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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: Old Country Life
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old Country Life" ***

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



Transcriber's Note

In the html version of this e-book, Midi, PDF, and MusicXML files have
been provided for the songs. To hear a song, click on the [Listen]
link. To view a song in sheet-music form, click on the [PDF] link. To
view MusicXML code for a song, click on the [MusicXML] link. All lyrics
are set forth in text below the music images.



                           OLD COUNTRY LIFE.



                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._


  =HISTORIC ODDITIES AND STRANGE EVENTS.=
      Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d.       [_Just published._

  =ARMINELL=: =A Social Romance.=
      3 vols., crown 8vo.      [_Now ready._

  =SONGS OF THE WEST=; Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of
    Devon and Cornwall, with their Traditional Melodies, by REV.
    S. BARING GOULD, M.A., and REV. H. FLEETWOOD SHEPPARD, M.A.,
    arranged for voice and pianoforte. Parts I. and II., 3s. each,
    _net_. Parts III. and IV. _in-preparation._

  =STRANGE SURVIVALS AND POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS.=
                               [_In Preparation._

  =YORKSHIRE ODDITIES.=
      New and Cheaper Edition. [_In the Press._

[Illustration: A Country Dance. _Frontispiece._]



                           OLD COUNTRY LIFE.

                                  BY
                        S. BARING GOULD, M.A.,

                               AUTHOR OF
                    "MEHALAH," "JOHN HERRING," ETC.

                       _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS_
             BY W. PARKINSON, F. D. BEDFORD, AND F. MASEY.

                                LONDON:
                METHUEN AND CO., 18, BURY STREET, W.C.

           PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.

                                 1890.

            [_The right of reproduction is reserved._]



                   RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
                         LONDON & BUNGAY.



                     CONTENTS.


    CHAP.                                   PAGE

       I. Old County Families                  1

      II. The Last Squire                     28

     III. Country Houses                      53

      IV. The Old Garden                      93

       V. The Country Parson                 116

      VI. The Hunting Parson                 146

     VII. Country Dances                     174

    VIII. Old Roads                          198

      IX. Family Portraits                   219

       X. The Village Musician               239

      XI. The Village Bard                   259

     XII. Old Servants                       284

    XIII. The Hunt                           315

     XIV. The County Town                    334



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


      Head and tail pieces to each chapter by F. D. Bedford.

                                                              PAGE

  Country Dance--_Frontispiece_              _W. Parkinson_

  Old Dames with their Factotum Butler          "   "            5

  Sydenham House, Devon                      _F. Masey_          7

  Wortham--An Empty Shell                       "   "           24

  Grimstone                                     "   "           29

  Madame Grym                                _W. Parkinson_     33

  Gryms, A Group of                          _From painting_    36

  Courtyard, Little Hempston                 _F. Masey_         57

  House at Little Hempston                      "   "           58

  Willsworthy                                _F. B. Bond_       59

     "  "     Plan                              "   "           60

  Kew Palace                                 _F. Masey_         63

  Tonacombe, North Cornwall                     "   "           68

  A Parlour Fireplace                        _F. B. Bond_       73

  Garden from Tapestry                          "   "           98

  Flaxley, from a print of 1714              _F. D. Bedford_   100

  A Town House Garden Front, Launceston      _F. Masey_        107

  Old Country Parsonage, Bratton-Clovelly    _F. D. Bedford_   121

  "   "   Parson in Cassock                  _W. Parkinson_    133

  Parson Chowne and Sally's Young Man           "   "          164

  Hippoclides before Clisthenes                 "   "          175

  Minuet being Danced                        _W. Parkinson_    196

  Packman's Way                              _F. D. Bedford_   204

  By the Road-side                              "   "          207

  An Old Travelling Carriage                 _F. Masey_        214

  Sir Edward, a.d. 1668                      _J. D. Cooper_    227

  N. a.d. 1888                                  "   "          227

  Lady Northcote                             _F. D. Bedford_   232

  Lady Young                                    "   "          232

  Old Church Orchestra                       _W. Parkinson_    243

  James Olver                                _From photo_      257

  John Helmore                               _F. D. Bedford_   278

  Richard Hard                                  "   "          279

  The Old Butler                             _W. Parkinson_    285

  The Hunt Passing                              "   "          316

  South Gate, Launceston                     _F. Masey_        335

  Cottages at Woking                            "   "          339

  London Inn, Launceston                        "   "          343

  Dockacre,     "   "                           "   "          349

  House at Launceston                           "   "          353

  Old Cart, Slate Quarry, Lew Trenchard      _F. D. Bedford_   358



OLD COUNTRY LIFE.



CHAPTER I.

OLD COUNTY FAMILIES.


[Illustration]

I wonder whether the day will ever dawn on England when our country
houses will be as deserted as are those in France and Germany? If
so, that will be a sad day for England. I judge from Germany. There,
after the Thirty Years' War, the nobles and gentry set-to to build
themselves mansions in place of the castles that had been burnt or
battered down. In them they lived till the great convulsion that shook
Europe and upset existing conditions social as well as political.
Napoleon overran Germany, and the nobles and gentry had not recovered
their losses during that terrible period before the State took
advantage of their condition to transfer the land to the peasantry.
This was not done everywhere, but it was so to a large extent in the
south. Money was advanced to the farmers to buy out their landlords,
and the impoverished nobility were in most cases glad to sell. They
disposed of the bulk of their land, retaining in some cases the
ancestral nest, and that only. No doubt that the results were good
in one way--but where is a good unmixed? The qualifying evil is
considerable in this case.

The gentry or nobility--the terms are the same on the Continent--went
to live in the towns. They could no longer afford to inhabit
their country mansions. They acquired a taste for town life, its
conveniences, its distractions, its amusements; they ceased to feel
interest in country pursuits; they only visited their mansions for
about eight weeks in the year, for the _Sommer-frische_. Those who
could not afford to furnish two houses, carted that amount of
furniture which was absolutely necessary to their country houses for
the holiday, and that concluded, carted it back to town again. This
state of things continues. Whilst the family is in residence at the
Schloss it lives economically; it is there for a little holiday; it
does not concern itself with the peasants, the sick, the suffering, the
necessitous. It is there--_pour s'amuser_. The consequence is that the
Schloss is without a civilizing influence, without moral force in the
place. The country folk have little interest in the family, and the
family concerns itself less with the people.

Not only so, but it brings little money into the place. It employs no
labour. It is there not to keep open house, but to shut up the purse.
In former days the landlord exacted his rents, but then he lived in the
midst of his tenants, and the money that came in as rent went out as
wage, and in payment for butter, eggs, meat, oats, and hay. The money
collected out of a place returned to it again. It is so in many country
places in England now where squire and parson live on the land.

In Germany the peasant has stepped out of obligation to the landlord
into bondage to the Jew, who receives, but spends nothing. In France
the condition is much the same; the great house is a ruin, and so,
very generally, is the family that occupies and owns it, if it still
lingers on in it.

I remember a stately château of the time of Louis XIV., tenanted by two
charming old ladies of the _ancienne noblesse_, with grand historic
names--the last leaves that fluttered on a great family tree, with
roots in the remote past; and they fluttered sere to their fall. They
walked out every evening in the park attended by their factotum, an old
serving-man, who was butler, coachman, gardener, and major-domo. They
kept but one female servant, who was cook, lady's-maid, laundress, and
house-maid. The old ladies are dead now, and the roof of the château
has fallen in. They had no money to spend on the house or in the
village, and never was there a village that more needed the circulation
in it of a little coin.

Great houses, with us, are only tenanted by their owners when the
London season is over; but that is for a good deal longer than the
German _Sommer-frische_; and when the family does come down, it is as
rain on a fleece of wool and as the drops that water the earth. It
fills the house with guests, and consumes nearly all the market produce
of the parish; and at that season, as the people of the place know,
money begins to circulate.

[Illustration: Old Dames with their Factotum Butler.]

It is not, however, my intention to speak of the great mansions of
the nobility, but of those of the squirearchy, who are in residence on
their estates all the year round.

These houses are elements of considerable blessing to the country. The
families of the squires are always in the midst of the people, know
the history, and wants, and infirmities of every one. They care for
the good of the district. The ladies look after the girls; the squire
attends to the condition of the roads and bridges; money is freely
spent in the district, and a considerable amount of culture and moral
restraint is acquired by those in the classes below, in the farm-houses
and the cottages. Such only who have been in parishes that have been
for generations squireless, and also in those where a resident family
has been planted for centuries, can appreciate the difference in
general tone among the people.

Should the time come when the county family will be taken away, then
the parish will feel for some time like a mouth from which a molar
has been drawn--there will be a vacancy that will cause unrest and
discomfort. The molar does not grind and champ to sustain itself alone,
but the entire body to which it belongs, and it is much the same with
the country squire.

[Illustration: Sydenham House, Devon.]

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there were far more resident
gentry in the country than there are at present. The number began
to dwindle in the eighteenth century. The registers of parishes are
instructive in this respect. In a parish there may have been but a
single manor, nevertheless there were in it some three or four gentle
families, of as good blood as the lord of the manor, inhabiting
bartons. Let us take a parish or two as examples. Ugborough in South
Devon has valuable registers dating from 1538. In the sixteenth
century we find in them the names of the following families, all of
gentle blood, occupying good houses--the Spealts, the Prideaux, the
Stures, the Fowels, the Drakes, the Glass family, the Wolcombes, the
Fountaynes, the Heles, the Crokers, the Percivals. In the seventeenth
century occur the Edgcumbes, the Spoores, the Stures, the Glass family
again, the Hillerdons, Crokers, Coolings, Heles, Collings, Kempthornes,
the Fowells, Williams, Strodes, Fords, Prideaux, Stures, Furlongs,
Reynolds, Hurrells, Fownes, Copplestons, and Saverys. In the eighteenth
century there are only the Saverys and Prideaux; by the middle of
the nineteenth these are gone. The grand old mansion of the Fowells
that passed to the Savery family is in Chancery, deserted save by a
caretaker, falling to ruins. What other mansions there were in the
place are now farm-houses.

Let us take another parish--Staverton. That had in it the grand
mansion, Barkington, of the Rowes, who owned other estates in the same
parish, in which were settled junior branches of the same family. All
have vanished, root and branch. The Woolstones had a noble estate
there. They are represented now by a clergyman in the neighbourhood.
The Prestons were estated there also; they are gone, and their place
knoweth them no more. My own family had two good houses there, Coombe
and Pridhamsleigh, from the beginning of the sixteenth century. Both
were sold at the end of last century. The Worths of Worth had estates
and a house there, and have only a fine monument in the church to
testify that they ever lived and died there. In another book I have
mentioned the instance of Bratton-Clovelly, where were the Coryndons,
Burnabys, Ellacots of Ellacot, Langfords of Langford, Calmadys,
Willoughbys, Incledons--all gone, and not one of their houses remaining
intact.

The country gentry in those days were not very wealthy. They lived very
much on the produce of the home farm, and their younger sons went into
trade, and their daughters, without any sense of degradation, married
yeomen.

In South Devon, at Slapton, lived in state the Amerideths, deriving
from Welsh princes. Griffith Amerideth was the first to settle in
Devon; he was a tailor and draper in Exeter, and died in 1559. He
married a daughter of a very good family, and his son married the
eldest daughter of Lewis Fortescue, one of the Barons of the Exchequer,
and his grandchildren married into the Fortescue, Rolle and Loveys
families, all of greatest position and fortune in the West.

It has been claimed for the Glanvilles that they are of Norman
extraction; they, however, became tanners at Whitchurch, where their
tan-pits remain to this day, though their mansion has lost all trace of
antiquity. Chief Justice Glanville, who came from this house, and died
in 1600, gave it splendour, yet his brother and nephew were not ashamed
of the tan-pits, and even allowed a daughter of the house to marry a
Tavistock blacksmith, and entered him as "faber" in the pedigree they
enrolled with the heralds. The Courtenays of Molland married their
daughters to farmers in the place. When, a few years ago, the late
Earl of Devon visited Molland, he met a hale old yeoman there named
Moggridge. He held out his hand to him; "Cousin," said he, "jump into
the carriage with me, and let us have a drive together; we have not met
for one hundred and eighty years." When the Woolstones of Staverton
registered their pedigree, they considered that there was nothing to be
ashamed of to enter one daughter as married to a "clothier," another to
an "agricola"--a yeoman.

It was quite another matter when one of the sons or daughters was
guilty of misconduct; then he or she was struck out of the pedigree.
I know of one or two little domestic scandals to which the registers
bear witness, and I know that in such cases those who have stained the
family name have not been recorded in the heralds' book. But that Joan
who married a blacksmith, or Nicolas who was an armourer in London
should be cancelled--God forbid!

My own conviction is, confirmed by a very close study of parochial
registers, that some of the very best blood in England is to be found
among the tradesmen of our county towns.

I know a little china and glass shop in the market-place of a small
country town. The name over the shop is peculiar, but I know that it
is one of considerable antiquity. In the reign of Henry VII. a Jewish
refugee settled in Cornwall. His son, a barber-surgeon, prospered,
and became Mayor of Liskeard. His children married well, mostly with
families of county position, and a son settled in the little town I
speak of, where he married one of the honourable family of Edgecumbe.
And now the lineal descendant of this man, in the male line, keeps a
little china shop. I know--what perhaps he does not--his arms, crest,
and motto, to which he has just claim.

Let us take another instance. When the lands of the Abbey of Tavistock
were made over to the Russell family, on one of the largest farms
or estates that belonged to the Abbey was seated a family that had
been for a long time hereditary tenants under the Abbot. In the same
position they continued, only under the Russells. In the reign of
Elizabeth or of James I. they built themselves a handsome residence,
with hall and mullioned windows, and laid out the grounds, and dug
fish-ponds about this mansion. They also acquired lands of their own;
amongst other estates a house that had belonged to the Speccots. They
produced a sheriff of the county in the eighteenth century. As late as
1820 they were seated in their grand old mansion. Then--how I cannot
tell--there came a collapse. They lost the house and lands they had
held since the thirteenth century; the Duke of Bedford pulled down the
house, and the family is now represented by a surgeon, a hairdresser,
and a hatter. The coat of arms borne by this family is found in every
book of heraldry, it is so remarkable--a woman's breast distilling milk.

Sir Bernard Burke, in his _Vicissitudes of Families_, tells the
pathetic tale of the fall of the great baronial family of Conyers.
The elder line became extinct in 1731, when the baronetcy fell to
Ralph Conyers, Chester-le-street, _a glazier_, whose father, John,
was grandson of the first Baronet. Sir Ralph intermarried with Jane
Blackiston, the eventual heiress of the Blackistons of Shieldun, a
family not less ancient. His eldest son, Sir Blackiston Conyers, the
heir of two ancient houses, derived from them little more than his
name. He went into the navy, where he reached the rank of lieutenant,
and became on leaving the navy collector of the port of Newcastle. He
died without a son, and his title and property went to his nephew, Sir
George, whose mother was a lady of Lord Cathcart's family. In three
years this young fellow squandered the property and died, leaving the
barren title to his uncle, Thomas Conyers, who, after an unsuccessful
attempt at a humble business, in his seventy-second year was residing
as a pauper in the workhouse of Chester-le-Street.

Mr. Surtees bestirred himself in his favour, collected a little
subscription, which enabled the old baronet to leave the workhouse.
This was in 1810, and he died soon after, leaving three daughters
married to labouring men in the little town of Chester-le-Street.

I have already mentioned the Coryndons of Bratton-Clovelly. It was a
family not of splendour but of antiquity.

In 1620, when they registered their pedigree, they began with one Roger
Coryndon, "who cam out of the Easterne parts and lived at Bratton neere
200 yeares since." There they remained till the beginning of this
century, the property passing through the hands of a John Coryndon,
barber of Exeter; a Thomas Coryndon, a tailor there; and George
Coryndon, a wheelwright in Plymouth dockyard in 1748, whose son in a
title-deed signs himself "gentleman," as he was perfectly justified in
doing.

A family may be ruined by extravagance, but it is not always through
ruin that the representatives it a family are to be found in humble
or comparatively humble circumstances; but that the junior members
of a gentle family went into trade. The occasion of that irruption of
false pride relative to "soiling the hands with trade," was the great
change that ensued after Queen Anne's reign. When the trade of the
country grew, great fortunes were made in business, at the same time
that the landed gentry had become impoverished, first through their
losses in the Civil War, then by the extravagance of the period of
the Restoration, together with drinking and gambling. Vast numbers of
estates changed hands, passed away from the old aristocracy into the
possession of men who had amassed fortunes in trade, and it was among
the children of these rich retired tradesmen that there sprang up such
a contempt for whatever savoured of the shop and the counting-house. I
know a horse that had been wont to draw an apple-cart for an itinerant
vendor of fruit. He had several admirable points about him, indications
that showed he was qualified to make a good carriage-horse. He was
bought by a dealer, and sold to a squire. Then he was groomed, put into
silvered harness, and became a favourite with the ladies as a docile
beast to drive in a low carriage. One day as his mistress was taking
out a friend in the trap, she told her the story of the horse. At the
word "apple-cart" back went the ears of the brute, and he kicked the
carriage to pieces. After this it was quite sufficient to visit the
stable and to mention "apple-cart" to set the horse kicking. Which
story may be applied to what has been said about the _nouveaux-riches_
of Queen Anne's time and trade.

It has often struck observers that wherever an important county family
has resided for many generations, there are to be found among the poor
many families bearing the same name, and it is rashly concluded that
these are scions of the ancient stock.

It does so happen sometimes that these cottagers represent the old
family, but only very rarely. Representatives are far more likely to be
found as yeomen or tradesmen. The bearing of the name is no guarantee
to filiation, even irregular; for it was by no means infrequent for
servants to bear their masters' names; and the cottagers bearing the
proud names of Courtenay, Berkley, Percy, Devereux, probably have not
one drop of the noble blood of these families in their veins. But this
is a subject to which I will return when speaking about old servants.

Now let us consider what was the origin of our county families.

Some have been estated, lords of manors, for many centuries, but these
are few and far between. Then comes a whole class of men who worked
themselves up from being yeomen, small owners into great owners, by
thrift and moderation. I know some cases of small holders of land, who
have held their little properties for three or four centuries, but who
have never advanced in the social scale. Others have added field to
field, have taken advantage of the improvidence of their neighbours,
and have bought them out. Then they have risen to become gentry. But
the most numerous class is that of the well-to-do merchants, who have
bought lands and founded families. In my own county of Devon this is
the history of the origin of a considerable number of those families
which claimed a right to bear arms, and proved their pedigrees before
the heralds at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Dartmouth,
Totnes, Exeter, Bideford, Barnstaple--all the great commercial
centres--saw the building up of county families. The same process which
began in the reign of Elizabeth has continued to this day, and will
continue so long as the possession of a country house and of acres
proves attractive; and may it long so continue, for what else does this
mean than the bringing of money into country places, and not of money
only, but of intelligence, culture, and good fellowship?

One of the most extraordinary phenomena of social history in our land
is the way in which the landed aristocracy have become extinct in the
male line; how families of note have disappeared, as though engulfed
like Korah and his company. Recklessness of living and ruin will not
account for this. It is not that they have parted with their acres that
surprises us, but the way in which the families have disappeared, as if
snuffed out altogether.

It is feasible--I do not say easy--to trace a family of quite ordinary
position with certainty through many generations. Whoever had any
property made a will, or, if he neglected to make a will, had an
administration of his effects taken by the next of kin after his death;
and will or administration tell us about the man and where he lived.
Then we refer to the parish registers, and with their assistance get
some more information. There are other means by which additional matter
may be acquired. Thus it is quite possible to draw a pedigree--a
genuine, well-authenticated one--of almost any tradesman's or yeoman's
family from the time of Elizabeth.

Now Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian has spent infinite pains in tracing the
genealogies of those families in the West of England which bore arms,
and were accounted gentle at the beginning of the seventeenth century
down to the present day. For this purpose he has searched all the wills
extant relative to Devon and Cornwall, and most of the parish registers
in these counties. Consequently, we can take his conclusions as being
as reliable as they can well be made.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the heralds made periodical
visitations of the counties, and noted down the pedigrees of the gentle
families, enrolled such as had a right to bear arms, and disqualified
as _ignobiles_ such as had assumed the position and arms of a gentleman
without legitimate title.

In the county of Devon there were visitations by the heralds in 1531,
1564, 1572, and 1620, this last was the final visitation made. Now in
the lists then drawn up appear fourteen gentle families under letter A,
forty-seven under B, sixty-three under C.

Of the fourteen whose names began with A, the Aclands alone remain.
Of the forty-seven whose names began with B, only five remain. Of
the sixty-three under C, fifty-eight are gone. Some few linger on,
represented in the female line, but such are not included, though the
descendants may have taken the ancient name.

How are we to account for this amazing extinction? The families were
prolific, but apparently those most prolific most rapidly exhausted
their vitality.

The Arscotts go back to the beginning of the reign of Henry VI., and
spread over the north of Devon. John Arscott of Arscott, who died in
1563, had eight sons. His eldest son Humphry had indeed but two, but of
these, the eldest and heir had two, and the second had six; yet in 1634
the estates devolved on a daughter.

John Arscott in 1563 had three brothers. Of these the next, Thomas,
married a Bligh in 1551, and had four sons. Of these the descendants of
one alone can be traced to a certain Roseclear Arscott of Holsworthy,
who left four sons; all these died without issue. The son and heir is
buried at Whitchurch, near Tavistock, with the laconic entry--"Charles
Arscott, gent., of age, but not worth £300; buried 23 March, 1704-5."

The third of the four--of whom John Arscott was the eldest--was
Richard, who left four sons. Of these the second, Humphry, was the
father of seven, and Tristram, the eldest, of two. Tristram's family
died out in the male line in 1620. Of the seven sons of Humphry all
traces have disappeared. The fourth was John Arscott of Tetcott,
he, like his elder brothers, a man of good estate. His family became
extinct in the male line in 1788.

The Crymes family, of Buckland Monachorum, was vastly prolific. William
Crymes, who died in 1621, had _nine_ sons; of these, as far as is
known, only three married--William, Lewis, and Ferdinando. William left
but one son; Lewis had a son who died in infancy, and that son only;
Ferdinando had a son of the same name, whose only son died within a
year of his birth. Ellis Crymes, the son of William, and inheritor of
the estate, married twice, and had by his first wife, a daughter of Sir
Francis Drake, as many as _ten_ sons; by his second wife he had _six_
more. Of the ten first only eight had children; and of the offspring
of the second batch of six not a single grandchild male lived. In two
generations after this prolific Ellis with his sixteen sons, the whole
family disappears. I do not say that it is absolutely blotted out of
the land of the living, but it is no longer represented in the county,
nor can it be traced further.

I can give an excellent example in my own family, as I have taken great
pains to trace all the ramifications. In the Visitation of 1620, John
Gould of Coombe in Staverton is represented as father of seven sons;
and Prince, who wrote his _Worthies of Devon_, published in 1701, in
mentioning the family, comments on its great expansion; yet of all
these sons, who, one would have supposed, would have half peopled the
county, but a single male lineal representative remains, and he is over
fifty, and unmarried.

The Heles were one of the most widely-spread and deeply-rooted families
in the West of England. At an assize in Exeter in 1660, when Matthew
Hele was high-sheriff, the entire grand-jury, numbering about twenty,
was all composed of men of substance and quality, and all bearing the
name of Hele. Where are they now? Vanished, root and branch.

Where are the Dynhams, once holding many lordships in Devon? Gone,
leaving an empty shell--their old manor-house of Wortham--to show where
they had been.

In the seventeenth century John Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester, father
of Sir Orlando Bridgeman, and ancestor of the Earl of Bradford, bought
the fine old mansion, Great Levers, that had at one time belonged to
the Lever family, then had passed to the Ashtons. He reglazed his hall
window, that was in four compartments, with coats of arms. In the first
light he inserted the armorial bearings of the Levers, with the motto
"_Olim_" (Formerly); in the next the arms of the Ashtons, with the
legend, "_Heri_" (Yesterday); then his own, with the text, "_Hodie_"
(To-day); and he left the fourth and last compartment without a
blazoning, but with the motto, "_Cras, nescio cujus_" (Whose to-morrow,
I know not).

[Illustration: An Empty Shell.]

Possibly one reason for the extinction, or apparent extinction, of
the squirarchal families is, that the junior branches did not keep
up their connexion with the main family trunk, and so in time all
reminiscence of cousinship disappeared; and yet, this is not so likely
to have occurred in former times, when families held together in a
clannish fashion, as at present.

When Charles, thirteenth Duke of Norfolk, had completed his restoration
of Arundel Castle, he proposed to entertain all the descendants of
his ancestor, Jock of Norfolk, who fell at Bosworth, but gave up the
intention on finding that he would have to invite upwards of six
thousand persons.

In the reign of James I., Lord Montague desired leave of the king to
cut off the entail of some land that had been given to his ancestor,
Sir Edward Montague, chief justice in the reign of Henry VIII., with
remainder to the Crown; and he showed the king that it was most
unlikely that it ever would revert to the Crown, as at that time there
were alive four thousand persons derived from the body of Sir Edward,
who died in 1556. In this case the noble race of Montague has lasted,
and holds the Earldom of Sandwich, and the Dukedom and Earldom of
Manchester. The name of Montague now borne by the holder of the Barony
of Rokeby is an assumption, the proper family name being Robinson.

"When King James came into England," says Ward in his _Diary_, "he was
feasted at Boughton by Sir Edward Montague, and his six sons brought up
the six first dishes. Three of them were lords, and three more knights."

Fuller in his _Worthies_ records that "Hester Sandys, the wife of Sir
Thomas Temple, of Stowe, Bart., had four sons and nine daughters,
which lived to be married, and so exceedingly multiplied, that she
saw seven hundred extracted from her body," yet--what became of the
Temples? The estate of Stowe passed out of the male line with Hester,
second daughter of Sir Richard Temple, who married Richard Grenville,
and she was created Countess Temple with limitation to the heirs male
of her body. There is at present a (Sir) Grenville Louis John Temple,
great-great-grandson to (Sir) John Temple, who in 1786 assumed the
baronetcy conferred upon Sir Thomas Temple of Stowe in 1611. This
(Sir) John, who was born at Boston, in the United States, assumed
the baronetcy on the receipt of a letter from the then Marquis of
Buckingham, informing him of the death of Sir Richard Temple in 1786;
but the heirship has not been proved, and there exists a doubt whether
the claim can be substantiated.[1]

Innocent XIII. (1721-4) boasted that he had nine uncles, eight
brothers, four nephews, and seven grandnephews. He thought, and
others thought with him, that the Conti family was safe to spread and
flourish. Yet, a century later, and not a Conti remained.

In the following chapter I will tell the story of the extinction of
a family that was of consequence and wealth in the West of England,
owning a good deal of land at one time. The story is not a little
curious, and as all the particulars are known to me, I am able to
relate it with some minuteness. It affords a picture of a condition of
social life sufficiently surprising, and at a period by no means remote.

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Foster, _Baronetage_, 1880. See Chaos, p. 653.



CHAPTER II.

THE LAST SQUIRE.


[Illustration]

In a certain wild and picturesque region of the west, which commands
a noble prospect of Dartmoor, in a small but antique mansion, which
we will call Grimstone, lived for generations a family called Grym.
This family rose to consequence after the last heralds' visitation,
consequently did not belong to the aboriginal gentry of the county. It
produced a chancellor, and an Archbishop of Canterbury.

[Illustration: Grimstone.]

The family mansion is still standing, with granite mullioned windows
and quaint projecting porch, over which is a parvise. A pair of carved
stone gate-posts give access to the turf plot in front of the house.
The mighty kitchen with three fireplaces shows that the Gryms were a
hospitable race, who would on high days feed a large number of guests,
and the ample cellars show that they did more than feed them. I cannot
recall any library in the house, unless, perhaps, the porch-room were
intended for books; if so, it continued to be intended for them only.

The first man of note in the family who lived at Grimstone was
Brigadier John Grym of the Guards, born in 1699, a fine man and a
gallant soldier. He had one son, of the same name as himself, a
man amiable, weakly in mind, and of no moral force and decision of
character. His father and mother were a little uneasy about him because
he was so infirm of purpose; they put their heads together, and
concluded that the best thing to do for him was to marry him to a woman
who had in abundance those qualities in which their son was deficient.
Now there lived about four miles off, in a similar quaint old mansion,
a young lady of very remarkable decision of character. She was poor,
and one of a large family. She at once accepted the offer made her in
John Grym's name by the Brigadier and his wife, and became Madame John
Grym, and on the death of the Brigadier, Madame Grym, and despotic
reigning queen of Grimstone, who took the reins of government into her
firm hands, and never let them out of them. The saying goes, when woman
drives she drives to the devil, and madame did not prove an exception.

The marriage had taken place in 1794; the husband died six years later,
but madame survived till 1835. Throughout the minority of her eldest
son John, that is to say, for sixteen or seventeen years, she had the
entire, uncontrolled management of the property, and she managed pretty
well in that time to ruin the estate.

She was a litigious woman, always at strife with her neighbours, proud
and ambitious. Her ambition was to extend the bounds of the property,
but she had not the capital to dispose of to enable her to pay for
the lands she purchased, and which were mortgaged to two-thirds of
their value. She borrowed money at five and six per cent., and bought
property with it that rendered only three and a half.

[Illustration: Madame Grym.]

She attended the parish vestries, where she made her will felt, and
pursued with implacable animosity such farmers or landowners as did
not submit to her dictation. She drove a pair of ponies herself, but
whilst driving had her mind so engaged in her schemes that she forgot
to attend to the beasts; they sometimes ran away with her, upset her,
and she was found on more than one occasion senseless by the roadside,
and her carriage shattered hard by.

As her affairs became worse, more and more intricately involved, she
began to be alarmed lest she should be arrested for debt. For security
she had a house or pavilion erected in which to take refuge should the
officers of the law come for her. This had a secret chamber, or well,
made in the thickness of the walls, accessible from an upper loft
through a trap-door. When she had received warning that she was being
looked for, she fled to the loft. The trap was raised, and madame was
lowered into the well on a carpet or sheet, then the trap was closed
and covered with a mat. She had recourse to this place of concealment
on several occasions, and the secret of the hiding-nest was not
revealed till after her death.

The pavilion still stands, but has been converted into a barn, and all
the internal arrangements have been altered.

When defeated in an action against a neighbour, on success in which she
had greatly set her heart, she brought an action against the lawyer who
had conducted her case, charging him with having wilfully understated
her claims, withheld evidence, and acted in collusion with the other
side. She lost, of course, and being unable to pay costs, escaped to
London; there she died. It is said that when the judgment was given
against her the church bells were rung, so unpopular had she become.

In London she died, and her son, fearing lest her body should be
arrested for debt, had her packed in bran, in a grand-piano case, and
sent down by water to Plymouth, whence it was conveyed by waggon, as
a piano, to Grimstone. The bill for the packing of madame in bran in
a piano case is still extant. The waggoner who drove her in this case
from Plymouth did not die till the other day.

At the time when she was in constant alarm of a warrant and execution,
the portable plate of the house, to the weight of about fifty pounds,
was daily intrusted to one of the labourers on the farm, who carried
it about with him, and when at work put it in the hedge, and threw his
jacket over it.

On one occasion, when the bailiffs were expected, she was afraid lest
her gig should be taken, and before retiring into her well, she had it
lifted by ropes and concealed under hay above the stable.

[Illustration: A Group of Gryms.]

She left two sons, John, the elder, the heir to Grimstone, and Ralph,
the younger. Both inherited the self-will, strength of character, and
vindictiveness of the mother, but the younger assuredly in double
measure. No sooner was she dead, than the brothers flew at each other's
throats, or, to be more exact, Ralph flew at that of his more fortunate
brother, if it can be called fortunate to inherit an encumbered estate,
mortgaged almost to its value. Ralph instituted a Chancery suit
against John. The younger brother remained in the parish, residing in
another house, and occasionally accompanied his brother John when out
shooting, and they met in the hunting-field.

One day when they were out rabbiting together, Ralph's gun suddenly
went off, and riddled his brother's beaver hat. John vowed that a
deliberate attempt had been made on his life by his brother. He
forbade him his house, and thenceforth would no more associate with
him in field sports. Ralph before his mother's death had been put in
a solicitor's office, but had been dismissed from it for falling on a
fellow-clerk with a pistol and attempting to shoot him. John remembered
this, and if he mistrusted his brother, it was not altogether without
cause.

Now that he could no longer go to Grimstone, and found himself regarded
askance by the neighbours, Ralph went up to town, where, having
connexions in good position, he got introduced into society, and he
made the acquaintance of a very charming girl with a small fortune at
her own disposal, of six thousand pounds. He was a remarkably handsome
young man, with flashing blue eyes, and bold, well-chiselled features,
an erect bearing, and a brusque, haughty manner. It is perhaps hardly
to be wondered at that, with his personal good looks, and with his
indomitable will, he should bear down all opposition on the part of the
young lady's friends, and induce her to throw in her lot with him.

According to the marriage settlement, half the wife's fortune was to
be at his disposal. It is almost unnecessary to say, that he managed
to get rid of that within a twelvemonth. Thereupon ensued a series of
persecutions as mean as they were cruel. His object was to force her
to surrender the second three thousand pounds. He attempted to cajole
her out of this, and when he failed by this means, he endeavoured to
frighten her into submission. To do this he put a pistol under the
pillow, and when she was asleep at his side, discharged the pistol over
her head. Then he pretended that he had missed his mark, but assured
her he would not fail another time.

She had, fortunately, sufficient resolution to resist intimidation.
Whether she would have succumbed in the end we cannot say, but,
luckily for her, he was arrested for costs in the Chancery suit
against his brother, and was lodged in the prison of King's Bench,
where he remained for seven years. Bethell, afterwards Lord Westbury,
was counsel against him. Ralph Grym conducted his own case. Every now
and then he was brought from prison into court, as some fresh stage
of the case was entered upon, and then returned to his detention. One
day Bethell informed the judge that he moved for an "abatement," owing
to the death of one of the parties involved in the suit. This was the
first tidings Ralph Grym received of the decease of his brother-in-law,
who with his brother John was party in the suit. His brother now
abandoned the action, and Ralph was let out of King's Bench. He at once
returned to the neighbourhood of Grimstone, and sent a message to his
brother on the very first night of his return that he had a gun; that
he was passionately fond of shooting; that for seven or eight years he
had been debarred the pleasure; that his hand had become shaky; and
that--in all human probability, when he was out shooting, should John
come in sight, his gun would go off accidentally, and on this occasion
_not_ perforate the beaver.

John took the hint and remained indoors, whilst Ralph shot when and
what he liked over his brother's grounds. But this was a condition of
affairs so intolerable, that John deemed it expedient to come to terms
with his brother, give him five hundred pounds, and pack him off to
London.

Furnished with this sum, Ralph returned to town, and there set up
livery stables. He was himself a first-rate rider, and he taught
ladies riding, and conducted riding parties in Epping forest. He made
money by purchasing good-looking horses that were faulty in one or two
particulars, at some ten pounds or fifteen pounds, and as his horses
were well turned out, and well bred, he had the credit of mounting his
customers well. And he was not indisposed to sell some of these for
very considerable sums.

Thus passed three or four years, the happiest in his life, and he
might have continued his livery stables, had he not quarrelled with
a groom and fought him. He was thrown, and dislocated his hip. This
was badly set; it was a long job, and he was never again able to ride
comfortably. His business went back, he lost his customers, and failed.
Then, without a penny in his pocket, he returned to Devon, and to the
neighbourhood of Grimstone, and lodged with the tenants on the estate.

Utterly ruined in means and in credit, he became a burden to his hosts.
They declined to entertain him wholly and severally, so he slept in one
farmhouse, and had his meals in one or another of the neighbouring
farms. His brother refused to see him, defied his threats, and denied
him money.

This went on for some time. At length his hosts plainly informed him
that he was no longer welcome. He was not an agreeable guest, was
exacting, insolent, and violent. They met in consultation, sent round
the hat, collected a small subvention; and then a gig was got ready,
the money thrust into his hand, and he was mounted in the trap to
be driven off to the nearest railway station, where he might take a
ticket for London, or Jericho. The gig was at the door, and Ralph was
settling himself into it, when a man, breathless and without a hat,
arrived running from Grimstone, to say that John Grym, his brother,
had suddenly fallen down dead. The trap that was to take Ralph away
now conveyed him to the mansion of his ancestors, to take possession
as heir, and he carried off with him the proceeds of the subscription
among the tenants.

John had died without issue, and intestate. Ralph found in the house
five hundred pounds in gold, a thousand pounds' worth of stock was on
the farm, three hundred pounds' worth of wool was in store, and there
was much family plate and some family jewels.

Ralph's character from this moment underwent a change. When in town
he had lived as a prodigal, and squandered his money as it came in,
was freehanded and genial. In the year of Bloomsbury, when the Derby
was run in snow, he won three thousand pounds by a bet, when he had
not three-halfpence of his own. Next year he won on the turf fifteen
hundred pounds; but money thus made slipped through his fingers. No
sooner, however, was he squire of Grimstone than he became a miser, and
that so suddenly, that he had to be sued in the County Court for the
cheap calico he had ordered for a shroud for his brother. He became the
hardest of landlords and the harshest of masters.

With his wife he was not reconciled. Repeated efforts were made by
well-intentioned persons to re-unite them. He protested his willingness
to receive her, but only on the condition that she made over to him the
remaining three thousand pounds of her property. To this condition she
had the wisdom not to accede. Before he was imprisoned she had borne
him a daughter, whom we will call Rosalind. He made many attempts to
get possession of the child, in the hopes of thereby extorting the
money from the mother.

Before he became squire, Mrs. Grym lived in a small house near
Grimstone, on the interest of the three thousand pounds, of course in a
very small way. On one occasion she was called to town, and was unable
to take little Rosalind with her. She accordingly conveyed the child
to the house of a neighbouring rector, and entreated that she might be
kept there till her return, and be on no account surrendered to the
father should he attempt to claim her.

A couple of Sundays after her departure, between ten and eleven in the
morning, Ralph Grym appeared at the parsonage, and asked to see the
rector. He was admitted, and after a little preliminary conversation,
stated his desire to have an interview with his child, then aged five.
This could not be refused. The little girl was introduced, and Ralph
talked to her, and played with her.

In the meantime the bells for service were ringing. The bell changed to
the last single toll, five minutes before divine worship began, and Mr.
Grym made no signs of being in a hurry to depart.

The rector, obliged to attend to his sacred duties, drew his son aside,
a boy of sixteen, and said to him, "Harry, keep your eye on Rosalind,
and on no account suffer Mr. Grym to carry her off."

The boy accordingly remained at home.

"Well, young shaver," said Ralph, "what are you staying here for?"

"My father does not wish me to go to church this morning."

"Rosalind," said her father, "go, fetch your bonnet, and come a walk
with me. I have some peppermints in my pocket."

The child, highly elated, got herself ready. Henry, the rector's son,
also prepared to go out.

"Young shaver, we don't want you," said Ralph, rudely.

"My father ordered me to take a walk this morning, sir."

"There are two ways--I and Rosalind go one, and you the other," said
Ralph.

"My father bade me on no account leave Rosalind."

Ralph growled and went on, the boy following. Mr. Grym led the way for
six miles, and the child became utterly wearied. The father made every
effort to shake off the boy. He swore at him, he threatened him, money
he had not got to offer him; all was in vain. At last, when the little
girl sat down exhausted, and began to cry, the father with an oath left
her.

"That," said Henry, in after life, "was the first time I had to do
with Ralph Grym, and then I beat him."

Many years after he had again to stand as Rosalind's protector against
Ralph, then striking at his child with a dead hand, and again he beat
him.

After her mother's death Ralph invited his daughter to Grimstone, but
only with the object of extorting from her the three thousand pounds
she had inherited from her mother. When she refused to surrender this,
he let her understand that her presence was irksome to him. He shifted
the hour of dinner from seven to nine, then to ten, and finally gave
orders that no dinner was to be served for a week. Still she did not go.

"I want your room, Rosalind," he said roughly; "I have a friend coming."

"The house is large, there are plenty of apartments; he shall have
mine, I will move into another."

"I want all the rooms."

"I see you want to drive me away."

"I beg you will suit yourself as to the precise hour to-morrow when you
leave."

Again, after some years, was Rosalind invited to Grimstone; but it
was with the same object, never abandoned. On this occasion, when old
Ralph found that she was resolute not to surrender the three thousand
pounds, he turned her out of doors at night, and she was forced to take
refuge at the poor little village tavern. He never forgave her.

Squire Grym was rough to his tenants. One man, the village clerk, had a
field of his, and Ralph suddenly demanded of him two pounds above the
rent the man had hitherto paid. As he refused, Ralph abruptly produced
a horse-pistol, presented it at the man's head, and said,

"Put down the extra two pounds, or I will blow your brains out."

The clerk was a sturdy fellow, and was undaunted. He looked the squire
steadily in the eye, and answered--

"I reckon _her_ (_i. e._ the pistol), though old and risty, won't miss,
for if her _does_, I reckon your brains 'll make a purty mess on the
carpet."

Ralph lowered the pistol with an oath, and said no more. He was a
suspicious man, and fancied that all those about him conspired to rob
him. When he bore a grudge against a man, or suspected him, he required
some of his tenants to give evidence against the man; he himself
prepared the story they were to swear to, and drilled them into the
evidence they were to give. The tenant who refused to do as he bid was
never forgiven.

He was never able to keep a bailiff over a twelvemonth. When he died,
at an age over eighty, in his vindictiveness against his daughter,
because she had refused him the three thousand pounds, he left
everything of which he was possessed to the bailiff then in his house.
How the boy who had saved Rosalind from being carried off by her father
many years before, and who was now a solicitor, came to her aid, and
secured for her something out of the spoils, is history too recent to
be told here.

Thus ended the family of Grym of Grimstone, and thus did the old house
and old acres pass away into new hands.

Such is the story of the extinction of one family. Others have been
snuffed out, or have snuffed themselves out, in other ways; strangely
true it is, that of the multitudes of old county families that once
lived in England, few remain on their paternal inheritance.

As I have told the story of the ruin of one family, I will conclude
this chapter with that of the saving of another when trembling on the
brink of ruin. Again I will give fictitious names. The St. Pierres
were divided into two main branches, the one seated on a considerable
estate on the Dart, near Ashburton, the other on a modest property near
the Tamar, on the Devonshire side. In 1736 died Edward St. Pierre, the
last male representative of the elder branch, when he left his property
to the representative of the junior, William Drake St. Pierre. This
latter had an only son, Edward, and a daughter. He was married to a
woman of considerable force of character. On his death in 1766, Edward,
then aged twenty-six, came in for a very large property indeed; he was
in the Dragoons, and a dare-devil, gambling fellow. He eloped with a
married lady, and lived with her for some years. She died, and was
buried at Bath Abbey. He never married, but continued his mad career
till his death.

One day he had been gambling till late, and had lost every guinea he
had about him. Then he rode off, put a black mask over his face, and
waylaid the man who had won the money of him, and on his appearance
challenged him to deliver. The man recognized him, and incautiously
exclaimed, "Oh, Edward St. Pierre! I did not think this of you!"

"You know me, do you?" was the reply, and Edward St. Pierre shot him
dead.

Now there had been a witness, a man who had seen Captain Edward take up
his position, and who, believing him to be a highwayman, had secreted
himself, and waited his time to escape.

Edward St. Pierre was tried for the murder. Dunning of Ashburton, then
a rising lawyer, was retained to defend him. It was essential to weaken
or destroy the testimony of the witness. Dunning had recourse to an
ingenious though dishonest device. The murder had been committed when
the moon was full, or nearly full, so that in the brilliant white light
every object was as clear as by day.

Dunning procured a pocket almanack, removed the sheet in which was the
calendar of the month of the murder, and had it reprinted at the same
press, or at all events with exactly similar type, altering the moons,
so as to make no moon on the night in question.

On the day of trial he left this almanack in his great-coat pocket,
hanging up in the ante-room of the court. The trial took place, and the
witness gave his evidence.

"How could you be sure that the man on horseback was Captain St.
Pierre?" asked the judge.

"My Lord, the full moon shone on him. I knew his horse; I knew his
coat. Besides, when he had shot the other he took off his mask."

"The full moon was shining, do you say?"

"Yes, my Lord; I saw his face by the clear moonlight."

"Pass me a calendar. Who has got a calendar?" asked the judge.

At that time almanacks were not so plentiful as they are now. As it
happened no one present had one. Then Dunning stood up, and said,--

"My Lord, I had one yesterday, and I put it, I think, in the pocket of
my overcoat. If your Lordship will send an apparitor into the ante-room
to search my pocket, it may there be found."

The calendar was produced--there was no moon. The evidence against the
accused broke down, and he was acquitted.

This was considered at the time a clever move of Mr. Dunning; it
occurred to no one that it was immoral. Captain St. Pierre had to pay
Dunning heavily; in fact, he made over to him a portion of the estate
in lieu of paying in cash, and later, when he became further involved,
he sold the property to the Barings. Dunning was created Baron
Ashburton, but the title became extinct with his son, who bequeathed
his property to Alexander Baring, his first cousin, who was elevated
to the peerage under the title of Baron Ashburton, and the St. Pierre
property now belongs to Lord Ashburton.

Captain Edward St. Pierre died in 1788, without issue, and his sister
became his heir; but he had got rid of everything he could get rid of.
Only the estate near the Tamar had been saved from sale by his mother
taking it of him on a lease for ninety-nine years. She was residing on
it when the news reached her that her good-for-nothing son was dead.

He had died at Shaldon, near Teignmouth, on the 29th June, and his last
request was that he might be carried to Bath, and laid by the side of
the woman he had wronged.

When his mother received the tidings of his death she was in
uncertainty what to do. All the last night of June to the dawn of July
1, she sat in one tall-backed arm-chair, musing what to do with the
rest of her life. Should she go to Bath, and spend the remainder of her
days at cards, amusing herself? or should she devote it to a country
life, and to repairing the shattered fortunes of the family?

When morning broke her mind was made up. She would adopt the nobler,
the better cause; and she carried it out to the end. As each farm fell
vacant in the parish she took it into her own hands, and farmed it
herself, and succeeded so well, that when the rival gentle family in
the parish, owning a handsome barton there, fell into difficulties,
she bought their estate, so as to make some amends for the loss of the
Ashburton property. That the chair in which the old lady sat meets with
respect _ça va sans dire_.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER III.

COUNTRY HOUSES.


[Illustration]

What a feature in English scenery is the old country house! Compare the
seat that has been occupied for many generations with the new mansion.
The former with its embowering trees, its lawns and ancient oaks, its
avenues of beech, the lofty, flaky Scotch pines in which the rooks
build, and about which they wheel and caw; and the latter with new
plantations, the evidence everywhere present of hedges pulled down,
manifest in the trees propped up on hunches of clay.

There is nothing so striking to the eye on a return to England from
the Continent as the stateliness of our trees. I do not know of any
trees in Europe to compare with ours. It is only with us that they
are allowed to grow to advanced age, and die by inches; only with us
are they given elbow-room to expand into the full plenitude of their
growth. On the Continent every tree is known to the police, when it was
planted, when it attains its maximum of growth; and then, down it comes.

Horace Walpole had no love of the country--indeed, he hated it, and
regarded the months that he spent in Norfolk as intolerable. He laments
in a letter to Sir Horace Mann (Oct. 3rd, 1743), that the country
houses of the nobility and gentry of England are scattered about in the
country, and are not moved up to town, where they would make streets
of palaces, like those of the great people of Florence, and Genoa, and
Bologna. "Think what London would be if the chief houses were in it,
as in the cities of other countries, and not dispersed, like great
rarity-plums in a vast pudding of country."

It is precisely because our most noble mansions are in the country, in
a setting of their own, absolutely incomparable, of park and grove,
that they are unsurpassed for loveliness anywhere. Framed in by pines
and deciduous trees, copper beech and silver poplar, with shrubberies
of azalea in every range of colour, from scarlet, through yellow to
white, and rhododendrons full of bloom from early spring to midsummer,
and double cherry, almond, medlar. Why, the very framing makes an ugly
country house look sweet and homelike.

But beautiful as are the parks and grounds about our gentlemen's
houses, they are but a remnant of what once was. We see in our old
churches, in our mansions, that oak grew in profusion in England at one
time, and reached sizes we cannot equal now. Great havoc was wrought
with the woods and parks in the time of the Commonwealth and at the
Restoration. The finest trees were cut down that ships might be built
of them for the royal navy; the commissioners marked and took what
trees they would. Thus in 1664 Pepys had to select trees in Clarendon
Park, near Salisbury, which the Chancellor had bought of the Duke of
Albemarle. Very angry the Chancellor was at having his park despoiled
of his best timber, and Pepys gives us in his _Diary_ an amusing
account of his trouble thereupon.

But to come to the houses themselves. Is there anything more sweet,
peaceful, comfortable than the aspect of an old country house, of
brick especially, with brown tiled roof and clustering chimneys backed
by woods, with pleasure gardens at its side, and open lawn and park
before it? No, its equal is to be found nowhere. The French château,
the Italian palace, the German schloss are not to be spoken of in the
same breath. Each has its charm, but there is a coldness and stiffness
in the first, a turned-inwardness in the second, and a nakedness in the
last that prevent us from associating with them the ideas of comfort
and peace.

The true English country house is a product of comparatively late
times, that is to say, from the reign of Henry VIII. onwards. Before
that, the great nobles lived in castles, and the smaller gentry in
houses of no great comfort and grandeur.

In the parish of Little Hempston, near Totnes, is a perfect mansion
of the fourteenth century, probably the original manor-house of the
Arundels, but given to the Church, when it became a parsonage. It is
now used as a farm, and a very uncomfortable farm-house it makes. As
one of the best preserved houses of that period I know, it deserves a
few words.

[Illustration: Courtyard: Little Hempston:]

This house consists of three courts; one is a mere garden court,
through which access was had to the main entrance; through this passed
the way into the principal quadrangle. The third court was for stables
and cattle-sheds. Now this house has but a single window in it looking
outwards, and that is the great hall window, all the rest look inwards
into the tiny quadrangle, which is almost like a well, never illumined
by the sun, so small is it.

[Illustration: House at Little Hempston: S: Devon:]

The hall had in it a brazier in the midst, which could never heat it,
though the numbed fingers might be thawed at it. Adjoining the hall
is the ladies' bower, a sitting-room dark as a vault, with indeed a
fireplace in it. These were the sole rooms that were occupied by day,
the hall and the bower.

The Arundels had another place at Ebbfleet, near Stratton, which was no
bigger, and only a little less gloomy; the windows were always made,
for protection, to look into a court. It was not till after the Wars of
the Roses that there was more light allowed into the chambers.

[Illustration: A West Country Manor House:]

I give a sketch and plan of a manor-house still almost unaltered,
called Willsworthy, in the parish of Peter Tavy in Devon. It is built
entirely of granite. It has near it a ruined chapel, but what family
occupied it and when I do not know; it has not certainly been tenanted
by gentlefolks since the reign of Henry VIII.

It was not till the Tudor period that the houses of our forefathers
became comfortable and cheerful.

[Illustration: Plan of an Ancient West-country Manor House]

We should be wrong, however, if we supposed that in the Elizabethan
period the windows were designed so much for looking out at as for
letting the sun look in at. The old idea of a quadrangle was not
discarded, but it was modified. The quadrangle became a pleasant garden
within walls; the destruction of the walls to afford vistas was the
work of a later age.

The normal plan of a house till the reign of Elizabeth was the
quadrangle; but then, in the more modest mansions, the house itself
did not occupy more than a single side of the court, all the rest was
taken up with barns and stables, and the windows of the house looked
into this great stable-yard. On the side of Coxtor, above Tavistock,
stands an interesting old yeoman's house, built of solid granite, which
has remained in the possession of the same worthy family for many
generations, and has remained unaltered. This house, in little, shows
us the disposition of the old squire's mansion, for the yeoman copied
the plan of the house of the lord of the manor. A granite doorway
gives admission to the court, surrounded on all sides but the north
by stabling. On the north side, raised above the yard by a flight of
steps, is a small terrace laid out in flower-beds; into this court all
the windows of the house look. We enter the porch, and find ourselves
in the hall, with its great fireplace, its large south window, where
sits the mistress at her needlework, as of old; and here is the high
table, the wall panelled and carved, where sit the yeoman and his
family at meals, whilst the labourers sit below. This very simple yet
interesting house is quite a fortress; it is walled up against the
stormy gales that sweep the moor. It is a prison too, for it catches
and holds captive the sunbeams that fall into the bright little court.

We are too ready to regard our forefathers as fools, but they knew a
thing or two; they were well aware that in England, if we want flowers
to blow early and freely, they must be sheltered.

It was not till the reign of Charles II. that the fancy came on English
people to do away with nooks and corners, and to build oblong blocks of
houses without projections anywhere.

[Illustration: Kew Palace:]

The new Italian, or French château style, had its advantages, but its
counterbalancing disadvantages. The main advantage was that the rooms
were loftier than before; the walls, white and gold, were more cheerful
at night; there may have been other advantages, but these are the only
two that are conspicuous. The disadvantages were many. In the first
place, no shelter was provided out of doors from the wind; no pleasant
nooks, no sun-traps. The block of building, naked and alone, stood in
the midst of a park, and the wind whistled round it, and the rain
drove against it. When the visitor arrived in bad weather, he was blown
in at the door, and nearly blown through the hall. In our eagerness
to make vistas, obtain extensive landscapes, we have levelled our
enclosing walls. But what could have been a sweeter prospect from a
hall or parlour window, than an enclosed garden full of flowers, with
bees humming, butterflies flitting, and fruit-trees ripening their
burdens against old red brick enclosing walls, tinted gorgeously with
lichens?

There is at present a fashion for being blown about by the wind, so we
unmuffle our mansions of their enclosing walls and hedges. But England
is a land of wind. Nothing strikes an Englishman more, when living
abroad, than the general stillness of the air. Look at the wonderful
bulbous spires and cupolas to towers on the Continent;--marvellously
picturesque they are. If examined, they are found to be very generally
covered with the most delicate slate work, that folds in and out of the
crinks and crannies, like chain mail. Such slating would not endure
three winters in England; it would be torn adrift and scattered like
autumn leaves before an equinoctial gale. We never had these bulbous
spires in England, because the climate would not permit of their
construction. Our forefathers knew that this was a windy world of ours--

    "Sing heigh ho for the wind and the rain,
    For the rain it raineth every day,"

and they built their houses accordingly--to provide the greatest
possible amount of shelter from the cold blasts of March, and from
the driving rains of winter. The house originally consisted on the
ground-floor of hall, parlour, kitchen, and entrance-porch and stairs.
In later times the side wing was carried further back, and a second
parlour was built, and the staircase erected between the parlours.

At Upcott, in Broadwood, in Devon, is a house that belonged to the
Upcotts. The plan is much the same as that of Willsworthy, even ruder,
though the house itself was finer. It had a porch, a hall, and a dairy
and kitchen. The parlour is of Queen Anne's reign, and probably takes
the place of one earlier on the same spot. The plan of Hurlditch is
the same, a mansion of the important family of Speccot. There also the
parlour is comparatively recent.

There was in a house previous to the reign of Henry VII. but one good
room, and that was the hall. It opened to the roof, and must have been
cold enough in winter, and draughty at all times.

At Wortham, the fine mansion of the Dynhams, there was an arrangement,
as far as I know, unique--two halls, one for winter with a fire-place
in it, serving as a sort of lower story to the summer-hall, clear to
the roof--thus one is superposed on the other.

Tonacombe, a mansion of the Leys and Kempthornes in Morwenstowe parish
in Cornwall, is a singularly untouched house of a somewhat similar
construction, but enlarged. Here there was the tiny entrance-court into
which the hall looked; the hall itself being open to the roof, with
its great fire-place, and the parlour panelled with oak. All other
reception-rooms are later additions or alterations of offices into
parlours.

[Illustration: Tonacombe: North Cornwall.]

With the reign of the Tudors a great sense of security and an increase
of wealth must have come to the country gentry, for they everywhere
began to rebuild their houses, to give them more air and light, and
completely shook off that fear which had possessed them previously of
looking out into the world. Then came in an age of great windows. It
would seem as though in the rebound they thought they could not have
light enough. Certainly glass must have been inexpensive in those
days. It was the same in the churches; the huge perpendicular windows
converted the sacred edifices into lanterns. The old halls open to
the roof gave way to ceiled halls, and the newel staircase in the
wall--very inconvenient, impossible for the carrying up or down-stairs
of large furniture--was discarded for the broad and stately staircase
of oak.

It seems to me that the loss of shelter that ensued on the abandonment
of the quadrangle, or of the E-shaped Elizabethan house, is not
counterbalanced by the compactness of the square or the oblong block
of the Queen Anne house. Moreover, the advantages internally were not
so great as might be supposed, for, to light the very lofty room the
windows were made narrow and tall; thus shaped they admitted far less
sun than when they were broad and not tall.

Only one who, like myself, has the happiness to occupy a room with a
six-light window, twelve feet wide and five feet high, through which
the sun pours in and floods the whole room, whilst without the keen
March wind is cutting, cold and cruel, can appreciate the blessedness
of such a window, can tell the exhilarating effect it has on the
spirits, how it lets the sun in, not only through the room, and on to
one's book or paper, but into the very heart and soul as well.

A long upright narrow window does not answer the purpose for which
it was constructed. The light enters the room from the sky, not from
the earth, therefore only through the upper portion of a window. The
wide window gives us the greatest possible amount of light. If we were
but to revert to the Elizabethan window, we would find a singular
improvement in our health and spirits.

Our old country houses were, say modern masons, shockingly badly
built. "Why, sir," said one to me, "do look here at this wall. It is
three foot six thick--what waste of room!--and then only the facing is
with mortar between the stones, all the rest of the stones are set in
clay." I was engaged building my porch when the man said this. So I,
convinced by his superior experience, apologized for my forbears, and
bade him rebuild with mortar throughout. What was the result? That wall
has been to me ever since a worry. The rain beats through it; every
course of mortar serves as an aqueduct, and the driving rain against
that wall traverses it as easily as if it were a sponge. Our old houses
were dry within--dry as snuff. Now we cannot keep the wet out without
cementing them externally. Those fools, our forefathers, by breaking
the connexion prevented the water from penetrating.

Do any of my readers know the cosiness of an oak-panelled or of a
tapestried room? There is nothing comparable to it for warmth. What
the reader certainly does know is, that from a papered wall and from
a plate-glass window there is ever a cold current of air setting
inwards. He supposes that there is a draught creeping round the walls
from the door, or that the window-frame does not fit; and he plugs,
but cannot exclude the cold air. But the origin of the draught is in
the room itself, and it is created by the fire. The wall is cold and
the plate-glass is cold, and the heated atmosphere of the room is
lowered in temperature against these cold surfaces, and returns in the
direction of the fire as a chill draught. But when the room is lined
with oak or with woven woollen tapestry, then the walls are warm, and
they give back none of these chill recoil currents. The fire has not
the double obligation laid on it of heating the air of the apartment
and the walls.

In Germany and Russia during the winter double windows are set up in
every room, and by this means a film of warm air is interposed between
the heated atmosphere of the room and the external cold air. That our
ancestors did not attempt,--plate-glass was not known to them,--but
they did what they could in the right direction. They covered the chill
stone and plaster walls of the rooms with non-conducting materials.

The oak-panelled room was, it can hardly be denied, difficult to light
at night, as the dark walls absorbed the candle rays. But that mattered
little at a time when every one went to bed with the sun. When later
hours were kept, then the oak panels were painted white. But now that
we have mineral oils, not to mention gas and electric lighting, we may
well scrape off the white paint and restore the dark oak. Then, for an
evening, the sombre background has quite a marvellous effect in setting
off the bright ladies' dresses, and showing off fresh pretty faces.

[Illustration: An Oak-panelled Parlour, Lew Trenchard.]

Before the reign of Elizabeth the staircase was not an important
feature in the house. The hall reached to the roof, and the stairs
were winding flights of stone steps in turrets, or in the thickness
of the wall; when the fashion set in to ceil the halls low, then the
staircase became a stately feature of the house. But it was more than
a stately feature, it was the great ventilating shaft of the house;
it was to the house what the tower is to the church, the chimney
by which the stale fumes might pass away. The great staircase window,
made up of thousands of little pieces of glass set in lead, acted
as a colander through which the outer air streamed in and the inner
vitiated air escaped. Where there is a central quadrangle, this was in
many cases glazed in; then a staircase led to a series of galleries
about it, lighted from above, communicating with the several suites of
apartments. Many of our old inns are thus constructed. The reader will
remember the picture of the court of the White Hart in _Pickwick_, with
the first introduction of Sam Weller. The central court serves as a
ventilator to the house, and so does its dwindled representative, the
well-staircase. Those fools, our forefathers, again, if they shut out
the winds and gave shelter to their houses, made ample provision for
internal ventilation.

What a degraded, miserable feature of the house is the staircase
now-a-days, with its steps seven inches instead of four, and the tread
nine and a half inches instead of thirteen. It takes an effort to go
up-stairs now, it is a scramble; it was an easy, a leisurely, and a
dignified ascent formerly. Then again, our staircases are narrow--one
of four feet is of quite a respectable width; but the old Elizabethan
staircase measured from six feet to eight feet wide. That of Blickling
Hall, Norfolk is seven feet eight inches. There the ascent is single
to the first landing; after that the stair branches off, one for the
ascent, the other for the descent. The first ascent is of eight steps;
then after the main landing, on each side eleven steps to the second
landing; then nine more lead to the level of the upper storys and
grand corridor. On such staircases as these furniture can be conveyed
up and down without damage to the walls, or injury to the furniture.
Architects who build modern narrow and steep staircases, forget that
often a coffin has to be conveyed with its tenant down them; and this
can be done neither with convenience nor dignity upon them.

But let us think of the staircase on a brighter occasion than a
funeral. The grand old flight of steps with its landings, and with
sometimes its bay-window with seats in it on one of the landings, how
it lends itself to the exigencies of a sitting-out place at a ball.
The window is filled with azaleas; the walls hung with full-length
family portraits; the broad dark oak stairs are carpeted with crimson;
a chandelier pendant from the moulded Elizabethan ceiling-drop sheds
a soft golden light over the scene; and on the landings, on the
steps themselves, sit the dancers after the exertions of a waltz or a
galop, enjoying the fresher air, and forming a picture of almost ideal
charm. Then also it is that the ventilating advantages of the great
staircase become most manifest. The dancing has been in the hall, which
has become hot; the door on to the stairs is thrown open; there is a
circulation of air at once, and in two minutes the atmosphere of the
ball-room has renewed itself.

In the matter of sleeping arrangements we have certainly made an
advance on those of our ancestors. I have already mentioned Upcott,
which belonged to a family of that name that expired in the reign of
Henry VII. The hall is small, but has a huge fire-place in it. In
the window is a coat of arms, in stained glass, representing Upcott
impaling an unknown coat, party per pale, argent and sable, three
dexter hands couped at the wrist, counterchanged. Now this house has
or had but a _single_ bedroom. There may have been, and there probably
was, a separate apartment for the squire and his wife, over the
parlour, which was rebuilt later; but for all the rest of the household
there existed but one large dormitory over the hall, in which slept
the unmarried ladies of the family, and the maid-servants, and where
was the nursery for the babies. All the men of the family, gentle and
serving, slept in the hall about the fire on the straw, and fern, and
broom that littered the pavement.

That house is a very astonishing one to me, for it reveals a state of
affairs singularly rude--at a comparatively late period. Things were
improved in this particular later; bedrooms many were constructed,
communicating with each other. At the head of the stairs slept the
squire and his wife, and all the rooms tenanted by the rest of the
household were accessible only through that. The females, daughters of
the house and maid-servants, lay in rooms on one side, say the right,
the maids in those most distant, reached through the apartments of the
young ladies; those of the men lay on the left, the sons of the house
nearest the chamber of the squire, the serving-men furthest off.

When the party in the house retired for the night, a file of damsels
marched up-stairs, domestic servants first, passed through the room
of their master and mistress, then through those of the young ladies,
and were shut in at the end; next entered the daughters of the house
to their several chambers, the youngest lying near the room of the
serving-maids, the eldest most outside, near that of her father and
mother. That procession disposed of, a second mounted the stairs,
consisting of the men of the house, the stable-boy first, and the son
and heir last, and were disposed of similarly to the females, but on
the opposite side of the staircase. Then, finally, the squire and his
wife retired to roost in the chamber that commanded those of all the
rest of the household. This arrangement still subsists in our old
fashioned farm-houses.

Now may be understood the odd provision in a will proved in the
Consistory Court of Canterbury in 1652 (Bowyer, f. 57)--"I give to my
son Thomas the sole fee-simple and inheritance of my dwelling-house,
and all my lands and hereditaments thereto belonging, to him and to his
heirs for ever. And my will is, that Joan my daughter shall have free
_ingress_, _egress_, and _regress_ to the bedd in the chambre where she
now lieth, so long as she continueth unmarried."

But to this arrangement followed another, more practical and
convenient, that of having a grand corridor up-stairs, out of which
opened the doors of the bedrooms; or, where there was a glazed-in
quadrangle with staircase and landings around it, there the doors of
the bedrooms opened from these landings. The corridor was used as a
room for dancing, or for music, or for games; it was the recreation
place of the house on a rainy day. Being up-stairs, and away from
library and parlours, the young people might skip, and play blind-man's
buff, dance, and disturb no one; nor was there much furniture in these
corridors to stand in the way and get knocked over.

This corridor is a feature of an old house so very dear to young folks,
and so very advantageous to their health, that it is a pity in our
modern houses we have got rid of it.

A word on the furniture of our old country houses must not be omitted.
Unfortunately there set in at the beginning of this century a most
detestable fashion in furniture, absolutely void of taste; and to make
room for the villainous articles then imported into our old country
houses, much beautiful old work was turned out, very often was given to
servants when they married. The consequence is, that much of it passed
into cottages, where it soon got destroyed. It was not only old carved
oak that was cast forth, for much of that had been got rid of in the
Georgian epoch, but even the beautiful polished wood cabinets, chests
of drawers, and Chippendale chairs of a more recent period.

Of early furniture, I mean mediæval, little remains in our houses, for
one reason, because there was in them very little. The era of furniture
was begun with the Tudor monarchs; it was all of oak, and the carving
was influenced much by Holbein, who inspired artists with admiration
for German Renaissance. Cabinets with architectural façades and heavy
oak furniture continued in the Elizabethan and Stuart periods. The
date of a chair can be told approximately by the position of the rail
binding together the legs. The primary object of this brace was, to
hold the legs firmly, but it was also found to possess the not less
important advantage of providing a person sitting in the chair with the
means of keeping his feet from the cold stone-slabbed pavement. When
boarded floors came into fashion, it became no longer necessary to have
the front brace of the chair placed so near the floor, and to give more
freedom to the feet it was gradually heightened. Some time after this
the side braces were raised to the same level as the front brace, and
later still, as the first necessity for their use was gradually lost
sight of, they were dispensed with altogether. This was the first
step towards the bad system of construction now almost universally
practised, of leaving the legs of chairs without any support at their
lower extremities. At the beginning of this century a still further
deviation from right principles ensued. The legs of chairs were
made to curve, and often to curve in such a manner as to make them
unserviceable for supporting the weight reposed upon them.

"Let us examine an old oak chair, and see how it was constructed. In
the first place, we shall find that the whole of the work is executed
in solid oak, the uprights forming the back, and the back legs being
made of one continuous piece; this at once gives strength and backbone
to the whole structure. The framework holding the seat is next securely
tenoned, and pinned with oaken pegs into the four legs, thus binding
the whole of the parts firmly together. Even at this stage we have
a far more strongly constructed piece of work than the modern chair
when quite completed; the old workman, however, not content with this,
next turned his attention to the weakest part of all--the feet of the
chair--and securely fastened them together about three or four inches
from the floor with four strong braces, tenoning each brace at both
ends into the legs of the chair, and securing it, as before, with
oaken pegs. This last addition made the whole a perfectly strong and
almost indestructible piece of framing, and constitutes one of the
most essential differences in the construction of ancient and modern
furniture. The legs of most modern chairs are made to depend entirely
for strength on their hold, _at one end_, to the framing of the seat
of the chair, into which they are generally only glued. The legs of
the ancient chair, on the other hand, are secured at _both ends_; and
the four braces connecting them together act as struts as well as
ties; they form an admirable protection against any blow the chair may
receive at its lower extremities. Many of the old chairs constructed on
these excellent principles are now in good condition, after nearly two
hundred years of daily use."[2]

In mediæval times there were trestles and boards for a dining-table;
but in Chaucer's time fixed tables were coming into use. He tells how
that in the rich and luxurious Franklin's house there were--

    "Alle deyntees that men cowde thynke,

      *       *       *       *       *

    His table dormant in his halle alway
    Stood redy covered al the longe day."

The "table dormant" was used only by very rich people; it was a new
fashion at the close of the fourteenth century, and was expensive. It
took its name from the fact that it was slept upon at night; it served
as a bed for one of the men who lay in the hall. This table consisted
of a single long trestle with a plank on it. It had but two legs, one
at each end, and a beam between supported by struts. But at the same
time that these tables came into fashion, another variety was in use,
supported by a pair of short trestles at each end. The top of this
table was also formed of planks, but they were hinged together so as to
be easily folded up and removed, when additional space was required. A
table of this kind is referred to by Shakespeare in _Romeo and Juliet_,
when, as Capulet enters the hall with his guests, he exclaims--

                        "Come, musicians, play.
    A hall! a hall! give room, and foot it, girls.
    More light, you knaves; and turn the tables up."

A remarkably cleverly constructed table of the reign of Elizabeth
exists at Slade in South Devon. It is based on the plan of the table
dormant, but is convertible into a settle when no longer required as a
table; the planking rests on the settle arms when serving for a board,
and slides back and assumes an erect position when required as a settle
back.

A "drawing-table" was a third variety. It was one that was square
framed, but could be drawn out at both ends, so as to nearly double its
normal length.

In a paper on 'Our Household Furniture,' contributed to the _Art
Journal_ by Mr. G. T. Robinson, an illustration of one of these
tables is given; and in speaking of the ingenuity displayed in the
construction of the sliding leaves, he says, "The whole mechanism is
admirably considered for the purpose it has to fulfil. Indeed its
adaptation for its purpose was so good that the principle was long
retained; and Sheraton, so late as the commencement of the present
century, advocates its use for many writing or other tables, and gives
the rule for finding the exact rake of the slides, and the technical
details of all the other parts."

It is difficult to understand why so admirable and simple an
arrangement was abandoned, for anything more clumsy and unsatisfactory
than the method adopted in our modern dining-room tables for
accomplishing a similar result can hardly be imagined.[3] The only
modern examples I have seen are some manufactured by a firm in Brussels
(Wattier, Steenpoort).

I confess that I look back with regret to the old highly polished
mahogany table for dessert. The modern system of covering the table
with white, and strips of coloured silk, and setting it with sprigs
of ferns and flowers is very pretty, but then for the sake of this
prettiness we are letting the polish of our tables go down. Hardly
anywhere now does the butler care to keep up the polish of the table;
he used to take a pride in it, now he knows that it is never seen.
Yet I know of two or three old country houses into which the Russian
fashion has not penetrated, and where even to this day the mahogany is
shown, and shines like a mirror.

    "Hail, good comrades, every one,
      Round the polished table;
    Pass the bottle with the sun,
      Drink, sirs! whilst ye're able.
    Life is but a little span,
      Full of painful thinking;
    Let us live as fits a man,
      No good liquors blinking!"

So sang our grandfathers; but the song has gone out with the polished
table, and with the polished table the quiet enjoyable drinking of good
port and sherry after the retirement of the ladies. The cigarette is
lighted--and who can enjoy port with the air full of its perfumes?--and
no sooner is the wine begun to be appreciated, than the tray of coffee
is presented, dug into the side, as a reminder that now-a-days the
pleasant hour with good wine and agreeable male companions is cut
down to a quarter of an hour--has gone out of fashion, along with the
polished table, and we must away into the drawing-room to talk empty
nothingnesses, and listen to bad music.

But we must not spend too much time over tables and chairs. Marquetry
became the fashion under William and Mary, when upright clocks,
bureaux, and chairs were thus decorated. Under Louis XIV. a new style
of decoration was introduced by one André Charles Buhl, who gave his
name to it. He was chief upholsterer to the king, and his rich and
brilliant marquetry of tortoise-shell and brass, so combined as to form
figures and subjects, was extensively used in the furnishing of the new
palace at Versailles.

The fashion extended to England, and where tortoise-shell was not
employed, the ground was gilt, then painted over with black, leaving
a pattern in gold uncovered, and the whole was washed over with a
reddish-brown lacquer, which gave the effect of tortoise-shell. Spaces
thus treated were relieved by raised work in wood carved and gilt in
relief, in representation of Buhl's brass work. We find this chiefly in
mirror and picture-frames.

Then followed the reign of Louis XV., the age of _rococo_, of
shell-shaped curves set against each other back to back. It may
have been barbarous, but it was rich and beautiful. Then walls were
painted white and picked out with gold, the clearest, most brilliant,
turquoise-blues and rose-carmines came in. Painters devoted themselves
to the decoration of panels in the walls of rooms and to ceilings, the
_dessus-de-portes_, over-doors, generally in chiaroscuro, shepherds
and shepherdesses, nymphs, cherubs. There was a certain amount of
sombreness in the old Elizabethan house, in the dark oak panelling, in
the olive-greens of the tapestry, that was distasteful to the merry
men of the epoch from Charles II. to the first Georges, and they set
themselves to make their interiors as sparkling with gold and brilliant
colour as possible on a white instead of a dark ground.

The discovery of Pompeii caused a return to a simpler style of
decoration, to purer forms; and marquetry furniture was manufactured in
exotic woods, enriched with ormolu mountings. Paintings were executed
on copper and let into chimney-pieces, of great delicacy and charm.

Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Sheraton are names associated with the
mahogany furniture of the last century, with tables with pierced
galleries, chairs with open strap work backs, cabinets of graceful
curves, all of admirable workmanship. Indeed cabinet-making never
attained a higher degree of delicacy and perfection than at this
period. I would point to some of the bureaux of this date as real
marvels of workmanship. And look at the backs of the chairs--a good
Chippendale chair has the upright curled back at the top, in a manner
remarkable for beauty, and right in principle, for it exposes no sharp
angles to suffer from a blow. The satin-wood furniture, some of it
with medallions painted on it, sideboards, work-tables, chiffoniers,
sometimes only decorated with delicate garlands of laurel or bay
painted or inlaid on the satin-wood, is not to be disregarded. The only
furniture that cannot be loved is that of the first thirty years of
this century, when it violated all true principles of construction,
and manifested neither invention nor taste in design.

Before leaving the consideration of old country houses, one word
must be said about their _setting_. We now-a-days, when we build a
mansion, look out for the top of a hill, a good windy, exposed spot.
It never occurs to us that half the charm of a house consists in the
way in which it is framed. The mediæval Germans lived on the tops
of rocks, but then their houses were castles, partly for defence,
and partly because they knew what was fit to be done. Artistically,
they made these castles eminently picturesque with towers and gables
that cut the sky. We do not now build castles, but--well, the word
is suitable--boxes; and a box looks like a box on the top of a hill
against the sky, and nothing can make it look other. Our English
forefathers, in their sense of security, and in their love of sun and
shelter, sought out a hillside, and built their mansions so as to have
rising ground behind it, to back it, and where they had not a hill,
there they had a wood of tall trees. A house thus set is like a picture
in a frame, a pretty face in a real bonnet. I do not think that ladies
who, in pursuance of a vile fashion, wear hats, can be aware of the
loss of charm to the face. Let them take an ancestral portrait out
of its frame, and hang it thus naked against the wall. They will see
at once that the frame insulates it, draws attention to its beauties
and enhances them. It is the same with a house. It may be good
architecturally, but unless it be backed up by a green hill covered
with wood, tall Scotch pines, the haunt of rooks, umbrageous beech, in
autumn trees of gold, it is nothing but an architectural study. How
naked, how forlorn a dear old house looks that has lost its timber
that surrounded it! I know one or two old mansions that have been
converted into farm-houses, and their rear-guard of timber hewn down
and sold. There is a broken-hearted look about them that reminds one of
a carriage-horse degraded to go in a cart. It feels its degradation,
loses flesh, gloss, and spirit.

I was one day walking with an old friend whom fate doomed to live
abroad all his life, but whose heart was ever in his native land. We
were strolling near an old mansion, in its park, when he stopped,
looked at it, and said, "Ye gentlemen of England, that dwell at home at
ease--and in what ease! in what peace and beauty! Indeed, I think that,
as in all the world there is not a type of man nobler, better, more
complete in every way than the true English gentleman, so do I think
that nowhere--not approachably even, anywhere--is there to be found a
house like the old English country house." And in my heart I responded,
Amen--It is so.

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[2] _Examples of Carved Oak Woodwork_, by W. Bliss Sanders. London:
1883.

[3] Mr. Bliss Saunders gives details of one of these in the work above
referred to.



CHAPTER IV.

THE OLD GARDEN.


[Illustration]

Just before the breaking forth of the French Revolution, the Abbé de
Lille composed a poem in four cantos, entitled _Les Jardins_, in which
he enthusiastically urged the abandonment of all formality in the
laying out of a garden, and the adoption of the new English style of
irregularity.

    "Avant de planter, avant que du terrain
    Votre béche imprudente entame le sein,
    Pour donnez aux jardins une forme plus pure,
    Observez, connoissez, imitez la nature."

An agreeable wildness--that was what was to be sought. The Revolution
came in, and hacked the gardens about, and reduced them all to the
state of wildness.

What the Abbé de Lille wrote against was the artificiality of the
garden arrangement that had been in vogue till then. Horace Walpole
had already written in the same strain. A rage had set in in England
for remodelling the gardens, and the new fashion was called "English
gardening."

Pliny the younger, in his delightful letters, speaks of his gardens.
As his Laurentine villa was his winter retreat, it is not surprising
that the gardens there take no prominent part of his account. All he
says of them is, that the _gestatio_, or exercise ground, surrounded
the garden, and was bounded by a box-hedge; where the box had perished,
there were planted tufts of rosemary. He mentions his vine-walk and his
trees, mostly mulberry and fig, as the soil was unsuited for other
trees. On his Tuscan villa he is more diffuse; the garden takes up
a good part of the description. He tells of the strange shapes into
which his box-trees were clipped, his slopes, his terraces, shrubs
methodically trimmed, a marble basin, fountain, a cascade, bay-trees
alternating with plane-trees, a long straight walk, from which
branched off others hedged by apple-trees in espalier, and by box, and
ornamented with obelisks. Something like a rural view was, indeed,
contrived amidst so much artificiality, but was speedily forgotten
amidst the stiff lines of box and the trimmed cypresses.

In the paintings of Herculaneum we see the representations of gardens;
they are square enclosures, formed by trellis-work and espaliers, and
regularly ornamented with vases, fountains, and statues, elegantly
symmetrical. Now this arrangement of a garden continued in Italy. It
never changed, and the villa gardens in and about Rome to this day
reproduce the plans and character of those that flourished there in the
classic age.

The villa-gardens in and about Rome! I cannot write the words
without an ache of heart, for I know that they are disappearing
rapidly, inevitably. Along the Via Salaria I saw three in process of
destruction during the late winter and spring of 1889. A great slice
of the Borghese grounds is being devastated to make room for hideous
streets and squares. The Wolkonski gardens have been curtailed; those
of Villa Massimo Arsoli adjoining, almost destroyed and built over;
the Rospigliosi gardens gone; others doomed; the glorious Ludovisi
gardens, with their cypresses and ilexes towering above the closed
Porta Pinciana and the ancient boundary wall, are in process of
extermination. "The grounds, which were of an extent extraordinary when
considered as being within the walls of a capital, were laid out by
Le Nôtre, and were in the stiff French style of high-clipped hedges,
and avenues adorned with vases and sarcophagi. With the fury against
trees which characterizes Italians, all the magnificent ilexes and
cypresses were cut down as soon as the land was secured, and the plots
of building-land rendered altogether hideous and undesirable. In a
few years not a trace will remain of the picturesque glories of this
once noble villa, which, if acquired by the municipality, who refused
to purchase it, might have been made into public gardens of beauty
unrivalled in any European capital."[4]

The railway station, with its sheds and sidings, occupies the once
matchless gardens of the Villa Massimo Negroni, celebrated for its
exquisite cypress avenues and its stately terrace, lined with ancient
orange-trees and noble sarcophagi. The ground was confiscated by the
State, and the destruction of this fair scene broke the heart of the
owner, Prince Massimo. The sweet gardens of the Villa Strozzi are
gone, now built over with ugly houses. Outside the Porta Pia grand old
gardens are being devastated also.

The Medici gardens remain; Hawthorn thus described them. "They are laid
out in the old fashion of straight paths, with borders of box, which
form hedges of great height and density, and are shorn and trimmed to
the evenness of a wall of stone at the top and sides. There are green
alleys, with long vistas, overshadowed by ilex-trees; and at each
intersection of the paths the visitor finds seats of lichen-covered
stone to repose on, and marble statues that look forlornly at him,
regretful of their lost noses. In the more open portions of the
gardens, before the sculptured front of the villa, you see fountains
and flower-beds; and, in their season, a profusion of roses, from which
the genial sun of Italy distils a fragrance to be scattered abroad by
the no less genial breeze."

The Boboli gardens at Florence remain to testify to the ancient
arrangement, with high walls of evergreens and long avenues hedged up
ten or twelve feet, dense and impervious, above which rise the spires
of cypress and the domes of the stone-pine.

[Illustration: Garden from Tapestry.]

Our English gardens were modelled on those of the Italian palaces, the
same subdivision of squares into sections, with trimmed box enclosing
them, and with a statue or a fountain, or a carved and shaped yew in
the midst. The gardens were invariably enclosed within walls. Where the
ground sloped, at great expense it was shaped into terraces, reached by
flights of steps. The greatest exactness in the design was aimed at. As
Pope observed--

                    "Each alley has a brother,
    And half the garden just reflects the other."

When Pamela endured her persecution she was allowed to walk in
the garden, but this was so walled round that escape from it was
impossible. There were seats in it on which she might repose in the
sun. There was a fish-pond in which she might angle, but there was only
one garden-door by which egress could be obtained, and that was locked.
It was the same with Clarissa Harlowe. The garden of her father's house
was walled round.

The pleached alleys were constructed of lime or beech trees platted
and trimmed so as to form walls of green. They were over-arched, and
those walking in them were as in a green bower. I know an old château
on the Moselle with such a _berceau_, it has in it windows commanding
beautiful reaches of the river; otherwise it is completely enclosed by
leaves, and fresh and sweet it is as a walk on a hot day. In England
we required shade less than shelter, and the green funnels were not in
such request as the long lines of lofty yew or box hedge.

In King's _Views of the Seats of our Nobility and Gentry_, at the
beginning of the eighteenth century, we see the utmost formality. Every
house is approached by two or three gardens, consisting perhaps of
a gravel-walk and two grass-plats, or borders of flowers. Each rises
above the other by two or three steps, and as many walls and terraces,
and so many iron gates.

[Illustration: Flaxley, from a print of 1714.]

Sir William Temple gives us his view of what constituted a perfect
garden in his day. "The perfectest figure of a garden I ever saw,
either at home or abroad, was that of Moor Park, in Hertfordshire. I
will describe it for a model to those that meet with such a situation,
and are above the regards of common expense. It lies on the side of a
hill, upon which the house stands, but not very steep. The length of
the house, where the best rooms and of most use or pleasure are, lies
upon the breadth of the garden; the great parlour opens into the midst
of a terrace gravel-walk that lies even with it, and which may lie
about three hundred paces long, and broad in proportion; the border set
with standard laurels and at large distances, which have the beauty of
orange-trees out of flower and fruit. From this walk are three descents
by many stone steps, in the middle and at each end, into a very large
parterre. This is divided into quarters by gravel-walks, and adorned
with two fountains and eight statues, at the several quarters. At the
end of the terrace-walk are two summer-houses, and the sides of the
parterre are ranged with two large cloisters open to the garden; over
these two cloisters are two terraces covered with lead and fenced with
balusters; and the passage into these airy walks is out of the two
summer-houses at the end of the first terrace-walk. The cloister facing
the south is covered with vines. From the middle of the parterre is a
descent by many steps into the lower garden, which is all fruit-trees,
ranged about the several quarters of a wilderness, which is very
shady; the walks here are all green, and there is a grotto embellished
with figures of shell rock-work, fountains, and water-works."

Nothing could be more formal, and nothing, I think, could be more
charming. Why should we imitate wild nature? The garden is a product of
civilization. Why any more make of our gardens imitation wild nature,
than paint our children with woad, and make them run about naked in an
effort to imitate nature unadorned? The very charm of a garden is that
it is taken out of savagery, trimmed, clothed, and disciplined. The
wall and hedge are almost necessaries with us, to cut off the wind. See
how flowers of all kinds luxuriate, if given the screen from the biting
blast! If they like it, why should not we?

I allow that the hacking of trees into fantastical shapes deserved the
scourge administered in the one hundred and seventy-third number of
_The Guardian_, Sept. 29th, 1713. The writer there says--"How contrary
to simplicity is the modern practice of gardening; we seem to make it
our study to recede from nature, not only in the various tonsure of
greens into the most regular and formal shapes, but even in monstrous
attempts beyond the reach of the art itself; we run into sculpture,
and are yet better pleased to have our trees in the most awkward
figures of men and animals, than in the most regular of their own. A
citizen is no sooner proprietor of a couple of yews, but he entertains
thoughts of erecting them into giants, like those of Guildhall. I know
an eminent cook, who beautified his country-seat with a coronation
dinner in greens, where you see the champion flourishing on horseback
at one end of the table, and the queen in perpetual youth at the other.

"For the benefit of all my loving countrymen of this curious taste,
I shall here publish a catalogue of greens to be disposed of by an
eminent town gardener, who has lately applied to me upon this head. My
correspondent is arrived at such perfection, that he cuts family pieces
of men, women, or children. Any ladies that please may have their own
effigies in myrtle, or their husbands in horn-beam. I shall proceed to
his catalogue, as he sent it for my recommendation.

"'Adam and Eve in yew; Adam a little shattered by the fall of the tree
of knowledge in the great storm, Eve and the serpent very flourishing.

"'The Tower of Babel, not yet finished.

"'St. George in box; his arm scarce long enough, but will be in
condition to strike the dragon by next April.

"'A Queen Elizabeth in phylyræa, a little inclining to the
green-sickness, but of full growth.

"'An old maid-of-honour in worm-wood.

"'Divers eminent poets in bays, somewhat blighted, to be disposed of a
pennyworth.

"'A quickset hog shot up into a porcupine, by its being forgot a week
in rainy weather,' &c."

But these absurdities do not affect the question of hedges. I know a
hedge of clay and stone built up eight feet, and above that crowned
with holly and thorn, running from east to west, but with a point or
two of west in its face. I remember an old man, a rector, chronically
affected with bronchitis for fifteen years, who felt the solace of this
charming hedge through the whole time. He could crawl out there when
the sun shone, and disregard the north and east winds. In that hedge
the primrose and the foxglove were out prematurely. The rabbits loved
it dearly, and made it untidy with their burrowings in the warm dry
clay under the roots of the bushes.

If a ruthless craving for vistas had not prevailed in and after Horace
Walpole's time, every one of our country houses and parsonages would
have had these sweet sheltered walks, where invalids could creep along
and bask in the sun. We have had them demolished, and so must away to
the Riviera. Evelyn had a great holly hedge in his garden at Sayes
Court, four hundred feet in length, five feet in diameter, and nine
feet high; and when the Court was let to the Czar Peter, during his
visit to the Deptford dockyard, that barbarian drove his wheel-barrow
through it, and so injured the hedge that Evelyn claimed damages, and
received one hundred and fifty pounds in compensation.

Another charming feature of the old garden--and one that was costly
to execute--was the terrace. The slope of the hillside was taken in
hand and was cut away, so as to produce a level lawn with a level,
horizontal terrace-walk above it, and perhaps, where the slope admitted
of it, a second and superior terrace. These terrace walls gave shelter,
and as walks were always dry, the drainage from them being rapid.
Trees, shrubs, flowers planted on them throve; there was no stagnation
of water about their roots, and the sun, striking against the wall that
enclosed the earth for their roots, made it warm, cherishing to the
plants, as a hot bottle is a comfort to you who suffer from cold feet
in your bed.

Nowhere have I seen roses so revel, go mad with delight and gratitude
as in these terrace gardens. The rose is peculiarly averse to wet feet.
See how the wild rose thrives in the clay-banked-up hedge!--a hedge
that seems to have no moisture in it, the earth of which crumbles
between the finger and thumb like snuff.

Then, again, the rose hates wind, and the terrace wall serves as a
screen to it against its enemy. And--for human roses!

Last summer I attended a garden-party at an ancient country house
with an old-fashioned garden. From the lawn in front of the porch a
flight of granite steps led to a terrace nine feet above the lawn. This
terrace was planted with venerable yew-trees, under which were little
tables spread with fruit and cool drinks, and cakes. A second flight
of steps gave access to a second terrace some twelve or fourteen feet
higher, planted with flowers, and backed to the north by a lofty garden
wall.

I do not think that, off the stage, I have seen any effect more
beautiful than that of the young girls in their bright and many-tinted
summer dresses, flitting about; some under the shade of the yews on
terrace number one, some looking at the flowers a stage higher, on
terrace number two, and some ascending and others descending the broad
flight of steps that led to these terraces, like the angels in Jacob's
vision.

[Illustration: A Town-House Garden Front, Launceston.]

The walls supporting the terraces served another purpose than that
of sustaining the roots of trees and flowers on the stages; as rain
fell on the terraces, it exuded between the joints of the stones and
nourished a fairy world of lichen, moss, and ferns. This was the wall
shaded by the yews. The other was hugged and laughed over by roses,
honeysuckle, and wisteria.

We have got almost no gardens left in England in their primitive
condition, only the wreckage of their beauty. But, as the old woman
said who sniffed the empty amphora of old Falernian wine, "If what
remains be so good, what must you have been when full!"

Now let us see what Horace Walpole tells us of the devastation of
these beautiful old gardens. "No succeeding generation," he says, "in
an opulent and luxurious country contents itself with the perfection
established by its ancestors; more perfect perfection was still sought,
and improvements had gone on, till London and Wise had stocked all our
gardens with giants, animals, monsters, coats of arms and mottoes,
in yew, box, and holly. Bridgman, the next fashionable designer of
gardens, was far more chaste--he banished verdant sculpture, and
did not even revert to the square precision of the foregoing age.
He enlarged his plans, disdained to make every division tally to
its opposite, and though he still adhered much to straight walks
with high-clipped hedges, they were only his great lines; the rest
he diversified by wilderness, and with loose groves of oak, though
still within surrounding hedges. As his reformation gained footing,
he ventured to introduce cultivated fields and even morsels of forest
appearance, by the sides of those endless and tiresome walks.

"But the capital stroke, the leading step to all that has followed,"--I
shiver as I write these words,--"_was the destruction of walls for
boundaries_, and the invention of fosses--an attempt then deemed so
astonishing, that the common people called them Ha! Ha's! to express
their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk.
No sooner was this simple enchantment made, than levelling, mowing, and
rolling followed. The contiguous ground of the park without the sunk
fence was to be harmonized with the lawn within; and the garden in its
turn was to be set free from its prim regularity, that it might assort
with the wilder country without. At that moment appeared Kent, painter
enough to taste the charms of landscape, bold and opinionative enough
to dare and to dictate, and born with a genius to strike out a great
system from the twilight of imperfect essays."

The man Kent deserved the gallows much more than many who have been
hung. No one who pretended to be in fashion dared to maintain a hedge
or a wall. Down went the walls, and the beautiful roses bent their
heads and died; the great yew hedges were stubbed up, and the delicate
children and feeble old gentlemen who had basked under the lea, also,
like the roses, stooped to earth and died. All the shelter, sweetness,
sun, restfulness went away. These hedges had taken a century and more
to grow, they were levelled without compunction, never perhaps again to
reappear.[5]

No doubt there was folly in our forefathers in trimming yews into
fantastical shapes; but Kent and his followers were as extravagant in
their way. Kent actually planted _dead_ trees in lawns and parks, to
give a greater air of reality to the scene. Where he was allowed he cut
down, or mutilated avenues, because unnatural; but just as unnatural
were his absurd vistas, dug through woods so that the eye might reach a
pagoda, an obelisk, or a temple at the end.

A traveller in France in 1788, on the eve of the Revolution, gives an
account of the garden of Ermenonville, laid out by M. de Girardin on
the English system. "He has succeeded better in closely imitating the
steps of nature than any spot I have ever seen; nothing seems laboured,
nothing artificial. The ground is irregular, and the ornaments rude,
though the latter approach to too great an excess. I can see no reason,
if ornaments are to be made use of in such places as these (which in
itself is a deviation from nature), why they should not be handsome. To
see a miserable obelisk built of brick, and resembling more a chimney
than a monument, is carrying the refinement of wildness to too high
a pitch. If they are designed to be rude and natural, they may at
the same time be grotesque and elegant. Winding along a lovely walk,
through the bosom of a young wood, a gentle stream meandering by its
side, we reached a charming and retired spot. A large space here opens,
shaded by the thick branches of the trees, which just leave room for
a softened light to insinuate itself, and for the zephyrs to breathe
through; over interrupting rocks and heaps of pebbles, the water dashes
along with a noise grateful and composing. Here an altar is erected,
sacred to Reverie; on a rock that overhangs the stream are inscribed
some pleasing lines. Hence through a varied and highly pleasing
path we continued our route along the grove, meeting with different
inscriptions. From thence we ascended the forest, and traversing a path
rugged and grotesque, were presented with many interesting and pleasing
views. Arriving on the plain, in the bosom of a wood, we reached an
extended area, in the midst of which stood a large oak, and at the end
an edifice."[6]

I had written thus far, when last night there came to see me an old
village singer of nigh on eighty years, always to me a welcome guest.
I seated him by the fireside on a settle, and we fell to talking
about gardens, when he said, "I reckon, your honour, I know a rare
old-fashioned song about flowers and gardings, and them like. If your
honour 'ud plase to hear me, I'll zing 'n."

Then he struck up the following quaint ballad, to an air certainly two
hundred years old--

[Music: "IN A GARDEN SWEET."

_Arranged by_ F. W. Bussell, Esq., M.A.]

    Two lovers in a garden sweet
      Were walking side by side,
    I heard how he the maid addressed,
      I heard how she replied.
    The garden it was very great,
      With box trees in a row;
    And up and down the gravell'd walk
      These lovers fond did go.

    "Said he, 'I prithee fix the day
      Whereon we shall be wed.'
    Said she, 'Thou hast a wanton mind,
      I like thee not,' she said.
    'For now you look at brown Nancy,
      And dark eyes pleasure you;
    But next declare you like the fair
      Julian with eyes of blue.'

    "'O pretty maid, in garden sweet,
      Are flowers in each parterre,
    I turn and gaze with fond amaze
      At all--for all are fair.
    But one I find--best to my mind,
      Of all I choose but one;
    I stoop and gather that choice flower,
      And wear that flower alone.'"

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[4] Hare, _Walks in Rome_.

[5] Having got rid of the wall, and finding that flowers now suffer
from the wind, gardeners are fond of _sinking_ beds, and not a few
gardens are thus furnished.

[6] _A Reflective Tour through Part of France._ London: 1789.



CHAPTER V.

THE COUNTRY PARSON.


[Illustration]

Of no class of men can it be more truly said that the good they do
dies with them, and that the evil lives--in the memory of men--than
the country parson. Of the thousands of old rectors and vicars of past
generations, how they have all slipped out of the memory of men, have
left no tradition whatever behind them, if they were good! but the
few bad ones did so impress themselves on their generation, that the
stories of their misconduct have been handed on, and are not forgotten
in a century.

In the floor of my own parish church, in the chancel, is a tombstone
to a former incumbent. The name and the date have been ground away by
the heels of the school-children who sit over it, but thus much of the
inscription remains--

    "... The Psalmists man of yeares hee lived a score,
    Tended his flocke allone; theire ofspring did restore
    By Water into life of Grace; at font and grave,
    He served God devout: and strivd men's soules to save.
    He fedd the poore, lov'd all, and did by Pattern showe,
    As pastor to his Flocke, ye way that they shoulde go."

Not less effaced than the name is all tradition of the man whose
monument proclaims his virtues. Now, I take it, _for this very reason_
the tombstone bears true testimony. If it had told lies, every one
would have known about it, and related this fact to their children;
would have told anecdotes of the parson who was so unworthy, but
concerning whose virtues his stone made such boast. That our old
country parsons were not, as a rule, a disreputable, drinking,
neglectful set of men I believe, because so few traditions of their
misconduct remain.

There was a clever, pleasant book published at the beginning of this
century, entitled, _The Velvet Cushion_. It was written by the Rev.
J. W. Cunningham, Vicar of Harrow. The seventh edition, from which I
quote, appeared in 1815. This book professes to tell the experiences
of a pulpit cushion from pre-Reformation days to the beginning of the
nineteenth century. Here is what the Cushion says--"Sir, you will be
anxious, I am sure, to hear the history of some of your predecessors
in the living; and it is my intention to gratify you. I think it
right, however, to observe, that of a large proportion of them no
very interesting records remain. Mankind are much alike, and a little
country village is not likely to call out their peculiarities. Some few
were mere profligates, whose memory I do not wish to perpetuate."--But
it is precisely these, and only these, that the less charitable memory
of man does perpetuate.--"Many of them were persons of decent, cold,
correct manners, varying slightly, perhaps, in the measure of their
zeal, their doctrinal exactness, their benevolence, their industry,
their talents--but, in general, of that neutral class which rarely
affords materials for history, or subjects of instruction. They were
men of that species who are too apt to spring up in the bosom of old
and prosperous establishments, whose highest praise is, that they do no
harm."

No one can accuse this description as being coloured too high. It is,
if I may judge by early recollections, applicable to those who occupied
the parsonages twenty and thirty years later.

In my own parish in which I was reared, Romaine, one of the most
brilliant luminaries of the evangelical revival, acted as curate for
a while, but not the smallest trace of any tradition of his goodness,
his eloquence, his zeal did I discover among the villagers. At the
very time that Romaine was in this parish, there was a curate in an
adjoining one who was over-fond of the bottle, and was picked up out
of the ditch on more than one occasion. Neither his name nor his
delinquencies are forgotten to this day.

I take it that the state in which the parish registers have been
kept are a fair test as to what sort of parsons there were. Now
certainly they were very neglectfully kept at the Restoration and for
a short while afterwards. That is not to be wondered at. During the
Commonwealth they had been taken from the parsons and committed to
lay-registrars in the several parishes, who certainly kept them badly,
and at the Restoration they were not at once and always reclaimed, but
continued to be kept by the clerk, who stepped into the place of the
registrar appointed by the Commonwealth. But in the much-maligned
Hanoverian period they were carefully kept by the clergy, and as a rule
neatly entered. If such an indication be worth anything, it shows that
the country parsons did take pains to discharge at least one of their
duties. He that is faithful in a small matter, is faithful also, we may
conclude, in that which is great.

I presume that Dr. Syntax may be regarded as typical of the class, and
Combe says of him--

    "Of Church-preferment he had none;
    Nay, all his hope of that was gone:
    He felt that he content must be
    With drudging in a curacy.
    Indeed, on ev'ry Sabbath-day,
    Through eight long miles he took his way,
    To preach, to grumble, and to pray;
    To cheer the good, to warn the sinner,
    And, if he got it,--eat a dinner:
    To bury these, to christen those,
    And marry such fond folks as chose
    To change the tenor of their life,
    And risk the matrimonial strife.
    Thus were his weekly journeys made,
    'Neath summer suns and wintry shade;
    And all his gains, it did appear,
    Were only thirty pounds a-year."

And when he dies--

    "The village wept, the hamlets round
    Crowded the consecrated ground;
    And waited there to see the end
    Of Pastor, Teacher, Father, Friend."

What a charming picture does Fielding draw in his _Joseph Andrews_ of
Mr. Abraham Adams, the parson--gentle, guileless, learned, and very
poor. And Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield--was ever a purer, sweeter
type of man delineated? The description given of his parsonage and mode
of life is valuable, and must be quoted; for it shows what a change has
come over the parsonage and the parson's manner of intercourse with his
parishioners since Goldsmith's time.

[Illustration: An Old Country Parsonage, Bratton-Clovelly.]

"Our little habitation was situated at the foot of a sloping hill,
sheltered with a beautiful underwood behind, and prattling river
before; on one side a meadow, on the other a green. My farm consisted
of about twenty acres of excellent land, having given an hundred pounds
for my predecessor's good-will.... My house consisted of but one story,
and was covered with thatch, which gave it an air of great snugness;
the walls on the inside were nicely whitewashed, and my daughters
undertook to adorn them with pictures of their own designing. Though
the same room served us for parlour and kitchen, that only made it
warmer. Besides, as it was kept with the utmost neatness, the dishes,
plates, and coppers being well scoured, and all disposed in bright rows
on the shelves, the eye was agreeably relieved, and did not want richer
furniture. There were three other apartments--one for my wife and me,
another for our two daughters, within our own, and the third, with two
beds for the rest of the children."

Our old parsonage houses precisely resembled this description, but
hardly any remain. They have given way for more pretentious houses; and
with the grander houses the habits and requirements of the parsons have
grown.

"Nor were we without guests; sometimes Farmer Flamborough, and often
the blind piper, would pay us a visit, and taste our gooseberry wine.
These harmless people had several ways of being good company; for
while one played, the other would sing some soothing ballad--_Johnny
Armstrong's Last Good Night_, or _The Cruelty of Barbara Allen_."

Crabbe, himself a clergyman, does not give the most favourable sketch
of the village parsons; and yet his country vicar is a man of perfect
blamelessness.

    "Our Priest was cheerful, and in season gay;
    His frequent visits seldom fail'd to please;
    Easy himself, he sought his neighbour's ease.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Simple he was, and loved the simple truth,
    Yet had some useful cunning from his youth;
    A cunning never to dishonour lent,
    And rather for defence than conquest meant;
    'Twas fear of power, with some desire to rise,
    But not enough to make him enemies;
    He ever aim'd to please; and to offend
    Was ever cautious; for he sought a friend.
    Fiddling and fishing were his arts: at times
    He alter'd sermons, and he aim'd at rhymes;
    And his fair friends, not yet intent on cards,
    Oft he amused with riddles and charades.
    Mild were his doctrines, and not one discourse
    But gain'd in softness what it lost in force:
    Kind his opinions; he would not receive
    An ill report, nor evil act believe.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Though mild benevolence our Priest possess'd,
    'Twas but by wishes or by words expressed.
    Circles in water, as they wider flow,
    The less conspicuous in their progress grow,
    And when, at last, they touch upon the shore,
    Distinction ceases, and they're viewed no more.
    His love, like the last circle, all embraced,
    But with effect that never could be traced.
    Now rests our Vicar.--They who knew him best
    Proclaim his life t' have been entirely--rest.
    The rich approved,--of them in awe he stood;
    The poor admired,--they all believed him good;
    The old and serious of his habits spoke;
    The frank and youthful loved his pleasant joke;
    Mothers approved a safe contented guest,
    And daughters one who backed each small request;
    In him his flock found nothing to condemn;
    Him sectaries liked,--he never troubled them:
    No trifles fail'd his yielding mind to please,
    And all his passions sunk in early ease;
    Nor one so old has left this world of sin,
    More like the being that he entered in."

Clever, true, and cutting. Crabbe knew the class, its excellences and
its weaknesses. We are considering the excellences now; we will recur
to the weaknesses later.

Fielding does, in his _Joseph Andrews_, give us a study of another
type of parson--Trulliber, "whom Adams found stript into his waistcoat,
with an apron on, and a pail in his hands, just come from serving his
hogs; for Mr. Trulliber was a parson on Sundays, but all the other six
might be more properly called a farmer. He occupied a small piece of
land of his own, besides which he rented a considerable deal more. His
wife milked his cows, managed his dairy, and followed the market with
butter and eggs. The hogs fell chiefly to his care, which he carefully
waited on at home, and attended to fairs; on which occasion he was
liable to many jokes, his own size being with much ale rendered little
inferior to that of the beasts he sold.... His voice was loud and
hoarse, and his accent extremely broad. To complete the whole, he had a
stateliness in his gait when he walked, not unlike of a goose, only he
stalked slower."

But this parson was only a boor, he was not disorderly.

I have an old coachman, near eighty, who has been in the family since
he was a boy, and of whom I get many stories of how the world went at
the beginning of this century. Said he to me one day, "My old uncle he
lived in Maristowe; he was bedridden nigh on twenty years, and in all
those years Parson Teasdale didn't miss coming to see and read and
pray with him every day, Sunday and week-day alike."

We make much fuss about parochial visiting now, but is there any
visiting like that? In _The Velvet Cushion_, a dialogue between the
Vicar and his wife is chronicled.

"'I am not sure,' said the Vicar, 'that it is not a presumptuous
reliance upon the goodness of God,--an abuse of the doctrine of Divine
mercy, that has kept me at home to-day, when I should have gone to
visit old Dame Wilkins. An' so now, my dear, let us go to Mary Wilkins'
directly.' Her bonnet was soon on, and they hobbled down the village
almost as fast as if their house had been on fire. Mary Wilkins was
a poor good woman, to whom the Vicar's visit three times a week had
become almost one of the necessaries of life. It was now two hours
beyond the time he usually came; and had she been awake, she would
really have been pained by the delay. But, happily, she had fallen into
a profound sleep, and when he put his foot on the threshold, and in his
old-fashioned way said, 'Peace be with you,' she was just awaking. This
comforted our good man, and, as he well knew where all comfort comes
from, he thanked God in his heart even for this."

The old parsons lived more on the social level of the farmers and
yeomen than of the squires, but they were in many cases men of
very considerable culture. It was not, however, those who were the
best scholars who were the best parsons. I will give presently
my reminiscences of one of the last of the old scholar-parsons.
Unfortunately, scholarship is on the decline, at all events among those
who occupy country parsonages.

It has been often charged against the old parsons, that they preached
mere morality, and above the heads of their people, interlarding
their sermons with quotations in Greek and Latin. As for preaching
morality--I do not care to apologize for their doing that. Nothing
better can be preached; nothing was more necessary to be preached in
the last century. Judging by the registers of baptisms in parishes,
at no time was there so much immorality among village people than
at that period when our country parsons were charged with preaching
morality--excepting always the present. Those who made this a matter of
accusation, meant that the Gospel, as they called their peculiar view
of religion, was not insisted on; forgetting all the while that the
Gospel is pretty well stuffed with exhortations to morality, and above
all, that model for all sermons, the one preached on the Mount. But
I do not believe that mere morality, apart from Christian faith, was
preached. There is a pretty passage in _The Velvet Cushion_ descriptive
of a sermon at the beginning of this century, which I cannot take to be
a description of something quite extraordinary and out of the way.

"'My love,' said the Vicar, 'this fact is worth a thousand
arguments--the common people heard Christ gladly. Socinianism never
fails to drive them away. A religion without a Saviour is the temple
without the Shechinah, and its worshippers will all desert it. Few
men in the world have less pretensions as a preacher than myself,--my
voice, my look, my manner, all of a very ordinary nature,--and yet, I
thank God, there is scarcely a corner of our little church where you
might not find a streaming eye or a beating heart. The reason is--that
I speak of Christ; and if there is not a charm in the word, there is
the train of fears, and hopes, and joys which it carries along with it.
The people feel, and then they must listen.'"

Evelyn in his _Diary_ says, in 1683, "A stranger, and old man,
preached--much after Bishop Andrews' method, full of logical divisions,
in short and broken periods, and Latin sentences, _now quite out of
fashion_ in the pulpit, which is grown into a far more profitable way
of plain and practical discourses, of which sort this nation, or any
other, never had greater plenty or more profitable, I am confident."

Pepys is hardly to be quoted as a judge, as he went to church to see
pretty faces, not, or not mainly, to hear sermons, and his criticism is
not always to be trusted.

"1667, 26th May, the Lord's Day. I went by water to Westminster to the
parish church, and there did entertain myself with my perspective glass
up and down the church, by which I had the great pleasure of seeing
and gazing at a great many very fine women; and what with that, and
sleeping, I passed away the time till the sermon was done."

"1667, 20th August. Turned into St. Dunstan's church, where I heard an
able sermon of the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty, modest
maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand; but she would not, but got
further and further from me; and at last I could perceive her to take
pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again,--which
seeing, I did forbear, and was glad I did spy her design. And then I
fell to gaze upon another pretty maid in a pew close to me, and she
on me; and I did go about to take her by the hand, which she suffered
a little, and then withdrew. So the sermon ended, and the church broke
up, and my amours ended also."

"1667, 25th August, Lord's Day. Up and to church, thinking to see Betty
Michell, and did stay an hour in the crowd, thinking, by the end of
a nose that I saw, that it had been her; but at last the head turned
towards me, and it was her mother, which vexed me. So I back to my
boat."

No, Pepys was no judge of a good sermon, his mind was otherwise engaged.

Sermons now-a-days produce little or no effect, because there are too
many of them. The ears of hearers have been tickled till they are no
longer capable of sensation. One hears curates boast of having preached
some seven sermons in one week, and miserable stuff it must have been
that flowed so freely; and yet good enough for the hearers, who, by
accustoming their ears to be always hearing, are unable to appreciate
a really good discourse, or if they appreciate, allow it to produce no
effect whatever upon them. Our audiences in church are like those who
live in railway arches, who become so accustomed to the rush overhead
of trains, that none ever rouse them, and they cannot sleep without
the intermittent rush to lull them.

The sermons of the end of last century and the beginning of this
do not please us, because they are cast in a different mould, they
_generally_ appeal to a different side of us than do those of the
present day. They were addressed to the natural, healthy conscience,
and to plain, everyday common-sense, such as all men possess. Modern
sermons are appeals to the feelings, amiable, sentimental emotions,
and these amiable, sentimental emotions have become accustomed to be
scratched, like cats, and purr when that is done. It was an epithet
of scorn launched on Pope Damasus, that he was "ear-scratcher" to the
ladies,--such is, however, the highest glory of a modern preacher.

Crabbe undoubtedly hit the old country parsons on their weak point when
he said of his vicar, that his main characteristic was timidity. He was
infinitely blameless, but also immeasurably afraid.

    "Thus he his race began, and to the end
    His constant care was, no man to offend;
    No haughty virtues stirr'd his peaceful mind;
    Nor urged the Priest to leave the Flock behind;
    He was his Master's soldier, but not one
    To lead an army of His martyrs on:
    Fear was his ruling passion."

Courage is born of conviction, and our old English country parsons had
no definite convictions, a sort of vague, nebulous, inchoate notion
that Christianity was all right, and that the Church of England was a
_via media_, and they deprecated anything like giving precision and
outline to faith, and assuming a direct walk which was not a perpetual
dodging between opposed errors. I ventured in one of my novels,
_Red-Spider_, to sketch this sort of parson, who never in the pulpit
insisted on a doctrine lest he should offend a Dissenter, nor on a duty
lest he should make a Churchman uneasy. And it was characteristic of
the race. In the Faroes there are sixteen different names for fogs,
and the articles of the Christian faith were only varieties in fogs to
these spiritual pastors. The nebulous theory prevailed in astronomy,
and in divinity as well. Some old-fashioned people resented the
resolution of the nebulæ into fixed stars; and so also in that other
province do they look on it as next to sacrilege to give to faith
definition.

It is, however, only since parsons have begun to see definite ends
that they have assumed any steadfastness in their walk and directness
in their course. In Fielding's time the country parsons wore their
cassocks as a usual dress. "Adams stood up," he relates, "and presented
a figure to the gentleman which would have moved laughter in many, for
his cassock had just fallen down below his great-coat, that is to say,
it reached his knees, whereas the skirts of his great-coat descended no
lower than half-way down his thighs."

[Illustration: Parson in cassock.]

The bands were always worn, the makeshift for the old Steenkirk tie
of fine white linen edged with more or less deep lace. Knee-breeches,
buckled shoes, and a black cocked hat completed his attire.

Some of the old Derby Uncle Toby jugs represent the beer-drinking
parson of an age a little later. The cassock has disappeared, and he
wears a clerical long black coat, with bands and white stockings. The
apron of the bishop is the reminiscence of the cassock, as the hat tied
up with strings of the archdeacon is the last survival of the cocked
hat.

The parson and his parishioners were on very good terms. When the Vicar
of Wakefield came to his new cure, the village turned out to meet him
with pipe and drum. Nevertheless there was occasional friction, mainly,
if not altogether, relative to tithe gathering. There is a harvest-home
song Dryden wrote for, or introduced into his play, _King Arthur; or,
The British Worthy_, in 1691, which forms part of the enchantments of
Merlin, and is sung by Comus and a set of peasants--

    "We have cheated the parson, we'll cheat him again,
    For why should a blockhead have one in ten?
        One in ten,
        One in ten;
    For why should a blockhead have one in ten,
    For prating so long, like a book-learned sot,
    Till pudding and dumpling burn to pot?
        Burn to pot."

There can be little question that the parson did get cheated over and
over again, and bore it without a murmur.

An amusing ballad is sung to this day in the west of England relative
to the way in which parsons were treated by their parishioners--

    "There wor a man in our town,
    I knowed him well, 'twor Passon Brown,
    A man of credit and renown,
        For--he wor _our_ Passon.

    Passon he had got a sheep,
    Merry Christmas he would keep;
    Decent Passon he--and cheap,
        Well-spoke--and not a cross 'un.

    Us had gotten nort to eat,
    So us stole the Passon's sheep--
    Merry Christmas us would keep;
        We ate 'n for our dinner.

    Us enjoyed our Christmas day;
    Passon preached, and said, 'Let's pray,
    But I'm a fasting saint; aye, aye!
        You'm each a wicked sinner.'

    Cruel vex'd wor Passon Brown,
    Sick to death he laid him down
    Passonless was soon our town,
        For why?--we'd starved our Passon.

    Tell'y--did'y ever hear
    Such a story, true but queer,
    How 'twixt Christmas and New Year
        The flock had ate their Passon?"

There was non-residence undoubtedly previous to the Act against
holding more than one living at a time, unless near together. Men of
birth and influence obtained a good deal of preferment, but never in
post-Reformation times to the extent that this abuse existed before.
To take but one instance. Thomas Cantilupe, who died in 1282, was
Precentor and Canon of York, Archdeacon of Stafford and Canon of
Lichfield, Canon of London, Canon of Hereford, and held the livings of
Doderholt, Hampton, Aston, Wintringham, Deighton, Rippel, Sunterfield,
and apparently also Prestbury. Pretty well! It was never so bad in the
maligned Hanoverian period.

I had a living in Essex which was held formerly by a certain Bramston
Staynes, who was a squarson in Essex, and held simultaneously three
other livings; there was one curate to serve the three churches. The
rector is said to have visited one of his livings twice only in the
twenty years of his incumbency--once to read himself in, the other time
to settle some dispute relative to the payment of his tithes.

I can recall several instances of the old scholar-parson, a man
chap-ful of quotations. One, a very able classic, and a great
naturalist, was rather fond of the bottle. "Mr. West," said a neighbour
one day, "I hear you have a wonderfully beautiful spring of water in
your glebe." "Beautiful! surpassing! _fons Blandusiæ, splendidior
vitro!_-- water so good that I never touch it--afraid of drinking too
much of it."

Some twenty-five years ago I knew another, a fine scholar, an old
bachelor, living in a very large rectory. He was a man of good
presence, courteous, old-world manners, and something of old-world
infirmities. His sense of his religious responsibilities in the parish
was different in quality to that affected now-a-days.

He was very old when I knew him, and was often laid up with gout.
One day, hearing that he was thus crippled, I paid him a visit, and
encountered a party of women descending the staircase from his room.
When I entered he said to me, "I suppose you met little Mary So-and-so
and Janie What's-her-name going out? I've been churching them up here
in my bed-room, as I can't go to church."

When a labourer desired to have his child privately baptized, he
provided a bottle of rum, a pack of cards, a lemon, and a basin of pure
water, then sent for the parson and the farmer for whom he worked. The
religious rite over, the basin was removed, the table cleared, cards
and rum produced, and sat down to. On such occasions the rector did
not return home till late, and the housekeeper left the library window
unhasped for the master, but locked the house doors. Under the library
window was a violet bed, and it was commonly reported that the rector
had on more than one occasion slept in that bed after a christening.
Unable to heave up his big body to the sill of the window, he had
fallen back among the violets, and there slept off the exertion.

I never had the opportunity of hearing the old fellow preach. His
conversation--whether addressing a gentleman, a lady, or one of the
lower classes--was garnished with quotations from the classic authors,
Greek and Latin, with which his surprising memory was richly stored;
and I cannot think that he could resist the temptation of introducing
them into his discourse from the pulpit, yet I heard no hint of this
in the only sermon of his which was repeated to me by one of his
congregation. The occasion of its delivery was this.

He was highly incensed at a long engagement being broken off between
some young people in his parish, so next Sunday he preached on "Let
love be without dissimulation;" and the sermon, which on this occasion
was extempore, was reported by those who heard it to consist of little
more than this--"You see, my dearly beloved brethren, what the Apostle
says--Let love be without dissimulation. Now I'll tell y' what I think
dissimulation is. When a young chap goes out a walking with a girl,--as
nice a lass as ever you saw, with an uncommon fresh pair o' cheeks
and pretty black eyes too, and not a word against her character, very
respectably brought up,--when, I say, my dearly beloved brethren, a
young chap goes out walking with such a young woman, after church of
a summer evening, seen of every one, and offers her his arm, and they
look friendly like at each other, and at times he buys her a present
at the fair, a ribbon, or a bit of jewellery--I cannot say I have
heard, and I don't say that I have seen,--when, I say, dearly beloved
brethren, a young chap like this goes on for more than a year, and lets
everybody fancy they are going to be married,--I don't mean to say that
at times a young chap may see a nice lass and admire her, and talk to
her a bit, and then go away and forget her--there's no dissimulation
in that;--but when it goes on a long time, and he makes her to think
he's very sweet upon her, and that he can't live without her, and he
gives her ribbons and jewellery that I can't particularize, because I
haven't seen them--when a young chap, dearly beloved brethren--" and
so on and so on, becoming more and more involved. The parties preached
about were in the church, and the young man was just under the pulpit,
with the eyes of the whole congregation turned on him. The sermon had
its effect--he reverted to his love, and without any dissimulation, we
trust, married her.

The Christmas and the Easter decorations in this old fellow's church
were very wonderful. There was a Christmas text, and that did service
also for Easter. The decorating of the church was intrusted to the
schoolmaster, a lame man, and his wife, and consisted in a holly or
laurel crutch set up on one side of the chancel, and a "jaws of death"
on the other. This appalling symbol was constructed like a set of teeth
in a dentist's shop-window--the fangs were made of snipped or indented
white drawing paper, and the gums of overlapping laurel leaves stitched
down one on the other.

A very good story was told of this old parson, which is, I believe,
quite true. He was invited to spend a couple of days with a great
squire some miles off. He went, stayed his allotted time, and
disappeared. Two days later the lady of the house, happening to go
into the servants'-hall in the evening, found, to her amazement,
her late guest--there. After he had finished his visit up-stairs,
at the invitation of the butler he spent the same time below. "Like
Persephone, madam," he said,--"half my time above, half in the nether
world."

In the matter of personal neatness he left much to be desired. His
walled garden was famous for its jargonelle pears. Lady X--, one day
coming over, said to him, "Will you come back in my carriage with
me, and dine at the Park? You can stay the night, and be driven home
to-morrow."

"Thank you, my lady, delighted. I will bring with me some jargonelles.
I'll go and fetch them."

Presently he returned with a little open basket and some fine pears
in it. Lady X-- looked at him, with a troubled expression in her
sweet face. The rector was hardly in dining suit; moreover, there was
apparent no equipment for the night.

"Dear Mr. M--, will you not _really_ want something further? You will
dine with us, _and sleep the night_."

A vacant expression stole over his countenance, as he retired into
himself in thought. Presently a flash of intelligence returned, and he
said with briskness, "Ah! to be sure; I'll go and fetch two or three
more jargonelles."

A kind, good-hearted man the scholar-parson was, always ready to put
his hand into his pocket at a tale of distress, but quite incapable
of understanding that his parishioners might have spiritual as well
as material requirements. I remember a case of a very similar man--a
fellow of his college, and professor at Cambridge--to whom a young
student ventured to open some difficulties and doubts that tortured
him. "Difficulties! doubts!" echoed the old gentleman. "Take a couple
of glasses of port. If that don't dispel them, take two more, and
continue the dose till you have found ease of mind."

But to return to our country parson, who had the jargonelles. His
church was always well attended. Quite as large a congregation was
to be found in it as in other parish churches, where all the modern
appliances of music, popular preaching, parish visitations, clubs and
bible-classes were in force. Perhaps the reason was that he was not too
spiritually exacting. Many of our enthusiastic modern parsons attempt
to screw up their people into a condition of spiritual exaltation which
they are quite unable to maintain permanently, and then they become
discouraged at the inevitable, invariable relapse.

We suppose that one main cause of dissent is the deadness and dulness
of the Church service before the revival of late days; and we
attribute this deadness and dulness to the indifference of these _bêtes
noirs_, the clergy of last century. I doubt it.

At the time of the Commonwealth our churches had been gutted of
everything ornamental and beautiful, and the services reduced to
the most dreary performance of sermon and extempore prayer. At the
Restoration, a very large number indeed of the Presbyterian ministers
conformed, were ordained, and retained the benefices. Naturally they
conducted the Common Prayer as nearly as they could on the lines of
the service they were accustomed to. They had no tradition of what
the Anglican liturgy was; they did not understand it, and they served
it up cold or lukewarm, as unpalatable as possible. They did not like
it themselves, and they did not want their congregations to become
partial to it. The old clergy who were restored were obliged to
content themselves with the merest essentials of Divine worship; their
congregations had grown up without acquaintance with the liturgy--at
all events for some nineteen years they had not heard it, and they did
not want to shock their weak consciences by too sudden a transformation.

When Pepys went to church on November 4, 1660, he entered in his
_Diary_, "Mr. Mills did begin to nibble at the Common Prayer, by saying
Glory be to the Father, &c., after he had read the two psalms; but the
people had been so little used to it, that they could not tell what to
answer." The same afternoon he went to Westminster Abbey, "where the
first time that ever I heard the organs in a cathedral."

Evelyn enters, on March 22, 1678, "now was our Communion-table placed
altar-wise," that is to say, not till eighteen years after the
Restoration! so slowly were alterations made in the churches to bring
them back to their former conditions of decency and order. Whatever
has been done since has been done cautiously and with hesitation, lest
offence should be given.

It was not practicable in our village churches to have the hearty
congregational singing that now prevails, for only a very few could
read, and only such could join in the psalmody.

I have in my possession a diary kept by a kinswoman in 1813. She makes
in that year an entry, "Walked over this Sunday to South Mimms church
to hear a barrel-organ that has just been there erected. It made very
beautiful and appropriate music, and admirably sustained the voices of
the quire, but I do not myself admire these innovations in the conduct
of Divine worship." What would she have said to the innovations that
have taken place since then, had she lived to see them! And they have
been, for the most part, in a right direction; but we must be thankful,
not only for them, but for the evidence they give that the clergy are
somewhat emerging from that condition in which they were, as Crabbe
describes them, when "Fear was their ruling passion"--

                            "All things new
    Were deemed superfluous, useless, or untrue.
    Habit with him was all the test of truth;
    It must be right; I've done it from my youth.
    Questions he answer'd in as brief a way;--
    It must be wrong--it was of yesterday."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

THE HUNTING PARSON.


[Illustration]

Why not? why should not the parson mount his cob and go after the
hounds? A more fresh, invigorating pursuit is not to be found, not one
in which he is brought more in contact with his fellow-men. There was a
breezy goodness about many a hunting parson of the old times that was
in itself a sermon, and was one on the topic that healthy amusement
and Christianity go excellently well together. I had rather any day see
a parson ride along with the pink, than sport the blue ribbon. The last
of our genuine West Country hunting parsons was Jack Russell, whose
life has already been written, but to whom I can bear testimony that he
was a good specimen of the race. I was one day on top of a coach along
with two farmers, one from the parish of Jack Russell, another from
that of another hunting parson, whom we will call Jack Hannaford. They
were discussing their relative parsons. Then he who was under Hannaford
told a scurvy tale of him, whereat his companion said, "Tell'ee what,
all the world knows what your pa'sson be; but as for old Jack Russell,
up and down his backbone, he's as good a Christian, as worthy a pastor,
and as true a gentleman as I ever seed."

In a parish on the Cornish side of the estuary of the Tamar, some
little while ago, the newly appointed rector, turning over the register
of baptisms in the vestry, was much astonished at seeing entries of
the christening of boys only. "Why, Richard!" said he to the clerk,
"however comes this about--are there only boys born in this place?"

"Please your Reverence, 'tain't that; but as they won't take the girls
into the dockyard at Devonport, 'tain't no good baptizing 'em." The
boys were christened only for the sake of the register requisite to
present on admission into the Government dockyard. But if the boys were
given baptism only, the girls devoted their efforts to show that they
fell behind in masculine gifts in no sort, and the women of the village
have approved themselves remarkable Amazons; they pull a boat, carry
loads, speak gruff, wear moustache, very much as does a man.

Now, the unfortunate thing is, that the English clergy of the new
epoch do seem to have been only ordained because they are feeble and
effeminate youths. After ordination the curates are thrust into the
society of pious and feeble women, and contract feeble and womanish
ways. Just as in the Cornish parish only boys were baptized, so does it
really seem as though only girlish youngsters pass under the bishop's
hands, so that ordination becomes a pledge of effeminacy. Therefore, in
my opinion, it would be a wholesome corrective if they could go after
the hounds occasionally.

It is one thing to make of hunting a pursuit, and another to take it as
a relaxation. The apostles were sportsmen, that is to say, they fished;
and if it is lawful to go after fish, I take it there can be no harm
in going after a hare or a fox; but then--only occasionally, and as a
moral and constitutional bracer.

As said of the ordinary country parson, the good is forgotten and
the evil is remembered, so is it with the hunting parson. The simple
worthy rector who attended his sick, was good to the poor, preached
a wholesome sermon, and was seen occasionally at the meet, is not
remembered,--Jack Russell is the exception,--but the memory of the bad
hunting parson never dies.

There is a characteristic song about the typical indifferent hunting
parson that was much sung some fifty years ago. It ran thus[7]--

[Music: PARSON HOGG.

_Arranged by the_ Rev. H. Fleetwood Sheppard, M.A.]

[Music]

    Mess Parson Hogg shall now maintain
      The burden of my song, sir!
    A single life perforce he led,
      Of constitution strong, sir.
            Sing tally ho! sing tally ho!
      sing tally ho! why zounds, sir!
    He mounts his mare to hunt the hare,
      Sing Tally ho! the hounds, sir.

    And every day he goes to mass
      He first pulls on his boot, sir!
    That, should the beagles chance to pass,
      He may join in the pursuit, sir!
            Sing, Tally ho! &c.

    That Parson little loveth prayer,
      And pater night and morn, sir!
    For bell and book hath little care,
      But dearly loves the horn, sir!
            Sing, Tally ho! &c.

    St. Stephen's day that holy man
      He went a pair to wed, sir!
    When as the service was begun,
      Puss by the churchyard sped, sir!
            Sing, Tally ho! &c.

    He shut his book. "Come on," he said,
      "I'll pray and bless no more, sir!"
    He drew the surplice o'er his head,
      And started for the door, sir!
            Sing, Tally ho! &c.

    In pulpit Parson Hogg was strong,
      He preached without a book, sir!
    And to the point, but never long,
      And this the text he took, sir!
            O Tally ho! O Tally ho!
              Dearly Beloved--zounds, sir!
            I mount my mare to hunt the hare,
              Singing, Tally ho! the hounds, sir!

One of the very worst types of the hunting parson was that man Chowne,
whom Mr. Blackmore has immortalized in his delightful story of _The
Maid of Sker_. Many of the tales told in that novel relative to
Chowne--the name of course is fictitious--are quite true. As I happen
to know a good many particulars of the life of this man, I will here
give them.

He was rector of a wild lonely parish situated on high ground--ground
so high that trees did not flourish about the rectory, nor did
flowers thrive in his garden. Flowers in Chowne's garden! the idea is
inconceivable. The people were wild and rough in those days, especially
so in that storm-beaten, almost Alpine spot, accessible still only
by abominable roads up hill and down dale, like riding over the waves
of a stormy sea. They were not, therefore, particularly shocked at
their parson's lack of sweetness and light. Probably, if they thought
anything about this, they considered that sweetness and light were as
ill adapted to Blackamoor as lilies and roses. His force of character
impressed them, and commanded and obtained respect. To shock moral
feelings, moral feelings must first exist. The parson was not disliked,
he was feared. A curious man he was in appearance, with eyes hard,
boring, dark, that made a man on whom they were fixed shiver to his
toes. The parishioners believed he had the evil eye, and "over-looked"
or "ill-wished" those whom he desired to injure, or any one who had
given him offence. There is no breaking such a spell save by drawing
the blood of the "over-looker," and no one was hardy enough to attempt
this of Chowne. When a woman is thought to have cast a spell through
her malignant eye, the person that suffers scratches the inflicter of
evil.

The story told in _The Maid of Sker_, of Chowne breaking up the road
to prevent the bishop visiting him, is true. Dr. Phillpotts was then
bishop, and he was eminently dissatisfied with what he heard of the
ecclesiastical and moral condition of Blackamoor and its parson.
He therefore drove there to make a personal visitation. Chowne,
forewarned, employed men to dig up the road for a space of about twenty
feet, and the hole they made was filled in with bog-water, then the
whole lightly covered over with turf and strewn with dust. The Bishop's
carriage and horses floundered in and was upset. Henry of Exeter
was, however, not the man to be daunted by such an accident--that it
was not an accident, but a deliberate attempt to stay his course, he
saw at once by the condition of the road. He went on to Blackamoor,
and reached the parsonage. There he found Chowne in his dining-room,
sullen, with his wicked black eyes watching him. His head was for the
most part bald, but he had one long wisp of dark hair that he twisted
about his bald pate. Chowne put a bottle of brandy on the table, and a
couple of tumblers, and bade the Bishop help himself.

"No, thank you, Mr. Chowne," said the Bishop briefly.

"Ah! my lord, you may do without it, maybe, at Exeter, but up at this
height we must drink or perish of dulness."

Then he helped himself to a stiff glass, and relapsed into silence.
Presently the Bishop said--

"You keep hounds, I hear."

"No, my lord, the hounds keep me."

"I do not understand."

"Well, then, you must be mighty stupid. They stock my larder with
hares. You don't suppose I should have hares on my table unless they
were caught for me. There's no butcher for miles and miles, and I can't
get a joint but once in a fortnight maybe; what should I do without
rabbits and hares? Forced to eat 'em, and they must be caught to be
eaten."

"Mr. Chowne," said Henry of Exeter, "I've been told that you have men
in here with you drinking and fighting."

"It's a lie. I admit that they drink,--every man drinks since he was a
baby,--but fight in my dining-room! No, my lord! Directly they begin to
fight I take 'em by the scruff of the neck, and turn them out into the
churchyard, and let 'em fight out their difference among the tombs."

"I am sorry to say, Mr. Chowne, that I have heard some very queer and
unsatisfactory tales concerning you."

"I dare say you have, my lord;" he fixed his strong eyes on the Bishop.
"So have I of your lordship, very unpleasant and nasty tales, when
I've been to Torrington or Bideford fairs. But when I do, I say it's a
parcel of ---- lies. And when next you hear any of these tales about
me, then you say, 'I know Tom Chowne very well--drunk out of his bottle
of brandy--I swear that all these tales about him is also a parcel of
lies."

The story is told in _The Maid of Sker_ of his having driven a horse
mad by putting a hemp-grain into its eye. That story is thought to
be true. The horse was one he coveted, but it was bought at a higher
figure than he cared to give for it by Sir Walter C----. Chowne shortly
after was at a fair or market where Sir Walter was, who had ridden in
on this very horse. He slipped out of the inn and into the stable, just
before the Baronet left, and thus treated the unfortunate animal, which
went almost mad with the pain, and threw his rider.

He had certain men in the parish, not exactly in his pay, but so
completely under his control, that they executed his suggestions
without demur, whatever they might be, and never for a moment gave
thought that they themselves were free agents. As Henry II. did not
order the murder of Becket, but threw out a hint that it would be an
acceptable thing to him to be rid of the proud prelate, so was it with
Chowne. He never ordered the commission of a crime, but he suggested
the commission. For instance, if a farmer had offended him, he would
say to one of these men subject to his influence, "As I've been
standing in the church porch, Harry, I thought what a terrible thing it
would be if the rick of Farmer Greenaway which I can see over against
me were to burn. 'Twould come home to him pretty sharp, I reckon." Next
night the rick would be on fire. Or he would say to his groom, "Tom,
there's Farmer Moyle going to sup with me at the parsonage to-night.
Shocking thing were his linchpin to be gone, and as he was going down
Blackamoor hill, the wheel were to come off."

That night he would entertain Moyle with unwonted cordiality, pass the
bottle freely, whilst an ominous spark burnt in his pebbly eye. As
the farmer that night drove away, his wheel would come off, and he be
thrown, and be found by the next passer along the road with dislocated
thigh or broken arm and collar-bone.

As already said, he kept a pack of harriers, but in such a wretched,
rattletrap set of kennels that they occasionally broke loose. This
occurred once on Sunday, and just as Chowne was going to the pulpit,
the pack went by. He halted with his hand on the banister, turned to
the clerk, and said, "That's Towler giving voice. Run--he's got the
lead, and will tear the hare to bits."

Thereupon forth went the clerk, and succeeded in securing the hare from
the hounds hunting on their own head. He brought the hare into church,
and threw it under his seat till the sermon was done, the blessing
given, and the congregation dismissed.

Chowne had a housekeeper named Sally. One day Chowne came down very
smartly dressed.

"Where be you a-going to to-day?" asked Sally.

"That's no concern of yours," answered the rector; "but I don't mind
telling you either--I'm going to be married."

"Why! for sure, you're not going to be such a fool as that!" exclaimed
the housekeeper.

"I don't know but what it may be a folly," growled Chowne; "but, Sally,
it's a folly you are bent on committing too."

To this Sally, who for some time had been keeping company with one Joe,
made no reply.

"Now look'ye here," said Chowne. "I don't want you to marry, Sally.
It's no reason because I make a fool o' myself, that you should go and
do likewise."

"But why not, master?"

"Because I want'y to stay here and see that my wife don't maltreat me,"
answered Chowne. "And I'll tell'y what, Sally--if you'll give up Joe,
I'll give thee the fat pig. Which will'y now prefer, Joe or the porker?"

Sally considered for a moment, and then said, "Lauk! sir, I'd rayther
have the pig."

And now must be told how it was that Chowne was brought to the marriage
state.

There was in the neighbourhood a yeoman family named Heathman, and
there was a handsome daughter belonged to the house. Chowne had
paid her some of his insolent attentions, that meant, if they meant
anything, some contemptuous admiration. Her brothers were angry. It was
reported that Chowne had spoken of their sister, moreover, in a manner
they would not brook; so they invited him to their house, made him
drunk, and when drunk sign a paper promising to marry Jane Heathman
before three months were up, or to forfeit £10,000. They took care to
have this document well attested, and next morning presented it to
Chowne, who had forgotten all about it. He was much put out, blustered,
cajoled, tried to laugh it off--all to no purpose. The brothers
insisted on his either taking Jane to wife, or paying the stipulated
sum. He asked for delay, and rode off to consult his friend Hannaford.

"Bless 'y," said Hannaford, "ten thousand pounds is a terrible big sum
to pay. Take the creature."

Thus it came about that Chowne yielded to the less disagreeable
alternative. Poor Jane Heathman! she little thought of what was in
store for her. Her brothers had shown her a cruel kindness in forcing
her into the arms of a reluctant suitor.

To return to the wedding day, after the offer made to and accepted by
Sally.

About one o'clock Chowne returned alone, seated himself composedly in
his dining-room, and ordered dinner.

"But where be the wife?" asked Sally. "Haven't 'ee been married then?"

"Aye, married I have been, though."

"But where be Mistress Chowne?"

"She's at the public-house good three miles from here, Sally. She said
to me as we were coming along, 'That is a point on which I differ from
you.' Some point on which we were speaking. So I stopped, and looked
her in the face, and I said to her, 'Mrs. Chowne, I never allow any one
outside my house to differ from me, and not everlastingly repent it
afterwards. And I won't allow any one inside my house to differ from
me. So you can remain at this tavern and turn the matter over in your
mind. If you intend to have no will of your own, and no opinion other
than mine, then you can walk on at your leisure to Blackamoor. If not,
you can turn back and go home to where you came from. Nobody expects
you at Blackamoor, and nobody wants you there. So you are heartily
welcome to keep away. So--serve the dinner, Sally, for _one_."

An hour and a half later the bride arrived on foot, forlorn and
humbled, and met with an ungracious reception from Sally.

Sally had the pig that had been promised her killed, cut up, and sold.
After a while Chowne suspected that she was still keeping company
with Joe. He was very angry, for he felt that he had been done out of
the pig on false pretences; so he went off with his wife to stay with
Parson Hannaford, and gave out he would not return for a week. On the
second evening, however, he suddenly returned, and came bounding in at
the door; and sure enough Joe was there, come courting, and to eat his
supper with Sally. The housekeeper, hearing the tread of her master,
bade Joe fly and get out of his reach. But the back-door was fastened,
and Joe, in his alarm, jumped into the copper. Sally put the lid on,
and dashed into the passage to meet her master.

"Where's Joe? I'm sure he's here. You've cut too much of my ham to fry
for yourself alone. You've drawn too much ale. I'm sure Joe is here!"
shouted Chowne, looking about him.

"Deary life, sir!" exclaimed the housekeeper, "I protest! I don't know
where he can be. Why, master, you know I gave him up for the sake of
the pig."

Chowne's eye wandered about the kitchen, and noticed--what was
unusual--the lid on the copper in the adjoining back-kitchen, that
served also as laundry.

"Sally," said he, "put some water into the copper to boil. I'm going to
dip the pups. They've got the mange."

"Ain't there enough in the kettle, master?"

"No, there is not. Put water into the copper."

Accordingly Sally was forced to fill a can at the pump, and pour water
into the copper over her lover, removing for the purpose only a corner
of the cover.

"There, master. Do'y let me serve you up some supper, and I'll get the
water heated after."

"No," said Chowne, "I'll stand here till it boils. Shove in some
browse" (light firewood).

Reluctantly the browse was put in under the cauldron, and was lighted.
It flared up.

"Now some hard wood, Sally," said the parson.

Still more reluctantly were sawn logs inserted. A moment after up went
the copper lid, and out scrambled Joe, hot and dripping.

"Ah! I reckoned you was there," shouted Chowne, and went at him with
his horse-whip, and lashed the fellow about the kitchen, down the
passage, into the hall, and out at the front door, where he dismissed
him with a kick.

I tell the tale as it was told to me, but I suspect the conclusion of
this story. It reminds me of a familiar folk-tale. But then--is it not
the prerogative of such tales to attach themselves to the last human
notoriety?

[Illustration: Parson Chowne and Sally's young Man.]

That this same crop, or hunting-whip, was applied to Mrs. Chowne's
shoulders and back was commonly reported in Blackamoor, and indeed is
so reported even unto this day.

The following story is on the authority of Jack Russell, Vicar of
Swimbridge. He had called one day at Blackamoor parsonage, and found
Chowne sitting over his fire smoking, and Mrs. Chowne sitting in one
corner of the room, against the wall. Her husband had turned his back
on her. Russell was uneasy, and asked if Mrs. Chowne were unwell.
Chowne turned his head over his shoulder and asked, "Mrs. Chowne, be
you satisfied or be you not? You know the terms of agreement come to
between us. If you are not satisfied, you can go home to your friends,
and I won't hinder you from going. I don't care a hang myself whether
you stay or whether you go."

"I am content," said the lady faintly.

"Very well," said Chowne. "Then we'll have a drop of cider, Jack. Go
and fetch us a jug and tumblers, madam."

In _The Maid of Sker_ Chowne is represented as torn to pieces by his
hounds. The real Chowne did not meet this fate. His death was, however,
tragic in another aspect. He had left his rectory, and lived in a
more sheltered spot in a house of his own. Before the windows grew a
particularly handsome box-tree. Now Chowne had done some dastardly mean
and cruel act to a young farmer near, tricking him out of a large sum
of money in a way peculiarly base.

One night the box-tree was taken up and carried away, no one knew
whither, though every one suspected by whom. Chowne raged over this
insult; and as he was unable to bring the act home to the culprit, his
rage was impotent. But the uprooting of the box-tree was apparently
the death of him. He felt that the dread he had inspired was gone, his
control over the neighbourhood was lost, the spell of his personality
was broken. This thought, even more than mortified rage at being unable
to discover and punish the man who had pulled up his box-tree, broke
him down, and he rapidly sank, intellectually and physically, into a
ruin, and died.

Chowne had a friend, a man, if possible, worse than himself, him whom
we will call Jack Hannaford, who was Vicar of Wellclose. It was said
that Hannaford was brutal, but Chowne fiendish.

Hannaford was an immensely powerful man. He said one day to his
groom, "Come on, Bill, we'll go over to Bidlake and take a rise out
of Welford"--afterwards Lord Lundy. So they blackened their faces,
disguised themselves in cast-off clothes, and went to the lodge at
Bidlake. They were denied admittance, but forced their way in and
walked up the drive. The lodge-keeper ran after them and attacked the
groom, who at once buckled-to for a fight. Then a couple of keepers
burst out from the shrubbery.

"Leave them alone," said Hannaford. "It's a pretty sight. Don't
interfere to spoil sport."

However, one of the keepers went at the groom, to the relief of the
lodge-keeper.

"Oh, you will, will you," said Hannaford. He caught him with his huge
hand and cast him on the gravel. The other keeper fared no better. The
groom had in the meantime demolished his man; so he and his master
sauntered along the drive without further molestation till they reached
the house. Hannaford went to the door to ring, when the Hon. Mr.
Welford appeared, and angrily inquired what was their business.

"Work, your honour," answered Hannaford, pulling a forelock.

"Work is it you want? But did not my keepers stop your coming up this
way?"

"They tried it, but they couldn't do it," answered Hannaford. "There
they be--skulking along."

"They could not stop you?"

"We flung three of them in the road," answered Hannaford. "And now I
reckon your honour will give us something to drink your health."

Mr. Welford gave them a crown and dismissed them--also, it is said,
the keepers. If so, that was hardly fair, for Hannaford was the
strongest man in England. He was beaten but once, and that was in
Exeter, when drunk. He had gone over to the city for a spree, and had
put up at a low public-house. There he met with a Welshman, and had a
fight with him, and was horribly mauled about the head and body. Next
day, when sober, Hannaford followed the man by train to Bristol, and
thence tracked him to some little out-of-the-way place in Wales. He
proceeded to his door, knocked, called the man out, and fought him
there and then--and this time utterly thrashed him. When the fellow was
so knocked about that he could not speak and hold up, "There," said
the Devonshire parson, "now take care how you lay a finger on Jack
Hannaford again when he is drunk. If you wish for a return bout, call
at your will at Wellclose Parsonage, and you'll find him ready."

Some years ago a famous prize-fighter went about England on exhibition.
He came to Taunton, but was there taken ill, and unable to show
himself. The manager at once wrote or telegraphed to Jack Hannaford,
and he went up with alacrity to supply his place. He was stripped,
showed his muscles, and his mode of hitting, as the advertised
pugilist. The Taunton people would have been none the wiser, but, as it
happened, Lord Lundy was in the tent. Hannaford caught his eye, and saw
that he was recognized; so he went over to his lordship and whispered,
"Mum, my lord. The second best man in England was laid on the shelf, so
they had to telegraph for the best man to take his place."

Hannaford would never give any pocket-money to his sons till they were
strong enough to knock him down. Then each received a five-pound note,
which he was considered at length to have deserved by having made proof
of his manhood.

It is a fact that on market days, when Hannaford was seen on the
platform with his ticket for the market town, the farmers would bribe
the guard to put him into a carriage by himself and lock him in, so
afraid were they of being in the same compartment with the parson, who
would challenge and fight a man in a railway carriage as readily as
anywhere else.

Though a hunting parson, of altogether different character was Jack
Russell. He was a sporting man to the end of his fingers and toes, but
a most worthy, kind-hearted, God-fearing, righteous man.

One story of Jack Russell that is not, I believe, told in his _Life_,
is worth repeating. When he was over eighty, he started keeping a pack
of harriers. The then Bishop of Exeter sent for him.

"Mr. Russell, I hear you have got a pack of hounds. Is it true?"

"It is. I won't deny it, my lord."

"Well, Mr. Russell, it seems to me rather unsuitable for a clergyman
to keep a pack. I do not ask you to give up hunting, for I know it
would not be possible for you to exist without _that_. But will you, to
oblige me, give up the pack?"

"Do'y ask it as a personal favour, my lord?"

"Yes, Mr. Russell, as a personal favour."

"Very well, then, my lord, I will."

"Thank you, thank you." The Bishop, moved by his readiness, held out
his hand. "Give me your hand, Mr. Russell; you are--you really are--a
good fellow."

Jack Russell gave his great fist to the Bishop, who pressed it warmly.
As they thus stood hand in hand, Jack said,

"I won't deceive you--not for the world, my lord. I'll give up the
pack, sure enough--but Mrs. Russell will keep it instead of me."

The Bishop dropped his hand.

That men like Chowne and Hannaford were unpopular in their parishes
I have never heard. I do not believe they were troubled with any
aggrieved parishioners. The unpopular man in his parish is he who tries
to raise the moral and spiritual tone of his people. They do not like
to be made to think that all is not well with them, and it affords them
satisfaction to think that they are not worse, if no better, than their
pastor.

I know a parish in quite another part of England where the attendance
at church was very thin, till the incumbent was one day accidentally, I
believe, overtaken with drink, and was had up before the magistrates.
After that his church filled, he became a popular man--he had come down
to the level of his people.

But, as already said, it is of the bad parsons, as of the bad squires,
that stories are told, and told from generation to generation; whereas
those of spotless life--the vast bulk of them are such--drop year by
year out of existence, and at the same time out of memory.

In the parish in which I live there was a rector, about seventy years
ago, who in his old age went to the neighbouring town, nine miles off,
to live, and when asked by the Bishop why he was non-resident, said
that there was no barber nearer who could curl his wig.

That man held the living for a long term of years; he may have done
good,--that he did evil I do not think, because the only thing
remembered against him is, that he did not live in a place where his
wig could not be curled. But is it not sad!--a long life's labour spent
among the poor, preaching God's word, ministering to the sick and
afflicted and broken-hearted, and all passing away without leaving the
smallest trace, indeed the only reminiscence of the man being, that he
hurt the _amour propre_ of the parish by telling the Bishop there was
no one in it competent to curl his wig.

[Illustration: Old Chained Bibles.]

FOOTNOTE:

[7] From _Songs of the West: Traditional Songs and Ballads of the West
of England._ Collected by S. Baring Gould and H. Fleetwood Sheppard.
London: Methuen & Co. 1889.



CHAPTER VII.

COUNTRY DANCES.


[Illustration]

Clisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, says Herodotus, had a beautiful daughter
whom he resolved to marry to the most accomplished of the Greeks.
Accordingly all the eligible young men of Greece resorted to the court
of Sicyon to offer for the hand of the lovely Agarista. Among these,
the most distinguished was Hippoclides, and the king decided to take
him as his son-in-law.

[Illustration: Hippoclides before Clisthenes.]

Clisthenes had already invited the guests to the nuptial feast, and had
slaughtered one hundred oxen to the gods to obtain a blessing on the
union, when Hippoclides offered to exhibit the crown and climax of his
many accomplishments.

He ordered a flute-player to play a dance tune, and when the musician
obeyed, he (Hippoclides) began to dance before the king and court and
guests, and danced to his own supreme satisfaction.

After the first bout, and he had rested awhile and recovered breath,
he ordered a table to be introduced, and he danced figures on it, and
finally set his head on the table and gesticulated with his legs.

When the applause had ceased, Clisthenes said--as the young man had
reverted to his feet and stood expectantly before him--"You have danced
very well, but I don't want a dancing son-in-law."

How greatly we should like to know what Herodotus does not tell us,
whether the tyrant of Sicyon was of a sour and puritanical mind,
objecting to dancing on principle, or whether he objected to the
peculiar kind of dance performed by Hippoclides, notably that with his
head on the table and his legs kicking in the air.

I do not think that such a thing existed at that period as puritanical
objection to dancing, but I imagine that it was the sort of dance
which offended Clisthenes. Lucian in one of his Dialogues introduces
a philosopher who reproaches a friend for being addicted to dancing,
whereupon the other replies that dancing was of Divine invention, for
the goddess Rhæa first composed set dances about the infant Jupiter to
hide him from the eyes of his father Saturn, who wanted to eat him.
Moreover, Homer speaks with high respect of dancing, and declares that
the grace and nimbleness of Merion in the dance distinguished him
above the rest of the heroes in the contending hosts of Greeks and
Trojans. He adds that in Greece statues were erected to the honour of
the best dancers, so highly was the art held in repute, and that Hesiod
places on one footing valour and dancing, when he says that "The gods
have bestowed fortitude on some men, and on others a disposition for
dancing!" Lastly, he puts the philosopher in mind that Socrates not
only admired the saltatory exercise in others, but learned it himself
when he was an old man.

On hearing this defence of dancing, the morose philosopher in Lucian's
Dialogue professes himself a convert, and requests his friend to take
him to the next subscription ball.

Steele, in the _Spectator_, declared that "no one ever was a good
dancer that had not a good understanding," and that it is an art
whereby mechanically, so to speak, "a sense of good-breeding and virtue
are insensibly implanted in minds not capable of receiving it so well
in any other rules."

I cannot help thinking that the dancing commended by the _Spectator_,
learned in old age by Socrates, and that in which the Greeks won the
honour of statues, was something far removed from that which incurred
the displeasure of Clisthenes, and lost Hippoclides the hand of his
beautiful mistress.

Here is a letter in the _Spectator_, given in Steele's article. It
purports to be from a father, Philipater: "I am a widower, with one
daughter; she was by nature much inclined to be a romp, and I had no
way of educating her, but commanding a young woman, whom I entertained
to take care of her, to be very watchful in her care and attendance
about her. I am a man of business and obliged to be much abroad. The
neighbours have told me, that in my absence our maid has let in the
spruce servants in the neighbourhood to junketings, while my girl
play'd and romped even in the street. To tell you the plain truth, I
catched her once, at eleven years old, at chuck-farthing, among the
boys. This put me upon new thoughts about my child, and I determined
to place her at a boarding-school. I took little notice of my girl
from time to time, but saw her now and then in good health, out of
harm's way, and was satisfied. But by much importunity, I was lately
prevailed with to go to one of their balls. I cannot express to you
the anxiety my silly heart was in, when I saw my romp, now fifteen,
taken out. I could not have suffered more, had my whole fortune been
at stake. My girl came on with the most becoming modesty I had ever
seen, and casting a respectful eye, as if she feared me more than all
the audiency, I gave a nod, which, I think, gave her all the spirit
she assumed upon it, but she rose properly to that dignity of aspect.
My romp, now the most graceful person of her sex, assumed a majesty
which commanded the highest respect. You, Mr. Spectator, will, better
than I can tell you, imagine all the different beauties and changes of
aspect in an accomplished young woman, setting forth all her beauties
with a design to please no one so much as her father. My girl's lover
can never know half the satisfaction that I did in her that day. I
could not possibly have imagined that so great improvement could have
been wrought by an art that I always held in itself ridiculous and
contemptible. There is, I am convinced, no method like this, to give
young women a sense of their own value and dignity; and I am sure there
can be none so expeditious to communicate that value to others. For my
part, my child has danced herself into my esteem, and I have as great
an honour of her as ever I had for her mother, from whom she derived
those latent good qualities which appeared in her countenance when she
was dancing; for my girl showed in one quarter of an hour the innate
principles of a modest virgin, a tender wife, and generous friend, a
kind mother, and an indulgent mistress."

It is a curious fact that the beautiful and graceful dance, the dance
as a fine art, is extinct among us. It has been expelled by the
intrusive waltz. And if in the waltz any of that charm of modesty,
grace of action, and dignity of posture can be found, which delighted
our forefathers and made them esteem dancing, then let it be shown. It
was not waltzing which made Merion to be esteemed among the heroes of
the Trojan war; it was not waltzing certainly that Socrates acquired
in his old age; and it most assuredly was not whilst she was waltzing
that the correspondent of the _Spectator_ admired in his daughter the
modest virgin. It is possible that it was a sort of topsy-turvy waltz
Hippoclides performed, and which lost him the daughter of Clisthenes.

The dance is not properly the spinning around of two persons of
opposite sex hugging each other, and imitating the motion of a
teetotum. The dance is an assemblage of graceful movements and figures
performed by a set number of persons. There is singular beauty in the
dance proper. The eye is pleased by a display of graceful and changing
outline, by bringing into play the muscles of well-moulded limbs. But
where many performers take part the enchantment is increased, just as
part-singing is more lovely than solo-singing; for to the satisfaction
derived from the graceful attitude of one performer is added that of
beautiful grouping. A single well-proportioned figure is a goodly
sight; several well-proportioned figures in shifting groups, now in
clusters, now swinging loose in wreaths, now falling into line or
circles; whilst an individual, or a pair, focus the interest, is very
beautiful. It is the change in a concert from chorus to solo; and
when, whilst the single dance, projected into prominence, attracts the
delighted eye, the rest of the dancers keep rhythmic motion, subdued,
in simple change, the effect is exquisite. It is the accompaniment on a
living instrument to a solo.

A correspondent of the _Times_ recently gave us an account of the
Japanese ballet, which illustrates what I insist on. He tells us
that the Maikos or Japanese ballet-dancers are girls of from sixteen
to eighteen years of age; they wear long fine silk dresses, natural
flowers in their hair, and hold fans in their hands. Their dance is
perfectly decorous, exquisitely graceful, and of marvellous artistic
beauty. It partakes of the nature of the minuet and the gavotte; it
makes no violent demands on lungs and muscles; its object is to give
pleasure to the spectators through the exhibition of harmony of lines,
elegance of posture, beauty of dress, grace with which the folds of
the long drapery fall, the play of light, and change of arrangement
of colour. It is a dance full of noble and stately beauty, and has
nothing in common with our European ballet, with its extravagance and
indelicacy, and--it must be added--inelegance. It is a play without
words, and a feast of pure delight to the artistic eye.

Æsthetically, the dance is, or may be, one of the most beautiful
creations of man, an art, and an art of no mean order. In it each
man and woman has to sustain a part, is one of many, a member of a
company, enchained to it by laws which all must obey. And yet each has
in his part a certain scope for individual expansion, for the exercise
of liberty. It is a figure of the world of men, in which each has a
part to perform in relation to all the rest. If the performer uses
his freedom to excess, the dancers in the social ball are thrown into
disorder, and the beauty and unity of the performance is lost.

Now all this beauty is taken from us. The waltz has invaded our
ball-rooms, and drives all other dances out of it. Next to the polka,
the waltz is the rudest and most elementary of step and figure-dances;
it has extirpated before it the lovely and intricate dances, highly
artistic, and of elaborate organization, which were performed a century
ago. How is it now in a ball? Even the quadrille and lancers, the sole
remnants of an art beautiful to lookers-on, are sat out, or, after
having been entered on the list, are omitted, and a waltz substituted
for it. "_Valse, valse, toujours valse!_" A book on dances, published
in 1821, speaks of the introduction of the waltz as a new thing, and of
the rarity of finding persons at a ball who could dance it.

"The company at balls having no partners who are acquainted with
waltzing or quadrilles, generally become spectators of each other
in a promenade round the rooms, so that the waltz or quadrille ball
ends in country dances, sometimes not one of these dances being
performed during the evening." That was a little over sixty years
ago. Waltz and quadrille came in hand-in-hand, and displaced the old
artistic and picturesque country dances, and then waltz prevailed,
and kicked quadrille out at the door. The country dance is the old
English dance--the dance of our forefathers--the dance which worked
such wonders in the heart of the old father in Steele's paper in the
_Spectator_.

The English have always been a dancing people, only during the
Commonwealth did they kick their heels, dancing being unallowed;
and at the beginning of this century dancing was discountenanced
among the upper classes by the Evangelicals, and among villagers
almost completely put down, or driven into low public-houses, by the
Dissenters. In 1598 Hentzner describes the English as "excelling in
dancing, and in the art of music;" and says that whilst a man might
hope to become Lord Chancellor through dancing, without being bred to
the law, like Sir Christopher Hatton, it was certainly worth while to
endeavour to excel. According to Barnaby Rich, in 1581 the dances in
vogue were measures--a grave and stately performance, like the minuet,
galliards, jigs, braules, rounds, and hornpipes. In 1602 the Earl of
Worcester writes to the Earl of Shrewsbury, "We are frolic here in
Court, much dancing in the privy chamber of _country dances_ before the
Queen's Majesty, who is exceedingly pleased therewith." In the reign
of James I., Waldon, sneering at Buckingham's kindred, observes that
it is easier to put fine clothes on the back than to learn the French
dances, and therefore that "none but country dances" must be used at
Court. At Christmas, 1622-3, the Prince Charles "did lead the measures
with the French ambassador's wife. The measures--braules, corrantoes,
and galliards--being ended, the masquers with the ladies did dance two
country dances."

In Pepys' _Diary_ we read how he went to see the King dance in
Whitehall. "By and by comes the King and Queen, the Duke (of York) and
the Duchess, and all the great ones; and after seating themselves,
the King takes out the Duchess of York; and the Duke, the Duchess of
Buckingham; the Duke of Monmouth, my Lady Castlemaine; and so other
lords other ladies; and they danced the Brantle. After that the King
led a lady a single coranto; and then the rest of the lords, one after
another, other ladies; very noble it was, and great pleasure to see.
Then to country dances, the King leading the first, which he called
for, which was, says he, '_Cuckolds all awry_,' the old dance of
England. Of the ladies that danced, the Duke of Monmouth's mistress,
and my Lady Castlemaine, and a daughter of Sir Harry de Vicke's, were
the best. The manner was, when the King dances, all the ladies in the
room, and the Queen herself, stand up; and indeed, he dances rarely,
and much better than the Duke of York. Having staid here as long as I
thought fit, to my infinite content, it being the greatest pleasure I
could wish now to see at Court, I went home, leaving them dancing."

All old ballads are set to dance tunes, and derive their name from
_ballet_. Where no instruments were to be had, the dancers sang the
ballad, and so gave the time to their feet. The fact of ballad tunes
being dance tunes has been the occasion of their preservation; for
in _The Compleate Dancing Master_, a collection of dance tunes, the
first edition of which was published in 1650, and which went through
eighteen editions to 1728, a great number have been preserved as dance
tunes, with the titles of the ballads sung to them. In the old country
dances the number of performers was unlimited, but could not consist of
less than six.

What is the origin of our title for certain dances--"Country Dances"?
I venture to think it has nothing to do with the country, though
I have Chappell's weighty opinion against me. The designation was
properly given to all those counter-dances, _contre-dances_, which were
performed by the gentlemen standing on one side, and the ladies on the
other, in lines, in contra-distinction to all round and square dances.
As a general rule, foreign dances are circular or square. In Brittany
is La Boulangère, and among the Basques, La Tapageuse, which are set
in lines; but with a few exceptions, most continental dances were
differentiated from the general type of English dances by being square
or round. There were, no doubt, among our peasantry dances in a ring
about the May-pole, but this was exceptional. A writer at the beginning
of this century says,--"An English country dance differs from any other
known dance in form and construction, except _Ecossaise_ and quadrille
country dances, as most others composed of a number of persons are
either round, octagon, circular, or angular. The pastoral dances on the
stage approximate the nearest to English country dances, being formed
longways."

The song and the dance were closely associated; indeed, as already
said, the word _ballet_ is derived from "ballad," or _vice-versâ_; and
all our old dance tunes had appropriate words set to them.

Dargason, a country dance older than the Reformation, found its way
into Wales, where it was set to Welsh words; the English ballad to
which it was usually sung was--

    "It was a maid of my country,
    As she came by a hawthorn tree,
    As full of flowers as might be seen,
    She marvelled to see the tree so green.
    At last she asked of this tree
    How came this freshness unto thee?
    And every branch so fair and clean?
    I marvel that you grow so green."

Doubtless half the charm of a country dance consisted in the dancers
singing the words of the familiar ballad as they went through the
movements of the dance, the burden often occurring at a general joining
of hands and united movement.

An English country dance was composed of the putting together of
several figures, and it allowed of almost infinite variation, according
to the number and arrangement of the figures introduced. Sir Roger de
Coverley, which is not quite driven out, consists of seven figures.
Some figures are quite elementary, as turning the partner, setting,
leading down the middle. Others are more elaborate, as Turn Corners,
and Swing Corners; some are called Short Figures, as requiring in their
performance a whole strain of short measure, or half a strain of long
measure. Long Figures, on the other hand, occupy a strain of eight bars
in long measure--a strain being that part of an air which is terminated
by a double bar, and usually consists in country dances of four, eight,
or sixteen single bars. Country dance tunes usually consist of two
strains, though they sometimes extend to three, four, or five, and of
eight bars each.

The names and character of the old country dances are quite forgotten.

The following is a list of some of the dances given in _The Complete
Country Dancing Master_, published near the beginning of last century--

    Whitehall.
    Ackroyd's Pad.
    The Whirligig.
    Amarillis.
    Buttered Pease.
    Bravo and Florimel.
    Pope Joan.
    Have at thy coat, old woman.
    The Battle of the Boyne.
    The Gossip's Frolic.
    The Intrigue.
    Prince and Princess.
    A Health to Betty.
    Bobbing Joan.
    Sweet Kate.
    Granny's Delight.
    Essex Buildings.
    Lord Byron's Maggot.
    Ballamera.
    The Dumps.
    Rub her down with straw.
    Moll Peatley.
    Cheerily and Merrily.

In Waylet's _Collection of Country Dances_, published in 1749, we have
these--

    The Lass of Livingstone.
    Highland Laddie.
    Down the Burn, Davy.
    Eltham Assembly.
    Cephalus and Procris.
    Joy go with her.
    Duke of Monmouth's Jig.
    Bonny Lass.
    The Grasshopper.
    The Pallet.
    Jack Lattin.
    Fiarnelle's Maggot.
    Buttered Pease.
    The Star.

Some of these dances were simplicity itself, consisting of only a very
few elementary figures. This is the description of _Sweet Kate_.

"Lead up all a double and back. That again. Set your right foot to
your woman's, then your left, clasp your woman on her right hand, then
on the left, wind your hands and hold up your finger, wind your hands
again and hold up another finger of the other hand, then single; and
all this again."

_Bobbing Joan_ is no more than this. First couple dance between the
second, who then take their places, dance down, hands and all round,
first two men snap fingers and change places, first women do the same,
these two changes to the last, and the rest follow.

The tune of _The Triumph_ is still found in collections of dance
music, but it is only here and there in country places that it can be
performed. I saw some old villagers of sixty and seventy years of age
dance it last Christmas, but no young people knew anything about it. It
is a slight, easy, but graceful dance--graceful when not danced by old
gaffers and grannies.

Our English country dances were carried abroad, and became popular
there. "The Italians," writes Horace Walpole from Florence in 1740,
"are fond to a degree of our country dances: _Cold and raw_ they only
know by the tune; _Blouzy-bella_ is almost Italian, and _Buttered
Peas_ is _Pizzelli al buro_." Indeed, as early as 1669, when the Grand
Duke of Tuscany visited England, he was highly taken with the English
dances, and probably on his return to Florence introduced them there.
Count Lorenzo Magalotti, who attended him on his visit, says that he
and the duke attended dancing-schools, "frequented by unmarried and
married ladies, who are instructed by the master, and practise with
much gracefulness and agility various dances after the English fashion.
Dancing is a very common and favourite amusement of the ladies in this
country; every evening there are entertainments at different places in
the city, at which many ladies and citizens' wives are present, they
going to them alone, as they do to the rooms of the dancing-masters,
at which there are frequently upwards of forty or fifty ladies. His
Highness had an opportunity of seeing several dances in the English
style, exceedingly well regulated, and executed in the smartest and
genteelest manner by very young ladies, whose beauty and gracefulness
were shown off to perfection in this exercise." And again, "he went out
to Highgate to see a children's ball, which, being conducted according
to the English custom, afforded great pleasure to his Highness, both
from the numbers, the manner, and the gracefulness of the dancers."

When our English country dances were carried abroad,--notably to
Germany and France,--the tunes to which they were danced were carried
with them, were there appropriated, and as these dances died out in
their native home, and with them their proper melodies, the tunes have
in several instances come back to us from the continent, as German or
French airs.

Very probably one reason of the disapproval which country dancing has
encountered arises from the fact that it allows no opportunities of
conversation, and consequently of flirtation, as the partners stand
opposite each other, and in the figures take part with other performers
quite as much as with their own proper _vis-à-vis_. But then is a dance
arranged simply to enable a young pair to clasp each other and whisper
into each others ears? Are art, beauty, pleasure to the spectators
to be left out of count altogether? The wall-fruit are deserving of
commiseration, for they now see nothing that can gratify the eye in a
ball-room; the waltz has been like the Norwegian rat--it has driven the
native out altogether, and the native dance and the native rat were the
more beautiful of the two.

It is not often we get a graceful dance on the stage either. Country
dancing is banished thence also; distorted antics that are without
grace, and of scanty decency, have supplanted it.

It seems incredible that what was regarded as a necessary acquisition
of every lady and gentleman sixty or seventy years ago should have
gone, and gone utterly--so utterly that probably dancing-masters of
the present day would not know how to teach the old country dances. In
_The Complete System of Country Dancing_, by Thomas Wilson, published
about 1821 (there is no date on the title-page), the author insists
on this being the national dance of the English, of its being in
constant practice, of its being a general favourite "in every city and
town throughout the United Kingdom;" as constituting "the principal
amusement with the greater part of the inhabitants of this country."
Not only so, but the English country dance was carried to all the
foreign European Courts, where it "was very popular, and became the
most favourite species of dancing;" and yet it is gone--gone utterly.

The minuet was, no doubt, a tedious and over-formal dance; it was only
tolerable when those engaged wore hoops and powder and knee-breeches;
but the English country dance is not stiff at all, and only so far
formal as all complications of figures must be formal. It is at the
same time infinitely elastic, for it allows of expansion or contraction
by the addition or subtraction of figures. There are about a hundred
figures in all, and these can be changed in place like the pieces of
glass in a kaleidoscope.

[Illustration: Minuet being Danced.]

Why, in this age of revivals, when we fill our rooms with Chippendale
furniture and rococo mirrors and inlaid Florentine cabinets, and use
the subdued colours of our grandmothers, when our books are printed
in old type with head and tail pieces of two centuries ago, when the
edges are left in the rough--why should we allow the waltz, the foreign
waltz, to monopolize our ball-rooms to the exclusion of all beautiful
figure-dancing, and let an old English art disappear completely without
an attempt to recover it? It will be in these delightful, graceful, old
national dances that our girls will, like the daughter of Philipater in
the _Spectator_, dance themselves into our esteem, as it is pretty sure
that in the approved fashion of waltzing they will dance themselves out
of it.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII.

OLD ROADS.


[Illustration]

Practical inconvenience attends living at the junction of the Is-not
and the Is. To make myself better understood, I must explain.

On October 11th, 1809, Colonel Mudge published the Ordnance Survey of
the county which I grace with my presence. In that map he entered a
_Proposed Road_, running about four miles from N. to S. through my
property, and in front of my house. I was not alive at the time, so the
expression "my house" is inexact, it was the house of my grandfather.
This proposed road was to be a main artery of traffic, and a county
road,--but it was never carried out. To carry it out would have been
inconvenient, as the walled garden of the house, with very good
jargonelle and Bon-chrétien pears lies athwart the proposed course,
and an ancient black fig-tree that produces abundantly every year
grows precisely on the site of the proposed road. I presume that my
grandfather raised objections. Anyhow the road was never made. However,
since the survey of 1809, map-makers--convinced that what was then
proposed has been in effect carried out--have systematically entered
this road as an accomplished fact.

Now perhaps the reader can understand what it is to live on the point
of junction of the Is and Is-not. The road indicated on the maps _is
not_ in existence, and yet the public consider, on the authority of the
maps, that it _is_.

Then, again, I live in another way on the _Is_ and _Is-not_. In 1836 a
new and excellent road--now a county road--was carried at right angles
to the proposed road, leading into the old high-road about a mile
and a half from my house, and connecting that old high-road with the
principal market town of the district, about nine miles off. Before
this was constructed, the old way ran up hill and down dale in a series
of scrambles, straight as an arrow; and one stretch of this road is now
utterly impassable, it is simply a water-course, and a torrent rushes
down it in a series of cascades over steps of slate-rock in winter, and
after rain. Now--will it be believed?--just as the maps have accepted
the proposed road as if it had really been made, because it was marked
by Col. Mudge, so they have all ignored this main county road, because
it did not exist in the days of Col. Mudge, and they persist in giving
the old road, and ignoring the new one, that makes a great sweep
through valleys, and indeed describes two sides of an obtuse-angled
triangle, of which the old road forms the hypothenuse.

Now the reader will understand even more clearly how it is that I live
on the what is, yet is not. The road is there--rates are paid to keep
it up, and yet--it is not in any map, though it has been in existence
for more than half a century.

Now for the practical inconvenience. One day I saw a party of men with
guns walking across my grounds, in front of my house. I knew they had
been poaching, and so I rushed out after them.

"What are you about? Why are you trespassing?" I roared. One of them
pulled out a map and pointed. "We are going along the Queen's highway.
Double black edges mark a main road. We cannot be trespassing." I was
silenced.

One day I found school-boys in my walled garden eating my Bon-chrétien
pears. I ordered them off, threatening them with vengeance.

"Please, sir, we did not know we were doing wrong. On the map we saw
that this was a highway, and we thought we were at liberty to take
anything that grows on the road." Bad maps and over-education had
robbed me of my Bon-chrétien pears.

That is the disadvantage of living on or near the site of a road
that is not, but which the authorities that enlighten the minds of
the ignorant assert to be. My notion is, that the Press is the great
instrument for the diffusion of false information among the masses.
Nothing will break that conviction in me. An acquaintance was staying
at the market town, and I invited him over to dinner. He hired a trap
and drove himself. He had the map, he could manage, he said. He never
arrived. Trusting to the map, he had gone by the old road, and had
been precipitated down the cascade. The horse had fallen, the trap was
smashed, and my friend's hip was dislocated.

So now every one can see that there really is great practical
inconvenience in living at the junction of the Is-not yet Is, or the Is
and Is-not.

I have a coachman who has been in the family for seventy-five years,
and is one of the last surviving representatives of the all-but-extinct
race of Caleb Balderstone. This old man remembers the state of the
country before most of the new roads were made, before Macadam's
system was introduced, and very curious stories he can tell of the
old roads, and the travelling thereon. Formerly the roads were--not
exactly paved, but made by the thrusting of big stones into holes
which they more or less adequately filled. Then on top of all were
put smaller stones, picked up from the fields, and not broken at all.
As I have got the old road near my gates, for about a mile, closed to
all but foot-passengers--though the maps persist in attempting to send
carriages over it--I can see exactly what they were. This bit of road
is cut between banks eight and nine feet high, has been sawn through
soil and rock by the traffic of centuries, assisted by streams of water
in winter. The floor is a series of rocky steps, and I can recall when
these steps were eased to the traveller by the heaping of boulders on
them producing a rude slope. But as with every heavy rain a rush of
water went down this road, it dislodged the boulders, and woe betide
the horse descending the steep declivity of loosely distributed rolling
stones on an irregular and fragile stair of slates.

My great-great-grandmother had a famous black bull. The contemporary
Duke of B., who was a fancier of cattle, wanted to buy it, but madam
refused to sell. Again he sent over, offering double what he had
offered before, but was again refused. Then said the Duke, "Tell madam,
that if she will sell me that bull, I will gallop my horse down the
road without saddle or bridle." She sent him the bull as a present,
without exacting the ride, which would have in all likelihood cost him
his life.

In old novels the sinking of the wheel of a chaise in a mud-hole,
or the breakage of the carriage, is an ordinary and oft-recurring
incident. The wonder to me is, that chaises ever made any progress
over these old roads without being splintered to atoms. How was it
that china, glass, mirrors, ever reached the country houses intact? I
applied to my coachman.

[Illustration: Packman's Way by a River-side.]

"Well, sir, you see, nothing was carried in waggons then, but on
packhorses, that is to say, no perishable goods. My grandfather was a
packman. Those were rare times." And he showed me the old packmen's
traces, across the woods where now trees grow of fifty years' standing.
Indeed, alongside of many modernized roads the old packmen's courses
may still be traced. There was great skill required in packing; the
packhorse had crooks on its back, and the goods were hung to these
crooks. The crooks were formed of two poles, about ten feet long, bent
when green into the required curve, and when dried in that shape were
connected by horizontal bars. A pair of crooks, thus completed, was
slung over the pack-saddle, one swinging on each side, to make the
balance true. The short crooks, called _crubs_, were slung in a similar
manner. These were of stouter fabric, and formed an angle; these were
used for carrying heavy materials.

I shall doubtless be excused if I quote some old verses written fifty
years ago, comparing marriage to a Devonshire lane, but which will
equally apply to any old road--

    "In a Devonshire lane, as I trotted along
    T'other day, much in want of a subject for song,
    Thinks I to myself, I have hit on a strain,
    Sure Marriage is much like a Devonshire lane.

    In the first place 'tis long, and when once you are in it,
    It holds you as fast as a cage does a linnet;
    For howe'er rough and dirty the road may be found,
    Drive forward you must, there is no turning round.

    But though 'tis so long, it is not very wide,
    For two are the most that together can ride;
    And e'en then, 'tis a chance, but they get in a pother,
    And jostle and cross and run foul of each other.

    Oft Poverty greets them with mendicant looks,
    And Care pushes by them, o'er-laden with crooks;
    And Strife's grazing wheels try between them to pass,
    And Stubbornness blocks up the way on her ass.

    Then the banks are so high, to the left hand and right,
    That they shut out the beauties around them from sight;
    And hence you'll allow, 'tis an inference plain,
    That Marriage is just like a Devonshire lane!

    But thinks I too, these banks, within which we are pent,
    With bud, blossom, and berry are richly besprent;
    And the conjugal fence, which forbids us to roam,
    Looks lovely when decked with the comforts of home.

    In the rock's gloomy crevice the bright holly grows;
    The ivy waves fresh o'er the withering rose,
    And the evergreen love of a virtuous wife
    Soothes the roughness of care,--cheers the winter of life.

    Then long be the journey, and narrow the way,
    I'll rejoice that I've seldom a turnpike to pay;
    And whate'er others say, be the last to complain,
    Though Marriage be just like a Devonshire lane."

[Illustration: By the Road-side.]

"Ah, sir!" said my old coachman, "them was jolly times. The packmen
used to travel in a lot together, and when they put up at an inn for
the night, there was fun;--not but what they was a bit rough-like. I
mind when one day they found a jackass straying, and didn't know whose
it was, nor didn't ask either. They cut handfuls of rushes, and with
cords they swaddled the ass up with rushes, and then set alight to him.
Well, sir, that ass ran blazing like a fireball for four miles before
he dropped. Them was jolly times."

"Not for asses, Caleb?"

"Certainly not for asses."

"But why did the packmen travel together, Caleb?"

"Well, sir, you see, packmen at times carried a lot o' money about with
them; and it did happen now and then that lonely packmen were robbed
and murdered."

"Then hardly jolly times for packmen?"

"Well, I don't know," answered Balderstone, drawing his hand and whip
across his mouth. "There was packmen then, and perhaps just here and
there one got murdered; but now they are _all_ put out of the way,
which is worst of all."

After a little consideration Caleb went on--"Now, I mind a curious
circumstance that happened when I was a young man, just about sixty
years ago. At that time there were no shops about, and once or twice
in the year I was sent with a waggon and a team up to the county
town (thirty-five miles off) to bring down groceries and all sorts o'
things for the year. I used to start at four in the morning. One autumn
morning I had started before daybreak, and I lay in the covered waggon,
and the two horses they knew the road and went on. But all at once both
halted, and though I cracked my whip they would not stir. I got out
with the lantern, and saw that they were all of a tremble, both with
their heads down looking at something, apparently, in the road. I moved
the lantern about, but could see nothing in the road, and then I coaxed
the horses, but they would not stir a step; then I whipped them. All
at once both together gave a leap into the air, just as if they were
leaping a gate, and away they dashed along the road for a mile afore I
could stop them, and then they were sweating as if they had been raced
in a steeplechase, and covered with foam, and trembling still. Now I
was away two days, and on the third I came back, and the curious thing
is--when I came back I heard that a packer had been robbed and murdered
whilst I was away at that very spot, and where my horses had leaped it
was over the exact place where the dead man was found lying twenty-four
hours later. If they'd jumped after the murder I'd have thought
nothing of it, but they jumped before the man was killed."

Road-making was formerly intrusted to the parochial authorities, and
there was no supervision. It was carried out in slovenly and always in
an unsystematic manner. In adopting a direct or circuitous line of way,
innumerable predilections interfered, and parishes not infrequently
quarrelled about the roads. The dispute between broad and narrow gauges
raged long before railway lines were laid. A market town and a seaport
would naturally desire to have ample verge and room enough on their
highways for the transport of grain and other commodities from the
interior, and for carriage of manufactured goods, or importations to
the interior. On the other hand, isolated parishes would contend that
driftways sufficed for their demands, and that they could house their
crops, or bring their flour from the mill through the same ruts which
had served their forefathers.

After the Civil Wars an impetus was given to road-making; an Act was
passed authorizing a small toll to pay for the maintenance of the
highways. The turnpike gate was originally a bar supported on two posts
on the opposite sides of the road, and the collector sat in the open
air at his seat of custom. I remember fifty years ago travelling in
Germany, where at the toll-gate was a little house; one end of the bar
was heavily weighted, the other fastened by a chain that led into the
turnpike man's room. The toll-man thrust forth a pole with a bag at the
end, into which the coin was put, he drew in the bag at his window,
unhooked the chain, and the weight sent the bar flying up, the carriage
passed under, and then the bar was pulled down again.

The people did not see the advantage of the toll-bar when first
introduced, and riots broke out. The road surveyor was mobbed and
beaten, the toll-bar was torn away and burnt. Even with systematic
mending, the old roads were bad, for the true principle on which
roads should be made was not known. John Loudon MacAdam, born 1756,
died 1836, was the first to draw attention to the proper mode of
road-making. He was an American, of Scottish descent. In 1819 he
published _A Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation
of Public Roads_, and in 1820, _Remarks on the Present State of
Road-making_. How little science was thought to have to do with the
roads may be judged from the fact, that under the heading of Roads,
the old _Encyclopædia Britannica_ of 1797 has not a word to say.
"Road-making!" one may suppose a surveyor of that period to have said,
"any fool can make a road. If one finds a hole anywhere, clap a stone
into it."

I have walked over the St. Gotthard Pass, and there we have the old
road traceable in many places, and we can compare it with the new
road. The old one was paved here and there rudely. Some of our old
English roads were likewise paved. MacAdam's principle was this. Make
all roads with the highest point in the middle, then the water runs
off it, instead of--as in the old roads--lodging in the middle. Next,
do not pave the road at all, but lay in a bottom--metal it--with
broken stones, to the depth of six or eight inches, and then cover
these with another layer, broken smaller, to the depth of two or three
inches. Then all will be welded together into a compact and smooth
mass. MacAdam originally proposed that the small upper coat of stones
should be laid on in a corduroy fashion across the road, but this was
abandoned for an uniform covering, as more speedily applied, and more
effective.

What a time people took formerly in travelling over old roads! There is
a house just two miles distant from mine, by the new unmapped road.
Before 1837, when that road was made, it was reached in so circuitous
a manner, and by such bad lanes, and across an unbridged river, that
my grandfather and his family when they dined with our neighbours, two
miles off, always spent the night at their house.

In 1762, a rich gentleman, who had lived in a house of business in
Lisbon, and had made his fortune, returned to England, and resolved to
revisit his paternal home in Norfolk. His wish was further stimulated
by the circumstance that his sister and sole surviving relative dwelt
beside one of the great broads, where he thought he might combine some
shooting with the pleasure of renewing his friendships of childhood.
From London to Norwich his way was tolerably smooth and prosperous, and
by the aid of a mail coach he performed the journey in three days. But
now commenced his difficulties. Between the capital and his sister's
dwelling lay twenty miles of country roads. He ordered a coach and six,
and set forth on his fraternal quest. The six hired horses, although
of strong Flanders breed, were soon engulfed in a black miry pool, his
coach followed, and the merchant was dragged out of the window by two
cowherds, and mounted on one of the wheelers; he was brought back to
Norwich, and nothing could ever induce him to resume the search for
his sister, and to revisit his ancestral home.

[Illustration: Francis Masey An Old Travelling Carriage]

The death of good Queen Bess was not known in some of the remoter
parishes of Devon and in Cornwall until the court mourning for her had
been laid aside; and in the churches of Orkney prayers were put up for
King James II. three months after he had abdicated.

"However," I asked of Caleb, "could the huge masses of granite have
been moved that form the pillars in the church, and the gate-posts, and
the fireplace in the hall?"

"Well, sir, on truckamucks."

"Truckamucks!"

"In the old times they didn't have wheels, but a sort of cart with the
ends of the shafts carried out behind and dragging on the ground. In
fact, the cart was nothing but two young trees, and the roots dragged,
and the tops were fastened to the horse. When they wanted to move a
heavy weight they used four trees, and lashed the middle ones together."

"No carts or waggons, then?"

"Only one waggon in the parish, and that your grandfather's, and that
could travel only on the high-road. Not many other conveyances either."

It is a marvel to us how the old china and glass travelled in those
days; but the packer was a man of infinite care and skill in the
management of fragile wares.

Does the reader remember the time when all such goods were brought by
carriers? How often they got broken if intrusted to the stage-coaches,
how rarely if they came by the carrier. The carrier's waggon was
securely packed, and time was of no object to the driver, he went very
slowly and very carefully over bad ground. The carrier's life was a
very jolly one, and few songs were more popular in the west of England
than that of _The Jolly Waggoner_--

    "When first I went a-waggoning, a-waggoning did go,
    I filled my parents' hearts with sorrow, trouble, grief, and woe;
    And many are the hardships too, that since I have gone through.
        Sing Wo! my lads, sing wo!
        Drive on, my lads, heigh-ho!
        Who would not live the life of the jolly waggoner?

    It is a cold and stormy night, and I'm wet to the skin,
    I'll bear it with contentment till I get to the inn,
    And then I'll sit a-drinking with the landlord and his kin.
        Sing Wo! &c.

    Now summer is a-coming on--what pleasure we shall see!
    The small birds blithely singing, so sweet on every tree,
    The blackbirds and the thrushes, too, are whistling merrily.
        Sing Wo! &c.

    Now Michaelmas is coming--what pleasure we shall find!
    'Twill make the gold to fly, my lads, like chaff before the wind,
    And every lad shall kiss his lass, so loving and so kind.
        Sing Wo! &c."

Since the introduction of steam two additional verses have been added
to this song--

    "Along the country roads, alas! but waggons few are seen,
    The world is topsy-turvy turned, and all things go by steam,
    And all the past is passed away, like to a morning dream.
        Sing Wo! &c.

    The landlords cry, What shall we do? our business is no more,
    The railroad it has ruined us, who badly fared before;
    'Tis luck and gold to one or two, but ruined are a score.
        Sing Wo! &c."

The leathern belt worn by the groom nowadays is the survival of the
strap to which the lady held, as she sat on a pillion behind her groom.
The horses ridden in those days must have been strong, or the distances
not considerable, and the pace moderate, for to carry two full-grown
persons cannot have been a trifle for a horse on bad roads.

"It is of some importance," said Sydney Smith, "at what period a
man is born. A young man alive at this period hardly knows to what
improvements of human life he has been introduced; and I would bring
before his notice the changes that have taken place in England since
I began to breathe the breath of life--a period of seventy years. I
have been nine hours sailing from Dover to Calais before the invention
of steam. It took me nine hours to go from Taunton to Bath before
the invention of railroads. In going from Taunton to Bath I suffered
between ten thousand and twelve thousand severe contusions before
stone-breaking MacAdam was born. I paid fifteen pounds in a single year
for repair of carriage-springs on the pavement of London, and I now
glide without noise or fracture on wooden pavement. I can walk without
molestation from one end of London to another; or, if tired, get into
a cheap and active cab, instead of those cottages on wheels which the
hackney coaches were at the beginning of my life. I forgot to add, that
as the basket of the stage-coaches in which luggage was then carried
had no springs, your clothes were rubbed all to pieces; and that even
in the best society, one-third of the gentlemen were always drunk. I am
now ashamed that I was not formerly more discontented, and am utterly
surprised that all these changes and inventions did not occur two
centuries ago."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

FAMILY PORTRAITS.


[Illustration]

One day a very grand and, as she conceived, original idea came into
my grandmothers head. She was resolved to represent pictorially, on a
sheet of cartridge-paper, all the confluent streams of blood in her
children's veins, of the families to which they were entitled to draw
blood through past alliances.

So my grandmother got out her ruler and colour-box, and a pallet and
brushes, and filled a little glass with water. Presently a pedigree
was drawn out by the aid of compasses and a parallel ruler. Then she
rubbed her paints and set to work colouring. She dabbed some vermilion
on Father A, and gamboge on Mother B; then on the next in the same
generation, Father C, she put sage-green; and his wife, Mother D, she
indicated with Prussian blue. The son of vermilion A and gamboge B
was R. That was simple enough; in his arteries flowed a vivid tide of
combined vermilion and gamboge. He married S, who was the offspring
of sage-green C and Prussian blue D; consequently her arteries were
flowing with rather a dingy mixture of sage-green and Prussian
blue. Now R and S had a child, P, and his veins were charged with a
combination of vermilion and gamboge and sage-green and Prussian blue.

When my grandmother had got so far, she bit the end of her paint-brush;
for P, who was her husband's father, of course married, and her
mother-in-law must be also represented by a combination of four
colours. She took the end of the brush out of her mouth and rubbed
emerald green and carmine. E and F should symbolize her husband's
mother's grandparents. E brought into the family a stream of carmine
blood, and F one of vivid emerald. Then the veins of her step-mother
represented a mixed tide of carmine and emerald and of two other
families, as yet unindicated. To these she promptly appropriated violet
and orange. Now at last was she able to tabulate the constituents of
her husband's blood; it was composed of minute rills of vermilion,
gamboge, sage-green, Prussian blue, carmine, emerald green, violet,
and orange. Already she had trenched on the composite colours. Now a
great dismay fell on my grandmother; for she had to complete the same
process for the exemplification of her own blood; and for her ancestry
not only were no primary colours left, but even no secondary. She had
to represent them with brown, lavender, slate,--yes, oh joy! there
was another blue, cobalt!--verdegris, lemon yellow, black, and white.
She hesitated some while before employing the verdegris. She never
completed that table; for she was aghast at the rivers of mud, literal
mud, which, according to her scheme, flowed through the arteries of
her offspring. Now look at this table. Consider, it is only one of a
pedigree through five generations.

[Illustration:

    (Vermilion)    A
                   = --+
    (Gamboge)      B   | R   Paternal
                         =   Grand-
    (Sage-gr.)     C   | S   father ---+
                   = --+               |
    (Prus. bl.)    D                   |
                                       = --+
    (Carmine)      E                   |   |        (Verm. +
                   = --+               |   |         Gamb. +
    (Emerald)      F   | T   Paternal -+   |         Sage-gr. +
                         =   Grand-        |         Pruss. Bl. +
    (Violet)       G   | U   mother        |         Carm. +
                   = --+                   |         Emerald +
    (Orange)       H                     Father      Violet +
                                           =  SELF   Orange +
    (Brown)        I                     Mother      Br. +
                   = --+                   |         Lav. +
    (Lavender)     K   | V   Maternal      |         Slate +
                         =   Grand-        |         Cob. +
    (Slate)        L   | X   father ---+   |         Verd. +
                   = --+               |   |         Lemon +
    (Cobalt)       M                   |   |         Black +
                                       = --+         White.)
    (Verdegris)    N                   |
                   = --+               |
    (Lemon)        O   | Y   Maternal -+
                         =   Grand-
    (Black)        P   | Z   mother
                   = --+
    (White)        Q
]

Every one of my readers, every human being, nay, every beast, and bird,
and fish, and reptile, represents the 16 ancestors of four generations,
that means 32 independent streams of blood in the fifth generation,
and 1004 currents in the tenth generation, and 32,128 rivulets of
distinct blood in the fifteenth generation, and 1,028,096, if we go
back to the twentieth generation. Take thirty years as a generation,
then, in the reign of Henry III., there were over a million independent
individuals, walking, talking, eating, marrying, whose united blood
was to be, in 1889, blended in your veins. Why, that ogre of a sailor
in the Bab Ballads, who represented a whole ship's crew, because, when
shipwrecked, he had eaten them, is nothing to you. The whole population
of London, of Middlesex, was not a million, then. You represent a large
county--Yorkshire, for instance.

Our arteries are very sluices, through which an incredible amount
of confluent rills unite to rush, the drainage of the whole social
country-side.

Such being the case, does it not seem a farce to talk about family
types, and family likenesses, and family peculiarities beyond one or
two generations at most? And yet it is not a farce; for what comes out
abundantly clear is, that certain streams are stronger than others,
and colour and affect for several generations the quality of the blood
with which they mingle. Not so only, but earlier types reappear after
the lapse of time as distinct as though there had been no intermediate
blood mixture, as though there had been filiation by gemmation, as is
the case with sponges.

One day I was visiting a friend, when I was struck by the excellence
of a portrait in his hall of a very refined and beautiful old lady;
there was nothing characteristic in the dress. Being a fancier
in portraiture, and being mightily ill-contented with modern
portrait-painting, this picture pleased me especially; it was a picture
as well as a portrait, harmonious in colour and tone, and artistically
focussed. Moreover, it was a perfectly life-like "presentiment" of my
friend's wife. He and she were both old people. Said I to my friend,
"What an admirable likeness! The artist has not only made a good
picture, but he has caught your wife's expression as well as features
and peculiar colouring. Who is the painter? I did not know we had the
man nowadays who could have painted such a portrait."

"Oh," he answered, "that is not my wife--it is her great-grandmother."

Thus the wife represented _four_ united streams of two generations
back, but she represented in face, and represented exactly, only one of
them.

Now for another instance. In a certain family that I know intimately,
a son and a female cousin are as much alike as though they were twin
brother and sister; what is the more remarkable is, that they deviate
altogether from the type of their brothers and sisters, parents,
uncles, and aunts. _But_, and here is the curious fact, they resemble,
even ludicrously, an ancestor whose miniature and portrait in oils
are in the possession of the family. I draw out the pedigree. I must
premise that the portrait is of a gentleman in forget-me-not blue
velvet, and he goes in the family by the name of the Blue Man.

[Illustration:

            Blue Man = A
                     |
                     |
                     |
                     B = C
                       |
                       |
                   D = E
                     |
                     |
        +--------+---+
        |        |
        |        |
    G = F        H = I
      |            |
      |            |
      +---+    +---+
          |    |
          |    |
          M    N
]

M and N are the cousins, male and female, who are as alike as twins,
and they are exact reproductions of the Blue Man, notwithstanding
that through C, D, G, and I come in fresh streams of blood, that two
entirely independent rivers flush the veins of M and N respectively,
coming in from G and I. They have the blood of C and D in common, but
alike disregard their qualities; so also do they reject the blood of
their respective mothers, and go back to a common ancestor in the reign
of Queen Anne.

But I can give a still more remarkable instance of atavism, which
also must be illustrated by a table. Here the likeness goes back even
further, and, like that above, also through the maternal line.

There is in the same old manor-house as that in which hangs the Blue
Man another picture, painted by Carlo Maratti, in or about 1672, of
a certain Sir Edward, a dandy, in long flowing curls, a beautiful
Steenkirk, a cherry ribbon round his neck, and also about his wrists.
The face is fine, haughty, somewhat dreamy. It was painted of him
when he was a young man of about five-and-twenty. Hanging near him
is his elder brother, also with flowing hair, a bluff, good-natured
man in appearance, quite different in character from the knight, one
may judge, and certainly not like him in feature. Now the knight,
Sir Edward, died without issue, and left all his property to his
great-nephew, the grandson of his elder brother James. That nephew
bought estates in Nottinghamshire, and for two hundred years the
family he founded has been apart from the elder branch, which lives in
the west of England, and which owns the picture.

[Illustration: Sir Edward, A.D. 1668. _From a painting by_ Carlo
Maratti.]

[Illustration: N. A.D. 1888. _From a Photograph._]

One day recently there came into the neighbourhood a descendant of
James, and calling at the house of his kinsman, unconsciously seated
himself beneath the picture of Sir Edward. He was a young man of
about four-and-twenty. He was at once greeted with an exclamation of
astonishment and amusement. He was extraordinarily like the portrait;
had he but been dressed in stamped black velvet, worn curls, a
Steenkirk, and cherry ribbons, he might have been the same man. Now
look at this pedigree, and note the remarkable fact. He did not hail
from the knight, whom he resembled, but from his brother James, whom
he did not resemble. The knight, Sir Edward, must therefore have
inherited the features of an earlier ancestor, who was also, of
course, the ancestor of his brother; so that this young man in 1888
bore the face and features of a still earlier member of the family,
whose likeness has not been preserved, if it were ever taken. Here is
a family likeness going back six or seven generations. We cannot be
certain that the characteristic features of Sir Edward were derived
from his father or his mother. Nor is this likeness found only in N. It
exists also in his father L, though not in so strong a degree, or, at
all events, it is less apparent in an old man of sixty than in a young
man of four-and-twenty. Curiously enough, the portrait of Elizabeth,
the ancestress through whom these two, L and N, derive their likeness
to Sir Edward, shows none of these characteristics. They remained
latent in her, but reappeared in her grandson and great-grandson.
Unfortunately the pictures of D and F, who intervened, have not been
preserved, or their whereabouts have not been discovered, so that it
is not possible to track the likeness through two generations that
intervene between Elizabeth in 1780 and James in 1680.

[Illustration:

                          A = B
                   b. 1602. | m. 1638.
                   +  1659. | +  1688.
          +-----------------+------------+
          |                              |
     Sir Edward                         James = C
        b. 1648.                 b. 1641. | m. 1676.
        +  1728.                 +  1680. | +  1697.
                                        +-----+
                                        |
                                        D = E
                                 b. 1677. | m. 1701.
                                 +  1721. | +  1747.
                                     +----+
                                     |
                                     F = G
                                       | m. 1725.
                              +  1775. | +  1811.
                          +------------+
                          |
                   H = Elizabeth
                     | m. 1781.
            +  1833. | +  1821.
               +-----+
               |
               I = K
         + 1848. | m. 1819.
           +-----+
           |
           L = M
    b. 1827. |
       +-----+
       |
       N
]

It has been conjectured that a child sitting daily in the presence of
a certain portrait insensibly assumes a likeness to it; but such a
conjecture will not satisfy the case just mentioned, for L and N till
recently had never seen the picture which they so closely resembled.

There is another point connected with family portraits that has given
me occasion of thought and speculation; and that is, the way in
which those children who are named after an ancestor or ancestress
sometimes, I do not say often or always, but certainly sometimes, do
in a very remarkable manner receive the stamp of the features of that
ancestor after whom named. This has nothing to do with the naming of
the child at baptism because of a supposed resemblance, for in very
young infants none such can be traced, but the likeness grows in the
child to the person whose name it bears.

Now here is a bit of pedigree, with the likenesses that exist
curiously agreeing with the Christian names. In this relation of a
new generation to an old there is a point to be remarked. E^2 is
in character, in manner, and in tastes and pursuits exactly what E
was, but does _not_ resemble him in face. W D^2 is just like W D,
his great-great-great-grandfather, whose double Christian name he
bears. M B^2 and M B^3 are like M B in face, and M B^2 resembles her
great-great-grandmother in face and in character. D A^2 is absurdly
like her great-grandmother, whose double name she bears, but is as yet
too young for the mental characteristics to show themselves, or at all
events to have become sufficiently emphasized to enable one to say
whether, in mind as in face, she resembles her great-grandmother.

[Illustration:

                      W D = M B
                          |
                      +---+
                      |
                C B = M
                    |
                    +---+
                        |
                        W D = D A
                            |
                        +---+
                        |
                        E = S C
                          |
             +----------+-+
             |          |
             M B^2      S = G T
                         |
    +--------+-------+---+---+
    |        |       |       |
    E^2      W D^2   M B^3   D A^2
]

Now this may be accidental, but if so, it is a very curious and
remarkable accident. Noticing it in other cases, I have sometimes
wondered whether there may be in it more than accident. The old
Norsemen believed that by calling a child after a certain great man,
some of that great man's luck and spiritual force passed with his name
to the child. The idea among Roman Catholic parents of giving their
offspring the names of saints is, that they put the children under the
special patronage, influence, and tutelage of the saint after whom
they are called. Now--is there in these ideas anything more than a
fancy, a delusion, a superstition? Is it possible that a mysterious
effluence should pass from the spirit of the departed to the child that
reproduces his or her name, and that this effluence should affect,
modify, and impress the features and character of the child?

It is remarkable the way in which tricks perpetuate themselves. I know
some one who, when a boy, had to be broken of the absurd habit of
slapping the sole of his right boot with his right hand every now and
then behind his back, as he walked. An old aunt saw him do this one
day, and she said, "How odd! we had a world of trouble with his father
when he was a child--about this very thing."

[Illustration: Lady Northcote (Jacquetta Baring).]

[Illustration: Lady Young (Emily Baring).]

I may, in connection with this, mention a personal matter. My paternal
grandfather's sister, Jacquetta Baring, married Sir Stafford Northcote,
in 1791; she was the grandmother of the late Lord Iddesleigh, who was,
accordingly, my cousin, but whom I never met. One day I was with one of
his sons, who, whilst in conversation with me, laughed, and then said,
"Excuse me, but there are many little ways you have, both of turn of
the head and movements of the hand, that bring my father continually
before my mind whilst you are speaking with me."

These little tricks of manner are therefore not personal, are not the
result of association and imitation, but travel through the blood.

But to return to family portraits. That, in spite of the influx of
fresh blood from all quarters, a certain family type remains, one can
hardly doubt in looking through a genuine series of family pictures.
I knew a case of an artist who had been employed in a certain house,
where he had become familiar with the family portraits, which he had
cleaned, relined and restored. Some of the early pictures of the
family had been lost, in fact sold, by a spendthrift--another Charles
Surface--who did not shrink from disposing of his mother's picture by
Sir Joshua Reynolds. The head of the family knew where some two or
three of these pictures had gone; they had been bought by a family
akin to his, and the representative of that family very kindly acceded
to his request that he might have them copied. The artist was sent
to that gentleman's house to do what was desired. He was introduced
into the dining-room, where hung over a score of portraits, but he
went directly to the two which belonged to the family whose paintings
he had cleaned, singled them out from the rest, and said, "These I am
sure belong to the X--s. I know the type of face." He was right; he had
spotted the only two which were not pictures of the A family, but were
of the family X.

The delight of watching the re-emergence of a disappeared family
likeness, as generations pass, is, no doubt, the chief delight of
having a good series of family pictures. But there is an advantage in
such a series which is not perhaps much considered, and that is the
linking of the present generation in thought with the past. Since,
with the Reformation, prayer for the dead ceased, our association with
the world of the departed has fallen into total disregard, and we
neither think of holding any communion of thought and good-will with
our forebears, nor suppose that they can entertain any kindly thought
of and wishes for us and our welfare. And yet, how much we owe them!
Our beautiful estates, our dear old houses, the laying out of the parks
and grounds, the cutting of the terraces, the digging of the ponds,
the planting of the stately trees, the gathering together of our plate,
our books, our pictures, our old furniture. Nay, more, if we have not
inherited these, we have from them some twists in our mind, some terms
in our speech, some physical or psychical characteristics, some virtues
and some faults.

We owe to those old people more than we suppose. To their
self-restraint, their guileless walk, their frugal ways, we owe our
own hale bodies and strict consciences. Consider what misery a strain
of tainted blood brings into a family--a strain of blood that carries
vicious propensities with it. Well, if we have good in us, if we are
scrupulous, honest, truthful, self-controlled, it comes to us in a
large measure along with our pure blood from honest ancestry.

How can we sit in the beautiful halls and panelled boudoirs of the old
people, and not be thankful to them for having made them so charming?
How can we walk in the avenues they planted, pick the flowering shrubs
they grouped and bedded, and not be grateful to them?

To plant a tree is a most unselfish work, for very few men live to see
the trees they have planted reach such a size as to give pleasure to
themselves. Men plant for their sons and grandsons; and their sons and
grandsons who enjoy these trees should think for a moment of those to
whose forethought they owe them. I confess I like, when I have enjoyed
the beauty of some avenue, or clump of stately trees, to look at the
picture of the planter of them, and say, "Thank you, dear old man, for
the pleasure you have given to me, and will give to my children after
me."

We have something yet to learn from the Chinese. The only religion of
the Celestials is the worship of their ancestors. Every race probably
inherits some truth that it can and is destined to impart to the world.
The Chinese lack the deeper vision which can look up to the great
Father of spirits above, but yet from them we may acquire thought of
and love for our forebears.

    "They are all gone into a world of light,
      And I alone sit lingering here!
    Their very memory is fair and bright,
      And my sad thoughts does clear.
    It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
      Like stars upon some gloomy grove;
    Or those faint beams in which this hill is dressed
      After the sun's remove."

So sang Vaughan, a poet of the Restoration; and if one attempts it one
can feel with him, that it is a pleasure and a rest to think of, and
cultivate affection for, those of our family who belong to the past.

In many an old mansion the story goes that an ancestor or ancestress
_walks_ there, is to be seen occasionally between the glimpses of the
moon visiting the old house, and generally as foretoken of some event
intimately concerning the family. Such a story is common enough. We
think that possibly these ancient ghosts may reappear to acquaint
themselves how we are getting on, but it never occurs to us to visit
them, and walk in spirit their desolate region, and cheer them with a
kindly expression, and a word of good-will. Well, I think that a set
of family portraits does help one to that, does link us somehow to
these dead forefathers, and serves as a vehicle of mental communication
between us.

Then, again, the family scamp is of use. We had one in our family.
I am thankful to say we do not inherit his wild blood, as he died
unmarried. He sold the bulk of the ancestral estates, and got rid of
everything he could get rid of. But then--since his death he has stood
as a warning to each successive generation. The children go before his
picture and hear the story of his misdeeds, and it sinks into their
hearts, and they learn frugality. They go over the acres that would
have been theirs, _but for the scamp_; they see the old mansion, a
quadrangle, which they would have had a dance about, _had it not been
for the scamp_; they know that there are gaps in the series of family
portraiture, because _the pictures were sold by the scamp_; and so they
grow up with great fear in their minds lest they also should by any
chance be even as he; and so the scamp is of good after all.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X.

THE VILLAGE MUSICIAN.


[Illustration]

The press and the railway are sweeping away all the old individualities
and peculiarities that marked the country. It has been said, and said
truly, that the railway has abolished everywhere in Europe a local
_cuisine_, so that the traveller, whether in England, France, in Italy,
Russia, at Constantinople, and even at Cairo, has the same _menu_ at
_table-d'hôte_. There was a time when, by travelling, you could pick
up culinary ideas. That time is now past. You find exactly the same
dishes, served in the same order, everywhere; and when fowl and salad
come on, you know everywhere that the meat courses have arrived at
their full stop. Costumes also are disappearing everywhere, no men now
wear them, hardly any women, except a few artists' models on the steps
of the Trinità at Rome, and a few German tourists who dress up like
mountaineers when excursioning among the Tyrolean Alps.

It is said that the Chinese all dress alike, think alike, talk alike,
act alike, eat the same food, take the same amusements, and look alike.
Civilization is making us all Chinese, we are losing our individuality
and our independence, and, it must be admitted, casting away behind us
what constituted the picturesqueness and variety of life.

In the old times in country places, away from towns, there was much
that was of interest; men and women had then quaint ways, stood out as
characters, and impressed themselves on those who were around them.
Now, all are afraid of being peculiar, of not being like every one
else, of using a word, doing an act, thinking a thought which has
not the sanction of--vulgarity, in the true acceptation of the term,
according to its derivation--of being _common_.

One looks back, with a little compunction, on those old times. There
was a freshness and charm about them which can never be recovered.
Every one in a village knew every one else, and all his belongings;
every one was related, and a stranger from a few miles off passed
as a foreigner. To "go foreign" was to leave the parish. This was,
of course, carried to extraordinary lengths in some places, and
neighbouring villages regarded each other with traditional jealousy.
This was not commendable. There is a story told of two villages, one
called Mary Tavy, the adjoining called Peter Tavy, that is to say, St.
Mary on the Tavy and St. Peter on the Tavy, on the borders of Dartmoor,
that regarded each other for ages with animosity. One day after a storm
of rain the river Tavy rolled down volumes of water, and a poor wretch
was caught by the flood on a rock in mid-stream; he was unable to reach
the bank. He screamed for assistance. Presently a man came along the
side and halted, and called to the fellow in danger, "I say, be you a
Peter Tavy or a Mary Tavy man?" "Peter Tavy," answered the wretch in
danger. "Throw me a rope, or I shall be drownded." "No, no," answered
he on the land, "I be a Mary Tavy man; so go on hollering till a Peter
Tavy chap comes by;" and he left the fellow in distress to his fate.

This exclusiveness had its bad side, but it had its redeeming side
also. There can be no question that the force of popular feeling, the
sense of relationship, the feeling of belonging to a certain village,
or class, did act as a strong moral support to many a young man and
woman. They felt that they dared not bring disgrace on their whole
class, or village, by misconduct. The sense of belonging to, being one
member of a community, in which, if one member were honoured, all the
members rejoiced with it, and if one were disgraced, the humiliation
fell on all, was very strong and tough. That is to an immense extent
gone, and can never be restored. We are all cosmopolitan now, and live
and die to ourselves.

But let us come to some of the peculiar features of old village life,
before there were railways, and when the post did not come every day.

[Illustration: Old Church Orchestra.]

At that time most villages had their feasts, revels, harvest homes,
ringers' suppers, shearing feasts, and other entertainments. Some of
us can remember when in the village churches the gallery was occupied
by the village band, fiddles and viol, ophicleide, flute &c. They were
done away with, and the hand-organ took its place in some churches, a
real organ or a harmonium in others. It was a sad mistake of the clergy
to try to abolish the old orchestra;--no doubt the playing was not
very good, and the instruments were out of tune; no doubt also there
was much quarrelling and little harmony among the performers, but an
institution should be improved, not abolished. That gave the death-blow
to instrumental music in our villages. Previously the smallest village
had its half-dozen men who could play on some instruments. Now you find
that there are half a dozen boys who can manage the concertina--that is
all.

These instrumentalists attended all the festivities in a village,
wakes, harvest homes, revels, and weddings, and were well received
and well treated. They played old country dances, old ballads, old
concerted pieces of no ordinary merit. In some parish chests may
be found volumes of rudely written music, which belonged to these
performers, mostly sacred, but not always so.

When in 1617 James I. was making a progress through Lancashire, he
found that the Puritan magistrates had prohibited and unlawfully
punished the people for using their "lawful recreations and honest
exercises" on holidays; and next year he issued a declaration
concerning sports and merry-makings, such as May-games, morris-dances,
Whitsun-ales, the setting up of maypoles; and James very wisely
said, "If these be taken away from the meaner sort, who labour hard
all the week, they will have no recreations at all to refresh their
spirits; and in place thereof it will set up filthy tipplings and
drunkenness, and breed a number of idle and discontented speeches in
their ale-houses." Also it would "hinder the conversion of many, whom
their priests will take occasion hereby to vex, persuading them that no
honest mirth or recreation is lawfully tolerable in our religion."

At the present day we hardly realize the extent to which music was
cultivated in old times, so that England--not Italy, Germany, or
France--was the great musical nation of Europe. What astonished
foreigners, when they visited England in the reign of Henry VIII. and
Elizabeth, was the perfection to which music was brought here, and the
widespread knowledge of music that prevailed. France had its music
school created by Sully, a Florentine by birth, who was placed at the
head of a band of violins by Louis XIV. At that time "not half the
musicians of France were able to play at sight." Even that band, got
together with difficulty, could play nothing at sight. Nor did Sully
effect any great reform in this respect, for when the Regent, Duke of
Orleans, wished to hear Corelli's sonatas, which were newly brought
from Rome, no three persons were to be found in Paris who could play
them, and he was obliged to content himself with having them sung to
him by three voices. On the other hand, in England at that time every
gentleman was expected to be able either to sing a part at sight, or
play a part on some instrument or other. As a regular thing after
supper, the party in a country house adjourned to the music-room, and
there spent the rest of the evening in singing or in instrumental
music. Nor was this knowledge of music confined to the upper classes.
A curious instance of this we find in Pepys' diary. That diary extends
between the years 1660-1669. In the course of his diary, four maids
are mentioned as being in his household, to attend on his wife, and
a boy who waited on himself. All of these seem to have possessed, as
an ordinary qualification, some musical skill and knowledge. Of the
first of the serving-maids he says (November 17, 1662), "After dinner,
talking with my wife, and making Mrs. Gosnell (the maid) sing--I am
mightily pleased with her humour and singing." And again, on December
5, "She sings exceedingly well." Within a few months Gosnell was
succeeded by Mary Ashwell; and he tells us in March, "I heard Ashwell
play first upon the harpsicon, and I find she do play pretty well. Then
home by coach, buying at the Temple the printed virginal book for her."
The harpsicon and the virginal were the pianofortes of the period,
something like square pianos; in the virginal the strings were struck
by quills. Of the third maid Mrs. Pepys had, Mary Mercer, he says on
September 9, 1664, that she was "a pretty, modest, quiet maid. After
dinner my wife and Mercer, Tom (the boy) and I, sat till eleven at
night, singing and fiddling, and a great joy it is to see me master of
so much pleasure in my house. The girle (Mercer) plays pretty well upon
the harpsicon, but only ordinary tunes, but hath a good hand; sings
a little, but hath a good voyce and eare. My boy, a brave boy, sings
finely, and is the most pleasant boy at present, while his ignorant
boy's tricks last, that ever I see." After some time Mercer went to
see her mother, and Mrs. Pepys, finding her absent without leave, went
after her, found her in her mother's house, and there _beat her_. The
mother having urged that Mary was "not a common prentice girl," and
therefore ought not to have been thus chastized, Mrs. Pepys construed
it into a question of her right to inflict corporal chastisement, and
dismissed Mary.

In October, 1666, says Pepys, "my wife brought a new girle. She is
wretched poor, and but ordinary favoured, and we fain to lay out seven
or eight pounds worth of clothes upon her back: and I do not think I
can esteem her as I could have done another, that had come fine and
handsome; and, which is more, her voice, through want of use, is so
furred that it do not at present please me; but her manner of singing
is such that I shall, I think, take great pleasure in it."

After a while Mary Mercer was taken back, and then we hear of singing
on the water, especially after a trip to Greenwich when returning by
moonlight. The boy Tom was usually of the party. Of him Pepys says
(Oct. 25, 1664), "My boy could not sleep, but wakes about four in the
morning, and in bed laying playing on his lute till daylight, and it
seems did the like last night, till twelve o'clock." And again, Dec.
26, 1668, "After supper I made the boy play upon his lute, and so, my
mind is mighty content,--to bed."

We do not in the least suppose that Pepys' household was singular in
the respect of having a succession of musical servants. All people
in those times were musical--men, boys, women, and girls, of all
classes and degrees. At the fire of London in 1666, Pepys, who was an
eye-witness, tells us that the Thames was full of lighters and boats
taking in goods, and that he "observed that hardly one lighter or
boat in three, that had the goods of a house, but there was a pair of
virginals in it."

How those old fellows loved and cared for their instruments! Mace,
a writer of 1676, tells how a lute should be treated. "You shall do
well," he writes, "even when you lay it by in the day-time, to put it
into a bed that is constantly used, between the rug and the blanket,
but never between the sheets, because they may be moist. There are
great commodities (advantages) in so doing; it will save the strings
from breaking; it will keep your lute in good order." He enumerates six
conveniences of so doing. At that time a lute, a good one, cost about
£100.

So completely was it a matter of course to have music after supper,
that Cromwell, a lover of music, only altered the character of the
performance. When the ambassadors of Holland came to him, as Lord
Protector, on the occasion of peace between the two Commonwealths,
after having entertained them at a repast, he and the "Lady
Protectrice" led them into the music-hall, where they had a psalm
sung. This was in 1654. The dissolution of the cathedral choirs, the
abolition of sacred music in the churches, scattered professional
musicians over the country. There is a very curious traditional song
relative to this change, sung in Devonshire, and called _Brixham Town_.

It relates how--

    "In Brixham town so rare
    For singing sweet and fair,
    With none that may compair."

The instrumentalists and singers considered that they were the best
anywhere. But--

    "There came a man to our town,
    A man of office and in gown,
    Strove to put music down,
        Which most men do adore."

Then the story goes on to exhort him and all others who love not music--

    "Go search out Holy Writ,
    And you will find in it,
    That it is right and fit
      To praise the Lord.
    On cymbal and with lute,
    On organ and with flute,
    And voices sweet that suit
      All in accord."

Very pointedly the song goes on to mention how an evil spirit haunted
Saul, and how it proved that this devil also hated music, and how that
when David played on his harp the evil spirit fled. The song ends--

    "So now, my friends, adieu;
    I hope that all of you
    Will pull most just and true
      In serving the Lord.
    God grant that all of we,
    Like angels may agree,
    Singing in harmony,
      And sweet concord."

There was a great effort made at the time of the Commonwealth to
put down all kinds of music. In 1648 the Provost-marshal was given
power to arrest all ballad-singers. Organs were everywhere destroyed,
and probably a great many viols, lutes, and other instruments.
One gentleman, when he adopted Puritanism, had a deep hole dug in
his garden, and buried in it "£200 worth of music-books, six feet
underground, being, as he said, love-songs and vanity." This was a
considerable sum indeed for an amateur to have spent in books of vocal
music only; and as he continued to play "psalms and religious hymns on
the theorbo," it may be presumed that what was interred formed but a
portion of his musical collection.

The singers and instrumentalists dispersed by the orders of Parliament
were reduced to the greatest poverty, and went round the country
taking up their abode in gentlemen's houses, where they were gladly
given quarters, when these gentlemen could afford it; but as many were
utterly impoverished, often the musicians frequented the ale-houses,
and picked up a precarious subsistence from the tavern frequenters.
This had one advantage, for it no doubt helped to educate the village
people generally in music. But even thus they got into trouble, for
Oliver Cromwell's third Parliament passed an Act ordering the arrest
and punishment of all minstrels and musicians who performed in taverns.
Hitherto in country places the only instruments used had been rude,
and the only music known was the ballad air, which also served as a
dance-tune. Hence most of our old dances are known by the names of the
ballads to which they were sung. But the dispersion of the orchestras
from cathedrals and theatres and large town churches throughout
the country places not only brought in a new notion of music, the
playing of concerted pieces, but also in a great many cases placed
the costly instruments at the disposal of village musicians. The old
instrumentalists were obliged to part with their lutes and theorbos,
their viol de gambas and violins, at a low price; or dying in the
villages where they had settled, they left their loved instruments
to such men in the place as seemed likely to make good use of them.
These old musicians in country places gathered men about them in their
lodgings in the village ale-houses, and taught them a more artistic
method of playing, and a higher class of music, and they really gave
that impetus to orchestral church music which only died out--shall we
not rather say was killed?--within the memory of man.

The old village musician was a man remarkable in his way. One, David
Turton, of Horbury, in Yorkshire, was perhaps typical of the better
class. A man of intense enthusiasm for his art, and passionate love of
his viol; one may be quite sure that his viol shared his bed, taking it
by day when Turton was out of it, like Box and Cox. The story was told
of him, that he was returning one night from a concert at Wakefield,
where he had been performing, when he passed through a field in which
was a savage bull. The bull seeing him began to bellow, and run at him
with lowered horns. "Now then," said old David, "that note must be
double B." He whipped the bass viol out of the green bag, set it down,
and drew his bow over the strings, to try to hit the note bellowed.
The bull, staggered at the response, stopped, threw up his head,
and--turned tail.

But there were musicians of a less dignified character, jolly,
reckless, drinking dogs, who fiddled at every festive gathering till
they could fiddle no more. They were invariably present at a wedding.

In a popular song called _Chummie's Wedding_, it is said of the
merry-makers--

    "The fiddler did stop, and he struck up a hop,
      Whilst seated on top of a trunk,
    But not one of the batch could come up to the scratch,
      They were all so outrageously drunk."

Very quaint old tunes were played; as the space for dancing in
cottages was extremely limited, the performance was often confined to
one couple, sometimes to a single performer--a man, who took off his
shoes and went through really marvellous steps. The step-dance is now
gone, or all but gone, but was at one time much cultivated among the
peasantry of the west of England. Much depended on the fiddler, who
played fast or slow, and changed his air, the dancer altering his pace
and step, and the whole character of his dance, to suit the music.

The village clerk was generally the great musical authority in the
parish; he led the orchestra in the church, and not unusually also
played at merry-makings. It may be remembered that in _Doctor Syntax_
is a plate representing the parson in his black cocked hat and bushy
wig performing on his violin to the rustics as they dance about the
May-pole; and again, fiddling, he leads the harvest-home procession.
Such conduct would be regarded as highly indecorous now; but was there
harm in it? Was it not well that the parson should be associated with
the merry-makings of his flock? that he should lead and direct their
music?

Those old orchestras were, I fear, subject to outbreaks of discord, and
that was one reason why they were displaced first by the barrel organ,
then by the harmonium. Well, but the solar envelope is always torn
by tempests, and yet it diffuses a light in which we live and enjoy
ourselves, regardless of these storms. The very necessity for living
together in some sort of agreement, in order that they might be able
to perform concerted pieces, was of educative advantage to the old
musicians. It taught them to subdue their individuality to the common
welfare. And so, not only because it gave more persons an interest in
the conduct of Divine worship than at present is the case, but also
because the orchestra was a great educative school of self-control, its
disappearance from every village is to be regretted.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: James Olver. _From a Photograph by_ Hayman, Launceston.]



CHAPTER XI.

THE VILLAGE BARD.


[Illustration]

In the _Vicar of Wakefield_, the parsonage is visited periodically by
a poor man of the name of Burchell. "He was fondest of the company of
children, whom he used to call harmless little men. He was famous,
I found, for singing them ballads and telling them stories.... He
generally came for a few days into our neighbourhood once a year, and
lived upon the neighbours' hospitality. He sat down to supper among
us, and my wife was not sparing of her gooseberry wine. The tale went
round; he sung us old songs, and gave the children the story of the
Buck of Beverland, with the history of Patient Grizzel, the Adventures
of Catskin, and then Fair Rosamund's Bower."

How completely the itinerant singer of ballads and teller of folk-tales
has disappeared--driven from the houses of the gentle, because the
young people have books now, and amuse themselves with them, and he
lingers on only in the ale-houses; such men are few and far between,
feeble old men, who can now hardly obtain a hearing for their quaint
stories, and whose minor melodies are voted intolerable by young ears,
disciplined only to appreciate music-hall inanities.

There are still a few of these men about, and as I have taken a good
deal of pains to get into their confidence, and collect from them
the remains--there exist only remains--of their stories, musical and
poetical, I am able to give an account of them which ought to interest,
for the old village bard or song-man is rapidly becoming as extinct as
the dodo and the great auk.

The village bard or song-man is the descendant of the minstrel. Now
the minstrels were put down by Act of Parliament in 1597, and were to
be dealt with by the magistrates with severity as rogues and vagabonds.
That sealed the doom of the old ballad. All such as were produced later
are tame and flat in comparison with the genuine songs of the old
times, and can at best be regarded only as modern imitations. The press
has preserved in Broadsides a good number of ballads, and _The Complete
Dancing Master_ and other collections have saved a good number of the
old tunes from being irrevocably lost. But by no means all were thus
preserved; a great many more continued to be sung by our peasantry, and
I quite believe the old men when they say, that at one time they knew
some one hundred and fifty to two hundred distinct songs and melodies;
their memories were really extraordinary. But then they could neither
read nor write, and the faculty of remembering was developed in them
to a remarkable extent. I have heard of two of these men meeting to
sing against each other for a wager. They began at sunset; one started
a ballad, sang it through, then his opponent sang one, and so on. The
object was to ascertain which knew most. The sun rose on them, and
neither had come to an end of his store, so the stakes were drawn.

These old minstrels all are in the same tale, when asked to sing,
"Lord, your honour, I haven't a sung these thirty year. Volks now don't
care to hear my songs. Most on 'em be gone right out o' my head." Yet a
good many come back; and I find that when I read over the first verse
or two of a series of ballads in any collection, that the majority are
either known to them, or suggest to them another, or a variant.

It is not ballads only that are stored in their memories--many ballads
that go back for their origin to before the reign of Henry VII., but
also songs that breathe the atmosphere of the time of Elizabeth. Mr.
R. Bell, in his introduction to his _Songs from the Dramatists_, says,
"The superiority in all qualities of sweetness, thoughtfulness, and
purity of the writers of the sixteenth century over their successors is
strikingly exhibited in these productions.

"The songs of the age of Elizabeth and James I. are distinguished as
much by their delicacy and chastity of feeling, as by their vigour
and beauty. The change that took place under Charles II. was sudden
and complete. With the Restoration love disappears, and sensuousness
takes its place. Voluptuous without taste or sentiment, the songs of
that period may be said to dissect in broad daylight the life of the
town, laying bare with revolting shamelessness the tissues of its most
secret vices. But as this morbid anatomy required some variation to
relieve its sameness, the song sometimes transported the libertinism
into the country, and through the medium of a sort of Covent Garden
pastoral exhibited the fashionable delinquencies in a masquerade of
Strephons and Chlorises, no better than the Courtalls and Loveits of
the comedies. The costume of innocence gave increased zest to the
dissolute wit, and the audiences seem to have been delighted with the
representation of their own licentiousness in the transparent disguise
of verdant images, and the affectation of rural simplicity."

Very few of the songs of the Restoration have lingered on in the memory
of our minstrels, if ever they were taken into their store. Many of
the songs of that period were set to tunes that have passed on from
generation to generation, up to the present age, when they are all
being neglected for wretched, vulgar songs, without fun and without
melody. The ballad especially is death-smitten. Folks nowadays lack
patience, and will not endure a song that is not finished in three
minutes. The old ballad was a folk-tale run into jingling rhyme,
and sung to a traditional air; it is often very long. One I have
recovered, _The Gipsy Countess_, runs through over twenty verses. The
very popular _Saddle to Rags_ runs through some twenty-two, _Lord
Bateman_ has about fifty, and _Arthur of Bradley_ has hardly any end to
it. A ballad cannot be pared down greatly, as that destroys the story,
which is set to verse to be told leisurely, with great variety of
expression.

In 1846 the Percy Society issued to its members a volume entitled
_Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England_, edited
by Mr. J. H. Dixon, who gives in his preface the following account
of the sources whence he collected them:--"He who, in travelling
through the rural districts of England, has made the roadside inn his
resting-place, who has visited the lowly dwellings of the villagers and
yeomanry, and been present at their feasts and festivals, must have
observed that there are certain old poems, ballads, and songs which are
favourites with the masses, and have been said and sung from generation
to generation." When I was a boy I was wont to ride about my native
county, putting up at little village inns for the night, and there I
often came in for gatherings where the local song-man entertained the
company. Unfortunately I did not make any collection at the time,
though snatches of the songs and wafts of the strains lingered in my
head. I dare say that there are still singers of ballads in other parts
of England, but my researches have been confined to the west. Somerset
had its own type of songs with peculiar cadences, and Devon and
Cornwall were rich to overflow in melodies. Wherever I go in quest of a
song-man, I hear the same story, "Ah! there was old So-and-so, eighty
years of age, died last winter of bronchitis, _he_ was a singer and no
mistake." They have been struck down, those old men, and therefore we
must prize the more those that are left.

Anciently--well, not so very anciently either, for it was within
my memory--almost every parish had its bard, a man generally the
descendant of a still more famous father, who was himself but the
legatee of a race of song-men. This village bard had his memory stored
with traditional melodies and songs and ballads, committed to him as
a valuable deposit by his father, wedded to well-known ancient airs,
and the country singer not only turned from the affectation of the new
melodies, but with jealous tenacity clung to the familiar words. Words
became so wedded to airs that the minstrels, and their hearers and
imitators, could not endure to have them dissociated.

I had an instance of this three winters ago, when, at a village
concert, I sang an old ballad, _The Sun was Set behind the Hill_, set
by a friend to a melody he had composed for it.

A very old labourer who was present began to grumble. "He's gotten the
words right, but he's not got the right tune. He should zing 'un right
or not at all," and he got up and left the room in disdain.

The village minstrel did certainly compose some of the melodies he
sang, generally to a new ballad, or song that was acquired from a
broadside, or to one he had himself made. This the old men have
distinctly assured me of. They did not all, or a large number of them
did not, pretend to the faculty of musical composition, but they have
named to me men so gifted, and have told me of melodies they composed.
There was, and is, a blacksmith in a remote village in Devon, who is
reported to be able to play any musical instrument put into his hands,
at all events after a little trial of its peculiarities. He is said to
be able to set any copy of verses offered him to original melodies.

Davey, the writer of _Will Watch_, and other pleasant songs of the
Dibdin period and character, was a Devonshire blacksmith. But, as
already hinted, these men also composed verses. There was such an
one, a village poet in the parish where I lived as a child. His
story was curious. He had bought his wife in Okehampton market for
half-a-crown. Her husband, weary of her temper and tongue, brought her
to the "Gigglet" fair with a rope round her neck, and the minstrel had
the hardihood to buy her. I know that it has often been charged by
foreigners on English people that they sell their wives thus, but this
was a fact. The woman was so sold, and so bought; the buyer and seller
quite believed that the transaction was legal. She lived with the
purchaser till her death, and a very clean, decent, hard-working woman
she was. She had, indeed, a tongue; but when she began to let it wag,
then the minstrel clapped his hands to his ears, ran out of the house,
and betook himself to the ale-house, where he was always welcome, and
from which he did not himself return, but was conveyed home--in a
wheel-barrow. This man regarded himself as the poet of the place, and
nothing of importance took place in my grandfather's family without his
coming to the house to sing a copy of verses he had composed on the
occasion. Many a good laugh was had over his verses, which, like those
of Orlando, "had in them more feet than the verses would bear; and the
feet were lame, and could not bear themselves without the verse."

There was one, made on the occasion of some new arrangement with the
farmers relative to the game entered into by my father, and which gave
general satisfaction, of which each stanza ended with the refrain--

    "For he had, he had, he had, he had,
    O he had a most expansive mind."

The reader will conclude that the world has not lost much in that Jim's
poems have not been preserved.

One very odd feature, by the way, of these singers is the manner
in which they manufacture syllables where the verse halts. Thus
when "gold-en" comes in place of two trochees, they convert it into
"guddle-old-en"; even, when the line is still more halting, into
"gud-dle-udd-le-old-en." In like manner "soul" or "tree" is turned into
"suddle-ole" or "tur-rur-ree."

There was another village poet who flourished in the same epoch as
the Jim cited above. His name was Rab Downe. He had a remarkable
facility for running off impromptu verses. On one occasion at a
wrestling match, he began swinging himself from foot to foot, and to a
chant--these fellows always sing their verses--described the match as
it went on before him, versifying all the turns and incidents of the
struggle, throwing in words relative to the onlookers, their names and
complementary expletives.

No doubt that much of the compositions of these men was mere doggerel,
but it was not always so. In their songs gleam out here and there a
poetic, or, at all events, a fresh and quaint thought. What is always
difficult to ascertain is what is original and what traditional, for
when they do pretend to originality they often import into their verses
whole passages from ancient ballads. But in this they are not peculiar.
Hindley in his _Life of James Catnach_, the Broadside publisher, gives
some verses on the death of the Princess Charlotte, which Catnach
claimed as his own composition. The first verse runs--

    "She is gone! sweet Charlotte's gone,
        Gone to the silent bourne;
    She is gone, she's gone for ever more,--
        She never can return."

But this was a mere adaptation of a song of _The Drowned Lover_, which
is a favourite with the old singers--

    "He is gone! my love is drowned!
        My love whom I deplore.
    He is gone! he's gone! I never,
        No I never shall see him more."

Catnach corruscated into brilliant originality in the next stanza--

    "She is gone with her joy--her darling boy,
      The son of Leopold, blythe and keen;
    She Died the sixth of November,
      Eighteen hundred and seventeen."

There is nothing like this in the original _Drowned Lover_ that
influenced the opening of his elegy. "Catnach," says Mr. Hindley--the
italics are his own--"_made_ the following lines _out of his own
head_!" Our village bards never reached a lower bathos. The reader
may perhaps like to hear the story of the lives of some of these old
fellows.

One, James Parsons, a very infirm man, over seventy, asthmatic and
failing, has been a labourer all his life, and for the greater part of
it on one farm. His father was famed through the whole country side as
"The Singing Machine," he was considered to be inexhaustible. Alas! he
is no more, and his old son shakes his head and professes to have but
half the ability, memory, and musical faculty that were possessed by
his father. He can neither read nor write. From him I have obtained
some of the earliest melodies and most archaic forms of ballads. Indeed
the majority of his airs are in the old church modes, and generally end
on the dominant. At one time his master sent him to Lydford on the edge
of Dartmoor, to look after a farm he had bought. Whilst there, Parsons
went every pay-day to a little moorland tavern, where the miners met to
drink, and there he invariably got his "entertainment" for his singing.
"I'd been zinging there," said he, "one evening till I got a bit fresh,
and I thought 'twere time for me to be off. So I stood up to go, and
then one chap, he said to me, 'Got to the end o' your zongs, old man?'
'Not I,' said I, 'not by a long ways; but I reckon it be time for me to
be going.' 'Looky here, Jim,' said he. 'I'll give you a quart of ale
for every fresh song you sing us to-night.' Well, your honour, I sat
down again, and I zinged on--I zinged sixteen fresh songs, and that
chap had to pay for sixteen quarts."

"Pints, surely," I said.

"No, zur!" bridling up. "No, zur--not pints, good English quarts. And
then--I hadn't come to the end o' my zongs, only I were that fuddled, I
couldn't remember no more."

"Sixteen quarts between feeling fresh and getting fuddled!"

"Sixteen. Ask Voysey; he paid for'n."

Now this Voysey is a man working for me, so I did ask him. He laughed
and said, "Sure enough, I had to pay for sixteen quarts that evening."

Another of my old singers is James Olver, a fine, hale old man, with
a face fresh as a rose, and silver hair, a grand old patriarchal man,
who has been all his life a tanner. He is a Cornishman, a native of St.
Kewe. His father was musical, but a Methodist, and so strict that he
would never allow his children to sing a ballad or any profane song in
his hearing, and fondly fancied that they grew up in ignorance of such
things. But the very fact that they were tabooed gave young Olver and
his sister a great thirst to learn, digest, and sing them. He acquired
them from itinerant ballad-singers, from miners, and from the village
song-men.

Olver was apprenticed to a tanner at Liskeard. "Tell'y," said he,
"at Liskeard, sixty years ago, all the youngsters on summer evenings
used to meet in a field outside the town called _Gurt Lane_, and the
ground were strewed wi' tan, and there every evening us had wrastling
(wrestling), and single-stick, and boxing. Look'y here,"--he put his
white head near me and raised the hair,--"do'y see now how my head be
a cut about? and look to my forehead and cheek as was cut open wi'
single-stick. I wor a famous player in them days; and the gentlefolks
and ladies 'ud come out and see us at our sports, just as they goes now
to cricket-matches."

Whilst the games went on, or between the intervals, songs were sung.
"I'll sing'y one," said Olver, "was a favourite, and were sung to
encourage the youngsters."

    1. "I sing of champions bold,
      That wrestled--not for gold;
          And all the cry
          Was 'Will Trefry,'
      That he would win the day.
      So Will Trefry, huzzah!
    The ladies clap their hands and cry,
      'Trefry! Trefry! huzzah!'

    2. Then up sprang little Jan,
      A lad scarce grown a man.
          He said, 'Trefry,
          I wot I'll try
      A hitch with you this day.'
      So little Jan, huzzah!
    The ladies clap their hands and cry,
      'O little Jan, huzzah!'

    3. He stript him to the waist,
      He boldly Trefry faced;
          'I'll let him know
          That I can throw
      As well as he to-day.'
      So little Jan, huzzah!
    And some said so; but others,'No,
      Trefry! Trefry! huzzah!'

    4. They wrestled on the ground,
      His match Trefry had found;
          And back he bore
          In struggle sore,
      And felt his force give way.
      So little Jan, huzzah!
    So some did say; but others, 'Nay,
      Trefry! Trefry! huzzah!'

    5. Then with a desperate toss,
      Will showed the flying hoss,[8]
          And little Jan
          Fell on the tan,
      And never more he spake.
      O! little Jan, alack!
    The ladies say, 'Oh, woe's the day!
      O! little Jan, alack!'

    6. Now little Jan, I ween,
      That day had married been;
          Had he not died,
          A gentle bride
      That day he home had led.
    The ladies sigh--the ladies cry,
      'O! little Jan is dead.'"

At Halwell, in North Devon, lives a fine old man named Roger Luxton,
aged seventy-six, a great-grandfather, with bright eyes and an
intelligent face. He stays about among his grandchildren, but is
usually found at the picturesque farm-house of a daughter at Halwell,
called Croft. This old man was once very famous as a song-man, but
his memory fails him as to a good number of the ballads he was wont
to sing. "Ah, your honour," said he, "in old times us used to be
welcome in every farm-house, at all shearing and haysel and harvest
feasts; but, bless'y! now the farmers' da'ters all learn the pianny,
and zing nort but twittery sort of pieces that have nother music nor
sense in them; and they don't care to hear us, and any decent sort
of music. And there be now no more shearing and haysel and harvest
feasts. All them things be given up. 'Tain't the same world as used to
be--'taint so cheerful. Folks don't zing over their work, and laugh
after it. There be no dances for the youngsters as there used to was.
The farmers be too grand to care to talk to us old chaps, and for
certain don't care to hear us zing. Why for nigh on forty years us old
zinging-fellows have been drove to the public-houses to zing, and to a
different quality of hearers too. And now I reckon the labouring folk
be so tree-mendious edicated that they don't care to hear our old songs
nother. 'Tis all _Pop goes the Weasel_ and _Ehren on the Rhine_ now. I
reckon folks now have got different ears from what they used to have,
and different hearts too. More's the pity."

In the very heart of Dartmoor lives a very aged blind man, by name
Jonas Coaker, himself a poet, after an illiterate fashion. He is only
able to leave his bed for a few hours in the day. He has a retentive
memory, and recalls many very old ballads. From being blind he is
thrown in on himself, and works on his memory till he digs out some
of the old treasures buried there long ago. Unhappily his voice is
completely gone, so that melodies cannot be recovered through him.

There is a Cornishman whose name I will give as Elias Keate--a
pseudonym--a thatcher, a very fine, big-built, florid man, with big,
sturdy sons. This man goes round to all sheep-shearings, harvest homes,
fairs, etc., and sings. He has a round, rich voice, a splendid pair
of bellows; but he has an infirmity, he is liable to become the worse
for the liquor he freely imbibes, and to be quarrelsome over his cups.
He belongs to a family of hereditary singers and drinkers. In his
possession is a pewter spirit-bottle--a pint bottle--that belonged to
his great-grandfather in the latter part of the last century. That
old fellow used to drink his pint of raw spirit every day; so did the
grandfather of Elias; so did the father of Elias; so would Elias--if he
had it; but so do not his sons, for they are teetotalers.

Another minstrel is a little blacksmith; he is a younger man than
the others, but he is, to me, a valuable man. He was one of fourteen
children, and so his mother sent him, when he was four years old, to
his grandmother, and he remained with his grandmother till he was ten.
From his grandmother he acquired a considerable number of old dames'
songs and ballads. His father was a singer; he had inherited both the
hereditary faculty and the stock-in-trade. Thus my little blacksmith
learned a whole series which were different from those acquired from
the grandmother. At the age of sixteen he left home, finding he was a
burden, and since that age has shifted for himself. This man tells me
that he can generally pick up a melody and retain it, if he has heard
it sung once; that of a song twice sung, he knows words and music, and
rarely, if ever, requires to have it sung a third time to perfect him.

[Illustration: John Helmore.]

[Illustration: Richard Hard.]

On the south of Dartmoor live two men also remarkable in their
way--Richard Hard and John Helmore. The latter is an old miller, with
a fine intelligent face and a retentive memory. He can read, and his
songs have to be accepted with caution. Some are very old, others
have been picked up from song-books. Hard is a poor cripple, walking
only with the aid of two sticks, with sharply-chiselled features,--he
must have been a handsome man in his youth,--bright eyes, a gentle,
courteous manner, and a marvellous store of old words and tunes in his
head. He is now past stone-breaking on the roadside, and lives on £4
per annum. He has a charming old wife; and he and the old woman sing
together in parts their quaint ancient ballads. That man has yielded
up something like eighty distinct melodies. His memory, however,
is failing; for when the first lines of a ballad in some published
collection is read to him, he will sometimes say, "I did know that some
forty years ago, but I can't sing it through now." However, he can very
generally "put the tune to it."

The days of these old singers is over. What festive gatherings there
are now are altered in character. The harvest home is no more. We have
instead harvest festivals, tea and cake at sixpence a head in the
school-room, and a choral service and a sermon in the church. Village
weddings are now quiet enough, no feasting, no dancing. There are
no more shearing feasts; what remain are shorn of all their festive
character. Instead, we have cottage garden produce shows. The old
village "revels" linger on in the most emaciated and expiring semblance
of the old feast. The old ballad-seller no more appears in the fair. I
wrote to a famous broadside house in the west the other day, to ask if
they still produced sheet-ballads, and the answer was, "We abandoned
that line thirty years ago;" and no one else took it up.

"I love a ballad but even too well," says the Clown in _Winter's Tale_,
and "I love a ballad in print, a'-life!" sighs Mopsa; but there are
no Clowns and Mopsas now. Clever Board School scholars and misses who
despise ballads, and love dear as life your coarse, vulgar, music-hall
buffoonery.

  [9]"I reckon the days is departed
       When folks 'ud 'a listened to me;
     I feels like as one broken-hearted,
        A thinking of what used to be.
     And I dun' know as much is amended
       Than was in them merry old times,
     When, wi' pipes and good ale, folks attended
       To me and my purty old rhymes.
           To me and my purty old rhymes.

     'Tes true, I be cruel asthmatic,
       I've lost ivry tooth i' my head,
     And my limbs be crim'd up wi' rheumatic--
       D'rsay I were better in bed.
     But Lor'! wi' that dratted blue ribbon,
       Tay-totals and chapels--the lot!
     A leckturing, canting and fibbin',
       The old zinging man is forgot.
           The old zinging man is forgot.

     I reckon, that wi' my brown fiddle,
       I'd go from this cottage to that,
     All the youngsters 'ud dance in the middle,
       Their pulses and feet pit-a-pat.
     I cu'd zing--if you'd stand me the liquor,
       All night, and 'ud never give o'er;
     My voice--I don't deny't getting thicker,
       But never exhausting my store.
           But never exhausting my store.

     'Tes politics now is the fashion,
       As sets folks about by the ear,
     And slops makes the poorest o' lushing,
       No zinging for _me_ wi'out beer.
     I reckon the days be departed
       For such jolly gaffers as I;
     Folks will never again be light-hearted,
       As they was in the days that's gone by.
           As they was in the days that's gone by.

     O Lor! what wi' their edi'cation,
       And me--neither cipher nor write;
     But in zinging the best in the nation,
       And give the whole parish delight.
     I be going, I reckon, full mellow,
       To lay in the churchyard my head;
     So say--God be wi' you, old fellow!
       The last o' the singers is dead.
           The last o' the singers is dead."

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[8] The Flying Horse is a peculiarly dangerous throw over the head,
and usually breaks or severely injures the spine of the wrestler thus
thrown.

[9] From _Songs of the West_, by S. Baring Gould and H. Fleetwood
Sheppard. Methuen & Co.: 1889.



CHAPTER XII.

OLD SERVANTS.


[Illustration]

When _Doomsday Book_ was drawn up, there was but one female domestic
servant in the county of Devon, that covers one million six hundred
and fifty-five thousand acres. When I mentioned that fact to a lady of
my acquaintance, she heaved a deep-drawn sigh, and said, "I wish I had
lived in the times of _Doomsday_, and had not been the mistress of
that one servant-maid."

[Illustration: The Old Butler.]

I believe that, were we lords of creation to have earlet holes
communicating with our lady's bowers, as in the middle ages the ladies
of creation had openings into their lords' halls, we would hear that
much of their conversation turned on the restlessness and misdemeanours
of their female servants. I do not mean for a moment to deny or
excuse these defects, but to explain the cause of the restlessness
complained of. Polly is out of a situation, she can neither boil a
potato properly nor cook a mutton-chop. She advertises in the local
paper for a situation as cook, from her parents' cottage, where the
whole family pig in one room. The post arrives next morning with forty
or fifty answers from ladies asking, pleading for her services. Half
an hour later up drives a squire's carriage with coach and footman on
the box, then the humble pony carriage of the rector, next the jingle
of a maiden lady who lives two miles off. All day long carriages of
every description are staying at the door, and ladies are visiting,
entreating for the services of Polly. Polly spreads the forty or fifty
letters she has received on the table.

1. "Is there a kitchen-maid kept?" "No." "Then I won't go to you."

2. "What wages?" "Twenty pounds." "I take nothing under twenty-eight,
and all found."

3. "Any men-servants?" "A butler." "Married or single?" "Married--wife
lives out." "I can go nowhere where there are not one or two unmarried
and agreeable footmen."

4. "You want a character, ma'am? Very sorry--if you doubts my
respectability we shan't agree."

5. "How many in family?" "Thirteen." "No good. I go nowhere but to a
single gentleman who waits on himself, and cooks his own dinner."

6. "Church or chapel, ma'am, did you ask? I keeps my religious opinions
to myself, and won't be dictated to. No female Jesuits for me."

7. "Early riser? No, ma'am, I am not an early riser, and don't intend
to demean myself by being such. I expecks a cup o' tea and a slice of
bread and butter brought me in bed by the kitchen-maid afore I gets up."

8. "Do I know how to cook _entrées_? There's nothink I can't do; I can
do better than a thousand perfessionals."

9. "Don't allow but alternate Sunday evenings out? I expecks to have
wot evenings out I likes."

10. "Object to waste, do you, ma'am. Very sorry, you must go elsewhere.
I wastes on principle. I wouldn't be so unladylike as to save what
belongs to others. Chuck away what I can't use is my scripture, praises
be."

Now is it to be wondered at that with such a crowd of applicants
Polly's head should be turned, and that she should think herself the
greatest person in the world, so that she will not stay in any place
where she has not everything her own way?

Anciently but few people kept servants, and the servants they kept were
to a large extent drawn from their own class, were often their own
relatives. Pepys took his own sister to be servant in his house. 1660,
Nov. 12. "My father and I discoursed seriously about my sister coming
to live with me, and yet I am much afraid of her ill-nature. I told her
plainly my mind was to have her come, not as a sister but as a servant,
which she promised me she could, and with many thanks did weep for
joy." 1660-1, Jan. 2. "Home to dinner, where I found Pal (my sister)
was come; but I do not let her sit down at the table with me, which I
do at first that she may not expect it hereafter from me."

Sister Paulina's temper proved unendurable. On November 12, 1662, Pepys
writes--"By my wife's appointment came two young ladies, sisters,
acquaintances of my wife's brothers, who are desirous to wait upon
some ladies, and who proffer their services to my wife. The youngest
hath a good voice, and sings very well, besides other good qualitys,
but I fear hath been bred up with too great libertys for my family,
and I fear greater inconveniences of expenses--though I confess the
gentlewoman being pretty handsome and singing, makes me have a good
mind to her." This girl, the younger Gosnell, was engaged. On the 22nd
he writes, "This day I bought the book of country dances against my
wife's woman Gosnell comes, who dances finely."

On November 29. "My wife and I in discourse do pleasantly call Gosnell
over Marmotte."

On January 4, 1662-3. "My wife did propound my having of my sister
Pal again to be her woman, since one we must have."--Gosnell had been
required to attend on her uncle, a justice.--"It being a great trouble
to me that I should have a sister of so ill a nature, that I must be
forced to spend money upon a stranger, when it might better be upon
her if she were good for anything."

Here are a couple of entries that came close together in the register
of Ottery St. Mary concerning marriages--

"1657, September 7. George Trobridge, Gentleman, servant unto John
Vaughan, Esq., married Elizabeth, daughter of Nicolas Hancock."

"1658, April 8. Jonathan Browne, of Bridport, Gent, and Margaret
Harris, servant to Richard Arundell, gent."

That Margaret Harris was a gentlewoman admits of little doubt. In the
register of Woolbrough I remember seeing that the Yarde family of
Bradley had a cousin or two of the same name in service in their house.

The usual term for a valet to a man of estate was--his gentleman, and
a lady's maid-servant was--her gentlewoman. The apostle commands, "By
love serve one another," and our forefathers do not seem at one time
to have thought that domestic service was derogatory to gentility; and
I do not myself see how that any one who considers that his supreme
Master and Lord humbled Himself, and took upon Him the form of a
servant, and stooped to wash His disciples feet, can sneer at _menial_
service. Nothing is menial but what is done in a base, cantankerous,
unloving spirit. It is usually found that such domestics as come
out of the lowest slums are they who are most particular not to do
anything that is not precisely their work, who are most choice and most
exacting. When the relatives of the family ceased to be servants in
the house, then came in the daughters of farmers, the cleanest, most
thrifty, obliging, sensible, and altogether admirable domestics that
ever were. Who that is over fifty does not remember them? They were
conscientious, they took an interest in the family, their mistresses
liked--even loved them.

Then the farmers became too grand in their ideas to send out their
girls into service, and consequently one class alone was drained of its
young women, the labourer class, the uneducated, undisciplined, the
class that had no idea of thrift; and is it to be wondered at that the
girls' heads should be turned when they find in what demand they were?
I do not mean to say that, taken as a whole, a more respectable, nice,
honest, cleanly set of girls is anywhere to be found than our English
serving lasses; but we live in an age of transition--they who were
formerly only required as drudges in farm-houses, suddenly discover
themselves in huge request, and that has upset them.

The trouble there is in households now about domestic servants is
said by some to be due to the mistresses--they do not make friends of
their slavies, as did the ancient mistresses of theirs. But how can
they, when the girl does not stay in the house over three months or
half a year, and when she belongs to a class intellectually, socially,
educationally removed from her mistress by a great cultural gulf as
wide as that which separated Lazarus from Dives?

There are few more charming figures in fiction and in retrospect than
the "old blue-coated serving-man," devoted to his master's interests,
and living and dying in his service; but I doubt whether he deserved
the halo with which he has been invested. He was a bit of an imposture.
Devoted he was to his master's interests, because he lived on his
master, and just on the same principle as any parasite desires the
welfare, the fatness, and full-bloodedness of the mammal on which it is
itself battening. A French cynic in his will bequeathed to his valet
"all that of which he has robbed me." There have been old and faithful
servants, but that there were many of them unselfseeking I do not
believe; and I remember a very considerable number of them who became
intolerable nuisances--exacting, despotic, believing that the family on
which they depended could not get on without them, as the fly said of
itself when it sat on the coach, "How I am getting the carriage along!"
I also know that a good many have carried on gross depredations on
their masters for many years unsuspected and undetected, all the while
believed to have but one object of love and care in the world--the
master and his house.

If we were to make a graduated scale of servants, according to
their merits and demerits, I should put the butler at one end and
the coachman at the other; in the former the imposition reaches
its maximum, and the minimum is in the coachman, or, to put it the
other way, I think that the dear old coachman is the most genuine,
true-hearted, and deepest imbued with love of his master and the
family, and that there is the least of this unselfish love in the
butler. Very ungrateful and unjust would I be were I not to acknowledge
the excellence in the old coachman, for have I not one of my own, now
indeed for his age dethroned from his box but not from my service, who
carried me in his arms to the hayfield when I was a little fellow,
hardly able to toddle, and who now loves above everything to take my
youngest into the stables, and perch the little fellow on the back of
one of the carriage horses. A worthy old servant, who had been with my
grandfather, then my father, then with me, and--who knows? for he is
green still--may serve my son.

The old notion was, that a servant was engaged for a year, and that
a servant could not leave, nor a master discharge a servant, under a
quarter's notice. The servants within a house were recognized by law
as _menials_, from the Latin _intra menia_, within walls. As late as
last century, all single men between twelve years old and sixty, and
married ones under thirty years of age, and all single women between
twelve and forty, not having any visible livelihood, were compellable
by two justices to go into service of some sort. The _apprentice_,
from the French _apprendre_, to learn, was usually bound for a term
of years, by indenture, to serve the master, and be maintained and
instructed by him. Landowners and farmers had their apprentices as
well as their menials. Orphan children were apprenticed by the parish,
and an almost filial relation and affection grew up between master
and mistress and their apprentices. This was specially noticeable
among farm-servants. I knew an old man who had been apprenticed to my
great-great-grandmother, that died at the end of last century, and he
always spoke of her with the tenderest respect, and was proud to the
last hour of his life that he had been apprenticed to the old madame.

The farm-servants and the inferior servants to the gentry were hired at
certain fairs, generally at Martinmas; in the west of England these are
called _giglet_ fairs, but they exist in Yorkshire, and indeed in many
other parts of England. The word giglet means a girl. The girls and
young men were wont to stand in rows in the market-place, to be looked
at and selected. They wore ribands according to the sort of service
they desired to enter upon. A carter carried in his hat a tuft of white
ribands, a cook wore a red riband, and a housemaid a bunch of blue. The
giglet fairs continue, and are attended by all the labouring population
of the country side, especially by the young of both sexes, but there
is very little hiring now done at them.

One of the most perplexing facts to the student of genealogy, in making
out the pedigree of an important family from registers of births,
deaths, and marriages in a parish, is that wherever a great family
was seated, there are found also a shoal of individuals, distinctly
of an inferior social class, bearing the same patronymic. That these
were no blood relatives is almost certain, for they are not mentioned
in the wills of those belonging to the aristocratic family; and we
find no evidence in registers or elsewhere of any family relation. It
has often been conjectured, that these individuals and families did
really derive from the main aristocratic stem, perhaps not legitimately
but left-handedly. But the evidence for this is wanting--it may be
forthcoming here and there in individual cases, but there is no proof
that this was generally so. To this day we find among the labourers
names of historical and great landed families, and we are disposed to
think that these are actual lineal offshoots from such families, and
sometimes fancy we trace a certain dignity of bearing and aristocratic
cast in their features. But I believe that these humble Courtenays,
Cliffords, Veres, Devereux, &c., have not a drop of the blood in
their veins belonging to these great families, that, in fact, they
are descendants of menial servants, who were once in the castle or
manor-house of these barons and knights and squires, and that they ate
their beef and drank their ale, but drew no blood from their veins. In
the fifteenth century surnames were by no means general, and even in
the sixteenth were not of general adoption. To this day in the western
hills of Yorkshire, separating that county from Lancashire, persons are
known by their pedigrees, and very often their surnames are generally
unknown. Tom is not Tom Greenwood, but Tom o' Jakes, that is, Tom the
son of Jack; and if there be two Toms in a parish both sons of Jack,
then one is distinguished from the other by carrying the pedigree
further back a stage. One is Tom o' Jakes o' Will's, and the other is
Tom o' Jakes o' Harry's. In early parish registers such an entry as
this may occur--

    "1596, 3 July. Buried, William, servant to Arthur Carew, Esq.,
    commonly called William Carew."

Later than that--in 1660-1--Pepys enters on Feb. 14, "My boy Wareman
(his servant lad) hath all this day been called young Pepys, as Sir W.
Pen's boy (servant) is young Pen."

At the end of last century and the beginning of this it was a common
custom for servant men to assume the titles of their masters, and
to address each other under their master's names. This was not an
affectation, it was a survival of the old custom of every servant
taking his master's surname, as he wore his livery.

In _High Life Below Stairs_ we have this scene--

    "The Park.

    _Duke's servant._ What wretches are ordinary servants, that go
    on in the same vulgar track every day! eating, working, and
    sleeping!--But we, who have the honour to serve the nobility,
    are of another species. We are above the common forms, have
    servants to wait upon us, and are as lazy and luxurious as our
    masters. Ha!--my dear Sir Harry--

    (_Enter_ Sir Harry's Servant.)

    How have you done these thousand years?

    _Sir H.'s serv._ My Lord Duke!--your grace's most obedient
    servant!

    _Duke's serv._ Well, Baronet, and where have you been?

    _Sir H.'s serv._ At Newmarket, my Lord.--We have had dev'lish
    fine sport.

    _After a while they retire, then enter_ Lady Bab's Maid _and_
    Lady Charlotte's Maid.

    _Lady B.'s maid._ O fie, Lady Charlotte! you are quite
    indelicate. I am sorry for your taste.

    _Lady C.'s maid._ Well, I say it again, I love Vauxhall."

The _Spectator_ (June 11th, 1711) says, "Falling in the other Day at a
Victualling-House near the House of Peers, I heard the Maid come down
and tell the Landlady at the Bar, That my Lord Bishop swore he would
throw her out at Window, if she did not bring up more Mild Beer, and
that my Lord Duke would have a double Mug of Purle. My Surprize was
encreased, in hearing loud and rustick Voices speak and answer to each
other upon the publick Affairs, by the Names of the most Illustrious
of our Nobility; till of a sudden one came running in, and cry'd the
House was rising. Down came all the Company together, and away! The
Alehouse was immediately filled with Clamour, and scoring one Mug to
the Marquis of such a Place, Oyl and Vinegar to such an Earl, three
Quarts to my new Lord for wetting his Title, and so forth.... It is a
common Humour among the Retinue of People of Quality, when they are in
their Revels, ... to assume in a humorous Way the Names and Titles of
those whose Liveries they wear."

What was done in a "humorous Way" in the days of Addison, was a relic
of what was actually done in sober seriousness a couple of centuries
earlier, when surnames were possessed by the few only, and these men of
consequence.

Does the reader remember the charming account of the servants in the
household of Sir Roger de Coverly? "There is one Particular which I
have seldom seen but at Sir Roger's; it is usual in all other Places,
that Servants fly from the Parts of the House through which their
Master is passing; on the contrary, here they industriously place
themselves in his way; and it is on both Sides, as it were, understood
as a Visit, when the Servants appear without calling.... Thus Respect
and Love go together; and a certain Chearfulness in Performance of
their Duty is the particular Distinction of the lower Part of his
Family. When a Servant is called before his Master, he does not come
with an Expectation to hear himself rated for some trivial Fault,
threatned to be stripped, or used with any other unbecoming Language,
which mean Masters often give to worthy Servants; but it is often to
know, what Road he took that he came so readily back according to
Order; whether he passed by such a Ground; if the old Man who rents it
is in good health: or whether he gave Sir Roger's Love to him, or the
like.

"A Man who preserves a Respect, founded on his Benevolence to his
Dependants, lives rather like a Prince than a Master in his Family;
his Orders are received as Favours, rather than Duties; and the
Distinction of approaching him is Part of the Reward for executing what
is commanded by him."

It is singular to see how small the wages paid were formerly for
domestics, and what a leap up they have made of late, synchronous with
deterioration of quality and character. For a farmer's daughter £7 was
a high wage, and now £17 is sniffed at by a ploughman's wench. Pepys
took a cook from the house of his Grace the Duke of Albemarle, and paid
her £4 per annum, and complains at the wage. He says he never before
did spend so big a sum on a wage. She must have been an energetic and
active woman, for here is the _menu_ of a dinner she cooked. "We had a
fricasee of rabbits and chickens, a leg of mutton boiled, three carps
in a dish, a great dish of a side of lamb, a dish of roasted pigeons, a
dish of four lobsters, three tarts, a lamprey pie, a most rare pie, a
dish of anchovies, good wine of several sorts--most neatly dressed by
our own only mayde." How did she manage it without a kitchen range with
hot plates?

The account-book of Mrs. Joyce Jefferies, a lady resident in
Herefordshire and Worcestershire during the Civil War, comprises the
receipt and expenditure of nine years. She lived a single person in her
house in Hereford, and by no means on a contracted scale. Many female
servants are mentioned, two having wages from £3 to £3 4_s._ per annum,
with gowns of dark stuff at midsummer. Her coachman, receiving 40_s._
per annum, had at Whitsuntide, 1639, a new cloth suit and cloak; and
when he was dressed in his best, wore fine blue silk ribbon at the
knees of his hose. The liveries of this and another man-servant were,
in 1641, of green Spanish cloth, and cost upwards of nine pounds.
Her steward received a salary of £5 16_s._, and she kept for him a
horse, which he rode to collect her rents and dues, and to see to the
management of her estate.

I have myself a book of accounts, a little later, where the "mayde of
my wyfe" gets £3, and the footman £4 and his livery.

In some houses a whole series of account-books has been preserved,
showing, among other things, the rise in wages paid for servants, and
very instructive they are.

Here is from an account-book of 1777, in a country squire's house.
Wages were paid on Lady Day for the whole year, and not quarterly.

        1777.                   £ _s._ _d._

        Sarah's wages           4  19   0
        Old Becky's             3   0   0
        Anne, half-year         1   0   0
        Nanny                   5   5   0
        Cook                    7   7   0
        Gardener                2   7   0
        Bray the waggoner       9   0   0
        A certain Betty had for
        wages and bill          6   0   0

In an account-book for 1811 the wages are a little higher--

                          £ _s._ _d._

        Footman          10   0   0
        Coachman         14   0   0
        Cook              8   8   0
        Housemaid         6   6   0
        Scullery-maid     2   5   0
        The Boy           3   0   0

There died only a year ago an old woman who had been a servant since
she was eighteen in two of the greatest houses in the neighbourhood.
When she first went into service, she told me, it was at K--. She
received £4 as her wage, and managed to save money on that. She was,
however, given a washing-dress by her mistress at Lady Day. After some
years she went to L-- Park, where she received £6. This was after a
while raised to £7, and she invariably put away some of her wage. When
after tried service her wage was raised to £10, the climax of her
ambition was reached, she regarded herself as passing rich, and never
hoped to obtain more.

"For certain, sir," she said, "my work wasn't worth more."

In my own parish churchyard, one of the best of the monuments is
that raised by my grandfather to the memory of an old servant of his
grandmother's.

                          MR. THOMAS HILSDEN,

                        WHO DIED FEB. 21, 1806,
                               AGED 70,
                     HAVING LIVED IN THE FAMILY OF
              Mrs. Margaret Gould, of Lew House,
                               44 YEARS.

                        THIS STONE WAS ERECTED
               IN CONSIDERATION OF HIS FAITHFUL SERVICE.

There is an ancient family I know of historic dignity. It has lost its
ancestral estates, lost almost all of its family portraits; but one
great picture remains to it, so poorly painted, that at the sale of the
Manor-house and its contents no one would buy it,--it is the portrait
of an old servant, a giant, a tall and powerful ranger, who, partly for
his size, chiefly for his fidelity, was painted and hung up in the hall
along with the knights and squires and ladies of the family which he
had served so well.

The mention of this picture leads me to say a few words about a worthy
man who died some twenty years ago. Rawle was hind to the late Sir
Thomas Acland of Killerton. Sir Thomas introduced Arab blood among the
Exmoor ponies, and greatly improved the breed. About 1810 he appointed
Rawle in charge of these ponies. He was a fine man, fully six feet
high, and big in proportion. His power of breaking in the ponies was
extraordinary. He was quite indifferent to falls, often pony and man
rolling over and over each other. The sale of the ponies generally took
place at Bampton and at Taunton fairs. The system was this--a herd of
the wild little creatures was driven into the fair. Buyers attended
from all parts of the country, and when a dealer took a fancy to a
pony, he pointed him out to the moor-man in attendance, who went into
the herd, seized upon the selected one, and brought him out by sheer
strength. This is no easy matter, for the Exmoor pony fights with his
fore-feet in desperate fashion. It usually took, and takes, two men to
do this, but Rawle did not require assistance, such was his strength.
Indeed so strong was Rawle, that he would put a hand under the feet of
a maid-servant on each side of him, and raise himself and at the same
time both of them, till he was upright, and he held each woman on the
palm of his hand, one on each side of him, level with his waist. Sir
Thomas Acland was wont, when he had friends with him, to get the man to
make this exhibition of his strength before them.

Sir Thomas had a hunting box at Higher Combe (called in the district
Yarcombe); he occupied one portion of the house when there, a
farmer occupied the rest. It was a curious scene--a remnant of
feudal times--when Sir Thomas came there. His tenants, summoned for
the purpose, had accompanied him in a cavalcade from Winsford, or
Hornicott. John Rawle could never be persuaded to eat a bite or take a
draught when his master was in a house; he planted himself as a sentry
upright before the door when Sir Thomas went in to refresh himself
anywhere, and nothing could withdraw him from his post.

In connexion with these expeditions to Higher Combe, it may be added
that the cavalcade of tenants would attend Sir Thomas to the wood where
a stag had been harboured. Among them was a band, each member of the
band played _one_ note only; but it was so arranged that a hunting tune
was formed by these notes being played in succession. When the stag was
unharboured, and started across the moor, the band commenced this tune,
and until it was played out the hounds were kept in leash. The time
occupied by this tune was the "law" given to the stag, and when it was
ended the hounds were laid on.

A famous china bowl was made in China, and presented to Sir Thomas by
the Hunt. This bowl used to be kept at Higher Combe; it represented a
stag-hunt. And twelve glasses were presented to Sir Thomas along with
it, each engraved with a stag, and the words, "Success to the hunting."

One day Sir Thomas said to Rawle, "Rawle, I want to send a gelding and
a mare in foal to Duke Ludwig of Baden, at Baden Baden. Can you take
them?"

"Certainly, Sir Thomas."

The man could neither read nor write, and of course knew no other
language than the broadest Exmoor dialect--and this was at the
beginning of the century, when there were not the facilities for
travelling that there are now. He started for Baden Baden, and took his
charges there in safety, and delivered them over to the Grand Duke. He
had, however, an added difficulty, in that the mare foaled _en route_,
and he had a pass for two ponies only.

Is the old "good and faithful servant" a thing of the past? Not perhaps
the good servant, but the servant who continues in a family through the
greatest portion of his or her life, who becomes a part of the family,
is probably gone for ever; the change in the signification of words
tells us of social changes. A man's family, even in Addison's time,
comprised his servants. "Of what does your family consist?" A hundred
and fifty years ago this would have been answered by an enumeration of
those comprising the household, from the children to the scullion. Now
who would even think of a servant when such a question is asked? The
family is shrunk to the blood-relatives, and the servants are outside
the family circle.

We are in a condition of transformation in our relations to our
servants; we no longer dream of making them our friends, and
consequently they no longer regard us with devotion. But I am not sure
that the fault lies with the master. The spirit of unrest is in the
land; the uneducated and the partially educated crave for excitement,
and find it in change; they can no longer content themselves with
remaining in one situation, and when the servants shift quarters every
year or two, how can master and mistress feel affection for them, or
take interest in them?

Does the reader know Swift's _Rules and Directions for Servants_? They
occupy one hundred and eighteen pages of volume twelve of his works,
in the edition of 1768, and comprise instructions to butler, cook,
footman, coachman, groom, steward, chambermaid, housemaid, nurse, etc.
They show us that human nature among servants was much the same in the
middle of last century as in this. Only a scanty extract must be given.

"When your master or lady calls a servant by name, if that servant be
not in the way, none of you are to answer, for then there will be no
end of your drudgery.

"When you have done a fault be always pert and insolent, and behave
yourself as if you were the injured person.

"The cook, the butler, the groom, and every other servant should act
as if his master's whole estate ought to be applied to that particular
servant's business.

"Take all tradesmen's parts against your master. You are to consider if
your master hath paid too much, he can better afford the loss than a
poor tradesman.

"Never submit to stir a finger in any business but that for which you
were particularly hired. For example, if the groom be drunk or absent,
and the butler be ordered to shut the stable-door, the answer is ready,
'An' please, your honour, I don't understand horses.'

"If you find yourself to grow into favour with your master or lady,
take some opportunity to give them warning, and when they ask the
reason, and seem loath to part with you, answer that a poor servant is
not to be blamed if he strives to better himself. Upon which, if your
master hath any generosity, he will add five or ten shillings a quarter
rather than let you go.

"Write your own name and your sweetheart's with the smoke of a candle
on the roof of the kitchen, to show your learning. If you are a young
sightly fellow, whenever you whisper your mistress at the table, run
your nose full into her cheek, or breathe full in her face.

"Never come till you have been called three or four times, for none but
dogs will come at the first whistle.

"When you have broken all your earthen vessels below stairs--which is
usually done in a week--the copper-pot will do as well; it can boil
milk, heat porridge, hold small beer--apply it indifferently to all
these uses, but never wash or scour it.

"Although you are allowed knives for the servants' hall at meals, yet
you ought to spare them, and make use of your master's.

"Let it be a constant rule, that no chair or table in the servants'
hall have above three legs.

"Quarrel with each other as much as you please, only always bear in
mind that you have a common enemy, which is your master and lady.

"When your master and lady go abroad together to dine, you need leave
only one servant in the house to answer the door and attend the
children. Who is to stay at home is to be determined by short and
long cuts, and the stayer at home may be comforted by a visit from a
sweetheart.

"When your master or lady comes home, and wants a servant who happens
to be abroad, your answer must be, that he had but just that minute
stepped out, being sent for by a cousin who was dying. When you are
chidden for a fault, as you go out of the room mutter loud enough to be
plainly heard.

"When your lady sends for you to her chamber to give you orders, be
sure to stand at the door and keep it open, fiddling with the lock all
the while she is talking to you.

"When you want proper instruments for any work you are about, use all
expedients you can invent. For instance, if the poker be out of the
way, stir the fire with the tongs; if the tongs be not at hand, use the
muzzle of the bellows, the wrong end of the shovel, or the handle of
the fire-brush. If you want paper to singe a fowl, tear the first book
you see about the house. Wipe your shoes, for want of a clout, on the
bottom of a curtain or a damask napkin.

"There are several ways of putting out a candle, and you ought to
be instructed in them all: you may run the candle-end against the
wainscot, which puts the snuff out immediately; you may lay it on the
ground and tread the snuff out with your foot; you may hold it upside
down until it is choked in its own grease, or cram it into the socket
of the candlestick; you may whirl it round in your hand till it goes
out.

"Clean your plate, wipe your knives, and rub the dirty tables with the
napkins and tablecloths used that day, for it is but one washing.

"When a butler cleans the plate, leave the whiting plainly to be seen
in all the chinks, for fear your lady should not believe you had
cleaned it.

"You need not wipe your knife to cut bread for the table, because in
cutting a slice or two it will wipe itself.

"A butler must always put his finger into every bottle to feel whether
it be full.

"Whet the backs of your knives until they are as sharp as the edge,
that when gentlemen find them blunt on one side they may try the other.

"Cooks should scrape the bottom of pots and kettles with a silver
spoon, for fear of giving them a taste of copper.

"Get three or four charwomen to attend you constantly in the kitchen,
whom you pay with the broken meat, a few coals, and all the cinders.

"Never make use of a spoon in anything that you can do with your hands,
for fear of wearing out your master's plate.

"In roasting and boiling use none but the large coals, and save the
small ones for the fires above stairs." And so on.

If the old servants had their merits, they had also their demerits.
Have they not bequeathed the latter to their successors, and carried
away their merits with them into a better world?

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII.

THE HUNT.


[Illustration]

The genuine Englishman loves a hunt, loves sport, above everything
else; I do not mean only those who can afford to ride and shoot, but
every Englishman born and bred in the country.

One day the masons were engaged on my house, on the top of a scaffold,
the carpenters were occupied within laying a floor, some painters
were employed on doors and windows, the gardener was putting into a
bed some roses; in the back-yard a youth was chopping up wood; in the
stable-yard the coachman was washing the body of the carriage, and
in the stable itself the groom was currycombing a horse. Suddenly
from the hillside opposite, mantled with oak, came the sound of the
hounds in cry, and then the call of the horn. Down from the scaffold
came the masons, head over heels, at the risk of their necks; out
through the windows shot the carpenters and painters, throwing aside
hammers, nails, paint-pot and brushes; down went the roses in the
garden; from behind the house leaped the wood-chopper; the coach was
left half-washed, and the horse half-currycombed; and over the lawn
and through the grounds, regardless of everything, went a wild excited
throng of masons, carpenters, woodcutter, coachman, stable-boy,
gardener, my own sons, then my own self, having dropped pen, and,
forgotten on the terrace was left only the baby--a male, erect in its
perambulator, with arms extended, screaming to follow the rout and go
after the hounds. Let agitators come and storm and denounce in the
midst of our people; they cannot rouse them to fury against the gentry,
because they and the gentry run after the hounds together, enjoy a
hunt together, and are the best of friends in the field. No, the great
socialistic revolution will not take place till the hunt is abolished.
That is the great solvent of all prejudices, that the great festival
that binds all in one common bond of sympathy.

[Illustration: The Hunt Passing.]

This season there has appeared at our meets an old man of seventy-five,
who was for many years a butler to a rector, a quiet, studious man,
who died a few years ago. After the death of his master the butler
retired on his savings, and built himself a house. Then--this winter he
appeared on a cob at the meet of the foxhounds. "Sir," said he to the
Master, "now the ambition of my life is satisfied. Since I was a boy I
have wished, and all my days have worked, that I might have a cob on
which I could hunt."

Alas! the old fellow found himself so stiff after the first hunt, that
at the next meet of the harriers he appeared on foot. He had walked
four miles to it; and _he ran with the hounds_, and was in at the
death. After the hunt he walked home hot and happy, and elastic in step.

The farmers naturally like a hunt, as it affords them, apart from the
sport, an occasion of showing off and selling their horses. The workmen
like a hunt, especially after the hare, for it forms a break in their
work. They have their half day's sport, and their masters pay wage just
the same as if they had been at work.

The hare hunt naturally lends itself to footers, as the hare runs in a
circle, and not straight with the wind in his tail like reynard. Here
and there is to be found a cantankerous farmer who objects to having
his hedges broken down and his land trampled by the hunters, but he is
looked on with distrust and dislike by all in every class, and spoken
of as a curmudgeon. Of course, also, there are to be found men who trap
and kill foxes, but I verily believe those men's consciences sting them
far more on this account than if they had committed a fraud or become
drunk. And--by the way, that reminds me of a story.

There came a Hungarian nobleman, whom we will call the Baron Hounymhum,
to England. His Christian name was Arpad. He came to England, having
a title, but having nothing else; he came, in fact, to seek there his
fortune. Belonging to a good family, he was well supplied with letters
of introduction, and he was received into society. On more than one
occasion he donned his uniform, and had reason to believe that the
uniform as well as his handsome face was much admired by the ladies,
and envied by the men. Among the acquaintances he made was the Hon.
Cecil Blank, through whom he was introduced to one of the first clubs
in Piccadilly. He also got acquainted with Lord Ashwater. This nobleman
was fond of collecting around him notabilities of all kinds, literary,
scientific, and political. He himself was in his politics an advanced
Liberal.

The Baron Arpad found, to his astonishment, soon after his arrival in
town, that a rumour had got about that he had been implicated in an
attempt to assassinate his most gracious sovereign Franz Joseph, King
of Hungary and Bohemia, and Emperor of Austria. The idea was absolutely
baseless. The fact that he was received at the embassy ought to have
shut men's mouths, but no--he was credited with having contrived an
infernal machine for the destruction of his beloved sovereign.

He found, to his amazement, that this rumour did him good. He became an
_interesting_ foreigner; hitherto he had been _only_ a foreigner. Quite
an eager feeling manifested itself among persons of rank and position
for having him at their parties; not only so, but he was solicited by
magazine editors to write for them articles on the Anarchist party in
Hungary and Austria.

Scarce had this odious rumour died away, before he became the victim of
another, equally false and equally detestable. A distant cousin, the
Baron Adorian Hounymhum, ran away with the Princess Nornenstein, the
mother of three sweet little children. The elopement caused a great
sensation at Vienna, as the princess was much esteemed by her Majesty
the Empress. Prince Nornenstein pursued the fugitives, overtook them in
Belgium, fought a duel with the baron, and was shot through the heart.

Well, the report got about that it was Baron Arpad who had run away
with the princess, ruined her home, deprived her sweet children of
father and mother, and shot the aggrieved husband. It was in vain
for him to protest, he was credited with these infamies--and rose in
popular estimation. The Duchess of Belgravia at once invited him to her
dances. The ladies now courted his society, as before the gentlemen had
courted it, when they held him to be a would-be regicide. These two
rumours, crediting him with crimes of which he was incapable, did a
great deal towards pushing him in society.

Among the many acquaintances the Baron made in town was Mr.
Wildbrough, a country squire, M.F.H., a man of wealth, and an M.P. for
his county. He had but one daughter, who would be his heiress, and who
did not seem insensible to the good looks of the Baron. Now, thought
the Hungarian, his opportunity had arrived. The position of landed
proprietor in England was in prospect. Moreover, Mr. Wildbrough had
invited the Baron to come to Wildbrough Hall in October to see the
first meet of the foxhounds.

At the time appointed the Baron arrived, and was cordially received
by the squire; Mrs. Wildbrough was gracious, but not gushing; Mary
Wildbrough was manifestly pleased to see him--the tell-tale blood
assured him of that.

A large party was assembled at the hall for the first meet of the
season. The masters of other packs in the county were present. The meet
was picturesque, the run excellent. The Baron was in at the death, and
received the brush, which he at once presented to Mary Wildbrough. He
had ridden beside her, and he felt that his prospects were brightening.
He proposed to make the offer that evening at the dance after dinner,
when, at Mary's particular request, he was to appear in his Magyar
Hussar uniform, in which, as he well knew, he would be irresistible.
The Baron took in Mary to dinner, and had an agreeable chat with her,
which was only interrupted by Sir Harry Treadwin, a sporting baronet,
who said across the table to him, "Baron, I suppose that you have foxes
in Hungary?"

"Oh, yes," answered he, "_I have shot as many as five or six in a day_."

The Baron spoke loud, so as to be heard by all. He was quite unprepared
for the consequences. Sir Harry stared at him as at a ghost, with eyes
and nostrils and mouth distended. A dead silence fell on the whole
company. The host's red face changed colour, and became as collared
brawn. The master of another pack became purple as a plum. Mrs.
Wildbrough fanned herself vigorously. Mary became white as a lily and
trembled, whilst tears welled up in her beautiful eyes. The lady of the
house bowed to the lady whom the squire had taken in, and in silence
all rose, and the ladies without a word left the room.

The gentlemen remained; conversation slowly unthawed. The Baron turned
to the gentleman nearest him, and spoke about matters of general
interest. He answered shortly, almost rudely, and turned to converse
with his neighbour on the other side. Then the Baron addressed Sir
Harry, but he seemed deaf, he stared icily, but made no reply. It was
a relief to an intolerable restraint when the gentlemen joined the
ladies.

The Baron knew that with his handsome face and gorgeous uniform he
could command as many partners in the dance as he desired; but what
was his chagrin to find that his anticipations were disappointed. One
young lady was engaged, another did not dance the mazurka, a third had
forgotten the lancers, a fourth was tired, and a fifth indisposed.
After a while he seized his chance, and caught Mary Wildbrough in the
conservatory,--she was crying.

"Miss Wildbrough," said he, "are you ill? What ails you?"

"Oh, Baron!" Then she burst into an uncontrollable flood of tears. "I
am so--so unhappy! Five or six foxes! Oh, Baron Hounymhum!"

Next day he left. His host would not shake hands with him when he
departed. On reaching town he felt dull, and sauntered to the club, but
no one would speak to him there. Next day he received this letter from
the secretary--

"The secretary of the ---- Club regrets to be obliged to inform the
Baron Hounymhum that he can no longer be considered the guest of the
Club."

After that London society was sealed to him. It was nothing that he had
been thought guilty of an attempt to assassinate his sovereign, nothing
that he was thought to have eloped with a married woman, wrecked her
home and shot her husband, but that he should have shot foxes was The
Unpardonable Sin.

We have a peculiar institution in the county of Devon--a week of
hare-hunting on Dartmoor after hare-hunting has ceased everywhere else.
Dartmoor is a high elevated region totally treeless, with peaks covered
with granite, having brawling streams that foam down the valleys
between. One main road crosses this vast desolate region, as far as Two
Bridges, where is an inn, The Saracen's Head, and there it divides,
and runs for many miles more over moor to Moreton Hampstead on one
side, and to Ashburton on the other. In the fork of this Y stands an
eminently picturesque rugged tor, crested by and strewn with granite,
called Bellever. About Easter--anyhow, after hare-hunting has ceased
elsewhere--the country-side gathers at Bellever for a week, and nothing
can be conceived more changed than the scene at this time from the
usual solitude and stillness. The tor is covered with horses, traps,
carriages, footers; and if the spring sun be shining, nothing can well
be more picturesque.

Whatever may be said or sung to the contrary, hunting on Dartmoor is
dangerous work. There are no hedges there, only walls, and these walls
are set up round what are locally termed "takes," or enclosures, and
are made of the granite stones found lying about in the take; they
are not put together with mortar, but are loosely built up one stone
on another, and the wind blows through the interstices. More nasty
accidents would happen over these walls, were it not that the moor
turf is spongy and boggy, so that when a man is thrown he is lightly
received.

Concerning this Bellever week there exists a song--

    "Bellever week is the bravest week
      Of fifty-two in the year.
    'Tis one to tweak a teetotaller's beak,
      And to make a Methody swear.
    We leave our troubles and toils behind,
      Forget if we've got gray hair--
    A parcel of boys, all frolic and noise,
      Bidding begone dull care.
                  Bellever week is the bravest, &c.

    There's never a run so brimming with fun,
      Nor a pastime that may compare,
    For master or horse, o'er heather and gorse,
      As hunting a Dartmoor hare.
    Though sure of a stogg to the girths in a bog,
      Or a turn up of heels at a wall,
    Yet never a jot of damage was got
      By a flounder there, or a fall.
                  Bellever week, &c.

    There's nowhere a puss deserving a cuss
      For running as on the moor.
    In Bellever week the harriers speak
      As they never spoke before.
    The Saracen's Head is full as an egg,
      And every farm and cot.
    The jolliest set together are met
      In the out and out jolliest spot.
                  Bellever week, &c.

    Nowhere else does a joke such laughter provoke,
      Or a tale so hearty a roar,
    Or a song that is sung with stentorian lung,
      More certain of an _encore_!
    When Bellever week returns again,
      My wife--let her storm and sneer;
    If not tucked into bed with a stone at my head,
      By Ginger!--I _will_ be there.
                  Bellever week, &c."

How full life is of coincidences! We are always encountering and
wondering at them. To some the coincidences that we know to be true
seem incredible. Here is one.

The master of a very notable pack of foxhounds died. He had been master
for something like thirty years; his father was master before him, and
his son is master after him. A man of intense love of the sport. In
the dining-room hang the portraits of three generations, all in pink.
He died and was buried amidst universal sorrow. Of course the pack
did not go out that week. The first meet after the funeral was at a
distance of very many miles. The fox was started, and ran, straight as
an arrow, towards the residence of the late master, ran through the
park, pursued by the hounds, ran across the garden to the churchyard,
ran to the vault, and took refuge against the iron door that closed
it, and concealed the coffin of the dead M.F.H. And there, against his
vault door, the fox was killed, and the yelping, bounding, barking pack
careered within a few feet of his coffin.

This story I believe to be perfectly true. It was a coincidence, and a
singular one.

Till the end of the seventeenth century fox-hunting can scarcely be
said to have existed as a sport in England, the stag, the buck, and
the hare taking the precedence with our forefathers as objects of the
chase, which in a still earlier period had included the wolf and
the boar. And yet I have over my hall fireplace, in the carved oak
chimney-piece, a representation of a fox-hunt that certainly belongs
to the reign of Elizabeth. The hunters are armed with pitchforks, or
something much like them; one is holding back a greyhound by a leash;
another is winding a horn. There are ten dogs in the pack, long-eared
beagles or dachshunds, it is hard to say what. The fox has eaten one
goose all but the head and wings, and has killed a second, and is
taking refuge in a pinery among the pine-apples.

Our deer-parks about the great mansions are the remnants of deer-parks
or chases that were originally found about the manor-houses in most
places. They were not always very extensive, very often were only small
paddocks where the deer were kept; and one was let run occasionally for
a grand chase. These old paddocks with the ruined walls about them,
or without, when they were surrounded by palings, that have long ago
rotted away, still go by the name of the Chase, and so remind us of the
sports of our forefathers.

James I. was an enthusiastic sportsman. Although in his various kennels
he had little short of two hundred couple of hounds, and the cost of
their maintenance was a serious draught upon his privy purse, yet he
never seemed satisfied that he had enough, so long as he heard of any
good hound in the possession of a subject. Among the State Papers is an
amusing letter relative to a piece of ill-luck that befell a favourite
dog. "The king is at Tibbalds, and the queen gone or going to him.
At this last meeting, being at Tibbalds, which was about a fortnight
since, the queen, shooting at a deer with her crossbow, mistook her
mark, and killed Jewell, the king's most special and principal hound,
at which he stormed exceeding awhile, swearing many and great oaths.
None would undertake to break unto him the news, so they were fain to
send Archie the fool on the errand. But after he knew who did it, he
was soon pacified, and with much kindness wished her not to be troubled
with it, for he should love her never the worse, and the next day sent
her a _jewell_ worth £2000, 'as a legacy from his dead dog.' Love and
kindness increase daily between them, and it is thought they were never
on better terms."

Our early hunting songs all concern the stag. One of the very
"ancientest ditties" we have is, _The Hunt is upp_--

    "The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
      And it is well-nigh day;
    And Harry our king is gone hunting,
      To bring his deer to bay."

A very pretty song it is of the reign of bluff Hal, but the earliest
song relating to a fox that I know is that of _To-morrow the Fox will
come to Town_, of the same period, and in that there is no mention of
reynard as an object of sport. His thievish qualities are recorded,
that is all.

    "To-morrow the fox will come to town,
      Keep, keep, keep, keep!
    To-morrow the fox will come to town,
      O keep you all well there.
    I must desire you neighbours all,
    To hallo the fox out of the hall,
    And cry as loud as you can call,
      Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop!
    And cry as loud as you can call,
      O keep you all well there."

In the porch of Lewanick church, in Cornwall, the piece of freestone
that supports the seat on which the gaffers sat before and after
church is sculptured with a hare-hunt. The date is about the fifteenth
century. In the popular mind the hare-hunt, for the reason already
given, that it allows of better sport for the footers, is a favourite
subject of song rather than the fox-hunt, the delights of which are
sung by huntsmen more than by the peasants. It is curious how the
reminiscence of famous runs lingers on among the people. There is
a great song that used to be sung at all hunting dinners in Devon
relative to the achievements of one Arscott of Tetcott, who is supposed
still to hunt the country in spirit with a ghostly pack--

    "When the tempest is howling his horn you may hear,
    And the bay of his hounds in their headlong career;
    For Arscott of Tetcott loves hunting so well,
    That he breaks for the pastime from heaven--or hell."

[Illustration: Fox-hunt, from Hall Chimney-piece, Lew Trenchard.]



CHAPTER XIV.

THE COUNTY TOWN.


[Illustration]

Does the reader know one of the most fascinating books of a most
fascinating of our old writers, _Belford Regis_, by Miss Mary Russell
Mitford? If not, and he or she desires to be carried back on the broad,
sweeping, somewhat sad-coloured wings of fancy to the past, to a time
before railways, then let _Belford Regis_ be procured, and read, and
smiled, and perhaps a little sighed over. As in _Our Village_ the
authoress sketched the country, so in _Belford Regis_ did she sketch
the little county town at the beginning of the present century.

[Illustration: South Gate Launceston]

"About three miles to the north of our village stands the good town
of Belford Regis. The approach to it, straight as a dart, runs along
a wide and populous turnpike road, all alive with carts and coaches,
waggons and phaetons, horse-people and foot-people, sweeping rapidly
or creeping lazily up and down the gentle undulations with which the
surface of the country is varied; and the borders, checkered by patches
of common, rich with hedgerow timber, and sprinkled with cottages, and,
I grieve to say, with that cottage pest, the beer-house,--and here and
there enlivened by dwellings of more pretension and gentility,--become
more thickly inhabited as we draw nearer the metropolis of the county,
to say nothing of the three cottages all in a row, with two small
houses attached, which a board affixed to one of them informs the
passer-by is Two-mile Cross; or of these opposite neighbours, the
wheelwrights and the blacksmiths, about half a mile further; or the
little farm close by the pound; or the series of buildings called the
Long Row, terminating at the end next the road with an old-fashioned
and most picturesque public-house, with painted roofs, and benches at
the door and round the large elm before it--benches which are generally
filled by thirsty wayfarers and waggoners watering their horses, and
partaking of a more generous liquor themselves.

[Illustration: Cottages at Woking:
  Cottages at the entrance to a Town.]

"Leaving these objects undescribed, no sooner do we get within a
mile of the town, than our approach is indicated by successive
market-gardens on either side, crowned, as we ascend the long hill on
which the turnpike-gate stands, by an extensive nursery-ground, gay
with long beds of flowers, with trellised walks covered with creepers,
with whole acres of flowering shrubs, and ranges of green-houses, the
glass glittering in the southern sun. Then the turnpike gate, with its
civil keeper, then another public-house, then the clear bright pond on
the top of the hill, and then the rows of small tenements, with here
and there a more ambitious single cottage standing in its own pretty
garden, which forms the usual gradation from the country to the town.

"About this point, where one road, skirting the great pond and edged by
small houses, diverges from the great southern entrance, and where two
streets, meeting or parting, lead by separate ways down the steep
hill to the centre of the town, stands a handsome mansion, surrounded
by orchards and pleasure-grounds, across which is perhaps to be seen
the very best view of Belford, with its long ranges of modern buildings
in the outskirts, mingled with picturesque old streets, the venerable
towers of St. Stephen's and St. Nicholas', the light and tapering spire
of St. John's, the huge monastic ruins of the abbey, the massive walls
of the county gaol, the great river winding along like a thread of
silver, trees and gardens mingling amongst all, and the whole landscape
environed and lightened by the drooping elms of the foreground, adding
an illusive beauty to the picture by breaking the too formal outline,
and veiling just exactly those parts which most require concealment.

"Nobody can look at Belford from this point without feeling that it
is a very English and very charming scene, and the impression does
not diminish on farther acquaintance. We see at once the history of
the place, that it is an antique borough town, which has recently
been extended to nearly double its former size; so that it unites in
no common degree the old romantic, irregular structures in which our
ancestors delighted, with the handsome and uniform buildings which
are the fashion now-a-days. I suppose that people are right in their
taste, and that the modern houses are pleasantest to live in, but,
beyond all question, those antique streets are the prettiest to look
at. The occasional blending too is good. Witness the striking piece of
street scenery which was once accidentally forced upon my attention as
I took shelter from a shower of rain in a shop about ten doors up the
right-hand side of Friar Street--the old vicarage-house of St. Nicholas
embowered in greens, the lofty town-hall, and the handsome modern house
of my friend Mr. Beauchamp, the fine church tower of St. Nicholas, the
picturesque piazza underneath, the jutting corner of Friar Street, the
old irregular shops in the market-place, and the trees of the Forbury
just peeping between, with all their varieties of light and shadow.
I went to the door to see if the shower was over, was caught by its
beauty, and stood looking at it in the sunshine long after the rain had
ceased."

I make no apology for this long extract. Miss Mitford is not much read
now, and those who read her are always glad to re-read a passage from
her fresh and graphic pen.

[Illustration: London Inn Launceston:
  Street in Launceston.]

That there may be more picturesqueness in an old German, Italian,
and French town may be admitted, but it is of a more salient,
obtrusive character than that which exists in our old county towns.
The continental architects aimed at bold effects. I do not say that
they were wrong. They achieved great success. Our architects built
what was wanted, in a quiet, undemonstrative manner, and left effect
to chance, and chance gave what they did not seek. The charms of an
old English county town do not force themselves on our notice, are
missed altogether by the hasty visitor; they have to be found out, they
come by surprises, they depend on certain lights and plays of shadow,
on the bursting into leaf of certain trees, on the setting up of
certain hucksters' stalls. That a great deal of their picturesqueness
is passing away is, alas! only too true. The tradesmen want huge
window spaces for the display of their goods, so away is knocked the
quaint old frontage of the house, and is replaced by something that
can be sustained on iron supports between wide sheets of plate-glass.
The suburbs are being made hideous with rows of model cottages, all
precisely alike, roofed with blue slate. Nevertheless a great deal
remains, and it is fortunately now something like a fashion to give
us Queen Anne (so-called) gables in the streets, which at all events
afford a pretty broken sky-line, and a play of light and shade on the
frontage.

Then how different are the outskirts of a foreign town to an English
country town. In Italy there are miles of lanes between high stone
walls, over which indeed lemons show their glorious fruit and blaze in
the sun; nevertheless, the sorry fact remains, that for as far as one
cares to walk there is no prospect save by favour through a gate.

At Florence, for instance, it is wall, wall, on the right hand and on
the left, all the way to Fiesole; and to the south, beyond S. Miniato,
up and down the hills, wall, wall, on the right hand and on the left.
At Genoa the city is engirded with hills, indeed the town lies in a
crater, broken down to the west to the sea. Climb near two thousand
feet to the encircling fortresses, and you go between wall, wall, all
the way. Escape along the sea to Sampierdarema on one side, on the
other to St. Fruttuoso, and it is a way between wall and house, house
and wall. And a French town, or a German town, or a Belgian town,
starts up suddenly out of bare fields, without trees, without hedges,
with a suburb of tall, hideous, stuccoed, badly-built houses, all
precisely alike and equally ugly. There are no cottages. Come back
to England, and at once you discover that the cottage is that which
gives charm to the approach of a town, it is the moss, the lichen that
adheres to the wall, a softening, beautiful feature in itself. Then
there are our hedges and hedgerow trees, and how different from the
stiff avenues of poplar, and the boulevards of set planes, exactly ten
paces apart.

Every foreign city was fortified, and outside the fortifications
the glacis had to be kept clear of trees and buildings, so as not
to give cover to the enemy. This fact has influenced the approach
to all continental towns, they are not led up to as in England; and
the poor are lodged differently--they occupy big houses, which they
delight in making untidy, and exposing the dishevelled condition of
their dwellings to every passer-by. The very lanes between walls are
untidy--every possible scrap of refuse collects in them, the stray
feathers of fowls that have been plucked throughout the year eddy
there, old rags--discarded only when dropping off--rot there, scraps
of tin canister are kicked about there, old boots get sodden there.
But there is always an effort after tidiness about English cottages;
and somehow the approaches to our towns are not offensive to eye and
nose, but quite the reverse; the pretty cottages, their well-cared-for
gardens, the villas with bosquets of seringa and lilac, combine in
making the approach full of studies for the painter--reposeful pictures
of general comfort and happiness.

[Illustration: Dockacre: Launceston:
  Old Town House, Launceston.]

In a foreign town the palace jostles with the gaunt house in which the
poor herd. In England there are no palaces in our country towns, but
there are excellent middle-class mansions, the Queen Anne red brick
tall house, with stone quoins, where lives the substantial solicitor,
who makes the wills and draws up the leases for all the squires of the
neighbourhood, who is clerk of the Petty Sessions, and is consulted by
every one more as a confidential friend than as a professional man.
There is the prim house, with exactly as many windows on one side of
the door as on the other, and a round-headed window over it, where
three old ladies keep a school for girls. There is the many-gabled
house inhabited by the late rector's widow. There is the quaint slated
house with its bow-windows, within rich with beautiful plaster work
and carved wood, supposed to be by Grinling Gibbons. It has a garden
in terraces descending to the river, with vases on the balustrade of
the terraces full of scarlet geraniums. Then there comes the modern
county bank of cut stone, and of inconceivable incongruity and
ugliness; then an old inn frequented by the Tory squires in past days.
There is the old grammar school with its pedimented door and ivy
creeping over the red-brick walls, fought with every year, and forced
back from overrunning the windows, as it has overrun the walls. There
is the doctor's house, with a portico supported by slim Corinthian
pillars, and with a lead above, on which the doctor's wife sets out
her flowers, that make a blaze of colour up and down the street. There
is the stuccoed wine merchant's house--always painted drab every third
year--that has red blinds, through which the lamps at night diffuse a
ruby glow into the street. There is that long wall with an elaborately
wrought iron gate, with link extinguishers to the side posts, and a
small but overgrown garden of shrubs, behind which lurks a thatched
cottage where lives a widow--Lady This or That, the mother of the
present baronet who resides three miles off at the park. There is the
rectory, with its back to the street, and windows so low that the
passers-by can see in--or could till they were furnished with twisted
cane screens. But then the other side of the parsonage looks into the
most charming of gardens, on what was the city wall, whence a glorious
view is obtained. But the space would fail me were I to describe,
or merely indicate, the various houses of people, some professional,
some retired gentry, some retired tradespeople, in a country town, all
speaking of comfort, ease, and peace.

Thus wrote Horace Walpole in 1741, on his return to England from
Italy--"The country-town (and you will believe me, who you know am not
prejudiced) delights me; the populousness, the ease, the gaiety, the
well-dressed everybody amaze me. Canterbury--which on my setting out I
thought deplorable--is a paradise to Modena, Reggio, Parma, etc. I had
before discovered that there was nowhere but in England the distinction
of _middling people_; I perceive now that there is peculiar to us
_middling houses_;--how snug they are!"

[Illustration: House at Launceston:
  Queen Anne Town House.]

How sleepy the dear old country town is on all days of the week save
market-day. The shopkeepers do not think it necessary to remain
behind their counters, but run across the street or the square to
have a chat with each other, and should a purchaser appear, it
interrupts a gossip where two or three tradesmen are together; or if
the purchaser goes into a deserted shop, he has to wait whilst the
owner is fetched from some neighbour's, whither he has gone to discuss
the new scheme for water supply, or the bad quality of the gas.
Every squire's carriage, every parson's trap of the neighbourhood is
known to every one in the town; and should one come in on a day that
is not market-day, the reason of its appearance is a subject of much
conjecture and discussion.

But how the town wakes up on market-day; how all the tradesmen
recover from somnolence, and are nimble on their feet, and full of
promises to get this bit of ironmongery attended to at once, such
lamp-chimneys fitted, to write to London to order such a lace or such
a silk matched--out of stock only yesterday, and to get this watch
cleaned, or to reset a stone in that ring, or to alter the stuffing of
such a lady's saddle that galls, or to provide so many pounds of cake
for a school-treat; and the milliner is hard at work all day fitting
gowns, or trying on hats; and the hairdresser's fingers are never
resting from snip, snip, snip, and the boy from working the treadmill
that sets the rotary-brush in motion; and the ostler is engaged in
taking his shillings; and the fishmonger in serving up his baskets of
soles and mackerel; and the nursery-gardener in making up bouquets;
and the oil-man in filling cans with benzoline, which have to go
back under the coachman's feet, as has also a crate with plates from
the crockery-shop--that tiresome kitchen-maid does bang the plates
about so that she has not left one unsnipped; and the photographer is
occupied the whole day setting heads into an apparatus for holding them
steady, and pulling down or drawing up blinds; and the dentist is also
engaged in relieving persons with swollen cheeks; and in the workhouse
congregate the Board of Guardians, and talk over the merits of such and
such a case, and the allowance to be made per week.

There are notices about on all the walls that amateur theatricals will
be given in the new Town Hall in behalf of the local Hunt; and the
neighbours are bringing in their fox's brushes and masks wherewith
to decorate the proscenium and the walls of the hall. The poor old
Assembly Room, something like a Grecian temple, but copied--and
badly copied--in stucco, is now given up to a dealer in antiquities,
second-hand furniture, and old china. That Assembly Room in which our
grandmothers danced is now piled up with beds, large oil-paintings,
chiffoniers, fire-irons and fenders, staircase clocks, and an
endless amount of rubbish for which no one, one would suppose, could
be found to be purchaser. The assembly balls, the hunt balls, the
bachelors' balls, the concerts, and, as we have seen, the dramatical
entertainments, now take place in the new Town Hall.

The old county town is thriving. It is a place to which all the
neighbourhood gravitates. There is now a setting of the tide into
towns, and ebb in the country places. Servants will not go to the
country. Meat, dairy produce, fowls, are as dear in the country as in
the towns. In the towns it is not necessary to keep a pony carriage;
in the towns there is escape from those village parasites who fall on
and eat up those who settle in the country; and in the towns there is
more going on. In the towns educational advantages are to be had which
are lacking in the country. So, not only do old ladies go to towns, but
also families fairly well off; and the country is becoming deserted.
Small, pretty houses do not let well there; great houses not at all. So
the country towns are eating up the country.

"Clean, airy, and affluent; well paved, well lighted, well watched;
abounding in wide and spacious streets, filled with excellent shops
and handsome houses;--such is the outward appearance, the bodily form,
of our market town," says Miss Mitford concerning Belford; and the
description applies to every other county town in England. As for the
vital-spark, the life-blood that glows and circulates through the dead
mass of mortar and masonry, that I have neither space to describe, nor
would one description apply to every other.

[Illustration]



_December, 1889._

MESSRS. METHUEN'S LIST.


By the Author of "MEHALAH," "JOHN HERRING," &c.

_Now ready at all Libraries._

    ARMINELL: A Social Romance.

    3 vols. Crown 8vo, 31_s._ 6_d._


_By the SAME AUTHOR._

    OLD COUNTRY LIFE. By S. BARING GOULD, M.A. With numerous
    Illustrations and Initial Letters by W. Parkinson, F. D.
    Bedford, and F. Masey. Large crown 8vo, 10_s._ 6_d._ A Limited
    Edition on Large Paper has also been printed, 21_s._ net.

[_Just out._

    CONTENTS:--Chaps. 1. Old County Families.--2. The Last
    Squire.--3. Country Houses.--4. The Old Garden.--5. The Country
    Parson.--6. The Hunting Parson.--7. Country Dances.--8. Old
    Roads.--9. Family Portraits.--10. The Village Musician.--11.
    The Village Bard.--12. Old Servants.--13. The Hunt.--14. The
    County Town.


_By the SAME AUTHOR._

    HISTORIC ODDITIES AND STRANGE EVENTS. By S. BARING GOULD, M.A.
    Demy 8vo, 10_s._ 6_d._

[_Now ready._

    "A collection of exciting and entertaining chapters. The whole
    volume is delightful reading."--_Times._

    "The stories are well retailed, with admirable conciseness and
    point."--_Athenæum._

    "The work, besides being agreeable to read, is valuable for
    purposes of reference. The entire contents are stimulating and
    delightful."--_Notes and Queries._


_By the SAME AUTHOR._

    SONGS OF THE WEST: Traditional Ballads and Songs of the West
    of England, with their Traditional Melodies. Collected by S.
    BARING GOULD, M.A., and H. FLEETWOOD SHEPPARD, M.A. Arranged
    for Voice and Piano. In 4 Parts (containing 25 Songs each),
    3_s._ each net.

[_Parts I. and II. now ready._

    "A rich and varied collection of humour, pathos, grace, and
    poetic fancy."--_Saturday Review._


_By the SAME AUTHOR._

    YORKSHIRE ODDITIES. New and cheaper Edition. 1 vol. Crown 8vo.

[_In the Press._

    JAEL, and other STORIES. 1 vol. Crown 8vo.

[_In the Press._


By MAJOR N. PAUL.

    ALDERDENE. By MAJOR NORRIS PAUL. Crown 8vo, 3_s._ 6_d._

[_Ready._

    "A very remarkable story, which is sure to attract
    attention."--_Newcastle Chronicle._

    "Interesting, not to say fascinating."--_Birmingham Gazette._


By T. RALEIGH, M.A.

    IRISH POLITICS: An Elementary Sketch. By T. RALEIGH, M.A.,
    Fellow of All Souls', Oxford, Author of "Elementary Politics."
    Fcap. 8vo, paper boards, 1_s._; cloth, 1_s._ 6_d._

[_Ready._

    "A very clever work."--MR. GLADSTONE.

    "Salient facts and clear expositions in a few sentences packed
    with meaning. Every one who wishes to have the vital points
    of Irish politics at his finger's end should get this book by
    heart."--_Scotsman._


BY THE AUTHOR OF "DONOVAN," "WE TWO," &C.

    DERRICK VAUGHAN, NOVELIST. By EDNA LYALL. Post 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._
    Twenty-fifth Thousand.

    "Edna Lyall has not written anything more artistic, or, from
    the moral point of view, more stimulating. In substance
    as well as in form, it is the manliest of Edna Lyall's
    books."--_Academy._


By P. H. DITCHFIELD, M.A.

    OUR ENGLISH VILLAGES: Their Story and their Antiquities. By P.
    H. DITCHFIELD, M.A., F.R.H.S., Rector of Barkham, Berks. Post
    8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._, Illustrated.

    "A pleasantly written little volume, giving much interesting
    information concerning villages and village life."--_Pall Mall
    Gazette._

    "An extremely amusing and interesting little book, which should
    find a place in every parochial library."--_Guardian._


EDITED by F. LANGBRIDGE, M.A.

    BALLADS of the BRAVE: Poems of Chivalry, Enterprise, Courage,
    and Constancy, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day.
    Edited, with Notes, by REV. F. LANGBRIDGE. Crown 8vo, gilt
    edges, 5_s._

[_Just Ready._

    "A very happy conception happily carried out. These 'Ballads
    of the Brave' are intended to suit the real tastes of boys,
    and will suit the taste of the great majority. It is not an
    ordinary selector who could have so happily put together these
    characteristic samples. Other readers besides boys may learn
    much from them."--_Spectator._

    "Mr. Langbridge's main object is to produce a volume
    that will please boys, and in this he has probably
    succeeded."--_Athenæum._

    "This charming volume is a healthy book for boys, including old
    boys."--_Echo._

    "A capital Christmas gift for a boy."--_Graphic._


By MRS. LEITH ADAMS.

    MY LAND OF BEULAH. By MRS. LEITH ADAMS, Author of "Aunt Hepsy's
    Foundling," &c. 1 vol. Crown 8vo, 3_s._ 6_d._

[_In the Press._


By MRS. LYNN LINTON.

    CHRISTOPHER KIRKLAND. By E. LYNN LINTON. New and Cheaper
    Edition. 1 vol. Crown 8vo, 3_s._ 6_d._

[_In the Press._

    THE TRUE HISTORY OF JOSHUA DAVIDSON. By E. LYNN LINTON. New and
    Cheaper Edition. 1 vol. Crown 8vo, 1_s._

[_In the Press._


EDUCATIONAL WORKS.


WORKS by A. M. STEDMAN, M.A.,
WADHAM COLLEGE, OXON.

    FIRST LATIN LESSONS. Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._

    LATIN VOCABULARIES FOR REPETITION: arranged according to
    Subjects. _Second and Revised Edition._ Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._ 6_d._

    GREEK VOCABULARIES FOR REPETITION: arranged according to
    Subjects. Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._ 6_d._

[_In the Press._

    FRENCH VOCABULARIES FOR REPETITION: arranged according to
    Subjects. Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._ 6_d._

[_In the Press._


_Issued with the consent of Dr. Kennedy._

    EASY LATIN EXERCISES ON THE SYNTAX OF THE SHORTER AND REVISED
    LATIN PRIMERS. With Vocabulary. Crown 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._

    NOTANDA QUAEDAM: MISCELLANEOUS LATIN EXERCISES ON COMMON RULES
    AND IDIOMS. Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._ 6_d._

    EASY LATIN PASSAGES FOR UNSEEN TRANSLATION. Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._
    6_d._

    GREEK TESTAMENT SELECTIONS. For the use of Schools. _New
    Edition._ With Introduction, Notes, and Vocabulary. Fcap. 8vo,
    2_s._ 6_d._

    OXFORD: ITS LIFE AND SCHOOLS. Edited by A. M. M. STEDMAN,
    M.A., assisted by members of the University. _New Edition,
    re-written._ Crown 8vo, 5_s._


By A. W. VERRALL, M.A.

    SELECTIONS FROM HORACE. With Introduction, Notes, and
    Vocabulary. By A. W. VERRALL, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity
    Coll., Cambridge. Fcap. 8vo.

[_In the Press._


By R. E. STEEL, M.A.

    PRACTICAL INORGANIC CHEMISTRY. For the Elementary Stage of the
    South Kensington Examinations in Science and Art. By R. E.
    STEEL, M.A., Senior Natural Science Master at Bradford Grammar
    School. Crown 8vo, cloth, 1_s._

[_Now ready._


SCHOOL EXAMINATION SERIES.

EDITED BY A. M. M. STEDMAN, M.A.

Cr. 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._ each.

In use at Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Repton, Cheltenham, Sherborne,
Haileybury, Merchant Taylors, Manchester, &c.

    FRENCH EXAMINATION PAPERS IN MISCELLANEOUS GRAMMAR AND IDIOMS.
    By A. M. M. STEDMAN, M.A. _Fourth Edition._

    A KEY, issued to Tutors and Private Students only, to be had on
    application to the Publishers. Cr. 8vo. 5_s._

LATIN EXAMINATION PAPERS IN MISCELLANEOUS GRAMMAR AND IDIOMS. By A. M.
M. STEDMAN, M.A. _Second Edition._ KEY (issued as above), 6_s._

GREEK EXAMINATION PAPERS IN MISCELLANEOUS GRAMMAR AND IDIOMS. By A. M.
M. STEDMAN, M.A. _Second Edition._

[KEY. _In the Press._

GERMAN EXAMINATION PAPERS IN MISCELLANEOUS GRAMMAR AND IDIOMS. By R.
J. MORICH, Manchester Grammar School. _Second Edition._ KEY (issued as
above), 5_s._

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY EXAMINATION PAPERS. By C. H. SPENCE, M.A.,
Clifton College.

SCIENCE EXAMINATION PAPERS. By R. E. STEEL, M.A., F.C.S., Chief Natural
Science Master, Bradford Grammar School. In three volumes.

    Part I. Chemistry.

    Part II. Physics (Sound, Light, Heat, Magnetism, Electricity).
    _In the Press._

    Part III. Biology and Geology. _In preparation._

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE EXAMINATION PAPERS. By A. M. M. STEDMAN, M.A.

[KEY. _In the Press._

EXAMINATION PAPERS IN BOOK-KEEPING, with Preliminary Exercises.
Compiled and arranged by J. T. MEDHURST, F. S. Accts. and Auditors, and
Lecturer at City of London College. 3_s._

ENGLISH LITERATURE, Questions for Examination in. Chiefly collected
from College Papers set at Cambridge. With an Introduction on the Study
of English. By the Rev. W. W. SKEAT, Litt.D., LL.D., Professor of
Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge University. _Second Edition, Revised._

ARITHMETIC, Examination Papers. By C. PENDLEBURY, M.A., Senior
Mathematical Master, St. Paul's School. KEY, 5_s._

TRIGONOMETRY, Examination Papers. By G. H. WARD, M.A., Assistant Master
at St. Paul's School. KEY, 5_s._


London: METHUEN & Co., 18 Bury Street, W.C.



Transcriber's Notes

Minor punctuation errors have been corrected.

Some inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been left as printed.

p 18. "seventeeth century" to "seventeenth century."

p. 46. "old and risty". may be a typo for rusty. Left as printed.

p. 71. "plate glass" to "plate-glass"

p. 161. "Mrs Chowne" to "Mrs. Chowne"

p. 184. "peform" to "perform"

p. 186. "brauls" to "braules"

p. 187. "Duke of Monmoth" to "Duke of Monmouth"

p. 228. The decade of the marriage date of AB is unclear in this
edition,

but visible as 1638 in an alternate source.

p. 312. "Wipe you shoes" to "Wipe your shoes"

End pages (publications). "finger's en" to "finger's end"

In the text both teetotaller and teetotaler used and have been left as
printed.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old Country Life" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home