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18.- Oliver Cromwell.
a-băshed', humbled and confused. | doŭbʻlet, thick undercoat. be-tīmes', in good time.
im-bībed', drunk in, adopted. court'iers, court frequenters. wāit, attend, serve. eur-răss', defensive armor. yeo'man, an English commoner.
PREPARATORY NOTES. (1.) King James I. James VI. of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots) became James I. of England, on the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603. A vivid picture of the peculiarities of this king will be found in Sir Walter Scott's “Fortunes of Nigel.”
1. Not long after King James I. took the place of Queen Elizabeth on the throne of England, there lived an English knight at a place called Hinchinbrooke. His name was Sir Oliver Cromwell. The old house in which he dwelt had been occupied by his ancestors for a good many years. In it there was a great hall, hung around with coats of arms and helmets, cuirasses and swords, which his forefathers had used in battle.
2. This Sir Oliver Cromwell had a nephew, who had been called Oliver, after himself, but who was generally known in the family by the name of little Noll. The child was often sent to visit his uncle, who probably found him a troublesome little fellow to take care of. He was for ever in mischief, and always running into some danger or other, from which he seemed to escape only by miracle.
3. Even while he was an infant in the cradle, a strange accident had befallen him. A huge ape, which was kept in the family, snatched up little Noll in his arms, and clambered with him to the roof of the house. There this ugly beast sat grinning at the affrighted spectators, as if it had done the most praiseworthy thing imaginable. Fortunately, however, he brought the child safe down again.
4. One morning, when Noll was five or six years old, a royal messenger arrived at Hinchinbrooke with tidings that King James was coming to dine with Sir Oliver Cromwell. This was a high honor, to be sure, but a very great trouble; for all the lords and ladies, knights, squires, guards, and yeomen, who waited on the king, were to be feasted as well as himself.
5. However, Sir Oliver expressed much thankfulness for the king's intended visit, and ordered his butler and cook to make the best preparations in their power. So
. a great fire was kindled in the kitchen; and the neighbors knew by the smoke which poured out of the chimney that boiling, baking, stewing, roasting, and frying were going on merrily.
6. By and by the sound of trumpets was heard approaching nearer and nearer; and a heavy, oldfashioned coach, surrounded by guards on horseback, drove up to the house. Sir Oliver, with his hat in his hand, stood at the gate to receive the king. His majesty was dressed in a suit of green not very new: he had a feather in his hat, and a triple ruff round his neck, and over his shoulder was slung a hunting horn instead of a sword.
7. Altogether he had not the most dignified aspect in the world; but the spectators gazed at him as if there was something superhuman and divine in his person. They even shaded their eyes with their hands, as if they were dazzled by the glory of his countenance.
8. “How are ye, man?” cried King James, speaking in a Scotch accent; for Scotland was his native country. “By my crown, Sir Oliver, but I am glad to see ye!”
9. The good knight thanked the king, at the same time kneeling down while his majesty alighted. When King James stood on the ground, he directed Sir Oliver's attention to a little boy who had come with him in the coach. He was six or seven years old, and wore a hat and feather, and was more richly dressed than the king himself. Though by no means an illlooking child, he seemed shy, or sulky; and his cheeks were pale, as if he had been kept moping within doors, instead of being sent out to play in the sun and wind.
10. “I have brought my son Charlie to see ye,” said the king. “I hope, Sir Oliver, ye have a son of your own to be his playmate.”
11. Sir Oliver Cromwell made a reverential bow to the little prince, whom one of the attendants had now taken out of the coach. It was wonderful to see how all the spectators, even the aged men, humbled themselves before this child. They looked as if they were ready to kneel down and worship him.
12. The poor little prince! From his earliest infancy not a soul had dared to contradict him; everybody around him had acted as if he were a superior being : so that, of course, he had imbibed the same opinion of himself. He naturally supposed that the whole kingdom of Great Britain and all its inhabitants had been created solely for his benefit and amusement.
13. What a noble little prince he is !” exclaimed Sir Oliver, lifting his hands in admiration. please your majesty, I have no son to be the playmate of his royal highness; but there is a nephew of mine about the house. He is near the prince's age, and will be but too happy to wait upon his royal highness.”
“Send for him, man! send for him!” said the king.
14. But as it happened, there was no need of sending for Master Noll. While King James was speaking, a rugged, bold-faced, sturdy little urchin thrust himself through the throng of courtiers and attendants, and greeted the prince with a broad stare. His doublet and hose (which had been put on new and clean in honor of the king's visit) were already soiled and torn with the rough play in which he had spent the morning. He looked no more abashed than if King James were his uncle, and the prince one of his playfellows.
15. “Here, please your majesty, is my nephew,” said Sir Oliver, somewhat ashamed of Noll's appearance and demeanor. “Oliver, make your obeisance to the king's majesty."
16. The boy made a pretty respectful obeisance, for
in those days children were taught to pay reverence to their elders. King James, who prided himself greatly on his scholarship, asked Noll a few questions in the Latin grammar, and then introduced him to his son. The little prince, in a very grave manner, extended his hand, not for Noll to shake, but that he might kneel down and kiss it. 17.“ Nephew,” said Sir Oliver, “pay your duty to
, the prince.”—“I owe him no duty,” cried Noll, thrusting aside the prince's hand with a rude laugh. "Why should I kiss that boy's hand ?”
18. All the courtiers were amazed and confounded, and Sir Oliver the most of all. But the king laughed heartily, saying that little Noll had a stubborn English spirit, and that it was well for his son to learn betimes what sort of a people he was to rule over.
So King James and his train entered the house; and the prince, with Noll and some other children, was sent to play in a separate room while his majesty was at dinner.
HEADS FOR COMPOSITION.
I. “ LITTLE NOLL:” who he was his uncle- his character a strange accident.
II. ARRIVAL OF THE KING: description of the manner in which the king was received by Sir Oliver — “My son Charlie.”
III. MASTER NOLL AND THE PRINCE: appearance of Nollhis introduction to the prince — refusal to “pay his duty” — astonishment of the courtiers — amusement of the king.