Page:Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands.djvu/197

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172
CHATSWORTH AND HADDON HALL.

Receive us silently. How grim and gray
Yon tall, steep fortalice above us towers!
Its narrow apertures, like arrow-slits,
Jealous of heaven's sweet air, its dreary rooms
Floored with rough stones, its uncouth passages
Cut in thick walls, bespeak those iron times
Of despotism, when o'er the mountain-surge
Rode the fierce sea-king, and the robber hedged
The chieftain in his moat.
A freer style
Of architecture, clearly as a chart,
Defines the isthmus of that middle state,
After the Conquest, when the Saxon kernes
With their elf-locks receded. Coarsely mixed,
Norman with Gothic, stretch the low-browed halls,
Their open rafters brown with curling smoke.
Hearthstone and larder, as for giant race,
Tell of rude, festal doings, when in state
The stalwart baron, seated on the dais,
Serf and retainer fitly ranged around,
Gave hospitality at Christmas-tide;—
The roasted ox, the boar, with holly crowned,
And mighty venison pasty, proudly borne
'Tween a stout brace of ancient serving-men.
The elements of rude and gentle times
Were ill concocted then, and struggling held
Each other in suspension, or prevailed
Alternately. "Barbaric pearl and gold"
Were roughly set; and cumbrous arras hid
The iron-hasped and loosely-bolted doors.
Broad-branching antlers of the stag were then