In this vicinity is Newstead Abbey, the ancestral home of Byron, and one of our greatest disappointments was our inability to gain access to it. Perhaps we might have done so if we had made arrangements sufficiently in advance, since visitors are admitted, they told us, on certain days by special permission. There has, however, been an increasing tendency on the part of the owner to greatly limit the number of visitors. The coal mines discovered on the lands have become a great source of wealth and the abbey has been transformed into a modern palace in one of the finest private parks in England. The rooms occupied by Byron, it is said, are kept exactly as they were when he finally left Newstead and there are many interesting relics of the poet carefully preserved by the present proprietor.
It would be a bad thing for England if the tendency on the part of private owners of historic places, to exclude visitors from their premises, should become general. The disposition seems somewhat on the increase, and not without cause. Indeed, I was told that in a number of instances the privileges given had been greatly abused; that gardens had been stripped of their flowers and relics of various kinds carried away. This vandalism was not often charged against Americans, but rather against local English "trippers," as they are called—people who go to these places merely for a picnic or holiday. No doubt this could be overcome—it has been overcome in a number of instances, notably Warwick Castle and Knole House—by the charge of a moderate admission fee. People who are willing to pay are not generally of the class who commit acts of vandalism. That this practice is not adopted to a greater extent is doubtless due to the fact that numbers of aristocratic owners think there is something degrading in the appearance of making a commercial enterprise out of the historic places which they possess.
It is only twenty miles from Retford to Lincoln, and long before we reached the latter town we saw the towers of its great cathedral, which crowns a steep hill rising sharply from the almost level surrounding country. It is not strange that the cathedral-builders, always with an eye to the spectacular and imposing, should have fixed on this remarkable hill as a site for one of their churches. For miles from every direction the three massive towers form a landmark as they rise above the tile roofs of the town in sharp outline against the sky. To reach Lincoln we followed a broad, beautiful highway, almost level until it comes to the town, when it abruptly ascends the hill, which is so steep as to tax the average motor. The cathedral in some respects is the most remarkable and imposing in England. The distinctive feature is the great towers of equal size and height, something similar to those of Durham, though higher and more beautifully proportioned. The interior shows some of the finest Norman architecture in the Kingdom and the great Norman doorway is said to be the most perfect of its kind. Near the chapel in the cathedral close is a bronze statue of Tennyson accompanied by his favorite dog. This reminded us that we were in the vicinity of the poet's birthplace, and we determined that the next point in our pilgrimage should be Somersby, where the church and rectory of Tennyson's father still stand.
We planned to reach Boston that evening, and as there were a good many miles before us we were not able to give the time that really should be spent in Lincoln. It has many ancient landmarks, the most remarkable being a section of the Roman wall that surrounded the town about 15 A.D. and in which the arch of one of the gateways is still entire. It now appears to have been a very low gateway, but we were informed that excavations had shown that in the many centuries since it was built the earth had risen no less than eight feet in the archway and along the wall. Lincoln Castle, much decayed and ruinous, is an appropriate feature of one of the public parks. Along the streets leading up Cathedral Hill are rows of quaint houses, no doubt full of interest; but a motor tour often does not permit one to go much into detail.
So we bade farewell to Lincoln, only stopping to ask the hostler for directions to the next town on our way. Generally such directions are something like this: "Turn to the right around the next corner, pass two streets, then turn to the left, then turn to the right again and keep right along until you come to the town hall"—clock tower, or something of the kind—"and then straight away." After you inquire two or three more times and finally come to the landmark, you find three or four streets, any one of which seems quite as "straight away" as the others, and a consultation with a nearby policeman is necessary, after all, to make sure you are right. When once well into the country, the milestones, together with the finger-boards at nearly every parting of the ways, can be depended on to keep you right. These conveniences, however, are by no means evenly distributed and in some sections a careful study of the map and road-book is necessary to keep from going astray.
The twenty miles to Somersby went by without special incident. This quaint little hamlet—it can hardly be called a village—is almost hidden among the hills, well off the main-traveled roads and railway. We dashed through the narrow lanes, shaded in many places by great over-arching trees and the road finally led across the clear little brook made famous by Tennyson's verse. After crossing the bridge we were in Somersby—if such an expression is allowable. Nothing is there except the rectory, the church just across the way, the grange, and half a dozen thatched cottages. A discouraging notice in front of the Tennyson house stated positively that the place would not be shown under any conditions except on a certain hour of a certain day of the week—which was by no means the day nor the hour of our arrival. A party of English teachers came toward us, having just met with a refusal, but one of them said that Americans might have an exception made in their favor. Anyway, it was worth trying.
Our efforts proved successful and a neat, courteous young woman showed us over the rambling house. It is quite large—and had to be, in fact, to accommodate the rector's family of no fewer than twelve children, of whom the poet was the fourth. The oddest feature is the large dining room, which has an arched roof and narrow, stained-glass windows, and the ceiling is broken by several black-oak arches. At the base of each of these is a queer little face carved in stone and the mantel is curiously carved in black oak—all of this being the work of the elder Tennyson himself. There is some dispute as to the poet's birthroom. Our fair guide showed us all the rooms and said we might take our choice. We liked the one which opened on the old-fashioned garden at the rear of the house, for as is often the case in England, the garden side was more attractive than the front. Just across the road stands the tiny church of which the Rev. Tennyson was rector for many years. This was one of the very smallest that we visited and would hardly seat more than fifty people altogether. It is several hundred years old, and in the churchyard is a tall, Norman cross, as old as the church itself.
A rare thing it is to find the burying-ground around a church in England quite neglected, but the one at Somersby is the exception to the rule. The graves of the poet's father and brother were overgrown with grass and showed evidences of long neglect. We expressed surprise at this, and the old woman who kept the key to the church replied with some bitterness that the Tennysons "were ashamed to own Somersby since they had become great folks." Anyway, it seems that the poet never visited the place after the family left in 1837. Near the church door was a box with a notice stating that the congregation was small and the people poor, and asking for contributions to be used in keeping the church in repair. The grange, near the rectory, is occupied by the squire who owns the birthplace, it is a weatherbeaten building of brick and gray stone and perhaps the "gray old grange" referred to in "In Memoriam." Altogether, Somersby is one of the quietest and most charming of places. Aside from its connection with the great poet, it would be well worthy of a visit as a bit of rural England. Scattered about are several great English elms, which were no doubt large trees during the poet's boyhood, a hundred years ago.
For a long distance our road from Somersby to Boston ran on the crest of a hill, from which we had a far-reaching view over the lovely Lincolnshire country. Shortly after, we left the hills and found ourselves again in the fen country. Many miles before we reached Boston we saw the great tower of St. Botolph's Church, in some respects the most remarkable in England. They give it the inartistic and inappropriate appellation of "The Stump," due to the fact that it rises throughout its height of more than three hundred feet without much diminution in size. So greatly does this tower dominate the old-fashioned city that one is in danger of forgetting that there is anything else in Boston, and though it is a place little frequented by Americans, there are few quainter towns in England. Several hundred years ago it was one of the important seaports, but it lost its position because the river on which it is situated is navigable only by small vessels at high tide.
Boston is of especial interest to Americans on account of its great namesake in this country and because it was the point from which the Pilgrim Fathers made their first attempt to reach America. Owing to pestilence and shipwreck, they were compelled to return, and later they sailed in the Mayflower on a more successful voyage from Plymouth. We can get a pretty good idea of the reasons which led the Pilgrim Fathers to brave everything to get away from their home land. One may still see in the old town hall of Boston the small, windowless stone cells where the Fathers were confined during the period of persecution against the Puritans. Evidently they did not lay their sufferings against the town itself, or they would hardly have given the name to the one they founded in the New World. Boston is full of ancient structures, among them Shodfriars Hall, one of the most elaborate half-timbered buildings in the Kingdom. The hotels are quite in keeping with the dilapidation and unprogressiveness of the town and there is no temptation to linger longer than necessary to get an idea of the old Boston and its traditions.
The country through which we traveled next day is level and apparently productive fanning land. The season had been unusually dry and favorable to the fen land, as this section is called. The whole country between Boston and Norwich has scarcely a hill and the numerous drains showed that it is really a reclaimed marsh. In this section English farming appeared at its best. The crops raised in England and Scotland consist principally of wheat, oats and various kinds of grasses. Our Indian corn will not ripen and all I saw of it was a few little garden patches. The fen country faintly reminds one of Holland, lying low and dotted here and there with huge windmills. As a matter of curiosity, we visited one of the latter. The miller was a woman, and with characteristic English courtesy she made us acquainted with the mysteries of the ancient mill, which was used for grinding Indian corn for cattle-feed.
Our route for the day was a circuitous one, as there were numerous points that we wished to visit before coming to Norwich for the night. A broad, level road leads from Boston to King's Lynn, a place of considerable size. Its beginning is lost in antiquity, and a recent French writer has undertaken to prove that the first settlement of civilized man in Britain was made at this point. We entered the town through one of the gateways, which has no doubt been obstructing the main highway for several hundred years. It is a common thing in the English towns to find on the main street one of the old gates, the opening through which will admit but one vehicle at a time, often making it necessary to station a policeman on each side to see that there are no collisions. But the gateways have been standing for ages and it would be sacrilege to think of tearing them down to facilitate traffic. Just outside King's Lynn we passed Sandringham Palace, a spacious modern country house and one of the favorite homes of the Royal Family.
A few hours through winding byways brought us to the village of Burnham Thorpe, the birthplace of Admiral Nelson. It is a tiny hamlet, whose mean-looking, straggling cottages with red tiles lack the artistic beauty of the average English village—the picturesque, thatched roofs and brilliant flower gardens were entirely wanting. The admiral was the son of the village rector, but the parsonage in which he was born was pulled down many years ago. Still standing, and kept in good repair, is the church where his father preached. The lectern, as the pulpit-stand in English churches is called, was fashioned of oak taken from Nelson's flagship, the Victory. The father is buried in the churchyard and a memorial to Nelson has been erected in the church. The tomb of the admiral is in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
From Burnham Thorpe on the way to Norwich are the scant ruins of the priory of Walsingham. In its palmy days this was one of the richest in the world, and it is said that it was visited by more pilgrims than was the shrine of Becket at Canterbury. In every instance a gift was expected from the visitor, and as a consequence the monks fared sumptuously. Among these pilgrims were many of the nobility and even kings, including Henry VIII, who, after visiting the priory as a votary in the early part of his reign, ordered its complete destruction in 1539. This order was evidently carried out, for only shattered fragments of the ruins remain to show how splendid the buildings must once have been.
Walsingham is an unusually quaint little village, with a wonderful, ancient town pump of prodigious height and a curious church with a tall spire bent several degrees from the perpendicular. Near the priory are two springs, styled Wishing Wells, which were believed to have miraculous power, the legend being that they sprang into existence at the command of the Virgin. This illustrates one of the queer and not unpleasing features of motoring in England. In almost every out-of-the-way village, no matter how remote or small and how seldom visited by tourists, one runs across no end of quaint landmarks and historic spots with accompanying incidents and legends. Twenty miles more through a beautiful country brought us in sight of the cathedral spire of Norwich. This city has a population of about one hundred and twenty thousand and there is a unique charm in its blending of the mediaeval and modern. It is a progressive city with large business and manufacturing interests, but these have not swept away the charm of the old-time town. The cathedral is one of the most imposing in England, being mainly of Norman architecture and surmounted by a graceful spire more than three hundred feet in height. Norwich also presents the spectacle of a modern cathedral in course of building, a thing that we did not see elsewhere in England. The Roman Catholic Church is especially strong in this section, and under the leadership of the Duke of Norfolk has undertaken to build a structure that will rival in size and splendor those of the olden time. No doubt the modern Catholics bear in mind that their ancestors built all the great English churches and cathedrals and that these were lost to them at the time of the so-called Reformation of Henry VIII. Religious toleration does not prevail to any such extent in England as in the United States and there is considerable bitterness between the various sects.
Speaking of new cathedrals, while several are being built by the Roman Catholics, only one is under construction by the Church of England—the first since the days of the Stuarts. This is at Liverpool and the foundations have barely been begun. The design for the cathedral was a competitive one selected from many submitted by the greatest architects in the world. The award was made to Gilbert Scott, a young man of only twenty-one and a grandson of the famous architect of the same name who had so much to do with the restoration of several of the cathedrals. The Liverpool church is to be the greatest in the Kingdom, even exceeding York Minster and St. Paul's in size. No attempt is made to fix the time when the building will be completed, but the work will undoubtedly occupy several generations.
In Norwich we stopped at the Maid's Head Hotel, one of the noted old-time English hostelries. It has been in business as a hotel nearly five hundred years and Queen Elizabeth was its guest while on one of her visits to the city of Norwich. Despite its antiquity, it is thoroughly up-to-date and was one of the most comfortable inns that we found anywhere. No doubt this is considerably due to a large modern addition, which has been built along the same lines as the older portion. Near the cathedral are other ancient structures among which are the two gateways, whose ruins still faintly indicate their pristine splendor of carving and intricate design. The castle, at one time a formidable fortress, has almost disappeared. "Tombland" and "Strangers' Hall" are the appellations of two of the finest half-timbered buildings that we saw. The newer portions of Norwich indicate a prosperous business town and it is supplied with an unusually good street-car system. Most of the larger English cities are badly off in this particular. York, for instance, a place of seventy-five thousand, has but one street-car line, three or four miles in length, on which antiquated horse-cars are run at irregular intervals.
PETERBOROUGH, FOTHERINGHAY, ETC
The hundred miles of road that we followed from Norwich to Peterborough has hardly the suggestion of a hill, though some of it is not up to the usual English standard. We paused midway at Dereham, whose remarkable old church is the only one we saw in England that had the bell-tower built separate from the main structure, though this same plan is followed in Chichester Cathedral. In Dereham Church is the grave of Cowper, who spent his last years in the town. The entire end of the nave is occupied by an elaborate memorial window of stained glass, depicting scenes and incidents of the poet's life and works. To the rear of the church is the open tomb of one of the Saxon princesses, and near it is a tablet reciting how this grave had been desecrated by the monks of Ely, who stole the relics and conveyed them to Ely Cathedral. Numerous miracles were claimed to have been wrought by the relics of the princess, who was famed for her piety. The supposed value of these relics was the cause of the night raid on the tomb—a practice not uncommon in the days of monkish supremacy. The bones of saint or martyr had to be guarded with pious care or they were likely to be stolen by the enterprising churchmen of some rival establishment. Shortly afterwards, it would transpire that miracles were being successfully performed by the relics in the hands of the new possessors.
Leaving the main road a detour of a few miles enabled us to visit Crowland Abbey shortly before reaching Peterborough. It is a remarkable ruin, rising out of the flat fen country, as someone has said, "like a light-house out of the sea." Its oddly shaped tower is visible for miles, and one wide arch of the nave still stands, so light and airy in its gracefulness that it seems hardly possible it is built of heavy blocks of stone. A portion of the church has been restored and is used for services, but a vast deal of work was necessary to arrest the settling of the heavy walls on their insecure foundations. The cost of the restoration must have been very great, and the people of Crowland must have something of the spirit of the old abbey builders themselves, to have financed and carried out such a work. Visitors to the church are given an opportunity to contribute to the fund—a common thing in such cases. Crowland is a gray, lonely little town in the midst of the wide fen country. The streets were literally thronged with children of all ages; no sign of race suicide in this bit of Lincolnshire. Everywhere is evidence of antiquity—there is much far older than the old abbey in Crowland. The most notable of all is the queer three-way arched stone bridge in the center of the village—a remarkable relic of Saxon times. It seems sturdy and solid despite the thousand or more years that have passed over it, and is justly counted one of the most curious antiques in the Kingdom.
It was late when we left Crowland, and before we had replaced a tire casing that, as usual, collapsed at an inopportune moment, the long English twilight had come to an end. The road to Peterborough, however, is level and straight as an arrow. The right of way was clear and all conditions gave our car opportunity to do its utmost. It was about ten o'clock when we reached the excellent station hotel in Peterborough.
Before the advent of the railroad, Peterborough, like Wells, was merely an ecclesiastical town, with little excuse for existence save its cathedral. In the last fifty years, however, the population has increased five-fold and it has become quite on important trading and manufacturing center. It is situated in the midst of the richest farm country in England and its annual wool and cattle markets are known throughout the Kingdom. The town dates from the year 870, when the first cathedral minster was built by the order of one of the British chieftains. The present magnificent structure was completed in 1237, and so far as appearance is concerned, now stands almost as it left the builder's hands. It is without tower or spire of considerable height and somewhat disappointing when viewed from the exterior. The interior is most imposing and the great church is rich in historical associations. Here is buried Catherine of Aragon, the first queen of Henry VIII, and the body of the unfortunate Queen of Scots was brought here after her execution at Fotheringhay. King James I, when he came to the throne, removed his mother's remains to Westminster Abbey, where they now rest.
Strangely enough, the builders of the cathedral did not take into consideration the yielding nature of the soil on which they reared the vast structure, and as a consequence, a few years ago the central tower of the building began to give way and cracks appeared in the vaulting and walls. Something had to be done at once, and at the cost of more than half a million dollars the tower was taken down from top to foundation, every stone being carefully marked to indicate its exact place in the walls. The foundations were carried eleven feet deeper, until they rested upon solid rock, and then each stone was replaced in its original position. Restoration is so perfect that the ordinary beholder would never know the tower had been touched. This incident gives an idea of how the cathedrals are now cared for and at what cost they are restored after ages of neglect and destruction.
Peterborough was stripped of most of its images and carvings by Cromwell's soldiers and its windows are modern and inferior. Our attention was attracted to three or four windows that looked much like the crazy-quilt work that used to be in fashion. We were informed that these were made of fragments of glass that had been discovered and patched together without any effort at design, merely to preserve them and to show the rich tones and colorings of the original windows. The most individual feature of Peterborough is the three great arches on the west, or entrance, front. These rise nearly two-thirds the height of the frontage and it is almost a hundred feet from the ground to the top of the pointed arches. The market square of Peterborough was one of the largest we had seen—another evidence of the agricultural importance of the town. Aside from the cathedral there is not much of interest, but if one could linger there is much worth seeing in the surrounding country.
The village of Fotheringhay is only nine miles to the west. The melancholy connection of this little hamlet with the Queen of Scots brings many visitors to it every year, although there are few relics of Mary and her lengthy imprisonment now remaining. Here we came the next morning after a short time on winding and rather hilly byways. It is an unimportant looking place, this sleepy little village where three hundred years ago Mary fell a victim to the machinations of her rival, Elizabeth. The most notable building now standing is the quaint inn where the judges of the unfortunate queen made their headquarters during her farcial trial. Of the gloomy castle, where the fair prisoner languished for nineteen long years, nothing remains except a shapeless mass of grass covered stone and traces of the old-time moat. Much of the stone was built into cottages of the surrounding country and in some of the mansions of the neighborhood may be found portions of the windows and a few of the ancient mantel pieces. The great oak staircase which Mary descended on the day of her execution, is built into an old inn at Oundle, not far away. Thus the great fortress was scattered to the four winds, but there is something more enduring than stone and mortar,—its memories linger and will remain so long as the story of English history is told. King James, by the destruction of the castle, endeavored to show fitting respect to the memory of his mother and no doubt hoped to wipe out the recollection of his friendly relations with Queen Elizabeth after she had caused the death of Mary.
The school children of Fotheringhay seemed quite familiar with its history and on the lookout for strangers who came to the place. Two or three of them quickly volunteered to conduct us to the site of the castle. There was nothing to see after we got there, but our small guides were thankful for the fee, which they no doubt had in mind from the first. Mournful and desolate indeed seemed the straggling little village where three centuries ago "a thousand witcheries lay felled at one stroke," one of the cruelest and most pitiful of the numberless tragedies which disfigure the history of England.
From Fotheringhay we returned to the York road and followed it northward for about twenty miles. We passed through Woolsthorpe, an unattractive little town whose distinction is that it was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton. The thatched roof farmhouse where he was born is still standing on the outskirts of the village. At Grantham, a little farther on, we stopped for lunch at the "Royal and Angel" Hotel, one of the most charming of the old-time inns. Like nearly all of these old hostelries, it has its tradition of a royal guest, having offered shelter to King Charles I when on his endless wanderings during the Parliamentary wars. It is a delightful old building, overgrown with ivy, and its diamond-paned lattice windows, set in walls of time-worn stone, give evidence to its claims to antiquity.
We had paused in Grantham on our way to Belvoir Castle, about six miles away, the seat of the Duke of Rutland. This is one of the finest as well as most strikingly situated of the great baronial residences in England. Standing on a gently rising hill, its many towers and battlements looking over the forests surrounding it, this vast pile more nearly fulfilled our ideas of feudal magnificence than any other we saw. It is famous for its picture gallery, which contains many priceless originals by Gainsborough, Reynolds and others. It has always been open to visitors every week-day, but it chanced at the time that the old duke was dangerously ill—so ill, in fact, that his death occurred a little later on—and visitors were not admitted. We were able to take the car through the great park, which affords a splendid view of the exterior of the castle.
Near by is the village of Bottisford, whose remarkable church has been the burial place of the Manners family for five hundred years and contains some of the most complete monumental effigies in England. These escaped the wrath of the Cromwellians, for the Earl of Manners was an adherent of the Protector. In the market square at Bottisford stand the old whipping-post and stocks, curious relics of the days when these instruments were a common means of satisfying justice—or what was then considered justice. They were made of solid oak timbers and had withstood the sun and rain of two or three hundred years without showing much sign of decay. Although the whipping-post and stocks used to be common things in English towns, we saw them preserved only at Bottisford.
On leaving Bottisford, our car dashed through the clear waters of a little river which runs through the town and which no doubt gave it the name. We found several instances where no attempt had been made to bridge the streams, which were still forded as in primitive times. In a short time we reached Newark, where we planned to stop for the night—but it turned out otherwise. We paused at the hotel which the guide-book honored with the distinction of being the best in the town and a courteous policeman of whom we inquired confirmed the statement. We were offered our choice of several dingy rooms, but a glance at the time-worn furnishings and unattractive beds convinced us that if this were Newark's best hotel we did not care to spend the night in Newark. To the profound disgust of the landlady—nearly all hotels in England are managed by women—we took our car from the garage and sought more congenial quarters, leaving, I fear, anything but a pleasant impression behind us. We paused a few minutes at the castle, which is the principal object of antiquity in Newark. It often figured in early history; King John died here—the best thing he ever did—and it sustained many sieges until it was finally destroyed by the Parliamentarians—pretty effectively destroyed, for there is little remaining except the walls fronting immediately on the river.
Though it was quite late, we decided to go on to Nottingham, about twenty miles farther, where we could be sure of good accommodation. It seemed easy to reach the city before dark, but one can hardly travel on schedule with a motor car—at least so long as pneumatic tires are used. An obstinate case of tire trouble just as we got outside of Newark meant a delay of an hour or more, and it was after sunset before we were again started on our journey. There is a cathedral at Southwell, and as we permitted no cathedral to escape us, we paused there for a short time. It is a great country church of very unusual architecture, elevated to the head of a diocese in 1888. The town of Southwell is a retired place of evident antiquity and will be remembered as having been the home of Lord Byron and his mother for some time during his youth. The route which we followed to Nottingham was well off the main highway—a succession of sharp turns and steep little hills that made us take rather long chances in our flight around some of the corners. But, luckily, the way was clear and we came into Nottingham without mishap, though it became so dark that we were forced to light our lamps—a thing that was necessary only two or three times during our summer's tour.
Our route south from Nottingham was over a splendid and nearly level road that passes through Leicester, one of the most up-to-date business towns in the Kingdom. I do not remember any place outside of London where streets were more congested with all kinds of traffic. The town is of great antiquity, but its landmarks have been largely wiped out by the modern progress it has made. We did not pause here, but directed our way to Lutterworth, a few miles farther, where the great reformer, John Wyclif, made his home, the famous theologian who translated the bible into English and printed it two hundred years before the time of Martin Luther. This act, together with his fearless preaching, brought him into great disfavor with the church, but owing to the protection of Edward III, who was especially friendly to him, he was able to complete his work in spite of fierce opposition. Strangely enough, considering the spirit of his time, Wyclif withstood the efforts of his enemies, lived to a good old age, and died a natural death. Twenty years afterward the Roman Church again came into power and the remains of the reformer were exhumed and burned in the public square of Lutterworth. To still further cover his memory with obloquy, the ashes were thrown into the clear, still, little river that we crossed on leaving the town. But his enemies found it too late to overthrow the work he had begun. His church, a large, massive building with a great, square-topped tower, stands today much as it did when he used to occupy the pulpit, which is the identical one from which he preached. A bas-relief in white marble by the American sculptor, Story, commemorating the work of Wyclif, has been placed in the church at a cost of more than ten thousand dollars, and just outside a tall granite obelisk has been erected in his honor. In cleaning the walls recently, it was discovered that under several coats of paint there were some remarkable frescoes which, being slowly uncovered, were found to represent scenes in the life of the great preacher himself.
Leaving Lutterworth, we planned to reach Cambridge for the night. On the way we passed through Northampton, a city of one hundred thousand and a manufacturing place of importance. It is known in history as having been the seat of Parliament in the earlier days. A detour of a few miles from the main road leaving Northampton brought us to Olney, which for twenty years was the home of William Cowper. His house is still standing and has been turned into a museum of relics of the poet, such as rare editions of his books and original manuscripts. The town is a quiet, sleepy-looking place, situated among the Buckinghamshire hills. It is still known as a literary center and a number of more or less noted English authors live there at the present time.
Bedford, only a few miles farther on the Cambridge road, was one of the best-appearing English towns of the size we had seen anywhere—with handsome residences and fine business buildings. It is more on the plan of American towns, for its buildings are not ranged along a single street as is the rule in England. It is best known from its connection with the immortal dreamer, John Bunyan, whose memory it now delights to honor. Far different was it in his lifetime, for he was confined for many years in Bedford Jail and it was during this imprisonment that he wrote his "Pilgrim's Progress." At Elstow, a mile from Bedford, we saw his cottage, a mean-looking little hut with only two rooms. The tenants were glad to admit visitors as probable customers for postcards and photographs. The bare monotony of the place was relieved not a little by the flowers which crowded closely around it.
Cambridge is about twenty miles from Bedford, and we did not reach it until after dark. It was Week-End holiday, and we found the main street packed with pedestrians, through whom we had to carefully thread our way for a considerable distance before we came to the University Arms. We found this hotel one of the most comfortable and best kept of those whose hospitality we enjoyed during our tour.
Cambridge is distinctly a university town. One who has visited Oxford and gone the rounds will hardly care to make a like tour of Cambridge unless he is especially interested in English college affairs. It does not equal Oxford, either in importance of colleges or number of students. It is a beautiful place, lying on a river with long stretches of still water where the students practice rowing and where the famous boat races are held.
Cambridge is rich in traditions, as any university might be that numbered Oliver Cromwell among its students. Its present atmosphere and influences, as well as those of Oxford, are vastly different from those of the average American school of similar rank; nor do I think that the practical results attained are comparable to those of our own colleges. The Rhodes scholarship, so eagerly sought after in America, is not, in my estimation, of the value that many are inclined to put upon it. Aside from the fact that caste relegates the winners almost to the level of charity students—and they told us in Oxford that this is literally true—it seems to me that the most serious result may be that the student is likely to get out of touch with American institutions and American ways of doing things.
THE CROMWELL COUNTRY. COLCHESTER.
A distinguished observer, Prof. Goldwin Smith, expressed it forcibly when he said that the epitaph of nearly every ruined castle in Britain might be written, "Destroyed by Cromwell." It takes a tour such as ours to gain something of a correct conception of the gigantic figure of Oliver Cromwell in English history. The magnitude and the far-reaching results of his work are coming to be more and more appreciated by the English people. For a time he was considered a traitor and regicide, but with increasing enlightenment and toleration, his real work for human liberty is being recognized by the great majority of his countrymen. It was only as far back as 1890 that Parliament voted down a proposition to place a statue of Cromwell on the grounds of the House of Commons; but two years later sentiment had advanced so much that justice was done to the memory of the great Protector and a colossal bronze figure was authorized and erected. I know of no more impressive sight in all England than this great statue, standing in solitary grandeur near the Houses of Parliament, representing Cromwell with sword and bible, and with an enormous lion crouching at his feet. It divides honor with no other monument in its vicinity and it seems to stand as a warning to kingcraft that it must observe well defined limitations if it continues in Britain. I saw several other statues of Cromwell, notably at Manchester, Warrington and at St. Ives.
An incident illustrating the sentiment with which the Protector is now regarded by the common people came under my own observation. With a number of other sightseers, we were visiting Warwick Castle and were being shown some of the portraits and relics relating to Cromwell, when the question was raised by someone in the party as to his position in English history. A young fellow, apparently an aspirant for church honors, expressed the opinion that Cromwell was a traitor and the murderer of his king. He was promptly taken to task by the old soldier who was acting as our guide through the castle. He said, "Sir, I can not agree with you. I think we are all better off today that there was such a man as Cromwell."
That appears to be the general sentiment of the people of Great Britain, and the feeling is rapidly growing that he was distinctly the defender of the people's rights. True, he destroyed many of the historic castles, but such destruction was a military necessity. These fortresses, almost without exception, were held by supporters of King Charles, who used them as bases of operation against the Parliamentary Army. If not destroyed when captured, they were re-occupied by the Royalists and the work had to be done over again. Therefore Cromwell wisely dismantled the strongholds when they came into his possession, and generally he did his work so well that restoration was not possible, even after the Royalists regained power. The few splendid examples which escaped his wrath—notably Warwick Castle—fortunately happened at the time to be in possession of adherents of Parliament. The damage Cromwell inflicted upon the churches was usually limited to destruction of stone images, tombs and altars, as savoring of idolatry. This spirit even extended to the destruction of priceless stained-glass windows, the loss of which we can not too greatly deplore, especially since the very art of making this beautiful glass seems to be a lost one.
At Cambridge we were within easy reach of the scenes of the Protector's early life. He was born in 1599 at Huntingdon, sixteen miles distant, and was twenty years a citizen of St. Ives, only a few miles away. He was a student at Cambridge and for several years was a farmer near Ely, being a tenant on the cathedral lands. As Ely is only fifteen miles north of Cambridge, it occurred to us to attend services at the cathedral there on Sunday morning. We followed a splendid road leading through a beautiful country, rich with fields of grain almost ready for harvest.
The cathedral is one of the largest and most remarkable in England, being altogether different in architecture from any other in the Kingdom. Instead of a spire, it has a huge, castellated, octagonal tower, and while it was several hundred years in building, a harmonious design was maintained throughout, although it exhibits in some degree almost every style of church architecture known in England. Ely is an inconsequential town of about seven thousand inhabitants and dominated from every point of view by the huge bulk of the cathedral. Only a portion of the space inside the vast building was occupied by seats, and though the great church would hold many thousands of people if filled to its capacity, the congregation was below the average that might be found in the leading churches of an American town the size of Ely. One of the cathedral officials with whom I had a short talk said that the congregations averaged small indeed and were growing smaller right along. The outlook for Ely he did not consider good, a movement being on foot to cut another diocese from the territory and to make a cathedral, probably of the great church, at Bury St. Edmunds. In recent years this policy of creating new dioceses has been in considerable vogue in England, and of course is distasteful to the sections immediately affected. The services in Ely Cathedral were simpler than usual and were through well before noon.
Before returning to Cambridge we visited St. Ives and Huntingdon, both of which were closely associated with the life of Cromwell. The former is a place of considerable antiquity, although the present town may be said to date from 1689, at which time it was rebuilt after being totally destroyed by fire. One building escaped, a quaint stone structure erected in the center of the stone bridge crossing the River Ouse and supposed to have been used as a chapel by the early monks. Cromwell's connection with St. Ives began in 1628, after he had been elected to Parliament. He moved here after the dissolution of that body and spent several years as a farmer. The house which he occupied has disappeared and few relics remain of his residence in the town. In the market square is a bronze statue of the Protector, with an inscription to the effect that he was a citizen of St. Ives for several years. A few miles farther on is Huntingdon, his birthplace. It is a considerably larger town, but none of the buildings now standing has any connection with the life of the Protector. Doubtless the citizens of Huntingdon now recognize that the manor house where Cromwell was born, which was pulled down a hundred years ago, would be a valuable asset to the town were it still standing.
From Huntingdon we returned to Cambridge, having completed a circular tour of about sixty miles. We still had plenty of time to drive about Cambridge and to view from the outside the colleges and other places of interest. The streets are laid out in an irregular manner, and although it is not a large city—only forty thousand—we had considerable difficulty in finding our way back to the hotel. The University Arms is situated on the edge of a large common called "The Field." Here in the evening were several open-air religious services. One of these was conducted by the Wesleyans, or Methodists, with a large crowd at the beginning, but a Salvation Army, with several band instruments, soon attracted the greater portion of the crowd. We found these open-air services held in many towns through England and Scotland. They were always conducted by "dissenting churches"—the Church of England would consider such a proceeding as too undignified.
We wished to get an early start from Cambridge next morning, hoping to reach London that night, and accordingly made arrangements with the head waiter for an early breakfast. We told him we should probably want it at 7:30, and he looked at us in an incredulous manner. I repeated the hour, thinking he did not understand, but he said he thought at first we were surely joking. However, he would endeavor to accommodate us. If we would leave our order that evening he thought he could arrange it at the time desired, but we could easily see that it was going to upset the traditions of the staid hotel, for the breakfast hour is never earlier than nine o'clock. However, we had breakfast at 7:30 and found one other guest in the room—undoubtedly an American. He requested a newspaper and was informed that the morning papers were not received at the hotel until half past ten o'clock, although Cambridge is just fifty miles from London, or about an hour by train. The curiosity which the average American manifests to know what happened on the day previous is almost wanting in the staid and less excitable Britisher.
We were away from Cambridge by nine o'clock and soon found ourselves in a country quite different in appearance from any we had yet passed through. Our route led through Essex to Colchester on the coast. We passed through several ancient towns, the first of them being Haverhill, which contributed a goodly number of the Pilgrim Fathers and gave its name to the town of Haverhill in Massachusetts. It is an old, straggling place that seems to be little in harmony with the progress of the Twentieth Century.
Our route on leaving Haverhill led through narrow byways, which wind among the hills with turns so sharp that a close lookout had to be maintained. We paused at Heddingham, where there is a great church and a partly ruined Norman castle. The town is made up largely of cottages with thatched roofs, surrounded by the bright English flower gardens. It was typical of several other places which we passed on our way. I think that in no section of England did we find a greater number of picturesque churches than in Essex, and a collection of photographs of these, which was secured at Earl's Colne, we prize very highly.
Colchester is an interesting town, deserving of much longer time than we were able to stay. It derived its name from King Cole, the "merry old soul" of the familiar nursery rhyme. It is one of the oldest towns in England and was of great importance in Roman times. One of the largest collections of Roman relics in Britain is to be found in the museum of the castle. There are hundreds of specimens of coin, pottery, jewelry, statuary, etc., all of which were found in excavations within the city. The castle is one of the gloomiest and rudest in the Kingdom, and was largely built of Roman bricks. It is quadrangular in shape, with high walls from twenty to thirty feet thick surrounding a small court. About a hundred years ago it was sold to a contractor who planned to tear it down for the material, but after half completing his task he gave it up, leaving enough of the old fortress to give a good idea of what it was like.
The grim old ruin has many dark traditions of the times when "man's inhumanity to man" was the rule rather than the exception. Even the mild, nonresistant Quaker could not escape the bitterest persecution and in one of the dungeons of Colchester Castle young George Fox was immured and suffered death from neglect and starvation. This especially attracted our attention, since the story had been pathetically told by the speaker at the Sunday afternoon meeting which we attended at Jordans and which I refer to in the following chapter. While there is a certain feeling of melancholy that possesses one when he wanders through these mouldering ruins, yet he often can not help thinking that they deserved their fate.
Colchester suffered terribly in Parliamentary wars and only surrendered to Cromwell after sustaining a seventy-six day siege, many traces of which may still be seen. There are two or three ancient churches dating from Saxon times which exhibit some remarkable specimens of Saxon architecture. Parts of Colchester appeared quite modern and up-to-date, the streets being beautifully kept, and there were many handsome residences. Altogether, there is a strange combination of the very old and the modern in Colchester.
We left this highway at Chelmsford to visit the Greenstead Church near Chipping-Ongar, about twenty-two miles from London. This is one of the most curious churches in all England. It is a diminutive building, half hidden amidst the profusion of foliage, and would hardly attract attention unless one had learned of its unique construction and remarkable history. It is said to be the only church in England which is built with wooden walls, these being made from the trunks of large oak trees split down the center and roughly sharpened at each end. They are raised from the ground by a low brick foundation, and inside the spaces between the trunks are covered with pieces of wood. The rough timber frame of the roof is fastened with wooden pins. The interior of the building is quite dark, there being no windows in the wooden walls, and the light comes in from a dormer window in the roof. This church was built in the year 1010 to mark the resting place of St. Edmund the Martyr, whose remains were being carried from Bury to London. The town of Ongar, near by, once had an extensive castle, of which little remains, and in the chancel of the church is the grave of Oliver Cromwell's favorite daughter. A house in High Street was for some time the residence of David Livingstone, the great African explorer.
From Chipping-Ongar we followed for the third time the delightful road leading to London, passing through the village of Chigwell, of which I have spoken at length elsewhere. On coming into London, we found the streets in a condition of chaos, owing to repairs in the pavement. The direct road was quite impassable and we were compelled to get into the city through by-streets—not an easy task. In London the streets do not run parallel as in many of our American cities. No end of inquiry was necessary to get over the ten miles after we were in the city before we reached our hotel. It was not very convenient to make inquiries, either, when driving in streets crowded to the limit where our car could not halt for an instant without stopping the entire procession. We would often get into a pocket behind a slow-moving truck or street car and be compelled to crawl along for several blocks at the slowest speed.
It was just sunset when we stopped in front of the Hotel Russell. We had been absent on our tour six weeks to a day and our odometer registered exactly 3070 miles. As there were five or six days of the time that we did not travel, we had averaged about six hundred miles a week during the tour. The weather had been unusually fine for England; we had perhaps half a dozen rainy days, but only once did it rain heavily. We had now traveled a total of 4100 miles and had visited the main points of interest in the Kingdom excepting those in the country south of the city, where we planned a short tour before sailing. We remained in London a week before starting on this trip, but during that time I did not take the car out of the garage. I had come to the conclusion that outside of Sundays and holidays the nervous strain of attempting to drive an automobile in the streets of London was such as to make the effort not worth while.
THE HAUNTS OF MILTON AND PENN
Leaving London by the Harrow road, in course of an hour we came to the famous college town, which lies about fifteen miles north of the city. It is known chiefly for its boys' school, which was founded early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and at which many great Englishmen received their early education. The school is situated on the top of a hill, one of the most commanding positions in the vicinity of London, and on the very summit is the Norman church. The view from this churchyard is one of the finest in England. For many miles the fertile valley of the Thames spreads out like a great park, exhibiting the most pleasing characteristics of an English landscape. On one side the descent is almost precipitous, and at the edge, in the churchyard, stands a gigantic elm—now in the late stages of decay—which still bears the sobriquet of "Byron's Elm." It is said that Byron, during his days at Harrow, would sit here for hours at a time and contemplate the beautiful scene which spread out before him. A descendant of one of the poet's friends has placed near the spot a brass tablet, inscribed with the somewhat stilted lines, On a Distant view From Harrow Churchyard,
"Spot of my youth, whose hoary branches sigh, Swept by the breeze that fans the cloudless sky; O! as I trace again thy winding hill, Mine eyes admire, my heart adores thee still. Thou drooping elm! Beneath whose boughs I lay, And frequent mused the twilight hours away; How do thy branches, moaning to the blast, Invite this bosom to recall the past, And seem to whisper, as they gently swell, 'Take, while thou canst, a lingering, last farewell'"
We reached Harrow too late to attend church as we had hoped, the morning services just closing as we entered the churchyard. We saw everywhere numbers of students in Sunday garb, and an odd appearance these boys of from fifteen to eighteen presented in a costume very nearly the counterpart of an ordinary dress suit, usually set off by a high silk hat. Harrow is associated with the names of many men who attained high rank in English history and literature, some of whom strove in their boyhood days to anticipate immortality by carving their names on the wooden desks. Among these may still be seen the rudely cut letters of the names of Byron, Sheridan and Peele.
The town, which slopes away from the top of the hill, has an up-to-date appearance and is a favorite place for suburban residences of wealthy Londoners. The road leading down the hill from the church turned sharply out of view, and just as we were beginning the descent a gentleman hastened to us and cautioned us not to undertake it. He said that numerous motors had been wrecked in the attempt. We went down by a roundabout way, but when we came to pass the hill at its foot, we found it was not nearly so steep as some we had already passed over.
Two or three hours over narrow and generally bad roads for England brought us to the village of Chalfont St. Giles, where John Milton made his residence while writing "Paradise Lost." It is a retired little place, mere lanes leading into it. The shriek of the railroad train does not disturb its quietude, the nearest station being several miles away. The village doubtless appears much as it did in Milton's time, three hundred years ago, and the cottage which he occupied stands practically unaltered. A notice posted outside stated that the cottage would not be shown on Sunday. But such announcements had little terror for us by this time, and we found no difficulty in gaining admittance to the quaint little building. It is in the Elizabethan style, with half-timber frame and sagging tile roof. The windows have small, diamond-shaped panes of leaded glass set in rude iron frames and open on a typical English flower garden. The villagers purchased the cottage by public subscription and its preservation is thus fortunately insured. The tenant acts as caretaker and apparently takes pride in keeping the place in order. The poet's room, directly on the right when entering, is rather dark, and has a low-beamed ceiling. There is a wide fireplace with the old time appliances accompanying it, and one can imagine the blind poet sitting by his fireside on winter days or enjoying the sweetness that in summertime came through the antique windows from the flower garden. Here he dictated "Paradise Lost" to his daughter, who acted as his secretary. One can not help contrasting the unsurpassed majesty and dignity of the great poem with the humble and even rude surroundings of the cottage. Milton came here in 1665 to escape the plague which was then devastating London. His eldest daughter was at that time about seventeen years of age, and there is reason to believe that she was with him during his stay in St. Giles. We were delighted with the place, for we had seen little else more typical of old-time England than this cottage, which would have been worth seeing aside from its connection with the great epic poet. In front was the garden, a blaze of bright colors, and the walls were half hidden by climbing rose-vines in full boom—for the roses in England stay much later in the summer than they do with us. The entrance to the cottage fronts on the garden. There is no door next the street, the great chimney built on the outside leaving no room for one.
We were now in the vicinity where William Penn was born and where he lies buried. We had some trouble in finding Jordans, the little meeting-house near which is the grave of the Quaker philanthropist. Many of the people of whom we inquired did not know of its existence, and after considerable wandering through the byways we learned that we were within a mile of the place. For this distance we followed a shady lane, over-arched by trees and so ill kept that it was about as rough motoring as one will find in England. Directly at the foot of a steep hill we came upon the meeting-house, nestling in a wooded valley. It had in its plain simplicity the appearance of an ordinary cottage; with the Quakers there in no such thing as a church, for they prefer to call their places of worship simply "meeting-houses." We were surprised to find a number of people about the chapel and soon learned that we had the good fortune to arrive on one of the meeting days. These meetings had for years been held annually, but during the present summer they were being held once a month. As the Friends are not numerous in this vicinity, many of the congregation had come from long distances—some from London. We learned this in conversation with a sweet-faced, quiet-mannered lady who had all the Quaker characteristics. She said that she and her husband had come from London that day, most of the way on their cycles; that they had been in Philadelphia and knew something of America. She presented us to a benevolent-looking, white-bearded man who afterwards proved to be the leader of the meeting, simply saying, "Our friends are from Iowa." The old gentleman pressed us to remain, as the meeting would begin immediately, and we were delighted to acquiesce. There were about forty people gathered in the little room, which was not more than fifteen by twenty feet in size and supplied with the plainest straight-backed benches imaginable. It was a genuine Quaker meeting. For perhaps half an hour the congregation sat in perfect silence, and finally the old gentleman who acted as leader arose and explained—largely for our benefit, I think, as we were the only strangers present—that this was the Quaker method of worship. Unless a member of the congregation felt he had something really worth saying, he waited to speak only "as the Spirit moved him." I could not help thinking that I had been in many meetings where, if this rule had been followed, everybody would have been better off. However, in the course of a few minutes he arose again and began his talk. We had attended many services in England at noted churches and cathedrals, but for genuine Christianity, true brotherly love and real inspiration, I think the half hour talk of the old Quaker was worth them all. We agreed that it was one of our most fortunate experiences.
In the churchyard we stood before the grave of William Penn, marked by the plainest kind of a small headstone and identical with the few others beside it. We expressed wonder at this, but the lady with whom we had previously talked explained that it would be inharmonious with the Quaker idea to erect a splendid monument to any man. For many years the graves had not been marked at all, but finally it was decided that it would not be inappropriate to put up plain headstones, all of the same style, to let visitors know where the great Quaker and his family rest. And very simple were the inscriptions chiseled upon the stones. All around the meeting-house is a forest of great trees, and no other building is in the immediate vicinity. One might almost have imagined himself at a Quaker service in pioneer times in America, when the meeting-houses were really as remote and secluded as this one seemed, rather than within twenty miles of the world's metropolis, in a country teeming with towns and villages.
It was about three o'clock when we left Jordans with a view of reaching Oxford, still a good many miles away, by nightfall. In this vicinity are the Burnham beeches, made known almost everywhere by the camera and the brush of the artist. A byway runs directly among the magnificent trees, which we found as imposing as the pictures had represented—sprawling old trees, many feet in circumference, but none of very great height. Near by is Stoke-Poges church, whose memory is kept alive by the "Elegy" of the poet Gray. It is one of the best known of the English country churches and is visited annually by thousands of people. The poet and his relatives are buried in the churchyard and the yew tree under which he is said to have meditated upon the theme of the immortal poem is still standing, green and thriving. The church, half covered by ivy and standing against a background of fine trees, presents a beautiful picture. In the immediate neighborhood a monument has been raised in memory of Gray—a huge bulk of stone of inartistic and unpleasing design. The most appropriate monument of the poet is the church itself, with its yew tree, which is now known wherever the English language is spoken.
Two or three miles farther on is Windsor, with its castle, the principal residence of royalty, and Eton College, its well known school for boys. This school is more exclusive and better patronized than Harrow, and I was told that it is quite a difficult problem for the average youth to enter at all. The sons of the nobility and members of the royal family are given the preference and expenses are so high as to shut out all but the wealthy. Windsor Castle is the most imposing of its kind in the world. It is situated on the Thames River, about twenty miles from London. Crowning a gently rising hill, its massive towers and battlements afford a picturesque view from almost anywhere in the surrounding country and especially from points of vantage in the park, where one can catch glimpses of the fortress through some of the avenues of magnificent trees. On a clear day, when the towers of the castle are sharply outlined against the sky and surmounted by the brightly colored royal standards, one might easily imagine himself back in the good old days of knight-errantry. Windsor is shown to visitors at any time when the royal family is not in residence. Queen Victoria and Albert, the Prince Consort, are buried in Frogmore Park, near by, but the tombs are sacredly guarded from the public. The grounds surrounding the castle are laid out in flower gardens and parks, and the forest of more than seven thousand acres is the finest in England. It is one of the royal preserves where the king occasionally goes hunting, but it really serves more the purpose of a great public park. There are many splendid drives through the forest open to everybody, the main one leading straight away from the castle gates for about four miles and terminating at an equestrian statue of George the Third, of more or less happy memory.
A broad road leads from Windsor to Oxford; it is almost straight and without hills of consequence. It is a favorite route for motorists, and at several points were stationed bicycle couriers of the Motor Union to give warning for police traps. These guards patrolled the road and carried circular badges, red on one side and white on the other. If the white side were shown to the passing motorist, the road ahead was clear; but the red was a caution for moderate speed for several miles. This system, which we found in operation in many places, is the means of saving motor drivers from numerous fines. The bicycle courier receives a fee very thankfully and no doubt this constitutes his chief source of revenue for service rendered.
About ten miles from Oxford we passed through Henley-on-Thames, famed for the University rowing-matches. Here the river lies in broad still stretches that afford an ideal place for the contests. The Thames is navigable for small steamboats and houseboats from London to Oxford, a distance of sixty miles, and the shores of the stream throughout afford scenes of surpassing beauty. Just at sunset the towers of Oxford loomed in the distance, and it was easy to recognize that of Magdalen College, which rises to a height of two hundred feet. Though Oxford is one of the older of the English towns, parts of it seemed as up-to-date as any we had seen, and the Randolph Hotel compared favorably with the best we found anywhere.
The time which a tourist will devote to Oxford will depend upon his point of view. To visit the forty-four colleges in detail and to give any time to each would manifestly require several days—if not weeks—and especially would this be true if one were interested to any extent in student life in the University. Manifestly, people touring England in a motor car do not belong to the class described. In order to get the most out of the trip, there is a constant necessity for moving on. By an economical use of time, one may gain a fair idea of Oxford in a few hours. This was what we had done on a previous trip and consequently we spent little time in the city on our second visit, merely remaining over night. I think the method we pursued would be the most practical for anyone who desires to reach the most interesting points of the town in the shortest time. We engaged an experienced hack-driver, who combined with his vocation the qualities of a well informed guide as well. We told him of our limited time and asked him to make the most of it by taking us about the universities, stopping at such as would give us the best idea of the schools and of university life. He did this to our satisfaction, and as we passed the various institutions his comments gave us a general idea of each. He stopped at some of the more noted colleges, where we often found guides who conducted us about the buildings and grounds. Perhaps Magdalen College is as interesting as any. Its fine quadrangular tower is one of the landmarks of the city, and they will tell you of the quaint custom that has prevailed for many centuries of celebrating May Day morning with music from the top of the tower by a choir of boys. Magdalen has its park and gardens, and Addison's Walk—a pathway extending for considerable distance between an avenue of fine trees beside a clear little river—is reputed to have been a haunt of the great essayist when a student at the University. Next to Magdalen, the most celebrated colleges are New College, Christ Church and Merton. At the first of these Cecil Rhodes was a student, and the great promoter must have had a warm feeling for the University, since his bequest has thrown open the various colleges to more than a hundred students from all parts of the world, but principally from the United States. Practically all of the students have their quarters in connection with the colleges and meals are served in public dining rooms.
Aside from its colleges, there is much else of interest in and about Oxford. The castle, of which there are scant remains, is one of the very oldest in England and has a varied and often stirring history. During the Parliamentary War, Oxford was one of the strongholds of the king and underwent many sieges from Cromwell's army—which was responsible for the final destruction of the castle. As a seat of learning, the town dates from the time of Alfred, who was born at Wantage, only twenty miles away. Naturally, Oxford was always prominent in ecclesiastical affairs and during the reign of Mary the three bishops of the English church suffered martyrdom there. In one of the public places of the city stands a tall Gothic monument commemorating the services of these men and incidentally putting severe strictures on the "errors" of the Roman church. The language in which this latter clause is stated caused a storm of protest when the monument was erected, but it had no more effect than did the protest against the iron-clad, anti-Catholic coronation oath of the king. The Bodleian Library, located in Oxford, is the greatest in England, with the exception of the library of the British Museum.
A CHAPTER OF DIVERS PLACES AND EXPERIENCES
Ten miles north of Oxford is Woodstock, near which is Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. This great estate and imposing mansion was presented by Act of Parliament to the first Duke of Marlborough in recognition of the victory which he won over the French at Blenheim. The architect who prepared the plans for the great structure was the famous Sir John Vanbrugh, who was so noted for the generally low heavy effect of his creations. While he was still alive a wit proposed a satirical epitaph in the couplet,
"Lie heavy on him, Earth, for he Laid many a heavy load on thee."
So enormous was the cost of the palace and estate that the half million pounds sterling voted by parliament was not sufficient and more than sixty thousand pounds of the great Duke's private fortune went into it as well. In his fondness for state and display, he was quite the opposite of the other great national hero, the Duke of Wellington, who was satisfied with the greatest simplicity and preferred cash to expensive palaces and great estates. As a consequence, the Dukes of Marlborough have been land-poor for several generations and until recently Blenheim Palace seemed in a fair way to be added to the already long list of ruins in Britain. Something has lately been done in the way of repair and restoration, but there are many evidences of decay still apparent.
Blenheim Palace has been shorn of many of its treasures, among them the great Sunderland Library of 80,000 volumes, sold at auction some years ago. Many valuable objects of art still remain, especially family portraits by nearly every great artist from Gainsborough to Sargent, and there is much fine statuary. The tapestries, in the state rooms, illustrating the achievements of the first Duke, are especially remarkable and were made in Belgium under his directions. But from the English view-point, no doubt the original documents pertaining to the Duke are most notable; among these is the modest note which he addressed to Queen Anne from Blenheim, announcing his "famous victory."
The park is one of the largest in England, but it showed many evidences of neglect and slovenly care. Some of the worst looking cattle I saw in England obstructed the ornamental stone bridge that crosses the stream flowing into a large artificial lake within the park. The driveways were not kept in the perfect manner that is characteristic of the English private park. Despite these evidences of neglect, the beauty of the place was little impaired. There are some of the finest oak trees in England and down by the lake are groups of magnificent cedars through whose branches the bright water shimmered in the sunshine. As we circled about the park, the distant views of the palace well bore out its reputation of being one of the stateliest private homes in the Kingdom. Our guide pointed out the spot where once stood the manor-house of Woodstock, torn down about a hundred years ago. In this house Princess Elizabeth was held a prisoner for a time by her sister, Queen Mary, but it is best known from the story of Walter Scott, who located here the principal scenes of "Woodstock."
The town of Woodstock has a long line of traditions, but shows little evidence of modern progress. It is a quiet, old-world little place with clean streets and many fine trees. Tradition asserts that the father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer, was born here and the old house, alleged to be his birthplace, still stands in Park Street. However, the poet himself declares that London was his native city and the confiding tourist is left with the necessity of balancing the poet's own assertion on this important point against that of the Woodstock guide books. In any event, Chaucer certainly lived in Woodstock—very likely in the house assigned to him today. The town was also a residence of the Saxon kings, and here are many legends of Henry II and Fair Rosamond. Perhaps its most distinguished resident, however, was Oliver Cromwell, who put up at an inn, now a private house, while his army battered down the old palace as described by Scott.
We returned from Woodstock to Oxford and from there directed our course to Wantage, the birthplace of King Alfred the Great and, I might incidentally remark, at that time the residence of a well known expatriated New York City politician. This latter distinction did not occur to us until after we had left the town, and therefore we failed to make inquiries as to how this gentleman was regarded by his fellow-citizens of Oxfordshire. In this connection, soon afterwards I saw an amusing report in the newspapers stating that a libel suit had been brought against a British magazine for having published an article in which the ex-boss was spoken of in an uncomplimentary manner. The report stated that the case had been settled, the magazine editor paying the legal costs and retracting what he had said, as well as publishing an apology for the attack. Here we have an example of the British idea of the sacredness of private character. This politician while in America was almost daily accused by the newspapers of every crime in the calendar and never thought it worth while to enter a denial. No sooner is he fairly established in England than he brings suit against a magazine whose charges appear to have been of the mildest character. One seldom sees in English newspapers the violent attacks on individuals and the severe denunciations of public men so common in American journals. If the editor forgets himself, as in the case cited, suit for libel is sure to be brought and often proves a serious thing. While this to some extent may obstruct the freedom of the press, it is nevertheless a relief to miss the disgraceful and unwarranted attacks on public men that continually fill the columns of many American newspapers.
The road from Oxford to Wantage is a splendid one, running through a beautiful country and bordered much of the way with ancient trees. Wantage is a quiet town, lying at the foot of the hills, and is chiefly noted as the birthplace of the great Saxon king. A granite statute of Alfred stands in the market square, representing the king with the charter of English liberties in one hand and a battle-ax in the other. As he was born more than a thousand years ago, there are no buildings now standing that were connected with his history. The church is probably the oldest building—a fine example of early English architecture. Near it is buried the wife of Whittington, "Lord Mayor of Londontown." Dr. Butler, the theologian and author of "The Analogy," was born in the town and this house is still to be seen.
Leaving Wantage, the road to Reading runs along the crest of the hills, and on either side from the breezy uplands, the green fields, dashed with the gold of the ripening harvest, stretched away for many miles. This was one of the few spots in England where the view was unobstructed by fences of any kind, and while the average English hedge-row is not unpleasing, the beauty of the landscape in this instance certainly did not suffer by its absence. From Kingston-on-Thames, the perfectly kept road closely follows the river. Reading has a population of about one hundred and twenty thousand and is a place of considerable business activity. Though the city has a history stretching back to ancient times, most of the evidences of antiquity have disappeared in modern progress. It was chosen as the seat of Elizabeth's parliament when the plague was devastating London. Fragments of the old abbey hall in which this parliament met still remain and the gateway was restored a few years ago. Reading offered a stout resistance to the Commonwealth and suffered severely at Cromwell's hands. Its chief industries today are biscuit making and seed farming, which give employment to ten thousand people.
From Reading, a few miles through byways brought us to Eversley, a retired village five miles from a railway station, where the church and rectory of Charles Kingsley may be seen. The church is picturesquely situated on the hillside, with an avenue of fine yew trees leading from the gate to the door. The building has been altered a good deal since Kingsley was rector, but the pulpit from which he preached is practically the same. The rectory, which is directly by the church, is a very old building, though it has been modernized on the side fronting the road. It stands in the midst of a group of Scotch firs which were great favorites with Kingsley. Their branches almost touch the earth, while their huge trunks form a strong contrast with the dense green of the foliage. Kingsley and his wife are buried in the churchyard on the side nearest the firs. The graves are marked by a simple Runic cross in white marble bearing the names, the date, and the legend, "God is Love." Eversley and its surroundings are thoroughly typical of rural England. A quieter and more retired little place could hardly be imagined. One wonders why the great novelist and preacher spent so many years of his life here. It may have been that the seclusion was not a little conducive to his successful literary labors.
Thirty miles farther over main-traveled highways brought us for a second time to Winchester. Here we stopped for the night after an unusually long run. An early start soon brought us to Southampton, which is known everywhere as a port of arrival and departure of great merchant steamers and which, aside from its commercial importance, is one of the most ancient and interesting cities in the Kingdom. The most notable relic is a portion of the Saxon wall, the part known as the "Arcade," built in a series of arches, being the most remarkable. Close by, in a little street called Blue Anchor Lane, is a house reputed to have been the palace of King John and said to be the oldest in England, although several others contest that distinction. At the head of Blue Anchor Lane is a picturesque Tudor house, once the residence of Henry VIII and his queen, Anne Boleyn. This is open to visitors and we were shown every part of the house by the tenant, who is also custodian. With all its magnificence of carved oak and wide fireplaces, it must have been a comfortless dwelling measured by more modern ideas.
Leaving the city, we crossed Southampton Water on a steam ferry which was guided by a chain stretched from bank to bank. Two or three miles to the southward lies Netley, a small village with the remains of an abbey dating from the reign of Henry I. The road to Netley followed the shore closely, but on nearing the village suddenly entered an avenue of fine trees which so effectually concealed the ruin that we stopped directly opposite the abbey to inquire its whereabouts. Leaving the car standing in the road, we spent a quarter of an hour wandering about the ruin and trying to locate the various apartments from a hand-book. The custodian here did not act as a guide, and we were left to figure out for ourselves the intricacies of nave, refectory, cloister, etc. Only the ivy-covered walls of the building are now standing, but these are in an unusual state of completeness. The chapel or church was cruciform in shape and built in the early English style. The walls of the west end have practically disappeared, but the great east window is fairly well preserved and its most remarkable feature is its two beautifully proportioned lights, the stone tracery of which remains almost intact. A legend in connection with this abbey no doubt grew out of the desire of some of the people to prevent the destruction of the beautiful building. After the abbey had been dismantled, the church was sold to a contractor, who proceeded to tear it down for the material. He was warned in a dream by the appearance of a monk not to proceed with the work, but disregarded the warning and was killed by the falling of a portion of the wall. If incidents of this kind had happened more frequently England would no doubt be richer in historic buildings.
We were preparing to leave Netley when a man in plain clothes approached us, and civilly touching his hat, inquired if I were the owner of the motor car. I confessed that I was and he stated he was an officer and regretted that he would have to report me to the police captain for leaving the car standing on a public walk. I had inadvertantly left the machine so that it partially obstructed the narrow gravel walk alongside the road, and some of the citizens had no doubt complained to the officer. We were naturally enough much chagrined, not knowing how much inconvenience and delay this incident might cause. The constable took my name and the number of the car and said I could report the circumstance myself to the captain of the police. I desired him to accompany me to call on this dignitary, but he did not seem at all anxious for the job.
This is the general procedure in England. An arrest is very seldom made in a case of this kind. The officer simply takes the name and number and the motorist can call on the proper official himself. The police system is so perfect that it would be quite useless to attempt to run away, as would happen if such a system were pursued in this country. If, in the judgment of the police official, the case should come to trial, a summons is served on the offender and the date is set. This is what I feared might happen in this case, and as it was within a week of our sailing time, I could imagine that it might cause a great deal of inconvenience.
I found the police captain's office in a neatly kept public building with a flower garden in front of it. I put the case to the captain, and after he had learned all the particulars he hastened to assure me that he would waive prosecution of the offense. He said some of the people in Netley were prejudiced against motors and no doubt were annoyed by the numerous tourists who came there to visit the abbey. Thus all the difficulties I had conjured up faded away and I had a pleasant conversation with the captain, who was a thorough gentleman. He said that the motor car was detested by many people, and no doubt with reason in some cases; but it had come to stay and forbearance and common sense were needed on part of motorist and the public generally. Much of the trouble, he stated, is due to reckless motorists who disregard the rights of other people. The week previous they had considerable difficulty in his district with an American who drove his car recklessly and defied regulations, and it was such performances that were responsible for the prejudice against the motor. This incident was my only personal experience with the British police in official capacity, barring a friendly admonition or two in London when I managed to get on the right side of the road—which is literally the wrong side in Britain.