Page images
[ocr errors]

over the field called the Grave, gathering a few of the wild flowers as mementoes of the day.

The scenery about here is very beautiful. The Edge Hills are covered with trees to their summits; and the woods through which we passed were rich in mountain ash, in hawthorn berries, and myriads of wild sloes, with their rich bloom livingly fresh upon them, making them much more delectable to the sight than to the taste. On we went, thinking of the changes which have taken place since that fearful contest, begun on this spot, was rendered necessary; seeking to bring clearly before the mind's eye the men who then lived, and fought, and did such a good day's work in the land. Perhaps we brought the spirits of the past before us, and their presence threw

, a glory and beauty over the landscape; for rarely has a place seemed more lovely and fuller of a certain charm than the scenery of Edge Hills. We lingered and lingered about the various spots rendered famous by deeds done thereon so many years past, glorious in their own beauty, but doubly dear to us, in their combination of moral grandeur and external fairness. We thought of the deaths that made that scene dear and sacred to Englishmen for ever. We thought over that long and bitter struggle which determined what our dear, dear land was to be. On that contest hung a world's freedom; and the right won. There was settled for ever the course which we were to run,still from freedom to freedom, "still achieving, still pursuing,” to end in becoming the “foremost land in all the world.” Such issues hung on

the work begun at Edgehill, on the 23rd of October, 1642; and so long is true glory in winning its proper reward, that we are but just now beginning to honour the men who carried it out to its great and noble end. No wonder that, with such feelings, the place was to us more than beautiful. Here heroic deeds had been done. Here men had borne witness to the death for truth, for loyalty, and freedom; and wherever such things have been, the earth is sacred for evermore. Such is Edgehill; and more and more, we trust, will the feet of pilgrims tread its holy soil. For its loveliness and beauty alone it is worth a visit; but as the scene of the first fight, a journey there becomes almost a patriotic duty.



We stood long in solemn thought before we left the grave beneath whose grass repose the bodies of the heroes who fell at Edgehill. The day was calm and solemn, and our feelings were in unison with the day. We felt as if all nature sympathized with us in our great mournful joy. The trees were turning yellow, and glowed radiantly in their autumn foliage; yet glowed with the sad forebodings of the coming winter, when the leaves would fall away altogether, and leave the branches naked and bare to the cutting north wind and the sharp frost. The flowers were such as might be worn in the wreath of one grieving for the dead. This might be fancy; but we felt its power, and willingly yielded to its influence. Not a mournful feeling altogether, but a grateful and a joyous one, just tinged with that sweet melancholy which renders the evening of a day so pleasant a time for thought and meditation. It was with slow and lingering steps, and with many lookings back, that we left the ever-glorified place,-left it repeating to ourselves the fine words of Dr. Johnson : “ Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the

[ocr errors]

dignity of thinking beings. Far from me and from my friends be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, learning, or virtue. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona."

From Edgehill battle-field we turned, and directed our steps towards Compton-Wingates. Our course lay through the village of Radway, one of the prettiest, loveliest, cleanest of villages we ever beheld. Every house was a picture, with its straw-thatched roof, pleasant garden, over-shadowing trees, and light radiant looks, that made us pause many times to admire and praise. Some of the houses were almost surrounded by trees, whose deep autumnal leaves were made glorious by the rich rays of a western sun. All was quiet and beautiful. Not a sound of toil was to be heard; no sign of labour; there was not a publichouse in the place. Silence, beauty, gracefulness, picturesqueness, reigned supreme. It was thoroughly English,-English in its best sense,-English in its cleanliness, its calmness, its pleasant air of moral happiness, and its many and unmistakeable evidences of well-to-doness. A few fowls were clucking, and stalking about here and there; a stray dog or two looked at us with a sort of canine amazement; and one or two curious and pretty female faces peeped at us over the window-curtains; and these were the only signs of life which greeted us as we very, very slowly passed through the lovely village of Radway.


As we were leaving the place, one of our companions passed through an open space in a hedge, and immediately beckoned us to follow him. We did so; and such a sight as we beheld no song of poet, nor pencil of painter, has ever yet revealed to the world. A small circle of ground, whose circumference was marked by three large chestnut trees, and a piece of still water, received us. The grass was strewed all over with chestnuts and chestnut-shells in all the rich variety of colour which these objects possess. The branches of the trees interlaced above our heads, and formed a roof for our cathedral such as no Gothic architect ever yet conceived, much less executed.

The leaves were of various tints, some of an exquisitely beautiful yellow, some of the deepest gold, some of a soft mild green, some of a gentle grey, and others of all the different shades of hue which nature can paint, but man cannot describe ; and these were so united and blended together as to form a picture of such ineffable loveliness, that the attempt to tell to others what it was to us would seem a burst of poetic extravagance, hyperbolical rhodomontade, or affected bombast. It cannot be described. The trees were not so dense but that the calm, quiet sky beamed through them, and showed every tint blending and harmonizing with each other. The rich chestnuts, just ripe to bursting, with their glossy and brilliant brown, hung in every stage of escape from their prickly shells; and the shells themselves were painted with such a variety of yellow tints, as to contrast with their partly revealed fruit in a most

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »