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THE OLD HOUSE OF DARKBROTHERS. PART I,
A SOLITARY red lane or road running porters of the noble owner, wrought in through the verdant woodland of plea- solid brass, the same emblazoned in sant Warwickshire. On the right hand exuberant heraldry on the panels. are green banks, humped with huge Two footmen occupy the front seat; and grassy knolls, from which spring in the rumble behind are contained her spreading elm or large umbrageous oak, ladyship's maid and my lord's courier, the growth of centuries. On the left a Swiss by birth, with a face bronzed the ground is more flat, guarded by a to brass, physically and morally, with long, low stone wall, festooned with sun and with sauciness. Within the hanging ivy, and breached - in upon coach is the Earl of Pompadour—8 with oft-recurring gaps, the bombard. ruddy, square-faced man, with a white ments of old Time, beyond which the hat full of his large head, and a large landscape trends away into far verdant head full of nothing; beside him nods vistas, where deer wander and water his lady, a sleepy mass of silk and glistens. The road is winding, and velvet, gold chains and gauze_hard. now begins to fall towards a valley, breathing obesity, kid-leather, and which, seen from the higher ground, self - complacency. The two young presents the appearance of one wide ladies
occupy each an opposite corner ocean of waving forest foliage. And this of the carriage, and look from their is Earlsdale, an English Vallombrosa, silken recesses like incarnations of with a village embosomed in trees ; starch — prim, motionless, and overon the left, å tapering church-steeple dressed, they might be mistaken for a shoots above the wood; and, lower purchase the peer was taking home down, the grey antique of a massive from Madame Tussaud's gallery. The hold or bawn is visible, standing up handsomest animals appertaining to venerably amongst the foliage, rugged, the equipage were the four thoroughstern, and time-broken,
like the figure breds, which, ridden by two boy-posof Archibald Bell-the-Cat, illustrated tilions, swept the carriage rapidly and in stone and timber : and this is the almost noiselessly to Brockholes, the Old House of Darkbrothers. Half-way large house on the hillside before up the hill, on the opposite side of the mentioned. valley, basks and glares in the sun a And silence once more begins to as spacious mansion, built of white stone, sume her reign in the sylvan lane, when glistening with windows relieved by the dull and intermittent rumble of a green blinds, and manifestly the resi- cart, and the tramp of a horse, become dence of some person of good fortune: audible, and presently a rude and and this is Brockholes Hall. The in- motley cavalcade are seen approaching separable feature of English woodland through the trees. This was an itinescenery—the genius loci, Stillness_is rating gipsy camp, consisting of a large here in perfection; and as you wander covered wagon, drawn by an old horse along the lane on the checquered and and donkey yoked by rope-harness tomottled brick-red earth, which the gether : the rounded roof, covered with dancing leaves overhead, and the sun tarnished tin plates, and ornamented breaking through them, alternately with pendant kettles, and other loose paint like a natural encaustic pave- ironmongery, dangling from nails; dark ment, you fall into dreaminess, pro- faces, with matted, sooty hair and bright duced by the spirit of repose around eyes, peeping from the door of the you, till the quietness of the scene is vehicle; while behind the cart followed broken by a most incongruous proces- a few swarthy Zingaree men, with sion, which passes along the road be- tinker implements slung at their back, fore your musing view. First, a large, or dangling from their hand. Right yellow, swinging, shining, family-coach, on the lordly trail of the peer's equi. varnished, booted, imperialed, and page rumbled and jolted the caird's dickied before and behind; with heavy cart; and scarcely had the unmusical blue hammercloth, on both sides of demonstrations of its presence faded which are the shields, crests, and sup- off, when again the tramp of cavalry
resounded up the lane, and a lady, rapid trot of the ponies had brought her mounted on a stately black horse, and on the trail of the gipsy cart, which unattended either by companion or slowly lumbered along, occupying the servant, came in sight. She was much centre of the road, which at that part past the meridian of life-- was tall, was too narrow to suffer two carriages spare, and stern-looking. She sat her to pass abreast, except with difficulty. horse firmly and well, and with a cer- As the men looked sulky, Miss O'Dotain air of ease and command which nel was content to walk her team bewell suited her handsome aquiline hind their wagon for some time; till features, upright carriage, and glancing at last the ponies, taking umbrage at proud grey eye; the animal she rode the tintinnabulatory concert kept up was aged, but high-bred and well kept by the kettles and pans aforesaid, bePride and sorrow seemed to strive for gan to fidget, and finally to plunge in mastery in the rider's countenance, the harness. The young lady then and inflexibility was written in the despatched the eldest of her brothers to close lip, and ploughed-in amongst the beg for room to pass, but the youthful furrows which age and care had traced ambassador was received with sullen around the mouth. And this lonely contempt by the men ; and a tall and lady was Miss Jane Beaufoy, sister to raw-boned gipsy wife, who had dethe late Vicar of Earlsdale, and occu- scended from the cart, now turned on pier of the ancient hous of Dark. Miss O'Donel a face as fiery brown as brothers, to which domicile her steed a withered beech-leaf, and said, in a was now conveying her at an easy harsh, high voice, “ 'The gentles who canter. And as she disappeared among made this road made it as much for the trees, and again the sylvan road the cart as for the carriage. It is their had resumed its air of stillness, it was fault, not ours, that the young lady is fated once more to be broken by a new detained. Our horse is too tired to but gentle intruder.
be pulling to one side. We got the This was the vision of a very young crown of the causeway first, and we lady, who, sitting in a light phạton, will keep it ;” and she laughed in a guided two fiery little ponies of the short and angry way. She to whom New Forest breed, which she managed this rough speech was addressed sufwith equal adroitness and grace. She fered a momentary paleness, for she was a lovely creature, with a charming was alone in a wood with these rude expression of natural goodness, fresh- people ; but in a moment the bright ness, and truth in her appearance. colour came back to her cheek, as she She was not tall ; was lightly formed ; appeared to have formed her resoluhad very dark blue eyes, fringed with tion. The road just here suddenly long lashes ; her black hair simply ascended to meet a very lofty old braided back across her white open bridge, which spanned the river runbrow; the mouth pure, resolved, and ning through the valley. At the right finely cut; the complexion clear ; a hand, curving off the road, a bridlecountenance altogether of great sweet- path, used for watering cattle, ran ness, “indicative," as Lavater would down steep and narrow to the water's say, of modesty, intelligence and ener. edge; and a corresponding path climbgy in action. And in the tiny rumble ed the opposite hill, and joined the behind her, alternately sat or stood main road again beyond the bridge. two lively little lads, her brothers. Exhorting the children to sit fast, the And this young lady was Grace young lady now turned the ponies, with O'Donel, daughter of the present a sudden sweep, in upon this path, Vicar of Earlsdale, the Rev. Henry through a large gap, and drove them O'Donel, to whom Ireland had given rapidly down to the water, through birth, England education, Scotland a which the carriage splashed and jolted, fair but delicate wife (who had now not without danger of being upset ; been dead some years), and the Earl and now one smart application of the of Pompadour the living of Earlsdale, whip, and the spirited little animals on the death of the late incumbent, are straining up the opposite path, Mr. Beaufoy. She was returning from and in a moment are safely out on the soine charitable visit to a cottager's road, and beyond the bridge, whose wife, and was driving briskly in the key-stone the tardy wagon and its sulky direction of the village, when an ad- drivers had not yet attained to. venture befel her in the wood. The “How now! Mousy!-Beauty! Pets, do be quiet ; you are the best of good line of well-born ancestors, she seemed boys, and performed that beautifully. to have inherited little but their Sol-80! now do be quiet, and cease pride, an untameable spirit, and a few fidgeting, and get both of you into a family legends, half-fable, half-fact, nice gentle trot, that we may go quiets to console her for the advance of age, ly home to the Vicarage.”
and the world's neglect. Rumours And the Vicarage was a good mo- there were in the village that the closed dern house, spacious, roomy, and well rooms, or “the dark wing," as they furnished, standing at the end of the were cilled, contained ancestral picvillage, on a green eminence. The tures, and relics of value, especially a church was lower down in the hollow; silver collar which Cæur de Lion had while in the very depths of the valley, hung round the neck of the good about two hundred yards off the road, knight Sir Guy Martenbroke, on the stood, in the midst of a sedgy and soli- occasion of his baying transfixed three tary meadow, engirdled by a planta- Saracen knights successively in a tilttion, “ The House of Dark Brothers" yard at Acre, in acknowledgment of -an ancient monastic building, now which truly Christian transaction, his dilapidated by time.
name had been changed to Beaufoy. Out of the ruins, at some remote The late Vicar apparently possessed period, and connected with the best- but little of his ancestor's combativepreserved portion of them, a tall, ness; one would have said the organs ungraceful house had been created, of acquisitiveness and self-esteem were with immensely thick walls, long slits more in the ascendant with him. He of windows, and high doors; wide was an extremely gentlemanly man, staircases, with huge balustrades, and but somewhat of what Davie Deans broad landing-places; the hall door would term a graceless minister, more opening on a vestibule of black oak, bent on upholding his personal dignity lofty, and deriving its light from a than performing his professional du. great window over the entrance. On ties. His manner was high, his ser. the right hand ran up the old wide mons dry, his ministrations formal; staircase, while an arched passage on his visits to his flock were, like those of the left led into the cloisters, which angels, short and“ far between;" and in were wonderfully perfect, quadrate, no other ways angelic save in these and enclosing a damp, grass-grown two qualities. And thus he lived, as court, wbose centre exhibited a muti. such men do, unbeloved ; and died lated figure of stone, called by the unlamented, save by his sister, who, country people “ The Black Angel," on his decease, came to reside at Dark but in reality a statue of Time, minus brothers, renting it from Lord Poma nose, leg, and wing, which had been padour, and keeping up so straitened carried off by the ravages of its re- a show of housekeeping, that those lentless antitype and namesake, proba- who would not call her very penurious, bly in revenge for the original carica- pronounced her to be extremely poor ; ture of his own person,
her corps domestique consisting of an part of the mansion was in keeping. old housekeeper, and her grandnephew, A long gallery bisected the building. James Simpson, a boy of fifteen, who Here Miss Beaufoy and her house- a half - crazed simpleton and keeper occupied a few of the best house-scrub, and an old groom, named apartments; many of the others were Launcelot, who came each morning to ricketty and untenable. At the very dress and feed the black horse. end of this long corridor, a staircase The parish was in the gift of Lord of about ten steps sunk down, with a Pompadour. He was the lay rector, thick, green rope for a balustrade, to and received three-fourths of the in. meet a remote suite of rooms, which come-viz., £600 per annum in addi. were uninhabited and locked up, and tion to his own £20,000 a-year, an the key carefully kept by Miss Beau- ecclesiastical drop in the golden ocean foy, who resided here in complete se- of his secularities. The Vicar_alias clusion.
the working man-had the odd £200 Her history was peculiar. Her bro. for his pains, or share, out of which ther Reginald had been vicar of this he had to pay a curate, answer all de. parish, and she had lived with him till mands for parochial subscriptions, and his death, which had taken place some support himself and his family like a ten years ago. Descended from a long gentleman. To the present incum.
room nor race-course.
bent, Mr. O'Donel, this paltry income hard ; the countess cold, dressy, comwas of little moment. He was a man mon-place, hard ; the sons at Eton; of ample property ; his mother had the daughters cold, vain, hard, not been an Englishwoman, a kinswoman handsome ; in fact hardness was the of the Pompadours, and my lord was family feature. They were a petribut too happy to offer his living to a faction of prosperity's making. They man who combined character, indepen, cared not for books, for music, or for dence, and the claim of consanguinity: flowers. They seemed to care for noTrue, the peer considered Mr. O'Donel thing, but securing their own enjoy. as rather puritanical, seeing that he ments; otherwise they were pococu. preached without a MS.
rantes in principle and practice, and cushion of his pulpit; was perfectly rarely suffered an emotion, if ever they indifferent on the great surplice con- had one, to bubble to the surface of troversy; and frequented neither ball. their stagnant placidity. They were,
Yet, malgré in fact, all surface. They were a dressthese objectionable qualities, he was a ing family, a driving-out family, a particularly agreeable man, a good dining-out family: There was much scholar, and a thorough gentleman. refined carnality in all they did, and True, he was an Irishman ; but his thorough, though well-bred, selfishness family were among the oldest gentry in all they said. They had nothing in. of that country. And so it came to teresting to exhibit but their beautiful pass, that in a very short time after place; nothing intellectual, but their Mr. O'Donel's induction, the church library; nothing picturesque, but their and schools were crowded, and the gallery of paintings. After breakfast new vicar's name was bruited far and my lord read the Times, when it had wide as an active, faithful minis- been duly smoothed out and dried by ter—the poor man's friend—the sick the butler with a hot iron. The coun. man's comforter-the rich man's coun. tess studied the St. James's Chronicle, sellor - the teacher, the guide, the and the whole family sat in the library, pattern and the pastor of all.
surrounded by the uncongenial dead. Let us say a word of Brockholes Silent sat they amidst the eloquence of Park
:- a perfect English residence : a thousand authors; ignorant, amidst the grand" elms towering near the unconsulted knowledge ; irreligious, house; the green velvety lawn sbaven amidst quickening divinity ; dull, as close as an Oxford quad; the large amidst unread wit; prosaic, amidst plate-gļass windows; the proud and unappreciated poetry, and tasteless, pillared hall, lofty and long, with amidst the teachings of art; as cold double fireplace; sofas and rugs, and and as correct as the busts on the thickest Turkey carpet, and great bil- marble plinths around them, and as liard-table, and old pictures of Jacob- soulless and mechanical as the great ite warriors on the walls for the title Louis Quatorze clock which chimed was a creation of Charles I.; cavaliers the quarters and clinked the minutes who had shouted and charged with from the mantelpiece. Prince Rupert, now passively tolerat- Between this family and Miss Beauing the attacks of Time; dead judges in foy there was little intercourse, and lively scarlet and ermine; and bishops, less sympathy. Twice a year their who had ever been dull in the pulpit, carriage would roll in
grassnow preaching eloquently from their grown pavé of Darkbrothers, and a canvas on the texts, “ Memento mori," visitorial penance was inflicted, felt, or “ Sic transit gloria." There was
and reciprocated between the parties; an Irish lord-deputy here, famous for and in due time this half-yearly alhis rapacity, meanness, and corrup- lowance of conventional courtesy was tion, and now looking as if he were paid back by the dignified spinster, lamenting that he could not step out mounted on her steed, in her black of his frame, and commence again his riding-habit, white hat, and gold specwork of spoliation, wrong, and villainy. tacles, and looking much the thorough
The family had just descended from lady; old Launcelot on such occasions their carriage. Unlike many in high walking by her bridle, in a brown and life, who exhibit gentle manners and purple livery, and his hat laced with loveable qualities, these people were gold cord. thoroughly unamiable and repulsive : If I may seem to make the family the peer cold, heavy, dull-headed, at Brockholes too unamiable, and to have sketched them with a needlessly took place in May, 18%. The owner hard pencil, I may add, as a redeeming had neglected to renew his insurance, trait, that they were not vicious ; but and the misfortune made him a bank. on the contrary, coldly moral, and rupt and a fugitive ; and the next charitable too, by nicest rule, and morning's sun arose on two hundred in a small way. Between them and men out of employment, and consethe family at the Vicarage there was quently out of bread. The times were some intimacy, though but little com- hard, corn scarce, food of all kinds munion. My lord enjoyed Mr. O'Do. dear, and much national discontent; nel's society; and the ladies rather certain orators, too, philosophers in liked their cousin Grace, she had such their own way, Birmingham button. pretty natural manners, and rode and makers were they, or wire-wovers from drove so well, though many of her Wolverhampton, perambulated the ways they considered to be not selon country, and these democrats, with régle, and her visitings among the dirty faces, threadbare coats, and no. poor rather Quixotic. However, about thing in their pockets, lectured and a year before the date of this story, a ranted from village to village, spouting, circumstance had taken place at Brock- bad English in villainous taste, and de holes, of country-wide repute, which nouncing the aristocracy; and the bad the effect of drawing together the people were in general excited and discords of what would else appear to be
contented. A few days after the an incongruous kind of friendship. burning of the mill at Fadlingham, * About
five miles northward from the large body of the workmen had assempark-gates of Brockholes, was the snug, bled on the road which led to Earls and if truth must be told, the tho- dale-with them were their wives and roughly rotten borough of Fadlingham, children ; they were slowly proceeding the election of a member for which, to southward without any special object, vote in the Parliament of Great Britain, idle and hungry, and, therefore, ripe lay entirely in the hands of whatever for mischief, when unhappily a brew. noble Pompadour wore the coronet with er's cart, conveying sundry barrels of the high pearls and leaves for the time foaming barleycorn of the best strong being. Of course, and as nature directs Warwick brew, hove in sight; this that a due regard for one's own family event was hailed by the thirsty mob as a should always precede any consider- regular deodand, and they did not scruation of political honesty, the present ple to appropriate to their throats and patron had nominated one of his name stomachs a cask or two of the enlivenand blood to his borough, and the ing beverage, on the “good old rule, " member thus nominated had the good and poetical as well as practical princi. fortune to represent not only the ple of “take the goods the gods provide place and the politics of my lord, but you ;" doing so to the great terror and likewise, in a very singular manner, indignation of the driver of the dray, bis disagreeable qualities also, being an and spilling much more of the good imperious, dry, and hard-headed man. liquor than they consumed in the natuDuring some debates on factory ques- ral way. With this additional stimulus tions, he had borne most heavily on the to mischief_this spur in the head operatives, and his vote and " voice they rushed on, yet still without a fixed were still for war," in the discussion of destination, when, as chance would bave a bill which was meant to secure their it, they were overtaken on the road by comforts. He was, therefore, much one of the under-footmen at Brock disliked by the inhabitants of the dis- holes, who, mounted on a powerful trict which returned him, inasmuch as young, thorough-bred, was returning there were two large manufactories in from the execution of a commission of the neighbourhood, the workmen of her ladyship at a neighbouring village. which would have been considerable The crowd were at once aware of who gainers had the aforesaid bill passed he was, and to whom he belonged, and, into a law. And this odium, which he without being, actually violent, they had earned justly, passed on--proximus seemed determined to offer every obardet Ucalegon-to Lord Pompadour struction they possibly could to his and the family at Brockholes.
passing through their ranks. About this time the largest of these “ I say, good folks, will you let me mills was unfortunately burned down pass?" the man would say, civilly. in the night of the great storm, which But the opposition was so manifest,