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At Stamford we patronised the ancient and historic “George Inn,” that still stands where it did of yore-an inn which has entertained generations of wayfarers of various degrees from king to highwayman ; and, as in the past, opens its doors to the latter-day traveller, who, however, seldom arrives by road. It was quite in keeping with the old traditions of the place that we should drive into its ancient and spacious courtyard and hand our horses over to the ostler's charge, whilst we two dust-stained travellers, having seen our baggage taken out of the dog-cart, should follow it indoors, where the landlord stood ready to welcome us, just as former landlords on the self-same spot might have welcomed former travellers posting across country. During the month of August 1645, Charles I. slept a night here on his way south from Newark; it was Scott's favourite haltingplace on his many journeys to and from London —and many other notables, of whom the list is long, have feasted and slept beneath the sign of the “George” at Stamford. “Walls have ears,” says the old familiar proverb : would that the walls of the “George” had tongues to tell us something of the people who have rested and feasted within its ancient chambers, to repeat for our benefit the unrecorded sayings, witticisms, stories of strange adventures on the king's highway, and aught else of interest that may have passed their lips. Marvellous men were some of those ancestors of ours, who would sit outside a coach all day, and sit up half the night consuming their three bottles
RECORDS ON GLASS
of port, yet rise in the morning headacheless and proceed with their journey smiling. There must be some wonderful recuperative virtue about life in the open air, otherwise they could hardly have led the life they did. Up early, and to bed late, with port, or punch, nearly every night, and sometimes both-and yet we have no record of their complaining of dyspepsia! Again I repeat they were marvellous men ; peace be to their ashes.
In many a coaching inn they have left mementoes of themselves by scratching their names with dates, and sometimes with added verses, on the window panes of the rooms : these always deeply interest and appeal to me; they tell so little and so much! The mere scratches of a diamond on the fragile glass have been preserved all those years, they look so fresh they might have been done only a month ago. Nowadays it is only the “'Arrys” who are supposed to do this sort of thing, but in the olden times even notable personages did not deem it beneath their dignity thus to record their names. On the window of the room in which Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon may be found the genuine signature of the “Wizard of the North,” in company with those of other famed and unfamed men and women. Where walls are silent, windows sometimes speak! I have noted dates on these of nearly two centuries ago; the names of the writers being thus unwittingly preserved whilst perchance they have weathered away from their tombstones. Such records as the following which I select haphazard from my note-book are interesting :-"Peter
Lewis 1735. Weather-bound,” or “G. L. stopped on the heath by three men," or again, "T. Lawes, 1765. Flying machine broken down, Vile roades." Suggestive comments that one can enlarge and romance upon. Now and then these old - time travellers instead of leaving their names behind them indulged their artistic propensities by drawing, more or less roughly, representations of coats-ofarms, and crests, or else gibbets, highwaymen, and such like. These old records on glass are an interesting study, and are mostly to be found on bedroom windows; but panes get broken in time, or destroyed during alterations, or the old houses themselves get improved away, so these reminders of past days and changed conditions of life and travel gradually grow fewer : it is therefore wise of the curious to make note of them when they can.
In the coffee-room of the “George" we met a pleasant company consisting of three belated cyclists, and with them we chatted of roads, of scenery, and many things besides till a late hour, when we retired to rest and found that we had allotted to us a large front bedroom. We could not help wondering how many other travellers, and who they might have been, the same chamber had sheltered since the inn was first established in the years gone by. Probably—it was even more than probableScott himself may have slept in the very chamber we occupied. Verily a glamour of the long ago, a past presence, seems to hang over this ancient and historic hostelry! It is haunted with memories !
A picturesque ruin-Round about Stamford-Browne's “Callis ”
A chat with an antiquary—A quaint interior—“Bull-running”
EARLY in the morning we started out to explore the town ; 'first, however, we found our way to Wothorpe a short mile off, from whence there is a fine view of Stamford. At Wothorpe are the picturesque ruins of a small mansion built by the first Earl of Exeter : "to retire out of the dust,” as he playfully remarked, “whilst his great house at Burleigh was a-sweeping." The deserted and time-rent mansion is finely built of carefully squared stones and has four towers one at each corner, square at the base, but octagonal at the top; these towers, judging from an old print we saw in a shop window at Stamford, were formerly capped by shaped stone roofs, which in turn were surmounted by great weathercocks : the towers when complete must have been quite a feature in the structure, and have given it a special character—a touch of quaintness that is always so charming and attractive in a building. The ruins are weather-toned and ivy-grown and make a very pretty picture, though only the outer crumbling walls remain. Wothorpe has arrived at such a pathetic state of decay as to be almost picturesquely perfect, and pleads to be admired! Man has ruined it, but nature left to work her own sweet will has beautified it, for she has draped it with greenery, has tinted its stones, and broken up its rigid symmetry. It is a sad thought that a building should be more beautiful in ruin than in its perfect state, but, as Byron says,
there is a power
For which the palace of the present hour
From this spot we retraced our steps to Stamford, and wandering desultorily about the town eventually came upon Browne's Hospital, Bede House, or Callis; a most interesting old building, the exterior of which suggested to us a quaint interior, so we determined to obtain a glimpse of the latter, if possible. As we were ascending the steps to inquire if the place were shown we encountered a gentleman coming down, whom instinctively we took to be an antiquary; though why we should have jumped at such a conclusion it would be hard to say ; and oddly enough it turned out that we were correct in our conjectures, so we ventured to ask him whether he thought we should be able to obtain admittance to the building. There is nothing lost in this world by seizing opportunities and asking polite questions, for oftentimes the traveller gains