Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

cing, and horsemanship he possessed extraor- | the whole occurrence was only a poor joke of dinary skill. Nevertbeless, we always called my fellow-students. I should have liked best him “the Lady;' there was still another reason to consider tbe whole event only a dream of for our doing so."

my lively imagination, had I not, on awaking, Milton signed vainly to his fellow-student, found the rose with those lines carefully wrapwhom the joy of meeting his old friend, and a ped round the stem. Moreover, I really few glasses of wine, had excited a little. thought I had, on opening my eyes, seen a

“Ah, you need not motion to me,” continued | female form burrying rapidly from the garden. the merry musician; “Lady Alice shall hear Nay, I even remembered her name, for I that story in spite of your objections. It thought I heard an older lady, accompanying sounded at the time so beautiful and won her, calling out to her, ‘Leonora !' I confess drous, that I felt almost tempted to believe frankly that this strange affair engrossed my that you had dreamed, or had one of your mind for some time afterward." usual poetical visions."

“Maybe you will meet the lady at some fu“You really excite my curiosity,” interposed ture time,” said Allce, playfully. “Did you Alice, who seemed to be delighted with the never entertain this desire ? " poet's confusion.

“In former times I did, but it is a long while “One day,” related the loquacious musician, since I forgot the whole occurrence, until "friend Milton lay under a tree in the college Lawes just now reminded me of it. I look garden, and fell asleep. An Italian lady, who upon the adventure now only as a rather bold was on a visit to Cambridge, is said to have jest on the part of the unknown lady, and seen the slumbering youth, and to have been who knows whether I ought to desire to meet so intensely delighted with his appearance, the Signora again ? The reality would probthat she dropped on him a rose which she held ably undeceive me, as is usually the case under in her hands. Round the stem was tied a such circumstances. As it is, she lives at least piece of paper, which contained a few beauti- in my imagination as a picture of the Muse ful lines in Italian on the sleeping Endymion.” who visited her votary in his dreams.”

“Do you still remember those lines ?” asked “And you are afraid lest your Muse, on Alice, archly.

meeting you again, should be old and ugly? “I do. If I am not mistaken, they were of You may be right, so far as that is concerned," the following purport:

added Alice, smilingly.

In the mean time, the condescending host "Oh, fairest eyes, ye orbs of blissful light, If closed, ye such power wield,

conversed with young King on the affairs of What could my heart, if ye were open, shield ?'"

the king, and on what was going on at court. “I think these lines are really charming,” The noble earl spoke with a great deal of modremarked the young lady, “ though they seem eration on these topics. He made no secrets to me more suitable to a woman than a man. of his apprehensions in regard to the quarrels

“That is what the whole class thought, and between Charles I. and his Parliament. He henceforth we called Milton “the Lady of the expressed his hope and earnest desire, howCollege' more than ever before.”

ever, that these dissensions might be amicably “And you heard nothing further from the settled. At the conclusion of the conversation, unknown lady?” said Alice to the confused the Lord President of Wales took up the gobpoet.

let standing before him. “How should I ?” he replied. “Perhaps “God grant,” he said, raising his voice,

A MORNING AT LUDLOW CASTLE.

"peace and tranquillity to our country! But it, and, like a color-grinder, produced new and let me once more heartily welcome you, my surprising combinations of these different dear guests, to Ludlow Castle, and repeat my tints, wbile the hanging drops fell from the invitation to you to stay at my house as long foliage to the ground like a rain of flashing as you like it."

diamonds. Adjoining the luxuriant garden Thereupon be rose, thereby indicating that was the park, with its mighty trees, whose the repast was at an end. The earl's stėward tops seemed entirely bathed in the morning had prepared rooms in the side-wing of the light; beyond it extended the landscape with castle for the reception of the friends. Pre- its green meadows and fields, isolated groups ceded by a footman, and accompanied by the of trees and sparse cottages, from which blue kind-hearted musician, they retired after bid- smoke was rising in straight lines. A gentle, ding the earl's family good-night.

sloping chain of hills, adorned here and there with an imposing structure, or the ruins of a castle, dating from the period of the Romans, bordered the horizon. There could be no

more beautiful view than this fertile and withal CHAPTER VI.

picturesque landscape in the full splendor of

the glorious May-time. The azure sky was A SPLENDID spring morning awakened the clear and limpid ; not a cloudlet dimmed its sleepers, who had enjoyed the most delightful noble vault, and the first vigorous sunbeams repose after the fatigues of the previous day. shed so bright a lustre, that even the broad Even the thunder-storm had been unable to shades of the dewy fields resembled large disturb their sleep. It had burst forth at mid- golden stripes, embroidered with pearls and night, but passed away very soon, and the only diamonds. At the same time, morning bad traces it had left behind were the heavy rain- filled the wide world with new life. At a disdrops now hanging on every blade of green, tance, the cock of the barn-yard uttered its and sparkling magnificently in the golden sun loud notes; the lark warbled up from the closhine. Milton was the first to awake, and had ver-field, or rang its sweet morning greetings stepped immediately to the open bay-window. down from the clouds; the industrious swalAt his feet lay the large garden, with the care lows were building their nests chirpingly on a fully and ingeniously arranged flower-beds, decayed wall, and all the other sweet singers whose sweet perfumes were wafted up to him of the forest and the fields joined in the early by the morning breeze. A whole sea of flow- concert of creation. ers and blossoms spread out before his eyes ; Amidst this beautiful and fertile landscape the warm shower of the thunder-storm had rose Ludlow Castle, a proud structure in the called forth countless buds, and transformed Norman-Gothic style. Situated on a precipithe cherry and apple trees into fragrant white tous rock, this imposing edifice, which dated snowballs. Amidst them glistened the red from the times of William the Conqueror, comdish blossoms of the chestnuts and apricots, manded a splendid view of the adjoining counand the young foliage in all its variegated try; according to the chronicler Leland, its colors, from yellow and green to the deep walls had a circuit of nearly a mile. Fortified black of the sombre cypresses, the whole re- ramparts and drawbridges protected it from sembling the palette of an industrious painter. hostile attacks. By the enormous entranceThe fresh morning breeze swept merrily over gate one penetrated into the large inner court

yard, which was surrounded by a number of j pale silver sickle of the moon, while the pin. side-buildings used for various purposes. Fur- nacles were sparkling like golden crowns in the ther back the visitor beheld the imposing front bright morning sun. From thence the rays of the ancient castle, which the hands of giants glided down the projections and pillars, here seemed to have built of tremendous blocks of illuminating a Gothic window, there lighting stone, and which had defied the corrosive power up a rose of stone or a jutting oriel. Other of centuries. Two enormous towers rose from parts, however, were still veiled in the shade, it, menacingly and imperiously; they contained until the lustre of the victorious sun gradually embrasures, and were crowned with slender divested them of their gloomy physiognomy. pinnacles. Joined to the main building, in In the depth below flashed the waters of the picturesque angles and projections, were the Teme, which surrounded the ramparts of the wings, which were of later origin than the old castle in picturesque meanderings and reflected structure, to which they had been added from its proud pinnacles. time to time. These additions imparted to the Gradually various sounds issued from the whole the charm of variety, combined with interior of the castle, and indicated the remassiveness and extraordinary extent. The awakening of life. In the neighboring stables heavy Norman lines and forms of the original neighed horses, and pointers and setters barked building were covered and interrupted by the in the court-yard; doors opened noisily, and handsome Gothic arches, pillars, and spires, many footsteps resounded on the pavement. without lessening the grandeur and dignity of At first busy servants passed hastily under the castle. Nature and art had thus combined Milton's window; next came the steward with in rendering it a truly royal residence, and the his grave air, scolding the loiterers and brandsovereigns of England had indeed owned it ishing threateningly his staff with the large since the death of its first owner, Roger Mont- silver top, whenever bis words were not gomery, and bad often personally resided there. promptly listened to. Buxom servant-girls, It was not until the reign of Henry VIII, that their cheeks still flushed with sleep, stood at Ludlow Castle had been assigned as the official | the well, chatting gayly and cleaning the residence of the Lord President of Wales. At earthen and copper vessels of the remnants of the present time the Earl of Bridgewater, who last night's supper, or filling the wooden buckfilled that distinguished position, and his fam- ets with water from the bubbling spring. Others ily, occupied this magnificent country-seat. A stepped from the stables, preceded by the statelarge number of officers, such as every noble- ly housekeeper, and carrying the new milk on man of his rank and position kept about him their heads. Idle footmen and hunting-grooms at that period, occupied a part of the wings jested with them, which excited the anger of and outbuildings. Besides, there was a small the old housekeeper and caused her to tell them garrison at the castle, to defend it, if need be, indignantly to go to work. The cook and his against foreign or domestic foes. Numerous assistants returned from the store-room, loaded guests, in those days of liberal hospitality, met with venison and meat as if they had to prewith a welcome reception in the extensive suites pare a wedding-banquet. At the head of this of apartments, of which there was no lack. culinary procession was carried the wild boar

Milton feasted his æsthetic eyes long and which the Lord President had killed with bis wonderingly on the imposing pile. A charm own hands a few days before, and whose ing clare-obscure floated round the gray old gilded head was to be the chief ornament of walls. Above the western tower yet stood the I to-day's dinner-table. In the midst of all these

persons moved grave-looking clerks and the inveigh against the Church of England, and bailiff, rent-roll in hand, to receive the rent preach rebellion against the anointed head of from a farmer or the taxes from an humble the king. But this is the consequence of the unpeasant who took off his hat in the presence timely patience and forbearance of our authorof the stern gentleman. The bustle in the ities. I would proceed against them with fire court-yard was constantly on the increase. The and sword, if I had the power of our gracious corpulent chaplain walked yawningly from his master, the Lord President.” rooms to the ball of the castle to say grace at “He is a good master, God bless him !” rethe breakfast-table. On passing the cook and plied the loyal steward, taking off his hat. his assistants, he cast a longing glance on the “But bis goodness is entirely out of place fat boar and the meats which were carried by. here. This is a time when nothing but severity The agreeable prospect of a sumptuous dinner will be of any avail to extirpate the growing imparted a highly-benevolent expression to his evil of heresy. Some members of my congreface. With a pleasant smile he thanked the gation begin also to deviate from the true path. steward, who greeted the clergyman with pro- I must speak a word in dead earnest with the found respect.

noble earl, that he may put a stop to the grow“A fine morning,” he said, trying to open a ing mischief, and that the faithful sheep may conversation with the chaplain. Splendid not be infected by the shabby ones. Henderweather. The cornfields look twice as nice son is one of the latter." after the shower as they did yesterday. With “ James Henderson from Huntington ? I God's assistance we shall have good crops this know him well; he is an industrious, prompt, year.”

and reliable man; only he is a little sullen and Yes, yes, God's goodness and patience with morose since his wife's death.” sinful humanity are great,” replied the clergy “Say rather seditious and rebellious against : man, clasping his hands.

God and his king. I know this industrious “Well, well, the world is not so very bad.” James Henderson better. Industrious he is,

“What, not so bad ?” said the chaplain, in- to be sure, but only in blasphemy, and prompt dignantly. “Have you not heard that the dis- in disobedience. Did he not assert the other senters and contemners of our Church are daily day, loudly and in the presence of a great many on the increase? Not so bad, you say, Mr. others, that no one ought to pay ship-money Buller ? And in our own vicinity there are and the tax on soap ? The rascal said these swarms of sectarians, Brownists, Anabaptists, new taxes were illegal, inasmuch as they were Familists, Antinomians, Socinians, Puritans, collected without the approval of Parliament. and whatever may be the names of the blas- Illegal, indeed! As if the king could do wrong; phemous scoundrels. And what is worse yet, and even though he should, is a subject allowed they are performing their infamous rites quite to resist him ? Does not the Bible command unconcernedly."

the people to be obedient to their rulers ? Did “You do not say so!” replied the worthy not the Saviour Himself say, 'Render unto steward, shaking his head incredulously. Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's ?? And

“What I say is as true as that it is now that Cæsar was a heathen and not a confessor broad daylight. I have been credibly informed of the true faith, like King Charles, whom God that they hold in all sorts of out-of-the-way bless and preserve for many years to come!” hiding-places, in caves and forests, their clan “But what do we have a Parliament for ?" destine meetings and conventicles, where they 1 timidly objected the steward, who, like most

Englishmen, was filled with profound reverence not resulted, as in Germany, from the intelli. for the ancient constitution of his country. gence of the people, and their conviction that “According to Magna Charta, no additional a change was indispensable. The quarrel of taxes can be imposed upon the people without Henry VIII. with the pope in regard to his the approval of Parliament.”

divorce had brought about the rupture be“H'm,” murmured the clergyman, in a milder tween England and the Roman Catholic Church. tone. “Parliament is a good institution, and in direct opposition to the German ReformaI will say nothing against it. God forbid that tion, which was based on the principle of re I should deny its privileges and prerogatives ! | ligious freedom, and strove for it alone, the But we do not speak of that just now, but of English Reformation had been forced, at least, the accursed James Henderson, who speaks dis- upon a part of the people by the arbitrary de respectfully of our most gracious king, and crees of a tyrannous king. Luther, the simple, who has not been at church, nor listened to inspired monk, ventured upon his struggle my sermons, for upward of a year. It is on against all-powerful Rome with no other suphis account that I wish to speak a word in port than that of public opinion and the Bible. earnest with our earl. As Lord President and Henry VIII., on the contrary, profited by representative of his majesty, he must inflict his royal authority and the power which was well-merited punishment on this Henderson on at his command. Personal considerations and account of his infamous sayings and doings. worldly advantages were the motives of the If he followed my advice, he would order Hen- latter, while the German Reformer commenced derson to be whipped and confined in the deep- and finished his immortal work solely in the est dungeon.”

name of truth and the freedom of conscience. “You forget that Henderson has a powerful The King of England took the place of the protectress. His daughter is the foster-sister pope in his country, but in most essential of our young lady."

points he remained a zealous Catholic, and, "I do not care for that. I shall do my duty with the exception of the pope's supremacy in regardless of her protection. It will not avail secular affairs, and of the monastic system, he him before God."

made few important changes in the old dogmas So saying, the zealous chaplain proceeded, of his Church. Thus the two Reformations as the breakfast-hour had struck in the mean differed materially at the outset. They started time. The delicious odor of fresh-baked pies from opposite points, and pursued ever after. which issued from the hall allayed his holy ward a widely different course. The religious wrath somewhat, and damped his eagerness to current which originated in Germany rose persecute the Brownists, Anabaptists, and from below upward, from the people up to the other sects, which were so remorselessly perse- nobility and princes, who promoted the Reforcuted and punished by the Church and govern- mation partly from inward conviction, partly, ment of England. The steward followed him like Henry VIII., for the sake of worldly hastily, in order to miss neither the blessing advantages. The reverse was the case in Engnor the breakfast.

land; the religious movement here extended This conversation, to which Milton had lis- from the summit to the base, from the throre tened, transferred the enthusiastic poet at once down to the lower strata of the people. The from the contemplation of blooming Nature to latter soon took in hand the reformation of the dreary religious troubles and dissensions their faith, not as a secular, but as an exclu of his times. Protestantism in England had / sively divine affair. Regardless of the motives

« VorigeDoorgaan »