“He fell into very ill health some time ago, and was advised to go to the continent; and I gave him no peace until he went, and promised to take care of his two boys until he returned.
“He was gone for above a year, and was quite restored. When he came back, he sent me the tale I’m going to show you.—Oh, here it is!” said she, as the page put in her hands a beautiful box of satinwood. She unlocked it, and from among several parcels of notes on embossed paper, cards of charades, and copies of verses, she drew out a crimson velvet case, that smelt very much of perfumes. From this she took a manuscript, daintily written on gilt-edged vellum paper, and stitched a light blue riband. This she handed to the captain, who read the following tale, which I have procured for the entertainment of the reader.
The soldier frae the war returns,
And the merchant from the main,
But I hae parted with my love,
And ne’er to meet again,
And ne’er to meet again.
When day is gone, and night is come,
And a’ are boun to sleep,
I think on them that’s far awa
The lee-lang night, and weep,
The lee-lang night, and weep.
—Old Scotch Ballad.
In the course of a tour that I once made in Lower Normandy, I remained for a day or two at the old town of Honfleur, which stands near the mouth of the Seine. It was the time of a fete, and all the world was thronging in the evening to dance at the fair, held before the chapel of Our Lady of Grace. As I like all kinds of innocent merry-making, I joined the throng.
The chapel is situated at the top of a high hill, or promontory, from whence its bell may be heard at a distance by the mariner at night. It is said to have given the name to the port of Havre-de-Grace, which lies directly opposite, on the other side of the Seine. The road up to the chapel went in a zigzag course, along the brow of the steep coast; it was shaded by trees, from between which I had beautiful peeps at the ancient towers of Honfleur below, the varied scenery of the opposite shore, the white buildings of Havre in the distance, and the wide sea beyond. The road was enlivened by groups of peasant girls, in their bright crimson dresses and tall caps; and I found all the flower of the neighbourhood assembled on the green that crowns the summit of the hill.
The chapel of Notre Dame de Grace is a favourite resort of the inhabitants of Honfleur and its vicinity, both for pleasure and devotion. At this little chapel prayers are put up by the mariners of the port previous to their voyages, and by their friends during their absence; and votive offerings are hung about its walls, in fulfilment of vows made during times of shipwreck and disaster. The chapel is surrounded by trees. Over the portal is an image of the Virgin and child, with an inscription which struck me as being quite poetical: