Lichfield has five steeples grouped together in most views of the town from the Vale of Trent, the other two steeples belonging to St. Mary's and St. Michael's churches; the churchyard of the latter is probably the largest in England, covering seven acres, through which an avenue of stately elms leads up to the church. The town has not much else in the way of buildings that is remarkable. In a plain house at a corner of the market-place, where lived one Michael Johnson, a bookseller, Dr. Samuel Johnson, his son, was born in 1709. and in the adjacent market-place is Dr. Johnson's statue upon a pedestal adorned with bas-reliefs: one of these represents the "infant Samuel" sitting on his father's shoulder to imbibe Tory principles from Dr. Sacheverel's sermons: another, the boy carried by his schoolfellows: and a third displays him undergoing a penance for youthful disobedience by standing up for an hour bareheaded in the rain. The "Three Crowns Inn" is also in the market-place, where in 1776 Boswell and Johnson stayed, and, as Boswell writes, "had a comfortable supper and got into high spirits," when Johnson "expatiated in praise of Lichfield and its inhabitants, who, he said, were the most sober, decent people in England, were the genteelest in proportion to their wealth, and spoke the purest English." David Garrick went to school to Dr. Johnson in the suburbs of Lichfield, at Edial; Addison lived once at Lichfield; and Selwyn was its bishop a few years ago, and is buried in the Cathedral close; but the chief memories of the ancient town cluster around St. Chad, Johnson, and Garrick.
LADY GODIVA OF COVENTRY.
The "three spires" which have so much to do with the fame of Lichfield are reproduced in the less pretentious but equally famous town of Coventry, not far away in Warwickshire, but they do not all belong to the same church. The Coventry Cathedral was long ago swept away, but the town still has three churches of much interest, and is rich in the old brick-and-timbered architecture of two and three centuries ago. But the boast of Coventry is Lady Godiva, wife of the Earl of Mercia, who died in 1057. The townsfolk suffered under heavy taxes and services, and she besought her lord to relieve them. After steady refusals he finally consented, but under a condition which he was sure Lady Godiva would not accept, which was none other than that she should ride naked from one end of the town to the other. To his astonishment she consented, and, as Dugdale informs us, "The noble lady upon an appointed day got on horseback naked, with her hair loose, so that it covered all her body but the legs, and then performing her journey, she returned with joy to her husband, who thereupon granted the inhabitants a charter of freedom." The inhabitants deserted the streets and barred all the windows, so that no one could see her, but, as there are exceptions to all rules, Tennyson writes that
"One low churl, composed of thankless earth, The fatal byword of all years to come, Boring a little auger-hole, in fear Peeped; but his eyes, before they had their will, Were shrivelled into darkness in his head, And drop: before him. So the Powers who wait On noble deeds cancelled a sense misused; And she, that knew not, passed."
Thus has "Peeping Tom of Coventry" passed into a byword, and his statue stands in a niche on the front of a house on the High Street, as if leaning out of a window—an ancient and battered effigy for all the world to see. Like all other things that come down to us by tradition, this legend is doubted, but in Coventry there are sincere believers, and "Lady Godiva's Procession" used to be an annual display, closing with a fair: this ceremony was opened by religious services, after which the procession started, the troops and city authorities, with music and banners, escorting Lady Godiva, a woman made up for the occasion in gauzy tights and riding a cream-colored horse; representatives of the trades and civic societies followed her. This pageant has fallen into disuse.
In this ancient city of Coventry there are some interesting memorials of the past—the venerable gateway, the old St. Mary's Hall, with its protruding gable fronting on the street, coming down to us from the fourteenth century, and many other quaint brick and half-timbered and strongly-constructed houses that link the dim past with the active present. Its three spires surmount St. Michael's, Trinity, and Christ churches, and while all are fine, the first is the best, being regarded as one of the most beautiful spires in England. The ancient stone pulpit of Trinity Church, constructed in the form of a balcony of open stone-work, is also much admired. St. Michael's Church, which dates from the fourteenth century, is large enough to be a cathedral, and its steeple is said to have been the first constructed. This beautiful and remarkably slender spire rises three hundred and three feet, its lowest stage being an octagonal lantern supported by flying buttresses. The supporting tower has been elaborately decorated, but much of the sculpture has fallen into decay, being made of the rich but friable red sandstone of this part of the country; the interior of the church has recently been restored. The Coventry workhouse is located in an old monastery, where a part of the cloisters remain, with the dormitory above; in it is an oriel window where Queen Elizabeth on visiting the town is reputed to have stood and answered a reception address in rhyme from the "Men of Coventrie" with some doggerel of equal merit, and concluding with the words, "Good Lord, what fools ye be!" The good Queen Bess, we are told, liked to visit Coventry to see bull-baiting. As we have said, Coventry formerly had a cathedral and a castle, but both have been swept away; it was an important stronghold after the Norman Conquest, when the Earls of Chester were lords of the place. In the fourteenth century it was fortified with walls of great height and thickness, three miles in circuit and strengthened by thirty-two towers, each of the twelve gates being defended by a portcullis. A parliament was held at Coventry by Henry VI., and Henry VII. was heartily welcomed there after Bosworth Field; while the town was also a favorite residence of Edward the Black Prince. Among the many places of captivity for Mary Queen of Scots Coventry also figures; the walls were mostly knocked down during the Civil Wars, and now only some fragments, with one of the old gates, remain. In later years it has been chiefly celebrated in the peaceful arts in the manufacture of silks and ribbons and the dyeing of broad-cloth in "Coventry true blue;" at present it is the "Coventry bicycle" that makes Lady Godiva's ancient city famous, and provides amusement for youth who are able to balance their bodies possibly at the expense of their minds.
In describing the ancient baronial mansion, Haddon Hall, it was mentioned that the Dukes of Rutland had abandoned it as their residence about a hundred years ago and gone to Belvoir in Leicestershire. Belvoir (pronounced Beever) Castle stands on the eastern border of Leicestershire, in a magnificent situation on a high wooded hill, and gets its name from the beautiful view its occupants enjoy over a wide expanse of country. In ancient times it was a priory, and it has been a castle since the Norman Conquest. Many of the large estates attached to Belvoir have come down by uninterrupted succession from that time to the present Duke of Rutland. The castle itself, however, after the Conquest belonged to the Earl of Chester, and afterwards to the family of Lord Ros. In the sixteenth century, by a fortunate marriage, the castle passed into the Manners family. Thomas Manners was created by Henry VIII. the first Earl of Rutland, and he restored the castle, which had for some time been in ruins. His son enlarged it, making a noble residence. The sixth Earl of Rutland had two sons, we are told, who were murdered by witchcraft at Belvoir through the sorcery of three female servants in revenge for their dismissal. The three "witches" were tried and committed to Lincoln jail. They were a mother and two daughters, and the mother before going to the jail wished the bread and butter she ate might choke her if guilty. Sure enough, the chronicler tells us, she died on the way to jail, and the two daughters, afterwards confessing their guilt, were executed March 11, 1618. The seventh Earl of Rutland received Charles I. at Belvoir, and in the wars that followed the castle was besieged and ruined. After the Restoration it was rebuilt, and in finer style. The Dukes of Rutland began to adapt it more and more as a family residence, and, after abandoning Haddon Hall, Belvoir was greatly altered and made a princely mansion. It consists of a quadrangular court, around which are castellated buildings, with towers surmounting them, and occupying almost the entire summit of the hill. Here the duke can look out over no less than twenty-two of his manors in the neighboring valleys. The interior is sumptuously furnished, and has a collection of valuable paintings. A large part of the ancient castle was burnt in 1816. The Staunton Tower, however, still exists. It is the stronghold of the castle, and was successfully defended by Lord Staunton against William of Normandy. Upon every royal visit the key of this tower is presented to the sovereign, the last occasion being a visit of Queen Victoria. Belvoir, in the generous hands of the Dukes of Rutland, still maintains the princely hospitality of the "King of the Peak." A record kept of a recent period of thirteen weeks, from Christmas to Easter, shows that two thousand persons dined at the duke's table, two thousand four hundred and twenty-one in the steward's room, and eleven thousand three hundred and twelve in the servants' hall. They were blessed with good appetites too, for they devoured about $7000 worth of provisions, including eight thousand three hundred and thirty-three loaves of bread and twenty-two thousand nine hundred and sixty-three pounds of meat, exclusive of game, besides drinking two thousand four hundred bottles of wine and seventy hogsheads of ale. Thus does Belvoir maintain the inheritance of hospitable obligation descended from Haddon Hall.
We have now come into Leicestershire, and in that county, north of Leicester City, is the outcropping of the earth's rocky backbone, which has been thrust up into high wooded hills along the edge of the valley of the Soar for several miles, and is known as Charnwood Forest. It hardly deserves the name of a forest, however, for most of this strange rocky region is bare of trees, and many of the patches of wood that are there are of recent growth. Yet in ancient years there was plenty of wood, and a tradition comes down to us that in Charnwood once upon a time a squirrel could travel six miles on the trees without touching the ground, and a traveller journey entirely across the forest without seeing the sun. The district consists of two lines of irregular ridgy hills, rising three hundred to four hundred feet above the neighboring country. These ridges are separated by a sort of valley like a Norwegian fjord, tilled with red marl. The rocks are generally volcanic products, with much slate, which is extensively quarried. Granite and sienite are also quarried, and at the chief granite-quarry—Mount Sorrel, an eminence which projects into the valley of the Soar—was in former times the castle of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester. In King John's reign the garrison of this castle so harassed the neighborhood that it was described as the "nest of the devil and a den of thieves." In Henry III.'s reign it was captured and demolished; the latter fate is gradually befalling the hill on which it stood, under the operations of the quarrymen. Near these quarries is the ancient village of Groby, which was quite a flourishing place eight hundred years ago, and has not grown much since. This village belonged to the Ferrars family, and an heiress of that family was the unfortunate Queen Elizabeth Widvile. About two miles away is Bradgate, a spot of rare beauty and interest, the history of which is closely connected with Groby. On the end of one of the ridges of Charnwood, just where it is sinking down to the level of the surrounding country, stands Bradgate House. The surrounding park is quite wild and bare, but there are fine old oaks in the lower portions. From the ancient house a beautiful dell, called the Happy Valley, leads to the neighboring village of Newtown Linford. Bradgate House was destroyed in the early part of the last century by its mistress. The Earl of Suffolk, who then owned it, brought his wife, who had no taste for a rural life, from the metropolis to live there. Her sister in London wrote to inquire how she was getting on. She answered, "The house is tolerable, the country a forest, and the inhabitants all brutes." In reply the sister advised, "Set the house on fire, and run away by the light of it." The countess took the advice, and Bradgate never was rebuilt.
ULVERSCROFT AND GRACE DIEU ABBEY.
Charnwood Forest, like almost every other place in England, contains the remains of religious houses. There was a priory at Ulverscroft, not far from Bradgate, and some picturesque moss-grown remains still exist, said to be the finest ruin in Leicestershire. Grace Dieu Abbey was also in the forest, and on the dissolution of the monasteries was granted to the Beaumonts; the ruins of this abbey were much frequented by Wordsworth, who dedicated his poems to their owner. The Cistercians have in the present century established the monastery of Mont St. Bernard in the forest, and brought large tracts under cultivation as garden-land. Bardon, the highest hill of Charnwood, which is near by, rises nine hundred feet, an obtuse-angled triangular summit that can be seen for miles away: not far from the forest are several famous places. The abandoned castle of Ashby de la Zouche has been made the site of an interesting town, deriving much prosperity from its neighboring coal-mines: this castle was built by Lord Hastings, and here dwelt Ivanhoe. The ruins of the tower, chapel, and great hall are objects of much interest, and in the chapel is the "finger pillory" for the punishment of those who were disorderly in church. Staunton Harold, the seat of Earl Ferrars, is north of the town, while about nine miles to the north-east of Ashby is Donington Hall, the palace of the Marquis of Hastings: this estate is connected with Langley Priory, three miles southward; the latter domain belonged to the Cheslyns fifty years ago, and had an income of $40,000 a year. Between lavish hospitality and ruinous lawsuits the entire property was eaten up, and Richard Cheslyn became practically a pauper; but he bore ill-fortune with good grace, and maintained his genial character to the last, being always well received at all the noble houses where he formerly visited. Sir Bernard Burke writes that Cheslyn "at dinner-parties, at which every portion of his dress was the cast-off clothes of his grander friends, always looked and was the gentleman; he made no secret of his poverty or of the generous hands that had 'rigged him out.' 'This coat,' he has been heard to say, 'was Radcliffe's; these pants, Granby's; this waistcoat, Scarborough's.' His cheerfulness never forsook him; he was the victim of others' mismanagement and profusion, not of his own." John Shakespear, the famous linguist, whose talents were discovered by Lord Moira, who had him educated, was a cowherd on the Langley estate. The poor cowherd afterwards bought the estates for $700,000, and they were his home through life.
ELIZABETH WIDVILE AND LADY JANE GREY.
Charnwood Forest is also associated in history with two unfortunate women. Elizabeth Widvile was the wife of Sir John Grey of Groby, who lost his life and estate in serving the House of Lancaster, leaving Elizabeth with two sons; for their sake she sought an interview with King Edward IV. to ask him to show them favor. Smitten by her charms, Edward made her his queen, but he was soon driven into exile in France, and afterwards died, while her father and brother perished in a popular tumult. Her daughter married King Henry VII., a jealous son-in-law, who confined Elizabeth in the monastery of Bermondsey, where she died. Bradgate passed into the hands of her elder son by Sir John Grey of Groby, and his grandson was the father of the second queen to which it gave birth, whose name is better known than that of Elizabeth Widvile—the unfortunate "ten-days' queen," Lady Jane Grey. She lived the greater part of her short life at Bradgate, in the house whose ruins still stand to preserve her memory. We are told by the quaint historian Fuller that "she had the innocency of childhood, the beauty of youth, the solidity of middle, the gravity of old age, and all at eighteen—the birth of a princess, the learning of a clerk, the life of a saint, and the death of a malefactor for her parents' offences." These parents worried her into accepting the crown—they played for high stakes and lost—and her father and father-in-law, her husband and herself, all perished on the scaffold. We are told that this unfortunate lady still haunts Bradgate House, and on the last night of the dying year a phantom carriage, drawn by four gray horses, glides around the ruins with her headless body. The old oaks have a gnarled and stunted appearance, tradition ascribing it to the woodsmen having lopped off all the leading shoots when their mistress perished. The remains of the house at present are principally the broken shells of two towers, with portions of the enclosing walls, partly covered with ivy.
LEICESTER ABBEY AND CASTLE.
The city of Leicester, which is now chiefly noted for the manufacture of hosiery, was founded by the Britons, and was subsequently the Roman city of Ratae. Many Roman remains still exist here, notably the ancient Jewry wall, which is seventy-five feet long and five feet high, and which formed part of the town-wall. Many old houses are found in Leicester, and just north of the city are the ruins of Leicester Abbey, This noted religious house was founded in the twelfth century, and stood on a meadow watered by the river Soar. It was richly endowed, and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but its chief fame comes from its being the last residence of Cardinal Wolsey. This great man, once the primate of England, has had his downfall pathetically described by Shakespeare. The king summoned him to London to stand trial for treason, and on his way Wolsey became so ill that he was obliged to rest at Leicester, where he was met at the abbey-gate by the abbot and entire convent. Aware of his approaching dissolution, the fallen cardinal said, "Father abbot, I have come hither to lay my bones among you." The next day he died, and to the surrounding monks, as the last sacrament was administered, he said, "If I had served God as diligently as I have done the king, He would not have given me over in my gray hairs." The remains were interred by torchlight before daybreak on St. Andrew's Day, 1530, and to show the vanity of all things earthly tradition says that after the destruction of the abbey the stone coffin in which they were buried was used as a horse-trough for a neighboring inn. Nothing remains of the abbey as Wolsey saw it excepting the gate in the east wall through which he entered. The present ruins are fragments of a house built afterwards. The foundations that can still be traced show that it was a grand old building. The gardens and park now raise vegetables for the Leicester market.
Leicester Castle still exists only in a portion of the great hall, but it has been enlarged and modernized, and is now used for the county offices. The castle was built after the Norman Conquest to keep the townspeople in check. It was afterwards a stronghold of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and it then became part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Dukes of Lancaster restored it, and lived there frequently in great pomp, and they also built the adjoining Hospital of the Newarke and a singular earthwork alongside, called the Mount. Several parliaments were held here, but after the time of Edward IV. the castle fell into decay. There are now few remains of the original castle, excepting part of the great hall and the Mount or earthwork of the keep, which is about thirty feet high and one hundred feet in diameter upon its flat, circular top. Not far from Leicester was fought the last great battle of the "Wars of the Roses," Bosworth Field, upon Redmoor Plain, about two miles from the village now known as Market Bosworth. It was a moor at the time of the battle in 1485, overgrown with thistles and scutch-grass. Shakespeare has been the most popular historian of this battle, and the well where Richard slaked his thirst is still pointed out, with other localities of the scenes of the famous contest that decided the kingship of England, Richard III. giving place to Richmond, who became Henry VII.
THE EDGEHILL BATTLEFIELD.
While we are considering this locality two other famous battlefields not far away, that together were decisive of the fate of England, must not be overlooked. These were Edgehill and Naseby, the opening and closing contests of the Civil War that overthrew Charles I., the scene of one being visible from the other, though the intervening contest spread almost all over the island. The high ground that borders Warwickshire and Northamptonshire has various roads crossing it, and the opposing forces meeting on these highlands made them the scenes of the battles—practical repetitions of many hot contests there in earlier years. The command of the Parliamentary army had been given to the Earl of Essex, and he and all his officers were proclaimed traitors by the king. Charles I. assembled an army at Nottingham in 1642 to chastise them, and it was considered an evil omen that when the royal standard was set up on the evening of the day of assemblage, a gale arose and it was blown down. Charles moved west from Nottingham to Shrewsbury to meet reinforcements from Wales, and then his army numbered eighteen thousand men. Essex was at Northampton, and moved southward to Worcester. Charles desired to march to London to break up the Parliament, but to do this must either defeat or outflank Essex. He chose the latter plan, moved to Kenilworth, but could not enter Coventry, because Lord Brooke, who was afterwards killed at Lichfield, held it for the Parliament. Essex left Worcester, and pressed the king by forced marches, but Charles turned his flank and started for London with Essex in pursuit. In October he reached Edgecot, near the field at Edgehill, and there in the open country he was astonished to find a gentleman amusing himself with a pack of hounds. He asked who it was who could hunt so merrily while his sovereign was about to fight for his crown. Mr. Richard Shuckburgh was accordingly introduced, and the king persuaded him to take home his hounds and raise his tenantry. The next day he joined Charles with a troop of horse, and was knighted on the field of Edgehill.
Charles slept in the old house at Edgecot: the house has been superseded by a newer one, in which is preserved the bed in which the king rested on the night of October 22, 1642. At three o'clock next morning, Sunday, he was aroused by a messenger from Prince Rupert, whose cavalry guarded the rear, saying that Essex was at hand, and the king could fight at once if he wished. He immediately ordered the march to Edgehill, a magnificent situation for an army to occupy, for here the broken country of the Border sinks suddenly down upon the level plain of Central England. Essex's camp-fires on that plain the previous night had betrayed his army to Prince Rupert, while Rupert's horsemen, appearing upon the brow of the hill, told Essex next morning that the king was at hand. Edgehill is a long ridge extending almost north and south, with another ridge jutting out at right angles into the plain in front: thus the Parliamentary troops were on low ground, bounded in front and on their left by steep hills. On the southern side of Edgehill there had been cut out of the red iron-stained rock of a projecting cliff a huge red horse, as a memorial of the great Earl of Warwick, who before a previous battle had killed his horse and vowed to share the perils of the meanest of his soldiers. Both sides determined to give battle; the Puritan ministers passed along the ranks exhorting the men to do their duty, and they afterwards referred to the figure as the "Red Horse of the wrath of the Lord which did ride about furiously to the ruin of the enemy." Charles disposed his army along the brow of the hill, and could overlook his foes, stretched out on the plain, as if on a map, with the village of Kineton behind them. Essex had twelve thousand men on a little piece of rising ground known afterwards as the "Two Battle Farms," Battledon and Thistledon. The king was superior both in numbers and position, with Prince Rupert and his cavalry on the right wing; Sir Edmund Verney bore the king's standard in the centre, where his tent was pitched, and Lord Lindsey commanded; under him was General Sir Jacob Astley, whose prayer before the battle is famous: "O Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day; if I forget thee, do not thou forget me.—March on, boys!" The king rode along in front of his troops in the stately figure that is familiar in Vandyke's paintings—full armor, with the ribbon of the Garter across his breastplate and its star on his black velvet mantle—and made a brief speech of exhortation. The young princes Charles and James, his sons, both of them afterwards kings of England, were present at Edgehill, while the philosopher Hervey, who discovered the circulation of the blood, was also in attendance, and we are told was found in the heat of the battle sitting snugly under a hedge reading a copy of Virgil.
The battle did not begin till afternoon, and the mistake the king made was in not waiting for the attack in his strong position on the brow of the hill; but his men were impatient and in high spirits, and he permitted them to push forward, meeting the attack halfway. Rupert's cavalry upon encountering the Parliamentary left wing were aided by the desertion of part of the latter's forces, which threw them into confusion; the wing broke and fled before the troopers, who drove them with great slaughter into the village of Kineton, and then fell to plundering Essex's baggage-train. This caused a delay which enabled the Parliamentary reserves to come up, and they drove Rupert back in confusion; and when he reached the royal lines he found them in disorder, with Sir Edmund Verney killed and the royal standard captured. Lord Lindsey wounded and captured, and the king in personal danger: but darkness came, and enabled the king to hold his ground, and each side claimed a victory. The royal standard was brought back by a courageous Cavalier, who put on a Parliamentary orange-colored scarf, rode into the enemy's lines, and persuaded the man who had it to let him carry it. For this bold act he was knighted by the king on the spot and given a gold medal. There were about fourteen hundred killed in the battle, and buried between the two farm-houses of Battledon and Thistledon, at a place now called the Graveyards. Lord Lindsey died on his way to Warwick with his captors. Cromwell was not personally engaged at Edgehill, although there as a captain of cavalry. Carlyle says that after watching the fight he told Hampden they never would get on with a "set of poor tapsters and town-apprentice people fighting against men of honor; to cope with men of honor they must have men of religion." Hampden answered, "It was a good notion if it could be executed;" and Cromwell "set about executing a bit of it, his share of it, by and by."
THE BATTLE OF NASEBY.
The last great contest of the Civil War, at which the fate of King Charles was really decided, was fought nearly three years afterwards, June 14, 1645, and but a few miles north-east of Edgehill, at Naseby, standing on a high plateau elevated nearly seven hundred feet. The Parliamentary forces had during the interval become by far the stronger, and were engaged in besieging Chester. The king and Prince Rupert in May left Oxford with their forces, and marched northward, hoping to raise this siege. The king had gone as far north as Leicester, when, hearing that Lord Fairfax had come from the borders of Wales and besieged Oxford, he turned about to relieve it. His army was about ten thousand strong, and, having reached Daventry in June, halted, while Fairfax, leaving Oxford, marched northward to meet the king, being five miles east of him on June 12. Being weaker than Fairfax, the king determined on retreat, and the movement was started towards Market Harborough, just north of Naseby. The king, a local tradition says, while sleeping at Daventry was warned, by the apparition of Lord Strafford in a dream, not to measure his strength with the Parliamentary army. A second night the apparition came, assuring him that "if he kept his resolution of fighting he was undone;" and it is added that the king was often afterwards heard to say he wished he had taken the warning and not fought at Naseby. Fairfax, however, was resolved to force a battle, and pursued the king's retreating army. On June 13th he sent Harrison and Ireton with cavalry to attack its rear. That night the king's van and main body were at Market Harborough, and his rear-guard of horse at Naseby, three miles southward. Ireton about midnight surprised and captured most of the rear-guard, but a few, escaping, reached the king, and roused him at two in the morning. Fairfax was coming up, and reached Naseby at five in the morning. The king held a council of war in the "King's Head Inn" at Market Harborough, and determined to face about and give battle. The forces met on Broad Moor, just north of Naseby village. Prince Rupert had command of the royal troops, and Sir Jacob Astley was in command of the infantry. The king rode along the lines, inspiriting the men with a speech, to which they gave a response of ringing cheers. Cromwell commanded the right wing of Fairfax's line, while Ireton led the left, which was opposed by Rupert's cavalry. The advance was made by Fairfax, and the sequel proved that the Parliamentary forces had improved their tactics. Rupert's troopers, as usual, broke down the wing opposing them, and then went to plundering the baggage-wagons in the rear. But fortune inclined the other way elsewhere. Cromwell on the right routed the royal left wing, and after an hour's hot struggle the royal centre was completely broken up. Fairfax captured the royal standard, and the king with his reserve of horse made a gallant attempt to recover the day. But it was of no use. Fairfax formed a second line of battle, and the king's wiser friends, seizing his horse's bridle, turned him about, telling him his charge would lead to certain destruction. Then a panic came, and the whole body of Royalists fled, with Fairfax's cavalry in pursuit. Cromwell and his "Ironsides" chased the fugitives almost to Leicester, and many were slaughtered. The king never halted till he got to Ashby de la Zouche, twenty-eight miles from the battlefield, and he then went on to Lichfield. There were one thousand Royalists killed and four thousand five hundred captured, with almost all the baggage, among it being the king's correspondence, which by disclosing his plans did almost equal harm with the defeat. The prisoners were sent to London. A monument has since been erected on the battlefield, with an inscription describing the contest as "a useful lesson to British kings never to exceed the bounds of their just prerogative; and to British subjects, never to swerve from the allegiance due to their legitimate monarch." This is certainly an oracular utterance, and of its injunctions the reader can take his choice.
THE LAND OF SHAKESPEARE.
Close to the village of Naseby rises the Avon, some of its springs being actually within the village, where their waters are caught in little ponds for watering cattle. The slender stream of Shakespeare's river flows downward from the plateau through green meadows, and thence to the classic ground of Stratford and of Warwick. It was at Stratford-on-Avon that Shakespeare was born and died;
"Here his first infant lays sweet Shakespeare sung, Here the last accents faltered on his tongue."
The old house where he was born is on the main street of the town, and has been taken possession of by a Trust which has restored it to its original condition. Its walls are covered with the initials of visitors; there is nothing to be seen in the house that has any proved connection with Shakespeare excepting his portrait, painted when he was about forty-five years old. The sign of the butcher who had the building before the Trust bought it is also exhibited, and states that "The immortal Shakespeare was born in this house." His birth took place in this ancient but carefully preserved building on April 23, 1564, and exactly fifty-two years later, on April 23, 1616, he died in another house near by, known as the "New Place," on Chapel Street. Excepting the garden and a portion of the ancient foundations nothing now remains of the house where Shakespeare died; a green arbor in the yard, with the initials of his name set in the front fence, being all that marks the spot. Adjoining the remnants of this "New Place" is the "Nash House," where the curator representing the Shakespeare Trust has his home. This building is also indirectly connected with Shakespeare, having belonged to and been occupied by Thomas Nash, who married Elizabeth Hall, the poet's granddaughter, who subsequently became Lady Barnard. The church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford contains Shakespeare's grave; five flat stones lying in a row across the narrow chancel cover his family, the grave of Anne Hathaway, his wife, being next to that of the poet; his monument is on the wall, and near it is the American memorial window, representing the Seven Ages of Man. In the chancel upon the western side, within a Grecian niche, is the well-known half-figure monument of Shakespeare that has been so widely copied, representing him in the act of composition. The most imposing building in Stratford is the "Shakespeare Memorial," a large and highly ornamental structure, thoroughly emblematic, and containing a theatre. Stratford is full of relics of Shakespeare and statues and portraits in his memory. There is a life-size statue of the poet outside the Town-Hall which was presented to the city by Garrick in the last century, while within the building is his full-length portrait, also a present from Garrick, together with Gainsborough's portrait of Garrick himself. At the modest hamlet of Shottery, about a mile out of town, is the little cottage where Anne Hathaway lived, and where the poet is said to have "won her to his love;" a curious bedstead and other relics are shown at the cottage. Charlecote House, the scene of Shakespeare's youthful deer-stealing adventure that compelled him to go to London, is about four miles east of Stratford, near the Avon: it is an ancient mansion of the Elizabethan period. In the neighborhood are also a mineral spring known as the Royal Victoria Spa and some ancient British intrenchments called the Dingles.
The renowned castle of Warwick is upon the Avon, a short distance above Stratford. Warwick was founded by the Britons at a very early period, and is believed to be as old in some parts as the Christian era; it was afterwards held as a Christian stronghold against the Danes. Lady Ethelfleda, daughter of King Alfred, built the donjon-keep upon an artificial mound of earth that can still be traced in the castle grounds. The most ancient part of the present castle was erected in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and in William the Conqueror's time it received considerable additions, and he created the first Earl of Warwick. It was a great stronghold in the subsequent wars, and an heiress brought the castle to Richard Neville, who assumed the title in right of his wife, and was the famous Warwick, "the King-maker." After many changes it came to the Grevilles, who are now the Earls of Warwick. This castle is one of the best specimens of the feudal stronghold remaining in England, and occupies a lovely position on the river-bank, being built on a rock about forty feet high; its modern apartments contain a rich museum filled with almost priceless relics of the olden time. Here are also valuable paintings and other works of art, among them Vandyck's portrait of Charles I. and many masterpieces of Rembrandt, Paul Veronese, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Holbein, and Salvator Rosa. In December, 1871, the great hall and suite of private apartments at Warwick were burnt, but the valuable contents were almost all saved with little injury. The castle was restored by a public subscription. It is built around a large oval-shaped court; the gatehouse tower is flanked by embattled walls covered with ivy, and having at either extremity Caesar's Tower and Guy's Tower; the inner court is bounded by ramparts and turrets, and has on one side an artificial mound surmounted by an ancient tower. From the modernized rooms of the castle, where the family live and the museum is located, and which extend in a suite for three hundred and fifty feet, all the windows look out upon beautiful views; many of these rooms are hung with tapestry. Caesar's Tower, believed to be the most ancient part of the castle and as old as the Norman Conquest, is one hundred and seventy-four feet high; Guy's Tower, which was built in 1394, has solid walls ten feet thick and is one hundred and twenty-eight feet high, disclosing fine views from the turrets. The grounds are extensive, and the magnificent marble "Warwick Vase," brought from the Emperor Adrian's villa at Tivoli in Italy, is kept in a special greenhouse, being one of the most completely perfect and beautiful specimens of ancient sculpture known. St. Mary's Church at Warwick is a fine building, which in the early part of the last century replaced the original collegiate church of St. Mary, an edifice that had unfortunately been burnt. Thomas Beauchamp, one of the earlier Earls of Warwick, was the founder of this church, and his monument with recumbent effigy is in the middle of the choir. The Beauchamp Chapel, over four hundred years old, is a beautiful relic of the original church still remaining, and stands on the southern side of the new building. The whole of this portion of Warwickshire is underlaid by medicinal waters, and the baths of Leamington are in the valley of the little river Leam, a short distance north-east of the castle, its Jephson Gardens, a lovely park, commemorating one of the most benevolent patrons.
Warwick Castle, like all the others, has its romance, and this centres in the famous giant, Guy of Warwick, who lived nearly a thousand years ago, and was nine feet high. His staff and club and sword and armor are exhibited in a room adjoining Caesar's Tower; and here also is Guy's famous porridge-pot, a huge bronze caldron holding over a hundred gallons, which is used as a punch-bowl whenever there are rejoicings in the castle. There is nothing fabulous about the arms or the porridge-pot, but there is a good deal that is doubtful about the giant Guy himself and the huge dun cow that once upon a time he slew, one of whose ribs, measuring over six feet long, is shown at Guy's Cliff. This cliff is where the redoubtable Guy retired as a hermit after championing the cause of England in single combat against a giant champion of the Danes, and is about a mile from Warwick. It is a picturesque spot, and a chantry has been founded there, while for many years a rude statue of the giant Guy stood on the cliff, where the chisel had cut it out of the solid rock. The town of Warwick is full of old gabled houses and of curious relics of the time of the "King-maker" and of the famous Earl of Leicester, who in Elizabeth's time founded there the Leicester Hospital, where especial preference is given to pensioners who have been wounded in the wars. It is a fine old house, with its chapel, which has been restored nearly in the old form, stretching over the pathway, and a flight of steps leading up to the promenade around it. The hospital buildings are constructed around an open quadrangle, and upon the quaint black and white building are some fine antique carvings. The old "Malt-Shovel Inn" is a rather decayed structure in Warwick, with its ancient porch protruding over the street, while some of the buildings, deranged in the lower stories by the acute angles at which the streets cross, have oblique gables above stairs that enabled the builders to construct the upper rooms square. This is a style of construction peculiar to Warwick, and adds to the oddity of this somnolent old town, that seems to have been practically asleep for centuries.
About five miles from Warwick are the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, the magnificent home of the Earl of Leicester, which Scott has immortalized. Geoffrey de Clinton in the reign of Henry I. built a strong castle and founded a monastery here. It was afterwards the castle of Simon de Montfort, and his son was besieged in it for several months, ultimately surrendering, when the king bestowed it on his youngest son, Edward, Earl of Lancaster and Leicester. Edward II., when taken prisoner in Wales, was brought to Kenilworth, and signed his abdication in the castle, being afterwards murdered in Berkeley Castle. Then it came to John of Gaunt, and in the Wars of the Roses was alternately held by the partisans of each side. Finally, Queen Elizabeth bestowed it upon her ambitious favorite, Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who made splendid additions to the buildings. It was here that Leicester gave the magnificent entertainment to Queen Elizabeth which was a series of pageants lasting seventeen days, and cost $5000 a day—a very large sum for those times. The queen was attended by thirty-one barons and a host of retainers, and four hundred servants, who were all lodged in the fortress. The attendants were clothed in velvet, and the party drank sixteen hogsheads of wine and forty hogsheads of beer every day, while to feed them ten oxen were killed every morning. There was a succession of plays and amusements provided, including the Coventry play of "Hock Tuesday" and the "Country Bridal," with bull-and bear-baiting, of which the queen was very fond. Scott has given a gorgeous description of these fetes and of the great castle, and upon these and the tragic fate of Amy Robsart has founded his romance of Kenilworth. The display and hospitality of the Earl of Leicester were intended to pave the way to marriage, but the wily queen was not to be thus entrapped. The castle is now part of the Earl of Clarendon's estate, and he has taken great pains to preserve the famous ruins. The great hall, ninety feet long, still retains several of its Gothic windows, and some of the towers rise seventy feet high. These ivy-mantled ruins stand upon an elevated rocky site commanding a fine prospect, and their chief present use is as a picnic-ground for tourists. Not far away are the ruins of the priory, which was founded at the same time as the castle. A dismantled gate-house with some rather extensive foundations are all that remain. In a little church near by the matins and the curfew are still tolled, one of the bells used having belonged to the priory. Few English ruins have more romance attached to them than those of Kenilworth, for the graphic pen of the best story-teller of Britain has interwoven them into one of his best romances, and has thus given an idea of the splendors as well as the dark deeds of the Elizabethan era that will exist as long as the language endures.
Thus far we have mainly written of the rural and historical attractions of Warwickshire, but its great city must not be passed by without notice. The "Homestead of the Sons of Beorm" the Saxon, while rising from small beginnings, has had a prodigiously rapid growth since the coal, iron, and railways have so greatly swollen the wealth and population of manufacturing England. It was at the time of the Conquest the manor of Bermingeham, or, as the Midland English prefer to pronounce it, "Brummagem." It was held for many years by a family of the same name, and had an uneventful history till the townsfolk ranged themselves on the side of Parliament in the Civil War, in revenge for which Prince Rupert captured and pillaged Birmingham: it was then a market-town, built mostly along one street, and noted for its smiths and cutlers, who were kept busy in forging pikes and swords for the king's opponents. The great growth of the city has been in the present century, when the population has trebled, and now approaches four hundred thousand. The main features of its history relate to trade and manufactures, otherwise its annals are comparatively commonplace. There is little remaining of the old town, almost all the structures being modern. St. Martin's Church, replacing the original parish church, or "Mother Church," as it is called, is a fine modern structure, and contains some interesting monuments of the Bermingeham family. There are several other attractive churches, including the Unitarian church of the Messiah, which is supported on massive arches, for it is built over a canal on which are several locks: this has given cause for a favorite Birmingham witticism:
"St. Peters world-wide diocese Rests on the power of the keys; Our church, a trifle heterodox, We'll rest on a 'power of locks.'"
Birmingham has many fine public and private buildings and some attractive streets, though much of the town is made up of narrow lanes and dingy houses, with huge factories in every direction. There are several small parks, the gifts of opulent residents, notably Aston Hall. This was formerly the residence of the Holte family, and the fine old mansion which still stands in the grounds was built by Sir Thomas Holte in the reign of James I. Charles I. is said to have slept here for two nights before the battle of Edgehill, for which offence the house was cannonaded by the Puritans and its owners fined. The grounds, covering about forty-two acres, are now a park, and a picturesque little church has been built near the mansion. Some of the factories of this metropolis of hardware are fine structures, but when their product is spoken of, "Brummagem" is sometimes quoted as synonymous for showy sham. Here they are said to make gods for the heathen and antiquities of the Pharaoh age for Egypt, with all sorts of relics for all kinds of battlefields. But Birmingham nevertheless has a reputation for more solid wares. Its people are the true descendants of Tubal Cain, for one of its historians attractively says that the Arab eats with a Birmingham spoon; the Egyptian takes his bowl of sherbet from a Birmingham tray; the American Indian shoots a Birmingham rifle; the Hindoo dines on Birmingham plate and sees by the light of a Birmingham lamp; the South American horsemen wear Birmingham spurs and gaudily deck their jackets with Birmingham buttons; the West Indian cuts down the sugar-cane with Birmingham hatchets and presses the juice into Birmingham vats and coolers; the German lights his pipe on a Birmingham tinder-box; the emigrant cooks his dinner in a Birmingham saucepan over a Birmingham stove; and so on ad infinitum. A century ago this famous town was known as the "toy-shop of Europe." Its glass-workers stand at the head of their profession, and here are made the great lighthouse lenses and the finest stained glass to be found in English windows. The Messrs. Elkington, whose reputation is worldwide, here invented the process of electro-plating. It is a great place for jewelry and the champion emporium for buttons. It is also the great English workshop for swords, guns, and other small-arms, and here are turned out by the million Gillott's steel pens. Over all these industries presides the magnificent Town Hall, a Grecian temple standing upon an arcade basement, and built of hard limestone brought from the island of Anglesea. The interior is chiefly a vast assembly-room, where concerts are given and political meetings held, the latter usually being the more exciting, for we are told that when party feeling runs high some of the Birmingham folk "are a little too fond of preferring force to argument." But, although famed for its Radical politics and the introduction of the "caucus" into England, Birmingham will always be chiefly known by its manufactures, and these will recall its illustrious inventors, Boulton and Watt. Their factory was at Soho, just north of the town. Here Watt brought the steam-engine to perfection, here gas was first used, plating was perfected, and myriads of inventions were developed. "The labors of Boulton and Watt at Soho," says the historian Langford, "changed the commercial aspects of the world." Their history is, however, but an epitome of the wonderful story of this great city of the glass and metal-workers, whose products supply the entire globe.
In our journey through Midland England we have paused at many of the prison-houses of Mary Queen of Scots. In Northamptonshire, near Elton, are the remains of the foundations of the castle of Fotheringhay, out in a field, with the mound of the keep rising in front of them; this was the unfortunate queen's last prison. It was a noted castle, dating from the twelfth century, and had been a principal residence of the Plantagenets. Here Mary was tried and beheaded, February 8, 1587. She is said to have borne up under her great afflictions with marvellous courage. Conducted to the scaffold after taking leave of all, she made a short address, declaring that she had never sought the life of her cousin Elizabeth—that she was queen-born, not subject to the laws, and forgiving all. Her attendants in tears then assisted her to remove her clothing, but she firmly said, "Instead of weeping, rejoice; I am very happy to leave this world and in so good a cause." Then she knelt, and after praying stretched out her neck to the executioner, imagining that he would strike off her head while in an upright posture and with the sword, as in France; they told her of her mistake, and without ceasing to pray she laid her head on the block. There was a universal feeling of compassion, even the headsman himself being so moved that he did his work with unsteady hand, the axe falling on the back of her head and wounding her; but she did not move nor utter a complaint, and, repeating the blow, he struck off her head, which he held up, saying, "God save Queen Elizabeth!" Her lips moved for some time after death, and few recognized her features, they were so much changed.
Also in Northamptonshire is Holmby House, where King Charles I. was captured by the army previous to his trial. It was built by Sir Christopher Hatton in Queen Elizabeth's time, but only the gates and some outbuildings remain. After the battle of Naseby the king surrendered himself to the Scots, and they, through an arrangement with the English Parliament, conducted him to Holmby House, where he maintained something of sovereign state, though under the surveillance of the Parliamentary commissioners. He devoted his time to receiving visitors, the bowling-green, and the chess-table. This continued for some months, when a struggle began between the army and the Parliament to decide whose captive he was. The army subsequently, by a plot, got possession of Holmby, and, practically making prisoners of the garrison and the commissioners of Parliament, they abducted the king and took him to a house near Huntingdon. Fairfax sent two regiments of troops thither to escort him back to Holmby, but he had been treated with great courtesy and declined to go back. Thus by his own practical consent the king was taken possession of by Cromwell, Fairfax, and Ireton, who were in command, although they denied it, and put the whole blame on one Cornet Joyce who was in command of the detachment of troops that took possession of Holmby. The king was ultimately taken to London, tried, and executed in Whitehall. At Ashby St. Leger, near Daventry, in Northamptonshire, is the gate-house of the ancient manor of the Catesbys, of whom Robert Catesby was the contriver of the Gunpowder Plot. The thirteen conspirators who framed the plot met in a room over the gateway which the villagers call the "Plot-room," and here Guy Fawkes was equipped for his task, which so alarmed the kingdom that to this day the cellars of the Parliament Houses are searched before the session begins for fear a new plot may have been hatched, while the anniversary is kept as a solemn holiday in London. The lantern used by Guy Fawkes is still preserved in the Oxford Museum having been given to the University in 1641.
One of the most ancient of the strongholds of Midland England was the Bedicanford of the Saxons, where contests took place between them and the Britons as early as the sixth century. It stood in a fertile valley on the Ouse, and is also mentioned in the subsequent contests with the Danes, having been destroyed by them in the eleventh century. Finally, William Rufus built a castle there, and its name gradually changed to Bedford. It was for years subject to every storm of civil war—was taken and retaken, the most famous siege lasting sixty days, when Henry III. personally conducted the operations, being attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the chief peers of the realm: this was in 1224, and the most ingenious engines of war were used to batter down the castle-walls, which till then had been regarded as impregnable. The stronghold was ultimately captured, chiefly through the agency of a lofty wooden castle higher than the walls, which gave an opportunity of seeing all that passed within. The governor of the castle, twenty-four knights, and eighty soldiers, making most of the garrison, were hanged. King Henry then dismantled it and filled up the ditches, so as to "uproot this nursery of sedition." The ruins lasted some time afterward, but now only the site is known, located alongside the river Ouse, which runs through the city of Bedford. This town is of great interest, though, as Camden wrote two centuries ago, it is more eminent for its "pleasant situation and antiquity than for anything of beauty and stateliness." Its neighborhood has been a noted mine for antiquities, disclosing remains of ancient races of men and of almost pre-historic animals of the Bronze and Iron Ages. The town lies rather low on the river, with a handsome bridge connecting the two parts, and pretty gardens fringing each shore. This bridge is a modern structure, having succeeded the "old bridge," which stood there several centuries with a gate-house at either end, in the larger of which was the old jail, that had for its most distinguished occupant that sturdy townsman of Bedford, John Bunyan. The castle-mound, which is all that is left, and on which once stood the keep, is on the river-shore just below the bridge, and is now used for a bowling-green in the garden of the chief hotel. The memorials of the author of the Pilgrim's Progress, first a prisoner and then a minister of the gospel in Bedford, are probably the most prized remains of ancient days that Bedford has, though they are now becoming scarce.
Elstow, a village about one mile south of Bedford, was Bunyan's birthplace. The house is still pointed out, though a new front has been put into it, and it is a very small building, suitable to the tinker's humble estate. The village-green where he played is near by, alongside the churchyard wall; the church, which has been little changed, stands on the farther side of the yard, with a massive tower at the north-western angle, looking more like a fortress than a religious edifice. The bells are still there which Bunyan used to ring, and they also point out "Bunyan's Pew" inside, though the regularity of his attendance is not vouched for, as he says "absenting himself from church" was one of his offences during the greater part of his life. He married early and in poor circumstances, the young couple "not having so much household stuff as a dish or spoon betwixt them both," though he considered it among his mercies that he was led "to light upon a wife of godly parentage." He says that a marked change in his mental condition suddenly began while playing a game of "tip-cat" on Sunday afternoon on the village-green, having listened in the morning to a sermon upon Sabbath-breaking. His conscience smote him; he abandoned the game, leaving his cat upon the ground, and then began his great spiritual struggle. He joined the Baptists, and began preaching, for at length, after many tribulations, he says, "the burden fell from off his back." He was persecuted, and committed to Bedford jail, where he remained (with short intervals of parole) for about twelve years. Here he wrote what Macaulay declares to be incomparably the finest allegory in the English language—the Pilgrim's Progress. He was a voluminous author, having written some sixty tracts and books. Finally pardoned in 1672, he became pastor of the Bedford meeting-house, and afterwards escaped molestation; he preached in all parts of the kingdom, especially in London, where he died at the age of sixty, having caught cold in a heavy storm while going upon an errand of mercy in 1688. His great work will live as long as the Anglo-Saxon race endures. "That wonderful book," writes Macaulay, "while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it.... Every reader knows the strait and narrow path as well as he knows a road in which he has gone backward and forward a hundred times. This is the highest miracle of genius, that things which are not should be as though they were—that the imaginations of one mind should become the personal recollections of another; and this miracle the tinker has wrought."
The county of Bedford gives the title to the dukedom held by the head of the great family of Russell, and Francis Charles Hastings Russell, the ninth Duke of Bedford, has his residence at the magnificent estate of Woburn Abbey. It is about forty miles from London, and on the Buckinghamshire border. Here the Cistercians founded an abbey in the twelfth century, which continued until the dissolution of the religious houses by Henry VIII., and the last abbot, Robert Hobs, was executed for denying the king's religious supremacy, the tree on which he was hanged being still carefully preserved in Woburn Park. The abbey and its domain were granted by the youthful king Edward VI. to John Russell, first Earl of Bedford, under circumstances which show how fortune sometimes smiles upon mortals. Russell, who had been abroad and was an accomplished linguist, had in 1506 returned, and was living with his father in Dorsetshire at Berwick, near the sea-coast. Soon afterwards in a tempest three foreign vessels sought refuge in the neighboring port of Weymouth. On one of them was the Austrian archduke Philip, son-in-law of Ferdinand and Isabella, who was on his way to Spain. The governor took the archduke to his castle, and invited young Mr. Russell to act as interpreter. The archduke was so delighted with him that he subsequently invited Russell to accompany him on a visit to King Henry VII. at Windsor. The king was also impressed with Russell, and appointed him to an office in the court, and three years afterwards, Henry VIII. becoming king, Russell was entrusted with many important duties, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Russell. He enjoyed the king's favor throughout his long reign, and was made one of the councillors of his son, Edward VI., besides holding other high offices, and when the youthful prince ascended the throne he made Russell an earl and gave him the magnificent domain of Woburn Abbey. He also enjoyed the favor of Queen Mary, and escorted her husband Philip from Spain, this being his last public act. Dying in 1555, he was buried in the little parish church of Chenies, near Woburn, where all the Russells rest from his time until now. He thus founded one of the greatest houses of England, which has furnished political leaders from that day to this, for the Dukes of Bedford and Devonshire are the heads of the Whig party, and Lord John Russell (afterwards an earl) was the uncle of the present duke.
Woburn Abbey remained until the last century much in its original condition, but in 1747 changes began which have since been continued, and have resulted in the construction of the ducal palace now adorning the spot. The mansion is a quadrangle enclosing a spacious court, the chief front being towards the west and extending two hundred and thirty feet. It is an Ionic building with a rustic basement, and within are spacious state-apartments and ample accommodations for the family. The rooms are filled with the best collection of portraits of great historical characters in the kingdom, and most of them are by famous artists. They include all the Earls and Dukes of Bedford, with their wives and famous relatives, and also the Leicesters, Essexes, and Sydneys of Queen Elizabeth's reign, with many others. The unfortunate Lord William Russell and his wife Rachel are here, and over his portrait is the walking-stick which supported him to the scaffold, while hanging on the wall is a copy of his last address, printed within an hour after his execution. Of another of these old portraits Horace Walpole writes: "A pale Roman nose, a head of hair loaded with crowns and powdered with diamonds, a vast ruff and still vaster fardingale, and a bushel of pearls, are the features by which everybody knows at once the pictures of Queen Elizabeth." There is a fine library, and passing out of it into the flower-garden is seen on the lawn the stump of the yew tree which Mr. Gladstone felled in October, 1878, as a memorial of his visit, he being as proud of his ability as a forester as he is of his eminence as a statesman. From the house a covered way leads to the statue-gallery, which contains an admirable collection, and the green-house, one hundred and fifty feet long, filled with valuable foreign plants, the family being great horticulturists. Busts of the great Whig statesmen are in the gallery, and it also contains the celebrated Lanti vase, brought from Rome. The "Woburn Abbey Marbles" have long been a Mecca for sculpture-loving pilgrims from both sides of the ocean. There are extensive stables, and to them are attached a fine tennis-court and riding-house, both constantly used by the younger Russells. Beyond is a Chinese dairy kept for show, and in a distant part of the grounds a curious puzzle-garden and rustic grotto. Woburn Park is one of the largest private enclosures in England, covering thirty-five hundred acres, and enclosed by a brick wall twelve miles long and eight feet high. It is undulating in surface, containing several pretty lakes and a large herd of deer. Its "Evergreen Drive" is noted, for in the spring-time it attracts visitors from all quarters to see the magnificence of the rhododendrons, which cover two hundred acres. The state entrance to the park is through a large stone archway with ornamental gates, called the "Golden Gates," on the road from London, and having two drives of about a mile each leading up to the abbey. The dukes are liberal patrons of agriculture, and their annual "sheep-shearing" used to be one of the great festivals of this part of England. They have also aided in the work of draining the Fen country, which extends into Bedfordshire, and which has reclaimed a vast domain of the best farm-land, stretching northward for fifty miles.
We are now approaching London, and, crossing over the border into Buckinghamshire, come to another ducal palace. This is the fine estate, near the town of Buckingham, of Stowe, also originally an abbey, which came into possession of the Temple family in the sixteenth century, and in 1749 merged into the estate of the Grenvilles, the ancestors of the Duke of Buckingham, its present owner. Stowe gets its chief fame from its pleasure-gardens, which Pope has commemorated. They appear at a distance like a vast grove, from whose luxuriant foliage emerge obelisks, columns, and towers. They are adorned with arches, pavilions, temples, a rotunda, hermitage, grotto, lake, and bridge. The temples are filled with statuary. The mansion, which has been greatly enlarged, has a frontage of nine hundred and sixteen feet, and its windows look out over the richest possible landscape, profuse with every adornment. In the interior the rooms, opening one into another, form a superb suite. There is a Rembrandt Room, hung with pictures by that painter, and there were many curiosities from Italy: old tapestry and draperies; rich Oriental stuffs, the spoils of Tippoo Saib; furniture from the Doge's Palace in Venice; marble pavements from Rome; fine paintings and magnificent plate. Formerly, Stowe contained the grandest collection in England, and in this superb palace, thus gorgeously furnished, Richard Grenville, the first Duke of Buckingham, entertained Louis XVIII. and Charles X. of France and their suites during their residence in England. His hospitality was too much for him, and, burdened with debt, he was compelled to shut up Stowe and go abroad. In 1845 his successor received Queen Victoria at Stowe at enormous cost, and in 1848 there was a financial crisis in the family. The sumptuous contents of the palace were sold to pay the debts, and realized $375,000. A splendid avenue of elms leads up from the town of Buckingham to Stowe, a distance of two miles.
Not far away from Buckingham is Whaddon Hall, formerly a seat of the Dukes of Buckingham, but best known as the residence of Browne Willis, an eccentric antiquary, whose person and dress were so singular that he was often mistaken for a beggar, and who is said "to have written the very worst hand of any man in England." He wore one pair of boots for forty years, having them patched when they were worn out, and keeping them till they had got all in wrinkles, so that he was known as "Old Wrinkle-boots." He was great for building churches and quarrelling with the clergy, and left behind him valuable collections of coins and manuscripts, which he bequeathed to Oxford University. Great Hampden, the home of the patriot, John Hampden, is also in Buckinghamshire. The original house remains, much disfigured by stucco and whitewash, and standing in a secluded spot in the Chiltern Hills; it is still the property of his descendants in the seventh generation.
The manor of Creslow in Buckinghamshire, owned by Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, is a pasture-farm of eight hundred and fifty acres, and is said to raise some of the finest cattle in England; it was the home of the regicide Holland. The mansion is an ancient one, spacious and handsome, much of it, including the crypt and tower, coming down from the time of Edward III., with enlargements in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is a picturesque yet venerable building, with many gables and curious chimneys, and surmounted by a square tower and loopholed turret. But its chief interest attaches to the two ancient cellars known as the crypt and the dungeon: the crypt is about twelve feet square, excavated in the limestone rock, and having a Gothic vaulted ceiling, with a single small window; the dungeon is eighteen feet long, half as wide, and six feet high, without any windows, and with a roof formed of massive stones. This is the "haunted chamber of Creslow"—haunted by a lady, Rosamond Clifford, the "Fair Rosamond" of Woodstock, often heard, but seldom seen, by those who stay at night in the room, which she enters by a Gothic doorway leading from the crypt. Few have ever ventured to sleep there, but not long ago a guest was prevailed upon to do it, and next morning at breakfast he told his story: "Having entered the room, I locked and bolted both doors, carefully examined the whole room, and satisfied myself that there was no living creature in it but myself, nor any entrances but those I had secured. I got into bed, and, with the conviction that I should sleep as usual till six in the morning, I was soon lost in a comfortable slumber. Suddenly I was aroused, and on raising my head to listen I heard a sound certainly resembling the light, soft tread of a lady's footstep, accompanied with the rustling as of a silk gown. I sprang out of bed and lighted a candle; there was nothing to be seen and nothing now to be heard; I carefully examined the whole room, looked under the bed, into the fireplace, up the chimney, and at both the doors, which were fastened as I had left them; I looked at my watch, and it was a few minutes past twelve. As all was now perfectly quiet, I extinguished the candle and soon fell asleep. I was again aroused; the noise was now louder than before; it appeared like the violent rustling of a stiff silk dress. I sprang out of bed, darted to the spot where the noise was, and tried to grasp the intruder in my arms: my arms met together, but enclosed nothing. The noise passed to another part of the room, and I followed it, groping near the floor to prevent anything passing under my arms. It was in vain; I could feel nothing; the noise had passed away through the Gothic door, and all was still as death. I lighted a candle and examined the Gothic door, but it was shut and fastened just as I had left it; I again examined the whole room, but could find nothing to account for the noise. I now left the candle burning, though I never sleep comfortably with a light in my room; I got into bed, but felt, it must be acknowledged, not a little perplexed at not being able to detect the cause of the noise, nor to account for its cessation when the candle was lighted. While ruminating on these things I fell asleep, and began to dream about murders and secret burials and all sorts of horrible things; and just as I fancied myself knocked down by a knight templar, I awoke and found the sun shining brightly."
This ancient house was originally the home of a lodge of Knights Templar, and the dungeon, which is now said to be appropriately decorated with skulls and other human bones, was formerly their stronghold. At this weird mansion, within a few minutes' ride of the metropolis, we will close our descriptive journey through Midland England, and its mystic tale will recall that passage from the Book of Days which counsels—
"Doubtless there are no ghosts; Yet somehow it is better not to move, Lest cold hands seize upon us from behind."
THE RIVER THAMES AND LONDON.
The Thames Head—Cotswold Hills—Seven Springs—Cirencester—Cheltenham—Sudeley Castle—Chavenage—Shifford—Lechlade—Stanton Harcourt—Cumnor Hall—Fair Rosamond—Godstow Nunnery—Oxford—Oxford Colleges—Christ Church—Corpus Christi—Merton—Oriel—All Souls—University—Queen's—Magdalen—Brasenose—New College—Radcliffe Library—Bodleian Library—Lincoln—Exeter—Wadham—Keble—Trinity—Balliol—St. John's—Pembroke—Oxford Churches—Oxford Castle—Carfax Conduit—Banbury—Broughton Castle—Woodstock—Marlborough—Blenheim—Minster Lovel—Bicester—Eynsham—Abingdon—Radley—Bacon, Rich, and Holt—Clifton Hampden—Caversham—Reading—Maidenhead—Bisham Abbey—Vicar of Bray—Eton College—Windsor Castle—Magna Charta Island—Cowey Stakes—Ditton—Twickenham—London—Fire Monument—St. Paul's Cathedral—Westminster Abbey—The Tower—Lollards and Lambeth—Bow Church—St. Bride's—Whitehall—Horse Guards—St. James Palace—Buckingham Palace—Kensington Palace—Houses of Parliament—Hyde Park—Marble Arch—Albert Memorial—South Kensington Museum—Royal Exchange—Bank of England—Mansion House—Inns of Court—British Museum—Some London Scenes—The Underground Railway—Holland House—Greenwich—Tilbury Fort—The Thames Mouth.
THE THAMES HEAD.
The river Thames is the largest and most important river in England, and carries the greatest commerce in the world. From the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire it flows to the eastward past London, and after a course of two hundred and twenty miles empties into the North Sea. The confluence of many small streams draining the Cotswolds makes the Thames, but its traditional source, or "The Thames Head," is in Trewsbury Mead, about three miles from Cirencester, and at an elevation of three hundred and seventy-six feet above the sea-level. The waters of the infant stream are at once pressed into service for pumping into the higher levels of a canal, which pierces the Cotswolds by a long tunnel, and connects the Thames with the Severn River, flowing along their western base. It receives many tiny rivulets that swell its current, until at Cricklade the most ambitious of these affluents joins it, and even lays claim to be the original stream. This is the Churn, rising at the "Seven Springs," about three miles from Cheltenham, and also on the slope of the Cotswolds. The Churn claims the honor because it is twenty miles long, while the Thames down to Cricklade measures only ten miles. But they come together affectionately, and journey on through rich meadows much like other streams, until the clear waters have acquired sufficient dignity to turn a mill. Cirencester (pronounced Cisseter), which thus has the honor of being a near neighbor of the Thames Head, is an ancient town, occupying the site of the Roman city of Corinium, and is known as the "metropolis of the Cotswolds." Here four great Roman roads met, and among the many Roman remains it has is part of the ruins of an amphitheatre. It was a famous stronghold before the Saxons came to England, and Polydorus tells how one Gormund, an African prince, in the dim ages of the past, besieged it for seven long years. Then he bethought him that if he could only set fire to the thatched roofs of the houses he could in the commotion that would follow force an entrance. So he set his troops at work catching sparrows, and when many were caught fastened combustibles under their tails and let them loose. The poor birds flew straight to their nests under the thatches, set them in a blaze, and while the people were busy putting out the fires Gormund got into the town. In memory of this it was afterwards called the "City of Sparrows." The Normans built a strong castle here, and Stephen destroyed it. The castle was rebuilt, and suffered the usual fate in the successive civil wars, and in the Revolution of 1688 the first bloodshed was at Cirencester. It had a magnificent abbey, built for the Black Canons in the twelfth century, and ruled by a mitred abbot who had a seat in Parliament. A fine gateway of this abbey remains, and also the beautiful church with its pretty tower. It is known now as the parish church of St. John, and has been thoroughly restored. Within are the monuments of the Bathurst family, whose seat at Oakley Park, near the town, has some charming scenery. Pope's Seat, a favorite resort of the poet, is also in the park. Cheltenham, near which is the "Seven Springs," the source of the Churn, is a popular watering-place, with the Earl of Eldon's seat at Stowell Park not far away. Here in 1864 a Roman villa was discovered, which has been entirely excavated. It has twenty chambers communicating with a long corridor, and there are several elegant tessellated pavements, while the walls are still standing to a height of four feet. Two temples have also been found in the immediate neighborhood. Substantial buildings have been erected to protect these precious remains from the weather.
SUDELEY CASTLE AND CHAVENAGE.
In the Cotswolds is the castle of Sudeley, its ruins being in rather good preservation. It was an extensive work, built in the reign of Henry VI., and was destroyed in the Civil Wars; it was a famous place in the olden time, and was regarded as one of the most magnificent castles in England when Queen Elizabeth made her celebrated progress thither in 1592. After the death of Henry VIII., his queen, Catharine Parr, married Lord Seymour of Sudeley, and she died and was buried in this castle: it is related that her leaden coffin was exhumed in 1782, two hundred and eighty years after her death, and the remains were found in excellent preservation. Among the records of the castle is a manuscript stating that Catharine Parr was told by an astrologer who calculated her nativity that she was born to sit in the "highest state of imperial majesty," and that she had all the eminent stars and planets in her house: this worked such lofty conceit in the lady that "her mother could never make her sew or do any small work, saying her hands were ordained to touch crowns and sceptres, not needles and thimbles." Near Tatbury, and also in the Cotswolds, is the source of the classic river Avon, and north-west of the town is the fine Elizabethan mansion of Chavenage, with its attractive hall and chapel. The original furniture, armor, and weapons are still preserved. This was the old manor-house of the family of Stephens, and Nathaniel represented Gloucestershire in Parliament at the time of the conviction of Charles I.: it is related that he was only persuaded to agree to the condemnation by the impetuous Ireton, who came there and sat up all night in urgent argument "to whet his almost blunted purpose." Stephens died in May, 1649, expressing regret for having participated in the execution of his sovereign. We are further told in the traditions of the house that when all the relatives were assembled for the funeral, and the courtyard was crowded with equipages, another coach, gorgeously ornamented and drawn by black horses, solemnly approached the porch: when it halted, the door opened, and, clad in his shroud, the shade of Stephens glided into the carriage; the door was closed by an unseen hand, and the coach moved off, the driver being a beheaded man, arrayed in royal vestments and wearing the insignia of the Star and Garter. Passing the gateway of the courtyard, the equipage vanished in flames. Tradition maintains also that every lord of Chavenage dying in the manor-house since has departed in the same awful manner.
The Thames flows on after its junction with the Churn, and receives other pretty streams, all coming out of the Cotswolds. The Coln and the Leche, coming in near Lechlade, swell its waters sufficiently to make it navigable for barges, and the river sets up a towing-path, for here the canal from the Severn joins it. The river passes in solitude out of Gloucestershire, and then for miles becomes the boundary between Oxfordshire on the north and Berkshire on the south. The canal has been almost superseded by the railway, so that passing barges are rare, but the towing-path and the locks remain, with an occasional rustic dam thrown across the gradually widening river. In this almost deserted region is the isolated hamlet of Shifford, where King Alfred held a parliament a thousand years ago. Near it is the New Bridge, a solid structure, but the oldest bridge that crosses the Thames, for it was "new" just six hundred years ago. The Thames then receives the Windrush and the Evenlode, and it passes over frequent weirs that have become miniature rapids, yet not too dangerous for an expert oarsman to guide his boat through safely. Thus the famous river comes to Bablock Hythe Ferry, and at once enters an historic region.
STANTON HARCOURT AND CUMNOR HALL.
A short distance from the ferry in Oxfordshire is Stanton Harcourt, with its three upright sandstones, "the Devil's Coits," supposed to have been put there to commemorate a battle between the Saxons and the Britons more than twelve centuries ago. The village gets its name from the large and ancient mansion of the Harcourts, of which, however, but little remains. Pope passed the greater part of two summers in the deserted house in a tower that bears his name, and where he wrote the fifth volume of his translation of Homer in the topmost room: he recorded the fact on a pane of glass in the window in 1718, and this pane has been carefully preserved. The kitchen of the strange old house still remains, and is a remarkable one, being described as "either a kitchen within a chimney or a kitchen without one." In the lower part this kitchen is a large square room; above it is octangular and ascends like a tower, the fires being made against the walls, and the smoke climbing up them until it reaches the conical apex, where it goes out of loopholes on any side according to the wind. The distance from the floor to the apex is about sixty feet, and the interior is thickly coated with soot. The fireplaces are large enough to roast an ox whole.
Not far from the ferry, in Berkshire, is the ancient manor-house of Cumnor Hall, sacred to the melancholy memory of poor Amy Robsart. She was the wife of Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and when his ambition led him to seek Queen Elizabeth's hand it was necessary to get her out of the way. So he sent Amy to Cumnor, where his servant Anthony Forster lived. At first poison was tried, but she suspected it, and would not take the potion. Then, sending all the people away, Sir Richard Varney and Forster, with another man, strangled her, and afterwards threw her down stairs, breaking her neck. It was at first given out that poor Amy had fallen by accident and killed herself, but people began to suspect differently, and the third party to the murder, being arrested for a felony and threatening to tell, was privately made away with in prison by Leicester's orders. Both Varney and Forster became melancholy before their deaths, and finally a kinswoman of the earl, on her dying bed, told the whole story. The earl had Amy buried with great pomp at Oxford, but it is recorded that the chaplain by accident "tripped once or twice in his speech by recommending to their memories that virtuous lady so pitifully murdered, instead of saying pitifully slain." Sir Walter Scott has woven her sad yet romantic story into his tale of Kenilworth; and to prove how ambition overleaps itself, we find Lord Burghley, among other reasons which he urged upon the queen why she should not marry Leicester, saying that "he is infamed by the murder of his wife." The queen remained a virgin sovereign, and Leicester's crime availed only to blacken his character.