Extract from The Last of the Barons – Edward Bulwer Lytton

Posted: June 23, 2010 in Last of the Barons

While hunting for something else entirely, I stumbled over this. This is a book I have long wanted and still hunt old bookshops for. It’s available on line at, amongst other places: http://www.readbookonline.net/read/21062/58717/

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

It was at this crisis, and while throughout all England reigned terror and commotion, that one day, towards the end of July, a small troop of horsemen were seen riding rapidly towards the neighbourhood of Olney. As the village came in view of the cavalcade, with the spire of its church and its gray stone gateway, so also they beheld, on the pastures that stretched around wide and far, a moving forest of pikes and plumes.

“Holy Mother!” said one of the foremost riders, “good the knight and strong man though Edward be, it were sharp work to cut his way from that hamlet through yonder fields! Brother, we were more welcome, had we brought more bills and bows at our backs!”

“Archbishop,” answered the stately personage thus addressed, “we bring what alone raises armies and disbands them,–a NAME that a People honours! From the moment the White Bear is seen on yonder archway side by side with the king’s banner, that army will vanish as smoke before the wind.”

“Heaven grant it, Warwick!” said the Duke of Clarence; “for though Edward hath used us sorely, it chafes me as Plantagenet and as prince to see how peasants and varlets can hem round a king.”

“Peasants and varlets are pawns in the chessboard, cousin George,” said the prelate; “and knight and bishop find them mighty useful when pushing forward to an attack. Now knight and bishop appear themselves and take up the game. Warwick,” added the prelate, in a whisper, unheard by Clarence, “forget not, while appeasing rebellion, that the king is in your power.”

“For shame, George! I think not now of the unkind king; I think only of the brave boy I dandled on my knee, and whose sword I girded on at Towton. How his lion heart must chafe, condemned to see a foe whom his skill as captain tells him it were madness to confront!”

“Ay, Richard Nevile, ay,” said the prelate, with a slight sneer, “play the Paladin, and become the dupe; release the prince, and betray the people!”

“No! I can be true to both. Tush! brother, your craft is slight to the plain wisdom of bold honesty. You slacken your steeds, sirs; on! on! see the march of the rebels! On, for an Edward and a Warwick!” and, spurring to full speed, the little company arrived at the gates. The loud bugle of the new comers was answered by the cheerful note of the joyous warder, while dark, slow, and solemn over the meadows crept on the mighty crowd of the rebel army.

“We have forestalled the insurgents!” said the earl, throwing himself from his black steed. “Marmaduke Nevile, advance our banner; heralds, announce the Duke of Clarence, the Archbishop of York, and the Earl of Salisbury and Warwick.”

Through the anxious town, along the crowded walls and housetops, into the hall of an old mansion (that then adjoined the church), where the king, in complete armour, stood at bay, with stubborn and disaffected officers, rolled the thunder cry, “A Warwick! a Warwick! all saved! a Warwick!”

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