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Enlightened Men | new year's eve, Norfolks Hse at 11- Xmas 1677

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George's carriage drew up outside the Duke's house, and adjusting his gloves he gathered his cane to step out. There was a quiet to the air today, an absence of wind and bluster, it was a good day, a good day indeed. Looking up at the grand house, the Earl made his progress to the door to make use of the door knocker.


Henry Howard (snr) was some two decades older than George, and yet the younger man thought they might find much in common, at the very least the Duke's council would be invaluable.


Placing both gloved hands atop his cane the Earl stood waiting, the picture of patience hiding the relish he held for the meeting.

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Lord CHichester was ushered in right away. The winter wear was slowly relinquished.


"His Grace is expecting you, my lord. The parlour is prepared with a roaring fire and hot drinks."


There was another pleasant smell wafting through the place as well. London, unlike the vast country estates, generally made it easier to smell things in the kitchens.


"His Grace shall be along in a moment."


Another servant was already at the ready to serve George something to drink. There were several comfortable armchairs by the fire and an ornate side table.


It was some fifteen minutes later before Norfolk arrived wearing a deep green justacorps trimmed in gold.


"Lord Chichester, welcome. I see no sun outside, is it as frigid as it appears?" CLearly the duke had also not been outside, for it was surely cold. When one got older, the cold was no friend.

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It was pleasing to be let in off the step swiftly, and news of an awaiting fire brought a smile to the chilled man's face. "Excellent excellent, such hospitality." he commended, rubbing his hands together as his gloves were passed off, and stamping his feet on the mat even as his cloak was handed over.


He was eager for the promised oasis! (While the scent of a good lunch cooking only added to the sense of goodwill and generosity in the air.)


"Thank you." he gave a nod to the servant, as he was settled into the waiting room.


The fire seemed to have been lit for some long time, here the air was warm, here his shoulders started to relax from their chilled hunch. George sipped at a little mulled wine as he waited, rather than sit he took a self guided tour around the Duke's artworks on the walls. It was a pleasant diversion that made time all but disappear.


"Your Grace." He smiled broadly as a man of good humour entered the room. "Ha, it is colder than pennies on a dead mans eyes."


Approaching the Duke properly he then bowed, "Thank you for seeing me, and for such hospitality. The warmth of life within your own house is grand contrast. It is of such life, that I was eager to speak to you of, in fact. The life of an Anglican man." George did not muss about, but got to the point. He had a sneaking suspicion that despite not being a man for galivanting about London in the winter, news reached the Duke.

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Norfolk had been quite practical in some of his decisions, calculated as well. Of course he had known why Chichester had wished to speak with him.


"I confess, I had not forgotten that day at the chapel. I had thought to see you there again. Alas..." he left the words trail off.


"Ah yes, a life according to the Test Act. I try to look at it, Chichester, as not betraying faith but supporting His Majesty," the duke began as he was served a drink.


THe earl would find that duke's servant attentive and quiet.


"My sons do not see it the same way, but they have the luxury of not being responsible for a great house." There was just a shadow of both anger and despair in that. "Martyrdom is no longer what it once was."


The days of Sir Thomas More were gone. Perhaps it was the murder of the late king that had soured martyrdom for the English, for those nobility who had been executed or murdered had really, then, died in vain once Charles I had been murdered. At least for a decade, it had been in vain, and once that was over it was not exalted, merely sad. Houses in disarray with boys left to run them. Families without heirs that were all but gone. Norfolk was old enough to understand stakes.

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While George being that bit younger did not have as broad perspective, most of the time feeling like one of those boys left to run a house.


Being perfectly frank he replied, "I had some more growing up to do, a tantrum or to to work though." a scattering of expressions moved over the Earls features, from an eyebrow rise to acceptance. "While I would follow the same journey, there was a delay in boarding. Some stubbornness I suppose, and a sense of loyalty to those before."


Though George had felt no love for his father, he still felt bound by honour. Would his father have converted? George thought not. But then his Father had been content to keep to himself out in the country.


"Now there is a fine phrase. For me, it was upon my recent tour of Italy that I most fully came to appreciate that a patriot cannot have his heart divided between Rome and England, a man cannot serve two masters as they say."


He puffed a laugh at the Duke's bitter humour over martyrdom.


"Your sons may come to appreciate your wisdom in time." he added his best wished on that score. "How old is Arundel now? Of an are when one thinks to dig in the heels, for the world to move around him. With some further experience he may see that men who not only survive, but thrive, are those that move with the times."


"One need pick and choose their stands." he added thoughtfully.


"What of Lady Winchester?" he thought to ask if she too was unaligned, "I have upon occasion enjoyed time in your company, she struck me as an insightful woman. Surely she offers you her support?"


It might be a lonely row to hoe, if one family were all pitted against him. George felt empathy for the Duke. (Heaven knew he'd not planned on telling Mirtel of his own transition any time soon.)

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"Yes, the English do indeed see it as serving two masters, but in reality we both know that most Catholics of the nobility would serve the king first if the two were at odds. The common man cannot understand such a thing."


Not to mention the militant Catholics was more oft foreign and of lower status, if not wholly common. Mercenary religious-men who had nothing to lose.


"Too old for me to think a good whipping might bring him to his senses," Norfolk replied with a chuckle. His son was passed the age where physical control was very feasible. Unless he punched the boy. Which was wholly possible.


"Such things cannot make up for the recalcitrance of sons. One day you shall understand Chichester," the older man said of fatherhood. The support of no lady made up for not having that of your heir.


"Your complications are less, so I hope it shall prove easier for you. You are yet to be married and already married your lady sister off to a good Protestant in Russell. No brothers to criticize you or sons or even nephews. If there was a time to take opportunity, now is the time, especially as we are to be allies with the Dutch."

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"The divide between ranks of society are most keenly seen in lack of education and knowledge." he was reminded of his conversation with Sprat. "Knowledge seems a thing that would traverse lips swifter than formal education and books, but alas, common sense is less common than one would hope." His thought became a bit mangled, while there was a concept in there yet to be hammered out properly.


"Heh..." George had a laugh, "and old enough to appreciate his good fortune of that?" Why possibly the son was more outspoken of his dismay, because he knew he'd not be whipped.


"I dare say every generation discovers disagreement with their elders, yet eventually we come back around to appreciate the position of our Fathers." he took a sip of his drink, and paused before asking. "Have you asked him what his objection is? I wonder... if by voicing it, the proverbial wind in his sails might be reduce?"


"Ah yes he Dutch. I had a chance to speak to the Ambassador DeVries last night. Not a verbose man by any means." he gave a small smile at that, "yet does not move with an air of secrets." he mentally compared against the French, where everything was secrets.


"Your son..." George returned to what he felt was nearest to the elder mans heart. "Do you think I might assist in any way?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Yes, undoubtedly, and now half of my sons are too old for such measures," he said. In fact, he had nearly come to blows with each of them at some point during the last year.


"It is their mother's blood." Or perhaps too much Plantagenet blood in general. "Restless, intelligent, and unafraid. They are too young to remember there is good reason to fear the mob. Some ministers have tried to convince the king that the mob does not wish another Civil War no matter how loud it clamors, for such a thing would ruin the kingdom; they are too idiotic to see that the common people do not have a concept of ruining the kingdom. Englishmen are quick to fight and have been quick to fight over false fears of religion for over a hundred years."


It was not going to stop, surely not unless the Queen had a son.


Even a daughter would do, for it would prove her capable of having children.


Then he added, "There are also few Catholic plots that have ever done anything positive." Indeed, in the history of that conflict things rarely ended well for Catholics. Not in England, at least.


"His objection is that he does not wish to spend eternity in Hell," Norfolk said, with a snort. "He thinks I have betrayed us. In a multitude of ways."


He did not feel he need comment on what those ways might be. It was public knowledge that he had married his mistress. It was also public knowledge that Henry and Thomas vehemently objected to being debased by Jane presence as his wife. Jane was not their mother, who had been a very fine lady, Worcester's sister.


"Try if you like, but it likely he might give you an earful for your choices as well." Neither of his sons were sheepish of what their conscience dictated.

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"It's too late for regrets!" George gave a chuckle as Howard mock-lamented the tenacity of his wife's bloodline, "better luck directing than subduing such energy!"


There seemed a simile between Howards tenacious children and the headstrong way of the mobs, that the Duke ruminating upon it might work to some shining light upon the subject.


"One might hope that the House of Common's would be the mediator of good sense. One might wonder then if the men there are not common enough, so that the Commonest consider them another rank they would baulk against? Ah, yet on the topic of Parliament, you must feel a ease within yourself in anticipation of taking your seat there next."


Yet as the Duke mentioned the history of Catholic plots, old loyalties still welled in his heart. "Though it might be said that all villainy has been blamed upon them." he uttered, believing that the truth was that the Catholics meddled far less than any thought.


"Ahh..." he nodded, there was little one could say to such an objection that was voiced by the son. "Yet it is to Our Holy Father to be our final judge, and for we mere mortals to work according to our conscience."


"I think I'll pass on that." he huffed a soundless laugh, heeding the Duke's advice of avoiding that topic with his son. "I have recently gained a greater appreciation for a stature of Tolerance, I would allow him to hold his views, and hope the sands of time soften him."

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"At more ease, yes, but one with any sort of Catholic ties need be careful over his policies in the public realm, so there is yet much to consider Protestant or not."


As to the matter of some plots being blamed on Papists, he could not argue. It was true.


"No doubt," Norfolk agree. "A familiar enemy that most can be called upon to dislike. It is far easier than having to find the actual guilty parties. The mob cares not for veracity, merely the appearance of it."


Norfolk was lately feeling a bit jaded. Between his sons. His wife and her desire to have her George married off. His own lingering scruples. They all burdened him toward that view.


"Mmm Toleration is an ideal most will work toward when the political climate is ideal. Few will speak openly of it outside of court circles, where most know His Majesty advocates that position, and you would do best to not be the first. If you wish to impact court, you must move within its mechanisms rather than outside of it."


He recalled Chichester's passionate speech in Lords, all the folly of it, no matter who else would agree in private. If he made anything sympathetic to Catholics now, none would believe he was not still practicing covertly.

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"Hmm." George nodded upon the Dukes comment, it was this sort of advice that he'd hoped to learn today. "Better then to avoid voicing one's opinion either way in matters of religion. Yet I would claim, at least personally, that my choice of conversion was never to address those topics. Rather, that I might be less impeded in progress within other forums." he met Norfolk eyes, wondering that the man stood similarly?


Yes 'Bloody Catholics' were the scapegoats for many a plot - and these two nodded their agreement, while their understanding of it was rather futile in fact.


"Mum's the word then."


Did the Earl perceive a demoralised manner in the other? He gave the other an encouraging smile, "Yet I place great stow in England’s ability to adjust and grow, why even our embracing of such a variety of new and exotic imports tells of an opeminded people. People who have lost their way a little in focussing upon troubles and conflict. If I one day lift my voice in the House of Lords, it will be for progress. Expansion of trade and commerce. Ah, but let me complete that thought with my resolve to at first keep my seat in silence - and speak only with my hand for the vote."

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"It is a weary dance, politics," Norfolk commented. "But as any dance, the great deal is in the timing." He sighed, "I pray HIs Majesty soon has an heir, for once there are one or two, the air shall be far more cleared for such enlightened issues."


It was no hard task for him to freely offer the advice. It was important to have those of proper mind around when the apropos time arrived. Even His Majesty thought strategy in that way, though his weakness for women sometimes compromised such things.


"That day will come, and the day to speak of commerce and trade to, for we are by virtue of being surrounded by the sea married to it already. Many work toward such a future already." ANd sometimes speaking in Lords was more play-acting and bluster than politics. Wit and who could deride another more thoroughly oft won the point of an argument.


"That an Englishman of a great and noble house is ever judged by which chapel he decides to sit in, is a travesty. But it is a time now where Commoners care less about who bled for what and when." Many old families had been obliterated or weakened in the wars, and those that survived still had a hard time getting back what was hard-earned through centuries; such was the viewpoint of a nobleman, though.


To an extent, the Duke of Norfolk thought none of those commoners would be standing there free Englishmen if his ancestors had not fought and won. He conveniently forgot that his family had one of the largest numbers of treason charges and executions in the last 500 years or so of history.

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  • 2 weeks later...

George grinned at the Duke's pun, then straightened his face as he realised it had not been deliberate, though that lapsed again and smiling he replied, "Well said." Many despaired of them, but personally the Earl loved a good pun.


"Upon that topic - The Lords, from what I read in the papers, Pembroke was rather free with his opinions last year, yet manages to remain popular despite?" George wondered if Pembroke was a man to ally with or, being too vocal, was better to avoid.


Of the greater plight, he nodded. "Those without education look at the worlds with eyes that only know the events of their own generation. While those with benefit of greater learning have it their duty to maintain justice of all that has gone before, and are best to judge the best path for all that is to come." he drew a deep breath on the topic.


The situation in England was a trial that required much patience.


"Yet high and low, there shall be dancing the houses the night the heir is born."


A pause, as a thought popped into his mind. “Has any heard from Monmouth these past months?” He remembered a conversation some long time back, and a claim that proof existed in Europe that Monmouth’s mother and CR had been legally wed. Implausible, George had thought. But then where was Monmouth right now? Lord, that would be a can of worms.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Pembroke," the duke snorted. Was it derisive or simply disapproving? Norfolk had many family connections that the blond earl could have belonged to or wronged.


"The man is surely not an example. Dangerous some say. He might sometimes seem a drunk, but I hear tell he sobers quickly the moment swords are drawn. He baits bears at his estate at Wilton and houses a menagerie of exotic, dangerous animals to rival His Majesty's. Admirable in a vicious sort of way, perhaps."


Norfolk also suspected a few other things of Pembroke, but he need not voice them, for many rumors of the hot-blooded man preceded him.


"His Majesty has sent Monmouth away to the Dutch, and I believe it shall be for some long time," Norfolk said. "I would not mention Monmouth. I hear whispers he embroiled himself in affronts against the Duke of York and in stirring the Catholic paranoia, with Danby somehow involved."


It was nothing that the earl could have not heard himself. Norfolk knew other, more intimate, details, but the hardships to the king were ongoing in that quarter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Knowing naught of such rumours, Chichester now gained his first clue's to a darker than merely hot-headed nature in Pembroke.


"One begins to have concern for his lady wife." George then voiced. If a man loved violence so, what stopped him from treating the lady with the same. Many of vile thing had been done in the name of passion. "Yet her sisters closeness to His Majesty must be a safeguard." If Pembroke laid hands on his wife, Louise and then the King would hear about it.


"Returned to his birthplace..." he mused of Monmouth’s current exile. "Ack, but the animosity between his own and the House fo York is hardly anything new. He must have done something quite spectacular to have received such a stern punishment. His majesty is usually most indulgent of his children don’t you agree."


Whatever Monmouth had done it had been during the period of time that George was blind to all grief but his own. Now, it was like awaking from a Rumplestiltskin-esque slumber and discovering the world anew.

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  • 4 weeks later...

(Eeek, sorry, )


"I don't think him particularly vicious toward the ladies, for I doubt the King would ask him to marry the aunt of his children if it were so."


Duels and other nefarious activity, yes. If anything, the gentleman seemed overprotective of women.


"Yes, and the lady has quite the generous dowry, being the only daughter of a very rich estate." He raised a brow at George as if wondering if that news would result in any looks of interest.


"Sent a burning effigy on a boat toward the castle," Norfolk said quietly. "But you did not hear it from me."


Then he sighed and added, "Monmouth has been warned before. His presence is an unfortunate agitator for those who do not find York an acceptable heir as a Catholic, which then fuels all these anti-Toleration efforts which vex the His Majesty so."


Nor did the King like trouble within his family. When things rose to the level of being dangerous to other's lives, the line was there.

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"Lady Pembroke?" George checked who Norfolk referred to as the singular heiress - no doubt that was a welcome boon to her husband.


The tale of Monmouth was colourful indeed, the Earls pitched with surprise of it. "Ambition once raised is less easily settled." George commented, "the man behind the country party has much to answer for." for he was attuned enough to know that Shaftesbury whispered sweet nothings of his claim to the throne into Monmouth’s ears. Yet for all of that George had agreed with a good deal of the Shaftesbury’s beliefs, there was ever a mix of good with the bad that a man needed to use his own discernment. Discernment seemed to be what the Duke lacked.


"We must pray that the young man learns to sort the wheat from chaff while in Rotterdam."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Norfolk had not meant heiress when he said that she was the only daughter, merely that she was the only daughter, thus the only one dowry that needed to be paid. One needed to be more frugal if one had three or four...or God forbid five or six. One must then get creative with marriages, for buying them all with dowries could hardly be practical even for the most affluent man.


"Lady Susan Herbert, the earl's sister," Norfolk replied. Clearly something had been misunderstood along the way, a failed segue. Such was often the case with dukes, who thought everyone should clearly understand them no matter what they said - not that Norfolk had that demeanor.


"Or Danby," Norfolk added. "Or both, truly, is far more likely. It is rarely just the usual or foreseeable culprit in any one incident. Discord can suit many parties and persons."


It could suit Norfolk as well. Nobody was particularly above it even if none would label themselves a villian.


"But what is required is what is required. Each man knows only his own limits and responsibilities, eh?" It was not for any of them to judge. At least not easily and openly.


"Best to know where other's interests lay, for you can trust almost any man to act in his own interest," the duke added with a friendly salute of his cup.

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  • 1 month later...

"Ah." George then understood, and briefly considered the prospect. As far as potential connections went there was much to recommend it, with the enticement of property being a nice little boon to boot. "One might imagine the Pembroke’s to be indulgent of a man only recently turned to Anglican.


At least one of the Pembroke’s had married a Catholic, which had George suppose they adhered to the royally endorsed practise of toleration far better than most.


While George was quite set upon Frances, he'd be fool not to view the full field, especially given the low odds of success with his current mark. Frances Father had been anything but encouraging. Perhaps he'd come to meet Susan at the ball, and learn her measure.


"Well said - therein the most fundamental truth in life." George nodded sagely at Norfolk’s closing statement. As he looked across at the Duke he felt an affinity with him, he like George did what he thought best for his own Household, yet the rawer truth was they would do what was best for themselves.


Lifting his own cup in a toast like manner he offered, "May I offer a wish that your advancement coincide with my own, and vice versa." he said in a friendly fashion and then downed the remains of his drink. "Yet for now, I have taken enough of your time. Thank you for seeing me Your Grace, it's been a pleasurable meeting indeed."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Norfolk chuckled some, "Indeed, although that may well be the first time I have ever heard the term 'tolerant' applied to Pembroke!" The man was known for being mercurial and quarrelsome. "It is easier, also, to be an Anglican man to marry a Catholic lady than the opposite, especially at the behest of one's king."


Nobody could anticipate Pembroke. Such contrary natures left little predictable in their actions. His presence at court said much for what the King was willing to forgive in the right circumstances.


"A pleasing hope to be sure. May it be so." As to the visit, he said, "Those of us who are to be sensible have a natural affinity. We share the same dangers and challenges." He too finished his drink. "I am certain to see you over the festivities in the coming days."


The duke smiled, setting down his glass. Lord Chichester was an interesting gentleman. One who would be worthy of keeping good contact if he truly wished to convert. The young man did seem in earnest.


"Perhaps then you can speak with my more obliging children," he poked at his own situation with Henry, which they had already touched upon.

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George chuckled alongside, how very true it was that Pembroke’s emotions ran high. "I shall never forget the fistfight at The Lords!" Though thru and thru a Kings Man.


Glasses clinked, good wishes exchanged upon glasses upturn and dull thud as they were then set down. "Ah yes, at the festivities, when concerns are left behind and humour and spirits are high."

Yes that was probably the best time to converse to perhaps pacify Norfolk’s heir.


"God bless." George made his bow to the Duke.


OOC: thanks for a great meet-thread

I'll have George hunt out Henry sometime the night of the ball

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