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THE SEVEN FORESTERS OF CHATSWORTH,
AN ANCIENT DERBYSHIRE BALLAD.
[In presenting this somewhat rude but curious ballad to the reader, it may be proper to observe, that those who profess to be charmed with truth only, and would wish one to swear to the certainty of a song, will learn with pleasure, perhaps, that tradition has recited, or sung, I know not which, this singular legend for centuries, in the beautiful vale of Derwent, in Derbyshire. It is a tale current in the county. The projecting rock in Chatsworth wood, still bearing the name of the Shouter's Stone, is pointed out by the peasantry as the place on which this famous and successful Outlaw stood and shouted. It overhangs a wild and winding footpath in the Preserve, and in former times, before the wood became so luxuriant, commanded a fine view of the valley, in the midst of which stands Chatsworth-house, the favourite mansion of the ancient and noble family of Cavendish. In the house itself, this tale has sought sanctuary. There is a painting from no less a hand than that of Prince Nicolas, in which a portion of the tradition is sought to be embodied ; but the illustrious artist has, with poetical licence, put a gilded horn in the outlaw's hand ; and, with a departure from the story, which all lovers of oral literature will deplore, has given to the cavern below a couple of outlaws, who rouse and bestir themselves to che sound of their leader's horn. The ancient oaks of Chatsworth are to be found every where in the valley; and, perhaps, no oaks in England, except those in Sherwood forest, can claim to be their coevals,- they are upwards of a thousand years old.
Chatsworth has many other attractions. The Flower Garden of the beautiful and unfortunate Queen of Scotland, a plat of earth elevated on a squat tower, and guarded with a foss, stands on the banks of the Derwent, within a stone's throw of the house. All around, the hills ascend and recede in woody or naked magnificence; and, indeed, the grandeur of nature is such, that the beautiful mansion is diminished in the contemplation.
Some sculpture, from no common hands, adorns the hall. A statue of Buonaparte's mother, by Canova, has a matron-like simplicity and stateliness; an Endymion, which Chantrey says is one of the most exquisite works of the Roman sculptor, will presently become its companion. A figure from the hand of Chantrey himself may soon be expected to join them.
Moderate rents, a wealthy tenantry, and a happy peasantry, will endear the name of the present generous Duke of Devonshire to many who may not feel the charms of his paintings, his statues, his books, and the rare curiosities of his museum,
An attempt was made to abate the occasional provincialism of the ballad, but the experiment threatened to ravel the entire web, and it was not persisted in.]
The boughs in dew were dreeping ;
Their heads are bald and hoary,
Can match their antique grandeur ;
Tower'd not in pride and splendour.
4. How fair they stand amid their green land,
The sock or share ne'er pain’d them; Not a bough or leaf have been shred from their strength, Nor the woodman's axe profaned them.
When Scotland's loveliest woman,
In their silver tops were catching,
The dame who fledged mine arrow
Say not thy maid's the fair one;
And chuse of shafts the longest,
The fattest and the fairest;
For low down in the forest There runs a deer I long to smite, With bitter shafts the sorest.
Where brackens grow the greenest;
The bird is blythe when hatching ;
An Outlaw, young and handsome ; A sight of him on Chatsworth bank
Were worth a prince's ransom.
And left the keeper sleeping
His string at his touch went sighing;
Green was his gallant cleeding ;
O'er a brow so brent and bonny
Broad, short, and sharp was gleamin';
He loves to look and linger,
Of the Chatsworth pheasant's glancing ;
'Twill be told from Trent to Yarrow,
That the song of a red-deer reaver
When the Outlaw's song came falling
And his shaft pluck'd from the quiver :
'Till rung both rock and river:
Cleeding, a word still used in the north of England ; cloathing, apparel. South of Germany, kleidung; Islandic, klacde ; Teutonic, kleed.
26. Oh! bonny Chatsworth, and fair Chatsworth,
Thy bucks go merrily bounding ; Aneath your green oaks, as the herds flew past,
How oft have my shafts been sounding.
It is sweet to meet with the one we love,
When the night is nigh the hoarest; It is sweet to bend the bow as she bids, On the proud prey of the forest.
When the words of love are winging;
"Tis a spell to each who sees her ; One glance of her eye-and I snatch my bow, And let fly my shafts to please her.
When its song is at the sweetest;
And her dark eye rains those glances, Which fill the best and the wisest hearts
With love's sweet influences.
Her locks are brown-bright berry-brown,
O'er her temples white descending;
Is past all men's discernin'; For she is lofty, and I am low, My lovely Julia Vernon.
With a step both long and lordly;
35. Good morrow, good fellows, all fearless he said,
Was your supper spread so sparely ; Or is it to feast some sweet young dame, That you bend your bows so early?
There's fish in the smallest river ;
Was-ismand will be ever.
And then I taste the pheasant ;
'Tis time I stay'd his bounding; He twang'd his string like the swallow it sung, All shrilly and sharply sounding.
By my shafts which fly so yarely,
Whose bough the Derwent's laving ?Upon its top, thou gallant Outlaw,
Thou'lt be hung to feed the raven.
So short as the time this sharp shaft flies,
And strikes yon golden pheasantThere-thy time is meted, so bid farewell To these greenwoods wild and pleasant.
My sword's too sure a servant
And the mother would weep that bore me, If I stay'd my step for such strength as thine, Or seven such churls before me.
44. I have made my way with this little brown sword,
Where the war-steeds rush'd the throngest; I have saved my breast with this little brown sword, When the strife was at the strongest.
45. It guarded me well in bonny Scotland,
When the Scotts and Graemes fought fervent; And the steel that saved me by gentle Nith,
May do the same by Derwent.