Westward Ho


"God knows; and God grant we may not hear of shame and sorrow fallen upon an ancient and honorable house of Devon.My brother Stukely is woe enough to North Devon for this generation.""Poor braggadocio!" said Mr.Leigh; "and yet not altogether that too, for he can fight at least.""So can every mastiff and boar, much more an Englishman.And now come hither to me, my adventurous godson, and don't look in such doleful dumps.I hear you have broken all the sailor-boys' heads already.""Nearly all," said young Amyas, with due modesty.."But am I not to go to sea?""All things in their time, my boy, and God forbid that either I or your worthy parents should keep you from that noble calling which is the safeguard of this England and her queen.But you do not wish to live and die the master of a trawler?""I should like to be a brave adventurer, like Mr.Oxenham.""God grant you become a braver man than he! for, as I think, to be bold against the enemy is common to the brutes; but the prerogative of a man is to be bold against himself.""How, sir?"

"To conquer our own fancies, Amyas, and our own lusts, and our ambition, in the sacred name of duty; this it is to be truly brave, and truly strong; for he who cannot rule himself, how can he rule his crew or his fortunes? Come, now, I will make you a promise.

If you will bide quietly at home, and learn from your father and mother all which befits a gentleman and a Christian, as well as a seaman, the day shall come when you shall sail with Richard Grenville himself, or with better men than he, on a nobler errand than gold-hunting on the Spanish Main.""O my boy, my boy!" said Mrs.Leigh, "hear what the good Sir Richard promises you.Many an earl's son would be glad to be in your place.""And many an earl's son will be glad to be in his place a score years hence, if he will but learn what I know you two can teach him.And now, Amyas, my lad, I will tell you for a warning the history of that Sir Thomas Stukely of whom I spoke just now, and who was, as all men know, a gallant and courtly knight, of an ancient and worshipful family in Ilfracombe, well practised in the wars, and well beloved at first by our incomparable queen, the friend of all true virtue, as I trust she will be of yours some day; who wanted but one step to greatness, and that was this, that in his hurry to rule all the world, he forgot to rule himself.At first, he wasted his estate in show and luxury, always intending to be famous, and destroying his own fame all the while by his vainglory and haste.Then, to retrieve his losses, he hit upon the peopling of Florida, which thou and I will see done some day, by God's blessing; for I and some good friends of mine have an errand there as well as he.But he did not go about it as a loyal man, to advance the honor of his queen, but his own honor only, dreaming that he too should be a king; and was not ashamed to tell her majesty that he had rather be sovereign of a molehill than the highest subject of an emperor.""They say," said Mr.Leigh, "that he told her plainly he should be a prince before he died, and that she gave him one of her pretty quips in return.""I don't know that her majesty had the best of it.A fool is many times too strong for a wise man, by virtue of his thick hide.For when she said that she hoped she should hear from him in his new principality, 'Yes, sooth,' says he, graciously enough.'And in what style?' asks she.'To our dear sister,' says Stukely: to which her clemency had nothing to reply, but turned away, as Mr.

Burleigh told me, laughing."

"Alas for him!" said gentle Mrs.Leigh."Such self-conceit--and Heaven knows we have the root of it in ourselves also--is the very daughter of self-will, and of that loud crying out about I, and me, and mine, which is the very bird-call for all devils, and the broad road which leads to death.""It will lead him to his," said Sir Richard; "God grant it be not upon Tower-hill! for since that Florida plot, and after that his hopes of Irish preferment came to naught, he who could not help himself by fair means has taken to foul ones, and gone over to Italy to the Pope, whose infallibility has not been proof against Stukely's wit; for he was soon his Holiness's closet counsellor, and, they say, his bosom friend; and made him give credit to his boasts that, with three thousand soldiers he would beat the English out of Ireland, and make the Pope's son king of it.""Ay, but," said Mr.Leigh, "I suppose the Italians have the same fetch now as they had when I was there, to explain such ugly cases;namely, that the Pope is infallible only in doctrine, and quoad Pope; while quoad hominem, he is even as others, or indeed, in general, a deal worse, so that the office, and not the man, may be glorified thereby.But where is Stukely now?""At Rome when last I heard of him, ruffling it up and down the Vatican as Baron Ross, Viscount Murrough, Earl Wexford, Marquis Leinster, and a title or two more, which have cost the Pope little, seeing that they never were his to give; and plotting, they say, some hare-brained expedition against Ireland by the help of the Spanish king, which must end in nothing but his shame and ruin.

And now, my sweet hosts, I must call for serving-boy and lantern, and home to my bed in Bideford."And so Amyas Leigh went back to school, and Mr.Oxenham went his way to Plymouth again, and sailed for the Spanish Main.

Charles Kingsley