Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Seven English Cities by W. D. Howells

Part 1 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Produced by Tricia Gilbert, Eric Eldred, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





[Illustration: A VIEW OF MONK BAR]

* * * * *


ROMAN HOLIDAYS............................... net $3.00
Traveller's Edition...................... net 3.00

Traveller's Edition...................... net 3.00

LONDON FILMS. Illustrated.................... net 2.25
Traveller's Edition...................... net 2.25

A LITTLE SWISS SOJOURN....................... .50

MY YEAR IN A LOG CABIN. Illustrated.......... .50

CRITICISM AND FICTION........................ 1.00

HEROINES OF FICTION. Illustrated............. net 3.75

IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES.................. 1.50


LITERATURE AND LIFE.......................... net 2.25

MODERN ITALIAN POETS. Illustrated............ 2.00

MY LITERARY PASSIONS......................... 1.75

STOPS OF VARIOUS QUILLS...................... 2.50
Limited Edition......................... 15.00

* * * * *



* * * * *



* * * * *


Why should the proud stomach of American travel, much tossed in
the transatlantic voyage, so instantly have itself carried from
Liverpool to any point where trains will convey it? Liverpool is
most worthy to be seen and known, and no one who looks up from
the bacon and eggs of his first hotel breakfast after landing,
and finds himself confronted by the coal-smoked Greek
architecture of St. George's Hall, can deny that it is of a
singularly noble presence. The city has moments of failing in the
promise of this classic edifice, but every now and then it
reverts to it, and reminds the traveller that he is in a great
modern metropolis of commerce by many other noble edifices.


Liverpool does not remind him of this so much as the good and
true Baedeker professes, in the dockside run on the overhead
railway (as the place unambitiously calls its elevated road); but
then, as I noted in my account of Southampton, docks have a fancy
of taking themselves in, and eluding the tourist eye, and even
when they "flank the Mersey for a distance of 6-7 M." they do not
respond to American curiosity so frankly as could be wished. They
are like other English things in that, however, and it must be
said for them that when apparent they are sometimes unimpressive.
From my own note-book, indeed, I find that I pretended to think
them "wonderful and almost endless," and so I dare say they are.
But they formed only a very perfunctory interest of our day at
Liverpool, where we had come to meet, not to take, a steamer.

Our run from London, in the heart of June, was very quick and
pleasant, through a neat country and many tidy towns. In the
meadows the elms seemed to droop like our own rather than to hold
themselves oakenly upright like the English; the cattle stood
about in the yellow buttercups, knee-deep, white American
daisies, and red clover, and among the sheep we had our choice of
shorn and unshorn; they were equally abundant. Some of the
blossomy May was left yet on the hawthorns, and over all the sky
hovered, with pale-white clouds in pale-blue spaces of air like
an inverted lake of bonnyclabber. We stopped the night at
Chester, and the next evening, in the full daylight of 7.40, we
pushed on to Liverpool, over lovely levels, with a ground swell
like that of Kansas plains, under a sunset drying its tears and
at last radiantly smiling.


The hotel in Liverpool swarmed and buzzed with busy and murmurous
American arrivals. One could hardly get at the office window, on
account of them, to plead for a room. A dense group of our
countrywomen were buying picture-postals of the rather suave
office-ladies, and helplessly fawning on them in the inept
confidences of American women with all persons in official or
servile attendance. "Let me stay here," one of them entreated,
"because there's such a draught at the other window. May I?" She
was a gentle child of forty-five or fifty; and I do not know
whether she was allowed to stay in the sheltered nook or not,
tender creature. As she was in every one else's way there,
possibly she was harshly driven into the flaw at the other


The place was a little America which swelled into a larger with
the arrivals of the successive steamers, though the soft swift
English trains bore our co-nationals away as rapidly as they
could. Many familiar accents remained till the morning, and the
breakfast-room was full of a nasal resonance which would have
made one at home anywhere in our East or West. I, who was then
vainly trying to be English, escaped to the congenial top of the
farthest bound tram, and flew, at the rate of four miles an hour,
to the uttermost suburbs of Liverpool, whither no rumor of my
native speech could penetrate. It was some balm to my wounded
pride of country to note how pale and small the average type of
the local people was. The poorer classes swarmed along a great
part of the tram-line in side streets of a hard, stony look, and
what characterized itself to me as a sort of iron squalor seemed
to prevail. You cannot anywhere have great prosperity without
great adversity, just as you cannot have day without night, and
the more Liverpool evidently flourished the more it plainly
languished. I found no pleasure in the paradox, and I was not
overjoyed by the inevitable ugliness of the brick villas of the
suburbs into which these obdurate streets decayed. But then,
after divers tram changes, came the consolation of beautiful
riverside beaches, thronged with people who looked gay at that
distance, and beyond the Mersey rose the Welsh hills, blue, blue.


At the end of the tram-line, where we necessarily dismounted, we
rejected a thatched cottage, offering us tea, because we thought
it too thatched and too cottage to be quite true (though I do not
now say that there were vermin in the straw roof), and accepted
the hospitality of a pastry-cook's shop. We felt the more at home
with the kind woman who kept it because she had a brother at
Chicago in the employ of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and had
once been in Stratford-on-Avon; this doubly satisfied us as
cultivated Americans. She had a Welsh name, and she testified to
a great prevalence of Welsh and Irish in the population of
Liverpool; besides, she sent us to a church of the Crusaders at
Little Crosby, and it was no fault of hers that we did not find
it. We found one of the many old crosses for which Little Crosby
is named, and this was quite as much as we merited. It stood at
the intersection of the streets in what seemed the fragment of a
village, not yet lost in the vast maw of the city, and it calmed
all the simple neighborhood, so that we sat down at its foot and
rested a long, long minute till the tram came by and took us back
into the loud, hard heart of Liverpool.

I do not mean to blame it, for it was no louder or harder than
the hearts of other big towns, and it had some alleviation from
the many young couples who were out together half-holidaying in
the unusually pleasant Saturday weather. I wish their complexions
had been better, but you cannot have South-of-England color if
you live as far north as Liverpool, and all the world knows what
the American color is. The young couples abounded in the Gallery
of Fine Arts, where they frankly looked at one another instead of
the pictures. The pictures might have been better, but then they
might have been worse (there being examples of Filippo Lippi,
Memmi, Holbein, and, above all, the _Dante's Dream_ of
Rossetti); and in any case those couples could come and see them
when they were old men and women; but now they had one another in
a moment of half-holiday which could not last forever.

In the evening there were not so many lovers at the religious
meetings before the classic edifice opposite the hotel, where the
devotions were transacted with the help of a brass-band; but
there were many youths smoking short pipes, and flitting from one
preacher to another, in the half-dozen groups. Some preachers
were nonconformist, but there was one perspiring Anglican priest
who labored earnestly with his hearers, and who had more of his
aspirates in the right place. Many of his hearers were in the
rags which seem a favorite wear in Liverpool, and I hope his
words did their poor hearts good.

Slightly apart from the several congregations, I found myself
with a fellow-foreigner of seafaring complexion who addressed me
in an accent so unlike my own American that I ventured to answer
him in Italian. He was indeed a Genoese, who had spent much time
in Buenos Ayres and was presently thinking of New York; and we
had some friendly discourse together concerning the English. His
ideas of them were often so parallel with my own that I hardly
know how to say he thought them an improvident people. I owned
that they spent much more on state, or station, than the
Americans; but we neither had any censure for them otherwise. He
was of that philosophic mind which one is rather apt to encounter
in the Latin races, and I could well wish for his further
acquaintance. His talk rapt me to far other and earlier scenes,
and I seemed to be conversing with him under a Venetian heaven,
among objects of art more convincing than the equestrian statue
of the late Queen, who had no special motive I could think of for
being shown to her rightly loving subjects on horseback. We
parted with the expressed hope of seeing each other again, and if
this should meet his eye and he can recall the pale young man,
with the dark full beard, who chatted with him between the
pillars of the Piazzetta, forty years before our actual encounter
I would be glad of his address.


How strange are the uses of travel! There was a time when the
mention of Liverpool would have conjured up for me nothing but
the thought of Hawthorne, who spent divers dull consular years
there, and has left a record of them which I had read, with the
wish that it were cheerfuler. Yet, now, here on the ground his
feet might have trod, and in the very smoke he breathed, I did
not once think of him. I thought as little of that poor Felicia
Hemans, whose poetry filled my school-reading years with the roar
of the wintry sea breaking from the waveless Plymouth Bay on the
stern and rock-bound coast where the Pilgrim Fathers landed on a
bowlder measuring eight by ten feet, now fenced in against the
predatory hammers and chisels of reverent visitors. I knew that
Gladstone was born at Liverpool, but not Mrs. Oliphant, and the
only literary shade I could summon from a past vague enough to my
ignorance was William Roscoe, whose _Life of Leo X._, in the
Bohn Library, had been too much for my young zeal when my zeal
was still young. My other memories of Liverpool have been
acquired since my visit, and I now recur fondly to the
picturesque times when King John founded a castle there, to the
prouder times when Sir Francis Bacon represented it in
Parliament; or again to the brave days when it resisted Prince
Rupert for three weeks, and the inglorious epoch when the new
city (it was then only some four or five hundred years old) began
to flourish on the trade in slaves with the colonies of the
Spanish Main, and on the conjoint and congenial traffic in rum,
sugar, and tobacco.


It will be suspected from these reminiscences that I have been
studying a page of fine print in Baedeker, and I will not deceive
the reader. It is true; but it is also true that I had some
wonder, altogether my own, that so great a city should make so
small an appeal to the imagination. In this it outdoes almost any
metropolis of our own. Even in journalism, an intensely modern
product, it does not excel; Manchester has its able and well-
written _Guardian_, but what has Liverpool? Glasgow has its
Glasgow School of Painting, but again what has Liverpool? It is
said that not above a million of its people live in it; all the
rest, who can, escape to Chester, where they perhaps vainly hope
to escape the Americans. There, intrenched in charming villas
behind myrtle hedges, they measurably do so; but Americans are
very penetrating, and I would not be sure that the thickest and
highest hedge was invulnerable to them. As it is, they probably
constitute the best society of Liverpool, which the natives have
abandoned to them, though they do not constitute it permanently,
but consecutively. Every Cunarder, every White Star, pours out
upon a city abandoned by its own good society a flood of
cultivated Americans, who eddy into its hotels, and then rush out
of them by every train within twenty-four hours, and often within
twenty-five minutes. They understand that there are no objects of
interest in Liverpool; and they are not met at the Customs with
invitations to breakfast, luncheon, and dinner from the people of
rank and fashion with whom they have come to associate. These
have their stately seats in the lovely neighboring country, but
they are not at the landing-stage, and even the uncultivated
American cannot stay for the vast bourgeoisie of which Liverpool,
like the cities of his own land, is composed. Our own cities have
a social consciousness, and are each sensible of being a centre,
with a metropolitan destiny; but the strange thing about
Liverpool and the like English towns is that they are without any
social consciousness. Their meek millions are socially unborn;
they can come into the world only in London, and in their
prenatal obscurity they remain folded in a dreamless silence,
while all the commercial and industrial energies rage round them
in a gigantic maturity.


The time was when Liverpool was practically the sole port of
entry for our human cargoes, indentured apprentices of the
beautiful, the historical. With the almost immediate transference
of the original transatlantic steamship interests from Bristol,
Liverpool became the only place where you could arrive. American
lines, long erased from the seas, and the Inman line, the Cunard
line, the White Star line, and the rest, would land you nowhere
else. Then heretical steamers began to land you at Glasgow; worse
schismatics carried you to Southampton; there were heterodox
craft that touched at Plymouth, and now great swelling agnostics
bring you to London itself. Still, Liverpool remains the greatest
port of entry for our probationers, who are bound out to the
hotels and railroad companies of all Europe till they have
morally paid back their fare. The superstition that if you go in
a Cunarder you can sleep on both ears is no longer so exclusive
as it once was; yet the Cunarder continues an ark of safety for
the timid and despairing, and the cooking is so much better than
it used to be that if in contravention of the old Cunard rule
against a passenger's being carried overboard you do go down, you
may be reasonably sure of having eaten something that the
wallowing sea-monsters will like in you.


I have tried to give some notion of the fond behavior of the
arriving Americans in the hotels; no art can give the impression
of their exceeding multitude. Expresses, panting with as much
impatience as the disciplined English expresses ever suffer
themselves to show, await them in the stations, which are
effectively parts of the great hotels, and whir away to London
with them as soon as they can drive up from the steamer; but many
remain to rest, to get the sea out of their heads and legs, and
to prepare their spirits for adjustment to the novel conditions.
These the successive trains carry into the heart of the land
everywhere, these and their baggage, to which they continue
attached by their very heart-strings, invisibly stretching from
their first-class corridor compartments to the different luggage-
vans. I must say they have very tenderly, very perfectly imagined
us, all those hotel people and railroad folk, and fold us,
anxious and bewildered exiles, in a reassuring and consoling
embrace which leaves all their hands--they are Briarean--free for
the acceptance of our wide, wild tips. You may trust yourself
implicitly to their care, but if you are going to Oxford do not
trust the head porter who tells you to take the London and
Northwestern, for then you will have to change four times on the
way and at every junction personally see that your baggage is
unladen and started anew to its destination.

* * * * *


I will suppose the reader not to be going to Oxford, but, in
compliance with the scheme of this paper, to Manchester, where
there is perhaps no other reason for his going. He will there,
for one thing, find the supreme type of the railroad hotel which
in England so promptly shelters and so kindly soothes the
fluttered exile. At Manchester, even more than at Liverpool, we
are imagined in the immense railroad station hotel, which is
indeed perhaps superorganized and over-convenienced after an
American ideal: one does not, for instance, desire a striking, or
even a ticking, clock in the transom above one's bedroom door;
but the like type of hotel is to be found at every great railroad
centre or terminal in England, and it is never to be found quite
bad, though of course it is sometimes better and sometimes worse.
It is hard to know if it is more hotel or more station; perhaps
it is a mixture of each which defies analysis; but in its well-
studied composition you pass, as it were, from your car to your
room, as from one chamber to another. This is putting the fact
poetically; but, prosaically, the intervening steps are few at
the most; and when you have entered your room your train has
ceased to be. The simple miracle would be impossible in America,
where our trains, when not shrieking at the tops of their
whistles, are backing and filling with a wild clangor of their
bells, and making a bedlam of their stations; but in England they

"Come like shadows, so depart,"

and make no sound within the vast caravansary where the enchanted
traveller has changed from them into a world of dreams.


These hotels are, next to the cathedrals, perhaps the greatest
wonder of England, and in Manchester the railway hotel is in some
ways more wonderful than the cathedral, which is not so much
planned on our native methods. Yet this has the merit, if it is a
merit, of antedating our Discovery by nearly a century, and pre-
historically it is indefinitely older. My sole recorded
impression of it is that I found it smelling strongly of coal-
gas, such as comes up the register when your furnace is
mismanaged; but that is not strange in such a manufacturing
centre; and it would be paltering with the truth not to own a
general sense of the beauty and grandeur in it which no English
cathedral is without. The morning was fitly dim and chill, and
one could move about in the vague all the more comfortably for
the absence of that appeal of thronging monuments which harasses
and bewilders the visitor in other cathedrals; one could really
give one's self up to serious emotion, and not be sordidly and
rapaciously concerned with objects of interest. Manchester has
been an episcopal see only some fifty years; before that the
cathedral was simply T' Owd Church, and in this character it is
still venerable, and is none the less so because of the statue of
Oliver Cromwell which holds the chief place in the open square
before it. Call it an incongruity, if you will, but that enemy of
episcopacy is at least not accused of stabling his horses in The
Old Church at Manchester, or despoiling it of its sacred images
and stained glass, and he merits a monument there if anywhere.


With the constantly passing trams which traverse the square, he
is undoubtedly more significant of modern Manchester than the
episcopacy is, and perhaps of that older Manchester which held
for him against the king, and that yet older Manchester of John
Bradford, the first martyr of the Reformation to suffer death at
the stake in Smithfield. Of the still yet older, far older
Manchester, which trafficked with the Greeks of Marseilles, and
later passed under the yoke of Agricola and was a Roman military
station, and got the name of Maen-ceaster from the Saxons, and
was duly bedevilled by the Danes and mishandled by the Normans,
there may be traces in the temperament of the modern town which
would escape even the scrutiny of the hurried American. Such a
compatriot was indeed much more bent upon getting a pair of
cotton socks, like those his own continent wears almost
universally in summer, but a series of exhaustive visits to all
the leading haberdashers in Manchester developed the strange fact
that there, in the world-heart of the cotton-spinning industry,
there was no such thing to be found. In Manchester there are only
woollen socks, heavier or lighter, to be bought, and the shopmen
smile pityingly if you say, in your strange madness, that woollen
socks are not for summer wear. Possibly, however, it was not
summer in Manchester, and we were misled by the almanac. Possibly
we had been spoiled by three weeks of warm, sunny rain on the
Welsh coast, and imagined a vain thing in supposing that the end
of August was not the beginning of November.


I thought Manchester, however, as it shows itself in its public
edifices, a most dignified town, with as great beauty as could be
expected of a place which has always had so much to do besides
looking after its figure and complexion. The very charming series
or system of parks, public gardens, and playgrounds, unusual in
their number and variety, had a sympathetic allure in the gray,
cool light, even to the spectator passing in a hurried hansom.
They have not the unity of the Boston or Chicago parkways, and I
will own that I had not come to Manchester for them. What
interested me more were the miles and miles of comfortable-
looking little brick houses in which, for all I knew, the mill-
labor dwelt. Very possibly it did not; the mills themselves are
now nearly all, or mostly, outside of Manchester, and perhaps for
this reason I did not find the slums, when shown them, very
slummy, and I saw no such dreadful shapes of rags and dirt as in
Liverpool. We passed through a quarter of large, old-fashioned
mansions, as charming as they were unimagined of Manchester; but
these could not have been the dwellings of the mill-hands, any
more than of the mill-owners. The mill-owners, at least, live in
suburban palaces and villas, which I fancy by this time are not

--"pricking a cockney ear,"

as in the time of Tennyson's "Maud."

What wild and whirling insolences, however, the people who have
greatly made the greatness of England have in all times suffered
from their poets and novelists, with few exceptions! One need not
be a very blind devotee of commercialism or industrialism to
resent the affronts put upon them, when one comes to the scenes
of such mighty achievement as Liverpool, and Manchester, and
Sheffield; but how mildly they seem to have taken it all--with
what a meek subordination and sufferance! One asks one's self
whether the society of such places can be much inferior to that
of Pittsburg, or Chicago, or St. Louis, which, even from the
literary attics of New York, we should not exactly allow
ourselves to spit upon. Practically, I know nothing about society
in Manchester, or rather, out of it; and I can only say of the
general type, of richer or poorer, as I saw it in the streets,
that it was uncommonly good. Not so many women as men were
abroad in such weather as we had, and I cannot be sure that the
sex shows there that superiority physically which it has long
held morally with us. One learns in the north not to look for the
beautiful color of the south and west; but in Manchester the
average faces were intelligent and the figures good.


With such a journal as the Manchester _Guardian_ still
keeping its high rank among English newspapers, there cannot be
question of the journalistic sort of thinking in the place. Of
the sort that comes to its effect in literature, such as, say,
Mrs. Gaskell's novels, there may also still be as much as ever;
and I will not hazard my safe ignorance in a perilous conjecture.
I can only say that of the Unitarianism which eventuated in that
literature, I heard it had largely turned to episcopacy, as
Unitarianism has in our own Boston. I must not forget that one of
our religions, now a dying faith, was invented in Manchester by
Ann Lee, who brought, through the usual persecutions, Shakerism
to such spiritual importance as it has now lost in these States.
Only those who have known the Shakers, with their good lives and
gentle ways, can regret with me the decline of the celibate
communism which their foundress imagined in her marital relations
with the Lancashire blacksmith she left behind her.

I am reminded (or perhaps instructed) by Mr. Hope Moncrieff in
Black's excellent _Guide to Manchester_ that before Mrs.
Gaskell's celebrity the fitful fame of De Quincey shed a backward
gleam upon his native place, which can still show the house where
he was probably born and the grammar-school he certainly ran away
from. In my forgetfulness, or my ignorance, that Manchester was
the mother of this tricksy master-spirit of English prose, who
was an idol of my youth, I failed to visit either house. The
renown of Cobden and of Bright is precious to a larger world than
mine; and the name of the stalwart Quaker friend of man is dear
to every American who remembers the heroic part he played in our
behalf during our war for the Union. It is one of the amusing
anomalies of the British constitution, that the great city from
whose political fame these names are inseparable should have had
no representation in Parliament from Cromwell's time to
Victoria's. Fancy Akron, Ohio, or Grand Rapids, Michigan, without
a member of Congress!


The "Manchester school" of political economy has long since
passed into reproach if not obloquy with people for whom a byword
is a potent weapon, and perhaps the easiest they can handle, and
I am not myself so extreme a _laissez-faireist_ as to have
thought of that school with pathos in the city of its origin; but
I dare say it was a good thing in its time. We are only now
slowly learning how to apply the opposite social principles in
behalf of the Man rather than the Master, and we have not yet
surmounted all the difficulties or dangers of the experiment. It
is droll how, in a tolerably well-meaning world like this, any
sort of contempt becomes inclusive, and a whole population
suffers for the vice, or it may be the virtue, of a very small
majority, or a very powerful minority. Probably the most liberal
and intelligent populations of Great Britain are those of
Manchester and Birmingham, names which have stood for a hard and
sordid industrialism, unrelieved by noble sympathies and
impulses. It is quite possible that a less generous spirit than
mine would have censured the "Manchester school" for the weather
of the place, and found in its cold gray light the effect of the
Gradgrind philosophy which once wrapt a world of fiction in


I can only be sure that the light, what little there was of it,
was very cold and gray, but it quite sufficed to show the huge
lowries, as the wagons are called, passing through the streets
with the cotton fabrics of the place in certain stages of
manufacture: perhaps the raw, perhaps the finished material. In
Manchester itself one sees not much else of "the cotton-spinning
chorus" which has sent its name so far. The cotton is now spun in
ten or twenty towns in the nearer or farther neighborhood of the
great city, as every one but myself and some ninety millions of
other Americans well know. I had seen something of cotton-mills
in our Lowell, and I was eager, if not willing, to contrast them
with the mills of Manchester; but such of these as still remained
there were, for my luckless moment, inoperative. Personal
influences brought me within one or two days of their starting
up; one almost started up during my brief stay; but a great mill,
employing perhaps a thousand hands, cannot start up for the sake
of the impression desired by the aesthetic visitor, and I had to
come away without mine.

I had to come away without that personal acquaintance with the
great Manchester ship-canal which I almost equally desired.
Coming or going, I asked about it, and was told, looking for it
from the car window, there, _there_ it was! but beyond a
glimpse of something very long and very straight marking the
landscape with lines no more convincing than those which science
was once decided, and then undecided, to call canals on the
planet Mars, I had no sight of it. I do not say this was not my
fault; and I will not pretend that the canal, like the mills of
Manchester, was not running. I dare say I was not in the right
hands, but this was not for want of trying to get into them. In
the local delusion that it was then summer, those whose kindness
might have befriended the ignorance of the stranger were "away on
their holidays": that was exactly the phrase.

When, by a smiling chance, I fell into the right hands and was
borne to the Cotton Exchange I did not fail of a due sense of the
important scene, I hope. The building itself, like the other
public buildings of Manchester, is most dignified, and the great
hall of the exchange is very noble. I would not, if I could, have
repressed a thrill of pride in seeing our national colors and
emblems equalled with those of Great Britain at one end of the
room, but these were the only things American in the impression
left. We made our way through the momently thickening groups on
the floor, and in the guidance of a member of the exchange found
a favorable point of observation in the gallery. From this the
vast space below showed first a moving surface of hats, with few
silk toppers among them, but a multitude of panamas and other
straws. The marketing was not carried on with anything like the
wild, rangy movement of our Stock Exchange, and the floor sent up
no such hell-roaring (there is no other phrase for it) tumult as
rises from the mad but not malign demons of that most dramatic
representation of perdition. The merchants, alike staid, whether
old or young, congregated in groups which, dealing in a common
type of goods, kept the same places till, toward three o'clock,
they were lost in the mass which covered the floor. Even then
there was no uproar, no rush or push, no sharp cries or frenzied
shouting; but from the crowd, which was largely made up of
elderly men, there rose a sort of surd, rich hum, deepening ever,
and never breaking into a shriek of torment or derision. It was
not histrionic, and yet for its commercial importance it was one
of the most moving spectacles which could offer itself to the eye
in the whole world.


I cannot pretend to have profited by my visit to that immensely
valuable deposit of books, bought from the Spencer family at
Althorp, and dedicated as the Rylands library to the memory of a
citizen of Manchester. Books in a library, except you have time
and free access to them, are as baffling as so many bottles in a
wine-cellar, which are not opened for you, and which if they were
would equally go to your head without final advantage. I find,
therefore, that my sole note upon the Rylands Library is the very
honest one that it smelt, like the cathedral, of coal-gas. The
absence of this gas was the least merit of the beautiful old
Chetham College, with its library dating from the seventeenth
century, and claiming to have been the first free library in
England, and doubtless the world. In the cloistered
picturesqueness of the place, its mediaeval memorials, and its
ancient peace, I found myself again in those dear Middle Ages
which are nowhere quite wanting in England, and against which I
rubbed off all smirch of the modernity I had come to Manchester

* * * * *


If I had waited a little till I had got into the beautiful
Derbyshire country which lies, or rather rolls, between
Manchester and Sheffield, I could as easily have got rid of my
epoch in the smiling agricultural landscape. I do not know just
the measure of the Black Country in England, or where Sheffield
begins to be perhaps the blackest spot in it; but I am sure that
nothing not surgically clean could be whiter than the roads that,
almost as soon as we were free of Manchester, began to climb the
green, thickly wooded hills, and dip into the grassy and leafy
valleys. In the very heart of the loveliness we found Sheffield
most nobly posed against a lurid sunset, and clouding the sky,
which can never be certain of being blue, with the smoke of a
thousand towering chimneys. From whatever point you have it, the
sight is most prodigious, but no doubt the subjective sense of
the great ducal mansions and estates which neighbor the mirky
metropolis of steel and iron has its part in heightening the
dramatic effect.


The English, with their love of brevity and simplicity, call
these proud seats the Dukeries, but our affair was not with them,
and I shall not be able to follow the footmen or butlers or
housekeepers who would so obligingly show them to the reader in
my company. I had a fine consciousness of passing some of them on
my way into the town, and when there of being, however,
incongruously, in the midst of them. Worksop, more properly than
Sheffield, is the plebeian heart of these aristocratic homes, or
sojourns, which no better advised traveller, or less hurried,
will fail to see. But I was in Sheffield to see the capital of
the Black Country in its most characteristic aspects, and I
thought it felicitously in keeping, after I had dined (less well
than I could have wished, at the railway hotel which scarcely
kept the promise made for it by other like hotels) that I should
be tempted beyond my strength to go and see that colored opera
which we had lately sent, after its signal success with us, to an
even greater prosperity in England. _In Dahomey_ is a
musical drama not pitched in the highest key, but it is a genuine
product of our national life, and to witness its performance by
the colored brethren who invented it, and were giving it with
great applause in an atmosphere quite undarkened by our racial
prejudices, was an experience which I would not have missed for
many Dukeries. The kindly house was not so suffocatingly full
that it could not find breath for cheers and laughter; but I
proudly felt that no one there could delight so intelligently as
the sole American, in the familiar Bowery figures, the blue
policemen, the varying darky types, which peopled a scene largely
laid in Africa. The local New York suggestions were often from
Mr. Edward Harrigan, and all the more genuine for that, but there
was a final cake-walk which owed its inspiration wholly to the
genius of a race destined to greater triumphs in music and art,
and perhaps to a kindlier civilization than our ideals have
evolved in yet. It was pleasant to look upon those different
shades of color, from dead black to creamy blond, in their novel
relief against an air of ungrudging, of even respectful,
appreciation, and I dare say the poor things liked it for
themselves as much as I liked it for them. At a fine moment of
the affair I was aware of a figure in evening dress, standing
near me, and regarding the stage with critical severity: a young
man, but shrewd and well in hand, who, as the unmistakable
manager, was, I hope, finally as well satisfied as the other


I myself came away entirely satisfied, indeed, but for the
lasting pang I inflicted upon myself by denying a penny to the
ragged wretch who superfluously opened the valves of my hansom
for me. My explanation to my soul was that I had no penny in my
pocket, and that it would have been folly little short of crime
to give so needy a wretch sixpence. But would it? Would it have
corrupted him, since pauperize him further it could not? I advise
the reader who finds himself in the like case to give the
sixpence, and if he cares for the peace of my conscience, to make
it a shilling; or, come! a half-crown, if he wishes to be truly
handsome. It is astonishing how these regrets persist; but
perhaps in this instance I owe the permanence of my pang to those
frequent appeals to one's pity which repeated themselves in
Sheffield. As I had noted at Liverpool I now noted at Sheffield
that you cannot have great prosperity without having adversity,
just as you cannot have heat without cold or day without dark.
The one substantiates and verifies the other; and I perceived
that wherever business throve it seemed to be at the cost of
somebody; though even when business pines it is apparently no
better. The thing ought to be looked into.

At the moment of my visit to Sheffield, it happened that many
works were running half-time or no time, and many people were out
of work. At one place there was a little oblong building between
branching streets, round which sat a miserable company of
Murchers, as I heard them called, on long benches under the
overhanging roof, who were too obviously, who were almost
offensively, out of work. Some were old and some young, some dull
and some fierce, some savage and some imbecile in their looks,
and they were all stained and greasy and dirty, and looked their
apathy or their grim despair. Even the men who were coming to or
from their work at dinner-time looked stunted and lean and pale,
with no color of that south of England bloom with which they
might have favored a stranger. Slatternly girls and women
abounded, and little babies carried about by a little larger
babies, and of course kissed on their successive layers of dirt.
There were also many small boys who, I hope, were not so wicked
as they were ragged. At noon-time they hung much about the
windows of cookshops which one would think their sharp hunger
would have pierced to the steaming and smoking dishes within. The
very morning after I had denied that man a penny at the theatre
door, and was still smarting to think I had not given him
sixpence, I saw a boy of ten, in the cut-down tatters of a man,
gloating upon a meat-pie which a cook had cruelly set behind the
pane in front of him. I took out the sixpence which I ought to
have given that poor man, and made it a shilling, and put it into
the boy's wonderfully dirty palm, and bade him go in and get the
pie. He looked at me, and he looked at the shilling, and then I
suppose he did as he was bid. But I ought to say, in justice to
myself, that I never did anything of the kind again as long as I
remained in Sheffield. I felt that I owed a duty to the place and
must not go about corrupting the populace for my selfish


Between our hotel and the main part of the town there yawned a
black valley, rather nobly bridged, or viaducted, and beyond it
in every direction the chimneys of the many works thickened in
the perspectives. It was really like a dead forest, or like
thick-set masts of shipping in a thronged port; or the vents of
tellurian fires, which send up their flames by night and their
smoke by day. It was splendid, it was magnificent, it was
insurpassably picturesque. People must have painted it often, but
if some bravest artist-soul would come, reverently, not
patronizingly, and portray the sight in its naked ugliness, he
would create one of the most beautiful masterpieces in the world.
On our first morning the sun, when it climbed to the upper
heavens, found a little hole in the dun pall, and shone down
through it, and tried to pierce through the more immediate cloud
above the works; but it could not, and it ended by shutting the
hole under it, and disappearing.

Beyond the foul avenues thridding the region of the works, and
smelling of the decay of market-houses, were fine streets of
shops and churches, and I dare say comely dwellings, with tram-
cars ascending and descending their hilly slopes. The stores I
find noted as splendid, and in my pocket-book I say that outside
of the market-house, before you got to those streets, there are
doves and guinea-pigs as well as a raven for sale in cages; and
the usual horrible English display of flesh meats. The trams were
one story, like our trolleys, without roof-seats, and there were
plenty of them; but nothing could keep me, I suppose, till I had
seen one of the works. Each of these stands in a vast yard, or
close, by itself, with many buildings, and they are of all sorts;
but I chose what I thought the most typical, and overcame the
reluctance of the manager to let me see it. He said I had no idea
what tricks were played by other makers to find out any new
processes and steal them; but this was after I had pleaded my
innocent trade of novelist, and assured him of my congenital
incapability of understanding, much less conveying from the
premises, the image of the simplest and oldest process. Then he
gave me for guide an intelligent man who was a penknife-maker by
trade, but was presently out of work, and glad to earn my fee.

My guide proved a most decent, patient, and kindly person, and I
hope it is no betrayal of confidence to say that he told me the
men in these multitudinous shops work by the piece. The grinders
furnish their grindstones and all their tools for making the
knives; there is no dry grinding, such as used to fill the lungs
of the grinders with deadly particles of steel and stone, and
bring them to an early death; but sometimes a stone, which
ordinarily lasts six months, will burst and drive the grinder
through the roof. The blade-makers do their own forging and
hammering, and it is from first to last apparently all hand-work.
But it is head-work and heart-work too, and the men who wrought
at it wrought with such intensity and constancy that they did not
once look up or round where we paused to look on. I was made to
know that trade was dull and work slack, and these fellows were
lucky fellows to have anything to do. Still I did not envy them;
and I felt it a distinct relief to pass from their shops into the
cool, dim crypt which was filled with tusks of ivory, in all
sizes from those of the largest father elephant to those of the
babes of the herd; these were milk-tusks, I suppose. They get
dearer as the elephants get scarcer; and that must have been why
I paid as much for a penknife in the glittering showroom as it
would have cost me in New York, with the passage money and the
duties added. Because of the price, perhaps, I did not think of
buying the two-thousand-bladed penknife I saw there; but I could
never have used all the blades, now that we no longer make quill
pens. I looked fondly at the maker's name on the knife I did buy,
and said that the table cutlery of a certain small household
which set itself up forty years ago had borne the same: but the
pleasant salesman did not seem to feel the pathos of the fact so
much as I.


There is not only a vast deal of industry in Sheffield, but there
is an unusual abundance of history, as there might very well be
in a place that began life, in the usual English fashion, under
the Britons and grew into municipal consciousness in the
fostering care of the Romans and the ruder nurture of the Saxons,
Danes, and Normans. Lords it had of the last, and the great line
of the Earls of Shrewsbury presently rose and led Sheffield men
back to battle in France, where the first earl fell on the bloody
field, and so many of the men died with him in 1453 that there
was not a house in all the region which did not mourn a loss.
Which of the Roses Sheffield held for, White or Red, I am not
sure; but we will say that it duly suffered for one or the other;
and it is certain that the great Cardinal Wolsey rested eighteen
days at Sheffield Manor just before he went to die at Leicester;
and Mary Queen of Scots spent fourteen years of sorrowful
captivity, sometimes at the Manor and sometimes in Sheffield
Castle. This hold was taken by the Parliamentarians in the Civil
War; but the famous industries of the place had begun long
before; so that Chaucer could say of one of his pilgrims,

"A Sheffield thwytel bare he in his hose."

Thwytels, or whittles, figured in the broils and stage-plays of
Elizabethan times, and three gross of them were exported from
Liverpool in 1589, when the Sheffield penknife was already famed
the best in the world. Manufactures flourished there apace when
England turned to them from agriculture, and Sheffield is now a
city of four hundred thousand or more. Apparently it has been
growing radical, as the centres of prosperity and adversity
always do, and the days of the Chartist agitation continued there
for ten years, from 1839 till it came as near open rebellion as
it well could in a plot for an armed uprising. Then that cause of
the people, like many another, failed, and liberty there, as
elsewhere in England, was fain to

"broaden slowly down
From precedent to precedent."

Labor troubles, patient or violent, have followed, as labor
troubles must, but leisure has always been equal to their
pacification, and now Sheffield takes its adversity almost as
quietly as its prosperity.

[Illustration: TOWN HALL, SHEFFIELD]


We were not there, though, for others' labor or leisure, which we
have plenty of at home; but even before I appeased such
conscience as I had about seeing a type of the works, we went a
long drive up out of the town to that Manor where the poor,
brilliant, baddish Scotch queen was imprisoned by her brilliant,
baddish English cousin. In any question of goodness, there was
little to choose between them; both were blood-stained liars; but
it is difficult being a good woman and a queen too, and they only
failed where few have triumphed. Mary is the more appealing to
the fancy because she suffered beyond her deserts, but Elizabeth
was to be pitied because Mary had made it politically imperative
for her to kill her. All this we had threshed out many times
before, and had said that, cat for cat, Mary was the more
dangerous because she was the more feminine, and Elizabeth the
more detestable because she was the more masculine in her
ferocity. We were therefore in the right mood to visit Mary's
prison, and we were both indignant and dismayed to find that our
driver, called from a mews at a special price set upon his
intelligence, had never heard of it and did not know where it

We reported his inability to the head porter, who came out of the
hotel in a fine flare of sarcasm. "You call yourself a Sheffield
man and not know where the Old Manor is!" he began, and presently
reduced that proud ignoramus of a driver to such a willingness to
learn that we thought it at least safe to set out with him, and
so started for the long climb up the hills that hold Sheffield in
their hollow. When we reached their crest, we looked down and
back through the clearer air upon as strange and grand a sight as
could be. It was as if we were looking into the crater of a
volcano, which was sending up its smoke through a thousand vents.
All detail of the works and their chimneys was lost in the
retrospect; one was aware only of a sort of sea of vapor through
which they loomed and gloomed.

Our ascent was mostly through winding and climbing streets of
little dirty houses, with frowsy gardens beside them, and the
very dirtiest-faced children in England playing about them. From
time to time our driver had to ask his way of the friendly flat-
bosomed slatterns, with babies in their arms, on their
thresholds, or the women tending shop, or peddling provisions,
who were all kind to him, and assured him with varying degrees of
confidence that the Old Manor was a bit, or a goodish bit,
beyond. All at once we came upon the sight of it on an open top,
hard by what is left of the ruins of the real Manor, where Wolsey
stayed that little while from death. The relics are broken walls,
higher here, lower there; with some Tudor fireplaces showing
through their hollow windows. What we saw in tolerable repair was
the tower of the Manor, or the lodge, and we drove to it across a
field, on a track made by farm carts, and presently kept by a dog
that showed his teeth in a grin not wholly of amusement at our
temerity. While we debated whether we had not better let the
driver get down and knock, a farmer-like man came to the door and
called the dog off. Then, in a rich North Country accent, he
welcomed us to his kitchen parlor, where his wife was peeling
potatoes for their midday dinner, and so led us up the narrow
stone stairs of the tower to the chambers where Mary miserably
passed those many long years of captivity.

The rooms were visibly restored in every point where they could
have needed restoration, but they were not ruthlessly or too
insistently restored. There was even an antique chair, but when
our guide was put on his honor as to whether it was one of the
original chairs he answered, "Well, if people wanted a chair!" He
was a rather charmingly quaint, humorous person, with that queer
conscience, and he did not pretend to be moved by the hard
inexorable stoniness of the place which had been a queen's prison
for many years. One must not judge it too severely, though:
bowers and prisons of that day looked much alike, and Mary Stuart
may have felt this a bower, and only hated it because she could
not get out of it, or anyhow break the relentless hold of that
Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury whose captive guest she was,
though she never ceased trying. We went up on the wide flat roof,
of lead or stone, whither her feet must have so often heavily
climbed, and looked out over the lovely landscape which she must
have abhorred; and the wind that blew over it, in late August,
was very cold; far colder than the air of the prison, or the
bower, below.

The place belongs now to the Duke of Norfolk, the great Catholic
duke, and owes its restoration to his pity and his piety. Our
farmer guide was himself a Protestant, but he spoke well of the
duke, with whom he reported himself in such colloquies as, "I
says to Dook," and, "Dook says to me." When he understood that we
were Americans he asked after a son of his who had gone out to
our continent twenty years before. He had only heard from him
once, and that on the occasion of his being robbed of all his
money by a roommate. It was in a place called Massatusy; we
suggested Massachusetts, and he assented that such might be the
place; and Mary's prison-house acquired an added pathos.


We drove back through the beautiful park, the Duke of Norfolk's
gift to Sheffield, which is plentifully provided, like all
English towns, with public pleasure-grounds. They lie rather
outside of it, but within it are many and many religious and
civic edifices which merit to be seen. We chose as chiefest the
ancient Parish Church, of Norman origin and modern restoration,
where we visited the tomb of the Lord and Lady Shrewsbury who
were Mary Stuart's jailers; or if they were not, a pair of their
family were, and it comes to the same thing, emotionally. The
chapel in which they lie is most beautiful, and the verger had
just brushed the carpet within the chancel to such immaculate
dustlessness that he could not bring himself to let us walk over
it. He let us walk round it, and we saw the chapel as a favor,
which we discharged with an abnormal tip after severe debate
whether a person of this verger's rich respectability and perfect
manner would take any tip at all. In the event it appeared that
he would.

* * * * *


Perhaps it would be better to come to York somewhat earlier in
the year than the 2d of September. By that time the English
summer has suffered often if not severe discouragements. It has
really only two months out of the year to itself, and even July
and August are not always constant to it. To be sure, their
defection cannot spoil it, but they dispose it to the slights of
September in a dejection from which there is no rise to those
coquetries with October known to our own summer. Yet, having said
so much, I feel bound to add that our nine days in York, from the
2d to the 12th of September, were more summer than autumn days,
some wholly, some partly, with hours of sunshine keeping the
flowers bright which the rain kept fresh. If you walked fast in
this sunshine you were quite hot, and sometimes in the rain you
were uncomfortably warm, or at least you were wet. If the
mornings demanded a fire in the grate, the evenings were so
clement that the lamp was sufficient, and the noons were very
well with neither.


The day of our arrival in York began bright at Sheffield, where
there was a man quarrelling so loudly and aimlessly in the
station that we were glad to get away from him, as well as from
the mountains of slag surrounding the iron metropolis. The train
ran through a pass in these, and then we found ourselves in a
plain country, and, though the day turned gray and misty, there
seemed a sort of stored sunshine in the fields of wheat which the
farmers were harvesting far and near. One has heard so much of
the decay of the English agriculture that one sees what is
apparently the contrary with nothing less than astonishment. The
acreage of these wheat-fields was large, and the yield heavier
than I could remember to have seen at home. Where the crop had
been got in, much ploughing for the next year had been done
already, and where the ploughing was finished the work of sowing
by drill was going steadily forward, in the faith that such an
unprecedented summer as was now passing would return another
year. At all these pleasant labors, of course, the rooks were
helping, or at least bossing.


We expected to stay certainly a week, and perhaps two weeks, in
York, and our luck with railway hotels had been so smiling
elsewhere that we had no other mind than to spend the time at the
house into which we all but stepped from our train. But we had
reckoned without our host, as he was represented by one of a
half-dozen alert young ladies in the office, who asked how long
we expected to stay, and when we expressed a general purpose of
staying indefinitely, said that all her rooms were taken from the
next Monday by people who had engaged them long before for the
races. I did not choose to betray my ignorance to a woman, but I
privately asked the head porter what races those were which were
limiting our proposed sojourn, and I am now afraid he had some
difficulty in keeping a head porter's conventional respect for a
formal superior in answering that we had arrived on the eve of
Doncaster Week. Then I said, "Oh yes," and affected the knowledge
of Doncaster Week which I resolved to acquire by staying
somewhere in York till it was over.

But as yet, that Friday afternoon, there was no hurry, and,
instead of setting about a search for lodgings at once, we drove
up into the town, as soon as we had tea, and visited York Minster
while it was still the gray afternoon and not yet the gray
evening. I thought the hour fortunate, and I do not see yet how
we could have chosen a better hour out of the whole twenty-four,
for the inside or the outside of the glorious fane, the grandest
and beautifulest in all England, as I felt then and I feel now.
If I were put to the question and were forced to say in what its
supreme grandeur and beauty lay, I should perhaps say in its most
ample simplicity. No doubt it is full of detail, but I keep no
sense of this from that mighty interior, with its tree-like,
clustered pillars, and its measureless windows, like breadths of
stained foliage in autumnal woodlands. You want the scale of
nature for the Minster at York, and I cannot liken it to less
than all-out-doors. Some cathedrals, like that of Wells, make you
think of gardens; but York Minster will not be satisfied with
less than an autumnal woodland, where the trees stand in clumps,
with grassy levels about them, and with spacious openings to the
sky, that let in the colored evening light.

You could not get lost in it, for it was so free of all such
architectural undergrowth as cumbers the perspectives of some
cathedrals; besides, the afternoon of our visit there were so
many other Americans that you could easily have asked your way in
your own dialect. We loitered over its lengths and breadths, and
wondered at its windows, which were like the gates of sunrise and
sunset for magnitude, and lingered in a sumptuous delay from
going into the choir, delighting in the gray twilight which
seemed to gather from the gray walls inward, when suddenly what
seemed a metallic curtain was dropped with a clash and the
simultaneous up-flashing of electric bulbs inside it, and we were
shut out from the sight but not the sound of the service that
began in the choir. We could not wholly regret the incident, for
as we recalled the like operation of religion in churches of our
Italian travel, we were reminded how equally authoritative the
Church of England and the Church of Home were, and how little
they adjust their ceremonial to the individual, how largely to
the collective worshipper. You could come into the Minster of
York as into the basilica of St. Mark at Venice for a silent
prayer amid the religious influences of the place, and be
conscious of your oneness with your Source, as if there were no
other one; but when the priesthood called you as one of many to
your devotions, it was with the same imperative voice in both,
and you must obey or be cut off from your chance. I suppose it is
right; but somehow the down-clashing of that screen of the choir
in the Minster at York seemed to exclude us with reproach, almost
with ignominy.


We did what we could to repair our wounded self respect, and did
not lay our exclusion up against the Minster itself, which I find
that I noted as "scatteringly noble outside." By this I dare say
I meant it had not that artistic unity of which I brought the
impression from the inside. They were doing, as they were always
doing, every where, with English cathedrals, something to one of
the towers; but this only enhanced its scattering nobleness, for
it left that greatly bescaffolded tower largely to the
imagination, in which it soared sublimer, if anything, than its
compeer. Most of the streets leading to and from the rather
insufficient, irregular square where the Minster stands are lanes
of little houses of the fifteenth and sixteenth, centuries, which
collectively curved in their line, and not only overhung at their
second stories, but bulged outward involuntarily from the
weakness of age. They were all quite habitable, and some much
later dwellings immediately surrounding the church were the
favorite sojourn, apparently, of such strangers as could have
rooms at the hotels only until the Monday of Doncaster Week.


During those limited days of the week before Doncaster, I was
constantly coming back to the Minster, which is not the germ of
political York, or hardly religious York; the brave city was a
Romano-British capital and a Romano-British episcopal see
centuries before the first wooden temple was built on the site of
the present edifice in 627. I should like to make believe that we
found traces of that simple church in the crypt of the Minster
when we went the next morning and were herded through it by the
tenderest of vergers. Most of our flock were Americans, and we
put our guide to such question in matters of imagination and
information as the patience of a less amiable shepherd would not
have borne. Many a tale, true or o'ertrue, our verger had, which
he told with unction; when he ascended with us to the body of the
church, and said that the stained glass of the gigantic windows
suffered from the depredations of the mistaken birds which pecked
holes in the joints of their panes, I felt that I had full
measure from him, pressed down and running over. I do not
remember why he said the birds should have done this, but it
seems probable that they took the mellow colors of the glass for
those of ripe fruits.

For myself, I could not get enough of those windows, in another
sort of famine which ought at this time to have been sated. I was
forever wondering at their grandeur outside and their glory
inside. I was glad to lose my way about the town, for if I kept
walking I was sure, sooner or later, to bring up at the Minster;
but the last evening of our stay I made a purposed pilgrimage to
it for a final emotion. It was the clearest evening we had in
York, and at half-past six the sun was setting in a transparent
sky, which somehow it did not flush with any of those glaring
reds which the vulgarer sorts of sunsets are fond of, but bathed
the air in a delicate suffusion of daffodil light, just tinged
with violet. This was the best medium to see the past of the
Minster in, and I can see it there now, if I did not then. I
followed, or I follow, its veracious history back to the
beginning of the seventh century, whence you can look back
further still to the earliest Christian temples where the Romans
worshipped with the Britons, whom they had enslaved and
converted. But it was not till 627 that the little wooden chapel
was built on the site of the Minster, to house the rite of the
Northumbrian King Eadwine's baptism. He felt so happy in his new
faith that he replaced the wooden structure with stone. In the
next century it was burned, but rebuilt by another pious prince,
and probably repaired by yet another after the Danes took the
city a hundred years later. It was then in a good state to be
destroyed by that devout William the Conqueror, who came to take
the Saxon world in its sins of guttling and guzzling. The first
Norman archbishop reconstructed or restored the church, and then
it began to rise and to spread in glory--nave, transepts, and
choir, and pillars and towers, Norman and Early English, and
Perpendicular and Decorated--till it found itself at last what
the American tourist sees it to-day. It suffered from two great
fires in the nineteenth century, the first set by a lunatic who
had the fancy of seeing it burn, but who had only the
satisfaction of destroying part of the roof.

It was never richly painted, but the color wanting in the walls
and fretted vault was more than compensated by the mellowed
splendors of the matchless windows. It was, indeed, fit to be the
home of much more secular history than can be associated with it;
but not till the end of the thirteenth century had the Minster a
patron of its own, when St. William was canonized, and exercised
his office, whatever it was, for two brief centuries. Then the
Cromwell of Henry VIII. took possession of it in behalf of the
crown, and the saint's charge was practically abolished. He was
even deprived of his head, for the relic was encased in gold and
jewels, and was therefore worth the king's having, who was most a
friend of the reformed religion when it paid best. The later
Cromwell, who beat a later king hard by at Marston Moor, must
have somehow desecrated the Minster, though there is no record of
any such fact. A more authentic monument of the religious
difficulties of the times is the pastoral staff, bearing the arms
of Catharine of Braganza, the poor little wife of Charles II.,
which was snatched from a Roman Catholic bishop when, to the high
offence of Protestant piety, he was heading a procession in York
in 1688. The verger showing us through the Minster was a good
Protestant, but he held it bad taste in a predecessor of his, who
when leading about a Catholic party of sight-seers took the
captive staff from its place and shook it in their faces, saying,
"Don't you wish you had it?"


There is no telling to what lengths true religion, may rightly
not go. I rather prize the incident as the sole fact concerning
the Minster which I could make sure of even after repeated
visits, and if I am indebted for my associations with it, long
after the event, to Dr. Raine's scholarly and interesting sketch
of York history, there is no reason why the better-informed
reader should not accompany me in my last visit fully equipped. I
walked slowly all round the structure, and fancied that I got a
new sense of grandeur in the effect of the east window, which
was, at any rate, more impressive than the north window. It was a
long walk, almost the measure of such a walk as one should take
after supper for one's health, and it had such incidents as many
pauses for staring up at the many restorations going on. From
point to point the incomparable Perpendicular Gothic carried the
eye to the old gargoyles of the caves and towers waiting to be
replaced by the new gargoyles, which lay in open-mouthed
grimacing in the grass at the bases of the church. While I stood
noting both, and thinking the chances were that I should never
look on York Minster again, and feeling the luxurious pang of it,
a verger in a skull-cap was so good as to come to a side door and
parley long and pleasantly with a policeman. The simple local
life went on around; people going to or from supper passed me;
kind, vulgar noises came from the little houses bulging over the
narrow, neighboring streets; there seemed to be the stamping of
horses in a stable, and there was certainly the misaspirated talk
about them. I could not have asked better material for the humble
emotions I love; and I was more than content on my way home to
find myself one of the congregation at the loud devotions of a
detachment of the Salvation Army. After a battering of drums and
a clashing of cymbals and a shouting of hymns, the worship
settled to the prayer of a weak brother, who was so long in
supplication that the head exhorter covered a yawn with his hand,
and at the first sign of relenting in the supplicant bade the
drums and cymbals strike up. Then, after a hymn, a sister, such a
very plain, elderly sister, with hardly a tooth or an aitch in
her head, began to relate her religious history. It appeared that
she had been a much greater sinner than she looked, and that the
mercy shown her had been proportionate. She was vain both of her
sins and mercies, poor soul, and in her scrimp figure, with its
ill-fitting uniform, Heaven knows how long she went on. I was
distracted by a clergyman passing on the outside of the ring of
listening women and children, and looking, I chose to think,
somewhat sourly askance at the distasteful ceremonial. I wished
to stop him, on his way to the Minster, if that was his way, and
tell him that so Christianity must have begun, and so the latest
form of it must always begin and work round after ages and ages
to the beauty and respectability his own ritual has. But I now
believe this would have been the greatest impertinence and
hypocrisy, for I myself found the performance before us as
tasteless and tawdry as he could possibly have done. He was going
toward the Minster, and it would make him forget it; but I was
going away from it, perhaps, for the last time, and this loud
side-show of religion would make me forget the Minster.


Our railway hotel lay a little way out of the town, and after a
day's sight-seeing we were to meet or mingle with troops of
wholesome-looking workmen whose sturdiness and brightness were a
consolation after the pale debility of labor's looks in
Sheffield. From the chocolate-factories or the railroad-shops,
which are the chief industries of York, they would be crossing
the bridge of the Ouse, the famous stream on which the Romans had
their town, and which suggested to the Anglicans to call their
Eboracum Eurewic--a town on a river. In due time the Danes
modified this name to Yerik, and so we came honestly by the name
of our own New York, called after the old York, as soon as the
English had robbed the Dutch of it, and the King of England had
given the province to his brother the Duke of York. Both cities
are still towns on rivers, but the Ouse is no more an image or
forecast of the Hudson than Old York is of New York. For that
reason, the bridge over it is not to be compared to our Brooklyn
Bridge, or even to any bridge which is yet to span the Hudson.
The difference is so greatly in our favor that we may well yield
our city's mother the primacy in her city wall. We have ourselves
as yet no Plantagenet wall, and we have not yet got a mediaeval
gate through which the traveller passes in returning from the
Flatiron Building to his hotel in the Grand Central Station.

We do not begin to have such a hoar antiquity as is articulate in
the mother city, speaking with muted voices from the innumerable
monuments which the earth has yielded from the site of our hotel
and its adjacent railway station. All underground York is
doubtless fuller of Home than even Bath is; and it has happened
that her civilization was much more largely dug up here than
elsewhere when the foundations of the spreading edifices were
laid. The relics are mainly the witnesses of pagan Rome, but
Christianity politically began in York, as it has politically
ended in New York, and doubtless some soldiers of the Sixth
Legion and many of the British slaves were religiously Christians
in the ancient metropolis before Constantine was elected emperor

I have been in many places where history is hospitably at home
and is not merely an unwilling guest, as in our unmemoried land.
Florence is very well, Venice is not so bad, Naples has her long
thoughts, and Milan is mediaeval-minded, not to speak of Genoa,
or Marseilles, or Paris, or those romantic German towns where the
legends, if not the facts, abound; but, after all, for my
pleasure in the past, I could not choose any place before York.
You need not be so very definite in your knowledge. The event of
Constantine's presence and election is so spacious as to leave no
room for particulars in the imagination; and you are so rich in
it that you will even reject them from your thoughts, as you sit
in the close-cropped flowery lawn of your hotel garden (try to
imagine a railroad hotel garden in _New_ York!) on the
sunniest of the afternoons before you are turned out for
Doncaster Week, and, while you watch a little adventurous
American boy climbing over a pile of rock-work, realize the most
august, the most important fact in the story of the race as
native to the very air you are breathing! Where you sit you are
in full view of the Minster, which is to say in view of something
like the towers and battlements of the celestial city. Or if you
wake very early on a morning still nearer the fatal Doncaster
Week of your impending banishment, and look out of your lofty
windows at the sunrise reddening the level bars of cloud behind
the Minster, you shall find it bulked up against the pearl-gray
masses of the sunny mist which hangs in all the intervening
trees, and solidifies them in unbroken masses of foliage. All
round your hotel spreads a gridiron of railroad, yet such is the
force of the English genius for quiet that you hear no clatter of
trains; the expresses whir in and out of the station with not
more noise than humming-birds; and amid this peace the past has
some chance with modernity. The Britons dwell, unmolested by our
latter-day clamor, in their wattled huts and dugouts; the Romans
come and make them slaves and then Christians, and after three or
four hundred years send word from the Tiber to the Ouse that they
can stay no longer, and so leave them naked to their enemies, the
Picts and Scots and Saxons and Angles; and in due course come the
ravaging and burning Danes; and in due course still, the
murdering and plundering and scorning Normans. But all so
quietly, like the humming-bird-like expresses, with a kind of
railway celerity in the foreshortened retrospect; and after the
Normans have crushed themselves down into the mass of the
vanquished, and formed the English out of the blend, there follow
the many wars of the successions, of the Roses, of the Stuarts,
with all the intermediate insurrections and rebellions. In the
splendid Histories of Shakespeare, which are full of York, the
imagination visits and revisits the place, and you are entreated
by mouth of one of his princely personages,

"I pray you let us satisfy our eyes
With the memorials and things of fame,
That do renown this city,"

where his Henrys and Richards and Margarets and Edwards and
Eleanors abide still and shall forever abide while the English
speech lasts.



Something of all this I knew, and more pretended, with a mounting
indignation at the fast-coming Doncaster Week which was to turn
us out of our hotel. We began our search for other lodgings with
what seemed to be increasing failure. The failure had consolation
in it so far as the sweet regret of people whose apartments were
taken could console. They would have taken us at other hotels for
double the usual price, but, when we showed ourselves willing to
pay, it proved that they had no rooms at any price. From house to
house, then, we went, at first vaingloriously, in the spaces
about the Minster, and then meekly into any side street, wherever
the legend of Apartments showed itself in a transom. At last, the
second day, after being denied at seven successive houses, we
found quite the refuge we wanted in the Bootham, which means very
much more than the ignorant reader can imagine. Our upper rooms
looked on a pretty grassy garden space behind, where there was
sun when there was sun, and in front on the fine old brick
dwellings of a most personable street, with a sentiment of bygone
fashion. At the upper end of it was a famous city gate--Bootham
Bar, namely--with a practicable portcullis, which we verified at
an early moment by going up into "the chamber over the gate,"
where it was once worked, and whence its lower beam, set thick
with savage spikes, was dropped. Outside the gate there was a
sign in the wall saying that guards were to be had there to guide
travellers through the Forest of Galtres beyond Bootham, and keep
them from the wolves. Now woods and wolves and guards are all
gone, and Bootham Bar is never closed.

The upper room is a passageway for people who are walking round
the town on the Plantagenet wall, and one morning we took this
walk in sunshine that befitted the Sabbath. Half the children of
York seemed to be taking it, too, with their good parents, who
had stayed away from church to give them this pleasure, the
fathers putting on their frock-coats and top-hats, which are worn
on no other days in the provincial cities of England. For a
Plantagenet wall, that of York is in excellent repair, and it is
very clean, so that the children could not spoil their Sunday
best by clambering on the parapet, and trying to fall over it.
There was no parapet on the other side, and they could have
fallen over that without trouble; but it would not have served
the same purpose; for under the parapet there were the most
alluringly ragged little boys, with untidy goats and delightfully
dirty geese. There was no trace of a moat outside the wall, where
pleasant cottages pressed close to it with their gardens full of
bright flowers. At one point there were far-spreading sheep and
cattle pens, where there is a weekly market, and at another the
old Norman castle which cruel Conqueror William built to hold the
city, and which has suffered change, not unpicturesque, into
prisons for unluckier criminals, and the Assize Courts for their
condemnation. From time to time the wall left off, and then we
got down, perforce, and walked to the next piece of it. In these
pieces we made the most of the old gates, especially Walmgate
Bar, which has a barbican. I should be at a loss to say why the
barbican should have commended it so; perhaps it was because we
there realized, for the first time, what a barbican was; I doubt
if the reader knows, now. Otherwise, I should have preferred Monk
Bar or Micklegate Bar, as being more like those I was used to in
the theatre. But we came back gladly to Bootham Bar, holding that
a portcullis was equal any day to a barbican, and feeling as if
we had got home in the more familiar neighborhood.

There were small shops in the Bootham, thread-and-needle stores,
newspaper stores, and provision stores mainly, which I affected,
and there was one united florist's and fruiterer's which I
particularly liked because of the conversability of the
proprietor. He was a stout man, of a vinous complexion, with what
I should call here, where our speech is mostly uncouth, an
educated accent, though with few and wandering aspirates in it.
Him I visited every morning to buy for my breakfast one of those
Spanish melons which they have everywhere in England, and which
put our native cantaloupes to shame; and we always fell into a
little talk over our transaction of fourpence or sixpence, as the
case might be. After I had confided that I was an American, he
said one day, "Ah, the Americans are clever people." Then he
added, "I hope you won't mind my saying it, sir, but I think
their ladies are rather harder than our English ladies, sir."

"Yes," I eagerly assented. "How do you mean? Sharper? Keener?"

"Well, not just that, sir."

"More practical? More business-like?" I pursued.

"Well, I shouldn't like to say that, sir. But--they seem rather
harder, sir; at least, judging from what I see of them in York,
sir. Rather harder, sir."

We remained not the less friends with that mystery between us;
and I bought my last melon of him on my last morning, when the
early September had turned somewhat sharply chill. That turn made
me ask what the winter was in York, and he boasted it very cold,
with ice and snow aplenty, and degrees of frost much like our
own. But apparently those York women resisted it and remained of
a tenderness which contrasted to their advantage with the summer
hardness of our women.


It was a pleasure, which I should be glad to share with the
reader, to lose one's self in the streets of York. They were all
kinds of streets except straight, and they seemed not to go
anywhere except for the joke of bringing the wayfarer
unexpectedly back to, or near, his starting-point and far from
his goal. The blame of their vagariousness, if it was a fault, is
put upon the Danes, who found York when they captured it very
rectangular, for so the Romans built it, and so the Angles kept
it; but nothing would serve the Danes but to crook its streets
and call them gates, so that the real gates of the city have to
be called bars, or else the stranger might take them for streets.
If he asked another wayfarer, he could sometimes baffle the
streets, and get to the point he aimed at, but, whether he did or
not, he could always amuse himself in them; they would take a
friendly interest in him, and show him the old houses and
churches which the American stranger prefers. They abound in the
poorer sorts of buildings, of course, just as they do in the
poorer sorts of people, but in their simpler courts and squares
and expanses they have often dignified mansions of that Georgian
architecture which seems the last word in its way, and which is
known here in our older edifices as there in their newer. Some of
them are said to have "richly carved ceilings, wainscoted,
panelled rooms, chimneypieces with paintings framed in the over-
mantel, dentilled cornices, and pedimented doors," and I could
well believe it, as I passed them with an envious heart. There
were gardens behind these mansions which hung their trees over
the spiked coping of their high-shouldered walls and gates, and
sequestered I know not what damp social events in their flowery
and leafy bounds.


At times I distinctly wished to know something of the life of
York, but I was not in the way of it. The nearest to an
acquaintance I had there, besides my critical fruiterer, was the
actor whose name I recognized on his bills as that of a brave
youth who had once dramatized a novel of mine, and all too
briefly played the piece, and who was now to come to York for a
week of Shakespeare. Perhaps I could not forgive him the
recrudescence; at any rate, I did not try to see him, and there
was no other social chance for me, except as I could buy in for a
few glimpses at the tidy confectioners', where persons of civil
condition resorted for afternoon tea. Even to these one could not
speak, and I could only do my best in a little mercenary
conversation with the bookseller about York histories. The book-
stores were not on our scale, and generally the shops in York
were not of the modern department type, but were perhaps the
pleasanter for that reason.

In my earlier wanderings I made the acquaintance of a most
agreeable market-place, stretching the length of two squares,
which on a Saturday afternoon I found filled with every manner of
bank and booth and canopied counter, three deep, and humming
pleasantly with traffic in everything one could eat, drink, wear,
or read; there seemed as many book-stalls as fruit-stalls. What I
noted equally with the prettiness of the abounding flowers was
the mild kindness of the market-people's manners and their
extreme anxiety to state exactly the quality of the things they
had for sale. They seemed incapable of deceit, but I do not say
they really were so. My own transactions were confined to the
purchase of some golden-gage plums, and I advise the reader
rather to buy greengages; the other plums practised the deception
in their looks which their venders abhorred.


I wandered in a perfectly contemporary mood through the long
ranks and lanes of the marketplace, and did not know till
afterward that at one end of it, called the Pavement, the public
executions used to take place for those great or small occasions
which brought folks to the block or scaffold in the past. I had
later some ado to verify the dismal fact from a cluster of people
before a tavern who seemed to be taking bets for the Doncaster
Week, and I could hardly keep them from booking me for this horse
or that when I merely wanted to know whether it was on a certain
spot the Earl of Northumberland had his head cut off for leading
a rising against Henry IV.; or some such execution.

What riches of story has not York to browbeat withal the
storyless New-Yorker who visits her! That Henry IV. was he whom I
had lately seen triumphing near Shrewsbury in the final battle of
the Roses, where the Red was so bloodily set above the White; and
it was his poetic fancy to have Northumberland, when he bade him
come to York, pass through the gateway on which the head of his
son, Hotspur Harry, was festering. No wonder the earl led a
rising against his liege, who had first mercifully meant to
imprison him for life, and then more mercifully pardoned him. But
there seems to have been fighting up and down the centuries from
the beginning, in York, interspersed with praying and wedding and
feasting. After the citizens drove out Conqueror William's
garrison, and Earl Waltheof provided against the Normans' return
by standing at the castle gate and chopping their heads off with
his battle-axe as they came forth, William efficaciously
devastated the city and the country as far as Durham. His son
William gave it a church, and that "worthy peer," King Stephen, a
hospital. In his time the archbishop and barons of York beat the
Scotch hard by, and the next Scotch king had to do homage to
Henry II. at York for his kingdom. Henry III. married his sister
at York to one Scotch king and his daughter to that king's
successor. Edward I. and his queen Eleanor honored with their
presence the translation of St. William's bones to the Minster;
Edward II. retreated from his defeat at Bannockburn to York, and
Edward III. was often there for a king's varied occasions of
fighting and feasting. Weak Henry VI. and his wilful Margaret,
after their defeat at Towton by Edward IV., escaped from the city
just in time, and Edward entered York under his own father's head
on Micklegate Bar. Richard III. was welcomed there before his
rout and death at Bosworth, and was truly mourned by the
citizens. Henry VII. wedded Elizabeth, the "White Rose of York,"
and afterward visited her city; Mary, Queen of Scots, was once in
hiding there, and her uncouth son stayed two nights in York on
his way to be crowned James I. in London. His son, Charles I.,
was there early in his reign, and touched many for the king's
evil; later, he was there again, but could not cure the sort of
king's evil which raged past all magic in the defeat of his
followers at Marston Moor by Cromwell. The city yielded to the
Puritans, whose temperament had already rather characterized it.
James II., as Duke of York, made it his brief sojourn; "proud
Cumberland," returning from Culloden after the defeat of the
Pretender, visited the city and received its freedom for
destroying the last hope of the Stuarts; perhaps the twenty-two
rebels who were then put to death in York were executed in the
very square where those wicked men thought I was wanting to play
the horses. The reigning family has paid divers visits to the
ancient metropolis, which was the capital of Britain before
London was heard of. The old prophecy of her ultimate primacy
must make time if it is to fulfil itself and increase York's
seventy-two thousand beyond London's six million.


I should be at a loss to say why its English memories haunted my
York less than the Roman associations of the place. They form,
however, rather a clutter of incidents, whereas the few spreading
facts of Hadrian's stay, the deaths of Severus and Constantius,
and the election of Constantine, his son, enlarge themselves to
the atmospheric compass of the place, but leave a roominess in
which the fancy may more commodiously orb about. I was on terms
of more neighborly intimacy with the poor Punic emperor than with
any one else in York, doubtless because, when he fell sick, he
visited the temple of Bellona near Bootham Bar, and paid his
devotions unmolested, let us hope, by any prevision of the
misbehavior of his son Caracalla (whose baths I had long ago
visited at Rome) in killing his other son Geta. Everywhere I
could be an early Christian, in company with Constantine, in whom
the instinct of political Christianity must have begun to stir as
soon as he was chosen emperor. But I dare say I heard the muted
tramp of the Sixth Legion about the Yorkish streets above all
other martial sounds because I stayed as long as Doncaster Week
would let me in the railway hotel, which so many of their bones
made room for when the foundations of it were laid, with those of
the adherent station. Their bones seem to have been left there,
after the disturbance, but their sepulchres were respectfully
transferred to the museum of the Philosophical Society, in the
grounds where the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey rise like fragments
of pensive music or romantic verse, inviting the moonlight and
the nightingale, but, wanting these, make shift with the noonday
and the babies in perambulators neglected by nurse-girls reading

[Illustration: ST. MARY'S ABBEY]

The babies and the nurses are not allowed in the museum of
antiquities, which is richer in Roman remains than any that one
sees outside of Italy. There are floors of mosaic, large and
perfect, taken from the villas which people are always digging up
in the neighborhood of York, and, from the graves uncovered in
the railway excavations, coffins of lead and stone for civilians,
and of rude tiles for the soldiers of the Sixth Legion; the
slaves were cast into burial-pits of tens and twenties and left
to indiscriminate decay till they should be raised in the
universal incorruption. Probably the slaves were the earliest
Christians at York; certainly the monuments are pagan, as the
inmates of the tombs must have been. Some of the monuments bear
inscriptions from loving wives and husbands to the partners they
have lost, and some of the stone coffins are those of children.
It is all infinitely touching, and after two thousand years the
heart aches for the fathers and mothers who laid their little
ones away in these hard cradles for their last sleep. Faith
changes, but constant death remains the same, and life is not
very different in any age, when it comes to the end. The Roman
exiles who had come so far to hold my British ancestors in
subjection to their alien rule seemed essentially not only of the
same make as me, but the same civilization. Their votive altars
and inscriptions to other gods expressed a human piety of like
anxiety and helplessness with ours, and called to a like
irresponsive sky. A hundred witnesses of their mortal state--jars
and vases and simple household utensils--fill the shelves of the
museum; but the most awful, the most beautiful appeal of the past
is in that mass of dark auburn hair which is kept here in a
special urn and uncovered for your supreme emotion. It is equally
conjectured to be the hair of a Roman lady or of a British
princess, but is of a young girl certainly, dressed twenty
centuries ago for the tomb in which it was found, and still
faintly lucent with the fashionable unguent of the day, and kept
in form by pins of jet. One thinks of the little, slender hands
that used to put them there, and of the eyes that confronted
themselves in the silver mirror under the warm shadow that the
red-gold mass cast upon the white forehead. This sanctuary of the
past was the most interesting place in that most interesting city
of York, and the day of our first visit a princess of New York
sat reading a book in the midst of it, waiting for the rain to be
over, which was waiting for her to come out and then begin again.
We knew her from having seen her at the station in relation to
some trunks bearing her initials and those of her native city;
and she could be about the age of the York princess or young
Roman lady whose hair was kept in the urn hard by.


There is in York a little, old, old church, whose dear and
reverend name I have almost forgotten, if ever I knew it, but I
think it is Holy Trinity Goodramgate, which divides the heart of
my adoration with the Minster. We came to it quite by accident,
one of our sad September afternoons, after we had been visiting
the Guildhall, Venetianly overhanging the canal calm of the Ouse,
and very worthy to be seen for its York histories in stained
glass. The custodian had surprised us and the gentlemen of the
committee by taking us into the room where they were
investigating the claims of the registered voters to the
suffrage; and so, much entertained and instructed, we issued
forth, and, passing by the church in which Guy Fawkes was
baptized, only too ineffectually, we came quite unexpectedly upon
Holy Trinity Goodramgate, if that and not another is indeed its

It stands sequestered in a little leafy and grassy space of its
own, with a wall hardly overlooked on one side by low stone
cottages, the immemorial homes of rheumatism and influenza. The
church had the air of not knowing that it is of Perpendicular and
Decorated Gothic, with a square, high-shouldered tower, as it
bulks up to a very humble height from the turf to the boughs
overhead, or that it has a nice girl sketching its doorway, where
a few especially favored weddings and funerals may enter. It is
open once a year for service, and when the tourist will, or can,
for the sight of the time-mellowed, beautiful stained glass of
its eastward window. The oaken pews are square and high-
shouldered, like the low church tower; and, without, the soft
yellow sandstone is crumbling away from the window traceries. The
church did not look as if it felt itself a thousand years old,
and perhaps it is not; but I never was in a place where I seemed
so like a ghost of that antiquity. I had a sense of haunting it,
in the inner twilight and the outer sunlight, where a tender wind
was stirring the leaves of its embowering trees and scattering
them on the graves of my eleventh and twelfth century


We chose the sunniest morning we could for our visit to
Clifford's Tower, which remains witness of the Norman castle the
Conqueror built and rebuilt to keep the Danish-Anglian-Roman-
British town in awe. But the tower was no part of the original
castle, and only testifies of it by hearsay. That was built by
Roger de Clifford, who suffered death with his party chief, the
Earl of Lancaster, when Edward of York took the city, and it is
mainly memorable as the refuge of the Jews whom the Christians
had harried out of their homes. They had grown in numbers and
riches, when the Jew-hate of 1190 broke out in England, as from
time to time the Jew-hate breaks out in Russia now, to much the
same cruel effect. They were followed and besieged in the castle,
and, seeing that they must be captured, they set fire to the
place, and five hundred slew themselves. Some that promised to be
Christians came out and were killed by their brethren in Christ.
In New York the Christians have grown milder, and now they only
keep the Jews out of their clubs and their homes.

[Illustration: CLIFFORD'S TOWER]

The Clifford Tower leans very much to one side, so that as you
ascend it for the magnificent view from the top you have to
incline yourself the other way, as you do in the Tower of Pisa,
to help it keep its balance. The morning of our visit, so gay in
its forgetfulness of the tragical past, we found the place in
charge of an old soldier, an Irishman who had learned, as
custodian, a professional compassion for those poor Jews of nine
hundred years ago, and, being moved by our confession of our
nationality, owned to three "nevvies" in New Haven. So small is
the world and so closely knit in the ties of a common humanity
and a common citizenship, native and adoptive!

The country around York looked so beautiful from Clifford's Tower
that we would not be satisfied till we had seen it closer, and we
chose a bright, cool September afternoon for our drive out of the
town and over the breezy, high levels which surround it. The
first British capital could hardly have been more nobly placed,
and one could not help grieving that the Ouse should have
indolently lost York that early dignity by letting its channel
fill up with silt and spoil its navigation. The Thames managed
better for York's upstart rival London, and yet the Ouse is not
destitute of sea or river craft. These were of both steam and
sail, and I myself have witnessed the energy with which the
reluctance of the indolent stream is sometimes overcome. I do not
suppose that anywhere else, when the wind is low, is a vessel
madly hurled through the water at a mile an hour by means of a
rope tied to its mast and pulled by a fatherly old horse under
the intermittent drivership of two boys whom he could hardly keep
to the work. I loved the banks of a stream where one could see
such a triumph of man over nature, and where nature herself was
so captivating. All that grassy and shady neighborhood seemed a
public promenade, where on a Sunday one could see the lower
middle classes in their best and brightest, and it had for all
its own the endearing and bewitching name of Ings. Why cannot we
have Ings by the Hudson side?

* * * * *


Certainly I had not come to York, as certainly I would not have
gone anywhere, for battle-fields, but becoming gradually sensible
in that city that the battle of Marston Moor was fought a few
miles away, and my enemy Charles I. put to one of his worst
defeats there, I bought a third-class ticket and ran out to the
place one day for whatever emotion awaited me there.


At an English station you are either overwhelmed with
transportation, or you are without any except such as you were
born with, and at the station for Marston Moor I asked for a fly
in vain. But it was a most walkable afternoon, and the pleasant
road into the region which the station-master indicated as that I
was seeking invited the foot by its level stretch, sometimes
under wayside trees, but mostly between open fields, newly reaped
and still yellow with their stubble, or green with the rowen
clover. Sometimes it ran straight and sometimes it curved, but it
led so rarely near any human habitation that one would rather not
have met any tramps beside one's self on it. Presently I overtook
one, a gentle old farm-wife, a withered blonde, whom I helped
with the bundles she bore in either hand, in the hope that she
could tell me whether I was near Marston Moor or not. But she
could tell me only, what may have been of higher human interest,
that her husband had the grass farm of a hundred and fifty acres,
which we were coming to, for seventy-five pounds a year; and they
had their own cattle, sheep, and horses, and were well content
with themselves. She excused herself for not knowing more than
vaguely of the battle-field, as not having been many years in the
neighborhood; and being now come to a gate in the fields, she
thanked me and took her way up a grassy path to the pleasant
farmhouse I saw in the distance.

It must have been about this time that it rained, having shone
long enough for English weather, and it hardly held up before I
was overtaken by a friendly youth on a bicycle, whom I stayed
with the question uppermost in my mind. He promptly got off his
wheel to grapple with the problem. He was a comely young fellow,
an artisan of some sort from a neighboring town, and he knew the
country well, but he did not know where my lost battle-field was.
He was sure that it was near by: but he was sure there was no
monument to mark the spot. Then we parted friends, with many
polite expressions, and he rode on and I walked on.

For a mile and more I met no other wayfarer, and as I felt that
it was time to ask for Marston Moor again, I was very glad to be
overtaken by a gentleman driving in a dog-cart, with his pretty
young daughter on the wide seat with him. He halted at sight of
the elderly pilgrim, and hospitably asked if he could not give
him a lift, alleging that there was plenty of room. He was
interested in my search, which he was not able definitely to
promote, but he believed that if I would drive with him to his
place I could find the battle-field, and, anyhow, I could get a
trap back from the The Sun. I pleaded the heat I was in from
walking, and the danger for an old fellow of taking cold in a
drive through the cool air; and then, as old fellows do, we
bantered each other about our ages, each claiming to be older
than the other, and the kind, sweet young girl sat listening with
that tolerance of youth for the triviality of age which is so
charming. When he could do no more, he said he was sorry, and
wished me luck, and drove on; and I being by this time tired with
my three miles' tramp, took advantage of a wayside farmhouse, the
first in all the distance, and went in and asked for a cup of

The farm-wife, who came in out of her back garden to answer my
knock, pleaded regretfully that her fire was down; but she
thought I could get tea at the next house; and she was very
conversable about the battle-field. She did not know just where
it was, but she was sure it was quite a mile farther on; and at
that I gave up the hope of it along with the tea. This is partly
the reader's loss, for I have no doubt I could have been very
graphic about it if I had found it; but as for Marston Moor, I
feel pretty certain that if it ever existed it does not now. A
moor, as I understand, implies a sort of wildness, but nothing
could be more domestic than the peaceful fields between which I
had come so far, and now easily found my way back to the station.
Easily, I say, but there was one point where the road forked,
though I was sure it had not forked before, and I felt myself
confronted with some sort, any sort, of exciting adventure. By
taking myself firmly in hand, and saying, "It was yonder to the
left where I met my kind bicycler, and we vainly communed of my
evanescent battle-field," and so keeping on, I got safely to the
station with nothing more romantic in my experience than a
thrilling apprehension.


I quite forgot Marston Moor in my self-gratulation and my
recognition of the civility from every one which had so
ineffectively abetted my search. Simple and gentle, how
hospitable they had all been to my vain inquiry, and how
delicately they had forborne to visit the stranger with the irony
of the average American who is asked anything, especially
anything he does not know! I went thinking that the difference
was a difference between human nature long mellowed to its
conditions, and human nature rasped on its edges and fretted by
novel circumstances to a provisional harshness. I chose to fancy
that unhuman nature sympathized with the English mood; in the
sheep bleating from the pastures I heard the note of Wordsworth's
verse; and by the sky, hung in its low blue with rough, dusky
clouds, I was canopied as with a canvas of Constable's.

It was the more pity, then, that at the station a shooting party,
approaching from the other quarter with their servants and guns
and dogs, and their bags of hares and partridges, should have
given English life another complexion to the wanderer so willing
to see it always rose color. The gunners gained the station
platform first, and at once occupied the benches, strewing all
the vacant places with their still bleeding prey. I did not fail
of the opportunity to see in them the arrogance of class, which I
had hitherto so vainly expected, and I disabled their looks by
finding them as rude as their behavior. How different they were
from the kind bicycler, or the gentleman in the dog-cart, or
either one of the farm-wives who sorrowed so civilly not to know
where my lost battle-field was!

In England, it is always open to the passenger to enforce a claim
to his share of the public facilities, but I chose to go into the
licensed victualler's next the station and sit down to a
peaceable cup of tea rather than contest a place on that bloody
benching; and so I made the acquaintance of an interior out of
literature, such as my beloved Thomas Hardy likes to paint. On a
high-backed rectangular settle rising against the wall, and
almost meeting in front of the comfortable range, sat a company
of rustics, stuffing themselves with cold meat, washed down with
mugs of ale, and cozily talking. They gained indefinitely in my
interest from being served by a lame woman, with a rhythmical
limp, and I hope it was not for my demerit that I was served
apart in the chillier parlor, when I should have liked so much to
stay and listen to the rustic tale or talk. The parlor was very
depressingly papered, but on its walls I had the exalted company

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest