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back to modern civilisation as represented by a table d'hôte, a luxury that we had missed, without regret, at the homely old - fashioned hostelries wherein we had been so comfortably entertained hitherto on the way. It was a simple table d'hôte, however, with more of the name than the reality about it, nevertheless it was “served at separate tables” in true British insular fashion. Though the tables were separate we had one allotted to us with a stranger, and, according to the “custom of the country," commenced our meal in mutual silence, neither speaking a word to the other, both being equally to blame in this respect. At an American hotel, under similar circumstances, such unsociability would be considered unmannered—and it would be impossible.
Accustomed so long to the friendliness of the old-fashioned inn, we could not stand the freezing formality of the hotel — it depressed us. So we endeavoured, with the usual commonplaces about the weather and so forth, to break the oppressive silence, only to be answered in gruff monosyllables. This was not promising ; even though we might be addressing a man of importance in fact, or solely in his own estimation, surely it would do him no harm to make a show of civility to a stranger that fate had brought him in close contact with at an inn. Truly, he might be a lord or a commercial traveller, we could not tell, nor did it matter to us ; we merely wished to be sociable. By tact at last we prevailed. There is no armour against tact and a pleasant manner that costs nothing, and over an after-dinner
cigar-one of the stranger's cigars, by the way, which he pressed upon us as being “so much better than what you buy at hotels ”—we actually became such friends that he gave us his card, and, learning that we were on a driving tour, actually added a most pressing invitation for us to come and stay with him at his place in the country, “horses and all.” I mention this incident exactly as it occurred. No moral follows, though I could get one in nicely ; but I refrain.
Not only is the view of Lincoln's cathedralcrowned city very fine from all around, a proper distance being granted, but the prospects from many points within the elevated portion of the city are also exceedingly lovely, and equally rewarding in their way, commanding, as they do, vast stretches of greenful landscape, varied by spreading woods, and enlivened by the silvery gleam of winding river not to forget the picturesque trail of white steam from the speeding trains that give a wonderful feeling of life and movement to the view,—a view bounded to the west and south by the faint blue, long, undulating lines of the distant Wolds.
Open to all “the four winds," or more, of heaven, Lincoln “above hill” can never be “stuffy,” as many medieval cities are. When we were there the weather was warm and oppressively close in the city “below hill,” and a gentleman driving in from the country declared that it was “the hottest day of the year,” still in the streets around the cathedral we found a refreshing, if balmy, breeze. Some ancient towns have the pleasing quality of picturesqueness,
but the air in them during the summer-time seems to stagnate. I prefer my picturesqueness, as at Lincoln, air-flushed! Lincoln, too, is clean and sweet. Some ancient cities, though undoubtedly romantic, unhappily possess neither of these virtues. Dirt and evil smells, in my eyes, take a great deal away from the glamour of the beautiful. I can never get enthusiastic over dirt. Even age does not hallow dirt to me.
As we resumed our journey, a short distance from our hotel we noticed a quaint old stone-built house with a pleasant garden in front, a garden divided from the highroad by an iron gateway. The old house looked such a picture that we pulled up to admire it through the open iron-work, which, whilst making a most protective fence, also permitted the passer-by to behold the beauties it enclosed. Most Englishmen prefer the greater privacy afforded by a high wall or a tall oak-board fence. I am selfish enough to do so too, though, from the traveller's point of view, it is very refreshing to eye and mind to be able to get such beauty-peeps beyond the dusty roads.
Observing a lady here plucking flowers in the pleasant garden, we ventured boldly to open the gates, and, with our best bow, begged permission to take a photograph of the picturesque old building. Our request was readily granted, and with a smile. In fact, during the whole of our tour it seemed to us that we had only to ask a favour to have it granted with a smile—all of which was very pleasant. On the road it verily seemed as though life were all sunshine, and everybody an impersonation of good
nature. I know people have gone a-driving across country and found things otherwise ; but the world is as we see and make it! They may have frowned on it, and that is a fatal thing to do.
Having taken our photograph, and having expressed our thanks in our best manner to the lady for her kindness, we were about to rejoin the dogcart, when the lady said, “You seem interested in old places. If you care to step inside I think I can show you something you might like to see.” We most gladly accepted the kind and wholly unexpected invitation ; it was what, just then, we desired above everything, but never ventured to hope for. Again it was forcibly brought to our mind what a profitable possession is a gracious bearing to the traveller.
Entering the house, let into the wall on one side of the hall, we had pointed out to us a carved stone lavatory of medieval date. At first glance this looked very much like some old altar, but running the whole length of the top we observed a sort of trench; along this in times past, we were told, water used to flow continuously. We could not help fancying that probably this once belonged to a monastery (a similar kind of lavatory may still be seen in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral). On the opposite side of the hall we caught sight of a genuine old grandfather's clock with the following motto inscribed thereon, which was fresh to us, and so I quote it :
Before leaving Lincoln I would call attention to a rather quaint epitaph to be found in the churchyard of St. Mary's-le-Wyford, which runs as follows :
Here lies one, believe it if you can,
This reminds me of a frequently quoted epitaph of a similar nature that a friend of mine assured me he copied many years ago in a Norfolk churchyard when on a walking tour. Unfortunately he was not sure of the name of the churchyard, being a very careless man as to details ; but I have his word that he did not get it out of a book, so I venture to give it here :
Here lies an honest lawyer,
He never lied before.
one si od stemning ce D
The praise in these epitaphs is reversed in another,
Here lies lawyer Dash;
Now he lies on his back.