« FöregåendeFortsätt »
'Twas but a bud, yet did contain,
Of this story I think with a sentiment of mingled regret and surprise.
To me, the past appears, in the far distance from which I view it, as indeed a dream; so changed is every thing, even during the short period to which my personal experience reaches—two-thirds of a century.
But of what a century!
We often, in reading history, start and shudder, and wonder what we should have felt, had we lived in such stirring times. Much, I believe, as we actually did fecl, in times the most stirring, and under changes the most astounding, that have ever, perhaps, agitated society.
The close relation in which we stand to the events of our own times, is frequently the very circumstance which
prevents a due appreciation of their magnitude; we see them but as the flitting shadows of the day; mingled with, and often obscured by, the more pressing interests of our own private story. We know little of their causes
- far less of their effects. It is not until they belong to the past—until gathered by that mighty artist into one vast picture—until characters have assumed their due dimensions, and scenes their relative importance—that we perceive where we have been, and what we have passed through. Myself, too!-how am I changed ! Am I the same mysterious identity?-Can I—calmed, disabused; every expectation in which I indulged, defeated; every hope which I cherished, disappointed; every principle to which I clung, modified; can I be the same?
Can I; the old, cautious, hesitating man; clinging to the hierarchal constitutions of his country, as to the very foundations on which society rests; be the same as that enthusiastic youth, who yearned to sweep all these things away from the face of the carth, as with a floodand to substitute a reign of universal equality?
Can I, whose bosom beat high with passion; to whom love was as the day spring of existence—the sole reality of life—can I be the same who smiles and sighs over the fond delusion; and whose pen falters, as it attempts to trace the long-forgotten dream? Mysterious identity-Divine sentiment of self! Personality-mystical gift of the Deity–His most wondrous, and his best! Yes, in spite of it all, I am still the same.
Changed as I am-as I feebly retrace these passages of my history, this faltering hcart assures me that I am one.
First, I must make you acquainted with Holnicote; you shall hear of Mount Sorel by and by.
There was, then, in one of the remote counties of England, bordering upon the principality of Wales, a certain mansion named Holnicote, which had stood, much in the state in which I was acquainted with it, for centuries. It was not a castle, nor even a castellated mansion;
an old manor house. A beautiful relic of the domestic architecture of the middle ages; of that era, of that taste, and of those manners, which I have lived to see contemned, by the philosophy of my younger days, as barbarous and childish to the highest degree; and a taste for which, I now live to see revived, amid the ardent, sensitive, imaginative race now springing up around me.
This house was a thing of innumerable gables, peaked roofs, and clustered chimneys: of high narrow casement windows, with small diamond panes; of projecting oriels with octagonal ones; many filled with coloured glass, which shed its harmonising light upon the long twilight passages, and oak panellings within. A porch, ornamented with a profusion of carved stonework, distinguished the garden front; and opened upon a walled and terraced garden-terrace below terrace, united by flights of steps, and supported by low walls covered with fruit trees and flowering shrubs, and ornamented by large stone urns placed at regular intervals.
Very few specimens of this style of gardening continue to exist in this country; the last I saw, was, many years ago, at Gloddarth, near Conway-whether still preserved or not, I am ignorant.
You must have patience with a somewhat tedious description ; because I wish you to be well acquainted with the place, where so many of those whom I am about to introduce to you, dwelt.
The upper terrace, that in front of the house, was very wide; and it was nearly occupied by a broad gravel walk, edged on each side by narrow flower borders, quaintly trimmed with box ; and, in summer, filled with a thousand gay, but now discarded flowers. In that border, which ran close under the windows, were numerous flowering shrubs--or rather very old trees, which, trained to a great heighth against the walls, mingled their fantastic branches with the variety of casements, peaks, cornices, carved water-spouts, and all the grotesque stone-work of the front, in a most picturesque and beautiful manner. How rich was the effect of the clusters of red and white roses, the dark myrtles, the clematis, jessamine, magnolias, apricot and pear trecs—twisting their hoar and ragged arms, and wreathing with their leaves and flowers, all the intricacies of this antique architecture !
From the centre of the terrace, a broad flight of stone steps descended to the one below-arranged and laid out much in the same manner. And so, terrace below terrace, and flight of steps succeeding to flight of steps—they fell in regular formal order, till they terminated in the valley beneath.
Each flight of steps was surmounted, on either side, by its rampant griffons supporting the shield of the