« AnteriorContinuar »
and it seemed to us a good opportunity to depart on our way.
The fire of Puritanism, or whatever other name that erst powerful “ism " goes under now, is not extinguished in the land but smoulders; will it ever break out into a destroying flame again ? It may; history sometimes repeats itself! The swing of the pendulum just now appears in favour of ritualism, strongly so, it seems to me; who can tell that it may not swing back again ? I once asked a New England Puritan of the pure old Cromwellian stock—a refined man, a lover of art and literature—how it was that Puritanism, in days past at any rate, was such a deadly enemy to art? He replied, “It was so, simply of painful necessity. Freedom, religious freedom, is more than art. Priestly tyranny had enslaved art, bribed it into its service, and art had to pay the penalty. Nowadays art has shaken herself free, practically free from her ancient masters, and Puritanism and art are friends. And the Puritan lion may lie down with the art lamb and not hurt him.” Which is a comforting thought should the pendulum suddenly swing back again. It seems just now highly improbable, but the improbable occasionally comes to pass. How highly improbable, nay impossible, it would have seemed, say a century or so ago, that incense, vestments, lighted candles on the “altar,” would find place in the Church of England service, to say nothing of holy water being used, and "the Angelus bell being rung at the consecration of the elements, and the elevation of the Host, ” as I read in the AN ANCIENT FIGHT
Standard of 29th October 1890, was done at the dedication festival of the Church of St. Mary, in Clumber Park, Worksop! Truly might Cromwell exclaim, were he to come to life again and see these things, “The times are changed !”
Farther on we drove over Winceby Hill, one of the highest points of the Wolds, and the scene of an early encounter between the forces of the King and those of the Parliament; an encounter that is said to have brought Cromwell into prominent notice, of which conflict we shall come upon some relics at Horncastle anon, as well as a curious tradition connected therewith.
Leaving Winceby Hill our road began to descend; the country in front of us, as it were, dropped down, and, far away below, we caught sight of the red-roofed houses of Horncastle, with its gray church beyond, and busy windmills around. It was a long descent, affording us a glorious, far-extending view ahead over a well-wooded, watered, and undulating country flooded with warm sunshine. It looked like a veritable land of promise.
Down we drove till at the foot of our long descent we found ourselves in Horncastle, a quaint old town which has earned for itself more than a local reputation on account of its yearly horse fair,-the largest and most important, we were told, in the kingdom. We rejoiced that we had not arrived the day of the fair ; fair-days and market-days are best avoided by the quiet-loving traveller. We had crossed a spur of the Wolds and had touched the fringe of a charming stretch of country agreeably
diversified by heaths and fir forests to the west, where the soil is light and sandy, in great contrast to that of the Fens and of the chalk Wolds. Horncastle, I have said, is a quaint old town; it struck us as a pleasant one as well, picturesque in parts, especially by the side of the little river Bain that winds through it, and gives it rather a Dutch-like look. The chief portion of the town is built on a horn-shaped extent of land formed by the river. There was also a castle there of which some slight ruins remain, hence the name Horncastle, a bit of information I gleaned from a local paper. Consulting our old and well-used copy of Paterson we noticed that the Bull Inn here was given as the coaching and posting house, so we drove up to that old-time hostelry confidently, for it generally holds good in country places that the hotel mentioned in Paterson as the best is still the best. The Bull too was a good old-fashioned title, suggestive of the olden days and other ways; and within its hospitable walls we found comfortable quarters and a most courteous landlord, who also, we discovered, during a chat with him over our evening pipe, was like ourselves a confirmed traveller by road. “There's nothing like it for enjoyment and health,” exclaimed he; “I never felt so well as when I was on the road.” Sentiments in which we were one! Soundly we slept that night beneath the sign of the Bull. The fresh air of the Wolds acted like a powerful narcotic. Our long and interesting day's drive had a pleasant ending !
Six hilly miles—A vision for a pilgrim—The scenery of the Wolds
Poets' dreams versus realities—Tennyson's brook-Somersby-
The next morning after breakfast we consulted our map as to the day's doings and wanderings. We found that we were only some six miles or so away from Somersby, Tennyson's birthplace,—six hilly ones they proved to be, but this is a detail. After due consideration we decided that being so comfortable and so much at home in our present quarters we would “take our ease" thereat for still another night and devote the day to exploring Tennyson-land, that is to say, the haunts of his youth. We made out by our map that we could drive to Somersby one way, see something of the country around and beyond, and return by another route, a fact that would give additional interest to our explorations. It would be a delightful little expedition, the morning was fine and sunny, our aneroid was steady at “Fair,” the country before us was a terra incognita, interesting because of its associations apart from the possible beauty and certain freshness of its scenery.
On leaving Horncastle our road at once commenced to climb the Wolds, and as we rose the country around widened out. At the crest of the first hill we rested a while to enjoy the prospect; looking back, our eyes ranged over miles and miles of changeful greenery with the wide over-arching sky above, a sky of a blue that would have done credit to Italy. On the far - off horizon we could just discern the faint outlines of Lincoln's lordly minster, regnant on the hill above the city, a vision that doubtless would have caused the pious medieval pilgrim to go down on his knees, -1 write “pious though I am by no means sure that all medieval pilgrims deserved that epithet. It was in those days a cheap, comparatively safe, if uncomfortable way of travelling, the poor man then had only to assume the garb and manners of a pilgrim to travel and see novel sights and even foreign countries free of expense for board or food, and he might be as lazy as he liked, provided he did not mind a little leisurely walking and going through certain religious observances. The modern tramp was born too late!
As we drove on we had before us a sea of hills, round and green close at hand, fading away by subtle degrees to gray, and from gray to tenderest blue, where in the dim distance the land seemed almost to melt into the sky. Then our road dipped down gradually into a well-wooded country, a glorious country of leafy woods—most charming at Holbeck with its little lakes, an ideal spot on a hot summer's day; and from the woods rose great grassy slopes down which the sunshine glinted in long lines of yellow light, the golden warmth of the sunlit earth being