“O, what’s the
matter? what’s the matter?
What is’t that ails young Harry Gill?”
Mary B—— began:—
“Oft I had heard of Lucy Grey”;
Nancy C—— piped up:—
“‘How many are
you, then,’ said I,
‘If there are two in heaven?’
The little maiden did reply,
‘O Master! we are seven.’”
Among the group I seemed to recognize poor pale little Charley F——, who they told me years ago was laid in St. John’s Churchyard after they took him out of the pond, near the mill-stream, that terrible Saturday afternoon. He too read from his well-worn, green-baize-covered book,—
“The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink.”
Other white-headed little urchins trotted along very near me all the way, and kept saying over and over their “spirit ditties of no tone” till I reached the village inn, and sat down as if in a dream of long-past years.
Two years ago I stood by Wordsworth’s grave in the churchyard at Grasmere, and my companion wove a chaplet of flowers and placed it on the headstone. Afterwards we went into the old church and sat down in the poet’s pew. “They are all dead and gone now,” sighed the gray-headed sexton; “but I can remember when the seats used to be filled by the family from Rydal Mount. Now they are all outside there in yon grass.”
"I care not, Fortune, what you me deny: You cannot rob me of free Nature’s grace; You cannot shut the windows of the sky, Through which Aurora shows her brightening face; You cannot bar my constant feet to trace The woods and lawns, by living streams at eve: Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace, And I their toys to the great children leave: Of fancy, reason, virtue, naught can me bereave."
VI. MISS MITFORD.
That portrait hanging near Wordsworth’s is next to seeing Mary Russell Mitford herself as I first saw her, twenty-three years ago, in her geranium-planted cottage at Three-Mile Cross. She sat to John Lucas for the picture in her serene old age, and the likeness is faultless. She had proposed to herself to leave the portrait, as it was her own property, to me in her will; but as I happened to be in England during the latter part of her life, she altered her determination, and gave it to me from her own hands.
Sydney Smith said of a certain quarrelsome person, that his very face was a breach of the peace. The face of that portrait opposite to us is a very different one from Sydney’s fighter. Everything that belongs to the beauty of old age one will find recorded in that charming countenance. Serene cheerfulness most abounds, and that is a quality as rare as it is commendable. It will be observed that the dress of Miss Mitford in the picture before us is quaint and somewhat antiquated even for the time when it was painted, but a pleasant face is never out of fashion.