First Impressions of the English (1)

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

OF

 ENGLAND AND ITS PEOPLE.
__________


CHAPTER I.


Led to convert an intended voyage to Orkney into a journey to England—Objects of the journey—Carter Fell—The Border Line—Well for England it should have been so doggedly maintained by the weaker country—Otterburn—The Mountain Limestone in England, what it is not in Scotland, a true Mountain Limestone—Scenery changes as we enter the Coal Measures—Wretched weather—Newcastle—Methodists—Controversy on the Atonement—The popular mind in Scotland mainly developed by its theology—Newcastle Museum; rich in its Geology and its Antiquities; both branches of one subject—Geologic history of the Roman invasion—Durham Cathedral—The monuments of Nature greatly more enduring than those of man—Cyathophyllum Fungites—The spotted tubers, and what they indicated—The destiny of a nation involved in the growth of a minute fungus.



    I HAD purposed visiting the Orkneys, and spending my few weeks of autumn leisure in exploring the Old Red Sandstone of these islands along the noble coast sections opened up by the sea.  My vacations during the five previous seasons had been devoted to an examination of the fossiliferous deposits of Scotland.  I had already in some degree acquainted myself with the Palæzoic and Secondary formations of the northern half of the kingdom and the Hebrides.  One vacation more would have acquainted me with those of Orkney also, and completed my survey of Scotland to the north of the Grampians; and I would have reckoned at least half my self-imposed task at an end.  When labouring professionally, however, during the previous winter and spring, I had, I am afraid, sometimes failed to re-member what the old chivalric knights used never to forget, that "man is but of mould;" and I had, in consequence, subjected the "mould" to a heavier pressure than, from its yielding nature, it is suited to bear.  And now that play-time had once more come round, I found I had scarce health and strength enough left me to carry me in quest of more.  I could no longer undertake, as formerly, long journeys a-foot in a wild country; nor scramble, with sure step, and head that never failed, along the faces of tall precipices washed by the sea.  And so, for the time at least, I had to give up all thoughts of visiting Orkney.

    "I will cross the Border," I said, "and get into England.  I know the humbler Scotch better than most men—I have at least enjoyed better opportunities of knowing them; but the humbler English I know only from hearsay.  I will go and live among them for a few weeks, somewhere in the midland districts.  I shall lodge in humble cottages, wear a humble dress, and see what is to be seen by humble men only—society without its mask.  I shall explore, too, for myself, the formations wanting in the geologic scale of Scotland—the Silurian, the Chalk, and the Tertiary; and so, should there be future years in store for me, I shall be enabled to resume my survey of our Scottish deposits with a more practised eye than at present, and with more extended knowledge."  August was dragging on to its close, through a moist and cloudy atmosphere; every day had its shower, and some days half a dozen; but I hoped for clearer skies and fairer weather in the south; and so, taking my seat at Edinburgh on the top of the Newcastle coach, I crossed Carter Fell a little after mid-day, and found myself for the first time in England.  The sun on the Scottish side looked down clear and kindly on languid fields surcharged with moisture, that exhibited greener and yet greener tints as we ascended from the lowland districts to the uplands; while on the southern side, though all was fair in the foreground, a thick sullen cloud hung low over the distant prospect, resembling the smoke of some vast city.

    And this was the famous Border-line, made good by the weaker against the stronger nation—at how vast an amount of blood and suffering!—for more than a thousand years.  It wore to-day, in the quiet sunshine, a look of recluse tranquillity, that seemed wholly unconscious of the past.  A tumbling sea of dark green hills, delicately chequered with light and shadow, swelled upwards on either side towards the line of boundary, like the billows of opposing tide-ways, that rise over the general level where the currents meet; and passing on and away from wave-top to wave-top, like the cork baulk of a fisherman's net afloat on the swell, ran the separating line.  But all was still and motionless, as in the upper reaches of the Baltic, when the winter frost has set in.  We passed on the Scottish side a group of stalwart shepherds—solid, grave-featured men, who certainly did not look as if they loved fighting for its own sake; and on the English side, drove by a few stout, ruddy hinds, engaged in driving carts, who seemed just as little quarrelsome as their Scottish neighbours.  War must be intrinsically mischievous.  It must be something very bad, let us personify it as proudly as we may, that could have set on these useful, peaceable people—cast in so nearly the same mould, speaking the same tongue, possessed of the same common nature, loveable, doubtless, in some points, from the development of the same genial affections to knock one another on the head, simply because the one-half of them had first seen the light on the one side of the hill, and the other half on the other side.  And yet such was the state of things which obtained in this wild district for many hundred years.  It seems, however, especially well for England, since the quarrel began at all, that it should have been so doggedly maintained by the weaker people—so well maintained, that the border hamlet, round which they struggled, in the days of the first Edward, as a piece of doubtful property, is a piece of doubtful property still, and has, in royal proclamation and act of Parliament, its own separate clause assigned to it, as the "town called Berwick-upon-Tweed."  It is quite enough for the English, as shown by the political history of modern times, that they conquered Ireland; had they conquered Scotland also, they would have been ruined utterly.  "One such victory more, and they would have been undone."  Men have long suspected the trade of the hero to be a bad one; but it is only now they are fairly beginning to learn, that of all great losses and misfortunes, his master achievement—the taking of a nation—is the greatest and most incurably calamitous.

    The line of boundary forms the water-shed in this part of the island; the streams on the Scottish side trot away northwards toward the valley of the Tweed; while on the English side they pursue a southerly course, and are included in the drainage of the Tyne.  The stream which runs along the bare open valley on which we had now entered, forms one of the larger tributaries of the latter river.  But every thing seemed as Scottish as ever—the people, the dwelling-houses, the country.  I could scarce realize the fact, that the little grey parish church with the square tower, which we had just passed, was a church in which the curate read the Prayer-Book every Sunday, and that I had left behind me the Scottish law, under which I had been living all life long till now, on the top of the hill.  I had proof, however, at our first English stage, that such was actually the case.  "Is all right?" asked the coachman, of a tall lanky Northumbrian who had busied himself in changing the horses.  "Yez, all roit," was the reply; "roit as the Church of England."  I was, it was evident, on Presbyterian ground no longer.  We passed, as the country began to open, a spot marked by two of the crossed swords of our more elaborate maps; they lie thick on both sides of the Border, to indicate where the old battle-fields were stricken; and the crossed swords of this especial locality are celebrated in chronicle and song.  A rude, straggling village runs for some one or two hundred yards along both sides of the road.  On the left there is a group of tall trees, elevated on a ridge, which they conceal; and a bare, undulating, somewhat wild country spreads around.  All is quiet and solitary; and no scathe on the landscape corresponds with the cross swords on the map.  There were a few children at play, as we passed, in front of one of the cottages, and two old men sauntering along the road.  And such now is Otterburn—a name I never associated before, save with the two noble ditties of Chevy Chase, the magnificent narrative of Froissart, and the common subject of both ballads and narrative, however various their descriptions of it—that one stern night's slaughter, four hundred years ago,


"When the dead Douglas won the field."


It was well for the poor victors they had a Froissart to celebrate them.  For though it was the Scotch who gained the battle, it was the English who had the writing of the songs; and had not the victors found so impartial a chronicler in the generous Frenchman, the two songs, each a model in its own department, would have proved greatly an overmatch for them in the end.

    The wilder tracts of Northumberland are composed of the Millstone Grit and Mountain Limestone; and never before had I seen this latter deposit developed in a style that so bears out the appropriateness of its name.  It is in Northumberland, what it is rarely or never in Scotland, a true Mountain Limestone, that rises into tall hills, and sinks into deep valleys, and spreads laterally over a vast extent of area.  The ocean of the Carboniferous era in England must have been greatly more persistent and extended than the ocean whose deposits form the base of the Coal Measures in the sister country: it appears to have lain further from the contemporary land, and to have been much less the subject of alternate upheavals and depressions.  We were several hours in driving over the formation.  As we entered upon the true Coal Measures, the face of the country at once altered: the wild, open, undulating surface sunk into a plain, laid out, far as the eye could reach, into fields closely reticulated with hedge-rows; the farm-houses and gentlemen's seats thickened as we advanced; and England assumed its proper character.  With a change of scenery, however, we experienced a change of weather.  We had entered into the cloud that seemed so threatening in the distance from the top of Carter Fell; and a thick, soaking rain, without wind, accompanied by a lazy fog that lay scattered along the fields and woods in detached wreaths of grey, saddened the landscape.  As we drove on, we could see the dense smoke of the pit-engines forming a new feature in the prospect; the tall chimneys of Newcastle, that seemed so many soot-black obelisks half lost in the turbid atmosphere, came next in view; and then, just as the evening was falling wet and cheerless, we entered the town, through muddy streets, and along ranges of melancholy-looking houses, dropping from all their eaves, and darkened by the continuous rain of weeks.  I was directed by the coachman to by far the most splendid temperance coffee-house I had ever seen; but it seemed too fine a lodging-house for harbouring the more characteristic English, and I had not crossed the Border to see cosmopolites; and so, turning away from the door, I succeeded in finding for myself a humbler, but still very respectable house, in a different part of the town.

    There were several guests in the public room: some two or three smart commercial gentlemen from the midland trading towns; two young Sheffield mechanics, evidently of the respectable class, who earn high wages and take care of them; and a farmer or two from the country.  In the course of the evening we had a good deal of conversation, and some controversy.  The mechanics were Methodists, who had availed themselves of a few days' leisure to see the north country, but more especially, as I afterwards learned, to be present at a discussion on controverted points of theology, which was to take place in Newcastle on the following evening, between a prodigiously clever preacher of the New Connexion, very unsound in his creed, of whom I had never heard before, and a more orthodox preacher of the same body, profound in his theology, of whom I had heard just as little.  From the peculiar emphasis placed by the two lads on the word orthodox, I inferred that neither of them deemed orthodoxy so intellectual a thing as the want of it; and I ultimately discovered that they were partisans of the clever preacher.  One of the two seemed anxious to provoke a controversy on his favourite points; but the commercial men, who appeared rather amused to hear so much about religion, avoided all definite statement; and the men from the country said nothing.  A person in black entered the room—not a preacher apparently, but, had I met him in Scotland, I would have set him down for at least an elder: and the young mechanics were gratified.

    The man in black was, I found, a Calvinist, not, however, of the most profound type; the Methodists were wild nondescripts in their theology, more Socinian than aught else, and yet not consistently Socinian either.  A Scottish religious controversy of the present time regards the nature and extent of the atonement; the two Wesleyans challenged, I found, the very existence of the doctrine.  There was really no such thing as an atonement, they said: the atonement was a mere orthodox view taken by the Old Connexion.  The Calvinist referred to the ordinary evidences to prove it something more; and so the controversy went on, with some share of perverted ingenuity on the one side, and a considerable acquaintance with Scripture doctrine on the other.  A tall, respectable-looking man, with the freshness of a country life palpable about him, had come in shortly after the commencement of the discussion, and took evidently some interest in it.  He turned from speaker to speaker, and seemed employed in weighing the statements on both sides.  At length he struck in, taking part against the Calvinist.  "Can it really be held," he said, "that the all-powerful God—the Being who has no limits to his power could not forgive sin without an atonement?  That would be limiting his illimitable power with a vengeance!"  The remark would scarcely have arrested a theologic controversy on the same nice point in Scotland—certainly not among the class of peasant controversialists so unwisely satirized by Burns, nor yet among the class who, in our own times, have taken so deep an interest in the Church question; but the English Calvinist seemed unfurnished with a reply.

    I was curious to see how the metaphysics of our Scotch Calvinism would tell on such an audience; and took up the subject much in the way it might be taken up in some country churchyard, ere the congregation had fully gathered, by some of the "grave-livers"of the parish, or as it might be discussed in the more northern localities of the kingdom, at some evening meeting of "the men."  I attempted showing, step by step, that God did not give to himself his own nature, nor any part of it; that it exists as it is, as independently of his will as our human nature exists as it is independently of ours; that his moral nature, like his nature in general, is underived, unalterable, eternal; and that it is this underived moral nature of the Godhead which forms the absolute law of his conduct in all his dealings with his moral agents.  "You are, I daresay, right," said the countryman; but how does all this bear on the doctrine of the atonement?"

    "Very directly on your remark respecting it," I replied.  "It shows us that the will and power of God, in dealing with the sins of his accountable creature man, cannot, if we may so speak, be arbitrary, unregulated power and will, but must spring, of necessity, out of his underived moral nature.  If it be according to this moral nature, which constitutes the governing law of Deity—the law which controls Deity—that without the 'shedding of blood there can be no remission,' then blood must be shed, or remission cannot be obtained: atonement for sin there must be.  If, on the contrary, there can be remission without the shedding of blood, we may be infallibly certain the unnecessary blood will not be demanded, nor the superfluous atonement required.  To believe otherwise would be to believe that God deals with his moral agent man, on principles that do not spring out of his own moral nature, but are mere arbitrary results of an unregulated will."  "But are you not leaving the question, after all, just where you found it?" asked the countryman.  "Not quite," I replied: "of God's moral nature, or the conduct which springs out of it, we can but know what God has been pleased to tell us: the fact of the atonement can be determined but by revelation; and I believe, with the gentleman opposite, that revelation determines it very conclusively.  But if fact it be, then must we hold that it is a fact which springs directly out of that underived moral nature of God which constitutes the governing law of his power and will; and that, his nature being what it is, the antagonist fact of remission without atonement is in reality an impossibility.  Your appeal in the question lay to the omnipotence of God: it is something to know that in that direction there can lie no appeal.  Mark how strongly your own great poet brings out this truth.  In his statement of the doctrine of the atonement—a simple digest of the scriptural statement—all is made to hinge on the important fact, that God having willed the salvation of men, an atonement became as essentially necessary to Him, in order that the moral nature which He did not give himself might not be violated, as to the lapsed race, who might recognise in it their sole hope of restoration and recovery.  Man, says the poet,


To expiate his treason hath nought left,
But to destruction, sacred and devote,
He, with his whole posterity, must die
Die he, or justice must; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.


    The countryman was silent.  "You Scotch are a strange people," said one of the commercial gentlemen.  "When I was in Scotland two years ago, I could hear of scarce anything among you but your Church question.  What good does all your theology do you?"  "Independently altogether of religious considerations," I replied, "it has done for our people what all your Societies for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and all your Penny and Saturday Magazines will never do for yours: it has awakened their intellects, and taught them how to think.  The development of the popular mind in Scotland is a result of its theology."

    The morning rose quite as gloomily as the evening had fallen: the mist-cloud still rested lazily over the town; the rain dashed incessantly from the eaves, and streamed along the pavement.  It was miserable weather for an invalid in quest of health; but I had just to make the best I could of the circumstances, by scraping acquaintance with the guests in the travellers' room, and beating with them over all manner of topics until mid-day, when I sallied out under cover of an umbrella, to see the town museum.  I found it well suited to repay the trouble of a visit; and such is the liberality of the Newcastle people, that it cost me no more.  It is superior, both in the extent and arrangement of its geologic department, to any of our Scotch collections with which I am acquainted; and its Anglo-Roman antiquities, from the proximity of the place to the wall of Hadrian, are greatly more numerous than in any other museum I ever saw—filling, of themselves, an entire gallery.  As I passed, in the geologic department, from the older Silurian to the newer Tertiary, and then on from the newer Tertiary to the votive tablets, sacrificial altars, and sepulchral memorials of the Anglo-Roman gallery, I could not help regarding them as all belonging to one department.  The antiquities piece on in natural sequence to the geology; and it seems but rational to indulge in the same sort of reasonings regarding them.  They are the fossils of an extinct order of things, newer than the Tertiary—of an extinct race—of an extinct religion—of a state of society and a class of enterprises which the world saw once, but which it will never see again.  And with but little assistance from the direct testimony of history, one has to grope one's way along this comparatively modern formation, guided chiefly, as in the more ancient deposits, by the clue of circumstantial evidence.  In at least its leading features, however, the story embodied is remarkably clear.  First, we have evidence that, in those remote times, when the northern half of the island had just become a home of men, the land was forest-covered, like the woody regions of North America, and that its inhabitants were rude savages, unacquainted with the metals, but possessed of a few curious arts which an after age forgot—not devoid of a religion which, at least, indicated the immortality of the soul—and much given to war.  The extensive morass, in which huge trunks lie thick and frequent—the stone battle-axe—the flint arrow-head—the Druidic circle—the vitrified fort—the Picts' house—the canoe hollowed out of a single log—are all fossils of this early period.  Then come the memorials of an after formation.  This wild country is invaded by a much more civilized race than the one by which it is inhabited: we find distinct marks of their lines of march—of the forests which they cut down—of the encampments in which they entrenched themselves—of the battle-fields in which they were met in fight by the natives.  And they, too, had their religion.  More than half the remains which testify to their progress consist of sacrificial altars and votive tablets dedicated to the gods.  The narrative goes on: another class of remains show us that a portion of the country was conquered by the civilized race.  We find the remains of tesselated pavements, baths, public roads, the foundations of houses and temples, accumulations of broken pottery, and hoards of coin.  Then comes another important clause in the story: we ascertain that the civilized people failed to conquer the whole of the northern country; and that, in order to preserve what they had conquered, they were content to construct, at an immense expense of labour, a long chain of forts, connected by a strong wall flanked with towers.  Had it been easier to conquer the rest of the country than to build the wall, the wall would not have been built.  We learn further, however, that the laboriously built wall served its purpose but for a time: the wild people beyond at length broke over it; and the civilized invader, wearied out by their persevering assaults, which though repelled to-day, had again to be repelled to-morrow, at length left their country to them entire, and, retreating beyond its furthest limits, built for his protection a second wall.  Such is the history of this bygone series of occurrences, as written, if one may so speak, in the various fossils of the formation.  The antiquities of a museum should always piece on to its geologic collection. [1]

    The weather was still wretchedly bad; but I got upon the Great Southern Railway, and passed on to Durham, expecting to see, in the city of a bishop, a quiet English town of the true ancient type.  And so I would have done, as the close-piled tenements of antique brick-work, with their secluded old-fashioned courts and tall fantastic gables, testified in detail, had the circumstances been more favourable; but the mist-cloud hung low, and I could see little else than dropping eaves, darkened walls, and streaming pavements.  The river which sweeps past the town was big in flood.  I crossed along the bridge; saw beyond, a half-drowned country, rich in fields and woods, and varied by the reaches of the stream; and caught between me and the sky, when the fog rose, the outline of the town on its bold ridge, with its stately Cathedral elevated highest, as first in place, and its grotesque piles of brick ranging adown the slope in picturesque groups, continuous yet distinct.  I next visited the Cathedral.  The gloomy day was darkening into still gloomier evening, and I found the huge pile standing up amid the descending torrents in its ancient graveyard, like some mass of fretted rock-work enveloped in the play of a fountain.  The great door lay open, but I could see little else within than the ranges of antique columns, curiously moulded, and of girth enormous, that separate the aisles from the nave; and, half lost in the blackness, they served to remind me this evening of the shadowy, gigantic colonnades of Martin.  Their Saxon strength wore amid the vagueness of the gloom, an air of Babylonish magnificence.

    The rain was dashing amid the tombstones outside.  One antique slab of blue limestone beside the pathway had been fretted many centuries ago into the rude semblance of a human figure; but the compact mass, unfaithful to its charge, had resigned all save the general outline; the face was worn smooth, and only a few nearly obliterated ridges remained, to indicate the foldings of the robe.  It served to show, in a manner sufficiently striking, how much more indelibly nature inscribes her monuments of the dead than art.  The limestone slab had existed as a churchyard monument for perhaps a thousand years; but the story which it had been sculptured to tell had been long since told for the last time; and whether it had marked out the burial-place of priest or of layman, or what he had been or done, no one could now determine.  But the story of an immensely earlier sepulture—earlier, mayhap, by thrice as many twelvemonths as the thousand years contained days—it continued to tell most distinctly.  It told that, when it had existed as a calcareous mud deep in the Carboniferous ocean, a species of curious zoophyte, long afterwards termed Cyathophyllum fungites, were living and dying by myriads; and it now exhibited on its surface several dozens of them, cut open at every possible angle, and presenting every variety of section, as if to show what sort of creatures they had been.  The glossy wet served as a varnish; and I could see that not only had those larger plates of the skeletons that radiate outwards from the centre been preserved, but even the microscopic reticulations of the cross partitioning.  Never was there ancient inscription held in such faithful keeping by the founder's bronze or the sculptor's marble; and never was there epitaph of human composition so scrupulously just to the real character of the dead.

    I found three guests in the coffee-house in which I lodged—a farmer and his two sons; the farmer still in vigorous middle life; the sons robust and tall; all of them fine specimens of the ruddy, well-built, square-shouldered Englishman.  They had been travelling by the railway, and were now on their return to their farm, which lay little more than two hours' walk away; but so bad was the evening, that they had deemed it advisable to take beds for the night in Durham.  They had evidently a stake in the state of the weather; and as the rain ever and anon pattered against the panes, as if on the eve of breaking them, some one or other of the three would rise to the window, and look moodily out into the storm.  "God help us!" I heard the old farmer ejaculate, as the rising wind shook the casement; "we shall have no harvest at all."  They had had rain, I learned, in this locality, with but partial intermissions, for the greater part of six weeks, and the crops lay rotting on the ground.  In the potatoes served at table I marked a peculiar appearance; they were freckled over by minute circular spots, that bore a ferruginous tinge, somewhat resembling the specks on iron-shot sandstone, and they ate as if but partially boiled.  I asked the farmer whether the affection was a common one in that part of the country.  "Not at all," was the reply: "we never saw it before; but it threatens this year to destroy our potatoes.  The half of mine it has spoiled already, and it spreads among them every day."  It does not seem natural to the species to associate mighty consequences with phenomena that wear a very humble aspect.  The teachings of experience are essentially necessary to show us that the seeds of great events may be little things in themselves; and so I could not see how important a part these minute iron-tinted specks—the work of a microscopic fungus—were to enact in British history.  The old soothsayers professed to read the destinies of the future in very unlikely pages—in the meteoric appearances of the heavens, and in the stars—in the flight and chirping of birds—in the entrails of animals—in many other strange characters besides; and in the remoter districts of my own country I have seen a half-sportive superstition employed in deciphering characters quite as unlikely as those of the old augurs—in the burning of a brace of hazel nuts—in the pulling of a few oaten stalks—in the grounds of a tea-cup—above all, in the Hallowe'en egg, in which, in a different sense from that embodied in the allegory of Cowley,


                                         The curious eye,
Through the firm shell and the thick white may spy
               Years to come a-forming lie,
Close in their sacred secundine asleep


But who could have ever thought of divining over the spotted tubers? or who so shrewd as to have seen in the grouping of their iron-shot specks, Lord John Russell's renunciation of the fixed duty—the conversion to free-trade principles of Sir Robert Peel and his Conservative Ministry—the breaking up into sections of the old Protectionist party—and, in the remote distance, the abolition in Scotland of the law of entail, and in England the ultimate abandonment, mayhap, of the depressing tenant-at-will system?  If one could have read them aright, never did the flight of bird, or the embowelment of beast, indicate so wonderful a story as these same iron-shot tubers.

 
CHAPTER II.


Weather still miserably bad; suited to betray the frequent poverty of English landscape—Gloomy prospects of the agriculturist—Corn-Law League—York; a true sacerdotal city—Cathedral; noble exterior; interior not less impressive; Congreve's sublime Description—Unpardonable solecism—Procession—Dean Cockburn; crusade against the geologists—Cathedral service unworthy of the Cathedral—Walk on the city ramparts—Flat fertility of the surrounding country—The more interesting passages in the history of York supplied by the makers—Robinson Crusoe—Jeanie Deans—Trial of Eugène Aram—Aram's real character widely different from that drawn by the novelist.



    RAIN, rain!—another morning in England, and still no improvement in the weather.  The air, if there was any change at all, felt rather more chill and bleak than on the previous evening; and the shower, in its paroxysms, seemed to beat still heavier on the panes.  I was in no mood to lay myself up in a dull inn, like Washington Irving's stout gentleman, and so took the train for York, in the hope of getting from under the cloud somewhere on its southern side, ere I at least reached the British Channel.  Never, surely, was the north of England seen more thoroughly in dishabille.  The dark woods and thick-set hedge-rows looked blue and dim through the haze, like the mimic woodlands of a half-finished drawing in grey chalk; and, instead of cheering, added but to the gloom of the landscape.  They seemed to act the part of mere sponges that first condensed and then retained the moisture—that became soaked in the shower, and then, when it had passed, continued dispensing their droppings on the rotting sward beneath, until another shower came.  The character of the weather was of a kind suited to betray the frequent poverty of English landscape.  When the sky is clear, and the sun bright, even the smallest and tamest patches of country have their charms.  There is beauty in even a hollow willow pollard fluttering its silvery leaves over its patch of meadow-sedges against the deep blue of the heavens; but in the dull haze and homogeneous light, that was but light and shadow muddled into a neutral tint of grey, one could not now and then help remarking that the entire prospect consisted of but one field and two hedge-rows.

    As we advanced, appearances did not improve.  The wheaten fields exhibited, for their usual golden tint slightly umbered, an ominous tinge of earthy brown; the sullen rivers had risen high over the meadows; and rotting hay-ricks stood up like islands amid the water.  At one place in the line the train had to drag its weary length through foam and spray, up to the wheelaxles, through the overflowings of a neighbouring canal.  The sudden shower came ever and anon beating against the carriage-windows, obscuring yet more the gloomy landscape without; and the passengers were fain to shut close every opening, and to draw their greatcoats and wrappers tightly around them, as if they had been journeying, not in the month of August, scarcely a fortnight after the close of the dog-days, but at Christmas.  I heard among the passengers a few semi-political remarks, suggested by the darkening prospects of the agriculturist.  The Anti-Corn-Law League, with all its formidable equipments had lain for years, as if becalmed in its voyage, a water-logged hulk, that failed to press on towards its port of destination.  One good harvest after another had, as the sailors say, taken the the wind out of its sails; and now here evidently was there a strong gale arising full in its poop.  It was palpably on the eve of making great way in its course; and the few political remarks which I heard bore reference to the fact.  But they elicited no general sympathy.  The scowling heavens, the blackening earth, the swollen rivers, the ever-returning shower-blast, with its sharp ringing patter, were things that had nought of the gaiety of political triumph in them; and the more solid English, however favourable to free trade, could not deem it cause of gratulation that for so many weeks "the sun, and the light, and the stars had been darkened, and the clouds returned after the rain."  The general feeling seemed not inadequately expressed by a staid elderly farmer, with whom I afterwards travelled from York to Manchester.  "I am sure," he said, looking out into the rain, which was beating at the time with great violence—"I am sure I wish the League no harm; but Heaven help its and the country if there is to be no harvest.  The League will have a dear triumph if God destroy the fruits of the earth."

    Old sacerdotal York, with its august Cathedral, its twenty-three churches, in which divine service is still performed, its numerous ecclesiastical ruins besides—monasteries, abbeys, hospitals, and chapels—at once struck me as different from anything I had ever seen before.  St. Andrews, one of the two ancient archiepiscopal towns of Scotland, may have somewhat resembled it on a small scale in the days of old Cardinal Beaton; but the peculiar character of the Scottish Reformation rendered it impossible that the country should possess any such ecclesiastical city ever after.  Modern improvement has here and there introduced more of its commonplace barbarisms into the busier and the genteeler streets than the antiquary would have bargained for; it has been rubbing off the venerable rust, somewhat in the style adopted by the serving-maid who scoured the old Roman buckler with sand and water till it shone; but York is essentially an ancient city still.  One may still walk round it on the ramparts erected in the times of Edward the First, and tell all their towers, bars, and barbicans; and in threading one's way along antique lanes, flanked by domiciles of mingled oak and old brickwork, that belly over like the sides of ships, and were tenanted in the days of the later Henrys, one stumbles unexpectedly on rectories that have their names recorded in Doomsday Book, and churches that were built before the Conquest.  My first walk through the city terminated, as a matter of course, at the Cathedral, so famous for its architectural magnificence and grandeur.  It is a noble pile—one of the sublimest things wrought by human hands which the island contains.  As it rose grey and tall before me in the thickening twilight—for another day had passed, and another evening was falling—I was conscious of a more awe-struck and expansive feeling than any mere work of art had ever awakened in me before.  The impression more resembled what I have sometimes experienced on some solitary ocean shore, o'erhung by dizzy precipices, and lashed high by the foaming surf; or beneath the craggy brow of some vast mountain, that overlooks, amidst the mute sublimities of nature, some far-spread uninhabited wilderness of forest and moor.  I realized, better than ever before, the justice of the eulogium of Thomson on the art of the architect, and recognised it as in reality


The art where most magnificent appears
The little builder man.


It was too late to gain admission to the edifice, and far too late to witness the daily service; and I was desirous to see, not only the stately temple itself, but the worship performed in it.  I spent, however, an hour in wandering round it—in marking the effect on buttress and pinnacle, turret and arch, of the still deepening shadows, and in catching the general outline between me and the sky.  The night had set fairly in long ere I reached my lodging-house.  York races had just begun; and, bad as the weather was, there was so considerable an influx of strangers into the town, that there were few beds in the inns unoccupied, and I had to content myself with the share of a bedroom in which there were two.  My co-partner in the room came in late and went away early; and all I know of him, or shall perhaps ever know, is, that after having first ascertained, not very correctly as it proved, that I was asleep, he prayed long and earnestly; that, as I afterwards learned from the landlord, he was a Wesleyan Methodist, who had come from the country, not to attend the races, for he was not one of the race-frequenting sort of people, but on some business, and that he was much respected in his neighbourhood for the excellence of his character.

    Next morning I attended service in the cathedral; and being, I found, half an hour too early, spent the interval not unpleasantly in pacing the aisles and nave, and studying the stories so doubtfully recorded on the old painted glass.  As I stood at the western door, and saw the noble stone roof stretching away, more than thirty yards overhead, in a long vista of five hundred feet, to the great eastern window, I again experienced the feeling of the previous evening.  Never before had I seen so noble a cover.  The ornate complexities of the groined vaulting—the giant columns, with their foliage-bound capitals, sweeping away in magnificent perspective—the coloured light that streamed through more than a hundred huge windows, and but faintly illumined the vast area after all—the deep withdrawing aisles, with their streets of tombs—the great tower, under which a ship of the line might hoist top and topgallant—mast, and find ample room overhead for the play of her vane—the felt combination of great age and massive durability, that made the passing hour in the history of the edifice but a mere half-way point between the centuries of the past and the centuries of the future—all conspired to render the interior of York Minster one of the most impressive objects I had ever seen.  Johnson singles out Congreve's description of a similar pile as one of the finest in the whole range of English poetry.  It is at least description without exaggeration, in reference to buildings such as this cathedral.


    Almeria.—It was a fancied noise: for all is hushed.
    Leonora.—It bore the accent of a human voice.
    Almeria.—It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
whistling through hollows of this vaulted aisle.
We'll listen—
    Leonora.—Hark !
    Almeria.—No, all is hushed and still as death: 'tis dreadful
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
To bear aloft its arched and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made steadfast and immovable—
Looking tranquillity!   It strikes an awe
And terror on the aching sight: the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to the trembling heart.
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice: my own affrights me with its echoes.


    But though I felt the poetry of the edifice, so little had my Presbyterian education led me to associate the not unelevated impulses of the feeling with the devotional spirit, that, certainly without intending any disrespect to either the national religion or one of the noblest ecclesiastical buildings of England, I had failed to uncover my head, and was quite unaware of the gross solecism I was committing, until two of the officials, who had just ranged themselves in front of the organ screen, to usher the dean and choristers into the choir, started forward, one from each side of the door, and, with no little gesticulatory emphasis, ordered me to take off my hat.  "Off hat, sir! off hat!" angrily exclaimed the one.  "Take off your hat, sir!" said the other, in a steady, energetic, determined tone, still less resistible.  The peccant beaver at once sunk by my side, and I apologized.  "Ah, a Scotchman!" ejaculated the keener official of the two, his cheek meanwhile losing same of the hastily summoned red; "I thought as much."  The officials had scarcely resumed their places beside the screen, when dean and sub-dean, the canons residentialy and the archdeacon, the prebendaries and the vicars choral, entered the building in their robes, and, with step slow and stately, disappeared through the richly-fretted entrance of the choir.  A purple curtain fell over the opening behind them, as the last figure in the procession passed in: while a few lay saunterers, who had come to be edified by the great organ, found access by another door, which opened into one of the aisles.

    The presiding churchman on the occasion was Dean Cockburn—a tall, portly old man, fresh-complexioned and silvery-haired, and better fitted than most men to enact the part of an imposing figure in a piece of impressive ceremony.  I looked at the dean with some little interest: he had been twice before the public during the previous five years—once as a dealer in church offices, for which grave offence he had been deprived by his ecclesiastical superior the archbishop, but reponed by the Queen—and once as a redoubtable assertor of what he deemed Bible cosmogony, against the facts of the geologists.  The old blood-boltered barons who lived in the times of the Crusades used to make all square with Heaven, when particularly aggrieved in their consciences, by slaying a few scores of infidels a-piece;—the dean had fallen, it would seem, in these latter days, on a similar mode of doing penance, and expiated the crime of making canons residentiary for a consideration, by demolishing a whole conclave of geologists.

    The cathedral service seemed rather a poor thing on the whole.  The coldly-read or fantastically-chanted prayers, common-placed by the twice-a-day repetition of centuries—the mechanical responses—the correct inanity of the choristers, who had not even the life of music in them—the total want of lay attendance, for the loungers who had come in by the side-door went off en masse when the organ had performed its introductory part, and the prayers began—the ranges of empty seats, which, huge as is the building which contains them, would scarce accommodate an average-sized Free Church congregation—all conspired to show that the cathedral service of the English Church does not represent a living devotion, but a devotion that perished centuries ago.  It is a petrifaction—a fossil—existing, it is true, in a fine state of keeping, but still an exanimate stone.  Many ages must have elapsed since it was the living devotion I had witnessed on the previous evening in the double-bedded room—if, indeed, it was ever so living a devotion, or aught, at best, save a mere painted image.  Not even as a piece of ceremonial is it in keeping with the august edifice in which it is performed.  The great organ does its part admirably, and is indisputably a noble machine; its thirty-two feet double-wood diapason pipe, cut into lengths, would make coffins for three Goliaths of Gath, brass armour and all: but the merely human part of the performance is redolent of none of the poetry which plays around the ancient walls, or streams through the old painted glass.  It reminded me of the story told by the eastern traveller, who, in exploring a magnificent temple, passed through superb porticoes and noble halls, to find a monkey enthroned in a little dark sanctum, as the god of the whole.

    I had a long and very agreeable walk along the city ramparts.  White watery clouds still hung in the sky; but the day was decidedly fine, and dank fields and glistening hedgerows steamed merrily in the bright warm sunshine.  York, like all the greater towns of England, if we except the capital and some two or three others, stands on the New Red Sandstone; and the broad extent of level fertility which it commands is, to a Scotch eye, very striking.  There is no extensive prospect in even the south of Scotland that does not include its wide ranges of waste, and its deep mountain sides, never furrowed by the plough; while in our more northern districts, one sees from every hill-top which commands the coast, a landscape coloured somewhat like a russet shawl with a flowered border;—there is a mere selvedge of green cultivation on the edge of the land, and all within is brown heath and shaggy forest.  In England, on the contrary, one often travels, stage after stage, through an unvarying expanse of flat fields laid out on the level formations, which, undisturbed by trappean or metamorphic rocks, stretch away at low angles for hundreds of miles together, forming blank tablets, on which man may write his works in whatever characters he pleases.  Doubtless such a disposition of things adds greatly to the wealth and power of a country; the population of Yorkshire, at the last census, equalled that of Scotland in 1801.  But I soon began to weary of an infinity of green enclosures, that lay spread out in undistinguishable sameness, like a net, on the flat face of the landscape, and to long for the wild free moors and bold natural features of my own poor country.  One likes to know the place of one's birth by other than artificial marks—by some hoary mountain, severe yet kindly in its aspect, that one has learned to love as a friend—by some long withdrawing arm of the sea, sublimely guarded, where it opens to the ocean, by its magnificent portals of rock—by some wild range of precipitous coast, that rears high its ivy-bound pinnacles, and where the green wave ever rises and falls along dim resounding caverns—by some lonely glen, with its old pine-forests hanging dark on the slopes, and its deep brown river roaring over linn and shallow in its headlong course to the sea.  Who could fight for a country without features—that one would scarce be sure of finding out on one's return from the battle, without the assistance of the mile-stones?

    As I looked on either hand from the ancient ramparts, now down along the antique lanes and streets of the town, now over the broad level fields beyond, I was amused to think how entirely all my more vivid associations with York—town and country—had been derived from works of fiction.  True, it was curious enough to remember, as a historical fact, that Christianity had been preached here to the pagan Saxons in the earlier years of the Heptarchy, by missionaries from Iona.  And there are not a few other picturesque incidents, that, frosted over with the romance of history, glimmer with a sort of phosphoric radiance in the records of the place—from the times when King Edwyn of the Northumbrians demolished the heathen temple that stood where the Cathedral now stands, and erected in its room the wooden oratory in which he was baptized, down to the times when little crooked Leslie broke over the city walls at the head of his Covenanters, and held them against the monarch, in the name of the King.  But the historical facts have vastly less of the vividness of truth about them than the facts of the makers.  It was in this city of York that the famous Robinson Crusoe was born; and here, in this city of York, did Jeanie Deans rest her for a day, on her London journey, with her hospitable countrywoman, Mrs. Bickerton of the Seven Stars; and it was in the country beyond, down in the West Riding, that Gurth and Wamba held high colloquy together, among the glades of the old oak forest; and that Cedric the Saxon entertained, in his low-browed hall of Rotherwood, the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Prior Aymer of Jorvaulx.

    I visited the old castle, now a prison, and the town museum, and found the geological department of the latter at once very extensive and exquisitely arranged; but the fact, announced in the catalogue, that it had been laid out under the eye of Phillips, while it left me much to admire in the order exhibited, removed at least all cause of wonder.  I concluded the day—the first very agreeable one I had spent in England—by a stroll along the banks of the Ouse, through a colonnade of magnificent beeches.  The sun was hastening to its setting, and the red light fell, with picturesque effect, on the white sails of a handsome brig, that came speeding up the river, through double rows of tall trees, before a light wind from the east.  On my return to my lodging-house, through one of the obscure lanes of the city, I picked up, at a book-stall, what I deemed no small curiosity—the original "Trial of Eugene Aram," well known in English literature as the hero of one of Bulwer's most popular novels, and one of Hood's most finished poems, [Ed.—The Dream of Eugene Aram] and for as wonderful a thing as either, his own remarkable defence.  I had never before seen so full an account of the evidence on which he was condemned, nor of the closing scene in his singular history; nor was I aware there existed such competent data for forming an adequate estimate of his character, which, by the way, seems to have been not at all the character drawn by Bulwer.  Knaresborough, the scene of Aram's crime, may be seen from the battlements of York Minster.  In York Castle he was imprisoned, and wrote his Defence and his Autobiography; at York Assizes he was tried and convicted; and on York gallows he was hung.  The city is as intimately associated with the closing scenes in his history, as with the passing visit of Jeanie Deans, or the birth of Robinson Crusoe.  But there is this important difference in the cases, that the one story has found a place in literature from the strangely romantic cast of its facts, and the others from the intensely truthful air of their fictions.

    Eugene Aram seems not to have been the high heroic character conceived by the novelist—not a hero of tragedy at all, nor a hero of any kind, but simply a poor egotistical littéateur, with a fine intellect set in a very inferior nature.  He represents the extreme type of unfortunately a numerous class—the men of vigorous talent, in some instances of fine genius, who, though they can think much and highly of themselves, seem wholly unable to appreciate their true place and work, or the real dignity of their standing, and so are continually getting into false, unworthy positions—in some instances falling into little meannesses, in others into contemptible crimes.  I am afraid it is all too evident that even the sage Bacon belonged to this class; and there can be little doubt that, though greatly less a criminal, the elegant and vigorous poet who described him as


"The greatest, wisest, meanest of mankind,"


belonged to it also.  The phosphoric light of genius that throws so radiant a gloom athwart the obscurities of nature, has in some cases been carried by a frivolous insect, in some by a creeping worm: there are brilliant intellects of the fire-fly and of the glow-worm class; and poor Eugene Aram was one of them.  In his character, as embodied in the evidence on which he was convicted and condemned, we see merely that of a felon of the baser sort—a man who associated with low companions, married a low wife, entered into low sharping schemes with a poor dishonest creature whom, early in his career, he used to accompany at nights in stealing flower-roots—for they possessed in common a taste for gardening—and whom he afterwards barbarously murdered, to possess himself of a few miserable pounds, the proceeds of a piece of disreputable swindling, to which he had prompted him. Viewing him, however, in another phase, we find that this low felon possessed one of those vigorous intellectual natures that, month after month, and year after year, steadily progress in acquirement—as the forest-tree swells in bulk of trunk and amplitude of bough—till at length, with scarce any educational advantages, there was no learned language which he had not mastered, and scarce a classic author which he had not read.  And, finally, when the learned felon came to make his defence, all Britain was astonished by a piece of pleading that, for the elegance of the composition and the vigour of the thought, would have done no discredit to the most accomplished writers of the day.  The defence of Eugene Aram, if given to the public among the defences, and under the name of Thomas Lord Erskine, so celebrated for this species of composition, would certainly not be deemed unworthy of the collection of its author.  There can be no question that the Aram of Bulwer is a well-drawn character, and rich in the picturesque of tragic effect; but the exhibition is neither so melancholy nor so instructive as that of the Eugene Aram who was executed at York for murder in the autumn of 1759, and his body afterwards hung in chains at "the place called St. Robert's Cave, near Knaresborough."


 
CHAPTER III.


Quit York for Manchester—A character—Quaker lady—Peculiar feature in the husbandry of the cloth district—Leeds—Simplicity manifested in the geologic framework of English scenery—The denuding agencies almost invariably the sole architects of the landscape—Manchester; characteristic peculiarities; the Irwell; collegiate church light and elegant proportions of the building; its grotesque sculptures; these indicative of the scepticism of the age in which they were produced—St. Bartholomew's day—Sermon on Saints' day—Timothy's grandmother—The Puseyite a Highchurch-man become earnest—Passengers of a Sunday-evening train—Sabbath amusement not very conducive to happiness—The economic value of the Sabbath ill understood by the utilitarian—Testimony of history on the point.



ON the following morning I quitted York for Manchester, taking Leeds in my way.  I had seen two of the ecclesiastical cities of Old England, and I was now desirous to visit two of the great trading towns of the modern country, so famous for supplying with its manufactures half the economic wants of the world.

    At the first stage from York we were joined by a young lady passenger, of forty or thereabouts, evidently a character.  She was very gaudily dressed, and very tightly laced, and had a bloom of red in her cheeks that seemed to have been just a little assisted by art, and a bloom of red in her nose that seemed not to have been assisted by art at all.  Alarmingly frank and portentously talkative, she at once threw herself for protection and guidance on "the gentlemen."   She had to get down at one of the intermediate stages, she said; but were she to be so unlucky as to pass it, she would not know what to do—she would be at her wit's end; but she trusted she would not be permitted to pass it; she threw herself upon the generosity of the gentlemen—she always did, indeed; and she trusted the generous gentlemen would inform her, when she came to her stage, that it was time for her to get out.  I had rarely seen, except in old play-books, written when our dramatists of the French school were drawing ladies'-maids of the time of Charles the Second, a character of the kind quite so stage-like in its aspect; and in a quiet way was enjoying the exhibition.  And the passenger who sat fronting me in the carriage—an elderly lady of the Society of Friends—was, I found, enjoying it quite as much and as quietly as myself.  A countenance of much transparency, that had been once very pretty, exhibited at every droll turn in the dialogue the appropriate expression.  Remarking to a gentleman beside me that good names were surely rather a scant commodity in England, seeing they had not a few towns and rivers, which, like many of the American ones, seemed to exist in duplicate and triplicate—they had three Newcastles, and four Stratfords, and at least two river Ouses—I asked him how I could travel most directly by railway to Cowper's Ouse.  He did not know, he said; he had never heard of a river Ouse except the Yorkshire one, which I had just seen.  The Quaker lady supplied me with the information I wanted, by pointing out the best route to Olney; and the circumstance led to a conversation which only terminated at our arrival at Leeds.  I found her possessed, like many of the Society of Friends, whom Howitt so well describes, of literary taste, conversational ability, and extensive information; and we expatiated together over a wide range.  We discussed English poets and poetry; compared notes regarding our critical formulas and canons, and found them wonderfully alike; beat over the Scottish Church question, and some dozen or so other questions besides; and at parting, she invited me to visit her at her house in Bedfordshire, within half a day's journey of Olney.  She was at present residing with a friend, she said, but she would be at home in less than a fortnight; and there was much in her neighbourhood which, she was sure, it would give me pleasure to see.  I was unable ultimately to avail myself of her kindness; but in the hope that these chapters may yet meet her eye, I must be permitted to reiterate my sincere thanks for her frank and hospitable invitation.  The frankness struck me at the time as characteristically English; while the hospitality associated well with all I had previously known of the Society of Friends.

    I marked, in passing on to Leeds, a new feature in the husbandry of the district—whole fields of teazels, in flower at the time, waving grey in the breeze.  They indicated that I was approaching the great centre of the cloth trade in England.  The larger heads of this plant, bristling over with their numerous minute hooks, are employed as a kind of brushes or combs for raising the nap of the finer broad-cloths; and it seems a curious enough circumstance, that in this mechanical age, so famous for the ingenuity and niceness of its machines, no effort of the mechanician has as yet enabled him to supersede, or even to rival, this delicate machine of nature's making.  I failed to acquaint myself very intimately with Leeds: the rain had again returned, after a brief interval of somewhat less than two days; and I saw, under cover of my old friend the umbrella, but the outsides of the two famous Cloth Halls of the place, where there are more woollen stuffs bought and sold than in any other dozen buildings in the world; and its long up-hill street of shops, with phlegmatic Queen Anne looking grimly adown the slope, from her niche of dingy sandstone.  On the following morning, which was wet and stormy as ever, I took the railway train for Manchester, which I reached a little after mid-day.

    In passing through Northumberland, I had quitted the hilly district when I quitted the Mountain Limestone and Millstone Grit; and now, in travelling on to Manchester, I had, I found, again got into a mountainous, semi-pastoral country.  There were deep green valleys, traversed by lively tumbling streams, that opened on either hand among the hills; and the course of the railway train was, for a time, one of great vicissitude—now elevated high on an embankment—now burrowing deep in a tunnel.  It is, the traveller finds, the same Millstone Grit and Mountain Limestone which form the hilly regions of Northumberland, that give here their hills and valleys to Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire; and that, passing on to Derby, in the general south-western range of the English formations, compose the Peak, so famous for its many caves and chasms, with all the picturesque groups of eminences that surround it.  There are few things which so strike the Scotch geologist who visits England for the first time, as the simplicity with which he finds he can resolve the varying landscape into its geologic elements.  The case is different in Scotland, where he has to deal, in almost every locality, with both the denuding and the Plutonic agents, and where, as in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, many independent centres of internal action, grouped closely together, connect the composition of single prospects with numerous and very varied catastrophes.  But in most English landscapes one has to deal with the denuding agents alone.  In passing along an open sea-coast, in which strata of the Secondary or Palæozoic formations have been laid bare, one finds that the degree of prominence exhibited by the bars and ridges of rock exposed to the waves corresponds always with their degree of tenacity and hardness.  A bed of soft shale or clay we find represented by a hollow trough; the surf has worn it down till it can no longer be seen, and a strip of smooth gravel rests over it; a stratum of sandstone, of the average solidity, rises above the hollow like a mole, for the waves have failed to wear the sandstone down; while a band of limestone or chert we find rising still higher, because still better suited, from its great tenacity, to resist the attrition of the denuding agents.  And such on a great scale, is the principle of what one may term the geologic framework of English landscape.  The softer formations of the country we find represented, like the shale-beds on the shore by wide flat valleys or extensive plains; the harder, by chains of hills of greater or lesser altitude, according to the degree of solidity possessed by the composing material.  A few insulated districts of country, such as part of North Wales, Westmoreland, and Cornwall, where the Plutonic agencies have been active, we find coming under the more complex law of Scottish landscape; but in all the rest—save where here and there a minute trappean patch imparts its inequalities to the surface, as in the Dudley coal-field—soft or hard, solid or incoherent, determines the question of high or low, bold or tame.  Here, for instance, is a common map of England, on which the eminences are marked, but not the geologic formations.  These, however, we may almost trace by the chains of hills, or from the want of them.  This hilly region, for instance, which extends from the northern borders of Northumberland to Derby, represents the Millstone Grit and Mountain Limestone—solid deposits of indurated sandstone and crystalline lime, that stand up amid the landscape like the harder strata on the wave-'worn sea-coast.  On both sides of this mountainous tract there are level plains of vast extent, that begin to form on the one side near Newcastle, and at Lancaster on the other, and which, uniting at Wirksworth, sweep on to the Bristol Channel in the diagonal line of the English formations.  These level plains represent the yielding semi-coherent New Red Sandstone of England.  The denuding agents have worn it down in the way we find the soft shale-beds worn down on the seashore.  On the West we see it flanked by the Old Red Sandstone and Silurian systems of Wales and western England—formations solid enough to form a hilly country; and on the east, by a long hilly line, that, with little interruption, traverses the island diagonally from Whitby on the Yorkshire coast, to Lyme-Regis on the English Channel.  This elevated line traverses longitudinally the Oolitic formation, and owes its existence to those coralline reefs and firm calcareous sandstones of the system that are so extensively used by the architect.  Another series of hilly ridges, somewhat more complicated in their windings, represent the Upper and Lower Chalk; while the softer Weald, Gault, Greensand, and Tertiary deposits, we find existing as level plains or wide shallow valleys.  In most of our geologic maps the hill-ranges are not indicated; but in a country such as England, where these are so palpably a joint result of the geologic formations, and the denuding agencies, the omission is surely a defect.

    Manchester I found as true a representative of the great manufacturing town of modern England, as York of the old English ecclesiastical city.  One receives one's first intimation of its existence from the lurid gloom of the atmosphere that overhangs it.  There is a murky blot in one section of the sky, however clear the weather, which broadens and heightens as we approach, until at length it seems spread over half the firmament.  And now the innumerable chimneys come in view, tall and dim in the dun haze, each bearing a-top its own troubled pennon of darkness.  And now we enter the suburbs, and pass through mediocre streets of brick, that seem as if they had been built wholesale by contract within the last half-dozen years.  These humble houses are the homes of the operative manufacturers.  The old wall of York, built in the reign of Edward the First, still encloses the city;—the antique suit of armour made for it six hundred years ago, though the fit be somewhat of the tightest, buckles round it still.  Manchester, on the other hand, has been doubling its population every half century for the last hundred and fifty years; and the cord of cotton twist that would have girdled it at the beginning of the great revolutionary war, would do little more than half girdle it now.  The field of Peterloo, on which the yeomanry slashed down the cotton-workers assembled to hear Henry Hunt—poor, lank jawed men, who would doubtless have manifested less interest in the nonsense of the orator, had they been less hungry at the time—has been covered with brick for the last ten years.

    As we advance, the town presents a new feature.  We see whole streets of warehouses—dead, dingy, gigantic buildings—barred out from the light; and, save where here and there a huge waggon stands, lading or unlading under the mid-air cranes, the thoroughfares, and especially the numerous cul-de-sacs, have a solitary, half-deserted air.  But the city clocks have just struck one—the dinner hour of the labouring English; and in one brief minute two-thirds of the population of the place have turned out into the streets.  The rush of the human tide is tremendous—headlong and arrowy as that of a Highland river in flood, or as that of a water-spout just broken amid the hills, and at once hurrying adown a hundred different ravines.  But the outburst is short as fierce.  We have stepped aside into some door-way, or out towards the centre of some public square; to be beyond the wind of such commotion; and in a few minutes all is over, and the streets even more quiet and solitary than before.  There is an air of much magnificence about the public buildings devoted to trade; and the larger shops wear the solid aspect of a long-established business.  But nothing seems more characteristic of the great manufacturing city, though disagreeably so, than the river Irwell, which runs through the place, dividing it into a lesser and larger town, that, though they bear different names, are essentially one.  The hapless river—a pretty enough stream a few miles higher up, with trees overhanging its banks, and fringes of green sedge set thick along its edges—loses caste as it gets among the mills and the printworks.  There are myriads of dirty things given it to wash, and whole waggon-loads of poisons from dye-houses and bleachyards thrown into it to carry away; steam-boilers discharge into it their seething contents, and drains and sewers their fetid impurities; till at length it rolls on—here between tall dingy walls, there under precipices of red sandstone—considerably less a river than a flood of liquid manure, in which all life dies, whether animal or vegetable, and which resembles nothing in nature, except, perhaps, the stream thrown out in eruption by some mud-volcano.  In passing along where the river sweeps by the old Collegiate Church, I met a party of town-police dragging a female culprit—delirious, dirty, and in drink—to the police office; and I bethought me of the well-known comparison of Cowper, beginning,


Sweet stream, that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid,—


of the maudlin woman not virtuous and of the Irwell.  According to one of the poets, contemporary with him of Olney, slightly altered,


In spite of fair Zelinda's charms,
    And all her bards express,
Poor Lyce made as true a stream,
    And I but flatter'd less.


    I spent in Manchester my first English Sabbath; and as I had crossed the border; not to see countrymen nor to hear such sermons as I might hear every Sunday at home, I went direct to the Collegiate Church.  This building, a fine specimen of the florid Gothic, dates somewhere about the time when the Council of Constance was deposing Pope John for his enormous crimes, and burning John Huss and Jerome of Prague for their wholesome opinions; and when, though Popery had become miserably worn out as a code of belief, the revived religion of the New Testament could find no rest for the sole of its foot, amid a wide weltering flood of practical infidelity and epicurism in the Church, and gross superstition and ignorance among the laity.  And the architecture, and numerous sculptures of the pile, bear meet testimony to the character of the time.  They approve themselves the productions of an age in which the priest, engaged in his round of rite and ceremony, could intimate knowingly to a brother priest, without over-much exciting lay suspicion, that he knew his profession to be but a joke.  Some of the old Cartularies curiously indicate this state of matters.  "The Cartulary of Moray," says an ingenious writer in the North British Review, "contains the Constitutiones Lyncolnienses, inserted as proper rules for the priests of that northern province, from which we learn that they were to enter the place of worship, not with insolent looks, but decently and in order; and were to be guilty of no laughing, or of attempting the perpetration of any base jokes (turpi risu aut joco), and at the same time to conduct their whisperings in an under tone.  A full stomach, however, is not the best provocative to lively attention; and it is therefore far from wonderful that the fathers dosed.  Ingenuity provided a remedy even for this; and the curious visitor will find in the niches of the ruined walls of the ecclesiastical edifices of other days, oscillating seats, which turn upon a pivot, and require the utmost care of the sitter to keep steady.  The poor monk who would dare to indulge in one short nap would, by this most cruel contrivance, be thrown forward upon the stone-floor of the edifice, to the great danger of his neck, and be covered, at the same time, with tile 'base laughter and joking' of his brethren."

    Externally, the Collegiate Church is sorely wasted and much blackened; and, save at some little distance, its light and elegant proportions fail to tell.  The sooty atmosphere of the place has imparted to it its own dingy hue; while the soft, new red sandstone of which it is built has resigned all the nicer tracery intrusted to its keeping, to the slow wear of the four centuries which have elapsed since the erection of the edifice.  But, in the interior, all is fresh and sharp as when the field of Bosworth was stricken.  What first impresses as unusual is the blaze of light which fills the place.  For the expected dim solemnity of an old ecclesiastical edifice one finds the full glare of a modern assembly-room; the day-light streams in through numerous windows, mullioned with slim shafts of stone, curiously intertwisted a-top, and plays amid tall slender columns, arches of graceful sweep, and singularly elegant groinings, that shoot out their clusters of stony branches, light and graceful as the expanding boughs of some lime or poplar grove.  The air of the place is gay, not solemn; nor are the subjects of its numerous sculptures of a kind suited to deepen the impression.  Not a few of the carvings which decorate every patch of wall are of the most ludicrous character.  Rows of grotesque heads look down into the nave from the spandrels; some twist their features to the one side of the face, some to the other; some wink hard, as if exceedingly in joke; some troll out their tongue; some give expression to a lugubrious mirth, others to a ludicrous sorrow.  In the choir—of course a still holier part of the edifice than the nave—the sculptor seems to have let his imagination altogether run riot.  In one compartment there sits, with a birch over his shoulder, an old fox, stern of aspect as Goldsmith's schoolmaster, engaged in teaching two cubs to read.  In another, a respectable-looking boar, elevated on his hind legs, is playing on the bagpipe, while his hopeful family, four young pigs, are dancing to his music behind their trough.  In yet another there is a hare, contemplating with evident satisfaction a boiling pot, which contains a dog in a fair way of becoming tender.  But in yet another the priestly designer seems to have lost sight of prudence and decorum altogether: the chief figure in the piece is a monkey administering extreme unction to a dying man, while a party of other monkeys are plundering the poor sufferer of his effects, and gobbling up his provisions.  A Scotch Highlander's faith in the fairies is much less a reality now than it has been; but few Scotch Highlanders would venture to take such liberties with their neighbours the "good people," as the old ecclesiastics of Manchester took with the services of their religion.

    It is rather difficult for a stranger in such a place to follow with strict attention the lesson of the day.  To the sermon, however, which was preached in a surplice, I found it comparatively easy to listen.  The Sabbath—a red-letter one—was the twice famous St. Bartholomew's day, associated in the history of Protestantism with the barbarous massacre of the French Huguenots, and in the history of Puritanism with the ejection of the English nonconforming ministers after the Restoration; and the sermon was a laboured defence of saints' days in general, and of the claims of St. Bartholomew's day in particular.  There was not a very great deal known of St. Bartholomew, said the clergyman; but this much at least we all know—he was a good man—an exceedingly good man: it would be well for us to be all like him; and it was evidently our duty to be trying to be as like him as we could.  As for saints' days there could be no doubt about them: they were very admirable things; they had large standing in tradition, as might be seen from ecclesiastical history and the writings of the later fathers; and large standing, too, in the Church of England—a fact which no one acquainted with "our excellent Prayer-Book" could in the least question; nay, it would seem as if they had even some standing in Scripture itself.  Did not St. Paul remind Timothy of the faith that had dwelt in Lois and Eunice, his grandmother and mother? and had we not therefore a good scriptural argument for keeping saints' days, seeing that Timothy must have respected the saint his grandmother?  I looked round me to see how the congregation was taking all this, but the congregation bore the tranquil air of people quite used to such sermons.  There were a good many elderly gentlemen who had dropped asleep, and a good many more who seemed speculating in cotton; but the general aspect was one of heavy inattentive decency: there was, in short, no class of countenances within the building that bore the appropriate expression, save the stone countenances on the wall.

    My fellow-guests in the coffee-house in which I lodged were, an English Independent, a man of some intelligence, and a young Scotchman, a member of the Relief body.  They had been hearing, they told me, an excellent discourse, in which the preacher had made impressive allusion to the historic associations of the day; in especial, to the time


"When good Coligny's hoary hair was dabbled all in blood."


I greatly tickled them by giving them, in turn, a simple outline, without note or comment, of the sermon I had been hearing.  The clergyman from whom it emanated, maugre his use of the surplice in the pulpit, and his zeal for saints' days, was, I was informed, not properly a Puseyite, but rather one of the class of stiff High Churchmen that germinate into Puseyites when their creed becomes vital within them.  For the thorough High Churchman bears, it would appear, the same sort of resemblance to the energetic Puseyite, that a dried bulb in the florist's drawer does to a bulb of the same species in his flower-garden, when swollen with the vegetative juices, and rich in leaf and flower.  It is not always the most important matters that take the strongest hold of the mind.  The sermon and the ludicrous carvings, linked as closely together by a trick of the associative faculty, as Cruickshank's designs in Oliver Twist with the letter-press of Dickens, continued to haunt me throughout the evening.

    I lodged within a stone-cast of the terminus of the Great Manchester and Birmingham Railway.  I could hear the roaring of the trains along the line, from morning till near mid-day, and during the whole afternoon; and, just as the evening was setting in, I sauntered down to the gate by which a return train was discharging its hundreds of passengers, fresh from the Sabbath amusements of the country, that I might see how they looked.  There did not seem much of enjoyment about the wearied and somewhat draggled groups; they wore, on the contrary, rather an unhappy physiognomy, as if they had missed spending the day quite to their minds, and were now returning, sad and disappointed, to the round of toil, from which it ought to have proved a sweet interval of relief.  A congregation just dismissed from hearing a vigorous evening discourse would have borne, to a certainty, a more cheerful air.  There was not much actual drunkenness among the crowd—thanks to the preference which the Englishman gives to his ale over ardent spirits—not a tithe of what I would have witnessed, on a similar occasion, in my own country.  A few there were, however, evidently muddled; and I saw one positive scene.  A young man considerably in liquor had quarrelled with his mistress, and, threatening to throw himself into the Irwell, off he had bolted in the direction of the river.  There was a shriek of agony from the young woman, and a cry of "Stop him, stop him," to which a tall bulky Englishman, of the true John Bull type, had coolly responded, by thrusting forth his foot as he passed, and tripping him at full length on the pavement; and for a few minutes all was hubbub and confusion.  With, however, this exception, the aspect of the numerous passengers had a sort of animal decency about it, which one might in vain look for among the Sunday travellers on a Scotch railway.  Sunday seems greatly less connected with the fourth commandment in the humble English mind than in that of Scotland, and so a less disreputable portion of the people go abroad.  There is a considerable difference, too, between masses of men simply ignorant of religion, and masses of men broken loose from it; and the Sabbath-contemning Scotch belong to the latter category.  With the humble Englishman trained up to no regular habit of church-going, Sabbath is pudding-day, and clean-shirt day, and a day for lolling on the grass opposite the sun, and, if there be a river or canal hard by, for trying how the gudgeons bite, or, if in the neighbourhood of a railway, for taking a short trip to some country inn, famous for its cakes and ale; but to the humble Scot become English in his Sabbath views, the day is, in most cases, a time of sheer recklessness and dissipation.  There is much truth in the shrewd remark of Sir Walter Scott, that the Scotch, once metamorphosed into Englishmen, make very mischievous Englishmen indeed.

    Among the existing varieties of the genus philanthropist—benevolent men bent on bettering the condition of the masses—there is a variety who would fain send out our working people to the country on Sabbaths, to become happy and innocent in smelling primroses, and stringing daisies on grass stalks.  An excellent scheme theirs, if they but knew it, for sinking a people into ignorance and brutality—for filling a country with gloomy workhouses, and the workhouses with unhappy paupers.  'Tis pity rather that the institution of the Sabbath, in its economic bearings, should not be better understood by the utilitarian.  The problem which it furnishes is not particularly difficult, if one could be but made to understand, as a first step in the process, that it is really worth solving.  The mere animal that has to pass six days of the week in hard labour, benefits greatly by a seventh day of mere animal rest and enjoyment: the repose according to its nature proves of signal use to it, just because it is repose according to its nature.  But man is not a mere animal: what is best for the ox and the ass is plot best for him; and in order to degrade him into a poor unintellectual slave, over whom tyranny, in its caprice, may trample rough-shod, it is but necessary to tie him down, animal-like, during his six working days to hard engrossing labour, and to convert the seventh into a day of frivolous, unthinking relaxation.  History speaks with much emphasis on the point.  The old despotic Stuarts were tolerable adepts in the art of kingcraft, and knew well what they were doing when they backed with their authority the Book of Sports.  The merry unthinking serfs, who, early in the reign of Charles the First, danced on Sabbaths round the maypole, were afterwards the ready tools of despotism, and fought that England might be enslaved.  The Ironsides, who, in the cause of civil and religious freedom, bore them down, were stanch Sabbatarians.

    In no history, however, is the value of the Sabbath more strikingly illustrated than in that of the Scotch people during the seventeenth and the larger portion of the eighteenth centuries.  Religion and the Sabbath were their sole instructors, and this in times so little favourable to the cultivation of mind, so darkened by persecution and stained with blood, that, in at least the earlier of these centuries, we derive our knowledge of the character and amount of the popular intelligence mainly from the death-testimonies of our humbler martyrs, here and there corroborated by the incidental evidence of writers such as Burnet. [2]  In these noble addresses from prison and scaffold—the composition of men drafted by oppression almost at random from out the general mass—we see how vigorously our Presbyterian people had learned to think, and how well to give their thinking expression.  In the quieter times which followed the Revolution, the Scottish peasantry existed as at once the most provident and intellectual in Europe; and a moral and instructed people pressed outwards beyond the narrow bounds of their country, and rose into offices of trust and importance in all the nations of the world.  There were no Societies for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in those days.  But the Sabbath was kept holy: it was a day from which every dissipating frivolity was excluded by a stern sense of duty.  The popular mind, with weight imparted to it by its religious earnestness, and direction by the pulpit addresses of the day, expatiated on matters of grave import, of which the tendency was to concentrate and strengthen, not scatter and weaken, the faculties; and the secular cogitations of the week came to bear, in consequence, a Sabbath-day stamp of depth and solidity.  The one day in the seven struck the tone for the other six.  Our modern apostles of popular instruction rear up no such men among the masses as were developed under the Sabbatarian system in Scotland.  Their aptest pupils prove but the loquacious gabbers of their respective workshops—shallow superficialists, that bear on the surface of their minds a thin diffusion of ill-remembered facts and crude theories; and rarely indeed do we see them rising in the scale of society: they become Socialists by hundreds, and Chartists by thousands, and get no higher.  The disseminator of mere useful knowledge takes aim at the popular ignorance; but his inept and unscientific gunnery does not include in its calculations the parabolic curve of man's spiritual nature; and so, aiming direct at the mark, he aims too low; and the charge falls short.



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NOTES.

 
1.    Some of the operations of the Romans in Scotland have, like the catastrophes of the old geologic periods, left permanent marks on the face of the country.  It is a curious fact, that not a few of our southern Scottish mosses owe their origin to the Roman invasion.  Of their lower tiers of trees—those which constituted the nucleus of the peaty formation—many have been found still bearing the marks of the Roman hatchet—a thin-edged tool, somewhat like that of the American woodsman, but still narrower.  In some instances the axe-head, sorely wasted, has been detected still sticking in the buried stump, which is generally found to have been cut several feet over the soil, just where the tool might be plied with most effect; and in many, Roman utensils and coins have been discovered, where they have been hastily laid down by the soldiery among the tangled brushwood, and forthwith covered up and lost.  Rennie, in his "Essay on Peat Moss," furnishes an interesting list of these curiosities, that tell so significant a story.  "In Ponsill Moss, near Glasgow," he says, "a leathern bag, containing about two hundred silver coins of Rome, was found: in Dundaff Moor, a number of similar coins were found about forty years ago; in Annan Moss, near the Roman Causeway, an ornament of pure gold was discovered; a Roman camp kettle was found, eight feet deep, under a moss, on the estate of Ochtertyre; in Flanders Moss a similar utensil was found; a Roman jug was found in Locker Moss, Dumfries-shire; a pot and decanter, of Roman copper, was found in a moss in Kirkmichael parish in the same county and two vessels, of Roman bronze, in the Moss of Glanderhill, in Strathaven."  And thus the list runs on.  It is not difficult to conceive how, in the circumstances, mosses came to be formed.  The felled wood was left to rot on the surface; small streams were choked up in the levels; pools formed in the hollows; the soil beneath, shut up from the light and the air, became unfitted to produce its former vegetation: but a new order of plants—the thick water-mosses—began to spring up; one generation budded and decayed over the ruins of another; and what had been an overturned forest became, in the course of years, a deep morass—an unsightly but permanent monument of the formidable invader.
 
2.    Burnet, afterwards the celebrated Whig Bishop, was one of six divines sent out by Archbishop Leighton in 1670 to argue the Scotch people into Episcopacy.  But the mission was by no means successful.  "The people of the country," says Burnet, "came generally to hear us, though not in great crowds.  We were indeed amazed to see a poor commonalty so capable to argue upon points of government, and on the bounds to be set to the power of princes in matters of religion.  Upon all these topics they had tests of Scripture at hand, and were ready with their answers to anything that was said to them.  This measure of knowledge was spread even among the meanest of them—their cottagers and their servants:'—(Memoirs, vol. i. p. 431.)

 


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