Page images
PDF
EPUB

consists of a number of very handsome farm-houses. Whether Ango’s residence in the village may have contributed to the flourishing appearance of this place, I know not, but I am inclined to believe so, for most Norman villages wear a very different aspect. Near the village is situated the castle, or manoir, of Ango.

Jean Ango was contemporary with Francis the First. He was the Jacques Cæur of that day. The son of an opulent father, he contrived by judicious enterprises to amass immense wealth. His ships traversed all the seas; he lent money and even a flotilla to his sovereign; and, when a foreign king, the king of Portugal, had offended him by taking one of his vessels, he equipped a fleet, which destroyed and plundered towns and villages in the environs of Lisbon, and filled the capital itself with consternation. The king of Portugal conceived that a sovereign only could act thus; and, on learning that the feet was French, he sent to Francis the first to demand an explanation of such a procedure in time of peace. Francis referred the messenger to Ango, intimating that his master was only at war with the latter, and that with him only he had to make peace. Ango received the envoy with the utmost magnificence, and recalled his fleet. Even in those days it was deemed prudent to elevate men who were capable of lending to a king above the bourgeoisie, and so Ango was created count, and appointed governor of Dieppe. But what he had acquired as burgher, he was doomed to lose as count. Ango grew vain, and squandered prodigious sims to gratify his vanity: he grew proud, and treated those who had assisted him to become rich as though he had been the son of a count. In this manner he estranged from him the citizens of Dieppe; and when, having got into embarrassment by his foolish extravagance, he was forced to be their debtor, the tempest burst and overthrew the edifice of his grandeur. The man who had seen kings humbled before him was doomed, at the conclusion of his life, to deplore in solitude the ruin of his fortunes.

The Manoir d'Ango bears to this day traces of the former magnificence of its founder. Though the hand of Time has marle havoc with it, there are still to be seen arcades and pillars, which attest the luxury and the art employed in the construction of this edifice. Two medallions, carved in stone, if they really are, as they are said to be, likenesses of Francis the First and Ango, attest also his vanity; while you are strongly reminded of his misfortunes by the circumstance that the proud building is now a ruin, and the dwelling of a lowly husbandman.

From Ango's castle I went to the church of Varengeville. It is situated on the margin of the steep clift. The church itself is not more remarkable than a thousand others; but its site, at a distance from the village, high above the sca, and looking down upon it, and upon the rugged rocks which here form the coast, scooped into a semicircle of several miles' extent, is peculiarly striking and solemn. I sat down upon the wall surrounding the churchyard, and indulged for some time in the most delicious reverie.

“ If that is true,” I at last exclaimed, " then must the devil be a stupid devil indeed!” A popular legend, which I had read or picked up somewhere or other, had come into my head. Many hundred years ago, the village of Varengeville having considerably increased, its inhabitants resolved to build a church, precisely in the centre of the place, that it might be handy for everybody: So they fell to work; but what they did in the day the devil pulled down at night, and built up again

on the spot where the church now stands. This continued for several days and nights, till the people of Varengeville were tired out, and resolved to finish building where the devil had begun. Nor could they have played him a more scurvy trick. This devil was so simple as merely to calculate that the villagers would have a couple of hundred paces jurther to go to church, without considering that sublime Nature would there preach them such a sermon as could not fail to make an impression on the most obdurate heart. Had the celebrated Eulen. spiegel then been the devil's clerk of the works, he could not more literally have obered the injunction to take care to let all the churches be placed as far as possible from their respective villages.

The sun wës fast declining. Gladly would I have stayed to witness the scene of liis setting, but I had still two good leagues to walk to Dieppe. To have wished me a good night's rest would have been suipertiuous : nor did the devil, to whom I had told such home truths, disturb my slumbers by unpleasant dreams.

..

BROKEN FAITH.

Thou'rt not forgotten,-by the flash
That gleams in yon dark eye,
When in the thronged haunts of life
Thy graceful form glides by !
The sudden start--the lip compress'd,
When thy sweet voice is heard,
Proves that the faithless one yet scels
How deeply thou’rt preferr'd.
Thou’rt not forgotten, -by the cloud
Of gloom upon that brow,
Which once was sunny as thine own,
All low'ring be it now!
The light of wit no longer beams
Upon his words and ways,
In bitterness he smiles, and turns
From thoughts of former days.
Thou’rt not forgotten, ---by the fierce
Despair that mocks control,
When the calm pity of thy glance
Strikes daygers to his soul!
Or when he sees another seek
The love that once he priz'd,
And his own rows across him rush
Those vows he has despis'd!
Thou’rt not forgotten,-every hour
He mourns thee more and more.
What protits him his noble bride?
Or what lier golden store ?
For since he broke his faith with thee
Each thought and hope is chang’d.
Thou'rt not forgotten, -fearfully
Thy slighted love's aveng'd!

RURAL FESTIVALS.

.

“ To the inhabitants of London,” says a modern writer, “it is almost in vain that the year brings round its magic changes, for they know not of the breathing spring, the blooming summer, the rich autumn, and the ruin-spreading winter.” This proscription is, we would fain hope, too sweeping to apply even to the brick-environed Londoner; but in some degree it is certainly applicable to all the inmates of crowded towns and cities, who are prohibited by circumstances from familiar connexion with the country and its varied attractions. The Maypole and its festive games (or rather, alas! we would say, the remnants of them), the sheepshearing merriment, the hay-harvest festivity, the gladsome hilarity with which each successive season is welcomed, alike in its own peculiar toils and its own apportioned relaxations--these, the denizen of the town knows little of, or knows of but as relics of ruder days, more honoured, perhaps, (he may have been taught to think,) in the breach than in the observance. But there is one country festival, which, taking its rise in a circumstance in which every one in the empire, from the Queen on the throne to the peasant in the mud hovel, is individually interested, cannot be quite overlooked by any person not entirely devoid of reflection, but whose annual return must bring even to him a sense of joy in its aspect of hope and plenty. It is that festival now celebrating, now also quickly drawing to a close, which is expressed more eloquently in two words than in the most laboured description-Harvest Home. For now all Nature pours forth her lo Peans to the great Giver of life and joy: now the bounteous soil yields with lavish prodigality the stores which successive seasons have been fostering in her bosom; the luscious fruits, the ripened corn, the wholesome vegetables, the perfected fruition of “the fatness of the earth, and the dews of heaven;"> now that golden earth gives back gleam for gleam to the sun, in return for the rays she borrows from him; the farmer is filling his barns; the merry labourer is piling the yellow sheaves; and the poor, their countenances enlivened with happiness at the prospect of some short relief from privation, glean the ears that have been flung

“From the full sheath, with charitable stealth,” -all feel the inspiring effect of the hour of Nature's jubilee, and all hearts are opened to the contagious influence of joy.

“ Now is the time for mirth,

Nor cheek or tongue be dumbe;
For the tlowrie earth,

The golden pomp is come.” Accustomed from earliest infancy to the hourly use of this “ staff of life,” corn, we are apt to pass onward without reflecting on the original production of a vegetable, which, from habit, we receive too much as a matter of course. The introduction here of many of our most valued vegetables we can distinctly trace from their parent soil, but of corn we know not the origin, neither do we know of any land in which it grew spontaneously. Egypt is said by many authors to be the country whence corn sprang, and some say it grew spontaneously there-as Homer,

“ The soil untill’d a ready harvest yields,

With wheat and barley wave the golden fields;" but we have Bible testimony to the effect that corn was cultivated there as far back as 3500 years ago; for Joseph, having bought up all the land and produce, gave the people seed to sow the land. From Egypt and Syria, corn, and the practice of its cultivation, made an easy transit into Europe; and, though we know not the definite time at which it was first grown in our island, we are told that Cæsar on his earliest invasion found it here. Carrying with it the especial blessing of the Almighty, as the food expressly provided by him for the use of his creatures, it is found to flourish in every climate, in every country; and so quickly were its valuable properties discovered and estimated, that in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when it was first cultivated in North America, “ some of the petty kings would mortgage their whole kingdoms, which were as large as the counties of England, for four or five hundred bushels of this grain, to be paid the following harvest."' *

A season which brought in its arms a production so fraught with blessings could not but be looked forward to with hope, and be received with thankfulness and joy. Man's natural disposition would lead to such results, but they were not left to the fickle and uncertaiu ordinance of man. “ In the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of your land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lo d seven days; on the first day shall be a sabhath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath-and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your

God seven days.”—“ Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maid-serrant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God, in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore, thou shalt surely rejoice.

« To Čeres bland," the fair and majestic goddess who taught the art of tilling the earth, and sowing this most magnificent of its productions, the ancients offered ever the first fruits of this golden spoil, accompanied with sacrifices and other oblations, for

all the hinds bend low at Ceres' shrine ; Mix honey sweet, for her, with milk and mellow wine. Thrice lead the victim the new fruits around,

And Ceres call, and choral hymns resound.” The Eleusinian mysteries were instituted in her honour by the Athenians; and the Romans, in the time of Numa Pompilius, were so scrupulous that they would not even taste of new corn before a due portion had been offered to the priests, judging that so invaluable a produce was under the special care of several divinities. A chaplet of corn was the most sacred badge and ensign of the first priesthood instituted in Rome.+

If our pagan ancestors erred in the application of their thanksofferings,

[blocks in formation]

“ When, for their teeming flocks and granges full,

In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,

And thank the gods amiss,”the feeling of gratitude and joy which incited them is one well worthy of encouragement and imitation. To the lower classes of the ancients corn-harvest was especially a season of jubilee; for at that time the distinctions of rank were forgotten, and master and servant, slave and lord, without distinction, without fear, and without favour, miscellaneously crowded the festive board.

The respect and good feeling shown to domestics, on these occasions, originated probably in a due sense of their valuable services, since on their industry and activity must depend much of the proprietor's success in housing his corn. Consequently they have continued to hold very important stations in the autumn's jubilee. The iron hand of civilization (so called) is so fast rubbing down every trace of homefelt, heartfelt, originality, that shortly it will be only in the moth-eaten pages of antiquarians that we shall learn anything of those customs which, in our own country, from the time at least of the Anglo-Saxons, have, in the autumn of ihe year, bound high and low, rich and poor, in one band of fellowship and cheerful innocent hilarity.

One of the most engaging of these customs, and most strongly tending to encourage the happier and more liberal einotions of the mind, was that to which we have casually alluded, of allowing the destitute to follow in the track of the reaper, and glean a little harvest of their own. In that beautiful law which disdains not to notice a bird's nest” which shall “ chance to be on the ground,” it is thus written—“ When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.”. “ When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it : it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow : that the Lord thy God may bless thee.” That this benevolent custom continued till a late date (happily it is not entirely exploded yet) we learn from scattered notices; as this from Thomson

“ The gleaners spread around, and here and there,

Spike after spike, their scanty liarvest pick.” It is impossible to imagine a more beautiful picture than a harvestfield presents to the eye, when

“ Before the ripen'd field the reapers stand,

In fair array; each by the lass he loves,
To bear the rougher part, and mitigate
By nameless gentle offices her toil.
At once they stoop and swell the lusty sheaves;
While through their cheerful band the rural talk,
The rural scandal, and the rural jest,

Fly harmless." Description, however, cannot do justice to it. An eye-witness alone can comprehend the exuberant overflow of animation, of good humour and joy, which, on a favourable day, peryade every breast, from the brawny yeoman of sixty years who leads the field, to the babe of as many weeks who is swathed in a clothes-basket near the hedge, under

« PreviousContinue »