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´╗┐Title: Peeps at Many Lands: England
Author: Finnemore, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peeps at Many Lands: England" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]










  GUARDS FROM MARLBOROUGH HOUSE . . . _Rose Barton_ . _Frontispiece_

LONDON: ST. PAUL'S AND LUDGATE HILL . . . _Herbert Marshall_

BY AN ENGLISH RIVER . . . _Birket Foster_

  CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL . . . _W. Biscombe Gardner_

IN AN ENGLISH COUNTRY TOWN . . . _Walter Tyndale_

IN AN ENGLISH LANE . . . _Birket Foster_


AN ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE . . . _Walter Tyndale_

IN AN ENGLISH VILLAGE . . . _W. Biscombe Gardner_

AN ENGLISH COTTAGE . . . _Mrs. Allingham_

IN AN ENGLISH WOOD . . . _Stilton Palmer_

ON AN ENGLISH COMMON . . . _Birket Foster_ ELOI

[Illustration: SKETCH-MAP OF ENGLAND.]



London is the greatest city in the world.  How easy it is to say that
or read it!  How very, very hard it is to get the least idea of what it
means!  We may talk of millions of people, of thousands of streets, of
hundreds of thousands of houses, but words will give us little grasp of
what London means.  And if we go to see for ourselves, we may travel up
and down its highways and byways until we are dizzy with the rush of
its hurrying crowds, its streams of close-packed vehicles, its rows
upon rows of houses, shops, banks, churches, museums, halls, theatres,
and begin to think that at last we have seen London.  But alas for our
fancy!  We find that all the time we have only been in one small corner
of it, and the great city spreads far and wide around the district we
have learned to know, just as a sea spreads around an islet on its
broad surface.

When we read or hear of London, we are always coming across the terms
West End and East End.  West and East of what?  Where is the
dividing-line?  The dividing-place is the City, the heart of London,
the oldest part of the great town.  Once the City was a compact little
town inside a strong wall which kept out its enemies.  It was full of
narrow streets, where shops stood thickly together, and over the shops
lived the City merchants in their tall houses.  The narrow streets and
the shops are still there, but the merchants have long since gone to
live elsewhere, and the walls have been pulled down.

Now the City is nothing but a business quarter.  It is packed with
offices, warehouses, banks and public buildings, and it is the busiest
part of London by day and the quietest by night.  It is a wonderful
sight to see the many, many thousands of people who work in the City
pour in with the morning and stream out at evening.  Every road, every
bridge, leading to and from the City is packed with men and women, boys
and girls, marching like a huge army, flowing and ebbing like the tides
of the sea.

In the centre of the City there is a famous open space where seven
streets meet.  It is famous for the buildings which surround it, and
the traffic which flows through it.  All day long an endless stream of
omnibuses, cabs, drays, vans, carts, motor-cars, motor-buses,
carriages, and every kind of vehicle which runs on wheels, pours by.
So great is the crush of traffic that underground passages have now
been built for people to cross from side to side, and that is a very
good thing, for only the very nimble could dodge their way through the
mass of vehicles.

Upon one side of this space there stands a building with blank walls,
not very high nor very striking in appearance.  But it is the Bank of
England, where the money matters of half the world are dealt with!  If
we went inside we should find that the Bank is built around a
courtyard, into which the windows look.  Thus there is no chance for
burglars to break in, and besides, the Bank is guarded very carefully,
for its cellars are filled with great bars of gold, and its drawers are
full of sovereigns and crisp bank-notes.

Upon the other side of the busy space stands the Mansion House, where
the Lord Mayor of London lives during his year of office.  Here are
held gay feasts, and splendid processions often march up to the doors;
for if a king or great prince visits London, he is always asked to
visit the City, and he goes in state to a fine banquet.

A third great building is the Royal Exchange, adorned with its great
pillars, and here the merchants meet, and business matters affecting
every corner of the globe are dealt with.

But there are two places which we must glance at before we leave the
City, whatever else we miss, and these are the Tower and St. Paul's
Cathedral.  And first of all we will go to the Tower, for it is the
oldest and most famous of all the City's many buildings.  Nay, the
Tower is more than that: it is one of the famous buildings of the world.

For many hundreds of years the grey old Tower has raised its walls
beside the Thames, and in its time it has played many parts.  It has
been a fortress, a palace, a treasure-house, and a prison.  William the
Conqueror began it, William Rufus went on with the work, and the latter
finished the central keep, the famous White Tower, the heart of the
citadel.  For many centuries the Tower was the strongest place in the
land, with its thick walls and its deep moat filled with water from the
Thames, and the rulers of England took great care to keep it in their
own hands.

To-day it is a show-place more than anything else, and everyone is free
to visit it, to see the Crown jewels stored there, and to view the
splendid collection of weapons and armour.  But after all the place
itself is the finest thing to see--to wander through the rooms where
kings and queens have lived, to stand in the dungeons and
prison-chambers where some of the best and noblest of our race have
been shut up, and to climb the narrow winding stairs from floor to

Many of the prisoners of the Tower were brought into it by the
Traitor's Gate, a great gloomy archway under which the waters of the
Thames once flowed.  In those days the river was the great highway of
London, and when the judges at Westminster had condemned a prisoner to
be sent to the Tower, he was carried down the river in a barge and
landed at the Traitor's Gate.  Many and many a poor prisoner saw his
last glimpse of the outer world from the gloomy gate.  Before him lay
nothing save a dreadful death at the hands of the headsman.

Outside the White Tower there is a garden, where once stood the block
where the greatest of the prisoners were beheaded.  Outside the Tower
is Tower Hill, where those of a lesser rank suffered; we may still see
in the Tower a headsman's block whereon heads have been laid and necks
offered to the sharp, heavy axe.  As for the names of those who have
been executed in the Tower, history is full of them--Lady Jane Grey,
Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Katherine Howard, the
Earl of Essex, to name but a few who have suffered there.  An earlier
tragedy than any of these is the murder of the two little princes,
Edward V. and his brother, put to death by command of Richard of
Gloucester, Richard Crookback, their wicked uncle who wanted to seize
the throne.

From the upper windows of the White Tower we can see the river crowded
with ships and steamers and barges, and on a fine day it is a most
beautiful sight.  But the most striking thing in the view is the Tower
Bridge.  "This is a new bridge, and it has two great towers rising one
on each side, as it seems, to the sky, and the bridge lies across low
down between those towers.  But when a big ship comes and wants to get
up the river under the bridge, what is to be done?  The bridge is not
high enough!  Well, what does happen is this--and I hope that every one
of you will see it one day, for it is one of the grandest things in
London: a man rings a bell, and the cabs, and carriages, and carts, and
people who are on the bridge rush quickly across to the other side, and
when the bridge is quite empty, then the man in the tower touches some
machinery, and slowly the great bridge, which is like a road, remember,
rises up into the air in two pieces, just as you might lift your hands
while the elbows rested on your knees without moving, and the beautiful
ship passes underneath, and the bridge goes back again quite gently to
its place.  This bridge has been called the Gate of London, and it is a
good name, for it looks like a giant gate over the river."


It is quite easy to find your way to St. Paul's Cathedral, for the
splendid dome of the great church springs high above the highest roof
of the City, and the gilt cross on its dome glitters in the sun 400
feet above the pavement below.

It is not a very old building, for it was raised after the Great Fire
of 1666, the fire which laid the City in ruins and destroyed the old
cathedral.  It was built by a great architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
He lies buried in the cathedral, and over his tomb is a Latin
inscription which means, "If thou dost seek my monument, look around

You see the meaning of this and look around, and acknowledge that the
noble church is indeed a splendid testimony to the skill of him who
built it.  As you walk round the place, you find many other monuments
to famous men.  Nelson lies here and Wellington, our greatest sailor
and our greatest soldier, and Dr. Johnson, the famous scholar.  Here
and there are battle-flags, the colours of famous regiments, decking
the walls.  Torn by shot and stained with blood, they speak of fierce
battles where the men who bore them were in the thickest of the fight,
but now they hang in the silence of the great cathedral, mute witnesses
of Britain's greatest victories.


The most striking part of the building is the great dome, which springs
so high into the air that, viewed from beneath, its top looks far off,
and dusky, and dim.  You may climb it by a flight of many, many steps,
and walk round it inside by means of a great gallery.  This is called
the Whispering Gallery, for if you stand at one side of it and whisper
softly, the murmur runs round the walls and will reach someone standing
on the opposite side, a long distance off!

Next, you may go on up and up until you reach the top of the dome and
look out far and wide over London, with the river winding through the
huge maze of streets and houses, and the whole spread out at your feet
as a bird sees a place on the wing.  It is a wonderful sight on a clear
day, and on a dull one it is hardly less striking, for the huge forest
of smoking chimneys spreads and spreads till it is lost on the horizon,
and you think that there is no end to this immense town, and that it is
stretching on and on for ever.

Well, now, from the City which way shall we strike, east or west?  I
think you would soon be tired of the East End, for there is little to
see there that is pleasing or beautiful.  Nearly all the people who
live in the East End are poor, and they live in long rows of mean
houses in dirty streets, where the air is close and everything is
grimy.  There are parts of the East End, of course, where things are
better than this, with clean streets and nice houses, but still, there
is nothing to attract a visitor like the splendid buildings and the
beautiful parks to be seen at the West End of town.

When we speak of parks that brings at once to the mind the thought of
Hyde Park, finest of all London's fine open spaces, so we will go to it
from St. Paul's by bus, and our way will be through some of the most
famous streets of London.  A seat on top of a London bus is a capital
place from which to see the street scenes of the great city, and we
climb up and, if we are lucky, get a front seat.

Away we roll down Ludgate Hill, across an open space, and up Fleet
Street, where it seems that every newspaper in the world must have an
office, so thickly are the walls covered by the names of all the
well-known papers.  Soon we see a monument erected in the roadway.  It
marks the site of Temple Bar, an old gateway which formed the City
boundary to the west.  Above the old gateway was a row of spikes, and
on these the heads of rebels and traitors used to be displayed.

As soon as we pass Temple Bar we are in the Strand, that mighty London
thoroughfare.  Its name reminds us that it runs along the river bank,
though to-day great buildings hide the river save for peeps down
side-streets.  At one time the south side of the Strand was lined with
the mansions of great noblemen, whose gardens ran down to the water's
edge, and the side-streets yet bear the names of the great houses which
stood in the neighbourhood.

To our right as we leave Temple Bar rises the splendid pile of the new
Law Courts, and on we go between close-packed lines of shops and
theatres until we come out into Trafalgar Square, the central point of
London.  Here is a great open space where fountains quietly play and a
lofty column rises, the latter crowned with a statue of our sailor
hero, Nelson.  At the upper end of the Square stands the National Art
Gallery, where some of the finest pictures in the world may be seen;
but we must come another day to look at them, for our bus is still
rolling westward.

We get a glimpse at Pall Mall, the region of club-land, and soon enter
Piccadilly, one of London's most beautiful and famous streets.  We pass
the doors of the Royal Academy, and then a pleasant park opens to our
left, the Green Park, while on our right runs a continuous line of
mansions, shops, and clubs, until the bus pulls up at Hyde Park Corner,
and we have reached the great park.

On a fine summer day Hyde Park offers one of the most wonderful scenes
in London.  A constant stream of splendid carriages, drawn by
magnificent horses, pours into the park and moves round and round the
Drive and "The Row," with its riders, is even more interesting.

Rotten Row is a long, broad, tan-covered ride, where horsemen and
horsewomen trot and canter to and fro.  Finer horses and riders are not
to be found.  On a morning when the Row is fairly full, it is
delightful to spend an hour or so, seated on one of the green chairs in
shade of an elm or lime, watching the riders.  Here comes an old
gentleman on a stout cob.  They pound steadily past, and now three or
four young people mounted on tall, lively horses dash past at a gallop,
chatting merrily as they go, and then there is a swift scurry of
ponies, as some children dart along, racing each other up to the
Corner, where all turn and come back.

Perhaps in an afternoon you may go in through the great gates at Hyde
Park Corner and find the carriages drawn up in lines, and a feeling of
excitement and expectation in the air.  A clear track is being kept.
For whom?  For the Queen.  She is coming up now from Buckingham Palace
to drive in the Park.  Suddenly there is a brilliant flash of colour as
servants in royal liveries of glowing scarlet come into sight.  Hats
fly off as the royal carriage passes, drawn by splendid chestnuts, and
there is the Queen, bowing and smiling at the people who greet her as
she drives into the Park.


Now that we have seen the Queen pass by, we will go and look at her
home in London.  Buckingham Palace is not far from Hyde Park Corner,
and when we reach it we see a big, rather dull-looking building, with a
courtyard before it, and red-coated soldiers marching up and down on
guard.  This palace of the King and Queen is, in truth, not very
handsome outside, but it is very splendid within, its fine rooms being
adorned with the paintings of great artists.

A noble road, called the Mall, leads from the front of Buckingham
Palace, and if we follow it we shall come out on a wide, open space
laid with gravel, the Horse Guards' Parade.  Or if we do not care about
walking along the Mall, we can come through St. James's Park, with its
pretty piece of ornamental water, where ducks and other water-birds fly
about, and watch eagerly for crumbs flung to them by the visitors.

Crossing the Horse Guards' Parade, we go through a small archway into
the great street called Whitehall.  The archway is watched without by
two Life Guards--tall men in shining steel breastplates and helmets,
and mounted on tall horses--while others on foot march up and down

In Whitehall may be seen the room from which Charles I. stepped out to
the scaffold on the day of his execution.  It was once the
banqueting-hall of a royal palace, and is now a museum, and anyone may
go into it.  The scaffold had been built outside the walls, and he
stepped through a window to reach it, and there his head was struck off
before a great crowd which had gathered in Whitehall.

The broad street is lined with tall buildings, where the business of
Government is carried on; and at its foot stand the Houses of
Parliament, where laws are made for the nation.  This noble range of
buildings is crowned by three great towers, two square and one pointed.
The pointed one is the Clock Tower, and there, high above our heads, is
the great clock with its four faces.  It is the largest clock in
England; its figures are 2 feet in length; its minute-hand is 16 feet
long, and weighs 2cwt.  The hour is struck on a great bell called "Big
Ben," and when Big Ben booms out over London it tells the people what
o'clock it is, and they set their watches and clocks by it.

As we look round, we see at a short distance from us a majestic old
church, its walls grey and time-worn.  It is Westminster Abbey, the
place where our kings and queens have been crowned for a thousand
years, and where lie the remains of Britain's famous dead.  No sooner
do we enter the venerable building than we see on every side monuments
and inscriptions to the memory of great men and women--kings, queens,
princes, statesmen, famous writers, soldiers, sailors, travellers, all
are there--some with a mere line or so of inscription, some with a huge
sculptured monument.  For many hundreds of years Westminster Abbey has
been used as a burial-place, and to name those that lie there and to
tell the story of their lives would be to narrate the history of

This noble church is built in the form of a Latin cross, and contains
beautiful chapels opening from the main building, the finest of all
being the Chapel of Henry VII. at the eastern end of the abbey.  In
these chapels lie many kings and queens of England, beginning with
Edward the Confessor, who founded the abbey, and whose shrine stands in
the interesting chapel behind the choir.

Near at hand is the famous Coronation Chair, an old wooden chair, with
a large stone let in under its seat.  The stone was brought to England
by Edward I., who seized it at Scone in Scotland.  It is the sacred
stone on which all the Scottish kings had been crowned for many
centuries, and when Edward placed it in the Coronation Chair he meant
it to show that the English king was ruler of Scotland also.  And yet
it was a Scottish king who first joined the two kingdoms, and not an
English one, for James VI. of Scotland became James I. of England, and
the two kingdoms were united under the name of Great Britain.  Our
King, Edward VII., was, of course, the last to be crowned, seated in
that famous old chair.

There is one corner of Westminster Abbey which all visit, no matter
what other part they may miss, and that is the south transept, which
everyone knows as Poets' Corner.  Here have been buried some of the
most famous writers of our land, and there are monuments to others who
lie elsewhere.

From Westminster Abbey we will cross to Westminster Hall, and glance
for an instant into the greatest room in Europe.  This fine old hall
was built by William Rufus, and consists of one huge apartment, and the
span of its wooden roof is greater than any other room in Europe not
supported by pillars.  The hall was built for banquets and festivities,
and coronation feasts were held in it for ages.  At these feasts a
champion, clad in full armour and mounted on a war-horse, would ride
into the hall, and challenge anyone to dispute the king's title to the

Westminster Hall was also used for law-courts, and continued to be so
used until very recent times, when the courts were moved to the great
building in the Strand.  Next we will look at Westminster Bridge, the
largest and finest of all London bridges.  Here we see the broad Thames
rolling down to the sea, and have a splendid view of the river-front of
the Houses of Parliament.  On a summer afternoon the river-front looks
very gay, for there is a long terrace beside the Thames, and the
members come out to take tea there.  They form parties with their
friends, and the bright dresses of the ladies, and the movement to and
fro, and the laughing groups at the little tables, form a very bright
and cheerful scene.

Looking downstream from the bridge, we see on our left hand the
Embankment, one of the biggest pieces of work that even London has ever
done.  Every day the river rises and falls with the tide, and sometimes
when there has been much rain a great flood comes down from the country
and makes it rise much higher still.  Now, sometimes when the river
rose very high it ran into houses and did a great deal of damage, so a
great wall was built to keep Father Thames in his right place.  "It was
a wonderful piece of work.  It is difficult to think of the number of
cart-loads of solid earth and stone that had to be put down into the
water to make a firm foundation, and when that was done the wall had to
be built on the top, and made very strong.  And after this was finished
trees were planted.  Thus there was made a splendid walk or drive for
miles along the riverside."


Famous above all English rivers is the Thames--"Old Father Thames," as
the Londoners used to call it in days when its broad stream was their
most familiar high-road.  To-day the Londoner uses the motor-bus
instead of a Thames wherry; but still the great river rolls through the
great city, and on its tide a vast stream of trade flows to and from
the capital.

To write the story of the Thames would more than fill this little book,
so that we can do no more than glance at a few of the famous places on
this famous stream.

Springing in the Cotswolds, the infant Thames, first known as the Isis,
runs thirty miles eastwards to gain the meadows around Oxford.  Here
the river spreads into a beautiful sheet of water at the foot of
Christchurch Meadow, and glides gently past "the City of the Dreaming

In the summer term this stretch of the river presents a gay and busy
scene.  The rowing-men are out in racing boats, skiffs, canoes, punts,
and almost every kind of boat that swims.  Along the Christchurch bank
are moored the college barges, great gaily-painted structures, whence
the rowing-men put off, and where crowds of spectators gather on great
race days.

The chief boat-races at Oxford are rowed in the middle of the summer
term--the May Eights.  Then the colleges struggle with each other for
the honour of being "Head of the River," the title held by the winning
eight.  The boats do not race side by side, for the river is not wide
enough for that; they race in a long line, with an equal distance
between each pair of boats.  When the starting-gun fires, each crew
pulls with all its might to catch the crew ahead.  If one boat overlaps
another and touches it, a "bump" is made, and the bumped boat has lost
its place.  Next day--for the races are held day after day for a
week--the winning boat goes up one place, and tries to catch the next
boat, and so on, until the races are over.  Then the boat which has
taken or kept the head of the line is hailed as "Head of the River."
Here is an account of a bump:

"The Eights: Brilliant blue sky above, glinting blue water beneath.
Down across Christchurch meadow troops a butterfly crowd, flaunting
brilliant parasols and chattering gaily to the 'flannelled fools' who
form the escort.  Despite the laughter, it is a solemn occasion, for
the college boat that is Head of the River may be going to be bumped
this afternoon, and if so, the bump will surely take place in front of
the barges.  The only question is, before which barge will it happen?
When the exciting moment draws near, chatter ceases, and tense
stillness holds the crowd in thrall.  The relentless pursuers creep on
steadily, narrowing the gap between themselves and the first boat, and
finally bump it exactly opposite its own barge!  A moment's pause.  The
completeness of the triumph is too impressive to be grasped at once;
then pandemonium--pistol-shots, rattles, hoots, yells, shrieks of joy,
wildly waving parasols, and groans."

From the river some of the most striking and beautiful pictures of
Oxford may be gained.  As the stream winds and turns, the pinnacles,
spires, and domes of this most lovely city group themselves in
ever-changing combinations, and draw the eye until Oxford is lost to
view behind the lofty elms and the alders which fringe the stream.

[Illustration: BY AN ENGLISH RIVER]

Below Oxford the river runs quietly along between rich meadows which in
spring and early summer are carpeted with lovely wild-flowers, past
quaint old houses and riverside inns, under straggling and picturesque
old bridges, and ripples over fords where heavy cart-horses splash
knee-deep through the clear shining stream.  Here and there are
pleasant villages on the bank, each with its old church, whose
graveyard is shaded by great yews and entered by a quaint lych-gate.

Of the larger towns on the Thames, Reading is among the most important.
But we shall not speak of the busy Reading of to-day, with its
seed-gardens and biscuit factories, but of long-ago Reading, when its
great abbey was flourishing, and its Abbot one of the chief men in

Once when Henry VIII. was hunting in Windsor Forest, he lost his way,
and arrived at the Abbey of Reading about dinner-time.  He concealed
his rank, and announced that he was one of the King's guard, and, in
this character, was invited to the Abbot's table.  A sirloin of beef
was set on the table, and the hungry King made such play with his knife
and fork that the Abbot could not but observe it.

"Ah," said the Abbot, "I would give a hundred pounds could I but feed
on beef so heartily as you do.  But my stomach is so weak that I can
scarce digest a small rabbit or a chicken."

Bluff King Hal laughed and pledged his host in wine, thanked him for
the good dinner, then went without giving any hint who he was.

A few weeks later some of the King's men came to the abbey, seized the
Abbot, and carried him off to the Tower.  Here he was shut up and fed
on bread and water, and between this wretched food and his fears of the
King's displeasure the poor Abbot had a very hard time.

Then one day a fine sirloin of beef was brought into his cell, and the
famished priest leapt to the table and ate like a hungry farmer.  In
sprang Henry from a private place, where he had been watching his
prisoner eat.

"Now, Sir Abbot," cried the King, "down with your hundred pounds, for
of a surety I have found your appetite for you."  Whereupon the Abbot
paid up at once and went home, lighter in purse, but merry at heart to
find that the King sought his money and not his head.


Below Reading the Thames becomes "the playground of London."  All the
summer long its bosom is dotted with boats, and the lawns upon its
banks are filled with people who have fled from "town" to rest their
eyes on green fields and the shining stretches of cool running water,
so delightful after the heat and glare of London.

Many holiday-makers actually live on the river in a house-boat, a
broad, flat-bottomed craft upon which a kind of wooden house is built,
and moored in the stream.  Others traverse the river in a rowing-boat,
carrying tents and camping at night in a meadow beside the stream.

Going down-river from Reading, we come to Henley, where the noted
regatta is held every year in the first week of July.  It is the
greatest of all river regattas, and the most famous boat clubs of the
world send crews to Henley.

On a fine day of the Henley week the course presents a most striking
and brilliant scene.  The river is packed from side to side with boats
of every size and kind--skiffs, punts, canoes--filled with ladies in
pretty summer dresses and men in cool white flannels.  The sides of the
river are lined with house-boats, each bearing a gaily-dressed crowd
and decked with beautiful flowers.  Pennons and flags and streamers
flutter in the sunshine, and the wonderful mingling of bright colours
in the moving crowds on land and water presents one of the gayest and
prettiest scenes in the world.

Suddenly a bell rings.  Clear the course!  A race is about to begin.
Now the boats are pulled hastily to the side of the river, where the
course is marked off by piles and booms.  It seems impossible for the
river full of craft to pack itself away along the sides, but in some
fashion or other it is managed--skiffs, canoes, and punts all wedged
together like sardines in a tin.

Then a shout rings along the banks--"They're off! they're off!" and all
crane their necks to catch the first glimpse of the racing boats.  Soon
the long slender boats come dashing past, the eight men in each craft
pulling with tremendous power, and the little cox crouching in the
stern, tiller ropes in hand.  Then rises a great outburst of cheers as
the friends of the winners hail the victory.

Among the beautiful houses which stand upon the bank of the stream
below Henley, there is one ancient and noble hall which forms a
striking picture from the river.  This is Bisham Abbey, where Queen
Elizabeth was once a prisoner during her sister's reign, a house of
many stories and legends.  One of these stories tells that "the house
is haunted by a certain Lady Hoby, who beat her little boy to death
because he could not write without blots.  She goes about wringing her
hands and trying to cleanse them from indelible inkstains.  The story
has probably some foundation, for a number of copybooks of the age of
Elizabeth were discovered behind one of the shutters during some later
alterations, and one of these was deluged in every line with blots.  We
all know that great severity was exercised by parents with their
children at that time; and the story, if not the ghost, may safely be

On we go, past the lovely wooded cliffs of Clieveden, through the
well-known Boulter's Lock, and away downstream, till we see a mighty
tower rise high above the river, and know that we are looking on the
noble Round Tower which crowns Windsor Castle, the home of English
kings.  Near the river the castle looks very fine, its irregular pile
of buildings rising in a series of rough levels, adorned by turrets,
towers, and pinnacles, until the whole is topped and dominated by the
mighty Round Tower built by Edward III., the hero of the French wars.

Since the days of the first Norman, Windsor Castle has been a favourite
abode of English royalty.  Other palaces have been built, to fall into
neglect and decay, but Windsor has stood on its hill beside the Thames
for more than 800 years, and it has been a royal castle all the time.

Opposite Windsor, most famous of all English palaces, stands Eton, most
famous of all English schools.  From the well-known North Terrace of
Windsor Castle--open to the public from sunrise to sunset--it is
possible to obtain a fine view of the great school.  "We can look down
on the whole of Eton--the church, with its tall spire; the buttresses
and pinnacles of the chapel standing up white against an indigo
background; the red and blue roofs piled this way and that; and the
green playing-fields, girdled by the swift river."

The Thames is a great playground of the Eton boys.  They row on it, and
bathe in it.  At the great Eton festival, on June 4, there is a
procession of boats on the river, when the boys, dressed in quaint
costumes, row to a small islet and return to the meadows beside the
stream.  There are two bathing-places--one, a small backwater, called
Cuckoo Weir, where the lower boys bathe.  Here is held the swimming
trial which a boy must pass before he can go out boating.  The other
bathing-place, known by the fine title of Athens, is in the main river,
and is used by the bigger boys.

A short distance downstream is the historic mead whose name is familiar
on every lip.  It is a quiet, smooth meadow beside the river, and it is
Runnymede, or Runney Mead, where King John signed Magna Charta, and so
made a beginning of English freedom.  There is now an island in the
Thames at that spot called Magna Charta Island, but it is not thought
that the Charter was signed there.  It is believed that John and the
barons met on the mainland, the King riding down from Windsor to meet
his offended subjects.

Below Windsor the Thames flows past many well-known riverside towns,
and at last meets the tide.  The sea is still nearly seventy miles
away, but salt water now mingles with the fresh of the brooks and rills
which have made up the great river, and a change takes place--the
stream of pleasure becomes more and more a stream of busy trade.
"Though pleasure-boats are to be seen in quantities any summer evening
about Putney; though market-gardens still border the banks at Fulham,
yet the river is for the greater part lined with wharves and piers and
embankments.  It is no wild thing running loose, but a strong worker
full of earnest purpose.  It is the great river without which there
would have been no London, the river which bears the largest trade the
world has ever known."


The cathedral cities of England are among the chief glories of our
land, and the charm of these ancient places is only felt to the full
when the splendid church dominates absolutely over the city clustered
around it.  A cathedral in a place which has swelled to a big modern
town may be interesting, but it lacks the appropriate setting: it
should stand in the midst of a small, old city, whose streets are
narrow and winding; whose houses are gabled, lattice-paned, and with
overhanging storeys; whose medieval walls may still be traced, and the
mouldering keep of whose ruined castle may still be climbed.

First of all English cathedral cities stands Canterbury, with its
splendid church, raised upon the spot where first Christianity
flourished in Britain.  Kent was the cradle of the English race in
England, and to Kent came St. Augustine, preaching the Christian faith
to Ethelbert, Saxon king, who listened and believed.

There was already a ruined church, it is believed, in Canterbury--a
church built by Roman or British Christians--and this was restored and
reconsecrated by the missionary bishop.  In time this church grew into
a great cathedral, but in 1011 the Danes attacked the city, plundered,
slaughtered, and burned and destroyed the place.  Again and again fire
wrought much harm, until in 1174 the cathedral suffered utter ruin by a
tremendous outbreak, and was reduced to ashes.  But without delay the
builders set to work, and the present glorious edifice began to rise
from the ruins of the destroyed building.  More than 200 years passed
before the great church was completed by the building of the
magnificent central tower, the famous Bell Harry Tower.

"As we stand upon the summit of Bell Harry Tower--more happily called
the Angel Steeple--of Canterbury Cathedral, looking down upon city and
countryside, much of the history of England lies spread beneath our
feet: the Britons were at work here before the Romans came marching
with their stolid legions; here to Ethelbert St. Augustine preached the
Gospel of Christ; in the church below, Becket was murdered and the
Black Prince buried; to this city, to the shrine of St. Thomas, came
innumerable pilgrims, one of them our first great English poet....
Away to the east and south are the narrow seas, crossed by conquering
Romans and Normans, crossed for centuries by a constant stream of
travellers from all ends of the earth, citizens of every clime, to some
of whom the sight of the English coast was the first glimpse of home,
to others the first view of a strange land; away to the north and west
are the Medway and the Thames, Rochester and London.  From no other
tower, perhaps, can so wide a bird's-eye view of our history be
obtained; Canterbury is so situated that ever since England has been,
and as long as England shall be, this city has been and will be a
centre of the nation's life."

Round the cathedral lies its close, and a cathedral close is one of the
quietest, quaintest, pleasantest places in the world.  Clustered in
shadow of the great building lie the houses of the clergy who serve in
the cathedral--the bishop, the dean, the canons--and their dwellings
are fenced off from the streets without, and kept private from all
noise and traffic.  The cathedral close is entered by a low grey
gateway in an ancient wall, and within we find quaint old houses with
oriel and bay windows, each kept in the trimmest order, with its
neatly-railed grass plot in front, and its garden behind, where peaches
and nectarines ripen on sunny walls.


From this haunt of ancient peace we will go into the great building and
visit the Martyrdom, the place where stood the shrine of Thomas Becket,
St. Thomas of Canterbury, whom the four knights of Henry II. slew in

For hundreds of years the people of England looked upon Becket as a
martyr and a saint, and went on pilgrimage to visit his tomb.  One
company of pilgrims lives for ever in the verse of Geoffrey Chaucer,
the great fourteenth-century poet; they ride from London to Canterbury
in a right merry fellowship, and tell tales to pass the time on the
way--the ever-famous "Canterbury Pilgrims."  But throngs without number
of wayfarers who have found no such splendid chronicler marched to the
city where the bones of the martyr lay under Bell Harry Tower, and
their offerings made the shrine glorious with gold and gems.

A Venetian who saw the shrine about the year 1500 says: "The tomb of
St. Thomas the Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, exceeds all belief.
Notwithstanding its great size, it is wholly covered with plates of
pure gold; yet the gold is scarcely seen because it is covered with
various precious stones, as sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds;
and wherever the eye turns something more beautiful than the rest is

This shrine blazed with gold and jewels until the Reformation, when it
was destroyed and its treasures seized by Henry VIII.; to-day nothing
of it remains.

The second greatest memory of the cathedral is that of the Black
Prince; his tomb stands in the chapel where once stood the shrine of
Becket.  "A splendid figure of romance he was--a great fighter, and, as
such, beloved of his race; the boy victor of Cressy; the conqueror at
Poitiers, where the French King became his captive; in his life the
glory of his country, by his untimely death leaving it to anarchy and
civil war.  We stand by his tomb, looking upon his effigy, which is
life-like in its strength.  'There he lies: no other memorial of him
exists in the world so authentic.  There he lies, as he had directed,
in full armour, his head resting on his helmet, his feet with the
likeness of "the spurs he won" at Cressy, his hands joined as in that
last prayer which he had offered up on his death-bed.'  Above the
canopy hang his gauntlets, his helm, his velvet coat that once blazed
with the arms of England and of France, and the empty scabbard of his

But when we have looked upon all the solemn beauties of the great
church; when we have seen the quaintly beautiful old houses of the city
about it; when we have visited St. Martin's, the oldest church in
England; when we have walked round Dune John, that mysterious mound
which no one can explain, still we must not leave without seeing the
oldest by far of all the old things of this old city.

What is it?  A small lane, no more, no less--a narrow trackway which
one would pass without noticing, if he did not know it was the famous
Pilgrims Way, the Old Road, the ancient trackway which ran westwards
from Kent to Cornwall, and existed in days when no such names were
known in the land.  In the history of this lane, the name of the
Pilgrims' Way is a modern title; it existed long before pilgrims were
known, and it was used in the dim, far-off dawn of civilization when
skin-clothed Britons carried their loads of metal eastwards to send
them across the narrow seas.  How old it is no man can say, but it runs
along ridge and height, showing that it was marked out in times when
the lower-lying country was impassable owing to marsh and woodland.


"Wessex?" you say.  "What county is that?  We know Essex and Sussex,
but where is Wessex?"  Well, it is not a county, and you will not find
the name on a map of England; but it is a good English name for all
that, and once was the name of an important English kingdom.

When Alfred the Great became King, he ruled over Wessex, the
south-western part of England, and the old name still clings to the
district, which is now cut up into several modern counties.

Wessex is a land of downs and dales, and broad stretches of fertile
country.  It is the home of the chalk hills--those great, smooth,
rolling heights, covered with short, sweet grass, on which great flocks
of sheep pasture and speck the vast slopes with dots of white.

"There is hardly any part of our land which has remained so little
unchanged as these Downs of Wessex.  It is not because they are rugged
and difficult to climb: they are not; they are often easy to surmount.
There are far wilder and higher looking hills in both Wales and
Scotland, which have inhabitants, which are ploughed in patches and
dotted with whitewashed cottages.  Yet the Downs remain lonely, their
sky-line unbroken by any sign of the presence of man.  Just as the
Roman saw them from his trireme, the Saxon from his long ship, the Dane
from his war-boat, so we see them to-day--great solitary green mounds,
600, 700, 800 feet high."

Why is this?  The answer is simple.  They lack water.  Down their sides
flow no brooks, babbling from stone to stone; they are waterless, and
therefore treeless and houseless.  They get plenty of rain, of course,
for when the sou'-westers blow up from the Atlantic they are drenched
by many a heavy storm.  But the water does not run down their sides as
a river, or gather in their hollows as a lake.  The chalk of which they
are composed is too porous for that, and the rain sinks swiftly and is

Water is so abundant in almost every part of our land that we are
inclined to forget that the first need of a house is its water-supply.
He who thinks to build on the Downs must first reckon how deep a well
he must dig through the chalk before the water can be reached.  And he
finds that the cost of obtaining water is so great that he must build
his house elsewhere.  One or two houses have been built high up on the
Downs by wealthy people who were resolved to carry out a fancy.  In
winter the water-supply is furnished by the rain which falls on the
roofs; in summer it is carted from the valley at great expense.

In some parts of the Downs water is obtained by dew-pans or dew-ponds.
A space is hollowed out, as a rule, near the summit of a hill.  It is
circular in form, and of no great depth.  It is coated with clay or
cement, or some material which prevents the passage of water, and it
then fills with dew and rain, and, strange to say, many of these
dew-ponds never fail after they have once filled.  You may visit them
in perfect certainty of obtaining some water.

"Those who best know the Downs, and have lived among them all their
lives, can testify how, for a whole day's march, one may never meet a
man's face; or, if one meets it, it will be the face of some shepherd,
who may be standing lonely, with his dog beside him, upon the flank of
a green hill, and with his flock scattered all around."

Another great feature of Wessex is its broad heaths--great sweeps of
country dark with furze and gorse and heath, save when they blaze in
May with the yellow blossoms of the gorse, or glow in autumn with the
purple of the heather.

And bordering these heaths and downs are great stretches of smiling
meadow and corn land, dotted by quaint and beautiful townlets and
villages.  Of large towns there are but few, for Wessex knows nothing
of the toil and turmoil of great industrial centres.  She tills her
land and tends her flocks, and those occupations mean old farmhouses
and cottages, half-timbered or stone-built, roofed with red tiles or
grey thatch, and little country towns, silent and sleepy save on
market-days, when the farmers and dealers come in and buy and sell
their cattle and their produce.

The coast of Wessex is washed by the English Channel, and through all
our history no other part of our coast-line has been so busy with
sailors and shipping as that which looks upon the narrow seas.

The Roman, the Saxon, the Dane, have landed at its river-mouths, and
marched inland.  In later days, the pirates which swarmed along the
Channel have attacked and plundered its towns.  All through the Middle
Ages the citizens of the little towns along the shore had to be
prepared at any moment to beat off the attacks of freebooters who
sought plunder wherever it was to be found.  Thus, in 1338, Southampton
was attacked suddenly by pirates on a Sunday when the people of the
town were in church, and the town was plundered and burned.

To this day the visitor notes with wonder the size and strength of some
old parish churches along the coast.  They seem needlessly large in
view of the small population of the village, and also needlessly
strong.  But 500 years ago the church was also the fortress of the
place.  When news was brought that an enemy was near at hand, all fled
into the church for protection; and while the women and children
crouched before the altar, where the priest prayed for the rout of the
foe, the men strung their bows, and prepared to launch showers of
arrows from every window and loophole.

All through the long French wars the Wessex ports were in the thick of
the fray, fitting out privateers and supplying men for the Navy.  Along
these coasts the press-gangs were very busy when sailors were needed
for the fleet and not enough men had volunteered.  The press-gang was a
body of seamen, commanded by a naval officer, and sent out to seize men
and carry them on board ship by force.  Tales are told to this day in
Wessex of a press-gang marching into a village at dead of night and
rushing into cottages to drag men out of bed and make them prisoners to
serve the King at sea.  Sometimes the ploughman was snatched from his
plough, the shepherd from his flock.  At times these men returned after
many years' absence to tell of their lives on board a man-o'-war, and
the battles fought with Britain's enemies; others were never heard of
again in their native place.


The time of the French wars, too, was the time when the smugglers were
in their glory.  The Government laid heavy duties on spirits, lace, and
such things, and employed a large body of officers, called "preventive
men," to watch the seaports and coasts, and take care that no such
articles came into the land without paying duty.

But, for all that, many and many a cask of brandy and parcel of lace
came over from France, and was smuggled ashore under cover of night, or
upon some very lonely stretch of coast.  The usual method of the
smugglers was this: a vessel laden with contraband goods would appear
at an arranged place upon an arranged time.  With the darkness of night
a number of boats put off to her and received the cargo, and pulled
back to the beach.  Here would be a band of comrades with a number of
strong, swift horses.  The horses were loaded with the casks and
bundles, and then away they were driven full-gallop up-country towards
a safe hiding-place, where the goods could be stored until sold.

The trade was very profitable, for the duty was so heavy that the
smuggler, if he made a successful run, could sell his goods far more
cheaply than a merchant who had paid duty, and could yet make a large
profit.  But the preventive officers were always on the watch, and it
was a constant struggle between them and the smugglers.  Sometimes the
officers won.  They caught the smugglers and captured the goods.  But
the smugglers often showed fight, and when both parties were well
armed, the affair would become a pitched battle, in which men were
killed or wounded on both sides.

As a rule, however, the smugglers depended on hoodwinking and eluding
the preventive men, and endless were their devices to gain their ends.
Sometimes a vessel appeared off the coast behaving in a suspicious
manner and leading the officers to believe she carried a cargo of
contraband goods.  At nightfall she exchanged signals with the shore,
but when she was boarded, nothing wrong could be discovered.  She was
merely a decoy, and while the preventive men had been kept busy with
her movements, another vessel had landed a cargo at some other point
along the coast.


Along the shore are still to be seen many old houses, where devices
have been arranged to aid smugglers.  There may be a secret cellar
entered by a hidden door, where casks were placed till the officers
were out of the way, or a sliding panel in the wainscot, worked by a
spring, is the door of a cupboard where bundles of lace could be
concealed.  Then there are secret hiding-places for the smugglers
themselves when pursued by their enemies.  In one house there is a
stone wall which looks perfectly solid.  But if a particular stone be
pressed, a piece of the wall swings aside and gives entrance to a tiny
closet built in the thickness of the wall.  Here is just room for a man
to hide, and when the door is closed on him, no one who does not
understand the secret could discover where he is.

But the smugglers would soon have been suppressed had they not had many
friends in the countryside.  Many a farmer took care to turn a blind
eye when he suspected that the smugglers were using one of his barns or
sheds as a hiding-place.  He knew very well that when they went he
would find a cask left behind, and he took it, and nothing was said.
The preventive officers made capture of contraband goods in the
strangest of places--in the cellars of squires, who were justices of
the peace and supposed to aid them, and more than once in a church,
where a parish clerk or sexton, in league with the smugglers, had
stowed away the forbidden casks and bales.

As for the smugglers themselves, they practised a thousand tricks to
outwit their enemies of the law: they shod their horses backwards to
throw their pursuers off the scent, they gave false information to draw
the officers astray, they tried every device known to outwit them.  One
day a very active and zealous officer, much dreaded by the smugglers of
his neighbourhood, made his appearance in a small fishing village at a
very awkward time.  In a cove below the cliff there was a string of
loaded horses waiting for the darkness to come up the cliff road and
gallop inland with their burdens.  The preventive officer rode up to
the inn, where the landlord, secretly quaking, for he was one of the
smugglers, made a great show of welcoming him.

In a short time there was an uproar in the village street; one of the
fishermen appeared to be beating his wife severely, and there was a
great hubbub for a time.  Before long the ill-treated woman came into
the room where the officer was making a meal, and, apparently in a
state of anger and agitation, accused her husband of being a smuggler,
and offered to post the officer in a spot where he should have ample
evidence of the guilt of the villagers.

"I'll put ye within a yard of 'em as they pass by," said the woman,
"and then ye can get all their names and know where they are."

The officer, feeling sure that she was inspired by a spirit of revenge,
agreed to follow her directions, and, as dusk began to settle down, he
crept quietly to the back of her house, a spot which overlooked the
cliff road.

The woman met him, and cautioned him not to make a sound.  "For," said
she, "if they get to know of ye, they'll take your life; they be such
terrible smugglers hereabouts."

She bade him get into a large cask beside the back-door, and pointed
out that he could see all who passed through the bung-hole.  Eager to
discover the smugglers and the way they would take, he did so.  But no
sooner was the unlucky man in the cask than a cover was popped on it by
the woman's husband, hidden near at hand, and the cover was held down
until it was firmly secured by hammer and nails.  Then a spigot was
driven into the bung-hole, and a voice shouted, "Come on, boys!  We've
boxed him up."

At the next moment the preventive officer heard the tramp of hoofs as
the horses filed past the cask where he was shut up in utter darkness.
The whole thing had been a trick from beginning to end.  The quarrel
between husband and wife had been a sham one, intended to lure the
officer into the trap, and there he was fast in the cask; nor was he
released until the smugglers were far beyond reach of pursuit.


Wessex has many beautiful and peaceful country towns, and of these an
admirable example may be seen in Dorchester, the county town of
Dorsetshire, a place often called the capital of Wessex.  This very
ancient town has seen the whole of the history of Wessex, the land of
the West Saxons.  Before a Saxon settled in the country it was a
splendid city, the home of Roman nobles and the camp of Roman soldiery.
The Romans knew it as Durnovaria, and they filled it with houses and
adorned it with temples and theatres.  To this day Roman remains are
being discovered.  An old house is pulled down and the foundations
cleared away, and in the work the diggers come upon pavements which
were laid down by Roman hands and trodden by Roman feet.  Very often
pottery and ornaments are discovered, and now and again a more striking
relic still--the pick strikes into a Roman grave and lays bare a manly
form which once marched with the legions, or the figure of a Roman
maiden, whose ornaments still lie among her mortal remains.

After the Romans came the Saxons, and Dorchester was still a place of
much importance.  In 1003, Sweyn of Denmark plundered and burned the
place and overthrew the walls in revenge for the massacre of Danes on
St. Brice's Day in the previous year.  But the town was soon rebuilt,
and its history runs on through the centuries with outbreaks of fire
and plague and records of martyrdoms, until war visited it again during
the great Civil War.  Dorchester stood against Charles, and saw some
severe skirmishing in its neighbourhood, but no fighting of any great
importance.  But the reign of Charles's second son, James II., saw
Dorchester leap into terrible prominence, for here, on September 3,
1685, was opened the "Bloody Assize."  Sedgemoor had been fought, the
rebellion of Monmouth had been broken, and the infamous Judge Jeffreys
had come down to the West to strike terror into the hearts of all who
had wished well to Monmouth.

More than 300 people had been crammed into Dorchester Gaol, and nearly
all of them were condemned to death.  Of these, some forty or fifty
were executed, and others condemned to be whipped in terribly severe
fashion, and to suffer long terms of imprisonment and heavy fines.

After the Monmouth Rebellion, Dorchester sank back into the peaceful
history of a quiet country town--a history unbroken, save for local
events of fire and storm, until to-day.  The town still preserves much
of its ancient character, and is a most interesting and picturesque
place, and, on market-days, is thronged by people of typical Wessex
appearance--dealers, farmers, carters, labourers, and pedlars.

To the south of the town stands a great amphitheatre, which is said to
have been built by the Romans about the time of Agricola.  It is called
Maumbury Rings, and is a series of raised mounds enclosing an open
space.  It is calculated that some 12,000 spectators could have been
seated round the amphitheatre, each enjoying an excellent view of the
combats of gladiators or wild beasts in the arena below.

But a still more wonderful relic of former days is to be seen two miles
south of Dorchester--the huge British earthwork, now known as Maiden
Castle.  It is an immense camp or hill-fort, built on the flat summit
of a natural hill, and it must have cost the Britons who built it an
immense amount of labour.  It is the greatest British camp in
existence, stretching 1,000 yards from east to west, and 500 from north
to south, and enclosing an area of 45 acres.  The whole is surrounded,
in some places with two, and in others with three, ramparts nearly 60
feet high, and very steep.  When these ramparts were manned by the
warriors of the British tribe gathered within the fort, it was no easy
place to storm.

Wessex has not many rivers, and most of them are not of any great size,
but they are famous among fishermen for the splendid trout which they
breed.  These streams, running through the chalk, are marvellously
clear; in many cases the stones may be counted at the bottom of a pool
10 or 12 feet deep, and this clearness makes the catching of the trout
and grayling which live in them no easy affair.

The largest Wessex river is the Avon, which flows past Salisbury Plain,
with its wonderful monument of Stonehenge; passes through Salisbury,
whose beautiful cathedral spire is a famous landmark, and runs into the
English Channel.

Stonehenge is the most ancient of all the ancient monuments of Wessex.
We say that this camp was the work of the Britons; that pavement was
laid by the Romans; but no one knows what manner of men raised the
mighty standing-stones at Stonehenge.  Nor do we really know why they
were raised.  We believe it was for the purpose of worship--that the
stones form an ancient temple--but of this we cannot be quite sure.

Stonehenge consists of two circles of great stones, set upright in the
ground.  Across some of these stones others are placed to form arches,
and though many have been broken or thrown down, there are still enough
of them in position to show us the original shape of Stonehenge.  The
outer circle is about 100 yards round, and was formed by huge monoliths
or single blocks of stone, each 15 feet high and 7 feet broad.  The
inner circle is 8 feet from the outer, and is composed of smaller
stones about 6 feet high.  There are two ovals, formed of large stones,
and the inner oval contains a huge slab of rock, which is thought to
have been an altar.

The question at once springs to our lips, Who raised these enormous
blocks of stone, and set them up in so exact a fashion?  It is one
which learned men are unable to answer.  The general opinion is that
Stonehenge was formed as a temple for the worship led by the Druids,
the priests of the ancient Britons, but of this one cannot be certain.
The men who built Stonehenge have left no other record of their mighty
labours save the vast stones they raised, and the secret of this most
ancient monument is lost in the darkness of prehistoric days.


If we journey on south-west beyond the chalk ranges of Wessex we come
to a very different country indeed: we enter on a land of granite
hills.  The granite rocks are as different as possible from the chalk
heights.  Instead of rounded slopes, we see sharp, jagged peaks and
broken, rocky ridges.  The smooth, open stretches of turf are exchanged
for wild, heathery moorland, broken by deep dells, and the waterless
chalk slopes are replaced by glens, through which leap foaming torrents.

The granite hills rise to their wildest at Dartmoor, in the centre of
the county of Devon.  Dartmoor is a great tableland, from which spring
granite heights rising to nearly 1,800 feet above the sea.  For the
most part Dartmoor is uncultivated, a wilderness of barren moorland,
with lofty hills and jagged tors on every hand, here and there scored
by narrow valleys, which are often strewn with huge boulders of granite.

The tors are huge knobs or humps of granite, and the word has the same
meaning as "tower."  The most famous of them all is Yes Tor.  Round
these tors stretch great sweeps of moor and morass.  Nothing lives here
save the moorland sheep, who crop the rough grass between the tufts of
heather, and the hardy moor ponies--nimble, shaggy, little creatures,
with long manes and tails, quick as deer and surefooted as goats.

In the midst of this desolate country stands a great prison--Dartmoor
Convict Prison.  The place was chosen so that no convict could hope to
escape.  Many of the prisoners go out by day to work in the fields
around the prison.  They are closely watched by warders armed with
rifles.  But for all that, now and again a convict makes an attempt to
escape; yet, though he sometimes gets away from the warders and is free
for a few hours, he is almost certain to be recaptured.  He finds that
he has only got into a larger prison--the prison of the moorland.
There are no woods, so he cannot hide himself, and he cannot strike
which way he pleases, for there are the bogs to think of.

[Illustration: IN AN ENGLISH LANE]

In many places there are deep morasses in which a man would sink and be
swallowed up by the soft mud.  So the escaped prisoner dare not move by
night lest he should run into a bog; then by day, if he attempts to
traverse the country, he is soon seen; so that it is almost impossible
to escape from Dartmoor.

Another stretch of country dotted with tors and covered with moorland
is Exmoor, in the north of Devon.  The hills of Exmoor are famous for
their ponies and for being the haunts of the wild red-deer, which are
sometimes hunted with staghounds.

But not all the countryside consists of rocky table-lands, strewed with
craggy masses of granite.  Far from it.  Round these tors lies some of
the most beautiful and fertile land in all England.  North and south of
Dartmoor are sweeps of country which yield the richest farm and dairy
produce to be found anywhere.  Famous breeds of cattle and sheep graze
in the pastures.  Devonshire "cream" is known and loved wherever it
goes, and luscious cider is made from the apples of its splendid

Great numbers of visitors every year are drawn to this fair county to
behold its beauties and to stroll through the Devonshire lanes.  A
Devonshire lane in the cultivated portion of the countryside has hardly
its like elsewhere.  The land is red, the earth of the soft red
sandstone, and through this land the lanes run in deep, hollow ways,
often so deep that a carriage is quite hidden from the view of one
standing in the fields on either hand.  One writer speaks of driving in
a dogcart along one of these deep lanes on a day in late autumn, when
he heard the cry of hounds.  The hunt was coming his way, and he drew
rein.  Presently the hunt went whirling by, literally over his head.
Horsemen and horsewomen cleared the lane, one after the other, in
flying leaps, the big hunters taking the huge trench with tremendous

These trench-like lanes have been formed by the wear and tear of ages
of traffic.  In the soft red soil the crunch of wheels and the stamp of
hoofs have worn the surface down and down, and rain has washed away the
loose soil, until the lane itself has become, as it were, one vast rut.

"As lovely as a Devonshire lane" is a proverb; the rich red soil and
the soft warm air of this southern county work together to form a scene
of wonderful charm.  The steep banks are one glorious mass of ferns,
wild-flowers, and shrubs during spring and summer; in autumn they burn
with the fires of the fading leaves; in winter they are bright with

The coast-line of this region is very beautiful, whether it faces north
or south, to the Atlantic Ocean or the English Channel.  On the north
there are great beetling cliffs, with lovely valleys, called "combes,"
running down to the sea between them.  In describing the port of
Bideford, Kingsley gives us an admirable idea of North Devon scenery on
the first page of "Westward Ho!": "All who have travelled through the
delicious scenery of North Devon must needs know the little white town
of Bideford, which slopes upwards from its broad tide-river paved with
yellow sands, and many-arched old bridge, where salmon wait for
autumn's floods, toward the pleasant upland on the west.  Above the
town the hills close in, cushioned with deep oak woods, through which
juts here and there a crag of fern-fringed slate; below they lower, and
open more and more in softly-rounded knolls and fertile squares of red
and green, till they sink into the wide expanse of hazy flats, rich
salt marshes, and rolling sand-hills, where Torridge joins her sister
Taw, and both together flow quietly toward the broad surges of the bay
and the everlasting thunder of the long Atlantic swell.  Pleasantly the
old town stands there, beneath its soft Italian sky, fanned day and
night by the fresh ocean breeze, which forbids alike the keen winter
frosts and the fierce thunder heats of the midland."

A little to the west of Bideford lies the fishing village of Clovelly,
famous for its striking position and the great beauty of its
surroundings.  Clovelly lies in the cleft of a tall cliff, and its
single street straggles up and down the steep rock, upon which the
houses are perched in every nook and corner where room to set a
building could be found.  All about the place are wooded cliffs, and
for quaint old-world beauty this village is declared to be unmatched
along the whole English coast-line.

Near Torquay, a well-known watering-place of South Devon, is a very
remarkable cave called Kent's Cavern.  You gain it by a hole in the
rock, 7 feet wide and only 5 feet high; but inside you find a great
cavern, 600 feet long, with many smaller caves and corridors branching
away through the limestone rock.

This cavern was once the home of cave-men, those long-vanished
inhabitants of our land.  This has been proved by searching the floor
of the cave.  Deep down were discovered human bones and the remains of
tools and weapons.  Mingled with these were the bones of the elephant
and the rhinoceros, the hyena, the bear, and the wolf.  The tools and
weapons were of stone, and it is plain that the men who once lived in
the cave brought thither the wild animals they had slain with their
arrows and spears, headed with flint.  All this happened a long, long
time ago, for some of the animal remains belong to creatures who have
long since become extinct.

Torquay is but one of many lovely places lying along a splendid stretch
of coast, for the beauties of South Devon are as striking as those of
the north.  Cliffs of bright red sandstone stand above the bright blue
sea, and where the cliffs are absent the land falls easily to the
water, warm and fruitful to the edge of the tide in that mild, genial

"The rounded hills slope gently to the sea, spotted with squares of
emerald grass, and rich red fallow fields, and parks full of stately
timber trees.  Long lines of tall elms, just flashing green in the
spring hedges, run down to the very water's edge, their boughs unwarped
by any blast; and here and there apple orchards are just bursting into
flower in the soft sunshine, and narrow strips of water-meadows line
the glens, where the red cattle are already lounging knee-deep in rich
grass within two yards of the rocky, pebbly beach.  The shore is silent
now, the tide far out, but six hours hence it will be hurling columns
of rosy foam high into the sunlight, and sprinkling passengers, and
cattle, and trim gardens which hardly know what frost and snow may be,
but see the flowers of autumn meet the flowers of spring, and the old
year linger smilingly to twine a garland for the new."


Cornwall, that craggy promontory which England thrusts out into the
Atlantic as a man might thrust out his leg, is often called the "Land
of Saints."  It gains this name because every other village is named
after a saint, and for the most part they are saints unknown to the
calendar, and never heard of in other parts of the country.  There are
St. Cuby and St. Tudy, St. Piran and St. Ewe, St. Blazey and St. Eve,
St. Merryn and St. Buryan, St. Gennys and St. Issey, and scores of
other strangely-named saints.

The names of these saints take us back to a time when England was a
heathen country, and our Saxon forefathers still followed the worship
of Odin and Thor.  Cornwall, then, was filled with British Christians,
driven west before the Saxon inroads, and the land abounded with Celtic
saints, many of them from Ireland, Wales, and Brittany.

Every saint founded a church, bearing his name, and in time the village
which grew up around the church took the name, and often bears it to
this day.  The process of founding was in this fashion: When the saint,
during his wanderings through the land, came to a place where he
thought a church was needed, he begged a small piece of land from the
chief of the tribe living in that spot.  Upon this patch of territory
the saint abode, fasting and praying for forty days and nights, and at
the end of that period the patch of land was sacred to him for ever,
and bore his name.  Then he and his disciples built a church there, and
sometimes a monastery gathered about it.  When the saint had placed all
in order at one spot, he often moved on to another, and founded a fresh
church there.

The old saints were much loved by the people, for they were always
using their influence with the chiefs and great men on the side of
mercy and kindness towards the poor and helpless.  Many stories were
told of them, and are still remembered.  One day St. Columba was
walking along the road, when he saw a poor widow gathering
stinging-nettles.  He asked her why she did it, and she replied that
she was too poor to buy other food, and that she gathered nettles for
the pot.

"Then," said Columba, "while my people are so poor, I will eat no
better food."

He went back to the monastery and said to the disciple who prepared his
food: "From this day I will eat nothing but nettles."

But, after a time, the disciple saw that the good old man was getting
very thin and weak, and it troubled him.  So he took a hollow
elder-stalk, filled it with butter, and stirred the butter into the

"The nettles have a new taste," said St. Columba; "they are rich and
sweet.  I must see what you have put into them;" and he came to see
them cooked.

"You see, master dear," said his disciple, "I do not put anything into
the pot save this stick, with which I stir them."

In a rough and cruel age the saints taught people to be kind to
children and to poor dumb beasts and birds.  Here is a story of a saint
and a child.

There was a saint whose name was St. Maccarthen, and the ruler of his
countryside was King Eochaid.  One day the king sent his little son
with a message to the saint.  The little boy's mother gave him a red,
round apple to eat on the way.  The boy played with his pretty apple as
he went, tossing it up and catching it.  As it happened, it rolled from
him and was lost.  The child hunted here and there until he was tired
out, and as the sun was setting he laid himself down in the middle of
the way and went to sleep.  As he slept, St. Maccarthen came along the
road.  The saint at once wrapped his mantle round the sleeping child,
and sat beside him all night to guard his slumber.  Many people passed
along the way, but the saint turned them aside, for he would neither
break the child's slumber nor permit an accident to befall him.

Many a saint had not only a church named after him, but a well also.
Cornwall is full of "holy wells."  In former days these wells were held
to possess miraculous powers, and people came from great distances to
drink the sacred water and make vows to the saint in whose honour the
well was named.  One of the best-known of these wells is the Well of
St. Keyne.  It was believed that, in the case of a newly-married
couple, the first to drink of the water of this well would hold the
mastery of the household.  Southey has a ballad on this subject,
describing how a bridegroom hurried from the church to the well.  But
all in vain: his wife had taken a bottle of the water to church with

Cornwall is a land of bleak, rugged granite heights and desolate moors,
with lovely dells nestling amid the wilderness, combes filled with
trees, and fields whose grass is green the winter through.  Its coast
is for the most part very dangerous, with immense cliffs, broken but by
few openings.  It is a coast to which the sailor gives a wide berth,
especially in stormy weather, and if he fails to do so, he will almost
certainly pay the penalty with his life.  Many terrible shipwrecks have
taken place off the shores of Cornwall, especially upon the deadly
Manacles, the great reef near the Lizard, and the churchyards in the
neighbourhood are full of the graves of many and many a drowned man or
woman tossed up on the beach near at hand.

If you should go for a stroll on the cliffs about the Lizard some fine
morning in July, you would see fishermen there, smoking and staring out
to sea in, as it would seem to you, an idle fashion.  But, suddenly,
one of them, who has been sitting on the turf, springs to his feet.  He
begins to leap and yell as if he had gone mad.  He points out to sea,
and begins to roar over the edge of the cliff to his friends below.
His companions on the watch now show an equal excitement, and you
wonder what it is all about.  You look long at the place to which they
are pointing, and at length you make out that there is a darkish patch
of water over which a number of sea-birds are hovering.  It is a vast
shoal of pilchards coming in-shore, and the apparent idlers on the
cliff were watching for it.


The men on the cliff are called "huers"--shouters (from the French
_huer_, to shout)--and their cries and signals direct their friends in
the boats which way to pull to surround the shoal.  From the surface
the shoal cannot be seen, but the "huers" aloft can make out every
movement of the vast mass offish, and guide the fishermen below.

A pilchard is a fish which looks much like a herring, but it is
smaller, though it has larger scales.  The shoals appear at the end of
June, but at that time they are in deep water, and the fishing-smacks
sail out in search of them and put down drift-nets.  These nets are
hung in the water like walls of hemp set across the drift of the tide.
The pilchards swim into the nets, thrust their heads through the
meshes, and are caught by the gills.  This kind of fishing can only be
carried on by night, for the pilchards are too keen-sighted to swim
into the meshes by day.

As the season advances, the pilchards come nearer in-shore, and now the
great season of the pilchard-fishery arrives.  A great shoal of
pilchards is a marvellous sight.  The sea appears to be literally
packed solid with them.  The surface boils with their movement, and
numbers are seen leaping out of the water like trout in a stream.  Now
the fishermen get out their mighty seine-nets and prepare to wall up
the multitude of pilchards.

Guided by the "huers," they shoot the great nets around the shoal till
it is enclosed.  Then smaller nets are shot into the great net, and in
these the fish are drawn to the surface beside the waiting boats.  It
is a wonderful sight to see the net come up.  It is filled with one
quivering mass of silver, and into this mass the fishermen dip baskets
and toss the fish into the boats by scores and hundreds.  When a boat
is filled, it heads at once for the shore, and a waiting boat takes its
place; and so it goes on till the great seine-net is empty.

On shore the scene is every whit as busy as on sea.  Every living soul
in the fishing village swarms down to the beach to lend a hand.  The
boats are rapidly emptied, and sail or pull back to the shoal; the
workers ashore carry the fish to the cellars, where the women take them
in hand.  Anything and everything that will carry fish is pressed into
service.  The pilchards are piled on donkey-carts, wheelbarrows, and
hand-carts; two boys have a clothes-basket between them, and small
children carry a dozen or two in little baskets.  Into the cellars go
the fish as swiftly as possible.

A fish-cellar for pilchards is usually cut out of the rock, and the
floor is covered with a layer of salt.  Upon this salt the women
engaged in the task of curing the fish spread a complete layer of
pilchards.  Salt is spread again till the fish are covered, and then
comes another layer of pilchards; and in this way, by alternate layers
of salt and fish, the cellar is filled.  On top of all are placed
weighted boards to press out the water and oil from the mass below, and
the cellar is left for some weeks for the fish to cure.  Then it is
opened, and the salted fish are packed in barrels and sent away to


England's greatest poet was born in the heart of the land, in "leafy
Warwickshire."  His early home, Stratford-on-Avon, lies beside a
pleasant stream, flowing gently through a pleasant country.
Warwickshire has no scenes of wild and striking grandeur to offer to
the traveller; it can boast of no craggy rocks or rushing torrents, but
it is full of quiet loveliness.  It is a county of rich meadow-land,
watered by slow-flowing streams and brooks, broken and diversified by
most picturesque woodland scenery, and its highways and byways wend by
splendid parks, and past castles and mansions rich in tradition, quaint
and beautiful in architecture.

Stratford-on-Avon stands to-day, as it stood of old, in "a sweet and
pleasant place of good pasturage and watering."  Beside it flows the
clear Avon, and around it spread lovely meadows and fertile corn-lands,
while many a leafy byway or field-path leads to the quaint old-world
villages which lie in the neighbourhood, and with which Shakespeare was

In the town itself, the chief centre of interest is the house in which
he was born.  It stands in Henley Street--a quaint, half-timbered,
two-storied building, with dormer windows and a wooden porch.  The
house has been much altered since Shakespeare's day, for it was used
for more than 200 years as a dwelling-house, and finally came down to
being a butcher's shop.  At last, towards the middle of the nineteenth
century, the house was purchased by the nation, and restored as nearly
as possible to the appearance it must have presented when Shakespeare's

After the birthplace comes the burial-place, and this is in the chancel
of Holy Trinity Church, whose tall spire rises so beautifully beside
the placid Avon.  The church stands on a terrace beside the river,
almost embosomed in trees, and approached by a pleasant avenue of
limes.  Everyone visits it to see the monument and grave of
Shakespeare.  A bust of the great poet is placed on the north wall of
the chancel, and his grave lies below, and within the altar-rails.
Here we may read the well-known lines:


Why did Shakespeare write these lines?  Because in those days graves
were very often disturbed, and he wished his remains to lie at peace in
the grave which, very likely, he had chosen for himself.

A most interesting place is the Guild Hall, a fine old half-timbered
building erected in 1296, and used for hundreds of years as a Town
Hall.  With this building Shakespeare was very familiar, and it is
probable that here he became acquainted with plays and players, for
performances were given in it during Shakespeare's boyhood by
travelling companies.

Above the Guild Hall is the famous Grammar School, where Shakespeare
learned the "small Latin and less Greek" of which Ben Jonson spoke.
The desk which he is said to have used now stands in the Museum formed
at the birthplace.

When Shakespeare returned from London to spend his last years in his
native town, he bought a fine house called New Place, and in the garden
he planted a mulberry-tree.  Nearly 150 years after the death of
Shakespeare the property came into the hands of a clergyman named
Gastrell, a man of violent and selfish temper.  First he became angry
because visitors to the town often asked permission to view the famous
mulberry-tree which the great poet had planted, and he cut the tree
down.  But much worse was to follow.

After a time a quarrel arose between Gastrell and the authorities of
Stratford over the payment of rates for New Place.  In his anger, the
furious clergyman actually pulled down to the ground Shakespeare's own
home and sold the materials.  Now nothing remains but the site and a
few traces of the foundations.

When the visitor has seen the memorials of Shakespeare, he will take a
pleasant walk of about a mile from Stratford to Shottery, to see Anne
Hathaway's cottage there.  It is a picturesque, half-timbered, thatched
cottage, in which it is supposed that Shakespeare's wife spent her
maiden days, but the theory is by no means certain.  It is known that
in Shakespeare's time the cottage was tenanted by one Richard Hathaway,
who had a daughter Anne or Agnes, and there is some evidence to connect
this Anne with the Anne Hathaway whom the poet married, but of distinct
proof there is none.  Still, tradition is in favour of the belief, and
the cottage has now been acquired by the trustees of Shakespeare's

Many days may easily and pleasantly be spent in excursions around
Stratford, visiting one after another of the pretty villages which the
poet knew, and the places with which his name is connected.  The best
time of all is in spring or early summer, when

  "Daisies pied, and violets blue,
    And lady-smocks all silver-white,
  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
    Do paint the meadows with delight."

Then the way is shaded by the tender foliage of the noble elms, which
flourish so mightily in this deep, strong soil that the elm is
sometimes called the "Warwickshire weed."

About four miles from Stratford stands a fine old Elizabethan
manor-house, Charlecote, in whose deer-park tradition says that
Shakespeare went poaching.  Many old accounts of the poet's life state
that he left Stratford and went to London in fear of Sir Thomas Lucy of
Charlecote, whose deer he had stolen from the park.  It is not at all
certain that this happened, but that Shakespeare did not like Sir
Thomas Lucy is very plain from his works.  In "The Merry Wives of
Windsor" there is a "Mr. Justice Shallow," of whom the poet makes great
fun, and draws in a very ridiculous light.  It is clear from many
little touches that Shakespeare had Sir Thomas Lucy in his mind when he
drew this portrait of a pompous country squire.

The mansion of Charlecote is of great interest in itself as a perfect
specimen of an Elizabethan manor-house.  Save for a couple of rooms
added to the structure, it stands exactly as Sir Thomas Lucy built it
in 1558.  It was built originally with a front and two projecting
wings, and it was visited by Queen Elizabeth in 1572.  In honour of
this visit Sir Thomas added a porch and adorned it with the Queen's
arms and monogram.  By this addition the plan of the house was made to
exactly resemble a capital E, and thus commemorate the royal visit.

Charlecote is approached from the road through an ancient gatehouse, a
most beautiful and picturesque building which opens upon a courtyard or
walled flower-garden, and the whole place is in most perfect order and
preservation.  It is an Elizabethan home lasting unchanged until the
twentieth century.


England is full of castles, abbeys, and manor-houses, which are still
occupied by the descendants of those who built them or by those into
whose hands they have passed in later days, and among these stately
piles it is hard to pick one as a type of a fine old English house.
But, putting aside the great castles, like Warwick, whose frowning
walls and grim battlements tell of an age when defence was the first
thought in the mind of a builder, let us take a mansion erected at a
more peaceful time.  Such a mansion is to be found in Compton Wynyates,
a fine old Warwickshire house, built in 1509.

Compton Wynyates stands in a very secluded spot, some twelve miles from
Stratford, hidden away in a thickly-wooded dell.  You approach the
house along a mere byway, and do not see it until you are close upon
it.  Then a picturesque medley of gables, turrets, battlements and
chimneys, springs to view, and you stand to wonder at so splendid a
house being built in so hidden and solitary a place.


Compton Wynyates was built at a time when the bare lofty walls of a
castle-keep were being deserted for the brighter, more cheerful rooms
of a mansion whose walls were pierced by many windows.  But at the same
time it was not wise to live entirely without protection, so a moat was
dug round the house and entrance could only be gained by a drawbridge.
In our quiet days a bridge of stone has replaced the wooden bridge
which rose and fell, but the old oak doors which once barred the
archway leading to the house are still in position, and we can see upon
them the marks of musket-balls fired at the defenders of the place in
troublous times.

Let us go into the great hall, the chief room of an old house--the room
where once the whole family dined together at a long table, the master
and his friends above the salt, the servants and humbler guests below.
The hall rises the full height of the house, and has a fine timbered
roof, and at one end is the minstrels' gallery, a picturesque
half-timbered structure, the place where minstrels made merry music at
some feast or on the visit of some great personage.

In the hall stands a huge slab of elm more than 23 feet long and some
30 inches wide.  It was once used for playing "shovel-board," a
favourite game with our ancestors, and when in use was set up on

In this hall Sir William Compton received Henry VIII., whom Sir William
had accompanied to the Field of the Cloth of Gold.  Sir William, too,
had won much distinction at the Battle of Spurs, and was a great
favourite with bluff King Hal, to whom the knight owed much of his
great fortune.

Next to the hall is the great parlour, the private room of the family
when they withdrew from the hall.  It is finely panelled in oak, and
has a plaster ceiling, bearing the arms of the owners of the place.
Beyond the parlour is the chapel, decorated with very ancient carved
wooden panels.  These carvings are very much older than the house, and
it is believed they were brought from an old castle which Sir William
Compton pulled down in order to obtain materials for his house.

But it will be impossible for us to go from room to room of this
wonderful old house, for there are more than eighty of
them--drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, bedrooms, great kitchens with vast
old fireplaces, and gained by seventeen separate staircases, which wind
and twist their way through the building.  It is said there are 275
windows in the house, though an old story goes that no one knows
exactly how many there are, for he who tries to count is baffled by a
mysterious secret window, which he sees and counts on the first
occasion, and can never find again.  Its chimneys, too, rise in a
veritable forest of quaintly-shaped stacks, and form as puzzling a
labyrinth as the windows.

There was a meaning in this tangle of windows and chimneys, for Compton
Wynyates is full of secret hiding-places.  Hundreds of years ago there
was need of them.  To-day no man needs to hide himself unless he has
done wrong.  Then, an innocent man might stand in great danger of a
powerful enemy or of an unjust law.  So the old houses were furnished
with places where men could hide from their foes until an opportunity
came for escape.

Again, Compton Wynyates was a Catholic house, and in those times Roman
Catholics were punished if they were found attending a Roman Catholic
service, and the priest who performed the service stood in danger of
imprisonment or, possibly, of death.  So places were carefully
constructed to which the priest could fly to hide himself when officers
of the law came to the house in search of him.  Many such secret
chambers are found in old mansions, and are known as "priests' holes."

It was a common thing to form a secret chamber in the thickness of a
wall, and the first thing required was air, the second light.  Air was
often given to a secret chamber by a chimney.  But such a chimney
remained unblackened by smoke, and would soon be detected as not doing
its proper work, so it was often built in the centre of a stack of real
chimneys, and thus remained hidden.  So, too, amid a great number of
other windows, it was not easy to detect that which gave light to a
hidden room.  At Compton Wynyates such is the tangle of windows and
chimneys that a person may have pointed out to him the chimney and the
window belonging to a secret room, and yet fail to discover the place
when he searches inside.

One of the secret rooms at Compton Wynyates was discovered by a child
of the house, Lady Frances Compton, in 1770.  She was playing in a
turret room, and fell against some plaster-work, which rang hollow.
Search was made, and a concealed door was found beneath the plaster.
The hidden chamber was opened, and tradition says that the skeletons of
a woman and two children were found within.  No one knows how they came
there, but it is believed that at some time of danger they had been
concealed there and forgotten.

In the roof of this great building is the famous priests' room or
chapel.  Here the Roman Catholics of the neighbourhood used to meet to
worship in secret.  A safer and better hidden place could not be
devised.  To this day the proof that it was a Roman Catholic chapel
remains to be seen.  "On an elm shelf below the south-west window are,
rudely carved, five consecration crosses, showing that it had been used
for the purpose of an altar, and was consecrated according to the rites
of the Romish Church.  The slab of wood is unique, in that it forms the
only known instance of a wooden altar in England."

There was another huge room in the roof, 130 feet long, which was known
as the Barracks, a place where soldiers were quartered.  Here may be
seen blood-stains, caused by fighting during the Great Civil War.  The
house was held for the King, but the Roundhead soldiery broke in, and
there was desperate fighting in the Barracks, and many were slain.
Cromwell's men took the house, and held it for the rest of the war.

In one of the drawing-rooms may be seen, carved beautifully in the
panelling, the arms of the Comptons and the arms of the Spencers, and
this carving bears witness to a very romantic marriage.  In the days of
Queen Elizabeth there was a Lord Mayor of London whose name was Sir
John Spencer.  Sir John was a very rich man, and he had an only
daughter named Elizabeth.  Now, the Lord Compton of that day fell in
love with Elizabeth Spencer, but the wealthy merchant did not look with
any favour on Compton, and forbade him to come near the house.  But the
young lady herself did not share her father's feelings with regard to
the young courtier, and soon a clever ruse was planned.

One day a young man, dressed as a baker, came to the house with a huge
basket of loaves of bread.  As he was going away again, with the great
basket on his shoulders, he met Sir John himself.  The wealthy merchant
thought that here was a hard-working young fellow going heartily about
his business.  He praised him, gave him sixpence, and told him that he
was on the high-road to make his fortune.  So he was, but not quite as
Sir John thought.  The disguised baker was Lord Compton, and in the
basket he was carrying off the young heiress, Elizabeth Spencer.

When Sir John learned of the trick that had been played on him he was
furious, and vowed that he would never see his daughter again.  But
Queen Elizabeth took an interest in the affair, and finally brought
about a reconciliation, and the arms of the two families were placed in
the drawing-room to show that peace was restored between Sir John and
the young people.


From hills and slopes, dales and uplands, we will take our departure
and look at the flattest land of England, the wide, level stretches of
country around the Wash, the Fens.  A fen is a marsh, and once these
immense stretches of flat land were marshes pure and simple.  There is
plenty of water about them now, but it is penned up by dikes and
embankments, and run off by drains as big as rivers.

It is often said that those who care for Dutch landscape have no need
to leave our own country to enjoy it, for the Fenland is Holland in
miniature.  There may be seen the same long flat stretches of country,
cut by long, straight canals bordered by willow and alder; the same
kind of dikes making the same fight against the encroaching sea, the
windmills pumping water into drains and out of some pool which is being
reclaimed; the green fields deep in grass, and the dark peat-cuttings
whence the peasantry obtain their fuel.

It is nearly 300 years since a beginning was made of draining the Fens.
Before that time the whole country was one great marsh, through which
slow-moving streams crept to the sea.  Very often vast tracts were
completely under water.  Perhaps there was heavy rain and a flood ran
down the rivers; it might be met by a high tide sweeping far up the
low, flat river-beds.  The flood and the tide met, and the water rose
high above the shallow banks, and converted the land into a huge morass.

It is significant that the earliest drainers of the Fens were Dutchmen,
who directed Dutch labourers.  These men knew what had been done in
their native Holland in the way of reclaiming land, and they saw that
good land could be made in the Fens if the water could only be kept in
its proper place.  So they began to raise embankments, to scour out the
channels of rivers, to build sluices, and to pump the water out of
standing pools.

The drainers had to make a great struggle with the forces of Nature;
they had almost a severer and sterner fight still with the Fen-folk.
The latter had been born and bred amid their wild watery wilderness,
and loved it.  Their cottages were raised here and there wherever a
patch of dry earth showed itself above the bog, and they traversed the
Fens far and wide in their boats or on foot.  When afoot, each man
carried his long leaping-pole over his shoulder.  With its aid he would
skim like a bird over a stream or pool, and so make his way where
another man would have found his path hopelessly blocked.

The Fen-men made a living by catching the fish which swarmed in the
countless waterways, and by snaring the birds which haunted the wide
reed-beds in vast flocks.  They felt great anger at the thought of
their marshes being turned to dry land, and one of their ballads gives
their opinion very clearly:

  "Come, Brethren of the water, and let us all assemble
  To treat upon this Matter which makes us quake and tremble;
  For we shall Rue, if it be true that Fens be undertaken;
  And where we feed in Fen and reed, they'll feed both Beef and Bacon.

  "They'll sow both Bean and Oats, where never man yet thought it;
  Where men did row in Boats ere Undertakers bought it;
  But, Ceres, thou behold us now, let wild oats be their venture,
  Oh, let the Frogs and miry Bogs destroy where they do enter."

The Fen-men fought hard against the improvements, and broke down dikes
and burst open sluices, but in the end the drainers outlived these
attacks, and the works were built.

Generation after generation has drained and diked and embanked until,
at the present day, we may cross vast stretches of fruitful country
bearing splendid crops of corn and potatoes, which were once wild
marsh-land and impassable morass.  And so it soon would be again if the
utmost care was not taken.  The sea--the hungry sea--is always ready to
break in; the rivers are always ready to break their bounds; but the
former is held at bay by dikes, and the latter are kept in bounds by
strong embankments, and every defence is closely watched.

It is strange to find here and there places in the Fens called
islands--as, for instance, the Isle of Ely--places far from the sea.
But once they were real islands rising from the waters of the vast
marsh.  Perhaps the dry, firm land of which they consisted only rose a
few feet above the level of the water, but it enabled the Fen-men to
build their cottages, to pasture their sheep and cattle, to grow their
corn, and to plant fruit-trees.

The most famous of these islands was the Isle of Ely, a patch of dry
land seven miles long and four miles broad, well remembered as one of
the last strongholds of the Saxons against William the Conqueror.  But
the vast morass which once surrounded Ely has long been drained and
converted into fruitful soil, forming the immense flat amidst which
rises in stately and majestic fashion the noble cathedral of Ely.

Yet the sea is not altogether the loser in the battle with man along
this coast.  Much land has been won from it, much land has been lost to
it, and is being lost to this day.  The low shores of Norfolk and
Suffolk, south of the Wash, are being steadily worn away in places by
the attacks of the sea, and year by year the low cliffs fall before the
waves of some great storm, and the sea makes a fresh inroad upon the

At Cromer, the well-known watering-place, the old town is under water.
The present town is quite new, and out to sea lie the houses of the
Cromer of past days, covered with seaweed, and with the fish swimming
up and down the streets where once the Cromer folk went about their
business.  At low tides the ancient dwellings and ways can still be
clearly traced.

Still farther out to sea lie the remains of a yet older village, called
Shipden.  Five hundred years ago Shipden was a port on the seaward side
of Cromer, but harbour, village, and church were swallowed up by the
waves.  The church tower was built of flint, as is the custom of the
East Country, and so well had the old masons done their work that a
piece of the tower is at times seen by the fishermen about 400 yards
out to sea, and they call it "the Church Rock."

The same story is told of many other places.  Towns, villages,
churches, have been swallowed, either little by little or at one great
gulp, by the never-resting sea.  So serious are these inroads that
plans are being formed by Government to check the rush of the sea and
keep the waves in bounds.


A great feature of the county of Norfolk is the Broads--wide stretches
of water connected by rivers and streams, large and small--a district
beloved by yachtsmen and fishermen.  All who love to sail a boat find
the Broads a summer paradise.  They can go by innumerable waterways
from lake to lake, from pool to pool, from mere to mere, through a wide

A summer journey by boat through this land of streams and pools is a
very pleasant excursion.  The traveller must fit out his yacht with
plenty of food, for the region is lonely, and houses and inns few and
far between.  Very particular people carry fresh water as well, for the
drinking water drawn from the marshy soil is a very doubtful liquid;
the watermen who live on the Broads just dip up what they want from the
river, and there are those who say that the plan is as good as any.

Even better than a yacht for a trip through the Broads is the local
barge, a Norfolk wherry.  The Norfolk wherry is a true descendant of
the Viking longship, once so well known along this coast.  It is a
long, low boat, broad and roomy, drawing very little water, and sailing
very fast.  It has one huge brown sail, which is hoisted forward, right
in the bow; and to see a big wherry cracking at full speed across a
great broad with a favouring wind is to see a very fine sight indeed.
Stranger still is it to look across an open stretch of grassy country
and see brown sails dotting, as it seems, the surface of the fields.
They belong to wherries slipping along some hidden waterway.

The sides of the Broads and rivers are often marshy, and dotted with
rushy and reedy islets in the most picturesque fashion.  Among these
islets lie innumerable little pools called "pulks."  From the islets
pheasants may be often flushed in summer and autumn, and coot in
winter; from the "pulks" may be taken large baskets of fish.

The quantity of fish, especially in the remoter or preserved portion of
the Broads, is almost incredible, and anglers often reckon their catch
by the stone weight instead of the number of fish.  A single "pulk"
will often afford a good basket, and a well-known fishing writer says:
"Once while yachting on the Norfolk Broads, we were lying at anchor
close to the shore.  About a yard from our bows was a clear pool amid
the weeds, about 6 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep.  This was
literally as full as it could be of roach and rudd swimming to and fro;
the brilliant sunshine lit up the red and silver and gold of the fishes
as they hovered over the bright green weed, and the whole made as
pretty a sight as I have ever seen of the kind."

When winter comes, yachts and wherries are laid up, and summer
visitants fly away with the swallows; yet the Broads are not deserted.
The sharp weather fills them with myriads of wild-fowl--ducks and
geese, snipe and widgeon--and the wild-fowl hunter is out in his
slate-coloured punt.  The boat is painted of this colour in order to
blend with its surroundings and escape notice, and in its bow is fixed
a huge gun, often throwing half a pound of large shot at a single
discharge.  When this gun is fired into a flock of wild-duck, it will
often fetch down ten or a dozen at once, and the skilful punt-shooter
soon makes a big bag.

Then, perhaps, comes sharper weather still, and the punts can no longer
move over the ice-bound waters.  This is the time of the skater's
festival, and a nobler skating-ground can nowhere be found.  Over river
and pool and broad he flies, with unnumbered miles of clear, open ice
before him.


The huge county of Yorkshire has many claims on our attention.  It has
vast manufacturing centres, and in some parts it is crowded thickly
with towns and villages, packed with mills, and studded with lofty
chimneys which belch out unceasing clouds of smoke.  Then, again, it
has a splendid coast-line, with noble cliffs and rocky headlands,
dotted with quaint fishing villages and tiny ports, whence the "cobles"
put out to sea with hardy fishermen aboard.  And, striking right away
inland, it can show some of the most beautiful scenery in its dales and
fells that our country has to show.

Putting busy town and breezy fishing village aside for the moment, we
will go up to the lofty moorland heights of this "county of the broad
acres" and see some of their beauties, and hear some of the tales which
linger around their quiet, grey stone villages.

On the western side of Yorkshire the land heaves up to the Pennine
Chain--the "backbone of England," as it is often called.  It is not a
chain of sharply-defined peaks; it is rather a great mass of rolling
moorland whose tablelands, the "fells," are divided from each other by
deep valleys, long and narrow--the famous "dales."  At the foot of each
dale flows a swift river, which, twisting and turning round sharp
angles of rock, leaping from ledge to ledge in sheets of foam, or
gliding in deep quiet stretches below an overhanging wood, affords most
striking and picturesque scenery.

There are many points at which the explorer may strike into the hills
from the more level and cultivated part of the county.  But perhaps the
best of all is to enter the dales at Richmond, a beautiful old town
beside the River Swale.  It matters not from which point you approach
Richmond, there is one feature of the view which catches the eye at
once--the magnificent fashion in which the splendid Norman keep of its
castle rises above the little town.  The stately tower stands up
four-square to every wind, just as its Norman builders left it 800
years ago, and around it cluster the red roofs of the town, just as
they gathered there for shelter during the Middle Ages.

From Richmond the Valley of the Swale runs up into the Pennines, and
the journey along it must be made by foot or carriage, for no railway
has penetrated the solitudes of Swaledale, and, as far as one may look
into the future in such matters, there seems every possibility of this
loveliest and grandest of the Yorkshire dales retaining its isolation
in this respect.  About a mile from the town there is a lofty cliff
called Whitcliffe Scar, whence the spectator may see far up the dale
whither he proposes to journey.  The country people call the Scar
"Willance's Leap," and it has borne this name since 1606.  In that year
a certain Robert Willance was out hunting, and a great mist came down
the dale and wrapped the hills.  So thick was the fog that Willance
could scarcely see a yard before him, and suddenly he found himself on
the verge of the Scar.  It was too late to check or turn his horse:
both went headlong over the lofty cliff, and were hurled to its foot.
The horse was killed on the spot, but in some miraculous fashion the
rider found himself alive at the foot of the precipice, his worst
injury a broken leg.  Full of wonder and thankfulness, Willance erected
inscribed stones to commemorate his marvellous escape, and the stones
are still to be seen at that point of the cliff from which he fell.  He
also presented a silver cup in memory of this event to Richmond, and
the cup remains in the possession of the town.

Pushing westwards through the bold and striking scenery of the dale, we
pass glen after glen, each with its little beck, its moorland stream.
At times the headlands spring up so abruptly as almost to shut in the
dale, and in times of storm the thunder rumbles from wall to wall of
the glen with tremendous echoes.  Wonderful at such times of heavy rain
is it to see how swiftly the little brooks become swollen, how the main
stream becomes a raging, foaming torrent.  Then we understand why the
bridges are so high and strong.  They had seemed far too large for the
little river pushing over the stones: they seem none too strong now to
withstand the terrific rush of flood-water sent down from the broad
faces of the fells.

As we gain the higher parts of the dale, trees and corn and rich
meadow-land are left behind.  The farms are sheep-farms, and the moors
stretch on every hand.  The houses are strongly built of grey stone,
and where there are fields, grey stone walls divide them, for hedges
cannot grow on these windy, storm-swept heights.

It is striking to note how the houses and barns match the grey
hill-sides.  Not only are the walls of grey stone, but they are roofed
with slabs of stone also, and these weather to beautiful shades of
green and grey, and blend perfectly with the prevailing hue.

"In the upper portions of the dales--even in the narrow riverside
pastures--the fences are of stone, turned a very dark colour by
exposure, and everywhere on the slopes of the hills a wide network of
these enclosures can be seen traversing even the steepest ascents.  The
stiles that are the fashion in the stone-fence districts make quite an
interesting study to strangers, for, wood being an expensive luxury,
and stone being extremely cheap, everything is formed of the more
enduring material.  Instead of a trap-gate, one generally finds a very
narrow opening in the fences, only just giving space for the thickness
of the average knee, and thus preventing the passage of the smallest
lamb.  Some stiles are constructed with a large flat stone projecting
from each side, one slightly in front and overlapping the other, so
that one can only pass through by making a very careful S-shaped
movement.  More common are the projecting stones, making a flight of
steps up one side of the wall and down the other."

From the head of Swaledale a wild road crosses the fells to
Wensleydale, the next great glen.  The road bears the strange name of
Buttertubs Pass, because it passes the edges of some vast chasms
called, from their shape, the Buttertubs.  There is no path leading to
the depths of these immense holes, but men have been let down into them
by ropes, and there found the bones of lost sheep which had fallen down
the sides.  It is a most unsafe road for a stranger to traverse, above
all, if night is falling.  The way runs along the lip of these
frightful descents, and is very lonely.  If a passer-by fell into one
of these huge hollows, he would never be heard of again.

The road is freely used by the dalesfolk, save when winter snowdrifts
block the passage, when it becomes too dangerous even for them.  Snow
is a terrible enemy on these bleak heights if it makes its appearance
in earnest.  The great snowstorm of January, 1895, will long be
remembered, for it "blocked the roads between Wensleydale and Swaledale
until nearly the middle of March.  Roads were cut out, with walls of
snow on either side from 10 to 15 feet in height, but the wind and
fresh falls blocked the passages soon after they had been cut.  The
difficulties of the dales-folk in the farms and cottages were
extraordinary, for they were faced with starvation owing to the
difficulty of getting in provisions.  They cut ways through the drifts
as high as themselves in the direction of the likeliest places to
obtain food, while in Swaledale they built sledges."

Buttertubs Pass leads us to Hawes, a quiet little town lying among
splendid hill scenery; and not far from Hawes is Semmerwater, the only
piece of water in Yorkshire that really deserves to be called a lake.
There is an old Yorkshire legend which gives Semmerwater a miraculous

"Where the water now covers the land," says the story, "there used to
stand a small town, and to it there once came an angel disguised as a
poor and ill-clad beggar.  The old man slowly made his way along the
street from one house to another asking for food, but at each door he
was sent empty away.  He went on, therefore, until he came to a poor
little cottage outside the town.  Although the couple who lived there
were almost as old and as poor as himself, the beggar asked for
something to eat, as he had done at the other houses.  The old folks at
once asked him in, and, giving him bread, milk, and cheese, urged him
to pass the night under their roof.  Then, in the morning, when the old
man was about to take his departure, came the awful doom upon the
inhospitable town, for the beggar held up his hands, and said:

  "'Semmerwater, rise!  Semmerwater, sink!
  And swallow the town, all save this house,
  Where they gave me meat and drink.'"

Of course, the waters obeyed the disguised angel; and, for proof, have
we not the existence of the lake, and is there not also pointed out an
ancient little cottage standing alone at the lower end of the lake?"

[Illustration: AN ENGLISH COTTAGE]


In the far north-west of our land stands a group of bold rocky
mountains known as the Cumbrian Group.  Here rise well-known peaks, the
highest land in England--Scafell, Helvellyn, Skiddaw--and among the
peaks lie many most beautiful lakes.

This lovely stretch of country is called the Lake District, and every
year great numbers of people go to climb the rugged, broken heights, or
to wander beside the shores of these pleasant stretches of water in
this playground of England.

The great charm of the countryside lies in the wonderful variety of its
scenery, and all the scenes so beautiful.  The traveller passing
through the land by coach or motor traverses, perhaps, a frowning pass,
where huge bare rocks rise in gloomy grandeur, and the scene is one of
savage desolation.  He gets a glimpse of a still wilder nook as he
passes the mouth of some "ghyll" (a cleft in the rocks), from whose
dark recesses a "force" (a wild, rushing torrent) is madly pouring.
Then he whirls round a corner, rolls down a slope, and the scene is
changed as if by magic.  He enters a quiet vale shut in by the hills,
its level floor covered with sweet verdant meadows where the cattle
feed, its face dotted with the quaint grey stone houses of shepherds
and cottagers, and the "force," now a quiet, shining brook, winding its
silver links over the face of the tiny valley.

On rolls the coach, and now a vaster prospect opens out--a prospect
almost filled by a wide sheet of clear bright water, one of the great
lakes of the country, and the road runs along the shore, skirting bays,
crossing tributary streams, passing under shade of the pleasant woods
that fringe the shore, and bringing to view at every turn some fresh
beauty in the ever-changing scene.

The largest of all the lakes is Windermere, a splendid sheet of water
about eleven miles long and one mile wide.  It may be seen admirably
from the deck of a lake steamer which runs from end to end.  On a
summer day the great lake is a picture of beauty: its bosom is dotted
with white-sailed yachts, while pleasure-boats glide from island to
island or from shore to shore.  Like a great river the lake winds
between its banks till northwards it is shut in by lofty hills, which
spring from the water's edge.  The lakeside is dotted with pretty
houses, peeping from amidst groves of trees, with grey old farms lying
among meadows and cornfields.

[Illustration: IN AN ENGLISH WOOD]

At a point where the road from the town of Kendal runs down to the
waterside there is a ferry across the lake.  From time immemorial the
dalesmen and market-folk have crossed Windermere at this point, and it
is known as The Ferry.

"There are legends to tell of this Ferry.  The most sinister is of an
awful voice which on wild nights began to peal across the turmoil,
'Boat!'  Once a bold ferry-man answered the call, put off his boat, and
rowed into the storm and darkness.  Half an hour later he returned with
boat swamping and without a passenger.  The boatman's face was ashen
with terror; he was dumb.  Next day he died.  No boatman, after this
incident, could be prevailed to put off in darkness, so a priest was
summoned from the Holy Holme.  With bell and book he raised the
skulking demon.  At mid-day there was the voice of storm in the air,
though, mindful of the call of the Master on Galilee, the waters fell
calm.  Voices argued with the priest, whose cross, firmly planted by
the edge of the lake, was surrounded by terror-struck lake-men.  At the
end of a long altercation the demon released from thrall the soul of
the boatman, and craved for mercy.  For its peace, the priest laid the
evil thing in the depths, there to remain until 'dry-shod men walk on
Winander [the lake] and trot their ponies through the solid crags.'"

As we advance into the northern basin of the great lake, the scene
grows in grandeur.  "Over a vast plain of water the distant mountains
seem to hang.  There are misty indications of level meadows and
woodlands next the water, but the charm lies in the craggy, shaggy
braes and the uprising summits."

The voyage is ended at Ambleside, on the northern shore, where we take
coach along the Rydal road to see some of the best-known parts of
Lakeland, famous not only for their beauty, but also because the great
poet Wordsworth lived there, and wrote of the lovely scenes which
surrounded his home.  Our way will take us by Rydal Water into lovely
Grasmere, a sweet valley dotted with tiny lakes and ringed about by
wild and lofty heights.

We pass Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth lived in old age, speed by Rydal
Water, and on into Grasmere, where Wordsworth's grave lies beside the
church, and the Rothay, his favourite stream, murmurs near by.

Beyond Grasmere we toil up the steep Pass of Dunmail, a wild, desolate,
rock-strewn piece of country.  At the head of the pass stands a pile of
stones--the Cairn of Dunmail--telling of

  "Old unhappy far-off things
  And battles long ago."

In far-off days Dunmail was the last King of Cumbria, whose people then
were Picts.  Edgar the Saxon came against him to seize the crown, and
of this crown of Cumbria a strange legend is told.

The crown of Dunmail was charmed, and whoever could seize it was
certain to gain the kingdom.  So Edgar the Saxon was eager to get it
into his hands.  Now, there was a wizard in those days who lived in a
cave among the hills, and he held a master-charm which would make the
magic power of the crown useless.  Dunmail sought the cave of the
wizard to slay him, and thus make himself safe in the possession of the
magic crown.

But to reach the magician was no easy thing.  His cave was guarded by a
ring of wild wolves, who watched their master.  Further, the wizard had
the power to make himself invisible, save for one moment, and that at
the break of day.  But one morning, at peep of dawn, Dunmail burst
through the ring of wolves and dashed into the cave, sword in hand.
The magician leapt to his feet to utter a curse on the King, and he had
called out the words, "Where river runs north or south with the storm,"
when the sword fell, and he was slain at a single stroke.

When Edgar the Saxon heard of this, he sent spies to find out the place
of which the magician had spoken, and they found out that the words
were true of Dunmail Raise.  And they are true to this day.  In times
of storm the torrent on Dunmail will set north or south with the wind
in most uncertain fashion.

In the pass the two armies met, and there was a fierce battle.  At
first the Picts under Dunmail held the upper hand, and the Saxons were
beaten back again and again.  But some of the chiefs who followed
Dunmail were traitors, and they turned on their King and slew him, and
gave the day to the Saxons.

As Dunmail fell, he tore off his magic crown and gave it to a faithful
follower.  "Bear my crown away!" he cried; "let not the Saxon ever wear
it."  He was obeyed.  A few loyal chiefs burst their way through the
foe, the crown among them, and escaped in a great cloud of mist.  They
fled across the hills, and came to a deep tarn.  Here they flung the
crown into its depths, leaving it there "till Dunmail come again to
lead us."

And legend says that every year the faithful warriors come back, draw
up the magic circlet from the depths of the tarn, and carry it to the
pile where their King lies in his age-long sleep.  They knock with his
spear on the topmost stone of the cairn, and from its heart comes a
voice--"Not yet, not yet; wait awhile, my warriors."


Over the top of Dunmail Raise we go, and soon Thirlmere comes into
sight--a long, lonely lake with never a farmhouse or cottage to break
the silence of its shores.  Why so lonely?  Because Thirlmere is at
once a lake and a reservoir.  Its clear waters form the drinking-supply
of busy, mill-packed Manchester, and through ninety miles of mountain
and moorland and meadow runs a huge iron pipe, which conveys these
clear waters to the houses of the far-off town.

To secure the lake from pollution, the whole of the ground around it
has been purchased and cleared of its scanty population, and now clear
brooks pour their water, undefiled by any use, into the great basin.

[Illustration: ON AN ENGLISH COMMON]

Seen from the main road--for nearer approach is forbidden--Thirlmere is
a scene of great beauty.  The placid lake lies sleeping in its hollow,
and beyond, up springs the noble mass of the mighty Helvellyn, furrowed
with watercourses, jagged with scaurs and grey outcrops of rock, with
wide stretches of bracken and sweeps of green grass.  Then, again, in
full sight, are Saddleback and, away to the north, Skiddaw; the latter
has a fleecy cloud streaming from its summit, much, we fancy, as the
smoke must have streamed away on that famous Armada night when

  "Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
  And the red glare of Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle."

Some distance farther we pause to climb up to the Justice Stone, a huge
flat-topped boulder, a famous landmark, and a stone around which many
stories have gathered.  It is said that in plague times this was a spot
to which came people from the plague-ridden town of Keswick, a few
miles ahead.  They brought money in their hands and laid it on the
Justice Stone, and retired; then the pedlars and dealers, bringing
goods from the outside world, came up to the stone, laid down the
goods, and took up the money.  In this way business was done, and yet
the outsiders did not come into contact with the plague-stricken
citizens.  The Justice Stone was also the gathering-place for the
shepherds of the neighbouring valleys.  Here they met to exchange
strayed sheep, and deal fairly with each other, and thus the name
sprung up.  The stone was used for this purpose until almost within
living memory.

On we go to Keswick, and here we are in the country of Derwentwater, a
splendid sheet which many hail as Queen of the Lakes.  It is a most
picturesque lake, dotted with beautiful islands and encircled by
mountain heights.  Its islands are real islands--not mere snags of rock
thrusting themselves above the water, but sweeps of level, well-wooded
land.  On one of them, Lord's Isle, once dwelt the Earls of
Derwentwater.  The last Earl was one of the Jacobite leaders of "the
Fifteen" when in 1715 the Old Pretender tried to regain the Stuart
crown.  The rebellion failed, and the Earl was beheaded on Tower Hill.
His lands were seized, his mansion fell into ruins, and his family
became extinct.

Not far from Lord's Isle are the famous Falls of Lodore, sung by the
poet Southey.  His description does not hold in dry weather, but after
a great fall of rain his words prove to have no exaggeration about
them.  Down from the moorland the stream comes rushing and leaping from
ledge to ledge of rock with clouds of spray, a tumultuous thundering of
leaping water, and all the force and fury painted in the well-known

The head of Derwentwater is so overgrown by weed that a path has been
cut to allow boats to row up to Lodore, and not far away is the
Floating Island, anchored to the bottom by long cables of weed-growth.
It is formed by a great mat of vegetable fibre, which usually lies on
the lake-bed; but at times this fibre becomes filled with natural gas,
and then it rises in a mass and floats on the surface as an island.

Near this point the River Derwent enters the lake from the narrow glen
of Borrowdale, famous for its "Bowder Stone," a vast boulder which has
fallen from the crags above.  The remarkable thing about this huge
stone--some 2,000 tons in weight--is that it has fallen, as it were, on
its point and remained there.  It has settled in some wonderful fashion
on so narrow a base that people on opposite sides of it may shake hands
through a hole under it.

Borrowdale enjoys another distinction, too--that of being the wettest
place in England.  At Seathwaite, near the head of the glen, 180 inches
of rain have been known to fall in a single year, four or five times
the average rainfall for the country in general.

Not far from Derwentwater is the pretty lake of Bassenthwaite.  Between
them is a low-lying strip of grassy land.  And it happens at times when
Borrowdale pours down its teeming floods that this strip sinks below
the rising water, and the lakes mingle and form one great stretch from
end to end.

But there is one other lake we must glance at before we leave this land
of beauty, and this is Coniston Water.

Coniston Water is a noble lake embosomed in a mass of mountains, of
which the finest is Coniston Old Man, a famous peak.  It is noted as
the home of char, that mysterious and beautiful fish of the Lake
Country.  Very little is known of this fish, for, as a rule, during the
fishing season they keep at the bottom of deep water, and very rarely
are they captured with the fly.  Sometimes they are taken by the net,
or by a long line weighted with lead.  Potted char is a famous delicacy
in Lakeland, and commands high prices, and in old recipes mention is
found of char-pie.

On the shores of Coniston Water stands Brantwood, where John Ruskin
lived, and Tennyson and other famous men have had houses beside this
beautiful lake.

The craggy hills around Coniston are, in their most solitary recesses,
the haunt of wild goats.  The goats were introduced a long time ago to
keep the hill-sheep from the most dangerous places, for a goat will
walk and browse calmly upon cliffs where a sheep would become giddy,
fall, and be dashed to pieces.  Sheep will not feed where goats have
been, and thus they are kept from these dangerous places.  The goats
are very wild and shy, and never seen save when winter's snow drives
them down from the rugged heights in search of food.

Such are a few--a very few--of the beauty-spots of this lovely region.
We have not spoken of other lakes, such as Ullswater, home of beauty,
or soft Loweswater, or wild Wastwater, and many another mere or tarn,
all beautiful, all worthy of a place in the hearts of those who love
the romantic and the picturesque.


England has many workers, but none braver than the toilers of the sea.
Her coasts are dotted with hamlets, each with its little quay or open
beach, where her fishermen hoist their brown sails and set off, as
evening falls, to reap the harvest of the waters.

It is a hard and perilous life.  A fishing-boat puts off in the quiet
evening calm, as the lights shine out from the cottages along the
shore, but the men on board are never sure that they will see those
lights of home again.  A sudden storm springs up; the heavy waves
overwhelm the tiny craft, and perhaps its brave crew are swallowed up
in the sea.  A broken thwart or spar washed ashore may give a hint of
their fate, but they are never seen again among living men.

But the facing of these perils breeds the finest and hardiest race of
boatmen in the world.  This is seen to the full when a call is made for
the services of the lifeboat.  Let us fancy that we are walking through
the single street of a fishing village on a winter day, when a
tremendous storm is lashing the coast.  The street is empty save for
ourselves, and every door is fast shut against the bitter wind.  The
boats are all home from sea, and are dragged high up on the shingle,
out of reach of the great breakers which thunder on the shore and send
their surf swirling in masses of snowy foam along the beach.  We make
our way inch by inch in the teeth of the terrific wind, and are
thankful for the smallest shelter in which to pause and draw a breath.

Suddenly a man comes racing up from the little quay.  He pauses at the
door of a building which stands alone; he seizes a rope and begins to
pull, and the loud clanging of a bell mingles with the shrieks of the

Ah! what a change!  The silent, deserted village becomes a scene of the
busiest life and animation.  Doors burst open on every hand, and out
rush men, and race head down against the wind for the building where
the bell is ringing.  After them stream women and children; all run as
if running for a wager.  What prize do those stalwart fellows race to
gain?  The prize of risking their lives to help their fellow-creatures.
There is a wreck off shore, and the bell is calling volunteers to man
the lifeboat.  The first men to gain the house form the crew, and these
at once begin to jump into oilskins and fasten huge cork belts round
their bodies, while the great boat is run out and hurried down to the

Everyone lends a hand, and in a marvellously short time the lifeboat is
gliding down the slips into the sea, her crew aboard.  The boat takes
the water like a duck, her sail is hoisted, and she beats off-shore in
a sea in which no other vessel could live.  Again and again a wave
breaks over her and fills her full of blue water, but up she springs,
and empties herself like a sea-bird shaking the spray from her back.
When a sea breaks aboard, the crew grip the nearest thwart and hang on;
they are soaked from head to heel in an instant, despite their
oilskins.  But they care nothing for that; their eyes are fixed ahead,
eagerly looking out for the wreck.  What or where it is they do not
know yet.  All they know is that the lightship which guards a dangerous
sandbank some miles off-shore is making signals, and they know that a
vessel is in distress.

The lifeboat thrashes through the furious seas, and soon they see the
lightship--a stout vessel securely anchored in position near the
sandbank.  It is her duty at night to keep a great lamp burning to warn
seamen not to approach her perilous neighbourhood.  Soon the lifeboat
is sweeping past the anchored lightship, and her men hail the lightship
with a tremendous shout of "Where away?"

"South end o' the bank!" roar the lightshipmen in reply; and the
lifeboat darts on like a living creature, for the gale favours her on
that tack.

The short winter day is now closing in, and the keen eyes on board the
lifeboat are straining eagerly into the dusk, when a sudden shout goes
up from every throat: "There she is! there she is!"

A tremendous blaze of light has broken out a mile ahead of them.  The
doomed vessel is burning a "flare," perhaps of cloth soaked in oil,
anything to make a bright light and show her position.  Suddenly the
flare goes out.  It sinks as swiftly as it had risen, and a groan of
anxiety bursts from the lips of the lifeboat heroes.  Has she gone
down, carrying to the bottom the poor fellows who had raised the flare
a short time back?  They do not know, and on they rush to see.

Soon they gain the tail of the dreaded sandbank, which has seen the
destruction of many and many a good ship, and here they find the wreck.
The back of the ship is broken, her main and mizen masts are gone, and
only the foremast stands; and in the foretop a dozen poor fellows are
lashed in the rigging, with icy seas sweeping over them at every moment.

The coxswain of the lifeboat burns a hand signal, and it throws a
bright light across the roaring sea, and in a pause of the howling wind
the crew hear faint cheers from the shipwrecked seamen, and shout a
cheery reply: "Hold on, boys! we've come for you, and we won't go back
without you."

But how to get them? that is the question.  The lifeboat has ridden
through terrible seas on her journey, but they are nothing, nothing to
the seas which are breaking round the lost vessel; for the latter has
been driven out of deep water on to the bank, and on the bank is no
steady run of water, but a thousand furious cross-currents, whirling
this way and that way in terrific fury; and when current meets current
up goes a great column of foam as high as a ship's mainmast, and
setting up a roar heard above the wild hurly-burly of storm and sea.

On board the lifeboat a quick, short council is held.

"Wait till morning," says one; "we'll lie off all night."

"Can't be done," says the coxswain; "she'll break up altogether long
before daybreak, and then it's good-bye to those poor fellows in the
foretop.  No, we'll veer down to her, for we lie to windward."

So over goes the anchor of the lifeboat, and the strong cable of
five-inch Manilla is made fast to it.  Now, the coxswain is going to do
this: The lifeboat will swing at anchor, and the wind will drive it
towards the wreck.  Little by little he will pay out the hawser, so
that, yard by yard, the lifeboat will swing nearer and nearer to the
perishing sailors, for perishing they are in the bitter cold of this
awful night.

Down, down the lifeboatmen veer to the wreck, held safely by the mighty
hawser, and light after light is burned.  But they do not dare to
approach the side of the wreck closely, lest the cable should strain
under the power of the tremendous seas and the lifeboat be dashed
against the sunken part of the wreck, when all might be lost together.
So they bring-to some five or six fathoms from the wreck, and one of
the lifeboat crew seizes a loaded cane, to which a light line is
attached.  A signal is burned, and by this light he makes his throw,
and cleverly drops the cane into the foretop, where the benumbed men
are unlashing themselves slowly and cautiously from the rigging.  The
light line is seized by the captain of the wrecked vessel, and by its
means a stouter line is drawn aboard, and thus communication is
established between ship and boat.  Soon a couple of lines are rigged
up, and along these lines the sailors crawl towards the friendly boat.
Man after man comes in safety, and the lifeboat crew cheer at every
rescue.  But it is terribly dangerous work.  The gale is rising, and
the seas become more furious than ever.  The lifeboat is tossed high in
the air, then sinks deep in the trough of a huge wave.  The only bridge
to it is a couple of thin ropes hardly to be seen save when a signal
light flares blue in the night, but along these ropes crawl the
drenched seamen, their hearts filled with new hopes as their ears catch
the deep encouraging roar of their rescuers.  Last to come is the
captain, who has rigged and handled the lines so that his men could
pass in as great safety as possible.

"Come on, captain!--come on, in with you!" is the cry; and he comes and
leaps into the boat.  Hurrah! they have every man.  Now how to get
away? that is the question.  They dare not haul up to their anchor lest
the gale should carry them back on the wreck before they could get the
boat under sail.

"The anchor must go, boys!" cries the coxswain.  "Up with a corner of
the foresail; that will throw her head off the wreck.  We must run
before the wind."

The manoeuvre is carried out with the utmost care, for the least
mistake will be paid for with the life of every man on board.

When all is ready, the coxswain's voice rings out again: "Out axe, and
cut the cable!"

Down comes the keen edge, the last strand is parted, and away leaps the
boat into the darkness and the furious turmoil of the raging sea.
Straight across the shoals the gallant boat drives through the boiling
surf, in which no other craft could live.  Staggering, reeling,
plunging she goes, but with every wild plunge she nears deep water and
comparative safety, and at last, with one wild, long heave, she beats
off the shoals, and the crew feel the regular run of deep water under
her keel, and shout joyously: "Hurrah! cheer O!"

For of the wildest storm on the open sea these dauntless British hearts
care nothing.  And now they bring the nose of their gallant boat round
on the homeward tack, and run for the shore, where fire and light and a
warm welcome await them.  And what a shout will go up when the cry
rings from the sea, "All saved! all saved!" for to raise that cry is
ample reward for these heroes of the storm.


      *      *      *      *      *






              64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, NEW YORK


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