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The chimes from yonder steeple
Ring merrily and loud, And groups of eager people
Towards their music crowd.
Before the altar's railing
A bride and bridegroom stand, And lacy folds are veiling
The loveliest in the land.
And every ear is trying,
While all beside is still, To hear the bride replying
Her soft but firm “I will.”
The soft "I will” is spoken,
A glance as soft exchanged, That vow shall ne'er be broken
Nor those fond hearts estranged.
Another train advances,
No bridal train is this,
And whispered words of bliss.
With youthful pride and pleasure
Approach a happy pair,
Within the church they bear.
Their babe is now receiving
Upon its placid face, The badge of the believing
The holy sign of grace.
Sweet babe! this world is hollow,
A world of woe and strife. Take up thy cross and follow
Where leads the Lord of Life.
Another train is wending
Within the church its way, Whilst prayers are still ascending
For blessings on that day.
But here no bride is blushing ;
And here no babe is blest; But mourners' tears are gushing
For one laid down to rest.
Bright dawns the bridal morning ;
The font to us is dear;
That's spoken to us here!
A blight may soon be falling
On joys however pure, But let us make our calling
And our election sure.
And then the day of sorrow
Which lays us in the earth, Shall have a brighter morrow
Than that which saw our birth.
The sweetness and melody of these stanzas, as well as their pervading holiness, render them no unfitting conclusion to this little garland of verses, varying in manner, but of which we may truly say that they are in tone and feeling most English and most feminine.
RICHARD LOVELACE, ROGER L'ESTRANGE, THE MARQUIS OF
If there be one thing more than another in the nice balance of tastes and prejudices (for I do not speak here of principles) which inclines us now to the elegance of Charles, now to the strength of Cromwell—which disgusts us alternately with the license of the Cavaliers and the fanaticism of the Roundheads ; it would be the melancholy ruin of cast-down castles and plundered shrines, that meet our eyes all over our fair land, and nowhere in greater profusion than in this district, lying as it does in the very midst of some of the most celebrated battles of the Civil Wars. To say nothing of the siege of Reading, which more even than the van
dalism of the Reformation completed the destruction of that noble abbey, the third in rank and size in England, with its magnificent church, its cloisters, and its halls, covering thirty acres of buildings—and such buildings ! within the outer courts ;-to say nothing of that most reckless barbarity just at our door-we in our little village of Aberleigh lie between Basing-House to the south, whose desperately defended walls offer little more now than a mere site--and Donnington to the west, where the ruined Gate towers upon the hill alone remain of that strong fortress, which overlooked the well-contested field of Newbury—and Chalgrove to the north, where the reaper as he binds his sheaf, still pauses to tell you the very place where Hampden fell ; every spot has its history! Look at a wooden spire, and your companion shakes his head, and says that it has been so ever since the Cavaliers blown
in the church. tower! Ask the history of a crumbling wall, and the answer is pretty sure to be, Cromwell! That his Highness the Lord Protector did leave what an accomplished friend of mine calls “his peculiar impressions upon a great many places in our neighbourhood is pretty certain ; on so many,
that there is no actual or authentic catalogue of all; and in some cases there is nothing but general tradition, and the nature of the “impressions” in question, to vouch for the fact of their destruction at that period.