Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

So saying, Mary burst into tears and loud and leave it to us soldiers to fight out this sobs. Although this scene was by no means struggle.” the first of the same description, Milton al “ Then you do not believe in the possibility lowed himself to be touched anew; he pushed of a reconciliation between the king and Parbis books aside, and tried to pacify his excited liament ?” wife by his kisses and gentle remonstrances. “If the contest were confined to those two, Mary soon passed from one extreme to the peace might not be impossible; but the strug. other. The most playful mirth succeeded to gle is greater, it is much more important and the outburst of her despair, and while the extensive. It is the old war between liberty tears were yet glistening on her rosy cheeks, and tyranny, between despotism and republicanher crimson lips smiled already, and her eyes ism, between intolerance and freedom of conbeamed with arch gayety. She was a true science. No mediation is possible between daughter of Eve, whimsical as the sky in these two sides. Men no longer oppose men, April, and fickle as the sea. Amid laughter but truth combats falsehood, liberty oppresand jests she hastened to the kitchen to pre-sion, and despotism law and order. Mortal pare their supper.

enemies may be reconciled, but immortal prinAt the wonted hour appeared the expected ciples, eternal contrasts, do not admit of a recguest, whom Mary received more cordially than onciliation: their war will continue to the usual. Milton and Overton were soon engaged day of judgment.” in an animated conversation concerning the Yes,” exclaimed Milton, enthusiastically, desperate condition of the country.

“it is thus that I imagined the struggle of the “I believe war is inevitable,” said Overton. fallen angels with the host of the Lord, of light “ Parliament is already levying troops and call with darkness. I see my dreams embodied, ing out volunteers for the impending struggle. and the creations of my imagination realized. I have likewise enlisted, and received an offi- It is not Charles and Parliament, but the great cer's commission.”

and mighty contrasts of the world, that are at “I intend to take the same step,” replied war, and light will and must triumph.” Milton.

The entrance of Mary, who brought in the “You ?” asked Overton,' wonderingly. supper, turned the conversation in another di“That would be downright folly on your rection, and, for his wife's sake, Milton avoided part.”

further allusions to political affairs. “And why should I not, just as well as you, Unfortunately their domestic peace was disdevote my life to my country, now that it is in turbed again a few days afterward by the ardanger ?

rival of Mary's parents. Richard Powell, Mil“ Because you can be more useful to it with ton's worthy father-in-law, and his wife paid your head than we with our hands. Every one their long-promised visit to London. On his after his own fashion. The scholar is a soldier journey he had passed through York and seen too; his weapon is the pen; it is even sharper the king. His loyal heart was overflowing than the sword, and more pointed than the with devotion and fidelity to Charles and his lance. It requires more courage to declare and The honest country squire of Forest defend one's opinion than to rush into the Hill did not conceal his political sentiments. thickest of the fight on the field of battle. The “How long will it be," said the loyal old mind has achieved more victories than brute gentleman, “ until the king recovers his full force. Therefore, stay quietly with your books, I authority and returns to London? I was at

cause.

York and saw him in person ; he was so affable meet there with any books, nor with learned
and condescending that I should have at once conversations, but with a good piece of roast-
drawn my sword for him but for my advanced beef, foaming ale, and merry friends and ac-
years. The whole country, with the exception quaintances, who will be very glad to see you
of the accursed capital, shares my sentiments; again.!
but London will certainly submit as soon as war So saying, the mother-in-law took leave of
breaks out in earnest. Hitherto the king has Milton's house. Mary soon followed her ad-
been by far too gracious and indulgent. If Ivice, and begged leave of her husband to pass
were in his place, I should know what to do. a few weeks at the house of her parents. He
I should summon all my loyal subjects and willingly complied with her request, and per-
march directly upon the accursed city. I would mitted her to stay there till Michaelmas, al-
catch a few of the ringleaders, have them strung though her absence inconvenienced him not a
up, and the whole fuss would be at an end." little. He hoped that this brief separation

Milton contented himself with quietly listen- would exercise a favorable effect upon himself
ing to the narrow-minded opinions of the ex and his wife. A few days after her departure,
cellent squire; but when Mr. Powell rebuked his father suddenly arrived at his house. The
his son-in-law for his political course, and par-old gentleman had removed to the residence
ticularly for his treatise against the authority of his younger son, a lawyer and royalist at
of the bishops, he broke his silence, and replied Reading ; but at the outbreak of hostilities
to his father-in-law with manly dignity. The between Charles and Parliament he deemed
discussion terminated in a violent altercation, it prudent to take up his abode at Milton's
which led to the speedy departure of the old house in London. He met with the most
gentleman. Mary's mother, however, allowed tender and reverential reception at the hands
herself to be persuaded by her daughter to stay of his distinguished son. On account of his
yet a few days at Milton's house.' Mrs. Powell arrival, Milton desired his wife to return at an
improved this opportunity, like a genuine early day; but Mary did not seem disposed to
mother-in-law, to sow the seeds of as many comply with his wishes; she was too well
reeds as possible in the young household; she pleased with the numerous amusements which
encouraged Mary in her resistance, and in all she enjoyed at ber father's house. Her broth-
sorts of whims. Never did she fail to dispar-ers and relatives had sided with the king,
age Milton in the eyes of his wife, to blame his whose prospects seemed far more hopeful at
retired life, and to deride his political views. this juncture than heretofore.
Mary was unfortunately a most impressionable In compliance with the king's proclamation,
creature, and her mother exercised unlimited the nobility of York and the adjoining counties
influence over her. The teachings of the old flocked to the royal headquarters. Before long
lady fell into a fertile soil and grew with amaz he was surrounded by a numerous retinue and
ing rapidity. On her departure, Mrs. Powell army; his ministers, Falkland, Hyde, and Cole
invited her daughter urgently to pass the sum peper,

had arrived from London; over forty mer at Forest Hill.

peers followed them, and so did many of the “You will be able,” said the worthy matron, commoners. From all quarters came country " to recreate and divert yourself there. If you gentlemen, veteran officers, and cavaliers, with do not like to live in London, and with your squads of men ; it is true, these soldiers lacked husband, you will always find an asylum in arms, uniforms, ammunition, and, above all your parental home. It is true, you will not I things, discipline; but in return they were

1

animated with ardent zeal and courage. The to prevail on her to leave York again, represtreets of York exhibited a most lively spec- senting to her that she could not possibly stay tacle. They were crowded with courtiers and there, so near the court, and in the midst of soldiers; the taverns were filled with jovial | the camp. But she never tired of overwhelm. guests, who never tired of drinking the king's ing him with tearful supplications. health. The cavaliers dragged their long “I am willing,” she said, clinging to him, swords noisily over the pavement, and the “to conceal myself from all the world, as I courtiers raised their heads again with their know that my presence might involve you in former haughtiness. The air resounded with unpleasant consequences. Since Billy Green derisive songs about Parliament, the Scots, and left you, you have no footman ; let me be your the Puritans, and they were never mentioned servant." but in terms of boastful arrogance. The cava “That will not do." liers were in the highest spirits, and vented “Oh, let me see to that, I have already their insolence in all sorts of defiant expres- thought of it before now, and procured a boy's sions and jests. Although the queen was still suit, which I will don immediately.” in Holland, where, disposing of the crown She took an elegant doublet and a hat from jewels, she had been enabled to purchase a the small bundle which she had brought with cargo of arms and ammunition, most of her her. In a few moments she was disguised former courtiers and adherents had repaired to and appeared in the garb of a page. The York. The handsome Percy, the dissipated close-fitting costume sat very well on her Wilmot, Ashburnham, and O'Neale, had left charming form, and Thomas could not refrain their hiding-places; Jermyn had returned from from admiring her appearance. France, and Thomas Egerton had bastened up “And now,” she added, smilingly, “you from Wales as soon as he heard that hostili- will not send me away any more. No one ties were about to break out. · All these young will recognize me, and I will be a more faithmen joyfully looked forward to the campaign, ful footman to you than Billy Green ever which they considered an agreeable change in their mode of life. Nor were ladies wanting “I am afraid you will be unable to hear the to the new court, and the cavaliers promised fatigues of military life. We shall set out in to perform the most valiant exploits under the a few days, and attack the enemy.” eyes of their mistresses. The ladies were by “ Have no fears on that head. I can bear no means idle; besides the usual court and love any fatigue if I am allowed to share it with intrigues, they entered into communication you. Henceforth I shall no longer leave your with the most influential men in London, in side. I shall accompany you, even though you order to win them over to the royal cause. go to the ends of the world; I shall nurse you,

No sooner had Lucy Henderson heard of undergo all dangers with you, fight by your Thomas Egerton's arrival at York, than she side, and, if you should be wounded, not leave hastened thither. Uttering a cry of joy, she your bedside. I will gladly do all, all; only rushed into the arms of her lover, who was do not drive away your poor Lucy, who for not a little surprised at her arrival. She did your sake sacrificed every thing, and has no not notice the confusion and coolness with one but you in the whole world." which he received her, as the image of the ab Touched by her self-sacrificing love and gensent queen still engrossed his heart. After erous devotion, Thomas was no longer able to the first outburst of her joy was over, he tried / withstand her entreaties, and kept Lucy with

was."

him. No one recognized her in this new garb, / at York, fickle Dame Fortune seemed to smile and all believed her to be her master's page. on him again. Surrounded by experienced

In the mean time events assumed' a more officers, who assisted him in reorganizing his menacing aspect. The king had so far com army, be had obtained important victories pleted his preparations that he caused his over his less-disciplined adversaries. His adstandard to be unfurled on the 29th of August. herents, with whom Richard Powell openly It was a stormy evening. The sun set in sympathized, now raised their heads proudly, blood-red clouds. Charles appeared, attended and passed from the deepest dejection to the by his most faithful adherents, on the castle- most overbearing arrogance. The family of hill at York, where a large crowd had assem Milton's young wife began to repent of having bled to witness the scene. Marshal Verney bestowed their daughter upon a man who bore the colors containing the royal coat-of-sided with the opposition, and had incurred arms, and a hand pointing to the crown, which the displeasure of the court by his work was surmounted by the inscription, “ Render against the bishops. They feared lest this unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's.” union should discredit their loyal sentiments, The ground was 80 stony that they were and stain the honor of their escutcheon. Selfhardly able to dig a bole for the flag-staff. interest, too, influenced their course on this The crowd was profoundly impressed with the occasion, inasmuch as they expected that the ceremony, and the king looked even gloomier king, in case he should recover his power, as than usual. Even the arrogant cavaliers ab- seemed more than probable now, would restained from jesting; they foresaw the suf- ward their fidelity in the most liberal manner. ferings which awaited them. The profound Mary was weak enough to listen to their insilence was broken only by the flourishes of sinuations, although she still loved her husthe bugles and the deep roll of the drums. A band. Her mother intentionally withheld Milherald read in a loud voice the declaration of ton's letters from her, so that in this respect war against the rebellious Parliament. All she was much less guilty than she seemed to then took off their hats and shouted, “God be. At times she felt remorse, and made up save the king!”

her mind to return to London and to her husThe same night the storm redoubled in band; but these better resolves were always violence and upset the ill-fastened flag-staff. nipped in the bud by her own frivolity and the This occurrence was considered a bad omen bad advice of her parents. Milton's pride was by Charles's partisans.

wounded in the most painful manner; he resolved to make another attempt to lead his disobedient wife back to the path of duty.

For this purpose he requested his friend OverCHAPTER XVI.

ton to go to Forest Hill and bring Mary back to London. This choice was not a bappy one;

the young wife had always felt a great averThe summer was drawing to a close, and sion to the grave and almost gloomy friend of Mary had not yet returned to her husband's her husband. If Milton himself had gone to house. She did not answer his repeated re- her, she would surely have yielded and folquests and letters. However, her parents lowed him; but she received his messenger were most to blame for this unpardonable con with a coldness bordering on disdain. duct. Since the king had planted his standard “My friend Milton has sent me to you,"

SEPARATION OF MILTON AND HIS WIFE.

said Overton to her, as soon as he was alone | tion in the whole neighborhood. My excellent with her. “ Your husband is profoundly husband tears out his gray hair, and his loyal grieved at your conduct, and insists on your heart bleeds at the conduct of his son-in-law; immediate return."

wherever he goes, people talk of the accursed “I shall go to him when it suits me,” re scribbler and his contemptible writings. I plied Mary, sullenly.

curse the hour that he set foot in our house, “ Consider well what you are doing. You and that Mary gave her hand to this beggar!” owe obedience to your husband, according to “And yet,” replied Overton, angrily, “this divine as well as human law."

beggar took your daughter without the dower “You had better preach your sermons at of one thousand pounds into his house, and your conventicles; we have no need of them never demanded nor received the money." here."

“A thousand pounds !” cried Mrs. Powell, “For the sake of my friend, I will not take enraged at hearing him mention this fact, umbrage at your insulting remarks. But, which she could not deny. “A thousand above all things, I demand a definite reply, pounds! A thousand stripes he should get whether you will accompany me or not.” from us for the ill-treatment which our daugh

Mary reflected and hesitated; she would ter received at his hands. Indeed, a thousand probably have followed her better nature and pounds for such a vagabond ! ” gone with him, but for her mother, who Mary sought in vain to pacify her angry rushed impetuously into the room and inter- mother; the furious woman was perfectly be." rupted their conversation.

side herself, and gave the reins to her violent “My daughter,” cried Mrs. Powell, in the and sordid nature. imperious tone which had become habitual to “I will curse you," she shouted, “if you her, " will stay here; she will not return to only think of returning to Milton. And now, the bookworm, the hypocrite, who feels nei- sir, you have heard our answer ; repeat it to ther respect for his majesty nor regard for the your friend, and the sooner you do so the venerable bishops. Tell bim that he has no more agreeable it will be to me. At all events, use for a young wife, because he prefers his you have no business here." musiy parchments and his miserable friends to Notwithstanding this insulting hint, Overton her society. Neither does Mary long for the deemed himself in duty bound to hear Mary's dry old curmudgeon. My poor daughter re own reply; but she was so completely under vived only after she had returned to us, for her mother's sway, that she did not dare to she did not even get enough to eat in Lon- contradict her. don."

“ Tell my husband," she replied to him, evaBut, mother" interposed Mary, timidly. sively, “ that I intend to stay yet a while with “Let me speak out; I will make a fitting my parents.” reply to this gentleman. My child is too good Without vouchsafing to her another glance for a schoolmaster, who makes a precarious or word, Overton left Powell's house. No living by giving lessons to naughty boys. Our sooner, however, had he gone, than she felt family is highly respected all over the coun the keenest remorse, and was near hastening try, and even his majesty (God save him !) after him. It was too late, and only a flood knows us well. Instead of appreciating the of tears bore witness to her repentance and honor we conferred upon him by this union, weakness. However, she soon dried her Mr. Milton disgraces us and ruins our reputa- | tears, and her rosy face beamed with childish

« VorigeDoorgaan »