"Time has spared the epitaph on Adrian's horse,—confounded that of himself."
SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
JOHN ROBY, M.R.S.L.
ILLUSTRATED BY ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL AND WOOD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS. MANCHESTER: L. C. GENT. 1872.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY EDINBURGH AND LONDON
Transcriber's note: Minors spelling inconsistencies - mainly hyphenated words - have been harmonised.
Obvious printer errors have been corrected, but the original regional spelling of "properpty" (in "Clegg Hall") has been retained.
Letters after the sign ^ should be read as superscript. Example Edw^d, where the "d" is superscript.
Some chapters start with illustrations. In the original book those illustrations are not named. Here they are named after their chapters.
The Latin numbers (i, ii, etc.) behind some words or expressions refer to the transcriber's notes at the end of this e-book.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
PAGE THE FAIRIES' CHAPEL, 1
THE LUCK OF MUNCASTER, 24
THE PEEL OF FOULDREY, 35
A LEGEND OF BEWSEY, 69
THE BLESSING, 78
THE DULE UPO' DUN, 82
WINDLESHAW ABBEY, 96
CLEGG HALL, 137
THE MERMAID OF MARTIN MEER, 172
GEORGE FOX, 189
THE DEMON OF THE WELL, 206
THE SANDS, 225
THE RING AND THE CLIFF, 236
THE DEAD MAN'S HAND, 247
THE LOST FARM, 262
THE MAID'S STRATAGEM, 294
THE SKULL-HOUSE, 311
RIVINGTON PIKE, 322
MOTHER RED-CAP, 345
THE DEATH-PAINTER, 389
THE CRYSTAL GOBLET, 416
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE PEEL OF FOULDREY To face page 35
BEWSEY, NEAR WARRINGTON 69
WINDLESHAW ABBEY 96
CLEGG HALL, NEAR ROCHDALE 137
PEG O'NELLY'S WELL, NEAR CLITHEROE 206
ULVERSTONE SANDS 225
THE LOST FARM, NEAR SOUTHPORT 262
RIVINGTON PIKE 322
"THE THRUTCH," NEAR ROCHDALE 349
THE FAIRIES' CHAPEL.
"Farewell, rewards and fairies! Good housewives now may say; For now foule sluts in dairies, Doe fare as well as they: And though they sweepe their hearths no less Than mayds were wont to doe, Yet who of late, for cleaneliness, Finds sixe-pence in her shoe?"
The ancient mansion of Healey Hall was a cumbrous inconvenient dwelling of timber; but the spirit of improvement having gone forth in the reign of Elizabeth, an ordinary hall-house of stone was erected, about the year 1620, by Oliver Chadwick. On the south front was a projecting wing and three gables, with a large hall-window. The north front had two gables only, with a projecting barn. The north entrance, covered by a porch, was a thorough passage, answering to the screens of a college, having on one side the hall and parlour beyond; on the other were the kitchen, buttery, &c. On the river below was a corn-mill; this and a huge barn being necessary appendages to the hospitable mansions and plentiful boards of our forefathers. Over the front door was this inscription—
C. C. DOC. T: R. C: I. C. A. C: R. B. ANO. DOM'I. 1168.
About the year 1756 the east wall gave way, and a considerable fishure appeared on the outside. This event was considered by many as the usual foretokening that its owner, Charles Chadwick, of Healey and Ridware, would speedily be removed by death from the seat of his ancestors; and so it proved, for in the course of a few months he died at Lichfield, aged eighty-two. His great age, though, will be thought the more probable token, the surer presage of approaching dissolution.
On a stone near the top of the building, on the north side, a human head was rudely carved in relief, which tradition affirms to have been a memorial of one of the workmen, accidentally killed while the house was building.
In 1773, the existing edifice was built, on the ancient site, by John Chadwick, grandfather to the present owner.
In Corry's Lancashire is the following document, furnished by the recent possessor, Charles Chadwick, Esq. It relates to the foregoing John Chadwick, his father—
"In 1745, at the rebellion, when the Pretender's son and his Highlanders reached Manchester, having obtained a list of the loyal subscribers, they began (of course) to enforce the payment of the money for their own use. An officer of the belted plaid, of the second division, came to the house of Mr C., in King Street, whilst the master of it was with his father at Ridware, and, on being told that he was from home, and his lady ill in bed, he went up-stairs, and opening the chamber-door, where she was then lying-in, beckoned her sister to come to him on the stairs, where he told her (in a mild but decided tone) that the money before mentioned must be paid quickly for the use of 'the prince (who lodged at the house in Market Street, now called the Palace Inn), or the house would be burnt down.' In this dilemma, the man-midwife calling first, and afterwards the physician, were both consulted by the ladies; when the former (a Tory) advised to send the money after them, whilst the latter (a Whig) thought it better to keep it till called for; consequently, never being called for in their hasty retreat, the money was not paid. It may be proper to add, Captain Lachlan MacLachlan, of the first division (afterwards one of the proscribed), being quartered in the same house, behaved with the greatest civility and politeness. On a party of horse coming to the door for quarters, he called for a lanthorn, and, though he had a cold (for which white wine whey was offered him, which he called 'varra good stuff'), walked as far as Salford, and there quartered them; two of his Highlanders, in the meantime, were dancing reels in the kitchen, and in the morning gave each of the maids sixpence at parting."
The name Healey Dene denotes a valley or dale, convallis, enclosed on both sides with steep hills; dene being a Saxon word, signifying a narrow valley, with woods and streams of water convenient for the feeding of cattle. Here the river Spodden, which now keeps many fulling-mills and engines at work, formerly turned one solitary corn-mill only. It was built in the narrow dingle below the hall, for the supply of the hamlet. The feudal owners of most mansions usually erected corn-mills (where practicable) within their own demesnes. After the family had removed to the more mild and temperate climate of Mavesyn-Ridware, in Staffordshire, about the year 1636, Healey Mill was converted into a fulling-mill, so that one of the principal features in our story no longer exists.
About two miles north from Rochdale lies the hamlet of Healey, a high tract of land, as its Saxon derivation seems to imply, heaʓe, high, and leaʓ a pasture, signifying the "high pasture."
Our Saxon ancestors chiefly occupied their lands for grazing purposes; hence the many terminations in ley, or leaʓ. Pasturage is still called a "ley" for cattle in these parts.
In this remote hamlet dwelt a family, probably of Saxon origin, whose name, De Heley, from their place of residence, had, in all likelihood, been assumed soon after the Norman conquest. Their descendants, of the same name, continued to reside here until the reign of Edward III., holding their lands as abbey lands, under the abbot of Stanlaw, soon after the year 1172, in the reign of Henry II., and subsequently under the abbot of Whalley, from the year 1296. In 1483, John Chadwyke, or (Ceddevyc, from the common appellation Cedde, and vyc, a mansion or vill, signifying Cedde's fort, peel, or fortified mansion) married Alice, eldest daughter and co-heir of Adam Okeden of Heley; and in her right settled at the mansion of Heley (or Healey) Hall, then a huge unsightly structure of wood and plaster, built according to the fashion of those days. An ancestor of Adam Okeden having married "Hawise, heir of Thomas de Heley," in the reign of Edward III., became possessed of this inheritance.
The origin of surnames would be an interesting inquiry. In the present instance it seems clear that the name and hamlet of Chadwick are derived from Cedde's vyc, or Chad's vyc. This mansion, situated on the southern extremity of Spotland, or Spoddenland, bounded on the east by that stream, and southward by the Roche, was built on a bold eminence above the river, where Cedde and his descendants dwelt, like the Jewish patriarchs, occupied in the breeding of sheep and other cattle.
"But though this hamlet had been named Ceddevic, from its subordinate Saxon chief, he himself could not have adopted it for his own surname; because surnames were then scarcely, if at all, known here. He must have continued, therefore, to use his simple Saxon name of Cedde only, and his successors likewise, with the addition of Saxon patronymics even down to the Norman conquest, when the Norman fashion of local names or surnames was first introduced into England."
But though the Norman addition of surnames "became general amongst the barons, knights, and gentry, soon after the Conquest, yet Saxon patronymics long continued in use amongst the common people, and are still not unusual here. Thus, instead of John Ashworth and Robert Butterworth, we hear of Robin o' Ben's and John o'Johnny's,"—meaning Robert the son of Benjamin, and John the son of John, "similar to the Norman Fitz, the Welsh Ap', the Scotch Mac, and the Irish O'; and this ancient mode of describing an individual sometimes includes several generations, as Thomas O'Dick's, O'Ned's, O'Sam's," &c.
But besides patronymics, nicknames (the Norman soubriquets) have been used in all ages and by all nations, and are still common here; some of them coarse and ludicrous enough: the real surname being seldom noticed, but the nickname sometimes introduced, with an alias, even in a law instrument. And why are not Poden, Muz, Listing, &c., as good as "the Bald," "the Fat," "the Simple," &c., of the French kings; or "the Unready," "the Bastard," "Lackland," "Longshanks," &c., of our own? A lad named Edmund, some generations back, attended his master's sons to Rochdale school, who latinised his name into "Edmundus;" then it was contracted into "Mundus," by which name his descendants are best known to this day: some probably knowing "Tom Mundus" well who are ignorant of his real surname. Within late years individuals have been puzzled on hearing themselves inquired after by their own surname. At Whitworth you might have asked in vain for the house of "Susannah Taylor," though any child would have taken you straight to the door of "Susy O'Yem's, O' Fair-off's at top o' th' rake."
Another derivation of the surname De Heley, not at all improbable, has been suggested—viz., that Hely Dene may have been an early corruption of Holy Dene, having formerly belonged to the Church, and possibly, in remote ages, dedicated to the religious rites of the Druids. A clear rock-spring, in a gloomy dell below the Hall, is still called "the Spaw," and often frequented by youths and maidens on May mornings. Hence some have imagined that this Dene and its Spaw may have given to the river running through it the name of Spodden, or Spaw-Dene. Another spring, higher up, is called Robin Hood's Well, from that celebrated outlaw, who seems to have been the favourite champion of these parts, and who, according to some authorities, lies buried at Kirklaw, in the West Riding of York.
Such holy wells were, in more superstitious if not happier ages, the supposed haunts of elves, fairies, and other such beings, not unaptly denominated the rabble of mythology.
A warm sequestered dingle here conducts the Spodden through a scene of wild, woodland, and picturesque beauty. Drayton, in his Polyolbion, has thus immortalised it:—
"First Roche, a dainty rill, which Spodden from her springs, A petty rivulet, as her attendant, brings."
From the mansion of Healey, built on an elevated slope above the dell, opens out an extensive prospect. Limepark in Cheshire, Cloud End in Staffordshire, with the Derbyshire hills, may be distinctly seen. Over the smoke of Manchester, the banks of the Mersey are visible; and upon the horizon rises up the barn-like ridge of Hellsby Tor, in the forest of Delamere. Towards the west may be seen, far out, like a vast barrier, the Welsh mountains, Moel Famma (mother of mountains), with the vale of Clwyd, like a narrow cleft in the blue hills, which extend until the chain of Penmaenmawr and the Isle of Anglesey abruptly terminate in the sea. Few situations, without the toil of a laborious ascent, show so commanding a prospect; while under the very eye of the spectator, nature assumes an aspect of more than ordinary beauty.
One wild scene, the subject of our legend, the pencil, not the pen, must describe. It would be impossible, in any other manner, to convey an adequate idea of its extreme loveliness and grandeur. It is here known by its Saxon appellation, "the Thrutch," or Thrust, signifying a narrow, but deep and rugged channel in the rocks. Through this cleft the Spodden bursts with great force, forming several picturesque falls, which, though of mean height, yet, combined with the surrounding scenery, few behold without an expression of both wonder and delight.
The ancient corn-mill was here situated, just below the mansion. From the "Grist Yate," by the main road to Rochdale, a winding horse-way, paved with stones set on edge, led down the steep bank and pointed to the sequestered spot where for ages the clack of the hopper and the plash of the mill-wheel had usurped a noisy and undisputed possession.
In the reign of our fourth Edward—we know not the precise year—an occurrence, forming the basis of the following legend, is supposed to have taken place,—when fraud and feud were unredressed; when bigotry and superstition had their "perfect work;" when barbaric cruelty, and high and heroic deeds, had their origin in one corrupt and common source, the passions of man being let loose, in wild uproar, throughout the land; when the wars of the Roses had almost desolated the realm, and England's best blood flowed like a torrent. Such was the aspect of the time to which the following events relate.
It was in the beginning of the year, at the close of an unusually severe winter. The miller's craft was nigh useless, the current of the rivulet was almost still. Everything seemed so hard and frost-bound, that nature looked as though her fetters were rivetted for ever. But the dark and sterile aspect she displayed was bedizened with such beauteous frost-work, that light and glory rested upon all, and winter itself lost half its terrors.
Ralph Miller often looked out from his dusty, dreary tabernacle, watching the icicles that accumulated on his wheel, and the scanty current beneath, the hard surface of the brook scarcely dribbling out a sufficient supply for his daily wants.
Every succeeding morn saw the liquid element becoming less, and the unhappy miller bethought him that he would shut up the mill altogether, until the reign of the frozen king should expire.
A seven-weeks' frost was rapidly trenching on the fair proportions of an eighth of these hebdomadal inconveniences, and still continued the same hard, ringing sound and appearance, as if the sky itself o' nights had been frozen too—fixed and impervious—and the darkness had become already palpable. Yet the moon looked out so calm, so pure and beautiful, and the stars so spark-like and piercing, that it was a holy and a heavenly rapture to gaze upon their glorious forms, and to behold them, fresh and undimmed, as when first launched from the hands of their Creator.
Want of occupation breeds mischief, idleness being a thriftless carle that leaves the house empty, and the door open to the next comer—an opportunity of which the enemy is sure to avail himself. The miller felt the hours hang heavily, and he became listless and ill-humoured.
"'Tis an ill-natured and cankered disposition this," said he one night, when sitting by the ingle with his drowsy helpmate, watching the sputtering billets devoured, one after another, by the ravening flame: "'Tis an ill-natured disposition that is abroad, I say, that will neither let a man go about his own business, nor grant him a few honest junkets these moonlight nights. I might have throttled a hare or so, or a brace of rabbits; or what dost think, dame, of a couple of moor-cocks or a cushat for a pie?"
"Thy liquorish tooth will lead thee into some snare, goodman, ere it ha' done watering. What did Master Chadwyck say, who is to wed Mistress Alice, our master's daughter, if nought forefend? What did he promise thee but a week agone, should he catch thee at thy old trade again?"
"A murrain light on the snivelling bully! Let him stay at his own homestead, and not take mastership here, to trouble us with his humours ere the portion be his. His younger brother Oliver is worth a whole pack of such down-looked, smooth-faced hypocrites. Oliver Chadwyck is the boy for a snug quarrel. His fingers itch for a drubbing, and he scents a feud as a crow scents out carrion. The other—mercy on me!—is fit for nought but to be bed-ridden and priest-ridden like his father and his mother to boot."
"Hush, Ralph," said the cautious dame; "let thine hard speeches fall more gently on thy master's son, that is to be. His own parents too—methinks the son of Jordan and Eleanor Chadwyck should earn a kinder word and a lighter judgment from thy tongue."
"Whew! my courteous dame. How now! and so because they are become part of the movables of Holy Church, I trow, they must be handled softly, forsooth! Tut, tut, beldame, they are—let me see, so it runs; the old clerk of St Chad's rang the nomine in my ears long enough, and I am not like to forget it. They be 'Trinitarians,' said he, 'of the house of St Robert near Knaresborough, admitted by Brother Robert, the minister of the Holy Trinity, for the redemption of captives imprisoned by the pagans, for the faith of Jesus Christ.' Gramercy, what a bead-roll of hard words! They say we are like to have a 'Holy War' again, when we have settled our own reckonings; and the blood and groats of old England are again to be spent for the purchase of 'Holy Land.' O' my halidome, wench, but I would let all the priests and friars fight for it. Cunning rogues! they set us together by the ears, and then run away with the pudding."
No doubt this profane speech rendered him easier of access to the tempter, and the powers of evil; who, ever watchful for the slips of silly mortals, report such unholy words at head-quarters, where Satan and his crew are assembled in full council.
The dame groaned deeply at this reply from her graceless husband.
"Some time or another," said she, "thou wilt rue these wicked speeches; and who knows whether these very words of thine may not have been heard i' the Fairies' Chapel, or whispered away beyond the forest to the witches' tryst!"
"I care not for all the imps and warlocks i' th' parish, hags and old women to boot. Let them come face to face. Here am I, honest Ralph the miller, who never took toll from an empty sack, nor e'er missed the mouth of a full one. Tol-de-rol."
Here he stood, with arms akimbo, as if daring the whole fellowship of Satan, with their abettors and allies. This speech, too, was doubtless reported at the Fairies' Chapel hard by; for the dame vowed ever after that she heard, as it were, an echo, or a low sooning sound, ending with an eldritch laugh, amongst the rocks in that direction. This well-known haunt of the elves and fays, ere they had fled before the march of science and civilisation, was but a good bowshot from the mill, and would have terrified many a stouter heart, had not familiarity lulled their apprehensions, and habit blunted the edge of their fears. Strangers often wondered that any human being dared to sojourn so near the haunts of the "good people," and were sure that, sooner or later, the inhabitants would rue so dangerous a proximity.
A few evenings after this foolhardy challenge Ralph had been scrambling away, far up the dingle, for a supply of firewood. The same keen tinkling air was abroad, but the sky, where the sun had thrown his long coronal of rays, was streaked across with a mottled and hazy light, probably the forerunner of a change. Ralph was labouring down the steep with his load, crashing through the boughs, and shaking off their hoary burdens in his progress. Suddenly he heard the shrill and well-known shriek of a hare struggling in the toils. At this joyful and refreshing sound the miller's appetite was wonderfully stimulated; his darling propensities were immediately called forth; he threw down his burden, and, rushing through the brake, he saw, or thought he saw, in the soft twilight, an unfortunate puss in the noose. He threw himself hastily forward expecting to grasp the prize, when lo! up started the timid animal, and limping away, as if hurt, kept the liquorish poacher at her heels, every minute supposing he was sure of his prey. Rueful was the pilgrimage of the unfortunate hunter. The hare doubled, and sprang aside whenever he came within striking distance, then hirpling onward as before. Ralph made a full pause where a wide gap displayed the scanty waterfall, just glimmering through the mist below him. The moon, then riding out brightly in the opposite direction, sparkled on the restless current, tipped with foam. It was the nearest cut to the "Fairies' Chapel," which lies behind, and higher towards the source of the waterfall. The unlucky hare paused too for a moment, as though afraid to leap; but she looked back at her pursuer so bewitchingly that his heart was in his mouth, and, fearless of consequences, he rushed towards her; but he slipped, and fell down the crumbling bank. When sufficiently recovered from the shock, he saw the animal stealing off, between the edge of the stream and the low copsewood by the brink, towards the Fairies' Chapel. He made one desperate effort to lay hold of her before she set foot upon enchanted ground.
He seized her, luckily as he thought, by the scut; when lo! up started something black and "uncanny," with glaring eyes, making mouths, and grinning at him, as though in mockery. He felt stupefied and bewildered. Fascinated by terror, he could not refrain from following this horrible appearance, which, as if delighted to have ensnared him, frisked away with uncouth and fiendish gambols, to the very centre of the Fairies' Chapel.
Ralph, puissant and valorous upon his own hearthstone, felt his courage fast oozing out at elbows when he saw the cold moonlight streaming through the branches above him, and their crawling shadows on the grotesque rocks at his side.
He was now alone, shivering from cold and fright. He felt as though undergoing the unpleasant process of being frozen to the spot, consciously metamorphosing into stone, peradventure a sort of ornamental fixture for the fairies' apartment. His great hoofs were already immovable; he felt his hair congealing; his locks hung like icicles; and his whole body seemed like one solid lump of ice, through which the blood crept with a gradually decreasing current. Suddenly he heard a loud yelping, as though the hounds were in full cry. The sound passed right through the midst of the Fairies' Hall, and almost close to his ear; but there was no visible sign of their presence, except a slight movement, and then a shiver amongst the frost-bitten boughs above the rocks. He had not power to bethink him of his Paternosters and Ave Marias, which, doubtless, would have dissolved the impious charm. Ralph had so neglected these ordinances that his tongue refused to repeat the usual nostrums for protection against evil spirits. His creed was nigh forgotten, and his "salve" was not heard. Whilst he was pondering on this occurrence, there started through a crevice a single light, like a glow-worm's lantern. Then a tiny thing came forth, clad in white, like a miniature of the human form, and, peeping about cautiously, ran back on beholding the unfortunate miller bolt upright in the narrow glen.
Ralph now saw plainly that he had been enticed hither by some evil being for no good. It might be for the malicious purpose of drawing down upon him the puny but fearful vengeance of those irritable creatures the fairies; and soon he saw a whole troop of them issuing out of the crevice. As they came nearer he heard the short sharp tread of this tiny host. One of them mounted the little pillar called the "Fairies' Chair," round which multitudes gathered, as if waiting for the fiat of their king. It was evident that their purpose was to inflict a signal chastisement on him for his intrusion.
Ralph watched their movements with a deplorable look. Horrible indeed were his anticipations. The elf on the pillar, a little wrinkled being with a long nose, bottle-green eyes, and shrivelled yellowish-green face, in a shrill squeaking tone, addressed him courteously, though with an ill-suppressed sneer, inquiring his business in these regions. But Ralph was too terrified to reply.
"How lucky!" said the old fairy: "we have a mortal here, just in the nick of time. He will do our bidding rarely, for 'tis the stout miller hard by, who fears neither fiend nor fairy, man nor witch, by his own confession. We'll put his courage to the proof."
Ralph was now thawing through terror.
"We would have punished this thine impertinent curiosity, had we not other business for thee, friend," said the malicious little devilkin. "Place thy fingers on thy thigh, and swear by Hecate, Merlin, and the Fairies' Hall, that within three days thou wilt fulfil our behest."
Ralph assented, with a hideous grimace, glad upon any terms to escape.
The whole company disappeared, but a faint, sulphur-like flame hovered for a while over the spot they had left.
Soon he heard the following words, in a voice of ravishing sweetness:—
"Mortal I must cease to be, If no maiden, honestly, Plight her virgin troth to me, By yon cold moon's silver shower, In the chill and mystic hour, When the arrowy moonbeams fall In the fairies' festive hall. Twice her light shall o'er me pass, Then I am what once I was, Should no maid, betrothed, but free, Plight her virgin vow to me."
The music ceased for a short space; then a voice, like the soft whisper of the summer winds, chanted the following lines in a sort of monotonous recitation:—
"Mortal, take this unstained token, Unpledged vows were never broken; Lay it where a Byron's hand This message finds from fairy-land,— Fair Eleanor, the love-sick maid, Who sighs unto her own soft shade:— Bid her on this tablet write What lover's wish would e'er indite; Then give it to the faithful stream (As bright and pure as love's first dream) That murmurs by,—'twill bring to me The messenger I give to thee.
"But the maiden thou must bring Hither, to our elfin king, Ere three days are come and gone, When the moon hath kissed the stone By our fairy monarch's throne. Shouldst thou fail, or she refuse, Death is thine; or thou may'st choose With us to chase the moonbeams bright, Around the busy world. Good night!"
He now felt something slipped into his hand.
"Remember," said the voice, "when that shadow is on the pillar, thou must return."
Immediately his bodily organs resumed their office, and the astonished miller was not long in regaining his own threshold.
But he was a moody and an altered man. The dame could not help shuddering as she saw his ashen visage, and his eyes fixed and almost starting from their sockets. His cheeks were sunken, his head was bare, and his locks covered with rime, and with fragments from the boughs that intercepted his path.
"Mercy on me!" cried she, lifting up her hands, "what terrible thing has happened? O Ralph, Ralph, thy silly gostering speeches, I do fear me, have had a sting in their tail thou hast little dreamed of!"
Here she crossed herself with much fervour and solemnity. She then turned to gaze on the doomed wretch, who, groaning heavily, seated himself on the old settle without speaking.
"He has seen the fairies or the black dog!" said the dame in great terror. "I will not upbraid thee with thy foolish speeches, yet would I thou hadst not spoken so lightly of the good people. But take courage, goodman; thou art never the worse yet for thy mishap, I trow; so tell me what has befallen thee, and ha' done snoring there, like an owl in a barn riggin'."
A long time elapsed ere the affrighted miller could reveal the nature and extent of his misfortunes. But woman's wits are more fertile in expedients, and therefore more adroit for plots and counterplots than our own. The dame was greatly terrified at the recital, yet not so as to prevent her from being able to counsel her husband as to the plan he should pursue.
We now leave our honest miller for a space, while we introduce another personage of great importance to the further development of our story.
Oliver Chadwyck was the second son of Jordan Chadwyck before-named, then residing at their fort or peel of the same name, nearly two miles from Healey. Oliver had, from his youth, been betrothed to Eleanor Byron, a young and noble dame of great beauty, residing with her uncle, Sir Nicholas Byron, at his mansion, two or three miles distant. Oliver was a hot-brained, amorous youth, fitted for all weathers, ready either for brotherhood or blows, and would have won his "ladye love" at the lance's point or by onslaught and hard knocks.
Eleanor seemed to suffer his addresses for lack of other occupation. She looked upon him as her future husband; but she would rather have been wooed to be won. The agonies of doubt and suspense, the pangs of jealousy and apprehension, would have been bliss compared to the dull monotony of the "betrothed." The lazy current would have sparkled if a few pebbles had been cast into the stream. Her sensitive spirit, likewise, shrank from contact with this fiery and impetuous youth; her heart yearned for some deep and hallowed affection. Strongly imbued with the witcheries of romance, she would rather have been sought by blandishments than blows, which, from his known prowess in the latter accomplishment, the youthful aspirant had no necessity to detail in the ears of his mistress. She liked not the coarse blunt manner of her gallant, nor the hard gripe and iron tramp for which he was sufficiently distinguished.
Yet was Oliver Chadwyck reckoned the best-looking cavalier in the neighbourhood, and, moreover, an adherent to the "Red Rose," under whose banner he had fought, and, even when very young, had gained distinction for his bravery—no mean recommendation, truly, in those days, when courage was reckoned a sure passport to a lady's favour, the which, it might seem, whoever held out longest and stuck the hardest was sure to win.
One evening, about the time of the miller's adventure in the Fairies' Chapel, Eleanor was looking through her casement listlessly, perhaps unconsciously. She sighed for occupation. The glorious hues of sunset were gone; the moon was rising, and she watched its course from the horizon of long dark hills up to the bare boughs of the sycamores by the banks of the little stream below. Again she sighed, and so heavily that it seemed to be re-echoed from the walls of her chamber. She almost expected the grim panels to start aside as she looked round, half-wishing, half-afraid that she might discover the intruder.
Disappointed, she turned again to the casement, through which the moonbeams, now partially intercepted by the branches, lay in chequered light and darkness on the floor.
"I thought thou wert here. Alas! I am unhappy, and I know not why." While she spoke a tear trembled on her dark eyelashes, and as the moonlight shone upon it, the reflection glanced back to the eye-ball, and a radiant form apparently glided through the chamber. But the spectre vanished as the eyelid passed over, and swept away the illusion. She leaned her glowing cheek upon a hand white and exquisitely formed as the purest statuary: an image of more perfect loveliness never glanced through a lady's lattice. She carelessly took up her cithern. A few wild chords flew from her touch. She bent her head towards the instrument, as if wooing its melody—the vibrations that crept to her heart. She hummed a low and plaintive descant, mournful and tender as her own thoughts. The tone and feeling of the ballad we attempt to preserve in the following shape:—
"It is the stream, Singing to the cold moon with babbling tongue; Yet, ah! not half so wildly as the song Of my heart's dream. Is not my love most beautiful, thou moon? Though pale as hope delayed; Methought, beneath his feet the wild-flowers played Like living hearts in tune.
"We stood alone: Then, as he drew the dark curls from my sight, Through his transparent hand and arm of light, The far skies shone. List! 'twas the dove. It seemed the echo of his own fond tone; Sweet as the hymn of seraphs round the throne Of hope and love!"
But the moon was not the object of her love. Ladies are little apt to become enamoured of such a fit emblem of their own fickle and capricious humours; and yet, somebody she loved, but he was invisible! Probably her wild and fervid imagination had created a form—pictured it to the mind, and endowed it with her own notions of excellence and perfection: precisely the same as love in the ordinary mode, with this difference only—to wit, the object is a living and breathing substance, around which these haloes of the imagination are thrown; whereas, in the case of which we are speaking, the lady's ideal image was transferred to a being she had never seen.
It was but a short period before the commencement of our narrative that Eleanor Byron was really in love, and for the first time; for though her cousin Oliver, as she usually called him, had stormed, and perchance carried the outworks, yet the citadel was impregnable and unapproached. But she knew not that it was love. A soft and pleasing impression stole insensibly upon her, then dejection and melancholy. Her heart was vacant, and she sighed for an object, and for its possession. It was a silly wish, but so it was, gentle reader; and beware thou fall not in love with thine own dreams, for sure enough it was but a vision, bright, mysterious, and bewitching, that enthralled her. Love weaves his chains of the gossamer's web, as well as of the unyielding adamant; and both are alike binding and inextricable. She saw neither form nor face in her visions, and yet the impalpable and glowing impression stole upon her senses like an odour, or a strain of soft and soul-thrilling music. Her heart was wrapped in a delirium of such voluptuous melody, that she chided the morning when she awoke, and longed for night and her own forgetfulness. Night after night the vision was repeated; and when her lover came, it was as though some chord of feeling had jarred, some tie were broken, some delicious dream were interrupted, and she turned from him with vexation and regret. He chided her caprice, which he endured impatiently, and with little show of forbearance. This did not restore him to her favour, nor render him more winning and attractive; so that the invisible gallant, a rival he little dreamt of, was silently occupying the heart once destined for his own.
One evening, Ralph, in pursuance of the commands he had received, arrayed in his best doublet, his brown hose, and a huge waist or undercoat, beneath which lay a heavy and foreboding heart, made his appearance at the house of Sir Nicholas Byron, an irregular and ugly structure of lath and plaster, well ribbed with stout timber, situated in a sheltered nook near the edge of the Beil, a brook running below Belfield, once an establishment of the renowned knights of St John of Jerusalem, or Knights Templars.
Ralph was ushered into the lady's chamber; and she, as if expecting some more distinguished visitant, looked with an eye of disappointment and impatience upon the intruder as he made his homely salutation.
"Thine errand?" inquired she.
"Verily, a fool's, lady," replied Ralph, "and a thriftless one, I fear me, into the bargain."
"Stay thy tongue. Yet I bethink me now," said she, looking earnestly at him, "thou art from my cousin: a messenger from him, I trow."
"Nay," said the ambiguous hind, "'tis from other guess folk, belike; but—who—I—Like enough that the Lady Eleanor will go a fortune-hunting with such a simpleton as I am."
"Go with thee?" said the lady in amazement.
"Why, ay—I was bid to bring you to the Fairies' Chapel, beyond the waterfall in the wood by Healey, and that ere to-morrow night. But I am a doomed and a dying man, for how should the Lady Eleanor Byron obey this message?"
Here the unhappy miller began to weep; but the lady was dumb with astonishment.
"Forgive me, lady, in this matter; but I was in a manner bound to accomplish mine errand."
"And what if I should accompany thee? Wouldest thou be my champion, my protector from onslaught and evil?"
Here he opened his huge grey eyes to such an alarming extent that Eleanor had much ado to refrain from smiling.
"If you will go, lady, I shall be a living man; and you"—a dead woman, probably he would have said; but the denunciation did not escape his lips, and the joy and surprise of the wary miller were beyond utterance.
"But whence thy message, friend?" said the deluded maiden, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Why; the message was whispered in my ear. A stranger brought it together with a dismal threat should I not bring you at the time appointed."
Here the miller again became uneasy and alarmed. A cold shudder crept over him, and he looked imploringly upon her.
"But they say, my trusty miller, that this chapel of the fairies may not be visited, forbidden as it is to all catholic and devout Christians, after nightfall."
At this intimation the peccant miller displayed his broad thumbs, and looked so dolorous and apprehensive, sprawling out his large ungainly proportions, that Eleanor, though not prone to the indulgence of mirth, was mightily moved thereto by the cowardly and dismal aspect he betrayed.
"Nay, lady, I beseech you," he stammered out. "I am a dead dog—a piece of useless and unappropriated carrion, if you go not. Ha' pity on your poor knave, and deliver me from my tormentors!"
"Then to-morrow I will deliver thee," said the maiden, "and break thine enchantment. But the hour?"
"Ere the moonbeam touches the pillar in the Fairies' Hall."
"Agreed, knave. So begone. Yet—and answer truly for thy life—was no pledge, no token, sent with this message?"
Ralph unwillingly drew forth the token from his belt. Fearful that it might divulge more than he wished, the treacherous messenger had kept back the tablets entrusted to him. He suspected that should she be aware it was the good people who were a-wanting her, he would have but a slender chance of success.
She glanced hastily, anxiously, over the page, though with great surprise.
"How now?" said she, thoughtfully. "Here is a pretty love-billet truly. The page is fair and unspotted—fit emblem of a lover's thoughts."
"You are to write thereon, lady, your lover's wish, and throw it into the brook here, hard by. The stream, a trusty messenger will carry it back to its owner."
Ralph delivered his message with great reluctance, fearful lest she might be alarmed and retract her promise.
To his great joy, however, she placed the mystic token in her bosom, and bade him attend on the morrow.
This he promised faithfully; and with a light heart he returned to his abode.
Eleanor watched his departure with impatience. She took the tablets from her bosom. Horror seemed to fold his icy fingers round her heart. She remembered the injunction. Her mind misgave her, and as she drew towards the lamp it shot forth a tremulous blaze and expired. Yet with desperate haste, bent, it might seem, on her own destruction, she hastily approached the window. The moonbeam shone full upon the page as she scrawled with great trepidation the word "THINE." To her unspeakable horror the letters became a track of fire, but as she gazed a drop of dark blood fell on them and obliterated the writing.
"Must the compact be in blood?" said she, evidently shrinking from this unhallowed pledge. "Nay then, farewell! Thou art not of yon bright heaven. My hopes are yet there, whatever be thy doom! If thou art aught within the pale of mercy I am thine, but not in blood."
Again, but on another page, she wrote the word "THINE." Again the blood-drop effaced the letters.
"Never, though I love thee! Why urge this compact?" With a trembling hand she retraced her pledge, and the omen was not repeated. She had dared much; but her hope of mercy was yet dearer than her heart's deep and overwhelming passion. With joy she saw the writing was unchanged.
Throwing on her hood and kerchief, she stole forth to the brook, and in the rivulet, where it was yet dark and unfrozen, she threw the mystic tablet.
The following night she watched the moon, as it rose above the huge crags, breaking the long undulating horizon of Blackstone Edge, called "Robin Hood's Bed," or "Robin Hood's Chair."
One jagged peak, projected upon the moon's limb, looked like some huge spectre issuing from her bright pavilion. She rose, red and angry, from her dark couch. Afterwards a thin haze partially obscured her brightness; her pale, wan beam seemed struggling through a wide and attenuated veil. The wind, too, began to impart that peculiar chill so well understood as the forerunner of a change. A loud sough came shuddering through the frozen bushes, moaning in the grass that rustled by her path. Muffled and alone, she took her adventurous journey to the mill, where she arrived in about an hour from her departure. Ralph was anxiously expecting her, together with his dame.
"Good e'en, lady," said the latter, with great alacrity, as Eleanor crossed the threshold. She returned the salutation; but her features were lighted up with a wild and deceptive brightness, and her glowing eye betrayed the fierce and raging conflict within.
"The shadow will soon point to the hour, and we must be gone," said the impatient miller.
"Lead on," replied the courageous maiden; and he shrank from her gaze, conscious of his own treachery and her danger.
The hard and ice-bound waters were dissolving, and might be heard to gurgle in their deep recesses; drops began to trickle from the trees, the bushes to relax their hold, and shake off their icy trammels. Towards the south-west lay a dense range of clouds, their fleecy tops telling with what message they were charged. Still the moon cast a subdued and lingering light over the scene, from which she was shortly destined to be shut out.
Ralph led the way silently and with great caution through the slippery ravine. The moonlight flickered through the leafless branches on the heights above them, their path winding through the shadows by the stream.
"We must hasten," said her guide, "or we may miss the signal. We shall soon take leave of the moonlight, and perhaps lose our labour thereby."
They crept onwards until they saw the dark rocks in the Fairies' Chapel. The miller pointed to a long withered bough that flung out its giant arms far over the gulph from a great height. The moon threw down the shadow quite across to the bank on the other side, marking its rude outline on the crags.
"The signal," said Ralph; "and by your favour, lady, I must depart. I have redeemed my pledge."
"Stay, I prithee, but within hearing," said Eleanor. "I like not the aspect of this place. If I call, hasten instantly to my succour."
The miller promised, but with a secret determination not to risk his carcase again for all the bright-eyed dames in Christendom.
She listened to his departing footsteps, and her heart seemed to lose its support. An indescribable feeling crept upon her—a consciousness that another was present in this solitude. She was evidently under the control of some invisible agent; the very freedom of her thoughts oppressed and overruled by a power superior to her own. She strove to escape this thraldom, but in vain. She threw round an apprehensive glance, but all was still—the dripping boughs alone breaking the almost insupportable silence that surrounded her. Suddenly she heard a sigh, and a rustling at her ear; and she felt an icy chillness breathing on her. Then a voice, musical but sad, whispered—
"Thou hast rejected my suit. Another holds thy pledge."
"Another! Who art thou?" said the maiden, forgetting her fears in the first emotion of surprise.
"Thou hast been conscious of my presence in thy dreams!" replied the mysterious visitor. She felt her terrors dissipated, for the being whom she loved was the guardian of her safety.
"I have loved thee, maiden," said the voice; "I have hovered round thee when thou slept, and thou hast answered my every thought. Wherefore hast thou not obeyed? Why not seal thy compact and our happiness together?"
"Because it was unhallowed," replied she firmly, though her bosom trembled like the leaf fluttering from its stem.
"Another has taken thy pledge. Yet is it not too late. Renew the contract, even with thy blood, and I am thine! Refuse, and thou art his. If this hour pass, I am lost to thee for ever!"
"To whom," inquired Eleanor, "has it been conveyed?"
"To thy first, thy betrothed lover. He found the pledge that I would not receive."
The maiden hesitated. Her eternal hopes might be compromised by this compliance. But she dreaded the loss of her insidious destroyer.
"Who art thou? I fear me for the tempter!"
"And what boots it, lady? But, listen. These elves be my slaves; and yet I am not immortal. My term is nigh run out, though it may be renewed if, before the last hour be past, a maiden plight her hopes, her happiness to me! Ere that shadow creeps on the fairy pillar thou art irrevocably mine, or his whom thou dreadest."
Eleanor groaned aloud. She felt a cold hand creeping on her brow. She screamed involuntarily. On a sudden the boughs bent with a loud crash above her head, and a form, rushing down the height, stood before her. This unexpected deliverer was Oliver Chadwyck. Alarmed by the cries of a female, as he was returning from the chase, he interposed at the very moment when his mistress was ensnared by the wiles of her seducer.
"Rash fool, thou hast earned thy doom. The blood be on thine own head. Thou art the sacrifice!"
This was said in a voice of terrible and fiendish malignity. A loud tramp, as of a mighty host, was heard passing away, and Oliver now beheld the form of his betrothed.
"Eleanor! Here! In this unholy place!" cried her lover. But the maiden was unable to answer.
"There's blood upon my hand!" said he, holding it up in the now clear and unclouded moonlight. "Art thou wounded, lady?"
"I know not," she replied; "I was alone. Yet I felt as though some living thing were nigh—some unseen form, of terrible and appalling attributes! Was it not a dream?"
"Nay," said Oliver, pensively; "methought another was beside thee!"
"I saw him not."
"How camest thou hither?"
"Let us be gone," said she, trembling; "I will tell thee all."
She laid her head on his shoulder. It throbbed heavily. "I am now free. The accursed links are broken. I feel as though newly wakened from some horrible dream! Thou hast saved me, Oliver. But if thine own life is the price!"
"Fear not; I defy their devilish subtilty—in their very den too: and thus, and thus, I renounce the devil and all his works!"
He spat thrice upon the ground, to show his loathing and contempt.
"Oh! say not so," cried Eleanor, looking round in great alarm.
Oliver bore her in his arms from that fearful spot. He accompanied her home; and it was near break of day when, exhausted and alone, she again retired to her chamber. By the way Oliver told her that he had found a mysterious tablet on the edge of the brook the same morning. He had luckily hidden it in his bosom, and he felt as though a talisman or charm had protected him from the spells in the "Fairies' Chapel."
Springtide was past, and great was the stir and bustle for the approaching nuptials between Oliver Chadwyck and the Lady Eleanor. All the yeomanry, inhabitants of the hamlets of Honorsfield, Butterworth, and Healey, were invited to the wedding. Dancers and mummers were provided; wrestlers and cudgel-players, with games and pastimes of all sorts, were appointed. The feasts were to be holden for three days, and masks, motions, and other rare devices, were expected to surpass and eclipse every preceding attempt of the like nature.
Eleanor sat in her lonely bower. It was the night before the bridal. To-morrow would see her depart in pageantry and pomp—an envied bride! Yet was her heart heavy, and she could not refrain from weeping.
She sought rest; but sleep was denied. The owl hooted at her window; the bat flapped his leathern wings; the taper burned red and heavily, and its rays were tinged as though with blood; the fire flung out its tiny coffin; the wind sobbed aloud at every cranny, and wailed piteously about the dwelling.
"Would that I might read my destiny," thought she. Her natural inclination to forbidden practices was too powerful to withstand.
Now there was formerly an ancient superstition, that if, on the night before marriage, a taper were burned, made from the fat of a young sow, and anointed with the blood of the inquirer, after sundry diabolical and cabalistical rites at midnight, a spirit would appear, and pronounce the good or evil destiny of the querent.
Eleanor had prepared the incantation ere she laid her throbbing head on the pillow. Whether or not she slept, is more than we can divulge. Such, in all probability, was the case; dreams being the echo only of our waking anticipations.
She thought there came a rushing wind. The door flapped to and fro, the curtains shook, and the pictures glared horribly from the wall. Suddenly—starting from the panel, with eyes lighted up like bale-fires, and a malignant scowl on her visage—stalked down one of the family portraits. It was that of a female—a maiden aunt of the house of Byron, painted by one of the court artists, whom the king had brought from France, and patronised at a heavy cost. This venerable dame appeared to gaze at the spectator from whatsoever situation she was beholden. The eyes even seemed to follow you when passing across the chamber. A natural consequence though, and only marvelled at by the ignorant and illiterate.
This ancient personage now advanced from her hanging-place, and standing at the foot of the bed, opened out a fiery scroll with these ominous words:—
"Maid, wife, and widow, in one day, This shall be thy destiny."
Eleanor struggled hard, but was unable to move. She laboured for utterance, but could not speak. At length, with one desperate effort, a loud cry escaped her, and the vision disappeared. She slept no more, but morning disclosed her haggard cheek and sunken eye, intimating that neither hope nor enjoyment could have been the companion of her slumbers.
It was a bright morning in June. The sun rode high and clear in the blue heavens. The birds had "sung their matins blythe" ere the bridegroom arrived with his attendants. Merrily did the village choristers acquit themselves in their vocation, while those that were appointed strewed flowers in the way. The bells of St Chad trolled out their merry notes when the ceremony was over, and the bride, on her snow-white palfrey, passed on, escorted by her husband, at the head of the procession. Gay cavaliers on horseback, and maidens prancing by their side, made the welkin ring with loud and mirthful discourse. The elder Byron rode on his charger by the side of Jordan Chadwyck and his eldest son, with whom rode the vicar, Richard Salley, nothing loath to contribute his folly to the festival.
As the procession drew nigh to the hall, a messenger rode forward in great haste, whispering to Byron, who, with angry and disordered looks, shouted aloud to Oliver—
"Away—away! The cowardly Traffords are at our threshold. They have skulked out, like traitors as they be, knowing our absence at the feast. 'Tis an old feud, and a bloody one. Who is for Byron? Down with the Traffords!"
The old man here put spurs to his horse, and galloped off with his attendants.
"A Byron—a Byron!" shouted Oliver, as he followed in full cry, first leaving his wife under a suitable and safe escort. Soon they routed the enemy, but the prediction was complete; for Eleanor became
"Maid, wife, and widow, in one day!"
her husband being slain during the battle.
The blood of man was held of little account in those days, if we may judge by the following award on the occasion:—
"In virtue of a writ of appeal of death, sued out against Sir John Trafford, Knight, his tenants and servants, the sum of sixty pounds was deemed to be paid by Trafford to Biroun, to be distributed amongst the cousins and friends of the late Oliver C., in the parish church of Manchester, on the award of Sir Thomas Stanley, Knight, Lord Stanley—viz. ten marks at the nativity of John the Baptist, and ten marks at St Martyn, yearly, until the whole was paid, and all parties to be fully friends. Dated London, 24th March, 20 Edward IV. 4018."
 Whitaker's Hist. Whalley, p. 441.
 Corry's Lancashire.
 Mag. Britan. York, p. 391.
 Here vulgarly called the Tearn Barn (tithe-barn) in Wales; distinctly seen in showery weather, but invisible in a settled season.
 On a bleak moor, called Monstone Edge, in this hamlet, is a huge moor-stone or outlier, which (though part of it was broken off and removed some years ago) still retains the name of Monstone. It is said to have been quoited thither by Robin Hood, from his bed on the top of Blackstone Edge, about six miles off. After striking the mote or mark aimed at, the stone bounced off a few hundred yards and settled there. These stones, however, in all probability, if not Druidical, were landmarks, the ancient boundary of the hamlet of Healey; and, as was once customary, the marvellous story of this ancient outlaw might be told to the urchins who accompanied the perambulators, with the addition, probably, of a few kicks and cuffs, to make them remember the spot.
THE LUCK OF MUNCASTER.
K. Hen.—"From Scotland am I stolen, even of pure love, To greet mine own land with my wishful sight."
King Henry VI.
"It shall bless thy bed, it shall bless thy board, They shall prosper by this token; In Muncaster Castle good luck shall be, Till the charmed cup is broken."
Gamel de Pennington is the first ancestor of the family of whom there is any recorded account; he was a person of great note and property at the time of the Conquest, and the family, having quitted their original seat of Pennington in Lancashire (where the foundation of a square building called the Castle is still visible), he fixed his residence at Mealcastre, now called Muncaster. It is said that the family originally resided nearer the sea, at a place not far from the town of Ravenglass, where at present are the ruins of an old Roman castle, called Walls Castle. The old tower of the present mansion-house at Muncaster was built by the Romans, to guard the ford called St Michael's Ford, over the river Esk, when Agricola went to the north, and to watch also the great passes into the country over the fells, and over Hard Knot, where is the site of another fortress constructed by them, apparent from the traces existing to this day.
Muncaster and the manor of Muncaster have long been enjoyed by the Penningtons, who appear to have possessed it about forty years before the Conquest, and ever since, sometimes collaterally, but for the most part in lineal descent by their issue male, to this very time.
There is a room in Muncaster Castle which still goes by the name of Henry the Sixth's room, from the circumstance of his having been concealed in it at the time he was flying from his enemies in 1461, when Sir John Pennington, the then possessor of Muncaster, gave him a secret reception.
The posts of the bed in which he slept, which are of handsome carved oak, are also in the same room in good preservation.
When the period for the king's departure arrived, before he proceeded on his journey, he addressed Sir John with many kind and courteous acknowledgments for his loyal reception, lamenting, at the same time, that he had nothing of more value to present him with, as a testimony of his good-will, than the cup out of which he crossed himself. He then gave it into the hands of Sir John, accompanying the present with the following blessing:—"The family shall prosper as long as they preserve it unbroken;" which the superstition of those times imagined would carry good fortune to his descendants. Hence it is called "The Luck of Muncaster." It is a curiously-wrought glass cup, studded with gold and white enamel spots. The benediction attached to its security being then uppermost in the recollection of the family, it was considered essential to the prosperity of the house at the time of the usurpation that the Luck of Muncaster should be deposited in a safe place; it was consequently buried till the cessation of hostilities had rendered all further care and concealment unnecessary. Unfortunately, however, the person commissioned to disinter this precious jewel let the box fall in which it was locked up, which so alarmed the then existing members of the family, that they could not muster courage enough to satisfy their apprehensions. It therefore (according to the traditionary story still preserved in the family) remained unopened for more than forty years, at the expiration of which period a Pennington, more hardy or more courageous than his predecessors, unlocked the casket, and exultingly proclaimed the safety of the Luck of Muncaster.
When John, Lord Muncaster (the first of the family who obtained a peerage), entered into possession of Muncaster Castle, after his elevation in 1793, he found it still surrounded with a moat, and defended by a strong portcullis. The family having of late years entirely resided upon their estate of Wartee in Yorkshire, the house was in so very dilapidated a state that Lord Muncaster was obliged to rebuild it almost entirely, with the exception of Agricola's Tower, the walls of which are nine feet thick. The elevation of the new part is in unison with that of the Roman tower, and forms altogether a handsome castellated building. The situation is eminently striking, and was well chosen for commanding the different passes over the mountains. It is surrounded with mountain scenery on the north, south, and east; while extensive plantations, a rich and cultivated country, with the sea in the distance, makes a combination of scenery than which it is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful or more picturesque.
We are tempted to conclude this description with the words of John, Lord Muncaster, who himself so greatly contributed to its renovation. Upon being requested to give an outline of its beauties, he replied that it consisted of "wood, park, lawn, valley, river, sea, and mountain."
The reason or excuse we give for introducing within our Lancashire series this tradition, of which the occurrences took place in a neighbouring county, is, that the family was originally native to our own. By the village of Pennington, situated about midway between Dalton and Ulverstone, is the Castle Hill, the residence of this family before the Conquest. The area of the castle-yard appears to have been an octagon or a square, with obtuse angles, about forty-five yards in diameter. The south and east sides have been defended by a ditch about ten yards wide, and by a vallum of earth, still visible. There are no vestiges of the ancient building. It stood apparently on the verge of a precipice, at the foot of which flows a brook with great rapidity. The side commands an extensive view of the sea-coast and beacons, and was excellently situated for assembling the dependants in cases of emergency. The name is diversely written in ancient writings, as Penyngton, Penington, Pennington, and in Doomsday Book Pennegetun, perhaps from Pennaig, in British "a prince or great personage," to which the Saxon termination tun being added, forms Pennegetun, since smoothed into Pennington.
"Come hither, Sir John de Pennington, Come hither, and hearken to me; Nor silver, nor gold, nor ladye-love, Nor broad lands I give unto thee."
"I care not for silver, I care not for gold, Nor for broad lands, nor fair ladye; But my honour and troth, and my good broadsword, Are the king's eternally."
"Come hither, Sir John, thou art loyal and brave," Again the monarch spake; "In my trouble and thrall, in the hour of pain, Thou pity didst on me take.
"The white rose withers on every bough, And the red rose rears its thorn; But many a maid our strife shall rue, And the babe that is yet unborn.
"I've charged in the battle with horse and lance, But I've doffed the warrior now; And never again may helmet of steel Bind this burning, aching brow!
"Oh, had I been born of a simple churl, And a serving-wench for my mate, I had whistled as blithe as yon knave that sits By Muncaster's Castle gate!
"Would that my crown were a bonnet of blue, And my sceptre yon shepherd's crook, I would honour, dominion, and power eschew, In this holy and quiet nook.
"For England's crown is a girdle of blood, A traitor is every gem; And a murderer's eye each jewel that lurks In that kingly diadem!
"Hunt on! hunt on, thou blood-hound keen; I'd rather an outcast be, Than wade through all that thou hast done, To pluck that crown from thee!"
"Then tarry, my liege," Sir John replied, "In Muncaster's Castle gate; No foeman shall enter, while sheltered here From Edward's pride and hate."
"I may not tarry, thou trusty knight, Nor longer with thee abide; Ere to-morrow shall rise on these lordly towers, From that gate shall a monarch ride.
"For a vision came to my lonely bed, And that vision bade me flee; And I must away, ere break of day, O'er the hills to the south countrie.
"But take this cup,—'tis a hallowed thing, Which holy men have blessed; In the church of the Holy Sepulchre This crystal once did rest;
"And many a martyr, and many a saint, Around its brim have sate; No water that e'er its lips have touched But is hallowed and consecrate.
"'Tis thine, Sir John; not an empire's worth, Nor wealth of Ind could buy The like, for never was jewel seen Of such wondrous potency.
"It shall bless thy bed, it shall bless thy board, They shall prosper by this token; In Muncaster Castle good luck shall be, Till the charmed cup is broken!"
Sir John he bent him on his knee, And the king's word ne'er did err, For the cup is called, to this blessed hour, "THE LUCK OF MUNCASTER."
"Oh haste, Sir William of Liddislee My kinsman good at need, Ere the Esk's dark ford thou hast passed by, In Muncaster rest thy steed;
"And say to my love and my lady bright, In Carlisle I must stay, For the foe is come forth from the misty north, And I cannot hence away;
"But I must keep watch on Carlisle's towers With the banner of Cumberland; Then bid her beware of the rebel host, Lest they come with sword and brand.
"But bid her, rather than house or land, Take heed of that cup of grace, Which King Henry gave to our ancestor, The 'LUCK' of our noble race.
"Bid her bury it deep at dead of night, That no eye its hiding see. Now do mine errand, Sir William, As thou wouldst prosperous be!"
Sir William stayed nor for cloud nor shrine, He stayed not for rest nor bait, Till he saw the far gleam on Esk's broad stream, And Muncaster's Castle gate.
"From whence art thou in such fearful haste?" The warder wondering said; "Hast thou 'scaped alone from the bloody fight, And the field of the gory dead?"
"I am not from the bloody fight, Nor a craven flight I flee; But I am come to my lady's bower, Sir William of Liddislee."
The knight to the lady's bower is gone: "A boon I crave from thee, Deny me not, thou lady bright," And he bent him on his knee.
"I grant thee a boon," the lady said, "If it from my husband be;" "There's a cup of grace," cried the suppliant knight, "Which thou must give to me."
"Now foul befa' thee, fause traitor, That with guile would our treasure win; For ne'er from Sir John of Pennington Had such traitrous message been."
"I crave your guerdon, fair lady, 'Twas but your faith to try, That we might know if the 'Luck' of this house Were safe in such custody.
"The message was thus, thy husband sent; He hath looked out from Carlisle wa', And he is aware of John Highlandman Come trooping down the snaw;
"And should this kilted papistry Spread hither upon their way, They'll carry hence that cup of grace, Though thou shouldst say them nay.
"And thy lord must wait for the traitor foe By the walls of merry Carlisle; Else he would hie to his lady's help, And his lady's fears beguile.
"Thy lord would rather his house were brent, His goods and his cattle harried, Than the cup should be broken,—that cup of grace, Or from Muncaster's house be carried."
The kinsman smiled on that fond lady, And his traitor suit he plied: "Give me the cup," the false knight said, "From these foemen fierce to hide."
The lady of Muncaster oped the box Where lay this wondrous thing; Sir William saw its beauteous form, All bright and glistering.
The kinsman smiled on that fond lady, And he viewed it o'er and o'er. "'Tis a jewel of price," said that traitor then, "And worthy a prince's dower.
"We'll bury the treasure where ne'er from the sun One ray of gladness shone, Where darkness and light, and day and night, And summer and spring are one:
"Beneath the moat we'll bury it straight, In its box of the good oak-tree; And the cankered carle, John Highlandman, Shall never that jewel see."
The kinsman took the casket up, And the lady looked over the wall: "If thou break that cup of grace, beware, The pride of our house shall fall!"
The kinsman smiled as he looked above, And to the lady cried, "I'll show thee where thy luck shall be, And the lord of Muncaster's pride."
The lady watched this kinsman false, And he lifted the casket high: "Oh! look not so, Sir William," And bitterly she did cry.
But the traitor knight dashed the casket down To the ground, that blessed token; "Lie there," then said that false one now, "Proud Muncaster's charm is broken!"
The lady shrieked, the lady wailed, While the false knight fled amain: But never durst Muncaster's lord, I trow, Ope that blessed shrine again!
The knight of Muncaster went to woo, And he rode with the whirlwind's speed, For the lady was coy, and the lover was proud, And he hotly spurred his steed.
He stayed not for bog, he stayed not for briar, Nor stayed he for flood or fell; Nor ever he slackened his courser's rein, Till he stood by the Lowthers' well.
Beside that well was a castle fair, In that castle a fair lady; In that lady's breast was a heart of stone, Nor might it softened be.
"Now smooth that brow of scorn, fair maid, And to my suit give ear; There's never a dame in Cumberland, Such a look of scorn doth wear."
"Haste, haste thee back," the lady cried, "For a doomed man art thou; I wed not the heir of Muncaster, Thy 'Luck' is broken now!"
"Oh say not so, for on my sire Th' unerring doom was spent; I heir not his ill-luck, I trow, Nor with his dool am shent."
"The doom is thine, as thou art his, And to his curse, the heir; But never a luckless babe of mine That fearful curse shall bear!"
A moody man was the lover then; But homeward as he hied, Beside the well at Lord Lowther's gate, An ugly dwarf he spied.
"Out of my sight, thou fearsome thing; Out of my sight, I say: Or I will fling thine ugly bones To the crows this blessed day."
But the elfin dwarf he skipped and ran Beside the lover's steed, And ever as Muncaster's lord spurred on, The dwarf held equal speed.
The lover he slackened his pace again, And to the goblin cried: "What ho, Sir Page, what luckless chance Hath buckled thee to my side?"
Up spake then first that shrivelled thing, And he shook his locks of grey: "Why lowers the cloud on Muncaster's brow, And the foam tracks his troubled way?"
"There's a lady, the fairest in all this land," The haughty chief replied; "But that lady's love in vain I've sought, And I'll woo none other bride."
"And is there not beauty in other lands, And locks of raven hue, That thou must pine for a maiden cold, Whose bosom love ne'er knew?"
"Oh, there is beauty in every land," The sorrowing knight replied; "But I'd rather Margaret of Lonsdale wed, Than the fairest dame beside."
"And thou shalt the Lady Margaret wed," Said that loathly dwarf again; "There's a key in Muncaster Castle can break That maiden's heart in twain!"
"Oh never, oh never, thou lying elf, That maiden's word is spoken: The cup of grace left a traitor's hand, Proud Muncaster's 'Luck' is broken."
Then scornfully grinned that elfin dwarf, And aloud he laughed again: "There's a key in thy castle, Sir Knight, can break That maiden's heart in twain!"
The knight he turned him on his steed, And he looked over hill and stream; But he saw not that elfin dwarf again, He had vanished as a dream!
The knight came back to his castle hall, And stabled his good grey steed; And he is to his chamber gone, With wild and angry speed.
And he saw the oaken casket, where Lay hid that cup of grace, Since that fearful day, when the traitor foe Wrought ruin on his race.
"Thou cursed thing," he cried in scorn, "That ever such 'Luck' should be; From Muncaster's house, ill-boding fiend, Thou shalt vanish eternally."
He kicked the casket o'er and o'er With rage and contumely; When, lo! a tinkling sound was heard— Down dropped a glittering key!
He remembered well the wondrous speech Of the spectre dwarf again, "There's a key in Muncaster Castle can break A maiden's heart in twain!"
He took the key, and he turned the lock, And he opened the casket wide; When the cause of all his agony The lover now espied.
The holy cup lay glistering there, And he kissed that blessed token, For its matchless form unharmed lay, The "Luck" had ne'er been broken!
The loud halls rung, and the minstrels sung, And glad rolled the Esk's bonny tide, When Lonsdale's Lady Margaret Was Muncaster's winsome bride!
Now prosper long that baron bold, And that bright and blessed token: For Muncaster's Luck is constant yet, And the crystal charm unbroken!
Drawn by G. Pickering. Engraved by Edw^d. Finden.]
THE PEEL OF FOULDREY.
"True, treason never prospers; what's the reason? When treason prospers, 'tis no longer treason!"
The ancient castle of Peel of Fouldrey, the island of fowls, stands a little beyond the southern extremity of the isle of Walney. The castle and its site belong to the ladies of the liberty of Furness.
The ruins, seen from the heights above Rampside, are beautifully picturesque. Though the sea has wasted part of the outworks, yet the remains exhibit a complete specimen of the principles and plan upon which these ancient defences were usually constructed. It may not be thought out of place to give the reader some account of its present appearance. West, in his Antiquities of Furness, inserts the following account of his visit to this delightful spot; and as it is detailed with a good deal of graphic simplicity, if not elegance of style, we prefer it to our own record of an expedition to this place.
"Choosing a proper time of the tide," says he, "for our excursion, we set out from Dalton, early on a pleasant summer's morning, and having crossed the sands in Walney channel, we followed the eastern shore of the isle of Walney from the small village of Northscale, by the chapel, to Bigger. Leaving this hamlet, and crossing over a small neck of land by a narrow lane winding amongst well-cultivated fields, smiling with the prospect of a plenteous harvest of excellent grain, but principally of wheat, which the land in Walney generally produces of a superior quality, we again came to the shore, and having a pretty distinct view of several parts of the ruinous fabric which was the object of our excursion, we took the distant castle for our guide, and entered upon a trackless sand, which, by the route we pursued, is about two miles and a half over. It is soft and disagreeable travelling in many places; but there is no quicksand. Those, however, who are unacquainted with the road to the Peel of Fouldrey should take a guide from Bigger.
"About half-way over the sand, the mouldering castle, with its extensive shattered walls and ruinated towers, makes a solemn, majestic appearance. Having arrived on the island, which is destitute of tree or shrub, except a few blasted thorns and briers, we left our horses at a lonely public-house, situated close by the side of the eastern shore, and proceeded to inspect the ruins of the castle. The main tower has been defended by two moats, two walls, and several small towers. We crossed the exterior fosse or ditch, and entered the outer bayle or yard, through a ruinous guard-tower, overleaning a steep precipice formed by the surges of the sea. The ancient pass, where the drawbridge over the outer ditch was fixed, has been long washed away. The greater part of the outer wall is also demolished, for in those places which are out of the reach of the tide the stones have been removed for various purposes.
"The drawbridge over the exterior ditch of these castles used commonly to be defended by a fortification consisting of a strong high wall with turrets, called the barbacan or antemural; the great gate or entrance into the outer bayle or yard was often fortified by a tower on each side, and by a room over the intermediate passage; and the thick folding-doors of oak, by which the entrance was closed, were often strengthened with iron, and faced by an iron portcullis or grate, sliding down a groove from the higher part of the building.
"A chapel commonly stood in the outer bayle: accordingly, just at our entrance into that part we saw the ruins of a building which is said to have been the chapel belonging to this castle.
"At the inside of the yard we came to the inner fosse, moat, or ditch, and arriving at the place where the drawbridge had been fixed, we entered the inner bayle or court by the ancient passage through the interior wall, the entrance whereof had evidently been secured by a portcullis, and defended by a room over the passage.
"We now proceeded to the entrance into the main tower or keep; but the doorway into the porch, which precedes it, being walled up, we were obliged to creep into the edifice by a narrow aperture. The entrance has been secured by a portcullis. The main tower has consisted of three storeys, each divided into three oblong apartments by two interior side walls being carried from bottom to top.
"The rooms on the ground-floor have been very low, and lighted by long apertures, extremely narrow, at the outside of the walls, but a considerable width in the inside, perhaps so constructed for the use of the bow. The apartments have communicated with each other; and there has been a winding staircase leading from one of them to the rooms above, and to the top of the castle. Under the ground-floor of these ancient castles used commonly to be dark and dismal apartments, or dungeons, for the reception of prisoners, but nothing of the kind is known to be here. The porch is called the dungeon.
"The second floor has been on a level with the first landing at the principal entrance. The rooms have been lofty, and lighted by small pointed windows, and many of them have had fireplaces. The apartments on the third floor have been apparently similar to those on the second. The side apartments have been lighted by several small pointed windows, but those in the middle have been very dark and gloomy.
"The great door of the castle opens into one of these intermediate apartments. On the left-hand side of the entrance has been a spiral staircase, leading to the rooms above and to the top of the castle, which has had a flat roof, surrounded by a parapet and several turrets. The walls of this tower are very strong and firm; a deep buttress is placed at each corner, and one against the middle of each side wall. A small square tower has stood at the southern corner, but the greater part of it has been thrown down by the sea. The foundation of one side wall is also undermined the whole of its length, and as it in some places overhangs the precipice formed by the waste of the sea, and as the castle is not situated upon a rock, but upon hard loamy soil, this side must inevitably fall in a few years.
"Many huge fragments of the wasted walls are scattered upon the shore, under the cliff from whence they have fallen; and notwithstanding the concussion they have received in falling from a great height, and the frequent surges of the sea, they are as firm as ever, and in many places exhibit the shape of the edifice.
"The corners and doorcases of the guard-towers, the buttresses, window-frames, and several parts of the main tower, are constructed with red freestone; but all the other parts of the walls which in general are about six or seven feet in thickness, are formed of round stones collected from the adjacent shores. The inside of the walls has been constructed with small stones, and plenty of fluid mortar to fill the interstices.
"To this mode of construction, to the excellent binding quality of the stones, and to the slow drying of the grout-work in the inside, may be attributed the great tenacity of the walls of this fabric, more than to any uncommon or unknown method of composing the mortar.
"The roofs of the numerous guard-houses in the surrounding walls of this castle have apparently been flat. Upon these, and along the walls, which in most castles were topped by a parapet and a kind of embrasure called crennels, the defenders of the castle were stationed during a siege, and from thence discharged arrows, darts, stones, and every kind of annoyance they could procure, upon their enemies.
"There were often subterraneous passages leading from the lowest part of the main tower to a great distance; and by these the besieged could make their escape in time of imminent danger, when the outworks were carried by storm.
"On the north-east side of the outworks of this castle has been a large pond or reservoir for supplying the ditches with water in cases of sudden emergency. There has also been a fish-pond on the north-west side.
"Though many variations were made in the structure of castles, as the plan was often modified by the architect according to the site occupied by the edifice, yet the most perfect and magnificent were generally constructed with all the different parts we have mentioned.
"The walls contain no decorations of art, and are equally destitute of all natural embellishments; the rugged outlines of dilapidation, associating with the appearance of past magnificence, are the qualities which chiefly interest the imagination, while comparing the settled tranquillity of the present with the turbulent ages that are past, and contemplating the view of this mouldering fabric.
"The island of Fouldrey has certainly been much larger at the erection of the castle than it is at present; but the sea, having reduced it to its present small compass, has abated the rapid career of its destruction. It now wastes the western shore of Walney, and forms a new tract out of the ruins, which proves a barrier to its progress upon the Peel of Fouldrey, and at some future period may be an accession to this island, in place of the land which it has lost."
The period when it was reduced to ruins is not well ascertained, but it is probable that this was one of the fortresses which fell under the dismantling orders of the Commonwealth.
The port is very large and commodious, and would float a first-rate ship of war at low water.
In 1789 a body of commissioners and trustees, appointed to improve the navigation of the river Lune, built a lighthouse on the south-east end of the isle of Walney. It is an octagonal column, placed upon a circular foundation of a little more than twenty feet in diameter. At the plinth, its diameter is eighteen feet, and diminishes gradually with the elevation through fifty-seven feet to fourteen. The ascent from the bottom to the lantern is by a staircase, consisting of ninety-one steps, winding up the inside of the pillar. The whole height is about sixty-eight feet. At the base of the column there is a small dwelling for the keeper and his family.
* * * * *
It was in the "merry month of May," in the year 1487, scarcely two years after Richard's overthrow at Bosworth, and Earl Richmond's usurpation of the English crown by the title of King Henry the Seventh, that a great armament, landing on the barren island of Fouldrey, took possession of the castle, a fortress of great strength commanding the entrance to the bay of Morecambe, and a position of considerable importance to the invaders. It occupied, with the outworks and defences, nearly the whole area of the island (a few acres only), two or three fishermen's huts at that time being irregularly scattered on the beach below. Built by the monks of Furness in the first year of Edward III., as a retreat from the ravages of the Scots, and a formidable barrier against their approaches by sea, it was now unexpectedly wrested from its owners, becoming a point of resistance from whence the formidable power of Henry might be withstood, and in the end successfully opposed.
A royal banner floated from the battlements: the fortress had been formally taken into possession by the invaders in the name of their king, previously proclaimed at Dublin by the title of Edward the Sixth. The youth was crowned there with a diadem taken from an image of the Virgin, priests and nobles espousing his cause with more than ordinary enthusiasm; and Henry, in the second year of his reign, was threatened, from a source as unexpected as it was deemed contemptible, with the loss of his ill-gotten sovereignty.
Lambert Simnel, according to some historians, was the real name of this "pretender;" but there be others who scruple not to assert, that he was in reality the unfortunate Earl of Warwick, son to Clarence, elder brother of Richard III., and that he had made his escape from the Tower, where he long suffered an ignominious confinement by the cruel policy of Henry. The prior claims of this young prince to the English crown could not be doubted, and Margaret, the "bold" Duchess of Burgundy, sister to Edward IV., had furnished the invaders with a body of two thousand chosen Flemish troops, commanded by Martin Swartz, a brave and experienced officer. With them came the Earl of Lincoln, related to Edward IV. by intermarriage with Elizabeth, the king's eldest sister.
This nobleman had long entertained ambitious views towards the crown; his uncle Richard, it is said, in default of issue to himself, having expressed the intention of declaring Lincoln his successor. The Lord Lovel, too, a bitter enemy of the reigning prince, who had fled to the court of Burgundy beforetime for protection, was entrusted with a command in the expedition. To these were joined the Earl of Kildare, the king's deputy for Ireland, with several others of the nobility from the sister kingdom. The countenance thus unexpectedly given to the rebellion by persons of the highest rank, and the great accession of military force from abroad, raised the courage and exultation of the Irish to such a pitch that they threatened to overrun England, nothing doubting but their restless and disaffected spirit would be fully met by a similar disposition on the part of those whom they invaded. In supposing that the inhabitants in the north of England, and especially in Lancashire, would immediately join their standard, they had not calculated wisely. The king, in crushing the hopes of the Yorkists, had made himself, at that period, too popular in the county; the reluctance, too, which it may be supposed that Englishmen would feel in identifying themselves with a troop of foreign adventurers, as well as their general animosity against the Irish, to whom the "northerns" never bore any good-will, being too near neighbours to agree,—these circumstances taken into account, the ultimate failure of the expedition might have been easily prognosticated. Sir Thomas Broughton, a gentleman of some note in Furness, was the only person of weight and influence in the county who joined their standard, and he soon found himself a loser by his defection.
This brief preliminary statement we have thought essential to the right understanding and development of our plot.
The evening was dark and lowering, the sky broken into wild irregular masses of red and angry clouds. The sun, after throwing one fierce look over the broad and troubled sea, had sunk behind a hard, huge battlement of cloud, on the round waving edges of which ran a bright burning rim, that looked like a train of fire ignited by the glowing luminary behind.
The beach round the little island of Fouldrey is mostly covered with pebbles thrown up by the tide, occasionally intermingled with rock and patches of dark verdure. A few boats may be seen with their equipments, and two or three straggling nets upon the shore. A distant sail occasionally glides across the horizon; but the usual aspect is that of solitude, still and uninterrupted, the abode of sterility and sadness. Now, the narrow bay by the island was glittering with gallant streamers. Ships of war, in all their pride and panoply, majestically reposed upon its bosom. All was bustle and impatience. The trumpet-note of war brayed fiercely from the battlements. Incessant was the march of troops in various directions. Tents were pitched before the castle. Guards were appointed; and this hitherto peaceful and solitary spot resounded with the din of arms, and the hoarse clang of preparation for the approaching strife.
Messengers were constantly passing to and from the mainland. The insignia of royalty were ostentatiously displayed, and the captains and leaders within the fortress fulfilled the duties of this mimic and motley court in honour of their anticipated sovereign.
Under a steep cliff, washed by the sea at high water, but of no great height, and above which the higher walls of the castle or keep might be discovered, sat two fishermen, the owners, or rather occupiers, of one of the cottages built under the very walls of the fortress, where these peaceful inhabitants had placed their little nests, protected and covered by the wing of their loftier but more exposed and dangerous neighbour.