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Title: A Month in Yorkshire

Author: Walter White

Release Date: April 22, 2011 [EBook #35933]

Language: English

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[Pg i]

A MONTH IN YORKSHIRE.

[Pg ii]


YORKSHIRE.

[Pg iii]

A MONTH IN YORKSHIRE.

BY

WALTER WHITE,

AUTHOR OF “A LONDONER’S WALK TO THE LAND’S END,” “ALL ROUND THE WREKIN,” AND OTHER BOOKS OF TRAVEL.

“Know most of the rooms of thy native country, before thou goest over the threshold thereof; especially, seeing England presents thee with so many observables.”—Fuller.

FOURTH EDITION.

LONDON:

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.

1861.

[The right of Translation is reserved.]

[Pg iv]

By the same Author.

A Londoner’s Walk to the Land’s End; and a Trip to the Scilly Isles. Second Edition.

On Foot through Tyrol.

A July Holiday in Saxony, Bohemia and Silesia.

Northumberland and the Border. Second Edition.

All Round the Wrekin. Second Edition.

[Pg v]


FOREWORD TO THE FOURTH EDITION.

The first two editions of this work had not long been published when I was pelted with animadversions for the “scandalous misrepresentation” conveyed in my report of a conversation held with a villager at Burnsall; which conversation may be read in the twenty-second chapter. My reply was, that I had set down less than was spoken—that I had brought no accusation, not having even mentioned the “innocent-looking country town” as situate in any one of the three Ridings—that what I had seen, however, in some of the large towns, led me to infer that the imputation (if such it were) would hardly fail to apply; and, moreover, if the Yorkshire conscience felt uneasy, was I to be held responsible?

My explanation that the town in question was not in Yorkshire, was treated as of none effect, and my censors rejoined in legal phrase, that I had no case. So I went about for awhile under a kind of suspicion, or as an unintentional martyr, until one day there met me two gentlemen from Leeds, one of whom declared that he and others, jealous of their county’s reputation, and doubting not to convict me of error, had made diligent inquiry and found to their discomfiture, that the assemblages implied in the villager’s remark, did actually take place within Yorkshire itself. The discovery is not one to be proud of; but, having been made, let the county strive to free itself from at least that reproach.

Another censurable matter was my word of warning against certain inns which had given me demonstration that their entertainment, regulated by a sliding scale, went up on the arrival of[Pg vi] a stranger. Yorkshire wrote a flat denial of the implication to my publishers, and inclosed a copy of what he called “his tariff,” by way of proof, which would have been an effectual justification had my grievance been an invention; but, as it happened, the tariff presented testimony in my favour, by the difference between its prices and those which I had been required to pay.

I only notice this incident because of the general question, in which all who travel are more or less interested. Why should an Englishman, accustomed to equitable dealings while staying at home, be required to submit so frequently to the reverse when journeying in his own country? Shopkeepers are ready to sell socks, or saddles, or soap without an increase of price on the plea that they may never see you again, and without expecting you to fee their servants for placing the article before you; and why should innkeepers claim a privilege to do otherwise? The numerous complaints which every season’s experience calls forth from tourists, imply a want of harmony between “travelling facilities” and the practice of licensed victuallers; and if English folk are to be persuaded to travel in their own country, the sooner the required harmony is established, the better. It would be very easy to exhibit a table of charges and fees by which a tourist might ascertain cost beforehand, and choose accordingly. Holland is a notoriously dear and highly-taxed country, yet fivepence a day is all the charge that Dutch innkeepers make for “attendance.”

In one instance the discussion took a humorous turn:—the name of a certain jovial host, with whom I had a talk in Swaledale, appeared subscribed to a letter in the Richmond Chronicle, and as it furnishes us with a fresh specimen of local dialect, I take leave to quote a few passages therefrom. After expostulating with the editor for “prentan” a letter which somebody had written in his “neame,” the writer says, “but between ye an’ me, I believe this chap’s been readin’ a buke put out by yan White, ’at was trailin’ about t’ Deales iv hay-time, an’ afoare he set off to gang by t’ butter-tubs to t’ Hawes, he ast me what publick-house he was to gang te, an’ I tell’t him t’ White Hart; an’ becoz he mebby fand t’ shot rayther bigger than a lik’d, he’s gi’en t’ landlord a wipe iv his buke aboot t’ length of his bill, an’ me aboot t’ girth o’ me body—pity but he’d summat better to rite aboot; but nivver heed, it[Pg vii] nobbut shows ’at my meat agrees wi’ me, an’ ’at t’ yal ’at I brew ’s naythur sour ner wake, an’ ’at I drink my shar’ on’t mysel: but if I leet on him, or can mak’ oot t’ chap ’at sent ye t’ letter, I’ll gi’ ’em an on-be-thinkin.”

Sheffield, too, has not yet ceased to reprove me for having published the obvious fact, that the town is frightfully smoky, and unclean in appearance and in its talk. If I were to make any alteration in this particular, it would be to give emphasis, not to lighten the description. A town which permits its trade to be coerced by ignorance, and where the ultimate argument of the working-classes is gunpowder or a knock on the head, should show that the best means have been taken to purify morals as well as the atmosphere and streets, before it claims to be “nothing like so bad as is represented.” But, the proverb which declares that “people who eat garlic are always sure it doesn’t smell,” will perhaps never cease to be true.

Of the £14,000,000 worth of woollen and worsted goods exported in 1859, Yorkshire supplied the largest portion; and still maintains its reputation for “crafty wit and shrinking cloth,” as shewn by the increase in the manufacture of shoddy. One of the manufacturers at Batley has made known in a printed pamphlet, that 50,000,000 pounds of rags are at the present time annually converted into various kinds of so-called woollen goods. We walk on shoddy as it covers our floors; and we wear shoddy in our stockings and under-garments, as well as in capes and overcoats. Turning to mineral products, we find that in 1859, Yorkshire raised 1,695,842 tons of ironstone, and 8,247,000 tons of coal, worth in round numbers £3,573,000. And with all this there is an increase in the means and results of education, and an abatement of pauperism: in 1820, the poor’s-rate in Hull was seven shillings and eightpence in the pound, in 1860, not more than eightpence.

And to mention facts of another kind:—by the digging of a drain on Marston Moor, a heap of twenty-five or thirty skeletons was discovered, around which the clay retained the form of the bodies, like a mould; a bullet fell from one of the skulls, and in some the teeth were perfectly sound, 213 years after the battle. At Malton, during a recent excavation of the main street, one[Pg viii] hundred yards of the Roman highway leading from Derby to York were laid bare, three feet below the present surface. Scarborough is building new batteries on her castled cliff, and replacing old guns by new ones; and Hull is about to add to its resources by the construction of a new dock. The much-needed harbour of refuge is, however, not yet begun, as wrecks along the coast after easterly storms lamentably testify.

This Month in Yorkshire was the second of my books of home-travel; and it was while rambling along the cliffs and over the hills of the famous county, that I conceived it possible to interest others as well as myself in the Past and the Present, in the delightful natural aspects and the wonderful industry of our native country to a yet wider extent; and therein I have not been disappointed. To the objection that my works are useless as guide-books, I answer, that no intelligent reader will find it difficult to follow my route: distances are mentioned with sufficient accuracy, the length of my longest day’s walk is recorded, whereby any one, who knows his own strength, may easily plan each day’s journey in anticipation. By aid of the map which accompanies the present volume either planning or reference will now be facilitated.

Next to ourselves, there is perhaps nothing so interesting to us as our own country, which may be taken as a good reason why a book about England finds favour with readers. For my part let me repeat a passage from the foreword to the second edition:—“I know that I have an earnest love for my subject; feeling proud of the name of Englishman, and the freedom of thought, speech, and action therein involved; loving our fields and lanes, our hills and moorlands, and the shores of our sea, and delighting much to wander among them. Happy shall I be if I can inspire the reader with the like emotions.”

W. W

London, March, 1861.

[Pg ix]


CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
  PAGE.
A Short Chapter to begin with 1
CHAPTER II.
Estuary of the Humber—Sunk Island—Land versus Water—Dutch Phenomena—Cleathorpes—Grimsby—Paul—River Freaks—Mud—Stukeley and Drayton—Fluvial Parliament—Hull—The Thieves’ Litany—Docks and Drainage—More Dutch Phenomena—The High Church—Thousands of Piles—The Citadel—The Cemetery—A Countryman’s Voyage to China—An Aid to Macadam 5
CHAPTER III.
A Railway Trip—More Land Reclamation—Hedon—Historical Recollections—Burstwick—The Earls of Albemarle—Keyingham—The Duke of York—Winestead—Andrew Marvell’s Birthplace—A Glimpse of the Patriot—Patrington—A Church to be proud of—The Hildyard Arms—Feminine Paper-hangers—Walk to Spurn—Talk with a Painter—Welwick—Yellow Ochre and Cleanliness—Skeffling—Humber Bank—Miles of Mud—Kilnsea—Burstall Garth—The Greedy Sea—The Sandbank—A Lost Town, Ravenser Odd—A Reminiscence from Shakspeare—The Spurn Lighthouse—Withernsea—Owthorne—Sister Churches—The Ghastly Churchyard—A Retort for a Fool—A Word for Philologists 14
CHAPTER IV.
Northern Manners—Cottingham—The Romance of Baynard Castle—Beverley—Yorkshire Dialect—The Farmers’ Breakfast—Glimpses of the Town—Antiquities and Constables—The Minster—Yellow Ochre—The Percy Shrine—The Murdered Earl—The Costly Funeral—The Sisters’ Tomb—Rhyming Legend—The Fridstool—The Belfry 27[Pg x]
CHAPTER V.
A Scotchman’s Observations—The Prospect—The Anatomy of Beverley—Historical Associations—The Brigantes—The Druids—Austin’s Stone—The Saxons—Coifi and Paulinus—Down with Paganism—A Great Baptism—St. John of Beverley—Athelstan and Brunanburgh—The Sanctuary—The Conqueror—Archbishop Thurstan’s Privileges—The Sacrilegious Mayor—Battle of the Standard—St. John’s Miracles—Brigand Burgesses—Annual Football—Surrounding Sites—Watton and Meaux—Etymologies—King Athelstan’s Charter 33
CHAPTER VI.
The Great Drain—The Carrs—Submerged Forest—River Hull—Tickton—Routh—Tippling Rustics—A Cooler for Combatants—The Blind Fiddler—The Improvised Song—The Donkey Races—Specimens of Yorkshiremen—Good Wages—A Peep at Cottage Life—Ways and Means—A Paragraph for Bachelors—Hornsea Mere—The Abbots’ Duel—Hornsea Church—The Marine Hotel 40
CHAPTER VII.
Coast Scenery—A waning Mere, and wasting Cliffs—The Rain and the Sea—Encroachment prevented—Economy of the Hotel—A Start on the Sands—Pleasure of Walking—Cure for a bad Conscience—Phenomena of the Shore—Curious Forms in the Cliffs—Fossil Remains—Strange Boulders—A Villager’s Etymology—Reminiscences of “Bonypart” and Paul Jones—The last House—Chalk and Clay—Bridlington—One of the Gipseys—Paul Jones again—The Sea-Fight—A Reminiscence of Montgomery 48
CHAPTER VIII.
What the Boarding-House thought—Landslips—Yarborough House—The Dane’s Dike—Higher Cliffs—The South Landing—The Flamborough Fleet—Ida, the Flamebearer—A Storm—A talk in a Limekiln—Flamborough Fishermen—Coffee before Rum—No Drunkards—A Landlord’s Experiences—Old-fashioned Honesty 56
CHAPTER IX.
Men’s and Women’s Wages—The Signal Tower—The passing Fleet—The Lighthouse—The Inland View—Cliff Scenery—Outstretching Reefs—Selwick’s Bay—Down to the Beach—Aspect of the Cliffs—The Matron—Lessons in Pools—Caverns—The King and Queen—Arched Promontories—The North Landing—The Herring-Fishers—Pleasure Parties—Robin Lyth’s Hole—Kirk Hole—View across little Denmark—Speeton—End of the Chalk—Walk to Filey 60[Pg xi]
CHAPTER X.
Old and New Filey—The Ravine—Filey Brig—Breaking Waves—Rugged Cliffs—Prochronic Gravel—Gristhorp Bay—Insulated Column—Lofty Cliffs—Fossil Plants—Red Cliff—Cayton Bay—Up to the Road—Bare Prospect—Cromwell Hotel and Oliver’s Mount—Scarborough—The Esplanade—Watering-Place Phenomena—The Cliff Bridge—The Museum—The Spa—The Old Town—The Harbour—The Castle Rock—The Ancient Keep—The Prospect—Reminiscences: of Harold Hardrada; of Pembroke’s Siege; of the Papists’ Surprise; of George Fox; of Robin Hood—The One Artilleryman—Scarborough Newspapers—Cloughton—The Village Inn, and its Guests—Tudds and Pooads 66
CHAPTER XI.
From Cloughton to Haiburn Wyke—The embowered Path—Approach to the Sea—Rock, Water, and Foliage—Heavy Walking—Staintondale Cliffs—The Undercliff—The Peak—Raven Hall—Robin Hood’s Bay—A Trespass—Alum Works—Waterfalls—Bay Town—Manners and Customs of the Natives—Coal Trade—The Churchyard—Epitaphs—Black-a-moor—Hawsker—Vale of Pickering—Robin Hood and Little John’s Archery—Whitby Abbey—Beautiful Ruin—St. Hilda, Wilfrid, and Cœdmon—Legends—A Fallen Tower—St. Mary’s Church—Whitby—The Vale of Esk—Specimens of Popular Hymns 78
CHAPTER XII.
Whitby’s Attractions—The Pier—The River-Mouth—The Museum—Saurians and Ammonites—An enthusiastic Botanist—Jet in the Cliffs, and in the Workshop—Jet Carvers and Polishers—Jet Ornaments—The Quakers’ Meeting—A Mechanics’ Institute—Memorable Names—A Mooky Miner—Trip to Grosmont—The Basaltic Dike—Quarries and Ironstone—Thrifty Cottagers—Abbeys and Hovels—A Stingy Landlord—Egton Bridge—Eskdale Woods—The Beggar’s Bridge 89
CHAPTER XIII.
To Upgang—Enter Cleveland—East Row—The first Alum-Maker—Sandsend—Alum-Works—The huge Gap—Hewing the Alum Shale—Limestone Nodules: Mulgrave Cement—Swarms of Fossils—Burning the Shale—Volcanic Phenomena—From Fire to Water—The Cisterns—Soaking and Pumping—The evaporating Pans—The Crystallizing Process—The Roching Casks—Brilliant Crystals—A Chemical Triumph—Rough Epsoms 97[Pg xii]
CHAPTER XIV.
Mulgrave Park—Giant Wade—Ubba’s Landing-place—The Boggle-boggarts—The Fairy’s Chase—Superstitions—The Knight of the Evil Lake—Lythe—St. Oswald’s Church—Goldsborough—Kettleness—Rugged Cliffs and Beach—Runswick Bay—Hob-Hole—Cure for Whooping-cough—Jet Diggers—Runswick—Hinderwell—Horticultural Ravine—Staithes—A curious Fishing-town—The Black Minstrels—A close-neaved Crowd—The Cod and Lobster—Houses washed away—Queer back Premises—The Termagants’ Duel—Fisherman’s Talk—Cobles and Yawls—Dutch and French Poachers—Tap-room Talk—Reminiscences of Captain Cook 104
CHAPTER XV.
Last Day by the Sea—Boulby—Magnificent Cliffs—Lofthouse and Zachary Moore—The Snake-killer—The Wyvern—Eh! Packman—Skinningrave—Smugglers and Privateers—The Bruce’s Privileges—What the old Chronicler says—Story about a Sea-Man—The Groaning Creek—Huntcliff Nab—Rosebury Topping—Saltburn—Cormorant Shooters—Cunning Seals—Miles of Sands—Marske—A memorable Grave—Redcar—The Estuary of Tees—Asylum Harbour—Recreations for Visitors—William Hutton’s Description—Farewell to the Sea 115
CHAPTER XVI.
Leave Redcar—A Cricket-Match—Coatham—Kirkleatham—The Old Hospital—The Library—Sir William Turner’s Tomb—Cook, Omai, and Banks—The Hero of Dettingen—Yearby Bank—Upleatham—Guisborough—Past and Present—Tomb of Robert Bruce—Priory Ruins—Hemingford, Pursglove, and Sir Thomas Chaloner—Pretty Scenery—The Spa—More Money, Less Morals—What George Fox’s Proselytes did—John Wesley’s Preaching—Hutton Lowcross—Rustics of Taste—Rosebury Topping—Lazy Enjoyment—The Prospect: from Black-a-moor to Northumberland—Cook’s Monument—Canny Yatton—The Quakers’ School—A Legend—Skelton—Sterne and Eugenius—Visitors from Middlesbro’—A Fatal Town—Newton—Digger’s Talk—Marton, Cook’s Birthplace—Stockton—Darlington 123
CHAPTER XVII.
Locomotive, Number One—Barnard Castle—Buying a Calf on Sunday—Baliol’s Tower—From Canute to the Duke of Cleveland—Historic Scenery—A surprised Northumbrian—The bearded Hermit—Beauty of Teesdale—Egliston Abbey—The Artist and his Wife—Dotheboys Hall—Rokeby—Greta Bridge—Mortham Tower—Brignall Banks—A Pilgrimage to Wycliffe—Fate of the Inns—The Felon Sow—A Journey by Omnibus—Lartington—Cotherstone—Scandinavian Traces—Romaldkirk—Middleton-in-Teesdale—Wild Scenery—High Force Inn—The voice of the Fall 136[Pg xiii]
CHAPTER XVIII.
Early Morn—High Force—Rock and Water—A Talk with the Waitress—Hills and Cottages—Cronkley Scar—The Weel—Caldron Snout—Soothing Sound—Scrap from an Album—View into Birkdale—A Quest for Dinner—A Westmoreland Farm—Household Matters—High Cope Nick—Mickle Fell—The Boys’ Talk—The Hill-top—Glorious Prospect—A Descent—Solitude and Silence—A Moss—Stainmore—Brough—The Castle Ruin—Reminiscences 146
CHAPTER XIX.
Return into Yorkshire—The Old Pedlar—Oh! for the Olden Time—“The Bible, indeed!”—An Emissary—Wild Boar Fell—Shunnor Fell—Mallerstang—The Eden—A Mountain Walk—Tan Hill—Brown Landscape—A School wanted—Swaledale—From Ling to Grass—A Talk with Lead Miners—Stonesdale—Work for a Missionary—Thwaite—A Jolly Landlord—A Ruined Town—The School at Muker—A Nickname—Buttertubs Pass—View into Wensleydale—Lord Wharncliffe’s Lodge—Simonstone—Hardraw Scar—Geological Phenomenon—A Frozen Cone—Hawes 157
CHAPTER XX.
Bainbridge—“If you had wanted a wife”—A Ramble—Millgill Force—Whitfell Force—A Lovely Dell—The Roman Camp—The Forest Horn, and the old Hornblower—Haymaking—A Cockney Raker—Wensleydale Scythemen—A Friend indeed—Addleborough—Curlews and Grouse—The First Teapot—Nasty Greens—The Prospect—Askrigg—Bolton Castle—Penhill—Middleham—Miles Coverdale’s Birthplace—Jervaux Abbey—Moses’s Principia—Nappa Hall—The Metcalfes—The Knight and the King—The Springs—Spoliation of the Druids—The great Cromlech—Legend—An ancient Village—Simmer Water—An advice for Anglers—More Legends—Counterside—Money-Grubbers—Widdale—Newby Head 165
CHAPTER XXI.
About Gimmer Hogs—Gearstones—Source of the Ribble—Weathercote Cave—An Underground Waterfall—A Gem of a Cave—Jingle Pot—The Silly Ducks—Hurtle Pool—The Boggart—A Reminiscence of the Doctor—Chapel-le-Dale—Remarkable Scenery—Ingleborough—Ingleton—Craven—Young Daniel Dove, and Long Miles—Clapham—Ingleborough Cave—Stalactite and Stalagmite—Marvellous Spectacle—Pillar Hall—Weird Music—Treacherous Pools—The Abyss—How Stalactite forms—The Jockey Cap—Cross Arches—The Long Gallery—The Giant’s Hall—Mysterious Waterfall—A Trouty Beck—The Bar-Parlour—A Bradford Spinner 177[Pg xiv]
CHAPTER XXII.
By Rail to Skipton—A Stony Town—Church and Castle—The Cliffords—Wharfedale—Bolton Abbey—Picturesque Ruins—A Foot-Bath—Scraps from Wordsworth—Bolton Park—The Strid—Barden Tower—The Wharfe—The Shepherd Lord—Reading to Grandfather—A Cup of Tea—Cheerful Hospitality—Trout Fishing—Gale Beck—Symon Seat—A Real Entertainer—Burnsall—A Drink of Porter—Immoralities—Threshfield—Kilnsey—The Crag—Kettlewell—A Primitive Village—Great Whernside—Starbottom—Buckden—Last View of Wharfedale—Cray—Bishopdale—A Pleasant Lane—Bolton Castle—Penhill—Aysgarth—Dead Pastimes—Decrease of Quakers—Failure of a Mission—Why and Wherefore—Aysgarth Force—Drunken Barnaby—Inroad of Fashion 191
CHAPTER XXIII.
A Walk—Carperby—Despotic Hay-time—Bolton Castle—The Village—Queen Mary’s Prison—Redmire—Scarthe Nick—Pleasing Landscape—Halfpenny House—Hart-Leap Well—View into Swaledale—Richmond—The Castle—Historic Names—The Keep—St. Martin’s Cell—Easby Abbey—Beautiful Ruins—King Arthur and Sleeping Warriors—Ripon—View from the Minster Tower—Archbishop Wilfrid—The Crypt—The Nightly Horn—To Studley—Surprising Trick—Robin Hood’s Well—Fountains Abbey—Pop goes the Weasel—The Ruins—Robin Hood and the Curtall Friar—To Thirsk—The Ancient Elm—Epitaphs 206
CHAPTER XXIV.
Sutton: a pretty Village—The Hambleton Hills—Gormire Lake—Zigzags—A Table-Land—Boy and Bull Pup—Skawton—Ryedale—Rievaulx Abbey—Walter L’Espec—A Charming Ruin—The Terrace—The Pavilion—Helmsley—T’ Boos—Kirkby Moorside—Helmsley Castle—A River swallowed—Howardian Hills—Oswaldkirk—Gilling—Fairfax Hall—Coxwold—Sterne’s Residence—York—The Minster Tower—Yorke, Yorke, for my monie—The Four Bars—The City Walls—The Ouse Legend—Yorkshire Philosophical Society—Ruins and Antiquities—St. Mary’s Lodge 217
CHAPTER XXV.
By Rail to Leeds—Kirkstall Abbey—Valley of the Aire—Flight to Settle—Giggleswick—Drunken Barnaby again—Nymph and Satyr—The astonished Bagman—What do they Addle?—View from Castleber—George Fox’s Vision on Pendle Hill—Walk to Maum—Companions—Horse versus Scenery—Talk by the Way—Little Wit, muckle Work—Malham Tarn—Ale for Recompense—Malham—Hospitality—Gordale Scar—Scenery versus Horse—Trap for Trout—A Brookside Musing—Malham Grove—Source of the Aire—To Keighley 226[Pg xv]
CHAPTER XXVI.
Keighley—Men in Pinafores—Walk to Haworth—Charlotte Brontë’s Birthplace—The Church—The Pew—The Tombstone—The Marriage Register—Shipley—Saltaire—A Model Town—Household Arrangements—I isn’t the Gaffer—A Model Factory—Acres of Floors—Miles of Shafting—Weaving Shed—Thirty Thousand Yards a Day—Cunning machinery—First Fleeces—Shipley Feast—Scraps of Dialect—To Bradford—Rival Towns—Yorkshire Sleuth-hounds—Die like a Britoner 235
CHAPTER XXVII.
Bradford’s Fame—Visit to Warehouses—A Smoky Prospect—Ways and Means of Trade—What John Bull likes—What Brother Jonathan likes—Vulcan’s Head-quarters—Cleckheaton—Heckmondwike—Busy Traffic—Mirfield—Robin Hood’s Grave—Batley the Shoddyopolis—All the World’s Tatters—Aspects of Batley—A Boy capt—The Devil’s Den—Grinding Rags—Mixing and Oiling—Shoddy and Shoddy—Tricks with Rags—The Scribbling Machine—Short Flocks, Long Threads—Spinners and Weavers—Dyeing, Dressing, and Pressing—A Moral in Shoddy—A surprise of Real Cloth—Iron, Lead, and Coal—To Wakefield—A Disappointment—The Old Chapel—The Battle-field—To Barnsley—Bairnsla Dialect—Sheffield 245
CHAPTER XXVIII.
Clouds of Blacks—What Sheffield was and is—A detestable Town—Razors and Knives—Perfect Work, Imperfect Workmen—Foul Talk—How Files are made—Good Iron, Good Steel—Breaking-up and Melting—Making the Crucibles—Casting—Ingots—File Forgers—Machinery Baffled—Cutting the Teeth—Hardening—Cleaning and Testing—Elliott’s Statue—A Ramble to the Corn-Law Rhymer’s Haunt—Rivelin—Bilberry gatherers—Ribbledin—The Port’s Words—A Desecration—To Manchester—A few Words on the Exhibition 256
CHAPTER XXIX.
A Short Chapter to end with 266

[Pg 1]

A MONTH IN YORKSHIRE.


CHAPTER I.
A SHORT CHAPTER TO BEGIN WITH.

I had cheerful recollections of Yorkshire. My first lessons in self-reliance and long walks were learned in that county. I could not forget how, fresh from the south, I had been as much astonished at the tall, stalwart forms of the men, their strange rustic dialect and rough manners, as by their hearty hospitality. Nor could I fail to remember the contrast between the bleak outside of certain farm-houses and the rude homely comfort inside, where a ruddy turf fire glowed on the hearth, and mutton hams, and oaten bread, and store of victual burdened the racks of the kitchen ceiling. Nor the generous entertainment of more than one old hostess in little roadside public-houses, who, when I arrived at nightfall, weary with travel, would have me sit at the end of the high-backed settle nearest the fire, or in the ‘neukin’ under the great chimney, and bustle about with motherly kindness to get tea ready; who, before I had eaten the first pile of cakes, would bring a second, with earnest assurance that a “growing lad” could never eat too much; who talked so sympathisingly during the evening—I being at times the only guest—wondering much that I should be so far away from home: had I no friends? where was I going? and the like; who charged me only eighteenpence for tea, bed, and breakfast, and once slily thrust into my pocket, at parting, a couple of cakes, which I did not discover till half way across a snow-drifted moor, where no house was in sight for many miles.[Pg 2] All this, and much more which one does not willingly forget, haunted my memory.

The wild scenery of the fells, the tame agricultural region, and the smoky wapentakes, where commerce erects more steeples than religion, were traversed during my rambles. While wandering in the neighbourhood of Keighley, I had seen Charlotte Brontë’s birthplace, long before any one dreamed that she would one day flash as a meteor upon the gaze of the “reading public.” Rosebury Topping had become familiar to me in the landscapes of Cleveland, and now a desire possessed me to get on the top of that magnificent cone. In the villages round about its base I had shared the pepper-cake of Christmas-tide; and falling in with the ancient custom prevalent along the eastern coast from Humber to Tyne, had eaten fried peas on Carlin Sunday—Mid-Lent of the calendar—ere the discovery of that mineral wealth, now known to exist in such astonishing abundance, that whether the British coal-fields will last long enough or not to smelt all the ironstone of Cleveland, is no longer a question with a chief of geologists. I had mused in the ruin where Richard the Second was cruelly murdered, at Pontefract; had looked with proper surprise at the Dropping Well, at Knaresborough, and into St. Robert’s Cave, the depository of Eugene Aram’s terrible secret; had walked into Wakefield, having scarcely outlived the fond belief that there the Vicar once dwelt with his family; and when the guard pointed out the summits as the coach rolled past on the way from Skipton to Kirkby Lonsdale, had no misgivings as to the truth of the saying:

“Penigent, Whernside, and Ingleborough,
Are the three highest hills all England thorough.”

Unawares, in some instances, I had walked across battlefields, memorable alike in the history of the county, and of the kingdom; where marauding Scots, dissolute Hainaulters, Plantagenets and Tudors, Cavalier and Roundhead had rushed to the onslaught. Marston Moor awoke the proudest emotions, notwithstanding my schoolboy recollections of what David Hume had written thereupon; while Towton was something to wonder at, as imagination flew back to the time when

“Palm Sunday chimes were chiming
All gladsome thro’ the air,
And village churls and maidens
Knelt in the church at pray’r;[Pg 3]
When the Red Rose and the White Rose
In furious battle reel’d;
And yeomen fought like barons,
And barons died ere yield.
When mingling with the snow-storm,
The storm of arrows flew;
And York against proud Lancaster
His ranks of spearmen threw.
When thunder-like the uproar
Outshook from either side,
As hand to hand they battled
From morn to eventide.
When the river ran all gory,
And in hillocks lay the dead,
And seven and thirty thousand
Fell for the White and Red.

When o’er the Bar of Micklegate
They changed each ghastly head,
Set Lancaster upon the spikes
Where York had bleached and bled.

There still wild roses growing—
Frail tokens of the fray—
And the hedgerow green bear witness
Of Towton field that day.”

Did the decrepit old shambles, roofed with paving-flags, still encumber the spacious market-place at Thirsk? Did the sexton at Ripon Minster still deliver his anatomical lecture in the grim bone-house, and did the morality of that sedate town still accord with the venerable adage, “as true steel as Ripon rowels?” Was York still famous for muffins, or Northallerton for quoits, cricket, and spell-and-nurr? and was its beer as good as when Bacchus held a court somewhere within sight of the three Ridings, and asked one of his attendants where that new drink, “strong and mellow,” was to be found? and

“The boon good fellow answered, ‘I can tell
North-Allerton, in Yorkshire, doth excel
All England, nay, all Europe, for strong ale;
If thither we adjourn we shall not fail
To taste such humming stuff, as I dare say
Your Highness never tasted to this day.’”

Hence, when the summer sun revived my migratory instinct, I inclined to ramble once more in Yorkshire. There would be no lack of the freshness of new scenes, for my former wanderings had not led me to the coast, nor to the finest of the old abbeys—those ruins of wondrous beauty, nor to the remote dales where crowding hills abound with the pictur[Pg 4]esque. Here was novelty enough, to say nothing of the people and their ways, and the manifold appliances and results of industry which so eminently distinguish the county, and the grand historical associations of the metropolitan city, once the “other Rome,” of which the old rhymester says—

“Let London still the just precedence claim,
York ever shall be proud to be the next in fame.”

I was curious, moreover, to observe whether the peculiar dialect or the old habits were dying out quite so rapidly as some social and political economists would have us believe.

Quaint old Fuller, among the many nuggets imbedded in his pages, has one which implies that Yorkshire being the biggest is therefore the best county in England. You may take six from the other thirty-nine counties, and put them together, and not make a territory so large as Yorkshire. The population of the county numbers nearly two millions. When within it you find the distances great from one extremity to the other, and become aware of the importance involved in mere dimensions. In no county have Briton, Roman, and Dane left more evident traces, or history more interesting waymarks. Speed says of it: “She is much bound to the singular love and motherly care of Nature, in placing her under so temperate a clime, that in every measure she is indifferently fruitful. If one part of her be stone, and a sandy barren ground, another is fertile and richly adorned with corn-fields. If you here find it naked and destitute of woods, you shall see it there shadowed with forests full of trees, that have very thick bodies, sending forth many fruitful and profitable branches. If one place of it be moorish, miry, and unpleasant, another makes a free tender of delight, and presents itself to the eye full of beauty and contentive variety.”

Considering, furthermore, that for two years in succession I had seen the peasantry in parts of the north and south of Europe, and had come to the conclusion (under correction, for my travel is brief) that the English labourer, with his weekly wages, his cottage and garden, is better off than the peasant proprietor of Germany and Tyrol,—considering this, I wished to prove my conclusion, and therefore started hopefully for Yorkshire.

And again, does not Emerson say, “a wise traveller will naturally choose to visit the best of actual nations.”

[Pg 5]


CHAPTER II.

Estuary of the Humber—Sunk Island—Land versus Water—Dutch Phenomena—Cleathorpes—Grimsby—Paul—River Freaks—Mud—Stukeley and Drayton—Fluvial Parliament—Hull—The Thieves’ Litany—Docks and Drainage—More Dutch Phenomena—The High Church—Thousands of Piles—The Citadel—The Cemetery—A Countryman’s Voyage to China—An Aid to Macadam.

As the Vivid steamed past the Spurn lighthouse, I looked curiously at the low sandy spit on which the tall red tower stands, scarcely as it seems above the level of the water, thinking that my first walk would perhaps lead thither. At sight of the Pharos, and of the broad estuary alive with vessels standing in, the Yorkshiremen on board felt their patriotism revive, and one might have fancied there was a richer twang in their speech than had been perceptible in the latitude of London. A few who rubbed their hands and tried to look hearty, vowed that their future travels should not be on the sea. The Vivid is not a very sprightly boat, but enjoys or not, as the case may be, a reputation for safety, and for sleeping-cabins narrower and more stifling than any I ever crept into. But one must not expect too much when the charge for a voyage of twenty-six hours is only six and sixpence in the chief cabin.

Not without reason does old Camden remark of the Humber, “it is a common rendezvous for the greatest part of the rivers hereabouts,” for it is a noble estuary, notwithstanding that water and shore are alike muddy. It is nearly forty miles long, with a width of more than two miles down to about three leagues from the lighthouse, where it widens to six or seven miles, offering a capacious entrance to the sea. The water has somewhat of an unctuous appearance, as if overcharged with contributions of the very fattest alluvium[Pg 6] from all parts of Yorkshire. The results may be seen on the right, as we ascend. There spreads the broad level of Sunk Island, a noteworthy example of dry land produced by the co-operation of natural causes and human industry. The date of its first appearance above the water is not accurately known; but in the reign of Charles II. it was described as three thousand five hundred acres of “drowned ground,” of which seven acres were enclosed by embankments; and was let at five pounds a year. A hundred years later fifteen hundred acres were under cultivation, producing a yearly rental of seven hundred pounds to the lessee; but he, it is said, made but little profit, because of the waste and loss occasioned by failure of the banks and irruptions of the tides. In 1802 the island reverted to the Crown, and was re-let on condition that all the salt marsh—nearly three thousand acres—which was “ripe for embankment,” should be taken in, and that a church and proper houses should be built, to replace the little chapel and five cottages which ministered as little to the edification as to the comfort of the occupants. In 1833 the lease once more fell in, and the Woods and Forests, wisely ignoring the middlemen, let the lands directly to the ‘Sunk farmers,’ as they are called in the neighbourhood, and took upon themselves the construction and maintenance of the banks. A good road was made, and bridges were built to connect the Island with the main, and as the accumulations of alluvium still went on, another ‘intake’ became possible in 1851, and now there are nearly 7000 acres, comprising twenty-three farms, besides a few small holdings, worth more than 12,000l. of annual rent. It forms a parish of itself, and not a neglected one; for moral reclamation is cared for as well as territorial. The clergyman has a sufficient stipend; the parishioners supplemented the grants made by Government and the Council of Education, and have now a good schoolhouse and a competent schoolmaster.

The Island will continue to increase in extent and value as long as the same causes continue to operate; and who shall set limits to them? Already the area is greater than that described in the last report of the Woods and Forests, which comprehends only the portion protected by banks. The land when reclaimed is singularly fertile, and free from stones, and proves its quality in the course of three or four years, by producing spontaneously a rich crop of white clover. Another[Pg 7] fact, interesting to naturalists, was mentioned by Mr. Oldham in a report read before the British Association, at their meeting in Hull. “When the land, or rather mud-bank, has nearly reached the usual surface elevation, the first vegetable life it exhibits is that of samphire, then of a very thin wiry grass, and after this some other varieties of marine grass; and when the surface is thus covered with vegetation, the land may at once be embanked; but if it is enclosed from the tide before it obtains a green carpet, it may be for twenty years of but little value to agriculture, for scarcely anything will grow upon it.”

This is not the only place on the eastern coast where we may see artificial land, and banks, dikes, and other defences against the water such as are commonly supposed to be peculiar to the Netherlands.

The windows of Cleathorpes twinkling afar in the morning sun, reveal the situation of a watering-place on the opposite shore much frequented by Lincolnshire folk. Beyond rises the tall and graceful tower of Grimsby Docks, serving at once as signal tower and reservoir of the water-power by which the cranes and other apparatus are worked, and ships laden and unladen with marvellous celerity. These docks cover a hundred acres of what a few years ago was a great mud-flat, and are a favourable specimen of what can be accomplished by the overhasty enterprise of the present day. Grimsby on her side of the river now rivals Hull on the other, with the advantage of being nearer the sea, whereby some miles of navigation are avoided.

Turning to the right again we pass Foul Holme Sand, a long narrow spit, covered at half-tide, which some day may become reclaimable. A little farther and there is the church of Paghill or Paul, standing on a low hill so completely isolated from the broken village to which it belongs, that the distich runs:

“High Paul, and Low Paul, Paul, and Paul Holme,
There was never a fair maid married in Paul town.”

The vessel urges her way onwards across swirls and eddies innumerable which betray the presence of shoals and the vigorous strife of opposing currents. The spring tides rise twenty-two feet, and rush in with a stream at five miles an hour, noisy and at times dangerous, churning the mud and[Pg 8] shifting it from one place to another, to the provocation of pilots. It is mostly above Hull that the changes take place, and there they are so sudden and rapid that a pilot may find the channel by which he had descended shifted to another part of the river on his return a few days afterwards. There also islands appear and disappear in a manner truly surprising, and in the alternate loss or gain of the shores may be witnessed the most capricious of phenomena. Let one example suffice: a field of fourteen acres, above Ferriby, was reduced to less than four acres in twenty years, although the farmer during that time had constructed seven new banks for the defence of his land.

Some notion of the enormous quantity of mud which enters the great river may be formed from the fact that fifty thousand tons of mud have been dredged in one year from the docks and basins at Hull. The steam-dredge employed in the work lifts fifty tons of mud in an hour, pours it into lighters, which when laden drop down with the tide, and discharge their slimy burden in certain parts of the stream, where, as is said, it cannot accumulate.

Stukely, who crossed the estuary during one of his itineraries, remarks: “Well may the Humber take its name from the noise it makes. My landlord, who is a sailor, says in a high wind ’tis incredibly great and terrible, like the crash and dashing together of ships.” The learned antiquary alludes probably to the bore, or ager as it is called, which rushes up the stream with so loud a hum that the popular mind seeks no other derivation for Humber. Professor Phillips, in his admirable book on Yorkshire, cites the Gaelic word Comar, a confluence of two or more waters, as the origin; and Dr. Latham suggests that Humber may be the modified form of Aber or Inver. Drayton, in Polyolbion, chants of a tragical derivation; and as I take it for granted, amicable reader, that you do not wish to travel in a hurry, we will pause for a few minutes to listen to the debate of the rivers, wherein “thus mighty Humber speaks:”

“My brave West Riding brooks, your king you need not scorn,
Proud Naiades neither ye, North Riders that are born,
My yellow-sanded Your, and thou my sister Swale
That dancing come to Ouse, thro’ many a dainty dale,
Do greatly me enrich, clear Derwent driving down
From Cleveland; and thou Hull, that highly dost renown,[Pg 9]
Th’ East Riding by thy rise, do homage to your king,
And let the sea-nymphs thus of mighty Humber sing;
That full an hundred floods my wat’ry court maintain
Which either of themselves, or in their greater’s train
Their tribute pay to me; and for my princely name,
From Humber king of Hunns, as anciently it came,
So still I stick to him: for from that Eastern king
Once in me drown’d, as I my pedigree do bring:
So his great name receives no prejudice thereby;
For as he was a king, so know ye all that I
Am king of all the floods, that North of Trent do flow;
Then let the idle world no more such cost bestow,
Nor of the muddy Nile so great a wonder make,
Though with her bellowing fall, she violently take
The neighbouring people deaf; nor Ganges so much praise,
That where he narrowest is, eight miles in broadness lays
His bosom; nor so much hereafter shall be spoke
Of that (but lately found) Guianian Oronoque,
Whose cataract a noise so horrible doth keep
That it even Neptune frights: what flood comes to the deep,
Than Humber that is heard more horribly to roar?
For when my Higre comes, I make my either shore
Even tremble with the sound, that I afar do send.”

The view of Hull seen from the water is much more smoky than picturesque. Coming nearer we see the Cornwallis anchored off the citadel, looking as trim and earnest as one fancies an English seventy-four ought to look, and quite in keeping with the embrasured walls through which guns are peeping on shore. The quay and landing-places exhibit multifarious signs of life, especially if your arrival occur when the great railway steam-ferry-boat is about to start. There is, however, something about Hull which inspires a feeling of melancholy. This was my third visit, and still the first impression prevailed. It may be the dead level, or the sleepy architecture, or the sombre colour, or a combination of the three, that touches the dismal key. “Memorable for mud and train oil” was what Etty always said of the town in which he served an apprenticeship of seven weary years; yet in his time there remained certain picturesque features which have since disappeared with the large fleet of Greenland whale-ships whereof the town was once so proud:—now migrated to Peterhead. However, we must not forget that Hull is the third port in the kingdom; that nearly a hundred steamers arrive and depart at regular intervals from over sea, or coastwise, or from up the rivers; that of the 4000 tons of German yeast now annually imported, worth nearly £200,000, it receives more than two-thirds; that it was one of the first[Pg 10] places to demonstrate the propulsion of vessels by the power of steam. Nor will we forget that we are in one of the towns formerly held in wholesome dread by evil-doers when recommendation to mercy was seldom heard of, as is testified by the thieves’ litany of the olden time, thus irreverently phrased:

“From Hull, Hell, and Halifax,
Good Lord deliver us.”

Halifax, however, stood pre-eminent for sharp practice; a thief in that parish had no chance of stealing twice, for if he stole to the value of thirteenpence halfpenny, he was forthwith beheaded.

Andrew Marvell need not have been so severe upon the Dutch, considering how much there was in his native county similar in character and aspect to that which he satirised. You soon discover that this character still prevails. Is not the southern landing place of the steam-ferry named New Holland? and here in Hull, whichever way you look, you see masts, and are stopped by water or a bridge half open, or just going to open, whichever way you walk. It is somewhat puzzling at first; but a few minutes’ survey from the top of the High Church affords an explanation.

Following the line once occupied by the old fortifications—the walls by which Parliament baffled the king—the docks form a continuous water-communication from the river Hull on one side to the Humber on the other, so that a considerable portion of the town has become an island, and the sight of masts and pennons in all directions, some slowly moving, is accounted for. At the opening of the Junction Dock in 1829, whereby the desired connection was established, the celebration included circumnavigation of the insular portion by a gaily decorated steamer.

The amphibious Dutch-looking physiognomy thus produced is further assisted by the presence of numerous windmills in the outskirts, and the levelness of the surrounding country. A hundred years ago, and the view across what is now cultivated fields would have comprehended as much water as land, if not more. Should a certain popular authoress ever publish her autobiography, she will, perhaps, tell us how Mr. Stickney, her father, used when a boy to skate three or four miles to school over unreclaimed flats within sight of this church[Pg 11] tower of Hull, now rich in grass and grain. Only by a system of drainage and embankment on a great scale, and a careful maintenance, has the reclamation of this and other parts of Holderness been accomplished. Taylor, the water-poet, who was here in 1632, records,

“It yearly costs five hundred pounds besides
To fence the towne from Hull and Humber’s tydes,
For stakes, for bavins, timber, stones, and piles,
All which are brought by water many miles;
For workmen’s labour, and a world of things,
Which on the towne excessive charges brings.”

British liberty owes something to this superabundance of water. Hull was the first town in the kingdom to shut its gates against the king and declare for the people, and was in consequence besieged by Charles. In this strait, Sir John Hotham, the governor, caused the dikes to be cut and sluices drawn, and laid the whole neighbourhood under water, and kept the besiegers completely at bay. The Royalists, to retaliate, dug trenches to divert the stream of fresh water that supplied the town,—a means of annoyance to which Hull, from its situation, was always liable. In the good old times, when the neighbouring villagers had any cause of quarrel with the townsfolk, they used to throw carrion and other abominations into the channel, or let in the salt-water, nor would they desist until warned by a certain Pope in an admonitory letter.

The church itself, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is a handsome specimen of florid Gothic, dating from the reign of Edward II. You will perhaps wish that the effect of the light tall columns, rising to the blue panelled roof, were not weakened by the somewhat cold and bare aspect of the interior. If you are curious about bells, there are inscriptions to be deciphered on some of those that hang in the tower; and in the belfry you may see mysterious tables hanging on the wall of ‘grandsire bobs,’ and ‘grandsire tripples;’ things in which the ringers take pride, but as unintelligible to the uninitiated as Babylonish writing. There, too, hangs the ringers’ code of laws, and a queer code it is! One of the articles runs:—“Every Person who shall Ring any Bell with his Hat or Spurs on, shall Forfeit and Pay Sixpence, for the Use of the Ringers.” And the same fine is levied from “any Person who shall have Read Any of these Orders[Pg 12] with his Hat upon his Head;” from which, and the characteristic touches in the other “orders,” you will very likely come to some strange conclusions respecting the fraternity of ringers.

The market-place is in the main street, where a gilt equestrian statue of William III. looks down on stalls of fruit, fish, and seaweed, and the moving crowd of townsfolk and sailors. By the side of the Humber dock rises the Wilberforce monument, a tall column, bearing on its capital a statue of the renowned advocate of the negroes. And when you have looked at these and at the hospital, and walked through the garrison, you will have visited nearly all that is monumental in Hull.

At low water, the little river Hull is a perfect representation of a very muddy ditch. While crossing the ferry to the citadel, the old boatman told me he could remember when every high tide flowed up into the streets of the town, but the new works for the docks now keep the water out. Hundreds of piles were driven into the sandy bank to establish a firm foundation for the massive walls, quays, and abutments. At the time when timber rose to an enormous price in consequence of Napoleon’s continental blockade, the piles of the coffer-dam which had been buried seven years, were pulled up and sold for more than their original cost. Government gave the site of some old military works and 10,000l. towards the formation of the first dock, on condition that it should be made deep enough to receive ships of fifty guns.

In records of the reign of Henry VIII. there appears—“Item: the Kinges Ma’tes house to be made to serve as a Sitidell and a speciall kepe of the hole town.” The present citadel has an antiquated look, and quiet withal, for the whole garrison, at the time I walked through it, numbered only twenty-five artillerymen. Judging from my own experience, one part of the sergeant’s duty is to shout at inquisitive strangers who get up on the battery to look through an embrasure, and the more vehemently as they feign not to hear till their curiosity is satisfied. There is room in the magazines for twenty thousand stand of arms, and ordnance stores for a dozen ships of the line. A ditch fed from the Hull completely separates the fortifications from the neighbouring ship-yards.

Half a day’s exploration led me to the conclusion that the[Pg 13] most cheerful quarter of Hull is the cemetery. I was sitting there on a grassy bank enjoying the breeze, when a countryman came up who perhaps felt lonely, for he sat down by my side, and in less than a minute became autobiographical. He was a village carpenter, “came forty mile out of Lincolnshire” for the benefit of his health; had been waiting three days for his brother’s ship, in which he meant to take a voyage to China, and feeling dull walked every day to the cemetery; for, he said, “It’s the pleasantest place I can find about the town.” I suggested reading as a relief; but he “couldn’t make much out o’readin’—’ud rather work the jack-plane all day than read.” The long voyage to China appeared to offer so good an opportunity for improving himself in this particular that I urged him to take a few books on board, and gave an assurance that one hour’s study every day would enable him to read with pleasure by the time he returned.

“Oh, but we be on’y three days a-going,” he answered.

I had played the part of an adviser to no purpose, for it appeared, on further questioning, that his brother’s ship was a small sloop trading to some port beyond the North Sea about three days distant; he did not know where it was, but was sure his brother called it China. I mentioned the names of all the ports I could think of to discover the real one if possible, but in vain; nor have I yet found one that has the sound of China.

One thing I saw on my way back to the town, which London—so apt to be self-conceited—might adopt with signal advantage. It was a huge iron roller drawn by horses up and down a newly macadamised road. Under the treatment of the ponderous cylinder, the broken stone, combined with a sprinkling of asphalte, is reduced to a firm and level surface, over which vehicles travel without any of that distressing labour and loss of time and temper so often witnessed in the metropolis, where a thousand pair of wheels produce less solidity in a week than the roller would in a day; especially on the spongy roads presided over by St. Pancras.

Late in the evening, while walking about the streets, even in the principal thoroughfares, I saw evidences enough of—to use a mild adjective—an unpolished population. The northern characteristics were strongly marked.

[Pg 14]


CHAPTER III.

A Railway Trip—More Land Reclamation—Hedon—Historical Recollections—Burstwick—The Earls of Albemarle—Keyingham—The Duke of York—Winestead—Andrew Marvell’s Birthplace—A Glimpse of the Patriot—Patrington—A Church to be proud of—The Hildyard Arms—Feminine Paper-hangers—Walk to Spurn—Talk with a Painter—Welwick—Yellow Ochre and Cleanliness—Skeffling—Humber Bank—Miles of Mud—Kilnsea—Burstall Garth—The Greedy Sea—The Sandbank—A Lost Town, Ravenser Odd—A Reminiscence from Shakspeare—The Spurn Lighthouse—Withernsea—Owthorne—Sister Churches—The Ghastly Churchyard—A Retort for a Fool—A Word for Philologists.

By the first train on the morrow I started for Patrington. The windmills on the outskirts of the town were soon left behind, and away we went between the thick hedgerows and across the teeming fields, which, intersected by broad deep drains, and grazed by sleek cattle, exhibit at once to your eye the peculiarities of Holderness. All along between the railway and the river there are thousands of acres, formerly called the ‘out-marshes,’ which have been reclaimed, and now yield wonderful crops of oats. After the principal bank has been constructed, the tide is let in under proper control to a depth of from three to five feet, and is left undisturbed until all the mud held in suspension is deposited. The impoverished flood is then discharged through the sluices, and in due time, after the first has stiffened, a fresh flow is admitted. By this process of ‘warping,’ as it is called, three or four feet of mud will be thrown down in three years, covering the original coarse, sour surface with one abounding in the elements of fertility. Far inland, even up the Trent, and around the head of the Humber within reach of the tide, the farmers have recourse to warping, and not unfrequently prefer a fresh layer of mud to all other fertilisers.

About every two miles we stop at a station, and at each there is something to be noted and remembered. Hedon, a dull decayed town, now two miles from the river, once the commercial rival of Hull, has something still to be proud of in[Pg 15] its noble church, “the pride of Holderness.” Here, too, within a fence, stands the ancient cross, which, after several removals, as the sea devoured its original site—a royal adventurer’s landing-place—found here a permanent station. At Burstwick, two miles farther, lay the estates, the caput baroniæ, of the renowned Earls of Albemarle. A few minutes more and another stop reminds us of Keyingham bridge, where a party of the men of Holderness opposed the passage of Edward IV. with his three hundred Flemings, some carrying strange fire-weapons, until he replied to their resolute question that he had only come to claim his dukedom of York. A “dukedom large enough” for a wise man. And, as tradition tells, Keyingham church was the scene of a miracle in 1392, when all the doors were split by a lightning-stroke, and the tomb of Master Philip Ingleberd, formerly rector, sweated a sweetly-scented oil, perhaps out of gratitude to the patron saint for the escape of thirteen men who fell all at once with the ladder while seeking to put out the fire in the steeple, and came to no harm. Then Winestead, which was, if the parish-register may be believed, the birthplace of Andrew Marvell—not Hull, as is commonly reported of the incorruptible Yorkshire man. His father was rector here, but removed to Hull during the poet’s infancy, which may account for the error. The font in which he was christened having fallen into neglect, was used as a horse-trough, until some good antiquary removed it into the grounds of Mr. Owst, at Keyingham, where it remains safe among other relics. Andrew represented Hull in parliament for twenty years, and was the last member who, according to old usage, received payment for his services. One’s thought kindles in thinking of him here at this quiet village, as a friend of Milton, like him using his gifts manfully and successfully in defence of the Englishman’s birthright. What a happy little glimpse we get of him in the lines—

“Climb at court for me that will—
Tottering favour’s pinnacle;
All I seek is to lie still,
Settled in some secret nest,
In calm leisure let me rest,
And far off the public stage,
Pass away my silent age.
Thus, when without noise, unknown,
I have lived out all my span,
I shall die without a groan,
An old honest countryman.”
[Pg 16]

Then Patrington—erst Patrick’s town—one of those simple-looking places which contrast agreeably with towns sophisticated by the clamour and bustle of trade; and although a few gas-lamps tell of innovation, a market not more than once a fortnight upholds the authority of ancient usage. You see nearly the whole of the town at once; a long, wide, quiet street, terminated by a graceful spire, so graceful, indeed, that it will allure you at once to the church from which it springs; and what a feast for the eye awaits you! Truly the “pride of Holderness” is not monopolised by Hedon. The style is that which prevailed in the reign of Edward II., and is harmonious throughout, from weathercock to door-sill. You will walk round it again and again, admiring the beauty of its design and proportion, pausing oft to contemplate the curious carvings, and the octagonal spire springing lightly from flying buttresses to a height of one hundred and ninety feet. The gargoyles exhibit strange conceits; chiselled to represent a fiddler—a bagpiper—a man holding a pig—a fiend griping a terrified sinner—a lion thrusting his tongue out—and others equally incongruous. How I wished the architect would come to life for an hour to tell me what he meant by them, and by certain full-length figures carved on the buttresses, which accord so little with our modern sense of decency, much less with the character of a religious house! Inside you find a corresponding lightness and gracefulness, and similarly relieved by a sprinkling of monsters. The east or ‘Ladye aisle’ contains three chantry chapels; the ‘Easter sepulchre’ is a rare specimen of the sculptor’s art, and the font hewn from a single block of granite displays touches of a master hand. St. Patrick’s church at Patrington is an edifice to linger in; an example of beauty in architecture in itself worth a journey to Yorkshire.

There are relics, too, of an earlier age: embankments discovered some feet below the present surface, fragments of buildings, an altar, and other objects of especial interest to the antiquary, for they mark Patrington as the site of a Roman station. An important station, if the supposition be correct that this was the Prætorium of Antoninus—the place where some of the legions disembarked to subjugate the Brigantes.

To eat breakfast under the sign of the Hildyard Arms—a name, by the way, which preserves in a modified form the old Saxon Hildegarde—seemed like connecting one’s-self with[Pg 17] remote antiquity. The ancestors of the Hildyards were here before the Conquest. One of the family, Sir Christopher, is commemorated by a handsome monument in Winestead church. The landlord, willing to entertain in more ways than one, talked of the improvements that had taken place within his remembrance. The railway was not one of them, for it took away trade from the town, and deadened the market. Visitors were but few, and most of those who came wondered at seeing so beautiful a church in such an out-of-the-way place. He could show me a garden near the churchyard which was said to be the spot where the building-stone was landed from boats; but the water had sunk away hundreds of years ago. Patrington haven—a creek running up from the Humber—had retreated from the town, and since the reclamation of Sunk Island, required frequent dredging to clear it of mud. The farmers in the neighbourhood were very well content with the harvests now yielded by the land. In 1854 some of them reaped “most wonderful crops.”

I had seen a woman painting her door-posts, and asked him whether that was recognised as women’s work in Patrington. “Sure,” he answered, “all over the country too. Women do the whitewashing, and painting, ay, and the paper-hanging. Look at this room, now! My daughter put that up.”

I did look, and saw that the pattern on the walls sloped two or three inches from the perpendicular, whereby opposite sides of the room appeared to be leaning in contrary directions. However, I said nothing to disparage the damsel’s merits.

From Patrington to Spurn the distance is thirteen miles. Hoping to walk thither and back in the day, I snapped the thread of the landlord’s talk, and set out for the lighthouse. Presently I overtook a man, and we had not walked half a mile together before I knew that he was a master-painter in a small way at Patrington, now going to paper a room at Skeffling, a village five miles off. To hear that he would get only sixpence a piece for the hanging surprised me, for I thought that nowhere out of London would any one be silly enough to hang paper for a halfpenny a yard.

“You see,” he rejoined, “there’s three in the trade at Patrington, and then ’tis only the bettermost rooms that we gets to do. The women does all the rest, and the painting besides. That’s where it is. But ’taint such a very bad job as I be going to. They finds their own paste, and there’s nine[Pg 18] pieces to hang: that’ll give me four and sixpence; and then I shall get my dinner, and my tea too, if I don’t finish too soon. So it’ll be a pretty fair day’s work.” And yet the chances were that he would have to wait six months for payment.

We passed through Welwick—place of wells—a small, clean village, with a small, squat church, with carvings sadly mutilated on the outside, and inside, a handsome tomb. At Plowland, near this, lived the Wrights, confederates in the Gunpowder Plot. Nearly all the cottages are models of cleanliness; the door-sill and step washed with yellow ochre, and here and there you see through the open door that the walls of the room inside are papered, and the little pictures and simple ornaments all in keeping. You will take pleasure in these indications, and perhaps believe them to be the result of an affection for cleanliness. The walls of some of the houses and farm-yards are built of pebbles—‘sea-cobbles,’ as they are called—placed zigzag-wise, with a novel and pretty effect: and the examples multiply as we get nearer the sea, where they may be seen in the walls of the churches.

At Skeffling the painter turned into a farm-house which looked comfortably hospitable enough to put him at ease regarding his dinner, and as if it had little need to take six months’ credit for four and sixpence, while I turned from the high-road into a track leading past the church—which, by the way, has architectural features worthy examination—to the coarse and swarthy flats where the distant view is hidden by a great embankment that runs along their margin for miles. Once on the top of this ‘Humber-bank,’ I met a lusty breeze sweeping in from the sea, and had before me a singular prospect—the bank itself stretching far as the eye can see in a straight line to the east and west, covered with coarse grass and patches of gray, thistle-like, sea-holly—Eryngo maritima. Its outer sloop is loose sand falling away to the damp line left by the tide, beyond which all is mud—a great brown expanse outspread for miles. The tide being at its lowest, only the tops of the masts of small vessels are to be seen, moving, as it seems, mysteriously: the river itself is hardly discernible. In places the mud lies smooth and slimy; in others thickly rippled, or tossed into billows, as if the water had stamped thereon an impression of all its moods. Fishermen wade across it in huge boots from their boats to the firm[Pg 19] beach, and dig down through it two or three feet to find stiff holding-ground for their anchors.

Yonder rises the lighthouse, surprisingly far, as it seems, to seaward, at times half hidden by a thin, creeping haze. And from Spurn to Sunk Island this whole northern shore is of the same brown, monotonous aspect: a desert, where the only living things are a few sea-birds, wheeling and darting rapidly, their white wings flashing by contrast with the sad-coloured shore.

I walked along the top of the bank to Kilnsea, deceived continually in my estimate of distance by the long dead level. Here and there a drain pierces the bank, and reappears on the outer side as a raised sewer, with its outlet beyond high-water mark; and these constructions, as well as the waifs and strays—old baskets and dead seagulls—cheat the eye strangely as to their magnitude when first seen. At times, after a lashing storm has swept off a few acres of the mud, the soil beneath is found to be a mixture of peat and gravel, in which animal and vegetable remains and curious antiquities are imbedded. Now and then the relics are washed out, and show by their character that they once belonged to Burstall Priory, a religious house, despoiled by the sea before King Harry began his Reformation. Burstall Garth, one of the pastures traversed by the bank, preserves its name: the building itself has utterly disappeared.

Suddenly a gap occurs in the bank, showing where the unruly tide has broken through. For some reason the mischief was not repaired, but a new bank was constructed of chalk and big pebbles, about a stone’s throw to the rear. A green, slimy pool still lies in a hollow between the two.

The entertainment at the Crown and Anchor at Kilnsea by no means equals the expectations of a stranger who reads the host’s aristocratic name—Metforth Tennison—over the door. I found the bread poor; the cheese poorer; the beer poorest; yet was content therewith, knowing that vicissitude is good for a man. The place itself has a special interest, telling, so to speak, its own history—a history of desolation. The wife, pointing to the road passing between the house and the beach, told me she remembered Kilnsea church standing at the seaward end of the village, with as broad a road between it and the edge of the cliff. But year by year, as from time immemorial the sea advanced, the road, fields, pastures, and[Pg 20] cottages were undermined and melted away. Still the church stood, and though it trembled as the roaring waves smote the cliff beneath, and the wind howled around its unsheltered walls, service was held within it up to 1823. In that year it began to yield, the walls cracked, the floor sank, the windows broke; sea-birds flew in and out, shrieking in the storm, until, in 1826, one-half of the edifice tumbled into the sea, and the other half followed in 1831. The chief portion of the village stands on and near the cliff, but as the waste appears to be greater there than elsewhere, houses are abandoned year by year. In 1847, the Blue Bell Inn was five hundred and thirty-four yards from the shore; of this quantity forty-three yards were lost in the next six years. Kilnsea exists, therefore, only as a diminished and diminishing parish, and in the few scattered cottages near the bank of the Humber. The old font was carried away from the church to Skeffling, where it is preserved in the garden of the parsonage.

Her reminiscences ended, the good woman talked of the rough walking that lay before me. It was a wild place out there, not often visited by strangers; but sometimes “wagon loads o’ coontra foak cam’ to see t’ loights.” At one time, as I have heard, a stage-coach used to do the journey for the gratification of the curious.

A short distance beyond the Crown and Anchor stands a small lone cottage built of sea-cobbles, with a sandy garden and potato-plot in front, and a sandy field, in which a thin, stunted crop of rye was making believe to grow. Once past this cottage, and all is a wild waste of sand, covered here and there with reedy grass, among which you now and then see a dusty pink convolvulus, struggling, as it were, to keep alive a speck of beauty amid the barrenness. Here, as old chronicles tell, the king once had ‘coningers,’ or rabbit-warrens, and rabbits still burrow in the hillocks. Presently, there is the wide open sea on your left, and you can mark the waves rushing up on either side, hissing and thundering against the low bank that keeps them apart.

“A broad long sand in the shape of a spoon,” is the description given of Spurn in a petition presented to parliament nearly two hundred years ago; and, if we suppose the spoon turned upside down, it still answers. It narrows and sinks as it projects from the main shore for about two miles, and this part being the weakest and most easily shifted by the rapid[Pg 21] currents, is strengthened every few yards by rows of stakes driven deeply in, and hurdle work. You see the effect in the smooth drifts accumulated in the space between the barriers, which only require to be planted with grass to become fixed. As it is, the walking is laborious: you sink ankle-deep and slide back at every step, unless you accept the alternative of walking within the wash of the advancing wave. For a long while the lighthouse appears to be as far off as ever.

A little farther, and we are on a rugged embankment of chalk: the ground is low on each side, and a large pond rests in the hollow between us and the sea on the left, marking the spot where, a few years ago, the sea broke through and made a clean sweep all across the bank. Every tide washed it wider and deeper, until at last the fishing-vessels used it as a short cut in entering or departing from the river. The effect of the breach would, in time, had a low-water channel been established, have seriously endangered the shore of the estuary, besides threatening destruction to the site of the lighthouse. As speedily, therefore, as wind and weather would permit, piles and stakes were driven in, and the gap was filled up with big lumps of chalk brought from the quarry at Barton, forming an embankment sloped on both sides, to render the shock of the waves as harmless as possible. The trucks, rails, and sleepers with which the work had been accomplished were still lying on the sand, awaiting removal. Henceforth measures of precaution will be taken in time, for a conservator of the river has been appointed.

The depth of the bay formed by the spoon appears to increase more and more each time you look back. How vast is the curve between this bank of chalk and the point where we struck the shore from Skeffling! The far-spreading sands—or rather mud—are known as the Trinity Dry Sands. At this moment they are disappearing beneath the rising tide, and you can easily see what thousands of acres might be reclaimed were a barrier erected to keep out the water. “Government have been talkin’ o’ doing it for years,” said a fisherman to whom I talked at Kilnsea, “but ’taint begun yet.”

Desolate as is now the scene, it was once enlivened by the dwellings of men and the stir of commerce. Off the spot where we stand, there lay, five hundred years ago, a low islet, accessible by a flat ridge of sand and yellow pebbles,[Pg 22] known as Ravenser Odd, or Ravensrode, as some write it. “Situate at the entry to the sea,” it was a port regarded with envy and fear by the merchants of Grimsby and Hull, for its pilots were skilful, and its traders enterprising. For a time it flourished; but while the rival Roses wasted the realm, the sea crept nearer, and at length, after an existence of a century and a half, distinctly traceable in ancient records and old books, a high tide, enraged by a storm, ended the history of Ravenser Odd with a fearful catastrophe. A gravelly bank, running outwards, still discoverable by excavation, is believed to be the foundation of the low, flat ridge of sand and yellow pebbles along which the folk of the little town passed daily to and fro; among them at times strange seamen and merchants from far-away lands, and cowled monks and friars pacing meekly on errands of the Church.

And yonder, near the bottom of the curve, stood the town variously described as Ravenser, Ravenspurne, and Ravenspurg—a town that sent members to parliament in the reigns of the first two Edwards, and was considered of sufficient importance to be invited to take part in the great councils held in London, when the “kinge’s majestie” desired to know the naval forces of the kingdom. Now, twice a day, the tide rolls in triumphantly over its site.

“The banish’d Bolingbroke repeals himself,
And with uplifted arms is safe arriv’d
At Ravenspurg,”

writes Shakspeare, perpetuating alike the name of the place and the memory of the Duke of Lancaster’s adventure,—an adventure brought before us in an invective by the fiery Hotspur, which I may, perhaps, be pardoned for introducing here:

“My father, my uncle, and myself,
Did give him that same royalty he wears:
And,—when he was not six and twenty strong,
Sick in the world’s regard, wretched and low,
A poor unminded outlaw, sneaking home,—
My father gave him welcome to the shore:
And,—when he heard him swear a vow to God,
He came but to be Duke of Lancaster,
To sue his livery, and beg his peace;
With tears of innocency and terms of zeal,—
My father, in kind heart and pity mov’d,
Swore him assistance, and performed it too.
Now, when the lords and barons of the realm
Perceived Northumberland did lean to him,[Pg 23]
The more and less came in with cap and knee;
Met him in boroughs, cities, villages;
Attended him on bridges, stood in lanes,
Laid gifts before him, proffered him their oaths,
Gave him their heirs; as pages follow’d him,
Even at the heels, in golden multitudes.
He presently,—as greatness knows itself,—
Steps me a little higher than his vow
Made to my father, while his blood was poor,
Upon the naked shore at Ravenspurg.”

The cross set up to commemorate the landing was shifted from place to place when endangered by the sea, and lastly to Hedon, where it still remains, as already mentioned. It was at the same port that Edward IV. landed, with an excuse plausible as that of the duke whose exploit he imitated.

Though it be “naked” still, and toilsome to walk on, the shore is by no means barren of interest. By-and-by we come to firm ground, mostly covered with thickly-matted grass; a great irregular, oval mound, which represents the bowl of the spoon reversed. Near its centre is a fenced garden and a row of cottages—the residence of the life-boat crew. A little farther, on the summit of the ridge, stands the lighthouse, built by Smeaton, in 1776, and at the water’s edge, on the inner side, the lower light. The principal tower is ninety feet in height, and from the gallery at the top you get an excellent bird’s-eye view over sea and land. Most remarkable is the tongue of sand along which we have walked, now visible in its whole extent and outline. It is lowest where the breach was made, and now that the tide has risen higher, the chalk embankment seems scarcely above the level of the water. Beyond that it broadens away to the shore of the estuary on one side, and the coast of Holderness on the other—low, sweeping lines which your eye follows for miles. By the waste of that coast the Spurn is maintained, and the Trinity Sands are daily enlarged, and the meadows fattened along Ouse and Trent. First the lighter particles of the falling cliffs drift round by the set of the current, and gradually the heavier portions and pebbles follow, and the supply being inexhaustible, a phenomenon is produced similar to that of the Chesil Bank, on the coast of Dorsetshire, except that here the pebbles are for the most part masked by sand.

I looked northwards for Flamborough Head, but Dimlington Hill, which lies between, though not half the height, hides it completely. Beyond Dimlington lies Withernsea, a[Pg 24] small watering-place, the terminus of the Hull and Holderness Railway, to which the natives of the melancholy town betake themselves for health and recreation, tempted by a quadrille band and cheap season-tickets. Adjoining Withernsea is all that remains of Owthorne, a village which has shared the doom of Kilnsea. The churches at the two places were known as ‘sister churches;’ that at Withernsea yet stands in ruins; but Owthorne church was swept into the sea within the memory of persons now living. The story runs that two sisters living there, each on her manor, in the good old times, began to build a church for the glory of God and the good of their own souls, and the work went on prosperously until a quarrel arose between them on the question of spire or tower. Neither would yield. At length a holy monk suggested that each sister should build a church on her own manor; the suggestion was approved, and for long years the Sister Churches resounded with the voice of prayer and praise, and offered a fair day-mark to the mariner.

But, as of old, the devouring sea rushed higher and higher upon the land, and the cliff, sapped and undermined, fell, and with it the church of Owthorne. In 1786, the edge of the burial-ground first began to fail; the church itself was not touched till thirty years later. It was a mournful sight to see the riven churchyard, and skeletons and broken coffins sticking out from the new cliff, and bones, skulls, and fragments of long-buried wood strewn on the beach. One of the coffins washed out from a vault under the east end of the church contained an embalmed corpse, the back of the scalp still bearing the gray hairs of one who had been the village pastor. The eyes of the villagers were shocked by these ghastly relics of mortality tossed rudely forth to the light of day; and aged folk who tottered down to see the havoc, wept as by some remembered token they recognised a relative or friend of bygone years, whom they had followed to the grave—the resting place of the dead, as they trusted, till the end of time. In some places bodies still clad in naval attire, with bright-coloured silk kerchiefs round the neck, were unearthed, as if the sea were eager to reclaim the shipwrecked sailors whom it had in former time flung dead upon the shore.

But, to return to the lighthouse. According to Smeaton’s survey this extremity of the spoon comprehends ninety-eight[Pg 25] acres. It slopes gently to the sea, and is somewhat altered in outline by every gale. At the time of my visit, rows of piles were being driven in, and barriers of chalk erected, to secure the ground on the outer side between the tower and the sea; and a new row of cottages for the life-boat crew, built nearer to the side where most wrecks occur than the old row, was nearly finished. Beyond, towards the point, stands a public-house, in what seems a dangerous situation, close to the water. There was once a garden between it and the sea; now the spray dashes into the rear of the house; for the wall and one-half of the hindermost room have disappeared along with the garden, and the hostess contents herself with the rooms in front, fondly hoping they will last her time. She has but few guests now, and talks with regret of the change since the digging of ballast was forbidden on the Spurn. Then trade was good, for the diggers were numerous and thirsty. That ballast-digging should ever have been permitted in so unstable a spot argues a great want of forethought somewhere.

The paved enclosure around the tower is kept scrupulously clean, for the rain which falls thereon and flows into the cistern beneath is the only drinkable water to be had. “It never fails,” said the keeper, “but in some seasons acquires a stale flavour.” He was formerly at Flamborough, and although appointment to the Spurn was promotion, he did not like it so well. It was so lonesome; the rough, trackless way between, made the nearest village seem far off; now and then a boat came across with visitors from Cleathorpes, a seven miles’ trip; there had been one that morning, but not often enough to break the monotony. And he could not get much diversion in reading, for the Trinity Board, he knew not why, had ceased to circulate the lighthouse library.

The lesser tower stands at the foot of the inner slope, where its base is covered by every tide. Its height is fifty feet, and the entrance, approached by a long wooden bridge, is far above reach of the water. This is the third tower erected on the same spot; the two which preceded it suffered so much damage from the sea that they had to be rebuilt.

About the time that ambitious Bolingbroke landed, a good hermit, moved with pity by the number of wrecks, and the dangers that beset the mouth of the estuary, set up a light somewhere near Ravenser. But finding himself too poor to[Pg 26] maintain it, he addressed a petition to the “wyse Commons of Parliament,” for succour, and not in vain. The mayor of Hull, with other citizens, were empowered “to make a toure to be up on daylight and a redy bekyn wheryn shall be light gevyng by nyght to alle the vesselx that comyn into the seid ryver of Humbre.”

In the seventeenth century, Mr. Justinian Angell, of London, obtained a license to build a lighthouse on the Spurn. It was an octagonal tower of brick, displaying an open coal fire on the top, which in stormy weather was frequently blown quite out, when most wanted. Wrecks were continually taking place; and it is only since Smeaton completed his tower, and the floating-light was established in the offing, and the channel was properly buoyed, that vessels can approach the Humber with safety by night as well as by day.

It was full tide when I returned along the chalky embankment, and the light spray from the breakers sprinkled my cheek, giving me a playful intimation of what might be expected in a storm.

I was passing a tilery near Welwick, when a beery fellow, who sat in the little office with a jug before him and a pipe in his mouth, threw up the window and asked, in a gruff, insolent tone, “A say, guvner, did ye meet Father Mathew?”

“Yes.”

“What did he say to ye?”

“He told me I should see a fool at the tileworks.”

Down went the window with a hearty slam, and before I was fifty yards away, the same voice rushed into the road and challenged me to go back and fight. And when the owner of the voice saw that the stranger took no heed thereof, he cried, till hidden by a bend in the road, “Yer nothin’ but t’ scram o’ t’ yerth!—yer nothin’ but t’ scram o’ t’ yerth!”

Thinking scram might be the Yorkshire for scum, I made a note of it for the benefit of philologists, and kept on to Patrington, where I arrived in time for the last train to Hull, quite content with six-and-twenty miles for my first day’s walk.

[Pg 27]


CHAPTER IV.

Northern Manners—Cottingham—The Romance of Baynard Castle—Beverley—Yorkshire Dialect—The Farmers’ Breakfast—Glimpses of the Town—Antiquities and Constables—The Minster—Yellow Ochre—The Percy Shrine—The Murdered Earl—The Costly Funeral—The Sister’s Tomb—Rhyming Legend—The Fridstool—The Belfry.

Journeying from Hull to Beverley by ‘market-train’ on the morrow, I had ample proof, in the noisy talk of the crowded passengers, that Yorkshire dialect and its peculiar idioms are not “rapidly disappearing before the facilities for travel afforded by railways.” Nor could I fail to notice what has before struck me, that taken class for class, the people north of Coventry exhibit a rudeness, not to say coarseness of manners, which is rarely seen south of that ancient city. In Staffordshire, within twenty miles of Birmingham, there are districts where baptism, marriage, and other moral and religious observances considered as essentials of Christianity, are as completely disregarded as among the heathen. In some parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire similar characteristics prevail; but rude manners do not necessarily imply loose morality. Generally speaking the rudeness is a safety-valve that lets off the faults or seeming faults of character; and I for one prefer rudeness to that over-refinement prevalent in Middlesex, where you may not call things by their right names, and where, as a consequence, the sense of what is fraudulent, and criminal, and wicked, has become weakened, because of the very mild and innocent words in which ‘good society’ requires that dishonesty and sin should be spoken of.

If we alight at Cottingham and take a walk in the neighbourhood we may discover the scene of a romantic incident. There stood Baynard Castle, a grand old feudal structure, the residence of Lord Wake. When Henry VIII. lay at Hull, he sent a messenger to announce a royal visit to the castle,[Pg 28] anticipating, no doubt, a loyal reception; but the lord instead of pride felt only alarm, for his wife, whom he loved truly, was very beautiful, and he feared for the consequences should the amorous monarch set eyes on her beauty. He resolved on a stratagem: gave instructions to his confidential steward; departed at dead of night with his wife; and before morning nothing of the castle remained but a heap of smoking ruins. The king, on hearing of the fire, little suspecting the cause, generously sent a gift of two thousand pounds, with friendly words, to mitigate the loss; but the wary lord having evaded the visit, refused also to receive the money. And now, after lapse of centuries, there is nothing left but traces of a moat and rampart, to show the wayfarer where such an ardent sacrifice was made to true affection.

Even among the farmers, at whose table I took breakfast at the Holderness Hotel, at Beverley, there was evidence that broad Yorkshire is not bad Dutch, as the proverb says:

“Gooid brade, botter, and cheese,
Is gooid Yorkshire, and gooid Friese.”

The farmers talked about horses, and, to my surprise, they ate but daintily of the good things, the beef, ham, mutton, brawn, and other substantial fare that literally burdened the table. Not one played the part of a good trencherman, but trifled as if the victim of dinners fashionably late; and still more to my surprise, when the conversation took a turn, they all spoke disdainfully of walking. That sort of exercise was not at all to their liking. “I ha’n’t walked four mile I don’t know when,” said one; and his fellows avowed themselves similarly lazy. My intention to walk along the coast to the mouth of the Tees appeared to them a weakminded project.

Beverley has a staid, respectable aspect, as if aware of its claims to consideration. Many of the houses have an old-world look, and among them a searching eye will discover unmistakable bits of antiquity. A small columnar building in the market-place is called the market-cross; beyond it stands a rare old specimen of architecture, St. Mary’s church, the scene of the accident recorded by the ancient rhymer:—

“At Beverley a sudden chaunce did falle,
The parish chirche stepille it fell
At evynsonge tyme, the chaunce was thralle,
Ffourscore folke ther was slayn thay telle.”
[Pg 29]

Beyond the church, one of the old town gates, a heavy stone arch, bestrides the street. At the other end of the town, screened by an ancient brick wall, you may see the house of the Black Friars—more venerable than picturesque—besides little glimpses of the middle ages on your straggling saunter thither. Among these are not a few of that sort of endowments which give occasion for abuses, and perpetuate helplessness. And of noticeable peculiarities you will perhaps think that one might be beneficially imitated in other towns. A Constable Lives Here is a notification which you may read on sundry little boards, topped by a royal crown, nailed here and there over the doors.

But the minster is the great attraction, rich in historical associations and architectural beauty. The edifice, as it now appears, has all been built since the destruction by fire, in 1138, of an older church that stood on the same spot. The style is diverse, a not uncommon characteristic of ancient churches: Early English at the east end, Decorated in the nave, and Perpendicular in the west front and some minor portions. This western front is considered the master-work, for not one of its features is out of harmony with the others—a specimen of the Perpendicular, so Rickman signifies, not less admirable than the west front of York Minster of the Decorated. The effect, indeed, is singularly striking as you approach it from a quiet back street. I found a seat in a favourable point of view, and sat till my eye was satisfied with the sight of graceful forms, multiplied carvings, the tracery and ornament from base to roof, and upwards, where the towers, two hundred feet in height, rise grandly against the bright blue sky.

However much you may admire yellow ochre on door-steps, door-posts, and in the passages and on the stairs of dwelling-houses, you will think it out of place when used to hide the natural colour of the masonry in a noble church. For me, the effect of the interior was marred by the yellow mask of the great pillars. The eye expects repose and harmony, and finds itself cheated. Apart from this, the lofty proportions, the perspective of the aisles, the soaring arches, the streaming lights and tinted shadows, fail not in their power to charm. Your architect is a mighty magician. All the windows, as is believed, were once filled with stained glass, for the large east window was glazed in 1733 with the numerous fragments that[Pg 30] remained after the destroyers of ecclesiastical art had perpetrated their mischief. The colours show the true old tone; and the effect, after all, is not unpleasing.

The Percy shrine on the north side of the choir is one of the monuments to which, after viewing the carved stalls and the altar screen, the sexton will call your special attention. It is a canopied tomb of exquisite workmanship, enriched with various carvings, figures of knights and angels, crockets and finials; marking the resting-place, as is supposed, of the Lady Idonea Clifford, wife of the second Lord Percy of Alnwick. The Percys played a conspicuous part in Yorkshire history. Another of the family, grandson of Hotspur, reposes, as is said, under a tomb in the north transept. He was not a warrior, but a prebend of Beverley. Then, at the east end, the Percy chapel, which has lost its beauty through mutilation, commemorates Henry, the fourth Earl of Northumberland, who was massacred at his seat, Maiden Bower, near Topcliffe, in 1489. Authorized by Henry VII. to answer the appeal of the leading men of his neighbourhood against a tax which levied one-tenth of their property, by a declaration that not one penny would be abated, he delivered his message in terms so haughty and imperious, that the chiefs losing patience, brought up their retainers, sacked the house and murdered the earl. The corpse was buried here in the minster; and the funeral, which cost a sum equivalent to 10,000l. present value, is described as of surpassing magnificence. Among the numerous items set down in the bill of charges is twopence a piece for fourteen thousand “pore folk” at the burial.

In the south aisle of the nave stands another canopied tomb, an altar tomb of elegant form, covered by a slab of Purbeck marble, which appears never to have had a word of inscription to tell in whose memory it was erected. Neither trace nor record: nothing but tradition, and Venerable Bede. St. John of Beverley had only to send a cruse of water into which he had dipped his finger to a sick person to effect a cure. He once restored the wife of Earl Puch, who lived at Bishop Burton, a few miles distant. The lady drank a draught of holy water, and recovered forthwith from a grievous sickness. She had two daughters who, overawed by the miracle, entered the nunnery at Beverley, where they won a reputation for holiness and good works. It was they who gave the two pastures on which freemen of the town still graze their cattle.[Pg 31] The rest of their story is told in the ballad: it was Christmas-eve, says the rhymer, the customary service had been performed in the chapel; the abbess and her nuns slowly retired to pursue their devotions apart in their cells, all save two, who lingered and went forth hand in hand after the others. Whither went they? On the morrow they were missing; and

“The snow did melt, the Winter fled
Before the gladsome Spring,
And flowers did bud, the cuckoo piped,
And merry birds did sing:
“And Spring danced by, and crowned with boughs
Came lusty Summer on:
And the bells ring out, for ’tis the eve,
The eve of blessed St. John.
“But where bide they, the sisters twain?
Have the holy sisters fled?
And the abbess and all her nuns bewail’d
The sisters twain for dead.
“Then walk they forth in the eventide,
In the cool and dusky hour;
And the abbess goes up the stair of stone
High on the belfry tower,
“Now Christ thee save! thou sweet ladye,
For on the roof-tree there,
Like as in blessed trance y-rapt,
She sees the sisters fair.
“Whence come ye, daughters? long astray:
’Tis but an hour, they tell,
Since we did chant the vesper hymn,
And list the vesper bell.
“Nay, daughters, nay! ’tis months agone:
Sweet mother, an hour we ween;
But we have been in heaven each one,
And holy angels seen.”

A miracle! cries the rhymer; and he goes on to tell how that the nuns repair to the chapel and chant a hymn of praise, after which the two sisters, kneeling, entreat the abbess for her blessing, and no sooner has she pronounced Vade in pace, than drooping like two fair lilies, two pale corpses sink to the floor. Then the bells break into a chime wondrously sweet, rung by no earthly hand; and when the sisters are[Pg 32] laid in the tomb, they suffer no decay. Years passed away, and still no change touched those lovely forms and angelic features:

“And pilgrims came from all the land,
And eke from oversea,
To pray at the shrine of the sisters twain,
And St. John of Beverley.”

Another noteworthy object is King Athelstan’s Fridstool, or chair of peace; the centre of a sanctuary which extended a mile from the minster in all directions. Any fugitive who could once sit therein was safe, whatever his crime. When Richard II. encamped at Beverley, on his way to Scotland, his half-brother, Sir John Holland, having aided in the atrocious murder of Lord Ralph Stafford, fled to the Fridstool, nor would he leave it until assured of the king’s pardon. “The Countess of Warwick is now out of Beverley sanctuary,” says Sir John Paston, writing to his brother in June, 1473—the days of Edward IV. The chair, hewn from a single block of stone, is very primitive in form and appearance; and as devoid of beauty as some of the seats in the Soulages collection. Athelstan was a great benefactor to the church. You may see his effigy, and that of St. John, at the entrance to the choir and over a door in the south transept, where he is represented as handing a charter to the holy man, of which one of the privileges is recorded in old English characters:

Als Fre make I The
As hert may thynke or Egh may see.

Such a generous giver deserved to be held in honour, especially if the eye were to see from the height of the tower, to the top of which I now mounted by the narrow winding-stair. While stopping to take breath in the belfry, you will perhaps be amused by a table of ringer’s laws, and a record of marvellous peals, the same in purport as those exhibited at Hull. You can take your time in the ascent, for sextons eschew climbing, at least in all the churches I visited in Yorkshire.

[Pg 33]


CHAPTER V.

A Scotchman’s Observations—The Prospect—The Anatomy of Beverley—Historical Associations—The Brigantes—The Druids—Austin’s Stone—The Saxons—Coifi and Paulinus—Down with Paganism—A Great Baptism—St. John of Beverley—Athelstan and Brunanburgh—The Sanctuary—The Conqueror—Archbishop Thurstan’s Privileges—The Sacrilegious Mayor—Battle of the Standard—St. John’s Miracles—Brigand Burgesses—Annual Football—Surrounding Sites—Watton and Meaux—Etymologies—King Athelstan’s Charter.

“On my first coming to England I landed at Hull, whose scenery enraptured me. The extended flatness of surface—the tall trees loaded with foliage—the large fat cattle wading to the knees in rich pasture—all had the appearance of fairy-land fertility. I hastened to the top of the first steeple—thence to the summit of Beverley Minster, and wondered over the plain of verdure and rank luxury, without a heathy hill or barren rock, which lay before me. When, after being duly sated into dulness by the constant sight of this miserably flat country, I saw my old bare mountains again, my ravished mind struggled as if it would break through the prison of the body, and soar with the eagle to the summit of the Grampians. The Pentland, Lomond, and Ochil hills seemed to have grown to an amazing size in my absence, and I remarked several peculiarities about them which I had never observed before.”

This passage occurs in the writings of the late James Gilchrist, an author to whom I am indebted for some part of my mental culture. I quote it as an example of the different mood of mind in which the view from the top of the tower may be regarded. To one fresh from a town it is delightful. As you step on the leads and gaze around on what was once called “the Lowths,” you are surprised by the apparently boundless expanse—a great champaign of verdure, far as eye can reach,[Pg 34] except where, in the north-west, the wolds begin to upheave their purple undulations. The distance is forest-like: nearer the woods stand out as groves, belts, and clumps, with park-like openings between, and everywhere fields and hedgerows innumerable. How your eye feasts on the uninterrupted greenness, and follows the gleaming lines of road running off in all directions, and comes back at last to survey the town at the foot of the tower!

Few towns will bear inspection from above so well as Beverley. It is well built, and is as clean in the rear of the houses as in the streets. Looking from such a height, the yards and gardens appear diminished, and the trim flower-beds, and leafy arbours, and pebbled paths, and angular plots, and a prevailing neatness reveal much in favour of the domestic virtues of the inhabitants. And the effect is heightened by the green spaces among the bright red roofs, and woods which straggle in patches into the town, whereby it retains somewhat of the sylvan aspect for which it was in former times especially remarkable.

Apart from its natural features, the region is rich in associations. The history of Beverley, an epitome of that of the whole county, tempts one to linger, if but for half an hour. It will not be time thrown away, for a glimpse of the past may beneficially influence our further wanderings.

Here the territory of the Brigantes, which even the Romans did not conquer till more than a hundred years after their landing in Kent, stretched across the island from sea to sea. Here, deep in the great forest, the Druids had one of their sacred groves, a temple of living oaks, for their mysterious worship and ruthless sacrifices. Hundreds of tumuli scattered over the country, entombing kysts, coffins, fragments of skeletons, and rude pottery, and not less the names of streets and places, supply interesting testimony of their existence. Drewton, a neighbouring village, marks, as is said, the site of Druid’s-town, where a stone about twelve feet in height yet standing was so much venerated by the natives, that Augustine stood upon it to preach, and erected a cross thereupon that the worshipper might learn to associate it with a purer faith. It is still known as Austin’s Stone.

The Saxon followed, and finding the territory hollow between the cliffs of the coast and the wolds, named it HŚll-deira-ness, whence the present Holderness. It was in the[Pg 35] forest of Deira that the conference was held in presence of Edwin and Ethelburga, between the missionary Paulinus and Coifi, the high-priest of Odin, on the contending claims of Christianity and Paganism. The right prevailed; and Coifi, convinced by the arguments he had heard, seized a spear, and hurrying on horseback to the temple at Godmanham, cursed his deity, and hurled the spear at the image with such fury that it remained quivering in the wall of the sacred edifice. The multitude looked on in amazement, waiting for some sign of high displeasure at so outrageous a desecration. But no sign was given, and veering suddenly from dread to derision, they tore down the temple, and destroyed the sacred emblems. Edwin’s timorous convictions were strengthened by the result, and so great was the throng of converts to the new faith, that, as is recorded, Paulinus baptized more than ten thousand in one day in the Swale. According to tradition, the present church at Godmanham, nine miles distant, a very ancient edifice, was built from the ruins of the Pagan temple.

St. John of Beverley was born at Harpham, a village near Driffield—Deirafeld—in 640. Diligent in his calling, and eminently learned and conscientious, he became Archbishop of York. In 700 he founded here an establishment of monks, canons, and nuns, and rebuilt or beautified the church, which had been erected in the second century; and when, after thirty-three years of godly rule over his diocese, he laid aside the burden of authority, it was to the peaceful cloisters of Beverley that he retired. “He was educated,” says Fuller, “under Theodorus the Grecian, and Archbishop of Canterbury, yet was he not so famous for his teacher as for his scholar, Venerable Bede, who wrote this John’s life, which he hath so spiced with miracles, that it is of the hottest for a discreet man to digest into his belief.” He died in 721, and was buried in his favourite church, with a reputation for sanctity which eventually secured him a place in the calendar.

Was it not to St. John of Beverley that Athelstan owed the victory at Brunanburgh, which made him sole monarch of Northumbria? The fame of the “great battle” remains, while all knowledge of the site of Brunanburgh has utterly perished, unless, as is argued in the Proceedings of the Literary and Historical Society of Liverpool, it was fought near Burnley, in Lancashire. It was celebrated alike in Anglo-Saxon song and history. Greater carnage of people slain by the edge[Pg 36] of the sword, says the ancient chronicle, had never been seen in this island, since Angles and Saxons, mighty war-smiths, crossed the broad seas to Britain. Athelstan, in fulfilment of his vow, laid up his sword at the shrine of St. John, and added largely to the revenues and privileges of the church. A stone cross, erected on each of the four roads, a mile from the minster, marked the limits of the sanctuary which he conferred. One of these yet remains, but in a sadly mutilated condition.

When the Conqueror came and laid the country waste from Humber to Tees, trampling it into a “horrible wilderness,” he spared Beverley and the surrounding lands, yielding, as was believed, to the miraculous influence of the patron saint. One of his soldiers, who entered the town with hostile intent, became suddenly paralysed, and smitten with incurable disease; and a captain falling, by accident, as it seemed, from his horse, his head was turned completely round by the shock. These were warnings not to be disregarded; and Beverley remained a scene of fertile beauty amid the desolation.

One of John’s successors, Archbishop Thurstan, took pleasure also in fondling Beverley. He cut the canal, a mile in length, from the river Hull to the town: he gave to the inhabitants a charter of incorporation conferring similar privileges to those enjoyed by the citizens of York, whereby they were free from all fines and dues in England and Normandy; had the right to pontage—that is, a toll on all the barges and boats that passed under a bridge, as well as on the vehicles over it; and to worry debtors as rigorously as they chose, without fear of retaliation. In these anti-church-rate days it is surprising enough to read of the power exercised by an archbishop in the twelfth century. Thurstan had rule over the baronies of Beverley and five other places, with power to try and execute criminals, and punish thieves without appeal. In all the baronies the prisons were his; to him belonged the gibbet, pillory, and cucking-stool in the towns; the assize of bread and beer; waifs and wrecks of the sea; the right to ‘prises’ in the river Hull, diligently enforced by his watchful coroners; besides park and free warren, and all his land released from suit and service.

That taking of prises, by the way, was a standing cause of quarrel between the burghers of Hull and Beverley. The right to seize two casks of wine from every vessel of more than[Pg 37] twenty tons burthen that entered the river, one before, the other behind the mast, was a grievance too much akin to robbery to be borne with patience. The merchants, wise in their generation, tried to save their casks by discharging the cargoes into smaller vessels before entering the port; but the coroners detected the evasion, and took their prises all the same. Hence bitter quarrels; in which the Beverley ships, dropping down the stream to pursue their voyage, were many times barred out of the Humber by the men of Hull. Once, when the archbishop appeared at the port to defend his right, the mayor, losing temper, snatched the crosier from the dignitary’s hand, and, using it as a weapon, actually spilt blood with the sacred instrument.

Never was the saint’s influence more triumphantly felt than when Thurstan’s fiery eloquence roused the citizens of York to march against David of Scotland. The Scottish king, to support Maud’s claim against Stephen, ravaged Northumbria with such ferocious devastation, that it seemed but a repetition of the Norman havoc, and provoked the Saxon part of the population to join in repelling the invader. After threatening York, David moved northwards, followed by the Yorkshire army, which had rendezvoused at the castle of Thirsk. To inspire their patriotism, a great pole, topped by a crucifix, and hung with the standards of St. John of Beverley, St. Peter of York, and St. Wilfred of Ripon, was mounted on wheels, and placed where every eye could behold it. The Scottish army was overtaken three miles beyond Northallerton, on the 22nd of August, 1138. The king, seeing the threefold standard from afar, inquires of a deserter what it means; whereupon he replies, in the words of the ballad:

“A mast of a ship it is so high,
All bedeck’d with gold so gay;
And on its top is a Holy Cross,
That shines as bright as day.
“Around it hang the holy banners
Of many a blessed saint:
St Peter, and John of Beverley,
And St. Wilfrid there they paint.”

The king begins to have misgivings, and rejoins:

“Oh! had I but yon Holy Rood
That there so bright doth show,
I would not care for yon English host,
Nor the worst that they could do.”
[Pg 38]

But in vain: the Yorkshire blood was up, no quarter was given, and ten thousand Scotchmen bit the dust. So complete was the victory, that the oppressed Saxons boasted of it as an indemnity for their former sufferings; and the Battle of the Standard remains memorable among the greatest battles of Yorkshire, and the Standard Hill among her historical places.

Was it not the same St. John who afterwards appeared in full pontificals to Stephen, and warned him to stay his purpose of building a castle at Beverley? and was it not again his banner, saved from the fire when the town and minster were burnt in 1186, which rendered Edward I. victorious in his invasion of Scotland? Did not his tomb sweat blood on that famous day of Agincourt, and the rumour thereof bring Henry V. and his lovely Kate hither on a pilgrimage?

Then the chronicler tells us that one while the provost and burgesses, resolving to enlarge and beautify the minster, brought together the best workmen from all parts of England; and later, that the corporation repaired the edifice with stones taken from the neighbouring abbey of Watton. And so bitter became the quarrels between Hull and Beverley, that some of the chief men encouraged the insurrectionary movements known as the Rising of the North and the Pilgrimage of Grace, with no other purpose than to damage their rivals. The burgesses of Beverley, not having the fear of the marshal before their eyes, were accused of unfair trading: of keeping two yard measures and two bushels: unlawfully long and big to buy with—unlawfully short and small to sell with. And when in process of time the trade of the town decayed, evil-minded persons looked on the change as a judgment. At present there is little of manufacture within it besides that of the implements which have made the name of Crosskill familiar to farmers.

Some old customs lingered here obstinately. The cucking-stool was not abolished until 1750, which some think was a hundred years too soon. Ducking-stool-lane preserves its memory. And down to 1825, an annual match at football was played on the Sunday before the races, to which there gathered all the rabble of the town and adjacent villages, who for some years successfully resisted the putting down of what had become a nuisance. Instead of abolishing the game, it would have been better to change the day, and hold weekly football matches on the race-course.[Pg 39]

From the tower-top the eye takes in the site of Leckonfield, where the Percys had a castle; of Watton Abbey, where an English Abelard and Heloise mourned and suffered; of the scanty remains of Meaux Abbey, founded about 1140, by William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle. Concerning this nobleman, we read that he had vowed a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but grew so fat as to be detained at home against his will. Feeling remorse, he consulted his confessor, who advised him to establish a convent of Cistercians. A monk from Fountains, eminent alike for piety and skill in architecture, was invited to choose a site. He selected a park-like tract commanding a view of the Humber. The earl, loving the place, bade him reconsider his choice; but the monk, striking his staff into the ground, replied, “This place shall in future be called the door of life, the vineyard of heaven, and shall for ever be consecrated to religion and the service of God.” The abbey was built and tenanted by cowls from Fountains, and flourished until floods and high tides wasted the lands, and the Reformation destroyed the house.

But though one man may write a poem while “waiting on the bridge at Coventry,” another may hardly, without presumption, write a long chapter on the top of a tower. Let me end, therefore, while descending, with a scrap of etymology. Beaver lake, that is, the lake of floating islands, sacred to the Druids, is said by one learned scribe to be the origin of the name Beverley. Another finds it in the beavers that colonized the river Hull, with lea for a suffix, and point to an ancient seal, which represents St. John seated, resting his feet on a beaver. Did not the wise men of Camelford set up the figure of a camel on the top of their steeple, as a weathercock, because their river winds very much, and camel is the aboriginal British word for crooked? Other scholars trace Beverley through Bevorlac, back to Pedwarllech—the four stones.

And here, by way of finish, are a few lines from Athelstan’s charter:

“Yat witen all yat ever been
Yat yis charter heren and seen
Yat I ye King Athelstan
Has yaten and given to St. John
Of Beverlike yat sai you
Tol and theam yat wit ye now
Sok and sake over al yat land
Yat is given into his hand.”

[Pg 40]


CHAPTER VI.

The Great Drain—The Carrs—Submerged Forest—River Hull—Tickton—Routh—Tippling Rustics—A Cooler for Combatants—The Blind Fiddler—The Improvised Song—The Donkey Races—Specimens of Yorkshiremen—Good Wages—A Peep at Cottage Life—Ways and Means—A Paragraph for Bachelors—Hornsea Mere—The Abbots’ Duel—Hornsea Church—The Marine Hotel.

About a mile from the town on the road to Hornsea, you cross one of the great Holderness drains, broad and deep enough for a canal, which, traversing the levels, falls into the sea at Barmston. It crosses the hollow lands known as ‘the Carrs,’ once an insalubrious region of swamp and water covering the remains of an ancient forest. So deep was the water, that boats went from Beverley to Frothingham, and some of the farmers found more profit in navigating to and fro with smuggled merchandise concealed under loads of hay and barley than in cultivating their farms. For years a large swannery existed among the islands, and the “king’s swanner” used to come down and hold his periodical courts. The number of submerged trees was almost incredible: pines sixty feet in length, intermingled with yew, alder, and other kinds, some standing as they grew, but the most leaning in all directions, or lying flat. Six hundred trees were taken from one field, and the labourers made good wages in digging them out at twopence a piece. Some of the wood was so sound that a speculator cut it up into walking sticks. Generally, the upper layer consists of about two feet of peat, and beneath this the trees were found densely packed to a depth of twenty feet, and below these traces were met with in places of a former surface: the bottom of the hollow formed by the slope from the coast on one side, from the wolds on the other, to which Holderness owes its name. The completion of the[Pg 41] drainage works in 1835 produced a surprising change in the landscape; green fields succeeded to stagnant water; and the islands are now only discoverable by the ‘holm’ which terminates the name of some of the farms.

A little farther, and there is the river Hull, flowing clean and cheerful to the muddy Humber. Then comes Tickton, where, looking back from the swell in the road, you see a good sylvan picture—the towers of the minster rising grand and massy from what appears to be a great wood, backed by the dark undulations of the wolds.

In the public-house at Routh, where I stayed to dine on bread-and-cheese, the only fare procurable, I found a dozen rustics anticipating their tippling hours with noisy revelry. The one next whom I sat became immediately communicative and confidential, and, telling me they had had to turn out a quarrelsome companion, asked what was the best cure “for a lad as couldn’t get a sup o’ ale without wanting to fight.” I replied, that a pail of cold water poured down the back was a certain remedy; which so tickled his fancy that he rose and made it known to the others, with uproarious applause. For his own part he burst every minute into a wild laugh, repeating, with a chuckle, “A bucket o’ water!”

There was one, however, of thoughtful and somewhat melancholy countenance, who only smiled quietly, and sat looking apparently on the floor. “What’s the matter, Massey?” cried my neighbour.

“Nought. He’s a fool that’s no melancholy yance a day,” came the reply, in the words of a Yorkshire proverb.

“That’s you, Tom! Play us a tune, and I’ll dance.”

“Some folk never get the cradle straws off their breech,” came the ready retort with another proverb.

“Just like ’n,” said the other to me. “He’s the wittiest man you ever see: always ready to answer, be ’t squire or t’ parson, as soon as look at ’n. He gave a taste to Sir Clifford hisself not long ago. He can make songs and sing ’em just whenever he likes. I shouldn’t wunner if he’s making one now. He’s blind, ye see, and that makes ’n witty. We calls ’n Massey, but his name’s Mercer—Tom Mercer. Sing us a song, Tom!”

True enough. Nature having denied sight to him of the melancholy visage, made it up with a rough and ready wit, and ability to improvise a song apt to the occasion. He took[Pg 42] his fiddle from the bag and attempted to replace a broken string; but the knot having slipped two or three times, three or four of his companions offered their aid. The operation was, however, too delicate for clumsy fingers swollen with beer and rum, and as they all failed, I stepped forward, took the fiddle in hand, and soon gave it back to the minstrel, who, after a few preliminary flourishes, interrupted by cries of “Now for ’t!” struck up a song. With a voice not unmusical, rhythm good, and rhyme passable, he rattled out a lively ditty on the incidents of the hour, introducing all his acquaintances by name, and with stinging comments on their peculiarities and weaknesses. The effect was heightened by his own grave demeanour, and the fixed grim smile on his face, while the others were kicking up their heels, and rolling off their seats with frantic laughter.

“Didn’t I tell ye so!” broke in my neighbour, as he winced a little under a shaft unusually keen from the singer’s quiver.

I was quite ready to praise the song, which, indeed, was remarkable. The cleverest ‘Ethiopian minstrel’ could not chant his ditty more fluently than that blind fiddler caught up all the telling points of the hour. He touched upon the one who had been turned out, and on my hydropathic prescription, and sundry circumstances which could only be understood by one on the spot. Without pause or hesitation, he produced a dozen stanzas, of which the last two may serve as a specimen:

“Rebecca sits a shellin’ peas, ye all may hear ’em pop:
She knows who’s comin’ with a cart: he won’t forget to stop:
And Frank, and Jem, and lazy Mat, got past the time to think,
With ginger-beer and rum have gone and muddled all their drink.
With a fol lol, riddle, liddle, lol, lol, lol!
“Here’s a genelman fro’ Lunnon; ’tis well that he cam’ doun;
If he’d no coom ye rantin’ lads would happen had no tune:
Ye fumbled at the fiddle-strings; he screwed ’em tight and strong;
Success to Lunnon then I say, and so here ends my song.
With a fol lol, riddle, liddle, lol, lol, lol!”

Lusty acclamations and a drink from every man’s jug rewarded the fiddler, and a vigorous cry was set up for “The Donkey Races,” another of his songs, which, as lazy Mat told me, “had been printed and sold by hundreds.” The blind man, nothing loth, rattled off a lively prelude, and sang his song with telling effect. The race was supposed to be run by[Pg 43] donkeys from all the towns and villages of the neighbourhood: from Patrington, Hedon, Hull, Driffield, Beverley, and others, each possessed of a certain local peculiarity, the mention of which threw the company into ecstacies of merriment. And when the “donkey from York” was introduced along with his “sire Gravelcart” and his “dam Work,” two of the guests flumped from their chairs to laugh more at ease on the floor. The fiddler seemed to enjoy the effect of his music; but his grim smile took no relief; the twinkle of the eye was wanting. He was now sure of his game, for the afternoon at least.

While looking round on the party, I had little difficulty in discerning among them the three principal varieties of Yorkshiremen. There was the tall, broad-shouldered rustic, whose stalwart limbs, light gray or blue eyes, yellowish hair, and open features indicate the Saxon; there was the Scandinavian, less tall and big, with eyes, hair, and complexion dark, and an intention in the expression not perceptible in the Saxon face; and last, the Celt, short, swarthy, and Irish looking. The first two appeared to me most numerous in the East and North Ridings, the last in the West.

On the question of wages they were all content. Here and there a man got eighteen shillings a week; but the general rate was fifteen shillings, or “nine shill’n’s a week and our meat” (diet), as one expressed it. Whatever folk might do in the south, Yorkshire lads didn’t mean to work for nothing, or to put up with scanty food. “We get beef and mutton to eat,” said lazy Mat, “and plenty of it.”

The road continues between fat fields and pastures, skirts a park bordered by noble trees, or tall plantations, in which the breeze lingers to play with the branches: here and there a few cottages, or a hamlet, clean in-doors, and pretty out of doors, with gay little flower-gardens. Frequent thunder-showers fell, and I was glad to shelter from the heaviest under a roof. Always the same cleanliness and signs of thrift, and manifest pleasure in a brief talk with the stranger. And always the same report about wages, and plenty of work for men and boys; but a slowness to believe that sending a boy to school would be better than keeping him at work for five shillings a week. I got but few examples of reading, and those far from promising, and could not help remembering how different my experiences had been the year before in Bohemia.[Pg 44]

One of the cottages in which I took shelter stands lonely in a little wood. The tenant, a young labourer, who had just come home from work, “not a bit sorry,” as he said, “that ’twas Saturday afternoon,” entered willingly into conversation, and made no secret of his circumstances. His testimony was also favourable as regards wages. He earned fifteen shillings a week, and didn’t see any reason to complain of hard times, for he paid but three pounds a year for his cottage, which sum he recovered from his garden in vegetables and flowers, besides sundry little advantages which at times fall to the lot of rustics. He eat meat—beef or mutton—“pretty well every day,” and was fully persuaded that without enough of good food a man could not do a fair day’s work.

While we talked his wife was putting the finishing touch to the day’s cleaning by washing the brick floor, and without making herself unclean or untidy, as many do. Her husband had shown himself no bad judge of rustic beauty when he chose her as his helpmate, and her good looks were repeated in their little daughter, who ran playfully about the room. I suggested that the evening, when one wished to sit quiet and comfortable, was hardly the time to wet the floor. “I’d rather see it wet than mucky” (mooky, as he pronounced it), was the answer; and neither husband nor wife was ready to believe that the ill-health too plainly observable among many cottagers’ children arises from avoidable damp. To wash the floor in the morning, when no one had occasion to sit in the room, would be against all rule.

“Stay a bit longer,” said the young man, as I rose when the shower ceased; “I like to hear ye talk.”

And I liked to hear him talk, especially as he began to praise his wife. It was such a pleasure to come home when there was such a lass as that to make a man comfortable. Nobody could beat her at making a shirt or making bread, or cooking; and he opened the oven to show me how much room there was for the loaves. Scarcely a cottage but has a grate with iron oven attached, and in some places the overpowering heat reminded me of my friend’s house in Ulrichsthal. Then we had a little discourse about books. He liked reading, and had a Bible for Sundays, and a few odd volumes which he read in the evenings, but not without difficulty; it was so hard to keep awake after a day out of doors.

Meanwhile I made enticing signs to the merry little lassie,[Pg 45] and at last she sat without fear on my knee, and listened with a happy smile and wondering eyes to my chant of the pastoral legend of Little Bopeep. Such good friends did we become, that when at length I said “good-bye,” and shook hands, there was a general expression of regret, and a hope that I would call again. I certainly will the next time I visit Holderness.

Often since has this incident recurred to my mind, and most often when the discussion was going on in the newspapers concerning the impropriety of marriage on three hundred a year. I wished that the writers, especially he who sneered at domestic life, could go down into Yorkshire, and see how much happiness may be had for less than fifty pounds a year. As if any selfish bachelor enjoyments, any of the talk of the clubs, were worth the prattle of infancy, the happy voices of childhood, the pleasures and duties that come with offspring! Sandeau deserved to be made Académicien, if only for having said that “un berceau est plus éloquent qu’une chaire, et rien n’enseigne mieux à l’homme les côtés sérieux de sa destinée.”

A mile or two farther and water gleams through the trees on the right. It is Hornsea Mere, nearly two miles in length, and soon, when the road skirts the margin, you see reedy shallows, the resort of wild-fowl, and swans floating around the wooded islands; and at the upper end the belts and masses of trees under which the visitors to Hornsea find pleasant walks while sauntering out to the sylvan scenery of Wassand and Sigglesthorne. The lake, said a passing villager, averages ten feet in depth, with perhaps as much more of mud, and swarms with fish, chiefly pike and perch. He added something about the great people of the neighbourhood, who would not let a poor fellow fish in the mere, and ordered the keeper to duck even little boys poaching with stick and string. And he recited with a gruff chuckle a rhyming epitaph which one of his neighbours had composed to the memory of a clergyman who had made himself particularly obnoxious. It did not flatter the deceased.

In Henry the Third’s reign, as may be read in the Liber Melsæ, or Chronicle of the Abbey of Meaux, the Abbot of St. Mary’s at York quarrelled with him of Meaux, about the right to fish in the mere, and not being able to decide the quarrel by argument, the pious churchmen had recourse to arms.[Pg 46] Each party hired combatants, who met on the appointed day, and after a horse had been swum across the mere, and stakes had been planted to mark the Abbot of St. Mary’s claim, they fought from morning until nightfall, and Meaux lost the battle, and with it his ancient right of fishery.

In Elizabeth’s reign, the Countess of Warwick granted to Marmaduke Constable the right to fish and fowl for “the some of fyftye and five pounds of lawful English money.” This Marmaduke, who thus testified his love of fin and feather, was an ancestor of Sir Clifford Constable, the present “Lord Paramount,” upon whom the blind fiddler exercised his wit.

Hornsea church stands on an eminence at the eastern end between the mere and the village. Its low square tower once bore a tall spire, on which, as is said, the builder had cut an inscription:—

Hornsea steeple, when I built thee,
Thou was 10 miles off Burlington,
Ten miles off Beverley, and 10 miles off sea;

but it fell during a gale in 1773. The edifice is a specimen of fifteenth-century architecture, with portions of an earlier date. The crypt under the chancel was at one time a receptacle for smuggled goods, and the clerk was down there doing unlawful work when the tempest smote the spire, and frightened him well-nigh to death. The memory of the last rector is preserved by an altar tomb of alabaster, and of William Day, gentleman, who “dyed” in 1616, by a curious epitaph:

If that man’s life be likened to a day,
One here interr’d in youth did lose a day
By death, and yet no loss to him at all,
For he a threefold day gain’d by his fall;
One day of rest in bliss celestial,
Two days on earth by gifts terrestryall—
Three pounds at Christmas, three at Easter Day,
Given to the poure until the world’s last day.
This was no cause to heaven; but, consequent,
Who thither will, must tread the steps he went.
For why? Faith, Hope, and Christian Charity,
Perfect the house framed for eternity.

Hornsea village is a homely-looking place, with two or three inns, a post-office, and little shops and houses furbished up till they look expectant of customers and lodgers. Many a pair of eyes took an observation of me as I passed along the[Pg 47] street, and away up the hill, seeking for quarters with an open prospect. Half a mile farther, the ground always rising, and you come to the edge of a clay cliff, and a row of modern houses, and the Marine Hotel in full view of the sea.

Even at the first glance you note the waste of the land. As at Kilnsea, so here. A few miles to the south, between us and Owthorne, stands the village of Aldborough, far to the rear of the site once occupied by its church. The sea washed it away. That church was built by Ulf, a mighty thane, in the reign of Canute. A stone, a relic of the former edifice, bearing an inscription in Anglo-Saxon, which he caused to be cut, is preserved in the wall of the present church. This stone, and Ulf’s horn, still to be seen in York Minster, are among the most venerable antiquities of the county.

Hornsea is a favourite resort of many Yorkshire folk who love quiet; hence a casual traveller is liable to be disappointed of a lodging on the shore. There was, however, a room to spare at the hotel—a top room, from which, later in the evening, I saw miles of ripples twinkling with moonlight, and heard their murmur on the sand through the open window till I fell asleep.

[Pg 48]


CHAPTER VII.

Coast Scenery—A waning Mere, and wasting Cliffs—The Rain and the Sea—Encroachment prevented—Economy of the Hotel—A Start on the Sands—Pleasure of Walking—Cure for a bad Conscience—Phenomena of the Shore—Curious Forms in the Cliffs—Fossil Remains—Strange Boulders—A Villager’s Etymology—Reminiscences of “Bonypart” and Paul Jones—The last House—Chalk and Clay—Bridlington—One of the Gipseys—Paul Jones again—The Sea-Fight—A Reminiscence of Montgomery.

I was out early the next morning for a stroll. The upper margin of the beach, covered only by the highest tides, is loose, heavy sand, strewn with hardened lumps of clay, fatiguing to walk upon; but grows firmer as you approach the water. The wheels of the bathing-machines have broad wooden tires to prevent their sinking. The cliffs are, as we saw near the Spurn, nothing but clay, very irregular in profile and elevation, resembling, for the most part, a great brown bank, varying in height from ten feet to forty. The hotel stands on a rise, which overtops the land on each side and juts out farther, commanding a view for miles, bounded on the north by that far-stretching promontory, Flamborough Head; and to the south by the pale line, where land and water meet the sky. The morning sun touching the many jutting points, while the intervals lay in thin, hazy shadow, imparted something picturesque to the scene, which vanished as the hours drew on, and the stronger light revealed the monotonous colour and unclothed surface of the cliffs. Towards evening the picturesque reappears with the lights falling in the opposite direction.

A short distance south of the hotel, a stream runs from the mere to the sea. The land is low here, so low that unusually high tides have forced their way up the channel of the stream to the lake, and flooded the grounds on both sides; and the effect will be, as Professor Phillips says, the entire drainage[Pg 49] of the mere, and production of phenomena similar to those which may be seen on the other parts of the coast of Holderness: a depression in the cliffs exposing a section of deposits such as are only formed under a large surface of standing water. The result is a mere question of time; and if it be true that Hornsea church once stood ten miles from the sea, within the historical period, the scant half-mile, which is now all that separates it from the hungry waves, has no very lengthened term of existence before it. More than a mile in breadth along the whole coast from Bridlington to Spurn has been devoured since the Battle of the Standard was fought.

An old man of eighty who lives in the village says there are no such high tides now as when he was a boy; and if he be not a romancer, the low ground from the sea to the mere must, at least once, have presented the appearance of a great lake. But the wasting process is carried on by other means than the sea. I saw threads of water running down the cliffs, produced by yesterday’s rain, and not without astonishment at the great quantities of mud they deposit at the base, forming in places a narrow viscous stream, creeping in a raised channel across the sand, or confused pasty heaps dotted with pools of liquid ochre. Mr. Coniton, the proprietor of the hotel, told me that he believed the rain had more influence than the sea in causing the waste of land, and he showed me the means he employed to protect his territory from one and the other. To prevent the loss by rain, which he estimates, where no precautions are taken, at a foot a year, he at first sloped his cliff at such an angle that the water runs easily down and with scarcely appreciable mischief. Then, to protect the base, he has driven rows of piles through the sand into the clay beneath, and these, checking the natural drift of the sand to the southward, preserve the under stratum. Where no such barrier exists, the waves in a winter storm sweep all the sand clean off, and lay bare the clay, and tumbling upon it with mighty shocks, sometimes wear it down a foot in the course of a tide. By this lowering of the base, the saturated soil above, deprived of support, topples over, leaving a huge gap, which only facilitates further encroachments; and in the course of a few tides the fallen mass is drifted away to enlarge the shoals in the estuary of the Humber.

Mr. Coniton entered into possession fifteen years ago, and in all that time, so effectual are the safeguards, has lost none[Pg 50] of his land. The edge, he says, has not receded, and, to show what might be, he points to his neighbour’s field, which has shrunk away some yards to the rear.

The space between the hotel and the edge of the cliff is laid out as a lawn, which, sheltered by a bank on the north, forms an agreeable outlook and lounging-place, while gravelled paths lead to an easy descent to the sands at each extremity of the premises. The house is well arranged; there is no noise, no slackness in the service; and families may live as privately as in a private residence. The charge for adults is four shillings a day; for young children, half a guinea a week, without stint as to the number of meals: to which must be added the cost of rooms and attendance. The charges to casual guests are as reasonable as could be desired, contrasting favourably in this particular with my experiences at Hull and in certain of the inland towns and villages. Ninepence a day for service and boots is charged in the bill; hence you can depart without being troubled to “remember” anybody. An omnibus arrives every day from Beverley during the season—May to November. The distance is thirteen miles.

The falling tide had left a breadth of comparatively firm sand by the time I was ready to start, and along that I took my way to Bridlington: another stage of thirteen miles. The morning was bounteous in elements of enjoyment: a bright sun, great white clouds sailing high across the blue, a south-westerly breeze, which made the sea playful and murmurous: all gratifying to the desire of a wayfarer’s heart. I could not help pitying those farmers at Beverley, who saw no pleasure in walking. No pleasure in the surest promotion of health and exercise! No pleasure in the steady progressive motion which satisfies our love of change without hindering observation! No pleasure in walking, that strengthens the limbs and invigorates the lungs! No pleasure in arming the sling against the giant! No pleasure in the occasion of cheerful thoughts and manifold suggestions which bring contentment to the heart! Walking is an exercise which in our days might replace, more commonly than it does, the rude out-door recreations of former times; and if but a few of the many hundreds who put on their Sunday clothes to lounge the hours away at the corner of a street, would but take a ten miles’ walk out to the country lanes or breezy moorlands, they would find benefit alike to their manhood and morals. If I[Pg 51] remember rightly, it is one of the old Greeks who says that walking will almost cure a bad conscience; and, for my part, I am never so ready to obey the precept of neighbourly love as when my sentiments are harmonized by walks of seven or eight leagues a day.

The sands are of varying consistency. In some places you leave deep footprints; and nowhere is the firmness equal to that we shall find farther north, except on the wet border from which the wave has just retired. Mile after mile it stretches before you, a broad slope of sand, sparely roughened here and there by pebble drifts. At times you see numerous rounded lumps lying about of many sizes, which at a distance resemble sleeping turtles, and on a nearer view prove to be nothing but masses of hardened clay, water-worn, and as full of pebbles as a canon’s pudding is of plums. These are portions of the bottoms of lakes overrun by the sea; stubborn vestiges, which yield but slowly. At times the shortest route takes you through watery flats, or broad shallow streams, where little rivers are well-nigh swallowed by the sand as they run across to the sea. A little farther and you come to a low bank, everywhere cut up by glistening ripple-marks, or to a bare patch of clay, which feels like india-rubber under your foot.

And the cliffs taken thus furlong by furlong offer a greater variety than appears at first sight. Here, the clay is cracked in such a way as to resemble nothing so much as a pile of huge brown loaves; now it falls away into a broken hollow patched with rough grass; now it juts again so full of perpendicular cracks that you liken it to a mass of starch; now it is grooved by a deep gully; now a buttress terminates in a crumbling pyramid—umber mottled with yellow; now it is a rude stair, six great steps only to the summit; now a point, of which you would say the extremity has been shaped by turf-cutters; now a wall of pebbles, hundreds of thousands of all sizes, the largest equal in bigness to a child’s head; now a shattered ruin fallen in a confused heap. Such are some of the appearances left by the waves in their never-ending aggressions.

In one hollow the disposition of the clay was so singular, and apparently artificial, and unlike anything which I had ever seen, that I could only imagine it to be a recess in which a party of Assyrian brickmakers had been at work and left great piles of their bricks in different degrees of finish. It[Pg 52] was easier to imagine that than to believe such effects could be produced by the dash of the sea.

The greatest elevation occurs about Atwick and Skirlington, places interesting to the palæontologist, on account of fossils—an elephant’s tusk, and the head and horns of the great Irish elk—found in the cliffs. Farther on the cliff sinks to a mere bank, six feet in height, but, whether high or low, you need not fear a surprise by the rising tide, for you can scramble up anywhere out of reach of the water. Looking inland from these points you see always the same character of scenery, and where a path zigzags up you will notice large trays used for carrying up the heaps of pebbles there accumulated, for the construction of drains, fences, and walls. Among remarkable curiosities are two large boulders—one of a slaty rock, the other of granite half embedded in the sand. From what part of the country were they drifted to their present position?

Here and there I fell in with a villager taking a quiet walk on the beach, and leading two or three little children. One of them told me that the Stricklands, a well-known family in Holderness, derived their name from Strikeland; that is, they were the first to strike the land when they came over. Collectors of folk-lore will perhaps make a note of this rustic etymology. He remembered hearing his father talk of the alarm that prevailed all along the coast when there was talk of “Bonypart’s” invasion; and how that Paul Jones never sailed past without firing a ball at Rolleston Hall, that stood on a slope in sight of the sea, where dwelt Mr. Brough, who, as Marshal to the Court of Admiralty, had to direct the proceedings on the trial of Admiral Byng.

Here and there are parties of country lads bathing; or trying which can take the longest jump on the smooth sand; or squatting in soft places idly watching the waves, and exasperating their dogs into a fight.

After passing Skipsea, and the northern end of the Barmston drain, the lone house in the distance catches your eye; the last house of Auburn, a village devoured by the sea. The distance is deceptive along the level shore; but when at length you come to the spot, you see a poor weather-beaten cottage on the top of the cliff, and so close to the edge that the eastern wall forms but one perpendicular line with the cliff itself. You can hardly help fancying that it will fall at any moment, even while you are looking; but so it has stood for many[Pg 53] years; a fact the more remarkable, as in this place the cliff projects as if in defiance of the ruthless waters. Look at the old maps, and you will read: “Here Auburn washed away by the sea;” and the lone house remains a melancholy yet suggestive monument of geological change.

Now Bridlington comes in sight, and immediately beyond you see a change in the aspect of the cliffs. The chalk formation which stretches across England from Hampshire to Yorkshire, makes its appearance here as a thin white band under the clay, becoming thicker and thicker, till at length the whole cliff is chalk from base to summit, and the great promontory, of snowy whiteness, gleams afar in the sunlight along the shores and across the sea. The chalk opposes a barrier, which, though far less stubborn than the volcanic rocks of Cornwall, is yet more enduring than the clay: hence the land rushes proudly out on the domain of ocean. Nearness, however, while it shows you the mouths of caverns and gullies, like dark shades in the chalk, markedly shortens the headland to the eye.

The last mile of cliff, as you approach Bridlington is diversified by a pale chalky stratum, about four feet thick along the top. It dips down in places basin-like, and contrasts strangely with the clay.

Bridlington Quay, as the seaward part of the town is named, though situated at the very rear of the Head, is, as I saw on turning the last point, not safe from the sap and shock of the breakers. The cliff, sunken in places, exhibits the effect of landslips in rough slopes and ugly heaps. Two legs of the seat fixed at the corner overhang the edge and rest upon nothing, and you see that the remainder are doomed to follow, notwithstanding the numerous piles driven in for protection.

The two arms of the pier enclose a small harbour, one of the few places of refuge for vessels caught by easterly gales on the Yorkshire coast—a coast deficient in good and easily-accessible harbours. A chalybeate spring bursts from the cliff on the northern side; and near the middle of the port an artesian well throws up a constant stream, varying with the rise and fall of the tide. The noisy brook which you cross, on entering the principal street, has its sources in those remarkable springs which, known as ‘the Gipseys,’ gush out from the foot of the wolds.[Pg 54]

Bridlington attracts numbers of that class of visitors for whom Hornsea is too quiet and Scarborough too gay. In fine weather, steamers arrive with pleasure parties from Hull and Whitby, Flamborough Head being the great attraction. The boatmen ask fifteen shillings a day for a boat to sail round the Head, and give you opportunity to peer into caverns, or to shoot seafowl should your desire be for “sport.” And besides their pay, the tough old fellows like to have a voice in provisioning the boat, resolute to demonstrate how much your pleasure depends on “laying in plenty of bottled porter.”

The church, situate in the town about half a mile from the Quay, was at one time as large and handsome as the minster of Beverley; but of late years the visitor has only been able to see the remains of beauty through grievous dilapidations, in which the hand of man was more implicated than the weather. Paul Jones is still held responsible for some of the mischief. Now, however, the work of restoration is commenced, and ere long the admirable details and proportions of the edifice will reappear.

Here it was that, attended by a convoy of seven Dutch vessels of war, commanded by Van Tromp, Queen Henrietta Maria landed in 1643; and there are people yet living who remember the terror inspired by the redoubtable privateer aforementioned, while the North-American colonies were battling for their liberties. On the 20th of September, 1779, a messenger came in hot haste from Scarborough to Bridlington with news that an enemy had been espied off the coast, and in the evening of the same day the Yankee squadron was in sight from Flamborough Head. Preparations were at once made to send the women and children into the interior; money and valuables were hastily packed, and some of the inhabitants, panic-stricken, actually fled. The drum beat to arms; the Northumberland militia, then quartered in the neighbourhood, were called out; and all the coasting-vessels bore up for Bridlington Bay, and crowded for protection into the little harbour. Scarcely a town or village on the Yorkshire coast but has its story of alarms and unwelcome visitations from the American privateers.

On the 24th the timid population witnessed a sea-fight from the cliffs. Jones, with the Bonhomme Richard, and the Pallas and Alliance frigates, intercepted the Serapis, of forty-four, and Countess of Scarbro’, of twenty-two guns, convoying a[Pg 55] fleet of merchant-vessels, and at once commenced action. The two largest ships grappled, and fired into each other for two hours, the two frigates meanwhile sailing round, and doing their best to cripple the Englishman. The American at length struck; but only as a feint, for when the crew of the Serapis boarded, they fell into an ambush prepared for them, and suffered so much loss, that the Serapis hauled down her colours, and the Countess of Scarbro’ was taken by the Pallas. The victory, however, was dearly won: the Bonhomme Richard lost three hundred men in killed and wounded, and was so grievously cut up in her hull, that the next day she went to the bottom. Captain Pearson, of the Serapis, in his despatch to the Admiralty announcing the capture of his ship, had good reason to write, “I flatter myself with the hopes that their lordships will be convinced that she has not been given away.”

The scene of three of Montgomery’s sonnets is laid at Bridlington. Turn to the volume and read them, before you go farther.

[Pg 56]


CHAPTER VIII.

What the Boarding-House thought—Landslips—Yarborough House—The Dane’s Dike—Higher Cliffs—The South Landing—The Flamborough Fleet—Ida, the Flamebearer—A Storm—A talk in a Limekiln—Flamborough Fishermen—Coffee before Rum—No Drunkards—A Landlord’s Experiences—Old-fashioned Honesty.

The party—four gentlemen and one lady—at the boarding-house where I tarried to dine, agreed unanimously that to pass a whole Sunday morning in walking, was especially blameworthy. Besides being wrong in itself, it was “setting such a bad example;” nor would they hear reason on the question. With them, indeed, it was no question: they quoted the fourth commandment, and that settled it. Any departure from that was decidedly wrong, if not sinful. And then, perhaps out of a benevolent desire for my spiritual welfare, they urged me to stay till the morrow, when I might join them in a boat-trip to the Head and help to fire guns at the seafowl. It surprised me somewhat to hear them discuss their project with as much animation as if they had not just administered a homily to me, or the day had not been Sunday. The possibilities of weather, the merits of cold pies, sandwiches, and lively bottled drinks, powder and shot moreover, and tidal contingencies, were talked about in a way that led me to infer there was nothing at all wrong in consuming the holy day with anticipations of pleasure to come in the days reckoned unholy. Then one of the party set off to walk to a village three miles distant; and presently, when I started for Flamborough, the other three accompanied me as far as the path along the cliff was easy to the foot. So I could only infer again that there is nothing wrong in short walks on a Sunday. It is simply the distance that constitutes the difference between good and evil. Some folk appear to believe that if they only sit under a pulpit in the morning, they have earned a dispensation for the rest of the day.[Pg 57]

The cliffs now are sixty feet in height, broken by frequent slips in the upper stratum of clay, and numerous cracks running along the path marks the limits of future falls. One of the slips appeared to be but a few hours old, and the lumps, of all dimensions, with patches of grass and weeds sticking out here and there, lying in a great confused slope, suggested the idea of an avalanche of clay. Ere long you come to Yarborough House, a stately mansion standing embowered by trees about a furlong from the shore. Holding that an Englishman has an inherent right of way along the edge of his own country, I gave no heed to the usual wooden warning to trespassers, erected where the path strikes inland at the skirt of the grounds, and kept along the pathless margin of the cliff. Nothing appeared to be disturbed by my presence except a few rabbits, that darted as if in terror to their burrows. Once past the grounds you come into large fields, where the grain grows so close to the brink of the precipice, that you wonder alike at the thrift of the Yorkshire farmers, and the skill with which they drive their ploughs in critical situations.

As you proceed, the cliffs rise higher, interrupted in places by narrow gullies, one of which is so deep and the farther bank so high as to appear truly formidable, and shut out all prospect to the east. After a difficult scramble down, and a more difficult scramble up, you find yourself on the top of a ridge, which, stretching all across the base of the headland from sea to sea, along the margin of a natural ravine, remains a monument, miles in length, of the days

“When Denmark’s Raven soar’d on high,
Triumphant through Northumbrian sky.”

It is the “Dane’s Dike,” a barrier raised by our piratical Scandinavian forefathers to protect their settlements on the great promontory. With such a fence, they had always a refuge to fall back upon where they could hold their own, and command the landing-places till more ships and marauders arrived with succours. As the eye follows the straight line of the huge grass-grown embankment, you will feel something like admiration of the resolute industry by which it was raised, and perhaps think of the fierce battles which its now lonely slopes must have once witnessed.

Still the cliffs ascend. Farther on I came to a broader and deeper ravine, at the mouth of which a few boats lay moored;[Pg 58] and others hauled up on the beach, and coming nearer, I saw boat after boat lodged here and there on the slopes, even to the level ground above, where, judging from the number, the fleet found its rendezvous. It was curious to see so many keels out of their element, most of them gay with stripes of blue and red, and bearing the names of the wives and daughters of Flambro’. The little bay, however, known as the South Landing, is one of the two ports of Flamborough: the other, as we shall see after passing the lighthouse, is similar in formation—a mere gap in the cliffs. They might be called providential landing-places, for without them the fishermen of Flamborough would have no access to the sea, except by ladders down the precipice. As it is, the declivity is very steep; and it is only by hauling them up to every available spot, that room is found for the numerous boats.

Here it was that Ida, the Flamebearer, is supposed to have landed, when he achieved the conquest of Northumbria; and here the galleys of the Sea-Kings found a precarious shelter while the daring Northmen leapt on shore to overrun the land in later centuries, when tradition alone preserved the remembrance of the former invaders and their warlike deeds.

I was prowling hither and thither in the ravine, entertained with the Present while imagining the Past, when the clouds, grown every minute blacker since noon, let fall their burden with something like tropical vehemence. For some time there was no perceptible pause in the lightning or thunder, and against the accompanying rain an umbrella was but as gauze. I rushed into the arch of a neighbouring limekiln, and once in, was kept there two hours by the roaring storm. Presently two fishermen, speeding up from the landing, made for the same shelter, and of course, under the circumstances, we fraternised at once, and talked the time away.

Clean and well clad, they were favourable—and as I afterwards saw—not exceptional specimens of their class. In their opinion the Flamborough fishermen bear as good a character as any in Yorkshire—perhaps better. About seven years ago they all resolved to work but six days a week, and on no account to go to sea on Sundays. They held to their resolve, and, to the surprise of most, found themselves the better. They earn quite as much as before, if not more, and go to work with better spirit. During the herring season it is a common practice with them to put into Scarborough on[Pg 59] Saturday evening, and journey home by rail for the Sunday, taking advantage of the very low fares at which return tickets are issued to fishermen. And as for diet, they take a good store of bread and meat, pies even, in their boats, seeing no reason why they should not live as well as their neighbours. A glass of rum was acceptable, especially in cold and blowing weather: but so far as they knew, there were very few fishermen who would not “choose hot coffee before rum any day.”

There was none of that drinking among fishermen now as there used to be formerly. You could find some in Flamborough “as liked their glass,” but none to be called drunkards. There is a national school in the village; but not so well attended as it might be, and perhaps would be if they had a better schoolmaster. The people generally had pretty good health, which is possibly the occasion why the last two doctors, finding time hang heavy on their hands, drank themselves to death. There is, or rather was in July, 1857, an opening for a doctor in Flamborough.

The rain still fell heavily when we left our shelter, and it kept on till past midnight. Luckily the village was not a mile distant, and there I took a comfortable chair by the kitchen fire of The Ship. The landlord corroborated all that the fishermen had told me, with the reservation that he found it difficult to clear his room of tipplers on Saturday night, although none could be set down as drunkards. At times he put on his clock ten minutes, to ensure a clearance before the Sunday morning, resolutely refusing to refill the glasses after twelve. The guests would go away growling out a vow never to return to such an inhospitable house; but not one kept the vow more than a fortnight. When, nineteen years ago, he determined not to open his house on Sunday to any but strangers who might chance to arrive from a distance, the village thought itself scandalized, and the other public-houses predicted his ruin. They were, however, mistaken. The Ship still flourishes; and the host and his family “find themselves none the worse for going to a place of worship, and keeping the house quiet one day in seven.”

“Sometimes,” he ended, “we don’t think to fasten the front door when we go to bed; but it’s all the same; nobody comes to disturb us.” Which may be taken as an indication that honesty has not yet abandoned Flamborough.

[Pg 60]


CHAPTER IX.

Men’s and Women’s Wages—The Signal Tower—The passing Fleet—The Lighthouse—The Inland View—Cliff scenery—Outstretching Reefs—Selwick’s Bay—Down to the Beach—Aspect of the Cliffs—The Matron—Lessons in Pools—Caverns—The King and Queen—Arched Promontories—The North Landing—The Herring-Fishers—Pleasure Parties—Robin Lyth’s Hole—Kirk Hole—View across little Denmark—Speeton—End of the Chalk—Walk to Filey.

A fresh, bright morning succeeded the stormy night, and it was but a few hours old when, after a look at the old Danish tower at the west of the village, I walked across the fields to the lighthouse. A woman trudging in the same direction with a hoe on her shoulder said, after I had asked her a few questions, she wished she were a man, for then she would get nine shillings a week and her meat, instead of one shilling a day and feeding herself, as at present. However, ’twas better than nothing. Presently her daughter came up, a buxom maiden, wearing her bonnet in a way which saved her the affliction of shrugs and the trouble of tying. It was front behind: a fashion which leaves no part of the head exposed, shelters the poll, and looks picturesque withal. It prevails, as I afterwards noticed, among the rustic lasses everywhere.

As I passed the old stone tower near the coast-guard station, the signal-man was busy raising and lowering his flag, for a numerous fleet of coasting-vessels was running by to the southward, each telling its name as it came within signal distance. The man sends a daily list of the names to London for publication, whereby coal-merchants and others hear of cargoes on the way, and calculate the time of their arrival. It is a peculiarity of Flamborough Head, an enlivening one, that ships can keep so close in that the men on their decks are distinctly seen, and their voices heard by one standing on the cliff.[Pg 61]

The lighthouse, a circular white tower, eighty-two feet in height, stands on the verge of the cliff, displaying inside and out all that admirable order and cleanliness characteristic of British lighthouses. There is no difficulty in obtaining admittance; you sign your name in a book, and are forthwith conducted up to the lantern by the chief or one of his aids. The light is revolving, alternately white and red, and can be seen at a distance of thirty miles. But here, elevated two hundred and fifty feet above the sea, you feel most interested in the prospect. No “shadowy pomp of woods” arrests the eye looking landwards, but a region bleak and bare in aspect rolling away to the distant wolds, the line of uplands which, sweeping round, approaches the coast about Scarborough. The village with its windmill, and the few farms that are in sight, look naked and comfortless: not an inviting territory for an invader given to the picturesque. But seawards, and along the rugged front of the cliffs, grandeur and variety exert their charm. Here the up-piled chalk flings out a bold perpendicular buttress, solid from base to summit; there the jutting mass is isolated by yawning cracks and chasms, and underneath, as we shall presently see, is fretted into fantastic shapes, pierced through and through, or worn into caverns by the headlong billows. In places a broken slope of rocky hummocks and patches of grass, weeds, and gravel descends, more or less abruptly, to the beach, opening a view of the long weed-blackened reefs that, stretching out from the Head, afford a measure of the amazing encroachments of the sea. Northwards, the bluff crowned by Scarborough Castle, backed by higher elevations, closes the view; to the south you have the low, fading coast of Holderness; and all the while brigs, ships, and schooners are sailing past, more than a hundred in sight, some of them so near that you fancy they will hardly escape the lurking points of the dark reef. One small vessel, the keeper told me, had touched the day before, and lay fast and helpless till, the weather being calm, she floated off by the succeeding tide. You can look down into Selwicks Bay, and see men and boys quarrying chalk, and donkeys laden with heavy panniers of the lumps, toiling painfully up the steep winding road which forms the only approach. The farther horn of the little bay is arched and tunnelled, and, taken with the waterfall plunging down in its rear and the imposing features of the points beyond, invites to further exploration.[Pg 62]

The residents at the lighthouse enjoy an abundant supply of water from a spring within their enclosure: their garden produces cabbages and potatoes; the neighbours are friendly, and visitors numerous. Hence life is more cheerful to them than to the amphibious hermits who dwell at the Spurn.

While looking for a practicable descending-place, I noticed many tufts of thrift as thick with flowers as in an antiquated garden where the old favourites are still cherished.

“Even here hath Nature lavished hues, and scent,
And melody; born handmaids of the ocean:
The frowning crags, with moss and rock-flowers blent,
Dazzle the eyes with sunlight, while the motion
Of waves, the breezes fragrant from the sea,
And cry of birds, combine one glorious symphony!”

The time—dead low water—being favourable for a stroll on the beach, I scrambled down a rough slope to the south of the lighthouse, and across the rougher beach to the rocks beyond the outmost point, where, turning round, I could view the cliffs in either direction. And a striking scene it is! A wild beach, as rugged with water-worn lumps of chalk as any lover of chaos could desire. Here the cliff jutting proudly, the white patches gleaming brightly where masses of chalk have recently fallen, and the harder portions presenting a smooth, marble-like appearance; there receding into the shade, and terminating in darksome hollows, the mouths of gullies and caverns; and everywhere broken up with buttresses, piers, and columnar projections, the bases of which are garnished with a belt of shelly incrustation, and a broad brown fringe of weed. Above, the white surface is varied by streaks and stains of yellow and green; and seafowl innumerable crowd on all the ledges, or wheel and dart in restless flight, as if proud to show their white wings to the sun.

The reef stretches out a quarter of a mile, as one may guess, worn here and there with channels narrow and deep, along which the water rolls with intermittent rush and roar, reminding the loiterer here in the slumberous July weather of tremendous energies lulled to repose. I walked round the Matron—an isolated pyramid of chalk—and patted her on the back; and strode from one little pool to another, taking an unscientific lesson in natural history while watching the animal and vegetable occupants, and those that seemed to be as much one as the other.[Pg 63]

I picked up a fine specimen of the hermit crab, and proved the strength of local attachment: it would not be coaxed from its hermitage—the shell of a whelk. I saw a limpet give its shell half a rotation, then grow tall for an instant, and then shut itself snugly down upon the rock. At times, while I stood quite still, ‘ninnycocks,’ that is, young lobsters, would venture out from their crevices, and have a frolic in their weedy basin; but they would tolerate no intruder, and darted into undiscoverable retreats on my slightest movement. And the animated flowers that displayed their orange and crimson petals at the bottom of the basin were equally mistrustful, and shut themselves up if I did but put my hand in the water, even after they had looked on without winking at the gambols of the ninnycocks.

There are times when ignorance has a charm, and this was one of them. How much happier to sit and watch a crowd of weeds, a very forest in miniature, tenanted by creeping things innumerable, and to have your faculty of wonder excited as well as admiration while observing them in full liberty, than to come prepared to call one an ascidian, another an entomostracan, and so on, and to assign to each its place in the phycological handbook, or the zoological catalogue!

In some of the smallest and deepest caverns which curve as they enter the cliff, you get effects of cross lights from their inner extremity, and see the glistening of the walls, which, worn smooth by the water, appear to be varnished. In all the floor rises more or less rapidly; and in one, a hundred paces deep, the rush and roar of the surge outside comes only as a gentle murmur, and a slow drip-drip from the crevices has an impressive sound there in the gloom where the entrance cannot be seen.

I took advantage of the opportunity, and explored most of the openings, catching sight now and then of belemnites and other curious fossils in the chalk, wading at times knee-deep in weed, and scrambled round the bays on each side of the point, and failed not to salute the venerable King and Queen.

Having rambled about till the rising tide began to cut off the way round the promontories, and the crabbers came in from their raid on the reefs, I climbed the rough slope, and paced away for the North Landing. Beyond Selwicks Bay the cliff is more broken and cut up into romantic coves and bays, with confused landslips here and there, and in places[Pg 64] the green turf rushing half way down masks the chalk; and everywhere are thousands of birds, with their ceaseless cry and clang. Isolated masses are numerous; and from one point I could count eight headlands, each pierced by an arch. And here the water, no longer stained with clay, shows green and bright along the base of the cliff, beautifully pellucid where it rolls over a bottom of chalk, contrasting strangely with darksome gulfs and broad beds of weed. And mingling with the cry of birds, there comes from time to time to your ear the noisy report of the guns, or the chant of the fishermen, as rocked on the swell, they sit watching their nets.

The North Landing is a gap similar to the South, but broader, and with an outlet wide enough to be described as a bay. Here I saw some sixty or eighty boats perched from top to bottom of the steep slope; and groups of fishermen with their families, men, women, and children, all busy with preparations for the herring fishery. While some sorted the nets, others lifted in big stones for ballast, or set up the masts, and others pushed their boats down to meet the tide, and all in high good humour; while all about there prevailed a strong fishy smell. And besides the fishermen, there were parties of young men with their guns embarking for a sporting cruise; some armed only with parasols and accompanied by ladies, setting off for a sail round the Head; for this is the chief port of Flamborough, and the North Star, a public-house at the top of the hill, is convenient for victual.

The advance of the tide prevented my seeing Robin Lyth’s Hole, a cavern on the eastern side of the Landing; named, as some say, after a certain smuggler who kept his unlawful merchandise therein; or to commemorate the name of a man who was caught in the cavern by the tide, and saved his life by clinging to the topmost ledge till the water fell. Another cavern is known as the Dovecote; another as Kirk Hole, and of this the tradition runs that it extends far underground to the village churchyard.

I climbed up the western side of the gap, and continued my way along the cliffs, which maintain their elevation. Soon I came to the northern end of the Dike, a height of three hundred feet, and from the top beheld the whole territory of Little Denmark, and the sea all the way round to the lighthouse, and the southern end of the Dike. According to Professor Phillips, this remarkable bank was probably already[Pg 65] in existence when the Danes landed: “perhaps earlier than the Anglian invasion,” he says; “perhaps it is a British work, like many other of the entrenchments on these anciently peopled hills.”

A mile farther, and the cliff rises to a height of more than four hundred feet. In some places the bank which encloses the fields is broad enough for a footpath; but you must beware of the landslips. The fences, which are troublesome to climb, project beyond the edge of the cliff to keep the cows, as an old farmer said, “from persevering after the grass and tumbling over.” Then at Speeton the chalk turns inland away from the coast, and the cliff makes a deep hollow curve, chiefly gravel and dark blue clay, abounding in fossils. To avoid the curve, I zigzagged down to the beach; but was presently stopped by a point against which the waves were dashing breast high. I scrambled over it, and was struck by its curious appearance. It seemed to be a high clay buttress, which had fallen perhaps within a few weeks, and was broken up into masses of somewhat regular form, resembling big loaves, and the long grass that had once waved on the surface now looked like dishevelled thatch. It was an interesting example of the way in which the sea commences its ravages.

Farther on the cliffs diminish in height, and are furrowed by numerous streamlets, and the rugged, stony beach changes to smooth, yielding sand. Filey comes in sight, and Filey Brig, a long black bar stretching into the sea from the extreme point of the great bay, half concealed at times by a quivering ridge of foam. Then we pass from the East to the North Riding, and ere long we look up at Filey—a Royal Hotel, a crescent, and rows of handsome houses, coldish of aspect, a terrace protected by a paved slope, and gravelled paths and a stair for easy access to the beach. The terrace commands a view over the bay, and of the cliffs all the way to Flamborough.

[Pg 66]


CHAPTER X.

Old and New Filey—The Ravine—Filey Brig—Breaking Waves—Ragged Cliffs—Prochronic Gravel—Gristhorp Bay—Insulated Column—Lofty Cliffs—Fossil Plants—Red Cliff—Cayton Bay—Up to the Road—Bare Prospect—Cromwell Hotel and Oliver’s Mount—Scarborough—The Esplanade—Watering-Place Phenomena—The Cliff Bridge—The Museum—The Spa—The Old Town—The Harbour—The Castle Rock—The Ancient Keep—The Prospect—Reminiscences: of Harold Hardrada; of Pembroke’s Siege; of the Papists’ Surprise; of George Fox; of Robin Hood—The One Artilleryman—Scarborough Newspapers—Cloughton—The Village Inn, and its Guests—Tudds and Pooads.

Here at Filey you begin to see a special characteristic of these sea-side resorts;—the contrast between the new and old—the nineteenth century looking proudly across a narrow debatable ground at the sixteenth and seventeenth, putting even still earlier periods out of countenance. Were it not for its churches, the olden time would on occasions be made to feel ashamed of itself.

A breezy commanding outlook in front; a large handsome church, with low square tower, in the rear; a few shops trying to reconcile themselves to the new order of things while supplying the wants of fifteen hundred inhabitants; more than a few true to the old order, and here and there behind the dim panes, eggs of sea-birds, and shells, and marine stores, in the literal sense; and two or three quiet-looking, respectable inns, open to visitors whom the style of the Royal Hotel intimidates; the new town on the south, and a wooded ravine on the north; and such is old Filey.

Into this ravine I descended from the church. Heavy rain had fallen nearly all night, and the paths were so sticky and slippery, that I wondered so pretty a spot, so capable with bushes and trees and a little brook of contributing to recreation, should not be better kept. There is no lack of material[Pg 67] for solid paths in the neighbourhood; but judging from appearances the ravine gets none of it. The path follows the course of the brook, and brings you out upon a beach where fishing-boats, and nets, and lobster-pots, and heaps of ballast, and a smoky fire, and fishy refuse and a smell of tar, and sturdy men and women, make up divers pictures for the eye, and odours for the nostrils.

As, on approaching Flamborough, we saw the chalk begin to appear at the base of the cliff, so here we see a stratum of sandstone slanting up beneath the clay, rising higher towards the northern horn of the bay, and thence stretching out for three furlongs into the sea, forming the remarkable reef known as Filey Brig. Camden describes it as “a thin slip of land, such as the old English called File; from which the little village Filey takes its name.” We may suppose that the cliff once projected as far, sheltering an indentation so deep that Ptolemy might well call it the well-havened bay; though on this particular there are different opinions among the learned. Even now, stripped of its cap of clay, the reef forms a natural breakwater, of which the effect is best seen in the quiet of the small vessels at anchor behind it.

I was fortunate in the time, for a strong north wind was blowing, and the great waves, checked in their career, dashed headlong against the stony barrier, and broke into little mountains of foam, bursting up here and there in tall white intermittent jets as from a geyser; here one solid surge tumbling over another, mingling with rush and roar in a wide drift of spume; there flinging up gauzy whiffs of spray as if mermaids in frolic were tossing their veils. So mighty were the shocks at times as to inspire a feeling of insecurity in one who stood watching the magnificent spectacle.

You can walk out to the end of the reef, and get good views of Scarborough, about six miles distant in one direction, and away to Flamborough on the other. The floor is generally level, interrupted in places by great steps, channels, and boles; and by huge blocks of many tons’ weight scattered about, testifying mutely to the tremendous power of the sea.

It is a wild scene, and wilder beyond the point, where the whole beach is strewn with broken lumps, and ledge succeeds to ledge, now high, now low, compelling you to many an up-and-down, stooping under a rude cornice, or scrambling over[Pg 68] a slippery ridge. In places the cliff overhangs threateningly, or, receding, forms an alcove where you may sit and feast your eye with the wondrous commotion, and your ear with the thundering chorus of many waters.

The upper stratum of clay is worn by the twofold action of rain and spray into singularly fantastic forms, and where it has been deeply excavated, there, kept in by the rim of stone, lies a salt-water pool so bright and pellucid that the temptation to bathe therein is irresistible. I thought to get round to Gristhorp Bay, but came presently to a recess where the breakers rushing half way up the cliff barred all further progress. To lean against the rocky wall and feel it throb with the shock within the shower of spray, produced an almost painful emotion; and it seemed to me that the more tumultuous the sea the better did it harmonize with a promontory so rugged and grim.

I retraced my steps to a stair that zigzags up the cliff on the inner side of the point. Near this certain visitors have cut their initials in the hard rock floor, of such dimensions that you can only imagine a day must have been spent in the task with mallet and chisel. Vain records! The sea will wash them out some day. When on the summit I was struck more than before by the contrast between the rage and uproar on the outside of the ridge, and the comparative calm inside; nor was it easy to leave a view to which, apart from all the features of the shore, the restless sea added touches of the sublime, wherein wrought fascination. And all the while men, looking like pigmies in the distance, were groping for crabs along each side of the far-stretching reef.

A little way north of the point a rustic pavilion standing in a naked garden indicates where the visitor will find a jutting buttress whence to contemplate the scene below. More exposed on this side, the cliff is more cut up and broken in outline, jutting and receding in rugged ledges, and in every hollow rests one of those limpid pools, so calm and clear that you can see the creeping things moving between the patches of weed at the bottom. And the beach is thickly strewn with boulders of a size which perhaps represents the gravel of the “prochronic” era.

The elevation increases as we advance, and by-and-by looking round on Filey, we see how it lies at the mouth of a broad vale which it requires no great effort of imagination to[Pg 69] believe may have been an estuary at some very remote period, near to the time

“When the Indian Ocean did the wanton play
Mingling its billows with the Balticke sea,
And the whole earth was water.”

And far as you can see inland the prospect is bare, even to the distant hills and wolds which loom large and mountainous through the hazy atmosphere.

Now the cliff shows bands of colour—brown, gray, and ochre, and the lower half capped by a green slope forms a thick projecting plinth to the perpendicular wall above. Scarborough begins to be visible in detail, and soon we descend into Gristhorp Bay, where rough walking awaits us. At its northern extremity stands an insulated columnar mass, somewhat resembling the Cheesewring, on a rude pedestal shaped by the waves from the rocky layers. Situate about fifty yards from the point, it marks the wear of the cliff from which it has been detached, while the confused waste of rocks left bare by the ebb suggests ages of destruction prior to the appearance of the stubborn column.

The cliffs are of imposing height, nearly three hundred feet: a formidable bulwark. It is heavy walking along their base, but as compensation there are strata within reach in which you may find exhaustless deposits of fossil plants, giant ferns, and others. And so the beach continues round Red Cliff into Cayton Bay, where another chaos of boulders will try your feet and ability to pick your way. To vary the route, I turned up at Cayton Mill, past the large reservoir from which Scarborough is supplied with water, along the edge of the undercliff to the high road, leaving Carnelian Bay unvisited. At the hill-top you come suddenly upon a wide and striking prospect—a great sweep of hilly country on one hand, on the other the irregular margin of the cliffs all the way to the town, and a blue promontory far beyond the castle bluff, which marks our course for the morrow.

The road is good and the crops look hopeful; but the hedgerows are scanty and stunted, and not improved by the presence of a few miserable oaks; nor do the plantations which shelter the farm-houses and stingy orchards appear able to rejoice though summer be come. In some places, for want of better, the banks are topped by a hedge of furze.[Pg 70] On the left of the road, long offshoots from the bleak uplands of the interior terminate with an abrupt slope, presenting the appearance of artificial mounds. Another rise, and there is Scarborough in full view, crowding close to the shore of its bay, terminated by the castle rock, the most striking feature. Bright, showy houses scattered on the south and west indicate the approaches to the fashionable quarter, and of those farthest from the sea you will not fail to notice the Cromwell Hotel—a new building in Swiss-like style of architecture, at the foot of Oliver’s Mount. The Mount—so named from a tradition that the Protector planted his cannon there when besieging the castle—is another of those truncated offshoots, six hundred feet in height, and the summit, which is easily accessible and much visited, commands an interesting prospect. You see the tree-tops in the deep valley which divides the New Town from the Old, and rearwards, broken ground sprinkled with wood, imparting some touches of beauty to the western outskirts.

Then, turning to the right, you come upon a stately esplanade, and not without a feeling of surprise after a few days’ walking by yourself. For here all is life, gaiety, and fashion. Long rows of handsome houses, of clean, light-coloured sandstone, with glittering windows and ornamental balconies, all looking out on the broad, heaving sea. In front, from end to end, stretches a well-kept road, where seats, fixed at frequent intervals, afford a pleasurable resting-place; and from this a great slope descends to the beach, all embowered with trees and shrubs, through which here and there you get a glimpse of a gravelled path or the domed roof of a summer-house. And there, two hundred feet below, is the Spa—a castellated building protected by a sea-wall, within which a broad road slopes gently to the sands. You see visitors descending through the grove for their morning draught of the mineral water, or assisting the effect by a ‘constitutional’ on the promenade beneath; while hundreds besides stroll on the sands, where troops of children under the charge of nursemaids dig holes with little wooden spades. And here on the esplanade elegant pony barouches, driven by natty little postilions, are starting every few minutes from the aristocratic looking hotel to air gay parties of squires and dames around the neighbourhood. And turning again to the beach, there you see rows of bathing-machines gay with green and red stripes, standing near the opening of the valley, and now and[Pg 71] then one starts at a slow pace laden with bathers to meet the rising tide. And beyond these the piers stretch out, and the harbour is crowded with masts, and two steamers rock at their moorings, waiting for ‘excursionists:’ the whole backed by the houses of the Old Town rising picturesquely one above the other, and crowning the castle heights.

Nearly an hour passed before I left that agreeable resting-place, whence you get the best view of Scarborough and its environment. Of all the strollers I saw none go beyond what appeared to be a conventional limit; Nature without art was perhaps too fatiguing for them. In the whole of my walk along the coast, I met but two, and they were young men, who had ventured a few miles from head-quarters for a real walk on the cliffs.

A bridge, four hundred feet long and seventy-five high, offers a level crossing for foot passengers from the esplanade to the opposite side of the deep valley above mentioned, on payment of a toll. It is at once ornamental and convenient, saving the toil of a steep ascent and descent, and combining the advantage of an observatory. From the centre you get a complete view of the bay, one which the eye rests on with pleasure, though you will hardly agree with a medical author, that it is a “Bay of Naples.” In the other direction, you look up the wooded valley, and down upon the Museum, a Doric rotunda, built by the members of the Scarborough Philosophical Society, for the preservation of geological specimens. The contents are admirably classified, rocks and fossils in their natural order; amid them rests the skeleton of an ancient British chief; and near the entrance you may see the clumsy oak coffin in which it was found, about twenty-five years ago, in a barrow at Gristhorp.

Descend into the valley, and you will find pleasure in the sight of the bridge, and miles of water seen through the light and graceful arches. Then take a walk along the sands, and look up at the leafy slope, crowned by the esplanade, and you will commend the enterprise which converted an ugly clay cliff into a hanging wood. And enterprise is not to stop here: Sir Joseph Paxton, as I heard, has been consulted about the capabilities of the cliff to the south. Some residents, however, think that Scarborough is already overdone.

In a small court within the Spa you may see the health-[Pg 72]giving waters flowing from two mouths, known from their position as North Well and South Well. The stream is constant, and, after all the wants of the establishment are supplied, runs across the sand to the sea. The water has a flavour of rusty iron and salt, differing in the two wells, although they are but a few feet apart; and the drinkers find it beneficial in cases of chronic debility and indigestion with their remorseless allies.

The contrast is more marked between New and Old than at Filey. There is, however, a good, respectable look about the streets of the Old Town, and signs of solid business, notwithstanding the collections of knick-knackery and inharmonious plate-glass. From the broad main street you descend by a narrow crooked street—from old through oldest to the harbour, where old anchors, old boats, old beams and buttresses dispute possession with the builders of new boats, who make the place noisy with their hammering. Here as a Yorkshireman would say, were assembled all the ‘ragabash’ of Scarborough, to judge by what they said and did. Boys and men were fishing from the pier-head under the lighthouse, watched by grizzly old mariners, who appeared to have nothing better to do than to sit in the sun; children paddled in the foamy shallows of the heavy breakers; carts rumbled slowly to and from the coal brigs, followed by stout fellows carrying baskets of fish; a sight which might have shamed the dissolute throng into something like industry.

Enclosed by the three piers which form the harbour stands a detached pile of masonry, seemingly an ancient breakwater—all weather-beaten, weedy, and grass-grown, with joints widely gaping, looking as if it had stood there ever since Leland’s day—a remarkable object amid the stir of trade and modern constructions, but quite in harmony with the old pantile-roofed houses that shut in the port. Among these you note touches of the picturesque; and your eye singles out the gables as reminiscences of the style which, more than any other, satisfies its desire.

But let us go and look down on the scene from the castle rock. The ascent is steep, yet rich in recompense. St. Mary’s church, near the summit, and the fragments of old walls standing amidst the graves, remind us of its former dimensions, and of the demolitions it suffered during the siege. And there rises in massive strength, to a height of[Pg 73] ninety feet, a remnant of the castle keep—an imposing ruin full before us, as we cross the drawbridge, pass under the barbican, and along the covered way, to the inner court. But the court is a large, rough pasture, fenced on the north and east, where the cliff is bare and perpendicular, and towards the town shut in by a range of old wall, pierced by a few embrasures, some low buildings, and the remains of an ancient chapel. There is no picturesque assemblage of ruins; but little indeed besides the shattered keep, and that appears to best effect from without. Near the chapel, Our Lady’s Well, a spring famous from time immemorial, bubbles silently up in a darksome vault.

Northwards the view extends along the rugged coast to the Peak, a lofty point that looks down on Robin Hood’s Bay, and to hazy elevations beyond Whitby. To get a sight of the town you must return to the barbican, where you can step up on the wall and securely enjoy a bird’s-eye view: from the row of cannon which crown the precipice sheer down to the port and away to the Spa, all lies outspread before the curious eye.

A great height, as we have already proved, appears to be favourable to musing, especially when the sun shines bright. And here there is much to muse about. Harold Hardrada, when on his way to defeat and death at Stamford Brig, landed here, and climbing the “Scarburg” with his wild sea-rovers, lit a huge bonfire, and tossed the blazing logs over the cliff down upon the town beneath. The burg, or fortress, was replaced in the reign of Stephen by a castle, which, renewed by Henry II., became one of the most important strongholds of the kingdom. Piers Gavestone defended it vigorously against the Earl of Pembroke, but was starved into a surrender, with what result we all know. The Roman Catholics attempted it during their Pilgrimage of Grace, but were beaten off. In 1554, however, when Queen Mary was trying to accomplish the Pilgrims’ work, a son of Lord Stafford and thirty confederates, all disguised as rustics, sauntered unsuspected into the outer court, where on a sudden they surprised the sentries, and immediately admitting a reserve party carrying concealed arms, they made themselves masters of the place. The success of this surprise is said to have given rise to the adage “Scarborough warning; a word and a blow, and the blow first.” But after three days the[Pg 74] Earl of Westmoreland regained possession, and Mr. Stafford underwent the same sharp discipline as befel Edward the Second’s favourite. At length came the struggle between Prerogative and People, and in the triumph of the right the castle was well-nigh demolished; and since then, time and tempest have done the rest.

Among the unfortunates who suffered imprisonment here, George Fox, the aboriginal Quaker, has left us a most pathetic account of his sufferings. Brought hither from Lancaster Castle, he was put into a chamber which he likened to purgatory for smoke, into which the rain beat, and after he had “laid out about fifty shillings” to make it habitable, “they removed me,” he writes in his Journal, “into a worse room, where I had neither chimney nor fireplace. This being to the sea-side and lying much open, the wind drove in the rain forcibly, so that the water came over my bed and ran about the room, that I was fain to skim it up with a platter. And when my clothes were wet, I had no fire to dry them; so that my body was benumbed with cold, and my fingers swelled, that one was grown as big as two.” For more than a year did the resolute Peacemaker endure pain and privation, and vindicate his principles on this tall cliff; and when three years later, in 1669, he again went preaching in Yorkshire, he revisited Scarborough, and “the governor hearing I was come,” he writes, “sent to invite me to his house, saying, ‘surely I would not be so unkind as not to come and see him and his wife.’ So after the meeting I went up to visit him, and he received me very courteously and lovingly.”

Five hundred years earlier, and, as the ballad tells, the merry outlaw, Robin Hood, who

“The Yorkshire woods frequented much,”

being a-weary of forest glades and fallow deer, exclaimed,

“The fishermen brave more money have
Than any merchants two or three;
Therefore I will to Scarborough go,
That I a fisherman brave may be.”

But though the “widow woman” in whose house “he took up his inn,” lent him a stout boat and willing crew, he caught no fish, and the master laughed at him for a lubber.[Pg 75] However, two or three days later, he espied a ship of war sailing proudly towards them, and then it was the master’s turn to lament, for the French robbers spared no man. To him then Robin:

“‘Master, tye me to the mast,’ saith he,
‘That at my mark I may stand fair,
And give me my bent bow in my hand,
And never a Frenchman will I spare.’
“He drew his arrow to the very head,
And drew it with all might and maine,
And straightway, in the twinkling of an eye,
To the Frenchman’s heart the arrow’s gane.

“Then streight they boarded the French ship
They lyeing all dead in their sight;
They found within that ship of warre
Twelve thousand pound of mony bright.”

The castle is national property, and as the bluff affords a good site for offence and defence, a magazine and barracks for a company of men have been built. For all garrison, at the time of my visit, there was but one invalid artilleryman, who employs his leisure in constructing models of the ruins for sale along with bottles of ginger beer. He will talk to you about the nice water of Our Lady’s Well; the cavern in the cliff, where the officers once dined; of the cannon balls that Cromwell sent across from Oliver’s Mount; about the last whale caught on the shore, and about the West Indies, where he lost his health; but he remembers little or nothing of Piers Gavestone or George Fox, and is not quite sure if he ever heard that Robin Hood went a-privateering. His duties, he told me, were not heavy; he did not even lock the gate at night, because folk came very early in the morning to fetch their cows from the pasture.

Since then, that is, in the autumn of 1857, the rains occasioned a landslip, which nearly obliterated the cavern; a whale thirty feet long was caught floundering in the shallows; and on Seamer Moor, about three miles distant, ancient gold and silver rings and ornaments, beads and broken pottery, and implements of bronze and iron and a skeleton, were found on excavating a chalky knoll.

Of course, a town of thirteen thousand inhabitants must have its newspapers. The Scarborough Gazette is a curiosity[Pg 76] for its long list of visitors, filling sometimes two pages. A cheap paper—the title of which I have lost—was a curiosity to me in another way, for I could not have believed that Yorkshire folk would read anything so stupid as the wordy columns therein passed off for politics.

The shadows were lengthening towards the east when, after satisfying myself with another look at the coast to the north, I took the road for Cloughton, leaving the town by the north esplanade, where Blenheim-terrace shows the sober style of the first improvements. Many visitors, however, prefer the view from those plain bay-windows to that seen from the stately houses to the south.

Cloughton is a small quiet village, with a Red Lion to match, where you may get good rustic fare—cakes, bacon, and eggs—and a simple chamber. The landlord, a patriarch of eighty-five, still hale, and active, who sat warming his knees at the turf fire, opened his budget of reminiscences concerning Scarborough. The change from what it was to what it is, was wonderful. He went there at election times. Had once been to vote at York, years ago, “when there was a hard fight betuxt a Milton and a Lascelles.” Had never been to London, but his niece went up to the Great Exhibition. While we talked, in came a shabby-looking fellow with a six days’ beard, for a pint of beer. He had been trout-fishing all day on the moors—one of his means of living. He stayed but a few minutes, and as he went out the patriarch said, “He’s a roughish one to look at, but he can make powetry.” It was too late to call him back, or I might perhaps have got a specimen.

Then came in the rustics in twos and threes for their evening pint and pipe, most of them preferring hard porter to the ale, which was really good. Not one had a complaint to make of hard times: wages were one and sixpence a day, and meat, and good meat, too—beef and mutton and pies—as much as they could eat. They didn’t want to emigrate; Yorkshire was quite good enough for them. While talking to them and listening to their conversation among themselves, my old conviction strengthened that the rural folk are not the fools they are commonly taken to be. Choose such words as they are familiar with—such as John Bunyan uses—and you can make them understand any ordinary subject and take pleasure in it. And how happy they are when you can sug[Pg 77]gest an illustration from something common to their daily life! I would have undertaken to give an hour’s lecture on terrestrial magnetism even, to that company; and not one should have wished it shorter. And once having broken through their crust of awkwardness, you find them possessed of a good fund of common sense, quick to discern between the plausible and what they feel to be true. Flattering speeches made at hay-homes and harvest-homes are taken for what they are worth; and the sunburnt throng are everywhere ready to applaud the sentiment conveyed in a reaper’s reply to a complimentary toast:

“Big bees fly high;
Little bees make the honey:
Poor men do the work;
Rich men get the money.”

One of the party, lively enough to have lived when the island was “merry England,” hearing that I intended to walk through Bay Town on the morrow, said, laughingly, “You’ll find nought but Tudds and Pooads down there;” meaning that Todd and Poad were the prevalent names.

[Pg 78]


CHAPTER XI.

From Cloughton to Haiburn Wyke—The embowered Path—Approach to the Sea—Rock, Water, and Foliage—Heavy Walking—Staintondale Cliffs—The Undercliff—The Peak—Raven Hall—Robin Hood’s Bay—A Trespass—Alum Works—Waterfalls—Bay Town—Manners and Customs of the Natives—Coal Trade—The Churchyard—Epitaphs—Black-a-moor—Hawsker—Vale of Pickering—Robin Hood and Little John’s Archery—Whitby Abbey—Beautiful Ruin—St. Hilda, Wilfrid, and Cœdmon—Legends—A Fallen Tower—St. Mary’s Church—Whitby—The Vale of Esk—Specimens of Popular Hymns.

The next morning looked unpromising; the heavy rain which began to fall the evening before had continued all night, and when I started, trees and hedges were still dripping and the grass drooping, overburdened with watery beads. Bye-paths are not enticing under such circumstances: however, the range of cliffs between Haiburn Wyke and Robin Hood’s Bay is so continuously grand and lofty that I made up my mind to walk along their summit whether or not.

About half an hour from Cloughton brought me to a ‘crammle gate,’ as the natives call it; that is, a rustic gate with zigzaggy rails, from which a private road curves down through a grove to a farm-house on the right. Here, finding no outlet, I had to inquire, and was told to cross the garden. All praise to the good-nature which trusts a stranger to lift the “clinking latch” and walk unwatched through a garden so pretty, teeming with fruit, flowers, and vegetables; where a path overarched by busy climbers leads you into pleasing ins and outs, and along blooming borders to the edge of a wooded glen, and that is Haiburn Wyke. The path, not trimly kept as in the garden, invites you onwards beneath a thick shade of oak, ash, and hazel; between clumps of honeysuckle and wild roses, and broken slopes hung with ferns and ivy, and a very forest of grasses; while, to heighten the[Pg 79] charm, a little brook descends prattling confidingly to the many stones that lie in its crooked channel. The path winds, now steep, now gradual, and at the bends a seat offers a resting-place if you incline to pause and meditate.

There was another charm: at first a fitful murmur which swelled into a roar as I sauntered down and came nearer to the sea. The trees grow so thickly that I could see but a few yards around, and there seemed something almost awful in the sound of the thundering surge, all the heavier in the damp air, as it plunged on the rugged beach: so near, and yet unseen. But after another bend or two it grows lighter overhead, crags peep through the foliage on both sides, and then emerging on a level partly filled by a summer-house, you see the narrow cove, the jutting cliffs that shelter it, and every minute the tumultuous sea flinging all round the stony curve a belt of quivering foam.

I could not advance far, for the tide had but just begun to fall; however, striding out as far as possible, I turned to look at the glen. It is a charming scene: the leafy hollow, the cliffs rounding away from the mantling green to present a bare front to the sea, yet patched and streaked with gray and yellow and white and brown, as if to make up for loss of verdure. There the brook, tumbling over stony ledges, shoots into a cascade between huge masses of rock, and hurries still with lively noise across the beach, talking as freely to boulders of five tons’ weight as to stones of a pound; heedless, apparently, that its voice will soon be drowned for ever in the mighty voice of the sea. It is a charming scene, truly, even under a gloomy sky: you will see none fairer on all the coast. On a sunshiny day it should attract many visitors from Scarborough, when those able to walk might explore Cloughton Wyke—less beautiful than this—on the way.

To get up the steep clay road all miry with the rain on the northern side of the glen, was no easy task; but the great ball of clay which clung to each of my feet was soon licked off by the wet grass in the fields above. I took the edge of the cliffs, and found the ascent to the Staintondale summit not less toilsome. There was no path, and wading through the rank grass and weeds, or through heavy wheat and drenched barley on ground always up-hill, wetted me through up to the hips in a few minutes, and gave me a taste of work. For the time I did not much admire the Yorkshire thriftiness[Pg 80] which had ploughed and sown so close to the bank leaving no single inch of space. However, I came at times to a bare field or a pasture, and the freshening breeze blew me almost dry before climbing over awkward fences for another bath of weeds and grain. And besides, a few faint watery gleams of sunshine began to slant down upon the sea, and the increasing height of the cliffs opened wide views over land and water—from misty hills looming mountainous on one side, to the distant smoke of a coasting steamer on the other. And again there are two or three miles of undercliff, a great slope covered with a dense bush threaded here and there by narrow paths, and forming in places an impenetrable tangle. To stand on the highest point, five hundred and eighty-five feet above the sea, and look down on the precipitous crags, the ridges and hollows and rounded buttresses decked with the mazy bush where birds without number haunt, is a sight that repays the labour. At the corner of one of the fields the bushes lean inwards so much from the wind, that the farmer has taken advantage of the overshoot to construct a bower wherein to sit and enjoy the prospect.

These tall cliffs are the sudden termination of a range of hills stretching from the interior to the coast. Taken with the undercliff, they present many combinations which would delight the eye and employ the pencil of an artist. And to the geologist they are of abounding interest, exhibiting shale, shelly limestone, sandstones of various qualities in which belemnites and ferns, and other animal and vegetable fossils, are embedded in surprising quantities. You can descend here and there by a zigzag path, and look up at the towering crags, or search the fallen masses, or push into the thicket; that is, in dry weather. After about two miles the bush thins off, and gives place to gorse, and reedy ponds in the hollows, and short turf on which cattle and sheep are grazing.

The range continues for perhaps five miles and ends in a great perpendicular bluff—a resort of sea-birds. Here on getting over the fence I noticed that the pasture had a well-kept, finished appearance; and presently, passing the corner of a wall, I found myself on a lawn, and in front of Raven Hall—a squire’s residence. An embrasured wall built to represent bastions and turrets runs along the edge of the cliff, and looking over, you see beneath the grand sweep of Robin Hood’s Bay backed by a vast hollow slope—a natural amphi[Pg 81]theatre a league in compass, containing fields and meadows, shaly screes and patches of heath, cottages, and the Peak alum-works. We are on the Peak, and can survey the whole scene, away to Bay Town, a patch of red capped by pale-blue smoke just within the northern horn of the bay.

A lady and gentleman were trying in defiance of the wind to haul up a flag on the tall staff erected at the point, to whom I apologised for my unintentional trespass. They needed no apology, and only wondered that any one should travel along the cliffs on such a morning. “Did you do it for pleasure?” asked the lady, with a merry twinkle in her eye, as she saw how bedraggled I looked below the knees.

The gentleman left the flapping banner, and showed me from the rear of the premises the readiest way down to the beach—a very long irregular descent, the latter portion across the alum shale, and down the abrupt slope of Cinder Hill, where the buildings are blackened by smoke. At first the beach is nothing but a layer of small fragments of shale, of a dark slate-colour, refuse from the works; and where the cliffs reappear there you see shale in its natural condition, and feel it beneath your feet while treading on the yielding sand. Numerous cascades leap down from these cliffs; at the time I passed swollen by the rain, and well set off by the dark precipice. One of them was a remarkably good representation of the Staubbach on a small scale.

About half way I met a gig conveying visitors to the Hall at a walking pace, for the wheels sank deep. It was for them that the flag was to be raised, as a signal of welcome; and looking back I saw it flying proudly, on what, seen from below, appeared a castle on the cliff. At this moment the sun shone out, and lit up the Peak in all its magnificent proportions; and the effects of my trudge through drip and mire soon disappeared. Another mile and the rocks are thickly strewn with periwinkles, and great plashy beds of seaweed must be crossed, and then we see that the outermost houses rest on a solid weather-stained wall of boulders, through which descends a rugged incline of big stones—the foot of the main street of Bay Town.

There is no lack of quarters, for within a few yards you may count seven public-houses. It is a strange place, with alleys which are stairs for side streets, and these leading into queer places, back yards and pigstyes, and little gardens[Pg 82] thriving with pot-herbs. Everything is on a slope, overtopped by the green hill behind. Half way up the street, in what looks like a market-place, lie a number of boats, as if for ornament. You can hardly imagine them to have been hauled up from the beach. Some of the shops are curiosities in their appearance and display of wares; yet there are traders in Bay Town who could buy up two or three of your fashionable shopkeepers in the watering-places.

“Yer master wants ye,” said a messenger to a young fellow who sat smoking his pipe in the King’s Head, while Martha, the hostess, fried a chop for my dinner.

“Tell him I isn’t here: I isn’t a coomin’,” was the answer, with a touch of Yorkshire, which I heard frequently afterwards.

From the talk that went on I gathered that Bay Town likes to amuse itself as well as other places. All through the past winter a ball or dance had been held nearly every evening, in the large rooms which, it appears, are found somewhere belonging to the very unpretending public-houses. On the other hand, church and chapel are well attended, and the singing is hearty. Weddings and funerals are made the occasion of festivals, and great is the number of guests. Martha assured me that two hundred persons were invited when her father was buried; and even for a child, the number asked will be forty or fifty; and all get something to eat and drink. It was commonly said in the neighbourhood that the head of a Bay Town funeral procession would be at the church before the tail had left the house. The church is on the hill-top, nearly a mile away. A clannish feeling prevails. Any lad or lass who should chose to wed with an outsider, would be disgraced. Ourselves to ourselves, is the rule. On their way home from church, the young couple are beset by invitations to drink at door after door, as they pass, and jugs of strong liquor are bravely drained, and all the eighteen hundred inhabitants share in the gladness. Hence the perpetuation of Todds and Poads. However, as regards names, the most numerous which I saw were Granger and Bedlington, or Bettleton, as the natives call it.

The trade in fish has given place to trade in coal; and Bay Town owns about eighty coal brigs and schooners, which sail to Edinburgh, to London, to ports in France, and one, which belongs to a man who a few years ago was a labourer, crosses[Pg 83] the ocean to America. There are no such miserable paupers as swarm in the large towns. Except the collier crews, the folk seldom leave the parish; and their farthest travel is to Hartlepool in the steamer which calls in the bay on her way from Scarborough.

I chose to finish the walk to Whitby by the road; and in a few minutes, so steep is the hill, was above Bay Town, and looking on the view bounded by the massy Peak. Near where the lane enters the high road stands the church, a modern edifice, thickly surrounded with tombstones. Black with gilt letters, appears to be the favourite style; and among them are white stones, bearing outspread gilt wings and stars, and an ornamental border. The clannish feeling loves to keep alive the memory of the departed; and one might judge that it has the gift of “powetry,” and delights in epitaphs. Let us read a few: we shall find “drowned at sea,” and “mariner,” a frequent word in the inscriptions:

Partner dear my life is past,
My love for you was to the last;
Therefore for me no sorrow take,
But love my children for my sake.

An old man of eighty-two is made to say:

From raging storms at sea
The Lord he did me save,
And here my tottering limbs is brought
To moulder in the grave.

Lancelot Moorsom, aged seventy-four, varies the matter thus:

Tho’ boreas blast and neptune waves
Hath toss’d me too and fro’,
By God’s decree you plainly see,
I’m harbour’d here below,
But here I do at anchor ride
With many of our fleet,
And once again I must set sail,
My Saviour Christ to meet.

Of a good old wife, we read something for which the sex would be the better were it true of all:

She was not puff’d in mind,
She had no scornful eye,
Nor did she exercise herself
In things that were too high.
[Pg 84]

Childhood claims a tender sentiment; and parents mourn thus for their little ones:

One hand they gave to Jesus, one to Death,
And looking upward to their Father’s throne,
Their gentle spirits vanish’d with their breath,
And fled to Eden’s ever blooming zone.

The road runs along the high ground near enough to the sea for you to hear its roar, and note the outline of the cliffs, while inland the country rolls away hilly to the dreary region described by old writers as “Black-a-moor.” Another half-hour, and having passed through Hawsker, you see a strange-looking building a long way off. It is the Abbey of Whitby. And now a view opens into the Vale of Pickering; and there, in the fields on the left, are the stones which mark where the arrows fell, when Robin Hood and Little John, who had been treated to a dinner at the Abbey, went up on the roof to gratify the monks with a specimen of their skill, and proved the goodness of their bows, and their right to rank as foremost of English archers. As your eye measures the distance, more than a mile, your admiration of the merry outlaws will brighten up, unless like the incredulous antiquary, you consider such stories as only fit to be left “among the lyes of the land.”

Seen from the road, over the wall-top, the abbey reveals but few of the beautiful features which charm your eye on a nearer view. To gain admission you have to pass through an old mansion belonging to the Cholmley family, in which, by the way, there are rooms, and passages, and a stair, weapons, furniture, and tapestry that remind you of the olden time; and in the rear a delightful garden, with a prospect along the vale of Esk. From the garden you enter a meadow, and may wander at will about the ruin.

I saw it to perfection, for the sky had cleared, and the evening sun touched the crumbling walls and massy columns and rows of graceful arches with wondrous beauty, relieved by the lengthening shadows. The effect of the triple rows of windows is singularly pleasing, and there are carvings and mouldings still remaining that will bear the closest inspection, although it was a mason of the thirteenth century who cut them. Three distinct styles are obvious, and you will notice that the whitest stone, which is the oldest, is the least decayed.[Pg 85] An aisle still offers you the shelter of its groined roof, the transept still shows the corbels and niches, and carved roses that fed the eyes of Robin Hood’s entertainers, and on the sedilia where they sat you may now repose. Every moment you discover some new beauty, something to increase your admiration, and wonder that so much should be left of a building which has not a tree to shelter it from the storms of the sea.

For twelve hundred years the ground has been consecrated. Here the blessed St. Hilda founded a monastery, and dedicated it to St. Peter, in 658. Here it was that the famous debate was held concerning the proper time of Easter between the Christians who were converted by Culdee missionaries from Ireland before St. Augustine’s visit, and those of the later time. It was St. John and the practice of the Eastern Church against St. Peter and the Western; and through the eloquent arguments of Wilfrid of Ripon, the latter prevailed.

Here Cœdmon, one of the menial monks, was miraculously inspired to write the poem which immortalises his name; and here St. John of Beverley was educated. Then came the Danish pirates under Ubba, and destroyed the monastery, and the place lay waste till one of William the Conqueror’s warriors, grieved to the heart on beholding the desolation, exchanged his coat of steel for a Benedictine’s gown, and rebuilt the sacred house.

Few who come hither will need to be reminded of that inspiriting voyage along the coast, when

“The Abbess of St. Hilda placed
With five fair nuns the galley graced,”

nor of the sisters’ evening talk, while

“—Whitby’s nuns exulting told,
How to their house three barons bold
Must menial service do;
While horns blow out a note of shame,
And monks cry ‘Fye upon your name!
In wrath, for loss of sylvan game,
St. Hilda’s priest ye slew.’—
This on Ascension day, each year,
While labouring on our harbour-pier,
Must Herbert, Bruce, and Percy hear.—
They told how in their convent cell
A Saxon princess once did dwell,
The lovely Edelfled;[Pg 86]
And how of thousand snakes, each one
Was changed into a coil of stone
When holy Hilda pray’d;
Themselves, within their holy bound,
Their stony folds had often found.
They told how seafowls’ pinions fail,
As over Whitby’s towers they sail,
And sinking down, with flutterings faint,
They do their homage to the saint.”

The stately tower, the glory of the ruin, fell in 1830, at the close of a reign, during which things good and beautiful were unhappily but too much neglected. A rugged heap, with lumps of stone peeping out from tufts of coarse grass, marks the spot where the fall took place; the last, it is to be hoped, that will be permitted in so striking a memorial of the architecture of the past. Standing in private grounds and surrounded by a light iron fence, it is now safe from the intrusion of cattle and from wanton spoilers.

A few yards beyond the abbey, you cross St. Mary’s churchyard to the top of a long flight of steps, where a remarkable scene opens suddenly beneath. Whitby, lying on each side of the Esk, the river winding from a wooded vale, expanding to receive the numerous vessels of the inner harbour, and flowing away between the houses and the two piers to the sea. The declivity is so abrupt, that the houses appear strangely huddled together, tier above tier, in irregular masses, as if resting one on the other, and what with the colour and variety of forms, the shipping, the great depth of the valley, the great bluffs with which it terminates, and line upon line of breakers beginning to foam at two furlongs from the shore, make up a scene surpassingly picturesque; one that you will be in no hurry to lose sight of. If the Whitby church-goers find it toilsome to ascend nearly two hundred steps every Sunday, they have a goodly prospect for recompense, besides the service.

One wall of the church is said to be older than any portion of the abbey; but the edifice has undergone so many alterations, that meritorious architecture is not now to be looked for. A more breezy churchyard it would not be easy to find. Opposite, on the farther cliff, is a cluster of new stone houses, including a spacious hotel, built to attract visitors; an enterprise promoted by King George Hudson in his palmy days.

I lingered, contemplating the view, till it was time to look[Pg 87] for an inn; I chose the Talbot, and had no reason to repent my choice. On the way thither, I bought two religious ballads at a little shop, the mistress of which told me she sold “hundreds of ’em,” and that they were printed at Otley. As specimens of a class of compositions which are relished and sung as hymns by a numerous section of the community, they are eminently suggestive. Do they supply a real want? Are they harmless? Are they edifying? Can they who find satisfaction therein be led up to something better? To close this chapter, here follows a quotation from The Railway to Heaven:

“O! what a deal we hear and read
About Railways and railway speed,
Of lines which are, or may be made;
And selling shares is quite a trade.

Allow me, as an old Divine,
To point you to another line,
Which does from earth to heaven extend,
Where real pleasures never end.

Of truth divine the rails are made,
And on the Rock of Ages laid;
The rails are fix’d in chairs of love,
Firm as the throne of God above.

One grand first-class is used for all,
For Jew and Gentile, great and small,
There’s room for all the world inside,
And kings with beggars here do ride.

About a hundred years or so
Wesley and others said they’d go:
A carriage mercy did provide,
That Wesley and his friends might ride.
’Tis nine-and-thirty years, they say,
Whoever lives to see next May,
Another coach was added then
Unto this all important train.

Jesus is the first engineer,
He does the gospel engine steer;
We’ve guards who ride, while others stand
Close by the way with flag in hand.
CHORUS.
“My son, says God, give me thy heart;
Make haste, or else the train will start.”

[Pg 88]

The other, entitled Daniel the Prophet, begins with:

“Where are now the Hebrew children?
Where are now the Hebrew children?
Where are now the Hebrew children?
Saved into the promised land;”

and after enumerating the prophet, the fiery furnace, the lion, tribulation, Stephen, and the Great Apostle, in similar strain, ends:

“Where is now the patriarch Wesley?
Where is now the patriarch Wesley?
Where is now the patriarch Wesley?
Saved into the promised land.”
CHORUS.
“When we meet we’ll sing hallelujah,
When we meet we’ll shout hosannah,
When we meet we’ll sing for ever,
Saved into the promised land.”

Though good taste and conventionality may be offended at such hymns as these, it seems to me that if those who sing them had words preached to them which they could understand and hearken to gladly, they would be found not unprepared to lay hold of real truth in the end.

[Pg 89]


CHAPTER XII.

Whitby’s Attractions—The Pier—The River-Mouth—The Museum—Saurians and Ammonites—An enthusiastic Botanist—Jet in the Cliffs, and in the Workshop—Jet Carvers and Polishers—Jet Ornaments—The Quakers’ Meeting—A Mechanics’ Institute—Memorable Names—A Mooky Miner—Trip to Grosmont—The Basaltic Dike—Quarries and Ironstone—Thrifty Cottagers—Abbeys and Hovels—A Stingy Landlord—Egton Bridge—Eskdale Woods—The Beggar’s Bridge.

Whitby, and not Scarborough, would be my choice had I to sojourn for a few weeks on the Yorkshire coast. What it lacks of the style and show which characterize its aristocratic neighbour, is more than made up by its situation on a river and the beauty of its neighbourhood; and I regretted not having time to stay more than one day in a place that offers so many attractions. Woods and waterfalls beautify and enliven the landscape; shady dells and rocky glens lie within an easy walk, and the trip by rail to Pickering abounds with “contentive variety.” And for contrast there is always the wild Black-a-moor a few miles inland; and beyond that again the pleasant hills and vales of Cleveland.

And few towns can boast so agreeable a promenade as that from the bridge, along the spacious quay, and out to the pier-head, a distance of nearly half a mile. Thence can be seen all the life and movement on the river, all the picturesque features of the heights on each side crowded with houses, and to seaward the foaming crests of waves chasing one another towards the land. You can see how, after rolling and plunging on the rocky bar, they rush up the stream with a mighty swell even to the bridge. In blowing weather their violence is such that vessels cannot lie safely in the lower harbour, and must shift to the upper moorings above the bridge. On the pier-head stands a lighthouse, built in the form of a fluted Doric column, crowned by a gallery and lantern; and here, leaning on the encircling[Pg 90] parapet, you can admire the solid masonry, or watch the furious breakers, while inhaling the medicinal breath of the sea. The pier on the opposite side is more exposed, serving the purpose of a breakwater; and at times clouds of spray leap high from its outer wall, and glisten for an instant with rainbow hues in the sunshine.

It surprises a stranger on first arrival to hear what seems to him the south bank of the river spoken of as the east bank, and the north bank as the west; and it is only by taking into account the trend of the coast, and the direction of the river’s course, that the cardinal points are discovered to be really in their true position, and you cease to look for sunrise in the west.

One of the buildings at the rear of the quay contains the Baths, and on the upper floor the Museum, and a good Subscription Library. The Museum, which belongs to the Literary and Philosophical Society, dates from 1823, a time when Whitby, with the sea on one side and wild tracts of moorlands on the other, was in a manner shut out from the rest of the world, and compelled to rely on its own resources. Not till 1759 was any proper road made to connect it with neighbouring towns. Warm hospitality was thereby nourished, and, as regards science, the result is highly meritorious. To say nothing of the collections which represent antiquity, ethnology, natural history, and mineralogy, the fossil specimens are especially worth attention. Side by side with a section of the strata of the coast from Bridlington to Redcar is a collection of the fossils therein contained; among which those of the immediate neighbourhood, such as may be called Whitby fossils, occupy the chief place, all classed and labelled in a way that shows how much may be done with small means when the curator is in earnest. There are saurians in good preservation, one of which was presented to the Museum for 150l., by the nobleman on whose estate it was found embedded in lias. The number of ammonites of all sizes is surprising. These are the headless snakes of St. Hilda’s nuns, and the “strange frolicks of Nature,” of philosophers in later days, who held that she formed them “for diversion after a toilsome application to serious business.” Perhaps it is to some superstitious notion connected with the snake-stones that the town owes the three ammonites in its coat of arms. In all, the fossil specimens in the Museum now amount to nearly nine thousand.[Pg 91]

I had the advantage of explanations from Mr. Simpson, the curator, during my visit, and afterwards of accompanying him and some of his friends on a walk. One of the party, a botanist, was the first to discover the Epilobium alpinum (alpine willow herb) in England, while walking one day on the hills near Whitby. No sooner did he set eyes on it, than, as his companions said, they thought he had taken leave of his senses, for he leaped, shouted, danced, sang, and threw his hat up in the air, and made other enthusiastic demonstrations around the plant, which, up to that time, was believed not to exist south of the Tweed. I asked him if he would have exchanged his emotions for California.

“No,” he answered, “that I wouldn’t! At all events, not for the first three minutes.”

Besides its traffic in ship-building, alum, and stone, Whitby has a trade in works of art which makes at least its name known to fashionable society; and for this, as for its fossils, it depends on the neighbouring cliffs. For many miles along the shore, and at places inland, jet is found embedded with other formations. Drayton makes mention of it:

“The rocks by Moulgrave too, my glories forth to set,
Out of their crany’d cleves can give you perfect jet.”

And the shaping of this remarkable substance into articles for ornament and use gives employment to five hundred men, women, and children in Whitby. I was favoured with a sight of Mr. Greenbury’s manufactory, and saw the processes from beginning to end. There is nothing mysterious about them. The pattern of the desired object, a scroll, leaf, flower, or whatever else, is scratched with a steel point on a piece of jet sawn to the required dimensions; the workman then with a knife cuts away the waste portions, brings out the rude form, and by using various knives and chisels, according to the delicacy of the design, he in no long time has the article ready for the polisher. The work looks very easy, as you watch the men cutting, apparently with less concern than some folk bestow on the whittling of a stick, and making the chips fly in little heaps. The nature of the jet favours rapidity of hand. It has somewhat the appearance of compressed pitch, and when under the knife sends off a shower of chips and splinters as hard pitch does. Some specimens have been found with fossils so embedded therein, as to confirm the[Pg 92] opinion of those who hold jet to be a species of petroleum, contrary to the common belief that it is wood partly converted into coal.

After the knives, the grindstones come into play, to work up and smooth all the accessible surfaces; and next swift-whirling wheels encircled with list, which give the polish. The deep incisions and hollows which cannot be touched by the wheel are polished on narrow slips of list. This is the work of boys: the slips of list are made fast by one end to the bench, and taking hold of the other, and shifting or tightening as the work may require, the boys rub the deep parts of the ornaments backwards and forwards till the polish is complete. The finishing touch, which imparts the brilliance, is given by a sprinkling of rouge, and a light hand with the rubber.

Armlets and bracelets composed of several pieces are cemented together, forming a complete hoop, while in course of manufacture, to ensure accuracy of workmanship, and are separated at last for the drilling of the holes for the elastic cord whereby they are held together in the finished state. The drilling of these holes through each separate piece is a nice operation, for any departure from the true line would appear as an imperfection in the ornament.

What with the drilling lathes, the rapid grindstones and polishing-wheels, and the busy artificers, from those who cut up the jet, to the roughers-out, the carvers, the polishers in their order, to the boys with their list rubbers, and the finishers, the factory presented a busy scene. The boys earn from three-and-sixpence to five shillings a week; the men from three to four times as much. I made an inquiry as to their economical habits, and heard in reply that the landlord of the Jetmen’s Arms could give the surest information.

No means have yet been discovered of working up the chips and splinters produced in cutting the jet, so as to form solid available blocks, as can be done with black-lead for pencils; there is, therefore, a considerable amount of waste. The value of jet varies with the quality; from ten to eighteen shillings a pound. According to the report on mineral products, by Mr. Robert Hunt, the value of the jet dug and manufactured in England is twenty thousand pounds a year. Some of the best shops in Whitby and Scarborough are those where jet is sold; and not the least attractive of the displays in Regent-[Pg 93]street, is that labelled Finest Whitby Jet, and exhibited as vases, chains, rings, seals, brooches, taper-stands, and obelisks. Here in Whitby you may buy a small ammonite set in jet.

Jet is not a new object of luxury. It was used for ornamental purposes by the ancient Britons, and by their conquerors, as proved by articles found in their tombs. A trade in jet is known to have existed in Whitby in 1598. Camden, translating from an old Treatise of Jewels, has

“Jeat-stone almost a gemm, the Lybians find,
But fruitful Britain sends a wondrous kind;
’Tis black and shining, smooth, and ever light,
’Twill draw up straws if rubb’d till hot and bright,
Oyl makes it cold, but water gives it heat.”

The amber mines of Prussia yield a species of jet which is burnt as a coal.

Whitby presents signs of a social phenomenon which is observable in other places: the decline of Quakerism. I was invited to look at the Mechanics’ Institute, and found it located in the Quakers’ Meeting House. The town was one of George Fox’s strongholds, and a considerable number of Quakers, including some of the leading families, remained up to the last generation. Death and secession have since then brought about the result above-mentioned. Is it that Quakerism has accomplished its work? or that it has been stifled by the assiduous painstaking to make itself very comfortable?

I went up once more to the Abbey, and to enjoy the view from the churchyard steps. The trouble of the ascent is abundantly repaid by such a prospect: one should never tire of it. On moonlight nights, and in a certain state of the atmosphere, there is another attraction. It is a sight of Saint Hilda. Incredulous as you may be, there are maidens in Whitby who will tell you that the famous Abbess is still to be seen hovering near the Abbey she loved so well. And when the moon is in the right place, and a thin, pale mist floats slowly past, then, in one of the windows, appears the image of the saintly lady. Scott and other writers mention it; and Professor Rymer Jones tells me that he once saw it, and with an illusion so complete, as might easily have deceived a superstitious beholder.

While looking down on the river you will hardly fail to remember that Cook sailed from it, to begin his apprenticeship to a seafaring life; and profiting in later years by his[Pg 94] early experience, he chose Whitby-built ships for his memorable voyage of discovery. And from the Esk sailed the two Scoresbys, father and son—two of the latest names on the list of Yorkshire Worthies.

During the summer many an excursion train, or ‘chape trip,’ as the natives say, brings thousands of the hardworking population of the West Riding, to enjoy a brief holiday by the sea. There once arrived a party of miners two of whom hastened down to the beach to bathe. As they undressed one said to the other “Hey, Sam, hoo mooky thou is!” “Aw miss’d t’ chape trip last year,” was the laconic and significant reply.

Towards evening I took a trip by railway to Grosmont (six miles), or the Tunnel Station as it is commonly called, for a glance at the pretty scenery of the lower part of Eskdale. The river bordered by rocks and wooded hills enlivens the route. From the Tunnel I walked about half a mile down the line to a stone quarry, where a section of that remarkable basaltic dike is exposed, which, crossing the country in a north-westerly direction for about seventy miles, impresses the observer with a sense of wonder at the tremendous force by which such a mass was upheaved through the overlying strata. Here it has the form of a great wedge, the apex uppermost; and the sandstone, which it so rudely shouldered aside, is scorched and partially vitrified along the line of contact. The labourers, who break up the hard black basalt for macadamising purposes, call it ‘chaney metal.’

This is a pleasant spot to loiter in; but its sylvan character is marred by the quarrying, and by the great excavations where busy miners dig the ironstone which abounds in the district, after the rate, as is estimated, of twenty-two thousand tons to the acre; no unimportant item in the exports of Whitby, until blast furnaces shall be built to make the iron on the spot.

“The path ’ll tak’ ye up to a laan,” said the quarryman, with a Dutch pronunciation of lane; “and t’ laan ’ll bring ye doon to Egton, if ye don’t tak’ t’ wrang turning.” So up through the wood I went, and came presently to the lane, where seeing a lonely little cottage, and a woman nursing a few flowers that grew near the door, I tarried for a short talk. ’Twas but a poor little place, she said, and vera lonesome; and she thought a few flowers made it look cheerful-like.[Pg 95] The rent for the house and garden was but a pound a year; but ’twas as much as she could afford, for she had had ten children, and was thankful to say, brought ’em all up without parish help. ’Twas hard work at times; but folk didn’t know what they could do till they tried. It animated me to hear such honest words.

A little farther there stands a long low cottage with a garden in front, an orchard at the side, and a row of beehives in a corner, presenting a scene of rural abundance. I stopped to look at the crowding flowers, and was drawn into another talk by the mistress, who came out on seeing a stranger. I could not help expressing my surprise at the prosperous look of the garden, and the shabby look of the house, which appeared the worse from a narrow ditch running along the front. “’Tis a miserable house,” she answered, “damp and low; but what can we do? It’s all very well, sir, to talk about the beautiful abbeys as they used to build in the old days, but they didn’t build beautiful cottages. I always think that they built the wall till they couldn’t reach no higher standing on the ground, and then they put the roof on. That’s it, sir; anything was good enough for country-folk in them days.” Some modern writers contend that the abbeys and cathedrals were but the highest expression of an architecture beautiful and appropriate in all its degrees; but I doubt the fact, and hold by the Yorkshirewoman’s homely theory.

I suggested that the landlord might be asked to build a new house. “Ah, sir, you wouldn’t say that if you knew him. Why, he won’t so much as give us a board to mend the door; he’ll only tell us where to go and buy one.” I might have felt surprised that any landlord should be willing to allow English men and women to dwell in such a hovel; but she told me his name, and then there was no room for surprise.

Ere long the view opens over the valley, and a charming valley it is; hill after hill covered with wood to the summit. Then the lane descends rapidly, and we come to the romantically situated hamlet of Egton Bridge. This is a place which, above all others, attracts visitors and picnic parties from Whitby, and the Oak Tree is the very picture of a rustic hostelry. Here you may fancy yourself in a deep wooded glen; and, if limited for time, will have an embarrassing choice of walks. Arncliffe woods offer cool green shades, and a fine prospect from the ridge beyond, with the opportunity[Pg 96] to visit an ancient British village. But few can resist the charm of the Beggar’s Bridge, a graceful structure of a single arch, which spans the Esk in a sequestered spot delightful to the eye and refreshing to the ear, with the gurgling of water and rustling of leaves. There is a legend, too, for additional charm: how that a young dalesman, on his way to say farewell to his betrothed, was stopped here by the stream swollen with a sudden flood, and, spite of his efforts to cross, was forced to retrace his steps and sail beyond the sea to seek fortune in a distant land. He vowed, if his hopes were gratified, to build a bridge on his return; and, to quote Mrs. George Dawson’s pretty version of the legend,

“The rover came back from a far distant land,
And he claimed of the maiden her long-promised hand;
But he built, ere he won her, the bridge of his vow,
And the lovers of Egton pass over it now.”

A pleasant twilight walk among the trees, within hearing of the rippling Esk, brought me back to the Tunnel in time for the last train to Whitby.

[Pg 97]


CHAPTER XIII.

To Upgang—Enter Cleveland—East Row—The first Alum-Maker—Sandsend—Alum-Works—The huge Gap—Hewing the Alum Shale—Limestone Nodules: Mulgrave Cement—Swarms of Fossils—Burning the Shale—Volcanic Phenomena—From Fire to Water—The Cisterns—Soaking and Pumping—The evaporating Pans—The Crystallizing Process—The Roching Casks—Brilliant Crystals—A Chemical Triumph—Rough Epsoms.

It was yet early the next morning when I descended from the high road to the shore at Upgang, about two miles from Whitby. Here we approach a region of manufacturing industry. Wagons pass laden with Mulgrave cement, with big, white lumps of alum, with sulphate of magnesia; the kilns are not far off, and the alum-works at Sandsend are in sight, backed by the wooded heights of Mulgrave Park, the seat of the Marquis of Normanby. Another half-hour, and crossing a beck which descends from those heights, we enter Cleveland, of which the North Riding is made to say,

“——If she were not here confined thus in me,
A shire even of herself might well be said to be.”

Hereabouts, in the olden time, stood a temple dedicated to Thor, and the place was called Thordisa—a name for which the present East Row is a poor exchange. The alteration, so it is said, was made by the workmen on the commencement of the alum manufacture in 1620. The works, now grimy with smoke, are built between the hill-foot and the sea, a short distance beyond the beck.

The story runs that the manufacture of alum was introduced into Yorkshire early in the seventeenth century by Sir Thomas Chaloner, who had travelled in Italy, and there seen the rock-beds from which the Italians extracted alum. Riding one day in the neighbourhood of Guisborough, he noticed that the foliage of the trees resembled in colour that of the leaves in the alum districts abroad; and afterwards he commenced an[Pg 98] alum-work in the hills near that town, sanctioned by a patent from Charles I. One account says that he smuggled over from the Papal States, concealed in casks, workmen who were acquainted with the manufacture, and was excommunicated by the Pope for this daring breach of his own monopoly. The Sandsend works were established a few years later. Subsequently certain courtiers prevailed on the king to break faith with Sir Thomas, and to give one-half of the patent to a rival, which so exasperated the knight that he became a Roundhead, and one of the most relentless foes of the king. A great monopoly of the alum-works was attempted towards the end of the last century by Sir George Colebroke, who, being an East India director, got the name of Shah Allum. His attempt failed.

My request for permission to view the works was freely granted, and I here repeat my acknowledgments for the favour. The foreman, I was told, took but little pains with visitors who came, and said, “Dear me! How very curious!” and yawned, and wanted to go away at the end of ten minutes; but for any one in earnest to see the operations from beginning to end, he would spare no trouble. Just the very man for me I thought; so leaving my knapsack at the office, I followed the boy who was sent to show me the way to the mine. Up the hill, and across fields for about half a mile, brought us to the edge of a huge gap, which at first sight might have been taken for a stone quarry partially changed into the crater of a volcano. At one side clouds of white sulphureous smoke were rising; within lay great heaps resembling brick rubbish; and heaps of shale, and piles of stony balls, and stacks of brushwood; and while one set of men were busily hacking and hewing the great inner walls, others were loading and hauling off the tramway wagons, others pumping, or going to and fro with wheelbarrows.

There was no proper descent from the side to which we came, and to scramble down three or four great steps, each of twenty feet, with perpendicular fronts, was not easy. However, at last I was able to present to the foreman the scrap of paper which I had brought from the office, and to feel sure that such an honest countenance and bright eye as his betokened a willing temper. Nor was I disappointed, for he at once expressed himself ready to show and explain everything that I might wish to see.[Pg 99]

“Let us begin at the beginning,” I said; and he led me to the cliff, where the diggers were at work. The formation reminded me of what I had seen in the quarries at Portland: first a layer of earth, then a hard, worthless kind of stone, named the ‘cap’ by the miners; next a deposit of marlstone and ‘doggerhead,’ making altogether a thickness of about fifty feet; and below this comes the great bed of upper lias, one hundred and fifty feet thick; and this lias is the alum shale. Where freshly exposed, its appearance may be likened to slate soaked in grease: it has a greasy or soapy feel between the fingers, but as it oxidises rapidly on exposure to the air, the general colour of the cliff is brown. Here the shale is not worked below seventy-five feet; for every fathom below that becomes more and more bituminous, and more liable to vitrify when burnt, and will not yield alum. At some works, however, the excavation is continued down to ninety feet. Embedded in the shale, most abundant in the upper twenty-five feet, the workmen find nodules of limestone, the piles of balls I had noticed from above, about the size of a cricket-ball; and of these the well-known Mulgrave cement is made. The Marquis, to whom all the land hereabouts belongs, requires that his lessees shall sell to him all the limestone nodules they find. The supply is not small, judging from the great heap which I saw thrown aside in readiness for carting away. Alum shale prevails in the cliffs for twenty-seven miles along the coast of Yorkshire, in which are found one hundred and fifty kinds of ammonites.

Besides balls of limestone, the shale abounds in fossils. It was in this—the lias—that nearly all the specimens, including the gigantic reptiles of the ancient world which we saw in the Museum at Whitby were found. Every stroke of the pick brings them out; and as the shale is soft and easily worked, they are separated without difficulty. You might collect a cartload in half a day. For a few minutes I felt somewhat like a schoolboy in an orchard, and filled my pockets eagerly with the best that came in my way. But ammonites and mussels, when turned to stone, are very heavy, and before the day was over I had to lighten my load: some I placed where passers-by could see them; then I gave some away at houses by the road, till not more than six remained for a corner of my knapsack. And these were quite enough, considering that I had yet to walk nearly three hundred miles.[Pg 100]

After the digging comes the burning. A layer of brushwood is made ready on the ground, and upon this the shale is heaped to the height of forty or fifty feet until a respectable little mountain is formed, comprising three thousand tons, or more. The rear of the mass rests against the precipice, and from narrow ledges and projections in this the men tilt their barrow-loads as the elevation increases. The fire, meanwhile, creeps about below, and soon the heap begins to smoke, sending out white sulphureous fumes in clouds that give it the appearance of a volcano.

Such a heap was smouldering and smoking at the mouth of the great excavation, the sulphate of iron, giving off its acid to the clay, converting it thereby into sulphate of alumina. All round the base, and for a few feet upwards, the fire had done its work, and the mass was cooling; but above the creeping glow was still active. The colour is changed by the burning from brown to light reddish yellow, with a streak of darker red running along all the edges of the fragments; and the progress of combustion might be noted by the differences of colour: in some places pale; then a mottled zone, blending upwards with the sweating patches under the smoke. Commonly the heap burns for three months; hence a good manager takes care so to time his fires that a supply of mine—as the calcined shale is technically named—is always in readiness. Fifty tons of this burnt shale are required to make one ton of alum.

We turned to the heap which I have mentioned as resembling a mound of brick rubbish at a distance. One-third of it had been wheeled away to the cisterns, exposing the interior, and I could see how the fire had touched every part, and left its traces in the change of colour and the narrow red border round each calcined chip. The pieces lie loosely together, so that on digging away below, the upper part falls of itself. The man who was filling the barrows had hacked out a cavernous hollow; it seemed that a slip might be momentarily expected, for the top overhung threateningly, and yet he continued to hack and dig with apparent unconcern, and replied to the foreman’s caution, “Oh! it won’t come down afore to-morrow. It’ll give warning.”

Now for the watery ordeal. On the sloping ground between the cliffs and the sea, shallow pits or cisterns are sunk, nearly fifty feet long and twenty wide, and so placed, with a bottom[Pg 101] sloping from a depth of one foot at one end to two feet at the other, as to communicate easily with one another by pipes and gutters. Whether alum-works shall pay or not, is said to depend in no small degree on the proper arrangement of the pits. Each pit will contain forty wagon-loads of the mine. As soon as it is full, liquor is pumped into it from a deep cistern covered by a shed, and this at the end of three days is drawn off by the tap at the lower end, and when drained the pit is again pumped full and soaked for two days. Yet once more is it pumped full, but with water—producing first, second, and third run, and sometimes a fourth—but the last is the weakest, and is kept to be pumped up as liquor on a fresh pit for first run. It would be poor economy to evaporate so weak a solution. Each pit employs five men.

All this is carried on in the open air, with the sea lashing the shore but a few yards off, and all around the signs of what to a stranger appears but a rough and ready system. And in truth there must be something wasteful in it, for all the alum is never abstracted. After the third or fourth washing, the mine is shovelled from the pits and flung away on the beach, where the sea soon levels it to a uniform slope. In one of the so-called exhausted pits I saw many pieces touched, as it were, by hoar frost, which was nothing but minute crystals of alum formed on the surface, strongly acid to the taste.

The rest of the process was to be seen down at the works, so thither we went; not by the way I came, for the foreman, scrambling up the side of the gap, conducted me along the ledge at the top of the burning heap. He walked through the stifling fumes without annoyance, while on me they produced a painful sense of choking, with an impulse to run. Before we had passed, however, he pushed aside a few of the upper pieces, and showed me the dull glow of the fire beneath. Then we had more ledges along the face of the cliff, and now and then to creep and jump; and we crossed an old digging, which looked ugly with its heaps of waste and half-starved patches of grass. All the way extends a course of long wooden gutters, in which the first-run liquor was flowing in a continuous stream to undergo its final treatment—another trial by fire.

Then into a low, darksome shed, where from one end to the other you see nothing but leaden evaporating pans and cisterns, some steaming, and all containing liquor in different[Pg 102] states of preparation. That from which the most water has been evaporated—the concentrated solution—has a large cistern to itself, where its tendency to crystallize is assisted by an admixture of liquor containing ammonia in solution, and immediately the alum falls to the bottom in countless crystals. The liquor above them, now become ‘mother liquor,’ or more familiarly ‘mothers,’ is drawn off, the crystals are washed clean in water, are again dissolved, and once more boiled, mixed with gallons of mothers remaining from former boilings. When of the required density, the liquor is run off from the pan to the ‘roching casks’—great butts rather, big as a sugar hogshead, and taller; and in these is left to cool and crystallize after its manner, from eight to ten days, according to the season. The butts are constructed so as to take to pieces easily, and at the right time the hoops are knocked off, the staves removed, and there on the floor stands a great white cask of alum, solid all over, top, bottom, and sides, except in its centre a quantity of liquor which has not crystallized. This having been drawn off by a hole driven through, the mass is then broken to pieces, and is fit for the market; and for the use of dyers, leather-dressers, druggists, tallow-chandlers; for bakers even, and other crafty traders.

Looked at from the outside, there is no beauty in the cask of alum; but as soon as the interior is exposed, then the numberless crystals shooting from every part, glisten again as the light streams in upon them; and you acknowledge that the cunning by which they have been produced from the dull slaty shale is a happy triumph of chemical art—one that will stand a comparison with a recent triumph, the extraction of brilliantly white candles from the great brown peat-bogs of Ireland, or from Rangoon tar. Perhaps some readers will remember the beautiful specimen of alum crystals—an entire half-tun that stood in the nave of the Great Exhibition.

Alum is made near Glasgow from the shale of abandoned coal mines, soaked in water without burning. After the works had been carried on for some years, and the heap of refuse had spread over the neighbourhood to an inconvenient extent, it was found that on burning this waste shale, it would yield a second profitable supply of alum. Moreover, artificial alum is manufactured in considerable quantities from a mixture of clay and sulphuric acid.

In going about the works it was impossible not to be struck[Pg 103] by the contrast between the sooty aspect of the roofs, beams, and gangways, and the whiteness of the crystal fringes in the pans, and the snowy patches here and there where the vapour had condensed. And in an outhouse wagon-loads of ‘rough Epsoms’ lay in a great white heap on the black floor. This rough Epsoms, or sulphate of magnesia, is the crystals thrown down by the mother-liquor after a second boiling.

In our goings to and fro, we talked of other things as well as alum; of that other mineral wealth, the ironstone, to which Cleveland owes so important a development of industry within the past fifteen years. The existence of ironstone in the district had long been known; but not till the foreman—jointly with his father—discovered a deposit near Skinningrave, and drew attention to it, was any attempt made to work it. Geologically the deposit is known as clayband ironstone; hence clay will still make known the fame of this corner of Yorkshire, as when the old couplet was current—

“Cleveland in the clay,
Carry in two shoon, bring one away.”

If I liked the foreman at first sight, much more did I like him upon acquaintance. He won my esteem as much by his frank and manly bearing, as by his patient attentions and intelligent explanations; and I shook his hand at parting with a sincere hope of having another talk with him some day.

[Pg 104]


CHAPTER XIV.

Mulgrave Park—Giant Wade—Ubba’s Landing-place—The Boggle-boggarts—The Fairy’s Chase—Superstitions—The Knight of the Evil Lake—Lythe—St. Oswald’s Church—Goldsborough—Kettleness—Rugged Cliffs and Beach—Runswick Bay—Hob-Hole—Cure for Whooping-cough—Jet Diggers—Runswick—Hinderwell—Horticultural Ravine—Staithes—A curious Fishing-town—The Black Minstrels—A close-neaved Crowd—The Cod and Lobster—Houses washed away—Queer back Premises—The Termagants’ Duel—Fisherman’s Talk—Cobles and Yawls—Dutch and French Poachers—Tap-room Talk—Reminiscences of Captain Cook.

I shouldered my knapsack, and paced once more up the hill: a long and toilsome hill it is; but you can beguile the way nevertheless. Behind the hedge on the left stretches Mulgrave Park, hill and dale, and running brooks, and woods wherein the walks and drives extend for twenty miles. I had procured a ticket of admission at Whitby; but having spent so much time over the alum, had none to spare for the park, with its Gothic mansion, groves and gardens, and fragment of an old castle on an eminence surrounded by woods; and the Hermitage, the favourite resort of picnic parties. According to hoary legend, the original founder of the castle was giant Wade, or Wada, a personage still talked of by the country-folk, who give his name to the Roman Causeway which runs from Dunsley to Malton, and point out certain large stones at two villages a few miles apart as Wade’s Graves. It was in Dunsley Bay, down there on the right, that Ubba landed with his sea-rovers in 867, and the hill on which he planted his standard is still called Ravenhill.

And here were the haunts of the boggle-boggarts—a Yorkshire fairy tribe. At Kettleness, whither we shall come by and by, they used to wash their linen in a certain spring, named Claymore Well, and the noise of their ‘bittle’ was heard more than two miles off. Jeanie, one of these fairies, made her abode in the Mulgrave woods, and[Pg 105] one day a young farmer, curious to see a bogle, mounted his horse, rode up to her bower, and called her by name. She obeyed the call, but in a towering rage at the intrusion, and the adventurer, in terror, turned and fled, with the nimble sprite close at his heels. At length, just as he was leaping a brook, she aimed a stroke with her wand and cut his horse in two; but the fugitive kept his seat, and fell with the foremost half on the farther bank, and the weird creature, stopped by the running water, witnessed his escape with an evil eye.

We may remember, too, that Cleveland, remote from great thoroughfares, was a nursery of superstitions long after the owlish notions died out from other places. Had your grandmother been born here she would have been able to tell you that to wear a ring cut from old, long-buried coffin-lead, would cure the cramp; that the water from the leaden roof of a church, sprinkled on the skin, was a specific for sundry diseases—most efficacious if taken from over the chancel. Biscuits baked on Good Friday would keep good all the year, and a person ill with flux had only to swallow one grated in milk, or brandy-and-water, and recovery was certain. Clothes hung out to dry on Good Friday would, when taken down, be found spotted with blood. To fling the shirt or shift of a sick person into a spring, was a sure way to foreknow the issue of the malady: if it floated—life; if it sank—death. And when the patient was convalescent, a small piece was torn from the garment and hung on the bushes near the spring; and springs thus venerated were called Rag-wells.

The lands of Mulgrave were given by King John to Peter de Malolacu as a reward for crime—helping in the cruel murder of Prince Arthur. By this Knight of the Evil-lake—evil heart, rather—the castle was rebuilt; and, pleased with the beauty of the sight, he named it Moult Grace; but because that he was hard-hearted and an oppressor, the people changed the c into v; whence, says tradition, the origin of the present name.

On the crown of the hill we come to Lythe, which—to borrow a term from Lord Carlisle—is a “well-conditioned” village, adorned with honeysuckle and little flower-gardens. The elevation, five hundred feet, affords an agreeable view of Whitby Abbey, and part of the intervening coast and[Pg 106] country. The church is dedicated to St. Oswald, the royal Northumbrian martyr; and inside you may see a monument to Constantine John, Baron Mulgrave, who as Captain Phipps sailed to Spitzbergen in 1773, on one of those arctic explorations to which, from first to last, England owes no small share of her naval renown.

Here I struck into a lane for Goldsborough, the village which claims one of Wade’s graves; and along byeways down to the shore at Kettleness—a grand cliff nearly four hundred feet high, so named from hollows or ‘kettles’ in the ground near it.

Here, descending the steep road to the beach, you pass more alum-works, backed by the precipitous crags. Everywhere you see signs of fallen rocks and landslips. In a slip which happened in 1830, the labourers’ cottages were carried down and buried; but with sufficient warning to enable the inmates to escape. Once the cliff took fire and burned for two years. From this point the way along the shore is wilder and rougher—more bestrewn with slabs and boulders than any we have yet seen. Up and down, in and out; now close under the cliff; now taking to the weedy rocks to avoid an overhanging mass that seems about to fall. Here and there jet-diggers and quarrymen are busy high above your head, and make the passage more difficult by their heaps of rubbish. Among the boulders you will notice some perfectly globular in form, as if finished in a lathe. One that I stooped to examine was a singular specimen of Nature’s handiwork. It proved to be a hemisphere only, smooth and highly polished, so exact a round on one side, so true a flat on the other, that no artificer could have produced better. In appearance it resembled quartz. I longed to bring it away; but it was about the bigness of half an ordinary Dutch cheese, and weighed some five or six pounds. All I could do was to leave it in a safe spot for some after-coming geologist.

Having passed the bluff, we see to the bottom of Runswick Bay, and the village of Runswick clustered on the farther heights. A harbour of refuge is much wanted on this shelterless coast, and some engineers show this to be the best place for it; others contend for Redcar, at the mouth of the Tees. Here, again, the cliff diminishes in elevation, and the ground slopes upwards to higher land in the[Pg 107] rear. About the middle of the bay is Hob-Hole, a well-known cave, once more than a hundred feet deep, but now shortened by two-thirds, and in imminent danger of complete destruction by jet-diggers. Cattle used to come down from the pastures and betake themselves to its cool recesses in hot summer days, and if caught by the tide instinctively sought the inner end, which, as the floor rose by a gentle acclivity, was above the reach of the water. I could scarcely help fancying that the half-dozen cows standing up to their knees in a salt-water pool were ruminating sadly over their lost resort.

What would the grandmothers say if they could return and see the spoiling of Hob’s dwelling-place: Hob, whose aid they used to invoke for the cure of whooping-cough? Standing at the entrance of the cave with the sick child in their arms, they addressed him thus:

“Hob-hole Hob!
My bairn’s gotten t’kin cough:
Tak ’t off—tak ’t off!”

If Hob refused to be propitiated, they tried another way, and catching a live hairy worm, hung it in a bag from the child’s neck, and as the worm died and wasted away so did the cough. If this failed, a roasted mouse, or a piece of bread-and-butter administered by the hands of a virgin, was infallible; and if the cough remained still obstinate, the child, as a last resort, was passed nine times under the belly of a donkey. To avoid risk of exposure, it was customary to lead the animal to the front of the kitchen fire.

I found a party of jet-diggers at work in the low cliff near the cave, and stayed to watch their proceedings. Eleven weeks had they been labouring, and found nothing. It was astonishing to see what prodigious gaps they had made in that time, and the heap of refuse, which appeared twice as big as all the gaps put together. I thought the barrow-man gave himself too little trouble to wheel the waste out of the way; but he, who knew best, answered, “Bowkers! why should I sweat for nothin’? The sea’ll tak ’t all away the fust gale.”

Judging from what they told me, jet-digging is little, if any, less precarious than gold-digging. Their actual experience was not uncommon; and at other times they[Pg 108] would get as much jet in a week as paid them for six months’ labour. Then, again, after removing tons of superincumbent rock, the bed of jet would be of the hard stony-kind, worth not more than half-a-crown a pound; or a party would toil fruitlessly for weeks, losing heart and hope, and find themselves outwitted at last by another crafty digger, who, scanning the cliff a few yards off with a keen eye, would discover signs, and setting to work, lay bare a stratum of jet in a few days. The best kind is thoroughly bitumenized, of a perfect uniform black, and resembles nothing so much as a tree stem flattened by intense pressure, while subjected to great heat without charring.

If Bay Town be remarkable, much more so is Runswick, for the houses may be said to hang on the abrupt hill-side, as martens’ nests on a wall, among patches of ragwort, brambles, gorse, elders, and bits of brown rock, overtopped by the summit of the cliff. Boats are hauled up on the grass, near the rivulet that frolics down the steep; balks of pine and ends of old ship timbers lie about; clothes hung out to dry flutter in the breeze; and the little whitewashed gables, crowned by thatch or red tiles, gleam in the sunshine. There is no street, nothing but footpaths, and you continually find yourself in one of the little gardens, or at the door of a cottage, while seeking the way through to the heights above. Two public-houses offer very modest entertainment, and The Ship better beer than that at Kilnsea. About the end of the seventeenth century the alum shale, on which the village is built, made a sudden slip, and with it all the houses but one. Since then it has remained stationary; but with a rock so liable to decomposition as alum shale, a site that shall never be moved cannot be hoped for.

The view from the brow in the reverse direction, after you have climbed the rough slope of thorns and brambles above the village, is striking. Kettleness rears its head proudly over the waters; and looking inland from one swelling eminence to another, till stopped by a long bare hill, which in outline resembles the Hog’s-back, your eye completes the circle and rests at last on the picturesque features of the bay beneath. There is no finer cliff scenery on the Yorkshire coast than from Kettleness to Huntcliff Nab.

Then turning my face northwards, I explored the shortest way to Staithes, now on the edge of the cliff, now cutting[Pg 109] across the fields, and leaving on the left the village of Hinderwell—once, as is said, St. Hilda’s well, from a spring in the churchyard which bore the pious lady’s name. About four miles of rough walking brought me to a bend in the road above a deep ravine, which, patched or fringed with wood towards its upper end, submits its steep flanks to cultivation on approaching the sea. Garden plots, fenced and hedged, there chequer the ground; and even from the hither side you can see how well kept they are, and how productive. Facing the south, and sheltered from the bitter north-easters, they yield crops of fruit and vegetables that would excite admiration anywhere, and win praise for their cultivators. In some of the plots you see men at work with upturned shirt-sleeves, and you can fancy they do their work lovingly in the golden evening light. The ravine makes sharp curves, each wider than the last, and the brook spreads out, with a few feet of level margin in places at which boats are made fast, and you wonder how they got there. Then the slope, with its gardens, elders, and flowers, merges into a craggy cliff, near which an old limekiln comes in with remarkably picturesque effect.

A few yards farther and the road, descending rapidly, brings you in sight of the sea, seemingly shut in between two high bluffs, and at your feet, unseen till close upon it, lies the little fishing-town of Staithes. And a strange town it is! The main street, narrow and painfully ill-paved, bending down to the shore of a small bay; houses showing their backs to the water on one side, on the other hanging thickly on a declivity so steep that many of the roofs touch the ground in the rear: frowsy old houses for the most part, with pantile roofs, or mouldy thatch, from which here and there peep queer little windows. Some of the thatched houses appear as if sunk into the ground, so low are they, and squalid withal. Contrasted with these, the few modern houses appear better than they are; and the draper, with his showy shop, exhibits a model which others, whose gables are beginning to stand at ease, perhaps will be ambitious to follow. Men wearing thick blue Guernsey frocks and sou’-westers come slouching along, burdened with nets or lobster-pots, or other fishing gear; women and girls, short-skirted and some barefooted, go to and from the beck with ‘skeels’ of water on their head, one or two carrying a large washing-tub full, yet talking as they go as if the weight were nothing; and now and then a few sturdy[Pg 110] fellows stride past, yellow from head to foot with a thick ochre-like dust. They come from the ironstone diggings beyond Penny Nab—the southern bluff. Imagine, besides, that the whole place smells of fish, and you will have a first impression of Staithes.

The inns, I thought, looked unpromising; but the Royal George is better than it looks, and if guests are not comfortable the blame can hardly lie with Mrs. Walton, the hostess—a portly, good-humoured dame, who has seen the world, that is, as far as London, and laughs in a way that compels all within hearing to laugh for company. Though the tap-room and parlour be sunk some three feet below the roadway, making you notice, whether or not, the stout ankles of the water-bearers, you will find it very possible to take your ease in your inn.

I was just sauntering out after tea when a couple of negro minstrels, with banjo and tambourine, came down the street, and struck up one of their liveliest songs. Instantly, and as if by magic, the narrow thoroughfare was thronged by a screeching swarm of children, who came running down all the steep alleys, and from nooks and doorways in the queerest places, followed by their fathers and mothers. I stepped up the slope and took a survey of the crowd as they stood grinning with delight at the black melodists. Good-looking faces are rare among the women; but their stature is remarkably erect—the effect probably of carrying burdens on the head. How they chattered!

“Eh! that caps me!” cried one.

“That’s brave music!” said another.

And a third, when Tambourine began his contortions, shrieked, “Eh! looky! looky! he’s nobbut a porriwiggle;” which translated out of Yorkshire into English, means, “nought but a tadpole.” And to see how the weather-beaten old fishermen chuckled and roared with laughter, showing such big white teeth all the while, was not the least amusing part of the exhibition. Such lusty enjoyment I thought betokened an open hand; but when the hat went round the greater number proved themselves as ‘close-neaved,’ to use one of their own words, as misers.

Near the end of the street, and under the shadow of Penny Nab, there is an opening whence you may survey the little bay, or rather cove, which forms the port of Staithes, well[Pg 111] protected by the bluff above-named, and Colburn Nab on the north. Here the Cod and Lobster public-house, with a small quay in front, faces the sea, as if indifferent to consequences, notwithstanding that the inmates are compelled from time to time to decamp suddenly from threatened drowning. Even as I stood there I was fain to button my overcoat against the spray which swept across and sprinkled the windows, for there was a heavy ‘lipper’ on, and huge breakers came tumbling in with thunderous roar. You see piles driven here and there, and heaps of big stones laid for protection; and not without need, you will think, while looking at the backs of the houses huddling close around the margin of the tide. In the month of February, twenty-seven years ago, thirteen houses were swept away at once, and among them the one in which Cook was first apprenticed. Judging from what Staithes is now, it must have been a remarkably primitive and hard-featured place in his day.

Then, crossing over, I threaded the narrow alleys and paths to look at the backs of the houses from the hill-side. You never saw such queer ins and outs, and holes and corners as there are here. Pigstyes, little back yards, sheds, here and there patches of the hill rough with coarse grass and weeds, and everywhere boat-hooks and oars leaning against the walls, and heaps of floats, tarred bladders, lobster-pots and baskets, and nets stretched to dry on the open ground above. If you wished to get from one alley to another without descending the hill, it would not be difficult to take a short cut across the pantiles. Indeed, that seems in some places the only way to extrication from the labyrinth.

I was on my way to look at the cove from the side of Colburn Nab, when a woman, rushing from a house, renewed a screeching quarrel with her opposite neighbour, which had been interrupted by the negro interlude. The other rushed out to meet her, and there followed a clamour of tongues such as I never before heard—each termagant resolute to outscold the other. They stamped, shook their fists and beat the air furiously, made mouths at one another, yelled bitter taunts, and at last came to blows. The struggle was but short, and then the weaker, not having been able to conquer by strength of arm, screamed hoarsely, “Never mind, Bet—never mind, you faggot! I can show a cleaner shimmy than you can.” And, turning up her skirt, she[Pg 112] showed half a yard of linen, the cleanness of which ought to have made her ashamed of her tongue. A loud laugh followed this sally, and the men, having maintained their principle that “it’s always best to let t’ women foight it out,” straggled away to their lounging-places.

The beck falls from the ravine into the cove at the foot of the Nab, having a level wedge of land between it and the cliff. This was more than half covered by fishing-boats and the carts of dealers, who buy the fish here and sell it in the interior, or convey it to the Tunnel Station for despatch by railway. Two smoke houses for the drying of herrings are built against the cliff, and in one of these a man was preparing for the annual task, and shovelling his coarse-grained salt into tubs. “The coarser the better,” he said, “because it keeps the fish from layin’ too close together.” A fisherman, who seemed well pleased to have some one to talk to, assured me that I was a month too soon: the middle of August was the time to see the place as busy as sand-martens. And with an overpowering smell of fish, he might have added. Six score boats of one kind or another sailed from the cove, and they took a good few of fish. Some boats could carry twenty last, and at times a last of herrings would fetch ten or eleven pounds. In October, ’56, the boats were running down to Scarbro’, when they came all at once into a shoal, and was seven hours a sailin’ through ’em. One boat got twelve lasts in no time, came in on Sunday, cleared ’em out, sailed again, and got back with twelve more lasts on Wednesday. That was good addlings (i. e. earnings). He knowed the crew of one boat who got sixty pound a man that season.

Some liked cobles, and some liked yawls. A coble wanted six men and two boys to work her: a yawl would carry fifty tons, and some were always out a fishin’. Now and then they went out to the Silver Pit, an oyster-bed about twenty-five miles from the coast. He thought the French and Dutch were poachers in the herring season, especially the French. They’d run their nets right across the English nets, and pretend they didn’t know or didn’t understand; and though the screw steamer from Dunkirk kept cruising about to warn ’em not to come over the line, the English fishermen thought ’twas only to spy out where the most fish was, and then let the foreign boats know by signal. Yorkshire can’t[Pg 113] a-bear such botherments, and retaliates between whiles by sinking the buoy barrels.

This is an old grievance. In former times, no Dutchmen were permitted to fish without a license from Scarborough Castle, yet they evaded the regulation continually; “for,” to quote the old chronicler, “the English always granted leave for fishing, reserving the honour to themselves, but out of a lazy temper resigning the gain to others.”

He remembered the gale that swallowed the thirteen houses. ’Twas a northerly gale, and that was the only quarter that Staithes had to trouble about. Whenever the wind blew hard from the north, the Cod and Lobster had to get ready to run. But the easterly gales, which made everything outside run for shelter, never touched the place, and you might row round the port in a skiff when collier ships were carrying away their topmasts in the offing, or drifting helplessly ashore. He saw the thirteen houses washed away, and at the same time a coble carried right over the bridge and left high and dry on the other side.

The mouth of the beck would make a good harbour for cobles were it not for the bar, a great heap of gravel ‘fore-anenst’ us, which, by the combined action of the stream and tide, was kept circling from side to side, and stopping the entrance. It would be all right if somebody would build a jetty.

Of the two hundred and fifty species of fish known to inhabit the rivers and shores of Britain, one hundred and forty have been found in and around Yorkshire.

Returned to my quarters, I preferred a seat in the tap-room to the solitude of the parlour. The hour to “steck up” shops had struck, and a few of the “bettermy” traders had come in for their evening pipe and glass of ale. The landlord, who is a jet-digger, confirmed all that the three men had told me at Runswick: jet-digging was quite a lottery, and not unattended with danger. In some instances a man would let himself half way down the cliff by a rope to begin his work. And the doctor—a talkative gentleman—corroborated the old fisherman’s statements. In an easterly gale the little port was “as smooth as grease,” and, if it were only larger, would be the best harbour on the eastern coast. He, too, remembered the washing away of the thirteen houses, and the consternation thereby created.[Pg 114] Would the sea be satisfied with that one mouthful? was a terrible question in the minds of all.

I had heard that among the few things saved from the house in which Cook was apprenticed, was the till from which he stole the shilling; but although I met with persons who thought the relic was still preserved somewhere in the town, not one could say that he had ever seen it. As regards the story of the theft, the popular version is that Cook, after taking the coin, ran away from Staithes. But, according to another version, there was no stealing in the case. Tempted by the sight of a bright new South-Sea Company’s shilling in the till, he took it out, and substituted for it one from his own pocket; and his master, who combined the trades of haberdasher and grocer, was satisfied with the boy’s explanation when the piece was missed. Cook, however, fascinated by the sight of the sea and of ships, took a dislike to the counter, and, before he was fourteen, obtained his discharge, and was learning the rudiments of navigation on board the Freelove, a collier ship, owned by two worthy Quakers of Whitby.

[Pg 115]


CHAPTER XV.

Last Day by the Sea—Boulby—Magnificent Cliffs—Lofthouse and Zachary Moore—The Snake-killer—The Wyvern—Eh! Packman—Skinningrave—Smugglers and Privateers—The Bruce’s Privileges—What the old Chronicler says—Story about a Sea-Man—The Groaning Creek—Huntcliff Nab—Rosebury Topping—Saltburn—Cormorant Shooters—Cunning Seals—Miles of Sands—Marske—A memorable Grave—Redcar—The Estuary of Tees—Asylum Harbour—Recreations for Visitors—William Hutton’s Description—Farewell to the Sea.

It is the morning of our last day by the sea; and a glorious morning it is, with a bright sun, a blue sky, and a cool, brisk breeze, that freshens still as the hours glide on to noon. It is one of those days when merely to breathe, to feel that you are alive, is enjoyment enough; when movement and change of scene exert a charm that grows into exhilaration, and weariness, the envious thief, lags behind, and tries in vain to overtake the willing foot and cheerful heart. In such circumstances it seems to me that from all around the horizon the glowing sunlight streams into one’s very being laden with the delight-fullest influences of all the landscapes.

Though the hill be steep and high by which we leave Staithes, there are gaily painted boats lying on the grass at the top. You might almost believe them to be placed there as indications that the town, now hidden from sight, really exists below. Northwards, the cliffs have a promising look, for they rise to a higher elevation (six hundred and sixty feet) than any we have yet trodden on this side of Flamborough. Again we pass wagon-loads of alum and sulphate, and come to the Boulby alum-works, beyond which a wild heathery tract stretches sharply upwards from the edge of the cliff, and shuts out the inland prospect. Up here the breeze is half a gale, and the sea view is magnificent. More than a hundred vessels of different sizes are in sight, the greater number bowling along to the southward, with every stitch of canvas spread,[Pg 116] and so near the shore that you can see plainly the man at the wheel, and the movements of the crew on deck.

By the roadside runs a stream of alum liquor along the wooden trough, and on rounding the bluff, we discover more alum-works on a broad undercliff, with troughs, diggings, and refuse heaps, extending farther than you can see. You may continue along the broken ground below, or mount to the summit by a rude stair chopped in the face of the cliff. The higher the better, I thought, and scrambled up. It is a strange scene that you look down upon: a few lonely cottages, patches of garden, and a chaos of heaps, some grass-grown, with numerous paths winding among them. And now the view opens towards the west, great slopes of fields heaving up as waves one beyond the other, till they blend with the pale blue hill-range in the distance; and glimpses of Hartlepool and Tynemouth can be seen in the north.

The Earl of Zetland is the great proprietor hereabouts: the alum-works are his, and to him belongs the estate at Lofthouse—a village about two miles inland—once owned by the famous Zachary Moore, whose lavish hospitality, and eminent qualities of mind and heart, made him the theme for tongue and pen when Pitt was minister:

“What sober heads hast thou made ache!
How many hast thou kept from nodding!
How many wise ones for thy sake
Have flown to thee and left off plodding!”

and who, having spent a great fortune, discovered the reverse side of his friends’ characters, accepted an ensign’s commission, and died at Gibraltar in the prime of his manhood.

And it was near Lofthouse that Sir John Conyers won his name of Snake-killer. A sword and coffin, dug up on the site of an old Benedictine priory, were supposed to have once belonged to the brave knight who “slew that monstrous and poysonous vermine or wyverne, an aske or werme which overthrew and devoured many people in fight; for that the scent of that poison was so strong that no person might abyde it.” A gray stone, standing in a field, still marks the haunt of the worm and place of battle.

Tradition tells, moreover, of a valiant youth, who killed a serpent and rescued an earl’s daughter from the reptile’s cave, and married her; in token whereof Scaw Wood still bears his name.[Pg 117]

As I went on, past Street Houses, diverging hither and thither, a woman cried, from a small farm-house, “Eh! packman, d’ye carry beuks?” She wanted a new spelder-beuk[A] for one of her children. We had a brief talk together. She had never been out of Yorkshire, except once across the Tees to Stockton, twenty-two miles distant. That was her longest journey, and the largest town she had ever seen. ’Twas a gay sight; but she thought the ladies in the streets wore too many danglements. She couldn’t a-bear such things as them, for she was one of the audfarrand[B] sort, and liked lasty[C] clothes.

[A] Spelling Book.

[B] Old-fashioned.

[C] Lasting.

While talking, she continued her preparations for dinner, and set one of her children to polish the “reckon-crooks.” The “reckon” is the crane in the kitchen fireplace, to which pots and kettles are suspended by the “crooks.” In old times, when a pot was lifted off, the maid was careful to stop the swinging of the crook, because, whenever the reckon-crooks swung the blessed Virgin used to weep.

Skinningrave—a few houses at the mouth of a narrow valley, a brook running briskly to the sea, a coast-guard station on the green shoulder of the southern cliff—makes up a pleasing scene as you descend to the beach. The village gossips can still talk on occasion about the golden age of smugglers, and a certain parish-clerk of the neighbourhood, who used to make the church steeple a hiding-place for his contraband goods. Smuggling hardly pays now on this coast. They can repeat, too, what they heard in their childhood concerning Paul Jones; how that, as at Whitby, the folk kept their money and valuables packed up, ready to start for the interior, watching day and night in great alarm, until at length the privateers did land, and fell to plundering from house to house. But when the fugitives returned they found nothing disturbed except the pantries and larders.

This was one of the places where the Bruce, proudest of the lords of Cleveland, had “free fisheries, plantage, floatage, lagan, jetsom, derelict, and other maritime franchises.” And an industrious explorer, who drew up a report on the district for Sir Thomas Chaloner, in that quaint old style which smacks of true British liberty, gives us a glimpse of Skinningrave morals in his day. The people, he says, with all their fish, were not rich; “for the moste parte, what they have they[Pg 118] drinke; and howsoever they reckon with God, yt is a familiar maner to them to make even with the worlde at night, that pennilesse and carelesse they maye go lightly to their labour on the morrow morninge.” And, relating a strange story, he tells us that about the year 1535, certain fishers of the place captured a sea-man, and kept him “many weekes in an olde house, giving him rawe fish to eate, for all other fare he refused. Instead of voyce he skreaked, and showed himself courteous to such as flocked farre and neare to visit him; faire maydes were wellcomest guests to his harbour, whome he woulde beholde with a very earnest countenaynce, as if his phlegmaticke breaste had been touched with a sparke of love. One day when the good demeanour of this newe gueste had made his hosts secure of his abode with them, he privily stole out of doores, and ere he could be overtaken recovered the sea, whereinto he plunged himself; yet as one that woulde not unmannerly depart without taking of his leave, from the mydle upwardes he raysed his shoulders often above the waves, and makinge signes of acknowledgeing his good entertainment to such as beheld him on the shore, as they interpreted yt. After a pretty while he dived downe, and appeared no more.”

Give me leave, reader, to quote one more passage, in which our narrator notices the phenomenon now known as the calling of the sea. “The little stream here,” he says, “serveth as a trunke or conduite to convey the rumor of the sea into the neighbouring fieldes; for when all wyndes are whiste, and the sea restes unmoved as a standing poole, sometimes there is such a horrible groaninge heard from that creake at the least six myles in the mayne lande, that the fishermen dare not put forth, thoughe thyrste of gaine drive them on, houlding an opinion that the sea, as a greedy beaste raginge for hunger, desyers to be satisfyed with men’s carcases.”

I crossed the beach where noisy rustics were loading carts from the thick beds of tangle, to the opposite cliff, and found a path to the top in a romantic hollow behind the point. Again the height increases, and presently you get a peep at Handale, traceable by its woods; and Freeburgh Hill, which was long taken for a tumulus, appears beyond. After much learned assertion in favour of its artificial formation, the question was settled by opening a sandstone quarry on its side. Still higher, and we are on Huntcliff[Pg 119] Nab, a precipice of three hundred and sixty feet, backed by broad fields and pastures. Farther, we come to broken ground, and then to a sudden descent by a zigzag path at the Saltburn coast-guard station; and here the noble range of cliffs sinks down to one of the pleasantest valleys of Cleveland—an outlet for little rivers. Pausing here on the brow we see the end of our coast travel, Redcar, and the mouth of the Tees five miles distant, and all between the finest sandy beach washed by the North Sea: level and smooth as a floor. The cliff behind is a mere bank, as along the shore of Holderness, and there is a greater breadth of plain country under our eye than we have seen for some days past.

Among the hills, picturesquely upheaved in the rear of the plain, I recognized the pointed summit of Rosebury Topping; and with almost as much pleasure as if it had been the face of a friend, so many recollections did the sight of the cone awaken of youthful days, and of circumstances that seemed to have left no impression. And therewith came back for a while the gladsome bounding emotions that consort with youth’s inexperience.

Some time elapsed before I could make up my mind to quit the turfy seat on the edge of the cliff, and betake myself to the nether ground. The path zigzags steeply, and would be dangerous in places were it not protected by a handrope and posts. At the public-house below the requisites of a simple dinner can be had, and excellent beer. While I ate, two men were busy casting bullets, and turning them out to cool in the middle of the floor. They were going to shoot cormorants along Huntcliff Nab, where the birds lodge in the clefts and afford good practice for a rifle.

Concerning the Nab, our ancient friend describes it as “full of craggs and steepe rocks, wherein meawes, pidgeons, and sea-fowle breade plentifully; and here the sea castinge up peble-stones maketh the coaste troublesome to passe.” And seals resorted to the rocks about its base, cunning animals, which set a sentry to watch for the approach of men, and dived immediately that the alarm was given. But “the poore women that gather cockles and mussels on the sandes, by often use are in better credyte with them. Therefore, whosoe intends to kill any of them must craftely put on the habyte of a woman, to gayne grounde within the reache of his peece.[Pg 120]

The sands at the mouth of the valley are furrowed and channeled by the streams that here find their outlet; and you will get many a splash in striding across. The view of the valley backed by hills and woods is a temptation, for yonder lie fair prospects, and the obscure ruins of Kilton Castle; but the sea is on the other side, and the sands stretch away invitingly before us. Their breadth, seen near low water, as when I saw them, may be guessed at more than half a mile, and from Saltburn to Redcar, and for four or five miles up the estuary of the Tees they continue, a gentle slope dry and firm, noisy to a horse’s foot, yet something elastic under the tread of a pedestrian. At one time the Redcar races were always held on the broad sands, and every day the visitors to the little town resort to the smooth expanse for their exercise, whether on foot or on wheels. For my part, I ceased to regret leaving the crest of the cliffs, and found a novel sense of enjoyment in walking along the wide-spread shore, where the surface is smooth and unbroken except here and there a solitary pebble, or a shallow pool, or a patch left rough by the ripples. And all the while a thin film, paler than the rest, as if the surface were in motion, is drifting rapidly with the wind, and producing before your eyes, on the margin of the low cliff, some of the phenomena of blown sands.

Smugglers liked this bit of the coast, because of the easy access to the interior; and many a hard fight has here been had between them and the officers of the law in former times, and not without loss of life. The lowlands, too, were liable to inundation. Marske, of which the church has been our landmark nearly all the way from Saltburn, was once a marsh. If we mount the bank here we shall see the marine hotel, and the village, and the mansion of Mr. Pease, who is the railway king of these parts. And there is Marske Hall, dating from the time of Charles the First, which, associated with the names of Fauconberg and Dundas, has become historical. In the churchyard you may see the graves of shipwrecked seamen, and others indicated by a series of family names that will detain you awhile. Here in April, 1779—that fatal year—was buried James Cook, the day-labourer, and father of the illustrious navigator. And truly there seems something appropriate in laying him to rest within hearing of that element on which his son achieved lasting renown for himself[Pg 121] and his country. Providence was kind to the old man, and took him away six weeks after that terrible massacre at Owhyhee, thereby saving his last days from hopeless sorrow.

Numerous are the parties walking, riding, and driving on the sands within a mile of Redcar; but so far as a wayfarer may judge, liveliness is not one of their characteristics. Now, the confused line of houses resolves itself into definite form; and, turning the point, you find the inner margin of the sand loose and heavy, a short stair to facilitate access to the terrace above, all wearing a rough makeshift appearance: the effect, probably, of the drift. There is no harbour; the boats lie far off in the shallow water, where embarkation is by no means convenient. Once arrived at the place, it appeared to me singularly unattractive.

Wide as the estuary looks, its entrance is narrowed by a tongue of sand, Seaton-Snook, similar to the Spurn, but seven miles long, and under water, which stretches out from the Durham side; and on the hither side, off the point where we are standing, you can see the long ridges of lias which are there thrust out, as if to suggest the use that might be made of them. Twenty years ago Mr. Richmond drew up a report on what he names an “Asylum Harbour” at Redcar, showing that at that time forty thousand vessels passed in a year, and that of the wrecks, from 1821 to 1833, four hundred and sixty-two would not have happened had the harbour then existed. “To examine and trace,” he remarks, “during a low spring-ebb, the massive foundations, which seem laid by the cunning hand of Nature to invite that of man to finish what has been so excellently begun, is a most interesting labour. In their present position they form the basis on which it is projected to raise those mounds of stone by whose means, as breakwaters, a safe and extensive harbour will be created, with sufficient space and depth of water for a fleet of line-of-battle ships to be moored with perfect security within their limits, and still leave ample room for merchant vessels.” There is no lack of stone in the neighbourhood; and seeing what has been accomplished at Portland and Holyhead, there should be no lack of money for such a purpose.

Cockles and shrimps abound along the shore: hence visitors may find a little gentle excitement in watching the capture of these multitudinous creatures, or grow enthusiastic over the return of the salmon-fishers with their glistening prey. And[Pg 122] in fine weather there are frequent opportunities for steam-boat trips along the coast. But the charm of the place consists in the broad, flat shore, and, looking back along the way you came, you will find an apt expression in the lines:

“Next fishy Redcar view Marske’s sunny lands,
And sands, beyond Pactolus’ golden sands;
Till shelvy Saltburn, clothed with seaweed green,
And giant Huntcliff close the pleasing scene.”

William Hutton, at the age of eighty-five, journeyed hither for a summer holiday, and wrote a narrative of his adventures, from which we may get an idea of the place as he saw it. “The two streets of Coatham and Redcar,” he says, “are covered with mountains of drift sand, blown by the north-west winds from the shore, which almost forbid the foot; no carriage above a wheelbarrow ought to venture. It is a labour to walk. If a man wants a perspiring dose, he may procure one by travelling through these two streets, and save his half-crown from the doctor. He may sport white stockings every day in the year, for they are without dirt; nor will the pavement offend his corns. The sand-beds are in some places as high as the eaves of the houses. Some of the inhabitants are obliged every morning to clear their doorway, which becomes a pit, unpleasant to the housekeeper and dangerous to the traveller.”

I saw no sand-beds up to the eaves, but there were indications enough that the sand-drift must be a great annoyance. The town is comprised chiefly in one long, wide street, which looks raw and bleak, even in the summer. There are a few good shops at the end farthest from the sea; and if you ask the bookseller to show you the weekly list of visitors, it will perhaps surprise you to see the number so great. The church was built in 1829; before that date church-goers had to walk three miles to Marske.

And now my travel from Humber to Tees is accomplished, and I must say farewell to the wide rolling main with its infinite horizon—to the ships coming up from the unseen distance, and sailing away to the unseen beyond—to the great headlands, haunted by swift-winged birds, which, when winds are still, behold a double firmament, stars overhead and stars beneath; and so, not without reluctance, I turn my back on what the rare old Greek calls

“The countless laughter of the salt-sea waves.”

[Pg 123]


CHAPTER XVI.

Leave Redcar—A Cricket-Match—Coatham—Kirkleatham—The Old Hospital—The Library—Sir William Turner’s Tomb—Cook, Omai, and Banks—The Hero of Dettingen—Yearby Bank—Upleatham—Guisborough—Past and Present—Tomb of Robert Bruce—Priory Ruins—Hemingford, Pursglove, and Sir Thomas Chaloner—Pretty Scenery—The Spa—More Money, Less Morals—What George Fox’s Proselytes did—John Wesley’s Preaching—Hutton Lowcross—Rustics of Taste—Rosebury Topping—Lazy Enjoyment—The Prospect: from Black-a-moor to Northumberland—Cook’s Monument—Canny Yatton—The Quakers’ School—A Legend—Skelton—Sterne and Eugenius—Visitors from Middlesbro’—A Fatal Town—Newton—Digger’s Talk—Marton, Cook’s Birthplace—Stockton—Darlington.

However, we will be of good cheer, for Nature forsakes not the trustful heart. Hill and dale, breezy moorland, craggy mountains, and lovely valleys stretch away before us well-nigh to the western tides; and there we shall find perennial woods, where rustling leaves, and rushing waterfalls will compensate us for the loss of the voice of the sea.

I started for Guisborough, taking a short cut across the fields to Kirkleatham. In the first field, on the edge of the town, I saw what accounted to me for the lifelessness of Redcar—a cricket-match. As well might one hope to be merry at a funeral as at a game of cricket, improved into its present condition; when the ball is no longer bowled, but pelted, and the pelter’s movements resemble those of a jack-pudding; when gauntlets must be worn on the hands and greaves on the shins; and other inventions are brought into use to deprive pastime of anything like enjoyment. That twenty-two men should ever consent to come together for such a mockery of pleasure, is to me a mystery. Wouldn’t Dr. Livingstone’s Makalolo laugh at them! The only saving point attending it is, that it involves some amount of exercise in the open air. No wonder that the French duchess, who was invited to see a game, sent one of her suite, after sitting two hours, to enquire, “vhen the creekay vas going to begin.[Pg 124]” The Guisborough band was doing its best to enliven the field; but I saw no exhilaration. Read Miss Mitford’s description of a cricket-match on the village green; watch a schoolboys’ game, consider the mirth and merriment that they get out of it, and sympathise with modern cricket if you can.

The fields are pleasant and rural; haymakers are at work; we cross a tramway, one of those laid to facilitate the transport of Cleveland ironstone; we get glimpses of Coatham, and come nearer to the woods, and at length emerge into the road at Kirkleatham. Here let us turn aside to look at the curious old hospital, built in 1676 by Sir William Turner, citizen and woollen-draper of London, and lord mayor, moreover, three years after the Great Fire. There it stands, a centre and two wings, including a chapel, a library and museum, and a comfortable lodging for ten old men, as many old women, and the same number of boys and girls. The endowment provides for a good education for the children, and a benefaction on their apprenticeship; and the services of a chaplain. Among the curiosities shown to visitors are a waxen effigy of Sir William, wearing the wig and band that he himself once wore; the likeness of his son and heir in the stained glass of one of the windows; St. George and the Dragon, singularly well cut out of one piece of boxwood; the fragment of the tree from Newby Park, presented by Lord Falconberg, on which appears, carved:—

This Tre long time witnese beare
Of toww lovrs that did walk heare.

It was no random hand that selected the library; some of the books are rare. One who loves old authors, will scan the shelves with pleasure. “I could easily have forgotten my dinner in this enchanting room,” says William Hutton. Interesting in another way is the ledger of the worthy citizen and woollen-draper here preserved: it shows how well he kept his accounts, and that he was not vain-glorious. On one of the pages, where the sum of his wealth appears as 50,000l., he has written, “Blessed be the Almighty God, who has blest me with this estate.”

The church, not far from the hospital, is worth a visit. Conspicuous in the chancel are the monuments of the Turners, adorned with sculptures and long inscriptions. Of Sir William, we read that he lies buried “amongst the poor of[Pg 125] his hospital—the witnesses of his piety, liberality, and humility.” There is the mausoleum erected by Cholmley Turner, in 1740, to the memory of his son, who died at Lyon, of which Schumacher was the sculptor, and near it the tomb of Sir Charles Turner, the last of the family. Cook, accompanied by Omai and Sir Joseph Banks, paid him a visit in 1775. Some of the church plate was presented by Sir William; but that used for the communion was thrown up by the sea about a century ago, within the privilege of the lord of the manor.

This quiet little village of Kirkleatham was the birthplace of Tom Browne the famous dragoon, who at the battle of Dettingen cut his way single-handed into the enemy’s line, recovered the standard of the troop to which he belonged, and fought his way back in triumph; by which exploit he made his name ring from one end of England to the other, and won a place for his likeness on many a sign-board. You may see his portrait here if you will, and his straight basket-hilted sword.

After a glance at the hall, a handsome building, we return to the road, and ascend Yearby bank—a bank which out of Yorkshire would be called a hill. Look back when near the top, and you will have a pleasing prospect: Kirkleatham nestled among the trees, the green fields refreshing to the eye; Eston Nab and the brown estuary beyond. Here we are on the verge of the Earl of Zetland’s richly wooded estate—

“Behold Upleatham, slop’d with graceful ease,
Hanging enraptur’d o’er the winding Tees”—

and the breeze makes merry among the branches that overhang us on both sides till a grand fragment of a ruin appears in sight—the tall east window of a once magnificent Priory—rising stately in decay from amidst the verdure of a fertile valley, and we enter the small market-town of Guisborough.

Having refreshed myself at The Buck, I took an evening stroll, not a little surprised at the changes which the place had undergone since I once saw it. Then it had the homely aspect of a village, and scarce a sound would you hear after nine at night in its long wide street: now at both ends new houses intrude on the fields and hedgerows, the side lanes have grown into streets lit by gas and watched by policemen. Tippling iron-diggers disturb the night with noisy shouts[Pg 126] when sober folk are a-bed, and the old honest look has disappeared for ever. In the olden time it was said, “The inhabitants of this place are observed by travellers to be very civil and well bred, cleanly in dressing their diet, and very decent in their houses.” The old hall is gone, but the gardens remain: you see the ample walnut-trees and the primeval yew behind the wall on your way to the churchyard. Seven centuries have rolled away since that Norman gateway was built, and it looks strong enough to stand another seven. Under the shadow of those trees was a burial-place of the monks: now the shadow falls on mutilated statues and other sculptured relics, and on the tomb of Robert Brus, one of the claimants of the Scottish throne and founder of the abbey, who was buried here in 1294. Even in decay it is an admirable specimen of ancient art.

From the meadow adjoining the churchyard you get a good view of the great east window, or rather of the empty arch which the window once filled; and looking at its noble dimensions, supported by buttresses, flanked by the windows of the aisles, and still adorned with crumbling finials, you will easily believe what is recorded of Guisborough Priory—that it was the richest in Yorkshire. It was dedicated to St. Augustine, and when the sacred edifice stood erect in beauty, the tall spire pointing far upwards, seen miles around, many a weary pilgrim must have invoked a blessing on its munificent founder—a Bruce of whom the Church might well be proud.

Hemingford, whose chronicle of events during the reigns of the first three Edwards contains many curious matters of ecclesiastical history, was a canon of Guisborough; and among the priors we find Bishop Pursglove, him of whom our ancient gossip Izaak makes loving mention. Another name associated with the place is Sir Thomas Chaloner, eminent alike in exercises of the sword, and pen, and statesmanship. It was here in the neighbourhood that he discovered alum, as already mentioned, led thereto by observing that the leaves of the trees about the village were not so dark a green as elsewhere, while the whitish clay soil never froze, and “in a pretty clear night shined and sparkled like glass upon the road-side.”

Skeletons and stone coffins have been dug up from time to time, and reburied in the churchyard. On one occasion the diggers came upon a deposit of silver plate; and from these and other signs the presence of a numerous population on the[Pg 127] spot in former days has been inferred. Our quaint friend, who has been more than once quoted, says: “Cleveland hath been wonderfully inhabited more than yt is nowe ... nowe all their lodgings are gone; and the country, as a widow, remayneth mournful.” And among the local traditions, there is the not uncommon one, which hints obscurely at a subterranean passage, leading from the Priory to some place adjacent, within which lay a chest of gold guarded by a raven.

Situate near the foot of a finely-wooded range of hills, the ruin shows effectively with the green heights for a background. More delightful than now must the prospect have been in the early days, and even within the present century, when no great excavations of ironstone left yellow blots in the masses of foliage.

The sun went down while I sauntered about, and when I took my last look at the great east window the ruddy blaze streamed through its lofty space, and as each side grew dark with creeping glooms, filled it with quivering beams whereunto all the glory of glass would be but a mockery.

Guisborough may claim to rank among watering-places, for it has a spa, with appliances for drinking and bathing, down in a romantic nook of Spa Wood, watered by Alumwork beck. The walk thither, and onwards through Waterfall wood to Skelton, is one of the prettiest in the neighbourhood. And on the hill-slopes, Bellman bank—formerly Bellemonde—still claims notice for pleasing scenery. The medicinal properties of the spring were discovered in 1822. The water, which is clear and sparkling, tastes and smells slightly of sulphur and weak alkaline constituents, and is considered beneficial in diseases of the skin and indigestion. And in common with other small towns in Yorkshire, Guisborough has a free grammar-school, which, at least, keeps alive the memory of its founder.

Mine host of The Buck said, as we talked together later in the evening about the changes that had taken place, that although more money came into the town than in years gone by, he did not think that better habits or better morals came in along with it. A similar remark would be made wherever numbers of rude labourers earn high wages. Even in the good old times there was something to complain of. George Fox tells us, concerning his proselytes in Cleveland, that they[Pg 128] fell away from their first principles and took to ranting; and at the time of his later visits “they smoked tobacco and drank ale in their meetings, and were grown light and loose.” And John Wesley, on his first visit to Guisborough, in 1761, found what was little better than practical heathenism. He preached from a table standing in the market-place, where “there was,” as he writes, “so vehement a stench of stinking fish as was ready to suffocate me.” The people “roared;” but as the zealous apostle of Methodism went on in his sermon they gradually became overawed, and listened in silence. Did their forefathers ever roar when Paulinus preached to them from a mossy rock, or under the shadow of a spreading oak? Wesley, however, made an impression, and followed it up by visits in four subsequent years.

At any rate, there was no noise to disturb the Sunday quiet when I went forth on the morrow. While passing along the street I noticed many cottagers reading at their doors, and exposing a pair of clean white shirt-sleeves to the morning sun. Turning presently into a road on the left, which rises gently, you get an embowered view of the town, terminated by the soaring arch. Then we come to Hutton Lowcross, a pleasant hamlet, which suggests a thought of the days of old, for it once had an hospital and a Cistercian nunnery. Hutton joined to the name of a village is a characteristic of Cleveland. In one instance—a few miles from this—it helps out an unflattering couplet:

“Hutton Rudby, Entrepen,
Far more rogues than honest men.”

We cross the railway near a station, which, as a cottager told me is “Mr. Pease’s station; built for hisself, and not for everybody;” and take a bridle road leading to the hill. I fell in with a couple of rustics, who were able to enjoy the scenery amid which they had lived for years. They lay under a tree, at a spot open to the prospect down the valley; and as I commended their choice, one replied “I do like to come and set here of a Sunday better than anything else. ’Tis so nice to hear the leaves a-rustlin’ like they do now.” But the view there was nothing to what I should see from the hill-top: there couldn’t be a prettier sight in England than that.

I felt willing to believe them; and a few minutes later[Pg 129] strode from the steep, narrow lane, where ferns, foxgloves, wild roses, and elders overhang the way, to the open expanse of Guisborough moors. Here a track runs along the undulating slope to the foot of the hills, which roll away on the left to the wild region of Black-a-moor, with many a pleasant vale and secluded village between, while on the right spreads the cultivated plain, of which, ere long, we shall get a wider view; for now Rosebury Topping comes clear in sight, from gorse-patched base to rocky apex, and your eye begins to select a place for ascent. It is approachable on all sides; no swamp betrays the foot, but the steepness in some places compels you to use hands as well as feet. The morning was already hot, and I was fain to sit down in the belt of bracken above the gorse and breathe awhile, glad to have climbed beyond reach of the flies. From the fern you mount across clean, soft turf to the bare wall of rock which encircles the northern half of the summit, where the breeze of the plain is a brisk wind, cooling and invigorating as it sweeps across. I threw off my knapsack, and choosing a good resting-place, lay down in idle enjoyment of being able to see far enough.

Who that has travelled knows not what an enjoyment it is to recline at length on a hill-top, the head reposing on a cushion of moss, and to have nothing to do but let the eye rove at will over the wide-spread landscape below? Sheltered by the rock, you breathe the coolness of upper air without its rapid chill, and indulge for a while in lazy contemplation. It is the very luxury of out-door existence. Perhaps you are somewhat overcome by the labour of the ascent, and unconsciousness steals gently on you; and a snatch of slumber in such a spot, while the winds whisper of gladness in your ear, and a faint hush floats to and fro among the blades of grass, is a pleasure which can be imagined only by one who beholds at his awaking the blue sky and the broad earth of the great Giver.

At length curiosity prevails. Here we are a thousand and twenty-two feet above the sea—an elevation that sounds small after Switzerland and Tyrol; but a very little experience of travelling convinces one that the highest hills are not those which always command the most pleasing views. Standing on the top of the crag you may scan the whole ring of the horizon, from the sea on the east to the high summits of the west; from the bleak ridges of Black-a-moor to the head[Pg 130]lands of Northumberland, seen dimly through the smoky atmosphere of the Durham coal-fields.

Considering, reader, that I may please myself at times, as well as you, I borrow again from our honest friend, whose admiration of the picturesque appears to have equalled his ability to note the useful. “There is,” he says, “a most goodly prospecte from the toppe of thys hyll, though paynefully gayned by reason of the steepnesse of yt.... There you may see a vewe the like whereof I never saw, or thinke that any traveller hath seen any comparable unto yt, albeit I have shewed yt to divers that have paste through a greate part of the worlde, both by sea and land. The vales, rivers, great and small, swelinge hylls and mountaynes, pastures, meadows, woodes, cornefields, parte of the Bishopricke of Durham, with the newe porte of Tease lately found to be safe, and the sea replenyshed with shippes, and a most pleasant flatt coaste subjecte to noe inundation or hazarde make that countrye happy if the people had the grace to make use of theire owne happinesse, which may be amended if it please God to send them trafique and good example of thrifte.” All this is still true; but Tees has now other ports, and Middlesborough, which has grown rapidly as an American town, and the iron furnaces, spread a smoky veil here and there across the landscape, which, when our narrator looked down upon it, lay everywhere clear and bright in the sunshine.

The name of the hill is said to be derived from Ross, a heath or moor; Burg, a fortress; and Toppen, Danish for apex. If you incline to go back to very early days—as the Germans do—try to repeople the rows of basin-like pits which, traceable around the slope of the hill, are, so the students of antiquity tell us, the remains of ancient British dwellings. Were they inhabited when the Brigantes first mustered to repel the Romans? Rebuild the hermitage which, constructed once by a solitary here in the rock, was afterwards known as the smith’s forge or cobbler’s shop; and restore the crevice which, far-famed as Wilfrid’s needle, tempted many a pilgrim to the expiatory task of creeping through the needle’s eye. No traces of them are now left, for the remains which Time respected were destroyed some years ago by quarrymen, and with them the perfect point of the cone.

Rosebury Topping was once talked of as the best site for a monument to the memory of Cook, where it would be seen[Pg 131] from his birthplace and for miles around. But another spot was chosen, and looking to the south-east you see the tall, plain column on Easby heights, about three miles distant. It was erected in 1827, at the cost of Mr. Robert Campion, of Whitby. At the foot of the hill, in the same direction, partly concealed by trees, and watered by the river Leven, lies the village of Great Ayton—canny Yatton—where Cook went to school after finishing his course of Mary Walker’s lessons. In the churchyard is a stone, which records the death of Cook’s mother, and of some of his brothers and sisters, supposed to have been wrought by his father, who was a working mason. It is said, however, that the old man was unable to read until the age of seventy-five, when he learned in order that he might have the pleasure of reading the narrative of his son’s voyages of discovery. Of other noteworthy objects in the village are a monument to Commodore Wilson in the church; a Chapel-well of the olden time; and an agricultural school, with seventy-five acres of good land attached, belonging to the Quakers. Farming work and in-doors work are there taught to boys and girls in a thoroughly practical way, carrying out the intentions of the chief promoter, who gave the land and 5000l. to establish the institution.

A few yards below the rocks a spring trickles slowly into a hollow under a stone, but the quantity of water is too small to keep itself free from the weeds and scum which render it unfit for drinking. It can hardly be the fatal spring of the tradition, wherein is preserved the memory of a Northumbrian queen and Prince Oswy, her son. Soothsayers had foretold the boy’s death by drowning on a certain day: the mother, to keep him from harm, brought him to this lofty hill-side early on the threatened day, where, at all events, he would be in no danger from water. Fondly she talked with him for a while and watched his play: but drowsiness stole over her and she fell asleep. By-and-by she woke, and looked hastily round for her darling. He was nowhere to be seen. She flew hither and thither, searching wildly, and at last found him lying dead, with his face in the spring.

Looking to the north-east we see Skelton, backed by the Upleatham woods. Though but a speck in the landscape, it has contributed more to history than places which boast acres of houses. “From this little nook of Cleveland,” says the local historian, “sprang mighty monarchs, queens, high-[Pg 132]chancellors, archbishops, earls, barons, ambassadors, and knights, and, above all, one brilliant and immortal name—Robert Bruce.” We hear of a Robert de Brus, second of the name, trying to dissuade David of Scotland from awaiting the attack of the English army near Northallerton: but the king chose to fight, and lost, as we have already read, the Battle of the Standard. And the sixth baron, Peter de Brus, was one of the resolute band who made his mark at Runnymede, and helped to wrest the right of Liberty from a royal craven.

Then taking a stride to later years, we find the author of Crazy Tales, John Hall Stephenson, the occupant of Skelton Castle, an esquire hospitable and eccentric, the Eugenius of Sterne, who was his willing guest:

“In this retreat, whilom so sweet,
Once Tristram and his cousin dwelt.”

There it was that Sterne bribed a boy to tie the weathercock with its point to the west, hoping thereby to lure the host from his chamber; for Eugenius would never leave his bed while the wind blew from the east, even though good company longed for his presence.

In one of his poems the “crazy” author describes the hill country such as we see it stretching away beyond Cook’s monument:

“Where the beholder stands confounded
At such a scene of mountains bleak;
Where nothing goes
Except some solitary pewit,
And carrion crows,
That seem sincerely to rue it:
Where nothing grows,
So keen it blows,
Save here and there a graceless fir,
From Scotland with its kindred fled,
That moves its arms and makes a stir,
And tosses its fantastic head.”

On Eston Nab, that bold hill between us and the Tees, is an ancient camp, and graves supposed to be two thousand years old. Kildale, in the opposite direction, had once a diabolical notoriety; for there the devil played many a prank, and drank the church-well dry, so that the priest could get no holy water. Ingleby Manor, an antique Tudor house, belonged to the Foulis family, who gave a noteworthy captain to the army of the Parliament. And other historic names—the D’Arcys,[Pg 133] Eures, Percys, and Baliols—all had estates overlooked by Rosebury. Wilton Castle, not far from the foot of Eston Nab, was built by Sir John Lowther, about fifty years ago, on the site of a fortress once held by the Bulmers.

Now to return for a moment to the hill itself: the topmost rocks are of the same formation as those we saw stretching into the sea at Redcar, uptilted more than a thousand feet in a distance of ten miles. And lower down, as if to exemplify the geology of the North Riding in one spot, a thick stratum of alum-rock is found, with ironstone, limestone, jet and coal, and numerous fossil shells. And it illustrates meteorological phenomena, for, from time immemorial, weatherwise folk have said,

“When Rosebury Topping wears a cap,
Let Cleveland then beware a clap.”

More than an hour slipped away while I lounged and loitered, making the round of the summit again and again, till it seemed that the landscape had become familiar to me. Then the solitude was broken by the arrival of strangers, who came scrambling up the hill, encouraging one another, with cheerful voices. They gained the rocks at last, panting; two families from Middlesborough, husbands, wives, boys and girls, and a baby, with plenty to eat and drink in their baskets, come from the murky town to pass the Sunday on the breezy hill-top. How they enjoyed the pure air and the wide prospect; and how they wondered to find room for a camp-meeting on a summit which, from their homes, looked as if it were only a blunt point! They told me that a trip to Rosebury Topping was an especial recreation for the people of Middlesborough—a town which, by the way, is built on a swampy site, where the only redeeming feature is ready access to a navigable river. I remember what it was before the houses were built. A drearier spot could not be imagined: one of those places which, as Punch says, “you want never to hear of, and hope never to see.”

“’Tis frightful to see how fast the graves do grow up in the new cemetery,” said one of the women, whose glad surprise at the contrast between her home and her holiday could hardly express itself in words. “It can’t be a healthy place to bring up a family in. That’s where we live, is it—down there, under all that smoke? Ah! if we could only come up here every day![Pg 134]

Middlesborough, as we can see from far off, is now a large town, numbering nearly 8000 inhabitants in 1851, and owes its sudden growth to coal and iron. There the smelting furnaces, roaring night and day, convert hundreds of tons of the Cleveland hills every week into tons of marketable iron. The quantity produced in 1856 in the Cleveland district was 180,000 tons. And there is the terminus of the “Quakers’ Railway;” a dock, of nine acres, where vessels can load at all times of the tide; an ingenious system of drops for the coal; branch railways running in all directions; and a great level of fifteen acres, on which three thousand wagons can stand at once.

I stayed two hours on the hill-top, then taking a direct line down the steepest side, now sliding, now rolling, very few minutes brought me to the village of Newton at the foot. With so sudden a change, the heat below seemed at first overpowering. In the public-house, which scrupled not to open its door to a traveller, I found half a dozen miners, who had walked over from a neighbouring village to drink their pint without molestation. Each recommended a different route whereby the ten miles to Stockton might be shortened. One insisted on a cut across the fields to Nuntharp.

My ear caught at the sharp twang of the ar—a Yorkshire man would have said Nunthurp—and turning to the speaker I said, “Surely that’s Berkshire?”

“Ees, ’tis. I comes not fur from Read’n’.”

True enough. Tempted by high wages in the north, he had wandered from the neighbourhood of Our Village up to the iron-diggings of Cleveland. I took it for granted that, as he earned more than twice as much as he did at home, he saved in proportion. But no; he didn’t know how ’twas; the money went somehow. Any way he didn’t save a fardin’ more than he did in Berkshire. I ventured to reply that there was little good in earning more if one did not save more, when a tall brawny fellow broke in with, “Look here, lad. I’d ruther ’arn fifty shillin’s a week and fling ’em right off into that pond there, than ’arn fifteen to keep.”

Just the retort that was to be expected under the circumstances. It embodies a touch of proud sentiment in which we can all participate.

I found the short cut to Nunthorp, struck there the high road, and came in another hour to Marton—the birthplace of[Pg 135] Cook. It is a small village with a modernised church, and a few noble limes overshadowing the graves. The house where the circumnavigator was born was little better than a clay hovel of two rooms. It has long since disappeared; but the field on which it stood is still called “Cook’s Garth.” The parish register contains an entry under the date November 3rd, 1728: “James, ye son of James Cook, day-labourer, baptized.” The name of Mary Walker, aged 89, appears on one of the stones in the churchyard; she it was who taught the day-labourer’s son to read while he was in her service, and who has been mistakenly described as Dame Walker the schoolmistress.

I caught the evening train at Stockton, which travelling up the Durham side of the Tees—past Yarm, where Havelock’s mother was born—past the “hell kettles” and Dinsdale Spa, where drinking the water turns all the silver yellow in your pockets—and so to Darlington, where I stayed for the night.

[Pg 136]


CHAPTER XVII.

Locomotive, Number One—Barnard Castle—Buying a Calf on Sunday—Baliol’s Tower—From Canute to the Duke of Cleveland—Historic Scenery—A surprised Northumbrian—The bearded Hermit—Beauty of Teesdale—Egliston Abbey—The Artist and his Wife—Dotheboys Hall—Rokeby—Greta Bridge—Mortham Tower—Brignall Banks—A Pilgrimage to Wycliffe—Fate of the Inns—The Felon Sow—A Journey by Omnibus—Lartington—Cotherstone—Scandinavian Traces—Romaldkirk—Middleton-in-Teesdale—Wild Scenery—High Force Inn—The voice of the Fall.

Facing the entrance to the railway station, elevated on a pedestal of masonry, stands the first locomotive—Number One. With such machines as that did the Quakers begin in 1823 to transport coal from the mines near Darlington to Middlesborough along their newly-opened railway. Compared with the snorting giants of the Great Western, its form and dimensions are small and simple. No glittering brass or polished steel bedeck its strength; it is nothing but a black boiler, mounted on wheels, with three or four slender working-rods standing up near one end, and the chimney with its saw-toothed top at the other. Yet, common as it looks, it is one of George Stephenson’s early triumphs: one of the steps by which he, and others after him, established more and more the supremacy of mind over mere brute matter. It was a happy thought to preserve Number One on the spot where enlightened enterprise first developed its capabilities.

Tees is one of those streams—the “silly few”—which owe a divided allegiance, watering two counties at once. Rising high amidst the wildest hills of the north-west, it takes a course of eighty-three miles to the sea through many scenes of romantic beauty. Yesterday we looked down from Rosebury on the last two or three leagues of its outfall; to-day if all go well we shall see the summit from which it springs. It is a glorious morning; the earliest train arrives, interrupts[Pg 137] our examination of the old locomotive, and away we go to breakfast at Barnard Castle, on the Durham side of the river.

There is so much of beautiful and interesting in the neighbourhood, scenes made classic by the pen of Scott, that I chose to pass the day in rambling, and journey farther in the evening. The town itself, old-fashioned in aspect, quiet enough for grass to grow here and there in the streets, was one of the ancient border-towns, and paid the penalty of its position. It has a curious market-cross, and touches of antiquity in the byeways; and owing to something in its former habits or history, is a butt for popular wit. “Barney-Cassel, the last place that God made,” is one way of mentioning the town by folk in other parts of the county; if you meet with a fellow more uncouth than usual, he is “Barney-Cassel bred;” any one who shoots with the long bow is silenced with “That wunna do, that’s Barney-Cassel;” and as Barney-Cassel farmers may be recognised by the holes in their sacks, so may the women by holes in their stockings.

One Sunday morning, a farmer, while on his way to chapel, noticed a fine calf in his neighbour’s field, and when seated in his pew, was overheard to ask the owner of the animal, “Tommy, supposin’ it was Monday, what wad ye tak’ for yer calf?” To which Tommy replied in an equally audible whisper, “Why, supposin’ it was Monday, aw’d tak’ two pun’ fifteen.” “Supposin’ it was Monday aw’ll gie two pun’ ten.” “Supposin’ it was Monday, then ye shall hev’t.” And the next day the calf was delivered to the scrupulous purchaser.

The pride of the town is the castle—ruined remains of the stronghold erected by Bernard Baliol to protect the lands bestowed on him by William the Red. Seen from the bridge, the rocky height, broken and craggy, and hung with wood, crowned by Baliol’s Tower, is remarkably picturesque. The Tees sweeps round the base, as if impatient to hide itself once more under green woods, to receive once more such intermingled shadows of rock and leafage as fell on it through Marwood Chase, and where Balder rushes in about a league above. A mile of sunlight, and then the brawling stream will play with the big stones and crowd its bed all through the woods of Rokeby.

Let us mount the hill and ascend the tower. The bearded[Pg 138] hermit who inhabits therein points the way to the stone stair constructed within the massive wall, and presently we come to the top, where, although there is no parapet, the great thickness admits of your walking round in safety. The view is a feast for the eye—thick woods marking the course of the river, the trees thinning off as they meet the uplands, where fields and hedgerows diversify the landscape away to the hills; while in the distance the sight of dark, solemn moorlands serves but to heighten the nearer beauty. We can see lands once held by King Canute, now the property of the Duke of Cleveland: we passed his estate, the park and castle of Raby, about six miles distant on our way hither; and whichever way we look there is something for memory to linger on:

“Staindrop, who, from her sylvan bowers,
Salutes proud Raby’s battled towers;
The rural brook of Egliston,
And Balder, named from Odin’s son;
And Greta, to whose banks ere long
We lead the lovers of the song;
And silver Lune, from Stanmore wild,
And fairy Thorsgill’s murmuring child,
And last and least, but loveliest still,
Romantic Deepdale’s slender rill.”

Barnard Castle was lost to the Baliol family by the defeat of John Baliol’s pretensions to the crown of Scotland. Later it was granted, with the adjoining estates, to the Earls of Warwick, and on the marriage of Anne Neville with royal Gloucester, the Duke chose it as his favourite residence. You may still see his cognizance of the boar here and there on the walls, and on some of the oldest houses in the town. The Earl of Westmoreland had it next, but lost it by taking part in The Rising of the North. The couplet:—

“Coward, a coward, of Barney Castel,
Dare not come out to fight a battel,”

is said to have its origin in the refusal of the knight who held the castle, to quit the shelter of its walls and try the effect of a combat with the rebels. And so the game went on, the Crown resuming possession at pleasure, until the whole property fell by purchase, in 1629, to an ancestor of the present owner—the Duke of Cleveland.

“Whoy! ’tis but a little town to ha’ such a muckle castle,” exclaimed one of three men who had just arrived with a numerous party by excursion train from Newcastle, and ven[Pg 139]tured to the top of the tower. “Eh! the castle wur bigger nor the town.”

Whatever may have been, the thick-voiced Northumbrian was wrong in his first conclusion, for the town has more than four thousand inhabitants. But, looking down, we can see that the castle with its outworks and inner buildings must have been a fortress of no ordinary dimensions. Nearly seven acres are comprehended within its area, now chiefly laid out in gardens, where, sheltered by the old gray stones, the trees bear generous fruit. If you can persuade the hermit to ascend, he will point out Brackenbury’s Tower, a dilapidated relic, with dungeons in its base, now used as stables; and near it a cow-stall, which occupies the site of the chapel. Examine the place when you descend, and you will discover, amid much disfigurement, traces of graceful architecture.

The hermit himself—a man of middle age—is a subject for curiosity. So far as I could make him out, he appeared to be half misanthropist, half misogynist. He quarrelled with the world about eighteen years ago, and, without asking leave, took possession of a vault and a wall-cavity at the foot of the great round tower, and has lived there ever since, supporting himself by the donations of visitors, and the sale of rustic furniture which he makes with his own hands. His room in the wall is fitted with specimens of his skill, and it serves as a trap, for you have to pass through it to ascend the tower. He showed me his workshop, and pointed out a spot under the trees at the hill-foot where flows the clear cold spring from which he draws water. The Duke, he said, sometimes came to look at the ruin, and gave him a hint to quit; but he did not mean to leave until absolutely compelled. I heard later in the day that he had been crossed in love; and that, notwithstanding his love of solitude, he would go out at times and find a friend, and make a night of it. But this may be scandal.

I went down and took a drink at the spring which, embowered by trees and bushes, sparkles forth from the rocky brink of the river; and rambled away to Rokeby. There are paths on both sides of the stream, along the edge of the meadows, and under the trees past the mill, past cottages and gardens, leading farther and farther into scenes of increasing beauty. Then we come to the Abbey Bridge, whence you[Pg 140] get a pleasing view of a long straight reach of the river, terminated by a glimpse of Rokeby Hall, a charming avenue, so to speak, of tall woods, which, with ferns, shrubs, and mazy plants, crowd the rocky slopes to the very edge of the water. From ledge to ledge rushes the stream, making falls innumerable, decked with living fringes of foam, and as the noisy current hurries onward it engirdles the boulders with foamy rings, or hangs upon them a long white train that flutters and glistens as sunbeams drop down through the wind-shaken leaves. Strong contrasts of colour enrich the effect:

“Here Tees, full many a fathom low,
Wears with his rage no common foe;
For pebbly bank, nor sand-bed here,
Nor clay-mound, checks his fierce career,
Condemn’d to mine a channell’d way,
O’er solid sheets of marble gray.”

On the Yorkshire side, a few yards above the bridge, the remains of Egliston or Athelstan Abbey crown a pleasant knoll surrounded by wood. They are of small extent, and, on the whole, deficient in the picturesque; but as an artist said who sketched while his wife sat sewing by his side, “There are a few little bits worth carrying away.” The east window, in which the plain mullions still remain, is of unusual width, the chancel exhibits carvings of different styles; two or three slabs lying on the grass preserve the memory of an abbot, and of a Rokeby, who figures in the still legible inscription as Bastard; and the outbuildings are now occupied as a farm. Some years hence, when the ivy, which has begun to embrace the eastern window, shall have spread its evergreen mantle wider and higher, the ruins will be endowed with a charm wherein their present scanty nakedness may be concealed. Yet apart from this the place has natural attractions, a village green, noble trees, Thorsgill within sight; and just beyond the green a mill of cheerful clatter.

The artist and his wife were enjoying a happy holiday. They had come down into Yorkshire with a fortnight’s excursion ticket, and a scheme for visiting as many of the abbeys and as much picturesque scenery as possible within the allotted time. Sometimes they walked eight or ten miles, or travelled a stage in a country car, content to rough it, so that their wishes should be gratified. They had walked across from Stainmoor the day before, and told me that in passing[Pg 141] through Bowes they had seen the original of Dotheboys Hall, now doorless, windowless, and dilapidated. Nicholas Nickleby’s exposure was too much for it, and it ceased to be a den of hopeless childhood—a place to which heartless fathers and mothers condemned their children because it was cheap.

What a contrast! Wackford Squeers and the Thracian cohort. Bowes, under the name of Lavatræ, was once a station on the great Roman road from Lincoln to Carlisle. Ere long it will be a station on the railway that is to connect Stockton with Liverpool.

Now, returning to the bridge, we plunge into the woods, and follow the river’s course by devious paths. Gladsome voices and merry laughter resound, for a numerous detachment of the excursionists from Newcastle are on their way to view the grounds of Rokeby. Delightful are the snatches of river scenery that we get here and there, where the jutting rock affords an outlook, and the more so as we enjoy them under a cool green shade. Leaving the Northumbrians at the lodge to accomplish their wishes, I kept on to Greta Bridge, and lost myself in the romantic glen through which the river flows. It will surprise you by its manifold combinations of rock, wood, and water, fascinating the eye at every step amid a solitude profound. This was the route taken by Bertram and Wilfrid when the ruthless soldier went to take possession of Mortham. You cannot fail to recognize how truly Scott describes the scenery; the “beetling brow” is there, and the “ivied banners” still hang from the crags as when the minstrel saw them. We can follow the two to that

“——grassy slope which sees
The Greta flow to meet the Tees:”

and farther, where

“South of the gate, an arrow flight,
Two mighty elms their limbs unite,
As if a canopy to spread
O’er the lone dwelling of the dead;
For their huge boughs in arches bent
Above a massive monument,
Carved o’er in ancient Gothic wise,
With many a scutcheon and device.”

You will long to lengthen your hours into days for wanderings in this lovely neighbourhood. You will be unwilling to turn from the view at Mortham Tower—one of the old border peels, or fortresses on a small scale—or that which charms[Pg 142] you from the Dairy Bridge. Then if the risk of losing your way does not deter, you may ramble to “Brignall Banks” and Scargill, having the river for companion most part of the way. And should you be minded to pursue the road through Richmondshire to Richmond, the village and ruins of Ravensworth will remind you of

“The Baron of Ravensworth prances in pride,
And he views his domains upon Arkindale side.
The mere for his net and the land for his game,
The chase for the wild, and the park for the tame;
Yet the fish of the lake, and the door of the vale,
Are less free to Lord Dacre than Allen-a-Dale!”

Or, if inspired by a deeper sentiment, you prefer a pilgrimage to a spot of hallowed memory to every Englishman, choose the river-side path to Wycliffe, and see how ever new beauties enchant the way, and say on arrival if ever you saw a prettier village church or a more charming environment. Shut in by woods and hills here, as some writers show, is the birthplace of John Wycliffe, to whom freedom of conscience is perhaps more indebted than to Luther. One may believe that Nature herself desires to preserve from desecration the cradle of him who opened men’s hearts and eyes to see and understand the truth in its purity; cleansed from the adulterations of priestcraft; stripped of all the blinding cheats of papistry; who died faithful to the truth for which he had dared to live; who bequeathed that truth to us, and with God’s blessing we will keep it alive and unblemished, using it manfully as a testimony against all lies and shams whatsoever and wheresoever they may be found.

The church was restored, as one may judge, in a loving spirit in 1850. It contains a few interesting antiquities, and is fraught with memories of the Wycliffes. One of the brasses records the death of the last of the family. Sir Antonio a-More’s portrait of the great Reformer still hangs in the rectory, where it has been treasured for many generations.

You may return from this pilgrimage by the way you went, or walk on through Ovington to Winston, and there take the train to Barnard Castle. I preferred the banks of Tees, for their attractions are not soon exhausted. One of the houses at Greta, which was a famous hostelry in the days of stage-coaches, is now a not happy-looking farm-house. It has seen sore changes. Once noise and activity, and unscrupulous[Pg 143] profits, when the compact vehicles with the four panting horses rattled up to the door at all hours of the day or night, conveying passengers from London to Edinburgh. Now, a silence seldom disturbed save by the river’s voice, and time for reflection, and leisure to look across to its neighbour, wherein the wayfarer or angler may still find rest and entertainment. From Greta Bridge to Boroughbridge was considered the best bit of road in all the county. Now it is encroached on by grass, and the inns which are not shut up look altogether dejected, especially that one where the dining-room has been converted into a stable.

If you have read the ballad of The Felon Sow, we will remember it while repassing the park:

“She was mare than other three,
The grisliest beast that e’er might be,
Her head was great and gray:
She was bred in Rokeby wood,
There were few that thither goed,
That came on live away.
“Her walk was endlong Greta side,
There was no bren that durst her bide,
That was froe heaven to hell;
Nor ever man that had that might,
That ever durst come in her sight,
Her force it was so fell.

“If ye will any more of this,
In the Fryers of Richmond ’tis
In parchment good and fine;
And how Fryar Middleton that was so kend,
At Greta Bridge conjured a feind
In likeness of a swine.”

I got back to Barnard Castle in time for the omnibus, which starts at half-past five for Middleton-in-Teesdale, nine miles distant on the road to the hills. I was the only passenger, and taking my seat by the side of the driver, found him very willing to talk. The road ascends immediately after crossing the bridge to a finely-wooded district, hill and dale, rich in oak, ash, and beech. Deepdale beck yawns on the left, and every mile opens fresh enjoyment to the eye, and revives associations. Lartington is a pretty village, which hears night and morn and all day long the tremulous voice of innumerable leaves. “Them’s all Roman Catholics there,” said the driver, as we left it behind; and by-and-by, when we came to Cotherstone—Cuthbert’s Town—“Here ’tis nothin’ but cheese and[Pg 144] Quakers.” There is, however, something else, for here it was

“——the Northmen came,
Fix’d on each vale a Runic name,
Rear’d high their altar’s rugged stone,
And gave their gods the land they won.
Then, Balder, one bleak garth was thine,
And one sweet brooklet’s silver line,
And Woden’s Croft did title gain
From the stern Father of the Slain;
But to the Monarch of the Mace,
That held in fight the foremost place,
To Odin’s son, and Sifia’s spouse,
Near Stratforth high they paid their vows,
Remembered Thor’s victorious fame,
And gave the dell the Thunderer’s name.”

A delightful day might be spent hereabouts in exploring the glen of the Balder, and the romantic scenery where it flows into Tees; the Hagg crowned by fragments of a stronghold of the Fitzhughs; and the grand rock on the river’s brink known as Pendragon Castle. The whole region for miles around was once thickly covered by forest.

The pace is sober, for some of the hills are steep. We come to Romaldkirk, and the folk, as everywhere else along the road, step from their houses to inquire for parcels or replies to messages, and the driver has a civil word for all, and discharges his commissions promptly. He is an important man in the dale, the roving link between the villagers and the town—“Barn’d Cas’l’,” as they say, slurring it into two syllables. It does one good to see with how much good-nature the service can be performed.

Hill after hill succeeds, the woods are left behind, the country opens bare and wild, rolling away to the dark fells that look stern in the distance. Big stones bestrew the slopes; here and there a cottage seems little better than a pile of such stones covered with slabs of slate or coarse thatch. “Poorish wheat hereabouts,” says the driver, as he points to the pale green fields. The farms vary in size from seventy to one hundred and fifty acres; and he thinks it better to grow grass than grain. Then we come in sight of Middleton, and presently he pulls up, while a boy and girl get inside, and he tells me they are his children, who have come out half a mile to meet him.

Middleton, with its eighteen hundred inhabitants, has the appearance of a little metropolis. There are inns and shops which betoken an active trade, maintained probably by the[Pg 145] lead mines in the neighbourhood. I did not tarry, for we had spent two hours on the journey, and I wished to sleep at the High Force Inn, nearly five miles farther. We are still on the Durham side of the Tees, with the river now in sight, winding along its shallow, stony bed. The road is an almost continuous ascent, whereby the landscape appears to widen, and every minute the shadows grow broader and darker across the vale. At last the sun drops behind the hill-top, and the lights playing on the summits of the fells deepen into purple, umber, and black, darkest where the slopes and ridges intersect. Cliffs topped with wood break through the acclivities on the left, and here and there plantations of spruce and larch impart a sense of shelter. Every step makes us feel that we are approaching a region where Nature partakes more of the stern than the gentle.

There is room for improvement. I interrupted three boys in their pastime of pelting swallows, to examine them in reading; but they only went “whiles to skule,” and only one could read, and that very badly, in the “Testyment.”

I left Winch Bridge and the cascade which it bestrides about three miles from Middleton, unvisited, for I was tired with much rambling. The clean white front of High Force Inn gleaming at last through the twilight was a welcome sight; and not less so the excellent tea, which was quickly set before me. Cleanliness prevails, and unaffected civility; and the larder, though in a lone spot a thousand feet above the sea, contributes without stint to the hungry appetite.

It happened that I was the only guest: hence nothing disturbed the tranquil hour. Ere long I was looking from my chamber window on the dim outlines of the hills, and the thick wood below that intercepts the view of the valley beneath. Then I became aware of a solemn roar—the voice of High Force in its ceaseless plunge. Fitfully it came at times, now fuller, now weaker, as the night breeze rose and fell, and the tree-tops whispered in harmony therewith.

I listened awhile, sensible of a charm in the sound of falling water; then pushing the sash to its full height, the sound still reached me on the pillow. Strange fancies came with it: now the river seemed to utter sonorous words; anon the hills talked dreamily one with another, and the distant sea sent up a reply; and then all became vague—and I slept the sleep of the weary.

[Pg 146]


CHAPTER XVIII.

Early Morn—High Force—Rock and Water—A Talk with the Waitress—Hills and Cottages—Cronkley Scar—The Weel—Caldron Snout—Soothing Sound—Scrap from an Album—View into Birkdale—A Quest for Dinner—A Westmoreland Farm—Household Matters—High Cope Nick—Mickle Fell—The Boys’ Talk—The Hill-top—Glorious Prospect—A Descent—Solitude and Silence—A Moss—Stainmore—Brough—The Castle Ruin—Reminiscences.

The next day dawned, and a happy awaking was mine, greeted by the same rushing voice, no longer solemn and mysterious, but chanting, as one might imagine, a morning song of praise. I looked out, and saw with pleasurable surprise the fall full in view from the window: a long white sheet of foam, glistening in the early sunbeams.

All the slope between the inn and the fall is covered by a thick plantation of firs, ash, hazel, and a teeming undergrowth, and through this by paths winding hither and thither you have to descend. Now the path skirts precipitous rocks, hung with ivy, now drops gently among ferns to an embowered seat, until at a sudden turn the noise of the fall bursts grandly upon you. A little farther, and the trees no longer screening, you see the deep stony chasm, and the peat-stained water making three perpendicular leaps down a precipice seventy feet in height. It is a striking scene, what with the grim crags, the wild slopes, and the huge masses lying at the bottom and in the bed of the stream; and the impressive volume of sound.

We can scramble down to the very foot of the limestone bluff that projects in the middle, leaving a channel on each side, down one of which a mere thread of water trickles; but in time of flood both are filled, and then the fall is seen and heard in perfection. Now we can examine the smooth water-worn cliff, and see where something like crystallization has[Pg 147] been produced by a highly-heated intrusive rock. And here and there your eye will rest with pleasure on patches of moss and fern growing luxuriantly in dripping nooks and crannies.

You see how the water, rebounding from its second plunge, shoots in a broken mass of foam into the brown pool below, and therein swirls and swashes for a while, and then escapes by an outlet that you might leap across, talking to thousands of stones as it spreads itself out in the shallow bed. Standing with your back to the fall, and looking down the stream, the view, shut in by the trees on one side, by a rough grassy acclivity on the other, is one that lures you to explore it, striding along the rugged margin, or from one lump of rock to another.

Then returning to the diverging point in the path, we mount to the top of the fall. Here the scene is, if possible, wilder than below. The rock, as far as you can see, is split into a thousand crevices, and through these the river rushes to its leap. Such a river-bed you never saw before. The solid uprising portions are of all dimensions, and you step from one to the other without first feeling if they are steady. Here and there you climb, and coming to the top of the bluff you can look over and watch the water in its headlong plunge. The brown tinge contrasts beautifully with the white foam; and lying stretched on the sun-warmed rock, your eye becomes fascinated by the swift motion and the dancing spray. Then sit awhile on the topmost point and look up stream, and enjoy the sight of the rapids, and the multitudinous cascades. Though the rocks now lift their heads above water you will notice that all are smoothly worn by the floods of ages. The view is bounded there by a mighty high-backed fell; and in the other direction brown moorlands meet the horizon, all looking glad in the glorious sunshine.

I loitered away two hours around the fall in unbroken solitude, and returned to the inn to breakfast before all the dew was dry. The house was built about twenty-five years ago, said the waitress, when the road was made to connect the lead mines of Alston Moor, in Cumberland, with the highways of Durham. There was not much traffic in the winter, for then nobody travelled but those who were compelled—farmers, cattle-dealers, and miners; but in summer the place was kept alive by numerous visitors to the fall. Most were contented[Pg 148] with a sight of High Force; but others went farther, and looked at Caldron Snout and High Cope Nick. Sometimes a school came up for a day’s holiday; they had entertained one the day before—two wagon-loads of Roman Catholic children. True enough, our omnibus had met them returning.

The house looks across the valley to Holwick Fell, and were it not for the trees in front, would have but a bare and, at times, desolate prospect. The whole premises are as clean as whitewash can make them; even the stone fences are whitewashed. The Duke of Cleveland is proprietor: he ought to be proud of his tenants.

How glad the morning seemed when I stepped forth again into the sunshine to travel a few miles farther up the Tees. The road still ascends and curves into the bleak and lonely fells, which stretch across the west of Durham and into Cumberland. In winter they are howling wastes, and in snow-storms appalling, as I remember from painful experience. But in summer there is a monotonous grandeur about them comparable only with that of the ocean.

Just beyond the sixteenth milestone from Alston I got over the fence, and followed a path edging away on the left towards the river. It crosses pastures, little meadows, coarse swampy patches sprinkled with flowers; disappears in places; but while you can see the river or a cottage you need not go astray. There is something about the cottages peculiar to a hill-country: the ground-floor is used as a barn and stable, and the dwelling-rooms are above, approached by a stone stair on the outside. With their walls freshly whitewashed, they appear as bright specks widely scattered in the wilderness; and though no tree adorns or shelters them, they betoken the presence of humanity, and there is comfort in that. And withal they enjoy the purest breezes, the most sparkling water, flowery meadows, and hills purple with heather when summer is over. If you go to the door the inmates will invite you to sit, and listen eagerly to the news you bring. Meanwhile you may note the evidences of homely comfort and apparent contentment. A girl who was pulling dock-leaves—“dockans,” as she called them—told me they were to be boiled for the pig.

Ere long Cronkley Scar comes in sight—a tremendous sombre precipice of the rock known to geologists as greenstone, in which, if learned in such matters, you may peruse[Pg 149] many examples of metamorphic phenomena. And hereabouts, as botanists tell us, there are rare and interesting plants to be discovered. The Scar is on the Yorkshire side; but the stream is here so shallow and full of stones, that to wade across would only be an agreeable footbath.

Now the stream makes a bend between two hills, and looking up the vale we see the lower slopes of Mickle Fell—the highest mountain in Yorkshire. We shall perhaps climb to its summit ere the day be many hours older.

From the last dwelling—a farm-house—I mounted the hill, and followed a course by compass to hit the river above the bend. Soon all signs of habitation were left behind, and the trackless moorland lay before me, overspread with a dense growth of ling, wearisome to walk through. And how silent! A faint sound of rushing water comes borne on the breeze, and that is all.

Then we come to the declivity, and the view opens to the north-west, swell beyond swell, each wilder in aspect, as it seems, than the other. And there beneath us glisten the shining curves of the Tees. The compass has not misled us, and we descend to the Weel, as this part of the river is called, where for about a mile its channel deepens, and the current is so tranquil that you might fancy it a lengthened pool. We go no higher, but after gazing towards the fells in which the river draws its source, we turn and follow the Weel to a rift in the hill-side. The current quickens, the faint sound grows louder, and presently coming to the brink of a rocky chasm we behold the cataract of Caldron Snout. The Tees here makes a plunge of two hundred feet, dashing from rock to rock, twisting, whirling, eddying, and roaring in its dark and tortuous channel. The foam appears the whiter, and the grass all the greener, by contrast with the blackness of the riven crags, and although no single plunge equals that at High Force, you will perhaps be more impressed here. You are here shut out from the world amid scenes of savage beauty, and the sense of isolation begets a profounder admiration of the natural scene, and enjoyment of the manifold watery leaps, as you pause at each while scrambling down the hill-side.

About half-way down the fall is crossed by a bridge—a rough beam only, with a rude hand-rail—from which you can see the fall in either direction and note the stony bends of[Pg 150] the river below till they disappear behind the hill. From near its source to Caldron the Tees divides Durham from Westmoreland, and in all its further downward course from Yorkshire.

Let me sit for an hour by the side of a fall, and watch the swift play of the water, and hear its ceaseless splash and roar, and whatever cobwebs may have gathered in my mind, from whatever cause, are all swept clean away. Serenity comes into my heart, and the calm sunshine pervades my existence for months—nay, years afterwards. And what a joy it is to recall—especially in a London November—or rather to renew, the happy mood inspired by the waterfall among the mountains!

I have at times fancied that the effect of the noise is somewhat similar to that described of narcotics by those who indulge therein. The mind forgets the body, and thinks whatsoever it listeth. Whether or not, my most various and vivid day-dreams have been dreamt by the side of a waterfall.

It seems, moreover, at such times, as if memory liked to ransack her old stores. And now I suddenly recollected Hawkeye’s description of the tumbling water at Glenn’s Falls, as narrated in The Last of the Mohicans, which I had read when a boy. Turn to the page, reader, and you will admire its faithfulness. Anon came a rhyme which a traveller who went to see the falls of the Clyde sixty years ago, tells us he copied from the album at Lanark:

“What fools are mankind,
and how strangely inclin’d,
to come from all places
with horses and chaises,
by day and by dark,
to the Falls of Lanark.
“For good people after all,
what is a waterfall?
It comes roaring and grumbling,
and leaping and tumbling,
and hopping and skipping,
and foaming and dripping,
and struggling and toiling,
and bubbling and boiling,
and beating and jumping,
and bellowing and thumping—
I have much more to say upon
both Linn and Bonniton;
but the trunks are tied on,
and I must be gone.”
[Pg 151]

Southey, who read everything, perhaps saw this before he wrote his Fall of Lodore.

And we, too, must be gone; and now that we have seen

“Where Tees in tumult leaves his source
Thund’ring o’er Caldron and High Force,”

we will gather ourselves up and travel on.

But whither? I desired a public-house; but no house of any sort was to be seen—nothing but the scrubby hill-side, and mossy-headed rocks peeping out with a frown at the mortal who had intruded into their dominion. The end of a meadow, however, comes over the slope on the other side of the bridge; perhaps from the top of the slope something may be discerned. Yes, there was a cottage. I hastened thither, but it proved to be an old tenement now used as a byre. I looked farther, and, about a mile distant, saw two farm-houses. The view had opened into Birkdale, and there, on the left, rose the huge, long-backed form of Mickle Fell, whose topmost height was my next aim, and I could test the hospitality of the houses on the way thither.

We are now in a corner of Westmoreland which, traversed by Birkdale, presents diversified alpine features. The valley is green; the meadows are flowery and dotted with cattle; the hills, stern and high, are browsed by sheep; and Maize Beck, a talkative mountain stream, flows with many a stony bend along the bottom—the dividing line between Westmoreland and Yorkshire. There are no trees; and for miles wide the only building is here and there a solitary byre.

My inquiry for dinner at the first of the two houses was answered by an invitation to sit down, and ready service of bread, butter, milk, and cheese. I made a capital repast, and drank as much genuine milk at one sitting as would charge a Londoner’s supply for two months. The father was out sheep-shearing, leaving the mother with a baby and four big children at home. But only the eldest boy looked healthy; the others had the sodden, unwashed appearance supposed to be peculiar to dwellers in the alleys of large towns. No wonder, I thought, for the kitchen, the one living room, was as hot and stifling as a Bohemian cottage. The atmosphere was close and disagreeably odorous; a great turf fire burned in the grate, and yet the outer door was kept as carefully shut as if July breezes were hurtful. I tried to make the good woman aware of the[Pg 152] ill consequences of bad air; but old habits are not to be changed in an hour. She didn’t think that overmuch wind could do anybody good, and it was best for babies to keep them warm. They managed to do without the doctor: only fetched him when they must. There was none nearer than Middleton. Six weeks previously, when baby was born, they had to send for him in a hurry; but Tees was in flood, and Caldron Snout so full that the water ran over the bridge; her boy, however, got across, and rode away the nine miles at full speed on his urgent errand.

What with chairs and tables, racks and shelves, the dresser, the clock, the settee under the window, three dogs, a cat, and a pigeon—to say nothing of the family—the room was almost as crowded as the steerage of a ship. The pigeon—the only one in the dale—had come from parts unknown a few weeks before of its own accord, and was now a household pet, cooing about the floor, and on civil terms with the cat. But the children feared it would die in winter, as they had no peas in those parts, nothing but grass. Sixty acres of “mowing grass” and a run for sheep comprise the farm.

While the Ordnance Survey was in Westmoreland, two sappers lodged in the house for months; and the eldest son, an intelligent lad, had much to tell concerning their operations. What pains they took; how many times they toiled to the top of Mickle Fell only to find that up there it was too windy for their observations, and so forth. Sometimes a stranger came and wanted a guide to High Cope Nick, and then he went with his father. Two photographers had come the preceding autumn, and took views of the Nick on pieces of paper with a box that had a round glass in it; but the views wasn’t very good ones.

High Cope Nick, as its name indicates, is a deep notch or chasm in the hills overlooking the low country of Westmoreland about four miles from this Birkdale farm. “It’s nigh hand as brant[D] as a wall,” said the boy; “you can hardly stand on’t.” It is one of the scenes which I reserve for a future holiday.

[D] Steep.

The woman could not hear of taking more than sixpence for my dinner, and thought herself overpaid with that. The two boys were going up the fell to look after sheep, so we started together, crossed the beck on stepping-stones, followed[Pg 153] by two dogs, and soon began the long ascent. There is no path: you stride through the heather, through the tough bent, across miry patches, and stony slopes, past swallow-holes wherein streams of water disappear in heavy rains; and find at times by the side of the beck a few yards of smooth sweet turf. The beck is noisy in its freakish channel, yet pauses here and there and fills a sober pool, wherein you may see fish, and perchance a drowned sheep. I saw four on the way upwards, and the sight of the swollen carcases made me defer drinking till nearer the source. I could hardly believe the lads’ word that fifteen hundred sheep were feeding on the hill, so few did they appear scattered over the vast surface.

“How many sheep do you consider fair stock to the acre?” asked Sir John Sinclair during one of his visits to the hills.

“Eh! mun, ye begin at wrang end,” was the answer. “Ye should ax how many acres till a sheep.” Of such land as this the North Riding contains four hundred thousand acres.

Besides the sheep, added the youth, “there’s thirty breeding galloways on the hill. There’s nothing pays better than breeding galloways. You can sell the young ones a year or year and a half old for eight pounds apiece, and there’s no much fash wi’ ’em.”

When the time came to part, I sat down and tried to give the boys a peep at their home through my telescope. But in vain; they could distinguish nothing, see nothing but a haze of green or brown. On the other hand, they could discern a sheep or some moving object at a great distance which I could not discover at all with the glass. They turned aside to their flock, and I onwards up the hill. The beck had diminished to a rill, and presently I came to its source—a delicious spring bubbling from a rock, and took a quickening draught.

At length the acclivity becomes gentle, the horizon spreads wider and wider, and we reach the cairn erected by the sappers on the summit of Mickle Fell, 2580 feet above the sea—the highest, as before remarked, of the Yorkshire mountains. Glorious is the prospect! Hill and dale in seemingly endless succession—there rolling away to the blue horizon, here bounded by a height that hides all beyond. In the west appears the great gathering of mountains which keep watch over the Lake country, there Skiddaw, there Helvellyn, yonder Langdale Pikes, and the Old Man of Coniston; summit after summit, their outlines crossing and recrossing in picturesque[Pg 154] confusion. Conspicuous in the north Cross Fell—in which spring the head-waters of Tees—heaves his brown back in majestic sullenness some three hundred feet higher than the shaggy brow we stand on. Hence you can trace the vale of Tees for miles. Then gazing easterly, we catch far, far away the Cleveland hills, and, following round the circle, the blue range of the Hambletons, then Penyghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough, with many others, bring us round once more to the west. Again and again will your eye travel round the glorious panorama.

Mickle Fell is one of the great summits in the range described by geologists as the Pennine chain—the backbone of England. Its outline is characteristic of that of the county; bold and abrupt to the west; sloping gradually down to the east. Hence the walk up from High Force or Birkdale calls for no arduous climbing, it is only tedious. From the western extremity you look down into the vale of the Eden, where the green meadows, the broad fields of grain, dotted with trees and bordered with hedgerows, appear the more beautiful from contrast with the brown tints of the surrounding hills.

Now for the descent. I scanned the great slope on the south for a practicable route, and fixed beforehand on the objects by which to direct my steps when down in the hollows—where scant outlook is to be had. Lowest of all lies what appears to be a light green meadow; beyond it rises a Mickle Fell on a small scale: I will make my way to the top of that, and there take a new departure. All between is a wild expanse of rock and heather. A sober run soon brought me to the edge of a beck, and keeping along its margin, now on one side, now on the other, choosing the firmest ground, I made good progress; and with better speed, notwithstanding the windings, than through the tough close heather. Every furlong the beck grows wider and fuller, and here and there the banks curve to the form of an oval basin smooth with short grass; favourite haunts for the sheep. The silly creatures take to flight nimbly as goats at the appearance of an intruder, and I lie down to enjoy the solitude. The silence is oppressive—almost awful. Shut in already by the huge hill-sides, I am still more hidden in this hollow. The beck babbles; the fugitive sheep all unseen bleat timidly; a curlew comes with its melancholy cry wheeling[Pg 155] round and round above my head; but the overwhelming silence loses nothing of its force. At times a faint hollow roar, as if an echo from the distant ocean, seems to fill all the air for an instant, and die mysteriously away. It is a time to commune with one’s own heart and be still: to feel how poor are artificial pleasures compared to those which are common to all—the simplest, which can be had for nothing—namely, sunshine, air, and running water, and the fair broad earth to walk upon.

Onwards. The beck widens, and rushes into a broad stony belt to join a stream hurrying down the vale from the west. I crossed, and came presently to the supposed bright green meadow. It was a swamp—a great sponge. To go round it would be tedious: I kept straight on, and by striding from one rushy hummock to another, though not without difficulty in the middle, where the sponge was all but liquid, and the rushes wide apart, I got across. Then the smaller hill began: it was steep, and without a break in the heather, compelling a toilsome climb. However, it induces wholesome exercise. From the top I saw Stainmoor, and as I had anticipated, the road which runs across it from Barnard Castle into Westmoreland. I came down upon it about four miles from Brough.

It is a wild region. A line of tall posts is set up along the way, as in an alpine pass, suggestive of winter snows deep and dangerous. By-and-by we come to a declivity, and there far below we see the vale of Eden, and descend towards it, the views continually changing with the windings of the road. Then a hamlet, with children playing on the green, and geese grazing among the clumps of gorse, and trees, and cultivation; and all the while the hills appear to grow more and more mountainous as we descend. Then Brough comes in sight—the little hard-featured Westmoreland town—whitewashed walls, blue slate roofs, the church a good way off on an eminence, and beyond that, on a grassy bluff, the ruins of a castle partly screened by trees.

I wanted rest and refreshment, and found both at the Castle Inn. An hour later I strolled out to the ruin. The mount on which it stands rises steeply from the Helbeck, a small tributary of the Eden, and terminates precipitously towards the west. The keep still rears itself proudly aloft, commanding the shattered towers, the ancient gateway, the dismantled[Pg 156] walls and broken stair, and the country for miles around. Fallen masses lie partly buried in the earth, and here and there above the rough stonework overhangs as if ready to follow. While sauntering now within, now without, you can look across the cultivated landscape, or to the town, and the great slope of Helbeck Fell behind it; and you will perhaps deem it a favourable spot to muse away the hour of sunset, when the old pile is touched with golden light. Thick as the walls are, Time and dilapidations have made them look picturesque. One of the spoilers was William the Lion of Scotland, who finding here a Norman fortress in 1174, took it, along with other Westmoreland strongholds; and was taken himself in the course of the same year at Alnwick. The Rey Cross on Stainmoor—still a monumental site—marked the southern limit of the Scottish principality of Cumberland; hence, the hungry reivers north of Tweed had always an excuse for crossing over to beat the bounds after their manner. Twice afterwards was Brough Castle repaired, and burnt to a shell. The second restoration was carried out in 1659 by the Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, who recorded the fact on a stone over the entrance, enumerating all her titles, among which were “High Sheriffess by inheritance of the county of Westmoreland, and Lady of the Honour of Skipton,” and ending with a text of Scripture—Isaiah lviii, 12. After the last fire, whosoever would pillaged the castle; the stone bearing the Countess’s inscription was taken down, and used in the repair of Brough mill, and the ruins became a quarry, out of which were built sheds and cottages. The large masses of masonry, which now lie embedded in the earth, fell in 1792.

According to antiquaries the castle occupies the centre of what had been a Roman station; for Brough was the ancient Verteræ, where coins of the emperors have been dug up, and the highway along which the legions marched to and from Carlisle, or the Picts’ Wall, is still traceable, known in the neighbourhood as the Maiden Way.

It was a lovely evening. The sun went down in splendour behind the Cumbrian hills, and when the radiance faded from the topmost summits, and gave place to dusky twilight, I went back to mine inn.

[Pg 157]


CHAPTER XIX.

Return into Yorkshire—The Old Pedlar—Oh! for the Olden Time—“The Bible, indeed!”—An Emissary—Wild Boar Fell—Shunnor Fell—Mallerstang—The Eden—A Mountain Walk—Tan Hill—Brown Landscape—A School wanted—Swaledale—From Ling to Grass—A Talk with Lead Miners—Stonesdale—Work for a Missionary—Thwaite—A Jolly Landlord—A Ruined Town—The School at Muker—A Nickname—Buttertubs Pass—View into Wensleydale—Lord Wharncliffe’s Lodge—Simonstone—Hardraw Scar—Geological Phenomenon—A Frozen Cone—Hawes.

My next morning’s route took me back into Yorkshire by a way which, leaving the road to Kirkby Stephen on the right, approaches Nine Standards, High Seat, and the other great summits which guard the head of Swaledale. The sight of these hills, and the gradual succession of cultivation and woods by untilled slopes patched with gorse and bracken, impart an interest to the walk. A modern battlemented edifice—Hougill Castle—appears on the left, the residence of a retired physician, and beyond it the wild region of Stainmoor Forest; and here even upon its outskirts we can see how appropriate is the name Stonymoor.

When near the hills I overtook an old pedlar, and slackened my pace to have a talk with him. At times I had fancied my knapsack, of less than ten pounds’ weight, a little too heavy; but he, though aged sixty, carried a pack of forty pounds, and when in his prime could have borne twice as much. He took matters easily now; walked slowly and rested often. From talking about schools, he began to contrast the present time with the past. Things were not half so good now as in the olden time, when monasteries all over the land took proper care alike of religion and the poor. Where was there anything like religion now-a-days, except among the Roman Catholics? Without them England would be in a miserable plight; but he took comfort, believing from certain signs that[Pg 158] the old days would return—that England would once more acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope.

“Never,” I replied; “that’s not possible in a country where the Bible circulates freely; and where all who will may read it.”

“The Bible!” he answered sneeringly—“the Bible! What’s the Bible? It’s a very dangerous and improper book for the people to read. What should they know about it? The Church is the best judge. The Bible, indeed!”

Such talk surprised me. I had heard that the Papists employ emissaries of all degrees in the endeavour to propagate their doctrines; but never met with one before who spoke out his notions so unreservedly; and I could have imagined myself thrown back some five hundred years, and the old fellow to be the spokesman in the Somersetshire ballad:

“Chill tell thee what good vellowe,
Before the vriers went hence,
A bushell of the best wheate
Was zold for vourteen pence,
And vorty egges a penny,
That were both good and newe:
And this che zay my zelf have zeene,
And yet ich am no Jewe.


“Ich care not for the bible booke,
’Tis too big to be true.
Our blessed Ladyes psalter
Zhall for my money goe;
Zuch pretty prayers, as therein bee,
The bible cannot zhowe.”

I began to defend the rights of conscience, when, as we came to the foot of the first great hill, the old packman advised me to reconsider my errors, bade me good day, and turned into a cottage; perhaps to sell calico; perhaps to sow tares for the keeper of the keys at Rome.

I made a cut-off, and came upon the road half way up the hill, leaving sultriness for a breezy elevation. Soon wide prospects opened all around me: vast green undulations, dotted with sheep and geese, swelling up into the distant hills and moorlands. That great group of heights on the right—Wild Boar Fell and Shunnor Fell—wherein Nature displays but few of her smiles, is the parent of not a few of Yorkshire’s dales, becks, and waterfalls. In those untrodden[Pg 159] solitudes rise Swale and Ure; there lurks the spring from which Eden bursts to flow through gloomy Mallerstang, and transfer its allegiance, as we have seen, to other counties, and the fairest of Cumbrian vales. Our topographical bard, makes the forest of the darksome glen thus address the infant stream:

“O, my bright lovely brook whose name doth bear the sound
Of God’s first garden-plot, th’ imparadised ground,
Wherein he placed man, from whence by sin he fell:
O, little blessed brook, how doth my bosom swell
With love I bear to thee, the day cannot suffice
For Mallerstang to gaze upon thy beauteous eyes.”

Talk of royal tapestries, what carpet can compare with the springy turf that borders the road whereon you walk with lightsome step, happier than a king, and having countless jewels to admire in the golden buds of the gorse? It is a delightful mountain walk, now rising, now falling, but always increasing the elevation; so cool and breezy in comparison with the sultry temperature of the road we left below. And the grouping of the summits around the broad expanse changes slowly as you advance, and between the shades of yellow and green, brown and purple, the darker shadows denote the courses of the dales. Wayfarers are few; perhaps a boy trudges past pulling a donkey, which drags a sledge laden with turf or hay; or a pedlar with crockery; but for miles your only living companions are sheep and geese.

With increasing height we have less of grass and more of ling, and at ten miles from Brough we come to the public-house on Tan Hill, situate in the midst of a desolate brown upland, in which appear the upreared timbers of coalpits, some abandoned, others in work. The house shows signs of isolation in a want of cleanliness and order; but you can get oaten bread, cheese, and passable beer, and have a talk with the pitmen, and the rustics who come in for a drink ere starting homewards with cartloads of coal. Seeing the numerous family round the hostess, I inquired about their school; on which one of the black fellows—a rough diamond—took up the question. There had been a dame school in one of the adjacent cottages, but the old ’oman gave it up, and now the bairns was runnin’ wild. ’Twasn’t right of Mr. ——, the proprietor of the mines, to take away 5000l. a year, and not give back some on’t for a school. It made a man’s heart sore[Pg 160] to see bairns wantin’ schoolin’ and no yabble to get it. ’Twasn’t right, that ’t wasn’t.

Apparently an honest miner lived beneath that coaly incrustation, possessed of good sense and sensibility. I quite agreed with him, and recommended him to talk about a school whenever he could get a listener.

About a mile from the public-house the road leaves the brown region, and descends rapidly to the Swale, crossing where the stream swells in rainy weather to a noisy cataract, and Swaledale stretches away before us, a grand mountain valley, yet somewhat severe in aspect. Gentle, as its name imports, appears misapplied to a rushing stream; but a long course lies before it: past Grinton, past picturesque Richmond, ancient ruins, towers of barons, and cloisters of monks, and to the broad Vale of York, where, calmed by old experience, it flows at Myton gently into the Ure. And not only gentle but sacred, for Swale has been called the Jordan of Yorkshire, because of the multitudinous baptism of the earliest converts therein by Paulinus; “above ten thousand men, besides women and children, in one day,” according to the chronicler, who, perhaps to disarm incredulity, explains that the apostle having baptized ten, sent them into the stream to baptize a hundred, and so multiplied his assistants as the rite proceeded, while he prayed on the shore.

By-and-by we meet signs of inhabitants—a house or two; a few fields of mowing grass; the heaps of refuse at lead-mines, and our walk derives a pleasurable interest from the hourly change, the bleak, barren, and lonely, for the sheltered, the cultivated, and inhabited. More and more are the hill-sides wavy with grass as we descend, field after field shut in by stone fences, and the dalesmen are beginning to mow. The time of the hay harvest has come for the mountains: a month later than in the south. How beautifully the bright green contrasts with the dark purple distances, and softens the features of the dale! And as I looked from side to side, or around to the rear, as the fallen road made the hills seem higher, and saw how much Swaledale has in common with a valley of the Alps, I felt that here the desire for mountain scenery might be satisfied; and I found myself watching for the first field of grain with as much interest as I had watched for vines in the Val Mont Joie.

I overtook a party of lead-miners, boys and men, going[Pg 161] home from work. The boys could read; but there was only one of them who really liked reading. “He’s a good quiet boy,” said the father; “likes to set down wi’ his book o’ evenin’s; t’others says they is tired. He can draw a bit, too; and I’d like well to send’n to a good skule; but I only gets two pounds a month, and that’s poor addlings.” And one of the young men wished that digging for lead didn’t make him so tired, for readin’ made him fall asleep, and yet he wanted to get on with his books. “It don’t seem right,” he added, “that a lad should want a bit o’ larnin’ and not get it.” I said a few words about the value of habit, the steady growth of knowledge from only half an hour’s application continued day after day at the same hour, and the many ways of learning offered to us apart from books. The whole party listened with interest, and expressed their thanks when we parted at the hamlet of Stonesdale. The lad thought he’d try. He’d emigrate, only his wage was too low for saving.

If I had the missionary spirit, I would not go to Patagonia or Feejee; but to the out-of-the-way places in my own country, and labour trustfully there to remove some of the evils of ignorance. Any man who should set himself to such a work, thinking not more highly of himself than he ought to think, would be welcomed in every cottage, and become assured after a while, that many an eye would watch gladly for his coming. One of my first tasks should be to go about and pull up that old pedlar’s mischievous tares, and plant instead thereof a practical knowledge of common things.

With unlimited supplies of stone to draw on, the houses of Stonesdale are as rough and solid as if built by Druids. Every door has a porch for protection against storms, and round each window a stripe of whitewash betrays the rudimentary ornamental art of the inmates. A little farther, and coming to the village of Thwaite, I called at the Joiners’ Arms for a glass of ale. The landlord, mistaking my voice for that of one of his friends, came hastily into the kitchen with a jovial greeting, and apparently my being a stranger made no difference, for he sat down and began a hearty talk about business; about his boyhood, when he used to run after the hounds; about his children, and the school down at Muker. I laughed when he mentioned running after the hounds, for, as I saw him, he was, as Southey has it, “broad in the rear and abdominous in the van.” His agility had[Pg 162] been a fact, nevertheless. I praised the beer. That did not surprise him; he brewed it himself, out of malt and hops, too; not out of doctor’s stuff. I asked a question about Hawes, to which I was going over the Pass. “Oh!” said he, “it’s terribly fallen off for drink. I used to keep the inn there. A man could get a living in that day by selling drink; but now the Methodists and teetotallers have got in among ’em, and the place is quite ruined.” Manifestly my heavy friend looked at the question from the licensed victualler’s point of view. Concerning the school down at Muker, however he was not uncharitable. ’Twas a good school—a church school. There was a chapel of ease there to Grinton. Mr. Lowther did the preaching and looked after the school, and the people liked his teaching and liked his preaching. He brought the children on well, gals as well as the boys; that he did.

If, reader, you should go to Thwaite, and wish to have a chat with a jolly landlord, enquire for Matty John Ned, the name by which he is known in all the country round; remembering what happened in my experience. For when, late in the evening, I intimated to mine host of the White Hart at Hawes that Mr. Edward Alderson had recommended me to his house, he replied, doubtfully, “Alderson—Alderson at Thwaite do you say?”

“Yes, Alderson at Thwaite: a big man.”

“O-o-o-o-h! You mean Matty John Ned.”

Below Thwaite the dale expands; trees appear; you see Muker about three miles distant, the chief village of Upper Swaledale: still nothing but grass in the fields; and the same all the way to Reeth, ten miles from Muker. There you would begin to see grain. Not far from Thwaite I turned up a very steep, stony road on the right, which leads over the Buttertubs Pass into Wensleydale, and soon could look down on the village, and miles of Swaledale, and the hills beyond. Among those hills are glens and ravines, and many a spot that it would be a pleasure to explore, to say nothing of the lead mines, and the ‘gliffs’ of primitive manners; and any one who could be content with homely head-quarters at Muker or Thwaite might enjoy a roaming holiday for a week or two. And for lovers of the angle there are trout in the brooks.

The ascent is long as well as steep, and rough withal; but the views repay you every time you pause with more and more[Pg 163] of the features of a mountain pass. There are about it touches of savage grandeur, and the effect of these was heightened at the time I crossed by a deep dark cloud-shadow which overspread a league of the hills, and left the lower range of the dale in full sunshine. For a while the road skirts the edge of a deep glen on the left; it becomes deeper and deeper; there are little fields, and haymakers at work at the bottom; then the slopes change; the heather creeps down; the beck frets and foams, sending its noise upward to your ear; screes and scars intermingle their rugged forms and variations of colour; a waterfall rushes down the crags; and when these have passed before your eyes you find yourself on a desolate summit.

More desolate than any of the heights I had yet passed over. A broad table-land of turf bogs, coffee-coloured pools, stacks of turf, patches of rushes, and great boulders peeping everywhere out from among the hardy heather. The dark cloud still hung aloft, and the wind blew chill, making me quicken my pace, and feel the more pleasure when, after about half an hour, the view opened into Wensleydale. A valley appears on the right, with colts and cattle grazing on the bright green slopes; the road descends; stone abounds; fences, large gate-posts, all are made of stone; the road gets rougher; and by-and-by we come to Shaw, a little village under Stag Fell, by the side of a wooded glen, from which there rises the music of a mountain brook. On the left you see Lord Wharncliffe’s lodge, to which he resorts with his friends on the 12th of August, for the hills around are inhabited by grouse. Yonder the walls and windows of Hawes reflect the setting sun, and we see more of Wensleydale, where trees are numerous in the landscape.

Then another little village, Simonstone, where, passing through the public-house by the bridge, we find a path that leads us into a rocky chasm, about ninety feet deep and twice as much in width, the limestone cliffs hung with trees and bushes, here and there a bare crag jutting out, or lying shattered beneath; while, cutting the grassy floor in two, a lively beck ripples its way along. A bend conceals its source; but we saunter on, and there at the end of the ravine, where the cliffs advance and meet, we see the beck making one leap from top to bottom—and that is Hardraw Scar. The rock overhangs above, hence the water shoots clear of the cliff, and preserves an irregular columnar form, widening at the base[Pg 164] with bubbles and spray. You can go behind it, and look through the falling current against the light, and note how it becomes fuller and fuller of lines of beads as it descends, until they all commingle in the flurry below. Dr. Tyndall might make an observatory of this cool nook, the next time he investigates the cause of the noise in falling water, with the advantage of looking forth on the romantic and pleasing scene beyond. The geologist finds in the ravine a suggestive illustration on a small scale of what Niagara with thunderous plunge has been accomplishing through countless ages—namely, wearing away the solid rock, inch by inch, foot by foot, until in the one instance a river chasm is formed miles in length, and here, in the other, a pretty glen a little more than a furlong deep.

At the time I saw it, the quantity of water was probably not more than would fill a twelve-inch tube; but after heavy rains the upper stream forms a broad horseshoe fall as it rushes over the curving cliff. In the severe frost of 1740, when the Londoners were holding a fair on the Thames, Hardraw Scar was frozen, and, fed continually from the source above, it became at last a cone of ice, ninety feet in height, and as much in circumference at the base: a phenomenon that was long remembered by the gossips of the neighbourhood.

Hawes cheats the eye, and seems near, when by the road it is far off. On the way thither from Simonstone we cross the Ure, the river of Wensleydale, a broad and shallow, yet lively stream, infusing a charm into the landscape, which I saw at the right moment, when the evening shadows were creeping from the meadows up the hill-sides, and the water flashed with gold and crimson ripples. I lingered on the bridge till the last gleam vanished.

So grim and savage are the fells at the head of Wensleydale, that the country folk in times past regarded them with superstitious dread, and called the little brooks which there foster the infancy of Ure, ‘hell-becks’—a name of dread. But both river and dale change their character as they descend, the one flowing through scenes of exquisite beauty ere, united with the Swale, it forms the Ouse; and the dale broadens into the richest and most beautiful of all the North Riding.

[Pg 165]


CHAPTER XX.

Bainbridge—“If you had wanted a wife”—A Ramble—Millgill Force—Whitfell Force—A Lovely Dell—The Roman Camp—The Forest Horn, and the old Hornblower—Haymaking—A Cockney Raker—Wensleydale Scythemen—A Friend indeed—Addleborough—Curlews and Grouse—The First Teapot—Nasty Greens—The Prospect—Askrigg—Bolton Castle—Penhill—Middleham—Miles Coverdale’s Birthplace—Jervaux Abbey—Moses’s Principia—Nappa Hall—The Metcalfes—The Knight and the King—The Springs—Spoliation of the Druids—The great Cromlech—Legend—An ancient Village—Simmer Water—An advice for Anglers—More Legends—Counterside—Money-Grubbers—Widdale—Newby Head.

Four miles from Hawes down the dale is the pleasant village of Bainbridge, where the rustic houses, with flower-plots in front and roses climbing on the walls, and yellow stonecrop patching the roofs and fences, look out upon a few noble sycamores, and a green—a real village green. The hills on each side are lofty and picturesque; at one end, on a flat eminence, remains the site of a Roman camp; the Bain, a small stream coming from a lake some three miles distant, runs through the place in a bed of solid stone, to enter Ure a little below, and all around encroaching here and there up the hill-sides spread meadows of luxuriant grass. The simple rural beauty will gladden your eye, and—as with every stranger who comes to Bainbridge—win your admiration.

Wensleydale enjoys a reputation for cheese and fat pastures and wealth above the neighbouring dales, and appears to be fully aware of its superiority. The folk, moreover, consider themselves refined, advanced in civilization in comparison with the dwellers on the other side of Buttertubs: those whom we talked with yesterday. “Mr. White, if you had wanted a wife, do you think you could choose one out of Swaledale?” was the question put to me by a strapping village lass before I had been three hours in Bainbridge.

Fortune favoured me. I found here some worthy Quaker[Pg 166] friends of mine, who had journeyed from Oxfordshire to spend the holidays under the paternal rooftree. It was almost as if I had arrived at home myself; and although I had breakfasted at Hawes, they took it for granted that I would eat a lunch to keep up my strength till dinner-time. They settled a plan which would keep me till the morrow exploring the neighbourhood—a detention by no means to be repined at—and introduced me to a studious young dalesman, the village author, who knew every nook of the hills, every torrent and noteworthy site, and all the legends therewith associated for miles round, and who was to be my guide and companion.

Away we rambled across the Ure to a small wooded hollow at the foot of Whitfell, in the hills which shut out Swaledale. It conceals a Hardraw Scar in miniature, shooting from an overhanging ledge of dark shale, in which are numerous fossil shells. From this we followed the hill upwards to Millgill Force, a higher fall, on another beck, overshadowed by firs and the mountain elm, and which Nature keeps as a shrine approachable only by the active foot and willing heart. Now you must struggle through the tall grass and tangle on the precipitous sides high among the trees; now stride and scramble over the rocky masses in the bed of the stream. To sit and watch the fall deep under the canopy of leaves, catching glimpses of sunshine and of blue sky above, and to enjoy the delicious coolness, was the luxury of enjoyment. I could have sat for hours. Wordsworth came here during one of his excursions in Yorkshire; and if you wish to know what Millgill Force is, as painted by the pen, even the minute touches, read his description.

But there is yet another—Whitfell Force—higher up, rarely visited, for the hill is steep and the way toilsome. My guide, however, was not less willing to lead than I to follow, and soon we were scrambling through the deepest ravine of all, where the sides, for the most part, afford no footing, not even for a goat, but rise in perpendicular walls, or lean over at the top. Here again the lavish foliage is backed by the dark stiff spines of firs, and every inch of ground, every cranny, all but the impenetrable face of the rock, is hidden by rank grasses, trailing weeds, climbers, periwinkle, woodbine, and ferns, among which the hart’s-tongue throws out its large drooping clusters of graceful fronds. For greater part of the way we had to keep the bed of the stream; now[Pg 167] squeezing ourselves between mighty lumps of limestone that nearly barred the passage, so that the stream itself could not get through without a struggle; now climbing painfully over where the crevices were too narrow; now zigzagging from side to side wherever the big stones afforded foothold, not without slips and splashes that multiplied our excitement; now pausing on a broad slab to admire the narrowing chasm and all its exquisite greenery. My companion pointed out a crystal pool in which he sometimes bathed—a bath that Naiads themselves might envy. In this way we came at length to a semicircular opening, and saw the fall tumbling from crag to crag for sixty feet, and dispersing itself into a confused shower before it fell into the channel beneath. We both sat for a while without speaking, listening to the cool splash and busy gurgle as the water began its race down the hill; and, for my part, I felt that fatigue and labour were well repaid by the sight of so lovely a dell.

Then by other paths we returned to the village, and mounted to the flat-topped grassy mound, which Professor Phillips says, is an ancient gravel heap deposited by the action of water. The Romans, taking advantage of the site, levelled it, and established thereon a small camp. A statue and inscription and some other relics have been found, showing that in this remote spot, miles distant from their main highway, the conquerors had a military station, finding it no doubt troublesome to keep the dalesmen of their day in order.

Then we looked at a very, very old millstone, which now stands on its edge at the corner of a cottage doing motionless duty as one end of a kennel. The dog creeps in through the hole in the middle. There it stands, an unsatisfactory antique, for no one knows anything about it. Of two others, however, which we next saw, something is known—the old horn and the old hornblower. Bainbridge was chief place of the forest of Wensleydale—of which the Duke of Leeds is now Her Majesty’s Ranger, and at the same time hereditary Constable and Lord of Middleham Castle—and from time immemorial the “forest horn” has been blown on the green, every night at ten o’clock, from the end of September to Shrovetide, and it is blown still; for are not ancient customs all but immortal in our country? The stiff-jointed graybeard hearing that a curious stranger wished to look at the instrument, brought it forth. It is literally a horn—a large ox-horn, lengthened by[Pg 168] a hoop of now rusty tin, to make up for the pieces which some time or other had been broken from its mouth. He himself had put on the tin years ago. Of course I was invited to blow a blast, and of course failed. My companion, however, could make it speak lustily; but the old man did best, and blew a long-sustained note, which proved him to be as good an economist of breath as a pearl-diver. For years had he thus blown, and his father before him. I could not help thinking of the olden time ere roads were made, and of belated travellers saved from perishing in the snow by that nightly signal.

Now it was tea-time, and we had tea served after the Wensleydale manner—plain cakes and currant cakes, cakes hot and cold, and butter and cheese at discretion, with liberty to call for anything else that you like; and the more you eat and drink, the more will you rise in the esteem of your hospitable entertainers. And after that I went down to the hay-field, for it was a large field, and the farmer longed to get the hay all housed before sunset. They don’t carry hay in the dales, they ‘lead’ it; and the two boys from Oxfordshire were not a little proud in having the ‘leading’ assigned to them, seeing that they had nothing to do but ride the horse that drew the hay-sledge to and fro between the barn and the ‘wind-rows.’ Another difference is, that forks are not used except to pitch the hay from the sledge to the barn, all the rest—turning the swath, making into cocks—is done with the rake and by hand. So I took a rake, and beginning at one side of the field at the same time with an old hand, worked away so stoutly, that he had much ado to keep ahead of me. And so it went on, all hands working as if there were no such thing as weariness, load after load slipping away to the barn; and I unconsciously growing meritorious. “You’re the first cockney I ever saw,” said the stalwart farmer, “that knew how to handle a rake.” Had I stayed with him a week, he would have discovered other of my capabilities equally praiseworthy. We should have accomplished the task and cleared the field; but a black cloud rose in the west, and soon sent down a heavy shower, and compelled us to huddle up the remaining rows into cocks, and leave them till morning.

Must I confess it? Haymaking with the blithesome lasses in Ulrichsthal is a much more sprightly pastime than haymaking with the Quakers in Wensleydale.[Pg 169]

The hay harvest is an exciting time in the dales, for grass is the only crop, and the cattle have to be fed all through the long months of winter, and sometimes far into the backward spring. Hence every thing depends on the hay being carried and housed in good condition; and many an anxious look is cast at passing clouds and distant hill-tops to learn the signs of the weather. The dalesmen are expert in the use of the scythe; and numbers of them, after their own haymaking is over, migrate into Holderness and other grain-growing districts, and mow down the crops, even the wheat-fields, with remarkable celerity.

Many a hand had I to shake the next morning, when the moment came to say farewell. The student would not let me depart alone; he would go with me a few miles, and show me remarkable things by the way; and what was more, he would carry my knapsack. “You will have quite enough of it,” he said, “before your travel is over.” So I had to let him. We soon diverged from the road and began the ascent of Addleborough (Edel-burg,) that noble hill which rises on the south-east of Bainbridge, rearing its rocky crest to a height of more than fifteen hundred feet. We took the shortest way, climbing the tall fences, struggling through heather, striding across bogs, and disturbing the birds. The curlews began their circling flights above our heads, and the grouse took wing with sudden flutter, eight or ten brace starting from a little patch that, to my inexperience, seemed too small to hide a couple of chickens.

My companion talked as only a dalesman can talk—as one whose whole heart is in his subject. None but a dalesman, he said, could read Wordsworth aright, or really love him. He could talk of the history of the dale, and of the ways of the people. His great-grandmother was the first in Bainbridge who ever had a teapot. When tea first began to be heard of in those parts, a bagman called on an old farmer, and fascinated him so by praising the virtues of the new leaf from China, that with his wife’s approval he ordered a ‘stean’ to begin with. The trader ventured to suggest that a stone of tea would be a costly experiment, and sent them only a pound. Some months afterwards he called again for “money and orders,” and asked how the worthy couple liked the tea. “Them was the nastiest greens we ever tasted,” was the answer. “The parcel cam’ one morning afore dinner, so the[Pg 170] missus tied ’em up in a cloth and put ’em into t’ pot along wi’ t’ bacon. But we couldn’t abear ’em when they was done; and as for t’ broth, we couldn’t sup a drop on ’t.”

Having climbed the last steep slope, we sat down in a recess of the rocky frontlet which the hill bears proudly on its brow, and there, sheltered from the furious wind, surveyed the scene below. We could see across the opposite fells, in places, to the summits on the farther side of Swaledale, and down Wensleydale for miles, and away to the blue range of the Hambleton hills that look into the Vale of York. Bainbridge appears as quiet as if it were taking holiday; yonder, Askrigg twinkles under a thin white veil of smoke; and farther, Bolton Castle—once the prison of the unhappy Queen of Scots—shows its four square towers above a rising wood: all basking in the glorious sunshine. Yet shadows are not wanting. Many a dark shade marks where a glen breaks the hill-sides: some resemble crooked furrows, trimmed here and there with a dull green fringe, the tree-tops peeping out, and by these signs the beck we explored yesterday may be discerned on the opposite fell. Wherever that little patch of wood appears, there we may be sure a waterfall, though all unseen, is joining in the great universal chorus. Ure winds down the dale in many a shining curve, of which but one is visible between bright green meadow slopes, and belts, and clumps of wood, that broaden with the distance; and all the landscape is studded with the little white squares—the homes of the dalesmen.

Four miles below the stream rushes over great steps of limestone which traverse its bed at Aysgarth Force, and flows onwards past Penhill, the mountain of Wensleydale, overtopping Addleborough by three hundred feet; past Witton Fell and its spring, still known as Diana’s Bath; past Leyburn, and its high natural terrace—the Shawl, where the ‘Queen’s gap’ reminds the visitor once more of Mary riding through surrounded by a watchful escort; past Middleham, where the lordly castle of the King-maker now stands in hopeless ruin, recalling the names of Anne of Warwick, Isabella of Clarence, Edward IV., and his escape from the haughty baron’s snare; of Richard of Gloucester, and others who figure in our national history; past Coverdale, the birthplace of that Miles Coverdale whose translation of the Bible will keep his memory green through many a generation, and the site of[Pg 171] Coverham Abbey, of which but a few arches now remain. It was built in 1214 for the Premonstratensians, or White Canons, who never wore linen. Where the Cover falls into the Ure, spreads the meadow Ulshaw, the place from which Oswin dismissed his army in 651. Tradition preserves the memory of Hugh de Moreville’s seat, though not of the exact site, and thus associates the neighbourhood with one of the slayers of Becket. And at East Witton, beyond Coverham, are the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of Jervaux—Jarvis Abbey, as the country folk call it—a relic dating from 1156. Plunderers and the weather had their own way with it until 1805, when the Earl of Aylesbury, to whom the estate belongs, inspired by his steward’s discovery of a tesselated pavement, stayed the progress of dilapidation, and had the concealing heaps of grass-grown rubbish dug away. Old Jenkins, who died in 1670, remembered Jervaux as it stood in its prime: he had shared the dole given by the monks to poor wayfarers. He remembered, too, the mustering of the dalesmen under the banner of the good Lord Scroop of Bolton for the battle of Flodden, when

“With him did wend all Wensleydale
From Morton unto Morsdale moor;
All they that dwell by the banks of Swale
With him were bent in harness stour.”

At Spennithorne, a village over against Coverham, were born John Hutchinson, the opponent of Newton, and Hatfield the crazy, who fired at George III. The philosopher—who was a yeoman’s son—made some stir in his day by publishing Moses’s Principia, in opposition to Sir Isaac’s, and by his collection of fossils, out of which he contrived arguments against geologists. This collection was bequeathed to Dr. Woodward, and eventually became part of the museum in the University of Cambridge.

Looking across the dale, somewhat to the right of Bainbridge, we see Nappa Hall, long the seat of the Metcalfes. In Queen Mary’s time, Sir Christopher Metcalfe was sheriff, and he met the judges at York at the head of three hundred horsemen, all dressed alike, and all of his own name and family. The name is still a common one in the North Riding, as you will soon discover on the front of public-houses, over the door at toll-bars, and on the sides of carts and wagons. The present Lord Metcalfe had a Guisborough man for his[Pg 172] father. A Metcalfe, born at Coverhead, is said to have made Napoleon’s coffin at St. Helena. One of the fighting men who distinguished themselves at Agincourt was a Metcalfe. The Queen of Scots’ bedstead is still preserved at Nappa. Raleigh once visited the Hall, and brought with him—so the story goes—the first crayfish ever seen in the dale. Another visitor was that cruel pedant, Royal Jamie, who scrupled not to cut off Raleigh’s head—a far better one than his own—and concerning him we are told that he rode across the Ure on the back of one of the serving-men. Perhaps the poor serving-man felt proud all his life after.

If to dream about the Past by the side of a spring be one of your pleasures, you may enjoy it here in Wensleydale with many a change of scene. Besides Diana’s Bath, already mentioned, St. Simon’s Spring still bubbles up at Coverham, St. Alkelda’s at Middleham, and the Fairies’ Well at Hornby. To this last an old iron cup was chained, which a late local antiquary fondly thought might be one of those which King Edwin ordered to be fastened to running springs throughout his territories.

Celt and Northman have left their traces. The grandmothers of the children who now play in the village could remember the Beltane bonfires, and the wild dances around them. The Danes peopled the gloomy savage parts of the glen with their imaginary black alfs. An old couplet runs:

“Druid, Roman, Scandinavia
Stone Raise, on Addleboro’.”

So we sat and talked, and afterwards scrambled up the rocks to the summit. Here is, or rather was, a Druid circle of flat stones: but my companion screamed with vexation on discovering that three or four of the largest stones had been taken away, and were nowhere to be seen. The removal must have been recent, for the places where they lay were sharply defined in the grass, and the maze of roots which had been covered for ages was still dense and blanched. And so an ancient monument must be destroyed either out of wanton mischief, or to be broken up for the repair of a fence! Whoever were the perpetrators, I say,

“Oh, be their tombs as lead to lead!”

We walked across the top to Stain-Ray, or Stone Raise, a[Pg 173] great cromlech or cairn 360 feet in circumference. You would perhaps regard it as nothing more than a huge irregular mound of lumps of gritstone bleached by the weather, with ferns and moss growing in the interstices, but within there are to be seen the remains of three cysts, of which only one retains a definite form. It is said that a skeleton was discovered therein. Tradition tells of a giant who once travelling with a chest of gold on his back from Skipton Castle to Pendragon, felt weary while crossing Addleborough, and let his burden slip, but recovering himself, he cried,

“Spite of either God or man,
To Pendragon castle thou shalt gang.”

when it fell from his shoulders, sank into the earth, and the stones rose over it. There the chest remained, and still remains, only to be recovered by the fortunate mortal to whom the fairy may appear in the form of a hen or an ape. He has then but to stretch forth his arm, seize the chest, and drag it out, in silence if he can, at all events without swearing, or he will fail, as did that unfortunate wight, who, uttering an oath in the moment of success, lost his hold of the treasure, and saw the fairy no more as long as he lived.

We descended into the hollow between Addleborough and Stake Fell, crossing on the way the natural terrace that runs along the southern and western sides of the hill, to look at a cluster of heaps of stone, and low, irregular walls or fences, the plan of which appears to show a series of enclosures opening one into the other. My friend had long made up his mind that these were the remains of an ancient British village. For my part, I could not believe that a village old as the Roman conquest would leave vestiges of such magnitude after the lapse of nearly two thousand years; whereupon, arguments, and learned ones, were adduced, until I half admitted the origin assigned. But a few days later I saw an enclosure in Wharfedale identical in form with any one of these, used as a sheepfold, and all my doubts came back with renewed force. In the ordnance maps, the description is “ancient enclosures;” and, to give an off-hand opinion, it appears to me probable that this outlying hollow may have been chosen as a safe place for the flocks in the troublous days of old.

Stake Fell is 1843 feet in height, rising proudly on our left. Beneath us, in the valley Ray or Roedale, a branch of Wens[Pg 174]leydale, spreads Simmer Water, a lake of one hundred and five acres. Shut in by hills, and sprinkled with wood around its margin, it beautifies and enlivens the landscape. It abounds in trout, moreover, and bream and grayling, and any one who chooses may fish therein, as well as in the Ure, all the way down to Bainbridge, and farther. The river trout are considered far superior to those of the lake. We made haste down, after a pause to observe the view, for dinner awaited us in a pleasant villa overlooking the bright rippling expanse.

When we started anew, some two hours later, our hospitable entertainer would accompany us. We walked round the foot of the lake, and saw on the margin, near the break where the Bain flows out, two big stones which have lain in their present position ever since the devil and a giant pelted one another from hill to hill across the water. To corroborate the legend, there yet remain on the stones the marks—and prodigious ones they are—of the Evil One’s hands. To me the marks appeared more like the claws of an enormous bird, compared with which Dr. Mantell’s Dinornis would be but a chicken.

Long, long ago, while the Apostles still walked the earth, a poor old man wandered into Raydale, where a large city then stood, and besought alms from house to house. Every door was shut against him, save one, an humble cot without the city wall, where the inmates bade him welcome, and set oaten bread and milk cheese before him, and prepared him a pallet whereon to sleep. On the morrow the old man pronounced a blessing on the house and departed; but as he went forth, he turned, and looking on the city, thus spake:

“Semer Water rise, Semer Water sink,
And swallow all the town
Save this little house
Where they gave me meat and drink.”

Whereupon followed the roar of an earthquake, and the rush of water; the city sank down and a broad lake rolled over its site; but the charitable couple who lodged the stranger were preserved, and soon by some miraculous means they found themselves rich, and a blessing rested on them and their posterity.

Besides the satanic missiles, there are stones somewhere on the brink of the lake known as the ‘Mermaid Stones,’ but not one of us knew where to look for them, so we set our faces[Pg 175] towards Counterside, the hill on the northern side of the vale and trudged patiently up the steep ascent in the hot afternoon sun, repaid by the widening prospect. We could see where waterfalls were rushing in the little glens at the head of the dale, and the shadow of hills in the lake, and the remotest village, Stalling Busk, said to be a place of unusual thrift. Even in that remote nook, you would find the dalesmen’s maxim kept from rusting, as well in the villages lower down and nearer the world: it is—“I don’t want to chate, or to be chated; but if it must be one or t’other, why, then, I wouldn’t be chated.” It is no scandal to say that money-grubbing in the dale is proverbial. “Look at that man,” said my Quaker friend at Bainbridge, pointing out what looked like a labourer driving a cart; “that man is worth thousands.” I did not hear, however, that he made an offensive use of his talent, as certain money-grubbers do in the neighbourhood of large towns. “He’s got nought,” exclaimed a coarse, rich man near Hull, slapping his pocket, of a poor man who differed from him in opinion: “he’s got nought—what should he know about it?”

We went down on the other slope of Counterside with Hawes in sight, and Cam Fell, a long ridgy summit more than 1900 feet high. I preferred to double it rather than go over it, and having shifted the knapsack to my own shoulders, shook hands with my excellent friends, and choosing short cuts so as to avoid the town, came in about an hour to the steep lonely road which turns up into Widdale, beyond the farther end of Hawes.

We shall return to Wensleydale a few days hence; meanwhile, good-natured reader, Widdale stretches before us, the road rising with little interruption for miles. Two hours of brisk walking will carry us through it between great wild hill slopes, which are channeled here and there by the dry, stony bed of a torrent. The evening closes in heavy and lowering, and Cam Fell and Widdale Fell uprear their huge forms on the right and left in sullen gloom, and appear the more mountainous. Ere long thick mists overspread their summits, and send ragged wreaths down the hollows, and much of the landscape becomes dim, and we close our day with a view of Nature in one of her mysterious moods. We ascend into the bleak region, pass the bare little hamlet of Redshaw, catch a dull glimpse of Ingleborough, with its broad flat summit, and[Pg 176] then at six miles from Hawes, come to the lonesome public-house at Newby Head.

Of such wild land as that we have traversed. Arthur Young once bought a large tract, having in view a grand scheme of reclamation, but was diverted therefrom by his appointment as Secretary to the Board of Agriculture. “What a change,” he says, “in the destination of a man’s life! Instead of entering the solitary lord of four thousand acres, in the keen atmosphere of lofty rocks and mountain torrents, with a little creation rising gradually around me, making the desert smile with cultivation, and grouse give way to industrious population, active and energetic, though remote and tranquil; and every instant of my existence, making two blades of grass to grow where not one was found before—behold me at a desk, in the smoke, the fog, the din of Whitehall!”

The public-house is a resort for cattle-dealers from Scotland, and head-quarters for shepherds and labourers. The fare is better than the lodging. Three kinds of cakes, eggs, and small pies of preserved bilberries, were set before me at tea; but the bed, though the sheets were clean, had a musty smell of damp straw.

[Pg 177]


CHAPTER XXI.

About Gimmer Hogs—Gearstones—Source of the Ribble—Weathercote Cave—An Underground Waterfall—A Gem of a Cave—Jingle Pot—The Silly Ducks—Hurtle Pool—The Boggart—A Reminiscence of the Doctor—Chapel-le-Dale—Remarkable Scenery—Ingleborough—Ingleton—Craven—Young Daniel Dove, and Long Miles—Clapham—Ingleborough Cave—Stalactite and Stalagmite—Marvellous Spectacle—Pillar Hall—Weird Music—Treacherous Pools—The Abyss—How Stalactite forms—The Jockey Cap—Cross Arches—The Long Gallery—The Giant’s Hall—Mysterious Waterfall—A Trouty Beck—The Bar-Parlour—A Bradford Spinner.

On the way hither, I had noticed what was to me a novel mode of bill-sticking; that is, on the sharp spines of tall thistles by the wayside. The bills advertised Gimmer Hogs for sale, a species of animal that I had never before heard of, and I puzzled myself not a little in guessing what they could be. For although Gimmer is good honest Danish, signifying a ewe that has not yet lambed, the connexion between sheep and swine is not obvious to the uninitiated. However, it happened that I sat down to breakfast with a Scottish grazier who had arrived soon after daybreak, and he told me that sheep not more than one year old are called Gimmer Hogs; but why the word hogs should be used to describe ewes he could not tell.

The morning was dull and drizzly, and by the time I had crossed to Ingleton Fell, from the North to the West Riding, a swift, horizontal rain came on, laborious to walk against, and drove me for shelter into the Gearstones Inn. Of the two or three houses hereabouts, one is a school; and in this wild spot a Wednesday market is held. Ingleborough is in sight; the hills around form pleasing groups, and had we time to explore them, we should find many a rocky glen, and curious cave, Catknot Hole, Alum Pot, Long Churn, and Dicken Pot; and many a sounding ghyll, as the folk here call it—that is, a waterfall. Not far from the inn is Gale beck, the source of the[Pg 178] Ribble; and as we proceed down the now continuous descent, so do the features of the landscape grow more romantic.

For more than an hour did the rain-storm sweep across the hills, holding me prisoner. At length faint gleams of sunshine broke through; I started afresh, and three miles farther was treading on classic ground—Chapel-le-Dale. Turn in at the second gate on the right beyond the public-house, and you will soon have speech with Mr. Metcalfe, who keeps the key of Weathercote cave. Standing on a sheltered valley slope, with a flower-garden in front and trees around, his house presents a favourable specimen of a yeoman’s residence. No lack of comfort here, I thought, on seeing the plenteous store of oaten bread on the racks in the kitchen. Nor is there any lack of attention to the visitor’s wishes on the part of Mr. Metcalfe. He unlocks a door, and leads the way down a steep, rude flight of steps into a rocky chasm, from which ascends the noise of falling water. A singularly striking scene awaits you. The rocks are thickly covered in places with ferns and mosses, and are broken up by crevices into a diversity of forms, rugged as chaos. A few feet down, and you see a beautiful crystalline spring in a cleft on the right, and the water turning the moss to stone as it trickles down. A few feet lower and you pass under a natural bridge formed by huge fallen blocks. The stair gets rougher, twisting among the big, damp lumps of limestone, when suddenly your guide points to the fall at the farther extremity of the chasm. The rocks are black, the place is gloomy, imparting thereby a surprising effect to the white rushing column of water. A beck running down the hill finds its way into a crevice in the cliffs, from which it leaps in one great fall of more than eighty feet, roaring loudly. Look up! the chasm is so narrow that the trees and bushes overhang and meet overhead; and what with the subdued light, and mixture of crags and verdure, and the impressive aspect of the place altogether, you will be lost in admiration.

To descend lower seems scarcely possible, but you do get down, scrambling over the big stones to the very bottom, into the swirling shower of spray. Here a deep recess, or chamber at one side, about eight feet in height, affords good standing ground, whence you may see that the water is swallowed up at once, and disappears in the heap of pebbles on which it falls. Conversation is difficult, for the roar is overpowering.[Pg 179] After I had stood some minutes in contemplation, Mr. Metcalfe told me that it was possible to get behind the fall and look through it, taking care to run quickly across the strong blast that meets you on starting from the recess. I buttoned my overcoat to my chin, and rushed into the cavity, and looked upwards. I was in a pit 120 feet deep, covered by a tumultuous curtain of water, but had to make a speedy retreat, so furiously was I enveloped by blinding spray. To make observations from that spot one should wear a suit of waterproof.

Through the absence of sunshine I lost the sight of the rainbow which is seen for about two hours in the middle of the day from the front of the fall. It is a horizontal bow with the convex side towards the water, shifting its position higher or lower as you mount or descend.

Although it might now be properly described as a pit, the chasm gives you the impression of a cave of which the roof has fallen in. If this be so, the fall was once entirely underground, roaring day and night in grim darkness. It may still be regarded as an underground fall, for the throat from which it leaps is more than thirty feet below the surface. In the cleft above this throat a thick heavy slab is fixed in a singular position, just caught, as it seems, by two of its corners, so that you fancy it ready to tumble at any moment with the current that shoots so swiftly beneath it. As you pause often on returning to look back at the roaring stream, and up to the impending crags, you will heartily confirm Professor Sedgwick—who by the way is a Yorkshireman—in his opinion, that if Weathercote Cave be small, it is a very gem. Nor will you grudge the shilling fee for admission.

The extreme length of the pit is about 180 feet. In rainy weather it becomes a sink-hole into which the streams pour from all the slopes around, at times filling it to the brim and running over. Mr. Metcalfe shewed me the stem of a tree entangled in the crevices near the top, which had been floated there by the floods of the previous winter. While coming slowly up, I could not fail to notice the change of temperature, from the chill damp that made me shiver, to a pleasant warmth, and then to the heavy heat of a dull day in July.

A little way below the house, going down the narrow dale, you come to another mossy crevice in the rocks among the trees to which the country folk have given the name of Gingle,[Pg 180] or Jingle Pot, because of a certain jingling sound produced by stones when thrown therein. To my ear there was no ring in the sound. It is quite dry, with a bottom sloping steeply and making a sudden turn to a depth of eighty feet. Mr. Metcalfe had let himself down into the Pot by a rope, two days before my arrival, to look for a young cow that had fallen in while on the gad, and disappeared in the lowest hole. He saw the animal dead, and so tightly wedged in under the rock, that there he left it. This was his second descent. The first was made in winter some years ago to rescue his ducks, which, perhaps deceived by the dark crevice, that looked like a deep narrow pond when all the ground was white with snow, took all together a sudden flight to settle on it, and of course went to the bottom. Mr. Metcalfe was driving them home at the time; he looked over the edge of the Pot, and invited the silly birds to fly out. But no, they would not be persuaded to use their wings, and remained crowded together on the highest part of the slope, stretching their necks upwards. So there was nothing for it but to fetch them out. Their owner let himself down; yet after all his trouble the ungrateful creatures refused as long as possible to be put into the bag.

Farther down again, and you come to Hurtle Pot, a gloomy cavity overhung by trees, and mantled with ivy, ferns, and coarse weeds. At the bottom rests a darksome pool, said to be twenty-seven feet deep, which contains small trout, and swallows up rocks and stones, or whatever may be thrown into it, without any perceptible diminution of the depth. You can get down to the edge of the water by an inconvenient path, and feel the gloom, and find excuses for the rustics who believe in the existence of the Hurtle Pot Boggart. In olden time his deeds were terrible; but of late years he only frightens people with noises. Both this and Jingle Pot are choked with water from subterranean channels in flood time, and then there is heard here such an intermittent throbbing, gurgling noise, accompanied by what seem dismal gaspings, that a timorous listener might easily believe the Boggart was drowning his victims. One evening a loving couple, walking behind the trees above the Pot, heard most unearthly noises arise from the murky chasm; never had the like been heard before. Surely, thought the turtle-doves, the Boggart is coming forth with some new trick, and they fled in terror.[Pg 181] A friend of Mr. Metcalfe’s was playing his flute down on the edge of the pool.

Again farther, and there is the little chapel from which the dale takes its name. As I have said, we are here on classic ground. That is the edifice, and this is the place described by Southey. Here dwelt that worthy yeoman, Daniel Dove’s father, and his fathers before him, handing down their six-and-twenty acres, and better yet, an honest name, from one to the other through many generations—yea, from time immemorial. One of those good old families which had ancestors before the Conquest. Give me leave, good-natured reader, to complete my sketch by the description as it appears, with masterly touches, in The Doctor.

“The little church called Chapel-le-Dale, stands about a bowshot from the family house. There they had all been carried to the font; there they had each led his bride to the altar; and thither they had, each in his turn, been borne upon the shoulders of their friends and neighbours. Earth to earth they had been consigned there for so many generations, that half of the soil of the churchyard consisted of their remains. A hermit who might wish his grave to be as quiet as his cell, could imagine no fitter resting-place. On three sides there was an irregular low stone wall, rather to mark the limits of the sacred ground, than to enclose it; on the fourth it was bounded by the brook, whose waters proceed by a subterraneous channel from Weathercote Cave. Two or three alders and rowan-trees hung over the brook, and shed their leaves and seeds into the stream. Some bushy hazels grew at intervals along the lines of the wall; and a few ash-trees as the winds had sown them. To the east and west some fields adjoined it, in that state of half cultivation which gives a human character to solitude: to the south, on the other side the brook, the common with its limestone rocks peering everywhere above ground, extended to the foot of Ingleborough. A craggy hill, feathered with birch, sheltered it from the north.

“The turf was as soft and fine as that of the adjoining hills; it was seldom broken, so scanty was the population to which it was appropriated; scarcely a thistle or a nettle deformed it, and the few tombstones which had been placed there, were now themselves half buried. The sheep came over the wall when they listed, and sometimes took shelter[Pg 182] in the porch from the storm. Their voices and the cry of the kite wheeling above, were the only sounds which were heard there, except when the single bell which hung in its niche over the entrance tinkled for service on the Sabbath day, or with a slower tongue gave notice that one of the children of the soil was returning to the earth from which he sprung.”

Is not that charming?—a word-picture, worthy of a master’s pen. One error, however, has slipped in. There is no porch, nor any sign that one has ever been. The chapel will hold eighty persons, and is, as Mr. Metcalfe, informed me, “never too small.”

A week or more might be spent in explorations in this neighbourhood. Five miles down towards Kirkby Lonsdale, there is Thornton Force. Near it is Yordas Cave—once the haunt of a giant; Gatekirk Cave is distant about half an hour’s walk; Douk Hole is in the neighbourhood of Ingleton; and in all the region, and over the Westmoreland border, there is a highly picturesque succession of caves, ravines, glens, and torrents dashing through rocky chasms, and of all the magnificent phenomena only to be seen amid the limestone. Many a tourist hurries past on his way to the Lakes all unmindful of scenery which, in its kind, surpasses any that he will see between Windermere and Bassenthwaite.

I went up to the public-house and dined with the haymakers, and enjoyed the sight of sunburnt rustics eating smoking mutton-pie without stint, as much as I did my own repast. The host’s daughter brought me a book, which had only recently been provided to receive the names of visitors. Among them was the autograph of a Russian gentleman who had called within the week, and who, as I heard, did nothing but grumble at English customs, yet could not help praising the scenery. He was on foot, and with knapsack on shoulder. I crossed his track, and heard of him sundry times afterwards, and hoped to meet him, that I might ask leave to enlighten him on a few points concerning which he appeared to be distressingly ignorant.

I had planned to ascend and cross Ingleborough, and drop down upon Clapham from its southern side; but when a hill is half buried in mist, and furious scuds fly across its brow, it is best to be content with the valley. So I took up my route on the main road, and continued down the dale, where[Pg 183] the limestone crags breaking out on each side form a series of irregular terraces, intermingled green and gray, pleasing to the eye. In the bottom, on the right, the subterranean river bursts forth which Goldsmith mentions in his Natural History.

The height of Ingleborough is 2361 feet. Its name is supposed to be derived from Ingle-burg—a word which embodies the idea of fire and fortress. It is a table-mountain, with a top so flat and spacious that an encampment of more than fifteen acres, of which the traces are still visible, was established thereon, probably by the Brigantes, if not by an earlier race. It is a landmark for vessels on the coast of Lancashire. St. George’s Channel is visible from the summit; and one who has looked on the eastern sea from Flamborough Head may find it convenient to remember that Yorkshire, on its westernmost extremity, is but ten miles from the western sea.

In a short hour from Weathercote you come to the end of the fells, an abrupt descent, all rough with crags and boulders, where the view opens at once over the district of Craven, and the little town of Ingleton is seen comfortably nestled under the hill. Craven lies outspread in beauty—woods, hills, fields, and pastures charming the eye of one who comes from the untilled moors, and suggestive of delightful rambles in store. The Ribble flows through it, watering many a romantic cliff and wooded slope. And for the geologist, Craven possesses especial interest, for it is intersected by what he calls a ‘fault,’ on the southern side of which the limestone strata are thrown down a thousand feet.

I left Ingleton on the right, and turned off at the cross-roads for Clapham, distant four miles. Here, as in other parts of my travel, the miles seemed long—quite as long as they were found to be years ago. We are told that when young Daniel Dove walked dutifully every day to school, “the distance was in those days called two miles; but miles of such long measure that they were for him a good hour’s walk at a cheerful pace.” On the way from Mickle Fell to Brough I met with a more unkindly experience; and that was an hour’s walking for a single mile.

The road undulating along the hill-side commands pleasing views, and for one on foot is to be preferred to the new road, which winds among the fields below. And with a brightening evening we come to Clapham—a cheerful, pretty village,[Pg 184] adorned with flowers, and climbers, and smooth grass plots, embowered by trees, and watered by a merry brook, lying open to the sun on the roots of Ingleborough. Looking about for an inn, I saw the Bull and Cave, and secured quarters there by leaving my knapsack, and set out to seek for the guide, whom I found chatting with a group of loungers on the bridge. Bull and Cave seemed to me such an odd coupling, that I fancied cave must be a Yorkshire way of spelling calf; but it really means that which it purports, and the two words are yoked together in order that visitors, who are numerous, may be easily attracted.

Here in Clapdale—a dale which penetrates the slopes of Ingleborough—is the famous Ingleborough Cave, the deepest and most remarkable of all the caves hitherto discovered in the honeycombed flanks of that remarkable hill. Intending to see this, I left unvisited the other caves which have been mentioned as lying to the right and left of the road as you come down from Gearstones.

The fee for a single person to see the cave is half-a-crown; for a party of eight or ten a shilling each. The guide, who is an old soldier, and a good specimen of the class, civil and intelligent, called at his house as we passed to get candles, and presently we were clear of the village, and walking up-hill along a narrow lane. Below us on the right lay cultivated grounds and well-kept plantations, through which, as the old man told me, visitors were once allowed to walk on their way to the cave—a pleasing and much less toilsome way than the lane; but the remains of picnics left on the grass, broken bottles, orange-peels, greasy paper and wisps of hay, became such a serious abuse of the privilege, that Mr. Farrer, the proprietor, withdrew his permission. “It’s a wonder to me,” said the guide, “that people shouldn’t know how to behave themselves.”

In about half an hour we came to a hollow between two grassy acclivities, out of which runs a rapid beck, and here on the left, in a limestone cliff prettily screened by trees, is the entrance to the cave, a low, wide arch that narrows as it recedes into the gloom. We walked in a few yards; the guide lit two candles, placed one in my hand and unlocked the iron gate, which, very properly, keeps out the perpetrators of wanton mischief. A few paces take us beyond the last gleam of daylight, and we are in a narrow passage, of which the[Pg 185] sides and roof are covered with a brown incrustation resembling gigantic clusters of petrified moss. Curious mushroom-like growths hang from the roof, and throwing his light on these, the guide says we are passing through the Inverted Forest. So it continues, the roof still low, for eighty yards, comprising the Old Cave, which has been known for ages; and we come to a narrow passage hewn through a thick screen of stalagmite. It was opened twenty years ago by Mr. Farrer’s gardener, who laboured at the barrier until it was breached, and a new cavern of marvellous formation was discovered beyond. An involuntary exclamation broke from me as I entered and beheld what might have been taken for a glittering fairy palace. On each side, sloping gently upwards till they met the roof, great bulging masses of stalagmite of snowy whiteness lay outspread, mound after mound glittering as with millions of diamonds. For the convenience of explorers, the passage between them has been widened and levelled as far as possible, wherein the beck that we saw outside finds a channel after unusual rains. You walk along this passage now on sand, now on pebbles, now bare rock. All the great white masses are damp; their surfaces are rough with countless crystallized convolutions and minute ripples, between which trickle here and there tiny threads of water. It is to the moisture that the unsullied whiteness is due, and the glistening effect; for wherever stalactite or stalagmite becomes dry, the colour changes to brown, as we saw in the Old Cave. A strange illusion came over me as I paced slowly past the undulating ranges, and for a moment they seemed to represent the great rounded snow-fields that whiten the sides of the Alps.

The cavern widens: we are in the Pillar Hall; stalactites of all dimensions hang from the roof, singly and in groups. Thousands are mere nipples, or an inch or two in length; many are two or three feet; and the whole place resounds with the drip and tinkle of water. Stalagmites dot the floor, and while some have grown upwards the stalactites have grown downwards, until the ends meet, and the ceaseless trickle of water fashions an unbroken crystal pillar. Some stalactites assume a spiral twist; and where a long thin fissure occurs in the roof they take the form of draperies, curtains, and wings—wings shaped like those of angels. The guide strikes one of the wings with a small mallet, and it gives out[Pg 186] a rich musical note; another has the deep sonorous boom of a cathedral bell, another rings sharp and shrill, and a row of stalactitic sheets answers when touched with a gamut of notes. Your imagination grows restless while you listen to such strange music deep in the heart of a mountain.

And there are pools on the floor, and in raised basins at the side—pools of water so limpid as to be treacherous, for in the uncertain light all appears to be solid rock. I stepped knee deep into one, mistaking it for an even floor. Well for me it was not the Abyss which yawns at the end of Pillar Hall. The guide, to show the effect of light reflected on the water, crawls up to the end of one of the basins with the two candles in his hand, while you standing in the gloom at the other end, observe the smooth brilliant surface, and the brightness that flashes from every prominence of roof or wall.

Although geologists explain the process of formation, there is yet much food for wonder in remembering that all these various objects were formed by running water. The water, finding its way through fissures in the mighty bed of limestone overhead, hangs in drops, one drop pushes another off, but not idly; for while the current of air blowing through carries off their carbonic acid, they give up the salt of lime gathered during percolation, and form small stony tubes. And these tubes, the same cause continuing to operate, grow in course of ages to magnificent stalactites; and where thin, broad streams have appeared, there the draperies and wings and the great snow-fields have been fashioned. The incrustation spreads even over some of the pools: the film of water flowing in deposits its solid contents on the margin, and these, crystallizing and accumulating, advance upon the surface, as ice forms from the edge towards the centre of a pond, and in time bridge it over with a translucent sheet.

Among the stalagmites are a few of beehive shape; but there is one named the Jockey Cap, an extraordinary specimen for bigness. Its base has a circumference of ten feet, its height is two feet, all produced by a succession of drops from one single point. Advantage has been taken of this circumstance to measure the rate of its growth. Mr. Farrer collected a pint of drops, and ascertained the fall to be one hundred pints a day, each pint containing one grain of calcareous matter; and from this daily supply of a hundred grains the Jockey Cap was built up to its present dimensions in two[Pg 187] hundred and fifty-nine years. In six years, from 1845 to 1851, the diameter increased by two, and the height by three inches. Probably owing to the morning’s rain, the drops fell rapidly while I stood looking at the cap—splash—splash—splash—into a small saucer-like depression in the middle of the crown, from which with ceaseless overflow the water bathes the entire mass. Around it is the most drippy part of the cave.

In places there are sudden breaks in the roof at right angles to the passage—cracks produced by the cooling of this great limestone bubble in the primeval days—which look as if Nature had begun to form a series of cross aisles, and then held her hand. Some of these are nests of stalactites; one exhibits architectural forms adorned with beads and mouldings as if sculptured in purest marble. The farther you penetrate the loftier do they become; impressing you with the idea that they are but the ante-chambers of some majestic temple farther within. The Abyss appears to be a similar arch reversed in the floor.

Then we came to a bend where the roof rushing down appears to bar all further advance, but the guide puts a thing into your hand which you might take to be a scrubbing-brush, and telling you to stoop, creeps into a low opening between the rising floor and descending roof, and you discover that the scrubbing-brush is a paddle to enable you to walk on three legs while crouching down. It keeps your right hand from the slippery rock; and your left has always enough to do in holding the candle. The creeping continues but for a few yards, and you emerge into one of the cross vaults, and again sand and pebbles form the floor. Then comes the Cellar Gallery, a long tunnel-like passage, the sides perpendicular, the roof arched, which, like all the rest, has been shaped by currents of water, aided in this case by the grinding action of sand and pebbles. Continuing through thousands of years, the result is as we behold it. The tunnel appears the more gloomy from the absence of ornament: no stalactites, no wings, reflect the dim candle-flame; for which reason, as well as to avoid the creeping, many visitors refuse to advance beyond the entrance of the Long Gallery. But the tunnel leads you into the Giant’s Hall, where stalactites and draperies again meet your eye, and where your light is all too feeble to illumine the lofty roof. And here is the end, 2106 feet from[Pg 188] the entrance—nearly half a mile. From the time that the gardener broke through the barrier in the Old Cave, two years were spent in gradual advances till the Giant’s Hall was reached. The adventurous explorers endeavoured to get farther, for two small holes were discovered leading downwards from one side of the Hall to a lower cave, through which arose the sound of falling water. They braved the danger, and let themselves down to a level, where they were stopped by a deep pool—the receiver of the fall. It must have looked fearfully dismal. Yet might there not be caverns still more wonderful beyond? Fixing a candle to his cap and with a rope round his body, Mr. James Farrer swam across the murky lake, and found it closed in by what appeared to be an impassable wall of limestone—the heart of Ingleborough. It was a courageous adventure.

I stretched out my candle and peered down the two holes. One is dry and sandy, the other slimy with a constant drip. I heard the noise of the fall, the voice of the water plunging for ever, night and day, in deep darkness. It seemed awful. A current of air blows forth continually, whereby the cave is ventilated throughout its entire length, and the visitor, safe from stagnant damps and stifling vapours, breathes freely in a pure atmosphere.

I walked once more from end to end of the Hall; and we retraced our steps. In the first cross aisle the guide made me aware of an echo which came back to the ear as a hollow moan. We crept through into Pillar Hall, and I could not help lingering once more to admire the brilliant and delicate incrustations, and to scramble between or over the great stalagmitic barriers to see what was in the rear. Here and there I saw a mass resembling a font, filled with water of exquisite purity, or raised oval or oblong basins representing alabaster baths, wherein none but vestal virgins might enter.

Except that the path has been levelled and widened, and openings enlarged, and planks laid in one place to facilitate access to a change of level, the cave remains as when first discovered. Mr. Farrer’s precautions against mischief have prevented that pillage of the interior so much to be deplored in other caves of this region, where the first-comers made prize of all the ornaments within reach, and left little but bare walls for those who follow. Yet even here some of the smaller stalactites, the size of a finger, have been missed after[Pg 189] a party has gone through; and once a man struck a group of stalactites and broke more than a foot off the longest, in sheer wantonness, as it seemed, for the fragment was too heavy to carry away. And there the mutilation remains, a lasting reproach to a fool.

My candle burnt out, and the other flickered near its end, but the old man had two halves which he lit, and these more than sufficed for our return. The red light of sunset was streaming into the entrance when we came forth after a sojourn of nearly two hours in the bowels of the mountain. The guide had been very indulgent with me; for most visitors stay but an hour. Those who merely wish to walk through, content with a hasty glance, will find little to impede their movements. There is nothing, indeed, which need deter a woman, only she must leave her hoop at home, wear thick boots, and make provision for looping-up her skirts. Many an English maiden would then enjoy a visit to Ingleborough Cave.

The beck flows out from under the cliff a few yards above the entrance through a broad low vault. I crept in for some distance, and it seemed to me that access to the cave might be gained by wading up the stream. Then as we went down the hill, the old soldier thought that as there were but two of us, we might venture to walk through the grounds, where we saw the lake, the bridge, and the cascade, on our way to the village.

Delicious trout from the neighbouring brook, and most excellent beer, awaited me for supper, and made me well content with the Bull and Cave. Afterwards I joined the party in the little bar-parlour, where among a variety of topics, the mountain was talked about. The landlord, a hale old fellow of sixty, said that he had never once been on the summit, though he had lived all his life at the base. A rustic, though a two years’ resident in Clapham, had not been up, and for a reason: “You see,” he said, “if a man gets on a high place, he isn’t satisfied then; he wants to get higher. So I thinks best to content myself down here.”

Then spoke another of the party, a man well dressed, in praise of rural quiet, and the enjoyment of fresh air, contrasting the tranquillity of Clapham at that hour with the noise and confusion at Bradford, where the streets would be thronged till after midnight. He was an ‘operative’ from Bradford,[Pg 190] come as was his wont, to spend Sunday in the country. He grew eloquent on the subject of masters and men, averring that masters, as a body, would never do anything for the benefit of workmen unless compelled thereto by act of Parliament. Well might he say so. Would the mills be ventilated; would dangerous machinery be boxed off; would schools have been interposed between children and slavery, had Parliament not interfered? The number of Yorkshire factory children at school on the last day of October, 1857, was 18,000, from eight to thirteen years of age. On this latter particular our spinner could not say enough in praise of the House of Commons: there was a chance for the bairns now that the law punished the masters who did not allow time for school as well as for work. “It’s one of the grandest things,” he said, “Parliament ever did for the factory hands.”

He had too much reason to speak as he did; but we must not suppose that the great millowners are worse than other masters. Owing to the large numbers they employ, the evils complained of appear in a violent and concentrated form; but we have only to look at the way in which apprentices and domestic servants are treated everywhere, especially in large towns (with comparatively few exceptions,) to become aware that a want of fair-play is by far too prevalent. No wonder that Dr. Livingstone finds reason to say we are not model Christians.

[Pg 191]


CHAPTER XXII.

By Rail to Skipton—A Stony Town—Church and Castle—The Cliffords—Wharfedale—Bolton Abbey—Picturesque Ruins—A Foot-Bath—Scraps from Wordsworth—Bolton Park—The Strid—Barden Tower—The Wharfe—The Shepherd Lord—Reading to Grandfather—A Cup of Tea—Cheerful Hospitality—Trout Fishing—Gale Beck—Symon Seat—A Real Entertainer—Burnsall—A Drink of Porter—Immoralities—Threshfield—Kilnsey—The Crag—Kettlewell—A Primitive Village—Great Whernside—Starbottom—Buckden—Last View of Wharfedale—Cray—Bishopdale—A Pleasant Lane—Bolton Castle—Penhill—Aysgarth—Dead Pastimes—Decrease of Quakers—Failure of a Mission—Why and Wherefore—Aysgarth Force—Drunken Barnaby—Inroad of Fashion.

The railway station at Clapham, as well as others along the line, is built in the old timbered style, and harmonizes well with the landscape. A railway hotel stands close by, invitingly open to guests who dislike the walk of a mile to the village; and the landlord, as I was told, multiplies his profits by renting the Cave.

A short flight by the first train took me to breakfast at Skipton, all through the pretty country of Craven, of which the town is the capital. The houses are built of stone taken from the neighbouring hills. The bells were just beginning their chimes as I passed the church, and, seeing the door open, I went in and looked at the stained glass and old monuments, the shields and sculptures which commemorate the Cliffords—Lords of the Honour of Skipton—the Lady Ellinor, of the house of Brandon; the Earls of Cumberland, one of whom was Queen Elizabeth’s champion against the Spaniard, as well as in tilt and tournament.

The castle, which has played a conspicuous part in history, stands beside the church, and there, over the gateway, you may still see the shield bearing two griffins, and the motto Desormais. Within, you view the massive, low, round towers from a pleasant garden, where but few signs of antiquity are to be seen; for modern restorations have masked[Pg 192] the old grim features. Here dwelt the Cliffords, a proud and mighty family, who made a noise in the world, in their day. Among them was Lord John, or Black Clifford, who did butcher-work at the battle of Wakefield, and was repaid the year after at Towton. In the first year of Edward IV. the estates were forfeited because of high treason, and Henry, the tenth Lord of the Honour of Skipton, to escape the ill consequence of his father’s disloyalty, was concealed for twenty-five years among the shepherds of Cumberland. Another of the line was that imperial-minded Countess, the Lady Anne Clifford, who, when she repaired her castle of Skipton, made it known by an inscription in the same terms as that set up on her castle at Brough, and with the same passage of Scripture. Now it is a private residence; and the ancient tapestries and pictures, and other curiosities which are still preserved, can only be seen after due pains taken by the inquiring visitor.

The life of the Shepherd Lord, as he was called, is a touching episode in the history of the Cliffords; heightened by the marked contrast between the father and son—the one warlike and revengeful, the other gentle and forgiving. We shall come again on the traces of the pastoral chief ere the day be over.

There is a long stretch of the old castle wall on the left as you go up the road towards Knaresborough. From the top of the hill, looking back about a mile and a half distant, you get a pleasing view of Skipton, lying in its cheerful green valley; and presently, in the other direction, you see the hills of Wharfedale. Everywhere the grass is waving, or, newly-mown, fills all the air with delightful odour. I walked slowly, for the day was hot—one of the hottest of that fervid July—and took till noon to accomplish the seven miles to Bolton Abbey. The number of vehicles drawn up at the Devonshire Arms—a good inn about two furlongs from the ruin—and the numerous visitors, betokened something unusually attractive.

Since Landseer painted his picture, Bolton Abbey has become a household word. It seems familiar to us beforehand. We picture it to our minds; and your imagination must be extravagant indeed if the picture be not realized. It is a charming scene that opens as you turn out of the road and descend the grassy slope: the abbey standing, proud and[Pg 193] beautiful in decay, in a green meadow, where stately trees adorn the gentle undulations; the Wharfe rippling cheerfully past, coming forth from wooded hills above, going away between wooded hills below, alike

“With mazy error under pendent shades;”

the bold perpendicular cliff opposite, all purple and gray, crowned and flanked with hanging wood; the cascade rushing down in a narrow line of foam; the big mossy stones that line the bank, and the stony islets in the bed of the stream; and, looking up the dale, the great sweeps of wood in Bolton Park, terminated by the wild heights of Symon Seat and Barden Fell. All around you see encircling woods, and combinations of rock, and wood, and water, that inspire delightful emotions.

But you will turn again and again to the abbey to gaze on its tall arches, the great empty window, the crumbling walls, over which hang rich masses of ivy, and walking slowly round you will discover the points whence the ruins appear most picturesque. And within, where elder-trees grow, and the carved tombstones of the old abbots lie on the turf, you may still see where the monks sat in the sanctuary, and where they poured the holy water. And whether from within or without, you will survey with reverent admiration. A part of the nave is used as a church for the neighbourhood, and ere I left, the country folk came from all the paths around, summoned by the pealing bell. I looked in and saw richly stained windows and old tombs.

On the rise above the abbey stands a castellated lodge, embodying the ancient gate-house, an occasional resort of the late Duke of Devonshire, to whom the estate belonged. Of all his possessions this perhaps offered him most of beauty and tranquillity.

You may ramble at will; cross the long row of stepping-stones to the opposite bank, and scramble through the wood to the top of the cliff; or roam over the meadows up and down the river, or lounge in idle enjoyment on the seats fixed under some of the trees. After strolling hither and thither, I concealed myself under the branches overhanging the stream, and sat there as in a bower, with my feet in the shallow water, the lively flashing current broad before me, and read,

“From Bolton’s old monastic tower
The bells ring loud with gladsome power;[Pg 194]
The sun shines bright; the fields are gay
With people in their best array
Of stole and doublet, hood and scarf,
Along the banks of crystal Wharfe,
Through the Vale retired and lowly,
Trooping to that summons holy.
And, up among the moorlands, see
What sprinklings of blithe company!”

And while I read, the bell was ringing, and the people were gathering together, and anon the priest

“all tranquilly
Recites the holy liturgy,”

but no White Doe of Rylstone came gliding down to pace timidly among the tombs, and make her couch on a solitary grave.

And reading there on the scene itself, I found a new charm in the pages—a vivid life in the old events and old names:

“Pass, pass who will, yon chantry door;
And through the chink in the fractured floor
Look down, and see a grisly sight;
A vault where the bodies are buried upright!
There, face by face, and hand by hand,
The Claphams and Mauleverers stand;
And, in his place, among son and sire,
Is John de Clapham, that fierce Esquire,
A valiant man, and a name of dread
In the ruthless wars of the White and Red;
Who dragged Earl Pembroke from Banbury church,
And smote off his head on the stones of the porch!
Look down among them, if you dare;
Oft does the White Doe loiter there.”

And here, as at Skipton, we are reminded of the Cliffords, and of the Shepherd Lord, to whom appeared at times the gracious fairy,

“And taught him signs, and showed him sights,
In Craven’s dens, on Cumbrian heights;
When under a cloud of fear he lay,
A shepherd clad in homely gray.”

I left my mossy seat and returned to the bank, thoroughly cooled, on coming to the end of the poem, and started for a travel up the dale. The road skirts the edge of Bolton Park; but the pleasantest way is through the park itself, for there you have grand wooded slopes on each side, and there the river rushing along its limestone bed encounters the far-famed Strid. A rustic, however, told me that no one was allowed to[Pg 195] cross the park on Sunday; but having come to see a sight, I did not like to be disappointed, and thought it best to test the question myself. I kept on, therefore, passing from the open grounds to delightful paths under the woods, bending hither and thither, and with many a rise and fall among rocks and trees. Presently, guided by the roar, I struck through the wood for the stony margin of the river. Here all is rock: great hummocks, ledges and tables of rock, wherein are deep basins, gullies, bays, and shallow pools; and the water makes a loud noise as it struggles past. Here and there a rugged cliff appears, its base buried in underwood, its front hung with ivy; and there are marks on the trees, and portentous signs on the drifted boulders, which reveal the swollen height of floods. There are times when all these Yorkshire rivers become impetuous torrents, roaring along in resistless might and majesty.

A little farther and the rocks form a dam, leaving but a narrow opening in the centre, across which a man may stride, for the passage of the stream—and we behold the Strid. Piling itself up against the barrier, the water rushes through, deep, swift and ungovernable, and boils and eddies below with never-ceasing tumult. The rock on each side of the sluice is worn smooth by the feet of many who have stridden across, caring nothing for the tales that are told of terrible accidents from a slip of the foot or from giddiness. Once a young lady, fascinated by the rapid current, fell in and was drowned in sight of her friends. And

“——mounting high
To days of dim antiquity;
When Lady Aaliza mourned
Her son, and felt in her despair
The pang of unavailing prayer;
Her son in Wharfe’s abysses drowned,
The noble Boy of Egremound.
From which affliction—when the grace
Of God had in her heart found place—
A pious structure, fair to see,
Rose up, the stately Priory!”

For about a mile upwards the river-bed is still rocky, and you see many a pretty effect of rushing water, and perhaps half a dozen strids, but not one with only a single sluice, as the first. No one stopped or turned me back; no peremptory shout threatened me from afar; and truly the river is so shut[Pg 196] in by woods, that intruders could only be seen by an eye somewhere on its brink. Not a soul did I meet, except three countrymen, who, when I came suddenly upon them on doubling a crag, seemed ready to take to flight, for instead of coming the beaten way to view the romantic, they had got over the fence, and scrambled down through the wood. They soon perceived that I was very harmless.

A little farther and we leave the rocks; the woods recede and give place to broad grassy slopes; high up on the right stands the keeper’s house; higher on the left the old square block of Barden Tower peeps above the trees; before us a bridge spans the river, and there we pass into the road which leads through the village of Barden to Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale.

The Wharfe has its source in the bleak moorlands which we saw flanking Cam Fell during our descent from Counterside a few days ago. Rocks and cliffs of various formations beset all its upper course, imparting a different character to the dale every few leagues—savage, romantic, picturesque, and beautiful. No more beautiful scenery is to be found along the river than for some miles above and below Bolton Abbey. Five miles farther down, the stream flows past those two delightful inland watering-places, Ilkley and Ben Rhydding, and onwards between thick woods and broad meadows to Wetherby, below which it is again narrowed by cliffs, until leaving Tadcaster, rich in memories of Rome, it enters the Ouse between Selby and York.

The sight of Barden Tower reminds us once more of the Shepherd Lord, for there he oft did sojourn, enjoying rural scenes and philosophical studies, even after his restoration to rank and estate in his thirty-second year.

“I wish I could have heard thy long-tried lore,
Thou virtuous Lord of Skipton! Thou couldst well
From sage Experience, that best teacher, tell
How far within the Shepherd’s humble door
Lives the sure happiness, that on the floor
Of gay Baronial Halls disdains to dwell,
Though decked with many a feast, and many a spell
Of gorgeous rhyme, and echoing with the roar
Of Pleasure, clamorous round the full-crowned bowl!
Thou hadst (and who had doubted thee?) exprest
What empty baubles are the ermined stole,
Proud coronet, rich walls with tapestry drest,
And music lulling the sick frame to rest!
Bliss only haunts the pure contented soul!”
[Pg 197]

But the blood of his ancestors flowed in his veins, and on the royal summons to arm and array for Flodden, he, at the age of sixty, led his retainers to the field:

“From Penigent to Pendle Hill,
From Linton to Long Addingham,
And all that Craven coasts did till,
They with the lusty Clifford came.”

I crossed the bridge and went up the hill for a view of the ruin. At the top, a broken slope, sprinkled with trees, serves as village green to the few houses which constitute the place known as Barden Tower. Near one of these houses I saw a pretty sight—a youth sitting on a bench under a shady tree reading to his old grandfather from one of those venerable folios written by divines whose head and heart were alike full of their subject—the ways of God towards man, and man’s duty. Wishing to make an inquiry concerning the road, I apologized for my interruption, when both graybeard and lad made room for me between them on the bench, and proffered all they knew of information. But it soon appeared that the particulars I wanted could only be furnished by “uncle, who was up-stairs a-cleaning himself;” so to improve the time until he was ready I passed round the end of the house to the Tower in the rear. The old gateway remains, and some of the ancient timbers; but the upper chambers are now used as lofts for firewood, and the ground-floor is a cow-stall. The external walls are comparatively but little decayed, and appear in places as strong as when they sheltered the Cliffords.

Uncle was there when I returned to the front. He knew the country well, for in his vocation as a butcher he travelled it every week, and enabled me to decide between Kettlewell and Pateley Bridge for my coming route. And more, he said he would like to walk a mile or two with me; he would put on his coat, and soon overtake me. I walked slowly on, and was out of sight of the house, when he came running after me, and cried, “Hey! come back. A cup o’ tea ’ll do neither of us any harm, so come back and have a cup afore we start.”

I went back, for such hospitality as that was not to be slighted; and while we sipped he talked about the pretty scenery, about the rooms which he had to let, and the lodgers he had entertained. Sometimes there came a young couple full of poetry and sentiment, too much so, indeed, to be[Pg 198] merry; sometimes a student, who liked to prowl about the ruin, explore all its secrets, and wander out to where

“High on a point of rugged ground,
Among the wastes of Rylstone Fell,
Above the loftiest ridge or mound
Where foresters or shepherds dwell,
An edifice of warlike frame
Stands single—Norton tower its name—
It fronts all quarters, and looks round
O’er path and road, and plain and dell,
Dark moor, and gleam of pool and stream,
Upon a prospect without bound.”

And he talked, too, about the trout in the river, and the anglers who came to catch them. But the fishing is not unrestricted; leave must be obtained, and a fee paid. Anyone in search of trout or the picturesque, who can content himself with rustic quarters, would find in Mr. Williamson, of Barden Tower, a willing adviser.

Presently we took the road, which, with the river on the right, runs along the hill-side, sheltered by woods, high above the stream. A few minutes brought us to a gate, where we got over, and went a little way down the slope to look at Gale beck, a pretty cascade tumbling into a little dell, delightfully cool, and green with trees, ferns, and mosses. My companion showed that he used his eyes while driving about in his cart, and picked out the choice bits of the scenery; and these he now pointed out to me with all the pride of one who had a personal interest in their reputation. Ere long we emerged from the trees, and could overlook the pleasing features of the dale; fields and meadows on each side of the stream, bounded by steep hills, and crags peeping out from the great dark slopes of firs. The rocky summit of Symon Seat appeared above a brow on the left bank, coming more and more into view as we advanced, till the great hill itself was unveiled. From those rocks, on a clear day, you can see Rosebury Topping, and the towers of York and Ripon.

For four miles did my entertainer accompany me, which, considering the fierce heat of the evening, I could only regard as an honest manifestation of friendliness—to me very gratifying. We parted in sight of Burnsall, a village situate on the fork of the river, where the Littondale branch joins that of Wharfedale proper.

A man who sat reading at his door near the farther end of[Pg 199] the village looked up as I passed, and asked, “Will ye have a drink o’ porter?” Hot weather justified acceptance; he invited me to sit while he went to the barrel, and when he came forth with the foaming jug, he, too, must have a talk. But his talk was not what I expected—the simple words of a simple-minded rustic; he craved to know something, and more than was good, concerning a certain class of publications sold in Holywell-street; things long ago condemned by the moral law, and now very properly brought under the lash of the legal law by Lord Campbell. Having no mission to be a scavenger, I advised him not to meddle with pitch; but he already knew too much, and he mentioned things which help to explain the great demand for the immoral books out of the metropolis. One was, that in a small northern, innocent-looking country town, Adam and Eve balls regularly take place, open to all comers who can pay for admission.

From Burnsall onwards we have again the grass country, the landscape loses the softened character of that in our rear; we follow a bad cross-road for some miles, passing wide apart a solitary farm or cottage, and come into a high-road a little to the right of Threshfield. Here and there a group of labourers are lounging on a grassy bank, smoking, talking quietly, and enjoying the sunset coolness; and I had more than one invitation to tarry and take a friendly pipe.

Louder sounds the noise of the river as the evening lengthens; the dark patches of firs on the hill-sides grow darker; the rocks and cliffs look strange and uncertain; the road approaches a foaming rapid, where another strid makes the water roar impatiently; and so I completed the ten miles from Harden Tower, and came in deep twilight to the Anglers’ Inn at Kilnsey as the good folk were preparing for bed.

As its name denotes, the house is frequented by anglers, who, after paying a fee of half-a-crown a day, find exercise for their skill in the rippling shallows and silent pools of the river which flows past not many yards from the road. I am told that the sport is but indifferent.

A short distance beyond the inn there rises sheer from the road a grand limestone cliff, before which you will be tempted to pause. A low grassy slope, bordered by a narrow brook, forms a natural plinth; small trees and ivy grow from the fissures high overhead, and large trees and bush on the ledges; the colony of swallows that inhabit the holes flit swiftly about[Pg 200] the crest, and what with the contrast of verdure and rock, and the magnitude of the cliff, your eye is alike impressed and gratified. By taking a little trouble you may get to the top, and while looking on the scene beneath, let your thoughts run back to the time when Wharfedale was a loch, such as Loch Long or Loch Fyne, into which the tides of the sea flowed twice a day, beating against the base of the Kilnsey Crag, where now sheep graze, and men pass to and fro on business or pleasure.

To take my start the next morning from so lofty a headland: to feel new life thrill through every limb from the early sun; to drink of the spring which the cliff overshadows where it gushes forth among mossy stones at the root of an ash; to inhale the glorious breeze that tempered the heat, was a delightful beginning of a day’s walk. Soon we cross to the left bank of Wharfe, and follow the road between the river and a cliffy range of rocks to Kettlewell, enjoying pleasing views all the way. And the village itself seems a picture of an earlier age—a street of little stone cottages, backed by gardens and orchards; here and there a queer little shop; the shoemaker sitting with doors and windows open looking out on his flowers every time he lifts his eyes; the smith, who has opened all his shutters to admit the breeze, hammering leisurely, as if half inclined for a holiday with such a wealth of sunshine pouring down; and Nancy Hardaker, Grocer and Draper, and dealer in everything besides, busying herself behind her little panes with little preparations for customers. It is a simple picture: one that makes you believe the honest outward aspect is only the expression of honesty within.

For one who had time to explore the neighbourhood, Kettlewell would be good head-quarters. It has two inns, and a shabby tenement inscribed Temperance Hotel. Hence you may penetrate to the wild fells at the head of the dale; or climb to the top of Great Whernside; or ramble over the shoulder of the great mountain into Coverdale, discovering many a rocky nook, and many a little cascade and flashing rill. Great Whernside, 2263 feet high, commands views into many dales, and affords you a glimpse of far-off hills which we have already climbed. The Great one has a brother named Little Whernside, because he is not so high by nearly three hundred feet. The “limestone pass” between Great Whernside and Buckden Pike is described as a grand bit of mountain scenery.[Pg 201]

From Kettlewell the road still ascends the dale, in sight of the river which now narrows to the dimensions of a brook. Crags and cliffs still break out of the hill-slopes, and more than any other that we have visited, you see that Wharfedale is characterized by scars and cliffs. The changing aspect of the scenery is manifest; the grass is less luxuriant than lower down, and but few of the fields are mown. Starbottom, a little place of rude stone houses, with porches that resemble an outer stair, reminds us once more of a mountain village; but it has trim flower-gardens, and fruit-trees, and a fringe of sycamores.

I came to Buckden, the next village, just in time to dine with the haymakers. Right good fare was provided—roast mutton, salad, and rice pudding. Who would not be a hay-maker! Beyond the village the road turns away from the river, and mounts a steep hill, where, from the top of the bend, we get our last look down Wharfedale, upwards along Langstrothdale, and across the elevated moorlands which enclose Penyghent. Everywhere the gray masses of stone encroach on the waving grass. Still the road mounts, and steeply; on the left, in a field, are a few small enclosures, all standing, which, perhaps, represent the British dwellings at the foot of Addleborough. Still up, through the hamlet of Cray, with rills, rocks, and waterfalls on the right and left, and then the crown of the pass, and a wide ridgy hollow, flanked by cliffs, the outliers of Buckden Pike, which rears itself aloft on the right. Then two or three miles of this breezy expanse, between Stake Fell on one side and Wasset Fell on the other, and we come to the top of Kidstone bank, and suddenly Bishopdale opens before us, a lovely sylvan landscape melting away into Wensleydale. It will tempt you to lie down for half an hour on the soft turf and enjoy the prospect at leisure.

The descent is alike rough and steep, bringing you rapidly down to the first farm. A cliff on the right gradually merges into the rounded swell of a green hill; we come to a plantation where, in the open places by the beck, grow wild strawberries; then to trees on one side—ash, holly, beech, and larch, the stems embraced by ivy, and thorns and wild roses between; then trees on both sides, and the narrow track is beautiful as a Berkshire lane—and that is saying a great deal—and the brook which accompanies it makes a cheerful sound[Pg 202] as if gladdened by the quivering sunbeams that fall upon it. Everywhere the haymakers are at work, and with merry hearts, for the wind blows lustily and makes the whole dale vocal.

By-and-by the lane sends off branches, all alike pretty, one of which brings us down into the lowest meadows, and on the descent we get glimpses of Bolton Castle, and on the right appears Penhill, shouldering forward like a great promontory. A relic of antiquity may yet be seen on its slopes—obscure remains of a Preceptory of the Knights Templars. The watcher on Penhill was one of those who helped to spread the alarm of invasion in the days of Napoleon the Great, for he mistook a fire on the eastern hills for the beacon on Rosebury Topping, and so set his own a-blaze. We come to Thoralby, a village of comfortable signs within, and pleasant prospects without; and now Wensleydale opens, and another half-hour brings us to Aysgarth, a large village four miles below Bainbridge.

A tall maypole stands on the green, the only one I remember to have seen in Yorkshire. It is a memorial of the sports and pastimes for which Wensleydale was famous. The annual feasts and fairs would attract visitors from twenty miles around. Here, at Aysgarth, not the least popular part of the amusements were the races, run by men stark naked, as people not more than forty years old can well remember. But times are changed; and throughout the dale drunkenness and revelry are giving way to teetotalism, lectures, tea-gatherings, and other moral recreations. And the change is noticeable in another particular: the Quakers, who were once numerous in the dale, have disappeared too.

Some two or three years ago a notion prevailed in a certain quarter that the time was ripe for making proselytes, and establishing a meeting once more at Aysgarth. The old meeting-house, the school-room, and dwelling-house, remained; why should they not be restored to their original uses? Was it not “about Wensleydale” that George Fox saw “a great people in white raiment by a river-side?” Did he not, while on his journey up the dale, go into the “steeple-house” and “largely and freely declare the word of life, and have not much persecution,” and afterwards was locked into a parlour as “a young man that was mad, and had run away from his relations?” From certain indications it seemed that a suc[Pg 203]cessful effort might be made; an earnest and active member of the society volunteered to remove with his family from London into Yorkshire to carry out the experiment; and soon the buildings were repaired, the garden was cultivated anew, the doors of the meeting-house were opened; the apostle went about and talked to the people, and gave away tracts freely. The people listened to him, and read his tracts, and were well content to have him among them; but the experiment failed—not one became a Quaker.

At the beginning of the present year (1858) an essay was advertised for, on the causes of the decline of Quakerism, simultaneously with a great increase in the population at large. It appears to me that the causes are not far to seek. One of them I have already mentioned: others consist in what Friends call a “guarded education,” which seeks rather to ignore vice than to implant abhorrence of it; in training children by a false standard: “Do this; don’t do that;” not because it is right or wrong, but because such is or is not the practice of Friends, so that when the children grow old enough to see what a very foolish Mrs. Grundy they have had set before them as a model, they naturally suspect imposition, become restive, and kick over the traces. Moreover, to set up fidgetty crotchets as principles of truth, whereby the sense of the ludicrous is excited in others, and not reverence, is not the way to increase and multiply. Many Quakers now living will remember the earnest controversy that once stirred them as to whether it might be proper to use umbrellas, and to wear hats with a binding round the edge of the brim; and the anxious breeches question, of which a ministress said in her sermon, that it was “matter of concern to see so many of the young men running down into longs, yet the Lord be thanked, there was a precious remnant left in shorts.” And again, silent worship tends to diminish numbers, as also the exceeding weakness—with rare exceptions—of the words that occasionally break the silence; and the absence of an external motive to fix the attention encourages roving thoughts. Hence Darlington railway-shares, and the shop-shelves, and plans for arbours and garden-plots, employ the minds of many who might have other thoughts did they hear—“Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

There is my essay. It is a short one, freely given; for I[Pg 204] must confess to a certain liking for the Quakers, after all. Their charities are noble and generous; their views on many points eminently liberal and enlightened; and though themselves enslaved to crotchets, they have shown bravely and practically that they abhor slavery; and their recent mission to Finland demonstrates the bounty and tenderness with which they seek to mitigate the evils of war. There is in Oxfordshire a little Quaker burial-ground, on the brow of a hill looking far away into the west country, where I have asked leave to have my grave dug, when the time comes: that is, if the sedate folk will admit among them even a dead Philistine.


I saw the Quaker above-mentioned standing at his door: we were total strangers to each other, but my Bainbridge friend had told him there was a chance of my visiting Aysgarth, and he held out his hand. Soon tea was made ready, and after that he called his son, and led me across the hill-slopes to get the best views, and by short cuts down to Aysgarth Force, a mile below the village, where the Ure rushes down three great breaks or steps in the limestone which stretch all across the river. The water is shallow, and falling as a white curtain over the front of each step, shoots swiftly over the broad level to the next plunge, and the next, producing, even in dry weather, a very pleasing effect. But during a flood the steps disappear, and the whole channel is filled by one great rapid, almost terrific in its vehemence. The stony margin of the stream is fretted and worn into many curious forms, and for a mile or more above and below the bed is stone—nothing but stone—while on each side the steep banks are patched and clothed with trees and bush. The broken ground above the Force, interspersed with bush, is a favourite resort of picnic parties, and had been thronged a few days before by a multitude of festive teetotallers.

The bridge which crosses the river between the Force and the village, with its arch of seventy-one feet span springing from two natural piers of limestone, is a remarkably fine object when viewed from below. Above, the river flows noisily from ledge to ledge down a winding gorge.

Drunken Barnaby, who, by the way, was a Yorkshireman, named Richard Braithwaite, came to Wensleydale in one of his itineraries. “Thence,” says the merry fellow[Pg 205]

“Thence to Wenchly, valley-seated,
For antiquity repeated;
Sheep and sheep-herd, as one brother,
Kindly drink to one another;
Till pot-hardy, light as feather,
Sheep and sheep-herd sleep together.


“Thence to Ayscarthe from a mountaine,
Fruitfull valleys, pleasant fountaine,
Woolly flocks, cliffs steep and snewy,
Fields, fens, sedgy rushes, saw I;
Which high mount is called the Temple,
For all prospects an example.”

The church stands in a commanding position, whence there is a good prospect down the dale. Besides the landscape, there are times when the daring innovations made by fashion on the old habits may be observed. Wait in the churchyard on Sunday when service ends, and you will see many a gay skirt, hung with flounces and outspread by crinoline, come flaunting forth from the church. And in this remote village, Miss Metcalfe and Miss Thistlethwaite must do the bidding of coquettish Parisian milliners, even as their sisters do in May Fair.

[Pg 206]


CHAPTER XXIII.

A Walk—Carperby—Despotic Hay-time—Bolton Castle—The Village—Queen Mary’s Prison—Redmire—Scarthe Nick—Pleasing Landscape—Halfpenny House—Hart-Leap Well—View into Swaledale—Richmond—The Castle—Historic Names—The Keep—St. Martin’s Cell—Easby Abbey—Beautiful Ruins—King Arthur and Sleeping Warriors—Ripon—View from the Minster Tower—Archbishop Wilfrid—The Crypt—The Nightly Horn—To Studley—Surprising Trick—Robin Hood’s Well—Fountains Abbey—Pop goes the Weasel—The Ruins—Robin Hood and the Curtall Friar—To Thirsk—The Ancient Elm—Epitaphs.

My friend had for some time wished to look into Swaledale; he therefore accompanied me the next morning, as far as the route served, through the village of Carperby, where dwells a Quaker who has the best grazing farm in the North Riding. We passed without calling, for he must be a philosopher indeed, here in the dales, who can endure interruptions in hay-time, when all who can work are busy in the fields. Ask no man to lend you a horse or labourer in hay-time. Servants give themselves leave in hay-time, and go toiling in the sunshine till all the crop is led, earning as much out of doors in three or four weeks as in six months in-doors. What is it to them that the mistress has to buckle-to, and be her own servant for a while, and see to the washing, and make the bread? as I saw in my friend’s house, knowing that in case of failure the nearest place where a joint of meat or a loaf of bread can be got is at Hawes, eight miles distant. What is it to them? the hay must be made, whether or not.

A few light showers fell, refreshing the thirsty soil, and making the trees and hedgerows rejoice in a livelier green. It was as if Summer were overjoyed:

“Even when she weeps, as oft she will, though surely not for grief,
Her tears are turned to diamond drops on every shining leaf.”

so our walk of four miles to Bolton Castle was the more[Pg 207] agreeable. The old square building, with its four square towers rising above a mass of wood, looks well as you approach from the road; and when you come upon the eminence on which it stands, and see the little village of Bolton, little thatched cottages bordering the green, as old in appearance as the castle, it is as if you looked on a scene from the feudal ages—the rude dwellings of the serfs pitched for safety beneath the walls, as in the days of Richard Lord Scrope, who built the castle four hundred years ago. A considerable portion of the edifice is still habitable; some of the rooms look really comfortable; others are let as workshops to a tinker and glazier, and down in the vaults you see the apparatus for casting sheet-lead. We saw the room in which the hapless Mary was confined, and the window by which, as is said, she tried, but failed, to escape. We went to the top, and looked over into the inner court; and got a bird’s-eye view of the village and of Bolton Park and Hall, amid the wooded landscape; and then to the bottom, down damp stone stairs, to what seemed the lowest vault, where, however, there was a lower depth—the dungeon—into which we descended by a ladder. What a dismal abode! of gloom too dense for one feeble candle to enliven. The man who showed the way said there was a well in one corner; but I saw nothing except that that spot looked blacker than the rest. To think that such a prison should have been built in the “good old times!”

On leaving the village, an old woman gave me a touch of the broadest dialect I had yet heard: “Eh! is ye boun into Swawldawl?” she exclaimed, in reply to my inquiry. We were going into Swaledale, and, taking a byeway above the village of Redmire, soon came to a road leading up the dale to Reeth, into which my friend turned, while I went on to the northern slope of Wensleydale. You ascend by a steep, winding road to Scarthe Nick, the pass on the summit, and there you have a glorious prospect—many a league of hill and hollow, of moor and meadow. From Bolton Castle and its little dependency, which lie well under the eye, you can look down the dale and catch sight of the ruined towers of Middleham; Aysgarth Force reveals itself by a momentary quivering flash; and scattered around, seven churches and eight villages, more or less environed by woods, complete the landscape. The scene, with its wealth of quiet beauty, is one suggestive[Pg 208] of peace and well-being, dear to the Englishman’s heart. To one coming suddenly upon it from the dreary moorlands which lie between Wensleydale and Richmond, there would be something of enchantment in the far-spreading view.

I turned my back on it at last, and followed the road across the moors, where the memory of what you have just left becomes fairer by contrast. The route is solitary, and apparently but little frequented, for in ten miles I met only a man and a boy; and the monotony is only relieved after a while by a falling away of the brown slopes on the right, opening a view of the Hambleton Hills. There is one public-house on the way, the Halfpenny House, down in a hollow, by no means an agreeable resting-place, especially for a hungry man with a liking for cleanliness. Not far from it is Hart-Leap Well, sung by Wordsworth:

“There’s neither dog nor heifer, horse nor sheep,
Will wet his lips within that cup of stone;
And oftentimes when all are fast asleep,
This water doth send forth a dolorous groan.”

By-and-by, perhaps, ere you have done thinking of the poem, you come to the brow of a long declivity, the end of the moors, and are rewarded by a view which rivals that seen from Scarthe Nick. Swaledale opens before you, overspread with waving fields of grain, with numerous farmsteads scattered up and down, with a long range of cliff breaking the opposite slope, and, about four miles distant, Richmond on its lofty seat, crowned by the square castle-keep, tall and massive. I saw it lit by the afternoon sun, and needed no better invitation for a half-hour’s halt on the heathery bank.

You descend to the wheat-fields, and see no more of the town until close upon it. Swale, as you will notice while crossing the bridge, still shows the characteristics of a mountain stream, though broader and deeper than at Thwaite, where we last parted company with it. Very steep is the grass-grown street leading from the river up to the main part of the town, where, having found a comfortable public-house, I went at once to the castle. It occupies the summit of a bluff, which, rising bold and high from the Swale, commands a noble prospect over what Whitaker calls “the Piedmont of Richmondshire.” On the side towards the river, the walls are all broken and ruinous, with here and there a loophole or[Pg 209] window opening, through which you may look abroad on the landscape, and ponder on the changes which have befallen since Alan the Red built a fortress here on the lands given to him in reward for prowess by the Conqueror. It was in 1071 that he began to fortify, and portions of his masonry yet remain, fringed with ivy and tufts of grass, and here and there the bugloss growing from the crevices. Perhaps while you saunter to and fro in the castle-garth the keeper will appear and tell you—though not without leave—his story of the ruins. If it will add to your pleasure, he will show you the spot where George IV. sat when Prince of Wales, and declared the prospect to be the finest he had ever beheld. You will be told which is Robin Hood’s Tower, which the Gold Tower—so called because of a tradition that treasure was once discovered therein—and which is Scolland’s Hall, where knights, and nobles, and high-born dames held their banquets. And here you will be reminded of Fitzhughs and Marmions, Randolph de Glanville, and William the Lion, of Nevilles and Scropes, and of the Lennox—a natural son of Charles II.—to whom the dukedom of Richmond was given by the merry monarch, and to whose descendants it still belongs.

One side of the garth is enclosed by a new building to be used as barracks or a military depôt, and near this, at the angle towards the town, rises the keep. What a mighty tower it is! ninety-nine feet high, the walls eleven feet thick, strengthened on all sides by straight buttresses, an impressive memorial of the Normans. It was built by Earl Conan, seventy-five years after Red Alan’s bastions. The lowest chamber is dark and vaulted, with the rings still remaining to which the lamps were hung, and a floor of natural rock pierced by the old well. The chief entrance is now on the first floor, to which you mount by an outer stair, and the first things you see on entering are the arms and accoutrements of the Yorkshire militia, all carefully arranged. The view from the top delights your eye by its variety and extent—a great sweep of green hills and woods, the winding dale, and beyond, the brown heights that stretch away to the mountains. You see the town and all its picturesque features: the towers of St. Mary’s and of the old Gray Friars’ monastery, and Trinity Chapel at one side of the market-place, now desecrated by an intrusion of petty merchandise. And, following the course of[Pg 210] the river downwards, you can see in the meadows among the woods the ruins of the Abbey of St. Agatha, at Easby. A few miles farther, and the stream flows past Catterick, the Cattaractonium of the Romans; and Bolton-on-Swale, the burial-place of old Jenkins.

On leaving the castle, make your way down to the path which runs round the face of the precipice below the walls, yet high enough above the river for pleasing views: a good place for an evening stroll. Then descend to a lower level, and look back from the new bridge near the railway station; you will be charmed with the singularly picturesque view of the town, clustered all along the hill-top, and terminated by the imposing mass of ruins and the lordly keep. And there is something to be seen near at hand: the station, built in Gothic style, pleasantly situate among trees; St. Martin’s Cell, founded more than seven hundred years ago, now sadly dilapidated, and used as a cow-stall. Beyond, on the slope of the hill, stands the parish church, with a fine lofty tower; and near it are the old grammar school, famous for good scholars; and the Tate Testimonial, a handsome Gothic edifice, with cloisters, where the boys play in rainy weather. It was in that churchyard that Herbert Knowles wrote the poem

“Methinks it is good to be here,”

which has long kept his name in memory.

Turn into the path on the left near the bridge, follow it through the wood which hangs on the slope above the river, then between the meadows and gardens, and past the mill, and you come to Easby Abbey, a charming ruin in a charming spot. You see a gentle eminence, rich in noble trees—the “abbot’s elm” among them—with a mansion on the summit, and in the meadow at the foot the group of ruins, not so far from the river but that you can hear it murmuring briskly along its stony channel. They occupy a considerable space, and the longer you wander from kitchen to refectory, from oratory to chapter-house, under broken arches, from one weedy heap of masonry to another, the more will you become aware of their picturesque beauties. The effect is heightened by magnificent masses of ivy, and trees growing out from the gaping stones, and about the grounds, screening and softening the ancient walls with quivering verdure. Here, for centuries, was the[Pg 211] burial-place of the Scropes, that powerful family who became possessors of Easby not long after the death of Roald, constable of Richmond, founder of the abbey in 1152. Hence the historical associations impart a deeper interest to the loveliness of nature and the beauty of architecture.

The gate-house, also mantled with ivy, stands isolated in the meadow beyond, and Easby church between it and the ruins. And a pretty little church it is—a very jewel. Ivy creeps over it, and apparently through it, for a thick stem grows out of the wall three feet from the ground. Above the porch you may see three carved shields, time-worn memorials of Conyers, Aske, and Scrope.

To linger here while the sun went down, and the shadows darkened behind the walls, and the glory streamed through the blank windows, was a rare enjoyment. It was dusk when I returned to the town, and there I finished with another stroll on the path under the castle, thinking of the ancient legend, and wishing for a peep at the mysterious vault where King Arthur’s warriors lie asleep. Long, long ago, a man, while wandering about the hill, was conducted into an underground vault by a mysterious personage, and there he saw to his amazement a great multitude lying in deep slumber. Ere he recovered, his guide placed in his hands a horn and a sword; he drew the blade half out of the sheath, when lo! every sleeper stirred as if about to awake, and the poor mortal, terror-stricken, loosed his hold, the sword slid back, and the opportunity of release was lost, to recur no more for many a long day. The unlucky wight heard as he crept forth a bitter voice crying:

“Potter, Potter Thompson!
If thou had either drawn
The sword or blown that horn,
Thou’d been the luckiest man
That ever was born.”

By nine o’clock the next morning I was in Ripon, having been obliged to content myself with a glimpse of Northallerton from the railway; and to forego a ramble to the Standard Hill. I was soon on the top of the minster tower looking abroad on the course of the Ure, no longer a dale, as where we last saw it, but a broad vale teeming with corn, and adorned with woods, conspicuous among which are the broad[Pg 212] forest-like masses of Studley Royal—the site of Fountains Abbey. Norton Conyers, the seat of the Nortons, whose names figure in Wordsworth’s poem, lies a few miles up the stream; and a few miles in the other direction are Boroughbridge and Aldborough, once important British and Roman stations. There the base Cartismandua, betrayer of Caractacus, held her court? there the vast rude camp of the legions grew into a sumptuous city; and there was fought one of the battles of the Roses, fatal to Lancaster; and there for years was a stronghold of the boroughmongers. The horizon no longer shows a ring of bleak moorlands, but green swells and wood all round to the east, where the hills of Cleveland terminate the view.

Then, while sauntering on the floor of the stately edifice we may remember that in 661 the King of Northumbria gave a piece of land here to one of his abbots for the foundation of a religious house: that Wilfrid, the learned bishop, replaced the first modest structure by a magnificent monastery, which the heathen Danes burnt and wasted in 860; but Wilfrid, who was presently created Archbishop of York, soon rebuilt his church, surpassing the former in magnificence, and by his learning and resolute assertion of his rights won, for himself great honour, and a festival day in the calendar. The anniversary of his return from Rome whither he went to claim his privileges, is still celebrated in Ripon, by a procession as little accordant with modern notions as that which perpetuates Peeping Tom’s infamous memory at Coventry. The present edifice was built by Roger of Bishopbridge, Archbishop of York in the twelfth century, and renowned for his munificence; but the variations of style—two characters of Norman, and Perpendicular, and a medley in the window, still show how much of the oldest edifice was incorporated with the new, and the alterations at different times.

The crypt is believed to be a portion of the church built by Wilfrid; to reach it you must pass through narrow, darksome passages, and when there, the guide will not fail to show you the hole known as Wilfrid’s needle—a needle of properties as marvellous as the garment offered to the ladies of King Arthur’s court—for no unchaste maiden can pass through the eye. The bone-house and a vault, walled and paved with human bones, still exists; and the guide, availing himself of[Pg 213] a few extraordinary specimens, still delivers his lecture surrounded by ghastly accompaniments.

Without seeing the minster, you would guess Ripon to be a cathedral town; it has the quiet, respectable air which befits the superiorities of the church. The market cross is a tall obelisk, and if you happen to be near it at nine in the evening, you will, perhaps, think of the sonorous custom at Bainbridge, for one of the constables blows three blasts on the horn every night at the mayor’s door, and three more by the market cross. And so the days of Victoria witness a custom said to have been begun in the days of Alfred. The horn is an important instrument in Ripon; it was brought out and worn on feasts and ceremonial days by the “wakeman,” or a serjeant; certain of the mayors have taken pride in beautifying it, and supplying a new belt, and the town arms show a golden horn and black belt ornamented with silver.

At Beverley there are few signs of visitors; here, many, attracted by Fountains Abbey. Carriage after carriage laden with sight-seers rattled past as I walked to Studley, a distance of nearly three miles. Even at the toll-bar on the way you can buy guide-books, as well as ginger-beer. Beyond the gate you may leave the road for a field-path, which crosses the street of Studley, and brings you to a short cut through the park. Soon we come to the magnificent beechen avenue, and standing at the upper end we see a long green walk, with the minster in the distance, and beyond that the dark wold. Then by another avenue on the left we approach the lake and the lodge, where you enter your name in a book, pay a shilling, and are handed over, with the party that happens to be waiting, to the care of a guide. He leads you along broad gravelled paths, between slopes of smooth green turf, flower-beds, shrubberies, rock work, and plantations, to vistas terminated by statues, temples, and lakes filled with coffee-coloured water. To me, the trees seemed more beautiful than anything else; and fancy architecture looked poor by the side of tall beeches, larches, and magnificent Norway pines. And I could not help wishing that Earl de Grey, to whom the estate belongs, would abolish the puerile theatrical trick called The Surprise. Arrived on the brow of an eminence, which overlooks the valley of the little river Skell, you are required to stand two or three yards in the rear of a wooden screen. Then the[Pg 214] guide, with a few words purporting, “Now, you shall see what you shall see,” throws open the doors of the screen, and Fountains Abbey appears in the hollow below. As if the view of such a ruin could be improved by artifice!

Then a descent to Robin Hood’s Well—a spring of delicious water, which you will hardly pass without quaffing a draught to the memory of the merry outlaw. And now we are near the ruin, and, favoured by the elevation of the path, can overlook at once all the ground plan, the abbot’s quarters—under which the Skell flows through an arched channel—the dormitory, the refectory, the lofty arches of the church, and the noble tower rising to a height of one hundred and sixty-six feet.

We were admiring the great extent and picturesque effects of the ruins, when a harsh whistle among the trees on the left struck up Pop goes the Weasel; singularly discordant in such a place. I could not help saying that the whistler deserved banishment, to the edge of the park at least—when the guide answered, “Yes, but he blows the whistle with his nose.” If Earl de Grey would abolish that nosing of a vulgar melody, as well as The Surprise, many a visitor would feel grateful.

Presently we cross the bridge, and there are the yew-trees, one of which sheltered the pious monks, who, scandalized by the lax discipline of the brethren in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary’s, at York, separated from them, migrated hither in December, 1132, and lived for some months, enduring great privations, with no other roof but the trees. Skelldale was then a wild and desolate spot; but the Cistercians persevered; Thurstan befriended them, and in course of years one of the grandest monastic piles that England could boast arose in the meadow bordering the narrow stream. Its roll of abbots numbers thirty-nine names, some of high distinction, whose tombs may yet be seen.

After taking you aside to look at Fountains Hall, a Tudor mansion, the guide leads the way to the cloisters, and, unlocking a door, admits you to the interior of the ruins. The view of the nave, with its Norman pillars and arches extending for nearly two hundred feet, is remarkably imposing; and as you pace slowly over the soft green carpet into the transept, thence to the choir and Lady chapel, each more beautiful than the last, you experience unwonted emotions of delight and sur[Pg 215]prise. Once within the Lady chapel, you will hardly care to leave it for any other portion of the ruins, until the door is unlocked for departure.

The return route is on the opposite side of the valley to that by which you approach. From a hollow in the cliff, a little way on, you may, on turning to take a last look of the ruins, waken a clearly articulate echo; but, alas! the lurking voice is made to utter overmuch nonsense. What would the devout monks say could they hear it? However, if history is to be depended on, even they were not perfect; for towards the close of their career, they fell into evil ways, and became a reproach. As we read:

“In summer time, when leaves grow green,
And flowers are fresh and gay,
Robin Hood and his merry men
Were disposed to play.”

And when Robin, overjoyed at Little John’s skill, exclaims that he would ride a hundred miles to find one to match him,

“That caused Will Scadlocke to laugh,
He laught full heartily:
There lives a curtall fryer in Fountaines Abbey
Will beate both him and thee.”

A right sturdy friar, who with his fifty dogs kept Robin and his fifty men at bay, until Little John’s shooting brought him to terms:

“This curtall fryer had kept Fountaines dale
Seven long yeares and more,
There was neither knight, lord, nor earle
Could make him yeeld before.”

Of old Jenkins, it is recorded that he was once steward to Lord Conyers, who used to send him at times with a message to the Abbot of Fountains Abbey; and that the abbot always gave him, “besides wassel, a quarter of a yard of roast beef for his dinner, and a great black jack of strong beer.” The Abbot of Fountains was one of three Yorkshire abbots beheaded on Tower-hill for their share in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Judging from the one to whom we were allotted, the guides are civil, and not uninformed as to the traditions and history of Studley Royal and its neighbourhood. They are instructed not to lose sight of their party, and to conduct[Pg 216] them only by the prescribed paths. So there is no opportunity for wandering at will, or a leisurely meditation among the ruins.

I walked back to the railway-station at Ripon, and journeyed thence to Thirsk, where a pleasant stroll finished the evening. Of the castle of the Mowbrays—the rendezvous of the English troops when marching to the Battle of the Standard—the site alone remains on the south-west of the town. The chantry, founded by one of the Mowbrays in Old Thirsk, has also disappeared. And the great tree that stood on the green in the same suburb has gone too. It was under the tree on Thirsk green, and not at Topcliffe, as some say, that the fourth Earl Percy was massacred; certain it is, that the elections of members to serve in Parliament were held under the wide-spreading branches even from the earliest times. It was burnt down in 1818 by a party of boys who lit a fire in the hollow trunk. But the ugly old shambles had not disappeared from the market-place: their destruction, however, so said the bookseller, was imminent.

The church, dating from the fifteenth century, has recently been restored, and well repays an examination. Among the epitaphs on the tombstones, I noticed a variation of the old familiar strain:

Afflictions sore he long time bore,
Which wore his strength away,
That made him long for heavenly rest
Which never will decay.

And another, a curiosity in its way:

Corruption, Earth, and worms,
Shall but refine this flesh,
Till my triumphant spirit comes
To put it on A fresh.

[Pg 217]


CHAPTER XXIV.

Sutton: a pretty Village—The Hambleton Hills—Gormire Lake—Zigzags—A Table-Land—Boy and Bull Pup—Skawton—Ryedale—Rievaulx Abbey—Walter L’Espec—A Charming Ruin—The Terrace—The Pavilion—Helmsley—T’ Boos—Kirkby Moorside—Helmsley Castle—A River swallowed—Howardian Hills—Oswaldkirk—Gilling—Fairfax Hall—Coxwold—Sterne’s Residence—York—The Minster Tower—Yorke, Yorke, for my monie—The Four Bars—The City Walls—The Ouse Legend—Yorkshire Philosophical Society—Ruins and Antiquities—St. Mary’s Lodge.

The morning dawns with promise of a glorious day, and of glad enjoyment for us in our coming walk. Our route will lead us through a rich and fertile region to the Hambleton Hills—the range which within the past two weeks has so often terminated our view with its long blue elevations. We shall see another ruin—Rievaulx Abbey, and another old castle at Helmsley—and if all go well, shall sleep at night within the walls of York.

A few miles on the way and we come to Sutton, a pretty village, where nearly every house has its front garden bright with flowers, with tall proud lilies here and there, and standard roses. And every lintel and door-sill is decorated with yellow ochre, and a border of whitewash enlivens even the humblest window. And the inside of the cottages is as clean as the outside, and some have the front room papered. It is truly an English village, for no other country can show the like.

Now the hills stand up grandly before us, showing here and there a scar above the thick woods that clothe their base. The road rises across the broken ground: we come to a lane on the left, marked by a limekiln, and following it upwards between ferny banks and tangled hedges, haunted by the thrush, we arrive presently at Gormire Lake, a pretty sheet of water, reposing in a hollow at the foot of Whitstoncliffe.[Pg 218] It is best seen from the bold green bank at the upper end, for there you face the cliff and the hill which rises behind it, covered with copse and bracken. The lake is considerably above the base of the hill, and appears to have been formed by a landslip; it is tenanted by fish, and has, as I heard subsequently at York, a subterranean outlet somewhere among the fallen fragments at the foot of the cliff.

Returned to the road, we have now to ascend sharp alpine zigzags, for the western face of Hambleton is precipitous; and within a short distance the road makes a rise of eight hundred feet. The increasing ascent and change of direction opens a series of pleasing views, and as you look now this way, now that, along the diversified flanks of the hills, you will wish for more time to wander through such beautiful scenery. All that comparatively level country below was once covered by a sea, to which the hills we now stand on opposed a magnificent shore-line of cliffs; some of their summits more than a thousand feet in height.

Great is the contrast when you arrive on the brow: greenness and fertility suddenly give place to a bleak table-land, where the few patches of cultivation appear but meagre amid acres of brown ling. We have taken a great step upwards into a shrewish region. That white patch seen afar is a hunting and training colony, and there go two grooms riding, followed by a pack of hounds. What a chilly-looking place! A back settlement in Michigan could hardly be more lonely. The boys may well betake themselves for amusement to the education of dogs. Was it here, I wonder, that the Yorkshire boy lived who had a bull pup, in the training of which he took great delight? One day, seeing his father come into the yard, the youngster said, “Father, you go down on your hands and knees and blare like a bull, and see what our pup’ll do.” The parent complied; but while he was doing his best to roar like a bull, the dog flew at him and seized him by the lip. Now the man roared in earnest, and tried to shake off his tormentor, while the boy, dancing in ecstacy, cried, “Bear it, father! bear it! It’ll be the makin’ o’ t’ pup.”

By-and-by comes a descent, and the road drops suddenly into a deep glen, crowded with luxuriant woods. Many a lovely view do we get here, as the windings of the road bring us to wider openings and broader slopes of foliage. We pass the hamlet of Skawton; a brook becomes our companion, and[Pg 219] woods still shut us in when we cross the Rye, a shallow, lively stream, and get a view from the bridge up Ryedale.

A short distance up the stream brings us to the little village of Rivas—as the country folk call it—and to Rievaulx Abbey. The civil old woman who shows the way into the ruin, will tell you that Lord Feversham does not like to see visitors get over the fence; and then, stay as long as you will, she leaves you undisturbed. What a pleasure awaits you!—a charm which Bolton and Fountains failed alike to inspire: perhaps because of the narrowness of the dale, and the feeling of deep seclusion imparted by the high thickly wooded hills on each side, the freedom allowed to vegetation in and around the place, and to your own movements. The style is Early English, and while surveying the massive clustered columns that once supported the tower, the double rows of arches, and the graceful windows now draped with ivy of the nave, you will restore the light and beautiful architecture in imagination, and not without a wish that Time would retrace his flight just for one hour, and show you the abbey in all its primitive beauty, when Ryedale was “a place of vast solitude and horror,” as the old chronicler says.

Walter L’Espec, Lord of the Honour of Helmsley, a baron of high renown in his day, grieving with his wife, the Lady Adeline, over the death of their only son by a fall from a horse, built a priory at Kirkham, the scene of the accident, and in 1131 founded here an abbey for Cistercian monks. And here after some years, during which he distinguished himself at the Battle of the Standard, he took the monastic vows, and gave himself up to devout study and contemplation until his death in 1153. And then he was buried in the glorious edifice which he had raised to the service of God, little dreaming that in later days when, fortress and church would be alike in ruins, other men would come with different thoughts, though perhaps not purer aims, and muse within the walls where he had often knelt in prayer, and admire his work, and respect his memory.

Much remains to delight the eye; flying buttresses, clerestory windows, corbels, capitals, and mouldings, some half buried in the rank grass and nettles. And how the clustering masses of ivy heighten the beauty! One of the stems, that seems to lend strength to the great column against which it leans, is more than three feet in circumference, and bears aloft[Pg 220] a glorious green drapery. An elder grows within the nave, contributing its fair white blossoms to the fulness of beauty. The refectory, too, is half buried with ivy, and there you walk on what was once the floor of the crypt, and see the remains of the groins that supported the floor above: and there at one side is the recess where one of the monks used to read aloud some holy book while the others sat at dinner. Adjoining the refectory is a paddock enclosed by ash-trees, which appears to have been the cloister court. Now the leaves rustle overhead, and birds chirrup in the branches, and swallows flit in and out, and through the openings once filled by glass that rivalled the rainbow in colour.

For two hours did I wander and muse; now sitting in the most retired nook, now retreating to a little distance to find out the best points of view. And my first impression strengthened; and I still feel that of all the abbeys Rievaulx is the one I should like to see again. But the day wore on, and warned me, though reluctant, to depart.

A small fee to the quiet old woman makes her thankful, and prompts her to go and point out the path by which you mount zigzagging through the thick wood to the great terrace near the summit of the hill. It will surprise you to see a natural terrace smooth and green as a lawn, of considerable width, and half a mile in length; that is, the visible extent, for it stretches farther round the heights towards Helmsley. At one end stands a pavilion, decorated in the interior with paintings, at the other a domed temple, and from all the level between you get a glorious prospect up Ryedale—up the dale by which we came from Thirsk, and over leagues of finely-wooded hills, to a rim of swarthy moorland. And beneath, as in a nest, the ancient ruin and the little village repose in the sunshine, and the rapid river twinkles with frequent curves through the meadows.

The gardener who lives in the basement of the pavilion will show you the paintings and a small pamphlet, in which the subjects are described; and perhaps tell you that the family used to come over at times from Duncombe Park and dine in the ornamented chamber. He will request you, moreover, to be careful to shut the gate by which you leave the terrace at a break in the shrubbery.

The road is at the edge of the next field, and leads us in about an hour to Helmsley, a quiet rural town very pleasantly[Pg 221] situated beneath broad slopes of wood. It has a good church, a few quaint old houses, some still covered with thatch, a brook running along the street, a market cross, and a relic of the castle built by De Roos, when Yorkshire still wept the Conquest.

It had surprised me while on the way from Thirsk to find more difficulty in understanding the rustic dialect than in the remoter parts of the north and west. The same peculiarities prevail here in the town; and the landlord’s daughter, who waited on me at the house where I dined, professed a difficulty in understanding me. My question about the omnibus for Gilling completely puzzled her for a few minutes, until light dawned on her, and she exclaimed joyfully, “Oh! ye mean t’ boos!”

A few miles east of Helmsley is Kirkby Moorside, where the proud Duke of Buckingham died, though not “in the worst inn’s worst room;” and near it is Kirkdale, with its antiquated church, and the famous cave in which the discovery of the bones of wild animals some thirty years ago established a new epoch for geologists. From Kirkby you can look across to the hilly moors behind Whitby; and if you incline to explore farther, Castle Howard will repay a visit, and you may go and look into the gorge through which the Derwent flows, at Malton, keeping in mind what geologists tell us, that if the gorge should happen to be closed by any convulsion, the Vale of Pickering would again become a sea.

Of Helmsley Castle the remains are but fragmentary; a portion of the lofty keep stands on an eminence, around which you may still trace the hollows once filled by the triple moat. The gateway is comparatively sound, the barbican is sadly dilapidated; and within other parts of the old walls which have been repaired, Lord Feversham’s tenants assemble once a year to pay their rents. The ruin is so pleasantly embowered by trees and ivy, so agreeable for a lounge on a July day, that I regretted being summoned away too soon by “t’ boos” driver’s horn. There was no time for a look at Feversham House, about half a mile distant, nor for a few miles’ walk to Byland Abbey—another Cistercian edifice—founded in 1143 by Roger de Mowbray. I could only glance at the skirts of the park, where preparations were making for a flower-show, and at the shield on the front of the lodge, bearing the motto, Deo, Regi, Patriæ.[Pg 222]

The Rye here is a smaller stream than at Rievaulx, owing to the loss of water by the ‘swallows’ in Duncombe Park; half a mile lower down it reappears in full current. But the driver is impatient; we shall be too late for the train at Gilling, and the steep Howardian Hills are to be crossed on the way. Fine views open over the woods; then we leave the trees for a while; a vast prospect appears of the Vale of York, and at Oswaldkirk—a picturesque village—the road falling rapidly brings us once more into a wooded region, and in due time we come to Gilling, on the branch railway to Malton.

There was not time, or I would have run up the hill behind the station to look at the noble avenue of beeches that forms a worthy approach to Fairfax Hall—the home of a family venerated by all who love liberty. I felt an emotion of regret when the station-clerk told me that the present Fairfax is an aged man and childless; for ere long the name will disappear, and the estate become a possession of the Cholmleys.

The train arrives; five miles on it stops at Coxwold, where Sterne passed seven years of his life; then two leagues more, and we have to wait ninety minutes for a train down from the north, at Pilmoor junction—a singularly unattractive spot. Luckily I had a book in my knapsack, and so beguiled the time till the bell rang that summoned us to York.

In my wanderings I have sometimes had the curiosity to try a Temperance Hotel, and always repented it, because experience showed that temperance meant poor diet, stingy appliances, and slovenly accommodations. So it was not without misgivings that I resolved to make one more experiment, and see what temperance meant in the metropolis of Yorkshire. The Hotel, which did not displease me, looks into Micklegate, not far from the Bar on which the heads of dukes and nobles were impaled, as mentioned in the Lay of Towton Field.

Considering how many quartos have been filled with the history and description of York, into how many little books the big books have been condensed, every traveller is supposed to know as much as he desires concerning the ancient city, ere he visits it. For one who has but a day to spare, the best way of proceeding is of course to get on the top of the minster tower, and stay there until his memory is refreshed by the sight of what he sees below. At a height of two hundred feet above the pavement you can overlook the great cluster of clean red roofs, and single out the twenty-five[Pg 223] churches that yet remain of the fifty once visible from this same elevation. Clifford’s Tower, a portion of the old castle, stands now within the precincts of the gaol; the line of the city walls can be seen, and the situation of the four Bars; there, by the river, is the Guildhall where King Charles was purchased from the Scots; there the small river Foss, that rises in the Howardian Hills, and once filled the Roman ditches, joins the Ouse. Outside the walls, Severus Hill marks the spot where the emperor, who died here in 210, was burnt on his funeral pile with all the honours due to a wearer of the purple; another hill shows where Scrope was beheaded. To the south lies Bishopthorpe, the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, and residence of the bishops. Eastward is Stamford Brig, where the hard Norwegian king, flushed with victory, lost the battle and his life—where the spoil in gold ornaments was so great, “that twelve young men could hardly carry it upon their shoulders”—whence the victor Harold marched to lose in turn life and crown at Hastings. On the west lies Marston Moor, and farther to the south-west the field of Towton. And then, from wandering afar over the broad vale, your eye returns to the minster itself, and looks down on all its properties, and comfortable residences, snug gardens, and plots of greenest turf, all covering ground on which the Romans built their camp, and where they erected a temple for the worship of heathen deities.

As regards the interior, whatever may have been your emotions of admiration or wonder in other cathedrals, they become fuller and deeper in this of York. After two long visits, I still wished for more time to pace again the lofty aisles, to hear the organ’s rolling notes, while marvelling at the glory of architecture.

In Roger North’s time, as he relates, the interior of the cathedral was the favourite resort of fashionable strollers: in an earlier time, when archery was practised keenly as rifle-shooting in our day, and the prophecy as to the pre-eminence of York was not yet forgotten, a ballad was written in praise of the city: thus

“The Maior of Yorke, with his companie,
Were all in the fieldes, I warrant ye,
To see good rule kept orderly,
As if it had been at London.[Pg 224]
Which was a dutifull sight to see
The Maior and Aldermen there to bee
For the setting forth of Archerie,
As well as they doe at London.
“Yorke, Yorke, for my monie,
Of all the citties that ever I see,
For mery pastime & companie,
Except the cittie of London.”

From the minster walk as far as may be along the city walls: you will see the four Bars—Monk, Micklegate, Walmgate, and Bootham; the first-named still retaining the barbican. In some of the narrow lanes near the water-side you may discover old mansions, the residences of the magnates of York two hundred years ago, now tenanted by numbers of working-people, and grand staircases and panelled rooms, looking dingy and squalid. Then go forth and take a turn under the trees of the New Walk on the bank of the Ouse, and see a much-frequented resort of the citizens, who certainly cannot boast that their environs are romantic. You would hardly believe that the stream flowing so placidly by embosoms the rapid rivers we crossed so often while in the mountains. If legends deceive not, any one who came and threw five white pebbles into a certain part of the Ouse as the hour of one struck on the first morning of May, would then see everything he desired to see, past, present, and to come, on the surface of the water. Once a knight returning from the wars desired to see how it fared with his lady-love: he threw in the pebbles, and beheld the home of the maiden, a mansion near Scarborough, and a youth wearing a mask and cloak descending from her window, and the hiding of the ladder by the serving-man. Maddened by jealousy, he mounted and rode with speed; his horse dropped dead in sight of the house; he saw the same youth ascending the ladder, rushed forward, and stabbed him to the heart. It was his betrothed. She was not faithless; still loved her knight, and had only been to a masquerade. For many a day thereafter did the knight’s anguish and remorse appear as the punishment of unlawful curiosity in the minstrel’s lay and gestour’s romance.

Return, and take a walk in that pleasant ground, half park, half garden, which we saw from the tower, and see how enviable a site has fallen to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society for their museum. To have such a scope of smooth[Pg 225] green turf, flower-beds, shrubs, and trees in the heart of a city, as the shelter of remarkable antiquities and scientific collections, is a rare privilege. At one side stand the remains of St. Leonard’s Hospital—Norman and early English—sheltering, when I saw it, something far, far more ancient than itself—a huge fossil saurian. The ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey appear on the other side; and between the two the Doric edifice, containing the museum, library, and offices of the Society. In another part of the grounds, the Hospitium of the monks, which in a country village would pass for a mediæval barn, now contains the admirable collection of Roman and British antiquities for which York is celebrated. Seeing the numerous tiles stamped with Latin words and numerals, the tombs and altars, the household utensils, and personal ornaments, your idea of the Roman occupation will, perhaps, become more vivid than before; and again, while you examine the fragment of the wall and tower, supposed to have been built by Hadrian, strong and solid even after the lapse of nineteen centuries. And when you look once more at the Abbey and the Hospital, you will regret the ravages of plunderers. For years the ruins were worked as a quarry by all who wanted stone for building purposes, and, as if to accelerate the waste, great heaps were burnt in a limekiln erected on the spot; and it is said that stone pillaged from St. Mary’s at York was used for the repair of Beverley minster.

However, the spirit of preservation has prevented further dilapidation, and old Time himself is constrained to do his wasting imperceptibly. St. Mary’s Lodge, adjoining the abbey, long neglected, and degraded into a pothouse, was restored some years ago, and occupied as a residence by Professor Phillips, whose connexion with the Society will not soon be forgotten. A charming residence it is; and an evening and a morning spent within it, enable me to affirm that its chambers, though clothed in a modern dress, witness hospitality as generous as that of the monks of the olden time.

[Pg 226]


CHAPTER XXV.

By Rail to Leeds—Kirkstall Abbey—Valley of the Aire—Flight to Settle—Giggleswick—Drunken Barnaby again—Nymph and Satyr—The astonished Bagman—What do they Addle?—View from Castleber—George Fox’s Vision on Pendle Hill—Walk to Maum—Companions—Horse versus Scenery—Talk by the Way—Little Wit, muckle Work—Malham Tarn—Ale for Recompense—Malham—Hospitality—Gordale Scar—Scenery versus Horse—Trap for Trout—A Brookside Musing—Malham Cove—Source of the Aire—To Keighley.

On the second morning of my stay in York, after a farewell visit to the minster, I travelled by rail to Leeds. I had little time, and, remembering former days, less inclination to tarry in this great, dismal, cloth-weaving town; so after a passing glance at the new town-hall, and some other improvements, I walked through the long, scraggy suburb such as only a busy manufacturing town can create, to Kirkstall Abbey. This also was an abode of the Cistercians, founded in 1152 by Henry de Lacy; and they who can discourse learnedly on such subjects pronounce it to be, as a ruin, more perfect than some which we have already visited. But it stands only a few yards from a black, much-frequented road, and within sight and hearing of a big forge, and the Aire flows past, not pellucid, but stained with the refuse liquor of dye-works. Still the site is not devoid of natural beauty; and an hour may be agreeably passed in sauntering about the ruin. It must have been a delightful haunt when Leeds was Loidis in Elmete.

I had expected to see the valley of the Aire sprinkled with the villa residences of the merchants of Leeds; but the busy traders prefer to live in the town, and in all the nine miles on the way to Bradford, you have only a succession of factories, dye-works, and excavations, encroaching on and deforming the beauty of the valley, while the vegetation betrays signs of the harmful effect of smoke.[Pg 227]

As the afternoon drew on, I bethought myself that it was the last day of the week, and a desire came over me for one more quiet Sunday among the hills. So I turned aside to Newlay station, and took flight by the first train that came up for Settle, retracing part of my journey through Craven of the week before.

On the way from the station to the town, I made a détour to Giggleswick, a village that claims notice for its grammar-school, a fine cliff—part of the Craven fault—and a remarkable spring. Of his visit to this place Drunken Barnaby chants:

“Thence to Giggleswick most steril,
Hem’d with shelves and rocks of peril,
Near to th’ way, as a traveller goes,
A fine fresh spring both ebbs and flows;
Neither know the learn’d that travel
What procures it, salt or gravel.”

Drayton helps us to a legend which accounts for the origin of the spring. Suppose we pause for a few minutes to read it. Coming to this place, he says:

“At Giggleswick where I a fountain can you show,
That eight times in a day is said to ebb and flow,
Who sometime was a nymph, and in the mountains high
Of Craven, whose blue heads for caps put on the sky,
Amongst th’ Oreads there, and sylvans made abode
(It was ere human foot upon those hills had trod),
Of all the mountain kind and since she was most fair,
It was a satyr’s chance to see her silver hair
Flow loosely at her back, as up a cliff she clame,
Her beauties noting well, her features, and her frame,
And after her he goes; which when she did espy,
Before him like the wind the nimble nymph doth fly,
They hurry down the rocks, o’er hill and dale they drive,
To take her he doth strain, t’ outstrip him she doth strive,
Like one his kind that knew, and greatly fear’d his rape,
And to the topick gods by praying to escape,
They turn’d her to a spring, which as she then did pant,
When wearied with her course, her breath grew wondrous scant:
Even as the fearful nymph, then thick and short did blow,
Now made by them a spring, so doth she ebb and flow.”

It was supper-time when I came to the Lion at Settle. A commercial traveller, who was in the town on his first visit, looked up from his accounts while I sat at table to tell me of a strange word which he had heard during the day, and with as much astonishment as if it had been Esquimaux. Indeed, he had not recovered from his astonishment, and could not[Pg 228] help having a good laugh when he thought of the cause. Seeing a factory on the outskirts of the town, he asked a girl, “What do they make in that factory?”

“What do they addle?” replied the girl, inquiringly. And ever since he had been repeating to himself, “What do they addle?” and always with a fresh burst of laughter.

“Pretty outlandish talk that, isn’t it?” he said, as he finished his story.

Settle is a quiet little town, built at the foot of Castleber, another of the grand cliffs of Craven. To the inhabitants the huge rock is a recreative resort: seats are placed at its base; a zigzag path leads to the summit, whence the views over the valley of the Ribble are very picturesque and pleasing. On the north-west the broad top of Ingleborough is seen peeping over an intervening height; Penyghent appears in the north; and southerly, Pendle Hill rises within the borders of Lancashire. Very beautiful did the dewy landscape seem to me the next morning as I sat on the cliff top while the sunlight increased upon the green expanse.

“As we travelled,” says George Fox in his Journal, “we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered. As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before.” The spring is still there, and known in the neighbourhood as George Fox’s Well.

After breakfast I set out to walk to Malham, about seven miles distant, and was mounting the hill at an easy pace behind the town, when two men came up, and presently told me they also were going to Maum—as they pronounced it. So we joined company, all alike strangers to the road, and came soon to the bye-path of which the ostler at the Lion had advised me: “It would save a mile or more if I could only find the way.” A greater attraction for me was, that it led across the silent pastures on the top of the hills. As I got over the stile, an old man who was passing strongly urged us to keep the road; we should be sure to lose ourselves, and happen never to get to Maum at all. To which I replied, that if a Londoner[Pg 229] and two Yorkshiremen could not find their way across six miles of hill-country they deserved to lose it; and away we went across the field. Ere long we were on breezy slopes, which, opening here and there on the left, revealed curious rocky summits beyond, and as we trod the springy turf, my companions told me they had come by rail from Bentham, and were going to Malham for no other purpose than to see a horse which one of them had sent there “to grass” a few weeks previously. They were as much amused at my admiration of the scenery as I was at their taking so long a journey to look at a quadruped. They would not go out of their way to see Malham Cove, or Gordale Scar, not they: a horse was worth more than all the scenery. And yet, judging by their dress and general conversation, they were men in respectable circumstances. Presently, as we passed a rocky cone springing all yellow and gray from a bright green eminence, I stopped and tried to make them understand why it was admirable, pointing out its form, the contrasts of colour, and its relation to surrounding objects: “Well!” said one, “I never thought of that. It do make a difference when you look at it in that way.”

Neither of them had ever been to London, and what pleased them most was to hear something about the great city. They were as full of wonder, and as ready to express it, as children; and not one of us found the way wearisome. We had taken a new departure when in sight of Stockdale, a solitary farm-house down in a hollow, as instructed, and gained a rougher elevation, when the track, which had become faint, disappeared altogether, and at a spot where no landmark was in sight to guide us. “The old man was right,” said the Yorkshiremen; “we have lost the way;” and they began a debate as to the course now to be followed. At length one strode off in a direction that would have taken him in time to the top of Penyghent. I looked at the sun, and declared for the east. But no, the other remained resolute in his opinion, and would not be persuaded. “Let him go,” I said to his companion, who sided with me; “little wit in the head makes muckle work for the heels;” and we took a course to the east.

After a while the other repented, and came panting after us; and before we had gone half a mile we saw Malham Tarn, broad and blue, at a distance on the left; then the track reappeared; then Malham came in sight, lying far down in a pleasant valley; and then we came into a rough, narrow road,[Pg 230] descending steeply, and the Yorkshireman acknowledged his error.

“Eh! that’s Maum Cove, is it?” he said, as a turn in the road showed us the head of the valley; “that’s what we’ve heard so much talk about. Well, it’s a grand scar.” He seemed to repent of even this morsel of admiration, and helped his neighbour with strong resolutions not to turn aside and look up at the cliff from its base.

We each had a glass of ale at the public-house in the village. Before I was aware, one of my companions paid for the three, nor would he on any terms be persuaded otherwise.

“Hoot, lad,” he rejoined, “say nought about it. I’d pay ten times as much for the pleasure of your talk.” And with that he silenced me.

Although Gordale Scar is not more than a mile from Malham, they refused to go and see it. However, when we came to the grazier’s house, and they heard that the Scar lay in the way to the pasture where the horse was turned out, they thought they wouldn’t mind taking a look just, as they went. The good wife brought out bread, cheese, butter, and a jug of beer, and would have me sit down and partake with the others; regarding my plea that I was a stranger, and had just taken a drink, as worthless. A few minutes sufficed, and then her son accompanied us, for without him the horse would never be found. We followed a road running along the base of the precipitous hills which cross the head of the valley, to a rustic tenement, dignified with the name of Gordale House; and there turned towards the cliffs by the side of a brook. At first there is nothing to indicate your approach to anything extraordinary: you enter a great chasm, where the crags rise high and singularly rugged, sprinkled here and there with a small fir or graceful ash, where the bright green turf, sloping up into all the ins and outs of the dark gray cliff, and the little brook babbling out towards the sunshine, between great masses of rock fallen from above, enliven the otherwise gloomy scene. You might fancy yourself in a great roofless cave; but, ascending to the rear, you find an outlet, a sudden bend in the chasm, narrower, and more rocky and gloomy than the entrance. The cliffs rise higher and overhang fearfully above, appearing to meet indeed at the upper end; and there, from that grim crevice, rushes a waterfall. The water makes a bound, strikes the top of a rock, and, rushing down on each[Pg 231] side, forms an inverted /\ of splash and foam. And now you feel that Gordale Scar deserves all the admiration lavished upon it.

“Well!” exclaimed one of the Yorkshiremen, “who’d ha’ thought to see anything like this? And we living all our life within twenty mile of it! ’Tis a wonderful place.”

“So, you do believe at last,” I rejoined, “that scenery is worth looking at, as well as a horse?”

“That I do. I don’t wonder now that you come all the way from London to see our hills.”

We crossed the fall, climbed up the rock into another bend of the chasm, where the water makes its first plunge, unseen from below, shut in by crags that wear a sterner frown. You look up to the summit and see the water tumbling through a ring of rock, so strangely has the disruptive shock there broken the cliff. The effect both on ear and eye as the torrent breaks into spray and dashes downwards in fantastic channels, is surprisingly impressive.

Only on one side is the pass accessible, and there so steep that your hands must aid in the ascent. We scrambled to the top and found ourselves on the margin of a table-land sloping gently upwards from the edge of the precipice, so bestrewn with upheaved rocks and lumps of stone, that but for the grass which grows rich and sweet between, whereof the sheep bite gladly, the aspect would indeed be savage. Along an irregular furrow, as it may be called, which deepens as it nears the precipice, flows the beck—coming, as the boy told us, from Malham Tarn. There was another small stream, he said, which disappeared in a ‘swallow’ on his father’s pasture; and in that swallow he had many times found large trout, struggling helplessly in their unexpected trap. And, pointing to the highest shoulder of the cliff, he said that a fox, once hard pressed by the hounds, had leaped over, followed by a dog, and both were killed by the fall.

After a few minutes of admiration, the Yorkshiremen and their guide began to move off across the fell, in search of the horse. One of them hoped we should meet again on the way back. The other said, “Not much hope o’ that; for he won’t go away from this till he have learnt it all by heart.” Then we shook hands, and they promised to set up a pile of stones at a certain gate on their return, as a signal to me that they had passed through.[Pg 232]

True enough, I was in no haste to depart, and there was much to admire as well as “to learn.” The sight of the innumerable shelves, with their fringe of grass, the diversity of jagged rocks thrusting their gray heads up into the sunlight, of the rugged and broken slopes, set me longing for a scramble. Hither and thither I went; now to a point where I could see miles of the cliffs, and mark how, in many places, owing to the splitting and shivering, the limestone wall resembles a row of organ pipes. Now into a gap all barren and stony with immemorial screes; where, however, you could hear the faint tinkle of hidden water, and pulling away the stones, discover small ferns and pale blades of grass along the course of the tiny current. Anon, returning to the Scar, I climbed to the top of the crag that juts midway in the rear of the chasm, surveying the scene below; then selecting a nook by the side of the beck, a little above its leap through the ring, I lay down and watched the water as it ran with innumerable sparkling cascades from the rise of the fell. Here the solitude was complete, and the view limited to a few yards of the hollow water-course patched with green and gray, and the bright blue sky above.

And while I lay, soothed by the murmur of the water, looking up at the great white clouds floating slowly across the blue, certain thoughts that had haunted me for some days shaped themselves in order in my brain; and with your permission, gracious reader, I here produce them:

A cloud of care had come across my mind;
Ill-balanced hung the world: here pleasure all;
There hopeless toil, and cruel pangs that fall
On Poverty, to which but death seemed kind.
And so, with heart perplexed, I left behind
The crowd of men, the town with smoky pall,
And sought the hills, and breathed the mountain wind.
Hath God forgotten then the mean and small?
I mused, and gazed o’er purple fells outroll’d;
When, lo! beneath an old thatched roof a gleam
That kindled soon with sunset’s gorgeous gold:
Broad panes, nor fretted oriel brighter beam.
If glories thus on lattice rude unfold,
Of life unlit by Heaven we may not deem.

The sun was beginning to drop towards the west before I left the pleasant hollow; and then with reluctance, for my holiday was near its close, and months would elapse before I should again hear the voice of a mountain brook, and slake[Pg 233] myself in sunshine. Having returned to the village, I kept along the river bank to the head of the valley, where copse and enormous boulders, scattered about the narrow grassy level and in the bed of the stream, make a fine foreground to the magnificent limestone cliff of Malham Cove. Rising sheer to a height of nearly three hundred feet, the precipice curving inwards, buttressed on each side by woody slopes, realizes Wordsworth’s description—“semicirque profound;” and while you look up at its pale marble-like surface, broken only by a narrow shelf—a stripe of green—accessible to goats and adventurous boys, you will be ready to say with the bard,

“Oh, had this vast theatric structure wound
With finished sweep into a perfect round,
No mightier work had gained the plausive smile
Of all-beholding Phœbus!”

At a distance you might well imagine it to be a towering ruin, from which Time has not yet gnawed the traces of fallen chambers and colonnades. And perhaps yet more will you desire to see the cataract which once came rushing down in one tremendous plunge from the summit, as is said, owing to some temporary stoppage of the underground channels. What a glorious fall that must have been! more than twice the height of Niagara.

From a low flat arch at the base of the cliff, about twenty feet in width, the river Aire rushes out, copiously fed by a subterranean source. The water sparkles as it flows forth into the light of day, and begins its course clear and bright as truth, yet fated to receive many a defilement ere it pours into the Ouse. Could the Naiads forsee what is to befall, how piteous would be their lamentations! The stream is at once of considerable volume, inhabited by trout, and you may fish at the very mouth of the arch.

Here, too, I scrambled up and down, crossed and recrossed the stream, to find all the points of view; then ascending to the hill-top I traced the line of cliff from the Cove to Gordale. It is a continuation of that great geological phenomenon already mentioned—the Craven fault—which, extending yet farther, terminates near Threshfield, the village by which we passed last Sunday on our way to Kettlewell.

My return walk was quiet enough, and favourable to meditation. The Yorkshiremen had set up the preconcerted[Pg 234] signal by the gate. I hope the horse did not drive the Scar quite out of their memory. Perhaps a lasting impression was made; for “Gordale-chasm” is, as Wordsworth says,

“——terrific as the lair
Where the young lions couch.”

I left Settle by the last evening train, journeying for the third time over the same ground, and came to the Devonshire Arms at Keighley just before the doors were locked for the night.

[Pg 235]


CHAPTER XXVI.

Keighley—Men in Pinafores—Walk to Haworth—Charlotte Brontë’s Birthplace—The Church—The Pew—The Tombstone—The Marriage Register—Shipley—Saltaire—A Model Town—Household Arrangements—I isn’t the Gaffer—A Model Factory—Acres of Floors—Miles of Shafting—Weaving Shed—Thirty Thousand Yards a Day—Cunning Machinery—First Fleeces—Shipley Feast—Scraps of Dialect—To Bradford—Rival Towns—Yorkshire Sleuth-hounds—Die like a Britoner.

Keighley is not pronounced Kayley, as you might suppose, but Keatley, or Keithley, as some of the natives have it, flinging in a touch of the guttural. Like Skipton, it is a stony town; and, as the tall chimneys indicate, gets its living by converting wool into wearing apparel of sundry kinds. You meet numbers of men clad in long blue pinafores, from throat to instep; wool-sorters, who thus protect themselves from fluff.

The factory people were going to work next morning—the youngsters clattering over the pavement in their wooden clogs—as I left the town by the Halifax road, for Haworth, a walk of four miles, and all the way up-hill. The road runs along one side of a valley, which, when the houses are left behind, looks pretty with numerous trees and fields of grass and wheat, and a winding brook, and makes a pleasing foreground to the view of the town. The road itself is neither town nor country; the footpaths, as is not uncommon in Yorkshire, are paved nearly all the way; and houses are frequent, tenanted by weavers, with here and there a little shop displaying oaten bread. An hour of ascent and you come to a cross-road, where, turning to the right for about a furlong, you see Haworth, piled from base to summit of a steep hill, the highest point crowned by the church. The road makes a long bend in approaching the acclivity, which, if you choose, may be avoided by a cut-off; but coming as a[Pg 236] pilgrim you will perhaps at first desire to see all. You pass a board which notifies Haworth Town, and then begins the ascent painfully steep, bounded on one side by houses, on the other—where you look into the valley—by little gardens and a line of ragged little sheds and hutches. What a wearisome hill; you will half doubt whether horses can draw a load up it. Presently we have houses on both sides, and shops with plate-glass and mahogany mouldings, contrasting strongly with the general rustic aspect, and the primitive shop of the Clogger. Some of the windows denote an expectation of visitors; the apothecary exhibits photographs of the church, the parsonage, and Mr. Brontë; and no one seems surprised at your arrival.

The Black Bull stands invitingly on the hill-top. I was ready for breakfast, and the hostess quite ready to serve; and while I ate she talked of the family who made Haworth famous. She knew them all, brother and sisters: Mr. Nicholls had preached the day before in the morning; Mr. Brontë in the afternoon. It was mostly in the afternoon that the old gentleman preached, and he delivered his sermon without a book. The people felt sorry for his bereavements; and they all liked Mr. Nicholls. She had had a good many visitors, but expected “a vast” before the summer was over.

From the inn to the churchyard is but a few paces. The church is ugly enough to have had a Puritan for architect; and there, just beyond the crowded graves, stands the parsonage, as unsmiling as the church. After I had looked at it from a distance, and around on the landscape, which, in summer dress, is not dreary, though bounded by dark moors, the sexton came and admitted me to the church. He points to the low roof, and quotes Milton, and leads you to the family pew, and shows you the corner where she—that is, Charlotte—used to sit; and against the wall, but a few feet from this corner, you see the long plain memorial stone, with its melancholy list of names. As they descend, the inscriptions crowd close together; and beneath the lowest, that which records the decease of her who wrote Jane Eyre, there remains but a narrow blank for those which are to follow.[E]

[E] This stone, as stated in the newspapers, has since been replaced by a larger one, with sculptured ornaments.

Then the sexton, turning away to the vestry, showed me in the marriage register the signatures of Charlotte Brontë, her[Pg 237] husband, and father; and next, his collection of photographs, with an intimation that they were for sale. When he saw that I had not the slightest inclination to become a purchaser, to have seen the place was quite enough; he said, that if I had a card to send in the old gentleman would see me. It seemed to me, I replied, that the greatest kindness a stranger could show to the venerable pastor, would be, not to intrude upon him.

On some of the pews I noticed small plates affixed, notifying that Mr. Mudbeck of Windytop Farm, or some other parishioner of somewhere else, “hath” three sittings, or four and a quarter, and so forth; and this invasion by ‘vested rights’ of the house of prayer and thanksgiving, appeared to me as the finishing touch of its unattractive features.

The sexton invited me to ascend the tower, but discovered that the key was missing; so, as I could not delay, I made a brief excursion on the moor behind the house, where heather-bloom masked the sombre hue; and then walked back to Keighley, and took the train for Shipley, the nearest station to Saltaire.

It was the day of Shipley feast, and the place was all in a hubbub, and numbers of factory people, leaving for a while their habitual manufacture of woollen goods out of a mixture of woollen and cotton, had come together to enjoy themselves. But no one seemed happy except the children; the men and women looked as if they did not know what to do with themselves. I took the opportunity to scan faces, and could not fail to be struck by the general ill-favoured expression. Whatever approach towards good looks that there was, clearly lay with the men; the women were positively ugly, and numbers of them remarkable for that protruding lower jaw which so characterizes many of the Irish peasantry.

Saltaire is about a mile from Shipley. It is a new settlement in an old country; a most noteworthy example of what enterprise can and will accomplish where trade confides in political and social security. Here, in an agreeable district of the valley of the Aire—wooded hills on both sides—a magnificent factory and dependent town have been built, and with so much judgment as to mitigate or overcome the evils to which towns and factories have so long been obnoxious. The factory is built of stone in pure Italian style, and has a truly palatial appearance. What would the Plantagenets say, could[Pg 238] they come back to life, and see trade inhabiting palaces far more stately than those of kings? The main building, of six stories, is seventy-two feet in height, and five hundred and fifty feet in length. In front, at some distance, standing quite apart, rises the great chimney, to an elevation of two hundred and fifty feet; a fine ornamental object, built to resemble a campanile.

The site is well chosen on the right bank of the Aire, between the Leeds and Liverpool canal, and the Leeds and Lancaster railway. Hence the readiest means are available for the reception and despatch of merchandise. A little apart, extending up the gentle slope, the young town of Saltaire is built, and in such a way as to realize the aspirations of a sanitary reformer. The houses are ranged in parallelograms, of which I counted sixteen, the fronts looking into a spacious street; the backs into a lane about seven feet in width, which facilitates ventilation, admits the scavenger’s cart, and serves as drying-ground. Streets and lanes are completely paved, the footways are excellent; there is a pillar post-office, and no lack of gas-lamps. The number of shopkeepers is regulated by Messrs. Salt, the owners of the property; and while one baker and grocer suffices to supply the wants of the town others will not be allowed to come in. A congregational chapel affords place for religious worship, and a concert-hall for musical recreation, or lectures, The men who wish to tipple must go down to Shipley, for Saltaire, as yet, has no public-house. If I mistake not, the owners are unwilling that there shall be one.

My request for leave to look in-doors was readily granted. The ordinary class of houses have a kitchen with oven and boiler, a sink and copper; a parlour, or ‘house’ in the vernacular, two bedrooms, and a small back-yard, with out-offices. The floors, mantlepiece, and stairs, are of stone. The rent is 3s. 1d. a week. Gas is laid on at an extra charge, and the tenant finds burners. The supply of water is ample, but the water is hard, and has a smack of peat-bog in its flavour. A woman whom I saw washing, told me the water lost much of its hardness if left to stand awhile. Each house has a back-door opening into the lane; and every stercorarium voids into the ash-pit, which is cleared out once a week at the landlord’s cost. The pits are all accessible by a small trap-door from the lane; hence there is no intrusion on the premises in the[Pg 239] work of cleansing. The drainage in other respects is well cared for; and the whole place is so clean and substantial, with handsome fronts to the principal rows, that you feel pleasure in observing it.

The central and corner houses are a story higher than the rest, and what with these and the handsome rows above referred to, there is accommodation for all classes of the employed—spinners, overlookers, and clerks. After building two or three of the parallelograms, it was discovered that cellars were desirable, and since then every house has its cellar, in which, as the woman said, “we can keep our meat and milk sweet in hot weather.” What a contrast, I thought, to the one closet in a lodging in some large town, where the food is kept side by side with soap and candles, the duster, and scrubbing-brush! And though the stone floors look chilly, coal is only fivepence-halfpenny a hundred-weight.

No one is allowed to live in the town who is not in some way employed by the firm. Most of the tenants to whom I spoke, expressed themselves well satisfied with their quarters, but two or three thought the houses dear; they could get a place down at Shipley, or Shipla, as they pronounced it, for two-and-sixpence a week. I put a question to the baker: “I isn’t the gaffer,” he answered.

“Never mind,” I replied; “if you are not the master, we can talk all the same.”

He thought we could; and he too was one of those who did not like the new town. ’Twas too dear. He lived at Shipla, and paid but four pounds a year for a house with a cellar under it, and a garden behind; and there he kept a pig, which was not permitted at Saltaire. There was “a vast” worked in the mill who did not live under Mr. Salt; they came from Bradford, and a train, called the Saltaire train, “brought ’em in the morning, and fetched ’em home at night.”

The railway runs between the town and the factory. You cross by a handsome stone bridge, quite in keeping with the prevalent style of architecture. The hands were returning from dinner as I approached after my survey of the colony, and the prodigious clatter of clogs was well-nigh deafening. My letter of introduction procured me the favour of Mr. George Salt’s guidance. First, he showed me a model of the premises, by which I saw that a six-story wing, if such it may be called, comprising the warehouses, projects at a right[Pg 240] angle from the rear of the main building, with the combing-shed on one side, the weaving-shed on the other. In that combing-shed 3500 persons sat down in perfect comfort to a house-warming dinner. The weaving-shed is twice as large. Then there are the workshops of the smiths, machinists, and other artisans; packing, washing, and drying-rooms, and a gasometer to maintain five thousand lights; so that in all the buildings cover six acres and a half. Include the whole of the floors, and the space is twelve acres. Rails are laid from the line in front into the ground-floor of the building; hence there is no porterage, no loading and unloading except by machinery; and the canal at the back is equally convenient for water-carriage. In front the ground is laid out as an ornamental shrubbery, terminated at one corner by the graceful campanile.

Then I was conducted to the boilers, a row of ten, sunk underground in the solid rock, below the level of the shrubbery. They devour one hundred and twenty tons of coal in a week; but with economy, for the tall chimney pours out no clouds of dense black smoke. The prevention is accomplished by careful feeding, and leaving the furnace-door open half an inch, to admit a full stream of air. I was amazed at the sight of such a range of boilers, and yet they were not enough, and an excavation was making to receive others.

Then to the engine-room, where the sight of the tremendous machinery was a fresh surprise. Here are erected two separate pairs of engines, combining 1250-horse power, by Fairbairn, of Manchester. You see how beauty of construction consorts with ponderous strength. Polished iron, glittering brass, and shining mahogany, testify to the excellence of Lancashire handicraft in 1853, the date of the engines. The mahogany is used for casing; and here, as with the boilers, every precaution is used to prevent the escape of heat. As you watch the great cogged fly-wheels spinning round with resistless force, you will hardly be surprised to hear that they impart motion to two miles of ‘shafting,’ which weighs in all six hundred tons, and rotates from sixty to two hundred and fifty times a minute. And this shafting, of which the diameter is from two to fourteen inches, sets twelve hundred power-looms going, besides fulfilling all its other multifarious duties.

Then we went from one noisy floor to another among[Pg 241] troops of spinners, finding everywhere proofs of the same presiding judgment. All is fire-proof; the beams and columns are of cast-iron; the floors rest on arches of hollow bricks; and the ventilation, maintained by inlets a few inches above the floor, and outlets near the ceiling, where hot-water pipes keep up a temperature of sixty degrees, is perfect, without draughts. The top room in the main building, running from end to end for five hundred and fifty feet without a break, said to be the largest room in Europe, is an impressive sight, filled with ranks of busy machines and busy workers.

In the weaving-shed, all the driving gear is placed beneath the floor, so that you have a clear prospect over the whole area at once, uninterrupted by the usual array of rapid wheels and flying straps. Vast as is the appetite of those twelve hundred looms for warp and weft, it is kept satisfied from the mill’s own resources; and in one day they deliver thirty thousand yards of alpaca, or other kinds of woollen cloth. Multiply that quantity, reader, by the number of working days in a year, and you will discover to what an amazing extent the markets of the world are supplied by this one establishment of Titus Salt and Co.

Some portions of the machinery do their work with marvellous precision and dexterity,

“——as if the iron thought!”

and it seemed to me that I could never have tired of watching the machine that took the wool, one fringe-like instalment after another, from assiduous cylinders, and delivered it to another series of movements which placed the fibres all in one direction, and produced the rough outline of the future thread. Another ingenious device weaves two pieces at once all in one width, and with four selvages, of which two are, of course, in the middle of the web, and yet there is no difference in appearance between those two inner ones and those on the outer edges. The piece is afterwards divided along the narrow line left between them. Even in the noisome washing-room there was something to admire. The wool, after a course of pushing to and fro in a cistern of hot water by two great rakes, is delivered to an endless web by a revolving cylinder. This cylinder is armed with[Pg 242] rows of long brass teeth, and as they would be in the way of the web on their descent, they disappear within the body of the cylinder at the critical moment, and come presently forth again to continue their lift.

In the warehouse, I was shown that the wool is sorted into eight qualities, sometimes a ninth; and the care bestowed on this preliminary operation may be judged of from the fact, that every sorting passes in succession through two sets of hands. There, too, I learned that the first fleece of Gimmer hogs is among the best of English wool; and, indeed, it feels quite silky in comparison with other kinds. The quality loses in goodness with every subsequent shearing. The clippings and refuse are purchased by the shoddy makers, those ingenious converters of old clothes into new.

Where alpaca and other fine cloths are so largely manufactured, the question as to a continuous supply of finest wool becomes of serious importance. Mr. Salt has done what he can to provide for a supply by introducing the alpaca sheep into Australia and the Cape of Good Hope.

On my coming, I had thought the counting-house, and offices, and visitors’ room too luxurious for a mere place of business; but when I returned thither to take leave, with the impression of the enormous scale of the business, and the means by which it is accomplished fresh on my mind, these appeared quite in harmony with all the rest. And when I stood, taking a last look around, on the railway bridge, I felt that he whose large foresight had planned so stately a home for industry, and set it down here in a sylvan valley, deserved no mean place among the Worthies of Yorkshire.

I walked back to Shipley, and there spent some time sauntering to and fro in the throng, which had greatly increased during the afternoon. There was no increase of amusement, however, with increase of numbers; and the chief diversion seemed to consist in watching the swings and roundabouts, and eating gingerbread. Now and then little troops of damsels elbowed their way through, bedizened in such finery as would have thrown a negro into ecstacies. “That caps me!” cried a young man, as one of the parties went past, outvying all the rest in staring colours.

“There’s a vast of ’em coom t’ feast, isn’t there?” replied his companion; “and there ’ll be more, afore noight.[Pg 243]

“Look at Bobby,” said an aunt of her little nephew, who had been disappointed of a cake; “Look at Bobby! He’s fit to cry.”

“What’s ta do?” shouted a countryman, as he was pushed rudely aside; “runnin’ agean t’ foaks! What d’ye come poakin yer noase thro’ here for?”

“Ah’m puzzeld wi’ t’ craad” (crowd), answered the offender.

After hearing many more fragments of West Riding dialect, I forced my way to the railway-station, and went to Bradford. Few towns show more striking evidences of change than this; and the bits of old Bradford, little one-story tenements with stone roofs, left standing among tall and handsome warehouses, strengthen the contrast. Bradford and Leeds, only nine miles apart, have been looked upon as rivals; and it was said that no sooner did one town erect a new building than the other built one larger or handsomer; and now Bradford boasts its St. George’s Hall, and Leeds its Town Hall, crowned by a lofty tower. But what avails a tower, even two hundred and forty feet high, when a letter was once received, addressed, “Leeds, near Bradford!

Your Yorkshireman of the West Riding is, so Mrs. Gaskell says, “a sleuth-hound” after money. As there is nothing like testimony, let me end this chapter with a brace of anecdotes, and you, reader, may draw your own inference.

Not far from Bradford, an old couple lived on their farm. The good man had been ill for some time, when the practitioner who attended him advised that a physician should be summoned from Bradford for a consultation. The doctor came, looked into the case, gave his opinion; and descending from the sick-room to the kitchen, was there accosted by the old woman, with,

“Well, doctor, what’s your charge?”

“My fee is a guinea.”

“A guinea,—doctor! a guinea! And if ye come again will it be another guinea?”

“Yes; but I shall hardly have to come again. I have given my opinion, and leave the patient in very good hands.”

“A guinea, doctor! Hech!”

The old woman rose, went upstairs to her husband’s bed[Pg 244]side, and the doctor, who waited below, heard her say, “He charges a guinea. And if he comes again, it’ll be another guinea. Now what do ye say?—If I were ye, I’d say no, like a Britoner; and I’d die first!”

Though very brief, the other illustration is not less demonstrative. A friend of mine, whose brother had just been married, happening to mention the incident to a friend of his, during a visit to the town, was immediately met by the question:—

“Money?”

“No.”

“Fool!” was Bradford’s reply.

[Pg 245]


CHAPTER XXVII.

Bradford’s Fame—Visit to Warehouses—A Smoky Prospect—Ways and Means of Trade—What John Bull likes—What Brother Jonathan likes—Vulcan’s Head-quarters—Cleckheaton—Heckmondwike—Busy Traffic—Mirfield—Robin Hood’s Grave—Batley the Shoddyopolis—All the World’s Tatters—Aspects of Batley—A Boy capt—The Devil’s Den—Grinding Rags—Mixing and Oiling—Shoddy and Shoddy—Tricks with Rags—The Scribbling Machine—Short Flocks, Long Threads—Spinners and Weavers—Dyeing, Dressing, and Pressing—A Moral in Shoddy—A Surprise of Real Cloth—Iron, Lead, and Coal—To Wakefield—A Disappointment—The Old Chapel—The Battle-field—To Barnsley—Bairnsla Dialect—Sheffield.

“What is Bradford famous for?” was the question put at a school-examination somewhere within the West Riding.

“For its shoddy,” answered one of the boys. An answer that greatly scandalized certain of the parents who had come from Bradford; and not without reason, for although shoddy is manufactured within sight of the smoke of the town, Bradford is really the great mart for stuffs and worsted goods, as Leeds is for broadcloth.

I had seen how stuffs were made, and wished now to see in what manner they were sent into the market. A clerk who came to the inn during the evening for a glass of ale and gossip, invited me to visit the warehouse in which he was employed, on the following morning. I went, and as he had not repented of his invitation, I saw all he had to show, and then, at his suggestion, went to the ‘crack’ warehouse of Bradford, where business is carried on with elegant and somewhat luxurious appliances. I handed my card to a gentleman in the office, and was not surprised to hear for answer that strangers could not be admitted for obvious reasons, and was turning away, when he said, musingly, that my name seemed familiar to him, and after a little reflection, he added: “Yes, yes—now I have it. It[Pg 246] was on the title-page of A Londoner’s Walk to the Land’s End. How that book made me long for a trip to Cornwall! And you are the Londoner! Well, of course you shall see the warehouse.”

So I was introduced into the lift, and away we were hoisted up to the fifth or sixth story, when I was first led to the gazebo on the roof, that I might enjoy the prospect of the town and neighbourhood. What a prospect! a great mass of houses, and rounded heights beyond, dimly seen through a rolling canopy of smoke. The sky of London is brilliant in comparison. May it never be my doom to live in Bradford, or Leeds, or Sheffield, or Manchester!

We soon exchanged the dismal outlook for the topmost floor, where I saw heaps of ‘tabs,’ stacks of boards, boxes, and paper for packing. The tabs, which are the narrow strips that hang out from the ends of the pieces while on show, are kept for a time as references. The number and variety of the boards, on which the pieces are wound, are surprising: some are thick, to add bulk and weight to the piece of stuff in which it is to be enveloped; some thin, to save cost in transport; some broad, some narrow, so that every market may have its whims and wants gratified. The Germans who pay heavily for carriage, prefer thin boards: Brother Jonathan as well as John Bull, likes the sight of a good pennyworth, and gets a thick board. The preparation of these boards alone must be no insignificant branch of trade in Bradford; and remembering how many warehouses in other towns use up stacks of boards every month, we see a large consumption of Norway timber at once accounted for.

I saw the press cutting the slips of white paper in which the pieces are tied, and tickets and fancy bands and labels intended to tickle the eyes of customers, without end. A peculiar kind of embossed paper, somewhat resembling a rough towel, is provided to wrap up the American purchases; and Brother Jonathan requires that his pieces should be folded in a peculiar way, so that he may show the quality without loss of time when selling to his own impatient countrymen. Nimble machines measure the pieces at the rate of a thousand yards an hour, and others wind the lengths promptly on the boards; and, judging from appearances, clerks, salesmen, and porters work as if they too were ac[Pg 247]tuated by the steam. And then, while descending from floor to floor, to see the prodigious piles of pieces on racks and shelves, or awaiting their turn in the hydraulic press which packs them solid as a bastion, was a wonder. There were moreen, bombazine, alpaca, camlet, orleans, berége, Australian cord, cable cord, and many kinds as new to me as they would have been to a fakir. One heavy black stuff was pointed out as manufactured purposely for the vestments of Romish priests. And running through each room I saw a small lift, in which account books, orders, patterns, and such like, are passed up and down, and now and then a signal to a clerk to be cautious of pushing sales. And, lastly, on the ground-floor I saw the handsome dining-room, wherein many a customer had enjoyed the hospitality of the firm, and drunk the generous sherry that inspired him to buy up to a thousand when he purposed only five hundred.

This brief sketch includes the two warehouses; one, however—the elegant one—confines itself to the home trade. I made due acknowledgments for the favour shown to me, and hastening to the railway-station, took the train for Mirfield. The line passes the great Lowmoor iron-works, where furnaces, little mountains of ore, coal, limestone, and iron, and cranes and trucks, and overwhelming smoke, and a general blackness, suggest ideas of Vulcan and his tremendous smithy. And besides there is a stir, and a going to and fro, that betoken urgent work; and you will believe a passenger’s remark, that “Lowmoor could of itself keep a railway going.” We pass Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike, places that have something sylvan in the sound of their names; but although the country if left to itself would be pretty enough, it is sadly disfigured by smoke and the remorseless inroads of trade. Yet who can travel here in the West Riding and not be struck by the busy traffic, the sight of chimneys, quarries, canals, and tramways, and trains heavy laden, coming and going continually! And connected with this traffic there is one particular especially worthy of imitation in other counties: it is, that nearly every train throughout the day has third-class carriages.

Mirfield is in the pleasant valley of the Calder. While waiting for a train to Batley, I walked along the bank of the stream thinking of Robin Hood, who lies buried at Kirklees, a few miles up the valley, where a treacherous hand let out his life:[Pg 248]

“Lay me a green sod under my head,
And another at my feet;
And lay my bent bow by my side,
Which was my music sweet;
And make my grave of gravel and green,
Which is most right and meet.
“Let me have length and breadth enough,
With a green sod under my head;
That they may say when I am dead,
Here lies bold Robin Hood.”

The object of my visit to Batley was to see the making of shoddy. To leave Yorkshire ignorant of one of our latest national institutions would be a reproach. We live in an age of shoddy, in more senses than one. You may begin with the hovel, and trace shoddy all through society, even up to the House of Peers. I had not long to wait: there was a bird’s-eye view of Dewsbury in passing, and a few minutes brought me to Batley, the head-quarters of shoddy. On alighting at the station, the sight of great pockets or bales piled up in stacks or laden on trucks, every bale branded Anvers, and casks of oil from Sevila, gave me at once a proof that I had come to the right place; for here were rags shipped at Antwerp from all parts of northern Europe. Think of that. Hither were brought tatters from pediculous Poland, from the gipsies of Hungary, from the beggars and scarecrows of Germany, from the frowsy peasants of Muscovy; to say nothing of snips and shreds from monks’ gowns and lawyers’ robes, from postilions’ jackets and soldiers’ uniforms, from maidens’ bodices and noblemen’s cloaks. A vast medley, truly! and all to be manufactured into broadcloth in Yorkshire. No wonder that the Univers declares England is to perish by her commerce.

The walk to the town gives you such a view as can only be seen in a manufacturing district: hills, fields, meadows, and rough slopes, all bestrewn with cottages, factories, warehouses, sheds, clouded here and there by smoke; roads and paths wandering apparently anywhere; here and there a quarry, and piles of squared stone; heaps of refuse; wheat-fields among the houses; potato-plots in little levels, and everything giving you the impression of waiting to be finished. Add to all this, troops of men and women, boys and girls—the girls with a kerchief pinned over the head, the corner hanging behind—going home to dinner, and a mighty noise of clogs,[Pg 249] and trucks laden with rags and barrels of oil, and you will have an idea of Batley, as I saw it on my arrival.

Having found the factory of which I was in search, I had to wait a few minutes for the appearance of the principal. A boy, who was amusing himself in the office, remarked, when he heard that I had never yet seen shoddy made: “Well, it’ll cap ye when ye get among the machinery; that’s all!” He himself had been capt once in his life: it was in the previous summer, when his uncle took him to Blackpool, and he first beheld the sea. “That capt me, that did,” he said, with the gravity of a philosopher.

Seeing that the principal hesitated, even after he had read my letter, I began to imagine that shoddy-making involved important secrets. “Come to see what you can pick up, eh?” he said. However, when he heard that I was in no way connected with manufactures, and had come, not as a spy, but simply out of honest curiosity, to see how old rags were ground into new cloth, he smiled, and led me forthwith into the devil’s den. There I saw a cylinder revolving with a velocity too rapid for the eye to follow, whizzing and roaring, as if in agony, and throwing off a cloud of light woolly fibres, that floated in the air, and a stream of flocks that fell in a heap at the end of the room. It took three minutes to stop the monster; and when the motion ceased, I saw the cylinder was full of blunt steel teeth, which, seizing whatever was presented to them in the shape of rags, tore it thoroughly to pieces; in fact, ground it up into flocks of short, frizzly-looking fibre, resembling negro-hair, yet soft and free from knots. The cylinder is fed by a travelling web, which brings a layer of rags continually up to the teeth. On this occasion, the quality of the grist, as one might call it, was respectable—nothing but fathoms of list which had never been defiled. So rapidly did the greedy devil devour it, that the two attendant imps were kept fully employed in feeding; and fast as the pack of rags diminished, the heap of flocks increased. And so, amid noise and dust, the work goes on day after day; and the man who superintends, aided by his two boys, earns four pounds a week, grinding the rags as they come, for thirty shillings a pack.

The flocks are carried away to the mixing-house. As we turned aside, the devil began to whirl once more; and before we had entered the other door, I heard the ferocious howl in[Pg 250] full vigour. The road between the buildings was encumbered with oil-casks, pieces of cloth, lying in the dust, as if of no value, and packs of rags. “It will all come right by-and-by,” said the chief, as I pointed to the littery heaps; and, pausing by one of the packs which contained what he called ‘mungo,’ that is, shreds of such cloth as clergymen’s coats are made of, he made me aware that there is shoddy and shoddy. That which makes the longest fibre is, of course, the best; and some of the choice sorts are worked up into marketable cloth, without a fresh dyeing.

Great masses of the flocks, with passage-ways between, lay heaped on the stone floor of the mixing-house. Here, according to the quality required, the long fibre is mixed in certain proportions with the short; and to facilitate the subsequent operations, the several heaps are lightly sprinkled with oil. A dingy brown or black was the prevalent colour; but some of the heaps were gray, and would be converted into undyed cloth of the same colour. It seemed to me that the principal ingredient therein was old worsted stockings; and yet, before many days, those heaps would become gray cloth fit for the jackets and mantles of winsome maidens.

I asked my conductor if it were true, as I had heard, that shoddy-makers purchased the waste, begrimed cotton wads with which stokers and ‘engine-tenters’ wipe the machinery, or the dirty refuse of wool-sorters, or every kind of ragged rubbish. He did not think such things were done in Batley; for his part, he used none but best rags, and could keep two factories always going. He had heard of the man who spread greasy cotton-waste over his field, and who, when the land had absorbed all the grease, gathered up the cotton, and sold it to the shoddy-makers; but he doubted the truth of the story. True or not, it implies great toleration among a certain class of manufacturers. Rags, not good enough for shoddy, are used as manure for the hops in Kent; so we get shoddy in our beer as well as in our broadcloth.

In the next process, the flocks are intimately mixed by passing over and under a series of rollers, and come forth from the last looking something like wool. Then the wool, as we may now call it, goes to the ‘scribbling-machine,’ which, after torturing it among a dozen rollers of various dimensions, delivers it yard by yard in the form of a loose thick cable, with a run of the fibres in one direction. The[Pg 251] carding-machine takes the cable lengths, subjects them to another course of torture, confirms the direction of the fibres, and reduces the cable into a chenille of about the thickness of a lady’s finger. This chenille is produced in lengths of about five feet, across the machine, parallel with the rollers, and is immediately transferred to the piecing-machine, by a highly ingenious process. Each length, as it is finished, drops into a long, narrow, tin tray; the tray moves forward; the next behind it receives a chenille; then the third; then the fourth; and so on, up to ten. By this time, they have advanced over a table on which lies what may be described as a wooden gridiron; there is a momentary pause, and then the ten trays, turning all at once upside down, drop the chenilles severally between the bars of the gridiron. At one side of the table is a row of large spindles, or rollers, on which the chenilles—cardings, is the factory word—are wound, and the dropping is so contrived that the ends of those which fall overlap the ends of the lengths on the spindles by about an inch. Now the gridiron begins to vibrate, and by its movement beats the ends together; joins each chenille, in fact, to the one before it; then the spindles whirl, and draw in the lengths, leaving only enough for the overlap; and no sooner is this accomplished than the ten trays drop another supply, which is treated in the same expeditious manner, until the spindles are filled. No time is lost, for the full ones are immediately replaced by empty ones.

Now comes the spinners’ turn. They take these full spindles, submit them to the action of their machinery by dozens at a time, and spin the large, loose chenilles into yarns of different degrees of strength and fineness, or, perhaps one should say, coarseness, ready for the weavers. And in this way those heaps of short, uncompliant negro-hair, in which you could hardly find a fibre three inches long, are transformed into long, continuous threads, able to bear the rapid jerks of the loom. I could not sufficiently admire its ingenuity. Who would have imagined that among the appliances of shoddy! Moreover, wages are good at Batley, and the spinners can earn from forty to forty-five shillings a week. The women who attend the looms earn nine or eighteen shillings a week, according as they weave one or two pieces.

Next comes the fulling process: the pieces are damped, and thumped for a whole day by a dozen ponderous mallets;[Pg 252] then the raising of the pile on one or both sides of the cloth, either by rollers or by hand. In the latter case, two men stretch a piece as high as they can reach on a vertical frame, and scratch the surface downwards with small hand-cards, the teeth of which are fine steel wire. Genuine broadcloth can only be dressed by a teazel of Nature’s own growing; but shoddy, far less delicate, submits to the metal. So the men keep on, length after length, till the piece is finished. Then the dyers have their turn, and if you venture to walk through their sloppy, steamy department, you will see men stirring the pieces about in vats, and some pieces hanging to rollers which keep them for a while running through the liquor. From the dye-house the pieces are carried to the tenter-ground and stretched in one length on vertical posts; and after a sufficient course of sun and air, they undergo the finishing process—clipping the surface and hot-pressing.

From what I saw in the tenter-ground, I discovered that pilot cloth is shoddy; that glossy beavers and silky-looking mohairs are shoddy; that the Petershams so largely exported to the United States are shoddy; that the soft, delicate cloths in which ladies feel so comfortable, and look so graceful, are shoddy; that the ‘fabric’ of Talmas, Raglans, and paletots, and of other garments in which fine gentlemen go to the Derby, or to the Royal Academy Exhibition, or to the evening services in Westminster Abbey, are shoddy. And if Germany sends us abundance of rags, we send to Germany enormous quantities of shoddy in return. The best quality manufactured at Batley is worth ten shillings a yard; the commonest not more than one shilling.

Broadcloth at a shilling a yard almost staggers credibility. After that we may truly say that shoddy is a great leveller.

The workpeople are, with few exceptions, thrifty and persevering. Some of the spinners take advantage of their good wages to build cottages and become landlords. A walk through Batley shows you that thought has been taken for their spiritual and moral culture; and in fine weather they betake themselves for out-doors recreation to an ancient manor-house, which I was told is situate beyond the hill that rears its pleasant woods aloft in sight of the factories.

The folk of the surrounding districts are accustomed to make merry over the shoddy-makers, regarding them as Gibeonites, and many a story do they tell concerning these[Pg 253] clever conjurors, and their transformations of old clothes into new. Once, they say, a portly Quaker walked into Batley, just as the ‘mill-hands’ were going to dinner: he came from the west, and was clad in that excellent broadcloth which is the pride of Gloucestershire. “Hey!” cried the hands, as he passed among them—“hey! look at that now! There’s a bit of real cloth. Lookey, lookey! we never saw the like afore:” and they surrounded the worthy stranger, and kept him prisoner until they had all felt the texture of his coat, and expressed their admiration.


Again, while waiting at Mirfield, was I struck by the frequency of trains, and counted ten in an hour and a half. In 1856, a million and quarter tons of iron ore were dug in the Cleveland and Whitby districts; and the quantity of pig-iron made in Yorkshire was 275,600 tons, of which the West Riding produced 96,000. In the same year 8986 tons of lead, and 302 ounces of silver were made within the county; and Yorkshire furnished 9,000,000 towards the sixty millions tons and a half of coal dug in all the kingdom.

I journeyed on to Wakefield; and, as it proved, to a disappointment. I had hoped for a sight of Walton Hall, and of the well-known naturalist, who there fulfils the rites of hospitality with a generous hand. Through a friend of his, Mr. Waterton had assured me of a welcome; but on arriving at Wakefield, I heard that he had started the day before for the Continent. So, instead of a walk to the Hall, I resolved to go on to Sheffield, by the last train. This left me time for a ramble. I went down to the bridge, and revived my recollections of the little chapel which for four hundred years has shown its rich and beautiful front to all who there cross the Calder, and I rejoiced to see that it had been restored and was protected by a railing. It was built—some say renewed—by Edward the Fourth to the memory of those who fell in the battle of Wakefield—a battle fatal to the House of York—and fatal to the victors; for the cruelties there perpetrated by Black Clifford and other knights, were repaid with tenfold vengeance at Towton. The place where Richard, Duke of York, fell, may still be seen: and near it, a little more than a mile from the town, the eminence on which stood Sandal Castle, a fortress singularly picturesque, as shown in old engravings.[Pg 254]

After a succession of stony towns and smoky towns, there was something cheerful in the distant view of Wakefield with its clean red brick. It has some handsome streets; and in the old thoroughfares you may see relics of the mediæval times in ancient timbered houses. Leland describes it as “a very quick market town, and meatly large, the whole profit of which standeth by coarse drapery.” You will soon learn by a walk through the streets that “very quick” still applies.

Signs of manufactures are repeated as Wakefield, with its green neighbourhood, is left behind, and at Barnsley the air is again darkened by smoke. We had to change trains here, and thought ourselves lucky in finding that the Sheffield train had for once condescended to lay aside its surly impatience, and await the arrival from Wakefield. As we pushed through the throng on the platform, I heard many a specimen of the vernacular peculiar to Bairnsla, as the natives call it. How shall one who has not spent years among them essay to reproduce the sounds? Fortunately there is a Bairnsla Foaks’ Almanack in which the work is done ready to our hand; and here is a passage quoted from Tom Treddlehoyle’s Peep at T’ Manchister Exhebishan, giving us a notion of the sort of dialect talked by the Queen’s subjects in this part of Yorkshire.

Tom is looking about and “moralizin’,” when “a strange bussal cum on all ov a sudden daan below stairs, an foaks hurryin e wun dereckshan! ‘Wot’s ta do?’ thowt ah; an daan t’ steps ah clattard, runnin full bump agean t’ foaks a t’ bottom, an before thade time to grumal or get ther faces saard, ah axt, ‘Wot ther wor ta do?’—‘Lord John Russel’s cum in,’ sed thay. Hearin this, there diddant need anuther wurd, for after springin up on ta me teppytoes ta get t’ lattetude az ta whereabaats he wor, ah duckt me head underneath foaks’s airms, an away a slipt throo t’ craad az if ide been soapt all ovver, an gettin as near him az ah durst ta be manardly, ah axt a gentleman at hed a glass button stuck before his ee, in a whisperin soart of a tone, ‘Which wor Lord John Russel?’ an bein pointed aght ta ma, ah lookt an lookt agean, but cuddant believe at it wor him, he wor sich an a little bit ov an hofalas-lookin chap,—not much unlike a horse-jocky at wun’s seen at t’ Donkister races, an wot wor just getherin hiz crums up after a good sweatin daan for t’ Ledger,—an away ah went, az sharp az ah cud squeaze aght,[Pg 255] thinkin to mesen, ‘Bless us, what an a ta-do there iz abaght nowt! a man’s but a man, an a lord’s na more!’ We that thowt, an hevin gottan nicely aght a t’ throng, we t’ loss a nobbat wun button, an a few stitches stretcht a bit e t’ coit-back, ah thowt hauf-an-haar’s quiat woddant be amiss.”

We went on a few miles to a little station called Wombwell, where we had again to change trains. But the train from Doncaster had not arrived; so while the passengers waited they dispersed themselves about the sides of the railway, finding seats on the banks or fences, and sat talking in groups, and wondering at the delay. The stars shone out, twinkling brightly, before the train came up, more than an hour beyond its time, and it was late when we reached Sheffield. I turned at a venture into the first decent-looking public-house in The Wicker, and was rewarded by finding good entertainment and thorough cleanliness.

[Pg 256]


CHAPTER XXVIII.

Clouds of Blacks—What Sheffield was and is—A detestable Town—Razors and knives—Perfect Work, Imperfect Workmen—Foul Talk—How Files are Made—Good Iron, Good Steel—Breaking-up and Melting—Making the Crucibles—Casting—Ingots—File Forgers—Machinery Baffled—Cutting the Teeth—Hardening—Cleaning and Testing—Elliott’s Statue—A Ramble to the Corn-law Rhymer’s Haunt—Rivelin—Bilberry-gatherers—Ribbledin—The Poet’s Words—A Desecration—To Manchester—A few Words on the Exhibition.

When I woke in the morning and saw what a stratum of ‘blacks’ had come in at the window during the night, I admired still more the persevering virtue which maintains cleanliness under such very adverse circumstances. We commonly think the London atmosphere bad; but it is purity compared with Sheffield. The town, too, is full of strange, uncouth noises, by night as well as by day, that send their echo far. I had been woke more than once by ponderous thumps and sounding shocks, which made me fancy the Cyclops themselves were taking a turn at the hammers. Sheffield raised a regiment to march against the Sepoys; why not raise a company to put down its own pestiferous blacks?

Who would think that here grew the many-leagued oak forests in which Gurth and Wamba roamed; that in a later day, when the Talbots were lords of the domain, there were trees in the park under which a hundred horses might find shelter? Here lived that famous Talbot, the terror of the French; here George, the fourth Earl, built a mansion in which Wolsey lodged while on his way to die at Leicester; here the Queen of Scots was kept for a season in durance; here, as appears by a Court Roll, dated 1590, the Right Honorable George Earl of Shrewsbury assented to the trade regulations of “the Fellowship and Company of Cutlers and Makers of Knives,” whose handicraft was even then an an[Pg 257]cient one, for Chaucer mentions the “Shefeld thwitel.” Now, what with furnaces and forges, rolling mills, and the many contrivances used by the men of iron and steel, the landscape is spoiled of its loveliness, and Silence is driven to remoter haunts.

On the other hand, Sheffield is renowned for its knives and files all over the world. It boasts a People’s College and a Philosophical Society. With it are associated the names of Chantrey, Montgomery, and Ebenezer Elliott. When you see the place, you will not wonder that Elliott’s poetry is what it is; for how could a man be expected to write amiable things in such a detestable town?

Ever since my conversation with the Mechaniker, while on the way to Prague, when he spoke so earnestly in praise of English files, my desire to see how files were made became impatiently strong. Sheffield is famous also for razors; so there was a sight of two interesting manufactures to be hoped for when I set out after breakfast to test my credentials. Fortune favoured me; and, in the works of Messrs. Rodgers, I saw the men take flat bars of steel and shape them by the aid of fire and hammer into razor-blades with remarkable expedition and accuracy. So expert have they become by long practice, that with the hammer only they form the blade and tang so nicely, as to leave but little for the grinders to waste. I saw also the forging of knife-blades, the making of the handles, the sawing of the buckhorn and ivory by circular saws, and the heap of ivory-dust which is sold to knowing cooks, and by them converted into gelatine. I saw how the knives are fitted together with temporary rivets to ensure perfect action and finish, before the final touches are given. And as we went from room to room, and I thought that each man had been working for years at the same thing, repeating the same movements over and over again, I could not help pitying them; for it seemed to me that they were a sacrifice to the high reputation of English cutlery. Something more than a People’s College and Mechanics’ Institute would be needed to counteract the deadening effect of unvarying mechanical occupation; and where there is no relish for out-door recreation in the woods and on the hills, hurtful excitements are the natural consequence.

I had often heard that Sheffield is the most foul-mouthed town in the kingdom, and my experience unfortunately adds[Pg 258] confirmation. While in the train coming from Barnsley, and in my walks about the town, I heard more filthy and obscene talk than could be heard in Wapping in a year. Not to trust to the impressions of the day, I inquired of a resident banker, and he testified that the foul talk that assailed his ears, was to him, a continual affliction.

On the wall of the grinding-shop a tablet, set up at the cost of the men, preserves the name of a grinder, who by excellence of workmanship and long and faithful service, achieved merit for himself and the trade. At their work the men sit astride on a low seat in rows of four, one behind the other, leaning over their stones and wheels. For razors, the grindstones are small, so as to produce the hollow surface which favours fineness of edge. From the first a vivid stream of sparks flies off; but the second is a leaden wheel; the third is leather touched with crocus, to give the polish to the steel; and after that comes the whet. To carry off the dust, each man has a fan-box in front of his wheel, through which all the noxious floating particles are drawn by the rapid current of air therein produced. To this fan the grinders of the present generation owe more years of health and life than fell to the lot of their fathers, who inhaled the dust, earned high wages, and died soon of disease of the lungs. I was surprised by the men’s dexterity; by a series of quick movements, they finished every part of the blade on the stone and wheels.

From the razors I went to the files, at Moss and Gamble’s manufactory, in another part of the town. There is scarcely a street from which you cannot see the hills crowned by wood which environ the town—that is, at intervals only, through the thinnest streams of smoke. The town itself is hilly, and the more you see of the neighbourhood, the more will you agree with those who say, “What a beautiful place Sheffield would be, if Sheffield were not there!”

My first impression of the file-works, combined stacks of Swedish iron in bars; ranges of steel bars of various shape, square, flat, three-cornered, round, and half-round; heaps of broken steel, the fresh edges glittering in the sun; heaps of broken crucibles, and the roar of furnaces, noise of bellows, hammer-strokes innumerable, and dust and smoke, and other things, that to a stranger had very much the appearance of rubbish and confusion.[Pg 259]

However, there is no confusion; every man is diligent at his task; so if you please, reader, we will try and get a notion of the way in which those bars of Swedish iron are converted into excellent files. Swedish iron is chosen because it is the best; no iron hitherto discovered equals it for purity and strength, and of this the most esteemed is known as ‘Hoop L,’ from its brand being an L within a hoop. “If you want good steel to come out of the furnace,” say the knowing ones, “you must put good iron in;” and some of them hold that, “when the devil is put into the crucible, nothing but the devil will come out:” hence we may believe their moral code to be sufficient for its purpose. The bars, at a guess, are about eight feet long, three inches broad, and one inch thick. To begin the process, they are piled in a furnace between alternate layers of charcoal, the surfaces kept carefully from contact, and are there subjected to fire for eight or nine days. To enable the workmen to watch the process, small trial pieces are so placed that they can be drawn out for examination through a small hole in the front of the furnace. In large furnaces, twelve tons of iron are converted at once. The long-continued heat, which is kept below the melting-point, drives off the impurities; the bars, from contact with the charcoal, become carbonized and hardened; and when the fiery ordeal is over, they appear thickly bossed with bubbles or blisters, in which condition they are described as ‘blistered steel.’

Now come the operations which convert these blistered bars into the finished bars of steel above-mentioned, smooth and uniform of surface, and well-nigh hard as diamond. The blistered bars are taken from the furnace and broken up into small pieces; the fresh edges show innumerable crystals of different dimensions, according to the quality of the iron, and have much the appearance of frosted silver. The pieces are carefully assorted and weighed. The weighers judge of the quality at a glance, and mix the sorts in due proportion in the scales in readiness for the melters, who put each parcel into its proper crucible, and drop the crucibles through holes in a floor into a glowing furnace, where they are left for about half a day.

The making of the crucibles is a much more important part of the operation than would be imagined. They must be of uniform dimensions and quality, or the steel is deteriorated, and they fail in the fire. They are made on the premises, for[Pg 260] every melting requires new crucibles. In an underground chamber I saw men at work, treading a large flat heap of fire-clay into proper consistency, weighing it into lumps of a given weight; placing these lumps one after the other in a circular mould, and driving in upon them, with a ponderous mallet, a circular block of the same form and height as the mould, but smaller. As the block sinks under the heavy blows, the clay is forced against the sides of the mould; and when the block can descend no further, there appears all round it a dense ring of clay, and the mould is full. Now, with a dexterous turn, the block is drawn out; the crucible is separated from the mould, and shows itself as a smooth vase, nearly two feet in height. The mouth is carefully finished, and a lid of the same clay fitted, and the crucible is ready for its further treatment. When placed in the furnace, the lids are sealed on with soft clay. The man who treads the clay needs a good stock of patience, for lumps, however small, are fatal to the crucibles.

When the moment arrived, I was summoned to witness the casting. The men had tied round their shins pieces of old sacking, as protection from the heat; they opened the holes in the floor, knocked off the lid of the crucible, and two of them, each with tongs, lifted the crucible from the intensely heated furnace. How it quivered, and glowed, and threw off sparks, and diffused around a scorching temperature! It amazed me that the men could bear it. When two crucibles are lifted out, they are emptied at the same time into the mould; not hap-hazard, but with care that the streams shall unite, and not touch the sides of the mould as they fall. Neglect of this precaution injures the quality. Another precaution is to shut out cold draughts of air during the casting. To judge by the ear, you would fancy the men were pouring out gallons of cream.

The contents of two crucibles form an ingot, short, thick, and heavy. I saw a number of such ingots in the yard. The next process is to heat them, and to pass them while hot between the rollers which convert them into bars of any required form. I was content to forego a visit to the rolling-mill—somewhere in the suburbs—being already familiar with the operation of rolling iron.

We have now the steel in a form ready for the file-makers. Two forgers, one of whom wields a heavy two-handed ham[Pg 261]mer, cut the bars into lengths, and after a few minutes of fire and anvil, the future file is formed, one end at a time, from tang to point, and stamped. For the half-round files, a suitable depression is made at one side of the anvil. Then comes a softening process to prepare the files for the men who grind or file them to a true form, and for toothing. To cut the teeth, the man or boy lays the file on a proper bed, takes a short, hard chisel between the thumb and finger of his left hand, holds it leaning from him at the required angle, and strikes a blow with the hammer. The blow produces a nick with a slight ridge by its side; against this ridge the chisel is placed for the next stroke, and so on to the next, until, by multiplied blows, the file is fully toothed. The process takes long to describe, but is, in reality, expeditious, as testified by the rapid clatter. Some of the largest files require two men—one to hold the chisel, the other to strike. For the teeth of rasps, a pyramidal punch is used. The different kinds of files are described as roughs, bastard cut, second cut, smooth, and dead smooth; besides an extraordinary heavy sort, known as rubbers. According to the cut, so is the weight of the hammer employed. Many attempts have been made to cut files by machinery; but they have all failed. There is something in the varying touch of human fingers imparting a keenness to the bite of the file, which the machine with its precise movements cannot produce—even as thistle spines excel all metallic contrivances for the dressing of cloth. And very fortunate it is that machinery can’t do everything.

After the toothing, follows the hardening. The hardener lays a few files in a fire of cinders; blows the bellows till a cherry-red heat is produced; then he thrusts the file into a stratum of charcoal, and from that plunges it into a large bath of cold water, the cleaner and colder the better. The plunge is not made anyhow, but in a given direction, and with a varying movement from side to side, according to the shape of the file. The metal, as it enters the water, and for some seconds afterwards, frets and moans piteously; and I expected to see it fly to pieces with the sudden shock. But good steel is true; the man draws the file out, squints along its edge, and if he sees it too much warped, gives it a strain upon a fulcrum, sprinkling it at the same time with cold water. He then lays it aside, takes another from the fire, and treats it in a similar way.[Pg 262]

The hardened files are next scrubbed with sand, are dried, the tangs are dipped into molten lead to deprive them of their brittleness; the files are rubbed over with oil, and scratched with a harder piece of metal to test their quality—that is, an attempt is made to scratch them. If the files be good, it ought to fail. They are then taken between the thumb and finger, and rung to test their soundness; and if no treacherous crack betray its presence, they are tied up in parcels for sale.

I shall not soon forget the obliging kindness with which explanations were given and all my questions answered by a member of the firm, who conducted me over the works. When we came to the end, and I had witnessed the care bestowed on the several operations, I no longer wondered that a Bohemian Mechaniker in the heart of the Continent, or artisans in any part of the world, should find reason to glory in English files. Some people are charitable enough to believe that English files are no unapt examples of English character.


Sheffield is somewhat proud of Chantrey and Montgomery, and honours Elliott by a statue, which, tall of stature and unfaithful in likeness, sits on a pedestal in front of the post-office. I thought that to ramble out to one of the Corn-Law Rhymer’s haunts would be an agreeable way of spending the afternoon and of viewing the scenery in the neighbourhood of the town. I paced up the long ascent of Broome Hill—a not unpleasing suburb—to the Glossop road, and when the town was fairly left behind, was well repaid by the sight of wooded hills and romantic valleys. Amidst scenery such as that you may wander on to Wentworth, to Wharncliff, the lair of the Dragon of Wantley, to Stanedge and Shirecliff, and all the sites of which Elliott has sung in pictured phrase or words of fire. We look into the valley of the Rivelin, one of the

“Five rivers, like the fingers of a hand,”

that converge upon Sheffield; and were we to explore the tributary brooks, we should discover grinding wheels kept going by the current in romantic nooks and hollows. What a glorious sylvan country this must have been

“——in times of old,
When Locksley o’er the hills of Hallam chas’d
The wide-horn’d stag, or with his bowmen bold
Wag’d war on kinglings.”
[Pg 263]

Troops of women and girls were busy on the slopes gathering bilberries, others were washing the stains from their hands and faces at a roadside spring, others—who told me they had been out six miles—were returning with full baskets to the town. How they chattered! About an hour’s walking brings you to a descent; on one side the ground falls away precipitously from the road, on the other rises a rocky cliff, and at the foot you come to a bridge bestriding a lively brook that comes out of a wooded glen and runs swiftly down to the Rivelin. This is the “lone streamlet” so much loved by the poet, to which he addresses one of his poems:

“Here, if a bard may christen thee,
I’ll call thee Ribbledin.”

I turned from the road, and explored the little glen to its upper extremity; scrambling now up one bank, now up the other, wading through rank grass and ferns, striding from one big stone to another, as compelled by the frequent windings, rejoiced to find that, except in one particular, it still answered to the poet’s description:

“Wildest and lonest streamlet!
Gray oaks, all lichen’d o’er!
Rush-bristled isles, ye ivied trunks
That marry shore to shore!
And thou, gnarl’d dwarf of centuries,
Whose snak’d roots twist above me!
Oh, for the tongue or pen of Burns,
To tell ye how I love ye!”

The overhanging trees multiply, and the green shade deepens, as you ascend. At last I came to the waterfall—the loneliest nook of all, in which the Rhymer had mused and listened to the brook, as he says:

“Here, where first murmuring from thine urn,
Thy voice deep joy expresses;
And down the rock, like music, flows
The wildness of thy tresses.”

It was just the place for a day-dream. I sat for nearly an hour, nothing disturbing my enjoyment but now and then the intrusive thought that my holiday was soon to end. However, there is good promise of summers yet to come. I climbed the hill in the rear of the fall, where, knee-deep in heath and fern, I looked down on the top of the oaken[Pg 264] canopy and a broad reach of the valley; and intended to return to the town by another road. But the attractions of the glen drew me back; so I scrambled down it by the way I came, and retraced my outward route.

The one particular in which the glen differs from Elliott’s description is, that an opening has been made for, as it appeared to me, a quarry or gravel-pit, from which a loose slope of refuse extends down to the brook, and encroaches on its bed, creating a deformity that shocks the feelings by what seems a desecration. I thought that Ribbledin, at least, might have been saved from spade and mattock; and the more so as Sheffield, poisoned by smoke, can ill afford to lose any place of recreative resort in the neighbourhood. It may be that I felt vexed; for after my return to London, I addressed a letter on the subject to the editor of the Sheffield Independent, in the hope that by calling public attention thereto, the hand of the spoiler might be stayed.

As I walked down to the railway-station the next morning in time for the first train, many of the chimneys had just began to vent their murky clouds, and the smoke falling into the streets darkened the early sunlight; and Labour, preparing to “bend o’er thousand anvils,” went with unsmiling face to his daily task.

Away sped the train for Manchester; and just as the Art Treasures Exhibition was opening for the day, I alighted at the door.

Less than half an hour spent in the building sufficed to show that it was a work of the north, not of the south. There was a manifest want of attention to the fitness of things, naturally to be looked for in a county where the bulk of the population have yet so much to learn; where manufacturers, with a yearly income numbered by thousands, can find no better evening resort than the public-house; where so much of the thinking is done by machinery, and where steam-engines are built with an excellence of workmanship and splendour of finish well-nigh incredible.

For seven hours did I saunter up and down and linger here and there, as my heart inclined—longest before the old engravings. And while my eye roved from one beautiful object to another, I wondered more and more that the Times and some other newspapers had often expressed surprise that so few comparatively of the working-classes visited the Man[Pg 265]chester Exhibition. Those best acquainted with the working-classes, as a mass, know full well how little such an exhibition as that appeals to their taste and feelings. To appreciate even slightly such paintings and curiosities of art as were there displayed, requires an amount of previous cultivation rare in any class, and especially so in the working-classes. For the cream of Manchester society, the Exhibition was a fashionable exchange, where they came to parade from three to five in the afternoon—the ladies exhibiting a circumference of crinoline far more ample than I have ever seen elsewhere; and of them and their compeers it would be safe to argue that those attracted by real love of art were but tens among the thousands who went for pastime and fashion.

To me it seems, that of late, we have had rather too much talk about art; by far too much flattery of the artist and artificer, whereby the one with genius and the one with handicraft feel themselves alike ill-used if they are not always before the eyes of the world held up to admiration. And so, instead of a heart working inspired by love, we have a hand working inspired by hopes of praise. The masons who carved those quaint carvings at Patrington worked out the thought that was in them lovingly, because they had the thought, and not the mere ambitious shadow of a thought. And their work remains admirable for all time, for their hearts were engaged therein as well as heads and hands. But now education and division of labour are to do everything; that is, if flattery fail not; and in wood-engraving we have come to the pass that one man cuts the clouds, another the trees, another the buildings, and another the animal figures; while on steel plates the clouds are “executed” by machinery. For my part, I would be willing to barter a good deal of modern art for the conscience and common honesty which it has helped to obscure.

We are too apt to forget certain conclusions which ought to be remembered; and these are, according to Mr. Penrose, that “No government, however imperial, can create true taste, or combine excellence with precipitation; that money is lavished in vain where good sense guides neither the design nor the execution; and that art with freedom, of which she is one manifestation, will not condescend to visit the land where she is not invited by the spontaneous instincts, and sustained by the unfettered efforts of the people.”

[Pg 266]


CHAPTER XXIX.
A SHORT CHAPTER TO END WITH.

Here, reader, we part company. The last day of July has come, and whatever may be my inclinations or yours, I must return to London, and report myself to-morrow morning at head-quarters. There will be time while on the way for a few parting words.

If the reading of my book stir you up to go and see Yorkshire with your own eyes and on your own legs, you will, I hope, be able to choose a centre of exploration. For the coast, Flamborough and Whitby would be convenient; for Teesdale, Barnard Castle; for Craven, with its mountains, caves, and scars, Settle; and for the dales, Kettlewell and Aysgarth. Ripon is a good starting-point for Wensleydale; and York, situate where the three Ridings meet, offers railway routes in all directions. My own route, as you have seen, was somewhat erratic, more so than you will perhaps approve; but it pleased me, and if a man cannot please himself while enjoying a holiday, when shall he?

A glance at the map will show you how large a portion of the county is here unnoticed; a portion large enough for another volume. The omissions are more obvious to you than to me, because I can fill them up mentally by recollections of what I saw during my first sojourn in Yorkshire. A month might be well spent in rambles and explorations in the north-west alone, along the border of Westmoreland; Knaresborough and the valley of the Nidd will generously repay a travel; Hallamshire, though soiled by Sheffield smoke, is full of delightful scenery; and if it will gratify you to see one of the prettiest country towns in England, go to Doncaster. And should you desire further information, as doubtless you will,[Pg 267] read Professor Phillips’s Rivers, Mountains, and Sea Coast of Yorkshire—a book that takes you all through the length and breadth of the county. It tells you where to look for rare plants, where for fossils; reveals the geological history; glances lovingly at all the antiquities; and imparts all the information you are likely to want concerning the inhabitants, from the earliest times, the climate, and even the terrestrial magnetism. I am under great obligations to it, not only for its science and scholarship, but for the means it afforded me, combined with previous knowledge, of choosing a route.

As regards distances, my longest walk, as mentioned at the outset, was twenty-six miles; the next longest, from Brough to Hawes, twenty-two; and all the rest from fourteen to eighteen miles. Hence, in all the rambles, there is no risk of over-fatigue. I would insert a table of distances, were it not best that you should inquire for yourself when on the spot, and have a motive for talking to the folk on the way. As for the railways, buy your time-table in Yorkshire; it will enlighten you on some of the local peculiarities, and prove far more useful than the lumbering, much-perplexed Bradshaw.

Of course the Ordnance maps are the best and most complete; but considering that the sheets on the large scale, for Yorkshire alone, would far outweigh your knapsack, they are out of the question for a pedestrian. Failing these, you will find Walker’s maps—one for each Riding—sufficiently trustworthy, with the distances from town to town laid down along the lines of road, and convenient for the pocket withal.

Much has been said and written concerning the high cost of travelling in England as compared with the Continent, but is it really so? Experience has taught me that the reverse is the fact, and for an obvious reason—the much shorter distance to be travelled to the scene of your wanderings. In going to Switzerland, for example, there are seven hundred and fifty miles to Basel, before you begin to walk, and the outlay required for such a journey as that is not compensated by any trifling subsequent advantage, if such there be. Some folk travel as if they were always familiar with turtle and champagne at home, and therefore should not complain if they are made to pay for the distinction. But if you are content to go simply on your own merits, wishing nothing better than to enjoy a holiday, it is perfectly possible,[Pg 268] while on foot, to travel for four-and-sixpence a day, sometimes even less. And think not that because you choose the public-house instead of the hotel you will suffer in regard to diet, or find any lack of comfort and cleanliness. The advantage in all these respects, as I know full well, is not unfrequently with the house of least pretension. Moreover, you are not looked on as a mere biped, come in to eat, drink, and sleep, by a waiter who claims his fee as a right; but a show of kindly feeling awaits you, and the lassie who ministers to your wants accepts your gift of a coin with demonstrations of thankfulness. And, again, the public-house shows you far more variety of unsophisticated life and character than you could ever hope to witness in an hotel. Certain friends of mine, newly-wedded, passed a portion of their honeymoon at the Jolly Herring at Penmaenmawr, with much more contentment to themselves than at the large hotels they afterwards visited in the Principality, and at one-half the cost.

The sum total of my walking amounts to three hundred and seventy-five miles. If you go down to Yorkshire, trusting, as I hope, to your own legs for most of your pleasure, you will perhaps outstrip me. At any rate, you will discover that travelling in England is not less enjoyable than on the Continent; maybe you will think it more so, especially if, instead of merely visiting one place after another, you really do travel. You require no ticket-of-leave in the shape of a passport from cowardly emperor or priest-ridden king, and may journey at will from county to county and parish to parish, finding something fresh and characteristic in each, and all the while with the consciousness that it is your own country:

“Our Birth-land this! around her shores roll ocean’s sounding waves;
Within her breast our fathers sleep in old heroic graves;
Our Heritage! with all her fame, her honour, heart, and pow’rs,
God’s gift to us—we love her well—she shall be ever ours.”

[Pg 269]


INDEX.

Addleborough, 169, 173

Aire, river, 226

—— source of, 233

Aldborough, 47

Alum, manufacture of, 98;

hewing, 99;

roasting, 100;

soaking, 101;

crystallizing, 102

Alum Shale Cliffs, 99

Arncliffe, 95

Askrigg, 170

Atwick, 52

Auburn, 52

Austin’s Stone, 34

Aysgarth, 202

—— Force, 170, 204

Bain, river, 165, 174

Bainbridge, 165, 170

Balder, river, 137, 144

Barden Fell, 193

—— Tower, 196

Barmston, 40, 52

Barnard Castle, 137

Barnsley, 254

Batley, 248

Bay Town, 81

Beverley, 28, 34, 39

Birkdale, 151

Bishopdale, 201

Bishopthorpe, 223

Black-a-moor, 84

Bolton Abbey, 192

—— Castle, 170, 202, 207

Boroughbridge, 143

Boulby, 115

Bowes, 141

Bradford, 243

Bridlington, 53

Brignall Banks, 142

Brough, 155

Brunanburgh, 35

Buckden, 201

—— Pike, 200

Burnsall, 198

Burstall Garth, 19

Burstwick, 15

Buttertubs Pass, 163

Byland Abbey, 221

Calder, river, 247, 253

Caldron Snout, 149

Cam Fell, 175

Carnelian Bay, 69

Carperby, 206

Carrs, the, 40

Cayton Bay, 69

Chapel-le-dale, 178, 181

Clapdale, 184

Clapham, 183

Cleathorpes, 7, 25

Cleckheaton, 217

Cleveland, 89, 97, 119, 127, 212

Cloughton, 76

Coatham, 122, 124

Cotherstone, 144

Cottingham, 27

Counterside, 175

Coverdale, 170

Coverham Abbey, 171

Coxwold, 222

Craven, 183, 191, 227

Cray, 201

Cronkley Scar, 148

Cross Fell, 154

Dane’s Dike, 57, 64

Darlington, 135

Deira, 35

Derwent, river, 221

Dewsbury, 248[Pg 270]

Dimlington, 23

Dinsdale Spa, 135

Drewton, 34

Driffield, 35

Dunsley, 104

Easby heights, 131

—— Abbey, 210

East Row, 97

—— Witton, 171

Eden, river, 154, 159

Egliston Abbey, 140

Egton, 94

—— Bridge, 95

Esk, Vale of, 84, 86, 96

Eston Nab, 125, 132

Filey, 65, 68

—— Brig, 65, 67

Flamborough, 59, 64

—— Head, 48, 54, 60

—— Lighthouse, 61

—— North Landing, 64

—— South Landing, 58

Fountains Abbey, 214

Freeburgh Hill, 118

Frothingham, 40

Gatekirk Cave, 182

Gearstones, 177

George Fox’s Well, 228

Giggleswick, 227

Gilling, 222

Godmanham, 35

Goldsborough, 106

Gordale Scar, 231

Gormire Lake, 217

Great Ayton, 131

Greta Bridge, 141

Grimsby, 7

Grinton, 160, 162

Gristhorp Bay, 69

Grosmont, 94

Guisborough, 125

—— Moors, 129

—— Priory, 126

Haiburn Wyke, 78

Hambleton Hills, 154, 170, 208, 218

Handale, 118

Hardraw Scar, 163

Harpham, 35

Hart-Leap Well, 208

Hawes, 163, 164, 175

Haworth, 235

Hawsker, 84

Heckmondwike, 247

Hedon, 14

Helbeck, the, 155

Helmsley, 220

High Cope Nick, 152

High Force, 146

High Seat, 157

Hinderwell, 109

Holderness, 11, 14, 23, 34, 40

Holwick Fell, 148

Hornby, 172

Hornsea, 46

—— Mere, 45

Howardian Hills, 222

Hull, 9

—— river, 10, 12, 41

Humber, the, 5, 8, 18

Huntcliff Nab, 119

Hurtle Pot, 180

Hutton Lowcross, 128

—— Rudby, 128

Ingleborough, 154, 175, 183, 228

—— Cave, 184

—— Giant’s Hall, 188

Ingleton, 183

—— Fell, 177

Ironstone, 94, 103, 134, 253

Jervaux Abbey, 171

Jet, 91

manufacture of, 92

—— diggers, 107

Jingle Pot, 180

Keighley, 235

Kettleness, 104, 106

Kettlewell, 200, 233

Keyingham, 15

Kildale, 132

Kilnsea, 19

Kilnsey, 199

Kilton, 120

Kirkby Moorside, 221

Kirkdale, 221

Kirkleatham, 124

Kirklees, 247

Kirkstall Abbey, 226

Langstrothdale, 201

Lartington, 143

Leeds, 226, 243

Leyburn, 170

Lofthouse, 116

Lowmoor, 247

Lowths, the, 33

Lythe, 105[Pg 271]

Maiden Way, the, 156

Maize Beck, 151

Malham, 228

—— Cove, 233

—— Tarn, 231

Mallerstang, 159

Malton, 104, 221

Marske, 120

Marston Moor, 223

Marton, 134

Marwood Chase, 137

Meaux, 39

Mickle Fell, 149, 151, 153

Middleham, 170, 207

Middlesborough, 133

Middleton-in-Teesdale, 144

Millgill Force, 166

Mirfield, 247, 253

Mortham, 141

Muker, 162

Mulgrave, 97, 104

—— Cement, 99

Nappa, 171

Newby Head, 176

Newlay, 227

Newton, 134

Nine Standards, 157

Northallerton, 211

Nunthorp, 134

Oswaldkirk, 222

Ouse, river, 224

Ovington, 142

Owthorne, 24, 47

Patrington, 16

Paul, 7

Peak, the, 81

Pendle Hill, 228

Pendragon Castle, 144

Penhill, 170, 202

Penyghent, 154, 201, 228

Pickering, vale of, 84, 221

Pilmoor, 222

Plowland, 18

Raby, 138

Raven Hall, 80

Ravenhill, 104

Ravenser Odd, 22

Ravensworth, 142

Raydale, 173

Redcar, 121

Red Cliff, 69

Redmire, 207

Redshaw, 175

Reeth, 162

Rey Cross, the, 156

Ribble, river, 178, 183, 228

Ribbledin, the, 263

Richmond, 142, 208

Rievaulx Abbey, 219

Ripon, 211

Rivelin, the, 262

Robin Hood, 74, 84

—— Hood’s Bay, 73, 78

Rokeby, 140

Rolleston Hall, 52

Romaldkirk, 144

Rosebury Topping, 119, 129

Routh, 41

Runswick, 106, 108

Rye, river, 219, 222

Ryedale, 220

Sandsend, 97

—— Alum-works, 98

Saltaire, 237

Saltburn, 119

Scarborough, 61, 67

Spa, 71

Castle, 73

Scarthe Nick, 207

Seamer Moor, 75

Selwicks Bay, 61, 63

Settle, 227

Shaw, 163

Sheffield, 255

Shipley, 237, 242

Shirecliff, 262

Shunnor Fell, 158

Sigglesthorne, 45

Simmer Water, 174

Simonstone, 163

Skawton, 218

Skeffling, 18

Skelton, 127, 131

Skinningrave, 117

Skipsea, 52

Skipton, 191

Skirlington, 52

Speeton, 65

Spennithorne, 171

Spurn, the, 20, 23

—— Lighthouse, 5, 25

Stainmoor, 141, 155, 157

Staintondale Cliffs, 79

Staithes, 109

Stake Fell, 173, 201

Stalling Busk, 175

Stamford Brig, 223

Standard Hill, 38, 211[Pg 272]

Stanedge, 262

Starbottom, 201

Stockdale, 229

Stockton, 135

Stonesdale, 161

Street Houses, 117

Strid, the, 195

Studley, 213

Sunk Island, 6, 17

Sutton, 217

Swale, river, 159, 160

Swaledale, 157, 160, 162, 208

Symon Seat, 193, 198

Tan Hill, 159

Tees, river, 119, 121, 130, 136, 140, 145, 149

Thirsk, 216

Thoralby, 202

Thornton Force, 182

Thorsgill, 140

Threshfield, 199, 233

Thwaite, 161

Tickton, 41

Topcliffe, 30, 216

Towton, 223

Ulshaw, 171

Upgang, 97

Upleatham, 125, 131

Ure, river, 159, 164, 170, 204, 211

Wakefield, 253

Wassand, 45

Watton, 39

Weathercote Cave, 178

Welwick, 18

Wensleydale, 163, 167, 170, 201, 207

Wentworth, 262

Wharfe, river, 193, 196

Wharfedale, 192, 201

Wharncliff, 262

Whernside, Great and Little, 154, 200

Whitby, 73, 86

—— Abbey, 84

Whitfell, 166

Whitfell Force, 166

Widdale, 175

Wild Boar Fell, 158

Winch Bridge, 145

Winestead, 15

Winston, 142

Withernsea, 23

Witton Fell, 170

Wombwell, 255

Wycliffe, 142

Yarborough House, 57

Yarm, 135

Yearby bank, 125

Yordas Cave, 182

York, 222

York, Vale of, 222

THE END.

FLETCHER, PRINTER, NORWICH.


Transcribers' Notes

Page xv: Bronte's standardised to Brontë's in chapter XXVI description for consistency

Page 3: bonehouse standardised to bone-house after "lecture in the grim" for consistency

Page 10: half-penny standardised to halfpenny after "to the value of thirteenpence" for consistency

Page 10: wind-mills standardised to windmills after "presence of numerous" for consistency

Pages 14, 268: unfrequently as in the original

Page 16: weather-cock standardised to weathercock after "harmonious throughout, from" for consistency

Page 18: "Its outer sloop is loose sand" as in the original

Page 19: re-appears standardised to reappears after "pierces the bank, and" for consistency

Page 22: skilful as in the original

Page 24: grey standardised to gray after "still bearing the" for consistency

Page 25: . added after "that they had to be rebuilt"

Page 28: Ffourscore as in the original

Page 31, 166: Inconsistent hyphenation of roof-tree left as in the original as part of a quotation

Page 43: ecstasies standardised to ecstacies after "which threw the company into" for consistency

Page 44: "He eat meat" as in the original

Page 48: re-appears standardised to reappears after "evening the picturesque" for consistency

Page 53: . added after "strangely with the clay"

Page 66: seabirds standardised to sea-birds after "eggs of" for consistency

Page 68: harmonise changed to harmonize after "the better did it" for consistency

Page 72: weatherbeaten standardised to weather-beaten after "an ancient breakwater—all" for consistency

Page 74: befel as in the original

Page 78: Byepaths changed to Bye-paths before "are not enticing" for consistency

Page 80: seabirds standardised to sea-birds after "a resort of" for consistency

Page 82: "should chose to wed" as in the original

Page 88: enumerationg corrected to enumerating before "the prophet, the fiery furnace"

Page 89: wonld corrected to would after "Whitby, and not Scarborough,"

Page 89: characterise standardised to characterize after "and show which" for consistency

Page 92: . added after "could give the surest information"

Page 111: course corrected to coarse before "grass and weeds,"

Page 123: water-falls standardised to waterfalls after "rustling leaves, and rushing" for consistency

Page 126: inconsistent hyphenation of road-side left as in the original as part of a quotation

Page 129: widespread standardised to wide-spread after "rove at will over the" for consistency

Page 131: , corrected to . after "Prince Oswy, her son"

Page 141: out-look standardised to outlook after "rock affords an" for consistency

Page 142: reedom corrected to freedom after "John Wycliffe, to whom"

Page 149: grasss corrected to grass after "The foam appears the whiter, and the"

Page 151: Duplicate a removed before "meadow, however, comes"

Page 155: a corrected to an after "a good way off on"

Page 166: inpenetrable corrected to impenetrable after "cranny, all but the"

Page 167: gray-beard standardised to graybeard after "The stiff-jointed" for consistency

Page 170: inconsistent non-hyphenation of abear left as in the original as part of a quotation

Page 172: , corrected to . after "was a Metcalfe"

Page 177: betweeen corrected to between after "not yet lambed, the connexion"

Page 177: Galebeck standardised to Gale Beck after "Not far from the inn is"

Page 184: uphill standardised to up-hill after "village, and walking" for consistency

Page 188: were corrected to where after "let themselves down to a level,"

Page 192: unusally corrected to unusually after "betokened something"

Page 193: gatehouse standardised to gate-house after "embodying the ancient" for consistency

Page 197: inconsistent hyphenation of up-stairs left as in the original as part of a quotation

Page 199: plinthe corrected to plinth after "forms a natural"

Page 213: minister corrected to minster after "Without seeing the"

Page 215: over-much standardised to overmuch after "voice is made to utter"

Page 233: forsee as in the original

Page 235: Bronte's standardised to Brontë's in heading for consistency

Page 236: Bronte standardised to Brontë three times for consistency

Page 248: boddices corrected to bodices after "from maidens'"

Page 271: Shirecliffe standardised to Shirecliff

Page 271: Shunner standardised to Shunnor

General: Spelling of Cleathorpes as in the original

General: The musician normally called Caedmon is rendered as Cœdmon as in the original

General: Punctuation and formatting of the index has been standardised; changes have not been individually noted






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