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The sober tints of autumn began to appear, browning here and there various patches on the map of nature, when I found myself returning from a few weeks' tour without meeting a single incident which appeared either to deserve or demand a place of memoranda in a traveller's portfolio; no, nor even enough to form a “charming piece," with which to embellish“ a lady's album."
The sun had nearly finished his diurnal course, and was throwing á blazing glory of the most gorgeous description, over the western hemisphere, when I entered one of those charmingly-picturesque villages in the eastern part of Sussex, for which that lovely country is famous. It might have been, for anything I know to the contrary, the very place the “sweet bard of Sheffield” has so richly painted, while describing the birth-place of Mary, in his “Prose, by a Poet," as one of those picturesque and retired situations among mountains and dales, which poetry and romance would instantly fix upon as the uncontaminated abode of peace, innocence, and virtue.
An unusual and undefinable fascination rested upon it,-its beauty was not only seen, but felt. The dreamy illusions of poets seemed to be realized. I experienced, or rather fancied I did, the ecstasies they enjoy, without the throes
painfully delicious ”-which they suffer. I almost longed that then the inspiring influence of the “god of song” might descend upon me. The scene, the time, the place, were the poet's own,
but I was not a poet,-nature herself had entered her protest against my being admitted among the tuneful number. I was then, and still am, unable to define distinctly the cause of the feeling produced. I yielded to the determination which I had unconsciously formed, of spending at least one night in this modern Arcadia, to enjoy the luxury of strolling amid its beauties.
It appeared to have but one Inn, employing that term in the same sense as, if I remember right, our great lexicographer, Johnson, has done, -"A house of entertainment for travellers,”-as its sign significantly informed me I should, on which was legibly inscribed,“ Good entertainment for man horse." I accordingly rode up to it, and soon received a fascinating manvaise honte courtesy from a smiling lass of about eighteen, whose fairy footsteps I followed, to the invitation of “this way sir,” into their best parlour; while my weary Rozinante was led, nothing loath, into a warm stable. An excellent cup or two of that beverage which "cheers but not inebriates," served with such dispatch as I have seldom found equalled at inns of more external importance, satisfied my present wants, which had well nigh been altogether forgotten, through the anxiety I felt to gratify my curiosity. Leaving orders that a supper might be prepared for me by half-past nine, I sallied forth, like Milton's pair, when driven from paradise,
with the world all before me.” I had not proceeded three steps from the door of my inn, before I encountered a severe opposition to my going forward: an argument arose between my fancy and my judgment, as to the direction I should take. How long this might have lasted I cannot pretend to say, had not reflection told me that either way would be equally new; and that therefore to take the one that lay straight before me, would be as proper as to turn to any other. I accordingly took the opposite direction from that by which I had entered the village, and after a saunter of about twenty minutes, the humble square tower of a half-dilapidated church became, at intervals, faintly visible between the “ umbrageous foliage of a stately row of elms, by which it was surrounded. A shaded lane on my left, evidently led directly to it; and for a moment I stood, half-inclined to turn up the bowered vista, and visit the habitations of the dead. The thought however occurred, that I might take a more circuitous rout advantageously, by continuing the road I ha taken; by which plan I should enjoy more of this rich scenery, by which I had been so captivated, and take the church in my return. “It shall be even so," I approvingly whispered to myself, and again my animal machine was in motion, propelled by the power of desired gratification.
How long I might have pursued my ramble, I cannot determine; so entirely was I entranced at every step, by fresh scenery, more rich, more beautiful, more delectable than the former, bursting upon my view, as I rose by the side of one acclivity, and descended to meet another, had I not, when descending a valley, perceived the dark shiadow of the opposite hill, rested more than halfway up the one I was descending, reminding me how soon the regent of day would retire within the doors of his golden palace.
As I felt desirous to examine the only public building in the place—the church, excepting indeed the inn (and, as I have since learned, the national-school, supported by voluntary contributions), I turned in that direction in which my geographical knowledge of the place led me to believe I should find it. I was not, as I too often have been on other and more important subjects, mistaken; a few turnings and windings, and the humble fane stood before me. It appeared a proper hour for such a visit,-a period when thought turns necessarily upon one's self,-made more powerful by the solemnity of the place.
The moon had already risen, by the light of which I perceived, while looking at my watch, that less than three hours more, and a new day would be given to the world. As I entered the grave-yard, a more than ordinary degree of solemnity pressed upon my mind; while crowds of thoughts seemed each to claim my attention above its fellow thought.
A line of venerable elms, placed at equal distances, rose on each side the building, forming, even in the meridian of day, a cool retreat; being nearly impervious to the speary rays of the sun. The paler beams of the moon,
therefore, although shining with unusual brightness, were barely sufficient to dispel entire darkness. With the curiosity of a stranger, I examined the building, and gazed with a species of superstitious awe upon its ivy-matted tower, and deep, lengthy gothic windows. A rustic bench, placed between two of the trees, offered a moment's welcome rest, and I availed myself of it.
With a mournful glance, accompanied by an involuntary sigh, I surveyed “the house appointed for all living,” and gazed with awful interest upon the numerous sepulchral hillocks that lay before
Some were surrounded by iron palisadoes, as if to prevent the unfeeling tramplers on the dead from discomposing the spots where the beloved relics of father, mother, husband, wife, or child quietly reposed: others were merely graced with a stone at the head and foot, rudely inscribed, to inform the passing passenger, whose once living form now mouldered in the vault below; or to convey, in some homely, wholesome episode, a “Memento mori:” while others, more humble still, were neatly covered with close-cut grass, and bound about with osier or bramble withes.
I had folded my arms mechanically, and given myself up to the unbridled influence of imagination, musing on the spot where “the rude forefathers of the hamlet slept,” when my reverie was suddenly broken up by a long hysteric groan, which appeared to proceed from one of the graves. I started suddenly from my fixed posture, and listened with