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“To penury extreme, and grief,
I heard his last few faultering words,
* “To Sele's sad widow bear the tale
Give but his corse to sacred earth,
“Dim waxed the eye that fiercely shone, And faint the tongue that proudly spoke
And weak that arm, still raised to me, Which oft had dealt the mortal stroke.
“How could I then his mandate bear
A rebel deemed, with him I fled;
“Proscribed by Henry's hostile rage,
Desperate, I fled my native soil,
“O, had thy long lamented lord
Died in the sacred cause ! who fell
“Led, by the ardour of the chace,
From where Garthmaelan spreads her shades,
“With head aloft, and antlers wide,
Stung with the sight, and wild with rage,
“With bitter taunt, and keen reproach, He, all impetuous, poured his rage,
Reviled the chief as weak in arms, And bade him loud the battle wage.
“Glyndwr for once restrained his sword,
But softened words, like oil to fire,
“They fought; and doubtful long the fray !
Still mournful must my tale proceed,
“How could we hope for wished retreat His eager vassals ranging wide 2
His bloodhounds' keen sagacious scent, O'er many a trackless mountain tried ?
“I marked a broad and blasted oak, Scorched by the lightning's livid glare
Hollow its stem from branch to root, And all its shrivelled arms were bare.
“Be this, I cried, his proper grave!—
Aloft we raised the hapless .
A shriek from all the damsels burst,
While horror-struck the lady stood,
With stupid stare, and vacant gaze,
Absorbed 1–she lost her present grief,
Like wild-fire o'er the mossy heath,
The peasants crowd at morning dawn,
He led them near the blasted oak,
The peasant's work with trembling haste,
Back they recoiled!—the right hand still,
Which erst in many a battle gleamed,
They bore the corse to Vener's shrine, With holy rites, and prayers addressed;
Nine white-robed monks the last dirge sang, And gave the angry spirit rest.
It must be remembered that the real history of Howel Sele's death is to be collected from Mr. Pennant's account of their sudden feud already related; though he by no means distinctly states whether Glyndwr caused him to be placed in the oak after he had been slain, or “immured” him alive and left him to perish. It is rather to be inferred that he was condemned by his kinsmen to the latter fate. According to Pennant he perished in the year 1402, and we see that his living burial place survived him, pierced and hallowed by the hand of time, upwards of four centuries.
SIR Philip SIDNEY’s OAk.
In an elegant volume called “Sylvan Sketches, a companion to the park and the shrubbery, with illustrations from the works of the poets by the author of the Flora Domestica,” there is a delightful assemblage of poetical passages on the oak, with this memorial of a very celebrated one:—
“An oak was planted at Penshurst on the day of sir Philip Sidney's birth, of which Martyn speaks as standing in his time, and measuring twenty-two feet round. This tree has since been felled, it is said by mistake ; would it be impossible to make a similar mistake with regard to the mistaker P
“Several of our poets have celebrated this tree: Ben Jonson in his lines to Penshurst, says,
“Thou hast thy walks for health as well as
“It is mentioned by Waller:—
* Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark Of yonder tree, which stands the sacred mark Of noble Sidney's birth.”
“Southey says, speaking of Penshurst—
* Sidney here was born. Sidney than whom no greater, braver man, His own delightful genius ever feigned, Illustrating the vales of Arcad With courteous courage, and with loyal loves. Upou his natal day the acorn here Was planted; it grew up a stately oak, And in the beauty of its strength it stood And flourished, when its perishable part Had mouldered dust to dust. That stately oak Itself hath mouldered now, but Sidney's name Endureth in his own immortal works.’
“This tree was frequently called the ‘bare oak,’ by the people of the neighbourhood, from a resemblance it was supposed to bear to the oak which gave name to the county of Berkshire. Tradition says, that when the tenants went to the park gates as it was their custom to do to meet the earl of Leicester, when they visited that castle, they used to adorn their hats with boughs #. this tree. Within the hollow of its trunk was a seat which contained five or six persons with ease and convenience.”
The OAK of MAMRE.
We are told that this oak was standing in the fourth century. Isidore affirms that when he was a child in the reign of the emperor Constantius, he was shown a turpentine tree very old, which declared its age by its bulk, as the tree under which Abraham dwelt; that the heathens had a surprising veneration for it, and distinguished it by an honourable appellation.” Some affirm that it existed within the last four centuries.
, and was made bishop of Ardmore.
At the dispersion of the Jews under Adrian, about the year 134, “an incredible number of all ages and sexes were sold at the same price as horses, iu a very famous fair called the fair of the turpentine tree: whereupon the Jews had an abhorrence for that fair.” St. Jerome mentions the place at which the Jews were sold under the name of “Abraham's tent;” where, he says, “is kept an annual fair very much frequented.” This place “on Mamre's fertile plains,” is
; alleged to have been the spot where
Abraham entertained the angels.”
St. Declan is represented to have been the friend and companion of St. Patrick, and, according to tradition, Ardmore was an episcopal see, established in the fifth century by St. Declan, who was born in this county, and was of the family of the Desii. He travelled for education to Rome, resided there for some years, was afterwards ordained by the pope, returned to his own country about the year 402, and about that time founded the abbey He lived to a great age; and his successor, St. Ulthan, was alive in the year 550, A stone, a holy well, and a dormitory, in the churchyard, still bear the name of St. Declan. “ St. Declan's stone” is on the beach; it is a large rock, resting on two others, which elevate it a little above the ground. On the twenty-fourth of July, the festival of the saint, numbers of the lowest class do penance on their bare knees around the stone, and some, with great pain and difficulty, creep under it, in expectation thereby of curing or preventing, what it is much more likely to create, rheumatic affections of the back. • In the churchyard is the “dormitory of St. Declan,” a small low building, held in great veneration by the people in, the neighbourhood, who frequently visit it in
* Bayle, art. Abraham.
* Bayle, art. Barcochebas.
order to procure some of the earth, which
is supposed to cover the relics of the Saint.” On the twenty-fourth of July, 1826, several thousand persons of all ages and both sexes assembled at Ardmore. The greater part of the extensive strand, which forms i. western side of the bay, was literally covered by a dense mass of people. Tents and stands for the sale of whiskey, &c. were placed in parallel rows along the shore; the whole at a distance bore the appearance of a vast encampment. Each tent had its green ensign waving upon high, bearing some patriotic motto. One of large dimensions, which floated in the breeze far above the others, exhibited the words “Williers Stuart for ever.” At an early hour, those whom a religious feeling had drawn to the spot, commenced their devotional exercises by assing under the holy rock of St. Declan. he male part of the assemblage were clad in trowsers and shirts, or in shirts alone; the females, in petticoats, pinned above the knees, and some of the more devout in chemises only. Two hundred and ninety persons of both sexes thus prepared, knelt at one time indiscriminately around the stone, and passed separately under it to the other side. This was not effected without considerable pain and difficulty, owing to the narrowness of the g. and the sharpness of the rocks. Stretched at full length on the ground on the face and stomach, each devotee moved forward, as if in the act of swimming, and thus squeezed or dragged themselves through. Upwards of eleven hundred persons of both sexes, in a state of half nudity, were observed to undergo the ceremony in the course of the day. A reverend gentleman, who stood by part of the time, was heard to exclaim, “O, great is their faith.” Several of their reverences passed and re-passed to and from the chapel close by the “holy rock,” during the day. The “holy rock,” of so great veneration, is believed to be endued with
miraculous powers. It is said to have been wafted from Rome upon the surface of the ocean, at the period of St. Declan's founding his church at Ardmore, and to. have borne on its top a large bell for the church tower, and vestments for the saint.
At a short distance from this sacred memorial, on a cliff overhanging the sea, is the well of the saint. Thither the crowds repair after the devotions at the rock are ended. Having drank plentifully of its water, they wash their legs and feet in the stream which issues from it, and, telling their beads, sprinkle themselves and their neighbours with the fluid. These performances over, the grave of the patron saint is then resorted to. Hundreds at a time crowded around it, and crush each other in their eagerness to obtain a handful of the earth which is believed to cover the mortal remains of Declan. A woman stood breast high in the grave, and served out a small portion of its clay to each person requiring it, from whom in return she received a penny or halfpenny for the love of the saint. The abode of the saint's earthly remains has sunk to the depth of nearly four feet, its clay having been scooped away by the finger nails of the pious. A human skull of large dimensions was placed at the head of the tomb, before which the people bowed, believing it to be the identical skull of the tutelar saint.
This visit to St. Declan's grave comF. the devotional exercises of a day,
eld in greater honour than the o, by those who venerate the saint's name, and worship at his shrine. The tents which throughout the day, from the duties paid to the “patron,” had been thronged with the devotionalists of the morning, resounded from evening till daybreak, with sounds inspired by potations of whiskey; and the scene is so characterised by its reporter as to seem exaggerated.*
• Ryland's History of Waterford.
* Wate; ford Mail.
Tarascon, according to a popular tradition, has its name from a terrible beast, a sort of dragon, known by the name of the tarasque, which, in ancient days, infested the neighbourhood, ravaging the country, and killing every thing that came in its way, both man and beast, and eluding every endeavour made to take and destroy it, till St. Martha arrived in the town, and taking compassion on the general distress, went out against the monster, and brought him into the town in chains, when the people fell upon him and slew him.
St. Martha, according to the chronicles of Provence, had fled from her own country in company with her sister Mary Magdalen, her brother Lazarus, and several other saints both male and female. They landed at Marseilles, and immediately spread themselves about the country to preach to the people. It fell to the lot of St. Martha to bend her steps towards Tarascon, where she arrived at the fortunate moment above mentioned. She continued to her dying day particularly to patronise the place, and was at her own request interred there. Her tomb is shown in a subterranean do belonging to the principal church. t bears her figure in white marble, as large as life, in a recumbent posture, and is a good piece of sculpture, uninjured by the revolution. In the church a series of paintings represent the escape of St. Martha and her companions from their persecutors, their landing in Provence, and some of their subsequent adventures. She is the patron saint of Tarascon.
It is presumed that the story of a beast ravaging the neighbouring country had its origin in fact; but that instead of a dreadful dragon it was a hyena. Bouche, however, in his Essai sur l’Histoire de Promence, while he mentions the popular tradition of the dragon, makes no mention of the supposed hyena, which he probably
THE EVERY-DAY BOOK.-JULY 29.
would have done had there been any good ground for believing in its existence. Be this as it may, the fabulous story of the dragon was the occasion of establishing an annual festival at Tarascon, the reputed origin of which seems no less fabulous than the story itself. According to the tradition, the queen, consort to the reigning sovereign of the country, unaccountably fell into a deep and settled melancholy, from which she could not be roused. She kept herself shut up in her chamber, and would not see or be seen by any one; medicines and amusements were in vain, till the ladies of Tarascon thought of celebrating a festival, which they hoped, from its novelty might impress the mind of their afflicted sovereign. A figure was made to represent the “tarasque,” with a terrible head, a terrible mouth, with two terrible rows of teeth, wings on its back, and a terrible long tail. At the festival of St. Martha, by whom the “tarasque” was chained, this figure was led about for eight days successively, by eight of the principal ladies in the town, elegantly dressed, and accompanied by a band of music. The procession was followed by an immense concourse of people, in their holyday clothes; and during the progress, alms were collected for the poor. All sorts of gaieties were exhibited; balls, concerts, and shows of every kind—nothing, in short, was omitted to accomplish the purpose for which the festival was instituted. And her majesty condescended to be amused: that hour her melancholy ceased, and never after returned. Whether the honour of this happy change was wholly due to the procession, or whether the saint might not assist the efforts of the patriotic ladies of Tarascon, by working a miracle in favour of the restoration of the queen's health, is not on record; but her malady never returned; and the people of Tarascon were so much delighted by the processsion of the “tarasque,” that it was determined to make the festival an annual one.
This festival was observed till the revolution; but in “the reign of terror,” the people of Arles, between whom and those of Tarascon a great jealousy and rivalship had for many years subsisted, came in a body to the latter place, and, seizing the “tarasque,” burnt it in the market-place.