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Title: England
Author: Fox, Frank, Sir, 1874-1960
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "England" ***

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Author of "Ramparts of Empire" "Peeps at the British Empire," "Australia
and Oceania"

With 32 Full-Page Illustrations in Colour

Adam and Charles Black


To bring within the limits of one volume any detailed description of
England--her history, people, landscapes, cities--would be impossible. I
have sought in this book to give an impression of some of the most
"English" features of the land, devoting a little space first to an attempt
to explain the origins of the English people. Thus the English fields and
flowers and trees, the English homes and schools are given far more
attention than English cities, English manufactures; for they are more
peculiar to the land and the people. More markedly than in any superiority
of her material greatness England stands apart from the rest of the world
as the land of green trees and meadows, the land of noble schools and of
sweet homes:

    Green fields of England! wheresoe'er
    Across this watery waste we fare,
    One image at our hearts we bear,
    Green fields of England, everywhere.

    Sweet eyes in England, I must flee
    Past where the waves' last confines be,
    Ere your loved smile I cease to see,
    Sweet eyes in England, dear to me!

    Dear home in England, safe and fast,
    If but in thee my lot lie cast,
    The past shall seem a nothing past
    To thee, dear home, if won at last;
    Dear Home in England, won at last.

That is the cry of an Englishman (Arthur Hugh Clough). On the same
note--the green fields, the dear homes--a sympathetic visitor to England
would shape his impressions on going away.

If, by chance, the reading of this book should whet the appetite for more
about England, or some particular part of the kingdom, there are available
in the same series very many volumes on different counties and different
features of England. To these I would refer the lover or student of England
wishing for closer details. My impression is necessarily a general one;
and it is that of a visitor from one of the overseas Dominions--not the
less interesting, I hope, certainly not the less sympathetic for that











THE TRAINING OF YOUNG ENGLAND                              43


ENGLAND AT WORK                                            64


ENGLAND AT PLAY                                            81


THE CITIES OF ENGLAND                                     101


THE RIVERS OF ENGLAND                                     114


ENGLAND'S SHRINES                                         125


THE POORER POPULATION                                     137


THE ARTS IN ENGLAND                                       155


POLITICAL LIFE IN ENGLAND                                 171


THE DEFENCE OF ENGLAND                                    187

INDEX                                                     203


1. St. Paul's from the River Thames                     _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

2. The Chalk Cliffs of England                                       1

3. North Side, Canterbury Cathedral                                  8

4. Richmond, Yorkshire                                              17

5. Norman Staircase, King's School, Canterbury                      24

6. A Kent Manor-House and Garden                                    33

7. A Sussex Village                                                 40

8. The Bridge of Sighs, St. John's College, Cambridge               49

9. St. Magdalen Tower and College, Oxford                           56

10. Broad Street, Oxford, looking West                              59

11. Eton Upper School                                               62

12. Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, London             65

13. Harvesting in Herefordshire                                     72

14. Football at Rugby School                                        81

15. Cricket at "Lord's"                                             88

16. Trout-fishing on the Itchen, Hampshire                          97

17. Dean's Yard, Westminster                                       104

18. Sailing Boats on the Serpentine, Hyde Park, London             107

19. Watergate Street, Chester                                      110

20. The River Rother, Sussex                                       115

21. Thames at Richmond, Surrey                                     118

22. Spring by the Thames                                           121

23. Windsor Castle from Fellows' Eyot: Early Spring                124

24. Glastonbury Abbey, Somersetshire                               128

25. Anne Hathaway's Cottage near Stratford-on-Avon                 137

26. Gipsies on a Gloucestershire Common                            144

27. The Tower from the Tower Bridge, looking West                  153

28. Westminster Abbey from the end of the Embankment               160

29. Westminster and the Houses of Parliament                       169

30. Hyde Park, London                                              176

31. Battleships Manoeuvring                                      193

32. Changing the Guard                                             200





When Europe, as it shows on the map to-day, was in the making, some great
force of Nature cut the British Islands off from the mainland. Perhaps it
was the result of a convulsive spasm as Mother Earth took a new wrinkle on
her face. Perhaps it was the steady biting of the Gulf Stream eating away
at chalk cliffs and shingle beds. Whatever the cause, as far back as man
knows the English Channel ran between the mainland of Europe and "a group
of islands off the coast of France"; and the chalk cliffs of the greatest
of these islands faced the newcomer to suggest to the Romans the name of
_Terra Alba_: perhaps to prompt in some admirer of Horace among them a
prophetic fancy that this white land was to make a "white mark" in the
Calendar of History.

Considered geographically, the British Islands, taking the sum of the whole
five thousand or so of them (counting islets), are of slight importance.
Yet a map of the world showing the possessions of Great Britain--the area
over which the people of these islands have spread their sway--shows a
whole continent, large areas of three other continents, and numberless
islands to be British. And when the astonishing disproportion between the
British Islands and the British Empire has been grasped, it can be made the
more astonishing by reducing the British Islands down to England as the
actual centre from which all this greatness has radiated. It is true that
the British Empire is the work of the British people: as the Roman Empire
was of the Italian people and not of Rome alone. But it was in England that
it had its foundation; and the English people made a start with the British
Empire by subduing or coaxing to their domain the Welsh, the Scottish, and
the Irish. Not to England all the glory: but certainly to England the first

There is at this day a justified resentment shown by Scots and Irish, not
to speak of Welshmen, when "England" is used as a term to embrace the whole
of the British Isles. (Similarly Canadians resent the term "America" being
arrogated by the United States.) A French wit has put very neatly the case
for that resentment by stating that ordinarily an inhabitant of the British
Isles is a British citizen until he does something disgraceful, when he is
identified in the English newspapers as a "Scottish murderer" or an "Irish
thief": but if he does something fine then he is "a gallant Englishman."
That is neat satire, founded on a slight foundation of truth. Very often
"England" is confounded with "Great Britain" when there is discussion of
Imperial greatness. I do not want to come under suspicion of inexactness,
which that confusion of terms shows. But writing of England, and England
alone, it is just to claim at the outset that the actual first beginning of
that great British power which has eclipsed all records of the world was in
England: and it is worth the while to inquire into the causes which made
for the growth of that power. It is necessary, indeed, to make that
inquiry and get to know something of English history before attempting to
look with an understanding eye upon English landscapes, English cities, and
the English people of to-day. The classic painters of the greatest age of
Art used landscape only as the background for portraiture. The human
interest to them was always paramount. And, whether one may or may not go
the whole way with these painters in the appraisement of the relative value
of the human or the natural, clear it is that a human interest heightens
the value of every scene; and there can be no full appreciation of a
country without a knowledge of its history.

"When a noble act is done--perchance in a scene of great natural beauty:
when Leonidas and his three hundred martyrs consume one day in dying, and
the sun and the moon come each and look upon them once in the steep defile
of Thermopylæ: when Arnold Winkelried, in the high Alps, under the shadow
of the avalanche, gathers in his side a sheaf of Austrian spears to break
the line for his comrades; are not these heroes entitled to add the beauty
of the scene to the beauty of the deed?" Assuredly "yes" to that question
from Emerson, and assuredly, too, they pay back every day what they have
borrowed, giving to a noble landscape the added charm of its human
association with a noble deed. The white cliffs of England are beautiful
and impressive as they show like gleaming ramparts defending green fields
and fruitful valleys. But they become more beautiful and more impressive as
one thinks of them confronting the Romans stepping from Gaul to a wider
conquest; or facing William of Normandy as he set out to enforce a weak
claim with a strong sword; or set like white defiant teeth at the great
ships of the Spanish Armada as they passed up the English Channel with
Drake in pursuit, the unwieldy Spanish galleons showing like bulls pursued
by gadflies.

Let us then look for a moment at England in the making before considering
the England of to-day.

When the British Isles were cut off from the mainland, England was, without
doubt, inhabited by people akin to the Gauls. The people of the French
province of Brittany are to-day very clearly cousins of the people of those
districts of England, such as Cornwall, which preserve most of the old
Briton blood. Separation from the mainland does not seem to have effected
very much change in the national type by the time that history came on the
scene to make her records. Cæsar found the Britons very like the Gauls.
They had not developed into a maritime people. Fisheries they had, for food
and for pearls; but they had none of the piratical adventurousness of the
Norsemen. That they were naked, woad-painted savages, those Britons of
Cæsar's time, has been held long as a popular belief. But that is hardly
tenable in the light of the knowledge which recent archæological
investigation has given, though, likely enough, they painted for battle, as
soldiers of a later time used to wear plumes and glittering uniforms to
impress and frighten the enemy.

Excavations in more than one district of late have shown that the early
Britons possessed a good share of civilisation before ever the Romans came
to their land. Thus near Northampton there is a place which used to be a
camp of the Britons prior to the Roman occupation. The camp has an area of
about four acres, and was defended by a ditch fifteen feet deep, and about
thirty feet wide, with a rampart on either side of the fosse.

Here were discovered the bases of what are considered to have been the
remains of the hut-dwellings of the occupiers of the camp. Of these some
three hundred were found filled with black earth and mould, and from them
many most interesting articles were obtained. There were many iron relics,
such as swords, daggers, spear heads, knives, saws, sickles, adzes, an axe,
plough-shares, nails, chisels, gouges, bridles (one with a bronze
centre-bit), and a well-formed pot-hook made of twisted iron. In bronze
there were remains of two sword scabbards, four brooches, some fragments
belonging to horse harness, pins and rings, and a small spoon. There were
also glass beads and rings, a fragment of jet, a number of spindle
whorls for spinning, bone combs used in weaving, and about twenty
triangular-shaped bricks pierced through each corner, considered to be loom
weights to keep the warp taut; more than a hundred querns or millstones,
some of the corn which was ground in them (this fortunately happened to be
charred and so preserved), and remains of about four hundred pots, nearly
all used for domestic purposes. One of the bronze scabbards bears on the
top an engraved pattern of the decorative art of the period, showing the
Triskele, a sun symbol often found on remains of the Bronze Age in Denmark
as well as elsewhere.

Similar pre-Roman relics have been obtained from the Marsh Village near
Glastonbury, from Mount Coburn near Lewes, and from near Canterbury. The
unmistakable evidence of these relics is that the pre-Roman Briton could
spin and weave, knew how to plough and when to sow, was an excellent
carpenter, and was an expert in metal work, both in iron and bronze, and
possessed a decorative art. He was therefore not a "savage" as savages were
understood in those days.

We must consider the Britons, then, of Cæsar's time as possessed of some
degree of civilisation. They understood fabrics, pottery, metals,
architecture. They had come into contact with the civilisation of the
Mediterranean Sea long before his day. The Scilly Islands off the coast of
Cornwall can reasonably be identified as the Casserterrides of the
Phoenicians, where the merchants of Tyre and Sidon bought tin, giving
cloth in exchange. It is said, indeed, that an ingot of tin with a
Phoenician mark upon it was dredged up once from Falmouth Harbour.
Probably the very earliest mention of Britain is by Hecatæus (B.C. 500,
about the time when Marathon was fought). He described Britain then as an
isle of the Hyperboreans, and alleged that the inhabitants "raised two
crops in the year and worshipped the sun."


That may be the first original sneer at the British climate, the sneer
which now takes the form that whenever the sun appears in England it is
photographed, lest the inhabitants of the island should forget what it is
like. (There is an Australian "drought" story of the same order of humorous
exaggeration, that in a certain district the rain from heaven had been
withheld so long, and grass had so long disappeared, that when at last
relief came and the grass grew the sheep would not eat it, as they did not
recognise what it was!) But perhaps Hecatæus was serious. It is not at all
unlikely that the gossip Hecatæus had of the Isle of the Hyperboreans came
from Phoenician sources, and referred to that south-westerly extremity of
Cornwall which gets the full benefit of the warm Gulf Stream, and has in
consequence an astonishingly mild climate for its latitude, a climate quite
capable of producing sometimes two crops a year.

As for sun worship, there are many indications of the practice of its
rites in prehistoric Britain. The "Round Towers" which are sprinkled over
Ireland can best be explained by a theory of sun worship. Stonehenge, in
the south of England, which dates back to about 1500 years B.C., was
probably a temple of sun worship. There are the ruins of a temple, possibly
of the sun, at Avebury (Wilts.) of even older date.

It would be impossible to attempt even to hint at all the evidence in the
matter. But what may be accepted quite safely as a fact is, that in
prehistoric times the Briton was no laggard in the path of civilisation:
that indeed he was among the early pilgrims on that path. Even as far north
as the Yorkshire Wolds--it is clear from recent excavations--there was a
thick local population of men in the Neolithic Age. The burial mounds of
these Neolithic tribes have lately been excavated, and have given much
valuable evidence as to the history of Man. The "Ipswich Man," too--the
indubitable remains of a man who walked upright and who had skull
accommodation for a human brain, discovered in strata of a most remote age
of the earth--proves that in the little corner of the world which was to
have such a wonderful history in the far future, there were early
indications of promise.

It is worth while to clear our British ancestors of the reproach of being
woad-painted savages at a time of the world's history when every European,
almost, had learned at least the use of skins. For those Britons were
responsible for that "Celtic fringe" which to-day shows so largely in our
poetry and our politics, and in other walks of life. The ancient Briton
enters into the making of modern England through the strong traces of his
ancestry left in Cornwall, Devon, the Marches of Wales, and elsewhere.

But respectably clothed, arm-bearing, house-building personage as he was,
the ancient Briton would never have made a very great mark in the world if
he had been left to himself. He would never have overflowed to send out
tidal waves of conquest like the Norsemen or the Goths. Possibly even in
those early days he had his Celtic qualities of poetry and imagination and
argumentativeness, and spent much of his energy in dreaming things instead
of doing things. It was when the Romans came that England began to shape
towards a big place in the world.

The Romans do not seem to have had a very bloody campaign in subduing that
part of Britain which is now England. The people were rather softer than
the Gauls of the mainland. Their country was penetrated by several rivers
such as the Thames, which gave easy highways to the Roman galleys. The
gentle contours of the country made easy the building of the Roman roads,
which were the chief agents of Roman civilisation. But the Roman dominion
in the British Islands stopped with England. Scotland, Wales, Ireland
remained unsubdued. That fact was to have an important bearing on the
future of England. Step by step, Fate was working for the making of the
people who were to cover the whole earth with their dominions.

We have seen that in the beginning Britain was a part of Gaul, a temperate
and fertile peninsula which by right of latitude should have had the
temperature of Labrador, but which, because of the Gulf Stream, enjoyed a
climate singularly mild and promotive of fertility. When the separation
from the mainland came because of the cutting of the English Channel, the
Gallic tribes left in Britain began to acquire, as the fruits of their soft
environment and their insular position, an exclusive patriotism and a
comparative immunity from invasion. These made the Briton at once very
proud of his country and not very fitted to defend its shores.

With the Roman invasion the future English race won a benefit from both
those causes. The comparative ease of the conquest by the Roman Power freed
the ensuing settlement by the conquerors from a good deal of the bitterness
which would have followed a desperate resistance. The Romans were generous
winners and good colonists. Once their power was established firmly, they
treated a subject race with kindly consideration. Soon, too, the local
pride of the Britons affected their victors. The Roman garrison came to
take an interest in their new home, an interest which was aided by the
singular beauty and fertility of the country. It was not long before
Carausius, a Roman general in Britain, had set himself up as independent of
Italy, and with the aid of sea-power he maintained his position for some
years. The Romans and the Britons, too, freely intermarried, and at the
time when the failing power of the Empire compelled the withdrawal of the
Roman garrison, the south of Britain was as much Romanised as, say,
northern Africa or Spain. All the appurtenances of Roman civilisation had
been brought to Britain. It was no mere barbarous province. It had its
great watering-places such as Bath, and its fine cities and its vineyards,
though the British climate nowadays is accused of not being able to grow
grapes. British oysters, too, were famous among the gluttons of Rome, and
one Roman emperor is said to have raised a British oyster to the rank of
consul as a mark of his appreciation. (This jest of the table, if all
stories can be credited, has since been repeated in England, and is
responsible for the "Sir Loin" of beef and also the "Baron" of beef.)

But side by side with the growth of a gracious civilisation in England,
there was constant warfare on the borders. The wilder natives of the
British islands refused the Roman sway, and threatened by their forays the
security of the new cities. This made necessary a great military
organisation, which has left its mark on the England of to-day in the Roman
roads and the sites of Roman military camps dotted all over the country
from the Thames to the Tweed. The remains of these camps are quite
distinguishable in many places; and generally they are known as "Cæsar's
camps," whether Julius Cæsar ever saw their neighbourhood or not. Probably
Carausius was the "Cæsar" of many of these camps.

Despite the border wars the Romanised Britons got on fairly comfortably
until the failing power of the Roman Empire made it necessary for the Roman
legions to withdraw to Italy. This left Romanised Britain to be attacked by
the wilder Britons of the north and the west. That these attacks should
have been as successful as they were, hints that the south Briton of
England was rather a soft fellow. Since, as we will find later, the
Anglo-Saxon--once comfortably settled in England--showed a tendency also to
become a soft fellow, and had to be pricked to greatness by the Dane and
the Norman, it would almost seem that this gentle, green, cloudy England
has ultimately a softening effect on its inhabitants. But fresh blood pours
in to bring vigour. England invites adventurers by her beauty and then
tames them. Because of her perpetual invitation the British nation has been
made of a brew of Briton, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman bloods,
and all these people have left their mark on the landscape of the country.



How the Romanised Briton of England would have fared ultimately in his
contest with the more savage Britons of the north and the west, who came to
rob him down to his toga, if they had been left to fight it out, it is hard
to say. Probably the course of events would have been that the English
natives would first have yielded to the northern invaders, and afterwards
absorbed them and made them partakers in their civilisation.


A town of considerable importance at the time of the Norman Conquest]

But the issue was never fought out. There had begun the most momentous
swarming of a human race that history records. Along the Scandinavian and
the Danish peninsulas, and the northern coast of Germany, there had been
swelling up a vast population of fierce, strong, courageous and hungry men;
Angles, Saxons, Danes, Jutes, Norsemen--they were all very much akin: big
blue-eyed men of mighty daring mated with fair, chaste, fruitful women; and
they swarmed out of their warrens to over-run the greater part of Europe.
You may trace them to the interior of Russia, to Iceland, to
Constantinople, some think to North America. But, whatever their path, the
British Islands were athwart the track they took, and the British Islands
received the most complete flood of Anglo-Saxon blood. Again it was England
that made way most easily to the invader. The Anglo-Saxons came and cleared
out the Romanised and Christian civilisation from Yorkshire to Kent. But
the fiercer British natives who had held back the Romans, held back also
these new invaders, helped thereto by the fact that their lands seemed to
be hungry, and to offer but little booty. England, fat, fertile, like a
beautiful park with its forests and meadows and rivers, was at once a
richer and an easier prize.

The Anglo-Saxon probably made his conquest more easy by treachery and by
fomenting discord among the Britons. There is a ballad by Thomas Love
Peacock, which treats of such an Anglo-Saxon victory--with at least a
shadow of a shade of historical warrant:--

    "Come to the feast of wine and meat,"
    Spake the dark dweller of the sea.
    "There shall the hours in mirth proceed;
    There neither sword nor shield shall be."

    None but the noblest of the land,
    The flower of Britain's chiefs were there;
    Unarmed, amid the Saxon band
    They sate, the fatal feast to share.

    Three hundred chiefs, three score and three
    Went, where the festal torches burned
    Before the dweller of the sea;
    They went, and three alone returned.

    Till dawn the pale sweet mead they quaffed,
    The ocean chief unclosed his vest,
    His hand was on his dagger's haft,
    And daggers glared at every breast.

Still it was an easy victory, that of Anglo-Saxon over Briton. But just as
we must, in the light of recent knowledge, give up the idea that the Briton
whom Julius Cæsar encountered was a woad-painted savage, so we must refuse
to accept the impression (which is implied more often than directly stated)
that the Romanised Briton, after the departure of the Roman legions, was
quite helpless. Between the Roman departure from Britain and the
establishment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms there, room must be found,
somehow, for whatever of historical truth there is as a foundation for the
Arthurian legends. On that point let old Caxton speak:--

     Now it is notoriously known through the universal world
     that there be nine worthy and the best that ever were.
     That is to wit three paynims, three Jews, and three
     Christian men. As for the paynims they were tofore the
     Incarnation of Christ, which were named, the first
     Hector of Troy, of whom the history is come both in
     ballad and in prose; the second Alexander the Great;
     and the third Julius Cæsar, Emperor of Rome, of whom
     the histories be well-known and had.

     And as for the three Jews which also were tofore the
     Incarnation of our Lord, of whom the first was Duke
     Joshua which brought the children of Israel into the
     land of behest; the second David, King of Jerusalem;
     and the third Judas Maccabæus; of these three the Bible
     rehearseth all their noble histories and acts.

     And sith the said Incarnation have been three noble
     Christian men stalled and admitted through the
     universal world into the number of the nine best and
     worthy, of whom was first the noble Arthur, whose noble
     acts I purpose to write in this present book here
     following. The second was Charlemagne or Charles the
     Great, of whom the history is had in many places both
     in French and English; and the third and last was
     Godfrey of Bouillon, of whose acts and life I made a
     book unto the excellent prince and king of noble
     memory, King Edward the Fourth. The said noble
     gentleman instantly required me to imprint the history
     of the said noble king and conqueror, King Arthur, and
     of his knights, with the history of the Sangreal, and
     of the death and ending of the said Arthur; affirming
     that I ought rather to imprint his acts and noble
     feats, than of Godfrey of Bouillon, or any of the other
     eight, considering that he was a man born within this
     realm, and king and emperor of the same; and that there
     be in French divers and many noble volumes of his acts,
     and also of his knights.

     To whom I answered, that divers men hold opinion that
     there was no such Arthur, and that all such books as be
     made of him be but feigned and fables, by cause that
     some chronicles make of him no mention nor remember him
     no thing, nor of his knights. Whereunto they answered,
     and one in special said, that in him that should say or
     think that there was never such a king called Arthur,
     might well be credited great folly and blindness; for
     he said that there were many evidences of the contrary:
     first ye may see his sepulture in the Monastery of
     Glastonbury. And also in _Polichronicon_, in the fifth
     book of the sixth chapter, and in the seventh book and
     the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried and
     after found and translated into the said monastery. Ye
     shall see also in the history of Bochas, in his book
     _De Casu Principum_, part of his noble acts, and also
     of his fall.

     Also Galfridus in his British book recounteth his life;
     and in divers places of England many remembrances be
     yet of him and shall remain perpetually, and also of
     his knights. First in the Abbey of Westminster, at
     Saint Edward's shrine, remaineth the print of his seal
     in red wax closed in beryl, in which is written
     _Patricius Arthurus, Britannæ, Gallie, Germanie, Dacie,
     Imperator_. Item in the castle of Dover ye may see
     Gawaine's skull and Craddock's mantle, at Winchester
     the Round Table, in other places Launcelot's sword and
     many other things. Then all these things considered,
     there can no man reasonably gainsay but there was a
     king of this land named Arthur. For in all places,
     Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for one
     of the nine worthy, and the first of the three
     Christian men. And also he is more spoken of beyond the
     sea, more books made of his noble acts than there be in
     England, as well in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Greek,
     as in French. And yet of record remain in witness of
     him in Wales, in the town of Camelot, the great stones
     and marvellous works of iron, lying under the ground,
     and royal vaults, which divers now living hath seen.

I fear one cannot take Caxton's endorsement of Sir Thomas Malory as final
evidence, and accept as historic a King Arthur who on one occasion invaded
the European Continent and defeated in battle the troops of the Roman
Emperor. But there were men to fight in England after the Romans left; and
those beaten in the fight fell back on Scotland, on Wales, on Cornwall, and
some of them wandered farther afield and colonised Brittany in France, a
province which to-day reminds of Cornwall at a thousand points.

The Anglo-Saxons, like other nations, found the air of England civilising.
They aspired to settle down in quiet comfort when there came from the east
a fresh cloud of freebooters, the Danes, to claim a share in this
delectable island. Dane and Saxon fought it out--the Briton from "the
Celtic fringe" occasionally interfering--with all the hearty ill-will of
blood relations, and as they fought shaped out a very good people, partly
English, partly Saxon, partly Danish, and in the mountains partly British.

If you look over England with a seeing eye, you can notice the traces of
each element in the nation's blood; and the landscape will partly explain
why in one place there is a Celtic predominance, in another a Danish. Each
national type sought and held the districts most suitable to its character.

After the Danish, the last great element in the making of the British race
was the Norman. The Normans were not so much aliens as might be supposed.
The Anglo-Saxons of the day were descendants of sea-pirates who had settled
in Britain and mingled their blood with the British. The Normans were
descendants of kindred sea-pirates who had settled in Gaul, and mingled
their blood with that of the Gauls and Franks. The two races, Anglo-Saxon
and Normans, after a while merged amicably enough, the Anglo-Saxon blood
predominating, and the present British type was evolved, in part Celtic, in
part Danish, in part Anglo-Saxon, in part Norman--a hard-fighting,
stubborn, adventurous type, which in its making from such varied elements
had learned the value of compromise, and of the common-sense principle of

The Normans brought to England a higher knowledge of the arts than the
Anglo-Saxons had. The Roman culture of Britain had been just as high as the
Roman culture of Gaul. But in Britain its tradition had been lost to a
great extent in the onrush of the rude, unlettered Anglo-Saxons. In Gaul
the Norsemen had won only a district, not the whole country, and they had
been surrounded by civilising influences and had reacted to them
wonderfully. Practically all the fine buildings of England date from after
the Norman Epoch. But it is a fact which will strike at once the student of
those buildings, who afterwards compares them with contemporary Norman
buildings in France, that Norman architecture was not transplanted to
England. Whilst at Rouen, Lisieux, Caen, Bayeux, you see the churches
usually in Flamboyant or Ogival Gothic; in England the churches of about
the same date are in a more severe and straight-laced style. It is well
worth the trouble to study somewhat closely the churches built by the
Normans in France and by the Norman-English in England during the century
after the Conquest. A clear indication will be found from the study that
the Normans did not over-run and beat down the Anglo-Saxons; but that the
Anglo-Saxon was the "predominant partner" almost from the first in the
domestic economy of the nation, however badly he fared in the tented field
against the Normans.

The antiquities of England, the edifices of England, the very fields of
England will be understood better if they are looked at in the light of
English history--not that bare-bones caricature of history which is a mere
record of battles and kings, but the living history which traces to their
sources the streams of our race. The England of to-day is beginning to know
the wisdom of a close sympathetic study of the past. One of the signs of
this awakening of the historical sense is the popularity of the open-air
pageant reviving scenes of old. I shall always remember, among many of
those pageants, a particularly fine one at Chester, a city of great
historic importance.


Such brilliant sunshine as rarely glows over "green and cloudy England"
greeted this Chester Pageant; and, with it, just enough of a gentle breeze
as to set all the leaves to a morris dance and to give to banner and mantle
a flowing line. The scene for the play was set by Nature, or by good
gardeners of long ago working in close sympathy with her model for an
English pleasaunce. It was a very dainty sward, perhaps of five acres in
all, ringed around with trees and bushes in their native wildness, which
invaded here and there the grass with an out-thrown clump or extended arm.
On such a spot fairies would pitch for their revels, noticing how the
curtains of the shrubberies would mask their troopings, and the extending
wings of boscage give surprise to their exits and entrances. With perfect
weather and a perfect stage, the Chester Pageant needed to claim a large
excellence to prove itself worthy of its opportunity; and did make and
fully establish the claim.

It was bright, graced with fine music and much dainty dancing, engrossing
in its story, and amusing in the little character sketches of life with
which it embroidered history. Also it taught patriotism by impressing proud
facts of history. Where, to serve the purpose of the picturesque, the
probable rather than the certain was followed, due warning was given; and
the wise plan was adopted of interspersing with the great incidents pages
from the familiar life of the people. The Crusade was preached from Chester
Cross; side by side with it was shown an excerpt from cottage life in the
story of Dickon, an archer, and his betrothed, Alison, whom he would leave,
and yet not leave, to take the badge of the Crusade. History was, in fact,
made homely, as history should be if it is to claim interest outside the
philosopher's study.

Chester is very proud of its history and jealously preserves its
antiquities. A city which was a great camp for the Romans, a naval
headquarters for the Saxons, a centre for the fierce contests between
Normans and Welsh, a much-disputed prize in the Civil War, has certainly
much history to cherish, and Chester nobly indulges the pride. No other
city of England, not even excepting London, shows so much reverence for a
glorious past.

But all through England there is an awakening of historical interest; and
it marches on the right lines to make history not so much a record of dead
people as an explanation of living people.

After this short glance at the past let us look to the England of to-day.



There are as many types of natural scenery in England almost as there are
counties. To attempt to describe all in this one volume would be absurd.
Yet to generalise on English natural beauty is difficult, because of that
great diversity. Who can suggest, for instance, a common denominator to
suit the Devonshire Moors, the Norfolk Broads, the Surrey Downs, and the
Thames Valley? But since one must generalise, it is safe to give as the
predominant feature of England's natural beauty that which strikes most
obviously the eye of the stranger used to other countries.

Nine out of ten strangers coming to England for the first time, and asked
to speak of its appearance, will say something equivalent to "park-like."
England in truth looks like one great well-ordered park, under the charge
of a skilful landscape gardener. The trees seem to grow with an eye to
effect, the meadows to be designed for vistas, the hedges for reliefs. The
land indeed does not seem ever to be doing anything--not at all a correct
impression in fact, that, but it is the one conveyed irresistibly.

One soon notices that the tree must in France work for its living. It
cannot aspire to the luxurious and beautiful existence of its English
brothers, who in their woods and copses have little to do but to "utter
green leaves joyously" in the spring, glow with burnished glory in the
autumn, and unrobe delicate traceries for admiration in the winter. In
France a tree may live on the edge of a road or as one of a cluster
sheltering a farmhouse, or keep many other trees company in a State pine
forest which will help to make those execrable French matches; but its
every twig is utilised, and a hard-working existence takes away much of its
beauty. The æsthetic tree, the tree with nothing to do but just to be a
tree and look pretty, is rare in most countries; but in England it is the
commonplace. Other countries have useful trees which look pretty, forests
which are impressive in spite of man. England seems to share with Japan the
amiable thriftlessness of giving up much land to growth which is not
intended to serve any base utilitarian purpose at all.

The hedges, which take up a considerable fraction of English arable soil,
help to the park-like appearance of the country. They are inexpressibly
beautiful when spring wakes them up to pipe their roulades in tender green.
In summer they are splendid in blazon of leaf and flower. In autumn they
flaunt banners of gold and red and brown. In winter, too, they are still
beautiful, especially in the early winter when there still survive a few
scarlet berries to glow and crackle and almost burn in the frost. If
England, in a mood of thrift, swept away her hedges and put in their places
fences (or that nice sense of keeping boundaries which enables the French
cultivator to do without either), the saving of land would be enormous. But
much of the park-like beauty of the country-side would depart; and with it
the predominant note of the English landscape, which is that of the estate
of a rich, careful, orderly nobleman.

The change will be slow in coming, if it comes at all; for though he would
be the last man, probably, to suspect it, the Englishman is at heart
æsthetic. Yes, in spite of horse-hair furniture, gilt-framed oleographs,
wax-flower decorations, and Early Victorian wall-papers, and other sins of
which many of him have been, and still are, guilty, the Englishman has
planted in him an instinct for art. It shows in his love of nature, of the
green of his England. Almost every one aspires to come into touch with a
bit of plant life. In the East End of London the aspiration takes the form
of a window garden. You may see workingmen's "flats" let at six shillings a
week with their window gardens. In the West End, land which must be worth
many thousands of pounds per acre is devoted to garden use. For want of
better, a terrace of houses will have a little strip of plantation, at back
or front, common to all of them. House and "flat" agents tell that tenants
almost always demand that there shall be at least sight of a green tree
from some window. In the small suburban villas a very considerable tax of
money and labour is cheerfully paid in the effort to keep in good order a
little pocket-handkerchief of lawn and a few shrubs. This love of the
garden is holy and wholesome, and it proves, I think, that the Englishman
is at heart a lover of the beautiful, an "æsthetic," though he is supposed
to be such a dull, prosaic, practical person.

Comparing the English with the French on this point, in my opinion it is in
the practical application of æsthetic principles to life rather than in
æsthetic sensibility that the French are superior to the English. What
difference there is in æstheticism favours the English; there are deeper
springs of art and poetry in the English people than in the French. But art
has been far more carefully cherished and organised in France than in
England. There is more general artistic education, if less true artistic

Approach a typical French village of a modern type. The first impression
given by the houses is of a vastly superior artistic consciousness. Both in
colour and in form the houses are more beautiful than the same types in
England, where domestic architecture of the villa type so often suggests
either a penal establishment or the need of a penal establishment for the
designer. But look a little closer, and one notices that, as compared with
an English town, there is in France a conspicuous absence of gardens.
Decorative trees, shrubberies, flowers are rare. Where there is garden
space it is, as like as not, devoted to some shocking attempt at grandiose
_rococo_ work. The interiors, too, are disappointing. Thrift suggests the
hideous closed-in stove as a substitute for open fires; but the garish
wall-papers, the coloured prints, the "decorations" of shell-work or china,
and so on, are not necessary, and are far more ugly than those of the
average poor home in England, even of the "Early Victorian type." I repeat,
the natural artistic standard of the French does not seem to be so high as
that of the English, but the standard of artistic education is very much


I have noticed among all classes in England the same natural love of
beauty. It does not exist only in the rich (but as a class it exists among
them to a very marked degree: there is nothing in the world more beautiful
than an English manor house, with its park and garden); it permeates the
whole people. I recall a farmer to whom I spoke of the waste caused by the
gorgeous yellow-blossomed weeds which invaded his wheat. "Yes," he said,
half content, half sorry, "but they do look so beautiful." It was not that
he was a lazy farmer, but he did actually love the beautiful wild life
which came to rob his wheat of its nourishment.

At another time I remember meeting on a country road a draper's porter (one
of those poor casual labourers who make an odd penny here and there by
carrying parcels for small drapers). He had an enforced holiday and he was
tramping out into the country from the town "to see the green fields." He
did not say in so many words that he "loved" the green fields. It would not
occur to him probably to attempt to phrase his feeling towards them. But it
was clear that he did, most fondly; and he was fairly typical of the
Englishman of his class.

As an exile the Englishman carries away with him the ideal of the soft
green English country-side, and tries to reconstruct England wherever he
may settle overseas. English trees, English grass, English flowers he
sedulously cultivates in Australia, in Canada, in South Africa, and wins
some strange triumphs over Nature in many of his acclimatisations.

Occasionally the transplanting succeeds too well. An Englishman with a
touch of nostalgia--not enough of it to send him back to his Home
country--introduced rabbits to Australia. It would be home-like, he
thought, to see rabbits popping in and out of their burrows. That was the
beginning. Now there are places in Australia where you can hardly put your
foot down without treading on a rabbit, and sufficient of money to build a
large navy has had to be spent in keeping the rabbit-pest in check. Another
home-sick colonist, who came possibly, however, from north of the Tweed,
introduced Scottish thistles into the same country with disastrous results.

Yet another English acclimatisation was that of the field daisy to
Tasmania. It flourished wonderfully in its new surroundings, and had such a
bad effect on the pasturage that a war had to be waged against its spread.
But, seeing an English meadow decked with daisies, as thick as stars in the
Milky Way, one might almost argue that such beauty is good compensation for
a little loss of grass, as my farmer thought with his invaded wheat patch.
The wide grass walks of Kew Gardens in the daisy time are lovely enough to
make one forget all material things. To give a thought to the niceties of a
cow's appetite, or to the yield of butter, when remembering such daisies,
would not be possible.

All along the English country-side the gardens are delicious, from the
winsome cottage plots to the nobly sweeping landscape surrounding a typical
manor house, blending a hundred individual beauties of lawn, rosery, herb
border, walled garden, wild garden into one enchanting mosaic. But, withal,
it is the wonderful variety and perfection of the trees that is most
remarkable. The affectionate regard for trees in England is a most pleasing
thing to one who in his own country has had often to protest against a sort
of rage against trees, as if they were enemies of the human race. (The
pioneer who has to clear a forest for the sake of his crop and pasture gets
into an unhappy habit afterwards of tree-murder out of sheer wantonness.)
At Ampthill Park (an old Henry VIII. hunting seat) I have been shown oaks
which in Cromwell's time were recorded as "too old to be cut down for the
building of ships." They are still carefully preserved, some of them
enjoying old-age pensions in the shape of props to keep up their venerable

Were I advising a friend abroad who knew nothing of England and wished to
make a pilgrimage to its chief shrines of beauty, I think I should urge him
to come in the late winter to Plymouth and explore first Cornwall and
Devon, seeing, in the first case, how England's "rocky shores beat back the
envious siege of watery Neptune." The coming of the waves of an Atlantic
storm to Land's End offers a grand spectacle. He should stay in the
south-west to see the first breath of spring bring the trees to green, and
the earliest of the daffodils to flower. He will very likely encounter some
wet weather. The Dartmoor people themselves say:--

    The south wind blows and brings wet weather,
    The north gives wet and cold together,
    The west wind comes brimful of rain,
    The east wind drives it back again.
    Then if the sun in red should set,
    We know the morrow must be wet;
    And if the eve is clad in grey
    The next is sure a rainy day.

But despite showers, spring on Dartmoor is a glowing pageant of green and
gold. After feasting upon it a week or so, my imaginary pilgrim would make
his way to the Thames valley to welcome yet another spring. The Gulf Stream
gives the south-west corner of England a softer climate and an earlier
spring than the east enjoys. By the time the daffodils are nodding their
golden heads in Cornwall, the crocus will be just showing its flame along
the borders of the Thames, and the pilgrim will understand Browning's

    Oh to be in England
    Now that April's there,
    And whoever wakes in England
    Sees some morning, unaware,
    That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
    Round the elm tree hole are in tiny leaf;
    While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
    In England--now!

When once the spring is in full tide towards summer, it is difficult to say
where one should search for special beauty in England, for all is so
beautiful, from the Yorkshire hills to the Sussex marshes beloved of
Coventry Patmore--flat lands whose drowsy beauties glow under the broad
sunshine and suggest a tranquil charm of quiet joy tinged with melancholy,
too subtle to appeal to the casual "tripper," but of insistent call to all
who understood the more intimate charms of Nature. It is spacious is
Sussex. It shelters solitudes. Its quiet, slow-voiced people are
sympathetic with their surroundings. When storms rage Sussex takes a new
aspect. The screaming of the gulls, the sobbing of the sedges in the wind,
the wide, flat expanse laid, as it were, bare to the rage of the storm,
gives to the wind a sense of poignant desolation.

In Sussex, when Henry VIII. was king, many "great cannones and shotters
were caste for His Majestie's service"; and the county was notable for its
iron mines and foundries. From Sussex earlier had come all of the 3000
horseshoes on which an English king's army had galloped to ruin at
Bannockburn. Owing to the iron in the soil the Sussex streams sometimes run
red, so that "at times the grounde weepes bloud." Now there is an end of
iron-working there. The foundry at Ashburnham, the last of the Sussex
furnaces, was closed down in 1828. One reason given was that the workers
were too drunken, helped as they were to unsober habits by the facilities
for smuggling in Holland's gin.

But more probably the Sussex ironworks closed down in the main for the same
reason that other southern works did. The past two centuries have seen a
gradual transference of the great industries and the great centres of
population from the south to the north-west and the Midlands. The northern
coal mines are the real magnets. So the Sussex iron-workers of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries may not justly be accused of killing an
industry with their dissolute love of Holland's gin. Their country is
to-day the more picturesque without the iron foundries, though one may give
a sigh to Sussex iron, which had the repute of being the toughest in all

I have given this little space to Sussex, by way of proof that everywhere
in England there is beauty, for Sussex is not a "scenery" county in the
general sense. It will, indeed, prove puzzling to my imaginary pilgrim in
search of the highest natural beauty of England to find time within one
spring and summer to get an idea of its wide variety of charm. Fortunate he
if he resists all temptation to rush (by motor car or otherwise) through a
"comprehensive tour" mapped out by hours. I remember encountering--with
deep pity on my part--a group of delegates to some great Imperial
Conference, who were being "shown England" by some misguided and misguiding
official. They were at Oxford for lunch, and were due to "do" Oxford and
lunch--or rather lunch and Oxford--within three hours. Motoring up they had
already "done" a great deal of country in a morning, including a visit to
Banbury. After lunch--and Oxford--they were on their way to Worcester and
yet farther that day. It was an unhappy experiment in quick-change scenery,
proving conclusively the cleverness of motor cars and the stupidity of
human beings.

[Illustration: A SUSSEX VILLAGE]

May and June in this fancied Pilgrimage of Beauty should be given up wholly
to the Thames valley from Greenwich to Oxford, and past. An intelligent
lover of the beautiful in Nature and Art will at least learn in those two
months that a life-time is not sufficient for due faithful worship at all
the shrines of Beauty he will encounter. My pilgrim has now seen wild coast
scenery and river scenery. July should be given to the hills and the lakes,
these enchanting lakes which have won new beauties from the poets and wise
men who dwelt by them. Then August to the Yorkshire Wolds, with their
sweeping outlines, clear in the amber air shining over white roads and
blue-green fields.

The attractions of the Yorkshire Wolds are proof against the wet sea-mists,
the penetrating winds, and the merciless rain which sometimes sweep over
them. The very severity of the weather appeals to nature lovers. The
Yorkshire Wolds terminate on the east with the great Flamborough headland,
the chalky cliffs of which have remarkable strength to resist ocean
erosion. Owing to this fact Flamborough headland has been for centuries
becoming more and more the outstanding feature of the east coast of
England, because the sea continues to eat into the low shores of

With the end of August comes the end of the English summer (though at times
it ends at a very much earlier date, and offers with its brief life poor
reason for having appeared at all; "seeing that I was so soon to be done
for, why ever was I begun for"). It is then time to go to Kent and see the
burnishing of the woods by Autumn, the ripening of hop and apple. To the
New Forest afterwards, and the sands of the south coast. At the end of the
year our pilgrim will know how varied is the beauty of the English
landscape, and how faithfully it is loved in its different forms by those
who live near to it.



All the world and his wife seem to be agreed that there is something in the
English system of education which can work miracles. Boys from all over the
world come to England, to school and university, to be trained. And
further, the English tutor and the English governess are to be found
sprinkled over the globe, teaching some of the young of all nations. There
is a recent fashion for German training, "because it is so thorough," and
the English system of training (which can certainly fail in a very large
proportion of cases to show creditable results when tested by examination
paper) comes in for some merciless criticism in its own home country.
Nevertheless, it still holds its reputation as the best of systems to make

What exactly character signifies in this connection it would be hard to
define in a phrase. But it is that something which makes the young pink
English boy fresh from home step, as if by nature born to the job, into the
work of administering things, governing inferiors amiably, obeying
superiors cheerfully, and keeping up a high tradition of fair play and
tolerance. It is that something which made a cute American, after planning
out, in theory, the administrative staff of a gigantic enterprise, with
experts of all nations in this and that department, to add, "Then I would
have an Englishman to run the whole lot of them."

It is an education which trains the character and exercises the mind rather
than one which informs--the typical English education. It can turn out, and
does turn out, shoals of careless youngsters who know little or nothing of
science, mathematics, philosophy, of "the humanities" even, but who give
always the impression of having been "well brought up," who have a wise way
of doing practical things, and who somehow or other manage to play no mean
part in the governance of the world. Observing them, many a foreign parent
resolves that his children shall be trained in the same way. But often he
is disappointed. The system is English, and it suits the English mind. Not
always is it successful with the foreigner.

All over England are spread the institutions--preparatory schools, public
schools, and universities--which are given over to the making of character,
and incidentally to the teaching of a few facts. In the ordinary course a
boy goes to a preparatory school with a career already mapped out for him,
the Navy, the Army, or the Church, or one of the learned professions. If he
is destined for the Navy he has to specialise at a very early age; if for
the Army, he betakes himself to a military college at a later time; if for
the Church or the Bar, or the public service, he passes through the full
course of preparatory school, public school, and university.

A great educational institution in England will be found, almost
invariably, built in a valley or on a marsh. Perhaps this sort of low
living is thought to be conducive to high thinking. A more likely
explanation is that most of the great educational institutions are ancient,
and in the time of their building any great concourse of people had to
settle close to the banks of a stream. The situation of the schools and
universities has had its influence on the course of English education.
Oxford and Cambridge, brooding in their low basins, alternately chill and
steamy, are ideal places to dream in, and much more suitable for the
encouragement of ethical arguments than of the inclination to "hustle."
What will happen to the English character when a university comes to be
founded on top of a Yorkshire hill I refuse to speculate; the prospect is
too remote. But there are indications of the possible course of events in
the results of the Scottish universities.

The various schools and universities of England contribute largely to its
list of historic and beautiful buildings. The first great educational
centre was York. In Roman times York was a fine city. With the coming of
the Saxons it reasserted its importance, and became the chief collegiate
town of the kingdom. In the seventh and eighth centuries the chief of
England's learned men hailed from Northumbria. It was in 657 A.D. that the
School of York was founded by Cædmon, first of English poets, and with the
York of the early days are linked the names of the venerable Bede, "father
of English learning," John of Beverley, and Wilfrid of York; also of
Alcuin, a great doctor of theology, who was one of the first to hold that
"chair" at Cambridge. But York suffered many vicissitudes. Wars interfered
with the pursuits of the scholars. At the dawn of the twelfth century Henry
I. endeavoured to restore the prosperity of the city and its colleges, with
some success.

Meanwhile to the south-east, among the marshes and fens of East Anglia,
scholarship had found a fitting place to dream and study. Great monastic
houses at Ely and Peterborough--some of the most important in England--were
the forerunners of Cambridge University. The earliest community at
Cambridge was founded by Dame Hugolina in 1092, in gratitude for her
recovery from a serious sickness. Cambridge has never forgotten that
feminine foundation, and whilst Oxford was cold to the higher education of
women movement, the other university gave the girl graduate a welcome, and
pupils of two great Cambridge colleges, the "Girton Girl" and the "Newnham
Girl," carried Cambridge culture wherever the English tongue was spoken.

Dame Hugolina's little foundation of six canons soon extended, until the
house held thirty. In 1135 another canons' house was established, which
served not only as a retreat for scholars, but as a hospital and
travellers' hospice. The third foundation came in the next century, and now
Cambridge University began to take definite shape. A church of the
Franciscan Friars was used first for university purposes. The older and
more learned friars were the professors, the novices and younger friars the
undergraduates. Later, the Franciscans were succeeded by the Dominicans,
and still later by the Austin Friars in the control of the nascent
University. Then there began a movement to make the University independent
of any monastic order, and during the fourteenth century the contest was as
bitter as one could wish for. Early in the fifteenth century the University
had won ground to the extent that it could act in defiance of the Bishop of
Ely, and could, moreover, secure a Papal Bull in its favour.


Simultaneously with this movement of the University towards independence of
the monks, there had been the inevitable contests of all university towns
between "gown's-men" and "town's-men." Cambridge had never been a city of
any great commercial importance. But it had its "unlearned population"
engaged in connection with the fisheries, farming, and the pastoral
industry. Near by, the great Stourbridge Fair--one of the most important in
England--brought every year a great concourse of people with little
sympathy to spare for the University students, who, in turn, despised them
(or affected to) right heartily, though probably among the younger students
there was a lurking sympathy for the jollity of the fairs, a good
impression of which one may get from a quaint old ballad of 1762:--

    While gentlefolks strut in their silver and sattins,
    We poor folks are tramping in straw hats and pattens;
    Yet as merrily old English ballads can sing-o,
    As they at their opperores outlandish ling-o;
    Calling out, bravo, ankcoro, and caro,
    Tho'f I will sing nothing but Bartlemew fair-o.

    Here was, first of all, crowds against other crowds driving,
    Like wind and tide meeting, each contrary striving;
    Shrill fiddling, sharp fighting, and shouting and shrieking,
    Fifes, trumpets, drums, bagpipes, and barrow girls squeaking,
    Come my rare round and sound, here's choice of fine ware-o,
    Though all was not sound sold at Bartlemew fair-o.

    There was drolls, hornpipe dancing, and showing of postures,
    With frying black-puddings; and op'ning of oysters;
    With salt-boxes solos, and gallery folks squalling;
    The tap-house guests roaring, and mouth-pieces bawling,
    Pimps, pawn-brokers, strollers, fat landladies, sailors,
    Bawds, bailiffs, jilts, jockies, thieves, tumblers, and taylors.

    Here's Punch's whole play of the gun-powder plot, Sir,
    With beasts all alive, and pease-porridge all hot, Sir;
    Fine sausages fry'd, and the black on the wire,
    The whole court of France, and nice pig at the fire.
    Here's the up-and-downs; who'll take a seat in the chair-o?
    Tho' there's more ups-and-downs than at Bartlemew fair-o.

    Here's Whittington's cat, and the tall dromedary,
    The chaise without horses, and queen of Hungary;
    Here's the merry-go-rounds, come, who rides, come, who rides, Sir?
    Wine, beer, ale, and cakes, fine eating besides, Sir;
    The fam'd learned dog that can tell all his letters,
    And some men, as scholars, are not much his betters.

    This world's a wide fair, where we ramble 'mong gay things;
    Our passions, like children, are tempted by play-things;
    By sound and by show, by trash and by trumpery,
    The fal-lals of fashion and Frenchify'd frumpery.
    What is life but a droll, rather wretched than rare-o?
    And thus ends the ballad of Bartlemew fair-o.

It is on record that Edward I. in 1254 (whilst still Prince of Wales)
visited the town of Cambridge, and acted as arbitrator in quarrels between
the townsmen and the students. He decided that thirteen scholars and
thirteen burgesses of the town should be chosen to represent both interests
on a Board of Control. His son, Edward II., continued his father's
interest in Cambridge, and maintained, at his own expense, a group of
scholars there. In 1257 Hugh de Balsham, the tenth bishop of the diocese,
placed and endowed at St. John's Hospital a group of secular students known
as "Ely students." At this time also Walter de Merton, Chancellor of
England, assigned his manor of Malden, Surrey, as endowment for "poor
scholars in the schools of Cambridge, who were to live according to his
directions." In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in this as at other
universities, scholars lived each at his own charge. Sometimes three or
four clubbed together, but each had his own "founder and benefactor." Some
scholars elected their own principal, and paid a fixed rate for board and
lodging, and this hostel system developed into the collegiate system which
distinguishes English universities from all others. Now Cambridge has
seventeen of these colleges.

Among the architectural features of special interest at Cambridge is a
chapel built by Matthew Wren, the uncle of Sir Christopher Wren. It is a
fine specimen of seventeenth-century work. The various college buildings
date from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The dates are:
Michaelhouse 1324, Clare 1338, Peterhouse 1284, King's Hall 1337, Pembroke
1347, Gonville Hall 1348, Trinity Hall 1356, Corpus Christi 1382, King's
College 1441, Queens' 1448, St. Catharine's 1473, Jesus 1495, Christ's
1505, St. John's 1509, Magdalene 1542, Trinity 1546, Caius 1557, Emmanuel
1584, Sidney Sussex 1595. Modern colleges are Downing College, Girton
College, and Newnham College. Girton College occupies Girton Manor on the
Huntingdon Road, an eleventh-century house built by Picot the Norman
Sheriff of Cambridge. Earlier it had been the site of a Roman and
Anglo-Saxon burial-ground. The college was founded by Madame Bodichon and
Miss Emily Davies. Newnham College began in a hired house with five
students in 1871. Miss Anne J. Clough was the founder. The present Newnham
Hall is composed of several buildings acquired since.

For the historical student a brief roll of some of Cambridge's great men
would include: Green, Lyly, Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Nash, Fletcher, Sterne,
Thackeray, Bacon, Milton, Dryden, Cranmer, the two great Cecils,
Walsingham, Cromwell, Walpole, Chesterfield, Pitt, Wilberforce,
Castlereagh, Palmerston, Herrick, Hutchinson, Marvell, Jeremy Taylor,
Ascham, Erasmus, Spenser, Wren, Hook, Evelyn, More, Newton, and Darwin.

Meanwhile Oxford waits us, with no impatience, secure in her calm sense of
dignity. There is a story of an Irishman with a great idea of his own
dignity. But he was careless, he professed, as to the place at table
assigned to him. "Wherever I am seated," he said, "that is the head of the
table." Oxford is sometimes credited with having a feeling of rivalry for
Cambridge. A mimic war of wits has been waged over the fancied rivalry, of
which one epigram that sticks in my memory is, that "Cambridge breeds
philosophers and Oxford burns them" (I have not the exact words, perhaps,
but that is the sentiment). In truth, though, Oxford has no sense of
rivalry. She knows herself to be peerless, incomparable, the centre of the
educational aspiration, not only of England but of the world. In her
atmosphere of drowsy ritual she broods serene as Buddha. And she does not
burn philosophers nowadays, however heretical may seem to be their ideas.
Indeed the Oxford of to-day shelters beneath its imperturbable calm,
behind its moss-grown walls, all the "latest fashions" in beliefs.

As to the first beginnings of Oxford--the town not the University has just
been celebrating its millenary--Anthony à Wood records this tale of its
first origin: "When Fredeswyde had bin soe long absent from hence, she came
to Binsey (triumphing with her virginity) into the city mounted on a
milk-white ox betokening Innocency, and as she rode along the streets she
would forsooth be still speaking to her ox, 'Ox, forth'--or (as it is
related) 'bos perge,' that is 'Ox, goe on,' or 'Ox, go forth'--and hence
they indiscreetly say that our city was from thence called Oxforth or
Oxford." It is fairly certain that Didau and the daughter Fredeswide
established a nunnery and built a church there in the eighth century. The
town was rebuilt by Ethelred in the eleventh century.

Before the Norman Conquest Oxford was a notable city, often visited by the
reigning kings, sometimes the meeting-place of Parliaments. This prominence
brought with it many troubles. It was often sacked and in part burned.
These incidents despite, it grew to be a prosperous medieval walled city. A
Benedictine scholastic house on the site of Worcester College was the
beginning of the University.

Early in the thirteenth century William of Durham, with a company of
others, shook from off their English shoes the dust of Paris University
after a "town and gown row" there, and settled at Oxford, and then the
University began to take shape. He gave money to the University to found a
"Hall" for students. Many other halls were founded (half of the Oxford Inns
are, or were, perversion of old "Halls"). William of Wykeham gave a code of
rubrics which became a legacy to the whole University. He built a college
for the exclusive use of scholars of the foundation. He built also
bell-tower, cloisters, kitchen, brewery, and bakehouse for "New" College.
New College was the first home for scholars at Oxford. Lincoln College was
next founded, after that All Souls, then Magdalen. Duke Humphrey of
Gloucester gave the nucleus of the famous Bodleian library to the
Benedictine monks. Christ Church was built with the revenues of a
suppressed monastery.

So every step in English history for ten centuries can be remembered by the
stones of Oxford. That fine library building of All Souls, which holds as
one of its treasures Wren's original plans for St. Paul's Cathedral, was
built out of sugar money from the West Indies, being the gift of a great
sugar planter in the early days of the making of the Empire.

During the wars of Cavaliers and Roundheads Oxford suffered some shrewd
blows. It was for the King always, and after the Restoration the Court
recognised its loyalty. Charles II. with his Queen--and eke another lady or
so as a rule--was often a visitor, and spent a great part of the Plague
Year there, though "the Merry Monarch" showed no want of pluck or loyalty
to his sore-stricken people during that time, and did not abandon London
altogether. But all who could got out of London for a while to escape the
horrors of which Pepys has given so clear a record in his diary and
letters, as in the following to Lady Carteret:--


     The absence of the Court and emptiness of the city
     takes away all occasion of news, save only such
     melancholy stories as would rather sadden than find
     your Ladyship any divertisement in the hearing; I have
     stayed in the city till above 7400 died in one week,
     and of them above 6000 of the plague, and little noise
     heard day or night but tolling of bells; till I could
     walk Lumber-street, and not meet twenty persons from
     one end to the other, and not 50 upon the Exchange;
     till whole families, 10 and 12 together, have been
     swept away; till my very physician, Dr. Burnet, who
     undertook to secure me against any infection, having
     survived the month of his own house being shut up, died
     himself of the plague; till the nights, though much
     lengthened, are grown too short to conceal the burials
     of those that died the day before, people being thereby
     constrained to borrow daylight for that service:
     lastly, till I could find neither meat nor drink safe,
     the butcheries being everywhere visited, my brewer's
     house shut up, and my baker, with his whole family,
     dead of the plague.

     Greenwich begins apace to be sickly; but we are, by the
     command of the King, taking all the care we can to
     prevent its growth; and meeting to that purpose
     yesterday, after sermon, with the town officers, many
     doleful informations were brought us, and, among
     others, this, which I shall trouble your Ladyship with
     the telling:--Complaint was brought us against one in
     the town for receiving into his house a child newly
     brought from an infected house in London. Upon inquiry,
     we found that it was the child of a very able citizen
     in Gracious Street, who, having lost already all the
     rest of his children, and himself and wife being shut
     up and in despair of escaping, implored only the
     liberty of using the means for the saving of this only
     babe, which with difficulty was allowed, and they
     suffered to deliver it, stripped naked out at a window
     into the arms of a friend, who, shifting into fresh
     clothes, conveyed it thus to Greenwich, where, upon
     this information from Alderman Hooker, we suffer it to
     remain. This I tell your Ladyship as one instance of
     the miserable straits our poor neighbours are reduced

Pepys himself had taken refuge then at Greenwich. All had left who could,
even to dour old John Milton, whose plague retreat at Chalfont St. Giles
(Bucks) is now preserved as an historical relic, and usually holds the
attention of the rushing tourist, who is "doing" England within a month,
for quite seven minutes. That is really space for a matured consideration
to the tourist mind.

"The motor has slowed down from seventy miles an hour to fifty miles an
hour. We are passing a point of great historic interest." That is
sight-seeing in Europe for the American tourist according to one of their
own humorists. I have had many opportunities to observe the truth on which
that sarcasm is based. Take Milton's Cottage for an instance. I had walked
there from Chorley Wood one spring afternoon, and was enjoying idly the
blooms in the little garden, when a motor rushed up, disgorged a party of
hurried tourists, of which the man member had a guide-book. "Is this
Milton's Cottage?" It was: so they entered. "Is this really Milton's chair?
Sure?" It was. So they all sat on it solemnly in turn. Within five minutes
their chariot of petrol had wrapped them up again, and they were rushing
over the face of England to see some shrine of the Pilgrim Fathers.


But we have rambled from Oxford, which is, by the way, much cursed of the
rushing tourist, who has a plan for "doing" it in an hour, and gallops from
the Bodleian to Shelley's Tomb, and Addison's Walk, the Old Wall, the Tower
of St. Michael's, and is away in a cloud of dust, without having gained the
barest hint of the subtle persuasive charm of Oxford; without a thought of
seeing St. Mary's Tower afloat in the moonlight; of hearing the choir of
Magdalen; of drowsing an afternoon under the elms; or of seeking, with all
due reverence and modesty, to gain an entrance to some of those august
companies of Oxford--of undergraduates dreaming their exalted young dreams,
of dons musing their deep thoughts.

I own to it that I feel it difficult to write of Oxford, though, alas! I am
able to write with facility of many places visited and things experienced.
There is something of rebuke towards quick generalisations and easy
judgments in the atmosphere of the place. I have been to Oxford many times.
My very first dinner in England was with the Fellows of All Souls, a feast
of solemn yet cheerful splendour in four rooms, one for the dinner itself,
yet another for dessert, another for coffee, and finally, another for
tobacco. Another time I was at Oxford to lecture to a gathering of dons and
undergraduates on social problems in Australia; yet another time to prove
that the young athletes of the University were conquerable at _epée_
fencing. But never have I got over a first awe of the place. To attempt to
probe to its soul seems an impertinence. Oxford has an atmosphere of the
Round Table.

Rather than attempt to give my own impressions, I prefer to quote others,
and to state facts. That Herodotus of social life, Pepys, found Oxford "a
very sweet place," spent two shillings and sixpence on a barber in its
honour, and gave ten shillings "to him that showed us All Souls College and
Chickley's picture." He concludes, "Oxford a mighty fine place.... Cheap
entertainment." Pepys was not troubled evidently by any awe of the place.
There is, by the way, astonishingly little in the poetic literature of
England about Oxford, seeing that so many poets have lived and studied

The University of Oxford, for all its devotion to the King, would not
follow James II. on the path towards Rome. When on his accession he was
welcomed to Oxford, "the fountains ran claret for the vulgar." But when he
tried to force his Roman Catholic nominee into the presidentship of
Magdalen, he could not even get a blacksmith to force a door for him.
Oxford was for the Church and the Throne, but for the Church first.
Nowadays Oxford is very much interested in social problems. It is
Conservative still, but many of its young men have a flavour of socialism,
generally of a "non-revolutionary" and Christian type.

Material life at Oxford is exceedingly pleasant, not to say luxurious. The
undergraduates "do themselves" very well. Kitchen and buttery maintain
agreeably historic reputations, and the old college buildings have been
modernised to the extent of admitting electric light and sanitary plumbing.
But bath-rooms are rare: the good old English "tub" which a servant makes
ready in the morning with a ewer of water is still a feature of the college

It is the social life and the college system, with its fine mixture of
independence and wardship, which make Oxford sought for as a school for
"character." But one may also gain much learning there if one wishes. Still
it is hardly essential. You may emerge from Oxford with a degree, but with
astonishingly little knowledge. To the "Babu" type of mind in
particular--that easily memorising, non-comprehending type of mind--a
degree at Oxford is particularly easy of attainment. (The University, by
the way, attracts very many coloured students, from India, from Africa, and
from other parts of the world.) The man, too, of real intelligence who is
willing to seek a degree in the manner of the Babu can easily fritter away
the most of his student hours at Oxford, and win through his examinations
by cramming at the last moment.

Since Oxford is so typical of the best of English life, it is fitting that
it should be a place of very sweet and dignified gardens. There is the
grandeur of elegant simplicity about Oxford gardens; and the Oxford
trees--beeches, elms, limes, oaks--are surely the finest in all the world.
Oxford history is curiously linked with trees. William of Waynflete
commanded that Magdalen be built against an oak that fell a hundred years
before, aged six hundred years. Sir Thomas Whiteway "learned in a dream" to
build a college where there was a "triple elm tree," and that fixed the
site of St. Thomas. To-day the green of the Spring in the precincts of
Trinity and Magdalen is a green which speaks of all peace and wise


So much space has been given to Oxford and Cambridge, where young England
receives the crowning garlands of the academies, that I can do no more than
briefly mention the great public schools: Eton, under the shadow of the
King's castle at Windsor; Harrow, on a hill a little apart from London;
Winchester, nestling in the valley where, if tradition can be trusted, King
Arthur once held a court; Rugby, in the Midlands, enjoying a sturdier
climate and giving to the world that very manly exercise, Rugby football.
These and others might each have a book to themselves with justice. But in
this volume we must move on to see something of adult England.



A good proportion of young English manhood after having passed through
their course of education at home are claimed away from their country. The
Indian Civil Service, the Services of the Crown Colonies, the Navy, the
Army garrisons abroad, the immigration demand of the Overseas'
Dominions--all these make a tax on the numbers of adult England; and
unfortunately the tax is much more heavy upon the numbers of males than of
females. Thus there is a great disproportion of sexes in England. The
females far outnumber the males, especially in the cities. But after all
the demands have been met, there are still some millions of Englishmen
left. Let us see the work they do, the home life they lead.


First of all, if a young Englishman is of the well-to-do order, and is
ambitious, he will strive to take some part in politics. He may not be born
to be a member of the House of Lords: and only six hundred or so of him can
hope to become members of the House of Commons. But there are numerous
other avenues of political activity, such as County Councils and Committees
of all kinds. It is a wholesome aspiration of the best type of Englishmen
to take some part, not necessarily a paid part, in the government and
administration of their country. The supreme ambition, then, of the young
Englishman may be said to be to work in the House of Commons; and that
keeps "the Mother of Parliaments," in spite of all that pessimists may say,
the leading legislative body of the world.

In its vast membership the House of Commons includes experts on every
subject under the sun. There is no topic of debate imaginable on which some
member cannot speak as a past-master. And the House insists that if you
wish to engage its attention you must have something to say. You may halt
or stumble in your speech, but you must have something to say or you will
fail to get a hearing, no matter how charmingly you may talk. That helps
the debate to a high level, discouraging talk for mere talk's sake.

"Mr. Speaker," who presides over the House of Commons, seems to be always a
genius in the art of managing a deliberative assembly. At any rate, one
never hears of a weak "Mr. Speaker." The present one takes it to be his
duty to suppress all irrelevance and all tediousness in debate. He insists
that a member shall say his say without circumlocution or repetition. With
the vigilance of a ratting terrier he watches for discursiveness, and
pounces upon the offender at once. I recollect a debate on the Indian
question, arising out of the House of Lords' amendments in an Indian
governing Councils Bill. All the speakers in the debate were experts with
an inside knowledge of Indian affairs. They all spoke with terseness and
directness. But there were, nevertheless, four interruptions from Mr.
Speaker, that "the hon. member was not sticking to the point at issue." In
each case you recognised that Mr. Speaker was right. In one case, and one
case only, did the rebuked member attempt to argue the point. "I was only
going to point out, Mr. Speaker," he started. The whole House rose against
him. "'Vide, 'Vide," they called from front and cross and back benches. He
attempted again, and again the cries of "'Vide" drowned his voice; and he
had to submit without argument. The House clearly believed in its tyrant.
It requires a curious sort of genius to be so able to "proof-read" a
current debate and hit at once on the first divergence into redundancy.

If a "Mr. Speaker" is to become a tradition as one of the greatest of the
many great Mr. Speakers, then he must have a sense of humour as well as a
gift of prompt decision. The present Mr. Speaker has that qualification. He
does not say "funny" things. But in almost every ruling and reproof there
is a slight flavour of fun. A rule of the House was made after the
"Suffragettes" made trouble once or twice in the chamber, that the Women's
Gallery, a curious gilded bird-cage perched up in the roof of the House,
should be open only to "relatives of members." Mr. Speaker was asked to
define what closeness of relation justified admission. "That," said Mr.
Speaker, "I must leave to the individual consciences of hon. members." The
House chuckled and understood that any respectable person could be counted
as a feminine relative for purposes of admission to the gallery.

For the student of the origins of the English-race it is interesting--and
quite easy of accomplishment if you have an acquaintance who is a member of
Parliament--to see the quaint ceremony in the Lords of the Royal Assent
being given to Bills. On the occasion on which I attended, the Chancellor
and two Peers, acting as Commissioners for the King, sat in solemn state,
the Chancellor finding obvious difficulty in accommodating both a huge wig
and a cocked hat on his head. To them entered as far as the Bar of the
House, on summons, some of the Commons, heralded by Black Rod and led by
the Speaker. The titles of the Bills were recited by a clerk, and, with
much ritual of bowing, the Royal Assent was granted in Norman French: "Le
Roy le veult." It was rather a pity that the Bills were painfully prosaic
ones, dealing with tramways and the like. The elaborate medieval ceremony
would have been more fitting to some great measure of statecraft. Still it
did not seem incongruous. That is a characteristic of London. It is a
medieval city modernised, but without the flavour of the medievalism being

Of course it is well known that the present are not the original Houses of
Parliament; it may not be so familiar a fact that Westminster Hall covers
the old site, and that tablets, let into its walls, mark the limits,
curiously small, of the old House of Commons. The King is supposed by
tradition to open Parliament in the Hall of Westminster on the old site of
the Commons. But to do so he would have to stand exactly on the spot where
King Charles I. rose to receive a death sentence from his revolted Commons;
and I think that lately our monarchs have shown sentimental objections to
this and have let tradition in the matter go.

The House of Lords and the House of Commons are built in the one straight
line, with the lobbies intervening. The King, when seated on the throne,
can see right through (all the doors being open) to the Speaker on his
chair some four hundred yards away. The Lords have the finer debating hall;
but the Commons, it is complained, monopolise all the comfortable smoking
and lounge rooms. Evidently they think that the noble lords have enough
comfort in their own homes.

Lately a committee of the Houses of Parliament have been discussing the
question of redecorating the buildings, and have come practically to the
conclusion to do nothing. In some of the halls mural paintings of a rather
astonishing kind, betraying a time when artistic standards were a little
lower than now, cover the panels. To fill the gaps with paintings of this
epoch would make for incongruity. To imitate the old-fashioned and rather
bad-fashioned existing panels does not seem advisable. So probably the
difficulty will be solved by doing nothing, unless a daring wight suggests
the painting out of some old work to make room for a complete set of modern
frescoes. Probably, if there were just now an unquestionably pre-eminent
British artist offering for the work, that would be done. As it is, the
Mother of Parliaments remains with some of her halls a little patchy in
decoration; some of them, indeed, a good deal ugly.

But, of course, governing the country is the business of the few. Tempting
though it is to linger on at Westminster, let us see other classes of
England at work. The historic industry of England is agriculture, and it is
to this day one of the most important, though a dwindling one lately.
Still, however, the English are an agricultural people; though it is around
the agriculture of a century ago that their affections are entwined.
Modern agriculture, nevertheless, hardly exists in England, neither in the
production of grain nor of fruit. The average orchard seems better designed
to be an insectarium for the cultivation of pests than for the growth of
good fruit. Straggling unkempt trees, growing for the most part their own
wild way, naturally do not produce like the well-disciplined trees of the
modern orchardist. But the soil is wondrous kind. That anything at all
should come of such culture, or neglect of culture, is to be explained by a
great graciousness of Nature.

Fruit is the text I take, because fruit is at once the worst example, and
the most obvious one. But in no branch of agriculture is there anything
approaching to modern scientific farming. Wheat-farming represents the
crown of agricultural achievement in England, and very good yields per acre
are garnered, because the tillage is careful, the manuring generous, the
climate favourable. But what gross waste of labour is involved in the
cultivation of these tiny fields, laboriously ploughed, in many instances
with a single furrow plough; sown by hand and often reaped, yes reaped,
with scythe-men and picturesque but unthrifty gathering of haymakers!

But there is this to be said for the old-fashioned English agriculture,
that it is very, very picturesque. The tiny hedge-divided fields, the
orchards in which the trees grow to forest dimensions, are far more
pleasing to the eye than the great, bare, wire-fence-divided wheat-fields
of Canada and Australia; or their orchards with close-clipped trees kept
working with all their might for a living and not allowed the luxury of a
single vagrant branch or the sight of any green carpet of grass beneath.
And, withal, in England, farming is not a commercial speculation
altogether. If it relied upon its commercial success, it would die out
almost completely. But the old landholders love their estates: the newly
rich, if they are of the English spirit, aspire to become landholders. Both
are usually content if from their agricultural estates they are able to
make the products pay a slight profit only.


The area under tillage shows, therefore, a tendency to dwindle, though
already it is very small, considering the thick population of the country.
Love of sport and love of seeing the woods in their wild state have always
set apart a great area of England for forest and for game preserve.
Nowadays we do not make a deer forest as roughly as did William the
Conqueror the New Forest for the sake of the deer "whom he loved as if he
had been their father." But somehow land passes out of cultivation to
become moorland or forest. These "waste lands" are far from being useless,
however. They graze ponies and cows; they are deer forests, grouse moors,
pheasant preserves, golf links. Land is more valuable for sport than for
agriculture, and therefore it drifts to the use of sport, and peasants make
way for pheasants.

A fine track of oak forest has been left at the Forest of Dean near the
borders of Wales--the finest forest tract probably in England. It is a wild
tract of steep hills covered with oaks, used for the building of the Navy
in the days before the wooden walls had given way to steel ramparts.

The fen areas alone are in course of reclamation from the wild to the
cultivated state. The work of bringing them back to usefulness was begun
under Charles I. by Dutch engineers. Now a great part of the old fen lands
are good productive meadows bounded by a network of dykes and drains, from
which the surplus of water is pumped into the channels of the Ouse and
other rivers, and so finds its way to the North Sea. Like the similar land
of Holland, these reclaimed fens are excellent for the culture of bulbs,
and Lincolnshire has made quite an industry of sending narcissi to the
London market.

Considering the Englishman at his work in other capacities, he is
iron-founder, pottery-maker, textile-weaver, miner, and of course sailor
and merchant. His work is characterised by a great solidness and honesty.
There is not much "gimcrack" work turned out in England. The spirit of her
workshops is to make things that will last, not short-life tools and
machines, such as some other peoples love. Indeed they do say that the
idols made at Birmingham--a large proportion of the idols for the heathens
of the world are made at Birmingham--are made so solidly as to suggest that
the manufacturers have grave doubts about Paganism being supplanted among
their customers for some generations.

Occasionally, indeed, one is tempted to believe that the Englishman loves
work for work's own sake. I concluded this on first landing at Liverpool,
when it took an hour's effort, on an average, for each passenger from the
mail steamer to sort out his luggage. At Euston at least another half-hour
was wasted in the same way. All that might have been avoided by a luggage
check system such as prevails in Australia, America, and other countries.
But evidently the English character for steady energy and stolid good
humour is built up partly by following the sport of luggage-hunting.

The English public and semi-public service, which gives to the visitor the
first view of the Englishman at work, is simply beyond praise. In the
railway service, the civility of the guards and porters, the neatness, the
quiet energy of the drivers and firemen, are notable. In most countries
railway engines seem always dirty and ill-kept. In England they are bright
and clean. That shows a workman's pride in his work and its instruments. It
is the man with the clean engines who is going to win through in the end.

I have a means of comparison of the public service in the United States and
in England. In New York a letter addressed to me at a newspaper office went
astray through a clerk refusing to take it in. I inquired for it at the New
York Central Post Office: was--not very civilly--referred to the
particular district post office which had attempted to deliver the letter.
A clerk there could not see that anything could be done--"the letter would
be opened, probably, and returned to the writer.... Perhaps if I applied at
the Washington Dead Letter Office it would do some good." I applied by
letter (unanswered), then personally, and was told in a tired way that the
matter would be looked into and I should be communicated with in London.
That is the last I ever heard of the matter.

Now in London one morning I left a small despatch case in a motor omnibus.
Reporting to Scotland Yard, I stated that the papers in the portfolio were
important and their recovery urgent. The police officer at once volunteered
to wire round to every police station in the metropolitan district (200 of
them), reporting the loss and asking that word should be at once sent if
the article were handed in. Before eleven that night a police officer
called at my house with a despatch from Scotland Yard that the case had
been found.

"The public good" depends largely on the efficiency of the public service.
It can never be real when the Government and the instruments of the
Government are careless of the people's convenience. The efficiency of the
Post Office, the police, and the park servants in England is great proof of
a sound national spirit.

When the Englishman is through with his work--whether it be the large and
dignified work of administering his Empire, or the smaller task of driving
a tram--he goes home; and he is not a really happy Englishman, whatever his
class, if his home has not at least the sight of a green tree. He is
willing, even if he is poor and condemned to work long hours, to travel
long distances each day so that he may have at the end of his work a home
to come to which will please his love of green England.

Having noted that the Englishman's home is, whenever possible, adorned with
a little bit of green garden, step over its threshold and consider its
domestic economy; that is to say, see the Englishwoman at her special work.
This must be done by classes.

In the wealthiest class the house is perfectly managed. It seems to run
like the fabled machine of perpetual motion. There is no sign of the
driving-power, no racket, no effort. Breakfast is a meal of charming
informality, which, I think, illustrates best the domestic ideals of the
Englishman. Self-help from amply furnished sideboards and from tea and
coffee urns is the rule. There is no fixed moment for coming to breakfast,
and, since you help yourself, no servants need to be in attendance. How
pleasantly thought-out is this idea! You have not the urging to an
inconvenient punctuality of the thought that you are keeping servants
waiting. Dinner is a ceremony of ritual. It is the social crown of the day.
You are expected to treat it with the considerateness due to its
importance. To be asked to dinner is the sign of the Englishman's complete
acceptance of you as a desirable person. (He may ask you to lunch without
admitting quite as much.) To be asked, casually, "to eat with us" at dinner
time shows a degree of friendliness which is willing to allow some

It is because the luxury of upper-class life in England is so suave and so
refined that it does not challenge antagonism as does the arrogant wealth
of other lands. An English manor house, such as Stoke Court--once upon a
time the house of the poet Grey--is, from its beautiful surroundings to the
last detail of a curtain, as fine a product as civilisation can show. And
the Englishman's home is for himself, his friends, and, in so far as it can
claim to be of any public interest, for the enjoyment also of the mass of
his fellow-countrymen.

The casual traveller through London may, on several days of the year, see a
great crowd of omnibuses and drags outside Buckingham Palace, and learn
that the grounds of the King's palace had been that day thrown open to the
public. To a large extent the royal palaces thus welcome the people as
guests; and the great houses of the nobility, which have fine collections
of paintings, are in very many cases treated as semi-public institutions.
This shows a fine public spirit and feeling of common patriotism between

The middle class fashions itself, as closely as it can, on the upper class.
Its home is often as admirably managed, though on a smaller scale. Its
observance of etiquette is more rigid, especially in the "lower middle
class." Smooth home-management is the Englishman's (or the Englishwoman's)
gift. The domestic economy of the country cottager seems generally good,
but the city worker often makes the mistake of trying to ape the standards
of richer people, sacrificing a good deal of material comfort to have, for
instance, his "drawing-room" or parlour.

But on the whole the Englishman's home proves as high a standard of taste
and good feeling as the twentieth century can offer. It is a fine reward
for the work-doer, a fine fortress from which to issue forth to work. Let
us now see England at play.




"These English take their pleasures sadly," said a French wit. It was a
misunderstanding of the national expression. The Englishman takes his
pleasures not sadly but resolutely. It is a holiday. He is out to enjoy
himself. He _will_ enjoy himself whatever the obstacles. There is a grim
resolve in his mind. But he is not sad: he is resolutely merry. That look
on his face is not agony; it is stern determination.

I have seen Hampstead Heath on the midsummer Bank Holiday. A frowning sky,
a bleak wind, and occasional gusty showers of rain declared the day to be
not of midsummer and not suitable to open-air holiday. But the East End was
not to be deterred from merriment. "London's playground" was like a huge
ant-hill with swarming holiday-makers, and all had made up their dogged
English minds to rejoice and be merry. That was apparent from the first.

In the "Tube" railways girls of from sixteen to sixty--all girly--giggled
hilariously at everything and anything and nothing. "It's from the other
side" announced one on the train platform; and this fact about the train's
going was greeted with shouting laughter, and the "joke" went round a
widening circle of rippling merriment. On the road, the coster's cart,
loaded with Mr. and Mrs. Coster and a group of Costerlings--the
numerousness of which said "no race suicide here"--scattered abroad song,
vociferous if not tuneful. When a shower came the song grew louder, as
though to smother the weather.

Commerce helped the people's resolve to be gay. You could buy a bag of
confetti for a halfpenny; for the same sum a stick adorned with bright
paper streamers, or a tuft of gorgeously-dyed flax. A penny provided a
tartan cap in paper, wearing which one might be quite ridiculously gay. The
oceans had been dredged and the earth rifled for the people's holiday.
Shellfish of all sorts, bananas from the West Indies, plums from Spain,
roses from Kent and Surrey, pine-apple tinned at Singapore, bright nacre
shells from Australian beaches, little love-birds from Papua trained as
"fortune-tellers" to pick out a paper telling you of the happiness in store
for you--all these were at your service; and the standard price was one
penny. A few coppers opened up for the holiday Englishman the resources of
a whole Empire.

Over all lowered a grey sky. But what mattered that! The factory girls
danced on the gravel paths to the music of barrel organs (sometimes,
indeed, of the humble mouth organ), danced often with verve, and always
with hilarity. The Australian larrikin and his "donah" dance at "down the
harbor" picnics with a fixed solemnity of face, as if performing some weird
corybantic rite. The London coster and his girl are determinedly merry. The
merriment may be in some cases forced, but it is forced with grit. A dance
on the road is broken up to allow a cart to slowly creep past. It is
resumed with perfect good humour, and with the same gay whoops.

Yet there is nothing orgiastic in the merriment. Among the many many
thousands you may notice here and there a man and--far worse
sight--occasionally a girl the worse for drink, prompting the thought that
if public opinion won't keep women out of the bars the licensing law
should; but the great mass of the crowd is quite sober: the merriment is
not vinous.

If dancing, shouting, or "spooning"--discouraged neither by the gaze of the
public nor the dampness of the weather--did not amuse, there were more
intellectual amusements. You might have your head read for a penny, your
character diagnosed by your eye for the same sum; or you might see an old
man making a fairly good pretence of hanging himself, and he left it to
your honesty to subscribe the penny.

The Englishman take his pleasures sadly? Not a bit of it. That roar from
the Old Bull and Bush, the crackling laughter around all the booths and
from all the crowded paths, tell that the Englishman can become very gay on
quite slight encouragement.

A day at Southend, another great "popular place of amusement," gives the
same impression of resolute gaiety. A good-humoured crowd packs the
cheap-trip trains. There are more passengers than seats; and young fellows
take it amiably in turn to stand, leaving the elders and the womenfolk to
sit throughout. At Southend there is no beach, as one understands the term
elsewhere--a scimitar curve of gleaming sand on which blue waves break,
showing their white teeth in smiles. The "beach" is just a flat, which at
high tide the sea covers, to leave it at low tide a wide muddy expanse of
marshy soil. But the seaside trippers make the best of it. The cliffs are
thronged with happy picnickers. The beach is dotted with waders, who go out
many hundreds of yards along the wet flat, and in some mysterious way enjoy
themselves. Where at last the water starts there are bathers disporting
from boats. A pier which stretches out its long straightness and suggests a
task rather than a pleasure, is filled with happy promenaders, who sniff up
the smell of the seaweed and recognise it as ozone. They mostly wear
yachting caps, or some other costume sign of the seaside, and an air of
nautical adventure.

Yes, the Englishman has a great faculty of enjoying himself. I am indeed
struck, in many aspects of life, at the Englishman's faculty of being
cheerful under what one would consider depressing conditions. The
Englishman does not hesitate to take his girl to the cemetery to court her.
A London friend asked me, with real enthusiasm, to look at the "fine view"
from his flat, and it looked out on an old Plague Cemetery, where the
victims of the London plague nourish the green of the trees. The Englishman
take his pleasures sadly? Rather he takes his sadnesses pleasurably.

It is the Englishman of the industrial classes I have pictured amusing
himself. As to the richer folk, is there anything fresh to be said? Does
not every one at least think that he knows? Have not "society" novelists
innumerable, from "Ouida" downwards, given us studies of English "society"
people at play, making the home life of the duke open for inspection by the
meanest intelligence? Are there not numberless penny and halfpenny papers
carrying on the good work to this day?

If one can contrive to put out of one's mind all that nonsense and observe
with intelligence, one will find that the middle-class Englishman and the
rich Englishman amuse themselves after very much the same manner as do the
people of the poorer classes. They refine on the methods, but the spirit
is the same. At heart, the Englishman of all classes loves feasting and
boisterous jollity. Education and breeding may modify his tastes, but they
are still there. _Au fond_, the typical Englishman likes best a joke that
has a savour of the "practical" in it. Give him his natural rein, and
duke's son, cook's son--if there are any English cooks left to have
sons--will lightly incline his thoughts to horseplay when he wishes to be
genuinely amused.

Yet perhaps this, too, passes. I remember thinking so, Lord Mayor's Day
1909, when the procession through the city proved to be not a "show," but a
display of the defence guards of the nation. Perhaps this may be taken as a
hint of a growing earnestness in English life, of a recognition of stern
struggles to come and only to be met with resolved and steady vigour. It
had, of a surety, some significance--the sudden casting off on the city's
great festival day of an old habit of childish play and the putting in its
place of a display of soldiers and sailors, and boys who will one day be
soldiers and sailors. Of some significance, too, was the ready, popular
acquiescence in the change. Crowds that had been for years regaled on such
occasions with broad pantomime, all fun and levity, were faced of a sudden
with serious drama--soldiers in glittering mail, still more impressive
soldiers in uniforms of the colour of earth; Boy Scouts playing at being
soldiers and enjoying the most wholesome game; war paraphernalia of wagons
and field telegraphs and field hospitals, and guns of all kinds, from the
great mastiff siege-guns drawn by eight horses, which the Navy taught the
Army to make mobile, down to the vicious little terrier pom-poms. And the
people cheered the change. There was no hint at a protest against the
departure from the stage of the old vanities. After a quieter method than
that which came of Savonarola's teaching, but none the less surely, they
had gone to destruction, and in their place was a dutiful parade of
citizens armed for the defence of their homes: and the people approved. The
Balaclava veterans and the Boy Scouts shared the honours of the day. Gog
and Magog were not; but the crowd would have its symbolism, and cheered the
ideal of tried valour, the ideal of aspiring youth, as they saw them
seriously personified.

[Illustration: CRICKET AT LORD'S]

In 1910 and 1911 there was the same "sober-minded" Lord Mayor's Day; and
the old pantomime procession clearly will never be revived. Perhaps now the
English nation is at last "growing up" to be too old for such elemental
humours. If so, does the fact speak for good augury or evil augury? I
wonder. A well-known Scottish artist of the day, who lives in Paris
"because it is the place for all rebels and all ideas," and sells his
pictures in London and America, told me once very solemnly, "When the
English people get artistic and witty they are going to go down. It is the
Philistinism of England that proves her national strength and sanity." I
reassured him by telling him that most of the statues erected in England
nowadays were those of men in trousers, and we were comforted to think that
there was still enough of Philistinism in England to keep her safe and
sound. But it does look as though the Englishman were losing his enjoyment
of primitive humour when he vetoes Gog and Magog on Lord Mayor's Day. Also
he begins to live in hotels and to dine at restaurants when he is not
travelling. Yes, on the surface all peoples grow sadly alike, and that
charm of travel which comes from the stimulating contact of the mind with
the more obvious differences between lands and peoples threatens to vanish
in a generation or two, through the fashion of admiring all countries but
one's own spreading, and through each country learning to imitate some
other. Still, the threat has been often made before without justifying
itself. In Shakespeare's time it was Italy

    Whose manners still our tardy apish nation
    Limps after in base imitation.

But we did not in the end become Italians. In spite of surface imitations
the deeper differences which come from the tap-roots of nations remain.

The Lord Mayor's Day of the old style of buffoonery is dead. But there is,
on the other hand, a movement in England nowadays--a happy and wholesome
movement--to revive the festivities of May Day, which once was the great
festival of the country-side. The old chronicles in their descriptions of
May Day rejoicings provide a very delectable picture. This from Bourne:--

     On the calends or first of May, commonly called May
     Day, the Juvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise
     a little after midnight and walk to some neighbouring
     wood accompanied with music and blowing of horns, where
     they break down branches of trees and adorn them with
     nosegays and crowns of flowers; when this is done they
     return homewards about the rising of the sun and make
     their doors and windows to triumph with their flowery
     spoils and the after part of the day is chiefly spent
     in dancing round a tall pole, called a May-pole and
     being placed in a convenient part of the village stands
     there, as it were consecrated to the Goddess of Flowers
     without the least violation being offered to it in the
     whole circle of the year.

Stubbes, writing in 1595, describes closely the bringing home of the

     Against May Day ... every parish, towne or village
     assemble themselves, both men, women and children and
     either all together or dividing themselves into
     companies, they goe some to the woods and groves some
     to the hills and mountains where they spend all the
     night in pleasant pastime and in the morning return
     bringing with them birch boughs and branches of trees
     to deck their assemblies withal. But their chiefest
     jewel they bring thence is the Maie pole which they
     bring home with great veneration as thus--they have
     twentie to fortie yoake of oxen, every oxe having a
     sweet nosegaie of flowers tied to the top of his horns,
     and these oxen draw home the Maypoale which they
     covered all over with flowers and herbes bound round
     with strings from the top to the bottome and sometimes
     it was painted with colours, having two or three
     hundred men, women and children following in great
     devotion.... Then fall they to banquetting and
     feasting, to leaping and dancing about it, as heathen
     people did at the dedication of their idols.

Hall, in his _Chronicle_ of the time of Henry VIII., tells how the feast of
May Day was sometimes accompanied by a kind of historical pageant. This is
from his description of a May Day in the seventh year of the reign of Henry

     The King and Queen accompanied with many lordes and
     ladies rode in the high ground of Shooter's Hill to
     take the open air and as they passed by the way they
     espied a company of tall yeomen clothed all in green
     with green whodes and bows and arrowes to the number of
     two hundred. Then one of them which called himself
     Robin Hood came to the King, desiring him to see his
     men shoot, and the King was content. Then he whistled
     and all the two hundred archers shot and losed at once
     and then he whistled again and they likewise shot
     again, their arrows whistled by craft of the head, so
     that the noise was strange and great and much pleased
     the company. All these archers were of the King's guard
     and had thus apparelled themselves to make solace to
     the King. Then Robin Hood desired the King and Queen to
     come into the green wood and to see how the outlaws
     live. The King demanded of the Queen and her ladies if
     they durst venture to go into the wood with so many
     outlawes. Then the Queen said that if it pleased him
     she was content, then the horns blew till they came to
     the wood under Shooter's Hill, and there was an arbour
     made of bows with a hall and a great chamber and an
     inner chamber very well made and covered with flowers
     and herbes which the King much praised. Then said Robin
     Hood, Sir, outlaw's breakfast is venison and therefore
     you must be content with such fare as we use. Then the
     King and Queen sat down and were served with venison
     and wine by Robin Hood and his men. Then the King
     departed and his company and Robin Hood and his men
     them conducted.

I have spoken, so far, of "amusement" only. There are other forms of play.
There is "sport." Now sport must not be considered an amusement merely in
England. It is a vital absorbing affair of life, a "bemusement" rather.
Some serious-minded folk in London still tell, with deprecation, of
incidents of the time of the South African War, when the evening newspaper
contents bills showed that there was a keener attraction for coppers in
news of the cricket matches than in news of the campaign. But even these
serious-minded people themselves probably have often bought a paper which
recorded a century in a Test Match in preference to one which gave some
news of national importance; and have murmured to themselves in excuse
something that the dour old Duke of Wellington probably never said, about
the Battle of Waterloo having been won on the playing fields of Eton.

"Sport," indeed, is so much a part of English life that it could never be
uprooted without making some vital change in the national character--and,
perhaps, not a change for the better.

One thing the passion for sport does give to the Englishman, and that is a
passion for fair play. There is not in any other nation of the world such
a nice sense of manly honour. "Give him a sporting chance" means that you
must take no unfair advantage of an enemy. "Take it like a sport" means
that you must not be merely a cheerful winner, but must be ready to face
losses and set-backs with equanimity.

When the small English boy goes to school the question is solemnly asked as
to what sports he will take up. This is of at least equal importance with
the other question as to what professional or business career he will
follow in the future. Often it is counted of greater moment. Will the
youngster be good at cricket, or football, or rowing? On that hinges the
degree of his greatness in his world's estimation for quite a number of
years. Cricket is, on the whole, the most important. To be a classic bat,
to be a deadly slow bowler, or a still more deadly fast bowler--that is
greatness for the young man. The cricket matches between the great public
schools, the universities, the counties, are the chief pre-occupation of a
large proportion of England during the summer months. Football grips more
among the industrial classes, cricket more among the professional and
administrative classes. Between them they keep a great part of England
excited from one year's end to the other.

There are, of course, other sports of the schools--running, jumping, lawn
tennis, hockey and the like. But they usually are just allowed to fill in
gaps between cricket and football. Manhood, however, adds to the list of
sports largely. There is golf. "If you find that golf interferes with your
business, give up your business," runs a popular gibe. It accentuates,
without misrepresenting acutely, the attitude taken up by very many
Englishmen and Englishwomen on the subject of golf. They live in a district
because of its golf facilities, shape their holiday resorts by the golf
they offer, reckon their days by the chances they offer for golf.

Horse-racing is another great English sport, in which few take an active
part, but in which a vast multitude has a share of interest either as
spectators or as speculators. It claims such a huge share of English
attention that one definition of the English is, "a horse-racing nation";
and wherever an English town is built in any part of the world it will have
a race-course almost as soon as it has a church and a school. The various
race-meetings throughout the year in England vary in their social
character. The Derby is a great popular event, to see which the East End of
London pours itself out on the Surrey roads. Goodwood, on the other hand,
is very much a "society" meeting.

The tale is not yet complete. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of
Englishmen find it necessary to life to disport on water during the
summer--yachting, skiff-rowing, punting, or canoeing. Hunting is mostly the
sport of the well-to-do, though an otter-hunt calls a whole country-side to
its excitement, demanding of no one either that he should be mounted or
that he should be rich.

Fox-hunting is of the very marrow of the English character. "The
unspeakable pursuing the uneatable," said Wilde savagely of the English
squire pursuing the fox; and thereby proved his utter un-Englishness. To
sneer at fox-hunting! It is a step towards atheism. Once upon a time I
remember going out into the yard of a little village public-house on the
Monaro (Australia) and seeing chained up in the yard a fox. I stopped to
ask why, and the groom told me of an English tourist who had also inquired
as to the fox, and who had learned incidentally that poison was laid for
foxes on the Monaro because they had become a pest; and, so learning, had
set his face at once away from a land where such barbarities were possible.
He did not reckon his own life safe, I suppose, in a country where foxes
were poisoned.


The pheasant _battues_, which are one of the autumn games of the rich in
England, I would hardly dignify as "sport." They are the growth of the
recent times of great fortunes, and scarcely a wholesome sign, I think.
Grouse-shooting _en battue_ is more tolerable as a sport, for at least the
birds are wild-bred.

But one may not even catalogue all the sports of England in a chapter. I
find that fishing--in all its phases: salmon, trout, deep-sea, and the
rest--asks attention, and may not have it. One final note: the Englishman,
for all his present sports, is hospitable to welcome others, and often
takes them up to excel in them. In flying, for instance, the Englishman is
beginning now to take a place after the French. And I can recollect, as
late as the end of 1909, a Flying Meeting at Doncaster at which not a
single Englishman took the air. Within a little more than two years what a

That Doncaster Flying Meeting was the first ever held in England, and I was
one of those who travelled up to see the strange fowl in the air, birds of
the growth of the fabled roc winging steady flights around the field once
sacred to the horse. Badly treated by the weather, the "First Flying
Meeting in England" faced an outlook which was not too cheerful. Over a
sodden ground a grey sky lowered threateningly, and gusty winds, blowing
hither and thither, threatened storms. The great "birds" nestled within
their sheds, and a nervous committee went round lifting questioning hands
to the sky. If this day were a fiasco the meeting was ruined, and the
horses of Doncaster would have the laugh over their strange rivals.

Then the sun came out. The wind dropped to a zephyr's lightness. There
seemed no reason why the men should not fly, and they could fly. Whispers
went round hinting at delays which were condemnable because avoidable if
they were real. An official suggested that aviators had all the tricks and
uncertainties of the indispensable _prima donna assoluta_; that they had to
be humoured to take the stage when the call-bell rang. Devout prayers were
muttered for the day when aviation would be as common in England as
trick-cycling and stout, bejewelled promoters of flying meetings would
lounge haughtily in front of a long _queue_ of humble applicants for a
chance to appear, and country hotel-keepers would, with most particular
care, exact payment in advance from poor "artists" in flying who, in the
event of a bad season, had such inconvenient facilities for escaping
without footing the score. That time has almost come in England to-day. But
then in 1909 public and managers had to wait patiently on the gentlemen who
had improved on Prometheus and, harnessing the fire that he stole from
above, dared the assault of the very heavens.

Finally the flying did begin. But it was all by Frenchmen on French
machines. There was the Blériot, aptly to be compared in shape to a
dragon-fly; the Farman, a long box trailing a baby box in its wake. The
Blériot suggests a successful wooing, the Farman a scientific conquest, of
the air. The one soars and swoops and skims actually like a bird, the other
progresses with scientific and mathematical precision. One might imagine a
respectable barn-door fowl brood-mother, resting a while after the arduous
labours of the pheasant season, speculating dismally on the prospects of
being called upon to hatch out a brood of aeroplanes, and resolving to
accept with resignation a clutch of Blériots but to draw the line firmly at
Farmans. No respectable fowl could give even the kinship of adoption to a
flying contrivance that suggests so strongly a collection of egg-boxes.

Since then Englishmen have learned to fly, and aeroplaning is becoming one
of the national sports. Also I see in some of the papers that because at
the last Olympic Games England got more of the dust than of the laurels,
the Englishman must set to work to learn to throw the javelin and the
discus farther than any one else; and I believe that a section of him will
accept the direction to do this and do it quite earnestly. So the
Englishman who practises at football, cricket, hunting, sailing, rowing,
fishing, running, walking, flying, shooting, must also learn to throw
strange things great distances. Withal he has his work to do, and some time
to give to the enjoyment of the beauty of his most beautiful England. A
wonderful people of a wonderful country!



There are so many great cities and historic towns in England that a mere
guide-book enumeration of the chief of them would fill many pages--in
rather a dull fashion. I shall not attempt that, but will take the reader
for a brief glance at some of the more notable centres of population.

In the beginning there is, of course, London--the capital of the world, the
centre from which has sprung most of the great movements of the Christian
era for the betterment of humanity, the magnet which draws to-day the best
of the world's thought and energy. To have the best introduction to London
I should like to think of the visitor coming upon it, as I did for the
first time, in the "small hours" of a clear May morning. A drive through
its streets then was a sheer delight. Hushed they were and solemn, the
torrents of trade stilled for a few hours. But the soul of London was
awake, though its busy material life for a brief time was asleep. The great
grey old city was peopled with ghosts. Through the empty streets paced
London's great men since Cæsar, some native and to the land born, others
foreign, finding in England hospitality whether they came as poor refugees
or as noble visitors. From the houses walked out memories and traditions in
spectral hordes. The buildings themselves, mostly of the white freestone of
Bath, which with London smoke becomes a dull black, and then with London
showers learns to show here and there a patch of ghostly white, lent
themselves to the fancy of a city of dreams. The architecture was
disembodied, and floated in the air; the shadows of venerable churches and
institutions were a background to shadows of great men and noble women.

In time I came in front of the Houses of Parliament, the shrine of
representative government. Yonder, looming high in the pale early morning
light, was the Nelson Monument, and stretching from it the Strand, leading
to Fleet Street, whence issued the first newspapers of European
civilisation. Near by Westminster Abbey lifted its grey fane in praise and
prayer. This indeed seemed the very centre and capital of the world.

If you cannot so enter London for the first time, when its busy traffic is
hushed, and the first pale glow of a spring dawn is in the sky, be heedful
that some night you will give up thoughts of your couch to taste that joy.
Wander then down Pall Mall, home of magnificent clubs, after the last late
reveller has been taken to his cab, past the National Gallery, the Church
of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields (a wondrous beautiful church by moonlight or
first-dawn light), through Trafalgar Square, and along the Strand to
Wellington Street. Cross the Thames by Waterloo Bridge, turning a blind eye
to the electric signs that are now allowed to disfigure the south river
front, and see the great sweep, right and left, of the Thames Embankment,
and then look up in the sky to see the dome of St. Paul's afloat there.
Recrossing the bridge, go to the left until Westminster Bridge is reached,
and look there for the Houses of Parliament and, a little away from the
river, the Abbey of Westminster. Then turn into Bird-Cage Walk by the side
of St. James's Park and cross that park by the only path open at night,
which will take you across the lake by a little footbridge. From the middle
of that footbridge, looking towards the Horse Guards, there is, by night, a
view as poetic as any that Venice can show: of the still lake fringed with
woods, and--apparently rising up from its very marge--the Horse Guards, and
the palaces which shelter the officials of the great public departments.


Most of London is beautiful at any hour. All of it, even to the most sordid
parts, is beautiful at the fall of evening or the first glance of the
morning. And there is always intruding into the commonplace of the
twentieth century some touch of ancientry, some hint of romance. I can
recall once finding a note of beauty in that least likely of all places,
London Dock. It was an autumn dawn so grey and chill that the pungent smell
of a cargo of pepper from one of the wharves brought a welcome sense of
warmth. I was wandering about aimlessly when, in a dirty little basin of
muddy water in the Wapping corner of the docks, I suddenly came upon a
white swan swimming with placid disregard of its utter incongruousness
there. In the grey morning, in that grey water, surrounded by the murk of
industrialism at its ugliest, the white swan was as startling as a ghost.
When, as I looked upon it, the air was suddenly pierced by the crisp,
urgent note of a bugle calling the _réveillé_, I felt sure for a moment
that this was an uneasy dream bringing into the sordid grey of life a
thread of white and silver from the days of jousts and pageantry. But no,
the swan was real enough; the mystery of the bugle-call was that the docks
were under the shadow of the Tower of London, which relieves with its
splendidly preserved Norman keep a busy quarter of London from
architectural dullness.

But the chief charm of London is, without a doubt, its parks and open
places, of which there are some three hundred. Indeed, of the total area of
London a full tenth is park land, and the civic authorities are adding to
the park area, not lessening it.

Nothing that one could say would exaggerate the beauty of these parks in
spring and summer. The grass lawns--delicately smooth, of a glowing green
that seems to be suffused with light and starred with little white daisies,
suggest a bright firmament, the emerald sky of a fairy tale with daisies
to make its Milky Way. The trees are full of their own rustling song and of
the clear soprano notes of crowding birds. The flower-beds flaunt a
constantly changing bravery of colour. All the plants are bedded out in
full bloom. The cost must be enormous, but the Londoner pays it cheerfully,
and these city parks provide the people with gayer gardens than have any of
the great nobles.

For the gardens are the people's. On the dainty grass the children of the
poor sprawl and play contentedly. In the ponds and streamlets, beside
which, in the old days, kings sauntered, the youngsters of the slums fish
with bent pins or scoop with small nets for small fish. The rangers are the
friends of the people, and will help a little kiddie to a patch where
daisies may be picked for daisy-chains. The trees are all a-twitter with
songsters. In the ponds and streams a gorgeous variety of water-fowl
display themselves--giant white pelicans, filled with a smug and
hypocritical satisfaction at the mistaken reputation they have won for
benevolence; black swans from Australia and white swans of this country;
all manner of ducks and geese and teal. Children bring crumbs and feed
these birds, and also the pigeons, which in consequence reach a bloated
size and can hardly waddle out of the way of the horsemen who canter along
the soft tracks laid out for cavaliers in Hyde Park.


The aloofness from the city's turmoil of the London parks is wonderful.
Matthew Arnold noted it in Kensington Gardens:--

    In this lone, open glade I lie,
    Screen'd by deep boughs on either hand;
    And at its end, to stay the eye,
    Those black-crown'd, red-boled pine-trees stand!

    Birds here make song, each bird has his,
    Across the girdling city's hum.
    How green under the boughs it is!
    How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!

    Sometimes a child will cross the glade
    To take his nurse his broken toy;
    Sometimes a thrush flit overhead
    Deep in her unknown day's employ.

    Here at my feet what wonders pass,
    What endless, active life is here!
    What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!
    An air-stirr'd forest, fresh and clear.

The art of designing city parks of this kind seems to be exclusively
English. In other parts of the world there are magnificent parks, but
nowhere the little bit of woodland planted in the heart of a city.

Though London is the greatest industrial city of the world, it does not
succeed in being sordid-looking or mean. But the Midlands--where are the
new great manufacturing cities--are frankly horrible, grimy city following
grimy city, the pavements seeming never to end, the suburbs of one town
stretching out lank arms to greet those of another.

When rain sets in, the sordidness of these towns is complete. Thickly
growing chimneys take the place of trees, and from the tops of their great
harsh trunks float thin wisps of black foliage. The streets are of a
miserable muddiness which bemires without softening the hardness of the
pavements. Through the smoky, dirty, wet air pallid faces loom. The very
meat in the shops has no red wholesomeness, but looks pallid and anæmic;
that, I suppose, is really due to the fact that the Midlands so largely eat
pork, but it pleases me to imagine that the inanimate stuff also feels the
depression of this smoke-palled district and knows not the red of life.

But much of the evil is curable. Sheffield is a brighter, more sunny town
than most in the Midlands because its authorities insist on something being
done to mitigate the smoke nuisance. In most of the other towns factory and
workshop can pour out unchecked their defiling streams, poisoning the air
and darkening the sky so that the birds leave the district in despair, and
no green thing flourishes and men grow pale and unwholesome. Now that is
being changed, and the Midland cities are beginning to claim their share of
the heritage of English beauty.

Away from the actual new manufacturing towns there are none without some
beauty. Durham in the north perches grandly on its river, and the
river-front shows off well the impressive Cathedral. York, with its famous
Minster, has been already noted in another chapter. To Stratford-on-Avon,
the birthplace of Shakespeare, all visitors to England go, but some English
people are beginning to resent the commercial spirit which makes it purely
a "show" town, with fees payable for this and that at every turn.

A town not too "hackneyed" but full of historical interest is St. Albans,
the Verulam of the Romans, with its fine Abbey Church overlooking hill and
field. The path past that church was a wide-paved Roman road once, and by
the vicarage foundations of Roman chambers and mosaics are found. Some two
thousand years ago St. Albans was a stronghold of the Britons, protected
naturally on two sides by marsh and river; adding to those natural defences
an artificial ditch, earthworks, and a palisade. It had to stand an
onslaught of the Roman invaders, and, of course, fell. Before that
Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni, had laid the town waste--Boadicea of whom
Cowper sang:--

    When the British warrior Queen,
      Bleeding from the Roman rods,
    Sought, with an indignant mien,
      Counsel of her country's gods.

Poor Boadicea: if she suffered all that is said, "an indignant mien" would
seem to be a weak description of her state of mind; but a rhyme was
necessary. This more or less historical Amazon of early Britain has now a
statue to her memory on Westminster Bridge. (And, by the way, London has
yet to learn--and might learn from Paris--how to utilise the artistic
possibilities of bridges.)


But to return to St. Albans. The Watling Street of the Romans from London
to Chester ran through this town. After the departure of the Roman legions,
St. Albans suffered a long siege at the hands of the Anglo-Saxon invaders.
Sacked and left in ruins it became a stronghold for outlaws. Then the
Church came with holy balm, and the foundation of a monastery gave St.
Albans peace.

Chester, where the Watling Street of the Romans ended, is to-day one of the
most picturesque of English cities. Its old timbered houses and arcaded
streets give it a mediæval air, which is jealously preserved in all
restoration work. Bath is another city of Roman antiquity. Portions of the
Roman baths still exist there, and the existence of a great modern spa
shows that the doctors of to-day endorse the opinion of their colleagues of
the days of Cæsar. Apart from its medicinal waters, Bath is a very
beautiful town, the architectural treatment of its hill-sides being most
effective. In an earlier century it was a great resort of fashion, and
there reigned Beau Nash, the Exquisite. To-day Bath is less popular, but
not less deserving of favour, and an effort is being made to restore its
old glories. Winchester, another Roman town, an old capital of the
kingdom, and the reputed capital of King Arthur, where the "curfew bell"
still rings, should be among the first three of the cities of England
visited. From there it would be well to go west to ramble through Plymouth,
a naval port full of memories of Francis Drake and other gallants of the
glorious Elizabethan days. Bristol then claims a day; also Rochester, which
has the second oldest cathedral in England, and which has a new source of
interest in that it is emphatically, after London, the Dickens city.
Canterbury should have more than a day, for it is a link between Briton
England and Roman England, and then between Briton England and Saxon
England. (Between Dover and Canterbury was the first line of resistance to
the Roman invaders, and again to the Saxon invaders.) There Bertha, the
first Christian Queen of Kent, worshipped in the little Church of St.
Michael. There St. Augustine christened Ethelbert of Kent, founded a
monastery, ordained a bishop (1300 years ago), and set the foundations of
the first Christian cathedral in England. There, too, À Becket shed his
blood; and there is the shrine of the Black Prince.

Salisbury, with its cathedral, must not be missed. It was a great fortified
town once, and Pepys records in his Diary:--

     So over the plain by sight of the steeple to Salisbury
     by night; but before I came to the town, I saw a great
     fortification, and alighted, and to it, and in it, and
     find it so prodigious so as to fright me to be in it
     all alone at that time of night, it being dark. I
     understand since it to be that that is called Old

The remains of Old Sarum are the fragments of a great feudal castle and
keep. It was these ruined walls and yawning ditches which sent two members
to Parliament until the Reform Act of 1832. To the present day Salisbury is
a central point in the military defences of England, the chief
training-grounds for troops being at Salisbury Plain.



There is no spot in England more than sixty miles away from the sea as the
crow flies. So the land gives no room for great river systems. But the
larger rivers are navigable to a more than ordinary degree, because they
run their courses gently. Reinforcing the rivers are hundreds of charming
streams. By the side of these rivers and streams is to be found the most
charming scenery of the English country-side.


A typical English stream takes its course--shallow at the outset, deepening
its bed as it nears the sea--through meadows which bring their green to the
very edge of its sparkling water, past trees which take the caress of the
water with their roots and give it back in kisses from their leafy
branches. Rarely does the English stream have a ravine to pass through:
generally the ravine has been softened to a gentle valley, with a wooded
hill rising steeply on one side, a marshy meadow stretching away on the
other. These marshes are flecked in proper season with most beautiful
golden and blue and purple flowers, and fringed with handsome sedges. When
it is meadow-land that meets the river there are buttercups and daisies and
daffodils, and, at the very edge, forget-me-nots, as if to be remembrancers
from the land to the water stealing away to the sea, to come back again on
the chariots of the clouds. When a hill-side is passed, its woods will
throw their cool shadows into the river; or perhaps a rough stony hill will
reflect in summer the colour of the heather, purple like spilt wine on the
ground; and, at almost all seasons, a touch of gold shows from the gorse,
which is of such a glad nature that it must blossom a little almost all the
year round, so that they say: "When the gorse is not in flower girls do not
like to be kissed."

I have found joy by the side of many English rivers, from the wilder--and
yet only a little wild, though they seem torrents by the side of most of
their quiet, silent brothers of the south--streams of Yorkshire to the
gently-stealing rivulets of Kent, and it would be a puzzle to say which
English river is the most charming until one remembers the Thames, in which
can be found an epitome of all river delight, from its estuary all along
its winding course past London, Richmond, Hampton, Windsor, Maidenhead,
Henley, Goring, Didcot, Oxford, and beyond Oxford until it turns south and
south-west to find its source under the hills which bound the valley of the
Avon. There is no joy of forest, or park, or lawn, or garden, or meadow
that may not be had by the banks of the Thames; and those banks are
decorated with more noble mansions and sweet homes than are the banks of
any river in the world.

To watch in the valley of the Thames the oncoming of Spring is a pageant of
dear delights. Dobell thus gives his impression of the Spring march of the

    First came the primrose
    On the bank high,
    Like a maiden looking forth
    From the window of a tower
    When the battle rolls below:
    So looked she,
    And saw the storms go by.

    Then came the wind-flower,
    In the valley left behind
    As a wounded maiden, pale
    With purple streaks of woe,
    When the battle has roll'd by,
    Wanders to and fro:
    So totter'd she
    Dishevell'd in the wind.

    Then came the daisies
    On the first of May,
    Like a banner'd show's advance,
    While the crowd runs by the way,
    With ten thousand flowers about them they came trooping through the fields,
    As a happy people come,
    When the war has roll'd away,
    With dance and tabor, pipe and drum,
    And all make holiday.

On a Spring day let us go out from London to do honour to the Thames,
seeking its nearer delights. Because it is Spring the day is delightful.
The English seasons are often disappointing. The summer is not as good,
winter not as bad as one has had reason to anticipate. One often at the end
of the year has neither revelled in a fine summer nor felt the happiness of
heroism in enduring a rigorous winter; for there has been no spell of
really fine weather and no rigours. Always the climate has been soft and
apologetic. But Spring in England is ever delicious. The first awakening
of the year is brimful of stirring delights. Perhaps the summer has been
"unsatisfactory," one of these cold, damp summers which drift unaware into
autumn; and autumn, though providing a few perfect days, has been generally
overcast, and every day has threatened the winter. But the winter has never
come at all in any real earnest. No snow, no big freeze for skating, just
dull half-cold days with occasional hours as warm as though stolen from
autumn. Nature goes to sleep grudgingly, but goes to sleep; taking off all
her draperies of green and brown and gold.

Then suddenly one morning you may see the crocus running like a trail of
fire through the grass; and around all the shrubs and bushes steals a
luminous mist of verdancy which, the more nearly approached, resolves into
a starry way of little budding leaves of pale angelic green, so pale and
pure that they were surely sprinkled from heaven in the night, and had not
been drawn from the gross soil beneath. Yes, Spring is beautiful, and there
is the stimulating note in its beauty which is so often lacking in the
English landscape. Much of bright serene content, much of reverend grace,
much of misty and soft charm with a note of wistfulness, almost of
melancholy, England may show through the summer, the autumn, and the
winter. On an odd day she will deck herself almost in gaiety, but there is
ever a Puritan note of reserve, a hint of grey hairs. In early Spring,
however, the country is all young in spirit. One might almost forget
decorum and be rash, and whoop out one's joy aloud, coming thus under
suspicion of being an uncontrollable Latin sort of person.


It is probably in part what has gone before that makes the Spring so
glorious. It is a resurrection. With the chill breath of November most of
the trees in England prepare to hibernate, shedding their leaves and
withdrawing their life within their grim-looking trunks. In the quiet
stillness everything snuggles down to rest, and week after week, month
after month, you become accustomed to seeing Nature asleep. Then of a
sudden a south wind comes bearing the notes of the _réveillé_, and
everything is deliciously athrill, and it is Spring; and as you look upon
the _feu de joie_ of the crocuses in the grass, you understand the
exultation in Horace's lines about his Spring on the Tiber:--

    _Solvitur acris hiemps grata vice veris et Favoni,
      Trahuntque siccas machinae carinas,
    Ac neque iam stabulis gaudet pecus aut arator igni,
      Nec prata canis albicant pruinis._

And if you are wise you too prepare to drag down a dry keel to the waters
of the Thames. Not at the first note of the crocuses must you do so, unless
you are greatly daring, for the Spring sends out her heralds to walk some
distance before her steps; and there may be biting winds and nipping frosts
yet. But the message is sure. Soon the daffodils will be dancing, demure
and stately in the grass; the trees will be alive with their intensely
young green; daisies and cowslips will be waking to deck the meadows.

Take the rapture of the river little by little. Richmond and Kew--Kew
Gardens at daffodil time are exquisite--should give you new joys for many
days. The gentle march of the crocus, of the daffodil, and the narcissus,
and the rhododendron, and the azalea at Kew, the gradual filling up of the
great valley which stretches below Richmond Hill, with colour and light and
warmth,--these are not to be seen in an hour or a day, but call for many
visits. If an occasional day of fog and mist obtrudes from out of winter,
and you are resolved, nevertheless, to worship at the shrines of Father
Thames, explore the reach from Chelsea to Greenwich, and learn what magic
the mist can lend to drape all that is harsh, to bring out all that is
fine, in the works of man.

[Illustration: SPRING BY THE THAMES]

As the Spring ripens, carrying your exploration of the Thames farther, go
to Hampton Court, built by the great Cardinal who was too great to be
pleasing to the arrogant temper of King Henry VIII. They tell that it was
Wolsey's love of good Latin that first set the jealous temper of the King
aflame. "Ego et rex meus," the Cardinal had written to a correspondent. To
be correct in his Latin he could have done nothing else. The poorest beggar
in Rome would say, and would write--if he knew how to write--"Ego et Julius
Cæsar," for the Romans were not hypocrites enough to pretend that any man
does not think himself as of the first importance to himself. Our modern
way of pretending to be humble and "putting oneself second," the Romans
knew nothing of; and their language made no provision for it. Wolsey wrote
good Latin; and in time he came to lose the favour of the King, and with it
this fine palace of Hampton Court, set like a great pink flower in the
midst of its gardens by the Thames side. Hampton Court was a royal palace
for some generations after, then it was given up to the people for their
common enjoyment, and is now a show-place open to all. Its gardens are kept
with the old care and generosity. In Spring the parterres of tulips and
hyacinths and wallflowers and other blossoms suggest the dreams of all the
great pottery decorators of every age come to life in flowers.

Not only the gardens of Hampton Court but also the state rooms of the
palace are open to the public, including the great hall which ought to be
called Blue Beard's Hall, because of its series of stained-glass windows
picturing Henry VIII. and all his wives. Do they of nights climb down from
their windows and trip a measure together?

After Hampton Court the Thames winds past Staines to Eton and Windsor. The
great castle, which is the chief residence of the British Court, has no
longer in these days of widely-ranging artillery any purpose of
guardianship. But one can see that at the time of its building it was well
designed to stand siege and assault, and to hold the passage of the Thames.
From Windsor spreads one of the royal forests, and the valley of the Thames
is now for a long stretch well wooded. At Bourne End begins definitely the
long series of little pleasure houses--afloat or ashore--which mark the
Thames with a gay note for some miles up and down from Henley. In the
summer these house-boats and bungalows, painted always in glowing colours,
decked out with bright flowers, sheltering brightly-dressed people, are as
gay as gay can be. The Englishman is a little serious in his pleasures some
think; "on the river" he is usually hilarious. On Sundays and holidays in
summer the dwellers by the river are reinforced by thousands of trippers
from London. There are musical comedy stars and their swains who have
motored down, and will dawdle in a punt or a skiff--also sometimes in a
motor launch or a steam-boat--mainly as an exercise before and after a
massive lunch. There are visitors from the theatres who are not stars, and
shop girls, and typewriting girls, and sporty girls--all, or nearly all,
with men to match. Also there is a slight flavour of plain 'Arriett with
her 'Arry, though she favours more the reaches of the river near to London.

Between them all they make the Thames very very gay. Some sing or play
banjos. Many bring phonographs and gramophones, which will give canned
music at the call of the merest fraction of skill and effort. All are
dressed in bright colours, and not too much dressed at that. It is the very
lightest side of London life, that "on the river" of a summer Sunday; and
over it all great quiet woods brood, and some of the sweetest church bells
in Christendom send out their silver summons; and past all Father Thames
glides quietly, making his way from the Western Hills to the sea, tolerant
of all, with a smile of sweetness for all.

But who may tell of the full delights of the Thames? We must be content
here with the mere glimpse at the life of this one river of England, and
leave out any description of other streams, whose very names are sweet and
cool, or cheerful and exhilarating, or gentle and peaceful. What poetic
syllables these rivers have won for their names--the Severn, the Darenth,
the Avon, the Wye, the Dove, the Eden, the Dart, the Tamar, the Lynn, the
Arun, the Ouse, the Rother, the Medway, the Trent, the Erme! And how
sweetly English all the names are! No hotch-potch here of dog Latin and
Levantine Greek, but plain straight English, cool and fresh in the mouth.




Those places in England which are notable by their association with some
great event of human history are very many in number. Knowledge of them is
more complete with visitors to the land than with residents. The
Englishman, for all his reverent love of the medieval life and customs of
his country, has not the habit of cataloguing historic places, nor of
visiting them of set purpose. Of late, because of the new interest in
history given by the pageant movement, because of the work of various
historical and archæological societies, because also of the care which some
public bodies are giving to the identification and plain marking of famous
birthplaces and residences, the Englishman has become something of a
tourist in his own country. He even shows a disposition to add to his
treasures of history--as in the tentative movement now afoot to ask from
France the ashes of the Plantagenet kings buried there (a movement, by the
way, accompanied by an honest give-and-take spirit; a famous Russian bell
taken from a Baltic monastery during the Crimean War has just been
restored). But still the famous places of England are mostly for the
visitor, and that visitor can often take the Englishman to many places of
note, before unknown to him, in his own land.

But not the most business-like and industrious of visitors could hope to
compass within a life-time a pilgrimage to all the shrines of England. He
would be wise, therefore, to determine at the outset what is the side of
human activity which most appeals to him--the struggle for religious
liberty and tolerance, the fight for the freedom of the Press, the upgrowth
of the greatest literature in any modern tongue, the development of the
parliamentary and representative system of government, the shaping of the
material power of a great Imperial race. Of any one of these he will find
countless monuments in England. The whole country is a sepulchre of great
men and a memorial of great deeds.

If that most strange, and in some of its aspects rather sordid, miracle of
modern civilisation, the Newspaper Press, interests the pilgrim to England,
let him betake himself to London, where in Fleet Street practically all the
history of the beginnings of journalism has centred. All the world has
newspapers nowadays--one of my own earliest memories of adult life was an
invitation to edit a paper at Bangkok in Siam. There are mighty organs of
public opinion at Fiji, Honolulu; and, though I have not yet heard of a
paper published in Thibet, there must surely be one in print by now. But
England saw the birth of journalism in its modern sense, saw the first
beginnings of that eager hound which dogs the footsteps of civilisation day
by day and night by night, rending aside every veil, "making" news for
itself when the supply of murders and wars and scandals runs short,
devouring whole forests day by day in its appetite for paper. Those old
Pressmen of Fleet Street had probably no prophetic vision of the
present-day newspaper when they were seized with the idea that the gossipy
news-letters with which town mice amused country mice should be combined
with the thundering pamphlets which used the printing-press to campaign
against tyrants of State, of Church, of privilege. If they had had, would
they have fought their hard fight for the freedom of the Press? I often
wonder, holding as I do that there is a good deal of truth in what Balzac
wrote of the modern Press in _Un Grand Homme de Province à Paris_:--

     Journalism comes first to be a party weapon, and then a
     commercial speculation, carried on without conscience
     or scruple, like other commercial speculations.... A
     newspaper is not supposed to enlighten its readers, but
     to supply them with congenial opinions.... Napoleon's
     sublime aphorism, suggested by his study of the
     Convention, "No one individual is responsible for a
     crime committed collectively," sums up the whole
     significance of a phenomenon, moral or immoral,
     whichever you please. However shamefully a newspaper
     may behave, the disgrace attaches to no one person....
     We shall see newspapers, started in the first instance
     by men of honour, falling sooner or later into the
     hands of men of abilities even lower than the average,
     but endowed with the resistance and flexibility of
     indiarubber, qualities denied to noble genius; nay,
     perhaps the future newspaper proprietor will be the
     tradesman with the capital sufficient to buy venal


But that is away from the question. In itself the fight for the freedom of
the Press was a good fight, and London was its campaign ground, and within
the precincts of Fleet Street are all its memorials.

If religious progress and development is of special interest to him the
student of England will first visit Canterbury, because of its association
with St. Augustine, Lanfranc, and Saint Thomas à Becket. It is still the
seat of the Primate of the Church of England. From Canterbury he might well
follow the old "Pilgrims' Way," which runs through Kent, Surrey, and
Hampshire towards Southampton, a much-favoured ancient port of
communication with the Continent. At Southampton landed many a company of
holy palmers from Europe to walk their devout way to the tomb of À Becket.
On the way from Canterbury, through Kent, near Shoreham (the inland
village, not the seaside Shoreham), will be found the ruins of two castles
connected with the story of his sad murder. Then a student of Church
history might go to Worcester, the scene of the first Church Congress in
England, that which attempted to settle the differences between the Church
in England and the Church in Wales. At Worcester, too, died Prince Arthur,
a death of great moment in Church history. If he had lived (a pious young
man he was, and much beloved of the monks), then a certain Henry, who
afterwards became Henry VIII., would never have been King of England, never
have married his deceased brother's widow, never have had an uneasy
conscience as that lady's charms were supplanted in his impressionable
heart by a younger damosel, never have had his quarrel with the Pope; and
the whole course of history would have been, perhaps, different. But Prince
Arthur died at Worcester, and events moved to their appointed end.

Then a visit to Glastonbury in Somersetshire must be made, site of the
famous old abbey now being excavated and in a measure restored. There lived
St. Dunstan of august memory. So much is certain; but legend would bring to
Glastonbury even greater claims to reverence if legend had its way. There,
tradition says, King Arthur was buried. To probe the truth of this
tradition excavations were made in the reign of Henry II., and beneath the
old foundations and seven feet beneath the surface, according to Giraldus
Cambrensis, was found a broad stone bearing the name of Arthur; yet nine
feet lower was found the body of Arthur, enclosed in the trunk of a tree,
and beside him the body of Guinevere, The King's skeleton, says the
chronicler, was of extraordinary size, and the skull was covered with
wounds; the body of Guinevere was well preserved, and the colour of her
hair was of that burnished gold which ensnared more than one devout knight
to be her lover.

Yet with all that honour Glastonbury is not content, and will have it that
on its soil was erected the oldest Christian Church in England, by no less
renowned a man than St. Joseph of Arimathea, who brought to his Glastonbury
Church the Holy Grail, the cup from which the Divine Redeemer drank at the
Last Supper.

Canterbury, Worcester, Glastonbury and York (of which something was said in
a previous chapter) visited, the lover of Church history will then turn to
London to do reverence to Westminster Abbey, one of the most sacred fanes
of Christendom. There is a legend of the Abbey having been consecrated by
St. Peter himself, a legend which Matthew Arnold incorporates in one of his
poems. Some Thames fishermen are making for home on a winter's eve; one
lags behind--

            His mates are gone, and he
            For mist can scarcely see
    A strange wayfarer coming to his side--
        Who bade him loose his boat, and fix his oar,
        And row him straightway to the further shore,
    And wait while he did there a space abide.
            The fisher awed obeys,
    That voice had note so clear of sweet command;
        Through pouring tide he pulls, and drizzling haze,
    And sets his freight ashore on Thorney strand.

            The Minster's outlined mass
            Rose dim from the morass,
    And thitherward the stranger took his way.
        Lo, on a sudden all the pile is bright!
        Nave, choir, and transept glorified with light,
    While tongues of fire on coign and carving play!
            And heavenly odours fair
    Come streaming with the floods of glory in,
        And carols float along the happy air,
    As if the reign of joy did now begin.

            Then all again is dark;
            And by the fisher's bark
    The unknown passenger returning stands.
        "O Saxon fisher! thou hast had with thee
        The fisher from the lake of Galilee--"
    So saith he, blessing him with outspread hands;
            Then fades, but speaks the while;
    "At dawn thou to King Serbert shalt relate
        How his St. Peter's Church in Thorney Isle
        Peter, his friend, with light did consecrate."

That is legend. Keeping strictly within the limits of ascertained history,
the story of Westminster Abbey and its monuments is a brief epitome of the
records of England and of the British Empire. It is the burial-place of the
mighty dead of the nation, and has been associated in some particular way
with almost every great event since the Norman invasion. I shall not
attempt here any description of the Abbey or any detailed discussion of its
monuments. Many books have been written about this building, and the
subject does not seem yet to have been exhausted. One monument, and one
alone, I shall mention. In the summer of 1296 King Edward seized the
regalia of Scotland, and offered them the following year to the shrine of
St. Edward at Westminster. The objects which are known to have been offered
by him are the golden sceptre, the golden crown with the apple or orb of
silver gilt, and the golden rose, all of which were affixed to the shrine,
and a "pallium" (probably the royal mantle of the King of Scotland), which
was hung somewhere in the Abbey.

At or near the same time the "Coronation Stone," which also had been
ravished from Scotland, found a home in the Abbey, and is still cherished
as indispensable for the coronation of monarchs of the United Kingdom. In
Celtic days a stone seemed essential for a king's coronation (the
"Coronation Stone" at Kingston-on-Thames is supposed to mark the site of an
old place of investiture of British kings). This coronation stone taken
from Scotland is said to carry with it the governance of that country; and
legend has invested it with a mythical sanctity. According to some tales
the stone was the pillow on which the patriarch Jacob rested his head at
Bethel. Gathelus, who married Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, brought it to
Spain, where it became the stone on which the kings of Spain "of Scottish
race" were wont to sit. Simon Breck, a descendant of Gathelus, brought it
from Spain to Ireland, and was crowned upon it as king of that country at
Tara, where it became known as the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny.
Afterwards the stone was removed to Dunstaffnage, where twenty-eight of the
"forty kings" of Scotland were crowned. From Dunstaffnage it was taken to
Scone. There it remained, and on it every Scottish monarch was inaugurated
till the year 1296. Then it came to England to be used at the coronation of
British monarchs to the latest, George V.

It is not necessary to invest the stone with the reverence that a belief in
all these wonders would call for; but it is undoubtedly a monument of
Celtic faiths and ceremonies, even if its biblical origin must be granted
the Scottish verdict of "not proven."

To pass from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul's would be to enter upon a path
leading away from the purpose of this chapter, which cannot attempt to be
comprehensive. Let us suppose the Churchman pilgrim satisfied with
pilgrimages to Glastonbury, Canterbury, Worcester, and Westminster. The
political pilgrim has next to be considered. He will find hardly a part of
England without its close association with the struggles for parliamentary
freedom. But Buckinghamshire, which seemed always to be a county with a
sturdy "no" in its composition, will give enough monuments of the great
"Parliamentarians" of the Revolution--Hampden, Cromwell, Milton and the
rest. It has also a modern association with a prominent man of modern
times, who was very much on "the other side" in politics, Disraeli, the
apostle of the new Conservatism. From Buckinghamshire the man who would
wish to follow in memory the great contest between King and Parliament
which made the British Constitution would probably best go on to
Worcestershire, which put up some stout battles for the King. And, of
course, London cannot be neglected. Indeed, in all great English movements
London had a leading part, for it was always in a very true sense the
capital of the kingdom; and not a narrow and exclusive capital at that, but
regularly sending out its "cits" to spy out the joys of the country, and
just as regularly attracting to itself in season the rustics to taste the
life of the town.

For literary monuments and associations London, of course, is the one great
centre, though there should be reverent excursions to Oxford and Cambridge,
and Bath, and then to Worcester, where the first of Anglo-Saxon poets
wrote, and to the Lakes, which had their school of poets. But the student
of England's monuments and shrines who has but a little time to give up to
the study had best content himself with London. Within a full year he
cannot exhaust its treasures.




A dominant note of the English character is kindliness. Animals are treated
in England better than anywhere else in the world; the ordinary sleekness
of the English horse and the serene confidence in human nature of the
London cat are two outward and visible signs of the absence of cruelty in
the national character. This kindliness makes more tolerable, and softens
considerably what would be otherwise the intolerable gulf between rich and
poor. England, taking into consideration population and area, is the
richest country in the world, I suppose; yet it has a proportion of its
population sunk in poverty--"the submerged tenth" one social observer
(making a rather pessimistic calculation) called them. English
statesmanship has so far failed to grapple successfully with the pauper
population, and the even more pitiful class which struggles grimly on the
edge of pauperism; but the English kindliness attempts to mollify the
situation with vast organised charities, private and public, and makes it
just tolerable. But even so it is painful: yet has to be faced to get to a
true picture of England.

I spent the late months of autumn one year in looking into the case of the
unemployed and the casual workers; tramping the north country with them and
following them then on their pilgrimage to London. With the first hint of
winter the unemployed or the casual worker who knows the rules of the game
heads for London. In the summer and the autumn he has wandered the
country-side, working more or less regularly as he tramped, in potato
fields, turnip fields, hop gardens, cornfields.

It is a steadily narrowing opportunity, this casual agricultural work. With
each year more and more of England's fruit, hops, vegetables, roots, and
corn are grown abroad. To some extent, also, labour-saving machinery is
displacing the manual worker where the tillage of the soil still survives.
But there is surprisingly little machinery used in British agriculture as
compared with that of Canada, the United States, and Australia. The very
small farms do not allow of the economical use of machines. Some crops are
still cut by scythes; a reaper and binder is less common than the simple
reaper which cuts the corn and leaves it to be gathered and tied by a
harvest hand.

It is astonishing how close the agricultural land comes to London. One may
see, within half a mile of Hampstead "tube," odd hayfields, and after
leaving the Midlands, approaching London from the north, the pall of smoke
lifts and the heavens appear as a broad belt of agricultural land
intervenes. It would seem as if the traveller were passing away from, not
approaching, the great industrial centre. Leaving Luton and coming through
to St. Albans the country smiles in green pleasantness within sight and
sound, almost, of London. Birds see the sky and rejoice. Hayricks warm the
landscape with their golden yellow, and over the stubble fields sturdy
plough-horses pass and repass, painting the fields with broad brush strokes
a rich chocolate brown. The hedges in the autumn are glowing with
berries--blackberries and the scarlet spots of the hawthorn berry. With
close search even hazel-nuts can be found, and this within the area tapped
by London motor-buses and trams.

Sometimes the nuts and the berries give some sort of temporary relief to
the casual worker. I remember one typical man of the "submerged tenth" who
was making a harvest of the berries. He was a poor old tramp, hobbling
along quickly in spite of the stiffness of rheumatism. He had a can to fill
with what he gleaned from the hedges. He hoped, he told me, to get a
shilling for the berries at the next town. His age was sixty-six, and he
had been in his young prime a navvy and road labourer. Now he was past all
hope of further employment as a labourer, and navvying work was impossible.
Proudly he boasted that he had never been "in trouble," and had never
actually begged, though in the main he lived on charity. His winters, it
seems, were spent in the workhouses. With the coming of the spring he
turned his face towards the green fields, and lived somehow through the
summer on what he could pick up as the reward of doing odd jobs or as the
dole of charity. He was one of a class I found common enough on the roads,
past all steady and useful work, going with crippled gait steadily to the

The same day I encountered, among other wayfarers, a man who suggested this
old and desolate tramp in the making. He was a young, vigorous, and capable
fellow, civil, intelligent, and eager for work. He had walked from
Manchester, having been on the road since the previous Sunday (the day was
Saturday), and the golden goal at the end of his journey was a week's work
at the Islington Agricultural Show, which had been promised to him. For the
week he would get 30s. After the Islington Show he had the chance, perhaps,
of getting another job in the same line. He followed agricultural shows
around the country, for he understood cattle and horses.

Another type of the poor I met outside of Durham, plodding patiently along
two miles out of the old cathedral city. He was something a little higher
than a casual labourer, and had a "trade," if one might call it so: that of
a porter. He was making out from Durham, where "things were very bad," to a
country place, unspecified, where there was work.

A brave and cheerful soul he was. At the age of four his leg had been
broken and badly set, and he had grown up a little lame. That was over
forty years ago, when the poor had less chance of good medical attention
than now. The accident had frustrated the wish in him for an outdoor life.
He confessed that all his thoughts turned to the soil, and while he was
working in Durham as a casual porter he would in slack times always try to
get out to the fields. He had never married; there was no hope of married
life in his calling. He had tried to get a more steady sort of job as a
painter, as an ironmonger's assistant; but his leg was against him. He had
not a grumble in his whole composition, and talked cheerfully of the green
grass and confided that he was forty-six. "But I don't look it a bit, do
I?" I lied manfully that he did not seem more than thirty-five, though,
poor, wizened little chap, I would have put him down at ten years above his

He was a patient little fighter, and had, with his lame leg, kept up
somehow with the ranks of the workers, and had never begged a meal or a
shilling in his life, and was, in a way, happy for all his frustrated
longing for the open life of the country.

Out from Newcastle-on-Tyne another day of my tramp I picked up with a
worker in the building trade. He was not a tramp, for he had a house of
his own and a wife of whose house-wifery he was very proud. But he was
unemployed, and had been for some months. That morning he had got up at
five o'clock to tramp eight miles to a suburb of Newcastle in the hope of
getting a place on a little church-repairing job employing three masons. He
had not succeeded, and was tramping the eight miles back again. A penny
fare on the tram would have saved him some two miles, but pennies were not
to be spent lightly.

A homely, domestic man, typically English in his virtues and in the
limitations of his virtues, was my mason friend. In the good times of the
past he used to make 35s., 37s. 6d., and £2:1:6 a week at his trade,
"steady work and constant." As a bachelor he found that all his money went
as fast as he made it. After one long spell on £2:1:6 a week he had nothing
at all left to tide over a week without work. That set his thoughts to
matrimony and he "settled down." Since then his finances had been much more
steady and prosperous. While he was in work he always paid his wife 30s. a
week out of his wages, no more and no less. "He didn't come asking her for
some of it back in the middle of the week like some men did. Thirty
shillings she had, regular, when he was in work, and she saved some of it."
Whatever the balance was, 5s. or 7s. 6d. or 11s. 8d., was for himself. That
was his pocket-money, and he spent it in a moderate and sensible
roystering, and on other comforts of the manly life.

The virtues of his wife as a housekeeper he talked of sturdily. Such a
thing as baker's bread--"nasty, unwholesome stuff"--was never seen in his
house: it was all home-baked bread. Part of the secret of the housekeeping
in unemployed times was perhaps the fact that they had two lodgers, who
paid 3s. 6d. a week each for their quarters and paid for the "raw material"
of their meals, having the food cooked free. I was interested to learn that
11-1/2d. a week was charged to each of the lodgers for the flour used in
his bread--not an extravagant weekly expenditure on that item of food.


A good average man this, not at all heroic, common-sensible, and strictly
moderate in his virtues, keeping a very good margin of his wages for
himself, but not poaching on the remainder. Probably the wife has much the
harder life of the two, with her 30s. a week steady when the good man is in
work, and nothing at all but the lodgers' money at other times; probably,
too, she is happy enough. May a change of fortune soon bring steady work!

Studied from the English country-side the life of the lowly appeared to me
often pitiful but rarely abject. It was relieved from squalor by much
heroic courage; and by evidences of that beautiful love of the green fields
which the English seem to have by nature. In London the position is more
depressing, for there one encounters a vast army in which are mingled
inextricably poor victims worthy of the fullest compassion, and cunning
"wasters" who, finding it easy to live without work, are resolved not to

To the "professional unemployed," I believe, the autumn entry into London
is a blessed relief. He knows all the charities which can be worked for
food and shelter. He has put in his penitential period in the country to
give a reasonable air to the tale that he has been in work, and prepares
with zest to tap the old springs of alms. London promises him winter
comfort, human companionship; warm nights in shelters, when politics can be
discussed and the state of the nation learnedly argued; amusing tests of
his skill in bamboozling charitable societies. To the genuine seeker for
work a first impression of London must be terrifying. The place is so vast,
so inchoate. It seems to suggest a great organised mass into which no
newcomer can hope to penetrate.

The day I tramped in--on my mission of investigation--a thin rain filled
the air with a blurring mist and made a horrible mud underfoot. My too
realistic boots gave this mud entrance to my feet. The soft, suggy sound
and feel of this mud making its way in and out was at once depressing and
enraging. I cursed the weather, and London, and the resolution which had
brought me on the enterprise. It seemed as if it would be just heaven to
have clean feet, and stout soles between them and the loathsome dirt. I was
wet through as regards clothes. That did not matter. The rain from above
was clean except for a little soot. But this stuff beneath--faugh! If other
men think and feel as I do, when you wish to "lift" a man out of the mire
of hopelessness give him first a stout pair of boots.

The Spitalfields "doss" to which I had been directed looked too much like
the mud beneath felt. It was stale and dirty, from its ceiling to its
floor; and all the air between was stale and dirty. The men steaming and
smoking in the thick atmosphere were sympathetic to the place. I passed on.
That dossery could be investigated another time, on some night when the
streets were dry. At a "Rowton House" in Whitechapel I found a clean and
endurable lodging, paying ninepence for a night's lodging. There were good
facilities to wash and to eat and to cook one's food, and a reading-room
even. One could be, clearly, comfortable enough here--if one had the

There are much cheaper lodging-houses, and one absolutely free one, Medland
Hall, on the Ratcliff Highway near Stepney Station. I visited it one
November evening at five o'clock. Under a railway arch there was drawn up a
tattered regiment of men some 300 strong. Now and again a late-comer
arrived and took his place in the rear rank. Two police officers attended
to keep order, but in the men there seemed not enough energy left for
disorder. Like a cluster of bats they hung, dark, inert, to that wall of
the arch which gave some little shelter from the driving rain. There was
not one touch of colour in all the dark ranks. Each man seemed to be
dressed like his fellows, in something that was black, either originally or
made so from the struggle in the mud of life. It was a patient crowd. Now
and again a harsh cough sounded from some man, and always he seemed to be
trying to smother it, as if unwilling to break into the silence of the
common misery; or a lame man shuffled uneasily on his feet, and he also
seemed ashamed a little of the noise.

At six, when the great bulk of the crowd had been waiting an hour (some of
them probably much longer), the order was given to march, and the men filed
into Medland Hall, each one getting as he entered a half-pound of bread
with a little butter. That was his meal for the night, and, like his bed,
it was absolutely free. The bed was a box on the floor, with a seaweed
mattress and an oilskin covering.

Most of the men were young. Few of them had gone past the labouring age.
Some were obviously tuberculous, others crippled with rheumatism. The
gathering, too, had its castes. A man who had been once a chief clerk, and
who still wore a "boxer" hat in place of the usual cap of the unemployed,
was the aristocrat of the doss.

This winter (1912) the London authorities, at last awake to the scandal of
homeless men wandering or sleeping in the streets, have instituted a system
by which the police will find shelter for all who are found without homes.
But even that will not remove all the scandal.

For many years the charitable provision for the homeless in London has been
ample, and I could not at first find an explanation for the Thames
Embankment miserables who huddled on the seats throughout the nights and
had their shivering sleep disturbed again and again by the police, or for
the unfortunates who haunted "the Dark Arches" of the Strand and other
places giving shelter from the rain. With the use of any intelligence at
all, it seemed, a man could get shelter of a sort and food of a sort. Yet
people, I know, did in rare cases actually perish from exposure and from
hunger in London. Inquiring among the Embankment men, the unhappiest of all
the miserable army, there seemed to be always one of two explanations for
haunting the Embankment--either the desperate sense of shame of the man who
has come down from a position of some comfort and decency and shuns a
shelter because it means a display of his misery; or the dull lethargy that
comes from extreme hardship and kills every suggestion of self-help.

One unemployed with whom I conversed, or tried to converse, at midnight
just near the Temple Pier was sunk in such apathy that he, I verily
believe, would not have walked 400 yards to get the most comfortable bed in
London. At any rate, when I gave him a shilling he made no move away from
his seat, showed, indeed, very little interest in the dole. His was an
extreme case, but many seemed to be almost as dead to any idea of effort.
"With the use of any intelligence" a man can get shelter--yes. But the man
who is down often loses his intelligence as he sinks. The "cunning"
unemployed, on the other hand, flourishes.

In China they have a term "rice Christians" for heathen who pretend
conversion to Christianity in order to secure food from the missionaries.
The cunning unemployed is usually a "rice" Anglican, or Roman Catholic or
Wesleyan of the most fervent type. His religious views are strong to the
point of bigotry. But should he have a wife and household to maintain by
the sweat of his brain it will often happen that, while he is a rice
Anglican of the most uncompromising type, she is a rice Wesleyan or
professor of some other type of Nonconformity.

For the man who has made a study of the art of living without work London
offers a vast field. There are so many charities that by going the round it
is possible to avoid all danger of becoming too familiar at any one of
them, and since there is no effective safeguard against overlapping it is
easy to be getting help from two or even more sources simultaneously.

This state of affairs, of course, does not help the genuine unemployed, the
man who wants work and not charity. But it is a constant temptation to him
to drop his self-respect and sink to the level of the men who, he finds,
live just as comfortably without labour as he is able to do by steady

The life of "toiling for leave to live," using up to-day for just as much
reward as will allow you to be fit for work to-morrow--and that is the life
of thousands--has, after all, not much attraction, considered
dispassionately. The tramp in Mr. Wells's story who explained that it was
followed only by people who had been "pithed"--_i.e._ had had their brains
extracted while at school--had some grim reasonableness in his
fancifulness. When honest work offers a hope of progressive betterment the
enthusiasm for it is natural. When, as for too many, honest work offers
nothing but a subsistence fractionally better than that of the dishonest
loafer it is surprising not that there are so many but so few of the
"cunning unemployed." Only a very strong innate sense of duty and
self-respect can account for the fact that millions keep pressing
desperately on in the ranks of the workers with no more real reward for
their efforts than the pride that they have never been to the "workhouse"
or taken alms from any one.


Recognising that, it is possible to come away from a study even of the
"submerged tenth" in England with some cheerfulness. The mistakes of the
past which have allowed that inundation of misery can be rectified, and,
serious as those mistakes have been, they have left the character of the
English people in the main sturdy and self-respecting. Of the "submerged
tenth" I think only a tenth, _i.e._ one per cent of the total population,
is actually hopeless and helpless. The others will respond to a wiser
organisation of the national life offering more opportunity and less
charity. On this point I have sought the views of several clergymen working
in the East End, the poor quarter of London. They were all proud, and
justifiably so, of the various efforts made to salve the lot of the
poor--the university settlements, the hospitals, infirmaries, nursing
associations, charitable and semi-charitable dormitories, the associations
for the supply of food, clothing, coal, and the like. But not one,
challenged to it, could truthfully claim that the sum of all this work was
remedial in any real sense of the word. Not one of them could deny that
most of it directly attacked the principle of self-reliance. The wretched
were kept alive, and that was all. No future was opened out for the great
majority of them, and very very rarely did any future mean useful
citizenship of Great Britain, but rather the export of the young citizen to
some other land in the hope that it would give him a chance.

Yet all agreed that as a matter of reasonable probability most of the men
who are down could be saved and are worth saving. The proportion that is
absolutely hopeless was variously stated. It may be averaged, in their
opinion, at 5 per cent. The other 95 per cent could be brought to useful
lives, these clergymen who are close students of the matter agreed.

That leaves, in the opinion of the men who have made a life study of the
subject, not my one per cent, but only one-half per cent of the total
English population as hopelessly "down." It is a bad wastage when one
thinks that every human creature is a temple of the Divine, but it is not
so gloomy a position as most imagine. And it can, and it will be stopped.



That the English are an "inartistic" people, without true appreciation of
pictures, music, the drama, is a statement commonly made and commonly
accepted without any very serious examination of the evidence for and
against. A just judge giving the benefit of a close and impartial inquiry
to the case of Madam England, indicted for that she is a Philistine without
any true taste in, or proper love of, the arts, would be able to go no
further than the Scottish verdict of "not proven." But few of those people
who find England guilty without leaving the box have attempted to make any
sound examination of the evidence available. They have heard of a
Hanoverian monarch of past days, who despised "boetry und bainting," and
have come to a settled conviction that that represented the English mind
then and represents it now.

Elsewhere I have maintained that a nation which has such a noble taste in
parks and gardens as have the English must be "æsthetic" at heart; and
"æsthetic" and "inartistic" are not compatible. But apart from Nature love
and delight in gardening, there is a great deal of evidence to be cited in
the Englishman's favour as a lover of the arts.

It could certainly have been said with truth a few years ago, and probably
could be said now, in spite of the recent rush of American buyers into the
picture market, that the finest collection of Italian Masters of painting
outside of Italy could be made from English galleries and English houses,
and also the finest collection of Spanish Masters outside of Spain, of
Flemish Masters outside the Low Countries, of French Masters outside of
France. In short, one might get the finest and most complete collection
representative of all the painting schools of the world from English

One ungracious explanation is easy: that the English have been the rich
people and have been able to buy. But a rich nation does not buy pictures
without some national love and appreciation of pictures. I hesitate to
write that in these days when one hears of a _nouveau riche_ commissioning
a friend "to buy him £10,000 worth of pictures by those old jossers"; and
in any well-regulated fashionable furniture shop you may buy with the pots
and the pans and the indubitably old worm-eaten antique furniture, pictures
of the right age; and even books in the proper tone of binding for your old
oak book-shelves. Still, taking a view by centuries and disregarding the
crazes of a season or a generation, it is fair to conclude that a nation
which consistently buys pictures, and good pictures at that, has some love
of and taste in painting.

The lordly young Englishmen of past generations who, "doing the grand
tour," came home with examples of the great continental Masters of painting
for their halls, had not the motive of a blind and vulgar obedience to a
passing craze. They must have known good pictures and liked good pictures.
Year by year, generation by generation, they carried on their work until
English collections came to have representative examples of all the great
schools of the world. The while, there was no lack of English painters of
distinction, and though the English schools of painting may not claim the
same degree of achievement as English schools of prose and verse, they have
done enough to rescue their country from the reproach of being careless as
a nation of the art of painting. There are, let it be agreed, "Philistine"
classes in England; and these "Philistines" have had more authority and
opportunities of rule in England than in most European countries, a fact
which has carried with it artistic disadvantages to weigh something in the
balance against advantages in other directions. But it is absurd to attempt
to represent England as a lost country artistically. The visitor who is
interested chiefly in art will find in the various public galleries (not
alone in London, but also in the provincial cities) many great examples of
painting. If he chooses to carry his curiosity further he will find most of
the private collections open to the inspection of any one who will take the
trouble to ask courteously for permission to visit them.

In regard to music, it is probably just as easy to clear England of the
charge of ignorance and want of sympathy. But I cannot undertake the task
with any skill, for I know little of the musical world, not enough even to
distinguish surely in Simonetti, the famous Italian conductor of the
Athanasian orchestra (the names are laboriously fictitious), the excellent
Simpson of Brixton, S.W. But the evidence (I plead always for a judgment on
evidence, not on the hasty impression founded on a prejudice) would seem to
show that England at one time was musical enough in a sweet wholesome way,
producing a music of the open-air and the green fields. Then there came the
great industrial epoch, and the people turned from the fields to the
factories, and dug under the soil instead of tilling its surface; and that
stream of thrush-melody was choked, and there came nothing notable to take
its place, with no prompting to madrigal and pastoral, with not enough of
neurasthenia to produce anything notable in the music of morbidity.

But the charge against musical England is carried further. Not only does
she produce nothing, but she appreciates nothing. Dumb herself, she is
resolutely deaf also to the song of others. I find it difficult to believe
this in view of the fact that the hall-mark of London is still sought
eagerly by the singers of the world, and is regarded as the final stamp of
approval. If England were such a barbarian of the musical world as some
would have us believe, why this eagerness for an English verdict of
approval, an eagerness which is to be met with all over Europe, America,
and Australia?

To record concrete facts, there is a great deal that is of musical interest
to be explored in England. The capital has many excellent concert halls,
where all the world's music from the classics to the latest frenzies of
neo-Impressionism can be heard. In the provinces, too, there are many fine
musical organisations, and when the "Celtic fringe" comes to be
encountered, as in Wales, there is a musical fervour to match that of the
most ardent of the Latin races. So--even though opera in London is of
social rather than of musical importance--the English cannot be condemned
at the present day as musically careless and ignorant; and in past times
they have produced some worthy music and show signs in the present time of
a revival of native music.


As to the art of the theatre, England, proud in a magnificent past, which
is still the only rival in Christian times of the days of the ancient Greek
drama, can with more good content than most nations submit to the present
phase which makes production and scenery and not the play "the thing." But
in dramatic as in musical art it is the fashion to represent England as
sunk in a Slough of Despond, whilst other nations march gloriously forward
on the upper heights. I take leave to dispute the truth of that picture. It
is not a Golden Age anywhere for the drama. Our time seems to be capable of
very little else than going over the tailing-heaps of past workers,
searching for a little grain of gold here and there, and, after finding it,
beating it out thin with infinite labour to make it appear as impressive as
possible. There are no great nuggets being turned up; no one is pouring out
a golden stream. But of what little pottering work there is being done,
England is responsible for a fair share.

Perhaps her surviving instinct of Puritanism stands in the way of slightly
increasing a small success. There are only two stories, says some one:
there is the story of one man and two women, and there is the story of one
woman and two men. English custom has insisted for a century or so upon a
certain reserve in the treatment of any one of the infinite variations on
these two themes; and there is a Censor to enforce some unwritten and
poorly-understood Rules of the Game. Censors of the Censor say that his
main rule is that you may not be "sexey" and serious, though you may go far
on the path of being "sexey" and frivolous. A fairly faithful study of the
London theatres has suggested to me that whatever primness there was about
the censorship is rapidly breaking down, and there is not an undue amount
of it nowadays.

The present (1912-13) fashion in London is for spectacle plays--in which
the mounting is of at least equal importance to the play--and "atmosphere
plays," the scene of which must be pitched in some unfamiliar, preferably
some slightly uncouth phase of life, which is reproduced with meticulous
accuracy. I suppose that Sir Herbert Tree may be accepted as the leader of
theatrical London of the day: and when I sought to get an impression of
theatrical London "behind the scenes," I obtained permission to watch him
at work in the shaping of a big "production," _False Gods_, from the
French, a philosophical treatise in the form of a play, which was to be
launched upon London with the adventitious aid of impressive "production."

"No! No!! No!!! You must go mad, go mad! Think of a French Revolution--be
just that! Dance, leap, shriek. Go mad!"

That was what I heard at the first dress rehearsal of _False Gods_, Sir
Herbert Beerbohm Tree speaking with gesture to match his speaking. He had
been watching the rehearsal with obvious satisfaction up to that. All had
gone well and smoothly. In the first stage-setting his certain eye took in
the fact that there was one false god too many on the terrace of the great
Egyptian house. The bulk of that god spoiled the sky and the beautiful
vista of the Nile. With a brief iconoclastic phrase that god was abolished.

Then the races of Egypt took Sir Herbert Tree's attention. "Too pale, too
pale! Something more of the Nile mud in your faces!" The crowd of "supers"
were prompt with grease-paint to make their colour more Egyptian. But the
producer was not quite satisfied, and mounting the stage took himself a
stick of paint and, working on their faces like an artist at a canvas,
tinted two "supers" to the proper shade of Egyptian darkness.

Having so arranged the gods and the faces of men, Sir Herbert Tree turned
to the firmament. The sky must have more light here, less light there. "It
must get the burnished effect." In time, after many experiments in
limelight, it does.

But those are only details, which the chief of the theatre attends to
between snatches of conversation, never dropping for a moment his air, a
little that of a philosopher, a little that of a Beau Nash. When, however,
in the great scene where the images of the false gods are torn down, the
mob on the stage tears with but little noise and no rage, Sir Herbert Tree
is moved out of himself. In a moment he is on the stage with the command,
"You must go mad!" and giving a workmanlike imitation of what he wants. The
"supers" accordingly go mad and all is peace again, and there is assurance
that the big scene will "go" as it should.

A curious study it was--the finishing touches being put on to a great
London production. The final result must be such art as imitates Nature and
yet creates illusion. Every detail has to be most carefully considered and
revised again and again to fit harmoniously in with the whole scheme. The
colour of a dress, the tint of a face, the shape of an eye, the placing of
a flower or an ornament is changed and changed again until there is the
harmony which apes perfection. Above all, the lights must be schemed--a
little more purple, or green, or grey, or rose-red, or yellow; a softening
here, a heightening there. A thousand-and-one combinations of light are
tested until the right one is hit upon to suggest mystery, joy, sorrow,
dawn, evening, superstition, cruelty, as the case may be. Much of the story
the audience will read so clearly on the stage on the first night is
written by the lights. The greatest trouble of the producer has been to get
those lights right, not only for each scene, but for each minute of the
scene, for with every phase of the play the lights must change.

It seems a monstrous task to the uninitiated. But during it all the
producer at work is, as a rule (there are exceptional moments when the
"supers" must go mad), quiet, chatty, willing and able to show the other
side of his personality as a philosophical critic of the drama, its aims,
its ethics.

"Yes, I work in a large frame.... Problem plays would not suit my canvas.
(More purple now in that evening sky.) The object of the drama? Of course,
to be amusing and to make people happy. That does not exclude tragedy.
There is pleasure in tragedy, if it is lofty and not repulsive. We arrive
at the same physical result through weeping and through laughing. (Those
hands _must_ all be held in the same way in the invocation. Remember it is
a ritual!) Torture scenes on the stage? No, not if they are repulsive. But
there are ways and ways. You can put blood trickling down the steps of a
scene to suggest tragedy, and you can put blood trickling down the steps so
as to suggest nausea. That second thing must not be. There must be nothing
repulsive. (Give more of a pause there. And don't go near her. She must
hold the stage for fifteen seconds.)

"Yes, I think the drama is growing in influence in England. We have a
stronger drama than a decade ago. To-day the theatre is stronger in England
than in any other part of the world. I say it deliberately. Stronger than
in France, stronger than in America. And its influence grows. It is partly
due, I think, to the decline of dogma. (Please, please, that music a little
softer; but quicker too, brighter!) The stage's influence grows
as dogma declines. What do I mean by dogma? Well, faith of the
open-your-mouth-and-shut-your-eyes brand. But the stage must not have a
pose nor a preach. We must be unconsciously ethical and proud of our craft.
There's not enough pride in craftsmanship these days, not enough of the
artist's spirit either in the artisan or in the artiste.

"Above all, if we are to be artistes we must be tolerant."

Then the time had come for Sir Herbert Tree to dress as the High Priest of
Egypt. The two concluding acts of _False Gods_ are coming, and in those two
acts Sir Herbert Tree has to take part. The rehearsal afterwards misses the
stimulus of his running comment and his suave sagacities. But it is still
absorbingly interesting. Five minutes of high, emotional tragedy are
sandwiched between discussions of lights, of dresses, of positions. When
anything is not quite right the play is stopped, and voices fall from
intensity to commonplace. Midnight approaches. Here and there a super, who
has not quite enough of the artist's spirit to be able to take a pride and
joy in doing his super's service of standing by and waiting, yawns. But the
producer hammers and hammers away like a metal-worker fashioning a
beautiful gate. With infinite multiplication of touches the production
begins to take its shape.

At 1 A.M. the rehearsal is over. "Things are fairly satisfactory." It has
lasted since 5 P.M. For three more days and nights the same task will be
gone through, so that the "first night" may be perfect and the first-night
audience may have no hint of the labour that perfection has cost.

It is all very fine; in a good producer's hands very artistic. But is it
"dramatic art" in the full sense of the word? The question arises more
insistently when the "production" is not that of a philosophical treatise
in the form of a drama, which must be freely and splendidly illustrated if
it is to "sell" at all, but of a Shakespeare play. Sir Herbert Tree is a
great producer of Shakespeare; and he illustrates dramas of noble passion
and lofty thought with the same elaborate care as he lavishes on a play
like _False Gods_, or some "patriotic spectacle" of snippets and fustian.

There is another school of "producers" in London, aiming at strangeness,
perhaps a little more than at simplicity. It is, in a sense, a school of
revolt against elaborate production. I do not think that either school is
destined to save or to condemn dramatic art.


Meanwhile, the theatres in London (and in the provinces which reproduce
London successes, and also bring, with the aid of their Repertory Theatres,
a valuable addition to the current of dramatic life) can be always trusted
to offer something amusing to all tastes, from the serious to the gay and
the raffish. A very well-defined type of London theatrical entertainment is
the "musical comedy," a taste for which has spread to America, and is now
invading France. It grew out of French _opera-bouffe_ by way of burlesque,
and of the "comic opera" type which Gilbert and Sullivan made famous.
"Musical comedy" has to be bright, tuneful, inconsequential, and
illustrated by charming women in charming costumes. Its aid to the happy
digestion of dinner is one of its chief claims to popularity, and it
strives to amuse without making undue demands on the intelligence.

The explorer in the theatrical life of England must not miss the music
halls--the smaller ones usually owing part of their attraction to the fact
that they are the resort of people whose chief business in life it is to
be gay, the larger ones much more regardful of British Puritanism.

Yes, perhaps in reviewing the whole situation in painting, music, drama,
Art is not so kind to England as Nature; or rather the Englishman does not
give so much loving care to the arts as he does to his gardens and parks.
Nevertheless, England is not a land altogether of Philistines.



After cataloguing carefully the industries which occupy the working hours
of the Englishman and the sports which amuse his leisure, there would still
be left to be considered a great field of activity which can come strictly
under the heading neither of work nor of amusement, though it affords much
of both. That is the field of politics.

Huge amounts of time, energy, money, are expended yearly by the Englishman
on politics. To some of the wealthy and leisured, political activity in
some direction or another is the chief interest of life. To some of the
poor and discontented, politics seems to offer a way to better things. To
the middle classes a degree of political activity is dictated if not by
personal predilection then by the dictates of fashion or by the ambition
to "get on" socially. There is no better way of social advancement than the
way of politics. It is not only that knighthoods, orders, peerages even,
reward the political worker, but that entry into social circles otherwise
closed becomes possible when some mutual political interest smooths the
way. Thus the ranks of those genuinely interested in political issues are
recruited by a great crowd of social aspirants, sincere enough probably,
but with, as their main object, the desire to parade their excellent
political principles as a reason for advancement into "good society."

This aspect of political life is not peculiar to England. Wherever
representative institutions exist it may be found in some degree. But in
England it has gone to an extreme length. The existence of a very numerous
leisured class is partly responsible, no doubt. Another explanation is that
in England with political issues are inextricably involved personal and
clan rivalries. The Montagues and Capulets do not brawl in the streets of
London or Manchester. They fight out their rivalries on the hustings and in
the field of politics. Where there are no ready-made leaders of political
faction in a town or district they soon develop; or there may grow up a
joint-stock rivalry between the political clubs, in which the personal
leadership becomes of minor importance but the corporate struggle for
supremacy is tremendous. Then the position resembles the fierce but on the
whole good-natured contests between football clubs and their supporters.

The rival political organisations, under these circumstances, seek always
eagerly the man who can win or hold the seat, and their chief interest is
that the party platform shall be so framed that it will be most likely to
attract the "wobblers," who are not definitely and permanently bound to
either party. Victory carries with it intense satisfaction. With defeat
there is rarely any enduring bitterness. In politics, as in other games,
the Englishman is a "good sport," and if he loses to-day hopes to win next
time, or consoles himself, when he is permanently and hopelessly
outnumbered, that at least he has won a "moral victory." A "moral victory"
is won when you are decisively beaten, but would certainly have won on
account of the excellence of your cause but that Providence was on the side
of the bigger battalions.

Aside from the main party issue:

    Every little boy or girl that is born alive
    Is born either a little Liberal or a little Conservative.

English political activity finds expression in numberless leagues,
societies, organisations, and unions to promote some special idea in
politics. These usually have a nucleus of enthusiasts and a great body of
followers with no very precise idea of what they want, but an impression
that the league is a good thing because it has this or that personality
among its office-bearers. I tried once to make a census of the political
organisations of England, and gave up the task when the number passed into
the hundreds without the end being in sight. Each party has several
organisations to meet the needs of different types of supporters. Then each
idea claims its league to advocate, and often also its league to oppose.
Further, there are all sorts of leagues which aim at the abolition of
something, and again there are some leagues pseudo-political, which really
have no more serious purpose than afternoon tea.

But usually the purpose is serious and sincere. Else why the street
meeting, which in the English climate is usually a harsh tax on the comfort
of speakers and audience? My first impression in London of one of these
street meetings at first inspired in me ridicule, then a reluctant
admiration. At a street corner--brilliantly lighted from a public-house on
one side and a grocery store on the other--a little pulpit set up in the
road: from it a man speaking vigorously, almost passionately, apparently to
the idle wind, for no one is there to listen, unless indeed that horse
drowsing in the shafts of a cart at the grocery store is listening, and
what looks like sleepiness on its part is really quiet and intelligent
appreciation. This was strange enough to arrest attention. I forgot a
purpose to see from Primrose Hill the young moon rise over London on a
clear night, and stopped to listen. That was the first of the audience. The
speaker had announced, "We are met here to-night to----"; but that was, it
seemed at first, an unjustifiable optimism, for nobody had met; nobody
seemed inclined to meet.

But the speaker, after all, knew. There was to be, later on, a meeting, and
he, with a stolid courage that evoked an admiration strong enough to
smother the first sense of ludicrousness, was making that meeting. To speak
to a meeting which isn't, to pour out eloquence to an empty waste of
street for half an hour or so until the curious are attracted and an odd
bystander swells to a group, and a group to a crowd--that surely calls for
courage of the highest; it calls, too, for that stolid self-confidence and
imperviousness to ridicule which seems characteristic of the Englishman
when he feels that he is in the right.

But very depressing is the beginning of this street meeting. The speaker
has put up his little barricade, a street pulpit of deal, which bears a
placard urging "the electors to insist on a candidate who will support
British work for British hands"; but at first there is neither friend to
help nor enemy to fight. In a little while two supporting speakers appear
with bundles of pamphlets. Three small boys, attracted by curiosity, are
enlisted to distribute these among the audience (as yet non-existent). The
man in the pulpit talks energetically and sensibly. There are all the
essentials of a good meeting, except an audience. The horse at the street
corner still drowses. With irritating persistency a street beggar--a sturdy
young chap apparently, perhaps one of the victims of the political evils
that the speaker is talking of--plays a dismal tune again and again on a
concertina. The air is eager and nipping, and it seems hopeless to expect
that any number will give up their Saturday night to stand listening at
this cold street corner.

[Illustration: HYDE PARK, LONDON]

But gradually the crowd swells. There are at least 150 people listening by
the time that the first speaker has concluded and makes way for another. I
seek from him an explanation of this strange form of political propaganda.
Is this a casual incident or is it a habit? It seems that it is a habit,
the expression of the faith that is in them by a small group of enthusiasts
who think they see England in danger and wish to send to the people a
warning word. The meeting grows with every minute and livens up
considerably. A bystander, on whom Fate has evidently not inflicted a
drought, interrupts persistently, and finally accosts the speaker and puts
an affectionate and unsober hand on his shoulder and wishes to help him to
run the meeting; but the police interfere, and the speaker goes on pouring
out facts in vigorous phrases. Now and again a wife comes into the crowd
and draws away her unwilling husband; for there are Saturday night
marketing duties to be done, and on them political education must wait.
But such losses in the audience are made up by gains, and the meeting goes
forward to a cheerful, even an enthusiastic conclusion. It has dealt with
one of the big questions of the day. But--so strong is the political habit
of the English--it might have attracted almost as much attention if its
object had been the advocacy of the setting up of a Jewish Republic in
Jerusalem, or some amendment of the law to protect hansom cabs from
motor-cab competition.

But political life is not all street-speaking. Indeed, that is generally
left to the stark enthusiasts and to the faddists. When the big actors on
the stage of politics take the platform, it is in a theatre or a great hall
of amusement, and there is an orchestra; sometimes, too, eminent vocalists;
and even occasionally also a cinematograph entertainment, to make the
evening "go off well." I recall a nicely-balanced evening at which there
was a duke in the chair--a true nobleman this particular duke, but not at
all an orator, and he did not attempt to speak. Then a breezy speaker
filled in an hour with advocacy of "the cause"; after that music and moving
pictures for an hour. For the audience the winter evening had been filled
very comfortably. There was something of an atmosphere of "high society,"
some earnest and not very dull explanation of a political issue, and some

To make the pursuit of politics still more comfortable there are very many
political clubs. Almost every electorate has its Conservative Club and its
Liberal Club, to which the only qualification for membership is a sound
political faith. At these clubs there are newspapers, magazines, games of
all sorts, refreshments (at club prices), and occasional political
discussions and lectures. Then in the capital and the big provincial towns
there are clubs of a more "exclusive" type, membership of which is more or
less reserved. The two biggest political clubs are the National
Liberal--with a magnificent house fronting the Thames--and the
Constitutional (Conservative) in Northumberland Avenue. These are the great
popular headquarters for the young fighters of the two big parties. It is
almost necessary to be a member of the National Liberal Club if you wish to
show as an earnest Liberal. There is a popular gibe "from the other side"
which gives the definition of the "complete Liberal": "I have always
refrained from intoxicating liquors; I have married my deceased wife's
sister; none of our children have been vaccinated; and I am a member of the
National Liberal Club." The "other side," galled a little at this, has not
so far responded with anything better than this definition of the "complete
Tory": "I am incurably stupid; and a member of the Constitutional Club."

The party chiefs have their club citadels in Pall Mall, London--the Carlton
on the Unionist side, the Reform on the Liberal side. Here one gets sound
politics of one's own particular brand, with sound port, good dinners, and
comfortable chairs. (The English "club chair," by the way, is the standard
of manly comfort the wide world over. You find the English "club chair"
proudly announced as a luxury in all Europe, Asia, America, Australia, and
Africa; and "club" is a word found in every civilised language.) Membership
of these clubs is difficult to win, and it carries with it some claim to be
considered one of the managing committee of the party. (The Reform,
however, is not quite so rigidly a "party" organisation as the Carlton,
which will force you to resign if your politics do not remain sound from a
Unionist point of view.)

But apart from the great well-defined political clubs there are scores of
minor examples of these social-political organisations. Whenever a
political "group" is formed, it finds the need of a club where it may talk
over its enthusiasms at dinner. Thus when recently Lord Halsbury led a
schism against the main body of opinion among the Unionist peers, a
"Halsbury Club" was formed to band together in social as well as political
unity those who agreed with him. Not all these clubs acquire club-houses.
Sometimes they seek the hospitality of other clubs, sometimes are content
to engage a private room at an hotel for their periodical dinners and

A very interesting political club in England is that secret organisation
known as "the Confederacy," a very advanced and extreme Unionist body,
which has a marked influence on political life, and which is proud of that
testimonial of its usefulness based on the declaration of one of its
opponents that it is an association of "political Jack-the-Rippers."

Who are the Confederates? The names, of course, cannot be disclosed. It is
allowed for any member to declare himself to be a Confederate if he so
chooses. But few care to do so. The strictest secrecy must be maintained as
to his fellow-members, and no report or record is allowed to be taken of
any proceedings of the Confederacy; not even a balance-sheet is ever
disclosed. There is a small inner circle of them--known as "the
Allies"--who manage the finances and administer the affairs of the
Confederacy generally, taking their instructions from the mass of the
members, who meet monthly in a strictly-guarded room of a private club, or
at the house of one of their number, from which all servants are excluded
as soon as the dinner (which ushers in all meetings) is over. The aim is
that no one shall be indictable in the camp of the enemy as a "Confederate"
except on his own confession.

"Who are the Confederates?" cannot therefore be answered with any list of
names. As a class, they represent the young bloods of the Tariff Reform
Party, the forward spirits who believe that in politics one should be
strenuous as well as politic. They have raised among themselves a big
fighting fund. They have at their command a list of speakers (who,
however, are not always allowed to know under what prompting they are sent
out into the political firing line), and they command by various means a
great newspaper influence.

The professed object of secrecy is to secure the greatest possible
efficiency. It is the Unknown that is terrible. A "Jack-the-Ripper" who
openly declared himself would have nothing like the power of one working in
the dark. These political "Jack-the-Rippers" recognise that fact, and do
not in the least object to the savage epithet which they earn by their

A meeting of the Confederacy is always preluded by a dinner. Thus, to the
outer world, and to the servants of the club or of the private house which
is chosen as a meeting-place, it is just a gathering of men to dine
together. After dinner, with the port and the coffee and the cigars, the
doors being barred against the intrusion of servants, business begins.
Every member is entrusted with the duty of observing some phase of the
political fight and reporting thereon. The chances in various electorates
are discussed. Funds are voted, when that is necessary, to assist
candidates "on the right side." Flights of orators are despatched to
points where they are needed. The newspaper side of the campaign is
canvassed. Executive action on all the points raised is left to the three

There is no Liberal analogue--so far as I know--to the Confederacy. But one
might exist without any one knowing of it except the actual members.
Certainly there are secret groups in all the political parties. Sometimes
the secrecy is dictated by real motives of expediency. Sometimes it is just
a device to give zest to a jaded political palate, and is comparable with
the elaborate make-believe of children.

Women are not banished from the political life of England. Almost every
party organisation has a separate branch for women, and the influence of
these women's organisations is very great. Indeed, some believe that the
drawing-room is more powerful than the platform in English public life. But
women do not confine their efforts to the drawing-room. They invade the
platform also and are sometimes very effective speakers indeed. Lately the
agitation for giving women the Parliamentary vote has brought a fresh
incursion of feminine workers into the political field, and some of them
have shown a remarkable originality in educational work. To raise false
alarms of fire so that the Fire Brigades may have useless trouble, to
destroy letters in postal pillar-boxes with corrosives, to break windows,
and to inflict mild assaults on public men--these are some of the recent
methods of political life in England introduced by the agitators for the
enfranchisement of women.

It is curious to note with what relative patience such political methods
are received. If any one attacked the people's letters for some motive not
political, the public indignation would know no bounds, and the sternest
punishment would be insisted upon. But "politics" explains most things,
condones most things. The English have a phrase, "politically speaking,"
which in effect means "not really." They have two great games, cricket and
politics. In cricket you must observe all the rules of fair play with most
scrupulous nicety. In politics there is practically but one rule--to stick
to your side. To say that something is "not cricket" is to signify that it
is within the law, but transgresses some delicate tradition of justice, and
therefore is reprehensible. To say that something is "politics" means that
it must be condoned, unfair though it may seem, because it has a political

In this chat about the political life of England I have sought to be
impartial and "non-party"; and that is, by the way, the one really serious
political misdeed. Every one must have a label of some sort, or otherwise
be accounted somewhat in the category of an unregistered dog.



To keep this England secure, what are the means? A glance at that question
at once makes it necessary to tell of Britain rather than of England. There
is no English Army, no English Navy. In each case it is a British force,
and in the case of the Navy it is being rapidly developed into an Imperial
force representing the strength not merely of England and of Britain, but
also of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the other Dominions. Yet no
picture of England could pass without some reference to the Navy, which is
the supreme maritime force of the world, and the Army, which, though it is
a very thin line these days compared with the great continental masses, is
probably prepared to uphold in the future the great traditions of the past.
And Navy and Army, though not wholly English, are in the main
representative of the senior partner in the British firm.

The problem of the defence of England is a great deal complicated by the
fact that the British power has spread itself so much over the globe.
Outside of Europe it possesses nearly one half of North America, a great
share of the East Indies, the West Indies, and the islands of the Pacific,
the whole of Australia and New Zealand, the best parts of Africa and of
Asia. In past days there have been some astonishing cases of a wide range
of power from a small focus: the Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, the
Portuguese Empire, the Mohammedan Empire, for examples. But in no case was
the comparison between the mother-country and the actual stretch of real
dominion so astonishing as in the case of Britain and her Empire. In most
of those cases, too, the Empire was short-lived, and soon broke up into its
constituent parts. But the British Empire remains incredibly vast, and
seemingly permanent.

The position is that the parent country of that Empire has to face a far
greater task than the securing of her own safety. History shows that part
of the price of Empire to be paid by Britain is a mutual jealousy and
hostility between her and the next greatest Power in Europe. British
foreign policy, more or less consciously, has had to be always founded on
that basis. She has in the past fought down Spain, Holland, France. After
the Napoleonic Era, when Russia seemed to be the paramount power of Europe,
she inevitably set herself to thwarting and checking Russia. When Russian
power lessened and Germany became the first Power of Europe, she likewise
stepped into the place of the Power which is doomed to be in antagonism to
Great Britain. Were German might to fade away, the nation that took
Germany's place as the most powerful in Europe would also take her place as
the feared rival. The British Empire has taken up so much of the limited
room "in the sun" that it must tempt to attack an aspiring Power; and it
must face with a nervous dread the growing strength of the paramount Power
for the time being in Europe.

In the old struggles to maintain the British Empire, we relied successfully
on a policy of "splendid isolation." Without making permanent alliances we
held aloof and when a struggle came threw in our weight with one set of
Powers or the other and usually secured thus a victory. For many reasons
that policy is not the "official" policy of England to-day, though it still
has many warm advocates. But, as under that policy for a century a supreme
Navy was considered to be necessary for Britain, so to-day that need still
survives, and the Navy is the senior defence force of the country. The
reliance on naval strength is so complete that the Army is kept to very
small dimensions, comparatively speaking, and none of the great cities are
fortified. The naval ports have fortifications, but one looks in vain for
fortresses around London, Birmingham, and Manchester. England is committed
to float or sink on the Navy. As Campbell proudly put it:

    Britannia needs no bulwarks,
    No towers along the steep;
    Her march is o'er the mountain waves,
    Her home is on the deep.
    With thunders from her native oak
    She quells the floods below,
    As they roar on the shore
    When the stormy winds do blow;
    When the battle rages loud and long,
    And the stormy winds do blow.

    The meteor flag of England
    Shall yet terrific burn,
    Till danger's troubled night depart,
    And the star of peace return.

This Navy, which has such a great responsibility, has its present
headquarters at Portsmouth and Plymouth on the south coast--great naval
ports since the days of the Armada and the Napoleonic wars, and very handy
in case of war with Spain or France, and in case of expeditions to the
Mediterranean, the West Indies, or the Pacific. But its striking force is
now rapidly being based on new headquarters facing the North Sea, such as
Rosyth in Scotland.

My first view of the British Fleet in the mass was at the great review held
for the Imperial Press Conference delegates in June 1909. It singled that
day out from life as great events of pride or of dread mark days. Out from
grey and reverend London, settling to the tasks and pleasures of day with
quiet confidence, past the villages and fields of the beautiful English
country-side smiling in sweet security, we journeyed to Portsmouth to see
the ramparts of the Empire. The very train, gliding with unruffled speed,
seemed to have a sense of sure stability as it ate up the miles between the
chief citadel of our race and its guardian walls.

The sea was dull and leaden, reflecting a dull and leaden sky, as we
steamed out past the old _Victory_--significant reminder of great danger
of the past greatly overcome--to the Solent, lined like a busy street with
great dull, leaden-hued ships. It seemed fitting so, more fitting to the
spectacle than a bright heaven and dancing water; for the Fleet had little
suggestion of gaiety as it stretched line upon line out to the horizon
where sea and sky met. It told rather of a grim resolve to meet menace with
menace. So dominant was the note of sternness that the colours of the
bright bunting flaunted by the ships faded out of the eye, and one only saw
the vast bulk of brooding power.

There was an Armada of one hundred, and again almost half a hundred
vessels, ranging from the great fortress of the _Dreadnought_ type to the
viperish destroyers, bringing danger with their speed, and the uncanny
submarines, stealing under the water, invisible to the ships they threaten
except for a little staff, slender as the antenna of an insect, serving as
an eye to the brain below, for offence or defence. Yet practically all
those 144 vessels were the fruit of the previous ten years' work; and there
was melancholy proof in the row of big ships sulking in the far
background--apparently stern, vigorous, and great in strength, but excluded
from this parade as useless--of how quickly Time, bringing new inventions,
destroys the usefulness of the sea-fighting machine. How vast the task of
maintaining a power so hard to bring to life, so quick to decline! The
monstrous strength of the elephant comes only of slow growth; once
attained, it is slow to decay and fall. But the unit of sea-power seems
almost shorter of life than of gestation.


Past the serried lines of destroyers, we were carried to cross the stern of
the _Dreadnought_, noting best thus its wide bulk, and turned down a long
lane of water lined with battleships. With happy symbolism, the right edge
of sea-guardians represented the nations of the Empire--_Africa_, the
_Commonwealth_, _New Zealand_, the _Dominion_, _Hindustan_, _Hibernia_,
_Britannia_, with _King Edward VII._ at their head. It was good to be
represented, if only by a name, in such a Fleet. Then to the submarines,
swimming like a school of killer-whales on the surface of the sea; then
again to the big cruisers to see the _Invincible_, the _Inflexible_, the
_Indomitable_, proudly flaunting their justly insolent names; then to note,
with a throb of grateful memory, a new _Temeraire_ of deadliest might
riding beside a ship bearing Nelson's name; and, finally, to be received in
welcome on the giant deck of the _Dreadnought_, noting the linked lines of
bluejackets, the oldest element of British naval supremacy, and the
spider-webs of the wireless telegraphs, the newest sign of British resolve
to keep that supremacy.

Before the _Dreadnought_ there paraded then the submarines, some showing
their decks awash, others betraying their route only by their periscopes,
yet others diving to disappear completely. Next, a herd of black destroyers
rushed by with vindictive speed, discharging unloaded torpedoes at the
_Dreadnought_, whose sides were protected by nets. Each torpedo found the
mark; many, their driving force far from expended, searched and spluttered
at the nets, foaming up the water, spitting out fire and smoke. It was
significant of the perfect confidence in the Navy that no one of the
onlookers crowding the sides of the _Dreadnought_, within a few feet of the
nets, flinched. Yet had one of those torpedoes by mistake been loaded, it
would have sprinkled death far around. But no one thought of danger. It was
"the Navy," which does not often make mistakes.

That was my first view of the British Navy. I had many opportunities
afterwards of studying its ships, its men, its system. I saw, on a day of
grey fog blurring the features of England and hiding its defending sea,
such a day as might make this island fortress open to attack, the _Neptune_
(an improvement even on the _Dreadnought_) take the water. This, the latest
addition to the ramparts of Empire, seemed as if eager to get into her
element, anxious to hurry to the fighting line. The first steps towards
letting her to the sea were taken some while before the appointed time, and
the _Neptune_ glided so swiftly down the ways that she was afloat before
the moment announced for her naming. The water fled back from the onrush of
her vast bulk, then, returning, took the _Neptune_ to its bosom, and she
floated easily and confidently. The launching could not have testified
better to that perfection of calculation and arrangement which Britain
expects of her naval men. One moment the ship pushed a monstrous form high
up on to the land, the flowers bedecking her prow accentuating rather than
relieving the impression of uncouthness; the next moment she was swimming
bravely on the water, a mere hulk of a ship as yet, but in all her lines
telling clearly of vast power and swiftness in defence or in attack.

The simple religious service with which the launching was prefaced came
harmoniously into the spirit of the occasion. There was no bluster of
threat, no echo of the fierce war hymns of the Old Testament; but a humble,
and yet confident invocation to the Supreme Power for guardianship and
safety. It might have been taken as a declaration that this handiwork of
man, terrible engine of battle as it was, had for its aim and end no desire
of rapine or aggression, but that of peace and conservation.

Since the _Neptune_ I have seen many other warships launched, including the
Australian vessels, which are to help the Empire to hold the Pacific
marches; and the Armada seems ever to grow, and yet ever to be thought
insufficient for its grave responsibility.

The influence of the Navy is very great on English public life. It draws
away for its service a considerable proportion of the best young manhood of
the country, and subjects them to a special training and discipline. The
habit of thought and of action that they acquire thus gives a tinge to the
whole life of England, for, after naval training, these men come back to
civil life. In all ranks of life ex-naval men may be found doing good
service, from governors down to grooms. An unfortunate fact is that there
is a pronounced leakage of British naval men to foreign service, attracted
by the pay and the chances of promotion.

Linked up with the Navy is the British Mercantile Marine, the best of the
_personnel_ of which is organised into a naval reserve. At the back of both
are the fishing fleets of England, which were the first nurseries of the
Navy, and are still a valuable school for sea-craft. Calculating together
the Navy, the Mercantile Marine, and the fishing fleets, a large percentage
of England has its home, more or less constantly, on the sea; that sea
which serves England "in the office of a wall, or as a moat defensive to a
house," and which established thus its claim on her blood.

The Army of Britain has had for a century all its work to do abroad, and it
might without exaggeration be said that its chief station now is in India.
But, setting on one side for the moment the garrisons of India, Egypt, and
other parts of the Empire which are peopled by subject races (the free
Dominions are not garrisoned, but defend their own territories with their
own troops; there is one temporary exception, South Africa, but the British
garrison will leave that station shortly), the Regular Army in England has
its chief camp at Aldershot on the road between London and Portsmouth. It
is organised on an expeditionary basis, and is always spoken of as an
expeditionary force. The idea is that, in case of war, it should go abroad
to India or Egypt if an attack were threatened there, to the European
continent if that were the theatre of operations. Meanwhile the supremacy
of the Navy would ensure that no enemy should be able to land a large army
in England. The defence of English territory against such a raiding force
as might elude the Navy is entrusted to the "Territorial troops "--enlisted
on a volunteer basis.

Perhaps the English Army system will be best made clear by tracing it from
its beginnings with the schoolboy age. In the first place, it has to be
noted that there is no compulsory military service in England. Until quite
recently it was possible to recruit for the militia (though not for the
Regular Army) by a ballot, _i.e._ by the drawing of a lot to determine a
certain number of recruits who were forced to join whether they liked it or
not (this system is still in force in the Channel Islands). Now there is
absolutely no compulsion in England to undertake any form of military
service. It is not even compulsory that schoolboys should undertake cadet
drill. The English boy can altogether neglect any training for the defence
of his country if that is his wish and the wish of his parents. In the
majority of cases he takes full advantage of that freedom. If, however, he
has some stirring of a desire to equip himself for defence, he may join the
Boy Scouts--a non-military, but a disciplined organisation recently set
afoot by General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who was a very prominent figure
during the last big war that Britain had. If the English boy is of a more
marked martial inclination he can, whilst at school, usually join a cadet
organisation or the Officer's Training Corps,--a body of cadets recruited
from the higher schools. If it is intended that he should seek a career in
the army as an officer, he will, as a very young boy, be sent to a
preparatory school, and go from that to a military college, and from there,
on passing his examinations, go into the commissioned ranks of the Army.

So much for the boys. The adults may join the Territorial Force, a civilian
army which makes slight demands on their leisure and does not interfere
with them following civilian associations; or they may join the Regular
Army. In every other great country of the world (except the United States)
a certain proportion of adult men have to join the Regular Army for a term
whether they wish to or not; in some countries almost every able-bodied man
is thus passed through the military organisation. But in England the Army
is recruited on a voluntary basis. It is sought to get men by offers of
good pay and good conditions of service. Naturally this makes the British
Army a far more expensive affair, regiment for regiment, than any other
army of the world (again except the United States). Its friends claim,
however, that this extra cost is compensated for by extra quality, and that
the willing recruit will be a more "willing" fighter than any conscript


Though the English are a naval rather than a military nation, their
battlefield record is a particularly proud one. The English character in
battle shows the stubborn, dogged traits of the people from whom the
soldiers are drawn; and since in any British army there is always a great
admixture of Irish and Scottish soldiers to give dash and _elan_, the net
result usually proves to be an ideal fighting force.

To turn to less serious things, the British Regular is a very decorative
personage. It has cost a good deal of money to turn him out, and the
military authorities insist that he should show that money's worth. This is
partly from pride in the force, partly from a desire to encourage
recruiting for the Army by the parading in the streets of these
well-set-up, gorgeously uniformed men. The regiments kept in London
barracks are "show" regiments, and a very fine note of pageantry they bring
to the old grey city. The ceremony of changing the guard at the palaces
draws a crowd of spectators daily; and he is an unlucky wight indeed who
does not find often his glimpse of London park or road brightened suddenly
by the passage of a troop of cavalry, plumes nodding, cuirasses gleaming,
spirited horses pannading.

The populace love the soldiers. Yet there is no abatement of the old
English jealousy against encroachments by standing armies. The military
power is kept strictly subservient to the civil power, as a hundred and one
regulations and customs constantly remind. The civilian people are resolved
that their defenders shall never become aggressors against their liberties.
To the visitor from the European continent, where the soldier is supreme,
the position of the military force in England seems strange, even
undignified. But it is a jealously guarded survival of the days of old
strifes, when there was real danger of a king using the army to destroy the
liberties of the common people. There is little or no reason for the
survival now; but the sentiment of it is good.

With that I may well conclude these notes on England; for, after the green
fields and the dear homes of England, the strongest trait of the country's
character is the tender guardianship of old forms and symbols and customs.
England does not lag behind in the work of present-day modern civilisation.
But as she goes forward she takes the Past affectionately along with her.


Alcuin, 47

Aldershot, 198

Ampthill Park, 36

Angles, 17

Anglo-Saxon, the, 15, 24

Anglo-Saxon victory, 18

Army, the, 187

Arnold, Matthew, 107, 131

Arthur, Prince, 129, 130

Arthurian legend, 19

Arts in England, the, 155

Avebury temple, 10

Balsham, Hugh de, 51

Bank Holiday, 80

Bath, 102, 110, 111, 136

Beau Nash, 111

Becket, Thomas à, 112, 129

Beverley, John of, 47

Bird-Cage Walk, 104

Boadicea, 110

Bodichon, Madame, 52

Bodleian Library, 55

Bourne End, 123

Boy Scouts, 88, 199

Bristol, 112

British climate, 9

British Empire, the, 2, 188, 189

British Mercantile Marine, 197

British oysters, 14

Briton, ancient, 6, 11

Brittany, 5

Browning, 38

Buckingham Palace, 79

Buckinghamshire, 135

Cædmon, 46

Cæsar, Julius, 6, 18, 102, 111, 121

"Cæsar's camps," 14

Cambridge, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 136

Cambridge University, 48

Campbell, 190

Canterbury, 112, 129, 131, 135

Carausius, 13, 15

Casserterrides, the, 8

Caxton, 19

"Celtic fringe," 11, 160

Changing the guard, 201

Charles I., 69, 73

Charles II., 56

Chelsea, 121

Chester, 25, 111

Cities of England, the, 101

Clough, Miss Anne J., 52

Cornwall, 5, 9, 11, 21, 37

"Coronation" stone, the, 133

Coventry Patmore, 38

Cricket, 94, 185

Cromwell, 135

Dane, the, 15, 17

Davies, Miss Emily, 52

Defence of England, the, 187

Devon, 11, 37

Devonshire Moors, 28

Disraeli, 135

Dobell, 116

Dover, 112

Drake, Sir Francis, 5, 112

_Dreadnought_, the, 193, 194, 195

Durham, 109, 141

Durham, William of, 55

East End, the, 153

Education, English system of, 43

Educational Institutions in England, 45

Edward I., 50

Edward II., 51

Ely, 47

England at play, 81

English agriculture, 70, 72

English Channel, 1

English kindliness, 137

English manor house, an, 33, 78

English public service, 75

English spring, 117

English work, solidness and honesty of, 74

Englishman, æsthetic, 31

Englishman, the, as an exile, 34

Englishman's love of nature, 31

Ethelred, 54

Eton, 63, 122

Fen lands, 73

Flamborough Head, 42

Fleet Street, 103, 127

Flying Meetings, 98

Football, 94

Forest of Dean, 73

Fox-hunting, 96

Fredeswide, 54

Gauls, the, 5, 6

Giraldus Cambrensis, 130

Girton College, 52

"Girton Girl," the, 47

Glastonbury, 7, 130, 131, 135

"Grand tour," the, 157

Greenwich, 41, 58, 121

Grey, the poet, 78

Guinevere, 131

Gulf Stream, the, 1, 9, 12, 37

Hampden, 135

Hampstead, 139

Hampstead Heath, 81

Hampton Court, 121, 122

Harrow, 63

Hecatæus, 9

Hedges, the, 30

Henry I., 47

Henry VIII., 121, 130

Home-management, 79

Horse Guards, the, 104

Horse-racing, 95

House of Commons, 65, 69

House of Lords, 65, 69

Houses of Parliament, 69, 102

Hugolina, Dame, 47

Hyde Park, 107

Hyperboreans, Isle of the, 9

"Ipswich Man," the, 10

Jutes, 17

Kensington Gardens, 107

Kent, 17, 42, 116

Kew Gardens, 35, 120

King Arthur, 21, 112, 130

Land's End, 37

Landscape, human interest in, 4

Leonidas, 4

Life of the lowly, the, 145

London, 101, 102, 116, 136

London coster, the, 83

London parks, 105

"Lord Mayor's Day," 87, 88, 89, 90

Malory, Sir Thomas, 21

Marches of Wales, 11

Marsh village, the, 7

May Day, 90, 91, 92

May-pole, the, 91

Medland Hall, 147, 148

Merton, Walter de, 51

Midlands, the, 109, 139

Milton, John, 58, 135

"Mr. Speaker," 65

Music, English, 158

Music halls, the, 169

"Musical Comedy," 169

Navy, influence of the, 196

Navy, the, 187, 198

Nelson's Monument, 102

Neolithic Age, 10

New Forest, the, 42, 73

Newnham College, 52

"Newnham Girl," the, 47

Norfolk Broads, 28

Norman, the, 15, 22

Norman architecture, 22

Norman Conquest, 54

Norsemen, 17

Northampton Camp, 6

Olympic Games, 100

Oxford, 41, 46, 53, 55, 59, 60, 62, 116, 136

Pageants, 24

Pall Mall, 103

"Park-like" England, 29

Peacock, Thomas Love, 17

Pepys, 56, 60, 113

Peterborough, 47

"Philistinism" in England, 89

Pictures, English collections of, 156

Plague Year, the, 56

Plymouth, 37, 112, 191

Political activity, English, 174

Political Clubs, 179, 181

Political life in England, 171

Political organisations, 173

Population, the poorer, 137

Portsmouth, 191

"Predominant partner," 24

Pre-Roman Briton, 7

Pre-Roman relics, 8

Richmond, 120

Richmond Hill, 120

Rivers of England, the, 114

Rochester, 112

Roman culture, 23

Roman invasion, 13

Roman military camps, 14

Roman roads, 14

"Rowton House," a, 147

Rugby, 63

St. Albans, 109, 110, 139

St. Augustine, 112, 129

St. Joseph of Arimathea, 131

St. Paul's, 103, 135

Salisbury, 113

Saxons, 17

School of York, 46

Scotland, regalia of, 133

Scotland Yard, 76

Shakespeare, 90, 109, 168

Southampton, 129

Southend, 84

Spanish Armada, 5

"Sport," 93

Stoke Court, 78

Stonehenge, 10

Stourbridge Fair, 49

Strand, the, 102

Stratford-on-Avon, 109

Street meetings, 174

"Suffragettes," 67

Sun worship, 9

Surrey Downs, the, 28

Sussex Marshes, 38

Terra Alba, 1

Territorial Force, the, 200

Thames, the, 12, 103, 117, 120, 123

Thames Embankment, 149

Thames Valley, the, 28, 37, 41, 116, 122

Tower of London, 105

Tree, Sir Herbert, 162

Trees, regard for in England, 36

Triskele, the, 7

Venerable Bede, the, 46

Watling Street, 111

Westminster, 70, 135

Westminster Abbey, 103, 131, 132, 135

Westminster Hall, 69

White Cliffs, 5

Whiteway, Sir Thomas, 63

Wilfrid of York, 47

William of Durham, 55

William of Normandy, 5

William the Conqueror, 73

Winchester, 63, 111

Windsor, 122

Winkelried, Arnold, 4

Wolsey, Lord, 121

Worcester, 129, 131, 135

Worcestershire, 135

Wren, Matthew, 51

Wren, Sir Christopher, 51, 56

Wykeham, William of, 55

York, 46, 131

Yorkshire, 17, 116

Yorkshire Hills, the, 38

Yorkshire Wolds, the, 41

_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.


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