[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]


MANORIAL ARCHIVES; but terrific notion of something dark,

and grim, and cruel. I attribute this THE ROMANCE OF OLD MANSIONS. early prejudice to a system of reward STORY THE SIXTH.

and punishment, somewhat whimsical indeed, but put in practice by the fairest

and kindest dame that ever helped to FRIAR WITH THE GORY COWL.

spoil an only son, whose mother she was BY HORACE GUILFORD.

not. In an old corner house in the Minster Close, at ,

there was a (For the Parterre).

certain best bedroom, and, in a corner

cupboard of the same, were two figures « Not his the mien of Christian priest,

with moveable head and hands; both But Druid's from the grave released, Whose hardened heart and eye might brook,

were equally grotesque, though each was On human sacrifice to look ;

of very opposite semblance.

The one And much, 't was said of Heathen lore,

represented a friar of the Dominicans, Mixed in the charms he muttered o'er. The hallowed creed gave only worse

and the other had the motley habit, And deadlier emphasis of curse.

bauble, cap and bells of the mediæval No peasant sought that Hermit's prayer, jester. These figures, (both of them His cave the pilgrim shunned with care,

invested in my imagination with superThe eager huntsman knew his bound, And, in mid chase called off his hound;

human attributes), were only disclosed Or, if in lonely glen or strath,

to my gaze on great occasions, that is, The Desert-dweller met his path,

either when I was particularly good, or He prayed, and signed the cross between, And terror took Devotion's mien.

particularly the reverse; and the awful meSir Walter Scott. nacing manner in which the old friar was

made to raise his hand, shake his head, SOLEMN and supernatural visitings always wag his beard at me, had always the associated themselves in my youthful desired effect in the latter case. Most mind with the word Friar ; an indefinite vividly have I, at this moment, in my remembrance his high peaked cowl, which of nastic enmity in the older minsters of all his other appurtenances mostawakened England, and especially in the ancient my curiosity, astonishment, and awe; and colleges of her universities; and as a seteven now I can feel somewhat of the off for the bitterness with which the eagerness with which I ever turned from itinerant friars declaimed against the esthe merry looks and gay gestures of the tablished orders that had so long enjoyed fool, to rivet my gaze on the dark robe the immunities of the cloister, who has and severe attitude and ghastly counte- not read good old Camden's account of nance of the friar.

Friar Donald's preaching at St. Paul's It was early in the thirteenth century, Cross? where, having observed “that that the Pope, alarmed at the increasing Our Lady was a virgin, and yet at her influence and enlarged revenues of the pilgrimages there was made many a foul monastic orders, and viewing with indig, meeting,” he loud cried out, “ye men of nation and dismay their virtual indepen. London! gang on yourselves with your dence of Rome, and its natural results, wives to Wilsdon in the devil's name, or their relaxation in watching the progress else keep them at home with you, with a of heresy, (then germinating), and in sorrow !" keeping the laity to their blind submis- Wonderful, that with such conflicting sion to the papal power, began to look interests, and such jarring enginery anxiously around for some new ally whose Rome should have been able for centuries devout attachment to the Romish hie- upon centuries to maintain her enormous rarchy might not be weakened or di- empire, an empire not of the bodies only verted by separate interests or exclusive but of the souls of men. Wonderful, possessions of their own, which their that mere earthly wisdom, and for the authority should be derived, as their very

most sordid of earthly purposes,

could existence depended upon the supreme originate, execute, and maintain so vast, pontiff alone.

so varied, and so sublime. an architecture And thus did the four orders of preach- as "her services, her ministers, and her ing friars, the Franciscans, the Domini- institutions compose! cans, the Carmelites, and the Augustines, Speaking in a mere worldly sense, it is form the last pillar of that extraordinary perfect. All that can command venefabric of gold, and brass, and clay, the ration, all that can excite astonishment, Roman Catholic Church. The experi. all that can inspire rapture, are there ment was eminently successful. — The combined, to overawe, to enslave, to mendicant emissaries of an overworn delight, and to delude the soul. superstition spreading themselves upon The gorgeous pomp and circumstance the paths of the four winds, more than of the Vatican—the magnificence of the supplied the energies requisite to confirm gothic cathedral—the inconceivable glory its tottering edifice; and through them of its shrines and chapels and monuments their tiaraed master was principally en- —the enchanting solemnity of its rites, abled, for the next three hundred years, the pictorial beauty of its processions, to set his foot upon the necks of empe- were much, and went far towards accomrors and of kings.

plishing the daringly grand project of Of course the monks beheld these up- universal domination over mind; but start clerical orders with immitigable if we seek the main lever in this great abhorrence; and while the friars from enterprise of the god of this world, we their itinerant pulpits launched the most shall find it in that subtle, that masterly fiery denunciations upon the selfishness concentration of aim and energy, deveand indolence of the monks, and lashed loped in the formation in the first instance their reported peccadilloes with the most of the monastic, and subsequently of the scorpion-like satire, the monastics in preaching societies. retaliation never added an arch to their The monastery, navelled in high old stately cloisters, never introduced an or- woods, withdrawn up the secluded hollow nament to their cathedrals, never carved of its narrow verdant valley, a clear an abbot's oaken throne, gilded a roof, or stream washing its walls—its dependent painted a wall, without introducing some cotes, its grange, its mill, huddled becontemptuous effigy of a friar ; and the neath its lordly walls—the soaring steeple, woodwork of their choirs, the corbels of solid and stately—the broad and radiant their battlements, and the capitals of windows—the shadowy cloisters — the their pillars were made the vehicles of sepulchral crypt—what accessories and ludicrous and frequently obscene cari- auxiliaries to devotion, to meditation, to catures of these mendicant preachers. peace !-- from yonder wicket no poor man There are numberless proofs of this mo- ever turned away unrelieved, no wanderer

unsheltered : in yon majestic refectory ing through its crisp yellow crust, and the noble or the knightly guest sate the gigantic tankard whose amber ale amidst decorous but unstinted hospitality; foamed like a whirlpool over its brim, and, by the glimmering light shooting and dimmed its silver sides with misty from the narrow loopholes of yonder cells coolness, all combining to embellish the did science and art, amidst the long dark- blazing hearth-vault in winter,-or in ness of a barbarous age, find at once protec- summer, the old seat in the rose emtion, cultivation, and respect. Yet in that bowered porch, whereupon the Franciscan sequestered Eden, in those uninvaded or Carmelite might find it his pleasure cloisters, in that peaceful solitude-what to sit. And more (it was thought), far fierce intruders broke upon the spirit! " more than repaid was this liberal hoshow was it dashed back upon itself, and pitality, by the displayed stores of the what wars and fightings arose within it! ample reliquary, or the narration of Blighted hopes, clouded prospects, affec- some recent miracle they had wrought ; tions crossed, or fortunes overthrown; the or, if that failed, some pious legend consciousness of crime, the festering of highly creditable to the peculiar order injury, the grasping of ambition, had all to of the reverend guest. assume the cowl of religion; and while But this very liberty, which was a each was suffering from his own griefs, or source doubtless of much enjoyment, led lingering over his own prospects, all were in many instances to the discredit and alike enjoined to abjure and to forget even disgrace of the wandering friars. everything but the welfare of their church Many a scandalous chronicle, industriand the observance of her discipline. Oh! ously encouraged by their inveterate who can tell the grievous conflicts, the adversaries the monks, was circulated at struggles between heaven and earth, that their expense, and to the no small have raged in many a cloistered bosom! detriment of their character for selfthe very stone walls of their sacred prison denial and sanctity. The minstrels and knew not; they witnessed perhaps the disours, who with some reason looked clenched hand, the smitten breast, the upon the holy itinerants as interlopers upturned eye, the form flung down in with their fireside and wayside privileges, half-unhallowed prayer, but the actual eagerly caught up these stories, and gave glare of the fire that burns within, when the friars a conspicuous but by no means man stalked through those unfeeling enviable place in the ballads and tales as cloisters, or shuddered in those narrow popular then, as now, among high and cells, a ghost and spectre to himself, low in England. Nay, their very exhaunted by his own memories, goaded cellences were, in those benighted times, by his own desires, yet maimed and converted into weapons against them. manacled for ever, the captive of irrevo- Many of their body were among the first cable vows—who can conceive!

to imbibe and foster the new learning (as As for the friars, theirs might seem a it was termed), and in those days the happier lot, because of greater liberty- name of heretic needed not that advance free rangers of the country and the town, in the liberal sciences, for which many they had access alike to the pulpit and of these ecclesiastics began to distinguish the market-place, were received with themselves, to be connected with the respect at the Baron's table of Dais, and title of sorcerer. The popular cry, once with something of adoration by the good raised, found no difficulty in swelling its wife of the citizen,--they moved at their echoes with murder, lasciviousness, and pleasure from place to place, and every- such like imputations; until, at length, where found themselves the centre of an if a brawler and bloodthirsty character, attentive and admiring audience. The a dealer with satan, or a betrayer of pleasant river side, in the meadows, the credulous damsels, was wanted for some deep shelter of the summer wood, or the scurril ballad or licentious play,—the grassy alleys of the garden, were alike cowl and gown of the barefooted friar open to their sandalled feet, and great were found as germane to the matter as was the joy and manifold the bustle, anything else. when the sudden storm or the approach The great Roger Bacon, the glory of night compelled the cowled wanderer and ornament of the Franciscan order, to take shelter in the lonely grange; the was a splendid victim to this prejudice. most savoury rasher from the Aitch on The well merited title of the wonderful the smoke-blackened rafters, the freshest doctor, which his transcendent talents eggs, the sweetest curds, cheese for which and invaluable discoveries won for him Gammar was unrivalled, the huge brown from his admirers, was eclipsed by the loaf fresh from the fragrant oven burst- opprobrious appellative of magician,

inflicted on him by the stupidity and room, and, like the costly shrine of some malignity of his enemies. Gunpowder, favourite saint-narrow, deep, and tall, the camera obscura, the principal pro- the everlasting oriel stood a particoloured perties of the telescope, and the burning and elaborate tabernacle at the head of glass, together with innumerable other the high table. acquirements in art and science, distin- The peculiar feature, however, which guished this eminent friar, with a lustre distinguished the castle hall at Goldenthat seemed portentous and preternatu- rood, from any mansion of our own day, ral to the thick darkness upon which and indeed from those immediately sucit shone. His lectures were interdicted; ceeding the remote period of which I he was confined to his cell; and bis write, was this; that instead of the seclusion, which lasted ten years, termi- vaulted and arched fireplace, with its nated not long before his death, which emblazoned manteltree surmounted by occurred in 1292.

stag antlers, and its mighty recess, that It cannot be denied, nevertheless, that formed a kind of winter pavilion for the the great personal liberty allowed to the castle guests, the hearth at Goldenrood friars in contradistinction to the rigid was situated in the centre of the hall confinement of their rivals the monks, pavement, where a monstrous iron retogether with the extraordinary influence ceptacle, ornamented, according to the with which their prescriptive character pleasure of the baron or knight, either of sanctity invested them, offered no with his family supporters, or some other small temptations to these wandering fantastic and fabulous effigies, and desigecclesiastics ; and doubtless, in many nated a Reredoss, stood heaped with piles instances, led to gross and criminal of wood or seacoal, as some dread altar abuse of their great privileges and im- might have stood in the vasty temple of munities. Neither history nor tradition Jupiter the thunderer, in pagan times. are deficient in examples of frightful Broad and beaconing, it may be conatrocity thus perpetrated under the ceived, was the flame that ascended from chartered garb of the friar—and the this shrine of the feudal penates; and its story I am now going to relate, is just an volumes of smoke, after gracefully enimaginary and romantic chronicle found- circling the hall, at midheight, with their ed on the same thesis.

floating canopy, departed through the High festival was maintained with centre of the steeply roof, by an orifice extraordinary solemnity during the or lantern, sufficiently large to carry off twelve nights of Christmas in the great such portions of the surging vapour, as baronial hall at GOLDENROOD CASTLE. did not prefer lingering behind to listen

This apartment, always of paramount to the hall-fire gossip. This aperture magnificence and importance in feudal was termed the lovery, or louvre, from mansions, was eminently grand at Golden- the French word l'ouvert, and constirood; large enough to have contained tuted a sort of cupola proportionate to all the turbulent barons of the realm, the dimensions of the hall, and of such with their burly followers, in armed shape and figure as might suit the conconclave—and lofty enough for the nave venience or caprice of my lord the chaof some enormous minster. Though tеllain. Sometimes it was square with indeed it was difficult to speak with a spiral pyramis, leaded like the rest of accuracy of its height, for its roof neigh- the hall roof, with its sides open, yet so boured the very cope of heaven, rising contrived as to exclude the rain ; and in a long steep gable, traversed by sometimes a rotunda with a beautiful stupendous beams of solid oak, whose bell-shaped dome covered with well rudely carved architraves sprang in bold burnished copper, and surmounted by a arcs from large brackets carved into mighty orb and weathercock of the same knots of flowers, and foliage, and grim materials, generally graven in the figure faces of men and monsters.

of the family crest. It is perhaps hardly The walls were partly hung with necessary to add that the stately and heavy and dismal-looking arras, of red celebrated palace of pictures, in the and black pattern-work, and partly paint- French metropolis, derives its title from ed in gorgeously barbaric imagery, this source; or that the lantern on our wherein heathen mythology, mediæval oldfashioned dovecotes, and the campaallegory, monastic legend, and family niles on some of our primitive village tradition mingled in most marvellous churches, are only humble imitations concord. The Dais was at the upper thereof. Windows of the round Norend, approached by three broad steps man arch, shewed by the depth of their that traversed the entire breadth of the recess the prodigious solidity of the

walls. They were narrow in their ex- garbed knave or jester, altogether comternal orifice for the purpose of security, posed a picture, before which our modern but bevelled inwards so as to admit as tableaux might humbly vail their heads. large a portion of light as possible ; and In the centre of these patrician firestood ranged in cross lights very high up worshippers, the gigantic reredoss shot in the wall; while in the gable end over upwards its flaming columns, which, the table of Dais, a round headed win- mighty as they were, cleft but a pathway dow of bolder proportions looked down for themselves through the opaque vasti. the hall,- its panes dark with ancestral tude of gloom, whose blackness they gules and gold, and its stonework lavishly disclosed, but could not illuminate ; while, fretted like the rest, with the barbaric redly tinged by the swarthy lustre, ere it ornaments of chevrons and beakheads, lost itself in the overpowering gloom,

Corslets, helmets, coats of mail, shields, sullen volumes of smoke brooded over lances, pikes, maces, halberts, &c., added the beams of the open-work that suptheir iron garniture to the hard paint. ported the soaring roof, like clouds from ings and truculent tapestry of the hall which scowling demons might be supat Goldenrood, investing it with every posed to hang, listening gloomily to the possible characteristic of awe, melan- annals of their own diablerie. Thus, choly, and gloom, ill suited we should though a large lighted lantern of transthink to a place of festivity. Yet such parent colours, hung over the high it was, in common with the halls in other table, yet such was the bewildering vast. aristocratic residences of the time, which, ness of that ancient hall, that an assemequally dismal in their furniture, and blage of more than fifty guests, high-born, forbidding in their appearance, were still and richly habited, gathered around a the only apartments whose size admitted fire in its centre, large enough for the of hospitable assemblies or festal exhibi. Beltane, resembled (to a fanciful eye) tions. In the castle hall alone could

a group of shipwrecked mariners or the pageant be exhibited, in the castle benighted travellers, huddled together hall alone could the masque be per- round their ineffectual watchfire, in the formed--the stately braule, the merry midst of a moonless and tempestuous morisco dance, the mystic mummery, muor ! all demanded the solemn dignity and On the present occasion, the festivities theatric amplitude of the castle hall; which always distinguished the solemn and those stated leviathan festivals, at season of Christmas, were more brilliant which half a county clashed goblets and joyous than usual at Goldenrood together, must have been held under the Castle ; for on the approaching feast of canopy of heaven, but for the magnifi- the Epiphany, a splendid bridal was to cence—the vast, the grim, the glimmer- be celebrated between the Lady Leonora, ing magnificence-of the castle hall. daughter and heiress of Roland de Maine

It was, however, when the tables were fort, the lord of the castle, and Sir drawn, and the guests were gathered in a Ildebrand Blondel, the handsome and circle, truly necromantic, round about gallant knight of Wingfield. Guests of the mighty reredoss and its dragon-like every grade and quality had been bidden flame, for the amusement of story-telling to Goldenrood, and it had been given out that the castle hall of Goldenrood looked that all whosoever, who chose to present most picturesque. The conflict, between themselves at its portal, invited or unglow and gloom, as each advancing and invited, would meet the same cordial retreating by turns shook their fantastic welcome; an intimation which, on this banners through the depths of the vaulted occasion, was not known in one single chamber; the strong hard contrast pro- instance to be falsified. duced by the fire on the features and Accordingly, at that social hour of figures that surrounded it, saluting with evening in which we open our scene roseate brightness what it touched, and upon the baron's hall, in the thirteenth leaving in ebon blackness what it could century - the third Henry, that weak, not reach ;—the prominent glare and but amiable monarch, being in the zenith profound shadow that Rembrandt loved, of his long and turbulent reign--we sharing between them the figures and behold the guests of Goldenrood forming variegated costume of the mantled baron, a vast and motley assemblage around the the unhelmed knight, the hooded Frank- reredoss. The table of dais, and those lin, the silk-attired dame, the half-veiled of various inferior grades, were forsaken; maiden, and the countless grades of de. and the revellers, to whom the skilful pendents and servitors, not forgetting the and punctilious etiquette of the seneswhite-wanded seneschal, or the gaudily chal had duly assigned the seat their

« VorigeDoorgaan »