The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby


. . .

A feeling sad came o’er me as I trod the sacred ground

Where Tudors and Plantagenets were lying all around:

I stepp’d with noiseless foot, as though the sound of mortal tread

Might burst the bands of the dreamless sleep that wraps the mighty dead!

The slanting ray of the evening sun shone through those cloisters pale,

With fitful light on regal vest, and warrior’s sculptured mail,

As from the stain’d and storied pane it danced with quivering gleam,

Each cold and prostrate form below seem’d quickening in the beam.

Now, sinking low, no more was heard the organ’s solemn swell,

And faint upon the listening ear the last Hosanna fell:

It died — and not a breath did stir; — above each knightly stall

Unmoved, the banner’d blazonry hung waveless as a pall.

I stood alone! — a living thing ‘midst those that were no more —

I thought on ages past and gone — the glorious deeds of yore —

On Edward’s sable panoply, on Cressy’s tented plain,

The fatal Roses twined at length — on great Eliza’s reign.

I thought on Naseby — Marston Moor — on Worc’ster’s ‘crowning fight;’

When on mine ear a sound there fell — it chill’d me with affright,

As thus in low, unearthly tones I heard a voice begin,

‘ — This here’s the Cap of Giniral Monk! — Sir! please put summut in!’ . . .

Cætera desiderantur.

That Seaforth’s nervous system was powerfully acted upon on this occasion I can well believe. The circumstance brings to my recollection a fearful adventure — or what might perhaps have proved one — of my own in early life while grinding Gerunds at Canterbury. A sharp touch of the gout, and the reputed sanatory qualities of a certain spring in St. Peter’s Street, then in much repute, had induced my Uncle to take up a temporary abode within the Cathedral ‘Precinct.’ It was on one of those temporary visits which I was sometimes permitted to pay on half-holidays, that, in self-defence, I had to recount the following true narrative. I may add, that this tradition is not yet worn out: a small maimed figure of a female in a sitting position, and holding something like a frying-pan in her hand, may still be seen on the covered passage which crosses the Brick Walk, and adjoins the house belonging to the sixth prebendal stall. — There are those, whom I know, who would, even yet, hesitate at threading the dark entry on a Friday — ’ not’ of course ‘that they believe one word about’

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56