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Title: Rivers of Great Britain. The Thames, from Source to Sea.
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber's Note
                          ##################

This e-text is based on the 1891 edition of the book. Minor punctuation
errors have been tacitly corrected. Inconsistencies in hyphenation and
spelling, as well as the use of obsolete terms, such as 'humble
bee', 'havock', etc., have been retained.

The following passages have been corrected or need to be commented:

  # p. viii (List of Illustrations): 'Garrick's Weir'--> 'Garrick's
           Villa'
  # p. 35: 'pigstyes'--> 'pigsties'
  # p. 49: 'Bathhurst'--> 'Bathurst'
  # p. 107: 'probaby'--> 'probably'
  # p. 291: 'lumber'--> 'number'
  # p. 317: 'an all the seas'--> 'on all the seas'
            'Manor of Pleasuance'--> 'Manor of Pleasaunce'
  # p. 343: 'hnows'--> 'knows'
  # p. 365: 'Jesus Hospital at Bray': page number added (146)

Italic text in the original version has been placed between underscores
(_text_); passages in small caps have been symbolised by forward
slashes (/small caps/). [oe] symbolises the corresponding ligature; the
caret symbol (^) indicates subsequent superscript characters.



                       /Rivers of Great Britain:

                   The Thames, from Source to Sea./

                            [Illustration:
                        /C. L. Seymour. pinxt/
                        /C. O. Murray. sculpt/
                          /Cliefden Woods/.]



                       RIVERS OF GREAT BRITAIN.

                    The Thames, from Source to Sea.

                  DESCRIPTIVE, HISTORICAL, PICTORIAL.

                            [Illustration]

                      CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED:

                     _LONDON, PARIS & MELBOURNE_.

                                 1891.

                        [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]

                            [Illustration]



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.

  ABOVE OXFORD.--_By W. SENIOR._
                                                                    PAGE

    The Source of the Thames--Early Names of the River--Seven
    Springs--Thames Head--The Churn and its Course--Thames and
    Severn Canal--Cricklade--Castle Eaton--Inglesham--Fairford and
    the Coln--Lechlade--The First Lock--Some Thames Flowers--Old
    Buscot--Hart's Weir--Bird Life--Radcot Bridge--Eddying
    Pools and Golden Shallows--Canal-like Reaches--Tadpole
    Bridge--Bampton--Duxford Ferry--Canute's Country--The Windrush--The
    Oldest Bridge--Old Father Thames--Disused Weir-pools--Bablock
    Hythe, Stanton Harcourt, and Cumnor--Skinner's Weir and Pinkhill
    Lock--Eynsham Weir, Bridge, and Cross--The Evenlode--Witham
    Hill--Thames Angling--Godstow--King's Weir--Port Meadow--Folly
    Bridge                                                             1


  CHAPTER II.

  OXFORD TO ABINGDON.--_By D. MACCOLL._

    Oxford, from the Upper River; the New Town--The Courses of the
    River, from Medley Weir to Folly Bridge--The Houses of the
    Regulars and Friars--The University and Parish Churches--The
    Halls and Colleges of the Seculars, from the Thirteenth Century
    to the Reformation--Jacobean Oxford--Classic Oxford--Convenient
    Oxford--The Architectural Revival--The Undergraduate
    Revival--The River below Folly Bridge, and the Invention
    of Rowing--The Navigation Shape of the River--Floods--The
    Barges--Iffley--Littlemore--Kennington--Radley--Sandford--Nuneham 33


  CHAPTER III.

  ABINGDON TO STREATLEY.--_By J. PENDEREL-BRODHURST._

    Abingdon--The Abbey--St. Nicholas' Church--The Market
    Cross--The Ancient Stone Cross--St. Helen's Church--Christ's
    Hospital--Culham--First View of Wittenham Clump--Clifton
    Hampden--The "Barley Mow"--A River-side Solitude--Day's Lock--Union
    of the Thames and the Isis--Dorchester--The Abbey Church--Sinodun
    Hill--Shillingford Bridge--Bensington--The Church--Crowmarsh
    Giffard--Wallingford--Mongewell--Newton Murren--Moulsford--The
    "Beetle and Wedge"--Cleeve Lock--Streatley                        62


  CHAPTER IV.

  STREATLEY TO HENLEY.--_By W. SENIOR._

    Streatley, the Artists' Mecca--Goring versus Streatley--Goring from
    the Toll-gate--Streatley Mill--Weirs and Backwaters--Antiquity
    of Streatley and Goring--Goring Church--Common Wood--Basildon
    Ferry and Hart's Wood--A Thames Osier Farm--Whitchurch
    Lock--Pangbourne--Hardwicke House and Mapledurham--Caversham
    Bridge--Reading and its Abbey--A Divergence to the Kennet, with
    calls at Marlborough, Hungerford, and Newbury--The Charms of
    Sonning--"The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crowned"--St.
    Patrick's Stream--Shiplake Weir--Wargrave and Bolney Court--Park
    Place--Marsh Lock--Remarks on Thames Angling--The Approach to
    Henley                                                            85


  CHAPTER V.

  HENLEY TO MAIDENHEAD.--_By the Rev. PROFESSOR BONNEY, F.R.S._

    The Best Bit of the River--Henley--The Church--The "Red
    Lion"--Shenstone's Lines--Henley Regatta--The First University
    Boat-race--Fawley Court--Remenham--Hambledon Lock--Medmenham
    Abbey and the Franciscans--Dissolution of the Order--Hurley--Lady
    Place and its History--A Strange Presentiment--Bisham Abbey
    and its Ghost--Bisham Church--Great Marlow--The Church and its
    Curiosities--"Puppy Pie"--Quarry Woods--The Thames Swans and
    the Vintners' Company--Cookham and Cliefden--Hedsor--Cliefden
    Woods--The House--Raymead--The Approach to Maidenhead            113


  CHAPTER VI.

  MAIDENHEAD TO WINDSOR.--_By H. SCHÜTZ WILSON._

    Maidenhead--Bray--Jesus Hospital--The Harbour of Refuge--Frederick
    Walker--A Boat-race--Monkey Island--The River--Surley Hall--Boveney
    Lock--Eton--Windsor--St. George's Chapel--The Castle--Mr. R. R.
    Holmes--James I.--Surrey--The Merry Wives of Windsor             143


  CHAPTER VII.

  WINDSOR TO HAMPTON COURT.--_By GODFREY WORDSWORTH TURNER._

    Leaving Windsor--Eton, its History and its Worthies--The College
    Buildings--Windsor Park--The Long Walk--The Albert Bridge--Datchet
    and Falstaff--Old Windsor--"Perdita's" Grave--The Tapestry
    Works--The "Bells of Ouseley"--Riverside Inns--The Loves of
    Harry and Anne Boleyn--Magna Charter Island--Runnymede--The
    Poet of Cooper's Hill--Fish at Bell Weir--A Neglected
    Dainty--Egham and Staines--John Emery--Penton Hook--Laleham--Dr.
    Arnold--Chertsey--The Lock and Bridge--Albert Smith and his
    Brother--Chertsey Abbey--Black Cherry Fair--Cowley the Poet--A
    Scene from "Oliver Twist"--St. Ann's Hill--Weybridge--Oaklands
    and the Grotto--Shepperton Lock and Ferry--Halliford--Walton--The
    Scold's Bridle--Sunbury--Hampton--Moulsey Hurst and its Sporting
    Associations--Hampton Court Bridge                               161


  CHAPTER VIII.

  HAMPTON COURT TO RICHMOND.--_By J. PENDEREL-BRODHURST._

    Hampton Court--Thames Ditton: The "Swan"--The
    Church--Surbiton--Kingston: The Coronation
    Stone--Teddington--Twickenham--Eel Pie Island--Petersham--Richmond
    Park--Approach to Richmond                                       201


  CHAPTER IX.

  RICHMOND TO BATTERSEA.--_By the Rev. PROFESSOR BONNEY, F.R.S._

    The River at Richmond--A Spot for a Holiday--The Old Palace
    of Sheen--The Trumpeters' House--Old Sad Memories--Richmond
    Green--The Church--Kean's Grave--Water Supply--The
    Bridge--The Nunnery of Sion and Convent of Sheen--Sir
    William Temple--Kew Observatory, Isleworth--Sion House and
    its History--Kew Palace and the Georges--Kew Gardens--Kew
    Green--Brentford--Mortlake--Barnes--Chiswick--The
    Boat-race--Hammersmith--Putney--Barn Elms--Putney and Fulham--The
    Bishops of London--Hurlingham--The Approach to a Great City      229


  CHAPTER X.

  BATTERSEA TO LONDON BRIDGE.--_By EDMUND OLLIER._

    The Scene Changes--A City River--Battersea--Chelsea--The Old
    Church--Sir T. More and Sir Hans Sloane--Cheyne Walk--Don Saltero's
    Coffee-house and Thomas Carlyle--The Botanical Gardens--Chelsea
    Hospital--The Pensioners--Battersea Park--The Suspension
    Bridge--Vauxhall--Lambeth--The Church and Palace--Westminster
    Palace and the Abbey--Its Foundation and History--Westminster
    Hall--Westminster Bridge--The Victoria Embankment--York
    Gate--Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House--The Temple--Blackfriars
    Bridge--St. Paul's--Southwark Bridge--The Old Theatres--Cannon
    Street Bridge--London Bridge and its Traffic                     258


  CHAPTER XI.

  LONDON BRIDGE TO GRAVESEND.--_By AARON WATSON._

    Hogarth's Water Frolic--Billingsgate--Salesmen's Cries--The Custom
    House--Queen Elizabeth and the Customs--The Tower, and Tower
    Hill--The Pool--The Docks--Ratcliff Highway--The Thames Tunnel--In
    Rotherhithe--The Isle of Dogs--The Dock Labourer--Deptford and
    Greenwich--Woolwich Reach and Dockyard--The _Warspite_           288


  CHAPTER XII.

  GRAVESEND TO THE NORE.--_By J. RUNCIMAN._

    Morning on the Lower Thames--Gravesend--Pilots and Watermen--A
    Severe Code--Tilbury and its Memories--The Marshes--Wild-fowl
    Shooting--Eel Boats--Canvey Island--Hadleigh Castle--Leigh, and the
    Shrimpers--Southend and the Pier--Sailing--Sheerness--The Mouth of
    the Medway--The Dockyard--The Town and its Divisions--The Nore--A
    Vision of Wonder--Shoeburyness--Outward Bound                    337

    /Table of Distances/                                             368



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


    _Frontispiece_.--/Cliefden Woods/.

    /On Title-page, Head of Thames/ (_from bas-relief on Temple
    Pier_).                                                        PAGES

    /Map of the Thames/ _To face page_                                 1

  _ABOVE OXFORD_:--

    The Seven Springs--Thames Head--The Sources of the Thames
    (_Map_)--The First Bridge over the Thames--Cricklade--Inglesham
    Round House--Lechlade: the First Lock--Radcot Bridge--The Ferry,
    Bablock Hythe--Cumnor Churchyard--Stanton Harcourt Church--Eynsham
    Weir--Cross at Eynsham--Oxford from Godstow--The Thames from
    Lechlade to Oxford (_Map_)                                      1-32

  _OXFORD TO ABINGDON_:--

    The Barges--Oxford, from Headington Hill--New College, from the
    Gardens--St. Mary's, from the High Street--Magdalen Tower, from
    the Cherwell--Stone Pulpit, Magdalen--"Tom" Gateway--The Dome
    of the Radcliffe, from Brasenose--The 'Varsity Barge--A "Bump"
    at the Barges--Iffley Mill--Iffley Church--Littlemore Church
    and Kennington Island--Oxford to Abingdon (_Map_)--A Picnic to
    Nuneham--The Bridge and Cottage, Nuneham--Distant View of Abingdon
                                                                   33-61

  _ABINGDON TO STREATLEY_:--

    Abingdon, from the River--Abingdon Bridge--Culham Church--Clifton
    Hampden Church--Dorchester, from Little Wittenham--Sinodun Hill
    and Day's Lock--Shillingford Bridge--Wallingford Church and
    Bridge--Moulsford Ferry--Abingdon to Streatley (_Map_)--Streatley
    Mill                                                           62-84

  _STREATLEY TO HENLEY_:--

    The Thames at Streatley--Streatley to Henley (_Map_)--Goring, from
    the Tollgate--Whitchurch Church and Mill--Mapledurham, the Church
    and the Mill--Flooded Meadows, from Caversham Bridge--The Thames
    at Reading, from the Old Clappers--Sonning-on-Thames--Sonning
    Weir--Shiplake--A Camping-out Party--Backwater at Wargrave--A Pool
    of Water-lilies                                               85-112

  _HENLEY TO MAIDENHEAD_:--

    Henley Regatta--Henley, from the Towing-path--Regatta
    Island--Fawley Court--Aston Ferry--Medmenham Abbey--Below
    Medmenham--Bisham Abbey--Bisham Church--Great Marlow, from
    Quarry Woods--Henley to Maidenhead (_Map_)--A Picnic at Quarry
    Woods--A Group of Swans--Cookham--A Crowd in Cookham Lock--The
    Landing-Stage, Ray Mead--Taplow Woods                        113-142

  MAIDENHEAD TO WINDSOR:--

    Bray Church--Maidenhead to Windsor (_Map_)--Surley--Boveney
    Lock--Windsor Castle, from Boveney Lock--St. George's Chapel,
    Windsor                                                      143-160

  _WINDSOR TO HAMPTON COURT_:--

    Procession of the Boats, Eton--Eton, from the Playing-fields--The
    Albert Bridge--Old Windsor Lock--The "Bells of Ouseley"--Magna
    Charta Island--Runnymede--Windsor to Hampton Court (_Map_)--London
    Stone--Staines Bridge--Laleham Ferry--Laleham Church--Chertsey
    Bridge--Shepperton Lock--Shepperton--Halliford--Sunbury
    Weir--Sunbury Church--Between Hampton and Sunbury--Garrick's Villa,
    Hampton                                                      161-200

  _HAMPTON COURT TO RICHMOND_:--

    The Approach to Hampton Court--Entrance Porch--The First
    Quadrangle--Fountain Court--In the Reach below Hampton Court--The
    "Swan," Thames Ditton--Thames Ditton Church--Hampton Court to
    Richmond (_Map_)--Kingston, from the River--The Market-place,
    Kingston--The Coronation Stone--The Royal Barge--The "Anglers,"
    Teddington--Strawberry Hill--Pope's Villa at Twickenham--Twickenham
    Ferry--Richmond: the Meadows and the Park--Richmond: The Terrace
    from the River                                               201-228

  _RICHMOND TO BATTERSEA_:--

    Richmond Bridge--Between Richmond and Kew--Sion House--The
    River at Kew--The Pagoda in Kew Gardens--Kew Gardens--Cambridge
    Cottage--High Water at Mortlake--Hogarth's Tomb--The University
    Boat-race--Richmond to Battersea (_Map_)--Old Hammersmith
    Bridge--Old Putney Bridge and Fulham Church                  229-257

  _BATTERSEA TO LONDON BRIDGE_:--

    Battersea Bridge--Cheyne Walk--Vauxhall Bridge, from Nine Elms
    Pier--Lambeth Palace and Church--The Victoria Tower--The Abbey,
    from Lambeth Bridge--York Gate--The Embankment--The River at
    Blackfriars--St. Paul's, from the Thames--Southwark Bridge--Cannon
    Street Station--Battersea to London Bridge (_Map_)           258-287

  _LONDON TO GRAVESEND_:--

    In the Pool--St. Magnus' Church and the Monument--London
    Bridge to Woolwich (_Map_)--Billingsgate: Early Morning--The
    Tower, from the River--Limehouse Church--The River below
    Wapping--Entrance to the East India Docks--The West India
    Docks--Millwall Docks--Millwall--Greenwich Hospital--View from
    Greenwich Park--The Albert Docks--Woolwich Reach--Woolwich
    Arsenal--Woolwich--Plumstead--Dagenham Marshes--Barking
    Abbey--Barking Reach--At Purfleet--Erith Pier--Tilbury
    Fort--Gravesend--At Gravesend--Woolwich to Gravesend (_Map_)
                                                                 288-336

  _GRAVESEND TO THE NORE_:--

    At Canvey Island--The Fringe of the Marshes--Hadleigh
    Castle--Leigh--Southend and the Pier--Sheerness Dockyard, looking
    up the Medway--Sheerness Dockyard, from the River--Mouth of the
    Thames: Low Water--Artillery Practice at Shoeburyness--Gravesend to
    the Nore (_Map_)--Outward Bound: Passing the Nore Light
                                                                 337-362

    We are indebted to Messrs. Taunt, of Oxford, for permission to use
    their photographs for the views on pages 15, 22, 56, 60, 65, 69,
    79, 91, 149, 169, 174, 195, 198, 200, 209, 220, and 334; to Messrs.
    Hill and Saunders for that on page 56; to Messrs. G. W. Wilson and
    Co., of Aberdeen, for that on page 54; to Messrs. W. H. Beer and
    Co. for those on pages 71, 80, and 85; to Messrs. Marsh Bros., of
    Henley, for those on pages 63, 77, 113, and 132; to Messrs. Poulton
    and Son, of Lee, for that on page 335; to Mr. F. H. Secourable,
    of Southend, for that on page 351; to Mr. S. Cole, of Gravesend,
    for those on pages 354 and 355; and to Mr. F. G. O. Stuart, of
    Southampton, for those on pages 83 and 153.


                       [Illustration: THE THAMES
                                 FROM
                            SOURCE TO SEA.]



                      /Rivers of Great Britain./


                  [Illustration: THE SEVEN SPRINGS.]


                              THE THAMES.



CHAPTER I.

ABOVE OXFORD.

    The Source of the Thames--Early Names of the River--Seven
    Springs--Thames Head--The Churn and its Course--Thames and
    Severn Canal--Cricklade--Castle Eaton--Inglesham--Fairford and
    the Coln--Lechlade--The First Lock--Some Thames Flowers--Old
    Buscot--Hart's Weir--Bird Life--Radcot Bridge--Eddying
    Pools and Golden Shallows--Canal-like Reaches--Tadpole
    Bridge--Bampton--Duxford Ferry--Canute's Country--The Windrush--The
    Oldest Bridge--Old Father Thames--Disused Weir-pools--Bablock
    Hythe, Stanton Harcourt, and Cumnor--Skinner's Weir and Pinkhill
    Lock--Eynsham Weir, Bridge, and Cross--The Evenlode--Witham
    Hill--Thames Angling--Godstow--King's Weir--Port Meadow--Folly
    Bridge.


The birds, flowers, and bees around are, doubtless, in their several
ways, rejoicing with me in the balmy May morning radiant with warm
sunshine. Down the unsullied emerald of the little slope yonder,
carpeted with nodding cowslips, daisies, and buttercups, and faintly
azured in sheltered spaces with wild hyacinths, I have descended into
a rustic glade, not, at its widest, more than fifty yards across,
and running, roughly reckoning, north and south. The slope is easy,
springing as it does from a verdant bottom to the foot of a low wall;
this, pushing aside the glossy sycamore branches, I have leaped from
the Canal path, at a gap where the village children, on their recent
half-holiday, wastefully cast aside the surplus of their cowslip
harvest to wither and die. But from my present standpoint the low
wall is nearly hidden in undergrowth, and by a plentiful intermixture
of hawthorn, holly, and ash flourishing on the bank top. The
sweet-smelling grass is spangled with daisies and buttercups, though
not so profusely as in the field adjacent, which is destined for a crop
of hay; and the grove resounds with bird-music set in the rapturous
key of the bridal season. And there, a few paces athwart the sward,
under the shadow of trembling foliage, is the spot which for centuries
was said to be the birthplace of the River Thames. We are at Thames
Head, in Trewsbury Mead, in the parish of Cotes, in the county of
Gloucestershire, three miles south-west of Cirencester.

The mossy trunk, lying prostrate under the wall on the side of the
glade opposite the sylvan slope by which entrance has been effected,
invites the opportunity of a more minute observation. Seated thereupon,
far from the noisy world, we may make a fair and leisurely start upon
that long and interesting voyage from Source to Sea, upon which, in
this and succeeding chapters, the reader is invited to embark with
confidence and hope. Here, probably, is the identical spot which
Peacock, author of the "Genius of the Thames," had in his mind when he
wrote--

    "Let fancy lead from Trewsbury mead,
    With hazel fringed, and copsewood deep;
    Where, scarcely seen, through brilliant green,
    Thy infant waters softly creep."

The friendly branches of a wild rose hustle my elbow, or, rather, would
do so, but that a sturdier bramble bough interposes. On the other side
of me there is a charming tangle of hazel and blackberry bushes. There
is also a more than commonly bushy hawthorn overspreading the wall at a
portion where thick ivy covers it. A spreading wild rose is established
in the very middle of the glade, which is graced with quite an unusual
quantity of large and old hawthorn trees. A strong west wind soughs and
sighs in the trees; blackbirds and thrushes, by their liquid notes,
blithe and merry, seem to protest against the melancholy undertone, as
does a grand humble bee, in magnificent orange-velvet smallclothes, who
contributes a sympathetic bass solo as he drones by. But the object to
be chiefly noticed at this moment is the aged ash-tree yonder. It is
of medium size and no particular shape, though the ivy covering its
bole and lower limbs gives it an air of picturesque importance. Ragged
hawthorns and brambles surround it. The importance of the tree lies
in the circumstance that it marks the spot which the old writers, and
many modern authorities following in their footsteps, have pronounced
to be the source of the Thames. The supposition is that in former times
a perennial spring of water issued forth here, forming Thames Head.
The well, however, out of which the water might once have gushed, and
miscellaneously overspread the pasturage on its way to form a brook,
has in these days lost potency. For a long time past it has ceased to
yield water, and, as a matter of prosaic fact, from one end of the
glade to the other there is no sign of water in any shape or form. The
inhabitants of the countryside say that in the winter-time the waters,
provoked by long rains, still well forth in copious flood; but, even
granting this, we may not conclude that a spring so uncertain as this
in Trewsbury Mead is the source of the Thames. The obvious reflection
is that before the erection of the ugly pump-house which disfigures
the locality, and before the neighbouring springs began to be drained
for the service of the Canal, the supply of water was permanent and
strong, albeit there is ground for supposing that Thames Head was never
thoroughly to be relied upon. I have thus pictured for the reader the
source which appears to be favoured by topographers and antiquaries;
but there are other springs besides. Half a mile lower down there is,
near the Roman way, a basin--another Thames Head--which is sometimes
filled by a spring, and which is pictured on the next page in the
precise condition in which it appeared to our artist during the rains
of early spring. Yet another rill issues from a hill-side; and a
fourth, lower still, is perhaps the most clearly defined and strongest
of the group, and best entitled to the honour claimed on behalf of
the dried-up well in the green glade just described. The Thames Head
district seems, indeed, to abound in springs, and in wet weather the
level ground is probably freely intersected by brooklets, forming the
stream which is the undoubted head of Isis, and which has been called
the Thames from time immemorial.

On the very threshold of our task we are confronted, indeed, with two
sometime-disputed points which it will be necessary to clear away, or
come to terms with, if we would proceed upon our voyage of some two
hundred miles from source to Nore with a clear conscience. They relate,
first, to the name of the river; and second, to the precise spot in the
Cotswold country where it starts upon its wanderings. Neither of these
controversial subjects shall, however, detain us long from an intimate
acquaintance with the "mighty king of all the British rivers, superior
to most in beauty, and to all in importance," setting forth on its
career in humble smallness, gathering tranquil volume as it flows in
succession through the fertile counties of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,
Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Middlesex, Kent, and
Essex, and finally delivering its full tribute to the Northern Ocean.
What rare historical memories it evokes, what varieties of landscape it
touches and creates, let the following lines describe:--

    "The blood-stain'd scourge no tyrants wield,
    No groaning slaves enrich the field,
    But Health and Labour's willing train
    Crowns all thy banks with waving grain;
    With beauty decks thy sylvan shades,
    With livelier green invests thy glades;
    And grace, and bloom, and plenty pours
    On thy sweet meads and willowy shores.
    The field where herds unnumber'd rove,
    The laurell'd path, the beechen grove,
    The oak, in lonely grandeur free,
    Lord of the forest and the sea;
    The spreading plain, the cultured hill,
    The tranquil cot, the restless mill,
    The lonely hamlet, calm and still;
    The village spire, the busy town,
    The shelving bank, the rising down,
    The fisher's punt, the peasant's home,
    The woodland seat, the regal dome,
    In quick succession rise to charm
    The mind, with virtuous feelings warm;
    Till where thy widening current glides,
    To mingle with the turbid tides,
    Thy spacious breast displays unfurl'd
    The ensigns of th' assembled world."

[Illustration: "THAMES HEAD."]

It is now generally accepted that, from times as remote as those which
preceded the Conquest, the highest portion of the river was called the
Thames. The Saxon Chronicles so refer to it, and there is no reason to
suppose that the river crossed by the armies of Ethelwold and Canute
on their expeditions into the land of Mercia was ever known by other
name. How, and when, the river from Cricklade to Oxford acquired the
local name of Isis is not clear; but the idea was probably fairly
started, though not invented, by Camden, who had pretty visions of the
"marriage of the Tame and Isis." "This," wrote he, "is that Isis which
afterwards joining with Tame, by adding the names together, is called
Tamisis, chief of the British rivers, of which we may truly say, as
ancient writers did of Euphrates in the East, that it both plants and
waters Britain." It is sufficient for us now to recognise the fact that
above Oxford the river is impartially spoken of, now as the Thames,
and now as the Isis; and it is rather as a matter of convenience than
of dogmatic purpose that I shall elect henceforth to use the older and
more reasonable name--the Tameses of the Romans, the Temese of the
Saxons, and the Thames of modern days.

Equally fruitful of controversy has been the source of the Thames. It
has long been a question whether this grassy retreat, in which we are
supposed to be lingering, to wit, Thames Head, in the parish of Cotes,
near Cirencester, in the county of Gloucestershire, or Seven Springs,
near Cheltenham, should be regarded as the actual starting-point of
the river. Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, and different portions of
each, have occasionally contended for the honour. Many pages might be
filled with rehearsals of learned argument, and quotations from ancient
authorities, to support conflicting contentions; but I shall presently
invite the reader to follow the course suggested in regard to the name,
and make an arbitrary law unto himself. It is not to be denied that
the balance of acceptation by topographers of olden times pointed to
Thames Head as the generally received source. Leland, sometimes called
the Father of English Antiquaries, settles it thus:--"Isis riseth at 3
myles from Cirencestre, not far from a village cawlled Kemble, within
half a mile of the Fosse-way, wher the very hed of Isis ys. In a great
somer drought there appereth very little or no water, yet is the stream
servid with many of springes resorting to one botom."

[Illustration: THE SOURCES OF THE THAMES.]

Ill, therefore, will fare the visitor to Thames Head, who seeks it, as
I have done, full of poetical fancies and pretty conceits about the
source of rivers in general, and the birthplace of the famous English
stream in particular. However charming he may find the place to be, and
charming it certainly is, he will be doomed to disappointment if he
thinks he has reached the source of our royal stream. I was bound for
the identical spot, as I congratulated myself, where

            "From his oozy bed
    Old Father Thames advanced his rev'rend head,
    His tresses dropped with dews, and o'er the stream
    His shining horns diffused a golden gleam."

As we have seen, the explorer will, at first, experience failure in
his endeavour to find, with any satisfactory clearness, either old
Father Thames or his oozy bed. Arrived at the ancient Akeman Street,
or Fosse-way, "3 myles" from Cirencester, a choice of no fewer than
four springs is presented. The village of Cotes, the Roman mound known
as Trewsbury Castle, Trewsbury Mead, and the unromantic chimney of
the Thames and Severn Canal Engine-house are plain enough, here and
there--landmarks, all of them, for the industrious searcher; but there
is no sign of flowing water, or, indeed, of water in repose. You will
look in vain for semblance of a bed which might be that of a river. It
was only after considerable trouble that I obtained any information,
and was guided to this well, named by tradition as the original and
primary source of the Thames, and reached by proceeding for a quarter
of a mile from the high road (where it crosses the railway) along the
walk bordering the Canal.

The reader, however, is hereby invited to regard, not Thames Head, but
Seven Springs, near Cheltenham, as the natural and common-sense source
of the River Thames. Some three miles south of the town, in the parish
of Cubberley, or Coberley, to quote the words of Professor Ramsay, "the
Thames rises not far from the crest of the oolitic escarpment of the
Cotswold Hills that overlook the Severn."

After pausing on the shoulder of Charlton Hill, and admiring--as
who can fail to do?--the magnificent panorama of hill and valley
receding into the mist of distance north and north-east, you proceed
from Cheltenham along the Cirencester road to the crossways. A short
divergence to the right, and a dip in the road brings you to a piece of
wayside turf, with, beyond, a corner shaped like an irregular triangle.
One side of this might be, perhaps, seven yards in length, another
four yards, and the third something between the two. The triangular
depression is reached by one of those little green hillocks so often
to be found on English waysides. The bottom is covered with water,
which, in spite of the place being no-man's-land, is clear as crystal,
and in its deepest part there was not, at the time of my visit, more
than six inches of water. The bed of this open shallow reservoir is not
paved with marble, or even concrete, but is liberally provided with
such unconsidered trifles as the weather or playful children would cast
there. When the wind sets that way a good deal of scum will gather in
the farther corner, formed by two walls. The turf near the water's edge
is worn away, and the green hillock has been trodden into a mere clay
bank by the feet of cattle and men, for it is, as I have said, a patch
of common land abutting upon the road. Overhead, stretched from the
telegraph posts, you may count nine unmistakable wires parallel with
the wall which forms the base of our triangle. On the side farthest
from the road the bank is high. A venerable hawthorn has become wedded
apparently to an equally venerable ash, whose topmost boughs coquette
at close quarters with the telegraph wires. Another ash-tree, at the
outer point of the triangle, leans over the water. Between the trees a
little sloe bush keeps sturdy foothold. You may mark, moreover, a few
straggling briars, bits of silver-weed, a root or two of the meadow
cranesbill, a clump of poverty-stricken meadow-sweet, some fool's
parsley, wild strawberry plants, and a good deal of bold and always
flourishing dandelion. This is the environment of the true source of
the great River Thames. We are at Seven Springs.

Hence multitudinous initials are rudely carved upon the old trees and
on the stone walls; hence strangers, during summer, drive hither and
pay homage. Clear away the scum from the water at the foot of the wall
and a small iron grating explains how the waters, always bubbling clear
and cool from the Seven Springs, pass away. On the other side of the
wall the inflow forms a pond in private grounds. Thence it descends by
a homely fall into a smaller pond, and by yet another insignificant
fall into what for some distance is sometimes little better than a
stagnant ditch. A lower fall, however, of more determined character
than the others, sets in motion a clear rill, which, though tiny in
volume and unpretentious in present aims, sets off upon its gravelly
course as if it knew that by-and-by it would form an estuary upon which
the navies of the world might ride in safety. Just now a child might
leap across. It is a mere thread of water, yet the streamlet begins
at once to proceed in a business-like way under the solid hedgerows
separating the fields, and soon becomes a decided brook. This is a
tangible beginning, at all events. The Seven Springs are on evidence in
a convenient enclosure; they may be recognised as, silently sparkling,
they gush from the bank which gives roothold to the hawthorn and ash;
and the infant river is always in sight from the moment it assumes the
form of a tiny streamlet.

It is difficult to conceive how it has come about that Thames Head on
the one part and Seven Springs on the other have been considered rival
claimants for the honour of being the cradle of the Thames. It is true
that both streams (for Thames Head eventually, by sundry means, becomes
a stream) rise from the eastern slopes of the Cotswolds; but they are
many miles apart, and Thames Head is nearly fifteen miles nearer the
sea than Seven Springs. The rivulet issuing from Seven Springs, and
which presently becomes the River Churn is, in the present day at
least, the distinct stream which continues its unbroken course to the
Nore, and it is the source which is farthest from the mouth of the
Thames.

Leland, nevertheless, writing at the time of Henry VIII., fixes, as
we have seen, upon Thames Head as the source. Stow, with less detail,
adopts the same locality; Camden does likewise; Atkins declares that
the river riseth in the parish of Cotes; Rudder that it has been
reputed "to rise in the parish of Cotes, out of a well." Modern
tourists regularly visit both places, and in great numbers, during the
summer season, and in the case of Thames Head are probably taken now
to the uppermost glade, which I have described, and now to the spring
nearer the engine-house of the Thames and Severn Canal, represented
by the illustration. The neglect of the alleged sources by the local
authorities of both Cirencester and Cheltenham is to be explained,
probably, on the old principle, that what is everybody's is nobody's
business. Since, however, people go in full faith to both Seven Springs
and Thames Head, some record, however simple, might surely be upraised
at both for the enlightenment of the wayfaring man.

Dealing with this question at more length perhaps than the subject
requires, I may be allowed to repeat that in these days there ought to
be no manner of doubt that the natural and legitimate source of the
Thames is that shallow, neglected, triangular pool formed by the Seven
Springs. The Cotswold Hills are, in any case, above dispute as the
cradle-ground of the river, and may be happy with either claimant.

    "But Cotswold, be this spoke to th' onely praise of thee,
    That thou, of all the rest, the chosen soyle should bee,
    Faire Isis to bring forth, the mother of great Tames,
    With whose delicious brooks, by whose immortal streames
    Her greatnesse is begun."

Following the fortunes of the Seven Springs, you naturally enter with
some degree of zeal into an expedition down the River Churn, and this
you are able to do without losing sight of the excellent road between
Cheltenham and Cirencester. The pretty little dancing trout stream
runs hard by the highway, mostly through a succession of beautiful
estates, and generally thickly overhung with alders and other bushes.
Drayton hit off the character of the stream most accurately in calling
it the "nimble-footed Churn;" and its picturesqueness, and musical
flow between the wooded hills and through the fat meadows, as we near
Cirencester, appeal to us, even on the score of sentiment. Surely it
is more pleasant to identify this as the Thames than that commonplace
current proceeding from the Thames Head series of springs. There is
no necessity, however, to trace in detail the course of the beck-like
Churn, by wooded uplands teeming with game, and through rustic villages
and sequestered grounds. It runs through Rendcombe to North Cerney,
down by Baunton, and through the once famous and still interesting town
of Cirencester. The Fosse-way mentioned in connection with Thames Head
was one of three great Roman roads which met here. Mentioned by Roman
historians as Corinium and Cornovium, the strongly fortified city of
Cirencester, the metropolis of a Roman province was, there is reason
for believing, a considerable British town before it became a Roman
centre. In the time of Henry VIII. the Roman wall surrounding the city
might yet be traced, and, as the histories of Gloucestershire show,
many Roman remains have from time to time been discovered here. The
Churn sustains its brook-like character alongside the Cricklade road
by Addington, South Cerney, and Hailstone Hill, and then within a mile
of the town of Cricklade it unites with the other branch issuing from
Thames Head, to which it is necessary briefly to return, in order to
administer to it the justice already bestowed upon what we have agreed
to regard as the rightful heir, namely, the Seven Springs stream, or
River Churn.

The Thames and Severn Canal is so intimately associated with Thames
Head, and so dominates that particular part of the country, that a few
words respecting it may be spared. Indeed, it has dealings, directly or
indirectly, with the Churn as well as with the Thames Head stream. Not
far from Trewsbury Mead it gives a position to Thames Head Bridge, and
the Canal lies within a few yards of the traditional spring. The first
tributary is formed by a spring issuing from beneath the aqueduct,
and not far from the Canal stands the single-arch watercourse, here
illustrated as practically the first bridge over the Thames. The course
of the Canal, however, almost immediately bears eastward, until it
strikes the Churn, near which it keeps during the remainder of its
independent career. The Thames and Severn Canal is an interesting fact
which the present generation is in danger of forgetting. For many years
the junction of "fair Sabrina" with "lordly Thames" was a burning
question in the commercial worlds of London and Bristol. The merchants
were much fascinated with the speculations in which they indulged. The
Canal scheme was launched in a Bill in the reign of Charles II., and
Mr. Hydrographer Moxon was engaged to survey the ground and prove to
what extent the project was practicable. Pope, in the grandiloquent
language of the time, in a famous letter written at Oakley, Lord
Bathurst's country house at Cirencester, said, "I could pass whole days
in describing the future and as yet visionary beauties that are to rise
in these scenes: the palace that is to be built, the pavilions that
are to glitter, the colonnades that are to adorn them; nay, more, the
meeting of the Thames and Severn, which, when the noble owner has finer
dreams than ordinary, are to be led into each other's embraces, through
secret caverns of not above twelve to fifteen miles, till they rise and
celebrate their marriage in the midst of an immense amphitheatre, which
is to be the admiration of posterity a hundred years hence."

[Illustration: THE FIRST BRIDGE OVER THE THAMES.]

The Canal was completed sixty-eight years after this dream was indulged
in, and in December, 1790, the first Canal boat, laden with coals,
passed through. The Canal is a continuation of the Stroudwater system
from the Severn to Wallbridge, near Stroud, and runs in a devious
course from that point to Lechlade. It is thirty miles long, forty-two
feet broad at the top, and thirty feet at the bottom. Between Stroud
and Sapperton the water is raised 241 feet in less than eight miles, by
means of locks.

Returning now to the lower spring of the Thames Head group, the course
of this branch of the river may be traced from the expanded water
giving growth to the ancient watercress bed, and receiving its first
modest tributary rill from the spring proceeding from under the Canal
aqueduct. Hence the brook meanders through meadows, and, near the
railway, passes under the roadway. The village of Kemble lies half a
mile back, and the stream passes under and alongside the road from
Kemble to Ewen, beneath a considerable culvert, or trio of culverts.
The first mill on the Thames was, in former times, at Ewen; but a cosy
farmhouse now occupies the site, and the water which in former days set
the drowsy wheel in motion is turned aside for sheep-washing purposes.
The first mill now is Somerford Upper Mill, with its pretty setting of
elm-trees, and charming rural surroundings. Somerford Keynes, on the
elevated ground to the left, was bestowed as a marriage gift upon Ralph
de Kaineto by Henry I., and an ancient charter granted to the Abbot
Aldelm of Malmesbury contains the following incidental reference to the
river as the Thames:--"Cujus vocabulum Temis juxta vadum qui appellatur
Somerford."

Throughout the varied and interesting voyage upon which we are embarked
the spires and towers of churches will be ever present, graceful and
welcome features of many a landscape, now set upon a hill like a city
which cannot be hid, now half concealed by mantling ivies, and shunning
observation amongst the rugged elms which shelter their roofs and
windows. The square tower of venerable All Saints, Somerford Keynes, is
one of the earliest to claim attention as a typical parish church of
rural England, very dignified in its age, and in its maternal relation
to the cottages around the churchyard. The stream not far below this
point serves another rustic mill, and a noticeable object later on is
a homely foot-bridge supported by upright slabs of stone. At Ashton
Keynes there are sundry small bridges spanning the current, soon to be
sensibly increased in depth and width by Swill Brook, whose proportions
have for the last mile of its course been not inferior to those of the
Thames Head stream. The young River Thames was once, as is supposed,
navigable to Water Hay Bridge for boats of moderate size; but this must
have been before the aqueduct of the North Wilts Canal crossed it, or
West Mill was built.

The ancient town of Cricklade reconciles any differences, and
effectually ends all disputes as to individual claimants, by affording
the two branches an opportunity of uniting their forces a short
distance below the bridge. Here the Churn, from its north-western
source, merges into the stream which has been always apparently called
by the name of Thames. In this district it formed the boundary of the
forest of Braden in the time of Canute. James Thorne, in his accurately
written "Rambles by Rivers," does no injustice to the town of Cricklade
when he speaks of it as dull to look at, dull to live in, and no less
dull to talk about. There is, indeed, little about which to talk in
connection with it, though we may, in passing, smile on recalling
Drayton's words in his "Polyolbion"--

    "Greeklade whose great name yet vaunts that learned tongue
    Where to Great Britain first the sacred Muses sung,
    Who first were seated here at Isis' bounteous head,
    As telling that her fame should through the world be spread."

It has been alleged by certain authorities that a college here, founded
by a school of ancient philosophers, became famous for its Greek
learning, and hence the name of the town. It has also been insisted
that a few miles down the river a rival college, maintained with
similar success in the Latin interests, gave a name to the community
which lived under its learned shadow; or, as Fuller said, "The Muses
swam down the stream of the River Isis to be twenty miles nearer to the
rising sun." In this manner fanciful writers have sought to explain the
origin of the words Cricklade and Lechlade.

[Illustration: CRICKLADE.]

Cricklade is important to lovers of the Thames as being the first
definite station on its upper waters. From the southern watershed come,
besides the Swill Brook, the Dance and the Rey. The last-named, a
contribution from the range of hills around Swindon, has been thought
worthy by a few enthusiasts of the distinction of contesting with
Thames Head and Seven Springs the responsibilities of parentage. The
Thames passes under a plank bridge at Cricklade, and becomes very
shallow before receiving the tributaries above indicated. Thames
tourists rarely push their explorations so high as Cricklade, which,
other than two well-preserved specimens of fourteenth-century crosses
(as is conjectured), and the prominent share in the landscape taken
by St. Mary's Church and churchyard, as seen from Eisey foot-bridge,
offers few attractions to the visitor. The scenery of the river hereto,
and in truth for many a mile to come, is of a pleasing order, yet on a
small and unpretentious scale. Farmhouses, with their surroundings of
rick-yard and orchard; hamlets and villages in sleepy remove from the
noisy world; a country house set in blooming gardens at odd intervals;
pasture land and grain-fields, separated by old-fashioned hedges that
are gay with flowers in spring and summer, with deeply-hued berries
in the mellow autumn;--on every hand and at every turn these form the
landscape. The river itself, so far, claims no particular notice, calls
for no warmth of admiration. It makes no noise, performs no astonishing
feats, inspires no terrors, but steals tranquilly through the meadows,
and silently flows by the plentiful rushes which, unmolested, protect
its banks in these remote reaches.

Castle Eaton Bridge, over four miles below Cricklade town, is perhaps
the centre of the best of the rural scenery of this district, but it
demands no special pause. The church tower, which shows boldly above
the meadow, two miles farther on, belongs to Kempsford. King Harold was
once a property-owner here. William the Conqueror subsequently gave the
manor to one of his Norman soldiers, and, as was not uncommon in early
days, it ultimately fell into possession of Mother Church, by whom, at
the time of dissolution, it was disgorged and granted to the Thynne
family. The edifice upon the river-side was probably built in the
fourteenth century. There was also a castle at Kempsford, of which a
fragment of window and a bit of wall remain, and a portion of the tower
known as the Gunners' Room. The occupants of the Gunners' Room, when
the building was habitable, had the advantage of looking out upon the
river. A horseshoe nailed to the church-door long sustained the legend
that when powerful Henry, Duke of Lancaster, the builder of the church,
was quitting the place for ever, his horse cast a shoe, which the
inhabitants nailed up in proud remembrance of the honour. The traces of
an old weir, as we proceed downwards with such speed as the thickets
of reeds and weeds will allow, if we are attempting the passage in a
boat, remind us that in days when even inconsiderable streams were
valuable as highways for barge and boat traffic the channel of the
Thames was not so neglected as it will in these days be found. In other
respects also its character has doubtless changed, as indicated by the
stepping-stones across the foundation of the weir-sill, upon which the
passenger, during summer level, may step dryshod from bank to bank.
Below Hannington Bridge (with Highworth Church in the distance), the
rushy pool, almost choked up with aquatic growths, still bears the
name of Ham Weir. A sharp northerly bend in the river opposite the
village of Upper Inglesham marks the separating-point of Berks and
Wilts. Born in Gloucestershire, the Thames has latterly diverged for a
brief excursion into Wilts, but now returns again, and from Kempsford
until, a few miles onward, Oxfordshire is entered, it is the boundary
between Gloucestershire and the southern counties of Wilts and Berks.
The River Cole joins the Thames on the eastern bank. The little stream,
in a charming Berkshire valley lying south, has given a name to Lord
Radnor's mansion, Coleshill, famous as a perfect specimen of the style
of Inigo Jones, and it arrives, accordingly, with some degree of repute
on its own account.

[Illustration: INGLESHAM ROUND HOUSE.]

For many years the highest weir upon the Thames was at Inglesham, known
for the picturesque church, with its bell-turret overlooking the river,
and the remarkable piece of carved stone in the porch wall, but of more
interest to us as the meeting-place of the Coln, the Thames and Severn
Canal, and the Thames.

The Canal we have already glanced at. The Coln is a trout stream of
some value, but it receives its fame principally from association with
the town of Fairford; and Fairford is famous because of the painted
church windows supposed to have been designed by Albert Dürer. The
Round House at Inglesham is the final lock-house of the Thames and
Severn Canal, and it indicates the stage at which the Thames becomes
a river of importance. It is broader and deeper than heretofore, and
was once navigable for barges of from thirty to seventy tons burden,
drawing four feet of water; but a channel of such proportions has not
existed for many years, and the river threatens to lose all pretensions
to a waterway before long, unless its guardians dredge to more purpose
than they have done in recent years. Once upon a time, when the ports
of Bristol and London were not connected by railway, there was constant
traffic through Inglesham Lock, and the Round House was a conspicuous
beacon for the bargees of the period; but the lock-keeper's berth has,
it is needless to explain, in modern days become a sinecure. The angler
at this meeting of the waters is the gainer, and his practised eye will
mark the juncture as a probable haunt of the voracious pike.

The Highworth road is carried by a substantial one-arch bridge (to the
left of the compass of the illustration on the next page) over the
river at Lechlade, and in the fields, half a mile below, we arrive at
the first lock on the Thames. There are a lock-house and garden to rest
in, Thames Conservancy notices to be read, and ancient lock-keeping
folk to talk with. It is a very old lock. In the natural order of
things it cannot last much longer, and at no distant date, no doubt,
it will give place to one of the more useful, but infinitely more
prosaic, affairs of iron, with modern improvements in the machinery,
which the Conservancy supplies when it is necessary to replace the
original structures. The partly-decayed boards, the hand-rail rising
from their outer edge, the lock gates patched many a time, and thinned
in regard to their outer casing by many a winter flood, have done
their work, and stand in weather-worn picturesqueness, all awry, doing
their remaining duty as best they may. Looking westward, the spire of
Lechlade Church, and, indeed, its tower and the greater part of the
body of the building, shaded with ivy, make a very harmonious object of
middle distance. The village, neat, substantial, and mature, rallies
round it, with woods extending on either hand, and at its left flank
stands the well-built, arched structure, which may be said to be the
first bridge worthy of the name upon the river. It will be, perhaps,
half a mile from the lock to the bridge, as the crow flies, but the
Thames winds among the flat meadows in serpentine twists. Still
farther on the line of the horizon, as, seated on the lever-beam used
for opening the lock, we look westward, is a little picket of six
poplars, marking the whereabouts of the solitary Round House, which
substantially marks the limit of the navigable part of the Thames. The
scene, thus comprising woods, village, church, bridge, and the long
line of low trees terminated by poplars, is peculiarly English, and
of a character that we shall see reproduced in endless variety--every
prospect pleasing--until the last lock is reached at Teddington. But
this is the first lock, 144 miles from London Bridge, and 125 from
Teddington weir. Between the two there are many subjects of interest;
but there is only one first lock, and upon this we may bestow closer
attention than common. In the meadow is a big hawthorn on which the
hips are already forming, and on a hot summer day the dairy kine will
find shelter, lazily flicking the flies from their hides. Haycocks
are plentiful on all sides. Yonder the men are hoisting a load of
sweet-smelling hay upon the rick. Farther in the distance a late
crop is falling in regular swathes; and when the gurgle of the water
escaping from the dilapidated lock-gates moderates for a moment we can
hear the mower whetting his scythe. The meadow upon which the first
Thames Conservancy notice board has been erected, opposite the neat
lock cottage, has not, it seems, been laid down for hay this year,
and so offers a variety for the satisfaction of the artistic eye--to
wit, masses of newly-shorn sheep lying on the grass, and dappled kine
steadily feeding, what time the swallows and swifts are hawking around,
and small birds warble in the reeds.

[Illustration: LECHLADE--THE FIRST LOCK.]

The Thames hereabouts, notwithstanding the prevailing officialism, is
very modest. At the period of my last visit I found that there had been
no floods for eighteen months; and the river, as our boatman put it,
had long wanted washing out. In its widest part in the neighbourhood
of the first lock it is not more than twenty yards from bank to bank,
and on each side there are thick margins of bull-rush, sedge, and
flag. The water is fairly deep, but cumbered with masses of weeds,
out of which spring the tall rank stems of water-parsnip, while here
and there small, compact, yellow water-lilies gleam like moidores on
a silver plate. The river runs parallel with the lock channel under
St. John's Bridge, a comparatively new and good-looking structure of
one arch. It is about a mile from the town of Lechlade, and near it
is the old-fashioned "Trout" Inn, still maintaining all the homely
characteristics of the English countryside inn. A great sycamore
overshadows it; there is an old-fashioned garden at the rear, and
its little orchard, with a noble walnut-tree in the centre, offers a
pathway to the pool. There is something in the semblance of a weir at
St. John's Bridge, though it is of the most rudimentary kind, having
fallen naturally into decay, and even into desuetude. Still, the small
sluices are occasionally lifted, and serviceable streams are formed to
keep the pool in motion, and prevent the patriarchal trout from giving
notice to quit. At the end of St. John's Bridge tradition placed the
priory of Black Canons, but of this there is no more substantial record
than that of ink and paper. A few yards beyond the garden, on the left
bank, the River Lech creeps into the Thames.

The regulation towpath exists from this point downwards, but for miles
to come it is, like the boundaries of counties, a generally invisible
line. The path is never trampled by horses, since barge traffic is
unknown. For the towage of pleasure boats it is occasionally used,
though these upper regions are rarely indeed penetrated by tourists.
This is a pity; for there are a quietude and utter rurality about the
river from Lechlade till within the precincts of Oxford that will be
looked for in vain upon the busier haunts. Farther down there are
glimpses--samples, so to speak--of what we have here in the bulk. We
shall here find none of those notable Thames scenes that have been
written about and painted from the olden times to the present day.
Progressing from Lechlade downwards you feel altogether removed from
the haunts of men. A patient angler sitting in his home-made boat under
the overhanging boughs of a tree you will occasionally pass, and the
presence of labourers toiling in the meadows informs you that this is
not wholly a sleepy hollow. But river traffic, in the common meaning
of the term, there is none. For a whole day you will probably not meet
a boat; and there is no necessity to sigh for a lodge in some vast
wilderness, some boundless contiguity of space, seeing that you have so
excellent a substitute at hand. The solitude is, in truth, delightful.
As you drop down between the banks you see drawn up in review order
regiments of familiar friends--the dark glossy leaves of the water
dock, bursting into seed in July; huge clumps of blue forget-me-nots
that can only be plucked from a boat; ox-eyed daisies, well above
high-water mark, gleaming as fixed stars in the floral firmament; the
yellow-flowering great watercress, the purple loose-strife beginning to
blossom, yellow iris, the white flowers of the common watercress, the
pink persicaria, meadow-sweet, the comfreys, and sometimes a clump of
arrowheads. From one to another flits the superb dragon-fly:--

    "One almost fancies that such happy things,
    With coloured hoods and richly-burnished wings,
    Are fairy folk, in splendid masquerade
    Disguised, as if of mortal folk afraid;
    Keeping their joyous pranks a mystery still,
    Lest glaring day should do their secrets ill."

A mile and a half of winding and uniformly narrow river brings us to
rare old Buscot. The days of its weather-stained lock and weir are
numbered too, but so long as they remain they will be, in conjunction,
an object such as the artist loves, and a reminder to us all of other
days when the world was not so jaded as now, when things were not
so new, and when the ways of men were more primitive. There is a
very fine tumbling bay on the farther side of the weir, and a sharp
sweep of swiftly-running water coursing over a gravelly shallow,
upon which the trout come out to feed at eventide, and the silvery
dace and bleak poise in happy security during the long summer days.
One is tempted naturally to land at the little village. The square,
solid, countryfied-looking church tower, surrounded by old trees, and
approached through a flower-garden, suggests, as your boat pauses at
the lock, that it will be better to spend a quarter of an hour afoot
than in the tedious process of passing through. Buscot is not a large
or a pretentious place, but it is pleasant to look at, and deserves
mention in passing, as giving name to the first weir of goodly size. A
particularly pretty bit of the river, winding, tree-lined, and narrow,
is followed by a long unromantic stretch.

Quaint, time-honoured Hart's Weir is so little a weir that the ordinary
boat shoots the open half on the strength of a miniature rapid
representing, at a summer level of the river, a fall of three or four
inches only. The water there opens out into a wide bay that is purling
rather than tumbling; and this is succeeded, in the ordinary course of
nature, by a silted-up shallow, densely covered in their season with
the white, yellow-eyed blossoms of the water crowfoot. Kelmscott on
the north, and Eaton Hastings on the south, are the nearest villages.
The banks of the Thames are now clearly defined by those trees which
love to spread their branches to a river. The Thames does not, like the
Loddon, encourage a monopoly of alder, but favours rather the familiar
willow, the Lombardy poplar, and the plentiful hawthorn. Clumps of old
elms, most picturesque of English trees when standing on village green,
or as a rearguard to church or manor-house, vary the prospect. White
and red wild roses are plentiful in the higher reaches of the river,
and every turn of the narrow stream offers new combinations of wood and
field:--

    "No tree in all the grove but has its charms,
    Though each its hue peculiar; paler some,
    And of a wannish grey; the willow such,
    And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf,
    And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm;
    Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
    Lord of the woods, the long surviving oak."

After Hart's Weir the Thames settles down to an interval of
insignificance. There is an indescribably soothing influence exercised
by a river in the soft mood which characterises the Thames throughout.
How pleasant it is to be simply moving with the current, which does so
much and is heard so little. Loud, even, by comparison with the murmur
of the waters, is the sighing of the breezes amongst the shock heads of
the willows, and the silver shiver of the poplars. Under the spell of
this influence the prosaic features of a reach like that between Hart's
Weir and Radcot serve as a foil for the more lovely objects. Besides,
occasional descents from the higher platforms of admiration, to which
special points of interest are apt to summon you, give time for
reflection and observation. Thus you will not be long in discovering
that in these veritably upper reaches of the Thames what of animal life
is still left may be seen without let or hindrance. The birds here are
in no danger from the cockney fowler's gun. Amongst the water-fowl the
most frequent appearance is that of the common moor-hen, which breeds
as freely as ever, and still maintains its character as amongst the
tamest of our wild birds. The coot is less often seen, but the heron
will be often disturbed from its busy occupation on the shallows.
Even in much-frequented reaches of the Thames the heron may still be
descried at a distance, shy, watchful, and wary. On both of the days
occupied by my voyage from Lechlade to Oxford I saw herons. They may
have travelled twenty miles from the heronry for their nightly or
early-morning forage, but you rarely can approach them within gunshot.
The bird is most artful and shy at all times; but I have always fancied
that the herons of the Thames Valley are the most wideawake of all.
They hear the thump, thump of the rowlocks half a mile off, rise from
their depredations, and wing their way slowly into the centre of a
field; or perchance you may see one doing sentry on the upper boughs of
a tall tree.

Between Hart's Weir and Radcot Bridge I descry three "herns" in one
meadow that had been so disturbed by our gliding boat. As they stand
motionless and lank in the fields, on a fence, or in the tree-tops,
only a practised eye can identify them. In summer-time, though rarely,
you put up a couple of wild ducks from the main river. The boating man,
as may be supposed, meets with less bird life than the pedestrian, who,
stealthily walking on the grass, will often obtain a passing flash of
a kingfisher, or witness the alarmed flight of rarer birds. My July
voyage brings me into constant companionship with troops of the wanton
lapwing, in glorious plumage and full of noisy life; rooks, as a matter
of course, busy, self-satisfied, and radiant in their blue-black
vesture; swallows, swifts, sand martins, and reed warblers. The common
sandpiper is about upon the shallows where the streams run swiftly,
and the elegant water wagtails abound. At intervals throughout the
day, near shrubby undergrowths and open meadows, the music of skylark,
thrush, or blackbird charms the ear, though the eye seeks in vain the
whereabouts of the performer. Four-footed creatures are few. The merry
vole is an exception, and in some of the woods the cautious searcher
may find squirrels in active play. The otter, seldom seen by the human
eye in broad daylight, is plentiful enough in the earlier stages of the
Thames, and of them, as of other wild creatures, it may be generally
said that they are not so harried and wantonly destroyed as in the
middle and lower parts of the river.

Radcot Bridge, of which we catch sight three miles from Hart's Weir,
is understood to be one of the oldest bridges on the Thames, and its
appearance is quite in character with this theory; moreover, it is
an interesting piece of stonework, apart from its age, its three
Gothic arches being curiously ribbed underneath. There is a very steep
ascent to the crown, and over the centre arch is still preserved
the socket in which, on the crest of bridges, the sacred cross was
wont to be uplifted. There are, in point of fact, two bridges at
Radcot, but the "real original" is the antique three-arched affair
to the right, as we drop down. The river is here divided, a short
cut to facilitate navigation and deepen the channel forming a new
departure. The old stream wanders round, when the weeds will allow it,
under the ribbed arches, leaving the channel of the new cut, like a
newly-come tradesman who has a contempt for the old-fogeyish methods
of the ancient inhabitants, to transact its business merrily, with
promptness and despatch. For a couple of miles or so the Thames has
now all the essential characteristics of a trout stream, with eddying
pools and golden shallows, over which the water ripples at a moderate
depth and at sparkling pace. In the hands of patient fish culturists
and preservers this portion of the river might be made, no doubt, a
trout stream; but salmo fario is as yet the least abundant of Thames
fishes. What are called the coarse fish, or summer spawners, are on the
contrary abundant, and most plentiful of all, under the willowy banks
of the meadows, are the chub, which, for want of better game, afford
passable sport to the fly-fisher, who, from the towpath, ought to be
able to command any portion of the Thames at this stage of its course.
In the wide deep pools marking the sites of old weirs, of which little
trace but the piers remain, there should be, and as a matter of fact
is, excellent angling for perch and pike.

[Illustration: RADCOT BRIDGE.]

Because the Thames has been so much praised, and so much the subject
of picture and poem, it does not follow that it is all pleasing to the
eye. After leaving Radcot Bridge, and with the exception of these
pools, once foaming and noisy with the action of the descending water,
some indifferently furnished reaches have to be passed--reaches that
are almost canal-like in the straightness of their course and in the
uninteresting character of the low-lying land on either side. The
country immediately bordering on the river is sparsely populated, and
the world must revolve somewhat slowly for those who live there. Some
indication of this may be gathered from the fact that at Rushy Lock,
where there is a fine weir and pool, we had the pleasure of being our
own lock keeper, opening the heavy gates, letting in the water, and
releasing ourselves. The labour accomplished, a small urchin of six
years of age was sharp enough to put in an appearance in time to take
the toll; it was evident, however, that traffic was so unexpected
that he alone had been left in charge, Indeed, during one whole day's
progress we met but two boats.

Tadpole Bridge, a substantial structure of one span, between four and
five miles below Radcot, carries the road from Bampton, where Phillips,
the author of an almost forgotten work, "The Splendid Shilling," was
born. The singular spire of Bampton Church is seen from Radcot Bridge,
the view from which also includes Faringdon Hill, and some effective
wooded heights around. The few tourists who make a pilgrimage from the
source to the mouth of the Thames, or those who visit these stations
for a sojourn of greater or lesser duration, turn aside from the river
and visit both Faringdon and Bampton. At Faringdon any traces of the
houses which withstood the hard knocks of the Cromwellian period are
gone; nothing but the site remains, and that only as a vague tradition,
of the castle built by the supporters of Queen Matilda, and pulled down
by the supporters of King Stephen. Sir Edward Unton, who was Queen
Elizabeth's ambassador at the French Court, is buried in the church.

Bampton, on the Oxfordshire side, is half town and half village, and
it has an indirect connection with the Thames, although it is some
distance from its banks, because the steeple, to which I have already
referred, is a striking mark upon the landscape. Not without reason has
the character of singularity been applied to it. From a square tower
rises an octagon steeple, with belfry windows; pinnacles at each corner
form basements of statues, and these are supported by slabs resting at
right angles against the steeple. Skelton says that the church contains
examples of almost every period of architecture, from the Conquest to
the reign of George III. It has a fine Norman porch, an inner arch that
is much admired, brasses, and a series of sculptures, probably work of
the fifteenth century.

There is not much material for description in the next few miles.
The river seems occasionally to lessen rather than increase in size,
and right and left you look in vain for anything worthy of inquiry
or admiration, save the comfortable old farmhouses and homesteads,
environed by the usual clump of characteristic elms; and, at farther
distance from the river, here and there a country mansion, secure in
the privacy of its trim park, suggesting always the happy language of
the poetess:--

    "The stately homes of England, how beautiful they stand,
    Amid their tall ancestral trees o'er all the pleasant land."

It is not till you have passed below Tadpole Bridge that the first beds
of white lilies challenge attention. The lilies hitherto have been of
the small yellow description; but now, in sheltered bays, thick beds
of the gorgeous white variety shine gloriously from between the large
glossy leaves. They are, fortunately, out of the line of every-day
Thames traffic, and are so spared to develop to maturity in waters
to which the steam-launch has not yet penetrated. About two miles
below Tadpole one's attention cannot fail to be arrested by the high,
skeleton-like, weather-worn bridge called Tenfoot Weir. This is another
site of a weir long fallen into disuse. The wooden bridge consists of
a central arch, or compartment, of staging set twenty feet high, with
steep flights of steps on either side, the central division marking
the outline of the old weir. A thatched cottage and thickly clustering
willows in the bend which is here formed by the course of the river
present an extremely picturesque variety to the monotonous character
of the previous mile of the Thames. Another object of interest will
be found a little lower down, at Duxford Ferry. Alongside a clump of
willows lies a "sheer hulk," representing one of the long, narrow
canal boats used when barges regularly plied where there is no water
to float them now. Close to the blackened, slimy timbers of the wreck
a promising family of calves cluster, as if pondering in bovine fancy
over the former glories of the defunct craft and the industry it
typified. A comfortable group of farm-buildings, thatched and tiled,
nestles at the head of the ferry, which is not furnished with the usual
horse-boat, for the simple reason that it may be crossed without any
such assistance. A child might walk across on the hard gravelly shallow
at ordinary times without being more than knee deep. It is, however,
more than twenty yards wide, and the stream concentrates immediately
afterwards to a width of not more than twenty feet; but it remains
shallow.

There are two or three fords in the course of the next few miles, all
of the same character. A rather notable one is that at Shifford. The
legend runs that in the locality Alfred the Great held one of his
earliest Parliaments, and there and then gathered "many thanes, many
bishops, and many learned men, proud earls, and awful knights." This
was to a great extent Canute's country. A mile or two on the Berkshire
side of the river, near Bucklands, is kept the Pusey horn, given to the
family by that king. The inscription upon it is, "I, King Knoude, give
William Pewse this horne to holde by thy londe." There are some doubts,
however, as to whether these letters are not of later date than the
time of Canute. At Longworth, another village, there are the remains of
an ancient encampment, Cherbury Camp, and here, it is said, a palace of
Canute's once stood.

The River Windrush, a more considerable tributary than any previously
received by the Thames, flows into the parent river from the north at
Newbridge. The point of debouchment might, by reason of the weeds and
rushes in the water and overhanging bushes of the banks, be easily
overlooked by a casual observer, and the Windrush, in this peculiarity,
closely resembles other feeders of the Thames, in looking its meanest
where it offers its volume to the parent river. The Windrush is one of
the Cotswold brood, and at Bourton-on-the-Water it becomes a valuable
trout stream. Great Barrington, whose freestone quarry furnished
the stone for Christopher Wren's restoration of Westminster Abbey,
is opposite the village of Windrush; the river afterwards enters
Oxfordshire, and by the peculiar quality of its waters gives to the
town of Witney a special pre-eminence in the whiteness of the blankets
produced by its fulling mills. The river is thirty-five miles long from
source to inlet to the Thames.

[Illustration: THE FERRY, BABLOCK HYTHE.]

The oldest, and in truth the oldest looking, stone bridge on the Thames
is called Newbridge, and this we approach below the place where Alfred
held his Parliament. The bridge is an excellent sample of old English
masonry. It has been Newbridge for at least 600 years now, yet its
groined arches and projecting piers seem as strong to-day as ever they
have been. A public-house accommodates the traveller on either side
of the bridge, one of them replacing a mill that perished for lack of
customers. Strange to say, the river seems immediately to change its
character when we have passed through these ancient arches. Not only is
the presence of a couple of working barges, with gaily-painted posts of
primary colours and vivid figure-subjects painted upon the panelling
of the deck cabin aft, evidence that another era in the commercial
character of the river is beginning, but the Thames, almost without
warning, becomes wider and deeper, and altogether more like the Thames
as we know it at the popular stations above the City boundaries, though
of course it is still the Thames in miniature. The barges come in these
days no farther than this station, and their business is mostly one not
unconnected with coal. These boats, moored near the old bridge, seem
to remind us that although heretofore we might have cherished the fancy
that the Thames was almost an idyllic trout stream, lending grace to a
rural district, it must henceforth be considered as being a recognised
water highway with a mission that becomes more and more important as
the distance to London Bridge is lessened. It is quite a remarkable
change, and in a few moments your estimate of the river changes also.
It is a thing now of laws and regulations. The very foliage on the
banks seems to be of a more permanent character. Hitherto the Thames
has been struggling with an indefinite career before it, winding
through the meadows, streaming over the shallows, not quite certain
whether it was to have a respectable position or not. But after
Newbridge it has set up a substantial establishment, wherefore--Isis
though it still may be and is called by the good Oxford people--it is
to all intents and purposes Old Father Thames. We have seen the Seven
Springs rill in its infancy and the Thames in its boyhood and lusty
youth; here, however, it enters upon its early manhood.

[Illustration: CUMNOR CHURCHYARD.]

Opposite Harrowden Hill, and to the west of Newbridge, Standlake Common
may be explored by whosoever would benefit by its attractions, which,
truth to tell, are very scanty. Snipe undoubtedly enjoy its boggy
virtues during the winter; but the common is a marshy tract at best,
and those who pass on to the village for the sake of its church of
Early English architecture, and the farmhouse said to be built by John
o'Gaunt and Joan his wife, do not care to linger there.

We shall pass two weir-pools, long disused, between Newbridge and
Bablock Hythe, namely, Langley, or Ridge's Weir, and Ark, or Noah's Ark
Weir. These and previous weirs referred to are of the very simplest
kind, and, except in the two instances mentioned, perform their service
independently of a lock. The object of this simple form of weir is to
dam the river to the required height for such purposes as mill heads or
navigation. The business is accomplished by the working of flood gates
or paddles in grooves, and between rymers, to the sill at the bottom.
In winter there may be a swift stream through the weirs, but, the weir
paddles being withdrawn, there is very little fall. Shooting the weir
stream--one of the adventurous feats of the upper navigation--is an
amusement unknown below Oxford, and at times it is not without its
risks.

[Illustration: STANTON HARCOURT CHURCH.]

Although Bablock Hythe by road is not much more than five miles from
Oxford, the circuitous voyage by Thames is twelve miles. Bablock Hythe
is a well-known station on the Upper Thames, albeit it does not boast
the rank of hamlet or village, and has for the accommodation of man
and beast only one of the small old-fashioned inns of the humblest
sort, where the rooms are low, the beams big and solid, the floors
flagged, and the apartments fitted up with all manner of three-corner
cupboards and antique settles. The great ferry-boat, however, gives it
a decided position of importance, and it is known to Thames tourists
principally as the starting-point for visiting either Cumnor or Stanton
Harcourt. Most people probably go to Cumnor from Oxford, the distance
being only about three miles; but many are glad to make it an excuse
for halting on the somewhat monotonous ascent of the river. The reader
needs scarcely to be reminded that Cumnor Place has been made immortal
by the pages of Sir Walter Scott, and that the sorrows of Amy Robsart
have been wept over by the English-speaking race in all parts of the
world. There is an inn at Cumnor still called after that hostelry
over which Giles Gosling firmly ruled, and in the church there is a
monument sacred to the virtues of Tony Fire-the-fagot and his family,
who are thus handed down to posterity in a far different character from
that suggested by Sir Walter as pertaining to the tool of the villain
Varney. Cumnor is on the Berkshire side, and on the Oxford side is
Stanton Harcourt, visited for the sake of the remains of its ancient
mansion, and its fine church. Visitors, probably, would not make the
journey exclusively in the interests of either one or the other, nor
of the two large upright stones called the Devil's Quoits, which one
historian conjectures were erected to commemorate the battle fought in
614 between the Saxons and the Britons.

[Illustration: EYNSHAM WEIR.]

The real attraction of Stanton Harcourt is historical, and historical
in several degrees. It was one of the vast estates which fell as loot
to the half-brother of William the Conqueror, and was evidently a
considerable possession. For more than 600 years the manor continued
in the Harcourt family. Little is left of the grand mansion in which
the lords of Stanton Harcourt dwelt. The Harcourt family gave it up as
a place of residence towards the close of the seventeenth century, and
it fell forthwith to decay. With the exception of the porter's lodge,
the arms on each side of the gate, showing that it was erected by Sir
Simon Harcourt, who died in 1547, and some upper rooms in the small
remaining part of the house adjoining the kitchen, are all that remain.
But there is a more recent historical interest attaching to Stanton
Harcourt; in a habitable suite of rooms in the deserted mansion Pope
passed the greater part of two summers, and to this day the principal
apartment bears the name of Pope's study. The little man required quiet
and retirement during his translation of the Fifth Book of Homer, and
upon one of the panes of glass he wrote, in the year 1718, "Alexander
Pope finished here the fifth volume of Homer." The Harcourts, however,
removed this pane to Nuneham Courtney, where it is preserved--a piece
of red stained glass, six inches by two. The old Stanton Harcourt
kitchen, converted to modern uses, was always a curiosity, and Dr.
Plott, the Oxford historian, says of it, "It is so strangely unusual
that, by way of riddle, one may truly call it either a kitchen within a
chimney or a kitchen without one, for below it is nothing but a large
square, and octangular above, ascending like a tower, the fires being
made against the walls, and the smoke climbing up them without any
tunnels or disturbance to the cooks, which, being stopped by a large
conical roof at the top, goes out at loopholes on every side, according
as how the wind sets, the loopholes at the side next the wind being
shut by folding doors, and the adverse side open."

The visitor at Stanton Harcourt should certainly not neglect an
inspection of the beautiful church, said to be the finest in the
country. It is cruciform in shape, and has a massive tower. The nave
is Norman, of about the twelfth century, and according to "a custom
established there time immemorial" the men entered through a large,
and the women through a small, doorway. A wooden roof to the nave is
understood to have been added in the fourteenth century, while the
chancel, transepts, and tower arches are of the thirteenth. The oaken
rood screen is reputed to be the oldest wooden partition of the kind in
the country. The Harcourt aisle or chapel, erected about the same time
as the mansion, is an example of the enriched Perpendicular style of
Henry VII., and it is still the burial-place of the ancient Harcourt
family. In the chapel, as in the body of the church, are several
interesting monuments, and one of them is famous. In Gough's sepulchral
monuments, where it is engraved, the following description is given:--

[Illustration: CROSS AT EYNSHAM.]

"This monument of Sir Robert Harcourt of that place, Knight of the
Garter, ancestor of the Earl of Harcourt; and Margaret his wife,
daughter of Sir John Byron, of Clayton, Lancashire, Knight, ancestor
of Lord Byron. He was Sheriff of Lancashire and Warwickshire, 1445,
elected Knight of the Garter 1463, commissioned with Richard Neville,
Earl of Warwick, and others, to treat of a peace between Edward IV. and
Louis XI. of France, 1467, and was slain on the part of the House of
York, by the Staffords, of the Lancastrian party, November 14th, 1472.
His figure represents him in his hair, gorget of mail, plated armour,
strapped at the elbows and wrists, large hilted sword at left side,
dagger at right, his belt charged with oak leaves, hands bare, a kind
of ruffle turned back at his wrists, shoes of scaled armour, order of
Garter on left leg, and over all the mantle of the Garter, with a rich
cape and cordon; his head reclines on a helmet, with his crest, a swan;
at his feet a lion. His lady, habited in a veil head-dress falling
back, has a mantle and surcoat and cordon, and a kind of short apron,
long sleeves fastened in a singular manner at the waist, and the Order
of the Garter round her left arm; her feet are partly wrapped up in her
mantle."

The Thames takes a northerly course from Bablock Hythe, and winds and
doubles in such contortions that in one part a strip of not more than
twelve yards of meadow separates two reaches of considerable length.

A high, wide wooden bridge, bearing the name of Skinner's Weir, now
crosses our course, and soon we come to Pinkhill Lock, so called from
a farm of that name in the neighbourhood. The weir is a new one,
a great contrast in its severe and formal cut to the weather-worn
structures to which we have been accustomed. The lock-house is quite a
dainty cottage, and the garden one of the prettiest to be found along
the Thames. The lock garden is generally a winsome little preserve,
with its kitchen garden, flower-beds, sometimes a beehive, its stack
of fagots, and a general air of rusticity; but the lock-keeper, or
probably his wife, at Pinkhill Weir has devoted special care and
attention to a flower-bed running the whole length of the lock,
which I found to be bordered by a blaze of summer flowers, prominent
amongst which were white and blue cornflowers. From the lock bridge a
commanding view is obtained of the hilly country to the right, and the
woods and copses around its base, and straggling to the top.

The telegraph wires along Eynsham Road detract considerably from
the rural flavour of the surroundings, and Eynsham Bridge itself
does not look so old as it really is. It is a very conspicuous, and,
indeed, handsome structure, with eight arches and a liberal amount of
balustrading in the central divisions of the parapets. Eynsham, Ensham,
Eynesham, or Emsham, has a history which goes beyond the Conquest,
and it is by right, therefore, that the bridge is named after the
village, though its real name, as decided by the Ordnance Map, is
Swinford Bridge. Early in the eleventh century an abbey was founded
here by the then Earl of Cornwall, and Ethelred, the reigning king,
signed the privilege of liberty with the sign of the holy cross. At the
Dissolution the abbey and its site passed into the ownership of the
Stanley family, but no ruins have been preserved. Ensham, or Eynsham
Cross, stands in the market-place of the village, opposite the church.
The bridge, as we now see it, was built about sixty years ago. The
village is pleasantly situated on rising ground.

A little below the bridge the picturesque materials of the weir are
stored when not in use, and the rymers are piled in a stack close to
the spot where they sometimes even now do effective service. Your boat
passes through, however, generally without let or hindrance. A little
farther on the Evenlode enters the Thames. Like its predecessors, it
seems a poor insignificant stream as it delivers its waters through a
reedy mouth to the Thames; but it has itself received the River Glyme,
which passes through Woodstock and Blenheim Park, and feeds the large
lake, now choked with weeds. The Evenlode is the last of the Cotswold
offerings thus embodied in verse by Drayton:--

    "Clear Colne and lively Leech have down from Cotswold's plain,
    At Lechlade linking hands, come likewise to support
    The mother of great Thames. When, seeing the resort,
    From Cotswold Windrush scrowers; and with herself doth cast
    The train to overtake; and therefore hies her fast
    Through the Oxfordian fields; when (as the last of all
    Those floods that into Thames out of our Cotswold fall,
    And farthest unto the north) bright Elnlode forth doth beare."

Woodstock is not more than four miles from Eynsham, but it is generally
reached from Oxford. The river winds now round the foot of Witham
Hill, and we are on close terms with the outskirts of the immense wood
through which one could walk for eight miles before losing its shade.
The portion that comes to within a few yards of the Thames consists
of oak-trees, with an occasional ash, and as we halt to sit a while
under the umbrageous canopy we receive as a salute the cooing of doves,
agreeable contrast to the reception, a few miles higher up, conveyed
in the harsh squawk of a couple of herons. Longfellow might have sat
amongst these identical brackens when he wrote:--

    "But when sultry suns are high,
    Underneath the oak I lie,
      As it shades the water's edge,
    And I mark my line, away
    In the wheeling eddy play,
      Tangling with the river sedge."

The Thames describes a sharp horseshoe curve round the base of the
hill. From the bank a fine view across the flat is obtained of
Cassington Church spire, and of the last mill on the River Evenlode,
making for the Thames midway between the bridge and Hagley Pool. The
paucity of pleasure-boats on the river between Lechlade and Bablock
Hythe may be attributed to the great weediness of the river, rendering
it sometimes almost impassable; also to the prevalence of shallows,
and the absence of anything particular to see, and the all-important
consideration that there are few hotels to stop at. There is not a
riverside house of call between the little cottage inn at Bablock Hythe
and Godstow. An occasional steam-launch finds its way from Oxford up
the Canal and into the Thames, by way of the Wolvercott Paper Mill; but
this unpleasant type of vessel is very rarely seen so far up, since the
forests of aquatic undergrowth are the reverse of favourable for the
working of the screw.

[Illustration: OXFORD, FROM GODSTOW.]

What the steam-launcher, however, loses is gained by the angler. This
mild sportsman I found to be very much in evidence below Bablock Hythe.
Here at any rate he was able to pursue his pastime in peace; and the
frequency with which he appeared on the bank from Eynsham downwards
gives me an opportunity of interjecting a few timely remarks upon the
Thames as a resort of fishermen. The professional fisherman, as we know
him at Richmond, Maidenhead, or Marlow, with his punt, Windsor chair,
and ground-bait, is unknown in the upper reaches of the river; but the
fish are there. Although anglers have multiplied a hundredfold within
the last half-century, the angling in the River Thames at the present
moment is better than it has been at any time during the present
generation. It is not to be hoped, with any reasonable confidence,
that the efforts now being made by the Thames Angling Preservation
Society to convert the Thames once more into a salmon river will be
successful; and any one who makes personal acquaintance with the source
of the Thames, and marks the character of the contributory streams,
will be prudent in entertaining a doubt as to whether there are now
breeding-grounds suitable, even if fish could be induced once more to
run up through the filth of the Pool from the sea. The alleged scarcity
of Thames trout is very often put down to the excessive disturbance
caused by steam-launches, and the traffic by pleasure-boats upon all
the reaches of the Thames, from Teddington Lock to Oxford. It is
somewhat strange, therefore, that the higher you ascend the Thames
the fewer become the Thames trout. There are a few large fish in most
of the deep wide pieces that were once weir-pools, or that still may
be so, between Lechlade and Oxford; but the water is too sluggish to
encourage them much, and trout, with the exception of truants from
Lech, Coin, or Windrush, are, therefore, few and far between. Pike, on
the other hand, are more numerous, if not of so large an average size
as those caught lower down. The Thames, from the start, abounds in
chub, bleak, barbel, gudgeon, roach, dace, and perch; bream, carp, and
tench are partial in their haunts. But the river above Oxford is not so
accessible as the great body of modern anglers would require, and hence
it comes to pass that these remote waters are little visited except by
the local disciples of Isaac Walton. The weeds are, after a fashion,
annually cut by the Thames Conservancy where their growth would be a
serious hindrance, but otherwise they are not kept down, save by the
uncertain operations of winter frosts and floods. The right of fishing
is generally, above Oxford, claimed by the riparian proprietors, or
their tenants.

[Illustration: THE THAMES FROM LECHLADE TO OXFORD.]

Soon after putting Bablock Hythe in our wake, the flat country, varied
by only occasional uplands, which had been the rule since leaving
Lechlade, is exchanged for a bolder type of scenery, as, for example,
the fine wooded eminence rising before us. This is Witham, of which we
shall see a good deal, now from one point, and now from another, as
we near the City of Learning. It requires no guide or guide-book to
inform us that from the summit a widespread view is obtained of the
valley of the Thames. Hitherto we have looked in vain for the typical
eyot. With the exception of one small islet below Hart's Number Two, or
Langley Weir, there has been nothing in the shape of an island until
we arrive at Hagley Pool, where the first solitary island appears. The
picture from here is exceptionally interesting. A rustic bridge spans a
backwater trending towards Witham Mill, and in the direction of Oxford.
The thickset woods stand out in prominent relief, and another farmhouse
of the higher class, surrounded by ricks, appears to the left. Hagley
Pool, which is merely a lake-like widening of the water at the bend,
is covered with the yellow water-lilies. Three miles from Eynsham we
are at Godstow Bridge. The spire of Cassington Church, a conspicuous
landmark on the left hand throughout, is a pleasanter object by far
than the tall chimneys on the right, which are not redeemed by the
rows of poplars that would fain hide them. It is unfortunate, but
true, that the first glimpses we get of the spires of Oxford are in
conjunction with the tall red-brick chimney and not elegant University
paper-mills. While following the bend at the broad part of the river
the public buildings of beautiful Oxford open one by one into view,
but again disappear temporarily at the next bend, at the head of which
stands King's Weir. This serves as much the purposes of a lock as a
weir, its gates opening when necessary to admit the passage of larger
craft than those which can be conveyed over the rollers supplied for
pleasure-boats. The river from the pool for some distance is almost
choked with weeds, very narrow, and of hardly sufficient depth at low
water to admit the passage of an ordinary pleasure-boat.

Godstow at once suggests the story, often told and always interesting,
of fair Rosamond. The lady gives a flavour also to Woodstock, some
eight miles distant. The wrongs and the rights of Mistress Rosamond
will never in this world be accurately known, but that she was poisoned
by jealous Queen Eleanor at Woodstock, and that she was the mistress
of Queen Eleanor's husband, Henry II., are facts which no one dare
deny. According to Lord Lyttleton, Henry II. met the frail daughter of
Walter, Lord Clifford at Godstow, in 1149, on his return from Carlisle,
the lady being at the time, in accordance with the custom of the age,
placed amongst the nuns to be educated. The nunnery is still known
by the ivy-clad walls which remain on its site. It was a nunnery of
the Benedictines, consecrated in the presence of King Stephen and his
Queen in the year 1138. The nunnery was dispossessed, and has crumbled
to ruins, but the brave river passes by even as in the olden times
before Henry VIII., the spoiler, gave the house to his physician, Dr.
George Owen. There was another nunnery at the foot of Witham Hill, but
that was an older establishment, which existed as early as 690, on the
spot where the Earls of Abingdon have their seat, partly built, it is
understood, by the stones of Godstow, even as the modern buildings at
Stanton Harcourt are supposed to have been erected from the stones
with which the original mansion was constructed. The ruins of Godstow
Nunnery, such as they are, catch one's eye first from the river. It may
be that the pathetic romance touching the silken thread and the bowl
of poison is not, as many hold, founded upon fact; but we cannot be
equally sceptical with regard to Rosamond's connection with Godstow.
She retired to the nunnery to pass the remainder of her days, after the
marriage of the king, in seclusion. She died, and was buried in the
choir, opposite the high altar, and Henry raised a grand monument to
her memory. The nuns forgot the frailty of the lady, remembering rather
the manner in which she had enriched the establishment, and the tokens
of favour they had received from the king on her account; and we read
that her remains were treated with much honour by the sisters, who hung
a pall of silk over her tomb, and set it about with lighted tapers.
This chronic honour was put an end to by Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln,
who, going to the nunnery and requesting to know why one particular
tomb should be so much honoured, was informed that it was the tomb of
Rosamond, sometime leman to Henry II. In order that the nuns might not
be led astray by having her example constantly set before them, and
that other women might beware, poor Rosamond's bones were cast out of
the church; but they were brought back again by the nuns, and wrapped
in perfumed leather.

The farther arch of the old bridge at Godstow has been removed to admit
of various improvements being carried out in one branch of the stream,
which here divides, and in order to widen the structure; but the two
arches of the ascent from the right-hand side remain as they were, and
the well-known "Trout" Inn at Godstow retains all its characteristics
of creepers, flowers, tiled roof, and pleasant waterside seats. A full
view of Oxford, set back beyond the farthest confines of Port Meadow
is obtained, while the smell of the roses in the pretty garden of
the time-honoured "Trout" Inn still lingers about us. The village of
Wolvercott lies to the left, and at the other end of the mill-stream,
the entrance to which was noticed just above the King's Weir. Close by
the ivy-covered gable of the nunnery a new weir is being erected, and
it may be added that in the excavations incidental to the work four old
stone coffins were discovered in the summer of 1885.

Passing by the village of Binsey, where in 730 there was a chapel
constructed with dark room for the most stubborn sort of sisters, and
where the saints caused St. Margaret's Well to be opened, in order that
people coming there to ease their burdened souls might be rid of their
diseases, one feels that the first stage of a voyage down the Thames
is pleasantly terminated by the noble array of pinnacles, towers, and
spires across Port Meadow, presented as a free common to the city by
William the Conqueror, and so to this day preserved. The towers and
spires have an imposing effect, with Shotover Hill behind. The most
prominent objects are St. Philip's and St. James's Church, the Roman
Catholic Church, the Observatory, the Radcliff, the Sheldonian, St.
Mary's, All Saints', Tom Tower and the Cathedral, and, nestling down
among the trees, the square grey tower of Oxford Castle. To the right
is the "Perch" Inn at Binsey, and as you pass this Binsey Common opens
out in the same direction, and there are once more the wooded slopes of
the Witham Hills, which we have had in view for the last eight miles.
The River Thames round Port Meadow is more disgracefully weedy and
neglected than any other portion of its course. Beyond Binsey is Medley
Manor House, at one time an oratory attached to Godstow, a place where
any of the devotees, in case they were detained from the city or on
their journey to Abingdon, could rest for the night, without going on
to the nunnery. The flocks of geese in hundreds, just now giving the
signal of rain, on the edge of Port Meadow, opposite Binsey Common,
may still lead us to think that we are in the rural parts described
on previous pages; but down yonder, on the other side of the cut
leading to Medley Weir, are a fleet of ugly house-boats. There is also
a semicircular iron bridge across the cut, and we are brought face
to face with the fact that the next mile and a half of river will be
essentially townified and crowded.

The division of the river at Medley leaves the business of practical
navigation to the straight cut, and the original Thames, once flowing
by the site of Bewley Abbey, will probably be soon choked out of
existence. In succession now follow in a prosy catalogue Medley Weir,
the Four Streams, the Railway, the Canal, Seven Bridges Road, and
Osney Loch and Mill. A hoary gateway and fragment of wall, with its
Perpendicular window absorbed in the mill fabric, are all that remain
of Osney Abbey, the powerful and magnificent, whose abbots were peers
of Parliament. One hastens under the railway bridge, and looks aside
from the gasworks, knowing that beyond Folly Bridge a new phase of
Thames life will begin for the intelligent voyager.

    /W. Senior/.



[Illustration: THE BARGES.]


CHAPTER II.

OXFORD TO ABINGDON.

    Oxford, from the Upper River; the New Town--The Courses of the
    River, from Medley Weir to Folly Bridge--The Houses of the
    Regulars and Friars--The University and Parish Churches--The
    Halls and Colleges of the Seculars, from the Thirteenth Century
    to the Reformation--Jacobean Oxford--Classic Oxford--Convenient
    Oxford--The Architectural Revival--The Undergraduate
    Revival--The River below Folly Bridge, and the Invention
    of Rowing--The Navigation Shape of the River--Floods--The
    Barges--Iffley--Littlemore--Kennington--Radley--Sandford--Nuneham.


The traveller down stream, who looks for Oxford across the flats of
Port Meadow, is aware of a large town, dusky red in colour, skirted by
a canal and a railway, and dominated by the slim brick bell-tower of
a church, one of the pangs of the architectural renaissance. There,
beyond the dingy quarter called Jericho, one may stray through many
streets of villas in the Middle Victorian taste, by flower-beds gay
with the geranium and calceolaria. Little is wanting that would be
found in St. John's Wood or West Kensington. For this is, in late
after-growth, that town of Oxford that meant to be like London, and was
like London, before the University came to interfere. It had its Norman
castle, its Gild Merchant, its charter, as good as those of London. It
was a place where Parliaments met. It had a palace of the kings, and a
rich Jewry, and a great mind to trade. But the University sprang up
and choked these things. London never had a real University, but only
colleges for students of Common Law, and so flourished. In Oxford the
town went under, and the University was everything. The "nations" came,
and after long war reduced the natives to servitude. But the wheel has
turned. The down-trodden race is quickly hiding the University with its
new towns of houses and churches, and the very University has lost the
monastic rule that allowed its members to camp as an alien garrison in
the place. Now they are surely being wrought into the fabric of the
town.

For the University there exist two rivers; one, The River, below Folly
Bridge, the other, The Upper River, above Medley Weir. Between the two
there is not one stream, but many. The river goes out of itself and
returns into itself again. And in this division it suffers various
fortunes. It goes far afield and grows forget-me-nots. It turns
mill-wheels, and is a servant of breweries. It is locked and sluiced
for the passage of barges. It is constrained and laid away in low and
discouraged quarters, where it keeps company with people out of repair,
with philanthropic enterprises, with aimless smells, with exhausted
dust, with retired hansom cabs. It is beguiled into obscure cuts for
bathing. It is imprisoned under streets. And when it comes to itself
again it is not allowed to have its name, but is called by the vain
sound of Isis.

The two main branches of the stream enclose a space rather over a mile
in length, and roughly of the shape of a slim ewer, with a handle
broken off near the top, that is at Medley Weir. There is a minor
junction of the streams by a cut across the narrowed neck of the ewer
opposite Worcester Garden. The upper of the two islands thus formed
is given up to meadows and the two railway lines. The lower island,
Osney, holds the two railway stations, and the continuation southwards
of the Great Western. South of the stations, and at right angles to the
railway, the Seven Bridges Road runs out towards Botley. South of this
again St. Thomas's Church lies east, and St. Mary's Cemetery and Osney
Mill west of the railway havoc. The rest is meadow and garden land,
scored with the streets of old and new settlements, and cracked by
lesser dykes and courses of the stream.

The eastern branch, after defining the upper rim of the ewer, turns
sharp southwards, and, keeping company with the canal, skirts red
Oxford and Worcester Gardens. It is here that its interest begins. A
little way above the first, or Hythe Bridge, a fresh division takes
place, and a narrow irregular strip of low island is formed, running
under three bridges to the Castle Mill, and below that occupied by
breweries for some hundred yards. Now it is only on the upper stretch
of this island down to the Castle Mill that any attempt is made by
the town to come to public and pleasant terms with its river. The
attempt is a shy one. The treatment is on a humbler scale than that
of the River Witham at Lincoln. The Fishers Row of low houses--some
new, some old, and one or two remarkable--straggles along a narrow
quay, arched over by the bridges. In the doubled stream, where it
fronts the houses, fleets of old punts lie moored to their poles among
the choking weeds; not the varnished toys of the Cherwell, but the
craft native to these shallow standing waters, as the gondola to the
lagoons of Venice. At the back of the houses, their gardens abutting
upon it in all variety of confusion and decay, moves a furtive and
even feebler stream. There is a wealth of matter here for the artist
to rescue from its odours; grey walls that have seen better days and
other uses, bricks rough-cast and timber, willow leaves and fluttering
clothes, the most old and various dirt. All this is only to be won by
glimpses from the bridges, or from the hospitality of back pigsties
and the like; and it is only just to add that the tenants of this
picturesque quarter--people, pigs, and ducks--show to the curious
visitor an unvarying courtesy. The best bit was till lately to be
seen from Pacey's Bridge, the second in order down stream. Just there
a house is bracketed out over the water, with windows disposed in
graceful bays. But the jealousy that keeps the stream secret has shut
away that last easy view, on the one side with a shop astride the
water, on the other with a mere wilful screen. Hythe Bridge is a poor
new thing; Pacey's Bridge is defaced with a new top. The next bridge
brings us to the Castle and the Castle Mill, the very heart of the
old town; the Castle older than the University, the Mill of older
foundation than the Castle. Then follow breweries, not without charm,
but reticent about the river. Just below the Swan Brewery the streams
come together again at a point marked by a summer-house; but it is only
for a fresh separation. From a garden in Chapel Place may be seen the
point of division; but one branch is now built over. Its name is the
Trill Mill Stream, and it runs behind Paradise Square, and round by
way of Rose Place, across St. Aldate's. Then it comes to light again
behind the houses, and skirts Christ Church Meadows, to join the river
near Folly Bridge. The other branch takes a stealthy course round the
low quarter between Paradise Square and the gasworks. They are least
ashamed of it in Abbey Place. From that point onward it shows at the
end of poor little streets, with meadows and willows beyond. From one
of these--Blackfriars Road--a bridge crosses to the bathing-cut, which
rounds the base of our ewer, and leads into the navigation stream. At
the tail of an island formed by the cut the navigation stream itself
comes in, and the united water bends round the gasworks, and so to
Folly Bridge, past some broken little gardens and backs of houses in
Thames Street. Folly Bridge is as poor as the other Thames bridges in
Oxford. It replaces the old Norman _Grand Pont_ with its forty arches,
and Friar Bacon's Study over the further end. A top storey added to the
"Study" was the "Folly." There is another now almost in the same spot,
built by a money-lender.

Of the navigation stream in its course from Medley Weir there is less
to say. At the neck of the ewer, at the point called Four Streams, it
goes so far as to form a regular cross. One of the arms is the cut
already mentioned running towards Worcester. The opposite arm is known
as the Old Navigation Stream, and runs out in a great loop under the
Binsey Road and the Seven Bridges Road at New Botley, and back to the
present navigation stream at the base of the ewer. A smaller concentric
loop leaves the stream at the first bridge beyond the station, throws
off a branch to join the outer loop at the Binsey Road bridge, and
returns at Osney Mill. Here, just by the mill, there is a lock on the
navigation stream. The island formed by the mill-stream and the lock
runs down a hundred yards or so, and on the face of the island, made
by the loop above, there is a meaner repetition of the Fishers Row. It
may clear the maze a little to think of the two mills and islands, and
quays balancing on opposite sides of the ewer.

[Illustration: OXFORD, FROM HEADINGTON HILL.]

But this is not all. We have still to account for a stream that left
the Thames at Hagley Pool, above Godstow. From that point it describes
a yet wider loop, passing first by Witham, then under the Seven Bridges
Road at Botley, and on by the two Hinkseys. At Clasper's Boathouse
under the Long Bridges it is reinforced by a fresh offset from the
main stream, and does not return again till just above Rose Island by
Kennington. The old men on the river have been heard to say that this
branch from Clasper's to Kennington used to be the main stream for
barges, and it is quite possible, for the Long Bridges and new towpath
only date from the end of last century. The Hinksey Stream is not
navigable throughout, because of two mills on its lower reaches. The
low Cumnor Heights behind make a limit to the wandering and division
of the water; but the whole flat between this boundary on the west and
that of the Oxford Canal on the east is an amphibious country, now
lake, now labyrinth.

It will have been observed how little the obscure region of the river
we have traversed has to do with the University of our time. One is
invited to think how the river of Oxford has come to be treated so; why
the colleges shun it and give it over to railways and slums. And again,
if one regards the college quarter with any attention, one is forced
to ask by what steps the plan of building and habit of life we know as
a college came to be as it is out of the old Benedictine conventual
schools. What were the links of building between St. Frideswide's and
Merton, and what has become of them?

The answer to the first question, and partly to the second, is that
a more magnificent and more richly significant Oxford than the
present once occupied the isle of Osney and the river quarter now so
degraded;[1] but all that proper fortune of the river, all that beauty
and history, has been incredibly blotted out, leaving only its first
and last links in St. Frideswide's and Worcester, together with a few
names and inconsiderable fragments. The buildings of Oxford are a story
whose mutilated preface is followed by a great gap where the opening
chapters should be. A line here and there marks the interval, and when
the tale is taken up again it is abruptly and in a changed temper.
Quickly it runs to a fluent mannerism that makes a great bulk of the
text. Then it proceeds in a classical version till the time when our
own century began to spell and imitate the archaic forms.

The town before the University is better represented than the following
period by its castle and parish churches. The ancient St. Frideswide's
remains as Christ Church. But greater churches than St. Frideswide's,
one of them, that of the Franciscans, twice as long, have been taken
clean away, and not a stone remains to stand for the Dominican and
Franciscan houses that moulded the early University. We must give a
little space to this, and to another missing chapter, and then briefly
read the rest of the story.

When the two great mendicant orders arrived early in the thirteenth
century, there was already, besides the old foundation of St.
Frideswide, at that time a house of Austin canons, the great monastic
foundation of Osney, dating from early Norman times. In its church,
over the tomb of the foundress Edith, English wife of the second lord
of the Castle, was painted a tree full of chattering pies, whose
voice assailed her in her walks. Her confessor knew them for souls
in Purgatory, and the canons were installed to pray for them. By the
time the friars came to Oxford the chattering souls were perhaps as
much thought of as are the souls of those killed in the French wars of
the fifteenth century by the Fellows of All Souls College now. At the
Dissolution the great Abbey Church had a chance of safety. For a short
time it was the cathedral church of the new diocese of Oxford. But that
fortune passed to St. Frideswide's, and no one translated Osney Abbey
into a college. All that is left of it now is an archway and part of a
barn among the buildings of the Mill.

The two great orders of friars settled finally near one another on
opposite sides of the Trill Mill Stream. The Dominicans were first in
the field, and for a time encamped near the schools and the Jewry,
with designs on both. They built a hospital for converted Jews, which
afterwards was used as the Town Hall, and it is on record that at
one time they had two Jews in the _Domus Conversorum_, but one of
them, an acolyte, afterwards suffered a relapse. Soon, however, the
friars migrated to the damp riverside, as a place more favourable
to rheumatism and ague, just as in London they went from Holborn
to Blackfriars. It was the happiest fact that the mendicant orders
coming to towns in their young and ascetic days settled in outcast
and uninviting quarters, and covered them, as they grew in riches,
with pleasant gardens and splendid buildings. But the Black Friars
of Oxford, like those of London, are only remembered now by names of
streets, and of that bend of the river by the gasworks still known as
Preachers' Pool.

The Grey Friars are even more completely gone. The Paradise given them
by a pious lady has given its name to a square, but the groves and
buildings of the Minorites have not even left a name to the streets
that have replaced them. There must be many of the friars still below
ground in their coffins; in the courtyards behind the dismal streets
there are glimpses of provoking walls, but with no speaking stones;
and in the wall that divides the garden of Trinity from Parks Street
lie many old stones incognito, brought from the quarry of the Friars
Preachers and the Friars Minor.

The White Friars, or Carmelites, had no better fate. Edward II., flying
from Bannockburn with his Carmelite confessor, vowed a house to Our
Lady of the White Friars if he should cross the Border in safety. To
redeem the vow he gave over his palace of Beaumont to the Carmelites.
Beaumont Street runs through the site. Some of the stones are in Laud's
new quad at St. John's.

Of another great house a small witness remains. Above Hythe Bridge,
the way by Fishers Row is continued from the tip of the eyot across a
little bridge, and thence runs for a space alongside an ancient wall.
This was a boundary wall of Rewley Abbey, the great house of the order
of Citeaux. Almost covered by the wood stores of a wheelwright is a
doorway with carved spandrils, and a label ending in sculptured heads.
The wheelwrights, whose sheds lean against the old wall, show a wooden
peak, the last vestige of a "summer-house" lately pulled down. Only the
other day they came upon a well in the garden behind. The London and
North-Western Station occupies the site of the chief buildings. Before
it was put up the remains were considerable. Rewley and Osney Abbeys
between them accounted for most of the Osney island.

But the most speaking memorial of this lost University is that side
of Worcester that still remains of old Gloucester Hall. Benedictine
novices, from the many houses of the order scattered over England, were
numerous among the early students of Oxford. The Benedictines were
rich, and there were few University endowments. Gloucester Hall was the
house founded in 1283 for those of the novices who came from Gloucester
Abbey. Then other Benedictine abbeys had houses built alongside the
first for their own students, till twenty-five abbeys were represented.
Others in the same way sent their men to Buckingham College, Cambridge.
Over the doorways of the halls still standing at Worcester may be seen
the escutcheons of their several abbeys; the griffin of Malmesbury, the
cross of Norwich.

The house of the fourth great mendicant order, the Austin Friars, has
disappeared as completely as the other three. On its site, in the reign
of James I., Wadham College was built, but the phrase "doing Austins"
long survived as a memory of the University exercises that took place
in the Austin Schools.

The friars of the Order of the Redemption of Captives have left as
little sign. Their property is part of the garden of New College.

But some of the houses of the Regular Orders, besides Gloucester Hall,
remain in a translation. The College of the Novices from the Convent of
Durham is the old part of Trinity. St. Mary's College of the Regular
Canons has left a gateway opposite New Inn Hall, and the latest-founded
of the religious houses, that of St. Bernard for the Cistercians, still
shows in the street with some changes as the front of St. John's.

[Illustration: NEW COLLEGE, FROM THE GARDENS.]

We have to think, then, of the Oxford of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries as chiefly made up of the schools of the Regular and
Mendicant Orders, afterwards suppressed. The Colleges of the third
class, the Secular Clergy, were only beginning; the prevailing
influence was that of the Dominican and Franciscan teachers,
particularly the latter, with their Roger Bacon and Duns Scotus and
Occam, to set off against the Aquinas and Albertus of the Parisian
Dominicans. At the time of the Dissolution the numbers and spirit of
the various religious houses had run very low. However, they made
a push to extend their buildings, hoping so to ensure their wealth
against the Royal Commission, just as the Colleges did in our own time.
But Henry VIII. seems, in most cases, to have made for the lead from
the roofs of the buildings as his own share of the spoil, and the later
additions with their flat lead roofing would just meet his taste. The
walls he sold or gave to others, who used them chiefly as quarries. A
letter quoted by Mr. Fletcher, written to Thomas Cromwell by one of his
agents, gives a good notion of the look of things at the time, and of
the spirit of the reformers:-"The Black Fryers bathe in ther backsyde
lykwise dyvers Ilonds well woddyd and conteyneth in lengith a great
ground. There quere wasse lately new byldede and covered with ledde.
It ys lykewisse a bigge Howse, and all coveryd with slatt, saving the
queere. They have prety store of plate and juellys, and specially there
ys a gudd chales of golde sett with stonys, and ys better than a C
marks: and there ys also a gudd crosse with other things conteynyd in
the bill. Ther ornaments be olde and of small valor. They have a very
fayer Cundytt and ronnyth fresshelye. Ther be butt X. Fryers, being
Prests besid the Anker, which is a well-disposyd man, and have 1. marks
yerly of the King's cofers."

Now we turn to the reaction against all this; to the quarter of the
University that remains, the quarter of the old town parishes in which
the Halls and Colleges of the secular clergy grew.

And first we feel the Gothic pattern of the streets. We have left the
water behind, but the streams had to do in determining the flow of the
"stream-like" streets. They kept the forms they were pressed into by
the castle and city walls; St. Giles's bursting out wide from the point
where the old north gate cramped it by St. Michael's; Broad Street
broad because just outside the circuit; the rest winding and twisting
with the happiest effects for the jostling buildings.

[Illustration: ST. MARY'S, FROM THE HIGH STREET.]

Then when we look closer at this large mass of Gothic work, of great
establishments squeezed into the old shapes, and elbowing scanty strips
and corners of the displaced houses, the notable point about most of
the work is, not how old, but how new it is. The Gothic is late, even
belated. Little of it is earlier than the Perpendicular Period; much
of it is more recent still, and of a kind to which purists grudge even
the name of Gothic. It is true that in Oxford buildings, when made of
local stone not cunningly laid, become shabby and theatrically aged in
the shortest time. They look not venerable, but battered and burned,
the stone hanging in rags, and leaving where it falls raw yellow
patches. Mouldings and carvings drop away; pinnacles, battlements, and
gables, and all outstanding features, thaw like blackened snow; walls
are suddenly found wasted and thin, the rooms and towers depending on
the merest crust of stone. The heads about the Sheldonian Theatre shed
their beards of a rainy night. But all this is a very sham antiquity.
Some of the later buildings suffer from it most, and some of the oldest
look, and are, newest because of sedulous restoration. One has to
search diligently for hints of the older work, and to entrap it as it
looks out of its new body in some favourable light.

It is the churches, the parish churches and the towers of St.
Frideswide's and St. Mary's, that seem most to promise age in a
distant prospect, and to strike a recurrent note of antiquity as one
goes about the town. The old Town Church of St. Martin at Carfax,
with its picturesque altered gables and clock and "penniless bench,"
is much wanted; but it was pulled down inconsiderately and rebuilt
in haste. But St. Peter's, St. Michael's, St. Mary Magdalen's, and
St. Giles's, are rich in beauty and interest. The lovely spire of St.
Mary's, panelled with pomegranates for Queen Eleanor, stands almost
alone of the old University Church. There is, indeed, on the north of
the chancel, and set at a divergent angle, a yet older building--the
two-storeyed Ancient House of Congregation. Its two storeys simulate on
the outer side the appearance of one to conform with the new church,
but the groined roof remains of the lower room, now half-buried and
given to lumber. This and the old church were the real centre of the
University. In the five chapels the regents of the five faculties
assembled for the Act at which disputations were held and degrees
given. Not only the Schools and Theatre and Convocation House, but the
University Library, too, hived off from these buildings. The first
books were kept in chests in the "soler," or upper room, and there,
too, those other chests were stored that were the earliest form of
University endowment. In them the money left by benefactors was kept,
and lent out to poor students, who in return pawned books and daggers
and other articles of value.

The colleges began as a counterpoise to the schools of the regular and
mendicant orders, more particularly the latter. The friars, learned and
powerful, naturally drew to them great numbers of the poor unattached
scholars. Statutes ineffectually made eighteen years the lowest age of
consent. The University had a hard fight to keep even its degrees in
its own hands. This third great body of scholars, unattached to monks
or friars, consisted of the ordinary or secular clergy, men qualifying
not merely for the work of parish priests, but for what are now the lay
professions of lawyer and doctor. They had a bad time of it while the
friars were still popular. They had few endowments, and were forced
to labour for a living, or to beg their way. It was common for poor
scholars to serve as scouts. They lived either in private lodgings or
in the numerous private Halls, Inns, or Hostels that covered the sites
of the present colleges. Those are the second obliterated chapter among
university buildings. They were simply lodging-houses, rented from
the owner by a Master of Arts, who was styled Principal. By an early
statute, that marks the encroachment of the University on the town,
the owner of the hall was bound to let it to the first applicant who
deposited the needful caution with the Vice-Chancellor. The Principal
was paid by the inmates for board and tuition. The first colleges were
such halls, furnished with an endowment for poor scholars, and with a
set of statutes to regulate its administration. At first the scholars
went to service at the nearest parish church; but gradually, as funds
allowed, chapel and hall and library were built, and the familiar front
with its gate-tower screened the old and new buildings. The full-grown
College, as it had taken shape before the times of the Reformation and
rich lay undergraduates, was a society incorporated for the benefit
of poor scholars of the secular order. Its buildings replaced the
single Hall or group of Halls that had been converted from private to
corporate use, or else the old tenements were recast in the new mould.
That new mould followed with modifications the plan of the monastic
houses.

Some of these Halls still remain. But the form of university life they
represented, and to a great extent the buildings themselves, have gone
as completely as the Oxford of the Religious. The colleges swallowed
most of them. New College accounts for ten, Merton for eight. From
old prints one can gain a notion of the splendid jumble of gables
and chimneys of all degrees of dignity that enriched the streets;
and one is tempted to regret that some of the colleges gave up the
picturesque grouping and domestic style of the clustered halls for the
more monotonous and pretentious manner of their latter shape. As Henry
suppressed the religious houses, so Laud suppressed the private halls,
leaving five only as academic halls. Of these, one--Magdalen Hall--has
left its beautiful bell-tower to Magdalen College, and its second site
to Hertford. Of the rest, three are now absorbed in colleges.

The great date in college history is 1264, when Walter de Merton gave
statutes to the college he had founded. University Hall, afterwards
University College, had already been founded from a legacy administered
by the University. But in Merton the idea of a great college was
first clearly struck out, and its statutes were an exemplar for all
succeeding societies both at Oxford and Cambridge. Merton, however was
not built in one heat. The old quad and parts of the chapel are early
work, but the tower and other parts are later. The chapel is so large,
because it is not only chapel to the college, but church to the parish
of St. John, a great part of which the college absorbs. The library is
one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most ancient rooms in
Oxford.

Balliol and Exeter, Oriel and Queen's, are also early colleges, but
they do not stand for so much historically. They group with Merton,
and have all changed their first bodily shape. The next great moment
in the college history, the beginning of a new group, comes about a
hundred years after Merton. This was the foundation of the College
of St. Mary Winton--called New from a sense of the importance of the
event--by William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. Several things are
important about this great creation. To begin with, the foundation
was of a new magnificence. It provided for seventy scholars, a term
at that time synonymous with fellows. There was a stronger accent
about it of opposition to the regular clergy. Its lands were bought
from impoverished monastic bodies. It was made self-sufficient by its
nursery and counterpart in architecture, the College of St. Mary at
Winchester. It was saved from the jurisdiction of the University by the
power granted it of giving degrees, and from the jurisdiction of the
Bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese Oxford then lay, by the appointment
of the Bishop of Winchester as its Visitor. But above all, not only was
the plan of its institution a great educational achievement, but the
building itself was by the same author, the work of a man of genius,
coherent and complete. The quadrangle has been altered out of all
knowledge by the addition of the third storey with battlements, and
the re-shaping of the windows, but even so it shares with the added
wings of the garden front a wonderful dignity and purity. The original
towers are so dominant everywhere that one reads their spirit into the
encumbered translation.

[Illustration: MAGDALEN TOWER, FROM THE CHERWELL.]

The stroke told. Henry VI. echoed the idea in Eton and King's College,
Cambridge. In Oxford, the chapel and cloisters of Chichele's All Souls'
were imitated from New College. But a richer reverberation followed.
Waynflete's Magdalen is another New more magnificent, and later by
a hundred years. It is not more beautiful. Feature by feature is
reproduced, with just that luxury of virtue and grace that one would
expect from Mary the Magdalen walking in the footsteps of Mary the
Virgin. The chapels are planned alike, and in either college set back
to back with the hall. Magdalen has a cloister quad, a more spacious
one; a higher and richer tower, wider and more lordly grounds. But
one can turn from the baffling and haunting charm of Magdalen Tower
to be satisfied with the simple fighting tower of New College; and
it is dangerous to go from the blackened walls and gaunt arches, the
austerely divided daylight of the cloistered walk at New College, to
the coarser forms and less single purpose of the other. The older
cloister is still the walk of a recluse, overlooked only by the tower
and gable of the chapel, and interrupted by rare and funeral writing
on the walls. The other is built in an easier temper. Staircases open
upon it below, and many windows occupy it above. It is the covered
thoroughfare of the College.

[Illustration: STONE PULPIT, MAGDALEN.]

It should be remembered, however, that Magdalen cloisters have suffered
much. They have been pulled down almost throughout and rebuilt. An
upper storey has gone from the north side, ugly Westmorland slate
has replaced the grey Stonesfield kind, and windows have been made
bigger and more regular. Historically it is to be noted that Magdalen
superseded a collegiate building of another kind, the old hospital or
almshouse of St. John the Baptist. The stone pulpit in St. John's Quad
marks this. On the saint's day a sermon used to be preached from the
pulpit, and the quad was strewn with rushes and hung with boughs to
represent a wilderness. At last a Principal caught his death of cold by
going out into the wilderness, so they gave it up, and had the sermon
in chapel instead. There was some grudging show made of keeping up the
almshouse. A low vault under a chapel was given over to the poor. A
report was drawn up for the year 1596 giving the following cheerful
particulars:--"In sommer the resort is greater, in winter very smale,
bycause of the coldnes and onwholesomenes of the vault; which is in
verie deed so moyst and dampish that we have the last yeare removed the
beddes into another house not far of, for that everie winter they are
subject to rottennes." However, they were going to repair the floor "as
well for the safetie of our beddes as for the health and ease of the
poore."[2]

The building of the old quad of Lincoln went on by stages during this
same fifteenth century, and Corpus followed early in the next. Neither
of these has been rebuilt, but both have been defaced so as to lose
almost all interest; but they stand for points in history. Lincoln was
a college of priests, to make head against Lollardry; Corpus stood for
Greek.

[Illustration: "TOM" GATEWAY.]

Then follows the notable foundation of Wolsey's Cardinal College,
afterwards Christchurch. All Souls' had been founded with the spoil of
"alien" priories--cells, that is, of foreign monasteries in England.
Magdalen had taken the place of a religious society; but the final step
was taken when English religious houses were suppressed to form one
great educational foundation. St. Frideswide's was preserved to be its
chapel. The huge ungainly quad was planned out and partly built. After
the suppression of religious houses stone was cheap, so the building
went on even after Wolsey's fall. The Tom Tower was added much later.
It is one of Wren's essays in Gothic, masterful and striking in general
design, but unfeeling in detail. The fan-vaulted roof of the hall
staircase is a lovely piece of later work, but the staircase itself is
badly managed. The cathedral is a rather disconcerted building; but
there is plenty in it to study and enjoy. The story of the saint may
be read in a window by Mr. Burne Jones. Other four windows by the same
artist were executed by Mr. Morris, with the result that in colour as
well as in design they rank with the best of old workmanship, and can
be compared with nothing new, except those from the same hands in other
places.

If New and Magdalen stand for the enriching sunset of Gothic in Oxford,
the great group of buildings that follows the Reformation stands for
a strange and prolonged after-glow of the art. It is this period that
more than any other belongs to Oxford, gives it a peculiar character.
Nowhere else is it so largely represented. The Renaissance, coming all
this way, was too weak and distressed to create forms of architecture
quite its own; but it passed as a principle of change into the veins of
the old style, and broke out here and there in the strangest features.
The main ideas of the Gothic structure held their own--the sloping
roof, the traceried window; but a languor and a fever seized upon the
mouldings and details of the old work. At any moment the sedate lines
of the Perpendicular tracery might run wild into twirls of trivial
scroll-work, or one whole side of a building speak a sleepy Gothic
and another stammer the queerest Greek. But the whole seldom fails to
please, because it is ordered throughout by the most sure and delicate
sense of proportion. It is the work of men whose hand is well in, whose
ideas are running few and thin, but are dealt out and recombined with
the utmost freedom and familiarity. One is often blankly disappointed
by the flatness, the poverty, the childishness of the decoration; but
however meagre and thoughtless and alien the elements of the design may
be, there never fails an artistic sense in the way they are set out,
so that the most incongruous lendings of various styles meet and are
subdued to perfect comfort in one another's company. Perhaps the salt
that saves the whole is the sense of humour that pervades it, just as
it does the rich enjoyed sentences of the contemporary literature. The
buildings do not expect to be taken quite seriously; the figures on the
tombs are very much at play with death. Sometimes, indeed, the windows
of grave buildings like the chapel of Wadham stiffen out into the older
and more decorous manner; but it would be hard to match for rollicking
irresponsibility the porch that Laud added to St. Mary's Church.

Colour, too, was near the heart of the builders. They revelled in
gilding, in paint, in marbles and alabaster. And in the weighty matters
of architecture that go beyond the mere building, in the recognition
of its neighbourhood, of its place as a mass in the streets or a
kindly growth among fields and trees, they were very much at home.
The presence of such buildings is one of comfort, of fun, of flexible
tradition and generous possibilities. The style begins at Oxford under
Elizabeth, and continues under Charles; but it centres under James, and
hence is conveniently called Jacobean. Not only university and college
buildings belong to it, but most of the beautiful domestic work of the
streets, like Archbishop King's house off St. Aldate's, and the house
off the High, used as a police-office.

It was in a building of the Jacobean time that the University idea
first found adequate expression, gathered out of the scattered lodgings
in which it had been housed. Already, by 1480, a noble room had been
built for the Divinity school, with the library of Duke Humphrey above
it. Sir Thomas Bodley's first act was to give this library a new roof
and fittings, and to add to it at right angles the building that forms
above an extension of the library, below the Proscholium or ambulatory
of the schools. It was the day after his funeral, in the year 1613,
that the first stone was laid of his magnificent plan for completing
the quadrangle, of which the Proscholium forms one side. This
quadrangle is a plan or map of the University's theory of knowledge.
As one enters under the gateway tower the scholastic sciences announce
themselves in gold letters above the various doors. The faculties--the
faculty of Arts with its subdivision into the Trivium and Quadrivium,
the faculties of Canon and Civil Law and of Medicine lead up to the
fifth and crowning faculty, the science of sciences, Divinity, lodged
behind the richly-panelled front of the Proscholium. Before this,
the faculty of Arts had been housed in the thirty-two schools that
gave their name to Schools Street. In these the Regents, that is the
young M.A.'s, the ruling and teaching body of the University, gave
lectures and sat, at stated times, to determine in the disputations
that preceded, as examinations do now, the B.A. degree. The public
viva voce in the schools is the remnant of this formal exhibition of
logical skill. The disputant went round to solicit the presence of his
friends, and statutes were passed to restrain the system of touting
for an audience as well as to limit the regular supper that followed.
At Cambridge it was the duty of the Bedells to go round to the various
colleges and halls where the questionists were, and "call or give
warninge in the middest of the courte with thees words: 'Alons, alons,
goe, Mrs., goe, goe,'" and any tendency to a real viva voce was rudely
checked by the same officer. "If the Father shall uppon his Chyldren's
aunswer replie and make an Argument, then the Bedel shall knocke him
out"--which seems to have meant that he hammered loudly on the door.[3]
The Act, or public contest of degrees, still took place in St. Mary's,
till the Sheldonian Theatre completed the new group of the schools in
1669. The new Convocation House, with the Selden Library above, had
already been added in 1640 at the further end of the Divinity school.
About the same time as the new schools Wadham College had been built.
Complete at the outset, it is remarkable among Oxford buildings for its
singleness and symmetry of design, and its skill of building or fortune
of stone; it is one of the most ancient of the colleges in the sense
that it is authentic.

The rebuilt University College and Oriel and the new Jesus may be
grouped together. They have in common the beautiful treatment of the
upper windows as a series of little gables in place of the tiresome
screen of battlements. The front of Jesus is a modern disguise, the
clever but unsympathetic work of Mr. Buckler. It replaces the old
Elizabethan front with its gateway in the fashion of the beautiful one
of St. Alban's Hall. The Jesus gate, however, had been obscured by a
heavy rusticated screen. Brasenose gained in the Jacobean Period its
exquisite dormer windows; Lincoln its homely second quad and lovely
chapel. Another fine example is the hall and chapel of St. Mary Hall.
In Merton four of the five orders of the Schools Tower were reproduced.
The chief author of all this work was a Thomas Holt of York. Among
his followers were the brothers Bentley, and Acroide, Oxford builders.
A greater name is associated with the new quad of St. John's. In this
Inigo Jones was mastered by the genius of the place, and constrained to
build the wonderful garden front. Inside the quad he had his own way
in the colonnades, but he was more in character still when he designed
the Danvers Gateway of the new Physic Garden, and plotted its wall and
walks. Here, at last, in a quiet corner of the place, where science
was beginning in a gentle way to stir, the English Gothic tradition of
building was fairly broken, and the key struck of the manner that in
the end of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century
gave Oxford its sturdy and picturesque English Classic. Soon after, the
troubled times of the Civil War, the rather farcical, but disastrous
siege of Oxford, "leaving no face of a University," and the subsequent
spoiling of the colleges by the Puritans, must have served very
effectually to snap the chain of building tradition, and make a blank
for the new ideas.

[Illustration: THE DOME OF THE RADCLIFFE, FROM BRASENOSE.]

When the strange holiday time was over, and the University was in a
frame for building again, the period of Wren and of his school began.
The Chapel of Brasenose, built under the Commonwealth, marks the point
when the relations of the mixed styles were becoming too strained. The
Sheldonian Theatre announces the rupture. It is in Wren's happiest
manner. There is no building where the audience is more artfully
disposed so as itself to be a great part of the architecture. This
was followed by various buildings of the school of Wren. He revised
Bathurst's design for Trinity Chapel, though he clearly thought it a
bad job, and he is said to have had a hand in Hawksmoor's work at
Queen's and All Souls. Certainly the robust screen and gateway of the
Queen's front are not unworthy of him. Aldrich's All Saints' Church and
Peckwater Quad at Christ Church belong to the early eighteenth century.
The last great building in this manner is Gibbs's Radcliffe Library.
It gives the University a comfortable centre as only a dome can, and
counts for quite half in any distant view of Oxford buildings.

The rest of the eighteenth century has nothing very notable to show.
Hawksmoor, in his nightmare buildings at All Souls', had proved
how dead Gothic was. A good deal of Classic went up, the work of
academic amateurs, dabbling in Vitruvius and Palladio. But one holds
one's breath till the period is well over. Dilettanti among the dons
travelled to Italy and came back terribly ashamed of their barbarous
Oxford. It is a matter for thankful wonder that all the old buildings
were not replaced by Palladian colleges. The clean sweep of old Queen's
and of the mass of buildings that made way for the Radcliffe, must have
tempted many a common room. Hawksmoor actually prepared a design for a
brand-new Classic Brasenose, with four domes and a High Street front.
Magdalen had the narrowest escape. A Mr. Holdsworth, a Fellow of the
College, "an amiable man and a good scholar," returned from a sojourn
in Rome full of enlightenment. His first scheme was to pull down the
whole building, tower and all; but he had to give up the tower chapel
and hall, and content himself with the destruction of the cloister
quad. However, he began his scheme with the New Buildings on unoccupied
ground, and somehow it was not carried further; so the great new quad,
with its three colonnades, remained on paper.

But in 1771 the University set itself to a wider change. The rough
unpaved streets in which the buildings were rooted like trees, the
island markets that blocked the traffic, the narrow rambling bridges,
and above all, the North Gate or Bocardo by St. Michael's, and the
East Gate above Magdalen, hurt the best feelings of dons dreaming
of vistas and piazzas. The place, besides, was no doubt very dark
and dirty. An Act of Parliament was obtained for cleaning, lighting,
and paving the town, removing gates and other obstructions, building
markets, and repairing or rebuilding Magdalen Bridge. So Oxford became
convenient and lost half its pictorial effect. The old bridge over the
Cherwell at Magdalen was everything that a good bridge can be without
being convenient. It had a chequered course of six hundred feet over
land and water, leaping the water in a series of arches of different
height and width just as was necessary; occupied by houses and shops
where it crossed the land; and throwing out, at irregular intervals,
angular bays of varying width and projection. But in some places it
was as narrow as thirteen feet, some of the arches were ruinous, and
the city and county were responsible for the repair of different
parts, which they both appear to have left alone. So it had to come
down. The new bridge, as well as the market and other changes, was the
work of an engineer named Gwyn. His bridge kept something of the old
picturesqueness, though in a formal way. It had the same places to go
over; a circular bay in the centre stood for the old angles; and the
lines at either end swept out in graceful curves. But people were very
angry because it was so narrow and high. The roadway was afterwards
heightened to reduce the pitch of the bridge, the parapet was lowered,
and in our own time the width has been doubled for the convenience of
trams. Old St. Clement's Church, too, has gone from the road on the
further side, and has been rebuilt in another place and manner in full
view of every one who crosses the bridge.

Many of the old houses had been shorn away in the process of widening
the streets; but some people were not satisfied. The old Gothic
buildings had begun to command a certain zeal without knowledge; but
people disliked the Gothic pattern of the streets, and the irregular
patches of domestic buildings. They wanted to have things cleaned
up, and made regular; to have "views;" to see the great buildings in
solitary distance with no interference from house-roofs or trees, a
thing that very few buildings in the world can stand. An interesting
evidence of this state of mind is a little book by a certain rector
of Lincoln, Dr. Tatham. It was he who defaced the old quad of his
college with stupid battlements and other changes. He is remembered
by Mr. Cox as an old gentleman, who lived out of Oxford, but might be
seen landing his pigs in the market-place on Saturdays, and who, in
defence of the faith and the Three Witnesses, in the University pulpit,
wished all the "Jarmans" at the bottom of the "Jarman" Ocean. The
book is called "Oxonia Explicata et Ornata: Proposals for Disengaging
and Beautifying the University and City of Oxford." The buildings of
Oxford, he thought, were "too crowded and engaged. Our forefathers seem
to have consulted petty convenience and monastic reclusiveness, while
they neglected that uniformity of Design which is indispensable to
elegance, and that grandeur of Approach which adds half the delight. If
the Colleges and Public Edifices of this place were drawn apart from
each other, and dispersed through the extent of a thousand acres, so
that each might enjoy the situation a man of genius would approve, we
might boast," &c. He prefixes to the book a little design of his own
for a martyr's memorial, "a triumphant monument to be placed across
Broad Street, the whole so airy as very little to obstruct the view of
the buildings." Of this design one may say that it would have been much
more interesting than the Eleanor Cross of Sir Gilbert Scott.

This cross of Scott's was one of the first new works at Oxford of
the Gothic revival. Wyatt and others had already worked at what they
called restoration, and Pugin's gateway, lately removed, had been set
up at Magdalen the year before. Oxford has suffered its full share of
buildings that were the costly grammatical exercises of men learning
a dead tongue. In architecture such exercises are more expensive
and obtrusive than in any other art, and it will be long perhaps
before people will have the courage and sacrifice to pull them down
again. Some are merely learned and lifeless, like Buckler's Magdalen
School and Jesus, and Scott's Chapel of Exeter. Others are hopeless,
sullen blocks, like Scott's extensions of Exeter and New College, and
Butterfield's new buildings at Merton. Others are fancifully bad, like
the conscientious ugliness of the Museum, and the _recherché_ ugliness
of Balliol, and the mixture of both in the Meadow Buildings of Christ
Church. Butterfield in Balliol Chapel and Keble College shows a great
power of geometrical invention in form and colour, an invention for
the most part greatly astray. It is refreshing among all this to come
upon the strong, though wayward artistic temperament of Burges in the
decoration of the hall and chapel of Worcester, or even the respectable
classic Taylorian buildings of Cockerell, unpleasant in colour and
jarring on the spirit of the place as they are.

[Illustration: THE 'VARSITY BARGE.]

Very different work has been done of late years. There is less about it
of defiant expression of undesirable artistic personality, or pedantic
exhibition of a style--more recognition of the power of the place, more
actual artistic instinct. Even the much abused Indian Institute of
Champneys, in spite of the heavy frivolity of its details and interior,
is, in the disposition of the wall and window space, the invention
of its tower, and the way the whole building takes its place in the
picture, a piece of architecture, which such things as Balliol are
not. The space of blank wall on its corner tower is worth more than
all the geometrical troubles that fret the face of Keble. At Magdalen,
again, the genius of the old buildings has been lovingly reproduced
by Mr. Bodley in the new. His tower is not good, and it was carrying
faithfulness too far to reproduce the stupid gargoyles and grotesques
of the original; but much of the rich decoration in wood and stone is
refined in design and workmanship. One can praise, too, the extension
of St. John's. It may be said of all the new Oxford buildings that they
are apt to be heavy within, owing a good deal to the fear of fire that
makes all the staircases of stone.

But there is an architect who has taken up the tale where Thomas Holt
dropped it, and who has carried it farther, with results almost as
important for the appearance of Oxford. A like moment in the history
of the place seemed to have come round again. The new ways of the
University needed new schools--for examination this time instead of
disputation--and a great extension of college building coincided.
Never, perhaps, since Wren had the churches of London to rebuild has
one architect had such a fling in so important a place as Mr. T. G.
Jackson in the Oxford of our time. And there can be no question that,
whatever the faults of restlessness and overcrowding that sometimes mar
his designs, Mr. Jackson has been worthy of his opportunity.

The last great addition to Oxford is its undergraduates. It is not very
long since the colleges, in respect of undergraduates, were normally as
All Souls' is now, with its four Bible Clerks; but they were not as All
Souls' is in respect of its Fellows. The long deserts of theological
and political war had left them for the most part mere club-houses,
whose members existed to drink port together of an evening, and abuse
one another in little pamphlets during the day. The Common Room was the
great invention of the late seventeenth century, and the eighteenth was
spent in bringing it to perfection. Then came the Fellows of Oriel,
the Examination Statutes, the genius of the Masters of Balliol, the
Commission, the new Statutes, the Unattached. It is an exciting show
for the visitor, this incongruous surface of new and old, this great
bustle and pulse of the machine among the frail and crumbling walls.
Each morning dilatory tides of men in cap and gown set about the
streets under the jangling bells; each afternoon, in punctual haste,
a steady stream of the same men, in flannel, makes for the river, and
flows back for the monastic evensong and refectory dinner. There was a
time when the dinner-hour was ten o'clock in the morning, and it was
thought that so late an hour was a sign of the decay of learning.

[Illustration: A "BUMP" AT THE BARGES.]

Meanwhile the streets grow emptier, and the visitor, in the abstraction
of the growing darkness, will gather hints of the antiquity about him.
He will see the society grimace of the buildings relax. Their features
will relapse into startling meanings, and the presence of other
centuries will strike in upon his senses. If he is an American, like
Mr. James's _Passionate Pilgrim_, he will feel about it all the pang
of a forfeited possession. It is part of himself that was lost and is
found, a history forgotten long before he was born. Now he remembers it.

Nowhere is midnight so late as in Oxford. It is announced from so
many towers at so many moments by bells of the most various tone and
cadence; but by all, even to the most maundering and belated, with the
same precise conviction, as if one could hear all the lecturers saying
the same thing in their own words--_It is midnight here, now_. And
faint and loud another and another awakes and insists, _It is midnight
here, now_. Through the middle clamour the chime of St. Mary's drops
down three pathetic steps and climbs up through the same intervals. The
University is older by another hour.

[Illustration: IFFLEY MILL.]

The great deed of the new undergraduates was the discovery of the
river. In the early years of the century it was still only a place
for fishing in; occasionally a heavy tub was rowed down to Nuneham.
Bell-ringing had gone out as an exercise; cricket was the game of one
exclusive club; the nearest approach to a healthy rivalry between the
colleges was a competition between New College and All Souls' in making
negus. New College won by putting in no water. It was not till 1837
that the old boats had their sides cut down. About ten years later
outriggers came in, and after another ten, keelless boats. Another
ten brought sliding seats from America, and so the skiff and the four
and the eight reached their perfect economy of construction, and the
quality of beauty they share with their counterpart, the bicycle, on
land. Both bicycle and skiff are extensions of the human machine within
such limits that they remain as it were mere developed limbs working at
every moment as parts of one balancing frame, projections of the person.

[Illustration: IFFLEY CHURCH.]

In 1839 the University Boat Club was started, and the great Oxford
school of rowing shot up to overshadow the older faculties. Before this
time college racing had begun on the admirable bumping system, that not
only makes the race a prolonged spectacle for those who stand still to
see, but allows of so much spirit of body in those who run by their
college boat. At first the boats started out of Iffley Lock. The stroke
of each boat, as its turn came, ran down the thwarts pushing out, and
the next boat followed as soon as he cleared the lock.

[Illustration: LITTLEMORE CHURCH AND KENNINGTON ISLAND.]

The river between Oxford and Abingdon in its present shape is a sort
of free canal, locked at Iffley and Sandford, and again just above
Abingdon. There used to be a lock at Nuneham, but it was taken down.
More recently, too, the Folly Bridge Lock was carried away, and has
not been replaced. The history of the river as a work of art is a
long and interesting one. Obstructions to its natural course, and to
its navigation, began with mills and mill-weirs. In early charters
there are provisions for removing "gorees, mills, wears, stanks,
stakes, and kiddles." Commissions and Acts of Parliament tinkered
at the navigation, but till the end of the eighteenth century no
progress was made beyond the old mill-weir, with sluices in it to
let the boats through. This arrangement was called a "flash" lock.
The flashing emptied the reach of the river above the lock, but all
the water was needed to move the heavy barge sticking on the "gulls"
below. Navigation was of course terribly slow. A bargeman had sometimes
to send on ten miles ahead to get a flash when going up stream, and
sometimes lay for a month till enough water had accumulated. When he
got it there was none for any one else. Leonardo da Vinci, who thought
of everything, had invented the pound-lock long ago; and other people
before and after him had hit on what seems a very obvious contrivance.
But that ingenious people, the Chinese, are said still to hoist their
barges over weirs, and it was not till the time of the great period of
canal-making that began with the Bridgewater Canal in 1760 that the
pound-lock made any way in this country. The canal from Birmingham
reached Oxford in 1790, and shortly afterwards the locks and towpath
were put into their present shape. Then followed jealousies between
rivers and canals, till the railways came and made inland navigation of
less importance. Nowadays there is little barge traffic through Oxford
(Folly Bridge was always a difficult point), but another question, that
of floods, presses as much as ever. Quite recently the engineer to the
Thames Commission brought out a scheme for doing away with Iffley Lock
and Weir, and dredging a deep and narrow channel between Iffley and
Folly Bridge. The Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of Christchurch, both by
virtue of office Commissioners, were in favour of this scheme with a
view to Oxford health; but it has been proved to the satisfaction of
the Thames Conservancy Board, whose officers have examined the place,
that so sweeping a change is not needed. The effect of the change would
be to give the river banks instead of brims, and it has been argued
that it would kill the elms of Christ Church and the fritillaries in
the water meadows about Iffley. Most serious of all would be the loss
of Iffley Mill. We may hope that Oxford health need not be bought so
dearly.

[Illustration: OXFORD TO ABINGDON.]

Meantime Iffley Lock ends the shorter course for rowing practice,
Sandford the longer; while Nuneham and Abingdon, to keep to an Oxford
point of view, mark the longer picnic courses. It is all Frideswide
ground; the saint was rowed to the outhouse near Abingdon by an angel,
when she was warned in a dream and fled. The meadows of her convent
now are lined by the college barges. These are an interesting study
in development. The first of them were old procession barges of the
London City Companies. One of them, the Oriel barge, still remains,
with its delicate form, and long sharp prow, in which the rowers sat.
The bronze figures by the door of the saloon are untouched, the oval
windows, the tarnished gilding within. But the spirit of utility
rebelled and the model changed. The long prow was chopped off close,
the semblance of the high stern went, and there was left merely a
square floating dressing-room with railings round its roof, and seats
for the spectators of races. Then the sense of beauty mutinied, perhaps
alleging the use of the toy for picnic excursions, and the prow and
stern were restored. The University barge is a monument of the Gothic
revival. Several architects have tried their hand in designs for these
craft, and new ones are from time to time constructed. It is the oddest
little street, this row of motley Noah's Arks; and when the high poles
shake out their amazing flags, and the men come down in fearless
college colours, and a vast and diverse millinery decks every foot of
standing room the roofs can give, there would seem to be some touch
of an Arabian Night about a very English day, were it not that the
vigorous people wear many more colours than Arabia would allow.

A little hill at Iffley lifts up the rusty-grey rectory and church. The
church is, for its size, made in an absurd number of styles, beginning
with Late Norman. The heavy arches inside are carved round with
sunflowers, looking like an ancient imitation of modern work. Outside,
there is the strangest confusion of carvings; a centaur strayed from
Phigaleia, and other pagan images among the Christian symbols. The Gods
in Exile have visited Iffley too. On the south side a great yew has
been building all through the Transition and the Perpendicular and the
Tractarian times, and the people who Decorated, and the people who Late
Middle Pointed, and the rest make the ground quite uneven round its
roots. An undated villager, who styles himself Archdeacon of Iffley,
and has a venerable humour, comes among the graves for company.

Behind the hill, and a little beyond Iffley, lies Littlemore. Here
is the little church that Newman built, and came to from St. Mary's
for the last two years of the Via Media. Near it is the range of
low buildings that people called a monastery, where Mark Pattison
and others came to be with Newman, and where, on October 8th, 1845,
Newman was received into the "One Fold of Christ" by Father Dominic
the Passionist, the good father making holy puns upon the name of the
place. Now The College, as the building is called in the village, is
given as almshouses to the poor. The largest room is a public library.
In the kitchen lives an old woman who served the Newmans in her youth.
Her husband, an old toy peasant, with smock-frock and silver hair, and
a fine rheumatism that I am sure his country gladly supports, sits by.
She stands up and remembers Newman. He lived there with his pupils
"before he became a Pope. The Pope of Rome, that's the real Pope,
over-persuaded him, and he went away and never came back again. She did
hear that the Church of England gave him some punishment for leaving,
but didn't rightly know. And the clerk's wife had been to see him, and
found him in a bare room with no carpet on the bricks, like any poor
person, and had said that it was to be humble and like his Master that
he did it all."

Meanwhile on the river we have to pass some ornate sewage works, and
the wanton embankment of a railway, that here crosses to Littlemore.
Below lies the Rose Isle, with its "Swan Inn," and on the right the
heights come nearer with the little village of Kennington. A beautiful
tree-planted road runs along the top to Radley, with its school in the
old park of the Bowyers' house, and against the tall trees is a little
grey church and thatched cottages, where women come out and sit with
their sewing machines on the summer evenings. From this the road goes
on through a corn country to Abingdon.

Next on the river comes Sandford Mill, with a leaning chimney, that
has all the interest and all the beauty of the leaning tower of Pisa.
Sandford Church lies away from the river, nearer the Nuneham Road. The
porch proclaims, "Condidit me domina Eliz. Isham. Anno gratiæ 1652,"
and adds--

    "Thanks to thy charitie, religiose dame,
    Which found me old, and made me new againe."

It is proper, at the same time, to speak strongly of the taste which
found the church Norman, and made it something very new indeed. But it
is worth while going in to see the curious carving in the chancel of
the Assumption of the Virgin.

[Illustration: A PICNIC TO NUNEHAM.]

Another mile, and the heights of Nuneham close in on the left with
woods sweeping down to the very edge of the water. Presently one comes
upon a little island, connected with the Nuneham side by an intensely
rustic bridge. By the landing-place is a cottage with exaggerated
thatch. Here they make tea. They make most not for the University
picnics that the summer term brings to these hospitable woods, but when
the great revolt of the town sets in with the long vacation. The river
is as populous as ever then with dashing young fellows in flannel, and
enchanting young ladies dressed in the depth of fashion. Great and
many barges are towed down to Nuneham, and there merry people dance
round Carfax, and float up again to Salter's in the heavy purple dusk,
trolling snatches of songs. Carfax reminds us what a place of shifting
Nuneham is. To begin with, the family was removed hither from Stanton
Harcourt in the last century; then they moved the church and the
village to new places; then the river was moved into a new cut, and the
town of Oxford presented Lord Harcourt with Otho Nicholson's conduit.
It was a work that gave the town the final accent of the Jacobean
style; but it was in the way of cabs. May one hope that perhaps it came
to Nuneham, like other pilgrims from Oxford, only for a season, and
that it is waiting in that hospitable retreat till its home is worthy
of it again?

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE AND COTTAGE, NUNEHAM.]

The conduit did good service to Nuneham at the time. It took the place
of a projected "Gothic castle." Gothic castles and abbeys, well ruined,
were in vogue, to cap a rising ground or to conceal a dairy. It was
the time of "landscape gardening." People corrected their land as much
as possible after the ideas of Claude. It is for his pictures one must
look in grounds like those of Nuneham. The trim Elizabethan garden,
with its pleasaunce and mount, and bowling-green and wilderness,
its fountains and clipped trees, give place to a carefully-arranged
disorder. Foregrounds were picturesquely grouped, middle distances
were plotted, and sunk fences, palings painted green, grottoes with
stalactites and stalagmites and other devices went to make up what
was called Nature. The disciple of Rousseau felt that he had indeed
returned when he could sit upon a jag of extremely difficult geology
fresh from the contractor's hand, and drop the tear of sensibility
into the cascade that his own fingers had turned on. The man who had
the chief hand in the laying out of Nuneham was Lancelot Brown, called
"Capability;" but Lord Harcourt kept, besides, two tame poets, Mason,
the author of "The English Garden," and Whitehead, the Laureate, to
help him to be elaborately natural in his gardening, and to write
verses on the seats. The two had a genuine contempt for one another.
Mason had the last word. He wrote the verses on Whitehead's memorial
urn. He said--

      "....let the sons of fire
    The genius of that modest bard despise,
      Who bade discretion regulate his lyre,
    Studious to please, but scorning to surprise;
      Enough for him, if those who shared his love
    Through life, who virtue more than verse revere,
      Here pensive pause, while circling round the grove,
    And drop the heart-paid tribute of a tear."

Mason could do most things badly. His patron says of him:--"In the
church there is a barrel-organ, upon which is set Mr. Mason's music for
the responses to the Commandments, and his Sunday hymns. The adjoining
flower-garden was formed by him, and he suggested the alterations on
the north terrace. So that in a very small space we have specimens of
his genius in music, painting" (the altarpiece of the church was his
work), "and poetry; of his taste in improving the beauties of Nature;
and what is most soothing to those who loved him, a proof that he
applied his talents to the noblest purpose, that of celebrating the
praises of Him from whom he received them."

All this has only a little to do with the look of Nuneham Reach from
the river. One may discern upon it perhaps the seal of Claude, of this
and the other poet. It is so with all planted landscape. But apart from
that, Nuneham, in its architecture of hill and wood and water, has the
trick of the great places in Thames scenery. It is an early feat that
promises Richmond.

It is best to see Nuneham Reach from the railway bridge. From any
other point it is necessary to see the bridge itself. Soon after its
great achievement the river is claimed again by a distant spire. Above
Nuneham the towers of Oxford linger, holding the landscape; for the
rest of the way it belongs to St. Helen's at Abingdon.

  /D. S. MacColl/.

[Illustration: DISTANT VIEW OF ABINGDON.]



CHAPTER III.

ABINGDON TO STREATLEY.

    Abingdon--The Abbey--St. Nicholas' Church--The Market
    Cross--The Ancient Stone Cross--St. Helen's Church--Christ's
    Hospital--Culham--First View of Wittenham Clump--Clifton
    Hampden--The "Barley Mow"--A River-side Solitude--Day's Lock--Union
    of the Thames and the Isis--Dorchester--The Abbey Church--Sinodun
    Hill--Shillingford Bridge--Bensington--The Church--Crowmarsh
    Giffard--Wallingford--Mongewell--Newton Murren--Moulsford--The
    "Beetle and Wedge"--Cleeve Lock--Streatley.


Unless they be absolutely black and squalid, all old country towns
have a charm of their own. They may possess historical or personal
associations of the supremest interest, like Lichfield; they may
hold a central place in some dire story of battle and siege, like
Colchester; their renown may be architectural, as at Salisbury; or that
of a vice-metropolis, as at York. Others there are, and they are in
the majority, which have for all attraction quaint streets of gabled
houses, and rural environs gay with birds and flowers, and ancient
timbered parks watered by quivering streams. The town of Abingdon
unites most of these attributes, save that it has seen little of war,
and that it is unassociated with any commanding personality. It is
handsomer and more shapely than most of the riverside towns in the
Thames Valley; and although it is little more than a big village in
the centre of a moderately prosperous agricultural district, it is
entitled to take upon itself some of the airs and graces due to the
possession of distinctions for which many larger places sigh in vain,
since it has been a municipal and parliamentary borough since the days
of Mary Tudor. A town seated upon a river is nearly always seen to best
advantage from the water, and the view of Abingdon immediately after
the bridge is shot is very pretty and reposeful. The bridge itself,
although not remarkably graceful, is yet exceedingly picturesque. Of
great antiquity, it is greyish-brown of hue, and profusely mossed from
water-line to coping. Several of the arches are dry, and serve only
to carry on the road above, with its irregular rows of oddly-gabled
cottages. To the left all is level meadow, backed by belts of woodland;
to the right lies the town, the tall, handsome spire of St. Helen's
Church, with its flying buttresses, rising high above the red-tiled
roofs of the waterside buildings. Abingdon is a land of chestnut-trees.
Along the waterside, on the eyots, in the quiet gardens of the old
red-brick houses, there are chestnuts. To the stranger chestnuts and
grey-stone villas are, indeed, the two most notable characteristics
of this pretty little town. In the late spring and early summer the
place seems to be surrounded with the peculiarly lovely blossom of a
tree which, whatever the season may be, is always pleasing to look
upon. The chestnut in England has in modern times been treated with
less courtesy than it deserves. It is a better tree in many ways than
the elm, which is usually placed only a step or two below the oak. It
may not be so graceful, but it is beautiful notwithstanding, and far
less treacherous. In such esteem, indeed, was it held by our ancestors
that many of their beautiful half-timbered houses, which a careless
posterity supposes to have been invariably built of oak, were largely
constructed of chestnut, while many an old house is full of admirably
carved and polished chestnut furniture.

[Illustration: ABINGDON, FROM THE RIVER.]

All that there is of interest in Abingdon centres round the bridge--the
two ancient churches, the ruins of the abbey, and the market-cross.
So many rich and flourishing towns grew up, in the far monastic days,
around the great abbeys that it is a not unfair presumption that before
the Dissolution Abingdon enjoyed comparatively greater importance and
prosperity than it does now. It is still a flourishing place, and
although its streets are quiet they present no signs of decay. It is
true that it did not become a borough until after the Dissolution;
but since the charter was granted by Queen Mary, it may have been
intended as some solatium for what the townspeople had lost. That they
really did lose much is clear. Abingdon was a mitred abbey, and very
ancient, having, all legend says, been founded in the seventh century.
At the Conquest the abbot held great landed possessions in his trust,
and the house was no doubt rich in the portable wealth for which
the monasteries were renowned--vessels of gold and silver, censers
encrusted with gems, jewelled crosses, and vestments embroidered with
cloth of gold. As the abbey grew in riches and independence the monks
seem to have taken very little trouble to keep on good terms with
the townspeople or with the country-side. Quarrels were constantly
brewing, provoked, no doubt, by each side alternately; but the town
was stronger than the abbot and his chapter and all the brethren,
and about the time of Edward III.'s accession the men of Abingdon
and Oxford united to read the monks a lesson they were not likely
to forget. A great riot occurred, in which the Mayor of Oxford and
the more muscular students of the University lent their aid, with
the result that a large portion of the abbey buildings was burned.
The town was gradually becoming independent of the large revenues
disbursed by the abbot, for it conducted a very remunerative commerce
in cloth, and, indeed, an old chronicler tells us, "stood by clothing."
Nevertheless, when, in 1538, the abbey went the way of all the other
monasteries, Abingdon necessarily received a heavy blow. The remains
of the monastic buildings, although not extensive, are picturesque and
exceedingly interesting. The abbey precincts probably sloped to the
water's edge, since the gateway, which is still in fair preservation,
is close to the river, near the market-place. It has been shorn of much
of its ornamentation, and now possesses no very remarkable features,
either of architecture or of decoration; but it has been carefully
conserved, and remains whole and sound. The most attractive portion
of the abbey buildings still existing is used as a brewery, and this,
like the gateway, has been religiously shielded from other injury than
Time inflicts. This portion consists of the abbot's apartments and the
crypt beneath. The abbatial parlours have been converted into lofts,
while the crypt has returned to what may not improbably have been
its original uses--the storage of great casks of the ale for which
Abingdon is well famed in its own neighbourhood. The crypt is entered
beside a backwater, where grow more of the abounding chestnuts; but
to reach the lofts, where once the abbots of Abingdon transacted such
secular affairs as the regulation of accounts and the inditing of
business letters, one has to ascend a short flight of time-worn steps.
The doorways have pointed arches, and the windows likewise, in the
main, preserve their ancient appearance. In one of the lofts are the
remains of a handsome fireplace, which has been assigned to so remote a
period as the reign of Henry III. The gigantic chimney served by this
fireplace presents a remarkable and picturesque appearance as seen
from the road. To those of an antiquarian turn of mind these monastic
remains are very interesting; and they deserve to be better known.

At the corner of the Market-place, adjoining the Abbey Gateway, is the
church of St. Nicholas, which, although far less interesting than St.
Helen's, nearer the river, yet contains much that is worth seeing and
describing. Architecturally it is not remarkable, save for a Norman
doorway and an unusual little turret which surmounts the tower, and
forms the roof of a minstrels' gallery of great antiquity. Here is the
tomb of John Blacknall and his wife, who left many bequests to the
town, one of which is still enjoyed by forty-seven poor persons, who
receive each a loaf of bread at their benefactors' tomb every Sunday.
The monument to this united pair is of great height, and records that,
by a rare coincidence, they both died on the same day--the 21st of
August, 1625. The epitaph insists upon this touching unity even in
death in the undignified language common to inscriptions of the kind:--

    "Here death's stroke even did not part this pair;
    But by this stroke they more united were.
    And what they left behind you plainly see--
    One only daughter and their charity.
    What though the first by death's command did leave us,
    The second, we are sure, will ne'er deceive us."

[Illustration: ABINGDON BRIDGE.]

Among the ancient treasures of the church are a carved font, an ancient
lantern in the porch, and the remains of a painted window, with an
illegible inscription. Opposite this church, at the side of the
Market-place, is the Market Cross, designed by Inigo Jones, erected in
1667, and far too extensively restored in 1853. It is really, like so
many similar buildings, a covered market, with space for a considerable
number of persons to congregate. The fine timber roof, which has
happily not been interfered with, is supported upon stone pillars. This
building occupies the site of one of our most famous stone crosses,
which the town owed--as it, no doubt, owed much else--to one of the
religious foundations. One of the fraternities connected with the
Church of St. Helen was called the Brethren of the Holy Rood, and of
this godly community no less a personage than Thomas Chaucer, son of
the father of English poetry, was a governor. The Brethren of the Holy
Rood erected this cross at their own expense, and it has always been
believed that Thomas Chaucer had some hand in designing it. Leland,
the antiquary, did not overstate the matter when he described it as
a "right goodly cross of stone, with fair degrees and imagerie." It
had a decorated base, and two tiers of canopies containing statuettes,
while upon the top was a carved tabernacle. The treaty with the Scots
in 1641 was celebrated by the singing of the 106th Psalm at the foot of
the cross by a gathering of two thousand people. Three years later it
was demolished by Waller's army, as being a "superstitious edifice."
So much admired were the graceful proportions of Abingdon Cross that
it was taken as the model for that which Sir William Hollis erected
at Coventry. If Chaucer's son really had any part in designing it, we
do not know; but it is at least pleasing to fancy that he had. The
existing market cross is a not unpleasing piece of work; but many a
masterpiece of Inigo might be spared could we but have restored to us
the graceful sculptured rood built by the Confraternity of the Holy
Cross.

The Church of St. Helen, with its precincts, is by far the most
interesting part of Old Abingdon. St. Helen's is an exceedingly
handsome, well-proportioned church, such as one rarely finds in so
small a town. There has been some internal restoration, and the tower,
from which springs the slender arrow-like spire, was renovated at a
very large expense in 1885; but, at least in the interior, little
violence appears to have been done, judging from the undisturbed
condition of the tombs and mural monuments. The church is of
unusual size, and its generous proportions speak well for the pious
large-heartedness of the founders. The timbered roofs are admirable,
carved boldly and simply, and still quite sound. In the chancel the
roof is more elaborately carved, and the timbers of the north aisle
retain faint blurred traces of once brilliant religious paintings. The
church possesses the unusual number of five aisles, named respectively
the Jesus aisle, Our Lady's aisle, St. Helen's aisle, St. Catherine's
aisle (in which most of the Abingdon worthies are buried), and the
aisle of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross. There are said to be only
two or three other five-aisled churches in the kingdom. There are two
or three good old tombs to bygone Abingdon worthies, and upon one
of them the inveterate punning propensities of our ancestors, where
inscriptions of any kind were concerned, is oddly exemplified. This
is the tomb of "Richard Curtaine, gent., a principall member of this
Corpâ," whose epitaph reads:--

    "Our Curtaine in this lower press
    Rests folded up in natur's dress."

The real Abingdon shrine, however, is the resting-place, against the
chancel, of John Roysse, who founded the Grammar School. This "pious
ancestor" died in 1571, yet there is usually a wreath of flowers lying
upon his breast. It is an altar-tomb, with a reclining full-length
effigy and a partially-defaced inscription. Good Master Roysse was
one of the many charitable benefactors who seem to have flourished
in the genial soil of Abingdon. The Grammar School was founded in
his lifetime; but in his will he left at least two other charities.
He was clearly not the stamp of man who has a mind to be forgotten
after death. The upper stone of his tomb, he ordained, was to be the
"great stone" in the summer arbour of his garden in London, and the
twelve old widows who were to receive each a loaf, "good, sweet, and
seasonable," kneeling round his stone every Sunday, were to say,
upon receiving their doles, "The blessed Trinity upon John Roysse's
soul have mercy." This once picturesque ceremony, shorn of its olden
formalities, has, since 1872, been performed in the hall of Christ's
Hospital. To play upon numbers and words was one of the conceits of
the time, and so it was ordered that, since the Grammar School was
established at once in the 63rd year of its founder's age, and in the
63rd year of the century, the foundation should educate 63 boys "in
sæcula sæculorum." A small room shut away from the church, and called
the Exchequer Chamber, is used as the muniment room of the famous
"Hospital of Christ," concerning which much hereafter. Yet another
interesting tomb--interesting because it exhibits the monumental
sculpture of a century ago in all the fulness of its bathos. Mrs.
Elizabeth Hawkins, whom it commemorates, died in 1780, and ordered
that a sum of £400 should be expended upon a fitting memorial. The
money was duly laid out, the lucky recipient thereof being one Mr.
Hickey; and now, after a hundred years, the only people who can look
with satisfaction upon the transaction must be they to whom Hickey
bequeathed his money. The sorrowing stone cherub in the foreground
looks very much as though he had just undergone nursery correction.
More attractive is a good and very curious bit of wood carving affixed
to the front of the organ. The date is unknown, but its antiquity is
probably not great. It obviously represents King David, who, with a
gilded crown upon his head, plays upon a dazzlingly gilded harp. Near
the door of the vestry hangs the elaborate genealogical tree of one
W. Lee, who was five times Mayor of Abingdon, and lived to see 197
descendants. It is dated 1637. In the vestry is a copy of Foxe's "Book
of Martyrs," together with a number of Bibles and books of homilies,
all having still attached to them the ancient chains by which they were
formerly secured. The church registers go back to an unusually early
period.

Upon the south-western side of St. Helen's churchyard are the
picturesque arcaded buildings which form the more ancient portion of
the "Hospital of Christ"--a long low range of half-timbering extending
to the river front, where it is joined by a more modern wing of stone.
Age has blackened the timber and barge-boardings, and in the sunshine
the contrast between the chequer-work of the old and the grey stone
of the newer buildings is exceedingly charming. The porch is quite
romantic, and such as one rarely sees save in a water-colour. It is
supported upon stout oaken piers, the heads roughly but effectively
carved; at the partially-open sides is more carved work. It has a
steep roof with wide projecting eaves and a diamond-paned lattice
in the gable. Almost immediately behind rises, from an irregular
red-tiled roof, the graceful carved cupola which lights the entrance
hall. When the wide door of stout oak, over which one could climb
at need, stands open, the passer-by gets a delightful glimpse of a
panelled hall, into which the sun streams not too glaringly through
the cupola and the little lattices, imprinting quaint arabesques upon
the floor and the black polished wainscot, and making life lovely for
the six-and-thirty aged men and women maintained by the charity first
instituted by the pious Brethren of the Holy Rood. Over the porch are
some curious paintings illustrative mainly of works of mercy. One
of them is a view of old Abingdon Cross; and another a portrait of
Edward VI., in whose reign the hospital was refounded. These buildings
are strongly remindful of the better-known Leycester Hospital at
Warwick, but they are not nearly so lofty. This antique porch is on
sunny days the favourite spot "where want and age sit smiling at the
gate." The interior of the hall is very quaint, and contains some
sturdy furniture, suitable for the support of a giant in complete
plate-armour. A large table of oak with carved legs was presented, as
an inscription upon the frame of the picture hanging over it records,
by "Frauncis Little, one of ye governors of this hospital" in 1607. In
the Exchequer Chamber in the church is preserved a manuscript history
of the hospital, written by good Master Little, with the title, "A
Monument of Christian Munificence." Here is another portrait of Edward
VI., and a curious picture of the building of Abingdon Bridge. It is
of great age, dedicated, it would seem, to "Jefforye Barbur and John
Howchion." When the brethren of St. Cross first became a corporate
body is now doubtful. Francis Little in his history says that the
foundation existed in 1388, and there is reason for supposing that it
had come into being long before. At the Dissolution the confraternity
was abolished, but it was revived by Edward VI., and endowed with
three-fourths of the old foundation. The Charter enjoins upon the
Governors that they are to keep in repair the four bridges over the
Thames and the Ock, to provide food and lodging for fourteen poor
persons, and to devote the surplus of their funds to other charitable
uses. These funds have grown to such a bulk that thirty-six poor people
are now maintained, while Abingdon Grammar School has been rebuilt,
and a public park given to the town out of the surplus. Surely, roses
should blossom upon the graves of those who founded and re-founded
"the Hospital of Christ at Abingdon." Near to this dreamy old-world
churchyard is Ock Street, one of the longest and finest streets to be
found in an English country-town. It is broad as a boulevard, and is
literally crowded with old Jacobean and Georgian houses, some of them
so large as to be fairly called mansions.

[Illustration: CULHAM CHURCH.]

The Berkshire shore is lined with pleasant houses for half a mile or so
below Abingdon Bridge. The towing-path is here upon the Oxford bank,
and skirts rich meadows picturesquely studded with large shade-trees.
Away to the left lie heavy masses of woodland, such as engirdle the
whole of the Thames Valley; on the facing bank are the straggling
environs of Abingdon, having, when seen from this point, somewhat of
the foreign aspect so often worn by these little waterside towns.
But in less than a mile we are amid scenes that are very English.
The meadows at first are flat, which, the rather than a blemish, I
esteem to be a beauty. The perfection of sylvan and pastoral river
scenery, as distinguished from the bold and rocky loveliness of some
of our wilder English streams, demands flattish banks, the better
to throw into relief the undulating fields and shimmering woodlands
which so often close in a homely scene having for relief merely some
grey church tower almost hidden among the lofty elms, and the mellowed
ruddiness of a farmhouse gable. A little below Abingdon the tiny Ock
enters the stream, and so ends its independent existence. Any time
from eight to ten in the morning--for, oddly enough, boating-men are
rarely up with the lark--camping-out parties may be seen engaged in
the serious business of breakfasting, or in the lighter but less
exhilarating task of washing-up the cups and saucers, and generally
"making tidy" before the day's leisurely pull. As a rule, however, the
river is deserted during the whole of the forenoon, even in the height
of the season, as, indeed, the towing-path always is, whether it be
late or early--at least, upon this portion of the stream. The river
banks, from the bridge at Abingdon to Culham Lock, are very charming
in summer, to those who are content with ordinary scenery, and do not
expect a famous view on entering every reach. Nearing Culham, the river
bends very sharply to the right, and just at the curve a white wooden
bridge crosses a beautiful little back-water, brilliantly pied with
water-lilies, and thickly bordered with graceful aquatic grasses. Then
come fields of standing corn, the sturdy ears sheltering the frail
crimson poppies--wheat and tares intermingled. From some hidden spot in
the centre of the field comes the loud, harsh cry of the corn-crake,
that bird so often heard and so seldom seen. Sometimes the crop is the
drooping oats or the "bold and bearded barley;" but whatever be the
grain, there is the fat, solemn rook, who reluctantly wheels away from
his farinaceous banquet, to hide for a few minutes in the long row of
elms in the adjoining field. Close to Culham the stream divides, a
broad rushy channel flowing past Sutton Courtney, with its venerable
Edwardian Manor House and the well-known weirs, while a straight,
narrow, and not very picturesque cut, makes direct for the Lock. In
passing there is a very pretty glimpse of Culham Church, which stands
out effectively from a background of trees, and looks in the distance
the ideal of an old parish church. A nearer view reveals that most of
the building is very modern, and that even the square tower dates only
from the days of William and Mary. Culham is a pretty and interesting
little place, and still happily preserves its village green.

A few yards below Culham Lock the river assumes its old proportions,
the water from the deep millpool at Sutton, where there are fishes
indeed, now forming the old main channel with the cut as a mere
contributary. Hereabouts there are usually one or two camping parties,
the proximity of a lock-keeper's cottage being a convenience which
none can appreciate so well as a tired oarsman. Although the immediate
banks continue flat, the country around grows more rugged, the meadows
and cornfields become billowy, and sloping gently up long miles ahead,
although apparently no farther distant than the next parish, is seen
Wittenham Clump, with its smooth grassy sides and little grove of
trees atop. Hence away to Shillingford it is rarely out of sight, for
the river winds so sinuously through the valley over which the Clump
watches that between Clifton Hampden and Day's Lock it describes a
perfect semicircle. The Clump forms a majestic background to many a
stretch of varied timber and parti-coloured fields. Something like a
mile below Appleford Bridge commences another unlovely necessary cut--a
kind of graduated penance in preparation for the severer _supplice_ of
Clifton Lock. He who elects to see the river-land from the towing-path
has a decided advantage over the oarsman, where these cuts and locks
are concerned. This particular cut is more tolerable than some of
those which the exigencies of navigation have rendered necessary.
The Berkshire shore has a fringe of plantations and mossy creepered
banks, which compensate somewhat for the nakedness of the Oxford bank
at this point. At the end of this straight channel is Clifton Lock.
The keeper's cottage is in summer a lovely picture, for it stands in a
little garden ablaze with brilliant flowers of the old-fashioned stock
viewed with disfavour by the scientific gardener; while the cottage
walls are covered with creepers yellow and russet. Just clear of the
Lock the main stream re-enters the channel, and a bend in the river's
course reveals the heights of Clifton Hampden and the beauteous vale
beneath. The long, red-brick bridge of six pointed arches, which has
only of late years superseded the ferry, is in itself a picturesque
object. The surrounding country is flat, and so is most of the village;
but the bold hill which rises with a sharp slope from the water is
crowned by the church and the vicarage. From the summit to the edge of
the stream the bluff is densely timbered, and thick belts of woodland
line the Oxford bank for some distance below the bridge. The delightful
little village relies upon Nature for all its charms, for it has no
history. Nor can it be said that the church is very interesting,
save as a favourable example of Sir Gilbert Scott's early skill as
a restorer. Sir Gilbert's work here was done in 1844, when he was
comparatively a young man. The old work is really ancient, for Clifton
Church was originally a chapelry served from Dorchester Abbey. The
reredos is in mosaic; but the most remarkable thing in the church is an
altar-tomb to the late Mr. G. H. Gibbs, at whose cost the building was
restored. The recumbent marble figure is a portrait. The churchyard is
kept with unusual neatness, and numbers of the graves are covered with
flowers. Its altitude is such that it affords delightful views up the
river towards Abingdon, and down towards Day's Lock and Sinodun Hill.
The serpentine course of the river is very striking as seen from this
height; and even here, with the naked eye, Wittenham and Sinodun seem
to bar the stream.

[Illustration: CLIFTON HAMPDEN CHURCH.]

At Clifton Hampden, in the season, there is usually a house-boat or
two moored among the masses of water-lilies which profusely strew
the stream near the bridge, and a more charming spot, away from such
"fashionable" places as Goring, Henley, or Maidenhead, could hardly
be selected as the anchorage of these leviathans of the upper Thames.
The neighbourhood abounds in rural walks, and in subjects both for the
pencil of the artist and the pen of the man of letters. One of the most
charming "bits" at Clifton has neither been sketched nor described
quite so often as it deserves to have been. The "Barley Mow" is
assuredly the oddest and quaintest of inns on the river. It lies on the
Berkshire bank, in a little roadside corner all to itself. What its age
may be it would be difficult to tell; but its high, overhanging roof
is thatched and its walls are half-timbered. The diminutive casements,
about the size of the door of a rabbit-hutch, admit just enough of
light to heighten the interior effect. Broad masses of light are out
of place within such venerable walls. The brick-floored kitchen--or
maybe it is the parlour--is delightfully snug; the walls panelled
darkly all round; the honest raftered ceiling so low as to do away with
the necessity ever to stand upon the naked wooden settles to reach
things; the fireplace extending across one whole side of the room, the
oddest imaginable cross between an old-fashioned ingle-nook open grate
and a modern kitchen range; the chimney-piece garnished with many a
brightly-burnished pot and pan. No demure Phyllis makes her appearance;
but the cider--we are in a great cider country--is nectar. At the back
of the inn is just such a queer little garden as Dickens loved to write
about. All the flowers were our great-grandmother's, and, indeed,
modern daintinesses would sadly mar the antiquated aspect of this
typical roadside inn of a day that is long past.

At Clifton Bridge the towing-path crosses to the Berkshire shore, and
for the next two miles the scenery is, perhaps, the prettiest, with
the exception of Clifton itself, between Abingdon and Wallingford. The
Oxford bank is clothed luxuriantly with trees, out of which now and
again peeps, half unperceived, the canvas shelter of a camping party.
These occasional encampments are almost the only sign of life, so far
as the banks of the river are concerned. Between Clifton and Day's Lock
the country is remarkably solitary. The waterside meadows are nearly
all empty; but here and there a herd of cattle browses leisurely, or,
if it be high noon, shelters itself from the heat and the tormenting
flies under the lee of the thick hedgerows. Pedestrians are never
seen. That it is good to row upon a beautiful river, but undesirable
to walk by the side of it, appears to be the popular idea; but despite
the physical exhilaration and the æsthetic delight of the rhythmical
swing of oars, the river can be seen best from the towing-path, and
if the love of walking-tours had not very largely died out we might
expect to see the banks of the upper Thames as much frequented as its
waters. It is often possible to pass between Clifton and Day's Lock
without meeting either man or boat, which seems a little odd, since
that reach is in high favour during the season. To the walker upon
the towing-path this silence and vacancy become oppressive, and the
sudden splash of a water-rat striking out from among the rushes is
quite startling. The Berkshire shore is flattish here; but there are
swelling uplands beyond, and the Wrekin-shaped Sinodun Hill looms quite
close upon the left. Presently there stands out from among the trees
on the Oxford bank an old church with a very long nave and tall tower,
with an unusual high-pitched red roof, topped by a vane. That is the
famous Abbey Church of Dorchester, the solitary remnant of the ancient
grandeur of the olden capital of Wessex. A little farther is Day's
Lock, with the ferry between Little Wittenham and Dorchester, where,
even in a season of drought, the water is unusually full and brimming,
the result, perhaps, of the wedding near by of the little Thame with
the more classic and magnificent Thames, or Isis, as the poets have
preferred to call it. This conceit owes its origin almost entirely to
such comparatively modern poets as Warton and Drayton, though Spenser,
in the "Faërie Queen," seems to have originated the legend in somewhat
of a backhanded way:--

                    "The lovely bridegroom came,
    The noble Thamis, with all his goodly traine,
    But before him there went, as best became,
      His auncient parents, namely, th' auncient Thame;
    But much more aged was his wife than he,
      The Ouze, whom men doe Isis rightly name.
    Full weak and crooked creature seemed shee,
    And almost blind through Eld, that scarce her way could see."

[Illustration: DORCHESTER, FROM LITTLE WITTENHAM.]

Nearly opposite Dorchester there is an eyot adorned by a remarkably
fine chestnut, while between Clifton and Day's Lock are others which
bear little save the humble, useful osier. At Day's the towing-path
crosses into Oxfordshire. Dorchester, which makes a very picturesque
appearance from the river, since it stands upon a greater elevation
than the country through which we have passed, is about half a mile
from the Lock. The field-path, which runs for some distance through a
most unpoetical turnip patch, skirts the famous Dyke Hills, the Roman
fortifications upon which sheep most peacefully browse. The fortified
camp of which these earthworks formed part is supposed to have been
guarded on one side by the Thames, on the other by the Thame, and must,
consequently, have been of enormous strength. Dorchester, which fell
from its splendour and ceased to be a capital more than a thousand
years ago, is a quaint little village, in which the antiquarian
voyager can spend some hours of crowded interest. Its three or four
old streets are full of strange twists and oddly-gabled houses, and
the number of old-fashioned inns is remarkable, it being remembered
that the population of the place but slightly exceeds a thousand. There
was surely never a more complete fall from a high estate than that
suffered by Dorchester. Not only was it the capital of Wessex, but it
was the seat of the great bishopric eventually removed to Lincoln; and
the Venerable Bede records that Dorcinca was full of richly-garnished
churches. Twelve centuries and a half ago Cynegils, King of Wessex, was
baptised there, as of right in his capital, by the sainted Birinus.
The bishopric, after being removed to Sidnacester, was restored to
Dorchester, and it was not until after the conquest that Lincoln was
finally selected as the home of the Bishop-stool. The Abbey Church
is the glory of the place, since it is not only exceedingly fine in
itself, but is the sole survival of the dim ages in which Dorchester
was a cathedral city, and the capital of one of the Heptarchical
kingdoms. The Church of Dorchester Abbey was undoubtedly built upon
the site of the Saxon Cathedral, of which some fragments, such as the
north wall of the nave, and an arch or two, probably formed part. As
it stands now, the church is a patchwork of styles, from the Norman to
the Tudor. It is of great size, the length from east to west being 183
feet, and the area over 10,000 square feet. Dorchester churchyard has
sometimes been considered handsome; but it is too ragged to be fairly
so described. Near the south door is an ancient churchyard cross, the
shaft of which is very much dilapidated, but the head has been well
restored. The porch to the south door is Tudor work in stone, with a
good timbered roof. The interior of the church is not unremindful, at a
general glance, of St. Albans Abbey, since the nave is entirely blocked
by the tower. Restoration was commenced by Sir Gilbert Scott; but there
is so much to be done, and the cost of doing it is so considerable,
that the work will probably not be finished for years to come. At the
bottom of the north aisle is a large collection of sculptured stones,
which, no doubt, before the Dissolution, formed part of the monastic
buildings. They were mainly obtained from an old house in the village,
which would seem to have been largely built with materials taken
from the Abbey, and it is intended to build them into the fabric as
opportunity offers. The western end of the building is somewhat gloomy,
a defect which might without difficulty be removed by the uncovering of
the handsome west window, which has long been bricked up. Dorchester
has one of the very few leaden fonts of Norman workmanship which now
remain to us: there is another at Long Wittenham, on the opposite side
of the river. Round the bowl are cut, in high relief, the figures of
the eleven apostles, Judas being, of course, inadmissible. What, had
not the tower intervened, would have been the western end of the nave,
forms an ante-church, which is used for the minor services. A pillar
in this chapel has some quaint carvings near the base. One of the most
ancient portions of the church seems to be the Lady Chapel, at the
eastern extremity of the south aisle adjoining the chancel. The altar
here was erected in memory of Bishop Wilberforce, of Winchester. There
are four altar-tombs in the Lady Chapel, the survivors of probably a
much larger number. Two are to ladies; the others represent Crusaders.
The feet of each rest upon a lioncel. Close to these tombs is the brass
of Richard Bewforest, to whose piety posterity owes the preservation of
this Abbey Church. In 1554 Master Bewforest purchased the church from
the hands of the despoilers, paying therefor £140, which, although a
goodly sum for his day, was assuredly not extravagant. Here, too, is an
unornamented brass to an undistinguished person, named Thomas Day, with
the following odd epitaph, dated 1693:--

    "Sweet Death he came in Hast
      & said his glass is run;
    Thou art ye man i say,
      See what thy God has done."

[Illustration: SINODUN HILL AND DAY'S LOCK.]

In the chancel there have been many fine and elaborately ornamented
brasses, but only a few remain in their integrity. One of the most
perfect thus records another Bewforest:--"Here lyeth Sir Richard
Bewfforeste: I pray thee give his sowl good rest." This Richard was
not a knight, but an ecclesiastic, as the brass, upon which he is
represented with cope and crozier, proves; and the prefix was given
him according to an ancient custom, of which we have an example in
the person of Sir Oliver Martext, the priest in _As You Like It_. On
the north side of the chancel is the wonderful "Jesse Window," which
has been so often described that it has become one of the best known
of our ecclesiastical antiquities. The ornamentation of the window
takes the form of a pictorial pedigree in stone, the tree having its
root in the body of Jesse, each progenitor of the line of David being
represented by a small stone figure; but the effigies of Christ and
His mother have disappeared. Upon the glass of the window are somewhat
rude representations of the chief members of the line of Jesse. This
very remarkable window is in good preservation, notwithstanding that
it is now at least five centuries old. A word must be said of the fine
timbered roofs of the Abbey. That of the nave, supported upon most
graceful clustered columns, is really magnificent, while the groined
roof of the Lady Chapel possesses a lightness and grace which such work
often lacks. There are still many brasses, together with an enormous
number of flat stones in the church, but the majority of the brasses
and incised stones have been damaged, apparently with wilful intent.
Here and there an elaborate matrix sadly suggests the treasures we have
lost. Against the lych-gate at the western end of the churchyard is one
of the largest and most luxuriant chestnuts to be noticed even in a
neighbourhood full of large chestnut trees. The gate and the tree, with
the great grey church for background, fashion themselves into a lovely
picture. Beyond the church and the quaint old houses there is nothing
of interest in Dorchester save the building now occupied as a national
school, which was formerly the grammar school. The interior, full of
great timber beams and joists, is very picturesque. It is believed to
have been the refectory of the Abbey, and an antiquity of some seven
centuries is assigned to it.

Opposite Dorchester is Sinodun Hill, which has been growing gradually
nearer for several miles during our leisurely progress down-stream.
If it be good climbing weather--that is to say, not too hot--Sinodun
should not be passed heedlessly by. The climb is a stiffish one, but
once the shelter gained of the little clump of trees atop, there is
ample compensation for an exercise such as Englishmen are not usually
afraid of. From this eminence the country lies displayed as though upon
a map. The shining river twists and curvets like a snake in agony; upon
its timbered banks repose tiny villages, distinguishable in the mass
of foliage only by the vanes upon the steeples and the thin quivering
lines of smoke which melt into nothingness just above the tree-tops;
roads and railways look straight and uncompromising indeed beside the
sinuous stream. The country is multi-coloured--the fields green and
brown and yellow, with here and there a great square of black woodland.
The sun seems to shine upon some and to leave others in shadow,
while over all there move flecks of trembling light. The view in the
direction we are travelling is closed by swelling downs destitute of
all colour but the dim grey of distance.

Down below us, near the weir, industrious anglers are barbelling or
spinning for jack, for hence almost to Shillingford are fine fishing
grounds. Here the river bends somewhat towards Dorchester, and it is
long ere we pass out of sight of the Abbey. Upon the Berkshire shore
are uplands, broad, swelling, and cultivated to the utmost rood. These
rolling uplands never look better than in haymaking or harvest time,
when the cocks and sheaves are yellowing in the sunlight. The regular,
almost square, boundaries of the fields suggest a green and yellow
chessboard, and at seedtime the mathematical furrows are as straight
as though cut by a machine. The nicety of vision, and the accuracy of
touch with which a ploughman cuts a furrow are astonishing in one who
usually has instinct and eye alone to guide him. After all there is
something intellectual in the following of the plough, and the peculiar
qualities required of the ploughman are such that it is not altogether
surprising that both science and letters have drawn notable recruits
from the furrowed field. Almost until we reach the next ferry, a couple
of miles below Day's Lock, Dorchester still straggles along parallel
to the river, and the last glimpse of its red roofs from a bend in the
stream is exceedingly picturesque. The towing-path ceases abruptly
at the ferryman's quaint little cottage, and the _venue_ for the
pedestrian changes for a time into Berkshire. The stream just here is
very charming to the lover of rivers, for although both shores continue
flat they are dotted with clumps of woodland, and the water's edge is
gaily caparisoned with verdure. The towing-path for a short distance
grows almost wild for so highly civilised a country as that through
which the Thames flows, and the pedestrian wades to the knees through
rank brambly grass. A few more minutes and we reach Shillingford
Bridge, with its four grey arches. At the Berkshire end of the bridge
is that pretty rural inn the "Swan," a favourite abiding place of
boating parties which include ladies. The little lawn is dotted with
gay costumes of coolest tints and softest texture, for a lazy afternoon
hour or two is not ungrateful upon the banks of Thames in the dog-days.
On the Oxford bank is a cluster of tiny cottages, each in an ample
garden full of those brilliant old-fashioned flowers which the cottager
loves so well. The diminutive latticed windows are garnished, too,
with geraniums and fuchsias; honeysuckle climbs to the not very lofty
gables, and the little trellis-work porches are aglow with the cool
foliage and delicate tints of clematis. The road is thickly bordered
with elm and beech, and beyond, shining brilliantly in the afternoon
sun, are long red ranges of barns and cow-sheds, darkly-roofed and
golden-walled ricks of last year's hay, side by side with the brand-new
thatch of the yellow stack that has just left the thatcher's hand. From
the bridge itself there is a pleasant view up and down the river over
what our grandfathers would have called a "fine champaign country,"
flat and pastoral on the Oxford shore, but swelling into bold wooded
undulations on the opposite bank--such a stretch of varied scenery as
most becomingly wears the sober darkling tints of autumn. When the wind
swirls the brown sapless leaves into the turbid river, and the bare
stubbles echo to the crack of the breechloader, Nature hereabouts has
that distinct autumnal charm which is never more delightful than in a
sylvan and pastoral landscape.

[Illustration: SHILLINGFORD BRIDGE.]

From Shillingford to Bensington the towing-path is again in
Oxfordshire. The river banks become more frequented, and the complete
angler abounds; for most renowned baskets are constantly obtained from
this pretty stretch of water. The eyots are luxuriant with osiers, and
in the osier harvest punt after punt lies heavily laden with the lithe,
flexible sticks which the men cut and tie into bundles with astonishing
deftness and rapidity. Many of these little osier-covered islands are
surrounded with white and yellow water-lilies, which seem to have an
affection for such a situation. The square tower of Bensington Church
has a venerable appearance; but the really ancient church has been
restored into newness. Consequently, nothing remains of any great
interest; but, most happily, the reforming zeal of the re-builders
stopped short of interfering with the handsome chancel-arch. On the
south wall of the nave is an inscription which, from its very oddity,
deserves to be recorded:--

                                M. S.

                        To the pious memory
                  of Ralph Quelch and Jane his wife

      who slept } together in 1 { bed by ye space of 40 yeares.
      now sleepe}               { grave till Ct. shall awaken them.

        He  } fell asleep Ano. Dni. { 1629 } being aged { 63 } yeares.
        She }                       { 1619 }            { 59 }

  For ye fruit of their { labours } they left { ye new inn twice built at
                                                  their own charge.
                        { bodies  }           { one only son and two
                                                  daughters.

      Their son being liberally bred in ye University of Oxon thought
                himself bound to erect this small monument

                    of { their } piety towards { God
                       { his   }               { them

                              Ano. Dni. 16....

Epitaphs in this form are by no means uncommon; but it would be
difficult to find one of quainter conception. Even the surname of the
worthy proprietors of the "New Inn" has a Dickens-like grotesqueness.
Bensington is interesting to lovers of English literature as having
belonged to the Chaucers, from whom it descended to the De la Poles.
Bensington Lock is below the village, and oarsmen pulling up to Oxford
have learned to beware of the dangerous cross-current at the weir.
Near the lock the tow-path crosses again to the Berkshire shore. Hence
away to Wallingford the country becomes much more picturesque. The
Oxford bank is most profusely wooded; groves of willows and alders
edge the stream; while farther ashore glades of elm and chestnut
perfume the air. Overshadowed by trees, whose branches intertwine,
is a pretty red-brick boat-house, into which as we pass disappears
a gaily-freighted boat, seeming to pass from brilliant sunshine and
rippling river into the dark recesses of some dusky cavern. Then the
woodland opens out, the scenery becomes park-like, and through the
clumps of oak which stud the foreground we get glimpses of Howberry
Park, a more than usually handsome Elizabethan house, the successor of
a hardly more picturesque Jacobean building destroyed a century ago by
the flames which await every country-house, be it soon or be it late.
Howberry Park, once the seat of the Blackstones, lies in the parish
of Crowmarsh Giffard, almost opposite the town of Wallingford. The
vestry-door of Crowmarsh Church is riddled with bullets--reminders,
it is said, of the last siege of Wallingford, at which time this door
hung in the west entrance to the church. The first view of Wallingford
is not very prepossessing. Against the bridge rises the tall and
unutterably inelegant spire of St. Peter's Church, the hideous product
of a mind unhappily diverted from law to ecclesiology.

[Illustration: ST. PETER'S CHURCH AND WALLINGFORD BRIDGE.]

Wallingford possesses interesting memories, although its visible
antiquities are not numerous. The town was of consequence in Roman
times, and a line of splendidly-preserved earthworks, thrown up by
Latin-tongued warriors, is to be seen in a field near the railway
station. The Castle of Wallingford underwent sieges innumerable,
since its comparative nearness to London rendered its possession of
importance to each side in the dynastic wars of the Middle Ages. It
was held for the Empress Maud; it resisted stoutly in the behalf of
that clever scoundrel, John Lackland; it was garrisoned for Charles
I., but was compelled to surrender, and the Parliament made short work
of its keeps and battlements. The fortress was not entirely destroyed,
and the mutilated remains are carefully preserved in the gardens of
the present Wallingford Castle. In the museum at the Castle there is
an interesting collection of antiquities relating to the town and
the fortress. The importance or the piety of the town must have been
far greater previous to the Cromwellian civil wars than either is
now, since there were then fourteen churches, whereas there are now
but three. Beyond one or two tablets to local benefactors, there is
nothing interesting in St. Mary's Church on the Market Place. St.
Peter's is the burial-place of Sir William Blackstone, "one of the
judges of His Majesty's Superior Courts at Westminster," and Recorder
of Wallingford, who built the flint tower, with its uncomfortable
spire--both conspicuous monuments of the architectural decadence--and
died in 1780. In the Council Chamber of the Town Hall there is a modern
portrait of the judge in robes and bag-wig. It is charitable to suppose
that his lordship's legal acumen was superior to his architectural
taste. The most interesting tomb in the churchyard is that of Edward
Stennett, the friend of Bunyan, who may have died any time between 1705
and 1795, since the third figure of the date has become obliterated.
Among the portraits in the Town Hall is one of Archbishop Laud ascribed
to Holbein. The date of 1635 upon the painting indicates that the
author of the ascription was daring even beyond the usual audacity
of such persons. The presence of Laud's portrait is explained by the
double fact of his being a Berkshire man and a benefactor to the town.
In common with most of the towns in the Thames Valley, Wallingford
contains many good red-brick houses, chiefly of Georgian date.

[Illustration: MOULSFORD FERRY.]

The river, after leaving Wallingford, widens a little, and there is a
continuation of the park-like meadows. A short distance down stream is
Wallingford Lock, which is a lock only in name. Here the towing-path
deserts the Oxford for the Berkshire shore, and the long and lovely
reach which ends at Moulsford Bridge begins. This spot marks the
commencement of the stretch of meadow, hills, and woodland, which makes
the delight of Goring and Pangbourne. The Oxfordshire bank is not
merely studded, but is thickly overhung, with trees and undergrowth,
beneath whose shade many a boat is moored for those aquatic flirtations
which are among the most enchanting of summer diversions. Directly one
gets clear of Wallingford the wooded heights about Streatley come in
view, with a glowing "scarf of sunshine athwart their breast." On the
Oxford bank, halfway to North Stoke, more or less, is Mongewell House,
a delicate bit of white in a setting of green lawns and venerable
trees. Once Mongewell was an episcopal retirement, to which the Bishops
of Durham resorted for relief from the fatigues of administration.
It was admirably suited to such a purpose, since it is a silent and
contemplative spot--the more peaceful, perhaps, from the contiguity of
the little Church of Newton Murren, a marvel of the miniature, with
a tiny chancel, and a belfry no bigger than a dovecote. Any monotony
there may be from this spot to the ferry at North Stoke is relieved
by the Streatley Hills, looming ever larger as the boat swings down
the reach, and by the fine clumps of timber which line the river bank
on each side. Many a sweet rural picture is passed on the oarsman's
highway between Newton Murren and Moulsford Bridge, and in such a
country all seasons of the year, and all times of the day, have their
charm. The early-morning hours upon the riverside provide unending
delight to the real lover of nature. Everything is fresh, crisp, and
blithe, for the life of the fields and hedgerows is busy and bustling
long before the earliest man's breakfast-time. The ideal climate, cool
but not cold, exhilarating, buoyant, redolent of the delight of life,
would be a perpetual summer morning, such as it is from five until
nine. Every sight gratifies the eye. Then the dew is still heavy upon
the hedgerows and the tall aquatic grasses, and where there is a bit
of furzy country, there is a tear in every golden flower of gorse.
The atmosphere is clearer and more elastic than later in the day. The
far-distant rush of trains, the only reminder that there is a world
beyond the horizon, and that its daily fret has begun, which at noon is
a mere rumble, in this crisp air is sharp and almost shrill. The ring
of the scythe under the whetstone many fields away sounds but a few
yards off, and the metallic clang of the stable clock at some country
house, hidden behind the belts of woodland, half-an-hour's walk as
the crow flies, is distinct as the raspy cry of the corn-crake in the
yellowing wheat near by. It is hard to say at what season of the day
this stretch down to Moulsford Bridge is most charming. To my taste
it is the early morning; but poets and lovers would probably prefer
sunset, not to say moonlight.

[Illustration: ABINGDON TO STREATLEY.]

Against Moulsford Bridge there is a lovely eyot, edged with flags and
rushes, and bushy with willows and alders. In time of drought the
furthermost arch on the Berkshire shore is not uncommonly dry. There is
a path on each side of the river just here; that on the Berkshire bank
is the more enticing, for it is quite romantically wild and undulating;
but the towing-path proper crossed into Oxfordshire at Stoke Ferry a
little further up. It is well worth risking trespass and climbing to
the railway bridge for the sake of the fine view up and down the river.
Looking back the way we have come, the country is rich, pastoral, and
full of trees; ahead the prospect, while equally sylvan, is far more
varied. The river winds but little, and the long reach past Moulsford
Ferry is in sight for some distance, but the banks are more park-like,
and the land begins to swell towards the background of hills that
closes in the view, the outposts of the range of downs which beautifies
the river beyond Streatley. The brimming, almost straight, reach of
water immediately below the bridge is one of the most interesting spots
on the river to the muscular generation, since upon it are rowed the
trial eights of the Oxford University Boat Club. Close to the bridge
the perch-fisher is usually in great force, for around the eyot the
perch dwells in numbers. It is but a short distance hence to the Ferry,
where the water is remarkably deep and limpid. Opposite thereto is the
oddly-named "Beetle and Wedge" Inn, a quaint, three-gabled old place,
overgrown with ivy and shaded by clumps of luxuriant elms. "The Beetle"
is a grateful halting-place, and its brick-floored parlour a cool
retreat from the glare of the outer world. There is usually a garrulous
villager or two, in the long-descended smock-frock beloved of the older
generation of peasants even in these changeful days, who will pause in
the discussion of their mugs of brown home-brewed to greet the stranger
with the old-fashioned courtesy which still happily clings to their
class. The "Beetle and Wedge" is an odd old place, and although not
nearly so original as the "Barley Mow" at Clifton, it has the low roofs
and capacious fireplaces which add so much to the comfort of an ancient
hostel. It is really astonishing how large a number of our old wayside
inns have survived the crushing blow dealt them by the abolition of
the stage-coach. There they stand still, with their venerable gables,
handsome red roofs, and ample chimneys, eloquently suggestive of warmth
and good cheer for tired travellers. In a comfortable old-fashioned inn
the crusty loaf, the hunch of well-seasoned Cheshire, and the tankard
with "a good head to it," like David Copperfield's birthday treat, have
a zest and flavour which are always lacking elsewhere; the result, no
doubt, of their being usually eaten during the exhilaration following
upon physical exercise. These ancient Thames-side inns possess a charm
peculiar to themselves, due largely to their lovely surroundings and to
the river flowing beneath their windows.

From the "Beetle and Wedge" to Streatley and Goring Bridge, the goal of
our pilgrimage in this chapter, the towing-path keeps to the Berkshire
bank. As we near Cleeve Lock the scenery becomes yet more sylvan. The
river is densely lined with trees, the more especially on the Oxford
shore, and the stream winds just enough for picturesqueness. Groups of
splendid beeches dot the country, and the water is enlivened by many a
boatful of flannelled rowers and pink-vested sirens. Ladies appear to
have recognised, with intuitive taste, that pink and white are two of
the most effective colours for river wear, and the Thames, in all the
fashionable reaches, owes much of its vivacity to the brilliant hues
of its attendant water-nymphs. However solitary the river may be in
some parts, as between Clifton and Dorchester, for instance, there is
enough of life and movement within hail of Goring. The neighbourhood
of Cleeve Lock is a favourite haunt for house-boats and campers, since
there is nothing prettier on that side of Abingdon until such famous
spots as Henley and Maidenhead are reached. The house-boats which
take up their moorings hereabouts are usually of the larger and more
elaborate pattern. The little muslined windows are gaily decked with
flowers, there is a miniature flower-garden upon the flat roof, and
where the roof overhangs are suspended Chinese lanterns, gorgeous with
many a brilliant stripe and spot. A graceful white-robed figure, in a
coquettish pink sash, seated in the stern, is not the least attractive
object in the landscape. The roar of the Streatley weirs below is
plainly heard, and many are the lovely glimpses of the brimming, rushy
river between the lock and the bridge. Overhead rise, close at hand,
the broad, rolling hills, upon which the sun casts shade and shine in
successive flecks. The clouds, alternately deep blue and flaky-white,
seem to cast their moving reflections upon the crest of the hills,
for the gilded sunshine melts with delicate gradations into soft,
shimmering shadow. Half a mile or so below Cleeve Lock the stream
divides, the cut to the left going to Goring Lock and the main channel
to Streatley. From the point of divergence to Streatley and Goring
Bridge is but a brief pull, and few pilgrims of the Thames will desire
to push on without halting for a while at this pretty village. Near the
bridge is a mill, fed from the river, looking very picturesque with its
steep gables and high-set dormer windows. The weirs here are favourite
sketching grounds, and almost daily in summer and early autumn easels
are pitched in the wise represented in the final illustration to this
chapter. These weirs are exemplars of the picturesque. Roughly built
up with stone and stakes, they are overgrown with furzy vegetation, to
which the water, as it pours foaming down the cascade, forms a charming
contrast. There are few prettier glimpses of Thames scenery than are
to be had from the long white toll-bridge which connects Goring with
Streatley. Looking down are the thick woodlands about Cleeve Lock, with
the rich, timbered meadows on the Berkshire bank. Upward, towards
Goring and Pangbourne, the course of the river is seemingly stemmed by
the downs, which are covered with herbage and timbered to the water's
edge. The weirs, with their tumbling waters, and the little eyots,
cumbered with tall osiers, add to the picturesque diversity of the
scene. The twin villages themselves are embosomed in foliage, which in
the wane of summer takes many changing tints.

[Illustration: STREATLEY MILL.]

Although it is not a very distinguished spot, historically speaking,
Streatley has far-reaching memories. Ina, King of Wessex, is mentioned
in the Cartulary of Abingdon Abbey as having given a piece of land
there in 687. After the Conquest the manor was part of the rich booty
secured by that bold brigand Geoffrey de Mandeville. The church, which
nestles among some grand old trees at the foot of the village, near
the waterside, is ancient but hardly picturesque. Its patron, oddly
enough, is doubtful, but is believed to be either St. Mary or St. John
the Baptist. The massive square tower is well preserved and dignified.
There is some uncertainty as to the date of the church, but it appears
to have been built by Pone, Bishop of Sarum, in the first or second
decade of the thirteenth century. He it was who endowed it, and some
of the architectural details are similar to those in the bishop's own
famous cathedral. The oldest funeral inscription in the church is
upon a brass, dated 1440, in memory of Elizabeth Osbarn. This brass,
like one or two others, is very well preserved, and still bears the
full-length figure of the lady. Large families appear to have been
very common in the Thames Valley in the olden times, as numberless
inscriptions in riverside churches testify; and it is not surprising to
find here a brass, dated 1603, to a parent of eleven daughters and six
sons. The village has a pleasant street on the brow of the hill, with
some good old houses shaded by older trees. Streatley is a delightful
place to halt for the night on a boating or walking excursion. Its
material advantages are that it has capital accommodation for the tired
walker and rower, and that the proximity of Goring Station makes it
easy to bring up the heavy luggage, without which ladies are not happy,
even on the river. Of its more æsthetic attractions I have already
spoken. To the dweller in towns it is unspeakably delicious to be
lulled to sleep and gently awakened by the musical plash of the weirs,
while a stroll at dusk along the river bank is full of delights. In
the gloaming the ruminating, sweet-breathed kine loom mistily as they
lie sociably grouped under the lee of a protecting hedge. On the river
twinkle through the gathering night the lamps of the house-boats, the
Chinese lanterns, depending from the overhanging roofs, glowing through
their fantastic filaments like great transparent fire-flies. And but
for the rush of the weirs, the dip of a belated oar, and an occasional
ring of laughter from the huge, blackly-outlined boats, the night is
silent.

  /J. Penderel-Brodhurst/.



[Illustration: THE THAMES AT STREATLEY.]


CHAPTER IV.

STREATLEY TO HENLEY.

    Streatley, the Artists' Mecca--Goring versus Streatley--Goring from
    the Toll-gate--Streatley Mill--Weirs and Backwaters--Antiquity
    of Streatley and Goring--Goring Church--Common Wood--Basildon
    Ferry and Hart's Wood--A Thames Osier Farm--Whitchurch
    Lock--Pangbourne--Hardwicke House and Mapledurham--Caversham
    Bridge--Reading and its Abbey--A Divergence to the Kennet, with
    calls at Marlborough, Hungerford, and Newbury--The Charms of
    Sonning--"The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crowned"--St.
    Patrick's Stream--Shiplake Weir--Wargrave and Bolney Court--Park
    Place--Marsh Lock--Remarks on Thames Angling--The Approach to
    Henley.


"The village swarms with geniuses and their æsthetically dressed
wives," was the touching lament written in "Our River" by Mr. Leslie,
R.A., with regard to the Berkshire village of Streatley. The sentence
is, in some senses, both a description of the place as you may see it
at almost any time during the summer season, and an indication of the
reason of its popularity amongst artists. No doubt it is the fashion in
the sketching months for mere idlers at the palette to saunter and pose
up and down the village street, in company with the strangely-dressed
women-kind who some years ago provoked an outburst from a Royal
Academician. But it is also, and has long been, the resort of genuine
workers with the brush, who make Streatley their temporary home
because, in the long white bridge, shady backwaters, lively weir, busy
mills, woods, and hills, they find materials worthy of their ambition
and their care. In the Thames Valley this portion of the river may be
pronounced the Mecca of landscape painters. Streatley, however, is the
fashion, because it is honestly deserving of such a distinction. Unlike
many popular stations, it does not owe repute to one distinguishing
attraction, but to many advantages which, in combination, raise the
village to a high position upon the catalogue of places to be enjoyed,
talked about, sketched in water colours, immortalised in oil, and
haunted by the inoffensive people referred to in the first line of this
chapter.

Streatley receives more assistance from Goring, however, than is
generally acknowledged in set phrase. The Oxfordshire village on the
left bank is, indeed, as by common consent, ignored in conversation,
the word Streatley doing duty for both sides. The two communities are
separated, not only by the river, which, after the straight length
above, widens out into unusual breadth, but by the toll-bridge, which
fixes a coin of the realm as an additional barrier between the few
hundreds of persons who constitute the respective populations of Goring
and Streatley. The villages possess certain characteristics in common.
To each is allotted a mill. That of Goring is the more modern, and
probably best furnished with appliances for contributing to the trade
and commerce of the country, and its rapid little stream is marked
"private" to warn off the ubiquitous angler who may look with longing
eye upon the shoals of barbel which congregate in its deep strong
current. The mill at Streatley is quite another affair--time-stained,
decidedly picturesque in its antique pattern of architecture, and
maintaining to this day a simple half door, suggestive of--

    "The sleepy pool above the dam,
    The pool beneath it never still,
    The mealsacks on the whiten'd floor,
    The dark round of the dripping wheel,
    The very air about the door
    Made misty with the floating meal."

The country behind Goring is stamped with strong characteristics by
the receding hills, which soon develop into the historic Chiltern
range; and at the rear of Streatley we mount, direct from the village,
the grassy sides of the chalk downs of Berkshire, which, geologists
maintain, were once a continuation of the Chilterns. The lock and weir
are on the Goring side, but the distinction is to some extent nominal,
since, standing upon the crown of the long wooden bridge, it will be
seen that there are two weirs and backwaters, imparting a special
animation to the character of the river. The eye wanders with delighted
satisfaction from the merry streams to the reedy eyots, to the grand
trees of the one side and the osiers and green meadows of the other,
while weirs and backwaters play and plash throughout the livelong day.
Above the lock, the Thames, after broadening for the express purpose,
throws an arm each to Goring and Streatley, and the Goring weir, within
the distance of half a mile, is the primary cause of several of those
sequestered backwaters which add so many potent and diverse charms to
the Thames. The stream issuing from the Streatley mill is too near,
for proper effect, to the spectator who stands upon the bridge; and
requires to be looked at from the meadow, to which the tow-path crosses
at the bridge from Berkshire to Oxfordshire. While at Goring there
are many private grounds adorning the bank, with a rich background of
shrubbery, ornamental walks, gay flower-beds, and pleasant residences,
at Streatley we have the inn, the boat-builders' and timber-yard, and
the pretty cottage gardens of the waterside and of the straggling
street extending therefrom up towards the foot of the downs. The
toll-bridge invites excellent acquaintance with the river at close
quarters, that down stream being exceptionally fine; but it is the high
land sheltering either Streatley or Goring which commands rare birdseye
views of the river and adjacent country.

[Illustration: STREATLEY TO HENLEY.]

Streatley is supposed to have derived its name from Icknield Street,
a Roman road continued from the other side by a ford. The cartulary
of the Abbey of Abingdon refers to a gift of land at "Stretlea" by
the King of Wessex who ruled /A.D./ 687. Domesday Book deals
with the manor, whose tithes at the time of the production of Magna
Charta were under the assignment of Herbert Pone, Bishop of Sarum, who
probably built and endowed the church, which has lately been restored,
and whose square tower is always a distinctive object amidst the trees.
The neighbourhood centuries ago obtained a reputation for health-giving
qualities, and one of the memorial brasses in the church, dated 1603,
incidentally bears testimony thereto by recording the virtues of an
inhabitant who had six sons and eleven daughters. More than a hundred
years since a medicinal spring at Goring was somewhat famous for its
powers of healing, and Plot, the historian, mentions the water of
"Spring Well" as celebrated for its curative properties in certain
cutaneous disorders. The church at Goring, close to the river, is a
historically interesting as well as picturesque structure. The grey
square tower, with its round-headed windows divided into two lights
by a central pillar, bespeaks its venerable age, and gives promise of
the specimens of Norman and Early English architecture to be found in
and around the edifice. Built in the reign of Henry II., dedicated to
Thomas à Becket, and enlarged when King John tried to rule the country,
it was connected with an Augustinian nunnery, of which traces still
exist; and the remains of a priory have been built into a farmhouse
some two miles from the village. The body of the church is singularly
composite in its character. To its one lofty original Norman aisle
without chancel, a north aisle, porches, and other appurtenances, have
been at different times added.

A road ascending from Streatley skirts Common Wood, and at its
highest point opens out a magnificent panorama of Thames Valley. The
tow-path, however, as mentioned in a previous paragraph, now runs
along the Oxfordshire bank, and the line of pedestrian traffic is
therefore on that side. The short distance intervening between the
banks lends undoubted enchantment to the shady recesses and warblings
of the feathered songsters of Common Wood. When you have re-crossed
by the wooden bridge towards the southern end of the hilly wood, the
scene changes. Admirably situated at a bend of the stream stands the
substantial, and the reverse of hidden, modern mansion termed the
Grotto, surrounded by a clean-shaven lawn, which is intersected by
gravelled walks, one of which follows the bank of the Thames, and is
o'er-canopied with trees. From the sharp and picturesque curve of the
river the bold round-headed hill of Streatley, the cosy village, the
broad, divided river, and the Norman tower and delightful grounds of
Goring, stand out a clear broad picture, which is almost suddenly lost
round the bend studded by the eyots below the Grotto grounds.

The undulating chalk lands, rich in corn, roots, or pasture, as the
exigencies of crop rotation may require, and dotted here and there by
dark clumps of firs and larches, are absorbed opposite the Berkshire
village of Basildon by Hart's Wood. The trees fringe the Thames
closely, and densely clothe the wooded steeps. At all seasons these
fine hanging plantations are fair to see; but there are special effects
in spring and autumn, the intermixture of larches, at the former
period, giving the wood a glow of dainty colour before other trees
have put forth their leaves, and the abounding beeches, elms, oaks,
and chestnuts, when mellow October comes round, making it equally
conspicuous by the wondrous tints of decay.

The tow-path terminates for the time being abruptly opposite the snug
village of Basildon; this may be gained by enlisting the services
of the ferryman, who dwells in the solitary cottage under a line of
full-headed pollards. The village and even its church are half-hidden
in foliage, and there is an effective background formed by the
plantations of Basildon Park. Passing peeps of the house are vouchsafed
as we descend the river, steering by the Berkshire side of the group of
islets in the middle. The parted stream marks the site of yet another
Hart's Lock (Hart's Old Lock), of which no token remains. The chalk
downs still appear on the Berkshire side, and the ridge that maintained
Hart's Wood swerves in unison with the course of the river, and, well
covered with wide-spreading oaks, shelters Coombe Lodge from the north
and east. The osier beds of the Thames give employment to numbers of
women and children, and maintain a distinct riverside trade. On a
recent visit I was fortunate in witnessing the operations of an osier
farm, thus described in my note-book:--The men, women, and children
clustered on the farther shore, busily engaged in an occupation which
is not at first apparent, come upon you with a surprise as you enter
the next meadow. Out of the river formal growths of tall green sheaves
seem to flourish within a ring fence. There is a rude building, half
shed and half cottage, at the mouth of a gully, and in an open space
between it and the Thames the above-mentioned people are working.
Proceeding down the path the mystery gradually unfolds. We are facing
an osier farm. The tall slender sheaves are bundles of withies that
have been reaped from the islands and osier beds, and punted to this
depôt. Here, in a square enclosure, they are planted _en masse_ in the
water, and the cut branches make the best they can of divorcement from
the parent root, and preserve their vitality until they are required
for use. The girls and boys are very handy at the operation of peeling.
They take up a withy from the bundle last landed from the pound, draw
it rapidly through a couple of pieces of iron fixed to a stand, and in
a twinkling the bright green osier has become a snow-white wand. This
humble colony of workers, about whom little is generally known, is one
of many engaged in an out-of-the-way industry, hidden from the eyes
of the world in some nook of the Thames. It is the first which meets
our observation on the journey from Oxford. But even this simple form
of industry has challenged the attention of the scientific. At the
Inventions Exhibition of 1885 at South Kensington, an apparatus for
willow-peeling was shown amongst the labour-saving machines.

[Illustration: GORING, FROM THE TOLL-GATE.]

Whitchurch Lock, two miles and a half below Basildon Ferry, is the
halting-place for Pangbourne, the twin villages of Whitchurch and
Pangbourne occupying similar positions, and enjoying the same type
of communication as Goring and Streatley. St. Mary's Church, before
its restoration, must have been a remarkably quaint building, and its
singular wooden steeple attracts a considerable amount of attention
even now. Amongst the curiosities in the interior, besides the memorial
windows of stained-glass, is a monument to a sixteenth-century lord
of the manor of Hardwicke, and his dame, represented kneeling
at a _prie-dieu_; and a tablet with the following very original
inscription:--

    "To Richard Lybbe, of Hardwick, Esq., and Anne Blagrave united
    in sacred wedlock 50 years are here againe made one by death she
    yielded to yt change Ian. 17, 1651, which he embracied Ivly 14,
    1658.

                      /Epitaph./

    "He, whose Renowne, for what completeth Man,
    Speaks lowder, better things, then Marble can:
    She, whose Religious Deeds makes Hardwick's Fame,
    Breathe as the Balme of Lybbe's Immortall Name,
    Are once more Ioyned within this Peacefull Bed;
    Where Honour (not Arabian-Gummes) is spred,
    Then grudge not (Friends) who next succeed 'em must
    Y'are Happy, that shall mingle with such Dust."

The resemblance of the twin villages of Pangbourne and Whitchurch
to the dual communities with whose concerns this chapter opened is
sustained in several features. The reach immediately above Pangbourne,
which is one of the very lovely stations of the Thames, is straight
and uninteresting. The cut on the Whitchurch shore makes an abrupt
curve to the lock, and the breadth of the river above the wooden
toll-bridge, own cousin to that at Streatley, and the two islands
side by side near the lock, produce a vivacious backwater, and a fine
weir-pool, twenty-five feet deep, abounding in holes, eddies, and
scours intimately known to London anglers, to whom Pangbourne is as
much the object of worship as Streatley is the haven of desire to the
artists. The wooden bridge, as at the last-named station, is the best
coign of vantage from which to obtain adequate views of the three
distinct streams, which gallop in joyous ebullitions of foam from the
obstructions planted in the channel. A goodly current rushes from the
very new-looking mill on the Whitchurch shore. The lower part of the
church is concealed by trees, but clear above the rooks' nests in the
swaying tops may ever be seen the wooden spire. The turbulent pool
at Pangbourne weir may best be studied from the timber-yard on the
Berkshire side, and there is a subsidiary weir which assists the larger
body to create a homely and miniature delta before the scattered forces
are collected in one uninterrupted volume of water at the bridge. The
scenery at Pangbourne is not less charming than that of Streatley,
and it is in both places of a character peculiar to the hilly country
through which the Thames now flows. A wide-spreading prospect of
the valley may be obtained from Shooter's Hill. Both Whitchurch and
Pangbourne lay claim to a past history of some importance, but the
old church, save the red-brick tower, which only dates from 1718, was
replaced in 1865 by the present building; and this contains, amongst
certain architectural qualities, an oaken pulpit, probably of the time
of Elizabeth, carved in arabesques. The Pang bourne, which gives a name
to the village, is a pretty trout stream joining the brimming river,
straight from the village, at the tail of the noisy weir, and coursing
with its overflow down the gravelly shallow.

The undulating chalk hills, prolific of agreeable changes in the
scenery, continue without cessation for many miles below Pangbourne,
but on the opposite side we have once more the flat meadows, neat
farms, and humble cottages of agricultural Berkshire. The Thames, which
had arrived at Pangbourne by a south-easterly course, moves for a short
distance from west to east along a straight and deep-running reach. The
recurring woods on the left are a welcome foil to the level land on the
right, and the distant landscapes are now very striking.

[Illustration: WHITCHURCH CHURCH AND MILL.]

Under the hill on the Oxfordshire side, about a mile and a half
below Pangbourne, Hardwicke House, a notable specimen of the Tudor
manor-house, is a conspicuous feature. From the meadow on the opposite
shore you have a perfect view of this most picturesque exterior. The
colour of the brickwork has deepened, in the course of time, to the
darkest of red; and its gables and clustering chimneys are clearly
defined against the screen of noble elms which intervene between the
house and the north wind, and cover the slopes behind it. The trim
terrace is raised safely above the river; old yew, cedar, oak, and
elm-trees cast long shadows upon the mossy turf, and indicate alleys
and bowers such as those in which Charles I. spent some of the time
passed by him at Hardwicke, "amusing himself with bowls" and other
sports. Numbers of the trees upon the lawn, and some of the cool, quiet
nooks of its shrubberies, are, no doubt, precisely what they were two
hundred years ago.

[Illustration: MAPLEDURHAM: THE CHURCH AND THE MILL.]

Hardwicke House is, however, but an item in the catalogue of strong
and varying attractions of the section of the Thames which began with
Streatley, and which may be said to end at Mapledurham, something less
than a mile farther down. Many lovers of the River Thames declare
that, take it all in all, there is no sweeter spot from source to
sea than this. In 1883 the hand of renovation was laid upon one of
the overfalls, introducing of necessity an element of change; but
the lock, weir, and lasher, the great bay of swirling water by them
formed when there is no scarcity of supply, the backwaters, brook, and
shallows have not been interfered with. As of yore, the whispering
trees overhang the swift current, the lazy lilies wave in the tranquil
backwater, and the rare old mill, first, perhaps, of its class upon
the river, remains, like the face of a familiar friend, to greet the
visitor, who, with each returning season, will assuredly, on the moment
of arrival, bestow his earliest attention upon it. Mapledurham has,
indeed, an almost unrivalled collection of good things to offer in the
grounds of Purley on the west and those of the Elizabethan mansion on
the east. Mapledurham House, largely concealed behind the foliage,
is not at first so visible to the passer-by as Hardwicke; but it is
too celebrated as a genuine example of Elizabethan architecture, and
too well worthy of deliberate examination, to be neglected. The house
was built in 1581 by Sir Michael Blount, who was Lieutenant of the
Tower of London, and in the Blount family it has ever since remained.
The name is a corruption of Mapulder-ham, and mapulder was the old
English designation of the maple-tree. The glorious avenue of nearly
a mile in length by which the front of the house is reached is,
however, of handsome elms, but around the mansion are grouped poplars,
oaks, beeches, and firs in picturesque profusion. From the right
bank below the lock the gables, bays, oriels, roofs, and decorated
chimneys, amidst such surroundings, constitute a striking picture. In
the house are secret rooms and passages, supposed to have been used
in the time of the Civil War by the Royalists for the concealment
of priests or soldiers. By-and-by, in resuming your voyage down the
river, Mapledurham House becomes the central object of another type of
picture, composed of the delightful old mill, the curious church tower,
the symmetrical trees, and the bright streams gathering from between
the islands, and fresh from the mill race, and so continuing the
sober volume of the Thames by Purley, and parallel with the railway.
Mapledurham Church is near the manor-house, from whose grounds access
is obtained to the churchyard by a pair of huge old-fashioned iron
gates. It is a restored church, the south aisle of which is claimed
by the Blount family as a private mortuary chapel. Purley is a small
rustic Berkshire village, standing back half a mile from the river. The
church, however, is nearer, and the ancient tower bears a scutcheon
with the arms of the Bolingbroke family, and dated 1626.

A horse-ferry below Mapledurham conveys the pedestrian to the Oxford
side, where, for less than half a mile, the tow-path continues. The
ferryman is not always to be found, and the pedestrian, stopped by the
iron railing, had better follow the footpath skirting the beautiful
park at Purley. Backward glimpses may thus be indulged in of the mill,
church, and manor-house, with a breadth of fertile meadow intervening;
and, walking up the steep road towards Belleisle House, the temporary
desertion of the river will be amply repaid by the extensive general
view of the Thames Valley which has just been traversed. Purley
Hall, built by South-Sea-Bubble Law, was the residence of Warren
Hastings during his trial. For the boating-man, the river makes no
exceptional demand upon his strength or imagination for several miles.
The divergence by land, as above suggested, brings you presently to
the "Roebuck," where a second ferry within the half mile assigns
the tow-path once again to the Berkshire shore. The old-fashioned
boating-tavern has not been demolished, but perched upon the hill above
the Caversham Reach a more modern hotel tempts the oarsman to pause
and refresh, and the holiday-maker to look out upon the remarkable map
of river and landscape for which the situation is celebrated. The
thatched roof, ancient kitchen, and tap of the original wayside inn are
left standing--an eloquent contrast by the side of its successor.

The Thames between Purley and the eelbucks at Chasey Farm is studded
with a variety of islands. They are at their best but small and tiny,
bearing a few trees, or a crop of osiers, or amounting to nothing more
important than a bed of rushes. Insignificant, however, though they
may be, they preserve the character of the river, breaking as they
do the monotony of the current, which, in the more level tract now
watered by the Thames, shows an increasing tendency to the commonplace.
The conclusion will be irresistibly forced upon us that we have at
length, with reluctance, parted from the beautiful section which
includes Streatley and Goring, Pangbourne and Whitchurch, Hardwicke and
Mapledurham--scenic pearls of price lying within a convenient range of
not more than seven miles.

Notice-boards upon a willowy eyot, and a fence athwart the stream,
forbidding the passage of boats round the considerable backwater to the
left, introduce us to a permanent line of eelbucks. Soon the bridge and
church of Caversham appear afar; and, dimly, to the right, the chimneys
and roofs of Reading. The Thames is again bordered on the north by
hills, a continuation of the range which began at Hart's Wood. From
Mapledurham Lock, however, the river, instead of running parallel with
the hills, made a detour, and ran side by side with the railway, until,
at the Chasey Farm eelbucks, it turned north again to meet them. "There
is not," wrote Mary Mitford in her "Recollections of a Literary Life,"
"such another flower-bank in Oxfordshire as Caversham Warren," and this
reference is to the breadth of country extending from the sedge-lined
river to the tree-crowned chalk hills which have terminated their
guardianship of the northern banks of the Thames. From the brow of
the hills, upon which modern residences have of late years multiplied
exceedingly, there are widespread prospects through which the silver
Thames pursues the even tenor of its way, more beautiful from the
distant standpoint than, for some miles above Caversham Bridge, it is
when near at hand.

The bridge at Caversham is one of the plainest on the Thames, and this
suburb of the county town is not in any way remarkable for its romantic
adornments. The bridge was nevertheless of sufficient importance to
draw from "Cawsam Hill" (the rustics to this day so pronounce the word
Caversham) a furious onslaught from the troops of General Ruven and
Prince Rupert, who "fell upon a loose regiment that lay there to keepe
the bridge, and gave them a furious assault both with their ordnance
and men--one bullet being taken up by our men which weighed twenty-four
pounds at the least." Sir Samuel Luke's diary, in which this scrap of
history is preserved, goes on to state that the "loose regiment" made
the hill "soe hott for them that they were forced to retreat, leaving
behind seven bodyes of as personable men as ever were seene." And,
according to Leland, there stood in the time of Henry VIII., at the
north end of Caversham Bridge, "a fair old chapel of stone, on the
right hand, piled in the foundation because of the rage of the Thames."
In consequence of the danger in which the meadows stood of floods, in
the old pre-drainage days, when the river often played pranks unknown
to modern times, the bridge was constructed of stone in its most
critical part, but extended partly in wood by a number of arches over
the pasturage. Before the days of the Cavaliers, as far back, indeed,
as 1163, Caversham Bridge was the scene of a trial by battle, adjudged
by His Majesty Henry II. Henry of Essex, the King's Standard-bearer,
had charged Robert de Montford with cowardice and treachery. At a fight
in Wales the Standard-bearer had thrown down his flag and fled, and
his plea was that he believed at the time that the king was killed.
The trial by sword is said to have been performed upon one of the
islands near the bridge, with almost fatal results to the challenger,
for though he recovered from what were at first supposed to be mortal
wounds, he was obliged to retire to the abbey, where he exchanged the
accoutrements of the soldier for the habit of a monk.

The Thames leaves Reading to the right, but according to some
topographers the town derived its name from the Saxon "Rheadyne"
("rhea," a river), or from the British word redin (a fern), the plant,
as stated by Leland, growing thereabouts in great plenty. Hall,
however, makes light of these derivations, urging that the name simply
meant that Reading was the seat and property of the Rædingas family.
The Thames approaches close to the town below the pretty island, of
about four acres in extent, which monopolises more than half the river,
midway between Caversham Bridge and Lock; and is to the traveller
by rail from London one of the earliest indications--with its line
of willows on the farther bank, and the playing-fields intervening
on the southern side--that the town is at hand. The facilities
inherited by the inhabitants for bathing, boating, and angling are a
boon appreciated to the full, and the Thames materially contributes
to the reputation enjoyed by Reading as one of the most desirable
country towns of England. The principal branch of the river below the
swimming-baths sweeps to the left, but the navigable channel runs
through the lock south of the small island. The divisions by islets and
curvature of the course between the lock and Lower Caversham make the
Thames a beautiful feature of the locality.

Full of historical memories (it is supposed that the Danes brought
their war-ships up the Thames to the mouth of the Kennet), Reading is
proudest, perhaps, of the abbey, of which so many interesting portions
are well preserved in connection with the Forbury, the name given to
the pleasure-grounds for the people, most creditably maintained by
public subscription. There were four noted abbeys in the south of
England--Glastonbury, Abingdon, St. Albans, and Reading, and Reading
was not the least important. The wife of King Edgar founded the
establishment as a nunnery, and Henry I. pulled it down to make room
for two hundred Benedictine monks. It was given out that the hand of
St. James the Apostle was deposited in the abbey, and the so-called
relic "drew" a perennial inflow of support. Royal bones were laid in
the abbey. Henry himself expressed a wish to be buried within its
walls, and his body, accordingly, having been rudely embalmed at Rouen,
was wrapped in bull-hides, and conveyed to Reading for ceremonial
interment. At the Dissolution the royal tomb was destroyed and the
king's bones ejected, with other _débris_, to make room for a stable.
But the abbey during its existence was a power in the land. In it John
of Gaunt married his Plantagenet wife, and there the marriage of Henry
IV. to Lady Grey was proclaimed. The abbots of Reading were peers of
Parliament, ranking only below their brethren of Glastonbury and St.
Albans. They had the right of coinage; they gave to the abbey much
wealth; and amongst the relics was one sent to Cromwell, and described
by the commissioner who was sent down to inquire into the revenues as
"the principell relik of idolytrie within thys realme, an aungell with
oon wyng that brought to Caversham the spere hedde that percyd our
Saviour is syde upon the crosse." The last abbot of Reading, defying
the bulky Defender of the Faith, was hanged, drawn, and quartered,
with a couple of monks, within sight of his own abbey gateway. What
of the building was left after the energetic measures of bluff King
Hal, was finally razed by Commonwealth victors. Portions, however,
of the ancient chapel and chapterhouse are left, and the old gateway
stands, patched up with modern materials, in excellent preservation on
the south side of the Forbury. It is understood that the abbey stones
have been worked up into some of the public buildings of the town, and
some of them were undoubtedly carted right and left, far and near, for
miscellaneous use. The most interesting fragment is a Norman archway
belonging to the abbey mill, and still spanning the mill race known as
Holy Brook.

[Illustration: FLOODED MEADOWS, FROM CAVERSHAM BRIDGE.]

When the Plague raged in London, king, statesmen, and judges, with
their courts, removed to Reading. Later, the royal troops held
temporary possession of the town, and, after a ten days' siege by
the Roundheads, the garrison displayed a flag of truce. Charles, and
the looting Rupert, operating from Caversham Hill, tried in vain to
retrieve the disaster, and when they were driven back, the garrison
surrendered. In the reign of James II. the royal troops and those
of the Prince of Orange, had a tussle in Reading market-place, one
December Sunday morning, James's men, after a brief engagement,
promptly leaving the enemy masters of the position. Archbishop Laud
was a native of Reading; and John Bunyan, as related by Southey, was
a frequent visitor to the town:--"The house in which the Anabaptists
met for worship was in a lane then, and from the back door they had a
bridge over the River Kennet, whereby, in case of alarm, they might
escape. In a visit to that place Bunyan contracted the disease which
brought him to the grave." Valpy was head-master of Reading Grammar
School; and Judge Talfourd was one of the later worthies of the clean,
thriving, Berkshire capital.

The River Kennet, referred to in the previous paragraph, runs through
Reading. The great abbey was built upon it, yet within view of the
broader Thames flowing through the level meads northwards. The Hallowed
or Holy Brook, in which the Reading schoolboy of to-day angles for
roach and dace, was a timely tributary turned to ecclesiastical uses,
and employed to grind corn for the Benedictines, and minister generally
to the refectory. The Kennet is, with the Loddon in the same general
portion of the home counties, one of the most considerable tributaries
in the great watershed of the Thames. Drayton, as usual, fastening upon
some quality that accurately describes the character of his stream,
says:--

    "At Reading once arrived, clear Kennet overtakes
    Her lord, the stately Thames; which that great flood again,
    With many signes of joy, doth kindly entertain.
    The Loddon next comes in, contributing her store,
    As still we see, the much runs ever to the more."

[Illustration: THE THAMES AT READING, FROM THE OLD CLAPPERS.]

The clear Kennet is, moreover, in other respects an exceedingly
interesting river, and a stream, too, of some practical importance.
It rises on the edge of the Wiltshire Downs, and for three or four
miles runs in modest volume until it passes through the old town
of Marlborough, a steady-going Wiltshire borough, deriving its life
not from manufacture, mining, pump-room, or esplanade, but from the
land, as represented by the cattle, corn, malt, cheese, and woollen
fabrics which are the subjects of barter and exchange at its periodical
markets. In the palmiest days of coaching, four-and-thirty four-horse
coaches used to stop at Marlborough on their journey between Bristol
and London, the high road at that time running through what is now
the centre avenue of the College grounds. The Vale of Kennet is here
bounded by the Wiltshire Downs on the east, and Savernake Forest on the
west. The forest is about a couple of miles from the town, and is the
stateliest forest in the kingdom belonging to a private proprietor.
It is sixteen miles in circumference, finely timbered, and possessing
that too-often-lacking essential of a forest, harmonious alternation
of hill and dale. There is a glorious avenue of beech-trees five miles
long; and in the spring season the hawthorn-trees, of immense age, with
heads that often compete in size and shape with the ordinary forest
trees, and each standing bravely by itself, are a marvel of fragrant
bloom. Amongst the groves of oak, beech, and chestnut, and undergrowth
of bracken, fern, bush, and briar, there are hundreds of fallow deer;
and a considerable head of red deer is still successfully maintained.
The Kennet ornaments the Park of Ramsbury Manor, and touches Littlecote
Park, a tragic reminiscence of which is given in the notes to Sir
Walter Scott's poem of Rokeby.

So far, the Kennet has watered Wiltshire; but soon after leaving
Chilton Lodge it enters Berkshire, meandering through a tract of marsh,
and, dividing into two streams, runs through the decayed but once
considerable town of Hungerford. Pope signalised the river in the line--

    "The Kennet, swift, for silver eels renowned;"

and the successful attempt recently made by the Flyfishers' Club
of Hungerford to introduce grayling into it reminds one of the
super-excellent quality of the fish indigenous to its waters. The
Kennet and Avon navigation makes the connection of this portion
of Berkshire with the River Thames direct and valuable. The canal
navigation, forming a waterway between the Thames and the West of
England, is for the first nineteen miles, namely, from Reading to
Newbury, the River Kennet itself; from Newbury to Bath, the canal
proper is cut for a distance of fifty-six miles; and the Avon river
completes the communication to Bristol. The numerous locks in the
Vale of Kennet are connected with this system of navigation, which is
practically associated with the concerns of the Great Western Railway.
Hungerford, the town which has been here noticed as standing upon the
Kennet, was described by Evelyn as a "town famous for its troutes,"
and it has well preserved its reputation. Amongst the inns of the town
is one named after John o' Gaunt, who was a person of note in both
Hampshire and Berkshire. His association with Reading has been already
signified in the reference to the burials and funerals which took place
in the abbey; and in Hungerford is a horn, highly honoured as a gift
of John o' Gaunt to the town, and as a memento of the right of fishing
enjoyed by the commoners, who still maintain the custom of fishing the
Kennet three days per week. At Hungerford, in 1688, the negotiations
which ended in the substitution of James II. by William of Orange were
conducted.

The Vale of Kennet, from the Hungerford meadows to within a few miles
of Reading, is a compact stretch of rural loveliness. We hear of the
Vale of Avoca, the Vale of Llangollen, and the Vale of Health, but we
do not find the valley through which the Kennet flows magnified in
song, though of the smiling and peaceful order of valley landscape
it has few competitors in England. Its green pastures lie by still
waters, and its little hills seem to drop fatness. Between Reading and
Marlborough the eye may, right or left, almost at any moment, rest upon
limpid and often rippling water. Narrowed here to the dimensions and
restless volume of a goodly lowland trout stream, it there journeys
at an even pace, betraying anger and vexation only when subject to
artificial restraint; as, for example, when it boils and swirls at a
mill-tail, or races impetuously round into the repose of a backwater.
The Kennet and Avon Canal is mixed up rather bewilderingly, to a
run-and-read stranger, with the river. Pleasant brooks and brooklets
thread the water-meads, garnished with forget-me-nots and cuckoo-pints;
while in the moist hollows the marsh marigold blossoms in golden
clusters. Ancient roofs of thatch-covered tenements, built in another
generation, appear now and then; and long-established farmhouses and
beautiful mansions vary the prospect on either side of the valley in
whose typical English country scenery there is no break of continuity.

At the town of Newbury the Kennet becomes navigable, and so continues
throughout the remainder of its course, which is concluded a little
below the town of Reading, at the point where the Thames dips to the
south as if to meet it, and almost touches the Great Western Railway
line. Newbury is a very old town, as the description in Foxe's "Book
of Martyrs," of the burning of Palmer, Askew, and Gwyn, in the middle
of the sixteenth century, will show. In the fifteenth century Newbury
was famous for its cloth weaving, and "Jack of Newbury," who may
almost be said to be the patron saint of the town, was a wealthy cloth
manufacturer. He kept a hundred looms at work, and on the invasion
of the country by the Scots marched the entire force into the field,
and received much compliment upon their martial bearing and superior
garments. The two battles between Charles I. and his masterful
parliamentarians are historical, and the canal near Newbury Lock passes
the ground where the Roundheads camped prior to the first battle of
Newbury. In the corn-fields and grass-lands of the rural outskirts of
the town, occasional traces are unearthed of a battle in which six
thousand men were killed, and a suitable monument, raised by public
subscription, stands to commemorate where--

                                    "On this field
    Did Falkland fall, the blameless and the brave,"

and to record that Lord Carnarvon, Lord Sutherland, and other Cavaliers
also, perished in the unfortunate cause of their unfortunate king.

[Illustration: SONNING-ON-THAMES.]

The Thames from Reading to Sonning calls for no marked comment, and I
must confess to a habit, when in these parts, of leaving the waterside
at Caversham Bridge and travelling to Sonning along the high road that
passes Lower Caversham, by farmhouses, corn-fields, and pastures, and
one of the osier farms described on a previous page. A road at right
angles conducts to the "French Horn" Inn, and to the bridges here
spanning the Thames. Arriving at Sonning by river, however, you glide
underneath the woods of Holme Park, and so take into calculation the
church and village from a point of view highly favourable to their
scenic pretensions. No visitor can do justice to the exquisite beauties
of this village without leaving the water and exploring the bridges,
islands, and waterways which are so lavishly distributed between the
widened banks. On the "French Horn" shore, the left branch sweeps
round and streams abroad in a skittish shallow under a lightly-built
bridge. At first it is difficult to decide whether this is a backwater
or the main stream. Looking upwards, you notice that another channel
yonder follows a row of pollards and orchard-trees on the "White Hart"
side. There are separate streams, apparently, on either side of the
bridge; and a shoulder-of-mutton-shaped eyot and other islets create
a rapid current in another direction, overhung by a perpendicular
bank. This is topographically confusing, but most agreeable in its
endless motion and diversity. There are two divisions of the bridge;
and beyond the first an independent backwater gallops down from the
mill, past which, and its chestnut-trees, is the brick county bridge.
The houses of the village, clad with creepers, and often embowered in
fruit-trees, and the square tower of the church, as represented in the
engraving, constitute one of the most familiar pictures of the Thames.
A charming walk, immediately above and below the lock--locally termed
the Thames Parade--extends along the skirts of the woods of Holme
Park, the projecting boughs of which o'er-canopy the towing-path, and
are reflected in the water. The eyot is connected with the shores by
the lock and weir, duly illustrated on another page from a favourite
point of view. One of the choicest views at Sonning may be obtained by
standing on the Parade, say a hundred yards above the lock, and peeping
under the boughs of the trees towards Reading, which sometimes looks
almost romantic in the dreamy obscurity of an enveloping haze.

[Illustration: SONNING WEIR.]

Sonning, or Sunning, was not, in all probability, as some maintain, the
seat of a bishopric, though it was a standing residence of the Bishops
of Salisbury, who had a palace here through successive generations.
Even in Leland's time it was "a fair olde house of stone, even by the
Tamise ripe, longying to the Bishop of Saresbyri; and thereby a fair
parke." The church, without which the charming landscape would lose
one of its most harmonious features, contains curious monuments, a
celebrated peal of bells, and rich carved work. It is peculiarly rich
in memorial brasses, many full-length figures of the Barker family
dating from the middle of the sixteenth century. Very different is
the view down the river, when the back of the observer is turned upon
the graceful trees drooping into the water, the masses of chestnuts
and elms interspersed between the houses, and the divided stream and
osier-bedded islets. The sinuous course is for a couple of miles
between low banks; while in the somewhat distant background appear the
towering woods, with which we shall become by-and-by more intimately
acquainted. On the lower side of the bridge the river at once collects
its scattered forces, and proceeds stately and slow until a chain of
islets diversifies the course, and, with the assistance of sundry sharp
twists in the left bank, gives increasing strength to the current,
and braces itself for the press of business demanded by the mill and
lock at Shiplake. The Rev. Jas. Grainger, author of the "Biographical
History of England," was Vicar of Shiplake, and, in his dedication to
Horace Walpole, remarks that he had the good fortune to retire early
to "independence, obscurity, and content." The rev. gentleman, who
considered Shiplake as synonymous with obscurity, died at the altar
of his church while performing divine service, and is buried within
its walls; and the tablet which marks his grave refers, as does the
dedication, to the obscurity which at Shiplake accompanied the content.
The church stands upon a very charming slope. The southern face of the
tower is mantled over with ivy, and the sacred edifice does not lose
in dignity by the near neighbourhood of farm buildings, rickyards, and
orchards. From the porch there is a fine view of the valley of the
river. The church, in which Lord Tennyson was married, was restored in
quite recent times, but the stained-glass windows are so ancient that
they are supposed to have been originally in the Abbey of St. Bertin at
St. Omer.

The singular vagaries of the mouth of the Loddon introduce an
unexpected variety above Shiplake. It was this tributary, mentioned
after the Kennet by Drayton, in the lines previously quoted, which gave
Pope a hint for his fable of Lodona, and he stamps the character of the
Loddon in the line--

    "The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crowned."

The Loddon is, nevertheless, scarcely a river on its own merits to
inspire a poem, though it is in an especial degree the kind of stream
which has attracted the consideration of pastoral poets. Almost any
portion of the country watered by the sluggish Loddon might have
yielded just such scenes as Gray describes in his immortal Elegy.
The river rises in the North Hampshire downs, and flows by the site
of that Basing house which is famous in the annals of Cromwellian
warfare. Fuller, the church historian, resided in the mansion during
the siege, and amidst the confusion of the battle is reported to have
composed some portion of his "Worthies of England." Fragmentary ruins
of the house are yet shown. Every visitor must bear witness to the
debt owed by Strathfieldsaye Park to the Loddon, which divides it
into two unequal parts. The quantity and quality of the water gave
the late Duke of Wellington an opportunity, of which he perseveringly
availed himself, of indulging privately in the pursuit of trout
breeding, a project which was abandoned soon after his death. The
Loddon in Berkshire passes by Swallowfield, where in his son's house
Lord Clarendon wrote his "History of the Rebellion." Two centuries
earlier than that the manor was the property of John, Duke of Bedford,
Regent of France; and it has been in later times of more immediate
interest to the admirers of Mary Russell Mitford, as being her home
and burial-place. Her ever-delightful book, "Our Village," is composed
of rural word photographs, taken when the lady lived at Three Mile
Cross, and all the scenes are faithful pictures of Loddon-side life.
On returning from a recent visit to the Loddon, an old friend of Miss
Mitford's, in Reading, gave me, as a memento of the authoress whom we
both admired, a note in her handwriting, and after it had been some
time in my possession I discovered that the small envelope in which
it was enclosed was one which had been previously sent to, and turned
by, the industrious old lady. The operation had been performed with
wonderful neatness, and it was only by accident that I discovered
inside, and in faded ink, the original address, to "Miss Mitford, Three
Mile Cross, Reading, Berks." Arborfield succeeds Swallowfield, and the
river here feeds the picturesque lake in Mr. Walter's park at Bearwood.
The Loddon next touches Hurst, and flows in its lazy way to Twyford,
so called from the two fords, which are represented in these days by
bridges, crossing the two arms of the river. After a north-eastern
course of some twenty-four miles, the Loddon here runs into the Thames.
It should perhaps be stated, with reference to Pope's fable of Lodona,
that it was not connected with the Loddon proper, but with one of
the inconsiderable tributaries of a tributary that ripple through
part of Windsor Forest. The poet was, nevertheless, quite accurate
in his description of the Loddon as "slow," and "with verdant alders
crowned." It is an altogether different river from the Kennet, which is
bright, and abounding in gravelly shallows, after the fashion of the
Hampshire chalk streams, and is a famous trout river. The Loddon, on
the contrary, is deep, dark, sluggish, almost troutless, and thickly
furnished with the alder, of which it has been written--

    "The alder whose fat shadow nourisheth,
    Each plant set near to him long flourisheth."

This attribute is only a poetical fancy, but the alder is essentially
a tree whose roots are at home when planted by the river, and which is
always contributing some evidence of its vigour--in the winter with
its catkins hung out to freeze, in the spring with its queer little
black cones, and in the summer and autumn by the glossy green leaves
which are merciful to the defects of shape in its branches, and which
sturdily hold on when the leaves of other trees have been snatched and
scattered.

The water of the Thames flows into the Loddon through the private
backwater known as St. Patrick's Stream, but the Loddon finally
joins the Thames below Shiplake Lock, after indirectly opening into
it by means of the mouths of St. Patrick's Stream. There is also,
intersecting Burrow Marsh, a backwater, irreverently termed Burrow
Ditch, and this joins with St. Patrick's Stream in swelling the volume
of the Loddon. It should perhaps be explained that although under its
normal conditions the Thames, through both branches, runs into the
Loddon, in times of flood the position is reversed, and the Loddon
pours its current into the Thames.

Shiplake has more than the ordinary share of backwaters and
bye-streams, and on this account is a favourite resort of anglers.
Independently of the virtually three outlets by which the waters of
the Loddon escape, there are Phillimore Island and Shiplake Mill to be
considered. By following the course of the loop formed by St. Patrick's
Stream, the lock may be avoided; but the stream is a very strong one.
Half-way round the bend the comfortable farmhouse of Burrow Marsh will
be noticed, and the upper portion of the backwater is generally so
choked with rushes as to be almost imperceptible. The weather-board
mill and the weir are prettily set, and the islets abounding above
the lock are links in a chain of choice Thames scenery. Near Shiplake
Lock, as the illustration to that effect will signify, stands an island
which is a favourite camping-out spot for boating-men who do not fear
the risk of rheumatism, and who prefer a night on shore under canvas
to the cramped and unsatisfactory repose attempted by those who decide
to spend the night in their boats. For miles downwards from this point
the Thames winds through scenery in which hill and woodland again take
their welcome place. The views on water and from land may change in
degree, but the general character is ever that of quiet beauty. The
commanding situations upon the elevated ground overlooking the valley
have long been built upon, and, on brow, slope, or level, mansions of
varying styles succeed each other. Phillimore Island takes its name
from the late learned owner of Shiplake House opposite. It is a dainty
little bit of dry land in the midst of the water, covered with willows,
poplars, aspens, and one or two chestnuts. Down stream Wargrave Hill
with its imposing white house finishes the view for the time being.

It was at the "George and Dragon" hostelry, at Wargrave, about a
quarter of a mile below Shiplake Weir, that Mr. Leslie and Mr. Hodgson,
R.A., entered into a temporary partnership in the production of a
humorous signboard. Wargrave was once a market-town, but it is now,
happily for those who seek its quietude, a mere village far removed
from the noise of the world. Sequestered backwaters between and at the
rear of the islands, suggest a change for the visitor who is tired
of the shaven lawns, pretty villas, and park-like grounds behind
the public ferry and the sleepy village. The railway runs the other
side of the river, crossing it below Shiplake Lock, and so passing
by Bolney Court to Henley. A high road to the latter place runs past
the "George and Dragon," and, under the towering woods, are the eyots
opposite Bolney Court; while on the other side of the space, known as
Wargrave Marsh, the Hennerton backwater, or Wargrave Stream, extends
for over a mile, and is crossed by two modest foot-bridges. This
backwater is well known for its aquatic offerings, and the artist has
appropriately "happened" upon it at a characteristic moment, when a
bevy of fair boaters have discovered that the lilies are in flower,
and have ventured up to gather the æsthetic blossoms. In the secluded
village of Ruscombe, between Shiplake and Wargrave, Penn, the founder
of Pennsylvania, died, and was buried; and the notable objects of the
neighbourhood may be concluded by mention of the monument, in Wargrave
Church, to the memory of Thomas Day, who wrote "Sandford and Merton,"
and was thrown from his horse and killed on Bear Hill close by. The
heights, of which there are no lack in the neighbourhood, give many
picturesque and wide-spreading views of the river and the surrounding
country. The islands in the Thames opposite the remarkably plain
mansion of Bolney Court are a truly beautiful group, even if they have
escaped the popularity accorded to less charming reaches of the river.
Up stream a fine pine wood will be noticed; Hennerton House, to the
right, stands on a lofty steep, embowered in trees; and below are the
dark woods and white cliffs of Park Place.

[Illustration: SHIPLAKE: A CAMPING-OUT PARTY.]

Park Place now absorbs all the notice of the downward traveller. For
miles above, the wooded heights have been visible, increasing in
beauty as we approached nearer and nearer. They will now be close on
the right hand, until progress is temporarily checked at Marsh Lock.
The mansion was built originally by one of the Dukes of Hamilton. The
father of George III., when Prince of Wales, lived there; and George
IV., before he came to the throne, and the first Earl of Malmesbury,
there abode. The marvellous beauty of the situation, and the splendid
success attending the efforts of those owners who understood how to
compel Art to assist, by judiciously developing, Nature, have made Park
Place what it is. The principal agent in this latter work was Marshal
Conway, who, nevertheless, in many respects, carried his notions of
improvement to excess. Towards the end of the last century much had
been done to endow it with the attractions which made it so desirable
a residence; but the Marshal, devoting all his time to additional
embellishment, ran no little danger of pushing from the sublime to the
ridiculous. The inhabitants of Jersey, to mark their appreciation of
his governorship of the island, presented him on his departure with
a Druid's Temple or Tomb, which had been found by workmen during his
reign on the summit of a hill near St. Heliers. The relics were brought
to Park Place and set up on the summit of one of the lesser eminences.
Forty-five stones, averaging seven feet in height, four in breadth,
and from one to three feet in thickness, were arranged in a circle
sixty-five feet in circumference, and in the exact positions, so far as
could be understood, which they occupied in the dim era of antiquity.
The Marshal built also an artificial Roman amphitheatre, approached by
a long underground passage leading to a valley planted with cypress;
constructed a bridge from materials carted over from the remains of
Reading Abbey; overhung a walk, at the end of which was a marble tomb,
with weeping willows; and elsewhere excavated a cavern, and left
other tokens of his eccentric restlessness. The mansion was rebuilt
by its present owner, Mr. Noble, in the French-Italian style; but its
principal merit is the incomparable situation (300 feet above the level
of the Thames), and surroundings of nine hundred acres of superbly
wooded hill and dale, velvet lawns and romantic glades, mossy dells and
tangled thickets. The domain is entered by seven lodges, and east of
the house a cedar is pointed out as having been planted by George III.

The latest considerable, and not least sensible, addition to Park Place
is the Gothic boat-house, at which visitors, who have the privilege of
roaming over the grounds, are permitted to land. The really handsome
exterior is not belied by the artistic furnishment within, comprising
pictures, carvings, and statues. The walk through the grounds, with its
surprises of mimic ruins and suggestive emblems, its sylvan glories
which owe nothing to the hand of man, and the fairy-like glimpses which
owe everything to the bountiful river, is a treat, indeed, of which
one never tires, and which every sojourner in these parts should, in
duty bound, make his own. From the bosom of the river the white gleams
of chalky cliff contrast admirably with the masses of foliage. The
residence at Park Place shows well from the second or third meadow
below Marsh Lock; but the fields on the Henley side are being converted
into brick-yards, and the first view of the town is marred by the
coal-sheds, sidings, and ugly little railway station, to which the
adjacent block of terrace-buildings cannot be accepted as in any degree
a set-off.

The fine old weir which, until recent years, furnished an everlasting
object-lesson to young artists at Marsh Lock, has been superseded by
a modern arrangement erected near the paper-mill, and worked by a
travelling pulley; but on the right bank the brick-mill, house, and
exquisitely kept river frontage of its gardens, improve by time, and
worthily complete the charms of Park Place; and, zig-zagging across the
broad Thames, there remains the wooden bridge by which the barge-horses
cross from Oxfordshire to the farther shore and back again without
touching land. Underneath the high staging, the river, in alternate
pools and shallows, reveals a pebbly bottom more resembling the bed
of a mountain-born salmon river than the placid Thames. In the rapid
and moderately deep water running from the paper-mill, the patient
observer, waiting on a sunny day until the fish have recovered from
the alarm communicated by the shadow cast as he took his position,
will have favourable opportunity of observing the kind of creatures
which inhabit the waters. In the spring months, when the barbel are
congregated on domestic cares intent, the almost incredible piscatorial
resources of the Thames can be easily understood, and this particular
run of water at times appears to be crowded with this sport-giving
species.

The district of which Henley is in a sense the riparian metropolis is
one of the best along the entire length of the river for the angler,
in whose interests we may agree, perhaps, to break off our downward
voyage for the moment, in order to complete the information proffered
in brief in the first chapter, with respect to the piscatorial
capabilities of the river. Although the right of the public to fish
in the Thames has been frequently called in question, and threatened
with opposition, it remains one of the principal rivers in England free
to the general angler. Probably forty or fifty years ago men fished
from any section of the tow-path, or with their boats moored in any
pool, without let or hindrance. Within the last quarter of a century,
however, and especially within the last fifteen years, anglers have
increased probably a thousandfold. A distinct angling literature has
been established. The clubs and fishing societies of London alone may
be numbered by hundreds, and the increased facilities of locomotion all
over the country combine, with other progressive changes, to promote
a spirit of sport, and develop the sporting instincts of the people
in this innocent direction. One of the results of the multiplication
of the angling fraternity, and the consequent hard fishing to which
the River Thames has been put, was seen in the evidence given before
the Special Committee of the House of Commons during the session of
1883. Prominent amongst the grievances complained of by witnesses who
appeared for the general public, was the assertion that waters which
had been free to anglers, all and sundry, from time immemorial, were
now claimed as private fisheries by riparian owners; and the report
of the Committee, as many readers will remember, though it was only
an expression of opinion, was rather against than for the anglers. In
many of the most important districts of the Thames local Preservation
Societies have been established, vested with some sort of control over
the fishing, and enforcing, by their bailiffs and keepers, those
by-laws of the Thames Conservancy which were framed after consultation
with gentlemen representing the different classes of metropolitan
anglers. It is only, therefore, in rare instances, that permission
to fish is refused to the public, and the system of preservation is
acquiesced in by all earnest sportsmen, who do not need to be informed
that unless the pastime of angling is conducted on strictly fair
principles, the Thames, or any other river, would soon be depopulated
of its fish.

[Illustration: BACKWATER AT WARGRAVE: A POOL OF WATER-LILIES.]

For angling purposes the River Thames may be roughly divided into three
sections. The first comprises the tidal waters, in which the fishing is
principally confined to roach, dace, barbel, and an occasional trout in
Teddington Weir. Of the coarser fish, incredible quantities have been
caught since the regular supervision of the river was undertaken by
the local Piscatorial Society of Richmond. The next division is from
Teddington Weir to Staines, where the city waters end, and over this
the Thames Angling Preservation Society, the most important of its kind
in the country, holds sway. The last section comprises all the water
between Staines and Oxford, and as I have already intimated, of this
Henley is the principal station, or head-quarters.

The trout-fishing of the Thames is probably not what it was in the
palmy days when salmon were caught in the river, but it is still
surprisingly good, considering the very much-restricted haunts of
the fish. It is supposed by many persons who have only a passing
acquaintance with Thames trout that it is a distinct species. The fish,
it is true, is in external non-essentials different from most of its
family, and has, through a long course of residence in the Thames,
established certain characteristics of its own. A typical Thames trout,
with its deep thick body, shapely head, silvery sides, and fine spots,
is an extremely handsome fish, and second to none in its sport-yielding
qualities when fighting for its life in a tumbling bay. The difficulty
is to catch it. Trout-fishing in the Thames commences on the 1st of
April, and terminates in the middle of September; and is chiefly
confined to the weirpools. Here, in the foaming and churning water,
all the predatory instincts of the species find ample opportunities of
practice amongst the delicate bleak and other small fry which love the
rapid turbulent streams. Whatever the Thames trout might have been in
olden times, it is not to be denied that his representative in these
days has no partiality for insect food, of which, however, such a
river does not yield an abundance; hence few anglers attempt that most
sportsmanlike method of angling for trout--the artificial fly. Failing
this, the most fashionable mode is that of spinning with a bleak
or small dace, and latterly this has been supplemented by the less
commendable practice of live baiting.

In many of the upper waters, as at Henley and Reading, _salmo fario_
of the ordinary kind have been artificially hatched and turned into
the river. Loch Leven trout have also been introduced, and one of the
latest efforts at acclimatisation has been with Great Lake trout and
land-locked salmon, sent to this country by the United States Fish
Commission, and introduced to the Thames through the National Fish
Culture Association and Thames Angling Preservation Society. Whether
these interesting experiments in pisciculture will be attended with
success time only will prove, but there can be no question that the
number of common trout in the Thames have, of late, largely increased,
though a greater proportion of small fish have, as might be supposed,
been taken.

The principal sport of the Thames, however, must be looked for in what
are called the coarse or summer spawning fish, for whose advantage
a close time has been instituted between the 15th of March and the
15th of June. The latter date is full early for many of the species.
At the same time, the periods at which the fish get into condition
after spawning depend so much upon the varying circumstances of the
water that the angling public have been, reasonably enough, allowed to
enjoy the benefit of any doubt that might have been entertained. The
increasing number of steam-launches has in many ways interfered with
the pursuit of angling, and the disciples of Izaac Walton entertain
anything but a friendly feeling towards the frequenters of the Thames
who take their pleasure in other ways than through fishing-rod or
punt. The Thames fish have, indeed, many enemies to contend with, and
angling in its waters with success becomes a more and more uncertain
and difficult art every year. The fish that has deteriorated, most
probably, from the introduction of the steam-launch is the pike. The
Thames is not, naturally, except in a comparatively few reaches, and
at the weirs and mill-pools, a trout stream; but it is precisely
the water in which the voracious pike should flourish. The beds of
reeds and rushes, the eyots, the deep holes under willow-lined banks,
the long straight reaches down which the currents, "strong without
rage," maintain their easy progress--these are the natural haunts
of _Esox lucius_. But pike-fishing has suffered greatly on account
of the pernicious and Cockney system of trailing from the stems of
pleasure-boats and steam-launches. By the murderous flights of hooks,
dragged in their wake, without any exercise of skill or attention on
the part of the owners of the apparatus, infant fish, too often under
the legal minimum of length, are taken. Any pike-fisher who is wise
will, therefore, avoid the watery highways which are swept and harried
by this legion of pot-hunters.

In the particular district, however, at which we are pausing to indulge
in these piscatorial reflections, the troller or live-baiter may find
his most liberal opportunities. No steam-launch can push its way up
the overshadowed and tranquil backwaters of Hennerton, or round about
the islands at Bolney. The skilful pike-fisherman will not only seek
such undisturbed retreats as these, but will obtain his best sport by
deftly dropping his paternoster fitted with one gimp hook upon a gut
trace, and baited with gudgeon or small dace, between banks of weeds,
and in those odd and beautiful clearings in the aquatic forests which
the practised eye may always find. The Thames, nevertheless, as a pike
river, has for some years been a disappointment, and will so continue
to be until trailing is prohibited by law.

After the month of October the pike angler has a fairer chance of
sport. Simultaneously with the disappearance of the steam-launches and
pleasure-boats, from which angling is conducted as a passing amusement,
and in utter ignorance of the science, or even rudiments of the art,
the decay of the weeds begins. This is the signal for a general exodus
from summer quarters by the fish. They sheer off into deep water. The
pike, no longer concealed in a thicket of subaqueous vegetation, from
which he has, during the summer months, pounced like an insatiable
ogre upon the silvery wanderers swimming heedlessly about in search of
minute freshwater crustacea and larvæ, takes to the life of a roamer,
free from much of the harassing which kept him close, out of the range
of roistering Thames excursionists. But it is unfortunate for the pike
that the keen sportsman also benefits by this change. The dying down of
the weeds leaves him space for the exercise of his skill at the precise
time when his game may be taken at disadvantage. Pike-fishing is,
therefore, the winter recreation of the angler in the Thames, though,
for the reasons indicated, large specimens are rarely killed now.

The perch, most cosmopolitan of fishes in the rural districts of
England, the bold biter idolised by schoolboys, whose easy prey under
favourable conditions he is certain to be, has almost disappeared from
some portions of the Thames. Henley used to be a grand perch preserve,
and the late Mr. Greville Fennell, whose angling contributions to
literature were chiefly founded upon his observations and experiences
in the reaches between Henley and Pangbourne, gave it at one time a
first place on the list of good perch waters. But cosmopolitan as the
perch may be in its character, habits, and haunts, it is more difficult
to rear than many other of the summer spawners, and the peculiar
manner in which it hangs its eggs in festoons around the roots and
branches beneath water, renders it an easy victim to the rough usages
of swiftly-passing traffic. Shiplake hole, and the "tails" (as the
fishermen term them) of all the islands mentioned in this chapter,
are still favourite places for perch during the winter time, when the
steam-launches are in dry dock, though the quality and quantity of the
well-beloved zebra of the fresh water have unfortunately declined in
the Thames.

The carp family thrive, as ever they did, and in some years are caught
in unusually large numbers, rejoicing the hearts of the professional
fishermen who have languished for want of customers through a series of
depressing fishing seasons. The head of the family is very rarely taken
in the Thames proper. Some carp, however, are found in the Cherwell,
and by accident, at very rare intervals, solitary specimens are
caught in the Thames itself. But these are the accidental wanderers;
exceptions proving the rule. Bream are more plentiful, but the most
prolific of all are chub, roach, dace, and gudgeon. The popularity to
which the Canadian canoe has risen on the Thames is not a little due
to the adaptability of the light and elegant boat for chub-fishing.
Regulating the drifting of the canoe with one hand, the operator, armed
with a suitably short and supple fly-rod, drops down some fifteen yards
distant from the overhanging willow-bushes, from under whose branches,
close to the loamy or gravelly bank, a lightly-dropped fly of large
dimensions will, in the calm of a July or August eventide, seduce the
great bronze-coloured "chevin" to its fate, while, in the winter time,
artful concoctions of cheese-paste, and other gross baits, directed
down stream by a long Nottingham line and the familiar float tackle,
will be equally efficacious in the formation of a bag. Roach and
dace-fishing, the simplest of angling practices, as conducted from the
comfortable floor and chair of a Thames punt, continues to be, as of
yore, the most familiar form of the contemplative man's recreation for
the average citizen. In the mysteries of fly-fishing, and the ingenious
devices invented for betraying the fishes that follow spinning-baits
of all descriptions, improvements real and so-called are continually
announced, but no change seems to have been suggested for many years
in the ancient methods adopted on the Royal River for the capture of
barbel by ledgering, and roach and dace by ground-baiting, plumbing,
and Thames punt-tackle. Angling in the Thames is a source of untold
delight and innocent enjoyment for tens of thousands of persons every
year, and long may the day be postponed when the modest privileges of
the London anglers, whose opportunities are limited, and whose ambition
in the matter of sport is easily satisfied, are reduced or interfered
with.

The deeper pool across the river, near the flour-mill at Marsh Lock,
used to be a favourite resort of those anglers who pursued their
sport from a boat; and the bank from the paper-mill towards Henley
witnesses many an exercise of patience from the youthful Waltonian.
The utilitarian spirit which has rendered necessary the hideous iron
weir above the mill, and which is step by step destroying so many of
the gems of Thames scenery, has, however, built a black barricade from
the miller's boat-house to the head of the eyot, completely cutting off
the communication by water with the further bank. The stream below is
narrowed by the two islands in the middle of the channel, and rendered
busy by that constant traffic of pleasure-boats which is inevitable in
proximity to such towns as Henley and Reading. During the last quarter
of a mile the familiar buildings and substantial bridge of Henley have
opened to view, and we conclude the voyage to this stage amidst the
bustle of boats and boatmen, and a parting glance at the head of Isis
as chiselled by the Hon. Mrs. Damer. Water-plants are entwined around
the face, which aptly looks in the direction of the river's source.

  /William Senior/.



[Illustration: HENLEY REGATTA. (_From an Instantaneous Photograph._)]


CHAPTER V.

HENLEY TO MAIDENHEAD.

    The Best Bit of the River--Henley--The Church--The "Red
    Lion"--Shenstone's Lines--Henley Regatta--The First University
    Boat-race--Fawley Court--Remenham--Hambledon Lock--Medmenham
    Abbey and the Franciscans--Dissolution of the Order--Hurley--Lady
    Place and its History--A Strange Presentiment--Bisham Abbey
    and its Ghost--Bisham Church--Great Marlow--The Church and its
    Curiosities--"Puppy Pie"--Quarry Woods--The Thames Swans and
    the Vintners' Company--Cookham and Cliefden--Hedsor--Cliefden
    Woods--The House--Raymead--The Approach to Maidenhead.


Notwithstanding the old proverb concerning comparisons, we may venture
to assert of this section of the Thames that it is the richest in
natural beauties. Though there are spots on the upper part of the river
which individually can hold their own with any, there will nowhere
be found such a succession of exquisite views of noble reaches of
water, of wooded bluffs and slopes, of green meadows and tree-covered
islands, of old villages and stately or ancient mansions. There is,
of course, nothing between Henley and Maidenhead which can rival the
grand grouping of Windsor Castle on its wooded eminence, or the formal
magnificence of Hampton Court; neither can the gardens of Kew, or
the park on Richmond Hill, be equalled by anything on this part of
the Thames; still, it affords us such a series of beautiful views of
meadows, woods, and buildings that only between Richmond and Kew can we
be induced to hesitate in awarding the palm to the portion of the river
which is the subject of this chapter.

At Henley-on-Thames we are on the border of Oxfordshire. From its
bridge we obtain not the least striking of the views to which we have
alluded. The wider expanse of the upper valley contracts a little as
the stream approaches the base of Remenham Hill, whose wooded slopes
descend to the neighbourhood of the water. The Thames is deflected
slightly towards the left as it commences the curve, in which, a mile
or so farther down, it sweeps round the base of the long shelving spur
which forms the northern termination of Remenham. On the Oxfordshire
side the ground rises more gradually, but perceptibly, from the river
bank. Just where the valley is narrowest is the site of Henley. A
little farther down the hills recede on this side, and a fertile strath
intervenes between their base and the water's edge.

Henley is an old town--indeed, Plot claims for it the distinction of
being the oldest town in Oxfordshire--but it makes little figure in
history. A conflict between the royal and the parliamentary troops
in the "Great Rebellion" is almost the only stirring incident which
it has witnessed. Moreover, it has retained fewer relics of ancient
days than many places of more modern date. Even its church, which is
well situated in the neighbourhood of the river, is not a building
of unusual antiquity. The greater part of the fabric is in the
Perpendicular style. The tower is even younger, and is said to have
been erected by Cardinal Wolsey, so that it belongs to the latest
period of Tudor work. Several of the windows have been filled with
modern stained-glass, and the interior has been carefully restored, so
that the church is not unworthy of its position. Some of the monuments
have a certain interest, though no great historical personages have
found a grave here. One commemorates Richard Jennings, "Master Builder
of St. Paul's Cathedral"; another, Jack Ogle, an almost forgotten
humorist of the days of the Restoration; a third, the widow of Sir
Godfrey Kneller; and a fourth, General Dumouriez, who ended an eventful
life at Turville Park, in this neighbourhood. He was one of those
unlucky men who have the misfortune to be too rational for the age in
which they were born. A distinguished soldier even in his youth--for
by the time he was four-and-twenty he had been wounded almost as many
times--he fell under Court displeasure for his liberal opinions.
These the Bastille did not eradicate, so that he afterwards became a
member of the Jacobin Club. But though he had striven and suffered
for freedom, though he had headed the troops of the Directory in a
successful campaign in Belgium, he was too moderate in his views to
satisfy the fanatics of the Revolution, and, to save his own life, was
obliged to put himself into the hands of the Austrians. At last he came
to England, where he lived for nearly twenty years the unobtrusive life
of a man of letters.

Though Henley has not retained any of the picturesque mansions of
olden time, there are several houses, dating from various parts
of the last century, which will repay rather more than a passing
glance; and the town, as seen from the river bridge, is not without
a certain beauty. While these Hanoverian mansions do not afford us
the charm of the varied outline and picturesque grouping--the light
and shadow--of mediæval buildings, there is a certain stateliness in
their strong-built walls and formal rows of windows; and the rich
red of their brick façades, especially when relieved by the green
tendrils or the bright flowers of climbing plants, is not without its
attractions from its warmth of colour. Of these mansions--for they are
almost worthy of the name--Henley contains some good examples; and some
bow-windowed houses, perhaps of slightly earlier date, are in pleasant
contrast with their stiffer outlines, and give variety to the domestic
architecture. The Berkshire side of the river also is not without its
contingent of attractive residences. On the higher ground are two or
three handsome mansions; at the bottom of the slope are many pretty
villas--all modern. The bridge itself, a five-arched stone structure,
is by no means the least adornment of the town. It, too, is a work of
the last century, being built about the year 1787, from the design of
Mr. Hayward, a Shropshire architect. He died during the progress of the
work, and greatly desired, it is said, to be buried beneath the centre
arch of the bridge. This singular place of sepulture--almost rivalling
that of Alaric--was out of harmony with the spirit of the age, so, as
the next best thing, they buried him in the neighbouring churchyard,
and set up a fine monument to his memory.

Close by the bridge is the "Red Lion" Inn, a hostel of note now, as
it has been for long years past; for on a pane in one of its windows
Shenstone wrote the well-known lines.--

    "Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
      Where'er his stages may have been,
    May sigh to think that he has found
      His warmest welcome at an inn."

A sentiment which, though perhaps not very complimentary to English
hospitality--or indeed to any hospitality, as the author obviously does
not limit himself to our own island--has been endorsed, as Boswell
tells us, by Dr. Johnson, who also, in his time, made trial of the
"Red Lion." At any rate, Shenstone would have written more guardedly
if he had been welcomed by the clerk at the counter of one of the
great American hotels. An interview between one of these gentry and
Dr. Johnson would make a good subject for an "imaginary conversation,"
except, perhaps, that it would be too brief.

[Illustration: HENLEY, FROM THE TOWING-PATH.]

[Illustration: REGATTA ISLAND.]

Henley is generally a quiet enough town, though the increasing fondness
for river-side amusements gives to it a certain briskness through all
the summer-time; but it has one epoch of thrilling excitement, one
brief period of dense crowd and ceaseless bustle, in the early part of
July, at the time of its regatta. If the Universities' race between
Putney and Mortlake is the aquatic Derby, Henley races are the Goodwood
meeting of the Thames. The inns, the lodgings, the private houses, are
full of visitors; house-boats are moored on the river, tents pitched in
the meadows for those who enjoy the delights of camping out, excursion
trains disgorge their thousands, boats of every description bring their
contingents from various localities up and down stream. The "Fair
mile," the famed approach to the town on the Oxford road--the special
pride of Henley--has no rest from the stream of passing vehicles, and
its trees are powdered with their dust; the streets, the meadows, the
bridge, every "coign of vantage," are crowded; the usual itinerant
accompaniments of an outdoor festivity are there in abundance, and
the whole place is noisy with passing vehicles, shouting throngs,
vendors of "c'rect cards," and other wares. The course is rather less
than a mile and a half in length, from an "ait" below Fawley Court,
which bears the name of Regatta Island, to the bridge. So the town
itself becomes the theatre in which the interest of the aquatic drama
is concentrated. The banks may be said to blossom with artificial
colours, for as it is summer-time the "bright day brings forth," not
the serpent, but the daughters of Eve in their smartest dresses and
their most brilliant of parasols. Beauty and fashion are there, for a
day or two at Henley make a pleasant change in the London season, when
its gaieties begin to pall a little, and the streets of the metropolis
are at a July temperature. Here may be seen subtler harmonies and
the delicate blendings of tints that indicate the handiwork of some
mistress of the art of dress; there the more glaring colours and
gaudier contrasts that mark the efforts of the shorter purse and
inferior taste; but even to these distance lends enchantment, and all
unite to form a variegated border to the river and make a flower-bed of
the meadows. The men, too, don brighter colours than is their wont, for
boating uniforms are in the ascendant. The river is alive with craft
of all kinds--skiffs and dingies, tubs and boats of every degree--and
the officials find it no easy task to clear the course for each race.
The interest is not, as at Putney, concentrated on a single contest;
the "events" are many, the chief, perhaps, being the Ladies' Plate, the
Grand Challenge Cup, and the Diamond Sculls. These also are not settled
in a single race; usually there are two or three heats, in order to
reduce the number of competitors, before the final struggle. The
interest of the Henley contests also affects a wider circle than the
inter-University race. The colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, which have
taken the lead on the Isis or the Cam in the annual races, send their
representative "eights" or "fours," the best oarsmen of the London
clubs put in an appearance, and one or two of our public schools now
commonly send a boat, and not seldom carry off a trophy from Henley.
Thus these races have a special interest for fathers and mothers, for
"sisters, cousins, and aunts;" and a visit to Henley is not without
its attraction for those by whom the good things of this life are held
in esteem, for luncheons and various comforts for the inner man--and
woman--are by no means forgotten.

We may recall to mind in passing that the course at Henley was the
scene of the first aquatic contest between the Universities of Oxford
and Cambridge. It took place at the beginning of the long vacation,
on the 10th of June, 1829, late in the afternoon. Contrary to
expectation Oxford was victorious. The race of course was rowed in the
old-fashioned heavy boats, without outriggers, which were then termed
"very handsome, and wrought in a superior style of workmanship....
The Oxford crew appeared in their blue-check dress, the Cambridge
in white with pink waistbands. Some members of the crews on both
sides afterwards became men of mark; four of them have risen to high
positions in the Church. In the Oxford boat rowed W. R. Fremantle, now
Dean of Ripon, and Christopher Wordsworth, the venerable Bishop of
St. Andrews. In the Cambridge boat rowed Merivale, the historian of
Rome, who is now Dean of Ely, and George Augustus Selwyn, the first
missionary bishop of New Zealand, who after years of arduous labour
in that distant field of Christian enterprise was transferred to the
bishopric of Lichfield. There he laboured earnestly at work not less
in amount, and more exhausting in nature, than that of the colonial
mission-field, till he was called away to his rest." On the Berkshire
side of the bridge at Henley a road climbs the steep slope, which
may well be followed by any who desire to obtain a wider view of the
neighbourhood--stately trees, grassy slopes, now and again a villa with
its garden, brighten the nearer distance; below lie the valley and the
town. In one place the bank by the road-side is steep and broken, the
red soil contrasting pleasantly with the rich green of the foliage.
There is a walk also at the base of the hill, which should not be
forgotten, where the path leads along a level strip of meadow, dappled
in the spring season with innumerable flowers, to the little church of
Remenham, with its remnants of Norman work, its exceptionally pretty
lych-gate, and its carved porch. Its situation, with the river on one
side and the wooded slopes on the other, is not the least picturesque
in the Valley of the Thames.

On the meadows below Henley, and on the left bank of the Thames, is
Fawley Court, a mansion built by Sir Christopher Wren, but subsequently
enlarged. The grounds extend from road to river, and their fine aged
trees enhance greatly the beauty of this reach of the Thames. The
present house occupies the site of an old manor-house, which was
plundered by the Royalist troops at the outbreak of the Civil War.
The owner, Bulstrode Whitelock, has left on record a pitiful account
of the wanton ravages committed by the troopers. They consumed, or
wasted, a great store of corn and hay; they tore up or burnt his books
and papers, many of them of great value; they broke up his trunks and
chests, stole whatever they could transport of his household goods,
and destroyed the rest; they carried off his horses and his hounds,
killed or let loose his deer, and broke down his park palings--"in a
word, they did all the mischief and spoil that malice and enmity could
provoke barbarian mercenaries to commit." We have heard often of the
devastation wrought by the Roundheads; it is well to remember that the
Cavaliers were by no means guiltless. Remenham village, with its little
church, already mentioned, nestles below the slope opposite to Fawley
Court, and lower down, on the Buckinghamshire side (for we have now
crossed the county boundary), comes Greenland House, opposite to where
the Thames makes its sharpest bend. This fared even worse in those
unquiet times. About two years later than the incident just related it
stood a siege of six months, when it was held by the Royalists against
their opponents, and did not capitulate till it was almost knocked to
pieces. Some traces of the works raised during the siege still remain,
and when the house was enlarged, about a quarter of a century since,
quite a crop of cannon-balls was dug up.

[Illustration: FAWLEY COURT.]

Sweeping round the eastern side of the Berkshire slopes the Thames is
checked by Hambledon Lock and its islands--well known to fishermen,
the reach above being noted for pike--by Aston Ferry, where the river
begins to strike out into the more open part of the valley, by Culham
Court and the islands below, till it approaches a place well known to
the pleasure-seekers of the present day as a sort of half-way house
between Henley and Marlow, and as the fittest site for a picnic.

Pleasantly situated on the level meadows in the valley on the Berkshire
side, and backed by the wooded uplands which are now some little
distance from the river, is Medmenham Abbey, a place of more note
since its suppression than in earlier times. The convent was founded
not long after the Norman Conquest, when the owner of the manor
bestowed it on the Abbey of Woburn, in Buckinghamshire, which he had
recently founded, for the endowment of a separate but subsidiary house.
Medmenham does not appear ever to have become wealthy, and never made
any figure in history, except that the abbot was epistolar of the Order
of the Garter, a distinction which one would not have anticipated for
a place so humble. The report of the Commissioners at the time of the
suppression of the monasteries is curiously negative. It had at that
time only two monks, "Servants none--Wood none--Debts none--Bells,
&c., worth 2l. 1s. 8d. The house wholly in ruins, and the value of the
moveable goods only 1l. 3s. 8d." A poor piece of plunder, certainly.

[Illustration: ASTON FERRY.]

As this statement would lead us to suppose, not much of the original
conventual buildings now remain. Even of those parts which bear
an ancient aspect, some are only imitations of the last century,
when Medmenham enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity. At that time
the abbey, which after the suppression of the monasteries had been
converted into a dwelling-house, was the property of Francis Dashwood,
Lord le Despencer. He determined to found a society, which was called
after his first name--the Franciscan Order. It was, however, anything
but an Order of Poverty. The number was twelve, in imitation of a band
to which these men were the most opposite possible, for the old Latin
lines--

    "Exue Franciscum tunicâ laceroque cucullo
    Qui Franciscus erat, jam tibi Christus erit"

--are the very last one would think of applying to this Order of
Debauchery. Great mystery was observed; the workmen who prepared the
building were brought down from London, secluded as far as possible
 from any communication with the people of the neighbourhood, and then
conveyed back as mysteriously as they had come. Very few servants were
kept in the "abbey," and these were not allowed to wander beyond the
monastic precincts, or to hold any intercourse with the neighbouring
villagers. Still, though there were no penny papers or "own
correspondents" in those days, though "interviewers" and "special
commissioners" had not been invented, some rumours got abroad as to
the sayings and doings of the new fraternity. It is to be hoped that
they were exaggerated, that the author of "Chrysal" has over-coloured
the picture; but that these Franciscans carried out to the full the
Rabelaisian motto, "Fay ce que voudras," inscribed over their portal,
there can be little doubt. Their rites and ceremonies appear to have
been profane parodies of those of their predecessors, their lives in
keeping with their religion. Among the band were numbered the Earl of
Sandwich, Bubb Dodington, Wilkes, and Churchill. Society seems to have
been rather scandalised, but we do not read that the Franciscans
suffered any social penalty. Happily, after a time the Order was
dissolved, under what circumstances it is not exactly known. One
version, perhaps legendary, is that a disappointed member secreted
a large monkey in a chest in the hall prior to one of their great
festivals. At a particular stage of the ceremonies there was an
invocation to the Evil One. At this moment the treacherous monk
pulled a string and lifted the lid; Pug sprang upon the table, and
then leaped through the open window. The revellers, mistaking their
kinsman for their master, thought matters were getting serious, and
so held no more merry meetings.

[Illustration: MEDMENHAM ABBEY.]

[Illustration: BELOW MEDMENHAM.]

The house is at present a pleasantly situated inn, with farm buildings
attached; ivy mantles picturesquely some of the old walls, and the
tower, an "antique" of the last century, looks well when not too
closely examined. Fine aged trees add greatly to the beauty of the
place. The village lies back from the river at the foot of the bluffs,
and is reached by a lane, bordered by some of the old-fashioned
free-growing hedges which, though not much favoured by modern farmers,
are such a delight to the wayfarer. Of the many sequestered spots in
the Valley of the Thames, Medmenham village is by no means the least
attractive. A wooded slope rises steeply at its back, the little
church is half buried among trees, its cottage gardens are bright with
flowers, and more than one of the buildings is ancient and picturesque.
A farmhouse on the upland above is said to be the successor of one
which occupied the site some eight centuries since, and there is
an old-world air about the whole place, as though generation after
generation of its simple inhabitants had lived and died, apart from the
turmoil of the outer world; hearing of stirring events, of battles, of
changes of government, even of the dethronement of kings, and of civil
strife, as of things which altered but little the even tenor of their
lives, and only came home to them when, like bad seasons, they raised
prices or lowered wages. In such places generation follows generation
with little note of change. The son grows up to manhood, and lives as
his father did before him; takes his place on the farm when the old
man retires, first to his easy-chair by the fireside in winter, and at
the cottage door in summer, and then to his long resting-place in the
churchyard; the young man, in his turn, becomes the father of sturdy
boys, begins to stoop a little, and to show the signs of advancing
years, till at last he too sinks down into the "lean and slippered
pantaloon," and then follows his forefathers to the silent land. These
quiet days now seem nearly ended for our country--machinery, steam,
electricity, have so quickened the pulse in all the great centres of
national life that there is a responsive thrilling of the nerves even
in the most remote extremities. The old order has changed, yielding
place to new. We have gained much, but we have lost something, and can
appreciate, from their increasing rarity, the calm of these little
nooks and corners of England, where the scream of the steam-whistle, or
the bellow of the "siren," does not scarify the ears; where the voice
of the costermonger is not heard in the land, and no excursion train
disgorges a crowd of noisy revellers; where factory chimneys do not
blacken the air, nor heaps of chemical refuse disseminate their fetid
odours.

Below Medmenham some more islands vary the course of the Thames, and on
the high ground upon the left bank is Danesfield. Woods surround the
house and clothe the slope. Here flourish holly, box, and yew--trees,
it is believed, of indigenous growth; descendants, very probably, of
those which covered all the uplands, when men were few in England, and
many a mile of unbroken forest separated the scattered settlements. A
curious relic is said to be preserved in the house--a withered human
hand, which was discovered among the ruins of Reading Abbey. This
is believed to be identical with the supposed hand of St. James the
Apostle, presented to that establishment by Henry I.

[Illustration: BISHAM ABBEY.]

Hurley comes next, with its islands and locks, interrupting the even
tenor of the river, with Harleyford House, backed by sloping woods,
on the opposite shore. Hurley is another old-world place, for it too
carries back its history to the days of the Conqueror, when a convent
was founded here. A former writer on the Thames makes this a text for
some sarcastic remarks:--"The fascinating scenery of this neighbourhood
has peculiarly attracted the notice of the clergy of former periods,
who, in spite of the thorny and crooked ways which they have asserted
to be the surest road to heaven, have been careful to select some
flowery paths for their own private journeyings thither; among which
ranks Hurley, or Lady Place, formerly a monastery." This was founded
by Geoffry de Mandeville, a comrade of William the Norman on the field
of Hastings, to whom fell a share of the plunder of England. Parts
of the church belong to that which he erected, and within its walls
Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor, was buried. A group of farm
buildings still incorporates portions of the ancient monastery, the
chief one being the refectory. But the house called Lady Place, which
once occupied another part, has a more important position in history
than ever belonged to the Benedictine convent, which, perhaps, was
somewhat thrown into the shade by its annexation to the great Abbey
of Westminster. After the Dissolution the site of the monastery of
Hurley was purchased from the family to which it had first been granted
by Richard Lovelace, who had been a companion of Drake on one of his
expeditions. He built a fine house "out of the spoils of Spanish
galleons from the Indies," and this, in the year 1688, was the property
of his descendant Richard, Lord Lovelace. "Beneath the stately saloon,
adorned by Italian pencils, was a subterranean vault, in which the
bones of ancient monks had sometimes been found. In this dark chamber
some zealous and daring opponents of the Government held many midnight
conferences during that anxious time when England was impatiently
expecting the Protestant wind."[4] In acknowledgment of this the house
was afterwards visited by William III. The Lovelace title became
extinct in the year 1736, and Lady Place passed into other hands. The
purchaser was "Mrs. Williams, sister to Dr. Wilcox, who was Bishop of
Rochester about the middle of the last century. This lady was enabled
to make the purchase by a very remarkable instance of good fortune. She
had bought two tickets in one lottery, both of which became prizes,
the one of £500, the other of £20,000." The last person to live at Lady
Place was a brother of Admiral Kempenfelt. Concerning him a curious
story is told in Murray's Handbook. The brothers had each planted a
thorn-tree, in which the owner of Lady Place took great pride. "One
day, on coming home, he found that the tree planted by the Admiral had
withered away, and said, 'I feel sure that this is an omen that my
brother is dead.' That evening came the news of the loss of the _Royal
George_." The house, which contained a fine inlaid staircase and a
grand saloon, its panels "painted with upright landscapes, the leafings
of which are executed with a kind of silver lacker," was pulled down
and the more valuable part sold in the year 1839; but grass-grown
mounds mark the site of the historic vaults; and the old cedars and
other fine trees in the enclosed meadows are memorials of its former
splendour.

[Illustration: BISHAM CHURCH.]

Bisham comes next, a spot of rare attractions. Between the wooded hills
and the river there is a broad and fertile strath, the very place on
which, in ancient times, monks "most did congregate." Accordingly
they soon got hold of a goodly estate at Bisham, and that grey old
manor-house standing among groves of stately trees some little distance
from the Thames marks the site, first of a house of the Templars,
then of an Augustinian Priory. The latter had about two centuries of
tranquil existence, for it was founded in the year 1338, by William
Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. The last prior submitted to the change,
adopted the tenets of the Reformers, and became Bishop of St. Davids.
Moreover, he took to himself a wife, who bore him five daughters, each
one of whom had a bishop for her husband. His memory is not held in
great honour in the annals of St. Davids, for he cared more for money
than for the good of the see. After Bisham passed into the hands of
secular owners it becomes better known to history. Henry VIII. made
a present of it to his discarded spouse, Anne of Cleves, and she, by
royal permission, exchanged it with Sir Philip Hoby for a manor in
Kent. He was the last Englishman who was legate to the Pope at Rome,
and, like many others of his nation, never left the place alive. His
brother, Sir Thomas, who succeeded to the estate, was ambassador to
France, and he also died abroad. In Queen Mary's time the Princess
Elizabeth was committed to his charge, and she spent a considerable
time within the walls of Bisham. What she thought of the place and of
her keeper may be inferred from a graceful compliment which she paid
him on his first appearance at court after her accession. "If I had a
prisoner whom I wanted to be most carefully watched, I should intrust
him to your charge; if I had a prisoner whom I wished to be most
tenderly treated, I should intrust him to your care."

The house, which now belongs to the VanSittart family, is a picturesque
old structure of grey stone, with pointed gables, mullioned windows,
and a low tower; portions of it, for instance, the tower and the
hall--once part of the convent chapel--are remnants of Montacute's
abbey; but the larger portion of the building is later than the date of
the suppression of the religious orders, most of it being late Tudor
work, due to the Hoby family. Bisham is said to have its ghost. Lady
Hoby, wife of Sir William, "walks" in one of the bedrooms, appearing
as the duplicate, in opposite tints, of a portrait which hangs in
the hall, and engaged in "washing her hands with invisible soap in
imperceptible water," in a basin which, self-supported, moves on before
her. This is the cause which disturbs her rest: "She had a child
William, who, being a careless or clumsy urchin, kept always blotting
his copy-book; so the mother did not spare the rod, and spoiled the
child in a physical sense, for she whipped Master William till he
died." The author of "Murray's Guide-Book to Berkshire" states, as
a curious coincidence, if not a corroboration of the story, that on
altering the shutter of a window "a quantity of children's copy-books
of the reign of Elizabeth were discovered pushed into the rubble
between the joists of the floor, and that one of these was a copy-book
which answered exactly to the story, as if the child could not write
a single line without a blot." Bisham has also its secret chamber, an
indication that it was built when political struggles had their real
perils.

Bisham Priory in former days--perhaps owing to its connection with
the Montacutes, Earls of Salisbury--was the burial-place of several
distinguished men, whose monuments once adorned the priory chapel,
but have disappeared since it became a dwelling-place. The following
list of such interments is testimony to the perilous life led by the
aristocracy of those days:--"Thomas, Earl of Salisbury, who died at
the siege of Orleans in 1428; Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and
Warwick, beheaded at York in 1460; Richard Neville, 'the king-maker,'
killed at the battle of Barnet, 1470; his brother John, Marquis of
Montague, killed at the same battle; and Edward Plantagenet, son of
the Duke of Clarence, beheaded in 1499, for attempting to escape from
confinement." "The paths of glory lead but to the grave" was a true
saying in the days of old. Between the foeman's sword on the one
hand and the headsman's axe on the other, a goodly proportion of our
nobility came to untimely ends.

The Hobys rest in the parish church. This is beautifully situated close
to the riverside. Grand old trees cast their shadows on its graveyard
and overhang the walk by the brink of the Thames. The grass-grown
plot studded with graves is almost merged with the trim garden of the
rectory, the flowers in which brighten the view and pleasantly vary the
greens of the foliage and of the grassy meadows. These, too, are bright
enough in spring-time, when they are dappled with its golden flowers,
before the taller herbage of summer has begun to wave in the soft wind.

The tower of Bisham Church--the part most conspicuous from the
river--is of very early date--a rude and rather curious piece of Norman
work, which may be older than the days of Stephen, when the Templars
first came to Bisham. The body of the church is also picturesque, but
it has been so greatly restored--even to rebuilding--of late years that
it is no easy task to separate old from new. At the present time its
most interesting features are some of the monuments of the Hoby family,
especially those to the two brothers mentioned above. The widow of the
second brother, Thomas, had the bodies of both brought back to England
for burial at Bisham; and being a lady learned even for those days,
when people did not, as in later times, suppose that a woman made the
better wife for being as ignorant as a scullery-maid, she wrote them
an epitaph in three languages. The concluding lines on her husband's
monument appear to express a willingness, under certain circumstances,
to be consoled even for the loss of such a paragon:--

    "Give me, O God! a husband like unto Thomas,
    Or else restore to me my husband Thomas!"

She seems to have considered that the first part of her prayer was
granted, as the second could hardly be expected, for before the year
was out she married Sir Thomas Russell. But on the whole the interior
of Bisham Church will not detain the visitor for long; he will care
rather to linger in the churchyard and its neighbourhood. It is
pleasant to pass up and down by the riverside under the shadow of the
trees, to gaze upon the noble sweep of the Thames, and over its fertile
valley plain, to seek some quiet spot which commands a view of the grey
walls of Bisham Priory and the beautiful trees in its park. Even the
village is in keeping with the rest of the scene, and is brighter and
prettier than is usual, and this is saying much; for though, as a rule,
English cottages cannot compare in picturesqueness with many that we
see on the other side of the Channel, the frequent poverty and monotony
of their design is often atoned for by the creepers which blossom
profusely on the walls, and the flowers which make the strip of ground
in front one living posy. But in Bisham not a few of the cottages are
picturesque. For some reason or other, partly, perhaps, owing to the
absence of mechanical industries, the towns of the south and west of
England are commonly, and the villages almost always, more attractive
than in the north, and this disparity, as regards the latter, becomes
still more marked when we cross the border; for a Scotch village often
attains to the extreme limit of dreary ugliness.

[Illustration: GREAT MARLOW, FROM QUARRY WOODS.]

Turning aside from the woods of Bisham and sweeping away yet farther
into the broad valley plain, the stream of the Thames brings us to the
quiet market-town of Great Marlow. A suspension bridge crosses the
river, and the gardens and houses on either side afford many scenes of
quiet and homelike beauty. Just below it are a weir and a mill, not
without a certain picturesqueness; and from a distance the spire of
the church, rising from among groups of trees, enhances the attraction
of the scene. In this little Buckinghamshire town, before the railway
approached its outskirts, life must have passed peacefully, not to
say sleepily; and even now, as it lies off the main line, it does not
strike us as a place for over-stimulation of the nervous system. The
river, during a considerable part of the year, would still be almost
as fit a scene for a poet's musing as it was when Shelley resided in
the town, and wrote the "Revolt of Islam," spending much of his time
dreamily floating in a boat upon the Thames. The most conspicuous
feature in Great Marlow, as has been already said, is its church, which
stands near to the river and the bridge. Unfortunately, it is one of
those where "distance lends enchantment to the view." The present
building was erected in the year 1835, on the site of an older one.
Whatever this may have been, it could hardly have been so ugly as the
present structure. The style may be called Gothic--that is to say, the
architect had in his mind some of the English parish churches of the
thirteenth or fourteenth century; but it is the Gothic of what we may
call the pre-Victorian revival, and about as like what it supposed to
imitate as the "English as she is spoke" of the ingenious Portuguese
is to our mother-tongue. Efforts have been made, and we believe
will continue to be made, to improve it. For instance, the church
was constructed for galleries; these have been pulled down--at some
inconvenience, we should think, if a fair proportion of the population
goes to church; and the interior has been divided by means of the
usual arches into a nave and aisle. These, as they come to an end
before they reach the roof, have at present a rather forlorn aspect,
and, as there is no particular merit in their design, scarcely justify
their existence. It is intended, we are informed, to rebuild the whole
structure piecemeal; but as the original fabric appears to be in no
danger of premature decay, it is a question whether it would not have
been better to accept its ugliness, and employ the very large sum which
must be expended before the work can be completed for other and more
directly useful purposes. The church, however, is not wholly without
interest, as it contains one or two "curiosities." Of these, one is a
portrait of the "Spotted Boy," the work of Coventry, in 1811. The lad
was one of Richardson's "exhibits," and died at Great Marlow. He was
a negro, but was mottled with white patches on body and hair--as if
he had been imperfectly operated on with soap after the manner of the
advertising placards. In fact, he was a parallel example in the human
race to Barnum's famous white elephant. The picture might by some be
deemed more appropriate to the walls of Madame Tussaud's galleries than
to those of a church; nevertheless, so long as it is there, it should
be hung where it can be seen. At the present time, the removal of the
gallery staircase has resulted in "skying" it most effectually. A good
instance of modern mediæval absurdity may be seen in a monumental brass
erected to the memory of a lady who died so recently as 1842; for in
the inscription the words _charitie_ and _mercie_ occur as written.
More interesting, and in its way quaint, is the monument to a doughty
Englishman, Sir Myles Hobart, who once represented Great Marlow in
Parliament. He was a steadfast opponent of the Court party in the
troublous days before the Great Rebellion, and, on one occasion, with
his own hands locked the door of the House during the reading of a
protest against certain illegal taxes. For this he was, of course,
imprisoned; but it is pleasant to read that the Long Parliament voted a
considerable sum to his family as an acknowledgment of his services and
a compensation for his sufferings. A bas-relief indicates the manner
of his death, which was the result of an accident. His horses ran away
down Holborn Hill, upsetting the coach, and fatally injuring their
master.

Great Marlow is in truth a town of unusual antiquity, for it is heard
of before the Norman Conquest; but an old monastic barn by the bridge,
and some fragments of an ancient building in the town, which is called
the Deanery, are all that remain from mediæval times. Of the latter,
the most conspicuous remnants are two windows, with tracery of a rather
Flamboyant character, which are incorporated into an old house, now
undergoing "restoration." In short, the lions of the town will not
long detain the traveller, although he will be tempted to look rather
longingly at some of its substantial houses, with their bright and
pleasant flower-gardens.

[Illustration: HENLEY TO MAIDENHEAD.]

There is a circumstance connected with Great Marlow, beneath the
dignity of history indeed, which, however, as we are writing of the
Thames, must not be passed over in silence. In former days--and perhaps
still, for we do not wish to make experimental proof--the simple and
apparently purposeless question, "Who ate the puppy pie under Marlow
Bridge?" sufficed to throw the bargee of the Thames into a state of
mind which could only find adequate expression in words which more
than bordered on profanity. The venom rankling in the taunt is thus
explained:--The landlord of the inn at Medmenham had received private
information that certain bargemen meditated that night a foray on his
larder. He was a humorous man, who had just drowned a litter of young
puppies. So he had their corpses baked in a pie, which he placed in the
larder, and did not sit up to keep guard. The larder was robbed, the
pie was carried off and conveyed to Marlow Bridge, where the plunderers
feasted, as they supposed, on young rabbits.

[Illustration: A PICNIC AT QUARRY WOODS.]

Below the weir, where the Thames is parted by willow-covered islands,
are some pleasant nooks for the artist who loves riverside scenery,
and quiet spots where he may pursue his work without the presence of a
small circle of gaping bystanders. Brothers of the angle also find much
employment near Marlow, as the fishing is noted. Taunt, in his useful
little "Guide to the Thames," tells us that he saw a trout weighing
eight pounds, which had just been caught near Quarry Woods, and that in
the hostel called the "Anglers" is one stuffed, which is reputed to be
the largest that has been taken in the Thames.

From Great Marlow weir and locks the Thames sweeps back through level
meadows to the foot of Quarry Woods. There is now a pleasant diversity
in the scenery. On the left the level plain continues, over which we
glance backwards to the spire and houses and trees of Great Marlow,
and sideways for a longer distance to where the grey, stumpy tower of
Little Marlow is almost concealed by foliage. But on the right bank the
steep wooded slope of the ancient valley which runs at the back of the
groves of Bisham is now approached by the Thames, whose stream for a
time hugs the foot of the declivity, and gives us a foretaste of what
is to come at Cliefden. At one place the dense woodland is interrupted
by a pretty cottage, and an old chalk-pit has been utilised as a part
of its garden. A pleasant retreat this would be from the time when the
woods begin to brighten with the first buds of spring until they are
dappled with the many tints of the dying foliage of autumn. But these
nooks and corners by the Thames are no longer, as they would have been
a generation since, suited for the abode of an anchorite. All through
the summer day there is now little solitude to be found on this part
of the river. Boats laden with pleasure-seekers pass and repass--from
skiffs and dinghies to steam-launches and house-boats--and there are
not seldom obvious signs of Londoners at play. Still, there are quiet,
dreamy hours when all the charm of the scene can be enjoyed--most of
all in the earlier months, when the flowers are at their brightest, and
the verdure is at its freshest; when the dweller in the city is still
tied down by duty or by the desire of gain to the crowded streets, and
must be content with extensive views of chimney-pots.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF SWANS.

(_From an Instantaneous Photograph._)]

After a time the river once more deserts the shadows of the wooded
slopes and strikes out again into the open plain. A reach begins
when the islands are passed, pleasant when the wind is favourable to
those who love sailing. The surface of the water lies open to the
breeze, and from bank to bank it is a little wider than usual. In
other respects the scene, after the beauty of the last stage, becomes
a little monotonous. The chalk downs have receded and their slope has
diminished on the right; on the left they are still distant. There are
but few trees by the river bank, and the meadows on either side are
level and uninteresting; even the embankment of the railway, which
we are now approaching, is a prominent and not attractive feature
in the landscape. The bridge, however, for a railway bridge, is not
unpleasing; and when we have left behind both it and some works on the
nearer side the scene once more brightens. Just inland is Bourne End
Station, where the branch line from Great Marlow joins that which runs
from Maidenhead to High Wycombe and Thame.

No one can journey a mile or two along the Thames without noticing the
swans, which add so much to the beauty of the royal river, as they
"float double, swan and shadow," on some quiet pool, or come ruffling
up towards some passing skiff, in defence of their young. A sheet of
water is hardly complete as a picture without some swans floating upon
it. White specks in the distance, forms of exquisite grace and purity
of colour in the foreground, they give a harmony to the composition and
add to the scene the interest of life. The moorhen and coot are too
inconspicuous as they lurk under the reeds, or swim hurriedly across
the open water. The swallow and the kingfisher, brilliant though the
plumage of the latter, dart too swiftly by to produce any lasting
impression on the mind; but the swan sails slowly along, and lingers
here and there, in harmony with the traveller, who is seeking only to
drink his fill of nature's charms.

The abundance of swans on the Thames is due to the fact that they are
carefully tended. They are not to be reckoned among _feræ naturæ_;
indeed, though other species are chance visitors, the "mute swan" is
never, strictly speaking, a wild bird in England; but they are private
property, the Dyers' and the Vintners' Companies being among the
principal owners. Keepers are appointed to look after them, especially
in the building season, when they are in some danger from predaceous
animals, and more from predaceous persons. Still, they can take pretty
good care of themselves, for the cock bird is very fierce in defence
of his nest or young, and can deal formidable blows with his pinions,
although, if he has succeeded in breaking a limb, as popular report
asserts, the sufferer's bones must have been rather weak. The nests
are generally built on the "aits," where the osier beds afford a quiet
retreat and a good foundation for the capacious structure. This is
constructed roughly of twigs and reeds, and raised some little height
above the ground. In former days, when _fay ce que voudras_ was a
motto adopted by City Companies more easily than in the present, they
used, as sole conservators of the River Thames, to make an excursion
annually in their barges, with all due ceremony and festivity, in order
to count and mark their swans. This process was called "swan upping,"
corrupted generally into "swan hopping." The swans were caught and
examined, sometimes not without a good deal of trouble, for a strong
old cock bird did not submit himself very willingly to the physical
suasion of the "swan crook." Cygnets were marked on the bill with the
special symbol of the Company to which the parent birds belonged. The
Vintners' Company mark was two nicks, whence, by a slight corruption,
came the curious inn-sign of the "swan with two necks." "Swan upping"
began on the Monday after St. Peter's Day, just at the time when a
water excursion would be most pleasant, in the full warmth of summer,
and before all the spring brightness had passed away from the foliage.
At an earlier date the birds appear to have been regarded as royal
property; and in Hone's "Every-day Book," under the heading of July 12,
is the reprint of a curious tract published in 1570, entitled, "The
Order for Swannes." It is here enacted that all private owners must
compound with the King's Majesty for the right to use a mark; while
penalties, commonly fines of thirteen shillings and fourpence, were
inflicted for stealing the eggs, for unlawful carrying of swan-hooks,
and the like; but the erasure or counterfeiting of marks entailed a
heavier fine and a year's imprisonment.

Abney House, below the bridge, is one of those places by the river
which must often set the wayfarer coveting, in despite of the
decalogue. Climbing plants of many kinds mantle with flowers and with
leaves, large and small, the verandas and walls of the house; and their
green foliage is in pleasant contrast with its red-coloured bricks.
The smooth-cut lawns are green even in the hottest season, and are
interspersed with living bouquets of bright-coloured flowers. The
shrubberies are adorned and the lawns are shaded with many a rare tree,
such as cedars and conifers of diverse kind, which by the side of the
English river call up memories of their distant homes in far-off lands.

The woods of Cliefden are now in view in front of us on the right, and
henceforth remain a conspicuous feature in the landscape, though it is
yet some time before our boat will be gliding along in the silence of
their shadows. There is a pleasant reach below the Bourne End bridge,
during which the views are more varied and the riverside is less
monotonous than on the part which we have left above it. The willows
growing by the stream are always pleasant to the eye as they whiten in
the summer breeze; there are sure to be tufts of flowers here and there
by the waterside, and if these be wanting we need not weary of the
woods of Cliefden, on the high chalk escarpments, as they stretch away
inland on our left.

The ivy-mantled tower of Cookham begins to show in front, as
we approach one of the prettiest spots on the Thames. If it be
summer-time, there is evidence that this opinion is held by many. There
is no lack of boats on the river; here is a house-boat moored by the
shore; in yonder meadow some small white tents proclaim that two or
three parties are "camping out"--all being direct indications that
the neighbourhood of Cookham has many admirers. Tent life may be all
very well in fine weather, but its charms on a rainy day must be more
than dubious. Granted the most studious habits, granted that power of
immediate concentration upon some absorbing treatise--let us say "the
philosophy of the uncreated nothing"--which few possess--at any rate,
in holiday time; granted a companion of great but not too provoking
amiability, and yet we will undertake to say that a tent will seem,
at the end of a day's steady rain, to be rather cramped quarters, and
the inmate's thoughts will turn regretfully homewards. Excitement may
no doubt be found sometimes when the rain detects shoddy workmanship,
and begins to drip upon the floor, or there is a battle with a gale of
wind; but an incident of this kind, though a variety, is not always a
pleasant one.

Below Cookham Bridge, a light iron structure, the river broadens out
before it splits up into channels, in a way that is rather perplexing
to new-comers. On the left hand is the original main channel, which
takes a great bend outwards towards Hedsor before curving back to pass
under the shadow of the Cliefden woods. Then comes "the cut," with its
locks--an artificial canal made to avoid the circuit and difficulties
of the old channel. Beyond this are the entrances to two smaller
channels, one leading to Odney weir, the other entering the Thames
some distance below Cliefden House. In the neighbourhood of Cookham it
is often hard to say whether the foreground or the distance is more
beautiful. Here the ancient fabric of the church, with its ivy-clad
tower, rises from its trim churchyard, surrounded with aged trees,
some of them little more than huge trunks, which still retain enough
vitality to support a short but thick output of branches. Here is
an attractive hostel by the waterside. Here are the narrower arms of
the river running up invitingly by the side of pleasant gardens and
under the shadows of giant trees--places where the idler may linger
for a long summer afternoon in some shady nook. Contemplative pursuits
appear to be much in favour near Cookham. Fishing for roach out of a
punt beguiles the time, and the excitement is of the mildest form, one,
probably, from which few persons, however highly strung their nerves,
would be debarred. An aroma of botanic origin, but not attributable
to any flowers, sometimes steals over the water, to announce that
the boat, half hid among the bushes, is not untenanted, and that the
occupant is a victim to the herb denounced once by an enthusiastic
divine as "the gorging fiend." Here is a student of books, but the
volume bears a resemblance to the literature of railway stalls rather
than of the academy. Here is a devotee of the brush. He, at least, is
at work, but in a leisurely way, as if he entered too fully into the
spirit of the picture to spoil it by over-much intensity. In short,
Cookham is one of the prettiest, pleasantest, laziest spots that the
peripatetic traveller could find within a two hours' journey from
Charing Cross.

[Illustration: COOKHAM.]

Cookham Church, which has just been mentioned, is almost hidden by
the bridge and by houses from the prettiest part of the river, though
well seen higher up the stream. Its low tower is partly covered with
ivy; the body of the church is of various dates, the oldest part being
Early English. It contains several modern stained-glass windows and
old monuments, especially brasses. The cook of Queen Eleanor, wife
of Henry III.; the "master clerk of the Spycery, under King Harry
the Sixt," have their tombs within the church; a modern monument by
Flaxman commemorates the death by drowning of Sir Isaac Pocock, and
a bas-relief by Woolner adorns the tomb of Frederick Walker, the
well-known artist.

In the distance, to the left of Cliefden, and seemingly forming with
it one demesne, lies Hedsor Park, the seat of Lord Boston, with its
imitation castle, which would be improved, pictorially speaking, by a
judiciously administered dose of dynamite. Hedsor overlooks the old
course of the river, but is not approached by the traveller on the
Thames, who has to follow the new cut, the only navigable channel.
There is nothing attractive in the house, which is in the modern
Italian style, and is hardly worthy of the magnificent situation it
occupies. The tiny church, which is within the park enclosure, and has
been beautifully restored, contains some monuments of the Irby family.
Dropmore Park, with its noted pinetum and fine gardens, lies still
farther back, another creation of the same reign. The house was erected
and the grounds were laid out by Lord Grenville, at the beginning of
the present century, about the time that he was Prime Minister.

The chief point of interest about the new cut--which, as might be
expected, has rather too much of the Dutch canal about it to attract
the traveller just fresh from Cookham--is that, in making it, a number
of skeletons, with swords and spears of Roman workmanship, were found
entombed together; indicating that these meadows had been the scene of
some long-forgotten conflict.

[Illustration: A CROWD IN COOKHAM LOCK.]

At the lower end of the new cut we pass through a lock into the main
channel of the Thames, a short distance below a weir, and at the very
foot of the Cliefden woods. It would be difficult to find a fairer
scene on any river within the limits of our island, and not easy did
we take a wider range over the surface of the earth. On both sides
Art has been called in to the aid of Nature; but that aid has been
only bestowed where it is a boon. The level island on the right hand
has been converted into a beautiful garden, where clusters of bright
flowers stud the greenest of lawns, and trees from distant lands are
mingled with those of native growth. On the opposite shore the hand of
the gardener is less conspicuous, and his art, though the more subtle,
has been concealed. The chalky upland, which for some miles past has
formed a marked feature in the scenery, and has bounded our view in
front, now descends to the river brink in steep slopes, sometimes
almost in cliffs. Between the foot of these and the water, only here
and there does a narrow strip of level land intervene. On two or three
of these a picturesque cottage has been built, and the brightest,
gayest, trimmest of gardens planted; but the slope itself is one mass
of trees and brushwood, through which, though very rarely, gleams
forth a little crag of the white chalk rock. All the trees of England
seem to have congregated on this bank: there are hazel and maple and
thorn; there are ash and oak, and beech and elm; there are chestnut and
sycamore, and, especially at this upper end, the brighter tints of the
deciduous trees, and of the broad-leaved evergreens, are dappled by the
sombre hues of Scotch firs, with their ruddy trunks, and of ancient
yews, very possibly lineal descendants of trees among which the ancient
Britons hunted, before ever a Roman galley floated on the Thames. For
Cliefden Woods, though doubtless they are in part the result of the
gardener's art, are very probably a relic of the primæval forests which
once covered so large a part of England. As in the Kentish Weald, this
rough and broken ground must always have been waste, and there trees
would take root, from the time that the slope first was furrowed out by
the river, and there would be the "lurking-place of wild beasts," in
days when the huntsman wore skins for clothing, and pointed his arrows
with chipped flints. Down by the river's brink what a wealth of beauty
is often to be found; the waterside plants grow strong and free, pink
willow-herb and purple loosestrife, yellow fleabane and St. John's
wort, with numbers more which it is needless to mention; while the bank
above is green in summer with many a herb, and bright in spring with
many a flower. No trim shrubbery this on the Cliefden steeps; nature
is left to wanton at will--nay, even to struggle for existence. Ivy
and briony and wild bine festoon and sometimes half smother the trees,
while the traveller's joy creeps and clings in masses so profuse that
from afar it seems to flicker like grey lights among the green shadows.

From this position we cannot see the mansion, but from time to time as
we pass down the stream it comes into view, standing above the slope on
the edge of the plateau. Its absence is a boon rather than a loss; its
clock-tower, indeed, as it rises above the hills, occasionally forms
a pleasant addition to the view; but the house is not particularly
striking in itself, and the design is wholly unsuitable for its
position. That requires a building of irregular outline and broken, but
well-conceived sky-line. This magnificent site, above the great river
cliff, ought to have been crowned with a group of buildings, whose
outline should suggest a cluster of hills. Yet the design of Cliefden
House could readily be imitated with three or four packing-cases. It
was a great opportunity, such, for instance, as that of the architect
of the Parliament Buildings at Ottawa not only had, but also seized;
but here, as is the rule, it has been wholly wasted, for to find an
architect who has also the feelings of an artist is rare indeed. Since
the Middle Ages they have been seldom more than learned master-masons.
So we shall look as little as possible at Cliefden House, and as much
as possible at its woods, and be thankful even for the tiny mercies
of its clock-tower. The present house occupies the site of an earlier
mansion, which was destroyed by fire, as was that which it succeeded.
The destruction of the first house, in the year 1751, may be used to
point a moral against reading in bed--at any rate, by the light of a
candle. One of the maid-servants, while indulging in this practice,
fell asleep, the candle set the hangings on fire, she woke up in too
great a fright to do anything to extinguish the flames, and in a
surprisingly short time almost the whole of the mansion was destroyed,
but little of the furniture and few of the pictures being saved.
This house had been erected by the notorious George Villiers, second
Duke of Buckingham, whose duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury is among
the memories of another part of the Thames; and when the latter fell
wounded, it was to the shelter of this mansion that the guilty pair
went off in triumph. Time, however, brought its revenge, when Villiers
died "in the worst inn's worst room":

              "How changed from him
    That life of pleasure and that soul of whim!
    Gallant and gay, in Cliefden's proud alcove
    The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love....
    There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
    And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends."

To him, as owner of Cliefden, in course of time, succeeded Frederick,
Prince of Wales, father of George III. Of him

    "Who was alive and is dead,
    There's no more to be said,"

except that through him the national air "Rule Britannia" is associated
with Cliefden. Thomson the poet had been taken into favour by this
prince at a time when he was, to some extent, the patron of literature.
Thus the masque of Alfred was first performed within the walls of
Cliefden, and into this masque "Rule Britannia," composed by Dr. Arne,
was introduced, and has alone escaped oblivion.

This house, which appears to have been a stately structure, was
destroyed, as has already been explained, and it was rebuilt in the
present century by Sir G. Warrender, from whom it was purchased by
the Duke of Sutherland. Another great fire occurred in 1849, after
which the present house was built. The gardens are very beautiful,
but the walks through the groves which mantle the slope--through the
dense vegetation and trailing undergrowth--are in their way not less
attractive. The cliff runs by the riverside for more than a mile,
unbroken except at one spot, rather beyond the house, where a glen, now
forming part of the gardens, winds down to the riverside, and affords
an easier access to the terraced plateau above.

Though less favourably situated for prospect or for health, there are,
as we have said, homes of no little beauty on the opposite side of the
river. Of these the most conspicuous bears the name of Formosa, and so
far as its gardens are concerned it would be difficult to find one more
appropriate. To apply it to the house would be flattery of which few
would be capable. White Place, which obtains its name from the colour
of the stone of which it is built, lies back from the river. It, too,
like Cliefden, is connected with the memory of Villiers; and its avenue
of elms is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a "white lady without
a head," who was one of his victims.

It is difficult to describe the beauty of this part of the river,
because it does not so much consist in notable features as in a series
of exquisite combinations of subtly varied forms, and in delicate
harmonies of colour. There is, of course, the one great effect of
wooded slope and of flowing stream, which differs but little from place
to place; but there is in addition, at every step, some novel harmony
of its minor features--fresh drapery of the aged limbs of trees, a new
contrast of sombre yew boughs with the bright green of the sprouting
beech or the tender tints of the maple, or of the darkling water
beneath the shadow of the wooded bank, with the sparkle of the sun on
the ripples of the stream. There float a pair of swans, white as snow;
there darts a kingfisher, a flying emerald; there the lilies speckle
the stream with gold; there the tall willow-herb forms a pink-tinted
fringe to the river, and with its summer splendour alleviates our
regret for the many-coloured carpets which in spring-time overspread
the meadows.

[Illustration: THE LANDING-STAGE, RAY MEAD.]

Beyond Cliefden, where the plateau begins to slope more gently towards
the plain, the river is broken up, and its scenery is pleasantly varied
by a group of low islands densely clothed with willows. Boulter's lock
forms a new feature in the view. Near here is Taplow Court, which has
a most attractive garden. So also have smaller houses near the river;
even some mills, which would be tolerable but for their chimneys,
bedeck their bank-sides with flowers. To praise these villas would be
only to repeat a formula; enough to say that if passers by break the
tenth commandment in regard to these little arcadias, it is not for
want of temptation; indeed, a casuist might argue that the owners were
not morally justified in affording such an opportunity for coveting.
In extenuation, however, they might plead that they so much increased
the beauty of the river, and enhanced the general gratification,
that they might be forgiven for causing lapses in particular cases.
The guide-book states that the saloon of Taplow Court was built in
imitation of Kirkwall Cathedral. This must be a curiosity; it sounds
almost as attractive as a bedroom built in imitation of the catacombs.
For this, however, the present owners are not responsible. The house
was erected by the Earl of Orkney, one of the Duke of Marlborough's
companions in the great European wars.

[Illustration: TAPLOW WOODS.]

Now houses begin to thicken on the river bank, and boat-sheds are
dotted on the strand. The view of the landing-stage at Ray Mead will
give an idea of the appearance of this part of the Thames, when the
pleasant summer weather brings good times to the boatmen. Maidenhead
on the one hand, Taplow on the other, straggle--vaguely, in the latter
case--down to the riverside. The Thames is crossed first by the
seven-arched stone bridge that carries the high road; secondly, by
the single arch of brick, one of Brunel's bold designs, that supports
the Great Western Railway. The former has been for long the site of a
bridge across the Thames--at any rate, from a date prior to the reign
of Edward III. At this spot there was once some smart fighting, when
the Duke of Surrey, brother of Richard II., held the bridge against
Bolingbroke's troops all through one winter's night, so as to cover
the retreat of his friends, himself at last stealing away without
molestation. Except for this, and for being the place where Charles
I., when fortune had deserted him, met his children, after a long
separation, Maidenhead is nearly in the blessed condition of a place
that has no history. It has been asserted to derive its name from the
fact that the head of a British maiden, one of the eleven thousand
virgins martyred with St. Ursula, at Cologne, was kept here; but the
etymology is as legendary as the maiden, the true derivation being
Maiden hythe, as there was here a wharf, or "hythe," for timber in
olden times. The town is not in any way remarkable. Though its streets
are less busy than in the old days of stage-coaches and post-horses,
it has a well-to-do look, and there are not a few pleasant residences
in its outskirts; but it is very destitute of attractions for the
antiquarian. The parish church is modern, having been rebuilt about
sixty years since; but that of Boyne Hill will afford satisfaction to
those with whom the movement in favour of ritualistic development finds
favour, and as a work of the architect is far superior to churches
of the earlier part of the present century. The only building in
Maidenhead which carries us back to days earlier than the last century
is a block of almshouses, which, though plain, has a rather picturesque
appearance.

At the end of our journey we look back on a view, more artificial, but
hardly less pretty, than most of those which we have seen. Railways are
often deservedly execrated, but it may be doubted whether something
may not be forgiven to the Great Western for the singularly attractive
view which its bridge affords. The riverside between the two bridges
is occupied by well-built houses, with lovely gardens and shrubberies.
Green lawns, brightened with beds of flowers, groups of shady trees,
villa residences of not unpleasing design, and an island on the river,
combine to form a view that is not readily surpassed within an equal
distance from London.

  T. G. /Bonney/.



CHAPTER VI.

MAIDENHEAD TO WINDSOR.

    Maidenhead--Bray--Jesus Hospital--The Harbour of Refuge--Frederick
    Walker--A Boat-race--Monkey Island--The River--Surley Hall--Boveney
    Lock--Eton--Windsor--St. George's Chapel--The Castle--Mr. R. R.
    Holmes--James I.--Surrey--The Merry Wives of Windsor.


The next scene in our shifting panorama of the gentle river will be
the fair stretch of bank and stream which extends from picturesque
Maidenhead to the winding shore from which rise the proud towers of
Royal Windsor. From its source, at which a little bright spring bubbles
up with a low, softly singing sound, from amid stones and moss and
grass, until it becomes merged into the immensity of ship-bearing
ocean, our Thames, unhasting but unresting, flows for ever onward
between source and sea.

    "Thames! the most lov'd of all the Ocean's sons
    By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
    Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
    Like mortal life to meet eternity."

And Denham adds a wish--

    "O, could I flow like thee! and make thy stream
    My great example, as it is my theme;
    Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full."

One of the charms of Thames is, that the calm river "glideth at its
own sweet will." It is no straight-cut, level, mechanical Dutch canal;
but it winds and curves, it widens and it narrows, according to its
own caprice and delight. And then, through what scenery it wanders!
Locks are erected, in order artificially to check its full-flowing
stream; but then Thames subdues even locks to himself, and makes
them--especially the old wooden ones--singularly picturesque. Man is
sometimes too many for him, but Thames, when allowed to have his own
way, will tolerate nothing about him that is not lovely as himself.
I love to think of the dear old river through all the seasons, and
under all aspects. I fancy the sun-bright day, and then "the dark, the
silent stream" of evening, when the untrembling shadows are so deep and
full; when the belated boat is itself a creeping shade, hardly seen,
but regularly audible through the sound of its beating rowlocks, and
the splashing fall of its rowing oars. And who can ever forget the
cool freshness of the dewy summer morning, before the sun's "burning
eye" gleams upon the shining surface of the watery sheen? Then the
still, dusky stream becomes "clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;"
and then, perhaps, moonlight sleeps silverly upon flood and banks, on
trees, and on dreamy habitations of slumbering men. The back-waters are
then all mystery, the birds have all gone to roost; sleep and silence
rest upon the resting river, the peace of night is over all, and still
the gentle river glideth ever to the sea.

[Illustration: BRAY CHURCH.]

The Thames has, however, undergone one disastrous change. It has become
crowded, noisy, vulgar. Its beauties remain what they ever were; but
its character has deteriorated. Gone are the pure peace, the cool calm,
the tranquil seclusion which--say twenty years ago--rendered it the
most charming haunt of the lover of Nature, of the poet, too much in
populous city pent, who sought an alterative of mental repose in most
lovely and most quiet scenery. An aged ghost, restlessly revisiting
the _cari luoghi_, must often find a change, great and sad, in the old
places in which life was lived in love and joy; and he who knew the
tranquil Thames in the old time, long ago, must find, in its brawling
loudness of to-day, a change which renders sad the heart. I remember
it when there were no steam-launches. Now, Captain Jinks, of the
_Selfish_, too often troubles the water, as he, with his friends, enjoy
themselves on the pure river which they pollute with their presence,
and disturb with their rowdyism. I am credibly informed that one Sunday
no less than nine hundred pleasure-craft passed through Boulter's
Lock. To what secret ait can the river nymphs now fly for rest and
delicate delight? Yes, the dear old river is sadly changed indeed, and
our joy in it is lessened and lowered; but its own inherent loveliness
is almost unspoiled; and we have to console ourselves by thinking, with
Coleridge, that--

    "We receive but what we give,
    And in our life alone doth Nature live."

[Illustration: MAIDENHEAD TO WINDSOR.]

Shaking off dull thoughts, let us stand for a moment on Maidenhead
Bridge, which was built in 1772 by Sir Robert Taylor. Maidenhead, or
Maidenhithe, is now almost the central point of those pleasure-lovers
who frequent the Thames. Looking up to Boulter's Lock, which suggests
very pleasant memories of Mr. Gregory's charming picture of it, we
see on high the white mansion of Cliefden, embowered in a wealth of
thickly clustering noble woods, which slope downwards from hill crest
to river bank, and present a long sky-line composed of every shade of
ever-varying greenness. Nearer to us, on the right, rise from out the
thick leafage the turrets and spires of Taplow Court. On the left is
the ivied Bridge House; on the right the old hostelry, the well-known
"Orkney Arms." In the golden days of Mr. and Mrs. Skindle the house was
white, but it is now of brand-new flaring red-brick, thickly pointed.
Before us, where the channel slopes round towards the Lock, we see a
large ait of alders. Gardens, flowers, trees, adorn the land, while
the water is crowded with boats and punts. Looking towards Bray, the
view is spoiled by the railway bridge, which is a leading case of
engineering _versus_ the picturesque. The railway bridge need not,
however, mar our pleasure much, for shall we not soon row under it on
our way to Windsor?

And now our boat awaits us at Mr. Bond's landing-stage, and we will
start on our pleasant little smooth-water voyage. In a few moments we
float under that wide-arched railway bridge which had hidden Bray from
us; and we see on our right hand an old church tower rising apparently
from out a cluster of tall, gaunt, windy poplars. We must land at Bray.
The church has been severely restored, but it presents specimens of
the historical architectural sequence of Early English, of Decorated,
and of Perpendicular. It contains good brasses (particularly one of
Sir John Foxle and his two wives), which range in date between 1378
and 1594; and it is celebrated for its only too well-known vicar, who
enjoys all the popularity which attaches to comic baseness. Stone and
flint are largely used in this church; but we eagerly pass on from
the churchyard to seek the Jesus Hospital, founded in 1627 by William
Goddard, as a refuge for forty poor persons. This beneficent refuge is
a very picturesque quadrangle of one-storey brick almshouses, and the
quadrangle encloses garden plots planted with flowers. It seems to be
well maintained and well cared for.

But the Jesus Hospital has an interest which transcends its own
picturesqueness and exceeds almost its own value. It is the scene
selected by a young painter of genius--Frederick Walker--as a
suggestion for his noble picture, the "Harbour of Refuge." Ruskin says,
"A painter designs when he chooses some things, refuses others, and
arranges all;" and Walker has chosen to do away with the gardens, and
to fill up the quadrangle with a lawn, a statue, and a terrace. The old
chapel he rightly retains. He has sacrificed fact to the higher truth
of ideal art. Walker was emphatically not one of those many painters
who have mistaken their vocation. He was a true and an original artist.
He saw a poetical suggestion in this retreat for poverty and for age;
and in the tender sadness of summer evening after sunset he has placed
a mower, whose scythe, like that of Time, is sweeping down things ripe
for death. The night, in which no man can work, is about to fall; and
a few figures, chiefly of sad, of aged, worn-out men and women, are
waiting until the angel of Death shall gather them to deathless peace.
The sentiment, the poetry of the picture, are most touching. Scene
and hour are felicitously selected, and the humanity which belongs to
this pictorial drama is finely conceived. World-wearied, life-worn
creatures, old, weak, poor, and sad, with the flicker of faint life
just lingering tremblingly, are those on whom the painter has laid
stress. They stand upon the low, dark verge of life, the twilight of
eternal day; and soon, very soon, shall they relax their weak grasp
of life, and go hence, and be no more seen. Such was the idea that
dominated Walker, and he has realised his idea. There is infinite
pathos in this work of tender melancholy and of exquisite loveliness.
I saw the window from which the painter made his study of the place--a
study of fact which his genius afterwards so nobly idealised. As we row
away from Bray, my mind is full of the picture and of its painter; and
a reminiscence of my dead friend, the gentle artist, Walker, rises in
my thought: a reminiscence which will, I hope, fitly find a place here.

At the time during which Fred Walker was staying at Cookham I was
very frequently rowing on the river. A dear old friend, Mr. E. E.
Stahlschmidt, was my constant companion, and we were much in the
habit of using a light outrigged pair-oar, which was a fairly fast,
though rather a crank boat, and which could carry a sitter who could
or would sit still and steer. We were staying at the "Orkney Arms"
at Maidenhead, and Fred Walker inhabited a cottage at Cookham. It
was arranged one day that we were to row our boat from Maidenhead to
Cookham, and were there to take Walker on board, and then to row him to
Marlow and back. The day was one at the end of May in 1866. How well I
remember that row! It seems to me that the same sun is shining to-day
that shone upon that day, so vividly does the fair by-flown time come
back to me. We passed by the Cliefden Woods, by Formosa, and through
Cookham Lock, and then rowed down the narrow arm of water which is
opposite to Hedsor, and joins the main stream a little below Cookham
Bridge. No doubt as to whether Walker were ready. The slight, active
figure was dancing about with delight as he hailed us. He was full of
joy, was quivering with excitement. The day was warm and fine, but the
sky was grand with towering cumulus cloud-masses, which might change to
nimbus clouds, and then mean rain. We went ashore, and strolled about
the pretty, quiet, old village, looking at, amongst other things, the
churchyard in which the great painter who was that day so much alive
now rests in death.

At length we were ready for our voyage, and we entered the boat. Walker
was steering, I was pulling stroke, and my friend was bow. It happened
that while we were stopping at Cookham, a randan boat was also waiting
there to start. This boat put off just when we did, and when both boats
reached the broad, open water, the randan proposed a race to Marlow.

Both my friend and myself would have treated such a proposal for a
scratch race with extreme contempt; but not so our coxswain. His keen
nature always craved excitement, and he eagerly accepted the randan's
challenge. I told him that it was all nonsense, and not worth doing;
but race he would. I then warned him that a race to Marlow was a long
one, and that I should pull a slow stroke, so that he must not be
surprised if the other boat got a long way ahead. I knew that my bow
could pull steadily any stroke that was set him. We were both rowing a
good deal at that time, and were in decent training. The preposterous
race commenced; a thing that would have been comic, but for the intense
eagerness and feverish excitement of our eminent but nervous little
coxswain. His eyes grew large, he breathed short, his face was pale.
If something of moment had depended upon the race he could not have
been more in earnest. One annoying result of his mental condition was,
that he kicked and stamped about, and rocked the boat. I cautioned, and
entreated him to sit quietly; but I preferred a request with which he
could only with difficulty comply.

As I expected, the randan started pulling with all its might; and soon
went away from us. Poor Walker was in despair. He saw the other boat
apparently gaining fast, and he was seized with twitchings. In a voice
weak with anguish, he implored us to "wire up, you fellows; wire up!
Oh, you don't know how far they're getting ahead. For Heaven's sake,
pull all you know!" He was depressed and dismayed, and was really
unhappy. I could not talk much, I could only growl out an occasional
adjuration to "be quiet!" an injunction with which he complied the
better because he thought that we were losing fast. I continued pulling
very steadily a long stroke of about twenty-nine, and was well backed
up. The other boat still went ahead, and poor despondent Walker was
almost in tears.

[Illustration: SURLEY.]

A mile or more is traversed, and I begin to fancy that I can hear the
rowing of the other boat. Presently Walker's frantic joy tells us that
we are gaining upon them, and he urges us to furious exertions. Of his
counsels we took no notice, but pulled steadily the old, long stroke.
Then we began to draw level with the antagonist, and soon I saw a bit
of the boat. We never looked up or altered the stroke; but Walker
chortled aloud, and could not restrain some expressions of exulting and
emotional _persiflage_. We tried in vain to dissuade him. He was too
excitable for such self-repression. At length I found my oar pulling
level with the scull of the randan, and a little later I was up to
the bow oar. The randan put on a spurt, but we drew quietly away,
and had passed them when the boats were a couple of miles from home.
Walker's triumph was irrepressible; his laughter was long and loud,
and I thought that he would have tumbled overboard. He _would_ mock
at the other boat. When we were well clear of the randan, I saw that
they were pumped out, and were splashing wildly. No further danger from
them. We increased our distance gradually, passed through the lock,
and had finished our luncheon at the "Compleat Anglers" before the
defeated randan arrived. During our meal, we were looking at the scene
of Walker's delicious picture, the "Marlow Ferry." He was delightedly
elated at the result of the little race--kept talking about it with the
eagerness of a happy child, and admitted gleefully how efficient the
long, quiet stroke was, especially in a hard four-mile pull against
stream. He was happy that day.

[Illustration: BOVENEY LOCK.]

Afterwards we walked out along the banks which look on Bisham Woods.
Then the born painter forgot the race, and became absorbed in his
deep, reverent love of nature. Supporting his chin upon his hands,
he lay down on the warm, dry turf, and his large eyes dilated as he
gazed, with inner rapture, upon that lovely scene, glowing in the light
of such a perfect sunny day. He had no gift of expression--except
with the brush in his skilful hand. He could never find expression
in words. I remember hearing him murmur then, as he gazed long and
lovingly upon a calm beauty that he could feel so well, "Opalescent!"
That was all he said; but his spirit had drunk in the joy, the peace,
the glory of the scene and time. He was probably seeing a picture;
though he did not lean to painting full sunlight. His cheek even then
was hollow; his large eyes were dangerously bright; his whole aspect
expressed his ambition, his self-consuming art-soul, his terribly if
exquisitely-strung nervous system, and fatally excitable temperament.
We did not then foresee that the frail frame, so sensitive and
delicate, would fail so sadly and so soon. His was, indeed--

    "A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
    Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
    And o'erinformed the tenement of clay."

Now, by the sweet banks of the fair river that he loved so well, the
gentle and gifted painter sleeps his last sleep beneath the shadow of
the old Cookham church tower. The Thames is all the dearer to those
who have often seen it with Frederick Walker. A sacred memory is
blended with the river's loveliness.

We rowed him back that day to Maidenhead, and afterwards to Cookham.
For some time after he spoke often, and spoke joyously, of the little
scratch race which I have now endeavoured, with a sad, yet soft regret,
to recall to my own recollection, and to bring to the sympathetic
knowledge of my readers. Those who knew the man will ever love him;
those that did not know him personally may well love the ardent,
strenuous painter for the sake of his pure and gentle art.

The Thames, following Sheridan's advice, flows ever between its
banks--and then what banks they are! As our boat glides along the
sliding stream, we pass by many a fair and stately home of ancient
peace; we pass many a smooth lawn and garden gay with flowers; we pass
by rushes, willows, aits; we pass noble woods, and full meadows in
which the rich grass is studded with white and yellow flowers, while
sunlight is softly speckled by the calm shadows of lofty, feathery
elms. The tall elms have thick clusters of foliage glowing in sunshine,
and beneath these bright leaf-clumps sleep deep hollows of soft shade.
Yes, our Thames is emphatically a summer stream. We row by reeds, the
home of swans, the haunt of moor-hens; by islets which bear alders,
osiers, weeds, and rushes. Reflected in the water is the purple colour
of the wild foxglove, while the many bank flowers are interspersed with
meadow-sweet, with loose-strife, and with broad dock-leaves. On the
shining surface of the bright, calm water float lovely lilies, white
or yellow, which are connected by long, wavy stems with roots which
hold firmly to the ground at the very bottom of the river. We pass the
turbulent mill-stream, and the foam-fretted weir; we see picturesque
eel-bucks and shady backwaters. We wind and curve with the ever wayward
flood, and we find but few stretches which fail of beauty or are
wanting in peace. The Thames is the chosen haunt, too, of pleasant
painters and of pretty women; and to this choice combination the
grateful stream lends a charm as great as that which it receives from
such artists and such girls. Truly, our Thames is almost too fair to be
looked upon except on holidays.

Following the law of natural or elective affinities, fair women are
attracted by the fair river. I think that I never was upon the Thames
without seeing some specimen, or specimens, of female loveliness and
grace. Pretty girls belong as naturally as the swans do to our Thames.
It is a singular fact that natural objects of great charm allure to
themselves suitable women. Art does not, as a rule, draw to itself
much feminine youth and charm; but the Thames emphatically does so.
Look at that boat which we have just passed. What loveliness and love
in those two young, graceful girls who are being rowed, while one of
them--the one in the boating hat--steers. What eyes those were which
they rested for a moment upon our passing craft! Which do you prefer?
the one in the blue serge frock, or the taller one in the white robe?
I don't know; I could not decide; but I do know that we shall probably
meet with more distracting charmers before our little voyage shall
cease. Girls often steer very well, and sometimes they row, especially
with light sculls, very admirably. I have known pretty young ladies
who sculled deliciously, and who lent to the exercise a distinctively
feminine skill and grace.

The Thames is essentially a summer river; always with the reserve
of the delight of the sad and splendid hues of autumn in the woods.
The aspect under which the river shows to least advantage is that of
a bleak, grey day, when a coarse, cold, blusterous wind is blowing
loudly. Like a pretty woman, the fair Thames should never have its
surface serenity disfigured by passionate turbulence or wrinkled by
debasing anger. A rough, cruel wind disturbs the characteristics, and
distorts the appearance of the pure silver stream. The gentle, peaceful
river should ever be smiling and be calm. There is less objection
to the sullen grandeur of a heavy storm, dark with thunder, squally
with rain, while a gust of fierce wind sweeps beneath the sombre
cloud-heaps, and lashes up the troubled water. Yet the Thames should
preserve a chaste and delicate quiet. Sunny stillness, the majesty
of soft repose, are its true characteristics. In brutal, cheerless
weather, it looks like a fair face degraded by ignoble pain. Its sweet
essence should not be outraged by vulgar fury.

Now, just as we come to Monkey Island, a hush falls upon the sunshine,
a soft shade overspreads the heavens; and a summer shower, dinting the
glassy surface of the water with dimpling rain-drops, falls gently,
and ceases soon. Shine out, fair sun! And so it does again, till joy
returns with sunlight and with warmth. "Man's delight in God's works"
can find rapture in nearly every phase of nature. Monkey Island is an
inn built upon an islet. It comprises a pavilion erected by the third
Duke of Marlborough, in which certain monkeys are cleverly depicted by
one Clermont. We need not land there to-day.

Our boat floats ever downward with the stream, and we pass Down
Place, Oakley, the Fisheries, until we reach Surley Hall, an inn
much frequented by Eton boys, who come here for refreshment at that
happy age in which it is possible to lunch off olives and toffee. The
river, at this part of it, is not distinctively beautiful. Soon the
channel is bifurcated, one arm, over which is written the ominous
warning, "_Danger_," leading to the Weir, while the other arm conducts
to Boveney Lock. Once through this lock, and we are in the region of
Eton and of Windsor. Eton Chapel is on our left, while before us,
growing greater as we near it, Windsor Castle rises upon the sight in
ever grander proportions. Eton is the swimming and rowing school, and
we are passing the Brocas and those memorable playing-fields which
have trained so many boys into men of mark and leading. We will halt
for just a glimpse of Eton, and will stroll through the picturesque
quadrangles of noble fifteenth century brickwork; will glance at the
stone chapel; at the hall, library, and masters' houses; thinking
of Henry VI., who, in 1441, founded Eton, after having studied the
statutes of William of Wykeham at Winchester. Eton is no longer a
school for indigent scholars, as it was meant to be, and was, when
William of Waynflete was its first master. But we cannot linger long
at Eton, and we shall see again the chapel from the North Terrace of
Windsor Castle. Let us re-embark. Our voyage is nearly over. Already
the landing-place at Windsor; and lo! the great castle towers just
above us.

Windsor Castle is the noblest regal pile, the most splendid palace
castle in Europe; but it is seen to the best advantage when regarded
from a distance, and contemplated in its totality. Perhaps the grand,
irregular castle, which is perched upon a height, looks finest when
seen from below; and the towering mass of royal buildings certainly
appears at its best when seen from afar. There is no finer view than
that from the river. When the castle is seen from within, and when
its detail is looked at closely, there is much that is disappointing;
and the chief architectural blot is the abominable restoration of Sir
Jeffrey Wyattville, who was the architect of George IV. and of William
IV. Wyattville is credited with some respect for the interior, but his
external architecture is wofully bad. He has made the great quadrangle
in the Upper Ward a most dreary thing. His uniform, conventional Gothic
is mean and ugly in the extreme; and Wyattville adopted the hateful
system of pointing his stones with black mortar. For an illustration of
the bad effect of this evil work, it is sufficient to compare any of
Wyattville's restored towers with the recently and well-restored Clewer
or Curfew tower, in which white mortar is used, so that the stones
are not cut off into squares set in black borders. It were devoutly
to be wished that a competent Gothic architect should get rid of the
traces of Wyattville's fatal work. The cost would be great, but no
expense could be too heavy for restoring such an historical building to
architectural beauty and value.

On my visit to Windsor--a visit made for the purposes of this
article--I had the singular advantage of being conducted over the
castle by my friend, Mr. R. R. Holmes, Her Majesty's librarian. This
courteous and cultured gentleman has in the royal library curious old
plans of the castle in various stages of its creation; and no one can
speak with more authority about the great palace which Mr. Holmes loves
so well and knows so thoroughly. I cannot too strongly express my
gratitude to him for his invaluable assistance, so pleasantly rendered.

It is, of course, impossible in these narrow limits to present any
complete picture of Royal Windsor. Such a subject cannot be exhausted
in such an article. I can only suggest a few points of interest, and
merely endeavour to place those readers who may visit the Thames in
my wake in a position to obtain some hint and glimpse of part of the
romance, at least, of our most royal castle.

Windsor is associated with the records of all the reigns since the
Conquest. Its annals cover the Court life of all the centuries since
the Norman came to rule in England. It is linked with all our history,
and old as it is, it is ever young with the glow and poetry of romance.
The Saxon kings had a palace at Old Windsor, and Edward the Confessor
kept his Court there, but the site of that old royal dwelling cannot
now with certainty be determined. William the Norman moved to New
Windsor, but there is nothing visible in the present castle of an
earlier date than Henry II. The ancient entrance, with the sheath of
its portcullis plainly visible, shows clear traces of Henry II.'s work.

[Illustration: WINDSOR CASTLE. FROM ROMNEY LOCK.]

The great royal builders at Windsor whose works follow them, and are
still extant, are Henry II., III., Edward III., IV., Henry VII., VIII.,
and Queen Elizabeth, who was the foundress of the splendid North
Terrace. All Charles II.'s work has been swept away by that Wyattville
who did so much disastrous "restoration" for George IV. and William
IV. In Windsor was founded by Edward III., 1348, that noble and royal
Order of the Garter which sprang from a king's chivalrous homage to
a pure and lovely lady. William of Wykeham was, in 1356, surveyor of
the king's works, and dwelt in that Winchester tower which has been
so sorely spoiled by Wyattville; and Chaucer, also under Edward III.,
was "clerk of the repairs" at Windsor. One loves to fancy the sweet,
cheerful old poet riding, on some fair and fresh May morning, through
the royal park, while birds were singing and May blooms blossoming,
looking lovingly at nature, his lips wreathed with a serene and sunny
smile. Chaucer would, I think, ride gently on an ambling palfrey in
preference to backing a mettled steed. One likes dearly to connect
images of Chaucer and of Shakspeare with Windsor Park.

The St. George's Chapel is an ideal chapel for such a palace-castle
as Windsor. It is at once sumptuous and romantic, picturesque and
full of colour. It is a chapel for kings and knights; especially for
kings who were also knights and warriors. It is also the royal chapel
for the kingly Order of the Garter. The Choir is fitted up with the
stalls of the members of the Order, and above each stall hang banners,
helmets, crests, and swords. The chapel was built by Edward IV., and
was commenced in 1472, the architects being Bishop Beauchamp and Sir
Reginald Bray. All such old ecclesiastical edifices are sacred to the
dead as well as precious to the living. Beneath the feet of those who
worship there to-day rests the dust of kings; of those who, in by-past
times, worshipped also here while they were in the land of the living.
The tomb of the founder, Edward IV., is here; and the chapel covers the
graves of Henry VI., Henry VIII., Jane Seymour, and of Charles I. In
1813 the grave of Charles was opened, and the few who looked upon the
remains of the beheaded king could easily recognise the face and form
of Charles Stuart. Every visitor to Windsor is, however, sure to see
St. George's Chapel; and true it is, of this building, "that things
seen are mightier than things heard." We leave our readers to the
delight of seeing this poetically regal chapel.

John, King of France, taken at Crécy, David II. of Scotland, captured
at Neville's Cross, were prisoners of state at Windsor, and were
probably immured in the King John's tower; but the romance of
imprisonment in the castle centres round two other figures, to which it
seems worth while to devote some little space.

Two romances of chivalry and captivity are intimately connected with
Windsor. One is that of a king, the other that of an earl. The king
is James I. of Scotland, the earl is Surrey. After the murder, by
starvation, of his eldest son, the Duke of Rothsay, Robert III. was
minded to save and to educate his second son, James, by sending the
youth to France. The Scottish ship was captured by English vessels
off Flamborough Head, and the young prince was taken prisoner. This
occurred on the 13th of March, 1405. King Henry said, "his father was
sending him to learn French. By my troth! he might as well have sent
him to me. I am myself an excellent French scholar, and will see to his
instruction."

[Illustration: ST. GEORGE'S CHAPEL, WINDSOR.]

And so began a gentle and generous captivity, which was certainly of
advantage to the poet king. The prince was provided with masters, and
had every luxury and indulgence. James was trained in all arts and
arms, became a scholar and a cavalier, and benefited by contact with
culture and civilisation.

While at Windsor, love came to James in a shape of singular romance and
charm, and he lived actually the adventure which Chaucer had devised
for his Palamon and Arcite. The fair Emilie was doing observance to
May, and so--

    "She romid up and down, and as she liste
    She gathrith flouris party white and rede,
    To make a sotill garlande for her hede;
    And as an aungel hevynly she song."

The "grete Tour, that was so thik and strong" was, we hear, "evyne
joynaunt to the gardyn wall;" and Emilie was walking and singing in
the garden, while the imprisoned Palamon gazed from his high dungeon
window in the tower,

    "And so befell by aventure or caas,
    That through a window, thik of many a bar
    Of iron grete, and square as any spar,
    He cast his eyin on Emilia;
    And therewithall he blent, and cryid A!
    As though he stongin were unto the herte."

Then Arcite gazes from the same window--

    "And with that sight her beauty hurt him so,
    That, if that Palamon was wounded sore,
    Arcit was hurt as much as he, or more."

So far a royal poet's fancy. Now take a kingly fact; the fact being
also told in song--

    "Now there was maid fast by the Touris wall
      A gardyn faire, and in the corneris set,
    Ane herbere greene, with wandis long and small
      Railit about, and so with treeis set
      Was all the place, and hawthorne hegis knet.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

    "And therew^t kest I doun myn eye ageyne,
      Quhare as I saw walkyng under the toure,
    Full secretely, new cumyn hir to pleyne,
      The fairest or the freschest zoung floure
      That ever I sawe, methot before that houre,
    For quhick sodayne abate, anon astert,
    The blude of all my bodie to my hert.

    "And though I stode abaiset tho a lyte,
      No wonder was; for quhy? my wittes all
    Were so ouercome wt pleasaunce and delyte,
      Only through letting of myn eyen fall,
      That sudaynly my hert became hir thrall
    For ever, of free wyll; for of menace
    There was no tokyn in hir suete face."

Then follows a young poet's lovely and rapturous description of the
fair vision, who was, indeed, the Lady Jane, or Johanna Beaufort,
daughter of John, Earl of Somerset, and granddaughter of John of Gaunt.

Their loves prospered, as they deserved to do, and James married Lady
Jane, at Windsor; the hero of Agincourt being then our king. James was
crowned King of Scotland in 1424, and the lovely lady that he loved so
well was his Queen.

In 1437, at the Abbey of Black Friars at Perth, James, who strove in
vain to rule his turbulent and brutal nobles, was murdered by Sir
Robert Graham; what time the heroic Catherine Douglas tried to bar the
door against murder, and had her fair arm broken, while the brave and
loving Queen was wounded by the assassins.

Surely this royal love romance may give us sweet and tender fancies as
we gaze upon the gardens and the towers of Royal Windsor. The story is
a true Thames episode.

We may glance for a moment at another noble captive in Windsor--at the
Earl of Surrey, likewise a poet; and, indeed, the poet who was the
first writer of English blank verse. Impetuous of temper, heady of
will, the gallant Surrey developed a lawless ambition which, on the
21st of January, 1547, led him to the Tower block. He was, says Mr.
Robert Bell, "formed out of the best elements of the age, and combined
more happily, and with a purer lustre than any of his contemporaries,
all the attributes of that compound, and, to us, almost fabulous
character, in which the noblest qualities of chivalry were blended with
the graces of learning and a cultivated taste. It might be said of him
that he united in his own person the characteristics of Bayard and of
Petrarch;" and yet all these fine qualities led only to the scaffold.

Surrey is connected with Windsor because he was educated and spent his
youth there, together with the Duke of Richmond, base son of Henry
VIII., who married Surrey's sister; and, further, because, in his day
of misfortune, he became a sad prisoner in the castle in which he had
spent so many joyous youthful days. Surrey was contracted when he was
sixteen, and was only twenty when he became a father. He married, in
1535, the Lady Frances Vere, daughter of John, Earl of Oxford; but
romance links his name for ever with that of the fair Geraldine, who
was the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, ninth Earl of
Kildare, and of Margaret, daughter of Thomas Gray, Marquis of Dorset.

Geraldine, when Surrey died at the age of thirty, was but nineteen
years of age. It was the fashion of that day for gallants to wear the
sleeve of a mistress of the imagination; and Surrey's passion for the
fair young girl was probably fantastic and partly feigned. The fair
child was an adopted ideal of a knightly poet's passion. In the only
one of Surrey's poems in which he speaks openly of her, he says:--

    "From Tuscane came my lady's worthy race;
      Fair Florence was sometime their ancient seat.
    The western isle whose pleasant shore doth face
      Wild Camber's cliffs, did give her lively heat.
    Fostered she was with milk of Irish breast:
      Her sire an earl; her dame of prince's blood.
    From tender years, in Britain doth she rest,
      With kinges child; when she tasteth costly food.
    Hunsdon did first present her to mine eyen;
      Bright is her hue, and Geraldine she hight.
    Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine;
      Windsor, alas! doth chase me from her sight.
    Her beauty of kind; her virtues from above;
    Happy is he that can obtain her love!"

The Lady Elizabeth was one of the ladies in attendance on Mary Tudor,
and Surrey probably went with the Duke of Richmond to Hunsdon, there to
visit the Lady Mary; and on that visit he first saw Geraldine. Later,
when a captive, Surrey sings--

    "So cruell prison howe could betide, alas,
      As proude Windsor, where I in lust and joye,
    With a kinges son my chyldysh years did pass,
      In greater feast than Priam's sonnes of Troy."

The contrast was indeed cruel between Windsor as a palace and Windsor
as a prison. Scott, like a true poet, lays hold of the romance of
Surrey's reputed love for Geraldine, and entrusts to "Fitztraver of
the Silver Song" that almost matchless ballad which tells how the wise
Cornelius, across the ocean grim, showed to the gallant Surrey the
vision of the peerless Geraldine. Who, asks Walter Scott--

    "Who has not heard of Surrey's fame?
      His was the hero's soul of fire,
    And his the bard's immortal name,
    And his was love, exalted high
    By all the glow of chivalry."

Our fancies are stirred, as we gaze on proud Windsor, by the thought of
Surrey.

What a view it is from the round and regal tower, over which, when our
loved and honoured Queen is in state residence, floats our "glorious
Semper Eadem, the banner of our pride!" Let us mount with our artist to
the summit of the keep. The view is wide and winsome. Surely earth has
not many things to show more fair, though the prospect is distinguished
rather for soft beauty and placid loveliness than for grandeur or for
wildness. I have stood on the summits of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn,
and of many another Alpine peak, and know well that there are outlooks
in nature more sublime, more austere, more soul-stirring; but yet
this English landscape (which includes twelve fair counties), so
peaceful, soft, and smiling, has its own distinctive charm. The bright
river, gleaming in sunlight, winds and stretches far through all the
calm scene. There stand stately English trees; and the view includes
broad green meadows, hedgerows, low, gentle hills in the far purple
distance. It is a typical English landscape scene; and then over all
there is to-day the splendour of a serene summer sky, and the glory of
fantastic, sunlit cloud masses.

I took a great interest in finding out the exact sites of the
imprisonment of those two noble and romantic captives who suffered
imprisonment here. Kings John and David were, as we have seen, probably
immured in the King John's tower, which is a prison. The Round Tower,
as Mr. Holmes points out, never was a prison, though a wooden pillar
is (if you ask for it) absurdly shown as the one to which Prince James
was chained. The prince chained! Why, his was an honourable and a most
gentle captivity. He was rather guest and pupil than prisoner; and
Mr. Holmes leads, with no uncertain step, to a chamber (now used as
a bedroom) in the second floor of Edward III.'s tower, which was the
room of the prince, and in which is still the window from which the
poet-prince looked into the garden--not now existing in its former
state--and saw the Lady Jane. This point may be considered as set at
rest: and it is very pleasant to be able to identify James's chamber,
to look out of his window, and to see, with the eye of imagination, the
fair sight that he saw in the garden beneath. Of the place of Surrey's
captivity no record or tradition remains, but the ambitious earl, who
strained after the crown, was surely held in more rigid confinement
than was James. Surrey was possibly immured in the King John tower.
And now we leave the castle; but before we quit Windsor we will stroll
into the park, and try to summon up some fair fancies connected with
Shakspeare and with Elizabeth.

It is a charming legend--even if it be only a legend--which tells
us that Queen Elizabeth (_El Iza Beata_) when at Windsor, commanded
Shakspeare to write a play in which Falstaff would be shown in
love--that is, in such "love" as he was capable of--and that the
result of the royal order was the _Merry Wives_, surely the most
genial, and the fullest of human humours, of all comedies. It seems
certain that the first version of this "most pleasaunt and excellent
conceited comedie" was written very rapidly, because the second version
is so much longer, and differs so widely from the earlier play. In
consequence of the prevalence of the Plague in London, the Court, in
1593, lay long at Windsor, and there can be little doubt that the first
version of the play was commissioned and acted at Windsor in that year.
It is a delightful theme for the imagination to picture a sunny morning
on which the royal cavalcade rode through Windsor Park. Essex and
Southampton were there; and Shakspeare, no doubt, rode, for a time at
least, by the bridle of great Elizabeth. The words then spoken between
queen and poet we cannot recall; but as we read the lovable _Merry
Wives_, we enjoy some of the results of the conversation. So genial
is the comedy that even Sir John's base humours do not excite moral
indignation. He fails so hugely. Beaten, baffled, and befooled, the
merry but honest wives have the laugh of him, and we feel the spirit of
the pleasant jest when Mrs. Page proposes to

    "Laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
    Sir John and all."

We fill in fancy some street in Windsor with those quaint old gabled
houses, set in fair gardens, in one of which Master Page, in another
Master Ford, lived; and can reconstruct the "Garter" Inn;[5] we see the
fields near Windsor in which the mock duel does not come off, and we
can imagine to ourselves the farmhouse near Frogmore at which pretty
Mistress Anne Page was feasting. We can follow the basket of washing
to the "whitsters in Datchet Mead," and can almost recognise the muddy
ditch by the Thames into which the unchaste knight was thrown. As
regards the question whether the date of the play be the time of the
wild Prince and Poins, or the contemporary day of great Elizabeth,
one little passage makes the point clear. When Falstaff wants to use
the chimney as a hiding-place, Mrs. Page says, that they always use
to discharge their birding-pieces up the chimney. Now, in the days
of Henry IV., there were no "birding-pieces," while the part country
gentleman, part opulent burgher of Elizabeth's time, especially in such
a place as Windsor, would possess a fowling-piece. The old characters
of Pistol, Bardolph, Nym, are only used because they seem to be the
natural hangers-on of Falstaff; and we may safely assume that we are
reading, or seeing, a comedy of manners belonging to Shakspeare's own
day.

Did the Queen, Shakspeare, and the Court ride by that oak of Herne the
hunter, who was

    "Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest"?

Round that oak, in Windsor Park, occurred the last revenge of the merry
wives, after which foul old Sir John is bidden to

    "Serve God, and leave your desires, and fairies will not pinse you."

We may enjoy a most delightful time of fair fancies in Windsor forest
while we think of those

          "Spirits, which by mine art
    I have from their confines call'd to enact
    My present fancies;"

and the charming crowd of characters in the dear _Merry Wives_ fade
like an insubstantial vision, as we unwillingly leave our ramble in the
park, and saunter down, with imaginations sweetly and subtly stirred,
to our waiting boat. It is good to leave Windsor with minds filled with
creations of our Shakspeare in his sweetest and his gentlest mood.

  /H. Schütz Wilson/.



[Illustration: PROCESSION OF THE BOATS, ETON.]


CHAPTER VII.

WINDSOR TO HAMPTON COURT.

    Leaving Windsor--Eton, its History and its Worthies--The College
    Buildings--Windsor Park--The Long Walk--The Albert Bridge--Datchet
    and Falstaff--Old Windsor--"Perdita's" Grave--The Tapestry
    Works--The "Bells of Ouseley"--Riverside Inns--The Loves of
    Harry and Anne Boleyn--Magna Charter Island--Runnymede--The
    Poet of Cooper's Hill--Fish at Bell Weir--A Neglected
    Dainty--Egham and Staines--John Emery--Penton Hook--Laleham--Dr.
    Arnold--Chertsey--The Lock and Bridge--Albert Smith and his
    Brother--Chertsey Abbey--Black Cherry Fair--Cowley the Poet--A
    Scene from "Oliver Twist"--St. Ann's Hill--Weybridge--Oaklands
    and the Grotto--Shepperton Lock and Ferry--Halliford--Walton--The
    Scold's Bridle--Sunbury--Hampton--Moulsey Hurst and its Sporting
    Associations--Hampton Court Bridge.


The course of the beautiful river as it glides onward from Windsor
to Hampton might provoke many a quaint historical conceit, as other
rivers have done less aptly. We drift on the tide of Thames, as on
the tide of Time, away from the Norman to the Plantagenet, from
the Plantagenet to the Tudor; and it is the life of England that
we can scan as the waters flow past scenes which, through all the
mutations of the ages, through all the seasons' difference, year after
year, are ever freshly, strongly, characteristically English. From
the Conqueror's steep-throned stronghold; past the ait and meadow
associated deathlessly with the solemn declaration that "no freeman
shall be seized, or imprisoned, or dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any
way destroyed"--"nor condemned, nor committed, to prison excepting by
the legal judgment of his peers or by the laws of the land;" past more
than one memorial of the mild king whose piety and love of learning
founded Eton College; and still onward, far onward, along the fluvial
current of history, till we reach the stately and substantial record
of another and a later Henry, last of that royal name, and opposite in
all respects of character, temperament, and will to the weak and gentle
Plantagenet. From Windsor, then, and from Eton's distant spires; from
the playing-fields, the bathing-places, the Brocas, and Firework Eyot;
from the fisheries, too, which exist on the same spots they occupied
eight hundred years ago--for wherever a fishery or a mill is named in
Domesday Book, there it will generally be found, as of yore--we turn
reluctantly, and not until a lingering look has been cast back on the
old familiar scenes. Our way is on the river, or by its side, the
towing-path being a track which pedestrians may follow with pleasant
ease. But here and there the land may win us astray; and at the very
commencement of our jaunt there is more to interest us ashore than
afloat. Not that the river hereabout lessens in charm. On the contrary,
its winding beauty is almost at its height. But that very beauty half
depends on prospects which lead our thoughts inland; and inland we must
consent, therefore, to be led.

Eton is a well-worn theme--but can never be outworn! The Royal College
of the Blessed Virgin, whose assumption is depicted in the centre
of the collegiate seal, was founded in the year 1440, after Henry's
visit to Winchester, whence came Eton's first head-master, William of
Waynflete. "It was high time," says Fuller, "some school should be
founded, considering how low grammar-learning then ran in the land."
The original endowments were for "ten sad priests, four lay clerks,
six choristers, twenty-five poor grammar-scholars, and twenty-five
poor men to pray for the king." There are now on the foundation a
provost, vice-provost, six fellows, three conducts, seventy king's
scholars, ten clerks, and twelve choristers. Beside these, there are
above seven hundred scholars--Oppidans--who are not on the foundation.
One of the masters of Eton College is illustrious through all time in
which the English language is studied, as the writer of our earliest
comedy, or the earliest which has come down intact to modern days.
Not later than 1551, as critics and scholars are mostly agreed, did
Nicholas Udall write his "Ralph Roister-Doister," which, in plot and
dialogue, is immensely superior to John Still's "Gammer Gurton's
Needle," supposed to have been written a few years--perhaps as many
as fourteen--afterwards. The greatest of literary rarities in the
library of Eton College is a copy of Master Nicholas Udall's right
merry conceit, which is divided, in what would be considered as
modern orthodox form, into five acts; is constructed with comic art
of uncommon excellence; contains thirteen characters, some of them
powerfully and distinctly marked; and exhibits the manners of the
middle order of people at that day, the scene being laid in London. All
that we can reasonably guess concerning Nicholas Udall as a teacher
of youth is, that he was one to help in setting that early example
of severity which was long afterwards followed as a sacred tradition
of public-school custom and discipline. Perhaps he had, according to
custom of his time, a whipping-boy, or puerile scapegoat, to take on
his back the sins of happier pupils. But it is more likely that Master
Udall swished without favour all round. Thomas Tusser, who wrote the
didactic poem, "Five Hundreth Points of Good Husbandrie," was one of
Udall's scholars, and gives hard report of him as a most exacting
master. It is somewhat remarkable that the first two writers of comic
drama in the language should both have been schoolmasters. John Still,
author of the piece of low rustic humour before mentioned, of which
the dramatic point is that of the needle itself, found by Gammer
Gurton's man, Hodge, in a manner equally startling and climacteric, was
master of St. John's and Trinity Colleges, Cambridge, and afterwards
Chancellor of the University, and Bishop of Bath and Wells. One of the
best things in "Gammer Gurton's Needle" is a song, the well-known--

    "I cannot eat but little meat."

Professor Craik was inclined to opinion that "Ralph Roister-Doister"
was the later of the two "farcical comedies," as they would now be
called.

Men of the world, active in social affairs, as well as clerkly and
diligent in the conduct of the school, were some of the earlier
provosts and masters. Roger Lupton, whose rebus, the uncouth syllable,
LUP, surmounting a tun, is carved over the door of the little chantry
which contains his tomb, built the great tower and gateway, when he
was provost in Henry VII.'s time and later. Sir Thomas Smith was a
Secretary of State and a well-known diplomatist in the reigns of
Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth. Sir Henry Wotton was
conspicuous both as a writer and a statesman, having been an ambassador
of James I.; nor is it necessary to say that as an angler he was
the companion of Izaak Walton, by whom he was beloved and praised,
notably as an "undervaluer of money." Francis Rouse, Speaker of the
Barebones Parliament, saved Eton from confiscation, and founded three
scholarships. All these men might have been famed in other paths than
those of learning had they never seen the college they influenced and
benefited. Other illustrious provosts and head-masters, though not so
versatile as to have influenced worldly affairs and the state of the
nation in any direct way, or to have written freely and jovially for
the "inglorious stage," have left a mark on their time which is more
than merely scholastic. Such were Sir Henry Savile, reader to Queen
Elizabeth, and one of the greatest scholars of her learned reign;
Thomas Murray, tutor and secretary to Prince Charles; Dr. Steward,
clerk of the closet to that prince after his accession to the throne;
Nicholas Monk, brother of the Duke of Albemarle, and sometime Bishop of
Hereford; Richard Allestree, Canon of Christchurch, who built the Upper
School; and the late Dr. Hawtrey, famed for his elegant scholarship
as well as for his success as head-master. The "ever memorable" John
Hales (whose name, brilliant at one time as that of a keen theological
controversialist, might in this age be forgotten but for Milton's
well-known sonnet), Bishop Pearson, Bishop Fleetwood, Earl Camden,
Dean Stanhope, Sir Robert Walpole, Sir William Draper, and Archbishop
Longley were all, as boys, on the foundation of Eton College; and
other celebrities educated there--some of their names carved on the
old wainscoting--were Edmund Waller, Harley, Earl of Oxford, Lord
Bolingbroke, the great Earl of Chatham, Lord Lyttelton, Thomas Gray,
Horace Walpole, Wyndham, Fox, Canning, Henry Fielding, Admiral Lord
Howe, the Marquis Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, and Henry Hallam.

[Illustration: ETON, FROM THE PLAYING-FIELDS.]

In the notes to Collier's map of Windsor, published in 1742, an
etymology is assigned to Eton which is not clearly demonstrated, if,
indeed, it be demonstrable. "Eton," we read, "is so called from its low
situation among the waters; for Eton is the same as Watertown, but,
as they are running waters, and it is a gravelly soil, it is observed
that no place is more healthy than this." Few buildings, indeed, are
more happily situated than this venerable pile of old red-brown brick
and Caen stone, marked by the characteristic architecture of three
centuries. The old part of the college, begun in 1441 and finished
in 1523, consists of two quadrangles, in one of which are the chapel
and school, with the dormitories of the foundation-scholars, while
the other contains the library, provost's house, and lodgings of
the fellows. It is, of course, the chapel--a fine example of early
Perpendicular, resembling in outline King's College Chapel, at
Cambridge--that gives dignity and distinction to all pictures of the
place, from whichsoever point you take your view. The spires of this
beautiful structure are those which "crown the watery glade," and are
conspicuous above the quaint turrets of the surrounding buildings
seen from afar. Many are the views of Eton which are commended, each
as being the best, by different persons. The curving railway-run from
Slough gives a continuous succession of changes not to be despised;
but undoubtedly the riverside is best. Gray's distant prospect was
from the north terrace of Windsor Castle. Mr. David Law chose Romney
Island for his standpoint when he made the sketch for one of his finest
etchings. But in truth the buildings group well everywhere, as they are
seen from a distance; the crowning glory being always the pinnacled
chapel. It is scarcely to be doubted that Henry VI., who laid the first
stone lovingly, and with meek emulation of the noble foundations of
William of Wykeham, at Winchester and Oxford, in his mind intended
that the structure, perfect as it now appears, should form only the
choir of a magnificent collegiate church. To the beautiful building,
as we see it, he would have added a nave and aisles, grandly vaulted,
as the strength of the buttresses sufficiently indicates the chapel
itself was meant to be. But the troublous years that closed his reign
prevented the fulfilment of those designs; and it was left for the
present century to bring the interior more worthily into accord with
so fair an outside. Bird's bronze statue of the royal founder, erected
by Provost Godolphin, in 1719, stands in the centre of one of the
quadrangles. There is a look of cheerful gravity in the brick fronts of
the college buildings. The elaborate quaintness of the chimneys, the
sedate solidity, whether of plainness or of ornament, give a pleasant
character to these quadrangles, in the larger of which, containing the
bronze statue of Henry VI., is as picturesque a clock-tower as any
architect in soul might wish to see. Here, on the opposite side, the
hand of Sir Christopher Wren is denoted in the fine arcade supporting
the Upper School. The second and smaller quadrangle, called the Green
Yard, is surrounded by a cloister, and in it is the entrance to the
Hall, a curious apartment, with a daïs, and with three fireplaces,
which were long panelled in and lost to memory.

But we must not lose ourselves too long within the College and its
precincts, lest the attractions of the library, the provost's lodgings,
the election-hall, and the new buildings erected in the Tudor style,
make us oblivious to our riverside ramble. It is on the stream itself,
and on well-known spots along its banks, that Eton manifests her
vigorous training in various traditionary ways. The river is constantly
covered with boats, and its proximity to the College has given Etonians
that proficiency in swimming and rowing of which they are justly
proud, and which they maintain by practice and prize-giving. Chief
among the bathing-places of note is Athens, with its Acropolis, famed
for "headers." On the Fourth of June, now the Speech Day, loyally
instituted in celebration of the birthday of King George III., a
procession of boats from the Brocas to Surley Hall is the event of the
afternoon; and the evening closes with a display of fireworks. There
are many old Etonians whose memory goes back to the Montem, abolished
forty years ago. It was a triennial celebration, held on Whit Tuesday,
and has been the subject of many a picturesque description, not the
least vivid and truthful of which was a dramatic sketch by Maria
Edgeworth, intended, like other of her charming essays and tales, such,
for example, as "Barring-Out," for the delectation of youth. Eton
Montem partook somewhat too strongly of the old saturnalian character
for modern tastes; and it was at the instance of a head-master that
the old custom was discontinued, not without aid from Government and
opposition from young and old Etonians. The last Montem, in 1846,
was conducted with such maimed rites as to be a mere shadow of olden
heartiness and gaiety; but in its jolliest days, which were in the
reign of "Farmer George," there was no doubt something really salient
in the mock-ceremony on Salt Hill. It was "for the honour of the
college" that the boys, handsomely and expensively dressed in various
fancy costumes, levied contributions on all and sundry passengers along
the Bath Road, past the mound, believed to be an ancient tumulus, which
bore the name already mentioned. The money called Salt was gathered for
the captain or senior boy to defray his expenses at Cambridge, whither
he was going as king's scholar. When Henry VI. resolved on founding
a college at Eton, he incorporated two small colleges or hostels at
Cambridge, one of which he had instituted two years before. Thus
originated King's College, to which, as Lambarde says, "Eton sendeth
forth her ripest fruit." The scholars are required by the statute to be
"indigentes," but of course this provision has long been a dead letter.

To take farewell of the College of Eton is usually to take farewell
of the town, in which, as guide-books say, there is little interest;
though, forsooth, interest may be wanting where we may find pleasure
of the less exciting kind, not soon to die away. At least, there is in
Eton unaffected substantiality of old-fashioned building, taking the
form of its own age, and not stealing outward conceits from any other.
Some of the houses of professional persons and private inhabitants,
tutors and others, opposite the College, with its chestnut-trees, are
staid, and even venerable. As Dickens said of the old unspoilt pier
at Broadstairs, they have "no pretensions to architecture," and are
"immensely picturesque in consequence." Hereabout is the well-stored
shop of the librarian and publisher, never lacking custom in term-time.
Eton College has its literary "organ," and lives in hope of a Canning
to immortalise pages which meanwhile are not deficient in sense and
style, as how, indeed, should they be? In this publication are duly
chronicled events which now are scarcely eventful, but which will
make history some of these days. The doings in playground and on
river, at football and cricket, rowing, swimming, and diving, are
here registered, to the satisfaction of "wet bobs" and "dry bobs,"
as the boys whose varying athletic tastes lead them in different
directions are called. There is no house of public entertainment in
Eton which is distinguished by the modernised term, hotel; but there
are some decent inns, the most comfortable of which is reported to be
the "Christopher." It is a direct continuation of Eton into Windsor
across the bridge connecting the Berkshire with the Buckinghamshire
town, the town being to all intents and purposes one. Windsor Great
Park--thus designated in distinction from the Home Park of 500 acres,
which adjoins the Castle, and is the enclosure which contained Herne's
Oak--should now be seen. It is separated from the castle precincts by
the high road, and by part of Windsor. Apportioned here and there to
farms, it still comprises a clear area little short of 2,000 acres,
forest-like in much of its scenery, and abounding in walks and drives,
from which a herd of deer is a frequent addition to the regal beauty
of the prospect. When, for purpose of ridicule and burlesque, the
title Duke of Shoreditch finds its way into modern literature, it may
be called to mind that the first man so dubbed was a Londoner named
Barlow, who, at one of the great archery meetings held by Henry VIII.
so excelled all the Buckinghamshire yeoman, that his Majesty forthwith
gave him, half in pique, half in pleasantry, the mock style and honour.
For three miles the Great Park is traversed by the elm-bordered avenue
called the Long Walk, at the far end of which, set up high on an
eminence known as Snow Hill, stands a colossal equestrian statue in
lead, by Westmacott, of George III., in classic costume.

The fine perspective, with its countless noble trees, was planned
by Charles II., and finished under William III. Only by accident,
fortunate or unfortunate we hesitate to say, was it that the quaintly
beautiful gate, built at Whitehall by Holbein, "with bricks of two
colours, glazed, and disposed in a tesselated fashion,"[6] and taken
down in 1759, did not take the place now occupied by the leaden statue
of George III. The materials of the Tudor gate, carefully preserved,
were brought hither by the Duke of Cumberland, with an intention which
was frustrated by his mortal sickness. It was as well, after all,
that a civic gate was not set up in a sylvan park, however stately.
Transplanted monuments seldom, if ever, find congenial surroundings.
The Duke of Devonshire, in quite recent years, declined the offer of
the fine water-gate of York House, built for Duke Steenie by Inigo
Jones; and there it stands to this day, elbowed into obscurity by
the Thames Embankment. No Cavendish was ever yet so wanting in a
sense of the fitness of things as not to feel that a river edifice,
designed as a point of landing and embarking, would be out of place
as a portal of a mansion in Piccadilly. Wherever Temple Bar may be
erected, it will be an incongruity and an anachronism, serving only to
turn men's minds fretfully to the incongruous pile of maimed heraldry,
portrait-sculpture, allegorical confusion, and vulgar commonplace,
in stone and bronze, built up by Mr. Jones--Horace, not Inigo--in
the middle of the road over against the Law Courts. Not as completed
according to its original plan does the Long Walk in Windsor Great
Park now appear. It was a walk, and nothing more, for Charles II.
was a pedestrian. And as a walk it remained till 1710, at which time
the carriage-road down the avenue was constructed, a new footpath
having meanwhile been made for Queen Anne, which to this day retains
its old title, the Queen's Walk. Royal residences and olden sites,
and monuments relating to royalty, distinguish Windsor Park and its
neighbourhood.

[Illustration: THE ALBERT BRIDGE.]

Our way now lies past Frogmore, and over the river again, by the
Albert Bridge, to Southley, where we set our faces up-stream, going
back a little on our course to visit Datchet. Another iron bridge,
higher up--named the Victoria Bridge--would have taken us thither more
directly; though we must then have missed the park and its scenic
associations. But if it were only to see the Datchet of Shakespeare,
the Datchet lane, and Datchet mead by which Ford's men carried Falstaff
to the river brink in the buck-basket, and there canted him into the
water with the foul linen, we could as well have remained on the
Berkshire shore. There might, indeed, have been a wooden bridge between
Windsor and Datchet in Elizabethan days; but it is most likely that
the name of Datchet, bridge or no bridge, applied to spots on both
sides the river, and that Datchet Mead was a piece of low land between
Windsor Home Park and the river. As such, it is mentioned by Mrs. S.
C. Hall, who agrees with other writers in supposing that Falstaff and
the foul linen were tilted, according to Mistress Ford's injunctions,
into the muddy ditch among the whitsters, close to Thames side. But
Falstaff, both in his soliloquy at the "Garter" Inn, and in the account
of the affair to "Master Brook," distinctly says he was thrown into
Thames, the shelving shore of which river saved him from drowning. The
real Datchet on the Buckinghamshire side could not have been intended
by Shakespeare, unless, by a poetical licence, he brought Datchet
over to Windsor. The topographers and the Shakespearean annotators
alike have been content to slur this point, leaving their readers
to reconcile the doubts concerning which all modern authorities, or
such as ought to be authorities, are silent. The nearest elucidation
is yet afar off. We find it in a note by Malone on Dennis, who had
objected to the probability of the circumstance of Falstaff's having
been carried to Datchet Mead, "which," says Dennis, "is half a mile
from Windsor." This would refer, certainly, to a mead on the Berkshire
side, and not in the parish of Datchet, in a county separated by the
Thames. Mrs. Hall was doubtless right in placing Datchet Mead between
the towing-path and Windsor Little Park; but it is a pity she was not
more explicit. The muddy ditch named by Mistress Ford in the play was
probably that which, being covered over in Queen Anne's time, was used
as a drain, and came to be called Hog Hole. It was destroyed when the
embankment was raised to form a foundation for the Windsor side of
Victoria Bridge. Both from this bridge and from its fellow, lower down,
good views are obtained of Windsor Castle. At Datchet, no longer so
pretty and picturesque as it was half a century ago, is an old church
of Early English and Decorated styles, in which Queen Elizabeth's
printer, Christopher Barber, is buried; as also Lady Katherine
Berkeley, daughter of Lord Mountjoy. Above Datchet, Izaak Walton used
to fish, sometimes with his friend, Sir Henry Wotton, the provost of
Eton before mentioned.

[Illustration: OLD WINDSOR LOCK.]

Albert Bridge, with its long, flattened, Tudor arch, spanning the river
at one bound, bears a miniature resemblance to the design of the bridge
at Westminster, and is light and elegant, though of a modern taste,
which lacks the picturesqueness and simplicity of the old objects on
the river. The span, however, adds safety to the navigation, especially
in these times of steam-launches, the most unpopular and best-hated
craft on the Thames. Like other ills, we have come to tolerate them
for a certain one-sided convenience, esteemed by the selfish, the
lazy, and the fast. All pleasant quiet on the river, as, indeed, on
the shore, is a thing of long ago. Idlesse, dreamy solitude, _could_
only be enjoyed by the few, and _can_ never be enjoyed by them. In
coupling, or rather in identifying the fast and the lazy, we may, by
hasty thinkers, be suspected of a contradiction. There is none in what
we have said. The lazy are often restless in their inert desire to
be conveyed swiftly from place to place; for they have no energy for
idling. To rush, screaming on, with their hands in their pockets, and
no motion of their own, is the height of bliss to such people, and
this is the enjoyment a steam-launch affords. Yet the unpopular vessel
has a popularity of its own. Riverside folk in the mass, from the Duke
of Westminster to the poorest toiler who profits by the Early-closing
Movement and the Bank-holidays, all join in decrying the rowdy
intruder--the "'Arry" of river craft. But "'Arry" is all-pervading, and
multiplies himself with astonishing exuberance and rapidity. There is
more of him every day; and there are more and more steam-launches, for
all the outcry against them.

Old Windsor, whatever may have been the state to which it attained
when young or middle-aged, is now only a village, and not, so far as
appearances go, a very old one. Like the schoolboy's knife, which had
first a new blade, then a new spring, then another new blade, and then
a new handle, it has been transformed by successive renewings. It is
by a new road from New Windsor that this Old Windsor, which is much
the newer of the two, is reached. We pass the Prince Consort's model
farm to get at the one bit of antiquity. This is the church. It is very
picturesque, and derives a certain venerable suggestiveness from the
yews and other old trees surrounding it. But it is not of remarkably
early date; and restorations have robbed it of more age than it could
well afford to lose. Trees are the best friends that Old Windsor can
boast. They keep it warm and green and comely. The by-road leading to
the church is not often trodden, except by those who really deserve
the name of church-goers. It is not a show-place; that is one thing in
its favour. It has a green and tranquil churchyard; that is another.
The name best known to people who have read the modern history of
Old Windsor Church is a whispered name; the tomb which bears it is a
neglected tomb; few go out of their way to pace that little cemetery;
fewer still find the grave of Mary Robinson. Hush! it is a name that
the kind will be kindest to forget. No loving care kept the tomb from
being overgrown with nettles for fifty years; and it is too late
now, even were it seemly, to vex the ghost of poor "Perdita." That
was the lady's romantic designation. She had played the character in
Shakespeare's _Winter's Tale_. There was a Prince Florizel who wore a
chestnut wig, a frogged and fur-collared frock-coat, tight breeches,
and silk stockings, and cut a very elegant figure on the throne of
England--"George the Magnificent," he is called by Mr. Thackeray. He
invented a new shoe-buckle. It was five inches broad, covering almost
the whole instep, and reaching down to the ground on either side of the
foot. "A sweet invention!" exclaims the satirist. And a pretty Prince
Florizel, truly, whose head was so full of such matters as these, and
whose heart was so choked with egregious vanity that, having "kissed
and fondled poor Perdita on Monday, he met her on Tuesday and did not
know her." She sleeps, now, peacefully in the tree-shaded churchyard
of Old Windsor--she and her daughter, Maria Elizabeth Robinson, both
of literary fame, the inscriptions tell. What did they write? Poetry,
was it? There is a tombstone also here to the memory of a shepherd,
named Thomas Pope, who died half a century ago, aged ninety-six, having
been "cheerfully laborious to an advanced age." On the same stone is
recorded the death of "Phoebe, wife of the above," aged ninety years.
Their fame was not literary, nor their work of the poetical kind. Their
bodies, nevertheless, are buried in peace, and their names, merged, it
may be, in "the long pedigree of toil," live for evermore.

But though Old Windsor is reduced to an insignificant suburb of New
Windsor, it was the royal dwelling-place when all was forest around,
and when the solitary chalk hill, standing up from a tree-covered clay
tract on the riverside, was uncrowned by feudal masonry. That was
before the Norman took hold upon England. At the Conquest, Old Windsor
was a manor belonging to the Saxon kings, who are conjectured to have
had a palace here from a very early period. We may fancy theirs to
have been a less splendid court than that of "George the Magnificent."
When Edward the Confessor--who afterwards presented the manor to his
newly-founded monastery of Westminster--ruled England from this spot, a
few serfs and swineherds dwelt sparsely in huts among the thick woods.
The site of the Saxon palace can only be guessed; but antiquaries have
surmised that an old farmhouse which stood west of the church, and
near the river, surrounded by a moat, probably marked the place. When
the Conqueror, having obtained the land from the monastery, by fair
bargain, as appears, built a fortress on the eminence which we now
call Castle Hill, the palace at Old Windsor remained a palace. It is
probable that the first Norman castle on the neighbouring mound was
simply a defensive work, with no convenient residence, till Henry I.
completed additional buildings. Thenceforth Windsor Castle was Windsor
Castle indeed; and little is heard in history of Old Windsor. The manor
passed from hand to hand, each tenant for a time holding from the king
by service. One man, with lance and dart, for the royal army, was
all required. Since the fourteenth century, the holding has been on
lease from the Crown. Tapestry works, which of old were maintained at
Windsor, and fell into disuse, have in late years been revived. Looms
were set up in buildings specially adapted to the industry, which was
initiated by foreign workmen, the art of tapestry-weaving in England
having quite died out. One of the artists engaged in supplying designs
was the late Mr. E. M. Ward, R.A., and the application of the modern
tapestries to household decoration was mainly encouraged by Messrs.
Gillow and Company, who have employed these hangings with great effect
in the royal pavilion, each succeeding year, at the South Kensington
exhibitions. Keen interest in the revival of this artistic and
dignified class of manufacture was taken by the late Duke of Albany,
under whose patronage an exhibition in furtherance of the scheme was
held in Windsor Town Hall. An early and munificent encourager of the
work was Mr. Christopher Sykes, M.P., whose town mansion was richly
adorned with the Windsor tapestries.

No traveller bids farewell to Old Windsor without paying his respects
to one of the best of the riverside taverns, the time-honoured "Bells
of Ouseley." Perfectly free, at present, from modern revivalism, and
from all manner of conscious style, is this genuine old inn, separated
by the high road from the river bank. Its quaint bow-windows, one on
either side of a porch entered by way of a steep flight of steps--the
wholesome dread of unsteady topers--are just of the period and fashion
to captivate an artist in search of the picturesque; nor can we
look on this unspoilt hostelry without thinking of Mr. Leslie, Mr.
Boughton, or Mr. Tissot. In France, a village cabaret or auberge,
humbler than this, would yet be far more advanced in the art of public
entertainment. "They cook very well at these places," is a remark you
frequently hear in Normandy, Picardy, or Champagne, from the lips of
culinary judges, versed in all the intricacies of Parisian gastronomy;
and if the unpretending inn be near a trout-stream, be sure you may
have a dish fit for a prince, and within the means of a woodcutter.
Were some enterprising cook to lease a cosy tavern like the "Bells of
Ouseley," and introduce a really high-class _cuisine_ on a choice but
simple scale, the place would be talked about in a month and spoiled
in a year, at the end of which time the proprietor might be either
a rich man or a bankrupt. Let us take our pretty, rustic riverside
resort, for rest and refreshment, as we find it. Fine cookery would
drive out honest companions whom old Izaak--who had a face like an
elderly pike, but was a right good fellow for all that--would have
drawn into profitable talk; for at the "Bells of Ouseley" you meet
anglers and bargemen from whom much is to be learnt, if you go the
right way to get hold of them. On the left as you enter is the tap,
often crowded; on the right a bar-parlour, in which the company is
more select. Of old the "Bells" had the reputation of being a house of
call for "minions of the moon," as Falstaff called them, or "knights
of the road," to choose a later phrase, such as the authors of "Paul
Clifford" and "Rookwood" would have applied to the same order of
gentry. But the landlord does not, in these days, give stall and
fodder to nags of suspicious character, like bonny Black Bess. The
old stone stable is oftener occupied by steeds that consume neither
oats nor hay; and the highwaymen are not such as wear crape over their
faces, or carry pistols like demi-culverins, or dance minuets with
ladies they have plundered, but are in fact only members of a bicycle
club. Under that old roof with its odd chimneys, standing against a
background of greenery, there are jolly ghosts, you may be sure; for
the grimmer goblins that have haunted the "Bells" in time when gibbets
were plentiful, and when every one of these evil trees bore its rotting
fruit, that swung and creaked in the night-wind, were laid long ago in
a red sea of steaming punch, by boon companions of those who, as the
phrase was, "suffered." The fishing at the "Bells" is good. Capital
chub and dace are taken with the fly, and gudgeon are plentiful as
blackberries.

[Illustration: THE "BELLS OF OUSELEY."]

[Illustration: MAGNA CHARTA ISLAND.]

On the Bucks shore, above the outfall of the little River Colne, which
flows into the broader Thames, below Bell Weir Lock, is Wraysbury,
a name which has been conveniently adapted to local phonetics from
"Wyrardisbury." Over the Colne there is a suspension-bridge; and the
river is crossed by the South-Western Railway, which has a station
here. Wraysbury Church is distinguishable under its restorations,
which appear to have followed in good faith the original design, as
a fair example of Early English architecture. It preserves one of
those rarities of monumental design of which so largely outnumbering
a proportion of village churches have been robbed. This is the brass
which represents, in the habit of an Eton scholar at the beginning
of the sixteenth century, John Stonor, who is not the only recorded
association of this place with the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
There is Ankerwyke House, a modern mansion, embowered in trees, by
the riverside. It occupies the site of a Benedictine priory, which,
in its later days of dissolution, was given as a residence, by Edward
VI., to a provost of Eton, Sir Thomas Smith. This priory, for nuns
of the above-named order, was founded in the reign of Henry II., by
Sir Gilbert Montfichet. Of the old religious buildings hardly a trace
remains. Ankerwyke House is associated by tradition with the courtship
of Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII., who used, it is said, to meet her under
a yew-tree, which has since grown to the goodly girth of twenty-eight
feet. Great trees of this kind have an exceedingly venerable look,
but as a matter of fact their age seldom comes near comparison with
that of the oak; and a yew-tree pretending to the age of three hundred
and fifty years and more may be looked upon with doubt, at least as
reasonable as the scepticism of a Thom or a Cornewall Lewis, directed
to the subject of human longevity. Wraysbury is rather a pretty
village than otherwise, and we leave it with a wish that it may be
spared any loss of its present prettiness for many years to come.
An unspoiled path leads to the ferry, by which Magna Charta Island
is reached, the lower of two islets in midstream. Topography is at
loggerheads as to whether, the barons holding the island, this was
the place of meeting between them and King John, or the field named
Runnymede was the spot on which the grant of English freedom was
signed. Anglo-Saxon authorities derive the name from Rûn, and say that
Runnymede means Council Meadow. So that the island and the field on the
Surrey shore--for we stepped across the boundary of Berks when we bade
farewell to Old Windsor--hold the great historical honour in dispute.
We should certainly incline to a decision in favour of the island. It
was on the plain level field, such as we now see it, unbroken by hedge
or wall, house or barn, that Edward the Confessor no doubt occasionally
held his "witan," during his residence at Old Windsor. The Norman
barons would have been likely to choose the island, both on account of
its association with those very rights they were met to assert, and
because it was at a convenient distance from Windsor, sufficiently
near for the king, but far enough to prevent any treacherous surprise
by his forces. It is, indeed, asserted by early historians that the
island opposite the meadow was chosen by the barons, the king having
proposed Windsor as the place of meeting. Local tradition, which may be
taken for what it is worth, accords with written history. The Charter
bears date June 15, 1215; and in that very year John had taken refuge
in Windsor Castle, as a place of security against the growing power
of the barons. On Magna Charta Island a Gothic cottage has been built
by one of the Harcourts, lords of the manor, as an altar-house for a
large rough stone, which bears an inscription setting forth that King
John signed Magna Charta on that island. Tradition or fancy goes a step
farther, and represents the stone to have been the royal writing-desk.

From Runnymede the slopes of Cooper's Hill rise, on which Sir John
Denham conferred celebrity, if, indeed, Cooper's Hill did not the
rather confer celebrity on him. It is certain that his poem, which
disputes the palm of descriptive verse with Ben Jonson's lines on
Penshurst, is far better known than anything else he ever wrote. No one
thinks of naming Denham without quoting those four lines which Dryden
and Pope have lauded, and which remain to the taste of a changed epoch
"the exact standard of good writing." Many critics, so to speak, have
taken off their hats to the quotation, and have printed it usually in
admiring italics. Addressing Thames, the poet says:--

    "O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
    My great example, as it is my theme!
    Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full."

Reflective power, almost equal to Wordsworth's, characterised the
poetry of Denham; but he can hardly be compared to the modern poet in
the quality of description. If he has drawn a pretty good likeness of
the river, which does, however, occasionally overflow, and at other
times is by no means full, surely the hill is unrecognisable in such
portraiture as this:--

    "But his proud head the airy mountain hides
    Among the clouds; his shoulders and his sides
    A shady mantle clothes; his curled brows
    Frown on the gentle stream, which calmly flows,
    While winds and storms his lofty forehead beat,
    The common fate of all that's high or great.
    Low at his foot a spacious plain is placed,
    Between the mountain and the stream embraced,
    Which shade and shelter from the hill derives,
    While the kind river wealth and beauty gives."

Over Denham's gorgeous clouds of fancy, clothing the sides of this
Thamesian mountain, some pretty villas, with lawns and gardens, are
dotted among the trees, with which Cooper's Hill is beautifully
planted. Its gentle slopes, green and gradual, scarcely attain
steepness at any point; and the wild hyperbole which makes the airy
mountain hide his proud head in the clouds is absurdly misleading. The
view from its summit is wide and fair; and the silver windings of the
river towards Windsor Castle, which stands up in its pride of strength,
are finely shown on the face of the landscape; and if Denham lost
himself in picturing a hill, he is at home again in his representation
of a plain. Runnymede, as fair a pasture as it was seven hundred years
ago, is still unbroken, still sheltered by the hill and enriched by the
river. An army might assemble there, as in the feudal days of old.

[Illustration: RUNNYMEDE.]

Bell Weir, and the Picnic, as the island a little above Runnymede is
called, are favourite resorts of holiday-makers, anglers among others;
and no more delightful part of the river for rest and recreation, as
well as for sport, can be found than in the beautiful reaches which
succeed one another as the stream winds, now this way, now that,
between banks that never lose their charm of interest and variety.
On the Picnic, however, picnics are ceasing or have ceased. Liberty,
so cheerfully accorded, has, with too many picnic-parties, been
turned to licence, and permission to use the island for such kind of
pleasure-making had at last to be stopped. If the bold Briton can be
brought to see the gracelessness of accepting a grace, and then abusing
it, perhaps there may be a renewal, in time, of the concession. Close
to the weir, on the Surrey side of the river, is an excellent inn,
aptly, though it may be tritely, called the "Angler's Rest." Barbel,
roach, club, and gudgeon are plentiful round the Bell Weir; and trout
are often taken. Thames gudgeon run somewhat small, and anglers who
do not combine culinary taste and skill with their proficiency in
the craft are apt to regard the little fish as no more than a good
sort of live-bait. And this, indeed, he is, especially if you are
pike-fishing. Arthur Smith, the amiable brother of Albert, who thought
a pike, stuffed and baked, very good eating, knew the partiality of
this voracious fish for gudgeon. Indeed, Master Jack, who is both a
_gourmand_ and a _gourmet_--the characters being oftener united than
is commonly supposed--will pass by any other prey to get at the silver
morsel, which has been called by some human epicures the freshwater
smelt. So, by-the-by, will a perch, the only fish that can live with
pike on terms of armed neutrality or amicable defiance. Freshwater
smelt, indeed! Why, the despised gudgeon, properly cleansed and
treated with salt, is, when freshly caught and delicately fried, the
smelt's decided superior; and it is perfectly surprising that the
former is not more in request--is never asked for, in fact--at London
restaurants. Yet, in Paris, at Bignon's, Champeaux', the Café Anglais,
the Café de la Paix, the Maison Doré, or at the Cascade in the Bois de
Boulogne, or at the Tête Noir at St. Cloud, no judicious diner misses
_goujon_, when that fish is to be had, as it generally is. Why must
we wait till we go abroad before we think of asking for gudgeon? Why
should we pooh-pooh the dainty little fellow? Is it because it is so
easy to catch him that his very name has passed into a proverb? Depend
upon it, in spite of the ridicule which follows gudgeon-fishing as the
facile entertainment of "a young angler," we make a great mistake,
and lose many a dainty dish, in this scornful, or at least jocular,
disregard of so sweet and delicate a fish.

[Illustration: WINDSOR TO HAMPTON COURT.]

Gudgeons swim in shoals, are always greedy biters, and, in fact, hook
themselves with so charming and ready a will, that ladies and boys
have no greater trouble than pulling them out of the water as soon
as the hook, baited with a red worm, is dropped into it. No other
labour, and no skill or activity beyond, is needed. The hook must be
small, and the worm must be small also; and the gravelly bottom should
be raked, to stir up the aquatic insects and larvæ, and so to summon
the confiding fish together. Angling and rowing are not the only
pursuits on the river or by its banks. The student of natural history
and the landscape-painter, by which, in these days, is mostly meant
the same, may botanise to their hearts' content; and, if they care
more for popular and poetic than for scientific botany, may be glad
to find there are still such beings as country folk, and still such
names for flowering plants as codlings-and-cream, which the vulgar
call _Epilobium hirsutum_. Call it what you will, this same plant,
which is in truth the large-flowered willow-herb, and has a wholesome,
but not very distinct or pungent odour, supposed to resemble the
scent of apples with cream, as above named, is liked by cattle, and
was at one time recommended for cultivation as fodder in wet places
where other useful plants will not grow. The true forget-me-not--the
_Vergiss-mein-nicht_ of the German tale--grows in extraordinary
luxuriance and beauty in these fresh grassy places. An amphibious
little weed, with red-shaded green leaves floating on the water, and
with pink spike-blossoms, called the persicaria, is beautiful and
harmless when dancing on the rippled recesses of the river, but a bane
to farming when it takes to a life on shore. We are close to Egham now,
and may either put up at the "Angler's Rest" or enter the town and seek
bed and board at the "Catherine Wheel."

Egham is a small town surrounded by some very pretty country, which,
having been, bit by bit, blemished by taste, has received the final
blow from the conspicuous benevolence of a millionaire. This gentleman
has built a gorgeous palace, nay, two gorgeous palaces, for imbeciles
of the superior class. The buildings, taken together, may be about
as big as Windsor Castle, and they are as visibly prominent in the
landscape, though not precisely with the same effect. A white granite
bridge, designed by Rennie, and opened in 1832, by William IV. and
Queen Adelaide, connects Egham with Staines, and in these iron times
is a positive relief to the eye afflicted by such viaducts, railway
and other, as are rapidly spoiling the Thames. Altogether there is a
comfortable modern look about both places, their comeliness, such as
it is, being entirely due to natural surroundings. Egham is mainly one
long street. The church is a plain structure of the negative style
of 1820, the tower being a landmark seen from far. There is likewise
a chapel of ease; and there are places of worship for different
denominations. What more of Egham? Strode's almshouses are in its
High Street, and a cottage hospital is healthily placed on Egham
Hill. The Elizabethan house of Great Fosters is in the neighbourhood.
Egham has an annual race-meeting, the course being no other than
Runnymede. Staines, new and manufactural as it now appears for the most
part--the "linoleum" works having largely contributed to its industrial
aspect--is as old as any place in true English history. Ancient records
give the name as Stanes. Modernised though it be, Staines is by no
means bereft of all antiquity. The church is venerable; and near it is
Winicroft House, a Tudor building which some of the good folk, innocent
of architecture and chronology, soberly assign to the reign of King
John, who sure enough had a palace at Staines, somewhere or other, and
not impossibly on this particular site. One of the earliest bridges in
England, preceding the Roman, as may be inferred from the Itinerary
of Antoninus, crossed the river here. When the Roman road to the west
was made, and a military station formed at Staines, it is probable
that a stronger bridge was built; and, as most of the Roman bridges
in England seem to have been of wood, supported by stone piers, the
guess that Staines, or more properly Stanes, took its name from those
relics of Roman occupancy, is perhaps pardonable. Just above the town,
at the mouth of one of the entrances of the Colne into the Thames,
where an ait is formed, stands a monument worth careful attention.
It is a square stone shaft on a pedestal, which again is raised on a
base formed of three gradations. This is the ancient London stone, or
boundary stone, as it is alternatively called, for it has served during
many ages to mark the beginning of Middlesex out of Buckinghamshire,
and the termination of the city's jurisdiction over the waters of
Thames.

[Illustration: LONDON STONE.]

The Conservancy of the river, by long prescription, confirmed by
various Charters and Acts of Parliament, was vested in the Lord Mayor
and Corporation. Apart from the courts, which were held by the Lord
Mayor in person, and with much state, most of the administrative
duties have long been performed by a committee of the Corporation,
aided by four harbour-masters, an engineer, water-bailiff, and
subordinate officers. Till recent times, the Navigation and Port of
London Committee, as it was called, held jurisdiction from Staines in
Middlesex to Gantlet in Kent, and exerted a strong hand in preventing
encroachments on "the bed and soil of the river," or any injury to
its banks. The duties also extended to the regulation of the moorings
of vessels in the port, the deepening of channels, the erection
and maintenance of public stairs, the repair of locks, weirs, and
towing-paths, the control of fisheries, and the seizure of unlawful
nets. Tolls and tonnage-dues contributed to the revenue on which the
Corporation depended for means of executing all these obligations. They
had, as one of their public advocates tersely put it, "a surplus below
bridge which they were unable to appropriate, and a deficiency above
bridge which they had no power of making good." Still, no hesitation
or serious shortcoming appeared in their fulfilment of duties. But
some years ago, a claim to "the bed and soil of the river" was set up
by the Crown. Thirteen years' litigation ended in a compromise. The
City consented to acknowledge the title of the Crown, and the Crown
consented to grant a title to the Corporation, stipulating, however,
that a Government scheme should be embodied in an Act of Parliament.
Hence, the Thames Conservancy Act of 1857, which vested the rights
and duties in a Board composed of the Lord Mayor, two Aldermen,
four Common Councilmen, the Deputy-Master of the Trinity House, two
persons chosen by the Admiralty, another person chosen by the Board
of Trade, and another by the Trinity House, making twelve in all. By
a later enactment these rights and duties were abrogated, and now the
jurisdiction of the City over the Upper Thames has altogether ceased.

[Illustration: STAINES BRIDGE.]

This is certainly not the place for any argument for or against
the deprivation of almost regal authority which the City of London
has long swayed. But up-river men, especially anglers, have cause
to be grateful for the protection afforded them in the past by the
conservators. Staines Deep is a good instance. All the "deeps" on the
river are formed for the especial behoof of the angler, who is indebted
to their peculiar construction for the abundance of fish that reward
his patience, trouble, and skill. A deep is so staked or otherwise
protected that no net or coarse process of any description can remove
the fish that collect there. Old boats are not unfrequently sunk to
prevent the use of nets. All the deeps between Staines and Richmond
have been formed on this or some such system at the expense of the
London Corporation; and at Staines the never-failing abundance of
large roach is due, no doubt, to the careful plan on which the deep is
formed. The accessibility of Staines from London makes it exceedingly
popular, as is evidenced by the number of boat-houses, and constantly
increasing trade of boat-building. The hotels and inns are not spoilt
by custom. The little "Swan," one of the prettiest of old-fashioned
houses on the river, is just below the bridge on the Surrey side, and
really in Egham parish, though boating men generally speak of it as the
"Swan" at Staines. Then there is the "Pack-horse," on the Middlesex
shore, with a good landing-stage. The "Angel and Crown," which is
traditionally associated with the Emery family, having been kept by
one of that name in the days when John Emery was the recognised and
unapproached stage Yorkshireman, is in the High Street. He played Tyke
as probably no other man ever played that character; nor was he less
effective in the monstrosities of the stage, Caliban being one of
his pet parts, and Pan another. He had a fair range of Shakespearean
repertory, being a terribly truthful Barnardine, in _Measure for
Measure_, and a capital Sir Toby Belch. In some panegyric memorial
verses which appeared soon after his death was the line--

    "And Farmer Ashfield with John Emery died."

This praise was exaggerated and indiscriminate. The present writer was
sitting many years ago at the "Angel and Crown," in a mixed company of
oarsmen, anglers, and residents, when he heard the performance of John
Emery as Farmer Ashfield called in question. Somebody had extolled it
for its rich Yorkshire dialect. Thereupon a grey-headed old man broke
in with a quotation from "Speed the Plough." In the scene supposed to
follow a ploughing-match, when Sir Abel Handy's patent invention has
been kicked to pieces, and carried off at the heels of the frightened
horses, Bob Handy answers his father's question, "Where's my plough?"
by turning to the farmer and inquiring the name of the next county.
"We ca's it Wilzhire, sur," is the reply. The scene, in fact, is laid
in Hants. The grey-haired man was an old actor, and he finished his
pertinent reference to Morton's play with the quiet remark that he too
remembered Emery, and admired him in Yorkshire parts, but that Farmer
Ashfield was _not_ a Yorkshire part. With a London audience in Emery's
reign all countrymen were Yorkshiremen, just as all foreigners were
Frenchmen. We must not leave Staines, where barge-life and riverside
character generally may be studied better than at any other spot
by the Thames, and the boundary stone without mentioning that this
ancient monument bears the traces of its original inscription, dated
/A.D./ 1280, "God preserve the City of London."

Penton Hook, on the Middlesex side, is a horseshoe-shaped piece of
water, where the river shoals out a great deal, so that boats going
down the rapid shallow run of half a mile will do well to keep in mid
stream, so as to avoid grounding on that shore. If you pronounce Penton
Hook as you see it written, you may chance to miss being understood.
Penty Hook is the common pronunciation, and if without the aspirate,
so much the nearer local correctness. Penty Hook Lock has an average
fall of two feet and a half. There is a ferry here, by which you may
avoid the Hook and its long pull. The bend at Penty Hook is the natural
course of the river, and its horseshoe form, enclosing a large meadow,
has the lock for a base. For general fishing, Penty Hook has been famed
time out of mind; and, though disappointed men are sometimes heard to
lament the growing signs that this fishery has begun to be worked out,
every season yields many a well-filled creel. The lock is a good thing
for those who voyage for pleasure; not that they go through it, but
that it leaves them the undisturbed solitude of the ancient passage,
by drawing away the hurriers, who think of nothing but of "getting
there," wherever "there" may be. This retired and tranquil bend is the
haunt of water-fowl, and is a very wilderness of butterflies. One of
the countless tributary streams that feed the Thames, the Abbey River,
babbles of days when the monks of Chertsey kept their preserves well
filled from these productive fisheries. Fine trout are taken here
still; the strong barbel gives excellent play; a number-twelve hook,
mounted on a single hair, and baited with a gentle, will take roach and
dace in any quantity, though a heavy float is necessitated by the force
and depth of the stream; he who seeks the big chub should cast his line
under any of the overhanging willows; and he who scrapes for gudgeon
may choose from twenty pitches, any one of which will give him a day's
quick work. Down stream now to Laleham is a short row, or walk, along
the Middlesex shore, on which side is the towing-path from Staines as
far as Shepperton.

[Illustration: LALEHAM FERRY.]

Such charm as may be found in a flat landscape--and it is not small
when there are trees and water, red roofs and quaint chimneys, sheep,
cows, and an old church--we find at Laleham Ferry, one of the quietest
and prettiest spots on the Thames. The nearest railway stations,
neither of which is too near, are Staines and Shepperton. This little
village was for nine years of work, study, and wedded happiness, the
residence of Dr. Arnold, the mild but firm Erastian in most of his
ecclesiastical views, the parental educator, the Liberal in politics
but not in party, the Church reformer who clung to the Church not as a
priesthood but as a body of believers, the man of thought and man of
action. To Laleham, Thomas Arnold went at twenty-four years of age;
took pupils, as, since he was twenty, and elected a Fellow of Oriel
College, he had done at Oxford; married, and worked on, with the grand
idea before him of bringing new life and spirit into our public-school
system. It was at the end of his nine years' sojourn at Laleham that
he took priest's orders, and turned a corner in his life whence his
useful fame began. He was appointed to the headmastership of Rugby
School. In those nine years at Laleham, peaceful and happy as they
were, sorrows were not "too strictly kept" from Arnold's home. Four of
his family are buried here; his infant child, his mother, his aunt,
and his sister. It is no matter of mere opinion or dispute that Dr.
Arnold and Rugby are associated as no person and place, no school and
master, ever were before or since. Illustrious men have indeed raised
the high standard of tuition higher than they found it, at other public
schools. Their names add lustre to a shining roll. But Dr. Arnold,
of Rugby, whose constant longing from his youth had been to "try
whether our public school system has not in it some noble elements
which may produce fruit even to life eternal," justified his belief
and his mission so well, that he not only raised Rugby School to its
highest fame, but introduced a great change and improvement into all
school-life in England. He trusted much to his Sixth form, his elder
boys, whom he inspired with love, veneration, and confidence, so that
their recognised authority over the junior pupils was exercised as
with a reflected light. He would have no "unpromising subjects," no
pupils likely to taint others. "It is not necessary," he said, "that
this should be a school of three hundred, or one hundred, or of fifty
boys; but it is necessary that it should be a school of Christian
gentlemen." All good hearts in time were bound to the firm, manly,
sympathetic master, whose devotion to duty was contagious, and whose
unceasing interest in his scholars was repaid by their reverence for
him. Dr. Arnold's writings are earnest, clear, and independent. The
six volumes of sermons, chiefly delivered to the Rugby boys, should
be read by all boys, all parents, and all masters. Dean Stanley, his
pupil and biographer, collected and republished his tracts on social
and political subjects; and in the striking picturesqueness of his
"Roman History," in which he adopts the "ballad-theory" of the Prussian
historian, Niebuhr, he forestalled a mode of animated illustration, and
contrast of ancient and modern events, which is so popular in the hands
of Macaulay and Grote.

Nine years of such a life as Arnold's would be enough to confer
perpetual dignity on a more important place than Laleham, which
contains a population of not more than six or seven hundred souls,
and is not honoured and spoilt by a "surrounding neighbourhood" of
new wealth, refinement, and education. Not that the village is more
rustic--in the depreciative sense--than a village inhabited by people
who "have known some nurture" ought to be. There are a few good
old-fashioned houses about it, Arnold's being one of them; a solid
red-brick house with a large garden. The occupant came to regard the
country as "very beautiful." He had always a resource at hand, he
tells us, in the bank of the river up to Staines; "which, though it
be perfectly flat, has yet a great charm from its entire loneliness,
there being not a house anywhere near it; and the river here has none
of that stir of boats and barges upon it, which makes it in many places
as public as the high road." Laleham House, the seat of the Earl of
Lucan, is a plain square modern mansion with a Tuscan portico. The
grounds of forty acres are noted for the noble elms, shrubs, lawns, and
flower-gardens.

    "One spot for flowers, the rest all turf and trees,"

as Leigh Hunt sang, though not of so large and fine a domain.

[Illustration: LALEHAM CHURCH.]

[Illustration: CHERTSEY BRIDGE.]

Some years ago a galvanised monkish movement, led by an Anglican
clergyman, who went about town with sandalled feet, a girdle of
knotted cord, and a cowl over his tonsured head, made a descent on
Laleham, where the poor enthusiast tried to found a monastery, with
what temporary noise of local wonderment is now a subject of much
forgetfulness. The church at Laleham is small, old, and patched with
modern brickwork; and the church across the river, at Chertsey, a
mile lower down on the Surrey shore, is square-towered, part ancient
and part new. Nothing very old, or noticeable as old, will be seen
if we go inside; but we may do this reverence to modern art if not
to antique religion, for there is a memorial bas-relief of simple
beauty, carved in a Christian spirit by the Greek-souled sculptor,
Flaxman, the subject being the raising of Jairus' daughter. Cattle
are feeding on the grass of Chertsey Mead, or cooling themselves
in the shallow stream. How different are they from the droves of
builders and architects who try to improve the banks of the river!
The cattle positively decline all effort at picturesqueness; but they
are picturesque, which the new houses or villas, and stuck-up towers
and turrets, with all their ornamental pretence, decidedly are not. A
hundred years ago was built, by James Payne, the bridge of stone, with
seven arches, the high middle arch being beneath a pointed summit of
the parapet. This bridge, though steep, seems right under the lock,
which is built of wood, and has a fall that averages three feet.
Ancient and modern both are the intimate associations of Chertsey.
Among the modern are reminiscences of Albert Smith, whom even James
Hannay, a contemner of comic authorship, allowed to be a writer who
was easy to read. He rattled on, with too little thought, it may
be, but with a shrewd common-sense and an almost feminine justness
of view, that won him friends among his enemies, even if a careless
witticism now and then made an enemy of a friend. This was never for
long; while it is certain that Albert Smith lived down a great deal
of hard and even scornful criticism. He brought round all his old
_Punch_ companions from whom he had cut adrift; and even the high-toned
_Examiner_, seldom merciful to "light writers," pronounced one of his
books of travel to be, "frank, genial, and manly." He practised in
his early career as a dentist, but soon drifted into magazine work,
and amused the laughter-loving public with his "Adventures of Mr.
Ledbury, and his friend, Jack Johnson." The man-about-town style of
writing was more amusingly and inoffensively exemplified in Albert
Smith than in any of his rivals; for with him it was spontaneous--a
hearty emanation from personal habit, which had grown into nature.
Student-life--medical-student-life, that is to say--in Paris and
London gave both incident and tone to his tales and sketches--the
incident being of a practically jocular kind; and the tone, that
of rollicking levity. He went a little out of his way to take up
historical romancing in his novel on the subject of the venomous
Marguerite d'Aubray, Marchioness of Brinvilliers; and Douglas Jerrold
went a good deal out of _his_ way to assail his "former crony" Albert's
dabbling in "arsenicated literature." More congenial, certainly, to
his powers of lively common-place were the stories of "Christopher
Tadpole" and "The Scattergood Family." He had some dramatic faculty,
which took now and then the proper dramatic form of theatric art; and,
beside the stage-burlesques collaborated by him with Shirley Brooks,
Charles Kenny, Stoqueler, and others, he wrote a few pieces, whereof
one was suggested by the famous Chertsey bell, and a romantic legend
in connection with that relic of Saxon days. Albert Smith's brother
Arthur, a man of singular gentleness, was devoted to him, and spared
no pains to please and serve him in a multitude of ways, little and
great. The affection which existed between the two was never shaded
by difference of any kind. Here is a little story which now sees, for
the first time, the light of print:--When Albert Smith was giving his
long-lived entertainment of "Mont Blanc," Arthur, his right-hand man
in the business of management, took a holiday, and, visiting some
glass-works in the north, was so struck with the resemblance of certain
waste products to icicles, that he brought a number of specimens
away with him, had them mounted like pendants, and, on his return to
Piccadilly, hung them in triumph round the eaves of the little _chalet_
which formed a prominent part of the set scene. Albert, who would not
have damped his brother's delight for all the world, was "charmed"
with the effect, and thanked the good Arthur again and again. "I
_can't_ tell him," said he, secretly, to the present writer, "that the
flowering plants, the Alpine heaths, and all, are in full summer-bloom.
It would break his heart to be reminded of the little contradiction in
the seasons."

As the first religious house founded in Surrey, the abbey, of which
there are now few vestiges, gave Chertsey a name of imperishable renown
in English annals. We are carried back by the sound to Saxon days, to
King Egbert and the sainted Erkenwald, who founded the great monastery
at Barking as well as that of Chertsey. Abbot Erkenwald received his
first Charter from Frithwald, sub-regulus of Surrey, nine years after
the foundation of this abbey of Cerotæsai, Cerotesege, or Certesyg, as
the name last given appears in "Domesday Book." The etymology, then,
of our familiar Chertsey is "Cerota's ey," or island. Erkenwald's
monastery and church were erected on a grassy ait, formed by the
Thames and the little stream now called the Abbey River, or Bourne.
When was there ever monastery or abbey built in England, France, or
other part of Christendom, but it was near a river, teeming with fish?
In nine out of ten cases, the ground has been an island, whatever it
may be now. Take Westminster, for instance. It is not, you will say,
insulated; but it was, and its name was the Isle of Thorns; and the
very first angelical promise in relation to the Saxon abbey was made
to the fisherman, Edric, who was told by a supernatural visitant, sent
by St. Peter, that a plentiful supply of fish would never fail him so
long as he duly carried his tithe to the monks. From that time, quite
early in the seventh century, till near the end of the fourteenth, the
Thames fishermen religiously paid their tithe of salmon to the abbey;
and it is a singular fact that the first violation of the custom was
by a priest, the vicar of Rotherhithe, who denied his tithe until the
monks of Westminster enforced it by law, protesting that the right had
been granted to them by St. Peter, when their abbey was founded. As
an instance of the primitive state of society, in the England of the
Middle Ages, every bearer of fish to the Abbey of Westminster sat by
prescriptive right at the prior's table that day, and could demand ale
and bread at the buttery-hatch to be brought him by the cellarman.

Fish, not on fast days alone, but as a constant staple of diet,
was one of the needs of monastic life. Nor did the monks and their
lay brothers generally wait for tithings from secular piscatory
sources, as the fraternity at Westminster seems to have done. Mr.
Dendy Sadler has no doubt hit with main truth of history, if with
some exuberance of playful humour, the monkish habit of angling.
At Chertsey the Benedictine friars of the tenth century left such
evidence of perfection in fish-culture as is pleasingly apparent to
every Thames angler of the present day; and the salmon-trout nurseries
of Mr. Forbes, on the Surrey shore, revive a goodly tradition of the
olden time. Pike, perch, chub, bream, and barbel abound near Chertsey
and Shepperton, as of yore; but the good monks, let us remember, had
the lordly salmon always at hand, as well as the trout, which was too
plentiful to suggest any thought of artificial hatching. The once
stately abbey, of which all the remains now are the fragments of an
arched gateway, part of a wall, and a bit of encaustic tile pavement,
occupied an area of four acres, and looked like a town. The Danes
pillaged and burnt the place two hundred years after its foundation,
murdering the abbot, Beocca, with all his monks, to the number of
ninety. It is scarcely possible, even now, to dig deep on the ground
without unearthing bones and fragments of masonry, relics either of
the ancient Saxon foundation, or of the second and still Saxon convent
re-established by King Edgar, in the tenth century.

During successive periods many great men were interred here; but the
abbey is chiefly remarkable, as a place of sepulture, for having been
the brief resting-place of Henry VI., whose remains were brought
thither from Blackfriars by water. It was on her way "toward Chertsey
with her holy load" that the Lady Anne encountered crook-backed Richard
of Gloucester, as the scene in Shakespeare's play of _Richard III._
vividly represents. Having been interred there with much solemnity,
the corse of the murdered king was only suffered to remain undisturbed
till the second year of his successor's reign, when Richard caused the
coffin to be removed to Windsor. The weak but well-meaning king, whose
piety and love of learning may be said to have been too strong for
his mental sinew, held Chertsey in high regard and favour, following,
indeed, other sovereigns by whom in long succession from Saxon times
the abbey was often strengthened and endowed. To benefit a religious
institution and the town pertaining thereto was formerly one and
the same act, a state of things now hardly comprehended in its full
significance. It was to the abbot, in kingly piety, that Henry VI.
granted the right of holding a fair on St. Ann's Hill, on St. Ann's
Day. The "Black Cherry Fair," as it is called, is now held in the
town, and the date is changed from the 26th July to the 6th August.
Another great fair, for cattle, horses, and poultry, is also held
there on the 26th September, in view of Michaelmas Day, which ancient
feast is generally honoured with the goose as a standing dish; for by
that time of the year this bird, hatched in the spring, has attained a
goodly form and condition, while preserving some of its tender youth.
So notably do these considerations affect the fair in September, at
Chertsey, that it is popularly designated the Goose and Onion Fair,
the sale of geese and onions eclipsing all other traffic, not only as
regards poultry, but horses and cattle to boot. As before observed,
mills and fisheries survive the changes of epochs with extraordinary
vitality. We have seen that Chertsey is still a head-quarters of
angling, as it was a thousand years ago; and the abbey mills flourish
in modern fashion to this day. More remarkable far is the survival of
the curfew bell; for there are fisheries and mills of ancient origin
all over England, but the curfew is heard at few other places than
Chertsey. Here exists a curious old custom of tolling the day of the
month, after a brief pause, at the close of the "knell of parting day."
In the tower of the rebuilt parish church, with a peal of six bells,
is one that is believed to have belonged to the ancient abbey. There
is warrant for the tradition which assigns so venerable an age to this
bell; for the Latin inscription

    ORA : MENTE : PIA : PRO : NOBIS : VIRGO : MARIA

is in Anglo-Saxon characters.

For a little more than two years, Abraham Cowley, the poet, intending
to husband his small fortune, lived at Chertsey, or, rather, continued
to exist for a short time. His desire for solitude provoked from
Johnson, the lover of city life, a biographical sneer. It is true that
the first night Cowley came to his half-timber house at Chertsey--he
had desiderated a brick house, by-the-by--he caught a severe cold, and
kept his room for ten days; but it is also true that he was an invalid
when he came from Barn Elms, whence he was driven by illness. A series
of mishaps befell him, which he recounted in a half ludicrous light,
in a letter to his friend Sprat; and this letter it is that Johnson
recommends "to the consideration of all that may hereafter pant for
solitude." Cowley's house, which he only left in funereal pomp and
state to be conveyed by water to Westminster Abbey, and there buried,
is still sometimes called by its old name, Porch House, from a porch
that once projected into the highway, but was pulled down a hundred
years ago. In the garden is a fine group of trees, one of which, a
horse-chestnut of great size and beauty, sheltered the poet in the
short term of his life at Chertsey.

A memorable episode of Dickens's early work of fiction, "Oliver
Twist," is graphically connected with this agricultural town, the most
commercial establishment in which is a brewery. There were no railways
to speak of when Fagin, the Jew that Dickens drew, was redrawn by
Cruikshank, and when Bill Sikes, and Nancy, and Toby Crackit, and the
Artful Dodger, and Charley Bates, and the bad people generally, seemed
as real as, on the other and supernaturally amiable side, Rose Maylie
and the rest were creatures of angelic imagination. There is nothing
more real in this story, nor in all the stories that Dickens ever
wrote, than the expedition by Sikes and Oliver, from Bethnal Green,
through Finsbury and Barbican, to the West-end--past Hyde Park Corner,
Kensington, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Kew, and Brentford--past Hampton
and Halliford, Shepperton and Sunbury--till Chertsey was reached; and,
joined now by Toby Crackit, they made their way through the silent
town to the scene of the projected burglary. Boating-men know well
the landing-stage at the "Bridge House," one of those inns where the
comfort is not diminished either by negligence or false pretence.
This is the recognised "hotel" of Chertsey; but the "Cricketers," in
the Bridge Road, half a mile from the town, is the favourite resort
of anglers. Many pleasant walks are still to be found near Chertsey,
St. Ann's Hill being within a mile. As the residence of Charles James
Fox, the house, with its gardens, lawns, shady walks, and quaint
summer-houses, should be seen by all who have the opportunity of
visiting it. The old gate of wrought iron, though not by any means
extraordinary, nor indeed nearly so elaborate as some examples of
smiths' work still to be seen about old parts of Chelsea, Chiswick,
and Roehampton, is characteristic and significant of its period. From
this gate to the summit of the hill is a short walk which affords a
delightful view on a fine day, extending to Windsor on the one side,
and to London, a distance of twenty miles, on the other. St. Ann's
Well, on the descent, is a sylvan spot, which might better have been
left alone than "improved," as it has been. It once looked like what
it probably is, a veritable relic of the chapel which has been swept
away like its contemporary foundation, the abbey on the marshy island
below. St. Ann's Hill is a favourite place for picnics, as also for
volunteer exercises and reviews. Returning towards Chertsey Bridge,
on our downward Thames journey, we see the wood-crowned heights of
Woburn, and presently make or renew acquaintance with the Wey, another
tributary of the metropolitan river. The Wey rises in Hampshire, near
Alton, where good ale used to be brewed, and indeed continues to be
brewed still, in spite of the fact that this national beverage, the
wine of the country, is getting more and more into the hands of a few
noted brewers, and consequently is more and more "all alike," which
is a sad sameness to think of! Time was when small breweries were
oftener attached to inns of good repute, and when to taste the ale was
a complimentary obligation. It is no question of curious tasting in
these times; for you know pretty well what you are going to get when
you ask for "a glass of bitter," which is generally good, but somewhat
monotonous. What has become of all the country home-brewed, of the ales
of different colleges, for example?

    "I have a friend who loveth me,
    And sendeth me ale of Trinity,"

sang Barry Cornwall. Where is now the good ale, and where are the good
fellows who sent it?

    "The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
    Is left this vault to brag of."

Through Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, Woking, Byfleet, and Weybridge,
through all that country of heath and health, of pine-trees and
rabbit-warrens, of scenery that you feel and breathe as well as see,
the Hampshire stream flows and grows till it mingles with the waters
of Thames below Chertsey, at a mill in the bend of the stream. It is
said that the best hay in England comes from Chertsey mead, which
also, during a large part of the year, affords right of commonage to
neighbouring farmers for their cows; and the milk testifies to the
richness of the pasture. It is at Weybridge that the Wey is joined by
the Bourne, as also by the Basingstoke canal, and the meeting of the
three streams is in a pleasant spot. Weybridge and Oatlands Park are
places that hold renown in common. Round about the neighbourhood are
country seats, beautifully situate, and two miles south of the town
or village is Crockham Hill, from which a transcendent prospect of
the whole weald of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex is gained, never to be
forgotten. By Chart, or by Westerham Common, the way to Crockham Gap is
the loveliest of Surrey walks, and indeed the beauty of the district
cannot be overpraised.

At the Domesday survey, "Webrige" was a manor held by the Abbot of
Chertsey, and its value was twenty shillings. With other lands, the
property pertaining to the ancient abbey, it was annexed by Henry VIII.
to the honour of Hampton Court. The estate of Oatlands was acquired
by the king in manner following. He was negotiating its purchase when
the owner, one William Rede, died, leaving his son John, a child, the
heir. A short way was taken by the king to remove all difficulty. He
constituted Sir Thomas Cromwell guardian of the boy, and the rest was
plain. Very speedily the erection of a palace for Anne of Cleves, the
king's intended wife, was commenced, the materials being found in the
dismantled monasteries. Stone was brought from Chertsey and Bisham;
marble for pavements from Abingdon; while the good red bricks which
composed the walls were made at Woking, which name was spelt by the
accountants "Okyng," much as it is pronounced at the present day by
rustic natives. For his orchards, the king took apple, pear, and cherry
trees from the orchards and gardens of Chertsey Abbey. The interior
walls of Oatlands Palace were hung with the costliest tapestries of
France and Flanders, the floors being covered with "carpets of Turque."
But before the casket was ready the jewel had been discarded. Anne of
Cleves, on whom Henry bestowed an uncomplimentary epithet, had come,
and had proved unacceptable. The bride was divorced, and a new bride
was taken in her stead. With the new bride Henry required a new palace.
Oatlands was consigned to the keeping of Sir Anthony Brown; and, save
that it was made the occasional residence of the Princess Mary, we
hear very little more of Oatlands in King Henry's reign. We may fancy
it a many-gabled, many-towered, Tudor edifice of red brick, with stone
quoins and dressings, ornamental chimney-shafts, and handsome bays,
like Hampton Court, in fact, with the same kind of turreted central
gate-house in the principal front. There are drawings of it in the
Bodleian at Oxford. The foundations are said to have been traced
over fourteen acres. Terraces, flower-gardens, orchards, fountains,
fishponds, and detached summer-houses adorned the pleasance round the
magnificent edifice; and beyond, fenced about by a quickset hawthorn
hedge, was the deer park.

An example of wasted labour and misapplied ingenuity, the grotto
constructed in the eighteenth century by an Italian and his two sons
for Henry Clinton, Duke of Newcastle, may be cited as one of the
questionable glories of modern Oatlands. The artificers were twenty
years at their work, which cost the Duke, it is said, £40,000; the
sum stated in the early accounts being between £12,000 and £13,000.
Outside, this egregious sham is built of tufa, which is a volcanic
substance, or the calcareous deposit of certain springs. Within, the
building has three or four chambers connected by low dark passages, on
the ground floor, and one large chamber over all, with an elaborate
cupola of satin-spar stalactites. All the inner walls are a mosaic of
minerals, shells, and spars of various kinds, blending in many devices,
and inlaid with endless patience and skill. Among the many fine
specimens of minerals still left, are quartz, crystals, and ammonites
of rare perfection. Horace Walpole delivered himself of this criticism
on the Oatlands grotto: "Oatlands, that my memory had taken it into its
head was the centre of Paradise, is not half so Elysian as I used to
think. The grotto, a magnificent structure of shell-work, is a square,
regular, and, which never happened to grotto before, lives up one pair
of stairs, and yet only looks on a basin of dirty water."

[Illustration: SHEPPERTON LOCK.]

It is evident that Horace Walpole spoke of the upper chamber as
the grotto itself; and so it was mainly. This _bizarre_ kind of
architecture was quite in the taste of George IV., and accordingly,
when he was Prince of Wales, and just after Waterloo, he entertained
at a supper in this wonderful room the Emperor of Russia, the King
of Prussia, and the princes and generals in their train. As being
tastefully in accord with a stalactite cavern, lit up by cut-glass
chandeliers, the gilt chairs and sofas had satin cushions embroidered
by the Duchess of York. Oatlands underwent many transformations; was
destroyed by fire in different ages; and has sprung up again and again,
like an exceedingly protean ph[oe]nix. The only vestiges of its ancient
grandeur are the massive gateway and some magnificent cedars by the
river. It is curious to think of its many transformations, during the
dwindling and declining periods of its history. Once it was a rambling,
mock-battlemented structure, in the taste of Strawberry Hill Gothic.
A quasi-Italian style has been its later phase, and this remains, in
the aspect now presented by the house, which has been converted to the
purpose of a residential hotel. Oatlands has a longer story than can be
told, even in outline, here. After Henry VIII. abandoned his intention
to keep up its royal splendour, it became the temporary abode, at
different periods, of Edward VI., Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., and
Henrietta Maria--their youngest son, Henry, being born here--Queen
Henrietta's second husband, the Earl of St. Albans, and then a
succession of nobles, under various terms of tenure, till the Duke of
York purchased the property in 1790, when the rococo edifice on the
Strawberry Hill pattern of modern antiquity made its appearance, and
became the bone of contention between two architects, the inglorious
though not mute Pugin and Barry of the time, as we may call them--each
claiming the honour of its invention. Greville's Memoirs give us as
much as we want of the private life of His Royal Highness in his
queer castle, or, if further information be desired, some interesting
additions may be found in the "Life of George Brummell, Esq., commonly
called Beau Brummell," who passed much of his time there, and whose
most constant benefactor, after he had been cut by the Prince Regent,
and other summer-friends, was _sa toute affectionnée amie et servante_,
the kind Duchess. In justice to one or other of the rival claimants
to the glory of architectural design, it may be said that the outside
folly of Oatlands, as conceived either by Holland, the architect of
Drury Lane Theatre--his best work--or John Carter, more favourably
known by his etchings from the Gothic, was redeemed by its interior
fitness and stately proportion. An example of the effect produced by
transplanted architecture is conspicuous on Weybridge Green. Here, a
Cockney wanderer out of his element of Babel life, stands the column
celebrated by Gay in his "Trivia."

    "Where famed St. Giles's ancient limits spread,
    An inrailed column rears its lofty head;
    Here to seven streets seven dials count the day,
    And from each other catch the circling ray."

A rover, indeed, was this monument from Seven Dials. First it was taken
to Sayes Court, but never erected. Wanting a memorial to the Duchess
of York, the villagers of Weybridge picked up the neglected masonry,
altered it to suit their purpose, by discarding the dial-faced top
and substituting a clumsy crown, and stuck it where it now stands. In
the crypt of a small Roman Catholic chapel, facing a fine group of
fir-trees on Weybridge Common, the body of Louis Philippe was laid,
till the royal remains were taken to France and re-interred in the
Orleans mausoleum at Dreux.

[Illustration: SHEPPERTON.]

Largely frequented by anglers, Weybridge must take care if it desires
to retain the favour of boating-men. While the towing-path crosses the
boat-yard, and dredging is neglected by those, whoever they may be,
on whom the duty rests, it is very difficult to avoid grounding; so
that many owners have been taking their boats away, as the constant
dragging not only scratches but strains them. Shepperton, on the
Middlesex shore, is a pretty village, small and quiet, with its chief
places of residence hidden away behind trees, or peeping out upon the
river. It has a railway terminus, on the South Western system, and is
about an hour, that is, nineteen miles, from Waterloo. The deeps afford
tolerable fly-fishing in the trout season, and are more frequently
fished for jack, perch, roach, and barbel. There are several good swims
in pretty equal favour with anglers, to wit the upper deep, the lower
deep, and the old deep, east of the creek rails. Besides these, the
creek itself is often resorted to. The anglers' inns at Shepperton are
the "Anchor" and the "Crown." It is an unspoilt Thames-side village,
this Shepperton, in spite of its many pleasure-seeking visitors; a
class, to say the sad truth, apt to disclose a selfish indifference
to the pleasure of others. If the holiday-maker is to be traced by
scientific investigation, the marks to be looked for will be broken
bottles, greasy sandwich-papers, and lobster-shell, just as flint
tools and weapons denote other and earlier savages who have lived on
the earth, and have made it as disagreeable as possible for their
fellow-brutes. Shepperton Lock and Ferry are both picturesque in
themselves, as well as being foregrounds of scenery that is charming
to the eye nurtured by art. Truly, landscape-painting has done noble
service in fostering the love of nature. Though real beauty must be
above the skill of man to imitate, it is a curious truth that no age
in which that skill has not been exercised has ever left any written
records of a feeling for the grandeur of mountains, or the simple
loveliness of woods, fields, and brooks. Chaucer, you say? Why, Chaucer
pictured everything because he had seen it in pictures; had the very
soul of a limner; lived in the sincerest age of art; saw Flanders and
Italy; was familiar with all that was exquisite in the refinement
of courts; and, unless his appointment as clerk of the works at St.
George's Chapel, Windsor, was a gross sinecure, knew how a daisy should
look in stone as well as in nature's finer fashioning. He who imagines
Chaucer to have displayed natural observation without cognisance of
art has totally misread Chaucer's time, rich in actual colour, as in
the very dress that distinguished "gentle and simple;" for, as Mr.
Ruskin has said, speaking of "the lovely and fantastic dressing of the
thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries" (in the very heart and flower
of which period Chaucer lived), "no good historical painting ever yet
existed, or ever can exist, where the dresses of the people of the time
are not beautiful."

Shepperton, hale, green, and old, in its plentiful trees, mostly elms
and horse-chestnuts, has likewise an age in history. It is a noted
spot for Roman remains; it has a church that was venerable and still
retains claims to veneration; and it has a rectory-house older, for the
most part, than the parish church to which it belongs. The dwelling
in question is of fifteenth century erection, and is principally
of timber, the soundest, the strongest, the most enduring--English
oak. Builders will come back in time to the wisdom of such building,
as they are even now aware of the folly which assumes iron to be
fireproof. Halliford is our next halt, a mile down from Shepperton
Railway Station, the nearest to the place. It is quite accessible
enough for anglers, whose interest, if not whose taste, leads them to
a preference of seclusion to racket and noise. Proverbially "jolly,"
the angler understands jollity in the Waltonian sense, as, indeed, the
most sensible of us all, anglers or not, understand it. The vulgar
adverb, "awfully," does, indeed, too literally qualify at times the
modern adjective. Halliford Bridge was washed away some years ago by
the floods; and now the Surrey and Middlesex shores are connected by
a brick and iron structure which is named Walton Bridge, and which,
having been the occasion of war between Bumbledom on both sides the
river, was painted of two colours, a chromatic difference that greatly
increased the normal ugliness of the design. The most plentiful fish
at Halliford are roach and bream, but there is an abundant variety of
others. To distinguish this little place from another Halliford, which
is a hamlet of Sunbury, it is sometimes called Lower Halliford. The
views along and across the river, every way, are charming; and as we
look over to Oatlands, the Surrey hills form a beautiful background;
while on one side we have Walton and Ashley Park, and on the other
Weybridge. The "Red Lion" is a favourite haunt of anglers, and all who
visit the spot by road or river; and other houses of entertainment are
the "Crown," the "Ship," and Mrs. Searle's. The narrow creek adjacent
to the "Red Lion" is in frequent request as a harbour for punts and
small craft in general. A little further and we come to Walton, having
crossed the river once again into Surrey.

[Illustration: HALLIFORD.]

Walton-on-Thames was, in old Saxon days, as its name plainly indicates,
a walled town. Etymology apart, the traces of its having been fortified
speak for themselves in the neighbouring remains of important
earthworks. It is now a village; and, as a village, large; but it is
not quite large enough to be considered a town; and of its walls there
are no traces above ground. Walton Bridge crosses the river just where
there was once a ford that, as relics show, was strongly defended. A
little above Walton is the spot at which Cæsar crossed, in the time of
his second invasion. It is called Cowey Stakes, and has afforded matter
for many an antiquarian discussion. The "Stakes" were driven in front
of the bank to repel attempts at landing. Some accounts of them state
that they were placed upright in two rows, across the shallow bend of
the river, so as to support a bridge. Walton has an interesting church,
very old in some parts, but modern in others, with Norman piers, on
one of which may be read, deeply cut, the verse ascribed to Queen
Elizabeth, when princess, and when it was sought by Mary to entrap her
in a heresy regarding the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

    "Christ was the Worde and spake it;
    He took the bread and brake it;
    And what the Worde doth make it,
    That I believe, and take it."

Among the monuments are works of note by Roubiliac and Chantrey,
the older sculptor excelling in the bold inventiveness and forcible
execution of his work, a superb monument to Lord Shannon. On the left
side of the communion table is buried William Lilly, the astrologer,
that "cunning man, hight Sidrophel," as he figures, or is supposed
to figure, in "Hudibras." Another tomb, but it is in the churchyard,
not the church, holds the remains of "bright, broken Maginn," who
sleeps without a memorial. President Bradshaw's house, at the back
of Church Street, is divided into a group of wretched tenements, all
in a squalid condition; yet in a room on the ground-floor of one of
them, covered with dirt and whitewash, is a carved oak chimney-piece,
with coupled columns and a cornice, the room itself being panelled,
and an elaborately carved beam crossing the ceiling. There is a
tradition that Charles I.'s death-warrant was signed in this room. One
of the curiosities of Walton-on-Thames, shown at a house next that of
Rosewell, the boat-builder, is a scold's gag, or bridle, few examples
of which instrument yet remain in England. This particular specimen
bears an inscription which, though now illegible, has no doubt been
accurately quoted as follows:--

    "Chester presents Walton with a Bridle,
    To curb Women's tongues when they bee idle."

Chester, according to tradition, was a person who lost an estate
through the evil speaking of a loose-tongued gossip, and took this
mode of revenging himself on the sex. The bridle is a combination of
head-piece and collar, a flat iron projection inside the latter being
forced over the tongue, while a slit in the former, which passes
over the face and skull, allows the nose to protrude. Not far from
the church, on the road to the railway station, is Ashley Park, with
its late Tudor or early Stuart mansion of red brick, containing a
great hall, which takes the whole height of the house, and a gallery
extending throughout its entire length of a hundred feet. The park, a
richly wooded demesne, adjoins Oatlands. From St. George's Hill, in the
vicinity, the magnificent prospect includes seven counties. The stream
at Walton Bridge runs over many shallows, fast on the Surrey shore, and
it is not easy to sail round the bend.

[Illustration: SUNBURY WEIR.]

Along a pleasant reach of the river, on the Middlesex bank, lies the
village of Sunbury, with three or four boating and angling inns,
which are much frequented by pleasure parties, though it is always
a marvel to foreigners that the accommodation at these and other
Thames-side inns should not be of a higher order. At Sunbury are the
rearing-ponds of the Thames Angling Preservation Society; and the
fishing of all kinds is excellent, no part of the river affording
better sport with the fly than Sunbury Weir, which abounds with
trout. The "Flower Pot," the "Magpie," and the "Castle" are in Thames
Street; and the "Weir Hotel" is on the Surrey side. The stone lock
and lock-house are prettily placed amid pretty scenery, and there is
a good camping-ground. As it is not often that a church is altered
to its improvement, justice demands a recognition of the fact that
the church of the Virgin Mary, by the river-side at Sunbury, from
having been as ugly a brick building as was ever consecrated to public
worship, has been rendered sightly by the insertion of new windows
and the introduction of a semicircular chancel, and an elaborate
Byzantine porch with stone arcades on either side. Till changed to the
form we now see, the church appeared as it had been rebuilt in the
eighteenth century. The ancient church was of Saxon foundation, dating
from the time of Edward the Confessor. When the Orleans family made
their retreat in the neighbourhood of the Thames, the Duke of Nemours
assisted at the consecration, by Dr. (now Cardinal Archbishop) Manning,
of a small Roman Catholic church a short distance off, prettily
constructed of stone, from the drawing of Mr. Charles Buckler. The
sailing clubs have made Sunbury a rendezvous, and boat-building is a
prosperous occupation.

[Illustration: SUNBURY CHURCH.]

[Illustration: BETWEEN HAMPTON AND SUNBURY.]

As we near Hampton, the historical and the "Happy," Garrick's villa
comes into view. The watery way, down from Sunbury, is between banks
which are flat and uninteresting, osiers hiding the land from those
who voyage in boats. Robert Adam, who, in conjunction with his
brother James, improved the street architecture of London--their
fraternal labours being commemorated in the name of that since-spoilt
river-terrace, the "Adelphi"--built the Corinthian front of Hampton
House, as it was called when Garrick bought it, though the mansion has
since been renamed after the great actor himself. Adam's portico, the
salient feature of the house, reaches, with its pediment, above the
attic storey. Much is said about the building, its contents and its
visitors, by Horace Walpole; for Garrick's dinners, his illuminated
grounds, and his night-fêtes, attracted company of the first order.
On the lawn, near the water's edge, was and is a miniature Grecian
temple, of octagonal shape, with an Ionic porch, the structure being
designed for a summer-house, in which for a time was placed Roubiliac's
statue of Shakespeare, to be removed, after Garrick's death, to the
British Museum. Garrick planted his domain very tastefully, and the
trees that have grown to goodly height and umbrageousness since his
day, now invest the spot with a dignified grace. For twenty-five years
Garrick enjoyed his liberal ease and the pleasures of well-chosen
society in this home of comfort and elegance; and his wife, who
survived him by forty-three years, living to a great age, continued to
dwell here, maintaining everything in the same place as when he was
her companion. The forget-me-not, commonest of wild flowers in this
neighbourhood, finds surely a congenial soil where David Garrick's
memory was cherished so fondly and so long. Islands in thick succession
dot the stream, and when fishing-rods are patiently extended here and
there, the picture is at once socially and tranquilly suggestive.
Opposite the town and church of Hampton lies Moulsey Hurst, between
the villages of East and West Moulsey. This wide and beautiful meadow,
"hard and smooth as velvet," as one of Archibald Constable's literary
correspondents describes it, has been degraded in all ways attributable
to civilisation. As a race-course, it is probably the vulgarest in the
world; and its history is bound up with the annals of duelling and
prize-fighting. A letter, very characteristic of the time, contains
the following candid record:--"Breakfasted at Mr. Maule's very early,
and went along with him and the Bailie to see the great fight between
Belcher and Cribb, at Moseley Hurst, near Hampton. The day was very
fine, and we had a charming drive out in our coach-and-four, and beat
all the coaches and chaises by the way. We had three hard runs with
one post-chaise and four very fine horses, before we could pass it,
and drove buggies, horsemen, and all off the road into lanes and doors
of houses." Among the gentlemen present, as the same frank-spoken
witness testifies, were "the Duke of Kent, Mr. Wyndham, Lord Archibald
Hamilton (a famous hand, I am told), Lord Kinnaird, Mr. T. Sheridan,
&c. &c., and all the fighting-men in town, of course." These last,
we read further, were "the Game Chicken, Woods, Tring, Pitloon, &c.
Captain Barclay of Urie received us, and put us across the river in
a boat, and he followed with Cribb, whom he backed at all hands. The
Hon. Barclay (Berkeley) Craven was the judge." This charming chronicler
proceeds to tell us that the odds were on Belcher, but that the hero
in question, after a long fight, "was at length obliged to give in."
Poor fellow! Modern adherents to the theory that fisticuffs had any
early origin in Great Britain may be consoled for the decadence of the
"good old national art of self-defence" by the assurance that boxing
was a practice which endured little more than a century and a half,
if so long, and was learnt from North American savages. Its real
antiquity is Greek, the grounds for believing that the Anglo-Saxons,
and, after them, the Plantagenets, favoured this form of pugilism being
extremely slender. The English prize-fighters of the eighteenth century
encountered one another with broadswords. There are other "arts of
self-defence" far better entitled to rank as English than boxing. The
quarter-staff is one.

[Illustration: GARRICK'S VILLA, HAMPTON.]

On the road to Moulsey from Walton-on-Thames stands Apps Court, or the
modern representative of that capital mansion, once inhabited by Mrs.
or Miss Catherine Barton, who might have been called a "professional
beauty" had the phrase, together with photography, been invented in her
day. The manor was bequeathed to her for life by Charles Montague, Earl
of Halifax. She was a reigning "toast," and her name frequently occurs
in Swift's journal to Stella. Catherine Barton, who was a sort of niece
to Sir Isaac Newton, being, in fact, the daughter of his half-sister,
has been spoken of as the mistress of Lord Halifax; though it is now
pretty clearly established that she was privately married to him,
before his elevation to the peerage. She afterwards married a master
of the Mint, who succeeded in that office her illustrious uncle. Many
other persons of note are historically associated with "delightful Ab's
Court," so designated by Pope, in his Horatian epistle to one of its
proprietors, Colonel Cotterell. The grounds, like most of the Thames
pleasances, contain some grand timber; oaks and elms being conspicuous
objects.

A little past Moulsey Lock is Hampton Court Bridge, a five-arched
iron structure, by which we take our way to the palace and its famous
grounds.

  /Godfrey Turner/.



[Illustration: THE APPROACH TO HAMPTON COURT.]


CHAPTER VIII.

HAMPTON COURT TO RICHMOND.

    Hampton Court--Thames Ditton: The "Swan"--The
    Church--Surbiton--Kingston: The Coronation
    Stone--Teddington--Twickenham--Eel Pie Island--Petersham--Richmond
    Park--Approach to Richmond.


Hampton Court is not the stateliest pile upon the banks of Thames. It
is less splendid than Windsor, less historic than the Tower; yet it
possesses a meed of human interest unique in English palaces. Windsor
has its memories of the births and deaths of kings; of proud embassies
from Popes and Kaisers while yet the censer was swinging through all
England; of sweet brides wedded to the misery which is always lurking
behind a throne. The Tower is the most historic building which the
world still looks upon--the very kernel of England's history, even as
the Chapter House of Westminster is the birthplace of her liberties; in
the darkness and silence of its dungeons was matured that intolerance
of despotism, that resolve for freedom which began early to mould the
modern England; it is a fortress of unending tragedies. Yet Hampton
Court, which is newer than either and less historic than either, enjoys
a popularity and exercises a charm far beyond that of the two feudal
fortresses. The explanation of this which fashions itself when one
is in romantic mood, is that the popular imagination is touched by
the sidereal rise, the brief glory, and the sudden fall of Cardinal
Wolsey--a fall which even the gift of the stately palace itself could
not avert. But the footprints of Wolsey at Hampton Court are hard to
trace; and it is probable that to the Bank Holiday masses, and to the
crowds which stream through its galleries every fine Saturday and
Sunday in summer, the most abounding charm of the place is that which
Nature, with some assistance from Art, has provided. The terraces, the
gardens, the maze, the trim vistas cut through long lines of trees, the
Dutch primness and precision of the grounds, and above all the thousand
acres of Bushey Park, with its renowned avenue bursting with the tinted
blossom which in summer perfumes the air like "an odour sweet of cedar
log and sandal wood," are the true delights of Hampton Court.

The old Tudor palace is a significant landmark of the river-side,
for it indicates the spot where suburban London may be said to
begin. London has a long arm, and the voyager on the silent highway
from its source on towards the sea finds, as he nears Hampton
Court, unmistakable signs that he is reaching the fringe of a giant
population. There is a greater frequency of white villas, glistening
in the sunlight, shaded and cooled by the ample foliage which is
rarely so green and prolific as on the banks of the southern Thames,
the water gently lapping the edges of the shaven lawns. The river
is dotted with boats, where before the dinghy and the outrigger had
been but occasional; the towing-path is more populated; and--it is a
melancholy story to tell--the water begins perceptibly to lose its
limpidity. The pollution of the great rivers of the world seems to be
one of the ultimate aims of civilisation. Is the Scheldt pure--the
weird mysterious Scheldt of the "Flying Dutchman"--the storied Rhine,
the classic Tiber, the "blue" Danube? Its immense navigation and the
multitudes on its banks put the Thames into worse case than them all;
but we trust the time is coming when we shall be more mindful of
Nature's lovely heritage, and that if we may never again see salmon
taken at London Bridge, neither shall we see banks of festering mud on
the very limits of the tide.

Hampton Court has been frequently described as the English Versailles,
and there is much reason in the comparison. Alike in history and in
human interest, however, Hampton Court is far more attractive than the
splendidly frigid palace of Louis Quatorze. It is true that it has
few pretensions to magnificence; but it is a compound of history, and
the history of people rather than of events. The shades of Wolsey and
Charles I. eternally haunt the portals through which so many historic
figures have passed. But the ghost of the magnificent cardinal finds
everything unfamiliar. Even the Great Hall, so often ascribed to him,
was not built until after his death; Sir Christopher Wren's new west
front is all strange to him; only in a little wing here and there can
he recognise the handicraft of his own architect. Maybe the capacious
cellar, with its wine-casks stuffed with broad pieces of gold, which,
if we are to believe tradition the cardinal used for a treasury, is
still untouched; but where are the five "fair courts" round which the
palace was grouped by its builder? Had Hampton Court remained to our
day precisely as it left the hands of the Tudor artificers, it would
have been a priceless relic of the architecture and the methods of
life affected by an English prince of the Church in the early years of
the sixteenth century. But Wren has done his incongruous and Nash his
clumsy work upon what Henry allowed to remain of the cardinal's design,
and Hampton Court, as we know it, has, architecturally speaking, a
blind side and a smiling side. There is no doubt a certain stateliness
about the East Front and the Fountain Court; but it is a heavy and
monumental stateliness which ill accords with the really picturesque
portions of the old palace. Classical symmetry and Palladian regularity
are sadly misplaced when joined to Tudor red brick. The style which
Wren chose for his additions requires greater space for its effective
display than he had at disposal; consequently, the buildings round
the Fountain Court suffer from the contracted area of the quadrangle.
English brickwork was never better than in the early part of the
sixteenth century, and in the buildings erected by Wolsey and Henry
VIII. at Hampton Court we have this Tudor brickwork at its best. The
cardinal's buildings have upon the outer walls the geometrical patterns
which were not uncommon at the time, formed by the insertion of those
stout blue bricks which are so potent to resist damp. Of the strictly
modern additions and re-buildings, the work of the last hundred and
fifty years, it were better to say nothing more than that they,
lamentably, still exist.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE PORCH.]

It is difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of the palace save from
the river. Thence, however, the glimpses of the pile are very varied,
the view of the western front being especially charming. The multitude
of towers and mullions diversifies the _façade_, very greatly to the
disadvantage of Wren's monotonous eastern front; while the interlaced
and arabesqued chimneys, the graceful clock-tower, and the high-pitched
roof of the Great Hall break the sky-line with a cunning which,
although apparently undesigned, is as effective as it well could be.
There is something peculiarly appropriate in approaching Hampton Court
from the Thames, for in the day of its pride, when the cardinal and
his thousand retainers abode there, when Henry retired to it with one
or other of his wives, or when his dour daughter Mary passed there
her honeymoon with the darkling Philip, snatching a brief leisure
from his "Acts of Faith" in Spain and the Netherlands, the river was
the silent highway upon which all the world travelled, whether from
the Tower or from Westminster. But the approach from Bushey Park,
although its historical savour is small, is more attractive almost
than that from the water. I never traverse the Chestnut Avenue without
regretting that the venerable towers and turrets of the palace do not
close in the vista. Such an avenue ought, for the sake of picturesque
completeness, to have for objective an ancient country house, gabled,
ruddy, and peopled with historic shades. The Diana water is very pretty
in its way; but it is not the most effective climax. There are some
beautiful avenues in the little park of Hampton Court itself; but
there is a Dutch flavour about them which causes them to look less
natural and spontaneous than the Chestnut Avenue, which is really
only the central of a series of nine, four on each side. Bushey Park,
like all other parks, is pretty, but flat; it happily still contains
a good head of fallow deer. For nearly fifty years--since the palace
was thrown open to the public--Bushey has been a spot of inexhaustible
delight to myriads of Londoners, the great majority of whom choose the
route through the park to Hampton Court. The novice in woodcraft might
imagine that many of the trees had attained a good old age; but so far
as those in the nine avenues are concerned, all were planted by William
III., the tutelary genius of latter-day Hampton Court, and outside the
avenues the timber is neither luxuriant nor remarkable.

By far the most interesting portion of either the new or the old palace
is the Great Hall, which, save that it has a new floor and that the
painted glass in the windows is modern, is little altered since Henry
VIII. built it. This magnificent apartment ranks with Westminster
Hall and the Hall of Christ Church, Oxford, as one of the finest
open-timbered interiors in Europe. What relation it bears to Wolsey's
Hall, the site of which it is believed to occupy, we cannot tell, since
no picture of the cardinal's banqueting-chamber has been preserved.
But "The Lord Thomas Wulsey, Cardinal, Legat de Latere, Archbishop of
Yorke, and Chancellor of Englande," had a nice taste in architecture;
and it is tolerably safe to suppose that, beautiful though Henry's
hall be, the cardinal's was better. Why the king saw fit to destroy
what Wolsey had built there is no evidence to show; probably he was
desirous that his own name rather than that of his upstart chancellor
should be permanently associated with the place, and the lavishness
with which his cypher, together with the rose and portcullis and other
heraldic devices of the Tudors, are scattered about the palace, favours
the idea. It is a little remarkable that the hall, with the adjoining
withdrawing-room, should be disconnected from the other buildings, and
that it should not be possible to reach it without passing into the
open air. The best view of the hall is obtained, not from the sombre
entrance beneath the Minstrel's Gallery, but from the daïs at the upper
end, where the high table for noble and princely guests was wont to
stand. Its proportions are majestic--106 feet by 40, with a height of
60 feet. The open-timbered roof is elaborately carved and arcaded, and
springs, as though naturally, from massive corbels between the windows.
At the extremities, where the corbels join the roof timberings, are the
graceful pendants characteristic of the Tudor time. The windows blaze
with painted glass, all a mass of heraldry and kingly pedigree, while
beneath the eye finds rest in the more subdued tones of King Hal's
tapestries of incidents in the life of Abraham. Who designed this arras
and where it was woven are questions which have never been settled; but
there is abundant internal evidence that it is either early Flemish or
German work. In the gloomy vestibule beneath the gallery is a series
of allegorical tapestries, the most curious of them representing the
seven deadly sins in such guise as would suggest that the artist took
the idea from the procession to the "Sinful House of Pride" in the
"Faërie Queen." Spenser makes Gluttony ride upon "a filthy swine";
in this tapestry it bestrides a goat. All this arras is in beautiful
preservation, particularly that which deals with the life of Abraham,
in which the high lights are worked in gold.

[Illustration: THE FIRST QUADRANGLE. / FOUNTAIN COURT.]

The painted windows of the Great Hall deserve something more than a
passing mention. Six alternate windows are filled with the arms and
descents of the wives of Henry VIII.; and it is worth noting, as some
indication of the commonness of a Plantagenet ancestry, that each
of these ladies was descended from Edward I. The probabilities are,
indeed, that even now a large proportion of the English people, above
the lower middle class, have in their veins the blood of Longshanks.
The seven intermediate windows are emblazoned with the badges of
Henry VIII.--the lion, the portcullis, the fleur-de-lis, the rose,
the red dragon of York, and the white greyhound of Lancaster. Upon
each are his cyphers and the mottoes "Dieu et mon Droit," and "Dne.
Salvum Fac Reg." The great eastern and western windows are likewise
full of badges, quarterings, and impalements. At the upper end of
the south side of the hall is yet another window more beautiful
from its pendant fan-tracery than any of the others, and emblazoned
with the arms and cyphers of Henry and Jane Seymour, and the arms
and cardinal's hat of Wolsey. The daïs characteristic of old time,
when distinctions of rank were very palpable, still remains; but the
beautiful old flooring of these painted tiles so much used by Tudor
builders has gone, although there is reason to suppose that it still
existed eighty years ago. A finer apartment for a regal banquet or a
stately pageant could hardly be conceived. One would like to believe
the legend of Shakespeare representing, in this very hall, before
Elizabeth and her somewhat flighty court, the story of the fall of
Wolsey; but there is not a tittle of real evidence in its favour. The
Withdrawing Room, or Presence Chamber, as it is sometimes called,
entered from the Great Hall, is a large, oblong apartment which has
apparently been little touched since Tudor times. It has a fine painted
oriel, a moulded plaster ceiling, and an ancient oak chimney-piece,
into which is let a portrait of the unlucky presiding genius of the
place. This chimney-piece is a modern importation from an old house at
Hampton Wick. The roughly-plastered walls are covered with tapestries
of a wildly allegorical character, considerably older than those in
the Great Hall, and less carefully preserved. Above them are Carlo
Cignani's cartoons for the frescoes in the Ducal Palace at Parma.

Beyond the Great Hall, the apartments which are shown to the public
have little architectural or personal interest. The rooms in which
Henry, Elizabeth, and Charles I. lived are all in the Tudor portion of
the palace; the series which has been converted into one great picture
gallery is in Wren's building, and runs round the Fountain Court and
along the eastern front. What this front lacks architecturally it
gains to some extent scenically, since it overlooks the geometrical
flower-beds, the straight avenues, the long and narrow Dutch canals,
beloved of the Stadtholder, the like of which one may still see in the
gardens of old world _casteelen_ in Holland. Some of the avenues, seen
from these upper windows, are very charming and effective, notably
that which is closed in by the red mass of Kingston Church. This is
not the place to discuss the pictures with which the palace abounds.
I shall not perhaps be committing treason if I suggest that they are
remarkable more for their quantity than for their quality. There is a
sprinkling of pictures of which any gallery might be proud, and some
of the portraits, of no artistic importance, are valuable by reason of
their personality. Kneller's "Hampton Court Beauties" have acquired
a factitious fame, for whatever may have been the charms of the
originals, they are assuredly not very obvious here. Poor, indiscreet
Queen Mary got herself well hated by the other ladies of the Court
whom she considered insufficiently attractive to be numbered among
the elect. Perhaps the most famous of all the pictures at Hampton
Court is Vandyke's equestrian portrait of Charles I., of which there
is a replica at Windsor. Many of the paintings are true memorials of
the old palace, and formerly hung in the ancient state apartments.
They have the savour of old associations which the rooms in which
they are hung lack--memories of times when life was more fitful, more
spectacular, and, as it seems to us in this distant age, more romantic
than it had become when Dutch William sowed _Je maintiendrai_ about
the old place, as Henry had scattered his roses and greyhounds and
fleurs-de-lis, and all the other heraldic bravery of a century when
heraldry was a fine art. Hampton Court is rich in personal history,
and many a romantic shade must haunt its Great Hall, there to recall
the vanished banquet, when the wine-cup gleamed so red, and bright
eyes danced more intoxicatingly than any vintage of Spain or France.
Many, too, there be that must still weep out their historic sorrows,
and the visionary axe must flash before many a ghostly eye. Here lived
Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, as well as Bluebeard's more fortunate
wives. Edward VI. was born, and Jane Seymour died here. Elizabeth kept
her Christmases merrily indeed at Hampton Court; tradition says that
she was here dining off a goose when the news came of the defeat of the
Armada. It was a favourite residence of Charles I., who passed here
some of his happiest and most miserable moments, and hence he fled to
Carisbrooke. Both Cromwell and Charles II., who once played a renowned
game of hide-and-seek, were fond of the water-side palace; William III.
had a passion for it, and in its park met with his fatal accident. The
first two Georges stayed here occasionally, but since 1760 it has not
been a royal residence. William IV. and his unimportant Queen liked
the neighbourhood, and spent much time in the heavy but doubtless
comfortable red-brick house at the Teddington entrance to Bushey
Park. So long as it endures, Hampton Court will be one of the most
interesting of English houses. Attractive in every aspect, in some it
is unique, and if it had no other claim to distinction it would always
be remarkable as perhaps the very first country house built in England
without a moat and drawbridge.

[Illustration: IN THE REACH BELOW HAMPTON COURT.]

The park of Hampton Court is small compared with the vast chase,
covering thirteen parishes, of which Henry made it the nucleus. It is
somewhat flat, but is well timbered, and beautifies the towing-path
all the way to Kingston. Of the palace from the river I have already
spoken. It is in view for a considerable distance towards Thames
Ditton; but the glimpse is not so striking as that obtained by the
oarsman who shoots suddenly beneath Hampton Bridge and sees the grand
old pile full in front of him. Between Hampton Court and Kingston the
river is at its most charming hereabouts. Flowing between deep banks,
over which the rushes and osiers bend, in summer it is studded to just
beyond Thames Ditton with the cool Bohemian house-boat, a veritable
desired haven to the heated oarsman. The coquettish window-curtains,
the mass of flowers on the flat roof, the whisk of dainty muslin, all
go to form one of the prettiest of Thames pictures. The Middlesex
shore is fringed with luxuriant hedgerows, quick with life and
bursting with blossom, so wide and tunnelled by the boughs of trees
that one of Mr. Stevenson's nursery heroes might lose himself amid the
interlacements, while imagining that he was stalking the red man in
his native forests. On the Surrey side the meadows come down to the
water's edge, fringed with rushes and alders. Soon above the trees
peeps out the quaint wooden spire of Thames Ditton Church, topping
a squat tower of the type beloved of the olden church builders of
the Thames Valley. At the river's brink, and under the shadow of the
church, is the famous "Swan," dear to the museful angler who delights
not in crowds, and loves to make for a charming and unobtrusive stretch
of river. With a kindly care for the welfare of the traveller, and not
unmindful of other considerations, some olden landlord of the "Swan"
procured the establishment of the ferry at his very doors. The "Swan"
was an important hostelry in the days when Thames Ditton was more in
fashion than it happily is now; and it still divides the honours of the
spot with Boyle Farm on the opposite side of the road. Dark brown of
hue, and not unpicturesque of contour, Boyle Farm stands amid effective
masses of foliage, its sloping lawn dipping down to the channel formed
by a miniature eyot which screens it somewhat from view. The ample
cedars on the lawn contrast well with the older portions of the house
which face the water. This pretty spot obtained its name from that Miss
Boyle who became in her own right Baroness de Ros, and is mentioned
in one of Horace Walpole's letters as having "carved three tablets in
marble with boys, designed by herself ... for a chimney-piece, and
she is painting panels in grotesque for the library." By her marriage
with Lord Henry Fitzgerald, Lady De Ros became sister-in-law to that
ill-starred pair, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and "Pamela." Time was when
Boyle Farm rivalled Strawberry Hill as a centre of gaiety, and its
famous "Dandies' Fête," given in 1827 by five young sprigs of nobility
at a cost of £2,500, was long a dazzling wonderment to those who are
tickled by such things. This was one of the hereditaments which fell
into dispute upon the death, without a will, of the first Lord St.
Leonards. To the angler it may be that the comfortable old inn is
more interesting than Boyle Farm with its Walpolean memories. Many
is the wit and the man of letters who, after a day of more or less
make-believe angling, has refreshed himself at the "Swan." Theodore
Hook delighted in Thames Ditton, and wrote some stanzas in its praise
in a punt one day in 1834; it was natural that with so keen a lover of
good living the "Swan" should come in for eulogy.

[Illustration: THE "SWAN," THAMES DITTON.]

In the churchyard of Thames Ditton rests "Pamela" beneath a stone
which records her original interment in the cemetery of Montmartre,
and her re-burial here. Into the stone is let a portion of the marble
slab, shattered by a German shell during the siege, which marked her
resting-place in Paris. Close by is the grave of the first Lord St.
Leonards. The tiny church possesses little architectural interest; but
it contains a number of small but curious brasses, which have been
removed from their original positions in the floor, and fixed upon the
walls, a proceeding which, although it has divorced the memorials from
the dust they commemorate, has no doubt tended to the preservation
of interesting inscriptions, such as have, in too many cases, been
destroyed. A brass which possesses a curious interest is that of
Erasmus Ford, "sone and heyre of Walter fforde, some tyme tresorer to
Kynge Edward IV., and Julyan, the wife." This worthy couple had a full
quiver in all conscience, for the brass bears representations of six
sons and twelve daughters. Erasmus died in 1533, and his wife six years
later. An even more portentous family was given to William Notte, who
died in 1576, and Elizabeth his wife--nineteen, all told. It is hard to
imagine such a posterity dying out; yet Notte is assuredly an uncommon
name. Few facts in human history are more astonishing than the rapidity
with which names become extinct. Century after century the same names
occur upon tombstones and in parish registers, and then there comes a
blank which time, instead of filling up as before, only accentuates.

[Illustration: THAMES DITTON CHURCH.]

Coming from London, Thames Ditton is the first point at which, in
summer, the house-boat, elsewhere ubiquitous, is met with. The charm
of the lagoon-like life which the house-boat affords has not lacked
eulogists; but who shall justly describe the calm delights of dusk
upon the river? It is as undefinable as happiness. The red gleam of
sunset is splendidly spectacular; the gloom of dusk upon the water is
weird, and a world of mystery seems to reside beyond. The plash of oars
continues until the last speck of light has been folded into night; the
boats shoot out from the encompassing darkness, ripple past, and enter
the farther shadows. Strange fancies enter the imaginative mind, and
these gliding boats seem like phantom craft shooting from shadow-land
to shadow-land. Sometimes there comes a hissing launch, its lights
flashing meteorically across the stream, and throwing their beams in
among the rushes and osiers like sudden electric jets, or the fitful
gleam of a will-o'-the-wisp. The awakening on the river has something
of the idyllic, especially on a Sunday morning, and if the moorings
be cast within earshot of church bells. Ditton is a prime point for
the disportment of small craft from Kingston and Surbiton, and on
fine Saturdays and Sundays the river hereabouts is crowded. All this
movement is of course unfavourable for the punt-angler, unless he be
astir early or on a day when the water is more or less deserted. In
winter, however, when boating possesses charms only for the hardiest
of enthusiasts, a good creel can be made within a stone's throw of the
"Swan."

[Illustration: HAMPTON COURT TO RICHMOND.]

Between Thames Ditton and Surbiton the river banks possess nothing of
especial interest. The broad reach is, however, exceedingly pretty. On
the Middlesex shore is a more than usually picturesque towing-path,
broad and grassy, backed by the full hedgerow which bounds the park of
Hampton Court. On the Surrey side the reeds and alders are profuse,
and edge the water almost without break. The river front of Surbiton
wears a decidedly foreign air, with its tall white houses, and winding
walks and shrubberies along the bank. This esplanade, starting from
the water-works, extends for some distance towards Kingston, and
is an excellent hint to the local authorities of other water-side
suburbs. Surbiton is an interesting spot to rowing men, for it is the
head-quarters both of the well-known Kingston Rowing Club and of the
Thames Sailing Club. Other interest it does not possess, and everything
in and about it is painfully modern. But it is a pretty spot, and being
within easy access of London is full of attraction to those who toil
and spin daily within sound of the boom of Great Paul. Anything that
Surbiton lacks in antiquity its ancient and dignified parent, Kingston,
can supply. Kingston Bridge lies pretty well a mile farther down
stream, almost at the opposite extremity of the town. The view from
the facing bank still has something of the foreign air of Surbiton;
but the aspect is Netherlandish rather than French, which the other
is. The square red tower of the church, the congeries of tiled roofs,
and the quaint little summer arbours in the sloping garden of the
river-side hotel, contribute greatly to this effect. The not unhandsome
stone bridge, the twin-brother of that at Richmond, which connects
Hampton Wick with Kingston, is a modern successor of a long ancestry
of bridges, the earliest of which dated from Saxon times. Civil war,
rather than time, seems to have made an end of all the previous
bridges save that which immediately gave place to the present. For
centuries London Bridge was the only other permanent means of crossing
the Thames; consequently, when there occurred one of the frequent
commotions in which our ancestors delighted, there was a good deal of
competition between the two sides to get Kingston Bridge destroyed
first, and so prevent communication between Middlesex and Surrey. In
the strifes of the Roses it fared ill, and during Sir Thomas Wyatt's
rebellion it was broken down to prevent the passage of the insurgents.
Since then, nearly three centuries and a half ago, the bridge has been
more tenderly treated.

[Illustration: KINGSTON, FROM THE RIVER.]

[Illustration: THE MARKET-PLACE, KINGSTON.]

Kingston is a very interesting old town, and was an important place,
and the scene of the coronation of Saxon kings a thousand years ago. It
is remarkable as being the last municipal borough on the river, with
the exception of the City of London itself. All the other places have
to put up with local boards or vestries, or other undignified mushroomy
governing bodies. Kingston possesses the real antique thing--mayor,
aldermen, town councillors, mace, and all the other symbols of
municipal importance, and is duly and rightly proud thereof. Few
English towns can boast of such antiquity, and of fewer still can it
be said that they have been boroughs since the days of John Lackland.
It seems always to have been a loyal town--the result, perhaps, of
its ancient regal associations--and much money appears to have been
spent by the olden burghers for bell-ringing and other diversions
when confusion had overtaken the king's enemies. When the Earl of
Northumberland was taken, for instance, the Kingston ringers benefited
to the extent of twenty pence--a clear exemplification of the saying
that one half of the world lives upon the misfortunes of the other
half. When Prince Charles returned from his Spanish expedition in 1624,
the joy of the townsmen was so demonstrative that they must needs spend
three and fourpence upon the clangour of joy-bells. Doubtless the young
prince, who was much at Hampton Court, was well known in the town, and
when, after his accession, his troubles pressed thick upon him, the
townsmen were loyal to the core. The actual hostilities of the great
rebellion began and ended at Kingston, singularly enough. There the
first, armed force assembled; there, near Surbiton Common, Buckingham
and Holland made the last stand for the crown, in which fight Lord
Francis Villiers, who is buried in Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster,
was slain.

[Illustration: THE CORONATION STONE AT KINGSTON.]

Charles I. and Cromwell, however, are mere personages of yesterday in
the history of Kingston. Ten hundred and fifty years ago it was the
seat of Egbert's brilliant Witenagemot, a couple of generations before
ever a king was crowned here. These coronation memories, however, are
Kingston's great pride, and almost the only passages in her history
of which any material memorial still remains. This memorial is, of
course, the famous coronation stone, an irregular mass worn smooth
and shiny by a thousand years of rain and friction. It stands finally
now in the market-place, railed off in the reverent fashion common to
chairs of state by a massive _grille_ which tends greatly, no doubt,
to its conservation. How many of our kings before the Conquest were
crowned at Kingston, and that their consecration really took place
upon this particular stone, tradition affords the only evidence. The
genuineness of the stone is well enough authenticated for the ordinary
believer who does not care to make himself miserable by a course of
universal scepticism; but I believe there have been antiquaries (of
course they were not born at Kingston) who have ventured to suggest
that the evidence is insufficient. Tradition says that seven Saxon
kings were certainly crowned here, and that probably others were.
Here are the names of the seven, with the dates of their coronation,
copied from the pedestal of the stone, with faithful adherence to the
spelling affected by Mr. Freeman:--Eadweard, 901; Adelstan, 924;
Eadmund, 943; Eadred, 946; Eadwig, 955; Eadward, 975; Ædelred, 978.
Kingston is a bright, cheerful little town, and the inhabitants seem
to bear up well beneath the infliction of their terrible Town Hall, of
which the sole tolerable points are some very good oaken carvings and
some quaint armorial glass, all removed from the old Town Hall when
it was demolished. Before the iconoclasts of Cromwellian days wreaked
their evil will upon it, the parish church of Kingston must have been
internally very interesting. There is reason to suppose that it was
rich in brasses; but all that now remains of them are the blanks in
the floor left by their removal. There are a few fine monuments, and
one ancient brass of considerable interest is to be seen still. It
commemorates Joan, the wife of Robert Skern, and her husband. The lady
was a daughter of Edward III. and the frail Alice Perrers. After the
coronation stone and the church, the only other "sight" of Kingston is
the Norman chapel of St. Helen, for many years only a ruin, which is
believed to be the successor of a still older building in which "Saint"
Dunstan is reported to have crowned King Ethelred. The crooked streets
of this old town, which disputes with Winchester the glory of having
been the ancient capital of England, are made picturesque by many fine
old red-brick houses of Jacobean and Georgian date. A generation ago
there were standing a number of even older houses irregularly gabled,
half-timbered, and barge-boarded; but they have either been demolished
or re-fronted. Some of the shops, with painfully modern fronts, have
low panelled interiors and carved staircases.

[Illustration: THE ROYAL BARGE.]

[Illustration: "THE ANGLERS," TEDDINGTON.]

At Kingston the towing-path changes to the Surrey shore, and the river
takes a bold sweep towards Teddington. Between Kingston Bridge and
Teddington Lock the path is by no means picturesque; but the wooded
beauty of the opposite bank diverts attention from the more homely
shore. Right away to Teddington, and indeed beyond, is an almost
uninterrupted succession of lawns and shrubberies and cool-timbered
pleasure-grounds, surrounding pretty riparian villas. Life in summer
in these cool veranda-girt pleasure-houses is idyllic. There you may
enjoy tennis and boating, fishing and sailing, and drink your fill of
admiration of the gaily-cushioned craft as they skim past with their
lightsome burden of coquettish muslins and gossamers. Nor is this
river-strand to be despised when the winds of "chill October" have
stripped the trees and left but bare branches, which look mournful and
desolate to those who know only the Thames of sunshine and boating
flannels. The stream runs brown, brimming, and turbid, as it swirls
along laden with a burden of russet leaves. The angler, happily, can
follow his museful sport in all seasons, and to him, as to other
contemplative men, the river has attractions in autumn not smaller than
those of summer, though different. The best English weather is a fine
autumn, good alike for work and play, and the second half of autumn is
a by no means inauspicious time for the Thames angler, for the river has
ceased to be crowded with small craft, and the lumpy water suits better
the fish then in season than if it were clear and limpid. A day's
angling upon the bosom, or a long stroll by the banks of Thames, has
many charms upon a sober October day; and a late autumnal sunset, with
its glow fading from across the water and deepening into grey behind the
bare poles of the trees, is a thing all of loveliness. Such a sunset,
with the soft mist which clouds the banks directly afterwards, is well
seen along this reach between Kingston and Teddington, where the
thickly-wooded shores shut in the mist, and where the night seems to
issue from the weird recesses of the woodland.

[Illustration: STRAWBERRY HILL.]

Teddington is but a couple of miles, as the river flows, from Kingston,
and for the last half mile of the distance the murmur, one might almost
say sometimes the roar, of the weir is audible. This same weir is the
prime delight of the angler upon the more Cockneyfied portion of the
river, and many is the patient piscator who perches himself thereon
betimes, and sits at the receipt of finny custom until the gathering
dusk renders the enterprise no longer profitable. The old-fashioned
carp, that mysterious, long-lived fish which was once, like the
peacock, an old English delicacy with which monastic fishponds swarmed,
runs to a great size about Teddington Weir, while dace are almost as
plentiful as minnows in a brook. Adjoining the weir is the lock, the
first in the ascent and the last in the descent of the river. The lock
and weir mark, to all intents and purposes, the spot, between sixty or
seventy miles from the sea, at which the Thames ceases to be tidal.
Henceforth the pilgrim, following the river on its way to the ocean,
will see at low water, particularly between here and Kew Bridge, more
mud-banks than he cares to count. At such times, too, the sense of
smell will, at all events in hot weather, be found to have taken so
keen a development that even chloride of lime would be accounted an
odour sweeter than that given forth by the nude expanse of festering
mud. At Teddington as yet there is happily little annoyance of this
kind. To see the little of interest the village affords it is necessary
to land at the ferry opposite the "Anglers," an old-fashioned inn which
has long been popular with fishermen. At Teddington, be it remembered,
is kept jealously locked up, in the custody of Mr. J. A. Messenger,
the Royal Bargemaster, the State barge which has descended to her
Majesty from early Jacobean times. In form it is graceful and elegant,
and in the centre is a covered pavilion for shelter from the sun and
rain. It is profusely gilded, and lavishly carved with mermaids and
dolphins, while near the figure-head are emblazoned the coronet and
plumes of the Princes of Wales, and the badge of the Garter. When he
was at Hampton Court Charles I. delighted to spend an hour or two on
summer evenings in this barge feeding the swans upon the river. It
has not been used since 1849, when her Majesty rowed in state to open
the Coal Exchange; but the public had an opportunity of seeing it in
1883, when it was shown at the Fisheries Exhibition. The village of
Teddington lies away from the river, and stretches on westward to
the gates of Bushey Park. At the head of the main street stands the
parish church, a not unpicturesque amalgam of the new and the old.
Its architectural interest is small, and the interior is whitewashed,
but it contains the tombs of two or three notable people. Of these,
"Peg" Woffington, the actress, is perhaps the best remembered. There
is a marble monument to her memory which records that, "Near this
monument lies the body of Margaret Woffington, spinster, born October
18th, 1720, who departed this life March 28th, 1760, aged thirty-nine
years." She was buried in the grave of her infant nephew, Master
Horace Cholmondeley, who had died seven years previously. At the end
of her wayward career poor Peg could not have found a more peaceful
resting-place. The oldest monument in the church is to Sir Orlando
Bridgeman, who died in 1674. This descendant and ancestor of a long
line of Orlandos was lord of the manor and a legal luminary. He was
Charles I.'s Commissioner for the treaty of Uxbridge; and under Charles
II. was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and Lord Keeper of the Great
Seal. When the church was being overhauled in 1833 the Bridgeman
vault was opened, and Sir Orlando's body was found lying in a lidless
coffin. So skilfully had the embalmer done his work that the remains
were perfect, even the pointed Jacobean beard being untouched. An
express was sent off to fetch the then Earl of Bradford, Sir Orlando's
descendant, who thus had the strange privilege of looking upon the
features of a progenitor who had been dead 159 years. There are two old
and uninteresting brasses, and a tablet to the memory of John Walter,
the founder of the _Times_, who died at Teddington. The churchyard
is beautifully kept, full of trees and shrubs and climbing plants,
which latter have grown luxuriantly over some of the older tombs. Here
lie buried Paul Whitehead, the poet, minus his heart, deposited in the
Despencer mausoleum at High Wycombe, whence it was most reprehensibly
stolen; Richard Bentley, who shares with Walpole the guilt of designing
Strawberry Hill; and "Plain Parson Hale," the friend of Pope, who was
for more than fifty years the incumbent of the parish.

[Illustration: POPE'S VILLA, TWICKENHAM.]

From Teddington Lock until close to Richmond the stream is undeniably
less picturesque than in the reaches described earlier in this chapter.
The river is less full of water, and when the tide is out the unsightly
and unsavoury mud-banks are always in view. The towing-path becomes
stony and arid; the hedgerows filled with poppies cease, and a very
matter-of-fact embankment on the Surrey shore has to be reckoned
with. Yet the reach between the lock and Eel Pie Island has always
been popular, and often in the summer one may see here all sorts
and conditions of notabilities disporting themselves at a little
water-party. The spot is comparatively near to London, and your amateur
boatman, with true wisdom, prefers not to get between two locks. We
are coming now to classic ground, where wit and letters, fashion and
frivolity, long have reigned. There is not another village in England
with literary associations so numerous and august as Twickenham. Pope
and Walpole are the presiding genii--neither of them, perhaps, the
most genial of genii; but the fairy-like element is supplied by the
hosts of feminine friends with whom the two bachelors were wont to
philander. Whether as a letter-writer or as an architect, Walpole
was vastly diverting; and it is a pity that so little of his brown
stucco abode can be seen from the river. Strawberry Hill is the kind
of place a mad architect might build in a delirium. We have a side
not unlike the west front of Westminster Hall might have been had
it been built of lath and plaster; then comes the keep of a Norman
castle, flanked by a Renaissance _tourelle_ from Chambord; the whole
crowned with crow-stepped Flemish gables from Antwerp, and the twisted
and fluted chimneys of a Tudor farmhouse. Then there are wings which
aim at imitating these imitations; these, it is fair to say, are
due to Walpole's successors. But howsoever astounding the exterior
of Strawberry Hill, the interior is far more remarkable. Within, as
without, the place bears every mark of having been built by a man who
learned his architecture as he proceeded. Walpole leaped gaily over
an anachronism, and saw nothing unorthodox in copying a mediæval tomb
and fashioning it into a chimney-piece, nor in taking the choir stalls
of Old St. Paul's as the model for the bookcases in his library. The
internal arrangements of Strawberry Hill are as wonderful as the
events recounted in that very Gothic story the "Castle of Otranto."
It is a mighty maze without a plan. A long, narrow corridor, leading
apparently to nothing, debouches upon a door which, when opened,
discloses a large and splendid apartment. It is, indeed, a house of
after-thoughts; but, whatever be its crudeness, it is not devoid of
value as an early forerunner of the real Gothic revival. Pseudo-Gothic
of this pattern was almost as popular towards the end of the eighteenth
century as houses built in the guise of Greek temples. Happily, most
of the examples have fallen down, but a few, such as that terrible
"restoration" of Windsor Castle, still remain. In literary and personal
memories Strawberry Hill is far richer than many houses of greater
antiquity and of real historical interest. Horace Walpole gathered
all "the town" around him in these "enamelled meadows with filigree
hedges;" and few are the great names of the last century and a quarter
which have not some connection with "the castle," as its builder loved
to call it. All the world's familiarity with this _chic_ abode of
Walpoles, Damers, and Waldegraves excuses me from dwelling lengthily
upon its peculiar but undoubted charm. Frances, Countess Waldegrave,
made it almost as fashionable as it had been in Walpolean times; and
although the bulk of the contents of the house were sold after her
death, it is pleasant to know that Baron de Stern, who became the
proprietor in 1883, purchased much of the furniture, and that, to some
extent at least, the historic continuity of olden associations has not
been broken.

[Illustration: TWICKENHAM FERRY.]

A little nearer to Richmond, and so happily placed that it commands
the river from below Richmond Hill to Teddington Lock, is the modern
and very _bizarre_ successor of Pope's Villa. Only a specialist in
architectural mania, or a member of the Société des Incoherents, could
attempt a description of this astonishing building. It is said to have
been erected by a tea merchant, and it certainly looks very much like
a cross between a Chinese pagoda and a house of cards. Its lawns and
shrubberies are very pretty, and after all there is something to be
said for having all the river-side monstrosities gathered into one
parish. The house does not occupy the exact site of the original Pope's
Villa which, thanks to a too common lack of sentiment, was demolished
long ago. The famous Grotto, one of the works of embellishment of
the "little crooked thing that asks questions," still remains, but
in a damp and mouldy condition, and despoiled of all that rendered
it interesting. Pope had no great love for gimcrackeries, and we can
in some measure imagine the tenor of the lines in which he would
have immortalised the tea merchant could he have foreseen the change
a century would bring about. The associations of Pope's Villa and
gardens are primarily literary, even as those of Strawberry Hill, at
a later day, were fashionable, frivolous, and dilettante. In Pope's
time Twickenham was the centre of literary interest in England, and
if the Jove who dwelt in this Olympus was querulous and stinging,
his genius went a long way towards making lustrous an age in which
taste and manners slept. Taste, at least, was still slumbering when
Lady Howe considered herself justified in demolishing one of the
most famous abodes that have ever been connected with our literary
history. It is in the neighbourhood of Pope's Villa that the injury
which has been done to the Thames by the mass of sewage sludge that
has been so recklessly poured into it of late years first becomes
noticeable. Although the effects of the tide are not much felt above
Richmond Bridge, the condition of the river hereabouts at low water is
lamentable. A broad edging of slimy ooze stretches for some distance
from the bank on either side, and when the weather is really hot, and
there is a drought of any considerable duration, as happened in the
summer of 1884, the odour is hardly that of frankincense. The Thames
Conservancy embankment between Twickenham and Richmond will no doubt
improve matters somewhat; but it is, to say the least, melancholy that
it should have become necessary to so disfigure the Surrey shore. Nor
does the presence of unwieldy dredges in these reaches enhance the
picturesqueness of the stream, while the new towing-path made with
dried mud from the river-bed is an agency of martyrdom.

Behind Eel Pie Island--famous in the annals of angling and sweet in
the memory of generations of picnickers--is seen the red tower of
Twickenham parish church, architecturally much more interesting than
the majority of Thames Valley churches. The ancient building fell
down in 1713, and the fact that Sir Godfrey Kneller, who was at that
time one of the churchwardens, had a hand in its rebuilding, albeit
he was not the actual architect, may account for the excellence of
the workmanship. The brickwork is almost as good as some of the best
Tudor achievements in that line. Some famous and many interesting
people lie buried here and in the churchyard. Pope's own tomb is
hidden beneath the seats; but the marble monument which he erected to
the memory of his father and mother, and in anticipatory commemoration
of himself, is still to be seen on the east wall. In that part of the
inscription which refers to himself Pope left blanks for his age and
the date of his death; but such is the carelessness which prevails in
such matters that these _lacunæ_ have never been filled up. Kneller,
the courtly painter of so many beauteous coquettes, is also buried
in the church. Here, too, sleeps Admiral Byron, the author of the
once popular "Narrative of the Loss of the _Wager_," irreverently
described by his grandson as "My Granddad's Narrative." Kitty Clive,
the charming actress who lived at Little Strawberry Hill, and for
whom Walpole had a platonic attachment, is buried in the chancel.
Naturally, in a classic village where many tremendous personages have
dwelt, Twickenham is full of fine and interesting old houses, mainly
of that square red-brick order of architecture which, if not precisely
picturesque, is suggestive of comfort and homeliness. The old houses
at Twickenham are of the sort in which Thackeray's people lived--still
redolent of the charming but indescribable odour of the days of good,
harmless Queen Anne. Perhaps the most interesting of them all is York
House, immediately opposite Eel Pie Island, in which Anne herself
and her sister Mary were born. Lord Chancellor Clarendon, Anne's
somewhat plebeian grandsire, lived there, and it is one of the five
or six houses in which he is said to have written that monstrous dull
book, the "History of the Rebellion." For several years after their
clandestine marriage the Duke of York--he who when king made so pitiful
an ending of it--lived with Anne Hyde in this house, although it was
undoubtedly called York long before then. In the second half of last
century, Prince Stahremberg, Viennese Envoy Extraordinary, lived here,
and achieved such fame as can therefrom result by a long succession of
private theatricals in which a bevy of lovely and high-born dames took
part. Orleans House likewise has royal associations, but of a somewhat
melancholy kind, as memories of exile usually must be.

[Illustration: RICHMOND: THE MEADOWS AND THE PARK.]

Twickenham might pleasantly detain us for a whole chapter; but the
wooded slopes of Richmond rise beyond, and tempt us on to "Ham's
umbrageous Walks," and the green meadows of Petersham. The river
between Eel Pie Island and Richmond Bridge has a charm all its own,
which owes much to the associations of the shores between which it
flows. The meadows on the Surrey shore are sweet to look upon from
the water; but until Ham is approached there is greater interest and
variety upon the Middlesex bank. Ham, with its famous "Walks," lies
low, and little of it can be seen from a boat. From the towing-path,
however, there is to be had a very pleasant glimpse of Ham House,
shaded, and, indeed, almost hidden, by splendid elms, some of which,
against the pale which divides the grounds from the public path, throw
in summer a cool and welcome shadow across the glaring footway. There
is something solemnly picturesque about Ham House, as, indeed, there
nearly always is about an old red-brick house closely surrounded by
graceful, darkling elms. Ham is, in fact, so hemmed in by foliage
that it but narrowly escapes being gloomy. Horace Walpole, who was
nothing if not cheerful, declaimed terribly against its dreariness; and
to Queen Charlotte it appeared "truly melancholy." It is shut in and
almost surrounded by high walls; but a good view of the front may be
obtained from the towing-path through the handsome iron gates in the
centre of a dwarf wall. These gates are said not to have been opened
for many years, and the house itself has the appearance of being rarely
lived in. Ham is a good example of very early Jacobean architecture. It
has a longish front with a slightly projecting wing at each extremity,
and is approached by avenues on almost every side. Few country houses
in the neighbourhood of London are more interesting either historically
or architecturally. Neither within nor without has any restoration been
attempted, and there has been only such renovation as was imperatively
necessary to prevent decay. It was built, it is said, for Henry
Prince of Wales, elder brother of Charles I., who died a mere youth.
The actual builder of the house was Sir Thomas Vavasour, King James's
Marshal of the Household, and the belief that it was extended for the
Prince of Wales is strengthened by the _Vivat Rex_, which, together
with the date, 1610, is carved over the principal entrance. Since 1651
it has belonged to the Earls of Dysart. The first Earl of Dysart was,
in Hibernian phrase, a Countess, Elizabeth, daughter of William Murray,
one of the owners of Ham, and the wife of Sir Lionel Tollemache. After
Sir Lionel's death, the Countess married John, Earl of Lauderdale, who,
within three years of his marriage, was created Baron Petersham, Earl
of Guildford, Marquis of March, and Duke of Lauderdale. John Maitland,
the "L" of the Cabal Ministry, and his Duchess, were two of the most
infamous creatures of the Restoration. The Duchess was bad because it
was her nature to be so; her second husband, whose relations with her
before marriage and in the lifetime of their respective first partners
had been at the least compromising, was too weak and too easily swayed
to withstand his wife's imperious ways. She openly sold the places in
the Duke's gift, and it was the opinion of Burnet that she "would have
stuck at nothing by which she might compass her ends." The "Cabal"
constantly held their councils at Ham House, the Duchess of Lauderdale
often being present to sharpen their flagging wits, exhausted by
the concoction of shameful schemes for replenishing their own and
their master's exchequers. The house was magnificently decorated and
furnished out of the spoils of politics, and internally it remains very
much as the Duchess left it--full of pictures, portraits, tapestries,
rich cabinets of ivory and cedar. In one of these cabinets is preserved
a crystal locket containing a lock of hair from the ill-fated head of
Elizabeth's Earl of Essex. It had been proposed to assign Ham House
as the residence of James II. after his enforced abdication; but that
courageous person found it expedient to take himself off, and to weep
on a kindlier shore.

[Illustration: RICHMOND: THE TERRACE FROM THE RIVER.]

It is not alone in summer, when the trees are thick with foliage, and
the sun shines cheerily in at the windows, chasing away the memory
of Lauderdale, Arlington, Ashley, and their fellows, that Ham House
presents a striking appearance. It is the very type of house to make a
winter picture, and there is nothing more characteristic of an English
winter scene than this historic pile, looked upon from the river-side.
The gaunt, bare elms, black against the dull sky, save where the snow
has left some traces on less sheltered boughs, the frosted turf, the
great iron gates and their tall piers, topped with an edging of snow
which has gathered in the corners of the ironwork, a white drift banked
up against the rusty hinges and the rarely-drawn bolt, glistening
fleecy masses lodged above the door and on every projecting frame and
cornice, a long roof hidden in snow, particles of which adhere even to
the chimney-stacks--all this makes a picture which should be painted.
The village of Ham, with its classic "Walks," is haunted by the
towering shades of Pope and Swift, and the gentle ghosts of Thomson and
Gay, an appropriate connecting-link between Twickenham and Richmond.

Of Petersham, which adjoins Ham Common, little or nothing can be
seen from the river. It has a church which, although architecturally
uninteresting, is crowded with old monuments, and with famous and
notorious dust. The Duchess of Lauderdale herself was both married
and buried here; but she has no monument. George Vancouver, the
circumnavigator and the godfather of Vancouver Island, lies here; so
do the Misses Agnes and Mary Berry--Walpole's "favourite Berrys." Not
the least distinguished of men who have been buried at Petersham within
recent years is Mortimer Collins, who is still missed from among the
ranks of lighter English writers.

Past Ham the gleaming river winds through the Petersham meadows,
with their wooded background of Richmond Park, and the broken, furzy
ground near the "Star and Garter." Here the Thames becomes as lovely
as it is between Hampton Court and Kingston. The banks are profusely
timbered, and a bushy little eyot in the centre of the stream adds to
the charm of the view. Where the towing-path for a time ends, near Kew
Foot Lane, there begins on each shore an irregular line of water-side
villas buried in lilac and laburnum, surrounded by smooth lawns with
edgings of geometrical flower-beds, those on the Middlesex side still
in Twickenham, which extends quite up to Richmond Bridge. On the
Richmond, or rather the Petersham shore, tower high up on the verdant
bluff the towers and pinnacles of the "Star and Garter," looking in
the distance not unlike a French villa on the heights of St. Cloud.
Beyond is Richmond Hill, with its leafy Terrace, adding much to the
foreign impress of the scene. The boldness with which "thy hill,
delightful Sheen," rises up almost sheer from the water, recalls some
more glorified Namur. There is a brightness and a vivacity about this
little suburb of St. James's which are rare to find in this stolid
island. It is a hard climb up the lovely lane from the river-side to
the portals of the "Star and Garter," and the gates of Richmond Park.
It is a sweet and toothsome spot this site of the "Star and Garter,"
which recalls cycles of flirtations and memories of iced champagne.
"A little dinner at Richmond" is a heading very familiar to the
persevering novel reader, and the scene of these pleasant symposia is
of course always this aristocratic hotel at the top of the hill. The
delights of Richmond Park, on the opposite side of the road, are of
another order. Here we have a vast pleasure-ground, the nearest of its
kind to London save Epping Forest. If anything, it is lovelier than
Epping, since it has been better cared for, and there has been none of
that reckless destruction which has so much marred the forest glades
of Essex. Close by the Richmond gate is one of the sweetest bits in
this thickly-wooded domain--the old Deer Park. A steep slope, green and
timbered, divides this from the higher and more public portions of the
park. In this undulating preserve, dotted with stately oaks, is kept a
large herd of fallow-deer, tame almost to temerity. The old Deer Park
has some retired nooks and lonely glades in which one may surprise the
dreamy deer sheltering themselves upon a glaring day beneath the wide
branches of the ancient oaks, up to the barrel in fern and bracken and
bramble. Scattered here and there are plantations new and old, full of
larch and fir as of more stately forest trees, in which abound game of
all sorts, but more especially the hopping rabbit and the skimming hare.

The gates of the park open upon the very extremity of the Hill, close
to Mansfield House, now an hotel, but formerly a residence of the Lord
Chancellor of that name, who once had a redoubtable encounter with
the mob, and to Wick House, where sometime lived Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Immediately beyond is the Terrace, an umbrageous promenade, dear in
morning hours to nurses and their lively charges, and later in the day
somewhat of a Rotten Row or a ladies' furlong. From his seat beneath
the trees the gazer looks down away to the west upon one of the most
lovely sights that earth affords. Between edgings of quivering green,
of lighter and of deeper hues, winds a glistening silver ribbon, in and
out among villas and townlets, always narrowing, and when the limit of
vision is reached, it seems to the straining eye as though meadow and
woodland met and stayed all further passage. From this eminence the
country lies mapped out as though seen from a balloon; and far away
beyond all trace of the river there closes in a dark and swaying mass
of foliage, like to one dense land of trees. A thin line of brilliant
blossom marks in early summer the Chestnut Avenue in Bushey Park; and
were it not that here and there the sun catches a high church tower, a
gilded vane, or mayhap a turret of feudal Windsor, it would seem from
here above that this wide and lovely stretch of country was still a
vast untrodden forest. So great is the height that even immediately
below the long, comfortable pleasure-boats loom tiny as toys, while
the steamers, happily rarer in these waters than they are lower down,
become almost picturesque in the distance. All this gleaming valley,
stretching across to the west, is the way we have come; these are the
woodlands past which we have rowed, and beneath whose shadow we have
rested; those the bends and reaches where we have done some honest,
straightforward pulling; those the shaded lawns where we have longed
for tennis, the rather for the sakes of the muslin goddesses we
furtively watched than for pure love of that Olympian game. That which
remains of our course shoots us past the skirts of Richmond town, the
river bank coloured and diversified with houses old and brown, and
houses new and white, with here and there yet other lawns. One more
embowered eyot comes round which the waters, parting, gently swirl.
Here lie anchored a lazy barge or two, and as we plash past them
into mid-stream again we are full in face of Richmond Bridge, grey,
many-arched, and slightly bowed. Beyond the bridge there rises a chain
of swelling uplands, all massy with foliage, and dotted with the red
and white of lotus-eating villas.

  /J. Penderel-Brodhurst/.



[Illustration: RICHMOND BRIDGE.]


CHAPTER IX.

RICHMOND TO BATTERSEA.

    The River at Richmond--A Spot for a Holiday--The Old Palace
    of Sheen--The Trumpeters' House--Old Sad Memories--Richmond
    Green--The Church--Kean's Grave--Water Supply--The
    Bridge--The Nunnery of Sion and Convent of Sheen--Sir
    William Temple--Kew Observatory, Isleworth--Sion House and
    its History--Kew Palace and the Georges--Kew Gardens--Kew
    Green--Brentford--Mortlake--Barnes--Chiswick--The
    Boat-race--Hammersmith--Putney--Barn Elms--Putney and Fulham--The
    Bishops of London--Hurlingham--The Approach to a Great City.


It would be easy to find spots on the Thames where the natural
features--the wood-clad slope, the grassy sward, and the gliding
stream--were associated in equal beauty, but it would be difficult to
meet with any more picturesque combination of these with the dwellings
of men than may be seen on the river reach just below Richmond Bridge.
The light-grey arches, through which the Thames flows ripplingly,
are backed by the groves of Richmond Hill. On the one hand are the
shady gardens and villas that now thickly stud the meadow plain of
Twickenham; on the other, the houses of the town, after thronging down
to the waterside at the entrance of the bridge, give place to statelier
mansions with ample pleasure-grounds. It was doubtless a more imposing
sight when the façade of the old palace of Sheen, which these mansions
have replaced, overlooked the margin of the Thames; but it can have
hardly been more picturesque than now. The low iron railing allows the
eye to wander from the path by the riverside to the green pastures and
lawns overshadowed by fine trees, to the old-fashioned façade of the
"Trumpeters' House," while the more ambitious semi-classical design of
Asgill House on the one hand, and of Queensberry House on the other, in
closer proximity to the river, give an irregularity to the grouping,
and perhaps accord better with the neighbouring town than the unbroken
front of the Tudor palace is likely to have done. In its days, also,
there were no bridges, and though the railway viaduct below might well
be spared, the stone bridge must have improved a view of this kind. At
any rate, this reach of the Thames is classic in art and literature; it
has engaged the pencil of Turner, and is full of memories of Pope and
Gay and Thomson.

The space between the two bridges seems to invite the traveller to
linger. Fresh, perchance, from the streets of London, the odours of
the underground railway still in his nostrils, the vapour of its
smoky streets still lingering in his lungs, a little heated, it may
be, and still mindful of towns in his walk from the railway station
through Richmond streets to the bridge, he walks rapidly for a brief
space along the towing-path, and then perforce halts in another and
a new land. If, fortunately, he has chosen a day still early in the
summer, before the average Londoner has quite realised that it is
time to begin to take "an outing;" if he has arrived on the spot at
an hour when the rowdy element, still, unhappily, too prominent among
the dwellers in our metropolis, has not yet broken the peace of the
Thames by those simian howlings or that loud-voiced blasphemy, which
is deemed expressive of pleasure, then he will find it hard to detach
himself from this reach of the river, and will imitate the elders
of Richmond, two or three of whom he will generally find sunning or
shading themselves on the benches near the waterside. Is it not enough
to watch the trees almost dipping their branches in the stream, to find
excitement in the hovering of a fly over its surface, in the splash of
a fish, or even in the tiny swirls of the stream itself? In this dreamy
calm which steals so quickly over us we watch the hovering butterfly
or the flitting dragon-fly, the little dramas of animal life, their
comedy or their tragedy, with an interest that causes the graver issues
which we left behind barely an hour ago to fade from the mind. What
more do we need after the noise of the streets than this perfect calm
of the air, undisturbed save by the faint rustle of the breeze among
the leaves, or the twittering note of a bird? What more, after the
dusty pavements, than these glimpses of green lawn, of summer flowers
in garden-beds or pendant from wall and trellis; of shadowy walks under
green trees of Britain or darkling cedars from Lebanon? As we dream,
memories rise of a dead-and-gone past--of many an episode of English
history which is connected with this little reach of our river, perhaps
the most classic ground on the Thames outside the precincts of the
metropolis. Kings and queens, many a lord and lady of high degree, many
a man on whom genius has conferred a place in history which birth
alone cannot give, have loved to linger along this bit of Thames-side,
or to float idly on its stream.

    "Their mirth is sped; their gravest theme
        Sleeps with the things that cease to be;
    Their longest life, a morning gleam;
    A bubble bursting on the stream,
        Then swept to Time's unfathomed sea."--/Kenyon./

But let us awaken from our reveries to dwell more particularly upon the
memories called up by the Thames below Richmond Bridge.

Once on a time the pride of Richmond and the glory of this part of
the river was its royal palace--a favourite residence of several of
the kings of England. There is some uncertainty as to when the manor
of Sheen--for that was its earlier name--came into the hands of the
Crown; but the first royal owner of the entire estate appears to
have been Edward III. He also is said to have been the builder of
the palace, although there must have been a residence on its site in
the days of both his father and grandfather. Here, in fact, his long
reign came to its melancholy end. Within the walls of Sheen he lay,
robbed and deserted by courtiers and favourites, tended only by a
"poor priest in the house," who found the dying monarch absolutely
alone, and spoke words of exhortation and hope to soothe the parting
struggle. His body was conveyed from Sheen by his four sons and other
lords, and solemnly interred within Westminster Abbey. His grandson
and successor lived here for a time, but on the death of his queen,
Anne of Bohemia, within its walls, took such a hatred to the palace
"that he, besides cursing the place where she died, did also for anger
throwe down the buildings, unto where former kings being wearie of the
citie, were wont for pleasure to resort." Henry V. rebuilt the palace,
erecting a "delightful mansion of curious and costly workmanship."
It was a favourite residence of Edward IV., and was held in equal
regard by Henry VII. In his days, however, it suffered twice from
fires, the first one destroying a considerable portion of the older
buildings. Henry rebuilt the injured part, and altered the name from
Sheen to Richmond. It is also interesting to learn that architects made
mistakes or builders scamped their work even in the courts of Tudor
kings, and at peril, as one would have thought, of their ears, if not
of their necks; for shortly after the second fire a new gallery, on
which the king and his son Prince Arthur had been walking a short time
previously, fell down, fortunately without injuring any one. Richmond
Palace was the scene of many of the principal festivities in this
king's reign; much also of his accumulated treasure was hoarded within
its walls. His successor, the much-married monarch, came frequently
here in the earlier days of his reign, but the palace fell out of
favour in the later, and was the country residence of his divorced
wife, Anne of Cleves. Elizabeth, however, greatly liked it, and her
last days were spent under its roof. She came from Chelsea to Richmond,
in the month of January, sickening of the disease that caused her end,
and overcome with melancholy for the death of Essex. She refused to
take food or medicine or rest; she would not go to bed, but sat on
cushions piled on the floor; a melancholy picture of distress, but with
the old spirit left, as when she flashed out upon Cecil for having
inadvertently used the words "she _must_ go to bed."

[Illustration: BETWEEN RICHMOND AND KEW.]

The palace was an occasional abode of James, her successor, and his
queen, and the residence of their eldest son, the accomplished Prince
Henry, "England's darling." Here he died, amid universal lamentation,
and his brother succeeded to the expectation of a crown, and the
ultimate doom of the headsman's axe. Prince Henry would hardly have
pulled down "Bishops and Bells," but his brother secured their downfall
and his own by trying unduly to exalt them. Prince Charles, after
an interval of some three years, took up his abode at the palace,
and Richmond once more awoke, for the new Prince of Wales scattered
his money--or rather the nation's money--royally while he played the
fool with "Steenie," Duke of Buckingham. After he assumed the crown
his visits here became less frequent, and after his execution it
was ordered by Act of Parliament that the valuable contents of the
palace should be sold. Though inhabited from time to time after the
Restoration, it never returned to its former greatness. Much of the
building was destroyed before the end of the seventeenth century, and
now only a few fragments remain. Old pictures and documents enable us
to form a good idea of its ancient splendour, and a right noble and
picturesque structure it must have been. On the north side it looked
on to Richmond Green, where now may be seen the remnant of its ancient
gatehouse; on the south-west it came down to the margin of the Thames.
A narrow lane, leading from the Green to the riverside, and emerging
opposite to the noble old elm which forms so marked a feature in
the view from the river, passes across the site of the court of the
ancient palace, and, doubtless, over the foundations of its principal
buildings. Roughly speaking, the site of the river façade is now
occupied by the three mansions already mentioned, which themselves,
as we shall show, are not without a history. The principal of these
lies far back from the river; a lovely garden, shaded with trees,
intervenes. Judging from the drawings, the buildings of the palace
approached near to the waterside, and the space between had rather a
barren and desolate look, as though it were left in the rough as a mere
foreshore. Now the gardens make the passer-by long to trespass. The
owners, however, beneficently (or is it to secure a good view of the
river?) keep their boundary fences low. Building on the site of the
old palace seems to have begun quite early in the last century. The
heavy, but stately red-brick house, with a stone portico, which we have
already mentioned, was erected by a Mr. Richard Hill, brother of Mrs.
Masham, the well-known favourite of Queen Anne. It bears the name of
the Trumpeters' House, from two statues of figures blowing trumpets,
which once adorned the façade. The more modern mansion, nearer to both
the bridge and the river, stands on the site of the villa occupied by a
noted character in the last century, the Duke of Queensbury--commonly
known as old Q.--one of the least virtuous and respectable members of
the aristocracy in a not too virtuous age. There is a characteristic
story quoted by an historian of Richmond which carries its own moral.
Wilberforce, when a young man, was invited to dine at the Richmond
mansion. "The dinner was sumptuous, the views from the villa quite
enchanting, and the Thames in all its glory; but the Duke looked on
with indifference. 'What is there,' he said, 'to make so much of in
the Thames? I am quite weary of it: there it goes, flow, flow, flow,
always the same.'" In his old age he deserted Richmond, having taken
offence, it is said, at the inhabitants. There is an open space between
the towing-path and the railings of the ducal villa that the Duke
enclosed and converted to his own use, trusting that fear of his rank,
desire to retain his custom, and gratitude for his benefactions--for
he was no niggard--would combine to secure the acquiescence of the
inhabitants. But these motives proved insufficient; the town commenced
an action, which was, of course, successful, and the Duke, deeming its
inhabitants ingrates, withdrew to London. There he found occupation in
such pleasures as money and rank could purchase--and these could bring
more a century since than now. When he became too infirm to move about,
he sat on his balcony under a parasol, to ogle the pretty women as they
passed by, and died with his bed-quilt strewn with _billets-doux_,
which his enfeebled hands could not open--_vanitas vanitatum_. No spot
on the Thames, save Hampton Court, is so rich in historic memories as
this delightful bit of the river below Richmond Bridge. In the still
evening air, as the glow is fading from the west, as the riverside
becomes deserted, and the toilers and pleasurers have alike gone
home, the ghosts of old times come back, and the actualities of the
nineteenth century fade away into the shadows of the past. Tender
and pleasant memories would be most in harmony with the scene, and
these are by no means absent; the sounds of music and dance are not
wanting from the stately walls which our fancy conjures up, nor from
the gilded boats which seem to float along the stream. Yet still the
more prominent are sad, lurid evenings, presaging coming storm--Edward
dying in solitude and dishonour, to leave his kingdom to a feeble fool;
Elizabeth, in her overshadowed youth, quitting the palace _tanquam
ovis_--to quote her own words; and again, when the brightness of
life had passed, dying slowly there, her last hours darkened by many
sorrows, not the least being the thought of the unworthy pedant who
would take up her sceptre; the parting agony of his eldest son, making
way for one whose very virtues were his bane, and whose memory was only
redeemed by the mistaken necessity of his execution. These are thoughts
tragic enough to darken the recollections of the palace of Richmond,
and cast some shadow on a scene which is one of the fairest in the
neighbourhood of the metropolis.

We must not, however, pass on from this spot without turning aside from
the river to give one glance at Richmond Green, on which the northern
front of the palace formerly looked. It is a noble expanse of grass,
surrounded by trees, some, probably, survivors of the old elms which
bordered it in the days when the Parliamentary commissioners made their
visitation; others of more recent planting. Here, where once jousts and
tournaments were held--sometimes with fatal result--the lads play at
cricket, and the old folk saunter under the shadows of the branches.
The enclosing road is bordered with houses of every date, from Queen
Anne to Queen Victoria, and among some of the former stands the chief
remnant of the palace of the Tudors. It is the gateway of Henry VII.'s
structure, a plain four-centred, depressed arch, over which is a
mouldering stone still bearing the royal arms. The adjoining house,
though modernised, is a part of the ancient façade, and contains a fine
old staircase; and the buildings running backward on one side of the
courtyard still retain in their walls pieces of the ancient brickwork;
and some of their rooms are of interest. One, indeed, is commonly
pointed out as that in which Queen Elizabeth died; but the tradition is
unworthy of credence. The modern "Queen Annist" will take much pleasure
in the contemplation of Maid of Honour Row, a line of houses erected
early in the last century. On the stage of the theatre which stands by
the Green the best actors of London often appeared, and it is noted as
the place where Edmund Kean, stricken by fatal illness while playing
the part of Othello, sank into the arms of his son Charles, who was
acting Iago. He died shortly afterwards in a small room in an adjoining
house, and is buried in the churchyard.

Richmond Church is not without interest, though it is without
beauty. There is a much-battered low stone tower, and a body, which
dates chiefly from the last century, built of brick, in what may be
called the Hanoverian style. It is, however, in good repair, and in
excellent order within, and is, at any rate, of more interest than
many feeble modern imitations of mediæval work. Several men of note
have been buried within its walls, or in its churchyard. Among them is
the noted Gilbert Wakefield, sometime vicar of Richmond, one of the
victims of the reactionary terror inspired by the French Revolution.
James Thomson, the poet, also lies within the walls. Besides these
are members of the Fitzwilliam family, who had their residence near
the Green, among them being the Earl who enriched the University of
Cambridge with a fine collection of paintings and drawings. Lady Di
Beauclerk, the friend of Dr. Johnson, with Dr. Moore, the author,
father of the hero of Corunna; Mrs. Barbara Holland, also among the
well-nigh forgotten names of literature; and many actors besides Edmund
Kean have been laid to rest in the precincts of Richmond old church.
The increase of the town has caused the building of two other churches,
and the institution of a cemetery.

Richmond, though so near abundance of water, has sometimes been in
danger, like the ancient mariner, of being without a drop to drink. To
use the Thames is, of course, impossible, the present age objecting to
dilute sewage; and the supply from other sources has not always been
sufficient. A few years ago an attempt was made to obtain a supply from
the porous beds which, in most parts of England, succeed to the stiff
blue clay underlying the chalk. The result was more interesting to
geologists than satisfactory to the ratepayers. As is the case beneath
London, this porous stratum was found to be wanting, an upland mass
of more ancient rock having evidently interrupted the sea beneath the
whole area now occupied by the London district, and the boring tools
pierced for nearly seventy yards through more ancient beds, till at
last the unprofitable task had to be abandoned.

[Illustration: SION HOUSE.]

The stone bridge, which we have already mentioned, is a comparatively
modern institution. The Act for its erection was obtained in the
year 1773, and prior to that the Thames had to be crossed in a boat.
Local chronicles tell us that there was much disputation and some
heart-burnings before the site was determined. The design is good, and
the light grey of the stone contrasts well with the verdure of the
trees and the darkling water of the Thames. The railway bridge--an
iron structure--is a doubtful addition to the scenery of the river;
like many another institution of modern times, a railway is of
unquestionable utility, but the less we see of it the better. However,
we may honestly say of this that it might easily be a greater eyesore.
Beyond it houses of a substantial character, and their pleasant
gardens, continue to border the left bank of the river, but on the
right bank the scene quickly changes, and we could fancy ourselves
dozens of miles away from the metropolis. The slope of the elevated
plateau, which forms so marked a feature from Richmond Bridge, and
is climbed in part by the town, has now trended inland. The Thames
has struck out for the middle of the shallow valley, along which its
present course meanders, and is bordered now on either side by an
alluvial plain. This, on the right bank--the inner side of the curve
formed by the stream--is occupied by the extensive property belonging
to the Crown of England, of which the more northern portion--that
known as Kew Gardens--is the more familiar to the London public.

We come first to the more secluded part--the old deer park, a great
expanse of meadow-land, dotted, often thickly, by groups of fine trees.
This was an appendage of the ancient palace of Richmond, or Sheen,
of which mention has already been made. It is separated from the
towing-path and causeway, which runs along the riverside, by a shallow
ditch or canal, speckled, in the early summer-tide, with the flowers
of the water ranunculus. From the stream, or, better still, from this
causeway, we enjoy the beauty of the great grassy plain, and its scent
as it withers in due season into hay, beneath the heat of the summer
sun, and the ever-new grouping of the trees, which thus obviate the
possible monotony of meadow scenery. The only building that for some
time arrests the eye--if we except a pair of small stone obelisks--is
the white house occupied by the Kew Observatory--a not unpleasing
structure, which we shall presently notice more in detail. Not far
from this, and at the same time no great distance from the old palace
of Sheen, was the Carthusian convent, founded some four and a half
centuries since by Henry V.

As report has it, the king was much disquieted in his conscience as to
the mode in which his father had gained the crown by the deposition
and death of Richard II., and as a peace-offering founded, in the year
1414, the Convent of Sheen and the Nunnery of Sion, on the opposite
side of the Thames. It was incorporated under the name of the House of
Jesus at Sheen, and the rules ordered that when the devotions at the
one convent ceased those at the other should begin. These foundations
are recorded in the speech assigned by Shakespeare to Henry prior to
the Battle of Agincourt:--

                  "I have built
    Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
    Still sing for Richard's soul."

Royally endowed, and pleasantly situated, the monastery of Sheen is not
without its place in history. The Prior of Sheen was powerful enough to
avert for a time, by his intercession, the due penalty of death from
the pretender Perkin Warbeck, who escaped from the Tower and sought
refuge within the walls of the monastery. But a second attempt to
break prison brought him to the scaffold. To Sheen the body of James
IV. of Scotland was brought from the field of Flodden for burial, a
purpose which seems to have been unfulfilled, for the corpse, wrapt in
lead, was seen lying in a lumber-room some years after the suppression
of the monastery. Hard by its walls the noted Dean Colet, founder
of St. Paul's School, built himself a small house, to which, for a
time, the great Cardinal Wolsey retreated after his disgrace. After
the suppression of the monastery its buildings became the possession
of more than one noble family in succession. According to Spelman, a
curse was upon it, for in less than a century and a half it went to
nine owners, never once descending from father to son. It witnessed
the marriage of Sir Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart, and the childhood
of Lady Jane Grey. In the reign of Mary the monks came back for a
brief season, but they had again to cross the seas when Elizabeth
reigned. After many changes, demolitions, and additions, a part of the
monastery, or a residence upon a portion of its site, was occupied by
Sir William Temple, the well-known statesman, and its gardens became
the scene of his experiments to discover "how a succession of cherries
may be compassed from May to Michaelmas, and how the riches of Sheen
vines may be improved by half-a-dozen sorts which are not known here."

[Illustration: THE RIVER AT KEW.]

Evelyn, who incidentally notices that the abbey precincts had become
divided between "several pretty villas and fine gardens of the most
excellent fruits," remarks on the excellence of Sir W. Temple's
orangery, and the perfect training of the wall-fruit trees in his
garden. Here the retired statesman, away from the hurly-burly of
politics, meditated on horticulture and indited epistles, while King
James was vainly grasping at a tyranny, and the Prince of Orange was
marching eastward from Torbay. When that prince became king he visited
Temple at Sheen, but after this time the latter chiefly resided at Moor
Park; so that it is with this place rather than Sheen that the memory
of his young secretary, afterwards the noted Dean of St. Patrick, is
associated. All traces of the ancient monastery have now disappeared,
the last remains having been destroyed about the year 1769.

The "Kew Observatory," which we have already noticed, stands isolated
among the broad meadows, away from dust and noise, and from the
reverberation of traffic. It was built for George III. by Sir William
Chambers, "for the purpose of studying astronomical science with
special reference to the transit of Venus." But after a time its
activity declined, and for many years "Kew may be said to have quietly
glided into a long winter of hibernation, being under the careful
guardianship of a curator and reader." Attention was once directed
towards it in a painful way, a double murder having been committed
by the janitor, a man named Little, previously much respected in the
neighbourhood, who was arrested in the house of his victims and duly
executed in the year 1795. The observatory was suppressed by Sir
Robert Peel, and the building offered to the Royal Society. That body,
however, refused to undertake the charge, as it did not possess any
funds applicable for the purpose, but by means of the subscriptions
of various men of science, and a grant from the British Association,
an observatory for meteorological and electrical observations was
established under the charge of a committee, at which much important
work was done. In the year 1871 the grant of the British Association
was withdrawn, and a sum of £10,000 was placed in the hands of
the Royal Society by Mr. Gassiot, for the maintenance of magnetic
observations at Kew. It is now under the charge of a committee termed
the Meteorological Council, and is the central establishment for
observations relating to meteorology. Here instruments relating to this
science are tested and marked, and a large amount of most valuable work
is executed.

After the little town of Isleworth--which lies on a concave bend of
the river, under the lee of some low islands--has been passed, the
Thames is bordered on either side by a park, and, for the last time
on its course to London, almost shakes itself free of the grasp of
the builder. On the one hand the Royal Gardens at Kew succeed to the
Old Deer Park; on the other lies the ample domain of the Duke of
Northumberland, whose large but ugly house becomes a conspicuous--a
too conspicuous--feature in the landscape. We may turn aside for a
moment from the property of the Crown to notice that of the house of
Percy, once hardly less potent. Sion House, which is separated from the
river by a level expanse of meadow, interrupted only by one low mound,
which supports some fine old cedars, occupies the site of the second
chantry founded by Henry V., as a peace-offering for the sins of his
father. The dedication-stone was laid by the king in the year 1416.
It was a convent for both sexes, though the nuns predominated, these
being sixty in number, while the brethren were only twenty-five. But
they were entirely separated, a thick screen dividing them even in the
chapel, where, indeed, both sexes were seldom present at the same time,
so that all occasion of scandal was carefully avoided. The convent
was endowed with the manor of Isleworth, and at a later time received
many grants of property which had belonged to the alien priories.
Finding the original buildings too small, the society obtained licence
to raise themselves a new convent, on the site now occupied by the
Duke's mansion, which is rather to the east of that on which the king
built. Life glided by smoothly and uneventfully for the inmates;
they became rich, and lived easily, but harmlessly, until the crash
of the Reformation came. For some reason or other they had incurred
the special displeasure of the king, and were accused of harbouring
his enemies, and being in collusion with the Holy Maid of Kent. One
of the monks, together with the Vicar of Isleworth, was executed at
Tyburn. The lands were distributed, but the house and the adjoining
property were retained by the Crown, the nuns retreating to Flanders.
For a brief space, indeed, in the reign of Queen Mary, they returned
to their old home, but on her death again became exiles. The society
still continued to exist, though for a while its members suffered great
poverty; but at last they settled "in a new Sion on the banks of the
Tagus, at Lisbon, in the year 1594. Here they still remain, after the
lapse of nearly three centuries, restricting their membership entirely
to English sisters, and still retaining the keys of their old home, in
the hope, never yet abandoned by them, of eventually returning to it."
It is said that some half century or more ago, when they were visited
at Lisbon by the then Duke of Northumberland, they told his Grace the
story of having carried their keys with them through all their changes
of fortune and abode, and that they were still in hopes of seeing
their English home again. "But," quietly remarked his Grace, "the
locks have been altered since those keys were in use"--a reply which,
whether intended or not, had much significance in it. There are many
good people in the world who cling tenaciously to the keys which were
fabricated by the worthies of olden time, forgetful that the locks have
been altered, so that their binding and loosing power is gone.

Doubtless the nuns made their own comments when in later years a
gruesome story came from England to them in their new home across the
sea. The coffin of Henry VIII., on its journey towards Windsor, was
laid for a night within the convent walls; there the bloated corpse
within burst, and the blood dropped on the pavement, so that it was
licked up by the dogs, as that of the King of Israel in the streets
of Samaria. A few months later the convent was granted to the Lord
Protector Somerset, who began the building of the present mansion,
and when he fell on the scaffold, it was given to Dudley, Duke of
Northumberland. There was a curse upon it. Lord Guildford Dudley had it
for his home, and from its door he led the Lady Jane, his wife, to the
Tower, to claim the throne of England, and receive at last the stroke
of the headsman's axe. Elizabeth granted it to Henry Percy, Earl of
Northumberland, but he was no exception to the ill-luck of his house,
for he was afterwards convicted of being an accomplice in the Gunpowder
Plot, disgraced, heavily fined, and imprisoned in the Tower. His son,
the tenth earl, repaired the house, and from beneath its roof the
children of the ill-fated King Charles were conducted to St. James's
Palace to bid their father a last farewell. One of them--Charles
II.--held his court here during the Great Plague, and royalty has
more than once in later times been a guest within the walls of Sion
House. The mansion retains the general outline of the Lord Protector's
building, though it has been modernised, and probably made uglier.
It is a bleak-looking structure, faced with grey stone, quadrangular
in plan, as we note in passing, with embattled square towers at the
corner. The principal façade is relieved by an arched terrace, and
over the central bay now stands the lion with outstretched tail, once
so conspicuous on Northumberland House in the Strand. The gardens and
grounds, laid out in the style of the last century, are fine, the
plant-houses being especially noted--in fact, they "may be said to be
no mean rivals to Kew."

But to these we must return, for the open meads of the Old Deer Park
have now been replaced by the groves of Kew. First come the wilder
portion of the royal gardens, devoted more especially to forest trees,
scenes of sylvan beauty and quiet solitude, as few of the visitors find
their way hither, but remain in the more highly cultivated portion,
among the plant-houses and the gay parterres, in the neighbourhood
of the Richmond road. Yet a more delightful spot for a ramble cannot
easily be found; the great trees, feathering down to the sward, cast
cool shadows in the summer heat; the long pool here glitters in the
light, here lies still and dark beneath overhanging foliage. In due
season many a flowering shrub adds a new and more striking diversity to
the varied tints of verdure, and the water-lilies expand their cups of
gold and silver among their broad floating leaves; the fowl float idly
by; the birds twitter among the branches; among the scents of springing
grass and of opening flowers, amid the flickering lights and shadows,
and the peace of the forest, the roar of London streets dies away from
the wearied ears, and the smoke of the town is forgotten in the savour
of the pure air.

From the river bank we obtain glimpses from time to time of the
glittering roof of the great palm-house, of the various buildings
devoted to botanical science, and of the tall pagoda. The history of
these gardens, now so great a boon to the dwellers in London, must be
briefly sketched, for they are inseparable from the Royal River; and
the site of the palace, for a time a favourite residence of kings and
princes of England, is but a short distance from its bank, although
the walled enclosure prevents so free a view of this as of the other
parts of the gardens. The building which now bears the name of "the
palace" was, in the earlier part of the last century, called the Old
Dutch House. It is a red-brick structure, heavy in style, but not
unpleasing, dating from the reign of James I., and probably built by
Sir Hugh Portman, a wealthy merchant. Kew House, or "the palace," as it
was often called, stood a little more than a hundred yards away, and
was obtained on a lease by Caroline, wife of George II., and afterwards
purchased by Queen Charlotte. It became the country residence of
Frederick, Prince of Wales, and after his death was inhabited by his
widow. Here was spent much of the early life of the young prince,
afterwards George III. Brought up in the strictest seclusion, jealously
guarded by his mother and her favourite, Lord Bute, he received an
education which cramped his faculties and in many respects disqualified
him for his future lot. "The king lamented, not without pathos, in his
after-life that his education had been neglected. He was a dull lad,
brought up by narrow-minded people ... like other dull men the king was
all his life suspicious of superior people. He did not like Fox, he did
not like Reynolds, he did not like Nelson, Chatham, Burke; he was testy
at the idea of all innovations, and suspicious of all innovators. He
loved mediocrities."

Here, then, the young princes and princesses, after the death of their
weakly and insignificant father, grew up under the guardianship of
their stern and unloving mother, assisted, as every one will remember,
by Lord Bute, who, at one time, had a fair claim to the title of the
most unpopular man in England. It was with him that Prince George was
riding when the note was put into his hand which apprised him that an
end had come to his grandfather's pleasuring, and that he was king, and
at Kew Palace he remained till the following morning. During the first
twenty or thirty years of his reign at least three or four months of
every year were spent at Kew, where, as has been said, he "played Darby
and Joan" with Queen Charlotte, and the young princes and princesses
amused themselves like other children in the gardens. The great
contrast between the mode of life of this and the preceding reigns
was not altogether to the liking of the people; the rarity with which
the king appeared in public, or entertained the members of the "upper
ten," the infrequency of state ceremonials, gave some colour to the
accusation that he affected an Oriental seclusion, and was aiming at
establishing a despotism. It had also, in all probability, another ill
effect, that the king and queen lost their social influence over the
aristocracy, and by standing aside from their position of the leaders
did not exert upon its members that influence which would naturally
have resulted from the purity and simplicity of their own lives.
Certainly, society at large continued hardly less corrupt under the
young king, whose reputation was spotless, than it had been when his
grandfather kept court with Walmoden and Yarmouth. It was in Kew Palace
also that the unfortunate king was secluded during the first attack of
that mental disorder which afterwards permanently darkened his life.

The original Kew House was eventually pulled down by George III., who
commenced the building of a much larger palace in its neighbourhood.
This, which, so far as we can judge from prints, promised to be as ugly
as are most structures of that period, was an incomplete shell when the
king died, and was happily destroyed by his successor. The Dutch House,
however, which was inhabited by the old king, and in a room of which
Queen Charlotte died, still remains, though now almost unfurnished and
unused. Here, also, in the drawing-room, were celebrated the marriages
of two royal dukes, Clarence and Kent, the latter the father of the
present Queen.

[Illustration: THE PAGODA IN KEW GARDENS.]

One other memory also lingers about the precincts of Kew. On the lawn,
perhaps a furlong from the old palace, we may notice a sun-dial. This
marks the site of a little observatory, wherein, in the year 1725,
before the house became a royal residence, James Bradley made the
first observations which led to his two important discoveries, that of
the aberration of light and of the nutation of the earth's axis. This
sun-dial, together with a memorial tablet, was erected by William IV.

[Illustration: KEW BRIDGE.]

Tempting as the "Royal Gardens" appear from the river, the promise
is more than fulfilled on closer inspection. Places devoted to the
pursuit of science are apt, in their studious severity, to be somewhat
repellent to the uninitiated; and even a botanic garden, beautiful as
some of its contents must always be, is occasionally no exception to
the rule. But this is not the case at Kew. There, indeed, work is not
sacrificed to pleasure. Its arrangements are scientific and precise
enough to satisfy the most exacting. Its museums and laboratories
afford opportunity for the severest study; but yet, in many parts of
the garden, nature is so happily blended with art, apparent freedom of
growth and association with scientific order and exactness, that as
we wander over its lawns, or linger beneath the shadow of its stately
trees, we can abandon ourselves simply to the beauties of nature, and
"consider the lilies of the field" without counting their stamens or
their pistils. The glasshouses, open during certain hours of the day,
are often bright with exotic flowers; in the great tank the huge lily
from South American rivers opens its blossoms among pond-flowers from
sunnier regions than our own. The palm-house enables the home-staying
Briton to form some conception of the verdure of a tropical forest. For
those who love the formal style of gardening, trim parterres bright
with many colours, there is satisfaction on the terraces by the side of
the ornamental water, while those who prefer a wilder growth need only
wander away towards the outskirts of the garden. On the rockery, which,
in its present form, is one of the later additions to the gardens,
many an Alpine flower will be seen flourishing in the Valley of the
Thames as vigorously as on the crags of the Pennine or Lepontine Alps;
while in the new picture gallery--the gift of Miss North--the singular
skill and enterprise of the donor enables us to wander among the
floral beauties of every land, and to put a girdle of flowers around
the earth in much less than forty minutes. But to see Kew Gardens in
their glory we should visit them when the rhododendron and its kindred
flowers are in bloom. The shrubbery of azaleas is bright with every
shade of saffron, and is dappled tenderly with clusters of white and of
pink. The great bushes of rhododendron are all aglow with colour, and
down the long walk is a many-tinted vista of blossoming shrubs.

[Illustration: CAMBRIDGE COTTAGE, KEW.]

Formerly, the pleasaunces at Kew abounded in the absurd anachronisms
which, in the days of our great-grandfathers, were supposed to enhance
the beauties of a garden--sham ruins, stucco temples, and the like.
There was even a Merlin's cave; perhaps, at times, a magician also was
on view. These monstrosities have, happily, for the most part, crumbled
away, or have been more promptly destroyed; fragments of them have
gone to build the rockeries, and served thus some useful purpose in a
district where stone is far to find. The Chinese pagoda almost alone
survives, conspicuous owing to its height from many points in all the
country round, and of this all that we can say is that it is a pagoda
upon whose architectural merits we must leave the Chinese to pass a
judgment--remarking, meanwhile, that it harms the landscape no more
than a water-tower, and considerably less than a factory chimney.

Gliding along the river, past the enclosing wall of the palace, we
are confronted on the opposite shore by the houses of Brentford.
These we will leave for a moment to finish our say concerning Kew,
whose handsome many-arched bridge of grey stone, not unlike that of
Richmond, is now coming into view. This bridge was built about the
year 1783, replacing an earlier structure. A short distance from it
on the Surrey shore, abutting on to one side of the gardens, in the
immediate vicinity of the royal palace, is the more ancient part of
the village of Kew. Here is the Green, so pleasant a feature in many
of these suburban townlets. On one side stands the church, with its
little graveyard--the "Chapel of St. Anne," and once a true Queen
Anne structure, for the ground was granted by that sovereign, and the
church completed in the year 1714. It has, however, undergone many
alterations, especially about the year 1838, when it was enlarged at
the expense of King William IV., and another "restoration" has lately
been completed, during which a chancel has been appended, and the roof
of the nave raised. At the same time a mortuary chapel was added,
in which is laid the body of the late Duke of Cambridge. He died at
Cambridge Cottage, an unpretending mansion looking on to the Green,
which remained the property of his widow until her death in 1889. Other
persons of note in their day rest in this little God's acre. Aiton,
the gardener; Bauer, the microscopist; Kirby, the architect; Meyer and
Zoffany, the artists; and, greater far than they, Gainsborough, whom to
name is enough, was, by his own desire, buried under a plain tomb in
Kew Churchyard. Here also is buried Sir William Hooker, late director
of Kew Gardens, to whose repute as a botanist must be added that of
developing the resources of the institution, and by his influence
obtaining from successive governments the means of founding a great
national museum of botany. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Joseph
Dalton Hooker, the present director, by whom the work thus inaugurated
has been no less ably carried on.

We must now turn back to Brentford, where the little Brent, which has
made its way from the uplands of Hendon, falls into the Thames. Its
aspect from the river, perhaps owing to the contrast which the opposite
bank has so long presented, is not attractive. Brentford is a very
ancient settlement. Some have thought that this spot was the scene of
Cæsar's passage of the Thames; certainly it was the chief town of the
Middle Saxons. Were there not also two kings of Brentford? But when did
they live? On this, history is silent; but the tradition is an old one.
The town has always had a rather unsavoury reputation; "it is referred
to by Thomson, Gay, Goldsmith, and others, chiefly on account of its
dirt." Indeed, the remarks on it might be thus summed up:--There are
three kings at Cologne, and two at Brentford, and in the matter of
odours the towns are proportional.

Some of the views in the neighbourhood of Kew Bridge are very pretty;
the houses by the riverside often group picturesquely; the stream
is diversified by one or two wooded islands; barges floating down
the Thames, or moored against its banks, combine well in foreground
and middle distance; but after this there comes an uninteresting
interval. The right bank is occupied largely by market gardens, the
land lies low, and in places has an unkempt aspect; the passenger by
the towing-path sees heaps suggestive of refuse to other senses than
that of sight, but as Mortlake is neared the prospect again brightens
on the right bank of the river, though the left remains rather
monotonous. Some attractive houses stand by the waterside. There is the
well-known "Ship" Inn, and the odour which is sometimes wafted from
the shore, though due to art rather than to nature, is more pleasant
than that of most chemical processes, for it is suggestive of good
English beer. Mortlake has lost its tapestry works and its potteries,
but it has retained its brewery. Once every year Mortlake is numbered
among the famous places of England, for here is a limit, generally the
winning-post, of the aquatic Derby--the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race.
This we shall presently mention a little more fully. Enough now to cast
a glance at the townlet itself, which, like all places near London, is
developing, and becoming more townlike.

[Illustration: HIGH WATER AT MORTLAKE.]

The name of Mortlake appears in English records at a very early
date, as it was an important manor belonging to the Archbishopric of
Canterbury. The manor itself appears to have included much more than
the present parish, but the house was in the village. It was a not
unfrequent residence of the archbishops down to the time of Cranmer, by
whom the lands were alienated in exchange to the king. Only the tower
of the church is old, and this is not particularly interesting; the
remainder is Hanoverian, and suitable to its period. Here are entombed
Dee and Partridge, the astrologers; Philip Francis, the supposed author
of "Junius"; and John Bernard, Sir Robert Walpole's "only incorruptible
Member of Parliament"; while in the neighbourhood lived Colston, the
philanthropist; Jesse, the naturalist, and Henry Taylor, author of
"Philip van Artevelde"--a fair share of celebrities for a quiet little
suburban town.

Just beyond Mortlake is the village of Barnes, with the bridge of the
South-Western Railway spanning the Thames. The houses and gardens
by the riverside give a bright and homelike aspect to the scene.
The church incorporates fragments of an ancient building, and the
rectory has been occupied by more than one clergyman of mark. Inland,
stretching back across the peninsula, and thus offering a short
cut from Putney, well known to the frequenters of boat-races, lies
Barnes Common--a breezy spot, bright in summer with blossoming furze,
which happily is still sacred from the builder, and untouched by the
landscape gardener.

[Illustration: HOGARTH'S TOMB AT CHISWICK.]

From Kew Bridge down to Putney Bridge Father Thames follows a course
even more serpentine than usual. Its double loop forms an almost
regular S, the axis of each fold lying nearly north and south. The
general direction of its flow also has changed, from a northerly to an
easterly course; thus, at Mortlake, we are again brought by the river
into the vicinity, comparatively speaking, of Richmond Park, on its
northern side; while, on the left bank, Chiswick may almost be said
to make two appearances on the riverside. The older part, however,
of this place lies below Mortlake. It still retains traces of its
ancient picturesqueness, when Chiswick House was a favourite residence
of the Dukes of Devonshire, and its fêtes among the chief events of a
London season. Chiswick is, however, greatly changed since then--still
more from the days when it was the home of Hogarth, whose tomb is in
the churchyard. New houses have sprung up, the iron-roofed sheds of a
ship-building establishment--devoted especially to the construction of
torpedoes--uglify, if the word be permitted, the margin of the Thames,
and the incessant clang of hammers disturbs the peace of the stream.
Henceforth, we find ourselves within the grasp of the metropolis.
Once or twice, it is true, the river seems to slip away again into
the freedom of the fields, but it is only for a brief space; it is
soon prisoned again between the walls of the workshop, or doomed to
remain in sight of the unsightly performances of the nineteenth-century
builder.

[Illustration: THE UNIVERSITY BOAT-RACE.]

Between Putney and Mortlake, a distance of about four miles, is the
course of the annual Inter-University Boat-race--the water Derby, as
it is sometimes called--which, for a brief season, diverts busy London
from its daily routine, engrossing almost universal attention, and even
imparting to the streets and shop-windows a tinge of blue; for, as all
the world knows, dark-blue and light-blue are the respective colours
of Oxford and of Cambridge. From the humblest to the highest in the
land, from the crossing-sweeper to the Bond Street exquisite, from
the flower-girl to the peeress, each one wears the colour of his or
her favourite University; though some, it must be admitted, prudently
purchase reversible ribbons, and, after the race, take care to make
a change, if needful, and duly sport the winning colour. Never does
the Blue-ribbon Army seem to have enlisted so many recruits as during
the few days prior to Palm Sunday, the race being, by a custom which
may be regarded as established, rowed on the Saturday preceding this
festival. Some time, however, elapsed after the first contest took
place before either time or place were finally settled. The Oxonians
had a preference for the beginning of the summer vacation, a time which
was not acceptable to the Cantabs; some, also, of the earlier races
were rowed on other parts of the Thames--as at Henley, or between
Westminster and Putney. Owing to difficulties in coming to an agreement
on these points, as well as from other causes, the contest at first
was of an intermittent character. The first race, rowed over a much
shorter course at Henley, and won by Oxford, was in 1829. Between this
date and 1845 there were only five races, all rowed from Westminster to
Putney, and four of these were won by Cambridge. The first race over
the present course was in 1845, and in the next year outriggers were
used for the first time, all the earlier races taking place in what are
now contemptuously called tubs. The race has come off regularly each
year since 1856, and its direction has been, in almost every case, from
Putney to Mortlake. Oxford has scored several more triumphs, on the
whole, than Cambridge. The most exciting episode ever witnessed was in
1859, when the Cambridge boat sank near Barnes Bridge. The crew of that
year was an exceptionally powerful one, and was looked upon as safe to
win. But the builder of their "eight" had supplied them with a boat
which was hardly up to their weight--at any rate, for a river liable,
like the Thames, to be rough and lumpy on occasion. The ill-luck of
Cambridge is almost proverbial; the water was as choppy as it could
well be, and the water slowly swamped the Cambridge boat. Those who
watched the race will remember how its crew struggled gallantly on,
falling gradually behind their rivals; rowing magnificently, though
their boat seemed held back by some invisible force, till at last it
filled with water and sank under them as they bent to the stroke.
Fortunately--though in those days there was little restriction on
the number of steamers that were allowed to follow the race, and no
means of preventing them from pressing on the losing boat in their
struggle for the better point of view--no life was lost, and no one was
even hurt. Now that danger--and, owing to the characteristic English
recklessness and selfishness, it was rapidly becoming a very serious
one--has been averted; for only four steamers are permitted to follow
the competitors, these being respectively for the Umpire, the Press,
and the members of each University.

[Illustration: RICHMOND TO BATTERSEA.]

Another source of danger has been removed of late years. In the earlier
times of the race the old Hammersmith Suspension Bridge became a
favourite station for spectators of the humbler rank, as it commanded a
good view in both directions; and, though it was not quite half way on
the course, by the time it was reached by the boats the race was often
practically decided. Indeed, it was a saying, rarely falsified, that
the race would be won by the boat which passed under the bridge clear
of its opponent. On this bridge crowds continued to gather even when
it had been condemned as unsafe; after a certain hour vehicles were
stopped, and the concourse thickened; adventurous boys managed to mount
the chains, to be pulled down at first, ignominiously, by the police;
but at last now one, now another, as the throng gathered, contrived
to elude the guardians of the law, and soon scrambled up to secure
heights. The roadway became a black mass, a string of blackbeetles
seemed to have taken possession of the chains, and the bridge carried
a load of human beings that probably the engineer who constructed it
never for a moment contemplated. There was the additional and yet
graver danger from the shifting of the pressure as the crowd attempted
to follow the boats when they shot beneath, or as the possible result
of a panic; so that at last the bridge had to be closed alike to
foot-passengers and to carriages for most of the day. The old wooden
bridge at Putney used also to be crowded--as the new one still is, by
those who prefer to see the start; Barnes railway bridge has another
contingent brought hither by trains, and in many places the riverside
is thronged. Barges are moored in the stream, stands are erected in
gardens by its side; the towing-path on the Surrey side is black with
people. When the boats are off a string of vehicles may be seen tearing
at full speed across Barnes Common. These contain enthusiasts, who,
after having witnessed the start at Putney, take the short cut across
the peninsula in hopes of seeing the finish at Mortlake. A hoarse
roar goes up from the crowd as the two boats, looking strangely small
in the wide open space of water, are espied coming round the bend of
the river; so light are they that the crews seem almost to sit upon
the water. Their oar-blades flash in the sun. They dart past, perhaps
in conflict, perhaps the one a length or two ahead of the other;
the steamers follow close upon them, sending up a surging wave on
either bank, whose arrival at the shore is signalised by conspicuous
commotion among the spectators at the river brink, as the chilly water
unexpectedly sweeps around their ankles; the boats pass out of sight
round another corner; the race will be over in a moment, and when the
news comes the brief excitement of the day is ended.

The crowd now may be reckoned by hundreds of thousands. The railways
are gorged, and as the time of the race approaches, every street
leading to the course is thronged by carriages and pedestrians. Even so
far away as the end of Westbourne Terrace, the throng on the Bayswater
Road and its steady westward progress would attract the notice of the
most casual observer. Yet this intense excitement, this concentration
of popular interest on the two Universities, is of much later date than
the establishment of the race itself. A quarter of a century since, the
attendance was by no means great; now, long as is the course, and many
as are the stations which divide the attractions, only a wet day or a
very early hour (the time of the race depends on the tide) keeps the
concourse within any moderate limits.

Hammersmith, now united to London, offers few inducements to the
tourist "in search of the picturesque," though, of course, it is hard
to find any riverside place where some nook or corner may not offer a
sketch to the artist. Its old suspension bridge--so noted a point, as
stated above, in the history of boat-races--has now been succeeded by a
more substantial structure, opened in 1887.

[Illustration: OLD HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE.]

The reach of the river from Hammersmith to Putney is comparatively
quiet, and the marshy condition of the left bank has compelled the
builder to keep at a distance; so that though lines of houses may be
seen inland, they are parted from the water by extensive osier beds. We
turn our backs disgustedly on the cement works, and glance forward to
the more open country beyond, where are houses scantily scattered among
trees, and the "Old Crab Tree" Inn. On the right bank a considerable
tract of meadow-land still remains unenclosed, on which occasionally
there is some fair hedgerow timber, and from which, in summer, the
pleasant scent of new-mown grass is wafted; willows rustle by the
towing-path, and the white poplar sheds its downy seeds beneath our
feet. Bushes grow freely on the river bank, and now and then, for a
moment, hide the water. For the last time, if no snorting steamer or
screaming steam-launch, laden with holiday-makers, chance to be in
sight, or, still worse, in hearing, the Thames for a moment resumes
something of its former peaceful aspect, although the fact that the
tidal character of the river has now become conspicuous makes it
needful to consult the almanack before paying it a visit--at least,
for those who desire to appreciate the real beauty of the scene. The
most tempting spot is reached as we begin to approach Putney, where
we obtain from the path a view of an old-fashioned brick mansion,
standing among lawns and fields which are shadowed by some noble elms.
This mansion bears the appropriate name of Barn Elms, which, as it has
been remarked, seems to indicate that the trees have always been a
distinctive feature of the grounds. It has long been a place of some
note. Sir Francis Walsingham, minister of Elizabeth, formerly lived
here, and more than once entertained his queen--too often, it is said,
for the prosperity of his purse. Cowley, the poet, also was for a time
an inmate of Barn Elms, and both decorous Evelyn and frolicsome Pepys
came here a-pleasuring. In an adjacent building lived old Jacob Tonson,
noted among the bibliophiles of the reign of Queen Anne; and here were
the head-quarters of the noted Kitcat Club. In a large room erected
by him was placed the famous collection of portraits of its members,
painted by the hand of Sir Godfrey Kneller, which, from their being all
three-quarter length, have given their name to portraits of this kind.
The club-room, which was separated from the mansion by a garden, after
falling into a dilapidated condition, was pulled down in the early part
of the present century.

[Illustration: OLD PUTNEY BRIDGE AND FULHAM CHURCH.]

Somewhere among these trees was fought the notorious duel between two
fine gentlemen of the age of the Restoration--the Duke of Buckingham
and the Earl of Shrewsbury--when, as it is said, the wife of the
latter, disguised as a page-boy, stood by, holding the horse of her
paramour. The Earl received a fatal wound, and the lady went home
to the Duke's house. It is needless to say that the Court was not
particularly scandalised, or the Duke "sent to Coventry," on account
of this affair. Barn Elms is now the home of the Ranelagh Club. Nearly
opposite, in the immediate neighbourhood of the river, is Craven
Cottage, a quasi-rustic retreat, which in its day has been frequented
by various personages of note. It was built originally for the Countess
of Craven, afterwards Margravine of Anspach; but subsequently has been
considerably altered. Here afterwards lived Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton, and
entertained Louis Napoleon, after his escape from Ham; at a later
period it was the residence of an aristocratic money-lender.

Barn Elms passed, we approach the twin villages--though the term is
no longer applicable, for they are now suburbs of London--of Putney
and of Fulham, one on either side of the stream. Much alike in their
churches, they still differ, and once differed yet more, in other
characteristics. For many years Putney has been a centre of London
aquatics, which have set their mark on the riverside. Except for
the broader stream, an Oxonian or a Cantab might fancy himself at
certain spots by Cam or Isis. There are the boat-houses on the same
nondescript pattern, the sheds sheltering eights and fours and
"funnies"--or whatever name be used to designate the cranky one-man
racing boats--the usual flags indicating the head-quarters of the
different rowing clubs, the usual specimens of the amphibious race
that is peculiar to the riverside where oarsmen most do congregate;
in short, the waterside at Putney is a rather odd, not wholly
unpicturesque, and somewhat unique bit of Thames scenery.

The old wooden bridge, supported on piles, which formerly united
Putney and Fulham was a very picturesque and decidedly inconvenient,
not to say dangerous, structure. As there has already been occasion to
indicate, it has now been superseded by a new one of stone, built a few
yards higher up the stream.

The noise of mimic strife on the river, or at worst a holiday-maker's
brawl, is all that disturbs the peace of Putney in the present day, but
in olden time the town was for a time the head-quarters of an army.
In the year 1642 forts were built both here and at Fulham to protect
a bridge of boats which was thrown across the Thames; and again, in
1647, Cromwell encamped at Putney for some time. The memory of another
Cromwell, only less noted, is connected yet more closely with the
place, for here was born Thomas Cromwell, minister of Henry VIII. The
old wooden bridge also must have been traversed many a time by one of
our most noted men of letters; in Putney, Gibbon, the historian, was
not only born, but also received his earlier education.

The ground somewhat rises from the water, on the Surrey side, towards
Putney Heath, but on the Fulham side it lies low. From the stream
above the bridge will be seen the trees of the domain belonging to the
Bishops of London; its ample precincts are enclosed by a moat, even
on the riverside, a raised causeway dividing it from the Thames. Very
little of the manor-house, or "palace," is visible from the water, as
its buildings are not lofty, and it is surrounded by trees. The manor
has been the property of the bishopric from a very early date; even
at the time of the Norman survey "in Foleham the Bishop of London
held forty hides." The palace is a rambling brick structure, more
like a college than a mansion, reminding us of some of the colleges
at Cambridge. No part is of very great antiquity; the older forms
a quadrangle, and was erected by Bishop Fitzjames, in the reign of
Henry VII. Some of the earlier buildings were pulled down about the
year 1715, as the palace had become in part ruinous, and was found to
be needlessly large. This was done by the advice of Commissioners,
among whom were Vanbrugh and Christopher Wren. The hall belongs to the
older part of the palace; the chapel is new; the library was built
in all probability by Bishop Sheldon, and contains a collection of
books, to which Bishop Porteus was the first and an important donor.
Considerable additions, increasing the comfort rather than the beauty
of the house, were made in the earlier part of the present century.
The library is a valuable one, and there is a fine collection of
portraits of former occupants of the see, interesting to the students
alike of history and of English fashions and faces--the last subject,
dealing in what we may term the natural history of the Englishman,
being remarkably well illustrated by the long series of men of one
profession, and approximately of one period of life. Except for its
rather objectionable situation, lying so near the level of the Thames,
Fulham Palace must be a most attractive residence. The grounds occupy
about thirty-seven acres, and the shrubberies have long been noted,
some of the rarer trees being of unusual size and beauty. Special
attention was paid to the horticulture of Fulham so long since as the
days of Bishop Grindall; and Bishop Compton added to its attractions by
planting a large number of rare shrubs and trees--or what were in his
day rare--chiefly from North America.

The church, as has been said, resembles that of Putney, but is the more
handsome building, standing in a spacious and well-kept churchyard. As
might be anticipated from its proximity to the home of the Bishop of
the diocese, it has been carefully restored, and, though without any
architectural features of special interest, is a very fair specimen
of a parish church. It has evidently been much improved since the
year 1816, when, in a well-known work on the "Beauties of England
and Wales," it is described as "a respectable structure, destitute
of uniformity," and the tower is said to be "defaced" by incongruous
modern battlements, and by "a mean octagonal spire of wood, surmounted
by a flagstaff and vane." Many of the Bishops of London--especially of
those since the Restoration--are entombed either in the church or the
churchyard--mostly in the latter. The latest to be laid there was the
last occupant of the see, the amiable and judicious Bishop Jackson, who
officiated in the church on the final Sunday of his life, and while
walking thither suffered from a premonitory seizure of the disease
which so speedily proved fatal. Some of the monuments within the church
are worth a passing notice, though the more striking are seventeenth or
eighteenth century work. The grave of Lowth will attract the eyes of
those who honour learning. There is a not unpleasing mural monument in
memory of Miss Katharine Hart, who "lived vertuouslye, and dyed godlie
ye 23rd daie of Octo., 1605;" but most amusing--if we may use such an
epithet--is a large monument under the tower to a certain "nobilissimus
heros Johannes Mordaunt," created Viscount Aviland by Charles II. Of
this worthy there is a statue, and the artist has contrived to infuse
into the pose and the face such an air of infinite superiority that it
must have been quite a condescension on the part of his lordship to
breathe the common air.

The market gardens of Fulham, formerly so noted, are, to a large
extent, covered by buildings; the once quiet village has practically
become incorporated with London. Below Putney Bridge we never cease
to be reminded that we are now on the very margin of the metropolis;
that its growth is rapid, and its boundaries accordingly are ragged
and unattractive. Immediately below the bridge on the right bank is
a fine-looking terrace, and on the left some pleasant houses and
gardens, survivals of more ancient days, when Putney and Fulham were
country villages, and the fisheries of the latter were leased for an
annual rent of "three salmon;" it is only seventy years since they
were spoken of as a "source of local profit." Beyond these riverside
residences lies Hurlingham, notorious for its pigeon-shooting. On the
opposite shore we presently pass the houses of Wandsworth, whereof the
brewery is the most prominent, if not the most attractive object.

But as we come to Battersea Reach the signs of industry and commerce
thicken around us; works of various kinds line the banks; the
Surrey shore, once the more lovely, is now being covered thick with
unattractive buildings. On the Middlesex side some traces of older days
still occasionally linger--boulders of more solid rock incorporated in
the clay of modern masonry--but farewell to the characteristic scenery
of the River Thames, farewell to all natural beauty; its waters have
now become a great highway of commerce. They have no rest by day, and
not always by night, from the fussy steamer and the laden barge; they
are turbid with mud, inodorous also, sometimes, with the foulness and
garbage of a huge town. The history of the Thames is the history of
many a river of England, and may be summed up in Charles Kingsley's
words:--

    "Clear and cool, clear and cool,
    By laughing shallow and dreaming pool;
    Cool and clear, cool and clear,
    By shining shingle and foaming wear;
    Under the crag where the ouzel sings,
    And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings;
    Undefiled, for the undefiled,
    Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.

    "Dank and foul, dank and foul,
    By the smoky town in its murky cowl;
    Foul and dank, foul and dank,
    By wharf and sewer and slimy bank;
    Darker and darker the further I go,
    Baser and baser the richer I grow;
    Who dare sport with the sin-defiled?
    Shrink from me, turn from me, mother and child."

  /T. G. Bonney/.



CHAPTER X.

BATTERSEA TO LONDON BRIDGE.

    The Scene Changes--A City River--Battersea--Chelsea--The Old
    Church--Sir T. More and Sir Hans Sloane--Cheyne Walk--Don Saltero's
    Coffee-house and Thomas Carlyle--The Botanical Gardens--Chelsea
    Hospital--The Pensioners--Battersea Park--The Suspension
    Bridge--Vauxhall--Lambeth--The Church and Palace--Westminster
    Palace and the Abbey--Its Foundation and History--Westminster
    Hall--Westminster Bridge--The Victoria Embankment--York
    Gate--Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House--The Temple--Blackfriars
    Bridge--St. Paul's--Southwark Bridge--The Old Theatres--Cannon
    Street Bridge--London Bridge and its Traffic.


It is at Battersea and Chelsea that the Thames first acquires
unmistakably the character of a metropolitan stream. Hamlets there are,
higher up, which announce the proximity of a great capital; but here
is the capital itself, though only the rudimentary beginnings, or, to
speak more correctly, the scattered ends. Looking down the channel
from this point of view, we see on both sides abundant evidence of
crowded life--of industry on the one bank, and of wealth on the other.
The omnibus of the river--the penny steamboat--plies to and fro on its
frequent errands. On shore, the vehicles of London bring something of
its noise. Yet there is plenty of quiet in both these old-fashioned
suburbs; and, although innovation has been at work here as elsewhere,
nooks may be found, both in Battersea and Chelsea, which have all the
character of a sleepy old county town. Battersea, in particular, is
the most straggling oddity in the neighbourhood of London--a grave,
slow, otiose place, lulled with the lapping of waves, soothed with the
murmur of trees in unsuspected gardens, troubled but little with the
clamour of passing trains, and dreaming, perhaps, of eighteenth-century
days, when there were mansions in the land, and my Lord Bolingbroke
had his family seat near the church. The river here makes a somewhat
abrupt curve, and gives a dubious outline to the whole locality. Small
inlets run up between old walls, dark with the sludge of many years;
and the streets and buildings have had to accommodate themselves to the
caprices of the stream. Hence it is that, when walking about Battersea,
you speedily lose your bearings, and, after following a devious lane
which you suppose to be parallel with the river, suddenly find yourself
on a bit of shingly strand, with a barge on the limits of the tide, and
a general appearance as if the end of all things had been reached.

[Illustration: OLD BATTERSEA BRIDGE, 1890.]

Battersea, then, is as "nook-shotten" a place as is the "isle of
Albion" itself, according to Shakespeare. Gardens as old as the time
of Queen Anne hide coyly behind walls that permit only the tops of the
trees to be discerned. Houses, of the sedate red-and-brown brick that
our ancestors loved, stand at oblique angles to the roadways, each
with the silent history of vanished generations entombed beneath
its ponderous, red-tiled roof. Ancient taverns or inns (call them not
public-houses, still less hotels or gin-palaces)--goodly hostelries
of the past, broad-frontaged, deep-windowed, large-chimneyed,
many-gabled--invite the most temperate passer-by to refresh himself
in the cavernous gloom of the bar. The old parish church--not so old
as one could wish, but having a Georgian character that is beginning
to acquire the interest of all departed modes--occupies a sort of
peninsula on the river, the ripple of which speaks closely in the ears
of dead parishioners. On the whole, Battersea has known better days.
It is now chiefly given up to factories, to the humble dwellings of
factory people, and to the houses and shops of the lower middle class.
But, in the National Society's Training College, it has a noble old
mansion, standing in well-timbered grounds; and the free school of Sir
Walter St. John (grandfather of Queen Anne's famous minister) is also
interesting. The school was founded in 1700, but the building is of the
modern Tudor style. To a casual visitor, however, the most noticeable
thing about the suburb is the river itself, with its belongings;--the
straggling banks; the rickety water-side structures; the boat-builders'
yards; the heavy, black barges hauled on to the foreshore, undergoing
repair, or being lazily broken up; the larger vessels, with sails of
that rusty orange hue which tells of sun and breeze; and the prevalent
smell of pitch, mingled with watery ooze.

Chelsea is becoming fashionable along the river frontage; but, although
the stately red-brick mansions recently erected on the Embankment are
sumptuous and noble, the chief interest of the locality is in the older
parts. Advancing in the direction of town, historic Chelsea begins
about the spot represented in our view of Cheyne Walk. The fine old
house at the corner of Beaufort Street is an excellent specimen of the
kind of suburban dwelling our forefathers used to build, when, the land
being far less valuable than now, they spread out broadly and roomily,
and were not constrained to pile storey upon storey, until the roofs
seemed desirous of making acquaintance with the clouds. It is at this
point that the Chelsea Embankment commences--a splendid promenade
between avenues of plane-trees, which every season will make more
umbrageous. Several years ago, before the late Sir Joseph Bazalgette
began to reclaim the river-bank, there was no more picturesque spot
in Chelsea, of the dirty, out-at-elbows order, than the bit extending
eastward from Battersea Bridge to the old church. Its fantastic
irregularity of roof and gable, its dormer windows, its beetling
chimney-stacks, its red and brown, its look of somnolent old age and
grave experience, had something of a Dutch character; but it was
certainly not Dutch in point of cleanliness. Picturesque it is still;
but the Embankment has swept away that side of the street which was
towards the river, while the ragged tenements on the other side await
the hands of the destroyer.

[Illustration: CHEYNE WALK.]

Old Chelsea Church is familiar to every Londoner who goes up the river
in a steamboat or a wherry. Its massive square tower, its red-tiled
roofs, its external monuments in the bit of green churchyard, the dusky
glow of its old brick, and its general aspect of having been entirely
neglected by the restorers, attract attention, and to a great extent
reward it. The edifice cannot be reckoned among the most beautiful
specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in London; yet its appearance
is venerable and interesting, and its associations might furnish matter
for a whole chapter, or even for a book. The chancel is said to have
been rebuilt in the early part of the sixteenth century, and the chapel
at the east end of the south aisle was erected by Sir Thomas More. The
date of this chapel is about 1520; the tower of the church belongs to
the reign of Charles II.; and the building generally stands on the site
of one which antiquarians refer to the beginning of the fourteenth
century, and of which some portions still remain. The body of More
(minus the head) is stated by Aubrey to have been interred in "Chelsey
Church, neer the middle of the south wall;" but this is doubtful. At
the place indicated, however--which is about the spot where he used to
sit among the choir, and where he erected a tomb for himself during his
lifetime--a tablet of black marble yet appears to his memory. More is
the presiding deity of Chelsea. His house was not far from the church,
in a north-westerly direction; and here he was visited by Holbein, who
painted his portrait, and by Henry VIII., who on one occasion walked
with him in the garden for the space of an hour, "holding his arm about
his neck," as his son-in-law Roper relates--the same neck which he
afterwards caused to be divided by the headsman's axe. Many persons
of eminence, especially in connection with literature and science,
lie buried in Chelsea Old Church, or in the adjoining graveyard; and
the passer-by almost brushes against the urn, entwined with serpents,
which marks the resting-place of Sir Hans Sloane. At the north side
of the church is the grave of John Anthony Cavallier, the leader of
the Camisards, a body of Protestants in the Cevennes, who, about
the beginning of the eighteenth century, carried on a religious war
in which Louis XIV. lost ten thousand of his best troops. Cavallier
ultimately escaped to England, entered the British service, was for a
time Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey, and died at Chelsea in 1740.

It was towards the close of the seventeenth century that Chelsea first
became socially famous as a pleasant outlet from London; and some of
the existing houses belong to that period. A few years later--in the
reign of Anne--it was a place of great resort. Hither came the cits
by boat, to stare at the curiosities of "Don Saltero's" coffee-house
in Cheyne Walk, or to visit the Chelsea China Works, established in
Justice Walk by a foreigner, the products of which manufactory (now
discontinued a hundred years or thereabouts), still haunt the old shops
of the suburb, and command good prices. Here also people flocked to eat
buns at the "Old Chelsea Bun-house," which retained a distinguished
reputation until its long existence ceased in 1839. Swift mentions
these celebrated dainties in the "Journal to Stella," and seems to have
had a relish for them, together with a fondness for Chelsea generally,
the distance of which from town he measured not only in miles, but in
steps. Cheyne Walk is the most characteristic portion of the suburb.
Many of the houses are ancient; some are extremely attractive, with
their substantial look of old-world liberality and thoroughness, their
massive piers and wrought-iron gates, their stone globes and sculptured
ornaments, their shadowy trees and draping creepers. The two most
interesting of these houses, by reason of the modern associations which
mingle with their antiquity, are that formerly occupied by the late
Dante Gabriel Rossetti--truly a house of dream and vision--and that
where "George Eliot" died, after a brief residence. But the greatest
memorial figure in modern Chelsea is that of Thomas Carlyle, who lived
for nearly fifty years in Great Cheyne Row, and died there in 1881.
The Embankment has altered the character of Cheyne Walk, which looks
scarcely so old-fashioned as it did in other days, when the river came
up almost to the roadway, and boatmen lounged about on a scrap of
beach, ready to take you to Putney or Hammersmith, if you disdained
the steamer. There is a scene in one of Miss Thackeray's novels, which
portrays, with exquisite delicacy of touch and colouring, the Cheyne
Walk of a somewhat recent, yet a bygone, epoch. Still, the alterations
have given an added dignity to the place, and a beauty which forbids us
to regret the past. The real injury to the old row has proceeded from
the bad taste of some of its inhabitants, who have faced and coloured
a few of the houses in a way entirely out of keeping with the general
character of the neighbourhood.

Making our way down the river, we come to the Botanical Gardens,
belonging to the Apothecaries' Company of London, where all manner
of simples have been cultivated since the year 1673. The ground was
first enclosed in 1686, and some of the old walls remained until the
alterations consequent on the making of the Embankment. An ancient look
still hangs about the prim walks and orderly beds, where one seems to
sniff the aromatics of departed generations. Old houses cluster round,
and peer with blinking windows into the old nursery of herbs. In the
centre is a statue by Rysbrack of Sir Hans Sloane, set up in 1733,
in consideration of benefits conferred on the gardens by the great
physician; and near the southern boundary is a rugged cedar, planted,
together with another, in 1685. More interesting to the general public
is Chelsea Hospital, the grounds of which should be reckoned among the
parks of London. The Chelsea Pensioner, with his scarlet gabardine,
flaming along the ways like a travelling fire, is a figure so peculiar
to this neighbourhood that one scarcely ever sees it anywhere else. The
retired soldier has a noble dwelling-house in the massive yet comely
structure which Sir Christopher Wren reared for him. There is no finer
specimen of brick architecture, with stone for the decorations, than
the edifice which Nell Gwynne is said, by a doubtful tradition, to have
assisted in founding. One might even detect a professional analogy in
the style of building. The wings stretch out like troops in column; the
main body is the army in mass, compact, steadfast, and impenetrable.
But the battered old men have done with fighting now; they have come
here to nurse their wounds and aches, and the prevailing sentiment
is, as it should be, a blessed and a soothing calm. Within those iron
gates, having the grounds and the river on one side, and the quiet old
Queen's Road on the other, it is almost like a sanctuary. The sunlight
falls asleep in the quadrangles and passages. Caught between wall and
wall, detained by trees, reflected from numerous angles, it seems to
double back upon itself, and fill the air with somnolent heat and
glow. Here is a true place of rest; on the edge of the great city, yet
sequestered; substantial, ceremonious, prescriptive; shadowed with
greenery, bright with flowers and lawns, lulled with the memory of
ancient days, the tender comradeship of the past. Is it not right that
all wayorn men should taste a little of the lotos-eater's life ere they
depart?--

    "'Courage!' he said, and pointed towards the land;
      'This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.'
    In the afternoon they came unto a land
      In which it seemed always afternoon."[7]

Round the precincts of Chelsea Hospital it seems as if it were always
Sunday.

Though frequented by Chelsea people, the grounds of the Hospital
are but little known to the rest of London. Yet the east side is
bordered by an avenue of pollarded Dutch elms worth going to see--an
avenue dusky at mid-day, and, after dark, wanting only a ghost to
make it perfect. Immediately beyond is all that remains of Ranelagh
Gardens--the rival of Vauxhall in the middle of last century, when the
Rotunda was the most fashionable lounge in London--now a miniature
park, with trees, greensward, and flower-beds, and a large space set
apart for the old pensioners, where they cultivate small plots of
garden, and will sell you a nosegay of humble but odorous blooms for a
few pence. It is pleasant, in the decaying light of a summer evening,
to see the veterans tending their plants, watering or weeding, making
up bunches of red and blue and yellow blossoms, and recollecting in
their age that Adam was a gardener, not a soldier. Several of these men
have faced the storm of battle, and left behind them arms or legs. Now
they wait upon the gentle ways of Nature, before the setting of the sun.

With the Hospital grounds on one side, and Battersea Park on the other
(the latter winning increased favour every year by its fine effects
of wood and water), we come to the Chelsea Suspension Bridge, near
neighbour of Battersea Bridge, which in 1890 superseded the older
structure shown in our illustration on page 259, and now a thing of the
past. The railway bridge from Victoria, a little beyond, is a pleasing
specimen of its order. Railway viaducts are often abominations. That
they _can_ be otherwise is shown by some few instances. The railway
bridge at Knaresborough, in Yorkshire, is really beautiful. But then
it is of stone, not of iron. Iron bridges--excepting those slung on
chains--can scarcely escape the reproach of ugliness. Vulcan himself
must have forged the original, and infused into it something of his
own deformity. But we have passed out of the stone into the iron age;
the engineers have us in hand; and we must submit to a good deal of
unloveliness for the sake of utility and cheapness. Stone bridges
are works of architecture and art; wooden bridges have a certain
rustic prettiness in the country; but the iron bridge of the railway
harmonises with nothing. It so happens that just as we reach the
Victoria Bridge we enter one of the most uninteresting parts of the
river. With Pimlico on the one side, and the outskirts of New Battersea
on the other, the eye and the mind are equally baulked of any agreeable
subjects of contemplation. As regards associations, Pimlico is perhaps
the most barren district in all London; and the part facing the Thames
is a mere succession of commonplaces. We even hail Millbank Prison as
a relief--though it would be difficult to imagine anything more dreary
than that stern, gaunt structure, with a thousand heart-aches behind
its walls.

Vauxhall, immediately opposite the great prison which Bentham designed
as a model penitentiary, at a time when such experiments were in
vogue, has some attractive memories, if only on account of the famous
Gardens, which the members of the youthful generation know not, but
which their elders bear in genial memory; and when we get to Lambeth,
of which Vauxhall is only a precinct, we are on memorial ground indeed.
Lambeth is so large a place (its circumference is said to be about
sixteen miles) that in 1846 it was subdivided into four parishes; but
the most interesting part is that which borders on the river. A certain
indescribable quaintness--a dusky hue of tradition and romance--hangs
about the neighbourhood. The very name is of unknown etymology, and
has a sort of Hebrew sound, though it is probably Anglo-Saxon in some
corrupted form. In earlier times, the suburb, as we read in an old
account, was celebrated for "astrologers and almanack-makers"--much
the same kind of people in days when men believed in the influences
of the stars. Francis Moore ("Old Moore," whose Prophetic Almanack
still finds readers) was a dweller in Lambeth; and so, likewise, was
Simon Forman, who was connected with the mysterious murder of Sir
Thomas Overbury in 1613. Lambeth, moreover, has an ancient reputation
for unusual crimes. In 1041--a sufficiently remote date for that
fascinating twilight in which it is not easy to discriminate between
fact and fiction--the Danish King, Hardicanute, died suddenly in
Lambeth, at a banquet given on account of some great lord's marriage.
By many it was supposed that he had been poisoned; but it is perhaps
more probable that he succumbed to a stroke of apoplexy or paralysis,
induced by excessive gluttony. Less open to question is the narrative
of a stupendous crime committed in 1531 by a cook in the service of Dr.
Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who had a palace near the archiepiscopal
residence. According to Holinshed, the cook threw some poison into
a vessel of yeast, and thus not merely destroyed seventeen persons
belonging to the family, but also killed some poor people who were fed
at the gate. The conclusion of this horrible story is worthy of the
beginning. The offender was boiled to death in Smithfield, in pursuance
of a law made for that very case, but repealed in 1547. There may,
however, be some doubt as to the proportions of the crime. Stow says
that, out of seventeen persons poisoned, only two died.

[Illustration: VAUXHALL BRIDGE, FROM NINE ELMS PIER.]

Many parts of Lambeth still preserve a grave, quiet, thoughtful
aspect, as of a locality which has had many experiences of life, and
can talk to itself of ancient and shadowy days. Elias Ashmole, the
founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, who is associated with the
neighbourhood, and the Tradescants, father and son, whose collection
of curiosities was at South Lambeth, have, so to speak, thrown a hue
of antiquarianism over the whole place; while the venerable palace of
the Archbishops of Canterbury gives an ecclesiastical character to the
river-side. In the church very little ancient work remains, but its
foundation dates back several centuries, and it has some noticeable
tombs and monuments, together with the celebrated window displaying the
figure of a pedlar, with his pack, his staff, and his dog. The legend
connected with this pictorial representation is to the effect that some
well-to-do chapman endowed the parish with an acre and nineteen poles
of land (now known as "Pedlar's Acre"), on condition that his portrait,
and that of his dog, should be perpetually preserved in painted glass
in one of the windows of the church. Nothing, however, is known with
any certainty of this ancient benefactor, and it has been suggested
that the picture is nothing more than the rebus of some person whose
name was Chapman, and who thus symbolically revealed himself, after
a fashion very common with our ancestors. The most striking incident
connected with the church belongs to the revolutionary times of 1688.
We can hardly pass its walls without the mind's eye conjuring up the
shivering figure of Mary of Modena, the second wife of James II., who,
on a cold, rainy December night, took shelter beneath the porch, with
her infant son in her arms, while she waited for a coach to convey her
to Gravesend, where she was to embark for France. The infant--then only
a few months old--was the future Chevalier St. George, better known to
English readers as the Old Pretender. Thus the opening of his life was
romantic, his early manhood was romantic, and the long remainder of his
days was an ignoble commonplace.

The appearance of Lambeth Palace, whether from the river or the shore,
is extremely picturesque, and London has hardly a more charming corner
than that formed by the Archbishop's residence and the adjacent church.
The gate-house of the Palace stands broad and square, looking up the
stream, its brickwork sober with the rich red-brown of age. The grey
stone-tints of the church afford a delicate contrast; and between the
two are the grass and flowers of the graveyard. Behind the Palace
rise the trees of the archiepiscopal gardens; and the margin of the
river--formerly rugged and neglected enough--is now dignified by
the Albert Embankment. The effect of the latter, as well as of the
spacious buildings of St. Thomas's Hospital a little further on, is
perhaps a little too modern for its surroundings; but, in the presence
of Lambeth Palace, the Past is sure to overcome the Present. A large
portion of English history lurks behind those ancient walls; the shades
of kings and prelates haunt its chambers, its corridors, and its
gardens; and the sighs of miserable prisoners might be heard within the
Lollards' Tower, if the memory of bygone sufferings could find audible
expression. It is believed by antiquarians that the Archbishops of
Canterbury had a house on this spot in the latter part of the eleventh
century; but it was not until about a century later that Archbishop
Baldwin exchanged some other lands for this particular manor, which
had previously belonged to the see of Rochester. The Palace dates from
that period, but of course very little of the original structure now
exists. If any twelfth-century work remains, it is in the chapel; the
rest belongs to subsequent ages, and exhibits the influence of various
styles. The Lollards' Tower was erected in the early part of the
fifteenth century by Archbishop Chicheley, for the confinement (as most
writers suppose) of a set of heretics who were among the forerunners
of Protestantism. The dark and contracted cell at the top of the
winding staircase inside the tower, with iron rings yet clinging to the
walls, and the names of victims still visible in the blackened oak, is
a grim memorial of the Middle Ages, not to be paralleled in London,
except within the enclosure of the Tower. It is a sermon in stone and
timber, preaching toleration with mute yet eloquent lips. Some modern
authorities, however, deny that Lollards were ever imprisoned there;
and the structure is now (officially) called the Water Tower; but the
top room has obviously been used as a dungeon.

Undoubtedly, the most conspicuous figure in connection with Lambeth
Palace is that of Laud. We can hardly think of the building without
thinking of him. He was translated to the Province of Canterbury in
September, 1633; his execution was in January, 1645; but the last four
years of his life were passed in prison, so that his occupation of the
archiepiscopal residence extended over little more than seven years.
Into those years, however, were crowded the events and the struggles
of a lifetime. The Romanising tendencies of Laud gave offence to the
growing Puritanism of the middle classes, and at length he was almost
a captive in his own palace, besieged by angry crowds, who would
doubtless have paid little respect either to his office or his person
could they have laid hands on him. He records in his Diary, under
date May 11th, 1640, that a furious rabble, incited by a paper posted
up at the Old Exchange two days before, attacked his house by night,
and prolonged their violence for at least two hours. After that, he
"fortified" the place as well as he could; but the popular resentment
increased, and, in 1642 and the following year, Lambeth Palace was
roughly handled by parties of soldiery. During the Commonwealth, the
building was used as a prison, and the Great Hall was nearly destroyed.
The latter was restored by Juxon, and is supposed to represent the
original with tolerable fidelity. But it is of Laud we think, and not
of Juxon, as we move from room to room; for Laud represents an era in
the English Church.

Looking across the Thames, from Lambeth Palace, we get the best view of
the Houses of Parliament, which gain rather than lose by the absorption
of detail into the general mass. We have now passed the dull and shabby
part of the river, and are surrounded by grand and august memories.
The stream itself is a highway of empire; the shores are peopled with
stately, with noble, or with interesting shapes. The suburbs are behind
us; the ancient city of Westminster rises with its towers and steeples
on the left bank. Along this channel have passed the Briton in his
coracle, the Roman in his war-ship, the Anglo-Saxon and the Dane in
their galleys, the Norman, the Plantagenet, the Tudor, and the Stuart,
in their resplendent barges. Youth, beauty, and gallantry, genius and
learning, the courtier and the soldier, the prelate and the poet, the
merchant and the 'prentice, have taken their pleasure on these waters
through a succession of ages which form no mean portion of the world's
history. Patriots and traitors have gone this way to their death in
the sullen Tower. Kings and princesses have proceeded by this silver
path, amidst the flaunting of streamers and the music of clarions, to
bridal pomp or festal banquet. The pride of mayors, of aldermen, of
sheriffs, has glassed itself in these waves. Here, in the days of Henry
II., the adventurous young men of London played at water-quintain,
to the infinite delight of the spectators; here, somewhere between
Westminster and London Bridge, King Richard II. met the poet Gower, and
commanded him to write a book for his special reading--whence arose
the "Confessio Amantis;" and here Taylor, the Water Poet, once saw the
Muses sitting in a rank, who gave him a draught of Helicon, which had
the unfortunate effect (not unknown in other instances) of emptying his
purse.

[Illustration: LAMBETH PALACE AND CHURCH.]

Westminster is to the full as historical as London itself, from
which, be it remembered, it is even now entirely separate, as a city
with rights of its own. It might even be described as more truly the
capital than London; for the Parliament, the Government Offices, and
the Law Courts are situated within its bounds, and the chief palace
of the Kings and Queens of England, from Edward the Confessor to
Elizabeth, was at Westminster. It is curious to reflect how very
unsubstantial is the claim of London, in the strictest sense of the
term, to be considered the national metropolis. Of Roman Britain,
York was the capital--the Eboracum of Hadrian, of Septimius Severus,
and of Constantine. Winchester, as the principal city of Wessex,
which subdued the other kingdoms of the Heptarchy, became the seat of
government for all England in the early days of the united monarchy.
Then Westminster succeeded, and it is hard to say where London comes
in. The very name of this city of royalty and statecraft has a grandeur
about it with which its appearance corresponds. Westminster Abbey,
Westminster Hall, and the Houses of Parliament are three structures
not easily to be surpassed for majesty of association and picturesque
dignity of aspect. It was a wise decision by which the Gothic style was
selected for the new buildings rendered necessary by the disastrous
fire of 1834. Anything else would have broken the continuity of the
national life, and been altogether at issue with surrounding objects.
Sir Charles Barry has provided London with one of its most distinctive
features, and his two great towers must henceforth be landmarks of the
surrounding country, even more than the dome of St. Paul's, though
that, too, will always remain one of the great memorial characteristics
of the vast metropolis.

[Illustration: THE VICTORIA TOWER.]

Where one has so noble an edifice, it seems ungracious to repine; yet
the loss of the older building was a misfortune for which nothing can
compensate. It was nearly the only remaining portion of the Palace of
Westminster originally founded by Edward the Confessor, and retained
by our kings until Henry VIII. removed his palace to Whitehall.
St. Stephen's Chapel, the Cloisters, the Painted Chamber, the Star
Chamber, the Armada hangings--all these were destroyed by the great
conflagration arising from the overheating of a stove in which some
official had been too assiduously burning the tally-sticks whereon the
Exchequer accounts were kept until the latter part of last century.
The House of Commons sat within the walls of St. Stephen's Chapel,
rebuilt in the reign of Edward III., and converted to the use of the
national representatives in that of Edward VI. Either at that or some
later period, the external walls were wainscoted; a new floor was laid
above the level of the old pavement, and a new ceiling shut out the
fine timber roof. The chapel, therefore, still remained, but it was
almost completely hidden from view. In 1800, however, previously to the
addition of the Irish members to those of England and Scotland, it was
found necessary to enlarge the chamber, and, on the wainscoting being
taken down, the walls erected by Edward III. shone out in all their
splendour of architecture, sculpture, painting, and gilding; the whole
looking as brilliant and vivid as if it had just left the hands of the
workers. The alterations involved the destruction of these beautiful
specimens of mediæval art; but drawings were made of most. Still, a
good deal of the original palace and chapel was left, though sadly
defaced by modern perversions, often in the most execrable taste. The
fire carried still further what other influences had begun; and, at
the present day, all that is preserved of the palatial structure which
successive kings re-edified and adorned are Westminster Hall and the
crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel.

With its Hall and its Abbey, Westminster can never cease to be
interesting, attractive, and picturesque. Here, if anywhere, we are
in the very heart of English history, and can, at our bidding, summon
a long procession of sovereigns, prelates, statesmen, soldiers, wits,
and scholars. Standing before the Abbey, with the river close at hand,
we think of those ancient days when all the adjacent ground was a
marsh, so environed with water, and beset with brambles, as to acquire
the name of Thorney Island: a wild, bleak, barren spot, almost at the
very gates of London, yet apart from it; inhabited only by poor and
outcast people, or perchance by banditti, who levied contributions on
the rich nobles and merchants, and then escaped to their fastnesses
among the thickets of the fenny isle. Then--somewhere about 616--came
Sebert, King of the East Saxons, who, according to tradition, founded
the Benedictine monastery of which the Abbey is a noble relic. West
Minster--the Minster west of St. Paul's, originally called East
Minster, according to some accounts--took its rise from that time, and
speedily became a place of great importance. The brambles disappeared;
the land was drained; the creeks and ditches of the Thames were made
to retire into their natural channel; walls and pinnacles arose out of
the wet and dreary soil; and the chant of the Benedictines was heard
along the river-banks, and in the neighbouring fields. After a while,
houses grew up around the monastery, and population was attracted to a
spot which the Monarchy and the Church were beginning to favour. The
religious foundation was enlarged by King Edgar, and afterwards by
Edward the Confessor; and from the time of the latter to that of Queen
Victoria, all our kings and queens have been crowned within the walls
of the Abbey. Many, also, are buried in the same building, which gives
occasion to moralising Jeremy Taylor to observe:--"In the same Escurial
where the Spanish princes live in greatness and power, and decree war
or peace, they have wisely placed a cemetery, where their ashes and
their glory shall sleep till time shall be no more; and where our kings
have been crowned, their ancestors lie interred, and they must walk
over their grandsire's head to take his crown." Whether for kings or
humble men, there is no place better adapted to this vein of thought
than Westminster Abbey.

The Abbey-church was dedicated to St. Peter, who, according to the
mediæval tradition, appeared to a fisherman on the opposite bank of
the Thames, and requested him to ferry him over to Thorney Island,
where, with his own hands, he performed the ceremony of consecration.
An atmosphere of legend and romance surrounds the earlier history of
Westminster Abbey, and continues even as late as the days of Edward
the Confessor. It is related in old chronicles that that monarch,
having omitted to make a pilgrimage to Rome, which he had promised on
condition that he should be restored to his throne, from which the
Danes had expelled him, was enjoined by the Pope, as the necessary
price of absolution, that he should expend the funds set apart for his
journey on the foundation or repair of some religious house dedicated
to St. Peter. The particular house was not indicated; but, just at that
time, a monk of Westminster, named Wulsine, dreamed that the Apostle
appeared to him, and bade him acquaint the King that he should restore
the church on Thorney Island. "There is," he is reported to have said,
"a place of mine in the west part of London, which I chose, and love,
and which I formerly consecrated with my own hands, honoured with my
presence, and made illustrious by my miracles. The name of the place
is Thorney; which, having, for the sins of the people, been given to
the power of the barbarians, from rich has become poor, from stately
low, and from honourable is made despicable. This let the King, by my
command, restore and amply endow: it shall be no less than the house of
God and the gates of Heaven." This, according to the old belief, was
the way in which the later Abbey arose. At any rate, Edward rebuilt
the monastery and church on a larger and more sumptuous scale; and,
from that time forth, Westminster Abbey became the grandest, and on
the whole the most august, building in London. It was then, likewise,
that the edifice first took a distinct and historical place in the
annals of the English people. Until then, it is difficult to trace its
history, which, indeed, is little more than a series of ecclesiastical
myths. From the days of Edward the Confessor, the story of the Abbey
is clear in every respect; but, in such an edifice, history itself
assumes a romantic, almost a marvellous, colour. We are in the presence
of eight centuries of the national life; for, although no portion of
Edward the Confessor's work remains at the present day, the Abbey
is so associated with the saintly monarch that it is impossible to
detach his memory from the structure begun by Henry III., continued
by Edward II., Edward III., and Richard II., and from time to time
enlarged by later sovereigns. The building we now behold is the legacy
of successive ages, which have left upon the stone itself the imprint
of their thoughts, their aspirations, their struggles, and their hopes.
In passing from chapel to chapel, from cloister to cloister, from aisle
to aisle, we seem to pass through the centuries which gave them birth,
and which have strewn over all the dust of their extinguished fires.
But Westminster Abbey is not merely an embalmed corpse, preserving the
semblance of a life which has long since vanished, It is still the
shrine of England's greatest men--still the embodiment of ideas yet
living in the national heart.

[Illustration: THE ABBEY, FROM LAMBETH BRIDGE.]

Westminster Hall is second only to the Abbey in historic interest. It
was originally built by William Rufus, and it is probable that some of
his work still exists, though the bulk of what we see is due to Richard
II. The magnificent timber roof--one of the finest in Europe--belongs
undoubtedly to the period of Richard; and it is marvellous to think
that this piece of wood-carving should have survived the wear of five
centuries, and resisted without injury the dynamite explosion of 1885.
A well-known tradition states that the roof is made of Irish oak, in
which spiders cannot live; but it appears to be really constructed of
chestnut. The place was intended as a banqueting-hall, and so used
by King Richard; but some of our early Parliaments assembled there,
and, at the very first meeting of the Houses in the new edifice,
Richard himself was deposed. The Law Courts were likewise held in this
building and its predecessor, from 1224 to 1882. Until a comparatively
recent time, the judges sat in the main body of the Hall; and, in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one side of the vast chamber was
taken up by the judges, the lawyers, the juries, and the other persons
concerned, while the opposite side was divided into a number of little
shops or counters, where vociferous traders bawled their wares and
solicited custom, until the Usher over the way commanded silence with
a voice louder than their own. With one exception--the Hall of Justice
at Padua--Westminster Hall is believed to be the largest chamber in
the world not supported by pillars. Its aspect is indeed noble, and
the recollections which crowd upon the mind on entering its walls are
almost overwhelming in their historic and dramatic interest. In the
Hall of Rufus, Sir William Wallace was condemned to death; while the
very building that now stands has witnessed the trials of Sir Thomas
More, the Protector Somerset, the Earl and Countess of Somerset,
who contrived the assassination of Sir Thomas Overbury, the Earl of
Strafford, King Charles I., the Seven Bishops who defied the power
of James II., three of the rebel lords in 1745, Warren Hastings, and
several other persons of less distinction, who still have made some
mark in the political or social history of the land. Here Oliver
Cromwell was inaugurated as Protector; and here, only a few years
later, his head was set upon a pole, between the skulls of Ireton and
Bradshaw. One could fancy ghosts flitting at night about this vast old
Hall. It would be a strange gathering, drawn from the tragedies of five
hundred years.

Returning to the river, we pass under new Westminster Bridge, but think
rather of its predecessor, the work of Charles Labelye, a native of
Switzerland, yet a naturalised British subject. This structure lasted
from 1750, when it was completed, to 1853, when its destruction was
commenced. Until the building of Labelye's bridge, there was actually
no way over the Thames, within the metropolis, but at London Bridge;
and the proposal to execute this most necessary work encountered
violent opposition in the City. Old Westminster Bridge was a ponderous
erection, in which, if we may accept the statement of the architect,
twice as many cubic feet of stone were employed as in St. Paul's
Cathedral. With its fifteen arches, diminishing in span from the
centre, its lofty parapet and wide alcoves, it presented a rather
handsome appearance, and many Londoners, not yet old, retain it in
kindly memory. It was badly constructed, however, and several of the
piers gave way in 1846. There was no alternative but to take the whole
structure down; but it has an abiding place in literature, owing
to the noble sonnet which Wordsworth composed there on the 3rd of
September, 1803. Another literary association with the bridge is of a
painful nature. When Crabbe the poet first came to London, in 1780, he
was in such deep distress that, after appealing in vain to many persons
of distinction, he delivered a letter at the door of Burke's house--a
letter to which the great orator and statesman afterwards replied with
the utmost kindness; but, pending the answer, Crabbe was in such a
state of agitation that, as he told Lockhart in later days, he walked
Westminster Bridge backwards and forwards until daylight. It was by
such experiences as this that Crabbe acquired his realistic power of
delineating the sufferings of the poor, with whom the fear of hunger or
the workhouse is one of the permanent facts of life.

It is on quitting Westminster Bridge that the Victoria Embankment
begins--a magnificent work, containing the finest effects of
architecture, mingled with trees and shrubbery, that are to be found
in the metropolis. When one recollects the unsightly mud-banks that
used to stretch along the shores of the Thames in this part of its
course--the grim, dilapidated buildings that approached the water's
edge--the general appearance of ruin--the shiftless, disreputable air
of the whole locality, save where some great building, such as Somerset
House, broke the dull uniformity of dirt, decay, and neglect--it is
impossible to be too grateful for what we now possess. The massive
river-wall, with the bronze heads of lions starting out of every pier,
the extended line of parapet, the artistic lamps reflected at night in
the shining stream, the Cleopatra's Needle, with Sphinxes round its
base, the avenues of planes, the green and leafy gardens, the elevated
terrace of the Adelphi, the stately river-front of Somerset House,
and the splendid new buildings which have been erected at various
points of the route, make up, together with the broad and flowing
river, a picture which it would not be easy to surpass. At Charing
Cross, unfortunately, there is an irremediable contradiction to this
grandeur. The railway bridge which there crosses the Thames is one
of the ugliest of an ugly family; and all we can do is to comfort
ourselves with a sense of the convenience afforded by such structures,
and with the impression of Titanic power always accompanying the
transit of vast bodies through the air above our heads. As soon as our
backs are turned upon the viaduct, it is forgotten; and close by, at
the bottom of Buckingham Street, we come upon a decaying relic of old
London, which is worth going to see. The Water Gate, formerly belonging
to York House, and built by Inigo Jones for George Villiers, Duke of
Buckingham, still outlasts, in melancholy isolation, all the princely
splendours that once distinguished this spot. York House was, for a
short time, the London residence of the Archbishops of York, by whom
it was afterwards let to the Lord Keepers of the Great Seal. It was
here that no less a man than Francis Bacon was born, and he retained
possession of the dwelling until his death. The next occupant was the
famous Duke of Buckingham, the favourite of James I. and Charles I.,
who pulled down the old house, and erected a temporary mansion to
supply its place. His intention was to build a more sumptuous palace
on the site of Bacon's town-house; but Inigo Jones's Gate was the only
portion ever erected. Of course, when originally made, it was on the
absolute margin of the river, and here, at high tide, the Duke and his
friends took the water in their barges, or landed after an excursion
on the Thames. At the present day, owing to the formation of the
Embankment, which covers the sloping shores of the river formerly left
dry, or rather oozy, when the tide was out, the Water Gate of Inigo
Jones is a long way inland, and looks forlornly across the intermediate
gardens towards the stream from which it is permanently divorced.
The edifice is a fine piece of Roman architecture, massive, rugged,
yet ornamental, and admirably adapted, by the peculiarities of its
structure, to serve as the approach to a mansion whose grounds came
sweeping down to the edge of the waves. The house was afterwards sold
by the second Duke of Buckingham, one of the profligate noblemen of
Charles II.'s reign, illustrious by his own wit and spirit, and still
more so by the masterly portraitures of Dryden and Pope; and a number
of streets were built upon the site, some of which were called after
the names and title of the Duke.

[Illustration: YORK GATE.]

Waterloo Bridge--the grandest bridge in London, and perhaps in the
world--admirably falls in with the architectural character of the
Embankment and its surroundings. Nothing can exceed the magnificence
of those nine broad arches, each one hundred and twenty feet in span,
and thirty-five feet high; or of the columned piers from which they
spring. The whole effect is colossal, yet graceful to the last degree
of cultured power. Where the massive pillars meet the Embankment, they
give an added grandeur to the work of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and the
triumphant arches, as they leap the channel of the river, display the
happiest admixture of strength and suavity. The engineer who executed
the works of Waterloo Bridge was the celebrated John Rennie; but the
design was furnished by a somewhat obscure projector named George
Dodd, who, in the first instance, was appointed to carry out his own
conception, but who appears to have been discharged through inattention
to his duties, and the lax habits which ultimately brought him to the
prison where he died. The name of Rennie is so universally associated
with the bridge, often to the exclusion of any other, that it seems but
fair to give the credit of the plan to this forgotten and most unhappy
genius.

Leaving Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House in our rear, the next
object of note that we reach is the Temple, where we might linger a
whole summer's day, without exhausting all the interest that attaches
to that memorable spot. What one chiefly sees from the river is the
green and pleasant garden, where, according to Shakespeare, the
partisans of the Houses of York and Lancaster plucked the white and red
roses which served as the distinctive badges of their cause. Looking
northward, however, we discern some of the new buildings which border
the open ground; and we know that beyond these lie the wonderful
courts and alleys--the mazy lanes and avenues of old houses--which,
taken altogether, make the Temple one of the most fascinating spots
in London. As he passes by on the smooth waves, the man familiar with
books can hardly refrain from repeating to himself the murmuring lines
of Spenser, in which the poet traces back the history of that cloistral
retreat to the days when it was associated with a great military and
ecclesiastical Order. Spenser was a thorough Londoner, and therefore
well acquainted with

                          "Those bricky towers
    The which on Thames' broad, aged back doe ride,
    Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers:
    There whilom wont the Templar Knights to bide,
    Till they decayed through pride."

In the poet's time, and for nearly a hundred years after, brick
edifices were very uncommon in London, and the Great Fire of 1666
would never have spread so rapidly, or extended so far, had not the
majority of the houses been constructed of wood. It was the "bricky
towers" of the Temple which at length stopped the westward march of the
conflagration. The oldest parts of the two Inns seem almost as if they
might be coeval with the days of Spenser; but the greater number of
the buildings belong apparently to the latter part of the seventeenth
century. Many alterations have of late taken place in the Temple, and
the new work (if only for its newness) is out of harmony with the old.
Could Charles Lamb revisit this beloved spot, it is to be feared that
he would be much troubled by some of the recent innovations. Those who
share Lamb's appreciation of old London have certainly a good deal
to put up with in these days. Perhaps the alterations are necessary
and unavoidable; but they are often terribly jarring, though there
are persons who will scarcely tolerate even a sigh over the departed
or departing relics of an interesting past. A good deal of the old
Temple, however, still remains, and may perhaps survive for another
decade or two. In the Temple Church we have a striking relic of the
Middle Ages, elaborately, but not always judiciously, restored between
1839 and 1842; and the Middle Temple Hall is thought to contain some of
the best Elizabethan architecture in London.

[Illustration: BIT OF THE VICTORIA EMBANKMENT.]

We are in modern times again when we come to Blackfriars Bridge; for
not only is the structure one of yesterday, but that which preceded
it dates back no farther than the second half of last century. The
bridge erected by Robert Mylne was completed in 1769, and lasted for
nearly a hundred years; but it shared the infirmity of Labelye's work
at Westminster, and the subsidence of the piers became so alarming
that in 1864 the whole edifice was doomed to destruction. One of the
finest views of St. Paul's Cathedral, or, at any rate, of the dome,
is obtainable from Blackfriars Bridge; but the appearance of the
bridge itself on the eastern side is greatly marred by the railway
viaduct of the London, Chatham, and Dover line. We have now passed the
Thames Embankment, and the river begins to be bordered by wharves and
warehouses, often black with the smoke of many years, yet not devoid
of a certain rugged picturesqueness and gloomy state. Enormous cranes
project from the walls; vast bales of goods dangle perilously in the
air, and are lowered into the barges and other vessels which come up
close to the landing-stages. Tier above tier of narrow, grimy windows
rise into the sky; and gaunt openings in the walls, which seem as if
they were intended for suicide, but are really meant for the reception
and discharge of goods, reveal to the observant passer-by some dusky
glimpses of that accumulated merchandise, the interchange of which has
made London the greatest city in the world. In these sullen edifices,
beetling over the water-side, you shall see nothing of beauty or of
grandeur; but a man must be ignorant indeed, or grossly dull in his
perceptions, if his mind do not discover, in the reaches of the Lower
Thames, matter of the deepest interest, affecting not merely his own
country, but her possessions in every part of the world, and to some
extent the whole world itself. From this point, the wondrous city
spreads around: the city with its roots in fable, and its branches in
the living present; the city of commerce, of manufactures, of finance;
the city of incalculable riches, and of that hopeless poverty which
accompanies riches as the shadow accompanies the sun; the city which
receives into its bosom the vessels and the wealth of all the globe,
and which is in constant and electric sympathy with every part of
Europe, with the teeming populations of the East, with the desert
heart of Africa, with the young Republics of the Western Continent,
and with the rising commonwealths of Australasian seas. Whence comes
this marvellous power--this universality of influence? Partly from
the genius and energy of the races which people Britain; but partly
also from the opportunities presented by that deep and expanding
stream which issues out into the German Ocean, and brings the fleets
of nations to the walls of London. The greatness of England depends
upon this liberal and majestic Thames--a fact so apparent, even in the
time of Queen Mary, that an acute Alderman, hearing of the sovereign's
intention to remove with the Parliament and the Law Courts to Oxford,
observed that they should do well enough, provided her Majesty left
the river behind. Even in the time of the Roman occupation, London
was a great commercial city; and since then, eighteen centuries of
development have reared the mighty fabric of her trade.

[Illustration: THE RIVER AT BLACKFRIARS.]

Though St. Paul's Cathedral is some little way from the Thames,
its splendid cupola is so prominent an object from the river that
it is impossible not to pause a little before Wren's masterpiece,
and consider the history of this great edifice, the foundation of
which takes us back to the early days of British history. By some
antiquarians it has been supposed that, in the Roman times, the summit
of Ludgate Hill was occupied by a temple to Diana; but this tradition
was entirely discredited by Sir Christopher, who records that, in
digging for the foundations of the present Cathedral, he found no
evidences whatever of the existence of any such pagan structure--no
fragments of cornice or capital, no remains of sacrifices. He
did, however, arrive at some foundations, consisting of Kentish
rubble-stone, cemented with exceedingly hard mortar, after the Roman
manner. He believed these to have been the relics of an early Christian
church, destroyed during the Diocletian persecution, the erection of
which he considered may have been due to St. Paul himself. Whatever
may be the truth of these remote traditions, it seems unquestionable
that a Christian fane existed on this spot from an early period. The
crown of the hill was a very likely place for such an edifice, and the
proximity of the river made it easy of access from surrounding parts.
The church demolished during the persecution of 302 was rebuilt in the
reign of Constantine, between the years 323 and 337. In the following
century it was destroyed by the Saxons, but, after the conversion of
the early English, was again erected by Ethelbert and Sebert in the
sixth and seventh centuries. The Cathedral which immediately preceded
the present was begun about 1083, and lasted until the Great Fire of
1666. During this long period of nearly six hundred years, the edifice
underwent frequent alterations, and received many additions. Some of
its dimensions are thought to have exceeded those of any other church
in Christendom. Its length from east to west was six hundred and ninety
feet, and the spire over the central tower rose five hundred and twenty
feet into the air. This spire was burned in 1561, and, from that time
until 1633, the noble old pile was in a state of dilapidation, which
it is surprising that so rich a city as London should have allowed
to continue. But the whole condition of the Cathedral at this period
was one not easy to understand at the present day. The middle aisle,
usually termed Paul's Walk, was an ordinary lounging-place for the
wits, gallants, and disreputable characters of the time. Under the
pillars of that magnificent arcade the lawyer received his clients;
the business man transacted his affairs; the idle inquired after
news; servants wanting employment let themselves out for hire; and
the chorister boys exacted tribute of gentlemen who entered the
Cathedral, during divine service, with spurs on. From the period of the
Reformation to the early part of the reign of Philip and Mary, matters
had been even worse; for a daily market was held in the nave, and men
would lead mules, horses, and other animals from entrance to exit.
"Paul's Walk" is one of the most frequent subjects of allusion in the
works of the Elizabethan dramatists; and there was certainly no better
place in London for an observer of manners, like Ben Jonson, to imbue
himself with the humours of men.

It need hardly be said that Old St. Paul's was a Gothic structure; but
when it was repaired in 1633, the work was put into the hands of Inigo
Jones, who was entirely a child of the Italian school. He accordingly
set up a classical portico in front of the ancient Gothic church,
thus producing an effect of painful incongruity, although the portico
in itself appears to have been extremely fine. The circumstance,
however, is to some degree excused by the design of Charles I. to
build an entirely new Cathedral, of which Inigo's portico was to be
the frontispiece. The Civil War put an end to this project, together
with many others; and during those tumultuous days Cromwell's soldiers
stabled their horses in the metropolitan church of London. The complete
destruction of the building followed six years after the Restoration,
when the greater part of London succumbed to a disaster which more
vigorous measures might have stifled in its infancy. Another Gothic
edifice would have been more in accordance with the traditions of
the place; but it is fortunate that no attempt was made to revive
an architectural style with which all the builders of that age were
entirely out of sympathy. Wren held the Gothic forms in absolute
contempt, and the towers which he added to Westminster Abbey show how
miserably he failed when trying to accommodate himself to methods which
he neither understood nor cared to understand. With the Renaissance he
was perfectly at home; and his great work, whatever objections we may
make on the score of coldness, so far as the interior is concerned, is
surely characterised by a grandeur of its own, dependent not merely
upon physical size, but on vastness of conception, and on that sense of
towering magnificence, and almost infinite dilation, which is produced
by this mountain of hewn stone, extending into curved and pillared
aisles, and swelling upwards into the mimic firmament of the dome. For
nearly two hundred years Sir Christopher Wren's Cathedral has been the
central monument of London. Round its giant mass the waves of the great
city beat day by day in feverish unrest; and there is something in its
ponderous bulk, its countless reduplication of arch and column, and its
soaring cupola, which seems to image the stability of English life in
the midst of constant agitation and perpetual change.

[Illustration: ST. PAUL'S, FROM THE THAMES.]

Southwark Bridge, under which we pass shortly after returning to the
river, is chiefly interesting as being the first thoroughfare which
carries us over into what is popularly called "the Borough"--certainly
one of the most memorable parts of the capital. By a kind of fiction,
Southwark is accounted one of the twenty-six wards of London, and,
considered in this relation, is entitled Bridge Ward Without. It is
therefore, to some extent, a part of the City; yet it has its own
government, and a distinctive character, both in general appearance
and in metropolitan history. In early times, it was a sanctuary for
malefactors, and in other respects possessed an evil reputation, which
appears to have been not wholly undeserved. In the Bankside, Southwark,
was situated the Bear Garden, of which we read so frequently in old
English writers--a place where Shakespeare must have seen the bear
Sackerson which he has immortalised in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_.
Edward Alleyn, the actor, who founded Dulwich College, was at one time
master of this objectionable place of amusement; and here Pepys went
one day with his wife, and pronounced the entertainment "a very rude
and nasty pleasure." A much pleasanter association with old Southwark
is the fact that Shakespeare's theatre, the famous "Globe Playhouse,"
conspicuous in stage history, was here situated close to the river.
The external shape of this illustrious edifice was hexagonal, and,
though the stage was roofed over with thatch, the spectators sat in
the open air without any covering whatever. The interior was circular,
and the building displayed a classic figure of Hercules supporting
the globe. One would be glad to know the exact spot where Shakespeare
trod the boards, submitted some of his works to public approval, and
perhaps discharged the duties of a manager. But, although the theatre
is commonly said to have stood in Bankside, there appears to be some
doubt upon the point. Unquestionably, however, the Bankside has the
best claim, and it is believed that Barclay and Perkins's brewery
occupies the site, or nearly so. Originally erected in 1594, the Globe
was burned down on the 29th of June, 1613, owing to some lighted
paper, projected from a piece of ordnance, having found a lodgment in
the thatch. This was rather less than three years before the death of
Shakespeare; but the playhouse was speedily rebuilt, at the expense of
James I., and of many noblemen and gentlemen. The drama that was being
acted on the occasion of the fire seems to have been Shakespeare's
_Henry VIII._; and Sir Henry Wotton, who writes an amusing account of
the affair to his nephew, says that the drama "was set forth with many
extraordinary circumstances of pomp and majesty, even to the matting
of the stage; the knights of the Order with their Georges and Garters,
the guards with their embroidered coats, and the like." The new
theatre was much handsomer than the old, and provided with a roof of
tile, so that the discharge of ordnance should not again produce such
disastrous consequences. The house was pulled down in 1644, by which
time Puritanical opinions had gained so much ground amongst the London
population that theatres were no longer the prosperous undertakings
they had been in more careless and light-hearted days.

From the Bankside to the High Street of Southwark is no great distance;
but it takes us backward from the time of Shakespeare to the time of
Chaucer. The "Tabard" Inn stood in that ancient thoroughfare, and,
until recently, some old, decrepit buildings flanked the back yard of
this hostelry, which, though probably not coeval with Chaucer, were
at any rate antique enough to suggest his period. The Borough High
Street, being the main road into the south-eastern parts of England,
was from an early date celebrated for its roomy hostelries, some of
which still remain in all their picturesque amplitude, with external
galleries, overhanging roofs, carved timber, dusky passages, and
cavernous doorways. None, however, could boast such an association as
that which throws its halo round the "Tabard." We are not, of course,
to suppose that Chaucer's immortal poem is an exact record of anything
that happened on some given occasion; but it is more than probable that
Chaucer performed the pilgrimage to Canterbury, "the holy, blissful
martyr for to seek," and that, with his companions, he started from the
"Tabard" in the High Street. It is also conceivable that these pious
excursionists often beguiled the way by telling stories; and it is
thoroughly in accordance with the manners of the time that some of the
stories should be of a very questionable tendency. Pilgrimages, after a
while, became a form of dissipation with which the religious sentiment
was but slightly associated. As early as the fourth Christian century,
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, dissuaded his flock from joining pilgrimages,
because of the low moral tone frequently developed amongst the
travellers. In the ninth century, Englishwomen had a particularly bad
name for the gallantries they carried on under pretence of devotion;
and in the fourteenth century, when Chaucer wrote, the matter had
doubtless become still worse. One of the results of this perversion,
however, was that people distinguished by every variety of character
were drawn together by the common object of adoration at some famous
shrine. Chaucer was thus presented with the finest possible opportunity
for the exercise of those powers of observation and of portraiture
in which he was hardly inferior to Shakespeare himself. Hence a poem
which, notwithstanding the difficulties of its partially obsolete
English, is still a living force in the literature of our race. Hence a
collection of stories which touch the whole round of human nature--in
its pathos, its humour, its tragedy, its devotion, its blunt and rugged
realism, its high-raised phantasy, its vulgarity, and its nobleness;
and hence that fascinating light of genius and human fellowship which
hovers round the vicinity of the "Tabard" Inn, and will consecrate even
its modern brick-and-mortar with the tenderest memories of the past.

Returning towards the river, we find on our left hand, not far from
the water itself, the fine old church of St. Saviour's, Southwark
(anciently called St. Mary Overies, from its position as to the
bridge), which contains a handsome Gothic monument to Chaucer's
contemporary, John Gower. The church has been much injured by
alterations in recent times, but still presents some beautiful
specimens of the Early English style. All that remains of the old
church founded in 1208 is in the choir and the Lady Chapel; yet,
on the whole, the effect is venerable, and the associations with
the church are highly interesting. Among the persons here buried
are Edmund Shakespeare, the brother of William; John Fletcher, the
fellow-dramatist with Beaumont; Philip Massinger, another dramatic
poet; and several persons more or less connected with the theatrical
world of Shakespeare's generation.

[Illustration: SOUTHWARK BRIDGE.]

We are now at the southern extremity of London Bridge--one of the
best of Rennie's works, but a very uninteresting structure compared
with that which preceded it. Still, it is impossible to pass over
this granite causeway without seeing, at any hour of the day, such a
spectacle of human life as penetrates both the heart and soul. All
bridges are favourable to this kind of observation; for they contract
and isolate the great stream of human beings, which for a brief period
is incapable of any diversion either to the right or to the left,
but is brought sharply and sternly face to face with him who would
take note of his fellow-creatures. Moreover, the absence of houses or
other buildings at the side of the footpaths brings every figure into
relief against the vast, eternal sky, and suggests, in a subtle and
almost terrible way, the fragility of the individual, as compared with
the infinity above his head. Beneath is the deep, dark river; above
are the inscrutable heavens; and between the two are these mites and
motes of a vanishing existence, suspended for a time between elements
which are stronger than themselves. On London Bridge one sees all
the chief varieties of human character, passing on from morn to eve,
and often far into the night, with that look of patient endurance,
or of half-suppressed suffering, which comes out so strangely when
large multitudes of men and women are brought together, without any
community of interest, or knowledge of each other's cares. The City
man, the lawyer, the clerk, the rugged labourer, the railway servant,
the desperately poor, who are evidently on the tramp, either from
London to the country, or from the country to London; the lurking
thief, the flashy swindler, the Jew with his bag, poor women with their
heavy bundles, and heavier faces, and perhaps still heavier hearts; the
street Arab on the look-out for stray halfpence, the girls who sell
cigar-lights, the meagre seamstresses going to and fro with their work,
and, at one season of the year the vast emigration of hop-pickers,
making for the fields of Kent--all these are here, together with many
other types of character that demand recognition from thoughtful minds.
Under certain climatic conditions, the effect is almost phantasmal in
its reduplication and variety, its familiar aspects and its mysterious
depth of life.

[Illustration: CANNON STREET STATION.]

The complete demolition of the old bridge in 1832 was a matter of
necessity, since the decrepitude of the former had at length gone
beyond all hope of further patching, and the growing traffic of London
required a broader and more convenient way from the City to the
Borough. But no more interesting structure was ever devoted to the
labourer's pickaxe. A bridge appears to have existed as early as 978;
another, built of wood, in 1014, was partly burned in 1136; and this
was succeeded, some years later, by the edifice which was destroyed
within the memory of some still living. The design was given by Peter
of Colechurch, chaplain of St. Mary Colechurch in the Poultry. The
construction occupied thirty-three years, from 1176 to 1209, which,
considering the breadth of river to be spanned, the massiveness of the
work, and the primitive nature of engineering science at that time,
does not seem excessive. Peter's bridge was of stone, not of timber,
and consisted of nineteen arches, a drawbridge for large vessels, a
gate-house at each end, and a chapel in the centre, dedicated to St.
Thomas of Canterbury. According to an old tradition, the course of the
river was diverted into a trench while the works were proceeding--a
trench which, commencing about Battersea, ended at Redriffe. Traces of
this vast ditch were remaining about Lambeth Marsh in the middle of the
seventeenth century, when small lakes of water appeared here and there,
with intervals of fenny ground between. The bridge was built on piles,
and these masses of timber, driven into the bed of the stream, must
have lasted until the destruction of the bridge itself. On the outside
of the timber foundations other piles were fixed, which rose up to
low-water-mark, and formed projections into the river, having somewhat
the character of open boats or barges. The object of the external
masses, which were called "starlings," was to break the rush of water
as it dashed towards the bridge itself; but the narrow arches and their
timber defences constituted a peril in the navigation of the river,
and were the occasion of several accidents to boatmen not thoroughly
masters of their calling. The operation of "shooting the bridge" was an
exceedingly awkward one, and many persons were afraid to undertake it.
The water formed a little cascade in these menacing straits, and the
strength and rapidity of the current would sweep away small boats, and
leave their occupants little chance of their lives.

In many ways, London Bridge was perhaps the most characteristic
structure of its kind in the world. The chapel of St. Thomas, erected
on the eastern side of the bridge, over the tenth or central pier
(which was carried a considerable distance eastward along the channel
of the river), appears to have been a very beautiful Gothic building,
reared upon a massive and graceful crypt, which could be approached
not only from the bridge, but by a flight of steps leading from the
starling of the pier. A tower, often grimly adorned with the heads
of distinguished traitors, stood near the centre of the bridge, and
the sides were covered with substantial houses, which were not taken
down until 1757-8. The tower in the middle part of the bridge was
removed towards the end of the sixteenth century, when its place was
occupied by a wooden edifice called Nonsuch House, constructed in
Holland, brought over to England in pieces, and put together with
wooden pegs, to the exclusion of all iron. It crossed the bridge on
an arch, and presented a singularly picturesque appearance, with its
timber carvings, its four square towers, its domes, its spires, and
its gilded vanes. The heads of the traitors--or of those who were
described as such--were transferred from the demolished tower to the
gate at the Southwark end, which was henceforth known as "Traitors'
Gate." Such was the singular aspect of Old London Bridge, which,
whether viewed from the river or from the roadway, must have looked
like some fantastic vision. Its history is no less full of variety
and of strange experiences. Terrific fires occurred from time to time,
by which, on some occasions, large numbers of lives were lost. Arches
and piers were carried away by high tides, or rendered frail by the
incessant action of the water, so that large structural repairs were
frequently needed. Here, in 1263, Eleanor of Provence, the queen
of Henry III., was attacked by the Londoners, when, during the De
Montfort troubles, she was endeavouring to escape to Windsor. Eleanor
was proceeding up the river in a boat, and the exasperated citizens,
assembling on the bridge, assailed her, not merely with insulting
words, but with dirt and stones, so that she was obliged to return to
the Tower. It should be observed that, although the bridge was for
the most part flanked by houses, there were open spaces every here
and there, very convenient for pelting a queen who happened to be
unpopular. By this way, Wat Tyler obtained an entrance into the City at
the head of his Kentish men. Single combats; desperate faction-fights,
attended by much slaughter; triumphal processions of conquering
kings; splendid pageantries of the great and noble; the mournful
pomp of royal funerals; the sumptuous entry of foreign princesses;
Wolsey in his grandeur, Wyatt and his insurgents, Charles II. on his
return from the Continent, when he at length succeeded to the throne;
knights, citizens, men-at-arms, priests, 'prentices, beggars, ruffians,
fugitives; the rich, the poor, the mighty, the humble, the downcast,
and the prosperous--all this wealth of human action, suffering,
despair, and hope, gives an enduring charm to the memory of Peter
of Colechurch's structure, and furnishes such a record as few other
buildings can parallel. The story of London Bridge is a romance of the
deepest interest, of the most gorgeous and the most gloomy colours. But
we touch only on its more salient points, and, passing on along the
eternal river, leave the shadow of this English _Ponte Vecchio_ behind
us like a dream.

[Illustration: BATTERSEA TO LONDON BRIDGE.]

  /Edmund Ollier/.



[Illustration: IN THE POOL.]


CHAPTER XI.

LONDON BRIDGE TO GRAVESEND.

    Hogarth's Water Frolic--Billingsgate--Salesmen's Cries--The Custom
    House--Queen Elizabeth and the Customs--The Tower, and Tower
    Hill--The Pool--The Docks--Ratcliff Highway--The Thames Tunnel--In
    Rotherhithe--The Isle of Dogs--The Dock Labourer--Deptford and
    Greenwich--Woolwich Reach and Dockyard--The _Warspite_.


There is a mighty change in the river after it has passed Fishmonger's
Hall. When the tide is running out it races through the arches of
London Bridge, and swirls round the buttresses, and eddies to right and
to left in such manner that the Thames waterman, having remembrance of
many disasters brought about by absence of knowledge or want of care,
amazes his passenger by his singular method of progression, rowing
round a clump of barges, getting under the hull of a steamer, shooting
across the river with the current, creeping slowly along by the
wharves, and otherwise man[oe]uvring as if he were a general preparing
to take a town. It requires a long pull and a strong pull to shoot
the bridge against the tide, and often has it happened to the idler,
leaning over the buttresses, to behold an upturned boat floating below
him, and behind it the boatman and his passenger sustaining themselves
above water by clinging to the oars.

[Illustration: ST. MAGNUS' CHURCH AND THE MONUMENT.]

The Thames waterman of the present year of grace is by no means such
a picturesque person as the oarsman of former days. There is no salt
water flavour about him; he wears no indication of his calling; he
is, to all appearances, merely a landsman in a boat. It was otherwise
in jolly William Hogarth's time. That great humorist drew, as the
tailpiece to an eccentric book, a queer little design of a grinning
Thames waterman, stout and jolly, seated on crossed oars, his legs
drawn up to his chin, a drinking-glass and an earthen pipkin dangling
from his gigantic heels. He was a creature all hat, boots, and broad
grin; whereas the waterman of to-day is rather a solemn sort of
person, very indifferently clad, who takes your shilling or your
half-crown as if you were doing him an injury.

The tailpiece aforesaid adorns the last page of an entertaining
account of how Hogarth, and three friends of his, set off on a holiday
excursion to Gravesend, Rochester, and Sheerness, sailing over just
that space of water which we are about to explore. The four boon
companions set off from the Bedford Coffee House, in Covent Garden,
on the 27th of May, 1732. They spent a day in the neighbourhood of
Billingsgate, drinking, apparently, and Hogarth drew a caricature of a
long-shore humorist who was known as "the Duke of Puddledock," which
said caricature, the rhyming chronicler of the expedition records, in
execrable verse, "was pasted on the cellar door." Thackeray calls these
four, "a jolly party of tradesmen at high jinks," and high jinks they
certainly had, Hogarth and one of his companions playing at hopscotch
in Rochester Town Hall. They went down the river in a "tilt boat,"
laughing and shouting and drinking, exchanging jokes with the watermen,
singing each other to sleep with jolly choruses, and behaving generally
in a manner that was highly indecorous and reprehensible. It was six
o'clock in the morning when they reached Gravesend, something like
twenty-four hours after their start. With the tide in your favour, on
the steamers which leave London Bridge twice a day, you may now make
the same bright and agreeable journey in two hours and a half.

And such a journey should every one make who wishes to realise, however
faintly, the picturesque magnificence, the prodigious commerce, the
splendid importance of the Thames. The crowded shipping of the Pool,
the steamers coming and going, the vessels lying at anchor here and
there, as if the river were a huge dock, only feebly represent the
vast tonnage which is borne on our grand and historic river every day
of every year. Behind the great piles of warehouses--towering over
the housetops, ornamenting the sky with a curious fretwork of masts
and spars and cordage--lie scores and hundreds of the vessels of all
nations, crowded into dock beyond dock, making a line of rigging, of
glittering yards and masts, of furled sails and flaunting canvas, on
either side of the Thames for mile on mile.

It is on the Tower side that the line is least broken. London Bridge
is scarcely left behind ere St. Katharine's and London Docks come in
sight; then follow the enormous acreage of the East and West India
Docks, then come the docks at Millwall, and the Albert and Victoria
Docks, stretching onward to North Woolwich--a vast contiguity of dock
property, basin beyond basin occupied by some of the finest shipping
that roams the seas.

Earlier in the century, when the screw-steamer was as yet undreamed
of, and there had been no vision of the steam-tug which is so vast a
convenience to-day, this portion of the river presented at certain
seasons a much more stirring sight than now. Fleets of vessels, with
their sails spread, came in at every tide; hundreds of ships lay
crowding in the Thames at the mercy of the wind; it was a long panorama
of seafaring life, with no bellying smoke to impede the view. All that
has been changed by the wand of Science and the genius of Discovery.
If a vessel lies in the stream instead of in the docks, it is for
purposes peculiarly its own; and the dock gates, instead of opening to
whole fleets driven up by a prosperous wind, swing open to solitary,
but more gigantic, vessels propelled by steam.

Not that sailing-ships are no longer numerous in the Thames! The old
East Indiaman has departed, the ships of John Company are broken
to pieces; but the tall three-master is by no means an unfamiliar
object, and on the Thames waters below London Bridge one may encounter
schooners and brigs and brigantines galore. Nor has the number of
lighters and wherries and dumb-barges diminished. On most shipping
rivers these auxiliaries of trade have almost or wholly disappeared.
The uncouth keelmen of the Tyne are a race with few survivors, and
when the universally popular "Keel Row" is sung or played, it is
almost invariably without reference to its former signification. On
the Mersey no long line of coal-barges blocks the stream. The barge
and the keel have, indeed, had their day, and are now little more than
encumbrances; yet it is probable that they will be familiar objects for
years to come on the Thames. When the docks were made, the watermen
rose up in revolt against a threatened invasion of their privileges,
and were fortunate enough to secure for themselves new rights which
ensured their continuance and prosperity. So it happens that in
addition to the sailing-ships and schooners which may be seen at anchor
along either side of the Thames, there is a great number of smaller
craft, inconvenient but full of interest, greatly in the way, but very
delightful to the artist and the heedful possessor of a "quiet eye."

No effective justice has ever yet been done to the lower portion of
the Thames. You will find it stated in most books on the subject that
the river ceases to be picturesque when it has passed St. Paul's. A
French poet calls it "an infected sea, rolling its black waters in
sinuous detours"; and that is the despondent view that has been taken
by the majority of English writers. Yet in the eyes of those who
have roamed about this section of the river, and have loved it, only
at London Bridge does the Thames become really interesting. In the
higher reaches it is an idyllic river, swooning along through pleasant
landscapes; after St. Paul's it takes on a new and more sombre sort of
glory, assumes a mightier interest, and is infinitely more majestic in
the lifting of its waters. Above London Bridge, even when the wind is
blowing, the waves are small and broken, like those of a mountain lake;
in the Pool the water surges and heaves in broad masses, the light
seems to deal with it more nobly, and the Thames assumes such majesty
as becomes a stream which flows through the grandest city, and bears so
great a portion of the commerce, of the world.

As for picturesqueness, one may behold a score of the finest possible
pictures from London Bridge itself. The grey tower of St. Magnus'
Church, smitten by a passing ray of sunlight, stands out bright and
shining behind the dark mass of buildings over Freshwater Wharf; beyond
it, more dimly seen, the Monument lifts its flaming crown; the Pool is
alive with hurrying steamers and clustering sails; Billingsgate is in
the midst of its traffic; the white face of the Custom House looks down
into the dun waters; and yonder rise the more sombre walls of our most
ancient fortress, the venerable quadragon of the White Tower, with its
four dark cupolas, dominating them all.

Round the spot on which Freshwater Wharf now stands clustered Roman
London. There are still some half-hidden relics of it under the recent
and handsome Coal Exchange in Thames Street. There, descending to the
foundations, one may find a hypocaust full of fair spring water, a
pavement floor, an ancient and austere seat built of Roman tiles, and
some pieces of ruined wall. It is the lower portion of a Roman house,
the most interesting and complete bit of evidence still remaining in
London of the Roman occupation of Britain.

[Illustration: LONDON BRIDGE TO WOOLWICH.]

The front of Billingsgate has altered its aspect of late. A wharf has
arisen where, heretofore, a couple of narrow gangways descended sheer
to the foreshore of the Thames, when it was exposed, and to the water,
when the tide was in. Many a Billingsgate porter has lost his life
hurrying up those gangways, yet, so conservative is the City of London
in its habits, that it is only a few years since the conclusion was
reached that the market would be no worse, and human life would be
all the safer, for a pier. With that very modern improvement one of
our London "sights" has changed its aspect. No longer may we behold
the four lines of white-jacketed figures, two bustling up from and
two hurrying down to the boats. Yet the white-jacketed figures are
there, and they bustle about as of old, though the work has become
indescribably easier, and is carried on by men in less constant peril
of their lives.

To see Billingsgate in the full tide of its work--and England has no
other sight to compare with it--one must rise with the sun in summer,
and long before the dawn in winter, when heavily-laden market-carts
from Kent are rumbling over London Bridge, whilst the homeless tramp is
still composing himself to slumber, and while still the mists cling to
the surface of the river so heavily as to seem beyond the power of any
mere London sunshine to raise or dispel.

[Illustration: BILLINGSGATE--EARLY MORNING.]

At five in the morning, summer or winter, rain or shine, Billingsgate
seems to shake itself and start on a sudden into active and turbulent
life. In the night a series of long, low, snake-like steamers have
crept up the river, bearing freight from the fishing-smacks which are
pursuing their dangerous fortune in the North Sea. Just below where
they have dropped anchor cluster several broad-beamed, highly-polished,
Dutch schuyts, bringing oysters or eels to market, and reminding you,
by their bulk and build, of the stout, prosperous, slow-moving citizens
of Amsterdam. Little panting steam-tugs are hurrying here and there,
and amid a confused glare of lights, and a tempest of smoke and steam,
the Billingsgate porters, having waited for the five o'clock bell, rush
out in streams to schuyt and smack and steamer, pushing, shouting,
swearing, surging to and fro in the mist and steam and glare, working
with the energy of gnomes doomed to perform an allotted task ere the
first beams of morning surprise them at their toil.

Thames Street, and Fish Street Hill, and Pudding Lane, and many a
street and alley roundabout, are crowded, packed, jammed, with vans and
carts and trollies. The stranger wanders bewildered and afraid among
all these, in danger of being knocked down by laden porters, run over
by market-carts, hustled out of all self-possession by feverish buyers,
or lost amongst such a wild and interminable confusion of vehicles as
no other place in the world can show.

For all that is known to the contrary, Billingsgate has been a
fish-market from the time when the ancient British inhabitants of the
proud hill on which the City of London stands put off in their coracles
to seek the means of livelihood in the broad waters which dock and
warehouse and wharf now confine in the comparatively narrow channel of
the Thames. There was a toll on fishing at Billingsgate when the Saxon
Æthelstan reigned. William III. made the market open and free for all
sorts of fish in 1699. Since that day many attempts have been made to
establish fish-markets elsewhere in London, but up to this time with
uniform non-success. It is not yet quite a score of years since the
present Billingsgate Market was completed. You may still read, in even
recent books, of "the elegant Italian structure" of Mr. Bunning, with
its towering campanile, its fine arcades, and its picturesque blending
of brick and stone. Mr. Bunning's market, however, was too small for
its purposes; and in 1874 the present building was begun, and, in spite
of vast difficulties, was finished without disturbance of the business
of the day. It preserves much of the old "elegance" of structure, and
is partly Italian in style, but the smoke of the steamers clings to
it, and has blackened it so that, between the grey buildings above
Freshwater Wharf and the shining walls of the Custom House, it looks
like a patch of shadow in a field of light.

Fish was once indifferently delivered at Billingsgate or at Queenhithe,
on the other side of London Bridge. Henry III., at a loss how to
furnish pin-money for his wife, gave to her a tax on the fish landed
at Queenhithe Pier. It was a tax, too, which the fishmongers were very
reluctant to pay, and many were the fines inflicted on shipmasters
who tarried at Billingsgate instead of making their way to the royal
quay. Billingsgate fought that hard battle against royalty with great
resolution, and ultimately won. Since then it has become obstructive
on its own account, and has, in turn, successfully resisted any
invasion of its own exceptional privileges. The dealers at Billingsgate
must in those early days have been as rich, and quite as exclusive
and privileged, as are their successors of this latter part of the
nineteenth century, for it is recorded how, when the news was brought
to London of the victory which Edward I. had obtained over the Scots,
they paraded the city with over a thousand horsemen, accompanied by
the sound of trumpets, and the streaming of banners, and all the fine
pageantry of a picturesque time.

The daily supply of fish to Billingsgate amounts, on an average, to 500
tons. It is difficult to realise how prodigious a quantity is this;
but the imagination is assisted by reflecting that one ton of fish is
equal in weight to twenty-eight sheep, so that the day's supply of 500
tons is equivalent to a woolly herd of not less than 14,000. London in
this manner draws to itself the great bulk of the fish that are caught
around our coasts; but, it must be understood, Billingsgate does not
exist for the advantage of metropolitan consumers alone. Most of the
large provincial towns draw upon the great fish-market of the Thames,
and almost as soon as the day's supply is landed and sold much of it is
speeding off in fast trains to the great centres of industry, where it
is again distributed, it may be, to less important communities, and to
small hamlets nestling amid ancestral trees.

At Billingsgate you may make your purchases by the ton or the single
fish. There are fish-salesmen of varying degrees, some selling, in
large quantities, the fish as it is landed from the boats, others
selling over again to shopkeepers and to costermongers what they have
only themselves purchased some half-an-hour before. The more respected
and prosperous dealers, coming early, with long purses, have the pick
of the market, and are speeding off home again before the bell of
St. Paul's has tolled the hour of nine. Then the costermongers come
crowding in, shouting, pushing, swearing, exchanging jokes, impugning
the freshness of the fish, boiling into anger at the prices asked from
them, and filling the market-hall with an amazing clatter of Cockney
tongues.

The attendance of the London coster is regulated by the supply of
fish. Sometimes only a few scores of these itinerant dealers are to
be encountered in Old Thames Street; sometimes they are present by
hundreds and thousands. It has never yet been discovered how the
intelligence of a profuse and cheap fish supply is diffused over
London; but it invariably occurs that when the market is overstocked
every costermonger in town has knowledge of the fact long before noon.
It is much as if the street-dealers were connected with Billingsgate
by electric wires. "Barrows" come racing by dozens over London Bridge;
Covent Garden Market is suddenly deserted by the most numerous class
of its customers; from Shadwell, from Kentish Town, from more remote
Hammersmith, the costermonger rushes off to Billingsgate as if for bare
life, and by mid-day cheap fish is being cried all through the London
streets and far off at the doors of "Villadom" in the suburbs.

The late Henry Mayhew has striven to give an idea of the confused
cries of Billingsgate in his wonderful and painstaking work on "London
Labour and the London Poor," where the sounds heard above the general
din are represented thus:--"Ha--a--ansome cod! best in the market! All
alive! alive! alive, O!" "Yeo, ye--e--o! Here's your fine Yarmouth
bloaters! Who's the buyer?" "Here you are, guv'ner; splendid whiting."
"Turbot, turbot! All alive, turbot!" "Glass of nice peppermint this
cold morning, a ha'penny a glass, a ha'penny a glass!" "Fine soles, oy,
oy, oy!" "Hullo, hullo, here! beautiful lobsters, good and cheap!" "Hot
soup, nice pea-soup! a--all hot, hot!" "Who'll buy brill, O, brill, O?"
"Fine flounders, a shilling a lot! O ho! O ho! this way--this way--this
way! Fish alive! alive! alive O!" And in such fashion is business
carried on at Billingsgate every morning, amid a turbulence not to be
described.

It is a prosaic, evil-smelling business, this of fish dealing, relieved
by no such spectacles as were to be witnessed in the time of Stowe,
when, "on St. Magnus' Day the fishmongers, with solemn procession,
paraded through the streets, having, among other pageants and shows,
four sturgeons, gilt, carried on four horses; and after, six-and-forty
knights armed, riding on horses, made 'like luces of the sea;' and then
St. Magnus, the patron saint of the day, with a thousand horsemen." The
salesmen reserve their solemn rites in these days for the dinners in
Fishmongers' Hall, and the only "Knights" they can boast of are those
ludicrous "men in armour" who make a part of the Lord Mayor's Show.

Close by Billingsgate lies the long frontage of the Custom House,
conspicuous no less by reason of its bulk and position than for that
leprous whiteness which, on certain kinds of stone, is one of the
effects of the biting and crumbling atmosphere of London. The site is
one that should be dear to lovers of English poetry. Here Geoffrey
Chaucer officiated as Controller of Customs, the stipulation being that
he should write the rolls of his office with his own hand, and perform
his duties personally, and not by deputy. It may be that whilst his pen
was thus unpoetically employed, his mind wandered off to the "Tabard"
Inn, by the end of London Bridge, to its jolly landlord, "bold of his
speech, and wise and well-i-taught," and to the curiously compounded
bands of pilgrims who gathered there on their way to the shrine of St.
Thomas at Canterbury. Here, also, came William Cowper, in one of his
fits of insanity, intent on suicide. The water was low, exposing the
foreshore, and there was a careless porter sitting on a bale of goods.
It seemed to the poor stricken poet as if the man were waiting there to
prevent the execution of his purpose, "and so," he says, "this passage
to the bottomless pit being mercifully closed against me, I returned to
the coach," which was really the only sensible thing he could do.

The present Custom House, built in 1825, contains one of the longest
and the most dingy-looking rooms in England. Here may be encountered
strings of British merchants and rough ship-captains waiting to
transact business relating to their cargoes. At one counter is kept a
record of vessels and their owners, at another the clearance of ships
outward is the subject of concern; at a third the skipper must hand in
a list of every article on board his vessel, and thence proceed from
counter to counter until he has satisfied all the requirements of the
law. In one corner of the building there is a Custom House Museum,
containing many quaint official documents, detailing how John Doe,
being a Papist, did not receive his quarter's salary, and how some
other servant of the Customs has been docked of his wages because of
the indiscretion of somebody else's wife; containing, also, curious
articles which have been employed in small acts of smuggling--a
stewardess's crinoline that has been puffed out with a bottle of right
good Hollands, a book which has been made to do duty as a brandy-flask,
quantities of snuff that have been shipped as oilcake, and many other
curious examples of unexpected failure to evade the law. Those whose
business it is to detect cheats of this description love to retain
some memorial of their prowess, and in this manner it happens that the
Custom House Museum is valuable chiefly to those who care to study
human ingenuity in connection with dishonest purposes.

There is in existence a curious record concerning the Custom House and
Queen Bess. "About this time (1590)," writes the quaint author of "The
Historie of the Life and Reigne of that famous Princesse Elizabeth,"
"the commodity of the Custom House amounted to an unexpected value;
for the Queen, being made acquainted by the means of a subtle fellow,
named Caermardine, with the mystery of their gaines, so enhanced the
rate that Sir Thomas Smith, master of the Custom House, who heretofore
farmed it of the Queen for £14,000 yearly, was now mounted to £42,000,
and afterwards to £50,000, which, notwithstanding, was valued but as
an ordinary sum for such oppressing gaine. The Lord Treasurer, the
Earls of Leicester and Walsingham, much opposed themselves against this
Caermardine ... but the Queen answered them that all princes ought to
be, if not as favourable, yet as just, to the lowest as to the highest,
desiring that they who falsely accused her Privy Council of sloth or
indiscretion should be severely punished; but they who justly accused
them should be heard. That she was Queen as well to the poorest as to
the proudest, and that therefore she would never be deaf to their just
complaints. Likewise that she would not suffer that these toll-takers,
like horse-leeches, should glut themselves with the riches of the
realm, and starve her Exchequer; which, as she will not bear it to be
docked, so hateth she to enrich it with the poverty of her people."
From which lion-like speech it appears that Queen Elizabeth more than
suspected her Privy Councillors of having intercepted moneys which
should have found their way to the Exchequer of the Crown.

After the Billingsgate fever is over, everything round about the Custom
House seems quiet and sleepy and still; yet an almost inconceivable
amount of business is transacted within its walls. Every merchant
receiving a cargo, every shipmaster going out or coming in, has
unavoidable business here. There is a series of counters, distinguished
by the various letters of the alphabet, and from one to another the
visitors to the Custom House continue to circulate, engaging in one
sort of transaction at one counter, and in some other sort at a
second, and third, and fourth. It is a long and wearisome process,
the discharge of the various duties appertaining to the entry and the
clearing out of ships--a process which, be it said, seems much less
trying to the clerks than to those on whom they are called upon to
attend.

In front of the Custom House there is a broad quay, used as a public
promenade, a true haven of rest to him who has lost heart and energy
in the almost vain attempt to escape from the crowd and the bustle of
Thames Street. At this spot, on New Year's Morning, the Jews of London
were wont to assemble to offer up prayers in remembrance of that sad
captivity when their people sat down by the waters of Babylon and wept.
The custom has been discouraged of late years, but there are still
some professors of the ancient faith who follow the rule of their
forefathers, and offer up the time-worn prayers on the spot which was
consecrated by them in "the days that are no more."

It is difficult to break away from that portion of the river on which
we seem already to have lingered too long. The Thames is here full
of interest and of crowding associations. Over the water, behind the
great, grim warehouses, slopes downward into Bermondsey that Tooley
Street which the three tailors--"we, the people of England"--have made
famous throughout the world. From amid grimy roofs and grey-brown walls
rises the tower of St. Olave's Church, half-buried and lost amid a
London of which its builders never dreamed. Down here, in narrow street
and dim entry, the bewildered stranger begins to feel that, after all,
man is too small for the planet on which he lives. Great walls--of
granary, and store, and manufactory--reach over and above him, and
dwarf him into extreme littleness. He seems to be walking beneath high
cliffs by the sea. The whole air trembles and throbs with noise and
travail. Here and there, through some unexpected narrow opening, may
be discerned a thin strip of river, with ships and boats. At intervals
of every two or three hundred yards these openings occur, and they
lead down to old-fashioned Thames stairs, where the waterman plies his
trade. Lingering about the landing-places, or the streets and alleys
adjacent thereto, one meets occasional blear-eyed, evil-countenanced,
ill-clad men, who approach with a sinuous stoop of the shoulders, a
deferential ducking of the head, and a dirty thumb raised to the brim
of a greasy hat. These men will do anything for money except work. If
you employ one of them to conduct you to the stairs and to call a boat
he will pretend to hurry forward, but, without progressing much, will
look furtively behind, seem to measure your size and estimate your
running powers, and then proceed slowly in front, his evil-looking
thumb continually beckoning, and his croaking voice ejaculating, "This
way, sir; this way; this way, if _you_ please." He means no mischief
probably, but as you walk through these parts of London in such company
you are thankful it is daylight, and that even the alleys and courts of
the Surrey side are not absolutely impervious to the sun.

Some of these strange places have equally strange names. Pickle
Herring Street, and Shad Street, and other cramped thoroughfares with
ancient and fish-like designations, suggest that here, also, almost
directly opposite to Billingsgate, there must have been a market once.
There is scarcely even a shop or a public-house now. This is the
London that really works with a will. To the right are tanneries and
tallow-chandleries--their odour loads the atmosphere as if it were
a thick fog, incapable of any effort to rise--to the left are vast
granaries and wharves; and between them the narrow spaces are filled up
with hurrying vehicles and toiling men.

From the south to the north side of the river there is a continual
stream of labourers, some making their way under the river, like moles,
by means of the subway, some streaming down to the boat-landings and
casting off in batches into the tide. The subway is an iron barrel,
some six feet in diameter, which has been driven underground far below
the bed of the Thames. Walking through it, one hears, as a series
of dull, only half-audible, thuds, the lashing of a paddle-steamer
overhead. No other sound reaches that cramped, underground chamber, in
which one seems to be walking as in a coal mine, from the dark into the
dark. After this dreary journey, we ascend a flight of stairs that is
wearying, and that seems to be endless, and emerge on Tower Hill, into
the sunshine, and the presence of green trees, and the sight of what is
most venerable in the whole English realm.

Tower Hill is a sort of oasis in a desert filled with the whirling
sands of traffic--the terminus to the great lines of warehouses
which fill Thames Street. Surrounded by shops and offices and public
buildings, it is, but for the country cousin newly arrived to behold
"the sights," almost as quiet as some retired corner of the parks.
Standing here, where so many historic heads have fallen, one may behold
the river streaming by, and watch the sun lighting up the polished
masts of a hundred vessels slumbering in the Pool.

On Tower Hill stands Trinity House, which claims notice here because
of its close connection with the river and with ships. Queen Elizabeth
made the Masters of Trinity the guardians of our sea-marks, and they
have now the sole management of our lighthouses and our buoys. Part of
their business is to mark out the locality of wrecks, and to announce
to the shipmasters of all nations any changes in the entrances to
English ports. At Trinity House is one of those numerous London
museums which are seldom seen--a museum of models of lifeboats, buoys,
lighthouses, life-saving apparatus, and other objects connected with
the safety of ships and voyagers at sea. Here the curious visitor may
spend an hour or two with advantage, and it will be matter for wonder
if he does not come away oddly instructed in many intricate matters
connected with the sea.

To all fairly informed Englishmen, the history of the Tower of London
is so familiar that it would be an impertinence to recount any portion
of it here. The "towers of Julius, London's lasting shame"--not that
Cæsar really had anything to do with them--have the peculiarity of
being known, through some sort of representation, to most, even, of
those stay-at-home people who are said to have country wits. And let
it be said at once that at the first glance they are not nearly so
imposing as they are usually made to appear. "And that is the Tower?"
an American observed to me lately; "and that is the Tower? Well, then,
I guess the Tower was not worth crossing the Atlantic to see." Yet,
even this unfavourable critic saw reason to change his views. It is
from the river, and not from Tower Hill, that the first inspection
of this venerable edifice should be made. Seated on an idle barge,
one may contemplate it at leisure; and it is only after leisurely
contemplation that its fine grouping, its richly varied colour, and its
compact massiveness force themselves on one's slow appreciation. From
just behind where we are supposed to be seated, the adherents of the
Earl of Salisbury poured stone shot into the Tower precincts when Henry
VI. was king. Facing us, the lower portion now hidden by a quay wall,
is the round arch of Traitors' Gate--

                      "Through which before
    Went Essex, Raleigh, Sidney, Cranmer, More."

with those steps still intact on which the Princess Elizabeth seated
herself, petulantly declining to make such an entrance to the Tower as
would declare her to be a traitor to the realm.

[Illustration: THE TOWER, FROM THE RIVER.]

Up to quite recently, to the time of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre's occupancy of
the office of Board of Works, indeed, the Tower, as seen from the
river, was much disfigured by modern buildings of exceeding ugliness,
which public feeling had long since condemned. Most of these have
now disappeared, but one such building, bearing the appearance of a
granary, still remains to break the face of the White Tower with its
dull red-brown. Beyond it one catches glimpses of quaint gabled roofs,
characteristic of periods as widely separated as those of Elizabeth and
Queen Anne. To the left are more buildings of old red-brick, with ivy
clustering over them, and beyond, home of many sad memorials, rise the
walls of the Beauchamp Tower, with, beside them, a curious lumber of
quaint, many-windowed, square turrets, jumbled together in different
ages for diverse purposes, and now used as lodgings for the Beefeaters
and the guard.

In the church of St. Peter ad Vincula, the situation of which one
may guess from the river, were interred the headless bodies of Queen
Catherine Howard, of Anne Boleyn, of the Countess of Shrewsbury, and
of Lady Jane Grey; of Sir Thomas More, of the first Cromwell, of
Seymour, Lord High Admiral, of his brother, the Protector Somerset,
and of many others whose illustrious positions were the occasions of
their own misfortunes. "There is no sadder spot on earth than this
little cemetery," says Macaulay. "Death is there associated, not, as in
Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public
veneration, and with imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest
churches and churchyards, with everything that is most endearing in
social and domestic charities, but with whatever is darkest in human
nature and in human destiny; with the savage triumph of implacable
enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of
friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted
fame." The most ancient and illustrious building that is mirrored in
the waters of the Thames is, indeed, also the home of the grimmest
memories. The Tower is a sad, depressing place to visit, the concrete
representative of all the darker events of our history.

The character of the Thames below London Bridge is best expressed by
the normal appearance of the Pool. And let me at once explain that the
Pool is the wide, curving stretch of river which extends from just
above the Tower to the neighbourhood of "Wapping Old Stairs." Here, in
most abundance, you find "toil, glitter, grime, and wealth on a flowing
tide." Mr. W. L. Wyllie's picture, purchased out of the funds of the
Chantrey bequest, is a wonderfully characteristic description of the
aspect which the Thames presents in this busy portion of its course.
In the foreground a couple of coal-laden boats, with a little hasty
steam-tug beside them, are making slow headway against the tide; beyond
these, a great iron steamship rears up its vast bulk; a couple of
heavily-laden Thames barges are flying along under full sail; on either
side of the river there are confused masses of rigging, with here and
there the hull of a ship, half visible through whirling clouds of smoke
and steam. On the waterway, kept clear of all vessels at anchor for a
breadth of 200 feet, the strong white sunlight gleams, making clear to
the spectator what the poet Spenser had in his mind when, in his rich
vocabulary, he spoke of "the silver-streaming Thames."

Spenser's phrase is one which has been greatly misunderstood. The
Thames, even in its quietest and least corrupted days, can never have
been a very pellucid stream. When Taylor, the water poet, plied his
craft upon it he must have found almost as much difficulty in looking
into its mysterious depths as we find to-day. Certainly, to the local
colour of a swift-flowing river which brings down continuous deposits
of mud from far-off meadow-lands, such a word as "silvery" could never
properly be applied. Only when the sunlight struck the river, and its
rippled surface tremblingly gleamed back to the sky with a reflection
of its own brightness, could Spenser have been delighted by the aspect
of the "silver-streaming" waters, ebbing and flowing through London's
heart, and bearing onward their heavy burden to the sea. Leaning over
the rail of a steamer outward bound, one is apt to forget everything
else in the contemplation of these brilliant and rapidly changing
effects of light, which seem to chase one another as if in mere
wantonness, and which, in no mood of wantonness, at every capricious
curve of the stream cast on the thick dusky waters some new and strange
glory.

The Pool is full of such life and movement as is to be encountered
on no other English river, for here the crowded ships do not merely
lie at anchor, waiting on wind and tide; they are busy loading and
unloading freights. One hears the grating of cranes and the shouts of
men; the peculiar "dumb-barges" of the Thames cluster round the hulls
of screw-colliers from Newcastle, and receive from them their separate
loads of coal; and excitable little steamers are running in and out as
if they had lost their way among the crowded shipping. In mid-stream
the traffic is almost as busy and confusing as that of a London street.
Vessels are coming up with the tide; barges are slowly floating onward,
their brown sails spread, tacking to the wind, their decks washed now
and again by some arrowy wave from a paddle-steamer. There is, as Mr.
Jefferies says, "a hum, a haste, almost a whirl," for on the river work
proceeds at a more rapid pace than in the docks, and the Thames, it
must be remembered, is the busiest port on the surface of the globe.

It is hard to say whether the Pool is most beautiful and striking at
moonlight or in the dawn. Turner loved it best at the hour before
twilight, when the sky was robed in gold and crimson and purple, and
the Thames was ablaze with the light of the setting sun. At such
seasons it is indeed very glorious; yet to me it has always seemed most
beautiful in the morning, when the light is slowly diffusing itself
from behind a bank of purple cloud, and the face of the White Tower is
touched into pale gold, and there is a glittering radiance on turret
and roof, and the craft anchored in the stream are reflected to every
mast and spar and half-furled sail, and the river trembles in the new
radiance as if it were divided between delight and fear. Everything
is very still and soft and shadowy. It is such a scene as seems
appropriate to happy dreams. In another hour or two the river will be
awake, the twitter of birds flitting across the waters will be drowned
in the shouting of labourers and the shrieking of cranes; the stream,
its brief glory departed, will be churned up by paddle-wheel and screw;
the swarthy steam-colliers will come, hard and clear, out of the soft
haze, and the Thames will become a workaday river again, wonderful
still, but, after such a vision, too grimly prosaic and real. Yet it is
well to have seen it once with the dawn upon it, if only to learn how
those have libelled it who deny that it is "picturesque."

In the seventeenth century there was, in the Upper, Lower, and Middle
Pools, space for 900 vessels. Nearly that number might now be packed
into the London and St. Katharine's Docks, which lie just below the
Tower, hemmed in by what was once fashionable London, now fashionable
no more, but famous the world over as the accustomed haunt of the
seaman on shore. Before docks were constructed along Thames-side,
vessels were unloaded into barges and wherries, and river-robbery was a
thriving trade. Numbers of men lived, and grew rich, on what they had
contrived to steal from cargoes that were waiting to be discharged at
the wharves about London Bridge. Ships were sometimes as much as six
weeks in unloading, and a whole host of lightermen, carmen, porters,
and nondescripts thrived on the unconscionable delay. There were good
pickings in those times, and it is wonderful, when we consider with
how much rascality and obstruction our commerce had to contend, that
England ever became a great nation of carriers and traders.

The docks nearest to London Bridge cover the site of a church, a
hospital, and a graveyard.

More than 700 years ago, or, to be precise, in 1148, Matilda, the wife
of King Stephen, founded on a site just below the Tower a hospital
which was dedicated to St. Katharine. It endured, in one form or
another, to 1827, when the building was pulled down, and the hospital
was removed to Regent's Park. In that same year was commenced the
construction of the St. Katharine's Docks, which, by the employment of
2,500 workmen, were completed in the brief space of eighteen months.
They cover an area of twenty-three acres, ten of water and thirteen of
land. The docks are the most prosaic of all those which are to be found
along Thames shore. To the river they present a dull heavy frontage,
which suggests no connection with ships; on the land side they are shut
off from observation by a prodigiously high wall. Entering through
the gates you find three great basins, with ships lying close to the
wharves, and you have towering above you gigantic warehouses, dull and
dismal, but capable, you would suppose, of finding storage room for
half the commerce of a city. The cellars of St. Katharine's Dock are
complex and amazing, but the docks themselves are going out of vogue,
for many of the ships which used to frequent them are now intercepted
before the lights of London come in sight, the Victoria and Albert
Docks, much lower down the river, absorbing a great proportion of the
traffic which was wont to make its way into the Pool.

The London Docks, much larger than those of St. Katharine, are
beginning to share in the same neglect. They are of more ancient date
than their neighbours, having been designed by Rennie, the architect
of London Bridge, in 1805. As many as three hundred vessels can find
a comfortable haven here. The warehouses will contain 220,000 tons of
goods; there is storage for 130,000 bales of wool; the wine-cellars
are among the marvels and attractions of London. "Here," Mr. Sala has
remarked, "in a vast succession of vaults, roofed with cobwebs many
years old, are stored in pipes and hogsheads the wines that thirsty
London--thirsty England, Ireland, and Scotland--must needs drink."
Curious persons come here with tasting orders, and are shown round
by brawny coopers, who seem marvellously wasteful of good wine, and
are more generous to their visitors than the most prosperous of City
merchants, with the best plenished of wine-cellars, is to his friends.
Many a visitor to the wine-cellars of the London Docks has found
occasion to regret, when he has reached the open air, that he has been
so easily tempted to pass too frequent opinions on too many varieties
of wine. In the cellars an amateur wine-taster is apt to overrate the
strength of his head; above ground once more, the breath of the river
brings him to a sense of his own incapacity for frequent and varied
potations, and he shamefacedly betakes himself to a cab, to escape as
quickly as may be from the scenes of his bibulous indiscretion.

[Illustration: LIMEHOUSE CHURCH.]

On the dockside one encounters men of all nationalities--the swart
Lascar, the dusky Suliote, the quiet pigtailed Chinaman, the grizzled
negro; Germans, Swedes, stout little Dutchmen; Americans, Fins,
Malays, Greeks, and Russians. Nowadays an English ship is a polyglot
institution. In the Sailors' Home, near to the gates of St. Katharine's
Docks, one may hear men conversing in all the European languages; in
the Asiatic Home, close to the India Docks, there is such a confusion
of tongues as dismayed the builders of Babel. Entering and departing,
the owners of all these voices, and the thousands of dock labourers,
lightermen, loafers, visitors, must pass the inspection of the police,
who stand at the dock gates always on the watch, and who do not scruple
to submit to close examination the garments of all those whose pockets
may happen to bulge unduly, or who, having entered in the morning with
a perfectly erect spine, stoop inexplainably at the shoulders when they
have completed their business at night. In the docks there is a perfect
system of espionage, and "the Queen's Tobacco Pipe," until recently
located at the London, and now at the Victoria Docks, has smoked many
thousands of little presents of tobacco that large-hearted sailors had
intended for the gratification of their friends.

[Illustration: THE RIVER BELOW WAPPING.]

The long, narrow, grimy, and dissolute lane known to Englishmen
everywhere as Ratcliff Highway, and now disguised under the name of
St. George's Street East, begins its career near the gates of St.
Katharine's Docks, and winds along like a great slimy snake towards
Limehouse and Blackwall. It is unvisited of all those who have not
business to transact with men who go down to the sea in ships; for this
is peculiarly the sailors' quarter of London. Jack is to be encountered
at every step, not infrequently reeling somewhat, and with a lady of
loose manners on his arm. The shop-fronts are hidden behind strange
collections of oil-skins, sea-boots, mattresses, blankets, and the
miscellaneous assortment of articles specially provided for emigrants
and sailors. The public-houses, of which there are many, resound with
the noise of mechanical organs and string bands. The language one hears
is of a strictly nautical description; and every third house or so is a
lodging-house for sailors.

Of late years Ratcliff Highway has improved in character somewhat,
and many of the men who were wont to be fleeced and robbed in it have
been rescued from the crimps and sharpers by the Sailors' Home; but
it has still much of its old disrepute left, and discreet persons do
not perambulate it after nightfall without the escort of the police.
Here the seafaring men of various nationalities separate themselves
into groups, and form little colonies of their own. The public-house
is their forum, to whatever nation they may belong. In one of these,
English is spoken, in another German, in a third Norwegian, in a fourth
Greek. Even the negroes have a special house of call of their own.
As for the Chinamen, they prefer to smoke opium in quietness, and so
they divide themselves between various Chinese lodging-houses, where
they can eat, in the properly orthodox manner, with chopsticks, and
assemble round a table at night to gamble with their friends. It is a
strange, stirring, disordered place, Ratcliff Highway. Its population
is changing with the arrival or departure of every ship, yet its aspect
and its frequenters always seem to be the same, similar in manners,
bent on the same amusements, afflicted by the same vices, reeling into
or out of the same doors. There is nothing here except an occasional
piece of nautical slang to suggest the jolly British tar. To a great
extent, indeed, the tar has ceased to be either jolly or British. The
majority of the sailors to be met with in Ratcliff Highway are visibly
and distinctly foreign. There are no white "ducks," or raking straw
hats; nobody publicly "shivers his timbers," or speaks in that mixed
and technical language which helps to make the characters of Captain
Marryat so delightful. Only on the stage is it nowadays possible to
encounter the sailor of tradition. The seaman who frequents Ratcliff
Highway outwardly resembles the stoker of a railway train, attired in
his second best suit. There is nothing romantic about him, nothing
picturesque; and if the river and the docks were not so near, and
the shops were not so nautical-looking, and one's ears were not
occasionally saluted with "How goes it, Captain?" and "Hallo, mate!"
there would be nothing to suggest his connection with the sea.

All this was very different in Ned Ward's time, when that lively writer
was collecting materials for his _London Spy_; very different, indeed,
when men who are only now middle-aged were in the bloom of their youth.
"Sometimes we met in the streets with a boat's-crew," says Ward, "just
come on shore in search of those land debaucheries which the sea denies
them; looking like such wild, staring, gamesome, uncouth animals, that
a litter of squab rhinoceroses, dressed up in human apparel, could not
have made a more ungainly appearance.... Every post they came to was
in danger of having its head broken.... The very dogs in the street
shunned them.... I could not forbear reflecting on the 'prudence' of
those persons who send their unlucky children away to sea to tame and
reform them." And well he might wonder at that same prudence now, if he
saw how miserable and forlorn the British tar can look when his money
is spent, and how little his appearance is suggestive of those high
spirits which a life on the ocean wave is supposed to engender.

From Wapping, to which Ratcliff Highway will bring us, you may pass,
through the famous Thames Tunnel, under the river to Rotherhithe. Not,
however, as formerly, when the tunnel was reached by sets of circular
stairs, and toyshop keepers drove a meagre business under a dripping
and gigantic arch. At that period, the tunnel contained a central
arcade lighted by gas; nowadays, it is so dark that no man can discern
when he enters and when he leaves; for it has been absorbed into the
great railway system, and instead of traversing it on foot one is
whirled through it in a train, so that the traveller might be carried
underneath the Thames, at a depth of more than seventy feet below the
surface, without knowing that he had been on anything else but an
ordinary underground railway. The Tunnel cost nearly half a million of
money to construct, and twenty years elapsed--from 1823 to 1843--from
the time when it was designed by Brunel and the day when it was opened
to the public. As a place of resort for sight-seers it proved a
gigantic failure; as a railway tunnel, it is a means of communication
between the two most populous and busy districts of London.

Not that there are many signs of business to be encountered when one
leaves the tunnel by means of the railway station at Rotherhithe. At
the first glance the district round about seems quiet and sleepy and
secluded. Mr. Walter Besant came upon it unexpectedly and with great
joy, for here he found a world altogether in contrast with that which
he had left a little higher up the Thames--houses of quiet old sailors,
little churches and chapels, rows of small dwellings with flowers
blooming on the window-sills, timber-yards and lagoons and canals, and
a general air of retirement and repose. It is a narrow strip of shore,
Rotherhithe. On one side it is washed by the Thames; on the other, it
is hemmed in by the Surrey Commercial Docks. Sailor life in its better
aspects is to be encountered here, for the neighbourhood has been
haunted by seamen from Saxon times downwards, and the influence of
the quaint older world has not yet passed away. It was through being
a "sailor's haven," say the antiquaries, that Rotherhithe came by its
name. Here Canute cut deep trenches, which, according to one of the
friends of Samuel Pepys, who saw the remains of them in the course of
a walk from Rotherhithe to Lambeth, were intended to divert the course
of the Thames. At Rotherhithe Edward III. fitted out one of his fleets,
and close upon its borders, in Bermondsey, lived some of our early
kings.

The signs of the Rotherhithe inns--the "Swallow Galley," and the "Ship
Argo"--seem to carry us back to "the stately times of great Elizabeth;"
and though the place itself must have altered greatly since then, the
manner of life of some of its inhabitants is much like that of their
predecessors must have been when stout, high-decked ships sailed by on
their way to the Spanish main, and Rotherhithe sent out its contingent
of vessels and men to fight against the Invincible Armada.

All but completely cut off from the rest of the world for many
generations, Rotherhithe has naturally made the river its highway, and
so, leading off from its quiet, old-world streets, there are everywhere
passages which end in boat-landings and stairs. The names of many of
these latter recall memories of a bygone time. There are King and Queen
Stairs, Globe Stairs, Shepherd and Dog Stairs, Redriff Stairs--Redriff
being the name under which, at one time, Rotherhithe was known--and
others that must have received their designations when most of the
land beyond Rotherhithe was marsh and wilderness. When the tide is
out the stairs are left high and dry, and the river becomes a narrow
channel between muddy flats, on which barges lie grounded, and the ribs
of old wrecks are to be seen, and a steamer heels carelessly over, one
side of its keel washed by the lapping tide.

On the opposite side of the river lies Wapping; the unique spire of
Limehouse Church is visible, rising high above masts, and roofs, and
chimneys, a landmark for miles; Stepney stands proudly dominant on
its elevated banks; and Ratcliff, half enveloped in thick atmosphere,
proclaims itself by the gleaming sunlight on its multitudinous roofs.
Of Wapping one cannot think without recalling one of the tenderest of
English popular songs:--

    "Your Molly has never been false, she declares,
    Since the last time we parted at Wapping Old Stairs;
    When I swore that I still would continue the same,
    And gave you the 'bacca-box, marked with my name."

Wapping Old Stairs are still discernible from the river, but are
grievously difficult of identification, for, as at most other places
along these shores, great warehouses have taken the place of most of
the quaint-timbered old houses of former days. Yet at Wapping something
of the old appearance of things is visible still. Leaning forward on
to the shore, supported on mossy piles, green as the herbage of spring
or brown as the weeds of the sea, are groups of strange old houses,
with bay-windows, and overleaning balconies, and wooden walls, "clouted
over" with planks until they look like a suit of mended clothes.
The seafaring man's love of vivid colour is everywhere visible. The
half-ruinous, time-worn buildings are painted after the manner of a
Dutch barge--green contending with red, and raw yellow striving to hold
its own against the imperial blue. In some of those curious accidental
lights which are so frequent on the Thames, the low bank of Wapping
assumes a peculiar glory of its own, heightened by the brown sails of
barges sweeping past, and as full of colour as any picture which even
Turner ventured to paint.

But from Wapping we must return once more to Rotherhithe, and to the
Surrey Docks. They are ensconced in a graceful bend of the river, ere
it curves back again round the far-projecting Isle of Dogs. There are,
it is said, no older public docks in Great Britain, the Act by which
the docks on the Surrey side were created bearing the date of 1696.
Even before that period, indeed, there had been docks in the same
situation "of considerable importance and benefit to the shipping."
But docks which seemed large and important in the time of Queen Anne
would be ridiculously small and inefficient with our present trade.
The Howland Dock occupied ten acres when it was made; the Surrey
Commercial Docks cover 330 acres now. They derive an historic and
romantic interest from the fact that here the prize ships were brought
to be delivered of their cargoes, when the jolly Jack Tar got his
share of the prize-money, and, leave being granted, incontinently
went off to squander it among his friends. There is a story of one
such British sailor who entered the Bank of England with a warrant for
twenty pounds, and exclaimed to the amused and amazed clerk:--"That
will bother you, I reckon, mate; but never mind, if you haven't got the
whole of the money in hand I'll take half of it now, and call for the
rest another time, when it suits you."

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE EAST INDIA DOCKS.]

From the lower portion of the Pool the river assumes wayward and
eccentric habits, broadening and curving, and looking at every turn,
when the tide is in, like a long chain of lakes. There is abundance of
motion, and the freest wash of water, for the wind has large surfaces
on which to play; and, also, the Thames is perpetually churned into
long sweeping billows by the wheels of steamers passing to and fro.
Henceforward every moderately straight portion of the river assumes the
name of Reach, the meaning of which is obvious enough. There is first
Limehouse Reach, then Greenwich Reach, and Blackwall Reach, and Bugsby
Reach, and Woolwich Reach, and so onward to the magnificent reach
at Gravesend. It is a devious course that is pursued by the vessels
making their way down the Thames, but one which is full of perpetually
varying interest, of ever-changing effects, of keen delight and breezy
sensation to him who has the faculty of observing other things besides
the muddiness of the Thames water.

Writing of this part of the river, Defoe describes grim sights in his
"Journal of the Plague." He says of some of those who were terrified
for their lives, that "they had recourse to ships for their retreat....
Where they did so, they had certainly the safest retreat of any people
whatsoever; but the distress was such that people ran on board without
bread to eat, and some into ships that had no men on board to remove
them farther off, or to take the boat and go down the river to buy
provisions where it might be safely done; and these often suffered and
were infected as much on board as on shore. As the richer sort got
into ships, so the lower rank got into hoys, smacks, lighters, and
fishing-boats; and many, especially watermen, lay in their boats; but
those made sad work of it, especially the latter, for, going about for
provision, and perhaps to get their subsistence, the infection got in
among them and made fearful havock. Many of the watermen died alone
in their wherries, as they rid at their roads, and were not found
till they were in no condition for anybody to touch, or come near
them." A grim picture of a weird imagination! Is it possible to form
a conception of anything more awful than these boats, floating up and
down with the tide, unnoticed, masterless, unowned, with their dreadful
burden of bodies dead of the Plague?

The Isle of Dogs is only an island because it is cut across by the
entrances to the East and West India Docks. It is a vast space of
dock property, hidden behind devious streets and towering wharves.
Originally it was "the Isle of Ducks," the ducks to which allusion
was made having a vast swamp to wade and flounder in, and a solitude
peculiarly their own. Considerably less than a century, however, has
sufficed to change the whole aspect of the place. Where the ducks
disported themselves are now situated the East and West India and the
Millwall Docks. Originally an attempt was made to construct a shorter
course for vessels passing up and down the Thames. A new passage was
made straight through the peninsula, where the West India Dock is now
situated, but this, like the Thames Tunnel, proved to be a sad failure,
vessels maintaining their course round "the unlucky Isle of Dogges,"
just as they did in Pepys' time. Round the long curve, engineering
and ship-building yards have arisen, with houses of workmen attached
thereto. The isle is populous, and dismal; and he would be a shrewd
observer who should guess that it had not been built on till shortly
after the century began.

One of the illustrations accompanying this narrative (page 313)
represents a bend of the river at Millwall. It conveys, with much
completeness, an idea of the character of the banks. Near by, a little
further up the river, is the entrance to Millwall Docks. The name
arises from the fact that, in former days, the only buildings on the
Isle of Dogs were windmills. One of them was left till quite recent
years, a quaint Dutch-looking structure, built very solid, to resist
the high winds that blew unimpeded over the dismal peninsula, which
even the ducks had abandoned.

[Illustration: THE WEST INDIA DOCKS.]

A little lower down the river there were erstwhile landmarks of another
sort. Gaunt gibbet-posts stood along the shore, with bones of pirates
bleaching upon them, and music of creaking chains. A reminiscence
of this variety of ancient Thames scenery survives in the name of
Execution Dock, which designation is only less repellant than another
favourite place-name of the same period--Hanging Ditch, to wit.

The docks at Millwall are chiefly employed by steamers of large tonnage
trading between London and the various European and American ports.
Great bands of emigrants set out from here to the New World, and as
their ships swing into the river there is much signalling to friends on
shore and much pathetic leave-taking on the decks.

[Illustration: MILLWALL DOCKS.]

The docks are two, joined by a bridge, and a tonnage of more than
1,000,000, "gross register," passes in and out annually. Ready access
to the railways is to be found at Millwall, but many of the vessels
unload into dumb-barges, which swarm all over the Millwall waters, one
man on board each barge, propelling his craft with a pole, and seeming
to take his labour like a light recreation, and as if there were not
the slightest need for hurry in all the world. These dumb-barges,
sluggish and unwieldy, it is the common habit to denounce as one of
the nuisances of the Thames. They float upward or downward with the
tide; they are now "end on" across the river, floating sideways, and
now lazily making a tolerably straight course; they get in the way of
passing steamers, and are indescribably slow in getting out again.
The single man on board seems to be influenced by the habit of the
craft which he controls. He steadfastly declines to regard himself
as an inconvenience, and if the tide drifts him into the middle of
the stream he makes no haste to leave a clear course again, but prods
slowly away with his long pole, utterly careless of mankind, and with
an indifference to oath and objurgation which is positively sublime.

[Illustration: MILLWALL.]

Compared to those at Millwall, the East and West India Docks,
stretching right across the neck of the peninsula, and making an island
of it in fact as well as in name, are of really gigantic dimensions. A
few years ago it was possible to declare, with a fair amount of truth,
that the West India Docks were the largest in the world. From the land
side they are approached by Commercial Road, the smaller of the two
great highways which are the main arteries of East London. At the first
glance the unsuspecting stranger might easily be led into supposing
that he had come suddenly upon an important series of fortifications.
The stone archway, crowned by a stumpy tower, which forms the entrance,
is impressively massive, and even forbidding; the surrounding walls
are very high, and seem to frown down a not unnatural curiosity to
penetrate their secret; there is also a ditch which suggests a moat,
and which looks as if the constructors had contemplated the possibility
of having some day to cut off all communication with the docks
otherwise than by water. Altogether, the West India Docks convey the
impression that they are carefully guarded and somewhat mysterious,
so that the nervous stranger within their gates traverses them not
without fear and trembling, and is apt to become alarmed lest he should
inadvertently trespass beyond his scanty privileges.

And from the Thames, also, the West India Docks look important and
imposing, the tall warehouses rising as high as the masts of the
vessels which break the regularity of their fronts, thus forming one of
the most striking objects of the north shore. Of all the docks on the
river, none is so likely to convey a concrete idea of the vastness of
our trade, of the manner in which British intelligence and enterprise
draw to the heart of London the spoils of the whole world. "I would
say to the intelligent foreigner," exclaims one lively writer on
the subject, "look around and see the glory of England! Not in huge
armies bristling with bayonets, and followed by monstrous guns; not
in granite forts, grinning from the waters like ghouls from graves;
not in lines of circumvallation, miles and miles in extent; not in
earthworks, counterscarps, bastions, ravelins, mamelons, casemates,
and gunpowder magazines, lies our pride and our strength. Behold them
in yonder forests of masts, in the flags of every nation that fly from
those tapering spars on the ships, in the great argosies of commerce
that from every port in the world have congregated to do honour to the
monarch of marts, London, and pour out the riches of the universe at
her proud feet."

It is impossible in any brief description to give more than a general
idea of the extent of accommodation for commerce provided by the
warehouses, sheds, and cellars of the West India Docks. The rum shed
alone, with cellars corresponding in size, covers a space of 200,000
square feet. In one building vast quantities of tea are stored, in
another, innumerable bags of fragrant coffee; here are sheds full of
solid blocks of mahogany, yonder are bags of indigo, boxes of fruit,
bales of cotton, bundles of hides, and sacks of tallow. The average
number of vessels lying at one time in the East and West India Docks is
215, all ships of large tonnage. The Dock Company keeps 2,500 persons
in regular employment for the loading and unloading of ships, and
employs as casual labourers nearly 3,000 men besides.

The London dock labourer, to whom of late much public sympathy has been
extended, is of two classes. The regular labourer, since the great
strike, has been fairly well paid for an unskilled artisan, and is
assured of constant employment. The casual labourer, with whom in many
cases hard work is a new experience, is in a very different case. The
starving and the outcast of all classes, to whom the whole of London
holds out no other prospect of employment, stream down as a last resort
to the Isle of Dogs, a sort of "going to the dogs" which is very grimly
real. In some cases, when additional labourers are wanted, handfuls of
tickets are thrown out among the eager and struggling crowd, and he who
is fortunate enough in the scramble to secure one of these is provided
with half a day's labour; in others, a foreman stationed at the gates
secures the men he desires by scanning the throng and pointing to one
and to another who seems most capable of hard labour, or in most need.
It is a sad, a distressingly pathetic sight, this almost fiendish
struggle for a few hours' work; and amongst those who engage in it
are men of fair birth, of good education, of proved ability, but of
irretrievably fallen fortunes, and with characters irrecoverably lost.

When the India merchants created the West India Docks they had a
capital of half a million pounds sterling. Enormous is the capital
that has now been sunk on the estate. At one time, when the owners had
made a larger profit than they were permitted by Act of Parliament to
divide, they bought a quantity of copper and roofed their warehouses
with that expensive material. The wharves, warehouses, and quays have
now a storage capacity of over 170,000 tons; in the cellars 14,000
sheep can be stored; the weekly wages paid at the West India Docks
alone amount to £5,000; the revenue of the company owning them is close
on £400,000 a year. Then there are the East India Docks beside--the
docks that are sung about in fo'castle songs, that are haunted by the
wives and sweethearts of sailors on the look-out for the good ship that
is homeward bound, that are dreamed of by Jack Tar when he is thousands
of miles away on the sea.

"Why?" asked Mr. W. Clark Russell, "are the East India Docks the most
popular of all docks among sailors?" "There are two reasons," was
the reply. "Until the Victoria Dock was opened these docks were the
lowest down the river. They were consequently the first at which a ship
arrived on her return home. The East India Dock was always so popular,
owing to its convenience, compactness, and management, that, whenever
there was room, and arrangements would admit, ships entered it. The
advantage was great to the sailor. Once on shore, he had nothing to do
but jump into the train on the pier-head and be off. Another reason
was, the East India Dock was the home of the emigrant ship; and as it
was the first place where Jack met his Polly, so it was the last place
in which he bade her farewell and took his glass of grog."

Along the bank of the Thames, opposite to the Isle of Dogs, lie, making
a long semicircle of streets, the twin towns of Deptford and Greenwich.
Behind them rise the Kentish hills, dark with trees, among which the
shadows seem continually to sleep. Deptford is redolent of historic
memories. Its old church, with embattled tower, easily perceived
from the river, contains the bones of Captain Edward Fenton, one of
Frobisher's companions; Drake was knighted here, on board his own ship,
by that unmarried queen who so appropriately ruled our country in the
most adventurous period of English history. Here, Peter the Great came
to learn ship-building, residing at Sayes Court, the house of the
precise John Evelyn, who complains grievously of the semi-barbarian
monarch who broke down his hedges, and filled his house with "people
right nasty." Master Samuel Pepys, Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, was
necessarily a more frequent visitor to Deptford, and he records, very
early in his famous Diary, how he repaired to Deptford after sermon,
"where," he says, "at the Commissioner's and the Globe we staid long;
but no sooner in bed but we had an alarm, and so we rose; and the
Comptroller comes into the Yard to us; and seamen of all the present
ships repair to us, and there we armed with every one a handspike, with
which they were as fierce as could be. At last we hear that it was
five or six men who did ride through the guard in the towne, without
stopping to the guard that was there, and, some say, shot at them; but
all being quiet there, we caused the seamen to go on board again."

Up to quite recent years Deptford was famous for its dockyard,
established by Henry VIII., and employed in the construction of
vessels of war through the greater part of three centuries. The site
is occupied by a dockyard no longer; convicts are no more brought to
labour in gangs on the construction of men-of-war; there is no sound of
hammers, nor any shouting of overseers; the keel of no mighty ship is
being laid; the greatness of Deptford has departed with the era of our
wooden walls.

But as Deptford has lost its importance in our naval system it has
become one of the centres of our trade. Facing the river, like the
vanished dockyard, and occupying a portion of its former site,
is the great collection of buildings known as the Foreign Cattle
Market. All cattle landed in London from abroad are brought here to
be slaughtered, and in the vast shambles, which no person of nice
tastes should think of visiting, beasts are being killed and dressed
and quartered from morning to night, with an expedition which strikes
the beholder as something unnatural and amazing. From Deptford, it is
probable, proceeds the greater portion of London's meat supply, and
even Smithfield gives a less striking idea of the vast capacity of
Englishmen for the consumption of animal food than do the Deptford
shambles.

Near the point to which we have now come the Ravensbourne enters the
Thames, and with it the first black instalment of the sewage of London.
The little river rises on Keston Heath, and flows sweetly through a
lovely country, wandering, as a poet has sung--

                "In Hayes and Bromley, Beckingham Vale
    And straggling Lewisham, to where Deptford Bridge
    Uprises in obedience to the flood."

On the bridge stands the boundary stone which marks the extremity of
Surrey and the beginning of Kent, and just beyond it, a little nearer
to the Thames, are stationed, above ground, one of the sewage pumping
stations of the London County Council, and, below, the point of meeting
of some of the principal sewers of southeast London.

Before us when we return to the river lies Greenwich Reach, broad and
beautiful, uncrowded by shipping, with curious half-wooden houses
on our right, with shoals of boats drawn up on the shore with the
magnificent front of Greenwich Hospital reflecting itself in the
waters. On the high bank above the landing-stage there is an obelisk
erected to Belot, the Arctic explorer, unimpressive and meagre enough
in itself, but beautiful as a tribute of praise from Englishmen to a
daring sailor of another, and, for many centuries, a hostile nation.

At Greenwich we are enjoined to

    "Kneel and kiss the consecrated earth."

It was the hospital which was thus alluded to as the means of
consecration, but the glorious building is not a hospital any more.
The fine old sea-dogs who used to find shelter here, and narrate to
each other the story of their adventures on all the seas of the world,
preferred fourteen shillings a week and their pension outside the walls
to the liberal rations and the small allowance of money to which they
were entitled by their residence indoors; so the place famous to all
Englishmen through many generations has become a Royal Naval College,
where young officers and engineers are trained in the technical and
scientific branches of their work.

The site is one of the most illustrious to be found within the
sea-washed borders of the British Isles. Here did the first of those
who "dined with Duke Humphrey" come to carouse, for here Humphrey,
Duke of Gloucester, had a manor-house, which he rebuilt and embattled,
enclosing what is now known as Greenwich Park. Humphrey's choice of a
site for his residence was approved by many an English king, for Edward
IV. finished and beautified the Duke of Gloucester's palace; Henry VII.
made it his favourite residence; Henry VIII., his brother, the Duke of
Somerset, the Queens Mary and Elizabeth, were born within its walls;
there the young King Edward died, and, a few days before his death,
was lifted up to the windows by his courtiers, that his clamorous
people might perceive him to be still living. Greenwich Palace was
to Queen Elizabeth what Osborne is to Queen Victoria; James I. was
wont to escape to it from London; the unfortunate Charles made it his
home; and when his son, who "never said a foolish thing and never did
a wise one," came to his throne, he determined to build at Greenwich
the finest royal palace England had ever had. "To Greenwich by water,"
writes Pepys, "and there landed at the King's House, which goes on
slow, but is very pretty.... Away to the king and back again with him
to the barge, hearing him and the duke talk, and seeing and observing
their manner of discourse. And good Lord forgive me, though I admire
them with all the duty possible, yet the more a man considers and
observes them, the less he finds of difference between them and other
men."

The building which Pepys had seen in course of erection, occupying the
ancient site of "the Manor of Pleasaunce," as the palace at Greenwich
was wont to be called, owes its present magnificence to the genius
of Wren, and its dedication to the purposes of a naval hospital to
the humanity of the Consort of William III. "Had the king's life been
prolonged till the works were completed," writes Macaulay, "a statue
of her who was the real foundress of the institution would have had
a conspicuous place in that court which presents two lofty domes and
two graceful colonnades to the multitudes who are perpetually passing
up and down the imperial river. But that part of the plan was never
carried into effect; and few of those who now gaze on the noblest of
European hospitals are aware that it is a memorial of the virtues of
the good Queen Mary, of the love and sorrow of William, and of the
great victory of La Hogue."

[Illustration: GREENWICH HOSPITAL.]

[Illustration: VIEW FROM GREENWICH PARK.]

The battle of La Hogue was fought on the 24th of May, 1692. It
concluded a "great conflict which had raged during five days over a
wide extent of sea and shore." The English had gained no such victory
over the French for centuries, and England, in spite of much popular
sympathy with James, in whose interest our ancient enemies had planned
the invasion of our country, went wild with enthusiasm. Many of the
wounded were brought to London and lodged in the hospitals of St.
Thomas and St. Bartholomew, and it was shortly afterwards announced
by the queen, in her husband's name, that the building commenced by
Charles should be completed as a retreat for seamen disabled in the
service of their country. However, as Mr. Ruskin observes in reference
to the crown of wild olive, "Jupiter was poor." Little progress was
made with the new hospital during Queen Mary's life, but on her decease
her husband resolved to make it her monument. The inscription on the
frieze of the hall gives to the queen all the honour of the great
design; and though the hospital has now been diverted to other uses,
the memory of what it once was can never perish, and the grand edifice
will remain to Englishmen for ever

    "The noblest structure imaged on the wave,
    A nation's grateful tribute to the brave."

Wren's subject seems to have inspired his higher genius, and none of
his works, not even St. Paul's, is a worthier memorial of his powers.

It was Charles II. who planted the trees of Greenwich Park, now
remarkable for their great size and nobleness. From the crown of
the steep ascent on which the Observatory stands, once the site of
"Duke Humphrey's Tower," there spreads before the observer one of the
broadest and most impressive prospects to be encountered anywhere round
about London. Far down below lie, first, the Naval School, and then the
two great wings of the hospital, each lifting its beautiful dome aloft
into the blue of the sky; in front, the eye wanders, over the Albert
and Victoria Docks, to the valleys of the Lea and the Roding; to the
left, the river, broader than at any previous portion of its course,
bends suddenly round the Isle of Dogs, beyond which lies London, dim
and distant, its white towers and spires gleaming out of the haze, its
great cross of St. Paul's glittering in the sunlight; to the right, the
Thames--laden with ships, alive with barges--flows on, a wide shining
space of water, past ship-building yards, and warehouses, and dry
docks, until it loses itself in the grey distance of the Kent and Essex
marshes.

Where the Lea--Walton's river--after flowing through Bedfordshire, by
pleasant Hertford, on to Enfield, and Edmonton, and Bow, ends in an
estuary of unfathomable mud, and joins the Thames at Blackwall, we are
near to the entrance of the Victoria Docks.

At Blackwall, docks were being constructed in Pepys' day, and he makes
this curious entry in his Diary:--"1665, Sept. 22nd. At Blackwall,
there is observable what Johnson tells us, that, in digging a late
Docke, they did twelve feet underground find perfect trees over-covered
with earth. Nut trees, with the branches and the very nuts upon them;
some of whose nuts he showed us. Their shells black with age, and their
kernell, upon opening, decayed, but their shell perfectly hard as ever.
And a yew tree (upon which the very ivy was taken up whole about it),
which, upon cutting with an addes, we found to be rather harder than
the living tree usually is." Similar curiosities, it is probable,
lie waiting for discovery all along the Thames shore; and at the "New
Falcon" at Gravesend there is a perfect specimen of moss, with still
just a tint of green remaining in its fronds, which has been dug up
from many feet below the surface at Tilbury.

[Illustration: THE ALBERT DOCKS.]

Far down the river the docks are spreading--growing longer, and deeper,
and roomier with the necessities of our trade. From the entrance to
Victoria Dock at Blackwall to that of the Albert Dock at North Woolwich
is a distance of more than three miles. The Albert Dock itself is a
long, straight expanse of two miles of water, lined on either side
by great ocean steamers lying stem to stern. It is always resounding
with the "Yo, heave oh!" of sailors, the shouts of bargemen, the cries
of dock labourers, the screaming and panting of steam-cranes, the
exclamations of bewildered passengers on the look-out for the vessel
which is to bear them over seas. Up the River Thames every year there
makes its way a vast fleet of 6,000 steamers and 5,000 sailing vessels,
with an aggregate of 6,000,000 tons burden. To one who desires to
understand clearly what life, and excitement, and perpetual going and
coming this entails, there could be no more stirring or instructive
sight than the Victoria and Albert Docks. Some of the great steamers
are like floating streets, almost as populous, with rooms like palaces,
and decks as clean as village hearthstones. From gigantic port-holes
strange wild faces and turbaned heads look out; the quays swarm with
coolies in blue and white tunics, with negroes in cast-off garments
from Wapping, with Chinamen in curious pointed shoes, and pigtails
neatly tied up for convenience. Above decks the officers may be heard
giving their orders in Hindostanee; the red-turbaned sailors speak to
their mates in unknown tongues; the howl with which a rope is hauled in
or a bale is lowered is not unlike the cry of tigers in the jungle.

[Illustration: WOOLWICH REACH.]

The Victoria Dock is very roomy, and comparatively quiet. It is a
series of great basins, with surrounding quays and projecting jetties.
Here are vast tobacco warehouses, and coal-sidings, and cellars for
frozen meat. Not many passengers come to or depart from Victoria Dock,
which is used chiefly by cargo steamers, bringing for the consumption
of Englishmen every variety of foreign produce. The tobacco warehouses
are one of the sights of dock-side London. They contain as much
tobacco, in bales of raw leaf, as would seem to be a sufficient supply,
not for England alone, but for the whole world, for many years to come.
The refrigerating chambers, spreading far underground, and designed
for the reception of frozen meat from Australia, New Zealand, the
River Plate, and Russia, provide accommodation for no less than 60,000
carcases. At the Victoria Dock are now located the furnace and chimney
which jointly make up "the Queen's Pipe." Here, also, are landed many
of the cattle which are slaughtered on the other side of the river, at
Deptford.

The Royal Albert Dock was opened for traffic no longer ago than the
year 1880. It is used by the great lines of passenger steamers--the
Peninsular and Oriental, the British India, the Orient, the Star, and
a score of others. Immense sheds run alongside the quay, capable of
storing a prodigious number of cargoes, and a vessel may be unloaded
and loaded in the course of a few hours. In the centre of the basin
there is a movable crane, which will take up a waggon containing twenty
tons of coal, and empty it in a few seconds into the hold of a ship.
The Royal Albert is at once the most pleasant and the most exciting of
all the docks of London. From the quays, it looks like part of a great
river unusually busy with ships. There is no cessation of activity
from the dawn of the day until dark. By one tide a great steamer is
departing for Australia, by another for Calcutta or Bombay. It is no
unusual thing to find that five or six great ocean steamships are timed
to leave the dock on a single day, to sail for ports so widely divided
as Sydney, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Port Natal, Japan, and the River Plate.
So important, indeed, has become the traffic of the Albert Dock that it
has become necessary to make for it a new inlet from the Thames.

Between the river and these gigantic docks lies the little colony
of Silvertown, still looking new and clean, so recently has it been
founded on the verge of the Essex marshes. Originally the Messrs.
Silver commenced a rubber manufactory here, and, finding how far they
were from the centres of population, had to build rows of cottages
for their workpeople. Silvertown is now renowned for its electrical
engineers, and has become quite a busy and prosperous centre of
industry.

But in reaching Silvertown we have almost missed the fine sweep of
Woolwich Reach, which is just as long as the Albert Dock, and is one of
the most beautiful stretches of the Thames. When night has settled down
upon the river, and the moon makes "a lane of beams" along the slowly
heaving water, and the lights burning on the misty banks tremulously
reflect themselves in broken pillars of flame, Woolwich Reach, with
its level shores, and its indications of great activities in temporary
repose, is in itself sufficient to relieve the Lower Thames of the
common and vulgar reproach that it lacks beauty. There is a quiet,
solemn, lapping of the waters; barges at rest, sailing ships at anchor,
a yacht lying here and there, break the line of the sky with their
tapering masts and their sails partially furled; a belated steam-tug
pants upward, with asthmatic breath, and from either shore comes the
dull regular throb of half-suspended life. The Lower Thames is never
so imposing as in the night-time, when the moon is pouring down long
streaks of light on the throbbing waters, and even the brown piles of
the river bank seem tinged with gold.

The three prominent objects on the Woolwich side are the barracks, the
dockyard, and the arsenal. Not that the arsenal can be said to be very
prominent, either, for it lies by the side of the river like a low line
of sheds, very bare and poor-looking, very disappointing, very unlike
what one would expect the chief arsenal of England to be. The barracks
alone relieve Woolwich from monotony. They rise high above the town,
with their great central quadrangle, and its four spires, looking not
unlike an enlargement of the Tower of London. Not far away rises the
square tower of Woolwich Church, with a populous graveyard beneath,
climbing over the summit of a hill. The houses of Woolwich rise above
each other like irregular terraces, for here the land is more abrupt
and uneven than elsewhere on Thames-side, as if it were asserting
itself before it came to the dead level of the neighbouring marshes.

The once-famous dockyard, closed in 1869, is represented by great,
empty, stone spaces, sloping to the river, and a pair of large,
singular-looking sheds, stored full of gun-carriages and implements
of war. Looking on it nowadays, it is hard to believe that up to
comparatively recent years it was employed in the construction of
our navy. No hammers resound there now, and the dockyard, silent and
sleeping, might well be the type of an age of national amity and
absolute peace.

[Illustration: WOOLWICH ARSENAL.]

But not so with the arsenal, which is busy night and day in forging the
bolts of war. A while ago a shower of military rockets burst upwards
from this busy centre of martial industry, spreading some ruin and
much consternation throughout the towns of North and South Woolwich,
scattering to right and to left, and penetrating the walls of houses
situated a mile or so from the opposite bank of the Thames. Such
accidents are always possible, despite the extremest care, and Woolwich
sleeps, like Naples, in more or less constant fear of eruption. The
choice of the place as a site for the Royal Arsenal was brought about
by the discovery there of a kind of sand peculiarly adapted for fine
castings, a fact which may help to explain the derivation of the name
from Wule-wich, "the village in the bay." On the opposite side of the
river, under the shadow of the trees which line the banks below North
Woolwich Pier, elephants may occasionally be seen wandering, as calmly
as if this were their natural habitat, for here are the North Woolwich
Gardens, where, as at Rosherville, lower down the river, the folk of
East London come now and then to "spend a happy day."

[Illustration: WOOLWICH.]

Off Woolwich, lies the _Warspite_, a noble example of those English
frigates which did good service when England was still defended by
its wooden walls. And the _Warspite_, which was formerly known as
the _Conqueror_, is doing extremely good service now, for it is the
training-ship of the Marine Society, which, at the suggestion of Jonas
Hanway, the first Englishman who had the courage to carry an umbrella,
was formed in 1772 for the purpose of equipping wretched and neglected
boys for the sea. Since that date 60,000 boys, none of them criminals,
but many in great danger of falling into crime, have passed through
the Society's hands, and have started life with honest purposes. A
finer looking lot of lads than those who swarm about the decks and
the rigging of the _Warspite_ it would be difficult to find even in
a public school, and it is a proud day for the Marine Society when,
once a year, a _fête_ is celebrated on board the noble old war vessel,
and the boys go through their evolutions in the presence of Royal and
distinguished strangers.

Admiral Luard, who commanded the _Warspite_ whilst it was still called
the _Conqueror_, and carried a thousand sailors and marines, related a
few years ago how narrow an escape it had of going down with all hands.
Overtaken in a typhoon off Sumatra, it lay for many hours on its beam
ends, its hold fast filling with water, and altogether in a condition
so hopeless that all on board gave themselves up for lost. However,
good seamanship and excellent behaviour on the part of the men saved
the vessel to perform its present humane duty, and to endure as a type
and example of the sort of ship which once maintained our supremacy on
all the seas of the world.

[Illustration: PLUMSTEAD.]

Below Woolwich the Thames flows through low-lying lands, flat and
marshy, bounded at the distance of a mile or more by thickly-wooded
hills, at the feet of which nestle here and there grey church towers,
and little red villages, and occasional small towns. Looking down over
Plumstead, which is a singularly prosaic place in a remarkable fine
situation, the river is a mere thin streak, running between artificial
banks, like those of a Dutch canal. Over the green marshland below
us the river was once wont to spread itself like a great inland sea;
and at various periods, since stout walls were built to confine it to
a reasonable course, it has burst open its barriers and flooded the
country for mile on mile. In this manner was created Dagenham Breach,
where the river wall now encloses Dagenham Lake, famous for its bream
fishing. On the Plumstead side the river wall was broken down in Queen
Elizabeth's reign, and repaired at tremendous cost. Dagenham Breach,
on the opposite shore, between where the River Roding and Raynham
Creek open on the Thames, was made so late as 1707, when the swollen
river, breaking down its barriers, rushed over 1,000 acres of land, and
carried 120 acres into the stream. The land swept away made a sand-bank
a mile in length, and stretching half-way across the river. The damage
was afterwards repaired by Captain Perry, who had been engineer to
Peter the Great, and who was voted £15,000 for an undertaking which had
cost him £40,472 18s. 8-3/4 d.

The land enclosed by the Thames' walls is mainly waste, but has a
quiet, singular beauty, which would be more appreciated, doubtless, but
for the fact that here, on either bank, London pours its two immense
streams of sewage into the river. Where the Plumstead and the Erith
marshes join each other, there may be seen at low tide a couple of
culverts, from which issue, twice a day, two thick, black, poisonous
streams. Just above them there is a substantial pier, and further
back, a large white building with a tall chimney, beside which the
Nelson column would seem to be dwarfed. Further back still, surrounding
a covered reservoir, there is a quadrangle of small, neat houses,
occupied by some of the workpeople of the London County Council. These
are the sewage works at Cross Ness. They are surrounded by gardens,
inside which the ground rises abruptly to the height of the dykes. All
around seems clean and pleasant, but underneath, built on arches of the
Roman aqueduct pattern, there is a huge reservoir, which receives most
of the sewage of the south side of the Thames. The large white building
which was first discernible is the pumping station, where there are
four great engines capable of lifting 120,000,000 gallons of sewage in
the twenty-four hours. For sixteen hours each day the sewage is being
pumped up from low-lying culverts into the reservoir; for four hours
at each tide it is being liberated into the Thames, which thereafter,
for some miles, becomes a pestilential river, bearing its dark and
unwholesome burden up and down and round about with every tide.

One might stand on the quiet Plumstead marshes and suspect nothing
whatever of all this. From thence the river is made invisible by its
dyke; but one observes, with an interest not unmixed with wonder, the
funnel of a steamer skirting along the level landscape, or the rich
brown sail of a Thames barge, or the bellying canvas of one of those
sailing-vessels which, to the number of 5,000 annually, still make use
of the port of the Thames.

The larger sewer works of what is called the Northern Outfall are
situated on the opposite side of the river, at Barking, where there
still remains a relic of the once famous Barking Abbey--the ancient
curfew tower, from which the inhabitants were wont to be warned to
extinguish their fires. Barking Abbey, which was a foundation of the
Benedictine order, dates back to the year 670, and was the first
convent for women in England. It originated with the Saxon saint,
Erkenwald, Bishop of London, whose sister, Ethelburgha, was its first
abbess. This lady made the convent, so renowned that two queens--the
wives of Henry I. and of King Stephen--thought it an honour to be
appointed to the office which so distinguished a woman had held. All
the abbesses of Barking were baronesses in their own right, and took
precedence of all abbesses in England. The last of the long line was
Dorothy Barley, who was compelled to surrender the abbey to "Bluff
King Hal" in 1539. The abbey church stood just outside the present
churchyard, and was 170 feet long, with a transept of 150 feet. The
curfew tower is the old gate of the outer court, and the room, of which
the window is shown in the engraving on the next page, was anciently
the chapel of the Holy Rood. In the near neighbourhood is the house
from which Lord Monteagle carried to the king a warning not to attend
the Houses of Parliament on the day fixed for the carrying out of the
Gunpowder Plot.

[Illustration: DAGENHAM MARSHES.]

In Barking--sometimes called Tripcock--Reach we are afloat on a tide
of sewage. It discolours the water all around; it is sometimes churned
up by the wheels of the paddle-steamers; the odour of it assails the
nostrils at every turn; and yet Barking Reach is, with this exception,
an altogether delightful place on a spring or summer day, all the
more delightful if the day is one which follows upon or precedes a
day of rain; for the sky should be full of grey clouds and capricious
light to do justice to the landscape below Barking Reach. Fortunately,
even a vast burden of sewage, the refuse of the mightiest city in the
world, cannot destroy the natural beauty of the river. By Erith and
at Greenhithe it beslimes the low, muddy flats left exposed by the
receding tide; but out in the centre of the Thames how can it avail
against the influence of wind, and cloud, and sunlight? The river
smiles and sparkles, and reflects grey cloud and blue sky, just as if
it had no secrets to hide; and over the flat meadow-lands the shadows
chase each other like happy children at play. Steamers, barges,
sailing-vessels, coming and going, are almost as frequent here as in
the higher reaches. It is the peculiarity of the Thames that it is
never forsaken, or solitary, or at rest.

[Illustration: BARKING ABBEY.]

On either bank, unsuspected by the chance excursionist, are frequent
powder magazines, which are a sort of introduction to Purfleet, where
there is such a store of explosives as, if they were fired, would shake
London to its centre, and possibly to its foundations. At Purfleet, by
the way, the river banks vary their monotony by rising up sheer and
white, in modest imitation of the chalk cliffs of Folkestone and Dover.
As we proceed further down the river the smell of chalk-burning will
taint the air somewhat disagreeably, and great white clouds of smoke
will fly in our faces and almost hide the sky.

Purfleet is a pretty and interesting town, notwithstanding the uses
to which it has been put, and the danger there must always be in
living there. The chalk hills are crowned with pleasant woods, and
over the river one looks across Greenhithe to the Kentish hills. Of
the country in that direction Cobbett, writing his "Rural Rides," had
only a disparaging account to give. "The surface is ugly by nature,"
he said, "to which ugliness there has just been made a considerable
addition by the enclosure of a common, and by the sticking up of some
shabby-genteel houses, surrounded with dead fences and things called
gardens, in all manner of ridiculous forms, making, all together, the
bricks, hurdle-gates, and earth say, as plainly as they can speak,
'Here dwell Vanity and Poverty.'" But Cobbett was by preference unjust,
and the little grey houses, each with its own circle of trees, are an
essential portion of the charm of these riverside landscapes, which,
else, would look dead and solitary.

[Illustration: BARKING REACH.]

Off Purfleet, on one of whose chalky cliffs the standard of England was
unfolded when the Spanish Armada threatened our liberties, lies the
reformatory training-ship _Cornwall_, once known as the _Wellesley_,
the flagship of the brave and adventurous Lord Dundonald. These
handsome old hulks, some of them used as reformatories, some of them
as training-ships for boys who have been rescued from poverty, and
one large group as a fever and small-pox hospital, are very frequent
between Erith and Northfleet, and greatly increase the interest of a
voyage down the Thames. Off Greenhithe, a famous yachting centre, the
_Arethusa_ and the _Chichester_ lie moored; at Gray's Thurrock, on the
opposite side of the river, lie the _Exmouth_ and the _Shaftesbury_,
the latter being the vessel which has been found so costly by the
London School Board.

The good-looking town of Erith faces the river just above Purfleet,
half-surrounded in the summer months by a fleet of small yachts at
anchor; and, just below, the Rivers Cray and Darent, making a clear
fork of shining water, meet together and flow as one stream into the
Thames. "Long Reach" Tavern, a quaint, solitary place, once much
frequented in the old prize-fighting, cockfighting days, by persons who
are usually spoken of as belonging to "the sporting fraternity," stands
on the flat muddy ground of this estuary of the conjoined rivers; and
from this point the River Thames bends inland towards Dartford, again
taking a new direction at Ingress Abbey, where Alderman Harmer once
lived, in a house built out of the stones of old London Bridge.

[Illustration: AT PURFLEET.]

Around Ingress Abbey lies the village of Greenhithe, another yachting
station, with forty feet of water at the end of the pier at low
tide. Stone Church, said to have been designed by the architect of
Westminster Abbey, and beautiful and elaborate enough in some parts of
it to suggest close kinship with that great edifice, stands on a proud
eminence above the village, and is visible for miles around.

At Greenhithe the cement works commence, and extend themselves to
Northfleet, which is a town perpetually enveloped in a cloud of white
smoke, floating over the river in great wreaths, so that Tilbury and
Gravesend, lying only a brief distance away, are in some states of
weather completely hidden from sight until Northfleet has been passed.

To Tilbury is now to fall the often forfeited glory of containing
the largest docks in the world. The heavy traffic of the Thames is
gradually being arrested at a lower portion of the river. "One thing
hangs upon another," remarks a recent writer, "and just as Tenterden
Steeple is accountable for Goodwin Sands, so the Suez Canal is
responsible for the Albert Dock, and for those that are being made
at Tilbury. The long, weight-carrying iron screws that are built to
run through the canal are not adapted for the turnings and windings
of Father Thames in the higher reaches, and so, after the fashion of
Mahomet, the docks now are sliding down the river to the ships instead
of the ships coming up the river to the docks." Thus it happened that
some years ago the population of Gravesend began to be increased
by immense gangs of navvies, builders, and masons, who during the
day-time were engaged on the Tilbury side of the river in digging vast
trenches, building huge walls, and scooping out of the peat and clay
accommodation for the merchant navy of England.

[Illustration: ERITH PIER.]

The new docks at Tilbury are the property of the East and West India
Dock Company, which is forestalling competition by thus competing with
itself. They are being dug out of what has for centuries been a great
muddy waste. An army of nearly 3,000 labourers has been employed on the
excavations. When the docks are completed eight large steamers will be
able to take in coal at one time; the largest vessels built will be
able to enter the gates with ease; there will be wharves and warehouses
capable of accommodating no inconsiderable portion of the entire trade
of the Thames. Branch lines of railway will run along the wharves, and
be connected with each warehouse. The main dock occupies fifty-three
acres of ground. The jetties surrounding the basins will be forty-five
feet wide. At Tilbury, it is probable, the great work of furnishing
dock accommodation for the shipping using the Thames will be finally
brought to an end. It is all but impossible to imagine that the time
will ever arrive when the Albert, and Victoria, and Tilbury, and East
and West India Docks, will be too small for the demands of a trade
almost inconceivably greater than that which passes through the Port of
London now.

[Illustration: TILBURY FORT.]

The proximity of this prodigious undertaking has driven away much
of the solitariness which, for some centuries past, has hung around
Tilbury Fort. That renowned but practically valueless fortification is
best known through the popular engraving after Clarkson Stanfield's
picture. That artist, however, has used a painter's license to the
full. He has given to Tilbury Fort a massiveness and a dignity to
which it can by no means lay claim. It is, on the contrary, rather
mean-looking, and is only saved from insignificance by its great stone
gateway, which is a sort of loftier Temple Bar.

It was when, in 1539, three strange ships appeared in the Downs,
"none knowing what they were, nor what they intended to do," that the
idea of building a fort at Tilbury arose. Henry VIII., alarmed at
possibilities, built bulwarks and block-houses both at Tilbury and
Gravesend. It is stated, on authority which is somewhat doubtful,
that Queen Elizabeth reviewed her troops at this place when the realm
was threatened by the Spanish Armada, and that here she declared
that she thought it "foul scorn that the Pope or any other foreign
prince should dare to interfere with her." On authority that is still
more than doubtful, she is said to have slept in the one room over
the great gateway. The statement that an Irish regiment, stationed
here just before the abdication of James II., crossed the river and
burnt and pillaged Gravesend, but was afterwards defeated with great
slaughter, is more authentic. At Tilbury Fort, Sheridan has laid the
scene of the burlesque tragedy embodied in _The Critic_, the heroine
of that piece being the Governor's daughter, who went mad in white
satin, to the accompaniment of her faithful friend and companion, who
considered it to be part of her duty to go out of her senses in white
linen, as became the meaner condition of one who was paid to serve.
A great mystery is preserved concerning Tilbury Fort by the military
authorities, and any stray artist found sketching in its neighbourhood
is usually treated as if he were making drawings for the advantage of
the enemies of his country.

And now, having passed the Gardens at Rosherville, ingeniously
constructed out of old chalk-pits, having seen Tilbury old and new,
and having come to the end of this portion of our journey by water,
it is time for us to land at Gravesend, where Hogarth and his merry
companions put up at "Mrs. Bramble's," and, it is probable, took
shrimps and tea. Gravesend, let it be said at once, is rapidly losing
some of its most pleasant features. Coal-staithes and wharves have
invaded the picturesque foreshore. Very dull and depressing is the
entrance to the town, after passing those wonderfully grotesque baths
which were built according to the sham Oriental taste popularised by
George IV., who, as Praed says, was renowned

    "For building carriages and boats,
      And streets, and chapels, and pavilions,
    And regulating all the votes,
      And all the principles, of millions."

"The first gentleman of Europe," it may be confidently stated, never
built a boat half so neat, smart-looking, and handsome as the yachts
which, at the proper season, lie in the river in front of those sham
Oriental baths mentioned above. At Gravesend are to be seen assembled
the finest yachts which frequent the Thames, vessels, some of them
with twelve or fourteen stout sailors to man them, and as clean and
smart-looking as anything to be seen within the whole compass of the
seas.

As becomes one of the oldest ports in the kingdom, Gravesend--it was
called Gravesham in Domesday Book--is a town of narrow streets, of
quaint shops and houses, of old-fashioned inns and close courts and
alleys. The face which it turns to the river is like that of a battered
old sailor--scarred, sun-beaten, weather-worn, but pleasant and honest
withal. As in most seafaring towns, there is one long, cramped street,
in which the houses seem to elbow each other, running, a little back
from the river, almost from end to end! Far as it is removed from the
sea, there is a fine salt-water savour about Gravesend, and it has also
the recommendation of being situated in a pleasant country, for, after
ascending its steep streets and threading here and there a leafy lane,
there bursts upon the sight a glorious stretch of agricultural land,
beautifully uneven, with hills of gentle slope, and occasional patches
of woodland and garden and copse.

Of the history of Gravesend there is little that need be said. James
II. lived here, as Lord High Admiral, when he was Duke of York, and
escaped hence in a girl's clothes when he was flying from his enemies.
On a hill behind the town there stands an old windmill, which is also
a landmark, and which occupies the site of a beacon, the lighting
of which was a call to arms. Aymer de Valence, one of the heroes of
Thackeray's boyhood, and of many thousands of other boys of his period,
founded and endowed a church just outside Gravesend when Edward II. was
king. In 1780 five thousand soldiers were marched here to make a sham
attack on Tilbury Fort, and were handsomely refreshed, _at the expense
of the General_, when they had energetically stormed that fortification
with blank cartridge. About that time, or a little later, there was a
great scheme to make a tunnel under the Thames, between the town and
the fort, which scheme ended in nothing but the formation of a company
which appears to have spent fifteen or sixteen thousand pounds to no
purpose.

[Illustration: GRAVESEND.]

At the present day Gravesend is much resorted to, first for the sake of
Rosherville Gardens, and then for tea and shrimps, for which it has a
reputation quite unique. Sam Weller's pieman could make a beef, mutton,
or "a weal-and-hammer" out of the same festive kitten. The good folk
of Gravesend can serve up shrimps in ways so various, and so tempting,
that it is possible to dine off shrimps alone. At Gravesend, too,
whitebait may be eaten with as much pleasure as at Greenwich, and the
visitor to one of the inns of the place may watch the boatmen fishing
for the whitebait which is shortly to be served up to him hot from the
kitchen.

It is at Gravesend, indeed, that whitebait is now caught in most
profusion. The boatmen pursue the dainty little fish in small open
boats, and take it in long, peak-shaped nets, very small of mesh
and delicate of workmanship. Whitebait first became celebrated in
connection with the British Parliament towards the end of the last
century, when Sir Robert Preston, member for Dover, was in the habit
of asking his friend, Mr. Rose, Secretary of the Treasury, to dine
with him at Dagenham when the session closed. Whitebait must have
been had at Dagenham in plenty, and Mr. Rose made favourable report
of it to Mr. Pitt; so it came about that the Premier was invited to
try the whitebait for himself. Then it was that an annual Ministerial
dinner was organised, the scene of the whitebait banquets changing
from Dagenham to Greenwich, with an occasional dinner at Blackwall.
"Yesterday," says the _Morning Post_ of September 10th, 1835, "the
Cabinet Ministers went down the river in the Ordnance Barges to
Blackwall, to the 'West India' Tavern, to partake of their annual fish
dinner. Covers were laid for thirty-five." And for something like
that number covers still continue to be laid, though the Ministerial
whitebait dinner now depends on the taste of Premiers, and is no longer
_de rigueur_.

[Illustration: AT GRAVESEND.]

The whitebait itself has been almost as much the subject of discussion
as the origin of salmon. Is it the young of herring, or of sprats,
or of fish of many varieties? The question would seem easy enough to
answer, though it can scarcely be said to have been finally answered
even now. The one thing really certain about whitebait is, that it is a
very dainty fish, equally good whether white or "devilled," as grateful
to the palate whether fried in flour or broiled with a little cayenne.
Scientific opinion, after once appearing to be convinced that whitebait
is young shad, now inclines to the conviction that it is the young of
a variety of species. The whitebait itself, however, seems to conspire
in the concealment of its identity. Kept in captivity on one occasion,
it will turn into herring, kept in captivity on another, it becomes
the common sprat. Some specimens, indeed, have been known to assert
themselves as pipe-fish, gobies, and stickleback, so that, though the
whitebait fishermen resolutely assert the individuality of the species,
it will perhaps be on the whole more safe to take sides with the men of
science--and the accomplished cook.

[Illustration: WOOLWICH TO GRAVESEND.]

There is, from some points of view, no more interesting spot on the
Thames than Gravesend Reach. Here, after narrowing for a portion of
its distance, the river spreads out again, and proceeds on a perfectly
straight course to Cliff Creek. Gravesend Reach is three miles and a
half in length, and is usually more populous with shipping than any
other point between the Nore Light Ship and the Pool. All outward
bound ships must take their pilots on board at Gravesend, and so it
frequently occurs that here the last farewells are said and the last
kisses are given. In the Reach, vessels wait for the changing of the
tide, so that at one period of the day it is full of ships with their
sails furled, and, at another, of vessels newly spreading their canvas
to the wind. A breezy, stirring place is Gravesend Reach, enthralling
at all hours and in all weathers, stormy sometimes, sometimes as calm
as a lake on a windless night, but most beautiful on grey, uncertain
days, when the light shivers downward through flying clouds, and breaks
and sparkles on tumbling crests of wave; when the ships at anchor sway
hither and thither on the turbulent waters, and make with their masts
and cordage a continuous and confused movement against the sky; when
the barges coming up from the Medway tear and strain under their canvas
like horses impatient of the bit; when the half-furled sail flaps and
battles in the wind, and the sea-birds, now darting to the water, now
leaping towards the flying clouds, seem to be driven about against
their will. Gravesend Reach, where David Copperfield said adieu to Mr.
Peggotty and Mrs. Gummidge, where little Em'ly waved her last farewell,
where we lost sight of Mr. Micawber and the twins, where so many tears
have been shed, and so many hearts have seemed to be broken! What a
ceaseless current of commerce flows through it, inward to the mightiest
of European cities, outward to every country that the sun shines
on. Whither is bound the vessel that is unfurling its sails yonder?
Whither! To far Cathay, it may be; to obscure ports on the furthermost
verges of the world.

  /Aaron Watson/.



CHAPTER XII.

GRAVESEND TO THE NORE.

    Morning on the Lower Thames--Gravesend--Pilots and Watermen--A
    Severe Code--Tilbury and its Memories--The Marshes--Wild-fowl
    Shooting--Eel Boats--Canvey Island--Hadleigh Castle--Leigh, and the
    Shrimpers--Southend and the Pier--Sailing--Sheerness--The Mouth of
    the Medway--The Dockyard--The Town and its Divisions--The Nore--A
    Vision of Wonder--Shoeburyness--Outward Bound.


The beautiful stretches of the Upper River must always offer an
attraction to men who have an eye for colour, and to whom the curious
spectacle of cultured wildness is pleasant.

But there are some who, while they remember the long reaches where
the willow herbs shine and the glassy river rolls, think kindly of
the other reaches where the signs of toil begin, and where the great
stream pours on between banks that have nothing to redeem them save
strangeness of form and infinite varieties of bizarre tints.

A voyage in a small boat from the hill where the Greenwich Observatory
cuts sharp against the sky, down to the rushing channels where the
black flood flows past the Woolwich Piers, is always unpleasant to
those whose senses are delicate, but as soon as we reach Gravesend we
come to another region, and there those who care little for brilliance
of colour, those who care little for softness of effect, those who care
only for stern suggestion, find themselves at home.

One of the pleasantest experiences in life is to wake in the early
dawn, put sail on a fast yacht, and run on the tide from Gravesend,
past the grim end of the Lower Hope. The colliers weigh anchor, the
apple-bowed brigs curtsy slowly on the long rush of swelling water,
and as you look up from your cabin you receive sudden and poignant
suggestions that tell of far-off regions, and that take you away from
the grim world that you have just left behind.

Here is a clumsy black brig bustling the water before her! The ripples
fly in creamy rings from her bows; her black topsails, with their
queer patches, flap a little as the wind comes and goes, and you hear
the hoarse orders given by the man who stands near the helm, and who
is in authority for the time. Then a great four-master spreads her
wings, and while the little tug puffs and frets around her as though
there were important business to do, which did not allow of a moment's
consideration, the big ship slowly slides away, and gathering power
under her canvas, surges into the brown deep, and takes the melancholy
emigrants away towards the Nore.

Then the "tramps" of the ocean--the ugly colliers--are not without
interest. One of them foams up to you, and you know that the man in
command of her has perhaps not slept for seventy-two hours. He has
made his wallowing rush from the North country; he has risked all the
dangers of fog and darkness and storm, and he has brought his vessel
up to the derrick with satisfaction. Then in a few hours the swarm of
"whippers" have cleared her; the rattle of the great cranes has rung
through the night, and the vessel has been emptied in a time that would
seem astonishing to those who manage sanitary corporation business on
shore, and who condemn us to endure the presence of ghastly stenches
and unspeakable sights for hour after hour. The anchors are whipped up
and the ocean "tramp" tears away on her trip to the Tyne.

There is not a single sight or sound that does not convey its own
interest. If it is autumn time, the racing yachts are clearing for
action, dapper men are bounding hither and thither, as though there
were nothing in life to be cared for excepting success in the race
that must shortly be begun. The gun fires, and the lazy breeze of the
morning strikes the huge spinnakers, while the razor-bowed craft move
slowly out, and gradually gather speed until the troubled water foams
in crisp whirls and rolls away aft in long creamy trails.

The upper reaches of the river are lightsome, and given over wholly to
pleasure. Every turn conveys the sensation of wealth and comfort; every
delicate shallop that floats luxuriously past the locks hints of money
acquired in the crush of the great city; but in the Lower River any day
the story of stress, and struggle, and coarse labour may be read on the
spot, and perhaps nowhere in the world--not even in the huge docks of
Liverpool--can so vivid an idea be gained of the mercantile greatness
of England. No attempt is made to disguise the natural ugliness and
coarseness of every feature in the scene; steamers surge up at half
speed, and the vast waves that they throw curl against the bank and
bring away masses of mud; the barges glide lazily, the black shrimpers
troop down the current with their ragged sails, and everything speaks
of a life given over wholly to rough toil.

It is true that many parties come from the City in steamboats, and in
the summer evenings the air is full of music, and shrill sounds of
laughter ring from the splashing boats as they pass you; but these are
only stray visitations, and no one who knows the Lower River, no one
who has felt the sentiment of the locality keenly, can ever associate
it with light-heartedness.

Gravesend is a pretty town that straggles around the base of a bluff
hill. From the summit of this hill you can look far over the plains
of Kent; you may see the waves coiling and whitening round the Nore;
you can see the towers of Rochester; you can see the great desolate
stretches of marsh-lands that lie between Malden and Wallend. The town
is wholly given over to shipping business, and although smart villas
display their finery on the outskirts, yet somehow we feel these to be
merely excrescences. They are very gaudy, the gardens are oppressively
handsome, and the wealth of the owners is undoubted; but the lover of
Gravesend cares only for the narrow streets that straggle down to the
river; for the odd little shops where all requirements of seafarers
may be satisfied; for the narrow wharves, past which the tide rushes
from Northfleet Hope. For all who have read nautical literature the
place is peopled with memories. Here the great Indiamen lay, in the
times when the long six-months' voyage round the Cape had to be taken
by officers and civilians. In these narrow, sloping streets the women
stood and watched the passing of those they loved as the monster ship
slid down on the tide. The very name of Gravesend brings up memories
that can hardly be put into words; for in old yellow letters, in old
books, in old newspapers, the word is always associated with meetings
and partings, with great changes of fortune, with the keenest moments
in the drama of life.

The town has the reputation of being the Cockney's Watering Place, but
to those who know it intimately the normal life goes on unaffected by
the incursion of the chattering crowds brought down by the steamers.
The Whitechapel tripper at once betakes himself to the public-house, or
to the tea-gardens, or to the dancing-rooms; while the watermen, the
seamen, and the shrimpers go on composedly with their old-fashioned
tasks. The pilot goes out with his smart cutter. He is a comfortable
man, with a healthy air of authority, and there is something in the
very roll of his voice that speaks of riches and monopoly. The Guild of
Pilots keep their business very much to themselves. It would be hard to
find one of them who is not exceedingly well to do, and any accidents
that may happen do nothing to diminish a pilot's means. If on some dark
and foggy night he makes a mistake, as some great ship gropes her way
down the misty reach, it matters little to him; for even if he cuts
down the ship, and drowns the whole crew, he can make himself perfectly
easy. His money is settled on his wife, and the cleverest lawyer in the
world could not wring anything in the way of composition out of him.
The watermen still ply in their flitting wherries, but the glory of
their trade is departed. Long ago the tilt-boats left for London Bridge
with every tide bearing their loads of passengers.

The sternest rules were made for the guidance of the watermen. There is
one curious order made by the Court of Rulers, Auditors, and Assistants
of the Company of Watermen, forbidding any indecent behaviour or
expression towards their fare, or whilst plying or rowing on the river.
It runs thus:--

    "Whereas, several watermen, lightermen, and the apprentices of
    such, whilst they are rowing, working upon the River Thames, and
    at their several respective places of resort, or plying places,
    between Gravesend and Windsor, do often use immoderate, obscene,
    and lewd expressions towards passengers, and to each other, as
    are offensive to all sober persons, and tend extremely to the
    corruption and debauchery of youth. For prevention therefore
    of such ill-practices for the future, it is hereby declared
    and ordained by the Court aforesaid, That if any waterman or
    lighterman, after the 16th day of October, 1701, shall upon the
    said river, or at any place of their resort, as aforesaid, be
    guilty of using any such lewd expressions, and be thereof duly
    convicted by one or more witness or witnesses, or by confession
    of the offender before the Rulers of this Company, he shall
    forfeit and pay for every such offence the sum of 2s. 6d. And if
    any waterman's or lighterman's apprentice shall herein offend, the
    master or mistress of every such offender (the offender being duly
    convicted as aforesaid) shall forfeit and pay the like sum of 2s.
    6d., and in case of refusal the offender shall suffer correction,
    as the Rulers of this Company shall in their discretion think fit
    and necessary; which said forfeitures (when paid) shall be applied
    to the use of the poor, aged, decayed, and maimed members of the
    Company, their widows and children."

This enactment is two hundred years old, and lasts up to this day. The
wherries were regulated with equal strictness. No boat was allowed to
take more than seven passengers at a time, and the sum of 2s. 6d. was
charged on each passenger embarked over the number.

Everybody who knows the build of the wherries knows that on the Thames
it is extremely difficult to turn to windward in a small boat. When the
tide is running out it is, of course, impossible to turn at all; but
even when the flood is running up it is extremely hard to "beat;" and
the wisdom of the old masters is very prettily shown in one enactment,
which declares that "If any master carrying passengers to and fro from
London to Gravesend shall at any time hereafter turn to windward in any
of the said boats wherein are any of her Majesty's subjects, he shall
forfeit and pay for every such offence the sum of 10s." This severity
of regulation made the river as safe for the ordinary travellers as
it now is for those who use the large steamboats. Many persons were
drowned first and last, but the number of deaths due to the upsetting
of watermen's boats in the whole of the last century did not in sum
equal the number destroyed in the massacre which took place when the
_Bywell Castle_ ran into the _Princess Alice_.

The regulations as to fares and fines are all very curious, and a
glance at the droll bye-laws of the Watermen's Company seems to lift a
curious veil between us and a dead society. Here is one terrible code
of punishments:--

                                                   £  s. d.

  Private watermen reviling passenger              0  2  0
  Swearing or cursing                              0  2  0
  Towing a boat while carrying a passenger         0  2  6
  Plying when his boat is not at the stairs        0  5  0
  Working with a wrong number                      0 10  0
  Marrying in apprenticeship                      10  0  0
  Refusing to carry a fare                         0  2  6

Bum-boats selling goods before sunrising and after sunsetting are very
hardly dealt with. For the first offence the boat forfeits 40s., and
for every succeeding offence £4.

The fares made for the year 1785 were easy enough. From London to
Gravesend the figure required was six shillings, and the other fares
were proportionately reasonable. Thus quiet City men ran down from
London Bridge on one tide and returned on the next, but the tilt-boat
is now as extinct as the caravel. A few smart wherries dodge about
the lower reaches waiting for inward bound vessels; but the watermen
is no longer jolly, and in a few years it will be found impossible to
find a youthful member of the craft, for no parent would apprentice
his son to a trade in which few men can earn enough to keep body and
soul together. A righteous retribution seems to have doomed a race of
harpies to extinction. In the old days, when a towering East Indiaman
came up the river, and the tanned soldiers and the weary civilians
crowded joyously to the side, the watermen pounced on their prey, and
each eager passenger had to run the gauntlet of a band of marauders.
Times have altered, and the keen, ragged men who ply the wherries are
only too glad to take a passenger to the Nore and back for a sovereign.

Across the water Tilbury Fort frowns over the bulge of the reach.
The guns command the Lower Hope, and it would be impossible for an
enemy's vessel to sail so far as Northfleet without being badly mauled
or sunk. The place is associated with the names of a great queen and
our greatest soldier. There the fierce Amazon mustered her troops
and spoke rough words of encouragement to them; there General Gordon
walked, with his quick, quiet movements, and his curt, low speech.
Gordon planned the fortifications at the south of the river, but he
travelled from bank to bank with that eager activity which marked
his every action. His work is masterly in conception and execution,
and if the torpedo service is properly organised it is hardly likely
that the roar of a foreigner's cannon will ever be heard in London
again. A roistering multitude once fluttered the people of the infant
village of Tilbury, and rioted through the quiet place on the southern
shore. The old historian grows quite haughty in his malice as he
tells how "A rude rout of Rascals, under the leading of Wat Tyler,
a taylor, who commanded in chief, with their grave ministers, John
Ball, Jack Straw, a thresher, Jack Sheppard, of the Council of War,
under the title of King's Men, and the servants of the Commonwealth
of England, after ransacking and demolishing all the fair structures
of the nobility and gentry of the Essex side, summoned K. Richard II.
to give them a meeting, who accordingly, accompanied with most of his
best counsellors, took his barge and went to Gravesend, but seeing the
rabble so ragged and rogue-like, a company of swabs, composed of the
scum of the people; it was held no discretion for the King to venture
his person among them, and so returned to the Tower from whence he
came."

Poor Richard let the "swabs" pass up the north side of the river, and
he met them there with a gallantry which is a little unlike the conduct
of the driveller who long afterwards fell from the throne which he had
covered with dishonour. All the scene is dull and peaceful now. Gordon
is gone from us, and his name will pass, like that of the "swab" Tyler,
into the quietude of the history-books.

    "So much carry the winds away."

North of Tilbury, and away to the eastward along the Essex shore,
stretches a strange, level country netted with winding streams. As the
tide runs out, the little ditches send down runnels of clear water.
Charles Dickens was always fascinated by this region; but, strangely
enough, his works have given everybody a false impression of the whole
marsh country. People think of slime, and darkness, and poisonous
exhalations, and an atmosphere of horror and crime. They think of the
faces of hunted convicts and the grim night-scenes in which Joe Gargery
and his pet took part; but at certain times of the year the marshes are
really cheerful--the clear streams glitter in the morning sun, and the
larks sing their hearts out high up in the air. The multitudinous notes
fall around you from the shining heights like a shower of pearls, and
for miles the eye is met by a blaze of colour and dazzling glitter.
The ragworts spread in blinding sheets of yellow; the purple stars of
the mallow peep modestly out from the coarse grass; and amid all the
riot of sound and colour the peaceful cattle stand, and give a sense of
homely companionship to the scene. When the tide flows, the river slips
into the channels, and the tiny runnels of spring water are driven back
to their sources; the ditches fill and overflow; the fishes, in many
cases, catch their prey within a yard of where the cattle were feeding;
and the grass becomes impregnated by the tide. It is this daily advance
of the brackish flood that makes the marshes so valuable as grazing
grounds. The cattle eagerly tear at the salty grass, and its nutritive
qualities are so great, that it is sometimes found that a whole herd
turned out on the marshes within a week or two weigh on the average
half a stone more than they did when they first fed on the saltings. In
winter, truly, the marshes are bleak and inhospitable; but in the soft,
rich mud of the ditches the wild-fowl swarm, and the sportsmen have
good times when the weather is frosty. A man who is not greedy, and
who will be content with a very moderate bag, can hardly find a better
place for exciting sport than within these northern saltings. Sometimes
a redshank starts up, whistling desperately, and goes off down wind
until the charge stops him; the ringed plovers cower low in the ditch,
and shoot along under the bank with steady, level flight, until they
are forced to sweep out over the grass and give the gunner his chance.
At the fall of the evening the wild note of the curlew sounds with
piercing cadence. There be many men in London who count Benfleet
Station as the entrance to Paradise; and it is a very pleasant sight
to see the smart shooters dispersing on a brisk, frosty morning. Below
Canvey Island, and over the immense flats of that dismal place, the
heaviest bags can be made with a big duck-gun. Most of the yachts on
the river have a punt with the orthodox engine of destruction attached.
There is something murderous and commercial about the duck-gun. To get
up to a flock of birds needs a certain cunning and skill, which almost
rise to the dignity of a fine art, and the excitement is amongst the
keenest forms of pleasure that sport can give; but when the black,
screaming flock has risen, and the boom of the huge gun has sent the
echoes flying, then the sight of destruction, struggling, and suffering
is apt to pain the sentimentalist. An hour's wander with a small
gun--an hour that will bring its couple of brace of birds--offers the
more artistic form of sport.

The shooting country is hardly broken between Benfleet and the
Blackwater. Everywhere the eye travels over dark ditches, speckled
flats, and stray groups of birds. At times the ground seems to be
covered by a struggling army, whereof the squadrons perform strange
evolutions. Then the wary gunner, watching with his glass from afar
off, knows that the troops are on the feed, and takes his measures
accordingly.

In choosing a boat for the river work, you can hardly do better than
follow the model adopted by the waterside folk. Right round the coast,
the action of years of experience has enabled the inhabitants of
every place to choose the exact kind of craft best suited for their
locality. In the North the delicate "cobles," with their light draught
astern, are adapted for the long, shelving beaches. No fisherman
ever thinks of running into the cove without preparing to make for
the beach with his craft stern-foremost. The Yarmouth men have their
stiff "hookers," which draw a good deal of water, and are without the
dangerous "crankness" that characterises a "coble." The Suffolk men,
on the stony stretches of coast between Southwold and Aldborough, have
broad, clumsy, longshore boats, which stand a great amount of knocking
about. In this way the unconscious process of adaptation, involving
the transmission of hints from one generation to another, has made the
Thames boats all that can be desired for their work. For all practical
purposes a Gravesend wherry will see you safely to the mouth of the
river, and beyond the Nore; while the average Thames "hooker," or
"bowler" boat, as it is called, will stand up well to any weather that
she is likely to encounter.

Take an ordinary wherry, and an hour's sail from Gravesend brings you
into a foreign colony. Clustered thick in the sheltered haven of the
river lies a fleet of vessels, strange in build, startling in colour,
outlandish in rig. Their bulging bows are like the breasts of some
Titanic women. The low sweep of their bulwark makes it astonishing
that they can ever go to sea without being swept, even when the
enormous boards are hung in position to keep out the rush of water
and to stiffen the vessel. Quiet, good-humoured men lounge on the
spotless decks of these ships, and address you in broken English or in
a strange tongue. As you walk, you hear the sound of wallowing, and
when you look into the gulf of the hold you see a strange, weltering
mass of snaky-brown things of which the aspect makes an unaccustomed
man shudder. Tons of eels welter in these watery caverns, and the
landsman sees with astonishment that the sides of the vessel are
thickly perforated to allow the rush of the sea, and that each ship
is neither more or less than a huge floating sieve. In quiet ponds in
Holland this harvest of eels is raised, and the vessels go to this
point in all weathers. If they sailed past Gravesend, not one fish of
their cargo would survive; so they remain at the bend where the water
is salt, and the Thames flows through and through their holds until the
last consignment has gone to Billingsgate. Then the quaint vessels warp
themselves out of the haven. With their slow, blundering appearance
they always seem as if they must come to mischief, yet somehow or other
the quiet, phlegmatic Dutchmen make their queer craft do exactly what
they wish. These fellows are not fond of the English fishermen, and a
fight between the nationalities sometimes enlivens the dreary monotony
of the haven; but to any one who boards their ship in a polite manner,
and shows signs of good breeding, they are most complacent, and one
learns to like their grim simplicity.

[Illustration: AT CANVEY ISLAND.]

The river widens sharply out to the eastward of Thames Haven. On the
south the Kentish Marshes stretch from the bluff of the Lower Hope
to St. James's, and deep creeks run away southward towards Cooling,
Halston, and Hoo St. Mary. It is very difficult to traverse this huge
flat without a guide who knows the place pretty well. Men who have shot
over the country winter after winter sometimes miss the exact spot at
which a ditch may be crossed, and are kept wandering for an hour at a
time before they can extricate themselves from the labyrinth of deep,
muddy channels. Like the Essex Marshes, the Cliff Marsh, the Halston
Marsh, the St. Mary Marsh, and the rest, are the delight of wild-fowl
shooters. A dingey can traverse most of the creeks for some distance,
and birds may be got in hard weather without adventuring amongst the
swamps, where a slip would produce the most unpleasant consequences.
Like the Essex Marshes, too, this peninsula, which lies between the
Medway and the Thames, is very beautiful in the summer for those who
have learned the true sentiment of the country. Rank and luxuriant life
spreads everywhere, and although sauntering is not a very pleasant
employment, owing to the difficulty of negotiating the ridges between
the ditches, yet the blaze of colour, and the jargon of song go on, and
very pleasing thoughts come over the mind. The tide has a strong sweep,
but a yacht will lie very comfortably clear of the foreshore. There are
particular places, which the yachtsmen and bargemen know well, where no
possible force of the tide would tear the anchor out of the ground. The
present writer has again and again been caught at nightfall by the ebb,
but there never was any danger, though the rush of the river went by
like a mill-race. On one occasion the steering-gear of a steamer gave
way as she was passing down at nightfall, and she plunged in amongst
the stray vessels which were anchored alongside of the dreary flats,
cutting one ship down, and bringing herself hard on the mud; but a
catastrophe of this kind is hardly likely to occur once in twenty years.

A small boat soon shoots round the Lower Hope and into the westerly
channel that flows around Canvey Island. At high tide the boat will
travel easily up to the sea-wall, which rears itself like a strong
fortification at the innermost edge of the saltings. The wall is
overgrown with sea-weed, and the very steps by which one gains the
Coastguard Station are slippery with sea-grass. Inside the wall the
stretch of the island lies, as it were, in a great basin. Corn waves,
bright meadows shine in the summer, and marshy streams creep slowly
into the channels that cut the weird place away from the mainland. A
wild and forbidding place is Canvey Island. The strong sea-wall is
gruesome with its shaggy wreaths of trailing weed. The inner side is
well covered with coarse grass, and from thence away to the northward
a flat of somewhat repulsive aspect runs as far as Benfleet. The
island has a peculiar population. The coastguards' hamlet lies close
to the wall, and the men are ordinary sailors; but in the villages of
Canvey, Knightswick, Panhole, and Lovis, there is a scant population
of people who have their own ways, their own traditions, and their own
methods of regarding a stranger. They are singularly hospitable, for
free-handed sportsmen find the island a happy hunting-ground, and the
people expect and give kindness. The one little inn by the Coastguard
Station is, perhaps, the quaintest in all Essex. Memories of smugglers,
of desperate water thieves, of old collier sailors seem to hang about
its low walls. No one need expect comfort there, but the keeper purveys
for all comers with a rude hospitality which is amusing. On the
Fobbing side of the island the ditches are very deep, and the sides
soft and treacherous. Once a bird is shot there it is very difficult
to recover it. All the dogs kept on the island have a singularly
business-like air, but no one would care to let a valuable dog follow
his game down these steep, gluey, ramparts. To the east, however, the
saltings stretch far towards Canvey Point; and it is not only safe, but
absolutely pleasant to walk over them before the tide creeps through
the rough herbage.

Hardly a shore-bird known in the British Islands fails to visit Canvey.
Looking through a telescope from Benfleet Station, it is easy to
pick out the flocks as they consort in their different communities,
and squat among the mud, or pick their way carefully through the
twining grass. At one time, on a frosty morning, it is possible to
see dotterels, plovers, redshanks, gulls, and pipers, all busy on the
eastern flats; while to the west the cunning curlews dodge on the
slippery banks of the Fobbing ditches. The foreshore is perfectly free
to strangers; although one proprietor in the island has ventured to
dispute the fact. A private grant of the shore was made two hundred
years ago, and below the sea-wall no visitor can be considered as a
trespasser, while a boat may bring up anywhere in the channel. Canvey
is not an inviting spot for camping out. On a gusty night, when the
rushes moan and shiver, and the great river sounds hoarsely, it is
hardly possible to look out into the darkness without feeling a sense
of strangeness and even of fear. The island seems to have no salient
points; the hill, topped by the house known as the Hall, rises a
little, but it is more like a cloud than like a solid mound. A shadowy
figure from the coastguard's hut sometimes paces up and down, but even
this gives none of the refreshment of human companionship. The writer
once took refuge in the Channel at midnight during very bad weather.
The boatmen did not care to land, and we sheltered ourselves as best we
could from the storm. The island then showed in all its mystery through
the drift of rain and the flying haze. It was an experience never to
be forgotten; but no one is recommended to try it. It is better to
seek the hospitable shelter of an inn, and put up with rough fare,
or any fare, rather than remain in the open amid that abomination of
desolation.

[Illustration: THE FRINGE OF THE MARSHES.]

[Illustration: HADLEIGH CASTLE.]

The sea-wind comes with sharp, stirring breath after we pass the long
spit that shoots out from the weird island; the river is still yellow,
but when the breezes set the foam dancing the crests of the waves
are of pure white. In the reach at Erith there is sometimes a heavy
roll that travels as swiftly and as high as the jumping seas of the
Channel, but the curling crests of the waves are yellow, and they hint
of foulness beneath. All changes when the estuary fairly breaks open
to receive the unchecked wash of the tide, and it is exhilarating to
sweep over the full-bosomed river that swells as though it would fain
topple across the low rampart of the Kentish marshes and flood all the
sluggish runlets. We take it for granted that any one who cares to
enjoy the sights of the Lower Thames fully will use a sailing-boat.
The discreet navigator may then explore to his heart's content. On
the southerly shore there are few buildings which have any interest,
but on the Essex bluffs there are many places worth going ashore to
see. The low hills command a fine outlook to the southward, and every
salient point has been selected at one time or another for building
purposes. Looking northward from the dull level of Canvey Island, one
sees a strong tower that forms a central mark in a pretty landscape.
At first sight the building looks firm and uninjured, but when you
climb the bosky hillocks upon which it stands, and approach within a
hundred yards, you find that the imposing shell is but a ruin after
all. This is Hadleigh Castle, which is said to have been built by the
proud favourite Hubert de Burgh. Six centuries, with frost, and fire,
and snow have spent their wearing influence on the stately ruin. Where
once the mad Earl of Kent held high revel the owl makes her nest and
the garrulous jackdaws flutter and babble.

    "'Tis said the lion and the lizard keep
    Their court where Famshyd gloried and drank deep."

The old story holds true alike on the Essex hills and on the plains of
Persia. Where Hubert de Burgh gloried and drank deep the wild birds
harbour and the moaning winds pour unchecked through the desolate
towers. Hadleigh Castle could only have been built by a man who took
long views of life, and who felt his hold on his place in life very
secure. Even now, though the towers are hollow, and the grass makes
the battlements shaggy, the castle has an air of grim strength, of
steadfast power, that give pause to the mind. All round the grey walls
the birds flutter in changing flocks. Far down the slope the river
rolls and the ships glide without ceasing, while the trees rustle
and the grass gleams as the breeze flies over. There is movement and
colour everywhere, the trains rush along the embankment just below
us, and amid all, scorning change, fronting, incurious of night-time
or day, the centuries' enormous weariness, stands the structure that
was built in the dark ages. Dark ages! Can we equal this nobility of
outline, this triumphant strength, nowadays? When all the rickety
streets of modern London shall have sunk in decay, when perchance
the great city is but a fading memory, the rugged Castle of Hadleigh
will remain in disdainful steadfastness--a monument of human pride
and skill, and alas! of human folly and failure. Elizabeth came here,
as did her savage father before her. Generations of ladies, gay and
courtly knights, met in their turn within those tremendous walls,
and now the curious traveller may wander unchecked amid the remnants
of magnificence. Let no one who sails on the Lower River miss seeing
Hadleigh Castle, for it is a worthy example, all mutilated and
imperfect as it stands, of a noble school of architecture; and there
are no ruins of a finer and grander type even on the storied banks of
the many-memoried Rhine.

The view from a steamer is very well in its way, but the quaint
glimpses of mysterious creeks, the chance views of forlorn waterside
cottages, the flashes of colour from red-tiled roofs and glowing
gardens can only be seen at their best from a stiff boat that can
either creep inshore or bowl over the solemn flow of the outer current.
Leave the chilly stillness of a channel like that which bubbles around
Canvey Island; spread the boat's wings, and in a few minutes you may
have the whitening ripples purling clearly along under the quarter, and
you see the fleet waves coiling and plashing at the Nore.

[Illustration: LEIGH.]

To the north of Canvey Point lies the village of Leigh, which may be
called the Yarmouth of shrimpers. The bulk of the village lies close to
the water's edge, but the church, with its picturesque tower, crowns
the top of the hill, and forms a conspicuous landmark. The black boats
bustle out of the haven in swarms, and settle like ungainly sea-fowl
as their trawls go down. It appears as though nothing were being
done--as though the boats were merely anchored in a clumsy fashion,
but, all the time, the brailed-up mainsail is imperceptibly dragging
each vessel along, and the nets are gathering their prey from the muddy
bottom. Solemn, grimy men move listlessly about, or sit amidships, as
if they were burdened with misanthropy; the rudder takes its own way,
for the drag of the net usually serves to keep the boat on her course;
the sail flaps mournfully, and the jar of a shaken block cuts the air
like the report of a pistol. Yet the lazy-looking craft are busy, and
the bubbling boiler amidships is kept always ready. When the haul is
made, and the wriggling myriads of shrimps are sorted out, then the
boiling-nets come into requisition; the crustaceans are swiftly dipped
into hot water, and the impassive fishermen prepare deliberately for
another haul. No one who goes down Thames should miss landing at Leigh,
and, if possible, he should contrive to spend a Saturday evening with
the men. They are a civil race, and they take a stranger's presence as
a compliment. Many of them are yachtsmen, and the admirable semi-naval
discipline of the yachts has leavened the manners of the place. The
rough fellows sing their silly songs, and exchange wise remarks about
fishing and yachts (which are the only subjects of worldly interest
to them), and they are always ready to take a visitor into their
confidence. Barring the slight polish acquired from mariners who have
seen the strange regions of Cowes and Dartmouth, these villagers are
like survivals of a dim past. In fact, so thoroughly marine is the
general atmosphere, that shore-going costume seems incongruous in
Leigh, the presence of a dealer is painful, and one feels as if it were
a sin against propriety to wear anything but old-fashioned garments. It
is worth while to pay a visit to the station in the evening when the
last up-train is about to start; the platform is crowded with hampers
of all shapes and sizes. They contain shrimps ready for transmission to
the all-devouring Metropolis.

It is best to run well out to the southward after leaving Leigh, for
then the pleasant slope of the hills that fringe the northern shore is
well seen. Stray copses straggle here and there; lines of fir-trees
strike against the sky like regiments with arms at the carry, and
pleasant houses peep from their pretty perches. Southend is already
feeling its way toward the west. The central ganglion of the town is
perched in its little basin in thick clusters of houses, that seem to
climb over the rounded wold; but the stray villas are planted like
pioneers, and by-and-by the lines will be completed, and Southend will
perhaps come to be in touch of London.

The magnetic attraction of the great city is felt everywhere. We are so
secure now that bodies of men no longer huddle themselves within the
solid safety of stone walls. Every modern English town has a tendency
to sprawl. Only cross this river and run southward to the Foreland, and
you are within sight of quaint old towns that had a serene, corporate
existence, and nestled inside their defences like discreet swarms of
bees. Rye, Sandwich, and all the rest, resemble the eyries of seabirds
planted safely in snug coves, but this Southend sprawls like its own
wriggling pier. Carlyle foretold the junction of London and Reading,
and there is a sad probability that this will come about. In the same
way Southend at last will blend with London, and we may have the
jingling horror of a tramway from London Bridge to the low bluff that
fronts the Nore.

[Illustration: SOUTHEND AND THE PIER.]

As we move eastward a strange serpentine shape rises out of the water.
At first it is like a cloud, then it takes on the appearance of a huge
centipede with an abnormal number of feelers and a blunt, horned head.
That is Southend Pier, which strikes for a mile and more over the
mud-flats. The lighthouse rounds off the end of this odd structure with
a somewhat dignified suggestion of solidity, but the long, straggling
chain, alas! looks as if it were all unfit to stand the fierce rush
of the North Sea. It is quite easy to land on the hulk that creaks
and sways below the lighthouse, but the present writer never cares to
trust a small boat against the outer edge when the river is running
hard. There are strong steps at intervals all the way along, and it
is best to go round the pier-head and place the boat according to
the wind. When once the upper pathway is gained, it seems as though
the town were within easy reach. But let no one try fast walking
along that treacherous road; it is meant for men who care for gentle
pedestrianism, for meditation, for quiet glimpses to seaward, for lazy
criticism of passing vessels. Indeed, there is enough of interest to
take away all desire for hurry. Around the piles the grey water laps
and swirls, scooping out round holes in which black colonies of mussels
nestle. Little fish pursue their nervous activities in the clear pools;
the scream of sea-birds comes faintly from far away, and the keen
breeze makes hoarse noises in the labyrinth of the piles. At low water
the flat seems interminable, and it must be owned that it does not look
very pleasant. Glossy hillocks of mud thrust their shoulders out of
stray ponds of salt water, and every hillock seems to be composed of
a rather nasty kind of gruel. Lumps of sea-weed lie about the greasy
surface: they are like currants in a monstrous, uneatable custard. The
gulls settle and chatter around the bitter lakelets, and they are the
only beings that find the flats easy to walk on. It is hard to say how
far one would sink if he were daring enough to adventure himself among
the wreathing mazes of mud. Perhaps the footing is more solid than
it seems, but we never cared to try. Slowly and warily the traveller
moves over the puzzling planks, and as each new landmark shows itself,
the length of the pier impresses itself on the imagination of tired
humanity. The men below who wallow in their enormous boots among the
oyster-beds take matters easily, and tend their precious charges
with deliberate care. They are like wild denizens of the gruesome,
glistening waste; and they are as much at their ease as the sea-birds.
But the stranger only longs to be rid of the jolting monotony of the
cross-planks, and as the town comes sharply into view one is tempted to
leave off contemplating the green piles, and the busy fishes, and the
long melancholy of the sea-marsh, and the most phlegmatic of new-comers
is inclined to break into a trot. The leisurely persons who stroll out
to inhale the wind from the Nore may take their ease as they will,
but, after the first minutes of interested observation, the foreigner
longs for human companionship; he longs to be rid of the dominion
of this intolerable roadway. The town straggles down a brief, steep
bank of clay, and spreads itself over a fine level. It has all the
outward appearance of a southern watering-place; the bathing-machines
stand along the low sea-wall, the boats repose on the beach, and the
strollers wander listlessly over the very narrow border of sand. The
old town is quaint and pretty, and the new town is flashily handsome.
London has set its mark deeply everywhere, and, from the smart cabmen,
who salute with demure shrewdness, to the imposing platform where the
band plays, everything tells of city influence. Southend is a lesser
Ramsgate, and, in its way, it is a very fair imitation of that other
dependency of Cockaigne.

When the tide flows, the scene is really pretty. The suggestive flat
is so very, very level that the first rush of the tidal wave sends
foaming streams careering among the winding hollows and pools. Like
magic the vanguard of the sea gains the limit, and soon the wide sweep
from Southend to Canvey becomes a shallow dimpled lake. The sense of
depth is wanting, but if you only look at the surface, then you may
take for granted that you are on the border of a very noble bay. As the
tide gains, the little yachts rise from their bed of mud and curtsy at
their moorings, the fishing-boats glide in, and the curve of the beach
is full of animation. We know nothing of the bathing, but we should
incline to think that there may possibly be a good deal of suspended
matter in the water. Be that as it may, the bathers enjoy themselves
mightily, and, even were there no bathing, the compensation offered by
the sailing-boats that shoot over the wide bight is worth reckoning. To
sail on a water where is depth enough to float you, but hardly enough
to drown you, must be pleasing to the non-adventurous mind.

Southend is very modern, and has not yet gathered any great population;
but it is so cheery, and the powers that rule municipal affairs are
so firmly resolved on making it "attractive," that it has a promising
future. When the Thames no longer discharges filth to the sea, and
the sands regain their purity, it will be delightful to walk over
that noble level; but our generation will hardly see such a blessed
transformation. From much experience we can say that, in winter-time,
the pier offers very inspiriting views. The waves fly hard over the
sands in heavy weather, and their eager rush breaks them into short
combers, that strike the piles, and set the timbers quivering.
Sometimes the spray drives high, and at night the roaring darkness is
as wild as the clamorous mystery that meets you as you gaze seaward
from the cliffs of Bamborough or the wind-swept marshes of Southwold.
So far as creature-comforts are concerned, the traveller is practically
in London. The people have been too wise, so far, to set up as
plunderers, and tired brain-workers who wish to escape easily from
London for a short time may get a breath of sea air without paying too
heavily for the medicine.

On the Upper River a certain amount of enjoyment may be had by sailing
a small centre-board boat; but precisely the same quality of enjoyment
may be derived by using the same boat from Southend. It is not all
whose business will allow them to run to Southampton, or Brighton, or
Margate, but every one can easily get to Southend, run at intervals
into the very midst of the fresh sea-breezes, and return with very
little more trouble than is needed to travel from Uxbridge Road to
Charing Cross. As we have so often insisted, the great blessing of the
royal river is, that its pleasures are so easily accessible to the poor
man. A sound longboat may always be had at a moderate price in Victoria
Docks, and a fresh-built boat, on the longboat pattern, need not cost
more than £30 when the most minute articles employed in fitting are
paid for. The exhalations from the Kentish and Essex marshes, which
become unspeakably horrible when mixed with the suspended carbon that
floats above the City, are never felt at sea, and the priceless boon
of health may thus be had at a less price than that paid by many
middle-class families for the ministration of the physician.

A splendid run from Southend to Sheerness may be had in any state of
the tide. A yacht must go through the passage called the Swashway,
where the soundings are deep, but a wherry will easily pass the sands.
There is nearly always a good breeze, and when the wind is strong
enough to set the scuppers awash, the sensation of skimming from land
to land with the speed of a bird is something to be remembered. At
first, Sheerness is like a low-lying cloud, but gradually the pouring
mouth of the Medway becomes distinct, and soon the front of the forts
is seen, and we realise the full strength of the place of arms, which
has been created on an island that once was a dismal swamp. England
paid dearly before the value of Sheerness as a strong position was
recognised. Twelve guns were mounted there after the Restoration, but
the bold Ruyter minded the puny armament very little, and destroyed
our fleet after passing under the very nose of the batteries. It must
have been a wild time when the apple-bowed Dutch men-of-war cleared the
Swashway, and held on straight up the Medway. Well might the people
"think of Oliver, and what brave things he did, and how he made all
foreign princes fear him." The Admiralty showed vigour when the dreaded
Ruyter was out of sight, and from that day until the present scarcely
a year has passed that has not seen some addition made to the colossal
works which were begun in the time of Pepys.

At the latter end of the last century lines of old war ships were
formed into breakwaters, and each vessel was utilised as a barracks.
Chimneys of brick were built on the hulks, and the lines of ships
looked like floating streets. Under the shelter of these queer barriers
the most extensive works were carried on in safety, and there is hardly
a spot in the world where the victory of man over dumb obstacles is
more triumphantly made apparent than in the monster basins where the
war ships rest. A right instinct told our engineers that Sheerness
protects the heart of the nation, and the energy displayed in building
the stone wall, which runs for a quarter of a mile parallel with the
pier, was worthy of Stephenson himself. After the great dock had been
completed, which was to accommodate a dozen first-rates, it was found
that, in order to make room for the huge structures, enough soil had
been excavated to raise the level of the whole swamp more than fifteen
feet. The history of other engineering achievements has been written at
a mighty great length, but this--perhaps the most extraordinary feat on
record--has met with scant notice.

[Illustration: SHEERNESS DOCKYARD, LOOKING UP THE MEDWAY.]

The age of iron has come in, but memories of the old times hang round
the town. Here is a burly hulk, moored in the swinging tide. Long ago
she carried her two tiers of guns; those slovenly sides were polished
like a violin, and there was not a reef-point out of place. She could
not sail much better than a floating haystack, and her mode of getting
through the water consisted of going three miles ahead and two to
leeward. But she was good enough to fight anything that she met on blue
water, and she took her share of hard knocks in her time. The remnants
of the men-of-war meet us everywhere, and whispers of boyish romance
come to the mind as we think of their clumsy majesty.

But there was not much romance in the life that went on in the ships
that made our boast, and no glamour of poetry or rollicking fiction
affects the minds of those who know the facts. When towering liners lay
in this anchorage, and their strength was the wonder of the foreigner,
it was too often true that the life of the men on board was one round
of sordid slavery, starvation, and hopeless suffering. The men who
fought our battles were fed worse than dogs, and flogged worse than
convicts. Think of all that happened when the ships were running toward
the sea, down this very brave river that we have traced so far. The
water-casks were filled from the befouled flood, and in a few weeks
the horrible stuff was so putrid that it had to be strained through
linen before it could be used, and men turned sick at the smell of the
nauseous draught, which was all that they had for drinking and cooking.
This unspeakable nastiness was of a piece with the rest of the life
on shipboard. The work of the fighting-machine went on smoothly under
iron discipline, but in most cases each ship was an abode of vice and
random tyranny. We hear ridiculous talk of the great days of the Navy.
In those great days the men between decks lived in squalor to which
paupers from the slums would object; many of them were stolen away from
home and from love to go and dwell in that dim quarter among the odious
hammocks; they endured shameful stripes, they drank poisonous water,
they ate meat that a kennel of hounds would have refused, and they
were regarded as having forfeited their manhood. Then in time of need
they had to stand to their guns and run the chance of being smashed by
a French round-shot. Truly the romance shines out but dimly when we
insist on plain prose truth!

[Illustration: SHEERNESS DOCKYARD, FROM THE RIVER.]

Only about ninety years ago Sheerness was covered by guns laid by
angry mutineers, who had burst into rebellion after suffering wrong
unspeakable. Had the sailors not held their hand and offered to hear
reason, they might have laid the place in ruins, and opened the way
to a foreign armada. They had reason enough for anger. Cheated of
their pay, their food, their clothing, their liberty, imprisoned for
years on pestilent foreign stations, crushed under savage discipline,
they refused longer to endure a bondage that the very brute beasts
would have rejected. Then Sheerness saw her direst danger, and then
England was near a disaster from which she might never have recovered.
The whole grim story of the mutiny starts out vividly as we see the
very place where the Admiralty messengers came in terror, and where
the discarded officers were put on shore. Here and there we meet
with a smart, well-looking seaman, and the very look of him reminds
us that the bad days are gone. Jack is not like the scarecrows who
clamoured for food and justice in the terrible times when Sheerness was
panic-struck, and Gravesend Reach barricaded; he looks like a free,
independent man; his rights as a citizen are recognised, and no petty
tyrant can lay the lash on him.

The tendency to dwell on the past is almost irresistible as we move
amid the stupendous evidences of modern ingenuity and resource. The
clangour of hammers resounds in the dockyard. That monster, over
whose iron ribs the swarming workmen clamber like midges, could have
steamed quietly among Nelson's fleet and sent them all to the bottom
in a couple of hours. Not one of them could have scratched her, not
one could have run away from her, and, supposing that her ram were
employed, she could have shorn through the _Victory_ from bulwark to
bulwark without even running the risk of being boarded. Out in the
stream lies the rotting hulk which once was regarded as the prime work
of the human hand and brain; in dock lies the iron monster that needs
neither wind nor tide--the monster which could stand the brunt of
the _Bellerophon's_ broadside without suffering a dent. So the world
changes.

It would take a month to describe the dockyard; indeed, in a single
day's inspection, it is hardly possible to gain an idea of the
magnitude of the place. It is a little world of industry, with a
separate constitution, and separate laws. In such a vast organisation
it is inevitable that blunders occur, and that woful waste goes on
among the incredible masses of material that bewilder the senses.
Nevertheless, a sight of Sheerness Dockyard gives a more definite
idea of British power than reams of abstract declamation and shadowy
description.

The town is marked off into strictly defined regions. Blue Town lies
within the garrison limits, and is pervaded by the military. Mile Town
faces toward the Nore, and lies within a strong line of fortifications.
Banks Town and Marina front the open sea, and are clear of the
atmosphere of business. The two last-named quarters form a merry little
watering-place, and they are intensely modern. The sea rolls up the
beach, pure and clean, and there are few signs of that dubious compound
which makes the Southend flat a place of fear. There the children
build their sand-castles, even as the children did in Homer's time
by the blue eastern waters; there the enfranchised clerk carries out
his peculiar system of enjoyment, and the usual happy, commonplace,
invigorating life goes on during the season. If we described Marina, we
should only describe the typical sea-side places into which the cities
empty themselves in the autumn weather. We may leave Sheerness. The
guide to the docks alone would occupy this book if we only indicated
the points of interest. It is best merely to say that, alike to those
who know the stirring history of our navy, and to those who are amused
by Cockney jollity, the place is worth seeing.

The striped buoy rises and falls to the rhythm of the short seas, and
the waving ball that surmounts the tall pole catches the eye at a long
distance either riverward or eastward. This light is one of the marks
that Englishmen think of wherever they may be on the surface of the
globe. Not a passenger steamer goes past that light without a tremor
of excitement running through all who are on board of her. It seems as
though there were magic in the name, and whether for the sailor coming
from the East Indies, or from round the Horn, or the coasters who have
merely run down from the Tyne, the words, "Here we are, abreast the
Nore!" have a sound that acts like a charm.

That worn and battered vessel that trails past you as though she were
weary of infinite travel and incessant hard battering amid furious
seas, has men aboard her who have chattered for hours together about
all they would see and do when once they passed this point. When the
seas are crashing down on the forecastle-head, and the falling water
sounds like muffled drums; while the stinking lamp gutters in the foul
atmosphere, then Jack, as he stretches on his squalid bunk, grumbles to
his mates about the delight that will come when all this is over, and
the buoy heaves up well within sight; and man-o'-warsmen who beat about
in rickety gun-boats on the hideous coasts of East and West Africa,
think with longing of the time when their cruel privations shall be
over, and the magic announcement shall be made that sets the pulse of
every mariner dancing.

To the mere landsmen, the whole stretch of the sea around the light is
pleasant to sail over. The fishermen and bargemen say, "You are sure
to get a breeze down by the Nore!" and there is hardly a day at any
season of the year, or in any weather, on which this prophecy is not
justified. The yachts that come lazily down, with their huge spinnakers
spread like a swan's wing before cat's-paws that merely tremble over
the surface of the Thames, immediately show signs that the captains are
exercising caution when they cross that breezy band. You instinctively
expect to see the spinnakers taken in, and to see the swift cutters
lie hard over to the mainsail and foresail they sweep round the buoy.
Once you have sailed to the eastward, you feel as though your craft
were suspended between sea and land. On one side you have Southend,
glittering in colour; on the other, you have the more sombre vision of
Sheerness. Far up the river the rippling flood advances, as it were, in
steady ranks upon you; and away to the south-west the marshes glitter,
and the far-off hills look cold and blue. Between tide and tide a whole
day of pleasure may be enjoyed by one who is content to watch merely
the changes of sea and sky, and to speculate lazily as to the character
of the vessels that pass in long procession. To men into whose spirits
the charm of the Lower River has entered, there is no form of enjoyment
dearer than merely to sail past the Nore, run outside near the Maplin
sands, and there wait until the tide turns and the inward trip can be
made with ease. In a small boat it is best to keep slightly out of the
track of the vessels that are running into the Swin, and to hit the
happy medium between those that are going north about and those that
are travelling south. The colliers go by flying light; the men on board
are tolerably lazy; and as the dirty, rusty hulks lumber by, the seamen
wave a kindly greeting. Smart, clean-built Scandinavian barques claw
their way down, and the leisurely barges--which we have mentioned so
often--pass by, laden to an extent that excites wonder at the temerity
of the cool ruffians who man them.

[Illustration: MOUTH OF THE THAMES--LOW WATER.]

Amid this unceasing panorama, every separate picture of which tells
some fresh and strange story of far-off regions, of grimy labour, of
storm and peril, it is easy for men who are content with a day of small
things to sit for hours and hours, perhaps only exchanging monosyllabic
comments on each new-comer. The most glorious sight of the many that
may be seen at the Nore comes when some mighty sailing-ship looms to
the northward of the marshes, and swims grandly on in the wake of her
puffing, fussy little tug. As the two come on in their brief procession
the tug represents mind; the vessel represents matter. That great
ship that will so soon perhaps be sweeping down the league-long seas
southward of the Horn trails meekly in the wake of a fat little screw,
which could be placed on the deck of the convoy without causing a
great deal of inconvenience. The ship is the embodiment of grace--the
tug is the embodiment of ugliness; and yet until the river is clear
the tug is master. But supposing a fine breeze springs up, then, of a
sudden, there is a stir on board the vessel. From afar off you cannot
tell exactly what is being done, but you know that presently her white
wings will be shaken out; and, sure enough, as the vessel strikes the
open, the sails fall--a cloud seems to spring from the water as if
from the touch of a magician. Then the tug swings discreetly aside.
Little by little, the wind lays its hand on each of the bellying sails
and thrusts them out, till their broad bosoms glint in the sunshine
and the hulk lunges and gathers way under their steady pull. The wind
gains power, and the ship comes on with a creamy ripple of foam ringing
her bows like some dainty ornament; and, with a sweep, she passes you
by, leaving a billowy wake behind her; and before your last cheer has
died into silence she is away on her journey. When one of the great
four-masters glides out under her towers of canvas there is something
in the sight that brings one's heart into his mouth. It never grows
stale. You see the great hull with a line of wistful faces peering over
the bulwark, and you know that you are only gazing upon a common-place
emigrant ship. Yet the most prosaic of men comes to think of this
majestic structure as a living being, and the poorest emigrant that
ever wept over his farewells at Gravesend acquires a certain dignity
from being carried away by her.

Shore-going folk often wonder at the contented impassivity of seamen
who happen to have an idle hour in which to stare at the ships and the
water. Observe an ordinary East Coast seaman spending his leisure. His
eyes seem devoid of speculation, he stares sleepily seaward, and when
he talks to a companion he uses brief, ill-formed sentences. But his
mind is active, and if you listen to his low comments you will find
that, in a quiet way, he studies the water and its passing burdens as
men study a beloved book. If a ship is detained to wait for a tide
or a pilot, the sailors find their pastime in contemplation and rude
comment which the landsman does not understand. If that landsman
only spent a while in a yacht on the Lower River they would learn
that the solemn men who look so still and melancholy are probably
feeling a placid pleasure, and the fixed silence is the expression of
a sober contentment that cannot find expression in words. When our
full-rigged vessel goes rolling away with the wind rushing hoarsely
out of her courses the sailor feels acute delight; but he only grunts
his admiration. The landsman may be excused if he breaks into unwonted
ejaculations, and we have recognised our own right to the landsman's
privilege. The present writer can never forget the shock of surprise
with which he first saw a full-rigged ship slashing seaward from the
Lower Hope. He rose as the dawn was painting the river with flashes of
gold, and, lo! to leeward of the yacht, within forty yards, the monster
ship was shouldering her way through the dappled flood. The smaller
vessel was lying down till her copper gleamed to windward, and the
swashing stream surged aft and rolled nearly up to the companion; but
the little "floating chisel" could not long hold her own against the
cloud-capped castle, and soon we watched her drawing proudly away on
her long journey.

The trim gardens, the rich air of ordered beauty, the lovely song of
birds--all the things that greet the senses on the Upper River are
pleasant to the senses, but nothing in the gliding shallows that we
love so well could equal the majesty, the strength, the glory, of that
noble ship; and the sight of her was something to remember in happy
nights when one cannot sleep for the delight of living.

[Illustration: ARTILLERY PRACTICE AT SHOEBURYNESS.]

Sometimes, when loitering northward of the Nore, we hear a sullen
boom, and feel a tremor in the air. The artillerymen are at work on
the ranges at Shoeburyness, and some tremendous piece of artillery is
pitching masses of iron seaward. There is no danger, for it rarely
happens that even an unwary bargeman ventures near the forbidden
region. In our time we only remember one accident. The eighty-one ton
gun had hurled a shrapnel shell over a distance of about six miles. On
the landward side, the whole of the windows within a quarter of a mile
were shivered from out the frames, and the officers' quarters were left
desolate; while, to seaward, a great massacre took place among a flock
of unwary gulls. But this is the only loss of life that has been caused
by the projectiles which scream over the broad shallows. To persons of
a military turn, Shoebury is a most interesting quarter. Everything is
so trim, so business-like, so ineffably military; and the work goes on
so calmly that no one would think that the groups of stern officers and
dashing artillerymen were studying the art of destruction. In summer,
when the volunteers are encamped, the whole place breaks into merriment
as soon as the toilsome competitions are over, and the forts are well
worth a visit from a tourist. The picturesque is lacking, but once
more, the power--the immeasurable reserve force--of our nation strikes
on the mind and wakens a feeling of pride.

[Illustration: GRAVESEND TO THE NORE.]

Morning on the Upper River is joyous, and all through the bright
summer days a sense of keen gladness grows with every hour. The sleepy
afternoons, when the silence broods over the reaches like a voice,
carry the day-long symphony of gladness through yet another movement;
and in the evening, when the clear stars speak silence from their
glimmering eyes, and wash the dusk with silver, everything grows
beautiful, tender, and kindly to the thoughtful soul.

The Upper River is like a delicate lady, clad in all daintiness, and
beaming with gentle beauty. The Lower River is like a burly man,
who urges his way through his career with a sense of strength, with
a disdain of obstacle, with a brutal persistence that keep up the
masculine character. From the places where the ships curtsy at their
creaking tiers, to the splendid stretch where the sea-breeze blows
shrill, chilly with flecks of foam, every yard is vivid with interest.

We believe that no man ever grew tired of the Upper River. People
haunt its reaches year after year, till it seems as though all the
blessed summers were blended into one memory. We cannot think with joy
of summer on the Lower River; but the bitter winter days, the scream
of keen blasts, the monstrous procession that connects the world of
the city with the great world of the outer sea--all these things are
never-fading when once their impact has fairly gained the recesses of
the soul.

Old sportsmen may still be found who shot over the saltings or glided
round the forbidding points of the Lower Thames in their youth; the
habit never leaves them, and, as the seasons roll, these men find their
keenest delight from prowling among the shadowy marshes or facing the
salt, shrill wind that pulses and beats around the Nore.

Sometimes a Cockney sceptic may be found who shudders and speaks of the
Lower River as a place of horror. He sighs for the glades of Clieveden,
for the mossy chestnuts of Hampton Court, for the sloping gardens of
Sunbury. But let a wise sportsman take the sceptic's education in hand;
let his wayward mind be disciplined by merry days among the swarming
saltings, and he will acquire a taste that will be lasting. If he is
judiciously taught he may come at last to feel the true ecstasy, the
mysterious poetry, that touch the soul on shining nights when the
moon-silvered roll of the water is gladsome, and the shadowy ships
steal away to the sea. Then the sordid flats are touched into beauty by
the cold gleam, and the winds, and the waters, and the sailing clouds,
and the quiet ships pass like a mystic pageant, fleeting, fleeting,
ever eastward. The veriest townsman that ever waked the echoes under
Kingston Bridge with his clamour will own at such a time that few
sights in England are finer than the noble outflow of our splendid
river.

  /J. Runciman/.

[Illustration: OUTWARD BOUND--PASSING THE NORE LIGHT.]



INDEX.


  Abbey Church at Dorchester, 72

  ---- of Abingdon, 63

  Abingdon Bridge, 63

  ----, Abbatial parlours at, 64

  ----, Environs of, 68

  ----, Market Cross at, 65

  ----, Market-place of, 64

  ----, Shrine at, 66

  ---- to Streatley, 62 to 84

  ----, Town of, 62

  Abney House, 134

  Above Oxford, 1 to 32

  Albert Bridge, Windsor, 169

  ---- Docks, 303, 320

  ---- Embankment, 266

  Ancient Stone Cross at Abingdon, 65

  "Angler's Rest," The, 176

  Angling in the Thames, 13, 28, 29, 90, 107, 161, 170, 172, 186, 187,
  193, 197, 218

  Ankerwyke House, 173

  Antiquity of Streatley and Goring, 87

  Appleford Bridge, 70

  Apps Court at Hampton, 200

  Artillery Ranges at Shoeburyness, 360

  Asiatic Home, 304

  Aston Ferry, 119

  Avon Canal, 99


  B

  Bablock Hythe, 24

  Bampton, 20

  Bankside, Southwark, 282

  Barges on the Thames, 57

  Barking Abbey, 326

  ---- Reach, 327

  "Barley Mow," The, 71

  Barn Elms, 253

  Barnes Common, 248

  ----, The Village of, 248

  Basildon Ferry, 88

  ----, Village of, 88

  Battersea Bridge, 258

  ---- Park, 264

  ---- Reach, 257

  Bear Garden, Southwark, 282

  Beauchamp Tower, 300

  Beefeaters and Guards at the Tower, 301

  "Beetle and Wedge," The, 82

  Bell Weir Lock, 173

  "Bells of Ouseley" Tavern, 172

  Belot, The Arctic Explorer, 316

  Benedictine Novices at Oxford, 39

  Benfleet Station, 342, 345

  Bensington, The Village of, 77

  ---- Lock, 78

  Bermondsey and Tooley Street, 298

  Billingsgate Fish-market, 291, 292, 294

  Binsey, The Village of, 32

  Bird Life on the Thames, 18

  Birthplace of River Thames, 2

  Bisham and its Ghost, 126

  ---- Church, 127

  ---- House, 125

  ---- Priory, 126

  ---- Woods, 149

  Bishopric of London and Fulham Palace, 255

  "Black Cherry Fair," 187

  Blackfriars Bridge, 277

  Blackwall, 319

  Blenheim Park, 27

  Bolney Court, 104

  Botanical Gardens at Battersea, 262

  Boulter's Lock, 141

  Bourne End, 133

  Boveney Lock, 151

  Boyle Farm and the "Dandies' Fête," 209

  Boyne Hill, 142

  Bray, 145

  Bream Fishing at Dagenham, 325

  Brentford, Town of, 246

  Brethren of the Holy Rood and Abingdon, 65

  Bridge at Richmond, 235

  ---- Ward Without, 282

  Bridgwater Canal, 56

  Burrow Marsh, 103

  Bushey Park, 204, 219

  Bye-laws of the Watermen's Company, 340


  C

  Canal from Birmingham to Oxford, 56

  Canute's Country, 21

  Canvey Island, 345

  ---- Point, 345, 349

  Capital of Wessex, The, 73

  Carp in the River, 111

  Cassington Church, 30

  Castle Eaton Bridge, 12

  Caversham Bridge, 94

  ---- Warren, 94

  "Cawsam Hill," 93

  Chaucer and Southwark, 282

  Chelsea and Neighbourhood, 260

  ----, Cheyne Walk, 262

  ---- Don Saltero's Coffee-house, 262

  ----, Great Cheyne Row, 262

  ---- Hospital, 263

  ---- Suspension Bridge, 264

  Chertsey, Angling at, 186 to 188

  ---- Bridge, 185

  ----, Bridge House at, 189

  ---- Church and Bell, 186, 188

  ---- Fairs, 187

  ---- Mead, 184

  ----, St. Ann's Hill at, 189

  Cherwell Bridge at Oxford, 50

  Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, 260, 262

  Chiltern Hills, 86

  Chilton Lodge, 98

  Chinese Barges and Weirs, 56

  Chiswick House, 250

  Christ's Hospital at Abingdon, 67

  Church of Old Windsor, 170

  ---- of St. Peter ad Vincula, 301

  ---- of St. Helen at Old Abingdon, 68

  Churn, The, 7, 8

  Clasper's Boathouse, 37

  Cleeve Lock, 82

  Cleopatra's Needle, 274

  Cliefden House, 136, 138

  ---- Woods, 134, 138

  Cliff Creek, Gravesend, 336

  Clifton Bridge, 71

  ---- Hampden, 70

  Coarse Fish in the Thames, 109

  Commercial Docks, 307

  Conservancy of the River, 179

  Convent at Isleworth, 240

  ---- of Sheen, 237

  Cookham Bridge, 135

  ---- Church, 136

  Cooper's Hill, 175

  Coronation Stone at Kingston, 214

  Courses of the Thames, The, 34

  Cowey Stakes at Walton, 195

  Cowley's House at Chertsey, 108

  Craven House, 254

  Cricklade, The Town of, 10

  Crockham Hill, 190

  Cross Ness Sewage Works, 326

  Crowmarsh Gifford, Parish of, 78

  Culham Court, 119

  ---- Lock, 69

  Cumnor, The Village of, 24

  Custom House, 291, 296


  D

  Dace and Roach in the River, 111

  Dagenham Breach, 325

  ---- Lake, 325

  Danesfield House, 123

  Dartford, 330

  Datchet Mead and Falstaff, 168, 169

  Day's Lock, 70

  Denham's Description of the Thames, 175

  Deptford Dockyard, 211

  ---- and Peter the Great, 315

  Disused Weirpools, 23

  Dock Labourers, 314

  Dominican and Franciscan Teachers at Oxford, 39

  Don Saltero's Coffee-house and Thomas Carlyle, 262

  Dorchester Abbey, 70

  Dorchester Abbey Church, 73

  Dorchester, Capital of Wessex, 73

  Duelling at Barn Elms, 254

  Dufford Ferry, 21

  Dumb-barges on the River, 312

  Dyers' Company and the Swans, 133


  E

  Early Names of the Thames, 4

  East India Docks, 310, 315

  Eel Boats, 343

  Eelbucks at Chasey Farm, 94

  Eel Pie Island, 222

  Egham, Town of, 178

  English Frigate _Warspite_, The, 324

  Environs of Abingdon, 68

  Epitaphs in Bensington Churchyard, 78

  Erith, 327, 329

  Erkenwald's Monastery at Chertsey, 186

  Essex Marshes, 342

  Eton, 151

  ----, Chapel at, 164

  ---- College Buildings, 162

  ----, Founder of the Chapel, 165

  ---- Montem, 166

  ---- or Waterton, 164

  ----, Provosts at, 163

  ----, Rouse's Scholarships at, 163

  ----, Speech Day at, 165

  Exciting Race from Cookham to Marlow, 147

  Eynsham Bridge, 27

  ---- Cross, 27

  ----, The Village of, 27

  ---- Weir, 25


  F

  Fairford and the Coln, 13

  "Fair Mile," The, 115

  Famous Grotto at Twickenham, 222

  Farringdon, The Town of, 20

  Fawley Court and its History, 117, 118

  First Lock, 14

  Fish at Billingsgate, 294, 295

  ---- in the Thames, 13, 28, 29, 76, 99, 161, 170, 172, 193, 194, 197, 218

  Fishers' Row, 34

  Fishmongers' Hall, 288

  ---- Procession, 291

  Fish Street Hill, 294

  "Flash" Locks, 55

  Flyfishers' Club at Hungerford, 98

  Fly-fishing in the River, 111

  Flooding the River, 56

  Flowers, Some Thames, 16

  Folly Bridge, 32

  ---- ---- Lock, 55

  Fords at Shefford, 21

  Foreign Cattle Market at Deptford, 316

  Four Noted Abbeys, 95

  ---- Streams, The, 35

  Franciscans at Medmenham, 120, 121

  ---- and the Monkey, 121

  Francis Rouse and Eton, 163

  "French Horn" Inn, 100

  Freshwater Wharf, 291, 292

  Frogmore, 159, 167

  Fulham and its Market Gardens, 256

  ---- and Putney, 254

  ---- Church, 256

  ---- Palace, 255


  G

  Garrick's Villa at Hampton, 198

  Girls Rowing and Steering, 150

  Godstow Nunnery, Ruins of, 31

  ----, The Village of, 30

  Goring Church, 87

  ---- Mill, 86

  ---- Toll-gate, 87

  ---- Weir, 86

  Great Marlow, 129

  ---- ----, The Church and its "Curiosities," 129

  ---- ----, The Deanery at, 130

  ---- ---- Weir and Locks, 131

  Gravesend Reach, 336

  ----, The Town of, 333

  ---- to the Nore, 337 to 362

  Grayling in the Kennet, 98

  Greenhithe, 327, 328, 330

  Greenwich Hospital, 316

  ---- Observatory, 319

  ---- Park, 318, 319

  Grotto at Goring, 88

  ---- at Oatlands, 191

  Groves at Bisham, 132

  ---- of Kew, The, 241

  Gudgeon in the Thames, 176, 177

  Guild of Pilots at Gravesend, 339


  H

  Hadleigh Castle, 348

  Halliford Bridge, 194

  Ham, Village of, 225

  ---- Weir, 12

  Hambledon Lock and its Islands, 119

  Hammersmith Suspension Bridge, 251

  Hampton Court, 201, 202

  ---- ---- Bridge, 200

  ---- ---- Chestnut Avenue, 204

  ---- ----, Christmas at, 207

  ---- ----, English Brickwork at, 203

  ---- ----, Fountain Court, 206

  ---- ---- Great Hall, 204

  ---- ----, Painted Windows in Great Hall, 205

  ---- ----, Park at, 207

  ---- ----, Picture Gallery at, 206

  ---- ---- to Richmond, 211 to 228

  Hampton House, 198

  ---- Wick, 213

  Hannington Bridge, 12

  Hardwicke House, 91

  Hart's Weir, 17

  ---- Wood, 88

  Hedsor Park, 136

  Hennerton Backwater, 104

  Henley and its Natural Scenery, 113

  ---- Bridge and its Builder, 115

  ---- Church, 114

  ---- Races, 115

  ---- Regatta, 117

  ----, the Riparian Metropolis, 107

  ---- to Maidenhead, 113 to 142

  ----, Town of, 113

  Hinksey Stream, The, 37

  History of Kew Gardens, 241

  Hogarth's Frolic, 289

  Holme Park Woods, 100

  Houses of Parliament, The, 267

  Howberry Park, 78

  Hungerford, Famous for Trout, 98

  Hurley and its Islands, 123

  Hurlingham, 257

  Hythe Bridge, 34


  I

  Iffley Lock, 55

  ---- Mill, 54

  Inglesham Weir, 13

  Ingress Abbey, 330

  Inns at Rotherhithe, 307

  Inscriptions in Bensington Church, 78

  Invention of Rowing, 54

  Isis, The Head of the, 3

  ---- and the Thames, The, 72

  Isle of Dogs, 308, 310

  ---- of Osney, 37

  ---- of Thorns, The, 186

  Isleworth, Town of, 239

  Izaak Walton at Datchet, 169


  J

  Jesus Hospital at Bray, 146


  K

  Kempsford, 12

  Kennington, The Village of, 58

  Kentish Marshes, 344

  Keston Heath, 316

  Kew Bridge, 246

  ---- Churchyard, 246

  ---- Foot Lane, 227

  ---- Gardens, 237, 239, 241

  ---- ----, Chinese Pagoda in, 245

  ---- ----, Palm-house in, 243

  ---- Green, 246

  ---- Observatory, 237, 239

  ---- Palace and the "Dutch House," 241, 242

  Kingston-on-Thames, 212, 215

  ---- Bridge, 211

  ---- Church, 206, 215

  ----, Coronation Stone at, 214

  Kingston, Rowing Clubs at, 211

  King's Weir, 30

  Kitcat Club, The, 253


  L

  Lady Place and its History, 123

  Laleham and Dr. Arnold, 182

  ---- Church, 183

  ---- Ferry, 182

  ---- House, 183

  Lambeth, Borough of, 264

  ---- Palace, 266

  ---- ----, Archbishop Laud and, 267

  Langley or Ridge's Weir, 23

  Lechlade, The Town of, 14

  Leigh, The Village of, 349

  Limehouse Church, 308

  Little Marlow, 132

  Littlecote Park, 98

  Littlemore, The Village of, 58

  Lollards' Tower, Lambeth, 266, 267

  London Bridge and its History, 284, 286

  ---- and its Traffic, 284

  ---- Docks, The, 303

  "Long Reach" Tavern, 329

  Long Walk at Windsor, 167

  Lower Hope, The, 341

  Ludgate Hill and the Temple of Diana, 278


  M

  Magna Charta Island, 174

  Maidenhead or Maidenhithe, 141, 143, 145

  ---- Bridge, 145

  Main Stream for Barges at Oxford, 37

  Mapledurham House, 93

  ---- Mill and Weir, 92

  Maplin Sands, 357

  Market Cross of Abingdon, 65

  Marking Swans, 133

  Marlborough, The Town of, 99

  Marlow Bridge, 130

  Marsh Lock, 105

  Medley Weir, 32

  Medmenham Abbey, 120

  Middle Temple Hall, 277

  Millbank Prison, 264

  Millwall Docks, 310, 312

  Mongewell House, 80

  Monkey Island, 151

  Monument, The, 291

  Morning on the Lower Thames, 337

  Mortlake and its History, 247

  Moulsey Hurst, 199

  Moulsford Bridge, 80

  Mysteries of Fly-fishing, 111


  N

  Names of Boat Landings and Stairs, 307

  National Society's Training College at Battersea, 260

  Navigation of the Iffley, 55

  Newbridge, 22

  Newbury, The Town of, 99

  Newton Murren, Church of, 80

  New Battersea, 264

  Noah's Ark Weir, 23

  Nore, The, 357

  Northfleet, 330

  ---- Hope, 339

  North Woolwich Gardens, 324

  ---- ---- Pier, 324

  Nuneham Lock, 55

  ----, Heights of, 59

  ---- Reach, 61

  Nunnery of Sion, The, 237


  O

  Oatlands and its History, 192

  ---- Grotto, 191

  ---- Palace and Park, 190, 191

  "Ocean Tramps," 338

  Ock Street at Abingdon, 68

  Old Buscot, The Village of, 16

  "Old Chelsea Bun-house," 262

  ---- ---- Church, 260

  "Old Crabtree Inn," 252

  Old London Bridge and its History, 285

  ---- ---- ----, Nonsuch House on, 286

  ---- ---- ----, St. Thomas's Chapel on, 286

  ---- ---- ---- Traitors' Gate on, 286

  ---- ---- Theatres, 282

  Old Navigation Stream, 35

  Old St. Paul's Church, 280

  Old Windsor, 170

  Oldest Stone Bridge, The, 22

  Origin of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," 159

  Osier Farm on the Thames, 88

  Osney Abbey, 39

  Oxford to Abingdon, 33 to 61

  ----, Architectural Revival at, 47, 50

  ----, Austin Friars at, 39

  ----, Black Friars of, 38

  ---- Canal, 37

  ----, Carmelites or White Friars at, 39

  ----, Chapel of Brasenose at, 49

  ----, Church of St. Martin at Carfax at, 40

  ----, College of St. Mary Winton, 43

  ----, Colleges at, 42

  ----, Degrees at, 42

  ----, Disputations at, 48

  ----, Early Colleges at, 43

  ----, Eleanor Cross at, 51

  ----, Grey Friars of, 38

  ----, Halls at, 43

  ----, Houses of the Friars at, 34

  ----, Lincoln College of Priests at, 46

  ----, Magdalen Bridge, 50

  ---- ----, College at, 44

  ----, Mendicant Order of Friars at, 38

  ----, Midnight at, 54

  ----, Oriel Barge at, 57

  ----, Preacher's Pool at, 38

  ----, Sheldonian Theatre at, 40

  ----, The Buildings of, 37

  ----, The Town of, 33

  ----, Trill Mill Stream at, 38

  ----, Undergraduate Revival at, 52

  ---- University and Parish Churches, 38


  P

  Pacey's Bridge, 35

  Palace of Richmond and its History, 233, 234

  ---- of Westminster, 268, 270

  Pangbourne, Village of, 89

  Park Place and its History, 105

  Paul's Walk, 279

  "Pedlar's Acre," Lambeth, 266

  Penton Hook Lock, 181

  "Perdita's" Grave, 169

  Petersham Park, 226

  Phillimore Island, 104

  Picnic Island, 175, 176

  Pike and Perch Fishing, 110

  Pilots and Watermen, 339, 340

  Pimlico, District of, 264

  Pink Hill Lock, 27

  ---- ---- Weir, 27

  Pleasant Pictures at Bray, 150

  Plumstead Marshes, 326

  "Pool," The, 301, 302

  Pope's Villa at Twickenham, 222

  Porch House, Chertsey, 188

  Port Meadows, 32

  Prisoners at Windsor, 158

  Prize-fighting at Moulsey, 199

  Pudding Lane, 294

  "Puppy Pie" at Marlow Bridge, 130

  Purfleet, Town of, 328

  Purley Hall, 93

  ----, The Village of, 93

  Putney and Fulham, 254

  ---- Bridge, 255

  ---- Heath, 255


  Q

  Quarry Woods, 131

  Queen Bess and the Custom House, 297

  "Queen's Tobacco Pipe," The, 305

  Queenhithe and the Tax on Fish, 294


  R

  Racing Yachts on the Thames, 338

  Radcot Bridge, 18

  Radley, The Village of, 58

  Ramsbury Manor, 98

  Ranelagh Club, Barn Elms, 254

  ---- Gardens, 263

  Ratcliff Highway, 305

  Ray Mead, 141

  Reaches on the River, 309

  Reading Abbey, 95

  ---- at the time of the Plague, 96

  ----, The Town of, 95

  Rearing Ponds at Sunbury, 197

  "Red Lion" at Henley, 115

  Regatta Island, 117

  Relics of "Roman London," 292

  Remenham Hill, 114, 119

  Rewley Abbey, 39

  Richmond, 227

  ----, Asgill House, 230, 232

  ---- Bridge, 229

  ---- Church, 234

  ---- Green, 232, 234

  ----, Mansfield House at, 228

  ---- Old Deer Park, 237

  ----, Old Palace of Sheen, 230

  ---- Palace, 231

  Richmond, Queensberry House, 232, 234

  ----, "Star and Garter" Hotel, 227

  ----, The Hill at, 227

  ----, Trumpeters' House, 232

  ----, Water Supply of, 235

  River Churn, The, 8

  ---- Cole, The, 13

  ---- Coln, The, 13

  ---- Cray, The, 329

  ---- Darent, The, 329

  ---- Evenlode, The, 27

  ---- Iffley, 54

  ---- Isis, The, 11

  ---- Kennet, The, 95, 97

  ---- Lea, The, 319

  ---- Lech, The, 16

  ---- Loddon, The, 102

  ---- Ravensbourne, The, 316

  ---- Windrush, The, 21

  ---- Witham, The, 34

  Riverside Amusements, 115

  ---- Inns, 180

  ---- Solitude, 72

  Roach, Dace, and Gudgeon in the River, 111

  Romantic Episodes, 154, 157

  Roman Fortifications at Dorchester, 73

  Romney Island, 165

  Rose Isle, 58

  Rosherville Gardens, 333

  Rotherhithe, 306

  ---- Railway Station, 307

  Round House at Inglesham, 13

  Rowdyism on the Thames, 144

  Rowing Clubs at Kingston, 211

  ---- on the River, 54, 146

  Royal Albert Dock, 320

  ---- Gardens at Kew, 239, 243

  ---- Naval College, Greenwich, 317

  ---- River, The, 241

  Rules of the Company of Watermen, 339

  Runnymede, 174, 175

  Ruscombe, The Village of, 105

  Rushy Lock, The, 20


  S

  Sailors and their Ways, 306

  Sailors' Home, 304

  Salesmen's Cries at Billingsgate, 295

  Salmon in the Thames, 109

  Salt Hill, 166

  Sandford Mill, 58

  St. Helen's Church at Abingdon, 66

  St. Katharine's Docks, 303

  St. Magnus' Church, Billingsgate, 291

  St. Nicholas' Church at Abingdon, 64

  St. Olave's Church, Bermondsey, 298

  St. Patrick's Stream, 103

  St. Paul's Cathedral, 277, 278

  ---- "Paul's Walk" in, 280

  St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, 283

  St. Stephen's Chapel at Westminster, 270

  St. Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth, 266

  Scenery at Pangbourne, 90

  Sewage of London, 316

  ---- Pumping Stations, 316

  Sewer Works at Barking, 326

  Seven Springs, The, 6

  Severn Canal and Thames, 9

  Shakspeare and Windsor, 159

  Shelley and Great Marlow, 129

  Sheerness and its History, 353

  ---- Dockyard, 356

  Shepperton, Village of, 194

  Shillingford Bridge, 76, 77

  Shiplake Lock, 104

  Shipping in the Pool, 290, 291

  Shoeburyness, 360

  Shrimps at Gravesend, 334

  Shrimp Hampers at Leigh, 350

  Shrine at Abingdon, 66

  Skinner's Weir, 27

  Silvertown, The Colony of, 322

  Sinking of the Cambridge Boat, 250, 251

  Sinodun Hill, 72, 76

  Sion House, 239

  Somerford Keynes, 10

  Somerset House, 274

  Sonning Bridge, 100

  Sonning-on-Thames, 100

  Source of the Thames, 1

  Southend, The Town of, 350

  ---- Pier, 350

  Southley, 167

  Southwark Bridge, 280

  Spawning Season, 109

  Spring Well at Goring, 87

  Staines "Deep," 179

  ----, Linoleum Works at, 178

  ----, Village of, 178

  Stanton Harcourt, 25

  State Barge at Teddington, 218

  Steam Launches on the Thames, 29, 110, 144, 167, 170

  Stepney, 308

  Stoke Ferry, 81

  Stone Church at Greenhithe, 330

  Strange Names of Places, 298

  Strathfieldsaye Park, 102

  Strawberry Hill at Twickenham, 220

  Streatley Hills, 80

  ---- Mill, 83, 86

  ---- the Mecca of Painters, 85

  ---- to Henley, 85 to 112

  ---- Tower, 84

  ---- Weirs, 83

  Sundial at Kew, 243

  Supposed Site of Saxon Palace, 171

  Surbiton, 211

  Surley Hall, 151

  Surrey Docks, 308

  Swallowfield, 103

  "Swan," The, Thames Ditton, 209

  Swans on the Thames, 133

  Swashway, The, 353


  T

  "Tabard" Inn, Southwark, 282

  Tadpole Bridge, 20

  Tapestry Works at Windsor, 171

  Taplow Court, 141

  ---- Woods, 141

  Teddington, 215, 218

  ----, State Barge at, 218

  ----, "The Anglers" at, 216

  ----, Tombs in Church at, 219

  ---- Weir, 14, 218

  Temple, The, 276

  Temple Bar, 167

  ---- Gardens, 276

  Temple's (Sir W.) Orangery at Sheen, 239

  Tenfoot Weir, 21

  Thames Angling, 107

  ---- ---- Preservation Society, 108, 197

  ---- and Severn Canal, 8, 9

  ---- and the Isis, 72

  ---- at Windsor, 161

  ----, Birthplace of, 2

  ---- Commission, 56

  ---- Conservancy Board, 179

  ---- Ditton, 207

  ----, Early Names of, 4

  ---- Embankment, 277

  ---- Flowers, 16

  ---- Haven, 344

  ---- Head, 2

  ---- Parade, 101

  ---- Sailing Club, 211

  ----, Source of the, 1

  ---- Street, 294

  ---- Subway, 299

  ---- Swans, 133

  ---- Trout, 109

  ---- Tunnel, 306

  ---- Valley, The, 62

  ---- ---- Church, 209, 210

  ---- Watermen, 288

  The Upper and Lower River, a Comparison, 361

  Tilbury and its Memories, 331, 341

  ---- Docks, 330

  ---- Fort, 332, 341

  ---- Marshes, 330, 342

  Tithing Salmon, 186

  Tooley Street and the Three Tailors, 298

  Tower Hill, 299

  ---- of London, 299

  Training Ships on the Thames, 329

  Traitor's Gate, 286

  "Tramps," The, of the Ocean, 338

  Trewsbury Mead, 8

  Trill Mill Stream at Oxford, 38

  Trinity House, 299

  Tripcock Reach, 327

  Trout-fishing on the Thames, 13, 90, 109

  "Trout" Inn at Lechlade, 15

  ---- Stream at Pangbourne, 90

  Twickenham, 220

  ----, Orleans House, 223

  ---- Parish Church, 222

  ----, Pope's Tomb, 223

  ----, Pope's Villa at, 222

  ----, Strawberry Hill at, 220

  ----, York House, 223


  U

  University Barge, The, 57

  ---- Boat Club at Oxford, 55

  ---- Boat Race, The First, 118

  ---- ---- ---- on the Thames, 250

  Upper, Lower, and Middle Pools, 302


  V

  Vale of the Kennet, The, 99

  Vauxhall, 264

  Victoria Bridge at Pimlico, 264

  ---- Dock at Blackwall, 303, 320, 321

  ---- Embankment, 274

  Vintners' Company and the Swans, 133


  W

  Walker's Picture of the "Harbour of Refuge," 146

  Wallingford Castle and Museum, 79

  ----, The Town of, 78, 79

  Walton-on-Thames, 195

  ----, Ashley Park at, 196

  ----, Cowey Stakes at, 195

  ----, The Bridge at, 194

  ----, The Scold's Bridle at, 196

  Wandsworth Brewery, 257

  Wapping, 308

  ---- Old Stairs, 301, 308

  Wargrave Hill, 104

  Water-fowl at Penton Hook, 181

  Water Gate of Inigo Jones, 275

  Water Hay Bridge, 10

  Waterloo Bridge, 275

  Watermen's Company, Rules of, 339, 340

  West India Docks, 314

  ---- Mill at Somerford, 10

  Westminster, City of, 267

  ---- Abbey, 269, 270, 271

  ---- Bridge, 273

  ---- Hall, 269, 270, 272

  ----, History of, 270

  ---- Palace, 268, 270

  Weybridge, 190

  ---- Green, 192

  Whitchurch Lock, 89

  Whitebait Fishing at Gravesend, 334, 335

  White Friars or Carmelites at Oxford, 39

  White Place, near Cliefden, 139

  Wild-fowl Shooting, 342, 344

  Willow-peeling, 89

  Windsor, Albert Bridge at, 168

  ---- Castle and its History, 152

  ---- Castle as a Palace and as a Prison, 158

  ----, Great Park at, 159, 160, 166

  ----, Herne's Oak at, 166

  ----, Home Park at, 166

  ----, Long Walk at, 167

  ----, Queen's Walk at, 167

  ----, Round Tower at, 158

  ----, St. George's Chapel at, 154

  ----, The Merry Wives of, 159

  ----, Town of, 159, 160

  ----, Victoria Bridge near, 169

  Wine Cellars of the London Docks, 304

  Witham Hill, 28

  Wittenham Clump, 70

  Wolsey's, Cardinal, College at Oxford, 66

  ---- Tower at Henley, 114

  Wolvercott, Village of, 31

  Woodstock, The Town of, 27

  Woolwich Arsenal, 323

  ---- Barracks, 322

  ---- Church, 322

  ---- Dockyard, 323

  ---- Reach, 322

  Wraysbury Church, 173

  ---- Village of, 174


  Y

  Yachting at Gravesend, 333

  York House, 274



TABLE OF DISTANCES

_Taken, by permission of the Author, from Taunt's "Guide to the
Thames."_

  ====================================================
                                      _m_. _f_. _yds_.
  Thames Head to Cricklade             11    6     2
  Seven Springs     "                  20    4     0
  ====================================================
                    ABOVE  OXFORD.
                                      _m_. _f_. _yds_.
  Cricklade to Oxford                  43    7     2
  Water Eaton Bridge to Oxford         41    7   152
  Castle Eaton Bridge     "            39    3    44
  Kempsford               "            37    7     0
  Rannington Bridge       "            36    5    88
  Inglesham Round House   "            33    2     0
  Lechlade Bridge         "            32    4    88
  St. John's              "            31    7     0
  Buscot Lock             "            30    5   170
  Hart's Weir             "            29    3    20
  Radcot Bridge           "            26    2   100
  Old Man's Bridge        "            25    1   110
  Rushy Lock              "            23    0   110
  Tadpole Bridge          "            22    1    54
  Tenfoot Bridge          "            20    3     0
  Duxford Ferry           "            18    4    59
  New Bridge              "            15    1   166
  Ridge's Weir            "            14    0   104
  Bablock Hythe Ferry     "            11    4    34
  Skinner's Weir          "             9    7     0
  Pinkle Lock             "             8    7     0
  Eynsham Bridge          "             7    2   193
  King's Weir             "             4    4    32
  Godston Lock            "             3    2    99
  Medley Weir             "             1    7    36
  Osney Lock              "             0    7     0
  ====================================================


OXFORD TO PUTNEY.

  -------------------------+----------------+----------------+----------------
                           |   From Place   |  From Oxford   |  From London
                           |    to Place.   |(Folly Bridge). | (Putney Br.).
  -------------------------+----------------+----------------+----------------
                           |_m_. _f_. _yds_.|_m_. _f_. _yds_.|_m_. _f_. _yds_.
  Oxford Bridge            |  0    0     0  |  0    0     0  |104    3    66
  Iffley Lock              |  1    3   150  |  1    3   150  |102    7   136
  Rose Island              |  0    6   124  |  2    2    54  |102    1    12
  Sandford Lock            |  0    6   166  |  3    1     0  |101    2    66
  Nuneham Bridge           |  2    5   160  |  5    6   160  | 98    4   126
  Abingdon Lock            |  1    7    60  |  7    6     0  | 96    5    66
  Abingdon Bridge          |  0    3   211  |  8    1   211  | 96    1    75
  Culham Lock              |  2    0     0  | 10    1   211  | 94    1    75
  Appleford Railway Bridge |  1    2    76  | 11    4    67  | 92    6   219
  Clifton Lock             |  1    4    54  | 13    0   121  | 91    2   165
  Clifton Bridge           |  0    3   140  | 13    4    41  | 90    7    25
  Day's Lock               |  2    4    40  | 16    0    81  | 88    2   205
  Junction of River Thame  |  0    6   180  | 16    7    41  | 87    4    25
  Keen Edge Ferry          |  1    0   140  | 17    7   181  | 86    3   105
  Shillingford Bridge      |  0    6   100  | 18    6    61  | 85    5     5
  Benson Lock              |  1    2    30  | 20    0    91  | 84    2   195
  Wallingford Bridge       |  1    2     0  | 21    2    91  | 83    0   195
  Nuneham Ferry            |  0    4    70  | 21    6   161  | 82    4   125
  Stoke Ferry              |  2    1     0  | 23    7   161  | 80    3   125
  Moulsford Railway Bridge |  0    5    46  | 24    4   207  | 79    6    79
  Moulsford Ferry          |  0    5    64  | 25    2    51  | 79    1    15
  Cleeve Lock              |  1    2    78  | 26    4   129  | 77    6   157
  Goring Lock              |  0    5     0  | 27    1   129  | 77    1   157
  Basildon Railway Bridge  |  1    2    61  | 28    3   190  | 75    7    96
  Gate Hampton Ferry       |  0    2    66  | 28    6    36  | 75    5    30
  Whitchurch Lock          |  2    4    33  | 31    2    69  | 73    0   217
  Mapledurham Lock         |  2    2    70  | 33    4   139  | 70    6   147
  The "Roebuck"            |  0    7   145  | 34    4    64  | 69    7     2
  Caversham Bridge         |  2    6   206  | 37    3    50  | 67    0    16
  Caversham Lock           |  0    4   120  | 37    7   170  | 66    3   116
  River Kennet's Mouth     |  0    5   120  | 38    5    70  | 65    5   216
  Sonning Lock             |  1    7    28  | 40    4    98  | 63    6   188
  Sonning Bridge           |  0    2    60  | 40    6   158  | 63    4   128
  Shiplake Lock            |  2    4    66  | 43    3     4  | 61    0    62
  Shiplake Ferry           |  1    0    38  | 44    3    42  | 60    0    24
  Boulney Ferry            |  1    0    44  | 45    3    86  | 58    7   200
  Marsh Lock               |  0    4    78  | 45    7   164  | 58    4   122
  Henley Bridge            |  0    7   109  | 46    7    53  | 57    4    13
  Hambledon Lock           |  2    2    35  | 49    1    88  | 55    1   198
  Medmenham Ferry          |  2    0    66  | 51    1   154  | 53    1   132
  Hurley Lock              |  1    4   168  | 52    6   102  | 51    4   184
  Temple Lock              |  0    5    23  | 53    3   125  | 50    7   161
  Marlow Bridge            |  1    3   201  | 54    7   106  | 49    3   180
  Marlow Lock              |  0    1   107  | 55    0   213  | 49    2    73
  Spade Oak Ferry          |  2    0   205  | 57    1   198  | 47    1    88
  Cookham Bridge           |  1    5    66  | 58    7    44  | 45    4    22
  Cookham Lower Ferry      |  0    4   110  | 59    3   154  | 44    7   132
  Cliefden Ferry           |  0    3    44  | 59    6   198  | 44    4    88
  Boulter's Lock           |  1    3   178  | 61    2   156  | 43    0   130
  Maidenhead Bridge        |  0    5    70  | 62    0     6  | 42    3    60
  Bray Lock                |  1    3   152  | 63    3   158  | 40    7   128
  Monkey Island            |  0    4   128  | 64    0    66  | 40    3     0
  Boveney Lock             |  2    5     0  | 66    5    66  | 37    6     0
  Windsor Bridge           |  1    7    90  | 68    4   156  | 35    6   130
  Romney Lock              |  0    3    96  | 69    0    32  | 35    3    34
  Victoria Bridge          |  0    6    34  | 69    6    66  | 34    5     0
  Albert Bridge            |  1    3     6  | 71    1    72  | 33    1   214
  Old Windsor Lock         |  0    6   214  | 72    0    66  | 32    3     0
  Magna Charta Island      |  1    3     0  | 73    3    66  | 31    0     0
  Bell Weir Lock           |  1    3   157  | 74    7     3  | 29    4    63
  Staines Bridge           |  0    7   195  | 75    6   198  | 28    4    88
  Penton Hook Lock         |  1    6   168  | 77    5   146  | 26    5   140
  Laleham Ferry            |  0    6   140  | 78    4    66  | 25    7     0
  Chertsey Lock            |  1    1     4  | 79    5    70  | 24    5   216
  Shepperton Lock          |  1    7   183  | 81    5    33  | 22    6    33
  Halliford Point          |  1    2    33  | 82    7    66  | 21    4     0
  Walton Bridge            |  0    6   156  | 83    6     2  | 20    5    64
  Sunbury Lock             |  1    5   130  | 85    3   132  | 18    7   154
  Hampton Ferry            |  2    0   110  | 87    4    22  | 16    7    44
  Moulsey Lock             |  0    6   110  | 88    2   132  | 16    0   154
  Thames Ditton            |  1    0   209  | 89    3   121  | 14    7   165
  Kingston Bridge          |  1    7    55  | 91    2   176  | 13    0   110
  Teddington Lock          |  1    6    88  | 93    1    44  | 11    2    22
  Eel Pie Island           |  1    1    22  | 94    2    66  | 10    1     0
  Richmond Bridge          |  1    4   140  | 95    6   206  |  8    4    80
  Kew Bridge               |  2    7   124  | 98    6   110  |  5    4   176
  Barnes Railway Bridge    |  2    0   178  |100    7    68  |  3    3   218
  Hammersmith Bridge       |  1    5   196  |102    5    44  |  1    6    22
  Putney Bridge            |  1    6    22  |104    3    66  |  0    0     0


BETWEEN PUTNEY BRIDGE AND LONDON BRIDGE.

                                            _m_.  _f_.
  Putney Bridge            to London Bridge   7   3-1/2
  Battersea Railway Bridge      "      "      5   5
  Battersea Bridge              "      "      5   0
  Chelsea Bridge                "      "      4   0
  Vauxhall Bridge               "      "      2   7-3/4
  Lambeth Bridge                "      "      2   3-1/4
  Westminster Bridge            "      "      1   7-3/4
  Charing Cross Railway Bridge  "      "      1   4-3/4
  Waterloo Bridge               "      "      1   2-3/4
  Blackfriars Bridge            "      "      0   6-1/4
  Southwark Bridge              "      "      0   2-1/2
  Cannon Street Railway Bridge  "      "      0   1-1/4
  =====================================================


BELOW LONDON BRIDGE.

                                     _m_.  _f_.
  Thames Tunnel to London Bridge       1    4
  Deptford Dockyard  "      "          3    5
  Deptford Creek     "      "          4    2
  Blackwall Pier     "      "          5    7
  Woolwich Arsenal   "      "          9    3-1/2
  Barking Creek      "      "         11    1
  Erith              "      "         15    6
  Dartford Creek     "      "         17    3
  Greenhithe         "      "         20    4
  Grays Thurrock     "      "         22    3-1/2
  Gravesend          "      "         25    1
  Mucking Creek      "      "         30    5
  Yantlet Creek      "      "         40    3-1/2
  Yantlet Creek to the Nore    5 miles (nautical)


/Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, London,
E.C./



FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: On this subject _see_ Goldie: "A Bygone Oxford;" and
Fletcher: "The Blackfriars in Oxford."]

[Footnote 2: Macray: "Notes from the Muniments of St. Mary Magdalen
College, Oxford."]

[Footnote 3: Wordsworth: "Scholæ Academicæ."]

[Footnote 4: Macaulay, "History of England."]

[Footnote 5: The old "Garter" Inn stood in the High Street, nearly
facing the Castle Hill, and adjoining the site of the present "White
Hart" Hotel. "Annals of Windsor" (Tighe & Davis).]

[Footnote 6: Pennant's "History of London."]

[Footnote 7: Tennyson's "Lotos-Eaters."]





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