Clitheroe Castle

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Clitheroe Castle


    "By that painful way they passForth to an hill that was both steep and high;On top whereof a sacred chapel was,And eke a little hermitage thereby."
    —SPENSER’S Fairy Queen.

    Clitheroe, the hill ly the-waters, the ancient seat of the Lacies, carries back the mind to earlier periods and events—to a rude and barbarous age—where justice was dispensed, and tribute paid, by the feudatories to their lords, whose power, little less than arbitrary, was held directly from the crown.

    The Lacies came over with the Conqueror; and, on the defection of Robert de Poictou, obtained, as their share of the spoil, sixty knights’ fees, principally in Yorkshire and Lancashire. For the better maintainence of their dignity they built two castles, one at Pontefract, the principal residence, and another at Clitheroe. A great fee, or great lordship, as Pontefract was a possession of the highest order; an honour, or seigniory, like Clitheroe, consisting of a number of manors, was the next in rank; and these manors were severally held by their subordinate lords in dependence on the lord paramount, the lord of the fee or honour.

    What was the precise aspect of our county when the Normans possessed themselves of the land, it might be deemed an effort of the imagination perhaps to portray. "Yet," says Dr Whitaker, in one of his happier moods, "could a curious observer of the present day carry himself nine or ten centuries back, and, ranging the summit of Pendle, survey the forked Calder on one side, and the bolder margins of Ribble and Hodder on the other, instead of populous towns and villages, the castle, the old tower-built house, the elegant modern mansion, the artificial plantation, the park and pleasure ground, or instead of uninterrupted enclosures, which have driven sterility almost to the summit of the fells; how great must then have been the contrast, when, ranging either at a distance or immediately beneath, his eye must have caught vast tracts of forest ground stagnating with bog or darkened by native woods, where the wild ox, the roe, the stag, and the wolf had scarcely learned the supremacy of man—when, directing his view to the intermediate spaces, to the windings of the valleys, or the expanse of plain beneath, he could only have distinguished a few insulated patches of culture, each encircling a village of wretched cabins, among which would still be remarked one rude mansion of wood, scarcely equal in comfort to a modern cottage, yet then rising proudly eminent above the rest, where the Saxon lord, surrounded by his faithful cotarii, enjoyed a rude and solitary independence, owning no superior but his sovereign.

    "This was undoubtedly a state of great simplicity and freedom, such as admirers of uncultivated nature may affect to applaud. But although revolutions in civil society seldom produce anything better than a change of vices, yet surely no wise or good man can lament the subversion of Saxon polity for that which followed. Their laws were contemptible for imbecility, their habits odious for intemperance; and if we can for a moment persuade ourselves that their language has any charm, that proceeds less, perhaps, from anything harmonious and expressive in itself, or anything valuable in the information it conveys, than that it is rare and not of very easy attainment; that it forms the rugged basis of our own tongue; and, above all, that we hear it loudly echoed in the dialect of our own vulgar. Indeed, the manners as well as language of a Lancashire clown often suggest the idea of a Saxon peasant; and prove, with respect to remote tracts like these, little affected by foreign admixtures, how strong is the power of traduction, how faithfully character and propensities may be transmitted through more than twenty generations."

    The Normans were a more polished, a more abstemious people; as scribes and architects they were men to whom this district was greatly indebted. Our only castle, our oldest remaining churches, our most curious and valuable records, are all Norman.

    "Such was the state of property and manners when the house of Lacy became possessed of Blackburnshire." The simplicity of the Saxon tenures was destroyed. A tract of country, which had been parcelled out among twenty-eight lords, now became subject to one; and all the intricacies of feodal dependence, all the rigours of feodal exaction, wardships, reliefs, escheats, &c., were introduced at once. Yet the Saxon lords, though dependent, were not in general actually stripped of their fees. By successive steps, however, the origin of all landed property within the hundred, some later copyholds excepted, is to be traced to voluntary concessions from the Lacies, or their successors of the house of Lancaster; not grants of pure beneficence, but requiring personal service from the owners, and yearly customs or payments, equivalent at that time to their value. Their present worth grew out of the operation of causes little understood in these ages either by lord or vassal—namely, the certainty of the possession, the diminishing value of money, and the perpetuity of the title.

    In four generations, or little more than one hundred years, the line of the Lacies became extinct; Roger Fitz-Eustace, lord of Halton and constable of Chester, coming into possession by right of his grandmother Awbrey, uterine sister of Robert de Lacy, the last of this illustrious race. Fitz-Eustace, however, took the title of De Lacy; but in the fourth descent from him the very name was lost. Henry de Lacy, the last and greatest man of his line, dying the 5th February 1310, left one daughter only, who had married, during her father’s lifetime, Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster—and carried along with her an inheritance even then estimated at 10,000 marks per annum. On the earl’s attainder, the honour of Clitheroe, with the rest of his possessions, were forfeited to the crown. After undergoing many changes while it continued a member of the Duchy of Lancaster—that is, until the restoration of Charles II.—that prince, in consideration of the great services of General Monk, whom he created Duke of Albemarle, bestowed it upon him and his heirs for ever. Christopher, his son, dying without issue, left his estates to his wife, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle; by her they were bequeathed to her second husband, Ralph, Duke of Montague, whose grand-daughter Mary, married George, Earl of Cardigan, afterwards Duke of Montague. Elizabeth, his daughter, married Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, in whose family the honour of Clitheroe is now vested.

    Clitheroe Castle is described by Grose as "situated on the summit of a conical insulated crag of rugged limestone rock, which suddenly rises from a fine vale, in which towards the north, at the distance of half-a-mile, runs the Ribble, and a mile to the south stands Pendle Hill, which seems to lift its head above the clouds."

    In the time of the Commonwealth it was dismantled by order of Parliament; the chapel has totally disappeared; and nothing now remains but the square keep and some portions of the strong wall by which the building was surrounded. The tower, though much undermined, remains firm as the rock on which it was built, and forms the principal object in our engraving.

    It was midnight; and the priest was chanting the service and requiem for the dead in the little chapel or chantry of St Michael, which was built within the walls of Clyderhow or Clitheroe Castle. The Dies iræ from the surrounding worshippers rose in a simple monotone, like the sound of some distant river, now caught on the wing of the tempest, and flung far away into the dim and distant void, now rushing on the ear in one deep gush of harmony—the voice of Nature, as if her thousand tongues were blended in one universal peal of praise and adoration to the great Power that called her into being. Many a heart quailed with apprehension, many a bosom was oppressed with doubtful and anxious forebodings. Robert de Lacy, the last of this illustrious race, fourth in descent from Ilbert de Lacy, on whom the Conqueror bestowed the great fee of Pontefract, the owner of twenty-eight manors and lord of the honour of Clitheroe, was no longer numbered with the living; and here in the chapel of this lone fortress, before the dim altar, all that remained of this powerful baron, the clay no longer instinct with spirit, was soon to be enveloped in the dust, the darkness, and the degradation of its kindred earth.

    Many circumstances rendered this scene more than usually solemn and affecting. Robert de Lacy had died without issue to inherit these princely domains, the feudal inheritance of a family whose power had so wide a grasp, that it was currently said the Lacies might pass from Clitheroe Castle to their fortress at Pontefract, a journey of some fifty miles, and rest in a house or hostelrie of their own at every pause during their progress.

    With him ended the male line of this great family. Failing in issue, he had devised all these vast estates to Awbrey, his uterine sister, daughter of Robert de Lizours, married to Richard Fitz-Eustace, lord of Halton and constable of Chester.

    Thus ended the last of his race; and the inheritance had passed to a stranger.

    The surrounding worshippers were mostly domestics and retainers of the family, save Robert de Whalley, the dean of that ancient church, supposed to have been founded by Augustine or Paulinus in the seventh century, and then called "The White Church under the Leigh." No tidings had been heard from the Fitz-Eustace at Halton, and in two days the body was to be carried forth on its last pilgrimage to Kirkstall Abbey, founded by Henry de Lacy, father of the deceased, about forty years prior to this event.

    The beginning of February, in the year 1193, when our story commences, was an epoch memorable for the base and treacherous captivity of Richard Coeur de Lion by the Duke of Austria; and for the equally base and treacherous, but short-lived, usurpation of John, the brother of our illustrious crusader. The nation was involved in great trouble and dismay. The best blood of England and the flower of her nobility had perished on the deserts of Palestine, or were pining there in hopeless captivity. The house of Fitz-Eustace, into whose possession the estates of the Lacies were now merged, had themselves been shorn of a goodly scion or two from the family tree during these "holy wars."

    Richard Fitz-Eustace, the husband of Awbrey, died about the 24 Hen. II. (1178), leaving one son, John, who founded the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw in Cheshire, the present establishment of Whalley. He was slain at Tyre in the crusade, A.D. 1190, the second of the reign of Richard I., leaving issue, Richard a leper, and Roger, who followed his father to the Holy Land, but of whose fate no tidings had been heard since his departure thence on his return to Europe. Besides these were two sons, Eustace and Peter, and a daughter named Alice.

    Roger Fitz-Eustace and his friend William de Bellamonte—from whom are descended the Beaumonts of Whitley-Beaumont, in Yorkshire—had fought side by side at the memorable siege of Acre; but whether alive or dead the certainty was not yet known, though there might be good grounds for the apprehension generally entertained, that they were held in captivity by infidels or by princes miscalled Christian, the bitterest enemies to the faith they professed.

    Clitheroe Castle was built by Roger de Poictou, or, as he is otherwise called, Roger Pictavensis, of a noble family in Normandy, and related to the Conqueror. He led the centre of William’s army at the battle of Hastings. King William having given him all the lands between the Mersey and the Ribble, he built several castles and fortresses therein, providing largely for his followers, from whom are descended many families who are still in possession of manors and estates originally granted by this unfortunate relative of the Conqueror. He was twice deprived of his honours, many of them being escheated to the crown, while Clitheroe Castle, together with the great fee of Pontefract, was bestowed on Ilbert de Lacy, a Norman follower of William.

    In a country not abounding with strong positions, an insulated conical rock of limestone rising out of the fertile plain between Penhull (Pendle) and the Ribble would naturally attract the attention of the invaders. Here, therefore, we find a fortress erected even earlier than the castle at Lancaster. The summit of this rock was not sufficiently extensive to admit of a spacious building, and probably nothing more was at first intended than a temporary retreat and defence from the predatory incursions of the Scots. The structure was, however, gradually enlarged, and became one of the chief residences of the Lacies. A lofty flanking wall ran along the brink of the rock, enclosing the keep and adjoining buildings, likewise the chapel of St Michael, coeval with the foundation of the castle, and forming part of it, being amply endowed by the founder, and license procured from the Dean of Whalley for the purpose of having divine service performed and the sacraments administered therein, to the household servants, foresters, and shepherds, who occupied these extensive and thinly-inhabited domains.

    In this little sanctuary now lay the remains of its lord. The cold February sleet pattered fitfully against the narrow panes; and the shivering mourners muffled themselves in their dark hoods, while they knelt devoutly on the hard bare pavement of the chapel. Oliver de Worsthorn, the old seneschal, knelt at the foot of the bier; his white locks covered his thin features like a veil, hiding their intense and heart-withering expression. He felt without a stay or helper in his last hours—a sapless, worthless stem in this wilderness of sorrow.

    Robert, the Dean of Whalley, attended as chief mourner. Being descended from a distant branch of the Lacies, he had long thrown a covetous glance towards the inheritance. A frequent guest at the castle, he had been useful as an auxiliary in the management and control of the secular concerns; the spiritual interests of its head were in the keeping of another and more powerful agent, little suspected by the dean of applying the influence he had acquired to purposes of secular aggrandisement.

    It may not be deemed irrelevant that we give a brief outline of the constitution or office of dean, as then held by the incumbents of Whalley. The beautiful abbey, now in ruins, was not as yet built. Some Saxon lord had, about the seventh century, founded a parish church, dedicated to All Saints, called The White Church under the Leigh. The first erection was of wood, many years afterwards replaced by a plain building of stone. The rectors or deans were also lords of the town, and married men, who held it not by presentation from the patron, but as their own patrimonial estate, the succession being hereditary. In this manner the deanery of Whalley was continued until the Lateran Council, in the year 1215, which, by finally prohibiting the marriage of ecclesiastics, put an end to this order of hereditary succession, and occasioned a resignation of the patronage to the chief lord of the fee, after which the church of Whalley sunk, by two successive appropriations, into an impoverished vicarage.

    Long before the Conquest the advowson had become far more valuable than the manor, and the lords, who were also patrons, saw the advantage and convenience of qualifying themselves by inferior orders for holding so rich a benefice; and thus the manor itself in time ceased to be considered as a lay fee, and became confounded with the glebe of the church.

    The office of dean, at the period in which our history commences, had for centuries been considered as a dignity rather secular than ecclesiastical, and the pursuits of the incumbent had doubtless assimilated generally with those of his lay associates. Indeed, it is recorded that Dean Liulphus, in the reign of Canute, had the name of Cutwulph, from having cut off a wolf’s tail whilst hunting in the forest of Rossendale, at a place called Ledmesgreve, or more properly Deansgreve. Like many other ancient and dignified ecclesiastics, they were mighty hunters, enjoying their privileges unmolested through a vast region of forest land then unenclosed, and were only inferior in jurisdiction to the feudal lords of these domains. "On the whole, then, it appears," says Dr Whitaker, "that the Dean of Whalley was compounded of patron, incumbent, ordinary, and lord of the manor; an assemblage which may possibly have met in later times, and in some places of exempt jurisdiction, but at that time probably an unique in the history of the English church."
    Robert de Whalley, the incumbent before named, was not a whit behind his progenitors in that laudable exercise of worldly wisdom and forethought, as it regarded matters of a temporal and transitory nature. His bearing was proud, and his aspect keen; his form was muscular, and more fitted for some hardy and rigorous exercise than for the generally self-denying and peaceful offices of the Catholic Church. In his youth he had the reputation of being much disposed to gallantry; and the same proneness to intrigue was yet manifest, though employed in pursuits of a less transitory nature. His disappointment was, in consequence, greatly augmented when these long-coveted possessions were given to another, and his ambitious dreams dissipated. Yet was he not without hope that the succession of the Fitz-Eustace family might be frustrated. The leper would of necessity be passed over, and, Roger being either dead or in captivity, the revenues and usurpation of this distant and almost inaccessible territory might still be enjoyed without molestation or inquiry. Such were the meditations of this plotting ecclesiastic, as he knelt before the altar in that solemn hour, in the chapel of "St Michael in Castro."

    The walls of the chapel, or rather chantry, were smeared with black; and in front of the screen were portrayed uncouth representations of the arms and insignia of the deceased. A pall was thrown over the body, and a plate of salt, as an emblem of incorruptibility, placed on the corpse—a heathenish custom borrowed from the Druids. The candles burnt dimly at the little altar, and the cold and bitter wind threw the shadows in many a grotesque and startling shape on the dark bare walls which enclosed them. It was an hour and a scene that superstition might have chosen for manifesting her power; and many an anxious glance was thrown towards the dark recesses out of which imagination was ready to conjure some grim spectre, invested with all the horrors that monkish legends had created. The priest who officiated was an unbeneficed clergyman, long known as an inmate of the castle. He was of a quiet and inoffensive disposition, but much attached to his lord; often during the service grief stayed his utterance, and he mingled his loud sobs with those of the surrounding worshippers.

    The dirage was concluded, and vespers for the dead were now commencing with the "Placebo Domino." The priest with his loud rich voice sang or recited the anthem, and the attendants gave the response in a low and muttering sound. Just as he was beginning the fumigation with a sign of the cross, to drive away demons and unclean spirits from the body, suddenly a loud, deep, and startling blast was heard from the horn at the outer gate. The whole assembly started up from their devotions, and every eye was turned towards the dean, as though to watch and take the colour of their proceedings from those of his reverence. He lifted his eyes from the corpse, which lay with the face and shoulders uncovered; and, as if startled from some bewildering reverie, cried aloud—
    "What untimely visitor art thou, disturbing the sad offices of the dead?"

    He paused, as though the sound of his own voice had disturbed him; while wrapping himself in his cloak, he hastily approached Oliver, who stood irresolute, not knowing how to act in this unexpected emergency. De Whalley pointed towards the door, and the seneschal prepared to obey, accompanied by the porter with a light, and one or two attendants.

    Immediately outside the chapel the way led down a steep angle of the rock, which Oliver, by dint of much use and experience, descended without any apparent difficulty, save what arose from the slippery state of the path, which rendered the footing more than usually precarious and uncertain.
    Again, the blast brayed forth a louder and more impatient summons, startling the echoes from their midnight slumber, while the deep woods answered from a thousand unseen recesses.

    "Hang thee for a saucy loon, whoever thou be! I’ll warrant thee as much impudence in thy face as wind i’ thy muzzle," said the disturbed seneschal. "Tarry a while, Hugo; ope not the gate without a parley, despite the knave’s untimely summons."

    Oliver, hobbling onward, reached the wicket, just then occupied by Hugo’s broad and curious face prying out cautiously into the misty and unintelligible void, without being a whit the wiser for his scrutiny.

    "What a plague do ye keep honest men a-waiting for at the gate," said a gruff voice from the pitchy darkness without, "in a night that would make a soul wish for a dip into purgatory, just by way of a warming?"

    "Hush," said Oliver, who was a true son of the Church, and moreover, being fresh from the services appointed for the recovery of poor souls from this untoward place, felt the remark of the stranger as peculiarly impious and full of blasphemy—"Hush! thou bold-faced scorner, and learn to furbish thy wit from some other armoury; we like not such unholy jests—firebrands thrown in sport! Thy business, friend?"

    "Open the gate, good master priest-poke," said the other, in a tone of authority.

    "Not until thou showest thine errand," said the equally imperative interrogator within; who, having the unequivocal and somewhat ponderous advantage of a pair of stout-built and well-furnished gates to back, or rather face, him in the controversy, was consequently in a fair way for keeping on the strong side of the argument.

    "Now, o’ my troth, but ye be a pair of rude curs, barking from a warm kennel at your betters, who are shivering in the cold, without so much as a bone to pick, or a wisp of straw to their tails! Well, well, ’tis soon said; every dog, you know,—and ’twill be my turn soon. I come hither from the castle at Halton, where my Lady Fitz-Eustace would lay your curs’ noses to the grinding-stone; but, rest her soul, she will not long be above ground, I trow. Know then, masters, I am her seneschal, whom she sends with a goodly train to the burying. Quick, old goat-face, or we will singe thy beard to light thee to our discovery."

    The gates were immediately unbolted at this command, opening wide before so dignified a personage, who, as the representative of the Fitz-Eustace, was evidently impressed with a sufficient sense of his own importance, while he and his attendants rode through the grim Norman arch into the courtyard. The uppermost extreme of this illustrious functionary was surmounted with a sort of Phrygian-shaped bonnet or cap, made of deerskin, suitably ornamented. A mantle or cloak of a dark mulberry colour, fancifully embroidered on the hem, was clasped upon one shoulder by a silver buckle. Underneath was a short upper riding-tunic made of coarse woollen, partly covering an under-vest made of finer materials. A leathern girdle was buckled round his loins, having sundry implements attached thereto, requisite during the performance of so long a journey through a thinly-inhabited region. The upper garment scarcely covered the knee, over which stockings of red cloth were seen, reaching half-way up the thigh; round the leg were bandages or cross-garterings well bespattered with mud; low boots or buskins protected the feet and ankles; to these spurs were fastened, the head being spear-shaped and something crooked in the shank. His beard was forked, and this appendage, apparently the result of a careful and anxious cultivation, he occasionally twisted with one hand whilst speaking. He carried a lance, or rather hunting-spear, which he wielded with an air of great formality and display; his followers were likewise furnished each of them with a cloak and tunic, and a conical cap of coarse felt tied under the chin with a leathern band: a girdle of the same material was buckled round the waist, with a scrip and other necessaries for the journey. They rode horses of the Welsh breed, small and stout-built; spoil captured, in all probability, from that rebellious and unruly nation.

    The entry of this armed train was more like an act of taking possession than that of a peaceable and formal embassage; and the newly-arrived seneschal soon began to exercise the office of governor or castellan, seizing the reins of government with an iron grasp. He was a square carroty-headed personage, about the middle size, and of a ruddy aspect. He held an office of trust under the Fitz-Eustace, and, spite of his saucy garrulity, in which he indulged on most occasions, he was faithful, and would have challenged and immolated any one who had dared to question the right of the Fitz-Eustace to precedence before any other baron of the land. Long service rendered him more intrusive than would have been thought becoming, or even excusable in any other enjoying less of his mistress’s confidence.

    "Now, my merry men all," said this authoritative personage, "a long and a weary path have we ridden to-day; and had we not been, as it were, lost in your savage wildernesses—where our guide, whom we forced before us by dint of blows and hard usage, could scarce keep us in the right track—we had been here before sunset. Thanks to this saint of yours, whosoever he be, for we saw the watchlights at times from the chapel, as we guessed, else had we been longer in hitting our mark, and might, peradventure, have supped with the wolves on a haunch of venison. Now for the stables. What! have ye no knaves hereabout to help our followers with the beasts?"
    Oliver, much troubled at this loquacious and unceremonious address, replied with some acrimony—

    "The household are in the chapel, where it had been better thou hadst let us bide, and given the corpse a quiet watchnight—the vigils for the dead are not ended."

    "Go to, master seneschal, for of this post I do adjudge thee, and reverence thine office in respect of mine own, but let dead men make their own lanterns; we must have supper anyhow, and that right speedily."

    Oliver, after seeing the gate secured, sent Hugo for help, whilst he led the way himself into the hall of this once formidable fortress. It was high and gloomy, the fire being apparently extinguished. A step on the floor showed where the higher table was placed, prohibiting those beneath a certain rank from advancing upon the skirts of their superiors; an indispensable precaution, when servants and retainers of all sorts ate their meals with the master of the feast. Perches for hawks, in form like unto a crutch, were placed behind his chair; for these birds were usually taught to sit hoodless in the evening among company undisturbed. Hunting-spears, jackets, chain-armour, shields, and helmets, decorated the walls; and many a goodly heritage of antlers hung, like forest boughs stripped of their verdure. There were two oriels furnished with leaning-stones for the convenience of loungers. Painted glass filled the higher portions of the windows, representing uncouth heads, hands, feet, and bodies of saints, in all the glowing and gorgeous magnificence which the beam of heaven can give to colours of more than earthly brightness, though disposed in forms of more than childish absurdity.

    The hall, the usual rendezvous of the household, was now deserted for the dread solemnities of that cheerless night. But the stranger was much discouraged by reason of the coldness and gloom, shivering audibly at the comfortless appearance that was before him.

    "St Martin’s malison light on ye—fire, billets, and all—I’ve seen nothing like to warm my bare nose and knuckles since we left Halton, two long days agone. Verily, to my thinking, there’s as much timber burnt there daily as ye would pile here for a winter’s use."

    "Prithee come with me into the kitchen, we may have better quarters peradventure among the fleshpots," said Oliver, leading the stranger through a small doorway on the left. This coquinus of our ancestors was usually placed near the hall, for the convenience of serving. Here, through a sliding aperture in the panel, the victuals were transferred with safety and despatch. It was built entirely of stone, having a conical roof with a turret at the top for the escape of steam and smoke. A fire was still burning, provided with a large cauldron suspended on a sort of versatile gibbet, by which contrivance it could be withdrawn from the flame. Fire-rakes and fire-jacks were laid on the hearth, and around the walls were iron pots, trivets, pans, kettles, ladles, platters, and other implements of domestic economy. Huge dressers displayed symptoms of preparation for to-morrow’s necessities, and a coarse kitchen-wench was piling fuel on the ever-burning fire.
    The envoy, glad to be ensconced so near the blaze, quickly addressed himself to the task of improving it by a dexterous use of a huge faggot by way of poker. He had thrown off his upper clothing; and the grim walls soon reddened with the rising glow. So intent was he on an occupation which he evidently enjoyed, that he was not aware when Oliver departed, the latter slipping off unobserved to the chapel for the purpose of informing the dean of this arrival.

    In one part of the kitchen was a long low-roofed recess, accessible only by a ladder, wherein dried meats, consisting of bacon, ham, deers’ tongues, mutton, venison, and other dainties of the like nature, were stored. To this inviting receptacle was the attention of our guest more especially directed. Without ceremony or invitation he ascended, and drawing out a formidable weapon from his belt he commenced a furious attack.

    Oliver, on his return, found this worthy usurping the functions of both cook and consumer of the victual with great assiduity. He was accompanied by the dean, who addressed the intruder as follows:—

    "How is it that we have none from the noble house of Fitz-Eustace save thou and thy company?"
    The messenger looked askance from his occupation, disposing of a large mouthful of the viands with sufficient deliberation ere he vouchsafed a reply.

    "Me and my company! As goodly a band, I trow, as ever put foot to stirrup or fist to crupper! yet will I resolve thy question plain as Beeston Castle. My lady is old, and her only son died long ago on a crusade. Her third grandson, now in the office of constable, is out amongst the Welsh—plague on their fiery blood!—by reason of the absence of his elder brother, Roger, yet abroad in these Holy Wars. Of the eldest born, Richard, we know not but that he is deceased. He left the castle many years ago, sorely afflicted, for he was a leper. So that, peradventure, my lady hath sent the best man she had, inasmuch as I am steward and seneschal, being appointed thereto through her ladyship’s great wisdom and discretion."

    Here he surveyed himself with an air of indescribable assurance and satisfaction.

    "And, saving your presence," continued the deputy, "I come here as castellan, or governor, until he whose right it is shall possess it."

    "And how know we that we be not opening our gates and surrendering our castle to some losel knave, whose only title may lie on the tip of his tongue, and his right on the end of his rapier?"
    "By this token," said the seneschal haughtily, at the same time drawing out a formal instrument, to which was appended the broad seal of the ancient house of Fitz-Eustace.

    The dean cast his eyes over the document, returning it to the messenger without either answer or inquiry, and immediately retired from the presence of this usurper on his long-coveted possessions.
    Much chagrined by so unexpected an interference, he left the castle, even at this untimely hour. Yet his footsteps were not bent towards the shadow of his own roof, the deanery at Whalley.

    Outside the castle wall, and on the steepest side of the hill, was a little hermitage, wherein dwelt one of those reputed saints that dealt in miracles and prayers for the benefit of the "true believers." Many of these solitaries were well skilled in craft and intrigue; others, doubtless, deceived themselves as well as others in the belief that Heaven had granted them the power to suspend and control the operations of nature. To this habitation, occupied by one of these holy santons of the Church, were the steps of the dean immediately directed. He raised the latch as though accustomed to this familiarity. The chamber, a high narrow cell, scooped out of the rock, was quite dark; but the voice was heard, a deep sepulchral tone, as though issuing from the ground—
    "Art thou here so soon, De Whalley?"

    "Sir Ulphilas," said the intruder hastily, and with some degree of agitation, "canst work miracles now? The Canaanites are come into the land to possess it; nor will threatenings and conjurations drive them forth."

    "I know it," said the hermit, who, though unseen, had not, it seems, been an inattentive observer of the events of the last two hours. A light suddenly shot forth, enkindled as if by magic, showing the tall gaunt form of the "Holy Hermit of the Rock." He was dressed in a long grey garment of coarse woollen. It was said that he wore an iron corslet next his skin, for mortification, it was thought by the vulgar; but whether for this purpose, or for one of a more obvious nature, it would perhaps be easy to surmise. A girdle of plaited horse-hair encompassed his thin attenuated form. His head was uncovered; and he seemed to have just risen from his couch, a board or shelf, raised only a few inches from the rock on which it lay. His eye was wild, quick, and sparkling; but his cheek was deadly pale, and his features collapsed and haggard in their expression.

    "I have dreamed a dream," said the visionary.

    "And to what end?" inquired his visitor, seating himself with great deliberation.

    "Nay, ’twas not a dream," continued the hermit: "St Michael stood before me this blessed night, arrayed as thou seest him portrayed in the glass of his holy chapel above. His armour was all bright and glistering, and his sword a devouring flame. He flapped his wings thrice ere he departed, and said unto me, ‘Arise, Ulphilas, and work, for thine hour is come!’"

    "And what the better am I," said the irreverent priest, "for this saintly revelation? I must work too, or "———

    "Hold," said the hermit, laying his hand on the other’s shoulder with great solemnity; "speak not unadvisedly with thy lips; there be created intelligences within hearing that thou little knowest of."
    "Thou didst promise; but verily the substance hath slidden from my grasp: whilst I, fond fool, embraced a shadow. Cajoled by thine assurance, that my blood should be with the proud current that inherits these domains, I forebore, and let thee work. But thou hast been a traitor to my cause I do verily suspect, nay, accuse thee of this fraud. Thy machinations and thy counsel were the cause. By thine accursed arts Robert de Lacy hath left his patrimony to a stranger!"

    "True, I counselled him thus. What then?"

    "I and mine are barred from the inheritance!"

    "Shall the word of the Hermit of the Rock fall to the ground? Have I not promised that thy blood shall be with those that inherit these domains?"

    "Promises are slender food for an hungry stomach," cried the unbeliever.

    "If the promise fail, blame thy dastardly fears, and not my power. Thou shalt see the promised land thou shalt not inherit. Thy son shall receive the blessing."

    The dean looked for a moment as though he could have fawned and supplicated for a reversion of the decree; but pride or anger had the mastery.

    "And so," cried he, "thou findest thy predictions run counter to thy schemes, perdie; for thou dost mock me in them with a double sense."

    "How, false one? Have I not wrought for thee? Hath not he, whose corpse now resteth in hope, overwhelmed thee with his favours through my counsel and contrivance? I owed thee a service, for thou wast my stay and sustenance when driven hither an outcast from the haunts of men. But thoughtest thou that I should pander to thy lust, and hew out a pathway to thy desire?"

    "To me this!" said the covetous intruder, his voice quivering with rage.

    "Yes, to thee, Robert de Whalley," replied the hermit: "because thou hast not leaped the last height of thine ambition, forsooth—because thou art not lord of these wide domains, through my interest and holy communion with the departed—and because I have not basely sold myself to thee, thou art offended. Beware lest the endowment be wrested from thy grasp, the glebe and manor pass away from thine inheritance."

    "Thou hadst the privity and counsel of the deceased, and a whisper would have made it mine," said the dean, with great dejection.

    "Greedy and unblushing as thou art, know it was I who counselled him, and the deed is in my keeping. I sent a secret message unto Halton with the news, and Roger de Fitz-Eustace will be here anon!"

    "Thou dreamest; he is in bondage, or slain at Ascalon."

    "He will reappear," replied the hermit, "and the banner of the Fitz-Eustace wave on yonder turret. Hence! ungrateful member of our holy communion;—to thy house, and let an old man rest in peace."

    The disappointed priest departed in great haste: terror, of which he could not divest himself, and for which he could not account, overpowered him in the presence of the hermit. He durst not provoke him further; but as he crossed the courtyard again a glimpse of hope shot suddenly on his soul.
    "In thy keeping!" He spoke scarcely above his breath; but the walls seemed to give back the sound. He started like some guilty thing at the discovery of its crime.

    Before morning light on the following day the castle bell began to toll. Preparations were making for the conveyance of the last of the Ladies to the Abbey of Kirkstall, a journey which would occupy the greater part of two successive days. The pathway over the hills was narrow, and the mode of conveyance difficult, if not dangerous. A sort of litter was made for the corpse, and slung on a pole between two horses, covered, as in a bier, with the pall and trappings. A sword of ceremony was carried in front; the dean rode immediately before the body, the chanters preceding, and a priest with the cross and censer. Behind came the male domestics, and the seneschal of Halton with his train.

    Psalms were sung at every halting-place, and in the villages through which they passed, and torches were kept lighted during the greater part of the journey. These were for the purpose of being extinguished in the earth that should finally cover the body.

    Thus attired, and thus attended, was this once powerful baron conveyed to his narrow dwelling-house in the dust.

    We will not follow them further, nor detail the pomp of the funeral rites, that last mockery of greatness, but return to existing objects and events—man’s ever-gnawing ambition; so vast, when living, that the whole earth is too narrow for its sphere; when dead, the veriest churl hath as wide a possession!

    Weeks and months passed away, and the raw February wind grew soft in the warm and joyous impulse of another spring. One night, about the hour of vespers, two men, habited in monkish apparel, came to the cell of the Hermit of the Rock. After the usual salutation they entered, carrying with them staff and scrip, as if bent on a long and weary travel.

    "Whence come ye, and whither bound?" said the hermit, surveying the intruders by the light of a solitary lamp that was burning in a niche, wherein stood a skull and crucifix, emblems of our faith and our mortality.

    "We are from the Abbey of Stanlaw, on our way to Kirkstall in the morning."

    "Wherefore abide ye here? There is lodging and better cheer withal in the castle above."

    "We are under a vow, and rest not save on holy ground: we crave thy hospitality, therefore, and shelter for the night."

    "Is your errand to Kirkstall hidden, or is it an open embassage?"

    "The Lady Fitz-Eustace sendeth greeting by our ministry unto the holy abbot through our superior at Stanlaw, beseeching that he would make diligent inquiry touching the will of Robert de Lacy, once lord of this goodly heritage. She hath had news of his demise, and likewise another message with an assurance that every of these possessions have been devised to the Fitz-Eustace by his last will and testament. Yet this writing she has not yet seen, nor knoweth she into whose custody it hath been given. Apprehending the great favours which the Cistercian house at Kirkstall hath received from the Lacies, and the close intimacy which the abbot once enjoyed, she doth conjecture that, in all likelihood, the testament is in his keeping."

    "Your journey hath need of none other reference, for the will is in my custody."

    "In thine, Sir Ulphilas?"

    "How! know ye my name already?" said the hermit sharply, and a fierce glance shot from under his high and pallid brow.

    "Holy St Agatha! and has not the fame and sanctity of the Hermit of the Rock gone forth to many lands! Where the broad Mersey and the silver Dee roll their bright waters, thou art known by thy holiness and thy faith."

    "And how is our good brother Roger, abbot of your monastery at Stanlaw?" inquired the hermit, not deigning to notice their fulsome and flattering epithets.

    "Holy Virgin! how knowest thou his name?"

    "And hath not the fame of your holy abbot, and the sanctity of your house, reached us even here?" said the hermit, with a look of scrutiny and scorn. The visitors were silent. The hermit seized the lamp, and surveyed their persons with much care and deliberation.

    "Holy father," said the abashed intruders, "we crave thy blessing, and moreover a share of thy pittance, for our way hath been long and toilsome: since yesterday our journeying hath been over hills and through deep forests, infested by wolves and noisome beasts, which we had much ado to escape."

    The hermit drew a little table from the recess, blowing the wan embers until a cheerful blaze flashed brightly through the cell. He then opened a cupboard scooped out of the solid rock, and took thence a scrap of hard cheese, a barley cake, and a few parched peas, with which the holy men commenced their supper. They ate their meal in silence, washing down the dainties with a draught from the spring. When the repast was finished, one of the brethren thus addressed his host—

    "And what shall be thy message to our holy abbot? Wilt thou send the parchments to his grace?"

    "Nay, brethren, that is not my purpose."

    Another and a brief pause ensued.

    "But the message?"

    "Say that the will is here,"—he looked towards his bosom as he spoke,—"and at the appointed hour it shall be ready. When Roger de Fitz-Eustace comes hither, his claim shall be duly certified."

    "Alas!" said the wayfaring guests, in a tone of deep sorrow and apprehension, "he went on a warfare against the infidels."

    "He will return," was the reply.

    "The Virgin grant him a safe deliverance! but he tarrieth long, and a rumour hath lately been abroad that he fell at Ascalon."

    "’Tis false!" cried the hermit, roused to an unexpected burst of wrath. His eyes kindled with rage, and he darted a glance at the intruders which made them cower and shrink from his rebuke. In a moment he grew calm, relapsing into his usual moody and thoughtful attitude. Taking courage, they again addressed him.

    "Is this thy message to the abbot of Stanlaw? If so, our errand hath but a sorry recompense."

    "And what recompense should fall to the lot of miscreants like ye?" said the hermit, surveying them with a contemptuous glance. "I hear the sound of your master’s feet behind ye. Tell Robert, the proud Dean of Whalley, that when he sends ye next on so goodly an errand, to see that ye con your lesson more carefully, else will ye be known for a couple of errant knaves as ever went a-mousing into an owl’s nest! Hence, begone!" said the hermit, as he drave them from his threshold; and the counterfeit monks went back to Whalley in haste, reporting the ill success of their mission.
    "Nevertheless," said De Whalley, "I have some clue to the search, if the glance of his eye, which these varlets have reported, do show truly where the treasure is hidden. I will foil the old fox yet with his own weapons."

    This comfortable reflection, in all probability, moderated his anger at the unskilful disposition of his messengers, whom he dismissed with little ceremony from his presence.

    In the meantime the new castellan was exercising his power with unsparing and immoderate severity. Oliver de Wortshorn was almost heartbroken; the old man suddenly found himself reduced to the condition of a mere dependant on the self-will and caprice of this petty tyrant, his authority having been usurped, and his office wrested from him, by the hand of a stranger. Adam de Dutton[51] was the name of this new functionary, and he rode it out bravely over the necks of the servants and retainers, discharging some, punishing others, and making the whole community groan beneath the iron yoke of his oppression. Had there been a master-spirit to wield the elements of conspiracy, and unite the several members, so as to act from one common impulse, matters were just ripe for rebellion.

    Early in the morning, after a day of more than ordinary discipline, Oliver bent his feeble steps to the hermitage. He laid his complaints before the occupier of the cell, who was ever ready to administer aid and comfort to the afflicted.

    "Take little heed of the deputy now," said the holy man, "his master will be here anon. I hear the tramp of armed men, with the herald’s trumpet. I see the red griffin, and the banner of the Fitz-Eustace."

    "But, holy father, Sir Ulphilas," replied the ejected steward, "there is no peace either by night or day, and we are nigh worn out with his waywardness and oppression. If it might be that your reverence would come with me, peradventure the churl would grow tame at your presence."
    The hermit, complying with this importunity, accompanied Oliver to the castle.

    In the hall Adam de Dutton was about consigning one of the villains, for some venial offence, unto the whipping-post and the stocks. The accused besought his inexorable judge for some remission of the sentence, falling on his knees before him just as the hermit, with great solemnity, entered the hall. His face was partly concealed by a large hood, and little of his countenance was visible above the long beard which flowed over his bosom, and the fire of his eye, which seemed to glow through the dark shadows beneath.

    "Whom bring ye next for our disposal?" inquired the castellan; but there was no answer; every eye was directed to the hermit, who came slowly forward, standing opposite to, and within a very short distance from, the dread arbiter of justice in the castle of the Lacies.

    "What brings thee to our presence? Back to thy sanctuary; else we may deal with thee as with other knaves who live by their wits and the witlessness of fools."

    "What hath this man done amiss?" inquired the hermit, in a tone that showed his meekness to be disturbed, and his wrath evidently kindling; nor would the thunder be long ere it followed the flash.
    "It is our pleasure!" answered Adam de Dutton, reddening with rage; "and furthermore our pleasure is, that thou get thee to thy cell, or, by the beard of St Michael, my bowmen shall help thee thither when this fellow hath had his allowance at their hands."

    "Fool!" cried the hermit, in a voice which struck terror through the assembly; and even the judge himself started back with amazement.

    "Begone, child!" said Ulphilas to the culprit; "I dismiss thee of the punishment; peradventure thou hast deserved to suffer, but I give to this emissary a timely warning thereby."

    The criminal was not loth to obey, disappearing speedily without hindrance, while the spectators were mute with amazement. The hermit, too, was silent before the usurper, who, almost frantic with vexation, cried out—

    "Seize him!—help, for the Fitz-Eustace!—treason against our Lady of Halton!"

    Uttering many rapid and incoherent expressions, he approached the hermit, who stood unmoved, apparently the only unconcerned spectator in the rising tumult. The seneschal’s guards were already in motion, but Adam was the first who attempted the seizure.

    The holy man drew back, as though from some touch of pollution.

    "Hold!" cried he, "one touch and ’tis thy last. Rash fool, thou hast provoked this rebuke!"

    The hand of the seneschal had scarcely been put forth, when, lo! the astonished deputy shrank back in dismay. A sudden change came over his angry countenance—a look of surprise mingled with horror, as though he could have wished the earth to gape and hide him from the object of his apprehensions. He stood trembling, speechless, pale as ashes, expecting immediate and condign punishment. So suddenly this change was wrought that the spectators fancied it to be some direct interposition from heaven; concluding that he was smitten for the sacreligious and profane hand he had dared to stretch toward this holy man. Yet was the change not so sudden but that a quick-eyed observer, if such were there, might have seen the hermit’s outer garment loosened for a moment, and a significant whisper which the other evidently heard with such visible tokens of alarm.

    Ulphilas immediately retired to his cell, and from that hour the castellan discharged his official duties evidently under the control of some overmastering influence or apprehension.

    Not long afterwards it was rumoured abroad that tidings had been heard from Roger de Fitz-Eustace, who was supposed either to be in captivity or to have fallen at the siege of Ascalon.
    The king was still detained in prison by the Emperor Henry VI., and it was only through the remonstrance of the German princes, and a threat of excommunication from the Pope, that Henry, finding he could no longer hold him in durance, concluded a treaty for his ransom at the exorbitant sum of 150,000 marks, about £300,000 of our money; of which sum two-thirds were to be paid before he received his liberty, and sixty-seven hostages delivered for the remainder. The captivity of the superior lord was one of those cases provided for by the feudal tenures, and all vassals were, in that event, obliged to contribute towards his ransom. Twenty shillings were therefore levied on each knight’s fee throughout England; but as this money came in slowly, and was not sufficient forthe intended purpose, the voluntary zeal of the people readily supplied the deficiency.
    The churches and monasteries melted down their plate to the amount of 30,000 marks; the bishops, abbots, and nobles paid a fourth of their yearly rent; the parochial clergy contributed a tenth of their tithes; and the requisite sum being thus collected, the queen-mother and Walter, Archbishop of Rouen, set out with it to Germany, paid the money to the emperor and the Duke of Austria at Mentz, delivered to them hostages for the remainder, and freed Richard from captivity.

    During these important negotiations two messengers arrived at Clitheroe, who in consequence of the deputy’s absence for a season, held a secret conference with the Dean of Whalley ere they departed. An order was left that the castle should be forthwith in readiness for the reception of some distinguished guest. In those days tidings travelled slowly in such thinly-populated districts; like the heath-fire, which extends rapidly where the fuel is thickly strewn, but is tardy in spreading where it is less abundant.

    The dean, having received the messengers, took special care that the knowledge of their arrival should be kept, if possible, from the ears and eyes of Adam de Dutton, who happened for several days at that season to be hunting in the forest, where a mighty slaughter of game—wolves, bears, and such like—was the result; in which dangerous pastime, Geoffery, the dean’s only son, acted a distinguished part. This bold adventurer was accounted the most skilful hunter in the whole range of these vast forests, where the venison was so strictly kept that the life of a man was held in but little estimation, comparatively, with the care and preservation of a beast.

    The Deans of Whalley, as we have before seen, were mighty hunters in those days; and a wild and picturesque story is told in Dugdale’s Mon. Angl.. v. i., to which we have before alluded—to wit, that the great-grandfather of the present incumbent, Liwlphus Cutwolph, cut off a wolf’s tail whilst hunting, from which he acquired this surname. Geoffery inherited a more than ordinary passion for the chase. With his bow and hunting-spear he had been known to spend many days in these deep and trackless recesses, where the feet of man rarely trod, and the wild roe and the eagle had their almost inaccessible haunts. Adam was often his only companion; the seneschal’s partiality for the sport having rendered these dissimilar spirits more akin than their nature had otherwise permitted.
    On the evening of a sultry day Ulphilas had thrown himself on his couch, when, without warning or intimation, the Dean of Whalley stood beside him.

    "The holy hermit hath betaken himself early to his repose. How fareth he in this hard cell? ‘Tis long since we have met."

    "Peradventure it might have been longer, had not news travelled to thine ear touching the safety of the Fitz-Eustace and his speedy arrival," said the hermit, without so much as turning his eyes toward his visitor. Robert de Whalley stood silent and aghast. This was a direct and unequivocal testimony to the prescience of the good father, for to no ears but his own had the tidings been communicated.

    "Thou knowest of his return?"

    "Yes, ere the knowledge was thine," said the hermit carelessly.

    "There is little use in secrecy where the very walls possess a tongue; and seeing that the first part of mine errand is known, it may be thou art as well instructed in the latter, which is the true purport of my visit."

    "I am," replied the other quickly, now for the first time fixing his eyes on the intruder, "and of the issue too, I trow."

    "Ah!" said the dean, with a long-drawn exclamation of surprise, and a sudden gasp as though he would have held the secret more tightly to his bosom; "and who"—

    "Nay, thou art but obeying the impulse of thy nature," said the hermit, musing. "The brutes ye hunt obey their common instinct—and thou—Yet the ravening wolf and the cunning fox ye follow, and worry to their death."

    "Death!" cried the dean; "what meanest thou?"

    "Did I not counsel thee to beware? But thou wilt tumble into thine own pitfall. The trap is laid for thine own feet!"

    The hermit sat on the low couch, and he gazed wildly round the cell as though pursuing some object visible only to himself.

    "Give me the parchments committed to thy trust by De Lacy, and I will build a house to thy good saint, enriching it with rare endowments."

    "Thou wouldest drive a thrifty bargain with Heaven. Verily thou shouldst have the best on ‘t, though," replied the hermit, with a contemptuous smile.

    "Truly I could but return to Heaven the bounties that it gave; yet would I, peradventure, build, for His honour and glory, to whom all things belong, a habitation, the like whereof hath not been seen for stateliness and grandeur," said the dean, with affected reverence and humility of spirit.
    "Others may do that as well as thou."

    "But will he, whose coming is now at hand, make so costly a sacrifice for the welfare of the Church? I will found an abbey, holy father, consecrate to thy patron, wherein thou shalt be the ruler. I purpose to enrich it with half my possessions, even of those whereby, through thy ministry, I do become entitled from the death of Robert de Lacy."

    "Which meaneth, if I but aid thee to rob another of some large and goodly inheritance, thou wilt give to Heaven, forsooth, a portion of what belongs not to thee."

    "Once thou didst promise me thine aid."

    "To robbery and rapine?"

    "I have not wronged thee!"

    "Nor I"—

    "Thou hast; the inheritance is mine; thou hast robbed me of my right, but I will regain these lands or perish on them."

    "And so thou mayest, unblushing traitor."

    "Traitor!—ah! this word to me?"

    "Yes, to thee, Robert de Whalley!"

    "Thou art in my power, old man; ere I entered thy cell I left a trusty keeper at the door," cried the dean, with a grin of savage exultation.

    "In thy power!—never, miscreant."

    "Give the deed to my keeping, and no harm shall happen thee; refuse, and thou art my prisoner. Force may accomplish my wishes without thy compliance."

    The hermit’s eyes glistened like twin fires in their hollow recesses. He stood erect, confronting his visitor, who, bold in audacity and guilt, repeated his demand.

    "Never!" said the hermit.

    "Then die, fond dotard!" cried De Whalley; and, sudden as the lightning-stroke, he drew a dagger from his vest, aiming a blow at the hermit’s bosom; but, marvellous to relate, the steel hardly penetrated the folds of his drapery, glancing back with a dull sound, his person remaining uninjured. A look of unutterable scorn curled the features of the charmed, and apparently invulnerable, being before him.

    "Cowardly assassin!" he cried, "I hold thy threats at less worth than a handful of this base dust beneath my feet, and utterly defy thy power. I am free as the untrammelled air, and thou mayest as well attempt to grasp the shadow or the sunbeam!"

    Swift as the words he uttered the hermit disappeared! The effect was so sudden, aided, in all likelihood, by the dimness and obscurity of the cell, that, to the astonished apprehension of De Whalley, Ulphilas had made himself more impalpable than the air he breathed, sinking like a shadow through the rocky floor.

    "Thou hast escaped me, fiend," said the dean, gnashing his teeth with vexation; "but I will overmatch thy spells: with the aid of this good hand I may yet retrieve the inheritance."

    Saying this, he left the cell, and returned to his home at Whalley.

    Early on the morrow the hermit entered the hall where Adam de Dutton was preparing for another expedition to the forest. The seneschal looked uneasy and surprised, but acknowledged his presence with great respect and humility.

    "Adam de Dutton, thou hast other work to do," cried the holy man, "than rambling after these fools i’ the forest! Thy lord will be here anon."

    "How! whom meanest thou?" inquired the castellan, with a vacant stare of astonishment.

    "Roger de Fitz-Eustace. He is at hand; see thou prepare to meet him."

    "Surely thou mockest, Roger de"—

    "Peace! The last beam of to-morrow’s sun shall see the banner of the Fitz-Eustace beneath the gate."

    "To-morrow! Why—how cometh my lord? Surely thou dreamest—or thy"—

    "Once more I warn thee of his coming; see to his reception, or thy lord will be wroth; and Roger with the ready hand was not used to be over-nice, or loth in the administering of a rod to a fool’s back."

    The hermit departed without awaiting the reply.

    But great was the stir and tumult in the stronghold of the Lacies on that memorable day. The hurrying to and fro of the victuallers and cooks—the clink of armourers and the din of horses prancing in their warlike equipments—kept up an incessant jingle and confusion. A watchman was stationed on the keep, whose duty it was to give warning when the dust, curling on the wind, should betoken the approach of strangers. The guards were set, the gates properly mounted, and the drawbridge raised, so that their future lord might be admitted in due form to his possession.
    The sun went gloriously down towards the wide and distant verge of the forest, and the brow of Pendle flung back his burning glance. Nature seemed to welter in a wide atmosphere of light, from which there was no escape. Panting and oppressed, the hounds lay basking by the wall, and the shaggy wolf-dog crept, with slouching gait and lolling tongue, from the glare into the shadow of some protecting buttress. The watchman sat beneath the low battlements, hardly able to direct his aching eyes towards the forest path below the hill. The monotony of this dull and weary task was reiterated until the very effort became habitual, and he could scarcely recognise or identify any change of object from the absorption of his faculties by the listlessness it created. One slight curl of dust had already escaped him, another waved softly above the trees where the path wound upwards from the valley. Again it was visible, and the watchman seemed to awaken as from a lethargy or a dream. Strangers were surely approaching, but without retinue, as the wreath of dust, from its slight continuance, would seem to intimate. Just as he came to this conclusion, two horsemen swept into view, where a broad turn of the road was visible, disappearing again rapidly behind the arched boughs of the forest.

    Bounding almost headlong down the narrow stair, he ran immediately to the hall, informing the deputy of what he had seen. Scarce had he concluded when a hoarse blast from the horn rang at the outer gate. Adam de Button hurried to the postern, where he saw two horsemen, bearing unequivocal signs of their allegiance to the renowned constable of Chester. They wore what was then considered a great novelty in dress, the tabord or supertotus, a sleeveless garment, consisting of only two pieces, which hung down before and behind, the sides being left open.[53] Low-crowned yellow caps covered their heads, and the upper tunic was yellow, richly embroidered, reaching only to the knees. They wore forked beards, well pointed, and gloves and boots of beautiful Spanish leather. Their horses were low, but of an exquisite symmetry, and the beasts were pawing and champing before the gate when Adam hastened down into the courtyard. These were avant couriers or messengers from Roger de Fitz-Eustace, whom they announced as being nigh, and to be expected ere nightfall, with his daughter Maud, a maiden much renowned for her beauty.

    As the sun sank deeper into the gloom of the woods, and the shadows grew long on the green and sunny slope of the hill, the wild shrill notes of a clarion rung through the forest glades; a distant burst of martial music was heard, together with the roll of a drum—an instrument borrowed from the Saracens, and in use only after the crusades.

    Now went forth Adam de Dutton and his train bareheaded to meet their lord, whom they found riding at a slow pace, conversing familiarly, but attentively, with the Dean of Whalley. Behind him came the blushing Maud on a beautiful white palfrey, and beside her a comely youth, in a fair hunting-suit, the son of De Whalley, who, by his fervid and impassioned glances, showed himself apt in other and nobler exercises than the upland chase and the forest cover could afford.

    Roger de Fitz-Eustace, the terror and scourge of the Welsh, and by them called "Hell," from the great violence and ferocity of his temper, was then about forty years old. He was clothed in a light suit of armour, the hauberk, with the rings set edgewise, reaching down to the knees. His helmet was cylindrical, theavantaille, or face-guard, thrown up. He wore a coloured surcoat; a fashion that seems to have originated with the Crusaders, not only for the purpose of distinguishing the different leaders, but as a veil to protect the armour, so apt to heat excessively when exposed to the direct rays of the sun. It was of a violet colour, without any distinctive mark or badge. His highly-decorated shield was borne behind him, the three garbs and the lions being chiefly conspicuous in the marshalling: the former, the original bearing of Hugh Lupus, was often used by the constables of Chester, in compliment to their chief lord. Its shape was angular, and suspended from the neck by a strap called guige or gige, a Norman custom of great antiquity. A huge broadsword was carried by his armour-bearer, the person of the chief being without any further means of impediment or defence than a French stabbing sword, fastened on one side of his pommel, and a stout battle-axe on the other. The horse was decorated with great and costly profusion. At a short distance rode William de Bellomonte, the baron’s inseparable companion. A small train of archers and cross-bowmen brought up the rear of the escort, save the baggage and sumpter horses, laden not only with provisions but cooking utensils, and even with furniture for the household. In those days it was a matter both of economy and necessity for the occupants or lords of several castles to travel with accompaniments of this sort; though possessing many residences, most of them had the means and even conveniences only for the furnishing of one.

    The seneschal and his train alighted, doing homage to their lord, who was conducted with great pomp and ceremony into the fortress, now lapsed for ever from the blood and succession of the Lacies; yet Roger de Fitz-Eustace and his descendants, probably in commemoration of the source whence originated their great honours and endowments, were ever afterwards styled by the surname of De Lacy; and, strange as it may appear, his father, John, constable of Chester, who died fifteen years previously to this event, and who founded the Cistercian abbey of Stanlaw, the parent establishment of Whalley, though he had not the slightest pretensions to the name of Lacy, was popularly invested with the name. It is still more singular that the mistake should have been committed by Henry de Lacy, the last of the line of the Fitz-Eustace, third in descent from Roger, in the foundation-charter of Whalley Abbey, where he expressly styles his ancestor "Joh. de Lacy, Const. Cest."

    Accompanied by her father and her female attendants, the "gentle" maiden entered the hall. She was stately and beautifully formed, with little show of her lineage except the high forehead and well-formed nose of the Fitz-Eustace. She was enveloped from head to foot in a long gown or habit; over this was cast a richly-embroidered purple silk surcoat or cloak, embellished with those ephemeral absurdities called pocketing-sleeves. These hung from the wrists almost to the ground, showing an opening or pocket which might have supplied the place of a lady’s arm-bag in our own era. A wimple or peplus was thrown over the head; a sort of hood, which, instead of covering the shoulders, was brought round the neck beneath the chin like a warrior’s gorget, giving an exceedingly stiff and muffled appearance to the upper part of the figure.

    Geoffery was unremitting in his attentions, and his father seemed as assiduous in his court to the fierce Crusader, who listened intently to some private intelligence which the dean was evidently much interested in communicating. The following were the only words that could be distinguished at the dismissal of the courteous De Whalley, as he retired a few paces ere he departed:—
    "To-morrow be it," said Fitz-Eustace, "after matins, and we will hear thee further in this matter: let him then be conveyed to our presence."

    The dean retired, but at dawn he was again present in the chantry of St Michael, within the castle.
    Fierce came the beams of the morning sun through the eastern oriel of the hall, and the guards and retainers of this feudal fortress were waiting the appearance of their lord. Lounging idly at the great entrance were those more immediately in attendance on their chief, some playing at merelles, or nine-men’s morris; others tilting with mimic arms, and twanging the bowstring. The pikemen were drawn up in the courtyard, awaiting orders from their superior. Their glittering weapons flung back the morning light in sharp flashes to the sky; while on the tower the dark pennon hung motionless and drooping in the sultry air.

    The news of his arrival had drawn hither not a few of the surrounding peasantry to gaze upon the pomp and to pay homage at the court of their feudal lord; and a crowd of idlers was accumulating beneath the walls of the fortress.

    The breakfast meal being over, the baron entered through a side door behind a rude bench, overhung with faded drapery, which formed an elevation for the chief. His cheek was scorched and darkened with the burning suns of Palestine, while his beard seemed to have been whitened in that fiery clime. He was now habited in a rich purple cope or gown, fitting close, without sleeves or armholes, and embellished with a deep gold-coloured border, the Anglo-Saxon mantle being now discarded by persons of distinction. The tunic underneath was of scarlet, bordered with real ermine, which, together with the low square cap or coronet that he wore, gave him something of a regal appearance. A leash of hounds crouched at his feet. Before and below him the heralds and officers of the household arranged themselves, amongst whom Adam de Dutton was conspicuous by his ludicrously-solemn attitude and appearance. The whole scene had the aspect of a military tribunal, especially when Roger de Lacy (by which name we shall now distinguish him) ordered that silence should be proclaimed, and that the Dean of Whalley should be summoned to his presence.

    Robert de Whalley immediately presented himself, with arms folded, and an air of great ceremony in his behaviour.

    "Thou hast been prompt to our bidding; the lark, I trow, had but newly risen from her bed ere thou wast away from thine," said the baron.

    "Three weary miles through this grim forest is good speed ere matins; but I knew the occasion was urgent, and my lord’s commands admit not of delay. The palfrey which you so pleasantly noted yestereen is the sole companion of my pilgrimages to and fro for the good of this noble house. I did offer prayers for the soul of the deceased ere matins this morning, in the chapel."

    "Hast heard aught of, or communicated with, the traitor thou didst denounce to me privily yesterday?"

    "Being holden as one of great sanctity, by common report, peradventure it were dangerous to lay hands on him without an express warranty from our chief."

    "He shall be summoned to our court. Adam de Dutton"—

    "Stay, my lord," said the wily dean. "I would, with all due submission, urge that caution were best in this matter."

    "Caution, De Whalley! and to what end? Are not the Lacies able to execute as well as to command? or is the lax ministration of justice now complained of throughout the realm prevailing here also? By the beard of Hugh Lupus, I will be heard, and obeyed too!"

    "In good sooth, my lord, I see nor let nor hindrance in this matter, provided that he whom we seek were of such ordinary capacities that be common to flesh and blood, and subject to the same laws; but when we have to cope with the devil, we must use his subtilty. Pardon me, my lord," continued the accuser, seeing symptoms of impatience gathering on the brow of the haughty chieftain, "though I am plain of speech, yet is it the more easily understood. This delinquent of whom we speak hath not, as the general report testifieth, the same nature and existence as our own. He useth magic—I have credible testimony thereto, my lord;—and anointeth his body so that it shall be invisible. The free unconfined air is not more accessible to the scared bird than rocks and walls are to this impalpable mockery of our form; and yet he may be dealt with."

    "Troth, a man of many faculties. How came he thus?"

    "The vulgar do imagine that by dint of great maceration and humility, by prayer and fasting, he hath attained communion with angels; but I suspect they be those of the bottomless pit!"

    "And why should he withhold the deed?"

    "I know not, save that he purposeth by fraud and subtilty to cast these fair possessions into the treasury of the holy church, and build an abbey hereabout, the like whereof hath not been seen for glory and magnificence."

    "Doth he then deny our right to the inheritance? The Lady Fitz-Eustace had a fair copy of the deed, purporting to be sent by the holy confessor who shrived the testator in his extremity. But how hath this canting hermit gotten the writing into his possession?"

    "I know not, my lord, unless it be that the like arts have enabled him to appropriate it by other means than those of honesty and good faith. But give me a band of men, together with leave so to deal with him as I shall see fit, and I trust ere long to render a good account of the matter. I will come upon him unawares, ere he can render his body inaccessible, and lay hold of the traitor."

    "Traitor!" echoed a voice from behind a screen at the lower extremity of the hall. Every eye was turned in that direction; when lo! the hermit himself, the end and object of their deliberations, stalked forth, unquestioned and unobstructed.

    The baron rose, and his grim eyebrows were fiercely knit and contracted. He looked inquiringly towards the dean, who, for a moment, was confounded by this unexpected event. Yet his presence of mind and fertility of expedient did not forsake him.

    "Let him be instantly bound, my lord," whispered De Whalley, "and holden by main force, or he will escape like a limed bird from the twigs. Let him be led forthwith to the dungeon, where I myself will question him. It is not fitting that this plotter should practise devilish devices upon our assembly."

    At a signal from their chief the soldiers surrounded him; but the hermit, whose features were still hidden by the cowl, took hold of the foremost, and with an incredible strength, dashed him to the ground. The others drew back intimidated.

    "Treason, my lord, treason!" cried the dean; "you behold him even in your presence exercising forbidden arts. Away with him to the dungeon! Guards, do your office."

    "Miscreant, beware!" said the hermit. De Whalley, though bold and generally undaunted, started back at the sound.

    "What, this lawless intromission to our face, and in our council too?" cried the baron. "Seize that hooded kite, knaves, or I will hang every one o’ ye on the Furca ere the sun be two hours older!"

    Roger de Lacy, in a threatening attitude, approached the guards, who now environed the hermit, using more caution than before. Suddenly they rushed upon him, and he was pinioned ere he could make the least resistance.

    At this moment, so anxiously hoped for and expected by the dean, the latter pushed towards him. Thrusting his hand into the hermit’s bosom, the long-coveted parchment was in his grasp, and in a twinkling it was conveyed to his own.

    "How now!" cried the baron, "wherefore in such haste? I trow the deed is ours!"

    With a great show of obedience and respect he drew the parchment again from beneath his robe, and holding it cautiously beside him, exclaimed—

    "My lord, ere this be read is it not prudent that we convey the traitor to the dungeon, lest by his subtilty the writing be wrested from our grasp?"

    The hermit, yet held in close custody of the guards, cried with a loud voice—

    "Who is the traitor let the walls of my cell bear witness, when they heard him offer a heavy bribe that this, the only evidence to the right of the Fitz-Eustace, might be destroyed!"

    "Fatherest thou the accursed progeny of thine avarice upon me?" cried the dean, apparently indignant at so unjust an accusation.

    "Give me the roll," said the constable, "and we will confront him by what he would have withheld. After we have made our own right secure, we adjudge him to his deserts."

    The dean was obliged, however unwillingly, to obey; handing forward the parchment, which Roger de Lacy unfolded in the presence of the hermit. But it would be impossible to describe the consternation of the chieftain when he read therein a formal grant, bequeathing the whole of these vast possessions to Robert de Whalley and his heirs for ever.

    The dean, apparently with surprise, and a well-feigned indignation at the fraud which the hermit intended to have put upon him, exclaimed—

    "I had a grievous suspicion long ago that this hoary hypocrite would play me false; and indeed his great unwillingness to show the deed led me to think that he meditated some deadly wrong."
    "But wherefore," inquired the chieftain, "should there be messengers to Halton with news and credentials so explicit that the estate was left without let or encumbrance to the Lady Fitz-Eustace? A web of mystery is here which we will speedily unravel. Who gave thee this deed? and wherefore shouldest thou conceal it?" said he, addressing the hermit.

    "Roger de Fitz-Eustace," replied the prisoner, "thine honour is abused. That lying instrument was never in my charge."

    "Why hast thou refused to render up the deed?"

    "Lest it should fall into the hands of robbers, and thou shouldest be cheated of thine inheritance. This traitor hath long had an eye to the possession."

    "’Tis his," returned the constable, sternly, "by this good title."

    "’Tis a fraud—a base attempt put forth by this cut-purse to wrest it from thee. Search him, and if thou findest not another, and of a different tenor, hidden about his goodly person, let me die a traitor’s death."

    "I see not that our power hath need of such a pleasant exercise. Thou art accused by him of treachery; and verily ’tis a vain attempt to rid thee of the charge to throw back the accusation upon him thou hast wronged."

    "My Lord de Fitz-Eustace," said the dean,—but Roger looked displeased at this style and address, reminding him so soon of the departure of his lately-assumed title De Lacy,—"your ear and mine have been too long abused by this plotting wizard. He is now subject to my authority. Hereby do I assume my rights, and arraign the culprit before my tribunal."

    The ambitious churchman approached the judgment-seat, whereon he was just ascending; but the hermit, with a desperate effort, burst from his bonds, and ere the guards could arrest him, he had grasped his adversary by the throat.

    "Traitor, I warned thee beforetime. Now will I unrobe thy villany to its very nakedness."

    The hermit, thrusting one hand beneath the garment of his victim, drew forth the real deed, which had been dexterously exchanged by the wily priest for his own fraudulent imposture. He then loosened his grasp, and placed the real instrument in the hands of the baron.

    "’Tis a forgery—- a base disposal of my rights," roared out the infuriate and detected hypocrite.
    But Roger de Lacy immediately saw that the deed was to a similar purport with the copy which had been sent by some unknown hand, immediately on the death of the testator, to Halton Castle.

    With a look of devouring and terrible indignation he cried out—

    "Though thou wert the holy pontiff himself, and all the terrors of the Church were at thy command, thou shouldst not escape my vengeance, thou daring priest! To the Furca!—his offence is repugnant to my nostrils—’tis rank with treason!"

    "Hold!" cried the mysterious hermit; "I have promised him protection, nor shall the promise be foregone."

    "Thou!" cried the warrior, with unfeigned astonishment; "and who art thou that seemest here the arbiter of destiny, whether good or evil?"

    "A sinful but heaven-destined man," replied the hermit, meekly.

    "Our vengeance slumbereth not," said the chief; "the sentence is gone forth, and he dies ere sunset."

    "Not so," replied the hermit, again assuming the attitude of command.

    "By the beard of Hugh Lupus, he dieth."

    "He doth, but not by thy decree."

    "How! methinks the fever of disloyalty hath seized you all: the infection hath so tainted your nature that a skilful leech, whom I employ in cases of emergency, will be of service—my headsman, or hangman, as shall seem most fitting. He dies, I tell thee, though the saints themselves were interceding."

    "I have promised," said the hermit again, with the confidence of careless superiority.

    Adam de Dutton, who had hitherto been waiting anxiously for an opportunity to communicate with his lord, now whispered something in his ear.

    "How!" said the bewildered chieftain; "’tis said thou wearest the badge of our house, and art thyself under some surreptitious disguise."

    "I wear no disguise," returned the hermit calmly; "what thou seest is my badge, and will be, Heaven permitting, until I die."

    "Who art thou?"

    "A sinful mortal like thyself; but worn down with long vigils and maceration. Lord of as wide inheritance as thou, and yet a tenant only in a narrow cell!"

    "Thou speakest riddles;—thy meaning?"

    "I was an outcast, though heir to a vast heritage. I vowed that if He, whose prerogative it is, would cleanse me from my stains, my life should thenceforth be His, and consecrate to Heaven. I was a leper; but my prayer was heard. I washed in yonder holy well which gushes from the rock, whose virtues had been reported to me. Washing daily, with faith and prayer, I was healed. I found close by a convenient hermitage; and many caverns and secret chambers, with hidden passages and communications, had been dug therefrom, by which I could pass to and fro, and thus visit the castle unseen. I was the confessor and companion of Robert de Lacy. At my desire, he left the whole of his domains to the Fitz-Eustace. But thou art not the eldest-born of thy father."

    "My eldest brother has long been dead. He was a leper; his cruel disease drove him from the haunts of men. The last we knew of him, he went forth with cup and clapper as they are wont. Soon after news arrived of his decease."

    "Was he not driven forth by rude and cruel taunts, the rather?" said the hermit, gazing with unaverted eye on the haughty chieftain. "This noble birth and heritage are mine! Behold, ’tis thus I repay your injustice!"

    He threw off his cloak; underneath appeared a complete suit of proof armour, and a surcoat, on which was emblazoned the badge of the Fitz-Eustace.

    "I am Richard Fitz-Eustace, thine elder brother! Nay, put off that brow of discontent. I claim not my birthright; the vows of Heaven are upon me, and to thee and thine will this good inheritance devolve. One right only do I claim—this prisoner is free. Was he not my stay and sustenance when the fiat of Heaven guided me hither? He sheltered me, and had pity on mine infirmity. Moreover, he had some well-founded expectancy towards these domains, by reason of kindred to the Lacies, had they not been devised by will to the Fitz-Eustace. His blood is noble as our own. He thinks there is injustice in the deed, but not to him shall the atonement come. Thou hast a daughter, and my prescience hath this consequence, that by her this rankling wound shall be healed. If so be that he have found favour in her sight, let her and the son of this ambitious priest be joined together in the bonds of holy wedlock; for my word is gone forth—his blood mingles with ours."

    The whole assembly were aghast with this thrilling discovery. The baron would have embraced his brother; but the gloomy ascetic forbade. He left the hall, returned to his cell, and but a short period elapsed ere the grave he had prepared with his own hands was closed over his corpse—the period of his sojourn having been shortened, no doubt, by the austerities and mortifications he deemed himself called upon to endure.

    Maud was shortly afterwards united to Geoffery de Whalley, unto whom her father granted the Villa de Tunley or Townley, and the manor of Coldcoats, with Snodworth, as a marriage portion. From them is descended the present owner of Townley, nephew to that celebrated scholar and antiquary, Charles Townley, the twenty-ninth in descent from Spartlingus, the first Dean of Whalley upon record. The latter was predecessor to Cutwulph, whose exploits in the days of Canute we have before noticed.

    Soon afterwards died Robert de Whalley, his departure hastened, it is said, by grief and chagrin at the loss of these long-coveted possessions.

    Roger de Lacy died 1st October A.D. 1211, after a long and active life, spent between his arduous wars and invasions of the Welsh, and his no less arduous journeyings to and fro between the castles of Clitheroe and Pontefract, where he spent the latter part of his days. He was succeeded by John de Lacy, his eldest son, who, by marriage with Margaret, daughter and co-heiress of Robert, son of De Quincy, Earl of Winchester, became Earl of Lincoln by patent from Henry III., the monarch having re-granted this title to him and his heirs for ever.