« ZurückWeiter »
except in the performance of his official duties, in which he was protected from arrest by the privilege and precincts of the court; but, as he now intended to appropriate the gift to the purposes indicated by its donor, he sallied cheerfully forth, that he might himself convey the agreeable tidings to the parties interested. On passing Whitehall, he observed a considerable crowd around the doors of the banqueting-house, and having learned, upon inquiry, that the King was at that moment touching for the evil, a ceremony which he had never seen, he walked into the palace, and was borne along by the throng until he found himself in the royal presence. So great had been the multitude of people with their sick children, besieging the door of the King's surgeon on the morning before, to obtain the certificates that were to entitle them to be touched, that several had been crushed to death; notwithstanding which calamity, a prodigious crowd was again assembled to witness the process, and all were eagerly pressing into the banqueting-room.
In this magnificent hall, beneath a canopy of state, his Majesty was seated in his robes; the surgeons in attendance caused the sick to be carried up to the throne, where they placed themselves upon their knees, when the King stroked their faces or cheeks with both his hands at once; at which instant, a chaplain in his formalities said,- He put his hands upon them, and he healed them,” which words were repeated to every patient. When they had been all touched they came up again in the same order, and the other chaplain kneeling, and having gold pieces stamped with the
figure of an angel, strung on a white ribbon that hung upon his arm, delivered them one by one to his Majesty, who put them about the necks of the sufferers as they passed, whilst the first chaplain repeated, « That is the true light who came into the world.»—A Gospel had been previously read; an Epistle now followed, with the Liturgy: prayers were put up for the sick, upon whom a blessing was pronounced; and lastly, the Lord Chamberlain and Comptroller of the Household brought a basin, ewer, and towel, for his Majesty to wash. The spacious and painted hall in which the ceremony took place; the splendour that invested the King, as he sate in state; the religious forms that
gave solemnity to the proceedings; the cadaverous faces of the patients, lighted up as some of them were by a ghastly hope; the countenances of their parents and relations agitated by various emotions; the eager eyes of the multitude all fixed upon the King with an expression of devout wonder; and the dead silence of the assemblage, constituted a scene that was deeply affecting, even to a disbeliever in its efficacy. That the ignorant multitude should lend themselves to such a delusion, that the diseased wretches should catch at any phantom that flattered them with a cure, was neither strange nor inconsistent; but that one who was notoriously without religion or morals, who was equally exceptionable as a monarch and as a man, should lend himself to this fraud, should assume a miraculous gift from heaven, should presume to rival his Saviour, and, like the magicians of Pharaoh, attempt to compete with those whom God himself had endowed with su
pernatural power, did appear to Jocelyn a most impious and daring mockery of Heaven.
One circumstance in the proceeding had interested him more than all the mummery with which it was invested. His attention had been particularly directed to the agonized countenance of a poor woman, who was watching the progress of her diseased boy towards the throne. On a previous occasion he had been disappointed of obtaining the royal touch, and her fear, lest he should again prove unsuccessful, kept every feature of her face
suspense; sooner had she seen the King's hand passed across his cheeks, than her maternal feelings drove from her mind every consideration of place and circumstance, and uttering a shriek of joy that made the silent hall echo, she clapped her hands together, crying out,« He is cured! he is cured! he is cured !, and fell into an hysterical passion of loud laughter. Jocelyn subsequently saw her sitting in one corner of the hall with her boy upon her knees, kissing him, and fondling him, and weeping into his bosom with a gush of uncontrolable tenderness.
Just as the assemblage were pouring out of the banqueting-room into the street, it chanced that the Duke of York, who had been hunting upon Hounslow Heath, was passing along the front of Whitehall, accompanied by a guard of horse, a circumstance which occasioned a considerable pressure and some confusion
the throng of people. In the midst of the disturbance, however, the keen eye of Jocelyn recognised a female
figure on the opposite side of the street that electrified him with sudden surprise ;-it was Julia Strickland, leaning on the arm of a gentleman, whose back was towards him, and who, from the transient glance that he could obtain of his figure, appeared to be a stranger. Following the first impulse of his heart, he attempted to rush forward, and renew his acquaintance with her, but the dense crowd, pressing backwards to avoid the horses, for some time baffled all his efforts, vehement as they were, to extricate himself from the mass. No sooner was he enabled to accomplish that object, than he hurried to the Tilt-yard, in wbich direction they had been walking; but the objects of his search were now no longer to be seen: they had become mingled with the crowd, and had disappeared. For a considerable time he paced up and down with the greatest eagerness, gazing in all directions, and peering into the face of every female that he encountered; but convinced at last that his pursuit was hopeless, he gave over the chace, and returned to his own apartments, fatigued in body, and not a little agitated in his mind.
« I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,
The passion which had been so long smouldering in Jocelyn's bosom, and which at one period he had imagined to be extinguished, was quickly rekindled by the unexpected appearance of Julia, although he had seen her only for a moment; while an incipient feeling of jealousy, as to the companion upon whose arm she had been leaning, convinced him that he could never bear to see her in possession of another. All his prudential dissuasives retained their full force in theory, but he began to falter in his resolution of reducing them to practice; and as, he felt his love revive, he looked with additional distaste upon
that course of dissipation to which, in the disappointment of his hopes, he had fled as a substitute, and of which he already began to feel heartily ashamed. He determined to devote himself to the discovery of Julia; to penetrate, if possible, the mystery of her father's fate, and ascertain whether any