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Title: Strange Pages from Family Papers
Author: Dyer, T. F. Thiselton (Thomas Firminger Thiselton), 1848-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: "FOR THE BLAST OF DEATH IS ON THE HEATH, AND THE
GRAVE YAWNS WIDE FOR THE CHILD OF MOY."]



STRANGE PAGES

FROM

FAMILY PAPERS

By T.F. THISELTON DYER

AUTHOR OF

"GREAT MEN AT PLAY," "CHURCH LORE GLEANINGS,"
"THE GHOST WORLD," &C.

LONDON
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY
LIMITED
St. Dunstan's House,
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.
1895



LONDON:
PRINTED BY HORACE COX, WINDSOR HOUSE,
BREAM'S BUILDINGS, E.C.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I.
Fatal Curses                                          page 1

CHAPTER II.
The Screaming Skull                                       29

CHAPTER III.
Eccentric Vows                                            46

CHAPTER IV.
Strange Banquets                                          69

CHAPTER V.
Mysterious Rooms                                          88

CHAPTER VI.
Indelible Bloodstains                                    114

CHAPTER VII.
Curious Secrets                                          135

CHAPTER VIII.
The Dead Hand                                            154

CHAPTER IX.
Devil Compacts                                           162

CHAPTER X.
Family Death Omens                                       180

CHAPTER XI.
Weird Possessions                                        198

CHAPTER XII.
Romance of Disguise                                      208

CHAPTER XIII.
Extraordinary Disappearances                             229

CHAPTER XIV.
Honoured Hearts                                          253

CHAPTER XV.
Romance of Wealth                                        262

CHAPTER XVI.
Lucky Accidents                                          279

CHAPTER XVII.
Fatal Passion                                            289


Index                                                    309



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


1. "For the blast of Death is on the heath,
    And the grave yawns wide for the child of Moy."
                                               Frontispiece.

2. She opened it in secret                          page  38

3. "Madam, you have attained your end. You
    and I shall meet no more in this world"               72

4. The figure stood motionless                           150

5. Lady Sybil at the Eagle's Crag                        168

6. Dorothy Vernon and the Woodman                        214

7. Lady Mabel and the Palmer                             248

8. There came an old Irish harper, and sang an
   ancient song                                          272



STRANGE PAGES

FROM

FAMILY PAPERS.


CHAPTER I.

FATAL CURSES.

    May the grass wither from thy feet! the woods
    Deny thee shelter! Earth a home! the dust
    A grave! The sun his light! and heaven her God.
               BYRON, _Cain_.


Many a strange and curious romance has been handed down in the history
of our great families, relative to the terrible curses uttered in
cases of dire extremity against persons considered guilty of injustice
and wrong doing. It is to such fearful imprecations that the
misfortune and downfall of certain houses have been attributed,
although, it may be, centuries have elapsed before their final
fulfilment. Such curses, too, unlike the fatal "Curse of Kehama," have
rarely turned into blessings, nor have they been thought to be as
harmless as the curse of the Cardinal-Archbishop of Rheims, who
banned the thief--both body and soul, his life and for ever--who stole
his ring. It was an awful curse, but none of the guests seemed the
worse for it, except the poor jackdaw who had hidden the ring in some
sly corner as a practical joke. But, if we are to believe traditionary
and historical lore, only too many of the curses recorded in the
chronicles of family history have been productive of the most
disastrous results, reminding us of that dreadful malediction given by
Byron in his "Curse of Minerva":

    "So let him stand, through ages yet unborn,
    Fix'd statue on the pedestal of scorn."

A popular form of curse seems to have been the gradual collapse of the
family name from failure of male-issue; and although there is,
perhaps, no more romantic chapter in the vicissitudes of many a great
house than its final extinction from lack of an heir, such a disaster
is all the more to be lamented when resulting from a curse. A
catastrophe of this kind was that connected with the M'Alister family
of Scotch notoriety. The story goes that many generations back, one of
their chiefs, M'Alister Indre--an intrepid warrior who feared neither
God nor man--in a skirmish with a neighbouring clan, captured a
widow's two sons, and in a most heartless manner caused them to be
hanged on a gibbet erected almost before her very door. It was in vain
that, with well nigh heartbroken tears, she denounced his iniquitous
act, for his comrades and himself only laughed and scoffed, and even
threatened to burn her cottage to the ground. But as the crimson and
setting rays of a summer sun fell on the lifeless bodies of her two
sons, her eyes met those of him who had so basely and cruelly wronged
her, and, after once more stigmatizing his barbarity, with deep
measured voice she pronounced these ominous words, embodying a curse
which M'Alister Indre little anticipated would so surely come to pass.
"I suffer now," said the grief-stricken woman, "but you shall suffer
always--you have made me childless, but you and yours shall be
heirless for ever--never shall there be a son to the house of
M'Alister."

These words were treated with contempt by M'Alister Indre, who mocked
and laughed at the malicious prattle of a woman's tongue. But time
proved only too truly how persistently the curse of the bereaved woman
clung to the race of her oppressors, and, as Sir Bernard Burke
remarks, it was in the reign of Queen Anne that the hopes of the house
of M'Alister "flourished for the last time, they were blighted for
ever." The closing scene of this prophetic curse was equally tragic
and romantic; for, whilst espousing the cause of the Pretender, the
young and promising heir of the M'Alisters was taken prisoner, and
with many others put to death. Incensed at the wrongs of his exiled
monarch, and full of fiery impulse, he had secretly left his youthful
wife, and joined the army at Perth that was to restore the Pretender
to his throne. For several months the deserted wife fretted under the
terrible suspense, often silently wondering if, after all, her
husband--the last hope of the House of M'Alister--was to fall under
the ban of the widow's curse. She could not dispel from her mind the
hitherto disastrous results of those ill-fated words, and would only
too willingly have done anything in her power to make atonement for
the wrong that had been committed in the past. It was whilst almost
frenzied with thoughts of this distracting kind, that vague rumours
reached her ears of a great battle which had been fought, and ere long
this was followed by the news that the Pretender's forces had been
successful, and that he was about to be crowned at Scone. The shades
of evening were fast setting in as, overcome with the joyous prospect
of seeing her husband home again, she withdrew to her chamber, and,
flinging herself on her bed in a state of hysteric delight, fell
asleep. But her slumbers were broken, for at every sound she started,
mentally exclaiming "Can that be my husband?"

At last, the happy moment came when her poor overwrought brain made
sure it heard his footsteps. She listened, yes! they were his! Full of
feverish joy she was longing to see that long absent face, when, as
the door opened, to her horror and dismay, there entered a figure in
martial array without a head. It was enough--he was dead. And with an
agonizing scream she fell down in a swoon; and on becoming conscious
only lived to hear the true narrative of the battle of Sheriff-Muir,
which had brought to pass the Widow's Curse that there should be no
heir to the house of M'Alister.

This story reminds us of one told of Sir Richard Herbert, who, with
his brother, the Earl of Pembroke, pursuing a robber band in Anglesea,
had captured seven brothers, the ringleaders of "many mischiefs and
murders." The Earl of Pembroke determined to make an example of these
marauders, and, to root out so wretched a progeny, ordered them all to
be hanged. Upon this, the mother of the felons came to the Earl of
Pembroke, and upon her knees besought him to pardon two, or at least
one, of her sons, a request which was seconded by the Earl's brother,
Sir Richard. But the Earl, finding the condemned men all equally
guilty, declared he could make no distinction, and ordered them to be
hanged together.

Upon this the mother, falling upon her knees, cursed the Earl, and
prayed that God's mischief might fall upon him in the first battle in
which he was engaged. Curious to relate, on the eve of the battle of
Edgcot Field, having marshalled his men in order to fight, the Earl of
Pembroke was surprised to find his brother, Sir Richard Herbert,
standing in the front of his company, and leaning upon his pole-axe
in a most dejected and pensive mood.

"What," cried the Earl, "doth thy great body" (for Sir Richard was
taller than anyone in the army) "apprehend anything, that thou art so
melancholy? or art thou weary with marching, that thou dost lean thus
upon thy pole-axe?"

"I am not weary with marching," replied Sir Richard, "nor do I
apprehend anything for myself; but I cannot but apprehend on your part
lest the curse of the woman fall upon you."

And the curse of the frantic mother of seven convicts seemed, we are
told, to have gained the authority of Heaven, for both the Earl and
his brother Sir Richard, were defeated at the battle of Edgcot, were
both taken prisoners and put to death.

Sir Walter Scott has made a similar legend the subject of one of his
ballads in the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," entitled "The
Curse of Moy," a tale founded on an ancient Highland tradition that
originated in a feud between the clans of Chattan and Grant. The
Castle of Moy, the early residence of Mackintosh, the chief of the
clan Chattan, is situated among the mountains of Inverness-shire, and
stands on the edge of a small gloomy lake called Loch Moy, in which is
still shown a rocky island as the spot where the dungeon stood in
which prisoners were confined by the former chiefs of Moy. On a
certain evening, in the annals of Moy, the scene is represented as
having been one of extreme merriment, for

    In childbed lay the lady fair,
    But now is come the appointed hour.
    And vassals shout, "An heir, an heir!"

It is no ordinary occasion, for a wretched curse has long hung over
the Castle of Moy, but at last the spell seems broken, and, as the
well-spiced bowl goes round, shout after shout echoes and re-echoes
through the castle, "An heir, an heir!" Many a year had passed without
the prospect of such an event, and it had looked as if the ill-omened
words uttered in the past were to be realised. It was no wonder then
that "in the gloomy towers of Moy" there were feasting and revelry,
for a child is born who is to perpetuate the clan which hitherto had
seemed threatened with extinction. But, even on this festive night
when every heart is tuned for song and mirth, there suddenly appears a
mysterious figure, a pale and shivering form, by "age and frenzy
haggard made," who defiantly exclaims "'Tis vain! 'Tis vain!"

At once all eyes are turned on this strange form, as she, in mocking
gesture, casts a look of withering scorn on the scene around her, and
startles the jovial vassals with the reproachful words "No heir! No
heir!" The laughter is hushed, the pipes no longer sound, for the
witch with uplifted hand beckons that she had a message to tell--a
message from Death--she might truly say, "What means these bowls of
wine--these festive songs?"

    For the blast of Death is on the heath,
    And the grave yawns wide for the child of Moy.

She then recounts the tale of treachery and cruelty committed by a
chief of the House of Moy in the days of old, for which "his name
shall perish for ever off the earth--a son may be born--but that son
shall verily die." The witch brings tears into many an eye as she
tells how this curse was uttered by one Margaret, a prominent figure
in this sad feud, for it was when deceived in the most base manner,
and when betrayed by a man who had violated his promise he had
solemnly pledged, that she is moved to pronounce the fatal words of
doom:

    She pray'd that childless and forlorn,
      The chief of Moy might pine away,
    That the sleepless night, and the careful morn
      Might wither his limbs in slow decay.

    But never the son of a chief of Moy
      Might live to protect his father's age,
    Or close in peace his dying eye,
      Or gather his gloomy heritage.

Such was the "Curse of Moy," uttered, it must be remembered, too, by a
fair young girl, against the Chief of Moy for a blood-thirsty
crime--the act of a traitor--in that, not content with slaying her
father, and murdering her lover, he satiates his brutal passion by
letting her eyes rest on their corpses.

    "And here," they said, "is thy father dead,
    And thy lover's corpse is cold at his side."

Her tale ended, the witch departs, but now ceased the revels of the
shuddering clan, for "despair had seized on every breast," and "in
every vein chill terror ran." On the morrow, all is changed, no joyous
sounds are heard, but silence reigns supreme--the silence of death.
The curse has triumphed, the last hope of the house of Moy is gone,
and--

    Scarce shone the morn on the mountain's head
    When the lady wept o'er her dying boy.

But tyranny, or oppression, has always been supposed to bring its own
punishment, as in the case of Barcroft Hall, Lancashire, where the
"Idiot's Curse" is commonly said to have caused the downfall of the
family. The tradition current in the neighbourhood states that one of
the heirs to Barcroft was of weak intellect, and that he was fastened
by a younger brother with a chain in one of the cellars, and there in
a most cruel manner gradually starved to death. It appears that this
unnatural conduct on the part of the younger brother was prompted by a
desire to get possession of the property; and it is added that, long
before the heir to Barcroft was released from his sufferings, he
caused a report to be circulated that he was dead, and by this piece
of deception made himself master of the Barcroft estate. It was in one
of his lucid intervals that the poor injured brother pronounced a
curse upon the family of the Barcrofts, to the effect that their name
should perish for ever, and that the property should pass into other
hands. But this malediction was only regarded as the ravings of an
imbecile, unaccountable for his words, and little or no heed was paid
to this death sentence on the Barcroft name. And yet, light as the
family made of it, within a short time there were not wanting
indications that their prosperity was on the wane, a fact which every
year became more and more discernible until the curse was fulfilled in
the person of Thomas Barcroft, who died in 1688 without male issue.
After passing through the hands of the Bradshaws, the Pimlots, and the
Isherwoods, the property was finally sold to Charles Towneley, the
celebrated antiquarian, in the year 1795.[1] Whatever the truth of
this family tradition, Barcroft is still a good specimen of the later
Tudor style, and its ample cellarage gives an idea of the profuse
hospitality of its former owners, some rude scribblings on one of the
walls of which are still pointed out as the work of the captive.

In a still more striking way this spirit of persecution incurred its
own condemnation. In the 17th century, Francis Howgill, a noted
Quaker, travelled about the South of England preaching, which at
Bristol was the cause of serious rioting. On returning to his own
neighbourhood, he was summoned to appear before the justices who were
holding a court in a tavern at Kendal, and, on his refusing to take
the oath of allegiance, he was imprisoned in Appleby Gaol. In due
time, the judges of assizes tendered the same oath, but with the like
result, and evidently wishing to show him some consideration offered
to release him from custody if he would give a bond for his good
behaviour in the interim, which likewise declining to do, he was
recommitted to prison. In the course of his imprisonment, however, a
curious incident happened, which gave rise to the present narrative.
Having been permitted by the magistrates to go home to Grayrigg for a
few days on private affairs, he took the opportunity of calling on a
justice of the name of Duckett, residing at Grayrigg Hall, who was not
only a great persecutor of the Quakers but was one of the magistrates
who had committed him to prison. As might be imagined, Justice Duckett
was not a little surprised at seeing Howgill, and said to him, "What
is your wish now, Francis? I thought you had been in Appleby Gaol."

Howgill, keenly resenting the magistrate's behaviour, promptly
replied, "No, I am not, but I am come with a message from the Lord.
Thou hast persecuted the Lord's people, but His hand is now against
thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name
shall rot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become
desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws." When Howgill had
delivered his message, the magistrate seems to have been somewhat
disconcerted, and said, "Francis, are you in earnest?" But Howgill
only added, "Yes, I am in earnest, it is the word of the Lord to thee,
and there are many living now who will see it."

But the most remarkable part of the story remains to be told. By a
strange coincidence the prophetic utterance of Howgill was fulfilled
in a striking manner, for all the children of Justice Duckett died
without leaving any issue, whilst some of them came to actual poverty,
one begging her bread from door to door. Grayrigg Hall passed into the
possession of the Lowther family, was dismantled, and fell into ruins,
little more than its extensive foundations being visible in 1777, and,
after having long been the habitation of "owls and jackdaws," the
ruins were entirely removed and a farmhouse erected upon the site of
the "old hall," in accordance with what was popularly known as "The
Quaker's Curse, and its fulfilment." Cornish biography, however, tells
how a magistrate of that county, Sir John Arundell, a man greatly
esteemed amongst his neighbours for his honourable conduct--fell under
an imprecation which he in no way deserved. In his official capacity,
it seems, he had given offence to a shepherd who had by some means
acquired considerable influence over the peasantry, under the
impression that he possessed some supernatural powers. This man, for
some offence, had been imprisoned by Sir John Arundell, and on his
release would constantly waylay the magistrate, always looking at him
with the same menacing eye, at the same time slowly muttering these
words:

    "When upon the yellow sand,
    Thou shalt die by human hand."

Notwithstanding Sir John Arundell's education and position, he was not
wholly free from the superstition of the period, and might have
thought, too, that this man intended to murder him. Hence he left his
home at Efford and retired to the wood-clad hills of Trevice, where he
lived for some years without the annoyance of meeting his old enemy.
But in the tenth year of Edward IV., Richard de Vere, Earl of Oxford,
seized St. Michael's Mount; on hearing of which news, Sir John
Arundell, then Sheriff of Cornwall--led an attack on St. Michael's
Mount, in the course of which he received his death wound in a
skirmish on the sands near Marazion. Although he had broken up his
home at Efford "to counteract the will of fate," the shepherd's
prophecy was accomplished; and tradition even says that, in his dying
moments, his old enemy appeared, singing in joyous tones:

    "When upon the yellow sand,
    Thou shalt die by human hand."

The misappropriation of property, in addition to causing many a family
complication, has occasionally been attended with a far more serious
result. There is a strange curse, for instance, in the family of Mar,
which can boast of great antiquity, there being, perhaps, no title in
Europe so ancient as that of the Earl of Mar. This curse has been
attributed by some to Thomas the Rhymer, by others to the Abbot of
Cambuskenneth, and by others to the Bard of the House at that epoch.
But, whoever its author, the curse was delivered prior to the
elevation of the Earl, in the year 1571, to be the Regent of Scotland,
and runs thus:

"Proud Chief of Mar, thou shalt be raised still higher, until thou
sittest in the place of the King. Thou shalt rule and destroy, and thy
work shall be after thy name, but thy work shall be the emblem of thy
house, and shall teach mankind that he who cruelly and haughtily
raiseth himself upon the ruins of the holy cannot prosper. Thy work
shall be cursed, and shall never be finished. But thou shalt have
riches and greatness, and shall be true to thy sovereign, and shalt
raise his banner in the field of blood. Then, when thou seemest to be
highest, when thy power is mightiest, then shall come thy fall; low
shall be thy head amongst the nobles of the people. Deep shall be thy
moan among the children of dool (sorrow). Thy lands shall be given to
the stranger, and thy titles shall lie among the dead. The branch that
springs from thee shall see his dwelling burnt, in which a King is
nursed--his wife a sacrifice in that same flame; his children
numerous, but of little honour; and three born and grown who shall
never see the light. Yet shall thine ancient tower stand; for the
brave and the true cannot be wholly forsaken. Thou, proud head and
daggered hand, must _dree thy_ weird, until horses shall be stabled in
thy hall, and a weaver shall throw his shuttle in thy chamber of
state. Thine ancient tower--a woman's dower--shall be a ruin and a
beacon, until an ash sapling shall spring from its topmost stone. Then
shall thy sorrows be ended, and the sunshine of royalty shall beam on
thee once more. Thine honours shall be restored; the kiss of peace
shall be given to thy Countess, though she seek it not, and the days
of peace shall return to thee and thine. The line of Mar shall be
broken; but not until its honours are doubled, and its doom is ended."

In support of this strange curse, it may be noted that the Earl of
1571 was raised to be Regent of Scotland, and guardian of James VI. As
Regent, he commanded the destruction of Cambuskenneth Abbey, and took
its stones to build himself a palace at Stirling, which never advanced
farther than the façade, which has been popularly designated "Marr's
Work."

In the year 1715, the Earl of Mar raised the banner of his Sovereign,
the Chevalier James Stuart, son of James the Second, or Seventh. He
was defeated at the battle of Sheriff-Muir, his title being forfeited,
and his lands of Mar confiscated and sold by the Government to the
Earl of Fife. His grandson and representative, John Francis, lived at
Alloa Tower (which had been for some time the abode of James VI. as an
infant) where, a fire breaking out in one of the rooms, Mrs. Erskine
was burnt, and died, leaving, beside others, three children who were
born blind, and who all lived to old age.

But this remarkable curse was to be further fulfilled, for at the
commencement of the present century, upon the alarm of the French
invasion, a troop of the cavalry and yeomen of the district took
possession of the tower, and for a week fifty horses were stabled in
its lordly hall; and in the year 1810, a party of visitors were
surprised to find a weaver plying his loom in the grand old Chamber of
State. Between the years 1815 and 1820, an ash sapling might be seen
in the topmost stone, and many of those who "clasped it in their hands
wondered if it really were the twig of destiny, and if they should
ever live to see the prophecy fulfilled."

In the year 1822, George IV. visited Scotland and searched out the
families who had suffered by supporting the Princes of the Stuart
line. Foremost of them all was the Erskine of Mar, grandson of Mar who
had raised the Chevalier's standard, and to him the King restored his
earldom. John Francis, the grandson of the restored Earl, likewise
came into favour, for when Queen Victoria accidentally met his
Countess in a small room in Stirling Castle, and ascertained who she
was, she detained her, and, after conversing with her, kissed her.
Although the Countess had never been presented at St. James's, yet, in
a marvellous way, "the kiss of peace was given to her, though she
sought it not"; and then, after the curse had worked through 300
years, the "weird dreed out, and the doom of Mar was ended."[2]

Another instance which may be quoted relates to Sherborne Castle.
According to the traditionary accounts handed down, it appears that
Osmund, one of William the Conqueror's knights, who had been rewarded,
among other possessions, with the castle and barony of Sherborne, in
the decline of life determined to resign his temporal honours, and to
devote himself exclusively to religion. In pursuance of this object,
he obtained the Bishopric of Salisbury, to which he gave certain
lands, but annexed to the gift the following conditional curse: "That
whosoever should take those lands from the Bishopric, or diminish them
in great or small, should be accursed, not only in this world, but in
the world to come, unless in his lifetime he made restitution
thereof." In a strange and wonderful manner this curse is said to have
been more than once fulfilled. Upon Osmund's death, the castle and
lands fell into the hands of the next bishop, Roger Niger, who was
dispossessed of them by King Stephen, on whose death they were held by
the Montagues, all of whom, it is affirmed, so long as they kept these
lands, were subjected to grievous disasters, in so much that the male
line became altogether extinct. About two hundred years from this
time, the lands again reverted to the Church, but in the reign of
Edward VI. the Castle of Sherborne was conveyed by the then Bishop of
Sarum to the Duke of Somerset, who lost his head on Tower Hill. Sir
Walter Raleigh, again, obtained the property from the crown, and it
was to expiate this offence, it has been suggested, he ultimately lost
his head. But in allusion to this reputed curse, Sir John Harrington
gravely tells how it happened one day that Sir Walter riding post
between Plymouth and the Court, "the castle being right in the way, he
cast such an eye upon it as Ahab did upon Naboth's vineyard, and
whilst talking of the commodiousness of the place, and of the great
strength of the seat, and how easily it might be got from the
Bishopric, suddenly over and over came his horse, and his very
face--which was then thought a very good one--ploughed up the earth
where he fell." Then again Prince Henry died shortly after he took
possession, and Carr, Earl of Somerset, the next proprietor fell in
disgrace. But the way the latter obtained Sherborne was far from
creditable, for, having discovered a technical flaw in the deed in
which Sir Walter Raleigh had settled the estate on his son, he
solicited it of his royal master, and obtained it. It was in vain that
Lady Raleigh on her knees appealed to James against this injustice,
for he only answered, "I mun have the land, I mun have it for Carr."
But Lady Raleigh was a woman of high spirit, and there on her knees,
before King James, she prayed to God that He would punish those who
had thus wrongfully exposed her, and her children, to ruin. She was,
in fact, re-echoing the curse uttered centuries beforehand. And that
prayer was not long unanswered, for Carr did not enjoy Sherborne for
any length of time. Committed to the Tower for the murder of Sir
Thomas Overbury, he was at last released and restricted to his house
in the country, "where in constant companionship with the wife, for
the guilty love of whom he had become the murderer of his friend, he
passed the remainder of his life, loathing the partner of his crimes,
and by her as cordially detested."

Spelman goes so far as to say that "all those families who took or had
Church property presented to them, came, either in their own persons or
those of their descendants, to sorrow and misfortune." One of the many
strange occurrences relating to Sir Anthony Browne, standard-bearer to
King Henry VIII., was communicated some years ago in connection with
the famous Cowdray Castle, the principal seat of the Montagues. It is
said that at the great festival given in the magnificent hall of the
monks at Battle Abbey, on Sir Anthony Browne taking possession of his
Sovereign's gift of that estate, a venerable monk stalked up the hall
to the daïs, where Sir Anthony Browne sat, and, in prophetic language,
denounced him and his posterity for usurping the possessions of the
Church, predicting their destruction by fire and water--a fate which
was eventually fulfilled.

One of the last viscounts was, in 1793, drowned when trying to pass
the Falls of Schaffhausen on the Rhine, accompanied by Mr. Sedley
Burdett, the elder brother of the distinguished Sir Francis. They had
engaged an open boat to take them through the rapids; but it seems the
authorities tried to prevent so dangerous an enterprise. In order,
however, to carry out their project, they started two hours earlier
than the time previously fixed--four o'clock in the morning--and
successfully passed the first or upper fall. But, unhappily, the same
good fortune failed them in their next descent, for "the boat was
swamped and sunk in passing the lower fall, and was supposed to have
been jammed in a cleft of the submerged rock, as neither boat nor
adventurers ever appeared again. In the same week, the ancient seat of
the family, Cowdray Castle, was destroyed by fire, and its venerable
ruins are the significant monument at once of the fulfilment of the
old monk's prophecy, and of the extinction of the race of the great
and powerful noble."

It is further added that the last inheritor of the title--the
immediate successor and cousin of the ill-fated young nobleman of
Schaffhausen, Anthony Browne, the last Montague, who died at the
opening of this century--left no male issue, and his estates devolved
on his only daughter, who married Mr. Stephen Poyntz, a great
Buckinghamshire landlord. Some years after their marriage Mr. Poyntz
was desirous of obtaining a grant of the dormant title "Viscount
Montague" in favour of the elder of his two sons, issue of this
marriage; but his hopes were suddenly destroyed by the death of the
two boys, who were drowned while bathing at Bognor, the "fatal water"
thus becoming the means, in fulfilment of the monk's terrible
denunciation on the family in his fearful curse.

In a similar manner the great Tichborne trial followed, it is said,
upon the fulfilment, in a manner, of a prophecy, respecting that
ancient family, made more than seven hundred years before. When the
Lady Mabelle Tichborne, wife of the Sir Roger who flourished in the
reign of Henry II., was lying on her death-bed, she besought her
husband to grant her the means of leaving behind her a charitable
bequest in the form of an annual dole of bread. To gratify her whim,
he accordingly promised her the produce of as much land in the
vicinity of the park as she could walk over while a certain brand was
burning; for, as she had been bedridden for many years, he supposed
that she would be able to go round only a small portion of the
property. But when the venerable dame was carried out upon the ground,
she seemed to regain her strength, and, greatly to the surprise of her
husband, crawled round several rich and goodly acres, which, to this
day, retain the name of "The Crawls." On being reconveyed to her
chamber, Lady Mabelle summoned her family to her bedside and predicted
its prosperity so long as the annual dole was observed, but she left
her solemn curse on any of her descendants who should discontinue it,
prophesying that when such should happen, the old house would fall,
and the family name "become extinct from failure" of male issue. And
she further added, that this would be foretold by a generation of
seven sons being followed immediately after by a generation of seven
daughters and no son.

The custom of the annual doles was observed for six hundred years on
every 25th of March, until--owing to the complaints of the magistrates
and local gentry that vagabonds, gipsies, and idlers of every
description swarmed into the neighbourhood, under the pretence of
receiving the dole--it was discontinued in the year 1796. Strangely
enough, Sir Henry Tichborne, the baronet of that day, had issue seven
sons, and his eldest son, who succeeded him, had seven daughters and
no son. The prophecy was apparently completed by the change of name
of the possessors of the estate to Doughty, in the person of Sir
Edward Doughty, who had assumed the name under the will of a relative
from whom he inherited certain property. Finally, it may be added,
"the Claimant" appeared, and instituted one of the most costly
lawsuits ever tried, in which the Tichborne estate was put to an
expense of close upon one hundred thousand pounds!

But, occasionally, the effect of a family curse, through the
misappropriation of property, has been more sweeping and speedy in its
retribution, as in the case of Furvie or Forvie, which now forms part
of the parish of Slains, Scotland--much, if not most of it, being
covered with sand. The popular account of the downfall of this parish
tells how, in times gone by, the proprietor to whom it belonged left
three daughters as heirs of his fair lands; who were, however, most
unjustly bereft of their property, and thrown homeless on the world.
On quitting their home--their legal heritage--they uttered a terrible
curse, which was quickly accomplished, and was considered an
unmistakable sign of Divine displeasure at the wrong they had
received. Before many days had elapsed, a storm of almost unparalleled
violence--lasting nine days--burst over the district, and transformed
the parish of Forvie into a desert of sand;--a calamity which is said
to have befallen the district about the close of the 17th century. In
this way, many local traditions account for the ruined and desolate
condition of certain wild and uninhabited spots. Ettrick Hall, for
instance, near the head of Ettrick Water, had such a history. On and
around its site in former days there was a considerable village, and
"as late as the Revolution, it contained no fewer than fifty-three
fine houses." But about the year 1700, when the numbers in this little
village were still very considerable, James Anderson, a member of the
Tushielaw family, pulled down a number of small cottages, leaving many
of the tenants--some of whom were aged and infirm--homeless. It was in
vain that these poor people appealed to him for a little merciful
consideration, for he refused to lend an ear to their complaints, and
in a short time a splendid house was built on the property, known as
Ettrick Hall. What was considered by the inhabitants far and wide as
an act of cruel injustice incurred its own punishment, for a prophetic
rhyme was about the same period made on it, by whom nobody could tell,
and which, says James Hogg, writing in the year 1826, has been most
wonderfully verified:

    Ettrick Hall stands on yon plain,
    Right sore exposed to wind and rain;
    And on it the sun shines never at morn,
    Because it was built in the widow's corn;
    And its foundations can never be sure,
    Because it was built on the ruin of the poor.
    And or an age is come and gane,
    Or the trees o'er the chimly-taps grow green,
    We kinna wen where the house has been.

The curse that alighted on this fair mansion at length accomplished
its destructive work, because nowadays there is not a vestige of it
remaining, nor has there been for these many years; indeed, so
complete was the collapse of this ill-fated house, that its site could
only be identified by the avenue and lanes of trees; while many clay
cottages, on the other hand, which were built previously, long
remained intact. Equally fatal, also, was the curse uttered against
the old persecuting family of Home of Cowdenknowes--a place in the
immediate neighbourhood of St. Thomas's Castle.

    Vengeance, vengeance! When and where?
    Upon the house of Cowdenknowes, now and evermair!

This anathema, awful as the cry of blood, is generally said to have
been realised in the extinction of the family and the transference of
their property to other hands. But some doubt, writes Mr. Robert
Chambers,[3] seems to hang on the matter, "as the Earl of Home--a
prosperous gentleman--is the lineal descendant of the Cowdenknowes
branch of the family which acceded to the title in the reign of
Charles I., though, it must be admitted, the estate has long been
alienated."

Love and marriage, again, have been associated with many imprecations,
one of which dates as far back as the time of Edmund, King of the East
Angles, in connection with his defeat and capture at Hoxne, in
Suffolk, on the banks of the Waveney not far from Eye. The story, as
told by Sir Francis Palgrave in his Anglo-Saxon History, is this:
"Being hotly pursued by his foes, the King fled to Hoxne, and
attempted to conceal himself by crouching beneath a bridge, now called
Goldbridge. The glittering of his golden spurs discovered him to a
newly-married couple, who were returning home by moonlight, and they
betrayed him to the Danes. Edmund, as he was dragged from his hiding
place, pronounced a malediction upon all who should afterwards pass
this bridge on their way to be married. So much regard was paid to
this tradition by the good folks of Hoxne that no bride or bridegroom
would venture along the forbidden path."

That inconstancy has not always escaped with impunity may be gathered
from the following painful story, one which, if it had not been fully
attested, would seem to belong to the domain of fiction rather than
truth: On April 28, 1795, a naval court-martial, which had lasted for
sixteen days, and created considerable excitement, was terminated. The
officer tried was Captain Anthony James Pye Molloy, of H.M. Ship
_Cæsar_ and the charge brought against him was that, in the memorable
battle of June 1, 1794, he did not bring his ship into action, and
exert himself to the utmost of his power. The decision of the court
was adverse to the Captain, but, "having found that on many previous
occasions Captain Molloy's courage had been unimpeachable," he was
sentenced to be dismissed his ship, instead of the penalty of death.

It is said that Captain Molloy had behaved dishonourably to a young
lady to whom he was betrothed. The friends of the lady wished to bring
an action for breach of promise against the Captain, but the lady
declined doing so, only remarking that God would punish him. Some time
afterwards the two accidentally met at Bath, when the lady confronted
her inconstant lover by saying: "Capt. Molloy, you are a bad man. I
wish you the greatest curse that can befall a British officer. When
the day of battle comes, may your false heart fail you!"

Her words were fully realised, his subsequent conduct and irremediable
disgrace forming the fulfilment of her wish.[4]

Another curse, which may be said to have a historic interest, has been
popularly designated the "Midwife's Curse." It appears that Colonel
Stephen Payne, who took a foremost part in striving to uphold the
tottering fortunes of the Stuarts, had wooed and won a fair wife amid
the battles of the Rebellion. The Duke of York promised to stand as
godfather to the first child if it should prove a boy; but when a
daughter was born, the Colonel in his mortification, it is said,
"formally devoted, in succession, his hapless wife, his infant
daughter, himself and his belongings, to the infernal deities."

But the story goes that the midwife, Douce Vardon, was commissioned by
the shade of Normandy's first duke to announce to her master that not
only would his daughter die in infancy, but that neither he nor anyone
descended from him would ever again be blessed with a daughter's love.
Not many days afterwards the child died, "whose involuntary coming had
been the cause of the Payne curse." Time passed on, and that "Heaven
is merciful," writes Sir Bernard Burke,[5] Stephen Payne experienced
in his own person, for his wife subsequently presented him with a son,
who was sponsored by the Duke of York by proxy. "But six generations
of the descendants of Colonel Stephen Payne," it is added, "have come
and gone since the utterance of the midwife's curse, but they never
yet have had a daughter born to them." Such is the immutability of the
decrees of Fate.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Harland's "Lancashire Legends" (1882), 4, 5.

[2] See Sir J. Bernard Burke's "Family Romance," 1853.

[3] "Popular Rhymes of Scotland" (1870), 217-18.

[4] See "Book of Days," I., 559.

[5] "The Rise of Great Families," 191-202.



CHAPTER II.

THE SCREAMING SKULL.

    "Look on its broken arch, its ruined wall,
      Its chambers desolate, its portals foul;
    Yes, this was once Ambition's airy hall--
      The dome of thought, the palace of the soul."
               BYRON.


There are told of certain houses, in different parts of the country,
many weird skull stories, the popular idea being that if any profane
hand should be bold enough to remove, or in any way tamper with, such
gruesome relics of the dead, misfortune will inevitably overtake the
family. Hence, for years past, there have been carefully preserved in
some of our country homes numerous skulls, all kinds of romantic
traditions accounting for their present isolated and unburied
condition.

An old farmstead known as Bettiscombe, near Bridport, Dorsetshire, has
long been famous for its so-called "screaming skull," generally
supposed to be that of a negro servant who declared before his death
that his spirit would not rest until his body was buried in his native
land. But, contrary to his dying wish, he was interred in the
churchyard of Bettiscombe, and hence the trouble which this skull has
ever since occasioned. In the August of 1883, Dr. Richard Garnett, his
daughter, and a friend, while staying in the neighbourhood determined
to pay this eccentric skull a visit, the result of which is thus
amusingly told by Miss Garnett:

"One fine afternoon a party of three adventurous spirits started off,
hoping to discover the skull and investigate its history. This much we
knew, that the skull would only scream when it was buried, and so we
hoped to get leave to inter it in the churchyard. The village of
Bettiscombe was at length reached, and we found our way to the old
farmhouse, which stood at the end of the village by itself. It had
evidently been a manor house, and a very handsome one, too. We were
admitted into a fine paved hall, and attempted to break the ice by
asking for milk. We then endeavoured to draw the good woman of the
house into conversation by admiring the place, and asking in a guarded
manner respecting the famous skull. On this subject she was most
reserved. She had only lately had the farmhouse, and had been obliged
to take possession of the skull also; but she did not wish us to
suppose that she knew much about it; it was a veritable 'skeleton in
the closet' to her. After exercising great diplomacy, we persuaded her
to allow us a sight of it. We tramped up the fine old staircase till
we reached the top of the house, when, opening a cupboard door, she
showed us a steep, winding staircase, leading to the roof, and from
one of the steps the skull sat grinning at us. We took it in our hands
and examined it carefully; it was very old and weather-beaten, and
certainly human. The lower jaw was missing, the forehead very low and
badly proportioned. One of our party, who was a medical student,
examined it long and gravely, and then, after first telling the good
woman that he was a doctor, pronounced it to be, in his opinion, the
skull of a negro. After this oracular utterance, she resolved to make
a clean breast of all she knew, which, however, did not amount to
much. The skull, we were informed, was that of a negro servant, who
had lived in the service of a Roman Catholic priest. Some difference
arose between them; but whether the priest murdered the servant, in
order to conceal some crimes known to the negro, or whether the negro,
in a fit of passion, killed his master, did not clearly appear.

However, the negro had declared before his death that his spirit would
not rest unless his body was taken to his native land and buried
there. This was not done, he being buried in the churchyard of
Bettiscombe. Then the haunting began; fearful screams proceeded from
the grave, the doors and windows of the house rattled and creaked,
strange sounds were heard all over the house; in short, there was no
rest for the inmates until the body was dug up. At different periods
attempts were made to bury the body, but similar disturbances always
recurred. In process of time the skeleton disappeared, 'all save the
skull,' and its reputation as 'the screaming skull' remains
unimpaired."

In a farm-house in Sussex are preserved two skulls from Hastings
Priory, about which many gruesome stories are current in the
neighbourhood. One of these skulls, it appears, has been in the house
many years; the other was placed there by a former tenant of the farm.
It is the prevalent impression in the locality, that, if by any chance
the former skull were to be removed, the cattle in the farm would die,
and unearthly sounds be heard in and about the house at night time.
According to a local tradition, the skull belonged to a man who
murdered the owner of the house, and marks of blood are pointed out on
the floor of the adjoining room, where the murder is said to have been
committed, and which no washing will remove. But, on more than one
occasion, the skull has been taken away without any ill-effects, and,
one year, was placed by a profane hand in a branch of a neighbouring
tree, where it remained a whole summer, during which time a bird's
nest was constructed within it, and a young brood successfully reared.
And yet the old superstition still survives, and the prejudice
against tampering with this peculiar skull has in no way
diminished.[6]

There are the remains of a skull, in three parts, at Tunstead, a
farmhouse about a mile and a half from Chapel-en-le-Frith, which,
although popularly known by the male cognomen "Dickie," has always
been said to be that of a woman. How long it has been located in its
present home is not known, but tradition tells how one of two
co-heiresses residing here was murdered, who solemnly affirmed that
her bones should remain in the place for ever. In days past, this
skull has been guilty of all sorts of eccentric pranks, many of which
are still told by the credulous peasantry with respectful awe. It is
added,[7] also, that if "Dickie" should accidentally be removed,
everything in the farm will go wrong. The cows will be dry and barren,
the sheep have the rot, and horses fall down, breaking their knees and
otherwise injuring themselves. The story goes, too, that when the
London and North-Western Railway to Manchester was being made, the
foundations of a bridge gave way in the yielding sands and bog, and,
after several attempts to build the bridge had failed, it was found
necessary to divert the highway, and pass it under the railway on
higher ground. These engineering failures were attributed to the
malevolent influence of "Dickie," but as soon as the road was
diverted it was bridged successfully, because no longer in Dickie's
territory.

A similar superstition attaches to a skull kept in a farmhouse at
Chilton Cantelo, in Somersetshire. From the date on the tombstone of
the former owner of the skull--1670--it has been conjectured that he
came to the retired village, in which he was buried, after taking an
active part, on the Republican side, in the Civil War; and that seeing
the way in which the bodies of some of them who had acted with him
were treated after the Restoration, he wished to provide against this
in his own case. But, whatever the previous history of this curious
skull, it has at times caused a good deal of trouble, resenting any
proposal to consign it to the earth, for buried it will not be, no
matter how many attempts are made to do so. Strange to say, most of
this class of skulls behave in the same extraordinary fashion. At a
short distance from Turton Tower--one of the most interesting
structures in the neighbourhood of Bolton--is a farmhouse locally
designated Timberbottom, or the Skull House, so called from the
circumstance that two skulls are or were kept there, one of which was
much decayed, whereas the other appeared to have been cut through by a
blow from some sharp instrument. These skulls, it is said, have been
buried many times in the graveyard at Bradshaw Chapel, but they have
always had to be exhumed, and brought back to the farm-house. On one
occasion, they were thrown into the adjacent river, but to no purpose;
for they had to be fished up and restored to their old quarters before
the ghosts of their owners could once more rest in peace.

A popular cause assigned for this strange behaviour on the part of
certain skulls is that their owners met with a violent death, and that
the avenging spirit in this manner annoys the living, reminding us of
Macbeth's words:

    "Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time,
    Ere human statute purg'd the gentle weal;
    Ay, and since too, murders have been performed
    Too terrible for the ear; the times have been
    That, when the brains were out, the man would die
    And there an end; but now they rise again,
    With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
    And push us from our stools. This is more strange
    Than such a murder is."

Hence, a romantic and tragic story is told of two skulls which have
long haunted an old house near Ambleside. It appears that a small
piece of ground, known as Calgrath, was owned by a humble farmer,
named Kraster Cook, and his wife Dorothy. But their little inheritance
was coveted by a wealthy magistrate, Myles Phillipson, who, unable to
induce them to part with it, swore "he'd have that ground, be they
'live or dead." As time wore on, however, he appeared more gracious to
Kraster and Dorothy, and actually invited them to a great Christmas
banquet given to the neighbours. It was a dear feast for them, for
Myles Phillipson pretended they had stolen a silver cup, and, sure
enough, it was found in Kraster's house--a "plant," of course. Such an
offence was then capital, and, as Phillipson was the magistrate,
Kraster and Dorothy were sentenced to death. Thereupon, Dorothy arose
in the court-room and addressed Phillipson in words that rang through
the building and impressed all for their awful earnestness:

"Guard thyself, Myles Phillipson! Thou thinkest thou hast managed
grandly, but that tiny lump of land is the dearest a Phillipson has
ever bought or stolen, for you will never prosper, neither your breed.
Whatever scheme you undertake will wither in your hand; the side you
take will always lose; the time shall come when no Phillipson shall
own an inch of land; and while Calgarth walls shall stand we'll haunt
it night and day. Never will ye be rid of us!"

Henceforth, the Phillipsons had for their guests two skulls. They were
found at Christmas at the head of a staircase. They were buried in a
distant region, but they turned up in the old house again. Again and
again were the two skulls burned; they were brazed to dust and cast to
the winds, and for several years they were cast in the lake, but the
Phillipsons could never get rid of them. In the meantime, Dorothy's
weird went steadily on to its fulfilment, until the family sank into
poverty, and at length disappeared.[8]

As a more rational explanation of the matter, it is told by some local
historians "that there formerly lived in the house a famous doctress,
who had two skeletons by her for the usual purposes of her profession,
and these skulls, happening to meet with better preservation than the
rest of the bones, they were accidentally honoured" with this singular
tradition.[9]

Wardley Hall, Lancashire, has its skull, which is supposed to be the
witness of some tragedy committed in the past, and to have belonged to
Roger Downes, the last male representative of his family, and who was
one of the most abandoned courtiers of Charles II. Roby, in one of his
"Traditions," entitled "The Skull House," has represented him as
rushing forth "hot from the stews," drawing his sword as he staggered
along, and swearing that he would kill the first man he met. Terrible
to say, that fearful oath was fulfilled, for his victim was a poor
tailor, whom he ran through with his weapon and killed on the spot. He
was apprehended for the crime, but his interest at Court quickly
procured him a free pardon, and he soon continued his reckless course.
But one evening, as his sister and cousin Eleanor were chatting
together at Wardley, the carrier from Manchester brought a wooden
box, "which had come all the way from London by Antony's waggon."
Suspecting that there was something mysterious connected with this
package, for the direction was "a quaint, crabbed hand," she opened it
in secret, when, to her amazement and horror, this writing attracted
her notice:

"Thy brother has at length paid the forfeit of his crimes. The wages
of sin is death! And his head is before thee. Heaven hath avenged the
innocent blood he hath shed. Last night, in the lusty vigour of a
drunken debauch, passing over London Bridge, he encounters another
brawl, wherein, having run at the watchmen with his rapier, one blow
of the bill which they carried severed thy brother's head from his
trunk. The latter was cast over the parapet into the river. The head
only remained, which an eye witness, if not a friend, hath sent to
thee!" His sister tried at first to keep the story of her brother's
death a secret, and hid with all speed this ghastly memorial for ever,
as she hoped, from the gaze and knowledge of the world. It was her
desire to conceal this foul stain upon the family name, but "the grave
gives back its dead. The charnel gapes. The ghastly head hath burst
its cold tabernacle, and risen from the dust." No human power could
drive it away. It hath "been torn in pieces, burnt, and otherwise
destroyed, but even on the subsequent day it is seen filling its
wonted place. Yet it was always observed that sore vengeance
lighted on its persecutors. One who hacked it in pieces was seized
with such horrible torments in his limbs that it seemed as though he
might be undergoing the same process. Sometimes, if only displaced, a
fearful storm would arise, so loud and terrible that the very elements
themselves seemed to become the ministers of its wrath." Nor will this
eccentric piece of mortality allow the little aperture in which it
rests to be walled up, for it remains there still, whitened and
bleached by the weather, "looking forth from those rayless sockets
upon the scenes which, when living, they had once beheld." Towards the
close of the last century, Thomas Barritt, the Manchester antiquary,
visited this skull--"this surprising piece of household furniture," as
he calls it, and adds that "one of us who was last in company with it,
removed it from its place into a dark part of the room, and there left
it, and returned home." But on the following night a violent storm
arose in the neighbourhood, causing an immense deal of damage--trees
being blown down and roofs unthatched--and the cause, as it was
supposed, being ascertained, the skull was replaced, when these
terrific disturbances ceased. And yet, as Thomas Barritt sensibly
remarks, "All this might have happened had the skull never been
removed; but withal it keeps alive the credibility of the tradition."
Formerly two keys were provided for this "place of a skull," one being
kept by the tenant of the Hall, and the other by the Countess of
Ellesmere, the owner of the property. The Countess occasionally
accompanied visitors from the neighbouring Worsley Hall, and herself
unlocked the door, and revealed to her friends the grinning skull of
Wardley Hall.[10]

[Illustration: SHE OPENED IT IN SECRET.]

Another romantic story is associated with Burton Agnes Hall, between
Bridlington and Driffield, Yorkshire, which is haunted by the spirit
of a lady a former co-heiress of the estate--who is popularly known as
"Awd Nance." The skull of this lady is carefully preserved in the
Hall, and so long as it is left undisturbed all goes well, but
whenever any attempt is made to remove it, the most unearthly noises
are heard in the house, and last until it is restored. According to a
local tradition, many years ago the three co-heiresses of the estate
of Burton Agnes were possessed of considerable wealth, and finding the
ancient mansion, in which they resided, not in harmony with their
ideas of what a home should be suited to their position, determined to
erect a house in such a style as should eclipse all others in the
neighbourhood. The most prominent organiser of the scheme was the
younger sister, Anne, who could talk or think of nothing but the
magnificent home about to be built, which in due time, it is said,
"emerged from the hands of artists and workmen, like a palace erected
by the genii of the Arabian Nights, a palace encrusted throughout on
walls, roof, and furniture with the most exquisite carvings and
sculptures of the most skilled masters of the age, and radiant with
the most glowing tints of the pencil of Peter Paul."

But soon after its completion and occupation by its three
co-heiresses, Anne, the enthusiast, paid an afternoon visit to the St.
Quentins, at Harpham. On starting to return home about nightfall with
her dog, she had gone no great distance when she was confronted by two
ruffianly-looking beggars, who asked alms. She readily gave them a few
coins, and in doing so the glitter of her finger-ring accidentally
attracted their notice, which they at once demanded should be given up
to them. This she refused to do, as it had been her mother's ring, and
was one which she valued above all price.

"Mother or no mother," gruffly replied one of the rogues, "we mean to
have it, and if you do not part with it freely, we must take it,"
whereupon he seized her hand and attempted to drag off the ring.

Frightened at this act of violence, Anne screamed for help, at which
the other ruffian, exclaiming, "Stop that noise!" struck her a blow,
and she fell senseless to the earth. But her screams had attracted
attention, and the approach of some villagers caused the villains to
make a hasty retreat, without being able to get the ring from her
finger. In a dying condition, as it was supposed, Anne was carried
back to Harpham Hall, where, under the care of Lady St. Quentin, she
made sufficient recovery to be removed the following day to her own
home. The brutal treatment she had received from the highwaymen,
however, had done its fatal work, and after a few days, during which
she was alternately sensible and delirious, she succumbed to the
effects. Her one thought previous to death was her devotion to her
home, which had latterly been the ruling passion of her life; and
bidding her sisters farewell, she addressed them thus:--

"Sisters, never shall I sleep peacefully in my grave in the churchyard
unless I, or a part of me at least, remain here in our beautiful home
as long as it lasts. Promise me this, dear sisters, that when I am
dead my head shall be taken from my body and preserved within these
walls. Here let it for ever remain, and on no account be removed. And
understand and make it known to those who in future shall become
possessors of the house, that if they disobey this my last injunction,
my spirit shall, if so able and so permitted, make such a disturbance
within its walls as to render it uninhabitable for others so long as
my head is divorced from its home."

Her sisters promised to accede to her dying request, but failed to do
so, and her body was laid entire under the pavement of the church.
Within a few days Burton Agnes Hall was disturbed by the most
alarming noises, and no servant could be induced to remain in the
house. In this dilemma, the two sisters remembered that they had not
carried out Anne's last wish, and, at the suggestion of the clergyman,
the coffin was opened, when a strange sight was seen. The "body lay
without any marks of corruption or decay; but the head was disengaged
from the trunk, and appeared to be rapidly assuming the semblance of a
fleshless skull." This was reported to the two sisters, and on the
vicar's advice the skull of Anne was taken to Burton Agnes Hall,
where, so long as it remained undisturbed, no ghostly noises were
heard. It may be added that numerous attempts have from time to time
been made to rid the hall of this skull, but without success.

Many other similar skulls are still existing in various places, and,
in addition to their antiquarian interest, have attracted the
sightseer, connected as they mostly are with tales of legendary
romance. An amusing anecdote of a skull is told by the late Mr. Wirt
Sikes.[11] It seems that on a certain day some men were drinking at an
inn when one of them, to show his courage and want of superstition,
affirmed that he was "afraid of no ghosts," and dared to go to the
church and fetch a skull. This he did, and after an hour or so of
merrymaking over the skull, he carried it back to where he had found
it; but, as he was leaving the church, "suddenly a tremendous blast
like a whirlwind seized him, and so mauled him that he ever after
maintained that nothing should induce him to do such a thing again."
The man was still more convinced that the ghost of the original owner
of the skull had been after him, when his wife informed him that the
cane which hung in his room had been beating against the wall in a
dreadful manner.

Byron had his skull romance at Newstead, but in this case the skull
was more orderly, and not given to those unpleasant pranks of which
other skulls have seemingly been guilty. Whilst living at Newstead, a
skull was one day found of large dimensions and peculiar whiteness.
Concluding that it belonged to some friar who had been domesticated at
Newstead--prior to the confiscation of the monasteries by Henry
VIII.--Byron determined to convert it into a drinking vessel, and for
this purpose dispatched it to London, where it was elegantly mounted.
On its return to Newstead, he instituted a new order at the Abbey,
constituting himself grand master, or abbot, of the skull. The
members, twelve in number, were provided with black gowns--that of
Byron, as head of the fraternity, being distinguished from the rest. A
chapter was held at certain times, when the skull drinking goblet was
filled with claret, and handed about amongst the gods of this
consistory, whilst many a grim joke was cracked at the expense of
this relic of the dead. The following lines were inscribed upon it by
Byron:

    Start not, nor deem my spirit fled;
      In me behold the only skull
    From which, unlike a living head,
      Whatever flows is never dull.

    I lived, I loved, I quaff'd, like thee;
      I died: let earth my bones resign.
    Fill up, thou canst not injure me;
      The worm hath fouler lips than mine.

    Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
      In aid of others, let me shine,
    And when, alas! our brains are gone,
      What nobler substitute than wine.

    Quaff while thou canst. Another race,
      When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
    May rescue thee from earth's embrace,
      And rhyme and revel with the dead.

    Why not? since through life's little day
      Our heads such sad effects produce;
    Redeem'd from worms and wasting clay,
      This chance is theirs, to be of use.

The skull, it is said, is buried beneath the floor of the chapel at
Newstead Abbey.


FOOTNOTES:

[6] Sussex Archæological Collections xiii. 162-3.

[7] See _Notes and Queries_, 4th S., XI. 64.

[8] Told by Mr. Moncure Conway in _Harper's Magazine_.

[9] "Tales and Legends of the English Lakes," 96-7.

[10] "Harland's Lancashire Legends," 1882, 65-70.

[11] "British Goblins," 1880, p. 146.



CHAPTER III.

ECCENTRIC VOWS.

    No man takes or keeps a vow,
    But just as he sees others do;
    Nor are they 'bliged to be so brittle
    As not to yield and bow a little:
    For as best tempered blades are found
    Before they break, to bend quite round,
    So truest oaths are still more tough,
    And, tho' they bow, are breaking-proof.
               BUTLER'S "Hudibras," Ep. to his Lady, 75.


Some two hundred and fifty years ago, the prevailing colour in all
dresses was that shade of brown known as the "couleur Isabelle," and
this was its origin:--A short time after the siege of Ostend
commenced, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Isabella
Eugenia, Gouvernante of the Netherlands, incensed at the obstinate
bravery of the defenders, is reported to have made a vow that she
would not change her chemise till the town surrendered. It was a
marvellously inconvenient vow, for the siege, according to the precise
historians thereof, lasted three years, three months, three weeks,
three days, and three hours; and her highness's garment had
wonderfully changed its colour before twelve months of the time had
expired. But the ladies and gentlemen of the Court, in no way
dismayed, resolved to keep their mistress in countenance, and, after a
struggle between their loyalty and their cleanliness, they hit upon
the compromising expedient of wearing dresses of the presumed colour,
finally attained by the garment which clung to the Imperial
Archduchess by force of religious obstinacy. But, foolish and
eccentric as was the conduct of Isabella Eugenia, there have been
persons gifted, like herself, with sufficient mental power and
strength of character to keep the vows they have sworn.

Thus, at a tournament held on the 17th November, 1559--the first
anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession--Sir Henry Lee, of
Quarendon, made a vow that every year on the return of that auspicious
day, he would present himself in the tilt yard, in honour of the
Queen, to maintain her beauty, worth, and dignity, against all comers,
unless prevented by infirmity, accident, or age. Elizabeth accepted
Sir Henry as her knight and champion; and the nobility and gentry of
the Court formed themselves into an Honourable Society of Knights
Tilters, which held a grand tourney every 17th November. But in the
year 1590, Sir Henry, on account of age, resigned his office, having
previously, by Her Majesty's permission, appointed the famous Earl of
Cumberland as his successor. On this occasion, the royal choir sang
the following verses as Sir Henry Lee's farewell to the Court:

    My golden locks time hath to silver turned,
      O Time, too swift, and swiftness never ceasing!
    My youth 'gainst age, and age at youth both spurned,
      But spurned in vain--youth waned by increasing;
    Beauty, and strength, and youth, flowers fading been;
    Duty, faith, love, are roots and evergreen.

    My helmet now shall make a hive for bees,
      And lover's songs shall turn to holy psalms;
    A man-at arms must now sit on his knees,
      And feed on prayers that are old age's alms.
    And so from Court to cottage I depart,
    My Saint is sure of mine unspotted heart.

    And when I sadly sit in homely cell,
      I'll teach my saints this carol for a song:
    Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well!
      Cursed be the souls that think to do her wrong!
    Goddess! vouchsafe this aged man his right
    To be your beadsman now, that was your knight.

But not long after Sir Henry Lee had resigned his office of especial
champion of the beauty of the sovereign, he fell in love with the new
maid of honour--the fair Mrs. Anne Vavasour--who, though in the
morning flower of her charms, and esteemed the loveliest girl in the
whole court, drove a whole bevy of youthful lovers to despair by
accepting this ancient relic of the age of chivalry.[12]

Queen Isabella vowed to make a pilgrimage to Barcelona, and return
thanks at the tomb of that City's patron Saint, if the Infanta Eulalie
recovered from an apparently mortal illness, and Queen Joan of Naples
honoured the knight Galeazzo of Mantua by opening the ball with him at
a grand feast at her castle of Gaita. At the conclusion of the dance,
Galeazzo, kneeling down before his royal partner, vowed, as an
acknowledgment of the honour he had received, to visit every country
where feats of arms were performed, and not to rest until he had
subdued two valiant knights, and presented them as prisoners to the
queen, to be disposed of at her royal pleasure. After an absence of
twelve months, Galeazzo, true to his vow, appeared at Naples, and laid
his two prisoners at the feet of Queen Joan, but who, it is said,
displayed commendable wisdom on the occasion, and "declined her right
to impose rigorous conditions on her captives, and gave them liberty
without ransom."

Such cases, it is true, have been somewhat rare, for made oftentimes
on the impulse of the moment, "unheedful vows," as Shakespeare says,
"may heedfully be broken." But, scarce as the records of unbroken vows
may be, they are deserving of a permanent record, more especially as
the direction of their eccentricity is, for the most part, in itself
curious and uncommon. Love, for instance, has been responsible for
many strange and curious vows in the past, and some years ago it was
stated that the original of Charles Dickens's Miss Havisham was living
in the flesh not far from Ventnor in the person of an old maiden lady,
who, because of the maternal objection to some love affair in her
early life, made and kept a vow that she would retire to her bed, and
there spend the remainder of her days. It was a stern vow but she kept
her word, "and the years have come and gone, and the house has never
been swept or garnished, the garden is an overgrown tangle, and the
eccentric lady has spent twenty years between the sheets." But whether
this piece of romance is to be accepted or not, love has been the
cause of many foolish acts, and many a disappointed damsel, has acted
in no less eccentric a fashion than Miss Havisham, who was so
completely overcome by the failure of Compeyson to appear on the
wedding morning that she became fossilised, and gave orders that
everything was to be kept unchanged, but to remain as it had been on
that hapless day. Henceforth she was always attired in her bridal
dress with lace veil from head to foot, white shoes, bridal flowers in
her white hair, and jewels on her hands and neck. Years went on, the
wedding breakfast remained set on the table, while the poor half
demented lady flitted from one room to another like a restless ghost;
and the case is recorded of another lady whose lover was arrested for
forgery on the day before their marriage was to have taken place. Her
vow took the form of keeping to her room, sitting winter and summer
alike at her casement and waiting for him who was turning the
treadmill, and who was never to come again.

On the other hand, vows have been made, but persons have contrived to
rid themselves of the inconveniences without breaking them, reminding
us of Benedick, who finding the charms of his "Dear Lady Disdain" too
much for his celibate resolves, gets out of his difficulty by
declaring that "When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I
should live till I were married." Equally ludicrous, also, is the
story told of a certain man, who, greatly terrified in a storm, vowed
he would eat no haberdine, but, just as the danger was over, he
qualified his promise with "Not without mustard, O Lord." And
Voltaire, in one of his romances, represents a disconsolate widow
vowing that she will never marry again, "so long as the river flows by
the side of the hill." But a few months afterwards the widow recovers
from her grief, and, contemplating matrimony, takes counsel with a
clever engineer. He sets to work, the river is deviated from its
course, and, in a short time, it no longer flows by the side of the
hill. The lady, released from her vow, does not allow many days to
elapse before she exchanges her weeds for a bridal veil. However far
fetched this little romance may be, a veritable instance of thus
keeping the letter of the vow and neglecting the spirit, was recorded
not so very long ago: A Salopian parish clerk seeing a woman crossing
the churchyard with a bundle and a watering can, followed her, curious
to know what intentions might be, and discovered that she was a widow
of a few months' standing. Inquiring what she was going to do with the
watering pot, she informed him that she had been obtaining some grass
seed to sow on her husband's grave, and had brought a little water to
make it spring up quickly. The clerk told her there was no occasion to
trouble, the grave would be green in good time. "Ah! that may be," she
replied, "but my poor husband made me take a vow not to marry again
until the grass had grown over his grave, and, having a good offer, I
do not wish to break my vow, or keep as I am longer than I can help."

But vows have not always been broken with impunity. Janet Dalrymple,
daughter of the first Lord Stair, secretly engaged herself to Lord
Rutherford, who was not acceptable to her parents, either on account
of his political principles, or his want of fortune. The young couple
broke a piece of gold together, and pledged their troth in the most
solemn manner, the young lady, it is said, imprecating dreadful evils
on herself should she break her plighted faith. But shortly afterwards
another suitor sought the hand of Janet Dalrymple, and, when she
showed a cold indifference to his overtures, her mother, Lady Stair,
insisted upon her consenting to marry the new suitor, David Dunbar,
son and heir of David Dunbar of Baldoon, in Wigtonshire. It was in
vain that Janet Dalrymple confessed her secret engagement, for Lady
Stair treated this objection as a mere trifle.

Lord Rutherford, apprised of what had happened, interfered by letter,
and insisted on the right he had acquired by his troth plighted with
Janet Dalrymple. But Lady Stair answered in reply that "her daughter,
sensible of her undutiful behaviour in entering into a contract
unsanctioned by her parents, had retracted her unlawful vow, and now
refused to fulfil her engagement with him." Lord Rutherford wrote
again to Lady Stair, and briefly informed her that "he declined
positively to receive such an answer from anyone but Janet Dalrymple,"
and, accordingly, an interview was arranged between them, at which
Lady Stair took good care to be present, with pertinacity insisting on
the Levitical law, which declares that a woman shall be free of a vow
which her parents dissent from.

While Lady Stair insisted on her right to break the engagement, Lord
Rutherford in vain entreated Janet Dalrymple to declare her feelings;
but she remained "mute, pale, and motionless as a statue," and it was
only at her mother's command, sternly uttered, she summoned strength
enough to restore the broken piece of gold--the emblem of her troth.
At this unexpected act Lord Rutherford burst into a tremendous
passion, took leave of Lady Stair with maledictions, and, as he left
the room, gave one angry glance at Janet Dalrymple, remarking, "For
you, madam, you will be a world's wonder"--a phrase denoting some
remarkable degree of calamity.

In due time, the marriage between Janet Dalrymple and David Dunbar of
Baldoon, took place, the bride showing no repugnance, but being
absolutely impassive in everything Lady Stair commanded or advised,
always maintaining the same sad, silent, and resigned look.

The bridal feast was followed by dancing, and the bride and bridegroom
retired as usual, when suddenly the most wild and piercing cries were
heard from the nuptial chamber, which at length became so hideous that
a general rush was made to learn the cause. On opening the door a
ghastly scene presented itself, for the bridegroom was discovered
lying on the floor, dreadfully wounded, and streaming with blood. The
bride was seen sitting in the corner of the large chimney, dabbled in
gore--grinning--in short, absolutely insane, and the only words she
uttered were; "Take up your bonny bridegroom." She survived this
tragic event little over a fortnight, having been married on the 24th
August, and dying on the 12th September.

The unfortunate bridegroom recovered from his wounds, but, strange to
say, he never permitted anyone to ask him respecting the manner in
which he had received them; but he did not long survive this dreadful
catastrophe, meeting with a fatal injury by a fall from a horse as he
was one day riding between Leith and Holyrood House. As might be
expected, various reports went abroad respecting this mysterious
affair, most of them being inaccurate.[13] But the story has gained a
lasting notoriety from Sir Walter Scott having founded his "Bride of
Lammermoor" upon it; who, in his introductory notes to that novel, has
given some curious facts concerning this tragic occurrence, quoting an
elegy of Andrew Symson, which takes the form of a dialogue between a
passenger and a domestic servant. The first recollecting that he had
passed Lord Stair's house lately, and seen all around enlivened by
mirth and festivity, is desirous of knowing what has changed so gay a
scene into mourning, whereupon the servant replies:--

                      "Sir, 'tis truth you've told,
    We did enjoy great mirth; but now, ah me!
    Our joyful song's turned to an elegie.
    A virtuous lady, not long since a bride,
    Was to a hopeful plant by marriage tied,
    And brought home hither. We did all rejoice
    Even for her sake. But presently her voice
    Was turned to mourning for that little time
    That she'd enjoy: she waned in her prime,
    For Atropos, with her impartial knife,
    Soon cut her thread, and therewithal her life;
    And for the time, we may it well remember
    It being in unfortunate September;
    Where we must leave her till the resurrection,
    'Tis then the Saints enjoy their full perfection."

Many a vow too rashly made has been followed by an equally tragic
result, instances of which are to be met with in the legendary lore of
our county families. A somewhat curious legend is connected with a
monument in the church of Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey. The story goes that
two young brothers of the family of Vincent, the elder of whom had
just come into his estate, were out shooting on Fairmile Common, about
two miles from the village. They had put up several birds, but had not
been able to get a single shot, when the elder swore with an oath that
he would fire at whatever they next met with. They had not gone far
before a neighbouring miller passed them, whereupon the younger
brother reminded the elder of his oath, who immediately fired at the
miller, and killed him on the spot. Through the influence of his
family, backed by large sums of money, no effective steps were taken
to apprehend young Vincent, but, after leading a life of complete
seclusion for some years, death finally put an end to the
insupportable anguish of his mind.

A pretty romance is told of Furness Abbey, locally known as "The Abbey
Vows." Many years ago, Matilda, the pretty and much-admired daughter
of a squire residing near Stainton, had been wooed and won by James, a
neighbouring farmer's son. But as Matilda was the only child, her
father fondly imagined that her rare beauty and fortune combined would
procure her a good match, little thinking that her heart was already
given to one whose position he would never recognise. It so happened,
however, that the young people, through force of circumstances, were
separated, neither seeing nor hearing of each other for some years.

At last, by chance, they were thrown together, when the active service
in which James was employed had given his fine manly form an
appearance which was at once imposing and captivating. Matilda, too,
was improved in every eye, and never had James seen so lovely a maid
as his former playmate. Their youthful hearts were disengaged, and
they soon resolved to render their attachment as binding and as
permanent as it was pure and undivided. The period had arrived, also,
when James must again go to sea, and leave Matilda to have her
fidelity tried by other suitors. Both, therefore, were willing to bind
themselves by some solemn pledge to live but for each other. For this
purpose they repaired, on the evening before James's departure, to the
ruins of Furness Abbey. It was a fine autumnal evening; the sun had
set in the greatest beauty, and the moon was hastening up the eastern
sky; and in the roofless choir they knelt, near where the altar
formerly stood, and repeated, in the presence of Heaven, their vows of
deathless love.

They parted. But the fate of the betrothed lovers was a melancholy
one. James returned to his ship for foreign service, and was killed by
the first broadside of a French privateer, with which the captain had
injudiciously ventured to engage. As for Matilda, she regularly went
to the abbey to visit the spot where she had knelt with her lover; and
there, it is said, "she would stand for hours, with clasped hands,
gazing on that heaven which alone had been witness to their mutual
vows."

Another momentous vow, but one of a terribly tragic nature, relates to
Samlesbury Hall, which stands about midway between Preston and
Blackburn, and has long been famous for its apparition of "The Lady in
White." The story generally told is that one of the daughters of Sir
John Southworth, a former owner, formed an attachment with the heir of
a neighbouring house, and nothing was wanting to complete their
happiness except the consent of the lady's father. Sir John was
accordingly consulted by the youthful couple, but the tale of their
love for each other only increased his rage, and he dismissed them
with the most bitter denunciations.

"No daughter of his should ever be united to the son of a family which
had deserted its ancestral faith," he solemnly vowed, and to
intensify his disapproval of the whole affair, he forbade the young
man his presence for ever. Difficulty, however, only served to
increase the ardour of the lovers, and, after many secret interviews
among the wooded slopes of the Ribble, an elopement was arranged, in
the hope that time would eventually bring her father's forgiveness.
But the day and place were unfortunately overheard by the lady's
brother, who had hidden himself in a thicket close by, determined, if
possible, to prevent what he considered to be his sister's disgrace.
On the evening agreed upon both parties met at the appointed hour,
and, as the young knight moved away with his betrothed, her brother
rushed from his hiding-place, and, in pursuance of a vow he had made,
slew him. After this tragic occurrence, Lady Dorothy was sent abroad
to a convent, where she was kept under strict surveillance; but her
mind at last gave way--the name of her murdered sweetheart was ever on
her lips--and she died a raving maniac. It is said that on certain
clear, still evenings, a lady in white can be seen passing along the
gallery and the corridors, and then from the hall into the grounds,
where she meets a handsome knight, who receives her on his bended
knees, and he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a
certain spot, in all probability the lover's grave, both the phantoms
stand still, and as they seem to utter soft wailings of despair, they
embrace each other, and then their forms rise slowly from the earth
and melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky.[14]

A strange and romantic story is told of Blenkinsopp Castle, which,
too, has long been haunted by a "white lady." It seems that its owner,
Bryan de Blenkinsopp, despite many good qualities, had an inordinate
love of wealth which ultimately wrecked his fortune. At the marriage
feast of a brother warrior with a lady of high rank and fortune, the
health was drunk of Bryan de Blenkinsopp and his "lady love." But to
the surprise of all present Bryan made a vow that "never shall that be
until I meet with a lady possessed of a chest of gold heavier than ten
of my strongest men can carry into my Castle." Soon afterwards he went
abroad, and after an absence of twelve years returned, not only with a
wife, but possessed of a box of gold that took three of the strongest
men to convey it to the Castle. A grand banquet was given in honour of
his return, and, after several days feasting and rejoicing, vague
rumours were spread of dissensions between the lord and his lady. One
day the young husband disappeared, and never returned to Blenkinsopp,
nothing more being heard of him. But the traditionary account of this
mystery asserts that his young wife, filled with remorse at her
undutiful conduct towards him, cannot rest in her grave, but must
wander about the old castle, and mourn over the chest of gold--the
cursed cause of all their misery--of which it is supposed she, with
the assistance of others, had deprived her husband. It is generally
admitted that the cause of Bryan de Blenkinsopp's future unhappiness
was the rash vow he uttered at that fatal banquet.

Associated with this curious romance there are current in the
neighbourhood many tales of a more or less legendary character, but
there has long been a firm belief that treasure lies buried beneath
the crumbling ruins. According to one story given in Richardson's
"Table Book of Traditions" some years ago, two of the more habitable
apartments of Blenkinsopp Castle were utilized by a labourer of the
estate and his family. But one night, the parents were aroused by
screams from the adjoining room, and rushing in they found their
little son sitting up in bed, terribly frightened. "What was the
matter?"

"The White Lady! The White Lady!" cried the boy.

"What lady," asked the bewildered parents; "there is no lady here!"

"She is gone," replied the boy, "and she looked so angry because I
would not go with her. She was a fine lady--and she sat down on my
bedside and wrung her hands and cried sore; then she kissed me and
asked me to go with her, and she would make me a rich man, as she had
buried a large box of gold, many hundred years since, down in a
vault, and she would give it me, as she could not rest so long as it
was there. When I told her I durst not go, she said she would carry
me, and was lifting me up when I cried out and frightened her away."
When the boy grew up he invariably persisted in the truth of his
statement, and at forty years of age could recall the scene so vividly
as "to make him shudder, as if still he felt her cold lips press his
cheeks and the death-like embrace of her wan arms."

Equally curious is the old tradition told of Lynton Castle, of which
not a stone remains, although, once upon a time, it was as stately a
stronghold as ever echoed to the clash of knightly arms. One evening
there came to its gates a monk, who in the name of the Holy Virgin
asked alms, but the lady of the Castle liked not his gloomy brow, and
bade him begone. Resenting such treatment, the monk drew up his
well-knit frame, and vowed:--"All that is thine shall be mine, until
in the porch of the holy church, a lady and a child shall stand and
beckon."

Little heed was taken of these ominous words, and as years passed by a
baron succeeded to the Lynton estates, whose greed was such that he
dared to lay his sacrilegious hand even upon holy treasures. But as he
sate among his gold, the black monk entered, and summoned him to his
fearful audit; and his servants, aroused by his screams, found only a
lifeless corpse. This was considered retribution for his sins of the
past, and his son, taking warning, girded on his sword, and in
Palestine did doughty deeds against the Saracen. By his side was
constantly seen the mysterious Black Monk--his friend and guide--but
"at length the wine-cup and the smiles of lewd women lured him from
the path of right." After a time the knight returned to Devonshire,
"and lo, on the happy Sabbath morning, the chimes of the church-bells
flung out their silver music on the air, and the memories of an
innocent childhood woke up instantly in his sorrowing heart." In vain
the Black Monk sought to beguile him from the holy fane, and whispered
to him of bright eyes and a distant bower. He paused only for a
moment. In the shadow of the porch stood the luminous forms of his
mother and sister, who lifted up their spirit hands, and beckoned. The
knight tore himself from the Black Monk's grasp and rushed towards
them, exclaiming, "I come! I come! Mother, sister, I am saved! O,
Heaven, have pity on me!" The story adds that the three were borne up
in a radiant cloud, but "the Black Monk leapt headlong into the depths
of the abyss beneath, and the castle fell to pieces with a sudden
crash, and where its towers had soared statelily into the sunlit air
was now outspread the very desolation--the valley of the rocks--" and
thus the vow was accomplished, all that remains nowadays to remind the
visitor of that stately castle and its surroundings being a lonely
glen in the valley of rocks where a party of marauders, it is said,
were once overtaken and slaughtered.

In some cases churches have been built in performance of vows, and at
the Tichborne Trial one of the witnesses deposed how Sir Edward
Doughty made a vow, when his son was ill, that if the child recovered
he would build a church at Poole. Contrary to all expectation, the
child "did recover most miraculously, for it had been ill beyond all
hope, and Sir Edward built a church at Poole, and there it stands
until this day." There are numerous stories of the same kind, and the
peculiar position of the old church of St. Antony, in Kirrier,
Cornwall, is accounted for by the following tradition: It is said
that, soon after the Conquest, as some Normans of rank were crossing
from Normandy into England, they were driven by a terrific storm on
the Cornish coast, where they were in imminent danger of destruction.
In their peril and distress they called on St. Antony, and made a vow
that if he would preserve them from shipwreck they would build a
church in his honour on the spot where they first landed. The vessel
was wafted into the Durra Creek, and there the pious Normans, as soon
as possible, fulfilled their vow. A similar tradition is told of
Gunwalloe Parish Church, which, a local legend says, was erected as a
votive offering by one who here escaped from shipwreck, for, "when he
had miraculously escaped from the fury of the waves, he vowed that he
would build a chapel in which the sounds of prayer and praise to God
should blend with the never-ceasing voice of those waves from which he
had but narrowly escaped. So near to the sea is the church, that at
times it is reached by the waves, which have frequently washed away
the walls of the churchyard." But vows of a similar nature have been
connected with sacred buildings in most countries, and Vienna owes the
church of St. Charles to a vow made by the Emperor Charles the Sixth
during an epidemic. The silver ship, given by the Queen of St. Louis,
was made in accordance with a vow. According to Joinville, the queen
"said she wanted the king, to beg he would make some vows to God and
the Saints, for the sailors around her were in the greatest danger of
being drowned."

"'Madam,' I replied, 'vow to make a pilgrimage to my lord St. Nicholas
at Varengeville, and I promise you that God will restore you in safety
to France. At least, then, Madam, promise him that if God shall
restore you in safety to France, you will give him a silver ship of
the value of five masses; and if you shall do this, I assure you that,
at the entreaty of St. Nicholas, God will grant you a successful
voyage.' Upon this, she made a vow of a silver ship to St. Nicholas."
Similarly, there was a statue at Venice said to have performed great
miracles. A merchant vowed perpetual gifts of wax candles in gratitude
for being saved by the light of a candle on a dark night, reminding
us of Byron's description of a storm at sea, in 'Don Juan' (Canto
II.):

    "Some went to prayers again and made vows
    Of candles to their saints."

Numerous vows of this kind are recorded, and it may be remembered how
a certain Empress promised a golden lamp to the church of Notre Dame
des Victoires, in the event of her husband coming safely out of the
doctor's hands; and, as recently as the year 1867, attired in the garb
of a pilgrim of the olden time, walked, in fulfilment of a vow, from
Madrid to Rome when she fancied herself at death's door.

Many card-players and gamesters, unable to bear reverse, have made
vows which they lacked the moral courage to keep. Dr. Norman Macleod
tells a curious anecdote of a well-known character who lived in the
parish of Sedgley, near Wolverhampton, and who, having lost a
considerable sum of money by a match at cock-fighting--to which
practice he was notoriously addicted--made a vow that he would never
fight another cock as long as he lived, "frequently calling upon God
to damn his soul to all eternity if he did, and, with dreadful
imprecations, wishing the devil might fetch him if he ever made
another bet."

For a time he adhered to his vow, but two years afterwards he was
inspired with a violent desire to attend a cock-fight at
Wolverhampton, and accordingly visited the place for that purpose. On
reaching the scene he soon disregarded his vow, and cried: "I hold
four to three on such a cock!"

"Four what?" said one of his companions.

"Four shillings," replied he.

"I'll lay," said the other, upon which they confirmed the wager, and,
as his custom was, he threw down his hat and put his hand in his
pocket for the money, when he instantly fell down dead. Terrified at
the sight, "some who were present for ever after desisted from this
infamous sport; but others proceeded in the barbarous diversion as
soon as the dead body was removed from the spot."

Another inveterate gambler was Colonel Edgeworth, who on one occasion,
having lost all his ready cash at the card tables, actually borrowed
his wife's diamond earrings, and staking them had a fortunate turn of
luck, rising a winner; whereupon he solemnly vowed never to touch
cards or dice again. And yet, it is said, before the week was out, he
was pulling straws from a rick, and betting upon which should prove
the longest. On the other hand, Tate Wilkinson relates an interesting
anecdote of John Wesley who in early life was very fond of a game of
whist, and every Saturday was one of a constant party at a rubber, not
only for the afternoon, but also for the evening. But the last
Saturday that he ever played at cards the rubber at whist was longer
than he expected, and, "on observing the tediousness of the game he
pulled out his watch, and to his shame he found it was some minutes
past eight, which was beyond the time he had appointed for the Lord.
He thought the devil had certainly tempted him beyond his hour, he
suddenly therefore gave up his cards to a gentleman near him to finish
the game," and left the room, making a vow never to play with "the
devil's pages," as he called them, again. That vow he never broke.

Political vows, as is well known, have a curious history, and an
interesting incident is told in connection with one of the ancestors
of Sir Walter Scott. It appears that Walter Scott, the first of
Raeburn, by Ann Isabel, his wife, daughter of William Macdougall, had
two sons, William, direct ancestor of the Lairds of Raeburn, and
Walter, progenitor of the Scotts of Abbotsford. The younger, who was
generally known by the curious appellation of "Bearded Watt," from a
vow which he had made to leave his beard unshaven until the
restoration of the Stuarts, reminds us of those Servian patriots who
during the bombardment of Belgrade thirty years ago, made a vow that
they would never allow a razor to touch their faces until the thing
could be done in the fortress itself. Five years afterwards, in 1867,
the Servians marched through the streets of Belgrade, with enormous
beards, preceded by the barbers, each with razor in hand, and entered
the fortresses to have the last office of the vow performed on them.


FOOTNOTES:

[12] Agnes Strickland, "Lives of the Queens of England," 1884, iii.,
454-5.

[13] See Sir Walter Scott's notes to the "Bride of Lammermoor."

[14] Harland's "Lancashire Legends," 1882, p. 263-4.



CHAPTER IV.

STRANGE BANQUETS.

    "O'Rourke's noble feast will ne'er be forgot
    By those who were there--or those who were not."


In the above words the Dean of St. Patrick has immortalised an Irish
festival of the eighteenth century; and some such memory will long
cling to many a family or historic banquet, which--like the tragic one
depicted in "Macbeth," where the ghost of the murdered Banquo makes
its uncanny appearance, or that remarkable feast described by Lord
Lytton, where Zanoni drinks with impunity the poisoned cup, remarking
to the Prince, "I pledge you even in this wine"--has been the scene of
some unusual, or extraordinary occurrence.

At one time or another, the wedding feast has witnessed many a strange
and truly romantic occurrence, in some instances the result of
unrequited love, or faithless pledges, as happened at the marriage
feast of the second Viscount Cullen. At the early age of sixteen he
had been betrothed to Elizabeth Trentham, a great heiress; but in the
course of his travels abroad he formed a strong attachment to an
Italian lady of rank, whom he afterwards deserted for his first
betrothed. In due time arrangements were made for their marriage; but
on the eventful day, while the wedding party were feasting in the
great hall at Rushton, a strange carriage, drawn by six horses, drew
up, and forth stepped a dark lady, who, at once entering the hall and,
seizing a goblet--"to punish his falsehood and pride"--to the
astonishment of all present, drank perdition to the bridegroom, and,
having uttered a curse upon his bride, to the effect that she would
live in wretchedness and die in want, promptly disappeared to be
traced no further.

No small consternation was caused by this unlooked-for _contretemps_;
but the young Viscount made light of it to his fair bride, dispelling
her alarm by explanations which satisfied her natural curiosity. But,
it is said, in after days, this unpleasant episode created an
unfavourable impression in her mind, and at times made her give way to
feelings of a despondent character. As events turned out, the curse of
her marriage day was in a great measure fulfilled. It is true she
became a prominent beauty of the Court of Charles II., and was painted
with less than his usual amount of drapery by Sir Peter Lely. It is
recorded also, that she twice gave an asylum to Monmouth, in the room
at Rushton, still known as the "Duke's Room"; but, living unhappily
with her husband, she died, notwithstanding her enormous fortune, in
comparative penury, at Kettering, at a great age, as recently as the
year 1713.

A curious tale of love and deception is told of Bulgaden Hall,
once--according to Ferrers, in his "History of Limerick"--the most
magnificent seat in the South of Ireland--erected by the Right Hon.
George Evans, who was created Baron Carbery, County of Cork, on the
9th of May, 1715. A family tradition proclaims him to have been noted
for great personal attractions, so much so, that Queen Anne, struck by
his appearance, took a ring from her finger at one of her levees, and
presented it to him--a ring preserved as a heir-loom at Laxton Hall,
Northamptonshire. In 1741, he married Grace, the daughter, and
eventually heiress of Sir Ralph Freke, of Castle Freke, in the County
of Cork, by whom he had four sons and the same number of daughters;
and it was George Evans, the eldest son and heir, who became the chief
personage in the following extraordinary marriage fraud.

It appears that at an early age he fell in love with the beautiful
daughter of his host, Colonel Stamer, who was only too ready to
sanction such an alliance. But, despite the brilliant prospects which
this contemplated marriage opened to the young lady, she turned a deaf
ear to any mention of it, for she loved another. As far as her parents
could judge she seemed inexorable, and they could only allay the
suspense of the expectant lover by assuring him that their daughter's
"natural timidity alone prevented an immediate answer to his suit."

But what their feelings of surprise were on the following day can be
imagined, when Miss Stamer announced to her parents her willingness to
marry George Evans. It was decided that there should be no delay, and
the marriage day was at once fixed. At this period of our social life,
the wedding banquet was generally devoted to wine and feasting, while
the marriage itself did not take place till the evening. And,
according to custom, sobriety at these bridal feasts was, we are told,
"a positive violation of all good breeding, and the guests would have
thought themselves highly dishonoured had the bridegroom escaped
scathless from the wedding banquet."

Accordingly, half unconscious of passing events, George Evans was
conducted to the altar, where the marriage knot was indissolubly tied.
But, as soon as he had recovered from the effects of the bridal feast,
he discovered, to his intense horror and dismay, that the bride he had
taken was not the woman of his choice--in short, he was the victim of
a cheat. Indignant at this cruel imposture, he ascertained that the
plot emanated from the woman who, till then, had been the ideal of his
soul, and that she had substituted her veiled sister Anne for herself
at the altar. The remainder of this strange affair is briefly
told:--George Evans had one, and only one, interview with his wife,
and thus addressed her in the following words: "Madam, you have
attained your end. I need not say how you bear my name; and, for the
sake of your family, I acknowledge you as my wife. You shall receive
an income from me suitable to your situation. This, probably, is all
you cared for with regard to me, and you and I shall meet no more in
this world."

[Illustration: "MADAM, YOU HAVE ATTAINED YOUR END. YOU AND I SHALL
MEET NO MORE IN THIS WORLD."]

He would allow no explanation, and almost immediately left his home
and country, never to meet again the woman who had so basely betrayed
him. The glory of Bulgaden Hall was gone. Its young master, in order
to quench his sorrow and bury his disgust, gave way to every kind of
dissipation, and died its victim in 1769. And, writes Sir Bernard
Burke, "from the period of its desertion by its luckless master,
Bulgaden Hall gradually sank into ruin; and to mark its site nought
remains but the foundation walls and a solitary stone, bearing the
family arms."

A strange incident, of which, it is said, no satisfactory explanation
has ever yet been forthcoming, happened during the wedding banquet of
Alexander III. at Jedburgh Castle, a weird and gruesome episode which
Edgar Poe expanded into his "Masque of the Red Death." The story goes
that in the midst of the festivities, a mysterious figure glided
amongst the astonished guests--tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head
to foot in the habiliments of the grave, the mask which concealed the
visage resembling the countenance of a stiffened corpse.

"Who dares," demands the royal host, "to insult us with this
blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him, that we may know whom
we have to hang at sunrise from the battlements."

But when the awe-struck revellers took courage and grasped the figure,
"they gasped in unutterable horror on finding the grave cerements and
corpse-like mask, which they handled with so violent a rudeness,
untenanted by any tangible form, vanishing as suddenly as it had
appeared." All sorts of theories have been suggested to account for
this mysterious figure, but no satisfactory solution has been
forthcoming, an incident of which, it may be remembered, Heywood has
given a graphic picture:

    In the mid-revels, the first ominous night
    Of their espousals, when the room shone bright
    With lighted tapers--the king and queen leading
    The curious measures, lords and ladies treading
    The self-same strains--the king looks back by chance
    And spies a strange intruder fill the dance,
    Namely, a mere anatomy, quite bare,
    His naked limbs both without flesh and hair
    (As he deciphers Death), who stalks about,
    Keeping true measure till the dance be out.

Inexplicable, however, as the presence of this unearthly, mysterious
personage was felt to be by all engaged in the marriage revels, it
was regarded as the forerunner of some approaching catastrophe.
Prophets and seers lost no time in turning the affair to their own
interest, and amongst them Thomas the Rhymer predicted that the 16th
of March would be "the stormiest day that ever was witnessed in
Scotland." But when the supposed ill-fated day arrived, it was the
very reverse of stormy, being still and mild, and public opinion began
to ridicule the prophetic utterance of Thomas the Rhymer, when, to the
amazement and consternation of all, there came the appalling news,
"The king is dead," whereupon Thomas the Rhymer ejaculated, "That is
the storm which I meant, and there was never tempest which will bring
to Scotland more ill-luck."

The disappearance of the heir to a property, which has always been a
favourite subject with novelists and romance writers, has occasionally
happened in real life, and a Shropshire legend relates how, long ago,
the heir of the house of Corbet went away to the wars, and remained
absent so many years that his family--as in the case of Enoch
Arden--gave up all hope of ever seeing him again, and eventually
mourned for him as dead. His younger brother succeeded to the
property, and prepared to take to himself a wife, and reign in the old
family hall.

But on the wedding day, in the midst of the feasting, a pilgrim came
to the gate asking hospitality and alms. He was bidden to sit down
and share the feast, but scarcely was the banquet ended when the
pilgrim revealed himself as the long lost elder brother. The
disconcerted bridegroom acknowledged him at once, but the latter
generously resigned the greater part of the estates to his brother,
and, sooner than mar the prospects of the newly married couple, he
lived a life of obscurity upon one small manor. There seems, however,
to be a very small basis of fact for this story. The Corbets of
Shropshire--one branch of whom are owners of Moreton Corbet--are among
the very oldest of the many old Shropshire families. They trace their
descent back to Corbet the Norman, whose sons, Robert and Roger,
appear in Domesday Book as holding large estates under Roger, Earl of
Shrewsbury. The grandsons of Roger Corbet were Thomas Corbet of
Wattlesborough, and Robert Corbet. Thomas, who was evidently the elder
of the two, it seems went beyond seas, leaving his lands in the
custody of his brother Robert. Both brothers left descendants, but the
elder branch of the family never attained to such rank and prosperity
as the younger one." Hence, perhaps, the origin of the legend; but
Moreton Corbet did not come into the possession of the family till
long after this date.[15]

Whatever truth there may be in this old tradition, there is every
reason to believe that some of the worst tragedies recorded in family
history have been due to jealousy; and an extraordinary instance of
such unnatural feeling was that displayed by the second wife of Sir
Robert Scott, of Thirlestane, one of the most distinguished cadets of
the great House of Buccleuch. Distracted with mortification that her
husband's rich inheritance would descend to his son by his first wife,
she secretly resolved to compass the destruction of her step-son, and
determined to execute her hateful purpose at the festivities held in
honour of the young laird's twentieth birthday. Having taken into her
confidence one John Lally, the family piper, this wretched man
procured three adders, from which he selected the parts replete with
the most deadly poison, and, after grinding them to fine powder, Lady
Thirlestane mixed them in a bottle of wine. Previous to the
commencement of the birthday feast, the young laird having called for
wine to drink the healths of the workmen who had just completed the
mason work of the new Castle of Gamescleugh--his future residence--the
piper Lally filled a silver cup from the poisoned bottle, which the
ill-fated youth hastily drank off. So potent was the poison that the
young laird died within an hour, and a feeling of horror seized the
birthday guests as to who could have done so foul a deed. But the
father seems to have had his suspicions, and having caused a bugle to
be blown, as a signal for all the family to assemble in the castle
court, he inquired, "Are we all here?"

A voice answered, "All but the piper, John Lally!"

These words, it is said, sounded like a knell in Sir Robert's ear, and
the truth was manifest to him. But unwilling to make a public example
of his own wife, he adopted a somewhat unique method of vengeance, and
publicly proclaimed that as he could not bestow the estate on his son
while alive, he would spend it upon him when dead. Accordingly, the
body of his son was embalmed with the most costly drugs, and lay in
state for a year and a day, during which time Sir Robert kept open
house, feasting all who chose to be his guests; Lady Thirlestane
meanwhile being imprisoned in a vault of the castle, and fed upon
bread and water. "During the last three days of this extraordinary
feast", writes Sir Bernard Burke,[16] "the crowds were immense. It was
as if the whole of the south of Scotland was assembled at Thirlestane.
Butts of the richest and rarest wine were carried into the fields,
their ends were knocked out with hatchets, and the liquor was carried
about in stoups. The burn of Thirlestane literally ran with wine." Sir
Robert died soon afterwards, and left his family in utter destitution,
his wife dying in absolute beggary. Thus was avenged the crime of this
cruel and unprincipled woman, whose fatal jealousy caused the ruin of
the family.

Political intrigue, again, has been the origin of many an act of
treachery, done under the semblance of hospitality, or given rise to
strange incidents.

To go back to early times, it seems that Edward the Confessor had long
indulged a suspicion that Earl Godwin--who had in the first instance
accused Queen Emma of having caused the death of her son--was himself
implicated in that transaction. It so happened that the King and a
large concourse of prelates and nobility were holding a large dinner
at Winchester, in honour of the Easter festival, when the butler, in
bringing in a dish, slipped, but recovered his balance by making
adroit use of his other foot.

"Thus does brother assist brother," exclaimed Earl Godwin, thinking to
be witty at the butler's expense.

"And thus might I have been now assisted by my Alfred, if Earl Godwin
had not prevented it," replied the King: for the Earl's remark had
recalled to his mind the suspicion he had long entertained of the Earl
having been concerned in Prince Alfred's death.

Resenting the king's words, the Earl holding up the morsel which he
was about to eat, uttered a great oath, and in the name of God
expressed a wish that the morsel might choke him if he had in any way
been concerned in that murder. Accordingly he there and then put the
morsel into his mouth, and attempted to swallow it; but his efforts
were in vain, it stuck fast in his throat--immovable upward or
downward--his respiration failed, his eyes became fixed, his
countenance convulsed, and in a minute more he fell dead under the
table.

Edward, convinced of the Earl's guilt, and seeing divine justice
manifested, and remembering, it is said, with bitterness the days past
when he had given a willing ear to the calumnies spread about his
innocent mother, cried out, in an indignant voice, "Carry away that
dog, and bury him in the high road." But the body was deposited by the
Earl's cousin in the cathedral.

Several accounts have been written of that terrible banquet, to which
the Earl of Douglas was invited by Sir Alexander Livingstone and the
Chancellor Crichton--who craftily dissembled their intentions--to sup
at the royal table in the Castle of Edinburgh. The Earl was foolhardy
enough to accept the ill-fated invitation, and shortly after he had
taken his place at the festive board, the head of a black bull--the
certain omen, in those days in Scotland, of immediate death--was
placed on the table. The Earl, anticipating treachery, instantly
sprang to his feet, and lost no time in making every effort to escape.
But no chance was given him to do so, and with his younger brother he
was hurried along into the courtyard of the castle, and after being
subjected to a mock trial, he was beheaded "in the back court of the
castle that lieth to the west". The death of the young earl, and his
untimely fate, were the subjects of lament in one of the ballads of
the time.

    "Edinburgh castle, town, and tower,
      God grant them sink for sin;
    And that even for the black dinner
      Earl Douglas gat therein."

This emphatic malediction is cited by Hume of Godscroft in his
"History of the House of Douglas," as referring to William, sixth Earl
of Douglas, a youth of eighteen; and Hume, speaking of this
transaction, says, with becoming indignation: "It is sure the people
did abhorre it--execrating the very place where it was done, in
detestation of the fact--of which the memory remaineth yet to our
dayes in these words."

Many similar stories are recorded in the history of the past, the
worst form of treachery oftentimes lurking beneath the festive cup,
and in times of commotion, when suspicion and mistrust made men feel
insecure even when entertained in the banqueting hall of some powerful
host, it is not surprising that great persons had their food tasted by
those who were supposed to have made themselves acquainted with its
wholesomeness. But this practice could not always afford security when
the taster was ready to sacrifice his own life, as in King John (act
v. sc. 6):

  HUBERT. The king, I fear, is poisoned by a monk:
          I left him almost speechless.

  BASTARD. How did he take it? Who did taste to him?

  HUBERT. A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain.

But, in modern days, one of the most unnatural tragedies on record was
the murder of Sir John Goodere, Foote's maternal uncle, by his brother
Captain Goodere, a naval officer. In the year 1740, the two brothers
dined at a friend's house near Bristol. For a long time they had been
on bad terms, owing to certain money transactions, but at the dinner
table a reconciliation was, to all appearance, made between them. But
it was a most terrible piece of underhand treachery, for on leaving
that dinner table, Sir John was waylaid on his return home by some men
from his brother's vessel--acting by his brother's authority--carried
on board, and deliberately strangled; Captain Goodere not only
unconcernedly looking on, but actually furnishing the rope with which
this fearful crime was committed. One of the strangest parts of this
terrible tale, Foote used to relate, was the fact that on the night
the murder was committed he arrived at his father's house in Truro,
and was kept awake for some time by the softest and sweetest strains
of music he had ever heard. At first he fancied it might be a serenade
got up by some of the family to welcome him home, but not being able
to discover any trace of the musicians, he came to the conclusion that
he was deceived by his own imagination. Shortly afterwards, however,
he learnt that the murder had been committed at the same hour of the
same night as he had been haunted by the mysterious sounds. In after
days, he often spoke of this curious occurrence, regarding it as a
supernatural warning, a conviction which he retained till his death.

But, strange and varied as are the scenes that have taken place at the
banquet, whether great or small, such acts of fratricide have been
rare, although, according to a family tradition relating to
Osbaldeston Hall, a similar tragedy once happened at a family banquet.
There is one room in the old hall whose walls are smeared with several
red marks, which, it is said, can never be obliterated. These stains
have some resemblance to blood, and are generally supposed to have
been caused when, many years ago, one of the family was brutally
murdered. The story commonly current is that there was once a great
family gathering at Osbaldeston Hall, at which every member of the
family was present. The feast passed off satisfactorily, and the
liquor was flowing freely round, when, unfortunately, family
differences began to be discussed. These soon caused angry
recriminations, and at length two of the company challenged each other
to mortal combat. Friends interfered, and, by the judicious
intervention on their part, the quarrel seemed to be made up. But soon
afterwards the two accidentally met in this room, and Thomas
Osbaldeston drew his sword and murdered his brother-in-law without
resistance. For this crime he was deemed a felon, and forfeited his
lands. Ever since that ill-fated day the room has been haunted.
Tradition says that the ghost of the murdered man continues to haunt
the scene of the conflict, and during the silent hours of the night it
may be seen passing from the room with uplifted hands, and with the
appearance of blood streaming from a wound in the breast.[17]

But, turning to incidents of a less tragic nature, an amusing story is
told of the Earl of Hopetoun, who, when he could not induce a certain
Scottish laird, named Dundas, to sell his old family residence known
as "The Tower," which was on the very verge of his own beautiful
pleasure grounds, tried to lead him on to a more expensive style of
living than that to which he had been accustomed, thinking thereby he
might run into debt, and be compelled to sell his property.

Accordingly, Dundas was frequently invited to Hopetoun House, and on
one occasion his lordship invited himself and a fashionable shooting
party to "The Tower," "congratulating himself on the hole which a few
dinners like this would make in the old laird's rental." But, as soon
as the covers were removed from the dishes, no small chagrin was
caused to Lord Hopetoun and his friends when their eyes rested on "a
goodly array of alternate herrings and potatoes spread from the top to
the bottom," Dundas at the same time inviting his guests to pledge
him in a bumper of excellent whiskey. Drinking jocularly to his
lordship's health, he humorously said, "It won't do, my lord; it won't
do! But, whenever you or your guests will honour my poor hall of Stang
Hill Tower with your presence at this hour, I promise you no worse
fare than now set before you, the best and fattest salt herrings that
the Forth can produce, and the strongest mountain dew. To this I beg
that your lordship and your honoured friends may do ample justice."

It is needless to say that Lord Hopetoun never dined again at Stang
Hill Tower but some time after, when Dundas was on his death-bed, he
advised his son to make the best terms he could with Lord Hopetoun,
remarking, "He will, sooner or later, have our little property." An
exchange was made highly advantageous to the Dundas family, the estate
of Aithrey being made over to them.[18]

A curious and humorous narrative is told of General Dalzell, a noted
persecutor of the Covenanters. In the course of his Continental
service he had been brought into the immediate circle of the German
Court, and one day had the honour to be a guest at a splendid Imperial
banquet, where, as a part of his state, the German Emperor was waited
on by the great feudal dignitaries of the empire, one of whom was the
Duke of Modena, the head of the illustrious house of Este. After his
appointment by Charles II. as Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, he was
invited by the Duke of York--afterwards James II., and then residing
at Holyrood--to dine with him and the Duchess, Princess May of Modena.
But as this was, we are told, what might be called a family dinner,
the Duchess demurred to the General being admitted to such an honour,
whereupon he naively replied that this was not his first introduction
to the house of Este, for that he had known her Royal Highness's
father, the Duke of Modena, and that he had stood behind his chair,
while he sat by the Emperor's side.

There was another kind of banquet, in which it has been remarked the
defunct had the principal honours, having the same ceremonious respect
paid to his waxen image as though he were alive. Thus we are reminded
how the famous Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough demonstrated her
appreciation for Congreve in a most extraordinary manner. Report goes
that she had his figure made in wax, talked to it as if it had been
alive, placed it at the table with her, took every care that it was
supplied with different sorts of meat, and, in short, the same
formalities were, throughout, scrupulously observed in these weird and
strange repasts, just as if Congreve himself had been present.

Saint Foix, it may be remembered, who wrote in the time of Louis XIV.,
has left an interesting account of the ceremonial after the death of
a King of France, during the forty days before the funeral, when his
wax effigy lay in state. It appears that the royal officers served him
at meals as though he were still alive, the maître d'hotel handed the
napkin to the highest lord present to be delivered to the king, a
prelate blessed the table, and the basins of water were handed to the
royal armchair. Grace was said in the accustomed manner, save that
there was added to it the "De Profundis." We cannot be surprised that
such strange proceedings as these gave rise to much ridicule, and
helped to bring the Court itself into contempt.


FOOTNOTES:

[15] Miss Jackson's "Shropshire Folklore," 101.

[16] Family Romance, 1853, pp. 1-8.

[17] Harland's "Lancashire Legends," 271-2.

[18] Sir Bernard Burke, "Family Romance," 1853, I., 307-12.



CHAPTER V.

MYSTERIOUS ROOMS.

    A jolly place, said he, in days of old;
    But something ails it now--the spot is curst.
               WORDSWORTH.


A peculiar feature of many old country houses is the so-called
"strange room," around which the atmosphere of mystery has long clung.
In certain cases, such rooms have gained an unenviable notoriety from
having been the scene, in days gone by, of some tragic occurrence, the
memory of which has survived in the local legend, or tradition. The
existence, too, of such rooms has supplied the novelist with the most
valuable material for the construction of those plots in which the
mysterious element holds a prominent place. Historical romance, again,
with its tales of adventure, has invested numerous rooms with a grim
aspect, and caused the imagination to conjure up all manner of weird
and unearthly fancies concerning them. Walpole, for instance, writing
of Berkeley Castle, says: "The room shown for the murder of Edward
II., and the shrieks of an agonising king, I verily believe to be
genuine. It is a dismal chamber, almost at the top of the house, quite
detached, and to be approached only by a kind of footbridge, and from
that descends a large flight of steps that terminates on strong gates,
exactly a situation for a _corps de garde_." And speaking of Edward's
imprisonment here, may be mentioned the pathetic story told by Sir
Richard Baker, in his usual odd, circumstantial manner: "When Edward
II. was taken by order of his Queen and carried to Berkeley Castle, to
the end that he should not be known, they shaved his head and beard,
and that in a most beastly manner; for they took him from his horse
and set him upon a hillock, and then, taking puddle water out of a
ditch thereby, they went to wash him, his barber telling him that the
cold water must serve for this time; whereat the miserable king,
looking sternly upon him, said that whether they would or no he would
have warm water to wash him, and therewithal, to make good his word,
he presently shed forth a shower of tears. Never was king turned out
of a kingdom in such a manner." And there can be no doubt that many of
the rooms which have attracted notice on account of their
architectural peculiarities, were purposely designed for concealment
in times of political commotion. Of the numerous stories told of the
mysterious death of Lord Lovel, one informs us[19] how, on the
demolition of a very old house--formerly the patrimony of the
Lovel's--about a century ago, there was found in a small chamber, so
secret that the farmer who inhabited the house knew it not, the
remains of an immured being, and such remnants of barrels and jars as
appeared to justify the idea of that chamber having been used as a
place of refuge for the lord of the mansion; and that after consuming
the stores which he had provided in case of a disastrous event, he
died unknown even to his servants and tenants. But the circumstances
attending Lord Lovell's death have always been matter of conjecture,
and in the "Annals of England," another version of the story is
given:[20] "Lord Lovel is believed to have escaped from the field, and
to have lived for a while in concealment at Minster Lovel,
Oxfordshire, but at length to have been starved to death through the
neglect or treachery of an attendant."

At Broughton Castle there is a curiously designed room, which, at one
time or another, has attracted considerable attention. According to
Lord Nugent, in his "Memorials of Hampden," this room is "so
contrived, by being surrounded by thick stone walls, and casemated,
that no sound from within can be heard. The chamber appears to have
been built about the time of King John, and is reported, on very
doubtful grounds of tradition, to have been the room used for the
sittings of the Puritans." And, he adds: "It seems an odd fancy,
although a very prevailing one, to suppose that wise men, employed in
capital matters of state, must needs choose the most mysterious and
suspicious retirements for consultation, instead of the safer and less
remarkable expedient of a walk in the open fields." It was probably in
this room that the secret meetings of Hampden and his confederates
were held, which Anthony à Wood thus describes: "Several years before
the Civil War began, Lord Sage, being looked upon as the godfather of
that party, had meetings of them in his house at Broughton, where was
a room and passage thereunto, which his servants were prohibited to
come near. And when they were of a complete number, there would be a
great noise and talkings heard among them, to the admiration of those
that lived in the house, yet never could they discern their lord's
companions."

Amongst other secret rooms which have their historical associations,
are those at Hendlip Hall, near Worcester. This famous residence--which
has scarcely a room that is not provided with some means of escape--is
commonly reported to have been built by John Abingdon in the reign of
Queen Elizabeth, this personage having been a zealous partisan of Mary
Queen of Scots. It was here also, under the care of Mr. and Mrs.
Abingdon, that Father Garnet was concealed for several weeks in the
winter of 1605-6, but who eventually paid the penalty of his guilty
knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot. A hollow in the wall of Mrs.
Abingdon's bedroom was covered up, and there was a narrow crevice into
which a reed was laid, so that soup and wine could be passed by her
into the recess, without the fact being noticed from any other room.
But the Government, suspecting that some of the Gunpowder Conspirators
were concealed at Hendlip Hall, sent Sir Henry Bromley, of Holt Castle,
a justice of the peace, with the most minute orders, which are very
funny: "In the search," says the document, "first observe the parlour
where they use to dine and sup; in the last part of that parlour it is
conceived there is some vault, which to discover, you must take care to
draw down the wainscot, whereby the entry into the vault may be
discovered. The lower parts of the house must be tried with a broach,
by putting the same into the ground some foot or two, to try whether
there may be perceived some timber, which if there be, there must be
some vault underneath it. For the upper rooms you must observe whether
they be more in breadth than the lower rooms, and look in which places
the rooms must be enlarged, by pulling out some boards you may discover
some vaults. Also, if it appear that there be some corners to the
chimneys, and the same boarded, if the boards be taken away there will
appear some secret place. If the walls seem to be thick and covered
with wainscot, being tried with a gimlet, if it strike not the wall but
go through, some suspicion is to be had thereof. If there be any
double loft, some two or three feet, one above another, in such places
any person may be harboured privately. Also, if there be a loft towards
the roof of the house, in which there appears no entrance out of any
other place or lodging, it must of necessity be opened and looked into,
for these be ordinary places of hovering (hiding)."

The house was searched from garret to cellar without any discovery
being made, and Mrs. Abingdon, feigning to be angry with the
searchers, shut herself up in her bedroom day and night, eating and
drinking there, by which means through the secret tube she fed Father
Garnet and another Jesuit father. But after a protracted search of ten
days, these two men surrendered themselves, pressed, it is said, "for
the need of air rather than food, for marmalade and other sweetmeats
were found in their den, and they had warm and nutritive drinks passed
to them by the reed through the chimney," as already described. This
historic mansion, it may be added, on account of its elevated
position, was capitally adapted as a place of concealment, for "it
afforded the means of keeping a watchful look-out for the approach of
the emissaries of the law, or of persons by whom it might have been
dangerous for any skulking priest to be seen, supposing his reverence
to have gone forth for an hour to take the air."

Another important instance of a strange room is that existing at
Ingatestone Hall, in Essex, which was, in years gone by, a summer
residence belonging to the Abbey of Barking. It came with the estate
into possession of the family of Petre in the reign of Henry VIII.,
and continued to be occupied as their family seat until the latter
half of the last century. In the south-east corner of a small room
attached to what was probably the host's bedroom, there was discovered
some years ago a mysterious hiding place--fourteen feet long, two feet
broad, and ten feet high. On some floor-boards being removed, a hole
or trap door--about two feet square--was found, with a twelve-foot
ladder, to descend into the room below, the floor of which was
composed of nine inches of dry sand. This, on being examined, brought
to light a few bones which, it has been suggested, are the remains of
food supplied to some unfortunate occupant during confinement. But the
existence of this secret room must, it is said, have been familiar to
the heads of the family for several generations, evidence of this
circumstance being afforded by a packing case which was found in this
hidden retreat, and upon which was the following direction: "For the
Right Honble the Lady Petre, at Ingatestone Hall, in Essex." The wood,
also, was in a decayed state, and the writing in an antiquated style,
which is only what might be expected considering that the Petre family
left Ingatestone Hall between the years 1770 and 1780.

There are numerous rooms of this curious description which, it must be
remembered, were, in many cases, the outcome of religious intolerance
in the sixteenth century, and early in the seventeenth, when the
celebration of Mass in this country was forbidden. Hence those families
that persisted in adhering to the Roman Catholic faith oftentimes kept
a priest, who celebrated it in a room--opening whence was a secret one,
to which in case of emergency he could retreat. Evelyn in his _Diary_,
speaking of Ham House, at Weybridge, belonging to the Duke of Norfolk,
as having some of these secret rooms, writes: "My lord, leading me
about the house, made no scruple of showing me all the hiding places
for Popish priests, and where they said Masse, for he was no bigoted
papist." The old Manor House at Dinsdale-upon-Tees has a secret room,
which is very cleverly situated at the top of the staircase, to which
access is gained from above. The compartment is not very large, and is
between two bedrooms, and alongside of the fireplace of one of them.
"It would be a very snug place when the fire was lighted," writes a
correspondent of "Notes and Queries," "and very secure, as it is
necessary to enter the cockloft by a trap door at the extreme end of
the building, and then crawl along under the roof into the hiding-place
by a second trap-door." Among further instances of these curious relics
of the past may be mentioned Armscott Manor, two or three miles distant
from Shipston-on-Stour. According to a local tradition, George Fox at
one time lived here. In a passage at the top of the house is the
entrance to a secret room, which receives light from a small window in
one of the gables, and in this room George Fox is said to have been
concealed during the period he was persecuted by the county
magistrates.

But sometimes such rooms furthered the designs of those who abetted
and connived at deeds that would not bear the light, and Southey
records an anecdote which is a good illustration of the bad uses to
which they were probably often put: "At Bishop's Middleham, a man died
with the reputation of a water drinker; and it was discovered that he
had killed himself by secret drunkenness. There was a Roman Catholic
hiding place, the entrance to which was from his bedroom. He converted
it into a cellar, and the quantity of brandy which he had consumed was
ascertained." Indeed, it is impossible to say to what ends these
secret rooms were occasionally devoted; and there is little doubt but
that they were the scenes of many of those thrilling stories upon
which many of our local traditions have been founded.

Political refugees, too, were not infrequently secreted in these
hiding places, and in the Manor House, Trent, near Sherborne, there is
a strangely constructed chamber, entered from one of the upper rooms
through a sliding panel in the oak wainscoting, in which tradition
tells us Charles II. lay concealed for a fortnight on his escape to
the coast, after the battle of Worcester. And Boscobel House, which
also afforded Charles II. a safe retreat, has two secret chambers; and
there are indications which point to the former existence of a third.
The hiding place in which the King was hidden is situated in the
squire's bedroom. It appears there was formerly a sliding panel in the
wainscot, near the fireplace, which, when opened, gave access to a
closet, the false floor of which still admits of a person taking up
his position in this secret nook. The wainscoting, too, which
concealed the movable panel in the bedroom was originally covered with
tapestry, with which the room was hung. A curious story is told of
Street Place, an old house, a mile and a half north of Plumpton, in
the neighbourhood of Lewes, which dates from the time of James I., and
was the seat of the Dobells. Behind the great chimney-piece of the
hall was a deep recess, used for purposes of concealment; and it is
said that one day a cavalier horseman, hotly pursued by some troopers,
broke into the hall, spurred his horse into the recess, and
disappeared for ever.

Bistmorton Court, an old moated manor house in the Malvern district,
has a cunningly contrived secret room, which is opened by means of a
spring, and this hidden nook is commonly reported to have played an
important part in the War of the Roses, when numerous persons were
concealed there at this troublous period. And a curious discovery was
made some years ago at Danby Hall, in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, when, on
a small secret room being brought to light, it was found to contain
arms and saddlery for a troop of forty or fifty horse. It is generally
supposed that these weapons had been hidden away in readiness for the
Jacobite rising of 1715 or 1745.

In certain cases it would appear that, for some reason or other, the
hiding place has been specially kept a secret among members of the
family. In the north of England there is Netherall, near Maryport,
Cumberland, the seat of the old family of Senhouse. In this old
mansion there is said to be a veritable secret room, its exact
position in the house being known but to two persons--the heir-at-law
and the family solicitor. It is affirmed that never has the secret of
this hidden room been revealed to more than two living persons at a
time. This mysterious room has no window, and, despite every endeavour
to discover it, has successfully defied the ingenuity of even visitors
staying in the house. This Netherall tradition is very similar to the
celebrated one connected with Glamis Castle, the seat of Lord
Strathmore, only in the latter case the secret room possesses a
window, which, nevertheless, has not led to its identification. It is
known as the "secret room" of the castle, and, although every other
part of the castle has been satisfactorily explored, the search for
this famous room has been in vain. None are supposed to be acquainted
with its locality save Lord Strathmore, his heir, and the factor of
the estate, who are bound not to reveal it unless to their successors
in the secret. Many weird stories have clustered round this remarkable
room; one legend connected with which has been thus described:

    The castle now again behold,
    Then mark yon lofty turret bold,
    Which frowns above the western wing,
    Its grim walls darkly shadowing.
    There is a room within that tower
    No mortal dare approach; the power
    Of an avenging God is there.
    Dread--awfully display'd--beware!
    And enter not that dreadful room,
    Else yours may be a fearful doom.

According to one legendary romance--founded on an incident which is
said to have occurred during one of the carousals of the Earl of
Crawford, otherwise styled "Earl Beardie" or the "Tiger Earl"--there
was many years ago a grand "meet" at Glamis, as the result of which
many a noble deer lay dead upon the hill, and many a grizzly boar dyed
with his heart's blood the rivers of the plain. As the day drew to its
close, "the wearied huntsmen, with their fair attendants, returned,
'midst the sounds of martial music and the low whispered roundelays of
the ladies, victorious to the castle." In the old baronial dining hall
was spread a sumptuous and savoury feast, at which "venison and
reeking game, rich smoked ham and savoury roe, flanked by the wild
boar's head, and viands and pasties without name, blent profusely on
the hospitable board, while jewelled and capacious goblets, filled
with ruby wine, were lavishly handed round to the admiring guests."

At the completion of the banquet, the minstrel strung his ancient
harp, and soon the company tripped lightly on the oaken floor, till
the rafters rang with the merry sounds of their midnight revelry. For
three days and nights the hunt and the feast continued, and as, at
last, the revelries drew to a close, still four dark chieftains
remained in the inner chamber of the castle, "and sang, and drank, and
shouted, right merrilie. The day broke, yet louder rang the wassail
roar; the goblets were over and over again replenished, and the
terrible oaths and ribald songs continued, and the dice rattled, and
the revelry became louder still, till the many walls of the old castle
shook and reverberated with the awful sounds of debauchery, blasphemy,
and crime."

"At length their wild, ungovernable frenzy reached its climax. They
had drunk until their eyes had grown dim, and their hands could
scarcely hold the hellish dice, when, driven by expiring fury, with
fiendish glee, they defiantly gnashed their teeth and cursed the God
of heaven! Then, with returning strength, and exhausting its last and
fitful energies in still louder imprecations and more fearful yells,
they deliberately and with unanimous voice consigned their guilty
souls to the nethermost hell! Fatal words! In a bright, broad sheet of
lurid and sulphurous flame the Prince of Darkness appeared in their
midst, and struck--not the shaft of death, but the vitality of eternal
life--and there to this day in that dreaded room they sit, transfixed
in all their hideous expression of ghastly terror and dismay--doomed
to drink the wine cup and throw the dice till the dawning of the Great
Judgment Day."[21]

Another explanation of the mystery is that during one of the feuds
between the Lindsays and the Ogilvies, a number of the latter Clan,
flying from their enemies, came to Glamis Castle, and begged
hospitality of the owner. He admitted them, and on the plea of hiding
them, he secured them all in this room, and then left them to starve.
Their bones, it is averred, lie there to this day, the sight of which,
it has been stated, so appalled the late Lord Strathmore on entering
the room, that he had it walled up. Some assert that, owing to some
hereditary curse, like those described in a previous chapter, at
certain intervals a kind of vampire is born into the family of the
Strathmore Lyons, and that as no one would like to destroy this
monstrosity, it is kept concealed till its term of life is run. But,
whatever the mystery may be, such rooms, like the locked chamber of
Blue Beard, are not open to vulgar gaze, a circumstance which has
naturally perpetuated the curiosity attached to them. The reputation,
too, which Glamis Castle has long had for possessing so strange a room
has led to a host of the most gruesome stories being circulated in
connection with it, many of which from time to time have appeared in
print. According to one account,[22] "a lady, very well known in
London society, an artistic and social celebrity, went to stay at
Glamis Castle for the first time. She was allotted very handsome
apartments just on the point of junction between the new
buildings--perhaps a hundred or two hundred years old--and the very
ancient part of the castle. The rooms were handsomely furnished; no
grim tapestry swung to and fro, all was smooth, easy, and modern, and
the guest retired to bed without a thought of the mysteries of Glamis.
In the morning she appeared at the breakfast table cheerful and
self-possessed, and, to the inquiry how she had slept, replied, "Well,
thanks, very well, up to four o'clock in the morning. But your
Scottish carpenters seem to come to work very early. I suppose they
are putting up their scaffolding quickly, though, for they are quiet
now."

Her remarks were followed by a dead silence, and, to her surprise, she
noticed that the faces of the family party were very pale. But, she
was asked, as she valued the friendship of all there, never to speak
on that subject again, there had been no carpenters at Glamis for
months past. The lady, it seems, had not the remotest idea that the
hammering she had heard was connected with any story, and had no
notion of there being some mystery connected with the noise until
enlightened on the matter at the breakfast table.

At Rushen Castle, Isle of Man, there is said to be a room which has
never been opened in the memory of man. Various explanations have been
assigned to account for this circumstance, one being that the old
place was once inhabited by giants, who were dislodged by Merlin, and
such as were not driven away remain spellbound beneath the castle.
Waldron, in his "Description of the Isle of Man," has given a curious
tradition respecting this strange room, in which the supernatural
element holds a prominent place, and which is a good sample of other
stories of the same kind: "They say there are a great many fine
apartments underground, exceeding in magnificence any of the upper
rooms. Several men, of more than ordinary courage have, in former
times, ventured down to explore the secrets of this subterranean
dwelling-place, but as none of them ever returned to give an account
of what they saw, the passages to it were kept continually shut that
no more might suffer by their temerity. But about fifty years since, a
person of uncommon courage obtained permission to explore the dark
abode. He went down, and returned by the help of a clue of packthread,
and made this report: 'That after having passed through a great number
of vaults he came into a long narrow place, along which having
travelled, as far as he could guess, for the space of a mile, he saw a
little gleam of light. Reaching at last the end of this lane of
darkness, he perceived a very large and magnificent house, illuminated
with a great many candles, whence proceeded the light just mentioned.
After knocking at the door three times, it was opened by a servant,
who asked him what he wanted. "I would go as far as I can," he
replied; "be so kind as to direct me, for I see no passage but the
dark cavern through which I came hither." The servant directed him to
go through the house, and led him through a long entrance passage and
out at the back door. After walking a considerable distance, he saw
another house, more magnificent than the former, where he saw through
the open windows lamps burning in every room. He was about to knock,
but looking in at the window of a low parlour, he saw in the middle of
the room a large table of black marble, on which lay extended a
monster of at least fourteen feet long, and ten round the body, with a
sword beside him. He therefore deemed it prudent to make his way back
to the first house where the servant reconducted him, and informed him
that if he had knocked at the second door he never would have
returned. He then took his leave, and once more ascended to the light
of the sun.'"

But, leaving rooms of this supernatural kind, we may allude to those
which have acquired a strange notoriety from certain peculiarities of
a somewhat gruesome character; and, with tales of horror attached to
their guilty walls, it is not surprising that many rooms in our old
country houses have long been said to be troubled with mysterious
noises, and to have an uncanny aspect. Wye Coller Hall, near Colne,
which was long the seat of the Cunliffes of Billington, had a room
which the timid long avoided. Once a year, it is said, a spectre
horseman visits this house and makes his way up the broad oaken
staircase into a certain room, from whence "dreadful screams, as from
a woman, are heard, which soon subside into groans." The story goes
that one of the Cunliffes murdered his wife in that room, and that the
spectre horseman is the ghost of the murderer, who is doomed to pay an
annual visit to the house of his victim, who is said to have predicted
the extinction of the family, which has literally been fulfilled. This
strange visitor is always attired in the costume of the early Stuart
period, and the trappings of his horse are of a most uncouth
description; the evening of his arrival being generally wild and
tempestuous.

At Creslow Manor House, Buckinghamshire, there is another mysterious
room which, although furnished as a bedroom, is very rarely used, for
it cannot be entered, even in the daytime, without trepidation and
awe. According to common report, this room, which is situated in the
most ancient portion of the building, is haunted by the restless
spirit of a lady, long since deceased. What the antecedent history of
this uncomfortable room really is no one seems to know, although it is
generally agreed that in the distant past it must have been the silent
witness of some tragic occurrence.

But Littlecote House, the ancient seat of the Darrells, is renowned,
writes Lord Macaulay, "not more on account of its venerable
architecture and furniture, than on account of a horrible and
mysterious crime which was perpetrated there in the days of the
Tudors." One of the bedchambers, which is said to have been the scene
of a terrible murder, contains a bedstead with blue furniture, which
time has made dingy and threadbare. In the bottom of one of the bed
curtains is shown a strange place where a small piece has been cut out
and sewn in again--a circumstance which served to identify the scene
of a remarkable story, in connection with which, however, there are
several discrepancies. According to one account, when Littlecote was
in possession of its founders--the Darrells--a midwife of high repute
dwelt in the neighbourhood, who, on returning home from a professional
visit at a late hour of the night, had gone to rest only to be
disturbed by one who desired to have her immediate help, little
anticipating the terrible night's adventure in store for her, and
which shall be told in her own words:

"As soon as she had unfastened the door, a hand was thrust in which
struck down the candle, and at the same time pulled her into the road.
The person who had used these abrupt means desired her to tie a
handkerchief over her head and not wait for a hat, and, leading her to
a stile where there was a horse saddled, with a pillion on its back,
he desired her to seat herself, and then, mounting, they set off at a
brisk trot. After travelling for an hour and a half, they entered a
paved court, or yard, and her conductor, lifting her off her horse,
led her into the house, and thus addressed her: 'You must now suffer
me to put this cap and bandage over your eyes, which will allow you to
breathe and speak, but not to see. Keep up your presence of mind; it
will be wanted. No harm will happen to you.' Then, taking her into a
chamber, he added, 'Now you are in a room with a lady in labour.
Perform your office well, and you shall be amply rewarded; but if you
attempt to remove the bandage from your eyes, take the reward of your
rashness."

Shortly afterwards a male child was born, and as soon as this crisis
was over the woman received a glass of wine, and was told to prepare
to return home, but in the interval she contrived to cut off a small
piece of the bed curtain--an act which was supposed sufficient
evidence to fix the mysterious transaction as having happened at
Littlecote. According to Sir Walter Scott, the bandage was first put
over the woman's eyes on her leaving her own house that she might be
unable to tell which way she travelled, and was only removed when she
was led into the mysterious bedchamber, where, besides the lady in
labour, there was a man of a "haughty and ferocious" aspect. As soon
as the child was born, adds Scott, he demanded the midwife to give it
him, and, hurrying across the room, threw it on the back of a fire
that was blazing in the chimney, in spite of the piteous entreaties of
the mother. Suspicion eventually fell on Darrell, whose house was
identified by the midwife, and he was tried for murder at Salisbury,
"but, by corrupting his judge, Sir John Popham, he escaped the
sentence of the law, only to die a violent death by a fall from his
horse." This tale of horror, it may be added, has been carefully
examined, and there is little doubt but that in its main and most
prominent features it is true, the bedstead with a piece of the
curtain cut out identifying the spot as the scene of the tragic
act.[23]

With this strange story Sir Walter Scott compares a similar one which
was current at Edinburgh during his childhood. About the beginning of
the eighteenth century, when "the large castles of the Scottish
nobles, and even the secluded hotels, like those of the French
_noblesse_, which they possessed in Edinburgh, were sometimes the
scenes of mysterious transactions, a divine of singular sanctity was
called up at midnight to pray with a person at the point of death." He
was put into a sedan chair, and after being transported to a remote
part of the town, he was blindfolded--an act which was enforced by a
cocked pistol. After many turns and windings the chair was carried
upstairs into a lodging, where his eyes were uncovered, and he was
introduced into a bedroom, where he found a lady, newly delivered of
an infant.

He was commanded by his attendants to say such prayers by her bedside
as were suitable for a dying person. On remonstrating, and observing
that her safe delivery warranted better hopes, he was sternly
commanded to do as he had been ordered, and with difficulty he
collected his thoughts sufficiently to perform the task imposed on
him. He was then again hurried into the chair, but as they conducted
him downstairs he heard the report of a pistol. He was safely
conducted home, a purse of gold was found upon him, but he was warned
that the least allusion to this transaction would cost him his life.
He betook himself to rest, and after a deep sleep he was awakened by
his servant, with the dismal news that a fire of uncommon fury had
broken out in the house of ****, near the head of the Canongate, and
that it was totally consumed, with the shocking addition that the
daughter of the proprietor, a young lady eminent for beauty and
accomplishments had perished in the flames.

The clergyman had his suspicions; he was timid; the family was of the
first distinction; above all, the deed was done, and could not be
amended. Time wore away, but he became unhappy at being the solitary
depository of this fearful mystery, and, mentioning it to some of his
brethren, the anecdote acquired a sort of publicity. The divine,
however, had long been dead, and the story in some degree forgotten,
when a fire broke out again on the very same spot where the house of
**** had formerly stood, and which was now occupied by buildings of an
inferior description. When the flames were at their height, the tumult
was suddenly suspended by an unexpected apparition. A beautiful
female, in a nightdress, extremely rich, but at least half a century
old, appeared in the very midst of the fire, and uttered these words
in her vernacular idiom: "Anes burned, twice burned; the third time
I'll scare you all." The belief in this apparition was formerly so
strong that on a fire breaking out and seeming to approach the fatal
spot, there was a good deal of anxiety manifested lest the apparition
should make good her denunciation.

But family romance contains many such tales of horror, and one told of
Sir Richard Baker, surnamed "Bloody Baker," is a match even for Blue
Beard's locked chamber. After spending some years abroad in
consequence of a duel, he returned to his old home at Cranbrook, in
Kent; he only brought with him a foreign servant, and these two lived
alone. Very soon strange stories began to be whispered of unearthly
shrieks having been frequently heard at nightfall to issue from his
house, and of persons who were missed and never heard of again. But it
never occurred to anyone to connect incidents of this kind with Sir
Richard Baker, until, one day, he formed an apparent attachment to a
young lady in the neighbourhood, who always wore a great number of
jewels. He had often pressed her to call and see his house, and,
happening to be near it, she determined to surprise him with a visit.
Her companion tried to dissuade her from doing so, but she would not
be turned from her purpose. They knocked at the door, but receiving no
answer determined to enter. At the head of the staircase hung a
parrot, which, on their passing, cried out:

    "Peapot, pretty lady, be not too bold,
    Or your red blood will soon run cold."

And the blood of the adventurous women did "run cold" when on opening
one of the room doors they found it nearly full of the bodies of
murdered persons, chiefly women. And when, too, on looking out of the
window they saw "Bloody Baker" and his servant bringing in the body of
a lady, paralysed with fear they concealed themselves in a recess
under the staircase, and, as the murderers with their ghastly burden
passed by, the hand of the murdered lady hung in the baluster of the
stairs, which, on Baker chopping it off with an oath, fell into the
lap of one of the concealed ladies. They quickly made their escape
with the dead hand, on one of the fingers of which was a ring.
Reaching home, they told the story, and in proof of it displayed the
ring. Families in the neighbourhood who had lost friends or relatives
mysteriously were told of this "blood chamber of horrors," and it was
arranged to ask Baker to a party, apparently in a friendly manner, but
to have constables concealed ready to take him into custody. He
accepted the invitation, and then the lady, pretending it was a dream,
told him all she had seen.

"Fair lady," said he, "dreams are nothing; they are but fables."

"They may be fables," she replied, "but is this a fable?" And she
produced the hand and ring, upon which the constables appeared on the
scene, and took Baker into custody. The tradition adds that he was
found guilty, and was burnt, notwithstanding that Queen Mary tried to
save him on account of his holding the Roman Catholic religion.[24]

This tradition, of course, must not be taken too seriously; the red
hand in the armorial bearings having led, it has been suggested, to
the supposition of some sanguinary business in the records of the
family. Among the monuments in Cranbrook Church, Kent, there is one
erected to Sir Richard Baker--the gauntlet, red gloves, helmet, and
spurs, having been suspended over the tomb. On one occasion, a visitor
being attracted by the colour of the gloves, was accosted by an old
woman, who remarked, "Aye, Miss, those are Bloody Baker's gloves;
their red colour comes from the blood he shed." But the red hand is
only the Ulster badge of baronetcy, and there is scarcely a family
bearing it of which some tale of murder and punishment has not been
told.


FOOTNOTES:

[19] Andrew's "History of Great Britain," 1794-5.

[20] Oxford, 1857.

[21] "Scenes and Legends of the Vale of Strathmore." J. Cargill
Guthrie, 1875.

[22] "All the Year Round," 1880.

[23] See "Wilts Archæological Magazine," vols. i.-x.

[24] See "Notes and Queries," 1st S., I., p. 67.



CHAPTER VI.

INDELIBLE BLOOD STAINS.

    "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
    Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
    The multitudinous seas incarnardine,
    Making the green one red."--MACBETH.


It was a popular suggestion in olden times that when a person had died
a violent death, the blood stains could not be washed away, to which
Macbeth alludes, as above, after murdering Duncan. This belief was in
a great measure founded on the early tradition that the wounds of a
murdered man were supposed to bleed afresh at the approach or touch of
the murderer. To such an extent was this notion carried, that "by the
side of the bier, if the slightest change were observable in the eyes,
the mouth, feet, or hands of the corpse, the murderer was conjectured
to be present, and many an innocent spectator must have suffered
death. This practice forms a rich pasture in the imagination of our
old writers; and their histories and ballads are laboured into pathos
by dwelling on this phenomenon."[25] At Blackwell, near Darlington,
the murder of one Christopher Simpson is described in a pretty local
ballad known as "The Baydayle Banks Tragedy." A suspected person was
committed, because when he touched the body at the inquest, "upon his
handlinge and movinge, the body did bleed at the mouth, nose, and
ears," and he turned out to be the murderer. Similarly Macbeth (Act
III., sc. 4), speaking of the ghost, says:--

    "It will have blood; they say blood will have blood;
    Stones have been known to move and trees to speak,
    Auguries and understood relations have
    By magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
    The secret'st man of blood."

Shakespeare here, in all probability, alludes to some story in which
the stones covering the corpse of a murdered man were said to have
moved of themselves, and so revealed the secret. In the same way, it
was said that where blood had been shed, the marks could not be
obliterated, but would continually reappear until justice for the
crime had been obtained. On one occasion, Nathaniel Hawthorne enjoyed
the hospitality of Smithells Hall, Lancashire, and was so impressed
with the well-known legend of "The Bloody Footstep" that he, in three
separate instances, founded fictions upon it. In his romance of
"Septimius" he gives this graphic account of what he saw: "On the
threshold of one of the doors of Smithells Hall there is a bloody
footstep impressed into the doorstep, and ruddy as if the bloody foot
had just trodden there, and it is averred that on a certain night of
the year, and at a certain hour of the night, if you go and look at
the doorstep, you will see the mark wet with fresh blood. Some have
pretended to say that this is but dew, but can dew redden a cambric
handkerchief? And this is what the bloody footstep will surely do when
the appointed night and hour come round." A local tradition says that
the stone bearing the imprint of the mysterious footprint was once
removed and cast into a neighbouring wood, but in a short time it had
to be restored to its original position owing to the alarming noises
which troubled the neighbourhood. This strange footprint is
traditionally said to have been caused by George Marsh, the martyr,
stamping his foot to confirm his testimony, and has been ever since
shewn as the miraculous memorial of the holy man. The story is that
"being provoked by the taunts and persecutions of his examiner, he
stamped with his foot upon a stone, and, looking up to heaven,
appealed to God for the justice of his cause, and prayed that there
might remain in that place a constant memorial of the wickedness and
injustice of his enemies." It is also stated that in 1732 a guest
sleeping alone in the Green Chamber at Smithells Hall saw an
apparition, in the dress of a minister with bands, and a book in his
hand. The ghost of Marsh, for so it was pronounced to be, disappeared
through the doorway, and on the owner of Smithells hearing the story,
he directed that divine service--long discontinued--should be resumed
at the hall chapel every Sunday.[26]

Then there are the blood stains on the floor at the outer door of the
Queen's apartments in Holyrood Palace, where Rizzio was murdered. Sir
Walter Scott has made these blood marks the subject of a jocular
passage in his introduction to the "Chronicles of the Canongate,"
where a Cockney traveller is represented as trying to efface them with
the patent scouring drops which it was his mission to introduce into
use in Scotland. In another of his novels--"The Abbot"--Sir Walter
Scott alludes to the Rizzio blood stains, and in his "Tales of a
Grandfather" he deliberately states that the floor at the head of the
stair still bears visible marks of the blood of the unhappy victim. In
support of these blood stains, it has been urged that "the floor is
very ancient, manifestly much more so than the late floor of the
neighbouring gallery, which dated from the reign of Charles II. It is
in all likelihood the very floor upon which Mary and her courtiers
trod. The stain has been shown there since a time long antecedent to
that extreme modern curiosity regarding historical matters which might
have induced an imposture, for it is alluded to by the son of Evelyn
as being exhibited in the year 1722."[27]

At Condover Hall, Shropshire, there is supposed to be a blood stain
which has been there since the time of Henry VIII., and cannot be
effaced. According to a local tradition, which has long been current
in the neighbourhood, it is the blood of Lord Knevett--the owner of
the hall and estate at this period--who was treacherously slain by his
son. But unfortunately this piece of romance, which is utterly at
variance with facts bearing on the history of Condover and its owners
in years gone by, must be classed among the legendary tales of the
locality. One room in Clayton Old Hall, Lancashire, has for years past
been knicknamed "The Bloody Chamber," from some supposed stains of
human gore on the oaken floor planks. Numerous stories have, at
different times, been started to account for these blood-tokens, which
have gained all the more importance from the mansion having, from time
immemorial, been the favourite haunt of a mischievious boggart until
laid by the parson, and now--

    Whilst ivy climbs and holly is green
    Clayton Hall boggart shall no more be seen.

In Lincoln Cathedral there are two fine rose windows, one made by a
master workman, and the other by his apprentice, out of the pieces of
stained glass the former had thrown aside. The apprentice's window was
declared to be the more magnificent, when the master, in a fit of
chagrin, threw himself from the gallery beneath his boasted _chef
d'oeuvre_, and was killed upon the spot. But his blood-stains on
the floor are declared to be indelible. At Cothele, a mansion on the
banks of the Tamar, the marks are still visible of the blood spilt by
the lord of the manor when, for supposed treachery, he slew the warder
of the drawbridge; but these are only to be seen on a wet day.

But there is no mystery about the so-called "Bloody Chamber," for the
marks are only in reality natural red tinges of the wood, denoting the
presence of iron.

In addition to the appearance of such indelible marks of crime,
oftentimes the ghost of the spiller of blood, or of the murdered
person, haunts the scene. Thus, Northam Tower, Yorkshire, an embattled
structure of the time of Henry VII.--a true Border mansion--has long
been famous for the visits of some mysterious spectre in the form of a
lady who was cruelly murdered in the wood, her blood being pointed out
on the stairs of the old tower. Another tragic story is told of the
Manor House which Bishop Pudsey built at Darlington. It was for very
many years a residence of the Bishops of Durham, and a resting place
of Margaret, bride of James IV., of Scotland, and daughter of Henry
VII., in her splendid progress through the country. This building was
restored at great expense in the year 1668, and gained a widespread
notoriety on account of the ghost story of Lady Jerratt, who was
murdered there; but, as a testimony of the violent death she had
received, "she left on the wall ghastly impressions of a thumb and
fingers in blood for ever," and always made her appearance with one
arm, the other having been cut off for the sake of a valuable ring on
one of the fingers.

One room of Holland House is supposed to be haunted by Lord Holland,
the first of his name and the chief builder of this splendid old
mansion. According to Princess Marie Lichtenstein, in her "History of
Holland House," "the gilt room is said to be tenanted by the solitary
ghost of its first lord, who, runs the tradition, issues forth at
midnight from behind a secret door, and walks slowly through the
scenes of former triumphs with his head in his hand." And to add to
this mystery, there is a tale of three spots of blood on one side of
the recess whence he issues--three spots which can never be effaced.

Stains of blood--stains that cannot be washed away--are to be seen on
the floor of a certain room at Calverley Hall, Yorkshire. And there is
one particular flag in the cellar which is never without a mysterious
damp place upon it, all the other flags being dry. Of course these are
the witnesses of a terrible tragedy which was committed years ago
within the walls of Calverley Hall. It appears that Walter Calverley,
who had married Philippa Brooke, daughter of Lord Cobham, was a wild
reckless man, though his wife was a most estimable and virtuous lady,
and that one day he went into a fit of insane jealousy, or pretended
to do so, over the then Vavasour of Weston. Money lenders, too, were
pressing him hard, and he had become desperate. Rushing madly into the
house, he plunged a dagger into one and then into another of his
children, and afterwards tried to take the life of their mother, a
steel corset which she wore luckily saving her life. Leaving her for
dead, he mounted his horse with the intention of killing the only
other child he had, and who was then at Norton. But being pursued by
some villagers, his horse stumbled and threw him off, and the assassin
was caught, being pressed to death at York Castle for his crimes. Not
only have the stains of this bloody tragedy ever since been indelible,
but the spirit of Walter Calverley could not rest, having often been
seen galloping about the district at night on a headless horse.[28]
And, speaking of ghosts which appear in this eccentric fashion, we may
note that Eastbury House, near Blandford--now pulled down--had in a
certain marble-floored room, ineffaceable stains of blood,
attributable, it is said, to the suicide of William Doggett, the
steward of Lord Melcombe, whose headless spirit long haunted the
neighbourhood.

As a punishment for her unnatural cruelty in causing her child's
death, it is commonly reported that the spirit of Lady Russell is
doomed to haunt Bisham Abbey, Berkshire, the house where this act of
violence was committed. Lady Russell had by her first husband a son,
who, unlike herself, had a natural antipathy to every kind of
learning, and so great was his obstinate repugnance to learning to
write that he would wilfully blot over his copy-books in the most
careless and slovenly manner. This conduct so irritated his mother
that, to cure him of the propensity, she beat him again and again
severely, till at last she beat him to death. To atone for her
cruelty, she is now doomed to haunt the room where the fatal deed was
perpetrated; and, as her apparition glides along, she is always seen
in the act of washing the blood stains of her son from her hands.
Although ever trying to free herself of these marks of her unnatural
crime, it is in vain, as they are indelible stains which no water will
remove.

By a strange coincidence, some years ago, in altering a window
shutter, a quantity of antique copy-books were discovered pushed into
the rubble between the joints of the floor, and one of these books was
so covered with blots as to fully answer the description in the
narrative above. It is noteworthy, also, that Lady Russell had no
comfort in her sons by her first husband. Her youngest son, a
posthumous child, caused her special trouble, insomuch so that she
wrote to her brother-in-law, Lord Burleigh, for advice how to treat
him. This may have been, it has been suggested, the unfortunate boy
who was flogged to death, though he seems to have lived to near man's
estate. Lady Russell was buried at Bisham, by the remains of her first
husband, Sir Thomas Hoby, and her portrait may still be seen,
representing her in widow's weeds and with a very pale face.

A mysterious crime is traditionally reported to have, some years ago,
taken place at the old parsonage at Market, or East Lavington, near
Devizes--now pulled down. The ghost of the lady supposed to have been
murdered haunted the locality, and it has been said a child came to an
untimely end in the house. "Previous to the year 1818," writes a
correspondent of _Notes and Queries_, "a witness states his father
occupied the house, and writes that 'in that year on Feast Day, being
left alone in the house, I went to my room. It was the one with marks
of blood on the floor. I distinctly saw a white figure glide into the
room. It went round by the washstand near the bed and disappeared!'"
It may be added that part of the road leading from Market Lavington to
Easterton which skirts the grounds of Fiddington House, used to be
looked upon as haunted by a lady who was locally known as the
"Easterton ghost." But in the year 1869 a wall was built round the
roadside of the pond, and curiously close to the spot where the lady
had been in the habit of appearing two skeletons were disturbed--one
of a woman, the other of a child. The bones were buried in the
churchyard, and no ghost, it is said, has since been seen. It would
seem, also, that blood stains, wherever they may fall, are equally
indelible; and even to this day the New Forest peasant believes that
the marl he digs is still red with the blood of his ancient foes, the
Danes, a form of superstition which we find existing in various
places.

For very many years the road from Reigate to Dorking, leading through
a lonely lane into the village of Buckland, was haunted by a local
spectre known as the "Buckland Shag," generally supposed to have been
connected with a love tragedy. In the most lonely part of this lane a
stream of clear water ran by the side of--which laid for years--a
large stone, concerning which the following story is told: Once on a
time, a lovely blue-eyed girl, whose father was a substantial yeoman
in the neighbourhood, was wooed and won by the subtle arts of an
opulent owner of the Manor House of Buckland.

In the silence of the evening this lane was their accustomed walk, the
scene of her devoted love and of his deceitful vows. Here he swore
eternal fidelity, and the unsuspecting girl trusted him with the
confiding affection of her innocent heart. It was at such a moment
that the wily seducer communicated to her the real nature of his
designs, the moon above being only the witness of his perfidy and her
distress. She heard the avowal in tremulous silence, but her deadly
paleness, and her expressive look of mingled reproach and terror
created alarm even in the mind of her would-be seducer, and he hastily
endeavoured to recall the fatal declaration; but it was too late, she
sprang from his agitated grasp, and, with a sigh of agony, fell dead
at his feet.

When he beheld the work of his iniquitous designs, he was seized with
distraction, and drawing a dagger from his bosom, he plunged it into
his own false heart, and lay stretched by the side of her he had so
basely wronged. On the morrow, as a peasant passed over the little
stream, he saw a dark stone with drops of blood trickling from its
heart into the pure limpid water. From that day the stream retained
its untainted purity, and the stone continued its sacrifice of blood.

Soon afterwards a terrific object was seen hovering at midnight about
this fatal spot, taking its position at first upon the "bleeding
stone," but it was ousted by the lord of the manor, who removed the
blood-tainted stone to his own premises, to satisfy the timid minds of
his neighbours. But the stone still continued to bleed, nor did its
removal in any way intimidate the spectre. Connected with this
alarming midnight visitor, writes a correspondent of _The Gentleman's
Magazine_, "I remember a circumstance related to me by those who were
actually acquainted with the facts, and with the person to whom they
refer. An inhabitant of Buckland, who had attended Reigate Market and
become exceedingly intoxicated, was joked by a companion upon the
subject of the 'Buckland Shag,' whereupon he laid a wager that if Shag
appeared in his path that night he would fight him with his trusty
hawthorn. Accordingly he set forth, and arrived at the haunted spot.
The spectre stood in his path, and, raising his stick, he struck it
with all his strength, but it made no impression, nor did the goblin
move. The stick fell as upon a blanket--so the man described it--and
he instantly became sober, while a cold tremor ran through every nerve
of his athletic frame.

He hurried on, and the spectre followed. At length he arrived at his
own door; then, and not till then, did the spectre vanish, leaving the
affrighted man in a state of complete exhaustion upon the threshold of
his cottage. He was carried to his bed, and from that bed he never
rose again; he died in a week."

Similarly, there is a romantic old legend connected with Kilburn
Priory, to the effect that there was formerly, not far distant, a
stone of dark red colour, which was said to be the stain of the blood
of St. Gervase de Mertoun. The story goes that Stephen de Mertoun,
being enamoured of his brother's wife, made immoral overtures to her,
which she threatened to make known to Sir Gervase, to prevent which
disclosure Stephen resolved to waylay his brother and slay him. By a
strange coincidence, the identical stone on which his murdered body
had expired formed a part of his tomb, and the eye of the murderer
resting upon it, adds the legend, blood was seen to issue from it.
Struck with horror at this sight, Stephen de Mertoun hastened to the
Bishop of London, and making confession of his guilt, demised his
property to the Priory of Kilburn.

In the same way the Cornishman knows, from the red, filmy growth on
the brook pebbles, that blood has been shed--a popular belief still
firmly credited. Some years ago a Cornish gentleman was cruelly
murdered, and his body thrown into a brook; but ever since that day
the stones in this brook are said to be spotted with gore--a
phenomenon which had never occurred previously. And, according to
another strange Cornish belief told of St. Denis's blood, it is
related that at the very time when his decapitation took place in
Paris, blood fell on the churchyard of St. Denis. It is further said
that these blood stains are specially visible when a calamity of any
kind is near at hand; and before the breaking out of the plague, it is
said the stains of the blood of St. Denis were seen; and, "during our
wars with the Dutch, the defeat of the English fleet was foretold by
the rain of gore in this remote and sequestered place."

It is also a common notion that not only are the stains of human blood
wrongfully shed ineffaceable, but a curse lights upon the ground,
causing it to remain barren for ever. There is, for instance, a
dark-looking piece of ground devoid of verdure in the parish of
Kirdford, Sussex. Local tradition says that this was formerly green,
but the grass withered gradually away soon after the blood of a
poacher, who was shot there, trickled down on the place. But perhaps
the most romantic tale of this kind was that known as the "Field of
Forty Footsteps." A legendary story of the period of the Duke of
Monmouth's Rebellion describes a mortal conflict which took place
between two brothers in Long Fields, afterwards called Southampton
Fields, in the rear of Montague House, Bloomsbury, on account of a
lady who sat by. The combatants fought so furiously as to kill each
other, after which their footsteps, imprinted on the ground in the
vengeful struggle, were reported "to remain, with the indentations
produced by their advancing and receding; nor would any grass or
vegetation grow afterwards over these forty footsteps." The most
commonly received version of the story is, that two brothers were in
love with the same lady, who would not declare a preference for
either, but coolly sat upon a bank to witness the termination of a
duel which proved fatal to both. Southey records this strange story in
his "Commonplace Book,"[29] and after quoting a letter from a friend,
recommending him to "take a view of those wonderful marks of the
Lord's hatred to duelling, called 'The Brothers' Steps,'" he thus
describes his own visit to the spot: "We sought for near half an hour
in vain. We could find no steps at all within a quarter of a mile, no,
nor half a mile, of Montague House. We were almost out of hope, when
an honest man, who was at work, directed us to the next ground
adjoining to a pond. There we found what we sought, about
three-quarters of a mile north of Montague House and five hundred
yards east of Tottenham Court Road. The steps are of the size of a
large human foot, about three inches deep, and lie nearly from
north-east to south-west. We counted only twenty-six; but we were not
exact in counting. The place where one or both the brothers are
supposed to have fallen is still bare of grass. The labourer also
showed us the bank where, the tradition is, the wretched woman sat to
see the combat." Miss Porter and her sister founded upon this tragic
romance their story, "Coming Out, or the Field of Forty Footsteps";
and at Tottenham Street Theatre was produced, many years ago, an
effective melodrama based upon the same incident, entitled "The Field
of Footsteps."

Another romantic tale of a similar nature is connected with Montgomery
Church walls, and is locally designated "The Legend of the Robber's
Grave," of which there are several versions, the most popular one
being this: Once upon a time, a man was said to have been wrongfully
hanged at Montgomery; and, when the rope was round his neck, he
declared in proof of his innocence that grass would never grow on his
grave. Curious to relate, be the cause what it may, there is yet to be
seen a strip of sterility--in the form of a cross--amidst a mass of
verdure.[30]

Likewise, the peasantry still talk mysteriously of Lord Derwentwater's
execution, and tell how his blood could not be washed away. Deep and
lasting were the horror and grief which were felt when the news of his
death reached his home in the north. The inhabitants of the
neighbourhood, it is said, saw the coming vengeance of heaven in the
Aurora Borealis which appeared in unwonted brilliancy on the evening
of the execution, and which is still known as "Lord Derwentwater's
Light" in the northern counties; the rushing Devil's Water, too, they
said, ran down with blood on that terrible night, and the very corn
which was ground on that day came tinged from the mill with crimson.
Lord Derwentwater's death, too, was all the more deplored on account
of his having long been undecided as to whether he should embrace the
enterprise against the House of Hanover. But there had long been a
tradition in his family that a mysterious and unearthly visitant
appeared to the head of the house in critical emergencies, either to
warn of danger, or to announce impending calamity. One evening, a few
days before he resolved to cast in his lot with the Stuarts, whilst he
was wandering amid the solitudes of the hills, a figure stood before
him in robe and hood of grey.

This personage is said to have sadly reproached the Earl for not
having already joined the rising, and to have presented him with a
crucifix which was to render him secure against bullet or sword
thrust. After communicating this message the figure vanished, leaving
the Earl in a state of bewilderment. The mysterious apparition is
reported to have spoken with the voice of a woman, and as it is known
that "in the more critical conjunctures of the history of the Stuarts
every device was practised by secret agents to gain the support of a
wavering follower," it is not difficult to guess at a probable
explanation of the ghost of the Dilston Groves. It may be added that
at Dilston, Lady Derwentwater was long said to revisit the pale
glimpses of the moon to expiate the restless ambition which impelled
her to drive Lord Derwentwater to the scaffold.

But how diverse have been the causes of many of these romantic blood
stains may be gathered from another legendary tale connected with
Plaish Hall, near Cardington, Shropshire. The report goes that a party
of clergymen met together one night at Plaish Hall to play cards. In
order that the real object of their gathering might not be known to
any but themselves, the doors were locked. Before very long, however,
they flew open without any apparent cause. Again they were locked, but
presently they burst open a second time, and even a third. Astonished
at what seemed to baffle explanation, and whilst mutually wondering
what it could mean, a panic was suddenly created when, in their midst,
there appeared a mysterious figure resembling the Evil One. In a
moment the invited guests all rose and fled, leaving the unfortunate
host by himself "face to face with the enemy."

What happened after their departure was never divulged, for no one
"ever saw that wretched man again, either alive or dead." That he had
died some violent death was generally surmised, for a great stain of
blood shaped like a human form was found on the floor of the room, and
despite all efforts the mark could never be washed out. Ever since
this inexplicable occurrence, the house has been haunted, and at
midnight a ghostly troop of horses are occasionally heard, creating so
much noise as to awaken even heavy sleepers.

And Aubrey in his "Miscellanies" tells how when the bust of Charles
I., carved by Bernini, "was brought in a boat upon the Thames, a
strange bird--the like whereof the bargemen had never seen--dropped a
drop of blood, or blood-like, upon it, which left a stain not to be
wiped off." The strange story of this ill-fated bust is more minutely
told by Dr. Zacharay Grey in a pamphlet on the character of Charles
I.: "Vandyke having drawn the king in three different faces--a
profile, three-quarters, and a full face--the picture was sent to Rome
for Bernini to make a bust from it. Bernini was unaccountably dilatory
in the work, and upon this being complained of, he said that he had
set about it several times, but there was something so unfortunate in
the features of the face that he was shocked every time that he
examined it, and forced to leave off the work, and, if there was any
stress to be laid on physiognomy, he was sure the person whom the
picture represented was destined to a violent end."

The bust was at last finished and sent to England. As soon as the ship
that brought it arrived in the river, the king, who was very impatient
to see the bust, ordered it to be carried immediately to Chelsea. It
was conveyed thither, and placed upon a table in the garden, whither
the king went with a train of nobility to inspect the bust. As they
were viewing it, a hawk flew over their heads with a partridge in his
claws, which he had wounded to death. Some of the partridge's blood
fell upon the neck of the bust, where it remained without being wiped
off. This bust was placed over the door of the king's closet at
Whitehall and continued there till the palace was destroyed by fire.


FOOTNOTES:

[25] D'Israeli's "Curiosities of Literature."

[26] See Harland and Wilkinson's "Lancashire Folklore," 135-136.

[27] "Book of Days," I., 235.

[28] This tradition is the basis of the drama called "The Yorkshire
Tragedy," and was adopted by Ainsworth in his "Romance of Rookwood."

[29] 2nd Ser., p. 21.

[30] A curious legend is related by Roger de Hoveden, which shows the
antiquity of the Wakefield mills. "In the year 1201, Eustace, Abbot of
Flaye, came over into England, preaching the duty of extending the
Sabbath from three o'clock p.m. on Saturday to sunrising on Monday
morning, pleading the authority of an epistle written by Christ
himself, and found on the altar of St. Simon at Golgotha. The people of
Yorkshire treated the fanatic with contempt, and the miller of
Wakefield persisted in grinding his corn after the hour of cessation,
for which disobedience his corn was turned into blood, while the
mill-wheel stood immovable against all the water of the Calder."



CHAPTER VII.

CURIOUS SECRETS.

    "And now I will unclasp a secret book,
    And to your quick-conceiving discontent
    I'll read your matter deep and dangerous."
               1. HENRY IV., Act 1., sc. 3.


"The Depository of the Secrets of all the World" was the inscription
over one of the brazen portals of Fakreddin's valley, reminding us of
what Ossian said to Oscar, when he resigned to him the command of the
morrow's battle, "Be thine the secret hill to-night," referring to the
Gaelic custom of the commander of an army retiring to a secret hill
the night before a battle to hold communion with the ghosts of
departed heroes. But, as it has been often remarked of secrets--both
political and social--they are only too frequently made to be
revealed, a truth illustrative of Ben Jonson's words in "The Case is
Unaltered "--

                      A secret in his mouth
    Is like a wild bird put into a cage,
    Whose door no sooner opens but 'tis out.

In family history, some of the strangest secrets have related to
concealment of birth, many a fraud having been devised to alter or
perpetuate the line of issue. Early in the present century, a romantic
story which was the subject of conversation in the circles both of
London and Paris, related to Lady Newborough, who had always
considered herself the daughter of Lorenzo Chiappini, formerly gaoler
of Modigliana, and subsequently constable at Florence, and of his wife
Vincenzia Diligenti. Possessed in her girlhood of fascinating
appearance and charming manners, she came out as a ballet dancer at
the principal opera at Florence, and one night she so impressed Lord
Newborough that, by means of a golden bribe, he had her transferred
from the stage to his residence. His conduct towards her was tender
and affectionate, and, in spite of the disparity of years, he
afterwards married her, introducing her to the London world as Lady
Newborough.

Some time after her marriage, according to a memoir stated to be
written by the fair claimant of the House of Orleans, and printed in
Paris before the Revolution of 1830 but immediately suppressed, when
staying at Sienna she received a posthumous letter from her supposed
father, which, from its extraordinary disclosures, threw her into
complete bewilderment.[31] It ran as follows:

  MY LADY,--I have at length reached the term of my days without
  having revealed to anyone a secret which directly concerns me and
  yourself. The secret is this:

  On the day when you were born, of a person whom I cannot name and
  who now is in the other world, a male child of mine was also
  born. I was requested to make an exchange; and, considering the
  state of my finances in those days, I accepted to the
  often-repeated and advantageous proposals, and at that time I
  adopted you as my daughter in the same manner as my son was
  adopted by the other party.

  I observe that heaven has repaired my faults by placing you in
  better circumstances than your father, although his rank was
  somewhat similar. This enables me to end my days with some
  comfort.

  Let this serve to extenuate my culpability towards you. I entreat
  your pardon for my fault. I desire you, if you please, to keep
  this transaction secret, in order that the world shall not have
  any opportunity to speak of an affair which is now without
  remedy.

   This, my letter, you will not receive until after my death.

          LORENZO CHIAPPINI.

After receiving this letter, Lady Newborough sent for Ringrezzi, the
confessor of the late gaoler, and Fabroni, a confessor of the late
Countess Borghi, and was told by the former that, in his opinion, she
was the daughter of the Grand Duke Leopold; but the latter disagreed,
saying, "Myladi is the daughter of a French lord called Count
Joinville, who had considerable property in Champagne; and I entertain
no doubt that if your ladyship were to go to that province you would
there find valuable documents, which I have been told were there left
in the hands of a respectable ecclesiastic."

It is further stated that two old sisters of the name of Bandini, who
had been born and educated in the house of the Borghis, and been
during all their life in the service of that family, informed Lady
Newborough, and afterwards in the Ecclesiastical Court of Faenza, that
in the year 1773 they followed their master and mistress to
Modigliana, where the latter usually had their summer residence in a
chateau belonging to them; that, arriving there, they found a French
count, Louis Joinville, and his countess, established in the Pretorial
Palace. They further affirmed that between the Borghis and this family
a very intimate intercourse was soon established and that they daily
interchanged visits.

Furthermore, the foreign lord, it is said, was extremely familiar with
persons of the lowest rank, and particularly with the gaoler,
Chiappini, who lived under the same roof. The wives of both were
pregnant; and it appeared that they expected their delivery much about
the same time. But the Count was tormented with a grievous anxiety;
his wife had as yet had no male offspring, and he much feared that
they would never be blessed with any. Having communicated his project
to the Borghis, he at length made an overture to the gaoler, telling
him he apprehended the loss of a very great inheritance, which
absolutely depended on the birth of a son, and that he was disposed,
in case the Countess gave birth to a daughter, to exchange her for a
boy, and that for this exchange he would liberally recompense the
father. The man, highly pleased at finding his fortune thus
unexpectedly made, immediately accepted the offer, and the bargain
was concluded.

Immediately after the accouchment of the ladies, one of the Bandinis
went to the Pretorial Palace to see the new-born babies, when some
women in the house told her that the exchange had already taken place;
and Chappiani himself being present, confirmed their statement. But as
there were several persons in the secret--however solemnly secrecy had
been promised--public rumour soon accused the barterers. The Count
Louis, fearing the people's indignation, concealed himself in the
Convent of St. Bernard, at Brisighella.

The lady, it is added, departed with her suppositious son; her own
daughter being baptized and called Maria Stella Petronilla, and
designated as the daughter of Lorenzo Chappiani and Vincenzia
Diligenti.

Having learnt so much, Lady Newborough being in Paris in the year
1823, had recourse to a stratagem by which she expected to gain
additional information. Accordingly she inserted in the newspapers,
"that she had been desired by the Countess Pompeo Borghi to discover
in France a Count Louis Joinville, who in the year 1773 was with his
Countess at Modigliana, where the latter gave birth to a son on the
16th April, and that if either of these persons were still alive, or
the child born at Modigliana, she was empowered to communicate to them
something of the highest importance.

Subsequently to this advertisement, she was waited upon by a Colonel
Joinville, but he derived his title only from Louis XVIII. But before
the Colonel was out of the door, she had a call from the Abbé de
Saint-Fare, whom she gave to understand that she was anxious to
discover the identity of a birth connected with the sojourn with the
late Comte de Joinville. In the course of conversation, this Abbé is
stated to have made most injudicious admissions, from which Lady
Newborough gathered that he was the confidential agent of the Duke of
Orleans, being currently said to be his illegitimate brother.

Lady Newborough was now convinced in her own mind that she was the
eldest child of the late Duke of Orleans, and hence was the first
princess of the blood of France, and the rightful heiress of immense
wealth. But this discovery brought her no happiness, and subjected to
her to much discomfort and misery. Her story--whether true or
false--will in all probability remain a mystery to the end of time,
being one of those political puzzles which must remain an open
question.

Secret intrigue, however, at one time or another, has devised the most
subtle plans for supplanting the rightful owner out of his
birthright--a second wife through jealously entering into some
shameful compact to defraud her husband's child by his former wife of
his property in favour of her own. Such a secret conspiracy is
connected with Draycot, and, although it has been said to be one of
the most mysterious in the whole range of English legends, yet,
singular as the story may be, writes Sir Bernard Burke, "no small
portion of it is upon record as a thing not to be questioned; and it
is not necessary to believe in supernatural agency to give all parties
credit for having faithfully narrated their impressions." The main
facts of this strange story are briefly told: Walter Long of Draycot
had two wives, the second being Catherine, daughter of Sir John
Thynne, of Longleat. On their arrival at Draycot after the honeymoon,
there were great rejoicings into which all entered save the heir of
the houses of Draycot and Wraxhall, who was silent and sad. Once
arrived in her new home, the mistress of Draycot lost no time in
studying the character of her step-son, for she had an object in view
which made it necessary that she should completely understand his
character. Her design was, in short, that the young master of Draycot,
"the heir of all his father's property--the obstruction in the way of
whatever children there might be by the second marriage--must be
ruined, or at any rate so disgraced as to provoke his father to
disinherit him." Taking into her confidence her brother, Sir Egremont
Thynne, of Longleat, with his help she soon discovered that the
youthful heir of Draycot was fond of wine and dice, and that he had on
more than one occasion met with his father's displeasure for
indulgence in such acts of dissipation. Having learnt, too, that the
young man was kept on short supplies by his parsimonious father, and
had often complained that he was not allowed sufficient pocket-money
for the bare expenses of his daily life; the crafty step-mother seized
this opportunity for carrying out her treacherous and dishonourable
conduct. Commiserating with the inexperienced youth in his want of
money, and making him feel more than ever dissatisfied at his father's
meanness to him, she quickly enlisted him on her side, especially when
she gave him liberal supplies of money, and recommended him to enjoy
his life whilst it was in his power to do so.

With a full rather than an empty purse, the young squire was soon seen
with a cheerful party over the wine bottle, and, at another time, with
a gambling group gathered round the dice box. But this kind of thing
suited admirably his step-mother, for she took good care that such
excesses were brought under the notice of the lad's father, and
magnified into heinous crimes. From time to time this unprincipled
woman kept supplying the unsuspecting youth with money, and did all in
her power to encourage him in his tastes for reckless living. Fresh
stories of his son's dissipated conduct were continually being told to
the master of Draycot, until at last, "influenced by the wiles of his
charming wife, on the other by deeper wiles of his brother-in-law, he
agreed to make out a will disinheriting his son by his first wife, and
settling all his possessions on his second wife and her relations."

Hitherto, the secret entered into by brother and sister had been a
perfect success, for not only was the son completely alienated from
his father, but the latter deemed it a sin to make any provision for
one who was given to drink and gambling. A draft will was drawn up by
Sir Egremont Thynne, and when approved of was ordered to be copied by
a clerk. But here comes the remarkable part of the tale. The work of
engrossing demands a clear, bright light, and the slightest shadow
intervening between the light and the parchment would be sure to
interrupt operations. Such an interruption the clerk was suddenly?
subjected to, when, "on looking up he beheld a white hand--a lady's
delicate white hand--so placed between the light and the deed as to
obscure the spot on which he was engaged. The unaccountable hand,
however, was gone almost as soon as noticed." The clerk concluding
that this was some optical delusion, proceeded with his work, and had
come to the clause wherein the Master of Draycot disinherited his son,
when again the same ghostly hand was thrust between the light and the
parchment.

Terrified at this unearthly intervention, the clerk awoke Sir Egremont
from his midnight slumbers, and told him what had occurred, adding
that the spectre hand was no other than that of the first wife of the
master of Draycot, who resented the cruel wrong done to her son. In
due time the deed was engrossed by another clerk, and duly signed and
sealed.

But the "white hand" had not appeared in vain, for the clerk's curious
adventure afterwards became the topic of general conversation, and the
injustice done to the disinherited heir of Draycot excited so much
sympathetic indignation that "the trustees of the late Lady Long
arrested the old knight's corpse at the church door, her nearest
relations commenced a suit against the intended heir, and the result
was a compromise between the parties, John Long taking possession of
Wroxhall, while his other half-brother was allowed to retain Draycot,"
a settlement that, it is said, explains the division of the two
estates, which we find at the present day. The secret between the
brother and sister was well kept, and whatever explanation may be
given to the "white hand," the story is as singular as any in the
annals of domestic history.

It was the betrayal of a secret, on the other hand, on the part of a
woman that is traditionally said to have caused the sudden and tragic
death of Richard, second Earl of Scarborough. This nobleman, it seems,
was in the confidence of the King, and had been entrusted by him with
the keeping of a most important secret. But, like most favourites, the
Earl was surrounded by enemies who were ever on the alert to compass
his ruin, and, amidst other devices, they laid their plans to prevail
on the unsuspecting Earl to betray the confidence which the King had
implicitly reposed on him. Finding it, however, impossible by this
means to make him guilty of a breach of trust towards the King, they
had recourse to another scheme which proved successful, and thereby
irrevocably compromised him in the King's eyes.

Having discovered that the Earl was in love with a certain lady and
was in the habit of frequently visiting her, some of his enemies
discovered where she lived, and, calling on her, promised an exceeding
rich reward if she could draw the royal secret from her lover, and
communicate it to them. Easily bought over by the offer of so rich a
bribe, the treacherous woman, like Delilah of old, soon prevailed upon
the Earl to give her the desired information, and the secret was
revealed. As soon as the Earl's enemies were apprised of the same,
they lost no time in hurrying to the king, and submitting to him the
proofs of his protégé's imprudence. They gained their end, for the
next time the Earl came into the royal presence, the King said to him
in a sad but firm voice, "Lumley, you have lost a friend, and I a good
servant." This was a bitter shock to the Earl, for he learnt now for
the first time that she in whom he had reposed his love and faith had
been his worst enemy, and that, as far as his relations to the King
were concerned, he was disgraced as a man of honour in his estimation.
With his proud and haughty spirit, unable to bear the misery and
chagrin of his fall and ruin, he had recourse to the suicide's escape
from trouble--he shot himself.

But another secret, no less tragic and of a far more sensational
nature, related to a certain Mr. Macfarlane. One Sunday, in the autumn
of the year 1719, Sir John Swinton, of Swinton, in Berwickshire, left
his little daughter Margaret, who had been indisposed through a
childish ailment, at home when he went with the rest of his family to
church, taking care to lock the outer door. After the lapse of an hour
or so, the child had become dull through being alone, and she made her
way into the parlour below stairs, where, on her arrival, she hastily
bolted the door to keep out any ghost or bogie, stories relating to
which had oftentimes excited her fears. But great was her terror when,
on looking round, she was confronted by a tall lady, gracefully
attired, and possessed of remarkable handsome features. The poor child
stood motionless with terror, afraid to go forwards or backwards. Her
throbbing heart, however, quickly recovered from its fright, as the
mysterious lady, with a kind eye and sweet smile, addressed her by
name, and taking her hand, spoke:

"Margaret, you may tell your mother what you have seen, but, for your
life, to no one else. If you do, much evil may come of it, some of
which will fall on yourself. You are young, but you must promise to
be silent as the grave itself in this matter."

Full of childish wonderment, Margaret, half in shyness and half in
fear at being an agent in so strange a secret, turned her head towards
the window, but on turning round found the lady had disappeared,
although the door remained bolted. Her curiosity was now more than
before aroused, and she concluded that after all this lady must be one
of those fairies she had often read of in books; and it was whilst
pondering on what she had seen that the family returned from church.

Surprised at finding Margaret bolted in this parlour, Sir John learnt
that "she had been frightened, she knew not why, at the solitude of
her own room, and had bolted herself in the parlour." Although she was
soon laughed out of her childish fears, Lady Swinton was quick enough
to perceive that Margaret had not communicated everything, and
insisted upon knowing the whole truth. The child made no objection, as
she had not been told to keep the secret from her mother. After
describing all that happened, Lady Swinton kissed her daughter
tenderly and said, "Since you have kept the secret so well, you shall
know something more of this strange lady."

Thereupon Lady Swinton pushed aside one of the oaken panels in the
parlour, which revealed a small room beyond, where sat the mysterious
lady. "And now, Margaret dear," said her mother, "listen to me. This
lady is persecuted by cruel men, who, if they find her, will certainly
take her life. She is my guest, she is now yours, and I am sure I need
not tell you the meanest peasant in all Scotland would shame to betray
his guest."

Margaret promised to keep the secret, never evincing the slightest
curiosity to know who the lady was, and it is said she had reached her
twentieth year when one day the adventure of her childhood was
explained. It seems that the lady in question was a Mrs. Macfarlane,
daughter of Colonel Charles Straiton, a zealous Jacobite. When about
nineteen years old she married John Macfarlane--law agent of Simon
Fraser, Lord Lovat--who was many years her senior. Soon after her
marriage Mrs. Macfarlane made the acquaintance of Captain John Cayley,
a commissioner of Customs, and on September 29th, 1716, he called on
her at Edinburgh, when, for reasons only known to herself or him, she
fired two shots at him with a pistol, one of which pierced his heart.

According to Sir Bernard Burke, it was when she would not yield to
Captain Cayley's immoral overtures that the latter vowed to blacken
her character, a threat which he so successfully carried out "that not
one of her female acquaintances upon whom she called would admit her;
not one of all she met in the street would acknowledge her." Desperate
at this villainy on his part, Mrs. Macfarlane, under pretence of
agreeing to Captain Cayley's overtures, sent for him, when fully
confident that he was about to reap the fruit of his infamous daring
he obeyed her summons. But no sooner had he entered the room than she
locked the door, and, snatching up a brace of pistols, she exclaimed:
"Wretch, you have blasted the reputation of a woman who never did you
the slightest wrong. You have fixed an indelible stain upon the child
at her bosom; and all this because, coward as you are, you thought
there was no one to take her part." At the same time, it is said, she
fired two shots at him with a pistol, one of which pierced his heart.
Her husband asserted, however, that she fired to save herself from
outrage, an explanation which she affirmed was "only too true." Her
husband also declared that his wife was desirous of sending for a
magistrate and of telling him the whole story, but that he advised her
against it. But not appearing to stand her trial in the ensuing
February, she was outlawed, and obtained refuge in the mansion house
of the Swinton family in the concealed apartment already
described.[32] According to Sir Walter Scott, she "returned and lived
and died in Edinbugh"; but her life must have been comparatively
short, as her husband married again on October 6th, 1719.

Akin to this dramatic episode may be mentioned one concerning Robert
Perceval, the second son of the Right Hon. Sir John Perceval, when
reading for the law in his chambers in Lincoln's Inn. The clock had
just struck the hour of midnight, when, on looking up from his book,
he was astonished to see a figure standing between himself and the
door, completely muffled up in a long cloak so as to defy recognition.

"Who are you?" But the figure made no answer.

"What do you want?" No reply.

The figure stood motionless. Thinking it made a low hollow laugh, the
young student struck at the intruder with his sword, but the weapon
met with no resistance, and not a single drop of blood stained it.

This was amazing, and still no answer. Determined to solve the mystery
of this strange being, he cast aside its cloak, when lo! "he saw his
own apparition, bloody and ghostly, whereat he was so astonished that
he immediately swooned away, but, recovering, he saw the spectre
depart."

At first this occurrence left the most unpleasant impressions on his
mind, but as days passed by without anything happening, the warning,
or whatever it was, faded gradually from his memory, and he lived as
before, drinking and quarrelling, managing to embroil himself at play
with the celebrated Beau Fielding. The day at last came, however,
when his equanimity was disturbed, for, as he was walking from his
chambers in Lincoln's Inn to a favourite tavern in the Strand, he
imagined that he was followed by an ungainly looking man. He tried to
avoid him, but the man followed on, and after a time, fully convinced
that he was dogged by this man, he demanded "Who he was, and why he
followed him?"

[Illustration: THE FIGURE STOOD MOTIONLESS.]

But the man replied, "I am not following you; I'm following my own
business."

By no means satisfied, young Perceval crossed over to the opposite
side of the street, but the man followed him step by step, and before
many minutes had elapsed he was joined by another man as
ungainly-looking as himself. Perceval, no longer doubting that he was
followed, called upon the two men to retire at their peril, and
although he succeeded in making them take to their heels after a sharp
sword skirmish, he was himself wounded in the leg, and made his way to
the nearest tavern. This unpleasant encounter, reviving the memory of
the ghastly figure he had seen in his chambers, made him feel that he
was a doomed man, and he was not far wrong, for that night near the
so-called May-pole in the Strand he was found dead--but how he died
was a secret never divulged.

Another equally strange incident connected with this mysterious crime
happened to a Mrs. Brown, "perhaps from her holding some situation in
the family of his uncle, Sir Robert." On this fatal night, writes Sir
Bernard Burke, she dreamt that one Mrs. Shearman--the housekeeper--came
to her and asked for a sheet.

She demanded, "for what purpose," to which Mrs. Shearman replied,
"Poor Master Robert is killed, and it is to wind him in."

Curious to say, in the morning Mrs. Shearman came at an early hour
into her room, and asked for a sheet. For what purpose? inquired Mrs
Brown.

"Poor Mr. Robert is murdered," was the reply; "he lies dead in the
Strand watch-house, and it is to wind his body in."

In the year 1848, the Warwick magistrates investigated a most
extraordinary and preposterous charge of murder against Lord Leigh,
his deceased mother, and persons employed by them, in the course of
which inquiry one of the accusers professed to have been in possession
of a secret connected with the matter for a number of years. The
accusation seems to have originated from the attempt of certain
parties to seize Stoneleigh Abbey on pretence that it rightfully
belonged to them, and not to Lord Leigh. In November, 1844, a mob took
possession of the place for one George Leigh; several of the
ringleaders were tried for the offence, and not fewer than
twenty-eight were convicted. The account of this curious conspiracy,
as given in the "Annual Register," goes on to say that Richard Barnett
made the charge of murder: in 1814 he was employed under Lady Julia
Leigh and her son at the Abbey, where a number of workmen were engaged
in making alterations; four of these men were murdered by large stones
having been allowed to fall on them, and their bodies were placed
within an abutment of a bridge, and then inclosed with masonry.
Another man was shot by Hay, a keeper. In cross-examination, the
witness said he "had kept silence on these atrocities for thirty
years, because he feared Lord Leigh, and because he did not expect to
obtain anything by speaking. He first divulged the secret to those who
were trying to seize the estate; as this information he thought would
help them to get it, for the murders were committed to keep out the
proper owners."

In the course of the inquiry, John Wilcox was required to repeat
evidence which he had given before a Master of Chancery; but, instead
of doing so, the man confessed that he was not sober when he made the
declaration. He further declared how some servants of the Leigh family
had burned pictures, and had been paid to keep "the secrets of the
house." The whole story, however, was a deliberate and wilful
fabrication, the facts were contradicted and circumstantially refuted,
and of course so worthless a charge was dismissed by the Bench.


FOOTNOTES:

[31] See "Annual Register" (1832), 152-5.

[32] This incident suggested to Sir Walter Scott his description of the
concealment and discovery of the Countess of Derby in "Peveril of the
Peak." See "Dictionary of National Biography," xxxv., 74.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE DEAD HAND.

    Open, lock,
    To the dead man's knock!
    Fly, bolt, and bar, and band;
      Nor move, nor swerve,
      Joint, muscle, or nerve,
    At the spell of the dead man's hand.
               INGOLDSBY LEGENDS.


One of the most curious and widespread instances of deception and
credulity is the magic potency which has long been supposed to reside
in the so-called "Hand of Glory"--the withered hand of a dead man.
Numerous stories are told of its marvellous properties as a charm, and
on the Continent many a wonderful cure is said to have been wrought by
its agency. Southey, it may be remembered, in his "Thalaba, the
Destroyer," has placed it in the hands of the enchanter, King Mohareb,
when he would lull to sleep Zohak, the giant keeper of the Caves of
Babylon. And the history of this wonder-working talisman, as used by
Mohareb, is thus graphically told:

                            Thus he said,
    And from his wallet drew a human hand,
    Shrivelled and dry and black.
    And fitting, as he spake,
    A taper in his hold,
    Pursued: "A murderer on the stake had died.
    I drove the vulture from his limbs and lopt
    The hand that did the murder, and drew up
    The tendon strings to close its grasp,
    And in the sun and wind
    Parched it, nine weeks exposed."

From the many accounts given of this "Dead Hand," we gather that it
has generally been considered necessary that the hand should be taken
from a man who has been put to death for some crime. Then, when dried
and prepared with certain weird unguents, it is ready for use. Sir
Walter Scott, in the "Antiquary" has introduced this object of
superstition, making the German adventurer, Dousterswivel, describe it
to the assembled party among the ruins at St. Ruth's thus jocosely:
"De Hand of Glory is very well known in de countries where your worthy
progenitors did live; and it is a hand cut off from a dead man as he
has been hanged for murder, and dried very nice in de smoke of juniper
wood; then you do take something of de fatsh of de bear, and of de
badger, and of de great eber (as you do call ye grand boar), and of de
little sucking child as has not been christened (for dat is very
essential), and you do make a candle, and put into de Hand of Glory at
de proper hour and minute, with the proper ceremonials; and he who
seeketh for treasures shall never find none at all."

Possessed of these mystic qualities, such a hand could not fail to
find favour with those engaged in any kind of evil and enterprise;
and, on account of its lulling to sleep all persons within the circle
of its influence, was of course held invaluable by thieves and
burglars. Thus the case is recorded of some thieves, who, a few years
ago, attempted to commit a robbery on a certain estate in the county
Meath. To quote a contemporary account of the affair, it appears that
"they entered the house armed with a dead man's hand, with a lighted
candle in it, believing in the superstitious notion that a candle
placed in a dead man's hand will not be seen by any but by those by
whom it is used, and also that if a candle in a dead hand be
introduced into a house, it will prevent those who may be asleep from
awaking. The inmates, however, were alarmed, and the robbers fled,
leaving the hand behind them." Another story communicated by the Rev.
S. Baring-Gould, tells how two thieves, having come to lodge in a
public-house, with a view to robbing it, asked permission to pass the
night by the fire, and obtained it. But when the house was quiet the
servant girl, suspecting mischief, crept downstairs, and looked
through the keyhole. She saw the men open a sack, and take out a dry
withered hand. They anointed the fingers with some unguents, and
lighted them. Each finger flamed, but the thumb they could not
light--that was because one of the household was not asleep.

The girl hastened to her master, but found it impossible to arouse
him--she tried every other sleeper, but could not break the charmed
sleep. At last stealing down into the kitchen, while the thieves were
busy over her master's strong-box, she secured the hand, blew out the
flames, and at once the whole house was aroused.

Among other qualities which have been supposed to belong to a dead
man's hand, are its medicinal virtues, in connection with which may be
mentioned the famous "dead hand," which was, in years past, kept at
Bryn Hall, Lancashire. There are several stories relating to this
gruesome relic, one being that it was the hand of Father Arrowsmith, a
priest, who, according to some accounts, is said to have been put to
death for his religion in the time of William III. It is recorded that
when about to suffer he desired his spiritual attendant to cut off his
right hand, which should ever after have power to work miraculous
cures on those who had faith to believe in its efficacy. This relic,
which forms the subject of one of Roby's "Traditions of Lancashire,"
was preserved with great care in a white silk bag, and was resorted to
by many diseased persons, who are reported to have derived wonderful
cures from its application. Thus the case is related of a woman who,
attacked with the smallpox, had this dead hand in bed with her every
night for six weeks, and of a poor lad living near Manchester who was
touched with it for the cure of scrofulous sores.

It has been denied, however, that Father Arrowsmith was hanged for
"witnessing a good confession," and Mr. Roby, in his "Traditions of
Lancashire," says that, having been found guilty of a rape, in all
probability this story of his martyrdom, and of the miraculous
attestation to the truth of the cause for which he suffered, were
contrived for the purpose of preventing the scandal that would have
come upon the Church through the delinquency of an unworthy member. It
is further said that one of the family of the Kenyons attended as
under-sheriff at the execution, and that he refused the culprit some
trifling favour at the gallows, whereupon Arrowsmith denounced a curse
upon him, to wit, that, whilst the family could boast of an heir, so
long they never should want a cripple--a prediction which was supposed
by the credulous to have been literally fulfilled. But this story is
discredited, the real facts of the case, no doubt, being that he was
hanged "under sanction of an atrocious law, for no other reason but
because he had taken orders as a Roman Catholic priest, and had
endeavoured to prevail upon others to be of his own faith." According
to another version of the story, Edmund Arrowsmith was a native of
Haydock, in the parish of Winwick. He entered the Roman Catholic
College of Douay, where he was educated, afterwards being ordained
priest. But in the year 1628 he was apprehended and brought to
Lancaster on the charge of being a priest contrary to the laws of the
realm, and was executed on 26th August, 1628, his last words being
"Bone Jesu."[33] As recently as the year 1736, a boy of twelve years,
the son of Caryl Hawarden, of Appleton-within-Widnes, county of
Lancaster, is stated to have been cured of what appeared to be a fatal
malady by the application of Father Arrowsmith's hand, which was
effected in the following manner: The boy had been ill fifteen months,
and was at length deprived of the use of his limbs, with loss of his
memory and impaired sight. In this condition, which the physicians had
declared hopeless, it was suggested to his parents that, as wonderful
cures had been effected by the hand of "the martyred saint," it was
advisable to try its effects upon their afflicted child. The "holy
hand" was accordingly procured from Bryn, packed in a box and wrapped
in linen. Mrs. Hawarden, having explained to the invalid boy her hopes
and intentions, applied the back part of the dead hand to his back,
stroking it down each side the backbone and making the sign of the
Cross, which she accompanied with a fervent prayer that Jesus Christ
would aid it with His blessing. Having twice repeated this operation,
the patient, who had before been utterly helpless, rose from his seat
and walked about the house, to the surprise of seven persons who had
witnessed the miracle. From that day the boy's pains left him, his
memory was restored, and his health became re-established. This mystic
hand, it seems, was removed from Bryn Hall to Garswood, a seat of the
Gerard family, and subsequently to the priest's house at
Ashton-in-Makerfield. But many ludicrous tales are current in the
neighbourhood, of pilgrims having been rather roughly handled by some
of the servants, such as getting a good beating with a wooden hand, so
that the patients rapidly retraced their steps without having had the
application of the "holy hand."

It is curious to find that such a ghastly relic as a dead hand should
have been preserved in many a country house, and used as a talisman,
to which we find an amusing and laughable reference in the "Ingoldsby
Legends":

                       Open, lock,
    To the dead man's knock!
    Fly bolt, and bar, and band;
        Nor move, nor swerve,
        Joint, muscle, or nerve,
    At the spell of the dead man's hand.
    Sleep, all who sleep! Wake, all who wake!
    But be as dead for the dead man's sake.

The story goes on to tell how, influenced by the mysterious spell of
the enchanted hand, neither lock, bolt, nor bar avails, neither
"stout oak panel, thick studded with nails"; but, heavy and harsh, the
hinges creak, though they had been oiled in the course of the week,
and

    The door opens wide as wide may be,
        And there they stand,
        That wondrous band,
        Lit by the light of the glorious hand,
    By one! by two! by three!

At Danesfield, Berkshire--so-called from an ancient horseshoe
entrenchment of great extent near the house, supposed to be of Danish
origin--is preserved a withered hand, which has long had the
reputation of being that presented by Henry I. to Reading Abbey, and
reverenced there as the hand of James the Apostle. It answers exactly
to "the incorrupt hand" described by Hoveden, and was found among the
ruins of the abbey, where it is thought to have been secreted at the
dissolution.


FOOTNOTES:

[33] Baines's "Lancashire," iii., 638; Harland and Wilkinson's
"Lancashire Folklore," 158-163.



CHAPTER IX.

DEVIL COMPACTS.

 MEPHISTOPHELES.--I will bind myself to your service here,
 and never sleep nor slumber at your call. When we meet
 on the other side, you shall do as much for me.
               GOETHE'S "_Faust_."


The well-known story of Faust reminds us of the many similar weird
tales which have long held a prominent place in family traditions. But
in the majority of cases the devil is cheated out of his bargain by
some spell against which his influence is powerless. According to the
popular notion, compacts are frequently made with the devil, by which
he is bound to complete, for instance, a building--as a house, a
church, a bridge, or the like--within a certain period; but, through
some artifice, by which the soul of the person for whom he is doing
the work is saved, the completion of the undertaking is prevented:
Thus the cock is made to crow, because, like all spirits that shun the
light of the sun, the devil loses his power at break of day. The idea
of bartering the soul for temporary gain has not been confined to any
country, but as an article of terrible superstition has been
widespread. Mr Lecky has pointed out how, in the fourteenth century,
"the bas-reliefs on cathedrals frequently represent men kneeling down
before the devil, and devoting themselves to him as his servants." In
our own country, such compacts were generally made at midnight in some
lonely churchyard, or amid the ruins of some castle. But fortunately
for mankind, by resorting to spells and counterspells the binding
effects of these "devil-bonds" as they have been termed were, in most
cases, rendered ineffectual, the devil thereby losing the advantage.

It is noteworthy that the wisdom of the serpent is frequently
outwitted by a crafty woman, or a cunning priest. A well-known
Lancashire tradition gives a humorous account of how the devil was on
one occasion deluded by the shrewdness of a clever woman. Barely three
miles from Clitheroe, on the high road to Gisburne, stood a public
house with this title, "The Dule upo' Dun," which means "The Devil
upon Dun" (horse). The story runs that a poor tailor sold himself to
Satan for seven years on his granting him certain wishes, after which
term, according to the contract, signed, as is customary, with the
victim's own blood, his soul was to become "the devil's own." When the
fatal day arrived, on the advice of his wife, he consulted "the holy
father of Salley" in his extremity. At last the hour came when the
Evil One claimed his victim, who tremblingly contended that the
contract was won from him by fraud and dishonest pretences, and had
not been fulfilled. He even ventured to hint at his lack of power to
bestow riches, or any great gift, on which Satan was goaded into
granting him another wish. "Then," said the trembling tailor, "I wish
thou wert riding back again to thy quarters on yonder dun horse, and
never able to plague me again, or any other poor wretch whom thou has
gotten into thy clutches!"

The words were no sooner uttered than the devil, with a roar which was
heard as far as Colne, went away rivetted to the back of this dun
horse, the tailor watching his departure almost beside himself for
joy. He lived for many years in health and affluence, and, at his
death, one of his relatives having bought the house where he resided,
turned it into an inn, having for his sign, "The Dule upo' Dun." On it
was depicted "Old Hornie" mounted on a scraggy dun horse, without
saddle or bridle, "the terrified steed being off and away at full
gallop from the door, while a small hilarious tailor with shears and
measures," viewed his departure with anything but grief or
disapprobation.[34] The authors of "Lancashire Legends," describing
this old house, inform us that it was "one of those ancient gabled
black and white edifices, now fast disappearing under the march of
improvement. Many windows of little lozenge-shaped panes set in lead,
might be seen here in all the various stages of renovation and decay.
Over the door, till lately, swung the old and quaint sign, attesting
the truth of the tradition."

Occasionally similar bargains have been rendered ineffectual by
cunning device. In the north wall of the church of Tremeirchion, North
Wales, has long been shown the tomb of a former vicar, who was also
celebrated as a necromancer, flourishing in the middle of the
fourteenth century. It is reported that he proved himself more clever
than the Wicked One himself. A bargain was made between them that the
vicar should practise the black art with impunity during his life, but
that the devil should possess his body after death, whether he were
buried within or without the church. But the worthy vicar dexterously
cheated his ally of his bargain by being buried within the church wall
itself. A similar tradition is told of other localities, and amongst
them of Barn Hall, in the parish of Tolleshunt Knights, on the border
of the Essex marshes. In the middle of a field is shown an enclosed
uncultivated spot, where, the legend says, it was originally intended
to erect the hall, had not the devil come by night and destroyed the
work of the day. This kind of thing went on for some time, when it was
arranged that a knight, attended by two dogs, should watch for the
author of this mischief. He had not long to wait, for, in the quiet of
the night, the Prince of Darkness made his appearance, bent on his
mischievous errand. A tussle ensued, in the course of which,
snatching up a beam from the building, he hurled it to the site of the
present hall, exclaiming:

    "Wheresoe'er this beam shall fall,
    There shall stand Barn Hall."

But the devil, very angry at being thus foiled by the knight, vowed
that he would have him at his death, whether he was buried in the
church or out of it. "But this doom was averted by burying him in the
wall--half in and half out of the church. At Brent Pelham Church,
Herts, too, there is the tomb of one Piers Shonkes, and there is a
tale current in the neighbourhood that the devil swore he would have
him, no matter whether buried within or without the church. So, as a
means of escape, he was built up in the wall of the sacred edifice."

Another extraordinary story has long been told of Hermitage Castle,
one of the most famous of the Border Keeps in the days of its
splendour. It is not surprising, therefore, that for many years past
it has had the reputation of being haunted, having been described
as:--

                              "Haunted Hermitage,
    Where long by spells mysterious bound,
        They pace their round with lifeless smile,
        And shake with restless foot the guilty pile,
    Till sink the smouldering towers beneath the burdened ground."

It is popularly said that Lord Soulis, "the evil hero of Hermitage,"
in an unguarded moment made a compact with the devil, who appeared to
him in the shape of a spirit wearing a red cap, which gained its hue
from the blood of human victims in which it was steeped. Lord Soulis
sold himself to the demon, and in return he was permitted to summon
his familiar, whenever he was desirous of doing so, by rapping thrice
on an iron chest, the condition being that he never looked in the
direction of the spirit. But one day, whether wittingly or not has
never been ascertained, he failed to comply with this stipulation, and
his doom was sealed. But even then the foul fiend kept the letter of
the compact. Lord Soulis was protected by an unholy charm against any
injury from rope or steel; hence cords could not bind him, and steel
could not slay him. But when at last he was delivered over to his
enemies, it was found necessary to adopt the ingenious and effective
expedient of rolling him up in a sheet of lead, and boiling him to
death, and so:

    On a circle of stones they placed the pot,
      On a circle of stones but barely nine;
    They heated it red and fiery hot
      And the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.
    They rolled him up in a sheet of lead--
      A sheet of lead for a funeral pall;
    They plunged him into the cauldron red
      And melted him, body, lead, bones and all.

This was the terrible end of the body of Lord Soulis, but his spirit
is supposed to still linger on the scene. And once every seven years
he keeps tryst with Red Cap on the scene of his former devilries.

    And still when seven years are o'er
     Is heard the jarring sound
    When hollow opes the charmèd door
     Of chamber underground.

A tradition well-known in Yorkshire relates how on the Eagle's Crag,
otherwise nicknamed the "Witches' Horseblock," the Lady of Bernshaw
Tower made that strange compact with the devil, whereby she not only
became mistress of the country around, but the dreaded queen of the
Lancashire witches. It seems that this Lady Sybil was possessed of
almost unrivalled beauty, and scarcely a day passed without some fresh
admirer seeking her hand--an additional attraction being her great
wealth. Her intellectual attainments, too, were commonly said to be
far beyond those of her sex, and oftentimes she would visit the
Eagle's Crag in order to study nature and admire the varied aspects of
the surrounding country.

[Illustration: LADY SYBIL AT THE EAGLES' CRAG.]

It was on these occasions that Lady Sybil often felt a strong desire
to possess supernatural powers; and, in an unwary moment, it is said
that she was induced to sell her soul to the devil, in order that she
might be able to take a part in the nightly revelries of the then
famous Lancashire witches. It is added that the bond was duly attested
with her blood, and that in consequence of this compact her utmost
wishes were at all times granted. Hapton Tower was, at this time,
occupied by a junior branch of the Towneley family, and, although Lord
William had long been a suitor for the hand of Lady Sybil, his
proposals were constantly rejected. In his despair, he determined to
consult a famous Lancashire witch--one Mother Helston--who promised
him success on the ensuing All Hallows' Eve. When the day arrived, in
accordance with her directions, he went out hunting, and on nearing
Eagle's Crag he started a milk-white doe, but, after scouring the
country for miles--the hounds being well-nigh exhausted--he returned
to the Crag. At this crisis, a strange hound joined them--the familiar
of Mother Helston, which had been sent to capture Lady Sibyl, who had
assumed the disguise of the white doe. The remainder of the curious
family legend, as told by Mr. Harland, is briefly this: During the
night, Hapton Tower was shaken as by an earthquake, and in the morning
the captured doe appeared as the fair heiress of Bernshaw. Counter
spells were adopted, her powers of witchcraft were suspended, and
before many days had passed Lord William had the happiness to lead his
newly-wedded bride to his ancestral home. But within a year she had
renewed her diabolical practices, causing a serious breach between her
husband and herself. Happily a reconciliation was eventually effected,
but her bodily strength gave way, and her health rapidly declined.
When it became evident that the hour of her death was drawing near,
Lord William obtained the services of the neighbouring clergy, and by
their holy offices the devil's bond was cancelled. Soon afterwards,
Lady Sybil died in peace, but Bernshaw Tower was from that time
deserted. Popular tradition, however, still alleges that her grave was
dug where the dark Eagle's Crag shoots out its cold, bare peak into
the sky, and on the eve of All Hallows, the hound and the milk-white
doe are supposed by the peasantry to meet on the Crag, pursued by a
spectre huntsman in full chase. It is further added that the belated
peasant crosses himself at the sound, remembering the sad fate of Lady
Sybil of Bernshaw Tower.

It is curious to find no less a person than Sir Francis Drake charged
with having been befriended by the devil; and the many marvellous
stories current respecting him still linger among the Devonshire
peasantry. By the aid of the devil, it is said, he was enabled to
destroy the Spanish Armada. And his connection with the old Abbey of
Buckland is equally singular. An extensive building attached to the
abbey, for instance, which was no doubt used as barns and stables
after the place had been deprived of its religious character, was
reported to have been built by the devil in three nights. "After the
first night," writes Mr. Hunt,[35] "the butler, astonished at the work
done, resolved to watch and see how it was performed. Consequently,
on the second night, he mounted into a large tree and hid himself
between the forks of its five branches. At midnight, so the story
goes, the devil came, driving teams of oxen, and, as some of them were
lazy, he plucked this tree from the ground and used it as a goad. The
poor butler lost his senses and never recovered them." Although, as it
has been truly remarked, "on the waters that wash the shores of the
county of Devon were achieved many of those triumphs which make Sir
Francis Drake's life read more like a romance than a sober chronicle
of facts;" the extraordinary traditions told respecting him have
largely invested his life with the supernatural. But, whatever may
have been the nature of his dealings with the devil, we are told that
he has had to pay dearly for any earthly advantages he may have
derived therefrom in his lifetime, "being forced to drive at night a
black hearse, drawn by headless horses, and urged on by running devils
and yelping headless dogs, along the road from Tavistock to Plymouth."

Among the many tales related, in which the demoniacal element holds a
prominent place, there is one relating to the projected marriage of
his wife. It seems that Sir Francis was abroad, and his wife, not
hearing from him for seven years, concluded he must be dead, and hence
was at liberty to enter for a second time the holy estate of
matrimony. Her choice was made and the nuptial day fixed; but Sir
Francis Drake was informed of all this by a spirit that attended him.
And just as the wedding was about to be solemnised, he hastily charged
one of his big guns and discharged a ball. So true was the aim that
"the ball shot up right through the globe, dashed through the roof of
the church, and fell with a loud explosion between the lady and her
intended bridegroom." The spectators and assembled guests were thrown
into the wildest confusion; but the bride declared it was an
indication that Sir Francis Drake was still alive, and, as she refused
to allow another golden circlet to be placed on her finger, the
intended ceremony was, in the most abrupt and unexpected manner,
ended. The prettiest part of the tale remains to be told. Not long
afterwards Sir Francis Drake returned, and, disguised as a beggar, he
solicited alms from his wife at her own door; when, unable to prevent
smiling in the midst of a feigned tale of abject poverty, she
recognised him, and a very joyful meeting took place.

And even Buckland Abbey did not escape certain strange influences.
Some years ago, a small box was found in a closet which had been long
closed, containing, it is supposed, family papers. It was arranged
that this box should be sent to the residence of the inheritor of the
property. The carriage was at the abbey door, into which it was easily
lifted. The owner having taken his seat, the coachman attempted to
start his horses, but in vain. They would not, they could not, move.
More horses were brought and then the heavy farm horses, and
eventually all the oxen. They were powerless to start the carriage. At
length a mysterious voice was heard declaring that the box could never
be moved from Buckland Abbey. Accordingly it was taken from the
carriage easily by one man, and a pair of horses galloped off with the
carriage.

The famous Jewish banker, Samuel Bernard, who died in the year 1789,
leaving an enormous property, had, it is said, "a favourite black cock
which was regarded by many as uncanny, and as unpleasantly connected
with the amassing of his fortune." The bird died a day or two before
his master. It would seem that in bygone years black cocks were
extensively used in magical incantations and in sacrifices to the
devil, and Burns, it may be remembered, in his "Address to the Deil"
says, "Some cock or cat your rage must stop;" and a well-known French
recipe for invoking the Evil One runs thus: "Take a black cock under
your left arm, and go at midnight to where four cross roads meet. Then
cry three times 'Poul Noir!' or else utter 'Robert' nine times, and
the devil will appear."

Among the romantic stories told of Kersal Hall, Lancashire, it is
related how Eustace Dauntesey, one of its chiefs in days of old, wooed
a maiden fair with a handsome fortune; but she gave her heart to a
rival suitor. The wedding day was fixed, but the prospect of her
marriage was a terrible trouble to Eustace, and threatened to mar the
happiness of his life. Having, however, in his youth perfected
himself in the black art, he drew a magic circle, at the witching hour
of night, and summoned the Evil One to a consultation. The meeting
came off, at which the usual bargain was quickly struck, the soul of
Eustace being bartered for the coveted body of the beautiful young
lady. The compact, it was arranged, should close at her death, but the
Evil One was to remain meanwhile by the side of Dauntesey in the form
of an elegant "self," or genteel companion. In due course the eventful
day arrived when Eustace stood before the altar. But the marriage
ceremony was no sooner over than, on leaving the sacred edifice, the
elements were found to be the reverse of favourable to them. The
flowers strewed before their feet stuck to their wet shoes, and
soaking rain cast a highly depressing influence on all the bridal
surroundings; and, on arriving at the festive hall where the marriage
feast was to be held, the ill-fortune of Eustace assumed another
shape. Strange to say, his bride began to melt away before his very
eyes, and, thoroughly familiar as he was with the laws of magic, here
was a new phase of mystery which was completely beyond his
comprehension. In short, poor Eustace was the wretched victim of a
complete swindle, for while, on the one hand, something is recorded
about "a holy prayer, a sunny beam, and an angel train bearing the
fair maiden slowly to a fleecy cloud, in whose bosom she became lost
to earth," Dauntesey, on the other hand, awakened to consciousness by
a touch from his sinister companion, saw a huge yawning gulf at his
feet, and felt himself gradually sinking in a direction exactly the
opposite of that taken by his bride, who, in the short space of an
hour, was lost to him for ever.

But one of the most curious cases of this kind was that recorded in an
old tractate[36] published in 1662, giving an account attested by "six
of the sufficientest men of the town," of what happened to a certain
John Leech, a farmer living at Raveley. Being desirous of visiting
Whittlesea fair, he went beforehand with a neighbour to an inn for the
purpose of drinking "his morninges draught." Whilst the two were
enjoying their "morninges draught," Mr. Leech began to be "very
merry," and, seeing his friend was desirous of going, he exclaimed,
"Let the devil take him who goeth out of this house to-day." But in
his merriment he forgot his rash observation, and shortly afterwards,
calling for his horse, set out for the fair. He had not travelled far
on the road when he remembered what he had said, "his conscience being
sore troubled at that damnable oath which he had took." Not knowing
what to do, he rode about, first one way and then another, until
darkness set in, and at about two o'clock in the night "he espied two
grim creatures before him in the likeness of griffins." These were
the devil's messengers, who had been sent to take him at his word, and
take him they did, according to the testimony of the "six
sufficientist men of the town." They roughly handled him, took him up
in the air, stripped him, and then dropped him, "a sad spectacle, all
bloody and goared," in a farmyard just outside the town of Doddington.

Here he was discovered, lying upon some harrows, in the condition
described. He was picked up, and carried to a gentleman's house,
where, being well cared for, he narrated the remarkable adventure
which had befallen him. Before long, however, he "grew into a frenzy
so desperate that they were afraid to stay in his chamber," and the
gentleman of the house, not knowing what to do, "sent for the parson
of the town." Prompted, it is supposed, by the Satanic influence which
still held him, Mr. Leech rushed at the minister, and attacked him
with so much fury that it was "like to have cost him his life." But
the noise being heard below, the servants rushed up, rescued the
parson, and tied Mr. Leech down in his bed, and left him. The next
morning, hearing nothing, they thought he was asleep, but on entering
his room "he was discovered with his neck broke, his tongue out of his
mouth, and his body as black as a shoe, all swelled, and every bone in
his body out of joint."[37]

We may conclude these extraordinary cases of "devil-bonds" with two
further strange incidents, one an apparent record of a case of a
similar kind, which was practised, amidst the frivolities and plotting
of the French Court, by no less celebrated a lady than Catharine de
Medicis. In the "Secret History of France for the Last Century,"[38]
this incredible story is given: "In the first Civil War, when the
Prince of Conde was, in all appearance, likely to prevail, and
Katherine was thought to be very near the end of her much desired
Regency, during the young king's minority, she was known to have been
for two days together retired to her closet, without admitting her
menial servants to her presence." Some few days after, having called
for Monsieur de Mesme, one of the Long Robe, and always firm to her
interest, she delivered him a steel box, fast locked, to whom she
said, giving him the key: 'That in respect she knew not what might
come to her by fortune, amidst those intestine broils that then shook
France, she had thought fit to enclose a thing of great value within
that box, which she consigned to his care, not to open it upon oath,
but by an express order under her own hand.' The queen dying without
ever calling for the box, it continued many years unopened in the
family of De Mesme, after both their deaths, till, at last, curiosity,
or the suspicion of some treasure, from the heaviness of it, tempted
Monsieur de Mesme's successor to break it open, which he did. Instead
of any rich present from so great a queen, what horror must the
lookers on have when they found a copper plate of the form and bigness
of one of the ancient Roman Votive Shields, on which was engraved
Queen Katherine de Medicis on her knees, in a praying posture,
offering up to the devil sitting upon a throne, in one of the ugliest
shapes they used to paint him, Charles the IXth, then reigning, the
Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry III., and the Duke of Alanson, her
three sons, with this motto in French, "So be it, I but reign."

And in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Hatfield, near the Isle of
Axholme, Yorkshire, the following ridiculous story is given: "Robert
de Roderham appeared against John de Ithon, for that he had not kept
the agreement made between them, and therefore complains that on a
certain day and year, at Thorne, there was an agreement between the
aforesaid Robert and John, whereby the said John sold to the said
Robert the Devil, bound in a certain bond, for threepence farthing,
and thereupon, the said Robert delivered to the said John one farthing
as earnest money, by which the property of the said devil, was vested
in the person of the said Robert, to have livery of the said devil on
the fourth day next following, at which day the said Robert came to
the forenamed John and asked delivery of the said devil, according to
the agreement between them made. But the said John refused to deliver
the said devil, nor has he yet done it, &c., to the great damage of
the said Robert, to the amount of 60gs, and he has, therefore, brought
his suit.

"The said John came, and did not deny the said agreement; and because
it appeared to the Court that such a suit ought not to subsist among
Christians, the aforesaid parties are, therefore, adjourned to the
infernal regions, there to hear their judgment, and both parties were
amerced by William de Scargell, Seneschall."


FOOTNOTES:

[34] Harland and Wilkinson's "Lancashire Legends," 15-16.

[35] "Romances of the West of England."

[36] "A Strange and True Relation of one Mr. John Leech," 1662.

[37] "Saunders' Legends and Traditions of Huntingdonshire," 1878, 1-3.

[38] London, printed for A. Bell, 1714.



CHAPTER X.

FAMILY DEATH OMENS.

    "Say not 'tis vain! I tell thee, some
      Are warned by a meteor's light,
    Or a pale bird flitting calls them home,
      Or a voice on the winds by night--
    And they must go. And he too, he,
    Woe for the fall of the glorious tree."
               --MRS. HEMANS.


A curious chapter in the history of many of our old county families is
that relating to certain forewarnings, which, from time immemorial,
have been supposed to indicate the approach of death. However
incredible the existence of these may seem, their appearance is still
intimately associated with certain houses, instances of which have
been recorded from time to time. Thus Cuckfield Place, Sussex, is not
only interesting as a fine Elizabethan mansion, but as having
suggested to Ainsworth the "Rookwood Hall" of his striking romance.
"The supernatural occurrence," he says, "forming the groundwork of one
of the ballads which I have made the harbinger of doom to the house of
Rookwood, is ascribed, by popular superstition, to a family resident
in Sussex, upon whose estate the fatal tree--a gigantic lime, with
mighty arms and huge girth of trunk--is still carefully preserved." In
the avenue that winds towards the house the doom-tree still stands:--

    "And whether gale or calm prevail, or threatening cloud hath fled,
      By hand of Fate, predestinate, a limb that tree will shed;
    A verdant bough, untouched, I trow, by axe or tempest's breath,
      To Rookwood's head, an omen dread of fast approaching death."

"Cuckfield Place," adds Ainsworth, "to which this singular piece of
timber is attached, is the real Rookwood Hall, for I have not drawn
upon imagination, but upon memory, in describing the seat and domains
of that fated family." A similar tradition is associated with the
Edgewell Oak, which is said to indicate the coming death of an inmate
of Castle Dalhousie by the fall of one of its branches; and Camden in
his "Magna Britannia," alluding to the antiquity of the Brereton
family, relates this peculiar fact which is reported to have been
repeated many times: "This wonderful thing respecting them is commonly
believed, and I have heard it myself affirmed by many, that for some
days before the death of the heir of the family the trunk of a tree
has always been seen floating in the lake adjoining their mansion;" a
popular superstition to which Mrs. Hemans refers in the lines which
head the present chapter. A further instance of a similar kind is
given by Sir Bernard Burke, who informs us that opposite the
dining-room at Gordon Castle is a large and massive willow tree, the
history of which is somewhat singular. Duke Alexander, when four years
old, planted this willow in a tub filled with earth. The tub floated
about in a marshy-piece of land, till the shrub, expanding, burst its
cerements, and struck root in the earth below; here it grew and
prospered till it attained its present goodly size. It is said the
Duke regarded the tree with a sort of fatherly and even superstitious
regard, half-believing there was some mysterious affinity between its
fortune and his own. If an accident happened to the one by storm or
lightning, some misfortune was not long in befalling the other.

It has been noted, also, that the same thing is related of the brave
but unfortunate Admiral Kempenfeldt, who went down in the Royal George
off Portsmouth. During his proprietary of Lady Place, he and his
brother planted two thorn trees. But one day, on coming home, the
brother noted that the tree planted by the Admiral had completely
withered away. Astonished at this unexpected sight, he felt some
apprehensions as to Admiral Kempenfeldt's safety, and exclaimed with
some emotion, "I feel sure that this is an omen that my brother is
dead." By a striking coincidence, his worst fears were realised, for
on that evening came the terrible news of the loss of the Royal
George.

Whenever any member of the family of Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, in the
county of Dumfries was about to die--either by accident or disease--a
swan that was never seen but on such occasions, was sure to make its
appearance upon the lake which surrounded Closeburn Castle, coming no
one knew whence, and passing away as mysteriously when the predicted
death had taken place, in connection with which the following singular
legend has been handed down: In days gone by, the lake of Closeburn
Castle was the favourite resort during the summer season of a pair of
swans, their arrival always being welcome to the family at the castle
from a long established belief that they were ominous of good fortune
to the Kirkpatricks. "No matter," it is said, "what mischance might
have before impended, it was sure to cease at their coming, and so
suddenly, as well as constantly, that it required no very ardent
superstition to connect the two events into cause and effect."

But a century and a half had passed away, when it happened that the
young heir of Closeburn Castle--a lad of not quite thirteen years of
age--in one of his visits to Edinburgh attended at the theatre a
performance of "The Merchant of Venice," in the course of which he was
surprised to hear Portia say of Bassanio that he should

        "Make a swan-like end,
    Fading in music."

Often wondering whether swans really sang before dying he determined,
at the first opportunity, to test the truth of these words for
himself. On his return home, he was one day walking by the lake when
the swans came sailing majestically towards him, and at once reminded
of Portia's remark. Without a moment's thought, he lodged in the
breast of the foremost one a bolt from his crossbow, killing it
instantly. Frightened at what he had done, he made up his mind it
should not be known; and, as the water drifted the dead body of the
bird towards the shore, he buried it deep in the ground.

No small surprise, however, was occasioned in the neighbourhood, when,
for several years, no swans made their annual appearance, the idea at
last being that they must have died in their native home, wherever
that might chance to be. The yearly visit of the swans of Closeburn
had become a thing of the past, when one day much excitement was
caused by the return of a single swan, and much more so when a deep
blood-red stain was observed upon its breast. As might be expected,
this unlooked-for occurrence occasioned grave suspicions even amongst
those who had no great faith in omens; and that such fears were not
groundless was soon abundantly clear, for in less than a week the lord
of Closeburn Castle died suddenly. Thereupon the swan vanished, and
was seen no more for some years, when it again appeared to announce
the loss of one of the house by shipwreck.

The last recorded appearance of the bird was at the third nuptials of
Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, the first baronet of that name. On the
wedding-day, his son Roger was walking by the lake, when, on a sudden,
as if it had emerged from the waters, the swan appeared with the
bleeding breast. Roger had heard of this mysterious swan, and,
although his father's wedding bells were ringing merrily, he himself
returned to the castle a sorrowful man, for he felt convinced that
some evil was hanging over him. Despite his father's jest at what he
considered groundless superstition on his part, the young man could
not shake off his fears, replying to his father, "Perhaps before long
you also may be sorrowful." On the night of that very day the son
died, and here ends the strange story of the swans of Closeburn.[39]

Similarly, whenever two owls are seen perched on the family mansion of
the noble family of Arundel of Wardour, it has long been regarded as a
certain indication that one of its members before very long will be
summoned out of the world; and the appearance of a white-breasted bird
was the death-warning of the Oxenham family, particulars relating to
the tragic origin of which are to be found in a local ballad, which
commences thus[40]:

    Where lofty hills in grandeur meet,
      And Taw meandering flows,
    There is a sylvan, calm retreat,
      Where erst a mansion rose.

    There dwelt Sir James of Oxenham,
      A brave and generous lord;
    Benighted travellers never came
      Unwelcome to his board.

    In early life his wife had died;
      A son he ne'er had known;
    And Margaret, his age's pride,
      Was heir to him alone.

In course of time, Margaret became affianced to a young knight, and
their wedding-day was fixed. On the evening preceding it, her father,
in accordance with custom, gave a banquet to his friends, in order
that they might congratulate him on the approaching happy union. He
stood up to thank them for their kind wishes, and in alluding to the
young knight--in a few hours time to be his daughter's husband--he
jestingly called him his son:--

    But while the dear unpractised word
      Still lingered on his tongue,
    He saw a silvery breasted bird
      Fly o'er the festive throng.

    Swift as the lightning's flashes fleet,
      And lose their brilliant light,
    Sir James sank back upon his seat
      Pale and entranced with fright.

With some difficulty he managed to conceal the cause of his
embarrassment, but on the following day the priest had scarcely begun
the marriage service,

    When Margaret with terrific screams
      Made all with horror start.
    Good heavens! her blood in torrents streams,
      A dagger in her heart.

The deed had been done by a discarded lover, who, by the aid of a
clever disguise, had managed to station himself just behind her:--

    "Now marry me, proud maid," he cried,
      "Thy blood with mine shall wed";
    He dashed the dagger in his side,
      And at her feet fell dead.

And this pathetic ballad concludes by telling us how

    Poor Margaret, too, grows cold with death,
      And round her hovering flies
    The phantom bird for her last breath,
      To bear it to the skies.

Equally strange is the omen with which the ancient baronet's family of
Clifton, of Clifton Hall, in Nottinghamshire, is forewarned when death
is about to visit one of its members. It appears that in this case the
omen takes the shape of a sturgeon, which is seen forcing itself up
the river Trent, on whose bank the mansion of the Clifton family is
situated. And, it may be remembered, how in the park of Chartley, near
Lichfield, there has long been preserved the breed of the indigenous
Staffordshire cow, of white sand colour, with black ears, muzzle, and
tips at the hoofs. In the year of the battle of Burton Bridge a black
calf was born; and the downfall of the great house of Ferrers
happening at the same period, gave rise to the tradition, which to
this day has been current in the neighbourhood, that the birth of a
parti-coloured calf from the wild breed in Chartley Park is a sure
omen of death within the same year to a member of the family.

By a noticeable coincidence, a calf of this description has been born
whenever a death has happened in the family of late years. The decease
of the Earl and his Countess, of his son Lord Tamworth, of his
daughter Mrs. William Joliffe, as well as the deaths of the son and
heir of the eighth Earl and his daughter Lady Frances Shirley, were
each preceded by the ominous birth of a calf. In the spring of the
year 1835, an animal perfectly black, was calved by one of this
mysterious tribe in the park of Chartley, and it was soon followed by
the death of the Countess.[41] The park of Chartley, where this weird
announcement of one of the family's death has oftentimes caused so
much alarm, is a wild romantic spot, and was in days of old attached
to the Royal Forest of Needwood and the Honour of Tutbury--of the
whole of which the ancient family of Ferrers were the puissant lords.
Their immense possessions, now forming part of the Duchy of Lancaster,
were forfeited by the attainder of Earl Ferrers after his defeat at
Burton Bridge, where he led the rebellious Barons against Henry III.
The Chartley estate, being settled in dower, was alone reserved, and
has been handed down to its present possessor. Of Chartley Castle
itself--which appears to have been in ruins for many years--many
interesting historical facts are recorded. Thus it is said Queen
Elizabeth visited her favourite, the Earl of Essex, here in August,
1575, and was entertained by him in a half-timbered house which
formerly stood near the Castle, but was long since destroyed by fire.
It is questionable whether Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in this
house, or in a portion of the old Castle. Certain, however, it is that
the unfortunate queen was brought to Chartley from Tutbury on
Christmas day, 1585. The exact date at which she left Chartley is
uncertain, but it appears she was removed thence under a plea of
taking the air without the bounds of the Castle. She was then
conducted by daily stages from the house of one gentleman to another,
under pretence of doing her honour, without her having the slightest
idea of her destination, until she found herself on the 20th of
September, within the fatal walls of Fotheringhay Castle.

Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Airlie, has for many years
past been famous for its mysterious drummer, for whenever the sound of
his drum is heard it is regarded as the sure indication of the
approaching death of a member of the Ogilvie family. There is a tragic
origin given to this curious phenomenon, the story generally told
being to the effect that either the drummer, or some officer whose
emissary he was, had excited the jealousy of a former Lord Airlie, and
that he was in consequence of this occurrence put to death by being
thrust into his own drum, and flung from the window of the tower, in
which is situated the chamber where his music is apparently chiefly
heard. It is also said that the drummer threatened to haunt the family
if his life were taken, a promise which he has not forgotten to
fulfil.

Then there is the well-known tradition that prior to the death of any
of the lords of Roslin, Roslin Chapel appears to be on fire, a weird
occurrence which forms the subject of Harold's song in the "Lay of the
Last Ministrel."

    O'er Roslin all that dreary night
      A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
    'Twas broader than the watch-fire light
      And redder than the bright moonbeam.

    It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
      It ruddied all the copse-wood glen;
    'Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak,
      And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.

    Seem'd all on fire that Chapel proud,
      Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffin'd lie;
    Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
      Sheathed in his iron panoply.

    Seem'd all on fire, within, around,
      Deep sacristy and altar's pale
    Shone every pillar, foliage-bound,
      And glimmer'd all the dead men's mail.

    Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
      Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair;
    So still they blaze when Fate is nigh
      The lordly line of Hugh St. Clair.

But, although the last "Roslin," as he was called, died in the year
1778, and the estates passed into the possession of the Erskines,
Earls of Rosslyn, the old tradition has not been extinguished.
Something of the same kind is described as having happened to the old
Cornish family of the Vingoes on their estate of Treville, for
"through all time a peculiar token has marked the coming death of one
of the family. Above the deep caverns in the Treville Cliff rises a
carn. On this chains of fire were seen ascending and descending, and
oftentimes were accompanied by loud and frightful noises. But it is
reported that these tokens have not taken place since the last male of
the family came to a violent end. According to Mr. Hunt,[42]
"tradition tells us this estate was given to an old family who came
with the Conqueror to this country. This ancestor is said to have been
the Duke of Normandy's wine taster, and to have belonged to the
ancient Counts of Treville, hence the name of the estate. For many
generations the family has been declining, and the race is now
nearly, if not quite, extinct.

In some cases, families have been apprised of an approaching death by
some strange spectre, either male or female, a remarkable instance of
which occurs in the MS. memoirs of Lady Fanshaw, and is to this
effect: "Her husband, Sir Richard, and she, chanced, during their
abode in Ireland, to visit a friend, who resided in his ancient
baronial castle surrounded with a moat. At midnight she was awakened
by a ghastly and supernatural scream, and, looking out of bed, beheld
by the moonlight a female face and part of the form hovering at the
window. The face was that of a young and rather handsome woman, but
pale; and the hair, which was reddish, was loose and dishevelled. This
apparition continued to exhibit itself for some time, and then
vanished with two shrieks, similar to that which had at first excited
Lady Fanshaw's attention. In the morning, with infinite terror, she
communicated to her host what had happened, and found him prepared not
only to credit, but to account for, what had happened.

"A near relation of mine," said he, "expired last night in the castle.
Before such an event happens in this family and castle, the female
spectre whom you have seen is always visible. She is believed to be
the spirit of a woman of inferior rank, whom one of my ancestors
degraded himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate the
dishonour done his family, he caused to be drowned in the castle
moat."

This, of course, was no other than the Banshee, which in times past
has been the source of so much terror in Ireland. Amongst the
innumerable stories told of its appearance may be mentioned one
related by Mrs. Lefanu, the niece of Sheridan, in the memoirs of her
grandmother, Mrs. Frances Sheridan. From this account we gather that
Miss Elizabeth Sheridan was a firm believer in the Banshee, and firmly
maintained that the one attached to the Sheridan family was distinctly
heard lamenting beneath the windows of the family residence before the
news arrived from France of Mrs. Frances Sheridan's death at Blois.
She adds that a niece of Miss Sheridan's made her very angry by
observing that as Mrs. Frances Sheridan was by birth a Chamberlaine, a
family of English extraction, she had no right to the guardianship of
an Irish fairy, and that therefore the Banshee must have made a
mistake.

Likewise, many a Scotch family has its death-warning, a notable one
being the Bodach Glass, which Sir Walter Scott has introduced in his
"Waverley" as the messenger of bad-tidings to the MacIvors, the truth
of which, it is said, has been traditionally proved by the experience
of no less than three hundred years. It is thus described by Fergus to
Waverley: "'You must know that when my ancestor, Ian nan Chaistel,
wanted Northumberland, there was appointed with him in the expedition
a sort of southland chief, or captain of a band of Lowlanders, called
Halbert Hall. In their return through the Cheviots they quarrelled
about the division of the great booty they had acquired, and came from
words to blows. The Lowlanders were cut off to a man, and their chief
fell the last, covered with wounds, by the sword of my ancestor. Since
that day his spirit has crossed the Vich Ian Vohr of the day when any
great disaster was impending.'" Fergus then gives to Waverley a
graphic and detailed account of the appearance of the Bodach: "'Last
night I felt so feverish that I left my quarters and walked out, in
hopes the keen frosty air would brace my nerves. I crossed a small
foot bridge, and kept walking backwards and forwards, when I observed,
with surprise, by the clear moonlight, a tall figure in a grey plaid,
which, move at what pace I would, kept regularly about four yards
before me.'

"'You saw a Cumberland peasant in his ordinary dress, probably.'

"'No; I thought so at first, and was astonished at the man's audacity
in daring to dog me. I called to him, but received no answer. I felt
an anxious troubling at my heart, and to ascertain what I dreaded, I
stood still, and turned myself on the same spot successively to the
four points of the compass. By heaven, Edward, turn where I would, the
figure was instantly before my eyes at precisely the same distance. I
was then convinced it was the Bodach Glass. My hair bristled, and my
knees shook. I manned myself, however, and determined to return to my
quarters. My ghastly visitor glided before me until he reached the
footbridge, there he stopped, and turned full round. I must either
wade the river or pass him as close as I am to you. A desperate
courage, founded on the belief that my death was near, made me resolve
to make my way in despite of him. I made the sign of the cross, drew
my sword, and uttered, 'In the name of God, evil spirit, give place!'

"'Vich Ian Vohr,' it said, in a voice that made my very blood curdle;
'beware of to-morrow.'

"'It seemed at that moment not half a yard from my sword's point; but
the words were no sooner spoken than it was gone, and nothing appeared
further to obstruct my passage.'"

An ancestor of the family of McClean, of Lochburg, was commonly
reported, before the death of any of his race, to gallop along the
sea-beach, announcing the event by dismal cries, and lamentations, and
Sir Walter Scott, in his "Peveril of the Peak," tells us that the
Stanley family are forewarned of the approach of death by a female
spirit, "weeping and bemoaning herself before the death of any person
of distinction belonging to the family."

These family death-omens are of a most varied description, having
assumed particular forms in different localities. Corby Castle,
Cumberland, was famed for its "Radiant Boy," a luminous apparition
which occasionally made its appearance, the tradition in the family
being that the person who happened to see it would rise to the summit
of power, and after reaching that position would die a violent death.
As an instance of this strange belief, it is related how Lord
Castlereagh in early life saw this spectre; as is well-known, he
afterwards became head of the government, but finally perished by his
own hand. Then there was the dreaded spectre of the Goblin Friar
associated with Newstead Abbey:

                          A monk, arrayed
    In cowl and beads, and dusky garb, appeared,
      Now in the moonlight, and now lapsed in shade,
    With steps that trod as heavy, yet unheard--

This apparition was generally supposed to forebode evil to the member
of the family to whom it appeared, and its movements have thus been
poetically described by Lord Byron, who, it may be added, maintained
that he beheld this uncanny spectre before his ill-starred union with
Miss Millbanke:

    By the marriage bed of their lords, 'tis said,
      He flits on the bridal eve;
    And 'tis held as faith, to their bed of death
      He comes--but not to grieve.

    When an heir is born, he is heard to mourn,
      And when aught is to befall
    That ancient line, in the pale moonshine
      He walks from hall to hall.

    His form you may trace, but not his face,
      'Tis shadowed by his cowl;
    But his eyes may be seen from the folds between,
      And they seem of a parted soul.

An ancient Roman Catholic family in Yorkshire, of the name of
Middleton, is said to be apprised of the death of anyone of its
members by the appearance of a Benedictine nun, and Berry Pomeroy
Castle, Devonshire, was supposed to be haunted by the daughter of a
former baron, who bore a child to her own father, and afterwards
strangled the fruit of their incestuous intercourse. But, after death,
it seems this wretched woman could not rest, and whenever death was
about to visit the castle she was generally seen sadly wending her way
to the scene of her earthly crimes. According to another tradition,
there is a circular tower, called "Margaret's Tower," rising above
some broken steps that lead into a dismal vault, and the tale still
runs that, on certain evenings in the year, the spirit of the Ladye
Margaret, a young daughter of the house of Pomeroy, appears clad in
white on these steps, and, beckoning to the passers-by, lures them to
destruction into the dungeon ruin beneath them.

And, indeed, it would seem to have been a not infrequent occurrence
for family ghosts to warn the living when death was at hand--a piece
of superstition which has always held a prominent place in our
household traditions, reminding us of kindred stories on the
Continent, where the so-called White Lady has long been an object of
dread.

There has, too, long been a strange notion that when storms, heavy
rains, or other elemental strife, take place at the death of a great
man, the spirit of the storm will not be appeased till the moment of
burial. This belief seems to have gained great strength on the
occasion of the Duke of Wellington's funeral, when, after some weeks
of heavy rain, and some of the highest floods ever known, the skies
began to clear, and both rain and flood abated. It was a common
observation in the week before the duke's interment, "Oh, the rain
won't give o'er till the Duke is buried!"


FOOTNOTES:

[39] "Family Romance"--Sir Bernard Burke--1853, ii., 200-210.

[40] In 1641 there was published a tract, with a frontispiece, entitled
"A True Relation of an Apparition, in the Likeness of a Bird with a
white breast, that appeared hovering over the Death-bed of some of the
children of Mr. James Oxenham, &c."

[41] This tradition has been wrought into a romantic story, entitled
"Chartley, or the Fatalist."

[42] "Popular Romances of West of England."



CHAPTER XI.

WEIRD POSSESSIONS.

    "But not a word o' it; 'tis fairies' treasure,
    Which, but revealed, brings on the blabber's ruin."
               MASSINGER'S "_Fatal Dowry_."


From the earliest days a strange fatality has been supposed to cling
to certain things--a phase of superstition which probably finds as
many believers nowadays as when Homer wrote of the fatal necklace of
Eriphyle that wrought mischief to all who had been in possession of
it. In numerous cases, it is difficult to account for the prejudice
thus displayed, although occasionally it is based on some traditionary
story. But whatever the origin of the luck, or ill-luck, attaching to
sundry family possessions, such heirlooms have been preserved with a
kind of superstitious care, handed down from generation to generation.

One of the most remarkable curiosities connected with family
superstitions is what is commonly known as "The Coalstoun Pear," the
strange antecedent history of which is thus given in a work entitled,
"The Picture of Scotland": "Within sight of the House of Lethington,
in Haddingtonshire, stands the mansions of Coalstoun, the seat of the
ancient family of Coalstoun, whose estate passed by a series of heirs
of line into the possession of the Countess of Dalhousie. This place
is chiefly worthy of attention here, on account of a strange heirloom,
with which the welfare of the family was formerly supposed to be
connected.

"One of the Barons of Coalstoun, about three hundred years ago,
married Jean Hay, daughter of John, third Lord Yester, with whom he
obtained a dowry, not consisting of such base materials as houses or
land, but neither more nor less than a pear. 'Sure such a pear was
never seen,' however, as this of Coalstoun, which a remote ancestor of
the young lady, famed for his necromantic power, was supposed to have
invested with some enchantment that rendered it perfectly invaluable.
Lord Yester, in giving away his daughter, informed his son-in-law
that, good as the lass might be, her dowry was much better, because,
while she could only have value in her own generation, the pear, so
long as it was continued in his family, would be attended with
unfailing prosperity, and thus might cause the family to flourish to
the end of time. Accordingly, the pear was preserved as a sacred
palladium, both by the laird who first obtained it, and by all his
descendants; till one of their ladies, taking a longing for the
forbidden fruit while pregnant, inflicted upon it a deadly bite: in
consequence of which, it is said, several of the best farms on the
estate very speedily came to the market."

The pear, tradition goes on to tell us, became stone hard immediately
after the lady had bit it, and in this condition it remains till this
day, with the marks of Lady Broun's teeth indelibly imprinted on it.
Whether it be really thus fortified against all further attacks of the
kind or not, it is certain that it is now disposed in some secure part
of the house--or as we have been informed in a chest, the key of which
is kept secure by the Earl of Dalhousie--so as to be out of all danger
whatsoever. The "Coalstowne pear," it is added, without regard to the
superstition attached to it, must be considered a very great curiosity
in its way, "having, in all probability, existed five hundred years--a
greater age than, perhaps, has ever been reached by any other such
production of nature."

Another strange heirloom--an antique crystal goblet--is said to have
been for a long time in the possession of Colonel Wilks, the
proprietor of the estate of Ballafletcher, four or five miles from
Douglas, Isle of Man. It is described as larger than a common
bell-shaped tumbler, "uncommonly light and chaste in appearance, and
ornamented with floral scrolls, having between the designs on two
sides, upright columellæ of five pillars," and according to an old
tradition, it is reported to have been taken by Magnus, the Norwegian
King of Man, from St. Olave's shrine. Although it is by no means
clear on what ground this statement rests, there can be no doubt but
that the goblet is very old. After belonging for at least a hundred
years to the Fletcher family--the owners of Ballafletcher--it was sold
with the effects of the last of the family, in 1778, and was bought by
Robert Cæsar, Esq., who gave it to his niece for safe keeping. The
tradition goes that it had been given to the first of the Fletcher
family more than two centuries ago, with this special injunction, that
"as long as he preserved it, peace and plenty would follow; but woe to
him who broke it, as he would surely be haunted by the 'Ihiannan Shee'
or 'peaceful spirit' of Ballafletcher." It was kept in a recess,
whence it was never removed, except at Christmas and Eastertide, when
it was "filled with wine, and quaffed off at a breath by the head of
the house only, as a libation to the spirit for her protection."

Then there is the well-known English tradition relating to Eden Hall,
where an old painted drinking-glass is preserved, the property of Sir
George Musgrave of Edenhall, in Cumberland, in the possession of whose
family it has been for many generations. The tradition is that a
butler going to draw water from a well in the garden, called St.
Cuthbert's well, came upon a company of fairies at their revels, and
snatched it from them. They did all they could to recover their
ravished property, but failing, disappeared after pronouncing the
following prophecy:

    If this glass do break or fall
    Farewell the luck of Edenhall.

So long, therefore, runs the legendary tale, as this drinking glass is
preserved, the "luck of Edenhall" will continue to exist, but should
ever the day occur when any mishap befalls it, this heirloom will
instantly become an unlucky possession in the family. The most recent
account of this cup appeared in _The Scarborough Gazette_ in the year
1880, in which it was described as "a glass stoup, a drinking vessel,
about six inches in height, having a circular base, perfectly flat,
two inches in diameter, gradually expanding upwards till it ends in a
mouth four inches across. The general hue is a warm green, resembling
the tone known by artists as brown pink. Upon the transparent glass is
traced a geometric pattern in white and blue enamel, somewhat raised,
aided by gold and a little crimson." The earliest mention of this
curious relic seems to have been made by Francis Douce, who was at
Edenhall in the year 1785, and wrote some verses upon it, but there
does not seem to be any authentic family history attaching to it.

There is a room at Muncaster Castle which has long gone by the name of
Henry the Sixth's room, from the circumstance of his having been
concealed in it at the time he was flying from his enemies in the
year 1461, when Sir John Pennington, the then possessor of Muncaster,
gave him a secret reception. When the time for the king's departure
arrived, before he proceeded on his journey, he addressed Sir John
Pennington with many kind and courteous acknowledgments for his loyal
reception, regretting, at the same time, that he had nothing of more
value to present him with, as a testimony of his goodwill, than the
cup out of which he crossed himself. He then gave it into the hands of
Sir John, accompanying the present with these words: "The family shall
prosper so long as they preserve it unbroken." Hence it is called the
"Luck of Muncaster." "The benediction attached to its security," says
Roby, in his "Traditions of Lancashire," "being then uppermost in the
recollection of the family, it was considered essential to the
prosperity of the house at the time of the usurpation, that the Luck
of Muncaster should be deposited in a safe place; it was consequently
buried till the cessation of hostilities had rendered all further care
and concealment unnecessary." But, unfortunately, the person
commissioned to disinter the precious relic, let the box fall in which
it was locked up, which so alarmed the then existing members of the
family, that they could not muster courage enough to satisfy their
apprehensions. The box, therefore, according to the traditionary story
preserved in the family, remained unopened for more than forty years;
at the expiration of which period, a Pennington, more courageous than
his predecessors, unlocked the casket, and, much to the delight of
all, proclaimed the Luck of Muncaster to be uninjured. It was an
auspicious moment, for the doubts as to the cup's safety were now
dispelled, and the promise held good:

    It shall bless thy bed, it shall bless thy board,
      They shall prosper by this token,
    In Muncaster Castle good luck shall be,
      Till the charmed cup is broken.

Some things, again, have gained a strange notoriety through the force
of circumstances. A curious story is told, for instance, of a certain
iron chest in Ireland, the facts relating to which are these: In the
year 1654, Mr. John Bourne, chief trustee of the estate of John
Mallet, of Enmore, fell sick at his house at Durley, when his life was
pronounced by a physician to be in imminent danger. Within twenty-four
hours, while the doctor and Mrs. Carlisle--a relative of Mr.
Bourne--were sitting by his bedside, the doctor opened the curtains at
the bed-foot to give him air, when suddenly a great iron chest by the
window, with three locks--in which chest were all the writings and
title deeds of Mr. Mallet's estate--began to open lock by lock. The
lid of the iron chest then lifted itself up, and stood wide open. It
is added that Mr. Bourne, who had not spoken for twenty-four hours,
raised himself up in the bed, and looking at the chest, cried out,
"You say true, you say true; you are in the right; I will be with you
by and bye." He then lay down apparently in an exhausted condition,
and spoke no more. The chest lid fell again, and locked itself lock by
lock, and within an hour afterwards Mr. Bourne expired.

There is a story current of Lord Lovat that when he was born a number
of swords that hung up in the hall of the house leaped, of themselves,
out of the scabbard. This circumstance often formed the topic of
conversation, and, among his clan, was looked upon as an unfortunate
omen. By a curious coincidence, Lord Lovat was not only the last
person beheaded on Tower Hill, but was the last person beheaded in
this country--April 9, 1747--an event which Walpole has thus described
in one of his letters, telling us that he died extremely well, without
passion, affectation, buffoonery, or timidity. He professed himself a
Jansenist, made no speech, but sat down a little while in a chair on
the scaffold and talked to the people about him.

And Aubrey, relating a similar anecdote of a picture, tells us how Sir
Walter Long's widow did make a solemn promise to him on his death-bed
that she would not marry after his decease; but this she did not keep,
for "not long after, one Sir----Fox, a very beautiful young gentleman,
did win her love, so that, notwithstanding her promise aforesaid, she
married him. They were at South Wrathall, where the picture of Sir
Walter hung over the parlour door," and, on entering this room on
their return from church, the string of the picture broke, "and the
picture, which was painted on wood, fell on the lady's shoulder and
cracked in the fall. This made her ladyship reflect on her promise,
and drew some tears from her eyes."



CHAPTER XII.

ROMANCE OF DISGUISE.

    PISANIO to IMOGEN:
      You must forget to be a woman; change
      Command into obedience: fear and niceness--
      The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
      Woman its pretty self, into a waggish courage:
      Ready in gibes, quick answered, saucy, and
      As quarrelsome as the weasel; nay, you must
      Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek
      Exposing it--but, Oh! the harder heart!
      Alack! no remedy! to the greedy touch
      Of common-kissing Titan, and forget
      Your laboursome and dainty trims.
               "_Cymbeline_," ACT III., SC. 4.


That a woman, under any circumstances, should dismiss her proper
apparel, it has been remarked, "may well appear to us as something
like a phenomenon." Yet instances are far from uncommon, the motive
being originated in a variety of circumstances. A young lady, it may
be, falls in love, and, to gain her end, assumes male attire so that
she may escape detection, as in the case of a girl, who, giving her
affections to a sailor, and not being able to follow him in her
natural and recognised character, put on jacket and trousers, and
became, to all appearance, a brother of his mess. In other cases, a
pure masculinity of character "seems to lead women to take on the
guise of men. Apparently feeling themselves misplaced in, and
misrepresented by, the female dress, they take up with that of men
simply that they may be allowed to employ themselves in those manly
avocations for which their taste and nature are fitted." In
Caulfield's "Portraits of Remarkable Persons," we find a portrait of
Anne Mills, styled the female sailor, who is represented as standing
on what appears to be the end of a pier and holding in one hand a
human head, while the other bears a sword, the instrument doubtless
with which the decapitation was effected. In the year 1740, she was
serving on board the _Maidstone_, a frigate, and in an action between
that vessel and the enemy, she exhibited such desperate and daring
valour as to be particularly noticed by the whole crew. But her
motives for assuming the male habit do not seem to have
transpired.[43]

A far more exciting career was that of Mary Anne Talbot, the youngest
of sixteen illegitimate children, whom her mother bore to one of the
heads of the noble house of Talbot. She was born on February 2nd,
1778, and educated under the eye of a married sister, at whose death
she was committed to the care of a gentleman named Sucker, "who
treated her with great severity, and who appears to have taken
advantage of her friendless situation in order to transfer her, for
the vilest of purposes, to the hands of a Captain Bowen, whom he
directed her to look upon as her future guardian." Although barely
fourteen years old, Captain Bowen made her his mistress; and, on being
ordered to join his regiment at St. Domingo, he compelled the girl to
go with him in the disguise of a footboy and under the name of John
Taylor. But Captain Bowen had scarcely reached St. Domingo when he was
remanded with his regiment to Europe to join the Duke of York's
Flanders Expedition. And this time she was made to enrol herself as a
drummer in the corps.

She was in several skirmishes, being wounded once by a ball which
struck one of her ribs, and another time by a sabre stroke on the
side. At Valenciennes, however, Captain Bowen was killed; and, finding
among his effects several letters relating to herself, which proved
that she had been cruelly defrauded of money left to her, she resolved
to leave the regiment, and to return, if possible, to England.
Accordingly she set out attired as a sailor boy, and eventually hired
herself to the Commander of a French lugger, which turned out to be a
privateer. But when the vessel fell in with some of Lord Howe's
vessels in the Channel, she refused to fight against her countrymen,
"notwithstanding all the blows and menaces the French captain could
use." The privateer was taken, and our heroine was carried before Lord
Howe, to whom she told candidly all that had happened to her--keeping
her sex a secret.

Mary Anne Talbot, or John Taylor, was next placed on board the
_Brunswick_, where she witnessed Lord Howe's great victory of the 1st
June, and was actively engaged in it. But she was seriously wounded,
"her left leg being struck a little above the knee by a musket-ball,
and broken, and severely smashed lower down by a grape shot." On
reaching England she was conveyed to Haslar Hospital, where she
remained four months, no suspicion having ever been entertained of her
being a woman. But she was no sooner out of the hospital than,
retaining her disguise, she entered a small man-of-war--the
_Vesuvius_, which was captured by two French ships, when she was sent
to the prisons of Dunkirk. Here she was incarcerated for eighteen
months, but, having been discovered planning an escape with a young
midshipman, she was confined in a pitch-dark dungeon for eleven weeks,
on a diet of bread and water. An exchange of prisoners set her at
liberty, and, hearing accidentally an American merchant captain
inquiring in the streets of Dunkirk for a lad to go to New York as
ship's steward she offered her services, and was accepted.
Accordingly, in August, 1796, she sailed with Captain Field, and, on
arriving at Rhode Island, she resided with the Captain's family.

But here another kind of adventure was to befall her--for a niece of
Captain Field's fell deeply in love with her, even going so far as to
propose marriage. On leaving Rhode Island, the young lady had such
alarming fits that, after sailing two miles, Mary Anne Talbot was
called back by a boat, and compelled to promise a speedy return to the
enamoured young lady. On reaching England, she was one day on shore
with some of her comrades when she was seized by a press-gang, and
finding there was no other way of getting off than by revealing her
sex, she did so, her story creating a great sensation. From this time
she never went to sea again, and soon afterwards lived in service with
a bookseller, Mr. Kirby, who wrote her memoir.[44]

And the late Colonel Fred Burnaby has recorded the history of a
singular case, the facts of which came under his notice when he was
with Don Carlos during the Carlist rising of the year 1874: "A
discovery was made a few days ago that a woman was serving in the
Royalists' ranks, dressed in a soldier's uniform. She was found out in
the following manner. The priest of the village to where she belonged
happening to pass through a town where the regiment was quartered, and
chancing to see her, was struck by the likeness she bore to one of his
parishioners.

"You must be Andalicia Bravo," he remarked.

"No, I am her brother," was the reply.

The Cure's suspicions were aroused, and at his suggestion, an inquiry
was made, when it was discovered that the youthful soldier had no
right to the masculine vestments she wore. Don Carlos, who was told of
the affair, desired that she should be sent as a nurse to the hospital
of Durango, and, when he visited the establishment, presented the fair
Amazon with a military cross of merit. The poor girl was delighted
with the decoration, and besought the "King" to allow her to return to
the regiment, as she said she was more accustomed to inflicting wounds
than to healing them. In fact, she so implored to be permitted to
serve once more as a soldier, that at last, Don Carlos, to extricate
himself from the difficulty, said, "No, I cannot allow you to join a
regiment of men; but when I form a battalion of women, I promise, upon
my honour, that you shall be named the Colonel."

"It will never happen," said the girl, and she burst into tears as the
King left the hospital.

At Haddon Hall may still be seen "Dorothy Vernon's Door," whence the
heiress of Haddon stole out one moonlight night to join her lover. The
story generally told is that, while her elder sister, the affianced
bride of Sir Thomas Stanley, second son of the Earl of Derby, was made
much of in her recognised attachment, Dorothy, on the other hand, was
not only kept in the background, but every obstacle was thrown in her
way against a connection she had formed with John Manners, son of the
Earl of Rutland. But "something of the wild bird," it is said, "was
noticed in Dorothy, and she was closely watched, kept almost a
prisoner, and could only beat her wings against the bars that confined
her." This kind of surveillance went on for some time, but did not
check the young lady's infatuation for her lover, and it was not long
before the young couple contrived to see one another. Disguised as a
woodman, John Manners lurked of a day in the woods round Haddon for
several weeks, obtaining now and then a stolen glance, a hurried word,
or a pressure of the hand from the fair Dorothy.

At length, however, an opportunity arrived which enabled Dorothy to
carry out the plan which had been suggested to her by John Manners. It
so happened that a grand ball was given at Haddon Hall, to celebrate
the approaching marriage of the elder daughter, and, whilst a throng
of guests filled the ball-room, where the stringed minstrels played
old dances in the Minstrels' Gallery, and the horns blew low, everyone
being too busy with his own interests and pleasures to attend to those
of another, the young Miss Dorothy stole away unobserved from the
ball-room, "passed out of the door, which is now one of the most
interesting parts of this historic pile of buildings, and crossed
the terrace to where, at the "ladies' steps," she could dimly discern
figures hiding in the shadow of the trees. Another moment, and she was
in her lover's arms. Horses were waiting, and Dorothy was soon riding
away with her lover through the moonlight, and was married on the
following morning. This story, which has been gracefully told by Eliza
Meteyard under the title of "The Love Steps of Dorothy Vernon," has
always been regarded as one of the most romantic and pleasant episodes
in the history of Haddon Hall. Through Dorothy's marriage, the estate
of Haddon passed from the family of Vernon to that of Manners, and a
branch of the house of Rutland was transferred to the county of
Derby."

[Illustration: DOROTHY VERNON AND THE WOODMAN.]

But love has always been an inducement, in one form or another for
disguise, and a romantic story is told of Sir John Bolle, of Thorpe
Hall, in Lincolnshire, who distinguished himself at Cadiz, in the year
1596. Among the prisoners taken at this memorable seige, was "a fair
captive of great beauty, high rank, and immense wealth," and who was
the peculiar charge of Sir John Bolle. She soon became deeply
enamoured of her gallant captor, and "in his courteous company was all
her joy," her infatuation being so great that she entreated him to
allow her to accompany him to England disguised as his page. But Sir
John had a wife at home, and replied--to quote the version of the
story given in Dr. Percy's "Relics of Ancient English Poetry":--

      "Courteous lady, leave this fancy,
         Here comes all that breeds the strife;
       I in England have already
         A sweet woman to my wife.
    I will not falsify my vow for gold or gain,
    Nor yet for all the fairest dames that live in Spain."

Thereupon the fair lady determined to retire to a convent, admiring
the gallant soldier all the more for his faithful devotion to his
wife.

      "O happy is that woman
         That enjoys so true a friend!
       Many happy days God send her!
         Of my suit I make an end,
    On my knees I pardon crave for my offence,
    Which did from love and true affection first commence.

      "I will spend my days in prayer,
         Love and all her laws defy;
       In a nunnery will I shroud me,
         Far from any company.
    But ere my prayers have an end be sure of this,
    To pray for thee and for thy love I will not miss."

But, before forsaking the world, she transmitted to her unconscious
rival in England her jewels and valuable knicknacks, including her own
portrait drawn in green--a circumstance which obtained for the
original the designation of the "Green Lady," and Thorpe Hall has long
been said to be haunted by the lady in green, who has been in the
habit of appearing beneath a particular tree close to the mansion.

A story, which has been gracefully told in one of Moore's Irish
Melodies, relates to Henry Cecil, Earl of Exeter, who early in life
fell in love with the rich heiress of the Vernons of Hanbury. A
marriage was eventually arranged, but this union proved a complete
failure, and terminated in a divorce. Thereupon young Cecil,
distrustful of the conventionalities of society, and to prevent any
one of the fair sex marrying him on account of his position, resolved
"on laying aside the artificial attractions of his rank, and seeking
some country maiden who would wed him from disinterested motives of
affection."

Accordingly he took up his abode at a small inn in a retired
Shropshire village, but even here his movements created suspicion,
"some maintaining that he was connected with smugglers or gamesters,
while all agreed that dishonesty or fraud was the cause of the mystery
of the 'London gentleman's' proceedings." Annoyed at the rude
molestations to which he was daily, more or less, exposed, he quitted
the inn and removed to a farm-house in the neighbourhood, where he
remained for two years, in the course of which time he purchased some
land, and commenced building himself a house:

But the landlord of the cottage where he lived had a beautiful
daughter of about seventeen years, to whom young Cecil became so
deeply attached that, in spite of her humble birth, and simple
education, he resolved to make her his wife, taking an early
opportunity of informing her parents of his resolve. The matter came
as a surprise to the farmer and his wife, and all the more so because
they had always regarded Mr. Cecil as far too grand a person to
entertain such an idea.

"Marry our daughter?" exclaimed the good wife, in amazement. "What, to
a fine gentleman! No, indeed!"

"Yes, marry her," added the husband, "he shall marry her, for she
likes him. Has he not house and land, too, and plenty of money to keep
her?"

So the rustic beauty was married, and it was not long afterwards that
her husband found it necessary to repair to town on account of the
Earl of Exeter's death. Setting out, as the young bride thought, on a
pleasure trip, they stopped in the course of their journey at several
noblemen's seats, where, to her astonishment, Cecil was welcomed in
the most friendly manner. At last they reached Burleigh, in
Northamptonshire--the home of the Cecils. And on driving up to the
house, Cecil unconcernedly asked his wife, "whether she would like to
be at home there?"

"Oh, yes," she excitedly exclaimed; "it is, indeed, a lovely spot,
exceeding all I have seen, and making me almost envy its possessor."

"Then," said the young earl, "it is yours."

The whole affair seemed like a fairy tale to the bewildered girl, and
who, but herself, could describe the feelings she experienced at the
acclamations of joy and welcome which awaited her in her magnificent
home. But it was no dream, and as soon as the young earl had arranged
his affairs, he returned to Shropshire, threw off his disguise, and
revealed his rank to his wife's parents, assigning to them the house
he had built, with a settlement of £700 per annum.

"But," writes Sir Bernard Burke, "if report speak truly, the narrative
must have a melancholy end. Her ladyship, unaccustomed to the exalted
sphere in which she moved, chilled by its formalities, and depressed
in her own esteem, survived only a few years her extraordinary
elevation, and sank into an early grave," although Moore has given a
brighter picture of this sad close to a pretty romance.

    You remember Ellen, our hamlet's pride,
      How meekly she blessed her humble lot,
    When the stranger, William, had made her his bride,
      And love was the light of their lowly cot.
    Together they toiled through wind and rain
      Till William at length in sadness said,
    "We must seek our fortunes on other plains";
      Then sighing she left her lowly shed.

    They roam'd a long and weary way,
      Nor much was the maiden's heart at ease,
    When now, at close of one stormy day
      They see a proud castle among the trees.
    "To night," said the youth, "we'll shelter there;
      The wind blows cold, the hour is late";
    So he blew the horn with a chieftain's air,
      And the porter bow'd as they pass'd the gate.

    "Now welcome, Lady!" exclaimed the youth;
      "This castle is thine, and these dark woods all."
    She believed him wild, but his words were truth,
      For Ellen is Lady of Rosna Hall!
    And dearly the Lord of Rosna loves
      What William the stranger woo'd and wed;
    And the light of bliss in those lordly groves
      Is pure as it shone in the lowly shed.

But one of the most extraordinary instances of disguise was that of
the Chevalier d'Eon, who was born in the year 1728, and was an
excellent scholar, soldier, and political intriguer. In the service of
Louis XV., he went to Russia in female attire, obtained employment as
the female reader to the Czarina Elizabeth, under which disguise he
carried on political and semi-political negotiations with wonderful
success. In the year 1762, he appeared in England as Secretary of the
Embassy to the Duke of Nivernois, and when Louis XVI. granted him a
pension and he went over to Versailles to return thanks for the
favour, Marie Antoinette is said to have insisted on his assuming
women's attire. Accordingly, to gratify this foolish whim, D'Eon is
reported to have one day swept into the royal presence attired like a
duchess, which character he supported to the great delight of the
royal spectators.

In the year 1794, he returned to this country, and, being here after
the Revolution was accomplished, his name was placed in the fatal list
of _emigrés_, and he was deprived of his pension. The English
Government, however, gave him an allowance of £200 a year; and in his
old days he turned his fencing capabilities to account, for he
occasionally appeared in matches with the Chevalier de St. George, and
permanently reassumed female attire.

This eccentric character was the subject of much speculation in his
lifetime, and, curious to say, in the year 1771, it was proved to the
satisfaction of a jury, on a trial before Lord Chief Justice
Mansfield, that the Chevalier was of the female sex. The case in
question arose from a wager between Hayes, a surgeon, and Jacques, an
underwriter, the latter having bound himself, on receiving a premium,
to pay the former a certain sum whenever the fact was established that
D'Eon was a woman. One of the witnesses was Morande, an infamous
Frenchman, who gave such testimony that no human being could doubt the
fact of D'Eon being of the female sex, and two French medical men gave
equally conclusive evidence. The result of this absurd trial was that
the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, with £702 damages.[45]
But all doubt was cleared away when D'Eon died, in the year 1810, for,
an examination of the body being made, it was publicly declared that
the Chevalier was an old man. Walpole collected some facts about this
remarkable man, and writes: "The Due de Choiseul believed it was a
woman. After the death of Louis XV., D'Eon had leave to go to France,
on which the young Comte de Guerchy went to M. de Vergennes,
Secretary of State, and gave him notice that the moment D'Eon landed
at Calais he, Guerchy, would cut his throat, or D'Eon should his; on
which Vergennes told the Count that D'Eon was certainly a woman. Louis
XV. corresponded with D'Eon, and when the Duc de Choiseul had sent a
vessel, which lay six months in the Thames, to trepan and bring off
D'Eon, the king wrote a letter with his own hand to give him warning
of the vessel."

Like the Chevalier D'Eon, a certain individual named Russell, a native
of Streatham, adopted the guise and habits of the opposite sex, and so
skilfully did he keep up the deception that it was not known till
after his death. It appears from Streatham Register that he was buried
on April 14, 1772, the subjoined memorandum being affixed to the
entry: "This person was always known under the guise or habit of a
woman, and answered to the name of Elizabeth, as registered in this
parish, November 21, 1669, but on death proved to be a man. It also
appears from the registers of Streatham Parish, that his father, John
Russell, had three daughters, and two sons--William, born in 1668, and
Thomas in 1672; and there is very little doubt that the above person,
who was also commonly known as Betsy the Doctress, was one of these
sons."

It is said that when he assumed the garb of the softer sex he also
took the name of his sister Elizabeth, who, very likely, either died
in infancy, or settled at a distance; but, under this name, he
applied, about two years before his death, for a certificate of his
baptism. Early in life, he associated with the gypsies, and became the
companion of the famous Bampfylde Moore Carew. Later on in life he
resided at Chipstead, in Kent, and there catered for the miscellaneous
wants of the villagers. He also visited most parts of the continent as
a stroller and a vagabond, and sometimes in the company of a man who
passed for his husband, he moved about from one place to another,
changing his "maiden" name to that of his companion, at whose death he
passed as his widow, being generally known by the familiar name of Bet
Page.

According to Lysons, in the course of his wanderings he attached
himself to itinerant quacks, learned their remedies, practised their
calling, his knowledge, coupled with his great experience, gaining for
him the reputation of being "a most infallible doctress." He also went
in for astrology, and made a considerable sum of money, but was so
extravagant that when he died his worldly goods were not valued at
half-a-sovereign. About a year before his death he returned to his
native parish, his great age bringing him into much notoriety; but his
death was very sudden, and great was the surprise on all sides when it
became known that he was a man. In life this strange character was a
general favourite, and Mr. Thrale was wont to have him in his kitchen
at Streatham Park, while Dr. Johnson, who considered him a shrewd
person, held long conversations with him. To prevent the discovery of
his sex he used to wear a cloth tied under his chin, and a large pair
of nippers, found in his pocket after death, are supposed to have been
the instruments with which he was in the habit of removing the
tell-tale hairs from his face.[46]

In some instances, as in times of political intrigue and commotion,
disguise has been resorted to as a means of escape and concealment of
personal identity, one of the most romantic and remarkable cases on
record being that of Lord Clifford, popularly known as the "shepherd
lad." It appears that Lady Clifford, apprehensive lest the life of her
son, seven years of age, might be sacrificed in vengeance for the
blood of the youthful Earl of Rutland, whom Lord Clifford had murdered
in cold blood at the termination of the battle of Sandal, placed him
in the keeping of a shepherd who had married one of her inferior
servants--an attendant on the boy's nurse. His name and parentage laid
aside, the young boy was brought up among the moors and hills as one
of the shepherd's own children. On reaching the age of fourteen, a
rumour somehow spread to the Court that the son of "the black-faced
Clifford," as his father had been called, was living in concealment in
Yorkshire. His mother, naturally alarmed, had the boy immediately
removed to the vicinity of the village of Threlkeld, amidst the
Cumberland hills, where she had sometimes the opportunity of seeing
him.

But, strange to say it is doubtful whether Lady Clifford made known
her relationship to him, or whether, indeed, the "shepherd lord" had
any distinct idea of his lofty lineage. It is generally supposed,
however, that there was a complete separation between mother and
child--a tradition which was accepted by Wordsworth, with whom the
story of the shepherd boy was an especial favourite. In his "Song at
the Feast of Brougham Castle," the poet thus prettily describes the
shepherd boy's curious career:--

    "Now who is he that bounds with joy
    On Carroch's side, a shepherd boy?
    No thoughts hath he but thoughts that pass,
    Light as the wind along the grass.
    Can this be he who hither came
    In secret, like a smothered flame?
    O'er whom such thankful tears were shed
    For shelter, and a poor man's bread!
    God loves the child; and God hath willed
    That those dear words should be fulfilled,
    The lady's words, when forced away,
    The last she to her babe did say,
    'My own, my own, thy fellow guest
    I may not be; but rest thee, rest,
    For lowly shepherd's life is best.'"

Many items of traditionary lore still linger about the Cumberland
hills respecting the young lord who grew up "as hardy as the heath on
which he vegetated, and as ignorant as the rude herds which bounded
over it." But the following description of young Clifford in his
disguise, and of his employment, as given by Wordsworth, probably
gives the most reliable traditionary account respecting him that
prevailed in the district where he spent his lonely youth:--

    "His garb is humble, ne'er was seen
    Such garb with such a noble mien;
    Among the shepherd grooms no mate
    Hath he, a child of strength and state!
    Yet lacks not friends for solemn glee,
    And a cheerful company,
    That learned of him submissive ways;
    And comforted his private days.
    To his side the fallow deer
    Came, and rested without fear;
    The eagle, lord of land and sea,
    Stooped down to pay him fealty;
    And both the undying fish that swim,
    Through Bowscale-Tarn did wait on him,
    The pair were servants to his eye
    In their immortality;
    They moved about in open sight,
    To and fro, for his delight.
    He knew the rocks which angels haunt
    On the mountains visitant,
    He hath kenned them taking wing;
    And the caves where fairies sing
    He hath entered; and been told
    By voices how men lived of old."

But one of the first acts of Henry VII., on his accession to the
throne was to restore young Clifford to his birthright, and to all the
possessions that his distinguished sire had won. There are few
authentic facts, however, recorded concerning him; for it seems that
as soon as he had emerged from the hiding-place where he had been
brought up in ignorance of his rank, finding himself more illiterate
than was usual, even in an illiterate age, he retired to a tower,
which he built in a beautiful and sequestered forest, where, under the
direction of the monks of Bolton Abbey, he gave himself up to the
forbidden studies of alchemy and astrology. His descendant Anne
Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, describes him as "a plain man, who
lived for the most part a country life, and came seldom either to
Court or London, excepting when called to Parliament, on which
occasion he behaved himself like a wise and good English nobleman." He
was twice married, and was succeeded by his son, called Wild Henry
Clifford, from the irregularities of his youth.

And we may cite the case of Matthew Hale, who, on one occasion was
instrumental to justice being done through himself appearing in
disguise, and supporting the wronged party. It is related that the
younger of two brothers had endeavoured to deprive the elder of an
estate of £500 a year by suborning witnesses to declare that he died
in a foreign land. But appearing in Court in the guise of a miller,
Sir Matthew Hale was chosen the twelfth juryman to sit on this cause.
As soon as the clerk of the juryman had sworn in the juryman, a short
dexterous fellow came into their apartment, and slipped ten gold
pieces into the hands of eleven of the jury, giving the miller only
five, while the judge was generally supposed to be bribed with a large
sum.

At the conclusion of the case, the judge summed up the evidence in
favour of the younger brother, and the jury were about to give their
verdict, when the supposed miller stood up, and addressed the court.
To the surprise of all present, he spoke with energetic and manly
eloquence, "unravelled the sophistry to the very bottom, proved the
fact of bribery, shewed the elder brother's title to the estate from
the contradictory evidence of the witnesses," and in short, he gained
a complete victory in favour of truth and justice.


FOOTNOTES:

[43] See "Annual Register," 1813, 1835, and 1842, for similar cases.

[44] See Notes and Queries, 6th Series, X., _passim_, for "Women on
board ships in action"; and "Chambers's Pocket Miscellany," "Disguised
Females, 1853."

[45] See "Dictionary of National Biography," xiv., 485.

[46] Arnold's "History of Streatham," 1866, 164-166. An extraordinary
case of concealment of sex is recorded in the "Annual Register," under
Jan. 23, 1833. An inquiry was instituted by order of the Home Secretary
relative to the death of "a person who had been known for years by the
name of Eliza Edwards," but who turned out to be a man.



CHAPTER XIII.

EXTRAORDINARY DISAPPEARANCES.

                            "O Annie,
    It is beyond all hope, against all chance,
    That he who left you ten long years ago
    Should still be living; well, then--let me speak;
    I grieve to see you poor and wanting help:
    I cannot help you as I wish to do
    Unless--they say that women are so quick--
    Perhaps you know what I would have you know--
    wish you for my wife."
               ENOCH ARDEN.


A glance at the agony columns of our daily newspapers, or the notice
boards of police stations, it has been remarked, shows how many
individuals disappear from home, from their business haunts, and from
the circle of their acquaintances, and leave not the slightest trace
of their whereabouts. In only too many instances, no satisfactory
explanation has ever been forthcoming to account for a disappearance
of this nature, and in the vast majority of cases no evidence has been
discovered to prove the death of such persons. It is well known that
"in France, before the Revolution, the vanishing of men almost before
the eyes of their friends was so common that it scarcely excited any
surprise at all. The only inquiry was, had he a beautiful wife or
daughter, for in that case the explanation was easy; some one who had
influence with the Government had designs upon the lady, and made
interest to have her natural guardian put out of the way while those
designs were being fulfilled." But, accountable as the disappearance
of an individual was at such an unquiet time in French history, such a
solution of the difficulty cannot be made to apply to our own country.
Like other social problems, which no amount of intellectual ingenuity
has been able to unravel, the reason why, at intervals, persons are
missed and never found must always be regarded as an open question.

Thus a marriage is recorded which took place in Lincolnshire, about
the year 1750. In this instance, the wedding party adjourned after the
marriage ceremony to the bridegroom's residence, and dispersed, some
to ramble in the garden and others to rest in the house till the
dinner hour. But the bridegroom was suddenly summoned away by a
domestic, who said that a stranger wished to speak to him, and
henceforward he was never seen again. All kinds of inquiries were made
but to no purpose, and terrible as the dismay was of the poor bride at
this inexplicable disappearance of the bridegroom, no trace could be
found of him. A similar tradition hangs about an old deserted Welsh
Hall, standing in a wood near Festiniog. In a similar manner, the
bridegroom was asked to give audience to a stranger on his wedding
day, and disappeared from the face of the earth from that moment. The
bride, however, seems to have survived the shock, exceeding her three
score years and ten, although, it is said, during all those years,
while there was light of sun or moon to lighten the earth, she sat
watching--watching at one particular window which commanded a view of
the approach to the house. In short, her whole faculties, her whole
mental powers, became completely absorbed in that weary process of
watching, and long before she died she was childish, and only
conscious of one wish--to sit in that long high window, and watch the
road, along which he might come. Family romance records, from time to
time, many such stories, and it was not so very long ago that a bridal
party were thrown into much consternation by the non-arrival of the
bridegroom. Everything was in readiness, the clergy and the choir,
already vested, stood in the robing room, crimson carpets were laid
down from the door to the carriages; some of the guests were at the
church and others at the bride's house, when an alarm was raised by
the best man that the bridegroom could nowhere be found. The
bride-expectant burst into a flood of tears at this cruel
disappointment, especially when the ominous news reached the church
that the bridegroom's wedding suit had been found in the room, laid
out ready to wear, but that there was not the slightest clue as to his
whereabouts. It only remained for the bridal party to return home, and
for the dejected and disconsolate bride to lay aside her veil and
orange-blossoms.

Sometimes, on the other hand, it is the bride who disappears at this
crisis. Not many years back, an ex-lieutenant in the Royal Navy
applied to a London magistrate, as he wanted to find his newly married
wife. The applicant affirmed that the lady he had wedded was an
actress, and that they were married at the registry office at Croydon.
The magistrate asked if there had been any wedding breakfast. The
applicant said "No"; they had partaken of a little luncheon and that
was all. Mysterious and inexplicable as was this disappearance of a
wife so shortly after marriage, it was suggested by the magistrate
whether there were any rivals, but the applicant promptly replied,
"No, certainly not, and that made the matter all the more
incomprehensible." Of course, the magistrate could not recover the
missing bride; but, remarking that the application was a very singular
one, he recommended the applicant to consult the police on the matter,
who replied that "he would do so, as he was really afraid that some
mischief had happened to her," utterly disregarding the proposition of
the magistrate as to whether the lady could not possibly have changed
her mind, remarking that such a thing had occasionally happened.

In the life of Dr. Raffles, an amusing story is quoted, which is
somewhat to the point: "On our way from Wem to Hawkstone, we passed a
house, of which the following occurrence was told: 'A young lady, the
daughter of the owner of the house, was addressed by a man who, though
agreeable to her, was disliked by her father. Of course, he would not
consent to their union, and she determined to disappear and elope. The
night was fixed, the hour came, he placed the ladder to the window,
and in a few minutes she was in his arms. They mounted a double horse,
and were soon at some distance from the house. After awhile the lady
broke silence by saying, 'Well, you see what a proof I have given you
of my affection; I hope you will make me a good husband!'

"He was a surly fellow, and gruffly answered, 'Perhaps I may, and
perhaps not.'

"She made him no reply, but, after a few minutes' silence, she
suddenly exclaimed, 'O, what shall we do? I have left my money behind
me in my room!'

"'Then,' said he, 'we must go and fetch it.' They were soon again at
the house, the ladder was again placed, the lady remounted, while the
ill-natured lover waited below. But she delayed to come, and so he
gently called, 'Are you coming?' when she looked out of the window
and said, 'Perhaps I may, and perhaps not,' then shut down the window,
and left him to return upon the double horse alone."

But, if traditionary lore is to be believed, the sudden disappearance
of the bride on her wedding day has had, in more than one instance, a
very romantic and tragic origin. There is the well-known story which
tells how Lord Lovel married a young lady, a baron's daughter, who, on
the wedding night, proposed that the guests should play at
"hide-and-seek." Accordingly, the bride hid herself in an old oak
chest, but the lid falling down, shut her in, for it went with a
spring lock. Lord Lovel and the rest of the company sought her that
night and many days in succession, but nowhere could she be found. Her
strange disappearance for many years remained an unsolved mystery, but
some time afterwards the fatal chest was sold, which, on being opened,
was found to contain the skeleton of the long-lost bride. This popular
story was made the subject of a song, entitled "The Mistletoe Bough,"
by Thomas Haynes Bayley, who died in 1839; and Marwell Old Hall, near
Winchester, once the residence of the Seymours, and afterwards of the
Dacre family, has a similar tradition attached to it. Indeed, the very
chest has been preserved in the hall of Upham Rectory, having been
removed from Marwell some forty years ago. The great house at
Malsanger, near Basingstoke, has a story of a like nature connected
with it, reminding us of that of Tony Forster in Kenilworth, and of
Rogers's Ginevra:

    "There then had she found a grave!
    Within that chest had she concealed herself,
    Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy,
    When a spring lock that lay in ambush there,
    Fastened her down for ever."

This story is found in many places, and the chest in which the poor
bride was found is shown at Bramshill, in Hampshire, the residence of
Sir John Cope. But only too frequently the young lady disappears from
some preconcerted arrangement; a striking instance being that of
Agnes, daughter of James Ferguson, the mechanist. While walking down
the Strand with her father, she slipt her hand out of his whilst he
was absorbed in thought, and he never saw her from that day, nor was
anything known of the girl's fate till many years after Ferguson's
death. At the time, the story of her extraordinary disappearance was
matter of public comment, and all kinds of extravagant theories were
started to account for it. The young lady, however, was gone, and
despite the most patient search, and the most persistent inquiries, no
tidings could be gained as to her whereabouts. In course of years the
mystery was cleared up, and revealed a pitiable case of sin and shame.
It appears that a nobleman to whom she had become known at her
father's lectures took her, in the first instance, to Italy, and
afterwards deserted her. In her distress, being ashamed to return
home, she resolved to try the stage as a means of livelihood, and
applied to Garrick, who gave her a trial on the boards, but the
attempt proved a failure. She then turned her hand to authorship, but
with no better success. Although reduced to the most abject poverty,
she would not make herself known to her relatives, and in complete
despair, and overwhelmed with a sense of her disgrace, in her last
extremity she threw herself on the streets, and died in miserable
beggary and wretchedness in Round Court, off the Strand. It was on her
death-bed that she disclosed to the surgeon who attended her the
melancholy and tragic story of her wasted life. But from the
localities in which she had habitually moved, she must have many a
time passed her relatives in the streets, though withheld by shame
from making herself known, when they imagined her to be in some
distant country, or in the grave.

The strange disappearance of Lady Cathcart, on the other hand, whose
fourth husband was Hugh Maguire, an officer in the Hungarian service,
is an extraordinary instance of a wife being, for a long term of
years, imprisoned by her own husband without any chance of escape. It
seems that, soon after her last marriage, she discovered that her
husband had only made her his wife with the object of possessing
himself of her property, and, alarmed at the idea of losing
everything, she plaited some of her jewels in her hair and others in
her petticoat. But she little anticipated what was in store for her,
although she had already become suspicious of her husband's intentions
towards her. His plans, however, were soon executed; for one morning,
under the pretence of taking her for a drive, he carried her away
altogether: and when she suggested, after they had been driving some
time, that they would be late for dinner, he coolly replied, "We do
not dine to-day at Tewing, but at Chester, whither we are journeying."

Some alarm was naturally caused, writes Sir Bernard Burke, "by her
sudden disappearance, and an attorney was sent in pursuit with a writ
of _habeas corpus_ or _ne exeat regno_, who found the travellers at
Chester, on their way to Ireland, and demanded a sight of Lady
Cathcart. Colonel Maguire at once consented, but, knowing that the
attorney had never seen his wife, he persuaded a woman to personate
her.

The attorney, in due time, was introduced to the supposed Lady
Cathcart, and was asked if she accompanied Colonel Maguire to Ireland
of her own free will. "Perfectly so," said the woman. Whereupon the
attorney set out again for London, and the Colonel resumed his journey
with Lady Cathcart to Ireland, where, on his arrival at his own house
at Tempo, in Fermanagh, his wife was imprisoned for many years."
During this period the Colonel was visited by the neighbouring gentry,
"and it was his regular custom at dinner to send his compliments to
Lady Cathcart, informing her that the company had the honour to drink
her ladyship's health, and begging to know whether there was anything
at table that she would like to eat? But the answer was always the
same, "Lady Cathcart's compliments, and she has everything she wants."
Fortunately for Lady Cathcart, Colonel Maguire died in the year 1764,
when her ladyship was released, after having been locked up for twenty
years, possessing, at the time of her deliverance, scarcely clothes to
her back. She lost no time in hastening back to England, and found her
house at Tewing in possession of a Mr. Joseph Steele, against whom she
brought an act of ejectment, and, attending the assize in person,
gained her case. Although she had been so cruelly treated by Colonel
Maguire, his conduct does not seem to have injured her health, for she
did not die till the year 1789, when she was in her ninety-eighth
year. And, when eighty years of age, it is recorded that she took part
in the gaieties of the Welwyn Assembly, and danced with the spirit of
a girl. It may be added that although she survived Colonel Maguire
twenty years, she was not tempted, after his treatment, to carry out
the resolution which she had inscribed as a poesy on her wedding ring.

    If I survive
    I will have five.[47]

Another disappearance and supposed imprisonment which created
considerable sensation in the last century was that of Elizabeth
Canning. On New Year's Day, 1753, she visited an uncle and aunt who
lived at Saltpetre Bank, near Well Close Square, who saw her part of the
way home as far as Houndsditch. But as no tidings were afterwards heard
of her, she was advertised for, rumours having gone abroad, that she had
been heard to shriek out of a hackney coach in Bishopsgate-street.
Prayers, too, were offered up for her in churches and meeting-houses,
but all inquiries were in vain, and it was not until the 29th of the
month that the missing girl returned in a wretched condition, ill,
half-starved, and half-clad. Her story was that after leaving her uncle
and aunt on the 1st of January, she had been attacked by two men in
great coats, who robbed, partially stripped her, and dragged her away to
a house in the Hertfordshire road, where an old woman cut off her stays,
and shut her up in a room in which she had been imprisoned ever since,
subsisting on bread and water, and a mince pie that her assailants had
overlooked in her pocket, and ultimately, she said, she had escaped
through the window, tearing her ear in doing so.

Her story created much sympathy for her, and steps were immediately
taken to punish those who had abducted her in this outrageous manner.
The girl, who was in a very weak condition, was taken to the house
she had specified, one "Mother" Wells, who kept an establishment of
doubtful reputation at Enfield Wash, and on being asked to identify
the woman who had cut off her stays, and locked her up in the room
referred to, pointed out one Mary Squires, an old gipsy of surpassing
ugliness. Accordingly, Squires and Wells were committed for trial for
assault and felony; the result of the trial being that Squires was
condemned to death, and Wells to be burned in the hand, a sentence
which was executed forthwith, much to the delight of the excited crowd
in the Old Bailey Sessions-house.

But the Lord Mayor, Sir Crisp Gascoyne, who had presided at the trial
_ex-officio_, was not satisfied with the verdict, and caused further
and searching inquiries to be made. The verdict, on the weight of
fresh evidence obtained, was upset, and Squires was granted a free
pardon. On 29th April, 1754, Elizabeth Canning was summoned again to
the Old Bailey, but this time to take her trial for wilful and corrupt
perjury. The trial lasted eight days, and, being found guilty, she was
transported in August, "at the request of her friends, to New
England." According to the "Annual Register," she returned to this
country at the expiration of her sentence to receive a legacy of £500,
left to her three years before by an old lady of Newington Green;
whereas, later accounts affirm that she never came back, but died 22nd
July, 1773, at Weathersfield, in Connecticut, it being further stated
that she married abroad a Quaker of the name of Treat, "and for some
time followed the occupation of a schoolmistress."

The mystery of her life--her disappearance from Jan. 1st to the 29th
of that month, and what transpired in that interval--is a secret that
has never been to this day divulged. Indeed, as it has been observed,
"notwithstanding the many strange circumstances of her story, none is
so strange as that it should not be discovered in so many years where
she had concealed herself during the time she had invariably declared
she was at the house of Mother Wells."[48]

Another curious disappearance is recorded by Sir John Coleridge,
forming a strange story of romance. It seems there lived in Cornwall,
a highly respectable family, named Robinson, consisting of two
sons--William and Nicholas--and two daughters. The property was
settled on the two sons and their male issue, and in case of death on
the two daughters. Nicholas was placed with an eminent attorney of St.
Austen as his clerk, with a prospect of being one day admitted into
partnership. But his legal studies were somewhat interrupted by his
falling in love with a milliner's apprentice; the result being that he
was sent to London to qualify himself as an attorney. But he had no
sooner been admitted an attorney of the Queen's Bench and Common
Pleas than he disappeared, and thenceforward he was never seen by any
member of his family or former friends, all search for him proving
fruitless.

In course of time the father died, and William, the elder son,
succeeded to the property, dying unmarried in May, 1802. As nothing
was heard of Nicholas, the two sisters became entitled to the
property, of which they held possession for twenty years, no claim
being made to disturb their possession of it.

But in the year 1783, a young man, whose looks and manners were above
his means and situation, had made his appearance as a stranger at
Liverpool, going by the name of Nathaniel Richardson--the same
initials as Nicholas Robinson. He bought a cab and horse, and plied
for hire in the streets of Liverpool--and being "a civil, sober, and
prudent man," he soon became prosperous, and drove a coach between
London and Liverpool. He married, had children, and gradually acquired
considerable wealth. Having gone to Wales, however, in the year 1802,
to purchase some horses, he was accidentally drowned in the Mersey.
Many years after his death, it was rumoured in 1821 that this
Nathaniel Richardson was no other than Nicholas Robinson, and his
eldest son claimed the property, which was then inherited by the two
daughters. An action was accordingly tried in Cornwall to recover the
property. The strange part of the proceedings was that nearly forty
years had elapsed since anyone had seen Nicholas Robinson; but, says
Sir John Coleridge, "It was made out conclusively, in a most
remarkable way, and by a variety of small circumstances, all pointing
to one conclusion, that Nathaniel Richardson was the identical
Nicholas Robinson". The Cornish and Liverpool witnesses agreed in the
description of his person, his height, the colour of his hair, his
general appearance, and, more particularly, it was mentioned that he
had a peculiar habit of biting his nails, and that he had a great
fondness for horses.

In addition to other circumstances, there was this remarkable
one--that Nathaniel's widow married again and that the furniture and
effects were taken to the second husband's house. Among the articles,
was an old trunk, which she had never seen opened; but, on its
contents being examined one day, among other letters and papers, were
found the two certificates of Nicholas Robinson's admission as
Attorney to the Courts of Queen's Bench and Common Pleas--and, on the
trial, the old master of Nicholas Robinson, alias Nathaniel
Richardson, swore to his handwriting, and so the property was
discovered.

It has been often remarked that London is about the only place in all
Europe where a man, if so desirous, can disappear and live for years
unknown in some secure retreat. About the year 1706, a certain Mr.
Howe, after he had been married some seven or eight years, rose early
one morning, and informed his wife that he was obliged to go to the
Tower on special business, and at about noon the same day he sent a
note to his wife informing her that business summoned him to Holland,
where he would probably have to remain three weeks or a month. But
from that day he was absent from his home for seventeen years, during
which time his wife neither heard from him, nor of him.

His strange and unaccountable disappearance at the time naturally
created comment, but no trace could be found of his whereabouts, or as
to whether he had met with foul treatment. And yet the most curious
part of the story remains to be told. On leaving his house in Jermyn
Street, Piccadilly, Mr. Howe went no further than to a small street in
Westminster, where he took a room, for which he paid five or six
shillings a week, and changing his name, and disguising himself by
wearing a black wig--for he was a fair man--he remained in this
locality during the whole time of his absence. At the time he
disappeared from his home, Mr. Howe had had two children by his wife,
but these both died a few years afterwards. But, being left without
the necessary means of subsistence, Mrs. Howe, after waiting two or
three years in the hope of her husband's return, was forced to apply
for an Act of Parliament to procure an adequate settlement of his
estate, and a provision for herself out of it during his absence, as
it was uncertain whether he was alive or dead. This act Mr. Howe
suffered to be passed, and read the progress of it in a little
coffee-house which he frequented.

After the death of her children, Mrs. Howe removed from her house in
Jermyn Street to a smaller one in Brewer Street, near Golden Square.
Just over against her lived one Salt, a corn chandler, with whom Mr.
Howe became acquainted, usually dining with him once or twice a week.
The room where they sat overlooked Mrs. Howe's dining room, and Salt,
believing Howe to be a bachelor, oftentimes recommended her to him as
a suitable wife. And, curious to add, during the last seven years of
his mysterious absence, Mr. Howe attended every Sunday service at St.
James's Church, Piccadilly, and sat in Mr. Salt's seat, where he had a
good view of his wife, although he could not be easily seen by her.

At last, however, Mr. Howe made up his mind to return home, and the
evening before he took this step, sent her an anonymous note
requesting her to meet him the following day in Birdcage Walk, St.
James's Square. At the time this billet arrived, Mrs. Howe was
entertaining some friends and relatives at supper--one of her guests
being a Dr. Rose, who had married her sister.

After reading the note, Mrs. Howe tossed it to Dr. Rose, laughingly
remarking, "You see, brother, old as I am, I have got a gallant."

But Dr. Rose recognised the handwriting as that of Mr. Howe, which so
upset Mrs. Howe that she fainted away. It was eventually arranged that
Dr. Rose and his wife, with the other guests who were then at supper,
should accompany Mrs. Howe the following evening to the appointed
spot. They had not long to wait before Mr. Howe appeared, who, after
embracing his wife, walked home with her in the most matter-of-fact
manner, the two living together in the most happy and harmonious
manner till death divided them.

The reason of this mysterious disappearance, Mr. Howe would never
explain, but Dr. Rose often maintained that he believed his brother
would never have returned to his wife had not the money which he took
with him--supposed to have been from one to two thousand pounds--been
all spent. "Anyhow," he used to add, "Mr. Howe must have been a good
economist, and frugal in his manner of living, otherwise the money
would scarce have held out."

A romance associated with Haigh Hall, in Lancashire, tells how Sir
William Bradshaigh, stimulated by his love of travel and military
ardour, set out for the Holy land. Ten years elapsed, and, as no
tidings reached his wife of his whereabouts, it was generally supposed
that he had perished in some religious crusade. Taking it for granted,
therefore, that he was dead, his wife Mabel did not abandon herself
to a life of solitary widowhood, but accepted an offer of marriage
from a Welsh knight. But, not very long afterwards, Sir William
Bradshaigh returned from his prolonged sojourn in the Holy land, and,
disguised as a palmer, he visited his own castle, where he took his
place amongst the recipients of Lady Mabel's bounty.

As soon, however, as Lady Mabel caught sight of the palmer, she was
struck by the strong resemblance he bore to her first husband; and
this impression was quickly followed by bewilderment when the
mysterious stranger handed to her a ring which he affirmed had been
given him by Sir William, in his dying moments, to bear to his wife at
Haigh Hall.

In a moment Lady Mabel's thoughts travelled back into the distant
past, and she burst into tears as the ring brought back the dear
memories of bygone days. It was in vain she tried to stifle her
feelings, and, as her second husband--the Welsh Knight--looked on and
saw how distressed she was, "he grew," says the old record, "exceeding
wroth," and, in a fit of jealous passion, struck Lady Mabel.

This ungallant act was the climax of the painful scene, for there and
then Sir William threw aside his disguise, and hastened to revenge the
unchivalrous conduct of the Welsh knight. Completely confounded at
this unexpected turn of events, and fearing violence from Sir
William, the Welsh knight rode off at full speed, without waiting for
any explanation of the matter. But he was overtaken very speedily and
slain by his opponent, an offence for which Sir William was outlawed
for a year and a day; while Mabel, his wife, "was enjoined by her
confessor to do penance by going once every week, barefoot and bare
legged, to a cross near Wigan, popularly known as Mab's Cross.[49]

In Wigan Parish Church, two figures of whitewashed stone preserve the
memory of Sir William Bradshaigh and his Lady Mabel, he in an antique
coat of mail, cross-legged, with his sword, partly drawn from the
scabbard, by his left side, and she in a long robe, veiled, her hands
elevated and conjoined in the attitude of fervent prayer. Sir Walter
Scott informs us that from this romance he adopted his idea of "The
Betrothed," "from the edition preserved in the mansion of Haigh Hall,
of old the mansion house of the family of Bradshaigh, now possessed by
their descendants on the female side, the Earls of Balcarres."[50]

[Illustration: LADY MABEL AND THE PALMER.]

Scottish tradition ascribes to the Clan of Tweedie a descent of a
similar romantic nature. A baron, somewhat elderly, had wedded a buxom
young wife, but some months after their union he left her to ply the
distaff among the mountains of the county of Peebles, near the sources
of the Tweed. After being absent seven or eight years--no uncommon
space for a pilgrimage to Palestine--he returned, and found, to quote
the account given by Sir Walter Scott, "his family had not been lonely
in his absence, the lady having been cheered by the arrival of a
stranger who hung on her skirts and called her mammy, and was just
such as the baron would have longed to call his son, but that he could
by no means make his age correspond with his own departure for
Palestine. He applied, therefore, to his wife for the solution of the
dilemma, who, after many floods of tears, informed her husband that,
walking one day along the banks of the river, a human form arose from
a deep eddy, termed Tweed-pool, who deigned to inform her that he was
the tutelar genius of the stream, and he became the father of the
sturdy fellow whose appearance had so much surprised her husband."
After listening to this strange adventure, "the husband believed, or
seemed to believe, the tale, and remained contented with the child
with whom his wife and the Tweed had generously presented him. The
only circumstance which preserved the memory of the incident was that
the youth retained the name of Tweed or Tweedie." Having bred up the
young Tweed as his heir while he lived, the baron left him in that
capacity when he died, "and the son of the river-god founded the
family of Drummelzier and others, from whom have flowed, in the phrase
of the Ettrick shepherd, 'many a brave fellow, and many a bauld
feat.'"

It may be added that, in some instances, the science of the medical
jurist has aided in elucidating the history of disappearances, through
identifying the discovered remains with the presumed missing subjects.
Some years ago, the examination of a skeleton found deeply imbedded in
the sand of the sea-coast at a certain Scotch watering-place showed
that the person when living must have walked with a very peculiar and
characteristic gait, in consequence of some deposits of a rheumatic
kind which affected the lower part of the spine. The mention of this
circumstance caused a search to be made through some old records of
the town, and resulted in the discovery of a mysterious disappearance,
which, at the time, had been duly noted--the subject being a person
whose mode of walking had made him an object of attention, and whose
fate, but for the observant eye of the anatomist, must have remained
wholly unknown. Similarly, it has been pointed out how skeletons found
in mines, in disused wells, in quarries, in the walls of ruins, and
various other localities "imply so many social mysteries which
probably occasioned in their day a wide-spread excitement, or at least
agitated profoundly some small circle of relatives or friends."
According to the "Annual Register" (1845, p. 195), while some men were
being employed in taking the soil from the bottom of the river in
front of some mills a human skeleton was accidentally found. At a
coroner's inquest, it transpired that about nine years before a Jew
whose name was said to be Abrams, visited Taverham in the course of
his business, sold some small articles for which he gave credit to the
purchasers, and left the neighbourhood on his way to Drayton, the next
village, with a sum of £90 in his possession. But at Drayton he
disappeared, and never returned to Taverham to claim the amount due to
him.

Search was made for the missing man, but to no purpose, and after the
excitement in the neighbourhood had abated, the matter was soon
forgotten. But some time afterwards a man named Page was apprehended
for sheep stealing, tried, and sentenced to be transported for life.
During his imprisonment, he told divers stories of robberies and
crimes, most of which turned out to be false. But, amongst other
things, he wrote a letter promising that if he were released from gaol
and brought to Cossey, "he would show them that, from under the willow
tree, which would make every hair in their heads rise up." The man was
not released, but the river was drawn, and some sheep's skins and
sheep's heads were found, which were considered to be the objects
alluded to by Page. The search, however, was still pursued, and from
under the willow tree the skeleton was fished up, evidently having
been fastened down. It was generally supposed that these were the
bones of the long lost Jew, who, no doubt, had been murdered for the
money on his person--a crime of which Page was aware, if he were not
an accomplice.


FOOTNOTES:

[47] See "Romantic Records of the Aristocracy," 1850, I., 83-87.

[48] See "Dict. of Nat. Biog.," VIII., 418-420; Caulfield's "Remarkable
Persons," and Gent. Mag., 1753 and 1754.

[49] Sir B. Burke's "Vicissitudes of Families," first series, 270-273.
Harland's "Lancashire Legends," 45-47. Roby's "Traditions of
Lancashire."

[50] The tale of the noble Moringer is, in some respects, almost
identical with this tradition. It exists in a collection of German
popular songs, and is supposed to be extracted from a manuscript
"Chronicle of Nicholas Thomann, Chaplain to St. Leonard in
Weissenhorn," and dated 1533.



CHAPTER XIV.

HONOURED HEARTS.

    "I will ye charge, after that I depart
    To holy grave, and thair bury my heart,
    Let it remaine ever bothe tyme and hour,
    To ye last day I see my Saviour."
               --Old ballad quoted in Sir Walter Scott's notes
                 to "Marmion."


A curious and remarkable custom which prevailed more or less down to
the present century was that of heart burial. In connection with this
strange practice numerous romantic stories are told, the supreme
regard for the heart as the source of the affections, having caused it
to be bequeathed by a relative or friend, in times past, as the most
tender and valuable legacy. In many cases, too, the heart, being more
easy to transport, was removed from some distant land to the home of
the deceased, and hence it found a resting place, apart from the body,
in a locality endeared by past associations.

Westminster Abbey, it may be remembered, contains the hearts of many
illustrious personages. The heart of Queen Elizabeth was buried there,
and it is related how a prying Westminster boy one day, discovering
the depositories of the hearts of Elizabeth and her sister, Queen
Mary, subsequently boasted how he had grasped in his hand those once
haughty hearts. Prince Henry of Wales, son of James I., who died at
the early age of eighteen, was interred in Westminster Abbey, his
heart being enclosed in lead and placed upon his breast, and among
further royal personages whose hearts were buried in a similar manner
may be mentioned Charles II., William and Mary, George, Prince of
Denmark, and Queen Anne.

The heart of Edward, Lord Bruce, was enclosed in a silver case, and
deposited in the abbey church of Culross, near the family seat. In the
year 1808, this sad relic was discovered by Sir Robert Preston, the
lid of the silver case bearing on the exterior the name of the
unfortunate duellist; and, after drawings had been taken of it, the
whole was carefully replaced in the vault; and in St. Nicholas's
Chapel, Westminster, was enshrined the heart of Esme Stuart, Duke of
Richmond, where a monument to his memory is still to be seen with this
fact inscribed upon it.

Many interesting instances of heart burial are to be found in our
parish churches. In the church of Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex, which
was once the seat of Sir Thomas Boleyn, a nameless black marble
monument is pointed out as that of Anne Boleyn. According to a popular
tradition long current in the neighbourhood, this is said to have
contained the head, or heart. "It is within a narrow seat," writes
Miss Strickland, "and may have contained her head, or her heart, for
it is too short to contain a body. The oldest people in the
neighbourhood all declare that they have heard the tradition in their
youth from a previous generation of aged persons, who all affirm it to
be Anne Boleyn's monument." But, it would seem, there has always been
a mysterious uncertainty about Anne Boleyn's burial place, and a
correspondent of the _Gentleman's Magazine_ (October, 1815), speaks of
"the headless remains of the departed queen, as deposited in the arrow
chest and buried in the Tower Chapel before the high altar. Where that
stood, the most sagacious antiquary, after a lapse of more than 300
years, cannot now determine; nor is the circumstance, though related
by eminent writers, clearly ascertained. In a cellar, the body of a
person of short stature, without a head, not many years since, was
found, and supposed to be the reliques of poor Anne, but soon after it
was reinterred in the same place and covered with earth."[51]

By her testament, Eleanor, Duchess of Buckingham, wife of Edward, Duke
of Buckingham, who was beheaded on May 17th, 1521, appointed her heart
to be buried in the church of the Grey Friars, within the City of
London; and in the Sackville Vault, in Withyam Church, Sussex, is a
curiously shaped leaden box in the form of a heart, on a brass plate
attached to which is this inscription: "The heart of Isabella,
Countess of Northampton, died on October 14th, 1661." A leaden drum
deposited in a vault in the church of Brington is generally supposed
to contain the head of Henry Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, who received
his death wound at the battle of Newbury; and at Wells Cathedral, in a
box of copper, a heart was accidentally discovered, supposed to be
that of one of the bishops; and in the family vault of the
Hungerfords, at Farley Castle, a heart was one day found in a glazed
earthenware pot, covered with white leather. The widow of John Baliol,
father of Bruce's rival, showed her affection for her dead lord in a
strange way, for she embalmed his heart, placed it in an ivory casket,
and during her twenty years of widowhood she never sat down to meals
without this silent reminder of happier days. On her death, she left
instructions for her husband's heart to be laid on her bosom, and from
that day "New Abbey" was known as Sweet Heart Abbey, and "never," it
is said, "did abbey walls shelter a sweeter, truer heart than that of
the lady of Barnard Castle."

Among the many instances of heart-bequests may be noticed that of
Edward I., who on his death-bed expressed a wish to his son that his
heart might be sent to Palestine, inasmuch as after his accession he
had promised to return to Jerusalem, and aid the crusade which was
then in a depressed condition. But, unfortunately, owing to his wars
with Scotland, he failed to fulfil his engagement, and at his death he
provided two thousand pounds of silver for an expedition to convey his
heart thither, "trusting that God would accept this fulfilment of his
vow, and grant his blessing on the undertaking"; at the same time
imprecating "eternal damnation on any who should expend the money for
any other purpose." But his injunction was not performed.

Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, the avowed foe of Edward I., also gave
directions to his trusted friend, Sir James Douglas, that his heart
should be buried in the Holy Land, because he had left unfulfilled a
vow to assist in the Crusade, but his wish was frustrated owing to the
following tragic occurrence. After the king's death, his heart was
taken from his body, and, enclosed in a silver case, was worn by Sir
James Douglas suspended to his neck, who set out for the Holy Land. On
reaching Spain, he found the King of Castile engaged in war with the
Moors, and thinking any contest with Saracens consistent with his
vows, he joined the Spaniards against the Moors. But being overpowered
by the enemy's horsemen, in desperation he took the heart from his
neck, and threw it before him, shouting aloud, "Pass on as thou wert
wont, I will follow or die." He was almost immediately struck down,
and under his body was found the heart of Bruce, which was intrusted
to the charge of Sir Simon Locard of Lee, who conveyed it back to
Scotland, and interred it beneath the high altar in Melrose Abbey, in
connection with which Mrs. Hemans wrote some spirited lines:--

    Heart! thou didst press forward still
    When the trumpet's note rang shrill,
    Where the knightly swords were crossing
    And the plumes like sea-foam tossing.
    Leader of the charging spear,
    Fiery heart--and liest thou here?
    May this narrow spot inurn
    Aught that so could heat and burn?

The heart of Richard, the Lion-hearted, has had a somewhat eventful
history. It seems that this monarch bequeathed his heart to Rouen, as
a lasting recognition of the constancy of his Norman subjects. The
honour was gratefully acknowledged, and in course of time a beautiful
shrine was erected to his memory in the cathedral. But this costly
structure did not escape being destroyed in the year 1738 with other
Plantagenet memorials. A hundred years afterwards the mutilated effigy
of Richard was discovered under the cathedral pavement, and near it
the leaden casket that had inclosed his heart, which was replaced.
Before long it was taken up again, and removed to the Museum of
Antiquities, where it remained until the year 1869, when it found a
more fitting resting-place in the choir of the cathedral.

James II. bequeathed his heart to be buried in the Church of the
Convent Dames de St. Marie, at Chaillot, whence it was afterwards
removed to the chapel of the English Benedictines in the Faubourg St.
Jacques. And the heart of Mary Beatrice, his wife, was also bequeathed
to the Monastery of Chaillot, in perpetuity, "to be placed in the
tribune beside those of her late husband, King James, and the
Princess, their daughter." Dr. Richard Rawlinson, the well known
antiquary bequeathed his heart to St. John's College, Oxford; and
Edward, Lord Windsor, of Bradenham, Bucks, who died at Spa in the year
1754, directed that his body should be buried in the "Cathedral church
of the noble city of Liege, with a convenient tomb to his memory, but
his heart to be enclosed in lead and sent to England, there to be
buried in the chapel of Bradenham, under his father's tomb, in token
of a true Englishman."

Paul Whitehead, who died in the year 1774, left his heart to his
friend Lord le Despencer, to be deposited in his mausoleum at West
Wycombe. Lord le Despencer accepted the bequest, and on the 16th May,
1775, the heart, after being wrapped in lead and placed in a marble
urn, was carried with much ceremony to its resting place. Preceding
the bier bearing the urn, "a grenadier marched in full uniform, nine
grenadiers two deep, the odd one last; two German flute players, two
surpliced choristers with notes pinned to their backs, two more flute
players, eleven singing men in surplices, two French horn players, two
bassoon players, six fifers, and four drummers with muffled drums.
Lord le Despencer, as chief mourner, followed the bier, in his uniform
as Colonel of the Bucks Militia, and was succeeded by nine officers of
the same corps, two fifers, two drummers, and twenty soldiers with
their firelocks reversed. The Dead March in "Saul" was played, the
church bell tolled, and cannons were discharged every three and a half
minutes." On arriving at the mausoleum, another hour was spent by the
procession in going round and round it, singing funeral dirges, after
which the urn containing the heart was carried inside, and placed upon
a pedestal bearing the name of Paul Whitehead, and these lines:

    Unhallowed hands, this urn forbear;
      No gems, no Orient spoil,
    Lie here concealed; but what's more rare,
      A heart that knew no guile.

But in the year 1829 some unhallowed hand stole the urn, and the
whereabouts of Whitehead's heart remains a mystery to the present day.
In recent times an interesting case of heart burial was that of Lord
Byron, whose heart was enclosed in a silver urn and placed at Newstead
Abbey in the family vault; and another was that of the poet, Shelley,
whose body, according to Italian custom after drowning, was burnt to
ashes. But the heart would not consume, and so was deposited in the
English burying ground at Rome.

It is worthy, too, of note that heart burial prevailed to a very large
extent on the Continent. To mention a few cases, the heart of Philip,
King of Navarre, was buried in the Jacobin's Church, Paris, and that
of Philip, King of France, at the convent of the Carthusians at
Bourgfontaines, in Valois. The heart of Henri II., King of France, was
enshrined in an urn of gilt bronze in the Celestins, Paris; that of
Henri III., according to Camden, was enclosed in a small tomb, and
Henri IV.'s heart was buried in the College of the Jesuits at La
Fleche. Heart burial, again, was practised at the deaths of Louis IX.,
XII., XIII., and XIV., and in the last instance was the occasion of an
imposing ceremony. "The heart of this great monarch," writes Miss
Hartshorne, "was carried to the Convent of the Jesuits. A procession
was arranged by the Cardinal de Rohan, and, surrounded by flaming
torches and escorted by a company of the Royal Guards, the heart
arrived at the convent, where it was received by the rector, who
pronounced over it an eloquent and striking discourse."

The heart of Marie de Medicis, who built the magnificent palace of the
Luxembourg, was interred at the Church of the Jesuits, in Paris; and
that of Maria Theresa, wife of Louis XIV., was deposited in a silver
case in the monastery of Val de Grace. The body of Gustavus Adolphus,
the illustrious monarch who fell in the field of Lutzen, was embalmed,
and his heart received sepulchre at Stockholm; and, as is well known,
the heart of Cardinal Mazarin was, by his own desire, sent to the
Church of the Theatins. And Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV.,
directed in her will that her body should be buried at St. Denis near
to her husband, "of glorious memory," but her heart she bequeathed to
Val de Grace; and she also decreed that it should be drawn out through
her side without making any further opening than was absolutely
necessary. Instances such as these show the prevalence of the custom
of heart burial in bygone times, a further proof of which may be
gathered from the innumerable effigies or brasses in which a heart
holds a prominent place.


FOOTNOTES:

[51] See Timbs' "Abbeys, Castles, and Ancient Halls of England," i., p.
300; and "Enshrined Hearts of Warriors and Illustrious People," by
Emily Sophia Hartshorne, 1861.



CHAPTER XV.

ROMANCE OF WEALTH.

        The unsunn'd heaps
    Of miser's treasure.
               MILTON.


Stories of lost or unclaimed property have always possessed a
fascinating charm, but, unfortunately, the links for proving the
rightful ownership break off generally at the point where its history
seems on the verge of being unravelled. At the same time, however
romantic and improbable some of the announcements relating to such
treasure-hoards may seem, there is no doubt that many a poor family,
at the present day, would be possessed of great wealth if it could
only gain a clue to the whereabouts of money rightfully its own.

The legal identification, too, of such property when discovered has
frequently precluded its successfully being claimed by those really
entitled to enjoy it, and few persons are aware of the enormous amount
of unclaimed money--amounting to some millions--which lies dormant,
although continually made public in the "agony columns" of the _Times_
and other daily newspapers. It should be also remembered that wealth
of this kind is carefully preserved in all kinds of places; bankers'
cellars, for instance, containing some of the most curious unclaimed
deposits, many of them being of rare intrinsic value, whilst others
are of great romantic interest.

Thus, not many years ago, there was accidentally discovered in the
vaults of the Bank of England a large chest of some considerable age,
which, on being removed from its resting place, almost fell to pieces.
On the contents of this old chest being examined, some massive plate
of the time of Charles II. was brought to light, of very beautiful and
chaste workmanship. Nor was this all, for much to the surprise of the
explorers, a bundle of love letters, written during the period of the
Restoration, was found carefully packed away with the plate. On search
being made by the directors of the bank in their books, the surviving
heir of the original depositor was ascertained, to whom the plate and
packet of love letters were handed over.

Many similar cases might be quoted, for in most of our bank cellars
are hoarded away family treasures, which for some inexplicable reason
have never been claimed. Some, again, of our old jewellers' shops have
had strange deposits in their cellars, the history and whereabouts of
their owners having baffled the most searching and minute inquiries.
As an illustration, may be given an instance which occurred some years
back in connection with a jeweller's shop near Soho. It seems that an
old lady lodged for a few weeks over the said shop, and, on leaving
for the Continent, left behind her, for safety's sake, several boxes
of plate to be taken care of until further notice. But years passed by
and no tidings of the lady reached the jeweller, although from time to
time the most careful inquiries were instituted. At last, however, it
transpired that she had died somewhat suddenly, but, as no record was
found amongst her papers relating to the boxes of plate, a lengthened
litigation arose as to the rightful claimant of the property.

Occasionally, through domestic differences, homes are broken up and
the members dispersed, some perhaps going abroad. In many cases, such
persons it may be are not only lost sight of for years, but are never
heard of again, and hence, when they become entitled to money, large
sums are frequently spent in advertising for their whereabouts, and
oftentimes with no satisfactory results. Indeed, advertisements for
missing relatives are, it is said, yearly on the increase, and
considerable sums of money cannot be touched owing to the uncertainty
as to whether persons of this description are alive or dead. An
interesting instance occurred in the year 1882, when Sir James Hannen
had the following case brought before him: "Counsel applied on behalf
of Augustus Alexander de Niceville for letters of administration to
the property of his father, supposed to be dead, as he had not been
heard of since the year 1831, and who, if alive, would be 105 years
old. In early life he held a commission in the French army, but in the
year 1826 he came to this country and settled in Devonshire. On the
breaking out of the French Revolution he returned with his wife to
France, but his wife came back to England, and corresponded with her
husband till the year 1831, when she ceased to hear from him. In spite
of every means employed for tracing his whereabouts, nothing was ever
heard of him, his wife dying in the year 1875. Affidavits in support
of these facts having been read, the application was granted."

Then there are the well-known unclaimed funds in Chancery, concerning
which so much interest attaches. It may not be generally known what a
mine of wealth these dormant funds constitute, amounting to many
millions; indeed, the Royal Courts of Justice have been mainly built
with the surplus interest of this money, and occasionally large sums
from this fund have been borrowed to enable the Chancellor of the
Exchequer to carry through his financial operations. By an Act passed
in the year 1865, facilities are afforded to apply £1,000,000 from
funds standing in the books of the Bank of England to an account thus
designated: "Account of securities purchased with surplus interest
arising from securities carried to the account of moneys placed out
for the benefit and better security of the suitors of the Court of
Chancery." Not so very long ago the subject was discussed in
Parliament, when it was urged that, as the Government were trustees of
these funds, something should be done, as far as possible, by
publicity, to adopt measures whereby the true owners might become
claimants if they had but the knowledge of their rights.

Another reason for money remaining unclaimed for a number of years, is
through missing wills. Hence many a family forfeits its claim to
certain property on account of the testator's last wishes not being
forthcoming. Thackeray makes one of his plots hang in a most ingenious
way upon a missing will, which is discovered eventually in the
sword-box of a family coach, and various curious instances are on
record of wills having been discovered years after the testator's
death in the most out-of-the-way and unlikely hiding places. In some
cases, also, through a particular clause in a will being peculiarly or
doubtfully worded, heirs have been deprived of what was really due to
them, a goodly part of the property having been squandered and wasted
in prolonged legal expenses.

Then, again, it is universally acknowledged that there is an immense
quantity of money, and other valuables, concealed in the earth. In
olden days, the householder was the guardian of his own money, and so
had to conceal it as his ingenuity could devise. Accordingly large
sums of money were frequently buried underground, and in excavating
old houses, treasures of various kinds are oftentimes found underneath
the floors. The custom of making the earth a stronghold, and confiding
to its safe-keeping deposits of money, prevailed until a comparatively
recent period, and was only natural, when it is remembered how, in
consequence of civil commotions, many a home was likely to be robbed
of its most valuable belongings. Hence every precaution was taken, a
circumstance which accounts for the cunning secretal of rich and
costly relics in old buildings. According to an entry given by Pepys
in his "Diary," a large amount was supposed to be buried in his day,
and he gives an amusing account of the hiding of his own money by his
wife and father when the Dutch fleet was supposed to be in the Medway.
Times of trouble, therefore, will account for many of the treasures
which were so carefully secreted in olden times. Many years ago, as
the foundations of some old houses in Exeter were being removed, a
large collection of silver coins was discovered--the money found
dating from the time of Henry VIII. to Charles I., or the
Commonwealth--and it has been suggested that the disturbed state of
affairs in the middle of the 17th century led to this mode of securing
treasure.

This will account in some measure for the traditions of the existence
of large sums of hidden money associated with some of our old family
mansions. An amusing story is related by Thomas of Walsingham, which
dates as far back as the 14th century. A certain Saracen physician
came to Earl Warren to ask permission to kill a dragon which had its
den at Bromfield, near Ludlow, and committed great ravages in the
earl's lands. The dragon was overcome; but it transpired that a large
treasure lay hid in its den. Thereupon some men of Herefordshire went
by night to dig for the gold, and had just succeeded in reaching it
when the retainers of the Earl of Warren, having learnt what was going
on, captured them and took possession of the hoard for the earl. A
legend of this kind was long connected with Hulme Hall, formerly a
seat of a branch of the Prestwich family. It seems that during the
civil wars its then owner, Sir Thomas Prestwich, was very much
impoverished by fines and sequestrations, so that he was forced to
sell the mansion and estate to Sir Oswald Mosley. On more than one
occasion his mother had induced him to advance large sums of money to
Charles I. and his adherents, under the assurance that she had hidden
treasures which would amply repay him. This hoard was generally
supposed to have been hidden, either in the hall itself, or in the
grounds adjoining, and it was said to be protected by spells and
incantations, known only to the lady dowager herself. Time passed on,
and the old lady became every day more infirm, and at last she was
struck down with apoplexy before she could either practise the
requisite incantations, or inform her son where the treasure was
secreted. After her burial, diligent search was made, but to no
effect; and Sir Thomas Prestwich went down to the grave in comparative
poverty. Since that period fortune-tellers and astrologers have tried
their powers to discover the whereabouts of this hidden hoard, and,
although they have been unsuccessful, it is still believed that one
day their labours will be rewarded, and that the demons who guard the
money will be forced to give up their charge. Some years ago the hall
and estate were sold to the Duke of Bridgewater, and, the site having
been required for other purposes, the hall was pulled down, but no
money was discovered.

In Ireland, there are few old ruins in and about which excavations
have not been made in the expectation of discovering hidden wealth,
and in some instances the consequence of this belief has been the
destruction of the building, which has been actually undermined. About
three miles south of Cork, near the village of Douglas, is a hill
called Castle Treasure, where a "cross of gold" was supposed to be
concealed; and the discovery, some years ago, of a rudely-formed clay
urn and two or three brazen implements attracted for some time crowds
to the spot.

But such stories are not confined to any special locality, and there
is, in most parts of England, a popular belief that vast treasures are
hidden beneath the old ruins of many houses, and that supernatural
obstacles always prevent their being discovered. Indeed, Scotland has
numerous legends of this kind, some of which, as Mr. Chambers has
pointed out, have been incorporated into its popular rhymes. Thus, on
a certain farm in the parish of Lesmahagow, from time immemorial there
existed a tradition that underneath a very large stone was secreted a
vast treasure in the shape of a kettleful, a bootful, and a bull-hide
full "of gold, all of which have been designated 'Katie Neevie's
hoord,'" having given rise to the following adage:

    Between Dillerhill and Crossford
    There lies Katie Neevie's hoord.

And at Fardell, anciently the seat of Sir Walter Raleigh's family, in
the courtyard formerly stood an inscribed bilingual stone of the Roman
British period; the stone is now in the British Museum. The tradition
current in the neighbourhood makes the inscription refer to a treasure
buried by Sir Walter Raleigh, and hence the local rhyme:

    Between this stone and Fardell Hall
    Lies as much money as the devil can haul.

A curious incident happened in Ireland about the commencement of the
last century. The Bishop of Derry being at dinner, there came in an
old Irish harper, and sang an ancient song to his harp. The Bishop,
not being acquainted with Irish, was at a loss to understand the
meaning of the song, but on inquiry he ascertained the substance of it
to be this--that in a certain spot a man of gigantic stature lay
buried, and that over his breast and back were plates of pure gold,
and on his fingers rings of gold so large that an ordinary man might
creep through them. The spot was so exactly described that two persons
actually went in quest of the garden treasure. After they had dug for
some time, they discovered two thin pieces of gold, circular, and more
than two inches in diameter. But when they renewed their excavations
on the following morning they found nothing more. The song of the
harper has been identified as "Moiva Borb," and the lines which
suggested the remarkable discovery have been translated thus:

    In earth, beside the loud cascade,
    The son of Sora's king we laid;
    And on each finger placed a ring
    Of gold, by mandate of our king.

The loud cascade was the well-known waterfall at Ballyshannon, known
as "The Salmon Leap" now.

[Illustration: THERE CAME IN AN OLD IRISH HARPER AND SANG AN
ANCIENT SONG TO HIS HARP.]

It was also a common occurrence for a miser to hide away his hoards
underground, and before he had an opportunity of making known their
whereabouts he died, without his heirs being put in the necessary
possession of the information regarding that part of the earth wherein
he had kept secreted his wealth. At different times, in old houses
have been discovered misers' hoards, and which, but for some accident,
would have remained buried in their forgotten resting-place. This
will frequently account for money being found in the most eccentric
nooks, an illustration of which happened a few years ago in Paris,
when a miser died, leaving behind him, as was supposed, money to the
value of sixty pounds. After some months had passed by, the claimant
to the property made his appearance, and, on the miser's apartments
being thoroughly searched, no small astonishment was caused by the
discovery of the large sum of thirty-two thousand pounds. It may be
noted that in former years our forefathers were extremely fond of
hiding away their money for safety, making use of the chimney, or the
wainscot or skirting-board. There it frequently remained; and such
depositories of the family wealth were occasionally, from death and
other causes, completely forgotten. In one of Hogarth's well-known
pictures, the young spendthrift, who has just come into his
inheritance, is being measured by a fashionable tailor, when, from
behind the panels which the builders are ripping down, is seen falling
a perfect shower of golden money.

There can be no doubt that there is many an old house in this country
which, if thoroughly ransacked, would be found to contain treasures of
the most valuable and costly kind. Some years ago, for example, a
collection of pictures was discovered at Merton College, Oxford,
hidden away between the ceiling and the roof; and missing deeds have
from time to time been discovered located in all sorts of mysterious
nooks. In a set of rooms in Magdalen College, too, which had been
originally occupied by one of the Fellows, and had subsequently been
abandoned and devoted to lumber, was unearthed a strong wooden box,
containing, together with some valuable articles of silver plate, a
beautiful loving-cup, with a cover of pure gold. When, also, the
Vicarage house of Ormesby, in Yorkshire, required reparation, some
stonework had to be removed in order to carry out the necessary
alterations, in the course of which a small box was found, measuring
about a foot square, which had been embedded in the wall. The box,
when opened, was full of angels, angelets, and nobles. Some of the
money was of the reign of Edward IV., some of Henry VI., and some,
too, of the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. It has been suggested
that when Henry VIII. dissolved the lesser monasteries, the monks of
Guisboro' Priory, which was only about six miles off, fearing the
worst, fled with their treasures, and, with the craft and cunning
peculiar to their order, buried a portion of them in the walls of the
parsonage house of Ormesby.[52]

To quote another case, Dunsford, in his "Memories of Tiverton" (1790),
p. 285, speaking of the village of Chettiscombe, says that in the
middle of the 16th century, in the north part of this village was "a
chapel entire, dedicated to St. Mary. The walls and roof are still
whole, and served some years past for a dwelling-house, but is now
uninhabited." It appears that not only was there some superstition
attaching to this building, which accounted for its untenanted
condition, but certain money was supposed to be hidden away, to
discover which every attempt had hitherto been in vain. "It was
therefore proposed," says the author, "that some person should lodge
in the chapel for a night to obtain preternatural information
respecting it. Two persons at length complied with the request to do
so, and, aided by strong beer, approached about nine o'clock the
hallowed walls. They trembled exceedingly at the sudden appearance of
a white owl that flew from a broken window with the message that
considerable wealth lay in certain fields, that if they would
diligently dig there, they would undoubtedly find it." They quickly
attended to this piece of information, and employed a body of workmen
who, before long, succeeded in bringing to light the missing money.

A similar tradition was associated with Bransil Castle, a stronghold
of great antiquity, situated in a romantic position about two miles
from the Herefordshire Beacon. The story goes that the ghost of Lord
Beauchamp, who died in Italy, could never rest until his bones were
delivered to the right heir of Bransil Castle. Accordingly, they were
sent from Italy enclosed in a small box, and were for a considerable
time in the possession of Mr. Sheldon, of Abberton. The tradition
further states that the old Castle of Bransil was moated round, and in
that moat a black crow, presumed to be an infernal spirit, sat to
guard a chest of money, till discovered by the rightful owner. The
chest could never be moved without the mover being in possession of
the bones of Lord Beauchamp.

Such stories of hidden wealth being watched over by phantom beings are
not uncommon, and remind us of those anecdotes of treasures concealed
at the bottom of wells, guarded over by the "white ladies." In
Shropshire, there is an old buried well of this kind, at the bottom of
which a large hoard has long been supposed to lie hidden, or as a
local rhyme expresses it:

    Near the brook of Bell
    There is a well
    Which is richer than any man can tell.

In the South of Scotland it is the popular belief that vast treasures
have for many a year past been concealed beneath the ruins of
Hermitage Castle; but, as they are supposed to be in the keeping of
the Evil One, they are considered beyond redemption. At different
times various efforts have been made to dig for them, yet "somehow the
elements always on such occasions contrived to produce an immense
storm of thunder and lightning, and deterred the adventurers from
proceeding, otherwise, of course the money would long ago have been
found." And to give another of these strange family legends, may be
quoted one told of Stokesay Castle, Shropshire. It seems that many
years ago all the country in the neighbourhood of Stokesay belonged to
two giants, who lived the one upon View Edge, and the other at Norton
Camp. The story commonly current is that "they kept all their money
locked up in a big oak chest in the vaults under Stokesay Castle, and
when either of them wanted any of it he just took the key and got
some. But one day one of them wanted the key, and the other had got
it, so he shouted to him to throw it over as they had been in the
habit of doing, and he went to throw it, but somehow he made a mistake
and threw too short, and dropped the key into the moat down by the
Castle, where it has remained ever since. And the chest of treasure
stands in the vaults still, but no one can approach it, for there is a
big raven always sitting on the top of it, and he won't allow anybody
to try and break it open, so no one will ever be able to get the
giants' treasure until the key is found, and many say it never will be
found, let folks try as much as they please."[53]

Amongst further reasons for the hiding away of money, may be noticed
eccentricity of character, or mental delusion, a singular instance of
which occurred some years ago. It appears that whilst some workmen
were grubbing up certain tree at Tufnell Park, near Highgate, they
came upon two jars, containing nearly four hundred pounds in gold.
This they divided, and shortly afterwards, when the lord of the manor
claimed the whole as treasure trove, the real owner suddenly made his
appearance. In the course of inquiry, it transpired that he was a
brassfounder, living at Clerkenwell, and having been about nine months
before under a temporary delusion, he one night secreted the jars in a
field at Tufnell Park. On proving the truth of his statement, the
money was refunded to him.


FOOTNOTES:

[52] "Journal of the Archæological Association," 1859, Vol. xv., p.
104.

[53] "Shropshire Folklore" (Miss Jackson), 7, 8.



CHAPTER XVI.

LUCKY ACCIDENTS.

    "As the unthought-on accident is guilty
    Of what we wildly do, so we profess
    Ourselves to be the slaves of chance, and flies
    Of every wind that blows."
               "Winter's Tale," Act iv., Sc. 3.


Pascal, one day, remarked that if Cleopatra's nose had been shorter
the whole face of the world would probably have been changed. The same
idea may be applied to the unforeseen advantages produced by
accidents, some of which have occasionally had not a little to do with
determining the future position in life of many eminent men. Prevented
from pursuing the sphere in this world they had intended, compulsory
leisure compelled them to adopt some hobby as a recreation, in which,
unconsciously, their real genius lay.

Thus David Allan, popularly known as the "Scottish Hogarth," owed his
fame and success in life to an accident. When a boy, having burnt his
foot, he amused the monotony of his leisure hours by drawing on the
floor with a piece of chalk--a mode of passing his time which soon
obtained an extraordinary fascination for him. On returning to school,
he drew a caricature of his schoolmaster punishing a pupil, which
caused him to be summarily expelled. But, despite this punishment, his
success as an artist was decided, the caricature being considered so
clever that he was sent to Glasgow to study art, where he was
apprenticed in 1755 to Robert Foulis, a famous painter, who with his
brother Andrew had secretly established an academy of arts in that
city. Their kindness to him he was afterwards able to return when
their fortunes were reversed.

If Sir Walter Scott had not sprained his foot in running round the
room when a child, the world would probably have had none of those
works which have made his name immortal. When his son intimated a
desire to enter the army, Sir Walter Scott wrote to Southey, "I have
no title to combat a choice which would have been my own, had not my
lameness prevented." In the same way, the effects of a fall when about
a year old rendered Talleyrand lame for life, and being, on this
account, unfit for a military career, he was obliged to renounce his
birthright in favour of his second brother. But what seemed an
obstacle to his future success was the very reverse, for, turning his
attention to politics and books, he eventually became one of the
leading diplomatists of his day. Again, Josiah Wedgwood was seized in
his boyhood with an attack of smallpox, which was followed by a
disease in the right knee, some years afterwards necessitating the
amputation of the affected limb. But, as Mr. Gladstone, in his address
on Wedgwood's life and work delivered at Burslem, Oct. 26th, 1863,
remarked, the disease from which he suffered was, no doubt, the cause
of his subsequent greatness, for "it prevented him from growing up to
be the active, vigorous English workman, but it put upon him
considering whether, as he could not be that, he might not be
something else, and something greater. It drove him to meditate upon
the laws and secrets of his art."

Flamsteed was an astronomer by accident. Being removed from school on
account of his health, it appears that a cold caught in the summer of
1660 while bathing, which produced a rheumatic affection of the
joints, accompanied by other ailments. He became unable to walk to
school, and he finally left in May, 1662. His self-training now began,
and Sacroborco's "De Sphæra" was lent to him, with the perusal of
which he was so pleased that he forthwith commenced a course of
astronomic studies. Accordingly, he constructed a rude quadrant and
calculated a table of the sun's altitudes, pursuing his studies, as he
said himself, "under the discouragement of friends, the want of
health, and all other instructors, except his better genius."[54]

Alluding to accidents as sometimes developing greatness, Mr. Smiles
remarks that Pope's satire was in a measure the outcome of his
deformity; and Lord Byron's club foot, he adds, "had probably not a
little to do with determining his destiny as a poet. Had not his mind
been embittered, and made morbid by his deformity, he might never have
written a line. But his misshapen foot stimulated his mind, roused his
ardour, threw him upon his own resources, and we know with what
result."

Again, in numerous other ways, it has been remarked, accidents have
taken a lucky turn, and, if not being the road to fortune, have had
equally important results. The story is told of a young officer in the
army of General Wolfe who was supposed to be dying of an abscess in
the lungs. He was absent from his regiment on sick leave, but resolved
to join it when a battle was expected, "for," said he, "since I am
given over I had better be doing my duty, and my life's being
shortened a few days matters not." He received a shot which pierced
the abscess and made an opening for the discharge, the result being
that he recovered and lived to eighty years of age.

Brunel, the celebrated engineer, had a curious accident, which might
have forfeited his life. While one day playing with his children and
astonishing them by passing a half sovereign through his mouth out at
his ear, he unfortunately swallowed the coin, which dropped into his
windpipe. Brunel regarded the mischief caused by the accident as
purely mechanical; a foreign body had got into his breathing
apparatus, and must be removed, if at all, by some mechanical
expedient. But he was equal to the emergency, and had an apparatus
constructed which had the effect of relieving him of the coin. In
after days he used to tell how, when his body was inverted, and he
heard the gold piece strike against his upper front teeth, was,
perhaps, the most exquisite moment in his whole life, the half
sovereign having been in his windpipe for not less than six weeks.

In the year 1784, William Pitt almost fell the victim to the folly of
a festive meeting, for he was nearly accidentally shot as a
highwayman. Returning late at night on horseback from Wimbledon to
Addiscombe, together with Lord Thurlow, he found the turnpike gate
between Tooting and Streatham thrown open. Both passed through it,
regardless of the threats of the turnpike man, who, taking the two for
highwaymen, discharged the contents of his blunderbuss at their backs;
but, happily, no injury was done, and Pitt had the good fortune to
escape from what might have been a very serious, if not fatal,
accident. Foote, too, met with a bad accident on horseback, which, at
the time, seemed a lasting obstacle to his career as an actor. Whilst
riding with the Duke of York and some other noblemen, he was thrown
from his horse and his leg broken, so that an amputation became
necessary. In consequence of this accident, the Duke of York obtained
for him the patent of the Haymarket Theatre for his life; but he
continued to perform his former characters with no less agility and
spirit than he had done before to the most crowded houses. Similarly,
on one occasion--a very important one--Charles James Matthews was
nearly prevented making his first appearance on the stage through
being thrown from his horse, but, to quote his own words, "the
excitement of the evening dominated all other feelings, and I walked
for the time as well as ever."

Some men, again, have owed their success to the accidents of others. A
notable instance was that of Baron Ward, the well-known minister of
the Duke of Parma. After working some time as a stable-boy in Howden,
he went to London, where he had the good luck to come to the Duke of
Parma's assistance after a fall from his horse in Rotten Row. The Duke
took him back to Lucca as his groom, and ere long Ward made the ducal
stud the envy of Italy. He soon rose to a higher position, and became
the minister and confidential friend of the Duke of Parma, with whom
he escaped in the year 1848 to Dresden, and for whom he succeeded in
recovering Parma and Placenza. Indeed, Lord Palmerston once remarked,
"Baron Ward was one of the most remarkable men I ever met with."

It was through witnessing an accident that Sir Astley Cooper made up
his final decision to take up surgery as his profession. A young man,
having been run over by a cart, was in danger of dying from loss of
blood, when young Cooper lost no time in tying his handkerchief about
the wounded limb so as to stop the hemorrhage. It was this incident
which assured him of his taste for surgery. In the same way, the story
is quoted of the eminent French surgeon, Ambrose Paré. It is stated
that he was acting as stable-boy to an abbé at Laval when a surgical
operation was about to be performed on one of the brethren of the
monastery. On being called in to assist, Ambrose Paré not only proved
so useful, but was so fascinated with the operation that he made up
his mind to devote his life to the study and practice of surgery.
Instances of this kind might be enumerated, being of frequent
occurrence in biographical literature, and showing to what unforeseen
circumstances men have occasionally owed their greatness.

A romance which, had it lacked corroborative evidence, would have
seemed highly improbable, is told of the two Countesses of Kellie. In
the latter half of the last century, Mr Gordon, the proprietor of
Ardoch Castle--situated upon a high rock, overlooking the sea--was one
evening aroused by the firing of a gun evidently from a vessel in
distress near the shore. Hastening down to the beach, with the
servants of the Castle, it was evident that the distressed vessel had
gone down, as the floating spars but too clearly indicated. After
looking out in vain for some time, in the hope of recovering some of
the passengers--either dead or alive--he found a sort of crib, which
had been washed ashore, containing a live infant. The little creature
proved to be a female child, but beyond the fact that its wrappings
pointed to its being the offspring of persons in no mean condition,
there was no trace as to who these were.

The little foundling was brought up with Mr. Gordon's own daughters,
and when she had attained to womanhood, by an inexplicable
coincidence, a storm similar to that just mentioned occurred. An
alarm-gun was fired, and this time Mr. Gordon had the satisfaction of
receiving a shipwrecked party, whom he at once made his guests at the
Castle. Amongst them was one gentleman passenger, who after a
comfortable night spent in the Castle, was surprised at breakfast by
the entrance of a troop of blooming girls, the daughters of his host,
as he understood, but one of whom specially attracted his attention.

"Is this young lady your daughter, too?" he inquired of Mr. Gordon.

"No," replied his host, "but she is as dear to me as if she were."

He then related her history, to which the stranger listened with eager
interest, and at its close he not a little surprised Mr. Gordon by
remarking that he "had reason to believe that the young lady was his
own niece." He then gave a detailed account of his sister's return
from India, corresponding to the time of the shipwreck, and added,
"she is now an orphan, but if I am not mistaken in my supposition, she
is entitled to a handsome provision which her father bequeathed to her
in the hope of her yet being found."

Before many days had elapsed, sufficient evidence was forthcoming to
prove that by this strange, but lucky, accident of the shipwreck, the
long lost niece was found. The young heiress keenly felt leaving the
old castle, but to soften the wrench it was arranged that one of the
Misses Gordon should accompany her to Gottenburg, where her uncle had
long been settled as a merchant.

The sequel of this romance, as it is pointed out in the "Book of
Days,"[55] is equally astonishing. It seems that among the Scotch
merchants settled in the Swedish port, was Mr. Thomas Erskine--a
younger son of a younger brother of Sir William Erskine, of Cambo, in
Fife--an offshoot of the family of the Earl of Kellie--to whom Miss
Anne Gordon was married in the year 1771. A younger brother, named
Methven, ten years later married Joanna, a sister of Miss Gordon. It
was never contemplated that these two brothers would ever come near to
the peerage of their family--there being at one time seventeen persons
between them and the family titles; but in the year 1797 the baronet
of Cambo became Earl of Kellie, and two years later the title came to
the husband of Anne Gordon. In short, "these two daughters of Mr.
Gordon, of Ardoch, became in succession Countesses of Kellie in
consequence of the incident of the shipwrecked foundling, whom their
father's humanity had rescued from the waves."


FOOTNOTES:

[54] See "Dictionary of National Biography," xix., 242.

[55] "The Two Countesses of Kellie," ii. 41, 42.



CHAPTER XVII.

FATAL PASSION.

    What dreadful havoc in the human breast
    The passions make, when, unconfined and mad,
    They burst, unguided by the mental eye,
    The light of reason, which, in various ways,
    Points them to good, or turns them back from ill!
               THOMSON.


The annals of some of our old and respected families have occasionally
been sadly stained "by hideous exhibitions of cruelty and lust," in
certain instances the result of an unscrupulous disregard of moral
duty and of a vindictive fierceness in avenging injury. It has been
oftentimes remarked that few tragedies which the brain of the novelist
has depicted have surpassed in their unnatural and horrible details
those enacted in real life, for

    When headstrong passion gets the reins of reason,
    The force of Nature, like too strong a gale,
    For want of ballast, oversets the vessel.

Love, indeed, which has been proverbially said to lead to as much evil
as any impulse that agitates the human bosom, must be held responsible
for only too many of those crimes which from time to time outrage
society, for, as the authors of "Guesses at Truth" have remarked,
"jealousy is said to be the offspring of love, yet, unless the parent
make haste to strangle the child, the child will not rest till it has
poisoned the parent." Thus, a tragedy which made the Castle of
Corstorphine the scene of a terrible crime and scandal in the year
1679, may be said to have originated in an unhallowed passion.

George, first Lord Forrester, having no male issue, made an
arrangement whereby his son-in-law, James Baillie, was to succeed him
as second Lord Forrester and proprietor of the estate of Corstorphine.
Just four years after this compact was made, Lord Forrester died, and
James Baillie, a young man of twenty-five, succeeded to the title and
property. But this arrangement did not meet with the approval of Lord
Forrester's daughters, who regarded it as a manifest injustice that
the honours of their ancient family should devolve on an alien--a
feeling of dissatisfaction which was more particularly nourished by
the third daughter, Lady Hamilton, whose husband was far from wealthy.

It so happened that Lady Hamilton had a daughter, Christian, who was
noted for her rare beauty and high spirit. But, unfortunately, she was
a girl of strong passion, which, added to her self-will, caused her,
when she had barely arrived at a marriageable age, to engage herself
to one James Nimmo, the son of an Edinburgh merchant. Before many
weeks had elapsed, the young couple were married, and the handsome
young wife was settled in her new home in Edinburgh. Time wore on, the
novelty of marriage died away, and as Mrs. Nimmo dwelt on her
mercantile surroundings, she recognised more and more what an
ill-assorted match she had made, and in her excitable mind, "she
cursed the bond which connected her with a man whose social position
she despised, and whose occupations she scorned." The report, however,
of her uncommon beauty, could not fail to reach the ears of young Lord
Forrester, who on the score of relationship was often attracted to
Mrs. Nimmo's house. At first he was received with coldness, but, by
flattering and appealing to her vanity, he gradually "accomplished the
ruin of this unhappy young woman," and made her the victim of his
licentious and unprincipled designs.

But no long time had elapsed when this shameful intrigue became the
subject of common talk, and public indignation took the side of the
injured woman, when Lord Forrester, after getting tired of her, "was
so cruel and base as to speak of her openly in the most opprobrious
manner," even alluding to her criminal connection with him. In so
doing, however, he had not taken into consideration the violent
character of the woman he had wronged, nor thought he of her jealousy,
wounded pride, and despair. In his haste, also, to rid himself of the
woman who no longer fascinated him, he paid no heed to the passion
that was lurking in her inflamed bosom, nor counted on her _spretæ
injuria formæ_.

On the other hand, whilst he was forgetting the past in his orgies,
Mrs. Nimmo--whose love for him was turned to the bitterest hate--was
hourly reproaching him, and at last the fatal moment arrived when she
felt bound to proceed to Corstorphine Castle, and confront her
evil-doer. At the time, Lord Forrester was drinking at the village
tavern, and, when the infuriated woman demanded to see him, he was
flushed with claret, and himself in no amiable mood. The altercation,
naturally, "soon became violent, bitter reproaches were uttered on the
one side, and contemptuous sneers on the other." Goaded to frenzy, the
unhappy woman stabbed her paramour to the heart, killing him
instantly.

When taken before the sheriff of Edinburgh, she confessed her crime,
and, although she told the court in the most pathetic manner how
basely she had been wronged by one who should have supported rather
than ruined her, sentence of death was passed upon her. She managed,
writes Sir Bernard Burke,[56] to postpone the execution of her
sentence by declaring that she was with child by her seducer, and
during her imprisonment succeeded in escaping in the disguise of a
young man. But she was captured, and on the 12th November, 1679, paid
the penalty of her rash act, appearing at her execution attired in
deep mourning, covered with a large veil.

Radcliffe to this day possesses the tradition of a terrible tragedy of
which there are several versions. It appears that one Sir William de
Radclyffe had a very beautiful daughter whose mother died in giving
her birth. After a time he married again, and the step-mother,
actuated by feeling of jealousy, conceived a violent hatred to the
girl, which ere long prompted her to be guilty of the most insane
cruelty. One day, runs the story, when Sir William was out hunting,
she sent the unsuspecting girl into the kitchen with a message to the
cook that he was to dress the white doe. But the cook professing
ignorance of the particular white doe he was to dress, asserted, to
the young lady's intense horror, that he had received orders to kill
her, which there and then he did, afterwards making her into a pie.

On Sir William's return from hunting, he made inquiries for his
daughter, but his wife informed him that she had taken the opportunity
in his absence of going into a nunnery. Suspicious, however, of the
truth of her story--for her jealous hatred of his daughter had not
escaped his notice--he flew into a passion, and demanded in the most
peremptory manner where his daughter was, whereupon the scullion boy
denounced the step-mother, and warned Sir William against eating the
pie.

The whole truth was soon revealed, and the diabolic wickedness of Lady
William did not pass unpunished, for she was burnt, and the cook was
condemned to stand in boiling lead. A ballad in the Pepys' collection,
entitled, "The Lady Isabella's Tragedy, or the Step-mother's Cruelty,"
records this horrible barbarity; and in a Lancashire ballad, called
"Fair Ellen of Radcliffe", it is thus graphically told:--

    She straighte into the kitchen went,
      Her message for to tell;
    And then she spied the master cook,
      Who did with malice swell.

    "Nowe, master cooke, it must be soe,
      Do that which I thee tell;
    You needs must dress the milk-white doe,
      You which do knowe full well."

    Then straight his cruel, bloody hands,
      He on the ladye laid,
    Who, quivering and ghastly, stands
      While thus to her he sayd:

    "Thou art the doe that I must dress;
      See here! behold, my knife!
    For it is pointed, presentli
      To rid thee of thy life."

    O then, cryed out the scullion boye,
      As loud as loud might be,
    "O save her life, good master cook,
      And make your pyes of me."

The tradition adds that Sir William was not unmindful of the scullion
boy's heroic conduct, for he made him heir to his possessions.

Another cruel case of woman's jealousy, which, happily, was not so
disastrous in its result as the former, relates to Maria, daughter of
the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, second son of Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth,
who was Maid of Honour to Queen Caroline. Report goes that between
this young lady, who was one of the greatest beauties about the Court,
and a Mr. Price, an admired man about town, there subsisted a strong
attachment. Unfortunately for Miss Mackenzie, Mr. Price was an
especial favourite of the celebrated Countess of Deloraine, who, to
get rid of her rival in beauty, poisoned her.

But this crime was discovered in time, antidotes were administered
with success, and the girl's life was saved; although her lovely
complexion is said to have been ruined, ever after continuing of a
lemon tint. Queen Caroline, desirous of shielding the Countess of
Deloraine from the consequences of her act, persuaded "the poisoned
beauty" to appear, as soon as she was sufficiently recovered, at a
supper, given either by the Countess of Deloraine or where she was to
be present. Accordingly, on the night arranged, some excitement was
caused by the arrival of Miss Mackenzie, for as she entered the room,
someone exclaimed, "How entirely changed!"

But Mr. Price, who was seated by Lady Deloraine remarked, "In my eyes
she is more beautiful than ever," and it only remains to add that they
were married next morning.

Like jealousy, thwarted love has often been cause of the most
unnatural crimes, and a tragic story is told of the untimely death of
Mr Blandy, of Henley, in Oxfordshire, who, by practice as an attorney,
had accumulated a large fortune. He had an only child, Mary, who was
regarded as an heiress, and consequently had suitors many. On one
occasion, it happened that William Cranstoun, brother of Lord
Cranstoun, being upon a recruiting party in Oxfordshire, and hearing
of Miss Blandy's "great expectations," found an opportunity of
introducing himself to the family.

The Captain's attentions, however, to Miss Blandy met with the strong
disapproval of her father, for he had ascertained that this suitor for
his daughter's hand had been privately married in Scotland. But
against this objection Captain Cranstoun replied that he hoped to get
this marriage speedily set aside by a decree of the Supreme Court of
Session. And when the Court refused to annul the marriage, Mr. Blandy
absolutely refused to allow his daughter to have any further
communications with so dishonourable a man; a resolution to which he
remained inexorable.

Intrigue between the two was the result, for it seems that Miss
Blandy's affection for this profligate man--almost double her age--was
violent. As might be expected, Captain Cranstoun not only worked upon
her feelings, but imposed on her credulity. He sent her from Scotland
a pretended love powder, which he enjoined her to administer to her
father, in order to gain his affection and procure his consent. This
injunction she did not carry out, on account of a frightful dream, in
which she saw her father fall from a precipice into the ocean.
Thereupon the Captain wrote a second time, and told her in words
somewhat enigmatical, but easily understood by her, his design.

Horrible to relate, the wicked girl was so elated with the idea of
removing her father, that she was heard to exclaim before the
servants, "who would not send an old fellow to hell for thirty
thousand pounds?"

The fatal die was cast. The deadly powder was mixed and given to him
in a cup of tea, after drinking which he soon began to swell
enormously.

"What have you given me, Mary?" asked the unhappy dying man. "You have
murdered me; of this I was warned, but, alas! I thought it was a false
alarm. O, fly; take care of the Captain!"

Thus Mr. Blandy died of poison, but his daughter was captured whilst
attempting to escape, and was conveyed to Oxford Castle, where she was
imprisoned till the assizes, when she was tried for parricide, was
found guilty, and executed. Captain Cranstoun managed to effect his
escape, and went abroad, where he died soon afterwards in a deplorable
state of mind, brought about by remorse for the evil and misery he had
caused.

Almost equally tragic was the fatal passion of Sir William Kyte,
forming another strange domestic drama in real life. Possessed of
considerable fortune, and of ancient family, Sir William was deemed a
very desirable match, and when he offered his hand to a young lady of
noble rank, and of great beauty, he was at once accepted. The marriage
for the first few years turned out happily, but the crisis came when
Sir William was nominated, at a contested election, to represent the
borough of Warwick, in which county lay the bulk of his estate. After
the election was over, Lady Kyte, by way of recompensing a zealous
partisan of her husband, took an innkeeper's daughter, Molly Jones,
for her maid; "a tall, genteel girl, with a fine complexion, and
seemingly very modest and innocent." But before many months had
elapsed, Sir William was attracted by the girl, and, eventually,
became so infatuated by her charms, that, casting aside all restraints
of shame or fear, he agreed to a separation between his wife and
himself. Accordingly, Sir William left Lady Kyte, with the two younger
children, in possession of the mansion-house in Warwickshire, and
retired with his mistress and his two eldest sons to a farmhouse on
the Cotswold hills. Charmed with the situation, he was soon tempted to
build a handsome house here, to which were added two large
side-fronts, for no better reason than that Molly Jones, one day,
happened to say, "What is a Kite without wings." But the expense of
completing this establishment, amounting to at least £10,000, soon
involved Sir William in financial difficulties, which caused him to
drown his worries in drink.

At this juncture, Molly Jones, forgetting her own past, was
injudicious enough to engage a fresh coloured country girl--who was
scarcely twenty--as dairymaid, for whom Sir William quickly conceived
an amorous regard. Actuated by jealousy or disgust, Molly Jones
threatened to leave Sir William, a resolution which she soon carried
out, retiring to Cambden, a neighbouring market town, where she was
reduced to keep a small sewing school as a means of livelihood.
Although left to carry on his intrigue undisturbed, Sir William soon
became a victim to gloomy reflections, feeling at times that he had
not only cruelly wronged a good wife, but had been deserted by the
very woman for whose sake he had brought this trouble and disgrace
upon his family. Tormented by these conflicting passions, he
occasionally worked himself up into such a state of frenzy that even
his new favourite was terrified, and had run away. It was when almost
maddened with the thought of his evil past that he formed that fatal
resolve which was a hideous ending to "the dreadful consequence of a
licentious passion not checked in its infancy." One October evening,
as a housemaid was on the stairs, suddenly "the lobby was all in a
cloud of smoke." She gave the alarm, and on the door being forced
open whence the smoke proceeded, it was discovered that Sir William
had set fire to a large heap of fine linen, piled up in the middle of
the room. From an adjoining room, where Sir William had made his
escape, the flames burst out with such fury that all were glad to make
their escape out of the house, the greater part of which was in a few
hours burnt to the ground--no other remains of its master being found
next morning but the hip-bone, and bones of the back.

A case which, at the time, created considerable sensation was the
murder of Thynne of Longleat by a jealous antagonist. The eleventh
Duke of Northumberland left an only daughter, whose career, it has
been said, "might match that of the most erratic or adventurous of her
race." Before she was sixteen years old, she had been twice a widow,
and three times a wife. At the age of thirteen, she was married to the
only son of the Duke of Newcastle, a lad of her own age, who died in a
few months. Her second husband was Thynne of Longleat, "Tom of Ten
Thousand," but the tie was abruptly severed by the bullet of an
assassin, set on by the notorious Count Konigsmark, who had been a
suitor for her hand, and was desirous of another chance. After his
death, the young widow, who was surrounded by a host of admirers,
married the Duke of Somerset, and she seems to have made him a fitting
mate, for when his second wife, a Finch, tapped him familiarly on the
shoulder, or, according to another version, seated herself on his
knee, he exclaimed indignantly:

"My first wife was a Percy, and she never thought of taking such a
liberty."

It may be added that one of the most remarkable incidents in this
celebrated beauty's life was when by dint of tears and supplications
she prevented Queen Anne from making Swift a bishop, out of revenge
for the "Windsor prophecy," in which she was ridiculed for the redness
of her hair, and upbraided as having been privy to the brutal murder
of her second husband. "It was doubted," says Scott, "which imputation
she accounted the more cruel insult, especially since the first charge
was undoubted, and the second arose only from the malice of the poet."

Another tragedy of a similar kind was the murder of William Mountford,
the player. Captain Richard Hill had conceived a violent passion for
Mrs. Bracegirdle, the beautiful actress, and is said to have offered
her his hand, and to have been refused. At last his passion became
ungovernable, and he determined to carry her off by force. To carry
out his purpose, he induced his friend Lord Mohun to assist him in the
attempt. According to one account, "he dodged the fair actress for a
whole day at the theatre, stationed a coach near the Horseshoe Tavern,
in Drury Lane, to carry her off in, and hired six soldiers to force
her into it. As the beautiful actress came down Drury Lane, at ten
o'clock at night, accompanied by her mother and brother, and escorted
by her friend Mr. Page, one of the soldiers seized her in his arms,
and endeavoured to force her into the coach. But the lady's scream
attracted a crowd, and Captain Hill, finding his endeavours
ineffectual, bid the soldiers let her go. Disappointed in their
object, Lord Mohun and Captain Hill vowed vengeance; and Mrs.
Bracegirdle on reaching home sent her servant to Mr. Mountford's house
to take care of himself, warning him against Lord Mohun and Captain
Hill, "who she feared, had no good intention toward him, and did wait
for him in the street." It appears that Mountford had already heard of
the attempt to carry off Mrs. Bracegirdle, and hearing that Lord Mohun
and Captain Hill were in the street, did not shrink from approaching
them."

The account says that he addressed Lord Mohun, and told him how sorry
he was to find him in the company of such a pitiful fellow as Captain
Hill, whereupon, it is said, "the captain came forth and said he would
justify himself, and went towards the middle of the street, and Mr.
Mountford followed him and drew." The end of the quarrel was that
Mountford fell with a terrible wound, of which he died on the
following day, declaring in his last moments that Captain Hill ran him
through the body before he could draw his sword. Captain Hill, it
seems, owed Mountford a deadly grudge, having attributed his rejection
by Mrs. Bracegirdle to her love for him--an unlikely passion, it is
thought, as Mountford was a married man, with a good-looking wife of
his own, afterwards Mrs. Verbruggen, and a celebrated actress.

Oulton House, Suffolk, long known as the "Haunted House," acquired its
ill-omened name from a tragic occurrence traditionally said to have
happened many years ago, and the peasantry in the neighbourhood affirm
that at midnight a wild huntsman, with his hounds, accompanied by a
lady carrying a poisoned cup, is occasionally seen. The story is that,
in the reign of George II., a squire, returning unexpectedly home from
the chase, discovered his wife with an officer, one of his guests, in
too familiar a friendship. High words followed, and the indignant
husband, provoked by the cool manner in which the officer treated the
matter, struck him, whereupon the guilty lover drew his sword and
drove it through the squire's heart, the faithless wife and her
paramour afterwards making their escape.

Some years afterwards, runs the tale, the Squire's daughter, who had
been left behind in the hasty departure, having grown to womanhood,
was affianced to a youthful farmer of the neighbourhood. But on their
bridal eve, as they were sitting together talking over the new life
they were about to enter, "a carriage, black and sombre as a hearse,
with closely drawn curtains, and attended by servants clad in sable
liveries, drew up to the door." The young girl was seized by masked
men, carried off in the carriage to her unnatural mother, while her
betrothed was stabbed as he vainly endeavoured to rescue her. A grave
is pointed out in the cemetery at Namur, as that in which was laid the
body of the unhappy girl, poisoned, it is alleged, by her unscrupulous
and wicked mother. It is not surprising, we are told, that the
locality was supposed to be haunted by the wretched woman--both as
wife and mother equally criminal.

Family romance, once more, has many a dark page recording how
despairing love has ended in self-destruction. At the beginning of the
present century, a sad catastrophe befell the Shuckburghs of
Shuckburgh Hall. It appears the Bedfordshire Militia were stationed
near Upper Shuckburgh, and the officers were in the habit of visiting
the Hall, whose hospitable owner, Sir Stewkley Shuckburgh, received
them with every mark of cordiality. His daughter, then about twenty
years of age, was a young lady of no ordinary attractions, and her
fascinations soon produced their natural effect on one of the
officers, Lieutenant Sharp, who became deeply attached to her. But as
soon as Sir Stewkley became aware of this love affair, he gave it his
decided disapproval. Lieutenant Sharp was forbidden the house, and
Miss Shuckburgh resolved to smother her love in deference to her
father's wishes. It was accordingly decided between the young people
that their intimacy should cease, and that the letters which had
passed between them should be returned. An arrangement was, therefore,
made that the lady should leave the packet for Lieutenant Sharp in the
summer-house in the garden on a specified evening, and that on the
following morning she should find the packet intended for her in the
same place. The sad engagement was kept, and having left her packet in
the evening, Miss Shuckburgh set out on the following morning to find
her own. A servant, it is said, who saw her in the garden, was curious
to know what could have brought her out at so early an hour. He
followed her unobserved, and on drawing near to the summer-house, "he
heard the voices of the lieutenant and of the lady in earnest dispute.
The officer was loud and impassioned, the lady firm but unconsenting.
Immediately was heard the report of a pistol, and the fall of a
body--another report and fall. Guessing the tragic truth, the servant
raised an alarm, and the two lovers were found lying dead in their own
blood." It is generally supposed that this terrible act of
self-destruction was the result of mutual agreement--the outcome of
passion and despair.

"Since that hour," writes Howitt, "every object, about the place which
could suggest to the memory this fatal event, has been changed or
removed. The summer-house has been razed to the ground; the
disposition of the garden itself altered; but," he adds, "such tragic
passages in human life become part and parcel of the scene where they
occur--they become the topic of the winter fireside. They last while
passions and affections, youth and beauty last. They fix themselves
into the soil, and the very rock on which it lies, and though the
house was razed from the spot, and its park and pleasaunces turned
into ploughed fields, it would still be said for ages: Here stood
Shuckburgh Hall, and here fell the young and lovely Miss Shuckburgh by
the hand of her despairing lover."

And to conclude with a romance in brief, some forty or fifty years
ago, in the far north of England a girl was on the eve of being
married. Her wedding dress was ordered, the guests were bidden. But,
it is said that at the eleventh hour, in a fit of passion and paltry
jealousy, she resented some fancied want of devotion in her lover.

He was single-minded, loyal, and altogether of finer stuff than
herself; but she was a wretched slave to such old stock phrases as
delicacy, family pride, and the like, and so he was allowed to go, for
she came of people who looked upon unforgiveness as a virtue.

Accordingly the discarded lover exchanged into a regiment under orders
for Afghanistan. At the time, our troops were engaged there in hot
fighting. The lad fell, and hidden on his breast was found a locket
which his sweetheart had once given him. It came back to her through a
brother officer, who had known something of his sad story, with a
stain on it--a stain of his blood. When that painful relic silently
told her of the devotion which she had so unjustly and basely wronged,
there came, in the familiar lines:

    A mist and a weeping rain,
    And life was never the same again.

That stain marked every day of a lonely life throughout forty years or
more.


FOOTNOTES:

[56] "Vicissitudes of Families," 1863, III. Ser., 202-203.



INDEX.


"Abbey Vows," The, 56-58.

Abingdon, John, Secret Room built by, at Hendlip Hall, 91-93.

Abrams, Disappearance of a Jew named, 251, 252.

Accidents, Lucky, 279-288.

Adolphus, Gustavus, Burial of, 262.

Ainsworth and Cuckfield Place, 180, 181.

Alexander III., Banquet of, 73-75.

Alfred, Prince, Death of, 79, 80.

Allan David, the Painter, 279, 280.

Anne of Austria, Heart of, 262.

Anne of Burton Agnes Hall, Skull of, 40-43.

Antoinette, M., and the Chevalier D'Eon, 220.

Armscott Manor, Secret Room at, 95, 96.

Arrowsmith, Father, Hand of, 158-160.

Arundell, Sir John, 12, 13.

Aubrey's "Miscellanies," 132, 133.

"Awd Nance" of Burton Agnes Hall, 40-43.


Baillie, James, 290-292.

Baker, Sir Richard, 110-112.

Baker, Sir Richard, and the Murder of Edward II., 89.

Baliol, John, The Heart of, 256.

Ballafletcher, Estate of, 201, 202.

Ballyshannon, Waterfall at, 272.

Bandini, The Sisters, 137-140.

Bank of England, Discovery in the Vaults of the, 264.

Banquets, Strange, 69-87.

Banshee, The, 193.

Barcroft Hall; the Idiot's Curse, 9, 10.

Baring-Gould, Rev. S., Story by, 156, 157.

Barn Hall, Tradition of, 165, 166.

Barritt, Thomas, and the Wardley Hall Skull, 39, 40.

Baydoyle Bank's Tragedy, The, 115.

"Bearded Watt," The, 68.

Beauchamp, Lord, Ghost of, 275, 276.

Belgrade, Bombardment of, Vow made by the Servians at, 68.

Benedick, Vow of, 51.

Berkeley Castle, Walpole and, 88, 89.

Bernard, Samuel, "Address to the Deil," 173.

Bernshaw Tower, Lady Sybil of, 168-170.

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Spectre at, 197.

Betsy, the Doctress (Russell), 222-224.

Bettiscombe, Screaming Skull at, 29-32.

Bisham Abbey, Spirit of Lady Russell at, 122, 123.

Bistmorton Court, Secret Room at, 97.

Blackwell, Murder at, 114, 115

Blandy, Miss, 296, 297.

Blandy, Mr., of Henley, Poisoning of, 296, 297

Blenkinsopp Castle, Romantic Story of, 60-62.

Blood Stains, Indelible, 114-134.

"Bloody Baker," 110-112.

"Bloody Chamber," The, 118, 119

"Bloody Footstep," Legend of the, 115-117.

Bodach Glass, The, 193-195.

Boleyn, Anne, Monument to, 254, 255.

Bolle, Sir John, Story of, 215, 216.

Boscobel House, Secret Chambers at, 97.

Bourne, Mr. John, 205, 206.

Bracegirdle, Mrs., the Actress, 301-303.

Bradshaigh, Sir William, 246-248.

Bramshill, A Chest at, 235.

Bransie Castle, Tradition associated with, 275, 276.

Brent Pelham Church, 166.

Brereton Family, The, 181.

Bromfield, Story of a Dragon at, 268, 269.

Bromley, Sir Henry, 92.

Broughton Castle, Room at, 90, 91.

Brown, Mrs., and the Death of Robert Perceval, 151, 152.

Browne, Sir Anthony, and Cowdray Castle, 19-21.

Bruce, Robert, The Heart of, 257-258.

Brunel, the Engineer, 282, 283.

Bryn Hall, "Dead Hand" at, 157-160.

Buckland Abbey, Sir F. Drake and, 170-173.

"Buckland Shag," Spectre of the, 124-126.

Bulgaden Hall, Tale of, 71-73.

Burdett, Mr. Sedley, 20.

Burke, Sir Bernard, and Bulgaden Hall, 73;
  and Sir Robert Scott of Thirlestane, 78;
  and Capt. Cayley, 148;
  and Cecil, Earl of Exeter, 219;
  and Draycot, 141;
  and Gordon Castle, 182;
  and Mrs. Nimmo, 292.

Burnaby, Col. Fred., Incident of the Carlist Rising, 212, 213

Burton Agnes Hall, "Awd Nance" of, 40-43.

Byron, Lord, and Skull at Newstead Abbey, 44, 45;
  Club Foot of, 282;
  and the Spectre of Newstead Abbey, 196;
  The Heart of, at Newstead Abbey, 260.

Calverley Hall, Blood Stains at, 120, 121.

Calverley, Walter, 120, 121.

Cambuskenneth Abbey, Destruction of, 15.

Canning, Elizabeth, Disappearance of, 239-241.

Carbery, Baron, Tale of, 71-73.

Carew, B.M., A Companion of Russell, 223.

Carlist Rising in 1874, Incident of the, 212, 213.

Caroline, Queen, and the Countess of Deloraine, 295.

Carr, Earl of Somerset, 18, 19.

Castle Dalhousie, Death Omen, 181.

Castle Treasure, near Cork, 270.

Castlereagh, Lord, and the "Radiant Boy" Spectre, 196.

Cathcart, Lady, Strange Disappearance of, 236-238.

Cayley, Capt. John and Mrs. Macfarlane, 148, 149.

Cecil, Earl of Exeter, 217-220.

Chancery, Unclaimed Funds in, 266, 267.

Charles I., Bernini's Bust of, 133, 134.

Charles II., at the Trent Manor House, 96;
  at Boscobel House, 97.

Chartley, Park at, 187-189.

Chattan, Clan of, 6-9.

Chettiscombe, Village of, 274, 275.

Chiappini, L., Daughter of, 136-140.

Chilton Cantels, Skull in a Farmhouse in, 34.

"Claimant," The, 23.

Clayton Old Hall, The "Bloody Chamber" at, 118.

Clifford, Lord, the "Shepherd Lad," 224-227.

Clifford, Wild Henry, 227.

Clifton, Family of, Death Omen of, 187.

Closeburn Castle, Lake at, 183-185.

"Coalstoun Pear," The, 199-201.

Coleridge, Sir John, Strange Romance recorded by, 241-243.

Compacts with the Devil, 162-179.

Condover Hall, Blood Stain at, 118.

Congreve and Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, 86.

Cook, Kraster, Myles Phillipson and, 35-37.

Cooper, Sir Astley, 285.

Cope, Sir John, 235.

Corbet, Legend of the House of, 75, 76.

Corby Castle, "Radiant Boy" Spectre of, 196.

Cornish Belief _re_ St. Denis' Blood, 127.

Corstophine, Castle of, Tragedy at, 290-293.

Cortachy Castle, 189, 190.

Cothele, Blood Stains at, 119.

"Couleur Isabelle" Dresses, Origin of, 46, 47.

Cowdenknowes, Curse of the House of, 25.

Cowdray Castle, 19, 20.

Cows at Chartley Park, 187-189

Cranbrook, Sir R. Baker at, 110-112.

Cranstoun, Capt., 296, 297.

Crawford, Earl of, 99.

"Crawls," The, Estate named, 22.

Creslow Manor House, Mysterious Room at, 105, 106.

Crichton Chancellor, Banquet given by, 80, 81.

Cuckfield Place, 180, 181.

Cullen, Viscount, Marriage Feast of, 69-71.

Cunliffes, The, of Billington, 105

Curious Secrets, 135-153.

Curses: M'Alister Family, 2-5;
  The Curse of Moy, 6-9;
  Idiot's Curse, 9, 10;
  Quaker's Curse, 10-12;
  A Shepherd's Curse on Sir J. Arundell, 12, 13;
  Curse on the Family of Mar, 14-17;
  On Sherborne Castle, 17-19;
  On Cowdray Castle, 19, 20;
  The Curse of Furvie, 23;
  Of Ettrick Hall, 24, 25;
  On the Earl of Home, 25;
  Of Edmund, King of the East Angles, 26;
  On Capt. Molloy, 26, 27;
  The Midwife's Curse, 27, 28.

Dalrymple, Janet, 52-56.

Dalzell, Gen., 85, 86.

Danby Hall, Secret Room at, 98.

Danesfield, Withered Hand at, 161.

Darrells, The, of Littlecote House, 106-108.

Dauntesey, Eustace, Story of, 173-176.

Dead Hand, The, 154-161.

Death Omens, 180-191.

Deloraine, Countess of, 295.

D'Eon, Chevalier, in Woman's Attire, 220-222.

Derwentwater, Lord, Execution of, 130, 131.

Despencer, Lord le, 259, 260.

Devil Compacts, 162-179.

"Devil upon Dun" Public House, Story of the, 163, 164.

"Dickie," Skull called, at Tunstead, 33, 34.

Dickens, Chas., Original of Miss Havisham, 50, 51.

Dilston Groves, Ghost of the, 131

Disappearances, Extraordinary, 229-252.

Disguise, Romance of, 208-228.

Dobells, Seat of the, 97.

Doggett, Wm., Suicide of, 121.

Don Carlos, Col. Fred. Burnaby and, 212, 213.

Doughty, Sir Edward, 23;
  Vow made by, 64.

Douglas, Sir James, and the Heart of Robert Bruce, 257, 258.

Douglas, Earl of, at Sir A. Livingstone's Banquet, 80, 81.

Downes, Roger, of Wardley Hall, 37-40.

Dragon at Bromfield, Story of, 268, 269.

Drake, Sir Francis, Befriended by the Devil, 170-173.

Draycot, Walter Long of, 141-144.

Drinking Glass in possession of Sir George Musgrave, 202, 203.

Drummer, Mysterious, at Cortachy Castle, 189, 190.

Duckett, Justice, 11-12.

Dunbar, David, and Jane Dalrymple, 53-56.

Dundas, Laird named, Lord Hopetoun and, 84, 85.


Eagle's Crag, Lady Sybil and the, 168-170.

"Earl Beardie," 99.

Eastbury House, Blood Stains at, 121.

Easterton Ghost, The, 123, 124.

East Lavington, Mysterious Crime at, 123, 124.

Eccentric Vows, 46-68.

Eden Hall, Tradition relating to, 202, 203.

Edgewell Oak, Tradition, 181.

Edgeworth, Col., 67.

Edinburgh, Mysterious Crime at; Sir Walter Scott and, 108-110.

Edmund, King of the East Angles, 25, 26.

Edward, Lord Bruce, Heart of, 254

Edward, Lord Windsor, The Body of, 259.

Edward the Confessor and Earl Godwin, 79, 80.

Edward I., The Heart of, 256, 257.

Edward II., The Murder of, 88, 89.

Eleanor, Duchess of Buckingham, 255.

Ellesmere, Countess of, and the Wardley Hall Skull, 40.

Elizabeth, Queen, and Sir Henry Lee, 47, 48.

Erskine, Mr. Thomas, 287.

Erskine of Mar, The, 16.

Ettrick Hall, Curse of, 24, 25.

Evans, Right Hon. George, Tale of, 71-73.

Evelyn's "Diary," and Ham House, Weybridge, 95.

Exeter, Coins found in, 268.

Extraordinary Disappearances, 229-252.


Family Death Omens, 180-198.

Fanshaw, Lady, Strange Spectre of, 192.

Fardell, Stone at, 271.

Fatal Curses, 1-28.

Fatal Passion, 289-307.

Ferguson, Agnes, Disappearance of, 235, 236.

"Field of Forty Footsteps," Tale of the, 128, 129.

Fielding, Beau, and Robert Perceval, 150, 151.

Flamsteed, the Astronomer, 281.

Foote, Accident to, 283.

Forrester, First Lord, 290, 291.

Foulis, Mr. Robert, 280.

Fox, George, at Armscott Manor, 96.

Freke, Sir Ralph, Daughter of, 71-73.

Furness Abbey, Romance of, 56-58.

Furvie, Curse of, 23.


Galeazzo of Mantua, Ball given by, 49.

Garnet, Father, 91, 93.

Garnett, Dr. Richard, and Skull at Bottiscombe, 30-32.

Garrick, David, and Agnes Ferguson, 235, 236.

Garswood, "Dead Hand" at, 160.

Gascoyne, Sir Crisp, 240.

Gladstone, Mr., Address on Wedgwood's Life, 281.

Glamis Castle, Tradition relating to, 98-103.

Goblet in possession of Colonel Wilks, 201, 202.

Godwin, Earl, Edward the Confessor and, 79, 80.

Goldbridge, 26.

Goodere, Sir John, Murder of, 82, 83.

Gordon, Mr., of Ardoch Castle, Daughters of, 285-288.

Gordon Castle, Tree at, 182.

Grayrigg Hall, 11, 12.

Grey, Dr. Z., and Bust of Charles I., 133, 134.

Guisboro' Priory, The Monks of, 274.

Gunpowder Conspirators, The, at Hendlip Hall, 92, 93.

Gunwalloe Parish Church, Tradition relating to, 64, 65.


Haddon Hall, "Dorothy Vernon's Door" at, 213-215.

Haigh Hall, Romance associated with, 246-248.

Hale, Sir Matthew, in Disguise, 227, 228.

Ham House, Weybridge, Secret Rooms at, 95.

Hand, The Dead, 154-161.

Hannen, Sir James, and the case of de Niceville, 265

Hapton Tower, 168, 169.

Harper, Story of an old Irish, 271, 272.

Harpham Hall, 41, 42.

Harrington, Sir John, 18.

Hastings Priory, Skulls from, 32.

Havisham, Miss, The original of, 50, 51.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and the Legend of "The Bloody Footsteps," 115, 116.

Heart Burial on the Continent, 260.

Hearts, Honoured, 253-262.

Helston, Mother, a Lancashire witch, 169.

Hendlip Hall, Secret Room at, 91-93.

Herbert, Sir Richard, at the Battle of Edgcot Field, 5, 6.

Hermitage Castle, Story of, 166;
  Treasures Hidden in, 270, 271, 276.

Hidden Money and Treasure, Traditions _re_, 268-278.

Hill, Captain R., 301-303.

Hoby, Sir Thomas, 123.

Holland House, Room at, 120.

Holyrood Palace, Blood Stains on floor of, 117.

Home of Cowdenknowes, Family of, 25.

Honoured Hearts, 253-262.

Hopetoun, Earl, and Laird named Dundas, 84, 85.

Horndon-on-the-Hill Church, 254, 255.

Howe, Mr., Strange Disappearance of, 244-246.

Howe, Lord, and "John Taylor," 211.

Howgill, Francis, a Noted Quaker, 10-12.

Hoxne, Tradition at, 26.

Hulme Hall, Legend connected with, 269, 270.

Hume's "History of the House of Douglas," 81.

Hungerford, Vault of the, 256.


Idiot's Curse, The, 9, 10.

Indelible Blood Stains, 114-134.

Indre, M'Alister, Curse of, 2-5.

Ingatestone Hall, Strange Room at, 94.

"Ingoldsby Legends," Dead Hand mentioned in, 160, 161.

Iron Chest in Ireland, Story of an, 205, 206.

Isabella, Countess of Northampton, 256.

Isabella Eugenia, of the Netherlands, 46, 47.

Isabella, Queen, 49.

Ithon, John de, Story of, 178, 179.


James II., The Heart of, 259.

Jerratt, Lady, Ghost Story of, 119, 120.

Joan, Queen of Naples, 49.

Johnson, Dr., Conversations with a Man in Woman's attire, 224.

Joinville, Count Louis, 138-140.

Jones, Molly, Sir Wm. Kyte and, 298-300.


"Katie Neevie's Hoard," 271.

Kellie, The two Countesses of, 285-288.

Kempenfeldt, Admiral, 182.

Kersal Hall, Romantic Story of, 173-176.

Kilburn Priory, Legend connected with, 126, 127.

Kirdford, Piece of Ground at, 128.

Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, Family of, 183-185.

Knevett, Lord, Murder of, 118.

Konigsmark, Count, 300.

Kyte, Sir Wm., and Molly Jones, 298-300.


Lally, John, A Piper, 77, 78.

Lecky, Mr., and Devil Compacts in the Fourteenth Century, 163.

Lee, Sir Henry, Queen Elizabeth and, 47, 48.

Leech, John, Strange Story of, 175, 176.

Lefanu, Mrs., Story of "The Banshee," 193.

Legend of the Robber's Grave, 129, 130.

Leigh, Lord, Charge of Murder against, 152, 153.

Lincoln Cathedral, Blood Stains at, 118, 119.

Lincolnshire, Strange Disappearance at a Marriage in 1750, 230.

Lindsays, The, 101.

Littlecote House, Mysterious Crime at, 106-108.

Livingstone, Sir A., Banquet given by, 80, 81.

Long, Walter, of Draycot, 141-144.

Long, Sir Walter, Story of his Widow, 206, 207.

Louis XIV., Burial of Heart of, 261.

Lovat, Lord, Story of, 206.

Lovel, Lord, Disappearance of his Bride, 234.

Lovell, Lord, The Mysterious Death of, 89, 90.

"Luck of Muncaster," The, 203-205.

Lucky Accidents, 279-288.

Lynton Castle, Tradition relating to, 62-64.


Mab's Cross, near Wigan, 248.

M'Alister Family, Curse of the, 2-5.

McClean, Family of, 195.

Macfarlane, Mrs., Secret relating to, 146-149.

Mackenzie, Maria, 295.

Macleod, Dr. Norman, Anecdote told by, 66, 67.

Magdalene College, Oxford, Cup found at, 274.

Maguire, Col., and Lady Cathcart, 236-238.

Malsanger, House at, 234, 235.

Manners, John, and Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall, 214, 215.

Manor House at Darlington, 119.

Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice, and the Chevalier D'Eon, 221.

Mar, The Earl of, 14-17.

Market Parsonage, Mysterious crime at, 123, 124.

Marlborough, Duchess of, and Congreve, 86.

Marsh, George, the martyr, 116.

Marwell Old Hall, Traditions _re_, 234.

Mary Queen of Scots at Chartley Park, 189.

Matthews, C.J., the actor, 284.

Mazarin, Cardinal, Heart of, 262.

Medicis, Marie de, Heart of, 261.

Medicis, Queen Catherine de, Story of, 177, 178.

Merton College, Oxford, Pictures discovered at, 273.

Mertoun, Stephen de, Murder committed by, 126, 127.

Middleton Family in Yorkshire, 197.

Midwife's Curse, The, 27, 28.

Millbanke, Miss, Lord Byron and, 196, 197.

Mills, Anne, the female sailor, 209.

Misers' Hoards, 272, 273.

Missing Wills, 267.

"Mistletoe Bough," The (song), 234.

Modena, The Duke of, 85, 86.

Mohun, Lord, 301, 302.

"Moiva Borb" (song), 272.

Molloy, Captain, of H.M.S. "Cæsar," 26, 27.

Montagues, The, and Sherborne Castle, 18;
  and Cowdray Castle, 19.

Montgomery Church Walls, Tale of, 129, 130.

Morley, Sir Oswald, 269.

Mountford, Wm., Murder of, 301-303.

Moy, The Curse of, 6-9.

Muncaster Castle, Room at, 203-205.

Musgrave, Sir George, 202, 203.

Mysterious Rooms, 88-113.


Newborough, Lady, Romantic Story relating to, 136-140.

Netherall, Secret Room at, 98.

Newstead Abbey, Skull at, 44, 45;
  Spectre of, 196;
  Lord Byron's Heart at, 260.

Niceville A.A. de, 265, 266.

Nimmo, Mrs., 290-293.

Northam Tower, Spectre at, 119.

Northumberland, Duke of, The Eleventh Daughter of the, 300, 301.

Nugent, Lord, "Memorials of Hampden," 90, 91.


Ogilvies, The, 101.

Omens, Family Death, 180-198.

Ormesby, Treasure found at the Vicarage House of, 274.

Osbaldeston Hall, Tradition relating to, 83, 84.

Oulton House, Tragedy at, 303.

Overbury, Sir Thomas, Murder of, 19.

Owls, The Family of Arundel of Wardour and, 185.

Oxenham Family, Death Warning of the, 185-187.


Page, Murderer of a Jew named Abrams, 251, 252.

Paré, Ambrose, the Surgeon, 285.

Parma, Duke of, and Baron Ward, 284.

Passion, Fatal, 289-307.

Payne, Col. Stephen, Curse on, 27, 28.

Pear, The Coalstoun, 199-201.

Pembroke, Earl of, at the Battle of Edgcot Fields, 5, 6.

Pennington, Sir John, 204.

Perceval, Robert, Strange Death of, 150-152.

Phillipson, Myles, 35-37.

Pitt, Wm., Accident to, 283.

Plaish Hall, Legendary Tale connected with, 132.

Poe, Edgar A., "Masque of the Red Death," 73-75.

Political Vows, 68.

Pope's Satire, 282.

Possessions, Weird, 199-207.

Poyntz, Mr. Stephen, 21.

Prestwich, Sir Thomas, 269, 270.

Price, Mr., 295.

Prophecy relating to Cowdray Castle, 19, 20.

Pudsey, Bishop, 119.


Quaker's Curse, The, 10-12.


Radcliffe, Tragedy at, 293, 294.

Radclyffe, Sir Wm. de, 293, 294.

"Radiant Boy" of Corby Castle, 196.

Raffles, Dr., Amusing Story in the Life of, 233, 234.

Raleigh, Sir Walter, and Sherborne Castle, 18, 19;
  Seat at Fardell, 271.

Rawlinson, Dr. R., The Heart of, 259.

Richard I., The Heart of, 258.

Rizzio, Murder of, 117.

Robinson, Nicholas, Disappearance of, 241-243.

Roby's "Traditions of Lancashire:" The "Dead Hand" at Bryn Hall, 157, 158;
  and the "Luck of Muncaster," 204, 205.

Roderham, Robert de, Story of, 178, 179.

Romance of Wealth, 263-278.

"Rookwood Hall," Ainsworth's, 180, 181.

Rooms, Mysterious, 88-113.

Roslin, the Lords of, Traditions regarding, 190, 191.

_Royal George_, Sinking of the, 182.

Rushen Castle, Secret Room at, 103-105.

Rushton, The Duke's Room at, 70.

Russell, of Streatham, in Women's attire, 222-224.

Russell, Lady, of Bisham Abbey, 122, 123.

Rutherford, Lord, and Janet Dalrymple, 52-56.


St. Antony, Church of, in Cornwall, Tradition Relating to, 64.

St. Denis' Blood, Belief relating to, 127.

St. Foix, Account of Ceremonial after the Death of a King
 of France, 86, 87.

St. Louis, Queen of, Vow by the, 65.

St. Michael's Mount, Sir J. Arundell and, 13.

Samlesbury Hall, Vow Relating to, 58-60.

Scarborough, Second Earl of, Death of, 144-146.

Scotland, Legends _re_ Hidden Treasures in, 270, 271, 276.

Scott, Sir Robert, of Thirlestane, Second wife of, 77, 78.

Scott, Sir Walter, Vow by an Ancestor of, Accident to, 68, 280;
  and the Mysterious Crime at Littlecote House, 108;
  at Edinburgh, 108-110;
  and the Murder of Rizzio, 117;
  and the Clan of Tweedie, 249.

Scott, Sir Walter, "Antiquary," 155.

Scott, Sir Walter, "Peveril of the Peak," 149, 195.

Scott, Sir Walter, "Tales of a Grandfather," 117.

Scott, Sir Walter, "The Betrothed," 248.

Scott, Sir Walter, "The Bride of Lammermoor," 55, 56.

Scott, Sir Walter, and "The Curse of Moy," 6-9.

Scott, Sir Walter, "Waverley," The Bodach Glass in, 193-195.

"Scottish Hogarth," The, 279, 280.

Screaming Skulls, 29-45.

Secrets, Curious, 135-153.

Sedgley, Vow made by a Parishioner of, 66, 67.

Servian Patriots, The, 68.

Sharp, Lieut., 304-306.

Shelley, The Poet, Heart of, 260, 261.

"Shepherd Lad," Lord Clifford as the, 224-227.

Sherborne Castle, Curse of, 17-19.

Sheriff-Muir, Battle of, 5, 15.

Shonkes, Piers, Tomb of, 166.

Shropshire, Buried Well in, 276.

Shuckburgh Hall, Tragedy at, 304-306.

Sikes, Wirt, Anecdote of a Skull, 43, 44.

Simpson, Christopher, Murder of, 115.

Skull, The Screaming, 29-45.

Skull House, near Turton Tower, Bolton, 34, 35.

Smithell's Hall, 115, 116.

Soulis, Lord, Compact with the Devil, 166-168.

Southey, Anecdote recorded by, 96.

Southey and "The Brothers' Steps," 128, 129.

Southey's "Thalaba, the Destroyer," 154, 155.

Southworth, Sir John, Daughter of, 58-60.

Spectre, Lady Fanshaw's strange, 192.

Spectre of the "Buckland Shag," 124-126.

Stair, Lord, Daughter of the first, 52-56.

Stamer, Col., Daughter of, 71-73

Stoke d'Abernon, Monument in the Church of, 56.

Stokesay Castle, Treasure at, 277.

Stoneleigh Abbey, 152, 153.

Strathmore, Lord, of Glamis Castle, 98-103.

Street Place, Old House called, 97.

Swans of Closeburn, The, 184, 185.

"Sweet Heart Abbey," 256.

Swinton, Sir John, 146-149.

Sybil, Lady, and the Eagle's Crag, 168-170.


Talbot, Mary Anne as "John Taylor," sailor, 209-212.

Talleyrand, Accident to, 280.

"Taylor, John," _alias_ Mary Anne Talbot, 209-212.

Thirlestone, Lady, 77-78.

Thomas the Rhymer, 75.

Thorpe Hall, The "Green Lady" of, 215, 216.

Thrale, Mr., of Streatham Park, 223, 224.

Thynne, Sir Egremont, 141-144.

Thynne of Longleat, Murder of, 300.

Tichborne, Sir Henry, 21.

Tichborne, Lady Mabelle, 21-23.

Tichborne Trial, The Great, 21-23, 64.

"Tiger Earl," The, 99.

Timberbottom, Skull at Farmhouse called, 34, 35.

Towneley, Charles, 10.

Treasures concealed in the Earth, 267, 268.

Tremeirchon Church, 165.

Trentham, Elizabeth, Viscount Cullen and, 69-71.

Trent, Manor House at, Strange Chamber in, 96, 97.

Tufnell Park, Find of Gold at, 278.

Tunstead, Skull at, 33, 34.

Tweedie, The Clan of, 249, 250.


Vardon, Douce, a Midwife, 28.

Vavasour, Mrs. A., and Sir Henry Lee, 48.

Venice, Statue at, 65, 66.

Vernons of Hanbury, Cecil, Earl of Exeter, and one of the, 217-220.

Vienna, The Church of St. Charles, 65.

Vincent, Family of, at Stoke d'Abernon, 56.

Voltaire, Vow in one of his Romances, 51, 52.

Vows, Eccentric, 46-68.


Wakefield Mills, The, 130.

Walpole and Berkeley Castle, 88, 89.

Ward, Baron, 284.

Wardley Hall, Skull at, 37-40.

Wealth, Romance of, 263-278.

Wedgwood, Josiah, 280, 281.

Weird Possessions, 199-207.

Wellington, Duke of, Strange belief on the occasion of his funeral, 198.

Wells, "Mother," 240, 241.

Wesley, John, and the game of whist, 67, 68.

Westminster Abbey, Hearts of Illustrious Personages at, 253.

Whitehead, Paul, The Heart of, 259, 260.

Widow's Curse, The, 2-5.

Wilkinson, Tate, 67, 68.

Wilks, Col., Heirloom in possession of, 201, 202.

Wills, Missing, 267.

Witches' Horseblock, The, 168-170.

Wordsworth's "Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle," 225-227.

Wye Coller Hall, Room at, 105.


       *       *       *       *       *

Typos corrected in text:

Page 53: 'Jane' corrected to 'Janet'.
Page 143: 'suddedly' corrected to 'suddenly'.
Page 190: 'fulful' corrected to 'fulfil'.
Page 219: 'accompany-' corrected to 'accompanying'.
Page 269: 'various others localities' corrected to 'various other
localities'.
Page 279: 'playes' corrected to 'players'.
Page 281: 'De Sphoera' corrected to 'De Sphæra' [On the basis of
information found here: www.hps.cam.ac.uk/starry/sacrobosco.html].
Page 294: 'call' corrected to 'called'.

       *       *       *       *       *





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