Page images

the Knight himself. William lagged behind; he had more last words for his mother, and still drawn-out embraces for forlorn Helen and his little ones.

At length the rererguard shogged off. You might hear the braying of a trumpet coming up on the breeze, and from the Tower see straggling companies wending Northward. Presently even the fathers and the sweethearts of William's troopers had gone home, and all was quiet in Chenies but the disturbed dogs and the busy household. Dame Elizabeth felt as a mother feels parting her only son. But me comforted herself: "'Tis his duty! And the same Providence is over him in War as in Peace. God be with my boy!" But Helen sate sorrowfully on the floor, her pretty Nell coiled on her lap, her hopeful boys, Robin and small Tom, playing at soldiers i' the lobby, shouting after a most martial mode; now mocking Grandfather, now with a spice of Davy's vein. And it was pleasant to see how these children in their play drew the fond woman's thoughts from carking after her sweet William.

By evensong Sir Thomas returned. He had met his son by the way. There had been embracings and bleffings. But the Knight enjoined, above all, a careful watching of the Sir Thomas his Opinion. 103

Earl. "For," said he, "I much misdoubt his humours.
Let him watch his health."

And Sir Thomas spake sadly to his wife concerning the young man whom they both loved: Dame Elizabeth saying, "God grant he be not convertite to these newfangled fancies!"

"Tis to be doubted, Bess," quoth her husband. "They of his complexion, having inconstant entrails, be apt for violent spiritual motions. They pass from unreasonable fears to immoderate gloom; and so, having too much faith in their own conceits, have too little hope in God's promises."

"They be an unhappy sort, Thomas! And if Essex's body be rheumatic, he going to a moist, rotten climate, I fear me he shall take thought on't."

"'Tis an exampled case; for the Cantons and the Palatinate, Holland, the Scottish Lowlands, and those parts of Ireland that be reformed, have all grasped at Master Calvin's scheme; and they be all low, damp, foggy and swampy places, and the inhabiters given greatly to strong waters therefore •, while, in the hard north of Allmagne, and here on our gravelly soil, we hold more generous views

[ocr errors]

of God, and are something more hopeful of ourselves and fellow creatures."

"Poor Lord! He hath not that alacrity he was wont!"

"No! Nor the frankness was his dearest quality."

"Yet 'tis said he hath given up those evil Court practices."

"God be thanked! His poor wife shall now be happy."

"He spake of her with tears in 's eyes."

"And of his little ones?"

"Most tenderly."

"Poor Essex!"

"Pray God he shall do well!"

"Take heart, Bess! He hath ever been a hero in the field: now shall he bring Rebellion broached upon his sword, William saith."

So Essex journeyed towards the coast, slowly and painfully. Twas a different gait, look you, than when he rode to Plymouth in Don Antonio his affairs: or yet when he was urging on the Gades expedition. But the same men be not the same at all times. And the Ague shaketh the very heart out of one. And my Lord knew that he left but three friends i' th' Council; to wit, the Lord Keeper Dublin Bay. 105

Egerton, the most reverend the Archbishop Whitgift, and his uncle Knollys, Mr. Comptroller. Whereas the rest were his vouched adversaries and most hollow flatterers. He knew too that Ralegh might now sit on her Grace's pillow an he listed; and that none from within the Arras would tell him of her Majesty's mind. With these griess behind him, and an ungracious task afore, what wonder should the spirit quail?

On the fifteenth day of April, after as rough and dangerous a passage as had been known at that time of year, the Earl arrived in Dublin.

Twas a fine sunshiny morning, and the air was clear and wholesome after the storm, as the little ship rolled in the smoother water os the Bay. There, on the left, lie the big hills dipping their giant bodies in the deep blue sea; and, far as the eye could reach southward, headland after headland jut, and landwise mountain upon mountain is piled up How beautiful their cloudlike forms! And those two cones so notable—the dim silver-purple colouring, the sparkling rocks—the Azure vault of heaven above, and the calm waters at your feet! On the right, some ten miles from the mainland, meeteth you the promontory of Howth. 'Tis the sweetest outline your fancy could imagine; and it circles the weary mariner as .a strong man's arm round a timid girl's waist; for within its reach all is still as an inland lake. Before you is the Anna LifFey, speeding fro' th' East; the tide cleansing it for many miles above the City. And on your left, that is, on the right bank of the river, rucked on a rising knowle, like a Curlew wailing i' the marshes, is Dublin.

A small Capital truly, and yet too large for its inhabiters. You shall find in't as many ruins as dwellings; and there be poor folk hovelled in the wrack more than housed tradesmen i' the streets, and more mud cabins than brick, and more thatch than wood or slate. And the Castle where the Lord Deputy mould live, and where the Officers of State be, is a dull gloomy building, incommodious and ill-repaired; moreover, wholly incapable should an enemy attempt it. There is, hard by, a venerable Cathedral dedicate to St. Patrick, and an Abbey of the Redeemer, both of an antique style, but uncleanly and dilapidated, as are other of the holy places here and throughout the country. And there is a Spital and some overthrown Monasteries extra muros, and her Grace's new College a mile down the river, near the banks. Such is the city!

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »