« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
all who have joined in the sports, the studies, and the honours of this place.
Etone nutriri mihi contigit,
will be a sufficient introduction to our warmest friendship. And surely now, if ever, should we be active. The united excellence of Eton's ablest champions would not compensate for the loss of him, who learnt at her feet so well how the statesman's wisdom might be blended with the poet's sweetness, how Cæsar governed and Tibullus sang. If we cannot repair that sad bereavement, yet under the shade which he loved so fondly, our young hopes may find a shelter. Of those who shall trust their first dallyings with the muse to these pages, some may hereafter follow the track, if they cannot equal the honours, of the noble and lamented Wellesley.
[Our readers will undoubtedly expect a tale from the above-mentioned chest to follow here, but we regret to say, that owing to the remarkably crabbed and antiquated style of the writing, we have been as yet unable to decipher the characters sufficiently to make any selection worthy of perusal. We hope soon to have mastered the Old English, our present obstacle, as we anticipate something exceedingly interesting, from the cursory view we have already had of its contents.-Ed.]
By steam and stokers borne a-head,
All climb the giddy heights of knowledge,
To screen its loves from eye of day;
Our Muse advises us to write;
And while our wit, where'er it dwells,
She asks their smile, and grants her own.
A NIGHT IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. In the south east of Sussex, not far from the sea-coast, lie the ruins of an embattled mansion, which once formed the principal abode of the noble family of Dacre. In external appearance, it is true, the castle of Herstmonceux does not much differ from the appearance it presented, when first raised by Sir Roger de Fynes, four centuries ago. But, alas! if we enter the spacious quadrangle, what a change! Where are the ancient draw-bridges, which excited the admiration of Horace Walpole? The chapel, the hall, the kitchen, the curious galleries, and a hundred other reliques of by-gone days? Within a century, it stood one of the most perfect and magnificent specimens of an old English house: built of brick, and two hundred feet square, Herstmonceux represented well the period when the baronial castle merged into the embattled and turretted mansion; its towers and courts
were complete, its rooms and galleries unimpaired,-nothing altered since the days of its earliest possessors: now, there is hardly a vestige left of its internal arrangement, the mere shell remains. Shame on the memory of the "dull destroyer," who, to build a new house, so wantonly defaced this interesting relique of our forefathers!
Turn we from the melancholy scene, to contemplate the mansion, as it stood under its third possessor, in the reign of King Henry VIII,
The fire was burning merrily in the great hall of Herstmonceux; and its blaze, as it played over the weaponcovered walls, and oaken ceiling of the noble room, was pleasant enough to the inmates, though it was the last evening in April; for the night was cold and stormy, and as the wind swept through the empty courts, and shook the oriel of the hall, its mournful noise seemed like the wail of the guardian spirit of the family, portending some coming woe.
Yet little recked the young lord Dacre, and his merry companions, of the storm without. They sat round the fire in the centre of the hall, and constantly quaffed copious draughts of sack or "maloisie" from the vessels which stood at hand. It was a late hour for those days; the clock of the castle had already tolled nine, and symptoms of the approach of " the drowsie god" were already appearing in the melancholy silence, which at length began to prevail. The songs, which, during the evening, had made the roof ring again, had long ago died away, and all seemed disposed for rest: not so lord Dacre. "How now, gallants!" said he, "is our evening to end thus? Are we, like saintly monks, to seek our chambers now, in order to be only half asleep, at the midnight service? Rouse ye, my drowsy companions; bestir thyself, George Roidon!"
The party addressed betrayed, by his sudden start, an advanced stage of somnolency; he replied however, “ Nay then, Lord Dacre, confess that thou, too, wast weary enough after to-day's expedition; i' faith, mine eyes close of themselves; what want you with us to-night?"
"O! any thing is better than going to bed; by 'r ladye, my wants are small, but I would not lie tossing on my couch, and hearing the wind howl along the walls, like the wailing of a ghost. I shall not go."
"What then will ye do, Lord Dacre?" said John Mantell, another of his boon companions; "wilt go and help Friar John to sing the requiem for thy father's soul? The seven years have not yet expired."
"Or to take care of the hundred candles which burn constantly by his tomb?" added a third friend.
"No, good faith," said Lord Dacre;+" and yet have I lit on a device whereby to pass this weary night; a happier idea has occurred to me. What think ye, gentles, of hunting a stag in the park of Sir Nicholas Pelham, my neighbour of Laughton? Under such a brave stormy sky, we might find sport for a night, I trow; the moon, dark as she is, will give us light enough."
"A Dacre! A Dacre!" cried John Mantell; by the rood, a most gallant thought! What think ye?" turning to the others.
"Why," said George Roidon, "that I will e'en give up my turret chamber for it; such sport likes me well."
And such indeed was the general opinion; the thrce gentlemen completely shook off sleep; and some yeomen,
Thomas de Fynes, second lord Dacre, left a priest twelve marks yearly for seven years, to sing mass constantly for his soul.
† It must be observed, that, according to Stow, lord Dacre was urged on to this frolic by his companions.
who were sitting at a humble distance, near the batteries, at the bottom of the hall, seemed equally well pleased. In truth, such misconduct was but too common among the gallants of the day.
"Well," said lord Dacre," since this gear likes you well, bid some servants prepare to follow us; and, not to alarm my fair consort, I will seek her and say some business calls me forth to-night, the nature of it need I not to impart."
He then left the hall, and prepared to seek the lady Eleanor, his youthful bride. He passed through the three state chambers, which lie beyond the great hall, and thence into the chapel, a small but lofty edifice, reaching to the upper story of the castle. It might have been his fancy, or the wine he had so largely drunk, but, sooth to say, as the moon shone against the image of our lady in one of the painted windows, that holy brow seemed to wear a frown; nay more, it is said that the phantom of his father beckoned with warning hand from the gloom of the building, as if to deter him from his ill-advised project. The young baron was startled, it is true; but he resolved to dismiss all dismal thoughts, and hastily leaving the chapel, passed into the private apartments of the family.
His wife was there, bending over one of Caxton's earliest works, which she closed, on perceiving her unlettered lord.
"Marvel not, dearest," Lord Dacre began, "that I desert thee to-night; my business will detain me but this short space; on the morrow I will return to thy sweet company."
"O! go not to-night," said the lady of Herstmonceux, imploringly; "hark! Thomas, how the wind is howling