Mary of Burgundy by G P R James Page 1 of 546


It was on the evening of a beautiful day in the beginning of September, 1456--one of those fair autumn days that wean us, as it were, from the passing summer, with the light as bright, and the sky as full of rays, as in the richest hours of June; and with nothing but a scarce perceptible shade of yellow in the woods to tell that it is not the proudest time of the year's prime.

It was in the evening, as I have said; but nothing yet betokened darkness. The sun had glided a considerable way on his descent down the bright arch of the western sky, yet without one ray being shadowed, or any lustre lost.

He had reached that degree of declination alone, at which his beams, pouring from a spot a little above the horizon, produced, as they streamed over forest and hill, grand masses of light and shade, with every here and there a point of dazzling brightness, where the clear evening rays were reflected from stream or lake.

It was in the heart of a deep forest, too, whose immemorial trees, worn away by time, or felled by the axe, left in various places wide open spaces of broken ground and turf, brushwood and dingle,--and amidst whose deep recesses a thousand spots rich in woodland beauty lay hidden from the eye of man.

Those were not, indeed, times when taste and cultivation had taught the human race to appreciate fully all the charms and magnificence wherewith nature's hand has robed the globe which we inhabit; and the only beings that then trod the deeper glades of the forest were the woodman, the hunter, or those less fortunate persons who--as we see them represented by the wild pencil of Salvator Rosa--might greatly increase the picturesque effect of the scenes they frequented; but, probably, did not particularly feel it themselves.

But there is, nevertheless, in the heart of man, a native sense of beauty, a latent sympathy, a harmony with all that is lovely on the earth, which makes him unconsciously seek out spots of peculiar sweetness, not only for his daily dwelling, but also for both his temporary resting place, and for the mansion of his long repose, whether the age or the country be rude or not.

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