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Title: Go to Cromer
Author: Rector, A Rural
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Go to Cromer" ***

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Transcribed from the 1889 Agas H. Goose edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

                   [Picture: Public domain book cover]



                              GO TO CROMER.


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                             A RURAL RECTOR.

                                * * * * *

                                 Norwich:
                              AGAS H. GOOSE,
                          RAMPANT HORSE STREET.
                                  1889.

                                * * * * *



GO TO CROMER.


    “You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went anywhere.  Dr.
    Perry was a week at Cromer once, and he holds it to be the best of
    all sea-bathing places.  A fine open sea, he says, and very pure
    air.”—_Emma_, by Jane Austen, page 72.

WHEN do the dog-days begin?  “Francis Moore, Physician,” and other
authorities, ancient and modern, tell us on the 3rd of July.  But the
puzzling star, Sirius, in its gradual recession from our world, has not
only changed its complexion from the ruddy hue of youth to the pallor of
age, but owing either to the parsimonious habits of increasing years, or,
perhaps, bodily infirmity, it has often withheld of late years the full
downpour of its (supposed) heat-raising rays until the end of the month.

AS soon, however, as the historic period of its influence returns, the
crave for change and relief from the ties and worries of business of
every kind, and town life generally, becomes well-nigh irresistible.

Now, as one who has for many a year resolutely sought, or made
opportunity, to obey the annual prompting of nature to change his
heaven—a feeling akin to the periodical impulse of winged bipeds to
migrate—thus, and thus only, perhaps, maintaining in healthy vigour such
power of mind and body as he has been endowed with, to a time of life
when many shrink from the activities of muscular exertion, if they have
not long ago abandoned pedestrian exploration and cycle tours, which the
writer has not, let me back up the opinion of the faculty, as represented
by Mr. Woodhouse’s family doctor, in the quotation at the head of this
paper, and recommend a visit of fair length to Cromer, combined with such
mild expeditions in its neighbourhood, by sea and land, as may be
possible and convenient.

Far back in the pleasant past, I spent a holiday week at the Land’s End,
with a Cornish coast-painter of some fame and success.  While I splashed
my block in rough representation of the yellow sands, the many-hued
rocks, bearded with a patriarchal growth of hoary lichen, the pea-green
fore sea and purple distance, he was composing close by two or three
large pictures of the same scenes, putting in a stranded vessel here, or
making the sea alive there with fishers and their nets and boats—the
latter almost on the move beneath the leverage of the long oars, or the
force on the bulging sails of the unseen wind blowing where it listed.

These objects and actors on other but similar scenes, that both eye and
hand had kept copies of, perhaps for years, were now transferred by the
painter to his canvas “to improve the occasion” by giving life and
interest to a spot—beautiful always, though at the time barren of
incident—which in the process of years most often present such stirring
aspects as he then depicted.

I recalled the admirable pictures of my, alas! deceased friend, when my
eye fell on the photographs ranged on the sides of the railway carriage
that bore me to Cromer last summer.

We may well be thankful the Great Eastern Railway for the pleasure these
cannot fail to give to the weary traveller.

As the ear soon ceases to be affected by the roaring of a Giessbach, so
the eye becomes blind almost to those, perhaps, necessary evils, the huge
placards that cover the walls of station after station.  But the same
advertisement reduced and ingeniously inserted between the pages of the
Magazine that we listlessly turn over, spring on us ever and anon from
their ambushes, and cannot be ignored; and the message they bring is
often as prompt, if not as painful, a thrust into one’s memory and heart
as was Ehud’s into the obese body of Eglon, King of Moab.

Such a-going upstairs in a carrying chair as meets the eye when the
finger turns to the index of contents, if not a sad remembrancer of some
sufferer near and dear, is distressingly suggestive of the ills that
one’s own flesh may be heir to, and the numbness of leg resulting from
long sitting is apt to be magnified by apprehension into creeping
paralysis.

While the complacency of the matron in her sixth decade, asserting a
claim to the complexion of sweet seventeen, is so _cheeky_, and we feel
annoyed that our attention should be called to the matter.

Horace’s line, “mors et fugacem persequitur virum,” would be a cunningly
alarming motto for the many systems of life assurance that tout in the
same quarters for custom, and often frighten one into carrying grist to
their mills.  And if committed deeply to premium-paying already, and the
annual shelling-out time is drawing near, the thought how to meet the
inexorable call and holiday expenses together may cause qualm enough to
make one’s next meal dyspeptic.

What a relief it is to get clear from such insalutary thoughts, and to
look up from the vibrating lines of a paper or book to the well-defined
photographs that now adorn the carriages of the Great Eastern Railway.

Caister Castle, Beeston Ruins, North Repps Cottage, Somerleyton, Gunton,
the wave-lapped beaches of the nerve-bracing Norfolk coast, and the
various Broads, beget an instant desire to be knickered and jerseyed, and
to rough it for a times in and about these restful solitudes.  The
pictures are pleasing to the eye, and helpful to the mind that would,
even _en route_, be forming some pleasant plans for a free and easy life
in the immediate future, and rid itself of the black care that used to
sit behind the horseman, but in our days boldly essays to take a seat
cheek by jowl with the railway traveller, and to glare into his eyes.

Not that one looks, perforce, at the opposite side of the compartment for
diversion from the disappointments of life, or anxious and schemeful
thought, as we are whirled by the green and ochre and umber of the
pastures and ploughed lands of the pleasant and undulating country
through which the Great Eastern Railway runs.  The long-winged windmills,
which one cannot see without a smile-begetting recollection of the
doughty Don of Cervantes, or the churchyard ghost in “the renowned
History of Goody Two Shoes,” the numerous church towers, in Norfolk so
often flint-faced and round; the still well farmed fields and the cottage
gardens uniformly characterised by an exuberance of vegetables and
flowers, furnish a succession of varied objects that gratify and amuse
the observing eye and mind.

But for the sake of Cromer, and therefore in the interests of the
enterprising company aforesaid, I point out a fault—the only one I may
say—in these photographs, although in doing so I feel like a man who
knows that he is seen looking a gift-horse in the mouth.

“Landscape,” says Ruskin, “requires figure-incident.”  If living, and the
chosen photographer of the company that has banished advertisements—at
what must be a serious sacrifice of income—from the walls of our
temporary prisons, and embellished them with these sun-struck medals of
scenic bits to be seen and done by our eyes and limbs, my artist friend
would have turned touter with consummate skill.  His photographs would
have been full of “figure-incidents,”—compositions like his lovely
paintings.  He would have had his tent-studded foregrounds packed with
lithe lasses and be-blazered youth, tennising on the hard, soft sand; and
bewitchingly dressed children shovelling and grovelling happily therein,
with their parents serenely and approvingly looking on.  Many a
paterfamilias would come out in clear detail as he lazily enjoys the
_piping_ tunes of peace without the rebuke from his beaming better-half,
which he would scarcely escape at home at such an hour.  Big-booted
fishermen would be picturesquely unloading their boats, and
actiniæ-hunters prosecuting their absorbing search in the pools of the
flinty conglomerate that stretches away to the submerged walls of an
older and long-lost Cromer.

My friend would have waited and waited until he could instantaneously
catch the very similitude of the beach in such a high-jink and attractive
guise as I beheld it on the “glorious 18th of June” last year.  Whereas,
good undeniably as these sunny shadows in the railway carriages are, they
represent an unpeopled and desolate shore.  Here, the first or last
visitor of the season stands by the jetty, gazing on the sandy and liquid
plains before him, as if by very loneliness tempted by the thought that
it would be almost preferable to join the majority.  I can but believe
that the individual is an enemy of the “System;” that he intruded on the
photographer’s field, and posed himself thus to spite the company.

Dr. Holmes in _Elsie Venner_ is vexed at the same fellow’s obtrusiveness,
I imagine, for, speaking of the Widow Rowen’s centre table, with “the
pretty English scenes lying carelessly upon it,” he qualifies his
encomium with the words, “_Pretty_! _except for the old fellow with the
hanging under-lip_, _who invests everyone of that interesting series_.”

Another view is of the western beach, with just eleven boats drawn up
high and dry towards the cliffs in stiff and parallel shipshapedness; but
not the shadow of a shade of a living object is to be seen.  Better so,
than suffer the saturnine visage of the obtrusive stranger to be
introduced.  But how unfair is this to Cromer!  A banquet hall without
guests!  I longed for my camera and drop-shutter, that I might take and
give to the world a few illustrations, real if rough, of “life on the
ocean wave,” and by it, too, in its untrammelled enjoyment of such pious
orgies and prudent pleasures as may daily be witnessed and shared on the
wide-spreading sands of lovely Cromer during the summer season.

I will lean again on the stalwart support of Mr. Ruskin in his _Modern
Painters_ while defending my view of views.

    “All true landscape depends primarily on connection with humanity, or
    with spiritual powers.  Banish your heroes and nymphs from the
    classical landscape—its laurel shades will move you no more.  Show
    the dark clefts of the most romantic mountain are uninhabited and
    untraversed: it will cease to be romantic.  Fields without shepherds,
    and without fairies, will have no gaiety in their green, nor will the
    noblest masses of ground or colours of clouds arrest or raise your
    thoughts if the earth has no life to sustain, and the heaven none to
    refresh.”

But while engaged in this discussion about shadows and similitudes we
have reached Cromer, and, on arrival, a visitor’s one thought is, of
course, where to bestow his goods.

After a hasty glance at and over the lofty church tower, and the
clustered houses at the hillfoot, and the sail-flying sea; while taking a
deep refreshing draught of the highly oxygenized—I was almost going to
say effervescent—air, let him drive to the Hotel de Paris, or Belle Vue,
or the Red Lion, or undertake the more protracted and tiring task of
finding lodgings to his mind.

The question of a local habitation having been settled, let him stroll
down the zig-zag path—a humble reminder of wanderings in remoter regions,
and the wondrous railway-route up the pass of St. Gotthard—to the jetty,
or the sands to the right or left, and take his bearings.

Or let him then, or the next morning, for the sake of a more extensive
view, or to look up any impedimenta left in charge of the railway
officials, walk leisurely to the station.  This is but a short distance
above the town on a plateau, girt about with a golden girdle of the very
bonniest broom when seen early in June, commanding, moreover, a ravishing
prospect.

The refreshment-room of a conservatory type will tempt one to linger over
the lemonade, certain to be demanded by the thirsting soul as a due
reward at the finish of the climb, and which the pleasant toil renders
unusually nectareous, the relish being chiefly due, without doubt, to the
slight sudorific exertion, the most stimulative and wholesome condiment
for food, and, as experience satisfactorily proves, for drinks too.
Horace, “always up to date,” advises well “pulmentaria quære sudando.”

Here, or at the lighthouse, or indeed anywhere on the cliffs, an early
bird may count on the enjoyment of a most delectable matutine worm, in a
sight of the sun rising from the ocean-bed above the blue ring of the
eastern verge, and flinging a bountiful largess of sapphires and diamonds
on the sea before him.

But the many, it is to be feared, “would rather gang supperless to their
beds than rise in the morning early,”—at any rate early enough to behold
“the hues of primrose and gold, and daffodil and rose, that diffuse
themselves and blend and kindle and glow in the dawn of an opening
heaven.”

All, however, will have frequent opportunities of feasting on the
scarcely less glorious spectacle of the sun plunging out of sight in the
molten golden depths of the same sea, at its western confines.  Standing
out as Cromer does clear towards the north, there is nothing to interrupt
the view of both the eastern and western horizons; so that the phenomenon
may any day be witnessed, of the rising and setting of the day-ruling
luminary in the same waters, from the same point of observation.

Then again, what better place can be found if a holiday be needful to
rest the over-taxed brain?  Here one can work the lazier lobe thereof,
and let the other, exhausted by the production of successive and heavy
crops of thoughts and speeches and plans, lie completely fallow.  But
“want of occupation is not rest; a mind quite vacant is a mind distrest.”
What an important factor in the recruitment of health, and the retoning
of the nervous system, is some light occupation for mind and _fingers_
during the sundry hours of forced confinement, for various causes, _pro
tem._, to one’s lodgings!  What a recuperative agent, too, is some
interesting quest that prevents the wandering about in the invigorating
air from being listless and wearisome, because aimless, as it too often
is!  Let the visitor be induced to engage in the daily and engrossing
search for the best _stock_, not for the farm, nor the investment of
capital, but for an aquarium, and the true balance of the brain will
begin to be adjusted instanter.  Hours may be healthfully spent in the
preliminary work of collecting such things as a shell or so, with bits of
green and purple laver attached, and embossed with a few acorn-shells,
and the rough tube that a serpula has scrawled over its surface,—a
_multum in parvo_ indeed is such a find,—a stone or two on which the
crimson pholamium has got a foot-hold, a couple of the common red
anemones and a periwinkle, whose keen-edged scythe never needs setting or
whetting, and which will be in constant requisition in a few days after
the aquarium has been set up, and a green growth developed on its sides
by the ministry of light.

If you are not afraid to risk some unpopularity in your newly-acquired
domain by a certain number of evictions, without the aid of the battering
ram, from the shell-cabins on your estate, a star-fish of moderate
dimensions, and a peripatetic prying hermit-crab, will be interesting
objects; and, of course, a vivacious shrimp will give grace to the
grottoed scene: perhaps, to your temporary alarm and subsequent interest,
shedding its skeleton in the glass shade or confectioner’s bottle, or the
borrowed hand-basin, as the case may be, which holds your captures, and
which eye will not tire of watching, nor hand of aerating and
replenishing, when once it is established as a going concern.

But I do not offer an aquarium as a “Hobson’s choice.”  To say nothing
about rides and drives and fishing, and moth or butterfly-hunting, a
botanist may seek and find in the season the wild tulip, the lily of the
valley, the sea buck-thorn, the sea blite, and other varieties, besides
the commoner and more beautiful flowers that flourish and abound in the
byways and backwoods in the rear of the town.

There I roamed and rested alternately through the blissful hours of a
perfect summer-day (alas! how few such were vouchsafed to us last year,
fewer, a scientific and observing octogenarian tells me, than in any year
since 1816)—there, I will hope, many a reader will roam and rest during
many such days, either of this or subsequent and more highly-favoured
seasons, when they shall have no cause to wish the project had been
successful for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, and bottling them,
to have a supply at hand to let out and warm the ungenial air.  There I
rested in sublime enjoyment, but let it be distinctly understood, not
_sub tegmine fagi_: the fagus may be very well in a country where the
chief object of daily life is to endure life by evading the pursuit, and
dodging, as if one were a hunted brigand, the fierce light of a raging
sun behind the trunks, or hiding with breathless haste in the stifling
umbrage of such trees as may be within reach of the ever weary legs of a
languid southerner.  But here in merrie England, give one the _tegmen
pini_, such as I enjoyed at Cromer, when lying on the soft bosom of one
of the graceful heights so attractive to the sojourner who would
restfully view the panorama beneath him—(better, a thousand times than
“Niagara in London,”)—of ocean and homebound ships, going and coming in
an almost uninterrupted stream of succession on the deep blue plane of
the far horizon, and the fishing boats making for land over the
pasture-like green of the nearer depths, with the prized freights which
need scarcely be named to any who have visited this sweet spot, or even
heard of Cromer.

For the sake, however, of the chance reader who belongs to neither class,
I will announce the produce of the pots with which the boats are laden,
as Cromer crabs!  ’Tis pleasant, sure, to see their name in print, and
there is a pleasure in the utterance of the alliterative compound—yet let
me assure all whom it may concern that the fame of the crustacean depends
not in the least on “apt alliteration’s artful aid,” but on its intrinsic
worth gastronomically; “experience hath made me sage.”

From this digression I must go veritably backwards, as these crabs that
have led me astray are erroneously said by some to do in their
peregrinations among the mermaids at the bottom of the deep blue sea, and
make my adieu under the trees that rise, as Ruskin says, “not like others
against the sky in dots and knots, but in fringes.”  The sun shines
beneficently in his full strength; and while a slight shade from the
direct rays is undeniably pleasant, a balmy air sweeps from the cool sea
over the really yellow sands, and up the ochery cliffs, and along the
green sward of the uplying fields, drifting before it and distributing a
mixture of the various essences from the gardens of the deep, and the
salubrious resiny exhalations of the pines belauded above, and the sweet
breath of the thick-growing clover flowers, for the behoof of all, and
the delectation of such as rightly value these superlative delicacies.

O. W. Holmes knew what to seek as a sufferer from—

          “This dead recoil
    Of weary fibres stretched with toil:
    The poise that flutters faint and low
    When summer’s seething breezes blow:
    _Curtained beneath a singing pine_,
    _Its murmuring voice shall blend with mine_.”

And he might have added, had he the good luck to be in Cromer, that the
lark would certainly take the soprano part without invitation, and
complete the trio, for this is no

       “Gloomy shore,
    Which skylark never warbles o’er.”

On the contrary, few suns rise and set on this health-giving coast
without many tuneful and prolonged greetings from this happiest of happy
birds.  I know that there is scarcely a day throughout the year—and I
have been here in the drear depths of December—of which it could not be
said

    “Streaming as from heavenly springs,
       So spreads a mist of melody,
    The Staubbach of our sunny skies,
       The lark’s down-sprinkling minstrelsy.”

Tennyson, in “The Lotus-eaters,” has some lines which had all the effect
of a lullaby on me when I recalled them as I lazed on the hill brows
above Cromer:—

    “How sweet while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly,
    With half-dropt eyelids still,
    Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine;
    Only to hear were sweet, stretched out beneath the pine.”

And his brother, Charles Tennyson Turner, has a sonnet, amended by S. T.
Coleridge, which runs thus on the concordant voices of sea and tree:—

    “O leave me here to rove,
    Mute listener to that sound {19} so grand and lone,—
    And yet a sound of commune strongly thrown,—
    That meets the pine-grove on the cliffs above.”

Hear certain words of O. W. Holmes again, in conclusion: words set to
music and sung daily by the North Sea’s pleasant voice.  “Have you a
grief that gnaws at your heartstrings?  Come with it to my shore, as of
old the priest of far-darting Apollo carried his rage and anguish to the
margin of the loud-roaring sea.  There, if anywhere, you will forget your
shortlived woe.”



BY THE SUMMERY SEA.
_A Sunset Sketch at Cromer_.


    HERE ends the journey on a plateau high,
       Broad-belted with a golden zone of broom;
       And many a grassy hill, with lofty plume
    Of close-ranked pine-trees, sits in silence by.

    About their knees nestles the quaint old town,
       And round their naked feet the wavelets play,
       Now wreathing them with flowers of pearly spray,
    Now laying on the sands their chaplets down.

    Upon the jutting cliffs, the stately tower,
       The high-reared Pharos and the sea sail-flown,
       The flaming mantle of the sun is thrown
    At his translation, in the evening hour.

    Naught breaks the reigning stillness, far or near,
       Save, as the glowing scene the eye admires,
       A mellow murmur when the deep suspires
    Falls on the rapt spectator’s hearing ear.

    Nor to conception’s gaze, nor memory,
       Did a more blissful prospect e’er appear,
       Since the sad searching eye of Pisgah’s seer
    Swept Jordan’s palm-plains “to the utmost sea.”

                                * * * * *

           [Picture: Decorative graphic of children in a boat]

                     AGAS H. GOOSE, PRINTER, NORWICH.



FOOTNOTES.


{19}  “The gentle murmur of the seething foam.”





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