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 It was in the tenth century that the French King, Charles IV., granted to Rollo the Pirate, who had married his daughter, the Dukedom of Normandy, together with the islets of “the wide bay of St. Michael’s;” a guerdon for his conversion to Christianity. When William, the descendant of Rollo, won the field of Hastings, the islets became an appanage of Britain, by the right of being conquered, and so they remain to this day politically subject to Britain, although geographically a parcel of France. The discovery of Roman, Celtic, Runic, and Gallic relics and coins, and the ruins of temple and fortress throughout the islets, reflect their history on the olden time. Jersey, it seems, was the isolated retreat of Ambiorix, a rebel to Julius Cæsar, if we rightly interpret the sixth book of the “Commentaries.” These Norman rocks, however, have not been held unchallenged. The French descents date from Henry I., through the reigns of John—who established the “Royal Courts,” on a visit to the isles—of Edward I., Edward III., Henry VII., Edward VI., George II., and George III., but they were all failures, although Du Guesclin, who was commissioned by Charles the Wise, seized and held Mount Orgueil Castle. In the dilemma of “the Roses,” the Norman Pierre de Breze assumed the title of “Lord of the Isles” until the blending of these royal emblems. The last attempt was on Jersey, in 1779-80, by the Duke of Nassau, when Pierson fell in its successful defence.

During the joyous months of summer and autumn, this fair group of islets will become more and more attractive as the facility of communication increases, especially as they possess the elements both of the salubrious and the beautiful in a very high degree. Soft and health-breathing gales are wafted along their very lovely and bloom-spangled valleys; they are belted by magnificent cliffs, indented by sheltered coves and deep and darksome caverns, and by outlying rocks of the most fantastic forms, and they are enriched, moreover, by quaint and antique structures, emblazoned in remote history and romantic legend.

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THE CHALLENGE.

“There are more things in heav’n and earth, Horatio,

 Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”—Hamlet.

There was a shallop floating on the Wye, among the gray rocks and leafy woods of Chepstow. Within it were two fair girls reclining: the one blending the romantic wildness of a maid of Italy with the exquisite purity of English nature; the other illuming, with the devotion of a vestal, the classic beauty of a Greek.

There was a young and learned bachelor sitting at the helm. Study had stamped an air of thoughtfulness on his brow; yet a smile was ever playing on his lips, as his heart felt the truth and influence of the beautiful life around him.

Listen, gentle reader, we pray thy courtesy and thy patience, as a rude unskilful pen traces the breathed thoughts of these wanderers of the Wye.

Castaly. We have roamed, dear Ida, among the classic lands of the far-off Mediterranean: we have looked, from her pinnacles of snow, on the silvery gleaminess of Switzerland, and from purple sierras on the sunny splendour of Spain; yet these English meadows, with their fringes of wild bloom, come o’er the heart with all the freshness of an infant’s dream. Yon majestic crag of Wyndcliff is flinging its purple shadows athwart the water, and floods of golden glory are streaming through the beech-woods of Piercefield: and see, our little sail, white as the wing of a swan, is wafting us towards Abbey Tintern, along this beautiful valley, where the river almost doubles on itself; meandering among its mead-flowers and its mosses, as loth to leave its luxuriant bed. Listen! the breath of evening is among the trees that dip in the ripple of the Wye their leaves of shivering gold. What a scene for minions of the moon to revel in! Say, shall we charm the lingering hours of this midsummer night among the ivied cloisters of the abbey? But where is Astrophel, our moon-struck student, who, like Chaucer’s scholar, keeps

      ——“at his bed’s head,

A twenty books clothed in black and red,

Of Aristotle and his philosophy?”——

They have not taught him courtesy, or he would not steal away from the light of our eyes to commune with owls and ivy-bushes.

Yet we promise him our smile for your sake, Evelyn. Indeed, I am thinking his mysteries will chime in admirably with the solemnity of this lone abbey. We appoint him master of our revels.

Evelyn. Let your smile be in pity, fair Castaly, on the illusions of Astrophel. Ensconced in his dark closet, within a charmed ring of black-letter folios, he has wofully warped his studies, and has read himself into the belief that he is a GIFTED SEER. Yet love him, lady, for his virtues; for his history is a very paradox. His heart is melting with charity for the beings of earth, yet his mind is half-weaned from their fellowship. At his imminent peril, he leaps into the Isis to save a drowning boy, and the world calls him misanthrope, withal. It is the fate indeed of many a cloistered scholar, whose

      ——“desires are dolphin like,

And soar above the element they live in.”

Such is Astrophel.

Ida. He looks his part to perfection. There is a shadowy expression in his dark eye, as it were poring over the volume of his own thoughts. Beneath the slender shaft of yon eastern window, behold this proselyte to the sublime science of shadows. He approaches.

Ev. The hour is on him yet.—Astrophel!

Astrophel. Whisper, and tread lightly, Evelyn, for this is haunted ground. Underneath this velvet turf rest the mouldering bones of a noble. I have held communion in my slumber with the spirit by which they were once animated and moved; and the mysteries of the tomb have been unfolded to me. The eidōlon of Roger Bigod has thrice come across my sight.

Cast. A ghost!

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