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LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
|Vol. 10, No. 265.]||SATURDAY, JULY 21, 1827.||[PRICE 2d.|
Ashby-de-la-Zouch is a small market town in Leicestershire, pleasantly situated in a fertile vale, on the skirts of the adjoining county of Derbyshire, on the banks of a small liver called the Gilwiskaw, over which is a handsome stone bridge. The original name of this town was simply Ashby, but it acquired the addition of De-la-Zouch, to distinguish it from other Ashbys, from the Zouches, who were formerly lords of this manor, which after the extinction of the male line of that family, in the first year of the reign of Henry IV. came to Sir Hugh Burnel, knight of the garter, by his marriage with Joice, the heiress of the Zouches. From him it devolved to James Butler, earl of Ormond and Wiltshire; who being attainted on account of his adherence to the party of Henry VI. it escheated to the crown, and was, in the first year of Edward IV. granted by that king to Sir William Hastings, in consideration of his great services; he was also created a baron, chamberlain of the household; captain of Calais, and knight of the garter, and had license to make a park and cranellate, or fortify several of his houses, amongst which was one at this place, which was of great extent, strength, and importance, and where he and his descendants resided for about two hundred years. It was situated on the south side of the town, on a rising ground, and was chiefly composed of brick and stone; the rooms were spacious and magnificent, attached to which was a costly private chapel. The building had two lofty towers of immense size, one of them containing a large hall, great chambers, bedchambers, kitchen, cellars, and all other offices. The other was called the kitchen tower. Parts of the wall of the hall, chapel, and kitchen, are still remaining, which display a grand and interesting mass of ruins; the mutilated walls being richly decorated with doorways, chimney-pieces, windows, coats of arms, and other devices. In this, castle, the unfortunate and persecuted Mary queen of Scots, who has given celebrity to so many castles and old mansions, by her melancholy imprisonment beneath their lofty turrets, was for some time confined, while in the custody of the earl of Huntingdon. In the year 1603, Anne, consort of James I. and her son, prince Henry, were entertained by the earl of Huntingdon at this castle, which was at that time the seat of much hospitality. It was afterwards honoured by a visit from that monarch, who remained here for several days, during which time dinner was always served up by thirty poor knights, with gold chains and velvet gowns. In the civil wars between king Charles and his parliament, this castle was deeply involved, being garrisoned for the king; it was besieged by the parliamentary forces, and although it was never actually conquered, (from whence the garrison obtained the name of Maiden,) it was evacuated and dismantled by capitulation in the year 1648.
For the spirited engraving of the ruins of this famous castle, we acknowledge ourselves indebted to our obliging friend S.I.B. who supplied us with an original drawing.
THE AUTHOR OF “LACON.”
(To the Editor of the Mirror.)
SIR,—The following additional particulars respecting the celebrated author of “Lacon,” may not be unacceptable to your readers, as a sequel to the interesting account of that eccentric individual inserted at p. 431, in your recently completed volume.
It will be in the recollection of many, that about the period of the murder of Weare, by Thurtel, Mr. Colton suddenly disappeared from among his friends, and no trace of him, notwithstanding the most vigilant inquiry, could be discovered. As Weare’s murder produced an unprecedented sensation in the public mind, it gave rise to a variety of reports against the perpetrators of that horrible crime, imputing to them other atrocities of a similar kind. It is needless now to say that most of these suspicions were wholly without foundation.
It was at length ascertained, that Mr. C., finding himself embarrassed with his creditors, had taken his departure for America, where he remained about two years, travelling over the greater part of the United States; and it is much to be desired that he would favour the public with the result of his observations during his residence in that country; as probably no person living is qualified to execute such a task with more shrewdness, judgment, or ability.
He is now residing at Paris, where he has been about two years and a half, and where I had frequently the pleasure of meeting him during the last winter, and of enjoying the raciness of his conversation, which abounds in wit, anecdote, and an universality of knowledge. It is too well known that he is not unaddicted to the allurements of the gaming table, and it is understood among his immediate friends, that he has been—what few are—successful adventurer, having repaired in the saloons of Paris, in a great degree, the loss he sustained by the forfeiture of his church livings. His singular coolness, calculation, and self-mastery, give him an advantage in this respect over, perhaps, every other votary of the gaming table.
Mr. Colton has an excellent taste for the fine arts, and has expended considerable sums in forming a picture gallery. Every nook of his apartment is literally covered with the treasures of art, including many of the chefs d’oeuvres of the great masters, and many valuable paintings are placed on the floor for want of room to suspend them against the wainscot. I may here observe, that his present domicile does not exactly correspond with that described as his former “castle” in London, inasmuch as it is part of a royal residence, it being on the second floor, on one side of the quadrangle of the Palais Royal, overlooking the large area of that building, and opposite to the jet d’eau in the centre. But his habits and mode of dress appear to be unchanged. He has only one room; he keeps no servant, (unless a boy to take care of his horse and cabriolet); he lights his own fire, and, I believe, performs all his other domestic offices himself. But, notwithstanding these whimsicalities, he is generous, hospitable and friendly. He still, when a friend “drops in,” produces a bottle or two of the finest wines and a case of the best cigars, of which he is a determined smoker.
I will only add, that he continues to employ himself in literary composition. Among other pieces not published in England, he has written an ode on the death of Lord Byron, a copy of which he presented me, but which I unfortunately lent—and lost. A small edition was printed at Paris for private circulation. He has also written an unpublished poem in the form of a letter from Lord Castlereagh in the shades, to Mr. Canning on earth, the caustic severity of which, in the opinion of those who have heard it read, is equal to that of any satire in the English language. I remember only the two first lines—
“Dear George, from these Shades, where no wine’s to be had.
But where rivers of flame run like rivers run mad.”
And the following, in allusion to the instrument with which Lord C. severed the carotid artery, and which was the means of producing such a change in the destiny of the present prime minister, who was then on the eve of going out to India as governor-general,—
“Have you pensioned the Jew boy that sold me the knife?”
It is to be lamented that such a man should be an exile from his native country.—But I draw a veil over the rest, and sincerely hope that his absence from England will not be perpetual.
* * *
THE DEAD TRUMPETER.
TO ILLUSTRATE A CELEBRATED FRENCH PICTURE.
(For the Mirror.)
‘Tis evening! the red rayless sun
Glares fiercely on the battle plain;—
Morn saw the deadly fray begun,
Morn heard thy bugle wake a strain,
Poor soldier! and its warning breath
Call’d thee, and myriads to death!
Thou wert thy mother’s darling, thou,
Light to thy father’s failing eyes;
Thou wert thy sisters’ dearest! now
What art thou? something to despise
Yet tremble at; to hide, and be
Forgot, but by their misery!
Thou wert the beautiful! the brave!
Thou wert all joy, and love, and light;
But oh! thy grace was for the grave,
Thy dawning day, for mornless night!
And thou, so loving, so carest
Yes, warrior! and the life-stream flows
Yet from thee, in thy foe-man’s land,
Welling before the gate of those
Who should stretch forth a kindly hand
To save th’ unhonour’d, friendless dead
From rushing legion’s scouring tread.
Friendless poor soldier?—nay thy steed
Stands gazing on thee, with an eye
Too piteous: he felt thee bleed,—
He saw thee, dropping from him,—die!
And in thine helpless, lorn estate,
He cannot leave thee, desolate.
Nor thy poor dog, whose anxious gaze,
On helm and bugle’s lowly place,
Speaks his deep sorrow and amaze!
He, watching yet, thine icy face
Licks thy pale forehead with a moan
To tell thee—Thou art not alone!
M. L. B.
ORIGINS AND INVENTIONS.
The Sphynx is supposed to have been engendered by Typhon, and sent by Juno to be revenged on the Thebans. It is represented with the head and breasts of a woman, the wings of a bird, the claws of a lion, and the rest of the body like a dog or lion. Its office they say, was to propose dark enigmatical questions to all passers by; and, if they did not give the explication of them,—to devour them. It made horrible ravages, as the story goes, on a mountain near Thebes. Apollo told Creon that she could not be vanquished, till some one had expounded her riddle. The riddle was—“What creature is that, which has four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?” Oedipus expounded it, telling her it was a man,—who when a child, creepeth on all fours; in his middle age, walketh on two legs, and in his old age, two and a staff. This put the Sphynx into a great rage, who, finding her riddle solved, threw herself down and broke her neck. Among the Egyptians, the Sphynx was the symbol of religion, by reason of the obscurity of its mysteries. And, on the same account, the Romans placed a Sphynx in the pronaos, or porch, of their temples. Sphynxes were used by the Egyptians, to show the beginning of the water’s rising in the Nile; with this view, as it had the head of a woman and body of a lion, it signified that the Nile began to swell in the months of July and August, when the sun passes through the signs of Leo and Virgo; accordingly it was a hieroglyphic, which taught the people the period of the most important event in the year, as the swelling and overflowing of the Nile gave fertility to Egypt. Accordingly they were multiplied without end, so that they were to be seen before all their remarkable monuments.
P. T. W.
By Miss Mitford.
The pride of my heart and the delight of my eyes is my garden. Our house, which is in dimensions very much like a bird-cage, and might, with almost equal convenience, be laid on a shelf, or hung up in a tree, would be utterly unbearable in warm weather, were it not that we have a retreat out of doors,—and a very pleasant retreat it is. To make my readers fully comprehend it, I must describe our whole territories.
Fancy a small plot of ground, with a pretty low irregular cottage at one end; a large granary, divided from the dwelling by a little court running along one side; and a long thatched shed open towards the garden, and supported by wooden pillars on the other. The bottom is bounded, half by an old wall, and half by an old paling, over which we see a pretty distance of woody hills. The house, granary, wall, and paling, are covered with vines, cherry-trees, roses, honey-suckles, and jessamines, with great clusters of tall hollyhocks running up between them; a large elder overhanging the little gate, and a magnificent bay-tree, such a tree as shall scarcely be matched in these parts, breaking with its beautiful conical form the horizontal lines of the buildings. This is my garden; and the long pillared shed, the sort of rustic arcade which runs along one side, parted from the flower-beds by a row of rich geraniums, is our out-of-door drawing-room.
I know nothing so pleasant as to sit there on a summer afternoon, with the western sun flickering through the great elder-tree, and lighting up our gay parterres, where flowers and flowering shrubs are set as thick as grass in a field, a wilderness of blossom, interwoven, intertwined, wreathy, garlandy, profuse beyond all profusion, where we may guess that there is such a thing as mould, but never see it. I know nothing so pleasant as to sit in the shade of that dark bower, with the eye resting on that bright piece of colour, lighted so gloriously by the evening sun, now catching a glimpse of the little birds as they fly rapidly in and out of their nests—for there are always two or three birds’ nests in the thick tapestry of cherry-trees, honey-suckles, and China roses, which cover our walls—now tracing the gay gambols of the common butterflies as they sport around the dahlias; now watching that rarer moth, which the country people, fertile in pretty names, call the bee-bird;1 that bird-like insect, which flutters in the hottest days over the sweetest flowers, inserting its long proboscis into the small tube of the jessamine, and hovering over the scarlet blossoms of the geranium, whose bright colour seems reflected on its own feathery breast; that insect which seems so thoroughly a creature of the air, never at rest; always, even when feeding, self-poised, and self-supported, and whose wings in their ceaseless motion, have a sound so deep, so full, so lulling, so musical. Nothing so pleasant as to sit amid that mixture of the flower and the leaf, watching the bee-bird! Nothing so pretty to look at as my garden! It is quite a picture; only unluckily it resembles a picture in more qualities than one,—it is fit for nothing but to look at. One might as well think of walking in a bit of framed canvass. There are walks to be sure—tiny paths of smooth gravel, by courtesy called such—but—they are so overhung by roses and lilies, and such gay encroachers—so over-run by convolvolus, and heart’s-ease, and mignonette, and other sweet stragglers, that, except to edge through them occasionally, for the purpose of planting, or weeding, or watering, there might as well be no paths at all. Nobody thinks of walking in my garden. Even May glides along with a delicate and trackless step, like a swan through the wafer; and we, its two-footed denizens, are fain to treat it as if it were really a saloon, and go out for a walk towards sun-set, just as if we had not been sitting in the open air all day.
What a contrast from the quiet garden to the lively street! Saturday night is always a time of stir and bustle in our village, and this is Whitsun Eve, the pleasantest Saturday of all the year, when London journeymen and servant lads and lasses snatch a short holiday to visit their families. A short and precious holiday, the happiest and liveliest of any; for even the gambols and merrymakings of Christmas offer but a poor enjoyment, compared with the rural diversions, the Mayings, revels, and cricket-matches of Whitsuntide.
We ourselves are to have a cricket-match on Monday, not played by the men, who, since their misadventure with the Beech-hillers, are, I am sorry to say, rather chap-fallen, but by the boys, who, zealous for the honours of their parish, and headed by their bold leader, Ben Kirby, marched in a body to our antagonist’s ground the Sunday after our melancholy defeat, challenged the boys of that proud hamlet, and beat them out and out on the spot. Never was a more signal victory. Our boys enjoyed this triumph with so little moderation, that it had like to have produced a very tragical catastrophe. The captain of the Beech-hill youngsters, a capital bowler, by name Amos Stokes, enraged past all bearing by the crowing of his adversaries, flung the ball at Ben Kirby with so true an aim, that if that sagacious leader had not warily ducked his head when he saw it coming, there would probably have been a coroner’s inquest on the case, and Amos Stokes would have been tried for manslaughter. He let fly with such vengeance, that the cricket-ball was found embedded in a bank of clay five hundred yards off, as if it had been a cannon shot. Tom Coper and Farmer Thackum, the umpires, both say that they never saw so tremendous a ball. If Amos Stokes live to be a man (I mean to say if he be not hanged first), he’ll be a pretty player. He is coming here on Monday with his party to play the return match, the umpires having respectively engaged Farmer Thackum that Amos shall keep the peace, Tom Coper that Ben shall give no unnecessary or wanton provocation—a nicely-worded and lawyer-like clause, and one that proves that Tom Coper hath his doubts of the young gentleman’s discretion; and, of a truth, so have I. I would not be Ben Kirby’s surety, cautiously as the security is worded,—no! not for a white double dahlia, the present object of my ambition.
This village of our’s is swarming to-night like a hive of bees, and all the church bells round are pouring out their merriest peals, as if to call them together. I must try to give some notion of the various figures.