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A TOMBSTONE ENIGMA

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or 'father, the disinheritance may be accounted for, and also its chronicle below this figure in a civilian cap (it may be either civilian or monkish, but I incline to the former). Of course this is only supposition founded upon dates and local history, and may be utterly wrong.”

The curious carvings and inscriptions that one comes upon ever and again when exploring rural England are a source of great interest to the traveller of antiquarian tastes, and there are many such scattered over the land of a most puzzling nature. Take the following tombstone enigma, for instance, to be found in Christchurch graveyard in Hampshire. Who will unravel the hidden import of this most mysterious legend ? I have tried long and hard to arrive at some probable solution thereof but all in vain.

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Then again in the church of Great Gidding - a village we passed a little to the left of our road before we reached Stilton — is another carved enigma consisting of the following five Latin words arranged in the form of a square thus :

S AT OR
ARE PO
TENET
OPERA
ROTAS

The meaning of this is not at all clear, to me at any rate. This puzzle bears the date 1614. The following curious inscription, too, was pointed out to me upon a flat, “ broken and battered” tombstone that lies in the churchyard of Upton near Slough: “Here lies the body of Sarah Bramstone of Eton, spinster, who dared to be just in the reign of George the Second. Obijt. Janry. 30, 1765, aetat 77." One naturally asks who was this Sarah Bramstone ? These records in stone are hard to interpret. Even old drinking vessels, that the wanderer in rural England occasionally unearths, often possess significant inscriptions, as the following example taken from a goblet of the Cromwellian period, I think, sufficiently proves. This certainly suggests a Jacobean origin of our national anthem :

God save the King, I pray
God bless the King, I say;

God save the King.
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Soon to reign over us;

God save the King. A few more miles of level winding road through a wooded country brought us in sight of the old historic town of Boston,-a name familiar in two hemispheres. A jumble of red buildings, unevenroofed, and grouped together in artistic irregularity,

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A POETIC PROSPECT

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was presented to us; buildings quaint and commonplace, but all glorified in colour by the golden rays of the setting sun, their warm tints being enhanced by broad mysterious shadows of softest blue, mingled with which was a haze of pearly-gray smoke-the very poetry of smoke, so film-like and romantic it seemed. And over all there rose the tall tower of St. Botolph's stately fane, so etherealised by the moist light-laden atmosphere that it looked as unsubstantial as the building of a dream, whilst near at hand tapering masts, tipped with gold, and ruddy sails told of the proximity of the sea. The ancient town had a strangely medieval look, as though we had somehow driven backwards into another century, the glamour of the scene took possession of us, and we began to dream delicious dreams, but just then came wasted on the stilly air the sound of a far-away railway whistle, soft and subdued by distance truly, but for all that unmistakable. The charm of illusion was over; it was a sudden descent from the poetic to the prosaic. Still, perhaps in the picturesque past the belated traveller would not have fared so well, so comfortably, or so cleanly in his hostelry as did we in our nineteenth-century one, where we found welcome letters awaiting us from home that reached us by the grace of the modern iron horse! Speed is a blessing after all, though it is the parent of much ugliness!

CHAPTER XIII

The Fenland capital— Mother and daughter towns—“Boston stump"

-One church built over another—The company at our inn-A desultory ramble-An ancient prison—The Pilgrim FathersThe banks of the Witham-Hussey Tower—An English Arcadia - Kyme Castle — Benington - A country of many churches Wrangle-In search of a ghost-A remote village-Gargoyles - The grotesque in art.

BOSTON, that proudly calls itself “the capital of Fenland,” struck us as a quaint old town, prosperous and busy, but not restless, with somewhat of a Dutch look about it, yet, notwithstanding, intensely English. A dreamy place in spite of its prosperity, dreamy but not dull; quaint perhaps rather than picturesque

-a delightful, unspoilt old-world town, with an indescribable flavour of the long-ago about it, a spot where the poetry of a past civilisation lingers yet; a commercial town that is not ugly!

St. Botolph's town, as our American cousins love to call it, is one of the shrines of the “Old Country," competing for first place with Stratford-on-Avon in the heart of the New England pilgrim, for is not storied Boston the mother of its modern namesake across the wide Atlantic ? However, we know that “a prophet hath no honour in his own country," so whilst numberless American travellers have FROM TWO POINTS OF VIEW

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expressed their delight at this old Lincolnshire town, and Longfellow and other American poets have sung its praises in verse, the average Englishman appears to regard it hardly at all, and scarcely ever to visit it except under compulsion, and has even sung its dispraises in doggerel thus :

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But the charm of Boston, as indeed that of most places, depends upon sentiment and seeing, whether you look upon it with poetic or prosaic eyes. A famous English engineer once told me that he considered a modern express locomotive a most beautiful thing, and it was so in his eyes! “Unless a thing be strong it cannot be beautiful,” was his axiom. Weakness, or even the idea of weakness, was an abomination to him, so that the tumble-down cottage, with its uneven roof bent into graceful curves that an artist so delights in, was simple ugliness to him.

It was meet that here we should “take our ease” in an ancient hostelry, and that we should have our breakfast served in a pleasant low-ceilinged parlour, whose panelled walls had an aroma of other days and other ways about them, and suggested to our imaginative minds many a bit of unrecorded romance. With a romancer's license we pictured that oldfashioned chamber peopled by past-time travellers who had come by coach or had posted by private chaise, and mingled with these was a bluff ship

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