Kenilworth (Chapter 4, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 4

Not serve two masters?--Here's a youth will try it--
Would fain serve God, yet give the devil his due;
Says grace before he doth a deed of villainy,
And returns his thanks devoutly when 'tis acted,--OLD PLAY.

The room into which the Master of Cumnor Place conducted his worthy
visitant was of greater extent than that in which they had at first
conversed, and had yet more the appearance of dilapidation. Large oaken
presses, filled with shelves of the same wood, surrounded the room, and
had, at one time, served for the arrangement of a numerous collection
of books, many of which yet remained, but torn and defaced, covered with
dust, deprived of their costly clasps and bindings, and tossed together
in heaps upon the shelves, as things altogether disregarded, and
abandoned to the pleasure of every spoiler. The very presses themselves
seemed to have incurred the hostility of those enemies of learning who
had destroyed the volumes with which they had been heretofore filled.
They were, in several places, dismantled of their shelves, and otherwise
broken and damaged, and were, moreover, mantled with cobwebs and covered
with dust.

"The men who wrote these books," said Lambourne, looking round him,
"little thought whose keeping they were to fall into."

"Nor what yeoman's service they were to do me," quoth Anthony Foster;
"the cook hath used them for scouring his pewter, and the groom hath had
nought else to clean my boots with, this many a month past."

"And yet," said Lambourne, "I have been in cities where such learned
commodities would have been deemed too good for such offices."

"Pshaw, pshaw," answered Foster, "'they are Popish trash, every one
of them--private studies of the mumping old Abbot of Abingdon. The
nineteenthly of a pure gospel sermon were worth a cartload of such
rakings of the kennel of Rome."

"Gad-a-mercy, Master Tony Fire-the-Fagot!" said Lambourne, by way of
reply.

Foster scowled darkly at him, as he replied, "Hark ye, friend Mike;
forget that name, and the passage which it relates to, if you would not
have our newly-revived comradeship die a sudden and a violent death."

"Why," said Michael Lambourne, "you were wont to glory in the share you
had in the death of the two old heretical bishops."

"That," said his comrade, "was while I was in the gall of bitterness and
bond of iniquity, and applies not to my walk or my ways now that I
am called forth into the lists. Mr. Melchisedek Maultext compared my
misfortune in that matter to that of the Apostle Paul, who kept the
clothes of the witnesses who stoned Saint Stephen. He held forth on the
matter three Sabbaths past, and illustrated the same by the conduct of
an honourable person present, meaning me."

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