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for many years. As for Caister, it was seized by the Duke of Norfolk, and not only by him but by successive Dukes of Norfolk more times than we can count, the Pastons recovering possession for short intervals, and then being ousted by their powerful adversaries. At last, after more than twenty years, they were put into peaceable possession of the castle, but this was not until long after the death of John Paston. It might have been thought that one duke was enough for the Pastons to have on their hands at once, but the castle and manor of Caister were not all the Norfolk possessions of the old knight. He owned Drayton and Hellesdon, in the valley of the Wensum, close to Norwich, a valley now fair and fruitful, with its flour and paper mills on one side the river, while beyond it lies Costessy common, and the noble house of the Staffords. The mansion of Hellesdon in those days lay near the church, and, above it, further up on the hill, was Drayton Lodge, which now crowns it as a venerable ruin. But at that time Drayton Lodge was a fortified house, until it was ruined, as we shall see. The manor of Costessy was owned by the Duke of Suffolk, the son of him who had given the good judge' trouble, and who now was to give the Pastons still more annoyance. The duke had really no right either in Drayton or Hellesdon, but, profiting by some trouble in which the Pastons were involved, and which caused the temporary absence of the stout Margaret in London, he came to Norwich with a retinue of 500 men, coerced the followers of Paston, some of whom he threatened to hang, and then proceeded to make a regular attack on the mansion at Hellesdon, which had a slender garrison, quite unequal to cope with such odds. Having thus obtained possession, the duke's men destroyed the mansion, carrying off all the movables, and hacking to pieces what they could not carry off. At the same time they ransacked the church, turned out the parson, and spoiled the images. The day after they destroyed Drayton Lodge, and left it the ruin which still crowns the ridge that, just beyond Bloodsdale, looks down on the valley of the Wensum. Of course the Pastons petitioned for redress, but it was not obtained till John Paston was dead, and, in fact, not till years afterwards, when Edward IV. was more able and willing to render justice than in the earlier years of his reign.
No doubt this fresh trouble contributed to shorten John Paston's days, but he had a greater cause of care than either Caister or Hellesdon. In his last days a very awkward story arose as to Sir John Fastolf's will, on which his right to the property mainly rested, and this was supported by the evidence of William Worcester, the old knight's secretary, who was vexed that no provision had been made for him in the will. The accusation was that that document was a forgery.
This is by far too long a story for us to enter into, and all the less, that the right of the Pastons to the property was ultimately acknowledged; but the charge probably brought John Paston to his grave in 1466. When we consider that all in consequence of this new acquisition of wealth he had, by the machinations of his enemies, been once outlawed and three times imprisuned in the Fleet in the space of five years, we may well think that his access of fortune had been a curse rather than a blessing. Nor was this charge of forgery all. His enemies concocted a strange story that these upstart Pastons, who were thus making to themselves lordships, were after all not of gentle blood, but serfs, bound to the soil and the king's bondsmen, who might, if he chose, dispose of them or their property as if it belonged to the crown. This was so serious à charge that John Paston's son, Sir John Paston, before he asserted his rights to Caister and Hellesdon, was bound to clear himself of the stain attempted to be thrown on the family. The case come before the king in council in 1466, and it was then satisfactorily proved that the Pastons had been of worshipful blood since the Conquest, and that so far from being bondsmen their ancestors had themselves been owners of bondsmen. After this, Sir John Paston, who, strange to say, had another brother of the same name who succeeded him, was much about the Court, and in such favour with Edward IV. that when the king's sister, Margaret, went over in 1468 to be married to Charles the Bold,
of Burgundy, both the brothers John Paston went with her. Then it was that the younger John wrote to his mother that he had never heard of anything like the splendour of the Burgundian Court, except that of King Arthur.' But for all that, the disputes about Sir John Fastolf's will and the seizures of Caister still went on; nor was it until July 1470, that a compromise was made in the matter of the will, by which it was arranged that Bishop Waynflete should be sole executor, that the lands of Fastolf in Essex, Surrey, Norfolk, and Suffolk, which had been much wasted in the interval, should be divided between Sir John Paston and the Bishop, the former undertaking to surrender the titledeeds of all the manors except Caister. The project of a college there was to be given up, seven priests and seven poor scholars in Waynflete's new college of Magdalen in Oxford being founded in its stead. Thus it will be seen, as it were by the irony of Providence, that the express intention of the
old knight was violated. His castle at Caister did not contain his college as he desired, and so far from monks and almsmen perpetually praying for his soul in his own castle, a portion of his possessions passed away to augment the endowments of a college of which he had never heard, in a university which, in all probability, he had never seen.
The stranger, and even the resident, in Oxford, as he passes over the bridge which spans the Cherwell, and gazes at the beautiful tower of Magdalen College thinks, perhaps, of Waynflete and his munificence, but he little dreams that those sculptured stones and that splendid pile arose out of the savings of that vindictive and usurious knight.
A little before this compromise was made, the Pastons had been at last put in possession of Caister by another compromise with the Duke of Norfolk, backed, no doubt, by Sir John Paston's influence at court. For himself, though he was not so stern as either his father or his grandfather, he was rather a provoking character, provoking no less to his stout old mother than to the reader. Always on the lookout for an heiress, and yet never married, owning rich manors, and yet always out at elbows; now threatening to sell land or cut down wood, to the indignation of his mother, who threatened to disinherit him of Mauteby if he did so; now pawning plate, and now borrowing money; he spent his life in rather a disreputable way, not even taking the pains to erect a monument to his father at Bromholm, as he had undertaken to do, and for which his mother had largely contributed, so that it seems to have been unfinished at his death. His conduct was no doubt a great grief to his mother, who survived him. His brother, the other John, who married Margery Brews in 1477, was a much more respectable character. He it was who first of the Pastons really enjoyed the estates of the family. Almost all the disputes about them were over before he came into possession, and besides, as he grew older, the times became more settled and property more secure. When the politic Henry of Richmond overthrew the line of the White Rose, a sterner rule was established in England, where now no great nobles were allowed to swagger about the country with hundreds and thousands of retainers at their back to invade other men's manors and destroy their houses.
The times were gone when the Earl of Warwick could appear in London with six hundred men behind him all clad in his livery, or when he feasted them with numbers of oxen roasted whole, and all the taverns near Warwick Inn behind St. Paul's were cull of his meat, for every man might carry away what he chose from his table. Many of the great lords on either side had perished either by the sword or the axe, and on those that were left the jealous eye of Henry VII. kept strict watch. The reign of brute force in England was over, and the king was now to be absolute lord of all.
By such a state of things none profited so much as that lesser nobility which, like the Pastons, were growing up on the ruins of the old houses. Sir John Paston seems to have proved himself a capable man, for we find him in 1500 ordered to attend on Catharine of Aragon on her arrival in England. In 1503 he died, as appears from a letter
of Archbishop Warham to his son and successor William. This William followed the example of his great-grandfather, and took to the law. Though he did not rise to the Bench he was a man of influence, and one of his daughters was married to Thomas Manners, the first Earl of Rutland, so that the blood of the Pastons runs in the veins of one of our dukes. William had two sons, one Erasmus, who died before his father, and Clement, who was the most illustrious of all the race. Born at Paston Hall near the sea, he had an early love of ships, and going into Henry VIII.'s navy became a great commander. After routing the French fleet he took their admiral, Baron de Blankard, prisoner and kept him at Caister till he paid a ransom of 7,000 crowns, besides giving up plate and jewels. Of this victory a trophy remained among the Paston plate, for Clement bequeathed to his nephew William who succeeded him his
standing bowl called the "Baron St. Blankhard.” Besides these exploits he served on land, being present with the Protector Somerset at Pinkie, and in Mary's reign he was the man to whom Sir Thomas Wyat surrendered. His latter years were spent in building a magnificent mansion at Oxnead.' He lived to a great age, dying at the close of Elizabeth's reign, who called him her father, as the Protector Somerset had called him his “soldier,' and Henry VIII. his champion. ' Dying childless, he was succeeded by a nephew William. In James I.'s time the head of the house became a baronet, and in that of Charles II. he was raised to the peerage in the person of Sir Robert Paston, who was created first Viscount, and afterwards Earl of Yarmouth, probably in return for his boldness in 1664, in proposing in the House of Commons a grant of 2,500,0001. for the Dutch War. He was a man of taste and learning, and impoverished himself by entertaining the King and Queen and the Duke of York at Oxnead. His life, though one of pleasure, was not unattended by danger, for on August 9, 1676, he was waylaid by a band of ruffians
who shot four bullets into his coach, one of which entered his body. The wound, however, was not mortal, and he survived the attempt at assassination six years. His son William married Lady Charlotte Boyle, one of the natural daughters of King Charles, of whom we read in the most interesting correspondence between Prideaux and Ellis recently published by the Camden Society. This great alliance led him into extravagance, and he was soon in difficulties. His father's library and collections were sold, the noble house at Oxnead fell to ruin, and on his death was pulled down and the materials sold to satisfy his creditors. With him the line of the Pastons came to an end, for the second earl had survived all his male issue, and the title became extinct. As for this correspondence, which still exists to perpetuate the memory of these Pastons, and through them that of the old knight who had bequeathed his manors to them that his soul might be prayed for, it passed with the ruin of the family through several hands till it fell into those of Fenn, who rendered a great service to literature and history in rescuing them from destruction. Thanks to him, and after him to Mr. Gairdner, they remain a mine of wealth for all who care to see what our ancestors were in the fifteenth century. It is a mine which we have only touched in this notice; but we are sure that anyone who works in it steadily will find himself the possessor of a treasure of information such as he little dreamt of.
ART. VI.-1. New Lands within the Arctic Circle. Nar
rative of the Discoveries of the Austrian Ship · Tegetthoff' in the Years 1872–74. By Julius PAYER, one of the Commanders of the Expedition. Translated from the German, with the Author's approbation. 2 vols. 8vo. London:
1876. 2. The Official Report of the Recent Arctic Expedition. By
Captain NARES, R.N., Commander of the Expedition.
8vo. London: 1876. THE unexpected return of the English ships fitted out but
twenty months ago for Arctic exploration has given rise to so much discussion as to the dangers and difficulties of Arctic navigation and Arctic travel, that it cannot but appear a most fortunate coincidence which has put before us, at almost the same time, the very interesting volumes in which Lieutenant Payer, of the Austrian army, has related the Arctic experiences