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Some explanation is requisite, for the attempt made in the following short poem, to bring back the scenes of olden time, in “fancy's colouring drest.” Presumptuous perhaps it is, to allude to the great examples which I have assayed to follow in this walk. To those, who lifting the veil from buried years, have drawn from the solemn pageant of history, scenes and characters, which ever live before the “mind's eye,” in all the vividness of reality. The Percys, the Cliffords, and the Nevilles, with all the defunct nobles of those stormy times, live again, in the immortal dramas of Shakspeare. And how have the historical romances of the Poet of Abbotsford, thrown light and lasting interest, over manners and events past away into the dim distance of time. To descend to my own humble effort, after recurring to these adornments of our literature, is like bringing the feeble light of a taper, before the noon of day. I have no facts, wherewith to engage interest for
Nun," she is altogether ideal, if a character may be called so, which has doubtless had many a prototype in Monastic times. The scene is laid at about the close of the fourteenth century. There is, I trust, nothing incongruous with the history of that period, in the symptoms of Protestantism evinced by the Nun, who is supposed to have imbibed her enlightened sentiments from a mother, educated in the pure faith of the valleys of Piedmont. It is true, that in the “populous solitudes of the religious houses, there were doubtless many sincere and righteous servants of God; many, who fled thither, from the sorrows of life, with no other desire than to pass the rest of their sojourning in privacy and peace," * but the grievous oppression and religious thraldom of the system, stand still prominent, and unsoftened in their repulsiveness by these isolated instances. The mouldering relics of these fallen temples of pride and power, tell in their hoary grandeur of former supremacy, but how complete is their desolation ! where the vesper bell is heard no more, and the incense ceases to rise ! The penances, vows and pilgrimages, of a dark and long past era, rise on
* See Blunt on the Reformation.
the mind amidst such scenes, while all the unspeakable blessings of the Reformation seem to start from the gloom, dispersing the mis and shadows of that spiritual night.
To the lovers of fact, it may be some satisfaction to be informed, that a Cistertian Nunnery was founded at Gokeshill, by William de Alta Rissa, before 1185. Barham Chapel, belonging to the Nunnery, is now a farm-house, and the last remains of the ancient mansion of the De Veres, called “Vere Court,” is now a barn! The ruins of Thornton Abbey, so noble and picturesque in their majestic decay, have in their vicinity the remains of a Church excavated from the oblivion of the green turf within a few years past. The license allowed to poetic fiction has been claimed, in placing the Nun's final rest within the walls of that Church.
The wandering pilgrims of those days, were accustomed to be received at different religious houses, where they were supplied with food and temporary shelter. Harry Percy, surnamed Hot
spur, having had his fiery and impetuous spirit provoked by the imperious Bolingbroke, whose friend he had been, distinguished himself in defence of the White Rose of York, and was slain on Bramham Moor, in 1407. He married the sister of his friend Mortimer.
Lady Percy's tomb, under a richly sculptured arch, and Earl Percy's cap, the rusty remnant of his panoply of proof, are shown at this day in the Minster of Beverley. It would not outrage probability to suppose that the first was worn by the redoubtable Hotspur, and that the latter contains the dust of his “gentle Kate.”
I have now, only to entreat the candour of those, who, while perusing this poem, will wander through the ivy-mantled relics of the days of old.