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inn by way of refinement, and above the weathertinted roof uprose a fine stack of clustering chimneys. The chance light and shade effect of the moment suited well the unpretending but pleasant bit of oldtime architecture, so we proceeded to photograph it, not, however, before the landlord had divined our intention, and had placed himself in a prominent position, so that he might be included in the picture. A worthy man the landlord proved to be, as we found out in after conversation with him, and we promised to send him a copy of the photograph ; but “the best-laid schemes o mice an'” amateur photographers "gang aft agley,” for it happened we had forgotten to change the plate, and so took the old inn right on the top of a previous photograph of another inn, and the photographic mixture was not favourable to clearness or an artistic result ! The negative when developed showed two signboards on separate posts in different positions and at different angles, two roofs, one just over the other, a hopeless jumble of windows, and two stacks of chimneys occupying the same place at the same time, in spite of the well-known axiom that no two things can do so. The Astwick landlord truly was there, but converted into a veritable ghost, for through his body you could plainly trace the doorway of the first inn! Certainly the result amused sundry of our friends, but then the photographphotographs, I mean,—were not taken for that purpose, and friends are so easily amused at one's failings! This reminds me that a famous artist once told me, speaking of experiments in painting,
“ HEART OF OAK”
that he preferred a magnificent failure to a poor success; but our failure was not magnificent.
Having, as we fondly imagined, secured a fine photograph, we entered into a conversation with the landlord, which resulted, as we hoped, in his inviting us to “take a glance” inside, where he pointed out the floors to us, which he said were all of “heart of oak,” and further remarked, “ You don't find that in modern buildings of this sort”—a statement in which we heartily concurred. He also showed us the staircase, likewise of oak. He had not been in the house long, we learnt, and when he bought the place "it was all going to ruin ”; but he put it in good order. “Lots of people come to sketch and photograph the old inn, and some of the people who come patronise us for refreshment.” So it would seem that, after all, the picturesque has a commercial value — a fact we were delighted to note. Who would go even a mile to sketch a modern - built public - house? for the primitive inn was really that, though its picturesque and thought-out design suggested a more dignified purpose.
Biggleswade—“Instituted” or “intruded ” !-A poetical will—The
river Ivel-A day to be remembered— The art of seeingMisquotations—The striving after beauty–Stories in stoneAn ancient muniment chest-An angler's haunt—The town bridge—The pronunciation of names-St. Neots.
SOME three miles or so beyond Astwick we reached high ground, from which we had extensive views to the right over miles of fields and undulating greenery. Shortly after this we dropped down into the drowsy old town of Biggleswade; at least it struck us as being a very drowsy sort of place when
were there, but doubtless it wakes up to a little life and movement once a week, on market-days. Even the Biggleswade dogs looked sleepily inclined, curled up under the shelter of various doorways, hardly indeed condescending to give us a glance as we passed by; whilst the nature of dogs generally is to make the arrival of a stranger in their parts an excuse to rush out and bark at him, good-naturedly or the reverse as the mood moves them. A dog seems to reason with himself, “ Barking is the chief pleasure of life; here comes a stranger, let's have a bark!”
Here we drove into the ancient and rambling stable-yard of an old inn near the market-place, and
A SUGGESTIVE WORD
handed our horses over to the good keeping of the ostler; and whilst our lunch was being prepared we wandered out to have a look round the town, but found nothing to specially interest us, so all else failing, we sought the church. Even here we did not discover much to reward us, though the open and carved timber roof of the south aisle was good, with its ornamental bosses and corbels formed of sculptured figures of angels, the whole being more or less decayed and the worse for age. On the woodwork are some slight remains of decorative painting.
Placed against the wall of the church we observed a board with the following heading—“The Vicars of Biggleswade,” followed by a list of names of the said vicars, "from 1276 to the present time, with the dates of their Institution.” Glancing down the long list of names, after each we noticed the word “instituted,” followed by the date thereof; but when we came to that of William Raulius, we noted instead of the usual “ instituted,” the suggestive word and date “intruded 1658" was inserted !
Of this church my Paterson's Roads, that does duty as a sufficient guide-book for us, remarks: “ This substantial ancient edifice was built in the year 1230; it was formerly collegiate, and still contains several of the stalls. The parishioners have all an equal right to any of the seats, for which privilege, however, they are constrained to repair or rebuild the fabric when requisite.” Under the heading of “ Biggleswade," the same excellent road-companion also remarks of Sutton Park, near by, on the road to Potton, “ It is traditionally stated that this seat formerly belonged to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who gave it to Roger Burgoyne, ancestor of the present proprietor, by the following laconic grant :
I, John of Gaunt,
There is also a moated site in the park, still known by the name of John of Gaunt's Castle.”
Leaving Biggleswade, we crossed the river Ivel, but until the crossing thereof we had no idea that there was a river of such a name in England, -a driving tour is certainly helpful to a better and more minute knowledge of the geography of one's own land. Then we entered upon a far-reaching level stretch of country, with a great expanse of sunny sky above, and the silvery sheen of stilly waters showing below in slothful river and clear but stagnant dyke. We could trace our road for miles ahead in curving lines lessening to the low horizon, inclining first this way and then that, now disappearing, to reappear again a long way off. The eye-the artistic eye at any rate/rejoices in such a succession of sinuous curves, as much as it abhors the dictatorial and monotonous straight line ; it likes to be led by gentle and slow degrees into the heart of the landscape, and away beyond into the infinity of space where the vague distance vanishes into the sky. Possibly the muscles of the eye more readily