« AnteriorContinuar »
either a theologian or an antiquary, so that he did not impart to us much learned information; but his civil attentions, old English plainness, and hospitable disposition, fully made amends for this deficiency.
Stoneleigh Abbey is one of the Warwickshire lions; but the mansion was under repair, and we did not enter it. Knowing that the building was originally founded for a fraternity of Cistertian monks, I had pictured to myself a more ancient and complicated pile, so that the uniform, monotonous front, with its manifold windows, plain door-way, and flight of a dozen steps, somewhat disappointed me. Very little of the original building now remains.
The motto over the high iron gate, at the entrance of the garden, Tout vient de Dieu, "All comes from God," disposes the mind of the visitor to indulge in sober reflection. The head gardener, a Scotchman, seemed to regard with great complacency the fair flowers and goodly shrubs that he had watched and watered with so much care; and they certainly did great credit to his skill. The river rolls its deep waters considerably below the garden level; and the noble oaks in the park, across the stream, spread a grateful and majestic solemnity around.
On returning from the Abbey, the gardener accompanied us some distance across the park, to show us the Stoneleigh oak, the noblest of the forest trees within our view. Its stem was about twenty-seven feet in girth, disproportionately large to the projecting branches above. It was, however, a noble tree. Though time had been,
"when settling on its leaf,
A fly could shake it to its root."
While gazing with admiration on the forest king, a party of workmen returning from their labour passed by, and began to tell us of a yet more wonderful oak, in another part of the park; but they were in their cups, so that we did not believe them. They carried their naked scythes carelessly across their shoulders; and as they reeled, first on one side and then on another, it was impossible not to fear that an accident might ensue. If intemperate men would only reflect how frequently and how mercifully they are preserved from danger in seasons of reckless intemperance, it might lead them to greater circumspection.
Among so many sources of pleasure, these rural rambles were truly delightful. How grateful it was to look around from the uplands on
the towers and spires of churches, the habitations of men, the homesteads of the hospitable rich, and the cottages of the industrious poor; the distant team, the lowing cattle, and the bleating flock! The varied heavens, the cheerful midday beam, the grateful shade of the wide spread trees, the healthful breeze, the corn in the fields, waving like the billows of the sea, and the shadow of the passing clouds gradually covering the valleys and running up the distant hills, all in their turn contributed to our enjoyment. And then the wild warbling of the feathery tribe; the insect world on the wing and on the grass; the diversified trees, shrubs, and flowers; and the tangled mass of vegetable beauty seen in the hedge rows, the ditches, and the secluded pools. These, with a consciousness of added health and strength, a sensible increase of happiness, and an overflowing thankfulness of heart to the Father of mercies, for his boundless liberality and goodness, were some of the manifold gratifications of Old Humphrey in his trip to Leamington.
THE LAKES OF CUMBERLAND
THE homeless wanderer, who goes abroad through necessity, or with the forlorn hope of bettering his condition; the ruined spendthrift; or the imprudent and penniless outcast,
The world's regard, that soothes, though half untrue;
And found no pity when it err'd no more ;"
in roaming these northern counties, must, of necessity, find the keen bracing air of the mountain and the moor often provoking a most inconvenient appetite. The case, however, is far different with him who visits these interesting counties in search of pleasure. To him, hunger is a boon, a benefit, a luxury; for he has wherewith to satisfy his necessities, and he finds
That every want that stimulates the breast,
It is so with me! With health, a buoyant spirit, and a thankful heart, I am roaming from one fairy scene to another, repairing, when it suits me, to the nearest village inn, to satisfy my hunger and to slake my thirst.
Truly, I have a goodly treat before me; for not only do I mean to visit the lakes, and climb, old as I am, many of the mountains of this delightful neighbourhood-Skiddaw, Helvellyn, and Saddleback-but also to explore what vestiges are yet to be found of the old Roman wall, from sea to sea. I purpose to ramble, by degrees, from Carlisle to Newcastle; nay, even to set my foot in "bonnie Scotland;" but I am babbling about distant scenes, instead of describing those which are before me.
Westmoreland presents a bold and sterile aspect its mountains are many; its moors bleak and barren: and its waterfalls, in the rainy seasons, without number. Stone walls form the boundaries of its enclosures, instead of hedges; and not only walls, but barns, and even houses, are constructed of loose stones, irregular in form and size, with no cement whatever, the gravity of the stones, and the compactness with which they are placed together, rendering them sufficiently strong and durable. The manner of procuring slate is worthy of attention.