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been sent there in 1567 “to destroy all superstitious articles,” and of his mission thus the Colonel reported: “We came to Swineshead, here we found two altars, one was broken in taking down, one we took entire and laid in on the pavement." After reading this the vicar made search for the latter and found it in the flooring as described. So what one generation removes another restores ; one blackens, the other whitens; one has a predilection for ceremony, another for simplicity : it is the everlasting swing of the pendulum first to one side then to the other, there is even a fashion in religion as in all things else, though we may not call or know it by that name. The Puritan claimed that he destroyed beautiful things not because he hated them, but of painful necessity because in churches he found that they were associated with shameful imposture and debasing superstition. To-day the modern Puritan does not appear to object to ornate fanes of worship, he even expresses his admiration of decorative art, it is the ritual and vestments he despises ; for thus a famous American puritan writes of Ely Cathedral: “The beauty of Ely is originality combined with magnificence. The cathedral is not only glorious ; it is also strange. ... Its elements of splendour unite to dazzle the vision and overwhelm the soul. ... When you are permitted to sit there, in the stillness, with no sound of a human voice and no purl of ecclesiastical prattle to call you back to earth, you must indeed be hard to impress if your thoughts are not centred upon heaven. It is the little preacher in his ridiculous vestments, it
A QUAINT LOCAL CUSTOM
is man with his vanity and folly, that humiliates the reverent pilgrim in such holy places as this, by his insistent contrast of his own conventional littleness with all that is celestial in the grandest architectural results of the inspiration of genius.” The pointed remark, “no ecclesiastical prattle to call you back to earth,” is noteworthy.
At Swineshead we learnt that the curfew is still tolled at eight o'clock every evening for five minutes, and after a short interval this is followed by another bell which tells the date of the month. A quaint local custom, and may it long continue ! As we were leaving the church our attention was called to the date 1593, deeply cut on one of the beams of the timber roof, presumably marking the date of its construction, or more probably its restoration.
On leaving Swineshead for Boston we were told to “take the first to the left and then drive straight on, you cannot possibly miss your way. You'll see the stump right before you,”—“the stump” being the local and undignified term by which the lofty tower of Boston's famous church is known. A tower that rises 272 feet boldly up into the air, and is crowned at the top with an open octagonal lantern of stone-a landmark and a sea-mark over leagues of flat Fenland and tumbling waters. This tall tower rising thus stately out of the wide plain has a fine effect, seen from far away it seems to be of a wonderful height, and, as an ancient writer says, “it meets the travellers thereunto twenty miles off, so that their eyes are there many hours before their
feet.” This was, of course, before the days of the railway, but it is still true of the leisurely road wanderer.
Though we were told to drive straight on, and that we could not possibly miss our way, we managed very successfully to do the latter, and the former we found difficult of accomplishment, as in due course we came to the junction of two roads, one branching to the left, and the other to the right, and how to drive “straight on ” under those circumstances would have puzzled the wisest man. At the point there was no sign-post, nor was there a soul in sight; we consulted our map, but this did not help us, for it mixed up the roads with the dykes in such a puzzling way that we could not make out which was intended for which. We waited some time in the hopes that some one might appear on the scene, but no one did, so at last we selected the right-hand road as tending, if anything, slightly more in the direction of Boston “stump" than the other, nevertheless it proved to be the wrong one, and we presently found ourselves in a maze of byroads complicated with dykes. We were by no means driving “straight on,” according to instructions, though we kept the famous "stump” in view and ahead of us, now slightly to the right and now to the left; but in time we found that we were gradually getting nearer to it, which was satisfactory,—and, after all, we reasoned to ourselves, it does not matter greatly how we progress, so long as we do progress and we reach our destination and an inn before nightfall. Our horses are going fresh,
A MYSTERIOUS INSCRIPTION
the country is interesting and full of character, and would even probably be pronounced beautiful by a Dutchman !
So by “indirect, crooked ways" we reached Frampton, an out-of-the-world village, a spot where one might go in search of peace when
weary of men's voices and their tread,
It seemed a place so very remote from “the busy haunts of men.” It impressed us with its restful calm. Here by the side of the road stood its ancient and picturesque church, — we had seen enough churches that day to last for a whole tour, but somehow this rural fane so charmed us that we felt we could not pass it by without a glance; and it was well we did not, for here we made one of the most interesting discoveries of our journey. Strolling round the graveyard in search of any curious epitaph we noticed the quaint carving of a grotesque head on a buttress of the north wall of the building. Upon closer inspection we further discovered a puzzling inscription beneath this, which we made out to be as follows :
Wot ye whi i stond
We made out the inscription without difficulty, all but the last word of the second line, which appears to begin "fat,” but the next letter or letters are undecipherable. We hazarded a guess that the
missing letter might be “f” and that the word was intended for "faith,” but it might equally well have ended with the letters “her” and so have read “father.” At the time, however, we were inclined to the first rendering, and concluded that the head above was meant to represent a monk who had turned apostate, and, therefore, was placed there in the cold outside the church, and made, like a naughty boy, to stand in the corner.
This grotesque figure with the enigmatical inscription below greatly interested us, so much indeed that we resolved, if by any means it were possible, to obtain the correct interpretation thereof. But we found, somewhat to our surprise, that the few likely people of whom we inquired were not even aware of the existence of such a thing in their neighbourhood. However, after much searching, we heard of a certain learned Lincolnshire antiquary who had long and carefully studied the strange figure and legend ; so on our return home we ventured to write and ask him if he could throw any light upon the subject. To our request we received a most courteous reply, an extract from which I hereby give, as it is of much interest, even if it does not actually determine the meaning of the curious bit of sculpturing : “ It evidently records some local matter or scandal. Looking at the date of the building, and the history of the parish simultaneously, I find a Richard Welby, eldest son of Sir Richard Welby, lived then, and that for some unknown cause he was disinherited by his father and the estate went to his next brother. If he forswor' either faith'