The Limping Pilgrim II.

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CHAPTER X.


The yield of the ground is according to the landlord.
Tenant after tenant makes the land dear.
Tenantry are stronger than laird.
It is easy to put him out whose own the house is not.
Slippery is the flagstone at the great house door.
But for fear of double rent Tiree would yield a double crop.


G
AELIC PROVERBS.


WHEREVER one wanders he is sure to meet with indications of the common kinship of mankind; and as far as literature goes, I don't know anything that shows this more strongly than the proverbs of different nations.

    I have no doubt that some of the proverbs which I have placed at the head of this chapter have frequently passed from mouth to mouth amongst the crofters and other poor tenants of Skye during the recent troubled time in that island.  Like the rest of the world, the natives of the Hebrides have preserved a flight of pithy sayings, which embody, in a condensed and sometimes in an artistic form, much of the wit and wisdom of their forefathers, and some of these Hebridean proverbs are said to smack strongly of the common sayings of our Scandinavian ancestors; although their resemblance to the proverbs of the north of Ireland, and of the south-west of Scotland, and even of the Isle of Man, is much more common and remarkable.

    In my rambles among the people of Rum, I have, now and then, met with one of the proverbs peculiar to this northern region, such as "Puffing won't make piping," "The nodding of heads doesn't row the boat," "The sod is a good mother-in-law;" and, about the end of last July, whilst lingering upon the rocky shore by the pier of the Isle of Eigg, I got into talk with a Highlandman, who, like myself, was waiting for the steamer.  The theme of our short conversation was chiefly about the weather, which had been remarkably changeable for several weeks previous.  "Ah," said he, "the sea will never settle till it gets married."  Another of these proverbs which I have met with, is "Night is a good herdsman; it brings all creatures home," which has almost an equivalent in our own Lancashire "Neet brings th' crows whoam."

    I find that most of these sayings have a place in Dr. Alexander Nicholson's collections of Gaelic proverbs, which I have by me.  Whilst poring upon that book, I have been pleased to meet with two which reminded me strongly of the manners and speech of my own land.  The first of these is the Gaelic proverb, "Am fear a 's fliche, rachhadhe do 'n allt," which means "Let him that is wettest go to the burn."  In connection with this proverb, Dr. Nicholson has the following note: "It is said that a young wife having made this response to her husband, who asked for some water on coming home wet, he went and fetched a bucketful, which he straightway emptied over her head, adding, 'Co's fliche a nis?' (Who is wettest now?)  There is a Breton story to the same effect."

    This proverb reminded me of an anecdote which is well known in the town of Oldham, in Lancashire.  A farmer's wife in that neighbourhood was bustling about in her kitchen one day whilst a heavy shower of rain was falling, when one of the stalwart men-servants on the farm came stalking in at the doorway, drenched to the skin with the rain.  Just then the farmer's wife was short of water for her household purposes; so she laid hold of a large tin can which would hold ten gallons, and giving it to the drenched man, she said, "Here, Sam; thou art weet, and thou con nobbut be weet; run to th' well for a can-full o' wayter."  Sam took the can and went away to the well without a word.  In a little while he came back with the can-full of water upon his head; and going right up to the farmer's wife, he tipped the whole can full of water upon her; and, as he laid the can down, he said, "Now then, Mally; thou art weet, an' thou con nobbut be weet; fotch th' next can-fall thisel'!"

    The next of these northern proverbs which suddenly brought me home to the land of long chimneys is the following: "Twenty-four 'buses' in Islay, and twenty-four 'ards' in Mull."  In connection with this proverb, Dr. Nicholson says: "A common termination of names of places in Islay is 'bus' or 'bos' (generally 'bost' in Skye and Lewis), from the Norse 'bolstao' or 'bustaor,' a dwelling place.  The Gaelic prefix 'ard' or 'aird,' a height or promontory, is common in Mull and elsewhere."  With respect to the Gaelic prefix 'ard' or 'aird,' my mind instantly reverted to our own Ardwick, in Manchester; and to "The Aird," near Bushmills, in the North of Ireland; both of which places are such as the name is applied to.  With respect to the word or affix, "bus," which is so common in Islay, and other Hebridean isles, and which is evidently from the Norse "bolstao," or bustaor," a dwelling place, there is no doubt that it is the same as the word "boose," which still lives in the Lancashire dialect, and is applied, there, to an enclosed resting place, such as a pew, or a stall for cattle.

    In connection with this word, also, there is a Lancashire anecdote, which illustrates its use in that county.  One fine Sunday forenoon in the height of summer time, all was still in a little country church in Lancashire, except the preacher's voice, and the twitter of wild birds which came in at the open doorway.  All at once the profound repose of the scene was broken by a lad, who came rushing in at the doorway, bareheaded, and then, halting in the middle of the aisle, he stared wildly around, and cried out, "Which boose is mi faither in?"  The lad's father knew the voice in a minute; and he rose up in one of the pews, and shook his fist, as a warning for the lad to hold his tongue.  The lad, however, was not at all daunted by this; and he cried out again, "Come eawt! yo'r wanted!"  The father shook his clenched fist at the lad again, more savagely than before, and he muttered, loud enough to be heard, "I'll warm thee for this, owd lad, when th' service 's o'er!"  The lad heard him well enough; but he at it again, and cried, "I don't care!  Yo mun come this minute!  Th' pigs are i'th can-el!" (canal). . . .

    After this digression, I will now resume my stroll along the shore of Scresort Bay.  At the close of the last chapter, I mentioned the garden connected with the cottage of the old widow, Sarah Mackinnon.  This cottage is last of the little cluster of Highland huts known upon the shore of the bay as "The Town."  The few remaining dwellings upon that shore are quite of a different character.  The first of these is not more than a hundred yards past the old widow's garden.  It stands within a dozen yards or so of the roadside, and is divided from it by a small plot of grassy ground, with a strong wire fence.  Its front windows face the upper part of the bay, and the mountain side beyond that.  It is a plain, substantial house, of two storeys; and it is four rooms in length upon the ground floor.  It was built a few years ago, by the laird of the island, for the accommodation of visitors during the shooting season.  It is whitewashed outside; and it is known amongst the people of Rum by the name of "Tigh Ban," or "The White House."

    There is one peculiarity about this house which gives a good idea of the seclusion of the spot, and the primitive simplicity of its inhabitants, and that is, that the doors are hardly ever locked by night or day.  I certainly never knew all the outer doors locked at one time, even in the shooting season, when the bedrooms are all occupied by visitors; and, even then, it not unfrequently happens that the doors, and many of the windows, of the lower storey are left wide open through the night, and at any other time of the year, if a sudden storm comes on, anybody who happens to be passing by may safely run for shelter to the White House, for he will be able to get in there without let or hindrance.

    In a green field behind the house there is a well, strongly impregnated with iron and other matters, which are said to have a valuable medicinal effect.  The well is sunk in the field, and there are some traces of rude masonry about its sides, as if it had been known and used by the old inhabitants of the isle.  The craggy mountain called Haleval, rises from the rear of the house to the height of 2,367 feet, and from its rugged steep two streams descend, passing within a few yards of each end of the house, one on the east, the other on the west side; and, almost all through the year, but specially in winter time, the wild deer come down from the mountains in the night to feed in the field behind the house.  When the steamers call at Rum,—which is always by special arrangement,—they call at such irregular times that their coming can never be calculated upon to anything like a nicety; and, as they generally come in the night time, they have to sound a kind of hoarse horn, or whistle, to let the sleeping inhabitants know that they are in the bay; and, about four o'clock one morning in the last summer, I was aroused by the whistle of the Hebridean.  Dressing myself hastily, I hurried away from Kinloch House, down to the pier, to get some letters away by the steamer; and, as I ran past the White House, I saw a fine fallow deer grazing in the field behind the house, within 200 yards of the road.  The beautiful animal did not start away, but gazed upon me as I went by.  This is the only time when I have actually seen deer in that field; but I understand that a night rarely passes in which they are not to be seen there.

    The washing for the visitors at Kinloch House is always done at the White House during the shooting season; and it has been found advisable to close the iron gate carefully at night, because some of the cows belonging to people along the shore have actually been known to eat the clothes which have been left out upon the hedges to bleach.

    From the White House a winding walk of about five hundred yards by the edge of the bay brings us to a little rustic bridge which crosses a beautiful trout stream just before it runs into the head of the bay.  This is the place from which a former bridge was carried away into the sea by the great tide which drowned the terrified inhabitants out of their huts along the shore, about the end of last November.




――――♦――――

 


CHAPTER XI.


Here, rivers in the sea are lost
There mountains to the sky are tost;
Here, tumbling billows mark the coast
                         With surging foam.


B
URNS.


THE rustic bridge which, last year, crossed the mountain stream on the south-west side of "Tigh Mòr," or "The big house," at the head of Scresort Bay, was indeed a very simple rustic contrivance, quite in keeping with the primitive huts of the inhabitants along the shore, and with the wild natural beauty of the scene around.  It consisted of three narrow deal planks, part of the drift-wood brought ashore by the tide.  The middle plank of the three bent below the other two, because it was cracked across; and it was only kept together by a rough slab, or patch, of wood, nailed lengthwise over the crack.  That patched plank was generally avoided by heavy feet, for it was unsafe to tread upon; indeed I have seen the patched crack gape in an ominous way under a very light footstep.  These three planks made the pathway across the stream; and the only protection, or guidance, for the passenger along the bridge, on a dark night, was a rough wooden rail on one side only, supported by a rough upright wooden post, at each end of the bridge.  The bridge was supposed to be supported from beneath, by a strong round sea-bleached post, which looked as if it had been part of the mast of a fishing smack.  This post was planted aslant about the middle of the stream; and it certainly propped one of the three planks of the bridge; but, unfortunately, that was not the plank which needed it most.

    Such was the bridge which crossed this stream when I left the island, in a wild equinoctial gale, about the end of September, 1881.  I had seen my last of it, however; for near the end of November, in the same year, the bay was visited by the extraordinary tide, which,—as I was told the other day by one of the inhabitants (John MacCaskill),—rose six feet higher than ever it had been known to rise within the memory of anybody living upon the island.  That tide swept away the little bridge, all but the sea-bleached post in the middle of the stream; which was left standing because it presented no resistance to the tide.  When I returned to the island this year (1882), I found a new bridge; but so like the old one that a careless observer might not have noticed any difference; indeed the new bridge was made partly out of the old one.  The three planks which made the footpath of the former bridge were carried away; and the only one of the three which was recovered was the cracked plank, which had been incorporated with the new bridge.  This plank, with the addition of a deal baulk,—part of the wreck of some timber-laden ship,—now form the sole footpath of the new bridge; and for one foot that treads upon the plank, there are twenty that choose the deal baulk.  A simple wooden rail on one side only, completes the bridge, which is less than two feet wide, including the cracked plank.

    Burns, in his "Twa Brigs," speaks of the "auld brig" of Ayr as a pathway where "twa wheelbarrows tremble when they meet;" but this bridge is too narrow for that.  The other day, when the stream was swollen with heavy rain, old Mackinnon, the gardener, was trying to wheel a barrowful of dirty clothes across the bridge, and not daring to trust the wheel upon the cracked plank, he was compelled to tilt his barrow so much on one side, that, at last, he overbalanced it, and down it went into the stream, with him after it.  The fall was only about six feet; but it was quite enough at once, for an old man.  He was crooning Gaelic verse when he came across the meadow; but, as he clambered up the bank out of that stream, he was talking prose.

    When the stream is swollen, there is no other road but by this bridge, from the north to the south side of the bay, unless one likes to wade through the water; and, even here, I have seen people who were "not on speaking terms," as the saying is, who would dodge and linger about in the distance, so as to let each other get by without being compelled to meet upon that narrow path.

    There are no timber yards, nor joiners' shops, upon this island; and, with the exception of a few nails, which fasten the patch upon the cracked plank, the little bridge is entirely made out of wreck-wood brought ashore by the waves; indeed, nearly all kinds of simple household woodwork, such as tables, chairs, shelves, and chests for the living, and coffins for the dead,—such as the rude box in which the remains of "the old captain" were lately laid in the old graveyard at Kilmory,—are made of these waifs of wreck from the wild ocean. . . .

    At the little bridge, we are on the south side of a level piece of grassland at the head of the bay, and between the hills, which shut in the scene on all sides except the east, in which direction the bay stretches out for a mile or so, and mingles with the sound.  The first land, looking eastward from the head of the bay, is the Point of Sleat, which is the southernmost end of the Isle of Skye.  Beyond this is the Sound of Sleat; and beyond that, the whole background of the scene is filled with the grand mountain range of Inverness-shire, rolling along the horizon in stormy waves, which rise, here and there, into wild craggy peaks.

    A few yards' walk from the end of the bridge, and along the burnside, brings us to a rickety wooden gate, from which a good pathway leads across a meadow of about four acres, at the head of the bay.  This is the greatest piece of level and cultivated land which I have seen upon all the island up to this time; except at Kilmory, the site of the ancient church and village of that name, where there is another piece of level grassland, about the same extent.  With these exceptions, and three or four smaller tracts of level farm land at Harris, at Gouridale, and at Papadale, almost all the island consists of wild, heathery, mountainous land, and lonely corries, "where storm, and solitude, and silence dwell; and stern sublimity has set his throne."  I have seen this meadow at the head of the bay in the height of its summer pride; and, though it had not the wonderful variety of delicate grasses which look so beautiful in many of our fertile English meadows, yet it seemed unusually rich in weeds, as well as wildflowers, some of which were not familiar to me; and the herbage seemed to have more stalk than lush green blade in it.

    The hay here is seldom "well got," as we call it in England.  This is partly owing to the wetness of the climate, and partly to the way in which the crop is handled; for, after it has been cut,—which is often done in a tardy fashion, a bit to day and a bit more to-morrow, and so on,—it is generally left long upon the field, stewing in the rain, and draining and drying in the sun and wind, until it becomes so colourless, and scentless, and hard, and stalky,—like vegetable wire,—that, to southern eyes, it looks almost unfit for anything but bedding.  But these hardy Highland cattle are glad of it, and they seem to thrive on it.  Apart from all this, I have had many a pleasant hour amongst the haymakers in that meadow, when the collies belonging to the farm lay curled up, here and there, upon the field, whilst terriers and setters, and mongrels frolicked in and out amongst the haycocks; and the wild strains of Gaelic song rose up distinctly in the quiet scene, mingling with the surge of the sea, and with the murmurous music of the mountain stream which ran close by.  Strange English visitors, who have come here during the shooting season, sometimes meet natives of the island upon the path across this meadow, and they not unfrequently receive the reply of "No English" in return for their salutations.

    The strip of road across the meadow is the best promenade on this side of the island.  The land is sufficiently elevated to command a complete view of the bay, and of the glorious range of mountains in the eastern background, beyond the sea.  Looking westward it affords a fine unimpeded view of the beautiful little glen which runs in that direction for three or four miles; from which point it winds away northward, down to ancient Kilmory, and the scene is shut in by the enfolding hills.  In every other direction, the mountains of the isle stand wildly around the quiet tract of cultivated land at the head of the bay, of which the meadow may be reckoned the centre.  Many a time have I come out from Kinloch House to this field path, to look at a glorious sunset glowing against the dark outline of the mountains at the head of the glen; and one fine morning at the beginning of this October, Donald Macleod, the deer stalker, sent word into the house that there was a fine stag grazing upon one of the mountain ridges, a little north of Haleval; and we all ran out to the field path in the meadow with glasses, to aid the sight.  We could see the graceful animal with the naked eye; but, with the aid of the glass, he was distinctly visible, clear in outline against the sky, upon the bold ridge of the mountain, looking calmly down upon the vale below, and then bending his fine antlered head again to crop the mountain herbage. . . .

    The land at the north-east end of the meadow is occupied by Kinloch House,—which is also known amongst the people of the island as "Tigh Mòr," or "The Big House,"—with its lawn and garden, and the cluster of trees which shades the rear and the ends of the building.  These trees were planted about fifty years ago; and their fine, healthy appearance, now, is strong evidence of what might be done in these bare, mountainous Hebridean isles by plantation.  This compact clump of wood at Kinloch House looks very striking seen from the bay; and it looks all the more so because the rest of the island is as bare of trees as a lapstone.  With the exception of this bit of woodland, I don't believe there is another tree on the island bigger than the gooseberry trees in the garden at Kinloch House.  In Dr. Johnson's account of his "Journey to the Western Isles," in 1773, he frequently complains of the scarcity of trees, not only in the Hebridean isles, but on the whole of his way through Scotland.  He says,


"From the bank of the Tweed to St. Andrews I had never seen a single tree, which I did not believe had grown up within the present century.  Now and then, about a gentleman's house, stands a small plantation, which in Scotch is called a 'policy,' but of these there are few, and those few all very young.  The variety of sun and shade is here utterly unknown.  There is no tree for either shelter or timber.  The oak and the thorn is equally a stranger, and the whole country is extended in uniform nakedness, except that in the road between Kirkcaldy and Cupar I passed for a few yards between two hedges.  A tree might be shown in Scotland as a horse in Venice.  At St. Andrews Mr. Boswell found only one, and recommended it to my notice; I told him that it was rough and low, or looked as if I thought so.  'This,' said he, 'is nothing to another a few miles off.'  I was still less delighted to hear that another tree was not to be seen nearer.  'Nay,' said a gentleman that stood by, 'I know but of this and that tree in the county.'"


    A little further on, in the same account, he says, again, in relation to the lack of trees in Scotland,


"I believe few regions have been denuded like this, where many centuries must have passed in waste without the least thought of future supply."


    All the way through his book he keeps up the same complaint about the absence of trees.  In one place he says,


"I sat down upon a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign.  I had indeed no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet."


    I believe there has been a considerable amount of planting done in the Lowlands of Scotland since Dr. Johnson's time; but the Hebrides are almost as bare of trees now as they were then.  A recent contributor to Blackwood's Magazine, writing of the island of "Tiree," says, "A fuchsia bush in the minister's garden is the nearest approach to a forest within the four corners of the island."  The Isle of Rum is almost as bare as Tiree; for, as I said before, with the exception of the trees which shade the rear of Kinloch House, there is not another tree, worthy of the name, on all the island.  Dr. Johnson describes it as " mountainous, rugged, and barren;" and it is mountainous, rugged, and barren still.  Kinloch House was built soon after the time when the Macleans of Coll became owners of the Isle of Rum.  Dr. Johnson says of the Isle of Rum,


"It originally belonged to Clanranald, and was purchased by Coll (that is, the laird of Coll), who, in some dispute about the bargain, made Clanranald prisoner, and kept him nine months in confinement."


He says, also,


"The rent of Rum is not great.  Mr. Maclean declared that he should be very rich if he could set his land at twopence halfpenny an acre.  The inhabitants are fifty-eight families."


This was in 1773.  There are very few more persons, old and young, upon the island, now, than there were families at that time.


――――♦――――



 
CHAPTER XII.


I THINK the cluster of trees at the rear of Kinloch House does not cover more than an acre of ground altogether, and yet the natives of Rum speak of it as "The Park."  And, indeed, when one comes to consider the matter, it is no wonder that they call it so; for there is not another spot on the whole island where a man could meet with a piece of growing timber big enough to make into a walking-stick.  An Englishman, accustomed to fine tracts of woodland such as the New Forest, and Sherwood Forest with its "Dukeries," may perhaps smile at the idea of a patch of boskage like this being called a park; but to people born and bred amongst these unshaded Hebridean wilds it is a remarkable object.

    The ground now covered with these trees was originally part of the meadow at the head of the bay; and, even now, they adjoin one another, or rather, they run into each other, for the trees upon the fringe of the wood straggle on to the meadow, and the greenery of the meadow creeps under the edge of the wood; and the road which crosses the open meadow, as soon as it gets under the trees, throws off several little wandering footpaths into the wood, as if it were delighted to meet with a bit of leafy shade.  And, for myself, I may say that, much as I have enjoyed the profound solitude, and the wild bleak grandeur of this mountainous isle, this little clump of woodland at the rear of the house, and overlooked, on all sides but the east by the wild hills, has been a perpetual pleasure to me.  To me it has been a beautiful natural harp, whose music was always soothing,—though full of changeful moods, and seldom still.  When the wind whispered low, the rustle of its leaves mingled dreamily with the quiet surge of the waves along the shore at the foot of the lawn in front of the house; and when a strong southwest gale came rushing down the glen, its stormy voice, blending with the rage of the sea, rose wild and high, filling all the air between the enfolding hills with grand elemental uproar.

    Immediately connected as this wood is with "Tigh Mor," or "The Big House," there was always something interesting going on under its shade; in fact, I have seen more of the life of the island there than in any other single spot, except the huts of the inhabitants.  When the sportsmen started from Kinloch House in a morning, clad in their shooting gear, with their guns, and their gillies, and their deer-stalkers, and their dogs bounding around them, wild with delight, those who were not going to the hills used to follow them to the edge of this wood at the rear of the house, to "see them off," and to bid them "good morning," and to wish them "good luck," and such like; and I was generally one of those who lingered behind, finding ample delight in boating upon the bay, or in wandering alone along the beautiful mountain streams.  If the weather happened to be fine when the sportsmen started for the hills in a morning, those who remained behind would sometimes have chairs brought out and set down in the meadow with their backs against the hay-cocks,—when there were any,—and there they would sit for a while, enjoying the marvellous beauty of the quiet scene, and watching the different parties of sportsmen as they wound their several ways up the mountain sides, greatly enhancing the picturesque charms of the wild landscape.

    The sportsmen did not always return from the hills before the fall of night; and, when this was the case,—especially when stormy weather had suddenly come on, which was not seldom,—it sometimes created a little anxiety amongst those left in the house; for in the wild corries of the mountains there were many places which were dangerous, and which, in misty weather, have sometimes proved fatal.  There is a steep crag near the top of Haleval, in full view from the edge of the wood, behind the house, which has more than once been pointed out to me as the place where a shepherd belonging to the island, overtaken by dense fog, stepped over the edge of the precipice, and was killed.

    If the sportsmen lingered in the hills long after the fall of night, guns were sometimes fired off at the rear of the house, the report of which might be heard miles away along the mountain sides.  Sometimes this brought a signal shot in reply from the returning sportsmen, far away up the dark glen; and the flash of their answering gun was visible to us in the gloomy distance, before the report reached our ears.  At the close of one wild day, however, hour after hour went by, and still one party which had gone out in the morning to shoot deer in the mountains, had not returned.  Several shots were fired at intervals from the rear of the house, and yet no answer came from the gloomy distance.  At last, when it was getting near midnight, two of the party came in drenched with rain, and half covered with peat mire, and bringing news that the pony they had taken with them in the morning was fast in a bog nearly five miles away.  Their day's sport had been successful, and they had started on their homeward way from a distant part of the isle, just as twilight came on, accompanied by the pony, which had a fine stag upon its back.  Their progress, however, was slow along the rugged, wandering paths, which became more and more dim as the light declined.  At last night overtook them, and the pony strayed from the track into a bog, where it got dangerously embedded.  They were nearly five miles from any habitation, and they had no lantern, nor candle to put in it, and the rain was falling fast.  They managed, however, to get the stag from the pony's back; but their utmost efforts could not release the poor brute itself from its perilous durance; and, after struggling with it for hours, they had been forced to leave it in the care of the rest of the party, and come on several miles for ropes and assistance.  After some refreshment they set off again for the place where they had left the bogged pony, taking with them lanterns, and ropes, and sufficient assistance for the purpose.  They succeeded at last in getting the pony out of the bog, and they dragged it aside into a sheltered spot, where there was a firm patch of grassy ground; but the poor old pony was so much exhausted that it was quite unable to stand; and after pouring a bottle of whisky down its throat, they laid a quantity of oatcake near its head, and then left it there to live or die, as the case might be.  It was near four in the morning when the whole of that shooting party got back to their quarters; and for some hours after that they slept without rocking.

    There was always something to arrest the attention in the little wood behind the house; go through it whenever one might, there was always something interesting going on there.  Under its shade there were three substantial wooden huts, each raised about two feet from the ground, upon stone pillars, as a protection from rats and other vermin.  One of these huts was better ventilated than the rest, being used as a meat safe or pantry; another was used as a storeroom for fishing tackle, and other odd things; and in the third the churning was done. I was always on the look-out for this, because I wanted the buttermilk, and many a time I have sat down under the trees and listened to the singing of the lasses, who were churning in the hut.  There were, generally, several deerskins and antlered heads hanging about in the wood, waiting to be sent off to be cured and stuffed by Dugald, of Glasgow; and there were almost always one or more carcases of deer slung between the trees.  Against the kitchen wall, too, under shading boughs, abundance of feathered game, chiefly grouse, might always be seen hanging; and the supply of it was renewed from day to day.  Against another wall different kinds of fish were hung; but this disappeared almost as fast as it came; for there was a large party in the house, and they had good appetites.  In one corner of the wood there was a massive butcher's block under the trees; and, sometimes, when wandering through the shade, I have caught sight of Mr. Colin Livingstone killing and dressing a sheep, assisted by old Kenneth Maclean, or old Mackinnon, the gardener, or Donald Macleod, the deer-stalker, or some of the shepherds, with two or three others, leaning against the trees, looking on.

    By the way, Mr. Colin Livingstone is the agent of the laird of the island.  He is, also, a cousin of the late Dr. David Livingstone, the famous African traveller, and he is not unworthy of such a relationship.  His son, Hugh, is a fine young highlandman.  He is in business, somewhere, in England; but he comes over to the island, now and then, to see his father and mother, and his sisters.  He came to the island whilst I was there this last summer.  He had not been there long before I found out that he was an excellent player on the pipes; for he made the whole east side of the island thrill with the historic music of his forefathers.  For hours together, he would slowly and proudly pace to and fro under the trees behind the house, with flashing eyes and distended cheeks, filling the air with the wild pibrochs of Old Scotland, whilst the lasses came stealing out of the house from their work, and the men in the fields, and shepherds from the hills, came creeping about the wood, to look admiringly upon the piper, and listen with delight to his strains.  But he did not waste his dulcet melody entirely upon the open air; for, even in the house, hour after hour,


He screwed his pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof an' rafters a' did dirl.


He, certainly, was not akin to the piper upon Keats's Grecian Urn, who "piped to the spirit, ditties of no tone."  Several walls divided me from the player and his instrument; but, in spite of that, I sometimes found it advisable to retire half a mile or so, up one of the hill sides; and then, indeed, I could feel the wild charm of that ancient pipe music, "savage and shrill," filled with the memories of a thousand years of Scottish history.

    My most constant friends and playmates, in the wood behind the house, were Mr. Livingstone's two dogs, Tam and Kyle.  Tam was a fine black and white collie, generally reckoned the best sheep dog on the island, and Kyle was a little, comical, rough-headed Skye terrier, who was called "Kyle" because he came from Kyle-Aikin, in the Isle of Skye.  These dogs always knew the sound of my feet; even when I went into the wood late; which I did, sometimes, when the moon was shining through the trees, making the scene very beautiful.




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CHAPTER XIII.


It is by living there from day to day that you feel the fulness of its charm; that you invite its exquisite influence to sink into your spirit.  The place is as changeable as a nervous woman, and you know it only when you know all the aspects of its beauty.  It has high spirits or low, it is pale or red, gray or pink, fresh or wan, according to the weather or the hour.  It is always interesting, and almost always sad; but it has a thousand occasional graces, and is always liable to happy accidents.


"V
ENICE," BY H. JAMES, JUN.


I HAVE never seen Venice; but I have visited many interesting places in my own land; the last and not least singular of which is the Isle of Rum; and when I met with the lines which I have chosen as a motto for this chapter, I felt at once that they expressed what I have often privately thought during my wanderings; and that they were applicable to many other remarkable scenes, as well as to the famous gem of the Adriatic sea.

    During my stay in the Isle of Rum, I have often felt how necessary it was to remain there for a while, until one had seen the place "all round," or rather, in all tempers and moods of weather, in order to understand it and appreciate it aright.  A man might happen to be there, for the first time, during a run of dull or wet weather, and he might hurry away from it,—if he had the chance,—with a feeling that he was escaping from a bleak, damp prison, moated around by the melancholy sea; but let him linger and wait, as I did, and before long,—for it is a fitful clime,—there will come days so sweet and clear, so balmy and dreamily-charming, that, like myself, he may wonder whether any other spot upon earth can be more beautiful.  There will come days when he will awake with delight to find the dull curtain lifted, and all the air filled with silence and soft clear radiance,—and the lights and shades, and the delicate action of the wind upon the crisp waters, full of exquisite play,—and the glorious range of mountains upon the main land beyond the sea, and even the stony hills of the island, all clothed in changeful robes of marvellous beauty, under a soft blue sky; sweetly chequered here and there with gently-gliding fleecy clouds.  There will come intervals like this, in which it will be a pleasure to breathe and live; and during which he will feel it a sin to keep the house whilst such a glorious spectacle awaits him outside, and "all nature beckons him forth, and murmurs to him that such hours should be devoted to collecting impressions."  In such seasons as this he will begin to perceive that the bleak Hebridean wilderness is minutely enamelled with surprising floral gems; he will begin to feel the beauty of "the vague neutral tints of a treeless hillside;" and in his contemplative rambles along the shores of the isle he will often pause amongst moss-grown crags and wave-worn rocks and caves to gaze with delight upon "the old softness and mellowness of colour—the work of the quiet centuries and of the breath of the salt sea," which is visible there, even as it is in the walls of ancient Venice, so much enriched by art and time.

    I feel thankful now that I remained long enough in the Isle of Rum to feel the truth of what a recent writer in Blackwood says of the Hebrides.  "These islands," says he, "are a kind of paradise in their way, with a mild and soothing climate, gentle breezes tempered by the Gulf Stream, southwest winds that waft the rain clouds over to the mountains of Mull, Rum, and Skye; great fertility of soil, the fragrance of many coloured flowers, and a wild range of natural and unexpected beauty. . . . "Tigh Mòr," or "The Big House," at the head of Scresort Bay, was built by Dr. Maclean, some time after the Isle of Rum was purchased by his brother, Maclean, the laird of Coll, from Clanranald.  Dr. Johnson, who visited the Hebrides in 1773, mentions the fact of this island having been purchased from Clanranald by Maclean; and he, also, mentions another fact, characteristic of Hebridean life in that time, namely, that, on account of some quarrel about the terms of purchase, Maclean seized Clanranald and kept him in confinement for nine months.

    I think, however, that the house must have been built after the time of Dr. Johnson's visit, for he does not mention it, and it seems to me not more than seventy or eighty years old.  It is a plain, strongly-built stone house, with a steep roof, and with a porch, and with a small wing at each end, one of which is used as a gun room, and the other as a kitchen.  The rear and ends of the house are shaded by trees, and the lawn in front slopes gently down to the shore of the bay.  The south side of the lawn is flanked by the garden, and the north side partly by trees and partly by a low-built, comfortable, whitewashed cottage, which is the second best house upon the island, and is the residence of Mr. Donald Ferguson, who is the sheep farmer of the island.  Since the time of the Macleans the Isle of Rum has changed hands more than once.  From the Macleans, I believe, it was purchased by the late Marquis of Salisbury, who made some expensive efforts to improve the isle, which proved of no avail.  After the death of the Marquis, the widowed Marchioness lived in seclusion in "The Big House" for some years.  After this the island was sold to the late Captain Campbell, at whose death, in 1881, his nephew came into possession of it.  "Tigh Mòr" is now the temporary residence of Mr. John Bullough, the eminent machinist, of Accrington, who is the lessee of the island.

    After we have passed "The Big House," the only remaining building of any kind upon the rest of the shore are those belonging to the farmstead of Mr. Donald Ferguson, the sheep farmer of the island.  They stand around the four sides of a courtyard; and they are strongly built of stone, with slated roofs; and in the north-west corner of the square, Roderick Macleod, Mr. Ferguson's chief shepherd, lives with his wife and family.  In some of the houses here, which have glass windows,—even in one of the bedrooms at Kinloch House,—I have noticed that when a pane happens to be broken, they overlay the fractured part with another piece or patch of glass, which serves at least to keep out the wind, although it slightly dims the light.  But there are no glaziers to be had in the Isle of Rum, and it is for this reason that the inhabitants carefully keep pieces of broken glass by them.

    Window cords, too, seem to be unknown, or, at least, unused there.  If one wishes to have a window open, he finds it necessary to prop it up with something.  In Dr. Johnson's "Journey to the Western Isles" (1773), he notices the same thing.  He says,


"The art of joining squares of glass with lead is little used in Scotland, and in some places is totally forgotten.  The frames of their windows are all of wood.  They are more frugal of their glass than the English, and will often, in houses not otherwise mean, compose a square of two pieces, not joining like cracked glass, but with one edge laid perhaps half an inch over the other.  Their windows do not move upon hinges, but are pushed up and drawn down in grooves, yet they are seldom accommodated with weights and pulleys.  He that would have his window open must hold it with his hand, unless, what may sometimes be found among good contrivers, there be a nail, which he may stick into a hole, to keep it from falling."


    There is a Gaelic proverb which says that the sun, the tide, and hunger are enough to mark the time; and, indeed, these seem to be the only clocks upon the Isle of Rum that go right.  Nobody there appears to know, nor even to care much, what o'clock it is.  I have sometimes been a little puzzled to remember what day of the week it was; and I have had to reckon backwards before I could get at it.  I have seen watches upon the island, but I never saw two that told the same tale; and I don't think I ever saw one that agreed with the sun,—except by accident.  I have heard clocks strike there, too; but it was of no use counting the strokes, for it was all nonsense; and if you happened to meet with anybody who was at all likely to know anything about the matter, and you asked them what time it was, they would stop, and give a quiet look round, at the sea, and at the fields, and at the hills, and then they would make a rough guess at the thing,—which was quite as much to be relied upon as any clock-work upon the island.  After they had read the face of nature in this old-fashioned way, they might then, perhaps, pull a watch out; but when they had given a quiet glance at it, they would pocket it again, without saying a word about it, as if it was a thing to look at and to show, but not at all a thing to go by. . .

    I have now made the circuit of all the inhabited part of the shore of Scresort Bay, where the great majority of the inhabitants of the island dwell; the only other inhabited places being four or five small sheep farms, in lonely nooks of the isle, separated from each other by several miles of wild mountain land.  After we have passed the last house, which is the farmstead occupied by Mr. Donald Ferguson, all the northern shore of the bay is a rocky, heathery, wild-flowered mountain side, sloping down in rugged beauty to the water.  It is as wild as it was more than a thousand years ago, when the monks of Iona are supposed to have first settled at Kilmory, on the north side of the island, and built the ancient church there, the ruins of which still remain, with a cluster of broken, weed-grown walls,—the mouldering relics of the old town of the church of St. Mary.  The ragged remains of these dwellings of the ancient inhabitants of the isle are scattered over a few acres of ground, in a quiet; sheltered vale, and close by a beautiful mountain stream; but there is no sound to be heard there now, but the wild voices of nature.

    The northern shore of the bay looks as if nothing but nature had touched it since the time when the island was unknown to mankind, except that there are a few scarcely discernible wandering footpaths amongst the heather-mantled rocks, made by shepherds,—such paths, indeed, as may be found all over the island,—now fast "lapsing into nature's wide domain" again,—but which may have been trodden by its first wild inhabitants, and by the ancient Culdee monks, who first essayed to tame and train them.  With the exception of such paths as these, the only road upon the island is the one, little more than half a mile long, which leads from the pier to Kinloch House, in Scresort Bay; all other paths in the island have been made by the foot and not by the hand of man.  The islander of Tiree, who said that the roads upon his native island "ought to be the best in the world, for they were repaired twice a day, as regularly as the tide ebbed and flowed," said a thing which is quaintly indicative of the condition of the roads generally in the more remote Hebridean isles.

    There has long been a prevailing theory that the natives of the Hebridean isles were of Celtic origin; but, I find that scholars who have given careful study to the matter are beginning to be more and more of opinion that a large proportion of the Hebridean population is of Scandinavian descent.  This seems not unlikely, even to one comparatively unskilled in that research; for a recent writer speaks of "a treaty mentioned in the Heimskringla that Norway could claim all lands lying west of Scotland, between which and the mainland a vessel could pass with her rudder shipped.  The rudder of the ancient Scandinavian navian ships was on the starboard or right side, this side being originally called steerboard, from this circumstance."  If the latter theory be right it is not unlikely that many an ancient Viking has sailed forth from the Isle of Rum, on predatory trips to lands beyond the sea.


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A Green Book of Old England.

CHAPTER I.


THE other day I found myself, for the first time in my life, in the old town of Ipswich, where Cardinal Wolsey was born.  My way thither led through a great tract of Middle and Eastern England, which was quite new to me.

    It was ten of May-day morn by the chime, when I left Manchester by the Sheffield line.  The weather was beautiful; and I rejoiced in the wheels that took me away towards a land where the air was free from chemical impurities, and the timid verdure of spring had no struggle for existence.  I was glad to find myself emerging from the smoke-laden air of my own brave old town, into an atmosphere where the lungs had free play, and no "rejects" to throw off,—I was glad to leave for a while, even that pathetic pursuit of verdure under difficulties, which is visible in the "huts where poor men lie," all over our manufacturing land,—and which marks the constant pining of town-prisoned humanity for the unsullied features of natural beauty.

    Away we sped into what the old ballad of "The King of France" calls "Darbyshire hills so free," and along the beautiful vale, where lie the gleaming lakes from whence grimy Manchester draws its great blessing of a plentiful supply of good water.  Away we went, under the green shade of Wharncliffe woods, where that old lord of the land built his hunting lodge high up among the embowered crags, "for his pleasure to hear the harts bell in the woods" below.  Away through green Wharncliffe we went, lost in mingled dreams of Robin Hood, and Ivanhoe, and the Dragon of Wantley,—until the smoke of Sheffield, with her thousand furnaces, burning luridly in the sun, woke me up to the dusky realities of to-day.  I glanced up the valley, where, a few years ago, I had seen the terrible destruction caused by the bursting of Holmfirth Reservoir; I looked up the hill where stands the ruined tower of the Furnivals, in which Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned; I bethought me of fine old Ebenezer Elliott, whose statue overlooks the market-place; and on we went.

    The great town of "thwittles," with its dusky canopy, died away in the distance, behind us, and we entered upon the green plains of Middle England, where the air is pure, and the streams are clear; where life seems so sweetly rural,—so sleepy and serene,—where drowsy rivers glide silently, in careless windings, through rich pastures, far as the eye can see,—where little brooklets wander between flowery banks, chanting low under-songs, so wondrous sweet to a gentle listener's ear,—and recumbent kine, half hid in the lush pasture, lie dreaming out their little day, unconscious of impending fate.  About every three or four miles, the grey tower of some ancient church rose up from its green nest of rustling boskage; and, here and there, the quaint gables of an old-fashioned village were visible, among the distant fields, half concealed by surrounding trees.  Fine old farm-houses; lordly mansions, with here and there the hoary relics of a grim old castle, amidst great spreading parks, rich in noble trees; such was the character of the fertile land, till the grand west front of Peterborough Cathedral sailed into sight.

    Grey old Peterborough,—the "Medeshamstead" of the Saxons,—so often raided by the insurgent Danes,—old Peterborough,—where Mary, Queen of Scots, was first buried, after her execution at Fotheringay Castle, a few miles off.  One cannot but feel glad, after all, that James, the foolish son of that most unhappy lady, razed the castle to the ground; and removed his mother's remains to Westminster Abbey. . . .

    It had been market day at Peterborough; and the station was throng with sturdy farmers, discussing the "Labourers' Strike;" and, here and there, calves lay about on the platform, tied up in sacks, with their heads only left out.   After two hours' delay, we started on another line, in the direction of Ely; and, when we had got a little way from the station, a farmer in the next carriage found out that he had left a calf behind him, in a corner, upon the platform.

    About five-and-twenty miles, and we came in sight of the Lantern Tower of Ely Cathedral.  The Cathedral stands upon a gentle elevation, overlooking the city, and the great green plain around.  It is in full view from the station, being only a quarter of a mile off.  I have not seen Lincoln Cathedral; but, with the exception of Durham, Ely seems to me one of the finest of all the cathedrals of England, both in architectural character and in position.  As I sat gazing at the building, a gentleman entered the carriage, and, seeing me so engaged, he said, "Yes; it's a noble building.  We are very proud of it.  A sad thing happened there this forenoon.  A man fell from the inside of the Lantern Tower, two hundred feet, to the pavement, inside." . . .

    Another run of five-and-twenty miles, and we were at Cambridge.  Here, we had nearly two hours to stay.  I took a cab, and rode up into the market-place, which is nearly two miles from the station.  Here I wandered about the quaint streets, and amongst the old colleges and churches; and, as I returned to the station, I felt as if I had been living two hours in the Middle Ages.  About fifty miles more; in the course of which, many an ancient town and many a lovely scene flitted by, half seen in the strengthening moonlight, and I found myself, at ten o'clock, on the platform at Ipswich, the birthplace of Cardinal Wolsey.  The birthplace, too, of Gainsborough; who painted its charming scenery so wonderfully well.

    And thus ended the first day of my trip into green old East Anglia.



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CHAPTER II.


"Grey Ipswich at the head of Orwell's tide,
 Where Wolsey lived, and many a martyr died."


AND now I am at the ancient borough of Ipswich, the chief town and port of Suffolk.  Ipswich, anciently Yppeswiche, takes its name, not from the beautiful estuary of the Orwell, at the head of which it stands, but from the little river Gipping, which runs into that estuary.  Although the county of Suffolk is mostly a fertile plain,—fertile with a fertility which is surprising to northern eyes,—as it approaches the sea, it begins to dance, as if it were delighted to meet with the ocean; and this undulant character of the land becomes exceedingly picturesque as we draw near to that antique nest called Ipswich. . . .

    It was ten o'clock at night when I reached the station; regretting that, in the shadowy hour between sunset and moonrise, I had missed sight of the old town of Bury St. Edmund's,—the resting place of the brave Saxon King Edmund—St. Edmund the Martyr, so called,—who fought to death against the insurgent Dane.  The full moon was aloft in a cloudless sky.  Standing upon the platform, outside the station, I could see the wandering, straw-coloured lights of the town, about a mile off, lapping round the head of the river Orwell, in an irregular semi-circle.  And in the rear of the town, the wooded hills,—for there are hills here, rising to three or four hundred feet above the sea,—the little wooded hills, and swelling, park-like uplands, rich in the bright foliage of spring, closing in the straggling town, and the winding moonlit Orwell, in a kindly way, like natural guardians of the scene against the duller world outside.

    My quarters were on a green knoll, about a mile beyond the opposite edge of the town, overlooking a thickly wooded dell.  My friend and I stepped into a cab, and here I may remark, in passing, that both the cab and, more especially, the cab-man, were marked by the same generic characteristics which distinguish our own darling charioteers of the nipping north.

    The streets of the town wind and wander, sometimes very narrow, sometimes a little wider, making charming pictures, in quick succession as they go.  As we rolled along in the moonlight, between over-hanging storeys, rich in careen oak, black and worn with age, with here and there a tree gushing over a wall, or a great garden peeping into the main street, my friend pointed out several points of special interest, of which I caught partial glimpses as we hurried by.  "That," said he, pointing to a hoary, ivy-crowned relic fronting the street, "That is Wolsey's Gate; the sole remnant of the college founded here by the great Cardinal.  After Wolsey's fall the rest of the college was razed to the ground by order of Henry the Eighth."  This quaint gateway is all that was saved from its destruction and rich in hoary eld, it stands yet by the wayside, like


"One rose of the wilderness left on its stalk,
 To mark where a garden has been."


    A little farther on, we came to a grand old pile, in the front of the street, encrusted all over with floral and heraldic carvings, in dark oak.  "That is 'The Ancient House,'" said he, "known also by the name of 'Sparrow's House.'  King Charles lay concealed there after the battle of Worcester.  There, too, in our own time, Charles Keene, the great Punch illustrator, was bred and brought up by his uncle."  I snatched a glance at the antique pile as we flitted by.  "And there," said he, pointing to a great hotel, in the heart of the town, "there stands the old 'White Horse,' the scene of Pickwick's adventure with the lady in the yellow curl papers."  Thus, in the hurried roll of the wheels, we peeped out to the right and left, at first one, then another, point of interest in the streets, until we came into the green country, beyond the town. And here, in a quiet spot, where the road began to climb between two wooded hills, he suddenly stopt the cab.  "Hush! " said he, "That's the nightingale!"  And it was so!  I had lived in this world of ours for more than fifty years, and had read the wondrous strains of poesy inspired by the nightingale's song, but now,—for the first time in my life,—I stood in the moonlight, in a land where all was new to me, listening to the liquid melody of that matchless minstrel of the night! . . . Slowly and softly we walked up to the house, stopping oft to listen by the way.  And often, as we sat in the house that night, we rose, and came forth into the garden, at the head of the knoll, to hear another strain of that fond complaining lay.  With drunken ears we retired at last to read Milton's sonnet:—


"Oh Nightingale, that on yon bloomy spray
     Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still;
 Thou with fresh hopes the lover's heart dost fill,
     While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.

 The liquid notes that close the eye of day,
     First heard before the shallow cuckoo's bill,
 Portend success in love; O, if Jove's will
     Have linked that amourous power to thy soft lay.

 Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
     Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh:
 As thou from year to year has sung too late
     For my relief, yet had'st no reason why:
 Whether the Muse, or Love, call thee his mate,
     Both them serve, and of their train am I."


As we parted on the stairs, my friend said, "To-morrow we will have a sail down the Orwell." And the nightingales sang me to sleep that night!




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CHAPTER III.


A TIMELY knock woke me up from sleep; and  looked out at the chamber window.  The sky was of a Cambridge blue, with, here and there, a daffodil tinge, and, here and there, a little gauzy cloud, sailing quickly into the south-west.   I dressed, and went forth into the garden, at the head of the knoll.  And now, I learnt that the nightingale sings by day as well as by night, and that it is not so shy a bird as some writers have said.  There, in the bosky dell below me, through which the highway runs, I hear the nightingale singing still,—singing loud and clear, in a strip of woodland hard by the wayside; and, at every pause, another nightingale, in the opposite grove, repeats the lay, "just note for note, and adds some strain at last,"—some melting cadence, never heard before.  It was, indeed, a delicious tournament of song. . . . Oh, winged pilgrim of the woods of spring,—melodious interpreter of the love that lies at the heart of all created things,—sing on, till every drooping soul on earth springs up again, with hope renewed! . . .

    Now, in the broad sunlight, the scene I had passed through on the previous night, lay before me.  Looking westward, across an intervening tract of field, and grove, and bloomy orchard, the half-seen towers and spires of Ipswich peeped up from their low-lying nest, at the head of the river; and, immediately beyond, shapely green hills bounded the scene.  In every other direction, the view was shut in by wooded heights and fertile uplands, all glittering gay in the crisp, new verdure of spring, upon which a shower in the night-time had left its pearly tribute of beauty.  It was a charming landscape,—charming in its variety of interesting feature,—charming in what was seen, and in what was suggested,—charming, too, in the richness and freshness of its fertility.  There was also, to me, a wonderful sweetness and purity in the atmosphere.

    As I stood upon that flowery knoll, snuffing the "caller air," as if it were some rare vintage of ethereal wine, I began to think of the importance of that viewless element which men consume, perforce, every moment of their lives.  Of all adulterations in this world of adulteration, the adulteration of the common air,—"the breath of life,"—is the most wide-spread, the most constant and insidious in its influence.  When I return from the middle of England, I can taste Manchester long before I reach it; and I can see the vegetation become more and more stunted and sicky as I draw nearer.  That which is poisonous to vegetable life cannot be good for man.  The rivers, too,—will the rivers of Lancashire ever be clear again?  I know the Irwell, and have seen the Orwell.  There is a slight difference in the vowels,—but the difference in the waters is tremendous.  The one is a pestilential ditch,—the other is a perpetual delight.  Strong old Lancashire, where the problems of political and social life are wrought out in such a brave, open, and independent way, between man and man, will it ever again know the priceless blessing of pure air?  With all its wealth, and energy, and ingenuity, will it ever be able to clear the atmosphere of those poisonous elements which its inhabitants are forced to take in with every breath they inhale?  Perhaps, in two thousand years or so, when our coalfields are exhausted, and our trade is gone, and the old region of manufacture has become a hideous waste, the smokeless ruins of its once tall chimneys may bathe their weed-grown summits in the clear air of a noiseless solitude. . . . But, am at Ipswich.

    The Professor and I had been joined by an artist friend of ours, who had run down from London; and, after breakfast, we started towards the town, for a trip down the river Orwell.  Our way led through the oldest part of the old town, which clips the water-side.  Here we wandered awhile about the winding, and, sometimes, very narrow streets, from one historic nook to another, between rows of antique houses, with high-pitched roofs, and over-shot upper stories, rich in strange sculptured devices, dimmed by age,—here we wandered, gazing at floral, and sometimes grotesque carvings, upon beam, bracket, frieze, and post,—all seemingly of dark oak, and all worn and mellowed in tone by the weather of centuries.  We lingered often on the way, trying to spell out dim old dates and names that carried us back to the days when Shakespeare was wandering among the green lanes and woods of Warwickshire, a contemplative boy; and probably an incomprehensible creature to the people about him.  We might have been sauntering to and fro with old Froissart, in the streets of some ancient continental town; we were lapped, for the time, in a mediaeval dream.  Many of the houses in this quarter bore dates more than three centuries old; and, amongst piles of gloomy warehousing, we came, here and there, to a fine old building which, though converted to other uses now, had evidently been the residence of some wealthy merchant, or other person of importance, in the olden time.  And, now and then, we spied, through barred gates, coils of rope, anchors, blocks, spars, and other ship-gear, lying about in the yards beyond.  The signs of the inns, too,—"The Neptune," "The Ship," "The Sailor's Home," and such like,—all that we saw, smacked of the sea and sea-life; except that in this lowest part of the town we saw very little of the filth which is common in such places.

    At the quay we took a boat.  The tall, stalwart, sea-browned owner of "The Nancy," looked well in his blue guernsey, as he trimmed his little vessel for the trip.  He grasped the oars with great, brown, sinewy hands, and away we went down the river.  Warehouses, masts, and docks, with the many-towered town, gently sloping up in the rear, glided quietly away behind us.  And now, I saw that Ipswich has a few tall chimneys, akin to our own, amongst which are those of Messrs. Ransome, Sims, and Head, perhaps the greatest agricultural implement makers in the world.

    The upper part of the river is comparatively narrow, being only about fifty yards wide at the port.  This narrow part is finely embanked on each side; and the water is clearer than is usual in a sea-port.  The whole length of the Orwell, from its head at Ipswich, to the open German Ocean, near the ancient port of Harwich, is little more than sixteen miles.

    In half-an-hour, we began to emerge from the narrow upper part of the river.  Our boatman stepped his mast, and loosened sail.  The white sheet swelled to a favouring wind; and, as we scudded along, the river gradually expanded, between swelling uplands, rich in park-like scenery of great beauty.  Our boatman had leisure now for a little chat.  "Is there much smuggling going on, now?" said my friend, who knew the man well.  "Oh, no, sir," replied the boatman; "it's getting too hot for them, now."  "But, there have been some seizures made lately, I believe?"  "Well, the last seizure was only a ton of tobacco; the one before that was about ten ton,—and a few bales of silk.  But that's nothing, I believe, to what was carried on in Will Laud's time.  He was a smuggler."  "You knew him, believe?"  "I knew him well, poor fellow."

    We now entered upon "Downharn Reach," the finest expanse in the Orwell estuary.  It was high water, too; and we saw it at its best.  From shore to shore, it seemed to me more than a mile in breadth; and it reminded me of the finest part of Windermere.  Its sloping banks are clad with grand old parks, rich in noble trees, and glades of great beauty, well stocked with deer.  On the northern shore there is a fine heronry,—a rare thing in these days,—and, here and there, we saw a heron stalking in the shallows, or flitting along the water, with spiky legs outstretched behind.  Above the trees, on the southern bank, rises an ancient tower,—"Freston Tower," which gives name to one of the novels written by the Rev. Richard Cobbold.  The scene of the story is laid here.  In a green, sheltered nook, on the opposite shore, an ancient farmstead, called "Priory Farm," peeps out from embowering shade.  At this farm, the famous Margaret Catchpole resided as a domestic servant.  She is the heroine of the Rev. Richard Cobbold's well-known novel, called "Margaret Catchpole, or The Suffolk Girl," and her strange adventures, as recorded in that book, are, I understand, strictly founded upon fact.

    We were now drawing near to the old village of "Pin Mill," where the steamers call on their way up and down the river, between Harwich and Ipswich.  "Pin Mill " nestles in a pleasant nook of the southern shore, under shade of the ancient woods.  A storm of rain came before we got to the landing-place.  We made haste out of the boat, and ran for shelter into the old "Butt and Oyster" Inn, the bay windows of which overhang the water, and command a fine view of Downham Reach.




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CHAPTER IV.


"Imagination fondly stoops to trace
 The parlour splendours of that festive place;
 The whitewashed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
 The varnished clock that click'd behind the door;
 The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
 A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
 The pictures placed for ornament and use,
 The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose."


G
OLDSMITH.


THE village of "Pin Mill" stands upon a gentle eminence, about a quarter of a mile from the Orwell shore.  The woods are thick about it and a gardened cottage, here and there, straggles down the slope to the old inn at the water side.

    The river front of "The Butt and Oyster" overhangs the stream, when the tide is at full.  Dripping wet, we ran up from the boat, and in at the open door, which is on the landward side, over-shaded by a wooded knoll; and there we found ourselves in a large room, quietly furnished, in rustic style, with a few old-fashioned things, all well worn, and all very clean.  "The parlour splendours of that festive place" were, certainly, of the simplest kind.  Upon the walls hung a little case of stuffed birds, and a few rude pictures of rural scenes and sea-pieces; and, amongst the rest, there were two engravings representing episodes in the life of John Wesley,—one was "Wesley and his friends at Oxford," the other his rescue, when a child, from the burning of his father's house, at Madeley.  These last, though slightly discoloured with damp, had evidently been more cared for than the rest.  At first, they seemed strange things to find in such a place; but when we came to look around, the companionship did not appear forced, or unhealthy, after all.  The whole house relished of thorough cleanliness and innocent intention.  There was no veneering, nor pretence about it.  Every nook of the place was sweet as the flowers of spring.  It was akin to the green fields and the open air.  There was nothing coarse, however simple; there was nothing slangy,—that prevailing abomination of the times; there was nothing meretricious in the bits of ornament, "ranged o'er the chimney, glist'ning in a row." 

    Altogether, "The Butt and Oyster" had a homely, wholesome look; and the ale was good.  It tasted, principally, of malt and hops; which was a point in its favour.  The boarded floor was new washed and sanded; and the only company we found in the room were a hen and her chickens, who, like ourselves, had wandered in at the open door, out of the rain; and they didn't seem at all disturbed when we entered the place with a run.  In an adjoining apartment, however, we saw through the open doorway, two or three sea-faring men, with a little company of folk from the village, quietly discussing the build of a brig, which lay at anchor about half-a-mile from the house.

    We had scarcely got seated by the bay window, against which the "million-fingered" rain was still pattering furiously, when two lads came running in, followed by three country looking men, clad in the garb of decent artizans, out for a holiday. Each carried a handkerchief, full of fresh-gathered herbs; and noticed that the faces of the men had that serenity of tone which is so characteristic of the countenances of natural lovers of science.  Both in appearance, and in demeanour, they reminded me of our own botanists in humble life, with whom have had the pleasure of roaming the summer woods in years gone by.  Shaking the rain from their clothing, they sat down at a side table; and, calling for a jug of ale, they began to eat crisp water-cresses with the bread and butter they had brought with them; and very heartily they seemed to relish that sweet and simple repast.  Meanwhile they opened one or two of the handkerchiefs, and quietly examined the specimens gathered in their ramble.  Now, to my friend, who is not only a learned man, but also a natural enthusiast in such matters, this was altogether irresistible.  With a courteous approach, he took up one specimen after another, descanting upon each with so much knowledge, and with such simple fervour and beauty of diction, that the botanical wanderers began to sit still and listen, with glittering eyes, and with the half-chewed bread and butter visible between their arrested jaws, evidently wondering what manner of man this could be, upon whom they had fallen so unexpectedly.  And thus the next half-hour sped pleasantly by with the simple-hearted lovers of nature.

    The tide was beginning to return to the sea.  We could hear the water lapping against the wall beneath us. The bay window, in which we sat, commanded, perhaps, the finest water-expanse, and the most beautiful shore scenery, on the Orwell estuary.  From this point, "Downham Reach" looks like an inland lake, or an arm of the sea,—which it really is, being only about eight miles from the open German Ocean.  Behind us was ancient "Freston Tower," rising above the woods and glades of Wolverston Park; but the opposite shore, in all its rich variety of vernal beauty, was in full view.  In gentle, irregular slopes, here and there, richly wooded with noble trees, it rises from the water-side; and a great part of the landscape consists of two of the finest parks in the county of Suffolk,—Orwell Park, formerly the seat of Admiral Vernon, the victor of Porto Bello, and now the seat of Colonel Tomline, M.P. for Great Grimsby,—and the adjoining park, in which stands Broke Hall, the ancient residence of Admiral Broke, who fought the Shannon against the Chesapeake, at the close of the American War; and now one of the seats of Sir George Broke-Middleton, Bart. . . .

    The rain had ceased; the sky was clear again; and we went back to the boat.  Steering aslant the reach, with the intent of skirting the opposite shore on our way back to town, we came in front of a green slope, all ablaze with golden-blossomed gorse,—"the blossom'd furze, unprofitable gay,"—at the head of which two straggling lines of pollard oaks marked the borders of some ancient road.  Pointing to these, my friend informed us that between these trees ran the old lane, called "Gainsborough's Lane."  By this name it is known here, even by people who know nothing of the origin of the name.  This was the great artist's favourite rambling ground, and the scene of his famous picture called "The Market Cart."  We proposed, at once, to land at the foot of the slope, and walk back to Ipswich, by way of "Gainsborough's Lane."  Running "The Nancy" aground upon the shallow beach, our boatman took us in turn upon his back, and carried us through the water to dry land.  Then, waving his hat, he went his way, glad to have the boat lightened for his long pull homeward against the ebbing tide.  After a few minutes' climb up the flowery brow, we passed through a ragged gap; and there we were, in "Gainsborough's Lane."

    Amongst the most charming features, peculiar to English scenery, are its wild hedgerows and green lanes.  Who that loves the country can ever forget the green lanes of Old England,—the tired wayfarer's resting place,—the truant school-boy's free park, and hunting ground?  Of the many country lanes that I have seen since was a lad, "Gainsborough's Lane" is certainly one of the most beautiful.  Far from the bustle of common resort, it is sweetly and shadily secluded,—a quiet green spot, in a quiet green country; and all that is seen from it is of a charming kind, especially on the southern side, which overlooks the Orwell.  From that side of the lane the view was very beautiful.  Oft, in the course of our walk, we turned to take another peep at "Downham Reach," through the trees, and as oft we cried "Windermere!"  And certainly, it reminded me, again and again, of that part of the Queen of the Lakes which is seen from Low Wood, where the water is broadest, and the scenery upon its banks is richest.  And we agreed that, after all, the most exquisite views of the Orwell we had yet seen were the glimpses we got of it through the trees from "Gainsborough's Lane."

    That part of the lane which we travelled was more than half-a-mile in length: and there was a graceful bend in it, where a green elbow of waste land over-shaded by tall trees, was lighted up with great gorse bushes, in full flower.  It must have been very beautiful, too, beyond what we saw; for, in the eastward direction, gently declining,


The brown pathway, there, with careless flow,
Sank and was lost among the trees below.


    One of the most picturesque features of this old lane was the trees that grew out of the hedges, on each side,—trees of different foliage, here hanging thickly-green, over the travelled way, there shooting aloft into the sky,—amongst which were many fine pollard oaks, which must have taken centuries to grow.  These, I think, unmistakably mark the antiquity of the road they line.  The lane was unusually broad; and on each side of the pathway, the great, sprawling, irregular borders, under the trees, were overgrown with a tangled wealth of wild plants, and flowers of the season.  Along the hedge-rows, the white blossom was peeping from the thorn; the lark was aloft in the sky; and wild birds rained down music from the boughs which overhung the path.

    Slowly sauntering, we took our way through the lane, and across the upland, to our own nest, upon the wooded knoll, near Ipswich town.


――――♦――――

 


CHAPTER V.


IT is a notable fact that the most picturesque scenery in the county of Suffolk is the charming region of hill and dale,—so rich in wood and water, and so beautifully besprent with bowery villages, and fine old churches,—which skirts the town of Ipswich for a few miles all round; and it was my good fortune to see some of the choicest spots in this garden of East Anglia, during a short stay.

    Ipswich itself is a delightful place to wander in.  It teems with interest for the antiquary, and the lover of those quiet nests of English life in which the town looks as sweet as the country, and the country gushes into the town.  It must have been a place of importance even in the time of the Saxon Heptarchy,—when the restless conflicts of the seven kingdoms was "like the fighting and flocking of kites and crows,"—for there was a royal mint at Ipswich in those days.  The Dane fought hard for this attractive land; but he never gained any permanent settlement in it.  To-day, he came and conquered; the next day he was driven to his ships; but, although his "nailed barks" often fluttered upon the waters of the Orwell, and the raven banner was sometimes carried far into the heart of Suffolk, he never was allowed to remain there.  This is well shown in the names of places.  Although there are names, along the coast, which indicate, here and there, a spot in which the Danes have had a garrisoned fort, from which they could easily flee to the ocean, there are scarcely any of those names whose endings mark the places where the Scandinavian rover won a long and abiding hold upon the soil, and where he built villages of his own, and turned his hand to tillage.  In Lincolnshire, and in the East Riding of Yorkshire, these names abound; here they are remarkably rare.  The whole country smacks of the Saxon, and of that "Merry England" of which our ancient minstrels sang, and which seems so picturesque to the imagination, when,—waiving all close inquiry into the conditions of human life in those days,—we dream of the rustling greenwoods of the olden time.  The country looks as if it had been a paradise thousands of years ago, and had never known any change, save where the wild tresses of nature have been combed into cultivated beauty by the hand of man.  What kind of life underlies all this fair surface is another and a deeper consideration.  Suffolk is famous for its fine breed of horses, as well as its men; and it is worthy of remark, by the way, that this part of England was one of Cromwell's favourite recruiting-grounds for that terrible cavalry whose stern war-cry spread such consternation amongst the flying foe upon the fields of Marston Moor, Dunbar, and Worcester.

    On the day after our ramble in the old green lane,—called "the prettiest lane in Suffolk,"—so happily associated with the name of "the father of English landscape painting," whose fine eye had so often dwelt upon its quiet beauty, my friend's duties called him away to the Agricultural College, founded in memory of the late Prince Albert, in the ancient town of Framlingham, about fourteen miles north-east of Ipswich, to which place we went in company.  At half-past eight in the morning an open conveyance was ready, and this afforded a fine opportunity for seeing the country as we travelled leisurely along.  The day was fine, though cold; and the way was full of interest, especially to one who had never seen it before.

    The first mile or so led across the cultivated upland level, where, here and there, great gorse-bushes lit up the wayside with a golden glow, and nightingales sang among the thick boughs that overhung the road.  Now we passed by an old wayside inn, the scene of many a story, and then the grey tower of some secluded village church was visible, beyond the cultivated fields, peeping out from the surrounding trees.  At length the cultivated land gradually died away into a great wild "common," called "Rushmere Heath,"—a sterile tract of gorse and heather; yet clothed with that subtle robe of beauty which nature draws with tender hand over the forgotten solitudes of the earth. This common is free ground to the dusky gipsy; and we saw one of their encampments near the road as we passed by.

    Soon after leaving "Rushmere Heath," we enter upon a still more striking scene of the same kind, called "Kesgrave Heath,"—in which word "Kesgrave" we have a Saxon allusion to the ancient "barrows," or burial-places, many of which are in full view from the road-side; standing in distinct mounds upon the wide, wild, gorse-grown heath; and protected now by newly-planted trees.  Upon this desolate tract, which seems as if it had been the same uncultivated wild that it is now ever since the creation of the world, history tells that a fierce battle was fought between the Saxons and their Danish invaders; and a more likely spot for such a conflict one cannot conceive.  Looking upon that savage solitude, where the lark sings so lightly above the graves of the forgotten dead, and builds his nest, and rears his young upon the spot where so many of the fierce warriors of that wild time fell a thousand years ago, imagination may well try to recall the terrible contest which then took place.




――――♦――――




CHAPTER VI.


        This neat low gorse, with golden bloom,
Delights each sense, is beauty, is perfume,
And this gay ling, with all its purple flowers,
A man at leisure might admire for hours;
This green fringed moss-cup has a scarlet tip,
That yields to nothing but my Mary's lip;
And then, how fine this herbage! men may say
A heath is barren; nothing is so gay.


C
RABBE.


CRABBE, the poet, was a Suffolk man.  He knew "Kesgrave" well; and he might have had the place in his eye when he wrote these lines: so well do they suit the scene.  The wild heath is so little changed in its natural aspect that it seems as if the great battle which was fought there in the time of the Saxon Heptarchy might have been fought only a month ago.  And, apart from its historic interest as the spot whereon, twelve centuries gone by, the hardiest races of mankind strove, in rugged, deadly, hand-to-hand savagery for the possession of the land, this old battle-ground,—where the graves of forgotten chieftains still heave in monumental mounds above the surrounding turf,—has a quiet beauty of its own, which is delightful to the eye; and the green hedges, and sprawling borders of the high-road which runs across it, are thickly over-grown with a wild tanglement of floral prettiness, amongst which it is pleasant to linger.


"The very lane has sweets that all admire,
 The rambling suckling, and the vigorous brier;
 The wholesome wormwood grows beside the way,
 Where dew press'd yet the dog-rose bends the spray:
 Fresh herbs the fields, fair shrubs the banks adorn,
 And snow-white bloom fall flaky from the thorn;
 No fostering hand they need, no sheltering wall,
 They spring uncultured, and they bloom for all."


So says Crabbe, who was a druggist's apprentice, in the old town of Woodbridge, about three miles from "Kesgrave;" to whom the green hills and dales, the lonely woods and streams, the wild heaths and beautiful old lanes of Suffolk must have been a constant delight,—"his daily walks, and ancient neighbourhood;" and whose poems abound in graphic pictures of the rural life and scenery of his own native nook of England. . . .

    One of the many charming streams which water this part of Suffolk is the Deben, or Thredling River, which rises near Debenham, and runs about twenty-four miles south-east, into the German Ocean, at Bawsey Haven.  This was one of those "water gates" in which the ancient Danish pirates delighted.  A navigable creek of this river runs up into the land, within a mile of Kesgrave;" and it is more than probable that the Danes, or some part of their army, stole up that way when they were met, and defeated, by the Saxon defenders of the soil, upon the heath, above the creek.

    Leaving "Kesgrave" we entered the cultured land again, with great furrowed fields stretching far from the wayside and, here and there, a clump of fine trees, and here and there an orchard, thickly-white with apple blossom.  About a mile beyond the heath we came to the head of a steep descent in the road, at the foot of which lay the old village of "Martlesham," right under the eye, and looking very clean, and quaintly nest-like among the trees in the hollow.  Here we have again the old ending "ham," which is so common in the names of places in this part of England, and which marks the ancient "home" of the Saxon race.

    "Martlesham" looks sleepily, rustically-sweet in its little green vale; and, amongst the prevailing green there is, at least, one remarkable bit of red, which commands the attention of every passer-by.  This is the sign of the principal public-house in the village, standing close by the wayside.  It is the head of an apochryphal beast, commonly known there as a lion, painted in black and bright vermilion.  This sign is widely known in the county of Suffolk, and is frequently alluded to in the proverb, "As red as Martlesham Lion."  This sign was originally the figure-head of a Dutch man-of-war, that was captured in the famous naval battle of Sole Bay, near Southwold, off the coast of Suffolk.  That old figure-head has been baptised in battle and tempest; and the builders of that Dutch man-of-war little thought that its frontispiece would ever adorn the entrance of an obscure public-house in England.  Such is the fate of war.  As we rode by the house it reminded me of a similar thing, in one of the quietest sea-nooks of Lancashire.  In the lonely village of Preeshall, or "Priesthall," on the northern banks of the Wyre estuary, and about two miles from Fleetwood, the figure-head of a Dutch wreck, washed up on that coast, now does duty in the same way, as the sign of the principal inn of the village; and is familiarly known amongst the folk of the Fylde country, as "Th' Gret Heyd o' Preesha'" or "The Great Head of Preeshall."

    As we rode through the pleasant village of "Martlesham," where there seemed to be hardly a soul astir, we saw, a little way off, on the right hand side, the creek which flows up from the river Deben, through a beautiful narrow vale, richly wooded on both sides.  And now, strangers to this land are apt to think of the whole of Suffolk as one green plain; but I found this part of the country full of undulant variety; and the ascent from the village was so steep that we had to get out of the conveyance, and walk up.  At the head of the steep, we rode on again, towards Framlingham, and towards the sea.

    About three miles beyond Martlesham, we came to the pleasant old town of Woodbridge, where Bernard Barton, the Quaker poet, was born, and where he lies buried, in the grave-yard of the Friends' meeting-house; and where Crabbe, the poet, was an apothecary's apprentice.  Woodbridge is an ancient town.  It is mentioned in Domesday survey, which indicates a place of some importance even at that time.  In the twelfth century it had an Austin friary, founded by the Rouse family.  It is also a sea-port.  Vessels of one hundred and twenty tons burden come up to the quays, from Woodbridge Haven.

    Of the port and its neighbourhood we saw nothing.  The only part of the town that we saw was the principal street, which is quite a mile long; and remarkably quaint, quiet, and clean, to one long used to the restless bustle and gloomy dinginess of manufacturing towns.  As we rode slowly along that narrow, winding old street, something picturesque and interesting met the eye at every turn,—some antique house, as clean as a new pin, with glittering windows, and great, old-fashioned shiny brass knocker, and quaint white doorsteps; or some pretty bit of greenery gushing over a wall from the garden behind.  The whole street has a sweet, serene, and antique charm about it.  Whatever squalor or poverty there may be in other parts of the town,—and where is the town in which there is none?—there was nothing of the kind visible in that pleasant old street; and, as we rolled along, I looked from side to side, wondering in which of these places that dreamy apothecary's apprentice, musing among his bottles through the live-long day, had sighed for evening to come, that he might wander forth again in the green fields beyond the town.




――――♦――――

 

 
CHAPTER VII.

"What ho! A glass of ale, boy! The house is neglected!"

                                                                                                        PRESTON.


ABOUT two miles beyond Woodbridge our road led across a village green, upon which a few ducks were waddling to and fro, and two or three dogs were at play.  All was quiet among the quaint houses around the green.  There was almost a Sunday stillness upon the place, except that wares were visible, here and there, in little shop windows; and, here and there, women and children, in work-day clothes, looked out at the cottage doorways to see what was going by.

    The day was bright; but it had been a cold ride, for the north-east wind blew keen and strong.  We pulled up at the door of the principal inn; and, at the first glance, we saw that there was something unusual astir inside.  Two or three children were stretching up on tiptoe to get a peep through the windows; and a few rustic folk lounged about the front, whispering, and staring about, first at the house, and then at ourselves, and the vehicle which had brought us; and amongst them we saw two who wore bits of blue ribbon in their hats, to show that they were members of the Agricultural Labourers' Union.  Whatever it was that was going on in the house, it was evident to us that, in the minds of these outside loungers, we were associated with the event. . . .

    A strong smell of roast beef filled all the air about the entrance; and, as we walked up the lobby, the frizzle and sputter of joints of meat at the fire, mingled with a restless chopping, and a clatter of pots, and the hasty shuffle of feet, came from the kitchen at the back.  There was great running to and fro in the passages of the house; and, at every turn, we met with people in a state of perspiration, running against one another, as they hurried along with cloths and dishes.  "Get out of the way, Nelson!" said one of them, kicking a great black dog which stood in the lobby, wagging his tail, in hope of kindly recognition.  The four-legged namesake of the hero of Trafalgar gave a loud yelp, and sneaked off into a corner, where he sat down, with an air of patient disappointment, watching the hubbub with wondering eyes.  What was the meaning of all this?  Was it a feast or a funeral—or both in one?  With "bated breath," we spoke to one of these running footmen, as he bore down upon us, with a towel on his arm; but, without stopping, he muttered something inaudibly, and waving his hand at the whole of the north side of the house,—which, by the by, was the way out,—he steamed right ahead, out of sight. 

    This thing was getting more and more interesting.  Turning into a little side room, in which there was neither fire nor company, we rang the bell again and again.  At last the door opened, and a great parboiled countenance, with eyes of fish-glue, made its appearance.  There was a general tone of melting tallow about the owner of that shining face.  He looked as if he had fallen asleep with his head in the gravy, and had forgotten to wipe himself when he woke up again.  We asked for two glasses of sherry.  Without a word of reply, the half-cooked face took itself back into the passage and was no more seen.  We waited a few minutes, and then we rang again,—at the peril of the bell-rope.  This time it was a bandy-legged ostler that came in, disguised in the cast-off suit of a country curate, with a dish of melted butter in his hand.  Great beads of moisture stood upon his manly brow; and the temperature of the room rose the moment he entered.  We applied to him for relief.  With a quiet puff he listened; and silently he retired.  The door closed behind him, and the glass fell again as he went away.  He took our order,—and he kept it,—for he returned no more.

    This was too bad.  At last, we determined to try the kitchen; and there, all aglow with the heat of a roaring fire, we found a fine old country matron, among her maidens, superintending the preparation of a feast for the magnates of the neighbourhood.  An old-fashioned "langsettle" came out in a curve from the chimney corner, half embracing the vast fireplace, where many a poor wanderer had rested his weary limbs, and many a winter's tale had been told.  In the kitchen we got what we wanted, and after warming ourselves among the beef at the fire, we took the road again, well pleased with all that we had seen, and trailing along with us the jovial odours of the roast, out at the end of the hungry village, and through the cold wind, for the next mile or so,—"there or thereabouts."

    It was a little past noon when we came in sight of Framlingham.  We approached the town by the old tree-shaded road, along which so many royal couriers have ridden in hot haste, between there and London, during eventful times, centuries ago.  Framlingham is a place of great antiquity, and of considerable historic renown, associated with many a famous name of ancient days.  A strong castle was built there in early times,--some say by Redwald, King of the East Saxons, about the close of the sixth century,—and rebuilt by the famous Hugh Bigod.  St. Edmund, the Martyr, King of East Anglia, was besieged in Framlingham Castle by the Danes, Mary, the daughter of Henry the Eighth, retired to this castle, with the leaders of the Catholic party, on the death of her brother, Edward the Sixth; and here she received news of the proclamation of Lady Jane Grey.  The ancient walls of Framlingham must have witnessed many anxious councils during that troubled time; and many strange messengers must then have come and gone beneath its frowning gateway.

    The Mowbrays long held possession of this fortress and demesne, which afterwards passed to the Howards of Norfolk, and was by them sold to Sir Robert Hitcham, who presented it to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge.  And last, but not least, Henry Howard, the celebrated Poet-Earl of Surrey, was born at Framlingham; and there he was buried, after his execution; which took place when the King himself was so near his end that his swollen and enfeebled hands could not guide a pen.  So late ago as October, 1835, in making a repair of his monument, in Framlingham Church, the remains of the earl were found, lying embedded in clay, directly under his figure on the tomb.

    The earl must have spent much of his boyhood between Framlingham and Tendring Hall, in the same county; and, in the account of his fare in the nursery at Tendring Hall, we get a curious glimpse of ancient manners, for there is set apart for his breakfast throughout the year, "a racke or chyne of mutton, and a checkyn," except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it is "a dysshe of butter-mylke and six eggs."  To us, now, this seems strange fare for a little lad; but it smacks strongly of the time when Englishmen lived more in the open air than they do in these days.

    The ruins of Framlingham Castle stand upon the highest ground, at the head of the town.  The view from its towers must be very fine, for the country around is nobly wooded, and full of undulant variety and fertile beauty.  Extensive remains of the castle are still standing,—massive walls, and towers—which, though ruinous at their summits, are still sixty feet high; and the ancient gateway, though battered by the storms of many centuries, is still rich in worn relics of antique sculpture.  The deep old moat of the castle is still well defined; and is now a beautiful little winding dell, rich in wild flowers, overshadowed by fine trees, with the mouldering walls of the castle rising high above.  Bernard Barton, who lies buried at Woodbridge, six miles off, says in his lines upon Framlingham Castle,—


"Still upon moat and mere below
     Thine ivied towers look down;
 And far their giant shadows throw
     With feudal grandeur's frown.

 And though thy star for aye be set,
     Thy glory past and gone,
 Fancy might deem thy inmate yet
     Bigod! or Brotherton!

 Or Howard brave, who fought and died
     On Bosworth's bloody field;
 Or bigot Mary, who the tide
     Of martyr blood unsealed."


When I remember, now, the charming English scenery which lies around old Framlingham's grey towers, I cannot but think that its influence must have sunk deeply into the heart of the courtly poetic boy who wandered there in his childhood, and who afterwards wrote the following description of Spring,—


The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale;
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale;
Summer is come, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes flete with new repairèd scale;
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers bale.

            And thus I see among these pleasant things
            Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.


    During my friend's lecture at the college, I wandered about the town.  It lies upon the slope of a green hill, facing the north.  At the head of the slope stands the facing castle; and a little lower down is the church, which is a handsome old building, of flint, with a noble square tower, nearly one hundred feet high.  Whilst wandering about the outside of the church, a kind-looking old lady came forth from the green-shaded clergy-house, in the churchyard, with the key in her hand.  She unlocked the door, and then I saw the interior of the fine old fane.  The roof inside is elaborately carved, and supported by octagon pillars, and the church contains many noble monuments, in white marble, of the Howards, Fitzroys, Earls of Surrey, and others.  The monument of the poetic Earl of Surrey, who was beheaded at the close of Henry the Eighth's reign, on an absurd charge of quartering the royal arms of England, is singularly rich and interesting; and it is kept in order, and painted occasionally, as directed by the will of the Earl of Northampton, out of the endowment of his hospital at Greenwich.

    Framlingham is an agricultural town.  It is remarkably clean and pleasant.  From almost any part of its streets the green country is in sight; and the neighbourhood is famous for fine oak trees.  Framlingham was anciently begirt by a strong wall, said to be of Saxon origin; and its present corn exchange stands upon the site of an ancient cross.

    After a pleasant stroll about its sweet-looking, old-fashioned streets, we dined at the "Crown," and returned to Ipswich in the twilight, by the way we came.


――――♦――――




CHAPTER VIII.


It flows by many a rustling wood;
    And towers, and turrets hoary
Throw shadows grim upon its flood,
    Renowned in ancient story.

ANON.


"NOW," said my friend, as we sat in the garden, after our return from Framlingham, "you haven't seen much of the Orwell yet; and I propose that, to-morrow, we take the steamer at Ipswich, and run down to the open sea at Harwich,—one of the oldest ports of England."

    It was about an hour past noon when we started, by steamer, from the quay at Ipswich for the ancient town of Harwich; and, though our vessel was not so large as the steamers which ply between Liverpool and the Isle of Man, it was quite as well appointed.

    The entire length of the Orwell, from Ipswich to the sea, is less than fourteen miles; but, beginning with Wolsey's old town, and ending with the wild ocean, I do not know fourteen miles of river scenery in England more softly-beautiful, or more interesting than this.  I have already mentioned a short boat excursion we had upon this charming stream, as far as "Downham Reach;" but the whole course of the Orwell flows through a land so rich in historic associations, and through scenery so beautifully sylvan in character, that I feel pleasure in returning to the theme.  Travelled writers say that the banks of the Orwell resemble those of the famous Southampton Water, and are not inferior in beauty; and Murray's admirable Handbook,—which is certainly not given to exaggeration in such matters,—says: "The excursion down the Orwell should on no account be neglected.  It affords, perhaps, the pleasantest scenery in the Eastern Counties."

    From its source to the sea, the banks of the Orwell swell up in graceful, undulant slopes, of varying form, clothed with rich lawns, and noble old woods, amongst which are visible, here and there, a fine modern mansion, built on some renowned site, or an ancient hall, peeping partially out from its thick embowering shade, or some hoary tower, rich in memories of the olden time, rising above the waving outlines of surrounding trees.  The stream is lined almost the whole way with fine old well-preserved parks, and beautiful scenes, associated with many a name that is famous in story.  Again and again, as we sail along, at high water, the bends of the river give it the appearance of an inland lake; and, here and there, a ship rocking at anchor, heightens the charm of the scene.

    Apart from Cardinal Wolsey, and Bishop Brownrigg, and Bishop Lany, and others, who were natives of Ipswich, at the head of the water, there are many celebrated names connected with the banks of the Orwell.  "Gainsborough's Lane," the favourite wandering ground of the great painter, looks down upon the most beautiful part of the river, from a wooded ridge upon the northern side.  A little lower down the stream, in a shady nook of the shore, lies the ancient "Priory Farm," where Margaret Catchpole was a domestic servant—whose extraordinary adventures gave rise to the well known novel, "Margaret Catchpole, or the Suffolk Girl."  On the same side of the river is Broke Hall, formerly the seat of Sir Philip Broke, who captured the Chesapeake, in sight of Boston, in 1813.  Admiral Cavendish, one of the admirals who fought against the Spanish Armada, and the first Englishman who sailed round the world, was born at Grimston Hall, near the same place.  Admiral Vernon, too, resided at Orwell Park, and died there in 1757.

    On the opposite side are the far stretching woods and glades of Wolverstone Park,—one of the most beautiful estates in Suffolk.  On the same side of the river are Stoke Park, Wherstead Lodge, and Wherstead Church, and Freston Park, with its ancient tower rising high amidst the woods.  Freston Tower is a lofty Tudor building, of six stories, with pinnacles, and a staircase turret, erected about the end of the sixteenth century, by the Latimers, of which family was the celebrated Bishop Latimer.  This is the scene of the popular novel, called "Freston Tower."  Wherstead Lodge was once the residence of William Scrope, author of "Days of Deer Stalking."  Constable, the artist, in a letter to Smith, the biographer of Nollekens, which is given in Fulcher's life of Gainsborough, speaking of Gainsborough, and the Orwell, says there is a place on the river side "where he often sat to sketch on account of the beauty of the landscape, its extensiveness and richness in variety, both in the fore and back grounds.  Freston ale-house must have been near, for it seems he has introduced the Boot sign-post in many of his pictures."  What Gainsborough did for the Orwell and its banks, Constable did for the beautiful scenery of the Stour Valley, which is only about five miles off; the waters of the Stour emptying into the Orwell about three miles below Preston Tower.  Crabbe, Bloomfield, Bernard Barton, and the Earl of Surrey, were all Suffolk men, and though not all born in this district, they were all immediately connected with it.  Apart from the natural beauty of the scenery, the whole country is rich in antique remains, associated with remarkable men, and stormy events, stretching back into pre-historic times. . . .

    Amongst the crew of the steamer there was a tall, wiry, old, weather-beaten mariner, with only one eye.  This man was well known on the river, for, in the prime of life, he had been a "famed lawless fellow;" and, for many years, one of the most daring and successful smugglers between Holland and the coast of Suffolk.  We fell into talk with the old man, who was known to my friend; and his one eye kindled with gleeful pride as he pointed to nooks of the shore where he had successfully run his cargo in, and told of many a hard chase, and many a hair-breadth escape he had made from pursuit in past days.  But, after years of good luck, the hour of retribution came to the bold smuggler at last.  One night, when his vessel was laden with the most valuable contraband freight he had ever ventured, and when, like Will Watch, he had resolved


                                          "That this trip, if well ended,
 Should coil up his hopes, and he'd anchor on shore,
 When his pockets were lined, why his life should be mended,
          The laws he had broken he'd never break more,"


"the Philistines were out," and upon his track; they gave chase, and overtook the bold outlaw; a fight ensued; the vessel was captured; and the wounded smuggler and his crew were laid up in Ipswich jail.




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