Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

239.

NOTTINGHAM and cheerful qualities of which have not only rendered it the subject of song, but have long made it famous throughout the kingdom! The market-place is one of the largest and best supplied in England.

In this town are three parish churches. St. Mary's is in the form of a cathedral, and has a grand appearance from almost every part of the surrounding country. The church is decorated by neat marble monuments; those costly emblems of mortality.

The dissenters here are numerous, and have several places of worship. That on the Highpavement is spacious, and some of the first families in the town belong to it. It is likewise ancient, and part of its interior bears a reference to those unhappy times in the reign of the Stuarts, when conscientious individuals suffered for their nonconformity. May the existence of such a period never again disgrace the annals of Britain. The Presbyterians have pulled down this old place, and built a neat chapel, which has been since opened for public worship.

A vast quantity of stockings is made in this town, and the whizzing of the frames, issuing from every quarter, as you walk along the streets, gives rise to singular emotions. At first it reminds you of some animal indignantly hissing at the passing stranger ; but when explained to you it forms a pleasing indication of that industry by which thousands are supported. Such a recollection is grateful to our sensibility.

240

MORTIMER'S HOLE. The town-hall is a noble edifice, supported by pillars in the Tuscan order. The sessions and assizes are held here, but it is said that this edifice owes its existence to an accident. The story stands thus : In the reign of George the First, Powis, one of the justices of the King's Bench, being here on the assizes, was delivering his charge to the grand jury, when one of the beams gave way! All the people ran out of court, amongst whom was the sheriff, who took to his heels, crying out, 6. Will nobody take care of the judge ?” Justice Powis, who was aged and infirm, made shift to hobble off the bench, and as soon as he found himself in safety, ordered the town to be fined a considerable sum for not keeping the hall in repair. From that circumstance, and an absolute rule from the Court of King's Bench, the inhabitants were under the necessity of erecting the present structure, which is executed in a manner that there is no reason to fear the judges will be under a necessity of hobbling out on a similar occasion !

It only remains to notice the Castle, which presents a singular appearance, being erected on the summit of a lofty rock. Here is a passage called Mortimer's Hole, which was probably intended to relieve the castle with men and provisions, in case the town should be in possession of an enemy.

The castle is encircled with a spacious green plat, from which you are gratified with a view of the country.

In the civil wars, Charles the First set up his standard here, but the castle afterwards became

planes

[ocr errors]

NOTTINGHAM CASTLE.

241 a garrison for the parliament. Rapin says, that 6 the King published a proclamation, requiring all men who could bear arms to repair to him at Nottingham, where he intended to set up the royal standard, which all good subjects were obliged to attend. This was the ancient manner of making nown to the people the king's urgent occasion for

'r aid, and the place to which they were to repai. to assist him. He thought, therefore the setting up of his standard would make a strong impression on the people, and induce them to appear in arms. But prejudices were too deeply rooted in the minds of most of his subjects for a oligoma bare ceremony to remove them. At last, however, on the 25th of August, 1642, the king caused his e standard to be erected on a turret of Nottingham Castle, (Rushworth says it was erected in the open field on the back side of the castle wall,) having with him only some unarmed trained bands. His proclamation had produced so little effect that few were come to attend the royal standard. Nay, it happened, the very day the standard was erected, it grew so tempestuous that it was blown down, and could not be fixed again for a day or two! This was looked upon by many as a fatal presage of the war!”

And, indeed, in what other light could the cir·cumstance be viewed by individuals, whose minds, at so critical a juncture, brooded over the melancholy state of public affairs ? The step which his majesty, in consequence of the advice given by evil counsellors, had now taken, led to a series of

M

242

. ROBIN HOOD. hostilities, which terminated in his destruction. · For seven long years was the kingdom a scene of bloodshed and confusion. Civil wars are carried on with so much animosity, that we must reckon them among the calamities destined to afflict and desolate the world. • The Life of Colonel Hutchinson, written by his very accomplished Lady, and lately published, is well worth attention. He was governor of this "castle in the tumultuous times of Cromwell.

On Castle Hill is a seminary for young gentlemen, conducted by my friend Mr. Robert Goodacre, author of an excellent treatise on arithmetic : he is, I trust, reaping the fruits of his honourable well-earned industry.

Close to Nottingham may be seen the spot over which Sherwood Forest once spread itself, and where ROBIN Hood and LITTLE JOHN used to play their pranks, to the terror and diversion of the neighbourhood. The old popular ballad is founded on some facts--though involved in obscurity. As this tale used to amuse my childhood, I have taken some pains to gather a few particulars concerning it.

Robin Hood, or Head (but more commonly known by the name of Robin Hood) was born somewhere in the county of Nottingham, in the reign of Henry the Second, and is said to have been the son of a nobleman. But the most probable opinion is, that he was one of those youths who resented the inclosure of forests, and being proscribed by Richard the First, he raised a band

ROBIN HOOD.

243 of men, who acting under his command, infested all the towns near Sherwood Forest, after robbing the passengers, but he never, except in his own defence, proceeded to acts of cruelty. He kept the articles obtained by this illegitimate method till they amounted to a considerable quantity, when he exposed them to sale at a place on the borders of the forest. This mode of life he is thought to have followed many years. A great price was set upon his head, and many fruitless attempts were made to take him: At length falling ill, he went, in order to be taken better care of, to Birkleys, a nunnery in Yorkshire, where he desired to be let blood. The reward, however, being considerable, proved a temptation to the betraying of him; and instead of bleeding him as he desired, they blooded him to death, about the latter end of the year 1395. Such are the particulars I have obtained, but shall say nothing respecting their credibility. . . . . . .

As to the song itself of Robin Hood and Little John, it has been admired for its doggrel simpli. city. The diverting manner in which Robin took in the Sheriff of Nottingham may be just mentioned by way of specimen. Robin one day purchased some meat, and in disguise carried it to Nottingham market, where he sold it at a cheap rate. This attracted attention; the butchers invited him to a feast, and here he met the Sheriff of Nottingham. What after passed between them, take in the words of this ballad :

« ZurückWeiter »