« PreviousContinue »
A Tour through the North of England.
A very intelligent fellow traveller, assured me that many farmers pay
for their farms. One farm in particular only 400 acres in extent, yields that sum. Were farms of this size divided into smaller ones of 50 acres, how many
fine families might they not support! No part of this long tract, has the appearance of being well peopled. There are few small houses. Many of the fields which we saw contained 60 or 70 acres, some of them a hundred. This my informant said was not unusual
. A species of farming which I had never witnessed before is here very common-I mean sowing the corn in drills. As it grows up it assumes a beautiful regular appearance, but I should think it not very profitable, otherwise it would be more generally adopted over the country.
Near Coppersmith, which is the first stage after leaving Dunbar, lies Dunglass, the seat of Sir James Hall, Baronet, President of the Royal Society, and father to Captain Hall, who accompanied Lord Amherst to China. The bravery of this officer is not more signal than his humanity. During the last illness of poor Sackeause the Esquimaux, he was most unwearied in his attendance, at the sick bed of the unfortunate stranger. This is a deed on which it is almost weakness to moralize. To those who are capable of appreciating the merit of an action, though unaccompanied with splendour to dazzle, perhaps to deceive, this single act of generosity, native and unalloyed, will be inore dear than all the sounding exploits, on which his naval faine must depend. The house is surrounded by lofty and abundant arbours, finer than I have elsewhere seen in Scotland. In one part of the grounds near the road, there a deep and richly wooded glen, over which a beautiful castellated bridge has been thrown. Froin the summit the prospect is most terrific.
After riding a few miles farther, where the new and old roads to Berwick separate, we meet with one of the most romantic structures in the country, called Peasebridge. It forms the passage over the deep glen below. From the road we took I had not an opportunity of examining it minutely, but from what I did
I have reason to believe that it is not less romantic than it is called. From this beautiful spot to Renton, the road lies through a level valley, in the midst of pretty high hills. This road is but newly formed, and of course there are but few houses by its sides. The scenery here though not fine, forms an agreeable relief to the cultivated fields through which we had hitherto passed. Renton, now a commodious inn, was formerly a
A Tour through the North of England.
seat of Sir John Stirling of Glorat. The house is pretty large, but there is no wood near, and altogether it has the appearance being too much exposed. As this is the last stage in Scotland, we got four beautiful fresh horses, “ to cut a figure” as the driver told us, in the streets of Berwick. Though this is a stage of 16 miles length, we got over the ground in two hours, and some odd minutes. The road is not interesting. Perhaps in my case this was owing to the rain, which now began to fall pretty heavily. Owing to the mist on its surface, I did not see much of the sea.
The approach to Berwick reminds us of its ancient importance. On the right are the ruins of a strong castle, surrounded by a deep and broad moat. It must have been a place of great strength and much service in the days of border warfare. About forty yards to the left are seen the remains of an old tower in pretty good order.
I know not whether it was ever connected with the castle on the right. In frunt, is the town still completely surrounded by walls in pretty good condition, not so lofty to be sure as those of Edinburgh, but considerably stronger. The principal entry is by an arched gate way, not very high, and without the portcullis so useful in predatory times. On the top of the walls there is a high earthen parapet, sloping at an angle of about sixty-five degrees, so that an enemy besides climbing the wall, not very easy to be done, would have to ascend this acclivity. This gave the defender a prodigious advantage over the assailant.
Even at present, I believe a cannon ball would not much injure these parapets.
The conclusions of a pedant on this point, however, are not likely to very
sound. The town itself is rather poor looking, and contains but few marks of its high antiquity. Right in front of the street, which we descend, (for the town is situated on the brow of a considerable rising ground,) is the Town-House, a venerable fabric of great length, but not more than forty feet in front. There is an inscription on the spire, certifying at what time it was built, and under the auspices of what Mayor, for in this town, though more Scotch than English, the chief magistrate assumes that name. We stopped at the Swan, one of the best inns in the place. Half an hour was allowed for dinner, which the innkeeper took care to abridge as much as possible.
Leaving the inn and passing through a number of narrow streets, we arrived at the famous bridge, which is the principal
A Tour through the Worlh of England.
pass between the two kingdoms. On the Berwick side there is a strong gate, somewhat corresponding to that at the opposite end of the town, but a good deal higher. The bridge seems to be a very old building erected at different times. The middle
which belongs to neither country, has its ledges covered with grass, to distinguish it from the rest.
The highest arch is towards the Berwick side, the others ten, or a dozen in number, slope to the English shore. The guard told us a good story of this. An Irishman once coming from England along with him, at first sight of it, inquired very gravely “ Arrah now is that the bridge 3" “ Yes to be sure,” replied the guard, “ Why then by St. Patrick the middle is at the one end.” His blunder arose from the circumstance, that the principle arch of a bridge is generally, though not necessarily, in the centre.
When the bridge is crossed we enter Spittal, a small though not very neat village. Looking back to Berwick, its situation seems much finer than itself. The houses are chiefly tyled, a sort of roofing greatly inferior in appearance and durability to slates. Here I had an opportunity of remarking, how certain ly our expectations will be gratified, provided we are determined that they shall be so. Only go into England, resolved, at all hazards and against “all deadly.” as our Lawyers have it, to find the people much cleaner than those you have left behind, and be assured you will find them so. We had not been three minutes in England, till a gentleman on the top of the coach, exclaimed, “ Upon my word, I think the people much cleaner already." One custom I observed is decidedly English-that of the girls carrying milk and water pails on their heads. It did not strike me however that the practice of bare legs, and bare feet, so much cried down, was one whit less common here, than in the North.
The size of the fields and per consequentiam of the farms was the first circumstance that attracted my attention. Three which we passed were 400, 500, and 1400 acres in extent. Of this I had the best reason to be satisfied, as a fellow passenger (a very sensible man) told me that one of them was tenanted by a relation of his own, from whom he had this information. Much of this part of the country, including these farms, formerly belonged to the family of Derwentwater, whose representative was attainted in 1745. His confiscated estates, were conferred on Greenwich hospital, from the trustees of which,
A Tour through the North of England.
the present tenants hold their leases. Instead of a thrashing machine, as in Scotland, there is a wind mill attached to each farm which thrashes, and in many cases, grinds the corn. As these lands lie on the sea shore, from which there are frequent breezes the wind mills are considerably more useful here than elsewhere.
A few miles in the country we meet with the princely seat of Sir Carnaby Hagerston, which strikingly resembles in size and appearance the family mansion of the Duke of Montrose. It has not the advantage of a winding river to beautify its grounds, but in other respects it is extremely similar. Sir Carnaby is the head of one of the old Catholic, and formerly Jacobitical families, of whom there are still four or five remaining in the county. Near his seat is the village of Fenwick, which I only no.. tice from the singularity of there being another of the same name in Scotland. This to sure is a trifling circumstance, but it would be puzzling to account for it. From this part of the road the traveller has a very distinct view of Holy Island—so called, from the first British copy of the Bible having been found here ; or as others say, from its having been the residence of St. Cuthbert. The town and castle are situated at some distance from each other, and if I am a good judge of likenesses, resemble the town and fort of San Sebastian in Spain, of which we heard so much during the Peninsular war. My acquaintance with the latter is derived from no better source than the print-shop windows.
The driver of a very good regulation by which he, the guard and proprietors are bound. If he is beyond the allowed time in reaching the end of his stage, he is liable in eightpence of fine for every additional minute, unless the guard can declare that it was the horse's fault, in which case the proprietor of that particular set is liable to his
co-partners. Belford, the first stage from Scotland, does not differ from Scotch villages of the same size. The change in pronunciation is now perceptible, and nothing more.
North of the town little way, and
upon a gentle eminence, is placed Belford Hall. Scarcely a hamlet do we pass in England which has not its hall or lodge. I should like to know the difference between these two terms and castle. As far as I could observe, they are applied by no better rule than the caprice of the proprietor. From Belford to Alnwick, the following stage, the road lies through
Rhapsody on Love.
somewhat of a hilly country; not differing in the least from a tract of Scotch lands equal in extent. On the road side and sometimes in inclosed fields, the stranger is surprised to find herds of swine feeding, and frequently a dozen of donkies accompanying them. Whether the donkies are used for agricultural purposes or not, I do not know, but certain it is that you meet with numbers of them, by the boundary of every
farm house. Another novelty to a stranger is the flocks of geese at every turning; These like the swine feed in grass parks, where I should think they cannot find much to satisfy their voracious
There is an ingenious contrivance for preventing them going through hedges. The ganders, whom the females always follow, have a thin pole of 2 feet in length fastened to their breasts, parallel to the ground. This when an effort is made to force an entry, completely prevents them. Alnwick, June, 1819.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir,— As I intend to continue “taking notes” till I reach Harrow. gate, you may expect another extract from my Journal about the begining of next month.
RHAPSODY ON LOVE,
And what is love? Is it a creature of the inagination, or a bauble which like a child's toy may be dangled before the eyes ? Is it a deceit, which vanity produced, or a pleasing torture which Idleness gives birth to, and Sloth continues to fan? Is it an illusory world, peopled by aerial beings, and governed by shadows? Is it a transitory feeling, built on a basis of unchaste and impure desire, which will tumble into ruins at the blast of morn, and cease to exist when assailed by the tempests of adversity, or the deluding fascinations of prosperity? "Oh no! it is fast as the rock, and unyielding as the mountain. It is a sacred fire which burns with undiminished energy, requiring but the occasional addition of a little incense. It is neither a fiction of poets, or a dream of disordered minds; but a passion pure as the stream which trickles, as yet unmixed with meaner elements, down the mountain's side, and vies with the snow in whiteness.