« ForrigeFortsett »
TRANSLATIONS AND SELECTIONS.
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF THE GREAT DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
BY FRANCES (MINTO) ELLIOT.
(Authoress of “An Idle Woman in Italy.”)
I live on a high hill in the charming boccage, nence, and finally losing itself in a purple disCounty of Berkshire—the royal county, as we tance of boundless heather. This place, called love to call it, because Windsor Castle, that Bramshill, belongs to the Cope family, and is glorious legacy from our Norman Kings, half the glory of our country-side. The house (grey feudal, half palatial, lies within our limits. with age, and checkered by many-shaded lichen)
From our garden terraces, towards the south has remained untouched since the day it was -a kindly place for brightest flowers and rud- built. It is a happy architectural inspiration, diest fruits—peaceful woodlands rise all around. blending the grand outlines of the Italian Here and there higher and larger woods break palace with the rich ornamentation of the Tudor the horizon, marking the loftier timber of neigh- period. Over the principal entrance, lavishly bouring park and pleasure-ground. Every inch decorated with carved stonework, are the coat of country is rich, trim, and cultivated, realizing of arms and feathers of the Prince, while large the Frenchman's notion that England is all a latticed windows, mullions, and cyphers break garden. To the right, plainly seen from our' the line of the brick walls with bold effect. A lawn, are the dark lines of the Strathfieldsaye lovely stone cornice, rich, yet open, like guipure woods-oak, spruce, fir, feathery ash, and spirey lace, ornaments the top. Stone terraces and poplar, stretching along one side of a pic- delicate turf run parallel to long ranges of winturesque common, half heather, half woodland, dows on the south front, and there is an orangand wholly sylvan, called Heckfield.
ery and a bowling-green under the shadow of Looking out again from our garden terraces, the great house, broken by flights of steps, and towards the left, are certain vast forests of dark balustraded with carved stone. fir--nothing but fir; no brighter colour or live- Beyond-a foreground of sylvan beauty one lier green to gladden these sombre masses, would gladly walk ten miles to see—lies the covering a wild moorland district that stretches grand old chase, half grass, half heather, studmiles away towards the south. Those are the ded with oaks, that stand calmly surveying Bramshill woods, enshrouding one of the grand- themselves in their shadows on the grass, as if est Elizabethan mansions in England, built by sitting for their portraits as magnificent patrian Italian architect for Henry, Prince of Wales, archs. Prodigious lime trees scent the air with eldest son of James ist, and brother of the ill- blossoms, and the largest, wierdest firs ever fated Charles. It is a kind of ditto of Hatfield, seen in England, frown over the margin of a also built for the same prince, and now the great placid lake. A lovely scene, bright in the sumhouse of the Salisbury family. Only Hatfield mer sunshine, and fitly framing the stately lies flat and low, and Bramshill crowns an emi- mansion towering over the woods. nence like Windsor Castle, with an avenue of Within are spacious rooms laid out in large elms resembling the Windsor Long Walk suites on the first and second floors, lined with stretching from the sculptured grand entrance ancient Flemish tapestry, and decorated with -a magnificent avenue, falling in the middle choice old china, pictures and marbles. A into a valley, rising upwards to a second emi-ghost is supposed to inhabit one very ghastly
looking room at the end of a long gallery-a very long and very high, closing overhead like gallery so long, indeed, that persons standing an early English cloister, in the pointed style ; a at the further end look quite dim and small. wonderfully symmetrical avenue, where the trees
Well, this glorious old place (historical with harmonize, and seem mutually agreed to grow out any special history but that of its own ex- up, and live and die simultaneously, to do ceeding beauty) was selected by the nation as a honour to the hero who so loved their overfitting home for our Iron Duke, when just warm arching shadow, and was so proud of their fine from the great struggle at Waterloo. But un proportions. This avenue conducts to the luckily, the very merit of this grey, unaltered house, which, with little divergencies, we are edifice was, in his practical eyes, its demerit, approaching. for it was much out of repair, and it would have
The Duke was a great farmer, and his park required the expenditure of many thousands to being always full of cattle, was consequently secure its venerable walls against further decay. obstructed by innumerable gates. These gates A large sum of money being voted by Parlia
were a heavy affliction, for having no footman, ment for the purpose of purchasing a residence it devolved upon me, then a child, to open them, for the Duke, his grace characteristically took causing thereby much injury to the beauty of the unromantic view of the matter, and, failing my white frock, which I had desired to keep into appreciate the mediæval charm of this an
tact for the Duchess' eyes. cient mansion, preferred Strathfieldsaye-a
Now we are at the house-a low, brick buildgood, fat, well-to-do, well-preserved house and estate, which the willing nation purchased for ing, with window-facings of stone, after the
fashion prevalent in domestic architecture him from the Rivers' family.
during the reign of Queen Anne. There are How often I have driven through that fat, scores of these windows above and below, all uninteresting park, traversed by that most slug- of one unbroken pattern, very monotonous, gish of Berkshire rivers, the Loddon, celebrated and the building is surmounted by a slopby Pope as the “Fair Lodona !" It would not ing roof, like a long extinguisher. Oppodo, however. No poet could make anything site the house, and divided from it by an ! but prose of that lazy, muddy stream, which oval carriage-drive, are drags its weary way through beds of bulrush blocks of square white buildings. These and flags, under withes and aspen trees, until are the stables, and between them runs a road, it drops fairly asleep, and is absorbed by the ending in a bit of flat park. At a short distance Thames. Never was any park so conventional, is the church, a strange-looking building, in so dull. A stone bridge, of the most ordinary shape something like a cannon ball
, with a little stereotyped pattern, spans the turgid river ; a cupola, and two bits of wings tacked on each road runs here, and a road there; and then side, to keep it steady. But the Duke liked it, tufts of plantations, and single trees, and groups as he liked the house, and when any disparage of timber, all, according to immemorial prece- ing remark was ventured upon in his presence, dent, like any number of other English parks always said it was “good enough for him," all over the kingdom. No one would care for which, of course, as he was the greatest hero the place but for the all-pervading memory of living, the modern Alexander, covered the bold, the great man whose shadow will ever linger critic with abject confusion, among these woods, and up and down these
That church was served by the Duke's në: roads where he rode, and walked, and hunted, phew, the present Dean of Windsor
, conscienand shot, and fished for so many years. He tious and zealous as a parish priest among was keen at country sports, and loved to be
country hinds and boors, as he is now, in thought the perfect country gentlemanı. He sphere where his duties lie exclusively within was kind to munificence to all his people, and the precincts of a royal court. The Duke (4; . when he died, not a servant or a keeper on the
most regular attendant) sat in a large gallery property but had a pension for life, and was re
pew, like a parlour, with a stove in the middle, membered by name in his will.
and when the sermon became wearisome, or. Yet, driving through that park there is one passed the prescribed limit of twenty minutes, feature especially to recall—an avenue of elms, the Duke would fall to poking and mending the
one or two
fire so vigorously that the preacher was fain charger, Copenhagen, on whose back he sat for to conclude, for he would scarce hear himself fifteen hours during the battle of Waterloo. speak.
Poor Duchess! she found an outlet for her On entering the house we find ourselves in a wifely, womanly love, in the daily feeding handsome hall, hung with pictures, and from of this old horse, now turned out luxurithence we pass into a long low gallery, over- ously to live and die in a paddock close by looking the flat park, the sluggish river, and the the garden. On through the shrubberies we conventional bridge. The gallery was papered walked—I a mere child, bearing the basket, all over with exquisite engravings—a fancy of and trotting by the Duchess’ side—while my the Duke's. The Duchess was sitting in a mother followed in silent fear of my untamed small room beyond ; she was the gentlest lady garrulity. By-and-by she heard with horror the I ever knew, yet gentle with a dignity all her own. following remark from her “en fant terrible.” Her face was pale and sad, and slightly scarred “This is a beautiful place, Duchess, and these with small-pox. She had a pensive, tender are beautiful gardens ; but if the Duke had not look, that made one love her even before her fought well on Copenhagen's back at Watersweet manner had settled that matter altogether. loo, you would never have had them, you No creature could approach her without feeling know!" her influence. Her friendliness to her country “No," replied she, “ we should not have had neighbours was unfailing. At a great diploma them; neither would you have had your place, tic reception at Apsley House, a somewhat for the French and Bonaparte would have rustic old squire led her, at her own desire, had it all.” among her brilliant guests.
The last time I saw this gentle lady was “Really, madam,” said he at length, “ I am shortly before her death. She was lying on a unworthy of the honour you are conferring on sofa, ill with her last illness ; and soon after me."
that she was taken up to town to die. Be* Nonsense,” said the Duchess, “everyone fore leaving Strathfieldsaye she addressed a takes you for the Hanoverian Ambassador ; pencilled note (being too weak to hold a pen) so hold your tongue, and do not undeceive to my mother, asking after her “dear little them."
girl," to whom she sent her “best love.” Such When we entered the boudoir, a great album was the wife of the great Duke, a domestic and a case of drawing materials lay before her, saint, too modest and too refined to fill the large and we found that she was finishing a collec- frame his glory had made for her! All this tion of sketches illustrative of the history of time I had never seen the Duke. Charles V. Now this was a work naturally Some three or four years afterwards it chanced suggested by her surroundings, for in the din- that I was staying in a house to which he came ing-room hard by hung many splendid portraits one day, accompanied by lovely Mrs. Arbuthof that period. A Velasquez presented to the not and Lady Stanhope, and the then Lady Duke by the King of Spain from his own gal- Salisbury, (née Gascoigne) to see a collection of lery at Madrid, a sedate Margaret, Governess pictures which he much admired. I was then of the low countries, and replice of the well- a long gawky girl in short petticoats, and sat known portraits of Philip le Beau, and Jeanne half hidden behind the sofas, terribly ashamed la Folle. Did the Duchess, I wonder, ever com- of my legs. No one noticed me. I ran home pare the adoring love she bore her absent hero, presently to tell my mother that I had seen to the passion that turned this royal lady's the great Duke; and she piqued, mother-like, brain ? Perhaps in the course of her solitary that her cub had been overlooked, sent him life (for she was often alone) some vague sym- message to say the girl he had met that day, pathy may have grown up in her heart for the had been much loved by his Duchess. Her plaintive, anxious face looking out of that tar- memory had now become very dear to him, and nished frame !
all she had loved he valued. A few days after Luncheon over, a meal of unexampled mag- | the great hero came trotting down our park nificence to my young imagination, the Duchess | avenue in his own decided way, and after being proposed a walk. A basket was brought to her received by my mother, specially begged to see full of bread, to feed the Duke's favourite' me. Bold enough now, I advanced, held out
my hand, and fell to talking with such good dear Mrs.—that if he applied for leave of will, that he was evidently amused. I asked absence for all the young officers who wished it, him to look at our view from the garden ter- he would have nothing else to do. F. M., the race.
Duke of Wellington, must decline to make any “There, sir," said I, (for everyone called him such application on any pretext whatever." “sir," as if he were a royal duke) " that is your But when asked by her to give an introduclodge, and there are your trees.”
tion to the brother of an old comrade he had “How far off do you call it ?" says he. much esteemed at Madras, and who was since
“Two miles, sir," I replied, as a bird flies dead, he furnished such a letter to the Governor over the river."
General of India as assured that officer's “Yes," said he, looking hard at it, “it is advancement for life. more than a mile, and I will tell you why. The Duke's correspondence occupied a large Look at that white lodge of mine ; it is but a portion of his day ; for, when out of office, he white mass. If it were less than a mile, you made it a point of conscience to reply to every would see an angle. This is a rule in distance note or letter he received. Hence the curious which you should always remember.”
specimens of his style, which are extant in his A vision of the Duke peering with his keen own handwriting ; for as his habits were gengrey eyes, over the barren Sierras of Spain, or erally known, every autograph-hunter provoked the grassy folds of Belgian plains, Aitted be- him to an immediate and characteristic reply. fore me. How often must he have had occa- In order to write undisturbed, he used to resion to put this rule into practice when calcu- tire for several hours each day to his librarylating the distance from the enemy; arranging a pleasant, irregular room on the ground-door, troops for battle, or looking out for his bivouac! opening into a conservatory, and thence upon
From this day forward, nothing could exceed the well-trimmed gravel walks of the gardenhis kindness. I was too young to dine out, plaisance. Adjoining was his bedroom, furbut my mother was constantly his guest. He nished with Spartan simplicity, containing only was one of the first who introduced the Russian a shabby iron sofa-bedstead, and all the scanty mode of dining with only flowers and fruit up- appurtenances of his camp life. This love of on the table; and this, perhaps, because he simplicity in dress, furniture, and habits, was ; was proud of his garden and its fine produce. the outward index of his character. The dinner was always served to the minute. His conversation was singularly straightIf any guests were but five minutes late, woe forward, and his views on men and things betide them! Watch in hand the Duke's keen presented a curious compound of dictatorial as- ! eyes met them in no dulcet mood; nor did he sertion and simple expression. The habit of fail to give them some verbal intimation of his command was always present with him, and displeasure. The house was always full, for he the possibility of contradiction or opposition loved the society of beautiful, high-born ladies never entered his head for an instant. Ordin- loved to hear them sing, or to play with them arily courteous, and really benevolent when un- ! at little games. Especially did he enjoy the provoked, he could, even in the most familiar song of “Miss Myrtle, the wonderful woman,” converse, become exceedingly stern, both in which he would nightly call for, and nightly look and manner; and it was thus, in a perfectly
It was Hercules surrounded by many naïve assumption of infallibility, that the conOmphales—the warrior resting from his toils, scious supremacy of the Commander-in-Chief and sunning himself in the rays of beauty. asserted itself. Still, now and then, the rough side would peep Flattered, loved, consulted as an oracle, by out, especially in his letters; and well as he every man, woman and child who came in conliked my mother, Field Marshal the Duke of tact with him, from his gamekeepers and Wellington could, and did, write her many a gardeners to the Ministers and the Queen, curt epistle. Once she asked his intercession it is only surprising that he should have prefor lengthened leave for a young officer whose served, even to extreme old age, his mental regiment was serving in India. “F. M., the equilibrium, and escaped to the extent he did Duke of Wellington," in reply, “ assured his I the pitfalls of vanity. As years went by, I ex
joyed more and more frequently the large hos- and chivalric admiration in his bearing towards pitalities of Strathfieldsaye, and whenever he her. At Strathfieldsaye they were always to be saw me, the great soldier, then grown old, and seen side by side, either in her pony-carriage, very white-haired and pale, with his head much driven by herself, or on horseback. No meet bent to one side, and speaking with a loud, of the hounds within any possible distance took strident voice, always singled me out, and ad- place without the presence of that aged hero dressed me with an interest and kindness that and that young and queenly beauty. I felt was accorded to me not for my own sake, The Duke died at Walmer, on his soldier's but for the sake of the gentle Duchess long bed, an exact duplicate of the shabby iron sofa since passed away.
at Strathfieldsaye. His early and industrious By-and-by his son, the present Duke, mar- habits never varied until the hour when he lay ried the present Duchess, then the lovely Lady down on his hard little couch, never to rise Douro, who quite engrossed him. She was, in again, and passed away without pain or strugtruth, the daughter of his affection, and there gle, in his sleep. was ever a charming mixture of paternal pride
From Cox's Romances of the Middle Ages.
[There can hardly be a more striking contrast than that between the German tales which have appeared among our selections and “Beowulf.” The German tales are a characteristic product of the most refined civilization ; “ Beowulf” is an equally characteristic product of the rudest antiquity. Anglo-Saxon scholars are pretty well agreed that “Beowulf” belongs to the period before the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, and that it was probably brought over by the race from Germany to England. Sleswig is the probable scene of the tale.
The following version of the tale is taken from “Popular Romances of the Middle Ages," by Mr. G. W. Cox and Mr. E. H. Jones. Mr. Cox is well known as the author of an ingenious work on Aryan mythology, in which he endeavours with great learning and ingenuity to prove that all the myths of the Aryan race, including the Iliad and the romance of King Arthur, are simply different versions of the same story, and that this story has its origin in the phenomena of the natural world and the course of the day and year! In the introduction to his present work he refers to Beowulf in illustration of the myths relating to “the ship or barge of the dead, which, while it carries the dead to their last home, also tells the story of their lives or proclaims their wrongs.” “A clearer light,” he says, “is thrown on the nature of this ship in the story of Scés, the father of Scyld, in the myth of Beowulf. Here Scéf, whose name tells its own tale, comes, as he goes, in a ship, with a sheaf of corn at his head ; and when his work among men is done, he bids his people lay him in the ship, and in the ship he is laid accordingly, with the goodliest weapons and the most costly of ornaments, and with all things which may gladden his
heart in the phantom land. Here we have in its fairer colours the picture which in many lands and ages has been realized in terrible completeness. In all these instances we see the expression of the ancient and universal animistic conviction which ascribed to the dead all the feelings and wants of the living, and which led men to slay beasts to furnish them with food, and to slaughter their wives or comrades, that they might journey to their new home with a goodly retinue. For the ideal of the ship itself we must look elsewhere. All these vessels move of their own will, and though without oar, or rudder, or sail, or rigging, they never fail to reach the port for which they are making. They belong, in short, to that goodly fleet in which the ships may assume all shapes and sizes, so that the bark which can bear all the Æsir may be folded up like a napkin. The child who is asked where he has seen such ships will assuredly say, “In the sky;'and when this answer is given the old animism, which, as Mr. Tylor well says, is the ultimate source of human fancy, explains everything in the myths related of these mysterious barks, which grow big and become small again at their pleasure, which gleam with gold and purple and crimson, or sail on in sombre and gloomy majesty, which leave neither mountain nor field nor glen unvisited, and