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have long been left a prey to rust.
spreads over the adjoining hill; on the fourth, by meadows which are watered by the river Kennet. Close on one side of the house is a thick grove of lofty trees, along the verge of which runs one of the principal avenues to it through the park. It is an irregular building of great antiquity, and was probably erected about the time of the termination of feudal warfare, when defence came no longer to be an object in a country mansion. Many circumstances, however, in the interior of the house, seem appropriate to feudal times. The hall is very spacious, floored with stones, and lighted by large transom windows, that are clothed with casements. Its walls are hung with old military accoutrements, that At one end of the hall is a range of coats of mail and helmets, and there is on every side abundance of old-fashioned pistols and guns, many of them with matchlocks. Immediately below the cornice hangs a row of leathern jerkins, made in the form of a shirt, supposed to have been worn as armour by the vassals. A large oak table, reaching nearly from one end of the room to the other, might have feasted the whole neighbourhood, and an appendage to one end of it made it answer at other times for the old game of shuffle-board. The rest of the furniture is in a suitable style, particularly an arm-chair of cumbrous workmanship, constructed of wood, curiously turned, with a high back and triangular seat, said to have been used by Judge Popham in the reign of Elizabeth. The entrance into the hall is at one end by a low door, communicating with a passage that leads from the outer door in the front of the house to a quadrangle" within; at the other, it opens upon a gloomy staircase, by which you ascend to the first floor, and, passing the doors of some bed-chambers, enter a narrow gallery which extends along the back front of the house from one end to the other of it, and looks upon an old garden. This gallery is hung with portraits, chiefly in the Spanish dresses of the sixteenth century. In one of the bedchambers, which you pass in going towards the gallery, is a bedstead with blue furniture, which time has now made dingy and threadbare, and in the bottom of one of the bed-curtains you are shown a place where a small piece has been cut out and sewn in again,_a circumstance which serves to identify the scene of the following story:— • It was on a dark rainy night in the month of November, that an old midwife sate musing by her cottage fire-side, when on a sudden she was startled by a loud knocking at the door. On opening it she found a horseman, who told her that her assistance was required immediately by a person of rank, and that she should be handsomely rewarded, but that there were reasons for keeping the affair a strict secret, and, therefore, she must submit to be blind-folded, and to be conducted in that condition to the bed-chamber of the lady. With some hesitation the midwife consented; the horseman bound her eyes, and placed her on a pillion behind him. After proceeding in silence for many miles, through rough and dirty lanes, they stopped, and the midwife was led into a house, which from the length of her walk through the apartments, as well as the sounds about her, she discovered to be the seat of wealth and power. When the bandage was removed from her eyes, she found herself in a bed-chamber, in which
* I think there is a chapel on one side of it, but am not quite sure.
were the lady on whose account she had been sent for, and a man of a haughty and ferocious aspect. The lady was delivered of a fine boy. Immediately the man commanded the midwife to give him the child, and catching it from her, he hurried across the room, and threw it on the back of the fire, that was blazing in the chimney. The child, however, was strong, and by its struggles rolled itself off upon the hearth, when the ruffian again seized it with fury, and, in spite of the intercession of the midwife, and the more pitcous entreaties of the mother, thrust it under the grate, and, raking the live coals upon it, soon put an end to its life. The midwife, after spending some time in affording all the relief in her power to the wretched mother, was told that she must begone. Her former conductor appeared, who again bound her eyes, and conveyed her behind him to her own home : he then paid her handsomely, and departed. The midwife was strongly agitated by the horrors of the preceding night; and she immediately made a deposition of the fact before the magistrate. Two circumstances afforded hopes of detecting the house in which the crime had been committed; one was, that the midwife, as she sate by the bedside, had, with a view to discover the place, cut out a piece of the bed-curtain, and sewn it in again; the other was, that as she had descended the staircase, she had counted the steps. Some suspicions fell upon one Darrell, at that time the proprietor of Littlecot-house, and the domain around it. The house was examined, and identified by the midwife, and Darrell was tried at Salisbury for the murder. By corrupting his judge, he escaped the sentence of the law, but broke his neck by a fall from his horse in hunting, in a few months after. The place where this happened is still known by the name of Darrell's Stile, a spot to be dreaded by the peasant whom the shades of evening have overtaken on his way. • Littlecot-house is two miles from Hungerford, in Berkshire, through which the Bath road passes. The fact occurred in the reign of Elizabeth. All the important circumstances I have given exactly as they are told in the country; some trifles only are added, either to render the whole connected, or to increase the impression. » With this tale of terror the author has combined some circumstances of a similar legend, which was current at Edinburgh, during his childhood. About the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the large castles of the Scottish nobles, and even the secluded hotels, like those of the French noblesse, which they possessed in Edinburgh, were sometimes the scenes of strange and mysterious transactions, a divine of singular sanctity was called up at midnight, to pray with a person at the point of death. This was no unusual summons; but what followed was alarming. He was put into a sedan-chair, and, after he had been transported to a remote part of the town, the bearers insisted upon his being blindfolded. The request was enforced by a cocked pistol, and submitted to ; but in the course of the discussion he conjectured, from the phrases employed by the chairmen, and from some part of their dress, not completely concealed by their cloaks, that they were greatly above the menial station they had assumed. After many turns and windings, the chair was carried up stairs into a lodging, where his eyes were uncovered, and he was introduced into a bed
room, where he found a lady, newly delivered of an infant. He was commanded by his attendants to say such prayers by her bed-side as were sitting for a person not expected to survive a mortal disorder. Ile ventured to remonstrate, and observe that her safe delivery warranted better hopes. I;ut he was sternly commanded to obey the orders first given, and with difficulty recollected himself sufficiently to acquit himself of the task imposed on him. He was then again hurried into the chair; but, as they conducted him down stairs, he heard the report of a pistol. He was safely conducted home; a purse of gold was forced upon him ; but he was warned, at the same time, that the least allusion to this dark transaction would cost him his life. He betook himself to rest, and, after long and broken musing, fell into a deep sleep. From this he was awakened by his servant, with the dismal news, that a fire of uncommon fury had broken out in the house of ”, near the head of the Canongate, and that it was totally consumed; with the shocking addition, that the daughter of the proprietor, a young lady eminent for beauty and accomplishments, had perished in the flames. The clergyman had his suspicions, but to have made them public would have availed nothing. He was timid; the family was of the first distinction; above all, the deed was done, and could not be amended. Time wore away, however, and with it his terrors. He became unhappy at being the solitary depositary of this fearful mystery, and mentioned it to some of his brethren, through whom the anecdote acquired a sort of publicity. The divine, however, had been long dead, and the story in some degree forgotten, when a fire broke out again on the very same spot where the house of “” had formerly stood, and which was now occupied by buildings of an inferior description. When the flames were at their height, the tumult, which usually attends such a scene, was suddenly suspended by an unexpected apparition. A beautiful female, in a nightdress, extremely rich, but at least half a century old, appeared in the very midst of the fire, and uttered these tremendous words in her vernacular idiom : • Anes burned; twice burned; the third time I'll scare you all!» The belief in this story was formerly so strong, that on a fire breaking out, and seeming to approach the fatal spot, there was a good deal of anxiety testified lest the apparition should make good her denunciation.
Note 1 1. Stanza xxxiii.
Such an exhortation was, in similar circumstances, actually given to his followers by a Welch chieftain:« Enmity did continue betweene Howell ap Rys ap Howell Vaughan and the sonnes of John ap Meredith. After the death of Evan ap Robert, Griffith ap Gronw (cozen-german to John ap Meredith's sonnes of Gwynfryn, who had long served in France and had charge there), comeing home to live in the countrey, it happened that a servant of his, comeing to fish in Stymllyn, his fish was taken away, and the fellow beaten by Howell ap Rys his servants, and by his commandment. Griffith ap John ap Gronw took the matter in such dudgeon that he challenged Howell ap Rys to the field, which he refusing, assembling his cosins John ap Me. redith's sonnes and his friends together, assaulted
Howell in his own house, after the manner he had seene in the French warres, and consumed with fire his harnes and his out houses. Whilst he was thus assaulting the hall, which Howell ap Rys and many other people kept, being a very strong house, he was shot out of a crevice of the house, through the sight of his beaver into the head, and slayne out-right, being otherwise armed at all points. Notwithstanding his death, the assault of the house was continued with great vehemence, the doores fired with great burthens of straw ; besides this, the smoake of the out-houses and barnes not farre distant annoyed greatly the defendants, for that most of them lay under boordes and benches upon the floore, in the hall, the better to avoyd the smoake. During this scene of confusion omely the old man, Howell ap Rys, never stooped, but stood valiantly in the middest of the floore, armed with a gleve in his hand, and called into them, and bid “them arise like men, for shame, for he had knowne there as greate a smoke in that hall upon Christmas even. In the end, seeing the house could no longer defend them, being overlayed with a multitude, upon parley betweene them, Ilowell ap Rys was content to yeald himself prisoner to Morris ap John ap Meredith, John ap Meredith's eldest sonne, soe as he would swear unto him to bring him safe to Carnarvon Castle, to abide the triall of the law for the death of Graff ap John ap Gronw, who was cosen-german removed to the said Howell ap Rys, and of the very same house he was of. Which Morris ap John ap Meredith undertaking, did put a guard about the said Howell of his trusties friends and ser. vants, who kept and defended him from the rage of his kindred, and especially of Owen ap John ap Meredith, his brother, who was very eager against him. They passed by leisure thence like a campe to Carnarvon; the whole countrie being assembled, Howell his friends posted a horseback from one place or other by the way, who brought word that he was come thither safe, for they were in great fear lest he should be murthered, and that Morris ap John ap Meredith could not be able to defend him, neither durst any of Howell's friends be there, for fear of the kindred. In the end, being delivered by Morris ap John ap Meredith to the constable of Carnarvon Castle, and there kept safely in ward until the assises, it fell out by law that the burning of Howell's houses, and assaulting him in his owne house, was a more haynous offence in Morris ap John ap Meredith and the rest, than the death of Graff ap John ap Gronw in Howell, who did it in his own defence: whereupon Morris ap John ap Meredith, with thirty-five || more, were indicted of felony, as appeareth by the copie of the indictment, which I had from the records.” Sir John WYNNE’s History of the Guydir Family, Lond. 1770, 8vo. p. 1 16.
Note 1. Stanza xxi. O'er Hexham's altar hung my slove. This custom among the Redesdale and Tynedale bor. derers is mentioned in the interesting life of Bernard Gilpin, where some account is given of these wild dis
tricts, which it was the custom of that excellent man regularly to visit.
* This custom (of duels) still prevailed on the Borders, where Saxon barbarisin held its latest possession. These wild Northumbrians indeed went beyond the ferocity of their ancestors. They were not content with a duel: each contending party used to muster what adherents he could, and commence a kind of petty war. So that a private grudge would often occasion much bloodshed.
• It happened that a quarrel of this kind was on foot when Mr Gilpin was at Rothbury, in those parts. During the two or three first days of his preaching, the contending parties observed some decorum, and never appeared at church together. At length, however, they met. One party had been early at church, and just as Mr Gilpin began his sermon the other entered. They stood not long silent: inflamed at the sight of each other, they began to clash their weapons, for they were all armed with javelins and swords, and mutually approach. Awed, however, by the sacredness of the place, the tumult in some degree ceased. Mr Gilpin proceeded: when again the combatants began to brandish their weapons, and draw towards each other. As a fray seemed near, Mr Gilpin stepped from the pulpit, went between them, and addressed the leaders, put an end to the quarrel for the present, but could not effect an entire reconciliation. They promised him, however, that till the sermon was over they would make no more disturbance. He then went again into the pulpit, and spent the rest of the time in endeavouring to make them ashamed of what they had done. His behaviour and discourse affected them so much, that, at his farther entreaty, they promised to forbear all acts of hostility while he continued in the country. And so much respected was he among them, that whoever was in fear of his enemy used to resort where Mr Gilpin was, esteeming his presence the best protection.
• One Sunday morning, coming to a church in those parts before the people were assembled, he observed a glove hanging up, and was informed by the sexton that it was meant as a challenge to any one who should take it down. Mr Gilpin ordered the sexton to reach it him; but upon his utterly refusing to touch it, he took it down himself, and put it in his breast. When the people were assembled, he went into the pulpit, and, before he concluded his sermon, took occasion to rebuke them severely for these inhuman challenges. ‘I hear, saith he, ‘ that one among you hath hanged up a glove, even in this sacred place, threatening to fight any one who taketh it down : see, I have taken it down; and, pulling out the glove, he held it up to the congregation, and then showed them how unsuitable such savage practices were to the profession of christianity, using such persuasives to mutual love as he thought would most affect them.”—Life of Bernard Gilpin, Lond. 1753, 8vo, p. 177.
Note 2. Stanza xxxii. A horseman arm’d, at headlong speed. This and what follows is taken from a real achievement of Major Robert Philipson, called, from his desperate and adventurous courage, Robin the Devil; which, as being very inaccurately noticed in this note upon the first edition, shall be now given in a more au
The chief place of his retreat was not Lord's Island in Derwentwater, but Curwen's Island in the Lake of Windermere.— * This island formerly belonged to the Philipsons, a family of note in Westmoreland. During the civil wars, two of them, an elder and a younger brother, served the king. The former, who was the proprietor of it, commanded a regiment; the latter was a major. « The major, whose name was Robert, was a man of great spirit and enterprise; and for his many feats of personal bravery had obtained, among the Oliverians of those parts, the appellation of Robin the Devil. « After the war had subsided, and the direful effects of public opposition had ceased, revenge and malice long kept alive the animosity of individuals. Colonel Briggs, a steady friend to usurpation, resided at this time at Kendal, and, under the double character of a leading magistrate (for he was a justice of peace) and ap active commander, held the country in awe. This person, having heard that Major Philipson was at his brother's house on the island in Windermere, resolved, if possible, to seize and punish a man who had made himself so particularly obnoxious. How it was conducted, my authority does not inform us—whether he got together the navigation of the lake, and blockaded the place by sea, or whether he landed and carried on his approaches in form. Neither do we learn the strength of the garrison within, nor of the works without. All we learn is, that Major Philipson endured a siege of eight months with great gallantry, till his brother, the colonel, raised a party, and relieved him. « It was now the major's turn to make reprisals. He put himself, therefore, at the head of a little troop of horse, and rode to Kendal. Here, being informed that Colonel Briggs was at prayers (for it was on a Sunday morning), he stationed his men properly in the avenues, and himself, armed, rode directly into the church. It probably was not a regular church, but some large place of meeting. It is said he intended to seize the colonel, and carry him off; but as this seems to have been totally impracticable, it is rather probable that his intention was to kill him on the spot, and in the midst of the confusion to escape. Whatever his intention was, it was frustrated, for Briggs happened to be elsewhere. « The congregation, as might be expected, was thrown into great confusion on seeing an armed man on horseback make his appearance among them ; and the major, taking advantage of their astonishment, turned his horse round, and rode quietly out. But having given an alarm, he was presently assaulted as he left the assembly, and being seized, his girths were cut, and he was unhorsed. • At this instant his party made a furious attack on the assailants, and the major killed with his own hand the man who had seized him, clapped his saddle, ungirthed as it was, upon the horse, and vaulting into it, rode full speed through the streets of Kendal, calling his men to follow him; and with his whole party made a safe retreat to his asylum in the lake. The action marked the man. Many knew him : and they who did not, knew as well from the exploit that it could be nobody but Robin the Devil.”
Dr Burn's - History of Westmoreland."
The Scene of this Poem lies, at first, in the Castle of Artornish, on the coast of Argyleshire; and afterwards in the Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally, it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the Spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English, and the Barons who adhered to that] foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the Scottish crown. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity. The authorities used are chiefly those of the venerable Lord IIailes, as well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the restorer of Scottish monarchy; and of Archdeacon
Barbour, a correct edition of whose Metrical History of
Robert Bruce will soon, I trust, appear, under the care of my learned friend, the Rev. Dr Jamieson."
Abbotsford, 10th December, 1814.
LORD OF THE ISLES.
Autumn departs—but still his mantle's fold
Deem'st thou these sadden'd scenes have pleasure still
No! do not scorn, although its hoarser note
So shalt thou list, and haply not unmoved,
I. « WAkt, Maid of Lorn!» the minstrels sung. Thy rugged halls, Artornish rung, (1) And the dark seas, thy towers that lave, Heaved on the beach a softer wave, As mid the tuneful choir to keep The diapason of the deep. Lull'd were the winds on Inninmore, And green Loch-Alline's woodland shore, As if wild woods and waves had pleasure In listing to the lovely measure. And ne'er to symphony more sweet Gave mountain-cchoes answer meet, Since, met from main-land and from isle, Ross, Arran, Ilay, and Argyle, Each minstrel's tributary lay Paid homage to the festal day. Dull and dishonour'd were the bard, Worthless of guerdon and regard, Deaf to the hope of minstrel fame, Orlady's smiles, his noblest aim, Who on that morn's resistless call Was silent in Artornish hall.
II. a Wake, Maid of Lorn!» 't was thus they sung, And yet more proud the descant rung, “Wake, Maid of Lorn! high right is ours, To charm dull sleep from Beauty's bowers; Earth, ocean, air, have nought so shy But owns the power of minstrelsy. In Lettermore the timid deer Will pause, the harp's wild chime to hear; Rude Heiskar's seal through surges dark Will long pursue the minstrel's bark; (2) To list his notes, the eagle proud Will poise him on Ben-Cailliach's cloud; Then let not maiden's ear disdain The summons of the minstrel train, But, while our harps wild music make, Edith of Lorn, awake, awake!
iii. a 0 wake, while dawn, with dewy shine, Wakes Nature's charms to vie with thine! She bids the mottled thrush rejoice To mate thy melody of voice; The dew that on the violet lies Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes; But, Edith, wake, and all we see Of sweet and fair shall yield to thee!»— • She comes not yet,” gray Ferrand cried: • Brethren, let softer spell be tried, Those notes prolong'd, that soothing theme, Which best may mix with beauty's dream, And whisper, with their silvery tone, The hope she loves, yet fears to own.wHe spoke, and on the harp-strings died The strains of flattery and of pride; More soft, more low, more tender fell The lay of love he bade them tell.
iW. • Wake, Maid of Lorn! the moments fly, Which yet that maiden name allow; " Wake, Maiden, wake! the hour is nigh, When Love shall claim a plighted vow. By Fear, thy bosom's fluttering guest, By Hope, that soon shall fears remove, We bid thee break the bonds of rest, And wake thee at the call of Love!
• Wake, Edith, wake! in yonder bay
W. Retired her maiden train among, Edith of Lorn received the song, But tamed the minstrel's pride had been That had her cold demeanour seen; For not upon her cheek awoke The glow of pride when flattery spoke, Nor could their tenderest numbers bring One sigh responsive to the string.
As vainly had her maidens vied
Wi. O! lives there now so cold a maid, Who thus in beauty's pomp array'd, , In beauty's proudest pitch of power, And conquest won—the bridal hour—With every charm that wins the heart, By nature given, enhanced by art, Could yet the fair reflection view, In the bright mirror pictured true, And not one dimple on her cheek A tell-tale consciousness bespeak?— Lives still such maid?—Fair damsels, say, For further vouches not my lay, Save that such lived in Britain's isle, When Lorn's bright Edith scorn'd to smile.
Wii. But Morag, to whose fostering care
Proud Lorn had given his daughter fair,
Morag, who saw a mother's aid