網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

THE TOR HILL.

BY

THE AUTHOR OF

* BRAMBLETYE HOUSE,” “GAIETIES

AND GRAVITIES," &c. &c.

Oh! what was love niade for, if ’tis not the same

Thro' joy and thro' torments, thro' glory and shame?
I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart;
1.] but know that I love thee, whatever thou art !"

Thos. Moore.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

PHILADELPHIA :

H. C. CAREY AND I, LEACHESNUT STREET.

with danger when more narrowly considered, Beyond the imprisonment of his cousin, which would of course be attempted to be justified by his imputed imbecility, he had no distant or tangible accusation to advance. Sir Lionel, on account of his noble and commanding figure, personal prowess, and dexterity in all chivalrous sports and exercises

-qualifications which always insured the good opinion of the King—was known to stand well in his favour; and Henry, not less arbitrary than capricious, might visit as a temporary offence the attempt to substantiate a charge against any one for whom he entertained a friendly feeling, especially if there should be a failure in the proof.

Lost in reveries of this nature, he at length approached the Manor of the Mere, one of the dependencies of Glastonbury Abbey, where a rich and lovely scene lay outspread before him, which, if his mind had been in a fitting state to receive the calm and holy influences of nature, could not have failed to soothe it into tranquillity. It was an autumnal evening, warm, silent, and serene, the setting sun throwing a golden bloom over the unrippled waters of the little lake whence the place derived its name, and lighting up the wood that rose gradually from its further margin, every leaf so motionless, and the whole tufted range suffused with so warm a fush, that it might almost have been imagined to have just fallen asleep for the night. Several ponds or smaller lakes presented portions of their gleaming surfaces around the Mere, shaded and intermingled with groves, copses, umbrageous islands, and rich open meads, until it became difficult to distinguish the boundaries of either, so completely did the mellow sunlight, in which they were all flooded, melt them into one another. Close to the borders of the greater lake stood the Manor House, an antiquated building, whose numerous tops of carved woodwork, once pointed, though now rounded and corroded by time, its large gothic windows, its solid castellated gate-house in front, and the suburb of barns, granaries, and well-thatched stacks behind it, left you in doubt whether it were a religious edifice, the old family mansion of a gentleman of worship, or the abode of some substantial yeoman or wealthy farmer. The ziaring colours and sharp angles of any newer structure would have refused to harmonize with the soft scene around it; but the time-worn pinnacles of the present building, and the varicoloured tints left by the breath of departed ages upon its walls, gave it the resemblance of having grown old with the venerable trees by which it was overshadowed, and blended it as mellowly with the scenery as if it constituted a portion of the natural landscape.

Earth and water had combined to enrich this fertile manor with every variety of pastoral wealth. Notwithstanding the heat of the season, its meads were gladdened with a thick and flowery aftermath. Unscared by the sound of the woodman's axe, the trees spread their gigantic branches far and wide, as if anxious to extend their protecting shade to man and beast. Nothing but the whiteness of the sheep, clustered beneath them, betrayed that they had lost their fleeces, for from their size and rounded plumpness they might have been thought to be still robed in their wool. In the fish-ponds behind the mansion was goodly store of the finny tribe, which, when they occasionally heaved themselves upwards to the surface, appeared from their enormous size to be ancient tenants of the place, and by their reverend and substantial look might almost justify the phrase applied to them by Dudley, when he termed them the abbots of the water. Although the sun had now retired from the orchards, which extended themselves by the side of the fish-ponds, he could see that their laden branches, bending to the earth, would have broken with their riches, had

[ocr errors]

they not been carefully propped; and even in the shade their fruit exhibited a bright and ruddy glow, as if the truant gleams of sunshine still lingered on their sides. The large sleek cows, brought up to the homestall to be milked, were quietly feeding from cribs overflowing with rich clover, whose fragrance, retained by the moist air wafted from the lake, diffused on every side a cool odoriferous freshness, rendered peculiarly grateful by the sultriness of the previous morning. Beyond the homestall was a small enclosed park, over whose paling the deer, lifting their antlered heads, gazed upon Dudley with eyes of mild wonder; while, from little shrubberies and plantations of underwood that fringed the approach to the mansion, the pheasants, too tame to be startled at his presence, came forth to seek their evening food, some giving their rich colours to the sun, and others moving about indistinctly in the shades of the covert.

The lake, along whose shore the Manor of the Mere extended its quiet and sequestered loveliness, was about five miles in circumference, and appeared to be scarcely less abundantly supplied with fish than the well-stocked ponds. At its upper extremity were two large cedar-trees, which, according to tradition, had been originally brought from the Holy Land, and planted by one of the Hungerfords on his return from the first Crusade. Standing out in sharp and dark relief against the sun, which was setting behind them, they imparted a solemn Oriental character to that portion of the view, and, as they threw their broad and long shadows over the waters, seemed to be stationed where they stood as the giant guardians of the little Eden that lay outspread before them. Upon the rushy bank of the Mere, immediately below the mansion, was a game of swans, as it was then termed, being an establishment of hutches and

[ocr errors]

enclosures for rearing and breeding those stately birds, nearly one hundred of which were seen floating about the spot, the fanning air drifting up the light snow of their plumage as they sidled proudly away, or looked askant with a bridling and graceful consciousness of their own fair shadows reflected in the pellucid mirror of the lake. Lower down, upon the same side of the Mere, was a game of herons, which were seen stalking along in such numbers as to darken the banks which they explored for fish, and lifting up their long legs with as stately a step as if they disdained to tread upon earth. So tame and sleek were the birds, beasts, and fishes of all sorts, that they did not suggest the idea of being destined to the use of man, or of looking upon him as their enemy; but rather that they were in a chartered sanctuary, where it was their privilege to fatten and grow old in the enjoyment of existence, until its natural termination should arrive.

Notwithstanding the number and variety of its animal tenants, a deep serene silence reigned over the whole manor; for the waters were motionless, the winds were hushed, the cows were busy at their clover, the sheep were panting in the shade, the smaller birds were retiring to roost, and the large flocks of white pigeons which were still careering round and round above the building were at too great a height to allow the flapping of their wings to be heard. If the leaves were now and then rustled with a passing breath from the lake, it seemed as if the twilight were enfolding the scenery in its arms, and hushing nature to sleep; and this temporary cessation of the silence did but add to the intensity of the subsequent repose. Attached to the Manor House was a small chantry, which the embowering trees had prevented Dudley from discovering; and in the midst of the serenity and stillness he was startled by the deep, solemn, sonorous voiees of the monks chanting the even-song, whose

« 上一頁繼續 »