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remoteness had the rare good fortune to have escaped the restorer's hands, and not a few of these, we were given to understand, contained curious brasses and interesting tombs of knightly warriors and unremembered worthies; Tattershall Castle, a glorious old pile, one of the finest structures of the kind in the kingdom ; the historic town of Boston, with its famous fane and “stump” and Dutch-like waterways; Stamford, erst the rival of Oxford and Cambridge, with its Jacobean buildings, crumbling colleges, and quaint “Callises” or hospitals; Grantham, with its wonderful church spire and genuine medieval hostelry, dating back to the fifteenth century, that still offers entertainment to the latter-day pilgrim, and, moreover, makes him “comfortable exceedingly”; besides many an old coaching inn wherein to take our ease; not to mention the picturesque villages and sleepy markettowns, all innocent of the hand of the modern builder, nor the rambling manor-houses with their unwritten histories, the many moated granges with their unrecorded traditions, and perhaps not least, two really haunted houses, possessing well-established ghosts.
Then there was Tennyson's birthplace at pretty Somersby, and the haunts of his early life round about, the wild wolds he loved so and sang ofthe Highlands of Lincolnshire !a dreamy land full of the unconscious poetry of civilisation, primitive and picturesque, yet not wholly unprogressive; a land where the fussy railway does not intrude, and where the rush and stress of this bustling century
A TEMPTING PROGRAMME!
has made no visible impression ; a land also where odd characters abound, and where the wise sayings of their forefathers, old folk-lore, legends, and strange superstitions linger yet; and last on the long list, and perhaps not least in interest, there was the wide Fenland, full of its own weird, but little understood beauties. Verily here was a tempting programme!
Pondering over all these good things, we found ourselves wondering how it was that we had never thought of Lincolnshire as fresh ground to explore before. Did we not then call to mind what a most enjoyable tour we had made through the littleesteemed Eastern Counties? though before starting on that expedition we had been warned by friends—who had never been there, by the waythat we should repent our resolve, as that portion of England was flat, tame, and intensely uninteresting, having nothing to show worth seeing fit for farming and little else. Yet we remembered that we discovered the Langton Hills on our very first day out, and still retained a vivid impression of the glorious views therefrom, and all the rest of the journey was replete with pleasant surprises and scenic revelations. Truly we found the Land of the Broads to be flat, but so full of character and special beauty as to attract artists to paint it. “Therefore,” we exclaimed, “why should not Lincolnshire prove equally interesting and beautiful ?” Perhaps even, like the once tourist-neglected Broads, the charms and picturesqueness of Lincolnshire may some day be discovered, be guidebook-lauded as a delightful holiday ground. Who knows? Besides, there was the drive thither and back along the old coachroads to be remembered; that of itself was sure to be rewarding.
The letter set us a-thinking, and the special shelf in our little library where sundry road - books and county maps are kept was searched for a chart of Lincolnshire. We were soon deeply engrossed with books and maps, and with their aid planned a very promising tour. By the time the old brass Cromwell clock on the bracket in a corner of the ingle-nook struck twelve we had finally decided, for good or ill, to try Lincolnshire; already we found ourselves longing for the summer time to come that we might be off!
But for all our longings and schemings it was the first of September before we actually set out on our journey ; however, if this were unkindly delayed by the Fates, to make amends for such delay it must be confessed that they granted us perfect travellers' weather, for during almost the whole time we were away from home there was not a day either too hot or too cold for open-air enjoyment, we had very little rain, and plenty of sunshine.
According to my experience, the month of September and the first week in October are generally the finest times in the year in England. During our journey we picked up, to us, many fresh bits of weather-lore and old-folk sayings; these are always welcome, and one of them runs thus : “It's a foul year when there are not twenty fine days in September.” In that month truly the days are growing gradually shorter, but,
IN TRAVELLING ORDER
on the other hand, the dust — that one fly in the ointment of the driving tourist-is not so troublesome, indeed on this occasion it did not trouble us at all, nor is the heat so oppressive, nor the light so glaring as in July or August; and if the evenings draw in then, well, it only means an early start to have still a good long day before one, and the dusk coming on as you reach your night's destination is a plausible excuse for indulging in a homelike fire in your apartment; and what a look of friendly familiarity a fire imparts to even a strange room, to say nothing of the mellow glow of candles on the table where your meal is spread! There is something indescribably cheery and suggestive of comfort, cosiness, and taking your ease about a fire-warmed and candle-lighted room! Truly there are certain compensating advantages in the early evenings! Did not Charles Lamb, writing to a brother poet, Bernard Barton, exclaim of July, “Deadly long are the days, these summer all-day days, with but a half-hour's candle-light and no fire-light at all”?
Now, kind reader, please picture in your mind's eye our comfortable and roomy dog-cart, carefully packed with all our necessary baggage, rugs, and waterproofs, the latter in case of cold or wet; our sketching and photographic paraphernalia ; and even every luxury that long experience, gleaned from many former expeditions of a like nature, could suggest; not forgetting a plentiful supply of good tobacco of our favourite mixture, nor yet books to beguile a possible dull hour, which, however, never
occurred. Amongst the books was a copy of Kingsley's Hereward the Wake, as this treats of the Fenland heroes, as well as describes much of the lowland scenery of Lincolnshire. When I add that we included in our “kit” a supply of candles in case the light at some of the country inns should be too poor to read or write by comfortably, I think it may be taken for granted that nothing was forgotten that would in any way add to our ease or pleasure. It is astonishing how materially the thought of such apparent trifles adds to the enjoyment of an outing like ours. Even a good field-glass enhances the interest of a wide prospect, such as is continually met with during a lengthened driving tour, by enabling one the better to make out any special feature in the distant panorama.
Being thus prepared for the road, one cloudy September morning found us driving slowly out of the vast conglomeration of smoke-stained bricks and mortar that go to make the city—or county is it?—of London. Passing the Marble Arch, we reached the Edgware Road, up which we turned our horses' heads, bound first for Barnet, taking Finchley on the way, and striking the Great North Road just beyond the latter place, which famous old coaching and posting highway we proposed to follow right on to “ Stamford town” in Lincolnshire.
The morning was warm, cloudy, and rainless, though there had been a prolonged downpour during the night, but the barometer was happily on the rise, the “Forecast” in the paper prophesied only occasional showers, and we gladly noted that