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had with the Welsh, in 1157, some of his nobles, who times, meet us constantly in the incidental allusions had been detached with a considerable part of the in the Abbey in our old historians and topographiers; army, were cut off by an ambuscade ; those who es- thus, for instance, amongst the hospitals allached to caped, thinking the king was also surrounded, told the foundation, mention is made of a house for lepers every one they met that he was either iaken or slain. at Erleigh.
“ 'I'he news of this imaginary disaster put to flight That ine town flourished under their guardian care. the greatest part of the surviving army. Among ihe is sufficiently proved, by the fact that Speed's map, rest, Henry de Essex, hereditary standard-bearer to taken a comparatively short period after ihe Reforma. the kings of England, threw away the royal banner, tion, might almost have passed for a plan of Reading and fied. For this act of cowardice he was challenged forty years ago, so liule had the old town increased it by Robert de Montford as a traitor. Essex denied the has made a huge spring in the present century) during charge, declaring he was fully persuaded that the the long period that intervenied between Elizabeib king was slain or taken; which probably would have and George the Third. happened, if Roger, Earl of Clare, had not brought The palmy days of the church of Rome in this up a body of troops, and, by displaying again ihe country were, however, numbered, and upon none of royal standard, encouraged the soldiers; by which the great monastic establishments did the storm of the means he preserved the remainder of the army. Reformation burst with more unsparing violence than
“The king ordered this quarrel to be decided by upon the fated Abbey of Reading. single combat; and the two knights met at Reading, In September, 1539, John London, one of the comon the 8th of April, on an island,* near the Abbey, missioners for visiting and suppressing religious houses, the king being present in person, with many of the arrived at Reading, and notwithstanding the submission | nobility and other spectators. Montford began the of Hugh, the then abbot, which appears io have been combat with great fury, and Essex, having endured implicit, he was hanged and quartered with two of this violent attack for some time, at length turning his monks at one of the gates of the monastery, en into rage, took upon himself the part of a challenger the 14th of November following. and not of a defender. He fell after receiving many The work of destruction then commenced. No wounds; and the king, supposing him slain, at the particulars of the demolition of the Abbey have come request of several noblemen, his relations, gave per down to ns; but it is clear that the magnificent church mission to the monks to inter the body, commanding was levelled at once. parily, perhaps, for the sake of that no further violence should be offered to it. The the valuable materials, and partly to prevent the peomonks took up the vanquished knight, and carried ple, attached by habit to the splendid ceremonies of him into the Abbey, where he revived. When he ihe Catholic worship, from clinging to the cherished recovered from his wounds, he was received into the associations connecied with the spot. community and assumed the habit of the order, his The site of the monastery itself remained with the lands being forfeited to the king."
crown, and a part of the house was converted into a Such was the Abbey from its foundation to the royal residence, visited more than once by Elizabeth, Reformation ; succeeding Monarchs augmenting its and mentioned by Camden. But the enormous press demesnes and revenues by magnificent gifis. and sessions of the Abbey granted to one favourite and confirming by successive charters the privileges and another, were slowly frittered away, while n hat reimmunities enjoyed by the abbol and monks; for al. mained of the house itself was nearly destroyed in the though the superior had various country-houses and siege of Reading during the civil wars. parks, and was a spiritual peer of the highest rank, Every twenty years has brought a fresh diminution. there yet appears, from many of the rules which have until litile now remains, except the shell of the relec. come down to us, one especially, in which no member tory, and of one or two other large detached buildings of the community could absent himself for a night more or less entire, parts of the cloisters, and large without first obtaining permission from every individ- rock-like fragments of the grey walls, denuded of the ual monk in the convent, sufficient reason to believe cut free-stone by which they were coated, some up that the internal government of the house was not right, some leaning against each other, and some
altogether monarchial, but that it partook somewhat pitched violently into the earih, as if by a tremendous of the mixed form of the English constitution, and convulsion of nature. But in the very absence of that the commons, if we may so term the breihren of artificial ornament, in the massiveness and rasiness the order, had some voice in the management of its of these remains, there is something singularly im concerns.
pressive and majestic. They have about them much Upon the whole, the rule of the monks of Reading of the hoary grandeur, the wild and naked desolation over their vassals, the burghers, and their feudal which characterize Stonehenge. And as the paltry tenants in the villages round, to say nothing of their modern buildings which disfigured them are gradually dependent cells at Leominster and at Cholsey, seems disappearing, there is every reason to hope, from the to have been mild, benevolent, and eharitable. Rich excellent taste of the present proprietor, ibai as soon landlords are, generally speaking, kind landlords; it as the excavations which have brought to light so is those who are themselves pushed for money who much that is curious and beautiful shall be completed, become hard creditors in return; and besides the they may be left to the great artist Nature, so that we wealth that flowed into the good borough from the may, in a few years, see our once-famous Abbey more trains of knights and nobles who attended the parlia. august and beautiful than it has been at any perad ments and councils held in the Abbey, the fathers of since the days of its pristine magnificence; rescued. the community were not only zealous protectors of as far as is now possible, from the din and bustle of their vassals against the aggressions so common in that age of violence, but they furnished alms to the poor, shelter to the houseless, and medical aid to the vacant spaces representing tields round the corn being
| Very curious is this old map of " Redding." The sick, from their own resources. Traces of their power 'illustrated by certain curious representations of trees and their charity, as well as of the manners of the and animals particularly unlike, such as a cont in it
act of being milked, (the sex of the milking figure is
doubtful, the dress being equally unsuitable to man or * Tradition assigns as the place of this combat a be311. woman, girl or hoy,) ino horses fighting, with sbeep tiful green island nearly surrounded with willows, in the grazing, and another creature which may stand for a ris midst of the Thames, to the east of Caversham bridge. or an ox at discretion, standing at ease in a meadow. It A more beautiful spot could not have been devised for is remarkable that each of these animals would make such a combat. It was in sight of the Abbey, and of the three or four of the trees, under which it is supposed to remarkable chapel erected in the centre of the bridge, of stand, and is very much bigger and taller than any church which the foundation still remains, surinounted by a in the place. Those old artists had strange notions er modern house.
perspective and proportion.
this work-a-day world, and rising like the stately ruins fashioned seminary in which I was brought
up, we were not quite free from these vanities. I carpet, the green elder bush and the young ash tree We, too, had our high castes and our low growing amongst the mouldering niches, the ivy and castes, and (alas! for her and for ourselves!) the wall-flower waving from above, and the bright, we counted among our number one who in her clear river flowing silently along, adorning and reflect loneliness and desolation might almost be ing a scene which is at once a picture and a history.
called a Pariah — or if that be too strong an illustration, who was at least, in more senses than one, the Cinderella of the school.
Honor O’Callaghan was, as her name imHONOR O'CALLAGHAN. ports, an Irish girl. She had been placed un
der the care of Mrs. Sherwood before she was Times are altered since Gray spoke of the five years old, her father being designated, in young Etonians as a set of dirty boys playing an introductory letter which he brought in his at cricket. There are no such things as boys hand, as a barrister from Dublin, of ancient to be met with now, either at Eton or else- family, of considerable ability, and the very where; they are all men from ten years old highest honour. The friend, however, who upwards. Dirt also hath vanished bodily, to had given him this excellent character, had, be replaced by finery. An aristocratic spirit, unfortunately, died a very short time after poor an aristocracy not of rank but of money, pos- Honor's arrival; and of Mr. O'Callaghan, sesses the place, and an enlightened young nothing had ever been heard after the first gentleman of my acquaintance, who, when half-year, when he sent the amount of the bill somewhere about the ripe age of eleven, con- in a draft, which, when due, proved to be disjored his mother " not to come to see him honoured. The worst part of this communiuntil she had got her new carriage, lest he cation, however unsatisfactory in its nature, should be quizzed by the rest of the men,” was, that it was final. All inquiries, whether was perhaps no unfair representative of the in Dublin or elsewhere, proved unavailing; mass of his school-fellows. There are, of Mr. O'Callaghan had disappeared ; our uncourse, exceptions to this rule. The sons of lucky governante found herself saddled with the old nobility, too much accustomed to the board, clothing, and education, the present splendour in its grander forms, and too sure care, and future destiny, of a little girl, for of their own station to care about such mat- whom she felt about as much affection as was ters, and the few finer spirits, whose ambition felt by the overseers of Aberleigh towards their even in boyhood soars to far higher and holier involuntary protegé, Jesse Cliffe. Nay, in sayaims, are, generally speaking, alike exempt ing this, I am probably giving our worthy from these vulgar cravings after petty distinc- governess credit for somewhat milder feelings tions. And for the rest of the small people, upon this subject than she actually entertained; why “winter and rough weather," and that the overseers in question, accustomed to such most excellent schoolmaster, the world, will circumstances, harbouring no stronger sentinot fail, sooner or later, to bring them to wiser ment than a cold, passive indifference towards thoughts.
the parish boy, whilst she, good sort of woman In the meanwhile, as according to our as in general she was, did certainly upon this homely proverb, "for every gander there's a occasion cherish something very like an active goose, so there are not wanting in London aversion 10 the little intruder. and its environs "establishments,” (the good The fact is, that Mrs. Sherwood, who had old name of boarding-school being altogether been much captivated by Mr. O'Callaghan's done away with,) where young ladies are showy, off-hand manner, his civilities, and his trained up in a love of fashion and finery, and flatteries, felt, for the first time in her life, that a reverence for the outward symbols of wealth, she had been taken in; and being a peculiarly which cannot fail to render them worthy com- prudent, cautious personage, of the slow, peers of the young gentlemen their contempo- sluggish, stagnant temperament, which those raries. I have known a little girl, (fit mate who possess it are apt to account a virtue, and for the above-mentioned amateur of new car to hold in scorn their more excitable and imriages,) who complained that her mamma call- pressible neighbours, found herself touched in ed upon her, attended only by one footman; the very point of honour, piqued, aggrieved, and it is certain, that the position of a new- mortified; and denouncing the father as the comer in one of these houses of education will greatest deceiver that ever trod the earth, not fail to be materially influenced by such could not help transferring some part of her considerations as the situation of her father's hatred to the innocent child. She was really town residence, or the name of her mother's a good sort of woman, as I have said before, milliner. At so early a period does the ex- and every now and then her conscience twitchclusiveness which more or less pervades the ed her, and she struggled hard to seem kind whole current of English society make its and to be so : but it would not do. There the appearance amongst our female youth. feeling was, and the more she struggled against Even in the comparatively rational and old-I it, the stronger, I verily believe, it became. 46 *
Trying to conquer a deep-rooted aversion, is O'Connors, her maternal ancestors; and over something like trampling upon camomile: such dim traces of Cathleen's legends as floatthe harder you tread it down the more it flou- ed in her memory, fragments wild, shadowy, rishes.
and indistinct, as the recollections of a dream, Under these evil auspices, the poor little did the poor Irish girl love to brocd. Visions Irish girl grew up amongst us. Not ill-used of long-past splendour possessed her wholly, certainly, for she was fed and taught as we and the half-unconscious reveries in which she were; and some forty shillings a year more had the habit of indulging, gave a tinge of roexpended upon the trifles, gloves, and shoes, mance and enthusiasm to her character, as peand ribbons, which make ihe difference be- culiar as her story. tween nicety and shabbiness in female dress, Everything connected with her country had would have brought her apparel upon an for her an indescribable charm. It was wonequality with ours. Ill-used she was not; to derful how, with the apparently scanty means be sure, teachers and masters seemed to con- of acquiring knowledge which the common sider it a duty to reprimand her for such faults school histories afforded, together with here as would have passed unnoticed in another; and there a stray book borrowed for her by her and if there were any noise amongst us, she, young companions from their home libraries, by far the quietest and most silent person in and questions answered from the same source, the house, was, as a matter of course, accused she had contrived to collect her abundant and of making it. Still she was not what would accurate information, as to its early annals and be commonly called ill-treated ; although her present position. Her antiquarian lore was young heart was withered and blighted, and perhaps a little tinged, as such antiquarianism her spirit crushed and broken by the chilling is apt to be, by the colouring of a warm imaindifference, or the harsh unkindness which gination; but still it was a remarkable exemsurrounded her on every side.
plification of the power of an ardent mind to Nothing, indeed, could come in stronger ascertain and combine facts upon a favourite contrast than the position of the young Irish subject under apparently insuperable difficul. girl, and that of her English companions. A ties. Unless in pursuing her historical inquistranger, almost a foreigner amongst us, with ries, she did not often speak upon the subject. no home but that great school-room ; no com- Her enthusiasm was too deep and too concenforts, no indulgences, no knick-knacks, no mo- trated for words. But she was Irish to the ney, nothing but the sheer, bare, naked neces- heart's core, and had even retained, one can saries of a school-girl's life; no dear family hardly tell how, the slight accent which in a to think of and to go to; no fond father to sweet-toned female voice is so pretty. come to see her; no brothers and sisters; no In her appearance, also, there were many of kindred; no friends. was a loneliness, a the characteristics of her countrywomen. The desolation, which, especially at breaking-up roundness of form and clearness of complexion, times, when all her school-fellows went joy- the result of good nurture and pure blood fully away each to her happy home, and she which are often found in those who have been was left the solitary and neglected inhabitant nursed in an Irish cabin, the abundant wary of the deserted mansion, must have pressed hair and the deep-set grey eye. The face, in upon her very heart. The heaviest tasks of spite of some irregularity of feature, would the half-year must have been pleasure and en- have been pretty, decidedly pretty, if the joyment compared with the dreariness of those owner had been happy; but the expression lonesome holidays.
was too abstracted, too thoughtful, too melan. And yet she was almost as lonely when we choly for childhood or even for youth. She were all assembled. Childhood is, for the was like a rose, shut up in a room, whose pale most part, generous and sympathising; and blossoms have hardly felt the touch of the there were many amongst us who, interested glorious sunshine or the blessed air. A daisy by her deserted situation, would have been of the field, a common, simple, cheerful-lookher friends. But Honor was one of those flow-ing daisy, would be pleasanter to gaze upon ers which will only open in the bright sun than the blighted queen of flowers. shine. Never did marigold under a cloudy Her figure was, however, decidedly beausky shut up her heart more closely than Honor tiful. Not merely tall, but pliant, elastic, and O'Callaghan. In a word, Honor had really graceful in no ordinary degree. She was one of the many faults ascribed to her by Mrs. not generally remarkable for accomplishment. Sherwood, and her teachers, and masters How could she, in the total absence of the that fault so natural and so pardonable in ad- most powerful, as well as the most amiable versity - she was proud.
motives to exertion ? She had no one to National and family pride blended with the please; no one to watch her progress, to repersonal feeling. Young as she was when joice in her success, to lament her failure. In she left Ireland, she had caught from the old many branches of education she had not adnurse who had had the care of her infancy, vanced beyond mediocrity, but her dancing rude legends of the ancient greatness of her was perfection; or rather it would have been country, and of the regal grandeur of the so, if to her other graces she had added the
charm of gaiety. But that want, as our French est interest. Accordingly, she left the house dancing-master used to observe, was so uni- where she had passed nearly all her life, versal in this country, that the wonder would without expressing any desire to hear again have been to see any young lady, whose face of its inmates, and never wrote a line to any in a cotillion (for it was before the days of of them. quadrilles) did not look as if she was follow We did hear of her, however, occasionally. ing a funeral.
Rumours reached us, vague and distant, and Such at thirteen I found Honor O’Callaghan, more conflicting even than distant rumours are when I, a damsel some three years younger, wont to be. She was distinguished at the vicewas first placed at Mrs. Sherwood's ; such five regal court, a beauty and a wit; she was maryears afterwards I left her, when I quitted the ried to a nobleman of the highest rank; she was school.
a nun of the order of Mercy; she was dead. Calling there the following spring, accom And as years glided on, as the old school panied by my good godfather, we again saw passed into other hands, and the band of youthHonor silent and pensive as ever. The old ful companions became more and more disgentleman was much struck with her figure persed, one of the latter opinions began to gain and her melancholy. “Fine girl that!" ob- ground among us, when two or three chanced served he to me: "looks as if she was in love to meet, and to talk of old school-fellows. If though,” added he, putting his finger to his she had been alive and in the great world, nose with a knowing nod, as was usual with surely some of us should have heard of her. him upon occasions of that kind. I, for my Her having been a Catholic, rendered her part, in whom a passion for literature was just taking the veil not improbable; and to a perbeginning to develope itself, had a theory of son of her enthusiastic temper, the duties of my own upon the subject, and regarded her the sisters of Mercy would have peculiar with unwonted respect in consequence. Her charms. abstraction appeared to me exactly that of an As one of that most useful and most beneauthor when contemplating some great work, volent order, or as actually dead, we were and I had no doubt but she would turn out a therefore content to consider her, until, in the poetess. Both conjectures were characteristic, lapse of years and the changes of destiny, we and both, as it happened, wrong.
had ceased to think of her at all. Upon my next visit to London, I found that The second of this present month of May a great change had happened in Honor's was a busy and a noisy day in my garden. destiny. Her father, whom she had been All the world knows what a spring this has fond of investing with the dignity of a rebel, been. The famous black spring commemorabut who had, according to Mrs. Sherwood's ted by Gilbert White can hardly have been more reasonable suspicion, been a reckless, more thoroughly ungenial, more fatal to man extravagant, thoughtless person, whose follies or beast, to leaf and flower, than this most had been visited upon himself and his family, miserable season, this winter of long days, with the evil consequences of crimes, had died when the sun shines as if in mockery, giving in America; and his sister, the richly-jointured little more heat than his cold sister the moon, widow of a baronet, of old Milesian blood, and the bitter north-east produces at one and who during his life had been inexorable to his the same moment the incongruous annoyances entreaties to befriend the poor girl, left as it of biting cold and suffocating dust. Never were in pledge at a London boarding-school, was such a season. The swallows, nightinhad relented upon hearing his death, had gales, and cuckoos, were a fortnight after come to England, settled all pecuniary matters their usual time. I wonder what they thought to the full satisfaction of the astonished and of it, pretty creatures, and how they made up delighted governess, and finally carried Honor their minds to come at all!-and the sloe blosback with her to Dublin.
somn, the black thorn winter as the common From this time we lost sight altogether of people call it, which generally makes its apour old companion. With her school-fellows pearance early in March, along with the first she had never formed even the common school violets, did not whiten the hedges this year intimacies, and to Mrs. Sherwood and her until full two months later. * lo short, everyfunctionaries she owed no obligation except body knows that this has been a most villanthat of money, which was now discharged. ous season, and deserves all the ill that can The only debt of gratitude which she had ever acknowledged, was to the old French *It is extraordinary, how some flowers seem to teacher, who, although she never got nearer obey the season, whilst others are influenced by the
weather. The hawthorn, certainly nearly akin to the the pronunciation or the orthography of her sloe blossoms, is this year rather forwarder, if any. name than Mademoiselle l'Ocalle, had yet, in thing, than in common years; and the fritillary, the overflowing benevolence of her temper, always a May flower, is painting the water meadows taken such notice of the deserted child, as at this moment in company with “the blackthorn amidst the general neglect might pass' for winter;" or rather is nearly over, whilst its cousinkindness. But she had returned to France. The warmest exposures and most sheltered borders of For no one else did Honor profess the slight- I the garden.
possibly be said of it. But the second of May | contrived and executed by a most kind and inheld forth a promise which, according to a genious friend, for the purpose of sheltering very usual trick of English weather, it has not the pyramid of geraniums in front of my kept; and was so mild and smiling and gra- greenhouse, - consisting of a wooden roof, cious, that, without being quite so foolish as drawn by pulleys up and down a high, strong to indulge in any romantic and visionary ex- post, something like the mast of a ship,* had pectation of ever seeing summer again, we given way; and another most kind friend had were yet silly enough to be cheered by the arrived with the requisite machinery, blocks thought that spring was coming at last in good and ropes, and tackle of all sorts, to replace it
upon an improved construction. With him In a word, it was that pleasant rarity a came a tall blacksmith, a short carpenter, and fine day; and it was also a day of considera- a stout collar-maker, with hammers, nails,' ble stir, as I shall attempt to describe here- chisels, and tools of all sorts, enough to build after, in my small territories.
a house; ladders of all heights and sizes, two į In the street too, and in the house, there
or three gaping apprentices, who stood about was as much noise and bustle as one would in the way, John Willing to lend his aid in be| well desire to hear in our village.
half of his flowers, and master Dick with his The first of May is Belford Great Fair, hands in his pockets looking on. The short where horses and cows are sold, and men
carpenter perched himself upon one ladder, the meet gravely to transact grave business; and Mr. Lawson, mounted to the mast-head; and
tall blacksmith on another; my good friend, the second of May is Belford Little Fair, such a clatter ensued of hammers and voices where boys and girls of all ages, women and (for it was exactly one of those faney jobs children of all ranks, flock into the town, to buy ribbons and dolls and balls and ginger- find fault)—such clashing of opinions and con
where every one feels privileged to advise and bread, to eat cakes and suck oranges, to stare at the shows, and gaze at the wild beasts, and ceptions and suggestions as would go to the to follow merrily the merry business called
building a county town.
Whilst this was going forward in middle pleasure.
air, I and my company were doing our best to Carts and carriages, horse-people and foot- furnish forth the chorus below. It so happened people, were flocking to the fair; unsold cows that two sets of my visiters were scientific i and horses, with their weary drivers, and botanists, the one party holding the Linnæan labouring men who, having made a night as
system, the others disciples of Jussieu ; and well as a day of it, began to think it time to
the garden being a most natural place for such find their way home, were coming from it; / a discussion, a war of hard words ensued, Punch was being exhibited at one end of the which would have done honour to the Tower street, a barrel-organ, surmounted by a most of Babel. “ Tetradynamia,” exclaimed one accomplished monkey, was playing at the set; “Monocotyledones," thundered the other; other; a half-tipsy horse-dealer was galloping whilst a third friend, a skilful florist, but no up and down the road, showing off an un botanist, unconsciously out-long-worded both broken forest pony, who threatened every of them, by telling me that the name of a new moment to throw him and break his neck; a annual was “ Leptosiphon androsaceus." hawker was walking up the street crying Never was such a confusion of noises! The Greenacre's last dying speech, who was hang- house door opened, and my father's strong ed that morning at Newgate, and as all the clear voice was heard in tones of warning. world knows, made none; and the highway
“ Woman, how can you swear to this goose?' in front of our house was well-nigh blocked Whilst the respondent squeaked out in someup by three or four carriages waiting for dif- thing between a scream and a cry, " Please ferent sets of visiters, and by a gang of gipsies your worship, the poor bird having a-laid all who stood clustered round the gate, waiting his eggs, we had marked un, and so—” What with great anxiety the issue of an investiga- | farther she would have said being drowned in tion going on in the hall, where one of their
a prodigious clatter occasioned by the downgang was under examination upon a question fall of the ladder that supported the tall blackof stealing a goose. Witnesses, constables, smith, which, striking against that whereon and other officials were loitering in the court,
was placed the short carpenter, overset that and dogs were barking, women chattering, climbing machine also, and the clamour inciboys blowing horns, and babies squalling through all. It was as pretty a scene of crowd and din and bustle as one shall see in a sum
* This description does not sound prettily, but the
real effoct is exceedingly graceful: the appearance of mer's day. The fair itself was calm and
the dark canopy suspended over the pile of bright quiet in comparison; the complication of dis- flowers at a considerable height, has something about cordant sounds in Hogarth's Enraged Musician it not merely picturesque but oriental; and that a was nothing to it.
gentleman's contrivance should succeed at all points,
as if he had been a real carpenter, instead of an earl's Within my garden the genius of noise was son and a captain in the navy, is a fact quite unparalequally triumphant. An ingenious device, leled in the annals of invention.