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"Blessed is he that
and benevolent owner. considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble," Psa. xli. 1.
Pengethley, the residence of a much respected magistrate, is a sweet retreat: I hardly know one more so. The beauty and delightful situation of the mansion, the air of privacy and quietude which characterizes it, and the prospect of distant country which it commands, render it a sort of fairy land. Time presses, or I could willingly linger a day at Pengethley.
The church at Llanwarne bears a date so early as to puzzle the spectator. In the churchyard stand the mutilated remains of an ancient cross. I have often received a cheering welcome from the kind hearts in the farm-house on the hill. One of its inmates forcibly reminds me of a school fellow to whom, in my boyish days, I was much attached.
How sweet the morn of life, when leaves
Then youth and spring went hand in hand,
The commanding height of Aconbury, where a large Roman camp was once formed, is too alluring an object to be passed by. I have traversed its woody summit in goodly company,
and am now on the top of Saddlebow. The hut of Mary Sebbert is only at the distance of a stone's cast. A few poles, tied close together at the top, are spread out at the bottom, and covered over with turf. In this cheerless hut dwells poor Mary, now about threescore years old. She has lived alone there, already, nearly thirty years; her mother lived and died there, and she hopes to die there too. "Where do you keep your gold watch and your silver spoons, and all the rest of your plate, Mary?" said I, jocosely. "Oh, sir," said she, "if, by God's mercy, I get a bit of bread, and a potatoe from my little garden, it's all that I desire." I made a bargain with the poor woman: "I will give you a shilling now," said I; "and when you are rich, you shall give it me back again."
It is now midday, and the sun is pouring down his sultry beams. The grass and the hedges are apparently trembling in the heat; the white-faced, brown-bodied Herefordshire cattle are busy, their teeth and tails both at work, the one tearing the herbage, and the other lashing away the flies. The grey horse under the tree yonder, is shaking his head in the shade to rid himself of his buzzing tormentors, switching himself with his long, silky tail, while his impatient foot, every now and then, dashes the
sod. Here is a large tree, standing at the entrance of a shady lane, covered with blossoms, with hundreds of humble-bees buzzing among the branches. They say the harvest will be a late one; but come it will, for seed time and harvest are appointed by the Holy One.
I have gazed on the goodly prospect from the churchyard at Ross, and visited both Goodrich Castle and Goodrich Court, and am now drawing near to Symond's Yat. To describe the armoury and endless curiosities of Goodrich Court would be a tale too long to tell. Enough that I have been spell-bound by the one and the other. It may be, that on a future day Goodrich Court may become the subject of my observations; meanwhile, I am not unthankful for the attentions paid to me by the owner of this princely erection.
Among the olden customs of Herefordshire, one once existed which I ought not to pass by. It was common at funerals to hire poor men, to take upon themselves the sins of the deceased person. A loaf of bread was delivered to the sin-eater over the corpse as it lay on its bier, together with a mazar bowl of maple, full of malt liquor, to be drunk at the time. In consideration of these advantages, and the additional gift
of sixpence in money, the sin-eater undertook to bear the deceased harmless on account of his sins, of whatever sort and kind they might have been, and also freed him from walking after death. It is supposed that this olden custom had reference to the scape-goat in the old law, Lev. xvi. 21, 22: "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness." Oh that we all, while we see the folly and evil of wandering from God, may discern our true scape-goat in the Redeemer, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness," 1 Pet. ii. 24.
Having crossed the river with two agreeable companions, I am ascending the steep towards Symond's Yat; every minute the prospect becomes more arresting and sublime. Here and there lie fragments that have broken away from the huge rocks beetling above them. The cottages on the opposite heights, with their
orchards, seem to mount up to the very skies. At my feet, at this moment, crossing the rocky road, is a stream of black ants of an unusual size; yonder are two children at play, at a fearful height above me; and donkeys, laden with coal from the neighbouring forest of Dean, with their drivers, are passing to and fro, along the precipitous path.
We have gained the summit, the abrupt termination of Coldwell promontory, called Symond's Yat, or Gate, and the glorious prospect that has burst upon us has filled me with surprise and joy. I could scream with almost unbearable delight! The rolling river, solemn, deep, and dark; the grand mass of rock, fearful in height, and arrestingly perpendicular; the woody amphitheatre stretching around; the ten thousand broad acres lying far and wide below; and the bright sky above, lit up by the burning sun; form together such a scene that the heart revels in the prodigality of beauty, sublimity, and glory, presented to the gaze of the spectator.
What, then, if here such glowing scenes arise,
Subdued by the very excess of my delight, I have taken a calmer view of the extended prospect. I have leaned on the branches of the tree,