ページの画像
PDF
ePub

when they made their court, " falls ing an evergreen grove here to an old from his guarded lips. Farther, the house ready to drop, the economy and new king is despatched with the brief- hospitality of which my good old brother est notice-his acts, his travels, his will not depart from, but more reterum ordinances, and his death, receive

kept a Christmas, in which we had not only such a record as the merest offi

fewer than three hundred bumpkins every

holy-day. cial might give them; perhaps because *

« We have here a very convenient the old English courtier is too proud

apartment of five rooms together, besides to acknowledge offence on his own

a pretty closet, which we have furnished part with one who has at least re with the spoils of Sayes Court, and is the deemed the Church and commonweal raree-show of the whole neighbourhood,

-perhaps because he has in reality and in truth we live easy as to all domeslittle opportunity of knowing this self tic cares. Wednesday and Saturday absorbed and secret royalty, who is nights we call lecture-nights, when my not given to communication. The wite and myself, take our turns to read personal friendship of Charles and

the packets of all the news sent constantly James, though Evelyn's upright soul

from London, which serves us for discourse

till fresh news comes ; and so you have could not much approve of either,

the history of a very old man and his not must still have left a grudge against

young companion, whose society I have this foreign supplanter of their race,

enjoyed more to my satisfaction these and the current of the historian's life three years here, than in almost fifty begins of itself to run dry and thin, a before, and am now every day trussing up parrowed stream. His children die, to be gone, I hope to a better place." and are married ; Sayes Court, where he has so long been hospitable, is let Pepys, by this time retired to Clapto one tenant and another, and gets ham, and living with his former clerk, devastated by rude Czar Peter and William Hewer, is childless, wifeless, his train; and the old man, getting and solitary in his old age, but it is nearly eighty, goes to Wotton, to comfortable to know that the ancient which he succeeds as male representa- house of Evelyn survives in his grandtive of his family when he reaches his son. And the Admiralty clerk has full fourscore years. Gayer and more retired from all his offices-from public graphic in his letters than in his solemn life entirely, indeed-while Evelyn is and authoritative Diary, it is thus the still alert and busy, laying the foundapatriarch writes of his own household tions of Greenwich Hospital, and laestate and comforts shortly before his bouring in his vocation still, though brother's death :

the more virtuous chronicler is the

elder man, We can only judge of “My grandson is so delighted in books Samuel by his letters now, and these that he professes a library is to him the letters are epistles of edifying progreatest recreation, so I give him free

priety, grave, temperate, and modest, scope here, where I have near upon 22,000 [query 2000?] (with my brother's), and

with less hyperbole, and even less

lightness of tone, than Evelyn's own. whither I would bring the rest had I any room, which I have not, to my great re

The contemporaries seem to change gret, having here so little conv o n

character in their correspondence; it with the learned

is the patrician who now condescends Wotton (the 1

to playful self-disclosure, whereas the mentioned

Samuel of the Diary, with all his nowan

or wicked vanities, his levity, and selfhich indulgence, is lost in the decorous Mr ing- Pepys, so conscientious as to give up his Der and appointments on the abdication of his

bied; royal patron, so learned in all the arts the re

and sciences as to qualify him for the Shoes, to

President's place among the philosoI made

phers of the Royal Society, altogether D). I pass

de a notable and famous man. His old

a notable and famous man.

peering curiosity, dignified into philouthor of sophical research, sets about inquiries

plant- touching the second-sight, on which

[graphic]

sabiect there are various letters from have been a heroic king, had he but Lord Reay, and one from no less a had the fate to be a true one; Oliver, name than Clarendon, son of the born in the purple, a man to whom chancellor, and uncle to the queen, empire and rule were a natural heriand curious mathematical questions, tage; Charles II., poor vicious soul, wherein he has a correspondent no whose name it is best to speak softly, less illustrious than Sir Isaac Newton, and forget; James, unwise and limited, With Evelyn, Pepys boasts a frequent a natural-born servant, not a king; and most complimentary correspon- William, who is an institution, and dence ; nor does he want the respect- no person ; and, lastly, good roundfal salutations of learned university about Queen Anne-all except the doctors, and other magnates of the last come to the culmination and contimes; and in his learned leisure at clusion of their reign and fate during Clapham, a patron of the arts, a bene- the two contemporary lives whose factor of Alma Mater, a notable virtuoso course we have followed. A great in his own person, we look with much rebellion-an unnatural usurpationbewilderment for our ancient friend a happy restoration-a glorious revoSamuel, with his twinkling merry eyes lution follow each other in these and wicked wishes, his simple honest eventful years, and liberties and Fanity, and all his unveiled devices, for crowns lost, gained, and bartered, good and for evil. Perbaps he is crowd upon the pages of history with only another specimen of the moderat- almost unexampled speed. History, ing effects of old age-perhaps only following Sir Walter's famous prea shining exemplar of the facility with scription, can but make "a great which a man can disguise himself from stour" of it all, with here the sworded the observation of his fellows. What arm of Cromwell, and there the ausever the cause is, Pepys dies at last, tere and self-contained figure of full of honours — honours which be William, subduing the vexed and might have kept for ever, to the edifi- fiery elements, and we are fain to cation of posterity, but for these guilty turn aside to the lower range of atvolames in the Pepysian library, which mosphere, the homely domestic firbetray the respectable Samuel. Ifmament, which may indeed catch a Samuel could but have foreseen that frequent stain and cloud from those John Smith, illustrious name! hidden flying thundery vapours, but is still the afar in the profound depths of time and unchangeable human sky, with its sunnature, who was destined to bring the rise and its nightfall, constant as our hidden record of all his evil ways to own. How the common life goes on light!

through all the paroxysms of national With his own decorous and digni- existence, how the mightiest crisis of fied hand Evelyn brings his record an empire fails to overset the natural to a close. A sad record it comes to balance of a working-day, how tables be in these last years. Autumn and are spread and houses erected in spite coming winter are darkening over the of wars and rumours of wars, how wood; the leaves and the fruit fall hearts are deeper touched with the heavily graveward ; one and another old primitive emotions of nature than passes before him into the other coun- with all the politics of kingdoms-is try, and solemnly come these birth. a lesson of singular interest; and nodays, silent remembrancers of his own thing can show it more plainly than approaching end. So the old man do the books and the personages besets his house in order, commits him fore us. Public personages, good self to God, and begins to be "ex- posterity, but human men— living ceeding ill, his indisposition increas, their own immediate days one by one, ing;" and, thus devout and well ap- without much thought of your opinion pointed, the master of Wotton goes of them, and being no more influenced forth upon his last journey, takes fare- than they could help by the convulwell of his fair gardens, his incom- sions of their time. To us who can parable rarities of art, his books, and sit by, and look on, well-bred spechis labours, and all his delights— tators of a distant battle-growing goes forth, and is no more.

mightily impatient, in the mean time, Charles, who looks as if he might that no battle is made for our entertainment-it is rather difficult come back again ; but this stout old to realise the small discomposure British land, a sturdy liver, which which a battle close at hand gives to managed to breathe throughout all the accustomed nerves of the seven- that tempest, is hale and strong for teenth century; but it is well to know many a tempest more ; and it would how soon the grass grew again over not be easy to over-calculate the nathe devastated field, how quickly the tional strength and equipoise which mounds of the slain were mantled come from this fact, that we do not over with the reverent veil of nature, as a nation rush into the vortex of a and how little the daily routine and great event in public tumult and household use and wont could be dis- frenzy, but that every British citizen turbed. Nothing among us threatens and member of the commonweal has the return of such a time as that which his private life as well, and lives it produced John Evelyn and Samuel thoroughly, let public commotions Pepys: the day is over, and may not fare as they may,

THE SECRET OF STOKE MANOR: A FAMILY HISTORY.

PART II.

CHAPTER II.-SUB ROSA ; OR, THE POLISHED MANNERS.

"Uti gramen est omnis caro: ejusque omne decus instar floris agrorum!" -VULGATE.

Such the origin of the Willoughbies ever. Under the house of Hanover in the obscure dawn of British history. one of their very obscurest members Settling in the south-western counties, rose conspicuous, and finally gained a the rich soil sobering down their early title; power, place, and emolument fierceness, they became gradually sepa- accruing to many of his connections. rated into two distinct branches of The Earl of Oakleigh belonged to very opposite character: for those the great popular party, or combinain Devonshire, being the elder, tion of the friends of privilege. He richer, and more powerful, grew in had been bred a lawyer, and had every generation more firmly attached succeeded through forensic ability of to hereditary rights and accustomed no common kind, elicited by the habits; whereas, in Somerset, having events of the Jacobite risings; while gained less, the younger cherished a marrying the only daughter of a constant jealousy of their relatives. Bristol sugar-baker, and becoming They showed an eager tendency, sole possessor of his father-in-law's when occasion rose, to favour any wealth, commerce had also contrinovel claim or usurpation, especially buted to his ultimate elevation. He if that seemed likely to prevail. Tur- had been faithful through all circumbulence was their element: and no stances to his political allies, and small sagacity, doubtless, with a cor- was understood to revere the memory responding boldness of view, must of Chatham as that of a dear friend, have distinguished the Somerset Wil- whose most winning qualities were loughbies in their adaptation to events; not generally appreciated, nor easy to for they seldom emerged from a civil declare. He had ties of blood with strife, joined in a plot, mingled with the Treasury offices, as well as former a revolution, or concurred with a poli- servants in posts of easy duty, yet tical party, up to the times of William sufficient profit, suited to their years of Orange, without having in some or their past efforts; his cousins were way availed themselves of it to en- in the army, his nephews-in-law in hance their own position or resources. the navy; it was thought that he A numerous race, with equal diversity could command a future seat in the of plan, it was strange if one or other Cabinet itself, could already influence of them were not so situated as to several votes among the Peers, and reap the benefit of any crisis whatso- absolutely dispose of more in the Commons; having full sway over at and dependants. There they had a least three small boroughs, with pre- profound awe of him, scarcely justidominant importance in two shires. fied enough, at least by any precise The whole family looked up to him as acts, for personal fear; since, if a its head and representative, although pheasant had been shot before his eyes, formerly supposed to have almost a hare been carried along the road, forgotten the existence of that par- or a trespasser come tumbling over ticular line to which he belonged the fence out of the woods, his eyes Indeed, for some time, when any of would not have seen it. When all at them died childless, or quarrelled with once the earl's large hard face was their nearer relatives, or cut off their seen dimly rolling by, behind the carheirs, or made much money abroad, riage-glass, it leant back with much various members of it had shown a dignity. There was in it an utter ab. tendency of the purest kind, which sence of ordinary curiosity or common altogether excluded the idea of inter- interest, supreme indifference to all ested motives, to remember him in opinion, and marks of a self-command their wills, along with the public that had long ceased to cost any pains. charities. There were even. persons Exceedingly appropriate to all noquite unconnected with it or him, of tions of an earl, too, was the inattennames totally different-persons of tion to passing objects, the want of character so eccentric or of lives so wonder at anything above or below; secluded, as unexpectedly to bequeath the heedlessness of turnpikes and him their entire fortunes. His repu- waggons, the ignorance of rain, or tation was unspotted: there was a wind, or hot sunshine. They stared warmth and intensity about the public after him for minutes ; but hardly rose estimation of him, which might have to astonishment how it could be kept satisfied the vanity of a poet. Nor up, to questions whether it would last could the mere sneers of political all along the road for miles, or to opponents lessen it; they rather en. doubt if it would ever relax in private hanced its force. He looked severe, to the countess that sat by his side. doubtless; but the weight of so much D ifferent, indeed, had been the foranxiety for the country, the knowledge tunes or the fates of the other Wilof such solemn State secrets, so much loughbies, the elder and less active corruption, and so much factious hos- branch. They had been unhesitating tility, rendered it impossible to look Lancastrians; they had been stubborn otherwise; another aspect would have Catholics; they had been devoted Cabeen heartless. It was to those who valiers, luckless Jacobites; for anyfancied they bad claims on him, pro- thing farther, that scattered and sebably, that he appeared very cold, cluded state in which they survived distant, and elaborate; he was per- the long course of their mishaps, selhaps the very haughtiest and most dom raised them even to the confused aristocratic of living noblemen, since ranks of the country party, or to the the death of Chatham, to all among opprobrious proininence of Toryism. whom he moved; and the state, the They had in all manner of ways lost show, the loftiness of his establish- knowledge of each other, got out of ments were conspicuous : but it was sight, and grown obscure-to be exthe countess, the daughters, the porter, tinguished in exile, or, it might be, the footmen, the horses, the carriage- earn distinction in Russia, and among dogs, that were alone supercilious, the Austrians; to go abroad and disunconscious of the very air and appear wherever there was war in ground, too elevated for the common India, or at sea, or across the Atlantic. ere. The earl bowed, he smiled, he Unless as quiet squires or peaceful saw the looking people; those who vicars, taking to antique studies of had ever reached him, heard his the fathers and monumental brasses, words, or known his bounty, were or to the keeping up of ancient rights, reported to have found him the most so that if the first old English gentlegraciously condescending of all peers. man were sought, one of the olden

And it was down in Somersetshire time, or the original of the reverend only, or over in Essex, that he was Primrose, he would probably have not more popular than his household been found a Willoughby in no parti

cular shire. There was really a la- became the more curious, after the mentable want of the corporate spirit elevation of the Earl of Oakleigh ; of organisation about them all ; a vis seeing that they not only were underinertiæ seemed their best attribute at stood to represent most nearly the forhome, while it cannot be denied that gotten barons of old, but were then an apparent deficiency of intellect cha- found to be somewhat accidentally the racterised too many of them among presumptive head of this modern peertheir best friends. In fact, not a few age. Of all the various families of the had that unfortunate popularity which name, they two were alone distinguishattends misfortune like an omen, ful. ed by the same legendary motto befilling its own foresight: many ac- neath the armorial crest; a fact the quaintances, innumerable kinsmen, a more peculiar, since it displayed an tenantry by whom they were beloved, emphatic change on the old baronial whom they could ill find in their device, so cherished by all the rest, of hearts to arge, or to be strict with; an armed hand grasping a battle-axe, noisy cordiality before the face, and with the Teutonic words, “ By dint of confidential anxiety behind the back, might." For in one of the unhappy and no unwelcome advisers at all. conflicts during the old wars of the They had a cheerful homely life, fa. two Roses, a Yorkite Willoughby had miliar with field-sports, with country been wounded and taken prisoner by customs, and the neighbours; wide Lord de Merltor, who kept him caphearths, and oaken boards, and large tive in his castle; where, however, best-chambers in the gables, some- the young esquire grew enamoured of times haunted; much company, great the baron's daughter, and after no sympathy, and gradual decay. Their small anger on her father's part, with family meetings were indeed occa. peremptory denial, yet obtained her sions at which fortunate events would hand at the cost of estrangement from transpire; a return or a birth would his own family; ere the happy exseem all at once to scatter a host of ample had been yet set, when the besieging cares; the whole country White and Red Roses mingled in the was astir, all the bells rung at their union of York and Lancaster. weddings; happy recollections and It was, perhaps, to signalise this merry stories drove out the dreary junction, or to mark a freedom from ones. But in meet proportion were the enmities of either house, inspired their partings bitter ; the sound of the by the fair Rosamond's love, that, funeral-bell would sometimes smite quartering their arms together, the half a day upon their hearts; the young man assumed these new bearphantoms and the gloom returned like ings on the marriage-day. The baron avengers. And so ran obscurer every gave them his lands of Stoke, held generation the lot of these families, as from the Priory, where gentle Lady if to blot them out.

Gwen of old had raised her rustic The ancient castle of Merltor had chapel; there their heirs, about Elilong been crumbling; but it had sur. zabeth's time, rebuilt Stoke Manor vived its lords-nay, their very repre- House which had been burnt down, sentatives had disappeared; while with and made the old chapel but a part of ivied battlement and blank window, a parish church, with a tall tower and its remnant still stood on the verge of bells. A scion of this house was the Somersetshire, on an estate that had progenitor of James Henry Willoughby for ages descended in another family Atkinson, Earl of Oakleigh, who had altogether, having escheated from one assumed his wife's name by testament of the austerest Puritans to the crown, from her father. But a Jacobite and been conferred at the Revolution country baronet, the earl's uncle, a on a soldier of Dutch origin, whose man very different in most respects heirs now suffered the rain to overlook from him, had eloped from Stoke with their park. Deanstoke Priory had be- young Mary Willoughby, a distant come a private mansion, in the woods cousin of his own, who had a fortune near a little market-town ; it was at in her own right, and died early. Stoke, hard by in Devonshire, that the Their sons succeeded to the baronetcy, oldest known branch of the Willough- and to Stoke itself, so that after the bies had their property. Their position earl's son, then abroad, and after his

« 前へ次へ »