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palace, and I pledge you my word that we are highest respectability, merchants and country amusing ourselves just as delightfully as when gentlemen, have already refused to pay the the great duke still lived. Poor Buckingham! ship-money and tonnage-impost, because it is Who would have thought that you would meet raised without the consent of Parliament. If with so premature an end at the hands of an their example should be imitated by many assassin? No sooner were your remains in others, the king would have to yield. Unthe grave, than you were already forgotten. fortunately, he could do so then only by lowerSuch is the course of the world.”
ing his dignity. Parliament would act only “God grant him eternal peace !” replied the more boldly, and demand new privileges the pious lord president, clasping his hands. besides those which it has already, whereby “He is most to blame for the present confu- additional bounds would be set to the power sion and troubles, but death atones for a great of his majesty." many things. Had the king listened less read “It is true, where there is no money, there ily to the advice of his favorite, and had he is no courage either. “Point d'argent, point not always defended him so obstinately, he de Suisses,' say the French. For the time would have been on better terms with Parlia- being, however, those who refuse to pay taxes ment, and it would have been unnecessary for are imprisoned until they do pay. A jail is him to dissolve it."
the best means in the world to make such ob“Amen !” exclaimed his guest, with a stinate persons pliable and submissive. In it sneer. “However, the king gets along very blows an air well calculated to quiet and cool well without Parliament. As yet he has plenty down such hot-headed fellows. A few days' of money; the revenue raised by the soap-tax, sojourn in the Tower or at Newgate is often and the ship and tonnage money, is sufficient amply sufficient to tame the wildest of them. to defray all royal expenses. The Star-Cham- Hitherto the remedy has never failed in effectber also sees to it that the penalties and fines ing a speedy cure.” imposed on the dissenters keep the royal ex “But suppose the judges should refuse to chequer well filled. A thousand pounds more lend their hands to such persecutions ; supor less do not startle it at all, and when a pose there should yet be in England men who poor devil is unable to pay his fine, he is im- value justice higher than the good graces of prisoned at the pleasure of his majesty. He the court, what would happen then ? " may deem himself happy if his ears are not “Pshaw! The king will get along in spite cut off at the pillory, as was justly done in of them. They will be deposed in the most the case of that impudent fellow Prynne. I unceremonious manner. With some energy myself witnessed the scene, and admired the all such obstacles are easily surmounted. Our courage which the rascal displayed on that minister, Lord Wentworth, showed us very trying occasion. During the bloody operation handsomely how true this is. He is a man of he made a violent speech to the people, and great energy, strikes terror into the hearts of even the executioner was unable to shut his the rebels, and maintains law and order in the mouth. I tell you the scoundrel açted like a country. He knows how to do so, for he himmartyr, and stood there as though he expected self was formerly one of the rebellious memevery moment to be proclaimed patron saint bers of the dissolved Parliament; hence, he is of England."
most familiar with the tricks, devices, and “All you tell me only adds to my fears. I weaknesses of his former colleagues. In Inhave been told that a great many men of the dia, I have been told, they use trained ele
phants for the purpose of catching wild ones. “I do not deny it, but I should think that, Believe me, apostates are the wood out of between a Christian king and a despotic tywhich the most relentless persecutors of men rant, there is as much difference as between a of their own class may be carved. A former ploughshare and a sword. One spreads blessdemocrat may be transformed immediately ings and prosperity, the other ruin and destrucinto an adherent of the government, provided tion. Our fathers were wise enough to perthe latter knows how to arouse and satisfy his ceive this, and therefore divested royalty of its ambition. They are all venal, and Wentworth arbitrary character, without detracting from is governing now with a rigor and recklessness its dignity. Parliament is the natural bulupon which none of the old adherents of the wark against royal tyranny. Are we ourselves king would have ventured. It is said he in- to aid in tearing down this bulwark ? Tell tends even to organize a standing army. If me, what protection would be left to us in that this master-stroke should prove successful, it event ? would be unnecessary for the king to convene “The Church !” replied Sir Kenelm Digby, Parliament."
emphatically. “It always was the best coun“But in that case all the liberties of the terpoise to the encroachments of the temporal people would be lost, and none of us would be power. The popes always protected the nabetter off than the slaves in Turkey. The tions from the oppressions of their rulers. It nobility, which is at the head of society, will is the greatest bane of the Reformation that it feel the change first. We shall become noth- broke the power of the Church and took from ing but tools and servants of the crown, while it the weapons with which it always effectually at present the King of England is only chief opposed the encroachments of tyranny. The among equals, the peer of his peers. Just thunderbolts of Rome caused the kings to look at France, where Richelieu is governing tremble on their thrones.” despotically in the name of King Louis ! Are “One who hears you talk in this strain canyou desirous of having a similar state of affairs not but believe that you have really turned brought about in our own country? The Catholic, as a great many persons have asproud cardinal is putting his foot on the necks serted from time to time. I have hitherto reof the noblest families, and cuts off the most fused to credit these rumors." aristocratic heads whenever he pleases.” “Can one not be a good Protestant, then,
“The vigorous rule of one is by far prefera- and yet not shut his eyes against the great ble to the many-headed government of the advantages of the Roman Church? Will you people. You know that I am a naturalist; deny that Catholicism was a bulwark to the well, then, I bave learned from Nature that nations? I do not think you are one of those the members of a whole must be subject to prejudiced men who break into imprecations the will of the head. The stronger one co as soon as Rome and the Pope are mentioned. erces the weaker, that is a law which cannot You always seemed to me destitute of prejube overthrown. In chemistry the various dice. Hence, you will be, obliged to admit powers struggle with each other until one is that the Reformation was by far more advanin the ascendent, whereupon the others submit tageous to the princes than to the people. The to it willingly. Even among metals a certain Catholic Church was free and independent. system like this is to be found. Gold is king, Its clergy formed a consecrated army, a state iron is servant. It was so from the beginning, within the state, with almost a republican conand will always be so."
stitution. Its head, the pope himself, is elect
ed to his office, and the lowest priest can reach tacks of the wolf, in order to shear and kill this exalted position, if he possesses the neces them when he desires to get their wool or their sary talents. This secures at once the suprem- meat. Now, mankind is not an irrational flock acy of the mind over brute force. In this of sheep; it rebelled against this spiritual ser. sense Rome always resisted the encroachments vitude, the worst of all tyrannies. Even though of the princes, and its dreaded thunderbolts de- the present state of affairs may not be the hapterred the most powerful monarchs from high- piest, it is much better for us to suffer in our handed violence. What did the Reformation property and lives than our salvation. The bring us for all this? It enriched the kings protection which Rome granted to the nations and impoverished the people. The clergy lost had to be purchased too dearly. The price its independence, and thereby its influence; was freedom of conscience and thought." from being a free order, it sank to the low con “And whither has this much-vaunted freedition of servitude. The property of the Church dom led us! All England is split up into hosfell into the hands of the princes, and not into tile sects, hating and persecuting each other those of the people, and added greatly to their with the utmost ferocity. The most absurd power. Who is to shield the people now from teachings find every day more adherents and the arbitrary proceedings of the princes, since mouth-pieces. We are like degenerate sons they have lost their best protector? Brute who are unable to agree upon the division of force has taken the place of intellectual and their father's inheritance, and lacerate and murspiritual supremacy, and the justly. odious In- der each other, until no one is left to enjoy the quisition has been replaced by a far worse one. inheritance. I see farther, a great deal farther, Or do you think that the religious tyranny of than you think. Behind these religious disseuthe Star-Chamber is milder, that the fines and sions I behold already the Gorgon head of civil penalties which it imposes are less painful, and war, of a bloody struggle threatening to overthat its dungeons are not as deep and cruel ? whelm all existing institutions. The teachI repeat it, the Reformation is the real source ings of the so-called primitive Christianity of our present evils and troubles.”
begin already to bear fruit, and fanatical en“Hush, for God's sake, hush !” cried the thusiasts and cunning hypocrites derive from anxious earl. “If any one heard you talk the Bible the justification of the most infamous thus, you yourself might have to appear before attacks on property and the government. Have the dreaded Star-Chamber, and, as a secret you not heard of the Anabaptists who infested Catholic, suffer the most severe' penalties. parts of Germany ? They demanded nothing Even though you may be right in some re- less than the abolition of all privileges and a spects, you must not forget that the Reforma- division of property. Our Puritans bear the tion was the very event that brought spiritual greatest resemblance to their German brethren. freedom to the people. It gave to the people They are said to dream of a millennium, and the Bible, the unadulterated word of salvation. of the rule of the chosen people. They mean We have learned to read and think. The thereby neither more nor less than the unRoman Church is like the miser who starves limited rule of the rabble, the abolition of nobis children and keeps his riches locked up in bility, and the confiscation of our property. his strong box. It is true, it often protected The chosen people of the Lord are intent on the people from the tyranny of the princes, beheading us and taking our places. They but it did so only in its own interest, like the consider us only a host of accursed heathens, shepherd who protects his sheep from the at- | Moabites, Edomites, etc., who deserve no mercy,
and whose property, lands, pastures, gardens, í same remedies as the diseases of the human and forests, God has assigned to His true chil- body. First, try lenity, and, if it proves inefdren as rewards of their merits and piety. See, fectual, resort to vigorous, and even harsh that is what we owe to your Bible and freedom measures. The sore limb must be removed of conscience. Let the uneducated people get before mortification seizes the whole body. It hold of this two-edged sword, and you will soon is better that a putrid part be lost than the see your own life menaced.”
whole. This is my sincere opinion. I believe “Unfortunately I am obliged to admit that it is the only way for us to save ourselves, you are right, although I do not know how and preserve, as loyal subjects, our king from the evil is to be counteracted. For this reason injury and danger. But excuse me, if I leave I should like to hear your views. You are you now. I have not yet waited upon the known to me not only as a profound scholar, ladies of the house. If you permit, I will go but as an experienced statesman. What do to them now." you advise us to do in the present state of af It was with great reluctance that the earl fairs? I believe I am not mistaken in ven dismissed his guest, with whom he would have turing upon the surmise that your journey con- liked to converse further on the affairs of the ceals some other than its ostensible object, country. He himself had hitherto been unable and that a secret mission is probably coupled to form a definite opinion in regard to them, with your visit. You enjoy the implicit confi- and he was hesitating and vacillating between dence of his majesty, and are the confidential his innate mildness and the fear of dangerous friend and adviser of the queen. Archbishop events. His eminent position imposed grave Laud was formerly your guardian, and is now responsibilities upon him. He remained in his your intimate friend. Be frank with me, and study, absorbed in his reflections, without disclose your mission to me.”
coming to a definite resolution. Even the Sir Kenelm Digby kept the earl some time doubts which his visitor had aroused in his waiting for a positive reply. He deemed it soul concerning the salutary influence of the prudent to veil himself in mysterious silence. Catholic Church had made a marked impresHe neither contradicted nor confirmed the sur sion on bis mind; and, although the Protmises of his host.
estant convictions of the lord president re“You are mistaken,” he said, with a signifi- volted at the idea of Roman supremacy, he had cant smile, “ if you think my royal master has to admit to himself that his guest had uttered intrusted me with a special mission. Is any some irrefutable truths. other motive for a visit to your house needed, Meanwhile Sir Kenelm Digby was walking then, than our long friendship and the bonds with an air of great satisfaction through the of relationship, which, instead of loosening, I gallery toward the apartments of the ladies. should like to draw closer ? In truth, I have He had attained his object by the interview communicated to you only my individual views he had just had with the earl, and perhaps on the condition of our country. Possibly I gained over another irresolute mind to his may be mistaken. But as you seem to attach plans. He hated the Reformation from the some importance to my advice, I will not bottom of his soul, as it had caused the death withhold it. Hippocrates says that iron cures of his father. For the time being, however, what medicine does not heal; and where iron he deemed it prudent not to throw off the proves ineffectual, fire should be resorted to. mask and to secretly enlist friends and adIn my opinion, the ills of the state require the herents for the Catholic Church.
his refined wit and bis surpassing accomplishCHAPTER XI.
ments. He made an especially favorable impression on the countess, who was a very
handsome lady yet, and to whom he seemed THE room in which the ladies were seated to devote particular attention, without neglectwas sumptuously furnished in the style of that ing Alice even for a moment. He took part period. Mythological scenes adorned the in the conversation with his habitual ease and gilded ceiling. Venus rode in a car drawn by gracefulness. Milton, without knowing the doves and surrounded by little Cupids, who reason why, felt a most decided aversion to carried, with ludicrous faces, the arms of Mars, the guest who had come in so unexpectedly. his helmet, shield, and lance. Costly hangings It was not envy, not even jealousy, that arose of crimson silk covered the walls; heavy cur in his bosom, and filled him with distrust of tains of the same stuff flowed down over the the stranger. The poet, perhaps, was disdoors and windows. The high-backed chairs pleased with the superiority and ill-concealed were carved in the most artistic manner. Near egotism of the new-comer; or, maybe, the one of the arched windows stood a small table mysterious atmosphere surrounding Sir Kenelm beautifully inlaid with pearl and ivory. Its Digby made such a disagreeable impression upper part consisted of curiously - wrought upon him. There was something demoniacal wood, ivory, and metal, forming the most at- in his appearance and bearing. Milton could tractive figures, butterflies, flowers, and birds. not help thinking of those magnificent but A small bureau, of the same materials and poisonous flowers, which exhale narcotic odors, workmanship, stood close by. The ladies kept and, notwithstanding their beauty, make an in it their jewelry and similar toilet articles. unpleasant impression on the beholder. The Alice and her mother were seated on low dissimilitude of the two characters, destitute chairs, occupied with needlework and em of a single point of contact, was probably the broidery; opposite them sat Milton and his principal cause of this aversion. friend Edward King. At some distance from Alice perceived, first of all, with the keen them Lawes, the musician, had seated himself eye of young love, the poet's aversion to Sir at the organ, then an indispensable article in Kenelm Digby, and she tried to draw him the house of every aristocratic family. He again into the conversation, after he had been had just finished a song, which he had com silent for some time. posed at the request of the countess, and for which he was enthusiastically applauded by are probably reflecting at this moment on the his whole audience. Scarcely had the conver- promise you gave me and your friend Lawes." sation, interrupted by his performance, been “What promise ?” asked the poet, absently, resumed, when Sir Kenelm Digby came in and starting up from his reverie. paid his respects to the ladies. His attitude “Why, I should not have thought you so and bearing indicated at once the well-bred forgetful. Do you no longer remember that and accomplished gentleman, who had moved you consented to immortalize our adventure in with so much distinction at the prominent Haywood Forest ?” courts of Europe. As, in his interview with “I do, indeed,” faltered out Milton, in great the earl, he had so advantageously displayed confusion, “and I shall redeem my promise.” his statesmanship as to excite the admiration “Loquacious Fame,” interposed Sir Kenelm, of his host, so he now delighted the ladies by “has informed me of your adventure, noble
or “Well, Mr. Milton," she said, playfully, “ you