Elizabeth Missing Sewell (1815-1906)

THERE is a village amongst the Wiltshire Downs lying in a hollow below broad green pastures and chalky hills. It has but one long street and a few straggling cottages and grey farmhouses amongst gardens and trees–happy and homelike as an oasis in the desert to the traveller who first looks upon them from the heights; and near it and within it stand smooth stones, giant in size, and deep and mysterious in their meaning, the relics of a heathen worship; and high grassy banks, upon which children play, and along which labourers plod, without a thought of the history pictured before their eyes, mark the precincts of those ancient temples. In the centre of the village is the Rectory (Vicarage), not looking towards the street, but fronting a pleasant garden and green fields, across which was a path leading to a vast mound said to be the work of human hands. Marvellous it is even as the mystic stones that tell of the creed of the generations gone by; and solemn and peaceful are the blue mists that rest upon it in the early morning, veiling its outlines as the shadows of the past. I have lingered at the garden gate day after day, gazing upon the old circular hill, and hearing no sound to break the stillness of the air, until I could have fancied that peace–the peace of a world which has never echoed to the sound of a human voice–the peace of the spirits who rest in hope, was lingering amidst that quiet village.

Avebury, from Experience of Life by Elizabeth Missing Sewell (1815-1906). See also the poem From Western Lands by Mary S Cope (1852-1882) here.