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life, however trying or adverse, had henceforth power to disturb the Heavenly serenity thus acquired. Be it remembered, the minds of those whose simple faith was thus exercised, were attuned for the reception of a beautiful revelation ; they felt deep awe, but not fear, as the waves of Celestial harmony, soft and clear, floated above and around, fraught with meaning only for those, who sought thus in faith to hear the "everlasting music”—the perfect harmony of Heaven-—"the glorious decachord.” However, whilst reverencing the faith of our ancestors, which induced them to test the truth of Midsummer traditions, we must bear in mind, that in nature, there is no stillness of midnight ; "the winds, like anthems, roll;"—and out on the lonely hills, the wild moors, or amidst wide pastures, there is no silence ; sometimes from afar, come sounds like faint wavering cries; they seem strangely like a sob, as they draw nearer, but they are the cries of the night-hawk, who always flies after sundown; then again an unearthly cry reaches the ear, as an owl sails slowly in the moonlight, and there is nothing more solemn and mysterious than the midnight hoot of the owl; as the landscape silvers beneath the summer moon, many other strange noises are heard ; in the long grasses and heather, there is continual rustling, as wandering rabbits or creeping creatures pass to and fro; while sometimes a bat which has been dislodged by some means from its hiding-place, flutters past in a helpless manner, seeking the nearest shelter. Down rocky runnets, there is an unceasing low refrain, as a tiny water-fall glistens amongst the emerald moss, the spray-drops shaking and scattering in the moonlight like diamonds; the murmurs are somewhat melancholy, yet soothing; the snowplumed doves come there in the day-time to drink the pellucid water, and there is a private belief in Arcadia, that elfin folk bathe in the little limpid pools which reflect the light of the stars, for are not fairyrings to be seen on the greensward ? The very summer air is filled with indistinct flutterings of tiny wings, their owners being voiceless; yet the rapid motion of their organs of flight, produces a bum of activity, which ceases not day or night, while summer lasts; this insect tribe pipe and drone in the “dull ear of night"--which expression however is a mistake ; for night is the best time for hearing, as ears are too often deafened in the day-time, by the clamour of " drums beating”—which silence the sweet lutes best heard in profound solitudes. Sometimes, drowsy tinklings of sheep-bells from distant folds, are borne fitfully on the breeze; and there is a marvel in nature, which is mostly unobserved, and yet is peculiar to the midnight hours; every tree has its own particular voice, as it may be called; for these tones assist to swell the universal Anthem which sweeps across the uplands; the Scotch firs roar, like the mighty ocean ;
shivers audibly as if in fear ; the yew mournfully wails a dirge for the departed; the old oak with a fine manly tone seems to hurl defiance at its enemies ; the linden and the hornbeam utter low murmurs; the elm mutters as if in pain ; and the ash clasped by ivy green, has a sort of halflaughing note; the weeping willow groans and sighs; and the tall graceful poplar waves a fanning recognition ; while the ancient cedar, full of wondrous memories, intones a solemn Psalm, which seems to issue from a vast Cathedral in muffled accents. In the depth of night, perhaps the lively thrill of a bird's song may be heard from one of these trees, a real song, such as greets the purple dawn, or mingles with the bright sunshine ; it is strange to hear this song poured forth at midnight; what does the little birdie mean by it ?—most probably the sweet melody gushes out, in the midst of some happy dream!
Amid various extravagances of imagination are mingled many holy and beautiful thoughts, when throughout the dewy coolness and starlight of a summer night, the lonely watcher recalls to memory the dim traditions of grey old times ; and when sudden breezes sweep down from the hills, startling birds and rustling branches, they pass away in echoes that seem to come from another world
“ The vast Cathedral of nature is full of holy Scriptures, and shapes of deep mysterious meaning ; but all is solitary; into this vast Cathedral comes the human soul, seeking its Creator ; and the universal silence is changed to sound, and the sound is harmonious, and has a meaning, and is comprehended and felt."
C. A. M. W.
She bath'd His Feet with tears,
To her who “ loved much,
Saved by His Precious Blood,
and white, Now her once guilty soul, Rests in the “ Light.”
Thou, LORD, in mercy sweet,
Dear LORD, with humble faith,
When round Thy throne of Light
Sweet Jesus! hear my cry,
O let me hear Thy Voice
C. W. 38
THE LADY OF DENE.
BY C. R. COLERIDGE,
ROMANCE," ETC. A SPRING morning long ago, with a blue sky over undulating woods and a fresh breeze sweeping along broad stretches of brown heather, wild moor, and wilder forest, which the hand of man had hardly touched, and where bird and beast still reigned supreme. But through the almost pathless country the hawks and the kites as they circled round and round, might have tracked by fallen trees and trodden underwood the tramp of armed men, till they came to a harried village, a round, strong, squat, little tower standing unhurt on a bit of rising ground amid a heap of smoking ruins, a wooden church sorely battered, with horses tied up to the churchyard fence, and rough soldiers hanging about the doors. Dead bodies lying on the road side, and more thickly at the tower gate, corn just springing, trampled down and destroyed, and a great heap of stolen property, tapestry, church plate, church bangings, and household gear, all piled up under a great oak tree on the clear space that might have developed into a village green.
For these were the days of the wars of Stephen and Matilda, when there was neither law nor order, justice nor mercy in the land, where private grudge and public hate had it all their own way, and where it mattered little whether Reginald Baron Fitz-urse had harried the lands of his neighbour, William, lord of Dene, because he had espoused the more losing cause of the Empress Maude, or because William of Dene had shot his deer, or stolen his cattle, or strung up any of his serfs that he could catch. No one cared, no one would call him to account. He was lucky and had the upper hand. Even the Church had lost her power over such lawless, godless barons, and the poor miserable priest of Dene stood shaking and trembling before the fierce baron, with his violent tongue and rough hand, long reddish hair and beard, and armour dinted and blood-stained. Near him with her hands tied together with a bit of cord, stood a girl of thirteen or fourteen, her face nearly hidden by her long brown hair. Behind Fitz-urse were several of his followers, and looking over his shoulder stood his son, a tall youth of nineteen.
“ Most noble sir,” said the poor priest in humble and cringing
accents, “ the fortune of war and the will of the saints have put us into your hands. Our lives are yours, and this maiden being all that survives of the late Lord of Dene, had doubtless best be bestowed in S. Agatha's convent during your pleasure.
“Was the boy slain ?” said Fitz-urse.
"Ay, sir, and his body consumed in the flames,” said the priest, glibly.
“ Then the maid is heiress of Dene, let any turn of fortune come. No, no, sir priest, she shall be bestowed in no convent, for the Church to claim her lands, to be made a ward of the crown, or for a neighbour to take
Here, marry her to my son before we ride home. Then are we sure possessors of what we have gained, and the maid is no loser. Hey, Eustace, what say you ? Here's a bride for you with a good dower."
“Ay, she'll do me no harm, I'll take her," said the youth, briefly.
“I will kill you first,” suddenly cried Avis of Dene, with such a flash in her eyes and such a struggle with her bound wrists, that the two barons and their rough followers laughed aloud at the joke.
“For shame, my daughter,” said the priest, “the noble barons show you great grace. The young lord will make you his lawful bride.” “Let him kill me,” said Avis, between her teeth.
Come, come, no folly, make haste into the church and let the deed be done,” said the elder baron, while young Eustace drew his knife, dexterously cut the cord that bound his bride's wrists and laid on them his own strong grasp in its stead.
“Come, lady fair,” he said, “I mean you no hurt. Come, you are still Lady of Dene.” Then as the girl still struggled in his hold, “Come, or it will be the worse for you, you little fool.”
“I hate you. I shall kill you if I can. Burn me to death like the poor villeins.”
Young Eustace laughed out loud and long. He pulled the girl after him towards the half-ruined church and placed her before the dismantled altar. In trooped his armed followers. The priest hurried to place himself in readiness, rejoiced at the turn events had taken, while the Fitz-urses felt themselves to be acting with knightly honour and Christian charity, as in truth according to their lights they were ; for the lot offered to Avis was as good as her father could have procured for her, and as for her anger, they heeded it no more than a