The Children of the Abbey
Confess’d from yonder slow extinguish’d clouds
All ether softening, sober Evening takes
Her wonted station in the middle air;
A thousand shadows at her back.
Castle Carberry, to which our travellers were going, was a large Gothic pile, erected in the rude and distant period when strength, more than elegance, was deemed necessary in a building; the depredations 147 of war, as well as time, were discernible on its exterior; some of its lofty battlements were broken, and others mouldering to decay, while about its ancient towers,
rank grass waved its head,
And the moss whistled to the wind!”
It stood upon a rocky eminence overhanging the sea, and commanding a delightful prospect of the opposite coast of Scotland; about it were yet to be traced irregular fortifications, a moat, and the remains of a draw-bridge, with a well, long since dry, which had been dug in the rock, to supply the inhabitants, in times of siege, with water; on one side rose a stupendous hill, covered to the very summit with trees, and scattered over with relics of druidical antiquity; before it stretched an extensive and gently swelling lawn, sheltered on each side with groves of intermingled shade, and refreshed by a clear and meandering rivulet, that took its rise from the adjoining hills, and murmured over a bed of pebbles.
After a pleasant journey, on the evening of the fourth day, our travellers arrived at their destined habitation. An old man and woman who had the care of it were apprised of their coming, and on the first approach of the carriage opened the massy door, and waited to receive them; they reached it when the sober grey of twilight had clad every object. Amanda viewed the dark and stupendous edifice, whose gloom was now heightened by the shadows of evening, with venerable awe; the solitude, the silence which reigned around, the melancholy murmur of the waves, as they dashed against the feet of the rocks, all heightened the sadness of her mind; yet it was not quite an unpleasing sadness, for with it was now mingled a degree of that enthusiasm which plaintive and romantic spirits are so peculiarly subject to feel in viewing the venerable grandeur of an ancient fabric renowned in history. As she entered a spacious hall, curiously wainscotted with oak, ornamented with coats of arms, spears, lances, and old armour, she could not avoid casting a retrospective eye to former times, when, perhaps in this very hall, bards sung the exploits of those heroes, whose useless arms now hung upon the walls; she wished, in the romance of the moment, some grey bard near her, to tell the deeds of other times, of kings renowned in our land, of chiefs we behold no more. In the niches in the hall were figures of chieftains, 148 large as life, and rudely carved in oak; their frowning countenances struck a sudden panic upon the heart of Ellen.—“Cot pless their souls,” she said, “what the tefil did they do there, except to frighten the people from going into the house?”
They were shown into a large parlour, furnished in an old-fashioned manner, and found a comfortable supper prepared for them; oppressed with fatigue, soon after they had partaken of it, they retired to rest. The next morning, immediately after breakfast, Amanda, attended by the old woman and Ellen, ranged over the castle. Its interior was quite as Gothic as its exterior; the stairs were winding, the galleries intricate, the apartments numerous, and mostly hung with old tapestry, representing Irish battles, in which the chiefs of Castle Carberry were particularly distinguished. Their portraits with those of their ladies, occupied a long gallery, whose arched windows cast a dim, religious light upon them; this was terminated by a small apartment in the centre of one of the towers that flanked the building; the room was an octagon, and thus commanding a sea and land prospect, uniting at once the sublime and beautiful in it. The furniture was not only modern, but elegant, and excited the particular attention and inquiries of Amanda. The old woman informed her this had been the dressing room of the late countess of Cherbury, both before and after her marriage; “one of the sweetest, kindest ladies,” continued she, “I ever knew: the castle has been quite deserted since she died. Alack a day! I thought my poor heart would have broke when I heard of her death. Ah! I remember the night I heard the banshee crying so pitifully.” “And pray what is that?” interrupted Amanda. “Why, a little woman, no higher than a yard, who wears a blue petticoat, a red cloak, and a handkerchief round her head; and when the head of any family, especially a great family, is to die, she is always heard by some of the old followers, bemoaning herself.” “Lort save us!” cried Ellen, “I hope his lortship the earl, won’t take it into his head to die while we are here, for I’d as lief see one of the fairies of , as such a little old witch.” “Well, proceed,” said Amanda. “So, as I was saying, I heard her crying dismally one night in a corner of the house. So, says I to my husband, Johnaten, says I, I am sure we shall hear something about my good lord or lady, and sure enough we did the next day, and ever since we have 149 seen none of the family.” “Did you ever see the young lord?” asked Amanda, with involuntary precipitation. “See him! ay that I did, when he was about eight years old. There is his picture (pointing to one which hung over the chimney); my lady had it done by a fine English painter, and brought it over with her; it is the moral of what he then was.” The eager eyes of Amanda were instantly turned to it, and she traced or imagined she did so, a resemblance still between it and him; the painter seemed as if he had the description of Pity in his mind, when he drew the picture, for Lord Mortimer was as she is represented in the beautiful allegory, sheltering a trembling dove in his bosom from a ferocious hawk. Oh! Mortimer, thought Amanda, thy feeling nature is here ably delineated; the distressed, or the helpless, to the utmost of your power, you would save from the gripe of cruelty and oppression. Her father had desired her to choose pleasant apartments for her own immediate use, and she accordingly fixed on this and the room adjoining it, which had been Lady Cherbury’s chamber; her things were brought hither, and her books, works, and implements for drawing deposited in rich inlaid cabinets. Pleased with the arrangement she had made, she brought her father as soon as he was at leisure to view them; he was happy to find her spirits somewhat cheerful and composed, and declared that in future he would call this Amanda’s Tower. Accompanied by him she ascended to the battlements of the castle, and was delighted with the extensive and variegated prospect she beheld from them: a spacious edifice at some distance, embowered in a grove of venerable oaks, attracted her admiration; her father told her that was Ulster Lodge, a seat belonging to the marquis of Rosline, who was an Irish as well as a Scots peer, and had very extensive possessions in Ireland; Fitzalan added, he had been inquiring of the old man about the neighbourhood, and learned from him that at the expiration of every three or four years, the marquis usually came over to Ulster Lodge, but had never been accompanied by the marchioness, or Lady Euphrasia Sutherland, who was his only child.
The domestic economy of Castle Carberry was soon settled: a young man and woman were hired, as Johnaten and his wife Kate were considered little more than supernumeraries; Ellen was appointed to attend Amanda, and do whatever plain work was 150 required. Fitzalan felt a pleasing serenity diffused over his mind from the idea of being in some degree independent, and in the way of making some provision for his children.—The first shock of a separation from Lord Mortimer being over, the cheerfulness of Amanda gradually returned, the visions of hope again revived in her mind, and she indulged a secret pleasure at living in the house he had once occupied; she considered her father as particularly connected with his family, and doubted not, from this circumstance, she should sometimes hear of him; she judged of his constancy by her own, and believed he would not readily forget her; she acknowledged her father’s motives for separating them were equally just and delicate, but firmly believed if Lord Mortimer (as she flattered herself he would) confessed a partiality in her favour to his father, that influenced by tenderness for his son, friendship for her father, and the knowledge of her descent, he would immediately give up every idea of another connexion, and sanction theirs with his approbation; no obstacle appeared to such an union but want of fortune, and that want she could never suppose would be considered as one, by the liberal-minded Lord Cherbury, who had himself an income sufficient to gratify even luxurious wishes. Her time was agreeably diversified by the sources of amusement she drew from herself; her father, whose supreme felicity consisted in contributing to her pleasure, purchased a delightful harp for her in Dublin, which arrived a few days after them at Castle Carberry, and with its dulcet lays she often charmed not only his spirit but her own, from every mortal care; she loved to rise early and catch the first beams of the sun, as she wandered over the dewy lawn, where the lowing cattle cropped the flowery herbage, and the milk-maid sung her plaintive ditty.
With her father she took long walks about the adjacent country: he had visited every scene before and now pointed out whatever was worthy her attention: the spots where the heroes of former ages had fallen, where the mighty stones of their fame were raised, that the children of the north might hereafter know the places where their fathers fought: that the hunter, as he leaned upon a mossy tomb, might say, here fought the heroes of other years, and their fame shall last forever.
Amanda, too, often rambled by herself, particularly among the rocks, where were several natural grottos, strewed with shells and 151 sea weeds; here, on a mild day, she loved to read and listen to the low murmurs of the tide; the opposite Scottish hills among which her mother first drew breath, often attracted and fixed her attention, frequently drawing tears from her eyes, by awakening in her mind the recollections of that mother’s
On a morning, when she sat at work in her apartment, Ellen, who was considered more as a friend than a servant, sometimes sat with her; the conversation not unfrequently turned on nurse Edwin’s cottage, from which Ellen, with an arch simplicity, would advert to Tudor Hall, thence naturally to Lord Mortimer, and conclude with poor Chip, exclaiming what a pity true love should ever be crossed.
“The rank grass waved its head,
open quote misprinted in second line
“The rank grass waved its head,
I’d as lief see one of the fairies of Penmaenmawr,
text has Penmaenmowr,
Lord Mortimer was portrayed as she is represented in the beautiful allegory
text has pourtrayed [“she” is Pity]
the recollections of that mother’s sufferings.
text has sufferings,
The night was waning fast, and Adela rose to depart as her friend concluded her story
The solitude of Castle Carberry was interrupted, in less than a fortnight, by visits and invitations from the neighbouring families.