Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Brighton Road - The Classic Highway to the South
Author: Harper, Charles G. (Charles George), 1863-1943
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Brighton Road - The Classic Highway to the South" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Libraries.)



THE BRIGHTON ROAD



HISTORIES OF THE ROADS

BY CHARLES G. HARPER.

THE BRIGHTON ROAD: The Classic Highway to the South.

THE GREAT NORTH ROAD: London to York.

THE GREAT NORTH ROAD: York to Edinburgh.

THE DOVER ROAD: Annals of an Ancient Turnpike.

THE BATH ROAD: History, Fashion and Frivolity on an old Highway.

THE MANCHESTER AND GLASGOW ROAD: London to Manchester.

THE MANCHESTER ROAD: Manchester to Glasgow.

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD: London to Birmingham.

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD: Birmingham to Holyhead.

THE HASTINGS ROAD: And The "Happy Springs of Tunbridge."

THE OXFORD, GLOUCESTER AND MILFORD HAVEN ROAD: London to Gloucester.

THE OXFORD, GLOUCESTER AND MILFORD HAVEN ROAD: Gloucester to Milford
Haven.

THE NORWICH ROAD: An East Anglian Highway.

THE NEWMARKET, BURY, THETFORD AND CROMER ROAD.

THE EXETER ROAD: The West of England Highway.

THE PORTSMOUTH ROAD.

THE CAMBRIDGE, KING'S LYNX AND ELY ROAD.



[Illustration: GEORGE THE FOURTH. _From the painting by Sir Thomas
Lawrence, R.A._]



  _The_
  BRIGHTON ROAD

  The Classic Highway to the South

  _By_ CHARLES G. HARPER

  _Illustrated by the Author, and from old-time
  Prints and Pictures_

  [Illustration]

  LONDON:
  CECIL PALMER
  OAKLEY HOUSE, BLOOMSBURY STREET, W.C. 1



  _First Published_ - 1892
  _Second Edition_ - 1906
  _Third and Revised Edition_ - 1922

  Printed in Great Britain by C. TINLING & CO., LTD.,
  53, Victoria Street, Liverpool,
  and 187, Fleet Street, London.



PREFACE


_Many years ago it occurred to this writer that it would be an interesting
thing to write and illustrate a book on the Road to Brighton. The genesis
of that thought has been forgotten, but the book was written and
published, and has long been out of print. And there might have been the
end of it, but that (from no preconceived plan) there has since been added
a long series of books on others of our great highways, rendering
imperative re-issues of the parent volume._

_Two considerations have made that undertaking a matter of considerable
difficulty, either of them sufficiently weighty. The first was that the
original book was written at a time when the author had not arrived at a
settled method; the second is found in the fact of the BRIGHTON ROAD being
not only the best known of highways, but also the one most susceptible to
change._

_When it is remembered that motor-cars have come upon the roads since
then, that innumerable sporting "records" in cycling, walking, and other
forms of progression have since been made, and that in many other ways the
road is different, it was seen that not merely a re-issue of the book, but
a book almost entirely re-written and re-illustrated was required. This,
then, is what was provided in a second edition, published in 1906. And now
another, the third, is issued, bringing the story of this highway up to
date._

CHARLES G. HARPER.

_March, 1922._



THE ROAD TO BRIGHTON


                                              MILES

  Westminster Bridge (Surrey side) to--

  St. Mark's Church, Kennington               1-1/2

  Brixton Church                              3

  Streatham                                   5-1/2

  Norbury                                     6-3/4

  Thornton Heath                              8

  Croydon (Whitgift's Hospital)               9-1/2

  Purley Corner                               12

  Smitham Bottom                              13-1/2

  Coulsdon Railway Station                    14-1/4

  Merstham                                    17-3/4

  Redhill (Market Hall)                       20-1/2

  Horley ("Chequers")                         24

  Povey Cross                                 25-3/4

  Kimberham Bridge (Cross River Mole)         26

  Lowfield Heath                              27

  Crawley                                     29

  Pease Pottage                               31-1/4

  Hand Cross                                  33-1/2

  Staplefield Common                          34-3/4

  Slough Green                                36-1/4

  Whiteman's Green                            37-1/4

  Cuckfield                                   37-1/2

  Ansty Cross                                 38

  Bridge Farm (Cross River Adur)              40-1/4

  St. John's Common                           40-3/4

  "Friar's Oak" Inn                           42-3/4

  Stonepound                                  43-1/2

  Clayton                                     44-1/2

  Pyecombe                                    45-1/2

  Patcham                                     48

  Withdean                                    48-3/4

  Preston                                     49-3/4

  Brighton (Aquarium)                         51-1/2


THE SUTTON AND REIGATE ROUTE

  St. Mark's, Kennington                       1-1/2

  Tooting Broadway                             6

  Mitcham                                      8-1/4

  Sutton ("Greyhound")                        11

  Tadworth                                    16

  Lower Kingswood                             17

  Reigate Hill                                19-1/4

  Reigate (Town Hall)                         20-1/2

  Woodhatch ("Old Angel")                     21-1/2

  Povey Cross                                 26

  Brighton                                    51-5/8


THE BOLNEY AND HICKSTEAD ROUTE

  Hand Cross                                  33-1/2

  Bolney                                      39

  Hickstead                                   40-1/2

  Savers Common                               42

  Newtimber                                   44-1/2

  Pyecombe                                    45

  Brighton                                    50-1/2



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                             PAGE

  George the Fourth                                  Frontispiece

  Sketch-map showing Principal Routes to Brighton               4

  Stage Waggon, 1808                                           13

  The "Talbot" Inn Yard, Borough, about 1815                   17

  Me and My Wife and Daughter                                  19

  The "Duke of Beaufort" Coach starting from the "Bull
  and Mouth" Office, Piccadilly Circus, 1826                   31

  The "Age," 1829, starting from Castle Square, Brighton       35

  Sir Charles Dance's Steam-carriage leaving London for
  Brighton, 1833                                               39

  The Brighton Day Mails crossing Hookwood Common, 1838        43

  The "Age," 1852, crossing Ham Common                         47

  The "Old Times," 1888                                        51

  The "Comet," 1890                                            55

  John Mayall, Junior, 1869                                    70

  The Stock Exchange Walk: E. F. Broad at Horley               83

  Miss M. Foster, paced by Motor Cycle, passing Coulsdon       86

  Kennington Gate: Derby Day, 1839                             95

  Streatham Common                                            101

  Streatham                                                   107

  The Dining Hall, Whitgift Hospital                          111

  The Chapel, Hospital of the Holy Trinity                    113

  Croydon Town Hall                                           120

  Chipstead Church                                            135

  Merstham                                                    139

  Gatton Hall and "Town Hall"                                 144

  The Switchback Road, Earlswood Common                       148

  Thunderfield Castle                                         150

  The "Chequers," Horley                                      151

  The "Six Bells," Horley                                     153

  The "Cock," Sutton, 1789                                    157

  Kingswood Warren                                            162

  The Suspension Bridge, Reigate Hill                         163

  The Tunnel, Reigate                                         167

  Tablet, Batswing Cottages                                   172

  The Floods at Horley                                        174

  Charlwood                                                   176

  A Corner in Newdigate Church                                177

  On the Road to Newdigate                                    179

  Ifield Mill Pond                                            180

  Crawley: Looking South                                      183

  Crawley, 1789                                               185

  An Old Cottage at Crawley                                   188

  The "George," Crawley                                       189

  Sculptured Emblem of the Holy Trinity, Crawley Church       191

  Pease Pottage                                               197

  The "Red Lion," Hand Cross                                  201

  Cuckfield, 1789                                             203

  The Road out of Cuckfield                                   207

  Cuckfield Place                                             210

  The Clock-Tower and Haunted Avenue, Cuckfield Place         211

  Harrison Ainsworth                                          213

  Old Sussex Fireback, Ridden's Farm                          223

  Jacob's Post                                                224

  Clayton Tunnel                                              233

  Clayton Church and the South Downs                          235

  The Ruins of Slaugham Place                                 239

  The Entrance: Ruins of Slaugham Place                       241

  Bolney                                                      243

  From a Brass at Slaugham                                    244

  Hickstead Place                                             245

  Newtimber Place                                             247

  Pyecombe: Junction of the Roads                             249

  Patcham                                                     251

  Old Dovecot, Patcham                                        254

  Preston Viaduct: Entrance to Brighton                       256

  The Pavilion                                                259

  The Cliffs, Brighthelmstone, 1789                           263

  Dr. Richard Russell                                         265

  St. Nicholas, the old Parish Church of Brighthelmstone      269

  The Aquarium, before destruction of the Chain Pier          271



THE BRIGHTON ROAD



I


The road to Brighton--the main route, pre-eminently _the_ road--is
measured from the south side of Westminster Bridge to the Aquarium. It
goes by Croydon, Redhill, Horley, Crawley, and Cuckfield, and is (or is
supposed to be) 51-1/2 miles in length. Of this prime route--the classic
way--there are several longer or shorter variations, of which the way
through Clapham, Mitcham, Sutton, and Reigate, to Povey Cross is the
chief. The modern "record" route is the first of these two, so far as Hand
Cross, where it branches off and, instead of going through Cuckfield,
proceeds to Brighton by way of Hickstead and Bolney, avoiding Clayton Hill
and rejoining the initial route at Pyecombe.

[Sidenote: VARIOUS ROUTES]

The oldest road to Brighton is now but little used. It is not to be
indicated in few words, but may be taken as the line of road from London
Bridge, along the Kennington Road, to Brixton, Croydon, Godstone Green,
Tilburstow Hill, Blindley Heath, East Grinstead, Maresfield, Uckfield, and
Lewes; some fifty-nine miles. This is without doubt the most picturesque
route. A circuitous way, travelled by some coaches was by Ewell,
Leatherhead, Dorking, Horsham, and Mockbridge (doubtless, bearing in mind
the ancient mires of Sussex, originally "Muckbridge"), and was 57-1/2
miles in length. An extension of this route lay from Horsham through
Steyning, bringing up the total mileage to sixty-one miles three furlongs.

This multiplicity of ways meant that, in the variety of winding lanes
which led to the Sussex coast, long before the fisher village of
Brighthelmstone became that fashionable resort, Brighton, there were
places on the way quite as important to the old waggoners and carriers as
anything at the end of the journey. They set out the direction, and roads,
when they began to be improved, were often merely the old routes widened,
straightened, and metalled. They were kept very largely to the old lines,
and it was not until quite late in the history of Brighton that the
present "record" route in its entirety existed at all.

Among the many isolated roads made or improved, which did not in the
beginning contemplate getting to Brighton at all, the pride of place
certainly belongs to the ten miles between Reigate and Crawley, originally
made as a causeway for horsemen, and guarded by posts, so that wheeled
traffic could not pass. This was constructed under the Act 8th William
III., 1696, and was the first new road made in Surrey since the time of
the Romans.

It remained as a causeway until 1755, when it was widened and thrown open
to all traffic, on paying toll. It was not only the first road to be made,
but the last to maintain toll-gates on the way to Brighton, the Reigate
Turnpike Trust expiring on the midnight of October 31st, 1881, from which
time the Brighton Road became free throughout.

Meanwhile, the road from London to Croydon was repaired in 1718; and at
the same time the road from London to Sutton was declared to be "dangerous
to all persons, horses, and other cattle," and almost impassable during
five months of the year, and was therefore repaired, and toll-gates set up
along it.

Between 1730 and 1740 Westminster Bridge was building, and the roads in
South London, including the Westminster Bridge Road and the Kennington
Road, were being made. In 1755 the road (about ten miles) across the
heaths and downs from Sutton to Reigate, was authorised, and in 1770 the
Act was passed for widening and repairing the lanes from Povey Cross to
County Oak and Brighthelmstone, by Cuckfield. By this time, it will be
seen, Brighton had begun to be the goal of these improvements.

The New Chapel and Copthorne road, on the East Grinstead route, was
constructed under the Act of 1770, the route across St. John's Common and
Burgess Hill remodelled in 1780, and the road from South Croydon to
Smitham Bottom, Merstham, and Reigate was engineered out of the narrow
lanes formerly existing on that line in 1807-8, being opened, "at present
toll-free," June 4th. 1808.

In 1813 the Bolney and Hickstead road, between Hand Cross and Pyecombe,
was opened, and in 1816 the slip-road, avoiding Reigate, through Redhill,
to Povey Cross. Finally, sixty yards were saved on the Reigate route by
the cutting of the tunnel under Reigate Castle, in 1823. In this way the
Brighton road, on its several branches, grew to be what it is now.

The Brighton Road, it has already been said, is measured from the south
side of Westminster Bridge, which is the proper starting-point for
record-makers and breakers; but it has as many beginnings as Homer had
birthplaces. Modern coaches and motor-car services set out from the
barrack-like hotels of Northumberland Avenue, or other central points, and
the old carriers came to and went from the Borough High Street; but the
Corinthian starting-point in the brave old days of the Regency and of
George the Fourth was the "White Horse Cellar"--Hatchett's "White Horse
Cellar"--in Piccadilly. There, any day throughout the year, the knowing
ones were gathered--with those green goslings who wished to be thought
knowing--exchanging the latest scandal and sporting gossip of the road,
and rooking and being rooked; the high-coloured, full-blooded ancestors of
the present generation, which looks upon them as a quite different order
of beings, and can scarce believe in the reality of those full habits,
those port-wine countenances, those florid garments that were
characteristic of the age.

[Illustration: SKETCH-MAP SHOWING PRINCIPAL ROUTES TO BRIGHTON.]

No one now starts from the "White Horse Cellar," for the excellent reason
that it does not now exist. The original "Cellar" was a queer place.
Figure to yourself a basement room, with sanded floor, and an odour like
that of a wine-vault, crowded with Regency bucks drinking or discussing
huge beef-steaks.

It was situated on the south side of Piccadilly, where the Hotel Ritz now
stands, and is first mentioned in 1720, when it was given its name by
Williams, the landlord, in compliment to the House of Hanover, the
newly-established Royal House of Great Britain, whose cognizance was a
white horse. Abraham Hatchett first made the Cellar famous, both as a
boozing-ken and a coach-office, and removed it to the opposite side of the
street, where, as "Hatchett's Hotel and White Horse Cellar." it remained
until 1884, when the present "Albemarle" arose on its site, with a "White
Horse" restaurant in the basement.

[Sidenote: SPORTSMEN]

What Piccadilly and the neighbourhood of the "White Horse Cellar" were
like in the times of Tom and Jerry, we may easily discover from the
contemporary pages of "Real Life in London," written by one "Bob Tallyho,"
recounting the adventures of himself and "Tom Dashall." A prize-fight was
to be held on Copthorne Common between Jack Randall, "the
Nonpareil"--called in the pronunciation of that time the "Nunparell"--and
Martin, endeared to "the Fancy" as the "Master of the Rolls."[1]
Naturally, the roads were thronged, and "Piccadilly was all in
motion--coaches, carts, gigs, tilburies, whiskies, buggies, dogcarts,
sociables, dennets, curricles, and sulkies were passing in rapid
succession, intermingled with tax-carts and waggons decorated with laurel,
conveying company of the most varied description. Here was to be seen the
dashing _Corinthian_ tickling up his _tits_, and his _bang-up set-out_ of
_blood and bone_, giving the go-by to a _heavy drag_ laden with eight
brawny, bull-faced blades, smoking their way down behind a skeleton of a
horse, to whom, in all probability, a good feed of corn would have been a
luxury; _pattering_ among themselves, occasionally _chaffing_ the more
elevated drivers by whom they were surrounded, and pushing forward their
nags with all the ardour of a British merchant intent upon disposing of a
valuable cargo of foreign goods on 'Change. There was a waggon full of
_all sorts_ upon the _lark_, succeeded by a _donkey-cart_ with four
insides: but _Neddy_, not liking his burthen, stopped short in the way of
a dandy, whose horse's head, coming plump up to the back of the crazy
vehicle at the moment of its stoppage, threw the rider into the arms of a
dustman, who, hugging his _customer_ with the determined grasp of a bear,
swore, d--n his eyes, he had saved his life, and he expected he would
stand something handsome for the Gemmen all round, for if he had not
pitched into their cart he would certainly have broke his neck; which
being complied with, though reluctantly, he regained his saddle, and
proceeded a little more cautiously along the remainder of the road, while
groups of pedestrians of all ranks and appearances lined each side."

On their way they pass Hyde Park Corner, where they encounter one of a
notorious trio of brothers, friends of the Prince Regent and companions of
his in every sort of excess--the Barrymores, to wit, named severally
Hellgate, Newgate, and Cripplegate, the last of this unholy trinity so
called because of his chronic limping; the two others' titles, taken with
the characters of their bearers, are self-explanatory.

Dashall points his lordship out to his companion, who is new to London
life, and requires such explanations.

[Sidenote: LORD CRIPPLEGATE]

"The driver of that tilbury," says he, "is the celebrated Lord
Cripplegate,[2] with his usual equipage; his blue cloak with a scarlet
lining hanging loosely over the vehicle gives an air of importance to his
appearance, and he is always attended by that boy, who has been
denominated his Cupid: he is a nobleman by birth, a gentleman by courtesy
(oh, witty Dashall!), and a gamester by profession. He exhausted a large
estate upon _odd and even_, _seven's the main_, etc., till, having lost
sight of the _main chance_, he found it necessary to curtail his
establishment and enliven his prospects by exchanging a first floor for a
second, without an opportunity of ascertaining whether or not these
alterations were best suited to his high notions or exalted taste; from
which, in a short time, he was induced, either by inclination or
necessity, to take a small lodging in an obscure street, and to sport a
gig and one horse, instead of a curricle and pair, though in former times
he used to drive four-in-hand, and was acknowledged to be an excellent
whip. He still, however, possessed money enough to collect together a
large quantity of halfpence, which in his hours of relaxation he managed
to turn to good account by the following stratagem:--He distributed his
halfpence on the floor of his little parlour in straight lines, and
ascertained how many it would require to cover it. Having thus prepared
himself, he invited some wealthy spendthrifts (with whom he still had the
power of associating) to sup with him, and he welcomed them to his
habitation with much cordiality. The glass circulated freely, and each
recounted his gaming or amorous adventures till a late hour, when, the
effects of the bottle becoming visible, he proposed, as a momentary
suggestion, to name how many halfpence, laid side by side, would carpet
the floor, and offered to lay a large wager that he would guess the
nearest.

"'Done! done!' was echoed round the room. Every one made a deposit of
£100, and every one made a guess, equally certain of success; and his
lordship declaring he had a large stock of halfpence by him, though
perhaps not enough, the experiment was to be tried immediately. 'Twas an
excellent hit!

"The room was cleared; to it they went; the halfpence were arranged rank
and file in military order, when it appeared that his lordship had
certainly guessed (as well he might) nearest to the number. The
consequence was an immediate alteration of his lordship's residence and
appearance: he got one step in the world by it. He gave up his second-hand
gig for one warranted new; and a change in his vehicle may pretty
generally be considered as the barometer of his pocket."

And so, with these piquant biographical remarks, they betook themselves
along the road in the early morning, passing on their way many curious
itinerants, whose trades have changed and decayed, and are now become
nothing but a dim and misty memory; as, for instance, the sellers of warm
"salop," the forerunners of the early coffee-stalls of our own day.



II


But hats off to the Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent, the King! Never,
while the Brighton Road remains the road to Brighton, shall it be
dissociated from George the Fourth, who, as Prince, had a palace at either
end, and made these fifty-odd miles in a very special sense a _Via Regia_.
It was in 1782, when but twenty years of age, that he first knew Brighton,
and until the last--for close upon forty-eight years--it retained his
affections. He is thus the presiding genius of the way; and because, when
we speak or think of the Brighton Road, we cannot help thinking of him, I
have appropriately placed the portrait of George the Fourth, by the
courtly Lawrence, in this book.

The Prince and King was the inevitable product of his times and of his
upbringing: we mostly are. Only the rarest and most forceful figures can
mould the world to their own form.

[Sidenote: THE PRINCE]

The character of George the Fourth has been the theme of writers upon
history and sociology, of essayists, diarists, and gossip-mongers without
number, and most of them have pictured him in very dark colours indeed.
But Horace Walpole, perhaps the clearest-headed of this company, shows in
his "Last Journals" that from his boyhood the Prince was governed in the
stupidest way--in a manner, indeed, but too well fitted to spoil a spirit
so high and so impetuous, and impulses so generous as then were his.

He proves what we may abundantly learn from other sources, that the
narrow-minded and obstinate George the Third, petty and parochial in
public and in private, was jealous of his son's superior parts, and
endeavoured to hide his light beneath the bushel of seclusion and
inadequate training. It was impossible for such a father to appreciate
either the qualities or the defects of such a son. "The uncommunicative
selfishness and pride of George the Third confined him to domestic
virtues," says Walpole, and adds, "Nothing could equal the King's
attention to seclude his son and protract his nonage. It went so absurdly
far that he was made to wear a shirt with a frilled collar like that of
babies. He one day took hold of his collar and said to a domestic, 'See
how I am treated!'"

The Duke of Montagu, too, was charged with the education of the Prince,
and "he was utterly incapable of giving him any kind of instruction....
The Prince was so good-natured, but so uninformed, that he often said, 'I
wish anybody would tell me what I ought to do; nobody gives me any
instruction for my conduct.'" The absolute poverty of the instruction
afforded him, the false and narrow ways of the royal household, and the
evil example and low companionship of his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland,
did much to spoil the Prince.

To quote Walpole again: "It made men smile to find that in the palace of
piety and pride his Royal Highness had learnt nothing but the dialect of
footmen and grooms.... He drunk hard, swore, and passed every night in[3]
...; such were the fruits of his being locked up in the palace of piety."

He proved, too, an intractable and undutiful son; but that was the result
to be expected, and we cannot join Thackeray in his sentimental snivel
over George the Third.

He was a faithless husband, but his wife was impossible, and even the mob
who supported her quailed when the Marquis of Anglesey, baited in front of
his house and compelled to drink her health, did so with the bitter rider,
"And may all your wives be like her!"

All high-spirited young England flocked to the side of the Prince of
Wales. He was the Grand Master of Corinthianism and Tom-and-Jerryism. It
was he who peopled these roads with a numerous and brilliant concourse of
whirling travellers, where before had been only infrequent plodders amidst
the Sussex sloughs. To his princely presence, radiant by the Old Steyne,
hasted all manner of people; prince and prizefighter, statesman and
nobleman; beauties noble and ignoble, and all who _lived_ their lives.
There he made incautious guests helplessly drunk on the potent old brandy
he called "Diabolino," and then exposed them in embarrassing situations;
and there--let us remember it--he entertained, and was the beneficent
patron of, the foremost artists and literary men of his age. The
_Zeitgeist_ (the Spirit of the Time) resided in, was personified in, and
radiated from him. He was the First Gentleman in Europe, but is to us, in
the perspective of a hundred years or so, something more: the type and
exemplar of an age.

He should have been endowed with perennial youth, but even his splendid
vitality faded at last, and he grew stout. Leigh Hunt called him a "fat
Adonis of fifty," and was flung into prison for it; and prison is a
fitting place for a satirist who is stupid enough to see a misdemeanour in
those misfortunes. No one who could help it would be fat, or fifty.
Besides, to accuse one royal personage of being fat is to reflect upon
all: it is an accompaniment of royalty.

Thackeray denounced his wig; but there is a prejudice in favour of flowing
locks, and the King gracefully acknowledged it. One is not damned for
being fat, fifty, and wearing a wig; and it seems a curious code of
morality that would have it so; for although we may not all lose our hair
nor grow fat, we must all, if we are not to die young, grow old and pass
the grand climacteric.

There has been too much abuse of the Regency times. Where modern
moralists, folded within their little sheep-walks from observation of the
real world, mistake is in comparing those times with these, to the
disadvantage of the past. They know nothing of life in the round, and
seeing it only in the flat, cannot predicate what exists on the other
side. To them there is, indeed, no other side, and things, despite the
poet, _are_ what they seem, and nothing else.

They lash the manners of the Regency, and think they are dealing out
punishment to a bygone state of things; but human nature is the same in
all centuries. The fact is so obvious that one is ashamed to state it. The
Regency was a terrible time for gambling; but Tranby Croft had a similar
repute when Edward the Seventh was Prince of Wales. Bridge is a fine game,
and what, think you, supports the evening newspapers? The news? Certainly:
the Betting News. Cock-fighting was a brutal sport, and is now illegal,
but is it dead? Oh dear, no. Virtue was not general in the picturesque
times of George the Fourth. Is it now? Study the Cause Lists of the
Divorce Courts. Worse offences are still punished by law, but are later
condoned or explained by Society as an eccentricity. Society a hundred
years ago did not plumb such depths.

In short, behind the surface of things, the Regency riot not only exists,
but is outdone, and Tom and Jerry, could they return, would find
themselves very dull dogs indeed. It is all the doing of the middle
classes, that the veil is thrown over these things. In times when the
middle class and the Nonconformist Conscience traditionally lived at
Clapham, it mattered comparatively little what excesses were committed;
but that class has so increased that it has to be subdivided into Upper
and Lower, and has Claphams of its own everywhere. It is--or they
are--more wealthy than before, and they read things, you know, and are a
power in Parliament, and are something in the dominie sort to those other
classes above and below.



III


[Sidenote: SOCIETY: THEN AND NOW]

The coaching and waggoning history of the road to Brighthelmstone (as it
then was called) emerges dimly out of the formless ooze of tradition in
1681. In De Laune's "Present State of Great Britain," published in that
year, in the course of a list of carriers, coaches, and stage-waggons in
and out of London, we find Thomas Blewman, carrier, coming from
"Bredhempstone" to the "Queen's Head," Southwark, on Wednesdays, and,
setting forth again on Thursdays, reaching Shoreham the same day: which
was remarkably good travelling for a carrier's waggon in the seventeenth
century. Here, then, we have the Father Adam, the great original, so far
as records can tell us, of all the after charioteers of the Brighton Road.
It is not until 1732, that, from the pages of "New Remarks on London,"
published by the Company of Parish Clerks, we hear anything further. At
that date a coach set out on Thursdays from the "Talbot," in the Borough
High Street, and a van on Tuesdays from the "Talbot" and the "George." In
the summer of 1745 the "Flying Machine" left the "Old Ship,"
Brighthelmstone at 5.30 a.m., and reached Southwark in the evening.

But the first extended and authoritative notice is found in 1746, when the
widow of the Lewes carrier advertised in _The Lewes Journal_ of December
8th that she was continuing the business:

    THOMAS SMITH, the OLD LEWES CARRIER, being dead, THE BUSINESS IS NOW
    CONTINUED BY HIS WIDOW, MARY SMITH, who gets into the "George Inn," in
    the Borough, Southwark, EVERY WEDNESDAY in the afternoon, and sets out
    for Lewes EVERY THURSDAY morning by eight o'clock, and brings Goods
    and Passengers to Lewes, Fletching, Chayley, Newick and all places
    adjacent at reasonable rates.

        Performed (_if God permit_) by
          MARY SMITH.

We may perceive by these early records that the real original way down to
the Sussex coast was by the Croydon, Godstone, East Grinstead and Lewes
route, and that its outlet must have been Newhaven, which, despite its
name, is so very ancient a place, and was a port and harbour when
Brighthelmstone was but a fisher-village.

[Illustration: STAGE WAGGON, 1808. _From a contemporary drawing._]

That is the only glimpse we get of the widow Smith and her waggon; but the
"George Inn, in the Borough," that she "got into," is still in the
Borough High Street. It is a fine and flourishing remnant of an ancient
galleried hostelry of the time of Chaucer, and it is characteristic of the
continuity of English social, as well as political history that, although
waggons and coaches no longer come to or set out from the "George," its
spacious yard is now a railway receiving-office for goods, where the
railway vans, those descendants of the stage-waggon, thunderously come and
go all day.

It will be observed that the traffic in those days went to and from
Southwark, which was then the great business centre for the carriers. Not
yet was the Brighton road measured from Westminster Bridge, for the
adequate reason that there was no bridge at Westminster until 1749: only
the ferry from the Horseferry Road to Lambeth.

Widow Smith's waggon halted at Lewes, and it is not until ten years later
than the date of her advertisement that we hear of the Brighthelmstone
conveyance. The first was that announced by the pioneer, James Batchelor,
in _The Sussex Weekly Advertiser_, May 12th, 1756:

    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the LEWES ONE DAY STAGE COACH or CHAISE
    sets out from the Talbot Inn, in the Borough, on Saturday next, the
    19th instant.

    When likewise the Brighthelmstone Stage begins.

        Performed (_if God permit_) by
          JAMES BATCHELOR.

The "Talbot" inn, which stood on the site of the ancient "Tabard," of
Chaucerian renown, disappeared from the Borough High Street in 1870. What
its picturesque yard was like in 1815, with the waggons of the Sussex
carriers, let the illustration tell.

Let us halt awhile, to admire the courage of those coaching and waggoning
pioneers who, in the days before "the sea-side" had been invented, and few
people travelled, dared the awful roads for what must then have been a
precarious business. Sussex roads in especial had a most unenviable name
for miriness, and wheeled traffic was so difficult that for many years
after this period the farmers and others continued to take their womenkind
about in the pillion fashion here caricatured by Henry Bunbury.

[Sidenote: SUSSEX ROADS]

Horace Walpole, indeed, travelling in Sussex in 1749, visiting Arundel and
Cowdray, acquired a too intimate acquaintance with their phenomenal depth
of mud and ruts, inasmuch as he--finicking little gentleman--was compelled
to alight precipitately from his overturned chaise, and to foot it like
any common fellow. One quite pities his daintiness in the narration of his
sorrows, picturesquely set forth by that accomplished letter-writer
arrived home to the safe seclusion of Strawberry Hill. He writes to George
Montagu, and dates August 26th, 1749:

"Mr. Chute and I returned from our expedition miraculously well,
considering all our distresses. If you love good roads, conveniences, good
inns, plenty of postilions and horses, be so kind as never to go into
Sussex. We thought ourselves in the northest part of England; the whole
county has a Saxon air, and the inhabitants are savage, as if King George
the Second was the first monarch of the East Angles. Coaches grow there no
more than balm and spices: we were forced to drop our post-chaise, that
resembled nothing so much as harlequin's calash, which was occasionally a
chaise or a baker's cart. We journeyed over alpine mountains" (Walpole,
you will observe, was, equally with the evening journalist of these happy
times, not unaccustomed to exaggerate) "drenched in clouds, and thought of
harlequin again, when he was driving the chariot of the sun through the
morning clouds, and was so glad to hear the _aqua vitæ_ man crying a
dram.... I have set up my staff, and finished my pilgrimages for this
year. Sussex is a great damper of curiosity."

Thus he prattles on, delightfully describing the peculiarities of the
several places he visited with this Mr. Chute, "whom," says he, "I have
created _Strawberry King-at-Arms_." One wonders what that mute, inglorious
Chute thought of it all; if he was as disgusted with Sussex sloughs and
moist unpleasant "mountains" as his garrulous companion. Chute suffered in
silence, for the sight of pen, ink, and paper did not induce in _him_ a
fury of composition; and so we shall never know what he endured.

Then the pedantic Doctor John Burton, who journeyed into Sussex in 1751,
had no less unfortunate acquaintance with these miry ways than our
_dilettante_ of Strawberry Hill. To those who have small Latin and less
Greek, this traveller's tale must ever remain a sealed book; for it is in
those languages that he records his views upon ways and means, and men and
manners, in Sussex. As thus, for example:

"I fell immediately upon all that was most bad, upon a land desolate and
muddy, whether inhabited by men or beasts a stranger could not easily
distinguish, and upon roads which were, to explain concisely what is most
abominable, Sussexian. No one would imagine them to be intended for the
people and the public, but rather the byways of individuals, or, more
truly, the tracks of cattle-drivers; for everywhere the usual footmarks of
oxen appeared, and we too, who were on horseback, going along zigzag,
almost like oxen at plough, advanced as if we were turning back, while we
followed out all the twists of the roads.... My friend, I will set before
you a kind of problem in the manner of Aristotle:--Why comes it that the
oxen, the swine, the women, and all other animals(!) are so long-legged in
Sussex? Can it be from the difficulty of pulling the feet out of so much
mud by the strength of the ankle, so that the muscles become stretched, as
it were, and the bones lengthened?"

A doleful tale. Presently he arrives at the conclusion that the peasantry
"do not concern themselves with literature or philosophy, for they
consider the pursuit of such things to be only idling," which is not so
very remarkable a trait, after all, in the character of an agricultural
people.

[Illustration: THE "TALBOT" INN YARD. BOROUGH, ABOUT 1815. _From an old
drawing._]

Our author eventually, notwithstanding the terrible roads, arrived at
Brighthelmstone, by way of Lewes, "just as day was fading." It was, so he
says, "a village on the sea-coast; lying in a valley gradually sloping,
and yet deep. It is not, indeed, contemptible as to size, for it is
thronged with people, though the inhabitants are mostly very needy and
wretched in their mode of living, occupied in the employment of fishing,
robust in their bodies, laborious, and skilled in all nautical crafts,
and, as it is said, terrible cheats of the custom-house officers." As who,
indeed, is not, allowing the opportunity?

Batchelor, the pioneer of Brighton coaching, continued his enterprise in
1757, and with the coming of spring, and the drying of the roads, his
coaches, which had been laid up in the winter, after the usual custom of
those times, were plying again. In May he advertised, "for the convenience
of country gentlemen, etc.," his London, Lewes, and Brighthelmstone
stage-coach, which performed the journey of fifty-eight miles in two days;
and exclusive persons, who preferred to travel alone, might have
post-chaises of him.

[Sidenote: EARLY COACHING]

Brighthelmstone had in the meanwhile sprung into notice. The health-giving
qualities of its sea air, and the then "strange new eccentricity" of
sea-bathing, advocated from 1750 by Dr. Richard Russell, had already given
it something of a vogue among wealthy invalids, and the growing traffic
was worth competing for. Competitors therefore sprang up to share
Batchelor's business. Most of them merely added stage-coaches like his,
but in May, 1762, a certain "J. Tubb," in partnership with "S. Brawne,"
started a very superior conveyance, going from London one day and
returning from Brighthelmstone the next. This was the:

    LEWES and BRIGHTELMSTONE new FLYING MACHINE (by Uckfield), hung on
    steel springs, very neat and commodious, to carry FOUR PASSENGERS,
    sets out from the Golden Cross Inn, Charing Cross, on Monday, the 7th
    of June, at six o'clock in the morning, and will continue MONDAY'S,
    WEDNESDAY'S, and FRIDAY'S to the White Hart, at Lewes, and the Castle,
    at Brightelmstone, where regular Books are kept for entering
    passenger's and parcels; will return to London TUESDAY'S, THURSDAY'S,
    and SATURDAY'S Each Inside Passenger to Lewes, Thirteen Shillings; to
    Brighthelmstone, Sixteen; to be allowed Fourteen Pound Weight for
    Luggage, all above to pay One Penny per Pound; half the fare to be
    paid at Booking, the other at entering the machine. Children in Lap
    and Outside Passengers to pay half-price.

        Performed by J. TUBB.
                     S. BRAWNE.

[Illustration: ME AND MY WIFE AND DAUGHTER. _From a caricature by Henry
Bunbury._]

Batchelor saw with dismay this coach performing the whole journey in one
day, while his took two. But he determined to be as good a man as his
opponent, if not even a better, and started the next week, at identical
fares, "a new large FLYING CHARIOT, with a Box and four horses (by
Chailey) to carry two Passengers only, except three should desire to go
together." The better to crush the presumptuous Tubb, he later on reduced
his fares. Then ensued a diverting, if by no means edifying, war of
advertisements; for Tubb, unwilling to be outdone, inserted the following
in _The Lewes Journal_, November, 1762:

    THIS IS TO INFORM THE PUBLIC that, on Monday, the 1st of November
    instant, the LEWES and BRIGHTHELMSTON FLYING MACHINE began going in
    _one day_, and continues twice a week during the Winter Season to
    Lewes only; sets out from the White Hart, at Lewes, MONDAYS and
    THURSDAYS at Six o'clock in the Morning, and returns from the Golden
    Cross, at Charing Cross, TUESDAYS and SATURDAYS, at the same hour.

        Performed by J. TUBB.

    N.B.--Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, are desired to look narrowly into
    the Meanness and Design of the other Flying Machine to Lewes and
    Brighthelmston, in lowering his prices, whether 'tis thro' conscience
    or an endeavour to suppress me. If the former is the case, think how
    you have been used for a great number of years, when he engrossed the
    whole to himself, and kept you two days upon the road, going fifty
    miles. If the latter, and he should be lucky enough to succeed in it,
    judge whether he wont return to his old prices, when you cannot help
    yourselves, and use you as formerly. As I have, then, been the remover
    of this obstacle, which you have all granted by your great
    encouragement to me hitherto, I, therefore, hope for the continuance
    of your favours, which will entirely frustrate the deep-laid schemes
    of my great opponent, and lay a lasting obligation on,--Your very
    humble Servant,

        J. TUBB.

To this replies Batchelor, possessed with an idea of vested interests
pertaining to himself:

    WHEREAS, Mr. TUBB, by an Advertisement in this paper of Monday last,
    has thought fit to cast some invidious Reflections upon me, in respect
    of the lowering my Prices and being two days upon the Road, with other
    low insinuations, I beg leave to submit the following matters to the
    calm Consideration of the Gentlemen, Ladies, and other Passengers, of
    what Degree soever, who have been pleased to favour me, viz.:

    That our Family first set up the Stage Coach from London to Lewes, and
    have continued it for a long Series of Years, from Father to Son and
    other Branches of the same Race, and that even before the Turnpikes on
    the Lewes Road were erected they drove their Stage, in the Summer
    Season, in one day, and have continued to do ever since, and now in
    the Winter Season twice in the week. And it is likewise to be
    considered that many aged and infirm Persons, who did not chuse to
    rise early in the Morning, were very desirous to be two Days on the
    Road for their own Ease and Conveniency, therefore there was no
    obstacle to be removed. And as to lowering my prices, let every one
    judge whether, when an old Servant of the Country perceives an
    Endeavour to suppress and supplant him in his Business, he is not well
    justified in taking all measures in his Power for his own Security,
    and even to oppose an unfair Adversary as far as he can. 'Tis,
    therefore, hoped that the descendants of your very ancient Servants
    will still meet with your farther Encouragement, and leave the Schemes
    of our little Opponent to their proper Deserts.--I am, Your old and
    present most obedient Servant,

        J. BATCHELOR.

    _December 13, 1762._

The rivals both kept to the road until the death of Batchelor, in 1766,
when his business was sold to Tubb, who took into partnership a Mr. Davis.
Together they started, in 1767, the first service of a daily coach in the
"Lewes and Brighthelmstone Flys," each carrying four passengers, one to
London and one to Brighton every day.

Tubb and Davis had in 1770 one "machine" and one waggon on this road, fare
by "machine" 14_s._ The machine ran daily to and from London, starting at
five o'clock in the morning. The waggon was three days on the road.
Another machine was also running, but with the coming of winter these
machines performed only three double journeys each a week.

In 1777 another stage-waggon was started by "Lashmar & Co." It loitered
between the "King's Head," Southwark, and the "King's Head," Brighton,
starting from London every Tuesday at the unearthly hour of 3 a.m., and
reaching its destination on Thursday afternoons.

On May 31st, 1784, Tubb and Davis put a "light post-coach" on the road,
running to Brighton one day returning to London the next, in addition to
their already running "machine" and "post-coach." This new conveyance
presumably made good time, four "insides" only being carried.

[Sidenote: GROWTH OF COACHING]

Four years later, when Brighton's sun of splendour was rising, there were
on the road between London and the sea three "machines," three light
post-coaches, two coaches, and two stage-waggons. Tubb now disappears, and
his firm becomes Davis & Co. Other proprietors were Ibberson & Co.,
Bradford & Co., and Mr. Wesson.

On May 1st, 1791, the first Brighton Mail coach was established. It was a
two-horse affair, running by Lewes and East Grinstead, and taking twelve
hours to perform the journey. It was not well supported by the public, and
as the Post Office would not pay the contractors a higher mileage, it was
at some uncertain period withdrawn.

About 1796 coach offices were opened in Brighton for the sole despatch of
coaching business, the time having passed away for the old custom of
starting from inns. Now, too, were different tales to tell of these roads,
after the Pavilion had been set in course of building. Royalty and the
Court could not endure to travel upon such evil tracks as had hitherto
been the lot of travellers to Brighthelmstone. Presently, instead of a
dearth of roads and a plethora of ruts, there became a choice of good
highways and a plenty of travellers upon them.

Numerous coaches ran to meet the demands of the travelling public, and
these continually increased in number and improved in speed. About this
time first appear the firms of Henwood, Crossweller, Cuddington, Pockney &
Harding, whose office was at No. 44, East Street: and Boulton, Tilt,
Hicks, Baulcomb & Co., at No. 1, North Street. The most remarkable thing,
to my mind, about those companies is their long-winded names. In addition
to the old service, there ran a "night post-coach" on alternate nights,
starting at 10 p.m. in the season. One then went to or from London
generally in "about" eleven hours, if all went well. If you could afford
only a ride in the stage-waggon, why then you were carried the distance by
the accelerated (!) waggons of this line in two days and one night.



IV


Erredge, the historian of Brighton, tells something of the social side of
Brighton Road coaching at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Social
indeed, as you shall see:

"In 1801 two pair-horse coaches ran between London and Brighton on
alternate days, one up, the other down, driven by Messrs. Crossweller and
Hine. The progress of these coaches was amusing. The one from London left
the Blossoms Inn, Lawrence Lane, at 7 a.m., the passengers breaking their
fast at the Cock, Sutton, at 9. The next stoppage for the purpose of
refreshment was at the Tangier, Banstead Downs--a rural little spot,
famous for its elderberry wine, which used to be brought from the cottage
'roking hot,' and on a cold wintry morning few refused to partake of it.
George IV. invariably stopped here and took a glass from the hand of Miss
Jeal as he sat in his carriage. The important business of luncheon took
place at Reigate, where sufficient time was allowed the passengers to view
the Baron's Cave, where, it is said, the barons assembled the night
previous to their meeting King John at Runymeade. The grand halt for
dinner was made at Staplefield Common, celebrated for its famous black
cherry-trees, under the branches of which, when the fruit was ripe, the
coaches were allowed to draw up and the passengers to partake of its
tempting produce. The hostess of the hostelry here was famed for her
rabbit-puddings, which, hot, were always waiting the arrival of the coach,
and to which the travellers never failed to do such ample justice, that
ordinarily they found it quite impossible to leave at the hour appointed;
so grogs, pipes, and ale were ordered in, and, to use the language of the
fraternity, 'not a wheel wagged' for two hours. Handcross was a little
resting-place, celebrated for its 'neat' liquors, the landlord of the inn
standing, bottle in hand, at the door. He and several other bonifaces at
Friars' Oak, etc., had the reputation of being on pretty good terms with
the smugglers who carried on their operations with such audacity along the
Sussex coast.

"After walking up Clayton Hill, a cup of tea was sometimes found to be
necessary at Patcham, after which Brighton was safely reached at 7 p.m. It
must be understood that it was the custom for the passengers to walk up
all the hills, and even sometimes in heavy weather to give a push behind
to assist the jaded horses."

[Sidenote: COMPETITION]

But it was not always so ideal or so idyllic. That there were discomforts
and accidents is evident from the wordy warfare of advertisements that
followed upon the starting of the Royal Brighton Four Horse Company in
1802. As a competitor with older firms, it seems to have aroused much
jealousy and slander, if we may believe the following contemporary
advertisement:

    THE ROYAL BRIGHTON Four Horse Coach Company beg leave to return their
    sincere thanks to their Friends and the Public in general for the very
    liberal support they have experienced since the starting of their
    Coaches, and assure them it will always be their greatest study to
    have their Coaches safe, with good Horses and sober careful Coachmen.

    They likewise wish to rectify a report in circulation of their Coach
    having been overturned on Monday last, by which a gentleman's leg was
    broken, &c., no such thing having ever happened to either of their
    Coaches. The Fact is it was one of the BLUE COACHES instead of the
    Royal New Coach.

    As several mistakes have happened, of their friends being BOOKED at
    other Coach offices, they are requested to book themselves at the
    ROYAL NEW COACH OFFICE, CATHERINE'S HEAD, 47, East Street.

The coaching business grew rapidly, and in an advertisement offering for
sale a portion of the coaching business at No. 1, North Street, it was
stated that the annual returns of this firm were more than £12,000 per
annum, yielding from Christmas, 1794, to Christmas, 1808, seven and a
half per cent. on the capital invested, besides purchasing the interest of
four of the partners in the concern. In this last year two new businesses
were started, those of Waldegrave & Co., and Pattenden & Co. Fares now
ruled high--23_s._ inside; 13_s._ outside.

The year 1809 marked the beginning of a new and strenuous coaching era on
this road. Then Crossweller & Co. commenced to run their "morning and
night" coaches, and William "Miller" Bradford formed his company. This was
an association of twelve members, contributing £100 each, for the purpose
of establishing a "double" coach--that is to say, one up and one down,
each day. The idea was to "lick creation" on the Brighton Road by
accelerating the speed, and to this end they acquired some forty-five
horses then sold out of the Inniskilling Dragoons, at that time stationed
at Brighton. On May Day, 1810, the Brighton Mail was re-established. These
"Royal Night Mail Coaches" as they were grandiloquently announced, were
started by arrangement with the Postmaster-General. The speed, although
much improved, was not yet so very great, eight hours being occupied on
the way, although these coaches went by what was then the new cut _via_
Croydon. Like the Dover. Hastings, and Portsmouth mails, the Brighton Mail
was two-horsed. It ran to and from the "Blossoms" Inn, Lawrence Lane,
Cheapside, and never attained a better performance than 7 hours 20
minutes, a speed of 7-1/2 miles an hour. It had, however, _this_
distinction, if it may so be called: it was the slowest mail in the
kingdom.

It was on June 25th, 1810, that an accident befell Waldegrave's
"Accommodation" coach on its up journey. Near Brixton Causeway its hind
wheels collapsed, owing to the heavy weight of the loaded vehicle. By one
of those strange chances when truth appears stranger than fiction, there
chanced to be a farmer's waggon passing the coach at the instant of its
overturning. Into it were shot the "outsiders," fortunate in this
comparatively easy fall. Still, shocks and bruises were not few, and one
gentleman had his thigh broken.

[Sidenote: A COACH ROBBERY]

By June, 1811, traffic had so increased that there were then no fewer than
twenty-eight coaches running between Brighton and London. On February 5th
in the following year occurred the only great road robbery known on this
road. This was the theft from the "Blue" coach of a package of bank-notes
representing a sum of between three and four thousand pounds sterling.
Crosswellers were proprietors of the coach, and from them Messrs. Brown,
Lashmar & West, of the Brighton Union Bank, had hired a box beneath the
seat for the conveyance of remittances to and from London. On this day the
Bank's London correspondents placed these notes in the box for
transmission to London, but on arrival the box was found to have been
broken open and the notes all stolen. It would seem that a carefully
planned conspiracy had been entered into by several persons, who must have
had a thorough knowledge of the means by which the Union Bank sent and
received money to and from the metropolis. On this morning six persons
were booked for inside places. Of this number two only made an
appearance--a gentleman and a lady. Two gentlemen were picked up as the
coach proceeded. The lady was taken suddenly ill when Sutton was reached,
and she and her husband were left at the inn there. When the coach arrived
at Reigate the two remaining passengers went to inquire for a friend.
Returning shortly, they told the coachman that the friend whom they had
supposed to be at Brighton had returned to town, therefore it was of no
use proceeding further.

Thus the coachman and guard had the remainder of the journey to
themselves, while the cash-box, as was discovered at the journey's end,
was minus its cash. A reward of £300 was immediately offered for
information that would lead to recovery of the notes. This was
subsequently altered to an offer of 100 guineas for information of the
offender, in addition to £300 upon recovery of the total amount, or "ten
per cent. upon the amount of so much thereof as shall be recovered." No
reward money was ever paid, for the notes were never recovered, and the
thieves escaped with their booty.

In 1813 the "Defiance" was started, to run to and from Brighton and London
in the daytime, each way six hours. This produced the rival "Eclipse,"
which belied the suggestion of its name and did not eclipse, but only
equalled, the performance of its model. But competition had now grown very
severe, and fares in consequence were reduced to--inside, ten shillings;
outside, five shillings. Indeed, in 1816, a number of Jews started a coach
to run from London to Brighton in six hours: or, failing to keep time, to
forfeit all fares. Needless to say, under such Hebrew management, and with
that liability, it was punctuality itself; but Nemesis awaited it, in the
shape of an information laid for furious driving.

The Mail, meanwhile, maintained its ancient pace of a little over six
miles an hour--a dignified, no-hurry, governmental rate of progression.
There was, in fact, no need for the Brighton Mail to make speed, for the
road from the General Post Office is only fifty-three miles in length, and
all the night and the early morning, from eight o'clock until five or six
o'clock a.m., lay before it.



V


We come now to the "Era of the Amateur," who not only flourished
pre-eminently on the Brighton Road, but may be said to have originated on
it. The coaching amateur and the nineteenth century came into existence
almost contemporaneously. Very soon after 1800 it became "the thing" to
drive a coach, and shortly after this became such a definite ambition,
there arose that contradiction in terms, that horsey paradox, the Amateur
Professional, generally a sporting gentleman brought to utter ruin by
Corinthian gambols, and taking to the one trade on earth at which he could
earn a wage. That is why the Golden Age of coaching won on the Brighton
Road a refinement it only aped elsewhere.

[Sidenote: ARISTOCRATIC COACHMEN]

It is curious to see how coaching has always been, even in its serious
days, before steam was thought of, the chosen amusement of wealthy and
aristocratic whips. Of those who affected the Brighton Road may be
mentioned the Marquis of Worcester, who drove the "Duke of Beaufort," Sir
St. Vincent Cotton of the "Age," and the Hon. Fred Jerningham, who drove
the Day Mail. The "Age," too, had been driven by Mr. Stevenson, a
gentleman and a graduate of Cambridge, whose "passion for the _bench_," as
"Nimrod" says, superseded all other worldly ambitions. He became a
coachman by profession, and a good professional he made; but he had not
forgotten his education and early training, and he was, as a whip,
singularly refined and courteous. He caused, at a certain change of horses
on the road, a silver sandwich-box to be handed round to the passengers by
his servant, with an offer of a glass of sherry, should any desire one.
Another gentleman, "connected with the first families in Wales," whose
father long represented his native county in Parliament, horsed and drove
one side of this ground with Mr. Stevenson.

This was "Sackie," Sackville Frederick Gwynne, of Carmarthenshire, who
quarrelled with his relatives and took to the road; became part proprietor
of the "Age," broke off from Stevenson, and eventually lived and died at
Liverpool as a cabdriver. He drove a cab till 1874, when he died, aged
seventy-three.

Harry Stevenson's connection with the Brighton Road began in 1827, when,
as a young man fresh from Cambridge, he brought with him such a social
atmosphere and such full-fledged expertness in driving a coach that
Cripps, a coachmaster of Brighton and proprietor of the "Coronet," not
only was overjoyed to have him on the box, but went so far as to paint his
name on the coach as one of the licensees, for which false declaration
Cripps was fined in November, 1827.

The parentage and circumstances of Harry Stevenson are alike mysterious.
We are told that he "went the pace," and was already penniless at
twenty-two years of age, about the time of his advent upon the Brighton
Road. In 1828 his famous "Age" was put on the road, built for him by
Aldebert, the foremost coach-builder of the period, and appointed in every
way with unexampled luxury. The gold- and silver-embroidered horse-cloths
of the "Age" are very properly preserved in the Brighton Museum.
Stevenson's career was short, for he died in February, 1830.

Coaching authorities give the palm for artistry to whips of other roads:
they considered the excellence of this as fatal to the production of those
qualities that went to make an historic name. This road had become
"perhaps the most nearly perfect, and certainly the most fashionable, of
all."

With the introduction of this sporting and irresponsible element, racing
between rival coaches--and not the mere conveying of passengers--became
the real interest of the coachmen, and proprietors were obliged to issue
notices to assure the timid that this form of rivalry would be
discouraged. A slow coach, the "Life Preserver," was even put on the road
to win the support of old ladies and the timid, who, as the record of
accidents tells us, did well to be timorous. But accidents _would_ happen
to fast and slow alike. The "Coburg" was upset at Cuckfield in August,
1819. Six of the passengers were so much injured that they could not
proceed, and one died the following day at the "King's Head." The "Coburg"
was an old-fashioned coach, heavy, clumsy, and slow, carrying six
passengers inside and twelve outside. This type gave place to coaches
of lighter build about 1823.

[Illustration: THE "DUKE OF BEAUFORT" COACH STARTING FROM THE "BULL AND
MOUTH" OFFICE, PICCADILLY CIRCUS, 1826. _From an aquatint after W. J.
Shayer._]

In 1826 seventeen coaches ran to Brighton from London every morning,
afternoon, or evening. They had all of them the most high-sounding of
names, calculated to impress the mind either with a sense of swiftness, or
to awe the understanding with visions of aristocratic and court-like
grandeur. As for the times they individually made, and for the inns from
which they started, you who are insatiable of dry bones of fact may go to
the Library of the British Museum and find your Cary (without an "e") and
do your gnawing of them. That they started at all manner of hours, even
the most uncanny, you must rest assured; and that they took off from the
(to ourselves) most impossible and romantic-sounding of inns, may be
granted, when such examples as the strangely incongruous "George and Blue
Boar," the Herrick-like "Blossoms" Inn, and the idyllic-seeming
"Flower-pot" are mentioned.

[Sidenote: NAMES OF THE COACHES]

They were, those seventeen coaches, the "Royal Mail," the "Coronet,"
"Magnet," "Comet," "Royal Sussex," "Sovereign," "Alert," "Dart," "Union,"
"Regent," "Times," "Duke of York," "Royal George," "True Blue," "Patriot,"
"Post," and the "Summer Coach," so called, and they nearly all started
from the City and Holborn, calling at West End booking-offices on their
several ways. Most of the old inns from which they set out are pulled
down, and the memory of them has faded.

The "Golden Cross" at Charing Cross, from whose doors started the "Comet"
and the "Regent" in this year of grace 1826, and at which the "Times"
called on its way from Holborn, has been wholly remodelled; the "White
Horse," Fetter Lane, whence the "Duke of York" bowled away, has been
demolished; the "Old Bell and Crown" Inn, Holborn, where the "Alert," the
"Union," and the "Times" drew up daily in the old-fashioned galleried
courtyard, is swept away. Were Viator to return to-morrow, he would
surely want to return to Hades, or Paradise, wherever he may be, at once.
Around him would be, to his senses, an astonishing whirl and noise of
traffic, despite the wood-paving that has superseded macadam, which itself
displaced the granite setts he knew. Many strange and horrid portents he
would note, and Holborn would be to him as an unknown street in a strange
town.

Than 1826 the informative Cary goes no further, and his "Itinerary,"
excellent though it be, and invaluable to those who would know aught of
the coaches that plied in the years when it was published, gives no
particulars of the many "butterfly" coaches and amateur drags that cut in
upon the regular coaches during the rush and scour of the season.

In 1821 it was computed that over forty coaches ran to and from London and
Brighton daily; in September, 1822, there were thirty-nine. In 1828 it was
calculated that the sixteen permanent coaches then running, summer and
winter, received between them a sum of £60,000 per annum, and the total
sum expended in fares upon coaching on this road was taken as amounting to
£100,000 per annum. That leaves the very respectable amount of £40,000 for
the season's takings of the "butterflies."

An accident happened to the "Alert" on October 9th, 1829, when the coach
was taking up passengers at Brighton. The horses ran away, and dashed the
coach and themselves into an area sixteen feet deep. The coach was
battered almost to pieces, and one lady was seriously injured. The horses
escaped unhurt. In 1832, August 25th, the Brighton Mail was upset near
Reigate, the coachman being killed.

[Illustration: THE "AGE," 1829, STARTING FROM CASTLE SQUARE, BRIGHTON.
_From an engraving after C. Cooper Henderson._]

[Sidenote: STEAM CARRIAGES]

This was the era of those early motor-cars, the steam-carriages, which, in
spite of their clumsy construction and appalling ugliness, arrived very
nearly to a commercial success. Many inventors were engaged from 1823 to
1838 upon this subject. Walter Hancock, in particular, began in 1824, and
in 1828 proposed a service of his "land-steamers" between London and
Brighton, but did not actually appear upon this road with his "Infant"
until November, 1832. The contrivance performed the double journey with
some difficulty and in slower time than the coaches: but Hancock on that
eventful day confidently declared that he was perfecting a newer machine
by which he expected to run down in three and a half hours. He never
achieved so much, but in October, 1833, his "Autopsy," which had been
successfully running as an omnibus between Paddington and Stratford, went
from the works at Stratford to Brighton in eight and a half hours, of
which three hours were taken up by a halt on the road.

No artist has preserved a view of this event for us, but a print may still
be met with depicting the start of Sir Charles Dance's steam-carriage from
Wellington Street, Strand, for Brighton on some eventful morning of that
same year. A prison-van is, by comparison with this fearsome object, a
thing of beauty; but in the picture you will observe enthusiasm on foot
and on horseback, and even four-legged, in the person of the inevitable
dog. In the distance the discerning may observe the old toll-house on
Waterloo Bridge, and the gaunt shape of the Shot Tower.

By 1839 the coaching business had in Brighton become concentrated in
Castle Square, six of the seven principal offices being situated there.
Five London coaches ran from the Blue Office (Strevens & Co.), five from
the Red Office (Mr. Goodman's), four from the "Spread Eagle" (Chaplin &
Crunden's), three from the Age (T. W. Capps & Co.), two from Hine's, East
Street; two from Snow's (Capps & Chaplin), and two from the "Globe" (Mr.
Vaughan's).

To state the number of visitors to Brighton on a certain day will give an
idea of how well this road was used during the decade that preceded the
coming of steam. On Friday, October 25th, 1833, upwards of 480 persons
travelled to Brighton by stage-coach. A comparison of this number with the
hordes of visitors cast forth from the Brighton Railway Station to-day
would render insignificant indeed that little crowd of 1833; but in those
times, when the itch of excursionising was not so acute as now, that day's
return was remarkable; it was a day that fully justified the note made of
it. Then, too, those few hundreds benefited the town more certainly than
perhaps their number multiplied by ten does now. For the Brighton visitor
of a hundred years ago, once set down in Castle Square, had to remain the
night at least in Brighton; for him there was no returning to London the
same day. And so the Brighton folks had their wicked will of him for a
while, and made something out of him; while in these times the greater
proportion of a day's excursionists find themselves either at home in
London already, when evening hours are striking from Westminster Ben, or
else waiting with what patience they may the collecting of tickets at the
bleak and dismal penitentiary platforms of Grosvenor Road Station; and,
after all, Brighton is little or nothing advantaged by their visit.

But though the tripper of the coaching era found it impracticable to have
his morning in London, his day upon the King's Road, and his evening in
town again, yet the pace at which the coaches went in the '30's was by no
means despicable. Ten miles an hour now became slow and altogether behind
the age.

In 1833 the Marquis of Worcester, together with a Mr. Alexander, put three
coaches on the road: an up and down "Quicksilver" and a single coach, the
"Wonder." The "Quicksilver," named probably in allusion to its swiftness
(it was timed for four hours and three-quarters), ran to and from what was
then a favourite stopping-place, the "Elephant and Castle." But on July
15th of the same year an accident, by which several persons were very
seriously injured, happened to the up "Quicksilver" when starting from
Brighton. Snow, who was driving, could not hold the team in, and they
bolted away, and brought up violently against the railings by the New
Steyne. Broken arms, fractured arms and ribs, and contusions were
plenty. The "Quicksilver," chameleon-like, changed colour after this
mishap, was repainted and renamed, and reappeared as the "Criterion"; for
the old name carried with it too great a spice of danger for the timorous.

[Illustration: SIR CHARLES DANCE'S STEAM-CARRIAGE LEAVING LONDON FOR
BRIGHTON, 1833. _From a print after G. E. Madeley._]

[Sidenote: COACHING RECORDS]

On February 4th, 1834, the "Criterion," driven by Charles Harbour,
outstripping the old performances of the "Vivid," and beating the previous
wonderfully quick journey of the "Red Rover," carried down King William's
Speech on the opening of Parliament in 3 hours and 40 minutes, a coach
record that has not been surpassed, nor quite equalled, on this road, not
even by Selby on his great drive of July 13th, 1888, his times being out
and in respectively, 3 hours 56 minutes, and 3 hours 54 minutes. Then
again, on another road, on May Day, 1830, the "Independent Tally-ho,"
running from London to Birmingham, covered those 109 miles in 7 hours 39
minutes, a better record than Selby's London to Brighton and back drive by
eleven minutes, with an additional mile to the course. Another coach, the
"Original Tally-ho," did the same distance in 7 hours 50 minutes. The
"Criterion" fared ill under its new name, and gained an unenviable
notoriety on June 7th, 1834, being overturned in a collision with a dray
in the Borough. Many of the passengers were injured; Sir William Cosway,
who was climbing over the roof when the collision occurred, was killed.

In 1839, the coaching era, full-blown even to decay, began to pewk and
wither before the coming of steam, long heralded and now but too sure. The
tale of coaches now decreased to twenty-three; fares, which had fallen in
the cut-throat competition of coach proprietors with their fellows in
previous years to 10_s._ inside, 5_s._ outside for the single journey, now
rose to 21_s._ and 12_s._ Every man that horsed a coach, seeing now was
the shearing time for the public, ere the now building railway was opened,
strove to make as much as possible ere he closed his yards, sold his
stock, broke his coach up for firewood, and took himself off the road.

Sentiment hung round the expiring age of coaching, and has cast a halo on
old-time ways of travelling, so that we often fail to note the
disadvantages and discomforts endured in those days; but, amid regrets
which were often simply maudlin, occur now and again witticisms true and
tersely epigrammatic, as thus:

  For the neat wayside inn and a dish of cold meat
  You've a gorgeous saloon, but there's nothing to eat;

and a contributor to the _Sporting Magazine_ observes, very happily, that
"even in a 'case' in a coach, it's 'there you are'; whereas in a railway
carriage it's 'where are you?'" in case of an accident.

On September 21st, 1841, the Brighton Railway was opened throughout, from
London to Brighton, and with that event the coaching era for this road
virtually died. Professional coach proprietors who wished to retain the
competencies they had accumulated were well advised to shun all
competition with steam, and others had been wise enough to cut their
losses; for the Road for the next sixty years was to become a discarded
institution and the Rail was entering into a long and undisputed
possession of the carrying trade.

The Brighton Mail, however--or mails, for Chaplin had started a Day Mail
in 1838--continued a few months longer. The Day Mail ceased in October,
1841, but the Night Mail held the road until March, 1842.



VI


Between 1841, when the railway was opened all the way from London, and
1866, during a period of twenty-five years, coaching, if not dead, at
least showed but few and intermittent signs of life. The "Age," which then
was owned by Mr. F. W. Capps, was the last coach to run regularly on the
direct road to and from London. The "Victoria," however, was on the
road, _via_ Dorking and Horsham, until November 8th, 1845.

[Illustration: The BRIGHTON DAY MAILS CROSSING HOOKWOOD COMMON, 1838.
_From an engraving after W. J. Shayer._]

[Sidenote: THE COACHING AMATEURS]

The "Age" had been one of the best equipped and driven of all the smart
drags in that period when aristocratic amateur dragsmen frequented this
road, when the Marquis of Worcester drove the "Beaufort," and when the
Hon. Fred Jerningham, a son of the Earl of Stafford, a whip of consummate
skill, drove the day-mail; a time when the "Age" itself was driven by that
sportsman of gambling memory, Sir St. Vincent Cotton, and by that Mr.
Stevenson who was its founder, mentioned more particularly on page 37.
When Mr. Capps became proprietor, he had as coachman several distinguished
men. For twelve years, for instance, Robert Brackenbury drove the "Age"
for the nominal pay of twelve shillings per week, enough to keep him in
whips. It was thus supremely fitting that it should also have been the
last to survive.

In later years, about 1852, a revived "Age," owned and driven by the Duke
of Beaufort and George Clark, the "Old" Clark of coaching acquaintance,
was on the road to London, _via_ Dorking and Kingston, in the summer
months. It was discontinued in 1862. A picture of this coach crossing Ham
Common _en route_ for Brighton was painted in 1852 and engraved. A
reproduction of it is shown here.

From 1862 to 1866 the rattle of the bars and the sound of the guard's yard
of tin were silent on every route to Brighton; but in the latter year of
horsey memory and the coaching revival, a number of aristocratic and
wealthy amateurs of the whip, among whom were representatives of the best
coaching talent of the day, subscribed a capital, in shares of £10, and a
little yellow coach, the "Old Times," was put on the highway. Among the
promoters of the venture were Captain Haworth, the Duke of Beaufort, Lord
H. Thynne, Mr. Chandos Pole, Mr. "Cherry" Angell, Colonel Armytage,
Captain Lawrie, and Mr. Fitzgerald. The experiment proved unsuccessful,
but in the following season, commencing in April, 1867, when the goodwill
and a large portion of the stock had been purchased from the original
subscribers, by the Duke of Beaufort, Mr. E. S. Chandos Pole, and Mr.
Angell, the coach was doubled, and two new coaches built by Holland &
Holland.

The Duke of Beaufort was chief among the sportsmen who horsed the coaches
during this season. Mr. Chandos Pole, at the close of the summer season,
determined to carry on by himself, throughout the winter, a service of one
coach. This he did, and, aided by Mr. Pole-Gell, doubled it the next
summer.

The following year, 1869, the coach had so prosperous a season that it
showed never a clean bill, _i.e._, never ran empty, all the summer, either
way. The partners this year were the Earl of Londesborough, Mr. Pole-Gell,
Colonel Stracey Clitherow, Mr. Chandos Pole, and Mr. G. Meek.

From this season coaching became extremely popular on the Brighton Road,
Mr. Chandos Pole running his coach until 1872. In the following year an
American amateur, Mr. Tiffany, kept up the tradition with two coaches.
Late in the season of 1874 Captain Haworth put in an appearance.

In 1875 the "Age" was put upon the road by Mr. Stewart Freeman, and ran in
the season up to and including 1880, in which year it was doubled. Captain
Blyth had the "Defiance" on the road to Brighton this year by the
circuitous route of Tunbridge Wells. In 1881 Mr. Freeman's coach was
absent from the road, but Edwin Fownes put the "Age" on, late in the
season. In the following year Mr. Freeman's coach ran, doubled again, and
single in 1883. It was again absent in 1884-5-6, in which last year it ran
to Windsor; but it reappeared on the Brighton Road in 1887 as the "Comet,"
and in the winter of that year was continued by Captain Beckett, who had
Selby and Fownes as whips. In 1888 Mr. Freeman ran in partnership with
Colonel Stracey-Clitherow, Lord Wiltshire, and Mr. Hugh M'Calmont, and in
1889 became partner in an undertaking to run the coach doubled. The two
"Comets" therefore served the road in this season supported by two
additional subscribers, the Honourable H. Sandys and Mr. Randolph Wemyss.

[Illustration: THE "AGE," 1852, CROSSING HAM COMMON. _From an engraving
after C. Cooper Henderson._]

[Sidenote: JIM SELBY]

In 1888 the "Old Times," forsaking the Oatlands Park drive, had appeared
on the Brighton Road as a rival to the "Comet," and continued throughout
the winter months, until Selby met his death in that winter.

The "Comet" ran single in the winter season of 1889-90, and in April was
again doubled for the summer, running single in 1891-2-3, when Mr. Freeman
relinquished it.

Mention has already been made of the "Old Times," which made such a
fleeting appearance on this road; but justice was not done to it, or to
Selby, in that incidental allusion. They require a niche to themselves in
the history of the revival--a niche to which shall be appended this poetic
excerpt:

  Here's the "Old Times," it's one of the best,
  Which no coaching man will deny,
  Fifty miles down the road with a jolly good load,
  Between London and Brighton each day.
  Beckett, M'Adam, and Dickey, the driver, are there,
  Of old Jim's presence every one is aware,
  They are all nailing good sorts,
  And go in for all sports,
  So we'll all go a-coaching to-day.

It is poetry whose like we do not often meet. Tennyson himself never
attempted to capture such heights of rhyme. He could, and did, rhyme
"poet" with "know it," but he never drove such a Cockney team as "deny"
and "to-dy" to water at the Pierian springs.



VII


"Carriages without horses shall go," is the "prophecy" attributed to that
mythical fifteenth century pythoness, Mother Shipton; really the _ex post
facto_ forgery of Charles Hindley, the second-hand bookseller, in 1862. It
should not be difficult, on such terms, to earn the reputation of a seer.

Between 1823 and 1838, the era of the steam-carriages, that
prognostication had already been fulfilled: and again, in another sense,
with the introduction of railways. But it was not until the close of 1896
that the real horseless era began to dawn. Railways, extravagantly
discriminative tolls, and restrictions upon weight and speed killed the
steam-carriages, and for more than fifty years the highways knew no other
mechanical locomotion than that of the familiar traction-engines,
restricted to three miles an hour and preceded by a man with a red flag.
It is true that a few hardy inventors continued to waste their time and
money on devising new forms of steam-carriages, and were only fined for
their pains when they were rash enough to venture on the public roads, as
when Bateman, of Greenwich, invented a steam-tricycle, and Sir Thomas
Parkyn, Bart., was fined at Greenwich Police Court, April 8th, 1881, for
riding it.

That incident appears to have finally quenched the ardour of inventive
genius in this country; but a new locomotive force already existing
unsuspected was about this period being experimented with on the Continent
by one Gottlieb Daimler, whose name--generally mispronounced--is now
sufficiently familiar to all who know anything of motor-cars.

Daimler was at that time connected with the Otto Gas Engine Works in
Germany, where the adaptive Germans were exploiting the gas-engine
principle invented by Crossley many years before.

[Sidenote: MOTOR-CARS]

In 1886 Daimler produced his motor-bicycle, and by 1891 his motor engine
was adapted by Panhard and Levassor to other types of vehicles. The
French were thus the first to perceive the great possibilities of it, and
by 1894 the motor-cars already in use in France were so numerous that the
first sporting event in the history of them--the 760 miles' race from
Paris to Bordeaux and back--was run.

[Illustration: THE "OLD TIMES," 1888. _From a painting by Alfred S.
Bishop._]

The following year Mr. Evelyn Ellis brought over the first motor-car to
reach England, a 4 h.-p. Panhard, and a little later, Sir David Salomons,
of Tunbridge Wells, imported a Peugeot. In that town, October 15th, 1895,
he held the first show of cars--four or five at most--in this country.
Then began an agitation raised by a few enthusiasts for the removal of the
existing restrictions upon road traffic. A deputation waited upon the
Local Government Board, and the Light Locomotives Act of 1896 was passed
in August, legalising mechanical traction up to a speed of fourteen miles
an hour, the Act to come into operation on November 14th.

For whatever reason, the Light Locomotives Act was passed so quietly,
under the ægis of the Local Government Board, as to almost wear the aspect
of an organised secrecy, and the coming of what is now known as Motor-car
Day was utterly unsuspected by the bulk of the public. It even caught the
newspapers unprepared, until the week before.

But the financiers and company-promoters had been busy. They at least
fully realised the importance of the era about to dawn; and the
extravagant flotations of the Great Horseless Carriage Company and of many
others long since bankrupt and forgotten, together with the phenomenal
over-valuation of patents, very soon discredited the new movement. Never
has there been a new industry so hardly used by company-promoting sharks
as that of motor-cars.

[Sidenote: "MOTOR-CAR DAY"]

No inkling of subsequent financial disasters clouded Motor-car Day, and as
at almost the last moment the Press had come to the conclusion that it was
an occasion to be written up and enlarged upon, a very great public
interest was aroused in the Motor-car Club's proposed celebration of the
event by a great procession of the newly-enfranchised "light locomotives"
from Whitehall to Brighton, on November 14th.

The Motor-car Club is dead. It was not a club in the proper sense of the
word, but an organisation promoted and financed by the company-promoters
who were interested in advertising their schemes. The run to Brighton was
itself intended as a huge advertisement, but the unprepared condition of
many of the cars entered, together with the miserable weather prevailing
on that day, resulted in turning the whole thing into ridicule.

The newspapers had done their best to advertise the event; but no one
anticipated the immense crowds that assembled at the starting-point,
Whitehall Place, by nine o'clock on that wet and foggy morning. By
half-past ten, the hour fixed for the start, there was a maddening chaos
of hundreds of thousands of sightseers such as no Lord Mayor's Show or
Royal Procession had ever attracted. Everybody in the crowd wanted a front
place, and those who got one, being both unable and unwilling to "parse
away," were nearly scragged by the police, who on the Embankment set upon
individuals like footballers on the ball; while snap-shotters wasted
plates on them from the secure altitudes of omnibuses or other vehicles.

Those whose journalistic duties took them to see the start had to fight
their way down from Charing Cross, up from Westminster, or along from the
Embankment; contesting inch by inch, and wondering if the starting-point
would ever be gained.

At length the Metropole hove in sight, but the motor-cars had yet to be
found. To accomplish this feat it was necessary to hurl oneself into a
surging tide of humanity, and surge with it. The tide carried the explorer
away and eventually washed him ashore on the neck of a policeman. Rumour
got around that an organised massacre of cab-horses was contemplated, and
myriads of mounted police appeared and had their photographs taken from
the tops of cabs and other envied positions occupied by amateur
photographers, who paid dearly to take pictures of the fog, which they
could have done elsewhere for nothing.

[Illustration: THE "COMET," 1890. _From a painting by Alfred S. Bishop._]

Time went on, the crowd grew bigger, the mud was churned into slush, and
everybody was treading upon everybody else.

"Ain't this bloomin' fun, sir?" asked the driver of a growler, his sides
shaking with laughter, "Even my ole 'oss 'as bin larfin'."

"Very intelligent horse," we said, thinking of Mr. Pickwick, and
determining to ask some searching questions as to his antecedents.

"Interleck's a great p'int, sir. Which 'ud you sooner be in: a runaway
mortar-caw or a keb?"

"Neither."

"No, I ain't jokin', strite. I've just bin argying wif a bloke as said
he'd sooner be in a caw. I said I pitied 'is choice, and wouldn't give 'im
much for his charnce. 'Cos why? 'Cos mortar-caws ain't got no interleck.
They cawn't tell the dif'rence 'tween nothink an' a brick wall. Now a 'os
can. If 'e don't turn orf 'e tries ter jump th' wall, but yer mortar
simply goes fer it, and then where are yer? In 'eaven, if yer lucky, or
in----"

But the rest of his sentence was lost in the roar that ascended from the
crowd as the cars commenced their journey to Brighton.

They went beautifully for a few yards, chased the mounted police right
into the crowd, and then stopped.

"It's th' standin' still as does it--not the standin' still, I mean the
not going forrard, 'cos they don't stand still," said the cabby,
excitedly.

"Don't they hum?" he cried.

"They certainly do make a little noise."

"But I mean, don't they whiff?"

"Whiff?"

He held his nose.

"I say, guv'nor." shouted cabby to a fur-coated foreigner, "wot is it
smells so?"

Meanwhile there was a certain "something lingering with oil in it,"
permeating the fog, while a sound as of many humming-tops filled the air.

Then the cars moved on a bit, amid the cheers and chaff of a good-humoured
crowd. Presently another stoppage and more shivering.

"'As thet cove there got th' Vituss dance?" inquired the elated cabby,
indicating a gentleman who was wobbling like a piece of jelly.

"That's the vibration," explained another.

"'Ow does the vibration agree w' the old six yer 'ad last night?" cabby
inquired immediately. "I say, Chawlie, don't it make yer sea-sick? Oh my!
th' smell!" and he gasped and sat on his box, looking bilious.

       *       *       *       *       *

When all the carriages had wended their way to Westminster we asked cabby
what he thought of the procession.

"Arsk my 'os," said he, with a look of disgust on his face. "What's yer
opinion of it, old gal? Failyer? My sentiments. British public won't pay
to be choked with stinks one moment and shut up like electricity t' next.
Failyer? Quite c'rect."

Meanwhile the guests of the Motor-car Club were breakfasting at the Hotel
Metropole, where appropriate speeches were made, the Earl of Winchilsea
concluding his remarks with the dramatic production of a red flag, which,
amid applause, he tore in half, to symbolise the passing of the old
restrictions.

There had been fifty-four entries for this triumphal procession, but not
more than thirty-three cars put in an appearance. It is significant of the
vast progress made since then that no car present was more than 6 h.-p.,
and that all, except the Bollée three-wheeled car, were precisely what
they were frequently styled, "horseless carriages," vehicles built on
traditional lines, from which the horses and the customary shafts were
painfully missed. There had not yet been time sufficient for the evolution
of the typical motor-car body.

With the combined strategy of a Napoleon, the patience of Job, and the
strength of Samson, the guests were at length piloted through the crowd
and inducted into their seats, and the "procession"--which, it was sternly
ordained, was not to be a "race"--set out.

[Sidenote: THE FIRST CARS]

The President of the Motor-car Club, Harry J. Lawson, since convicted of
fraud and sentenced to some months' imprisonment, led the way in his
pilot-car, bearing a purple-and-gold banner, more or less suitably
inscribed, himself habited in a strange costume, something between that of
a yachtsman and the conductor of a Hungarian band.

Reigate was reached at 12.30 by the foremost ear, through twenty miles of
crowded country, when rain descended once more upon the hapless day, and
late arrivals splashed through in all the majesty of mud.

The honours of the occasion belong to the little Bollée three-wheeler, of
a type long since obsolete. The inventor, disregarding all rules and
times, started at 11.30, and, making no stop at Reigate, drove on to
Brighton, which he reached in the record time of two hours fifty-five
minutes. The President's car was fourth, in seven hours twenty-two minutes
thirty seconds.

At Preston Park, on the Brighton boundary, the Mayor was to have welcomed
the procession, which, headed by the President, was to proceed
triumphantly into the town. A huge crowd assembled under the dripping elms
and weeping skies, and there, at five o'clock, in the light of the misty
lamps, stood and vibrated that presidential equipage and its banner with
the strange device. By five o'clock only three other cars had arrived; and
so, wet and miserable, they, the Mayor and Council, and the mounted police
all splashed into Brighton amid a howling gale.

The rest should be silence, for no one ever knew the number of cars that
completed the journey. Some said twenty-two, others thirteen; but it is
certain that the conditions were too much for many, and that while some
reposed in wayside stables, others, broken down in lonely places, remained
on the road all through that awful night. The guests, who in the morning
had been unable to find seats on the "horseless carriages," and so had
journeyed by special train or by coach, in the end had much to
congratulate themselves upon.

But, after all, looking back upon the hasty enthusiasm that organised so
long a journey at such a time of year, at so early a stage in the
motor-car era, it seems remarkable, not that so many broke down, but that
so large a proportion reached Brighton at all.

The logical outcome of years of experiment and preparation was reached, in
the supersession of the horsed London and Brighton Parcel Mail on June
2nd, 1905, by a motor-van, and in the establishment, on August 30th, of
the "Vanguard" London and Brighton Motor Omnibus Service, starting in
summer at 9.30 a.m., and reaching Brighton at 2 p.m.; returning from
Brighton at 4 p.m., and finally arriving at its starting-point, the "Hotel
Victoria," Northumberland Avenue, at 9 p.m. With the beginning of
November, 1905, that summer service was replaced by one to run through the
winter months, with inside seats only, and at reduced fares.

The first fatality on the Brighton Road in connection with motor-cars
occurred in 1901, at Smitham Bottom, when a car just purchased by a
retired builder and contractor of Brighton was being driven by him from
London. The steering-gear failed, the car turned completely round, ran
into an iron fence and pinned the owner's leg against it and a tree. The
leg was broken and had to be amputated, and the unfortunate man died of
the shock.

But the motor-omnibus accident of July 12th, 1906, was a really
spectacular tragedy. On that day a "Vanguard" omnibus, chartered by a
party of thirty-four pleasure seekers at Orpington for a day at Brighton,
was proceeding down Hand Cross Hill at twelve miles an hour when some
essential part of the gear broke and the heavy vehicle, dashing down-hill
at an ever-increasing pace, and swerving from side to side, struck a great
oak. The shock flung the passengers off violently. Ten were killed and all
the others injured, mostly very seriously.

Meanwhile, amateur coaching had, in most of the years since the
professional coaches had been driven off the road, flourished in the
summer season. The last notable amateur was the American millionaire,
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who for several seasons personally drove his own
"Venture" coach between London and Brighton; at first on the main
"classic" road, and afterwards on the Dorking and Horsham route. He met
his death on board the _Lusitania_, when it was sunk by the Germans, May
7th. 1915.



VIII


[Sidenote: THE ROAD OF RECORDS]

Robinson Crusoe, weary of his island solitude, sighed, so the poet tells
us, for "the midst of alarms." He should have chosen the Brighton Road;
for ever since it has been a road at all it has fully realised the
Shakespearian stage-direction of "alarums and excursions." Particularly
the "excursions," for it is the chosen track for most record-breaking
exploits; and thus it comes to pass that residents fortunate or
unfortunate enough to dwell upon the Brighton Road have the whole panorama
of sport unfolded before their eyes, whether they will or no, throughout
the whirling year, and see strange sights, hear odd noises, and (since the
coming of the motor-car) smell weird smells.

The Brighton Road has ever been a course upon which the enthusiastic
exponents of different methods of progression have eagerly exhibited their
prowess. But to-day, although it affords as good going as, or better than,
ever, it is not so suitable as it was for these displays of speed.
Traffic has grown with the growth of villages and townships along these
fifty-two miles, and sport and public convenience are on the highway
antipathetic. Yet every kind of sport has its will of the road.

The reasons of this exceptional sporting character are not far to seek.
They were chiefly sportsmen who travelled it in the days when it began to
be a road: those full-blooded sportsmen, ready for any freakish wager, who
were the boon companions of the Prince; and they set a fashion which has
not merely survived into modern times, but has grown amazingly.

But it would never have been the road for sport it is, had its length not
been so conveniently and alluringly near an even fifty miles. So much may
be done or attempted along a fifty miles' course that would be impossible
on a hundred.

[Sidenote: SPORTING EVENTS]

The very first sporting event on the Brighton Road of which any record
survives is (with an astonishing fitness) the feat accomplished by the
Prince of Wales himself on July 25th, 1784, during his second visit to
Brighthelmstone. On that day he mounted his horse there and rode to London
and back. He went by way of Cuckfield, and was ten hours on the road: four
and a half hours going, five and a half hours returning. On August 21st of
the same year, starting at one o'clock in the morning, he drove from
Carlton House to the "Pavilion" in four hours and a half. The turn-out was
a phaeton drawn by three horses harnessed tandem-fashion--what in those
days was called a "random."

One may venture the opinion that, although these performances were in due
course surpassed, they were not altogether bad for a "simulacrum," as
Thackeray was pleased to style him.

Twenty-five years passed before any one arose to challenge the Prince's
ride, and then only partially and indirectly. In May, 1809, Cornet J.
Wedderburn Webster, of the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Light Dragoons,
accepted and won a wager of 300 to 200 guineas with Sir B. Graham about
the performance in three and a half hours of the journey from Brighton to
Westminster Bridge, mounted upon one of the blood horses that usually ran
in his phaeton. He accomplished the ride in three hours twenty minutes,
knocking the Prince's up record into the proverbial cocked hat. The rider
stopped a while at Reigate to take a glass or two of wine, and compelled
his horse to swallow the remainder of the bottle.

This spirited affair was preceded in April, 1793, by a curious match which
seems to deserve mention. A clergyman at Brighton betted an officer of the
Artillery quartered there 100 guineas that he would ride his own horse to
London sooner than the officer could go in a chaise and pair, the
officer's horses to be changed _en route_ as often as he might think
proper. The Artilleryman accordingly despatched a servant to provide
relays, and at twelve o'clock on an unfavourable night the parties set out
to decide the bet, which was won by the clergyman with difficulty. He
arrived in town at 5 a.m., only a few minutes before the chaise, which it
had been thought was sure of winning. The driver of the last stage,
however, nearly became stuck in a ditch, which mishap caused considerable
delay. The Cuckfield driver performed his nine-miles' stage, between that
place and Crawley, within the half-hour.

The next outstanding incident was the run of the "Red Rover" coach, which,
leaving the "Elephant and Castle" at 4 p.m. on June 19th, 1831, reached
Brighton at 8.21 that evening: time, four hours twenty-one minutes. The
fleeting era of those precursors of motor-cars, the steam-carriages, had
by this time arrived, and after two or three had managed, at some kind of
a slow pace, to get to and from Brighton, the "Autopsy" achieved a record
of sorts in October, 1833. "Autopsy" was an unfortunate name, suggestive
of _post-mortem_ examinations and "crowner's quests," but it proved not
more dangerous than the "Mors" or "Hurtu" cars of to-day. The "Autopsy"
was Walter Hancock's steam-carriage, and ran from his works at Stratford.
It reached Brighton in eight hours thirty minutes; from which, however,
must be deducted three hours for a halt on the road.

In the following year, February 4th, the "Criterion" coach, driven by
Charles Harbour, took the King's Speech down to Brighton in three hours
forty minutes--a coach record that not only quite eclipsed that of the
"Red Rover," but has never yet been equalled, not even by Selby, on his
great drive of July 13th, 1888; his times being, out and home
respectively, three hours fifty-six minutes and three hours fifty-four
minutes.

In March, 1868, the first of the walking records was established, the
sporting papers of that age chronicling what they very rightly described
as a "Great Walking Feat": a walk, not merely to Brighton, but to Brighton
_and back_. This heroic undertaking, which was not repeated until 1902,
was performed by one "Mr. Benjamin B. Trench, late Oxford University." On
March 20th, for a heavy wager, he started to walk the hundred miles from
Kennington Church to Brighton and back in twenty-five hours. Setting out
on the Friday, at 6 p.m., he was back at Kennington Church at 5 p.m.
Saturday, having thus won his wager with two hours to spare. It will be
observed, or guessed, from the absence of odd minutes and seconds that in
1868, timing, as an exact science, had not been born; but it is evident
that this stalwart walked his hundred miles on ordinary roads at an
average rate of a little over four and a quarter miles an hour. "He then,"
concludes the report, "walked round the Oval several times, till seven
o'clock."

To each age the inventions it deserves. Cycling would have been impossible
in the mid-eighteenth century, when Walpole and Burton travelled with such
difficulty.

When roads began to deserve the name, the Mail Coach was introduced; and
when they grew hard and smooth, out of their former condition of ruts and
mud, the quaint beginnings of the bicycle are noticed. The Hobby Horse
and McAdam, the man who first preached the modern gospel of good roads,
were contemporary.

[Sidenote: THE HOBBY-HORSE]

I have said the beginnings of the bicycle were quaint, and I think no one
will be concerned to dispute this alleged quaintness of the Hobby Horse,
which had a certain strictly limited popularity from 1819 to 1830. I do
not think any one ever rode from London to Brighton on one of these
machines; and, when you come to consider the build and the limitations of
them, and then think of the hills on the way, it is quite impossible that
any one should so ride. It was perhaps within the limits of human
endurance to ride a Hobby Horse along the levels, to walk it up the rises,
and then to madly descend the hills, and so reach Brighton, very sore; but
records do not tell us of such a stern pioneer. The Hobby Horse, it should
be said, was an affair of two wooden wheels with iron tyres. A heavy
timber frame connected these wheels, and on it the courageous rider
straddled, his feet touching the ground. The Hobby Horse had no pedals,
and the rider propelled his hundredweight or so of iron and timber by
running in this straddling position and thus obtaining a momentum which
only on the down grade would carry him any distance.

Thus, although the Hobby Horse was a favourite with the "bucks" of George
the Fourth's time, they exercised upon it in strictly limited doses, and
it was not until it had experienced a new birth and was born again as the
"velocipede" of the '60's, that to ride fifty miles upon an ancestor of
the present safety bicycle, and survive, was possible.[4]

[Sidenote: THE BONESHAKER]

The front-driving velocipede--the well-known "boneshaker"--was invented by
one Pierre Lallement, in Paris, in 1865-6, and exhibited at the Paris
Exhibition of 1867. It was to the modern pneumatic-tyred "safety" what the
roads of 1865 are to those of 1906. It also, like the Hobby Horse, had
iron-shod wooden wheels, but had cranks and pedals, and could be ridden
uphill. On such a machine the first cycle ride to Brighton was performed
in 1869. This pioneer's fame on the Brighton Road belongs to John Mayall,
junior, a well-known photographer of that period, who died in the summer
of 1891.

This marks the beginning of so important an epoch that the circumstances
attending it are worthy a detailed account. They were felt, so long ago as
1874, to be deserving of such a record, for in the first number of an
athletic magazine, _Ixion_, published in that year, "J. M., jun.," who, of
course, was none other than Mayall himself, began to tell the wondrous
tale. He set out to narrate it at such length that, as an editorial note
tells us, the concluding portion was reserved for the second number. But
_Ixion_ never reached a second number, and so Mayall's own account of his
historic ride was never completed.

He began, as all good chroniclers should, at the very beginning, telling
how, in the early part of 1869, he was at Spencer's Gymnasium in Old
Street, St. Luke's. There he saw a packing-case being followed by a Mr.
Turner, whom he had seen at the Paris Exhibition of 1868, and witnessed
the unpacking of it. From it came a something new and strange, "a piece of
apparatus consisting mainly of two wheels, similar to one I had seen, not
long before, in Paris." It was the first velocipede to reach England.

It is a curious point that, although Mayall rode a "velocipede," and
although these machines were generally so-called for a year or two after
their introduction, the word "bicycle" is claimed to have been first used
in the _Times_ in the early part of 1868; and certainly we find in the
_Daily News_ of September 7th in that year an allusion, in grotesque
spelling, to "bysicles and trisicles which we saw at the Champs Elysées
and the Bois de Boulogne this summer."

But to return to the "velocipede" which had found its way to England at
the beginning of 1869.

The two-wheeled mystery was helped out of its wrappings and shavings, the
Gymnasium was cleared, and Mr. Turner, taking off his coat, grasped the
handles of the machine, and with a short run, to Mayall's intense
surprise, vaulted on to it. Putting his feet on what were then called the
"treadles," Turner, to the astonishment of the beholders, made the circuit
of the room, sitting on this bar above a pair of wheels in line that ought
to have collapsed so soon as the momentum ceased; but, instead of falling
down, Turner turned the front wheel at an angle to the other, and thus
maintained at once a halt and a balance.

[Sidenote: JOHN MAYALL JUNIOR]

Mayall was fired with enthusiasm. The next day (Saturday) he was early at
the Gymnasium, "intending to have a day of it," and I think, from his
account of what followed, that he _did_, in every sense, have such a day.

As Spencer had hurt himself by falling from the machine the night before,
Mayall had it almost wholly to himself, and, after a few successful
journeys round the room, determined to try his luck in the streets.
Accordingly, at one o'clock in the afternoon, amid the plaudits of a
hundred men of the adjacent factory, engaged in the congenial occupation
of lounging against the blank walls in their dinner-hour, the velocipede
was hoisted on to a cab and driven to Portland Place, where it was put on
the pavement, and Mayall prepared to mount. Even nowadays the cycling
novice requires plenty of room, and as Portland Place is well known to be
the widest street in London, and nearly the most secluded, it seems
probable that this intrepid pioneer deliberately chose it in order to have
due scope for his evolutions.

It was a raw and muddy day, with a high wind. Mayall sprang on to the
velocipede, but it slipped on the wet road, and he measured his length in
the mud. The day-out was beginning famously.

Spencer, who had been worsted the night before, contented himself with
giving Mayall a start when he made another attempt, and this time that
courageous person got as far as the Marylebone Road, and across it on to
the pavement of the other side, where he fell with a crash as though a
barrow had been upset. But again vaulting into the saddle, he lumbered on
into Regent's Park, and so to the drinking-fountain near the Zoological
Gardens, where, in attempting to turn round, he fell over again. Mounting
once more, he returned. Looking round, "there was the park-keeper coming
hastily towards me, making indignant signs. I passed quickly out of the
Park gate into the roadway." Thus early began the long warfare between
Cycling and Authority.

Thence, sometimes falling into the road, with Spencer trotting after him,
he reached the foot of Primrose Hill, and then, at Spencer's home,
staggered on to a sofa, and lay there, exhausted, soaked in rain and
perspiration, and covered with mud. It had been in no sense a light matter
to exercise with that ninety-three pounds' weight of mingled timber and
ironmongery.

On the Monday he trundled about, up to the "Angel," Islington, where
curious crowds assembled, asking the uses of the machine and if the
falling off and grovelling in the mud was a part of the pastime. The
following day, very sore, but still undaunted, he re-visited the "Angel,"
went through the City, and so to Brixton and Clapham, where, at the house
of a friend, he looked over maps, and first conceived the "stupendous"
idea of riding to Brighton.

The following morning he endeavoured to put that plan into execution, and
toiled up Brixton Hill, and so through Croydon, up the "never-ending"
rise, as it seemed, of Smitham Bottom to the crest of Merstham Hill.
There, tired, he half plunged into the saddle, and so thundered and
clattered down hill into Merstham. At Redhill, seventeen and a half miles,
utterly exhausted, he relinquished the attempt, and retired to the railway
station, where he lay for some time on one of the seats until he revived.
Then, to the intense admiration and amusement of the station-master and
his staff, he rode about the platform, dodging the pillars, and narrowly
escaping a fall on to the rails, until the London train came in.

On Wednesday, February 17th, Mayall, Rowley B. Turner, and Charles
Spencer, all three on velocipedes, started from Trafalgar Square for
Brighton. The party kept together until Redhill was reached, when Mayall
took the lead, and eventually reached Brighton alone. The time occupied
was "about" twelve hours. Being a photographer, Mayall of course caused
himself to be photographed standing beside the instrument of torture on
which he made that weary ride, and thus we have preserved to us the weird
spectacle he presented; more like that of a Russian convict than an
athletic young Englishman. A peaked cap, an attenuated frock-coat, very
tight in the waist, and stiff and shiny leather leggings, completed a
costume strange enough to make a modern cyclist shudder. Fearful whiskers
and oily-looking long hair add to the strangeness of this historic figure.

[Sidenote: RECORDS]

With this exploit athletic competition began, and the long series of
modern "records" on the Brighton Road were set a-going, for during the
March of that year two once well-known amateur pedestrian members of the
Stock Exchange, W. M. and H. J. Chinnery, _walked_ down to Brighton in 11
hrs. 25 mins., and on April 14th C. A. Booth bettered Mayall's adventure,
riding down on a velocipede in 9 hrs. 30 mins.

Then came the Amateur Bicycle Club's race, September 19th, 1872. By that
time not only had the word "velocipede" been discarded for "bicycle," and
"treadles" become "pedals," but the machine itself, although in general
appearance very much the same, had been improved in detail. The 36-inch
front wheel had been increased to 44 inches, the wooden spokes had given
place to wire, and strips of rubber, nailed on, replaced the iron tyres.
Probably as a result of these refinements the winner, A. Temple, reached
Brighton in 5 hrs, 25 mins.

[Illustration: JOHN MAYALL, JUNIOR, 1869. _From a contemporary
photograph._]

By 1872 the bicycle had advanced a further stage towards the giraffe-like
altitude of the "ordinary," and already there were many clubs in
existence. On August 16th of that year six members of the Surrey and six
of the Middlesex Bicycle Clubs rode from Kennington Oval to Brighton and
back, Causton captain of the Surrey, being the first into Brighton.
Riding a 50-inch "Keen" bicycle he reeled off the fifty miles in 4 hrs. 51
mins. The new machine was something to be reckoned with.

On February 9th. 1874, a certain John Revel, junr., backed himself in
heavy sums to ride a bicycle the whole distance from Brighton to London
quicker than a Mr. Gregory could walk the 22-1/2 miles from Reigate to
London. Revel was to leave Brighton at the junction of the London and
Montpellier roads at the same time as Gregory started from a point between
the twenty-second and twenty-third milestones. The pedestrian won,
finishing in 3 hrs. 27 mins. 47 secs., Revel taking 5 hrs. 57 mins. for
the whole journey.

The bicycle had by this time firmly established itself. It grew more and
more of an athletic exercise to mount the steadily growing machines, but
once seated on them the going was easier. April 27th, 1874, found Alfred
Howard cycling from Brighton to London in 4 hrs. 25 mins., a speed which
works out at eleven miles an hour.

In 1875 the Brighton Road seems to have been left severely alone, and 1876
was signalised only by two of the fantastic wagers that have been
numerously decided on this half-century of miles. In that year, we are
told, a Mr. Frederick Thompson staked one thousand guineas that Sir John
Lynton would not wheel a barrow from Westminster Abbey to the "Old Ship"
at Brighton in fifteen hours; and the knight, accepting the bet, made his
appearance airily clothed in the "shorts" of the recognised running
costume and wheeling a barrow made of bamboo, and provided with handles
six feet long. He won easily, but whether the loser paid the thousand
guineas, or lodged a protest with referees, does not appear. He should
have specified the make of barrow, for the kinds range through quite a
number of varieties, from the coster's barrow to the navvy's and the
gardener's. But the wager did not contemplate the fancy article with which
Sir John Lynton made his journey. At any rate, I have my doubts about the
genuineness of the whole affair, for, seeking this "Sir John Lynton" in
the usual books of reference of that period, there is no such knight or
baronet to be discovered.

According to the Sussex newspapers of 1876, over fifteen thousand people
assembled in the King's Road at Brighton to witness the finish of the
sporting event between Major Penton and an unnamed competitor. Major
Penton agreed to give his opponent a start of twenty-seven miles in a
pedestrian match to Brighton, on the condition that he was allowed a
"go-as-you-please" method, while the other man was to walk in the fair
"heel-and-toe" style. The major won by a yard and a half in the King's
Road, through the excitement of his competitor, who was disqualified at
the last minute by breaking into a trot.

Freakish sport was at this time decidedly in the ascendant, for the sole
event of 1877 was the extraordinary escapade of two persons who on
September 11th undertook to ride, dressed as clowns, on donkeys, from
London to Croydon, seated backwards with their faces towards the animals'
tails. From Croydon to Redhill they were to walk the three-legged
walk--_i.e._, tied together by right and left legs--and thence to Crawley
(surely a most appropriate place) on hands and knees. From that place to
the end their pilgrimage was to be made walking in boots each weighted
with 15 lb. of lead. This last ordeal speedily finished them, for they had
failed to accomplish more than half a mile when they broke down.

John Granby was another of these fantastic persons, whose proper place
would be a lunatic ward. He essayed to walk to Brighton with 50 lb. weight
of sand round his shoulders, in a bag, but he sank under the weight by the
time of his arrival at Thornton Heath.

[Sidenote: MORE RECORDS]

In 1878 P. J. Burt bettered the performance of the Chinnerys, ten years
earlier, by thirty-three minutes, walking to the Aquarium in 10 hrs. 52
mins. Most authorities agree in making his starting-point the Clock Tower
on the north side of Westminster Bridge. 52-1/4 miles, and thus we can
figure out his speed at about five miles an hour. All the athletic world
wondered, and when, in 1884, C. L. O'Malley (pedestrian, swimmer,
steeplechaser, and boxer), walking against B. Nickels, junr., lowered that
record by so much as 1 hr. 4 mins., every one thought finality in
long-distance padding the hoof had been reached.

Meanwhile, however, 1882 had witnessed another odd adventure on the way to
Brighton. A London clubman declared, while at dinner with a friend, that
the bare-footed tramps sometimes to be seen in the country were not to be
pitied. Boots, he said, were after all conventions, and declared it an
easy matter to walk, say, fifty miles without them. He challenged his
friend, and a walk to Brighton was arranged. The friend retired on his
blisters in twelve miles; the challenger, however, with the soles of his
stockings long since worn away, plodded on until he fainted with pain when
only four miles from Brighton.

On April 6th. 1886, J. A. M'Intosh, of the London Athletic Club, walked to
Brighton in 9 hrs. 25 mins. 8 secs., improving upon O'Malley's best by 22
mins. 52 secs.

The year 1888 was notable. On January 1st the horse "Ginger," in a match
against time, was driven at a trot to Brighton in 4 hrs. 16 mins. 30
secs., and another horse, "The Bird," trotted from Kennington Cross to
Brighton in 4 hrs. 30 mins. On July 13th Selby drove the "Old Times" coach
from the White Horse Cellar, in Piccadilly, to Brighton and back in ten
minutes under eight hours, thus arousing that competition of cyclists
which, first directed towards beating his performance, has been continued
to the present day.



IX


Selby's drive was very widely chronicled. The elaborate reports and
extensive preliminary arrangements compare oddly with the early sporting
events undertaken on the spur of the moment and recorded only in meagre,
unilluminating paragraphs. What would we not give for a report of the
Prince of Wales's ride in 1784, so elaborated.

A great drive, and a great coachman, worthily carrying on the good old
traditions of the road. It has, however, been already pointed out that
neither on his outward journey (3 hrs. 56 mins.), nor on the return (3
hrs. 54 mins.), did he quite equal the record of the "Criterion" coach,
which on February 4th, 1834, took the King's Speech from London to
Brighton in 3 hrs. 40 mins.

Selby did not live long to enjoy the world-wide repute his great drive
gained him. He died, only forty-four years of age, at the end of the same
year that saw this splendid feat.

Selby's memorable drive put cyclists upon their mettle, but not at once
was any determined attempt made to better it. The dwarf rear-driving
"safety" bicycle, the "Rover," which, introduced in 1885, set the existing
pattern, was not yet perfected, and cyclists still rode solid or cushion
tyres, instead of the now universal pneumatic kind.

[Sidenote: THE CYCLISTS]

It was, therefore, not until August, 1889, that after several unsuccessful
attempts had been made to better the coach-time on that double journey of
108 miles, a team of four cyclists--E. J. Willis, G. L. Morris, C. W.
Schafer, and S. Walker, members of the Polytechnic Cycling Club--did that
distance in 7 hrs. 36 mins. 19-2/5 secs.; or 13 mins. 40-3/5 secs. less;
and even then the feat was accomplished only by the four cyclists dividing
the journey between them into four relays. Two other teams, on as many
separate occasions, reduced the figures by a few minutes, and M. A.
Holbein and P. C. Wilson singly made unsuccessful attempts.

It was left to F. W. Shorland, a very young rider, to be the first of a
series of single-handed breakers of the coaching time. He accomplished the
feat in June, 1890, upon a pneumatic-tyred "Geared Facile" safety, and
reduced the time to 7 hrs. 19 mins., being himself beaten on July 23rd by
S. F. Edge, riding a cushion-tyred safety. Edge put the time at 7 hrs. 2
mins. 50 secs., and, in addition, first beat Selby's outward journey, the
times being--coach, 3 hrs. 36 mins.; cycle, 3 hrs. 18 mins. 25 secs. Then
came yet another stalwart, C. A. Smith, who on September 3rd of the same
year beat Edge by 10 mins. 40 secs. Even a tricyclist--E. P.
Moorhouse--essayed the feat on September 30th, but failed, his time being
8 hrs. 9 mins. 24 secs.

To the adventitious aid of pacemakers, fresh and fresh again, to stir the
record-breaker's flagging energies, much of this success was at first due;
but at the present day those times have been exceeded on many unpaced
rides.

Selby's drive had the effect of creating a new and arbitrary point of
departure for record-making, and "Hatchett's" has thus somewhat confused
the issues with the times and distances associated with Westminster
Bridge.

The year 1891 was a blank, so far as cycling was concerned, but on March
20th an early Stock Exchange pedestrian to walk to Brighton set out to
cover the distance between Hatchett's and the "Old Ship" in 11 hrs. 15
mins. This was E. H. Cuthbertson, who backed himself to equal the
Chinnerys' performance of 1869. Out of this undertaking arose the
additional and subsidiary match between Cuthbertson and another Stock
Exchange member, H. K. Paxton, as to which should quickest walk between
Hatchett's and the "Greyhound," Croydon. Paxton, a figure of
Brobdingnagian proportions, 6 ft. 4 in. in height, and scaling 17 stone,
received a time allowance of 23 minutes. Both aspirants went into three
weeks' severe training, and elaborate arrangements were made for
attendance, timing, and refreshment on the road. Paxton, urged to renewed
efforts in the ultimate yards by the strains of a more or less German
band, which seeing the competitors approach, played "See the Conquering
Hero Comes,"[5] won the match to Croydon by 1 min. 18 secs., but did not
stop here, continuing with Cuthbertson to Brighton. Although Cuthbertson
won his wager, and walked down in 10 hrs. 6 mins. 18 secs. (9 hrs. 55
mins. 34 secs, from Westminster) and won several heavy sums by this
performance, he did not equal that of McIntosh in 1886. The old-timer,
deducting a proportionate time for the difference between the
finishing-points, the Aquarium and the "Old Ship," was still half an hour
to the good.

The next four years were exclusively cyclists' years. On June 1st, 1892,
S. F. Edge made a great effort to regain the record that had been wrested
from him by C. A. Smith in 1890, and did indeed win it back, but only by
the fractional margin of 1 min. 3 secs., and only held that advantage for
three months, Edward Dance, in the last of three separate attempts,
succeeding on September 6th in lowering Edge's time, but only by 2 mins. 6
secs. Then three days later, R. C. Nesbit made a "record" for the high
"ordinary" bicycle, of 7 hrs. 42 mins. 50 secs., the last appearance of
the now extraordinary "ordinary" on this stage.

The course was from 1893 considerably varied, the Road Record Association
being of opinion that as the original great object--the breaking of the
coach time--had been long since attained, there was no need to maintain
the Piccadilly end, or the Cuckfield route. The course selected,
therefore, became from Hyde Park Corner to the Aquarium at Brighton, by
way of Hickstead and Bolney. On September 12th of this year Edge tried for
and again recaptured this keenly-contested prize, this time by the
respectable margin of 35 mins. 13 secs., only to have it snatched away on
September 17th by A. E. Knight, who knocked off 3 mins. 19 secs. Again, in
another couple of days, the figures were revised, C. A. Smith, on one of
the few occasions on which he deserted the tricycle for the two-wheeler,
accomplishing the double journey in 6 hrs. 6 mins. 46 secs. On the 22nd of
the same busy month Edge for the fourth and last time took the record, on
this occasion by the margin of 14 mins. 16 secs. The road then knew him no
more as a record-breaking cyclist, and his achievement lasted--not days,
but hours, for on the _same day_ Dance lowered it by the infinitesimal
fraction of 12 seconds. On October 4th W. W. Robertson set up a tricycle
record of 7 hrs. 24 mins. 2 secs. for the double journey, and then a
crowded year ended.

The much-worried records of the Brighton Road came in for another turn in
1894, W. R. Toft, on June 11th, reducing the tricycle time, and C. G.
Wridgway on September 12th lowering that for the bicycle. This year was
also remarkable for the appearance of women speed cyclists, setting up
records of their own, Mrs. Noble cycling to Brighton and back in 8 hrs. 9
mins., followed on September 20th by Miss Reynolds in 7 hrs. 48 mins. 46
secs., and on September 22nd by Miss White in 42 mins. shorter time.

The season of 1895 was not very eventful, with the ride by A. A. Chase in
5 hrs. 34 mins. 58 secs.; 34 secs. better than the previous best, and the
lowering by J. Parsley of the tricycle record by over an hour; but it was
notable for an almost incredible eccentricity, that of cycling backwards
to Brighton. This feat was accomplished by J. H. Herbert in November, as
an advertising sensation on behalf of the inventor of a new machine
exhibited at the Stanley Show. He rode facing the hind wheel and standing
on the pedals. Punctures, mud, rain, and wind delayed him, but he reached
Brighton in 7 hrs. 45 mins.

On June 26th, 1896, E. D. Smith and C. A. Greenwood established a
tandem-cycle record of 5 hrs. 37 mins. 34 secs., demolished September
15th; while on July 15th C. G. Wridgway regained his lost single record,
beating Chase's figures by 12 mins. 25 secs. In this year W. Franks, a
professional pedestrian in his forty-fifth year, beat all earlier walks to
Brighton, eclipsing McIntosh's walk of 1886 by 18 mins. 18 secs. But, far
above all other considerations, 1896 was notable for the legalising of
motor-cars. On Motor-Day, November 14th, a great number of automobiles
were to go in procession--not a race--from Westminster to Brighton. Most
of them broke down, but a 6 h.-p. Bollée car (a three-wheeled variety now
obsolete) made a record journey in 2 hrs. 55 mins.

The year 1897 opened on April 10th with the open London to Brighton walk
of the Polytechnic Harriers. The start was made from Regent Street, but
time was taken separately, from that point and from Westminster Clock
Tower. There were thirty-seven starters. E. Knott, of the Hairdressers'
A.C.--a quaint touch--finished in 8 hrs. 56 mins. 44 secs. Thirty-one of
the competitors finished well within twelve hours.

On May 4th W. J. Neason, cycling to Brighton and back, made the distance
in 5 hrs. 19 mins. 39 secs., and on July 12th Miss M. Foster beat Miss
White's 1894 record by 20 mins. 37 secs., while on the following day
Richard Palmer made a better run than Neason's by 9 mins. 45 secs. Neason,
however, got his own again in the following September, by 3 mins. 3 secs.,
and on October 27th P. Wheelock and G. J. Fulford improved the tandem
record of 1896 by 25 mins. 41 secs.

By this time the thoroughly artificial character of most of these later
cycling records had become glaringly apparent. It was not only seen in the
fact that their heavy cost was largely borne by cycle and tyre-makers, who
found advertisement in them, but it was obvious also in the arbitrary
selection of the starting-points, by which a record run to Brighton and
back might be begun at Purley, run to Brighton, then back to Purley, and
thence to London and back again, with any variation that might suit the
day and the rider. It was evident, too, that the growing elaboration of
pace-making, first by relays of riders and latterly by motors, had
reduced the thing to an absurdity in which there was no credit and--worse
still--no advertisement. Then, therefore, a new order of things was set
agoing, and the era of unpaced records was begun.

On September 27th, 1898, E. J. Steel established a London to Brighton and
back unpaced cycling record of 6 hrs. 23 mins. 55 secs.; and on the same
day the new unpaced tricycle record of 8 hrs. 11 mins. 10 secs. for the
double journey was set up by P. F. A. Gomme.

The South London Harriers' open "go-as-you-please" walking or running
match of May 6th, 1899, attracted the attention of the athletic world in a
very marked degree. Cyclists, in especial, were in evidence, to make the
pace, to judge, to sponge down the competitors or to refresh them by the
wayside. The start was made from Big Ben soon after seven o'clock in the
morning, when fourteen aspirants, all clad in the regulation running
costumes and sweaters, went forth to win the modern equivalent of the
victor's laurelled crown in the ancient Olympian games. F. D. Randall, who
won, got away from his most dangerous opponent on the approach to Redhill,
and, increasing that advantage to a hundred yards' lead when in the midst
of the town, was not afterwards seriously challenged. He finished in the
splendid time of 6 hrs. 58 mins. 18 secs. Saward, the second, completed it
in 7 hrs. 17 mins. 50 secs., and the veteran E. Ion Pool in another 4
mins.

As if to show the superiority of the cycle over mere pedestrian efforts,
H. Green on June 30th cycled from London to Brighton and back, unpaced, in
5 hrs. 50 mins. 23 secs., and on August 12th, 1902, reduced his own record
by 20 mins. 1 sec. Meanwhile, Harry Vowles, a blind musician of Brighton,
who had for some years made an annual walk from Brighton to London, on
October 15th, 1900, accomplished his ambition to walk the distance in one
day. He left Brighton at 5 a.m. and reached the Alhambra, in Leicester
Square, at ten o'clock that night.

On October 31st, 1902, the Surrey Walking Club's 104 miles contest to
Brighton and back resulted in J. Butler winning: time, 21 hrs. 36 mins. 27
secs., Butler performing the single journey on March 14th the following
year in 8 hrs. 43 mins. 16 secs. For fair heel-and-toe walking, that was
considered at the time the ultimate achievement; but it was beaten on
April 9th, 1904, in the inter-club walk of the Blackheath and Ranelagh
Harriers, when T. E. Hammond established the existing record of 8 hrs. 26
mins. 57-2/5 secs.--the astonishing speed of six miles an hour.

[Sidenote: STOCK-EXCHANGE WALKS]

This event was preceded by the famous Stock Exchange Walk of May Day,
1903. Every one knows the Stock Exchange to be almost as great on sport as
it is in finance, but no one was prepared for the magnitude finally
assumed by the match idly suggested on March 16th, during a dull hour on
the Kaffir Market. Business had long been in a bad way, not in that market
alone, but in the House in general. The trail of the great Boer War and
its heritage of debt, taxation, and want of confidence lay over all
departments, and brokers, jobbers, principals, and clerks alike were so
heartily tired of going to "business" day after day when there was no
business--and when there calculating how much longer they could afford
annual subscriptions and office rent--that any relief was eagerly
accepted. In three days twenty-five competitors had entered for the
proposed walk to Brighton, and the House found itself not so
poverty-stricken but that prize-money to the extent of £35, for three
silver cups, was subscribed. And then the Press--that Press which is
growing daily more hysterical and irresponsible--got hold of it and boomed
it, and there was no escaping the Stock Exchange Walk. By the morning of
March 25th, when the list was closed, there were 107 competitors entered
and the prize-list had grown to the imposing total of three gold medals,
valued, one at £10 10_s._ and two at £5 5_s._, with two silver cups valued
at £10 10_s._, two at £5 5_s._, and silver commemoration medals for all
arriving at Brighton in thirteen hours.

Long before May Day the Press had worked the thing up to the semblance of
a matter of Imperial importance, and London talked of little else. April
13th had been at first spoken of for the event, but many of the
competitors wanted to get into training, and in the end May Day, being an
annual Stock Exchange holiday, was selected.

There were ninety-nine starters from the Clock Tower at 6.30 on that chill
May morning: not middle-aged stockbrokers, but chiefly young stockbrokers'
clerks. All the papers had published particulars of the race, together
with final weather prognostications; hawkers sold official programmes; an
immense crowd assembled; a host of amateur photographers descended upon
the scene, and the police kept Westminster Bridge clear. Although by no
means to be compared with Motor-car Day, the occasion was well honoured.

Advertisers had, as usual, seized the opportunity, and almost overwhelmed
the start; and among the motor-cars and the cyclists who followed the
competitors down the road the merits of Somebody's Whisky, and the pills,
boots, bicycles, beef-tea, and flannels of some other bodies impudently
obtruded.

"What went ye out for to see?" The public undoubtedly expected to see a
number of pursy, plethoric City men, attired in frock-coats and silk-hats,
walking to Brighton. What they _did_ see was a crowd of apparently
professional pedestrians, lightly clad in the flannels and "shorts" of
athletics, trailing down the road, with here and there an "unattached"
walker, such as Mr. Pringle, who, fulfilling the conditions of a wager,
walked down in immaculate silk hat, black coat, and spats--"immaculate,"
that is to say, at the start: as a chronicler adds, "things were rather
different later." They were: for thirteen hours' (more or less) rain and
mud can work vast changes. The day was, in fact, as unpleasant as well
could be imagined, and it is said much for the sporting enthusiasm of the
countryside that the whole length of the road to Brighton was so crowded
with spectators that it resembled a thronged City thoroughfare.

It said still more for the pluck and endurance of those who undertook the
walk that of the ninety-nine starters no fewer than seventy-eight finished
within the thirteen hours' limit qualifying them for the commemorative
medal. G. D. Nicholas, the favourite, heavily backed by sportsmen, led
from the beginning, making the pace at the rate of six miles an hour. He
reached Streatham, six miles, in 59 mins.

And then a craze for walking to Brighton set in. On June 6th the butchers
of Smithfield Market walked, and doubtless, among the many other
class-races, the bakers, and the candlestick-makers as well, and the
proprietors of baked-potato cans and the roadmen, and indeed the Lord
alone knows who not. Of the sixty butchers, who had a much more favourable
day than the stockbrokers, the winner, H. F. Otway, covered the distance
in 9 hrs. 21 mins. 1-4/5 secs., thus beating Broad by some 9 minutes.

Whether the dairymen of London ever executed their proposed daring feat of
walking to Brighton, each trundling an empty churn, does not appear; but
it seems likely that many a fantastic person walked down carrying an empty
head. A German, one Anton Hauslian, even set out on the journey pushing a
perambulator containing his wife and six-year-old daughter; and on June
16th an American, a Miss Florence, an eighteen-year-old music-hall
equilibrist, started to "walk" the distance on a globe. She used for the
purpose two globes, each made of wood covered with sheepskin, and having a
diameter of 26 in.; one weighing 20 lb., for uphill work; the other
weighing 75 lb., for levels and descents. Starting at an early hour on
June 16th, and "walking" ten hours a day, she reached the Aquarium at the
unearthly hour of 2.40 on the morning of the 21st.

[Illustration: THE STOCK EXCHANGE WALK: E. F. BROAD AT HORLEY.]

Those who could not rehearse the epic flights of these fifty-two miles
walked shorter distances; and, while the craze lasted, not only did the
"midinettes" of Paris take the walking mania severely, but the waitresses
of various London teashops performed ten-mile wonders.

[Sidenote: MORE PEDESTRIANISM]

On June 20th the gigantic "go-as-you-please" walking or running match to
Brighton organised by the _Evening News_ took place, in that dismal
weather so generally associated, whatever the season of the year, with
sport on the Brighton Road. Two hundred and thirty-eight competitors had
entered, but only ninety actually faced the starter at 5 o'clock a.m. They
were a very miscellaneous concourse of professional and amateur "peds";
some with training and others with no discoverable athletic qualifications
at all; some mere boys, many middle-aged, one in his fifty-second year,
and even one octogenarian of eighty-five. Among them was a negro, F. W.
Craig, known to the music-halls by the poetic name of the "Coffee Cooler";
and labouring men, ostlers, and mechanics of every type were of the
number. It was as complete a contrast from the Stock Exchange band as
could be well imagined.

The wide difference in age, and the fitness and unfitness of the many
competitors, resulted in the race being won by the foremost while the
rearmost were struggling fifteen miles behind. The intrepid octogenarian
was still wearily plodding on, twenty miles from Brighton, six hours after
the winner, Len Hurst, had reached the Aquarium in the record time--26
mins. 18 secs. better than Randall's best of May 6th, 1899--of 6 hrs. 32
mins. Some amazing figures were set up by the more youthful and
incautious, who reached Croydon, 9-1/2 miles, in 54 mins., but were
eventually worn down by those who were wise enough to save themselves for
the later stages.

In the following August Miss M. Foster repeated her ride of July 12th,
1897, and cycled to Brighton and back, on this occasion, with
motor-pacing, reducing her former record to 5 hrs. 33 mins. 8 secs.

[Illustration: MISS M. FOSTER, PACED BY MOTOR-BICYCLE, PASSING COULSDON.]

[Sidenote: PEDESTRIAN RECORDS]

On November 7th the Surrey Walking Club's Brighton and back match was won
by H. W. Horton, in 20 hrs. 31 mins. 53 secs., disposing of Butler's best
of October 31st, 1902, by a margin of 1 hr. 4 mins. 34 secs.

With 1904 a decline in Brighton Road sport set in, for it was memorable
only for the Blackheath and Ranelagh Harriers' inter-club walk to
Brighton of April 9th. But that was indeed a memorable event, for T. E.
Hammond then abolished Butler's remaining record, of 8 hrs. 43 mins. 16
secs. for the single trip, and replaced it by his own of 8 hrs. 26 mins.
57-2/5 secs.

Even the efforts of cyclists seem to for a time have spent themselves, for
1905 witnessed only the new unpaced record made July 19th by R. Shirley,
who cycled there and back in 5 hrs. 22 mins. 5 secs., thus shearing off a
mere 8 mins. 5 secs. from Green's performance of so long as three years
before. What the future may have in store none may be so hardy as to
prophesy. Finality has a way of ever receding into the infinite, and when
the unpaced cyclist shall have beaten the paced record of 5 hrs. 6 mins.
42 secs. made by Neason in 1897, other new fields will arise to be
conquered. And let no one say that speed and sport on the Brighton Road
have finally declined, for, as we have seen, it is abundantly easy in
these days for a popular Press to "call spirits from the vasty deep," and
arouse sporting enthusiasm almost to frenzy, whenever and wherever it is
"worth the while."

Thus, in pedestrianism, other new times have since been set up. On
September 22nd, 1906, J. Butler, in the Polytechnic Harriers' Open Walk,
finished to Brighton in 8 hrs. 23 mins. 27 secs. On June 22nd, 1907,
Hammond performed the double journey, London to Brighton and back, in 18
hrs. 13 mins. 37 secs. And on May 1st, 1909, he regained the single
journey record by his performance of 8 hrs. 18 mins. 18 secs. On September
4th of the same year H. L. Ross further reduced the figures to 8 hrs. 11
mins. 14 secs.


BRIGHTON ROAD RECORDS.

RIDING, DRIVING, CYCLING, RUNNING, WALKING, ETC.

  +----------------------------------------------------------------------+
  |     Date.     |                                             | Time.  |
  |----------------------------------------------------------------------|
  |               |                                             |h. m. s.|
  |1784, July 25. |Prince of Wales rode horseback from the      |        |
  |               |  "Pavilion," Brighton, to Carlton House,    |        |
  |               |   London, and returned                      |10  0  0|
  |               |       Going                                 | 4 30  0|
  |               |       Returning                             | 5 30  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Aug. 21.   |Prince of Wales drove phæton, three horses   |        |
  |               |  tandem, from Carlton House to "Pavilion"   | 4 30  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1809, May.     |Cornet Webster of the 10th Light Dragoons,   |        |
  |               |  rode horseback from Brighton to            |        |
  |               |  Westminster Bridge                         | 3 20  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1831, June 19. |The "Red Rover" coach, leaving the "Elephant |        |
  |               |  and Castle" at 4 p.m., reached Brighton    |        |
  |               |  8.21                                       | 4 21  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1833, Oct.     |Walter Hancock's steam-carriage "Autopsy"    |        |
  |               |  performed the distance between Stratford   |        |
  |               |  and Brighton                               | 8 30  0|
  |               |      (Halted 3 hours on road. Actual        |        |
  |               |       running time, 5 hrs. 30 mins.)        |        |
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1834, Feb. 4.  |"Criterion" coach, London to Brighton        | 3 40  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1868, Mar. 20. |Benjamin B. Trench walked Kennington Church  |        |
  |               |  to Brighton and back (100 miles)           |23  0  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1869, Feb. 17. |John Mayall, jun., rode a velocipede from    |        |
  |               |  Trafalgar Square to Brighton in "about"    |12  0  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Mar. 6.    |W. M. and H. J. Chinnery walked from         |        |
  |               |  Westminster Bridge to Brighton             |11 25  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  April 14.  |C. A. Booth rode a velocipede London to      |        |
  |               |  Brighton                                   | 9 30  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1872, Sept. 19.|Amateur Bicycle Club's race, London to       |        |
  |               |  Brighton; won by A. Temple, riding a 44-in.|        |
  |               |  wheel                                      | 5 25  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1873, Aug. 16. |Six members of the Surrey B.C. and six of the|        |
  |               |  Middlesex B.C. rode to Brighton and back,  |        |
  |               |  starting from Kennington Oval at 6.1 a.m.  |        |
  |               |  Causton, captain of the Surrey, reached the|        |
  |               |  "Albion," Brighton, in 4 hrs. 51 mins.,    |        |
  |               |  riding a 50-in. Keen bicycle. W. Wood      |        |
  |               |  (Middlesex) did the 100 miles              |11  8  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1874, April 27.|A. Howard cycled Brighton to London          | 4 25  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1878, --.      |P. J. Burt walked from Westminster Clock     |        |
  |               |  Tower to Aquarium, Brighton                |10 52  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1884, --.      |C. L. O'Malley walked from Westminster Clock |        |
  |               |  Tower to Aquarium, Brighton                | 9 48  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1886, April 10.|J. A. McIntosh walked from Westminster Clock |        |
  |               |  Tower to Aquarium, Brighton                | 9 25  8|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1888, Jan. 1.  |Horse "Ginger" trotted to Brighton           | 4 16 30|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1888, July 13. |James Selby drove "Old Times" coach from     |        |
  |               |  "Hatchett's," Piccadilly, to "Old Ship,"   |        |
  |               |  Brighton, and back                         | 7 50  0|
  |               |      Going                                  | 3 56  0|
  |               |      Returning                              | 3 54  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1889, Aug. 10. |Team of four cyclists--E. J. Willis, G. L.   |        |
  |               |  Morris, C. W. Schafer, and S. Walker--     |        |
  |               |  dividing the distance between them, cycled |        |
  |               |  from "Hatchett's," Piccadilly, to "Old     |        |
  |               |  Ship," Brighton, and back                  | 7 36 19|
  |               |                                             |    -2/5|
  |1890, Mar. 30. |Another team--J. F. Shute, T. W. Girling, R. |        |
  |               |  Wilson, and A. E. Griffin--reduced first   |        |
  |               |  team's time by 4 mins. 19-2/5 secs.        | 7 32  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  April 13.  |Another team--E. R. and W. Scantlebury, W. W.|        |
  |               |  Arnott, and J. Blair                       | 7 25 15|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  June.      |F. W. Shorland cycled from "Hatchett's" to   |        |
  |               |  "Old Ship" and back ("Geared Facile"       |        |
  |               |  bicycle, pneumatic tyres)                  | 7 19  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  July 23.   |S. F. Edge cycled from "Hatchett's" to "Old  |        |
  |               |  Ship" and back (safety bicycle, cushion    |        |
  |               |  tyres)                                     | 7  2 50|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Sept. 3.   |C. A. Smith cycled from "Hatchett's" to "Old |        |
  |               |  Ship" (safety bicycle, pneumatic tyres) and|        |
  |               |  back                                       | 6 52 10|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "   "  30.    |E. P. Moorhouse cycled (tricycle) from       |        |
  |               |  "Hatchett's" to "Old Ship"                 | 8  9 24|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1891, Mar. 20. |E. H. Cuthbertson walked from "Hatchett's" to|        |
  |               |  "Old Ship"                                 |10  6 18|
  |               |      From Westminster Clock Tower           | 9 55 34|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1892, June 1.  |S. F. Edge cycled from "Hatchett's" to "Old  |        |
  |               |  Ship" and back                             | 6 51  7|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Sept. 6.   |E. Dance cycled to Brighton and back         | 6 49  1|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "   "  9.     |R. C. Nesbit cycled (high bicycle) to        |        |
  |               |  Brighton and back                          | 7 42 50|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1893, Sept. 12.|S. F. Edge cycled to Brighton and back       | 6 13 48|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "  17.  |A. E. Knight      "            "             | 6 10 29|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "  19.  |C. A. Smith       "            "             | 6  6 46|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "  22.  |S. F. Edge        "            "             | 5 52 30|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "       |E. Dance          "            "             | 5 52 18|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Oct. 4.  |W. W. Robertson (tricycle)     "             | 7 24  2|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1894, June 11. |W. R. Toft        "            "             | 6 21 30|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Sept. 12.  |C. G. Wridgway    "            "             | 5 35 32|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "   "  20.    |Miss Reynolds cycled to Brighton and back    | 7 48 46|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "   "  22.    |Miss White cycled to Brighton and back       | 7  6 46|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1895, Sept. 26.|A. A. Chase, Brighton and back               | 5 34 58|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Oct. 17.   |J. Parsley (tricycle)                        | 6 18 28|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Nov.       |J. H. Herbert cycled backwards to Brighton   | 7 45  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1896, June 26. |E. D. Smith and C. A. Greenwood (tandem)     | 5 37 34|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  --.        |W. Franks walked from south side of          |        |
  |               |  Westminster Bridge to Brighton             | 9  7  7|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  July 15.   |C. G. Wridgway                               | 5 22 33|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Sept. 15.  |H. Green and W. Nelson (tandem)              | 5 20 35|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "  Nov.  14.  |"Motor-car Day." A 6 h.p. Bollée motor       |        |
  |               |  started from Hotel Metropole, London, at   |        |
  |               |  11.30 a.m., and reached Brighton at 2.25   |        |
  |               |  p.m.                                       | 2 55  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1897, April 10.|Polytechnic Harriers' walk, Westminster Clock|        |
  |               |  Tower to Brighton. E. Knott                | 8 56 44|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    May    4.|W. J. Neason cycled to Brighton and back     | 5 19 39|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    July  12.|Miss M. Foster cycled from Hyde Park Corner  |        |
  |               |  to Brighton and back                       | 6 45  9|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "    13.|Richard Palmer cycled to Brighton and back   | 5  9 45|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Sept. 11.|W. J. Neason cycled from London to Brighton  |        |
  |               |  and back                                   | 5  6 42|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Oct.  27.|P. Wheelock and G. J. Fulford (tandem)       | 4 54 54|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |L. Franks and G. Franks (tandem safety)      | 5  0 56|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1898, Sept. 27.|E. J. Steel cycled London to Brighton and    |        |
  |               |  back (unpaced)                             | 6 23 55|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "     "     " |P. F. A. Gomme, London to Brighton and back  |        |
  |               |  (tricycle, unpaced)                        | 8 11 10|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1899, May    6.|South London Harriers' "go-as-you-please"    |        |
  |               |  running match, Westminster Clock Tower to  |        |
  |               |  Brighton. Won by F. D. Randall             | 6 58 18|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    June  30.|H. Green cycled from London to Brighton and  |        |
  |               |  back (unpaced)                             | 5 50 23|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1902, Aug.  21.|H. Green cycled from London to Brighton and  |        |
  |               |  Brighton and back (unpaced)                | 5 30 22|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Oct.  31.|Surrey Walking Club's match, Westminster     |        |
  |               |  Clock Tower to Brighton and back. J. Butler|21 36 27|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1903, Mar.  14.|J. Butler walked from Westminster Clock Tower|        |
  |               |  to Brighton                                | 8 43 16|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    May    1.|Stock Exchange Walk, won by E. F. Broad      | 9 30  1|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    June  20.|Running Match, Westminster Clock Tower to    |        |
  |               |  Tower to Brighton. Won by Len Hurst        | 6 32  0|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Aug.     |Miss M. Foster cycled to Brighton and back   |        |
  |               |  (motor-paced)                              | 5 33  8|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Nov.   7.|Surrey Walking Club's match, Westminster     |        |
  |               |  Clock Tower to Brighton and back. H. W.    |        |
  |               |  Horton                                     |20 31 53|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |P. Wheelock and G. Fulford (tandem safety)   | 4 54 54|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |A. C. Gray and H. L. Dixon (tandem safety,   |        |
  |               |  unpaced)                                   | 5 17 18|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1904, April  9.|Blackheath and Ranelagh Harriers, inter-club |        |
  |               |  walk, Westminster Clock Tower to Brighton. |        |
  |               |  T. E. Hammond                              | 8 26 57|
  |               |                                             |    -2/5|
  |1905, July  19.|R. Shirley, Polytechnic C.C., cycled Brighton|        |
  |               |  and back (unpaced)                         | 5 22  5|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1905, --.      |J. Parsley (tricycle)                        | 6 18 28|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |H. S. Price (tricycle, unpaced)              | 6 53  5|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1906, Sept. 22.|J. Butler walked to Brighton                 | 8 23 27|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |S. C. Paget and M. R. Mott (tandem safety,   |        |
  |               |  unpaced)                                   | 5  9 20|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |H. Green (safety cycle, unpaced)             | 5 20 22|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |R. Shirley      "          "                 | 5 15 29|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |L. Dralce (tricycle, unpaced)                | 6 24 56|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |J. D. Daymond   "       "                    | 6 19 48|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1907, June  22.|T. E. Hammond walked to Brighton and back    |18 13 37|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |C. and A. Richards (tandem-safety, unpaced)  | 5  5 25|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |G. H. Briault and E. Ward (tandem-safety,    |        |
  |               |  unpaced)                                   | 4 53 48|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1908, --.      |G. H. Briault (tricycle, unpaced)            | 6  8 24|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1909, May    1.|T. E. Hammond walked to Brighton             | 8 18 18|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    Sept.  4.|H. L. Ross      "          "                 | 8 11 14|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |Harry Green cycled Brighton and back         |        |
  |               |  (unpaced)                                  | 5 12 14|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1910, --.      |L. S. Leake and G. H. Spencer (tandem        |        |
  |               |  tricycle, unpaced)                         | 5 59 51|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1912, June  19.|Fredk. H. Grubb cycled (paced) Brighton and  |        |
  |               |  back                                       | 5  9 41|
  |               |                                             |        |
  | "    --.      |E. H. and S. Hulbert (tandem tricycle,       |        |
  |               |  unpaced)                                   | 5 42 21|
  |               |                                             |        |
  |1913, --.      |H. G. Cook (tricycle, unpaced)               | 6  7  4|
  |----------------------------------------------------------------------|
  |NOTE.--The fastest L. B. & S. C. R. train, the 5 p.m. Pulman |        |
  |Express from London Bridge, reaches Brighton (51 miles) at   |        |
  |6.0 p.m.                                                     | 1  0  0|
  +-------------------------------------------------------------+--------+



X


We may now, somewhat belatedly, after recounting these varied annals of
the way to Brighton, start along the road itself, coming from the south
side of Westminster Bridge to Kennington.

No one scanning the grey vista of the Kennington Road would, on sight,
accuse Kennington of owning a past; but, as a sheer matter of fact, it is
an historic place. It is the "Chenintun" of Domesday Book, and the
Cyningtun or Köningtun--the King's town--of an even earlier time. It was
indeed a royal manor belonging to Canute, and the site of the palace where
his son, Hardicanute, died, mad drunk, in 1042. Edward the Third annexed
it to his Duchy of Cornwall, and even yet, after the vicissitudes of nine
hundred years, the Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall, owns house
property here. Kennington Park, too, has its own sombre romance, for it
was an open common until 1851, and a favourite place of execution for
Surrey malefactors. Here the minor prisoners among the Scottish rebels
captured by the Duke of Cumberland in the '45 were executed, those of
greater consideration being beheaded on Tower Hill. It is an odd
coincidence that, among the lesser titles of "Butcher Cumberland" himself
was that of Earl of Kennington.

At this junction of roads, where the Kennington Road, the Kennington Park
Road, the Camberwell New Road, and the Brixton Road, all pool their
traffic, there stood, in times not so far removed but that some yet living
can remember it, Kennington Gate, an important turnpike at any time, and
one of very great traffic on Derby Day, when, I fear, the pikeman was
freely bilked of his due at the hands of sportsmen, noble and ignoble.
There is a view of this gate on such a day drawn by James Pollard, and
published in 1839, which gives a very good idea of the amount of traffic
and, incidentally, of the curious costumes of the period. You shall also
find in the "Comic Almanack" for 1837 an illustration by George
Cruikshank of this same place, one would say, although it is not mentioned
by name, in which is an immense jostling crowd anxious to pass through,
while the pikeman, having apparently been "cheeked" by the occupants of a
passing vehicle, is vulgarly engaged, I grieve to state, in "taking a
sight" at them. That is to say, he has, according to the poet, "Put his
thumb unto his nose and spread his fingers out."

[Sidenote: KENNINGTON GATE]

Kennington Gate was swept away, with other purely Metropolitan turnpike
gates, October 31st. 1865, and is now to be found in the yard of Clare's
Depository at the crest of Brixton Hill. It was one of nine that barred
this route from London to the sea in 1826. The others were at South End,
Croydon: Foxley Hatch, or Purley Gate, which stood near Purley Corner, by
the twelfth milestone, until 1853; and Frenches, 19 miles 4 furlongs from
London--that is to say, just before you come into Redhill streets. Leaving
Redhill behind, another gate spanned the road at Salfords, below Earlswood
Common, while others were situated at Horley, Ansty Cross, Stonepound, one
mile short of Clayton; and at Preston, afterwards removed to Patcham.[6]

Not the most charitable person could lay his hand upon his heart and
declare, honestly, that the church of St. Mark, Kennington, which stands
at this beginning of the Brixton Road, is other than extremely hideous.
Fortunately, its pagan architecture, once fondly thought to revive the
glories of old Greece, is largely screened from sight by the thriving
trees of its churchyard, and so nervous wayfarers are spared something of
the inevitable shock.

The story of Kennington Church does not take us very far back, down the
dim alleys of history, for it was built so recently as the first quarter
of the nineteenth century, when it was thought possible to emulate the
marble beauties of the Parthenon and other triumphs of classic
architecture in plebeian brick and stone. Those materials, however, and
the architects themselves, were found to be somewhat inferior to their
models, and eventually the public taste became so outraged with the
appalling ugliness of the pagan temples arising on every hand that at
length the Gothic revival of the mid-nineteenth century set in.

But if its history is not long, its site has a horrid kind of historic
association, for the building stands on what was a portion of Kennington
Common, the exact spot where the unhappy Scottish rebels were executed in
1746, and where Jerry Abershawe, the highwayman, was hanged in 1795. The
remains of the gibbet on which the bodies of some of his fellow knights of
the road were exposed were actually found when the foundations for the
church were being dug out.

The origin of Kennington Church, like that of Brixton, is so singular that
it is very well worth while to inquire into it. It was a direct outcome of
the Napoleonic wars. England had been so long engaged in those European
struggles, and was so wearied and impoverished by them, that Parliament
could think of nothing better than to celebrate the peace of 1815 by
voting a million and a half of money to the clergy as a "thank-offering."
This sum took the shape of a church-building fund. Wages were low, work
was scarce, and bread was so dear that the people were starving. That good
paternal Parliament, therefore, when they asked for bread gave them stone
and brick, and performed the heroic feat of picking their impoverished
pockets as well. It was accomplished in this wise. There was that Lucky
Bag, the million and a half sterling of the Thanksgiving Fund; but it
could not be dipped into unless you gave an equal sum to that you took
out, and then expended the whole on building churches. And yet it has been
said that Parliament has no sense of the ridiculous! Why, it was the most
stupendous of practical jokes!

[Illustration: KENNINGTON GATE: DERBY DAY, 1839. _From an engraving after
J. Pollard._]

[Sidenote: HALF-PRICE CHURCHES]

Lambeth was at that time a suburban and a greatly expanding parish, and
was one of those that accepted this offer, and took what came eventually
to be called Half Price Churches. It gave a large order, and took four:
those of Kennington, Waterloo, Brixton, and Norwood, all ferociously
hideous, and costing £15,000 apiece; the Government granting one moiety
and the other being raised by a parish rate on all, without distinction of
creed. The Government also remitted the usual taxes on the building
materials, and in some instances further helped the people to rejoice by
imposing a compulsory rate of twopence in the pound, to pay the rector or
vicar. All this did more to weaken the Church of England than even a
century of scandalous inefficiency:

  Abuse a man, and he may brook it,
  But keep your hands out of his breeches pocket.

The major part of these grievances was adjusted by the Act of 1868,
abolishing all Church rates, excepting those levied under special Acts;
but the eyesores will not be redressed until the temples are pulled down
and rebuilt.

Brixton appears in Domesday as "Brixistan," which in later ages became
"Brixtow"; and the Brixton Road follows the line of a Roman way on which
Streatham stood. Both the Domesday name of Brixton and the name of
Streatham are significant, indicating their position on the stones and the
street, _i.e._, the paved thoroughfare alluded to in "Brixton causeway,"
marked on old suburban maps.

The Brixton Road, even down to the middle of the nineteenth century, was a
pretty place. On the left-hand side, as you made for Streatham, ran the
river Effra. It was a clear and sparkling stream, twelve feet wide,
which, rising at Norwood, eventually found its way into the Thames at
Vauxhall. Its course ran where the front gardens of the houses on that
side of the road are now situated, and at that period every house was
fronted by its little bridge; but the unfortunate Effra has long since
been thrust underground in a sewer-pipe, and the sole reminiscence of it
to be seen is the name of Effra Road, beside Brixton Church.

The "White Horse" public-house, where the omnibuses halt, was in those
times a lonely inn, neighboured only by a farm; but with the dawn of the
nineteenth century a new suburb began to spring up, where Angell Road now
stands, called "Angell Town," and then the houses of Brixton Road began to
arise. It is curious to note that the last of the old watchmen's wooden
boxes was standing in front of Claremont Lodge, 168, Brixton Road, until
about 1875.

There is little in the Lower Brixton Road that is reminiscent of the
Regency, but a very great deal of early suburban comfort evident in the
old mansions of the Rise and the Hill, built in days when by a "suburban
villa" you did not mean a cheap house in a cheap suburban road, but--to
speak in the language of auctioneers--a "commodious residence situate in
its own ornamental grounds, replete with every convenience," or something
in that eloquent style. For when you ascend gradually, past the Bon
Marché, and come to the hill-top, you leave for awhile the shops and the
continuous, conjoined houses, and arrive, past the transitional stage of
semi-detachedness, at the wholly blest condition of splendid isolation in
the rear of fences and carriage entrances, with gentility-balls on the
gate-posts, a circular lawn in front of the house, skirted by its gravel
drive, and perhaps even a stone dog on either side of the doorway! Solid
comfort resides within those four-square walls, and reclines in saddle-bag
armchairs, thinking complacently of big bank balances, all derived from
wholesale dealing in the City, and now enjoyed, and added to, in the third
and fourth generations; for these solid houses were built a century ago,
or thereby. They are not beautiful, nor indeed are they ugly. Built of
good yellow stock brick, grown decorously neutral-tinted with age, and
sparsely relieved, it may be, with stucco pilasters picked out with raised
medallions or plaster wreaths. Supremely unimaginative, admirably free
from tawdry affectations of Art, unquestionably permanent--and large. They
are, indeed, of such spaciousness and commodious quality that an
auctioneer who all his life long has been ascribing those characteristics
to houses which do not possess them feels a vast despair possess his soul
when it falls to his lot to professionally describe such an one. And yet I
think few ever realise the scale of these villas and their grounds until
the houses themselves are pulled down and the grounds laid out as building
plots for what we now understand by "villas"--a fate that has lately
befallen a few. When it is realised that the site lately occupied by one
of these staid mansions and its surrounding gardens will presently harbour
thirty or forty little modern houses--why, then an unwonted respect is
felt for it and its kind.

[Sidenote: BRIXTON HILL]

Brixton Hill brings one up out of the valley of the Thames. The hideous
church of Brixton stands on the crest of it, with the hulking monument of
the Budd family, all scarabei and classic emblems of death, prominent at
the angle of the roads--a _memento mori_, ever since the twenties, for
travellers down the road.

Among the mouldering tombstones, whose neglect proves that grief, as well
as joy and everything else human, passes, is one in shape like a
biscuit-box, to John Miles Hine, who died, aged seventeen, in 1824. A
verse, plainly to be read by the wayfarer along the pavements of Brixton
Hill, accompanies name and date:

  O Miles! the modest, learned and sincere
  Will sigh for thee, whose ashes slumber here;
  The youthful bard will pluck a floweret pale
  From this sad turf whene'er he reads the tale,
  That one so young and lovely--died--and last,
  When the sun's vigour warms, or tempests rave,
  Shall come in summer's bloom and winter's blast,
  A Mother, to weep o'er this hopeless grave.

An inscription on another side shows us that her weeping was ended in
1837, when she died, aged fifty-two; and now there is no turf and no
flowerets, and the tomb is neglected, and the cats make their midnight
assignations on it when the electric trams have gone to bed and Brixton
snores.

On the right hand side, at the summit of Brixton Hill, there still remains
an old windmill. It is in Cornwall Road. True, the sails of its tall black
tower are gone, and the wind-power that drove the machinery is now
replaced by a gas-engine; but in the old building corn is yet ground, as
it has been since in 1816 John Ashby, the Quaker grandfather of the
present millers, Messrs. Joshua & Bernard Ashby, built that tower. Here,
unexpectedly, amid typical modern suburban developments, you enter an
old-world yard, with barns, stables and cottage, pretty much the same as
they were over a hundred years ago, when the mill first arose on this
hill-top, and London seemed far away.

And so to Streatham, once rightly "Streatham, Surrey," in the postal
address, but now merely "Streatham, S.W." A world of significance lies in
that apparently simple change, which means that it is now in the London
Postal District. Even so early as 1850 we read in Brayley's "History of
Surrey" that "the village of Streatham is formed by an almost continuous
range of villas and other respectable dwellings." Respectable! I should
think so, indeed! Conceive the almost impious inadequacy of calling the
Streatham Hill mansions of City magnates "respectable." As well might one
style the Alps "pretty"!

But this spot was not always of such respectability, for about 1730 there
stood a gibbet on Streatham Hill, by the fifth milestone, and from it hung
in chains the body of one "Jack Gutteridge," a highwayman duly executed
for robbing and murdering a gentleman's servant here. The place was long
afterwards known as "Jack Gutteridge's Gate."

[Illustration: Streatham Common]

Streatham--the Ham (that is to say the home, or the hamlet) on the
Street--emphatically in those Saxon times when it first obtained its name,
_the_ Street--was probably so named to distinguish it from some other
settlement situated in the mud. In that era, when hard roads were few, a
paved way could be, and very often was, made to stand godfather to a
place, and thus we find so many Streatleys, Stratfords, Strattons,
Streets, and Stroods on the map. Those "streets" were Roman roads. The
particular "street" on which Streatham stood seems to have been a Roman
road which came up from the coast by Clayton, St. John's Common, Godstone,
and Caterham, a branch of the road to _Portus Adurni_, the Old Shoreham of
to-day. Portions of it were discovered in 1780, on St. John's Common, when
the Brighton turnpike road through that place was under construction. It
was from 18 to 20 feet wide, and composed of a bed of flints, grouted
together, 8 inches thick. Narrowly avoiding Croydon, it reached Streatham
by way of Waddon (where there is one of the many "Cold Harbours"
associated so intimately with Roman roads) and joined the present Brighton
Road midway between Croydon and Thornton Heath Pond, at what used to be
Broad Green.

[Sidenote: DOCTOR JOHNSON]

There are no Roman remains at twentieth-century Streatham, and there are
very few even of the eighteenth century. The suburbs have absorbed the
village, and Dr. Johnson himself and Thrale Place are only memories. "All
flesh is grass," said the Preacher, and therefore Dr. Johnson, whose bulky
figure we may put at the equivalent of a truss of hay, is of course but an
historic name; but bricks and mortar last immeasurably longer than those
who rear them, and his haunts might have been still extant but for the
tragical nearness of Streatham to London and that "ripeness" of land for
building which has abolished many a pleasant and an historic spot.

But while the broad Common of Streatham remains unfenced, the place will
keep a vestige of its old-time character of roadside village. A good deal
earlier than Dr. Samuel Johnson's visits to Streatham and Thrale Place,
the village had quite a rosy chance of becoming another Tunbridge Wells or
Cheltenham, for in the early years of the eighteenth century it became
known as a Spa, and real and imaginary invalids flocked to drink the
disagreeable waters issuing from what quaint old Aubrey calls the "sower
and weeping ground" by the Common. Whether the waters were too nasty, or
not nasty enough, does not appear, but it is certain that the rivalry of
Streatham to those other Spas was neither long-continued nor serious.

Streatham is content to forget its waters, but the memory of Dr. Johnson
will not be dropped, for if it were, no one knows to what quarter
Streatham could turn for any history or traditions at all. As it is, the
mind's-eye picture is cherished of that grumbling, unwieldy figure coming
down from London to Thrale's house, to be lionised and indulged, and in
return to give Mrs. Thrale a reflected glory. The lion had the manners of
a bear, and, like a dancing bear, performed clumsy evolutions for buns and
cakes; but he had a heart as tender as a child's, and a simple vanity as
engaging, beneath that unpromising exterior and those pompous ways. Wig
awry and singed in front from his short-sighted porings over the midnight
oil, clothes shabby, and linen that journeyed only at long intervals to
the wash-tub, his was not the aspect of a carpet-knight, and those he met
at the literary-artistic tea-table of Thrale Place murmured that he was an
"original."

He met a brilliant company over those teacups: Reynolds and Garrick, and
Fanny Burney--the readiest hand at the "management" of one so difficult
and intractable--and many lesser lights, and partook there of innumerable
cups of tea, dispensed at that hospitable board by Mrs. Thrale. That
historic teapot is still extant, and has a capacity of three quarts;
specially chosen, doubtless, in view of the Doctor's visits. Ye gods! what
floods of Bohea were consumed within that house in Thrale Park!

They even seated the studious Johnson on horseback and took him hunting;
and, strange to say, he does not merely seem to have only just saved
himself from falling off, but is said to have acquitted himself as well as
any country squire on that notable occasion.

But all things have an end, and the day was to come when Johnson should
bid a last farewell to Streatham. He had broken with the widowed Mrs.
Thrale on the subject of her marriage with Piozzi, and he could no longer
bear to see the place. So, in one endearing touch of sentiment, he gave it
good-bye, as his diary records:

"Sunday, went to church at Streatham. _Templo valedixi cum osculo._" Thus,
kissing the old porch of St. Leonard's, the lexicographer departed with
heavy heart. Two years later he died.

This Church of St. Leonard still contains the Latin epitaph he wrote to
commemorate the easy virtues of his friend Henry Thrale, who died in 1781,
but alterations and restorations have changed almost all else. It is, in
truth, a dreadful example, externally, of the Early Compo Period, and
internally of the Late Churchwarden, or Galleried, Style.

It is curious to note the learned Doctor's indignation when asked to write
an English epitaph for setting up in Westminster Abbey. The great
authority on the English language, the compiler of that monumental
dictionary, exclaimed that he would not desecrate its walls with an
inscription in his own tongue. Thus the pedant!

There is one Latin epitaph at Streatham that reads curiously. It is on a
tablet by Richard Westmacott to Frederick Howard, who _in pugna
Waterlooensi occiso_. The battle of Waterloo looks strange in that garb.

But Latin is frequent here, and free. The tablets that jostle one another
down the aisles are abounding in that tongue, and the little brass to an
ecclesiastic, nailed upon the woodwork toward the west end of the north
aisle, is not free from it. So the shade of the Doctor, if ever it
revisits these scenes, might well be satisfied with the quantity, although
it is not inconceivable he would cavil at the quality.



XI


Thrale Park has gone the way of all suburban estates in these days of the
speculative builder. The house was pulled down so long ago as 1863, and
its lands laid out in building plots. Lysons, writing of its demesne in
1792, says that "Adjoining the house is an enclosure of about 100 acres,
surrounded with a shrubbery and gravel-walk of nearly two miles in
circumference." Trim villas and a suburban church now occupy the spot, and
the memory of the house itself has faded away. Save for its size, the
house made no brave show, being merely one of many hundreds of mansions
built in the seventeenth century, of a debased classic type.

[Sidenote: GIBBETS BY THE WAY]

Streatham Common and Thornton Heath were still, in Johnston's time, and
indeed for long after, good places for the highwaymen and for the Dark
Lurk of the less picturesque, but infinitely more dangerous, foot-pad.
Law-abiding people did not care to travel them after nightfall, and when
compelled to do so went escorted and armed. Ogilby, in his "Britannia" of
1675, showed the pictures of a gallows on the summit of Brixton Hill and
another (a very large one) at Thornton Heath; and according to a later
editor, who issued an "Ogilby Improv'd" in 1731, they still decorated the
wayside. They were no doubt retained for some time longer, in the hope of
affording a warning to those who robbed upon the highway.

At Norbury railway station the railway crosses over the road, and
eminently respectable suburbs occupy that wayside where the foot-pads used
to await the timorous traveller. Trim villas rise in hundreds, and where
the extra large and permanent gallows stood, like a football goal, at
what used to be a horse-pond, there is to-day the prettily-planted garden
and pond of Thornton Heath, with a Jubilee fountain which has in later
years been persuaded to play.

Midway between Norbury and Thornton Heath stands, or stood, Norbury Hall,
the delightful park and mansion where J. W. Hobbs, ex-Mayor of Croydon,
resided until he was convicted of forgery at the Central Criminal Court in
March, 1893, and sentenced to twelve years penal servitude. "T 180," as he
was known when a convict, was released on licence on January 18th, 1898,
and returned to his country-seat. Meanwhile, the Congregational Chapel he
had presented to that sect was paid for, to remove the stigma of being his
gift; just as the Communion-service presented to St. Paul's Cathedral by
the company-promoting Hooley was returned when his bankruptcy scandalised
commercial circles.

The estate of Norbury Hall has since T 180's release become "ripe for
building," and the mansion, the lake, and the beautiful grounds have been
"developed" away. Soon all memory of the romantic spot will have faded.

Prominently over the sea of roofs in the valley, and above the white
hillside villas of Sydenham and Gipsy Hill, rise the towers and the long
body of the Crystal Palace; that bane and obsession of most view-points in
South London, "for ever spoiling the view in all its compass," as Ruskin
truly says in "Præterita."

I do not like the Crystal Palace. The atmosphere of the building is
stuffily reminiscent of half a century's stale teas and buttered toast,
and the views of it, near or distant, are very creepily and awfully like
the dreadful engravings after Martin, the painter of such scriptural
scenes as "Belshazzar's Feast" and horribly-conceived apocalyptic subjects
from Revelation.

[Illustration: STREATHAM.]

At Thornton Heath--where there has been nothing in the nature of a heath
for at least eighty years past--the electric trams of Croydon begin, and
take you through North End into and through Croydon town, along a
continuous line of houses. "Broad Green" once stood by the wayside, but
nowadays the sole trace of it is the street called Broad Green Avenue. At
Thornton Heath, however, there is just one little vestige of the past
left, in "Colliers' Water Lane." The old farmhouse of Colliers' Water,
reputed haunt of the phenomenally ubiquitous Dick Turpin, was demolished
in 1897. Turpin probably never knew it, and the secret staircase it
possessed was no doubt intended to hide fugitives much more respectable
than highwaymen.

The name of that lane is now the only reminder of the time when Croydon
was a veritable Black Country.

The "colliers of Croydon," whose black trade gave such employment to
seventeenth-century wits, had no connection with what our ancestors of
very recent times still called "sea-coal"--that is to say, coal shipped
from Newcastle and brought round by water, in days before railways. The
Croydon coal was charcoal, made from the wood of the dense forests that
once overspread the counties of Surrey and Sussex, and was supplied very
largely to London from the fifteenth century down to the beginning of the
nineteenth.

Grimes, the collier of Croydon, first made the Croydon colliers famous. We
are not to suppose that his name was really Grimes: that was probably a
part of the wit already hinted at. He was a master collier, who in the
time of Edward the Sixth made charcoal on so large a scale that the smoke
and the grime of it became offensive to his Grace the Archbishop of
Canterbury in his palace of Croydon, who made an unsuccessful attempt to
abolish the kilns. I think we may sympathise with his Grace and his soiled
lawn-sleeves.

We first find Croydon mentioned in A.D. 962, when it was "Crogdoene." In
Domesday Book it is "Croindene." Whether the name means "crooked vale,"
"chalk vale," or "town of the cross," I will not pretend to say, and he
would be rash who did. The ancient history of the place is bound up with
the archbishopric of Canterbury, for the manor was given by the Conqueror
to Lanfranc, who is supposed to have been the founder of the palace, which
still stands next the parish church, and was a residence of the Primate
until 1750.

[Sidenote: GROWTH OF CROYDON]

By that time Croydon had begun to grow, and not only had the old buildings
become inconvenient, but a population surrounded those dignified
churchmen, who, after the manner of archbishops, retired to a more
secluded home. They not only flew from contact with the people, whose
spiritual needs might surely have anchored them to the spot, but by the
promotion of the Enclosure Act of 1797 they robbed the people of the
far-spreading common lands in the parish. Croydon by that time numbered
between five and six thousand inhabitants, and was thought quite a
considerable place. A hundred and ten years have added a hundred and
twenty-five thousand more to that considerable population, and still
Croydon grows.

In those times the woodlands closely encircled the little town. In 1620
they came up to the parish church and the palace, which was then said to
be a "very obscure and darke place." Archbishop Abbot "expounded" it by
felling the timber. It was in those times surrounded by a moat, fed by the
headspring of the Wandle; but the moat is gone, and the first few yards of
the Wandle are nowadays made to flow underground.

The explorer of the Brighton Road who comes, by whatever method of
progression he pleases, into Croydon, finds its busy centre at what is
still called North End. The name survives long after the circumstances
that conferred it have vanished into the limbo of forgotten things. It
_was_ the North end of the town, and here, on what was then a country
site, the good Archbishop Whitgift founded his Hospital of the Holy
Trinity in 1593. It still stands, although sorely threatened in these last
few years; but it is now the one quiet and unassuming spot in a narrow, a
busy, and a noisy street. Fronting the main thoroughfare, it blocks
"improvement"; occupying a site grown so valuable, its destruction, and
the sale of the ground for building upon, would immensely profit the good
Whitgift's noble charity. What would Whitgift himself do? When we have
advanced still farther into the Unknown and can communicate with the sane
among the departed, instead of the idiot spirits who can do nothing better
than levitate chairs and tables, rap silly messages, and play
monkey-tricks--when we can ring up whom we please at the Paradise or the
Inferno Exchange, as the case may be, we shall be able to ascertain the
will of Pious Benefactors, and much bitterness will cease out of the land.

Meanwhile the old building for the time survives, and its name, "The
Hospital of the Holy Trinity," inscribed high up on the wall, seems
strange and reverend amid the showy shop-signs of a latter-day commerce.

There is, of course, no reason why, if widening is to take place, the
_opposite_ side of the street should not be set back, and, indeed, any one
standing in that street will readily perceive it to be that side which
should be demolished, to make a straighter and a broader thoroughfare. It
is therefore quite evident that the agitation for demolishing the Hospital
is unreal and artificial, and only prompted by greed for the site.

It is a solitude amid the throng, remarkable in the collegiate character
of its walls of dark and aged red brick, pierced only by the doorway and
as jealously as possible by the few mullioned windows. Once within the
outer portal, ornamented overhead with the arms of the See of Canterbury
and eloquent with the motto _Qui dat pauperi non indigebit_, the stranger
has entered from a striving into a calm and equable world. It is, as old
Aubrey quaintly puts it, "a handsome edifice, erected in the manner of a
college, by the Right Reverend Father in God, John Whitgift, late
Archbishop of Canterbury." The dainty quadrangle, set about with grass
lawns and bright flowers, is formed on three sides by tiny houses of two
floors, where dwell the poor brothers and sisters of this old foundation:
twenty brothers and sixteen sisters, who, beside lodging, receive each £40
and £30 a year respectively. They enjoy all the advantages of the Hospital
so long as of good behaviour, but "obstinate heresye, sorcerye, any kinde
of charmmynge, or witchcrafte" are punished by the statutes with
expulsion.

[Illustration: THE DINING HALL, WHITGIFT HOSPITAL.]

The fourth side of the quadrangle is occupied by the Hall, the Warden's
rooms, and the Chapel, all in very much the same condition as at their
building. The old oak table in the Hall is dated 1614, and much of the
stained glass is of sixteenth century date.

But it is in the Warden's rooms, above, that the eye is feasted with old
woodwork, ancient panelling, black with lapse of time, quaint muniment
chests, curious records, and the like. These were the rooms specially
reserved for his personal use during his lifetime by the pious Archbishop
Whitgift.

Here is a case exhibiting the original titles to the lands on which the
Hospital is built, and with which it is endowed; formidable sheets of
parchment, bearing many seals, and, what does duty for one, a gold angel
of Edward VI.

These are ideal rooms; rooms which delight with their unspoiled
sixteenth-century air. The sun streams through the western windows over
their deep embrasures, lighting up so finely the darksome woodwork into
patches of brilliance that there must be those who envy the Warden his
lodging, so perfect a survival of more spacious days.

[Illustration: The CHAPEL, Hospital of the Holy Trinity.]

A little chapel duly completes the Hospital, and here is not pomp of
carving nor vanity of blazoning, for the good Archbishop, mindful of
economy, would none of these. The seats and benches are contemporary with
the building, and are rough-hewn. On the western wall hangs the founder's
portrait, black-framed and mellow, rescued from the boys of the Whitgift
schools ere quite destroyed, and on the other walls are the portrait of a
lady, supposed to be the Archbishop's niece, and a ghastly representation
of Death as a skeleton digging a grave. But all these things are seen but
dimly, for the light is very feeble.



XII


The High Street of Croydon really _is_ high, for it occupies a ridge and
looks down on the right hand on the Old Town and the valley of the Wandle,
or "Wandel." The centre of Croydon has, in fact, been removed from down
below, where the church and palace first arose, on the line of the old
Roman road, to this ridge, where within the historic period the High
Street was only a bridle-path avoiding the little town in the valley.

The High Street, incidentally the Brighton Road as well, is nowadays a
very modern and commercial-looking thoroughfare, and owes that appearance,
and its comparative width, to the works effected under the Croydon
Improvement Act of 1890. Already Croydon, given a Mayor and Town Council
in 1883, had grown so greatly that the narrow street was incapable of
accommodating the traffic; while the low-lying, and in other senses low,
quarter of Market Street and Middle Row offended the dignity and
self-respect of the new-born Corporation. The Town Hall stood at that time
in the High Street: a curious example of bastard classic architecture,
built in 1808. Near by was the "Greyhound," an old coaching and posting
inn, with one of those picturesque gallows signs straddling across the
street, of which those of the "George" at Crawley and the "Greyhound" at
Sutton are surviving examples. That of the "Cock" at Sutton disappeared in
1898, and the similar signs of the "Crown," opposite the Whitgift
Hospital, and of the "King's Arms" vanished many years ago.

The "Greyhound" was the principal inn of Croydon in the old times. The
first mention of it is found in 1563, the parish register of that year
containing the entry, "Nicholas Vode (Wood) the son of the good wyfe of
the grewond was buryed the xxix day of January." The voluminous John
Taylor mentions it in 1624 as one of the two Croydon inns, and it was the
headquarters of General Fairfax in 1645, when Cromwell vehemently disputed
with him under its roof on the conduct of the campaign, urging more severe
measures.

Following upon the alteration, the "Greyhound" was rebuilt. Its gallows
sign disappeared at the same time, when a curious point arose respecting
the post supporting it on the opposite pavement. Erected in the easy-going
times when such a matter was nothing more than a little friendly and
neighbourly concession, the square foot of ground it occupied had by lapse
of time become freehold property, and as such it was duly scheduled and
purchased by the Improvements Committee. A sum of £400 was claimed for
freehold and loss of advertisement, and eventually £350 was paid.

[Sidenote: RUSKIN]

I suppose there can be no two opinions about the slums cleared away under
that Improvement Act; but they were very picturesque, if also very dirty
and tumble-down: all nodding gables, cobblestoned roads, and winding ways.
I sorrow, in the artistic way, for those slums, and in the literary way
for a house swept away at the same time, sentimentally associated with
John Ruskin. It was the inn kept by his maternal grandmother, and is
referred to in "Præterita":

"... Of my father's ancestors I know nothing, nor of my mother's more than
that my maternal grandmother was the landlady of the 'Old King's Head' in
Market Street, Croydon; and I wish she were alive again, and I could paint
her Simone Memmi's 'King's Head' for a sign." And he adds: "Meantime my
aunt had remained in Croydon and married a baker.... My aunt lived in the
little house still standing--or which was so four months ago[7]--the
fashionablest in Market Street, having actually two windows over the shop,
in the second story" (_sic_).

There are slums at Croydon even now, for Croydon is a highly civilised
progressive place, and slums and slum populations are the exclusive
products of civilisation and progress, and a very severe indictment of
them. But they are new slums; those poverty-stricken districts created _ad
hoc_, which seem more hopeless than the ancient purlieus, and appear to be
as inevitable to and as inseparable from modern great towns as a hem to a
handkerchief.

The old quarter of Croydon began to fall into the slum condition at about
the period of Croydon's first expansion, when the [Greek: ohi polloi]
impinged too closely upon the archiepiscopal precincts, and their Graces,
neglecting their obvious duty in the manner customary to Graces spiritual
and temporal, retired to the congenial privacy of Addington.

Here stands the magnificent parish church of Croydon; its noble tower of
the Perpendicular period, its body of the same style, but a restoration,
after the melancholy havoc caused by the great fire of 1867. It is one of
the few really satisfactory works of Sir Gilbert Scott; successful because
he was obliged to forget his own particular fads and to reproduce exactly
what had been destroyed. Another marvellous replica is the elaborate
monument of Archbishop Whitgift, copied exactly from pictures of that
utterly destroyed in the fire. Archbishop Sheldon's monument, however,
still remains in its mutilated condition, with a scarred and horrible face
calculated to afflict the nervous and to be remembered in their dreams.

The vicars of Croydon have in the long past been a varied kind. The
Reverend William Clewer, who held the living from 1660 until 1684, when he
was ejected, was a "smiter," an extortioner, and a criminal; but Roland
Phillips, a predecessor by some two hundred years, was something of a
seer. Preaching in 1497, he declared that "we" (the Roman Catholics) "must
root out printing, or printing will root out us." Already, in the twenty
years of its existence, it had undermined superstition, and was presently
to root out the priests, even as he foresaw.

[Sidenote: THE ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE]

Unquestionably the sight best worth seeing in Croydon is that next-door
neighbour of the church, the Archbishop's Palace. Comparatively few are
those who see it, because it is just a little way off the road and is
private property and shown only by favour and courtesy. When the
Archbishops deserted the place it was sold under the Act of Parliament of
1780 and became the factory of a calico-printer and a laundry. Some
portions were demolished, the moat was filled up, the "minnows and the
springs of Wandel" of which Ruskin speaks, were moved on, and mean little
streets quartered the ground immediately adjoining. But, although all
those facts are very grim and grey, it remains true that the old palace is
a place very well worth seeing.

It was again sold in 1887, and purchased by the Duke of Newcastle, who
made it over to the so-called "Kilburn Sisters," who maintain it as a
girls' school. I do not know, nor seek to inquire, by what right, or with
what object, the "Sisters" who conduct the school affect the dress of
Roman Catholics, while professing the tenets of the Church of England; but
under their rule the historic building has been well treated, and the
chapel and other portions repaired, with every care for their interesting
antiquities, under the eyes of expert and jealous anti-restorers. The
Great Hall, chief feature of the place, still maintains its fifteenth
century chestnut hammerbeam roof and armorial corbels; the Long Gallery,
where Queen Elizabeth danced, the State bedroom where she slept, the Guard
Room, quarters of the Archbishops' bodyguard, are all existing; and the
Chapel, with oaken bench-ends bearing the sculptured arms of Laud, of
Juxon, and others, and the Archbishops' pew, has lately been brought back
to decent condition. Here, too, is the exquisite oaken gallery at the
western end, known as "Queen Elizabeth's Pew."

That imperious queen and indefatigable tourist paid several visits to
Croydon Palace, and her characteristic insolence and freedom of speech
were let loose upon the unoffending wife of Archbishop Parker when she
took her leave. "Madam," she said, "I may not call you; mistress I am
ashamed to call you; and so I know not what to call you; but, however, I
thank you." It seems evident that the daughter of Henry the Eighth had,
despite her Protestantism, an historic preference for a celibate clergy.



XIII


Down amid what remains of the old town is a street oddly named "Pump
Pail." Its strange name causes many a visit of curiosity, but it is a
common-place street, and contains neither pail nor pump, and nothing more
romantic than a tin tabernacle. But this, it appears, is not an instance
of things not being what they seem, for in the good old days before the
modern water-supply, one of the parish pumps stood here, and from it a
woman supplied a house-to-house delivery of water in pails. The
explanation seems too obvious to be true, and sure enough, a variant kicks
the "pail" over, and tells us that it is properly Pump Pale, the Place of
the Pump, "pale" being an ancient word, much used in old law-books to
indicate a district, limit of jurisdiction, and so forth.

[Sidenote: JABEZ BALFOUR]

The modern side of all these things is best exemplified by the beautiful
Town Hall which Croydon has provided for itself, in place of the ugly old
building, demolished in 1893. It is a noble building, and stands on a site
worthy of it, with broad approaches that permit good views, without which
the best of buildings is designed in vain. It marks the starting point of
the history of modern Croydon, and is a far cry from the old building of
the bygone Local Board days, when the traffic of the High Street was
regulated--or supposed to be regulated--by the Beadle, and the rates were
low, and Croydon was a country town, and everything was dull and humdrum.
It was a little unfortunate that the first Mayor of Croydon and Liberal
Member of Parliament for Tamworth, that highly imaginative financier Jabez
Spencer Balfour, should have been wanted by the police, a fugitive from
justice brought back from the Argentine, and a criminal convicted of fraud
as a company promoter; but accidents will happen, and the Town Council did
its best, by turning his portrait face to the wall, and by subsequently
(as it is reported) losing it. He was sent in 1895, a little belatedly, to
fourteen years' penal servitude, and the victims of his "Liberator" frauds
went into the workhouse for the most part, or died. He ceased to be V 460
on release on licence, and became again Jabez Spencer Balfour, and so
died, obscurely.

The Liberal Party in the Government had, over Jabez Balfour, one of its
several narrow escapes from complete moral ruin; for Balfour was on
extremely friendly terms with the members of Gladstone's ministry,
1892-94, and was within an ace of being given a Cabinet post. Let us pause
to consider the odd affinity between Jabez Balfour and Trebitsch Lincoln
and Liberal politics.

The Town Hall--ahem! Municipal Buildings--stands on the site of the
disused and abolished Central Croydon station, and the neighbourhood of it
is glimpsed afar off by the fine tower, 170 ft. in height. All the
departments of the Corporation are housed under one roof, including the
fine Public Library and its beautiful feature, the Braithwaite Hall. The
Town Council is housed in that municipal splendour without which no civic
body can nowadays deliberate in comfort, and even the vestibule is worthy
of a palace. I take the following "official" description of it.

[Illustration: CROYDON TOWN HALL.]

"On either side of the vestibule are rooms for Porter and telephone.
Beyond are the hall and principal staircase, the shafts of the columns
and the pilasters of which are of a Spanish marble, a sort of jasper,
called Rose d'Andalusia; the bases and skirtings are of grand antique. The
capitals, architrave, cornices, handrails, etc., are of red Verona
marble; the balusters, wall-lining and frieze of the entablature of
alabaster, and the dado of the ground floor is gris-rouge marble. The
flooring is of Roman mosaic of various marbles, purposely kept simple in
design and quiet in colouring. One of the windows has the arms of H.R.H.
the Prince of Wales, and the other the Borough arms, in stained glass.
Above the dado at the first floor level the walls are painted a delicate
green tint, relieved by a powdering of C's and Civic Crowns. The doors and
their surroundings are of walnut wood."

[Sidenote: THE RATEPAYER'S HOME]

Very beautiful indeed. Now let us see the home of one of Croydon's poorer
ratepayers:

On one side of the hall are two rooms, called respectively the parlour and
the kitchen. Beyond is the scullery. The walls of the staircase are
covered with a sort of plaster called stucco, but closely resembling
road-scrapings: the skirtings are of pitch-pine, the balusters of the same
material. The floorings are of deal. The roof lets in the rain. One of the
windows is broken and stuffed with rags, the others are cracked. The walls
are stained a delicate green tint relieved by a film of blue mould, owing
to lack of a damp-course. None of the windows close properly, the flues
smoke into the rooms instead of out of the chimney-pots, the doors jam,
and the surroundings are wretched beyond description.

Electric tramways now conduct along the Brighton Road to the uttermost end
of the great modern borough of Croydon, at Purley Corner. Here the
explorer begins to perceive, despite the densely packed houses, that he is
in that "Croydene," or crooked vale, of Saxon times from which, we are
told, Croydon takes its name; and he can see also that nature, and not
man, ordained in the first instance the position and direction of what is
now the road to Brighton, in the bottom, alongside where the Bourne once
flowed, inside the fence of Haling Park. It is, in fact, the site of a
prehistoric track which led the most easy ways across the bleak downs,
severally through Smitham Bottom and Caterham.

Beside that stream ran from 1805 until about 1840 the rails of that
long-forgotten pioneer of railways in these parts, the "Surrey Iron
Railway." This was a primitive line constructed for the purpose of
affording cheap and quick transport for coals, bricks, and other heavy
goods, originally between Wandsworth and Croydon, but extended in 1805 to
Merstham, where quarries of limestone and beds of Fuller's earth are
situated.

This railway was the outcome of a project first mooted in 1799, for a
canal from Wandsworth to Croydon. It was abandoned because of the injury
that might have been caused to the wharves and factories already existing
numerously along the course of the Wandle, and a railway substituted. The
Act of Parliament was obtained in 1800, and the line constructed to
Croydon in the following year, at a cost of about £27,000. It was not a
railway in the modern sense, and the haulage was by horses, who dragged
the clumsy waggons along at the rate of about four miles an hour. The
rails, fixed upon stone blocks, were quite different from those of modern
railways or tramways, being just lengths of angle-iron into which the
wheels of the waggons fitted: |_ _|. Thus, in contradistinction from all
other railway or tramway practice, the flanges were not on the wheels, but
on the rails themselves. The very frugal object of this was to enable the
waggons to travel on ordinary roads, if necessity arose.

From the point where the Wandle flows into the Thames, at Wandsworth,
along the levels past Earlsfield and Garratt, the railway went in double
track; continuing by Merton Abbey, Mitcham (where the present lane called
"Tramway Path" marks its course) and across Mitcham Common into Croydon by
way of what is now called Church Street, but was then known as "Iron
Road." Thence along Southbridge Lane and the course of the Bourne, it was
continued to Purley, whence it climbed Smitham Bottom and ran along the
left-hand side of the Brighton Road in a cutting now partly obliterated by
the deeper cutting of the South Eastern line. The ideas of those old
projectors were magnificent, for they cherished a scheme of extending to
Portsmouth; but the enterprise was never a financial success, and that
dream was not realised. Nearly all traces of the old railway are
obliterated.

The marvel-mongers who derive the name of Waddon from "Woden" find that
Haling comes from the Anglo-Saxon "halig," or holy; and therefrom have
built up an imaginary picture of ancient heathen rites celebrated here.
The best we can say for those theories is that they _may_ be correct or
they may not. Of evidence there is, of course, none whatever; and
certainly it is to be feared that the inhabitants of Croydon care not one
rap about it; nor even know--or knowing, are not impressed--that here, in
1624, died that great Lord High Admiral of England, Howard of Effingham.
It is much more real to them that the tramcars are twopence all the way.

At the beginning of Haling Park, immediately beyond the "Swan and
Sugarloaf," the Croydon toll-gate barred the road until 1865. Beyond it,
all was open country. It is a very different tale to-day, now the stark
chalk downs of Haling and Smitham are being covered with houses, and the
once-familiar great white scar of Haling Chalk Pit is being screened
behind newly raised roofs and chimney-pots.

The beginning of Purley is marked by a number of prominent public-houses,
testifying to the magnificent thirst of the new suburb. You come past the
"Swan and Sugarloaf" to the "Windsor Castle," the "Purley Arms," the "Red
Deer," and the "Royal Oak"; and just beyond, round the corner, is the "Red
Lion." At the "Royal Oak" a very disreputable and stony road goes off to
the left. It looks like, and is, a derelict highway: once the main road to
Godstone and East Grinstead, but now ending obscurely in a miserable
modern settlement near the newly built station of Purley Oaks, so called
by the Brighton Railway Company to distinguish it from the older Purley
station--ex "Caterham Junction"--of the South Eastern line.

It was here, at Purley House, or Purley Bury as it is properly styled,
close by the few poor scrubby and battered remains of the once noble
woodland of Purley Oaks, that John Horne Tooke, contentious partisan and
stolid begetter of seditious tracts, lived--when, indeed, he was not
detained within the four walls of some prison for political offences.

[Sidenote: HORNE TOOKE]

Tooke, whose real name was Horne, was born in 1736, the son of a
poulterer. At twenty-four years of age he became a clergyman, and was
appointed to the living of New Brentford, which he held until 1773, when,
clearly seeing how grievously he had missed his vocation, he studied for
the Bar. Thereafter his life was one long series of battles, hotly
contested in Parliament, in newspapers, books and pamphlets, and on
platforms. He was in general a wrong-headed, as well as a hot-headed,
politician; but he was sane enough to oppose the American War when King
and Government were so mad as to provoke and continue it. Describing the
Americans killed and wounded by the troops at Lexington and Concord as
"murdered," he was the victim of a Government prosecution for libel, and
was imprisoned for twelve months and fined £200. He took--no! that will
not do--he "assumed" the name of Tooke in 1782, in compliment to his
friend William Tooke, who then resided here in this delightful old country
house of Purley. The idea seems to have been for them to live together in
amity, and that William Tooke, the elder of the two, should leave his
property to his friend. But quarrels arose long before that, and Horne at
his friend's death received only £500, while other disputed points arose,
leading to bitter law-suits.

In 1801 he was Member of Parliament for Old Sarum; but how he reconciled
the representation of that rottenest of rotten boroughs with his
profession of reforming Whig does not appear.

He was a many-sided man, of fierce energies and strong prejudices, but a
scholar. While his political pamphlets are forgotten, his "[Greek: EPEA
PTEROENTA]; or, the Diversions of Purley," which is not really a book of
sports, is still remembered for its philological learning. It is a
disquisition on the affinities of prepositions, the relationships of
conjunctions, and the intimacies of other parts of speech. His other
diversions appear to have been less reputable, for he was the father of
one illegitimate son and two daughters.

His intention was to have been buried in the grounds of Purley House, but
when he died, in 1812, at Wimbledon, his mortal coil was laid to rest at
Ealing; and so it chanced that the vault he had constructed in his garden
remained, after all, untenanted, with the unfinished epitaph:

  JOHN HORNE TOOKE,
  Late Proprietor and now Occupier
  of this spot,
  was born in June 1736,
  Died in
  Aged    years,
  Contented and Grateful.

Purley House is still standing, though considerably altered, and presents
few features reminiscent of the eighteenth-century politician, and fewer
still of the Puritan Bradshaw, the regicide, who once resided here. It
stands in the midst of tall elms, and looks as far removed from political
dissensions as may well be imagined, its trim lawn and trellised walls
overgrown in summer by a tangle of greenery.

But suburban expansion has at last reached Tooke's rural retreat from
political strife, and the estate is now "developed," with roads driven
through and streets of villas planned, leaving only the old house and some
few acres of gardens around it.



XIV


Returning to the main road, we come, just before reaching Godstone Corner,
to the site of the now-forgotten Foxley Hatch, a turnpike-gate, which
stood at this point until 1865. Paying toll here "cleared," or made the
traveller free of, the gates and bars to Merstham, on the main road, and
as far as Wray Common, on the Reigate route, as the following copy of a
contemporary turnpike-ticket, shows:

  .............................
  .     Foxley Hatch Gate     .
  .              R            .
  .clears Wray common, Gatton,.
  .  Merstham and Hooley lane .
  .        gates and bars     .
  .............................

"To Riddlesdown, the prettiest spot in Surrey," says a sign-post on the
left hand. It is not true that it is the prettiest place, but, of course
(as the proverb truly says), "every eye forms its own beauty," and
Riddlesdown is a Beanfeasters' Paradise, where tea-gardens, swings, and I
know not what temerarious delights await the tripper who accepts the
invitation, boldly displayed, "Up the Steps for Home Comforts."

[Sidenote: MILESTONES]

Here an aged milestone, in addition, proclaims it to be "XIII Miles from
the Standard in Cornhill, London, 1743," and "XII Miles From Westminster
Bridge." This is, doubtless, one of the stones referred to in the _London
Evening Post_ of September 10th, 1743, which says: "On Wednesday they
began to measure the Croydon Road from the Standard in Cornhill and stake
the places for erecting milestones, the inhabitants of Croydon having
subscribed for 13, which 'tis thought will be carried on by the Gentlemen
of Sussex."

I know nothing of what those Sussex gentlemen did, but that the milestones
_were_ carried on is evident enough to all who care to explore the old
Brighton Road through Godstone, up Tilburstow Hill, and so on to East
Grinstead, Uckfield, and Lewes, where this fine bold series, dated 1744,
is continued. What, however, has become of the series so liberally
provided in 1743 by the "inhabitants of Croydon"? What indeed? Only this
one, the thirteenth, remains; the other twelve, marking the distance from
the "Standard" in Cornhill, in addition to Westminster Bridge, have been
spirited away, and their places have been taken by others, themselves old,
but chiefly marking the mileage from Whitehall and the Royal Exchange.

We all know that the Brighton Road is nowadays measured from the south
side of Westminster Bridge, but it is not generally known--nor possibly
known to one person in every ten thousand of those who consider they have
worn the Brighton Road threadbare--that it was measured from "Westminster
Bridge" before ever there was a bridge. No bridge existed across the
Thames anywhere between London Bridge and Putney until November 10th,
1750, when Westminster Bridge, after being for many years under
construction, was opened, superseding the ancient ferry which from time
immemorial had plied between Horseferry Stairs, Westminster, and Stangate
on the Surrey side, the site of the present Lambeth Bridge. The way to
Brighton (and to all southern roads) lay across London Bridge.

The old stones dated 1743 and 1744, and giving the mileage from the
bridge, were thus displaying that "intelligent anticipation of events"
which is, perhaps, even more laudable in statesmen than in
milestones--and as rarely found.

To this day no man knoweth the distance between London and Brighton.
Convention fixes the distance as 51-1/2 miles from the south side of
Westminster Bridge to the Aquarium, by the classic route; but where is he
who has chained it in proper surveyorly manner? The milestones themselves
are a curious miscellany, and form an interesting study. They might
profitably have been made a subject for the learned deliberations of the
Pickwick Club, but the opportunity was unfortunately missed, and the world
is doubtless the loser of much curious lore.

Where is he who can, offhand, describe the first milestone on the Brighton
Road, and tell where it stands? It ought to be no difficult matter, for
miles are not--or should not be--elastic.

It stands, in fact, on the kerb at the right-hand side of Kennington Road,
between Nos. 230 and 232, just short of Lower Kennington Lane, and is a
poor old battered relic, set anglewise and with the top broken away,
bearing the legend, in what was once bold lettering:

  . . . . . . . MILE
  HORSEGUARDS
  WHITEHALL

That is the first milestone on the Brighton Road. Sterne, were he here
to-day, would shed salt tears of sentiment upon it, we may be sure. It
says nothing whatever about Brighton, and is probably the one and only
stone that takes the Horseguards as a datum.

About forty yards beyond this initial landmark is another "first"
milestone: a tall, upstanding affair, certainly a century old, with three
blank sides, and a fourth inscribed:

  I
  MILE
  FROM
  WESTMINSTER
  BRIDGE

This is followed by a long series of stones of one pattern, probably
dating from 1800, marking every _half_ mile. The series starts with the
stone on the kerb close by the tramway office at the triangle, where the
Brixton Road begins. It records on two sides "Royal Exchange 2-1/2 miles,"
and on a third "Whitehall 2 miles," and is followed, opposite No. 158,
Brixton Road, by a stone carrying on the tale by another half a mile.
These silent witnesses may be traced nearly into Croydon, with sundry gaps
where they have been removed. Those recording the 4th, 6th, 8-1/2th,
9-1/2th, and 10th miles from Whitehall are missing, the last of the series
now extant being that at the corner of Broad Green Avenue, making
"Whitehall 9 miles, Royal Exchange 9-1/2 miles." The 10th from Whitehall,
ending the series, stood at the corner of the Whitgift Hospital.

These were succeeded by one of the old eighteenth-century series, marking
eleven miles from Westminster Bridge and twelve from the "Standard," but
neither new nor old stone is there now, and the only one of the thirteen
mentioned by the _London Evening Post_ of 1743 is this near Purley Corner.

This, marking the 13th mile from the "Standard" and the 12th from
Westminster Bridge is common to both routes, but is followed by the first
of a new series some way along Smitham Bottom, on which Brighton is for
the first time mentioned:

  XIII
  MILES
  FROM
  WESTMINSTER
  BRIDGE
   --
  38-1/2
  MILES
  TO
  BRIGHTON

The character of the lettering and the general style of this series would
lead to the supposition that they are dated about 1820. There are three
stones in all of this kind, the third marking 15 miles from Westminster
Bridge and 36-1/2 to Brighton, followed by a series of triangular
cast-iron marks, continued through Redhill, of which the first bears the
legend, "Parish of Merstham." On the north side is "16 from Westminster
Bridge, 35 to Brighton," and on the south "35 from Brighton, 16 to
Westminster Bridge." It will be observed that in this first one of a new
series half a mile is dropped, and henceforward the mileage to Brighton
becomes by authority 51 miles. Like the confectioner who "didn't make
ha'porths," the turnpike trust which erected these mile-"stones" refused
to deal in half miles.



XV


The tramway terminus at Purley Corner is now a busy place. Those are only
the "old crocks" who can remember the South Eastern railway-station of
Caterham Junction and the surrounding lonely downs; and to them the change
to "Purley" and the appearance in the wilderness of a mushroom town, with
its parade of brilliantly lighted shops, its Queen Victoria memorial, its
public garden and penny-squirt fountain, and--not least--its hideous
waterworks, are things for wonderment. "How strange it seems, and new," as
Browning--not writing of Purley--remarks. Even the ghastly loneliness of
the long straight road ascending the pass of Smitham Bottom is no more,
for little villas, with dank little dungeons of gardens, line the way, and
tradesmen's carts calling for orders compete with the motorists who shall
kill and maim most travellers along the highway.

The numerous railway-bridges, embankments, cuttings, and retaining-walls
that disfigure the crest of Smitham Bottom are chiefly the results of
latter-day activities. The first bridge is that of the Chipstead Valley
Railway--now merged in the South Eastern and Chatham--from South Croydon
to Chipstead and Epsom, 1897-1900, with its wayside station of "Smitham."
This is immediately followed by the London, Brighton, and South Coast's
station of Stoat's Nest, a transformed and transported version of the old
station of the same name some distance off, and beyond it are the bridges
and embankments of the same company's works of 1896-8; themselves almost
inextricably confused, to the non-technical mind, with the adjoining South
Eastern roadside station of Coulsdon.

The chapters of railway history which produced all this unlovely medley of
engineering works are in themselves extremely interesting, and have an
additional interest to those who trace the story of the Brighton Road, for
they are concerned with the solution of the old problem which faced the
coach proprietors--how best and quickest to reach Brighton.

[Sidenote: RAILWAY POLITICS]

Few outside those intimately concerned with railway politics know that
although the Brighton line was opened throughout in 1842, it was not until
1898 that the company owned an uninterrupted route between London and
Brighton. The explanation of that singular condition of affairs is found
in the curious reluctance of Parliament, two generations ago, to give any
one railway company the sole control of any particular route. Few in those
times thought the increase of population, and still more the increase of
travelling, would be so great that competitive railways would be
established to many places; and thus to sanction the making of a railway
to be owned by one company throughout seemed like the granting of a
perpetual monopoly.

Following this reasoning, a break was made in the continuity of the
Brighton Railway between Stoat's Nest and Redhill, a distance of five
miles, and that stretch of territory given to the South Eastern Railway,
with running powers only over it granted to the Brighton Company.
Similarly, between Croydon and Stoat's Nest, the South Eastern had only
running powers over that interval owned by the Brighton.

In 1892 and 1894, however, the Brighton Company approached Parliament and,
proving the growing confusion, congestion, and loss of time at Redhill
Junction, owing to this odd condition of things, obtained powers to
complete that missing link by the construction of an entirely new railway
between Stoat's Nest and a point just within a quarter of a mile of
Earlswood Station, beyond Redhill, and also to double the existing line
between East and South Croydon and Purley. The works were completed and
opened for traffic in 1898, when for the first time the Brighton Railway
had a complete and uninterrupted route of its own to the sea.

The hamlet of Smitham Bottom, which paradoxically stands at the top of the
pass of that name, in this ancient way across the North Downs, can never
have been beautiful. It was lonely when Jackson and Fewterel fought their
prize-fight here, before that distinguished patron of sport the Prince of
Wales and a more or less distinguished company, on June 9th, 1788; when
the only edifice of "Smith-in-the-Bottom," as the sporting accounts of
that time style it, appears to have been the ominous one of a gibbet. The
Jackson who that day fought, and won, his first battle in the prize-ring
was none other than that Bayard of the noble art, "Gentleman Jackson,"
afterwards the friend of Byron and of the Prince Regent himself, and
subsequently landlord of the "Cock" at Sutton. On this occasion Major
Hanger rewarded the victor with a bank-note from the enthusiastic Prince.

[Sidenote: SMITHAM]

Until 1898 Smitham Bottom remained a fortuitous concourse of some twenty
mean houses on a windswept natural platform, ghastly with the chalky
"spoil-banks" thrown up when the South Eastern Railway engineers excavated
the great cuttings in 1840; but when the three railway-stations within one
mile were established that serve Smitham Bottom--the stations of Coulsdon,
Stoat's Nest, and Smitham--the place, very naturally, began to grow with
the magic quickness generally associated with Jonah's Gourd and Jack's
Beanstalk, and now Smitham Bottom is a town. Most of the spoil-banks are
gone, and those that remain are planted with quick-growing poplars; so
that, if they can survive the hungry soil, there will presently be a leafy
screen to the ugly railway sidings. Showy shops, all plate-glass and
nightly glare of illumination, have arisen; the old "Red Lion" inn has got
a new and very saucy front; and, altogether, "Smitham" has arrived. The
second half of the name is now in process of being forgotten, and the only
wonder is that the first part has not been changed into "Smytheham" at the
very least, or that an entirely new name, something in the way of "ville"
or "park," suited to its prospects, has not been coined. For Smitham, one
can clearly see, has a Future, with a capital F, and the historian
confidently expects to see the incorporation of Smitham, with Mayor, Town
Council, and Town Hall, all complete.

It is here, at Marrowfat, now "Marlpit," Lane, that the new link of the
Brighton line branches off from Stoat's Nest.[8] One of the first trials
of the engineers was the removal of three-quarters of a million cubic
yards of the "spoil," dumped down by the roadside over half a century
earlier; and then followed the spanning of the Brighton Road by a
girder-bridge. The line then entered the grounds of the Cane Hill Lunatic
Asylum, through which it runs in a covered way, the London County Council,
under whose control that institution is carried on, obtaining a clause in
the Company's Act, requiring the railway to be covered in at this point,
in case the lunatics might find means of throwing themselves in front of
passing trains.

Leaving the asylum grounds, the railway re-crosses the road by a hideous
skew girder bridge of 180 feet span, supported by giant piers and
retaining-walls, and then crosses the deep cutting of the South Eastern,
to enter a cutting of its own leading into a tunnel a mile and a quarter
in length--the new Merstham tunnel--running parallel with the old tunnel
of the same name through which the South Eastern Railway passes. At the
southern end of this gloomy tunnel is the pretty village of Merstham,
where the hillside sinks down to the level lands between that point and
Redhill.

At Merstham one of the odd problems of the new line was reached, for there
it had to be constructed over a network of ancient tunnels made centuries
ago in the hillside--quarry-tunnels whence came much of the limestone that
went towards the building of Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster Abbey. The
old workings are still accessible to the explorer who dares the
accumulation of gas in them given off by the limestone rock.

The geology of these five miles of new railway is peculiarly varied,
limestone and chalk giving place suddenly to the gault of the levels, and
followed again by a hillside bed of Fuller's earth, succeeded in turn by
red sand. The Fuller's earth, resting upon a slippery substratum of gault,
only required a little rain and a little disturbance to slide down and
overwhelm the railway works, and retaining-walls of the heaviest and most
substantial kind were necessary in the cuttings where it occurred.
Tunnelling for a quarter of a mile through the sand that gives Redhill its
name, the railway crosses obliquely under the South Eastern, and then
joins the old Brighton line territory just before reaching Earlswood
station.

[Illustration: CHIPSTEAD CHURCH.]

All these engineering manifestations give the old grim neighbourhood of
Smitham Bottom a new grimness. The trains of the Brighton line boom,
rattle, and clank overhead into the covered way, whose ventilators spout
steam like some infernal laundry, and from the 80-foot deep cuttings close
beside the road, steamy billows arise very weirdly. Presiding over all are
the beautiful grounds and vast ranges of buildings of the Cane Hill
Lunatic Asylum, housing an ever-increasing population of lunatics, now
numbering some three thousand. Sometimes the quieter members of that
unfortunate community are seen, being given a walk along the road, outside
their bounds, and the sight and the thoughts they engender are not
cheering.

Along the road, where the walls of the cutting descend perpendicularly, is
the severely common-place hamlet of Hooley, formerly Howleigh, consisting
of the "Star" inn and some twenty square brick cottages. Just beyond it,
where a modern Cyclists' Rest and tea-rooms building stands to the left of
the road, the first traces of the old Surrey Iron Railway, which crossed
the highway here, are found, in the shallower cutting, still noticeable,
although disused seventy years ago. Alders, hazels, and blackberry
brambles grow on the side of it, and its bridges are ivy-grown: primroses
and violets, too, grow there wondrously profuse.

[Sidenote: CHIPSTEAD]

And here we will, by way of interlude, turn aside, up a lane to the right
hand, toward the village of Chipstead, in whose churchyard lies Sir Edward
Banks, who began life in the humblest manner, working as a navvy upon this
same forgotten railway, afterwards rising, as partner in the firm of
Jolliffe & Banks, to be an employer of labour and contractor to the
Government: in short, another Tom Brassey. All these things are recorded
of him upon a memorial tablet in the church of Chipstead--a tablet which
lets nothing of his worth escape you, so prolix is it.[9]

It was while delving amid the chalk of this tramway cutting that Edward
Banks first became acquainted with this village, and so charmed with it
was he that he expressed a desire, when his time should come, to be laid
at rest in its quiet graveyard. When he died, after a singularly
successful career, his wish was carried out, and here, in this quiet spot
overlooking the highway, you may see his handsome tomb, begirt with iron
railings, and overshadowed with ancient trees.

The little church of Chipstead is of Norman origin, and still shows some
interesting features of that period, with some unusual Early English
additions that have presented architectural puzzles even to the minds of
experts. Many years ago the late Mr. G. E. Street, the architect of the
present Royal Courts of Justice in London, read a paper upon this
building, advancing the theory that the curious pedimental windows of the
chancel and the transept door were not the Saxon work they appeared to be,
but were the creation of an architect of the Early English period who had
a fancy for reviving Saxon features, and who was the builder and designer
of a series of Surrey churches, among which is included that of Merstham.

Within the belfry here is a ring of fine bells, some of them of a
respectable age, and three bearing the inscription, with variations:

  "OUR HOPE IS IN THE LORD, 1595."
             R  E

From here a bye-lane leads steeply once more into the high road, which
winds along the valley, sloping always towards the Weald. Down the long
descent into Merstham village tall and close battalions of fir-trees lend
a sombre colouring to the foreground, while "southward o'er Surrey's
pleasant hills" the evening sunlight streams in parting radiance. On the
left hand as we descend are the eerie-looking blow-holes of the Merstham
tunnel, which here succeeds the cutting. Great heaps of chalk, by this
time partly overgrown with grass, also mark its course, and in the
distance, crowned as many of them are with telegraph poles, they look by
twilight curiously and awfully like so many Calvarys.

Beside the descent into Merstham was situated the terminus of the old Iron
Railway, in the great excavated hollow of the Greystone lime-works, where
the lime-burners still quarry the limestone and the smoke of their burning
ascends day and night. The old "Hylton Arms," down below, that served the
turn of the lime-burners when they wanted to slake their thirst, has been
ornately rebuilt in the modern-Elizabethan Public House Style, alongside
the road, to catch the custom of the world at large, and is named the
"Jolliffe Arms." Both signs reflect the ownership of Merstham, for
Jolliffe has long been the family name of the holders of the modern Barony
of Hylton. Formerly "Jolly," it was presumably too bacchanalian and not
sufficiently aristocratic, and so it was changed, just as your "Smythe"
was once Smith, and "Johnes" Jones.



XVI


[Sidenote: MERSTHAM]

Merstham is as pretty a village as Surrey affords, and typically English.
Railways have not abated, nor these turbid times altered in any great
measure, its fine air of aristocratic and old-time rusticity. At one end
of its one clearly-defined street, set at an angle to the high-road, are
the great ornamental gates of Merstham Park, setting their stamp of landed
aristocracy upon the place. To their right is a tiny gate leading to the
public right-of-way through the park, which presently crosses over the
pond where rise fitfully the springs of Merstham Brook, a congener of the
Kentish "Nailbournes," and one of the many sources of the River Mole. To
the marshy ground by this brook, and to its stone-quarries, the place
owes its name. It was in Domesday Book "Merstán" = Mere-stan, the stone
(house) by the lake.

[Illustration: MERSTHAM.]

Beyond the brook, above the tall trees, is seen the shingled spire of the
church, an Early English building dedicated to St. Catherine, not yet
spoiled, despite restorations and the scraping which its original lancet
windows have undergone, in misguided efforts to endue them with an air of
modernity.

The church is built of that limestone or "firestone" found so freely in
the neighbourhood--a famed speciality which entered largely into the
building and ornamentation of Henry the Seventh's Chapel at Westminster.
Those wondrously intricate and involved carvings and traceries, whose
decadent Gothic delicacy is the despair of present-day architects and
stone-carvers, were possible only in this stone, which, when quarried, is
of exceeding softness, but afterwards, on exposure to the air, assumes a
hardness equalling that of any ordinary building-stone, and has, in
addition, the merit of resisting fire, whence its name. From the softer
layers comes that article of domestic use, the "hearthstone," used to
whiten London hearths and doorsteps.

Merstham Church is even yet of considerable interest. It contains brasses
to the Newdegate. Best, and Elmebrygge families, one recording in black
letter:

  "Hic iacet Johesi Elmebrygge, armiger, qui obiit biij die
  ffebruarij; Aº Dni Mºccccºlxxij, et Isabella uxor eius
  quae fuit filia Nichi Jamys quonda Maioris et
  Alderman London: quae obiit bijº die Septembris
  Aº Dni Mºccccºlxxijº et Annae uxor ei: quae
  fuit filia Johes Prophete Gentilman quae obiit ...
  Aº Dni Mºcccº ... quoru animabus
  ppicietur Deus."

The date of the second wife's death has never been inserted, showing that
the brass was engraved and set during her lifetime, as in so many other
examples of monumental brasses throughout the country. The figure of John
Elmebrygge is wanting, it having been at some time torn from its matrix,
but above his figure's indent remains a label inscribed _Sancta Trinitas_,
and from the mouths of the remaining figures issue labels inscribed _Unus
Deus--Miserere nobis_. Beneath is a group of seven daughters; the group of
four sons is long since lost.

A transitional Norman font of grey Sussex marble remains at the western
end of the church, and on an altar-tomb in the southern chapel are the
poor remains of an ancient stone figure of the fifteenth century,
presumably the effigy of a merchant civilian, as he is represented wearing
the _gypcière_. It is hacked out of almost all significance at the hands
of some iconoclasts; their chisel-marks are even now distinct and bear
witness against the Puritan rage that defaced and buried it face
downwards, the reverse side of the stone forming part of the chapel
pavement until 1861, when it was discovered during the restoration of the
church.

Before that restoration this was an interior of Georgian high pews. Among
them the "squire's parlour" was pre-eminent, with its fireplace, its
well-carpeted floor, its chairs and tables: a snuggery wherein that good
man snored unobserved, or partook critically of his snuff during the
parson's discreet discourse. But now the parlour is gone, and the squire
must slumber, if he can, with the other sinners.

[Sidenote: GATTON]

In Merstham village, just beyond the "Feathers" inn, stood Merstham
toll-gate, followed by that of Gatton, at Gatton Point, a mile distant,
where the old route through Reigate goes off to the right, and the
new--the seven miles between Gatton Point and Povey Cross, through
Redhill--continues, straight as an arrow, ahead. The way is bordered on
the right hand by Gatton Park, a spot the country folk rightly describe as
an "old arnshunt place." The history of Gatton, in truth, goes back to
immemorial times, and has no beginning: for where history thins out and
becomes a mere scatter of disjointed scraps purporting to be facts,
tradition carries back the tale into a very fog of legend and conjecture.
It was "Gatone" when the Domesday survey was made: the Saxon "Geat-ton,"
the town in the "gate," passage, or road through the North Downs, just as
Reigate is the Saxon "Rige-geat," the road over the ridge. The "ton" or
town in the place-name does not necessarily mean what we moderns would
understand by the word, and here doubtless indicated an enclosed, hedged,
or walled-in tract of land redeemed and cultivated out of the then
encompassing wilderness of the Downs.

Who first broke the land of Gatton to the plough? History and tradition
are silent. No voice speaks out of the grave of the centuries. But both
Reigate and Gatton are older than Anglo-Saxon times, for a Roman way,
itself following the course of an even earlier savage trail, came up out
of the stodgy clay of Holmesdale, over the chalky hills, to Streatham and
London. It was a branch of the road leading from _Portus Adurni_--the
present Old Shoreham, on the river Adur--and doubtless, in the long
centuries of Romano-British civilisation, it was bordered here and there
by settlements and villas. Prominent among them was Gatton. There can
scarcely be a doubt of it, for, although Roman relics are not found here
now, Camden, writing in the time of Henry the Eighth, tells of "Roman
Coynes digged forth of the Ground." It was ever a desirable site, for here
unfailing springs well out of the chalk and give an abounding fertility,
while another road--the ancient Pilgrims' Way--running west and east,
crossed the other highway, and thus gave ready communication on every
side.

Gatton has, within the historic period, never been more than a manorial
park, but an unexplained something, like the echo of a vanished greatness,
has caused strangely unmerited honours to be granted it. Who shall say
what induced Henry the Sixth in 1451 to make this mere country park a
Parliamentary borough, returning two members? There must have been some
adequate reason or excuse, even if only the one of its ancient renown;
for there _must_ always be an apology of sorts for corruption; no job is
jobbed without at least some shadowy semblance of legality. But no one
will ever pluck out the heart of its mystery.

[Sidenote: THE ROTTEN BOROUGH]

A Parliamentary borough Gatton remained until 1832, when the first Reform
Act swept away the representation of it, together with that of many
another "rotten borough." Rightly had Cobbett termed it "a very rascally
spot of earth," for certainly from 1541, when Sir Roger Copley owned the
property and was the sole elector of the place, the election was a
scandalous farce, and never at any time did the "burgesses" exceed twenty.
They were always tenants of the lord of the manor and the mere marionettes
that danced to his will.

Gatton, returning its two members to Parliament, as of old, was early in
the nineteenth century purchased by Mark Wood, Esq., who was soon after
created a Baronet. It was then recorded that in this borough there were
six houses and only one freeholder: Sir Mark Wood himself. The other five
houses he let by the week; and thus, paying the taxes, he was the only
elector of the two representatives. At the election, he and his son Mark
were the candidates, and the father duly elected himself and his son!
Scandalous, no doubt; but those members must have represented the
constituency better than could those of a larger electorate.

The landowner who possessed such a pocket-borough as this, and could send
whomsoever he liked to Parliament, to vote as he wished, was, of course, a
very important personage. His opposition was a serious matter to
Governments; his support of the highest value, both politically and in a
pecuniary sense; and thus place, honours, riches, could be, and were,
secured. The manor of Gatton actually, in the cynical recognition of these
things, was valued at twice its worth without that Parliamentary
representation, and Lord Monson, who purchased the property in 1830, gave
as much as £100,000 for it, solely as an investment in jobbery and
corruption, by which he hoped, in the course of shrewd political
wire-pulling, to obtain a cent per cent return.

[Illustration: GATTON HALL AND "TOWN HALL."]

He was a humorist of a cynical turn who built in front of the great
mansion in midst of the park a "Town Hall" for the non-existent town, and
inscribed on the urn which stands by this freakish, temple-like structure
the motto, satirical in this setting, "_Salus populi suprema lex esto_,"
together with other sardonic Latin, to the effect that no votes sullied by
bribery should be given.

Less than two years after Lord Monson's purchase of the estate, Reform had
destroyed the value of Gatton Park, for it was disfranchised. We can only
wonder that he did not claim compensation for the abolition of his "vested
interests."

[Sidenote: MUSTARD]

There is a remarkable appropriateness in Gatton Hall being designed in the
classic style, for its marble hall and Corinthian hexastyle colonnade no
doubt revive the glories of the Roman villa of sixteen hundred years ago.
It is magnificence itself, being indeed designed something after the
manner of the Vatican at Rome, and decorated with rare and costly marbles
and frescoes; but perhaps, to any one less than an emperor or a pope, a
little unhomely and uncomfortable to live in. Since 1888 it has been the
seat of Sir Jeremiah Colman, of Colman's Mustard, created a Baronet, 1907:

  Mother, get it if you're able,
  See the trade mark on the label,
  Colman's Mustard is the Best----[Advt.],

as some unlaurelled bard of the grocery trade once sang, in deathless
verse.



XVII


Half a mile short of what is now Redhill town, there once stood yet
another toll-gate. "Frenches" Gate took its title from the old manor on
which it stood, and the manor itself probably derived its name from the
unenclosed or free (_franche_) land of which it was wholly or largely
composed.

Redhill town has not existed long enough to have accumulated any history.
When the more direct route was made this way, avoiding Reigate, in 1816,
Redhill was--a hill. The hill is still here, as the cyclist well enough
knows, and we will take on trust that red gravel whence its name comes;
but since that time the town of Redhill, now numbering some 16,000
persons, has come into existence, and when we speak of Redhill we
mean--not the height up which the coaches laboured, but a certain
commonplace town lying at the foot of it, with a busy railway junction
where there are always plenty of trains, but never the one you want, and
quite a number of public institutions of the asylum and reformatory type.

The railway junction has, of course, created Redhill town, which is really
in the parish of Reigate. When the land began to be built upon, in the
'40's, it was called "Warwick Town," after the then Countess of Warwick,
the landowner, and the names of a road and a public-house still bear
witness to that somewhat lickspittle method of nomenclature. But there is,
and can be, only one possible Warwick in England, and "Redhill" this
"Warwick Town," by natural selection, became.

There could have been no more certain method of inviting the most odious
of comparisons than that of naming Redhill after the fine old feudal town
of Warwick, which first arose beneath the protecting walls of its ancient
castle. Either town has an origin typical of its era, and both _look_
their history and circumstances. Redhill, within the memory of those still
living, sprang up around a railway platform, and the only object that may
be said to frown in it is the great gas-holder, built on absolutely the
most prominent and desirable site in the whole town; and that not only
frowns, but stinks as well, and is therefore not a desirable substitute
for a castle keep. Here, at any rate, "Mrs. Partington's" remark that
"comparisons is odorous" would be altogether in order.

Prominent above all other buildings in the town, in the backward view from
that godfatherly hill, is the huge St. Anne's Asylum, housing between four
and five hundred children of the poor.

"The Cutting" through the brow of the hill, enclosed on either side by
high brick walls, leads presently upon Redhill and Earlswood Commons,
where movement is unrestrained and free as air, and the vision is bounded
only by Leith Hill in one direction and the blue haze of distance in
another.

It is Holmesdale--the vale of holms, or oak woods--upon which you gaze
from here; that

  Vale of Holmesdall
  Never wonne, ne never shall,

as the braggart old couplet has it, in allusion to the defeat and
slaughter of the invading Danes at Ockley A.D. 851.

In one of its periodic funks, the War Office, terrified for the safety of
London more than for that of Holmesdale, purchased land on this hill-top
for the erection of a fort, and--in a burst of confidence--sold it again.
The time is probably near when the War Office, like another "Sister Anne,"
will "see somebody coming," when this or another site will be re-purchased
at a much enhanced, or scare, price.

[Sidenote: EARLSWOOD]

Earlswood Common is a welcome change after Redhill. It gives sensations of
elbow-room, of freedom and vastness, not so much from its own size as from
the expanse of that view across the Weald of Surrey and Sussex. The road
across Earlswood Common is an almost perfect "switchback," as the cyclist
who is not met with a southerly wind will discover. You can see it from
this view-point, going undulating away until in the dim woody perspective
it seems to end in some tangled and trackless forest, so densely grown do
the trees look from this distance.

It was here, at a wayside inn, that the present historian fell in with a
Sussex peasant of the ancient and vanishing kind.

He was drinking from a tankard of the pea-soup which they call ale in
these parts, sitting the while upon a bench whose like is usually found
outside old country inns. Ruddy of face, with clean-shaven lips and chin,
his grizzled beard kept rigidly upon his wrinkled dewlap, his hands
gnarled and twisted with toil and rheumatism, he sat there in
smock-frock and gaiters, as typical a countryman as ever on London stage
brought the scent of the hay across the footlights. That smock of his, the
"round frock" of Sussex parlance, was worked about the yoke of it, fore
and aft, with many and curious devices, whose patterns, though he, and she
who worked them, knew it not, derived from centuries of tradition and
precept, had been handed down from Saxon times, aye, and before them, to
the present day, when, their significance lost, they excite merely a mild
wonder at their oddity and complication.

[Illustration: THE SWITCHBACK ROAD, EARLSWOOD COMMON.]

He was, it seemed, a "hedger and ditcher," and his leathern gauntlets and
billhook lay beside him on the ale-house bench.

"I've worked at this sort o' thing," said he, in conversation, "for the
last twenty year. Hard work? yes, onaccountable hard, and small pay for't
too. Two and twopence a day I gets, an' works from seven o'marnings to
half-past five in the afternoon for that. You'll be gettin' more than two
and twopence a day when you're at work, I reckon."

To evade that remark by an opinion that a country life was preferable to
existence in a town was easy. The old man agreed with the proposition, for
he had visited London, and "a dirty place it was, sure-ly." Also he had
been atop of the Monument, to the Tower, and to the resort he called
"Madame Two Swords": places that Londoners generally leave to provincials.
Thus, the country cousin within our gates is more learned in the stock
sights of town than townsfolk themselves.

From here the road slopes gently to the Weald past Petridge Wood and
Salfords, where a tributary of the Mole crosses, and where the last
turnpike-gate was abolished, with cheers and a hip-hip-hooray, at the
midnight of October 31st, 1881.

At Horley, the left-hand road, forming an alternative way to Brighton by
Worth, Balcombe, and Wivelsfield, touches the outskirts of Thunderfield
Castle.

[Sidenote: THUNDERFIELD CASTLE]

Thunderfield Castle should--if tremendous names go for aught--be a
stupendous keep of the Torquilstone type, but it is, sad to say, nothing
of the kind, being merely a flat circular grassy space, approached over
the Mole and doubly islanded by two concentric moats. It stands upon the
estate of Harrowslea--"Harsley," as the countryfolk call it--supposed to
have once belonged to King Harold.

There seems to be no doubt whatever that the Anglo-Saxons _did_ name the
place after the god Thunor. It was known by that name in the time of
Alfred the Great, but no one knows what it was like then; nor, for that
matter, what the appearance of it was when the Norman de Clares owned it.
It seems never to have been a castle built of stone, but an adaptation of
the primitive savage idea of surrounding a position with water and
palisading it. Thunderfield was a veritable stronghold of the woods and
bogs, and the defenders of it were like Hereward the Wake, who could
often remain a "passive resister" and see the invaders struggling with the
sloughs, the odds overwhelmingly in favour of the forces of nature.

[Illustration: THUNDERFIELD CASTLE.]

The history of Thunderfield will never be written, but if a guess may be
hazarded, the final catastrophe, which was the prime cause of the
half-burnt timbers and the many human remains discovered here long ago,
was a storming of the place by the forces of the neighbouring de
Warennes, ancient and bitter enemies of the de Clares; probably in the
wars of the twelfth century, between King Stephen and the Empress Maud.

[Illustration: THE "CHEQUERS," HORLEY.]

It is an eminently undesirable situation for a residence, however suitable
it may have been for defence; and the Saxons who occupied it must have
known what rheumatism is. Dark woods now enclose the place, and cluttering
wildfowl form its garrison.

The "Chequers" at Horley is not quite half way to Brighton, but in default
of another it is the halfway house. Its name derives from the old chequy,
or chessboard, arms of the Earls of Warren, chequered in gold and blue.
They were not only great personages in this vale, but enjoyed in mediæval
times the right of licensing ale-houses: hence the many "Chequers"
throughout the country. The newer portions of the house are typically
suburban, but the old-world front, with its quaint portico, the whole
shaded by a group of ancient oaks, remains untouched.

Horley--the "Hurle" of old maps--is very scattered: a piece here, another
there, and the parish church standing isolated at the extreme southern end
of the wide parish. It is situated on an extensive flat, reeking like a
sponge with the waters of the Mole, but, although so entirely undesirable
a place, is under exploitation for building purposes. A stranger first
arriving at Horley late at night, and seeing its long lines of lighted
streets radiating in several directions, would think he had come to a
town; but morning would show him that long perspectives of gas-lamps do
not necessarily mean houses to correspond. Evidently those responsible for
the lamps expect a coming expansion of Horley; but that expectation is not
very likely to be realised.

Much of Horley belongs to Christ's Hospital, which is said to be under
obligation to educate two children of poor widows, in return for the great
tithes long since bequeathed to it, and is additionally accused of having
consistently betrayed that trust.

[Illustration: THE "SIX BELLS," HORLEY.]

The parish church, chiefly of the Early English and Decorated periods of
Gothic architecture, contains some brasses and a poor old stone effigy of
a bygone lord of the manor, broken-nosed and chipped, but not without its
interest. The double-headed eagle on his shield is still prominent, and
the crowded detail of his mailed armour and the lacings of his surcoat are
as distinct as when sculptured six centuries ago. He wears the little
misericorde, or dagger, at his belt, the "merciful" instrument with which
gentle knights finished off their wounded enemies in the chivalric days of
old.

Many years ago some person unknown stole the old churchwardens'
account-book, dating from the sixteenth century. After many wanderings in
the land, it was at length purchased at a second-hand bookseller's and
presented to the British Museum, in which mausoleum of literature, in the
Department of Manuscripts, it is now to be found. It contains a curious
item, showing that even in the rigid times that produced the great Puritan
upheaval, congregations were not unapt for irreverence. Thus in 1632 "John
Ansty is chosen by the consent of y{e} minister and parishioners to see
y{t} y{e} younge men and boyes behave themselves decently in y{e} church
in time of divine service and sermon, and he is to have for his paines
ij{s.}"

The nearest neighbour to the church is the almost equally ancient "Six
Bells" inn, which took its title from the ring of bells in the church
tower. Since 1839, however, when two bells were added, there have been
eight in the belfry.

The stranger, foregathering with the rustics at the "Six Bells," and
missing the old houses that once stood near the church and have been
replaced by new, very quickly has his regrets for them cut short by those
matter-of-fact villagers, who declare that "ye wooden tark so ef ye had to
live in un." A typical rustic had "comic brown-titus" acquired in one of
those damp old cottages, and has "felt funny" ever since. One with
difficulty resisted the suggestion that, if he could be as funny as he
felt, he should set up for a humorist, and oust some of the dull dogs who
pose as jesters.

Opposite Horley church is Gatwick Park, since 1892 converted into a
racecourse, with a railway station of its own. Less than a mile below it,
at Povey Cross, the Sutton and Reigate route to Brighton joins the main
road.



XVIII


The Sutton and Reigate route to Brighton, instead of branching off along
the Brixton Road, pursues a straight undeviating course down the Clapham
Road, through Balham and Upper and Lower Tooting, where it turns sharply
to the left at the Broadway, and in half a mile right again, at Amen
Corner. Thence it goes, by Figg's Marsh and Mitcham, to Sutton.

[Sidenote: MITCHAM COMMON]

It is not before Mitcham is reached that, in these latter days, the
pilgrim is conscious of travelling the road to anywhere at all. It is all
modern "street"--and streets, to this commentator at least, have a strong
resemblance to rows of dog-kennels. They are places where citizens live on
the chain. They lack the charm of obviously leading elsewhere: and even
although electric tramcars speed multitudinously along them, to some near
or distant terminus, they do but arrive there at other streets.

Mitcham is at present beyond these brick and mortar tentacles, and is
grouped not unpicturesquely about a village green and along the road to
the Wandle. Pleasant, ruddy-faced seventeenth and eighteenth-century
mansions look upon that green, notable in the early days of Surrey
cricket; and away at the further end of it is the vast flat of Mitcham
Common, that dreary, long-drawn expanse which is at once the best
illustration of eternity and of a Shakespearian "blasted heath" that can
readily be thought of.

"Mitcham lavender" brings fragrant memories, and indeed the only thing
that serves to render the weary length of Mitcham Common at all endurable
is the scent of it, borne on the breeze from the distillery, midway
across: the distillery that no one would remember to be Jakson's, except
for the eccentricity of spelling the name.

This by the way; for one does not cross Mitcham Common to reach Sutton.
But there is, altogether, a sweet savour pervading Mitcham, a scent of
flowers that will not be spoiled even by the linoleum works, which are apt
to be offensive; for Mitcham is still a place where those sweet-smelling
and other "economic" plants, lavender, mint, chamomile, aniseed,
peppermint, rosemary, and liquorice, are grown for distillation. The place
owes this distinction to no mere chance, but to its peculiar black mould,
found to be exceptionally suited to this culture.

Folk-rhymes are often uncomplimentary, and that which praises Sutton for
its mutton and Cheam for juicy beef, is more severe than one cares to
quote on Epsom; and, altogether ignoring the mingled fragrances of
Mitcham, declares it the place "for a thief." We need not, however, take
the matter seriously: the rhymester was only at his wit's end for a rhyme
to "beef."

Mitcham station, beside the road, is a curious example of what a railway
company can do in its rare moments of economy; for it is an early
nineteenth-century villa converted to railway purposes by the process of
cutting a hole through the centre. It is a sore puzzle to a stranger in a
hurry.

[Sidenote: SUTTON]

From Mitcham one ascends a hill past the woodland estate of Ravensbury,
crossing the abundantly-exploited Wandle; and then, along a still rural
road, to the modern town of Sutton.

On the fringe of that town, at the discreet "residential" suburb of
Benhilton, is a scenic surprise in the way of a deep cutting in the hilly
road. Spanned by a footbridge, graced with trees, and neighboured by the
old "Angel" inn, "Angel Bridge," as it is called, is a pretty spot. The
rise thus cut through was once known as Been Hill, and on that basis
was fantastically reared the name of Benhilton. One cannot but admire the
ingenuity of it.

[Illustration: THE "COCK," SUTTON 1789. _From an aquatint after
Rowlandson._]

"Sutton for mutton": so ran the old-time rhyme. The reason of that ancient
repute is found in the downs in whose lap the place is situated; those
thymy downs that afforded such splendid pasturage for sheep. Sutton Common
is gone, enclosed in 1810, but the downs remain; and yet that rhyme has
lost its reason, and Sutton is no longer celebrated for anything above its
fellow towns. Even the famous "Cock" is gone--that old coaching-inn kept
by the ex-pugilist, "Gentleman Jackson." Long threatened, it was at last
demolished in 1898, and with the old house went the equally famous sign
that straddled across the road. The similar sign of the "Greyhound" still
remains; the last relic of narrower streets and times more spacious.

Leaving Sutton "town," as we call it nowadays, the road proceeds to climb
steadily uphill to the modern suburb of "Belmont," where stands an old,
but very well cared-for, milestone setting forth that it is distant "XIII.
miles from the Standard in Cornhill, London, 1745," from the Royal
Exchange the same distance, and from Whitehall twelve miles and a half.
The neighbourhood is now particularly respectable, but I grieve to say
that the spot is marked on the maps of 1796 as "Little Hell," which seems
to indicate that the character of the people living in the three houses
apparently then standing here would not bear close inspection. With the
"Angel" placed at one end, and this vestibule into Inferno situated at the
other, Sutton seems to have been accorded exceptional privileges.

"Cold Blow," which succeeds to Little Hell, is a tremendous transition,
and well deserves its name, perched as it is on the shivery, bare, and
windy heights that lead to Burgh Heath and Banstead Downs "famous," says
an annotated map of 1716, "for its wholesome Air, once prescribed by
Physicians as the Patients' last refuge." The feudal-looking wrought-iron
gates newly built beside the road here, surmounted by a gorgeous shield of
arms crested with a helmet and enveloped in mantling, form the entrance to
Nork Park, the seat of one of the Colman family, who have mustered very
strongly in Surrey of late years.

At the right-hand turning, in midst of a group of fir-trees, stands the
prehistoric tumulus known to the rustics as "Tumble Beacon." "Tumble" is
probably the rural version of "tumulus."

Beyond this point, on a site now occupied by a cottage, stood the
once-famed "Tangier" inn. Originally a private residence, the seat of
Admiral Buckle,[10] who named it "Tangier," in memory of his cruises on
the north coast of Africa, it became a house of call for coaches, and
especially for post-chaises. Here, we are told, George the Fourth
invariably halted for a glass of Miss Jeal's celebrated "alderbury"--that
is to say elderberry-wine--"roking hot," to keep out the piercing cold,
and Miss Jeal brought it forth with her own fair hands. Other travellers,
who were merely persons, and not personages, had to be content with the
less fair hands of the waiter.

The "Tangier" was burnt down about 1874. For some years after its
destruction a platform that led from the house to the roadside, on a level
with the floors of the coaches and post-chaises, survived; but only the
cellars now remain. The woods at the back are, however, still locally
known as "Tangier Woods."

Burgh Heath, at the summit of these downs, is a curious place called
usually "Borough" Heath: it is in Domesday "Berge." As its name not
obscurely hints, and the half-obliterated barrows show, it is a place of
ancient habitation and sepulture; but nowadays it is chiefly remarkable
for the descendants of the original squatters of about a century ago, who,
braving the cold of these heights, settled on what was then an exceedingly
lonely heath and stole whatever land they pleased. That was the origin of
the hamlet of Burgh Heath. The descendants of those filibusters have in
most cases rebuilt the original hovels, but it is still a somewhat forlorn
place, made sordid by the tumbledown pigsties and sheds on the heath in
which they have acquired a prescriptive freehold.

[Sidenote: RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN]

Passing Lion Bottom, or Wilderness Bottom, we come to Tadworth Corner,
past the grounds of Tadworth Court, late the seat of Lord Russell of
Killowen, better known as Sir Charles Russell. He was created a Baron in
1894, on his becoming Lord Chief Justice: but the title was--at his own
desire--limited to a life-peerage, and consequently at his death in 1900
became extinct. At Tadworth, in the horsey neighbourhood of Epsom, he was
as much at home as in the Law Courts, and neither so judicial nor
restrained, as those who remember his peppery temper and the objurgatory
language of his "Here, you, where the ---- -- are you ---- -- coming to,
you ---- ----, you!" will admit. There seems, in fact, an especial fitness
in his residence on this Regency Road, for his speech was the speech
rather of that, than of the more mealy mouthed Victorian, period.

At Tadworth Court, where the ways divide, and a most picturesque view of
long roads, dark fir trees, and a weird-looking windmill unfolds itself,
formerly stood a toll-gate. A signpost directs on the right to Headley and
Walton, and on the left to Reigate and Redhill, and a battered milestone
which no one can read stands at the foot of it. The church spire on the
left is that of Kingswood.

From London to Reigate, through Sutton, is, according to Cobbett, "about
as villainous a tract as England contains. The soil is a mixture of gravel
and clay, with big yellow stones in it, sure sign of really bad land." The
greater part of this is, of course, now covered by the suburbs of "the
Wen," as Cobbett delighted to style London; and it is both unknown to and
immaterial to most people what manner of soil their houses are built on;
but the truth of Cobbett's observations is seen readily enough here, on
these warrens, which owe their preservation as open spaces to that
mixture, worthless to the farmer, and not worth the stealing in those
times when land could be stolen with impunity.

[Illustration: KINGSWOOD WARREN.]

[Sidenote: REIGATE HILL]

Past the modern village of Kingswood, almost lost in, and certainly
entirely overshadowed by, the wild heaths of Walton and Kingswood Warren
the road comes at last to Reigate Hill, where, immediately past the
suspension bridge that overhangs the cutting, it tilts very suddenly and
alarmingly over the edge of the Downs. The suddenness of it makes the
stranger gasp with astonishment; the beauty of that wonderful view from
this very rim and edge of the hills compels his admiration. It is the
climax up to which he has been toiling all these long, ascending gradients
from Sutton; and it is worth the toil.

The old writers of road-books do more justice to this view than any modern
writer dare. To them it was "a remarkably bold elevation, from whence is a
delightful prospect of the South Downs in Sussex. But near the road, which
is scooped out of the hill, the declivity is so steep and abrupt that the
spectator cannot help being struck with terror, though softened by
admiration. The Sublime and the Beautiful are here perfectly united;
imagination is fully exercised, and the mind delighted."

How would this person have described the Alps?

A milestone just short of this drop--one of a series starting at Sutton
Downs and dealing in fractions of miles--says, very curtly: "London 19,
Sutton 8, Brighton 32-5/8, Reigate 1-3/8."

[Illustration: THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE, REIGATE HILL.]

The suspension bridge, carried overhead, spanning the cutting made through
the crest of the hill, is known to the rustics--who will always invent
simple English words of one syllable, whenever possible, to take the place
of difficult three-syllabled words of Latin extraction--as the "Chain
Pier." It does not, as almost invariably is the case with these bridges,
connect two portions of an estate severed by the cutting, but forms part
of a public path which was cut through. It is very well worth the
traveller's attention, for it joins the severed ends of no less a road
than the ancient Pilgrims' Way, and is a very curious instance of
modernity helping to preserve antiquity. The Way is clearly seen above,
coming from Box Hill as a hollow road, crossing the bridge and going in
the direction of Gatton Park, through a wood of beech trees.

The roadway of Reigate Hill is made to wind circuitously, in an attempt to
mitigate the severity of the gradient; but for all the care taken, it
remains one of the steepest hills in England, and is one of the very few
provided with granite kerbs intended to ease the pull-up for horses. None
but a very special fool among cyclists in the old days attempted to ride
down the hill; and many, even in these times of more efficient brakes,
prefer to walk down. Only motor-cars, like the Gadarene swine of the
Scriptures, "rushing violently down a steep place," attempt it; and those
who are best acquainted with the hill live in daily expectation of a
recklessly driven car spilling over the rim.



XIX


Reigate town lies at the foot, sheltered under this great shoulder of the
downs: a little town of considerable antiquity and inconsiderable story.
It is mentioned in Domesday Book, but under the now forgotten name of
"Cherchefelle," and did not begin to assume the name of Reigate until
nearly two hundred years later.

Churchfield was at the time of the Norman conquest a manor in the
possession of the widowed Queen, and was probably little more than an
enclosed farm and manor-house situated in a clearing of the Holmesdale
woods; but it had not long passed into the hands of William de Varennes,
who had married Gundrada the Conqueror's daughter and was one of his most
intimate henchmen at the Battle of Hastings, before it became the site of
the formidable Reigate, or Holm, Castle. The manors granted to William de
Varennes comprehended nearly the whole of Surrey, and included others in
Sussex, Yorkshire, and Norfolk. Such were the splendours that fell to the
son-in-law and the companion-in-arms of a successful invader. He became
somewhat Anglicised under the title of Earl of Warenne, and the ancestor
of a line of seven Earls, of whom the last died in 1347, when the family
became firstly merged in that of the Fitzalans, then of the Mowbrays, and
finally in that of the alternately absorbent and fissiparous Howards.

Holm, or Reigate Castle, had little history of the warlike sort. It
frowned terribly upon its sandstone ridge, but tamely submitted in 1216
when the foreign allies of the discontented subjects of King John
approached: and when the seventh Earl, who had murdered Baron de la Zouche
at Westminster, was attacked here by Prince Edward, he promptly made a
grovelling surrender and paid the fine of 12,000 marks (equal to £24,000)
demanded. In 1550, when Lambarde wrote, only "the ruyns and rubbishe of an
old castle which some call Homesdale" were left, and even those were
cleared away by order of the Parliament in 1648. Now, after many centuries
of change in ownership, the hill on which that fortress stood is
contemptuously tunnelled, to give a more direct road through the town.

[Sidenote: REIGATE HILL]

In this connection, Cobbett, coming to Reigate through Sutton in 1823, is
highly entertaining. The tunnel was then being made, and it did not please
him. "They are," he vociferates, "in order to save a few hundred yards'
length of road, cutting through a hill. They have lowered a little hill on
the London side of Sutton. Thus is the money of the country actually
thrown away: the produce of labour is taken from the industrious and given
to the idlers. Mark the process; the town of Brighton, in Sussex, fifty
miles from the Wen, is on the seaside, and is thought by the stockjobbers
to afford a _salubrious air_. It is so situated that a coach which leaves
it not very early in the morning reaches London by noon; and, starting to
go back in two hours and a half afterwards, reaches Brighton not very late
at night. Great parcels of stockjobbers stay at Brighton with the women
and children. They skip backward and forward on the coaches, and actually
carry on stock-jobbing in Change Alley, though they reside at Brighton.
The place is, besides, a great resort with the _whiskered_ gentry. There
are not less than about twenty coaches that leave the Wen every day for
this place; and, there being three or four different roads, there is a
great rivalship for the custom. This sets the people to work to shorten
and to level the roads; and here you see hundreds of men and horses
constantly at work to make pleasant and quick travelling for the Jews and
jobbers. The Jews and jobbers pay the turnpikes, to be sure; but they get
the money from the land and labourers. They drain these, from John o'
Groat's House to the Land's End, and they lay out some of the money on the
Brighton roads."

Cobbett is dead, and the Reform Act is an old story, but the Jews and the
jobbers swarm more than ever.

[Sidenote: THE CASTLE CAVES]

The tunnel through the castle hill was made by consent of the then owner,
Earl Somers, as a tablet informs all who care to know. The entrance
towards the town is faced with white brick, in a style supposed to be
Norman. Above are the grounds, now public, where a would-be mediæval
gateway, erected in 1777, quite illegitimately impresses many innocents,
and below is the so-called Barons' Cave, an ancient excavation in the soft
sandstone where the Barons are (quite falsely) said to have assembled in
conclave before forcing their will upon King John at Runnymede. Unhappily
for that tradition, the then Earl Warenne was a supporter of the tyrant
king, and any reforming barons he might possibly have entertained at
Reigate Castle would have been kept on the chain as enemies, and treated
to the cold comfort of bread and water.

[Illustration: THE TUNNEL, REIGATE.]

There are deeper depths than these castle caves, for dungeon-like
excavations exist beside and underneath the tunnel; but they are not so
very terrible, exuding as they do strong vinous and spirituous odours,
proving that the only prisoners languishing there are hogsheads and
kilderkins.

Reigate, dropping its intermediate name of Cherchefelle on Ridgegate,
became variously Reigate, Riggate, and Reygate in the thirteenth century.
The name obviously indicates a gate--that is to say, a road--over the
ridge of the downs; presumably that road upon which Gatton, the
"gate-town," stood. Strongly supporting this theory, Wray Common and Park
are found on the line of road between Reigate and Gatton. If we select
"Reygate" from the many variants of the place-name, and place it beside
that of Wray Common, we get at once the phonetic link.

When Reigate lost the two members it sent to Parliament, it lost much more
than the mere distinction of being represented. It lost free drinks and
money to jingle in its pockets, for it was openly corrupt--in fact,
neither better nor worse than most other constituencies. What else, when
you consider it, could be expected when the franchise was so limited that
the electors were a mere handful, and votes by consequence were
individually valuable. In short, the best safeguard against bribery is to
so increase the electorate that the purchase of votes is beyond the
capacity of a candidate's pockets.

Modern circumstances have, indeed, so wrought with country towns of the
Reigate type that they are merely the devitalised spooks of their former
selves, and Reigate would long ere this have been on the verge of
extinction, had it not been within the revivifying influence of the
suburban area. It is due to the Wen, as Cobbett would call it, that
Reigate is still at once so old-world and so prosperous. It is surrounded
by semi-suburban estates, but is in its centre still the Reigate of that
time when the coaches came through, when royalty and nobility lunched at
the still-existing "White Hart," and when fifty miles made a long day's
journey.

Reigate town was the property, almost exclusively, of the late Lady Henry
Somerset. By direction of her heir, Somers Somerset, it was, in October,
1921, sold at auction in several lots.

There are some in Reigate who dwell in imagination upon old times. Not by
any means the obvious people, the clergy and the usual kidney; they find
existence there a vast yawn. The antiquarian taste revealed itself by
chance to the present inquirer in the person of a policeman on duty by the
tunnel, who knew all about Reigate's one industry of digging silver-sand,
who could speak of the "Swan" inn having once possessed a gallows sign
that spanned the road, and knew all about the red brick market-house or
town hall being built in 1708 on the site of a pilgrims' chapel dedicated
to St. Thomas à Becket. He could tell, too, that wonderful man, of a
bygone militant parson of Reigate, who, warming to some dispute, took off
his coat in the street and saying, "Lie there, divinity," handsomely
thrashed his antagonist. "I like them old antidotes," said my constable;
and so do I.



XX


[Sidenote: REIGATE CHURCH]

Reigate Church has been many times restored, and every time its monuments
have suffered a general post; so that scarce an one remains where it was
originally placed, and very few are complete.

The most remarkable monument of all, after having been removed from its
original place in the chancel to the belfry, has now utterly vanished. It
is no excuse that its ever having been placed in the church at all was a
scandal and an outrage, for, being there, it should have been preserved,
as in some sort an illustration of bygone social conditions. But the usual
obliterators of history and of records made their usual clean sweep, and
it has disappeared.

It was a heart-shaped monument, inscribed, "Near this place lieth Edward
Bird, Esq., Gent. Dyed the 23rd of February, 1718/9. His age 26," and was
surmounted by a half-length portrait effigy of him in armour, with a full
flowing wig; a truncheon in his right hand, and in the background a
number of military trophies.

The especial scandal attaching to the fact of this monument ever having
been placed in the church arises from the fact that Edward Bird was hanged
for murder. Some particulars are gleaned from one of the many catchpenny
leaflets issued at the time by the Ordinary--that is to say, the
Chaplain--of Newgate, who was never averse from adding to his official
salary by writing the "last dying words" of interesting criminals; but his
flaring front pages were, at the best--like the contents bills of modern
sensational evening newspapers--indifferent honest, and his account of
Bird is meagre.

It seems, collating this and other authorities, that this interesting
young man had been given the advantages of "a Christian and Gentlemanlike
Education," which in this case means that he had been a Westminster boy
under the renowned Dr. Busby, and afterwards a scholar at Eton. This
finished Christian then became a lieutenant in the Marquis of Winchester's
Horse. He married when twenty years of age, and his wife died a year
later, when he plunged into a dissolute life in London.

One evening in September, 1718, he was driven "with a woman in a coach and
a bottle of Champain wine" to a "bagnio" in Silver Street, Golden Square,
and there "had the misfortune" to run a waiter, one Samuel Loxton, through
the body with his sword. "G--d d--n you, I will murder you all," he is
reported to have threatened, and a farrier of Putney, called at the
subsequent trial, deposed to having once been run through the body by this
martial spirit.

Greatly to the surprise of himself and friends, Lieutenant Bird was not
only arrested and tried, but found guilty and sentenced to death. The
historian of these things is surprised, too; for gentlemen of fashion were
in those times very much what German officers became--privileged
murderers--and waiters were earthworms. I cannot understand it at all.

[Sidenote: AN EXIT AT TYBURN]

At any rate, Edward Bird took it ill and declined the ministrations of the
Ordinary, saying "He was very busy, was to write Letters, expected
Company, and such-like frivolous Excuses." The Ordinary does not tell us
in so many words, but we may suspect that the condemned man told him to go
to the Devil. He was, indeed, an altogether hardened sinner, and would not
even go to chapel, and was so poor a sportsman that he tried to do the
rabble of Tyburn out of the entertaining spectacle of his execution,
taking poison and stabbing himself in several places on the eve of that
interesting event.

He seems to have been afraid of hurting himself, for he died neither of
poison nor of wounds, and was duly taken to Tyburn in a handsome mourning
coach, accompanied by his mother, by other Christians and gentlemen, by
the Ordinary, and three other clergymen, to see him duly across the
threshold into the other world. He stood an hour under the fatal tree,
talking with his mother, and no hour of his life could have sped so
swiftly. Then the chaplain sang a penitential psalm and the other divines
prayed, and the candidate for the rope was made to repeat the Apostles'
Creed, after which he called for a glass of wine. No wine being available,
he took a pinch of snuff, bowed, and said, "Gentlemen, I wish your
health," and then "was ty'd up, turned off, and bled very much at the
Mouth or Nose, or both."

The mystery of his being accorded a monument in Reigate Church is
explained when we learn that his uncle, the Rev. John Bird, was both
patron and vicar. A further inscription beyond that already quoted was
once in existence, censuring the judge and jury who condemned him.
Traditions long survived of his mother, on every anniversary of his
execution, passing the whole day in the church, sorrowing.

The date of the monument's disappearance is not clearly established, but
old inhabitants of Reigate have recollections of the laughing workmen,
during the rebuilding of the tower in 1874, throwing marble figures out of
the windows, and speak of the fragments being buried in the churchyard.

For the rest, Reigate Church is only of mild interest; excepting, indeed,
the parish library, housed over the vestry, containing among its seventeen
hundred books many of great interest and variety. The collection was begun
in 1701 by the then vicar.

A little-known fact about Reigate is that the notorious Eugene Aram for a
year lived here, in a cottage oddly named "Upper Repentance."

[Illustration: TABLET: BATSWING COTTAGES.]

The road leaving Reigate, by Parkgate and the Priory, passes a couple of
cottages not in themselves remarkable but bearing a curious device
intended to represent bats' wings, and inscribed "J. T. 1815." They are
known as "Batswing Cottages," but what induced "J. T." to call them so,
and even who he was, seems to be unknown.

Over the rise of Cockshut Hill and through a wooded cutting the road comes
to Woodhatch and the "Old Angel" inn, where the turnpike-gate stood, and
where a much earlier gate, indicated in the place-name, existed.

Woodhatch, the gate into the woods, illustrates the ancient times when the
De Warennes held the great Reigate, or Holm, Castle and much of the
woodlands of Holmesdale. The name of Earlswood, significant to modern ears
only of the great idiot asylum there, derives from them. Place-names down
in these levels ending in "wood" recall the dense forests that once
overspread Holmesdale: Ewood, Norwood, Charlwood, Hartswood,
Hookwood--vast glades of oak and beech, where the hogs roamed and the
prototypes of Gyrth, the swineherd, tended them, in the consideration of
the Norman lords of little more value than the pigs they herded. The
scattered "leys"--Horley, Crawley, Kennersley, and the like--allude to the
clearings or pastures amid the forest. Many other entrances into those old
bosquets may be traced on the map--Tilgate, Fay Gate, Monk's Gate and
Newdigate among them; but the woodlands have long been nothing but
memories, and fields and meadows, flatness itself, stretch away on either
side of the level road to, and beyond, Horley, with the river Mole
sluggishly winding through them--a scene not unbeautiful in its placid
way.

The little hamlet of Sidlow Bridge, with its modern church, built in 1862,
marks the point where the road, instead of continuing straight, along the
flat, went winding off away to the right, seeking a route secure from the
Mole floods, up Black Horse Hill. When the route was changed, and the
"Black Horse" inn, by consequence, lost its custom, a newer inn of the
same name was built at the cross-roads in the levels; and there it stands
to-day, just before one reaches Povey Cross and the junction of routes.

[Sidenote: LOWFIELD HEATH]

Povey Cross, of whose name no man knows the derivation, leads direct past
the tiny Kimberham, or Timberham, Bridge over the Mole, to Lowfield Heath,
referred to in what, for some inscrutable reason, are styled the "Statutes
at Large," as "Lovell" Heath. The place is in these days a modern hamlet,
and the heath, in a strict sense, is to seek. It has been improved away by
enclosure and cultivation, utterly and without remorse; but the flat,
low-lying land remains eloquent of the past, and accounts for the humorous
error of some old maps which style it "Level Heath."

The whole district, from Salfords, through Horley, to near Crawley, is at
times little more than an inland sea, for here ooze and crawl the many
tributaries of the Mole. The memorable floods of October, 1891, following
upon a wet summer and autumnal weeks of rain, swelled the countless
arteries of the Mole, and the highways became rushing torrents. Along the
nut-brown flood floated the remaining apples from drowned orchards, with
trees, bushes, and hurdles. Postmen on their rounds were reduced to
wading, and thence to horseback and wheeled conveyances; and Horley
churchyard was flooded.

[Illustration: The Floods at Horley.]

A repetition of this state of things occurred in February, 1897, when the
dedication of the new organ in the church of Lowfield Heath could not be
performed, the roads being four feet under water.



XXI


[Sidenote: CHARLWOOD]

The traveller does not see the true inwardness of the Weald from the hard
high road. Turn we, then at Povey Cross for a rustic interlude into the
byways, making for Charlwood and Ifield.

Few are those who find themselves in these lonely spots. Hundreds, nay,
thousands are continually passing almost within hail of their slumberous
sites, and have been passing for hundreds of years, yet they and their
inhabitants doze on, and ever and again some cyclist or pedestrian
blunders upon them by a fortunate accident, as, one may say, some
unconscious Livingstone or Speke, discovering an unknown Happy Valley, and
disturbs with a little ripple of modernity their uneventful calm.

The emptiness of the three miles or so of main road between Povey Cross
and Crawley is well exchanged for these devious ways leading along the
valley of the Mole. A prettier picture than that of Charlwood Church, seen
from the village street through a framing of two severely-cropped elms
forming an archway across the road, can rarely be seen in these home
counties, and the church itself is an ancient building of the eleventh
century, with later windows, inserted when the Norman gloom of its
interior assorted less admirably with a more enlightened time. In plan
cruciform, with central tower and double nave, it is of an unusual type of
village church, and presents many features of interest to the
archæologist, whose attention will immediately be arrested by the
fragments of an immense and hideous fresco seen on the south wall. A late
brass, now mural, in the chancel, dated 1553, is for Nicholas Sander and
Alys his wife. These Sanders, or, as they spelled their name variously,
Saunder, held for many years the manor of Charlwood, and from an early
period those of Purley and Sandersted--Sander's-stead, or dwelling. Sir
Thomas Saunder, Remembrancer of the Exchequer in Queen Elizabeth's time,
bequeathed his estates to his son, who sold the reversion of Purley in
1580. Members of the family, now farmers, still live in the parish where,
in happier times, they ruled.

[Illustration: Charlwood.]

[Sidenote: NEWDIGATE]

One of the prettiest spots in Surrey is the tiny village of Newdigate, on
a secluded winding road leading past a picturesque little inn, the "Surrey
Oaks," fronted with aged trees. It is, perhaps, the loneliest place in the
county, and is worth visiting, if only for a peep into the curious timber
belfry of its little church, which contains a hoary chest, contrived out
of a solid block of oak, and fastened with three ancient padlocks.

[Illustration: A Corner in Newdigate Church.]

But few go so far, and indeed the way by Ifield has its own interests and
attractions. Here a primitive pavement or causeway is very noticeable,
formed of a row of large flat blocks of stone, along the grassy margins of
the ditches. This is a survival (not altogether without its uses, even
now) of the time when

  Essex full of good housewyfes,
  Middlesex full of stryves,
  Kentshire hoot as fire,
  Sowseks full of dirt and mire

was a saying with plenty of current meaning to it. In those days the
Wealden clay asserted itself so unpleasantly that stepping-stones for
pedestrians were necessities.

The stones themselves have a particular interest, coming as they did from
local quarries long since closed. They are of two varieties: one of a
yellowish-grey; the other, greatly resembling Purbeck marble,
fossiliferous and of a light bluish tint. Charlwood Church itself is built
of Charlwood stone.

Ifield is just within the Sussex boundary. A beautiful way to it lies
through the park, in whose woody drives the oak and holly most do grow. It
has been remarked of this part of the Weald, that its soil is particularly
favourable to the growth of the oak. Cobbett indeed says, "It is a county
where, strictly speaking, only three things will grow well--grass, wheat,
and oak-trees;" and it was long a belief that Sussex alone could furnish
forth oak sufficient to build all the navies of Europe, notwithstanding
the ravages among the forests made by the forges and furnaces.

[Sidenote: IFIELD]

In the church of St. Margaret, Ifield, whose somewhat unprepossessing
exterior gives no hint of its inward beauty, is an oaken screen made from
the wood of an old tree which stood for centuries on the Brighton Road at
Lowfield Heath, where the boundary lines of Surrey and Sussex meet, and
was cut down in the "forties." The tree was known far and wide as "County
Oak."

[Illustration: On the Road to Newdigate.]

For the rest, the church is interesting enough by reason of its
architecture to warrant some lingering here, but it is, beside this
legitimate attraction, also very much of a museum of sepulchral
curiosities. A brass for two brothers, with a curious metrical
inscription, lurks in the gloom of the south aisle on the wall, and sundry
grim and ghastly relics, in the shape of engraved coffin-plates, grubbed
up by ghoulish antiquaries from the vaults below, form a perpetual
_memento mori_ from darksome masonry. On either side the nave, by the
chancel, beneath the graceful arches of the nave arcade, are the recumbent
effigies of Sir John de Ifield and his lady. The knight died in 1317. He
is represented as an armed Crusader, cross-legged, "a position," to quote
"Thomas Ingoldsby," "so prized by Templars in ancient and tailors in
modern days." The old pews came from St. Margaret's, Westminster. But so
dark is the church that details can only with difficulty be examined, and
to emerge from the murk of this interior is to blink again in the light of
day, however dull that day may be.

From Ifield Church, a long and exceeding straight road leads in one mile
to Ifield Hammer Pond. Here is one of the many sources of the little river
Mole, whose trickling tributaries spread over all the neighbouring valley.
The old mill standing beside the hatch bears on its brick substructure the
date 1683, but the white-painted, boarded mill itself is evidently of much
later date.

[Illustration: IFIELD MILL POND.]

[Sidenote: SUSSEX IRON]

Before a mill stood here at all, this was the site of one of the most
important ironworks in Sussex, when Sussex iron paid for the smelting.

Ironstone had been known to exist here even in the days of the Roman
occupation, when Anderida, extending from the sea to London, was all one
vast forest. Heaps of slag and cinders have been found, containing Roman
coins and implements of contemporary date, proving that iron was smelted
here to some extent even then. But it was not until the latter part of the
Tudor period that the industry attained its greatest height. Then,
according to Camden, "the Weald of Sussex was full of iron-mines, and the
beating of hammers upon the iron filled the neighbourhood round about with
continual noise." The ironstone was smelted with charcoal made from the
forest trees that then covered the land, and it was not until the first
year or two of the last century that the industry finally died out. The
last remaining ironworks in Sussex were situated at Ashburnham, and ceased
working about 1820, owing to the inability of iron-masters to compete with
the coal-smelted ore of South Wales.

By that time the great forest of Anderida had almost entirely disappeared,
which is not at all a wonderful thing to consider when we learn that one
ironworks alone consumed 200,000 cords of wood annually. Even in Drayton's
time the woods were already very greatly despoiled.

Relics of those days are plentiful, even now, in the ancient farmhouses;
relics in the shape of cast-iron chimney-backs and andirons, or
"fire-dogs," many of them very effectively designed; but, of course, in
these days of appreciation of the antique, numbers of them have been sold
and removed.

The water-power required by the ironworks was obtained by embanking small
streams, to form ponds; as here at Ifield, where a fine head of water is
still existing. Very many of these "Hammer Ponds" remain in Sussex and
Surrey, and were long so called by the rustics, whose unlettered and
traditional memories were tenacious, and preserved local history much
better than does the less intimate book-learning of the reading classes.
But now that every ploughboy reads his "penny horrible," and every gaffer
devours his Sunday paper, they have no memories for "such truck," and
local traditions are fading.

Ifield ironworks became extinct at an early date, but from a very
arbitrary cause. During the conflicts of the Civil War the property of
Royalists was destroyed by the Puritan soldiery wherever possible; and
after the taking of Arundel Castle in 1643, a detachment of troops under
Sir William Waller wantonly wrecked the works then situated here, since
when they do not appear to have been at any time revived.

It is a pretty spot to-day, and extremely quiet.

From here Crawley is reached through Gossop's Green.



XXII


[Sidenote: CRAWLEY]

The way into Crawley along the main road, passing the modern hamlet of
Lowfield Heath, is uneventful. The church, the "White Lion," and a few
attendant houses stand on one side of the road, and on the other, by the
farm or mansion styled Heath House, a sedgy piece of ground alone remains
to show what the heath was like before enclosure. Much of the land is now
under cultivation as a nursery for shrubs, and a bee-farm attracts the
wayfarers' attention nearer Crawley, where another hamlet has sprung up. A
mean little house called "Casa querca"--by which I suppose the author
means Oak House--is "refinement," as imagined in the suburbs, and excites
the passing sneer, "Is not the English language good enough?" If the
Italians will only oblige, and call their own "Bella Vistas" "Pretty
View," and so forth, while we continue the reverse process here, we shall
effect a fair exchange, and find at last an Old England over-sea.

[Illustration: CRAWLEY: LOOKING SOUTH.]

At the beginning of Crawley stands the "Sun" inn, and away at the other
end is the "Half Moon"; trivial facts not lost upon the guards and
coachmen of the coaching age, who generally propounded the stock conundrum
when passing through, "Why is Crawley the longest place in existence?"
Every one unfamiliar with the road "gave it up"; when came the answer,
"Because the sun is at one end and the moon at the other." It is evident
that very small things in the way of jokes satisfied the coach-passengers.

We have it, on the authority of writers who fared this way in early
coaching days, that Crawley was a "poor place," by which we may suppose
that they meant it was a village. But what did they expect--a city?

Crawley in these times still keeps some old-world features, but it has
grown, and is still growing. Its most striking peculiarity is the
extraordinary width of the road in midst of what I do not like to call a
town, and yet can scarce term a village; and the next most remarkable
thing is the bygone impudence of some forgotten land-snatchers who seized
plots in midst of this street, broad enough for a market-place, and built
houses on them. By what slow, insensible degrees these sites, doubtless
originally those of market-stalls, were stolen, records do not tell us;
but we may imagine the movable stalls replaced by fixed wooden ones, and
those in course of time giving place to more substantial structures, and
so forth, in the time-honoured way, until the present houses, placed like
islands in the middle of the street, sealed and sanctified the long-drawn
tale of grab.

Even Crawley's generous width of roadway cannot have been an inch too wide
for the traffic that crowded the village when it was a stage at which
every coach stopped, when the air resounded with the guards' winding of
their horns, or the playing of the occasional key-bugle to the airs of
"Sally in our Alley" or "Love's Young Dream." Then the "George" was the
scene of a continual bustling, with the shouting of the ostlers, the
chink and clashing of harness, and all the tumults of travelling, when
travelling was no light affair of an hour and a fraction, railway time,
but a real journey, of five hours.

[Illustration: CRAWLEY, 1789.]

Now there is little to stir the pulses or make the heart leap.
Occasionally some great cycle "scorch" is in progress, when whirling
enthusiasts speed through the village on winged wheels beneath the sign of
the "George" spanning the street and swinging in the breeze; a sign on
which the saintly knight wages eternal warfare with a blurred and very
invertebrate dragon. Sometimes a driving match brings down sportsmen _and_
bookmakers, and every now and again some one has a record to cut, be it in
cycling, coaching, walking, or in wheelbarrow trundling; and then the
roads are peopled again.

There yet remain a few ancient cottages in Crawley, and the grey,
embattled church tower lends an assured antiquity to the view; but there
is, in especial, one sixteenth-century cottage worthy notice. Its timbered
frame stands as securely, though not so erect, as ever, and is eloquent of
that spacious age when the Virgin Queen (Heaven help those who named her
so!) rules the land. It is Sussex, realised at a glance.

They are conservative folks at Crawley. When that ancient elm of theirs
that stood directly below this old cottage had become decayed with lapse
of years and failure of sap, they did not, even though its vast trunk
obtrudes upon the roadway, cut it down and scatter its remains abroad.
Instead, they fenced it around with as decorative a rustic railing as
might well be contrived out of cut boughs, all innocent of the carpenter
and still retaining their bark, and they planted the enclosure with
flowers and tender saplings, so that this venerable ruin became a very
attractive ruin indeed.

Rowlandson has preserved for us a view of Crawley as it appeared in 1789,
when he toured the road and sketched, while his companion, Henry Wigstead,
took notes for his book, "An Excursion to Brighthelmstone." It is a work
of the dreadfullest ditch-water dulness, saved only by the artist's
illustrations. That _they_ should have lived, you who see the reproduction
will not wonder. The old sign spans the way, as of yore, but Crawley is
otherwise greatly changed.

[Illustration: AN OLD COTTAGE AT CRAWLEY.]

An odd fact, unknown to those who merely pass through the place, is that
the greater part of "Crawley" is not in that parish at all, but in the
adjoining parish of Ifield. Only the church and a few houses on the same
side of the street belong to Crawley.

In these later years the church, once kept rigidly locked, is generally
open, and the celebrated inscription carved on one of the tie-beams of the
nave is to be seen. It is in old English characters, gilded, and runs in
this admonitory fashion:

  Man yn wele bewar, for warldly good makyth man blynde
  He war be for whate comyth be hynde.

When the stranger stands puzzling it out, unconscious of not being alone,
it is sufficiently startling to hear the unexpected voice of the sexton,
"be hynde," remarking that it is "arnshunt."

[Illustration: THE "GEORGE," CRAWLEY.]

The sturdy old tower is crowned with a gilded weather vane representing
Noah's dove returning to the Ark with the olive-leaf, when the waters were
abated from off the earth: a device peculiarly appropriate, intentionally
or not, to Crawley, overlooking the oft-flooded valley of the Mole.

But the most interesting feature of this church is the rude representation
of the Trinity carved on the western face of the tower: three awful
figures of very ancient date, on a diminishing scale, built into
fifteenth-century niches. Above, on the largest scale, is the Supreme
Being, holding what seems to be intended for a wheel, one of the ancient
symbols of eternity. The sculptor, endeavouring to realise the grovelling
superstition of his remote age, has put his "fear of God," in a very
literal sense, into the grim, truculent, merciless, all-judging smile of
the image; and thus, in enduring stone, we have preserved to us the
terrified minds of the dark ages, when God, the loving Father, was
non-existent, and was only the Judge, swift to punish. The other figures
are merely like infantile grotesques.



XXIII


There is but one literary celebrity whose name goes down to posterity
associated with Crawley. At Vine Cottage, near the railway station,
resided Mark Lemon, editor of _Punch_, who died here on May 20th, 1870.
Since his time the expansion of Crawley has caused the house to be
converted into a grocer's shop.

[Sidenote: PRIZE-FIGHTS]

[Illustration: SCULPTURED EMBLEM OF THE HOLY TRINITY, CRAWLEY CHURCH.]

The only other inhabitant of Crawley whose deeds informed the world at
large of his name and existence was Tom Cribb, the bruiser. But though I
lighted upon the statement of his residence here at one time, yet, after
hunting up details of his life and of the battles he fought, after
pursuing him through the classic pages of "Boxiana" and the voluminous
records of "Pugilistica," after consulting, too, that sprightly work "The
Fancy"; after all this I find no further mention of the fact. It was
fitting, though, that the pugilist should have his home near Crawley
Downs, the scene of so many of the Homeric combats witnessed by thousands
upon thousands of excited spectators, from the Czar of Russia and the
great Prince Regent, downwards to the lowest blackguards of the
metropolis. An inspiring sight those Downs must have presented from time
to time, when great multitudes--princes, patricians, and plebeians of
every description--hung with beating hearts and bated breath upon the
performances of two men in a roped enclosure battering one another for so
much a side.

It is thus no matter for surprise that the Brighton Road, on its several
routes, witnessed brilliant and dashing turn-outs, both in public coaches
and private equipages, during that time when the last of the Georges
flourished so flamboyantly as Prince, Prince Regent, and King. How else
could it have been with the Court at one end of it and the metropolis at
the other, and between them the rendezvous of all such as delighted in the
"noble art"?

Many were the merry "mills" which "came off" at Crawley Downs, Copthorne
Common, and Blindley Heath, attended by the Prince and his merry men,
conspicuous among whom at different times were Fox, Lord Barrymore, Lord
Yarmouth ("Red Herrings"), and Major George Hanger. As for the tappings of
claret, the punchings of conks and bread-baskets, and the tremendous
sloggings that went on in this neighbourhood in those virile times, are
they not set forth with much circumstantial detail in the pages of
"Fistiana" and "Boxiana"? There shall you read how the Prince Regent
witnessed with enthusiasm such merry sets-to as this between Randall and
Martin on Crawley Downs. "Boxiana" gives a full account of it, and is even
moved to verse, in this wise:

  THE FIGHT AT CRAWLEY
  BETWEEN
  THE NONPAREIL
  AND
  THE OUT-AND-OUTER.

  Come, won't you list unto my lay
  About the fight at Crawley, O!...

with the refrain--

  With his filaloo trillaloo,
  Whack, fal lal de dal di de do!

For the number of rounds and such technical details the curious may be
referred to the classic pages of "Boxiana" itself.

Martin, originally a baker, and thus of course familiarly known as the
"Master of the Rolls," one of the heroes whom all these sporting blades
went out to see contend for victory in the ring, died so recently as 1871.
He had long retired from the P.R., and had, upon quitting it, followed the
usual practice of retired pugilists, that is to say, he became a publican.
He was landlord successively of the "Crown" at Croydon, and the "Horns"
tavern, Kennington.

As for details of this fight or that upon the same spot from which
Hickman, "The Gas-Light Man," came off victor, they are not for these
pages. How the combatants "fibbed" and "countered," and did other things
equally abstruse to the average reader, you may, who care to, read in the
pages of the enthusiastic authorities upon the subject, who spare nothing
of all the blows given and received.

This was fine company for the Heir-apparent to keep at Crawley Downs; but
see how picturesque he and the crowds that followed in his wake rendered
those times. What diversions went forward on the roads--such roads as they
were! One chronicler of a fight here says, in all good faith, that on the
morning following the "battle," the remains of several carriages,
phaetons, and other vehicles were found bestrewing the narrow ways where
they had collided in the darkness.

[Sidenote: THE REGENCY]

The House of Hanover, which ended with the death of Queen Victoria, was
not at any time largely endowed with picturesqueness, saving only in the
gruesome picture afforded by the horrid legend which accounts for the
family name of Guelph; but the Regent was the great exception. He, at
least, was picturesque; and if there be any who choose to deny it, I will
ask them how it comes that so many novelists dealing with historical
periods have chosen the period of the Regency as so fruitful an era of
romance? The Prince endowed his time with a glamour that has lasted, and
will continue unimpaired. It was he who gave a devil-me-care connotation
to the words "Regent" and "Regency"; and his wild escapades have sufficed
to redeem the Georgian Era from the reproach of unrelieved dulness and
greasy vulgarity.

The reign of George the Third was the culmination of smug and unctuous
_bourgeois_ respectability at Court, from whose weary routine the Prince's
surroundings were entirely different. Himself and his _entourage_ were
dissolute indeed, roystering, drinking, cursing, dicing, visiting
prize-fights on these Downs of Crawley, and hail-fellow-well-met with the
blackguards there gathered together. But whatever his surroundings, they
were never dull, for which saving grace many sins may be excused him.

Thackeray, in his "Four Georges," has little that is pleasant to say of
any one of them, but is astonishingly severe upon this last, both as
Prince and King. For a thorough-going condemnation, commend me to that
book. To the faults of George the Fourth the author is very wide-awake,
nor will he allow him any virtues whatsoever. He will not even concede him
to be a man, as witness this passage: "To make a portrait of him at sight
seemed a matter of small difficulty. There is his coat, his star, his wig,
his countenance simpering under it: with a slate and a piece of chalk, I
could at this very desk perform a recognisable likeness of him. And yet,
after reading of him in scores of volumes, hunting him through old
magazines and newspapers, having him here at a ball, there at a public
dinner, there at races, and so forth, you find you have nothing, nothing
but a coat and a wig, and a mask smiling below it; nothing but a great
simulacrum."

Poor fat Adonis!

But Thackeray was obliged reluctantly to acknowledge the grace and charm
of the Fourth George, and to chronicle some of the kind acts he performed,
although at these last he sneered consumedly, because, forsooth, those
thus benefited were quite humble persons. It was not without reason that
Thackeray wrote so intimately of snobs: in those unworthy sneers speaks
one of the race.

One curious little item of praise the author of the "Four Georges" was
constrained to allow the Regent: "Where my Prince did actually distinguish
himself was in driving. He drove once in four hours and a half from
Brighton to Carlton House--fifty-six miles."[11]

So the altogether British love of sport compelled this little interlude in
the abuse levelled at the "simulacrum."



XXIV


Modern Crawley is disfigured by the abomination of a busy railway
level-crossing that bars the main road and causes an immeasurable waste of
public time and a deplorable flow of bad language. It affords a very good
idea of the delays and annoyances at the old turnpike-gates, without their
excuse for existence. Beyond it is the Park Lane or Belgravia of
Crawley--the residential and superior modern district of country houses,
each in midst of its own little pleasance.

[Sidenote: PEASE POTTAGE]

The cutting in the rise at Hog's Hill passed, the road goes in a long
incline up to Hand Cross, by Pease Pottage, where there is now a
post-office which spells the name wrongly, "Peas." No one _knows_ how the
place-name originated; but legends explain where facts are wanting, and
tell variously how soldiers in the old days were halted here on their
route-marching and fed with "pease-pottage," the old name for
pease-pudding; or describe how prisoners on the cross-roads, on their way
to trial at the assizes, once held at Horsham and East Grinstead
alternately, were similarly refreshed. Formerly called Pease Pottage Gate,
from a turnpike-gate that spanned the Horsham road, the "Gate" has
latterly been dropped. It is a pretty spot, with a triangular green and
the old "Black Swan" inn still standing at the back. The green is not
improved by the recent addition of a huge and ugly signboard, advertising
the inn as an "hotel." The inquiring mind speculates curiously as to
whether the District Council (or whatever the local governing body may be)
is doing its duty in allowing such a flagrant vulgarity, apart from any
question of legal rights, on common land. Indeed, the larger question
arises, in the gross abuse of advertising notice-boards on this road in
particular, and along others in lesser degree, as to whether the shameful
defacement of natural scenery by such boards erected on land public or
private ought not to be suppressed by law. Nearer Brighton, the beautiful
distant views of the South Downs are utterly damned by gigantic black
hoardings painted in white letters, trumpeting the advantages of the motor
garage of an hotel which here, at least, shall not be named. Much has been
written about the abuse of advertising in America, but Englishmen, sad to
say, have in these latter days outdone, and are outdoing, those crimes,
while America itself is retrieving its reputation.

This is the Forest Ridge of Sussex, where the Forest of St. Leonards still
stretches far and wide. Away for miles on the left hand stretch the lovely
beechwoods and the hazel undergrowths of Tilgate, Balcombe, and Worth, and
on the right the little inferior woodlands extending to Horsham. The ridge
is, in addition, a great watershed. From it the Mole and the Medway flow
north, and the Arun, the Adur, and the Sussex Ouse south, towards the
English Channel. Hand Cross is the summit of the ridge, and the way to it
is coming either north or south, a toilsome drag.

At Tilgate Forest Row the scenery becomes park-like, laurel hedges lining
the way, giving occasional glimpses of fine estates to right and left.
Here the coachmen used to point out, with becoming awe, the country house
where Fauntleroy, the banker, lived, and would tell how he indulged in all
manner of unholy orgies in that gloomy-looking mansion in the forest.

Henry Fauntleroy was only thirty-nine years of age when he met the doom
then meted out to forgers. As partner in the banking firm of Marsh,
Sibbald & Co., of Berners Street, he had entire control of the firm's
Stock Exchange business, and, unknown to his partners, had for nine years
pursued a consistent course of illegally selling the securities belonging
to customers--forging their signatures to transfers. Paying the interest
and dividends as usual, the frauds, amounting in all to £70,000, might
have remained undiscovered for many years longer; but the credit of the
bank, long in a tottering condition, was exhausted in September, 1824,
when all was disclosed. Fauntleroy was arrested on the 11th, and on the
14th the bank suspended payment.

[Illustration: PEASE POTTAGE.]

The failure of the bank was largely due to the extravagance of the
partners, Fauntleroy himself living in fine style as a country gentleman;
but the scandalous stories current at the time as to his mode of life were
quite disproved, while the partners were clearly shown to have been
entirely ignorant of the state of their affairs, which acquits them of
complicity, though it does not redound to their credit as business men.
Fauntleroy readily admitted his guilt, and added that he acted thus to
prop up the long-standing instability of the firm. He was tried at the Old
Bailey October 30th, 1824, sentenced to death, and executed November 30th,
in the presence of a crowd of 200,000 persons. He was famed among
connoisseurs for the excellence of his claret, and would never disclose
its place of origin. Friends who visited him in the condemned cell begged
him to confide in them, but he would never do so, and when he died the
secret died with him.

No one has ever claimed acquaintance with the ghost of Fauntleroy, with or
without his rope; but the road to Hand Cross has long enjoyed--or been
afflicted with--the reputation of being haunted. The Hand Cross ghost is,
by all accounts, an extremely eccentric, but harmless spook, with peculiar
notions in the matter of clothes, and given, when the turnpike-gate stood
here, to monkey-tricks with bolts and bars, whereby pikemen were not only
scared, but were losers of sundry tolls. Evidently that sprite was the
wayfarers' friend.

"Squire Powlett" is another famous phantom of this forest-side, and is
more terrifying, being headless, and given to the hateful practice of
springing up behind the horseman who ventures this way when night has
fallen upon the glades, riding with him to the forest boundary. Motorists
and cyclists, however, do not seem to have been troubled. Possibly they
have a turn of speed quite beyond the powers of such an old-fashioned
spook.

_Why_ "Squire Powlett" should haunt these nocturnal glades is not so
easily to be guessed. He was not, so far as can be learned, an evildoer,
and he certainly was not beheaded. He was that William Powlett, a captain
in the Horse Grenadiers and a resident in the Forest of St. Leonards, who
seems to have led an exemplary life, and died in 1746, and is buried under
an elaborate monument in West Grinstead Church.



XXV


[Sidenote: HAND CROSS]

Hand Cross is a settlement of forty or fifty houses, situated where
several roads meet, in this delightful land of forests. Its name derives,
of course, from some ancient signpost, or combination of signpost and
wayside cross, existing here in pre-Reformation times, on the lonely
cross-roads. No houses stood here then, and Slaugham village, the nearest
habitation of man, was a mile distant, at the foot of the hill, where,
very little changed or not at all, it may still be sought. Slaugham parish
is very extensive, stretching as far as Crawley; and the hamlet of Hand
Cross, within it, although now larger than the parent village itself, is
only a mere mushroom excrescence called into existence by the road travel
of the last two centuries.

It is the being on the main road, and on the junction of several routes,
that has made Hand Cross what it is to-day and has deposed Slaugham
itself; just as in towns a by-street being made a main thoroughfare will
make the fortunes of the shops in it and perhaps ruin those of some other
route.

Not that Hand Cross is great, or altogether pleasing to the eye; for,
after all, it is a _parvenu_ of a place, and lacks the Domesday descent
of, for instance, Cuckfield. Now, the _parvenu_, the man of his hands, may
be a very estimable fellow, but his raw prosperity grates upon the nerves.
So it is with Hand Cross, for its prosperity, which has not waned with
the coaching era, has incited to the building of cottages of that cheap
and yellow brick we know so well and loathe so much. Also, though there is
no church, there are two chapels; one of retiring position, the other
conventicle of aggressive and red, red brick. One could find it in one's
heart to forgive the yellow brick; but this red, never. In this ruddy
building is a harmonium. On Sundays the wail of that instrument and the
hooting and ting, tinging of cyclorns and cycling gongs, as cyclists
foregather by the "Red Lion," are the most striking features of the place.

The "Red Lion" is of greater interest than all other buildings at Hand
Cross. It stood here in receipt of coaching custom through all the
roystering days of the Regency as it stands now, prosperous at the hands
of another age of wheels. Shergold tells us that its landlords in olden
times knew more of smuggling than hearsay, and dispensed from many an
anker of brandy that had not rendered duty.

At Hand Cross the ways divide, the Bolney and Hickstead route, opened in
1813, branching off to the right and not merely providing a better
surface, but, with a straighter course, saving from one and a half to two
miles, and avoiding some troublesome rises, becoming in these times the
"record route" for cyclists, pedestrians, and all who seek to speed
between London and Brighton in the quickest possible time. It rejoins the
classic route at Pyecombe.

For the present we will follow the older way, by Cuckfield, down to
Staplefield Common. A lovely vale opens out as one descends the southern
face of the watershed, with an enchanting middle distance of copses,
cottages, and winding roads, the sun slanting on distant ponds, or
transmuting commonplace glazier's work into sparkling diamonds.

At the foot of the hill is Staplefield Common, bisected by the highway,
with recent cottages and modern church, and in the foreground the "Jolly
Farmers" inn. But where are the famous cherry-trees of Staplefield,
under whose boughs the coach passengers of a century ago feasted off the
"black-hearts"; where are the "Dun Cow" and its equally famous
rabbit-puddings and its pretty Miss Finch? Gone, as utterly as though they
had never been.

[Illustration: THE "RED LION," HAND CROSS.]

Three miles of oozy hollows and rises covered with tangled undergrowths of
hazels lead past Slough Green and Whiteman's Green to Cuckfield. From the
hillsides the great Ouse Valley Viaduct of the Brighton line, down towards
Balcombe and Ardingly, is seen stalking across the low-lying meadows,
mellowed by distance to the romantic similitude of an aqueduct of ancient
Rome.

Plentiful traces are yet visible of the rugged old hollow lane that was
the precursor of the present road. In places it is a wayside pool; in
others a hollow, grown thickly with trees, with tree-roots, gnarled and
fanglike, clutching in desperate hold its crumbling banks. The older
rustics know it, if the younger and the passing stranger do not: they tell
you "'tis wheer th' owd hroad tarned arff."



XXVI


The pleasant old town of Cuckfield stands on no railway, and has no
manufactures or industries of any kind; and since the locomotive ran the
coaches off the road has been a veritable Sleepy Hollow. It was not always
thus, for in those centuries--from the fourteenth until the early part of
the eighteenth--when the beds of Sussex iron-ore were worked and smelted
on the spot, the neighbourhood of Cuckfield was a Black Country, given
over to the manufacture of ironware, from cannon to firebacks.

[Illustration: CUCKFIELD, 1789. _From an aquatint after Rowlandson._]

All this was so long ago that nature has healed the scars made by that
busy time. Wooded hills replace the uplands made bare by the smelters, the
cinder-heaps and mounds of slag are hidden under pastures, the
"hammer-ponds" of the smelteries and foundries have become the resorts of
artists seeking the picturesque, and the descendants of the old
iron-masters, the Burrells and the Sergisons, have for generations past
been numbered among the county families.

[Sidenote: CUCKFIELD]

Cuckfield very narrowly escaped being directly on the route of the
Brighton railway, but it pleased the engineers to bring their line no
nearer than Hayward's Heath, some two miles distant. They built a station
there, on the lone heath, "for Cuckfield," with the result, sixty years
later, that the sometime solitude is a town and still growing, while
Cuckfield declines. Hayward's Heath, curiously enough, is, or was until
December, 1894, in the parish of Cuckfield, but the time is at hand when
the two will be joined by the spread of that railway upstart; and then
will be the psychological moment for abolishing the name of Hayward's
Heath--which is a shocking stumbling-block for the aitchless--and adopting
that of the parental "Cookfield."

Meanwhile, I shall drop no sentimental tears over the chance that
Cuckfield lost, sixty years ago, of becoming a railway junction and a
modern town. Of junctions and mushroom towns we have a sufficiency, but of
surviving sweet old country townlets very few.

To see Cuckfield thoroughly demands some little leisure, for although it
is small one must needs have time to assimilate the atmosphere of the
place, if it is to be appreciated at its worth; from the grey old church
with its tall shingled spire and its monuments of Burrells and Sergisons
of Cuckfield Place, to the staid old houses in the quiet streets, and
those two fine old coaching inns, the "Talbot" and the "King's Head."
Rowlandson made a picture of the town in 1789, and it is not wholly unlike
that, even now, but where is that Fair we see in progress in his spirited
rendering? Gone, together with the smart fellow driving the curricle, and
all the other figures of that scene, into the forgotten. There, in one
corner, you see the Recruiting Sergeant and the drummer, impressing with
military glory a typical smock-frocked Hodge, gaping so outrageously that
he seems to be opening his face rather than merely his mouth; the artist's
idea seems to have been that, like a dolphin, he would swallow anything,
either in the way of food or of stories. There are no full-blooded
Sergeant Kites and gaping yokels nowadays.

Cuckfield is evidently feeling, more and more, the altered condition of
affairs. Motorists, who are supposed to bring back prosperity to the road,
do nothing of the kind on the road to Brighton; for those who live at
Brighton or London merely want to reach the other end as quickly as
possible, and, with a legal limit up to twenty miles an hour, can cover
the distance in two hours and a half, and, with an occasional illegal
interval, easily in two hours. Except in case of a breakdown, the wayside
hostelries do not often see the colour of the motorists' money, but they
smell the stink, and are choked with the dust of them, and landlords and
every one else concerned would be only too glad if the project for
building a road between London and Brighton, exclusively for motor
traffic, were likely to be realised. Then ordinary users of the highway
might once more be able to discern the natural scenery of the road, at
present obscured with dust-clouds.

The text for these remarks is furnished by the recent closing, after a
hundred and fifty years or more, of the once chief inn of Cuckfield: the
fine and stately "Talbot," now empty and "To Let"; the hospitable
quotation "You're welcome, what's your will," from _The Merry Wives of
Windsor_ on its fanlight, reading like a bitter mockery.

The interior of Cuckfield Church is crowded with monuments of the
Sergisons and the Burrells. Pride of place is given in the chancel to the
monument of Charles Sergison, who died in 1732, aged 78. It is a very fine
white marble monument, with a figure of Truth gazing into her mirror, and
holding with one hand a medallion partly supported by a Cupid,
displaying a portrait of the lamented Sergison, who, we learn from a
sub-acid inscription, was "Commissioner of the Navy forty-eight years,
till 1719, to the entire satisfaction of the King and his Ministers." "The
civil government of the Navy then being put into military hands, he was
esteemed by them not a fit person to serve any longer." He was, in short,
like those "rulers of the Queen's (or King's) Navee" satirised by Sir W.
S. Gilbert in modern times, and "never went to sea." At the period of his
compulsory retirement it seems to have rather belatedly occurred to the
authorities that such an one could not be well acquainted with the needs
of the Navy; so the "Capacity, Penetration, exact Judgment" of this "true
patriot" were shelved; but, at any rate, he had had his whack, and it was
surely high time for the exact judgment, true patriotism, capacity and
penetration of others to have a chance of making something out of the
nation.

[Illustration: THE ROAD OUT OF CUCKFIELD.]

A few monuments are hidden behind the organ, among them one to Guy
Carleton, "son of George, Lord Bishop of Chichester." He, it seems, "died
of a consumption, cl=c=l=c=cxxiv," which appears to be the highly esoteric
way of writing 1624. "_Mors vitæ initium_" he tells us, and illustrates it
with the pleasing fancy of a skull mounted on an hour-glass, with ears of
wheat sprouting from the eyeless sockets. Other equally pleasant devices,
encircled with fragments of Greek, are plentiful, the whole concluding
with the announcement that "The end of all things is at hand." Holding
that opinion, it would seem to have been hardly worth while to erect the
monument, but in the result it survives to show what a very gross mistake
he made.

Two illustrations of the quiet annals of Cuckfield, widely different in
point of time, are the old clock and the wall-plate memorial to one Frank
Bleach of the Royal Sussex Volunteer Company, who died at Bloemfontein in
1901. The ancient hand-wrought clock, made in 1667 by Isaac Leney,
probably of Cuckfield, finally stopped in 1867, and was taken down in
1873. After lying as lumber in the belfry for many years, it was in 1904
fixed on the interior wall of the tower.



XXVII


[Sidenote: "ROOKWOOD"]

Cuckfield Place, acknowledged by Harrison Ainsworth to be the original of
his "Rookwood," stands immediately outside the town, and is visible, in
midst of the park, from the road. That romantic home of ghostly tradition
is fittingly approached by a long and lofty avenue of limes, where stands
the clock-tower entrance-gate, removed from Slaugham Place.

Beyond it the picturesquely broken surface of the park stretches,
beautifully wooded and populated with herds of deer, the grey, many-gabled
mansion looking down upon the whole.

[Sidenote: AINSWORTH]

"Rookwood," the fantastic and gory tale that first gave Harrison Ainsworth
a vogue, was commenced in 1831, but not completed until 1834. Ainsworth
died at Reigate, January 3, 1882. Thus in his preface he acknowledges his
model:

"The supernatural occurrence forming the groundwork of one of the ballads
which I have made the harbinger of doom to the house of Rookwood, is
ascribed by popular superstition to a family resident in Sussex, upon
whose estate the fatal tree (a gigantic lime, with mighty arms and huge
girth of trunk, as described in the song) is still carefully preserved.
Cuckfield Place, to which this singular piece of timber is attached, is, I
may state for the benefit of the curious, the real Rookwood Hall; for I
have not drawn upon imagination, but upon memory in describing the seat
and domains of that fated family. The general features of the venerable
structure, several of its chambers, the old garden, and, in particular,
the noble park, with its spreading prospects, its picturesque views of the
hall, 'like bits of Mrs. Radcliffe' (as the poet Shelley once observed of
the same scene), its deep glades, through which the deer come lightly
tripping down, its uplands, slopes, brooks, brakes, coverts, and groves
are carefully delineated."

[Illustration: CUCKFIELD PLACE.]

"Like Mrs. Radcliffe!" That romance is indeed written in the peculiar
convention which obtained with her, with Horace Walpole, with Maturin, and
"Monk" Lewis; a convention of Gothic gloom and superstition, delighting in
gore and apparitions, responsible for the "Mysteries of Udolpho," "The
Italian," "The Monk," and other highly seasoned reading of the early years
of the nineteenth century. Ainsworth deliberately modelled his manner upon
Mrs. Radcliffe, changing the scenes of his desperate deeds from her
favourite Italy to our own land. His pages abound in apparitions,
death-watches, highwaymen, "pistols for two and breakfasts for one,"
daggers, poison-bowls, and burials alive, and, with a little literary
ability added to his horribles, his would be a really hair-raising
romance. But the blood he ladles out so plentifully is only coloured
water; his spectres are only illuminated turnips on broomsticks; his
verses so deplorable, his witticisms so hobnailed that even schoolboys
refuse any longer to be thrilled. He "wants to make yer blood run cold,"
but he not infrequently raises a hearty laugh instead. It would be
impossible to burlesque "Rookwood"; it burlesques itself, and shall be
allowed to do so here, from the point where Alan Rookwood visits the
family vault, to his tragic end:

[Illustration: THE CLOCK-TOWER AND HAUNTED AVENUE, CUCKFIELD PLACE.]

[Illustration: HARRISON AINSWORTH. _From the Fraser portrait._]

"He then walked beneath the shadow of one of the yews, chanting an odd
stanza or so of one of his wild staves, wrapped the while, it would seem,
in affectionate contemplation of the subject-matter of his song:

  THE CHURCHYARD YEW.

      '----Metuendaque succo
        Taxus.'

  A noxious tree is the churchyard yew,
  As if from the dead its sap it drew;
  Dark are its branches, and dismal to see,
  Like plumes at Death's latest solemnity.
  Spectral and jagged, and black as the wings
  Which some spirit of ill o'er a sepulchre flings:
  Oh! a terrible tree is the churchyard yew;
  Like it is nothing so grimly to view.

  Yet this baleful tree hath a core so sound,
  Can nought so tough in a grove be found:
  From it were fashioned brave English bows,
  The boast of our isle, and the dread of its foes.
  For our sturdy sires cut their stoutest staves
  From the branch that hung o'er their fathers' graves;
  And though it be dreary and dismal to view,
  Staunch at the heart is the churchyard yew.

"His ditty concluded, Alan entered the church, taking care to leave the
door slightly ajar, in order to facilitate his grandson's entrance. For an
instant he lingered in the chancel. The yellow moonlight fell upon the
monuments of his race; and, directed by the instinct of hate, Alan's eye
rested upon the gilded entablature of his perfidious brother Reginald, and
muttering curses, 'not loud, but deep,' he passed on. Having lighted his
lantern in no tranquil mood, he descended into the vault, observing a
similar caution with respect to the portal of the cemetery, which he left
partially unclosed, with the key in the lock. Here he resolved to abide
Luke's coming. The reader knows what probability there was of his
expectations being realised.

[Sidenote: FARCICAL ROMANCE]

"For a while he paced the tomb, wrapped in gloomy meditation, and
pondering, it might be, upon the result of Luke's expedition, and the
fulfilment of his own dark schemes, scowling from time to time beneath his
bent eyebrows, counting the grim array of coffins, and noticing, with
something like satisfaction, that the shell which contained the remains of
his daughter had been restored to its former position. He then bethought
him of Father Checkley's midnight intrusion upon his conference with Luke,
and their apprehension of a supernatural visitation, and his curiosity was
stimulated to ascertain by what means the priest had gained admission to
the spot unperceived and unheard. He resolved to sound the floor, and see
whether any secret entrance existed; and hollowly and dully did the hard
flagging return the stroke of his heel as he pursued his scrutiny. At
length the metallic ringing of an iron plate, immediately behind the
marble effigy of Sir Ranulph, resolved the point. There it was that the
priest had found access to the vault; but Alan's disappointment was
excessive when he discovered that this plate was fastened on the
under-side, and all communication thence with the churchyard, or to
wherever else it might conduct him, cut off; but the present was not the
season for further investigation, and tolerably pleased with the discovery
he had already made, he returned to his silent march around the sepulchre.

"At length a sound, like the sudden shutting of the church door, broke
upon the profound stillness of the holy edifice. In the hush that
succeeded a footstep was distinctly heard threading the aisle.

"'He comes--he comes!' exclaimed Alan joyfully; adding, an instant after,
in an altered voice, 'but he comes alone.'

"The footstep drew near to the mouth of the vault--it was upon the stairs.
Alan stepped forward to greet, as he supposed, his grandson, but started
back in astonishment and dismay as he encountered in his stead Lady
Rookwood. Alan retreated, while the lady advanced, swinging the iron door
after her, which closed with a tremendous clang. Approaching the statue of
the first Sir Ranulph she passed, and Alan then remarked the singular and
terrible expression of her eyes, which appeared to be fixed upon the
statue, or upon some invisible object near it. There was something in her
whole attitude and manner calculated to impress the deepest terror on the
beholder, and Alan gazed upon her with an awe which momently increased.
Lady Rookwood's bearing was as proud and erect as we have formerly
described it to have been, her brow was as haughtily bent, her chiselled
lip as disdainfully curled; but the staring, changeless eye, and the
deep-heaved sob which occasionally escaped her, betrayed how much she was
under the influence of mortal terror. Alan watched her in amazement. He
knew not how the scene was likely to terminate, nor what could have
induced her to visit this ghostly spot at such an hour and alone; but he
resolved to abide the issue in silence--profound as her own. After a time,
however, his impatience got the better of his fears and scruples, and he
spoke.

"'What doth Lady Rookwood in the abode of the dead?' asked he at length.

"She started at the sound of his voice, but still kept her eye fixed upon
the vacancy.

"'Hast thou not beckoned me hither, and am I not come?' returned she, in a
hollow tone. 'And now thou askest wherefore I am here. I am here because,
as in thy life I feared thee not, neither in death do I fear thee. I am
here because----'

"'What seest thou?' interrupted Alan, with ill-suppressed terror.

"'What see I--ha--ha!' shouted Lady Rookwood, amidst discordant laughter;
'that which might appal a heart less stout than mine--a figure
anguish-writhen, with veins that glow as with a subtle and consuming
flame. A substance, yet a shadow, in thy living likeness. Ha--frown if
thou wilt; I can return thy glances.'

[Sidenote: MELODRAMA POUR RIRE]

"'Where dost thou see this vision?' demanded Alan.

"'Where?' echoed Lady Rookwood, becoming for the first time sensible of
the presence of a stranger. 'Ha--who are you that question me?--what are
you?--speak!'

"'No matter who or what I am,' returned Alan; 'I ask you what you behold?'

"'Can you see nothing?'

"'Nothing,' replied Alan.

"'You knew Sir Piers Rookwood?'

"'Is it he?' asked Alan, drawing near her.

"'It is,' replied Lady Rookwood; 'I have followed him hither, and I will
follow him whithersoever he leads me, were it to----'

"'What doth he now?' asked Alan; 'do you see him still?'

"'The figure points to that sarcophagus,' returned Lady Rookwood--'can you
raise up the lid?'

"'No,' replied Alan; 'my strength will not avail to lift it.'

"'Yet let the trial be made,' said Lady Rookwood; 'the figure points there
still--my own arm shall aid you.'

"Alan watched her in dumb wonder. She advanced towards the marble
monument, and beckoned him to follow. He reluctantly complied. Without any
expectation of being able to move the ponderous lid of the sarcophagus, at
Lady Rookwood's renewed request he applied himself to the task. What was
his surprise when, beneath their united efforts, he found the ponderous
slab slowly revolve upon its vast hinges, and, with little further
difficulty, it was completely elevated, though it still required the
exertion of all Alan's strength to prop it open and prevent its falling
back.

"'What does it contain?' asked Lady Rookwood.

"'A warrior's ashes,' returned Alan.

"'There is a rusty dagger upon a fold of faded linen,' cried Lady
Rookwood, holding down the light.

"'It is the weapon with which the first dame of the house of Rookwood was
stabbed,' said Alan, with a grim smile:

  'Which whoso findeth in the tomb
  Shall clutch until the hour of doom;
  And when 'tis grasped by hand of clay
  The curse of blood shall pass away.

So saith the rhyme. Have you seen enough?'

"'No,' said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself into the marble coffin.
'That weapon shall be mine.'

"'Come forth--come forth,' cried Alan. 'My arm trembles--I cannot support
the lid.'

"'I will have it, though I grasp it to eternity,' shrieked Lady Rookwood,
vainly endeavouring to wrest away the dagger, which was fastened, together
with the linen upon which it lay, by some adhesive substance to the bottom
of the shell.

"At this moment Alan Rookwood happened to cast his eye upward, and he
then beheld what filled him with new terror. The axe of the sable statue
was poised above its head, as in the act to strike him. Some secret
machinery, it was evident, existed between the sarcophagus lid and this
mysterious image. But in the first impulse of his alarm Alan abandoned his
hold of the slab, and it sunk slowly downwards. He uttered a loud cry as
it moved. Lady Rookwood heard this cry. She raised herself at the same
moment--the dagger was in her hand--she pressed it against the lid, but
its downward force was too great to be withstood. The light was within the
sarcophagus and Alan could discern her features. The expression was
terrible. She uttered one shriek, and the lid closed for ever.

"Alan was in total darkness. The light had been enclosed with Lady
Rookwood. There was something so horrible in her probable fate that even
_he_ shuddered as he thought upon it. Exerting all his remaining strength,
he essayed to raise the lid; but now it was more firmly closed than ever.
It defied all his power. Once, for an instant, he fancied that it yielded
to his straining sinews, but it was only his hand that slided upon the
surface of the marble. It was fixed--immovable. The sides and lid rang
with the strokes which the unfortunate lady bestowed upon them with the
dagger's point; but these sounds were not long heard. Presently all was
still; the marble ceased to vibrate with her blows. Alan struck the lid
with his knuckles, but no response was returned. All was silent.

[Sidenote: FRENZY]

"He now turned his attention to his own situation, which had become
sufficiently alarming. An hour must have elapsed, yet Luke had not
arrived. The door of the vault was closed--the key was in the lock, and on
the outside. He was himself a prisoner within the tomb. What if Luke
should _not_ return? What if he were slain, as it might chance, in the
enterprise? That thought flashed across his brain like an electric shock.
None knew of his retreat but his grandson. He might perish of famine
within this desolate vault.

"He checked this notion as soon as it was formed--it was too dreadful to
be indulged in. A thousand circumstances might conspire to detain Luke. He
was sure to come. Yet the solitude, the darkness, was awful, almost
intolerable. The dying and the dead were around him. He dared not stir.

"Another hour--an age it seemed to him--had passed. Still Luke came not.
Horrible forebodings crossed him; but he would not surrender himself to
them. He rose, and crawled in the direction, as he supposed, of the
door--fearful even of the stealthy sound of his own footsteps. He reached
it, and his heart once more throbbed with hope. He bent his ear to the
key; he drew in his breath; he listened for some sound, but nothing was to
be heard. A groan would have been almost music in his ears.

"Another hour was gone! He was now a prey to the most frightful
apprehensions, agitated in turns by the wildest emotions of rage and
terror. He at one moment imagined that Luke had abandoned him, and heaped
curses upon his head; at the next, convinced that he had fallen, he
bewailed with equal bitterness his grandson's fate and his own. He paced
the tomb like one distracted; he stamped upon the iron plate; he smote
with his hands upon the door; he shouted, and the vault hollowly echoed
his lamentations. But Time's sand ran on, and Luke arrived not.

"Alan now abandoned himself wholly to despair. He could no longer
anticipate his grandson's coming--no longer hope for deliverance. His fate
was sealed. Death awaited him. He must anticipate his slow but inevitable
stroke, enduring all the grinding horrors of starvation. The contemplation
of such an end was madness, but he was forced to contemplate it now; and
so appalling did it appear to his imagination, that he half resolved to
dash out his brains against the walls of the sepulchre, and put an end at
once to his tortures; and nothing, except a doubt whether he might not, by
imperfectly accomplishing his purpose, increase his own suffering,
prevented him from putting this dreadful idea into execution. His dagger
was gone, and he had no other weapon. Terrors of a new kind now assailed
him. The dead, he fancied, were bursting from their coffins, and he
peopled the darkness with grisly phantoms. They were round about him on
each side, whirling and rustling, gibbering, groaning, shrieking,
laughing, and lamenting. He was stunned, stifled. The air seemed to grow
suffocating, pestilential; the wild laughter was redoubled; the horrible
troop assailed him; they dragged him along the tomb, and amid their howls
he fell, and became insensible.

[Sidenote: TORMENT]

"When he returned to himself, it was some time before he could collect his
scattered faculties; and when the agonising consciousness of his terrible
situation forced itself upon his mind, he had nigh relapsed into oblivion.
He arose. He rushed towards the door: he knocked against it with his
knuckles till the blood streamed from them; he scratched against it with
his nails till they were torn off by the roots. With insane fury he
hurled himself against the iron frame: it was in vain. Again he had
recourse to the trap-door. He searched for it; he found it. He laid
himself upon the ground. There was no interval of space in which he could
insert a finger's point. He beat it with his clenched hand; he tore it
with his teeth; he jumped upon it; he smote it with his heel. The iron
returned a sullen sound.

"He again essayed the lid of the sarcophagus. Despair nerved his strength.
He raised the slab a few inches. He shouted, screamed, but no answer was
returned; and again the lid fell.

"'She is dead!' cried Alan. 'Why have I not shared her fate? But mine is
to come. And such a death!--oh, oh!' And, frenzied at the thought, he
again hurried to the door, and renewed his fruitless attempts to escape,
till nature gave way, and he sank upon the floor, groaning and exhausted.

"Physical suffering now began to take the place of his mental tortures.
Parched and consumed with a fierce internal fever, he was tormented by
unappeasable thirst--of all human ills the most unendurable. His tongue
was dry and dusty, his throat inflamed; his lips had lost all moisture. He
licked the humid floor; he sought to imbibe the nitrous drops from the
walls; but, instead of allaying his thirst, they increased it. He would
have given the world, had he possessed it, for a draught of cold
spring-water. Oh, to have died with his lips upon some bubbling fountain's
marge! But to perish thus!

"Nor were the pangs of hunger wanting. He had to endure all the horrors of
famine as well as the agonies of quenchless thirst.

"In this dreadful state three days and nights passed over Alan's fated
head. Nor night nor day had he. Time, with him, was only measured by its
duration, and that seemed interminable. Each hour added to his suffering,
and brought with it no relief. During this period of prolonged misery
reason often tottered on her throne. Sometimes he was under the influence
of the wildest passions. He dragged coffins from their recesses, hurled
them upon the ground, striving to break them open and drag forth their
loathsome contents. Upon other occasions he would weep bitterly and
wildly; and once--once only--did he attempt to pray; but he started from
his knees with an echo of infernal laughter, as he deemed, ringing in his
ears. Then, again, would he call down imprecations upon himself and his
whole line, trampling upon the pile of coffins he had reared; and, lastly,
more subdued, would creep to the boards that contained the body of his
child, kissing them with a frantic outbreak of affection.

"At length he became sensible of his approaching dissolution. To him the
thought of death might well be terrible; but he quailed not before it, or
rather seemed, in his latest moments, to resume all his wonted firmness of
character. Gathering together his remaining strength, he dragged himself
towards the niche wherein his brother, Sir Reginald Rookwood, was
deposited, and, placing his hand upon the coffin, solemnly exclaimed, 'My
curse--my dying curse--be upon thee evermore!'

"Falling with his face upon the coffin, Alan instantly expired. In this
attitude his remains were discovered."

How to repress a smile at the picture conjured up of Lady Rookwood
"precipitating herself into the marble coffin"! How not to refrain from
laughing at the fantastic description of Alan piling up coffins in the
vault and jumping upon them!



XXVIII


Half a mile below Cuckfield stands Ansty Cross, (the "Handstay" of old
road-books, and said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon, _Heanstige_, meaning
highway), a cluster of a few cottages and the "Green Cross" inn, once old
and picturesque, now rebuilt in the Ready-made Picturesque order of
architecture. Here stood one of the numerous turnpike-gates.

Close by is Riddens Farm, a picturesque little homestead, with tile-hung
front and clustered chimneys. It still contains one of those old Sussex
cast-iron firebacks mentioned in an earlier page, dated 1622.

Below Ansty, two miles or thereby down the road, the little river Adur is
passed at Bridge Farm, and the twin towns of St. John's Common and Burgess
Hill are reached.

Before 1820 their sites were fields and common land, wild and
gorse-covered, free and open. Few houses were then in sight; the "Anchor"
inn, by Burgess Hill, the reputed haunt of smugglers, who stored their
contraband in the woods and heaths close by; and the "King's Head," at St.
John's Common, with two or three cottages--these were all.

[Illustration: OLD SUSSEX FIREBACK, RIDDENS FARM.]

[Sidenote: BURGESS HILL]

St. John's Common, partly in Keymer and partly in Clayton parishes, was
enclosed piecemeal, between 1828 and 1855, by an arrangement between the
lords of the manors and the copyholders, who divided the plunder between
them, when this large tract of land resently became the site of these
towns of St. John's Common and Burgess Hill, which sprang up, if not with
quite the rapidity of a Californian mining-town, at least with a celerity
previously unknown in England. Their rapid rise was of course due to the
Brighton Railway and its station. There are, however, nowadays not
wanting signs, quite apart from the condition of the brick and tile and
drainpipe-making industry, on which the two mushroom towns have come into
being, that the unlovely places are in a bad way. Shops closed and vainly
offered "to let" tell a story of artificial expansion and consequent
depression: the inevitable Nemesis of discounting the future.

[Illustration: JACOB'S POST.]

I will show you what the site of these uninviting modern places was like,
a hundred years ago. It is not far, geographically, from the sorry streets
of Burgess Hill to the wild, wide commons of Wivelsfield and Ditchling;
but such a change is wrought in two miles and a half as would be
considered impossible by any who have not made the excursion into those
beautiful regions. They show us, in survival, what the now hackneyed main
roads were like three generations ago.

[Sidenote: JACOB'S POST]

In every circumstance Ditchling Common recalls the "Crackskull Commons" of
the eighteenth-century comedies, for it has a little horror of its own in
the shape of an authentic fragment of a gibbet. This is the silent
reminder of a crime committed near at hand, at the "Royal Oak" inn,
Wivelsfield, in 1734. In that year Jacob Harris, a Jew pedlar, came to the
inn and, stabling his horse, attacked Miles, the landlord, while he was
grooming the animal down, and cut his throat. The servant-maid, hearing a
disturbance in the stable, and coming downstairs to see the cause of it,
was murdered in the same way, and then the Jew calmly walked upstairs and
slaughtered the landlord's wife, who was lying ill in bed. None of these
unfortunate people died at once. The two women expired the same night, but
Miles lived long enough to identify the assassin, who was hanged at
Horsham, his body being hung in chains from this gibbet, ever since known
as Jacob's Post.

Pieces of wood from this gallows-tree were long and highly esteemed by
country-folk as charms, and were often carried about with them as
preventatives of all manner of accidents and diseases; indeed, its present
meagre proportions are due to this practice and belief.

The post is fenced with a wooden rail, and is surmounted by the quaint
iron effigy of a rooster, pierced with the date, 1734, in old-fashioned
figures.

It is a lonely spot, with but one cottage near at hand: the common
undulating away for miles until it reaches close to the grey barrier of
the noble South Downs, rising magnificently in the distance.



XXIX


Returning to the exploited main road. Friar's Oak is soon reached. It was
selected by Sir Conan Doyle as one of the scenes of his Regency story,
"Rodney Stone"; but since the year 1900, when the old inn was rebuilt, the
spot has become an eyesore to those who knew it of old.

No one knows why Friar's Oak is so called, and "Nothing is ever known
about anything on the roads," is the intemperate exclamation that rises to
the lips of the disappointed explorer. But wild legends, as usual, supply
the place of facts, and the old oak that stands opposite the inn is said
to have been the spot where a friar, or friars, distributed alms. To any
one who knows even the least about friars, this story would at once carry
its own condemnation; but a friar, or a hermit, may have solicited alms
here. At any rate, the old inn used to exhibit a very forbidding "friar of
orders grey" as its sign, dancing beneath the oak. Stolen many years ago,
it was subsequently discovered in London by the merest accident, was
purchased for a trifling sum, and restored to its bereft signpost. The
innkeeper, however, thinking that what befell once might happen again,
hung the cherished panel within the house, where it remains to this day.

From Friar's Oak it is but a step to that newest creation among Brighton's
suburbs, Clayton Park, its clustering red-brick villas, building estates,
and half-formed roads adjoining the station of Hassocks Gate, which, by
the way, the railway authorities have long since reduced to "Hassocks."
The name recalls certain dusty contrivances of straw and carpeting
artfully contrived for the devout to stumble over in church. But, not to
incur the suspicion of tripping over the name as here applied, it may be
mentioned that "hassock" is the Anglo-Saxon name for a coppice or small
wood; and there are really many of these at and around Hassocks Gate to
this day.

[Sidenote: TURNPIKE GATES]

At Stonepound a road leads on the right to Hurstpierpoint, which is too
big a mouthful for general use, and so is locally "Hurst." The Pierpoints,
whose name is embedded in that of the place, like an ammonite in a
geological stratum, were long since as extinct as those other Normans, the
Monceaux of Hurstmonceaux, and are what Americans would term a "back
number."

  ............................
  .    Stone Pound Gate      .
  .   Clears Patcham Gate    .
  .St. John's and Ansty Gates.
  .            Y             .
  ............................

  ............................
  .      Patcham Gate        .
  . Clears Stone Pound Gate, .
  .St. John's and Ansty Gates.
  .          126             .
  ............................

Stonepound Gate was one of the nine that at one time barred the Brighton
Road, and the last but one on the way. It will be seen, by the specimens
of turnpike-tickets reprinted here, that at one time, at least, the burden
of the tolls was not quite so heavy as the mere number of the gates would
lead a casual observer to suppose, a ticket taken at Ansty "clearing" the
remaining distance, through three other gates, to Brighton. But it was
necessary for the traveller to know his way about, and, if he were going
through, to ask for a ticket to clear to Brighton; else the pikeman would
issue a ticket, which cost just as much, to the next gate only, when
another payment would be demanded. These were "tricks upon travellers"
familiar to every road, and they earned the pikemen, as a class, a very
unenviable reputation.

It was here, in the great Christmas Eve snowstorm of 1836, that the London
mail was snowed up. Its adventures illustrate the uncertainty of
travelling the roads.

In those days you took your seat on your particular fancy in coaches, and
paid your sixteen-shilling fare from London to Brighton, or _vice versa_,
trusting (yet with heaviness of heart) in Providence to bring you to a
happy issue from all the many dangers and discomforts of travelling.
Occasionally it was brought home, by storm and flood, to those learned
enough to know it, that "travelling" derived originally from "travail,"
and the discomforts of leaving one's own fireside in the winter are
emphasized and underscored in the particulars of what befell at Stonepound
in the great snowstorm of December 24th, 1836--a storm that paralysed
communications throughout the kingdom.

"The Brighton up-mail of Sunday had travelled about eight miles from that
town, when it fell into a drift of snow, from which it was impossible to
extricate it without assistance. The guard immediately set off to obtain
all necessary aid, but when he returned no trace whatever could be found,
either of the coach, coachman or passengers, three in number. After much
difficulty the coach was found, but could not be extricated from the
hollow into which it had got. The guard did not reach London until seven
o'clock on Tuesday night, having been obliged to travel with the bags on
horseback, and in many instances to leave the main road and proceed
across fields in order to avoid the deep drifts of snow.

"The passengers, coachman, and guard slept at Clayton, seven miles from
Brighton. The road from Hand Cross was quite impassable. The non-arrival
of the mail at Crawley induced the postmaster there to send a man in a gig
to ascertain the cause on Monday afternoon, and no tidings being heard of
man, gig, or horse for several hours, another man was despatched on
horseback. After a long search he found horse and gig completely built up
in the snow. The man was in an exhausted state. After considerable
difficulty the horse and gig were extricated, and the party returned to
Crawley. The man had learned no tidings of the mail, and refused to go out
again on any such exploring mission."

The Brighton mail from London, too, reached Crawley, but was compelled to
return.

[Sidenote: CLAYTON TUNNEL ACCIDENT]

Such were the incidents upon which the Christmas stories, of the type
brought into favour by Dickens, were built, but the stories are better to
read than the incidents to experience. I am retrospectively sorry for
those passengers who thus lost their Christmas dinners; but after all, it
was better to miss the turkey and the Christmas pudding than to be "mashed
into a pummy" in railway accidents, such as the awful heart-shaking series
of collisions which took place on Sunday, August 25th, 1861, in the
railway tunnel through Clayton Hill. On that day, in that gloomy place,
twenty-four persons lost their lives, and one hundred and seventy-five
were injured.

Three trains were timed to leave Brighton station on that fatal morning,
two of them filled to crowding with excursionists; the other, an ordinary
train, well filled and bound for London. Their times for starting were 8,
8.5, and 8.30 respectively, but owing to delays occasioned by press of
traffic, they did not set out until considerably later, at 8.28, 8.31, and
8.35. At such terribly short intervals were they started, in times when
no block system existed to render such close following comparatively safe.

Clayton Tunnel was already considered a dangerous place, and there was
situated at either end (north and south entrances) a signal-cabin
furnished with telegraphic instruments and signal apparatus, by which the
signalman at one end of the tunnel could communicate with his fellow at
the other, and could notify "train in" or "train out" as might happen.
This practically formed a primitive sort of "block system," especially
devised for use in this mile and a quarter's dark burrow.

A "self-acting" signal placed in the cutting some distance from the
southern entrance was supposed, upon the passage of every train, to set
itself at "danger" for any following, until placed at "line clear" from
the nearest cabin, but on this occasion the first train passed in, and the
self-acting signal failed to act.

The second train, following upon the heels of the first, passed all
unsuspecting, and dashed from daylight into the tunnel's mouth, the
signalman, who had not received a message from the other end of the tunnel
being clear, frantically waving his red flag to stop it. This signal
apparently unnoticed by the driver, the train passed in.

At this moment the third train came into view, and at the same time the
signalman was advised of the tunnel being clear of the first. Meanwhile,
the driver of the second train, who _had_ noticed the red flag, was,
unknown to the signalman, backing his train out again. A message was sent
to the north cabin for it, "train in"; but the man there, thinking this to
be a mere repetition of the first, replied, "train out," referring, of
course, to the first train.

The tunnel being to the southern signalman apparently clear, the third
train was allowed to proceed, and met, midway, away from daylight, the
retreating second train. The collision was terrible; the two rearward
carriages of the second train were smashed to pieces, and the engine of
the third, reared upon their wreck, poured fire and steam and scalding
water upon the poor wretches who, wounded but not killed by the impact,
were struggling to free themselves from the splintered and twisted remains
of the two carriages.

The heap of wreckage was piled up to the roof of the tunnel, whose
interior presented a dreadful scene, the engine fire throwing a wild glare
around, but partly obscured by the blinding, scalding clouds of steam;
while this suddenly created Inferno resounded with the prayers, shrieks,
shouts, and curses of injured and scatheless alike, all fearful of the
coming of another train to add to the already sufficiently hideous ruin.

Fortunately no further catastrophe occurred; but nothing of horror was
wanting, neither in the magnitude nor in the circumstances of the
disaster, which long remained in the memories of those who read and was
impossible ever to be forgotten by those who witnessed it.



XXX


[Sidenote: THE SOUTH DOWNS]

From these levels at Stonepound the South Downs come full upon the view,
crowned at Clayton Hill with windmills. Ditchling Beacon to the left, and
the more commanding height of Wolstonbury to the extreme right, flank this
great wall of earth, chalk, and grass--Wolstonbury semicircular in outline
and bare, save only for some few clumps of yellow gorse and other small
bushes.

Just where the road bends, and, crossing the railway, begins to climb
Clayton Hill, the Gothic, battlemented entrance to Clayton Tunnel looms
with a kind of scowling picturesqueness, well suited to its dark history,
continually vomiting steam and smoke, like a hell's mouth.

Above it rises the hill, with telegraph-poles and circular brick
ventilating-shafts going in a long perspective above the chalky cutting
in the road; and on the left hand the little rustic church of Clayton,
humbly crouching under the lee of the downs.

"Clayton Hill!" It was a word of dread among cyclists until, say, the year
1900, when rim-and back-pedalling brakes superseded the inefficient
spoon-brake, acting on the front tyre. Coming from Brighton, the hill
drops steeply into the Weald of Sussex, and not only steeply, but the road
takes a sudden and perilous turn over the railway bridge, at the foot of
the descent, precisely where descending vehicles not under control attain
their greatest speed. Here many a cyclist has been flung against the brick
wall of the bridge, and his machine broken and himself injured; and seven
have met their death here. Even in these days of good brakes a fatality
has occurred, a cyclist being killed in November, 1902, in a collision
with a trap.

From the summit of the downs the Weald is seen, spread out like a
pictorial map, the little houses, the little trees, the ribbon-like roads
looking like dainty models; the tiny trains moving out of Noah's Ark
stations and vehicles crawling the highways like objects in a minature
land of make-believe. Looking southward, Brighton is seen--a pillar of
smoke by day, a glowing, twinkling light at evening: but for all it is so
near, it has very little affected the old pastoral country life of the
downland villages. The shepherds, carrying as of yore their Pyecombe
crooks, still tend huge flocks of sheep, and the dull and hollow music of
the sheep-bells remains as ever the characteristic sound of the district.
Next year the sheep will be shorn, just as they were when the Saxon churls
worked for their Norman masters, and, unless a cataclysm of nature
happens, they will continue so to be shorn centuries hence.

[Illustration: CLAYTON TUNNEL.]

But the shepherds have ceased to be vocal with the sheep-shearing songs of
yore; it seems that their modern accomplishment of being able to read has
stricken them dumb. Neither the words nor the airs of the old
shearing-songs will ever again awaken the echoes in the daytime, nor make
the roomy interiors of barns ring o' nights, as they were wont to do
lang-syne, when the convivial shearing supper was held, and the ale hummed
in the cup, and, later in the evening, in the head also.

But the Sussex peasant is by no means altogether bereft of his ancient
ways. He is, in the more secluded districts, still a South Saxon; for the
county, until comparatively recent times remote and difficult, plunged in
its sloughs and isolated by reason of its forests, has no manufactures,
and the rural parts do not attract immigrants from the shires, to leaven
his peculiarities. The Sussex folk are still rooted firmly in what Drayton
calls their "queachy ground." Words of Saxon origin are still the staple
of the country talk; folk-tales, told in times when the South Saxon
kingdom was yet a power of the Heptarchy, exist in remote corners,
currently with the latest ribald song from the London halls; superstitions
linger, as may be proved by he who pursues his inquiries judiciously, and
thought moves slowly still in the bucolic mind.

The Norman Conquest left few traces upon the population, and the peasant
is still the Saxon he ever has been; his occupations, too, tend to
slowness of speech and mind. The Sussex man is by the very rarest chance
engaged in any manufacturing industries. He is by choice and by force of
circumstances ploughman, woodman, shepherd, market-gardener, or carter,
and is become heavy as his soil, and curiously old-world in habit. All
which traits are delightful to the preternaturally sharp Londoner, whose
nerves occupy the most important place in his being. These country folk
are new and interesting creatures for study to him who is weary of that
acute product of civilisation--the London arab.

[Sidenote: OLD SUSSEX WAYS]

Sussex ways are, many of them, still curiously patriarchal. But a few
years ago, and ploughing was commonly performed in these fields by oxen.

[Illustration: CLAYTON CHURCH AND THE SOUTH DOWNS.]

Their cottages that, until a few years ago, were the same as ever, have
recently been very largely rebuilt, much to the sorrow of those who love
the picturesque. They were thatched, for the most part, or tiled, or
roofed with stone slabs. A living-room with yawning fireplace and
capacious settle was the chief feature of them. The floor was covered with
red bricks. When the settle was drawn up to the cheerful blaze the
interior was cosy. But many of the most picturesque cottages were damp and
insanitary, and although they pleased the artist to look at, it by no
means followed that they would have contented him to live in.

Outside, in the garden, grew homely flowers and useful vegetables, and
perhaps by the gnarled apple-tree there stood in the sun a row of
bee-hives. Sussex superstition declared that they might, indeed, be
purchased, but not for silver:

  If you wish your bees to thrive,
  Gold must be paid for ev'ry hive;
  For when they're bought with other money,
  There will be neither swarm nor honey.

The year was one long round of superstitious customs and observances, and
it is not without them, even now. But superstition is shy and not visible
on the surface.

In January began the round, for from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Day was the
proper time for "worsling," that is "wassailing" the orchards, but more
particularly the apple-trees. The country-folk would gather round the
trees and chant in chorus, rapping the trunks the while with sticks:

  Stand fast root, bear well top;
  Pray, good God, send us a howling crop
  Ev'ry twig, apples big;
  Ev'ry bough, apples enow';
  Hats full, caps full,
  Full quarters, sacks full.

These wassailing folk were generally known as "howlers"; "doubtless
rightly," says a Sussex archæologist, "for real old Sussex music is in a
minor key, and can hardly be distinguished from howling." This knowledge
enlightens our reading of the pages of the Rev. Giles Moore, of Horsted
Keynes, when he records: "1670, 26th Dec., I gave the howling boys 6d.;" a
statement which, if not illumined by acquaintance with these old customs,
would be altogether incomprehensible.

Then, if mud were brought into the house in the month of January, the
cleanly housewife, at other times jealous of her spotless floors, would
have nothing of reproof to say, for was this not "January butter." and the
harbinger of luck to all beneath the roof-tree?

Saints' days, too, had their observances; the habits of bird and beast
were the almanacs and weather warnings of the villagers, all innocent of
any other meteorological department, and they have been handed down in
doggerel rhyme, like this of the Cuckoo, to the present day:

  In April he shows his bill,
  In May he sings o' night and day,
  In June he'll change his tune,
  By July prepare to fly,
  By August away he must.
  If he stay till September,
  'Tis as much as the oldest man
  Can ever remember.

If he stayed till September, he might possibly see a sight which no mere
human eye ever beheld: he might observe a practice to which old Sussex
folk know the Evil One to be addicted. For on Old Michaelmas Day, October
10th, the Devil goes round the country, and--dirty devil--spits on the
blackberries. Should any persons eat one on October 11th, they, or some
one of their kin, will surely die or fall into great trouble before the
close of the year.

Sussex has neither the imaginative Celtic race of Cornwall nor that
county's fantastic scenery to inspire legends; but is it at all wonderful
that old beliefs die hard in a county so inaccessible as this has hitherto
been? We have read travellers' tales of woful happenings on the road; hear
now Defoe, who is writing in the year 1724, of another proof of heavy
going on the highways: "I saw," says he, "an ancient lady, and a lady of
very good quality, I assure you, drawn to church in her coach by six oxen;
nor was it done in frolic or humour, but from sheer necessity, the way
being so stiff and deep that no horses could go in it." All which says
much for the piety of this ancient lady. Only a few years later, in 1729,
died Dame Judith, widow of Sir Henry Hatsell, who in her will, dated
January 10th, 1728, directed that her body should be buried at Preston,
should she happen to die at such a time of year when the roads were
passable; otherwise, at any place her executors might think suitable. It
so happened that she died in the month of June, so compliance with her
wishes was possible.



XXXI


And now to trace the Hickstead and Bolney route from Hand Cross, that
parting of the ways overlooking the most rural parts of Sussex. Hand
Cross, it has already been said, is in the parish of Slaugham, which lies
deep down in a very sequestered wood, where the head-springs issuing from
the hillsides are never dry and the air is always heavy with moisture.
"Slougham-cum-Crolé" is the title of the place in ancient records, "Crolé"
being Crawley. It was from its ancient bogs and morasses that it obtained
its name, pronounced by the natives "Slaffam," and it was certainly due to
them that the magnificent manor-house--almost a palace--of the Coverts,
the old lords of the manor--was deserted and began to fall to pieces so
soon as built.

[Illustration: THE RUINS OF SLAUGHAM PLACE.]

The Coverts, now and long since utterly extinct, were once among the most
powerful, as they were also among the noblest, in the county. They were of
Norman descent, and, to use a well-worn phrase, "came over with the
Conqueror"; but they are not found settled here until towards the close
of the fifteenth century, being preceded, as lords of the manor, by the
Poynings of Poynings, and by the Berkeleys and Stanleys. Sir Walter
Covert, to whose ancestors the manor fell by marriage, was the builder of
that Slaugham Place whose ruins yet remain to show his idea of what was
due to a landed proprietor of his standing. They cover, within their
enclosing walls of red brick, which rise from the yet partly filled moat,
over three acres of what is now orchard and meadowland. In spring the
apple trees bloom pink and white amid the grey and lichen-stained ashlar
of the ruined walls and arches of Palladian architecture, and the lush
grass grows tall around the cold hearths of the roofless rooms. The noble
gateway leads now, not from courtyard to hall, but doorless, with its
massive stones wrenched apart by clinging ivy, stands merely as some sort
of key to the enigma of ground plan presented by walls ruinated in greater
part to the level of the watery turf.

The singular facts of high wall and moat surrounding a mansion of Jacobean
build seem to point to an earlier building, contrived with these defences
when men thought first of security and afterwards of comfort. Some few
mullioned windows of much earlier date than the greater part of the
mansion remain to confirm the thought.

That a building of the magnificence attested by these crumbling walls
should have been allowed to fall into decay so shortly after its
completion is a singular fact. Though the male line of the Coverts failed,
and their estates passed, by the marriage of their womankind, into other
hands, yet their alienation would not necessarily imply the destruction of
their roof-tree. The explanation is to be sought in the situation and
defects of the ground upon which Slaugham Place stood: a marshy tract of
land, which no builder of to-day would think of selecting as a site for so
important a dwelling. Home as it was of swamps and damps, and quashy as it
is even now, it must have been in the past the breeding-ground of agues
and chills innumerable.

[Illustration: THE ENTRANCE: RUINS OF SLAUGHAM PLACE.]

A true exemplar this of that Sussex of which in 1690 a barrister on
circuit, whose profession led him by evil chance into this county, writes
to his wife: "The Sussex ways are bad and ruinous beyond imagination. I
vow 'tis melancholy consideration that mankind will inhabit such a heap of
dirt for a poor livelihood. The county is in a sink of about fourteen
miles broad, which receives all the water that falls from the long ranges
of hills on both sides of it, and not being furnished with convenient
draining, is kept moist and soft by the water till the middle of a dry
summer, which is only able to make it tolerable to ride for a short time."

Such soft and shaky earth as this could not bear the weight of so
ponderous a structure as was Slaugham Place: the swamps pulled its masonry
apart and rotted its fittings. Despairing of victory over the reeking
moisture, its owners left it for healthier sites. Then the rapacity of all
those neighbouring folk who had need of building material completed the
havoc wrought by natural forces, and finally Slaugham Place became what it
is to-day. Its clock-tower was pulled down and removed to Cuckfield Park,
where it now spans the entrance drive of that romantic spot, and its
handsomely carved Jacobean stairway is to-day the pride and glory of the
"Star" Hotel at Lewes.

The Coverts are gone; their heraldic shields, in company of an
architectural frieze of greyhounds' and leopards' heads and skulls of oxen
wreathed in drapery, still decorate what remains of the north front of
their mansion, and their achievements are repeated upon their tombs within
the little church of Slaugham on the hillside. You may, if heraldically
versed, learn from their quarterings into what families they married; but
the deeds they wrought, and their virtues and their vices, are, for the
most part, clean forgotten, even as their name is gone out of the land,
who once, as tradition has it, travelled southward from London to the
sea on their own manors.

[Illustration: BOLNEY.]

The squat, shingled spirelet of Slaugham Church and its decorated
architecture mark the spot where many of this knightly race lie buried. In
the Covert Chapel is the handsome brass of John Covert, who died in 1503;
and in the north wall of the chancel is the canopied altar-tomb of Richard
Covert, the much-married, who died in 1547, and is represented, in company
of three of his four wives, by little brass effigies, together with a
curious brass representing the Saviour rising from the tomb, guarded by
armed knights of weirdly-humorous aspect, the more diverting because
executed all innocent of joke or irreverence.

Here is a rubbing, nothing exaggerated, of one of these guardian knights,
to bear me up.

[Illustration: FROM A BRASS AT SLAUGHAM.]

Another Richard, but twice married, who died in 1579, is commemorated in a
large and elaborate monument in the Covert Chapel, whereon are sculptured,
in an attitude of prayer, Richard himself, his two wives, six sons, and
eight daughters.

Last of the Coverts whose name is perpetuated here is Jane, who deceased
in 1586.

[Illustration: HICKSTEAD PLACE.]

Beside these things, Slaugham claims some interest as containing the
mansion of Ashfold, where once resided Mrs. Matcham, a sister of Nelson.
Indeed, it was while staying here that the Admiral received the summons
which sped him on his last and most glorious and fatal voyage. Slaugham,
too, with St. Leonard's Forest, contributes a title to the peerage, Lord
St. Leonards' creation being of "Slaugham, in the county of Sussex."



XXXII


This route to Brighton is singularly rural and lovely, and particularly
beautiful in the way of copses and wooded hollows, whence streamlets
trickle away to join the river Adur. Villages lie shyly just off its
course, and must be sought, only an occasional inn or smithy, or the
lodge-gates of modern estates called into existence since the making of
the road in 1813, breaking the solitude. The existence of Bolney itself is
only hinted at by the pinnacles of its church tower peering over the
topmost branches of distant trees. "Bowlney," as the countryfolk pronounce
the name, is worth a little detour, for it is a compact, picturesque spot
that might almost have been designed by an artist with a single thought
for pictorial composition, so well do its trees, the houses, old and new,
the church, and the "Eight Bells" inn, group for effect.

Down the road, rather over a mile distant from Bolney, and looking so
remarkably picturesque from the highway that even the least preoccupied
with antiquities must needs stop and admire, is Hickstead Place, a small
but beautiful residence, the seat of Miss Davidson, dating from the time
of Henry the Seventh, with a curious detached building in two floors, of
the same or even somewhat earlier period, on the lawn; remarkable for the
large vitrified bricks in its gables, worked into rough crosses and
supposed to indicate a former use as a chapel. History, however, is silent
that point; but, as the inquirer may discover for himself, it now
fulfils the twin offices of a studio and a lumber room. The parish church
of Twineham, little more than a mile away, is of the same period, and
built of similar materials. Hickstead Place has been in the same family
for close upon four hundred years, and as an old house without much in the
way of a history, and with its ancient features largely retained and
adapted to modern domestic needs, is a striking example both of the
continuity and the placidity of English life. The staircase walls are
frescoed in a blue monochrome with sixteenth-century representations of
field-sports and hunting scenes, very curious and interesting. The roof is
covered with slabs of Horsham stone, and the oak entrance is original.
Ancient yews, among them one clipped to resemble a bear sitting on his
rump, give an air of distinction to the lawn, completed by a pair of
eighteenth-century wrought-iron gates between red brick pillars.

[Illustration: NEWTIMBER PLACE.]

Sayers Common is a modern hamlet, of a few scattered houses. Albourne lies
away to the right. From here the Vale of Newtimber opens out and the South
Downs rise grandly ahead. Noble trees, singly and in groups, grow
plentiful; and where they are at their thickest, in the sheltered hollow
of the hills, stands Newtimber Place, belonging to Viscount Buxton, a
noble mansion with Queen Anne front of red brick and flint, and an
Elizabethan back, surrounded by a broad moat of clear water, formed by
embanking the beginnings of a little stream that comes willing out of the
chalky bosom of the hills. It is a rarely complete and beautiful scene.

Beyond it, above the woods where in spring the fluting blackbird sings of
love and the delights of a mossy nest in the sheltered vale, rises Dale
Hill, with its old toll-house. It was in the neighbouring Dale Vale that
Tom Sayers, afterwards the unconquered champion of England, fought his
first fight.

[Illustration: PYECOMBE: JUNCTION OF THE ROADS.]

He was not, as often stated, an Irishman, but the son of a man descended
from a thoroughly Sussexian stock. The name of Sayers is well known
throughout Sussex, and in particular at Hand Cross, Burgess Hill, and
Hurstpierpoint. There is even, as we have already seen, a Sayers Common on
the road. Tom Sayers, however, was born at Brighton. He worked as a
bricklayer at building the Preston Viaduct of the Brighton and Lewes
Railway: that great viaduct which spans the Brighton Road as you enter the
town. He retired in 1860, after his fight with Heenan, and when he died,
in 1865, the reputation of prize-fighting died with him.

At the summit of Dale Hill stands Pyecombe, above the junction of roads,
on the rounded shoulder of the downs. The little rubbly and flinty
churches of Pyecombe, Patcham, Preston, and Clayton are very similar in
appearance exteriorly and all are provided with identical towers finished
off with a shingled spirelet of insignificant proportions. This little
Norman church, consisting of a tiny nave and chancel only, is chiefly
interesting as possessing a triple chancel arch and an ancient font.

[Illustration: PATCHAM.]

Over the chancel arch hangs a painting of the Royal Arms, painted in the
time of George the Third, faded and tawdry, with dandified unicorn and a
gamboge lion, all teeth and mane, regarding the congregation on Sundays,
and empty benches at other times, with the most amiable of grins. It is
quite typical of Pyecombe that those old Royal Arms should still remain;
for the place is what it was then, and then it doubtless was what it had
been in the days of good Queen Anne, or even of Elizabeth, to go no
further back. The grey tower tops the hill as it has done since the Middle
Ages, the few cottages cluster about it as of yore, and only those who
lived in those humble homes, or reared that church, are gone. Making the
circuit of the church, I look upon the stone quoins and the bedded flints
of those walls; and as I think how they remain, scarce grizzled by the
weathering of countless storms, and how those builders are not merely
gone, but are as forgotten as though they had never existed, I could
have it in my heart to hate the insensate handiwork of man, to which he
has given an existence: the unfeeling walls of stone and flint and mortar
that can outlast him and the memory of him by, it may well be, a thousand
years.



XXXIII


From Pyecombe we come through a cleft in the great chalk ridge of the
South Downs into the country of the "deans." North and South of the Downs
are two different countries--so different that if they were inhabited by
two peoples and governed by two rulers and a frontier ran along the ridge,
it would seem no strange thing. But both are England, and not merely
England, but the same county of Sussex. It is a wooded, Wealden district
of deep clay we have left, and a hungry, barren land of chalk we enter.
But it is a sunny land, where the grassy shoulders of the mighty downs,
looking southward, catch and retain the heat, and almost make you believe
Brighton to be named from its bright and lively skies, and not from that
very shadowy Anglo-Saxon saint, Brighthelm.

[Sidenote: THE DEANS]

The country of the deans is, in general, a barren country. Every one knows
Brighton and its neighbourhood to be places where trees are rare enough to
be curiosities, but in this generally treeless land there are hollows and
shallow valleys amid the dry chalky hillsides where little boscages form
places for the eye, tired of much bright dazzling sunlight, to rest. These
are the deans. Very often they have been made the sites of villages; and
all along this southern aspect of these hills of the Sussex seaboard you
will find deans of various qualifications, from East Dean and West Dean,
by Eastbourne, to Denton (which is, of course "Dean-ton") near Newhaven,
Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Balsdean, Standean, Roedean, and the two that are
strung along these last miles into Brighton--Pangdean and Withdean. Most
of these show the same characteristics of clustered woodlands in a
sheltered fold of the hills, where a grey little flinty church with
stunted spirelet presides over a few large farms and a group of little
cottages. Time and circumstance have changed those that do not happen to
conform to this general rule; and, as ill luck will have it, our first
"dean" is one of these nonconformists.

Pangdean is a hamlet situated in that very forbidding spot where the downs
are at their baldest, and where the chalk-heaps turned up in the making of
the Brighton Railway call aloud for the agricultural equivalent of Tatcho
and its rivals. It is little more than an unkempt farm and a roadside pond
of dirty water where acrobatic ducks perform astonishing feats of agility,
standing on their heads and exhibiting their posteriors in the manner of
their kind. But within sight, down the stretch of road, is Patcham, and
beyond it the hamlet of Withdean, more conformable.

Why Patcham is not nominally, as it is actually in form and every other
circumstance, a "dean" is not clear. There it lies in the vale, just as a
dean should and does do; with sheltering ridges about it, and in the
hollow the church, the cottages, and the woodlands. Very noble woodlands,
too: tall elms with clanging rookeries, and, nestling below them, an old
toll-house.

Not so _very_ old a toll-house, for it was the successor of Preston
turnpike-gate which, erected on the outskirts of Brighton town about 1807,
was removed north of Withdean in 1854, as the result of an agitation set
afoot in 1853, when the Highway Trustees were applying to Parliament for
another term of years. It and its legend "NO TRUST," painted large for all
the world to see, and hateful in a world that has ever preferred credit,
were a nuisance and a gratuitous satire upon human nature. No one
regretted them when their time came, December 31st, 1878; least of all the
early cyclists, who had the luxury of paying at Patcham Gate, and yielded
their "tuppences" with what grace they might.

On the less hallowed north side of the churchyard of Patcham may still
with difficulty be spelled the inscription:

  Sacred to the memory of DANIEL SCALES,
  who was unfortunately shot on Thursday evening,
  November 7th, 1796.

  Alas! swift flew the fatal lead,
  Which piercèd through the young man's head.
  He instant fell, resigned his breath,
  And closed his languid eyes in death.
  All you who do this stone draw near,
  Oh! pray let fall the pitying tear.
  From this sad instance may we all,
  Prepare to meet Jehovah's call.

It is a relic of those lawless old days of smuggling that are so dear to
youthful minds. Youth, like the Irish peasant, is always anarchist and
"agin the Government"; and certainly the deeds of derring-do that were
wrought by smuggler and Revenue officer alike sometimes stir even
middle-aged blood.

[Illustration: OLD DOVECOT, PATCHAM.]

Smuggling was rife here. Where, indeed, was it not in those times? and
Daniel Scales was the most desperate of a daring gang. The night when he
was "unfortunately shot," he, with many others of the gang, was coming
from Brighton laden heavily with smuggled goods, and on the way they fell
in with a number of soldiers and excise officers, near this place. The
smugglers fled, leaving their casks of liquor to take care of themselves,
careful only to make good their own escape, saving only Daniel Scales,
who, met by a "riding officer," was called upon to surrender himself and
his booty, which he refused to do. The officer, who himself had been in
early days engaged in many smuggling transactions, but was now a brand
plucked from the burning, and zealous for King and Customs, knew that
Daniel was "too good a man for him, for they had tried it out before," so
he shot him through the head; and as the bullet, like those in the nursery
rhyme, was made of "lead, lead, lead," Daniel was killed. Alas! poor
Daniel.

An ancient manorial pigeon-house or dovecot still remains at Patcham,
sturdily built of Sussex flints, banded with brick, and wonderfully
buttressed.

[Sidenote: PRESTON]

Preston is now almost wholly urban, but its Early English church, although
patched and altered, still keeps its fresco representing the murder of
Thomas à Becket, and that of an angel disputing with the Devil for the
possession of a departed soul. The angel, like some celestial grocer, is
weighing the shivering soul in the balance, while the Devil, sitting in
one scale, makes the unfortunate soul in the other "kick the beam."



XXXIV


It has very justly been remarked that Brighton is treeless, but that
complaint by no means holds good respecting the approach to it through
Withdean and Preston Park, which is exceptionally well wooded, the tall
elms forming an archway infinitely more lovable than the gigantic brick
arch of the railway viaduct that poses as a triumphal entry into the town.

It is Brighton's ever-open front door. No occasion to knock or ring; enter
and welcome to that cheery town: a brighter, cleaner London.

Brighton has renewed its youth. It has had ill fortune as well as good,
and went through a middle period when, deserted by Royalty, and not yet
fully won to a broader popularity, its older houses looked shabby and its
newer mean. But that period has passed. What remains of the age of George
the Fourth has with the lapse of time and the inevitable changes in taste,
become almost archæologically interesting, and the newer Brighton
approaches a Parisian magnificence and display. The Pavilion of George the
Fourth was the last word in gorgeousness of his time, but it wears an
old-maidish appearance of dowdiness in midst of the Brighton of the
twentieth century.

[Illustration: PRESTON VIADUCT: ENTRANCE TO BRIGHTON.]

The Pavilion is of course the very hub of Brighton. The pilgrim from
London comes to it past the great church of St. Peter, built in 1824, in a
curious Gothic, and thence past the Level to the Old Steyne. The names of
the terraces and rows of houses on either side proclaim their period, even
if those characteristic semicircular bayed fronts did not: they are York
Place, Hanover Terrace, Gloucester Place, Adelaide this, Caroline that,
and Brunswick t'other: all names associated with the late Georgian period.

The Old Steyne was in Florizel's time the rendezvous of fashion. The
"front" and the lawns of Hove have long since usurped that distinction,
but the gardens and the old trees of the Old Steyne are more beautiful
than ever. They are the only few the town itself can boast.

[Sidenote: BRIGHTON]

Treeless Brighton has been the derision alike of Doctor Johnson and Tom
Hood, to name no others. Johnson, who first visited Brighton in 1770 in
the company of the Thrales and Fanny Burney, declared the neighbourhood to
be so desolate that "if one had a mind to hang one's self for desperation
at being obliged to live there, it would be difficult to find a tree on
which to fasten a rope." At any rate it would have needed a particularly
stout tree to serve Johnson's turn, had he a mind to it. Johnson was an
ingrate, and not worthy of the good that Doctor Brighton wrought upon him.

Hood, on the other hand, is jocular in an airier and lighter-hearted
fashion. His punning humour (a kind of witticism which Johnson hated with
the hatred of a man who delved deep after Greek and Latin roots) is to
Johnson's as the footfall of a cat to the earth-shaking tread of the
elephant. His, too, is a manner of gibe that is susceptible of being
construed into praise by the townsfolk. "Of all the trees," says he, "I
ever saw, none could be mentioned in the same breath with the magnificent
beach at Brighton."

But though these trees of the Pavilion give a grateful shelter from the
glare of the sun and the roughness of the wind, they hide little of the
tawdriness of that architectural enormity. The gilding has faded, the
tinsel become tarnished, and the whole pile of cupolas and minarets is
reduced to one even tint, that is not white nor grey, nor any distinctive
shade of any colour. How the preposterous building could ever have been
admired (as it undoubtedly was at one time) surpasses belief. Its cost,
one shrewdly suspects--it is supposed to have cost over £1,000,000--was
what appealed to the imagination.

That reptile Croker, the creature of that Lord Hertford whom one
recognises as the "Marquis of Steyne" in "Vanity Fair," admired it, as
assuredly did not rough and ready Cobbett, who opines, "A good idea of the
building may be formed by placing the pointed half of a large turnip upon
the middle of a board, with four smaller ones at the corners."

That is no bad description of this monument of extravagance and bad taste.
Begun so early as 1784, it was, after many alterations, pullings-down and
rebuildings, completed in 1818, with the exception of the north gate, the
work of William the Fourth in 1832.

The Pavilion was, in fact, the product of an ill-informed enthusiasm for
Chinese architecture, mingled with that of India and Constantinople, and
was built as a Marine Palace, to combine the glories of the Summer Palace
at Pekin with those of the Alhambra. It suffers nowadays, much more than
it need do, from the utter absence of exterior colouring. A judicious
scheme of brilliant colour and gilding, in accordance with its style,
would not only relieve the dull drab monotone, but would go some way to
justify the Prince's taste.

But, be it what it may, the Pavilion set the seal of a certain permanence
upon the princely and royal favours extended to the town, whose
population, numbered at 2,000 in 1761 and 3,600 in 1786, had grown to
5,669 by 1794 and 12,012 in 1811. In the succeeding ten years it had more
than doubled itself, being returned in 1821 at 24,429. How Georgian
Brighton is wholly swallowed up and engulfed in the modern towns of
Brighton, Hove, and Preston is seen in the present population of
161,000--the equivalent of nearly six other Brightons of the size of that
in the last year of the reign of George the Fourth.

[Illustration: THE PAVILION.]

One of the best stories connected with the Pavilion is that told so well
in the "Four Georges":

"And now I have one more story of the bacchanalian sort, in which Clarence
and York and the very highest personage in the realm, the great Prince
Regent, all play parts.

"The feast was described to me by a gentleman who was present at the
scene. In Gilray's caricatures, and amongst Fox's jolly associates, there
figures a great nobleman, the Duke of Norfolk, called Jockey of Norfolk in
his time, and celebrated for his table exploits. He had quarrelled with
the Prince, like the rest of the Whigs; but a sort of reconciliation had
taken place, and now, being a very old man, the Prince invited him to dine
and sleep at the Pavilion, and the old Duke drove over from his Castle of
Arundel with his famous equipage of grey horses, still remembered in
Sussex.

"The Prince of Wales had concocted with his royal brothers a notable
scheme for making the old man drunk. Every person at table was enjoined to
drink wine with the Duke--a challenge which the old toper did not refuse.
He soon began to see that there was a conspiracy against him; he drank
glass for glass: he overthrew many of the brave. At last the first
gentleman of Europe proposed bumpers of brandy. One of the royal brothers
filled a great glass for the Duke. He stood up and tossed off the drink.
'Now,' says he, 'I will have my carriage and go home.'

"The Prince urged upon him his previous promise to sleep under the roof
where he had been so generously entertained. 'No,' he said; 'he had had
enough of such hospitality. A trap had been set for him; he would leave
the place at once, and never enter its doors more.'

"The carriage was called, and came; but, in the half-hour's interval, the
liquor had proved too potent for the old man; his host's generous purpose
was answered, and the Duke's old grey head lay stupefied on the table.
Nevertheless, when his post-chaise was announced, he staggered to it as
well as he could, and, stumbling in, bade the postilions drive to Arundel.

"They drove him for half an hour round and round the Pavilion lawn; the
poor old man fancied he was going home.

"When he awoke that morning, he was in a bed at the Prince's hideous house
at Brighton. You may see the place now for sixpence; they have fiddlers
there every day, and sometimes buffoons and mountebanks hire the
Riding-House and do their tricks and tumbling there. The trees are still
there, and the gravel walks round which the poor old sinner was trotted."

[Sidenote: CHARLES, DUKE OF NORFOLK]

Very telling indignation, no doubt, but the gross defect of Thackeray's
"Four Georges" is its want of sincerity. Sympathy is wasted on that Duke,
who was one of the filthiest voluptuaries of his age, or of any other
since that of Heliogabalus. Charles Howard, eleventh Duke of Norfolk, was
not merely a bestial drunkard, like his father before him, capable of
drinking all his contemporaries under the table; but was a swinish
creature in every way. Gorging himself to repletion with food and drink,
he would make himself purposely sick, in order to begin again. A
contemporary account of him as a member of the Beefsteak Club described
him as a man of huge unwieldy fatness, who, having gorged until he had
eaten himself into incapacity for speaking or moving, would motion for a
bell to be rung, when servants, entering with a litter, would carry him
off to bed. It was well written of him:

  On Norfolk's tomb inscribe this placard:
  He lived a beast and died a blackguard.

This "very old," "poor old man" of Thackeray's misplaced sympathy did not,
as a matter of fact, live to a very great age. He died in 1815, aged
sixty-nine.

Practical joking was elevated to the status of a fine art at Brighton by
the Prince and his merry men. A characteristic story of him is that told
of a drive to Brighton races, when he was accompanied in his great yellow
barouche by Townsend, the Bow Street runner, who was present to protect
the Prince from insult or robbery at the hands of the multitude. "It was a
position," says my authority, "which gave His Royal Highness an
opportunity to practise upon his guardian a somewhat unpleasant joke.
Turning suddenly to Townsend, just at the termination of a race, he
exclaimed, 'By Jove, Townsend, I've been robbed; I had with me some damson
tarts, but they are now gone.' 'Gone!' said Townsend, rising;
'impossible!' 'Yes,' rejoined the Prince, 'and you are the purloiner,' at
the same time taking from the seat whereon the officer had been sitting
the crushed crust of the asserted missing tarts, and adding, 'This is a
sad blot upon your reputation as a vigilant officer.' 'Rather say, your
Royal Highness, a sad stain upon my escutcheon,' added Townsend, raising
the gilt-buttoned tails of his blue coat and exhibiting the fruit-stained
seat of his nankeen inexpressibles."



XXXV


But it was not this practical-joking Prince who first discovered Brighton.
It would never have attained its great vogue without him, but it would
have been the health resort of a certain circle of fashion--an inferior
Bath, in fact. To Dr. Richard Russell--the name sometimes spelt with one
"l"--who visited the little village of Brighthelmstone in 1750, belongs
the credit of discovering the place to an ailing fashionable world. He
died in 1759, long ere the sun of royal splendour first rose upon the
fishing-village; but even before the Prince of Wales first visited
Brighthelmstone in 1782, it had attained a certain popularity, as the
"Brighthelmstone Guide" of July, 1777, attests, in these halting verses:

  This town or village of renown,
  Like London Bridge, half broken down,
  Few years ago was worse than Wapping,
  Not fit for a human soul to stop in;
  But now, like to a worn-out shoe,
  By patching well, the place will do.
  You'd wonder much, I'm sure, to see
  How it's becramm'd with quality.

And so on.

[Illustration: THE CLIFFS, BRIGHTHELMSTONE, 1789. _From an aquatint after
Rowlandson._]

[Illustration: DR. RICHARD RUSSELL. _From the portrait by Zoffany._]

[Sidenote: GUIDES TO BRIGHTON]

Brighthelmstone, indeed, has had more Guides written upon it than even
Bath has had, and very curious some of them are become in these days. They
range from lively to severe, from grave to gay, from the serious screeds
of Russell and Dr. Relhan, his successor, to the light and airy, and not
too admirable puffs of to-day. But, however these guides may vary, they
all agree in harking back to that shadowy Brighthelm who is supposed to
have given his peculiar name to the ancient fisher-village here
established time out of mind. In the days when "County Histories" were
first let loose, in folio volumes, upon an unoffending land, historians,
archæologists, and other interested parties seemed at a loss for the
derivation of the place-name, and, rather than confess themselves ignorant
of its meaning, they conspired together to invent a Saxon archbishop, who,
dying in the odour of sanctity and the ninth century, bequeathed his
appellation to what is now known, in a contracted form, as Brighton.

But the man is not known who has unassailable proofs to show of this
Brighthelm's having so honoured the fisher-folk's hovels with his name.

Thackeray, greatly daring, considering that the Fourth George is the real
patron--saint, we can hardly say; let us make it king--of the town,
elected to deliver his lectures upon the "Four Georges" at Brighton, among
other places, and to that end made, with monumental assurance, a personal
application at the Town Hall for the hire of the banqueting-room in the
Royal Pavilion.

But one of the Aldermen, who chanced to be present, suggested, with
extra-aldermanic wit, that the Town Hall would be equally suitable,
intimating at the same time that it was not considered as strictly
etiquette to "abuse a man in his own house." The witty Alderman's
suggestion, we are told, was acted upon, and the Town Hall engaged
forthwith.

It argued considerable courage on the lecturer's part to declaim against
George the Fourth anywhere in that town which His Majesty had, by his
example, conjured up from almost nothingness. It does not seem that
Thackeray was, after all, ill received at Brighton; whence thoughts arise
as to the ingratitude and fleeting memories of them that were either in
the first or second generation, advantaged by the royal preference for
this bleak stretch of shore beneath the bare South Downs, open to every
wind that blows. Surely gratitude is well described as a "lively sense of
favours to come," and they, no doubt, considered that the statue they had
erected in the Steyne gardens to him was a full discharge of all
obligations. Nor is the history of that effigy altogether creditable. It
was erected in 1828, as the result of a movement among Brighton tradesfolk
in 1820, to honour the memory of one who had incidentally made the
fortunes of so many among them; but although the subscription list
remained open for eight years and a half, it did not provide the £3.000
agreed upon to be paid to Chantrey, the sculptor of it.

The bronze statue presides to-day over a cab-rank, and the sea-salt
breezes have strongly oxidised the face to an arsenical green; insulting,
because greenness was not a distinguishing trait in the character of
George the Fourth.

[Sidenote: LAST OF THE REGENCY.]

The surrounding space is saturated with memories of the Regency; but the
roysterers are all gone and the recollection of them is dim. Prince and
King, the Barrymores--Hellgate, Newgate, and Cripplegate--brothers three;
Mrs. Fitzherbert, "the only woman whom George the Fourth ever really
loved," and whom he married; Sir John Lade, the reckless, the frolicsome,
historic in so far that he was the first who publicly wore trousers:
these, with others innumerable, are long since silent. No more are they
heard who with unseemly revelry affronted the midnight moon, or upset the
decrepit watchman in his box. Those days and nights are done, nor are they
likely to be revived while the Brighton policemen remain so big and
muscular.

With the death of George the Fourth the play was played out. William the
Fourth occasionally patronised Brighton, but decorum then obtained, and
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert not only disliked the memory of the last
of the Georges, but could not find at the Pavilion the privacy they
desired. The Queen therefore sold it to the then Commissioners of
Brighton in 1850, for the sum of £53,000, and never afterwards visited the
town.



XXXVI


The Pavilion and the adjoining Castle Square, where one of the old coach
booking-offices still survives as a railway receiving-office, are to most
people the ultimate expressions of antiquity at Brighton; but there
remains one landmark of what was "Brighthelmstone" in the ancient parish
church of St. Nicholas, standing upon the topmost eyrie of the town, and
overlooking from its crowded and now disused graveyard more than a square
mile of crowded roofs below. It is probably the place referred to by a
vivacious Frenchman who, a hundred and twenty years ago, summed up
"Brigtemstone" as "a miserable village, commanded by a cemetery and
surrounded by barren mountains."

From here you can, with some trouble, catch just a glimpse of the Watery
horizon through the grey haze that rises from countless chimney-pots, and
never a breeze but blows laden with the scent of soot and smoke. Yet, for
all the changed fortune that changeful Time has brought this hoary and
grimy place, it has not been deprived of interesting mementoes. You may,
with patience, discover the tombstone of Phoebe Hassall, a centenarian
of pith and valour, who, in her youthful days, in male attire, joined the
army of His Majesty King George the Second and warred with her regiment in
many lands; and all around are the resting-places of many celebrities,
who, denied a wider fame, have yet their place in local annals; but
prominent, in place and in fame, is the tomb of that Captain Tettersell
who (it must be owned, for a consideration) sailed away one October morn
of 1651 across the Channel, carrying with him the hope of the clouded
Royalists aboard his grimy craft.

[Illustration: ST. NICHOLAS, THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF BRIGHTHELMSTONE.]

His altar-tomb stands without the southern doorway of the church, and
reads curiously to modern ears. That not one of all the many who have had
occasion to print it has transcribed the quaintness of that epitaph aright
seems a strange thing, but so it is:

    P.M.S.

    Captain NICHOLAS TETTERSELL, through whose Prudence ualour an Loyalty
    Charles the second King of England & after he had escaped the sword of
    his merciless rebells and his fforses received a fatall ouerthrowe at
    Worcester Sept{r} 3{d} 1651, was ffaithfully preserued & conueyed into
    ffrance. Departed this life the 26{th} day of Iuly 1674.

              ---->      ---->      ---->

        Within this monument doth lye,
        Approued Ffaith, hono{r} and Loyalty.
        In this Cold Clay he hath now tane up his statio{n},
        At once preserued y{e} Church, the Crowne and nation.
        When Charles y{e} Greate was nothing but a breat{h}
        This ualiant soule stept betweene him & death.
        Usurpers threats nor tyrant rebells frowne
        Could not afrright his duty to the Crowne;
        Which glorious act of his Church & state,
        Eight princes in one day did Gratulate
        Professing all to him in debt to bee
        As all the world are to his memory
        Since Earth Could not Reward his worth have give{n},
        Hee now receiues it from the King of heauen.

The escape of Charles the Second, after many perilous adventures, belongs
to the larger sphere of English history. Driven, after the disastrous
result of Worcester Fight, to wander, a fugitive, through the land, he
sought the coast from the extreme west of Dorsetshire, and only when he
reached Sussex did he find it possible to embark and sail across the
Channel to France. Hunted by relentless Roundheads, and sheltered on his
way only by a few faithful adherents, who in their loyalty risked
everything for him, he at length, with his small party, reached the
village of Brighthelmstone and lodged at the inn then called the "George."

[Illustration: THE AQUARIUM, BEFORE DESTRUCTION OF THE CHAIN PIER.]

That evening, after much negotiation, Colonel Gunter, the King's
companion, arranged with Nicholas Tettersell, master of a small trading
craft, to convey the King across to Fécamp, to sail in the early hours
of the following morning, October 14th. How they sailed, and the account
of their wanderings, are fully set forth in the "narrative" of Colonel
Gunter.



XXXVII


A new era for Brighton and the Brighton Road opened in November, 1896,
with the coming of the motor-car. Already the old period of the coaching
inns had waned, and that of gigantic and palatial hotels, much more
luxurious than anything ever imagined by the builders of the Pavilion, had
dawned; and then, as though to fitly emphasize the transition, the old
Chain Pier made a dramatic end.

The Chain Pier just missed belonging to the Georgian era, for it was not
begun until October, 1822, but, opened the following year, it had so long
been a feature of Brighton--and so peculiar a feature--that it had come,
with many, to typify the town, quite as much as the Pavilion itself. It
was, moreover, additionally remarkable as being the first pleasure-pier
built in England. It had long been failing and, condemned as dangerous,
would soon have been demolished; but the storm of December 4th, 1896,
spared that trouble. It was standing when day closed in, but when the next
morning dawned, its place was vacant.

Since then, those who have long known Brighton have never visited it
without a sense of loss; and the Palace Pier, opposite the Aquarium, does
not fill the void. It is a vulgarity for one thing, and for another
typifies the Hebraic week-end, when the sons and daughters of Judah
descend upon the town. Moreover, it is absolutely uncharacteristic, and
has its counterparts in many other places.

But Brighton itself is eternal. It suffers change, it grows continually;
but while the sea remains and the air is clean and the sun shines, it, and
the road to it, will be the most popular resorts in England.



INDEX.


  Ainsworth, W. Harrison, 209-222

  Albourne, 248

  Ansty Cross, 93, 222

  Aram, Eugene, 172

  "Autopsy," Steam Carriage, 37, 63, 88


  Banks, Sir Edward, 136

  Banstead Downs, 159-161

  Barrymore, The, 6, 192, 267

  Belmont, 159

  Benhilton, 156

  Bicycles, 64-71, 74-79, 85-91

  Bird, Lieutenant Edward, murderer, 169-172

  Bolney, 200, 243, 246

  "Boneshakers", 65

  Brighton, 2, 12, 37, 255-272
    Railway opened, 42
    Road Records tabulated, 88-91
    Routes to, 1-4

  Brixton, 92, 97-100
    Hill, 68, 93, 98, 105

  Broad Green, 108, 129

  Burgess Hill, 223

  Burgh Heath, 159-161


  Carriers, The, 11-14

  Charles II., 270

  Charlwood, 175

  Chipstead, 135-138

  Clayton, 93, 102, 231, 250
    Hill, 25, 229, 231-232
    Tunnel, 229-231

  Coaches:--
    Accommodation, 26
    Age, 29, 30, 35
      1852-1862, 42, 45, 47
      1875-1880, 1882-3, 46
    Alert, 33, 34
    Coburg, 30
    Comet, 33
      1887-1899, 1900, 46, 49, 55
    Coronet, 33
    Criterion, 41, 64, 74, 88
    Dart, 33
    Defiance, 28, 46
      1880, --
    Duke of Beaufort, 31
    "Flying Machine," coach, 18-22
    Life-Preserver, 30
    Magnet, 33
    Mails, The, 23, 26, 28, 33, 34, 42
    Old Times, 1866, 45
      1888, 49-51
    Quicksilver, 38
    Red Rover, 41, 63, 88
    Regent, 33
    Sovereign, 33
    Times, 33
    Union, 33
    Venture (A. G. Vanderbilt), 61
    Victoria, 42
    Vigilant, 1900-05, --
    Wonder, 38

  Coaching, 5, 11-14, 18-34, 37-49, 228

  Coaching Notabilities:--
    Angel, B. J., 45, 46
    Armytage, Col., 45
    Batchelor, Jas., 14
    Beaufort, Duke of, 45, 46
    Beckett, Capt. H. L., 46
    Blyth, Capt., 46
    Bradford, "Miller", 26
    Clark, George, 45
    Cotton, Sir St. Vincent, 29, 45
    Fitzgerald, Mr., 45
    Fownes, Edwin, 46
    Freeman, Stewart, 46, 49
    Gwynne, Sackville Frederick, 29
    Harbour, Charles, 41, 64
    Haworth, Capt., 45, 46
    Jerningham, Hon. Fred., 29
    Lawrie, Capt., 45
    Londesborough, Earl of, 46
    McCalmont, Hugh, 46
    Meek, George, 46
    Pole, E. S. Chandos, 45, 46
    Pole-Gell, Mr., 46
    Sandys, Hon. H., 49
    Selby, Jas., 41, 49, 64, 73, 74, 75, 89
    Stevenson, Henry, 29, 30
    Stracey-Clitherow, Col., 46
    Thynne, Lord H., 45
    Tiffany, Mr., 46
    Vanderbilt, Alfred Gwynne, 61
    Wemyss, Randolph, 49
    Wiltshire, Earl of, 46
    Worcester, Marquis of, 29, 38

  Coaching Records, 41, 64, 73, 74, 88, 89

  Cold Blow, 159

  Colliers' Water, 108

  Colliers of Croydon, 108

  Coulsdon, 131, 133

  County Oak, 178

  Covert, Family of, 238-244

  Crawley, 93, 173, 182-195

  Crawley Downs, 191-193

  Croydon, 106-123

  Cuckfield, 30, 202-209
    Place, 209-222, 242

  Cycling, 64-71, 74-79, 85-91

  Cycling Notabilities:--
    Edge, Selwyn Francis, 75, 76, 89
    Holbein, M. A., 74
    Mayall, John, Junior, 66-69, 70, 88
    Shorland, F. W., 74, 89
    Smith, C. A., 75, 76, 77, 89
    Turner, Rowley B., 66, 67, 69

  Cycling Records, 68-79, 85-91


  Dale, 93, 248, 250

  Dance, Sir Charles, 37, 39

  Ditchling, 224

  Driving Records, 63, 73, 194


  Earlswood Common, 93, 146, 148


  Fauntleroy, Henry, 196

  Foxley Hatch, 93, 126

  Frenches, 93, 145

  Friar's Oak, 226


  Gatton, 141-145, 164

  Gatwick, 155

  George IV., Prince Regent and King, 3, 6, 8-11, 24, 62, 88, 132,
      191-194, 256-262, 266


  Hancock, Walter, 34, 88

  Hand Cross, 24, 93, 195, 198-201
    Hill, 61

  Hassall, Phoebe, 268

  Hassocks, 226

  Hayward's Heath, 205

  Hickstead, 200, 245

  "Hobby-horses", 65

  Holmesdale, 172

  Hooley, 136

  Horley, 93, 149, 151-155, 173


  Ifield, 175, 178-182, 188

  "Infant," Steam Carriage, 37

  Inns (mentioned at length):--
    Black Swan, Pease Pottage, 195
    Chequers, Horley, 152
    Cock, Sutton, 159
    Friar's Oak, 24, 226
    George, Borough, 12-14
      Crawley, 114, 187, 189
    Golden Cross, Charing Cross, 20, 33
    Green Cross, Ansty Cross, 222
    Greyhound, Croydon, 114
      Sutton, 159
    Hatchett's (_see_ White Horse Cellar).
    Old King's Head, Croydon, 115
    Old Ship, Brighton, 12
    Red Lion, Hand Cross, 200
    Six Bells, Horley, 153
    Surrey Oaks, Parkgate, 179
    Tabard, Borough (_see_ Talbot).
    Talbot, Borough, 12-14, 17
    Talbot, Cuckfield, 206
    Tangier, Banstead Downs, 160
    White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, 34


  Jacob's Post, 224

  Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 102-105, 257


  Kennersley, 173

  Kennington, 92-96

  Kimberham Bridge, 173

  Kingswood, 162


  Lade, Sir John, 267

  Lemon, Mark, 190

  Little Hell, 159

  Lowfield Heath, 173-175, 182


  Merstham, 93, 134, 138-141

  Milestones, 126-130, 159, 163

  Mitcham, 155

  Mole, River, 149, 152, 173-175, 196

  Motor-cars, 50, 53, 54, 57-61, 63

  Motor-car Day, Nov. 14th, 1896, 53-60

  Motor-omnibus, Accident to, 60


  Newdigate, 176

  Newtimber, 247, 248

  Norbury, 195


  Old-time Travellers:--
    Burton, Dr. John, 16
    Cobbett, William, 161, 165, 168, 178
    George IV., Prince Regent and King (_see_ "George the Fourth.")
    Walpole, Horace, 16-18


  Pangdean, 253

  Patcham, 25, 93, 250, 251-255

  Pavilion, The, 256-261, 268

  Pease Pottage, 195, 197

  Pedestrian Records, 64, 69, 72, 75, 79-91

  Pilgrims' Way, The, 164

  Povey Cross, 155, 173, 175

  Preston, 93, 250, 255

  Prize-fighting, 5, 191, 248-250

  Pugilistic Notabilities:--
    Cribb, Tom, 190
    Fewterel, 132
    Hickman, "The Gas-Light Man", 192
    Jackson, "Gentleman", 132, 159
    Martin, "Master of the Rolls", 5, 192
    Randall, Jack, "the Nonpareil", 5, 192
    Sayers, Tom, 248

  Purley, 93, 121-125, 130, 176

  Pyecombe, 200, 249, 250


  Railway to Brighton opened, 42, 131

  "Records", 61-91
    (_See_ severally, Coaching, Cycling, Driving, Pedestrian, and Riding).
    Tabulated, 88-91

  Redhill, 93, 145

  Reigate, 27, 93, 164-172
    Hill, 162-164

  Riding Records, 62, 88

  Roman Roads, 102

  "Rookwood", 209-222

  Routes to Brighton, 1-4

  Rowlandson, Thomas, 157, 185, 187, 203, 263

  Ruskin, John, 106, 115

  Russell of Killowen, Baron, 161

  Russell (_or_ Russel), Dr. Richard, 262


  St. John's Common, 103, 223

  St. Leonard's Forest, 196, 199

  Salfords, 93, 149, 173

  Sayers Common, 248

  Sidlow Bridge, 173

  Slaugham, 238-246
    Place, 240-242

  Slough Green, 93

  Smitham Bottom, 68, 129, 131-133, 136

  Southwark, 12-14

  Staplefield Common, 200

  Steam Carriages, 34, 37, 50, 63

  Stoat's Nest, 132

  Stock Exchange Walk, 80-82

  Stonepound, 93, 227, 231

  Streatham, 100, 103-105, 107

  Surrey Iron Railway, The, 122, 136

  Sussex Roads, 15, 178, 237, 242, 237, 242

  Sutton, 93, 156-159, 161


  Tadworth Court, 161

  Tettersell, Captain, 268, 270

  Thackeray, W. M., 9, 10, 266

  Thornton Heath, 103, 105-108

  Thrale Place, 103-105

  Thrales, The, 103-105

  Thunderfield Castle, 149-152

  Tilgate Forest Row, 173, 196

  Tooke, John Horne, 124

  Turnpike Gates, 92, 126, 145, 195, 226-228, 253


  Velocipedes, 65-69


  Walking Records (_see_ Pedestrian Records).

  Westminster Bridge, 1, 3, 14, 129

  Whiteman's Green, 202

  Whitgift, Archbishop, 109-114

  Wilderness Bottom, 161

  Withdean, 253, 255

  Wivelsfield, 224

  Woodhatch, 93

  Wray Park, 93



FOOTNOTES:

[1] He was a baker; hence the nickname.

[2] Henry Barry, Earl of Barrymore, in the peerage of Ireland.

[3] _Hiatus_ in the Journals, arranged by the editor for benefit of the
Young Person!

[4] Kirkpatrick Macmillan, in 1839-40, invented a dwarf, rear-driving
machine of the "safety" type, and was fined at Glasgow for "furiously
riding." He made and sold several, but they attained nothing more than
local and temporary success.

[5]

  "There's nothing brings you round
  Like the trumpet's martial sound."--W. S. GILBERT.
                                    "The Pirates of Penzance."

[6] In 1829 there were three additional gates: one at Crawley, another at
Hand Cross, before you came to the "Red Lion," and one more at Slough
Green. Meanwhile the Horley gate on this route had disappeared. At a later
period another gate was added, at Merstham, just past the "Feathers." On
the other routes there were, of course, yet more gates--e.g., those of
Sutton, Reigate, Wray Park, Woodhatch, Dale, and many more.

Salfords gate was the last on the main Brighton Road. It remained until
midnight, October 31st. 1881, when the Reigate Turnpike Trust expired,
after an existence of 126 years. Not until then did this most famous
highway become free and open throughout its whole distance.

[7] Preface to "Præterita," dated May 10th, 1885.

[8] The name derives from a farm so called, marked on a map of 1716
"Stotes Ness."

[9] "Sir Edward Banks, Knight, of Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey, and Adelphi
Terrace, Strand, Middlesex, whose remains are deposited in the family
vault in this churchyard. Blessed by Divine Providence with an honest
heart, a clear head, and an extraordinary degree of perseverance, he rose
superior to all difficulties, and was the founder of his own fortune; and
although of self-cultivated talent, he in early life became contractor for
public works, and was actively and successfully engaged during forty years
in the execution of some of the most useful, extensive, and splendid works
of his time; amongst which may be mentioned the Waterloo, Southwark,
London, and Staines Bridges over the Thames, the Naval Works at Sheerness
Dockyard, and the new channels for the rivers Ouse, Nene, and Witham in
Norfolk and Lincolnshire. He was eminently distinguished for the
simplicity of his manners and the benevolence of his heart; respected for
his inflexible integrity and his pure and unaffected piety; in all the
relations of his life he was candid, diligent, and humane; just in
purpose, firm in execution; his liberality and indulgence to his numerous
coadjutors were alone equalled by his generosity and charity displayed in
the disposal of his honourably-acquired wealth. He departed this life at
Tilgate, Sussex ... on the 5th day of July, 1835, in the sixty-sixth year
of his age."

[10] Matthew Buckle, Admiral of the Blue; born 1716, died 1784.

[11] He really drove the other way; from Carlton House to Brighton.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Letters printed in reverse are indicated by =X=.

Superscripted characters are indicated by {superscript}.

The original text contains a few letters with diacritical marks that are
not represented in this text version.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brighton Road - The Classic Highway to the South" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home