Page images

my attention into a shop window; the huge man as suddenly did the same. I gave a fide-glance at him, but he appeared to be profoundly contemplating a pair of bellows of no particular novelty of fashion. I sprang forward as abruptly as I had stopped, hoping that my great shadow was sufficiently attracted by the bellows to adhere, and thereby, like the shadow of Peter Schlemyhl, fall away from me. Nothing of the kind. As if my removal was the inevitable cause of his, he turned gravely and renewed_his chase? --no; his pursuit ?-no, it could not be said to be either, but his mechanical following. But he is fat, I thought; and thereupon I put, to use a Derbyshire phrase, my

best leg foremost, and went up the steepest part of the street at a rate of at least five miles an hour. It was useless. The ftupendous man, if he were not the actual grey man of Peter Schlemyhl, had on, it seemed, his seven-league boots. With enormous strides and the equally great accompanying stretches of a stout stick, he cleared the pavement wonderfully, and was still just two yards behind me.

“ This is intolerable !” I said to myself, and, wheeling suddenly round, I stood and gazed down over the town, and over the Wye circling round its bafe, and over the Gloucestershire fields and woods beyond. The man wheeled round too, blew a large hot breath from his puffed cheeks—I had tired him a little then !-took off a capacious broad-brimmed hat, and, wiping a capacious forehead with a brilliant red and yellow silk handkerchief, revealed a gigantic head- what a head he had ! -covered with a profusion of brown and curly hair.

“A very fine view," he observed, still gazing round on the extensive scene of town and ships, and Wye and distant Severn. “Very !” I said, somewhat short. “Very, indeed,” he replied with a much more amiable complacency. I went on, and so did the imperturbable, inevitable stranger. Then


thought I, if he will stick to me, here he shall stand some time and cool his heels. I stood still and stared him full in the face. He looked with a broad, frank look,-I could not call it a ftare -also at me, and observed, “I take it you are for the Beaufort Arms" “I am,” I responded. “Then I am for the Beaufort Arms, too.” It was too much: I went on again, and as the great stranger entered the lobby of the house at the same moment, he observed, “I take it that you propose to breakfast here?” “ Just fo,” I replied. “Then I am for breakfast, too,” he added; “and so we may as well breakfast together."

The adhesive tendency of the stranger was singular, but he had nothing finifter or unpleasant in his appearance; I was under no apprehension of bailiffs or spies, nor did he look like either; on the contrary, he had an ample, open, good-natured and intelligent aspect. There was nothing to be said against his proposition. I sate down to a table ready spread, and ordered coffee and beefsteak. " The same for me,” said the incomprehensible, and seated himself opposite to me. breakfasted for some time in filence, then the great presence began to drop sententious remarks: the air in the early morning in the boat was chilly—the fun now was very cheeringthis town stood on a very steep hill-fide—a good inn this Beaufort Arms--and so on ; to all which I assented, for there was no denying the assertions.

We paid our bills, and rose fimultaneously. “And now, I take it,” said my chosen companion,—the choice being all on his infcrutable fide,—“that you are for Tintern.” “Exactly so,” I said. “Then I am for Tintern, too,” he remarked, “ and so let us join at a chaise, or a boat. I don't mind which."

“But first,” I said, “I shall visit the castle here.' “By all means," he replied; “I am at your service for that.”


[ocr errors]

“ And so," I thought, as we began to descend again to the left towards the castle ruins,“ my jolly Great Unknown, you are for Tintern,-fix miles, and a good spell up-hill; and you dream of a boat up the Wye, or a chaise up the steep hereha! ha! we shall see! I now perceive a coming divorce from my zealously attached one, . If he will do as I do on the way to Tintern, I warrant him he never did such a penance yet; so, whatever the upshot, let us at all events be agreeable. A chaise indeed! A boat !”

I must in my internal amusement have said the last words audibly, for my great rosy friend remarked, “ Ay, it will be a boat, I think, for we are descending.” At the next moment we stood before that great extent of ancient towers and walls, enclosed in their grass-grown ditch, and beautifully draped with ivy. I pulled out my guide-book; my great double, or rather quadruple, drew out one exactly the same. “What an extenfive place,” I observed, and began to read ; my friend--for I think I may call him so, for he showed a remarkable preference for my company-also reading in silence.

" The castle was founded in the eleventh century by William Fitzosborn, Earl of Hereford, a relative of William the Conqueror. In the thirteenth century the greater part of the original structure was taken down, and one, larger and of great strength, was erected. It is still a magnificent pile, towering upon the summit of a cliff whose base is washed by the classic Wye. The fite occupies three acres of ground, and is divided into four courts.” “That is probable," I observed,-"I mean, that it arose in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, for it bears a wonderful resemblance to the old castle and town-walls of Conway, which were built in the eleventh. You observe these great round battlemented towers, with their straight battlemented walls,

[ocr errors]

stretching from one tower to the other." "I never saw Conway,” replied my friend ; “that is interesting.”

But we need not repeat all our remarks. I will now awhile draw from more extensive sources than the guide-book the chief particulars of the history of this castle. There have not been wanting those who have attributed the original


structure to the Romans, simply because a few Roman bricks are visible in the walls of what is called the chapel. It may have been so; but the Britons at least had a castle here, which they called Castell Gwent, or Casgwent, as the town was called by the Saxons Chepestowe, or place of trade. But the


Normans, who raised what remains now, termed it Striguil, and it appears in Doomsday-Book as Caftellum de Eftrighoiel, and in ancient charters is named Striogul, Striguil, etc.

It is divided into four courts, two of which are now used as gardens. As you enter the great eastern portal you behold on your right hand a number of dilapidated offices, besides the lodge of the keeper, and on your left hand the south-eastern ancient tower or citadel, now called Marten's Tower. On your left hand in the third court stand the walls of a fine old gothic building, ninety feet in length, and thirty in breadth, which is called the chapel, but was probably the baronial hall. The style of the arches and niches which remain are more modern than the rest of the castle, and possess much elegance. The fourth court was approached formerly by a drawbridge, long ago destroyed; and the entrance at the western extremity of the castle was also defended by a portcullis, and another drawbridge over the ditch.

The William Fitzosborn who built Striguil or Chepstow castle, fought, it seems, at Hastings, and in reward for his services was made justiciary of England, and received this property, as well as others. But it did not remain in his family beyond the next generation. His eldest son, like nearly all the Normans who came with the Conqueror who had estates at home, returned to them, and left landless adventurers to get estates in England. His second son was a monk; and his third son, Roger, rebelled against the king, and was put in prison. Whilst there the king sent him a suit of royal robes,—that is, a suit of his cast-off clothes, --which so offended him that he threw them into the fire. This, again, so incensed the king that he vowed, “by the brightness of God,” that the proud Roger should never come out of prison; and there Roger died. The king then gave his estate to Gilbert, surnamed Strongbow, brother of

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »