Page images

at length, resolved plainly to tell him the judgment which he had formed, at the same time acquainting him with the futility of the rules of art on which he had proceeded. With this resolution he walk, ed out upon the terrace.

If the view of the scene around Ellangowan had been pleasing by moonlight, it lost none of its beauty by the light of the morning sun. The land, even in the month of November, smiled under its influence. A steep, but regular ascent, led, from the terrace to the neighbouring emi. nence, and conducted Mannering to the; front of the old castle. It consisted of two massive round towers, projecting, deeply and darkly, before a curtain, or flat wall, which united them, and thus protecting the main entrance that opened through a lofty a rch into the inner court of the castle. The arms of the family, carved in freestone, frowned over the gateway, and the portal shewed the spaces arranged by the architect for lowering the portcullis, and raising the

draw-bridge. A rude farm-gate, made of young fir-trees nailed together, now formed the only safeguard of this once formidable entrance. The esplanade in front of the castle commanded a noble prospect.

The dreary scene of desolation through which Mannering's road had lain on the preceding evening was excluded from the view by some rising grounds, and the landscape shewed a pleasing alternation of hill. and dale, intersected by a river, which was in some places visible, and hidden in others where it rolled betwixt deep and wooded banks. The spire of a church, and the appearance of some houses, indicated the situation of a village at the place where the stream had its junction with the ocean. The vales seemed well cultivated, the little enclosures into which they were divided skirting the bottom of the hills, and sometimes carrying their lines of straggling hedge. rows a little way up the asceut. Above these were green pastures, tenanted chiefly by herds of black cattle, then the staple

commodity of the country, whose distant low gave no unpleasing animation to the landscape. The remoter hills were of a sterner character; and, at still greater distance, swelled into mountains of dark heath, bordering the horizon with a screen which gave a defined and limited boundary to the cultivated country, and added, at the same time, the pleasing idea, that it was sequestered and solitary. The sea-coast, which Mannering now saw in its extent, corresponded in variety and beauty with the inland view. In some places it rose into tall rocks, frequently crowned with the ruins of old buildings, towers, or beacons, which, according to tradition, were placed within sight of each other, that, in times of invasion or civil war, they might communicate by signal for mutual defence and protection. Ellangowan castle was by far the most extensive and important of these ruins, and asserted, from size and situation, the superiority which its founders were said


once to have possessed among the chiefs and nobles of the district. In other places, the shore was of a more gentle description, indented with small bays, where the land sloped smoothly down, or sent into the sea promontories covered with wood.

A scene so different from what last night's journey had presaged, produced a proportional effect upon Mannering. Beneath his eye lay the modern house ; an awkward mansion, indeed, in point of architecture, but well situated, and with a warm and pleasant exposure.

" How happily,” thought our hero, “would life glide on in such a retirement ! On the one hand the striking remnants of ancient grandeur, with the secret consciousness of

family pride which they inspire; on the 4 other, enough of modern elegance and

comfort to satisfy every moderate wish. Here then, and with thee, Sophia !"

We shall not pursue a lover's day-dream any farther. Mannering stood a minute

with his arms folded, and then turned to the ruined castle.

Upon entering the gateway, he found that the rude magnificence of the inner court amply corresponded with the grandeur of the exterior. On the one side ran a range

of windows lofty and large, divided by carved mullions of stone, which had once lighted the great hall of the castle; on the other were various buildings of different heights and dates, yet so united as to present to the eye a certain general effect of uniformity of front. The doors and windows were ornamented with. projections exhibiting rude specimens of sculpture and tracery, partly entire and partly broken down, partly covered by ivy and trailing plants, which grew luxu-, riantly among the ruins. That end of the. court which faced the entrance had also. been formerly closed by a range of buildings; but owing, it was said, to its having been battered by the ships of the Parlia. ment under Deane, during the long civil

« PreviousContinue »