Imatges de pàgina

the sword and shield;" many a lan- grease, a more picturesque forest, a guishing eye longed to see those bold huger oak-tree with forked branches, a temples crested with the helmet, that more satisfied corbyn with his bone, or were veiled with the cowl; many a a more faithful disciple of her rules, white bosom heaved to think how gal- than were seen in the sports of the lantly that lusty form would have borne Black Priest of Chadstow. Every rusitself in the tournament, that moved so tic amusement, also, flourished most stately in the mass; and many a beauty freely when under his auspices. The that bent before him in confession, May-pole, the well-flowering, the quoits, would have given her heart to have seen the bat and ball, all found in Father him at her feet as she knelt at his-the Paul not only a ready assistant, but a red-windowed aisle, with its carved main spring. Nor were these his only vault, exchanged for the broad green flights from the prison of conventual and flowery meadow, with its fags and rule; in the recently terminated wars pavillions, white, red, yellow, and blue, of York and Lancaster, Paul Babington and the high and sculptured confes- had fought under the Red Rose with sional transformed into the gay cano- such distinction, that, had it not been pied throne, where the queen of the for the powerful interest of his brother festival dispensed the chivalric wreath. Sir Oliver Babington, at King Edward's Yet Father Paul, at the period of our court, he would have experienced an tale, was not a young man; he had seen eternal divorce both from bis clerical more than forty suinmers, and it cannot duties and his laical pastimes. As it be denied that a certain degree of obe- was, he was subjected to heavy pesity had begun to amplify his robustnances by his superior, the Lord Prior form. But there was an inextinguish- of the Benedictines at Coventry, although able freshness of spirit about him, an the discipline that there mortified his open fearlessness of demeanour, a ver- flesh in more ways than one, is said to satility of talent, a flow of conversa- have produced anything than the effect tional powers, and a fund of those name of reconciling the worthy priest to holy less attractions which make you lore a church. man before you know him, that, placing From that period, report stained him him on a par with, if not above, the (timorously, it is true, and only by slight glittering youth of his day, certainly tints, but no less stained him,) with the detracted in no slight degree from the imputation of Lollardism; and the desolemn and impressive attributes with light he occasionally took in studies to which his sacerdotal character would which the ignorance of the period afixotherwise have invested him.

ed the terın of sorcery, was another Truth to tell, Paul Babington was 'vantage ground which his open and never intended by nature for the priestly fearless temper afforded to his enemies. functions. His genius, undaunted and However, to use an expressive Scotexcursive in its range, disdained the tish phrase, he“ jowked and let the prescribed formalities in which his pro- jaw rin by." The rank, riches and fession ordained him to move ; of science respectability of his brother, Sir Oliver, he had paced through all the paths, but who was most tenderly attached to him, most loved her forbidden track. And invested the priest of Chadstow with then, no Troubadour could chaunt a great immunities; while the unsettled virelay or romaunt with such effect as state of the kingdom (the death of Henry his deep and manly tones produced. In and the final flight of Margaret having every athletic exercise he was distin- but recently taken place), together with guished among his competitors ; and in the general laxity of the clergy at this the noble science of Venery* he was period, and their entire exemption from confessed by all to be unrivalled. None civil authority, conveyed to them by knew so well how to rein a steed, or Edward,* who was earnestly solicitous train a hound. The falcon ever took of their support, left Father Paul pretty the surest flight from his large-handed much to the undisturbed pursuit of bis glove, and the raven loved the day inclinations. Not that we are to sup when, with brawny arms naked to the pose him a vicious or depraved characshoulder, he applied himself to the task ter,-far otherwise he was idolized by of breaking the bart, for which the the small circle of poor who were under noble authoress of “ The Book of St. his care, no less than he was courted Albans " gives such unblushing direc- by the young and gay of his own statior, tions. The Abbess Juliana herself nor was he less careful in administering could not have pictured a finer hart of to the wants of the one, than he was • The hunting of wild animals,

• See Henry's Eng. vol. x. p. 34.

indispensable in promoting the enjoy. His only child, a son, the flower of his ments of the other. The chief point in contemporaries, was betrothed - and his character which most threatened (rare erent) betrothed with mutual love, him was his persevering attachment to nourished from childhood-o Barbara the exiled house of Lancaster,--an at- Somerville, heiress of the ancient house tachment which no argoments of his of Whichnover, who had been Sir Olibrother, who had espoused the opposite ver's ward, and was recently arrived at cause, (a circumstance very common in age, and consequently was now mistress those times), could induce him for one of the venerable mansion and extensive troment to relinquish, even in thought. estates of her ancestors. But in spite

Our tale opens about that period of all this, Sir Oliver shewed himself when the booiless retreat of Edward disgusted with the late measures. He from the Continent, whither he had led had been one of the leaders in the one of the finest armies that had ever French expedition, had remonstrated crossed the Channel, excited general most strongly against the compromiso discontent. An expedition, the result and retreat ; and after pointing out, in of many negociations, of long and exe the most forcible terms, the deceitful pensive preparations, which threatened policy of Louis, he retired in sullen Louis XI. with the loss of his crown acquiescence with his sovereign's manand the dismemberment of his kingdom, date to the towered halls of Curborough, had become fruitless and even highly one of his seats in Staffordshire. disadvantageous to England ; for the In this remote and forested retreat, caged t conference on the bridge of Pe- he had been received with no small de guini had dissolved the most formidable light by his brother Paul, who dwelt by confederacy that ever was organized the ancient and neighbouring church of against France, and given the crowned Chadstow. Their intercourse was now Fox such an insight into the councils renewed in more cordiality than had of his foes, that they could never after- subsisted between them for some time, wards afford him the least disturbance, and much important and perilous matter The popular mind was accordingly in was agitated between them, the result a high ferment. Yorkists and Lancas- of which our stery will unfold. trians not only began to lose their party It was a windy moonlight midnight, spirit, but also frequent unions were on St. Mark's eve, 1476, when the porch set on foot between the two factions, of the old village church of Chadstow the objects of which referred pretty contained three watchers. Most readers plainly to the young Earl Henry of know the superstitions attached of old Richmond, then a refugee at the ducal to the vigil of Saint Mark too well, to court of Brittany.

need explanation here. The cemetery, Edward could not be long ignorant surrounded by inajestic trees, lay shaof this, accordingly history, while she dowed or brightened by the fitful planet, records his attempts to get ihe Earl and as the clouds, whiried by the gus's that bis uncle into his hands, does not he- groaned among the learless branches, sitate to ascribe to him intentions as veiled the broad town in stormy darksanguinary as his proceedings were ness, or sheeted the landscape in trouhypocritical. As if this were not suf bled lustre. The huge elms and maficient, treason stole into the very court ples rocked and how led in the blast. itself, and dissensions in the royal fa- The resounding aisles toomed from mily, of the most complicated nature, for buttress lo pinnacle, with its violence. a time both defied King Edward's sagaci- The long rows of lancet windows clatly to detect and his power to punish them. tered, and their lozenged panes, superb

Sir Oliver Babington, a brave and in painted story, now stood pale and high-minded, but at the same time a dull in the muffled sky, and then, as the violent and imprudent man, had felt moon emerged, darted a many-coloured heavily the existing discontents. Sur- refulgence on the sculptured altar rounded by every thing that could make tombs and variously attired effigies, with life enviable, one might imagine that the armorial blazons, ihat marked the BaKnight of Curborough had small reason bingtons, and the Biddulls of other to embroil himself in the wild and veer- days. The weathercocks gleamed and ing politics of the period. He was vanished like spirits on the summit of blessed with a fair and virtuous wife, the massy edifice, and the broad dial on the personal friend of Queen Elisabeth, the Campanile, displayed and hid its when only the Lady Grey of Groby.-- brazen tigures, like some illuminated

book, opened or closed at the bidding See Pb. Comines, I. , c. 19.

of the necromancer.

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But the interior of the porch stood in the northern aisle, one of whom impassive in its deep-ribbed gloom, the bearing a lamp from the shrine, thus utmost reach of the moonbeams only angrily addressed himdisclosing a gleamy robe, or a pallid «« What's here? and how is it, brocheek, as the intermitted light struggled ther, that a set of screaming women through its narrow and deeply moulded are suffered to break in upon our conarch.

ference; is it thus, mad Priest, that The owl was heard from the hill be- thou keepest tryste ?" hind; and the lake that rolled for The speaker was a man of commandnearly half a mile up to the very wallsing stature, whose crimson hood attachof the Minster-Close, sent with a roared to a rich robe of sables, disclosed a its windy waves against the barrier, piercing eye, and locks and beard a which protected the Chester road, fall- sable silvered. The priest did not iming in hissing streams (only heard when mediately answer, but the armed figure the wind paused) over the motionless who had taken the lamp from Sir Oliwheel of the adjacent mill. On a sud- ver, (for it was no other) and had den a form was seen to enter the busied himself about the swooning church-yard, it paused at the porch, lady, addressed with assumed softness and the light being then deeply obscur- the angry knight. ed, passed into the church. Its en “Speak not so harshly, Sir Oliver, trance was marked by a suppressed it is some dame of quality; and this scream from one of the watchers, she lady who bends over her so anxiously, fell back in a swoon, and the imperious is, doubtless, of consideration! judge clangor of the clock bell, which, swel- for thyself however, since I, a stranger ling and fleeting away in the blast, so long to English fashions, may scarcetolled with anxious pauses the twelvé ly venture to pronounce on those of strokes of midnight, alone recalled the high degree, who thus venture on a others from attending to their compa- peasant girl's frolic." nion. At that moment another maiden, As he spoke, Sir Oliver had roused whose fair hair gleamed for a moment the fainting lady in his arms, and with from beneath the worn muffler that en a voice of anger and astonishment, exfolded it, started up with apparent ter- claimedror as a second figure passed the porch, “By St. Katherine! 'tis Joscelyne habited in armour with his visor up. herself! what fiend hath, moved her This maiden's terror made her utter to embark in such a freak ?" loud cries, which, if they testified less “Freak as it was, good guardian," deeply seated grief than her compa- said the soft accents of the Lady Barnion, nevertheless, conjured up im- bara, half weeping with terror, and mediately a third apparition, who was half laughing with the excitement her entering the porch when the aroused buoyant spirit so dearly loved,“Freak as terrors of the fair watchers arrested it was, blame not thy lady; let thy wrath his step, and the next moment the deep rather fall upon me, whose thoughtless tones of the Black Priest of Chadstow mood induced her to this folly !-Or issued from the cowl of this last in- rather,” she said, turning angrily on truder.

Paul, “ let it alight on thy reverend “Nay, then, an I had known it were brother, who encouraged only 10 terto end thus, the silly fowl should have rify and betray us !" abided their peril at home. Why, Sir Oliver scarce heeded the maiden, what a coil is here!” he continued, for, holding his still senseless lady in “ doth not Barbara Somerville know his arms, he alternately addressed the her old friend and tutor, and can she fondest language to her, and broken not spare somewhat of her marvellous upbraidings to those around him. But, courage and prudence to her damsel when Lady Babington's kindling cowho seems so greatly to lack those lour and unclosing eye relieved his virtues ? Thus my wise plans ever first fears, he was on the eve of resign

And here is my lady too, ing her to Barbara's care, and turning sunk down in mortal terror! Thou away in cold displeasure, when Josceart but a fool after all Paul Babington, lyne beholding her husband, sprang at to think that woman's fortitude or once to his neck with a cry of joy. discretion might be trusted. And yet “The saints be praised ! it was then bating a few hasty words, all may be no phantom! But, oh my beloved !right still.”

wherefore didst thou trifle with thy As the monk spoke, the two figures foolish Joscelyne?" advanced froin St. Catherine's chapel “ Ought I not rather," replied the

serve me.

knight gravely, yet tenderly, sought the care of the widow Dyout, where they I not rather to ask Joscelyne why she are looked for at this hour? And," hath thus trified with herself? Ought he added significantly, “ will Barbara I not to ask whether it becomes the Somerville acquiesce in the wishes of state of the Lady Babington to be seen one who never counselled but for her. like some village crone leading young good, and follow the guidance of Sir maidens to tamper with unhallowed Gilbert?”' practices ? And thou, Barbara, of All the party gazed at the Black Whichnover! how is it that thou hast Priest in unfeigned astonishment, but thus left my house, thus outraged my the last mentioned personage burst hospitable cares, for the purpose of in- forth. dulging these unmaidenly pranks! - “ To the Pool House ? and why not As for thine attendant here, she shall to their own mansion ? why not to Curknow whether I have not the power to borough ?" punish her impudence.”

“Alas! Sir Gilbert,” replied Father The damsel alluded to, dressed in the Paul, “had my means of intelligence coarsest menial attire, drew back in been more prompt, you would have terror at the knight's speech, and muf- learned that Curborough Hall is at fling her gray cloak more closely around this moment a most unfitting abode for her, seemed about to consult her safety ladies. A king's messenger is now in by immediate flight, when Barbara the house, his armed followers in the clasping her arm, and drawing herself adjacent hamlet! You perceive as well up with dignity, replied

as I, how dangerous the knowledge of “No one will dare, not even Sir this would have been to the excited Oliver Babington, will dare to lay mind of our friend and brother here." hand on my own tire-woman, whose And then while the others stood in sole offence was her duteous obe- blank dismay, the priest took Sir Olidience to my commands. He, I repeat, ver aside. After a short parley, the ought to feel thine indignation, who at knight returned to them and said, yesterday's confession imposed upon "Go, my lady! our brother counsels us a penance our curiosity too readily well, to-morrow all will be explained. allowed, to watch one hour in the porch Vaucler escort them to the Pool House at midnight.”

and then return,

we await you in St. “Yes!” interposed Lady Babington, Chad's cell.” “he it was who induced us to come The priest then whistled, and a man to Chadstow, knowing our foolish no- in the dress of a lay brother, (the storm tions respecting the Vigil of St. Mark, having now subsided) brought round and stabled near his cell are the steeds the steeds. The Lady Babington and that brought us hitler."

her companions were soon on the road “ Saints and fiends,” roared the in- by the lake's side, scarcely in less ascensed Babington," what mischief Paul tonishment than Vaucler; and after bast thou been brewing ?-is thy wild having accompanied them to the manand reckless demeanour the cloak of sion, whose lighted windows, open darker evil than the outrage it offers door, blazing hearth, and especially to thy church? Am I to hold thee an the welcome of dame Eleanor Dyott, alien from my affections as thou hast proclaimed the monk's assertion cortoo often been a recreant to mine rect--he retraced his steps to the cell house ? Speak ere I forget that our of Chadstow. arins have embraced in the same mo

(To be continued.) ther's bosom?" The Black Priest with the utmost

TIE PARTING.-TO M. H. composure, his folded arms wrapping

VECTIS POETICÆ." his vesture close round his noble figure, and his open features fully illu

C'Twas more than death to part with thee !" minated by the lamp, slowly and kindly replied

O'er dying summer's yellow bed “ Will my brother implicitly trust the sun was hid in storm and cloud;

The weeping Autumn droopil her head; to one who, however he might appear The mountains wore a misty shroud, an alien to his house, hath never given Which veil'd the woods; the drizzling show's

Had drench'd the church's mossy tow'r; cause that his affection should be doubt

And fitful wind, and driving rain, ed, and whose poor judgment hath, ere Beat on the painted window's pane; this, been found serviceable; will he And swiftly down the flooded vale

The blighted leaves were seen to sail: permit Sir Gilbert Vaucler here to es

'Till came the eve, with starry eye, cort these ladies to the Pool Honse, to Aud drew the curtains of the sky,

For the Olio.

As broke the mnon's revealing beam

they go:--the shutters are closed, the 0. winding walk and willow'd stream;

blinds are down, death is within-they Then, where the chesnut's branches spread, I listen'd, Mary, for thy tread;

are the “Searchers.” There tried to smile my thoughts away- Reader!-knowest thou, these women We inet to part, but not for aye

have an office to perform, by examining Yet, lightly as I strove to speak, My heart was full, my words were weak. every dead body as soon as the breath I could not tell thee all my fears,

leaves it for ever, and the spirit returns My sorrow was too sad for tears

to “ Him that gave it ;'' to ascertain the I thought my arms no more might twine

cause of death's visit, and report it in a Around that sylph-like form of thive'Fhat inine no more might be the bliss little book, called the “dead book,"?To steal, from coyent lips, a kiss !

not for doomsday reference, but to inHow on thy path my eyes were bent,

sert the disease and regulate the scheAs slowly neath the trees I went; And long I look'd, 'till into shade

dule in the Bills of Mortality ; and saI saw thy fairy figure faile:

tisfy their minds that the corpse has not Then Memory, in her grieving strain,

died by violent hands. Whether it arises Told o'er the happy past a rain. When wand'ring with tliee by that wall

from their daily intercourse with counWhich skirts the ruin'd castle's ball,

tenances reflecting the breathless images How words with feelings weakly strove of sleep, or that the temperate habits To paint the passion of my love;

which are acquired by years of service, As swept the curfew's nightly knell O'er moonlit wood and dewy della

good characters and long residence in The sainted well midst willows tall

the parish, these Searchers wear a Tbe soaming river's susk and fall; And o'er the scene a torpor spread,

placid submissiveness, a shrinking Deep as the slumber of the dead

quietude, an ominous shadow of deparThe mood of nature, Mary, when

ture to others, themselves remaining as I loiter'd with thee throngh tbe glen,

if the highly favoured inquisitors of And gently chid thy ftult'ring fear, And softly won thy willing ear:

skeleton power, acknowledged by the Wbilst hope foretold that happier tine- King of Terrors as the chosen agents of The theme of many a plaintive rhyme his will, passing his subjects out of time When after all the storm was past Which toss'd my vessel in its blast,

into his kingdom of worms and corrupA gentler breeze should bear to shore, tion; for, wherever death has been, the And all my tears and toils be v'er;

Searchers, like spectral shadows, folExchanging sorrow's ruffled sea For life and love, and more for thee!

low his visit. The death-bell is sound

ed, and the Sexton, another agent in all Deem not those bappy moments Red

human dissolution and depository, gives Forgotten, Mary, like the dead : Though past that dark and clouded day

them the clue where to find the corpse Which rudely hid my roughen'd way; yet scarcely cold, surrounded by weepThough fate each worldly wound baih healid,

ing relatives, separated for a season in And fancy every promise seal'd; Tbough joy succeeds to hopeless sighs,

hope of immortal union when the mortal And laughter looks from tearful eyes; coil is thrown aside, and incorruption Thougl fow'rets grow where grew but weeds, survives. Many and many a well-known And words are sweetly changeil to deeds; Yet, by the bliss thy presence gives,

parochial face, that once assisted the The mem'ry of each trial lives;

Searchers into the situation, and smiled And grateful now the past I view

on their regulated conduct appropriately Beneath a sky of kindlier bue; And backward cast a gladdep'd glance

deported,-many and many a dissolute, On love's despair and fortune's chance, fractious, haughty, learned, honest and As Spring's sweet buds and Summer's bloom various person in the district, the Contrast with weary Winter's gloom.

Searchers are called in to see-to sigh 0, love, that doth with life increase, farewell! and yield them to the conThy Eden calm of haleyon peace, Without its smile I would not give

cealment of the coffin lid. Their cusThe least of all my joys to live!

tomary fee for the inspection is a shilling each, or half-a-crown the two.

The Searchers are, to appearance and THE SEARCHERS.

practice too, out of the common reach (For the Olio.)

of those attacks to which their more

vivacious and mercurial kindred are Is it the Undertaker, Betty ? liable. The wheezing asthma, like the No, ma'am, the searchers!

forge-bellows, or the creaking gate, lasts Reader! hast thou ever noticed two on; a touch of the dropsy is not a tap little wizen old women, clad in the sufficientsordissolution, and the chronic gone-by fashion of humble creeping: affections are faithful to the end. These side by side with stealthy pace and quiet Searchers have the privilege of longevity passage? Look at the house in which, and they do not abuse it. They appear They enter with a deathly knock, rarely to come out of church-yard habiliments or never sitting down, or from which they live near it. Their furniture

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