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I, BENJAMIN HOLBECK,
AND HOW I FARED AT THE SIEGE OF PLYMOUTH,
TRANSLATED INTO VICTORIAN ENGLISH BY M. A. Paull,
duthor of “ Friar Hildebrand's Cross," dc. dc.
CHAPTER XIX.-A View of
the King. VENTS of moment soon
followed our return from Cornwall. While the Lord Essex and his forces were in that county, and we pressed our advance forward as far as Bodmin, Lostwithiel, and Fowey, the General's head quarters were at the seat of Lord Robartes, Lanhydrock, and on the 11th of September, less than a fortnight after our return, this kinsman of Mrs. Tonkin was appointed Governor of Plymouth, to her no small satisfaction, and to the yet greater content of Mr. Tonkin, who cannot forget to speak of it, whenever I see him. Lord Robartes is a man in the very prime of life, just forty years of age, of whom
an enemy has said that “he PRINCE RUPERT AND THE COUNTRYMAN.
must be overcome before he
would believe that he could be so;" that he is “a great opiniatre," and " of a sour and surly nature.” But truly we want a man who does not believe in defeat, and amongst his friends who know him best, he is thought to be very clever, and, what is still better, a most noble, religious, and pious lord.
Between our Governor and Sir Richard Grenville there is no very good feeling. The day before Lord Robartes was appointed, the army of the malignants marched to Roborough, where they camped, this being a fine open down. Hence their Sir John Campsfield, with the Queen's regiment of horse, was
No. 21.-JUNE, 1883.
sent to demonstrate against our town, which, per- Now I had a nearer view of King Charles than ceiving, a detachment of our forces was ordered to I had ever expected to have, for I was, being an follow his return at a less respectful distance than officer, taken to Widey Court, the King's headquarters, was convenient.
to the house of a yeoman of good estate, named The next day their army marched upon us, making Heales. There I was very civilly and fairly treated, a gallant show enongh, for they bedecked themselves and my wound, a bad sword-cut in my right shoul. with much bravery in dress and accoutrements, and der, was attended to by one of their doctors. Prince poured down, fifteen thousand strong, upon the slopes Maurice had his headquarters at Lipson, and there of Mannamead and Compton, with drums beating was much riding to and fro with messages between and colours flying. Though I had beheld them in uncle and nephew, horses galloping at all hours of Cornwall, yet never had I such a good view of them day and night in hot haste up and down the long as now, looking at them from our fort at Maudlyn. winding path from Widey Court house to the main They wear plumed hats or helmets, under which their road from Tavistock to Plymouth. I had heard much long locks How in the breeze, with one long tress, of this abode, and had been curious to see it, it having which they fantastically call their love-lock, waving been placed at the service of the malignants from the over their left shoulder. Over their buff coat or bright beginning. No better retreat so close to the town cuirass is spread a wide lace collar, curiously rich, could have been chosen for the headquarters of the but little in keeping, as I think, with the day's work King, it being only some two and a half miles distant, in war time. A brilliant scarf is always sashed but yet completely shut in from possible danger. across the breast, sometimes of embroidered work, The house itself stands on a gentle knoll, well surthe gift oftentimes, I doubt not, of fair maidens, skilful rounded with trees, the ground opposite it sloping in these matters as Lucy Woollcombe, or the daugh. upwards so as to hide the distant view of the sea ters of Mrs. Tonkin, or ladies of yet higher birth. which lies in that direction, and so as to form indeed Their fringed trousers descend below the knee, and a sort of natural earthwork and defence. I could they wear the large cavalry boots, not unlike our but think seriously as I rode along, & prisoner,
The short cloaks they wear and the doublets guarded on either side, and weaponless; and this are common to both our armies, but though these are made me reflect, perhaps, with more sympathy on the alike, and our fashion like theirs is to cultivate the position of the King, which is, at the best, critical and beard and moustache, yet we do eschew the feminine humiliating for a sovereign. senseless curls of these fine gentlemen, who look, so There is nothing in his appearance to make me far as their hair is concerned, more like pretty girls believe he regards affairs lightly. It may easily be than armed warriors. Armour of many kinds and believed that I could not refrain from looking at him patterns, that has been hanging on the walls of their anxiously and earnestly whenever I had the opporold castles and fortified houses, is now brought out tunity, and this was not unfrequent. My parole was and worn by these Cavaliers, which makes a fine given that I would not go beyond a fair garden enough show; but our dress, for duty and for work, belonging to this goodly mansion, to which parterre far exceeds theirs in usefulness and service.
is given the name of the Castle Garden, and this On this day there came riding with the King the being done, I was taken less heed of than I expected. brilliant troop of his Guards, who are composed, it is My lodging was a very small and somewhat bare said, of all the noble and wealthy Cavaliers who hold chamber overlooking the grounds, and from it I no separate command. These were clad all over in beheld many things of interest to me; for I saw the armour save the boots and plumed hats, and they had King ride out several mornings attended by his chief splendid sword-belts and scarves of scarlet colour officers, and very often by the Prince Maurice also, a (ours are of orange), making a brave array. The young man of goodly countenance and martial King's standard was borne in the ranks, to which ours bearing, a soldier from his youth, though not of quite might well be opposed, seeing that our five buff so fiery a spirit as his elder brother, Prince Rupert, Bibles on the black ground show well the source of whose name is dreaded, I am told, in every quiet our strength, and our motto in gold beneath, “God English household. with us," will serve us in better stead than the The King's countenance is very sad, his face under honours to any earthly king.
his plumed hat is handsome, and would be manly And we received them fearlessly, not moved from were it not for a certain vagueness and irresoluteour position by the brilliant spectacle, and our ness that are to be seen in it. When he lifts his hat cannons began to open fire. The Cavaliers were not and I can see his forehead, which is high, there is easily daunted; their twenty-eight great guns were more of admirable in his countenance. He wears & brought forward and planted within half cannon shot moustache and peaked beard, and the accustomed of the outworks, and the battle began. In that battle long curls of the Cavaliers. His hands are as soft I felt as I had never felt before ; the war was become and white as a girl's, and his mien very gracious and a personal war-my father had to be avenged! The refined, and there is a grand, quiet dignity in his air cause of God was the cause for which he fought, for that I never saw anything like before. I have found which he was slain ; victory for that cause was my one myself often wishing that his behaviour in all things passion that day. One and another fell before my had been equal to his outward appearance, so that I fierce onslaught, and still I dashed forward to the might have echoed what I have heard him called fight. I would have scorned to give or take quarter many times at Widey Court, “every inch a kin as I thought of the pale, still form lying on Marston He has had the ill-luck, I am told, to have had ma y Moor, and the desolated home at Brier Grange. But evil advisers, and the Queen is by no means a good I was overwhelmed by numbers, wounded, and taken wife to him in this respect, and he is too prone to prisoner by one of the King's guards.
take their advice, and to trust his affairs to unprin
How I Fared at the Siege of Plymouth.
cipled men. Also, he is very sanguine of success, too, could she have seen him, and had there been no even when he has no ground whatever to be so, and battle of Marston Moor. believes that his high station will preserve him from But the soldiers had grown hard, and daily he many evils.
was received with a salute of shotted shells from our These ideas are childish and unkingly to my mind, guns at Maudlyn Fort. And Tom, with ready though not, I suppose, to his. Worthiness seems bumour, re-christened Mannamead, from this brave to me to be the only preservative from disaster, useless show and idle vauntings, “Vapouring Hill,” whether in a king or a clown. Here, as well as at a name that sticks. other places, there are people anxious to be touched Then one day there was much stir and bustle at by him for the disease called “ king's evil,” which his Widey, and the King went to walk alone in the castle touch is able, say they, to cure, and quite a little garden with his nephew Maurice, as his manner had procession may have been seen of sick and afflicted been each morning, amongst the pleasant autumn ones each morning he was at Widey, coming up the flowers; for this garden was very gay with golden path to the house for that purpose. Now it is the rod, tall and large enough to have served indeed in “ king's evil” that we hope to cure more promptly Aaron's hand for the rod that budded, and white and and effectually, by far different measures, and therein purple clematis hung over the walls in thick masses, we shall succeed; and yet not we ourselves, but the like tangled hair, and great cabbage-roses smelled Lord, working in us.
sweetly, while bachelors' buttons, and dahlias, and I found afterwards that Lord Digby, who was marigolds supplied plenty of colour, though without with the King, made a private appeal to Lord much perfume. The Michaelmas daisies were out Robartes to betray his trust and surrender the town too, as became their season, and the bunches of to the King, offering him on his Majesty's behalf lavender stood stiffly up before heaven in the modest preferment and honour if he would yield; but to this pride of usefulness. Lord Robartes replied indignantly enough.
What were the King's thoughts that morning as he The King sent from Widey, this summons to our rested his gaze on the flowers close to his hands, or town: “God baving given me a great victory, yet as the autumn-tinted trees and the fair green slopes my desire is to reduce my people by acts of grace and that bounded his view ? His eyes wandered away clemency, so I am desirous of setting a special mark from his companion often as they paced to and fro, of favour on my town of Plymouth, and do therefore to and fro, and I watched them intently from my require them to surrender up the town, assuring them, little window. Was he thinking, perchance, of the on the word of a king, that they shall enjoy all their town he called his own, yonder, which so deterwonted privileges, and have no other garrisons put minedly held out against him, refusing its allegiance, upon them than what they had in the most peaceful and willing to resist stoutly, even unto death? times, viz., in the fort and in the island, promising There is much about Plymouth that might make pardon to all townsmen and soldiers for what is past, any king sorry to lose it from his grasp.
The entertaining such as shall be willing in my service, history of the place is interwoven with the history and requiring their speedy answer."
of England itself. Though the reply to this was not sent very My thoughts were interrupted by the little bustle speedily, there being many to be consulted thereon, that now took place in the court below. A lady, yet it was very decided at last. A drummer was sent closely shrouded, rather than veiled, in an ample by the Royalists after the trumpeter who brought the shawl of silken material, that fell in soft folds around message, and the next day both returned, with a hint her light small form, drew near the person of his to the trumpeter that if he came again he would be Majesty, and yet shrunk back, as if appalled at her hanged. And the answer to the King, couched civilly own boldness. Behind her, closely following her enough, meant only "No."
every motion, only as an elephant might imitate a So then, neither town nor Governor yielding, fight- gazelle, was the square stolid figure of a woman, ing began again, and a desperate attack was made on evidently her attendant. our western line of defence by Stonehouse and Could I be in doubt ? No. My heart beat fast; Pennycomequick, but the King's troops were repulsed they were, indeed, Lucy Woollcombe and Bridget. with great loss. Our sailors for the Parliament's fleet, How fair, how graceful was every attitude, every under Lord Warwick, still lay in the Sound, and action of this sweet woman who held my heart in were especially notable for their gallantry. Several her keeping. When the King turned to her with an nights the Cavaliers gave alarms to the garrison, and easy yet not unkingly grace, and a sad smile on his there was much sharp fighting while I was prisoner handsome face, and raised her from her knees on at Widey.
which she had fallen before him, I heard a soft low, I understood afterwards the reason of the daily wail of love, entreaty, sympathy blended, from Lucy's ride out from Widey Court of the King and his lips, of “Oh, my King I”. and I did not wonder officers; they proceeded each day as far as to at it. Mannamead, in grand parade, thinking, as is be- “Oh, my King !" echoed my own heart bitterly the lieved in the town, to touch the hearts or the inclina- next moment, “ professing a fatherly regard for thy tions of the soldiers, or the townspeople, or both. subjects, yet thou hast made me fatherless by the Many of them, indeed almost all of them, had thus cruellest of wars, and separated me largely by a a distant or a near view of their King, and variously thousand adverse circumstances, over which I have did his appearance affect the people. Some of the no control, from the one woman who can alone make women were somewhat captivated by his gallant home and happiness for me. Oh, my King,' if thou bearing, and his gentle manners and sad face, which could'st but have learnt that a king's true prerogative I can easily believe, for Lettice might have been so lies not in the abject submission of his subjects, but
in their honourable independent affection—an affec- • Sire, in that I did but what any true-hearted tion based on royal justice and truth !”
man would have done. I deserve no thanks.” The King gave Lucy his hand to kiss, and then “Let it pass,” said the King, with his sad smile. accorded the same privilege to her maid, Lucy inter- " I would every man in this realm were but faithful ceding for it. And then the King led my fair be- to Royalty, and then would unhappy dissensions loved one aside, and conversed with her in low tones cease from among us." for two or three minutes. I saw her point towards It came into my mind to say, “ And I would that the town, and could well believe she was excusing the King were faithful to every man,” but because he her father's absence on the score of ill-health, and was now in trouble, through our stout defence of delivering some message from him.
Plymouth, and because that it might needlessly I can't tell how it was, unless it was that I kept wound Lucy through her Sovereign, I refrained mymy eyes so irresistibly fixed upon her, and even self. that will not explain the matter---perhaps thought • Young sir,” said the King, who I knew had can command thought in ways I know not of—but, observed me closely, “ does it seem a worthy occupresently, although till then Lucy's eyes had been pation to you to resist the right bestowed by God mostly on the ground, save a few times that she upon your Sovereign, for the better government of raised them with filial reverence, and even something this realm, a right acknowledged by so many of the of holy awe to the King's face, she glanced up at my truest and the best of men ?" prison window, inadvertently, as it would seem, and “Sire," I answered, seeing that I must say some met my gaze fixed intently upon her.
what, and yet feeling that I had no power of speech I saw her small hands clasp each other tightly, adequate to my needs in so difficult a juncture, " they and a crimson flush mantle her cheek; not even the best serve your Majesty, to my thinking, who would shawl could hide that from me; a start, a smile-heal the differences between your Majesty and his was it a smile ?—and then the glance fell
. All had people, by truth and righteousness, not they who happened so swiftly, that I could decide nothing. would flatter your Majesty into believing there are Lucy was talking to the King again. Another look, no just differences to be healed.” sweet one ! even though it were a frown of dis- "Tut! tut!" said the King, impatiently, turning pleasure. Anything, my Lucy, rather than neglect, away from me. Yet Lucy, to my surprise, now for or coldness, or indifference. These I cannot bear the first time gave me a quick glance, and that of from thee.
approval. “ Lieutenant Holbeck, your presence is required But I was summoned away to put my things tobelow."
gether, and prepare for my removal. As I turned, As in a dream I obeyed the summons. I have a with a reverence to the King and to Lucy, I observed vague feeling that the trees waved and rustled some that she was in the act of handing to him a sma what in the distance, stirred by a rather fresh sealed packet. breeze, that the sky was almost cloudless, that many Then, as in a dream, the whole scene changed, people were about; and the clank, and stir, and for when I had opportunity to look from my window, bustle of preparation everywhere around. Every. in less time than a quarter of an hour, Lucy was where, save where Lucy stood with the King, and gone, as I suppose, within doors,and the royal pageant, Bridget, grim and gaunt as a wooden statue, behind the King, Prince Maurice, and their retinues, with her mistress.
their pomps and their plumes, had ridden away from “ Lieutenant Holbeck," said King Charles, in a the court-yard, and most of the people belonging to gracions tone, as I stood respectfully, my hat in my Widey had gone with them to escort them on their hand, before him. I would not be other than way. mannerly to my greatest enemy.
That same day, a few hours later, it happened as “Sire," I answered, not knowing how else to the King had said. Lucy and her maid on one horse speak to him, and stood as before, seeing Lucy, rode by my side into Plymouth, together with a few whose eyes were lowered, and whose cheeks were of our soldiers who had also been prisoners. There deepest crimson, even more than I saw the King, but were several of the officers of the malignants captives with no opportunity given to accost her.
with us, whom the King and Prince were anxious to “There is an exchange of prisoners; you will redeem. Yet the ride could give me but little ride back to your own quarters to-day."
pleasure, save in her nearness, for there was no “ I thank you, sire." I had not the remotest idea opportunity for me to speak to her without bringing whether I used the right form of expression to his on her just the kind of notice she would be most Majesty. In such sudden emergency I could do no anxious to escape. other than use those words which came the swiftest Prince Maurice did not excite so much of my to my lips.
attention as the King, nor is his person likely to This lady,” said the King then, taking Lucy's command admiration. A heavy, rather stolid young hand," and her maid, will return in your company man is the King's nephew, large and powerful, but and escort.”
with nothing of great or noble in his appearance. I bowed. “Nothing, sire, could afford me more If Prince Rupert, the bold daring brother of Maurice, pleasure than to render this lady every assistance in had been with the King, my curiosity would have my power."
led me further to see him than even his Majesty “She tells me," said the King, “ that you have himself. The stories I hear of him from our officers done her service, even to the saving of her life in and soldiers, especially those I heard from the men the past unhappy turmoil, and for that service to of Lord Fairfax's army with whom I conversed both Royalty in her person, who is a most fair and faith. here and during our expedition into Cornwall, were ful Royalist, I thank you.”
How I Fared at the Siege of Plymouth.
rather like the pages of a romance than those of as it has ever been for us, there has been little mood sober truth enacted in our days. And two or three or time for trifling. droll tales of his adventures may be written here, He made this reconnaissance to employ himself by me, for the amusement of my dear sister while the King was wasting time at Banbury and Lettice, if, indeed, her sad heart is now able to be Broughton Castle. He was attended in his exploit by amused.
only a single Cavalier trooper. This was the kind of Some two days after the skirmish which took place adventure he rejoiced in. When near Warwick, he at Worcester, at the beginning of this sad war, Prince was overtaken by a heavy shower, and took refuge Rupert came to the abode of an old woman- —a in an ale-house. There he found a country-fellow, widow-within a mile of the city, and asked her who was on his way to Warwick to sell cabbagewhat victuals she had in the house. He was not nets. dressed in the habit he wore in the field, but like a The Prince, it is said, can easily ingratiate himself country gentleman. The old woman told him she when he pleases with those about him, and he was had nothing but collops and eggs; if he pleased to soon in high favour with all the topers at the have any of them, he should be welcome. Ready inn. they were made, and he fell to, roundly. Afterwards I can readily imagine how our poor Jonathan Thorp he called for some drink, and she told him she had would listen open-mouthed, in his cups, to such a none but small drink; she was a very poor widow, fine fellow as this large, handsome Prince would and had none but herself and her son. He asked seem to be, for he of course passed himself off as a her where her son was? She told him gone to Puritan. Worcester, to hear what news of the Cavaliers, for Suddenly a thought seemed to strike him. she heard say (thank God for it) that his Excellency Hold, my good fellow," said he to the net-seller ; (Essex) had made them fly the city-a company of “I want to go to Warwick, 'and I'll sell your nets rude knaves they were ! He asked her what she for you; here's a crown for you and these good thought of Prince Rupert. “A plague choke Prince fellows to drink till I come back; for I must have Rupert!" said she ; "he might have kept himself your horse, ay, and your coat too, my friend. I where he was born; this kingdom bas been the want to put a touch on a friend of mine." worse ever since he landed.”
The countryman thought that this was at the “There's three pieces for that word,” said the same time " a good bargain and a good joke,” so he disguised Prince, " for I'm of thy mind.” With doffed his long coat and slouched old hat, and the that he took pen, ink, and paper, and wrote to the disguised Prince, having assumed them, rode forward Mayor of Worcester to this effect: he had given to the stronghold of his enemies. He soon sold his unto the bearer hereof three pieces, to conceal him nets, as the purchasers might have them at from their search, which note he did enjoin her to their own price ; he heard at the same time all sorts present with her own hand, and she should be nobly of accounts of the battle of Edgehill, which had been rewarded.
fought but a few days before, and no small share of Another time, when Essex lay at Dunsmore execration on himself, which he bore with great Heath, his yeomèn not being far off, the Prince philosophy, and apparently with relish. He ascerRupert, riding as near to our army as he durst, over- tained the strength of the Roundheads' army, and all took a fellow driving a horse laden with apples. He the approaches of the town, and then returned to asked the fellow what he had got there, who told his expectant friend at the ale-house. him he was about to sell his ware to his Excellency's Having resumed his own attire, and mounted his soldiers.
own horse, he told the countryman he might inform “Why dost thou not go to the King's army ?” in his customers in Warwick that Prince Rupert had quired the Prince ; “I hear they are generous sparks, been their salesman; that he was obliged to them and will pay double.”
for their custom, and would soon be among them to “Oh!” said the fellow, " they are Cavaliers, and supply them with something else. have a mad Prince among them, and not a penny These stories remind me of the drolls and legends could I get in the whole army."
about King Alfred, which Lettice and I have read The Prince asked him what he would take for the together a dozen times or more, only that our Saxon load, and the fellow answering, ten shillings- King's grand, quiet sweetness and patience of
Hold thy hand,” said the Prince, “there is a character is not comparable to the wild, harumpiece for thee; now hold my horse, change habit scarum, dashing ways of Prince Rupert, or Robert, with me, and stay here while I sell thy apples, as some call him, while others call him the offensive only for a merry humour that I have—and at my name of the “ Robber Prince." But I would coming back I'll give thee a piece more.”
wish to be fair to every man, and as he regards the The fellow willingly lent him his long coat and whole nation as belonging to the King, his uncle, I hat, and away went the Prince, selling the apples suppose he deems it not unjust to take what he through the army, at any rate, viewing their cannot win by demanding with the consent of the strength, and in what kind they lay; and, returning owner. to the fellow, gave him another piece, with this Yet I should be sorry if our cause had a Prince charge, “ Go to the army, and ask the commanders Rupert. War will never, I trust, be deemed a light how they liked the fruit Prince Rupert, in his own thing or a pastime by thoughtful men in this our person, did but this morning sell them !”
own dear land, as he too largely regards it. The third story is about Rupert when he made a reconnaissance towards Warwick, and this, too, was very early in the war. Perhaps since then for him,