I sit here and look off upon this largest, loveliest picture the Blind Painter has given to England. I note his grouping of the ivy- framed fields, of every size and form, panelling the gently-rounded hills, and all the soft slopes down to the foot of the valley; the silvery, ripe barley against the dark-green beans; the rich gold of the wheat against the smooth, blue-dashed leaves of the mangel wurzel or rutabaga; the ripening oats overlooking a foreground of vividly green turnips, with alternations of pasture and meadow land, hedges running in every direction, plantations, groves, copses sprinkled over the whole vista, as if the whole little world, clear up to the soft, blue fringe of the horizon, were the design and work of a single artist. And this, and ten thousand pictures of the same genius, were the work of the Briarean-handed BLIND PAINTER, who still wears a smock-frock and hob-nailed shoes, and lives in a low, damp cottage, and dines on bread and cheese among the golden sheaves of harvest!
O, Mother England! thou that knightest the artists while living, and buildest their sepulchres when dead; thou that honorest to such stature of praise the plagiarists upon Nature, and clothest the copyists of patient Labor's pictures in such purple and fine linen; thou whose heart is softening to the sweet benevolences of Christian charity in so many directions,—wilt thou not think, with a new sentiment of kindness and sympathy, on this Blind Painter, who has tapestried the hills and valleys of thy island with an artistry that angels might look upon with admiration and wonder!
Wilt thou not build him a better cottage to live in?
Wilt thou not give him something better than dry bread and cold bacon for dinner in harvest?
Wilt thou not teach all his children to read the alphabet and the blessed syllables of the Great Revelation of God's Love to man?
Wilt thou not make a morning-ward door in his dwelling and show him a future with a sun in it, in this world, as well as the world to come?
Wilt thou not open up a pathway through the valley of his humiliation by which his children may ascend to the better conditions of society?
NOTTINGHAM AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS—NEWSTEAD ABBEY—MANSFIELD—TALK IN A BLACKSMITH'S SHOP—CHESTERFIELD, CHATSWORTH AND HADDON HALL— ARISTOCRATIC CIVILISATION, PRESENT AND PAST.
From the Belvoir Vale I continued my walk to Nottingham the following day; crossing a grand old bridge over the Trent. Take it all in all, this may be called perhaps the most English town in England; stirring, plucky and radical; full of industrial intellect and vigor. Its chief businesses involve and exercise thought; and thought educed into one direction and activity, runs naturally into others. The whole population, under these influences, has become peopled to a remarkable status and strength of opinion, sentiment and action. They prefix that large and generous quality to their best doings and institutions, and have their Peoples' College, Peoples' Park, etc. The Peoples' Charter had its stronghold here, and all radical reforms are sure to find sympathy and support among the People of Nottingham. I should think no equal population in the kingdom would sing "Britons never, never will be slaves," with more spirit, or, perhaps, with more understanding. Their plucky, English natures became terribly stirred up in the exciting time of the Reform Bill, and they burned down the magnificent palace-castle of the old Duke of Newcastle, crowning the mountainous rock which terminates on the west the elevated ridge on which the town is built. When the Bill was carried, and the People had cooled down to their normal condition of mind, they were obliged to pay for this evening's illumination of their wrath pretty dearly. The Duke mulcted the town and county to the tune of 21,000 pounds, or full $100,000. The castle was no Chepstow structure, rough and rude for war, but more like the ornate and castellated palace at Heidelberg, and it was almost as high above the Trent as the latter is above the Neckar. The view the site commands is truly magnificent, embracing the Trent Valley, and an extensive vista beyond it. It was really the great lion of the town, and the People, having paid the 21,000 pounds for dismounting it, because it roared in the wrong direction on the Reform Bill, expected, of course, that His Grace the Duke would set it up again on the old pedestal, with its mane and tail and general aspect much improved. But they counted without their host. "Is it not lawful to do what I will with my own," was the substance of his reply; and there stands the blackened, crumbling ruin to this day, as a silent but grim reproach to the People for letting their angry passions rise to such destructive excitement on political questions.
Hosiery and lace are the two great manufacturing interests of Nottingham, and the tons of these articles it turns out yearly for the world are astonishing in number and value. A single London house employs 3,000 hands in the town and immediate vicinity upon hosiery alone for its establishment. Lace now seems to lead the way, and there are whole streets of factories and warehouses busy with its manufacture and sale. Perhaps no fabric in the world ever tested the ingenuity and value of machinery like this. The cost has been reduced, from the old hand-working to the present process, from three dollars to three cents a yard! I think no machinery yet invented has been endowed with more delicate functions of human reason and genius than that employed upon the flower-work of this subtle drapery. Until I saw it with my own eyes, I had concluded that the machinery invented or employed in America for setting card- teeth was the most astute, and as nearly approaching the faculties of the human mind in its apparent thought-power, as it was reverent and safe to carry anything made of iron and steel, or made by man at all. To construct a machine which should pass between its fingers a broad belt of leather and a fine thread of wire, prick rows of holes across the breadth of the leather, bend, cut off, and insert the shank ends of the teeth clear through these holes, and clinch them on the back side, and pour out a continuous, uninterrupted stream of perfectly-teethed belt, all ready for carding,—this, I fancied, was the ne plus ultra of mechanical inventions. But it is quite surpassed by the lace-weaving looms of Nottingham, that work out, to exquisite perfection, all the flowers, leaves, vines and vein-work of nature. It was wonderful to see the ductility of cotton, as here exemplified. The bobbins, which, I suppose, are a mere refinement upon the old hand-thrown shuttle, are of brass, about the size of half-a-crown. A groove that will just admit the thin edge of a case-knife, is cut into the rim of the little wheel, about one quarter of an inch deep. A cotton thread, 120 yards in length, and strong enough to be twitched about and twisted by a score of vigorous, chattering, iron fingers, is wound around in this groove. But it would be idle to attempt a description of either the machinery or the process.
I went next into a large establishment for dyeing, dressing, winding and packing the lace for market. It was startling to see the acres of it dyed black for mourning. Really there seemed enough of it to drape the whole valley of the shadow of death! It was an impressive sight truly. If there were other establishments doing the same thing, Nottingham must turn out weeds of grief enough for several millions of mourning widows, mothers, sisters and daughters in a year. I ascended into the dressing-room, I think they called it, in the upper story, where there was a piece containing one twenty-fifth of an acre of lace undergoing a fearful operation for a human constitution to sustain. It was necessary that the heat of the apartment should be kept at one hundred and twenty degrees! There was a large number of women and girls, and a few men and boys working under this melting ordeal. And one of the proprietors was at their head, in a rather summer dress, and with a seethed and crimson face beaded with hot perspiration. It was a very delicate and important operation which he had not only to watch with his own eyes, but to work at with his own hands. I was glad to learn that he was a staunch Protestant, and did not believe in purgatory; but those poor girls!—could they be expected to hold to the same belief under such a test?
I was told that they could get up lace so cheap that the people of the town frequently cover their gooseberry bushes with it to keep off the insects. Spider-webbing is a scarcely more gossamer-like fabric. Sixteen square yards of this lace only weigh about an ounce! If the negroes on one of the South Carolina Sea-island plantations could have been shut into that dressing-room for two whole minutes, with the mercury at 120 degrees, they would have rolled up the whites of their eyes in perfect amazement and made a rush for "Dixie" again.
From Nottingham I made an afternoon walk to Mansfield. The weather was splendid and the country in all the glory of harvest. On reaching Newstead Abbey, I found, to my regret, that the entree to the public had been closed by the new proprietor, one, I was told, of the manufacturing gentry of the Manchester school. Not that he was less liberal and accommodating to sight-seers than his predecessors, but because he was making very extensive and costly improvements in the buildings and grounds. I have seen nothing yet in England to compare, for ornate carving, with the new gate-way he is making to the park. It is of the finest kind of arabesque work done in stone that much resembles the Caen. This prevention barred me from even a distant view of the once famous residence of Lord Byron, as it could not be seen from the public road.
Within about three miles of Mansfield, I came to a turnpike gate,—a neat, cozy, comfortable cottage, got up in the Gothic order. I stopped to rest a moment, and noticing the good woman setting her tea-table, I invited myself to a seat at it, on the inn basis, and had a pleasant meal and chat with her and an under-gamekeeper of the Duke of Portland, who had come in a little before me. The stories he told me about the extent of the Duke's possessions were marvellous, more especially in reference to his game preserves. I should think there must be a larger number of hares, rabbits and partridges on his estate than in the whole of New England. As I sat engaged in conversation with the woman of the house and this accidental guest, an unmistakable American face met my eyes, as I raised them to the opposite wall. It was the familiar face of a Bristol clock, made in the Connecticut village adjoining the one in which I was born. It wore the same honest expression, which a great many ill-natured people, especially in our Southern States, have regarded as covering a dishonest and untruthful mind, or a bad memory of the hours. Still it is the most ubiquitous Americanism in the world, and it is pleasant to see its face in so many cottages of laboring men from Land's End to John O'Groat's.
Mansfield is a very substantial and venerable town, bearing a name which one distinguished man has rendered illustrious by wearing it through a brilliant life. It is situated near the celebrated Sherwood Forest, and is marked by many features of peculiar interest. One of its noticeable celebrities is the house in which Lord Chesterfield resided. It is now occupied by a Wesleyan minister, who elaborates his sermons in the very room, I believe, in which that fashionable nobleman penned his polite literature for youthful candidates for the uppermost circles of society. In the centre of the market place there is a magnificent monument erected to the memory of the late Lord George Bentinck, who was held in high esteem by the people of the town and vicinity. The manufactures are pretty much the same as in Nottingham. They turn out a great production of raw material in red sandstone, very much resembling our Portland, quite as fine, hard and durable. Immense blocks of it are quarried and conveyed to London and to all parts of the kingdom. The town also supplies a vast amount of moulding sand, of nearly the same color and consistency as that we procure from Albany. I stopped on my way into the town to take a turn through the cemetery, which was very beautifully laid out, and looked like a great garden lawn belted with shrubbery, and illuminated with the variegated lamps of flowers of every hue and breath. The meandering walks were all laid with asphalte, which presented a new and striking contrast to the gorgeous borders and the vivid green of the cleanly shaven grass. Many of the little graves were made in nests of geraniums and other modest and sweet-eyed stars of hope.
Next day I had a very enjoyable walk in a north-westerly direction to Chesterfield. On the way, called in at a blacksmith's shop, and had a long talk with the smith-in-chief on matters connected with his trade. The "custom-work" of such shops in country villages in England is like that in ours fifty years ago—embracing the greatest variety of jobs. Articles now made with us in large manufacturing establishments at a price which would starve a master and his apprentice to compete with, are hammered out in these English shops on a single anvil. On comparing notes with this knight of the hammer, I learned a fact I had not known before. His price for horse-shoeing varied according to the size of the hoof, just as our leather-shoemakers charge according to the foot. On taking leave of him he intimated, in the most frank and natural way in the world, that, in our exchange of information, the balance was in his favor, and that I could not but think it fair to pay him the difference. I looked at him first inquiringly and doubtingly, embarrassed with the idea that I had not understood him, or that he was a journeyman and not the master of the establishment. But he was as free and easy and natural as possible. An American tobacco-chewer, of fifty years' standing, would not have asked a cut from a neighbor's "lady's twist," or "pig-tail" in more perfect good faith. That good, round, English face would have blushed crimson if the man suspected that I misunderstood him. Nay, more, he would quite likely have thrown the pennies at my head if I had offered them to him to buy bread or bacon with for himself and family. I had no reason for a moment's doubt. It all meant beer, "only that and nothing more;" a mere pour boire souvenir to celebrate our mutual acquaintance. So I gave him a couple of pennies, just as I would have given him a bite of tobacco if we had both been in that line. I feared to give him more, lest he might think I meant bread and bacon and thought him a beggar. But I ventured to tell him, however, that I did not use that beverage myself, and hoped he would wish me health in some better enjoyment.
I saw, for the first time, a number of Spanish cattle feeding in a pasture. They were large, variously colored animals with the widely-branching horns that distinguish them. A man must have a long range of buildings to stable a score of creatures with such horns, and for that reason they will only be kept as curiosities in these northern latitudes. And they are curiosities of animal life, heightened to a wonderment when placed side by side with the black Galloways, or those British breeds of cattle which have no horns at all. I should not wonder, however, if this large, cream-colored stock from Spain should be introduced here to cross with the Durhams, Devons, and Herefords.
When about half-way from Mansfield to Chesterfield, a remarkable change came over the face of the landscape. The mosaic work of the hill-sides and valleys showed more green squares than before. Three-fourths of the fields were meadow or pasture, or in mangel or turnips. There was but one here and there in wheat or other grain. The road beneath and the sky above began to blacken, and the chimneys of coal-pits to thicken. Sooty-faced men, horses and donkeys passed with loaded carts; and all the premonitory aspects of the "black country" multiplied as I proceeded. I do not recollect ever seeing a landscape change so suddenly in England.
Chesterfield is an intelligent looking town, evidently growing in population and prosperity. It has its own unique speciality; almost as strikingly distinctive as that of Strasburg or Pisa. This is the most ambiguous and mysterious church spire in the world. It would be very difficult to convey any idea of it by any description from an unaided pen; and there is nothing extant that would avail as an illustration. The church is very old and large, and stands upon a commanding eminence. The massive tower supports a tall but suddenly tapering spire of the most puzzling construction to the eye. It must have been designed by a monk of the olden time, with a Chinese turn of ingenuity. There is no order known to architecture to furnish a term or likeness for it. A ridgy, spiral spire are the three most descriptive words, but these are not half enough for stating the shape, style and posture of this strange steeple. It is difficult even to assist the imagination to form an idea of it. I will essay a few words in that direction. Suppose, then, a plain spire, 100 feet high, in the form of an attenuated cone, planted upon a heavy church tower. Now, in imagination, plough this cone all around into deep ridges from top to bottom. Then mount to the top, and, with a great iron wrench, give it an even twist clear down to the base, so that each ridge shall wind entirely around the spire between the bottom and the top. Then, in giving it this screw- looking twist, bend over the top, with a gentle incline all the way down, so that it shall be "out of perpendicular" by about three feet. Then come down and look at your work, and you will be astonished at it, standing far or near. The tall, ridgy, curved, conical screw puzzles you with all sorts of optical illusions. As the eyes in a front-face portrait follow you around the room in which it is hung, so this strange spire seems to lean over upon you at every point, as you walk round the church. Indeed, I believe it was only found out several centuries after its erection, that it absolutely leaned more in one direction than another. It is a remarkable sight from the railway as you approach the town from a distance. If it may be said reverently, the church, standing on comparatively a hill, not only lifts its horn on high, but one like that of a rhinoceros, considerably curved. Just outside the town stands the house in which George Stephenson lived his last days, and ended his great life of benefaction to mankind; leaving upon that haloed spot a biograph which the ages of time to come shall not wash out.
From Chesterfield I diverged westward to see Chatsworth and Haddon Hall. Whoever makes this walk or ride, let him be sure to stop at Watch Hill on the way, and look at the view eastward. It is grander than that of Belvoir Vale, if not so beautiful.
It was a pleasure quite equal to my anticipation to visit Chatsworth for the first time, after a sojourn in England, off and on, for sixteen years. It is the lion number three, according to the American ranking of the historical edifices and localities of England. Stratford-upon-Avon, Westminster Abbey and Chatsworth are the three representative celebrities which our travellers think they must visit, if they would see the life of England's ages from the best stand-points. And this is the order in which they rank them. Chatsworth and Haddon Hall should be seen the same day if possible; so that you may carry the impressions of the one fresh and active into the other. They are the two most representative buildings in the kingdom. Haddon is old English feudalism edificed. It represents the rough grandeur, hospitality, wassail and rude romance of the English nobility five hundred years ago. It was all in its glory about the time when Thomas-a-Becket the Magnificent used to entertain great companies of belted knights of the realm in a manner that exceeded regal munificence in those days,—even directing fresh straw to be laid for them on his ample mansion floor, that they might not soil the bravery of their dresses when they bunked down for the night. The building is brimful of the character and history of that period. Indeed, there are no two milestones of English history so near together, and yet measuring such a space of the nation's life and manners between them, as this hall and that of Chatsworth. It was built, of course, in the bow-and-arrow times, when the sun had to use the same missiles in shooting its barbed rays into the narrow apertures of old castles—or the stone coffins of fear-hunted knights and ladies, as they might be called. What a monument this to the dispositions and habits of the world, outside and inside, of that early time! Here is the porter's or warder's lodge just inside the huge gate. To think of a living being with a human soul in him burrowing in such a place!—a big, black sarcophagus without a lid to it, set deep in the solid wall. Then there is the chapel. Compare it with that of Chatsworth, and you may count almost on your fingers the centuries that have intervened between them. It was new-roofed soon after the discovery of America, and perhaps done up to some show of decency and comfort. But how small and rude the pulpit and pews—looking like rough- boarded potato-bins! Here is the great banquet-hall, full to overflowing with the tracks and cross-tracks of that wild, strange life of old. There is a fire-place for you, and a mark in the chimney-back of five hundred Christmas logs. Doubtless this great stone pavement of a floor was carpeted with straw at these banquets, after the illustrious Becket's pattern. Here is a memento of the feast hanging up at the top of the kitchenward door;—a pair of roughly-forged, rusty handcuffs amalgamated into one pair of jaws, like a musk-rat trap. What was the use of that thing, conductor? "That, sir, they put the 'ands in of them as shirked and didn't drink up all the wine as was poured into their cups, and there they made them stand on tiptoe up against that door, sir, before all the company, sir, until they was ashamed of theirselves." Descend into the kitchen, all scarred with the tremendous cookery of ages. Here they roasted bullocks whole, and just back in that dark vault with a slit or two in it for the light, they killed and dressed them. There are the relics of the shambles. And here is the great form on which they cut them up into manageable pieces. It would do you good, you Young America, to see that form, and the cross-gashes of the meat-axe in it. It is the half of a gigantic English oak, which was growing in Julius Caesar's time, sawed through lengthwise, making a top surface several feet wide, black and smooth as ebony. Some of the bark still clings to the under side. The dancing hall is the great room of the building. All that the taste, art and wealth of that day could do, was done to make it a splendid apartment, and it would pass muster still as a comfortable and respectable salon. As we pass out, you may decipher the short prayer cut in the wasting stone of a side portal, "GOD SAVE THE VERNONS!" I hope this prayer has been favorably answered; for history records much virtue in the family, mingled with some romantic escapades, which have contributed, I believe, to the entertainment of many novel readers.
Just what Haddon Hall was to the baronial life and society of England five hundred years ago, is Chatsworth to the full stature of modern civilization and aristocratic wealth, taste and position. Of this it is probably the best measure and representative in the kingdom; and as such it possesses a special value and interest to the world at large. Were it not for here and there such an establishment, we should lack waymarks in the progress of the arts, sciences and tastes of advancing civilization. Governments and joint-stock companies may erect and fill, with a world of utilities and curiosities of ancient and modern times, British Museums, National Galleries, Crystal Palaces and Polytechnic Institutions; but not one of these, nor the Louvre, nor Versailles, nor the Tuileries can compete with one private mind, taste and will concentrated upon one great work for a lifetime, when endowed with the requisite perceptions and means competent to carry that work to the highest perfection of science, genius and art. Museums, galleries and public institutions of art are exclusively visiting places. The elegancies of home life are all shut out of their attractions. You see in them the work and presence of a committee, or corporation, often in discrepant layers of taste and plan. One mind does not stand out or above the whole, fashioning the tout- ensemble to the symmetrical lines of one governing, all-pervading and shaping thought. You see no exquisite artistry of drawing-room or boudoir elegance and luxury running through living apartments of home, out into the conservatories, lawns, gardens, park and all its surroundings and embellishments, making the whole like a great illuminated volume of family life, which you may peruse page by page, and trace the same pen and the same story from beginning to end. Even the grandest royal residences lack, in this quality, what you will find at Chatsworth. They all show the sharp-edged strata of unaffiliated tastes and styles of different ages and artists. They lack the oneness of a single individuality, of one great symmetrical conception.
This one-mindedness, this one-man power of conception and execution gives to the Duke of Devonshire's palace at Chatsworth an interest and a value that probably do not attach to any other private establishment in England. In this felicitous characteristic it stands out in remarkable prominence and in striking contrast with nearly all the other baronial halls of the country. It is the parlor pier-glass of the present century. It reflects the two images in vivid apposition—the brilliant civilization of this last, unfinished age in which we live and the life of bygone centuries; that is, if Haddon Hall shows its face in it, or if you have the features of that antiquity before your eyes when you look into the Chatsworth mirror. The whole of this magnificent establishment bears the impress of the nineteenth century, inside and outside. The architecture, sculpture, carving, paintings, engravings, furniture, libraries, conservatories, flowers, shrubberies and rockeries all bear and honor the finger-prints of modern taste and art. In no casket in England, probably, have so many jewels of this century's civilization been treasured for posterity as in this mansion on the little meandering Derwent. If England has no grand National Gallery like the French Louvre, she has works of art that would fill fifty Louvres, collected and treasured in these quiet private halls, embosomed in green parks and plantations, from one end of the land to the other. And in no other country are the private treasure-houses of genius so accessible to the public as in this. They doubtless act as educational centres for refining the habits of the nation; exerting an influence that reaches and elevates the homes of the people, cultivating in them new perceptions of beauty and comfort; diffusing a taste for embowering even humble cottages in shrubbery; making little flower-fringed lawns, six feet by eight or less; rockeries and ferneries, and artificial ruins of castles or abbeys of smaller dimensions still.
In passing through the galleries and gardens of Chatsworth you will recognise the originals of many works of art which command the admiration of the world. The most familiar to the American visitor will probably be the great painting of the Bolton Abbey Scene, the engravings of which are so numerous and admired on both sides of the Atlantic. But there is the original of a greater work, which has made the wonder of the age. It is the original of the Great Crystal Palace of 1851, and the mother of all the palaces of the same structure which have been or will be erected in time past or to come. Here it diadems at Chatsworth the choice plants and flowers of all the tropics; presenting a model which needed only expansion, and some modifications, to furnish the reproduction that delighted the world in Hyde Park in 1851.
I was pleasantly impressed with one feature of the economy that ruled at Chatsworth. Although there were between one and two thousand deer flecking the park, it was utilised to the pasture of humbler and more useful animals. Over one hundred poor people's cows were feeding demurely over its vast extent, even to the gilded gates of the palace. They are charged only 2 pounds for the season; which is very moderate, even cheaper than the stony pasturage around the villages of New England. I noticed a flock of Spanish sheep, black-and-white, looking like a drove of Berkshire hogs, and seemingly clothed with bristles instead of wool. They are kept rather as curiosities than for use.
Chatsworth, with all its treasures and embodiments of wealth, art and genius, with an estate continuous in one direction for about thirty miles, is but one of the establishments of the Duke of Devonshire. He owns a palace on the Thames that might crown the ambition of a German prince. He also counts in his possessions old abbeys, baronial halls, parks and towns that once were walled, and still have streets called after their gates. If any country is to have a personage occupying such a position, it is well to have a considerable number of the same class, to yeomanise such an aristocracy—to make each feel that he has his peers in fifty others. Otherwise an isolated duke would have to live and move outside the pale of human society; a proud, haughty entity dashing about, with not even a comet's orbit nor any fixed place in the constellation of a nation's communities. It is of great necessity to him, independent of political considerations, that there is a House of Peers instituted, in which he may find his social level; where he may meet his equals in considerable numbers, and feel himself but a man.
SHEFFIELD AND ITS INDIVIDUALITY—THE COUNTRY, ABOVE GROUND AND UNDER GROUND—WAKEFIELD AND LEEDS—WHARF VALE—FARNLEY HALL—HARROGATE; RIPLEY CASTLE; RIPON; CONSERVATISM OF COUNTRY TOWNS—FOUNTAIN ABBEY; STUDLEY PARK—RIEVAULX ABBEY—LORD FAVERSHAM'S SHORT-HORN STOCK.
From Chatsworth I went on to Sheffield, crossing a hilly moorland belonging to the Duke of Rutland, and containing 10,000 acres in one solid block. It was all covered with heather, and kept in this wild, bleak condition for game. Here and there well-cultivated farms, as it were, bit into this cold waste, rescuing large, square morsels of land, and making them glow with the warm flush and glory of luxuriant harvests; thus showing how such great reaches of desert may be made to blossom like the rose under the hand of human labor.
Here is Sheffield, down here, sweltering, smoking, and sweating, with face like the tan, under the walls of these surrounding hills. Here live and labor Briareus and Cyclops of modern mythology. Here they—
Swing their heavy sledge, With measured beats and slow; Like the sexton ringing the village bell, When the evening sun is low.
Here live the lineal descendants of Thor, christianised to human industries. Here the great hammer of the Scandinavian Thunderer descended, took nest, and hatched a brood of ten thousand little iron beetles for beating iron and steel into shapes and uses that Tubal Cain never dreamed of. Here you may hear their clatter night and day upon a thousand anvils. O, Vale of Vulcan! O, Valley of Knives! Was ever a boy put into trousers, in either hemisphere, that did not carry in the first pocket made for him one of thy cheap blades? Did ever a reaper in the Old World or New cut and bind a sheaf of grain, who did not wield one of thy famous sickles? All Americans who were boys forty years ago, will remember three English centres of peculiar interest to them. These were Sheffield, Colebrook Dale, and Paternoster Row. There was hardly a house or log cabin between the Penobscot and the Mississippi which could not show the imprint of these three places, on the iron tea-kettle, the youngest boy's Barlow knife, and his younger sister's picture-book. To the juvenile imagination of those times, Sheffield was a huge jack-knife, Colebrook Dale a porridge-pot, and Paternoster Row a psalm-book, each in the generative case. How we young reapers used to discuss the comparative merits and meanings of those mysterious letters on our sickles, B.Y and I.R! What were they? Were they beginnings of words, or whole words themselves? Did they stand for things, qualities, or persons? "Mine is a By sickle; mine is an Ir one. Mine is the best," says the last, "for it has the finest teeth and the best curve." That was our boys' talk in walking through the rye, with bent backs and red faces, a little behind our fathers; who cut a wider work to enable us to keep near them.
In what blacksmith shop or hardware house in America does not Sheffield show its face and faculties? Did any American, knowing the difference between cast-iron and cast-steel, ever miss the sight of Naylor and Sanderson's yellow labels in his travels? How many millions of acres of primeval forest have the ages edged with their fine steel cut through, and given to the plough! Fashion has its Iron Age as well as its Golden; and, what is more remarkable, the first of the two has come last, in the fitful histories of custom. And this last freak of feminine taste has brought a wonderful grist of additional business to the Sheffield mill. The fair Eugenie has done a good thing for this smoky town, well deserving of a monument of burnished steel erected to her memory on one of these hills. More than this; as Empress of Crinoline, she should wear the iron crown of Charlemagne in her own right. Her husband's empire is but a mere arondissement compared with the domain that does homage to her sceptre. Sheffield is the great arsenal of her armaments. Sheffield cases ships of war with iron plates a foot thick; but that is nothing, in pounds avoirdupois, compared with the weight of steel it spins into elastic springs for casing the skirts of two hundred millions of the fair Eugenie's sex and lieges in the two hemispheres. It is estimated that ten thousand tons of steel are annually absorbed into this use in Christendom; and Sheffield, doubtless, furnishes a large proportion of it.
Here I had another involuntary walk, not put down in the programme of my expectations. On inquiring the way to Fir Vale, a picturesque suburb where a friend resided, I was directed to a locality which, it was suggested, must be the one I meant, though it was called Fir View. I followed the direction given for a considerable distance, when it was varied successively by persons of whom I occasionally inquired. After ascending and descending a number of steep hills, I suddenly came down upon the town again from the south, having made a complete circuit of it; a performance that cost me about two hours of time and much unsatisfactory perspiration. Fearing that a second attempt would be equally unsuccessful, I took the Leeds road, and left the Jericho at the first round. Walked about nine miles to a furnace-lighted village called very appropriately Hoyland, or Highland, when anglicised from the Danish. It commands truly a grand view of wooded hills and deep valleys dashed with the sheen of ripened grain.
The next day I passed through a good sample section of England's wealth and industry. Mansions and parks of the gentry, hill, valley, wheat-fields, meadows of the most vivid green; crops luxuriant in most picturesque alternations; in a word, the whole a vista of the richest agricultural scenery. And yet out of the brightest and broadest fields of wheat, barley and oats, towered up the colliery chimneys in every direction, like good-natured and swarthy giants smoking their pipes complacently and "with comfortable breasts" in view of the goodly scene. The golden grain grew thick and tall up to the very pit's mouth. In the sun-light above and gas-light below human industry was plying its differently- bitted implements. There were men reaping and studding the pathway of their sickles through the field with thickly-planted sheaves. But right under them, a hundred fathoms deep, subterranean farmers were at work, with black and sweaty brows, garnering the coal- harvest sown there before the Flood. Sickle above and pick below were gathering simultaneously the layers of wealth that Nature had stored in her parlor and cellar for man.
I passed through Barnsley and Wakefield on this day's walk,—towns full of profitable industries and busy populations, and growing in both after the American impulse and expansion. If the good "Vicar of Wakefield" of the olden time could revisit the scene of his earthly experience, and look upon the old church of his ministry as it now appears, renovated from bottom to the top of its grand and lofty spire, he would not be entrapped again so easily into assent to the Greek apothegm of the swindler.
I lodged at a little village inn between Wakefield and Leeds, after a day of the most enjoyable walk that I had made. Never before, between sun and sun, had I passed over such a section of above- ground and under-ground industry and wealth. The next morning I continued northward, and noticed still more striking combinations of natural productions and human industries than on the preceding day. One small, rural area in which these were blended impressed me greatly, and I stopped to photograph the scene on my mind. In a circle hardly a third of a mile in diameter, there was the heaviest crop of oats growing that I had yet seen in England; in another part of the same field there was a large brick-kiln; in another, an extensive quarry and machinery for sawing the stone into all sizes and shapes; then a furnace for casting iron, and lastly, a coal mine; and all these departments of labor and production were in full operation. It is quite possible that not one of the hundred laborers on and under this ten-acre patch ever thought it an extraordinary focus of production. Perhaps even the proprietors and managers of the five different enterprises worked on the small space had taken its rich and diversified fertilities as a matter of course, as we take the rain, light and heat of summer; but to a traveller "taking stock" of a country's resources, it could not but be a point of view exciting admiration. I left it behind me deeply impressed with the conviction that I had seen the most productive ten-acre field that could be found on the surface of the globe, counting in the variety and value of its surface and sub-surface crops.
I took tea with a friend in Leeds, remaining only an hour or two in that town, then pursuing my course northward. The wide world knows so much of Leeds that any notice that I could give of it might seem affected and presumptuous. It is to the Cloth-World what Rome is to the Catholic. Its Cloth Hall is the St. Peter's of Coat-and- trouserdom. Its rivers, streams and canals run black and blue with the stringent juices of all the woods and weeds of the world used in dyeing. The woods of all the continents come floating in here, like baled summer clouds of heaven. It is a city of magnipotent chimneys; and they stand thick and tall on the hills and in the valleys around, and puff their black breathings into the face and eyes of the sky above, baconising its countenance, and giving it no time to wash up and look sober, calm and clean, except a few hours on the sabbath. The Leeds Mercury is a power in the land, and everybody who reads the English language in either hemisphere knows Edward Baines by name.
As I emerged from the great, busy town on the north, I passed by the estates and residences of its manufacturing aristocracy. The homes they have built and embellished should satisfy the tastes and ambitions of any hereditary nobility. They need only a little more age to make them rival many baronial establishments. It is interesting to see how the different classes of society are stepping into each other's shoes in going up into higher grades of social life. The merchant and manufacturing princes of England have not only reached but surpassed the conditions of wealth, taste and elegance which the hereditary peers of the realm occupied a century ago; while the latter have gone up to the rich and luxurious surroundings of kings and queens of that period. The upward movement has reached the very lowest strata of society. Not only have the small tradesmen and farmers ascended to the comfortable conditions of large merchants and landowners of one hundred years ago, but common day laborers are lifted upward by the general uprising. I should not wonder if all the damp, low cellarless cottages they now frequently inhabit should be swept away in less than fifty years and replaced by as comfortable buildings as the great middle class occupied in the childhood of the present generation.
I found comfortable quarters for the night in the little village of Bramhope, about five miles from Leeds. The next day I walked to Harrogate, passing through Otley and across the celebrated Wharf Vale. The scenery of this valley, as it opens upon you suddenly on descending from the south into Otley, is exceedingly beautiful; not so extensive as that of Belvoir Vale, but with all the features of the latter landscape compressed in a smaller space; like a portrait taken on a smaller scale. As you look off from the southern ridge or wall of the valley, you seem to stand on the cord of a segment of a circle, the radius of which touches the horizon at about five miles to the north. This crescent is filled with the most delicate lineaments of Nature's beauty. The opposite walls of the gallery slope upward from the meandering Wharf so gently and yet reach the blue ceiling of the sky so near, that all the paintings that panel them are vividly distinct to your eye, and you can group all their lights and shades in the compass of a single glance.
On the opposite side, half hidden and half revealed among the trees of an ample park, stands Farnley Hall, a historical residence of an old historical family. I had a letter of introduction to the present proprietor, Mr. Fawkes, who, I hope, will not deem it a disparagement to be called one of the Knights of the Shorthorns—a more extensive, useful, and cosmopolitan order than were the Knights of Rhodes or of Malta. Unfortunately for me, he was not at home; but his steward, a very intelligent, gentlemanly and genial man, took me over the establishment, and showed me all the stock that was stabled, mostly bulls of different ages. They were all of the best families of Shorthorn blood, and a better connoisseur of animal life than myself could not have enjoyed the sight of such well-made creatures more thoroughly than I did. The prince of the blood, in my estimation, was "Lord Cobham," a cream-colored bull, with which compared that famous animal in Greek mythology which played himself off as such an Adonis among the bovines, must have been a shabby, scraggy quadruped. Poor Europa! it would have been bad enough if she had been run away with by a "Lord Cobham." But the like of him did not live in her day.
After going through the housings for cattle, the steward took me to the Hall, a grand old mansion full of English history, especially of the Commonwealth period. Indeed, one large apartment was a museum of relics of that stirring and stormy time. There, against the antique, carved wainscoting, hung the great broad-brim of Oliver Cromwell, with a circumference nearly as large as an opened umbrella, heavy, coarse and grim. There hung a sword he wielded in the fiery rifts of battle. There was Fairfax's sword hanging by its side; and his famous war-drum lay beneath. Its leather lungs, that once shouted the charge, were now still and frowsy, with no martial speech left in them.
Mr. Fawkes owns about 15,000 acres of land, including most of the valley of Otley, and extending back almost to Harrogate. He farms about 450 acres, but grows no wheat. Indeed, I did not see a field of it in a circle of five miles' diameter.
I reached Harrogate in the dusk of the evening, and found the town alive with people mostly in the streets. It is a snug and cozy little Saratoga among the hills of Yorkshire, away from the smoke, soot and savor of the great manufacturing centres. It is a favorite resort for a mild class of invalids, and of persons who need the medicine of pure air and gentle exercise, blended with the quiet tonics of cheery mirth and recreation. Superadded to all these stimulants, there is a mineral spring at which the visitors, young and old, drink most voluminously. I went down to it in the morning before breakfast, and found it thronged by a multitude of men, women and children, who drank off great goblets of it with astonishing faith and facility. The rotunda was so filled with the fumes of sulphur that I found it more easy to inhale than to imbibe, and preferred to satisfy that sense as to the merits of the water.
The next day I reached the brave old city of Ripon. On the way I stopped an hour or two at Ripley and visited the castle. The building itself is a good specimen of the baronial hall of the olden time. But the gardens and grounds constitute its distinguishing feature. I never saw before such an exquisite arrangement of flowers, even at Chatsworth or the Kew Gardens. All forms imaginable were produced by them. The most extensive and elaborate combination was a row of flower sofas reaching around the garden. Each was from 20 to 30 feet in length. The seat was wrought in geraniums of every tint, all grown to an even, compact surface, presenting figures as diversified as the alternating hues could produce. The back was worked in taller flowers, presenting the same evenness of line and surface. On entering the garden gate and catching the first sight of these beautiful structures, you take them for veritable sofas, as perfectly wrought as anything was ever done in Berlin wool.
Ripon is an interesting little city, with a fact-roll of history reaching back into the dimmest centuries of the land. It has run the gauntlet of all the Saxon, Danish, Scotch and Norman raids and regimes. It was burnt once or twice by each of these races in the struggle for supremacy. But with a plucky tenacity of life, it arose successively out of its own ashes and spread its phoenix wings to a new and vigorous vitality. A venerable cathedral looks down upon it with a motherly face. Unique old buildings, with half their centuries unrecorded and lost in oblivion, stand to this day in good repair, as the homes of happy children, who play at marbles and the last sports of the day just as if they were born in houses only a year older than themselves. Institutions and customs older than the cathedral are kept up with a filial faith in their virtue. One of the most interesting of these, I believe, was established by the Saxon Edgar or Alfred—it matters not which; they were only a century or two apart, and that space is but a trifling circumstance in the history of this old country. One of these kings appointed an officer called a "wakeman" for the town. He must originally have been a kind of secular beadle of the community, or a curfew constable, to see the whole population well a-bed in good season. One of his duties consisted in blowing a horn every night at nine o'clock as a signal to turn in. But a remarkable consideration was attached to faithful compliance with this summons. If any house or shop was robbed before sunrise, a tax was levied upon every inhabitant, of 4d. if his house had one outer door, and of 8d. if it had two. This tax was to compensate the sufferer for his loss, and also to put the whole community under bonds to keep the peace and to feel responsible for the safety of each other's property. Thus it not only acted as a great mutual insurance company of which every householder was a member, but it made him, as it were, a special constable against burglary. This old Saxon institution is in full life and vigor to-day. The wakeman is still the highest secular official of the town. For a thousand consecutive years the wakeman's toot-horn has been blown at night over the successive generations of the little cathedral city. This is an interesting fact, full of promise. No American could fail to admire this conservatism who appreciates national individuality. No one, at heart, could more highly esteem these salient traits of a people's character. And here I may as well put in a few thoughts on this subject as at any stage of my walk.
Good-natured reader, are you a man of sensitive perceptions as to the proprieties and dignities of dress and deportment which should characterise some great historical personage whose name you have held in profound veneration all your life long? Now, in the wayward drift of your imagination among the freaks of modern fashion, did it ever dare to present before your eyes St. Paul in strapped pantaloons, figured velvet vest, swallow-tailed coat, stove-pipe hat, and a cockney glass at his eye? Did your fancy, in its wildest fictions, ever pass such an image across the speculum of your mental vision?
Gentle reader, "in maiden meditation, fancy free," did a dreamy thought of yours ever stray through the histories of your sex and its modes of dress and adornment, and so blend or transpose them as to present to you, in a sudden flash of the imagination, the Virgin Mary dressed like the Empress Eugenie? Readers both, did not that fancy trouble you, as if an unholy thought had fallen into the soul? Well, a thought like that must trouble the American when his fancy passes before his mind's eye the image of Old England Americanised. And a faculty more serious and trusty than fancy will present this transformation to him, day by day, as he visits the great centres of the nation's life and industry. In London, Manchester, Liverpool, and all the most busy and prosperous commercial and manufacturing towns, he will see that England is becoming Americanised shockingly fast. In all these populous places it is losing the old individuality that once distinguished the grandfatherland of fifty millions who now speak its language beyond the sea. Look at London! look at the miles of three and four story houses under the mason's hands, now running out in every direction from the city. Will you see a single feature of the Old England of our common memories in them? No, not one! no more than in a modern English dress-coat, or in one of the iron rails of the British Great Western, or of the Illinois Central. It is doubtful if there will be anything of England left in London at the end of the next fifty years, unless it be the fog and the Lord Mayor's Show. Already the radicals are crying out against both of these institutions, which are merely local, by the way. The tailor's shears, the mason's trowel, and the carpenter's edge-tools are evening everything in Christendom to one dead level of uniformity. The railroads and telegraphs are all working to the same end. All these agencies of modern civilization at first lay their innovating hands upon large cities or commercial centres. Thence they work outward slowly and transform the appearance and habits of the country. The transformations I have noticed in England since 1846 are wonderful, utilitarian, and productive of absolute and rigid comfort to the people; still, I must confess, they inspire in me a sentiment akin to that which our village fathers experienced when the old church in which they worshipped from childhood was pulled down to make room for a better one.
To every American, sympathising with these sentiments, it must be interesting to visit such a rural little city as Ripon, and find populations that cling with reverence and affection to the old Saxon institutions of Alfred. It will make him feel that he stands in the unbroken lineage of the centuries, to hear the wakeman's horn, and to know that it has been blown, spring, summer, autumn and winter, in all weathers, in weal and in woe, for a thousand years. As Old England is driven farther and farther back from London, Manchester, Liverpool, and other great improving towns, she will find refuge and residence in these retired country villages. Here she will wear longest and last the features in which she was engraven on the minds of all the millions who call her mother beyond the sea.
The next day I visited the celebrated Fountain Abbey in Studley Park,—a grand relic of antiquity, framed with silver and emerald work of lakelets, lawns, shrubberies and trees as beautifully arranged as art, taste and wealth could set them. The old abbey is a majestic ruin which fills one with wonder as he looks up at its broken arches and towers and sees the dimensions marked by the pedestals or foot-prints of its templed columns. It stands rather in a narrow glen than in a valley, and was commenced, it is supposed, about 1130. The yew-trees under which the monks bivouacked while at work upon the magnificent edifice, are still standing, bearing leaves as large and green as those that covered the enthusiastic architects of that early time. In the height of its prosperity and power, the lands of the abbey embraced over 72,000 acres. The Park enclosing this great monument of an earlier age contains 250 acres, and is really an earthly elysium of beauty. It was comforting to learn that it was laid out so late as 1720, and that all the noble trees that filled it had grown to their present grandeur within the intervening period. Here I saw for the first time in England our hard-maple. It was a spindling thing, looking as if it had suffered much from fever and ague or rheumatism; but it was pleasant to see it admitted into a larger fellowship of trees than our New England soil ever bore. On a green, lawn-faced slope, at the turning of the principal walk, there was a little tree a few feet high enclosed in by a circular wire fence. It was planted by the Princess of Wales on a visit of the royal pair to Studley soon after their marriage. The fair Dane left her card in this way to the old Abbey, which began to rise upon its foundations soon after the stalwart Danish sovereign of England fell at the Battle of Hastings. Will any one of her posterity ever bear his name and sit upon the throne he vacated for that bloody grave? No! She will remember a better name at the font. The day and the name of the Harolds, Williams, Henrys, Charles's, and Georges are over and gone forever. ALBERT THE GOOD has estopped that succession; and England, doubtless, for centuries to come, will wear that name and its memories in her crown.
After spending a few hours at Studley Park, I returned to Ripon and went on to Thirsk, where I spent the Sabbath with a Friend. The next day he drove me over to Rievaulx Abbey, which was the mother of Fountain Abbey. On the way to it we passed the ruins of another of these grand structures of that religious age, called Byland Abbey, where Robert Bruce came within an ace of capturing King Edward on his retreat from Scotland, after the Battle of Bannockburn.
One of the objects of this excursion was to visit the establishment of Lord Faversham, near Helmsley, who is one of the most scientific and successful stock-raisers, of the Shorthorn blood, in England, and to whom I had a note of introduction. But he, too, was not at home, which I much regretted, as I was desirous of seeing one of the peers of the realm who enter into this culture of animal life with so much personal interest and assiduity. His manager, however, was very affable and attentive, ready and pleased to give any information desired upon different points. He showed us a splendid set of animals. Indeed, I had never seen a herd to equal it. There were several bulls of different ages with a perfection of form truly admirable. Some of them had already drawn first prizes at different shows. Several noble specimens of this celebrated herd have been sold to stock-raisers in America, Australia and in continental countries. The most perfect of all the well-made animals on the establishment, according to my untrained perceptions of symmetry, was a milk-white cow, called "The Lady in White," three years old. She and Mr. Fawkes' "Lord Cobham" should be shown together. I doubt if a better mated pair could be found in England. There was a large number of cows feeding in the park which would command admiration at any exhibition of stock. Lord Faversham's famous "Skyrocket" ended his days with much eclat. When getting into years, and into monstrous obesity, he was presented as a contribution to the Lancashire Relief Fund. Before passing into the butcher's hands, he was exhibited in Leeds, and realised about 200 pounds as a show. Thus as a curiosity first, and as a small mountain of fat beef afterward, he proved a generous gift to the suffering operatives in the manufacturing districts.
Passing through the park gate, we entered upon a lawn esplanade looking down upon the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. This broad terrace extended for apparently a half of a mile, and was as finely carpeted piece of ground as you will find in England. No hair of horse or dog groomed and brushed with the nicest care, and soft and shining with the healthiest vitality, could surpass in delicacy and life of surface the grass coverlet of this long terrace, from which you looked down upon that grand monument of twelfth-century architecture half veiled among the trees of the glen. This was one of the oldest abbeys in the north of England, and the mother of several of them. Some of its walls are still as entire and perfect as those of Tintern, on the Wye. It was founded by the monks of the St. Bernard order, in 1131, according to the historical record. Really those black-cowled masons and carvers must have given the enthusiasm and genius of the early painters of the Virgin to these magnificent structures. I will not go into the subject at large here, leaving it to form an entire chapter, when I have seen most of the old abbeys of the country. In looking up at their walls, arches and columns, one marvels to see the most delicate and elaborate vine and flower-work of the carver's chisel apparently as perfect as when it engraved the last line; and this, too, in face of the frosts and beating storms of six hundred years. The largest ivy I ever saw buttressed one of the windowed walls with ten thousand cross-folded fingers and foliage of vivid green piled thick and high upon the teeth-marks of time. The trunk was a full foot through at the butt. A few years ago a large mound was uncovered near the ruin, and found to be composed of cinders, showing incontestably that the monks had worked iron ore very extensively, thus teaching the common people that art as well as agriculture. These cinders have been used very largely in repairing the roads for a considerable distance around.
On returning to Thirsk over the Hambleton range of hills, we crossed thousands of acres of moor-land covered with heather in full bloom, looking like a purple sea. It was a splendid sight. My friend, who was an artist, stopped for a while to sketch one or two views of the scene. As we proceeded, we saw several green and golden fields impinging upon this florid waste, serving to illustrate what might be done with the vast tracts of land in England and Scotland now bristling with this thick and prickly vegetation. The heatherland over which we were passing was utilised in a rather singular manner. It yielded pasturage to two sets of industrials—sheep and bees. As the heather blossom is thought to impart a peculiarly pleasant flavor to honey, I was told many bee-stock-raisers of Lincolnshire brought their hives to this section to pasture them for a season on this purple prairie.
The westward view from the precipitous heights of the Hambleton ridge is one of the most beautiful and extensive you will find in England, well worth a special journey to see it. The declining sun was flooding the great basin with the day's last, best smile, filling it to the golden rim of the horizon with a soft light in which lay a landscape of thirty miles' depth, embracing full fifty villages and hamlets, parks, plantations and groves, all looking "like emeralds chased in gold." On the whole, I am inclined to think many tourists would regard this view as even superior to that of Belvoir Vale. It might be justly placed between that and Wharf Vale.
A London gentleman produced a most unique picture on the forehead of one of these hills, which may be seen at a great distance. In the first place, he had a smooth, lawn-like surface prepared on the steep slope. Then he cut out the form of a horse in the green turf, sowing the whole contour of the animal with lime. This brought out in such bold relief the body and limbs, that, at several miles distance, you seem to see a colossal white horse standing on his four legs, perfect in form and feature, even to ear and nostril. The symmetry is perfect, although the body, head, legs and tail cover a space of four acres!
The next day I took staff for Northallerton, reaching that town about the middle of the afternoon. Passed through a highly cultivated district, and saw, for the first time, several reaping machines at work in the fields. I was struck at the manner in which they were used. I have noticed a peculiarity in reaping in this section which must appear singular to an American. The men cut inward instead of outward, as with us. And these machines were following the same rule! As they went around the field, they were followed or rather met by men and women, each with an allotted beat, who rushed in behind and gathered up the fallen from the standing grain so as to make a clear path for the next round. There seemed to be no reason for this singular and awkward practice, except the adhesion to an old custom of reaping. The grain was not very stout, nor was it lodged.
From Northallerton I hastened on to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in order to attend, for the first time in my life, the meetings of the British Association. I reached that town on the 25th of August, and remained there a week, enjoying one of the greatest treats that ever fell to my lot. I will reserve a brief description of it for a separate chapter at the end of this volume, if my Notes on other matters do not crowd it out.
HEXHAM—THE NORTH TYNE—BORDER-LAND AND ITS SUGGESTIONS—HAWICK— TEVIOTDALE—BIRTH-PLACE OF LEYDEN—MELROSE AND DRYBURGH ABBEYS— ABBOTSFORD: SIR WALTER SCOTT; HOMAGE TO HIS GENIUS—THE FERRY AND THE OAR-GIRL—NEW FARM STEDDINGS—SCENERY OF THE TWEED VALLEY— EDINBURGH AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS.
On Thursday, Sept. 3rd, I left Newcastle, and proceeded first westward to the old town of Hexham, with the view of taking a more central route into Scotland. Here, too, are the ruins of one of the most ancient of the abbeys. The parish church wears the wrinkles of as many centuries as the oldest in the land. Indeed, the town is full of antiquities of different dates and races,—Roman, Scotch, Saxon, Danish and Norman. They all left the marks of their glaived hands upon it.
From Hexham I faced northward and followed the North Tyne up through a very picturesque and romantic valley, thickly wooded and studded with baronial mansions, parks, castles and residences of gentry, with comfortable farm-houses looking sunny and cheerful on the green hill slopes and on the quiet banks of the river. I saw fields of wheat quite green, looking as if they needed another month's sun to fit them for harvesting. Lodged in a little village about eight miles from Hexham. The next day walked on to the little hamlet of Fallstones, a distance of about twenty miles. As I ascended the valley, the scene changed rapidly. The river dwindled to a narrow stream. The hills that walled it in on either side grew higher and balder, and the clouds lay cold and dank upon their bleak and sullen brows. The hamlets edged in here and there grew thinner, smaller and shabbier. The road was barred and gated about once in a mile, to keep cattle and sheep from wandering; there being no fences nor hedges running parallel with it. In a word, the premonitory symptoms of a bare border-land thickened at every turn.
Another day brought me into the midst of a wild region, which might be called No-man's-land; although most of it belongs to the Duke of Northumberland. It is all in the solitary grandeur of heather- haired hills, which tinge, with their purple flush, the huge, black- winged clouds that alight upon them. Only here and there a shepherd's cottage is to be seen half way up the heights, or sheltering itself in a clump of trees in glen or gorge, like a benighted traveller bivouacking for a night in a desert. Sheep, of the Cheviot breed mostly, are nearly the sole inhabitants and industrials of this mountainous waste. They climb to the highest peaks and bring down the white wealth of their wool to man. It was pleasant to see them like walking mites, flecking the dark brows of the mountains. They made a picture; they made a tableau vivant of the same illustration as Landseer's lamb looking into the grass- covered cannon's mouth.
This is the Border-land! Here the fiercest antagonisms of hostile nationalities met in deadly conflict. Fire and blood, rapine and wrath blackened and reddened and ravaged for centuries across this bleak territory. Robber-chieftains and knighted free-booters carried on their guerilla raids backward and forward, under the counterfeited banner of patriotism. Scotch and English armies led by kings marched and counter-marched over this sombre boundary. Never before was there one apparently more insoluble as a barrier between two peoples. Never before in Christendom was there one that required a longer space of time to melt. Never before did the fusing of two nationalities encounter more fierce and prolonged opposition. Did ever patriotism pour out a swifter and deeper tide of chivalrous sentiment against merging one in another?—against uniting two thrones and two peoples in one? Did patriotism ever fight bloodier battles to prevent such a union, or cling to local sovereignty with a more desperate hold?
This is the Border-land! Look up the purpled steeps of these heathered hills. The white lambs are looking, with their soft, meek eyes, into the grass-choked mouths of the rusty and dismantled cannon of the war of nationalities between England and Scotland. The deed has been consummated. The valor and patriotism of Wallace and Bruce could not prevent it. The sheep of English and Scotch shepherds feed side by side on these mountain heights, in spite of Stirling and Bannockburn, of Flodden and Falkirk. The Iron Horse, bearing the blended arms of the two realms on his shield, walks over those battle-fields by night and day, treading their memories deeper and deeper in the dust. The lambs are playing in the sun on the boundary line of the two dominions. Does a Scot of to-day love his native land less than the Campbell clansman or clan-chief in Bruce's time? Not a whit. He carries a heartful of its choicest memories with him into all countries of his sojourning. But there is a larger sentiment that includes all these filial feelings towards his motherland, while it draws additional warmth and strength from them. It is the sentiment of Imperial Nationality; the feeling of a Briton, that does not extinguish nor absorb, nor compete with, the Scot in his heart;—the feeling that he is a political constituent of a mighty nation, whose feet stand upon all the continents of the earth, while it holds the best islands of the sea in its hands;—the feeling with which he says We with all the millions of a dominion on which the sun never sets, and Our, when he speaks of its grand and common histories, its hopes, prospects, progress, power and aspirations.
There was a Border-land, dark and bloody, between Saxon England and Celtic Wales. For centuries the red foot-marks of savage conflict scarred and covered its wild waste. Never before did so small a people make so stout, and desperate and protracted struggle for local independence and isolation. Never did one produce a more strong-hearted and blind-eyed patriotism, or patriotism more poets to thrill the listeners to their lays with the intoxicating fanaticism of a national sentiment. On that Border-land the white lambs now lie in the sun. The Welsh sentiment is as strong as ever in the Snowdon shepherd, and he may not speak a dozen words of the English tongue. But the Briton lives in his breast. The feeling of its great meaning surrounds and illumines the inner circles of his local attachment. He may never have seen a map of the Globe, and never have been outside the wall of the Welsh mountains; but he knows, without geography, who and what Queen Victoria is among the earth's sovereigns, and the length and breadth of her sceptre's reach and rule around the world.
There was a Border-land between Britain and Ireland, blackened and scarred by more burning antagonisms than those that once divided the larger island. The record of several consecutive centuries is graven deep in it by the brand and bayonet, and by the more incisive teeth-marks of hate. The slumbering antipathies of race and religion even now crop out here and there, over the unfused boundary, in hissing tongues of flame. The Briton and the Celt are still struggling for the precedence in the Irishman's breast; but it is not a war of extermination. His ardent nature is given to martial memories, and all the battles he boasts of are British battles, in which he or his father played the hero number one. The history of independent Ireland is poor and thin; still he holds it back in his heart, and hesitates to link it with the great annals of the "Saxon" realm, and thus make of both one grand and glorious record, present and future. He cannot yet make up his mind to say We with all the other English-speaking millions of the empire, as the Scotsman and Welshman have learned and loved to say it. He cannot as yet say Our with them with such a sentiment of joint- interest, when the histories, hopes, expansion and capacities of that empire unroll their vista before him. But the rains and the dews of a milder century are falling upon this Border-land. The lava of spent volcanoes that covered it is taking soil and seed of green vegetation. The white lambs shall yet lie on it in the sun.
What a volume might be filled with the succinctest history of the Border-lands of Christendom! France was intersected with them for centuries. Seemingly they were as implacable and obdurate as any that ever divided the British isle. Local patriotism wrote poetry and shed blood voluminously to prevent the fusion of these old landmarks of pigmy nationalities. It took nearly a thousand years to complete the blending; to make the we and the our of one great consolidated empire the largest political sentiment of the men of Normandy, Burgundy or Navarre. Long and fierce, and seemingly endless was the struggle; but at last, on all those old obstinate boundaries of hostile principalities, the white lambs lay in the sun.
There are Border-lands now in the south and east of Europe foaming and seething with the same antagonisms of race and language; and Christendom is tremulous with their emotion. It is the same old struggle over again; and yet ninety-nine in a hundred of intelligent and reading people, with the history of British and French Border- lands before them, seem to think that a new and strange thing has happened under the sun. Full that proportion of our English- speaking race, in both hemispheres, closing the volume of its own annals, have made up their minds to the belief that these Border- lands between German and Magyar, Teuton and Latin, Russ and Pole, bristle with antagonisms the like of which never were subdued, and never ought to be subdued by human means or motives. To them, naturally, the half century of this hissing and seething, insurrection and repression, is longer than the five hundred years and more it took to fuse into one the nationalities of England and Wales. What a point of space is a century midway between the ninth and nineteenth! Few are long-sighted enough in historic vision to touch that point with a cambric needle. It may seem unfeeling to say it or think it; still it is as true as the plainest history of the last millenium. There is a patriotism that looks at the future through a gimlet hole, and sees in it but a single star. That patriotism is a natural, and most popular sentiment. It was strong in the Welshman's breast a thousand years ago, and in the Scotsman's half that distance back in the past. But it is a patriotism that has its day and its rule; then both its eyes are opened, and it looks upon the firmament of the future broadside on, and sees a constellation where it once saw and half worshipped a solitary star. Better to be the part of a great WHOLE than the whole of a little nothing.
These continental Border-lands may see the face of their future history in the mirror of England's annals. They are quaking now with the impetuous emotions of local nationality. They are blackened and scarred in the contest for the Welsh and Scotch independence of centuries agone. But over those boundary wastes the grass shall yet grow soft, fair and green, and there, too, the white lambs shall lie in the sun.
My walk lay over the most inhospitable and unpeopled section I ever saw. Calling at a station on the railway that passes through it, I was told by the master that the nearest church or chapel was sixteen miles in one direction, and over twenty in another. It is doubtful if so large a churchless space could be found in Iowa or even Kansas. I was glad to reach Hawick, a good, solid town but a little way inside of the Scottish border, where I spent the sabbath and the following Monday. This was a rallying and sallying point in the old Border Wars, and was inundated two or three times by the flux and reflux of this conflict, having been burnt twice, and put under the ordeal of other calamities brought upon it when free-booting was both the business, occupation and pastime of knighted chieftains and their clansmen. It is now a thrifty, manufacturing town, lying in the trough of the sea, or of the lofty hills that resemble waves hardened to earth in their crests. Just opposite the Temperance Inn in which I had my quarters, was the Tower Hotel, once a palatial mansion of the Buccleuchs. There the Duchess of Monmouth used to hold her drawing-rooms in an apartment which many a New England journeyman mechanic would hardly think ample and comfortable enough for his parlor. There is a curious conical mound in the town, called the Moat-hill, which looks like a great, green carbuncle. It is thought by some to be a Druidical monument, but is quite involved in a mystery which no one has satisfactorily solved. It is strange that no persistent and successful effort has been made to let day- light through it. Some workmen a long time ago undertook to perforate it, but were frightened away by a thunder-storm, which they seemed to take as a reproof and threatened punishment for their profanity. The great business of Hawick is the manufacture of a woollen fabric called Tweeds. It came to this name in a singular way. The clerk of the factory made out an invoice of the first lot to a London house under the name of Twilled goods. The London man read it Tweeds, instead of Twilled, and ever since they have gone by that title. As Sir Walter Scott was at that time making the name "Tweed" illustrious, the mistake was a very lucrative one to the manufacturers of the article. Here, too, in this border town commences the chain of birthplaces of eminent men, who have honored Scotland with their lives and history. Here was born James Wilson, once the editor of The Economist, who worked his way up, through intermediate positions of public honor and trust, to that of Finance Minister for India, and died at the meridian of his manhood in that country of dearly-bought distinctions.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8th, I commenced my walk northward from this threshold town of Scotland. Followed down the Teviot to Denholm, the birth-place of the celebrated poet and linguist, Dr. John Leyden, another victim who offered himself a sacrifice to the costly honors and emoluments of East Indian official life. One great thought fired his soul in all the perils and privations of that deadly climate. It was to ascend one niche higher in knowledge of oriental tongues than Sir William Jones. He labored to this end with a desperate assiduity that perhaps was never surpassed or even equalled. He died hugging the conviction that he had attained it. This little village was his birthplace. Here he wrote his first rhymes, and wooed and won the first inspirations of the muse. His heart, as its last pulses grew weaker and slower, in that far-off heathen land, took on its child-thoughts again and its child- memories; and his last words were about this little, rural hamlet where he was born. A beautiful monument has been erected to his memory in the centre of the large common around which the village is built. On each of the four sides of the monument there is a tribute to his name and worth; one from Sir Walter Scott, and one taken from his own poems, entitled "Scenes of my Infancy," a touching appeal to his old friends and neighbors to hold him in kind remembrance.
All this section is as fertile as it can be in the sceneries and historical associations favorable for inspiring a strong-hearted love of country, and for the development of the poetry of romantic patriotism. It was pleasant to emerge from the dark, cold, barren border-land, from the uncivilized mountains, standing sullen in the wild, shaggy chevelure of nature, and to walk again between towering hills dressed in the best toilet of human industry, crowned with golden wheatfields, and zoned with broad girdles of the greenest vegetation. It is when these contrasts are suddenly and closely brought within the same vista that one sees and feels how the Creator has honored the labor of human hands, and lifted it up into partnership with His omnipotences in chronicling the consecutive centuries of the earth in illuminated capitals of this joint handwriting. It is a grand and impressive sight—one of those dark- browed hills of the Border-land, bearded to its rock-ridged forehead with such bush-bristles and haired with matted heather. In nature it is what a painted Indian squaw in her blanket, eagle feathers and moccasins, is in the world of humanity. We look upon both with a species of admiration, as contrasts with objects whose worth is measured by the comparison. The Empress Eugenie and the Princess of Wales, and wives and sisters lovelier still to the circles of humble life, look more beautiful and graceful when the eye turns to them from a glance at the best-looking squaw of the North American wilds. And so looked the well-dressed hills on each side of the Teviot, compared with the uncultured and stunted mountains among which I had so recently walked.
Ascending from Teviotdale, I passed the Earl of Minto's seat, a large and modern-looking mansion, surrounded with beautiful grounds and noble trees, and commanding a grand and picturesque view of valley and mountain from an excellent point of observation. As soon as I lost sight of Teviotdale another grand vista of golden and purpled hills and rich valleys burst upon my sight as suddenly as theatrical sceneries are shifted on the stage. Dined in a little, rural, unpoetical village bearing the name of Lilliesleaf. Resuming my walk, I soon came in sight of the grand valley of the Tweed, a great basin of natural beauty, holding, as it were, Scotland's "apples of gold in pictures of silver." Every step commanded some new feature of interest. Here on the left arose to the still, blue bosom of the sky the three great Eildon Hills, with their heads crowned with heather as with an emerald diadem. The sun is low, and the far-off village in the valley shows dimly between the daylight and darkness. There is the shadow of a broken edifice, broken but grand, that arises out of the midst of the low houses. A little farther on, arches, and the stone vein-work of glassless windows, and ivy-netted towers come out more distinctly. I recognise them at the next furlong. They stand thus in pictures hung up in the parlors of thousands of common homes in America, Australia and India. They are the ruins of Melrose Abbey. Here is the original of the picture. I see it at last, as thousands of Americans have seen it before. In history and association it is to them the Westminster Abbey of Scotland, but in ruin. It looks natural, though not at first glance what one expected. The familiar engraving does not give us the real flesh and blood of the antiquity, or the complexion of the stone; but it does not exaggerate the exquisite symmetries and artistic genius of the structure. These truly inspire one with wonder. They are all that pen and pencil have described them. The great window, which is the most salient feature in the common picture, is a magnificent piece of work in stone, twenty-four feet in height and sixteen in breadth. It is all in the elm-tree order of architecture. The old monks belonged to that school, and they wrought out branches, leaves and leaf-veins, and framed the lacework of their chisels with colored glass most exquisitely.
Melrose Abbey was the eldest daughter, I believe, of Rievaulx Abbey, in Yorkshire, which has already been noticed; a year or two older in its foundation than Fountain Abbey, in Studley Park. The fecundity with which these ecclesiastical buildings multiplied and replenished England and Scotland is a marvel, considering the age in which they were erected and the small population and the poverty of the country. But something on this aspect of the subject hereafter. Here lie the ashes of Scottish kings, abbots and knights whose names figured conspicuously in the history of public and private wars which cover such a space of the country's life as an independent nation. The Douglas family especially with several of its branches found a resting-place for their dust within these walls. Built and rebuilt, burnt and reburnt, mutilated, dismembered, consecrated and desecrated, make up the history of this celebrated edifice, and that of its like, from Land's End to John O'Groat's. It is a slight but a very appreciable mitigation of these destructive acts that it was ruined artistically; just as some enthusiastic castle and abbey- painter would have suggested.
Although I spent the night at Melrose, it was a dark and cloudy one, so that I could not see the abbey by moonlight—a view so much prized and celebrated. The next day I literally walked from morning till evening among the tombstones of antiquity and monuments of Scotch history invested with an interest which will never wane. In the first place, I went down the Tweed a few miles and crossed it in a ferry-boat to see Dryburgh Abbey. Here, embowered among the trees in a silver curve of the river, stands this grand monument of one of the most remarkable ages of the world. Within an hour's walk from Melrose, and four or five years only after the completion of that edifice, the foundations of this were laid. It is astonishing. We will not dwell upon it now, but make a separate chapter on it when I have seen most of the other ruins of the kind in the kingdom. The French are given to the habit of festooning the monuments and graves of their relatives and friends with immortelles. Nature has hung one of hers to Dryburgh Abbey. It is a yew-tree opposite the door by which you enter the ruins. The year-rings of its trunk register all the centuries that the stones of the oldest wall have stood imbedded one upon the other. The tree is still green, putting forth its leaf in its season. But there is an immortelle hung to these dark, crumbling walls that shall outlive the greenest trees now growing on earth. Here, in a little vaulted chapel, or rather a deep niche in the wall, lie the remains of Sir Walter Scott, his wife and the brilliant Lockhart. How many thousands of all lands where the English language is spoken will come and stand here in mute and pensive communion before the iron gate of this family tomb and look through the bars upon this group of simply-lettered stones!
From Dryburgh I walked back to Melrose on the east side of the Tweed. Lost the footpath, and for two hours clambered up and down the precipitous cliffs that rise high and abrupt from the river. In many places the zig-zag path was cut into the rock, hardly a foot in breadth, overhanging a precipice which a person of weak nerves could hardly face with composure. At last got out of these dark fastnesses and ascended a range of lofty hills where I found a good carriage road. This elevation commanded the most magnificent view that I ever saw in Scotland, excepting, perhaps, the one from Stirling Castle only for the feature which the Forth supplies. It was truly beautiful beyond description, and it would be useless for me to attempt one.
After dinner in Melrose, I resumed my walk northward and came suddenly upon Abbotsford. Indeed, I should have missed it, had I not noticed a wooden gate open on the roadside, with some directions upon it for those wishing to visit the house. As it stands low down towards the river, and as all the space above it to the road is covered with trees and shrubbery, it is entirely hidden from view in that direction. The descent to the house is rather steep and long. And here it is!—Abbotsford! It is the photograph of Sir Walter Scott. It is brim full of him and his histories. No author's pen ever gave such an individuality to a human home. It is all the coinage of thoughts that have flooded the hemispheres. Pages of living literature built up all these lofty walls, bent these arches, panelled these ceilings, and filled the whole edifice with these mementoes of the men and ages gone. Every one of these hewn stones cost a paragraph; that carved and gilded crest, a column's length of thinking done on paper. It must be true that pure, unaided literary labor never built before a mansion of this magnitude and filled it with such treasures of art and history. This will forever make it and the pictures of it a monument of peculiar interest. I have said that it is brim full of the author. It is equally full of all he wrote about; full of the interesting topographs of Scotland's history, back to the twilight ages; full inside and out, and in the very garden and stable walls. The studio of an artist was never fuller of models of human or animal heads, or of counterfeit duplicates of Nature's handiwork, than Sir Walter's mansion is of things his pen painted on in the long life of its inspirations. The very porchway that leads into the house is hung with petrified stag- horns, doubtless dug up in Scottish bogs, and illustrating a page of the natural history of the country in some pre-historic century. The halls are panelled with Scotland,—with carvings in oak from the old palace of Dunfermline. Coats of arms of the celebrated Border chieftains are arrayed in line around the walls. The armoury is a miniature arsenal of all arms ever wielded since the time of the Druids. And a history attaches to nearly every one of the weapons. History hangs its webwork everywhere. It is built, high and low, into the face of the outside walls. Quaint, old, carved stones from abbey and castle ruins, arms, devices and inscriptions are all here presented to the eye like the printed page of an open volume. Among the interesting relics are a chair made from the rafters of the house in which Wallace was betrayed, Rob Roy's pistol, and the key of the old Tolbooth of Edinburgh.