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was deposited. One played a Champion, and recited some traditional rhymes; another was
............ Alexander, king of Macedon,
To see a little nation courageous and bold. These, and many such verses, were repeated, but by rote, and unconnectedly. There was also occasionally, I believe, a Saint George. In all there was a confused resemblance of the ancient mysteries, in which the characters of scripture, the Nine Worthies, and other popular personages, were usually exhibited. It were much to be wished, that the Chester Mysteries were published from the MS. in the Museum, with the annotations which a diligent investigator of popular antiquities might still supply. The late acute and valuable antiquary, Mr. Ritson, showed me several memoranda towards such a task, which are probably now dispersed or lost. See, however, his Remarks on Shakespeare, 1783, p. 38.—Since the quarto edition of MARMion appeared, this subject has received much elucidation from the learned and extensive labours of Mr. Douce.
With amber beard und flaxen hair: --P: 304. Mr. Scott of Harden, my kind and affectionate friend, and dis. tant relation, has the original of a poetical invitation, addressed from his grandfather to my relative, from which a few lines in the text are imitated. They are dated, as the epistle in the text, from Mertoun-house, the seat of the Harden family.
“ With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
And reverend apostolic air,
Mr. Walter Scott, Lessudden.
The venerable old gentleman, to whom the lines are addressed, was the younger brother of William Scott of Reaburn. Being the cadet of a cadet of the Harden family, he had very little to lose; yet he contrived 'to lose the small property he had, by engaging in the civil wars and intrigues of the house of Stuart. His veneration for the exiled family was so great, that he swore he would not shave his beard till they were restored : a mark of attachment, which, I suppose, had been common during Cromwell's usurpation; for, in Cowley's “ Cutter of Coleman Street,” one drunken cavalier upbraids another, that, when he was not able to afford to pay a barber, he affected to “ wear a beard for the king.” I sincerely hope this was not absolutely the original reason of my ancestor's beard; which, as appears from a portrait in the possession of Sir Henry Hay Macdongal, Bart., and another painted for the famous Dr. Pitcairn,' was a beard of a most dignified and venerable appearance.
Note v. The spirits Blasted Tree.-P. 307. I am permitted to illustrate this passage, by inserting “ Ceubren yr Elyll, or the Spirits Blasted Tree,” a legendary tale, by the Reverend George Warrington:
“ The event, on which this tale is founded, is preserved by tradition in the family of the Vanghans of Hengwyrt; nor is it entirely lost, even among the common people, who still point out this oak to the passenger. The enmity between the two Welch chieftains, Howel Sele, and Owen Glendwr, was extreme, and marked by vile treachery in the one, and ferocious cruelty in the other. The story is somewhat changed and softened, as more favourable to the characters of the two chiefs, and as better answering the purpose of poetry, by admitting the passion of pity, and a greater degree of sentiment in the de
* The old gentleman was an intimate of this celebrated genius. By the favour of the late Earl of Kelly, descended on the maternal side from Dr. Pitcairn, my father became possessed of the portrait in question.
2 The history of their feud may be found in Pennant's Tonr in Wales.
'scription. Some trace of Howel Sele's mansion was to be seen a few years ago, and may perhaps be still visible, in the park of Nannau, now belonging to Sir Robert Vaughan, Baronet, in the wild and romantic tracts of Merionethshire. The abbey mentioned passes under two names, Vener and Cymmer. The former is retained, as more generally used.
THE SPIRITS BLASTED TREE.
Ceubren yr Ellyll.
A chief esteemed both brave and kind,
Came murmuring on the hollow wind.
Starting, he bent an eager ear,-
How should the sounds return again?
And all at home his hunter train.
Then sudden anger flashed his eye,
And deep revenge he vowed to take,
His red deer from the forest brake.
Unhappy chief! would nought avail,
No signs impress thy heart with fear,
Thy warning from the hoary seer?
Three ravens gave the note of death,
As through mid air they winged their way;
They croak,—they scent their destined preg.
Ill omened bird! as legends say,
Who hast the wonderous power to know, While health fills high the throbbing veins,
The fated hour when blood must flow.
Blinded by rage, alone he passed,
Nor sought his ready vassals' aid; But what his fate lay long unknown,
For many an anxious year delayed.
A peasant marked his angry eye,
He saw him reach the lake's dark bourne, He saw him near a Blasted Oak,
But never from that hour return.
Three days passed o’er, no tidings came;
Where should the chief his steps delay? With wild alarm the servants ran,
Yet knew not where to point their way.
His vassals ranged the mountain's height,
The covert close, and wide-spread plain; But all in vain their eager search,
They ne'er must see their lord again.
Yet Fancy, in a thousand shapes,
Bore to his home the Chief once more: Some saw him on high Moel's top,
Some saw him on the winding shore.
With wonder fraught the tale went round,
Amazement chained the bearer's tongue; Each peasant felt his own sad loss,
Yet fondly o'er the story hung.