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Seven English Cities by W. D. Howells

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of his Majesty the King, their Royal Highnesses the Prince and
Princess of Wales, the late Premier, the Marquis of Salisbury,
and, for no assignable reason except a general fitness for high
society, the twelve Apostles in Da Vinci's _Last Supper_,
together with an appropriate view of York Minster.


I do not pretend this search for the battle-field of Marston Moor
was the most exciting episode of my stay in York. In fact, I
think it was much surpassed in a climax of dramatic poignancy
incident to our excursion to Bishopsthorpe, down the Ouse, on one
of the cosey little steamers which ply the stream without
unreasonably crowding it against its banks. It was a most silvery
September afternoon when we started from the quay at York, and
after escaping from embarkment on a boat going in the wrong
direction, began, with no unseemly swiftness, to scuttle down the
current. It was a perfect voyage, as perfect as any I ever made
on the Mississippi, the Ohio, the St. Lawrence, or the Hudson, on
steamers in whose cabins our little boat would have lost itself.
We had a full but not crowded company of passengers, overflowing
into a skiff at our stern, in which a father and mother, with
three women friends, preferred the high excitement of being towed
to Bishopsthorpe, where it seemed that the man of the party knew
the gardener. With each curve of the river and with each remove
we got the city in more and more charming retrospective, till
presently its roofs and walls and spires and towers were lost in
the distance, and we were left to the sylvan or pastoral
loveliness of the low shores. Here and there at a pleasant
interval from the river a villa rose against a background of
rounded tree tops, with Lombardy poplars picking themselves out
before it, but for the most part the tops of the banks, with
which we stood even on our deck, retreated from the waterside
willows in levels of meadow-land, where white and red cows were
grazing, and now and then young horses romping away from groups
of their elders. It was all dear and kind and sweet, with a sort
of mid-Western look in its softness (as the English landscape
often has), and the mud-banks were like those of my native Ohio
Valley rivers. The effect was heightened, on our return, by an
aged and virtuously poor (to all appearance) flageolet and cornet
band, playing _'Way down upon the Suwanee River_, while the
light played in "ditties no-tone" over the groves and pastures of
the shore, and the shadows stretched themselves luxuriously out
as if for a long night's sleep. There has seldom been such a day
since I began to grow old; a soft September gale ruffled and
tossed the trees finely, and a subtle Italian quality mixed with
the American richness of the sunshiny air; so that I thought we
reached Bishopsthorpe only too soon, and I woke from a pleasant
reverie to be told that the steamer could not land with us, but
we must be taken ashore in the small boat which we saw putting
out for us from its moorings. To this day I do not know why the
steamer could not land, but perhaps the small boat had a
prescriptive right in the matter. At any rate, it was vigorously
manned by a woman, who took tuppence from each of us for her
service, and presently earned it by the interest she showed in
our getting to the Archbishop's palace, or villa, the right way.


So we went round by an alluring road to its forking, where,
looking up to the left, we could see a pretty village behind
Lombardy poplars, and coming down toward us in a victoria for
their afternoon drive, two charmingly dressed ladies, with bright
parasols, and looking very county-family, as we poor Americans
imagine such things out of English fiction. We entered the
archiepiscopal grounds through a sympathetic Gothic screen, as I
will call the overture to the Gothic edifice in my defect of
architectural terminology, though perhaps gateway would be
simpler; and found ourselves in the garden, and in the company of
those people we had towed down behind our steamer. They were with
their friend, the gardener, and, claiming their acquaintance as
fellow-passengers, we made favor with him to see the house. The
housekeeper, or some understudy of hers, who received us, said
the family were away, but she let us follow her through. That is
more than I will let the reader do, for I know the duty of the
cultivated American to the intimacies of the gentle English life;
it is only with the simple life that I ever make free; there, I
own, I have no scruple. But I will say (with my back turned
conscientiously to the interior) that nothing could be lovelier
than the outlook from the dining-room, and the whole waterfront
of the house, on the wavy and willowy Ouse, and that I would
willingly be many times an archbishop to have that prospect at
all my meals.


We despatched our visit so promptly that we got back to our boat-
woman's cottage a full hour before our steamer was to call for
us. She had an afternoon fire kindled in her bright range, from
the oven of which came already the odor of agreeable baking. Upon
this hint we acted, and asked if tea were possible. It was, and
jam sandwiches as well, or if we preferred buttered tea-cake,
with or without currants, to jam sandwiches, there would be that
presently. We preferred both, and we sat down in that pleasant
parlor-kitchen, and listened, till the tea-cake came out of the
oven and was split open and buttered smoking hot, to a flow of
delightful and instructive talk. For our refection we paid
sixpence each, but for our edification we are still, and hope
ever to be, in debt. Our hostess was of a most cheerful
philosophy, such as could not be bought of most modern
philosophers for money. The flour for our tea-cakes, she said,
was a shilling fivepence a stone, "And not too much for growing
and grinding it, and all." Every week-day morning she rose at
half-past four, and got breakfast for her boys, who then rode
their bicycles, or, in the snow, walked, all the miles of our
voyage into York, where they worked in the railway shops. No,
they did not belong to any union; the railway men did not seem to
care for it; only a "benefit union."

She kept the house for her family, and herself ready to answer
every hail from the steamer; but in her mellow English content,
which was not stupid or sodden, but clever and wise, it was as if
it were she, rather than the archbishop, whose nature expressed
itself in a motto on one of the palace walls, "Blessed be the
Lord who loadeth us with blessings every day."

When the range, warming to its work, had made her kitchen-parlor
a little too hot to hold us, she hospitably suggested the river
shore as cooler, where she knew a comfortable log we could sit
on. Thither she presently followed when the steamer's whistle
sounded, and held her boat for us to get safely in. The most
nervous of our party offered the reflection, as she sculled us
out into the stream to overhaul the pausing steamer, that she
must find the ferry business very shattering to the nerves, and
she said,

"Yes, but it's nothing to a murder case I was on, once."

"Oh, what murder, what murder?" we palpitated back; and both of
us forgot the steamer, so that it almost ran us down, while our
ferrywoman began again:

"A man shot a nurse--There! Throw that line, will you?"

But he, who ought to have thrown the line for her, in his
distraction let her drop her oar and throw the line herself, and
then we scrambled aboard without hearing any more of the murder.

This is the climax I have been working up to, and I call it a
fine one; as good as a story to be continued ever ended an
instalment with.

* * * * *


The Doncaster Races lured us from our hotel at York, on the first
day, as I had dimly foreboded they would. In fact, if there had
been no lure, I might have gone in search of temptation, for in a
world where sins are apt to be ugly, a horse-race is so beautiful
that if one loves beauty he can practise an aesthetic virtue by
sinning in that sort. So I made myself a pretence of profit as
well as pleasure, and in going to Doncaster I feigned the wish
chiefly to compare its high event with that of Saratoga. I had no
association with the place save horse-racing, and having missed
Ascot and Derby Day, I took my final chance in pursuit of
knowledge--I said to myself, "Not mere amusement"--and set out
for Doncaster unburdened by the lightest fact concerning the


I learned nothing of it when there, but I have since learned,
from divers trustworthy sources, that Doncaster is the Danum of
Antoninus and the Dona Ceaster of the Saxons, and that it is not
only on the line of the Northeastern Railway, but also on that
famous Watling Street which from the earliest Saxon time has
crossed the British continent from sea to sea, and seems to
impress most of the cities north and south into a conformity with
its line, like a map of the straightest American railway routes.

Unless my ignorance has been abused, nothing remarkable has
happened at Doncaster in two thousand years, but this is itself a
distinction in that eventful England where so many things have
happened elsewhere. It is the market town of a rich farming
region, and has notable manufactures of iron and brass, of
sacking and linen, of spun flax and of agricultural machines and
implements. Otherwise, it is important only for its races, which
began there three hundred years ago, and especially for its St.
Leger Day, of which Lieutenant-General St. Leger became the
patron saint in 1778, though he really established his Day two
years earlier.

Doncaster is a mighty pleasant, friendly, rather modern, and
commonplacely American-looking town, with two-story trams gently
ambling up and down its chief avenues, in the leisurely English
fashion, and all of more or less arrival and departure at the
race-grounds. In our company the reader will have our appetites
for lunch, and if he will take his chance with us in the first
simple place away from the station, he will help us satisfy them
very wholesomely and agreeably at boards which seem festively set
up for the occasion, and spread with hot roast-beef and the plain
vegetables which accompany the national dish in its native land;
or he can have the beef cold, or have cold lamb or chicken cold.
His fellow-lunchers will be, as he may like well enough to fancy,
of somewhat lower degree than himself, but they will all seem
very respectable, and when they come out together, they will all
be equalized in the sudden excitement which has possessed itself
of the street, and lined the curbstones up and down with
spectators, their bodies bent forward, and their faces turned in
the direction of the station.


The excitement is caused by the coming of the King; and I wish
that I could present that event in just its sincere
unimpressiveness. I have assisted at several such events on the
Continent, where, especially in Germany, they are heralded as
they are in the theatre, with a blare of trumpets, and a
sensation in the populace and the attendant military little short
of an ague fit. There, as soon as the majesties mount into their
carriages from the station, they drive off as swiftly as their
horses can trot, and their subjects, who have been waiting for
hours to see them, make what they can of a meagre half-minute's
glimpse of them. But how different was the behavior of that easy-
going Majesty of England! As soon as I heard that he was coming,
I perceived how anxious I had been in the half-year of my English
sojourn to see him, and how bitterly I should have been
disappointed to leave his realms without it. All kings are bad, I
knew that well enough; but I also knew that some kings are not so
bad as others, and I had been willing to accept at their face the
golden opinions of this King, which, almost without exception,
his lieges seemed to hold. Of course it is not hard to think well
of a king if you are under him, just as it is not hard to think
ill of him if you are not under him; but there is no use being
bigotedly republican when there is nothing to be got by it, and I
own the fact that his subjects like him willingly. Probably no
man in his kingdom understands better than Edward VII. that he is
largely a form, and that the more a form he is the more
conformable he is to the English ideal of a monarch. But no
Englishman apparently knows better than he when to leave off
being a form and become a man, and he has endeared himself to his
people from time to time by such inspirations. He is reputed on
all hands to be a man of great good sense; if he is ever fooled
it is not by himself, but by the system which he is no more a
part of than the least of his subjects. If he will let a weary
old man or a delicate woman stand indefinitely before him, he is
no more to blame for that than for speaking English with a trace
of German in his _th_ sounds; he did not invent his origins
or his traditions. Personally, having had it out with life, he is
as amiable and as unceremonious as a king may be. He shares, as
far as he can, the great and little interests of his people. He
has not, so far as noted, the gifts of some of his sisters, but
he has much of his mother's steadfast wisdom, and his father's
instinct for the right side in considerable questions; and he has
his father's prescience of the psychological moment for not
bothering. Of course, he is a fetish; no Englishman can deny that
the kingship is an idolatry; but he is a fetish with an uncommon
share of the common man's divinity. The system which provides him
for the people provides them the best administration in the
world, always naturally in the hands of their superiors, social
and political; but we could be several times rottener than we
administratively are, and still be incalculably reasonabler, as
republicans, than those well-governed monarchists.


Some of us are apt to forget the immense advantage which we have
of the monarchical peoples in having cast away the very name of
King, for with the name goes the nature of royalty and all that
is under and around it. But because we are largely a fond and
silly folk, with a false conceit of ourselves and others, we like
to make up romances about the favor in which thrones,
municipalities, and powers hold us. Once it was the Tsar of
Russia who held us dear, and would do almost anything for
Americans; now it is the King of England who is supposed rather
to prefer us to his own people, and to delight to honor us. We
attribute to him a feeling which a little thought would teach, us
was wholly our own, and which would be out of nature if not out
of reason with him. He is a man of sense, and not of sentiment,
and except as a wise politician he could have no affection for a
nation whose existence denies him. He is very civil to Americans;
it is part of a constitutional king's business to be civil to
every one; but he is probably not sentimental about us; and we
need not be sentimental about him.

He looked like a man of sense, and not like a man of sentiment,
that day as he drove through the Doncaster street on his way to
the sport he loves beyond any other sport. He sat with three
other gentlemen on the sidewise seats of the trap, preceded by
outriders, which formed the simple turnout of the greatest prince
in the world. He was at the end on the right, and he showed fully
as stout as he was, in the gray suit he wore, while he lifted his
gray top-hat now and then, bowing casually, almost absently, to
the spectators fringing, not too deeply, the sidewalks. He was
very, very stout, even after many seasons of Marienbad, and after
the sufferings he had lately undergone, and he was quite like the
pictures and effigies of him, down to those on the postage-
stamps. He has a handsome face, still bearded in the midst of a
mostly clean-shaving nation, and with the white hairs prevalent
on the cheeks and temples; his head is bald atop, though hardly
from the uneasiness of wearing a crown.

It was difficult to realize him for what he was, and in the
unmilitary keeping of a few policemen, he was not of the high
histrionic presence that those German majesties were. The good-
natured crowd did not strain itself in cheering, though it seemed
to cheer cordially; and it did not stay long after the trap
tooled comfortably away. I then addressed myself to a little knot
of railway servants who lingered talking, and asked them what
some carriages were still waiting for at the door of the station,
and one of them answered with a lightness you do not expect in
England, "Oh, Lord This, and Lady That, and the Hon. Mr. I-don't-
know-what's-his-name." The others laughed at this ribald satire
of the upper classes, and I thought it safer to follow the King
to the races lest I should hear worse things of them.


The races were some miles away, and when we got to the tracks we
did not find their keeping very different from that of the
Saratoga tracks, although the crowd was both smarter and
shabbier, and it had got to the place through a town of tents and
sheds, and a population of hucksters and peddlers, giving an
effect of permanency to the festivity such as a solemnity of ours
seldom has. When we bought our tickets we found, in the
familiarity with the event expected of us, that there was no one
to show us to our places; but by dint of asking we got to the
Grand Stand, and mounted to our seats, which, when we stood up
from them, commanded a wholly satisfactory prospect of the whole

I do not know the dimensions of the Doncaster track, or how far
they exceed those of the Saratoga track. Possibly one does not do
its extent justice because there is no track at Doncaster: there
is nothing but a green turf, with a certain course railed off on
it. I hope the reader will be as much surprised as I was to
realize that the sport of horse-racing in England gets its name
of Turf from the fact that the races are run on the grass, and
not on the bare ground, as with us. We call the sport the Turf,
too, but that is because in this, as in so many other things, we
lack incentive and invention, and are fondly colonial and
imitative; we ought to call it the Dirt, for that is what it is
with us. As a spectacle, the racing lacks the definition in
England which our course gives, and when it began, I missed the
relief into which our track throws the bird-like sweep of the
horses as they skim the naked earth in the distance.

I missed also the superfluity of jockeying which delays and
enhances the thrill of the start with us, and I thought the
English were not so scrupulous about an even start as we are.
But, above all, I missed the shining faces and the gleaming eyes
of the black jockeys, who lend so much gayety to our scene, where
they seem born to it, if not of it. The crowd thickened in
English bloom and bulk, which is always fine to see, and bubbled
over with the babble of multitudinous voices, crossed with the
shouts of the book-makers. Having failed to enter any bets with
the book-makers of The Pavement in York, I did not care to make
them here. With all my passion for racing, I never know or care
which horse wins; but I tried to enter into the joy of a
diffident young fellow near me at the Grand Stand rail, who was
so proud of having guessed as winner the horse next to the winner
at the first race; it was coming pretty close. By the end of the
third or how far they exceed those of the Saratoga track.
Possibly one does not do its extent justice because there is no
track at Doncaster: there is nothing but a green turf, with a
certain course railed off on it. I hope the reader will be as
much surprised as I was to realize that the sport of horse-racing
in England gets its name of Turf from the fact that the races are
run on the grass, and not on the bare ground, as with us. We call
the sport the Turf, too, but that is because in this, as in so
many other things, we lack incentive and invention, and are
fondly colonial and imitative; we ought to call it the Dirt, for
that is what it is with us. As a spectacle, the racing lacks the
definition in England which our course gives, and when it began,
I missed the relief into which our track throws the bird-like
sweep of the horses as they skim the naked earth in the distance.

I missed also the superfluity of jockeying which delays and
enhances the thrill of the start with us, and I thought the
English were not so scrupulous about an even start as we are.
But, above all, I missed the shining faces and the gleaming eyes
of the black jockeys, who lend so much gayety to our scene, where
they seem born to it, if not of it. The crowd thickened in
English bloom and bulk, which is always fine to see, and bubbled
over with the babble of multitudinous voices, crossed with the
shouts of the book-makers. Having failed to enter any bets with
the book-makers of The Pavement in York, I did not care to make
them here. With all my passion for racing, I never know or care
which horse wins; but I tried to enter into the joy of a
diffident young fellow near me at the Grand Stand rail, who was
so proud of having guessed as winner the horse next to the winner
at the first race; it was coming pretty close. By the end of the
third race he had softened into something like confidence toward
me; certainly into conversability; such was the effect of my
being a dead-game sport, or looking it. But how account for the
trustfulness of the young woman on my other hand who wore her
gold watch outside her dress, and who turned to the elderly
stranger for sympathy in a certain supreme moment? This was when
the crowd below crumpled suddenly together like the crushing of
paper and the sense of something tragically mysterious in the
distance clarified itself as the death of one of the horses. It
had dropped from heart-break in its tracks, as if shot, and
presently a string of young men and boys came dragging to some
_spoliarium_ the long, slender body of the pretty creature
over the turf which its hoofs had beaten a moment before. Then it
was that the girl, with the watch on her breast, turned and
asked, "Isn't it sad?"

[Illustration: FINCHALE PRIORY]


She was probably not the daughter of a hundred earls, but there
must have been some such far-descended fair among the ladies who
showed themselves from time to time in the royal paddock across a
little space from our Grand Stand. The enclosure has no doubt a
more technical name, which I would call it by if I knew it, for I
do not wish to be irreverent; but paddock is very sporty, and it
must serve my occasion. The King never showed himself there at
all, though much craned round for and eagerly expected. But
ladies and gentlemen moved about in the close, and stood and
talked together; very tall people, very easily straight and well
set up, very handsome, and very amiable-looking; they may have
been really kind and good, or they may have looked so to please
the King and keep his spirits up. I did not then, but I do now,
realize that these were courtiers, such as one has always read
of, and were of very historical quality in their attendance on
the monarch. I trust it will not take from the dignity of the
fact if I note that several of the courtiers wore derby hats, and
one was in a sack coat and a topper. I am not sure what the
fairer reader will think if I tell that one of the ladies had on
a dress with a white body and crimson skirt and sleeves, and a
vast black picture-hat, and wore it with a charming air of

The weather, in the excitement of the races, had not known
whether it was raining or not, but we feared its absent-
mindedness, and at the end of the third race we went away. It is
not well to trust an English day too far; this had begun with
brilliant sunshine, but it dimmed as it wore on, and we could not
know that it was keeping for us the surprise of a very refined
sunset. My memory does not serve as to just how we had got out to
the race-ground; I think, from our being set down at the very
gate, that it was by hansom or by fly; but now we promised
ourselves to walk back to town. We did not actually do so; we
went back most of the way by tram; but we were the firmer about
walking at the outset, because we presently found ourselves in a
lane of gypsy tents, where there was an alluring sight and smell
of frying fish and potatoes. In the midst of the refection, you
could have your fortune told, very favorably, for a very little
money. All up and down this happy avenue there went girls of
several dozen sizes and ages, crying a particular kind of taffy,
proper to the day and place, and never to be had on any other day
in any other place.

We had an hour before train-time, and we thought we would go and
see the Parish Church of Doncaster, which we had read was worth
seeing. Our belief was confirmed by a group of disappointed
ladies in the churchyard, who said it was a most beautiful church
inside, but that they had not seen it because it was shut. We
proved the fact by trying the door, and then we came away
consoling ourselves with the scoff that it was probably closed
for the races. At the bookseller's, where we stopped to buy some
photographs of the interior of the church we had not seen, we
lamented our disappointment, and the salesman said, "Perhaps it
was closed for the races." So our joke seemed to turn earnest,
and on reflection it did not surprise us in that England of
close-knit unities where people and prince are of one texture in
their pleasures and devotions, and the Church is hardly more
national than the Turf.


At Durham, which was my next excursion from York, I cannot claim,
therefore, that my mission was more serious because it almost
solely concerned the Church, or that it was more frivolous at
Doncaster, where it almost solely concerned the Turf. My train
started in a fine mist that turned to sun, but not before it had
shown me with the local color, which a gray light lends
everything, a pack of hounds crossing a field near the track with
two huntsmen at their heels. They were not chasing, but running
leisurely, and with their flower-like, loose spread over the
green, and the pink-coated hunters on their brown mounts, they
afforded a picture as vivid and of as perfect semblance to all my
visions of fox-hunting as I could have asked. I had been hoping
that I might see something of the famous sport, almost as English
as the Church or the Turf, and there, suddenly and all
unexpectedly, the sight fully and satisfyingly was. Now, indeed,
I felt that my impression of English society was complete, and
that I might go home and write novels of English high life, and
do something to redeem myself a little from the disgrace I had
fallen into with my fellow-plebeians by always writing of common
Americans, like themselves, and never _grandes dames_ or
ideal persons, or people in the best society.

But I did not want to go home at once, or turn back from going to
Durham through that pleasant landscape, where the mist hung
between the trees which seemed themselves only heavier bulks of
mist. The wheat in some of the fields was still uncut, and in
others, where it had been gathered into sheaves, the rooks by
hundreds were noisily gleaning in the track of the reapers. From
this conventionally English keeping, I passed suddenly to the
sight of the gaunt, dry, gravelly bed of a wide river, such as I
had known in Central Italy, or the Middle West at home; and I
realized once again that England is no island of one simple
complexion, but is a condensed continent, with all continental
varieties of feature in it. You must cover thousands and
thousands of miles in our tedious lengths and breadths for the
beauties and sublimities of scenery which you shall gather from
fewer hundreds in England; I have no doubt they have even
volcanoes there, but I did not see any, probably because the
English are so reticent, and hate to make a display of any sort.


It is because they are so, or possibly because of my ignorance,
that I did not know or at all imagine how magnificent the
Cathedral of Durham is, or what a matchless seat it has on the
bluffs of the river, with depths of woods below its front,
tossing in the rich chill of the September wind. As it takes
flight for the heavens, to which its business is to invite the
thought, it seems to carry the earth with it, for if you climb
those noble heights, you find your feet still on the ground, in a
most stately space of open level between the cathedral and its
neighbor castle, which alone could be worthy of its high company.

The castle is Tudor, but the cathedral is beyond all other
English cathedrals, I believe, Norman, though to the naked eye it
looks so Gothic, and probably is. Here I will leave the reader
with any pictures or memories of it which he happens to have, for
I have always held it a sin to try describing architecture, or if
not a sin, a bore. What chiefly remains to me of my impression of
Durham Cathedral is, strangely enough, an objection: I did not
like those decorated pillars, alternating with the clustered
columns of the interior, and I do not suppose I ever shall: the
spiral furrows, the zigzag and lozenge figures chiselled in their
surfaces, weakened them to the eye and seemed to trifle with
their proud bulk.

But to the castle of Durham I have no objection whatever. I
should like to live in it, as I should in all other Tudor houses,
great or small, that I saw, where, as I am constantly saying, a
high ideal of comfort is realized. It is almost as nobly placed
as the cathedral, and it is approached by a very stately court-
yard, of like spacious effect with the cathedral piazza. Inside
it there is a kitchen of the sixteenth century, with a company of
neat serving-maids, too comely and young to be, perhaps, of the
same period, that gives the tourist a high sense of the luxury in
which the Bishop of Durham and the Judges of the Assize Courts
live when they are residents in the castle. One sees their
apartments, dim and rich, and darkly furnished, but not gloomily,
both where they sleep and where they eat, and flatteringly envies
them in a willingness for the moment to be a judge or a bishop
for the sake of such a fit setting. There is also a fine crypt,
with a fine dining-hall and a black staircase of ancient oak, and
a gallery with classic busts, and other pictures worthy of
wonder, let alone a history from the time of William the
Conqueror, who first fancied a castle where it stands, down to
the present day. The memory of such successive guests as the
Empress Matilda and Henry II. her son, King John, Henry III.,
Edwards I., II., and III., Queen Philippa, Henry VI., and James
I., and Charles I., and Edward VII., abides in the guidebook, and
may be summoned from its page to the chambers of the beautiful
old place by any traveller intending impressions for literary use
from a medieval environment in perfect repair.


One must be hard to satisfy if one is not satisfied with Durham
Castle, and its interior contented me as fully as the exterior of
the Cathedral. I went a walk, after leaving the castle, for a
further feast of the Cathedral from the paths along the shelving
banks of the beautiful Weare. There, at a certain point, I met a
studious-looking gentleman who I am sure must have been a
professor of Durham University hard by; and I asked him, with due
entreaty for pardon, "What river was that." He quelled the
surprise he must have felt at my ignorance and answered gently,
"The Weare." "Ah, to be sure! The Weare," I said, and thanked
him, and longed for more talk with him, but felt myself so
unworthy that I had not the face to prompt him further. He
passed, and then I met a man much more of my own kind, if not
probably so little informed. That rich, chill gale was still
tossing and buffeting the tree tops, and he made occasion of this
to say, "This is a cold wynd a-blowin', Mister." "It is, rather,"
I assented. "I was think-in'," he observed from an apparent
generalization, "that I wished I was at home." Then he suddenly
added, "Help a poor man!" I was not wholly surprised at the
climax, and I offered him, provisionally, a penny. "Will that
do?" He hesitated perceptibly; then he allowed, with a subtle
reluctance, "Yes, that'll do," and so passed on to satisfy, I
hope, the wish he thought he had.


I pursued my own course, as far as the bridge which spans the
Weare near a most picturesque mill, and then I stopped a kindly-
looking workman and asked him whether he thought I could find a
fly or cab anywhere near that would take me into the town. He
answered, briefly but consistently with his looks, "Ah doot," and
as he owned that it was a long way to town, I let his doubt
decide me to go back to the station.

I felt that I ought to have driven from there into the town, and
seen it, and taken to York a later train than the one I had in
mind. In the depravity induced by my neglect of this plain duty,
I went, with my third class return ticket conscious in my pocket,
into the first class refreshment room, and had tea there, as if I
had been gentry at the very least, and possibly nobility. Then,
having a good deal of time still on my hands, I loitered over the
book-stall of the station, and stole a passage of conversation
with a kindly clergyman whom I found looking at the pretty
shilling editions filling the cases. I said, How nice it was to
have Hazlitt in that green cloth; and he said, Yes, but he held
for Gibbon in leather; and just then his train came in and he ran
off to it, and left me to my guilt in not having gone to see
Durham. It was now twilight, and too late; but there the charming
old town still is, and will long remain, I hope, with its many
memories of war and peace, for whoever will visit it. Certainly
there had been no lack of adventures in my ample hour. It was as
charming to weave my conjectures, about the two gentlemen with
whom I had so barely spoken, as to have carried my acquaintance
with them further, and I cannot see how it would have profited me
to know more even of that fellow-man who, in the cold wynd a-
blowing, had just been thinking he wished he was at home.

* * * * *


It was fit that on our way to Boston we should pause in passing
through Cambridge. That was quite as we should have done at home,
and I can only wish now that we had paused longer, though every
moment that kept us from Boston, if it had been anywhere but in
England, would have been a loss. There, it was all gain, and all
joy, the gay September 24th that we went this divine journey. My
companion was that companionable archaeologist who had guided my
steps in search of the American origins in London, and who was
now to help me follow the Pilgrim Fathers over the ground where
they sojourned when they were only the Pilgrim Sons. At divers
places on the way, after we left London, he pointed out some
scene associated with American saints or heroes. We traversed the
region that George William Curtis' people came from, hard by
Roxburgh, and Eliot's, the Apostle to the Indians; again we
skirted the Ralph Waldo Emerson country, with its big market town
of Bishop's Stortford; and beyond Ely, where we stopped for the
Cathedral and a luncheon, not unworthy of it, at the station, he
startled me from a pleasant drowse I had fallen into in our
railway carriage, with the cry: "There! That is where Captain
John Smith was born." "Where? Where?" I implored too late,
looking round the compartment everywhere. "Back where those
chickens were."


That was the nearest I came to seeing one of the most famous
Virginian origins. But you cannot see everything in England;
there are too many things; and if the truth must be known I cared
more for the natural features than the historical facts of the
landscape. The country was flat, and a raw green, as it should be
in that raw air, under that dun sky, with sheep hardily biting
the short tough pasturage under the imbrowning oaks and elms, and
the olive-graying willows, beside the full, still streams scarce
wetter than the ground they dreamed through.

We did not reach Boston until six o'clock, when the day was
already waning, and the Stump of St. Botolph's Church stood dim
against the sky. It was a long drive through the suburban streets
from the station to the hotel, which we found full, and which
with its crazy floors touched the fancy as full of something
besides guests. But it was well for us so, because across the
market-place, which forms the chief public square of Boston, was
a far better hotel, where we were welcomed to the old-fashioned
ideal of the English inn, such as I did not so nearly realize
anywhere else. The ideal was a little impaired by the electric
light in our bedrooms, but it was not a very brilliant electric
light, and there was a damp cold in the corridors which allowed
no doubt of its genuineness. In the dining-room, which was also
the reading-room, there was an admirable image of a fire in the
grate, and a prevailing warmth and brightness which cheered the
heart of exile. When we presently had dinner, specialized for us
by certain differences from that of two other travellers, there
seemed nothing more to ask, except the conversation of our
companions, and this we duly had, quite as if we were four
wayfarers met there in a book. One of these gentlemen proved a
solicitor from Bath, and that made me feel more at home, knowing
and loving Bath as I did. It did not matter that in trying for
some mutual acquaintance there we failed; our good-will was
everything; and the solicitor was intelligent and agreeable. The
other gentleman, tall, dark, of urbane stateliness, was something
more, in the touch of Oriental suavity which, more than his nose,
betrayed him; and it appeared, in delightful suggestion of the
old-time commercial intimacy of the Dutch and English coasts,
that he was from Holland, and next morning at breakfast he
developed a large valise, which I now think held samples. If he
was a Dutch Jew, he was probably a Spanish Jew by descent, and
what will the difficult reader have more, in the materials for
his romance? Did we gather about the grate after we had done
dinner, and each tell the story of his life, or at least the most
remarkable thing that had ever happened to him?


I cannot say, but I remember that my friend and I, in my instant
hunger for Boston, which was greater than my hunger for dinner,
set forth while the meal was preparing, and visited the Church of
St. Botolph. To reach it we had to pass through the greater
length of the market-place, one of the most picturesque in
England, and the worthy ancestress of Faneuil Hall and Quincy
market-places, which are the most picturesque in America. At one
side of its triangle is the birthplace and dwelling of Jean
Ingelow, and at the point nearest the church is the statue of
Herbert Ingram, the less famous but more locally recognized
Bostonian, who founded the _Illustrated London News_ with
the money he made by the invention and sale of Old Parr's Pills.
He was thrice sent to Parliament from his native town, and he
related it to America, after two centuries, by drowning in Lake
Michigan. "R. N.," the otherwise anonymous author of a very
intelligent and agreeable _Handbook of Boston_, relates that
in his first canvass for Parliament Ingram was opposed by a
gentleman who, when he asked the voices of the voters, after the
old English fashion, was told by four of them in succession that
they were promised "to their cousin Ingram," and who thereupon
declared that if he had known Ingram "was cousin to the whole
town" he would, never have stood against him. Like the Bostonians
of Massachusetts, the Bostonians of Lincolnshire were in fact
closely knit together by ties of kinship, owing, "R. N."
believes, to the isolation of Boston before the draining of its
fens, and not to their conviction that there were no outsiders
worthy to mate with them.


The house where the martyrologist John Fox first saw the light
was replaced long ago by a famous old inn, pulled down in its
turn; but the many and many Americans who visit Boston may still
visit the house where Jean Ingelow was born. Whether they may see
more than the outside of it I do not know from experiment or even
inquiry. "R. N." will say nothing of her but that she was born,
and that her father was a banker; perhaps he thinks that she has
spoken sufficiently for herself.


The air of the market-place, as we crossed to the church, was of
a pleasant bleakness, and the Witham was coldly washing under the
wall which keeps St. Botolph from it. In the dimness we could
have only a conjecture of the church's outward beauty, and of the
grandeur of the tower climbing into the evening, where it has
hailed so many myriads of moving ships, and beckoned them to
safety. But within, where it was already night, the church was
cheerfully luminous with Welsbach lights, which showed it all
wreathed and garlanded for a harvest festival, began the day
before, and to be concluded now with some fit religious
observance. The blossoms and leaves were a little wilted and
withered, but the fruits and vegetables were there in sturdy
endurance, and together they swathed the pulpit from which John
Cotton used to preach, and all but hid its structure from view,
like flowers of rhetoric softening some hard doctrine.

Apparently, however, Cotton's doctrine was not anywise too hard,
or even hard enough, for such "a factious people, who were imbued
with the Puritan spirit," as he found in Boston, when he was
first elected vicar of St. Botolph's; and it was not till
Archbishop Laud's ecclesiastical tyrannies began that he came to
see "the Sin of Conformity" and to preach resistance. His
conflict with the authorities went so far that exile to another
Boston in another hemisphere became his only hope. Or, as Lord
Dorset intimated, "if he had been guilty of drunkenness,
uncleanness, or any lesser fault, he could have obtained his
pardon, but as he was guilty of Puritanism, and Non-conformity,
the crime was non-pardonable; and therefore he advised him to
flee for his safety."

The Cotton Chapel, so called, was restored mainly with moneys
received from Cotton's posterity, lineal or lateral, in his city
of refuge overseas, and "the corbels that support the timbered
ceiling are carved with the arms of certain of the early
colonists of New England." Edward Everett, one of Cotton's
descendants, wrote the dedicatory inscription in Latin, which "R.
N." has Englished in verse, and I am the more scrupulous to quote
it, because, as I must own with my usual reluctant honesty, I
quite missed seeing the Cotton Chapel.

That here John Cotton's memory may survive
Where for so long he labored when alive,
In James' reign and Charles', ere it ceased--
A grave, skilled, learned, earnest parish-priest;
Till from the strife that tossed the Church of God
He in a new world sought a new abode,
To a new England, a new Boston came,
(That took, to honor him, that reverend name)
Fed the first flock of Christ that gathered there--
Till death deprived it of its shepherd's care--
There well resolved all doubts of mind perplext,
Whether with cares of this world or the next;
Two centuries five lustra from the year
That saw the exile leave his labors here,
His family, his townsmen, with delight--
(Whom to the task their English kin invite)--
To the fair fane he served so well of yore,
His name, in two worlds honored, thus restore,
This chapel renovate, this tablet place,
In this, the year of man's recovered Grace,


I missed most of the other memorable things in the church that
night, but I saw fleetingly some of the beautiful tombs for which
it is famous; the effigies of the dead lay in their niches,
quietly, as if already tucked away for the night, in the secular
sleep of the dust beneath. The tombs were more famous than they,
and more beautiful, if the faces of some were true likenesses,
but after so many centuries one ought not to require even women
to be pretty.

[Illustration: THE RIVER AT EVENING]

We had not begun to have enough of Boston yet, and after dinner
we went a long walk up the Witham, away from the parapet before
the church, under which its deep tides are always washing to and
fro. In the dimness, after we had got a little to the outskirts
of the town, there seemed shipyards along the river's course, but
at one place there was a large building brilliantly lighted,
which from certain effects at the windows we decided to be a
printing-office on the scale of those in and near our own Boston.
What was our shame and grief the next morning to find it was a
cigar factory, and to learn that cigar and cigarette making was
almost the chief industry of the mother Boston. There are really
two large tobacco factories there running overtime, and always
advertising for more women and girls to do their work; and in our
Boston, not so long ago, smoking in the street was forbidden!
Such are the ironies of life.

What the shipyards had turned into by daylight, I do not now
remember. The Witham had turned into a long, deep gash, cut down
into the clay twenty feet from the level of the flood tides. We
crossed on a penny ferry which the current pushed over in the
manner of the earliest ferries, near the tobacco factory, and
came back into the heart of the town through streets of low stone
houses, with few buildings of note to dignify their course. Small
craft lay along the steep muddy shores, and at one place a little
excursion steamer was waiting for the tide to come in and float
it for the fulfilment of its promise of sailing at ten o'clock.
We idly longed to make its voyage with it, and if the chance were
offering now, I certainly should not forego it as I did then. But
when you are in a foreign place, no matter how much you have
travelled and how well you know that it will not offer soon
again, you reject the most smiling chance because you think you
can take it any time.

The morning was soft and warm, with a sun shining amiably on the
rather commonplace old town. I had risen betimes that I might go
and get a Spanish melon for my breakfast, but at eight o'clock I
found the fruiterer's locked and barred against me. I lingered
and hungered for the melons which I saw in his window, and then I
tried other fruiterers, but none of them was stirring yet. I
reflected how different it would have been in our own Boston; and
if it had not been for the market people coming into the square
and beginning to dress their stalls with vegetables, and fish,
and native fruits, such as hard pears and knotty apples, I do not
know how ill I might have come away thinking of that idle mother
Boston. In other squares there were cattle for sale later, and
fish, but I cannot in even my present leniency claim that the
markets were open at the hour which the genteeler commerce of the
place found so indiscreet. They were irregular spaces of a form
in keeping with the general shambling and shapeless character of
the town, which, once for all, I must own was not an impressive

The best thing in it, and the thing you are always coming back
to, is the beautiful church, to which we paid a second visit
early in the forenoon. We found it where we left it the night
before, lifting its tower from the brink of the Witham, and
looking far out over the flat land to a sea no flatter. The land
seems indeed, like so much English coast, merely the sea come
ashore, and turned into fens for the greater convenience of the
fishermen, whom, with the deeper sea sailors, we saw about the
town, lounging through the crooked streets, and hanging bare-
armed upon the parapets of the bridges. Now we found the church
had about its foot a population of Bostonians for whom, under
their flat gravestones, it had been chiming the quarters from its
mellow-throated bells, while the Bostonians on our side had been
hustling for liberty, and money, and culture, and all the good
things of this world, and getting them in a measure that would
astonish their namesakes. Within the church we saw again the
beautiful tombs of the night before, and others like them, and
again we saw the pulpit of John Cotton, which we could make out a
little better than at first, because its garlands were a little
more withered and shrunken away. But better than either we
realized the perfection of the church interior as a whole, so
ample, so simple, such a comfortable and just sufficient eyeful.


From other interests in St. Botolph's you somehow keep always, or
finally, coming to the Stump, as the tower is called somewhat in
the humor of our Boston. It is not so fair within as without;
that could not be in the nature of things; and yet the interior
of the tower has a claim upon the spectator's wonder, if not his
admiration, which, so far as I know, the interior of no other
tower has. It is all treated as a loftier room of the church, and
its ceiling, a hundred and fifty feet from the ground, is
elaborately and allegorically groined. The work was done when the
whole church was restored about half a century ago, and has not
the claim of medieval whim upon the fancy. Not so much pleasure
as he might wish mingles with the marvel of the beholder, who
carries a crick in the neck away from the sight, and yet once,
but not more, in a way, it is worth while to have had the sight.
Certainly this treatment of the tower is unique; there is nothing
to compare with it in Boston, Massachusetts, and cannot be even
when the interior of the Old South is groined.

When we came out of the church, we found the weather amusing
itself as usual in England, raining with wind, then blowing
without rain, and presently, but by no means decisively, sunning
without either wind or rain. The conditions were favorable to a
further exploration of the town, which seemed to have a passion
for old cannon, and for sticking them about in all sorts of odd
nooks and corners. We found one smaller piece over a gateway,
which we were forbidden by a sign-board to enter on pain of
prosecution for trespassing. There was nothing else to prevent
our entering, and we went in, to find ourselves in an alley with
nothing but a Gypsy van in it. Nothing but a Gypsy van! As if
that were not the potentiality of all manner of wild romance!
Whether the alley belonged to Gypsies, or the Gypsies had
trespassed by leaving their van in it, I shall now probably never
know, but I commend the inquiry to any reader of mine whom these
pages shall inspire to repeat our pilgrimage.


There was no great token of genteel life in Boston, so far as we
saw it, but perhaps we did not look in the right places. There
were good shops, but not fine or large ones, and I am able to
report of the intellectual status that there are three weekly
newspapers, but no dailies, which could not be the case in any
American town of fourteen thousand people. Concerning society, I
can only say that in our wanderings we came at one point on a
vast, high-walled, iron-gated garden, which looked as if it might
have society beyond it, but not being positively forbidden we did
not penetrate it. We did indeed visit the ancient grammar-school,
one of those foundations which in England were meant originally
for the poor deserving of scholarship, but which have nearly all
lapsed to the more deserving rich, careful of the contamination
of the lower classes. Being out of term the school was closed to
its pupils, but we found a contractor there removing the old
stoves and putting in a system of hot-water heating, which he
said was better fitted to resist the cold of the Boston winters.
He was not a very conversable man, but so much we screwed out of
him, with the added fact that the tuition of that school was no
longer free. It came to some five guineas a year, no great sum,
but perhaps sufficient to keep the school, with the other
influences, select enough for the patronage to which it had
fallen. It was a pleasant place, with a playground before it,
which in the course of generations there must have been a good
deal of schoolboy fun got out of.


There remained for us now only the Guildhall to visit, and we had
left that to the last because it was the thing that had mostly
brought us to Boston. It was the scene of the trial and
imprisonment of those poor people of the region roundabout who
were trying to escape from their "dread lord," James the First,
and were arrested for this crime, and brought to answer for it
before the magistrates of the town. Their dread lord had then
lately met some ministers of their faith at Hampton Court, and
there browbeaten, if not beaten, them in argument, so that he was
in no humor to let, these people, who afterward became the
Pilgrim Fathers, get away to Holland, where there was no dread
lord, or at least none of King James' thinking.

But no words can be so good to tell of all this as the words of
Governor Bradford in his _Historie of Plymouth Plantation_,
where he says that "ther was a large companie of them purposed to
get passage at Boston in Lincolnshire, and for that end had
hired a shipe wholy to them selves, & made agreement with the
maister to be ready at a certaine day, and take them and their
goods in, at a conveniente place, wher they accordingly would all
attende in readiness. So after long waiting, & large expences,
though he kepte not day with them, yet he came at length & tooke
them in, in the night. But when he had them & their goods abord,
he betrayed them, haveing before hand complotted with the
serchers & other officers so to doe; who tooke them, and put them
into open boats, & ther rifled and ransaked them, searching them
to their shirts for money, yea even the women furder then became
modestie; and then caried them back into the towne, & made them a
spectakle & wonder to the multitude, which came flocking on all
sides to behould them. Being thus first, by the catchpoule
officer, rifled, & stripte of their money, books, and much other
goods, they were presented to the magistrates, and messengers
sente to informe the lords of the Counsell of them; and so they
were comited to ward. Indeed the magistrats used them
courteously, and shewed them what favour they could; but could
not deliver them till order came from the Counsell-table. But the
issue was that after a months imprisonmente, the greatest parte
were dismiste, & sent to the places from whence they came; but 7.
of the principall were still kept in prison, and bound over to
the Assises."

My excellent "R. N." of the _Handbook of Boston_ is anxious
to have his reader, as I in turn am anxious to have mine,
distinguish between these future Pilgrim Fathers and the
gentlemen and scholars who later founded Boston in Massachusetts
Bay, and called its name after that of the town they had dwelt in
or often visited before they left the handsome keeping of the
gentler life of Lincolnshire. Such were Richard Bellingham,
Edmund Quincy, Thomas Leverett, John Cotton, Samuel Whiting, and
others, known to our colonial and national history. Not even
Bradford or Brewster, afterward dignified figures in Plymouth
colony, were of the humble band, men, women, and children, that
the officers of Boston took from their vessel. "Pathetic but
splendid figures," my brave "R. N." calls them, and he tells how,
after a month's jail, they were "sent home broken men, to endure
the scoffs of their neighbors and the rigors of ecclesiastical


The dungeons which remain to witness of their hardships in Boston
are of thick-walled, iron-grated stone, and the captives were fed
on bread and water within smell of the roasting and broiling of
the Guildhall kitchens immediately beside them. I will not
conjecture with "R. N." that they were put there "by a refinement
of cruelty," so that they might suffer the more in that vicinage.
"The magistrates" who had "used them courteously and shewed them
what favour they could," would not have willed that; but perhaps
"the Counsell-table" did; and it was certainly a hardship that
the dungeons and the kitchens were so close together, as any man
may see at this day. Neither the dungeons nor the kitchens are
any longer used; the spits and grates are rusted where the fires
blazed, and the cells where the Pilgrims suffered are now full of
large earthen jars. For no other or better reason, the large open
spaces of the basement outside of them were scattered about with
agricultural implements, ploughs, harrows, and the like. It was
the belief of my companion, founded on I know not what fact, that
the hall in which the Pilgrims were tried was a large upper
chamber which we found occupied by a boys' school. The door stood
partly ajar, and we could see the master within walking up and
down before some twenty boys, as if waiting for one of them to
answer some question he had put them. Perhaps it was a question
of local history, for none of them seemed able to answer it;
presently when a boy came out on some errand, and we stopped him,
and asked him where it was the Pilgrims had been tried, he did
not know, and apparently he had never heard of the Pilgrims. He
was a very nice-looking boy, and otherwise not unintelligent;
certainly he was well-mannered, as nice-looking English boys are
apt to be with their elders; perhaps he had heard too much of the
Pilgrims, and had purposely forgotten them. This might very well
have happened in a place like Boston where such hordes of
Americans are coming every year, and asking so many hard
questions concerning an incident of local history not wholly
creditable to the place. He could justly have said that the same
or worse might have happened to the Pilgrims anywhere else in
England, under the dread lord there then was, and in fact
something of the same hardship did befall them afterward at the
place a little northeast of Boston, which we were now to visit
for their piteous sake.

"The nexte spring after," as Bradford continues the narrative of
their sorrows, "ther was another attempte made by some of these &
others, to get over at an other place. And so it fell out, that
they light of a Dutchman at Hull, having a ship of his owne
belonging to Zealand; they made agreements with him, and
acquainted him with their condition, hoping to find more
faithfullnes in him, then in the former of their owne nation. He
bad them not fear, for he would doe well enough. He was by
appointment to take them in betweene Grimsbe & Hull, where was a
large comone a good way distante from any towne. Now against the
prefixed time, the women & children, with the goods, were sent to
the place in a small barke, which they had hired for that end;
and the men were to meete them by land. But it so fell out, that
they were ther a day before the shipe came, and the sea being
rough, and the women very sicke, prevailed with the seamen to put
into a creeke hardby, wher they lay on ground at lowwater. The
nexte morning the shipe came, but they were fast, & could not
stir till about noone. In the mean time, the shipe maister,
perceiveing how the matter was, sente his boate to be getting the
men abord whom he saw ready, walking aboute the shore. But after
the first boat full was gott abord, & she was ready to goe for
more, the Mr. espied a greate company, both horse & foote, with
bills, & gunes, & other weapons; for the countrie was raised to
take them. The Dutchman seeing this swore his countries oath,
'sacremente,' and having the wind faire, waiged his Ancor, hoysed
sayles, & away. But the poore men which were gott abord, were in
great distress for their wives and children, which they saw thus
to be taken, and were left destitute of their helps; and them
selves also, not having a cloath to shifte them with, more then
they had on their baks, & some scarce a peney aboute them, all
they had being abord the barke. It drew tears from their eyes,
and any thing they had they would have given to have been a shore
againe; but all in vaine, ther was no remedy, they must thus
sadly part. The rest of the men there were in greatest danger,
made shift to escape away before the troope could surprise them:
those only staying that best might, to be assistante unto the
women. But pitifull it was to see the heavie case of these poore
women in this distress: what weeping & crying on every side, some
for their husbands, that were carried away in the ship as is
before related; others not knowing what should become of them, &
their little ones; others again melted in teares, seeing their
poore little ones hanging aboute them, crying for feare, and
quaking with could. Being thus aprehanded, they hurried from one
place to another, and from one justice to another, till in the
ende they knew not what to doe with them; for to imprison so many
women & innocent children for no other cause (many of them) but
that they must goo with their husbands, seemed to be unreasonable
and all would crie out of them; and to send them home againe was
as difficult, for they aleged, as the trueth was, they had no
homes to goe to, for they had either sould, or otherwise disposed
of their houses & livings. To be shorte, after they had been thus
turmoyled a good while, and conveyed from one constable to
another, they were glad to be ridd of them in the end upon any
termes: for all were wearied & tired with them. Though in the
mean time they (poore soules) indured miserie enough; and thus in
the end necessitie forste a way for them."


If there is any more touching incident in the history of man's
inhumanity to man, I do not know it, or cannot now recall it; and
it was to visit the scene of it near "Grimsbe," or Great Grimsby,
as it is now called, that we set out, after viewing their prison
in Boston, over wide plains, with flights of windmills alighted
on them everywhere. Here and there one seemed to have had its
wings clipped, and we were told by a brighter young fellow than
we often had for a travelling companion that this was because
steam had been put into it as a motive power more constant than
wind, even on that wind-swept coast. There seems to have been
nothing else, so far as my note-book witnesses, to take up our
thoughts in the short run to Great Grimsby, and for all I know
now I may have drowsed by many chicken-yards marking the
birthplace of our discoverers and founders. We got to Great
Grimsby in time for a very lamentable lunch in a hostelry near
the station, kept, I think, for such "poore people" as the
Pilgrims were, with stomachs not easily turned by smeary marble
table-tops with a smeary maid having to take their orders, and
her ineffective napkin in her hand. The honesty as well as the
poverty of the place was attested, when, returning to recover a
forgotten umbrella, we were met at the door by this good girl,
who had left her bar to fetch it in anticipation of all question.

At Great Grimsby, it seemed, there was no vehicle but a very
exceptional kind of cab,--looking like a herdic turned wrongside
fore, and unable to orient itself aright,--available for the long
drive to that "large comone a good way distante from any towne,"
which we were to make, if we wished to visit the scene of the
Pilgrims' sufferings in their second attempt to escape from their
dread lord. In this strange equipage, therefore, we set out, and
nine long miles we drove through a country which seemed to rise
with increasing surprise at us and our turnout on each inquiry we
made for the way from chance passers. Just beyond the suburbs of
the town we entered the region of a vast, evil smell which we
verified as that of the decaying fish spread upon the fields, for
a fertilizer after they had missed their market in that great
fishing centre. Otherwise the landscape was much the ordinary
English landscape of the flatter parts, but wilder and rougher
than in the south or west, and constantly growing more so as we
drove on and on. Our cabman kept a good courage, as long as the
highway showed signs of much travel, but when it began to falter
away into a country road, he must have lost faith in our sanity,
though he kept an effect of the conventional respect for his
nominal betters which English cabmen never part with except in a
dispute about fares and distances. We stayed him as well as we
could with some grapes and pears, which we found we did not want
after our lunch, and which we handed him up through his little
trap-door, but a plaintive quaver grew into his voice, and he let
his horse lag in the misgiving which it probably shared with him.
Nothing of signal interest occurred in our progress except at one
point, near a Methodist chapel, where we caught sight of a gayly
painted blue van, lettered over with many texts and mottoes,
which my friend explained as one of the vans intinerantly used by
extreme Protestants of the Anne Askew persuasion to prevent the
spread of Romanism in England.

The signs of travel had not only ceased, but a little in front of
us the way was barred by a gate, and beyond this gate there was
nothing but a sort of savage pasture, with many red and brown
cattle in it, gathered questioningly about the barrier, or
lifting their heads indifferently from the grass. Just before we
reached the gate we passed a peasant's cottage, where he was
sociably getting in his winter's coal, and he and his wife and
children, and the carter, all leaned upon whatever supports they
found next them, and stared at the extraordinary apparition of
two, I hope, personable strangers driving in a hansom of extreme
type into a cow pasture. But we were not going to give ourselves
away to their too probable ignorance by asking if that were the
place where the Pilgrims who founded New England were first
stopped from going to Holland.

My friend dismounted, and opened the gate, and we drove in among
the cattle, and after they had satisfied a peaceful curiosity
concerning us, they went about their business of eating grass,
and we strayed over "the large comone," and tried to imagine its
looks nearly three hundred years before. They could not have been
very different; the place could hardly have been much wilder, and
there was the "creeke hardby wher they lay," the hapless women
and children, in their boat "at lowwater," while the evening came
on, no doubt, just as it was doing with us, the weather clearing,
and the sunset glassy and cold. Off yonder, away across the
solitary moor, was the course of the Humber, marked for us by the
trail of a steamer's smoke through the fringes of trees, and for
them by the sail of the Dutchman, who, when he saw next day that
"great company, both horse and foote, with bills and gunes, and
other weapons," coming to harry those poor people, "swore his
countries oath, 'sacremente,' and having the wind faire, waiged
his ancor, hoysed sails, and away," leaving those desolate women
and their little ones lamenting.


On our way back we stopped at a little country church, so
peaceful, so very peaceful, in the evening light, where it stood,
withdrawn from the highway, Norman and Gothic without, and within
all so sweet and bare and clean, that we could not believe in the
old ecclesiasticism which persecuted the Puritans into the exile
whither they carried the persecuting spirit with them. A pretty
child, a little girl, opened the churchyard gate and held it for
us to pass, and her gentleness made me the more question the
history of those dreadful days in the past. When I saw a young
lady, in the modern dress which I had so often lost my heart to
at the Church Parade in Hyde Park, going up a leafy lane, toward
the vicarage, from having been for tennis and afternoon tea at
some pleasant home in the neighborhood, I denied the atrocious
facts altogether. She had such a very charming hat on.

The suburbs of Great Grimsby, after you reach them through that
zone of bad smell, are rather attractive, and you get into long
clean streets of small stone houses, like those of Plymouth or
Southampton, and presently you reach the Humber, which is full of
the steamers and sail, both fishing and deep sea, of the
prosperous port, with great booms of sawlogs from Norway, half
filling the channel, and with a fringe of tall chimneys from the
sawmills along the shores. Great Grimsby is not only the centre
of a vast distributing trade in coal and lumber, but of a still
vaster trade in fish. It cuts one's pride, if one has believed
that Gloucester, Massachusetts, is the greatest fishing port in
the world, to learn that Grimsby, with a hundred more fishing
sail, is only "_one_ of the principal fishing ports" of the
United Kingdom. What can one do against those brutal British
statistics? We think our towns grow like weeds, but London seems
to grow half such a weed as Chicago in a single night.


After we were got well into the town, we found ourselves part of
an immense bicycle parade, with bicyclers of both sexes on their
wheels, in masks and costumes, Pierrots, and Clowns, and
Harlequins and Columbines, in a competition for the prettiest and
fanciest dress.

When we came to start from the station on our run to London, we
reflected that there were a great many of these bicyclers, and
that they would probably crowd us in our third-class compartment.
So, as we had bought an excellent supper in baskets, such as they
send you on the trains everywhere in England, and wished to eat
it in quiet, we sought out the guard who was lurking near for the
purpose, and bribed him to shut us into that compartment, and not
let any one else in. There we remained in darkness, with our
curtains drawn, and when, near train-time, the bicyclers began to
swarm about the carriages, we heard them demanding admittance to
our compartment from our faithful guard, if that is the right way
to call him. He turned them away with soft answers, answers so
very soft that we could not make out what he said, but he seemed
to be inviting them into other compartments, which he doubtless
pretended were better. The murmurs would die away, and then rise
again, and from time to time we knew that a baffled bicycler was
pulling at our door, or vainly bumping against it. We listened
with our hearts in our mouths; but no one got in, and the train
started, and we opened our baskets and began to eat and to drink,
like two aristocrats or plutocrats. What made our inhuman
behavior worse was that we were really nothing of the kind, but
both professed friends of the common people. The story might show
that when it comes to a question of selfishness men are all alike
ready to profit by the unjust conditions. However, it must be
remembered that those people were only bicyclers. If we could
have conceived of them as masses we should have known them for
brothers, and let them in, probably.

* * * * *


It is only some six or seven hours by train from London to
Aberystwyth, but if you will look at the names on a map of the
Cambrian railways, when you begin the Welsh part of your journey,
you will seem to be in a stranger and farther country than that
of Prester John. Pwllheli, Cerrig y Drudion, Gwerful Goch,
Festiniog, Bryn Eglwys, Llanidloes, Maertwro, Carnedd Fibast,
Clynog Fwr, Llan-y-Mawddwy Machynlleth, Duffws, are a few out of
the hundred names in the hills or along the valleys, giving the
near neighborhood of England an effect of more than mid-Asian
remoteness. The eye starts at their look; but if the jaw aches at
the thought of pronouncing them, it is our own wilful
orthographical usage that is at fault; the words, whose sound the
letters faithfully render, are music, and they largely record a
Christian civilization which was centuries old when the Saxons
came to drive the Britons into the western mountains and to call
them strangers in the immemorial home of their race. The Britons
of the Roman conquest, who became the Welsh of the baffled Saxon
invaders, and are the Cymry of their own history and poetry,
still stand five feet four in their stockings, where they have
stood from the dawn of time, an inexpugnable host of dark little
men, defying the Saeseneg in their unintelligible, imperishable


Of course, except in the loneliest and farthest places, they
speak English as well as Welsh; and they misplace their
aspirates, which they lost under the Normans as the Saxons did.
But this did not happen to them by conquest as it did to the
Saxons; they were beguiled of their h's when they were cheated
with a Welsh-born prince instead of the Welsh prince they were
promised in the succession of their ancient lines. They had been
devout Christians, after their manner, in the earliest centuries;
as the prefix Llan, or Saint, everywhere testifies, the country
abounded in saints, whose sons inherited their saintship; and at
the Reformation they became Calvinists as unqualifiedly as their
kindred, the Bretons, remained Catholics. They have characterized
the English and Americans with their strong traits in a measure
which can be dimly traced in the spread of their ten or twenty
national names, and they have kept even with the most modern
ideals quite to the verge of co-education in their colleges. It
is a fact which no Welshman will deny that Cromwell was of Welsh
blood. Shakespeare was unquestionably of Welsh origin. Henry VII.
was that Welsh Twdwr (or Tudor, as the Saeseneg misspell it), who
set aside the Plantagenet succession, and was the grandsire of
"the great Elizabeth," not to boast of Bloody Mary or Henry VIII.
But if these are not enough, there is the present Chancellor of
the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd-George, who is now the chief figure of
the English cabinet.

The bad name which their own half-countryman, Giraldus
Cambrensis, gave the Welsh in the twelfth century, clings to them
yet in the superstition of all Norman-minded and Saxon-minded
men, so that the Englishman I met on the way from Edinburgh was
doubtless speaking racially rather than personally when he said
that the Welsh were the prize liars of the universe. I for my
part heard no lies in Wales except those I told myself; but as I
am of Welsh stock, perhaps my experience is not wholly refutive
of that Englishman's position. I can only urge further the noted
philological fact that the Welsh language is so full of imagery
that it is almost impossible to express in it the brute
veracities in which the English speech is so apt. Otherwise I
should say that nowhere have I been used with a more immediate
and constant sincerity than in Wales. The people were polite and
they were almost always amiable, but in English, at least, they
did not say the thing that was not; and their politeness was
without the servile forms from lower to higher which rather weary
one in England. They said "Yes," and "No," but as gently as if
they had always added "Sir." If I have it on my conscience to
except from my sweeping praise of sincerity the expressman at
Aberystwyth who promised that our baggage should be at our
lodgings in an hour, and did not bring it in five, I must add
that we arrived on the last day of a great agricultural fair,
when even the New York Transfer Company might have given a
promise of more than wonted elasticity.


In the station of Aberystwyth there were about three or four
thousand Welshmen of the national height, volubly waiting for the
trains to bear them away to their farms and villages; but they
made way most amiably for the dismounting travellers, who in our
case were led through them by the most energetic porter I ever
knew. They did not stare down upon us from the unseemly altitude
of other national statures, and often during our stay I saw like
crowds of civil men in the street markets who were no taller, and
sometimes there were women who had not scaled the heights reached
by our American girls. They would probably have competed fairly
well with these in the courses of the colleges to which the Welsh
send their daughters as well as their sons; but I will not
pretend that the good looks of either the men or women was of the
American average. I cannot even say that these contemporary
ancient Britons had the advantage of the toothless English
peasantry in the prompt dentistry which is our peculiar blessing.
In Great Britain, though I must not say Ireland, for I have never
been there, a few staggering incisors seem a formidable equipment
of the jaw in lower-class middle life and even tender youth. The
difference is a tremendous advantage which, if it does not make
for the highest character in us, will doubtless stand us in good
stead in any close with the well-toothed Japanese, and when we
are beaten, our gold-fillings will go far to pay our indemnity.

After all those thousands at the station had departed, there were
still visitors enough left in Aberystwyth to distend the hotels
uncomfortably; and the next morning we set out in the pursuit,
always interesting and alluring, of lodgings. The town seemed to
be pretty full of lodgings, but as it was the middle of August,
and the very height of the season, they were full-up in dismaying
measure. We found the only one not kept by a Welsh woman in the
ostensible keeping of an Englishwoman, a veteran cockney
landlady, but behind her tottering throne reigned a Welsh girl,
under whose iron rule we fell as if we had been unworthy Saeseneg
instead of Cymric-fetched Americans. We had rejected other
lodgings because, though their keepers had promised to provision
us, it always appeared that we must go out and do the marketing
ourselves. I shall lastingly regret that we did not submit to
this condition, for it would have been one of the best means of
studying the local life. But we held out for the London custom,
and before the Welsh Power, which has so often made itself felt
behind English thrones, could intervene, compliance was promised.
After that it remained for the Welsh Power to make our stay
difficult, and our going easy.


Otherwise the place was delightful; it was in almost the centre
of the long curve of the Victoria Terrace, with windows that
looked down upon the pebbly beach, and over the blue sea to the
bluer stretch of the Pembrokeshire hills on the south, and the
Carnarvonshire hills on the north, holding the lovely waters in
their shadowy embrace. There was not much shipping, and what
there was seemed of the pleasure sort that parties go down to the
sea to be sick in. The long parade was filled at most hours with
the English who make the place their resort; whose bathing began
early in the morning and whose flirting continued far into the
night, with forenoon and afternoon dawdling and dozing on the
pebbles. At one end of the Terrace rose a prodigious headland,
whose slope was scaled over with broken slate, like some mammoth
heaving from the deep and showing an elephantine hide of bluish
gray. At the other end was the Amusement Pier, with the co-
educational college, which is part of the University of Wales,
and with divers hotels. Somewhat behind and beyond were the ruins
of one of those castles which the Normans planted with a mailed
fist at every vantage in Wales, as their sole means of holding
down the swarming, squirming, fighting little dark people of the
country. Even then they could not do it, for the Welsh, often
overrun, were never conquered, as they will tell you themselves
if you ask them. But Wales is now perhaps the most peaceful
country in the world. Its prisons for the most part stand empty
(it is said), and the people, once so turbulent, are as little
given to violence as to vice. In fact, I once heard a great Welsh
scholar declare that in the old times it was not the true Welsh
who kept up the fighting, either on the public or the private
scale, but the Scotch and Irish who had found a home among them.
In any case, it is true that after the Normans had planted their
castles in Wales to hold the country, it was all they could do to
hold the castles, and not till their enemies had imagined having
the English King's son born in one of them did they bring the
Welsh under the English crown at last. Even then that uncertain
people broke from their allegiance now and again; or the Scotch
and Irish among them did.


All sorts of sights and sounds might be expected on our Terrace,
but that which especially warmed the heart of exile in us, and
pleased the fancy of other sojourners was the appearance, one
evening, of a stately band of tall men in evening dress and top-
hats, with musical instruments in their grasp, and heads lifted
high above their Welsh following. We called the Power behind the
Throne to the window in our question and she gave a glad cry:
"Oh, they're the Neegurs! They're the white Neegurs!" and at
sight of our compatriotic faces at the pane, these beautiful
giants took their stand before our house, and burst into the
familiar music of the log-cabin, the stern-wheel steamboat, and
the cornfield, as well as the ragtime melodies of later days. It
was a rich moment, and I know not which joyed in it more, the
Welsh Power or the American Sufferance.

But here, before I go farther afield, I must note a main
difference between the Welsh Power and the English slavey to whom
she corresponded in calling and condition. She was so far
educated as to know the pseudonym of the friend who came to see
us, and to have read his writings in the _Welsh Gazette_,
treating our proposed triumph in his distinction with the fine
scorn she used for all our airs. If she had been an old-fashioned
Yankee Help she could not have been more snubbing; but when we
had been taught to know our place she was more tolerant, and
finally took leave of us without rancor.

The notion of the general Welsh education which her intelligence
gave us was carried indefinitely farther by the grocer's boy to
whom our friend presented me one evening, after he had been
struggling to make me understand what an _englyn_ was. I am
able now to explain that it is a polite stanza which the Welsh
send with a present of fruit or flowers, or for a greeting upon
any worthy occasion. It is rhymed, sometimes at both ends of the
lines, and sometimes in the middle of them, and it presents all
the difficulties of euphony which the indomitable Welsh glory in
overcoming. But when my friend took me in hand, my ignorance was
of so dense a surface that he could make no impression on it, and
he said at last, "Let us go into this grocery. There's a boy here
who will _show_ you what an englyn is," and after I was
introduced the kind youth did so with pleasure, while he sold
candles to one customer, soap to another, cheese to another, and
herring to another. He first wrote the englyn in Welsh, and when
I had sufficiently admired it in that tongue (for which no
atavistic knowledge really served me), he said he would put it
into English, and he did so. It was then not rhymed at both ends
or in the middle, but it was rhymed quite enough, and if it had
not the harp-like sweetness of the original, it was still such a
musical stanza that I shall always be sorry to have lost it. What
I can never lose the impression of is the wide-spread literary
lore of the common Welsh people which the incident suggested. I
could not fancy even a Boston grocer's boy doing the like; and
perhaps this was an uncommon boy in Wales itself. He told me a
good deal, which I have mainly forgotten, about the state of
polite learning in his country and in what honor the living bards
were held. It seems that in that rhyming and singing little land,
the poets are still known as of old by their bardic names. As
Jones, or Evans, or Edwards they have no fame beyond other men,
but up and down all Wales they are celebrated as this bard or
that, and are honored according to their poetic worth.


After the appearance of the White Neegurs on the Terrace, I could
hardly have expected any livelier appeal to my American pride,
and yet it came, one day, when I learned that the line of
carriages which I saw passing our windows were the vehicles
bearing to some public function the members of the British
Chautauqua. How far the name and idea of Chautauqua have since
spread there is no saying, but it was the last of our national
inventions which I should have expected to find in Aberystwyth,
though Welsh culture was reasonably in its line, and the
Eisteddfod was not out of keeping with the summer conferences
held beside our lovely up-State lake. The British Chautauqua, as
I saw it, was a group of people from all parts of the United
Kingdom joined in the pursuit of improvement and enjoyment, and
they were now here on one of their summer outings. They had been
invited to a gentleman's place not far from Aberystwyth to view
as indubitable a remnant of the Holy Grail as now exists, and it
was my very good fortune through the kind offices of that friend
of ours to be invited with them.

It was a blamelessly rainless afternoon, of a sort commoner on
the western Welsh coast than on other shores of the "rainy
isles," but not too common even there; and we drove out of the
town through the prettiest country of hillside fields and valleys
opening to the sea, on a road that was fairly dusty in the hot
sun. There were cottages, grouped and detached, all the way, with
gray stone walls and blue slate roofs, and in places the children
ran out from them with mercenary offerings of flowers and song,
or with frank pleas for charity direct. I yielded with reluctance
to the instruction of a Manchester economist in my carriage, and
denied them, when I would so much rather have abetted them in
their wicked attempts on our pockets. I remember ruefully still
that they had voices as sweet and eyes as dark as the children
who used to chase our wheels in Italy, and I have no doubt they
deserved quite as well of us as those did.

I got back my spirits when we left our carriages, and I found
myself walking up a pleasant avenue of wilding trees, with a
young Chautauquan from Australia who looked as if he might be a
young Chautauquan from Alabama, tall, and lean, and brown. We
fell into talk about the trees, and he said how they differed in
their green from the sombre gray of his native forests; and then
he, from that vast far continent of his, spoke of the little
island where we were, as Home. That has always a strange effect
for us self-outcasts from the great British roof, and whether it
makes us smile, or makes us sigh, it never fails to startle us
when we hear it from colonial lips. The word holds in common
kindness Canada and India and South Africa and Australia, and it
has its pathos in the fact that the old mother of these mighty
children seems to leave solely to them the tenderness that draws
them to her in that notion of home.


There were about fifty of those British Chautauquans, and when
they had ranged themselves on the grass before the shrubbery of a
pleasant lawn, backed by a wooded slope, the dignified lady of
the house came out with a casket in her hand, and put it on a
table, and the exercises began. Fitly, if the casket really held
the sacred relic, they began with prayer; then a Welsh soloist
followed with a hymn, but whether she sang in Welsh or English, I
do not remember; I am only sure she sang divinely; and then came
the speeches. The first of the speeches was by our friend, who
was the local Unitarian minister, and of a religious body not
inconsiderable in that Calvinistic Wales. He told us how the Holy
Grail had been deposited with the monks of Strata Florida, the
famous old abbey near Aberystwyth; but I forgot who made them
this trust, unless it was King Arthur's knights, and I am not
sure whether the fact is matter of legend or history. What I
remember is that when the abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII.,
certain of the escaping monks came with the relic to the gentle
house where we then were, and placed it in the keeping of the
family who have guarded it ever since.


After our friend, the lady of this house took up the tale, and
told in words singularly choice and simple the story of the
sacred relic as the family knew it. I had only once before heard
a woman speak, no less a woman than our great and dear Julia Ward
Howe, and it seemed to me that she spoke better than any man; and
I must say of the Chautauquans' hostess, that day, that if ever
the Englishwomen come into their full political rights, as they
seem sure to do, the traditions of good sense and good taste in
English public speaking will not pass, but will prosper on
through their orators. There were touches of poetry, nationally
Welsh, in what she said, and touches of humor perhaps personally
Welsh. It seems that the cup had been famed throughout the
countryside for the miraculous property by which whoever drank
from it was cured of his or her malady, and it had been passed
freely round to all sufferers ever since it came into her
family's keeping. That they might make doubly sure of the
miracle, it was the custom of the sick not only to empty the cup,
but to nibble a little bit of the wood, and swallow that, so that
in whatever state the monks of Strata Florida had confided it,
the vessel was now in the state we saw. Saying this the lady
opened the casket holding it, and showed us the crescent-shaped
rim of a wooden bowl, about the bigness of a cocoanut shell; all
the rest had been consumed by the pious sufferers whom it had
restored to health.

I am sorry, after all, to own that this cup is said by some
authorities not to be the Holy Grail, but a vessel like it carved
out of the true cross. But even so subordinate a relic is
priceless, and as it is no longer possible to drink from it, we
may hope that the fragment will remain indefinitely to after
time. When they had wondered at the sight of it the Chautauquans
and their friend were made free of the charming seventeenth-
century house, which would be old for this country, but which in
the taste of that time was rather modern, and looked like the
casino of some Italian villa. It abounded, as such houses in
England do, in the pictured faces of the past, and in the
memorials which only the centuries can leave behind them, but was
too graceful to seem rich. "A home of ancient peace," it looked,
in its mild gray stone amidst its lawns and shrubberies, the
larger hold of the gardens and pleasaunces through which the
Chautauquans followed from it.


At Aberystwyth, and elsewhere in Wales, one of the things I
noticed was the difference of the people from the people over the
English border in their attitude toward their betters. They might
stand only five feet in their stockings, but they stood straight,
and if they were respectful, they were first self-respectful. In
our run from Shrewsbury, their language first made itself
generally heard at Newport, and it increased in the unutterable
names of the stations westward, the farther we passed into their
beautiful country, but they had always English enough to be
civil, though never servile. The country is beautiful in the New
England measure, but it is of a softer and smaller beauty; it
looks more caressable; it is like Vermont rather than New
Hampshire, and it is more like New England than Old England in
the greater number of isolated farm-houses, from which the girls
as well as the boys come to the university colleges for learning
undreamt of by English farm villagers.

The air was fresh and sweet, and though it seemed to shower
wherever we stopped to let another train go by on a siding of our
single track, there was a very passable sense of summer sun. The
human type as we began to observe it and as we saw it afterward
throughout the land was not only diminutive, but rather plain and
mostly dark, in the men; as to the women they were, as they are
everywhere, charming, with now and then a face of extraordinary
loveliness, and nearly always the exquisite West of England
complexion. In their manners the people could not be more amiable
than the English, who are as amiable as possible, but they seemed
brighter and gayer. This remained their effect to the last in
Aberystwyth, and when one left the Terrace where the English
visitors superabounded, the Welsh had the whole place to
themselves. I would not push my conjecture, but it seemed to me
that there was an absence of the cloying loyalty which makes
sojourn in England afflictive to the republican spirit; I
remember but one shop dedicated to the King's Majesty, with the
royal arms over the door, though there may have been many others;
I am always warning the reader not to take me too literally.

Though I was about the streets by day and by dark, I saw no
disorderly behavior of any kind in the town away from the beach;
I do not mean there was any by the sea, unless some athletic
courtship among the young people of the watering-place element
was to be accounted so. There was not much fashion there, except
in a few pretty women who recalled the church parade of Hyde Park
in their flowery and feathery costumes. Back in the town there
was no fashion at all, but a general decency and comfort of
dress. The Welsh costume survives almost solely in the picture-
postal cards, though perhaps in the hilly fastnesses the women
still wear the steeple-crowned hats which we associate with the
notion of witches; when they come to market in Aberystwyth they
wear hard, shiny black straw hats like the men's. Amongst the
throng of Saturday-night shoppers I saw none of the drunkenness
that one sees so often in Scottish streets, and in English
cities, and, I grieve to say, even in some New England towns. In
the Welsh quarter Sunday was much more the Sabbath than it was on
the Terrace, where indeed it seemed a day of pleasure rather than


All the week I had the best intention of hearing the singing in
some of the Welsh churches, but my goodwill could not carry the
day against the fear of a sermon which I should not understand. A
chance sermon would probably have touched upon the education act
which was then stirring all Dissenting England and Wales to
passive resistance, and from Lincolnshire to Carnarvonshire was
causing the distraint of tables and chairs, tools, hams, clocks,
clothing, poultry, and crops for the payment of such part of the
Dissenters' taxes as would go to the support of the Church
schools. Possibly it might also have referred to the Walk Out of
the Welsh Members of Parliament; this was an incident which I
heard mentioned as of imperial importance, though what caused it
or came of it I do not know.

Instead of going to church, I strolled up and down the Terrace
and observed the watering-place life. The town was evidently
full, or at least all the lodging-houses were, and as it is with
the English everywhere in their summer resorts, there were men
enough to go round, so that no poor dear need pine for a mate on
that pleasant beach. Aberystwyth is therefore to be commended to
our overflow of girls, though whether there are many eligible
noblemen among those youth I have not the statistics for saying.
All the visitors may have been people of rank; I only know that I
was told they were mostly from the midland cities, and they
seemed to be having the good time which people of brief outings
alone have. The bathing began, as I have noted, very early in the
day with the men in the briefest possible tights; the women, for
compensation, wore long trousers with their bathing-skirts, and
they enhanced the modesty of their effect by the universal use of
bathing-machines, pushed well away from the curious shore. There
was not much variety in the visiting English type, but there was
here and there a sharp imperial accent, as in the two pale
little, spindle-legged Anglo-Indian boys, with their Hindu ayah,
very dark, with sleek dark hair, and gleaming eyes in a head not
much bigger than a black walnut.

The crescent of the beach was a serried series of hotels and
lodging-houses, from tip to tip, but back of these were streets
of homelike, smallish dwellings, that broke rank farther away,
and scattered about in suburban villas, with trees and flowers
and grass around them. Beyond stretched, as well as it could
stretch among its hills, the charming country of fields, and
woods, and orchards.


I suppose I did not quite do my duty by the ruins of the Norman
castle, and I feel that it is now too late to repair my neglect.
The stronghold was more than once attempted by the Welsh in those
wars which make their history a catalogue of battles, but it held
out Norman till the Normans turned English. Owen Glendover took
it in 1402, when it was three hundred years old, though not yet
feeble with age, and in due time one of Cromwell's lieutenants
destroyed it. Some very picturesque fragments remain to attest
the grace and strength of the ancient hold. It is near the
University College and the Amusement Pier, so that the mere
sight-seers can do all the ordinary objects of interest at
Aberystwyth in half a day or half an hour. But we were none of
these. We had fallen in love with the place, and we would fain
have stayed on after the week was up for which we had taken our
lodging. It appeared from a house-to-house canvass, that there
was no other lodging to be had in all that long crescent of the
Terrace; or, if this is incredible, there was none we would have.
Our successors were impending; and though I think our English
landlady might have invented something for us at the last moment,
the Welsh Power was inexorable. Her ideal was lodgers who would
go out and buy their own provisions, and we had set our faces
against that. Some one must yield, and the Welsh Power could not;
it was not in her nature. We were therefore in a manner expelled
from Aberystwyth, but our banishment was not from all Wales, and
this was how we went next to Llandudno.

* * * * *


Froissart's saying, if it was Froissart's, that the English amuse
themselves sadly antedates that notion of Merry England which is
now generally rejected by serious observers. I should myself
prefer the agnostic position, and say that I did not know whether
the English were glad or not when they looked gay. What I seem to
be certain of, but I do not say that I am certain, is that they
look gayer in their places of amusement than we do. I do not mean
theatres, or parliaments, or music-halls, or lecture-rooms, by
places of amusement, but what we call summer resorts a little
more largely than those resorts which the English call watering-
places. Of these I should like to take as a type the charming
summer resort on the coast of North Wales which is called
Llandudno in print, and in speech several different ways.


The English simply and frankly, after their blunt nature, call
the place Landudno, but the Welsh call it, according to one
superstition of their double _l_ and their French _u_,
Thlandidno. According to another, we cannot spell it in English
at all; but it does not much matter, for the last superstition is
the ever-delightful but ever-doubtful George Borrow's, who says
that the Welsh _ll_ is the same as the Spanish _ll_,
but who is probably mistaken, most other authorities agreeing
that if you pronounce it _lhl_ you will come as near it as
any Saeseneg need. It is a constantly besetting question in
Wales, where the prefix _Llan_ speckles the map all over,
owing to that multitude of Saints who peopled the country in the
times when a Saint's sons were every one saints, and none was of
particularly holy, or even good life, because he was known for a
saint. Like a continental noble, he inherited his title equally
with all his brothers.

But through whatever orthoepic mazes you search it, Llandudno has
every claim on your regard and admiration. Like Aberystwyth, its
sea front is a shallow crescent, but vaster, with a larger town
expanding back of it, and with loftier and sublimer headlands, at
either end, closing it in a more symmetrical frame. But I should
say that its sea was not so blue, or its sky either, and its air
was not so soft or dry. Morally it is more constantly lively,
with a greater and more insistent variety of entertainments. For
the American its appeal might well have begun with the sight of
his country's flag floating over a tennis-ground at the
neighboring watering-place and purer Welsh town of Rhyl. The
approach to his affections was confirmed by another American flag
displayed before one of the chief hotels in Llandudno itself. I
learned afterward of the landlord that this was because there
were several Chicago families in his house, and fifteen Americans
in all; but why the tennis-ground of Rhyl flew our national
banner, I do not know to this day. It was indeed that gentle
moment when our innocent people believed themselves peculiarly
dear to the English, and might naturally suppose, if from
Chicago, or Boston, or Denver, that the English would wish to see
as often as possible the symbol of our successful revolt from the
princes and principles to which they have religiously adhered.


Both that home of the patriotic Chicago families, and the other
best hotel were too full for us, and after a round of the second-
best we decided for lodgings, hoping as usual that they would
bring us nearer the native life. The best we could get, facing
the sea midway of the crescent, were not exactly Welsh in their
keeping. The landladies were, in fact, two elderly Church-of-
England sisters from Dublin, who had named their house out of a
novel they had read. They said they believed the name was
Italian, and the reader shall judge if it were so from its
analogue of Osier Wood. The maids in the house, however, were
very truly and very wickedly Welsh: two tough little ponies of
girls, who tied their hair up with shoe-strings, and were
forbidden, when about their work, to talk Welsh together, lest
they should speak lezing of those Irish ladies. The rogues were
half English, but the gentle creature who served our table was
wholly Welsh; small, sweet-voiced, dark-eyed, intelligent, who
suffered from the universal rheumatism of the British Isles, but
kept steadily to her duty, and accepted her fate with patience
and even cheerfulness. She waited on several other tables, for
the house was full of lodgers, all rather less permanent than
ourselves, who were there for a fortnight; we found our
landladies hoping, when we said we were going, to have had us
with them through the winter.


Our fellow-lodgers were quiet people of divers degrees, except
perhaps the highest, unless the nobility bring boiled hams with
them when they visit the seaside. The boiled ham of the drawing-
room floor was frankly set out on the hall table, where it seemed
to last a week, or at least till the lodgers went away. There was
much coming and going, for it was the height of the season, with
the prices at flood tide. We paid six guineas a week for three
bedrooms and a sitting-room; but our landladies owned it was
dear. An infirm and superannuated sideboard served for a
dressing-table in one room; in others the heavier pieces of
furniture stood sometimes on four legs, sometimes on three. We
had the advantage of two cats on the back fence, and a dog in the
back yard; but if the controversy between them was carried on in
Welsh, it is no wonder we never knew what it was about.

Our hostesses said the Welsh were dirty housekeepers: "At least
_we_ think so," but I am bound to say their own cooking was
very good; and not being Welsh our hostesses consented to market
for us, except in the article of Spanish melons: these I bought
myself of increasing cost and size. When I alleged, the second
morning, that the melon then sold me for sixpence had been sold
me by another boy for fourpence the day before, my actual Cymric
youth said, "Then he asked you too little," which seemed a _non
sequitur_ but was really an unexpected stroke of logic.

It was the utmost severity used with me by my co-racials in
Llandudno. They were in the great majority of the permanent
inhabitants, but they were easily outnumbered among the
pleasurers by the Saeseneg, whose language prevailed, so that a
chance word of Welsh now and then was all that I heard in the
streets. Some faint stirrings of ambition to follow the language
as far as a phrase-book would lead were not encouraged by the
kindly bookseller who took my money for it; and I did not go on.
It is a loss for me in literature which translation cannot
supply, for the English lovers of Welsh poetry, after praising it
to the skies, are never able to produce anything which is not
direly mechanical and vacuous. The native charm somehow escapes
them; the grace beyond the reach of art remains with the Cymric
poets who have resources for its capture unknown to their English
admirers. George Borrow seems the worst failure in this sort, and
the worst offender in giving his reader the hopes he never
fulfils, so that his _Wild Wales_ is a desert of blighted
literary promises. I believe that the merit of Welsh poetry
dwells largely, perhaps overlargely, in its intricate technique,
and in the euphonic changes which leave the spoken word ready for
singing almost without the offices of the composer.


One of the great musical contests, the yearly national
Eisteddfod, was taking place that year at the neighboring town of
Rhyl, but I did not go to hear it, not being good for a week's
music without intermission. At Llandudno there was only the music
of the Pierrots and the Niggers, which those simple-hearted
English have borrowed, the one from France and the other from
these States. Their passion for our colored minstrelsy is, in
fact, something pathetic. They like Pierrots well enough, and
Pierrots _are_ amusing, there is no doubt of it; but they
dote upon Niggers, as they call them with a brutality unknown
among us except to the vulgarest white men and boys, and the
negroes themselves in moments of exasperation. Negro minstrelsy
is almost extinct in the land of its birth, but in the land of
its adoption it flourishes in the vigor of undying youth: no
watering-place is genuine without it. Bands of Niggers haunt the
streets and suburbs of London, and apparently every high day or
holiday throughout the British Islands requires the stamp of
their presence as a nostrum requires the name of the patentee
blown in the bottle. The decay of their gay science began among
us with the fall of slavery, and the passing of the old
plantation life; but as these never existed in Great Britain the
English version of negro minstrelsy is not affected by their
disappearance. It is like the English tradition of the Red Skins,
which has all but vanished from our superstition, but remains as
powerful as ever in the constant fancy of those islanders.

The English like their Niggers very, very black, and as their
Niggers are English they know how to gratify the national
preference: such a spread of scarlet lips over half the shining
sable face is known nowhere else in nature or art; and it must
have been in despair of rivalling their fellow-minstrels that the
small American troupe we saw at Aberystwyth went to the opposite
extreme and frankly appeared as the White Neegurs. At Llandudno
the blackness of the Niggers was absolute, so that it almost
darkened the day as they passed our lodging, along the crescent
of the beach on their way to their open-air theatre beyond it.
They were followed by a joyous retinue of boys and girls,
tradesmen's apprentices, donkeys, bath-chairs, and all the
movable gladness of the watering-place, to the music of their
banjos and the sound of their singing. They were going to a fold
of the foot-hills called the Happy Valley, bestowed on the public
for such pleasures by the local nobleman whose title is given to
a principal street, and to other points and places, I suppose out
of the public pride and gratitude. It is a charming amphitheatre
overlooked by the lofty tops around, and there on the green slope
the Niggers had set up their stage, and ranged the spectators'
chairs in the classification of first, second, and third so dear
to the British soul. There they cracked their jokes, and there
they sang their songs; the songs were newer than the jokes, but
they were both kinds delivered with a strong Cockney accent, and
without an aspirate in its place. But it was all richly
acceptable to the audience, who laughed and cheered and joined in
the chorus when asked. Here, as everywhere, the crowd delighted
equally in songs of the sloppiest sentimentality and of humor
nighest indecency.


On the afternoon of our visit the good lady next me could not
contain her peculiar pride in the entertainment, and confided
that she knew the leader of the troupe, who was an old friend of
her husband's. It was indeed a time and place that invited to

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