The Last of the Barons — Volume 05
54 Pages
English
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The Last of the Barons — Volume 05

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54 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg EBook Last Of The Barons, by Lytton, Volume 5. #146 in our series by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
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Title: The Last Of The Barons, Volume 5.
Author: Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Release Date: March 2005 [EBook #7719] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first
posted on May 6, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LAST OF THE BARONS, V5 ***
This eBook was produced by Tapio Riikonen and David Widger, widger@cecomet.net BOOK V. CHAPTER I.
RURAL ENGLAND IN THE MIDDLE AGES—NOBLE VISITORS SEEK THE CASTLE OF MIDDLEHAM.
Autumn had succeeded to ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook Last Of The Barons,by Lytton, Volume 5. #146 in our series by EdwardBulwer-LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: The Last Of The Barons, Volume 5.
Author: Edward Bulwer-LyttonRelease Date: March 2005 [EBook #7719] [Yes,we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on May 6, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK LAST OF THE BARONS, V5*** This eBook was produced by Tapio Riikonen andDavid Widger, widger@cecomet.netBOOK V.
CHAPTER I.RURAL ENGLAND IN THE MIDDLE AGES—NOBLE VISITORS SEEK THE CASTLE OFMIDDLEHAM.Autumn had succeeded to summer, winter toautumn, and the spring of 1468 was green inEngland, when a gallant cavalcade was seen slowlywinding the ascent of a long and gradual hill,towards the decline of day. Different, indeed, fromthe aspect which that part of the country nowpresents was the landscape that lay around them,bathed in the smiles of the westering sun. In avalley to the left, a full view of which the steep roadcommanded (where now roars the din of tradethrough a thousand factories), lay a long, secludedvillage. The houses, if so they might be called,were constructed entirely of wood, and that of themore perishable kind,—willow, sallow, elm, andplum- tree. Not one could boast a chimney; but thesmoke from the single fire in each, after dulydarkening the atmosphere within, sent itssurplusage lazily and fitfully through a circularaperture in the roof. In fact, there was long in theprovinces a prejudice against chimneys! Thesmoke was considered good both for house andowner; the first it was supposed to season, and thelast to guard "from rheums, catarrhs, and poses."[So worthy Hollinshed, Book II. c. 22.—"Then hadwe none but reredosses, and our heads did never
ache. For as the smoke, in those days, wassupposed to be a sufficient hardening for thetimber of the house, so it was reputed a far bettermedicine to keep the goodman and his familie fromthe quacke, or pose, wherewith as then very fewwere oft acquainted."] Neither did one of thesehabitations boast the comfort of a glazed window,the substitute being lattice, or chequer-work,—even in the house of the franklin, which rosestatelily above the rest, encompassed with barnsand outsheds. And yet greatly should we err did weconceive that these deficiencies were an index tothe general condition of the working class. Farbetter off was the labourer when employed, thannow. Wages were enormously high, meatextremely low; [See Hallam: Middle Ages, Chap.xx. Part II. So also Hollinsbed, Book XI., c. 12,comments on the amazement of the Spaniards, inQueen Mary's time, when they saw "what large dietwas used in these so homelie cottages," andreports one of the Spaniards to have said, "TheseEnglish have their houses of sticks and dirt, butthey fare commonlie so well as the king!"] and ourmotherland bountifully maintained her children.On that greensward, before the village (now fouland reeking with the squalid population whomcommerce rears up,—the victims, as the movers,of the modern world) were assembled youth andage; for it was a holiday evening, and the sternPuritan had not yet risen to sour the face of Mirth.Well clad in leathern jerkin, or even broadcloth, theyoung peasants vied with each other in quoits andwrestling; while the merry laughter of the girls, in
their gay-coloured kirtles and ribboned hair, roseoft and cheerily to the ears of the cavalcade. Froma gentle eminence beyond the village, and halfveiled by trees, on which the first verdure of springwas budding (where now, around the gin-shop,gather the fierce and sickly children of toil and ofdiscontent), rose the venerable walls of amonastery, and the chime of its heavy bell swungfar and sweet over the pastoral landscape. To theright of the road (where now stands the sobermeeting-house) was one of those small shrines sofrequent in Italy, with an image of the Virgin gaudilypainted, and before it each cavalier in theprocession halted an instant to cross himself andmutter an ave. Beyond, still to the right, extendedvast chains of woodland, interspersed with strips ofpasture, upon which numerous flocks weregrazing, with horses, as yet unbroken to bit andselle, that neighed and snorted as they caughtscent of their more civilized brethren pacing up theroad.In front of the cavalcade rode two, evidently ofsuperior rank to the rest,—the one small and slight,with his long hair flowing over his shoulders; andthe other, though still young, many years older,and indicating his clerical profession by theabsence of all love-locks, compensated by a curledand glossy beard, trimmed with the greatest care.But the dress of the ecclesiastic was as littleaccording to our modern notions of what beseemsthe Church as can well be conceived: his tunic andsurcoat, of a rich amber, contrasted well with theclear darkness of his complexion; his piked shoes,
or beakers, as they were called, turned up half-wayto the knee; the buckles of his dress were of gold,inlaid with gems; and the housings of his horse,which was of great power, were edged with goldfringe. By the side of his steed walked a tallgreyhound, upon which he ever and anon glancedwith affection. Behind these rode two gentlemen,whose golden spurs announced knighthood; andthen followed a long train of squires and pages,richly clad and accoutred, bearing generally theNevile badge of the Bull; though interspersedamongst the retinue might be seen the grim Boar'shead, which Richard of Gloucester, in right of hisduchy, had assumed as his cognizance."Nay, sweet prince," said the ecclesiastic, "I praythee to consider that a greyhound is far more of agentleman than any other of the canine species.Mark his stately yet delicate length of limb, hissleek coat, his keen eye, his haughty neck.""These are but the externals, my noble friend. Willthe greyhound attack the lion, as our mastiff doth?The true character of the gentleman is to know nofear, and to rush through all danger at the throat ofhis foe; wherefore I uphold the dignity of themastiff above all his tribe, though others have adaintier hide and a statelier crest. Enough of suchmatters, archbishop,—we are nearing Middleham.""The saints be praised! for I am hungered,"observed the archbishop, piously: "but, sooth tosay, my cook at the More far excelleth what wecan hope to find at the board of my brother. He
hath some faults, our Warwick! Hasty andcareless, he hath not thought eno' of the blessingshe might enjoy, and many a poor abbot hathdaintier fare on his humble table.""Oh, George Nevile! who that heard thee, whenthou talkest of hounds and interments, [entremets(side dishes)] would recognize the Lord Chancellorof England,—the most learned dignitary, the mostsubtle statesman?""And oh, Richard Plantagenet!" retorted thearchbishop, dropping the mincing and affectedtone, which he, in common with the coxcombs ofthat day, usually assumed, "who that heard theewhen thou talkest of humility and devotion, wouldrecognize the sternest heart and the most daringambition God ever gave to prince?"Richard started at these words, and his eye shotfire as it met the keen calm glance of the prelate."Nay, your Grace wrongs me," he said, gnawinghis lip,—"or I should not say wrongs, but flatters;for sternness and ambition are no vices in aNevile's eyes.""Fairly answered, royal son," said the archbishop,laughing; "but let us be frank. Thou hast persuadedme to accompany thee to Lord Warwick as amediator; the provinces in the North are disturbed;the intrigues of Margaret of Anjou are restless; theking reaps what he has sown in the Court ofFrance, and, as Warwick foretold, the emissariesand gold of Louis are ever at work against his
and gold of Louis are ever at work against histhrone; the great barons are moody anddiscontented; and our liege King Edward is at lastaware that, if the Earl of Warwick do not return tohis councils, the first blast of a hostile trumpet maydrive him from his throne. Well, I attend thee: myfortunes are woven with those of York, and myinterest and my loyalty go hand in hand. Be equallyfrank with me. Hast thou, Lord Richard, no interestto serve in this mission save that of the publicweal?""Thou forgettest that the Lady Isabel is dearlyloved by Clarence, and that I would fain seeremoved all barrier to his nuptial bliss. But yonderrise the towers of Middleham. Beloved walls, whichsheltered my childhood! and, by holy Paul, a noblepile, which would resist an army, or hold one."While thus conversed the prince and thearchbishop, the Earl of Warwick, musing andalone, slowly paced the lofty terrace that crestedthe battlements of his outer fortifications.In vain had that restless and powerful spirit soughtcontent in retirement. Trained from his childhood toactive life, to move mankind to and fro at his beck,this single and sudden interval of repose in theprime of his existence, at the height of his fame,served but to swell the turbulent and dangerouspassions to which all vent was forbidden.The statesman of modern days has at least foodfor intellect in letters when deprived of action; butwith all his talents, and thoroughly cultivated as his
mind was in the camp, the council, and the state,the great earl cared for nothing in book-lore exceptsome rude ballad that told of Charlemagne orRollo. The sports that had pleased the leisure ofhis earlier youth were tedious and flat to onesnatched from so mighty a career. His hound layidle at his feet, his falcon took holiday on the perch,his jester was banished to the page's table. Beholdthe repose of this great unlettered spirit! But whilehis mind was thus debarred from its native sphere,all tended to pamper Lord Warwick's infirmity ofpride. The ungrateful Edward might forget him; butthe king seemed to stand alone in that oblivion.The mightiest peers, the most renowned knights,gathered to his hall. Middleham,—not Windsor norShene nor Westminster nor the Tower— seemedthe COURT OF ENGLAND. As the Last of theBarons paced his terrace, far as his eye couldreach, his broad domains extended, studded withvillages and towns and castles swarming with hisretainers. The whole country seemed in mourningfor his absence. The name of Warwick was in allmen's mouths, and not a group gathered inmarket-place or hostel but what the minstrel whohad some ballad in praise of the stout earl had arapt and thrilling audience."And is the river of my life," muttered Warwick,"shrunk into this stagnant pool? Happy the manwho hath never known what it is to taste of fame,—to have it is a purgatory, to want it is a hell!"Rapt in this gloomy self-commune, he heard notthe light step that sought his side, till a tender arm
was thrown around him, and a face in which sweettemper and pure thought had preserved tomatronly beauty all the bloom of youth, looked upsmilingly to his own."My lord, my Richard," said the countess, "whydidst thou steal so churlishly from me? Hath there,alas! come a time when thou deemest meunworthy to share thy thoughts, or soothe thytroubles?""Fond one! no, said Warwick, drawing the form"still light, though rounded, nearer to his bosom."For nineteen years hast thou been to me a lealand loving wife. Thou wert a child on our wedding-day, m'amie, and I but a beardless youth; yet wiseenough was I then to see, at the first glance of thyblue eye, that there was more treasure in thy heartthan in all the lordships thy hand bestowed.""My Richard!" murmured the countess, and hertears of grateful delight fell on the hand she kissed."Yes, let us recall those early and sweet days,"continued Warwick, with a tenderness of voice andmanner that strangers might have marvelled at,forgetting how tenderness is almost ever a part ofsuch peculiar manliness of character; "yes, sit wehere under this spacious elm, and think that ouryouth has come back to us once more. For verily,m'amie, nothing in life has ever been so fair to meas those days when we stood hand in hand on itsthreshold, and talked, boy- bridegroom and child-bride as we were, of the morrow that lay beyond."