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fastened fish-bones to the skirt of his cassock, and set the children to pelt him with mud and stones. The holy man was not dismayed at this; nay, he renewed his entreaties and warnings, so that some few turned from their evil ways and worshipped with him in the little chapel which stood on the bank of a rivulet that flowed down from the mere on the hillside.
"The rains fell that December in immense quantities. The mere was swollen beyond its usual limits, and all the hollows in the hills were filled to overflowing. One day when the old priest was on the hillside gathering fuel, he noticed that the barrier of peat, earth, and stones, which prevented the mere from flowing into the valley, was apparently giving way before the mass of water above. He hurried down to the village and besought the men to come up and cut a channel for the discharge of the superfluous waters of the mere. They only greeted his proposal with shouts of derision, and told him to go and mind his prayers, and not spoil their feast with his croaking and his kill-joy presence.
"These heathens were then keeping their winter festival with great revelry. It fell on Christmas Eve. The same night the aged priest summoned his few faithful ones to attend at the midnight mass, which ushered in the feast of our Saviour's Nativity. The night was stormy, and the rain fell in torrents, yet this did not prevent the little flock from coming to the chapel. The old servant of God had already begun the holy sacrifice, when a roar was heard in the upper part of the valley. The server was just ringing the Sanctus bell which hung in the bell-cot, when a flood of water dashed into the church, and rapidly rose till it put out the altar-lights. In a few moments more, the whole building was washed away, and the mere, which had burst its mountain barrier, occupied the hollow in which the village had stood. Men say that if you sail over the mere on Christmas Eve, just after midnight, you may hear the Sanctus bell tolling."-Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 64.
Here is another legend. Many have tried to fathom Bomere, but in vain. Though waggon-ropes were tied together and let down into it, no bottom could be found—and how should there be? when everyone knows
that it has none! Nor can it be drained. The attempt was once made, and found useless; for whatever the workmen did in the day, was undone by some mysterious power in the night.
In the days of the Roman Empire, when Uriconium was standing, a very wicked city stood, where we now see Bomere Pool. The inhabitants had turned back from Christianity to heathenism, and though God sent one of the Roman soldiers to be a prophet to them, like Jonah to Nineveh, they would not repent. Far from that, they ill-used and persecuted the preacher. Only the daughter of the governor remained constant to the faith. She listened gladly to the Christian's teaching, and he on his part loved her, and would have had her to be his wife. But no such happy lot was in store for the faithful parson. On the following Easter Eve, sudden destruction came upon the city. The distant Caradoc-the highest and most picturesque of the Stutton Hills, crowned by a British encampment, which some have supposed to be the scene of Caractacus's last standsent forth flames of fire, and at the same time the city was overwhelmed by a tremendous flood, while the “sun in the heavens danced for joy, and the cattle in the stalls knelt in thanksgiving that God had not permitted such wickedness to go unpunished."* But the Christian warrior was saved from the flood, and he took a boat and rowed over the waters, seeking for his betrothed, but all in vain. His boat was overturned, and he, too, was drowned in the depths of the mere. Yet whenever Easter Eve falls on the same day as it did that year, the form of the Roman warrior may be seen again, rowing across Bomere in search of his lost one, while the church bells are heard ringing far in the depths below.—Ibid., p. 65.
At Colemere the bells may be heard, according to one authority, on windy nights when the moon is full. According to another, at midnight on the anniversary of the patron saint of the chapel, whom yet another informant declares to have been St. Helen.
These words were repeated as a sort of formula, necessary to the proper telling of the story. Their connection with the two dates, Christmas and Easter, as assigned for the destruction is striking.
Another story is that a monastery once stood on the ground occupied by the pool, but a spring burst forth close to it, and swelled to such a height that the waters quickly covered the monastery, and formed Colemere, beneath which the chapel bells may yet be yearly heard ringing.
Another variant runs as follows:
"They say that the old church at Colemere was pulled down by Oliver Cromwell, and the bells thrown into the mere. Once an attempt was made to get them up. Chains had been fastened to them, and twenty oxen had succeeded in drawing them to the side, when a man who had been helping said to someone who had doubted their being able to raise them: 'In spite of God and the devil we have done it.' At these words the chains snapped. The bells rolled back into the water. They heard the sound, and saw by the bubbles where they had settled, but they could not see anything more, nor has anything ever been seen or heard of them since." Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 67.
The Berth Pool near Baschurch lies at the foot of the Berth Hill, a very curious entrenched camp on an eminence in the midst of a morass, where it was once intended to build the parish church. But the same mysterious "something" which interfered with the building on the height also threw the bells intended for it into the Berth Pool. Horses were brought and fastened to them, but were quite powerless to draw them out. Then oxen were tried with better success; but just as the bells were coming to the surface of the water, one of the men employed in the work let slip an oath, on which they fell back, crying, "No! never!" And they lie at the bottom of the pool to this day. "Three cart-ropes" will not reach the bottom of the Berth Pool.-Ibid., p. 68.
Between Oswestry and Llanymynech, close beside the railway, lies a pretty little pool called Llynclys, or Llyn-y-clys, which is variously interpreted to mean "the swallowed hall," or "the lake of the enclosure." Early in this century there were many who believed that "when the water was clear enough" the
towers of a palace might be discerned at the bottom; only, as the author of the Gossiping Guide to Wales observes, "unfortunately there never appears to have been a day when the water was clear enough." The legend which tells of the destruction of this palace-though now, it seems, forgotten -is recorded in an old MS. history of Oswestry, preserved in the British Museum, and communicated to the present writer by Mr. Askew Roberts of Croeswylay, Oswestry, the author of the Guide aforesaid. It is as follows:
"About twoe miles of Oswestry within the parishe there is a poole called llynclis of which poole Humffrey Lloyd reporteth thus: German Altisiodorensis preached sometime there against the Pelagian heresie. The King whereof, as is there read, because hee refused to heare that good man by the secrett and terrible judgment of God with his pallace and all his househould was swallowed up into the bowelles of the earth. Suo in loco non procul ab oswaldia est Stagnum incognite profunditatis llynclis id est vorago palatij in hunc dictum. In that place whereas not far from Oswestry is nowe a standing water of an unknown depth called llynclis that is the devouring of the pallace." Llynclys Pool is one which has "never a bottom to it."Ibid., p. 68.
The great mere at Ellesmere is the subject of many legends, or rather variants of one legend, all bearing on the same notion of wickedness punished by a flood. Where Ellesmere stands was once as fine a stretch of meadow-land as any in the county. In a large field in the midst of it there was a well of beautiful water, from which everyone in the neighbourhood used to fetch as much as they pleased. At last there was a change of tenants in the farm to which the field belonged; and the new-comer was a churlish man, who said the comers and goers trampled down his grass. So he stopped the poor people coming to the well with their cans and buckets as they had been used to do for years and years, and allowed no one to draw water there besides his own family. But no good came of such hard dealings. One morning, very soon after the people had been forbidden to come, the farmer's wife went out
"Ye neighbours one and all, beware! If here to come again you dare
For you 'twill be the worse!"
to the well for water, but instead of the well she found that the whole field was one great pool, and so it has remained ever since. But the farmer and all of his family who held the field after him, were obliged to pay the same rent as before, as a punishment for such unneighbourly conduct.
A correspondent of Shreds and Patches, in 1881, picked up another version. Both are evidently genuine folk-tales.
"A many many years ago, clean water was very scarce in this neighbourhood." All that could be got, was what was fetched from a beautiful well in the very middle of what is now the mere at Ellesmere. But the people to whom the land belonged were so grasping that they charged a half-penny for every bucketful that was drawn, which fell very heavy on the poor, and they prayed to Heaven to take some notice of their wrongs. So the Almighty, to punish those who so oppressed the poor, caused the well to burst forth in such volumes that it flooded all the land about, and so formed the mere. And so thenceforward there was plenty of water free to all comers.-Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 69.
A third variant has been versified by the Rev. Oswald M. Feilden, vicar of Frankton, near Ellesmere :
I've heard it said, where now so clear The water of that silver mere,
It once was all dry ground; And on a gentle eminence, A cottage with a garden fence, Which hedged it all around.
And there resided all alone,
A witch, as some folks thought.
But greatly it displeased the dame
"Upon this little hill," said she, "My house I built for privacy,
Which now I seek in vain : For day by day your people come Thronging in crowds around my home, This water to obtain."
But when folks laughed at what she said,
'Oh, aye, sir, it's Kettlemar.' 'How deep is it ?' 'Oh, it's no bottom to it, and the tother's deeper till that, sir!'"
The Ladies' (or Lady's) Walk at Ellesmere is a paved causeway running far into the mere, with which, more than forty years ago, old swimmers were well acquainted. It could be traced by bathers until they got out of their depth. How much farther it might run they of course knew not. Its existence seems to have been almost forgotten, until in 1879 some divers, searching for the body of a drowned man, came upon it at the bottom of the mere, and this led to old inhabitants mentioning their knowledge of it. Shrop shire Folk-lore, p. 77.
There is in England a lake which is commonly called Wlfrisimere, that is, the mere of King Wlfer, which abounds with fish when all are allowed to fish in it, but when men are prevented from fishing in it, few or no fish are found in it.
In the same region is Haveringe-mere. If a person in sailing over it calls out: "Prout Haveringe-mere, or allethorpe cunthefere," a storm arises at once and swamps his boat. These words convey an insult, as if it were said to the lake: "Thou art called Haueringemere," ie., Hauering's mere. Both (lakes) are on the borders of Wales. The above puzzling extract is from Gervase of Tilbury, which was communicated to the Rev. H. B. Taylor, in the belief that the meres mentioned in them were probably to be identified with Ellesmere and its neighbour Newton Mere.-Ibid., p. 72.
The White Lady of Kilsall haunts the dark walk beside the pool in the grounds of
that old-fashioned mansion. She is said to be the ghost of one of the Whiston family, who were owners of Kilsall, near Albrighton, in the time of Elizabeth, and whose name is still preserved in that of "Whiston's Cross," in the same neighbourhood.-Ibid., p. 77.
CHILD'S ERCALL, MERMAID.
Two versions are here given, one in the vernacular, the other in vulgar English :
Naw, Ah nivir 'eerd tell as anny think
'ad bin sin o' leate 'ears, but thur was a marmed seed thur wonst. It was a good bit agoo, afore moy toime. Ah daresee as it 'ud be a 'undred 'ears back. Thur wuz two chaps a-gooin' to woork won mornin' early, an' they'd in raught as fur as the pit soide in Mr. 's faild, an' they seed summat asquattin' atop o' the waëter as did skear 'em above a bit! Eh, they thought as 'ow it were gooin' to tek 'em roight streat off to th' Owd Lad 'is sin ! Well, ah conna joost sea ezackly what it were loike, ah wunna thur, yo' known; but it were a marmed, saëm as yo' readen on i' the paëpers. The chaps 'ad loike to a runned awea at first, they wun that skeared, but as soon's iver the marmed spoken to 'em, they niver thoughton no moor o' that. 'Er v'ice was se swate an' se pleasant, they fell in lŏŏve wi' 'er thur an' then, the both on 'em. Well, an' 'er towd 'em as 'ow thur wuz a treasure 'id at the bottom o' the pit, lŏŏmps o' gowd, an' dear knows what. An 'er'd give 'em all as iver they loiked if se be as they'd'n coom to 'er i' the waëter an' tek it out of 'er 'ands. So they wenten inwelly up to their chins it were-an' 'ei dowked down i' the waëter an' brought ŏŏp a lŏŏmp o' gowd, as big as a mon's yed, very near. An' the chaps wun joost a-goin' to tek it off 'er, an' the won on 'em say: 'Eh,' sez 'he (an' swore, ye known), if this inna a bit o' luck!' An' moy word! if the marmed didn't tek it off 'em agin, an' give a koind of shroike, an' dowked down agen into the pit, an' they niver seed no more on 'er, not a'ter; nor got none o' the gowd; nor nobody's niver seed nothink on 'er since."
The following is a translation:
"No, I never heard anything had been seen of late years, but there was a mermaid seen there once. It was a good while ago, hundred years ago. There were two men before my time. I dare say it might be a going to work early one morning, and they had got as far as the side of the pond in Mr.'s field, and they saw something on the top of the water which scared them not a little. They thought it was going to take them straight off to the Old Lad himself! I can't say exactly what it was like, I wasn't there, you know; but it was a mermaid, the same as you read of in the papers. The fellows had almost run away at first, they were so
frightened, but as soon as the mermaid had spoken to them, they thought no more of that. Her voice was so sweet and pleasant, that they fell in love with her there and then, both of them. Well, she told them there was a treasure hidden at the bottom of the pond-lumps of gold, and no one knows what. And she would give them as much as ever they liked if they would come to her in the water and take it out of her hands. So they went in, though it was almost up to their chins, and she dived into the water and brought up a lump of gold almost as big as a man's head. And the men were just going to take it, when one of them said: Eh!' he said (and swore, you know), 'if this isn't a bit of luck!' And, my word! if the mermaid didn't take it away from them again, and gave a scream, and dived down into the pond, and they saw no more of her, and got none of her gold. And nobody has ever seen her since then." No doubt the story once ran that the oath which scared the uncanny creature involved the mention of the Holy Name.-Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 78.
Some Old Gardens. BY J. A. SPARVEL-BAYLY.
JARDENING was, as we know, one
of the first arts acquired by man. Culinary, and afterwards medicinal, herbs were matters of importance to the head of every family, and it soon dawned upon primeval man that it would be more convenient to have them within reach, without the trouble of seeking them at random in woods, in meadows, and on mountains, as they were wanted. When the earth ceased to furnish spontaneously all those primitive luxuries, and culture became requisite, separate enclosures for rearing herbs and fruits grew expedient. Those most in use, and those demanding the greatest care and closest attention, probably entered first, and gradually extended the domestic enclosure. That good man Noah, we are told, planted a vineyard, drank the
wine of his own making, and unfortunately became drunken. Thus were acquired kitchen gardens, orchards, and vineyards. No doubt the prototype of all these was the garden of Eden; but as that Paradise was a good deal larger than any we read of afterwards, being enclosed by the rivers Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates, and as every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food grew in it, and as two other trees were also found there, of which not a slip or sucker now remains, it does not enter within the scope of the present article. After the fall, no man living was suffered to enter the garden, and the necessities of our first ancestors hardly allowed them time to make improvements on their estate in imitation of it.
When Adam delved and Eve span Who was then a gentleman?
A cavern and a slip of ground, such as we see by the side of a common, were in all probability the earliest seats and gardens; a
well and a crock succeeded the Pison and the Euphrates. As settlements increased, the orchard and vineyard followed, and the earliest princes of tribes possessed just the necessaries of a farmer. The garden of Alcinous, in the Odyssey, is the most reInowned in the heroic times. Is there an admirer of Homer who can read his description without rapture? or who does not form to his imagination a scene of delight more picturesque than the landscapes of Titian? Yet what was that boasted Paradise with which
The gods ordain'd To grace Alcinous and his happy land. Why, divested of harmonious Greek and bewitching poetry, it was a small orchard and vineyard, with some beds of herbs and two fountains that watered them, enclosed with a quickset hedge. The whole compass of this much-vaunted garden enclosed just four acres.
Four acres was th' allotted space of ground Fenc'd with a green enclosure all around. The trees were apples, figs, pomegranates, pears, olives, and vines, and
Beds of all various herbs for ever green, In beauteous order terminate the scene. This garden of Alcinous, planted by the poet, was enriched by him with the fairy gift