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tenure by which in feudal times the lands were held—that of presenting a rose to the King, should he pass by a certain road on a May-day.

And now we approach Rotherfield Grays—its bowery lanes, its wild, rugged commons, and its vast beech woods, from the edge of which projects, every here and there, a huge cherry-tree, looking, in the blossoming spring-time, as if carved in ivory, so exquisite is the whiteness, casting upon the ferny turf underneath showers of snowy petals that blanch the very ground, and diffusing around an almond-like odor, that mingles with the springing thyme and the flowering gorse, and loads the very air with its balm.

Exquisite is the pleasantness of these beech woods, where the light is green from the silky verdure of the young leaves, and where the mossy woodpaths are embroidered with thousands of flowers, from the earliest violet and primrose, the wood-anemone, the wood-sorrel, the daffodil, and the wild hyacinth of spring, to the wood-vetch, the woodroof, the campanulas, and the orchises of summer ;—for all the English orchises are here: that which so curiously imitates the dead oak leaf, that again which imitates the human figure ; the communest but most pretty bee orchis, and the parallel ones which are called after the spider, the frog, and the fly. Strange freak of nature, thus, in a lower order of creation, to mimic her own handy-works in a higher !—to mimic even our human mimicry for that which is called the man orchis is most like the imitation of a human figure that a child might cut from colored paper. Strange, strange mimicry! but full of variety, full of beauty, full of odor. Of all the fragrant blossoms that haunt the woods, I know none so exquisite as that night-scented orchis which is called indifferently, the butterfly or the lily of the vall-y. Another glory of these woods, an autumnal glory, is the whole fungus tribe, various and innumerable as the mosses; from the sober drab-colored fungi, spotted with white, which so much resemble a sea-egg, to those whose deep and gorgeous hues would shame the tinting of an Indian shell. Truffles, too, are found beneath the earth ; and above it are deposited huge masses of the strange compound called in modern geological phrase Agglomerate. Flint, and coral, and gravel, and attrited pebbles enter into the combination of this extraordinary natural conglomeration, which no steel, however hardened, can separate, and which seems to have been imitated very successfully by the old builders in their cements and the substances used in the filling up of their grandest structures, as may be seen in the layers which unite the enormous slabs of granite in the Roman walls at Silchester, as well as in the works of the old monkish architects at Reading Abbey. Another beauty of this country is to be found in the fields—now of the deep-red clover, with its shining crimson tops, now of the gay and brilliant saintfoin (the holy hay), the bright pink of whose flowery spikes gives to the ground the look of a bed of roses.

And now we reach the gate that admits us down a steep descent to the Rectory-house, a large, substantial mansion, covered with Banksia roses, and finely placed upon a natural terrace-a fertile valley below, and its own woods and orchard-trees above.

My friend the rector, raciest of men, is an Oxford divine of the old school; a ripe scholar; one who has traveled wide and far, and is learned in the tongues, the manners, and the literature of many nations; but who is himself English to the backbone in person, thought, and feeling. Orthodox is he, no doubt. Nowhere are church and schools, and parish visitings, better cared for; but he has a knack of attending also to the creature comforts of all about him, of calling beef and blankets in aid of his precepts, which has a wonderful effect in promoting their efficacy. Mansion and man are large alike, and alike overflowing with hospitality and kindliness. His original and poignant conversation is so joyous and good-humored, the making every body happy is so evidently his predorninant taste, that the pungency only adds to the flavor of his talk, and never casts a moment's shade over its sunny heartiness. *

Right opposite the Rectory terrace, framed like a picture by the rarest and stateliest trees, stands the object of my pilgrimage, Grays' Court, a comparatively modern house, erected among the remains of a vast old castellated mansion, belonging first to the noble family of Gray, who gave their name, not merely to the manor, but to the district; then to the house of Knollys; and latterly to the Stapletons, two venerable ladies of that name being its present possessors.

life I had heard of Grays' Court; of the rich, yet wild

All my

* Since this passage was written my kind and valued friend is no more.

country in which it is placed ; of the park so finely undulated, and so profusely covered by magnificent timber; of the huge old towers which seem to guard and sentinel the present house ; of the far extended walls, whose foundations may yet be traced, in dry seasons, among the turf of the lawn ; of the traditions which assign the demolition of those ancient walls to the wars of the Commonwealth ; and of the strange absence of all documentary evidence upon the subject.

Another cause for my strong desire to see this interesting place, is to be found in its association with one of those historical personages in whom I have always taken the warmest interest. Lord Essex (whose mother was the famous Lettice Knollys, who had had for her second husband another of Queen Elizabeth's favorites, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester), when confined in London, a prey to the tyranny of Elizabeth, petitioned, in one of those eloquent letters to the Virgin Queen which will always remain among the earliest and finest specimens of English prose, to be allowed to repair, for the benefit of his health, " to Master Comptroller's house at Grays.” Ah! we can fancy, when looking over this lovely valley, with its woods, its verdure, its sweep of hills, its feeling of the near river, we can well fancy how the poet-heart of the great Earl must have longed to leave the trial, the turmoil, the jangling, the treachery, the weary fears, the bitter humiliations of his London captivity, and to taste once more the sweet air, the pleasant sights, the calmness and the quiet of the country. Hope and comfort must have come with the thought. One of the prettiest pictures that I know is an extract from a cotemporary letter, in the first volume of Mr. Craik's most interesting book, " The Romance of the Peerage," telling of the Earl and Countess, during one of the daily visits that she was at one time permitted to pay him when he was a prisoner in Essex House, walking together in the garden, "now he, now she, reading one to the other." The whole taste and feeling of the man, the daily habit of his life, is shown in this little circumstance. And this is the brave soldier who, when examined before the Privy Council, a council composed of open enemies and treacherous friends, had been kept nearly all day kneeling at the bottom of the table. Tyranny drove him into madness, and then exacted the full penalty of the wild acts which that madness prompted. But Essex was a man in advance of his age; the companion as well as the patron of poets : the protector of Papist and Puritan; the fearless asserter of liberty of conscience! He deserved a truer friend than Bacon, a more merciful judge than Elizabeth.

To the house of Knollys belongs another interesting association, that strangest of genealogical romances, the great case of the Banbury peerage. The cause was decided (if decided it can be called even now) by evidence found in the parish register of. Rotherfield Grays.

The place has yet another attraction in its difficulty of access ; the excellent ladies of the Court admitting few beyond their own immediate connections and nearest friends. One class, to be sure, finds its way there as if by instinct—the poor, who, as the birds of the air detect the grain under the surface in the newlysown ground, are sure to find out the soil where charity lies germinating. Few excepting these constant visitors are admitted. But, beside the powerful introduction of our mutual friend the rector, a nephew of theirs, and his most sweet and interesting wife, had for some time inhabited the house which had been the home of my own youth, so that my name was not strange to them; and they had the kindness to allow me to walk over their beautiful grounds and gardens, to see their charming Swiss dairy, with its marbles and its china, and, above all, to satisfy my curiosity by looking over the towers which still remain of the old castle-piles whose prodigious thickness of wall and distance from each other give token of the immense extent and importance of the place. It is said to have been built round two courts. Alnwick and Windsor rose to my thoughts as I contemplated these gigantic remains, and calculated the space that the original edifice must have covered. One of the old buildings is still occupied by the well of the castle, a well three hundred feet deep, which supplies the family with water. It will give some idea of the scale of the great mansion to say that the wheel by which the water is raised is twenty-five feet in diameter. Two donkeys are employed in the operation. One donkey suffices for the parallel but much smaller well at Carisbrook, where the animal is so accustomed to be put in for the mere purpose of exhibiting the way in which the water is raised to the visitors who go to look at the poor king's last prison, that he just niakes the one turn necessary to show the working of the machine, and then stops of his own accord. The donkeys at Grays, kept for use and not for show, have not had a similar opportunity of displaying their sagacity.

One can not look at the place without a feeling of adaptedness. It is the very spot for a stronghold of the cavaliers; a spot where Lovelace and Montrose might each have fought and each have sung, defending it to the last loaf of bread and the last charge of powder, and yielding only to the irresistible force of Cromwell's cannonade.

Much interest is imparted to the lays of these cavalier poets, when we consider the circumstances under which they were written. They were no carpet knights, pouring forth effusions of chivalrous loyalty in the security of a Court, or to amuse the leisure of a mild and temporary captivity ; but for that very loyalty which they boasted so loudly, Montrose lay under sentence of death, and Richard Lovelace was pining in the crowded and lothsome prison called the Gatehouse at Westminster. Perhaps the fate of the great Marquis was the happier of the two. He fell with the fame and consolations of a martyr, as his master had fallen before him; while his brother poet was indeed released by the ascendant party after the death of the King, when the royalists were so scattered and broken as to be no longer formidable ; but when at last set free he was penniless; the lady of his love (Lucy Sacheverel), hearing that he had died of his wounds at Dunkirk, was married to another person; and oppressed with want and misery, he fell into a consumption. Wood relates that “ he became very poor in body and purse, was the object of charity, went in ragged clothes, and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places,” in one of which, situated in some alley near Shoe Lane, he died in 1658. What a reverse for one whose gallant bearing and splendid person seem to have corresponded so entirely with the noble and chivalrous spirit of his poetry! Faults and virtues, Richard Lovelace, as a man and as a writer, may be taken as an impersonation of the cavalier of the civil wars, with much to charm the reader, and still more to captivate the fair.


When love, with unconfined wings,

Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings

To whisper at my grates;

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