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THE FORCE OF PRAYER. *
THE FOUNDING OF BOLTON PRIORY.
"What is good for a bootless bene?" With these dark words begins my Tale;
And their meaning is, whence can comfort spring When Prayer is of no avail ?
"What is good for a bootless bene?"
The Falconer to the Lady said;
And she made answer,
66 ENDLESS SORROW!"
For she knew that her son was dead.
She knew it by the Falconer's words,
And from the look of the Falconer's eye;
And from the love which was in her soul
For her youthful Romilly.
-Young Romilly through Barden woods.
Is ranging high and low;
And holds a greyhound in a leash,
To let slip upon buck or doe.
The pair have reached that fearful chasm,
How tempting to bestride
For lordly Wharf is there pent in
With rocks on either side.
This striding-place is called THE STRID,
A name which it took of yore;
A thousand years hath it borne that name,
And shall a thousand more.
* See the White Doe of Rylstone.
And hither is young Romilly come,
And what may now forbid
That he, perhaps for the hundredth time,
Shall bound across THE STRID ?
He sprang in glee,—for what cared he
That the river was strong, and the rocks were
But the greyhound in the leash hung back,
And checked him in his leap.
The Boy is in the arms of Wharf,
And strangled by a merciless force,
For never more was young Romilly seen
Till he rose a lifeless corse.
Now there is stillness in the vale,
And long, unspeaking sorrow:
Wharf shall be to pitying hearts
A name more sad than Yarrow.
If for a lover the Lady wept,
A solace she might borrow
From death, and from the passion of death;-
Old Wharf might heal her sorrow.
She weeps not for the wedding-day
Which was to be to-morrow:
Her hope was a further-looking hope,
And hers is a mother's sorrow.
He was a tree that stood alone,
And proudly did its branches wave;
And the root of this delightful tree
Was in her husband's grave!
Long, long in the darkness did she sit,
And her first words were, "Let there be
In Bolton, on the field of Wharf,
A stately Priory !"
The stately Priory was reared;
And Wharf, as he moved along,
To matins joined a mournful voice,
Nor failed at even-song.
And the Lady prayed in heaviness,
That looked not for relief!
But slowly did her succor come,
And a patience to her grief.
Oh! there is never sorrow of heart
That shall lack a timely end,
If but to God we turn, and ask
Of Him to be our friend!
Yet we, who are transgressors in this kind,
Dwelling retired in our simplicity
AMID the smoke of cities did you pass
The time of early youth; and there you learned, From years of quiet industry, to love The living Beings by your own fire-side, With such a strong devotion, that your heart
Is slow to meet the sympathies of them
Who look upon the hills with tenderness,
And make dear friendship with the streams and
Among the woods and fields, we love
Joanna! and I guess, since you have been
So dist from us now for two long years,
That you will gladly listen to discourse,
However trivial, if you thence be taught
That they, with whom you once were happy, talk
Familiarly of you and of old times.
While I was seated, now some ten days past Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop Their ancient neighbor, the old steeple-tower, The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by Came forth to greet me; and when he had asked "How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid! And when will she return to us?" he paused; And, after short exchange of village news, He with grave looks demanded, for what cause, Reviving obsolete idolatry,
I, like a Runic Priest, in characters
Of formidable size had chiselled out
Some uncouth name upon the native rock,
Above the Rotha, by the forest-side.
Now, by those dear immunities of heart
Engendered between malice and true love,
I was not loath to be so catechized,
And this was my reply:-" As it befel
One summer morning we had walked abroad
At break of day, Joanna and myself.
-T was that delightful season when the broom,
Full-flowered, and visible on every steep,
Along the copses runs in veins of gold.
Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks;
And when we came in front of that tall rock
That eastward looks, I there stopped short-and stood
Tracing the lofty barrier with my eye
From base to summit; such delight I found
To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower
That intermixture of delicious hues,
Along so vast a surface, all at once,
In one impression, by connecting force.
Of their own beauty, imaged in the heart.
--When I had gazed perhaps two minutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laughed aloud.
The Rock, like something starting from a sleep
Took up the Lady's voice, and laughed again;
That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag
Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-scar,
And the tall Steep of Silver-how, sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Louhrigg heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone;
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the Lady's voice,-old Skiddaw blew
His speaking-trumpet;-back out of the clouds
Of Glarmara southward came the voice;
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head.
-Now whether (said I to our cordial Friend,
Who in the hey-day of astonishment
Smiled in my face) this were in simple truth
A work accomplished by the brotherhood
Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touched
With dreams and visionary impulses
To me alone imparted, sure I am
That there was a loud uproar in the hills.
And, while we both were listening, to my side
The fair Joanna drew, as if she wished
To shelter from some object of her fear.
-And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen moons