« 上一页继续 »
whereof one having been out, and observing the darkness and other ill circumstances of the weather, coming in again, said to the rest of his companions, that he were a stout man indeed that would venture to go to the black Meer of Morridge in such a night as that: to which one of them replying, that for a crown or some such sum he would undertake it, the rest joining their purses, said he should have his demand. The bargain being struck, away he went on his journey with a stick in his hand, which he was to leave there as a testimony of his performance. At length coming near the Meer, he heard the lamentable cries of this distressed woman, begging for mercy, which at first put him to a stand; but being a man of great resolution and some po" licy, he went boldly on however, counterfeiting the presence of divers other persons, calling Jack, Dick, and Tom, and crying Here are the rogues we look'd for, &c.; which being heard by the murderer, he left the woman and fled; whom the other man found by the Meer side almost stript of her clothes, and brought her with him to Leek as an ample testimony of his having been at the Meer, and of God's providence too.” — P. 291.
The metre is Mr. Lewis's invention; and metre is one of the few things concerning which popularity may be admitted as a proof of merit. The Ballad has become popular owing to the metre and the story: as for every thing else, dum relego scripsisse pudet. It has however been made the subject of a fine picture by Mr. Barker.
Who is yonder poor Maniac, whose wildly-fix'd eyes
Seem a heart overcharged to express ?
The composure of settled distress.
No pity she looks for, no alms does she seek ;
Nor for raiment nor food doth she care : Through her rags do the winds of the winter blow
bleak On that wither'd breast, and her weather-worn cheek
Hath the hue of a mortal despair.
Poor Mary the Maniac hath been ;
IV. Her cheerful address fill’d the guests with delight
As she welcomed them in with a smile ; Her heart was a stranger to childish affright, And Mary would walk by the Abbey at night :
When the wind whistled down the dark aisle.
. V. She loved, and young Richard had settled the day,
And she hoped to be happy for life:
That she was too good for his wife.
VI. 'Twas in autumn, and stormy and dark was the night,
And fast were the windows and door; . Two guests sat enjoying the fire that burnt bright, And smoking in silence, with tranquil delight .
They listen'd to hear the wind roar.
VII. “ 'Tis pleasant,” cried one, “seated by the fire-side,
“ To hear the wind whistle without.” . “ What a night for the Abbey!" his comrade replied, “ Methinks a man's courage would now be well tried
“ Who should wander the ruins about.
VIII. “ I myself, like a school-boy, should tremble to hear
“ The hoarse ivy shake over my head; si “ And could fancy I saw, half persuaded by fear, “ Some ugly old Abbot's grim spirit appear,
“ For this wind might awaken the dead !" ..
IX. “ ['ll wager a dinner," the other one cried, i
“ That Mary would venture there now." “ Then wager and lose !" with a sneer he replied, “ I'll warrant she'd fancy a ghost by her side, : ; “ And faint if she saw a white cow.” is
“ Will Mary this charge on her courage allow ?"
His companion exclaim'd with a smile ; “ I shall win,—for I know she will venture there now, “ And earn a new bonnet by bringing a bough
“ From the elder that grows in the aisle.”
And her way to the Abbey she bent ;
She shiver'd with cold as she went.
XII. O'er the path so well known still proceeded the Maid
Where the Abbey rose dim on the sight. Through the gateway she enter'd, she felt not afraid, Yet the ruins were lonely and wild, and their shade
Seem'd to deepen the gloom of the night.