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my lord would see me, having come so far, but was not sure; for he was regularly denied to all visitors whatever, even the Lord Lieutenant himself. “ But he is not at home," said
nor any one else, not even a maid-servant."
Mr. Simcoe smiled, and observed, that he had left his lordship confined by the gout in his hand; and as for the maids, they never dared, when he (Mr. Simcoe) was absent, to open the gate to friend or foe, after eight o'clock. Then, taking a large whistle from his pocket, instead of applying to the trumpet, he blew it shrilly, which he said would give more certain intelligence to those within of who was without; and in effect, a female voice having now answered, and the dogs being secured, the gate turned upon its rusty hinges, and I was, not without some satisfaction, after a long, rough day, let into the great hall of Belford Tower.
It was (I was going to say) lighted by an immense iron triangular machine, suspended by an iron chain, from the high embowed roof, on which an immense lamp, of the same metal, gave sign of darkness visible, rather than any thing like light; certainly the illumination necessary to exhibit the character of this vast apartment was entirely wanting. All that I could observe in its immediate vicinity to the lamp was, that to the walls were appended a number of cross-bows and casques, and
that several bats were fitting through the vault above.
Mr. Simcoe, however, who had apologized for the dimness and disappeared, now returned with a couple of wax candles, with which he preceded me through another door, not so large, but almost as strong, as that at the entrance, into what he called a dining-room, of large dimensions, but with a low and groyned ceiling. Here there were some signs of comfort, an Axminster carpet over the stone floor; several modern easy-chairs, intermixed with ancient, straight, high-backs; a handsome oak table, covered with a green-cloth, on which were many books; and several pictures of ancestors, grim and grisly indeed, but some of whom had been wardens of the marches, and made this castle their headquarters.
In the chimney, which spread over the whole of one end of the room, were two massive iron dogues, mounted with brass, on which billets of wood were laid, in case fire were wanted, and as the night had set in drizzly and damp, Mr. Simcoe, in his care of me, immediately applied one of the candles to it, and in a moment we were in a blaze.
The hospitable butler then informed me that he had sent up one of the maids to see whether the marquess, who was a fixture on his couch with the gout, could be talked to, before he ventured
to acquaint him with my arrival, but that his lordship was asleep, and he begged me therefore to wait.
All this was in very good style, and at least, if the proverb held, the behaviour of the man indicated no misanthropy in the master. The inference, however, was contradicted by what I presently observed, and which I own astonished me; for, taking up one of the bougies to look at the pictures, I saw in large old English characters, painted on a pannel over the side-board,
“ Immortal Gods! I crave no pelf,
I pray for no man but myself;
Rich men sin, and I eat root."* Expressing my surprise at this, Mr. Simcoe observed that it was thought the greatest curiosity in the castle.
" It was not then placed there by your lord ?” said I. “ O dear, no; for nobody knows how old it is;
* Timon of Athens.
only my lord ordered it to be new varnished, so as to make it more plain ; and he did think of gilding the letters, he so liked the inscription, but was afraid of spoiling the antiquity of it.”
66 And is there no tradition of it to be found in the castle ?” asked I.
My lord, I believe, has a book about it somewhere,” answered the civil Mr. Simcoe, “ but I never took the liberty of inquiring ; only Mr. Parrot, his attorney, told me that it was supposed to be put there by one of the Earls of Northumberland, to whom the place then belonged, and who, being in trouble, concealed himself here in Queen Elizabeth's time, till he went to Scotland, and was there betrayed by all his friends, and beheaded. * This is all I know."
“ A very good account,” said I, “ of the inscription;" and I would have gone on with my questions, but was stopt by a maid's coming in to say the marquess was awake, and desired to see Mr. Simcoe; a summons which that gentleman immediately obeyed.
In a few minutes he returned, with his lord's
The earl alluded to must have been Thomas Earl of North. umberland, who, being guilty of a little matter of rebellion in favour of Popery, took refuge, and lay concealed in different parts of the borders, till he was betrayed by Morton, Regent of Scotland, whom he had protected in his need when an exile in England. Morton delivered him up to Hunsdon, governor of Berwick, who sent him to York, where he was beheaded.
compliments, and request that I would deliver the despatch I had brought from Lord Castleton to him (Simcoe), and my lord hoped to be well enough to see me the next day; meantime desired, that a bed and supper might be prepared for me, and that I would dismiss my chaise.
The latter was done, very much to the disconfort of the driver, who had been making good cheer in the buttery, and would have had no objection to have continued it during the night, instead of encountering the spirits of the Scotch prisoners starved to death in the donjon, who, all Belford believed, as they did their Bible, wandered about the park all night.
It may be supposed that I accepted the marquess's hospitality, and enjoyed a comfortable supper, followed by a tumbler of Mr. Simcoe's punch, which I found the gauger (no doubt a good judge) had not overrated.
The great major-domo being talkative, as well as civil, and I sufficiently curious, I asked him if he knew any thing of the history of the castle, and whether the tradition of the post-boy, as to the starving of prisoners in the donjon, was true.
He said that in one instance it was, which was quite enough to engraft a hundred others upon it. It seems that in the days of Elizabeth a prisoner was brought in, and as usual committed to the don