guess.
After the new governor and his family arrived at Tynemouth, the earl expressed a desire that his children should partake with Mitford Lilburne in the valuable instructions of the holy monk; a request which father Vincent most willingly complied with, and stored the minds of his delighted pupils with the treasures of history, philosophy, and geography. He was much attached to Rosetta, but Mitford Lilburne observed, or thought he observed, that her presence frequently excited some painful idea in the mind of father Vincent; for he had frequently heard him sigh, and even seen him weep, when gazing on her with fixed and earnest attention.
Elfrida Thornton did not possess either the strength of mind or fine understanding of Rosetta de Norton; but her soft and gentle manners, and the taste she displayed for music and drawing, engaged the esteem of that young lady, and she merited it; for Elfrida, with a disposition timid, retired, and unobtrusive, had many valuable qualities.
Oswald Clifford was a friendless orphan, who had lost a father and a fortune in the wars of York and Lancaster; and he had owed both his education and the commission he held in the garrison of Tynemouth, to the generosity of Mr. Thornton ; a generosity which found its reward in the gratitude and good conduct of him on whom it was bestowed. Brought up from infancy with Elfrida, he regarded her as a friend—a sister; but he had strictly guarded his heart against the admission of a sentiment more tender, for the duty and respect he felt for his benefactor were such, that he would have died rather than have made a clandestine attempt to engage the affections of his child. Clifford was high in the esteem of Mitford Lilburne, who recommended him to the favor of the earl of Wooler, when that nobleman arrived at Tynemouth; and from that hour the five young friends were scarcely ever asunder. They all shared in the same pleasures, and constantly composed the same party out to sea, riding, or walking on the beach; and when the gentlemen were engaged in military exercises, or hunting, the ladies amused themselves at home with music, working, and drawing. And Rosetta, the innocent, the lovely Rosetta, was now more gay, more cheerful, and more happy than ever. Poor Mrs. Judith, however, was far from been reconciled to her situation; in addition to her former disastrous prodigies, many similar ones had occurred to disturb her; she had seen a figure, without a head, cross the church-yard at midnight, and vanish in the sea. She had heard a bell toll at the same solemn hour. And some of the soldier’s children had destroyed the nests which the swallows had built in the eaves of the governor’s house; and hence Mrs. Judith predicted the destruction of it, and all its inhabitants.
Major Shipperdson, who chose to keep fair with all the governor’s family, had found out Mrs. Cresswell’s weak side, and amused her credulity with all the tales of horror concerning Tynemouth, that he could collect.
“I do not wonder that you dislike Tynemouth Castle, my dear madam,” he would say; “it is certainly a very unfit residence for a lady: many deeds of darkness have been perpetrated here.”
Then ensued a long dissertation concerning Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, after which Shipperdson resumed.—
“But though that affair doubtless was the foundation of the enchantment, yet I think that the murder of father Ninian was even more atrocious.”
This was sufficient to excite the curiosity of Mrs. Judith; and, at her entreaty, her complaisant informer related a long story, from the substance of which she learned, that one of the Lilburne family had murdered a monk belonging to the convent; and no atonement having been made to the church for this sacrilege, the perturbed spirit of the deceased nightly walked its rounds there.
Shipperdson then proceeded to hint what was whispered in the garrison concerning the dying moments of the late governor; and though he did not scruple to mix what he believed to be false, with what he knew to be true, Mrs. Judith gave implicit credit to the whole of his information, and felt much consoled by his assurance—that the ghost of father Ninian never hurt any person.”
However though the major could impose on the earl and Mrs. Judith, he had no friends amongst the younger part of the family. The gentlemen despised, and the ladies disliked him; while he in his turn hated Ida, Lilburne, and Clifford for their talents and their virtues—regarded Rosetta only as a beautiful child, and had for some time past entertained designs against Elfrida, which he was resolved to carry into execution, whenever opportunity offered.
Such was the situation of affairs at Tynemouth, in the summer of 1492, when circumstances induced the king to assemble his forces for the purpose of invading France, the Earl of Wooler received his majesty’s commands to leave his government to the care of Major Shipperdson, and join the army, without delay, with his vassels, and all the troops that could be spared from the garrison.
Alas! this mandate destroyed the visionary happiness of Rosetta, and she looked forward with weeping anguish to the mournful parting with her parent and her brother.
Ida rejoiced in the thought of accompanying his father to France, and engaging in active warfare.
Lilburne and Clifford certainly were not less courageous than Ida, and yet the former sighed when he reflected, that he also must attend the earl; and the latter felt a load removed from his breast, when he received orders to remain in the garrison, while Mrs. Judith already foretold the fate of the war, and saw as many prodigies in the sky, as attended the siege of Jerusalem.
“But let my due feet never fail,
To walk the studious cloister’s pale,
And love the high embossed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.”
THE governor was indefatigably active in obeying the commands of his sovereign. He visited Wooler Park, to give the necessary instructions for raising and arming his vassels; and on his return, employed himself in drawing up such orders as were requisite, to secure the safety and internal quiet of the garrison during his absence. And it was his intention to confer the dignity of knighthood on Mitford Lilburne previous to their departure, which he expected would take place about the middle of September.
The weather in the beginning of this month was remarkably pleasant, and one evening Ida proposed a party to sea for the following day, which was readily agreed to by Lilburne, Clifford, and the two young ladies.
The morning rose serene and bright, the mild western breeze scarce dimpled the ocean, and the refulgent sun beams illumined the gothic towers, and antique casements of the priory.
The party assembled at an early hour, and all matters being prepared for their embarkation at nine o’clock, they passed by the south-west postern to the haven, where the barge waited to receive them. In all their excursions, whenever the least shadow of danger or difficulty presented itself, Rosetta had been accustomed to receive the assistance of both Lilburne and Clifford, and now their ready hands were extended to conduct her over the rocks, slippery with moss and sea-weed. Probably the idea of Lilburne’s approaching departure, at that moment rushed to the mind of Rosetta, and softened her heart in his favor; for whatever might be the cause she now departed from her former uniform impartiality, and accepting his aid alone, refused that of the young officer, though in the most gentle manner, with a smile, and a slight inclination of her head.
Ah! what were the sensations which this acceptance, and this refusal excited in Lilburne and Clifford! Both had long loved Rosetta de Norton, unknown even to themselves; but this eventful moment brought conviction to their bosoms; and while hope and extatic delight beamed on the former; jealousy and despair overwhelmed the latter.
When Rosetta was seated in the barge, Lilburne placed himself by her side. Ida had conducted Miss Thornton, and the dejected Clifford took his seat at a distance. They were rowed by two barge-men, and attended by lord Ida’s servant; and for some time the diversion of fishing was pursued by the whole party with apparent earnestness, though with but indifferent success. Lilburne was attentive only to Rosetta; he conversed but with her, baited her hooks, drew up her line, and deposited her prey in the basket. Clifford watched them with looks of anxious solicitude. Elfrida leaning over the side of the barge, seemed lost in silent dejection, while Ida, ever gay, cheerful, and animated, strove to amuse and enliven both his friends and himself: he laughed at his own ill fortune, bantered Clifford on his want of skill, and rallied Elfrida for being so grave, until he called up a smile on her pensive countenance.—While Ida was thus employed, Lilburne was disengaging Rosetta’s hook from the breast of a poor unfortunate gurnet.
“How cruel you are,” she cried,” “to tear it away with such force, and give the poor captive a death so painful!”
“And, would lady Rosetta be equally tender to all her captives?” questioned Lilburne, with an arch smile— “Would she always grieve to behold the pain she inflicts?”
“No, no, Sir,” she replied with quickness. “I only feel for suffering innocence, if my captives deserve punishment, I should offer an insult to justice by pitying them.”
A deep sigh burst from the bosom of Clifford, and to conceal it, he pretended to busy himself in counting the fishes they had already caught, while Elfrida prevented Lilburne’s reply to her friend, by exclaiming with assumed gaiety:— “I can secure no captives however, for one has just broken my line and escaped with the hook.”
“Then he has struggled for freedom, and deserved it,” cried Ida, “the wretch who tamely submits to his chains is worthy of them.”
“And are these your sentiments, Norton,” cried Lilburne; “you will make a fine lover indeed, if you avow them.”
“If ever I be a lover, I certainly shall avow them,” returned Ida. “A gentle fair one may bind me with fetters of roses, but the moment she shows her chains, I am off.”
Miss Thornton’s line was by this time repaired, but she declined using it any more, and Rosetta regarding her with a look of tender anxiety, exclaimed, “I fear our voyage to-day is not agreeable to you, my dear Elfrida—if you feel indisposed, we will instantly return.”
A smile from Elfrida, and an assurance that she was perfectly well, quieted the fears of her friends, or at least stopped all inquiries, but it did not hinder the lively Ida from exclaiming:— “Oh! no, it is not the sea that affects Miss Thornton—I know her goodness—the idea of my approaching departure has robbed her countenance of its wonted gaiety.”
The word departure had a visible and wonderful effect on all present. Lilburne sighed deeply, and threw aside his line. A pensive languor overshadowed the fine features of Rosetta. The dejection of Elfrida was evidently increased, and she could scarce collect spirits and voice sufficient to assure Ida that she should indeed regret his departure, though at present, it really was not the subject of her thoughts. But far different was the expression of Clifford’s animated eyes—a beam of joy sparkled there, and he now returned the raillery of Ida, by reminding him that the ladies seemed to support with composure the prospect of losing his society.
“Very well,” returned Norton, “just as they please—if no one here will lament my absence, I do not despair of finding one in France, who will rejoice in my presence. Lilburne also tells me, that he intends bringing Hartley Hall a fair mistress from that country. However, Clifford, as you are to be the champion, and knight-errant of these fair damsels, I would caution you, to beware of Major Shipperdson—take care he does not rob you of your charming wards, for believe me, he will prove a much more subtle dangerous enemy, than all the ghosts and enchantments my aunt Judith talks about.”
This speech seemed to augment the effect of the former one. Clifford became yet more animated, and the dejection of the rest increased; and so very unhappy did Elfrida appear, that an idea now for the first time rushed to the mind of Rosetta, that what her brother had said in jest, was true in earnest; and that his approaching departure, or—painful thought!—the departure of Lilburne, was a source of anguish to Elfrida; yet the candour and good sense of Rosetta, would not permit her to form hasty conclusions, and she determined to watch her friend, until either her conjectures were confirmed or destroyed—probably indeed they were wholly without foundation.
Lilburne now, with a pretended solicitude to amuse Miss Thornton, but with a real desire to hear the charming voice of Rosetta, requested a song from that young lady. She gracefully complied, and with her wonted enchanting softness, and expression, sung the following.
Evening! I love thy pensive hour,
When ocean’s ebbing water’s flow;
And gentle western breezes blow,
Sweet is thy magic power.
Though sunk the glorious orb of day,
The moon displays her mellow light;
And every radiant star of night
Unfolds its brightest ray.
And when beneath stern winter’s power,
Wide o’er the sky dark clouds were cast,
And hoarse waves echo to the blast,
I love that pensive hour.
Clifford, attentive only to the thrilling melody of Rosetta’s voice, lost his line overboard; and Ida throwing his aside, declared he would fish no more; and commanded Daniel to unpack the refreshments they had brought with them.
While these orders were obeying, Lilburne, who had listened to Rosette with rapturous delight, wrote with a pencil the following sonnet, and presented it to that lady.
Arion’s tuneful harp, and magic lays,
Could charm the list’ning monsters of the deep,
And Hesiod’s murder’d corpse, tradition says,
When plunge’d in vengeance from the rocky steep,
Was borne by dolphins through the yielding sea,
To the fair temple of Neinean Jove.
But greater powers, Rosetta, wait on thee;---
Thy strains divine, shall hearts immortal move;
Still let it be the boast of Grecian song,
To please the subjects of wide ocean’s caves,
While round thy potent lyre, fair nymph, shall throng,
Even they, the mighty rulers of the waves,
And sceptered Thetis, and her syren train,
With envy’s bitter tears, shall swell their native main.
When Rosetta read these lines, she held them over the side of the barge, and exclaimed with a glance of arch meaning at Lilburne, “The only atonement that can be made to Thetis for the insult you have offered her, will be to sacrifice this to her resentment.”
“Do so,” replied Lilburne, with the saucy smile of conscious security.
Rosetta held it to the surface of the water, and then hastily folding it up, deposited it in her pocket-book; while Ida and Miss Thornton, who suddenly became more animated, petitioned in vain to see it; and the look of triumphant gratitude which Lilburne wore, was a dagger to the heart of Clifford.
It was now twelve o’clock, and the party intended to return by three, but the wind suddenly shifted to the north-west, and blew a strong gale. The serene blue of the sky was covered with black clouds; the billows began to swell, and the boatmen declared it would be prudent to make the best of their way into port, as the weather wore every appearance of an approaching storm. Ida had no fears, but Lilburne and Clifford, who from their long residence at Tynemouth, were much better acquainted with every symptom which the watermen pointed out, concurred in their opinion; and the ladies, especially the timid Elfrida, urged their immediate return. They took in their anchor, and attempted to gain the harbour, but vain was the effort; the wind now blew a hurricane, and the ebb-tide ran with such strength, that it was impossible to approach the shore. Sails and oars were of no avail; and the barge, driven rapidly along by the fury of the elements, soon lost sight of the lofty towers of Tynemouth.
Dismay and anguish now pervaded the whole party. The colour fled from the lovely cheeks of Rosetta, and she raised her eyes to those of Lilburne, with a look of hopeless despondency. Elfrida shrieked aloud, and wrung her hands; but the gentlemen concealed their own apprehensions, and exerted themselves to combat the fears, and soothe the spirits of their fair companions, with hopes that it would be possible to make Sunderland harbour, though at the same time, they were but too sensible, that the same causes which prevented them from approaching their own haven, would operate with equal force at the mouth of the Wear; and their apprehensions were verified, for though the boatmen did their utmost to enter that river, they found it impossible to accomplish their purpose.
Oh! what was now the situation of the poor forlorn victims! Tossed on the wide ocean, with no hope, no probability of deliverance from danger, scarce the least chance of escape from death; for the swelling surge incessantly broke over the boat, and it pitched so violently, that every moment threatened to overset it.
Wet, cold, and exhausted, Rosetta wept on the bosom of her brother, and her heart seemed to die within her, while her anguished thought turned to her unhappy parent, who in one fatal hour would be deprived of both his children; nor was the near prospect of her own inevitable destruction half so torturing to her agonized soul, as the idea of his sufferings and distraction.
The timid mind and weak frame of Elfrida were ill calculated to support the approach of danger, and her fears soon becoming too powerful for both her strength and her reason, she sunk to the bottom of the barge, the pale image of death.
Clifford distressed as he was on Rosetta’s account, felt his affectionate regard for Elfrida, and his gratitude to her father, too strong to behold unmoved, her present deplorable situation, and raising her in his arms, he supported her inanimate form, and used every means in his power to restore her to life.
In this hour of calamity, Ida remained undaunted and undismayed; he endeavoured to soothe and re-assure his sister; and resigning her to the care of Lilburne, gave every assistance in his power to the watermen.
Lilburne was too well acquainted with maritime affairs, not to be fully sensible of the imminent perils to which they were exposed; he saw no prospect of escaping destruction; and though he wore the outward appearance of hope and cheerfulness, yet the prayer which his secret soul sent up to the throne of grace, was rather a petition for mercy in death, than deliverance from danger. His own life, indeed, he considered as of no value, and with happiness, with transport, would he have sacrificed it to save that of his adored Rosetta; yet to do that, was, alas! impossible; and while he supported her loved form, he expected every moment to perish with her.
The wind now blew with increased vehemence, the rain poured down in torrents, and the billows broke on their stern, and met their prow with augmented fury; yet in the midst of the conflicting elements, two persons remained fearless and undaunted, these were Lord Ida, and Sandy, an experienced old seaman who had never quitted the helm from the first appearance of danger.
“Dinna be frightened, lady,” cried he addressing Rosetta, “Aw’s war’nt ye we’ll dee weel enough presently. Aw’ve been out in mony sick storms i’ maw days, an’ yet, Lord be praised, Aw’s here yet. Sit about Daniel, ye blinnd goose, dinnit ye see the weight gangs a’ ti that side of the boat.”
“How old are you, Sandy,” questioned Ida, willing to lead the attention of his companions, even for a moment, from the contemplation of their danger.
“Aw’ll be fourscore years awd cum Cannelmas day,—wheever lives to see’d, maister—Hollo, Jony, dinnit you see that big wave cuming?”
Rosetta, whose firm soul could not long droop under calamity, now felt her natural fortitude revive; and determined to support her fate with dignity, she assumed a look of composure, and turning to Sandy, begged him to tell her whether he really thought there was a possibility of their being saved.
“Dinna be frighten’d, lady, aw’s war’nt ye we’re syafe enough; we’ll get into the Tees by an’ by; if we can that’s to say, an’ if we cannot, wy, we mun jeust beat about a bit langer.”
The sanguine mind of Ida readily adopted Sandy’s idea, that it might be possible to enter the Tees; but Lilburne knew too well, that such an attempt would be wholly impracticable; yet unwilling to distress his friends, he seemed to concur in their opinion and expectations.
Meanwhile Clifford had succeeded in restoring animation to Elfrida, and prevailed on her to swallow a small quantity of cordial, but unable to combat her fears, or support the scene of horror which surrounded her, she continued with her eyes shut, and her head reclined on Clifford’s bosom.
Rosetta had now recovered the powers of her firm mind, and resigning herself to the disposal of Divine Providence, bestowed her whole attention on Elfrida, and soothed her with affectionate tenderness.
Ida, still undaunted, encouraged the vain hope that some ship would appear and rescue them from their perilous situation. But alas! when they were rapidly driven past the extensive mouth of the Tees, and old Sandy found himself baulked in his expectations of entering that river, it seemed as if every chance was annihilated, and their final doom sealed. Even Ida no longer talked of deliverance; yet he ventured to mention Whitby, and faintly inquired whether there might be a possibility of gaining that port.
Lilburne, who too well knew there was none, remained silent; and the watermen both agreed, that the very attempt would be fatal.
“No, maister, that winna dee,” cried Sandy, shaking his head, “there’s ne seck thing as getten into Whitby win a boat, but when the wayter’s as smooth as new milk; but dinna be frighten’d—Aw’s war’nt ye we’ll dee weel enough by an’ by—the swell ‘ill gang doon afore neight yet.”
But Sandy’s predictions had already failed, and the reliance which the whole party had hitherto placed on his experience was consequently weakened; and when not only Whitby, but many little creeks and bays on the Yorkshire coast were passed like the harbours of Tyne, Wear, and Tees;—when night drew on, enveloped in clouds, and unlighted by moon or star; when the winds and waves roared with unabated violence; and no ship, no haven, no deliverance appeared, the last, faint ray of hope expired, and black despair pervaded every bosom.
Scarcely less dreadful was the situation of the unhappy earl, when he beheld the rising storm, and the agonizing remembrance that his children were exposed to it, rushed to his mind. With anxious steps he paced the rampart during the whole of the afternoon; sometimes raising his imploring eyes to heaven in fervent prayer; and sometimes directing them, with a mingled glance of expectation and despondency, over the wide expanse of troubled waters, where fancy pictured the barge approaching in almost every swelling wave: alas! hope deceived him, for night came on with all its dismal horrors, but brought not his Ida and Rosetta. Yet unable to support the dreadful idea that his children had perished, the fond parent flattered himself that they had been able to make some port on the coast; but when darkness drove him to his home for shelter, when the storm howled without, and when he beheld his once cheerful fire-side, occupied only by the weeping and dejected Mrs. Cresswell, hope and fortitude forsook him, and almost in the same breath, he blamed himself for having permitted Rosetta and Ida to go—supplicated heaven for their safety, and with groans of bitter anguish exclaimed, that he never should see them more.
Mrs. Judith, as may readily be supposed, acted the part of Job’s comforters on this occasion.
“Oh, this is the fruits of coming to reside here,” she cried. “What but misery could happen to Ida, when he has slept so long in a green bed—besides, any person might have foreseen that a storm was coming on; I have observed it for several days; sea-gulls have screamed violently, and the asses have brayed without ceasing; the pigs run about all day yesterday with straws in their mouths, which is a certain sign of wind. I told Mitford last night, that a quantity of soot had come down the chimney, but he paid no regard to it—none are so blind as those that won’t see: but had they minded what I said, they might now have been safe.—Oh! what a night is here—look, my lord, the storm will not subside, for the cat is sitting with her back to the fire—oh! my Rosey! my Rosey!—I shall never see thee more.”
Thus passed the night in dismal lamentations, and vain regrets. The morning dawned serene and fair, and a mild southern breeze smoothed the ocean, but the spirits of the earl were little revived by the renovated beauty of nature; he had, the preceding day, combated his fears with the hope that they had got into Sunderland harbour, but alas! had that been the case, he must long since have heard some tidings of them; yet willing to catch at every possible chance to ward off the dreadful idea, that he had lost his children for ever, he deluded himself with a supposition, that they had perhaps been able to enter the Tees, and that he should hear of them in the course of the day, and in the meanwhile he dispatched messengers along the coast to make enquiries of the fishermen, and others who had been off at sea during the storm. While Mrs. Judith, on the departure of these persons, took care not to omit the ceremony of throwing an old shoe after them, for good luck!
The father of Elfrida was even more unhappy than the earl of Wooler himself, as from his long residence nigh the sea, he was much better enabled to judge of the dangers to which his child was exposed. He measured his anxious steps with those of the governor along the ramparts of the castle; and questioned the crew of every vessel which entered Shields harbour, but to no purpose—no one had seen the boat, and the unhappy Thornton, worn down with years and infirmities, looked forward only to the dreadful certainty, that the darling of his age, the delight of his heart, his child, his Elfrida, was buried deep in a watery grave—and Clifford, the noble-minded, and amiable youth, who he regarded as a son, was gone too.
It will readily be supposed that on this occasion, the governor did not fail to prostrate himself before the shrine of St. Oswin, and offer a rich gift, and many prayers to that holy martyr. While the prior and monks, in return, soothed him with assurances that the petition of so good and dutiful a son of the church would certainly be heard.
Father Vincent, however, did not stay to comfort the earl, but anxiously uneasy for the fate of his beloved children, he departed himself with the messengers who went in search of them.
Mrs. Judith likewise was actively and variously busy. She was this day sanguine in hope, for she had seen a letter in the candle, and a stranger in the fire; she felt a sensation in her ear, which, she said, portended news, and she had dreamed of the deceased countess the preceding night; and she assured the earl, that to dream of the dead, is to hear of the living: and even when most of the persons dispatched by the governor returned in the evening, after an unsuccessful search, she still consoled herself by observing that “no news is good news.”
Father Vincent did not return with the messengers, and Major Shipperdson, though he had all along affected great concern, especially in the presence of the governor and Mr. Thornton, secretly wished that neither the monk, nor any of the party he sought after, Elfrida excepted, might ever be heard of more.
Another sun set, another dawn arose, and witnessed the agonizing uncertainty of the wretched parent. Hope had gradually declined in his bosom, its beams had grown fainter and fainter, and were now almost overshadowed by despair. Even Mrs. Judith contributed her share to depress his spirits, for this day abounded with as many bad omens as the preceding one had furnished those of a favorable aspect; her rest was broken for two hours by the death-watch, and afterwards she dreamed of eggs, which she said infallibly portended sorrow and mischief; besides her maid had killed a spider, and neglected to spread oatmeal for the crickets, crimes which could not fail to draw down vengeance on the whole house, and to avert their direful effects, she passed the chief part of the day in fasting and prayer; while at intervals her groans and screams echoed through the hall and gallery; then on a sudden she would become more calm, and administer consolation to the earl, by reminding him, that what cannot be cured, must be endured. But even in the very moment that she delivered this incomparable maxim, her own example, and the loudness of her lamentations, destroyed the efficacy of her doctrine.
“Oh! how I mourn for their return,” she would exclaim; and when the governor or Mr. Thornton attempted to mitigate the sonorous violence of her sorrow, she would forget the lesson she had but the moment before been inculcating, and repeat with loud emphasis:— “Patience many a one can preach, but who can practice what they teach?”
Not a boat entered the haven, and not a blast was blown on the bugle at the castle gate, but Mrs. Cresswell flew in breathless expectation to make enquiries; but she was still left to console herself with her yesterday’s maxim, that, “no news is good news;” for alas! none arrived.
Many were the weary visits which she paid to the ramparts and eminences of the castle; and many were the boats she saw approaching, which turned out to be a rock, a sand, a sea-gull, a wave, and sometimes nothing at all.
Towards evening, some person as superstitious as herself, informed her, that there lived at Cullercoats a wise woman, one who knew every thing—who could restore lost or stolen goods to their right owners, and who could tell whether the absent were well or sick, alive or dead. To Cullercoats, therefore, Mrs. Judith went, having first obtained the consent of the earl, who probably placed as firm a reliance on the oracles of this female sage, as antiquity did on those of the Cumaen sybil, and her communications were indeed most wonderful; for the fair magician informed her astonished and delighted visitor, that the barge had actually been driven over-sea, and that the whole of the persons it contained were safe and well at Hamburgh!—Not once did Mrs. Judith doubt the truth of this story—not once did she give herself leave to reflect on its probability, or even possibility, or call to mind the direction in which the wind had blown on the night of the storm, but having amply rewarded her marvellous informant, she hastened back to Tynemouth, to communicate her joyful tidings to the governor and Mr. Thornton. She found these gentlemen together in the parlour, with countenances infinitely more cheerful than when she left them; but so much was she occupied with the delightful intelligence which she had to relate, that she neither inquired into, nor even wondered at the cause. Having thrown herself into a chair, to recover her fatigue—folded up her scarf with the nicest exactness—and prefaced her story, by observing that “matters are never so bad but they might be worse,” she repeated the oracles of her friend the sybil.
Thornton received this information with a loud laugh, and the earl smiling, said, “No, no, my dear cousin, the wise woman is partly mistaken for once—our children, blessed be heaven, are safe, but not at Hamburgh, that, you know, is quite out of the question.”
He then presented her with a letter he had just received from his son, dated from Scarborough, at nine o’clock in the evening of the storm, briefly informing him that they were all well, and that they would return by land to Tynemouth, when the ladies had recovered their fatigue.
“Aye, there now,” exclaimed Mrs. Judith, after she had perused and kissed Ida’s’s letter, “I told you I saw this letter in the candle t’other night.”
“But my dear Mrs. Cresswell,” cried Thornton, “how widely your friend at Cullercoats has been out.”
“Nay, I think she has been very near the matter,” returned Mrs. Judith. “You see they are all safe, that is the main point, and as to the rest she has only mistaken the name, there is little difference between Hamburgh and Scarborough.”
“The breadth of the sea is all the difference, to be sure,” returned Thornton, drily.
But all his raillery could not prevent Mrs. Judith from believing and maintaining, that the wise woman was a person of wonderful knowledge.
“I scent the well-known air, and now appear
The distant hills where first these lights did rise,
That fill’d, while it pleas’d heaven, my doating eyes
With love and joy.———”
THE swelling surge, as the old waterman predicted, subsided towards the close of day, and enabled the weary and exhausted sufferers to land in safety at Scarborough.
Rosetta, who had supported herself with fortitude in the trying hour of danger, was piously grateful to heaven for their deliverance. But Elfrida was carried from the barge in a state of insensibility, from which, however, when they reached an inn, the exertions of Rosetta soon recovered her.
Clifford recollecting that a Mr. Moorsom, a gentleman of fortune and respectability, and the intimate friend of Mr. Thornton, resided at Scarborough, dispatched a card to acquaint him with their situation, and Moorsom, on receiving it, instantly waited on them, and insisted on conducting the whole party to his house.
Mrs. Moorsom received her fair guests with maternal tenderness and affection, and the whole of her amiable family, to whom Elfrida was well known, exerted themselves to amuse her, and dispel the unpleasant remembrance of her boisterous voyage; but no entreaties could prevail on any of the party to remain more than one day at Scarborough; for Rosetta and Elfrida ardently wished to return home, and relieve the anxiety of their friends; Lilburne and Ida had many preparations to make previous to their departure for France; and Clifford could not longer be absent from his military duties.
On the second morning, therefore, they all departed from Scarborough, but not until Elfrida had promised Cleora Moorsom to pay her a longer visit the following summer. On the road they met father Vincent, and the rest of the messengers. The monk rejoiced and blessed heaven for the safety of his young friends, who, without meeting any further accident, arrived at Tynemouth.
The earl and Mr. Thornton received them with the most lively joy. Shipperdson assured Elfrida, that he could not have survived her loss. And Judith, in the midst of her caresses and exultations, did not fail to charge them never to stir from home again when the pigs had foretold a windy day.
This excursion, unpleasant as it was, discovered to Rosetta two most important secrets: she felt that her own heart was unalienably attached to Lilburne, and she saw that Clifford was the object of Elfrida’s tenderest regard, for when that young lady recovered from her swoon at Scarborough, her first question, on finding herself alone with her friend was— “Oh! Rosetta, tell me, I implore you, does Clifford live?”
The evening after their return to Tynemouth, the young friends all rode on the beach, to contemplate the rough element where they had so lately been exposed to danger and death.
Lilburne, as was his usual custom, quitted his horse to lead Rosetta’s palfry down the steep and narrow defile, and while she thanked him for his attention, his fine eyes were alternately bent on her with looks of tender love, and raised to heaven, in gratitude, for her recent preservation. Clifford also was flying to assist Rosetta, but remembering the passage of the rocks, and the manner in which the offer of his services was there received, he checked himself, though with a sigh of anguish, and turned his attention to Elfrida; who, but too much delighted with his society, and too weak to combat a passion which she knew was unreturned, watched the moment when the gentlemen remounted, and drawing in her horse, rode slowly by the side of Clifford, at a distance from the rest of the party.
Ida having some business at Cullercoats, went thither, and Lilburne and Rosetta were left to themselves.
The low dashing of the ebb-waves was scarcely heard on the shore, and the winds breathing on the waters, possessed not the power to ruffle their surface, which reflected the clear azure of the sky, and the oblique rays of the declining sun. Striking indeed was the contrast between the present tranquil scene, and the boisterous violence of the storm; but the serenity of the surrounding prospect was not in unison with the bosom of Lilburne—that was agitated indeed, for since the moment in which he had discovered the situation of his heart with regard to Rosetta, he had been debating with himself, whether to declare his passion to its fair object, or defer the disclosure until his return from France; the strength of his affection, and the fears he naturally felt, that some happy rival, might, during his absence, gain her affections, urged him to the former; but the goodness, the nobleness of his character, almost inclined him to bury the secret in his own bosom for the present, and trust to the uncertain chance of futurity; for reason represented to him that he was now on the eve of departing upon an expedition from whence it was probable he might never return, and to win the inestimable heart of Rosetta de Norton, to leave her to sigh for his safety—perhaps to mourn for his death, was a line of conduct which he could not wholly reconcile to his own dignified and exalted sentiments; but on this very morning, a trifling circumstance had occurred, which by flattering him with the dear hope that he possessed some little interest in her breast, had put to flight all his cautions and scruples, for weak indeed, and easily silenced is the voice of reason in the mind of a lover. Ida, in looking amongst the drawings of his sister, had seen a profile of Mitford Lilburne, on which it was evident the fair artist had bestowed the utmost efforts of her talents and skill. Ida, far from keeping his discovery to himself, with his wonted thoughtless gaiety, instantly communicated it to his friend; at the same time archly complimenting him on the honor he had received from the hand of Rosetta; and Lilburne, the delighted, the enraptured Lilburne, from that moment, resolved, at all events, to urge his suit previous to his departure for France. The evening seemed to afford him a favorable opportunity, and while they rode together on the beach, twenty times did his faltering voice tremble with a sentence which his lips refused to utter—at length, with a broken sigh, and almost in a half whisper, he pronounced:—“Soon, too soon, shall I have no consolation but the remembrance of these happy hours—Oh! Lady Rosetta, shall they ever return?”
Rosetta felt that the hours she passed in Lilburne’s society were indeed happy ones, and while his words forcibly impressed on her mind a sad conviction of the reverse she was doomed soon to experience, she could scarce prevent the tears from rushing to her expressive eyes; yet she smiled, but could not trust her voice with a sentence, and Lilburne resumed,— “One short week only remains until I must leave Tynemouth, and it depends on Lady Rosetta alone, whether it shall be for ever.”
Rosetta felt her heart beat violently, but she assumed an indifference foreign to her feelings, and exclaimed, with seeming vivacity, “On me!—does the chance of war rest with me?—Can I controul its power, or decide who shall be its victims?—I wish I could, for then none should fall.”
“Not the fate of war, but my fate rests solely with you, charming, amiable Rosetta,” cried Lilburne, with impassioned energy—Oh! loveliest of women, will you pardon my temerity?—will you allow me to hope?—Will you,” added he, after a pause, in which he watched her countenance with anxious solicitude—“Will you honor with your acceptance a heart from which your image never can be effaced.”
Here he paused again, but Rosetta too much agitated to speak, remained silent. He resumed— “Pardon me, madam, I am sensible that this is no place for such a declaration, but time is now precious, and if I had neglected this opportunity, I might not have enjoyed another; then let me now receive my doom; say, angelic Rosetta, will you give me leave to apply to the earl, and allow me to encourage the delightful hope, that if heaven permits my return from France, your approbation will be the blessed reward of my toils and dangers—or am I condemned to despair, to misery, to a lasting exile from happiness, and from my country.”
The tremor of Rosetta now increased tenfold, but her soul was above disguise, and abhorring the idea of giving pain to, or trifling with the heart that adored her, she attempted to reply, but her voice faultering and agitated, could only articulate— “Be assured, sir, I shall feel most happy in your safe return, but, till then—” she hesitated.—
“I know what you would say, generous, most amiable Rosetta,” cried Lilburne, while his fine eyes sparkled with lively transport, “You wish me to defer any application to the earl, until we revisit England, but many—many months may intervene ere that period arrives; and can I tear myself from all my soul holds dear, uncertain whether my love is sanctioned by her parent! Oh! my Rosetta, were I but assured that I have no hated rival to dread—that I may hope to live in your memory, your regard, I should discharge each duty with alacrity, and meet every danger undaunted.”
“And what rival do you dread?” questioned Rosetta, with an arch smile, for she had now, in some degree, rallied her spirits.
“Ten thousand,” cried Lilburne, with energy, “for that lovely person and angelic mind must create an admirer in every beholder.”
Lilburne did indeed dread a rival in almost every gentleman who approached Rosetta. He reflected with unspeakable anguish, that she would be left to the guardianship, to the constant society of Shipperdson and Clifford, and he dreaded them both, for the former was handsome, artful, and insinuating; the later amiable and good, and, as Lilburne well knew, most tenderly attached to Rosetta, while he was ignorant both of the preference which Elfrida felt for Clifford, and that which Shipperdson professed for Elfrida. However he had now little leisure to revolve all this in his mind, for Rosetta, after gayly thanking him for the flattering compliment he had just paid her, added, “but I shall have few beholders in my father’s absence, and I certainly shall not encourage any addresses while my friends are—my father is far from me.”
Lilburne, with rapturous gratitude, thanked Rosetta for her condescending goodness; and availing himself of the tacit permission he had received, he resolved to address the earl the first opportunity, and to urge the subject no further to Rosetta at present. However, it must be owned, this delicate forbearance was rather the effect of necessity than choice, for they had now reached the extremity of the beach, where the rocks intercepted their progress; and Rosetta turned her horse into the road leading to Cullercoats, having promised to join her brother there; and Elfrida choosing to return by the sands, came up to bid her friend good night; while Clifford, the dejected Clifford, as he turned to attend her, marked the animated countenance of his happy rival, and sighed in agony.
Yet though Clifford loved Rosetta de Norton with romantic ardor, he was at the same time but too sensible that she preferred Lilburne to every other man, that he was her equal in fortune, and was high in the favor and esteem of the earl her father; while himself, a friendless and unportioned orphan, could have no chance, no expectation, no hope of exciting any sentiment in her breast but the cold regard of friendship; and though there were moments when the voice of reason powerfully urged him to combat his unfortunate love—though he highly esteemed Lilburne, and sincerely wished him happy, yet he continued to nourish a passion which was undermining his peace; and suffered his mind for ever to dwell enraptured on the charms of Rosetta.—Her form, he thought, was beauty itself—her understanding was wisdom personified—and her heart was the habitation of every feminine virtue; and while his thoughts were thus occupied with one object, he was totally blind to the preference with which Elfrida honored him.—He regarded her only as a sister, and thought the sentiments she felt for him were perfectly similar.
When Rosetta and her two companions reached the castle, they found the earl engaged with his steward, who had just arrived from Wooler Park. Mrs. Cresswell had retired somewhat indisposed, and Rosetta immediately repaired to her chamber; while Ida and Lilburne, left to themselves, sought the society of a gentleman in the village, who engaged them for a coursing party the next day.
Lilburne could find no opportunity of addressing the earl, either that night, or previous to his departure in the morning; and the indisposition of Mrs. Judith continuing, Rosetta scarcely ever left her the whole day. Towards evening, however, she was visited by father Vincent, and Rosetta took that opportunity of retiring to her own apartment. She took her solitary seat near the window, and watched the declining rays of the sun; the shades of evening gradually enveloping the surrounding objects, and the full moon rising in radiant majesty, and reflecting its broad orb on the waves; and often were her eyes directed towards the sea banks, along which she knew the sportsmen would return. She listened to the soft murmuring of the billows, which responded to the footsteps of the governor, as he paced the east-rampart, and no other sound broke the silence of the hour. Her mind was in a pensive and romantic mood, and a thousand visionary ideas passed through it in fleet succession; her active fancy visited her native shades of Wooler Park, and recalled every circumstance, every scene of her youth. From contemplations like these, her mind reverted to the recent storm, the dangers she had passed, and the ride on the beach the preceding evening; yet even those subjects could not confine her thoughts, they strayed further, and the departure of her friends, the perils they would encounter in France, and the long and dreary months of approaching winter, uncheered by their society, all rose to her imagination—a tear insensibly fell on her cheek, and she felt a dejection of spirits which she could not help regarding as the anticipation of evil. Thus wrapt in meditation, she continued at the window near an hour, unmindful of the cold, though the chilling and humid dews of autumn and the saline damps moistened the air; at length she distinguished the light form of Camille, Lilburne’s favorite greyhound, bounding through the castle yard, and immediately after, Lilburne himself, and Ida appeared. Rosetta saw the latter enter the hall door, and the former join the earl, who still remained on the rampart; and anticipating in idea the substance of their conversation, she closed the casement, and descended to join her brother.
Lilburne’s motive in seeking this opportunity of conversing with the earl, certainly was to avow his passion for Rosetta, and to solicit the sanction and consent of her parent to his addresses; but when a few trifling monosyllables concerning the weather and the diversion he had been pursuing, were interchanged, he faltered and hesitated, and before he could frame the introductory sentence, the earl said— “To-morrow is the eve of St. Oswin, my dear Mitford, and I think you cannot take a better opportunity of preparing yourself for the distinction you are to receive; the prior himself will preside in the confessional chair in the morning, and you must present yourself in the church and confess your sins, that you may receive his holy absolution.”
“I believe I have few sins to confess, my lord,” returned Lilburne, after a moment’s hesitation— “I am not conscious of any crime.”
“But you must examine yourself, my dear Lilburne,” said the governor, laying his hand on the arm of his young friend, and addressing him with serious gravity, “You must examine yourself, for if you conceal any of your faults, you commit a great sin, and destroy the merit of your confession; for you can only purchase absolution by performing the penance which the church requires, and the priest cannot enjoin penance unless he is acquainted with the extent of your transgressions.”
Lilburne promised implicit obedience to the earl’s injunctions, and was again preparing to solicit his permission to address Rosetta, when they were joined by Major Shipperdson, who continued to converse with the governor so long, that Lilburne finding it impossible to introduce the subject that night, resolved to defer it until the feast of St. Oswin, which, he thought would be a fit opportunity to address the earl.
The next day, Lilburne, in compliance with the governor’s commands, presented himself at the grate of confession, and related the events of an almost blameless life. No act of penance was required, and of course absolution could not be withheld. He afterwards attended at mass in the church, and prepared to watch his arms there all night.
Mrs. Judith exclaimed bitterly against this part of the ceremony, but it could not be omitted; and when the last vespers were finished, the doors of the church were all fastened, and Lilburne left inclosed within its dreary walls. His heart was a stranger to fear of every kind, and he felt no more appalled at the idea of passing the night in the church of St. Oswin than in his own chamber. But Rosetta, though in general little inclined to adopt Mrs. Cresswell’s ominous forbodings, could not help feeling some degree of apprehension for her lover’s safety, nor could the ease and gaiety he displayed in a momentary interview, which he contrived previous to the commencement of his nocturnal vigil, wholly quiet her terrors.
In the course of the night, the earl received dispatches from court, requiring him within three days after receiving them, to embark with his troops for Calais.
“———Ye antique towers,
That crown the wat’ry glade.”
AT the hour of matins, the governor, deputy-governor, and officers of the garrison, together with the brethren of the monastery were summoned, by order of the prior, to be present at the ceremony of bestowing his benediction on Lilburne, and blessing his sword; all attended except father Vincent, who had been called in the night to visit a person in the neighbourhood, who, it was said, was seized with a sudden illness;—this was the wife of Guillaume de Villette, a Frenchman, who had been the confidential servant of the late governor, and, since the death of Sir Robert, had resided in a cottage on the sea banks.
When all were assembled, the procession moved on, while Mrs. Judith, Rosetta, Elfrida, and several other ladies, richly dressed, awaited their return, in the great hall of the governor’s house.
The church gates were opened by the porter of the convent, and the prior entered, followed by the governor, leaning on the arm of Major Shipperdson, then came Lord Ida, Oswald Clifford, and the rest of the officers; and the brethren of the monastery, two and two, closed the train. They proceeded to the middle of the church, but the candidate for knighthood advanced not to meet them. Something more than surprise was visibly painted on every countenance present, but how great was the general consternation, when the senior monk, by the prior’s order, pronounced aloud the name of Mitford Lilburne, and no voice responded to the call, no footstep approached, no being, but those who had entered in the procession appeared!—The arms remained on the spot where they had been deposited the preceding night, the sword only excepted—that had vanished with its owner, of whom not a vestige could be seen. To no purpose did they search every avenue, every corner, every recess of the edifice—in vain did the lofty roofs echo with loud repetitions of his name.—Lilburne, it was evident, had quitted the church, but why he had done so, or by what supernatural means, he had passed through doors and windows barred with the most scrupulous care, and which were all found in the state they had been left in the preceding evening, were deep and inexplicable mysteries; yet every one, as might be expected, declared the opinion they had formed, or at least that which they chose to avow.
The prior, bigotted and ignorant, or perhaps willing to encourage the popular superstitions of the times, expressed his conviction that Lilburne had been conveyed away by some invisible power, but whether good or evil, he did not take upon him to determine; but the monks went yet further, for each assigned a cause for the mysterious disappearance of the unfortunate youth. One supposed that the spirit of his deceased father had opened the gates and led him from the church, though for what purpose could not be ascertained. A second, concluded that the pupil of father Vincent, had purposely concealed some great offence, which ought to have been disclosed in his late confession; for which crime, he had been permitted to be punished by an evil angel. And, a third, pronounced that the ruin, which in consequence of the unatoned murder of father Ninian had hung suspended over the house of Lilburne, had fallen on the head of its youthful representative: this last was precisely the opinion of the governor himself, but not choosing to immediately avow it, he gave orders that a strict search should be made for Lilburne in every part of the castle; but such a command seemed needless, for the porter of the convent, a monk, whose simplicity, integrity, and irreproachable life, made him universally respected, declared solemnly, that the keys of the church had never been out of his possession. Shipperdson, with his wonted complaisant versatility, acquiesced in every opinion that was delivered; but hinted at the same time, that he thought it highly necessary father Vincent should be interrogated, as the absence of that holy father at such a time, on any pretence whatever, strongly excited suspicion; and this hint meeting the approbation of the prior, he commanded a messenger to be sent to Guillaume’s cottage, to summon father Vincent. Clifford, though in general little inclined to adopt the sentiments of Major Shipperdson, felt himself prompted by jealousy to almost believe that Lilburne had purposely withdrawn from the church of St. Oswin, with the intention of concealing himself somewhere in the neighbourhood, until after the earl’s departure, that he might remain at home, near his beloved Rosetta. Yet in the very moment that he formed this supposition, his heart smote him with a pang of compunction, for harbouring such an idea of the noble-minded and amiable youth, who on many occasions had been to him a firm and faithful friend. But the brave and open soul of Ida, detesting the dark, subtle, and intriguing character of Major Shipperdson, fixed on him alone the odium of Lilburne’s disappearance, and scarcely could he await the developement of this mysterious affair, or refrain from openly accusing the major of either having murdered or imprisoned his friend.
Soon, too soon, did the fatal tidings reach Rosetta, and in the first wild moments of agitation and distress, she almost betrayed the secret of her soul; but she remembered that Lilburne had breathed his love to her ear alone—that it was unsanctioned by, and unknown to her parent—and she felt the necessity of exerting the utmost efforts of her fortitude, and subduing her agonised feelings, lest any one should discover how dear to her heart was the lost, unfortunate youth.
Elfrida, however, easily perceived what her friend strove to conceal, and though such a discovery ought to have banished all jealousy from her mind, yet she had many strange, and even ridiculous fears; for but too conscious that Rosetta alone was the object of Clifford’s affections, she could not avoid feeling a dread, that (whatever might have caused Lilburne’s absence) he would avail himself of it, to soften the heart of Rosetta in his favor; yet she endeavoured to abstract her mind from all selfish considerations, and, like every other inmate of the castle, busied herself in forming conjectures; but after every possible investigation of the matter, her suspicions, and those of Rosetta, fell on the major, as those of Ida had already done. Not so, Mrs. Judith—she frankly acquitted the governor, deputy-governor, prior, monks, officers, soldiers, and all other corporeal beings whatsoever, of having any share in this eventful business, and laid the entire blame on the ghosts of Robert de Mowbray, father Ninian, and Sir Robert Lilburne!
“But it is just what I foretold,” she exclaimed— “if people will make themselves so familiar with ghosts, and pass their nights in the places where they haunt, they must expect dreadful consequences.”
The man who had been despatched to summon father Vincent, now returned, and brought a message to the prior, importing, that the holy father would shortly return to the convent; but hour after hour wore away, and no father Vincent appeared.
Meanwhile, the feast which was annually celebrated on St. Oswin’s day, at which the prior of the monastery and the governor of the garrison were always present, was served up. All the persons of distinction in the neighbourhood attended; and Rosetta, who in this season of suspense and anguish, would gladly have sought the solitude of her chamber, was compelled to entertain the ladies—to veil her bleeding heart, and to express only a common interest in the fate of Lilburne, though almost every word which was spoken concerning him struck daggers to her soul. Nor did Mrs. Judith, discomposed as she was, absent herself from the party; for in truth, she was by this time so much terrified with the idea of ghosts and enchantments, that she did not dare to remain by herself. Yet, though she associated with the company, she could support no conversation; and so much did she dwell on the subject of her fears, that her distracted imagination fancied a spirit approaching in every sound, every shadow, and almost every object.
The earl, most anxiously uneasy concerning his ward, was spiritless and dejected. His daughter, though she wore the outward appearance of composure, was visibly ill; and, in short, almost every one present was more or less affected by the sad catastrophe of the morning. The customary evening ball was of course declined; and most of the guests departing at an early hour, the governor and his family, Mr. Thornton and his daughter, Shipperdson, Clifford, and another officer were left together.
When the vesper bell rang, Mrs. Judith, who never missed the evening service, prepared to go, and desired Rosetta to accompany her; but fatigued with the efforts she had already made, she excused herself; and Elfrida offering to attend Mrs. Cresswell, she was about to retire to her own apartment, when Clifford, who had gone out to give some orders to the soldiers, hastily returned with the intelligence, that father Vincent was just then entering the church; and the earl, who greatly wished to converse with him, immediately rose to go thither. Shipperdson had a double motive for attending him, both to hear the replies of father Vincent to the questions of the prior, and to escort Elfrida; though that young lady always received his attentions with not only coldness, but marked contempt.
The other gentlemen were too much interested in the fate of Lilburne to stay away; and Rosetta, wishing, yet dreading, to hear the communications of father Vincent, resolved once more to exert her fortitude, and accompany them. When they reached the church, the service was already begun, and of course no time was then allowed to converse with father Vincent. Scarce could Rosetta sustain her fainting frame during vespers, but what was the surprise, the agitation, the tumult of her soul, when just as they were concluded, she beheld Lilburne himself enter the church. For a moment her feelings were awake only to joy, but the appearance of Lilburne was little calculated to excite it. A deep expression of distress, of anguish, nay of agony, was pictured on his countenance—his face, on which Rosetta had been wont to contemplate the glow of health and cheerfulness, was pale and ghastly—his fine eyes, which but two days before, at that very hour, had beamed with animation with energy, with the most fervent love, were now fixed on the object of that love with a look of indescribable horror—and his habit, the same he had worn the preceding evening, was neglected; disordered, and stained in many places with blood.
The audience, struck with mute astonishment, maintained a profound silence, while Lilburne advanced to the altar, where stood the superior, surrounded by his monks. Father Vincent immediately stepping forward, took the hand of his young friend, and addressed himself to the prior, in the following words, spoken in a solemn and audible voice— “Holy father, I demand, in the name of this youth, that the ceremony which has been interrupted by his absence, may now proceed.”
In a haughty tone, the superior replied, “By deserting his arms in this sacred place, he has forfeited all claim to the dignity which was meant to be conferred on him; and I shall suspend all further proceedings until I am fully informed of both the cause of that desertion, and the means by which he passed these walls.”
“I repeat my demand,” said father Vincent, in a tone, and with a look which evidently conveyed some very particular meaning to the prior—he certainly understood it, for his countenance instantly changed, and with a faltering voice, he said to Lilburne, “Approach, my son, and place your sword on the altar.”
Lilburne obeyed, but trembled in agony. He did indeed place his sword upon the altar; but in the very moment that the prior stretched forth his hand to take it from thence, the youth snatched it away with a look of frenzy, and exclaimed with distracted and incoherent wildness, “Oh! never, never! my guilty hand shall not, must not pollute this holy place, with the accursed weapon, stained in the blood of my—.”
“Beware what you say, rash young man,” cried father Vincent, in a voice, and with a look, to which it is impossible to do justice by description— “If you accuse yourself of guilt, you will augment it tenfold, by a discovery which involves every thing dear and sacred?—Will you blast the memory of your parent?—Will you insure the death, the violent death of an unfortunate being, who, it is possible, may yet live?—Will you destroy a wretched mother, already worn down with many sorrows, and who now lives but in her child?—Remember, Mitford, that your crime, whatever may be its consequences, was an involuntary one—and, remember also, that the expedition to France is the only means by which you can possibly atone for it.—You must not linger in Northumberland—the governor departs on the morrow, and you must accompany him. Approach then, my son, place your sword again on the altar, receive the blessing of our holy father, and comply with every rite of the church, that you may be prepared for the distinction with which his lordship means to honor you.”
“Oh! no, no,” cried Lilburne, in a tone of desponding anguish, “I cannot conform to the rites of the church, I am not worthy to approach its altars.—I will attend you to France, my lord,” added he addressing the governor, “and I implore you to permit the ceremony to be deferred until—”
Here he broke off the sentence with a start of horror, and glancing on Rosetta another look of wild agony, he rushed out of the church.
“Poor unfortunate young man,” said father Vincent, as his pupil passed out at the portal; “the crime of another has drawn down misery on thy head!”
The greater part of the audience cast the glance of inquiring wonder on the monk; but the prior, it was evident, was awed to silence, and did not ask a single question. However, the earl at length ventured to hint his wish for information, and father Vincent immediately replied, “My lord, it pains me to withhold any secret from you; but I cannot, at present, disclose the least circumstance of this affair, as by so doing, I should violate the most sacred obligations, and insure the very miseries which I am trying to avert; but when the moment arrives in which I can speak openly, you, my lord, and you, holy father,” added he, turning to the prior, “shall know all.”
With these words father Vincent quitted the church; while the visage of the prior lowered with sullen discontent, and those of Shipperdson and the monks expressed the sneer of disappointed malignity.
The governor and his party now returned home, whither Rosetta, agitated and distressed, could scarce support her trembling frame, with the assistance of Elfrida’s arm. The first inquiry of the earl, on reaching his house, was for Mitford Lilburne; but with augmented surprise and concern, he learned that he had never been there, and that none of the servants had seen him.
Rosetta no longer able to conceal her anguish, buried it in the solitude of her own chamber; while Ida, anxiously uneasy for the safety of his friend, wandered every where in search of him.
Miss Thornton returned home with her father, attended by Clifford. Shipperdson and the other officer retired to their apartments; and the earl and Mrs. Judith were left to themselves; the latter, now more disgusted and terrified than ever with Tynemouth Castle, had all day been importuning her kinsman to permit her and Rosetta to retire to Wooler Park, and reside there during his absence, and she took this opportunity of renewing the subject. But the earl was deaf to all she could urge; for he thought his child could be no where so safe as with the monks of St. Oswin. Besides, such was the reliance he placed on the friendship and honor of Shipperdson, that he felt no repugnance to leaving Mrs. Cresswell and Rosetta under his protection; and indeed he had nothing to fear, for the major seldom bestowed a thought on either beyond the present moment.
Meanwhile, Rosetta in the pensive solitude of her own apartment, sat revolving in mind the strange occurrences of this eventful day, and busying herself with wild conjectures, few of which wore the least shadow of probability. From these distressing contemplations, she was roused by the entrance of her maid, who came to summon her to supper, and brought the intelligence that Lord Ida had returned from his unsuccessful search. Rosetta excused herself from going down, and dismissing her attendant, again resigned herself to the full indulgence of her agonized feelings.
Clifford passed the evening with Mr. Thornton and Elfrida, and their conversation naturally turning on the wonderful events of the day, the interesting subject detained them in discourse so long, that the great clock of the monastery tolled eleven, the usual hour of closing the gates, soon after the young officer had taken leave of his friends.
Mr. Thornton’s house was situated at a very short distance from the castle. The night was calm, still, and pleasant; the moon shone with more than usual brightness; and Clifford quickened his pace, in the hope of reaching the bridge before it was drawn up. He had arrived within a few yards of the outworks, when he perceived the tall figure of a man, much muffled up, hastily approaching from the road which leads to the left; his eyes were fixed on the ground, and he did not see Clifford, who, somewhat surprised, retreated a few paces to observe him. Meanwhile, the stranger advanced to the first gate, and speaking in a low voice to the sentinel, was about to enter; when Clifford, recognising the form and air of Lilburne, sprang forward. The sound of his steps alarmed Lilburne—he looked up, and beholding his friend, instantly started away, and attempted to retrace the path he had just passed; but Clifford following, seized his arm.
“Lilburne, my friend,” he exclaimed, “why do you fly me thus? Speak to me, I conjure you—come let us enter the gate together.”
“Unhand me, sir!” returned Lilburne, in a voice of anger, at the same time making a violent effort to disengage himself.
“Oh! Mitford, how have I deserved this?” cried Clifford, in a mournful voice, at the same time quitting his hold. But in the very moment that he spoke, his heart smote him; for conscience reflected the suspicions he had formed in the morning—that Lilburne had purposely withdrawn himself from the church, that he might conceal himself, and remain at home near Rosetta; suspicions, which the scene at vespers had clearly proved were founded only in jealousy; and in that direful passion, the present behaviour of Lilburne to Clifford certainly originated. His heart was torn by a sorrow, an anguish, for which he had but too much reason. He was on the very point of quitting his country, with scarcely the most faint hope of ever returning to it, or beholding Rosetta more. Clifford, he well knew, loved her with the most ardent affection; and he could not help reflecting on the possibility, the probability, that he was destined to be her happy husband; while himself, should wander a cheerless exile, or wear out the sad remains of his life in some lonely cell—yet the native candor and nobleness of his mind reproached him for dashing away the hand of friendship, and repelling the voice of sympathy. He walked aside for a few moments to collect his scattered ideas and calm the feelings of his agonized soul; and then following Clifford, who had turned away, (hurt by his frigid and repelling manner,) and presenting his hand, he exclaimed,— “Forgive me, Clifford, I scarce know what I say—my heart is almost broken, and I am neither master of myself nor my actions.”
Clifford took the offered hand, and drawing it under his arm, they passed the gate, and crossed the bridge in silence, interrupted only by the deep breathing of Lilburne’s stifled groans, and the moment they entered the castle-yard, he faintly articulated, “Good night,” and made an effort to go, but Clifford, alarmed by the wild distraction of his manner, forcibly detained his arm, saying at the same time, “You shall not, must not, leave me thus.—Oh! Lilburne, you are distressed and unhappy, why, why will you refuse me your confidence?”
“Confidence! Oh gracious heaven!” groaned Lilburne: then with assumed composure, he added, “I will not detain you from your rest, I shall—probably I shall see you in the morning, good night! good night!”
“Lilburne, you shall not go, until you are more composed. Whither are you hurrying thus?”
“I am going home,” returned Lilburne. “I see your fears, but they are needless. Oh! Clifford, can you suppose I mean to injure myself?”
“The family is retired to rest,” said Clifford; “there are no lights in the windows, you shall share my bed tonight.”
“My servant will sit up for me,” replied Lilburne; “he will admit me; but I must first see father Vincent.”
“I will accompany you to the door of his cell,” rejoined the young officer— “you will not refuse my company,” he added, with assumed cheerfulness, “for I should think you unfriendly indeed, if you left me alone at such an hour.”
Lilburne stood a few moments silent, and as the moonbeams fell on his countenance, Clifford read there the workings of his agonized soul; at length, grasping the hand of his friend, he exclaimed— “Oh! Clifford, why would you wish me with you?—is it not your interest to wish me gone for ever?—are we not rivals?—you love Rosetta de Norton!”
This address so sudden, so unexpected, for a time took from Clifford all power of reply. But when he had recalled his scattered ideas, he said, with assumed gaiety, “My rivalship ought to give you little uneasiness, for Lady Rosetta will not bestow a thought on me—you alone—”
“But you love her,” interrupted Lilburne, with vehement agony; “and when I am a wandering exile, you will attempt to gain that heart, which I hoped to claim at my return—but why do I repine?” added he, again starting to wild frenzy. “Will not the consequences of my own guilt banish me for ever from Rosetta, and from my country? “Oh! Clifford, may you be happy,”—and he was rushing away, when Clifford, wholly subdued by the deplorable situation in which he beheld the man he so fondly esteemed, once more seized his arm, and exclaimed in a tone which admitted of no denial, “Stay one moment, I conjure you, Lilburne, and hear what I have to say.”
All the gates were now fastened, and every being in the garrison, themselves and the soldiers on duty excepted, had retired to rest. Clifford led his friend to the north rampart, the most private and retired part of the castle, where no sound broke the silence of the night but the low murmur of the waves, as they dashed against the bases of the rocks; and there taking his hand between his own, he addressed him in the following words— “Sir, whatever may have caused the anguish, which with sincere regret I see you endure, be assured, that no act, no intention of mine shall augment it; and here, in the face of heaven, I solemnly swear to abjure for ever all hope, all expectation, all—,” wish, he would have added, but the last word died on his faltering lips, “of ever being united to Rosetta de Norton. And, now my friend,” he continued, “can further assurance of mine contribute to make you easy?”
“Oh! Clifford, generous Clifford!” cried Lilburne, grasping his hand, “would to heaven I could repay your noble, your exalted friendship with my whole confidence—yet every secret of my heart, that I dare disclose, you shall know.” He then took his arm, and traversing the rampart together, Lilburne related to his friend all that had ever passed between Rosetta and himself on the subject of his love—the consent she had given to his proposed application to her father, and the trivial incidents by which that application had been delayed— “But now,” added he, in a tone expressive of the deepest anguish, “now all application is needless, for I cannot, I dare not hope ever to behold Rosetta more.”
A momentary pause of silence now ensued, and then Lilburne resumed. “Oh! Clifford, Clifford, I have committed a deed, the dreadful consequences of which still hang in suspense. Oh! that I might open my whole soul to you, but that cannot be; you heard what father Vincent said to-night—at all events I must go to France; and if fatal consequences shall follow my undesigned crime, I am cut off for ever from peace, from happiness, and from my country; and must devote my days to penitence, in some foreign monastery.”
“No, no! my dear Lilburne,” interrupted Clifford, “I trust that no fatal consequences will ensue; and that I shall see you return in safety, to enjoy the happiness you merit. But at all events, if your crime, as you too harshly term it, was an undesigned one why should any consequences that may result from it deprive you of peace? Heaven, you know, my dear Mitford, attaches punishment only to wilful guilt; why then would you throw away your happiness for what could not be avoided, and what cannot be remedied?”
“Alas! alas! though I can acquit myself of premeditated guilt, I cannot of inconsiderate rashness,” returned Lilburne, whose eyes were fixed with a gaze of wild horror on some object to the north of the castle; though what that object was Clifford could not conjecture; “but should that happen which I dread,” added he, “I never can return to society; I should draw down vengeance on all connected with me, and bring a curse, a heavy curse on my posterity—no Clifford, if I am doomed to misery, the oath you have just taken is absolved—and may Rosetta be yours.”
The last words were spoken in a faint voice; but Clifford instantly, and firmly replied, “No Lilburne! no! my vow is unconditional, and here I renew it—Rosetta never can be mine.”
Before Lilburne could reply, the bell tolled for midnight prayers, and the monks passing from the cloisters to the oratory of St. Mary, the friends retired to a distant part of the rampart to escape observation.
Lilburne then said, “I must now go to father Vincent’s cell, and wait there until he returns from chapel.”
“But you will come back and sleep with me?” said Clifford.
“No, my friend, you will excuse me,” said Lilburne, with a deep sigh. “I shall pass the remainder of the night with father Vincent, for I have much to say to him, and I must leave the castle the moment the gates are open in the morning. I cannot bear to see, or take leave of any one here; and I shall embark in a boat previous to the earl’s departure, and join him at sea.”
“You certainly will not depart without seeing Rosetta?” said Clifford— “surely you will bid her adieu?”
“No,” returned Lilburne, with an anguished groan, “I could not support the agony of such a parting; to the goodness and friendship of father Vincent I must commit the dreadful task of preparing her for our everlasting separation, if it is the will of fate—should the event which I anticipate, with shuddering horror, take place, the holy father will tell you that my misery is sealed; and should heaven in its mercy avert it, he will, I trust, acquaint you with the whole. And then, my Clifford, far from wondering at the state of anguish and distraction in which you have beheld your poor friend, you will rather be surprised how, at this moment, he could talk and act thus calmly. Oh! would to heaven I could recal the hour in which I entered the church of St. Oswin—but, alas! that is impossible. I wish the expedition to France could have been delayed for a few days, for then, probably, my suspense would have been ended; but that cannot now be done. Oh! Clifford, Clifford!” continued he, grasping his hand in wild agony, “to your friendship and protection I commit my adored Rosetta, save her, guard her, shield her from every danger—and let every word I have breathed to you to-night, be buried deep in your own breast.”
Clifford replied, “They shall descend with me to the grave. And now receive my solemn assurance, that, whatever events may happen, I shall ever consider Lady Rosetta as the wife of my friend, and hold myself bound to risk my life in her service and defence.”
Lilburne folded him to his heart, and exclaimed— “Farewell, Clifford, my noble, my ever beloved friend, farewell! may the Almighty grant that I may one day embrace thee under happier circumstances!”
He then rushed down the declivity, and disappeared amongst the cloisters. Clifford watched his receding form until it was no longer visible, and then turned his pensive steps to his own apartment. He retired to his solitary couch, but rest was no longer there—he had just resigned Rosetta for ever—had beheld the friend for whose sake that resignation was made, suffering under the keenest anguish, without being able to mitigate it—and had parted from him too, probably, never to meet again. Yet he endeavoured to calm his agitated spirits, with the reflection, that he had done what he considered his duty; and while he strove to banish the image of Rosetta from his heart, he fervently prayed for such a degree of fortitude, as might enable him to fulfil every promise he had made.
The unhappy Lilburne passed the intervening hours in close consultation with father Vincent, and left the castle of Tynemouth with the first faint beam of the morning.
Father Vincent visited the governor’s house about eight o’clock, and found the earl and his son suffering the greatest inquietude on Lilburne’s account; for they knew not that he had returned to the castle the preceding night, and quitted it early in the morning. But when the monk informed them of both these circumstances, and added that Lilburne did not mean to return, but would join them at sea, Ida did not hesitate to openly express his astonishment, and father Vincent replied, “My son, I cannot wonder that you are thus surprised—this is indeed a strange and mysterious affair, and I fear will be a most melancholy one to our unfortunate young friend. I have now to entreat, that you will never drop the least hint on the subject to Lilburne: the very mention of it, at present, drives him almost to distraction; but when affairs shall have attained such a crisis as may enable him to speak openly, he will have no concealments from his friends.”
The earl and Lord Ida gave the desired assurance, and after some further conversation, went out to superintend the embarkation of the troops.
Mrs. Cresswell was gone to bathe, as was her usual morning custom; and father Vincent left to himself, sent a message which brought Rosette to the parlour.—Oh! what were her feelings, on finding that Lilburne had left Tynemouth, without breathing a sigh, one tender adieu, one vow of love and constancy. The tears gushed from her lovely eyes, in despite of her utmost efforts to restrain them, and clasping her hands, she exclaimed, “Oh! my father, has Lilburne then left England for ever?”
Father Vincent had little consolation to offer his fair pupil. He could not inspire her with confidence, he dared not bid her hope; for he was conscious that Lilburne was gone, too probably, never more to return: he had only the cold and cheerless precepts of philosophy to pour into her wounded and suffering heart; yet he exhorted her to exert her fortitude in the trying hour of separation from her parent; and counselled her, that as the earl was unacquainted with the attachment which subsisted between Lilburne and herself, he should be permitted to still remain ignorant of it; as such a discovery at present would serve only to distress him.
Rosetta placed the firmest reliance on the wisdom, goodness, and friendship of her preceptor; she promised to be guided by his instructions; and though her bosom was lacerated by the most poignant anguish, she endeavoured to call forth the utmost energy and strength of her soul, and to bid adieu to her parent and brother, with at least the appearance of composure.
The embarkation of the troops was completed by one o’clock—in two hours the tide would serve to take them out to sea. The earl, accompanied by Ida, now returned to the castle, to embrace his Rosetta, receive the blessing of the prior, and give his last orders to the deputy-governor.
All these, together with Mrs. Cresswell and father Vincent, were assembled in the hall; where the earl, after finishing his military directions and kneeling to the superior, saluted and took leave of Mrs. Judith; and then clasping Rosetta to his parental bosom, he exclaimed,— “Farewell! my beloved child—may the Almighty shield and bless you!—and if heaven permits my return to England, may I find my darling safe and happy!”
He then fervently recommended her to the protection of the prior, father Vincent, and Major Shipperdson; while Ida, the noble minded Ida, conscious that he had injured the deputy-governor by unjust suspicions concerning Mitford Lilburne, felt his heart softened in his favor, and tacitly saw his lovely sister resigned to his care; but while she hung weeping on his neck, he whispered, “Trust me, my Rosetta, Lilburne will return safe—I believe he is now the dupe of priestcraft; but I will bring him to himself when we get to France.”
Then disengaging himself from her arms, he followed his father, who had already quitted the hall, which the further they receded from, it resounded the more with the lamentations, prayers, blessings, and forebodings of Mrs. Judith.
“And when my wand’ring days are fled,
I’ll seek again my native stream;
If kind affection be not dead:
And fancy yield no pleasing dream!”
THE unsuccessful siege of Boulogne, and the subsequent peace between England and France, have frequently been the subjects of the historian, and need not be detailed here. When the treaty was finished, the earl had thoughts of returning to England and resuming his government; but Ida, disappointed by the speedy termination of the war, in which he had hoped to reap early laurels, could not settle his mind to the idea of so soon re-visiting his native country, and solicited his father’s permission to make the tour of France.
Lilburne, it was evident, still continued a prey to the most corroding anguish; he exerted himself indeed in the discharge of his military duties, but he sedulously shunned all intercourse with the officers of the army, and even seldom associated with the earl and his son. The letters he received from England, alone seemed to possess the power of rousing him from the lethargy of despondence in which he was plunged. Whenever the time of their arrival approached, he watched for them with the most anxious solicitude; but they afforded him no permanent relief; for no sooner were they read, than he relapsed into all his former gloom. When, however, Ida mentioned his intended tour, Lilburne hinted a desire of accompanying him; and the earl, cheerfully, according to their wishes, obtained permission of his royal master, to remain some time longer in France, that he might himself accompany them to Paris, and superintend their conduct during their residence in that gay city.
Yet Wooler had nothing to apprehend from the introduction of these young men into the world. Pleasure, however varied and alluring its forms, could not penetrate the veil of abstraction which enveloped Lilburne; while Ida in all his pursuits, possessed the rare and happy faculty of knowing when to stop.—But the legislator who frames laws; the magistrate, in whom is vested the power of putting then in execution; and the soldier, whose duty it is to defend them—are sometimes their gross violators; and thus it was with the earl himself, for while he was cautioning his young friends to avoid the temptations of Paris, and guard against the seductive influence of the French ladies, himself became a complete dupe to the most artful of her sex.
Our travellers received many polite attentions from the Duke de la Var, at whose hotel they were introduced to the Countess de Montmiril, the intimate friend of the duchess. Madame de Montmiril was the handsomest and the gayest woman in Paris. But as two very different accounts were given of this lady, it may be proper to transcribe both.
“My friend,” said the Duchess de la Var, in answer to some indirect inquiries made by the Earl of Wooler,— “is now in her twenty-ninth year, she is descended from a noble family in Italy, and early in life was married—I ought to say sacrificed to the Count de Montmiril. Soon, too soon, did my dear Narcisse behold the hopes of her youth blasted, and the fair prospects of life fading away! Ah! my lord, she had bestowed her lovely person and immense property on a man, who neglected the one, and dissipated the other!”
“Here the duchess entered on a long detail of the infidelity, worthlessness, and extravagance of the deceased count and then proceeded— “But though the sensible heart of my friend keenly felt its unmerited injuries, conscious innocence enabled her to bear them; while her exalted virtue preserved her from practising what most wives in her situation would have had recourse to—retaliation. Death,” she added, “dissolved this ill-fated connection about two years since, and the countess has not made a second choice, which I think is much to be lamented; for her beauty, fine understanding, and sweet disposition, would confer supreme felicity on the happy mortal to whose lot they should fall. I have sometimes ventured to hint my wish of seeing her happy in another election; but I find she has made a vow, never to give her hand to a Frenchman; and, partial as I am to my countrymen, I cannot blame such a resolution, when I consider what she suffered in her union with the count.”
Such was the information, for which the earl’s acknowledgments were paid to the duchess, nor could he be otherwise than captivated with a lady so amiable, so lovely, and so injured.
But widely different was the account which Ida received from the Chevalier de Balsac, a lively French officer, who was well acquainted with every event of the countess’ life during the last ten years.— “Madame de Montmiril,” said the chevalier, “is only six years more than twenty-nine; and I should do her the highest injustice, if I did not acknowledge that she is at once graceful as Juno, and as lively as you. After losing her character in Italy she gained a husband in France. Montmiril was a simple, easy, good-tempered fellow, and the lady found it no difficult matter to convert the fervent admirer into the passive dupe. Their summers were passed at the countess’ villa, three leagues from Milan; their winters at Paris; and between the two places they soon dissipated the whole of the count’s fortune, and as much of madame’s as was not settled on herself.—And now,” continued the chevalier, dropping the tone of levity in which he had hitherto spoken, “it grieves me to relate the cause of poor Montmiril’s death, for though a weak, he was really a worthy man. I know it was given out that he was murdered by robbers in the gardens of his Italian villa, but the truth is, he died in consequence of a wound which he received in a rencounter with a favourite gallant of the countess.”
Ida could not doubt the veracity of de Balsac, who had been intimate with Montmiril, and who he knew was little disposed to exaggerate facts to the prejudice of any one; but he felt himself deeply pained by the account he gave him, for every succeeding day served to strengthen the suspicion, that his father intended to confer on Madame de Montmiril the title of Countess of Wooler.—Nor was the countess herself either slow to perceive, or backward to profit by the ascendency she had gained over Wooler’s worthy heart; he was a daily visitor at the hotel de la Var, where Madame de Montmiril almost constantly resided; and the duchess was too polite, too considerate, and too anxious to promote her friend’s happiness to either interrupt their têtes à têtes herself, or permit the intrusion of others. These frequent interviews of course produced long conversations, some of which naturally reverted to the family and native country of the earl, and when he talked of his beloved Rosetta, the soft sigh of parental solicitude was reverberated from the gentle bosom of Madame de Montmiril.
“Ah! my lord,” she exclaimed, “how happy should I be to embrace your charming daughter, and cultivate an interest in her invaluable esteem; for I am prepared to love her by both your lordship’s description, and the lovely miniature which is in your son’s possession.”
This miniature was constantly worn by Ida, and had at his father’s request been exhibited to Madame de Montmiril, who instantly and repeatedly noticed the extreme resemblance she thought it bore to the earl; and consequently the term lovely, which was now so unequivocally bestowed upon it by the rosy lips of madame, could not sound otherwise than highly pleasing on his enamoured ear; not less so indeed, than was his reply to that of the countess; “Consent then, most charming of women, to honor England and Rosetta with your presence.”
The downcast look, the sweet confusion, the heaving sigh, and the languishing smile, were all necessary, and all practised on this occasion; and lastly, the evasive answer, meant to draw forth a still more explicit proposal, was given in the following words, “Yes, my lord, I do indeed wish to behold your island, and no part of it more than the castle of Tynemouth; but I fear it will be long before it is in my power to accept your obliging invitation, and have the felicity of being introduced to your amiable Rosetta; for my dear duchess cannot leave Paris, and I do not know another lady with whom I could be happy as a travelling companion.”
“Confer then that honour on your adoring Wooler, divine, angelic Narcisse; deign to accept his hand and heart, and permit him to conduct you to England, and happiness!”
It is almost needless to say, that after the hesitation and confusion indispensible on such an occasion, the proposal was accepted; and when the consequent raptures of the happy lover had in some degree subsided, the hour which was to complete his felicity was fixed at no great distance.
The following morning when breakfast was ended, Lilburne retired as usual to his own room; and the earl being left alone with his son, after a short silence spoke of the route the young men were to pursue on their tour through France. And then, reverting to his own design of soon returning to England, he added, with a smile, “And it is my intention to carry home with me a mother for my children.”
Though Ida was but too well prepared for this information, he regarded his father with a look of incredulity, and said, “Am I to believe you in earnest, my lord, surely you do but banter me?”
The earl’s reply confirmed the worst apprehensions of his son, by informing him, that Madame de Montmiril was to become Countess of Wooler in a few days.
“Good heaven! my lord!” he exclaimed, “have you considered! A woman destitute alike of principle and character—” and he repeated what de Balsac had told him, concealing, however, the name of his informant.
The eyes of Wooler flashed with a degree of rage that Ida had never before seen in them— “It is an accursed falsehood!” he cried, “I insist on knowing from whom you had this infamous tale; the honor of Madame de Montmiril is now mine; it is at once my duty and pleasure to defend her from every vile aspersion, and I will make the villain retract his slanders, or punish him with my sword.”
“If such are your lordship’s determinations,” returned Ida, “I should act a most unjustifiable part, by giving up to your resentment, a person, who, from the purest motives of friendship, warned me against that artful and dangerous woman, who has but too successfully imposed upon you: and pardon me, my lord, if I so far infringe on the respect I owe my father as to hint, that with a daughter arrived at my sister’s age, and a housekeeper so careful of your interest as Mrs. Cresswell certainly is, the world will be apt to censure you, for introducing Madame de Montmiril into your family.”
The visage of the earl glowed with augmented rage; and in a voice of fury he exclaimed, “Insolent boy!—do you dare to brave me with the world’s censure? quit my presence, and remember that you approach me no more, until you are prepared to pay to Madame de Montmiril that duty and respect, which, as my wife, she will have a right to demand from my children.”
Poor Ida, finding that his arguments were wholly without effect, willingly obeyed the order of departure, and went in search of Lilburne, to communicate to him the unpleasant intelligence of the approaching marriage. On Rosetta’s account, Lilburne felt the deepest concern at such an event, and joined Ida in severely blaming the earl; but as he had for some time been prepared to expect it, and could not assume the privilege of remonstrating with his guardian, he soon ceased to comment upon it, and relapsed into his accustomed gloomy abstraction; indeed, these fits were now so long and frequent, and his general behaviour so strange, that Ida was almost inclined to suspect his friend’s mind to be disordered. Whenever the time came at which he might look for letters from England, he could watch their arrival whole nights together, nor could any entreaties prevail on him to seek repose. The slightest mention of Tynemouth, or of any circumstances that had formerly passed there, seemed to excite in him the most poignant anguish; and whenever the sanguine mind of Ida formed some plan of future happiness, the dejected Lilburne invariably exclaimed, “May every felicity be yours, my friend; but for me, my sad prospects terminate at some obscure convent in Italy, where I must wear out my wretched life in mortification and penance.”
Ida next unburthened his full heart, in a letter to his sister, and though he did not say all he knew, all he believed, and all he feared, concerning their parent-elect, he hinted enough to convince Rosetta, that the object of their father’s choice would neither bring honor nor happiness into the bosom of the family she was entering.
Where rising cliffs, and rocks extensive spread
Along the coast, majestic, at the last,
The ancient abbey lifts its ruin’d head;
And braves the power of winter’s wasting blast:
Below, the German ocean, wide and vast,
Pours its full tide; and from the neighb’ring cave,
Responsive echo sounds; and sail-clad mast
Of vessel gliding o’er the placid wave,
Thro’ ether’s blue expanse seems the slow way to lave.”
DREARY indeed were the long months of winter at the castle of Tynemouth, and Rosetta thought their heavy hours the most cheerless she had ever known. No tender parent was now there to embrace and bless her at the hour of rest, and to greet her in the morning with a smile that at once spoke approbation, and promised protection—no dear brother to share those trivial cares and anxieties which his participation could always lessen, and his soothing voice often remove—and, no Mitford Lilburne, to give an unspeakable charm to every scene: while he was an inmate of the governor’s house
“————————The desart smil’d,
And Paradise was open’d in the wild.”
But now the enchantment was dissolved, and the magic of Lilburne’s presence would never again revive it. While she lamented the absence of her father and Ida, she could beguile the present and illumine the future with an ardent hope of their safe return, and a firm assurance of their unabated affection; but her lover—she never expected to behold more; she had not received either letter of or message from Lilburne since his departure. Ida, when he wrote, scarcely mentioned him, and father Vincent never uttered his name. The conversation of that amiable monk, ever mild, sensible, and instructive, was now the chief—indeed almost the only pleasure Rosetta knew, yet she could seldom obtain it. Religious duties, literary avocations, and visits of charity to the sick and afflicted, employed the greatest part of his time; and either the last mentioned pious office was considered enlarged, or some other cause occupied much of his attention, for it was reported amongst the brethren, that those hours which father Vincent had once dedicated to mediation in his cell, were now passed elsewhere; but whither he went, or when he returned no one could ascertain; though many conjectures were formed on the subject. However, he continued to give Rosetta the accustomed instructions, and she accompanied him as usual on those errands of mercy, when this venerable minister of peace restored the rose of health and the glow of contentment, to the cheek hollowed with want, and blasted by disease—when he soothed the tortured form racked on the bed of pain—and, when he poured into the penitent soul the divine doctrines of atonement and redemption. And, oh! while Rosetta attended like a ministering angel—while she supported drooping age with the reviving cordial—strengthened infant weakness with wholesome viands—and supported the expiring head which was raised from the pillow of death, to embrace the cross—while the children of poverty blessed her footsteps—and the sons and daughters of affliction implored the divine benediction on her head, she felt a source of comfort within herself, to which she could turn and find consolation, whenever the loss of her lover, and the absence of her dear relations pressed heavy at her heart. Few indeed of the occupations that once pleased her, now retained the power of beguiling the heavy hours; though she might have pursued the exercise of riding on the sands even during the rigors of winter; she now derived no pleasure from it; for could she traverse the beach, without tracing in tears the idea of the beloved companions whose remembrance was forcibly recalled by every surrounding object? Her books could afford her no abstraction; her pencil, when meant to sketch the landscape, unconsciously traced the well-known features of Ida and Lilburne, and her harp could only reverberate the trembling cadence of sorrow. Neither could find in society, that relief, which her other occupations failed to afford her. Elfrida Thornton was her frequent guest, but she was so woe-begone, so dejected, so perpetually occupied with the idea of Clifford, and with efforts to conceal her unfortunate attachment, that Rosetta found her company only augmented the weight on her own spirits. She was, it is true, ever gentle, tender, and affectionate; but while Rosetta at once admired and pitied her extreme sensibility, she could not avoid blaming the weakness that nourished a passion, which it was evident, was unreturned, and which certainly would never receive the sanction of her father; for Clifford, however deserving, could only be considered as the child of his bounty; having almost from infancy owed to Mr. Thornton both education and the very means of subsistence.
Yet however highly Rosetta censured her friend’s conduct, she felt herself actually precluded from remonstrating on the subject, for she had uniformly discouraged any hints which Elfrida seemed disposed to drop concerning her attachment to Clifford; being well convinced, that if she accepted Miss Thornton’s confidence that young lady, far from being benefited by any admonitions that Rosetta’s friendship might induce her to give, would make Clifford the perpetual theme of their private conversations, and thus rivet an image on her heart, which ought to be expelled from thence by every exertion of reason and fortitude.
Clifford, faithful to the promise he had made to Lilburne, unceasingly combated his own unfortunate passion, he scarce ever paid his compliments at the governor’s house; nor trusted himself to behold Rosetta, except when a short cessation of the wintry storm invited her rambles amongst the rocks and then he felt himself bound by the same sacred promise to attend her steps—and to shield her from open or hidden danger. To know that Clifford was the companion of these walks, was a sufficient inducement for Elfrida to share them with her friend; and though Rosetta would have infinitely preferred to wander pensive and alone, she could not decline their society; though the misery she saw them endure augmented that of her own suffering breast; silent and cheerless then were these melancholy rambles on the sea-shore, and though the tenderest affection cemented them all three to each other, yet there were motives which precluded conversation, and produced silence which was scarce ever broken by any of them.
Rosetta highly esteemed Clifford, both for his own merits, and as the beloved friend of her brother and Lilburne; but she plainly saw the partiality he felt for herself; and, ignorant of the solemn vow he had made to her lover, she had recourse of a degree of reserve in her manner towards him, which, however repugnant to her feelings, she felt herself justified in adopting rather than give the slightest shadow of encouragement to a passion that must ever be hopeless.
The never-failing efforts of Clifford were certainly directed to fulfil the engagement he had made to Lilburne, and when absent from Rosetta, he flattered himself that he had gained a victory over his heart; but in her presence the vanquished traitor always rebelled. Wholly unconscious of the preference with which Elfrida honored him, he regarded her only as a beloved sister; but every trifling sentence that breathed from the lovely lips of Rosetta was melody to his soul, and every sigh which the remembrance of Lilburne drew from her bosom, was reverberated by the agonized Clifford.—Elfrida, the pensive slave of love and jealousy, silently beheld all this, and alternately feared and pitied her lovely but unhappy rival. And thus these amiable devoted victims, with hearts lacerated by the most painful and conflicting emotions, would frequently wander together a mile from home, and return to it again without enterchanging three sentences.
Shipperdson, sanctioned by the trust which the earl reposed in him, frequently visited the ladies, and met a polite reception from Mrs. Cresswell; but his presence was always disagreeable to Rosetta: though to do him justice, she could not accuse him of having in any instance, behaved to her otherwise than with the most respectful politeness.
Mrs. Cresswell, ever the slave of superstition, was perpetually diving into futurity; and now that her residence in a place she disliked, and the absence of her kinsman had diffused a degree of melancholy over her mind, all her predictions and prognostics were tinctured with a sombre shade. Time was, when the admiring circle assembled round her breakfast table, were edified by interpretations of happy dreams—about fire, the infallible type of love—and veal, which always foretold good fortune—when those who had the honor to accompany her on the noon day walk, were charmed by the certain forerunners of luck, which appeared in the shapes of four-leaved clover, hairy worms, and perforated pebbles; and when the smiling party seated by the evening fire, were instructed to observe the purse that bounded from it and the ring which adorned the candle; but those days of tranquillity were now no more—and Mrs. Judith dreamed only of roast beef, the unerring harbinger of disappointment; while her path was perpetually crossed by intrusive pigs; and coffins, instead of purses, issued from the fire.
However free from superstition the mind of Rosetta might be, yet the depression of her spirits was insensibly augmented by the conversation of this antiquated sybil; and thus excluded on all sides from finding comfort in the society which surrounded her, she passed the chief part of her melancholy hours in her own apartment, listening to the deep-toned sounds of the wintry elements, and watching the desolating tempest fermenting in the loaded sky. Impressed with awful astonishment, she beheld the extensive waters of the German sea, agitated by the mighty north-east hurricane, the billows urged onwards by its irresistible force, and bursting with tremendous noise on the rocky shore, from whence they rebounded with such fury, that the white spray flew over the lofty roof of the church, and fell considerably beyond the castle.—In the transient pauses of the storm, when the wild elemental conflict ceased for a moment, and the mist partially subsided, Rosetta could discern an unfortunate bark, which unable to weather the whirling blast, was tossed abroad on the ocean, the sport of its merciless rage. Vain are the efforts of human skill, opposed to the powerful spirit of the tempest, when not restrained by an Almighty hand. The reeling vessel, no longer under the controul of her crew, was driven from side to side, and bending, received the proud waves, now on the starboard, and now on the larboard quarter; until Rosetta saw surged rise with Alpine swell, and overwhelm the hapless ship; but while the shriek of horror for the mariner’s safety, yet hung on her trembling lips, the bark rose again on the ridgy billows, and in another moment the briny mist once more veiled every object from sight. Nor on such occasions as these, did Rosetta fail, to urge every liberal offer, every forcible argument in her power to procure assistance to the unhappy sufferers; and when assured that no aid could be given them, for that no boat could possibly put to sea, her agony was unspeakable, and returning to the window, she would watch the lurid atmosphere, and mark the surcharged and heavy clouds, which driven rapidly along by the sweeping gust, almost wholly obscured the moon. When the black shadows of midnight enveloped the horizon, Rosetta retired to her couch, from whence, however, rest was banished by the ceaseless howling of the blast; the noise of the flood-tide waves re-echoed from the excavated rocks; the screams of the sea-fowl; and the rain beating, or the hail pattering against the casements of her chamber; and yet more by the sad image of the poor perishing sailors belonging to the bark, whose cries Rosetta fancied she heard mingled with the horrors of the night, and most fervently did she recommend them to the protection of that all-powerful Being, whose awful voice sounds in the tempest, whose majestic steps walks on the troubled waters, and who rides on the mighty wings of the wind. She would rise with the first faint beam of the morning, anxious, yet dreading, to know the fate of the ship; and though perhaps its scattered wreck strewed the shore at the foot of the castle, or the sand on the opposite side, the moment which enabled Rosetta to administer assistance, comfort, and consolation to the shipwrecked sufferers, was to her one of the most exquisite delight. It was after such a scene as this, that she beguiled a pensive hour, by composing the following verses:
While here at evening’s pensive fall,
I watch the varying tempest’s strife,
Past hours of pleasure I recal,
Fraught with the joys of polish’d life.
When music gave her warbling song,
To aid the ever-charming nine,
And let the mazy dance along,
Where love and joy and hope were mine.
Stern winters desolating powers
May wither nature’s vivid bloom;
May blast the woods, the fields, the flowers,
And wrap the cheerful day in gloom:
May rend the strong majestic tree,
And bow to earth the lofty pine—
Congenial are its storms to me,
For mental winter now is mine.
The howling winds, the roaring waves,
The long night veil’d in blackest cloud;
Wild echo murmuring thro’ the caves,
The sailor’s cries, and sea-gull loud;
The driving snow, the whirlwind’s roll,
And all that horror can combine,
Are typified in my sad soul,
Bereft of all that once was mine.
Against the mighty north-east gale,
In vain the toiling seaman strives,
With broken mast and tattered sail
Before the storm his vessel drives;
Till dash’d upon the hidden reef
The guards the dangerous mouth of Tyne
No aid, no comfort, no relief,
His last fond hopes are wreck’d---like mine.
I see the shiv’ring sufferer roam;
I hear him mourn his shatter’d bark;
Ah! thus I weep my happy home,
The peaceful shades of Wooler Park;
My Ida!---brother of my heart!
Thy cherish’d image must entwine,
With every scene that found a part,
In days of bliss, that once were mine.
When memory traces later years,
I see more tender visions rise---
Ah! cease to flow, my fruitless tears;
Be hush’d, my unavailing sighs!---
Oh, Lilburne! if no more we meet,
If in some convent’s sacred shrine,
Thou find’st from grief a last retreat,
The peaceful nunnery shall be mine.
Happy is that being, who, possessing a heart, blessed in conscious innocence and rectitude, and a mind and talents stored and cultivated with sufficient to afford him employment and amusement, can hold communion with himself, and beguile the hour of retirement and solitude. Such was Rosetta; and indeed the pensive seclusion of her own chamber was soon the only place where she could enjoy peace and quiet.
About this time a stranger arrived at the castle, and took up his abode there; this was the nephew of Major Shipperdson, on whom, since the death of his parents, which happened about six years back, he had depended for support and protection.
Edward O’Bryen, for so he was called, had been educated for the profession of surgery, and had passed the last two years on the continent, from whence he was now recalled by his uncle, with the ostensible motive of introducing him to public life, as a surgeon to the garrison of Tynemouth; and the concealed one of effecting a union between him and the Earl of Wooler’s lovely daughter.
O’Bryen possessed a fine person, and a very weak understanding; the former circumstance rendered him insufferably vain; and in consequence of the latter he was entirely subjected to the guidance of his artful relative, whose will and word were his own laws, and Shipperdson, who ever depended upon his own powers for carrying his schemes into execution, on the present occasion required nothing from his nephew but an implicit observance of his directions. The major was one of those men who entertain no very exalted opinion of female stability. His penetration had long since discovered the attachment which subsisted between Rosetta and Lilburne, but he concluded it certain that all their engagements were now dissolved for ever. It was a maxim with him, that the moment in which a woman feels herself necessitated to withdraw her heart from one object, is of all others the most proper for another to solicit the prize; and in this view he had introduced his nephew at Tynemouth; never doubting that Edward’s attractions would be as successful in gaining the affections of Rosetta, as his own machinations in securing the earl’s consent to their union.
Nor while he thus laboured to promote the interests of his young relation, was the artful deputy-governor regardless of his own; his plans concerning Elfrida he now considered as sufficiently en train to begin his manœuvres; and not repulsed by the invariable coldness of her manner towards him, he made formal proposals to her father; which were very coldly received by that gentleman. Yet whatever repugnance Mr. Thornton might feel to the idea of bestowing his daughter on a man whose rank, fortune, age, and principles were so inadequate to secure her happiness; he would not give him a decided negative until he had consulted the inclinations of Elfrida; and finding that her sentiments coincided entirely with his own, he gave the major a determined refusal. This indeed, was only what Shipperson expected. When he made his overtures, he had never encouraged the smallest hope of success, but a refusal furnished a plausible pretext for acting the part of a despairing lover, which was a necessary prelude to other plans he had formed; and in consequence of the resolutions he had taken; he pursued Miss Thornton like her shadow, whenever he could do so unobserved by her father; supporting to admiration the character of a rejected, but still adoring swain. And while the major thus harassed the persecuted Elfrida, his docile pupil, following his example and instructions, assailed Rosetta with the whole artillery of sighs, protestations, vows, and entreaties. In company, his attentions were so marked and decided, that it was scarcely possible to suppose any man could have the assurance to pay them, unless well convinced that they were perfectly agreeable to their object. And whenever chance left them a few moments in private, his assiduities were troublesome and even impertinent. Nor could Rosetta find any adequate means to check his insolence. If she was angry, and threatened to acquaint her father by letter, O’Bryen swore not to live under her frowns, and awed her to momentary silence, by pointing a sword or pistol to his own breast. Remonstrances he answered by pleading the violence of his passion, which he declared could end but with his life; and silent contempt he chose to construe into encouragement. At length Rosetta unable any longer to endure his persecutions in silence, complained to Mrs. Cresswell, who warmly remonstrated with the deputy-governor on his nephew’s behaviour; and though he essayed by every insinuating art in his power to mollify her resentment, and win her over to favour his designs, his efforts were vain; for, besides that the birth and fortune of O’Bryen were far inferior to what the Earl of Wooler’s daughter had a right to expect in a partner for life, Rosetta, on valentine-day, had drawn the name of Mitford Lilburne, a circumstance from which Mrs. Judith augured the certainty of his safe return; and consequently to become accessary to bestowing the hand of Rosetta on another, would, she thought; be impiously thwarting the will of heaven.
However, as no method had power to produce a change in O’Bryen’s conduct, Rosetta felt compelled to confine herself almost wholly to her own apartment, where Elfrida also frequently took refuge, from the disgusting assiduities of Shipperdson; and thus, the fair friends had at least one subject of mutual confidence, in bewailing the persecutions they suffered from two wretches, who were alike the objects of their contempt and abhorrence.
The dreary months of winter wore away, without any other material event; and returning spring, freshening the verdure of the sea-banks, enamelled them with a countless variety of weeds and wild flowers. The desolating blast no longer agitated the ocean, but breathed in whispering zephyrs on the placid surface of its waves; and the vernal sun-beams diffused life and cheerfulness over the renovated face of nature.
Early one morning, towards the latter end of March, the inhabitants of the castle and monastery were alarmed by an unusual bustle, occasioned by the sudden and dangerous illness of the prior, who had been seized with spasms in the stomach. The monks all quitted their cells, some to attend on the sick couch of the superior, and others to prostrate themselves before the shrine of St. Oswin, and implore the good offices of the holy martyr.
O’Bryen, as the nearest medical practitioner, was called in, and a message was dispatched to Mrs. Judith, requesting the assistance of her matronly skill, in preparing the remedies which he prescribed. She rose with alacrity, but while putting on her shoes she happened to sneeze, and had the lives of all the people of England been at stake, it would not have prevented her from returning to bed when those two circumstances happened in conjunction. Conceiving, however, that half an hour would be time sufficient to secure the good luck that her sneeze portended, she rose again at the end of that period, and proceeded to dress herself in such haste that she forgot to turn her robe, which had been folded wrong side out, and being now put on in that state, exhibited the lining to the gaze of the beholders, and thus it was suffered to remain: for to throw away the good fortune which such a happy mistake promised, by putting it off again, would, in the opinion of its fair wearer, be a piece of folly equal to his, who, when a purse of gold were offered to his acceptance, should wilfully dash it into the sea.
Being at length equipped, she hastened to prepare the medicines; and in addition to those ordered by O’Bryen, she prescribed cataplasm for the soles of the patient’s feet, composed of black snails and saffron, pounded in a mortar, and mixed together with that finger of the left hand on which ladies wear the wedding ring; for Mrs. Judith was convinced that nothing of a poisonous or hurtful nature could adhere to that finger without communicating itself immediately to the heart: but, alas! in using it, she discovered that she had omitted cutting her nails the preceding Friday, and mournfully prophesied that a most dreadful paroxysm of the tooth-ache would infallibly result from so culpable a neglect.
The weather was remarkably serene for the season, and nature already wore the light and flowery mantles which she generally assumes a month after. Rosetta devoted this evening to a solitary ramble on the sea-shore; for it was an hour in which she might commune with her own sad thoughts without fear of interruption; every person with whom she was accustomed to associate being engaged beyond a possibility of accompanying her. The robe, wrong side out, kept Mrs. Cresswell in the house; Elfrida was on a visit at Monkseaton, where she was to remain a week at least; Shipperdson was engaged in military business; Clifford was on duty; father Vincent was with the prior who had received no benefit from the snail plaisters; and her old tormenter, O’Bryen, could not leave his patient. Rosetta pursued the road along the top of the cliffs until she had gained a considerable distance from the castle, and then descending a steep and narrow path which led to the beach, she retraced her way homewards by the margin of the sea. The last faint beam of day which trembled on the waves yielded gradually to the deepening shadows of twilight, until they also were chased by the moon. Rosetta, seating herself on a projection of rock, watched the rising luminary: the flaming curve first appearing on the verge of the ocean, and enlarging, by almost imperceptible degrees, to the full orb, ascending in radiant majesty through the cloudless vault of heaven. She inhaled the fresh sea breeze, and for some time amused herself with counting the billows, and making the augmented force with which every third wave dashed its white foam on the shore. But the calm silence and solitude of the hour and place were little calculated to abstract her mind from objects on which it was accustomed to dwell; and, while active fancy wandered to her friends in France, her intention was insensibly withdrawn from the surrounding scenes, and she sat in deep meditation until the shadow of a human figure, reflected in the moonbeams, passed slowly along the beach, and a footstep sounded on her ear. Rosetta looked round, and saw what appeared to be a phantom, rather than a corporeal being, gliding amongst the rocks. Somewhat startled, but not intimidated, she raised her eyes to the countenance, and beheld—ah! what terms, what language, can describe her sensations when she beheld, or thought she beheld, the features of Lilburne!—yet they were so pale and wasted—they wore such an expression of mournful suffering—and the hollow eyes were so devoid of animation, that they seemed but to belong to an inhabitant of the grave. An involuntary scream escaped from the trembling lips of Rosetta; and the figure approached as if with an intention of addressing her, but in that moment a quick step sounded as if descending the path; and, starting away, it disappeared in a cleft or hollow of the rock. Almost overcome by a mingled sensation of astonishment and horror, Rosetta could scarce support her agitated frame; and before she could sufficiently recal her scattered faculties to reflect seriously whether she had probably witnessed a supernatural appearance—whether she had beheld Lilburne himself—or whether her imagination had given the features, ever present to it, to some passing object, Clifford appeared on the beach. Attributing the agitation in which he beheld Rosetta solely to surprize at his sudden appearance, he apologised for it by saying, that at the moment he was relieved from duty, letters from France had arrived, which Mrs. Cresswell finding to be of great importance, had commissioned him to come in search of Rosetta.
On receiving this intelligence at such a moment, her trembling ears naturally suggested the worst, and yielding for moment to superstitious terrors, she believed that Lilburne was dead, and that she had seen his apparition. Breathless almost expiring, she faintly articulated—
“Is my father?—is Ida?” she could add no more; but Clifford anticipated the whole of her inquiry, and replied, “They are both well, madam. I have received a letter from Mr. Lilburne, dated the same day as those from your father, and he is well also.”
This intelligence calmed in some degree the terrors of Rosetta, and enabled her to exert her reasoning powers; but while she discarded all superstitious fears she could not help reflecting, that though Lilburne was in France when the letters were dated, yet the same period of time which had conveyed them into Northumberland might have brought him thither also. However a thousand reasons prevented her from mentioning to Clifford, either what she had seen, or what she conjectured; and, with the silence that usually characterised their walks, they proceeded together to the castle.
“—————————Loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer’d the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer’s lingering blooms delay’d:
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please.”
THE letters now arrived, were that which has already been mentioned, as having been written by Ida, immediately after his father had acquainted him with his intended marriage, and two from the earl himself, to Rosetta and Mrs. Cesswell, containing the same information; and adding, that when the ceremony was over he should embark, with the countess, for England; she being, as he expressed it, “impatient to embrace her dear daughter.”
The earl’s letters also mentioned, that Lilburne was well, and would proceed with Ida on their tour, after having been present at the nuptials. This, together with what Clifford had said, soothed for the present Rosetta’s fears on her lover’s account; or rather, perhaps, they yielded for a time to intelligence so strange, unexpected, and distressing, as that of her father’s marriage. Prepared by Ida’s letter to find her new parent unamiable, she anticipated much unhappiness to herself from the connection; but she had now little leisure to indulge painful reflections; the wind having been fair for some time past, there was every reason to expect the governor and his bride in the course of a few days; and in consequence Rosetta was much engaged in giving the necessary orders for their reception, Mrs. Judith being incapacitated from affording any assistance; for she was so much affected with the intelligence of her kinsman’s approaching marriage, that she actually took to her bed. Yet to clear Mrs. Cresswell from any unjust imputation, it is proper to declare, that there was not the least spark of jealousy or any such passion in the case: her disorder arising partly from concern on Rosetta’s being subjected to the tyranny and caprice of a mother-in-law, and partly from chagrin at resigning the chief superintendence of the earl’s household. The whole affair was distressing enough, but it was attended with so many prodigies, that poor Judith was driven almost to madness. The earl had embarked for France on a Friday, and it is a received maxim amongst all the sybil in Europe, that no undertaking commenced on that day can possibly end well. Besides, she had dreamed that a monstrous large cat seized her in its paws, and there could not remain the shadow of a doubt, that the savage animal represented the new countess, in whom, of course, she should find a bitter and dangerous enemy. But notwithstanding all this, she was so far recovered in the space of two days, as to be able to leave her chamber.
In the midst of the bustle of preparation, the figure amongst the rocks frequently recurred to Rosetta’s thoughts, and she earnestly wished to confer with father Vincent on the subject; but the prior, though somewhat recovered, was still in such a state, that the attendance of the monks could not be dispensed with. Of course, Rosetta would find no opportunity of conversing with her preceptor in private, even for a moment. Recollecting, however, that the cleft in the rock, where the supposed Lilburne disappeared, was the subject of many superstitious tales, she felt a desire to be made acquainted with them; and for this purpose applied to Mrs. Judith, who was certainly well qualified to instruct her; yet she did not give the least hint of what had prompted her inquiry; for she well knew, that to mention the figure she saw on the sands to Judith, would be to spread the report of a ghost through the whole garrison: her questions drew from her sage kinswoman the following information, doubtless, no less authentic than important. “The rock you inquire about, my dear,” said Mrs. Cresswell, “is the seat of the enchantment which was laid upon this castle, in consequence of the murder of our ancestor, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland. Awful are the mysteries which it contains; but he who is fated to break the spell, must first penetrate is most secret recesses. Many indeed have already explored them, but none have returned to describe what they saw; yet I have made such minute researches into the affair, that I am enabled to give a circumstantial account of both their unhappy fate, and the mysteries they witnessed there.”
Here Rosetta could scarce refrain from laughing and asking Mrs. Judith how she obtained her information, since no person had escaped from this wonderful cave to describe its contents. However, she suppressed the question, and with a composed countenance, listened to the following surprising narration.
“He who is courageous enough to enter the rock, finds himself in a narrow dark passage, and if he carries a light, it is of no avail, for it always expires about ten yards from the mouth of the cave; and the adventurer is left to grope his way along by the walls, which exhale a damp vapor. If his courage does not fail him, he proceeds in this manner for about three hours, when he feels his passage impeded by water; here he naturally hesitates; and while he stands, considering whether he shall endeavour to ford it, or explore his way back, a faint flame rises as it were from the bottom of the pool, and gleaming along the surface discovers a narrow path on one side, which with infinite danger and difficulty he passes. Here the light suddenly rises and goes before him, about the same height from the ground as a lanthorn would be if carried in the hand of a man; indeed it is evidently carried by some invisible being; for although nothing is seen but the flame, the adventurer distinctly hears the sound of other footsteps besides his own, and a continual clanking or jingling rings in his ears. The cause which produces this noise has been the subject of much speculation, and many conjectures have been formed about it; but I shall not take upon me to determine positively which of them is right. I have heard it affirmed that the invisible figure being unquestionably the ghost of Robert de Mowbray, is clad in the very same armour which he wore in his life-time, and which as it moves, produces a clashing sound. Some suppose that the spirit carries a chain ready to bind the unfortunate victim in a spell of enchantment. Others believe that a bell is tolled to warn him of his fate. Nor are there wanting those who contend, that what is heard is the tinkling of keys; though here again opinion is divided, for while one party asserts that they are the keys of the cells or dungeons, where persons are kept in a state of enchantment; another maintains them to be those which guard the immense treasure buried in a secret recess of that rock, and which will be the reward of him who is destined to break the enchantment. However, be this as it may, the adventure is led on by the jingling sound and the light that accompanies it and in his way he is appalled with the sight of several miserable wretches, who having ventured thither like himself, and being unable to perform the conditions requisite for dissolving the spell, are now stretched on couches in a state of enchantment. But as yet the weary length of his journey is only commencing, for it is generally believed, that this subterraneous road is extended beneath the foundations of the Picts’ wall the whole length to that stupendous boundary, nor does it stop there, but passing under the bed of the Irish sea, terminates in the bowels of the earth below the very heart of Ireland, and here he suddenly finds himself in a small apartment, hung round with black, and paved with jet; in the middle is a table of ebony, on which a sword and a trumpet are laid; the flame resting on the table, gleams faintly over the room, and a voice is heard, which audibly pronounces these words,
“Bless’d be the day on which thou wast born,
If thou canst either draw the sword or sound the horn.”
Hitherto, however, no person has been able to do either; the weapon cannot be unsheathed, neither will the trumpet produce any tone; and after three unsuccessful efforts, the unfortunate wretch attempts to retreat; but before he can reach the mouth of the cavern, he is fixed like a statue by the spell of enchantment, and is fated to remain in the situation I have described until the charm is finally dissolved.—I flattered myself,” added Mrs. Judith, “that it would be the lot of Ida to break this enchantment, and possess himself of the immense wealth which is thus hid in the bowels of the earth; but that unlucky green bed has cut the thread of his good fortune, and I would be the last to advise him ever to enter the cavern, for I am sure he would be enchanted there.”
This harangue, delivered with as much gravity of countenance as a judge wears when giving his charge to the jury, yielded little information to Rosetta, who remained as much in the dark as ever concerning the hollow rock, and the figure which entered it; neither could she obtain satisfactory information from any one on the subject; and indeed it was for the present suspended in her mind by the hourly expectation of her father’s arrival. How often did she trip from the hall into the castle yard—how frequently did her light footsteps pace the ramparts, and with what looks of anxious solicitude were her lovely eyes directed over the blue main; yet it was only the dear hope of seeing her beloved and indulgent parent that her heart anticipated with pleasure; from the contemplation of an interview with her mother-in-law, she shrunk with horror and fear.
At length the long-expected bark entered the haven, the governor and his bride landed, and were received with military honors. Major Shipperdson met them at the gate, and conducted them to the governor’s house, where Rosetta, at once overjoyed and agitated, flew to the arms of her father: the fondness with which he pressed her to his paternal breast, and the glow of delight which animated his features, recalled in some degree her spirits, and when he presented her to her new mother, she was sufficiently composed to pay her the respect which was due to the wife of her father; while the countess, embracing her with apparent rapture, called her, her charming daughter.
Mrs. Judith welcomed her new relation with formal politeness, and when they were seated, entertained her alternately with the praises of Rosetta and the history of the enchantment.
The prior now hovered on the brink of existence, but the senior monks left him for a short time to visit the governor on his arrival: he advanced with his bride to receive their blessing; but Rosetta saw with surprize and consternation, that when father Vincent beheld the features of her new parent, his countenance changed to an expression of indescribable horror. The countess, however, neither by word or look, discovered the least knowledge or recollection of father Vincent; and Rosetta, though shocked and terrified by his manner, had no opportunity of requesting an explanation; for the monks were obliged to return almost immediately to their dying superior, who survived the governor’s arrival but two days, and it was some weeks ere Rosetta again saw her preceptor; but she found one source of consolation in the intelligence she received from her father that Lilburne and Ida were both well, and that after assisting at his nuptials, they proceeded on their tour the same day on which himself and the countess left Paris. This was indeed most soothing intelligence to her, for it seemed to convey a certainty that the emaciated figure she saw amongst the rocks could not be her lover; and by degrees the circumstances faded for the present from her mind.
All the principal families in the neighbourhood visited Tynemouth to congratulate the earl and the countess on their marriage and return. The governor’s house became the resort of gaiety and entertainments. Balls and excursions to sea constantly succeeded each other; the fair Rosetta was the queen of every circle; and limited indeed was the admiration which the bride excited, compared to that which every where attended her lovely daughter; while the countess, totally unused to be thus eclipsed, nourished the bitterest envy, the most rancorous hatred, against the sweet unsuspecting girl; and resolved to seize the earliest opportunity of ridding herself of so formidable a rival. The likeliest way that seemed to present itself of doing which, was, by effecting a union between her and O’Bryen, and persuading the earl to send them to reside at Wooler Park. For this, perhaps, another motive besides the superior charms of Rosetta might be alleged. The new countess had resided but a very few weeks at Tynemouth, when the voice of fame began to talk aloud of the great degree of intimacy that appeared to subsist between her and Major Shipperdson. He was her partner in the dance and at cards, and her constant attendant in all her walking, riding, and sailing parties; while Wooler, open and unsuspicious, believed his friend and his wife equally faithful and amiable, gave himself no concern, however frequent and long were their interviews—and was ever happy when her ladyship appeared so. And thus another reason might be adduced why the countess was desirous to forward the interest of the major’s nephew. Her consummate art soon enabled her to gain a complete ascendency over the earl, and she found little difficulty in persuading him to promise the hand of his daughter to O’Bryen. It will be remembered, that he had always been ignorant of the affection which subsisted between Lilburne and Rosetta; but when with surprise and grief she found her father thus persuaded to favor O’Bryen’s insolent pretensions, with her accustomed frankness, she acquainted him with the whole affair, and besought him to permit her to await the event of her lover’s mysterious behaviour; and either to fulfil her engagements with him, if he claimed her promise, or to retire to a nunnery and take the veil.
The earl listened with a mingled sensation of surprize, pleasure, and grief; most happy would he have been to bestow his daughter on Lilburne, both on account of his own merit and the regard he cherished for his father’s memory; but from the events which happened when he watched his arms in the church, and his whole behaviour during the time they remained abroad together; he thought there was little probability of his ever returning to England and claiming Rosetta’s promise; yet, unable to support the idea of seeing his beloved child secluded for life in a convent, he tried to compromise matters, by proposing, that if Lilburne returned in a situation to fulfil his engagements, he would retract the word he had given O’Bryen’s favor, and consent to their union, on condition Rosetta would agree to marry O’Bryen, if her favored lover resigned his pretensions: but no entreaty could prevail on her to alter her resolution; and she expressed so strong an aversion to O’Bryen, that the earl, who loved her with the fondest affection, and had never been accustomed to oppose even the least of her wishes, gave her the most positive assurance, that she never should be persecuted on the subject.
When the countess understood what turn affairs had taken, she was at once astonished and exasperated to the highest degree; more especially, when she found that her lord adhered to the promise he had given his daughter, with a steadiness rather unusual to him. However, as he had no hesitation in disclosing to her the whole matter concerning Lilburne, she was soon determined how to act. Rosetta’s union with O’Bryen, was ever with her but a secondary consideration, the chief motive that promoted it—indeed her first wish—was to remove a formidable and hated rival, who engaged the homage of every heart around her, and eclipsed her as much in grace and beauty, as in every amiable quality; and since she could not effect this in the way she had at first intended, she resolved to try other methods; and her fertile brain, assisted by her worthy friend the major, soon devised the means, which, as they hoped, would not only seclude Rosetta for the present, but eventully forward the interests of O’Bryen. Nor were their schemes directed against Rosetta alone; Mrs. Cresswell, who could not be blind to what was notorious to the whole garrison—the partiality which the countess manifested for the deputy-governor—lectured her ladyship on the subject, with much freedom and severity; and from that moment was marked out as the victim of her vengeance; for it is certain property of vice, to influence its votaries to detest those who would lead them back to the path of virtue.
The only other events which occurred at this period, worth relating, were the election of a new prior—a man of some talents, subtle, malignant, and the avowed enemy of father Vincent,—and the departure of Elfrida Thornton, on the promised visit to Yorkshire, whither she was escorted by Clifford; who, at her father’s request, had obtained leave of absence for the purpose, and was not yet returned. Rosetta thus deprived of her friend’s society, passed many melancholy hours: she had, indeed, many causes for unhappiness—she was compelled to witness the distressing certainty, that her father was the dupe of an artful abandoned woman, who had given up every principle of honor and decency, and plunged into a course of guilt, which must lead to the most dreadful consequences. The look of horror, too, with which father Vincent regarded the countess, were never absent from her mind; and the long silence of her brother and Lilburne, from neither of whom any letters had been received since the earl’s return, filled the cup of her anxieties and distresses.
END OF FIRST VOLUME.
Newcastle upon Tyne:
Printed by E. Mackenzie, Jun.
*The passage distinguished by inverted commas are from Mackenzie’s History of Northumberland.
*It is difficult to distinguish the Saxon from the early Norman mode of architecture. The difference, it is admitted, consists more in the form than in the ornaments. But there is no ecclesiastical building in England which can, on clear and decisive authority, he ascribed to the Saxons. However, the little chapel of Seaton Delavel has been, by good judges, pronounced older than the Conquest. The old church at Tynemouth, in form, dimensions, and style of execution, resembles that at Lindisfarn.
* “John Wethemstede, abbot of St. Albans, was a canon here. He was a learned and voluminous historian. On his preferment, he presented to the alter at Tynemouth a chalice of gold.---John of Tynemouth, an eminent sacred biographer, flourished here about the year 1336. ‘He was born in this place, and is said to have been the vicar of it, but afterwards became a Benedictine monk in the abbey of St. Albans. He was a most virtuous person, and excellently learned, entirely addicted to the study of the holy scriptures, and of sacred history. He gathered the lives and actions of the saints of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, into two volumes, with great judgment and indefatigable labour, which work he entitled, Sanctiologium Servorum Dei, i.e. the Sacred History of the Servants of God. Nor did he deserve less commendation for his Exposition of the Holy Scripture, in which he did not only explain the literal sense, but the moral, allegorical, and tropological. His commentaries were upon all the books from Genesis to the Kings inclusive. He wrote also other books, as Church Lessons, the Golden History, and a Supplement to the same; also an ‘Appendix to his Martyrology,’ &c. His Golden History is still extant in library at Lambeth.”
*In the year 1818, in repairing the wall on the south side, a bag of nut-shells was found in one of the towers; every shell was perforated by a small hole, made doubtless by a worm which had fed on the kernel. At the same time two stones were discovered, one sculptured with the representation of Noah’s ark, the other with armorial bearings: they were replaced in the wall.