Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

THE SKELETON IN ARMOUR.

[The following Ballad was suggested to me while riding on the seashore at Newport. A year or two previous a skeleton had been dug up at Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armour; and the idea occurred to me of connecting it with the Round Tower at Newport, generally known hitherto as the Old Wind-Mill, though now claimed by the Danes as a work of their early ancestors. Professor Rafn, in the Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, for 1838 – 1839, says;

“ There is no mistaking in this instance the style in which the more ancient stone edifices of the North were constructed, the style which belongs to the Roman or Ante Gothic architecture, and which, especially after the time of Charlemagne, diffused itself from Italy over the whole of the West and North of Europe, where it continued to predominate until the close of the 12th century; that style, which some authors have, from one of its most striking characteristics, called the round arch style, the same which in England is denominated Saxon and sometimes Norman architecture.

“On the ancient structure in Newport there are no ornaments remaining, which might possibly have served to guide us in assigning the probable date of its erection. That no vestige whatever is found of the pointed arch, nor any approximation to it, is indicative of an earlier rather than of a later period. From such characteristics as remain, however, we can scarcely form any other inference than one, in which I am persuaded that all, who are familiar with Old-Northern architecture, will concur, that THIS BUILDING WAS ERECTED AT A PERIOD DECIDEDLY NOT LATER THAN THE 12th cerTURY. This remark applies, of course, to the original building only, and not to the alterations that it subsequently received; for there are several such alterations in the upper part of the building which cannot be mistaken, and which were most likely occasioned by its being adapted in modern times to various uses, for example as the substructure of a wind-mill, and latterly as a hay magazine. To the same times may be referred the windows, the fire-place, and the apertures made above the columns. That this building could not have been erected for a wind-mill, is what an architect will easily discern.”

I will not enter into a discussion of the point. It is sufficiently well established for the purpose of a ballad ; though doubtless many an honest citizen of Newport, who has passed his days within sight of the Round Tower, will be ready to exclaim with Sancho; “ God bless me! did I not warn you to have a care of what you were doing, for that it was nothing but a wind-mill; and nobody could mistake it, but one who had the like in his head.' ]

“Speak! speak ! thou fearful guest !
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armour drest,

Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,

Why dost thou haunt me ?

Then, from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the Northern skies

Gleam in December ;
And, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe

From the heart's chamber.

“ I was a Viking old !
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told,

· No Saga taught thee ! Take heed, that in thy verse Thou dost the tale rehearse, Else dread a dead man's curse !

For this I sought thee.

• Far in the Northern Land,

By the wild Baltic's strand,
I, with my childish hand,

Tamed the ger-falcon ;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound

Trembled to walk on.

" Oft to his frozen lair

Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare

Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark

Sang from the meadow.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »