Imágenes de páginas

Note LVII.

piece has been cut out and sewn in again,

a circumstance which serves to identify the Littlecot Hall.-P. 362.

scene of the following story :

'It was on a dark rainy night in the month The tradition from which the ballad is ! of November, that an old midwife sat musing founded, was supplied by a friend, (the late by her cottage fireside, when on a sudden Lord Webb Seymour,) whose account I will

she was startled by a loud knocking at the not do the injustice to abridge, as it contains i door. On opening it she found a horseman, an admirable picture of an old English hall:

who told her that her assistance was required 'Littlecote' House stands in a low and immediately by a person of rank, and that she lonely situation. On three sides it is sur

should be handsomely rewarded; but that rounded by a park that spreads over the there were reasons for keeping the affair adjoining hill; on the fourth, by meadows a strict secret, and, therefore, she must subwhich are watered by the river Kennet. ('lose mit to be blindfolded, and to be conducted on one side of the house is a thick grove of in that condition to the bedchamber of the lofty trees, along the verge of which runs one

lady. With some hesitation the inidwife: of įhe principal avenues to it through the

consented; the horseman bound her eyes, park. It is an irregular building of great

and placed her on a pillion behind him. antiquity, and was probably erected about After proceeding in silence for many miles the time of the termination of feudal warfare,

through rough and dirty lanes, they stopped, when defence came no longer to be an object

and the midwife was led into a house, which, in a country mansion. Many circumstances,

from the length of her walk through the however, in the interior of the house, seem apartments, as well as the sounds about her, appropriate to feudal times. The hall is very

she discovered to be the seat of wealth and spacious, floored with stones, and lighted by power. When the bandage was removed large transom windows, that are clothed with ! from her eyes, she found herself in a bedcasements. Its walls are hung with old chamber, in which were the lady on whose inilitary accoutrements

, that have long been ; account she had been sent for, and a man of left a prey to rust. At one end of the hall is

a haughty and ferocious aspect. The lady a range of coats of mail and helmets, and

was delivered of a fine boy. Immediately there is on every side abundance of old

the man commanded the midwife to give him fashioned pistols and guns, many of them

the child, and catching it from her, he hurried with matchlocks. Immediately below the across the room, and threw it on the back of cornice hangs a row of leathern jerkins, made

the fire, that was blazing in the chimney. in the form of a shirt, supposed to have been

The child, however, was strong, and, by its worn as armour by the vassals. A large oak struggles, rolled itself upon the hearth when table, reaching nearly from one end of the the ruffian again seized it with fury, and, in room to the other, might have feasted the spite of the intercession of the midwife, and whole neighbourhood, and an appendage to

the more piteous entreaties of the inother, one end of it made it answer at other times

thrust it under the grate, and, raking the for the old game of shuffleboard. The rest

live coals upon it, soon put an end to its life. of the furniture is in a suitable style, par

The midwife, after spending some time in ticularly an arm-chair of cumbrous workman- affording all the relief in her power to the ship, constructed of wood, curiously turned wretched mother, was told that she must be with a high back and triangular seat, said to

gone. Her former conductor appeared, who have been used by Judge Popham in the reign gain, bound her eyes, and conveyed her of Elizabeth. The entrance into the hallois

behind him to her own home; he then paid at one end, by a low door, communicating

her handsomely, and departed. The inidwife with a passage that leads from the outer door was strongly agitated by the horrors of the in the front of the house to a quadrangle!

preceding night'; and she immediately made within ; at the other, it opens upon a gloomy Two circumstances afforded hopes of detect

a deposition of the facts before a magistrate. staircase, by which you ascend to the first floor, and, passing the doors of some bed

ing the house in which the crime had chambers, enter a narrow gallery, which

been committed ; one was, that the midwife, extends along the back front of the house

as she sat by the bedside, had, with a view to from on

eni to the other of it, and looks : discover the place, cut out a piece of the bedupon an old garden. This gallery is hung curtain, and sewn it in again; the other was, with portraits, chiefly in the Spanish dresses

that as she had descended the staircase she of the sixteenth century. In one of the bed

had counted the steps. Some suspicions fell chambers, which you pass in going towards

upon one Darrell, at that time the proprietor the gallery, is a bedstead with blue furniture,

of Littlecote House, and the domain around which time has now made dingy and thread.

it. The house was examined, and identified bare, and in the bottom of one of the bed

by the midwife, and Darrell was tried at curtains you are shown a place where a small

Salisbury for the murder. By corrupting

his judge, he escaped the sentence of the law; 1 I think there is a chapel on one side of it, but am but broke his neck, by a fall from his horse not quite sure.

in hunting, in a few months after. The place

where this happened is still known by the part of their dress, not completely concealed name of Darrell's Style,-a spot to be by their cloaks, that they were greatly above dreaded by the peasant whom the shades the menial station they had assumed. After of evening have overtaken on his way. many turns and windings, the chair was car

'Littlecote House is two miles from ried up stairs into a lodging, where his eyes Hungerford, in Berkshire, through which were uncovered, and he was introduced into the Bath road passes. The fact occurred a bedroom, where he found a lady, newly in the reign of Elizabeth. All the important delivered of an infant. He was commanded circumstances I have given exactly as they by his attendants to say such prayers by her are told in the country; some trifles only are bedside as were fitting for a person not exadded, either to render the whole connected, pected to survive a 'mortal disorder. He or to increase the impression.'

ventured to remonstrate, and observe, tlat To Lord Webb's edition of this singular her safe delivery warranted better hopes. But story, the author can now add the following he was sternly commanded to obey the orders account, extracted from Aubrey's Corre- first given, and with difficulty recollected himspondence. It occurs among other particulars self sufficiently to acquit himself of the task respecting Sir John Popham:

imposed on him. He was then again hurried Sir .:. Dayrell, of Littlecote, in Com. into the chair; but as they conducted him Wilts, having gott his lady's waiting woman down stairs, he heard the report of a pistol. with child, when her travell came, sent a ser He was safely conducted home; a purse vant with a horse for a midwife, whom he of gold was forced upon him; but he was was to bring hood-winked. She was brought, warned, at the same time, that the least alluand layd the woman, but as soon as the chili sion to this dark transaction would cost him was born, she sawe the knight take the child his life. He betook himself to rest, and, after and murther it, and burn it in the fire in the long and broken musing, fell into a deep chamber. She having done her businesse, sleep. From this he was awakened by his was extraordinarily rewarded for her paines, servant, with the dismal news that a fire of and sent blindfolded away. This 'horrid uncommon fury had broken out in the house action did much run in her mind, and she

of . :

near the head of the Canongate, and had a desire to discover it, but knew not that it was totally consumed; with the shocking where 'twas. She considered with herself the addition, that the daughter of the proprietor, time that she was riding; and how many a young lady eminent for beauty and accommiles she might have rode at that rate in plishments, had perished in the flames. The that time, and that it must be some great clergyman had his suspicions, but to have person's house, for the roome was 12 foot made them public would have availed nothing. high; and she should know the chamber if He was timidl; the family was ofthe first distincshe sawe it. She went to a Justice of tion; above all

, the deed was done, and could Peace, and search was made. The very not be amended. Time wore away, however, chamber found. The Knight was brought to and with it his terrors. He became unhappy his tryall; and, to be short, this judge had at being the solitary depositary of this fearful this noble house, parke, and manner, and mystery, and mentioned it to some of his (I thinke) more, for a bribe to save his brethren, through whom the anecdote ac. life.

quired a sort of publicity. The divine, how'Sir John Popham gave sentence accord ever, had been long dead, and the story in ing to liwe, but being a great person and a some degree forgotten, when a fire broke out favourite, he procured a noli prosequi.' again on the very same spot where the house

With this tale of terror the author has .. had formerly stood, and which was combined some circumstances of a similar now occupied by buildings of an inferior legend, which was current at Edinburgh description. When the flames were at their during his childhood.

height, the tumult, which usually attends About the beginning of the eighteenth cen such a scene, was suddenly suspended by an tury, when the large castles of the Scottish unexpected apparition. A beautiful female, nobles, and even the secluded hotels, like in a night-dress, extremely rich, but at least those of the French noblesse, which they half a century old, appeared in the very possessed in Edinburgh, were sometimes the midst of the fire, and uttered these tremenscenes of strange and mysterious transactions, dous words in her vernacular idiom: 'Ancs a divine of singular sanctity was called up at burned, twice burned; the third time I'll midnight to pray with a person at the point scare you all!' The belief in this story was of death. This was no unusual summons; formerly so strong, that on a fire breaking but what followed was alarining. He was out, and seeming to approach the fatal spot, put into a sedan-chair, and after he had been there was a good deal of anxiety testified, lest iransported to a remote part of the town, the the apparition should make good her denunbearers insisted upon his being blindfolded. ciation, The request was enforced by a cocked pistol, and submitted to; but in the course of the discussion, he conjectured, from the phrases employed by the chairmen, and from some


-P. 373.


posted a horseback from one place or other As thick a smoke these hearths have given

by the way, who brought word that he was At Hallow-tide or Christmas-even.--P. 364.

come thither safe, for they were in great fear

lest he should be murthered, and that Morris Such an exhortation was, in similar circum ap John ap Meredith could not be able to stances, actually given to his followers by a defend him, neither durst any of Howell's Welsh chieftain :

friends be there, for fear of the kindred. In 'Enmity did continue betweene Howell ap. the end, being delivered by Morris ap John Rys ap Howell Vaughan and the sonnes of ap Meredith to the Constable of Carnarvon John ap Meredith. After the death of Evan Castle, and there kept safely in ward untill ap Rebert, Griffith ap Gronw (cosen-german the assises, it fell out by law, that the burn. to John ap Meredith's sonnes of Gwynfryn, ing of Howell's houses, and assaulting him in who had long served in France, and had his owne house, was a more haynous offence charge there) comeing home to live in the in Morris ap John ap Meredith and the rest, countrey, it happened that a servant of his, than the death of Graff' ap John ap. Gronw comeing to fish in Stymllyn, his fish was in Howell, who did it in his own defence; taken away, and the fellow beaten by Howell whereupon Morris ap John ap Meredith, with ap Rys his servants, and by his command thirty-five more, were indicted of felony, as ment. Griffith ap John ap Gronw took the appeareth by the copie of the indictment, inatter in such dudgeon that he challenged which I had from the records.'—SIR JOHN Howell ap Rys to the field, which he resusing, W'YNNE'S History of the Gwydir Family. assembling, his cosins John ap Meredith's Lond. 1770, 8vo, p. 116. sonnes and his friends together, assaulted Howell in his own house, after the maner he had seene in the French warres, and consumed with fire his barncs and his out-houses.

Whilst he was thus assaulting the hall, which
Howell ap Rys and many other people kept,

O'er Hexham's altar hung my glave. being a very strong house, he was shot, out of a crevice of the house, through the sight of This custom among the Redesdale and his beaver into the head, and slayne outright, Tynedale Borderers is mentioned in the being otherwise armed at all points. Not interesting Life of Bernard Gilpin, where withstanding his death, the assault of the some account is given of these will districts, house was continued with great vehemence, which it was the custom of that excellent the doores fired with great burthens of straw; man regularly to visit. besides this, the smoake of the out-houses and *This custom (of duels) still prevailed on barnes not farre distant annoyed greatly the the Borders, where Saxon barbarism held defendants, for that most of them lay under its latest possession. These wild Northboordes and benches upon the floore, in the umbrians, indeed, went beyond the ferocity of hall

, the better to avoyd the smoake. During their ancestors. They were not content with this scene of confusion onely the old man, a duel: each contending party used to musHowell ap Rys, never stooped, but stood ter what adherents he could, and commence valiantly in the midst of the floore, armed a kind of petty war.

So that a private with a gleve in his hand, and called unto grudge would often occasion much 'bloodthem, and bid "them arise like men, for shed. shame, for he had knowne there as great a 'It happened that a quarrel of this kind smoake in that hall upon Christmas-even.' was on foot when Mr. Gilpin was at RothIn the end, seeing the house could noe longer bury, in those parts. During the two or defend them, being overlayed with a multi three first days of his preaching, the contend, tude, upon parley betweene them, Howell ap ing parties observed some decorum, and Rys was content to yeald himself prisoner never appeared at church together. to Morris ap John ap Meredith, John ap Mere- length, however, they met. One party liad dith's eldest sonne, soe as he would swear been early at church, and just as Mr. Gilpin unto him to bring him safe to Carnarvon began his sermon, the other entered. They Castle, to abide the triall of the law for the stood not long silent. Inflamed at the sight death of Graff' ap John ap Gronw, who was of cach other, they began to clash their cosen-german removed to the said Howell

weapons, for they were all armed with javeap Rys, and of the very same house he was lins and swords, and mutually approached. of. Which Morris ap John ap Meredith Awed, however, by the sacredness of the undertaking, did put a guard about the said place, the tumult in some degree ceased. Howell of his trustiest friends and servants, Mr. Gilpin proceeded: when again the comwho kept and defended him from the rage of batants began to brandish their weapons, his kindred, and especially of Owen ap John and draw towards each other. As a fray ap Meredith, his brother, who was very eager seemed near, Mr. Gilpin stepped from the against him. They passed by leisure thence pulpit, went between them, and addressed like a campe to Carnarvon : the whole coun The leaders, put an end to the quarrel for the trie being assembled, Howell his friends present, but could not effect an entire recon

ciliation. They promised him, however, that After the war had subsided, and the dire. till the sermon was over they would make no ful effects of public opposition had ceased, more disturbance. He then went again into revenge and malice long kept alive the anithe pulpit, and spent the rest of the time in mosity of individuals. Colonel Briggs, a endeavouring, to make them ashamed of steady friend to usurpation, resided at this what they had done. His behaviour and dis time at Kendal, and, under the double charcourse affected them so much, that, at his acter of a leading magistrate (for he was a farther entreaty, they promised to forbear all Justice of Peace) and an active commander, acts of hostility while he continued in the held the country in awe. This person having country. And so much respected was he heard that Major Philipson was at his brother's among them, that whoever was in fear of his house on the island in Windermere, resolved, enemy used to resort where Mr. Gilpin was, if possible, to seize and punish a man who esteeming his presence the best protection. had made himself so particularly obnoxious.

One Sunday morning, coming to a church How it was conducted, my authority? does in those parts, before the people were assem. not inform us-whether he got together the bled, he observed a glove hanging up, and navigation of the lake, and blockaded the was informed by the sexton, that it was place by sea, or whether he landed and carmeant as a challenge to any one who should ried on his approaches in form. Neither do take it down. Mr. Gilpin ordered the sexton we learn the strength of the garrison within, to reach it to him; but upon his utterly nor of the works without. All we learn is, refusing to touch it, he took it down himself, that Major Philipson endured a siege of eight and put it into his breast. When the people months with great gallantry, till his brother, were assembled, he went into the pulpit, and, the Colonel, iaised a party and relieved him. before he concluded his serinon, took occa 'It was now the Major's turn to make sion to rebuke them severely for these reprisals. He put himself, therefore, at the inhuman challenges. “I hear," saith he, head of a little troop of horse, and rode to "that one among you hath hanged up a Kendal. Here, being informed that Colonel glove, even in this sacred place, threatening Briggs was at prayers, (for it was on a Sunday to fight any one who taketh it down: see, morning,) he stationed his men properly in I have taken it down;" and, pulling out the avenues, and himself armed, rode directly the glove, he held it up to the congregation, into the church. It probably was not a reguand then showed them how unsuitable such lar church, but some large place of meeting: savage practices were to the profession of It is said he intended to seize the Colonel and Christianity, using such persuasives to mutual carry him off; but as this seems to have been lore as he thought would most affect them.' totally impracticable, it is rather probable --Life of Bernard Gilpin. Lond. 1753, that his intention was to kill him on the spot, Svo, p. 177

and in the midst of the confusion to escape. Whatever his intention was, it was frustrated,

for Briggs happened to be elsewhere. NOTE LX.

“The congregation, as might be expected, A horseman arm'd, at headlong speed.

was thrown into great confusion on seeing

an armed man on horseback make his This, and what follows, is taken from a

appearance among them; and the Major, real achievement of Major Robert Philipson, taking advantage of their astonishment, called from his desperate and adventurous

turned his horse round, and rode quictly out. courage, Robin the Devil; which, as being

But having given an alarm, he was prevery inaccurately noticed in this note upon

sently assaulted as he left the assembly; the first edition, shall be now given in a more

and being seized, his girths were cut, and

he was unhorsed. authentic form. The chief place of his retreat was not Lord's Island, in Derwentwater, but

'At this instant his party made a furious Curwen's Island, in the Lake of Winder

attack on the assailants, and the Major killed

with his own hand the man who had seized mere :

This island formerly belonged to the him, clapped the saddle, ungirthed as it was, Philipsons, a family of note in Westmoreland.

upon his horse, and, vaulting into it, rode During the Civil Wars, two of them, an elder

full speed through the streets of Kendal, and a younger brother, served the King. The

calling his men to follow him ; and, with former, who was the proprietor of it, com

his whole party, made a safe retreat to his manded a regiment; the latter was a major

asylum in the lake. The action marked the 'The major, whose name was Robert, was

man. Many knew him: and they who did a man of great spirit and enterprise; and for

not, knew as well from the exploit that it his many feats of personal 'bravery hach

could be nobody but Robin the Devil.' obtained, among the Oliverians of those parts, the appellation of Robin the Devil.

1 Dr. Burn's History of Westmoreland.

P. 377

the Lord of the Jbles.

The Scene of this Poem lies, at first, in the Castle of Artornislı, on the coast of Argyleshire ; and, afterwards, in the Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English, and the Barons who adhered to that foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the Scottish crown. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity: The authorities used are chiefly those of the venerable Lord Hailes, as well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the restorer of Scottish Monarchy; and of Archdeacon Barbour, author of a Metrical llistory of Robert Bruce'.

[ocr errors]

Canto First.

The last blithe shout hath died upon AUTUMN departs; but still his

our car, mantle's fold

And harvest-home hath hush'd the Rests on the groves of noble

clanging wain; Somerville;

On the waste hill no forms of life Bencath a shroud of russet dropp'd

appear, with gold

Save where, sad laggard of the Tweed and his tributaries mingle

autumnal train, still;

Some age-struck wanderer gleans few IIoarserthe wind, and deepersounds

cars of scatter'd grain. the rill, Yet lingering notes of silvan music

Deem'st thou these sadden'd scenes swell,

have pleasure still? The decp-toned cushat, and the

Lovest thouthrough Autumn's fading redbreast shrill;

realms to stray,

To see the leath-flower wither'd on And yet some tints of summer

the hill, splendour tell

To listen to the wood's expiring lay, When the broad sun sinks down on

To note the red leaf shivering on the Ettrick's western fell.

spray, Autumn departs; from Gala's fields To mark the last bright tints the

mountain stain, Come rural soundsour kindredbanks On the waste fields to trace the to cheer;

gleaner's way, Blent with the stream, and gale that And moralize on mortal joy and wafts it o'er,

pain ? No more the distant reaper's mirth, or if such scenes thou lovest, scorn we hear.

not the minstrel strain.

no more

« AnteriorContinuar »