STORIES AND LEGENDS
TRAVEL AND HISTORY, FOR CHILDREN.
BY GRACE GREENWOOD.
JOHN B. ALDEN, PUBLISHER,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
LEANDER K. LIPPINCOTT,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts
To my little friends, MARY and ALICE SEELYE, I wish to inscribe this volume, in remembrance of a pleasant summer spent under their father's roof—the Water Cure, at Cleveland, where a part of these sketches were written,—in remembrance of their happy, cordial faces, and of the "loving kindness" of their parents—of much genial companionship and generous sympathy.
In remembrance of the beautiful wood, with its flowery paths, its hills and dells and darkly shadowed water, where we often wandered together;—where my dear baby grew like the flowers, drinking in dew and sunshine—strengthened by fresh winds and aromatic odors,—where under fluttering forest-leaves her little face caught its first gleams of thought and tender meanings, like their glinting lights and flying shades, and her little voice seemed intoned by their silvery murmurs, the love-notes of birds and prattle of streams. In remembrance of the sweet spring in the glen, and the shady resting-places on the hill,—of the grand old oaks, and of the violets at their feet.
In remembrance of the lovely child, with whom we last visited that wood,—dear Georgiana Gordon.
GRACE GREENWOOD. CHRISTMAS, 1857.
LONDON PARKS AND GARDENS.—MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET
ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.—STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
GREENWICH HOSPITAL—THE PARK, ETC.—LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS NOBLE FRIEND
HAMPTON COURT.—THE LADY MARY'S VISION
WINDSOR CASTLE.—KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT
THE JOURNEY FROM ENGLAND TO IRELAND.—THE FISHERMAN'S RETURN
DUBLIN, HOWTH.—GRACE O'MALLEY
DONNYBROOK.—THE LITTLE FIDDLER.
FROM DUBLIN TO CORK AND BLARNEY CASTLE.—LITTLE NORAH AND THE BLARNEY STONE
A VISIT TO THE LAKES OF KILLARNEY.—KATHLEEN OF KILLARNEY
LIMERICK.—LITTLE ANDY AND HIS GRANDFATHER
WICKLOW.—TIM O'DALY AND THE CLERICAUNE
ANTRIM—THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY.—THE POOR SCHOOLMASTER
London Parks and Gardens
MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET.
After all, I think I had more real delight in the noble public parks and gardens of London than in palaces and cathedrals They were all wonders and novelties to me—for, to our misfortune and discredit,—we have nothing of the kind in our country. To see the poor little public squares in our towns and cities, where a few stunted trees seem huddled together, as though scared by the great red-faced houses that crowd so close upon them, one would think that we were sadly stinted and straitened for land, instead of being loosely scattered over a vast continent, many times larger than all Great Britain.
The English government, with all its faults, has always been wise and generous toward the people in regard to their out-door comfort and pleasure. It does not mean that they shall be stifled for want of air, or cramped for room to exercise in. Everywhere over the kingdom, the traveller sees shady parks, pleasant gardens, breezy downs, and wide heaths, open to the public, and as much for the enjoyment of the poor as the rich.
The great Hyde Park of London, has been the property of the crown since the time of Henry VIII. It was formerly walled in, and held deer for royal hunting—but in the reign of George IV. it was inclosed with an open iron railing, and is now only used for drives, promenades, rides, and military reviews.
Connected with Hyde Park, by a bridge over the Serpentine, an artificial river, are Kensington Gardens, beautiful pleasure-grounds attached to Kensington Palace, a building belonging to the royal family.
This palace was for several years the town residence of the widowed Duchess of Kent, and here her illustrious daughter, the princess, now Queen Victoria, was educated.
Strangers sometimes met the young princess walking in the gardens, or saw her sitting under the shade of the trees, accompanied by her mother, or governess. She was always very simply dressed, and always wore a sweet, gentle look on her fresh, young face.
In Hyde Park, every pleasant afternoon, there may be seen hosts of splendid equipages, and hundreds of ladies and gentlemen mounted on elegant horses, riding up and down a long, broad avenue, called "Rotten Row," which is devoted entirely to equestrians.
In Hyde Park stood the Crystal Palace—now removed to Sydenham—where it stands on an eminence, and seems in itself a great mountain of light.
A smaller, but yet a fine park, is that of St. James. King Charles I. walked through this from the Palace of St. James to the scaffold before White Hall, on the morning of his execution. He was very calm, and on his way he pointed out a tree to one of his attendants, as having been planted by his brother, the young Prince Henry, who, if he had lived, would have been king,—and poor Charles might have kept his head; which, doubtless, was of more value to him than all the crowns of all the kingdoms of the world.
King Charles II. made many improvements in this park, and took much pleasure in riding, sporting, and idly strolling here. He might often be seen with half a dozen dogs at his heels, lounging along by the banks of the ponds, feeding the ducks with his own delicate royal hands. The foolish people were greatly moved and delighted at this, thinking that a king, who could be so kind and gracious to dogs and ducks, must be a good sovereign; but they were wofully mistaken there.
Regent's Park was so named for the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV. This park is extensive, and exceedingly beautiful. It has winding roads and shady paths, ornamental plantations, clear, shining sheets of water—noble trees and fairy-like bowers, so secluded and shadowy, that the birds sing and nest in them as fearlessly as in the deep heart of a country wood.
Within this park are several elegant villas—among which I best remember St. Dunstan's Villa—the residence of the late Marquis of Hertford, about whom and this place I have heard a pretty little story, which I will tell you.
In Fleet Street, London, stands the Church of St. Dunstan, built on the site of a church of the same name, which was torn down about thirty years ago.
The old Church of St. Dunstan had a curious clock, which was considered a very wonderful piece of mechanism, almost a work of witchcraft. Standing out on the side of the church, in full view of the passers-by, were two figures of Hercules, holding clubs, with which they struck on two bells the hours and the quarters. All children took delight in watching these gigantic figures, but none so much as the little Marquis of Hertford, whose kind nurse used to take him to see them—whenever he was a particularly good boy. Every time that he saw them he would strike his hands together and declare that as soon as he was a grown man, he would buy those beautiful giants, and have them all to himself. Well, strangely enough, when the Marquis grew to be a man, and got possession of all his property, and built his new villa in Regent's Park, it happened that old St. Dunstan's Church was torn down, and that famous clock set up at auction. So, the Marquis, who had never forgotten his beloved giants, bought them, and set them up in his garden, where night and day, rain or shine, they still stand, sturdily swinging their big clubs, striking the hours and the quarters.
St. Dunstan's Villa contains fine marble statues, rare bronzes, vases, and pictures, and much costly furniture; but nothing in all the house or grounds was half so dear to the Marquis as that quaint old clock, and those uncouth giants—for the sight of them always took him back to the time when he was a happy innocent child, and thought them the most wonderful things in all the world.
Regent's Park contains The Botanical Gardens, where are to be seen almost all species and varieties of plants and flowers. In a great conservatory, I saw the Victoria Regia, the largest aquatic plant in the world. Its vast leaves lie on the water like those of the water-lily, which they resemble—and so broad and thick are they, that it is said a little girl of six years may stand on one of them, without weighing it down enough to wet her feet.
But the most interesting portions of Regent's Park are the Zoological Gardens, where are kept all varieties of beasts, birds, and serpents. I had far more pleasure in visiting these gardens than I had ever found in seeing collections of wild beasts in our own country, because the animals themselves seemed so much more comfortable and happy. I had been accustomed to see the lions, leopards, tigers, and bears cramped up in miserable little grated boxes, and looking as fierce, surly, and wretched as possible. But here they walked up and down large airy cages, or stretched themselves out in the sun, or dozed in their sleeping-rooms—with no brutal showmen to molest them, and no Van Amburgh to make them afraid—and seemed really very well to do, good-humored, and contented. Even the polar bear, who had a quiet, shady retreat, seemed to be taking matters coolly, instead of panting and lolling and tumbling about in the old uncomfortable way.
The zebras looked almost amiable, and the hyenas respectable, while the poor camels wore a far less woe-begone expression than those long-suffering animals are expected to wear. As for the monkeys, apes, and ourang-outangs, they were the noisiest, jolliest, most frolicsome set of creatures you can imagine.
In a yard by themselves, we saw several giraffes, who appeared to be having a pleasant gossipping time, overlooking the affairs of all their neighbors. It seemed to me that if they could put their necks together, they would reach almost as high as Jack's famous bean-stalk climbed.
Very curious sights to me were the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, both of whom I saw luxuriating in great vats of muddy water. This hippopotamus is an enormous animal, very clumsy in his motions, and rather indolent in his habits. He has an Arab keeper, of whom he is so fond that he will take food from no one else—will not even sleep away from him. The Arab is said to return his fat friend's affection, and by no means objects to him as a bedfellow.
A strange, piteous-looking creature was the seal, that I saw stretched on a rock at the edge of a little pond. Its eyes were large and dark and sad—so like human eyes, that I shuddered as I looked at them; for it almost seemed that the poor, helpless seal itself was a human form, bound and pinioned, and flung down there to die.
I have no fancy for serpents—indeed, to tell the truth, I detest and fear them—so, I did not visit that department.
Among the birds, I was most amused by the large collection of parrots. When I entered the gallery in which they are kept, I was almost crazed by the confusion of tongues. There were scores of parrots, parroquets, macaws, and cockatoos, all chattering and laughing and screaming together. It was like a village school just let out, or a large party of gossiping ladies over their tea.
No two were alike, except in name—for the majority were Pollies. Some were ugly, yet were vain enough to call themselves "pretty;" and some were beautiful, and sleek, and plump, though they piteously declared themselves "poor," and begged of us as we passed.
And now I will tell you a little story—something very simple in itself, but which I hope will serve to impress this chapter upon your memories.
MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET.
Mabel Howard, my little heroine, was not exactly an English girl, though she was the daughter of English parents. She was born in India, in Calcutta, where her father, Colonel Howard, was stationed for several years with his regiment. Mabel was not, I am sorry to say, a bright and blooming little maiden, though she had a sweet, intelligent face, and very endearing ways. From her birth, she had been pale, slight, and feeble. The climate was very bad for her; and, though all possible pains were taken with her health, she did not gain strength, but grew weaker and weaker. At last, when she was about nine years of age, it was resolved to send her to England, to stay with her grandparents, who lived in London. Neither her papa nor her mamma could go with her; but Katuka, her ayah, or native nurse, a kind, faithful woman, would go and stay with her always, and a friend of Colonel Howard, an officer returning home, would take charge of them both till they should reach London.
Poor Mabel's loving little heart was almost broken at the thought of being sent so far away from her papa and mamma and baby-brother; but she knew it was all meant for her good, and did not complain.
Of all Mabel's pets, she loved best a beautiful red and white cockatoo, that her papa had given her on her seventh birthday.
Bobby—for so this favorite was called—was a very knowing bird indeed—talking fluently, if not wisely, in both English and Hindostanee; and though somewhat vain of his beauty and accomplishments, and a little too selfish and fond of good living, never arrogant or surly, but the most gracious and amiable of cockatoos.
Bobby had a fine gilded cage, which hung in a shaded veranda, where the family sat in the cool morning and evening hours; so, when not talking, or talked to himself, he picked up a good deal of knowledge by listening to the conversation of others.
Everybody liked Bobby, he was so clever and comical; but Mabel not only liked and petted him, but cared for him constantly; patiently ministered to his dainty appetite, and tried always to teach him good and useful things. Indeed, I am afraid that, if it had not been for his young mistress, Bobby would have been a wicked little heathen, like other Hindoo cockatoos.
When Mabel was told that she must go to England, almost the first words which she sobbed out were, "May I take Bobby?"
"Of course, darling," said her papa; "Bobby shall go with you."
But on the morning when Katuka and her young mistress sailed, lo, Bobby was nowhere to be found! He had been stolen in his cage from the veranda, and carried away during the night, by some straggling native; and poor little Mabel was obliged to go away with a new grief weighing down her tender, childish heart. All through the long voyage, she missed and mourned for her lost pet, and, when she reached London, her good grandmamma could give her nothing that would quite take its place.
Everybody was kind to the lonely little girl, and much was done to make her well and happy. Every day her grandmamma or her good ayah took her to drive or walk in Hyde Park, or Kensington Gardens, or out on the open, breezy heaths; and Mabel soon grew better, healthier, and stronger, and a soft color stole into her pale cheeks, and deepened and brightened, day by day, like the flush of an opening rose.
Mabel dearly loved her kind English friends, but there were sometimes chill wintry days, or dull rainy evenings, when she was very homesick, and cried to see again her far-off Indian home, her papa and mamma, and little baby-brother.
At such times, she would often say to her kind ayah, who wept with her, "Ah, Katuka, if I only had poor Bobby here, it would be some consolation."
One day, when Mabel had been about six months in England, her grandmamma took her to the Zoological Gardens. She was greatly interested in seeing the animals, though she shrank away with a shudder from the tigers, of whom she had heard fearful stories in India. At last, they entered a long, beautiful gallery, all hung with bright gilded cages of gorgeous birds, mostly parrots, of many different species. As Mabel walked slowly along, admiring the pretty chattering creatures, but sadly remembering her lost Bobby, and thinking that no one of all these was half so beautiful as he, suddenly she heard, from a cage just before her, a joyous familiar cry: "Good morning, Miss Mabel!—come to bring Bobby dinner? Poor Bobby hungry!"
With a cry of delight, Mabel sprang forward and flung her arms about the cage, and kissed the crimson-tuffed head of a pretty cockatoo, thrust through the bars—Bobby's head—for it was indeed her own dear lost bird!
Sir John Howard, Mabel's grandfather, was able to buy Bobby of the Zoological Society, who had bought him of a sailor from Calcutta so Mabel had her pet again.
He seemed the same intelligent, affectionate bird as ever. He had forgotten nothing he had ever known; but he had learned some rather rough sayings of the sailors, on his voyage from India, which did not go very well with the good things his gentle little mistress had taught him. But for all that, he was a great comfort to her, and she never was homesick any more.
After a few years, Mabel's papa, mamma, and little brother came to England to live—never to return to India. Ah, there was a joyful meeting one morning, in Leicester Square. Sir John and Lady Howard were overjoyed to see their darling only son again; and he, bronzed and weather-beaten soldier as he was, felt as glad to get home as he had ever been when he was a homesick school-boy at Eton. Mrs. Howard was welcomed as a real daughter, and her beautiful little boy almost smothered with kisses. Mabel was half wild with happiness, and her parents were surprised and delighted to find her grown so healthy and handsome. The faithful Katuka kissed the hands of her master and mistress with tears of joy—while Bobby, grown impatient at not being noticed, called out sharply from his perch—"Avast there shipmates! what a hullabaloo! Bobby wants breakfast!"
St. Paul's Cathedral
STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
The Cathedral Church of St. Paul's is the largest religious edifice in London, and one of the largest in the world. It stands on high ground in the centre of the city, and can be seen for a long distance in several directions, though it is too closely surrounded by other large buildings to show to the best advantage. It is less beautiful than some of the old English minsters, but in size grander than any. It is built in the form of a Greek cross, and covers more than two acres of ground. The dome is nearly as large as that of St. Peter's, at Rome, and from every part of the vast city of London you can see it looming up toward the sky—a dark, stupendous object—sometimes gilded by the setting sun, sometimes wreathed by the mists of morning. The dome is surmounted by a cupola, called "the lantern," over which is placed an immense ball of gilt copper, weighing five thousand six hundred pounds, and bearing above it a gilt cross, weighing three thousand six hundred pounds.
The interior of the cathedral is very grand, but rather dark and gloomy, even under the great central light of the dome—except when viewed by a very clear sunshine, the rarest thing in the world in "great London town;" for what with the smoke, the fog, and the rain, the poor old sun has few opportunities of making himself agreeable to the Londoners. But when he does get a chance to shine, he seems to make the most of it, and surely nothing can be more pleasant than a right [Transcriber's note: bright?] sunny morning in London. On such a morning we visited St. Paul's Cathedral.
Before ascending to the dome, we wandered about for some time in the nave and transept, examining with much interest the monuments, statues, and tablets, erected in honor of celebrated English poets, artists, soldiers, naval heroes, and statesmen, and seeking out the famous epitaph of the noble architect, and the great and good man, Sir Christopher Wren. This is in Latin, but translated, reads thus:—
"Beneath lies Christopher Wren, the architect of this church and city, who lived more than ninety years, not for himself alone, but for the public. Reader, do you seek his monument? look around!"
About the interior of the dome are a series of pictures, illustrating the life of St. Paul. An incident occurred during the painting of these which I will relate, as a remarkable instance of presence of mind. The artist, Sir James Thornhill, painted standing on a scaffold, erected of course at a great height from the ground. This scaffold was securely built, but not protected by any railing. One day, while fortunately a friend was with him watching him at his work—having just finished the head of one of the apostles, he forgot where he was, and with his hand over his eyes, stepped hastily backward, to see how the picture would look from a distance. In a moment he stood on the very edge of the platform; another step—another inch backward were certain death! His friend dared not speak, for fear of startling him; but catching up a large brush, he dashed it over the face of the apostle, smearing the picture shockingly. Sir James sprang forward instantly, crying out:
"Bless my soul! what have you done?" "I have saved your life," replied his friend, calmly. For the next moment the two stood face to face, very pale and still, but thanking God fervently in their full, loud-beating hearts.
Within the dome is "The Whispering Gallery." This is surely very curious; the least whisper breathed against the wall at a certain point, being distinctly heard on the opposite side of the gallery, or making the entire inner circle of the great dome. After a long, weary ascent of very dirty and dark staircases, we reached the cupola, and great London and its environs lay beneath us! Oh, what a wide and wonderful view was that! It was almost overwhelming—and so bewildered me at first, that I could not clearly make out any thing. But soon that dizziness of astonishment passed away, and I began to recognize, one after another, places and buildings that had grown familiar to me. There was Hyde Park, looking at that distance like a plantation of young trees; there was Buckingham Palace, the new palace of Westminster, and the grand old Abbey. I could see the flash of the fountains in Trafalgar Square, and trace the silver winding of the Thames, through miles on miles of docks and warehouses, under dark bridges, past darker prisons, far up into the green and smiling country, and far down toward the blue and shining sea. There was the Tower, which, though not a dark or dilapidated building, always has a guilty, gloomy look,—after you know what it is. There was the Monument, towering toward the sky, in memory of the great conflagration in London, when, where those magnificent buildings now stand, were piles and masses of fire—and great flames going up in red columns, to heaven.
Brightly shone the sun on hundreds of spires and domes, cheerily lighting up all that vast scene beneath us; the wide, elegant streets, open squares and parks of the town, and the busy crowded streets and narrow lanes of the city. The kindly rays fell just as warmly and clearly into the dark and damp courts of the miserable parish of St. Giles, as on to the noble terraces and into the palace gardens of fashionable West End. Oh, the beautiful sunshine! God's manna of light—falling for the poor as well as for the rich.
While standing on that lofty balcony, I could but faintly hear that great noise of business and travel, which roars along London streets, without ceasing day or night. It was like being at the summit of a high rock, on the sea-shore, where the hoarse sound of the great waves comes up to your ear, softened to a low, deep murmur.
"Old St. Paul's," upon the site of which this noble cathedral now stands, was burned in the fire of 1660. Among the great men buried in "Old St. Paul's," was Sir Philip Sidney, the most brilliant, and the best man of Queen Elizabeth's court. Let me tell you more about him.
STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Philip Sidney was born in November, 1554. He was the son of Sir Henry Sidney, the dear friend of the amiable young King Edward VI., who died in his arms, and of the Lady Mary, only daughter of the ambitious and unfortunate Duke of Northumberland.
From his early childhood, Philip was remarkable for his genius, his beauty, his sweet and generous disposition, and the modesty and grace of his manners. Sir Fulke Greville—who was one of his schoolmates, knew him all his life, and so dearly loved and highly honored him that he directed it should be put on his tombstone, that, he was "the friend of Sir Philip Sidney"—said of him, that, while yet a child, he seemed a man, in gravity and wisdom, in steadiness of purpose, and love of knowledge, and that even his teachers found in him something to wonder at and learn, above what they could find in books, or were able to teach.
At the age of twelve, Philip corresponded with his father in French and Latin, with correctness and elegance; at thirteen, he entered the University at Oxford, where he distinguished himself by his scholarship, by his noble character, and blameless life. At the age of seventeen, having left college, he went to Paris in the suite of the Earl of Lincoln, the ambassador extraordinary of Queen Elizabeth to the court of France. Because of his high connections and reputation, and the letters which he carried from his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, he was received with much distinction. Charles IX., a courteous, though treacherous prince, and his wily mother, Catharine de Medicis, were extremely gracious to him. The king gave him an office of honor in his palace, and strove in various ways to win his regard and confidence. But Philip neither liked nor trusted him, but gave the respect and friendship of his noble heart to a more truly royal object, the brave and good King Henry of Navarre.
It was soon evident what secret object King Charles had in trying to conciliate the English at his court. It was to blind their eyes, that they should not foresee and help to arrest one of the most fearful and cruel crimes to be found in the dark history of Catholic persecution, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Charles, his wicked mother, and the priests, their advisers, chose this time when a large number of Protestants were assembled at Paris on the occasion of the marriage of the young Prince of Navarre to the sister of the King of France, for a general massacre of the Huguenots, throughout the city and kingdom. On St. Bartholomew's day the slaughter began, and lasted until many thousand Protestants—men, women, and children—were murdered, shot down and cut down in their houses, their churches, and in the open street. King Charles himself, though scarcely more than a boy, was the most brutal and blood-thirsty of all the persecutors. He stood at one of the windows of his palace, and fired at the poor, shrieking, struggling people, as fast as his carbine could be loaded. Many a brave Christian father and noble youth were laid low by his cruel shot, in those dreadful streets and courts, where the hard stones steamed with warm blood as meadows in May mornings smoke with ascending dews, and where down the very gutters, instead of swift currents of summer rain, ran sluggish red rivulets, slowly flowing from the bodies of the dead and dying, piled on either side. But though that bad and mad young king cruelly meant every shot, and though every drop of blood he shed was a guilt-stain on his soul, and every dying groan he caused was to ring on his ear and pierce his wicked heart till he died, yet, after all, he harmed only the poor, perishing bodies of his victims; their deathless souls he but early set free from mortal bondage, and hastened home to God.
But to return to Philip Sidney. During the massacre, he took refuge with the English resident minister, Sir Francis Walsingham, one of the most distinguished men of the age and court of Elizabeth.
Sir Francis had a young daughter, a beautiful, sweet-tempered little girl, in whom Philip Sidney became much interested. This child felt very deeply for the poor Huguenot martyrs. She prayed for them constantly, and wept for them tears of bitter anguish, that seemed to quench the glad sparkle of her tender blue eyes, and to wash all the rosy bloom from her soft, round cheeks.
Philip, who saw her sadness, often tried to comfort her; but her grief and her sweet, sorrowful words always so touched his own tender heart, that his manly voice trembled, and sometimes he bowed his beautiful face on her head, as it lay on his breast, and wept with her silently. And so he grew to love her; and she loved him more than all the world.
As soon as quiet was restored—a sad quiet it was—Philip Sidney set out to travel in Germany and Italy. He was glad to leave Paris, its vile court and viler king; he was sorry to leave nobody but little Fanny Walsingham.
Soon after returning to England, and when only twenty-one, Sidney was sent as ambassador to Vienna, by Queen Elizabeth, who knew how to perceive talent and worth, though she did not always reward them generously. He faithfully discharged the duties of his office, and was most honorably received by the queen on his return. But he was not of the stuff out of which courtiers are made. He was too honest, independent, and disinterested to gain wealth or power by intrigue or flattery; so, though the queen respected him, and often advised with him, he received neither gifts nor offices, but lived for several years in retirement, devoting himself to study and writing.
In 1583, he married Frances, only daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, his well remembered little friend, now grown into a beautiful woman, well worthy of his noble love. During that same year he was knighted by the queen at Windsor, and became Sir Philip Sidney.
By the time that he reached the age of thirty, the fame of his many splendid qualities—his learning and literary talent, his bravery, and, above all, his noble honesty—had spread over Europe, while in England, he was the glory of the court and the idol of the people.
There are a kind of little great men who seek to impose on you by pompous ways, proud looks, and high-sounding words; but there was no such poor pride and pretension about Sir Philip Sidney. He was gay and free-hearted, frank in his words, simple and gentle in his manner, and always earnest in the endeavor to be and do good. His writings were full of noble thought and pure, sweet feeling, worthy his true heart and his great soul.
In 1585, a wonderful tribute was paid to the talent and exalted worth of Sir Philip Sidney.
The throne of Poland having become vacant by the death of Stephen Bathori, he was invited to enroll himself among the candidates. He does not seem to have been tempted by this splendid opportunity of obtaining sovereign power and honors, but cheerfully acquiesced in the queen's will that he should remain her loyal subject. She said, rather selfishly, I think, that she "could not consent to lose the jewel of her times."
Soon after this, she appointed him to a military command in the Low Countries. Here he soon distinguished himself by skilful generalship, rare coolness in danger, and courage in action. At last, on the 24th of September, 1586, in a gallant attack on a greatly superior force of the enemy, near Zutphen, a town he was besieging, after having had one horse shot from under him, he was severely wounded by a musket-ball in the left leg.
As his soldiers were bearing him from the field of battle toward his camp, he grew very faint from loss of blood, and asked for water. It was brought to him; but just as the glass was raised to his parched lips, he caught the eye of a poor dying soldier fixed wistfully upon it. In an instant he passed it to him, without having tasted a drop, saying, "Drink, my friend; thy necessity is yet greater than mine."
Oh, in all his noble life, Sir Philip Sidney had never done so grand a deed as this! It was, in truth, a Christ-like act, though performed upon a bloody battle-field,—and it will be remembered and honored while the world endures.
Sir Philip's wound was unskilfully treated, and finally caused his death. He died at Arnheim, about the middle of the next month.
This seemed a sad closing to so brilliant a life. Far away from country and home, from his dearest friends, his beloved wife, and his darling child, with no loving one to sympathize with him in his pain, and comfort him in his sadness—to listen reverently to his dying words, to close tenderly his darkened eyes, and to weep over the pale beauty of his dead face. But we may trust, from all we know of his pure Christian life, that comforting angels were near him, whispering hope and peace to his heart—that divine love sustained him; and we may feel assured that, for the gift of that "cup of cold water" to the dying soldier, his soul drunk deep of "the waters of life that now from the throne of the Lamb," and make beautiful forever the Paradise of God.
Greenwich Hospital—The Park, etc.
LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS NOBLE FRIEND.
Greenwich, though a large market town, containing a goodly number of elegant and noble buildings, and many thousand inhabitants, appears in this age of steam to form a part of London—for when you set out from the metropolis to visit it, you seem to have hardly got comfortably seated in the railway carriage, before you are there.
Greenwich is delightfully situated on the south bank of the Thames, and is certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the vicinity of London. From the time of Edward I., the English monarchs had a royal residence here, but by the time of Charles II., this old palace had become a rather mouldy and tumble-down affair, so he commanded that it should be demolished entirely, and a magnificent structure of freestone erected in its place. We read that "riches take to themselves wings," but King Charles's riches seem to have gone off with one wing, for he had only means enough to finish that much of his new palace, and even that cost him thirty-six thousand pounds—an enormous sum for his time, or for any time, indeed. This answered his purpose tolerably well, and he condescended to reside here occasionally, when he was tired of Hampton Court and his London palaces.
No more was done to the building till the reign of William III. It had been suggested by his queen, Mary, that an asylum for old and disabled seamen should be built, and as the royal family had really no need of the palace at Greenwich, Sir Christopher Wren ventured to advise that it should be finished, and converted into a hospital. The king and queen graciously consented, and so the good work went on. The building was enlarged, beautified, and finished with simple elegance, and now there is not a more imposing palace in all England. Not only is it a princely, but a comfortable and happy home for nearly three thousand poor seamen. Here they have excellent and abundant food and clothing; skilful medical treatment, when they are ill, and their wives, as paid nurses, to attend them; a reasonable sum of pocket-money is given them to spend as they please. Here is a library, a picture-gallery, and a chapel, for their especial benefit, and a school, where their children can be educated. Is it any wonder that these veteran seamen, nearly every man of whom has lost a leg or an arm in the service of his country, should be contented and happy, in such a noble asylum as this—such a quiet and comfortable place of refuge and rest?
Near the hospital is Greenwich Park, an inclosure of nearly two hundred acres, planted principally with elms and Spanish chestnuts, many of which are very large and magnificent trees. This park is hilly, and on the highest eminence stands the Royal Observatory, where, as you know, many valuable astronomical calculations are made.
In the park, on pleasant days, many of the old pensioners can always be seen, hobbling along the shady avenues, or sitting together on the benches, under the great trees, talking over old times—telling tales of storms and shipwrecks, or more terrible still, of battles at sea.
Those who fought under the heroic Lord Nelson most love to talk of him, for he was idolized by all his men.
In the great hall of the hospital hang many pictures of him and his battles; and there also, in a glass case, are kept the clothes which he wore when he was killed—all stained with his blood. Not a man among his veteran seamen can look at these relics without feeling his dim old eyes grow yet more dim with tears. Among the pictures, there was one which, though not very fine in itself, impressed me not a little at the time, and which I still remember vividly. It represents an adventure which happened to Lord Nelson when he was a young sailor-boy, cruising in the north seas. In the picture, he seems to have wandered off in a freak of boyish rashness, far from the boat and crew, and is standing on the ice, surrounded by vast wastes and mountains of ice, alone, but in a very fearless attitude, facing a monstrous white bear, who is evidently coming up, eagerly, to hug the young mariner, yet has any thing but an affectionate expression on his ugly face. Nelson has his long knife drawn, and seems to say: "Come on; I'm ready for you, old fellow!"
I do not remember ever to have read any account of this adventure, so I cannot tell how it terminated for the bear. We know well enough that Bruin did not get the better of Nelson, for he lived to fight again and again with foes no less ferocious than the bear, though without his excuse of brute instincts and hunger. But only suppose it had been different; suppose the bear had killed and eaten the hero of Trafalgar, like any common sailor-boy, what a difference it would have made with the glory and boasting of England, and it may be, in its power on land and sea.
In the eastern part of Greenwich Park are "the barrows," very singular circular mounds, supposed to be burial-places of ancient Britons. These the English people so much respect that they will not suffer them to be opened, or even levelled.
Just without the park lies Blackheath, a large expanse of common, full a mile wide, and more than that long, I should say. Opening off from this is Blackheath Park, and here, in a lovely homelike cottage, embowered in trees and flowers and vines, I spent some of the happiest days of my happy visit in England. Oh, I so often think with a sad longing of that home, and wonder if I shall ever see it again! There is a certain pleasant window of the family parlor, looking out into the garden, and sometimes, when I sit alone at evening, I dream that I am sitting at that window, enjoying the long English twilight. I seem to see one very dear to me, flitting lightly about among the flowers, singing low, and smiling to herself, because her heart is made so glad by their beauty and their fragrance. And the flowers seem to know her, and bend to her and claim relationship with her—the roses for her bloom, the lilies for her white dress and innocent look, while the violets kiss her feet, as she passes, because she is good.
I can almost hear the good-night song of the blackbird, before he goes to sleep among the golden laburnum boughs; can almost smell the good-night sigh of the flowers, as they nod their sleepy heads and swing lazily in the evening wind.
Just across the heath lives another dear friend, Mrs. Crosland, whom my little readers know. When going to visit her, I never chose to ride, enjoying much more that walk across the heath. Here the air was always fresh and cool, and the winds, without a tree or house to obstruct them, had a bold, strong, frolicsome sweep, as though glad to be free of both forest and town.
The ground of this heath is smooth, and gently rolling. It does not grow the heather, but is covered everywhere with a firm turf of fine grass, which, thanks to frequent showers, always looks soft and green, though it is kept very closely cropped.
In pleasant summer weather there can always be seen ranged along one side of this heath, queer little pony chaises, donkey carts, goat carriages, and ponies and donkeys saddled and bridled, all waiting to be let to invalids and children, by the hour, or for the ride.
It was very amusing, on Saturday afternoons, to see school children consoling themselves for the week's confinement and study, by a wild pony trot, or a scrambling donkey gallop across the heath. Wild girls, with gipsy bonnets falling on their shoulders, and their long hair flying in the wind; wilder boys, with their satchels bobbing at their backs, their hats swung in the air, and their feet remorselessly digging into the sides of the poor little bewildered beasts who carried them.
"Great fun!" "splendid sport!" they said it was, when they dismounted and paid their six-pence, but perhaps the ponies and donkeys had an opinion of their own on the subject.
Donkey-riding is said to be a very healthful exercise, and invalids often drive out from town to the heaths, where these animals are always to be had, for the sake of a free ride in those fresh, open places.
Hampstead-heath, which lies on the other side of London, is more frequented, both for health and pleasure; and as this was the scene of the story I am about to tell, we will take leave of Blackheath, a dear, pleasant, sunny place, in spite of its name.
LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS NOBLE FRIEND.
Robert Selwyn was the only son of a poor widow, who kept a small green grocer's shop, at Hampstead.
Robert, at the period at which our story commences, was a fine, handsome, intelligent lad of twelve, with frank, engaging manners, and a warm, honest heart.
For a boy of his age, he was remarkably thoughtful and serious; he loved books more than any thing in the world, except his mother, and actually seemed to hunger and thirst after knowledge. Mrs. Selwyn was a woman of considerable education, as she had seen better days in her youth, and now she taught Robert all that she knew, beside sending him to the parish school as often as she could spare him.
The widow owned a very pretty fawn-colored donkey,—good tempered and well trained, which she used to hire out to invalids, and so added something to her little income. Every pleasant summer afternoon she would send Robert with "Billy" to the heath, telling him never to allow any wild boys or girls to ride the good little animal for sport, but to let him to invalids or very young children, and always to walk or run by his side. Robert faithfully obeyed his mother, and though bold boys and girls thought him hard and disobliging, he and his pretty donkey were in great demand among the invalids and children. Many were the sweet little girls and gentle boys that he taught to ride—trotting along beside them, up and down the heath.
One balmy afternoon, late in May, Robert was standing on the edge of the heath, leaning against his donkey, waiting for a customer. Billy always plump and sleek, was wearing, for the first time, a nice new saddle, with a fine white linen cloth, fringed with crimson, and really looked fit to carry a prince.
At length, an open carriage came slowly driving that way; it had a coachman and a footman in handsome livery, and contained a lady and a little boy. This child was about Robert's age, but looked much smaller. He was slight and delicate, and his face, which was very beautiful, was almost as white as marble, and would have been sad to look upon, had it not been for a sweet lovingness about the mouth, and a cheerful, patient spirit smiling out of the eyes.
The lady was a noble, stately person, dressed all in black, and looking as if she had seen a great deal of sorrow. She had an anxious expression on her face, and held the hand of the little boy tenderly clasped in hers.
"Oh, mamma," the child suddenly exclaimed, "may I not have a ride on that nice donkey yonder, standing by that handsome, red-cheeked boy?"
The lady sighed as she looked at Robert's robust form and blooming face, but she answered, cheerfully:—
"Certainly, my love, you may take a little ride, if the donkey and the boy seem trustworthy."
So Robert was called, and questioned about Billy, and answered so frankly and modestly, that the young invalid was soon seated on donkey-back, and gently trotting down the heath, with Robert running at his side. He liked his attendant so well, that he soon got into conversation with him, asked his name, and told him his own. Robert was a little startled, when he found that his sociable new customer was a real young nobleman—Arthur, Lord Evremond.
When they returned to the carriage, his lordship felt so much benefited by his ride, and was so much pleased with both donkey and donkey-boy, that he engaged their services for the next afternoon.
Lady Evremond had come up to London from her country-seat, where she lived in great retirement, for the best medical advice for her son, who had come home from Eton, ill, and who, young as he was, seemed threatened with consumption. Her husband and daughter had died of that disease, in Italy, and she had not the heart to take her Arthur away from England to die.
The physicians gave her hope that the child would recover; he seemed better in the air of London than on his estate, which lay low in a little valley in Devonshire. His new exercise of donkey-riding, seemed to benefit him greatly for awhile. Two or three times a week the little lord drove out to Hampstead, to take his ride on the breezy heath. He became more and more friendly and confiding with Robert, whom he never treated as an inferior. He loved best to talk with him about the good he meant to do if God would only make him well, and let him grow up to be a man. He said that if he died, the title and estates must go to his cousin, who was a wicked, wasteful man, and who would do nothing for the poor and suffering; and that, he said, was what made it hardest for him to die. Next to that, was the thought of leaving his mother; but she would soon come to him in heaven, and all her grief be over—while the sorrows that his hard-hearted cousin might cause his poor tenants, would last a long time.
When the young lord spoke so sweetly and nobly, there was always such a holy light on his beautiful face that he seemed to have become already one of God's blessed angels, and Robert was almost ready to worship him. So great was the boy's reverence for his goodness, not for his title, that when Evremond asked him to call him "Arthur," instead of "my lord," he gently shook his head, and said: "I would rather not."
After a few weeks had gone by, Robert noticed that his noble friend seemed to be getting still weaker and paler. He talked more and more earnestly and tenderly of heaven, of his papa and angel sister, and seemed to feel yet more loving pity for all the poor and suffering. He now seldom rode faster than a walk, his voice grew faint, he rested his hand wearily on Robert's shoulder, and fell languidly into his arms, when he dismounted.
At last he failed to keep his engagement at the heath. Day after day, a whole week went by, and still he did not come, and poor Robert was almost heart-broken with disappointment and anxiety. At length, to his great joy, he saw the well-known carriage coming! Alas, it was empty! The footman brought a message from Lady Evremond—her son had been taken alarmingly ill, the night after his last ride—he had been failing ever since, and now it was thought he could not live many hours. The carriage was sent for his friend Robert, whom he wished to see before he died.
Robert sent home his donkey by a friend, and sprang into the carriage, where he buried his face in his hands and wept all the way to Grosvenor Square.
He was conducted into a great hall, up a noble staircase, through several elegant rooms, filled with beautiful and costly things, strange enough to poor Robert, but his eyes were too full of tears and his heart of grief to notice them. A chamber door was opened softly before him, and Robert saw his friend lying on a couch by the window, with his head resting in his mother's lap. His eyes were closed, and his face so deathly pale that Robert thought he had come too late, and staggering forward, he fell at the young lord's feet, and hiding his face against them, sobbed aloud.
"Dear Robert; have you come?" said a low, sweet voice.
"Yes, my lord," answered Robert, joyfully.
"Oh, won't you call me Arthur, now that I am dying?" said his friend.
"Arthur, dear Arthur," murmured Robert, and that was all that he could say for weeping.
After awhile, Lord Evremond, looking up to his mother and clasping Robert's hand, said:
"Mamma, I leave you Robert; love him and take care of him; send him to school, and let him have just such an education as you would have given to me. Promise me that you will, dear mamma."
"Yes, Arthur, my beloved child, I promise but oh, my son, my darling only boy, how can I part with you!"
"Dearest mother, only think, it is for but a little while, and then we shall all be together. Kiss me now, and let me sleep, I feel so drowsy."
And he did sleep, for some time, very peacefully, smiling sweetly, as though dreaming pleasant dreams. Suddenly he opened his eyes, and reached up his arms, calling out joyfully: "Papa! sister Mary!" and died without a pang of suffering.
Ten years had passed. It was Sunday morning, and the church bell of Evremond was calling the people to worship. All were eager to see and hear the new minister, who was to preach his first sermon that day. Out of the pleasant Rectory he came, supporting an elderly lady on his arm. It was Robert Selwyn and his mother. At the church door they met a lady, who grasped them both by the hand. This was Lady Evremond.
Robert Selwyn performed the sacred rites with dignity and true feeling, and preached a noble discourse, such an one as makes men's hearts strong against sin, but soft toward the erring.
After the services, when all save she had left the church, Lady Evremond lingered for some time before a white marble monument, which stood under a high church window. The sculpture on this monument represented the young Lord Evremond, as he lay on his couch, when dying,—and an angel, with a face very like his, lovingly lifting him from his mother's arms, to bear him to heaven.
As Lady Evremond gazed on the marble image of her dead boy, she murmured:
"Have I not been true to thy trust, my son?"
Late in the dim twilight of that day, another form was kneeling beside that monumental couch. It was Robert Selwyn; and when he rose, there were tears on that sweet marble face. All night long they glistened in the pale moonlight, and sad starlight, shining through that high church window; but in the morning the happy sunbeams came softly down and kissed them all away.
THE LADY MARY'S VISION.
How well I remember one pleasant morning in September—more than two years ago, I declare!—when a merry party of us, English and Americans, met at the counting house of our noble friend, Mr. B——, to go from thence to Hampton Court. It was in the city of London that we met. This is entered from the town, which holds most of the parks and palaces of royalty and the nobility, by an old, old gateway, called Temple Bar. When the Queen is to pay a visit to the city, Temple Bar gate is closed, and she must respectfully ask admittance of the lord mayor, and he must graciously present the keys to her before she may come in. The lord mayor is the real king of London, and takes precedence of royalty in all processions in the city, as, for instance, the funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington, after it passed Temple Bar. All lord mayors are elected from the board of aldermen; they serve but one year, during which time they live in a very handsome residence, called "The Mansion House," and ride in a splendid, but rather gaudy and old-fashioned coach—something such as you have seen pictures of in the story of Dick Whittington.
Each new sovereign attends, with the court, a grand ball, given by the lord mayor, at Guildhall; on which occasion there is always a magnificent display, both on the part of the aristocracy and the citizens.
Guildhall is a large building, where the aldermen and councilmen meet, to transact business and eat good dinners. In the hall where balls and great banquets are given stand two gigantic painted figures, called Gog and Magog, which are very quaint and odd-looking, and I don't know how many years old.
"But what," you will say, "has all this to do with Hampton Court?"
Well, we started from the city, a social, merry party, of five or six; and, after laughing and chatting in a comfortable English railway carriage, for a few minutes, arrived at the station, near the palace.
The old palace of Hampton Court stands on the northern bank of the Thames, about twelve miles west of Hyde Park, and is situated in the parish of Hampton, and county of Middlesex.
In the reign of Henry VIII., when the great prelate, Cardinal Wolsey, was at the height of his power, he leased the old manor and manor-house of the Knights-Hospitallers of Jerusalem, to whom it then belonged, for the purpose of building a palace suitable to his rank and splendor. He erected a structure so magnificent, and so far surpassing any of the royal residences, that he quite overshot his mark, and roused the jealousy of the king, who bluntly asked him what he, a priest, and a butcher's son, meant by building for himself a palace handsomer than any of his king's. Then the cunning Cardinal, putting the best face he could on the matter, said that he had only been trying to build a residence worthy of so great and glorious a monarch, and that Hampton Court was at King Henry's service. The king jumped at the offer, but in return bestowed upon Wolsey the old manor of Richmond, the favorite residence of his father, Henry VII. It was observed, when the great Cardinal was going home, after this interview with his royal master, that he scowled and growled at his followers, and belabored the poor mule that he rode most unmercifully.
So, by gift from Cardinal Wolsey, Hampton Court became the property of the crown.
Edward VI. was born in this palace, and mostly resided here, during his short, but happy reign. Gloomy Queen Mary and her false hearted husband, Philip of Spain, spent their honey-moon, or rather vinegar-moon, here. Queen Elizabeth here gave several great festivals, and her successor, the mean and pedantic James I. held a great religious conference in the privy-chamber,—he, the most immoderate of bigots, sitting as moderator. Here he entertained some great French princes at one time, very handsomely; every thing being on a royal scale except the host. Here he lost his wife, Anne of Denmark, a very respectable sort of a woman, much too good for him.
Charles I., with his queen and court, sought refuge at this place from the plague, which was ravaging London. But there was another trouble that came upon him from which he could not escape, even here. Death, with his scythe, passed by the healthful shades of the country palace, but the executioner with his axe was not to be evaded.
The Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, resided sometimes at this palace; but his favorite daughter, Elizabeth, a very lovely woman, died here, and after that, it was the saddest place in all the world to him.
Charles II., with his gay court, which hardly held one honest man, or reputable woman, used to hold revels here; and stubborn James II. resided here now and then, till he was driven by a roused people from throne, palace, and country. William III. was very partial to Hampton Court, and did much to improve and adorn it. His queen here performed prodigious labors in the embroidery line, and kept her maids of honor as hard at work on chair covers and bed curtains as though they were poor seamstresses, toiling for their daily bread.
George II. and Queen Caroline were the last sovereigns who resided at this palace. It is now only occupied by the officers and servants who have charge of it, and some dowagers and poor women of rank, called in England "decayed gentlewomen." To those ladies the queen allots apartments, and they live very handsomely and comfortably, though I should think they would have rather lonely times, amid the melancholy grandeur and stillness of that deserted old palace.
Over the gateway by which we entered are carved the arms of Cardinal Wolsey, with a Latin inscription, signifying "God is my help," a lying motto, as his own words afterwards proved; for, when dying in disgrace, he exclaimed, "If I had served my God half as faithfully as I have served my king, He would not have given me over to my enemies in my old age."
We went up the grand staircase, to the guard-chamber, and from thence passed through several suites of noble rooms, hung with pictures and ancient tapestry, with frescoed ceilings, and carved and gilded cornices. The most interesting among the pictures are portraits of famous people, kings, queens, princes, heroes, and beauties, of whom we read in history.
But as there are more than a thousand paintings at Hampton Court, of course I cannot stop to describe any of these, though about many I could tell you very strange and romantic stories.
The most magnificent apartment in the palace, and one of the grandest in the world, is the great hall, which is one hundred and six feet long, forty wide, and sixty high. The roof is beautifully carved and decorated with the royal arms and badges, the walls are hung with costly tapestry, the windows are richly stained, and bear the arms and pedigree of Henry VIII. and his six wives.
From this hall we passed through another splendid apartment, called "the withdrawing room," down "the queen's staircase," into a court, containing a pretty fountain, and from thence into the gardens. These are very fine, but rather too stiffly and formally laid out to suit our modern taste. I remember one narrow, gloomy alley, of boxwood, or yew, called "Queen Mary's Walk," after bloody Mary, who used to take her evening exercise here alone, marching slowly up and down in the waning twilight, meditating, I fear, those frightful persecutions, rackings, and burnings of the poor Protestants, and trying to steel her heart against the womanly pity that would creep into it sometimes, in spite of all the admonitions of Cardinal Pole and Bishop Gardiner, and the counsels of her cruel husband.
The greatest curiosity of these gardens is a Hamburg grape-vine, supposed to be the largest in the world. It alone fills a green-house seventy-two feet long and thirty broad. It is itself one hundred and ten feet long; and is thirty inches in circumference, three feet from the ground. It often bears as many as two thousand five hundred bunches.
From the green-house, we walked down to the Thames, and then returned through a beautiful avenue of linden-trees, to the east part of the palace, where there is a fountain and a basin containing gold and silver fish. Then we whiled away another hour in the grounds, the "Labyrinth," and under the noble chestnut and lime trees in the great avenue, which is more than a mile in length, and then the golden day was over!
THE LADY MARY'S VISION,
A Story of Hampton Court.
Some ten years ago, there resided for a time, in a pleasant suite of apartments at Hampton Court, a young and beautiful gentlewoman, who was greatly beloved by all who knew her, for her goodness and her sweet and winning ways. Lady Mary Hamilton, or "the Lady Mary," as she was called by the pensioners and retainers there, was the youngest daughter of a poor Scottish nobleman, and the widow of a still poorer young officer. Captain Hamilton, soon after his marriage, was ordered to join the army in Afghanistan and for several months dared danger and death, and endured frightful hardships, in that dreadful war against a treacherous and savage people.
At last, in a skirmish among the mountains, he was seen to fall under the spear-thrust of a fierce Afghan chief, and was reported as "killed," though his body was never recovered by his victorious comrades. It was supposed that the natives had carried him off in their retreat, to plunder him at leisure.
But the Lady Mary never would give him up as really dead; and though she was very sorrowful and anxious for him, she could not be persuaded to put on a widow's dress, or cover her soft, brown hair with a widow's cap. She even refused to receive a widow's pension, professing always a firm belief that her husband was yet living.
Month after month went by, till two long years had passed, and brought her no word from her beloved George; and still she did not despair.
It was said that she was kept up by happy dreams—that her husband often came to her in her sleep, and told her to be of good cheer, and all would yet be well. However that may have been, it is certain that she never wholly lost heart.
The queen kindly offered Lady Mary apartments at Hampton Court, and she gladly accepted, for she was poor, and then, she felt that she should like the melancholy quiet of the old palace far better than the gayety and bustle of the town. And so she came to Hampton Court to live, and "wait for my husband," she said, smiling sadly, while her friends shook their heads, and whispered among themselves that "the poor dear creature was hardly in her right mind."
The lonely Lady Mary soon became a great favorite with the guards and servitors at Hampton Court. They all felt for her a tender, respectful pity, and would do any thing in their power to serve her. Being very shy, she never liked to visit the show apartments of the palace, at hours when she might meet strangers. So, the kind porter would often let her go in by herself, and sometimes even give her the keys, that she might stay as long as she pleased in any of the halls or galleries.
She was romantic and poetical, and loved much to visit the grand old hall, on summer evenings, and see the rich sunset light pour in, and then fade softly out through the gorgeous stained windows. Sometimes, she would linger here till the long twilight was over, and the starlight and moonlight struggled through the stained glass, and faintly lit up the hall, silvering over the faded tapestry and banners, glistening on the old arms and armor. Strolling up and down the hall, or seated under one of the great windows, she would think and dream, and try to forget the sorrows of her humble life in remembering the misfortunes of the great and royal ones, who had so often walked where she walked, and sat where she sat.
Once old Roger, the porter, asked her if she were not afraid to stay there, all alone by herself, so late.
"Why, no," she answered, "what should I be afraid of?"
He shrugged his shoulders, but said no more; I suppose because he did not know what to say, to such a simple, childlike question.
One lovely August evening, the Lady Mary stayed later than usual in "Wolsey's Hall."
The sunset glory faded and faded away; the twilight deepened and deepened into night; the moon and the stars looked in upon her through the great window. She was weary and sad, and the lonely stillness of that place seemed to suit her; she seemed to feel the calm moonlight in which she sat, bathing her like a soft, soothing flood. She leaned her head against the tapestried wall, closed her eyes, and thought, and thought of the great days and splendid festivals long gone by—of kings and queens, brave knights, and beautiful ladies, and—when all at once that vast hall was lighted up as though by magic! Music swelled through the arches, and a splendid court came slowly sweeping in! First walked a stout, red-faced man, all velvets and jewels, with a dark, sorrowful-looking lady on his right; and on his left, an elderly man, with a bold, haughty face, and a rich dress of scarlet velvet and ermine.
The Lady Mary recognized these as Henry VIII., Queen Katharine, and Cardinal Wolsey.
They were followed by maids of honor, gentlemen, priests, and pages.
Soon there was a livelier peal of music, and the dance began. The king danced with the most beautiful of the maids of honor, whom he smiled lovingly upon, while the poor queen looked very unhappy. So the Lady Mary knew that this fair maid must be Anne Boleyn.
When the dance ended, the gay court passed out; but again there was music, and another swept in. This was headed by a proud, stately woman, with golden hair, and cold blue eyes. She wore a sparkling diadem; her dress was of stiff brocade, thickly bestrewn with pearls and diamonds, while about her neck was a ruff so prodigious, that it alone would keep everybody at a very respectful distance. On her left, walked a handsome noble, most royally dressed, and behind came a brilliant host of beauties, pages, cavaliers, poets, and statesmen.
The Lady Mary now recognized Queen Elizabeth, the Earl of Essex, and the court.
The queen took her place upon the throne and graciously desired her court to be seated. Before them was a stage; they were to witness a play. The queen signified that she was ready, and the play began. It was "Henry VIII., or the Fall of Wolsey."
The queen seemed interested, and applauded occasionally, though the actors played badly. They were half frightened to death at appearing in that august place, before her august majesty; all but one, who went through with his part in a quiet, manly way, which did him great credit. This was the author—William Shakspeare.
At length the queen, court, and actors all went out, and there came in next, not a court, with music and pomp, but quietly and silently, a dark, sad-looking man, leading two children by the hand. These three walked up and down the hall, several times—the man talking to the children, and telling them, it seemed, something very sad, for they cried and clung to him, and then the three passed out, weeping.
The Lady Mary knew these to be Charles I. and his children, whom he had been telling, perhaps, that he might soon be put to death.
Next there came, in stillness also, a stern, haggard-faced man, in a rough, half-military dress, with a sweet delicate-looking lady, in white. She was clinging to his arm, and seemed expostulating with him very earnestly, but he shook his head, yet at the same time he tenderly smoothed her hair, with his strong hand, and playfully pinched her thin cheek, and tried to smile. Then he suddenly turned, and strode out of the hall. The lady stood a moment, looking after him mournfully, and then passed out also.
The Lady Mary knew these two to be Cromwell and his daughter Elizabeth, who often interceded with her father, for political offenders.
Again there was loud music, and again a brilliant court came pouring in. First walked a dark, dissolute-looking young man, very gayly dressed, with long curls dangling about his shoulders, handing carelessly along a pale, dispirited lady, who didn't seem to find much comfort in the queenly diadem she wore.
The ball began, and soon it was turned into a wild revel. Beautiful, but bold ladies, and reckless looking gentlemen, danced and laughed, sung and feasted, and gamed, and grew merrier and madder every minute.
The Lady Mary became frightened, for she saw that she was in the profligate court of Charles II. She tried to hide behind the tapestry by the window, but a rollicking nobleman, whom she recognized by his portraits as the Earl of Rochester, caught sight of her, and sprang forward, to drag her out into the midst of the hall! She flung his hand off, with a scream, and lo, he, the king, the queen, the court, the lights, every thing vanished!
It was all a dream!
The Lady Mary was alone in the old hall, in the silent night, now darker than before, for a cloud had come over the moon.
She groped her way to the door, unlocked it, and passed into the withdrawing room. At the further end she saw some one coming, she could not see who it was, by the dim starlight, so she asked: "Roger, is that you?"
"No, Mary," answered a glad, tremulous voice, "it is not Roger—it is I—George!"
With a wild, joyful cry, the Lady Mary sprang forward, and was clasped in her husband's arms.
And this was not a dream.
Captain Hamilton had been severely wounded, and taken captive by the Afghans. They had kept him a close prisoner in the mountains, not even permitting him to write a letter to any one, for two years. He had at last been discovered, liberated, and sent home to recover his health, which had suffered somewhat in his hardship and confinement.
On arriving at Hampton Court, whither he had been directed from London, he had been told by old Roger where his wife probably was, as he could not find her in her apartments, and was on his way to the hall, when he met her, as we have seen.
The next time that the Lady Mary visited that old hall, to walk in the moonlight, or muse in her favorite window-seat, it was observed that she did not go alone.
KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT.
One of the pleasantest excursions which a traveller can make from London is to Windsor, with its parks and grounds so wonderfully luxuriant and beautiful, and so vast in extent, and its royal old castle—certainly one of the noblest sights in all England.
This is finely situated on the Thames; it overlooks a rich and lovely country, and is seen from great distances—a grand, crowning object in the landscape.
I visited Windsor with a party of Americans, some of whom I had never seen before, and have not met since; but I always think of them with kindly interest, because I shared with them so great a pleasure. I wonder if they remember it as well as I do!
'Twas on a bright, but not unpleasantly warm day in midsummer, when the parks and gardens were in all the glory of their greenness and bloom, when fountains sparkled in the sun and birds warbled in the shade, and the sky above was clear and blue enough to make up for all the clouds and fogs I had seen since I came to England.
We went directly from the station to the Castle, a grand mass of ancient and modern buildings, towers, and turrets, and parapets—all solidly but elegantly built, of dark gray stone.
We entered through a lofty gateway, into the court-yard, from thence into a sort of guardroom, where we recorded our names in a book; and then were conducted up a great marble staircase, to the state apartments. These are somewhat jumbled up in my mind with the hosts of magnificent rooms which I have since seen in many other royal palaces; but I remember that they were all very handsome, richly furnished, and hung with fine pictures and gorgeous tapestry. I recollect most distinctly "The Vandyke Room," called so because of its containing several great pictures by that famous painter—principally portraits of Charles I. and his family. Then there is "The Waterloo Chamber," hung round with portraits of heroes and great men, and "St. George's Hall," a grand banqueting room, two hundred feet in length, and the beautiful ball-room, as brilliant as rich carving and gilding and delicate painting can make it.
Our party had permission to see not only the state, but the private apartments of the palace. These are less splendid than those great show rooms, but more tasteful, beautiful, and comfortable. Yes, comfortable—for the English, even in their grandest palaces, manage to have the dear, cosy home look and feeling about them. The Queen's breakfast parlor, looking out on a pleasant terrace, simply though richly furnished, and hung with portraits of herself, Prince Albert, and the royal children, is a very charming apartment indeed. We came to this through a long, bright corridor, lined with beautiful pictures, bronzes, graceful statuettes, and elegant curiosities, so that one could but be charmed to linger by the way. Several of the pictures represented scenes in her Majesty's life—her first council—her coronation—her marriage—the christening of the princess royal, etc.
Many palaces have such a vast, cold, awfully grand look that one fancies kings and queens must have very dull, stiff, dreary times, living in them, and must often long for a simple, snug little cottage-home, somewhere away from all their pomp and splendor. But it is not so at Windsor; I did not pity the Queen at all. I even fancied that I could be very comfortable myself, living at the palace, after getting a little used to it. Her Majesty never gave me an opportunity to test this, however.
Attached to the Castle is the beautiful chapel of St. George, in which the court, when at Windsor, attend service. Here, a place is partitioned off for the royal family, something like a box at the opera, only enclosed by a fine lattice work screen, to prevent the people, I suppose, from gazing at the Queen and Prince Albert, when they should be minding their devotions.
From the chapel we went to the royal stables, where we were shown some very fine horses and elegant equipages. There were the Queen's carriages of all varieties, and little pony phaetons, and Canadian sleighs and Russian sledges; and there were her carriage and riding horses, and Prince Albert's hunters, and the children's ponies. The stables are handsome and comfortable buildings, and are kept with the utmost care, order, and neatness. Thousands of poor people might envy the high-blooded brutes such a home as this. Some of the horses were very beautiful and graceful animals, and all were groomed so carefully it seemed no one hair was longer than the others. In almost every stall was a sleek, lazy, high-bred looking cat, either perched upon the back of the horse, dozing and blinking, or curled up in the straw at his feet, fast asleep. The grooms told us that the horses were really very fond of their feline companions, and treated them tenderly and protectingly.
From the castle we drove to the delightful pleasure-grounds of Virginia Water. Passing up a magnificent avenue, more than three miles long, we came to a height, on which stands a large equestrian statue of George III., in the dress of an ancient Roman. This is the king we rebelled against, you know. He was a domineering, stubborn, crack-brained old gentleman, but, for all that, honest and good-humored. I should not think him particularly like an ancient Roman, except in his obstinacy.
Next we came to Virginia Water, which is just the loveliest place I ever saw. Here are luxuriant plantations and gardens, summer-houses, temples, fountains, cascades, woods, walks, and drives. Here is a shining, winding little lake, with fairy-like pleasure-boats upon it, and graceful swans slowly sailing over the clear, blue waves, and looking like the reflection of small white clouds, floating in the sky above.
Virginia Water is the play-ground of royalty. The celebrated Duke of Cumberland, George IV., and William IV., amused themselves here a great deal, at an enormous and very foolish expense, sometimes. The duke built an absurd Chinese temple and a useless clock-tower. George had ruins brought from Greece and Egypt, and set up in the wood; while William, who had been a sailor, had a little vessel of war built to defend the miniature sea.
The Duke of Cumberland's clock-tower was sold to a rich country gentleman, who soon tired of it, and wished to sell it back to the crown. But King George objected to his price, and refused to buy. The owner, who was a shrewd fellow, a sort of English Barnum, said, "Very well," but immediately took means to render himself a very uncomfortable neighbor, by mounting a large telescope on the top of the tower, and coolly watching the king in all his loyal recreations. This quite enraged his Majesty; but he bought the tower on the owner's terms, who, I am sorry to say, was disloyal enough to make him pay dear for the telescope.
When Queen Victoria is at Windsor, the royal standard is seen floating from the highest tower, and strangers are not admitted to the castle. But the great park is always open to the people. Here they sometimes meet the Queen and Prince Albert walking or riding, without an escort, and so plainly dressed that those who expect to see sovereigns and princes always surrounded by pomp and show, might pass them by unnoticed. The little princes and princesses are often seen walking and playing in the grounds, also very simply dressed. They are fine, healthy, natural children, and are admirably governed and cared for. Their good mother sees that especial attention is paid to their health, and has established a wise and strict system of exercise and diet. She keeps them in the country and on the sea-shore as much as possible; she overlooks their studies, reading, and sports; she is very careful that they go early to bed, and rise in time to hear the good-morning song of the lark. As for their diet, many an American farmer's or shopkeeper's children would think it very hard if they were restricted to such simple food as these sons and daughters of a great queen are content with and thrive on; oatmeal porridge, butterless bread, a very little meat, no rich gravies,—water, milk, a limited amount of fruit, and no sweetmeats.
The Prince of Wales, who, if he lives, will be the next king of England, is an amiable and gallant young lad, but is a little too apt, I heard it said, to take kingly airs upon himself before his time. I was told of an instance of this very natural fault, in which he was taught a good lesson.
It happened some two or three summers ago, that he invited one of the boys from Eton College, which is near Windsor, to spend a day with him at the castle. This boy, though the son of a nobleman, was untitled, I believe, but perhaps all the more sturdy and manly for that, and not to be put upon, even by a prince.
All went well for a time, but at last, the prince took offence at some bit of sport, and did not restrain his temper or his tongue. The Etonian resented the insult, I am sorry to say, in the usual school-boy fashion, by a resort to blows; and being stronger than the prince, soon got the advantage of him. The attendants raised an alarm, and Prince Albert himself came to the field of battle. The Etonian, having let the little prince up, stood bravely facing his royal father.
"Why, what is the matter, boys?" asked Prince Albert.
"The matter is, your royal highness, that I have beaten your son. It was because he insulted me, and I won't stand an insult from any boy."
The prince, after inquiring into the matter, reproved young Albert; and being a soldier, did not blame the Eton boy for his want of peace principles, as you or I would doubtless have done.
There are many stories in English history connected with Windsor Castle, but none I think so pretty as that of
KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT.
About four hundred and fifty years ago, when Henry IV. was king of England, King Robert III., of Scotland, put his son James, the heir to his throne, a boy of nine years old, on board ship, to send him to France, to be educated. But the vessel was taken by some English cruisers, and the little prince carried captive to King Henry, who treacherously imprisoned him at Windsor Castle.
King Robert was a very loving father, and when the news of this capture was brought to him, as he sat at supper in his palace at Rothesay, he was so overcome with grief that he fainted and seemed about to die. His attendants carried him to his chamber and laid him on his bed, which he never left again; for when he came out of his swoon, he hid his face in the pillow, and wept, and wept, refusing to be comforted,—sending all his food away untasted, and scarcely ever speaking, except to repeat the name of his son, over and over again, in a way to break one's heart. So he took on for three days and nights, and then died.
But the prince, now King James, was not so badly off as he might have been. Though a prisoner, he was not confined in a gloomy dungeon, but had handsome and comfortable apartments, in a tower which overlooked a beautiful garden, where trees waved, and birds sang, and fountains sparkled, and flowers sent up sweet perfumes to his windows. The sun shone and the stars looked in upon him; and when a prisoner can see the sun and the stars, he cannot feel that God has quite forgotten him, or the angels ceased to watch over him. He was not left alone, or deprived of employments and amusements. King Henry commanded that he should have a right princely education. He had masters who taught him history, grammar, oratory, music, sword-exercise, jousting, singing, and dancing. He was handsome, graceful, and clever, but always most celebrated for his poetical talent. As he grew to manhood, he became one of the noblest poets of his day, and even now his verses, though quaint and old-fashioned, are very sweet, pure, and pleasant to read.
One fresh May morning, when James had been a captive in Windsor Castle nearly eighteen years, as he was looking down from his window, he saw a beautiful young lady walking in the garden. She was dressed all in white; a net of pearls and sapphires confined her golden hair, and a rich chain of gold was about her delicate throat. By her side sported a pretty little Italian greyhound, with a string of tinkling silver bells around his neck.
As she moved among the flowers, the violet looked up into her eyes, and thought their tender blue was her own reflection. The rose said to herself, "What a rich bloom I must have, if even my shadow makes her cheeks so red!" The lily had similar thoughts about her neck; while the golden laburnum thought it and the sunbeams had been the making of her hair.
This lovely dame was the Lady Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset. Of course, King James, having little else to do, fell in love with her without delay, and in a very short time told her so, by means of tender rhymes, which he sent fluttering down into her path. The Lady Jane was charmed with his verses, and found it easy to go from admiring the poetry into loving the poet. To be frank, and tell him so, she wrote a little billet, and tied it under the wing of a white dove, directing him to carry it straight to the captive's window,—and he did so. But if he had suspected what was to have come of it, I don't believe he would have gone; for it was little rest the poor bird got after that, between the two lovers, who kept him flying back and forth a dozen times a day with their fond messages under his wing.
At last, King Henry got wind of this romantic affair, and, instead of being angry; he was very glad, for he wanted King James to have an English wife. So he took him from prison, gave him Lady Jane in marriage, and restored him to his throne.
The poet-king and his noble queen were very kindly received in Scotland, and lived for some time very happily and peacefully, always dearly loving one another. But James found the kingdom in great confusion from misgovernment, and the common people very much oppressed. He bravely set himself to reform matters, trying to relieve and protect the poor, and restrain and humble the rich and powerful. His most difficult labor was to lessen the power of the great nobles, who were in fact almost kings themselves, on their own estates, and fought against each other, and even against the king, upon the slightest provocation, and often without any. They rebelled against this as being a spiteful action, and not, as it really was, a noble, kingly effort to benefit the whole kingdom. They took further offence at the levying of some taxes for the support of the throne and to carry on the government. The people being poor, and not used to paying such taxes, were easily led to believe that it was King James's avarice, and not the necessities of the government, which caused them to be exacted. So, although he was so wise and good, and had the welfare of his people so much at heart, he came to be looked upon as unjust and tyrannical, by both the nobles and the common people; and this led to a conspiracy to bring about his death.
The leader in this conspiracy was one Sir Robert Graham, a bold, ambitious man, who was greatly embittered by having suffered an imprisonment at the command of the King. He also enticed into the plot the old Earl of Athole, by promising that his son, Sir Robert Stewart, should be made king in James's place. Many others joined the plot, upon various grounds, bringing with them their followers, to whom they pretended that their object was to carry off a lady from the court. Graham went off into the far Highlands, to complete his plan, and from thence he formally recalled his allegiance to the king, bidding him defiance, and threatening to put him to death with his own hand. In reply to this, King James set a price upon the head of Graham, to be paid to any one who should capture and deliver him up to justice; but he managed to keep himself safely concealed in the mountains.
For the Christmas following this, the poor, doomed king had appointed a feast to be held at Perth. As he was about to cross a ferry on his way to attend this feast, he was stopped by a Highland woman, who professed to be a prophetess. She called out to him in a loud voice, "My lord, the king, if you pass this water, you will never return alive." The king had read in some book of prophecy, that a king would be killed in Scotland during that year, and was much struck by this speech of the old woman.
Better would it have been for both himself and Scotland had he given heed to this warning, which the old woman doubtless had better authority than her claim to prophecy for making; but he turned jestingly to a knight of the court, to whom he had given the title of "the King of Love," saying, "Sir Alexander, there is a prophecy that a king shall be killed in Scotland this year; now this must mean either you or me, since we are the only kings in Scotland." Several other things occurred which, if attended to, might have saved the king; but they were all suffered to pass unheeded.
When the king arrived at Perth, there being no castle or palace convenient, he selected for his residence an abbey of Black Friars, which made it necessary, unfortunately, to distribute his guards among the citizens, and thus make comparatively easy the execution of the design of the conspirators.
On the night of the 20th of February, 1437, after some of the conspirators, selected for that purpose, had knocked to pieces the locks of the doors of the king's apartment, carried away the bars which fastened the gates, and provided planks with which the ditch surrounding the monastery was to be crossed, Sir Robert Graham left his hiding-place in the mountains and entered the convent gardens, with about three hundred men.
The king had spent the evening with the ladies and gentlemen of the court, in singing, dancing, playing chess, and reading romances aloud. All the court had retired, and James was standing before the fire, in night-gown and slippers, talking with the queen and her ladies, when the same Highland prophetess that had warned him at the ferry, begged to speak with him, but was refused, because it was so late.