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BOOK OF TABLE-TALK.
I. SANDOWNE CASTLE.
My limbs are bowed, though not with toil,
ONE evening in August last, I was sitting on the beach close by Sandowne Castle. The evening was so mild that I had come out with the intention of bathing; but as the state of the tide was somewhat unfavourable, I fell into some doubt on the subject; and, while in that state of mind, was amusing myself with looking at the numerous ships then riding at anchor in the Downs, and from time to time gathering pebbles from the countless mass of them around me, and throwing them down the beach; in a vain effort to recover an art in which I had excelled in my boyhood, that of being a good shot with a stone, in technical phrase, of “shying well.” While I was thus employed, a man came out of the castle gate, crossed the draw-bridge, and passed me. In passing, he stopped
VOL. II. B
a moment, and looking towards the Goodwin Sands, lying beyond the Downs, he said: “The sands are very visible this evening, sir.” “Are they more so than usual?” “Yes, sir,” “What state are they in now? I mean, is there a firm footing on them?” “O yes; you might play cricket on them. But when the tide returns, they will again become a quicksand.” “Can any one see Sandowne Castle now?” “O yes, sir, I have just come out of it. The serjeant who takes care of it will be very happy to show you any part of it you may wish to see.” “I suppose there is little to be seen 7° “Not a great deal, sir.” “What is the age of it?” He mentioned a date, about two centuries wide of the true one. With that he wished me good evening, and passed on ; and I resolved, instead of taking a cold bath that evening, to take a look at Sandowme Castle. I crossed the draw-bridge ; and, passing under the dark portal, where a portcullis appears to have once been, and where there are three large holes from above, probably for the purpose of pouring shot or molten lead upon the assailants, I entered a sort of court-yard, which runs (I think) quite round, between the ramparts and the central tower, which together form the castle. I made 'my way by a ladder-stair to the ramparts, where I found a serjeant of artillery sitting upon a gun, which by the fleur-de-lis upon it seemed once to have belonged to the King of France, in conversation with one or two men belonging to the preventive service (as it is called), who likewise lodged in the castle. Sandowme Castle was built, together with Deal and Walmer Castles, by Henry the Eighth, for the protection of that coast. None of these castles are of great extent; and they seem to have been designed as a sort of batteries, —the martello towers of the sixteenth century. The walls are about thirteen feet thick: and the apartments are said to be damp; that is, the evidence with which I am acquainted on the subject is in the proportion of two to one in favour of damp. The serjeant of artillery who has the charge of Sandowne Castle told me, to the best of my recollection, that the place was quite dry. On the other hand, the housekeeper at Walmer Castle said that Lord Liverpool's books were spoiled there by the damp: and Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, the wife of Colonel Hutchinson, one of King Charles's judges, who was imprisoned about a year and died in Sandowne Castle, bears witness to the same effect, of damp at Sandowne; to the situation of which, in fact, low and close to the sea, she attributes her husband's death. The serjeant showed me a picture, as he said, of the “famous Colonel Huskisson, who condemned King Charles.” “I dare say, sir,” added the loyal artilleryman, “he did it all for the best.” “No doubt,” I replied; “but was not the colonel's name Hutchinson, not Huskisson ?” 4. The man of war looked for a moment with a mingled expression of wonder, pity, and contempt in his countenance, at the individual whose daring ignorance led
him to dispute the authenticity of that legend which had
been so often told without a murmur of contradiction. “No, sir,” he said, with the good-humoured smile with which a benevolent and superior mature checks presumption, reproves ignorance, and enlightens darkness, —“no, sir, not Hutchinson; Huskisson, Huskisson, sir. Here, sir, is his picture.” I looked at it; that is, as well as the dim twilight and the dingy condition of the portrait would enable me to do. “But there is no name on the picture,” I observed. He looked carefully, but could find none. “ The fact is,” said I, “I have read the memoirs of this man, written by his wife, who was with him here: that is, she lived in Deal, and walked over to see her husband every day; the governor would not let her live in the castle: and I assure you the name was Hutchinson.” My worthy friend looked at me again, and I perceived that my display of scholarship had made some impression upon him. “Well, sir,” he said, “it’s likely his wife would know his name.” “Do you know which was the apartment occupied by the colonel?” I asked. “It is at the bottom of the tower, sir; I will show it you from the rampart. It is too dark to take you ... into it now; and I don't like to open the windows for fear of the powder, as there seems to be some lightning in the air.” When we went round, he pointed to a window well nigh the bottom of the tower, and opening (though then the shutter was closed) upon the space between the central tower and the rampart. “Is not that place damp 7” I asked. “No sir, quite dry; I have known troops quartered there for a considerable time.” “And their health did not suffer from it?” “No, sir, not at all.” “Because I think Mrs. Hutchinson attributed the colonel's death to the place of his confinement; a low, damp situation, near the sea, acting upon the constitution of a person accustomed to a healthy situation inland.” “Why, sir, there might be a difference between being constantly confined, and merely sleeping in a place.” No doubt there would; though, latterly, Colonel Hutchinson's friends obtained permission from the secretary of state for him to take a walk daily upon the beach. Moreover, the worthy castellan's authority respecting the apartment in which the colonel was confined, would seem to be as questionable as his version of the colonel's name. Mrs. Hutchinson says it was “a thorow-fare roome, that had five doors in it, and one of them opened upon a platforme.” Now this I take to be the room in which the picture which my guide said was Colonel Hutchinson's hangs; for I recollect that room had several doors in it, and opened upon a “platforme.” The gallant châtelain probably thought it would make a much more sublime story, after the fashion of modern romance, to make the prisoner's abode a dungeon at the very bottom of the tower, than this comparatively comfortable room. Upon the whole, the picture drawn by Mrs. Hutchinson of the hardships