Chapter 19761978

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Chapter NumberVOL II XXIV
Chapter TitleTHE WIZARD EARL.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19761978
Full Date1877-10-06
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count2071
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleHer Majesty's Tower
article text

Her Majesty's Tower.

VOL. II.

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE WIZARD EARL.

BY WILLIAM HEPWORTH DIXON.

A SPACIOUS and secluded house was found for Percy in the Martin tower, on the north-east angle of the Ballium wall; a House which had been occupied before his time by Lord Rochfort

and other gentlemen connected with Anne Boleyn ; which was occupied sfter his time by Archbishop Bancroft and his fellow-sufferers in the church. The vault* of this mural tower, which are exceedingly strong, were used during many reigns as the royal jewel-house; and here occurred the desperate attempt of Colonel Blood to steal the orown. Here also occurred the oomicalitieß of the Tower ghost But the ghost which haunts the stairs and terraces around the Martin tower is that of Harry Percy, who lay in it for sixteen years, and whose quaint garb, unusual studies, and strange companion* ship, caused him to be known as M The Wuard Earl." The terrace on the wall connecting his lodging with the Brick tower and the Constable's tower is called the Earl of Northumberland's Walk. Heriot's sundial, fixed by that famous astro nomer, is still to be seen on the southern face of the Martin tower. Percy's wild youth continued into his middle age. and his character was a puule to the wisest men. Nobody oould dispute his courage, his attainments, bis munificence; though everyone could see that bis temper was bad, his learning fantastic, his conduct suspicious. He was a student^ a swordsman, a sorcerer; a man given equally to cards, to science, and to pleasure ; as prompt with his blade as he was savoy with his tongue. But the scornful habit which had wrought him so muoh evil in his younger time, sooa softened when he came to reside in the Martin tower. Injustice acted on his mind in an unusual way; for he who could hardly bear a prosperous fortune like a man of sense, bore the miseries of a harsh and undeserved imprisonment with noble pride. The wife who oould not live under his roof at Sion and Petworth came to share his oell in the Martin tower; where her pretty children became the spoiled darlings, not of their father only, but of every person in the Tower. The Countess was but too familiar with her new and dismal home—the Tower. Stout Sir John Perrot, the father of her firat husband, died in one of its vaults. The dust of her brother Robert, Earl of Eseex, lay in the dark little church under Develin tower. Many of her brother's old friends and rivals—Raleigh, Cob ham, Grey—were daily seen in the garden and on the wall Her second husband was now a prisoner; not to come forth, though happily she could not know so much, until long after she had worn out her life with care and watching. No man then lying in the Tower was kept a prisoner on more flimsy pretexts than the EarL His real offence was being too great; his pre tended crime was being a kinsman of Thomas Peroy. He had no more to do with the Gun. powder Plot than with the Arabella Plot; but having a hot temper and a vast estate, his fellows of the Council-board were anxious to stop his tongue and to get his land. Such a fine as thirty thousand pounds, he said, was never laid before on any subject in any realm. It was a king's ransom; equal to £160,000 in our present coin. When Percy urged that such a sum could not be wrung from a private estate, the King was advised to take his aflairs in hand and try his skill in collecting rents. It was bad advice; bad in law, and bad in business; for the Star chamber sentence had left the Earl's property intact; and the crown had no legal right to levy the fine by seizure and distress. But what was law to men like Cecil, Suffolk, and Northampton, the three great peers who now ruled the King T The manors were seised, the farms were let on lease, and the rents were collected by agents for the crown. In vain the Earl protested. " This method is not used," he wrote; "my lands are spoiled, my houses ruinated, my suits in law prejudiced, my officers imprisoned, my debts unsatisfied." All this was true. The King's receivers grew fat; but the King himself got little of the spoil. These receivers were allowed two shillings m every pound of rent, and as they paid their receipts into the county courts only onoe a-year, they had the use of his money for many months. To get the place of a receiver of Northumberland's rents was to get a good thing. " In all this provision for them," cried the Earl, " I find not a thought of one penny for either wife, child, or myself. There wants nothing but strewing the land with salt" The Countese came to couit, and threw herself at James' feet, as Lady Raleigh was then doing daily, though with gentler passion and livelier hope; praying that his Majesty would not suffer the bread to be taken from her children's mouths. James told her, with far more kind ness than his wont, that he would never hurt

• Th. right of n^wbUihim "Har Mji^i ÜBwer"

her jand her children. She wu hii old friend's sister, dear to hia heart for that old friend's sake. She must rely upon him. Lady Northumber land flew to the Martin tower with these gracious words ; and Percy, who thought his time had come, drew up a statement and petition to the King ; in which he asked no more than leave to go Eome to his house in Petworth. " Hum," said James, in answer; " I must take my own time/ While waiting on the King's leisure, which was long in coming, Percy made the best of his crowded rooms. He hired from Lord Carew, Master of the Ordnance, the adjoining house— the Brick tower—as an occasional residence for his son Algernon, in whose young face he loved to recall the heroes of his line. Lady Dorothy was, often with, him. Lady Lucy came and went, like a summer bird, bringing gleams of light from the outer world into his cell. In that cell he made a collection of books, globes, and astro labes'; and drew to himself a society of learned and ingenious men. Thomas Heriot came to live with him in the Martin tower, and in the midst of bis many embarrassments Percy never allowed the poor student's pension to go unpaid. Walter Warner and Robert Hues were also his constant visitors; and these three men of science were known in the Tower wards as the Earl of Northumberland's Magi John Dee, the astro* loger, came also to the Martin tower; where he met witu a host of scholars, such as Thomas Allen, Nathaniel Torperley, and Nicholas HilL To all these servants of science the Wiurd Earl was a bountiful partron and enduring friend. One comfort in a confinement which was long without being always strict, lay in the occasional freedom of hU intercourse with Raleigh, in whose experiments of the still-house he felt a warm and mystical interest; hoping that the phials which held the Qreat Cordial would one daj hold the Elixir of Life. All his wife's appeals to James were fruitless. Solomon told the Countess he should like her husband to prove that Thomas Peroy had not given him notice of the plot " Your Majesty, that is so great a scholar," answered Northum* berland, with biting sarcasm, " cannot but know how impossible it is to prove a negative." > At length, some change came over his afMr* at court, in a way which he had neither expected nor desired. As his children grew up, they fell into love with other young people of their age and rank. Of course, they fell into love with persons whom their father scorned as unworthy of alliance with the Peroy blood. Algernon was kneeling at the feet of Lady Anne Cecil, grand* child of Lady Suffolk ; but on a match between the youth and maid being proposed to the recluse in the Martin tower, the Earl proudly exclaimed against it, crying, "The blood of Percy would not mix with the blood of Cecil, if you poured them into a dish." In time, though not with Percy's consent and blessing, thai match of Algernon with Lady Anne took place. The love-affairs of his daughter Lucy crossed him even more than those of his *>n. This girl, whose incomparable beauty as a woman was the theme of a dozen poet% from Waller to Carew, and the snare of eminent men from Strafford to Pym, was fluttering into a first young love with the favorite, James Hay, afterwards Earl of Carlisle. The Wizard raved andtrtormed at her folly. What could a Percy have to do with upstart curs like Hay T Believing in his heart that Hay was following Lady Lucy for her money—as he heard, right truly, that Lady Suffolk was courting Algernon for Ids money, he sent the Scotch favorite word, that if she married any man without his leave she should never get a penny from his purse. But Hay, in love with a pair of bright eyes, and never troubling himself to oount the cost of his love, ran off with this message to the girL caught her up in his arms, obtained her consent, and married her in a trice. The King, who was present at their nuptials, which took place at court, with a thousand gaieties and fooleries—eating the wine posset, throwing the left shoe, and running at the ring made a bridal present to Lady Lucy Hay of a promise for her father's enlargement from the Tower. But Lady Lucy found it an easier task to get a pardon from the King than to induce her father to accept it Percy would not owe his liberty to Hay; and when the order for his release was read to him, the venerable Wizard, swearing he would not owe thanks to Hay, went back to his books, his globes, and his magi in the Martin tower. That tower h»d come Wbe his home. Lady Northumberland was dead; hia son was married ; his health was failing ; and he cared no longer for the glory and greatness of the world. His comrade Heriot was in corre spondence with Kepler, on things of higher moment than the intrigues of a court; on the laws of vision; on the cause of rainbows; on tho sun-spots, which he noticed before they had been seen by Galileo; on the satellites ol Jupiter, which he was the first in England, perhaps in Europe, to observe. He was busy with the theory of numbers, to which Peroy had givfcn a good deal of his time. In the face of such studies, what to the Wizard Earl were the rivalries of Buckingham and Hay? The doors were open ; but he would not go. The Lieutenant informed him that he had orders to use him with honor, and to announce his de parture with saluting guns. Lord Peroy and Lady Lucy, whom he received in sorrow, aa children who had lowered his family pride, per suaded him that he ought to go down to Bath for the benefit of his health. But he was long in making up his mind to go. At length he allowed himself to be put into a coach, and carried away from his nightly lodging and his daily walk, under a joyous salute of guns. But the old Adam was not dead in hia veins. On reaching his house, he heard that the new Duke of Buckingham was driving about town in a coach with six horses. Six horoea ! Who was thin ViUiers, that he should outbrave a Percy in magnificence ? With a cry of contempt, the Earl commanded his servants never to'drive him through London with leas than eight hones to his coach. On his return from Bath, he lived mainly at Petworth, with Heriot constantly at hia side; laying up in the library of that baronial seat the letters and papers which in a new generation added so much to the glory of English science. (TO BE COKHHVIO.J