The Romance of the Forest

By Ann Radcliffe; Chloe Chard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

'How these antique towers and vacant courts
Chill the suspended soul! Till expectation
Wears the face of fear: and fear, half ready
To become devotion, mutters a kind
Of mental orison, it knows not wherefore.
What a kind of being is circumstance!'

HORACE WALPOLE*

HE approached, and perceived the Gothic remains of an abbey: it stood on a kind of rude lawn, overshadowed by high and spreading trees, which seemed coeval with the building, and diffused a romantic gloom* around. The greater part of the pile appeared to be sinking into ruins, and that, which had withstood the ravages of time, shewed the remaining features of the fabric more awful in decay. The lofty battlements,* thickly enwreathed with ivy, were half demolished, and become the residence of birds of prey. Huge fragments of the eastern tower, which was almost demolished, lay scattered amid the high grass, that waved slowly to the breeze. 'The thistle shook its lonely head; the moss whistled to the wind.'* A Gothic gate, richly ornamented with fret-work, which opened into the main body of the edifice, but which was now obstructed with brush-wood, remained entire. Above the vast and magnificent portal of this gate arose a window of the same order, whose pointed arches still exhibited fragments of stained glass, once the pride of monkish devotion. La Motte, thinking it possible it might yet shelter some human being, advanced to the gate and lifted a massy knocker. The hollow sounds rung through the emptiness of the place. After waiting a few minutes, he forced back the gate, which was heavy with iron work, and creaked harshly on its hinges.

He entered what appeared to have been the chapel of the abbey, where the hymn of devotion had once been raised, and the tear of penitence had once been shed; sounds, which could now only be recalled by imagination--tears of penitence, which had been long since fixed in fate. La Motte paused a moment, for he felt a sensation of sublimity rising into terror--a suspension of mingled astonishment and awe!* He

-15-

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The Romance of the Forest
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Romance of the Forest i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Text xxv
  • Select Bibliography xxvi
  • A Chronology of Ann Radcliffe xxix
  • Advertisement ii
  • Volume I 1
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 15
  • Chapter III 33
  • Chapter III 44
  • Chapter III 59
  • Chapter III 97
  • Volume II 111
  • Chapter X 137
  • Chapter XII 172
  • Chapter XIII 205
  • Volume III 224
  • Chapter XVI 240
  • Chapter XVIII 271
  • Chapter XIX 293
  • Chapter XX 307
  • Chapter XXI 315
  • Chapter XXII 332
  • Chapter XXIII 335
  • Chapter XXIII 345
  • Chapter XXIII 351
  • Explanatory Notes 364
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