Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/The Hampdens - Part 9
AN HISTORTETTE. BY HARRIET MARTINEAU.
CHAPTER XII. WINTER STORMS IN MERRY ENGLAND.
When the winter opened, it was with the dreariest weather. The King’s friends who had escaped arrests for treason in London by stealing away to the Continent, wrote of having a fearful passage, and of having found the coldest weather in Paris that they had ever known. There was scarcely any water to be had,—so thick was the ice. There was ice everywhere. The ships in the Channel that were returning to England with crews that were counting the days till Christmas, hoping for once to spend their Christmas at home, were overtaken by storms which seemed as if they would never have an end. Bitter blasts succeeded each other like the billows of a raging sea: the sails and rigging were sheeted with ice, and the vessels became unmanageable in proportion as the hurricanes rose higher; so that there was such a scene of wreck all along the south coast as no living man remembered. Few ships arrived safe in port, and many crews were entirely lost. Such mourning was never known as among the seafaring people round our shores. On land the weather seemed to obstruct everything. The navigable rivers were frozen; the roads were blocked with snow in many places; and the excessive cold made travelling difficult and hazardous. The King had to wait for his news from York; the Scotch messengers to the Parliament could not reach their destination. In every county in England the inhabitants were in a state of suspense which threatened to spoil their Christmas. While no regular conveyance could pass to or from London, there was that dim vague sense of what was passing there which is one of the mysteries of all societies in which men have ever lived. In all times and countries there has been that unaccountable transmission of tidings on great occasions—rapid, mysterious, and generally accurate—which is described by the proverb of a little bird carrying the matter. In the remotest corners of the kingdom rumours were afloat of disturbances in London,—of danger to the King,—of the overthrow of the Church. Sometimes there were exaggerations; such as that the Papists had had a successful gunpowder plot at last, and had blown the Parliament skyhigh; and, again, that the ’prentice boys of London had captured and imprisoned the bishops; but on the whole there was a truer notion of the state of London than could afterwards be at all accounted for.
There were not many travellers on the roads at such a season; but a coachful of ladies, well escorted by horsemen, was approaching London from Buckinghamshire as fast as circumstances would admit. Lady Carewe was taking her nieces up to town, to spend the rest of the winter, as there was now no chance of Mr. Hampden being able to return home; and he was so worn by anxiety,—or his family thought that he must be,—that it was a duty to make a home for him where his duty lay. A house had therefore been engaged for the family in the Strand: and on the 10th of December the Hampden family coach entered London.
It took a longer time to reach their house, after passing Tyburn, than had been required by the same space of road in the most obstructed part of the journey. It had been easier to dig through the snow-drifts than it now was to penetrate the crowds that were collected before every great house, and from the Haymarket onwards, it was said, to St. Paul’s. At Charing Cross there was a long detention. A string of coaches from the City was passing, very slowly, down towards Westminster; and it seemed as if the procession would never end. After sixty coaches, which contained the Corporation of London, there was a long marching train. The London apprentices, including the city shopmen, walked five abreast, to the number of many thousands, the foremost ranks exhibiting a vast parchment, on which their petition was inscribed. On they tramped, more and more and more of these young men coming into view, till the children asked whether it was possible that even London could have so many apprentices as these. Again and again the march was stopped for awhile, and then resumed, while a tremendous roar of laughter or shout of wrath astonished distant hearers. The Hampden grooms became interested and excited, and they made their way down to Whitehall or further, and brought back news of what was doing. The people were making game of the bishops. One bishop had entered Palace Yard amidst jeers and angry threats; and several had been prevented from coming out. At length there was such a roar of rage from that direction, and the passions of the crowd were so evidently rising, that Lady Carewe gave orders to the coachman to draw out of the throng in any direction that was possible. The getting into the Strand was a question to be considered afterwards.
The irritable crowd was not disposed to be incommoded by the passage of the great family coach; and some began to be abusive. A voice shouted that this was a party of the Queen’s friends come to count the apprentices; and Alice looked at her aunt in dismay at the cries and gestures of some of the angry people. In a moment the mood was marvellously changed. Somebody recognised the livery; and when the news spread that this was Mr. Hampden’s coach, the crowd not only parted to let it pass, but hundreds turned to escort it wherever it might be going. When the young people alighted, it was amidst the cheers of a crowd; and as each of the City processions passed, its members caught up the cheer, so that before it was done, the young people were satisfied that their father was the greatest man in England.
“Is he not so, Aunt Carewe?” asked Nathanael.
“Perhaps you and I, and a good many more people, may think so,” she answered: “but there is a much greater number who consider another gentleman,—a friend of your father’s,—to be a greater and more important man.”
“Cousin Oliver?” asked Lucy. “They call him Lord of the Fens.”
“But Aunt Carewe said ‘another gentleman,’” observed Nathanael; “and Cousin Oliver is not a gentleman.”
“It is Mr. Pym,” Alice said. “Dr. Giles told me that he is called King Pym in London.”
“Mr. Pym is the most powerful man in this kingdom,” Lady Carewe declared; “or perhaps in any country in Europe. But he would not be so powerful, if your father were not so close a friend. It will never be forgotten that, three weeks since, there would have been bloodshed in the House of Parliament, and a failure of the hopes of the nation, but for Mr. Hampden’s gentleness and prudence and winning manners.”
“About the Grand Remonstrance, you mean?”
“Yes: it requires the most solemn patience of a religious nation to relate such a story of injuries received from the Government as that Remonstrance shows forth; and the telling such a tale of wrongs cannot but be dangerous to the King and his friends. No wonder, therefore, that his partisans in the House were angry, and provoking to the friends of the people. The fury was so great that there would have been fighting, but for the effect of one man’s noble temper and religious prudence.”
“And that gentleman was my father,” said Lucy to herself, very proudly.
Till dark the young people could not be drawn from the windows, even to eat or warm themselves; and several friends who came in by the backway, when there was not room at the front, told them that such a day had never before been seen in London. It seemed as if the whole kingdom was petitioning Parliament on the same day. It was true, there were processions still going after dark: and the flare of the torches which they carried, and the lights which were hung out from every house along the Strand, shone upon faces which were never to be forgotten. In the processions some were angry and loud, some resolute and silent, and more indifferent. At the windows and along the causeways the spectators were alarmed, or animated, or amused, according to their natures; but all were under the one solemn impression that such a day would begin a new period in England.
Lady Carewe’s brother, Sir Amyas Denton, came in at dusk. He said that the bishops had overthrown the Church that day, to a certainty. One of them went into a passion at being jeered in Palace Yard: and he hurried eleven of his brethren into a foolish revenge. They sent in a protest to their own House, not only against their being hindered in going to their seats, but against any acts of the Parliament being considered valid which should pass during their absence.
“Who was that bishop?” asked Nathanael.
“Archbishop Williams, I should imagine,” Lady Carewe replied.
“Williams, of course,” said her brother: “and he will be answerable for whatever may happen before New Year’s Day.”
“What will happen?” Alice asked.
“Possibly episcopacy may be overthrown altogether. Possibly it may be saved by the bishops humbling themselves. We may see a dozen of them on their knees at our bar in a day or two, begging pardon for their impertinence.”
“A dozen bishops on their knees!” cried Kitty, laughing: “I should like to see that.”
“I should not,” said Nathanael; and his aunt and Alice agreed with him. When the thing actually happened within three weeks, they were sorry for those who were obliged to be present to witness such a humiliation of any ministers of religion.
Other visitors told of the fury of the people against Colonel Lunsford, who had done infinite mischief this day. He had rushed among the apprentices in Westminster Hall, sword in hand, and had slashed right and left, wounding several. It was said that one man was killed.
“That one-eyed bully!” exclaimed Philip Hampden, who had just entered. “Why did not one of them close his one eye with all gentleness, and lead him home to the Tower?”
“Is he gone to the Tower? Did the King—?”
“Yes, the King sent him there. Not as a prisoner. Do not suppose that. He is gone as Lieutenant of the Tower.”
“Surely that is not possible!” exclaimed Lady Carewe.
“It is too true,” Philip declared. “My father confirmed it when I asked him an hour ago. The appointment will be annulled. The country will not endure it.”
“But will the King yield?”
“He will make no difficulty,” Sir Amyas declared. “He has become accustomed to take back his acts: and it now costs him almost as little as to forsake his word.”
“Sir Amyas Denton, do you know you are speaking of the King?” cried Nathanael, turning from the window with a kingly air of his own.
“I do, my boy; and sorry I am to remember it. We will not argue the matter now; but do you fix your attention from this night forward on the King’s words and acts, and then judge for yourself whether he is to be trusted.”
Nathanael said that other people might play the spy upon his Majesty, but he never would. His brother Philip told him that it was now the first duty of every good citizen to do what Sir Amyas Denton had said. It could not be permitted that more royal promises should be broken. Then Nathanael supposed that Colonel Lunsford would remain Lieutenant of the Tower.
“What is the truth about what Colonel Lunsford has done?” asked a lady who now entered the room, thickly veiled. It was Lady Carlisle.
“Surely, Lady Carlisle, you would be better at Hampton Court?” said Lady Carewe.
“Better anywhere than in London on such a day as this,” said Philip.
“Never mind about me: I am safe enough,” replied Lady Carlisle; “and if I were not, their Majesties’ friends must run some risks in such times. My dears, I am so glad to see you all!” she said to the young people, embracing the girls: “We have much to say to each other; but I must know now, before all things, what is the truth about Colonel Lunsford. What has he actually done?”
The story of the scene in Westminster Hall was told by degrees by one and another witness of parts of it. When Lady Carlisle was gone, it was agreed by all present that she had a right sense of the ruffianism of the man, and that there was therefore a strong probability that Colonel Lunsford would be sent adrift,—a thing which also came true within a few days. Not, however, without the army of apprentices having come armed to the doors of Parliament, challenging Colonel Lunsford to fight them now.
As it grew late the crowds went home. There were still knots of people in the road, voluble and vigorous in gesture: and there was a patrol which was understood to be established for the night: but the torches burned out and were not renewed. The shouts from the river behind ceased. It became too cold for the citizens to remain abroad without strong reason, and Mr. Hampden’s house was closed. The young people sat up till late in hope of seeing their father; but at length they gave in, and went to rest;—the more willingly because it was not certain that he would come home at all that night. On some less portentous occasions he had been detained in the House till morning.
It was not so now, however. Lady Carewe and Philip were talking by the fireside when he entered. He looked jaded and old; but he declared it was hunger that made him look so; and he sat down at once to the supper that was on the table.
It was not the time, Lady Carewe saw at once, for the conversation she desired to have with him. She was sorry; but she saw she must wait. He was so hoarse, and so exhausted after the clamour and the portentous proceedings in the House, that he must have no further fatigue, nor any working upon his feelings.
“Only this, father,” said Philip, as all rose at the end of Mr. Hampden’s supper. “Lady Carlisle has been here.”
“No doubt, Philip. She was at Pym’s house all day. It was certain that she would come also to mine.”
“Is Mr. Pym sufficiently wary about that lady?” asked Lady Carewe.
“I believe he is. My own opinion is that she is not dangerous. Not dangerous to us.”
“She came here,” said Philip, “to inquire about some of this day’s transactions: and such inquiry cannot tend to danger, and may to safety; as here she, and the King through her, is likely to learn the truth.”
“Had she no other errand?” Mr. Hampden asked of Lady Carewe.
“She spoke of Henrietta. It was natural. She always does.”
“What did she say?”
“What our own hearts have said before. She dwelt upon the innocence of Henrietta’s intentions,—and upon the poor child’s ignorance of the contents of the despatches.”
Mr. Hampden said nothing. It needed no explanation that these excuses had no bearing upon the fact that Mr. Hampden’s daughter, the wife of a Puritan patriot, had been engaged in an intrigue of the Queen’s.
“Let me ask you one question, brother,” said Lady Carewe. “Are there any circumstances, any conditions, under which you could receive our poor child under your roof again?”
“Do not say ‘No,’ father!” Philip entreated. “Harry is so unhappy! We are all so unhappy!”
“Is she unhappy, Philip?”
“There can be no doubt of it,” Lady Carewe declared. “The first fever of her passion is over. Her mere perplexity must be very great; but what is that in comparison with——Brother, I need not tell you that there is nothing in political passion which can fill the void of loneliness after a wedded life.”
“Let her stay among the friends whom she has chosen. Such is my judgment. Harry will act for himself.”
“Do you mean never to see her more?”
“I do not say that.”
“If you should enter the Government, father,” said Philip: “if you should become Secretary of State, and become a counsellor of the King—”
“That will not come to pass, Philip. The plan is too uncertain: the King’s intrigues and misadventures are warnings too strong.”
“Mr. Pym thinks so?”
“We think alike on the matter. But it does not follow that Pym may not have charge of the Exchequer some day. As to my poor daughter, when Harry’s honour permits her return, her father’s tenderness will not be lacking.”
“Bless you, brother!” “Thank you, father!” were the answers.
Though he had been standing with his lighted candle in his hand, Mr. Hampden did not go. He observed, after a moment’s musing, that he had something to say which would be best said now. Yet his voice wholly failed when he would have proceeded.
“To-morrow, brother,” said Lady Carewe. “Rest now, and speak to us to-morrow.”
He spoke now, however.
“I did not think,” he said, “to have taken any order in regard to my own remaining years. I was content to have lived to the end as I have lived for many years: but I have lost my daughter Margaret, who was a dear friend: I have lost my child Henrietta, who was very dear to me. It has pleased God to make my life very desolate—” He stopped.
“We understand, brother; do we not, Philip?”
Philip was silent and very pale.
“I am about to marry again,” Mr. Hampden resumed. “I am about to wed a lady at Reading, about whom I will communicate all you wish at another time. Sister, she is worthy of the place once filled by one whom we have mourned so long. Philip can scarcely remember his mother.”
“I do,” said Philip, in great emotion. “But, father, far be it from me to say—(if you would learn my mind upon this)—that you are not right. You have been sorely tried, and of late—”
“Truly desolate, my son, though I have had such friends as you two.”
“You need the solace,” said Lady Carewe.
“Yet more, the country needs that we should have stout and cheerful hearts, sister: and God knows, mine has of late been neither.” There was a moment’s pause, and then he said, “Her name is Letitia Vachell. And now good-night, good sister and good son!”
When the door closed after him, Lady Carewe asked, “Had you any thought of this, Philip?”
“None whatever. Is it as new to you, and as—as strange?”
“It is neither new nor strange to my expectations, Philip. When he did not marry for some years, I believed he would live as he said just now. But see how grave his countenance is, remember whether you have seen him smile since Margaret’s death, think how we have lost Henrietta, and then marvel if you can that he inclines to renew the life of his heart.”
“I am not wondering, aunt.”
“For my part, Philip, I approve it. I remember what my sister’s love for him was; and on her part I say it is a thing to be desired. Is it not so?”
Philip intimated, in the fewest words, that the times were very grave for new enterprises, involving the domestic happiness of any. He believed that a season was coming during which men’s lives would be as clouds before the wind. If, however, his father was to live to wear grey hairs, and to see his great grandchildren, this new marriage would be looked upon as a great blessing.
“Right,” said Lady Carewe. “And Philip, I know you are not thinking of danger to the interests of the eldest son—”
“Aunt Carewe, I never thought of it at all.”
“So I perceived. But if you had, I would have assured you that your due expectations will be duly regarded. As it is—”
“Aunt Carewe, where all men’s lives are precarious, mine is at risk with the rest. I cannot spend thought on what may be behind the black curtain which the Devil and the King have let down between our eyes and the prospects of England. As my father has lost daughters, he may lose sons.”
“It is not like you, Philip, to speak thus.”
“True: but I speak,—perhaps not without reason.”
“God save us from outliving you, Philip!”
“Blood was nearly shed to-day,” said Philip. “If it is not to-morrow, it will be next week or next month. And how many heads will fall like Strafford’s? Aunt Carewe, the land will be full of widows.”
They parted for the night with full hearts. The uppermost thought in both their minds was, how Henrietta’s heart would smite her when she heard the news. She would say to herself that she had made Harry a widower, and had caused a young bride to be brought home to Hampden, to fill her mother’s long sacred place.
CHAPTER XIII. MAN-HUNTING IN MERRY ENGLAND.
“You are very good to me, Philip,” was Henrietta’s word when the coach which brought her from Biggin drew up in the Strand.
“I promised my father and Aunt Carewe to bring you to them in cheerfulness and serenity, as far as depended on me,” said Philip. “You are not afraid to meet them now?”
“Not much,” she replied; but she was trembling. “But how is it that my father forgives me, if Harry cannot?”
“You will soon see whether Harry cannot,” Philip replied with a smile. “We all feel that the times are sorely perplexing to those to whom they are not wholly clear: and we who are clear must be gentle with those who are perplexed. Now, Henrietta,” he said, as the coach advanced to the door and stopped, “be open and sincere with us. This is all we ask.”
Henrietta said she never meant to be otherwise: she would now promise anything that was asked.
“What is all this?” Philip exclaimed, as he stood on the step of the coach. “The house seems to me to be guarded. These must be some of the trained-bands.”
The house was guarded, front and back: and Henrietta had to pass through rows of armed men into the hall. At the foot of the stairs there were guards; and on the landing above, where Aunt Carewe folded her in her arms. Henrietta’s confinement was so near that it was necessary to spare her from agitation, if possible. But how was it possible in these days of trouble?
These guards were friendly, she was assured. It was well that Henrietta had not arrived the day before when there really was alarm in the house. The King’s officers had come to seal up Mr. Hampden’s study, and all his papers, and his clothes, and everything that could contain evidences of treason. He and five others had been fixed on as the King’s chief enemies; and they had been impeached in the House of Lords: but this was held to be a mere form, as the accusers had broken through all rules in the conduct of the business, and the Parliament was fully resolved to protect its own leaders. The guards now present had been sent to protect the Parliament officers in the act of breaking the seals. An hour ago, the seals were removed, and care would be taken that Mr. Hampden should be safe in his own house.
Safe or not, Mr. Hampden did not come home that night. It was an anxious evening for his family. Philip came in once; and other friends succeeded each other with news. The King’s Sergeant-at-arms had been at the House almost all day. He had come by royal command to accuse five members of the Commons of high treason, and to demand their persons. There had been no debate; and no answer was given to the Sergeant-at-arms to report. The time was come when the King must be kept to strict order in his dealings with his subjects, or there would, in a week, be no Parliament at all. The House had promised to send a reply to Whitehall as soon as the conference between the two Houses on the breach of privilege of the preceding day should be over.
It was late at night before the King got his answer. His palace of Whitehall was only one of many houses to which news was brought from one half-hour to another. The diurnal writers were up all night, and the printing presses in the City were issuing sheets of news as fast as they could be worked off; so that the story of the collision between the King and the Parliament had spread far into the country by the morning. All the friends of the families of the accused members were full of excitement, and far better pleased to administer news than to sit by their own firesides, that bitter January night.
First in importance was the assurance that the accused members would not be delivered up on the King’s mere demand; but they must meet any charge that was legally advanced. One friend came in to say that he had just seen how that matter was settled. Mr. Pym and his four fellow-sufferers under the King’s displeasure had been addressed by the Speaker. The House was very full. It had been much agitated; but the extremity to which the King had gone had created a great solemnity. Every member looked grave: few conversed with each other; and those who did, spoke in a low tone. In so quiet a House, the Speaker’s voice, though neither loud nor steady, was heard by every one. When the five names were spoken, and the respective members rose and faced the chair, the command was laid upon them to attend the House from day to day till the injunction should be withdrawn: which command they received with an obeisance.
Why did not Mr. Hampden come home? his family asked with great anxiety, as the clocks struck nine.
The House was awaiting the return of the four representatives who were carrying its reply to Whitehall.
Then some one came in who had seen the deputation alight at Whitehall, and enter. Two of them, Lord Falkland and Culpeper, were friends of the King, and Privy Councillors; and the other two, Sir Philip Stapleton and Sir John Hotham, could hardly be offensive to His Majesty. What was the message they carried? It was an assurance that the House would give its earliest and gravest attention to His Majesty’s message, and that the five members would be ready to meet any legal charge against them. Then, while news was arriving that the streets were full of City soldiery, sent by the City authorities in response to the demand of the Commons of protection, Philip and another went out again, to see the deputation leave Whitehall, and to ask Sir Philip Stapleton where Mr. Hampden could be found.
For two hours the family waited anxiously for Philip’s return. Weary as Henrietta was, she would not go to rest; and no one else could think of it. At length they heard the last news that could reach them that night. The King had at once admitted the messengers; but it did not appear that he had considered what he should say. If he had, he had forgotten it. He took notice of no one of the four but Lord Falkland; asked a question, and did not wait for the answer before giving his own. He would send an answer in the morning to what the Commons had said: and he dismissed the messengers so hastily, that their coach was half-way between Whitehall and Westminster Hall before Philip could overtake it.
What of his father?
Mr. Hampden was in good health and heart. Yes, Philip had seen him. He could not say where he had seen him. A quiet night was needful to all the accused members after so memorable a day, and in face of such a day as the next. Mr. Hampden sent his love to his household, and prayed them to have no uneasiness on his account. He was firm in his innocency; and he was under the pledged protection of the Parliament, because the cause was that of the Parliament. He bade his children good night, and was himself going to rest.
His children went to rest, awestruck at the thought of their father being under public accusation as a traitor, and wondering what could come of such an impeachment of such a man, but in no way doubting of his personal safety. The war which had been so long spoken of in whispers as too probable seemed now very near. It would be fearful; but their father was safe for this night. Little did they imagine how the night was passed by the King’s household. Some of his gentlemen went to rouse the lawyers of the Four Inns with commands to form themselves into a guard early in the morning. Some went into the City to hold consultation with the chief magistrate, and demand the use of the trained-bands in the King’s service. The night was so used, that by the time the Houses met at ten o’clock, the streets and roads were swarming with armed men. It seemed scarcely likely that the day would pass over without bloodshed,—so furious were the Royalist guards at the spectacle of the trained-bands marching past Whitehall, instead of stationing themselves there. They were going to protect the Parliament. The King had miscalculated when he supposed, from his late reception in the City, that its forces were on his side.
Philip went out immediately after breakfast, having arranged with Lady Carewe for a service of messages throughout the morning, by means of the grooms.
The first tidings were simply that Mr. Hampden was in the House, looking well, and in his usual quiet spirits. After that, all the rest was astounding.
The King’s coach was ordered and brought up in great haste. The King was going to Westminster. The King was attended by an army of guards; and their insolence was so great that it was scarcely possible that the peace should be preserved. The boast among them was that the King was going to put down rebellion with a high hand: he was going to lay his grasp on his enemies in their own House, and pull them out of the very seats from which they had uttered their treasons: he was going to take such order that he should really reign from this day forward, and that turbulent men should trouble the kingdom no more.
Then came the news that the King had gone to Westminster surrounded by his prodigious armed escort, who had filled all the passages of the House, and crowded up to the very door of the Commons chamber, and within it. The King had surprised the House—or intended to surprise it—by his rapid approach and sudden entrance; but the intention must have got wind.
Lady Carewe was glad she had prevailed with Henrietta to keep her chamber this morning; for it was overwhelming, even to her, to hear that the King had himself gone down without notice, to apprehend the accused members. Strong news however is seldom or never concealed. A scream from Henrietta’s chamber told that she knew all. She had come out upon the landing, and learned from the servants what had been told below.
It was to little purpose that Philip himself soon assured her that their father was safe. “He had escaped—”
“Yes,—escaped from the King’s grasp. It was the barest escape! By some means Mr. Pym was warned of the danger; and the five members had just withdrawn when His Majesty entered. ‘Where are they?’ Why, that is what all the world is asking. What is certain is that they passed out by boat just as His Majesty descended from his coach; and that the City will take no less precious care of those five members of their House than of the choicest treasures of old London.”
Philip was, in another moment, gone. He was thirsty as on a midsummer day, and hoarse; but he was very happy. His honoured father was that day a representative of the national cause; and his proud son had no serious apprehension of any immediate personal danger. Before returning to the scene of excitement, Philip sent off a messenger to Hampden with the news. It was well that his report of Henrietta was not an hour later in date.
The agitation was too great for her, “O! if I could see Lady Carlisle for one quarter of an hour!” she sighed, when she knew what was about to happen.
She was indulged. By the river the distance was not great, and the passage was clear; and Lady Carlisle came during the hour that was her own, after the Queen’s passion at the King’s misadventure had subsided. Lady Carlisle’s heart was too full for control when she and Henrietta were alone. She answered freely the agonised questions which were put to her.
No doubt Mr. Hampden and Mr. Pym and their comrades had been in great danger of arrest for high treason. ‘How had they escaped?’—Mr. Pym had been warned. There had been distinct but ill-explained warnings for some days; but—Well! she would let Henrietta know the truth,—sure that her dear child would make no ill use of it. The Queen had roused His Majesty to this unfortunate attempt by more than entreaties,—by reproaches,—by taunts of cowardice.
“You are not in earnest!” cried Henrietta.
“Can I be otherwise, my love, on such a day as this? I heard the word ‘poltroon,’ I heard (for she spoke shrilly)—I heard her demand that he, the King, should bring her the traitors with his own hand. Ah! my love! we are all children of passion at times; and if ever I saw faces moved by passion, it has been at Whitehall to-day.”
“Did you know what the King was going to do?”
“Not precisely; but I was dreadfully anxious. It was a weary morning. The Queen seemed lost in thought, but restless. She looked at the time-piece every minute: at last she smiled in my face, and told me that by that moment His Majesty and his crown were secure. By the time the hour struck which was then about to strike, Mr. Pym (the rival king she called him) and his abettors would be under arrest for high treason. I thought I should have died: but it was necessary to act: and, Heaven be praised! the delay of the King’s coach in the crowd saved him!—saved all the five.”
“What was it that you did?”
“I sent him a note by a quick and sure hand—”
“To my father?”
“No; to Mr. Pym. I cannot tell you more: and you are not fit to hear it now. My child, let us be thankful they are safe! Yes,—safe. The people of England will never let a hair of Mr. Pym’s head be touched.”
Henrietta was infinitely perplexed: but all such perplexities must wait. The agitations of the day were consummated by Henrietta’s condition. Before night her child was born; and the child, a boy, was living, and likely to live.
It was no use now wishing, as Lady Carewe did many times, in the course of that night, that the family had remained at their lodging in Gray’s Inn Lane, or, better still, at the house at Chelsea, where they had spent some weeks of the autumn, till the troubles brought them into London. Mr. Hampden and she had thought that they could send the young people away into Buckinghamshire, if the public quarrel should ripen into war: but that Henrietta should be brought to bed in this town lodging had never been imagined. And this very night was the noisiest and most alarming that had yet occurred. Henrietta was in the quietest room in the house; but the sailors and wherrymen made almost as much clamour on the river as the citizens did in the streets. Everywhere the people were banding themselves together for the defence of the Parliament: and the assemblages in boats and on the wharves, the nautical cries, the shouts for privilege of Parliament, the cheers for the City bands, when the news spread that the King could not have their services because they were pre-engaged,—these movements broke up the quiet of the night. Then, gunshots were heard occasionally; and the river flared under the torches which traversed it in all directions.
All this was bad for Henrietta; but it was a small disturbance in comparison with what was in her mind. She wept so that it was vain to recommend sleep to her.
“Believe me,” said Lady Carewe, “we are in no serious fear for your father’s present safety. He is doubtless hidden in the City. But, if I err not, it is another thought which afflicts you now, my child.”
Henrietta’s redoubled sobs showed that this was true; and Lady Carewe went on:
“In a few short days—possibly in one single day—you and Harry will be smiling together over the folly of two young persons who did not know when they were blessed enough, and threw their bliss away. In a few hours possibly, Harry and you will be adoring this new little idol of yours. Ah yes! it is a pity that Harry was not here when his firstborn saw the light: but, this retribution over, further lamentation will be wrong.”
Harry was coming then! On this consolation Henrietta slept at last.
Harry did not come in one day,—nor in two, nor in three. The trouble of the time was answerable for this. No man could be more impatient; and his messengers brought ample evidence of it; but Mr. Hampden’s tenantry, and many more of the yeomanry of Buckinghamshire prepared to ride up to London, to the number of four thousand, to protect their member, and to offer their support to the Parliament; and they chose to have Mr. Carewe for their leader. They could not be brought up, in complete readiness for any sort of action, in less than a week. Meantime, it required all Philip’s judgment, and all his cheerfulness, to keep up the courage of the family. The King’s friends gave out at one hour that the accused members had fled to foreign countries whence they could never return, and at the next that His Majesty knew where they were lying hid, and had them as in a trap. Again, everything went wrong with the King. He gained nothing by a visit to the City, the day after the fatal Tuesday when he failed in the object for which he had violated the privilege of Parliament. Wherever he went shouts of “Privilege!” arose: copies of the Protests of the Commons were thrust into his coach: the City bands were not well affected towards him; and his seamen, whom he had supposed as loyal to the Crown as to the sea itself, openly went over to the other side. Finally, after a week, His Majesty had to hear of the return of the five members whom he had called traitors, to their seats. It was easy to go to Hampton Court or elsewhere, out of sound of the cheering; but it was useless; for the news brought of what the people of London, and thousands from the provinces were doing in Westminster was worse to listen to than the shouts themselves. Lady Carlisle related afterwards how anxiously the King inquired all the particulars of the passage of Mr. Pym and his comrades through the streets, escorted by all London; and how he caused himself to be informed of every word that could be remembered of Mr. Hampden’s speech, which opened the business of the House that day; and how scandalised the Queen was at the freedom with which a gentleman who was a mere layman spoke of the Old and of the New Testament, and of a new religion which a man might live and die for. The audacity with which this was adventured proved, Her Majesty thought, that these Puritans were given over to Satan: an opinion strengthened by the observation of some of Her Majesty’s attendants, who declared that neither Mr. Pym nor Mr. Hampden looked as they were wont. There was a fierceness in their countenances and in their discourse which made their own friends remark that they were now the King’s irreconcileable enemies.
With Henrietta, however, Mr. Hampden was not severe. Grave he now was always; stern a man might well be who had been so often trifled with and fierce any Puritan gentleman might be who had seen the word of a King so broken, and the purposes of the highest gentleman in the realm so easily shaken and so deeply depraved by the influence of a woman of strong passions, herself in the hands of a clique of Popish conspirators.
“You see, my daughter,” said Mr. Hampden, when he took Harry’s seat by Henrietta’s couch, “you see what it is to trust persons to whom superstition is more dear than the most indispensable and common virtue. You see what it is to be the messenger and tool of persons to whom power is worth any perfidy. I speak not as one guiltless in this particular. There are but few who have not been beguiled, at one time or another, into some trust or hope that the enemies of our country were repentant, or were becoming reasonable; and of those few I am not one. It is not many weeks since it seemed to me possible that this sore quarrel might be appeased, and even turned to a good use by the yielding of the King to God’s clear Providence; and I might then, but for that mode of Providence which we call accident, have become a minister of the King’s. Therefore I am far from thinking harshly of some things that you have done through a too confident trust in unworthy claimants of our trust. And as for the spirit,—the temper—”
Henrietta bowed her head, and Harry implored that that misery might never be spoken of again. Mr. Hampden replied:
“Far be it from me to speak severely of any loss of the Christian gentleness and candour and grace which are so easy in quiet days. I have trouble enough with my own spirit to pity others who are under the same temptation. Only this, my children,—this one word for you and for myself,—such passion is unholy: it must never prevail again.”
Both thought it never could. They had suffered too much. Harry added in his own mind that the King and Queen were too far disgraced to serve as idols any more; and Henrietta settled it with herself that, as her family could never hear any side but their own, and would never be able to enter into the King’s reasons and feelings, her part was utter silence on royal affairs. She did not herself understand some recent proceedings, and probably she never should. She would withdraw to the country, read no news-letters, interdict political discourse in her own house, devote herself to her child, and never offend her husband more. She must teach her child to pray for the sovereign and the royal house. Nothing could absolve her from that duty: but it should be done in secret, and so as never to offend Harry.
“How does it go with our father, do you think?” Harry asked, when the door had closed upon Mr. Hampden. “How does he look in your eyes, after being hunted for a week as a traitor?”
“Harry,” whispered she, “his looks are such that I was glad when he took this child upon his arm. I hoped the gentle feelings which he seems to have lost would come back again. Surely, Harry, they cannot be lost for ever.”
“I know not,” said Harry. “It is said that where civil war is possible there mercy dies with the first drop of blood that is drawn.”
“Civil war! Is that inevitable? And when and how will blood be drawn? Does Mr. Pym think civil war certain?”
“Not only Mr. Pym, but every sane man thinks so. The first blood does not remain to be shed. Colonel Lunsford cast the die when he drew his sword on the apprentices at Westminster. Yes, it was a low and unworthy beginning; but our trial is that precisely,—the task of contending with the low and unworthy on behalf of what is to every religious citizen noble and precious.”
Henrietta sighed; and hour by hour the best delights of her present happy days were mingled with fear and grief at the thought of civil war. Her father’s happiness did not now depend on his children as it had done: and, as for the rest, she would not think about it.