« НазадПродовжити »
Of course, the regular seasonal operations of nature have totally obliterated all appearances of the disorder which must have been visible for some time after the event. Everything Jooks as though it had always been as it is now. Still, the place and the name reminded us of Mr. Fletcher, and of his watchful anxiety to avail himself of every occurrence to promote the spiritual good of his parishioners. Easily could we imagine that we saw the alarmed and curious crowds congregated on the spot, gazing around them with countenances expressing their apprehensions for their own safety. Undermined with pits as are so many parts of the neighbourhood, each would fear that the spot on which stood his own dwelling, might, in a similar manner, be removed from its place. And there stands Mr. Fletcher. Determined to improve this, as well as every other incident, he is addressing them on the sublimities of the last day, when the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and the dead, small and great, be summoned to their final account; and he is calling them—already powerfully moved by what had taken place, the evidences of which were before and around them—to prepare to meet their God and Judge. Who can tell but that landslip was the instrument of bringing some immortal souls to serious thought and eternal salvation ?
A mile or two farther and we had arrived at the end of our journey onwards. We were in a pleasant valley, formed by slightly elevated and verdant hills, between which flowed the Severn. On one side a narrow slip of rich meadow-land spread from the banks of the river to the foot of the hill; and where the ground begins to rise stands the ruins of an old abbey,—Buildwas Abbey. I could not help thinking of Tintern Abbey, standing in a situation somewhat more wild and romantic, but yet, in many respects, as calm and retired as this. These old Monks knew how to select good sites for the religious houses they built. The meadow between the Abbey and the river had contained a large garden, and beyond this there would be capital pasturage for flocks and herds, while fish would be found in the river. Most of the remains of the former erection may be traced in the large farm-house, and its stables, &c., now standing on the spot;
but the chapel still stands alone, its walls and pillars in as good a state of preservation as can be desired for ruins, whose picturesque effect would be altogether lost by too much entireness. Walking up and down the meadow, that I might view the “Remains" in various aspects, I could not help thinking that though, in too many of these erections, and especially among the higher officers, there was often a melancholy, a criminal forgetfulness of their character and objects, yet among the poorer Monks there had been frequently found instances of a sincere though mistaken piety. If in country churchyards there may be deposited the remains of “ village Hampdens,” or “mute, inglorious Miltons,” so, on this meadow may have walked, musing and meditating, but keeping his meditations within the recesses of his own heart, only seeking his own spiritual good, some devoted Thomas à Kempis, who at length slept in peace, and was gathered to his brothers near yon chapel.
Here, literally, should end my excursion to Madeley; but I have added, " and its neighbourhood," because I have one more view to describe, neither far distant from Madeley, nor altogether unconnected with it. I had often heard of a customary “health” among Salopians, enjoying each other's company when absent from Shropshire : “To all about the Wrekin.” I had also learned at school that the “ Wrekin ” was one of the mountains and hills of England, and belonging to Shropshire. I had not, however, seen it; and what sort of a hill it was, I knew not. Walking in the grounds before my friend's house, the morning after my arrival, and looking towards the northward and westward, I saw the higher part of a singularly formed hill. The nearer horizon was not distant above three or four miles, and very rugged, from the number of pits in that quarter, and not by any means lofty. But stretching along from east to west was an eminence, something in the form of a long and not deeply-curved bow, seemingly two or three miles long, and ranging generally about east and west. It appeared to be seven or eight miles off, and looked like the prolonged summit of a very elevated piece of moorland. Pointing to it, I asked what it was. The answer was, “O, that is the Wrekin, the celebrated Shropshire hill; visible from
so many parts of the county, that it has become the symbol and watchword of a Shropshire-man's home." It was then added, that the view from the highest part was one of the most splendid in England, and that, “of course I must ascend the Wrekin before I left that part of the country.” This, however, I found I could do most easily in connexion with my visit to Wellington, some eight or nine miles from Madeley.
At Wellington I preached on the following Sabbath forenoon; and in the afternoon proceeded to Shrewsbury, for the service there in the evening. The Wellington meeting was to be held on the Monday evening: my fellow-traveller and myself had fixed on Monday forenoon, should the day be favourable, for the ascent of the Wrekin. The morning promised a fine day, and as I sat on the coach on my way to Wellington, I had the opportunity of noticing the general position of the hill. It is a lofty hill, several hundred feet high, and from two to three miles long; the top being a ridge almost as long, though highest at the western end. The eastern acclivity begins to rise at a very short distance from Wellington, and the side-slopes (so to call them) ascend, first very gradually, but, after the breadth of a field or two, more steeply, from the road-side. The hill is thus a long, lofty ridge; and, speaking generally, and without any reference to its mineralogical character, but solely according to its appearance, it may be described as standing alone.
We found the ascent somewhat toilsome, especially as the weather was warm ; but when we had gained the highest point, everything of toil was forgotten. The trees (for the whole hill is one large wood) hindered the circle from being complete to those who stood on the ground; but there was a large piece of timber fixed in the earth, by means of which we were enabled to look all around. And a more magnificent view I never beheld; very few at all approaching to it. On every side, east, west, north, and south, the prospect was almost equally extensive. The average radius could not be less than a line of fifty miles. The Welsh mountains,—Cadr Idris and Plinlimmon among them,—the Cheshire plains, the Derbyshire hills, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the almost cloudy Malvern; the nearer ranges of the Shropshire hills, and those about Brecon,presented a natural panorama which the eye seemed as though it could never be tired of beholding. Walking about, we observed the different positions in detail, admiring most that which happened to be then spreading before us. The Severn wandering through its meadows, Madeley, CoalbrookDale, and Broseley, with their smoking furnaces, appeared almost beneath us. To see that landscape alone would amply recompense a longer journey than either my friend or myself had taken. Description is impossible. It was one vast circle of beauty; and among the recollections of both of us, on such subjects, at all events, those which recall our visit to the top of the Salopian Wrekin will not be the least pleasant.
ORIENTAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE
LANGUAGE. Genesis xix. 26.—"His wife looked back from behind him." “ From behind him.” This seems to imply that she was following her husband, as is the custom at this day.
When men or women leave their house, they never look back, as “it would be very unfortunate.” Should a husband have left anything which his wife knows he will require, she will not call on him to turn or look back; but will either take the article herself, or send it by another. Should a man, on some great emergency, have to look back, he will not then proceed on the business he was about to transact. When a person goes along the road, (especially in the evening,) he will take great care not to look back, “because the evil spirits would assuredly seize him.” When they go on a journey, they will not look behind, though the palanquin or bandy should be close upon them : they step a little on one side, and then look at you. Should a person have to leave the house of a friend after sunset, he will be advised in going home not to look back : “As much as possible keep your eyes closed; fear not.” Has a person made an offering to the evil spirits ? he must take particular care, when he leaves the place, not to look back. A female known to me is believed
to have got her crooked neck by looking back. Such observations as the following may be often heard in private conversation :—“Have you heard that Comāran is very ill ?” “No: what is the matter with him ?” “Matter! why he has looked back, and the evil spirit has caught him.”
Genesis xxiii. 7.—" Abraham bowed himself to the people of the land.” The politeness of Abraham may be seen exemplified among the highest and the lowest of the people of the East: in this respect, nature seems to have done for them what art has done for others. With what grace do all classes bow on receiving a favour, or in paying their respects to a superior! Sometimes they bow down to the ground; at other times they put their hands on their bosoms, and gently incline the head ; they also put the right hand on the face, in a longitudinal position ; and sometimes give a long and graceful sweep with the right hand, from the forehead to the ground.
Genesis xxüi. 15.-“ My Lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver.” Respectable people are always saluted with the dignified title, “ My Lord :" hence English gentlemen, on their arrival, are apt to suppose they are taken for those of very high rank.
The man of whom Abraham offered to purchase Machpelah affected to give the land. “ Nay, my Lord, hear me; the field I give thee.” And this fully agrees with the conduct of those who are requested to dispose of a thing to a person of superior rank. Let the latter go and ask the price, and the owner will say, “ My Lord, it will be a great favour if you will take it." "Ah! let me have that pleasure, my Lord.” Should the possessor believe he will one day need a favour from the great man, nothing will induce him to sell the article ; and he will take good care (through the servants or a friend) that it shall soon be in his house. Should he, however, have no expectations of a favour in future, he will say, as Ephron, “The thing is worth so much; your pleasure, my Lord.”
Genesis xxiv. 47.—“And I put the ear-ring upon her face.” Nothing is more common than for heathen females to have a ring in the nose ; and this has led some to suppose, that the jewel here alluded to was put into that member, and not on