Imágenes de página


ings of that iniquitous trial. It was a shameful sight to have seen that vile and impious Judge, Jefferies, in all the wicked pride of his power, raving, and sneering, and canting by turns. With the solemn mockery of justice and holiness, calling out frequently, "Jesus God," and praying the Lord of Heaven and Earth to witness and approve his infamous behaviour. Opposite to him sat the poor Lady, with an expression of calm and pitying sorrow on her fine countenance whenever it was turned towards her unrighteous judge. The witnesses who were heard against her, gave very confused and contradictory evidence, and the Lady, who appeared deeply interested in all that passed, would fre quently have spoken, but she was always interrupted and stopped immediately. At last, when the night had come on, and lights had been brought into the court, she was called upon for her defence. She rose up with some difficulty, owing to the fatigue and anxiety of the day; and her defence was short and very simple. She requested to know by what law she could be convicted of harbouring and abetting traitors, when neither Hicks nor Nelthorpe were attainted or convicted as such at the time of her trial. "I know the King is my Sovereign," she then said, and I know my duty to him; and if I should have ventured my life for any thing, it should have been to serve him. I know it is his due, and I owed all I had in the world to him: but though I could not fight for him myself, my son did; he was actually in arms on the King's side in this business; I instructed him always in loyalty, and sent him thither; it was I that bred him up to fight for his King." As the Lady spoke of her son, her weak voice became clear and strong; she raised her head almost proudly, and her face was lighted up by a gleam of surprising anima tion. The people felt that her words came at once from her heart. Her earnest and artless appeal carried conviction with it. A murmur of applause was heard in many parts of the court. The Lady still continued standing-she seemed about to speak again, and yet she hesitated: at that moment the Lord Chief Justice leaned forward, and darting a look of cold contempt on the prisoner, called out, in a brutal and impatient tone—“ Well, have you done?" His words seemed rather to mean, have done-you shall not speak again." For the first time, the blood mantled richly over the pale cheeks of the Lady Lisle. Sternly she fixed her eyes full on the face of the wretch who had addressed her; and her searching stare confounded and abashed him. With commanding majesty she raised her arm on high, as if to wave him far from her sight, with an expression of fervent eloquence, her lips unclosed; but most suddenly another spirit possessed her. Slowly she dropped her arm-a look of mild, sorrowful reproach, such only a woman could give, passed into

“ You


her face her words were spoken in a whisper, and yet they were distinctly heard. "Yes, my Lord, I have done speaking." She bowed her head and sat down. The unfeeling judge now hastened to sum up the evidence and address the jury. He plainly declared his confidence that they would bring in a verdict of Guilty" against the Lady Lisle. But an English Jury are not easily to be turned from justice. After a short consultation, the foreman declared the Lady Lisle "Not Guilty." The face of the judge flamed into scarlet with repressed rage. He folded his arms, and leaning upon the cushion before him, looked as if he had not heard rightly, as if he had not rightly understood the foreman. "Retire again," he said at length; but then observing that the jury still delayed to do so, a satanic smile played about his closed lips and nostrils; he knit his brows more thickly, and added, in a soft voice: "Retire again-there is certainly some mistake." The jury obeyed, but they soon returned. "Well, Sir," said the Chief Justice, facing the man with a smooth, but subtile look, "Well, Sir-let me hear your verdict now-Guilty, or Not Guilty?""Not Guilty," replied the man immediately, with a loud and decisive voice. The fury of the judge was now beyond control. He started from his seat, and stamped, and swore, and raved, in the delirium of his rage. He dared the jury to hold to such a verdict. With abrupt words, and fierce glances, he reasoned, he expostulated with them, and he flattered them; and lastly, with much pomp and solemnity of expression, he seriously assured them, that if they persisted in the verdict they had so hastily returned, he should feel himself in conscience and in duty bound to enter against them a writ of attaint. Again the jury retired, and consulted together for a longer time than before. The whole court rose when the foreman appeared to deliver his verdict. A breathless silence prevailed, and many a heart sickened with anguish as the word " Guilty" met the ear. But then the stillness that succeeded became even more death-like, till it was broken up by deep sobs, and long heavy groans. The general attention was turned to the aged prisoner. Her daughter, who had been standing beside her, had now fallen on her knees before the Lady Lisle, and her arms were tenderly embracing her mother's waist. Yet the Lady stirred not-her daughter looked up into her face-she was asleep, and smiling calmly as she slept. In the midst of that throng of persons, where every heart was agitated by some strong and moving passion-she, the source and spring of that absorbing interest, was alone superior to it; and secure under the protection of Him in whom she believed and trusted, lulled by that holy peace which passeth all understanding, she slept quietly like a wearied child. The Lady Lisle was

awakened by the grief of her daughter. She gazed awhile upon her tear-streaming countenance, and then, smiling upon her, she gently passed her arm round her neck, and kissed her forehead. The anguish of Tryphena became now overwhelming; more and more closely did she cling round her aged mother, striving_to smother her cries by burying her face in her mother's lap. For a moment the Lady Lisle pressed her fingers to her brow, appearing as if she strove to recollect what was passing. She then gazed gravely round her, and seemed at once to collect all the powers of her mind. Tenderly she laid her hand upon her daughter's head, and whispered to her, "I know it all. Be comforted, dear child. I feel a spirit within me that will not fail." · From that hour the noble Lady seemed indeed to be upheld by an unfailing spirit. She had been feeble and perplexed before, and her fortitude had rather burst forth at intervals than displayed that uniform consistency which it afterwards maintained. Certainly it was now sobered, but it was strengthened. The judge addressed himself to the prisoner, repeating to her the verdict, but adding that the sentence would not be pronounced before the following day. Ere he could finish speaking, hisses and murmurs of "Shame! shame!" rose on every side; but his brutal voice only became louder and louder. He commanded the offenders to be seized, but, as is usually the case on such occasions, no offenders were to be discovered. The court was dismissed.

Little that concerned her passed in the court on the morning after the trial of the Lady Alice Lisle, except that she was called to the bar to hear her sentence pronounced. She would fain have prevailed upon her daughter not to accompany her, fearing that the sentence would cause her unnecessary affliction; but Tryphena had sought for the same strength which upheld her mother, and she would not be refused. Ah! were not these hard words for a daughter to hear pronounced over a mother, whom she looked up to as the gentlest and holiest of her sex.

"There remains no more for me to do, I say, but to pronounce the sentence of the law, which is this: And the court does award, that you, Mrs. Lisle, be conveyed from hence to the place from whence you came; and from thence you are to be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, where your body is to be burnt alive, till you be dead. And the Lord have mercy upon your

soul !"

[ocr errors]

The Lady Lisle raised her eyes solemnly towards heaven, as the false judge ceased speaking, and clasping her hands together, exclaimed "Amen. The will of that same blessed Lord be done!" She then took the hand of her pale, motionless daughter, and said to her, "It is the best will, my child; say with me, Oh God, thy

will be done." Tryphena began almost unconsciously to obey, but the words, as they rose into her throat, seemed to choke her, she could not utter them.

Much interest was made with the king, and the higher authorities of the realm, to procure a pardon for the Lady Lisle; but every application was made in vain. There appeared to have been some design, in the haste with which the trial had been brought on, and the little time the prisoner was allowed to call upon her friends for their assistance. This the Lady Lisle had greatly complained of, but now, the trial was over,—the sentence had been pronounced, and no appeal to reverse it was received. Lady Abergavenny, Lady Marlborough, and many other persons of high rank, friends and relatives of the Lady Lisle, attested her loyalty. "They had known her," said many of them, "since her childhood. She was of an ancient and honourable family, related to some of the noblest houses in the country. Few persons had grieved more sincerely than she had done over the shameful murder of his late majesty, Charles I.; her detestation of the crime had for many years estranged her from her husband. Many of the royal party during the usurpation of Cromwell had received protection and kindness from her." The only effect gained by these petitions was, a respite of the execution for four days, and the change of the sentence from burning to beheading.

The sun rose with a blaze of glorious splendour on the morning of the second of September, and the light clouds which skirted the whole expanse of heaven were radiant with hues of gorgeous colouring; cheerfully did the rich light stream in through the window of the cell in which the Lady Lisle lay sleeping. Her daughter had been long awake, wishing the moments hours, and gazing upon the sweet peaceful countenance of the sleeper, till her own agony almost broke her heart; but she turned to the highest Source for comfort, and gradually her grief became more tranquil. Once she wished that it might please God to make her mother's sleep the sleep of death, so that she might never again unclose her eyes upon the cruel world. Never had the beautiful pure light of morning been unwelcome before; but now Tryphena trembled, and turned away, for it threw the broad bars of the prison window in strongly-marked reflection upon the floor. The clocks of the city began to strike six, and Tryphena gently woke her mother. The Lady Lisle was much refreshed by her sleep, but her first thought on arising, was to pray for a renewal of spiritual strength and consolation. The mother and daughter knelt down together, clasped in each other's arms; they prayed in silence, till, with a low, but un

hands in her

shaken voice, the Lady Lisle repeated aloud the Lord's prayer. Then rising up, she begged her daughter to read to her from the Bible. The part that she chose was St. John's account of the sufferings of our Saviour. "And now I must make one request of my beloved child," said the venerable lady, when her daughter had finished reading. "Let me depart alone from this chamber? The journey is but short to my home. I am, blessed be God, in some manner prepared for it; and I shall now soon be at home.” "Dearest," replied Tryphena, tenderly clasping her mother's 66 own, Indeed, I cannot leave you; I know that you are going, like Naomi, your journey from this idolatrous world to your own home. Ah, how I long to go thither with you! Part of the journey I may go with you, and I must cry with Ruth,-Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following thee. I know that I shall be enabled to attend you, for what are my afflictions during the next few hours to your own. Let me still be at your side, and support you as I have been wont to do, with my arm? I would not have you lean upon another. Oh! my own mother," she continued, with unceasing earnestness, "have we not just read that the women stood beneath the cross of the dying Jesus; may not I dare, I speak it humbly, to follow their example."

The Lady Lisle had received the last embraces of her other children the night before. They were not less attached to their mother than Tryphena; but they felt that they could not have borne to be present when her blood was to be poured out in obedience to the sentence of inhuman and infamous wretches. They had not the high and holy resolution, the enduring and forbearing love which Tryphena felt, even among the murderers of her mother. The awful bell began to toll. The last stroke of the cathedral clock, as it struck eight, had scarcely died away, when a door at the farther end of the scaffold opened slowly, and the Lady Lisle came forward, leaning on the arm of her faithful child. They were both dressed in deep mourning, and the mother held in her hand a folded paper. On the other side she was attended by the minister who had constantly visited her in prison. A general feeling of sorrow and indignation seemed to spread through the immense concourse assembled beneath the scaffold, when the noble lady, then past seventy, pushed back the hood which had half concealed her face, and unfolding the paper in her hand, began to read aloud from it. Her voice was faint, and scarcely audible. She stopped, and turning to one who stood near her, with a sweet dignity of manner, she requested it might be read in a loud voice.

« AnteriorContinuar »