Abbildungen der Seite

Now before her dazzled eyes
Lurid phantasms arise,

Light is wasting fleet,
And the labourer more intent,
Lest the fitful ray be spent

Ere her task's complete.
But the darkness gathers fast,
And she scarcely knows at last

How her fingers ply;
And she thinks it wondrous soon,
Since the hour of glaring noon

That the night is nigh
Now her work is done.--Behold,
Ye who shine in silk and goll,

What is its high cost !
She, who strove at your behest,
She, whose eyes are robbed of rest,

Sight through toil hath lost.
Woe to you, vain child of clay !
Woe to you in robes so gay,

Queens inight envy them !
You with jewels overdone,
Her have robbed who had but one

Of a priceless gem !

No words of mine could add to the force and eloquence of this pleading-I had almost said of this fulmination. What, I would add, should go rather in mitigation of the crime imputed to the courtly beauty. Selfish as vanity is - dangerous as leading to all the sins that follow upon frivolity, I have a true faith in the general kindliness and the general goodtraining of our young countrywomen, whether of the village green, or of the palace circle. I do not believe that ally English lady would knowingly purchase a splendid dress at the cost of health to the artificer. Let them once think-let them once be brought to think-whether they can reasonably expect their orders to be executed within a given time, and what may be the amount of suffering caused by such execution, and, my life upon it, our Lady Maudes would give up their furbelows, and their embroideries, and trust to their native charms of grace and modesty to win as much admiration as they know what to do with. But thien they must be taught to think ; and in matters of humanity, they could hardly find finer precepts than in the poems of Miss Day.

These lady poets are all my friends; I add yet another, personaily a stranger, but still a friend, to the list-Mrs. Robert Dering.


The chimes from yonder steeple

Ring merrily and loud,
And groups of eager people

Towards their music crowd.
Before the altar's railing

A bride and bridegroom stand,
And lacy folds are veiling

The loveliest in the land.
And every ear is trying,

While all beside is still,
To hear the bride replying

Her soft but firm “I will."
The soft “I will” is spoken,

A glance as soft exchanged, -
That yow shall ne'er be broken

Nor those fond hearts estranged.
Another train advances,

No bridal train is this,
Yet there are joyous glances,

And whispered words of bliss.
With youthful pride and pleasure

Approach a happy pair,
Their first and darling treasure

Within the church they bear,
Their babe is now receiving

Upon its placid face,
The badge of the believing,

The holy sign of grace.
Sweet babe! this world is hollow,

A world of woe and strife.
Take up thy cross and follow

Where leads the Lord of Life.
Another train is wending

Within the church its way,
Whilst prayers are still ascending

For blessings on that day.
But here no bride is blushing ;

And here no babe is blest;
But mourners' tears are gushing

For one laid down to rest,

Bright dawns the bridal morning ;

The font to us is dear;
But come, and hear the warning

That's spoken to us here !
A blight may soon be falling

On joys however pure,
But let us make our calling

And our election sure.
And then the day of sorrow

Which lays us in the earth,
Shall have a brighter morrow

Than that which saw our birth.

The sweetness and melody of these stanzas, as well as their pervading holiness, render them no unfitting conclusion to this little garland of verses, varying in manner, but of which we may truly say that they are in tone and feeling most English and most feminine.





If there be one thing more than another in the nice balance of tastes and prejudices (for I do not speak here of principles) which inclines us now to the elegance of Charles, now to the strength of Cromwell—which disgusts us alternately with the license of the Cavaliers and the fanaticism of the Roundheads; it would be the melancholy ruins of castdown castles and plundered shrines, that meet our eyes all over our fair land, and nowhere in greater profusion than in this district, lying as it does in the very midst of some of the most celebrated battles of the Civil Wars. To say nothing of the siege of Reading, which more even than the vandalism of the Reformation completed the destruction of that noble abbey, the third in rank and size in England, with its magnificent church, its cloisters, and its halls, covering thirty acres of buildings—and such buildings! within the outer courts ;-to say nothing of that most reckless barbạrity just at our door-we in our little village of Aberleigh lie between Basing-House to the south, whose desperately defended walls offer little more now than a mere site--and Donnington to the west, where the ruined gate-towers upon the hill alone remain of that strong fortress, which overlooked the wellcontested field of Newbury—and Chalgrove to the north, where the reaper, as he binds his sheaf, still pauses to tell you the very place where Hampden fell. Every spot has its history! Look at a wooden spire, and your companion shakes his head, and says that it has been so ever since the Cavaliers were blown up in the church-tower! Ask the history of a crumbling wall, and the answer is pretty sure to be, Cromwell! That his Highness the Lord Protector did leave what an accomplished friend of mine calls “ his peculiar impressions” upon a great many places in our neighbourhood is certain ; on so many, that there is no actual or authentic catalogue of all; and in some cases there is nothing but general tradition, and the nature of the “impressions” in question, to vouch for the fact of their destruction at that period.

Amongst these, one of the edifices that must have been best worth preserving, and is even now most interesting to see, is the grand old castellated mansion, which in the reign of Elizabeth belonged to one of her favourite courtiers, and was known as Master Comptroller's House, at Grays.

The very road to it is singularly interesting. Passing through the town, which increases in growth every day until one wonders when and where it will stop, and looking with ever-fresh admiration at the beautiful lace-work window of the old Friary, which I long to see preserved in the fitliest manner, by forming again the chief ornament of a church, and then driving under the arch of the Great Western Railway, and feeling the strange vibration of some monster train passing over our heads-a proceeding which never fails to make my pony show off his choicest airs and graces, pricking up his pretty ears, tossing his slender head, dancing upon four feet, and sometimes rearing upon two-we arrive at the long, low, picturesque old bridge, the oldest of all the bridges that cross the Thames, so narrow that no two vehicles can pass at once, and that over every pier triangular spaces bave been devised for the safety of foot-passengers. On the centre arch is a fisherman's hut, occupying the place once filled by a friar's cell, and covering a still-existing chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, now put to secular uses--a dairy or a cellar.

A little way down the river is one of the beautiful islands of the Thames, now a smooth and verdant meadow, edged round with old willow pollards, calmly reflected in the bright, clear waters, but giving back in the twelfth century a far different scene. Here was fought a wager of battle between Robert de Montford, appellant, and Henry de Essex, hereditary Standard-bearer of the Kings of England, defendant, by command, and in the presence of Henry the Second. The story is told very minutely and graphically by Stowe. Robert de Montford at length struck down his adversary, “who fell,” says the old historian, “after receiving many wounds; and the King, at the request of several noblemen, his relations, gave permission to the monks to inter the body, commanding that no further violence should be offered to it. The monks took up the vanquished knight, and carried him into the abbey, where he revived. When he recovered from his wounds, he was received into the community, and assumed the habit of the order, his lands being forfeited to the King." I have always thought that this story would afford excellent scope to some great novelist, who might give a fair and accurate picture of monastic life, and, indeed, of the monastic orders, as landlords, neighbours, teachers, priests, without any mixture of controversial theology, or inventing any predecessors of Luther or Wicliffe. How we should have liked to have heard all about “ The Monastery,” about the “ Abbot," and Father Eustace, untroubled by Henry Warden or John Knox! From the moment that they appear, our comfort in the book vanishes, just as completely as that of the good easy Abbot Boniface himself. There we are in the middle of vexed questions, with the beautiful pile of Melrose threatening every moment to fall about our ears !

Our business now, however, is to get over the bridge, which after the excitement of one dispute with a pugnacious carrier, and another with a saucy groom, whose caracoling horse had wellnigh leaped over the parapets on either side ; after some backing of other carriages, and some danger of being forced to back our own, we at last achieve, and enter, unscathed, the pleasant village of Caversham.

« ZurückWeiter »