Thursday, 26 November 2015

At Duty's Call

Out on the front
Where the battle's brunt
   Was heavy as war may be,
In a ruined town,
With the houses down,
   Where one might but wreckage see,
I reach two dwellings without a roof,
   Walls standing bare to heaven.
Where the shrapnel shells had awful proof
   Of disastrous fury given.

Here I found,
Amid havoc around,
   A shattered, roofless wreck,
Where, undismayed,
Two ladies stayed,
   In answer to duty's beck.
Desolation spread on every side,
   Yet there those ladies stayed,
And by ceaseless foraging supplied
   For the wounded soldiers' aid.

They worked every day
To shed some ray
   Of comfort on broken men;
In wet and dry
They found supply
   For their noble mission. Then
They rested and slept when passed daylight,
   Ready for any call;
While the cannons roared through the fearful night.
   In a way that might heroes appal.
Officers frowned,
Yet smiled when they found
   How the ladies felt no fear.
How they lived on
Where ruin won
   Everything far and near.
The town had been captured more than once
   Recaptured and captured again,
Again recaptured; and ever since
   The Germans attacked in vain.

Of the British race
In heart and face,
   Aristocrats born were they;
Nursed amid ease
Themselves to please,
   War brought this new display —
At duty's call their homes they left,
   Luxury, safety, all;
And at the front, of comfort bereft,
   They formed their hospital.

A roofless house,
All ruinous,
   Sheltered these dauntless two.
They gathered food
With a fortitude
   That angels' work could do,
Day by day, and night by night
   Succouring, cheering those
Who wounded fell in the ceaseless fight
   Against relentless foes.

So there they were,
That noble pair,
   Worthy of Fatherland,
Doing Christ's work
Where perils lurk
   At duty's stern command,
An honour to gracious womanhood,
   A glory to human name,
Caring for nothing but doing good,
   Nothing for empty fame.

But when the scroll
Of heroes unroll,
   And the names of martyrs stand
Emblazoned abroad
In the smile of God,
   The noblest from every land,
Methinks, those two shall wear a light
   Of beauty and high renown,
And on each brow shall be stainless bright
   Christ's gift, an immortal crown.

R. W. R. Rentoul

This poem was entitled "What an American Lady saw at the Front" and was printed in The Witness, 26th November 1915.
Image: Nurses treating soldiers at a clearing station in France (Mary Evans Picture Library).

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Isle of the Druids

The Druids bringing in the Mistletoe
by George Henry and Edward Atkinson Hornel 1890
(Glasgow Museum)
It is universally agreed that the Druids derived their name from that superstitious reverence they paid to the oak: "Deru," in the Saxon language, signifying an oak. They were composed of the highest orders of the people, the commonalty, for obvious reasons, being excluded from the arcana of their political system, whereby a strict alliance was formed between the Church and State; and this union rendered them awful to the people, and necessary to those who were placed in elevated stations of life by birth, education, or employment.

Their hair they wore short, but their beards very long. In their hands they carried a wand, and an enchased ornament, called the Druid's egg, was hung about the neck. Their garments – a kind of loose gown – reached down to the ground, but when engaged in religious ceremonies they always wore a surplice.

The Isle of Anglesea was their chief seat of residence, where they had their principal seminary, and held an annual meeting of the States. Such was the reputation of this seat of the muses that the children of the Gauls were sent for education hither. Ireland had its Druids also. The Druids have been distinguished by historians into three orders or classes – namely, (1) Druids, properly so called, (2) Bards, and (3) Vates or Eubates.

Those who ranked under the first class united a secular with an ecclesiastical authority, by regulating all public affairs, presiding over the mysteries of religion, offering all grand expiatory sacrifices, adjusting religious ceremonies; nay, their power extended to life and effects, respecting which their decisions were final; yet they were all in subordination to one Arch-Druid, elected from their body by a majority. This primate, or coiphi, enjoyed his supremacy during life; his person was held sacred, and the power of excommunication and deposing kings at his pleasure depended upon his will, which was absolute.

The Druids of the second order, styled Bards, were not only priests, but national preceptors, heralds, poets, and musicians. To them was committed the important trust of educating children of all ranks. Their memory was the repository containing the noble exploits of their heroes. These, on public occasions, they sung in verses of their own composing, accompanied with harps or a chorus of youths; but at their solemn religious ceremonies they also sang hymns.

Those of the third class were the Vates, who devoted themselves to the study of physic, natural philosophy, astronomy, magic, divination, and augury; in the knowledge of which they were skilled to a degree that seemed above the pitch of mental knowledge in the eyes of the ignorant people. Rowlands, in his Mona Antiqua, imagines that the "second sight" (in which he seems to believe) called Taish in Scotland, to be a relic of Druidism, and builds his conjecture upon this noted story, related by Vopiscus, who says:–
"Diocletian, when a private soldier, in Gallia, on his removing thence, reckoning with his hostess, a Druid woman, she told him he was too penurious, but that he need not be so sparing of his money, for after he should kill a boar she assured him (looking steadfastly in his face) he would be Emperor of Rome. These words made a great impression upon him, and he was afterwards much delighted in hunting and killing boars, often saying, when he saw many made emperors, and his own fortune not mending, 'I kill the boars, but it is others eat their flesh.' However, many years after, Arrius Aper, father-in-law of the Emperor Numerianus, grasping for the empire, treacherously slew him, on which fact being brought by the soldiers before Diocletian (then become a prime commander in the army), he asked his name, and being told he was called Aper – i.e., a boar – without further pause sheathed his sword in his side, saying 'Et hunc aprum cum caeteris,' which done the soldiers saluted him emperor."

Druids sacrificing to the sun in their temple called Stonehenge
by Nathaniel Whittoc (1791-1850)
engraving based in Dr. Stuckley Oxford-Ashmolean Museum

Although the policy of the Druids would never suffer their laws and religious tenets to be handed down in writing, it being their custom to teach their disciples everything by heart, a Bayardan author has been at some pains to collect some of the Druidical maxims, or rules, of which the most remarkable are these:–
"None must be instructed, but in the sacred groves."
"Mistletoe is to be gathered with reverence, and if possible, in the sixth moon. It must be cut with a golden bill."
"Everything derives its origin from heaven."
"The arcana of the sciences must not be committed to writing, but to the memory."
"Great care is to be taken of the education of children."
"The disobedient are to be shut out from the sacrifices."
"Souls are immortal."
"The soul after death goes into other bodies."
"If the world is destroyed it will be by fire or water."
"Upon extraordinary emergencies a man must be sacrificed."
"According as the body falls, or moves after it has fallen, according as the blood flows, or the wound opens, future events are foretold."
"Prisoners of war are to be slain upon the altars, or burnt alive, enclosed in wicker, in honour of the gods."
"All commerce with strangers must be prohibited."
"He that comes last to the assembly of the States ought to be punished with death."
"Children are to be brought up apart from their parents until they are fourteen years of age."
"Money lent in this world will be repaid in the next."
"There is another world, and those who kill themselves to accompany their friends thither will live with them there."
"Letters given to dying persons, or thrown on the funeral piles of the dead, will faithfully be delivered in the other world."
"The moon is a sovereign remedy for all things," as its name in Celtic implies.
"Let the disobedient be excommunicated; let him be deprived of the benefit of the law; let him be avoided by all, and rendered incapable of any employment." Query – Can this be the origin of boycotting?

All masters of families are kings in their own houses; they have a power of life and death over their wives, children, and slaves."

Human sacrifice by a Gaulish Druid
by Felix Philippoteaux
from Histoire de France by L P Anquetil 1851
The most remarkable monument of antiquity in our islands, if we take into account its comparative preservation, as well as its grandeur, is Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, the chief temple and seat of justice of the Druids, or Baal worshippers. It originally consisted of an outer circle of thirty stones, fourteen feet high, and upon the tops of them was carried throughout a continuous impost of large flat stones of the same width. An inner circle, enclosing a diameter of 83 feet, appears to have consisted of much smaller stones, without imposts, but about the same in number as the outer circle. Within the second circle were five large stones with an impost, with three smaller stones in advance of each; these have been called the trilithons. The circles were called "Doom Rings," or circles of judgment; the flat stones of the interior were the "cromlechs," or altars on which the victims were sacrificed. They are great stone scaffolds, raised just high enough for such horrid exhibitions, and just large enough in all their proportions and so contrived as to render the whole visible to the greatest multitude of people. The officiating priest, pouring a libation upon a man as a victim, smote him upon the breast, near the throat; and on his falling, both from the manner of his fall, and from the convulsions of his limbs, and still more from the flowing of his blood, they presaged what would come to pass.

The rocking stones, or "Dolmans," masses of granite or sandstone often weighing more than six or seven hundred tons, which are so exquisitely poised that they can be moved by the touch of a finger, were other great adjuncts to the system of terror and superstition by which the Druids maintained their influence; they sought to appal and govern the popular mind by imparting a more than natural grandeur to some great work of nature, by connecting it with some effort of ingenuity which was under the direction of their rude science.

Druidical circles are not confined to England or Scotland. On the opposite shores of Brittany the great remains of Carnac exhibit a structure of far greater extent even than Abury or Stonehenge, or in Co. Kerry. In hazlewood deer-park, near Sligo, there is a Megalithic structure on Irish soil – and another near Rosscarbery, Cork, and two doom rings in slime and mortar, like the tower of Babel, at "Shannon" that are as rare as Kit's "Cotty Stools," in Kent. Cromlechs and Raths and Duns are numerous throughout Ireland.

At the little village of Stanton Drew, in the County of Somerset, about seven miles east of the road between Bristol and Wells, stands a well-known Druidical monument, which, in the opinion of Dr. Stukeley, was more ancient than that at Abury. It consists (according to a recent writer) of four groups of stones, forming (or rather having formed when complete) two circles, and two other figures, one an ellipse. Although the largest stones are much inferior in their dimensions to those at Stonehenge and Abury, they are by no means contemptible, some of them being nine feet in height, and twenty-two feet in girth. There is a curious tradition very prevalent among the country people respecting the origin of these ruins, which they designate the "Evil Wedding," for the following good and substantial reasons:–
Many hundred years ago, on a Saturday evening, a newly-married couple, with their relatives and friends, met on the spot now covered by these ruins to celebrate their nuptials. Here they feasted and danced right merrily until the clock tolled the hour of midnight, when the piper (a pious man) refused to play any longer. This was much against the wish of the guests, and so exasperated the bride, who was fond of dancing, that she swore with an oath she would not be baulked of her enjoyment by a beggarly piper, but would find a substitute if she went to the infernal regions to fetch one. She had scarcely uttered these words, when a venerable old man, with a long beard, made his appearance, and having listened to their request, proffered his services, which were right gladly accepted.
The old gentleman (who was no other than the arch-fiend himself) having taken the seat vacated by the godly piper, commenced playing a slow and solemn air, which, on the guests remonstrating, he changed into one more lively and rapid. The company now began to dance, but soon found themselves impelled round the performer so rapidly and mysteriously that they would all fain have rested. But when they essayed to retire, they found, to their consternation, that they were moving faster and faster round their diabolical musician, who had now resumed his original shape. Their cries for mercy were unheeded, until the first glimmering of day warned the fiend that he must depart. With such rapidity had they moved, that the gay and sportive assembly were now reduced to a ghastly troop of skeletons. "I leave you," said the fiend, "a monument of my power and your wickedness to the end of time": which saying, he vanished. The villagers on rising in the morning, found the meadow strewn with large pieces of stone, and the pious piper lying under a hedge, half dead with fright, he having been a witness to the whole transaction.
The Druids, or the Conversion of the Britons to Christianity, engraved
by Simon Francois Ravenet. Printed in 1778 (engraving) by Francis Hayman.

Possibly Burns may have heard the above-mentioned story before he wrote his poem on "Tam o' Shanter." Her Majesty Queen Victoria was fond of hearing it recited at Balmoral in years that are flown.

The earliest name borne by Iona was Innis-nan Druidneach, or Isle of the Druids. This appellation indicates that before St. Columba introduced Christianity into the Hebrides, Iona was occupied as a seat of Druidical worship.

The Isle of Anglesea was a famous abode of Druidism until Suetonius, a Roman general, destroyed them, their rude temples, doom rings, and circles of judgment (A.D. '61).

Tacitus says that from the greatness of the heavenly bodies they inferred that the gods could neither be enclosed with walls, nor assimilated to any human form.

Our "Bonfire Night" had its origin in the Druids Be-il-tin, or fire of the gods. It was converted into a vigil in honour of St. John.

The Druids now whilst arms are heard no more,
Old mysteries and barbarous rites restore.
A tribe who singular religion love,
And haunt the lonely coverts of the grove.

Written by Rev. Canon French in the Church of Ireland Gazette, 20th February 1914.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Between Midnight and Morning

You that have faith to look with fearless eyes
     Beyond the tragedy of a world at strife,
And trust that out of night and death shall rise
               The dawn of ampler life;

Rejoice, whatever anguish rend your heart,
     That God has given you, for a priceless dower,
To live in these great times and have your part
               In Freedom’s crowning hour.

That you may tell your sons who see the light
     High in the heaven, their heritage to take:—
“I saw the powers of darkness put to flight!
               I saw the morning break!”

O. S.

This poem appeared in Punch 16th December 1914 with the with the following preamble:
Lines for King Albert's Book, published to-day for the benefit of The Daily Telegraph’s Belgian Relief Fund.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Summer on Gallipoli 1915

An unbroken cycle of golden days,
   Of splendid cloud-filled dawns of blue,
Dazzling, grilling noon-tide blaze,
   And truly gorgeous sunsets, too!

A plague of flies, tormenting still,
   Torturing heat and choking dust,
Bombs that paralyse and kill,
   And valour that fight and conquer must.

Soldiers with heat of ardour keen,
   Spirit as light as the breeze that blows,
Laughter at hideous perils seen,
   And perils that never themselves disclose.

Such is life on Gallipoli —
   Hand-grenades fly about like balls;
This is what Britain's sons can be
   When their noble, widespread Empire calls!

Oh, the thirst! the appalling thirst
   That tortures an army in such a state,
Fighting with violence accursed —
   The Turk and his diabolic hate!

The Turk with his neck in Germany's hand,
   Used by Germany's hellish will,
Taking his last and fatal stand
   Man's liberties to strangle and kill.

But all in vain their alliance wars
   In triple strength, like three frogs vile;
For against them fight God's hosts of stars
   And all His angels, unseen the while.

Hearts of oak and steel and fire!
   Thoughts of home and dear ones there!
Every heart has one desire
   To win the victory clean and square.

So does the fearful war go on,
   Not a thought but of triumph soon
Or late; but a fight that must be won,
   Summer or winter, night or noon.

Ye that sleep on Gallipoli,
   There on those awful, shattered crags,
Britain's glorious sons are ye,
   While round the world float her breeze-blown flags.


Reprinted from The Witness, 12th November 1915
Image: IWM Q13345 – British soldiers resting in shelters recently captured from the Turkish Army.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

God Speed - A poem for Remembrance

   Out from the thunder of battle,
   Down the pathway of pain,
   Into the infinite Peace
   That is God,
   My Brother, thou goest.

To all that is strongest in Strength,
   Tender in Tenderness.
Into the Infinite Love
   That is Life,
My brother, God speed thee.

                           – Eva Anstruther

From The Witness, 1st October 1915.
Image: Moving up the line by Richard Hubbard.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Ulster Divison

There are hearts to-day in Ulster
   Distraught with pain and fears;
There are eyes to-day in Ulster
   That are dim with many tears;
For soon our best and dearest
   On the battlefield will be.
We would, therefore, "God of Battle,"
   Commend our men to Thee.

Oh, give them strength and courage
   And steadfastness of heart,
When in the hour of trial
   To bravely act their part,
And succour and defend them,
   Their Leader ever be,
And make them bold in life or death
   To put their trust in Thee.

To those who tend the wounded
   Give wisdom, love, and skill;
Be ever present with them
   To guard them from all ill.
And keep far death and sickness
   From those who spend their zeal,
And ever bless their efforts
   And give them power to heal.

To Thou who art the Author
   Of concord, love, and peace,
We pray, if it may be Thy will,
   Bid war and tumult cease,
And bring our men in safety back,
   Led by Thy mighty hand;
And grant us peace with victory,
   And bless our Fatherland,

Belfast. M. M'KAY.

Text: The Witness, 29th October 1915.
Image:  Group of the Royal Irish Rifles, 36th Ulster Division, before parading for the trenches. Near Bertincourt, 20 November 1917. © IWM (Q 3175).

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Dangerfield Ghost

IN the reign of George II., the head of the house, Sir Hugh Horsingham, married a young wife, and brought her home to Dangerfield, with the usual demonstrations and rejoicings peculiar to such an event. Sir Hugh was a dark, morose man, considerably older than his bride. Stern and forbidding in his manners, but possessing deep feelings under a reserved exterior, and a courage and determination not to be daunted or subdued. Such a man was capable of great things, for good or for evil; and each was the very nature on which a woman's influence might have produced the most beneficial results. But, unfortunately, young lady Horsingham had but one feeling for her lord, and that was intense terror of his anger. She never sought to win his confidence, and never entered into his political schemes, his deeper studies, or even his country amusements and pursuits; all she thought of was how to avoid offending Sir Hugh; and, ere long, this one idea grew to such a pitch, that she quite trembled in his presence, could scarcely answer distinctly when he spoke to her, and seemed hardly to draw breath in freedom save when out of his sight. Such a state of things could have but one ending — distrust and suspicion on one side, unqualified aversion on the other. A marriage, never of inclination — as, indeed, in those days amongst great families few marriages were — became an insupportable slavery ere the first year of wedded life had elapsed; and by the time an heir was born to the house of Horsingham, probably them was no unhappier couple within fifty niles of Dangerfield, than dark Sir Hugh, and his pretty, fair-haired, gentle wife. No! she ought never to have married him at all. It was but the night before her wedding that she walked in the garden of her father's old manor-house with a bright, open-hearted, handsome youth, whose brow wore that expression of acute agony which it is so pitiable to witness on a young countenances — that look almost of physical pain, which betokens how the iron has, indeed, "entered the sufferer's soul." "Ah! you may plead. 'Cousin Edward;' but we women are of a strange mixture, and the weakest of us may possess obstinacy such as no earthly consideration can overcome." "Lucy! Lucy! for the last time, think of it — for the love of Heaven, do out drive me mad — think of it once more — it is the last, last chance." — The speaker was white as a sheet, and his hollow voice came in hoarse, inarticulate whispers, as he looked almost fiercely into that dear face to read his doom. Too well he knew the set, filed expression of her delicate profile. She did not dare turn towards him; she could not have looked him in the face and persevered, but she kept her eyes fastened on the horizon, at though she saw her future in the fading sunset; and whilst her heart seemed turning to very stone, she kept her lips firmly closed; she repressed the tears that would have choked her, and so, for that time, she conquered.

Lucy had a great idea of duty; hers was no high-principled love of duty from the noblest motives, but a morbid dread of self-reproach. She had not character enough to do anything out of her own notions of the beaten track. She had promised her father she would marry Sir Hugh Horsingham — not that he had the slightest right to exact such a promise — and she felt bound to fulfil it. She never remembered the injury she was doing "Cousin Edward," the right which such devotion as his ought to have given him. She knew she loved him better than any one in the world; She knew she was about to commit an act of the greatest injustice towards Sir Hugh; but she had "promised papa;" and though she would have given worlds to avoid fulfilling her compact, she had not strength of mind to break the chain and be free.

Cousin Edward! Cousin Edward! you should have carried her off then and there; she would have been truly grateful for the rest of her life, but she would have died sooner than open her lips. He was hurt — reckless — almost savage. He thought her sullen. "Once more, Lucy," he said, and his eye glared fiercely in the waning light, "once more, will you give me one word, or never set eyes on me again?" Her lip never moved. "I give you till we pass that tree" — he looked dangerous now — "and than" — he swore a great oath — "I leave you for ever." Lucy thought the tree looked strange and ghastly in the rising moon; she even remarked a knot up in its smooth white stem, but she held out whilst one might have counted ten; and when she turned round, poor girl! Cousin Edward was gone.

At this period, there was set on foot one of those determined plots, which during the first two reigns of the House of Hanover, so constantly harassed that dynasty.
Sir Hugh, of course, was a prime mover of the conspiracy, and was much in London and elsewhere, gathering intelligence, raising funds, and making converts to his opinions. Ned Meredith, having, it is to be presumed, all his energies occupied in his own private intrigues, had somewhat withdrawn of late from the Jacobite party; and Sir Hugh heard, with his grim, unmoved smile, many a jest and innuendo levelled at the absentee.

One stormy winter's evening, the baronet, well armed, cloaked, and booted, left his own house for the metropolis, accompanied by one trusty servant. He was bearing papers of importance, and was hurrying on to lay them, with the greatest despatch, before his fellow conspirators. As night was drawing on, Sir Hugh's horse shied away from a wild figure, looming like some spectre in the fading light; and ere he had forced the animal back into the path, his bridle was caught by a half naked lad, whom the rider at once recognised as an emissary he had often before employed to be the bearer of secret intelligence, and who, under an affectation of being half-witted, concealed much shrewdness of observation, and unimpeachable fidelity to the cause.

"Whip and spur. Sir Hugh — whip and spur," said the lad, who seemed flustered and confused with drink; "you may burst your best horse betwixt this and London, and all to get there before you're wanted. A dollar to drink, Sir Hugh, like handsome Ned gave me this morning — a dollar to drink, and I'll save you a journey for the sake of the 'Bonny While Rose,' and the 'Bird with the Yellow Bill.'"

Sir Hugh scrutinised the lad with a piercing eye, flung him a crown from him purse, and bid him "out with what he had to say, for that he himself was hurried, and must push on to further the good cause." The lad was sobered in an instant.

"Look ye here, Sir Hugh," he said, eagerly; "Handsome Ned went down the road at a gallop this morning. There's something brewing in London, you may trust me, Sir Hugh, and I tried to stop him to learn his errand; but he tossed me a crown and galloped on. He took the hill-road, Sir Hugh, and you came up the vale; but he's bound for Dangerfield, I know, and mayhap he's got papers that will save your journey to London: no offence, Sir Hugh," added the lad, for the baronet's face was blank as midnight.

"None, my good boy," was the reply, in a hoarse, thick voice. "Hold, there's another crown for you — drink it every farthing, you villain! or I never give you a sixpence again;" and Sir Hugh rode on, as though bound for London, but stopped a mile farther forward, at a place where two roads met; and entrusting his papers to his servant, bade him hasten on with them, whilst he galloped back through the darkness in the direction of his home.

He can let himself in by the garden gate with his own pass key. Ere he is aware, he is tramping up the corridor in his heavy horsemen's boots — his hand is on the door — there ia a woman's shriek — and Sir Hugh's tall, dark figure fills the doorway of Lucy's sitting-room, where, alas! she is not alone, for the stern, angry husband is confronted by Ned Meredith!

Lucy cowers down in a corner of the room, with her face buried in her hands. Cousin Edward draws him-self up to his full height, and looks his antagonist steadily in the face, but with an expression of calm despair, that seems to say fate has now done her worst. Sir Hugh is cool, collected, and polite; nay, he can even smile, but he speaks strangely, almost in a whisper, and hisses through his set teeth. He has double-locked the door behind him, and turns to Cousin Edward with a grave, courteous bow.

"You have done me the honour of an unexpected visit, Mr. Meredith," he says; "I trust Lady Horsingham has entertained you hospitably! Pray do not stir, madam. Mr. Meredith, we are now quits; you saved my life when you encountered Colonel Bludyer; I forbore from taking yours, when I had proofs that it was in my right. We have now entered on a fresh account, but the game shall be fairly played. Mr. Meredith, you are a man of honour — yes, it shall be fairly played." Ned's lip quivered, but he bowed, and stood perfectly still. "Lady Horsingham," continued Sir Hugh, "be good enough to hand me those tables, they contain a dice-box. Nay, Mr. Meredith," seeing Ned about to assist the helpless frightened woman; "when present, at least, I expect my wife to obey me." Lucy was forced to rise, and trembling in every limb, to present the tables to her lord. Sir Hugh placed the dice-box on the table, laid his pistols beside it, and, taking a seat, motioned to Cousin Edward to do the same. "You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith," he repeated; "we will throw three times, and the highest caster shall blow the other's brains out." Lucy shrieked, and rushed to the door: it was fast, and her husband forced her to sit down and watch the ghastly game.

"Good God, Sir Hugh!" exclaimed Cousin Edward, "this is too horrible — for your wife's sake — any reparation I can make, I will; but this is murder, deliberate murder."

"You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith," reiterated Sir Hugh; "I ask for no reparation but this — the chances are equal if the stakes are high. You are my guest, or rather, I should say, Lady Horsingham's guest. Begin." Cousin Edward's face turned ghastly pale: he took the box, shook it, hesitated, but the immovable eye was fixed on him; the stern lips repeated once more — "You are a man of honour," and he threw — "Four." It was now Sir Hugh's turn. With a courteous bow he received the box, and threw — "Seven." Again the adversaries cast, the one a six, the other a three; and now they were even in the ghastly match. Once more Cousin Edward shook the box, and the leaping dice turned up — "Eleven." Lucy's white face stood out in the lamp-light, as she watched with stony eyes that seemed to have lost the very power of sight.

"For God's sake, forego this frightful determination, Sir Hugh," pleaded Cousin Edward; "take my life in a fair field. I will offer no resistance; but you can hardly expect to outdo my throw, and nothing shall induce me to take advantage of it: think better or it, Sir Hugh, I entreat you."

"You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith, and so am I," was the only reply, as Sir Hugh brandished the box aloft, and thundered it down on the table — "Sixes!" "Good casting," he remarked, and at the same instant, cocking the pistol nearest to him, discharged it full into his antagonist's bosom. The bullet sped through a delicate lace handkerchief, which he always wore there, straight and true into Cousin Edward's heart. As he fell forward across the table, a dark stream flowed slowly, slowly along the carpet, till it dyed the border of Lucy's white dress with a crimson stain. She was on her knees, apparently insensible; but one small hand felt the cold, wet contact, and she looked at it, and saw that it was blood. Once more she uttered a shriek that rang through those vast buildings, and rushed again to the door to find it locked. In sheer despair she made for the window, threw open the casement, and ere Sir Hugh could sieze or stop her, flung herself headlong into the court below. When the horrified husband looked down into the darkness, a wisp of while garments, a bruised and lifeless body, was all that remained of Lady Horsingham.

That night one-half of Dangerfield Hall was consumed by fire. Its mistress was said to have perished in the flames. The good neighbours, the honest country people, pitied poor Sir Hugh galloping back from London, to find his home in ruins, and his wife a corpse. His gay companions missed "Ned Meredith" from his usual haunts; but it was generally supposed he had obtained a mission to the Court of St. Germains, and there was a rumour that he had perished in a duel with a French marquis. A certain half-witted lad, who had followed Sir Hugh back to Dangerfield on that fearful night, might have elucidated the mystery; but he had been kidnapped, and sent to the plantations. After many years he returned to England, and on his death-bed left a written statement, implicating Sir Hugh in the double crime of arson and murder. But long ere this the culprit had appeared before a tribunal which admits of no prevarication, and the pretty boy with the golden curls had become lord of Dangerfield Hall. The long corridor had been but partially destroyed. It was repaired and refurnished by successive generations; but guests and servants alike refused to sleep again in that dreary wing, after the first trial. Every night, so surely as the old clock tolled out the hour of twelve, a rush of feet was heard along the passage — a window looking into the court was thrown open — a piercing scream from a woman's voice rang through the building — and those who were bold enough to look out, averred that they beheld a white figure leap wildly into the air and disappear. Some even went so far as to affirm that drops of blood, freshly sprinkled, were found every morning on the pavement of the court. But no one ever doubted the Dangerfield ghost to be the nightly apparition of Lucy, Lady Horsingham. — "Kate Coventry."

From The Northern Whig, 7th September 1859.