Imatges de pàgina
[ocr errors]

exchange of courtesies, which neither was willing to commence. Almost in the minute of their arrival the castle-bell tolled, the gates of the Palace were opened, and the Earls entered, each numerously attended by such gentlemen of their train, whose rank gave them that privilege. The yeomen and inferior attendants remained in thecourtyard, where the opposite parties eyed each other with looks of eager hatred and scorn, as if waiting with impatience for some cause of tumult, or some apology for mutual aggression. But they were restrained by the strict commands of their leaders, and overawed, perhaps, by the presence of an armed guard of unusual strength.

In the meanwhile, the more distinguished persons of each train followed their patrons into the lofty halls and anti-chambers of the royal Palace, flowing on in the same current, like two streams which are compelled into the same channel, yet shun to mix their waters. The parties arranged themselves, as it were instinctively, on the different sides of the lofty apartments, and seemed eager to escape from the transient union which the narrowness of the crowded entrance had for an in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

stant compelled them to submit to. The folding doors at the upper end of the long gallery were immediately afterwards opened, and it was announced in a whisper that the Queen was in her presence-chamber, to which these gave access. Both Earls moved slow and stately towards the entrance; Sussex followed by Tressilian, Blount, and Raleigh, and Leicester by Varney. The pride of Leicester was obliged to give way to courtforms, and with a grave and formal inclination of the head, he paused until his rival, a peer of older creation than his own, passed before him. Sussex returned the reverence with the same formal civility, and entered the presence-room. Tressilian and Blount offered to follow him, but were not permitted, the Usher of the Black Rod alleging in excuse, that he had precise orders to look to all admissions that day. To Raleigh, who stood back on the repulse of his companions, he said, “You,sir, may enter," and he entered accordingly.

“ Follow me close, Varney,” said the Earl of Leicester, who had stood aloof for a moment to mark the reception of Sussex; and, advancing to the entrance, he was about to pass on, when Var

ney, who was close behind him, dressed out in the utmost bravery of the day, was stopped by the usher, as Tressilian and Blount had been before him. “How is this, Master Bowyer ?” said the Earl of Leicester ; '“ Know you who I am, and that this is my friend and follower ?”

“Your lordship will pardon me," replied Bowyer, stoutly, “ my orders are precise, and limit me to a strict discharge of my duty.” ,:56 Thou art a partial knave," said Leicester, the blood mounting to his face, “ to do me this dishonour, when you but now admitted a follower of my Lord of Sussex.”

“ My lord,” said Bowyer, “ Master Raleigh is newly admitted a sworn servant of her Grace, and to him my orders do not apply." ;

65 Thou art a knave-an ungrateful knave," said Leicester; “ but he that hath done, can undo thou shalt not prank thee in thy authority · long !". . · His threat he uttered aloud, with less than his usual policy and discretion, and having done so, he entered the presence-chamber, and made his · reverence to the Queen, who, attired with even

more than her usual splendour, and surrounded by those nobles and statesmen whose courage and wisdom have rendered her reign immortal, stood ready to receive the homage of her subjects. She graciously returned the obeisance of the favourite Earl, and looked alternately at him and at Sussex, as if about to speak, when Bowyer, a man whose spirit could not brook the insult he had so openly received from Leicester, in the discharge of his office, advanced with his black rod in his hand, and knelt down before her.

« Why, how now, Bowyer,” said Elizabeth, “ thy courtesy seems strangely timed !"

“ My Liege Sovereign,” he said, while every courtier around trembled at his audacity, “ I come but to ask, whether, in the discharge of mine office, I am to obey your Highness's commands, or those of the Earl of Leicester, who has publicly menaced me with his displeasure, and treated me with disparaging terms, because I denied entry to one of his followers, in obedience to your Grace's precise orders.”

The spirit of Henry VIII. was instantly aroused in the bosom of his daughter, and she turned

on Leicester with a severity which appalled him, as well as all his followers. .

's $,“ God's death, my lord,” such was her emphatic phrase, “ what means this? We have though well of you, and brought you near to our person; but it was not that you might hide the sun from our other faithful subjects. Who gave you license to contradict our orders, or controul our officers ? I will have in this court, ay, and in this realm, but one mistress, and no master. Look to it that Master Bowyer sustains no harm for his duty to me faithfully discharged; for, as I am Christian woman and crowned Queen, I will hold you dearly answerable. Go, Bowyer, you have done the part of an honest man and a true subject. We will brook uo mayor of the palace here."

Bowyer kissed the hand: wlnich she extended towards him, and withdrew to his post;, astonished at the success of his own audacity. "A smile of triumph pervaded the faction of Sussex ; that of Leicester seemed proportionally dismayed, and the favourite himself, assuming an aspect of the deepest humility, did not even attempt a word in liis own exculpation."

VOL 11,

« AnteriorContinua »