Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the fallow deer, on the plover and the so clean, telling so many stories of the ptarmigan; had right of the common tree that made it ;—that the seven Virfor their flocks, of the flood for their tues in tapestry would do well in avoidnets, and of the air for their harque- ing wild company; and that the lass buss. Ah! dame, old England is no with the long shanks, Diana, and her more the old England it was,—than nymphs, will hunt more to her fancy that hall, dark and silent and desolate on her dusty acre of old arras, than in -is the proud hall that held Sir George the dubious society of the lords and the Vernon, the King of the Peak, and his heroes of the court gazette. Moreover, two lovely daugliters, Margaret and the key at her girdle is the commission Dora. Those were days, dame; those by which she is keeper of this cast-off were days." And as he ceased, he and moth-eaten garment of the noble looked up to the tower, with an eye of name of Manners; and think ye that sorrow, and shook and smoothed down she holds that power lightly, which his white hairs.

makes her governess of ten thousand “I tell thee,” replied the ancient bats and owls, and gives her the awful portress, sorely moved in mind, be- responsibility of an armoury containtween present duty and service to the ing almost an entire harquebuss, the noble owner of Haddon, and her linger- remains of a pair of boots, and the reling affection for the good old times, of ique of a buff jerkin ?" which memory shapes so many para What answer to this unceremonious dises, “ I tell thee the tower looks as attack on ancient things committed to high and as lordly as ever ; and there her keeping, the portress might have is something about its silent porch, made, I had not an opportunity to and its crumbling turrets, which gives learn; her darkening brow indicated it a deeper hold of our affections, than little meekness of reply; a voice, howif an hundred knights even now came ever, much sweeter than the dame's, prancing forth at its porch, with trum- intruded on the debate. In the vicinipets blowing, and banners displayed.” ty of the hall, at the foot of a limestone

“ Ah! dame Foljambe," said the rock, the summer visitors of Haddon husbandman; yon deer now bound- may and do refresh themselves at a ing so blythely down the old chase, small fount of pure water, which love with his horny head held high, and an of the clear element induced one of the eye that seems to make nought of the old ladies to confine within the limmountain and vale ; it is a fair crea- its of a large stone basin. Virtues were ture. Look at him! see how he cools imputed to the spring, and the superhis feet in the Wye, surveys his shadow stition of another proprietor erected in the stream, and now be contem- beside it a cross of stone, lately mutiplates his native bills again. So! lated, and now removed, but once covaway he goes, and we gaze after him, ered with sculptures and rude emblems, and admire his speed and his beauty. which conveyed religious instruction But were the hounds at his flanks, and to an ignorant people. Towards this the bullets in his side, and the swords fountain, a maiden from a neighbourof the hunters bared for the brittling! ing cottage was observed to proceed, Ah! dame, we should change our warbling, as she went, a fragment of cheer : we should think that such one of those legendary ballads which shapely limbs, and such stately antlers, the old minstrels, illiterate or learned, might have reigned in wood and on scattered so abundantly over the counhill for many summers. Even so we try. think of that stately old hall, and la

DORA VERNON. ment its destruction."

“ Dame Foljambe thinks not so deep. It bappen'd between March and May-day, ly on the matter," said a rustic ;,“ she when hill and valley grow green and gaily,

When wood-buds wake which slumber'd late, thinks, the less the hall fire, the less is

And every wight longs for a mate; the chance of the hall being consumed; When lovers sleep with an open eye-lid, the less the company, the longer will Like nighingales on the orchard tree, the old hall floor last, which she sweeps And sorely wish they had wings for flying,

So they might with their true love be ;

1.

est

saint, with a shirt of hair cloth and a A knight all worthy, in this sweet season

scourge, to every cavern, and a druid Went out to Careliff with bow and gun, Not to chase the roebuck, nor shoot the pheasant,

with his golden sickle and his misletoe But hunt the fierce fox so wild and dun.

to every circle of shapeless stones; And by his side was a young maid riding,

but they have made the Vernons, the With laughing blue eyes, and sunny hair ; Cavendishes, the Cockaynes, and the And who was it but young Dora Vernon,

Foljambes, erect on every wild place Young Rutland's true love, and Haddon's heir

crosses or altars of atonement for 3. Her gentle hand was a good bow bearing,

crimes which they never committed ; The deer at speed, or the fowl on wing,

umless fighting ankle-deep in heathen Stay'd in their flight, when the bearded arrow blood, for the recovery of Jerusalem Her white hand loosed from the sounding string.

and the holy Sepulchre, required such Old men made bare their locks, and blest her,

outlandish penance. As blythe she rode down the Durwood side,

They cast too a Her sterd rejoiced in his lovely rider,

supernatural light round the commonArchd his neck proudly, and pranced in pride. story;

if you credit them, the anThis unexpected minstrelsy was soon

cient chapel bell of Haddon, safely interrupted by dame Foljambe, whose carried to the top of the turret, and,

lodged on the floor for a century, is total devotion to the family of Rutland touched by some invisible hand, is made rendered her averse to hear the story to toll forth midnight notes of dolour of Dora Vernon's elopement, profaned and woe, when any misfortune is about in the familiar ballad strain of a forgot- to befal 'the noble family of Rutland. ten minstrel. “I wonder at the pre- They tell you too that wailings of no sumption of that rude minion,” said the earthly voice are heard around the deoffended portress,“ in chaunting such cayed towers, and along the garden ungentle strains in my ear. Home to thy milk-pails, idle hussey—home to saint who presided of old over the for

terraces, on the festival night of the thy distaff

, foolish maiden ; or if thou tunes of the name of Vernon. And no wilt sing, come over to my lodge when longer agone than yesterday, old Edthe sun is down, and I will teach thee strain of a higher sort, made by a great nearly as good as seen the apparition

gar

Ferrars assured me that he had court lord, on the marriage of her late of the King of the Peak himself, mountGrace. It is none of your rustic ed on his visionary steed, and, with chaunts, but full of fine words, both imaginary horn, and hound, and halloo; long and lordly; it begins,

pursuing a spectre stag over the wild Come, burn your incense, ye god-like graces, chase of Haddon. Nay, so far has

Come, Cupid, dip your darts in light; vulgar credulity and assurance gone, Unloose her starry zone, chaste Venus, And trim the bride for the bridal night.

that the great garden entrance, called

the Knight's porch, through which None of your vulgar chaunts, minion, Dora Vernon descended step by step I tell thee; but stuffed with spiced among her twenty attendant maidens, words, and shining with gods, and gar- all rustling in embroidered silks, and ters, and stars, and precious stones, shining and sparkling like a winter sky, and odours thickly dropping ; a noble in diamonds, and such like costly strain indeed.” The maiden smiled, stones—to welcome her noble bridenodded acquiescence, and tripping groom, Lord John Manners, who came homewards, renewed her homely and

cap in hand with his company of galinterrupted song, till the river bank and lant gentlemen” the ancient towers acknowledged, with

“ Nay, now, dame Foljambe,” in." their sweetest echoes, the native charms terrupted the husbandman, “ all this is of her voice.

fine enough, and lordly too, I'll war“I marvel much," said the hoary rant; but thou must not apparel a plain portress, at the idle love for strange old tale in the embroidered raiment of and incredible stories which possesses thy own brain, nor adorn it in the preas with a demon the peasants of this cious stones of thy own fancy. Dora district. Not only have they given a Vernon was a lovely lass, and as proud

18 ATHENEUM VOL. 11.

a

as she was lovely; she bore her head deur of his house. I have heard my high, dame; and well she might, for grandsire say, how his great grandsire she was a gallant Knight's daughter; told him, that the like of the knight of and lords and dukes, and what not, Haddon, for a stately form, and a nobave descended from her. But, for all ble, free, and natural grace of manner, that, I cannot forget that she ran away was not to be seen in court or camp. in the middle of a moonlight night, He was hailed, in common tale, and in with young Lord John Manners, and no minstrel song, by the name of the King other attendant than her own sweet_OF THE PEAK; and it is said, his handself. Aye, dame, and for the diamonds, some person and witchery of tongue and what not, which thy story showers chiefly prevented his mistress, good on her locks and her garments, she tied Queen Bess, from abridging his proup her berry brown locks in a menial's vincial designation with the headscap, and ran away in a mantle of Bake- man’s axe. well brown, three yards for a groat. “ It happened in the fifth year of Aye, dame, and instead of going out the reign of his young and sovereign regularly by the door, she leapt out of mistress, that a great bunting sestival a window; more by token she left one

was held at Haddon, where all the of her silver heeled slippers fastened in beauty and high blood of Derbyshire the grating, and the place has ever assembled. Lords of distant counties since been called the Lady's Leap."

came; for to bend a bow, or brittle Dame Foljambe, like an experienced the deer, under the eye of Sir George rider, whose steed refuses obedience to Vernon, was an honour sought for by voice and hand, resigned the contest many. Over the chase of Haddon, in despair, and allowed her rustic com- over the hill of Stanton, over Bakewellpanion to enter full career into the edge, over Chatsworth' hill and Harddebatable land, where she had so often wicke plain, and beneath the ancient fought and vanquished in defence of castle of Bolsover, as far as the edge of the decorum of the mode of alliance the forest of old Sherwood, were the between the houses of Haddon and sounds of harquebuss and bowstring Rutland.

heard, and the cry of dogs and the “And now, dame," said the husband- cheering of men. The brown-mouthed man, “ I will tell thee the story in my and white-footed dogs of Derbyshire own and my father's way. The last were there among the foremost ; the of the name of Vernon was renowned snow-white hound and the coal-black, far and wide for the hospitality and from the Scottish border and bonny magnificence of bis house, for the splen- Westmoreland, preserved or augmentdour of his retinue, and more for the ed their ancient fame; nor were the beauty of his daughters, Margaret and dappled hounds of old Godfrey FolDorothy. This is speaking in thy own jambe, of Bakewell bank, far from the manner, dame Foljambe; but truth's throat of the red deer when they turned truth. He was much given to hunting at bay, and gored horses and riders. and hawking, and jousting, with lances The great hall floor of Haddon was either blunt or sharp; and though a soon covered with the produce of wood harquebuss generally was found in the and wild. hand of the gallant hunters of that time, « Nor were the preparations for the year of grace 1560, Sir George feasting their nobly hunting party unVernon despised that foreign weapon; worthy the reputation for solid hospiand well he might, for he bent the tality which characterised the ancient strongest bow, and shot the surest King of the Peak. Minstrels had come shaft, of any man in England. His from distant parts, as far even as the chase-dogs too were all of the most Scottish border ; bold, free-spoken, expert and famous kinds—his falcons rude, rough witted men; 'for the selhad the fairest and most certain flight; vage of the web,' says the northern and though he had seen foreign lands, proverb, “is aye the coarsesi cloth. lie chiefly prided himself in maintain- But in the larder the skill of man was ing unimpaired the old baronial gran- chiefly employed, and a thousand rari

[ocr errors]

Mes were prepared for pleasing the eye and ample feast, which they hoped and appeasing the appetite. In the to wash down with floods of ibat salkitchen, with its huge chimneys and utary beverage, the brown blood of prodigious spits, the menial maidens barley. were, flooded nigh ankle deep in the 6 At the

upper end of the hall, where richness of roasted oxen and deer; and the floor was elevaied exactly as much along the passage, communicating with in respect, as it was lowered in submisthe hall of state, men might have slided sion at the other, there the table for along, because of the fat droppings feasting the nobles stood ; and well was of that prodigious feast, like a slider it worthy of its station. It was one on the frozen Wye. The kitchen ta- solid plank of white sycamore, shaped bles, of solid plank, groaned and from the entire shaft of an enormous yielded beneath the roasted beeves and tree, and supported on squat columns the spitted deer ; while a stream of of oak, ornamented with the arms of rich smoke, massy, and slow, and sa- the Vernons, and grooved into the voury, sallied out at the grated win- stone floor, beyond all chance of being dows, and sailed round the mansion, upset by human powers. Benches of like a mist exhaled by the influence of wood, curiously carved, and covered, the moon. I tell thee, dame Foljambe, in times of more than ordinary ceremoI call those the golden days of old ny, with cushions of embroidered velEngland.

vet, surrounded this ample table ;“ But I wish you had seen the ball while in the recess behind appeared a prepared for this princely feast. The curious work in arras, consisting of fesfloor, of hard and solid stone,was strewn tivals and processions, and bridals, exdeep with rushes and fern, and there ecuted from the ancient poets; and for lay the dogs of the chase in couples, the more staid and grave, a more detheir mouths still red with the blood of vout hand had wrought some scenes stags, and panting yet from the fervour from the controversial fathers and the and length of their pursuit. At the monkish legends of the ancient church. lower end of the hall, where the floor The former employed the white hands subsided a step, was spread a table for of Dira Vernon herself; while the latthe stewards and other chiefs over the ter rere the labours of her sister Marmenials. There sat the keeper of the garct, who was of a serious turn, and bows, the warder of the chase, and the never happened to be so far in love as head falconer, together with many oth- to leap from a window.” ers of lower degree, but mighty men " And now," said dame Foljambe, among the retainers of the noble name “ I will describe the Knight of Haddon, of Vernon. Over their heads were with his fair daughters and principal hung the horns of stags, the tusks of guests, myself.” “ A task that will boars, the skulls of the enormous bi- last thee to doomsday, dame," mutsons, and the foreheads of foxes. Nor tered the husbandman. The portress were there wanting trophies, where the heeded not this ejaculation, but with a contest had been more bloody and ob- particular stateliness of delivery prostinate--banners and shields, and hel- ceeded. 6. The silver dinner bell

rung mets, won in the Civil and Scottish, on the summit of Haddon hall, the and Crusading wars, together with ma- warder thrice wound his horn, and ny strange weapons of annoyance or straightway the sound of silver spurs desence, borne in the Norwegian and was heard in the passage, the folding Saxon broils. Beside them were hung door opened, and in marched my own rude paintings of the most renowned ancestor, Ferrars Foljambe by name. of these rustic heroes, all in the pic. I have heard his dress too olien describtoresque habiliments of the times. ed not to remember it. A buti jerkin, Horns, and harquebusses, and swords, with slashed and ornamented sleeves, á and bows, and buff coats, and caps, mantle of fine Lincoln green, fastened were thrown in negligent groups all round his neck with wolf-claws of pure about the foor, while their owners gold, a pair of gilt spurs on the heels of sat in expectation of an immediate his brown hunting-boots, garnished a,

bove with taslets of silver, and at the « There is wondrous little pleasure square and turned-up toes, with links in describing a feast of which we have of the same metal connected with the not partaken ; so pass we on to the taslets. On his head was a boar-skin time when the fair dames retired, and cap, on which the white teeth of the the red wine in cups of gold, and the boar were set tipt with gold. At his ale in silver flagons, shone and sparkled side, was a hunting horn, called the as they passed from hand to lip beneath white hunting horn of Tutbury, band- the blaze of seven massy lamps. The ed with silver in the middle, belted knights toasted their mistresses, the rewith black silk at the ends, set with tainers told their exploits, and the minbuckles of silver, and bearing the arms strels with harp and tongue made music of Edmund, the warlike brother of Ed- and song abound. The gentles struck ward Longshanks. This fair horn de- their drinking vessels on the table till scended by marriage to Stanhope, of they rang again; the menials stamped Elvaston, who sold it to Foxlowe, of with the beel of their ponderous boots Staveley. The gift of a king and the on the solid floor; while the hounds, property of heroes was sold for some imagining they heard the call to the paltry pieces of gold."

chase, leaped up, and bayed in hoarse “Dame Foljambe," said the old man, but appropriate chorus. “the march of thy tale is like the course “ The ladies now re-appeared, in the of the Wye, seventeen miles of links side galleries, and overlooked the scene and windings down a fair valley five of festivity below. The loveliest of mamiles long. A man might carve thy ny counties were there ; but the fairest ancestor's figure in alabaster in the was a young maid of middle size, in a time thou describest him. I must re- dress disencumbered of ornament, and sume my story, dame; so let thy de- possessed of one of those free and gracescription of old Ferrars Foljambe ful forms which may be met with in stand ; and suppose the table filled other counties, but for which our own about with the gallants of the chase and Derbyshire alone is famous. Those many fair ladies, while at the head sat who admired the graces of her person the King of the Peak himself, his beard were no less charmed with her simplidescending to his broad girdle, his own city and natural meekness of deportnatural hair of dark brown-blessings ment. Nature did much for her, and on the head that keeps God's own cov- art strove in vain to rival her with othering on it, and scorns the curled inven- ers; while health, that handmaid of tions of man-falling in thick masses beauty, supplied her eye and her cheek on his broad, manly shoulder. Nor sil- with the purest light and the freshest ver, nor gold, wore he; the natural no- roses. Her short and rosy upper-lip bleness of his looks maintained his rank was slightly curled, with as much of and pre-eminence among men; the step maiden sanctity, perhaps, as pride; her of Sir George Vernon was one that white high forehead was shaded with many imitated, but few could attain- free and unaffected modesty. Those at once manly and graceful. I have who observed her close, might see her heard it said, that he carried privately eyes, as she glanced about, sparkling in his bosom a small rosary of precious for a moment with other lights, but metal, in which his favourite daughter scarce less holy, than those of devotion Dora had entwined one of her mother's and awe. Of all the knights present, it tresses. The ewer-bearers entered with was impossible to say, who inspired her silver basins full of water; the element with those love-fits of flushing joy and came pure and returned red; for the delirious agitation ; each hoped himself hands of the guests were stained with the happy person ; for none could look the blood of the chase. The attendant on Dora Vernon without awe and love. minstrels vowed, that no hands so She leaned her white bosom, shining shapely, nor fingers so taper, and long, through the veil which shaded it, near and white, and round, as those of the one of the minstrel's harps; and lookKnight of Haddon, were that day dip- ing round on the presence, her eyes ped in water,

grew brighter as she looked ; at least,

« AnteriorContinuar »