Page images
PDF
EPUB

always hung up by the person who gets it in one of the most conspicuous parts of the house, and looked upon by the whole family as something redounding much more to their honour than a coat of arms. There was. a fellow who was so busy in regulating all the ceremonies, and seemed to carry such an air of importance in his looks, that I could not help inquiring who he was, and was immediately answered, that he did not value himself upon nothing, for that he and his ancestors had won so many hats, that his parlour looked like a haberdasher's shop.' However, this thirst of glory in them all, was the reason that no one man stood lord of the ring for above three falls while I was among them.

The young maids, who were not lookers-on at these exercises, were themselves engaged in some diversion; and upon my asking a farmer's son of my own parish what he was gazing at with so much attention, he told me, that he was seeing Betty Welch,' whom I knew to be his sweet-heart, pitch a bar.'

• In short, I found the men endeavoured to show the women they were no cowards, and that the whole company strove to recommend themselves to each other, by making it appear that they were all in a perfect state of health, and fit to undergo any' fatigues of bodily labour,

Your judgment upon this method of love and gallantry, as it is at present practised among us in the country, will very much oblige,

'Sir, yours, &c.

Love and marriages are the natural effects of these anniversary assemblies. I must therefore very much approve the method by which my correspondent tells me each sex endeavours to recommend itself to the

other,

B 3

other, since nothing seems more likely to promise å healthy offspring or a happy cohabitation. And I believe I may assure my country friend, that there has been many a.court lady who would be contented to exchange her crazy young husband for Tom Short; and several men of quality who would have parted with a tender yoke-fellow for black Kate.

I am the more pleased with having love made the principal end and design of these meetings, as it seems to be most agreeable to the intent for which they were at first instituted, as we are informed by the learnéd Dr. Kennet, with whose words I shall conclude my present paper :

These wakes, says he, were in imitation of the antient ayano, or love-feasts; and were first established in England by pope Gregory the great, who, in an epistle to Melitus the abbot, gave order that they should be kept in sheds or arbories made up with branches or boughs of trees round the church.'

He adds, that this laudable custom of wakes prevailed for many ages, until the nice puritans began to exclaim against it as a remnant of popery; and by degrees the precise humour grew so popular, that at an Eseter assizes the lord chief baron Walter made an order for the suppression of all wakes : but on bishop Laud's complaining of this innovating humour, the king commanded the order to be reversed.'

È. BUDGELL.

THEODOSIUS AND CONSTANTIA, A TALE. No. 164.

CONSTANTIA was a woman of "extraordinary wit and beauty, but very unhappy in a father, who, having arrived at great riches by his own industry, took delight in nothing but his money. Theodosius* was the younger son of a decayed family, of great parts and learning, improved by a genteel and virtuous education. When he was in the twentieth year of his age he became acquainted with Constantia, who had not then passed her fifteenth. As he lived but a few miles distant from her father's house, he had frequent opportunities of seeing her; and by the advantages of a good person, and a pleasing conversation, made such an impression on her heart as it was impossible for tiine to efface. He was himself no less smitten with Constantia. A long acquaintance made them still discover new beauties in each other, and by degrees raised in them that mutual passion which had an influence on their following lives. It unfortunately happened, that in the midst of this intercourse of love and friend. ship between Theodosius and Constantia, there broke out an irreparable quarrel between their parents, the one valuing himself too much upon his birth, and the other upon his possessions. The father of Constantia was so incensed at the father of Theodosius, that he contracted an unreasonable aversion towards his son, insomuch that he forbade him his house, and charged his daughter upon her duty never to see him more. In the mean time, to break off all communication between the two lovers, who he knew entertained secret hopes of some favourable opportunity that should bring them together, he found out a young gentleman of a good fortune, and an agreeable person, whom he pitched

arrived upon fall

The Theodosius and Constantial of Dr. Langhorne, a collection of letters, in 2 vols. 12mo, takes its rise from this paper.

B 4

upon as a husband for his daughter. He soon concerted this affair so well, that he told Constantia it was bis design to marry her to such a gentleinan, and that ber wedding should be celebrated on such a day. Constantia, who was overawed with the authority of her fainer, and unable to object any thing against so ads. vantageous à match, received the proposal with a profound silence, which her father commended in her as the most decent manner of a virgin's giving her consent to an overture of that kind. The noise of this intended marriage soon reached Theodosius, who, after a long tumult of passions, which naturally rise in a lover's heart on such an occasion, writ the following letter to Constantia :

The thought of my Constantia, which for some years has been my only happiness, is now become a greater torment to me than I am able to bear. Must I then live to see you another's? The streams, the fields, and meadows, where we have so often talked together, grow painful to me; life itself is become a burthen, May you long be happy in the world! but forget that there was ever such a man in it as

« Theodosius.'

This letter was conveyed to Constantia that very evening, who fainted at the reading of it; and the next morning she was much more alarmed by two or three niessengers, that came to her father's house one after another, to inquire if they had heard any thing of Theodosius, who it seems had left his chanıber about midnight, and could no where be found. The deep melancholy, which had hung upon his mind some time before, made them apprehend the worst that could be

fall him. Constantia, who knew that nothing but the report of her marriage could have driven him to such extremities, was not to be comforted. She now accused herself of having so tamely given an ear to the proposal of a husband, and looked upon the new lover as the murderer of Theodosius : in short, she resolved to suffer the utmost effects of her father's displeasure, rather than comply with a marriage which appeared to her so full of guilt and horror. The father, seeing himself entirely rid of Theodosius, and likely to keep a considerable portion in his family, was not very much concerned at the obstinate refusal of his daughter; and did not find it very difficult to excuse himself, upon that account, to his intended son-in-law, whò had all along regarded this alliance rather as a marriage of convenience than of love. Constantia had now no relief but in her devotions and exercises of religion, to which her afflictions had so entirely subjected her mind, that after some years had abated the violence of her sorrows, and settled her thoughts in a kind of tranquillity, she resolved to pass the remainder of her days in a convent.

Her father was not displeased with a resolution which would save money in his family, and readily complied with his daughter's intentions. Accordingly, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, while her beauty was yet in all its height and bloom, he carried her to a neighbouring city, in order to look out a sisterhood of nuns among whom to place his daughter. There was in this place a father of a convent who was very much renowned for bis piety and exemplary life; and, as it is usual in the Romish church for those who are under any great affliction, or trouble of mind, to apply themselves to the most eminent confessors for pardon and consolation, our

beautiful

« PreviousContinue »