Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

countenance—“ Say at once what thou perceivest in this matter, that our poor wits are not master of.”

“ I will come to the point without further preamble, since it be your majesty's excellent pleasure," said the old courtier, “ though I was going to say, that a thing which looketh so unnatural and so devilish, can be practised for no other end but to ensnare our souls and blind our eyes, that we may be the more easily caught and thrust into the bottomless pit, where it be the fashion of Satan and all his imps to smoke, and to teach others to smoke, like unto the manner of yonder estimable gentleman, Sir Walter Raleigh; therefore, I hold it as most comfortable Christian doctrine, that the mouth hath been made for the accommodation of honest victuals."

“ We have heard that before, my lord, so if thou meanest to enlighten us no further on this matter, · hold thy peace, and Heaven will reward thee for it.”

66 Yes, Heaven will reward me, certainly, as your majesty hath so piously remarked,” continued Lord Bumble; who, in addition to other infirmities consequent on old age, was exceedingly deaf—“I am much bound to your majesty for your majesty's gracious consideration of my long service, and if your majesty doth not, Heaven will reward me, certainly. But I must say, of all your majesty's

[ocr errors]

glorious family, none have I served with half the infinite satisfaction I find in attending on your majesty—though his excellent highness, Henry the Eighth, whose page I was, did say that I was inestimable before bedtime.”

66 Ah, thou didst doubtless make a most admirable sleeping potion," observed her majesty.

“ As your majesty is pleased to say, he did justly appreciate my devotion," proceeded his lordship. “ But I am fearful I am somewhat wandering from the point.”

- Thou hast found that out at last-a plague on thy tediousness !” exclaimed his royal mistress, angrily; but in a low voice.

“ I have already stated enough to satisfy any reasonable personage that smoking is but a devilish pastime, and therefore not to be tolerated—but there is more mischief in it yet. I say it be unlawful and infinitely dangerous. For let it be observed that smoke is black-which is likewise the colour the devil most affects--therefore to be avoided; that the accomplishment of smoking is an art, and the art being black, it standeth to reason it must be a black art—and I do uphold that the exercise of the black art in your majesty's presence is heathenish, treacherous, and abominable, and, consequently, that yonder noble gentleman, the captain of your majesty's guard, ought not to be

a

allowed, as is evidently his intention, to bewitch your majesty and overthrow the state.

“ Sir Walter Raleigh, dost hear that weighty accusation ?” asked the queen, the frown of impatience upon her face now giving way to an undisguised smile: “ Hast thou had the audacity to practise the black art before us? hast the presumption to attempt to bewitch us and overthrow the state?

6 Without attempting any defence, I will, at once throw myself upon your majesty's clemency, of which I have had such excellent experience," replied Sir Walter-refraining awhile from his pipe. “ But perhaps I may be allowed to observe, that if I have attempted to bewitch your majesty, I have followed the example of one who, with her admirable qualities, had bewitched all her loving subjects.”

66 There ! he confesseth it, please your majesty,” cried the old courtier, pressing close to the queen, " therefore I do hold it very comfortable Christian doctrine”

6 Peace, fool !” cried her majesty, in a voice that not only made Lord Bumble hear, but astonished him so, that it sent him staggering two or three paces backwards, upon the delicate toes of some of the maids of honour; who, not liking so impressive a salutation, with features expressive of pain and anger, pushed him rudely out of the way,

VOL. I.

F

[ocr errors]

till he found himself beyond the circle, scarcely able to breathe, and in a complete consternation.

“ I do not believe that he practiseth the black art,” here observed Mistress Alice, who was somewhat of a favourite with the queen, for her lively temper, and, more than all, because she never seemed desirous of attracting the admiration of the noblemen and gentlemen of the court; “ Indeed I will do him the justice to say that I think him no conjuror.”

The queen laughed, and, as matter of course, the courtiers laughed also.

“ Nay, be not so hard upon him, child," said her majesty, “remember he will have to lose his Barbary courser, which will sufficiently punish him for endeavouring to cajole the queen of England.”

. May it please your majesty,” said Sir Walter Raleigh, coming into the room with his pipe in his hand, “ I have smoked out the quantity of tobacco agreed upon."

“ Haste thee and weigh the smoke then,” replied the queen with a chuckle of delight, which was echoed by those around her.

“ I will tell your majesty the weight of the smoke in a few seconds,” responded Raleigh, taking in his hand a small pair of ivory scales which stood on an adjoining table.

“ Thou wilt never get so much smoke into such

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

tiny balances, Sir Walter Raleigh,” observed her majesty with the same tone, “so thou mayest as well acknowledge that the wager is ours."

“ Your majesty will be pleased to observe that the weight in this scale is the exact weight of the ashes left in the pipe," replied Sir Walter, shewing the scales, in one of which he had put the ashes, at an even balance. “ Now, if your majesty will graciously remember the weight of the unburnt tobacco upon which the experiment was made, by subtracting from it the weight of the ashes, which I have here ascertained, the sum produced will be the exact weight of the smoke."

Sir Walter Raleigh, with the scales still in his hand, wore on his noble features, at this moment, an expression of very evident satisfaction, as he turned round and looked down upon his audiencesome of whom seemed incredulous, others wondering, the rest puzzled what to think; but all were waiting in silence the effect of his announcement upon their sovereign, whose abler understanding perceived at once the accuracy of the result, though it was so different from what she had expected, and felt as if she could not enough admire the simplicity of the method which had so easily proved what she thought had been impossible.

6. The gold is thine, Sir Walter Raleigh," said she, rising from her chair with a dignity none

« ZurückWeiter »