ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek,
Well might her paleness terror speak!
For there were seen in that dark wall,
Two niches narrow. deep, and tall.
Who enters at such grisly door,
Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
In each a slender meal was laid
Of roots, of water, and of bread.
By each in Benedictine dress
Two haggard monks stood motionless;
Who, holding high a blazing torch,
Showed the grim entrance of the porch :
Reflecting back the smoky beam,
The dark red walls and arches gleam.
Hewn stones and cement were displayed,
And building tools in order laid.

* * * * * * *

And now that blind old abbot rose,

To speak the chapter's doom
On those the walls were to enclose

Alive, within the tomb;
But stopped, because that woful maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essayed;
Twice she essayed, and twice in vain,
Her accents might no utterance gain;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke she gathered strength,

And armed herself to bear.-
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,

In form so soft and fair.
“I speak not to implore your grace,
Well know I for one minute's space

Successless might I sue:
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;
For if a death of lingering pain,
To cleanse my sins be penance vain,

Vain are your masses too.-
I listened to a traitor's tale,
I left the convent and the veil,
For three long years I bowed my pride
A horse-boy in his train to ride.

* * * * * * * He saw young Clara's face more fair, And knew her of broad lands the heir, Forgot his vows, his faith forswore, And Constance was beloved no more. 'Tis an old tale and often told;

But did my fate and wish agree,
Ne'er had been read, in story old
Of maiden true, betrayed for gold,

That loved or was avenged like me.
* * * * * *
This catiff monk, for gold, did swear
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And by his drugs, my rival fair

Saint in heaven should be.
But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice has undone us both.

* Now men of death work forth your will, For I can suffer and be still;

*

And come he slow or come he fast,
It is but death who comes at last.
Yet dread me from my living tomb,
Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome, :
If Marmion's late remorse should wake
Full soon such vengeance would he take
That you should wish the fiery Dane.
Had rather been your guest again.
Behind a darker hour ascends!
The altars quake, the crosier bends,
The ire of a despotic king
Rides forth upon destruction's wing;
Then shall these vaults so large and deep
Burst open to the sea-wind's sweep;
Some traveller then shall find my bones,
Whitening amid disjointed stones,
And, ignorant of priests' cruelty,
Marvel such relics here should be."
Fixed was her look and stern her air;
Back from her shoulders streamed her hair;
The locks that wont her brow to shade,
Stood up erectly from her head ;
Her figure seemed to rise more high
Her voice, despair's wild energy
Had given a tone of prophecy.
Appalled the astonished conclave sate;
With stupid eyes, the men of fate
Gazed on the light inspired form;
And listened for the avenging storm;
The judges felt the victim's dread,
No hand was moved, no word was said.
Till thus the Abbot's doom was given,
Raising his sightless balls to heaven :-
“ Sister, let thy sorrows cease;
Sinful brother, part in peace !"

From that dire dungeon, place of doom,
Of execution too, and tomb,

Paced forth the judges three;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Sorrow it were, and shame, to tell
The butcher-work that there befel,
When they had glided from the cell

Of sin and misery.
An hundred winding steps convey
That conclave to the upper day ;
But, ere they breathed the fresher air,
They heard the shriekings of despair,

And many a stifled groan:
With speed their upward way they take,
(Such speed as age and fear can make,
And crossed themselves for terror's sake,

As hurrying tottering on.
Even in the vesper's heavenly tone,
They seemed to hear a dying groan,
And bade the passing knell to toll
For welfare of a parting soul.
Slow o'er the midnight wave it swung,
Northumbrian rocks in answer rung;
To Warkworth cell the echoes rolled,
His beads the wakeful hermit told ;
The Bamborough peasant raised his head,
But slept ere half a prayer he said;
So far was heard the mighty knell,
The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell,
Spread his broad nostril to the wind,
Listed before, aside, behind ;
Then couched him down beside the hind,
And quaked among the mountain fern,
To hear that sound so dull and stern.

ILLUSTRATIONS. Two haggard monks in this awful and melancholy pica fure are arrayed in “Benedictine dress.” The different orders of monks first originated in some religious men who retired from all business and collected about them others disposed like themselves. These persons lived

and associated together, possessed the same property, and followed nearly the same occupations. Those who joined their society, one after another, and followed them, generation after generation, took the name of the first founder of the society. This person was afterwards called a Saint Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Saint Dominick, were distinguished Fathers of the religious orders in the Catholic Church. The words Benedictine, Franciscan, and Dominican, signify persons severally attached to the orders or institutions of these priests.

Among different orders of the Catholic priesthood, the Jesuits--the order of Jesus—is the most extraordinary. The history of the Jesuits and of their founder, Ignatius Loyola, is highly interesting to those who are sufficiently matured and experienced to understand the effects produced by a great genius in designing great things, and the still greater results which numbers of men acting with untiring energy and united wills, can accomplish. *

Constance first threatens her judges with the vengeance of Marmion, when “late remorse” should revive his affection for her; and her voice, taking the “tone of prophecy,” foretold that yet a “ darker hour” than his provoked spirit could hasten, awaited them in “ the ire of a despotic King." This despotic King was Henry the VIII.

When the Romans possessed Britain they doubtless brought the intelligence of Christianity with them, and Christian converts must have been made in Britain, but how much this Christianity prevailed is not now known. The Saxon masters of Britain, who succeeded the Romans, brought with them the tyranny of ignorance and of physical power; and Christianity was so little regarded after the time of the Saxon domination, that the Popes of Rome considered Britain among the waste places of Heathenism, and sent thither one of the first Christian missions upon record.

About the year 596 Pope Gregory I. sent St. Augustine, or Austin, with forty monks, to instruct the people of

« 前へ次へ »