Remains of The Old Roman Bath

Devizes, Wiltshire, August 20, 1888.–The scarlet discs of the poppies
and the red and white blooms of the clover, together with wild-flowers
of many hues, bespangle now the emerald sod of England, while the air
is rich with fragrance of lime-trees and of new-mown hay. The busy and
sagacious rooks, fat and bold, wing their way in great clusters, bent
on forage and mischief. There is almost a frosty chill in the autumnal
air, and the brimming rivers, dark and deep and smoothly flowing
through the opulent, cultivated, and park-like region of Wiltshire,
look cold and bright. In many fields the hay is cut and stacked. In
others the men, and often the women, armed with rakes, are tossing it
to dry in the reluctant, intermittent, bleak sunshine of this rigorous
August. Overhead the sky is now as blue as the deep sea and now grim
and ominous with great drifting masses of slate-coloured cloud. There
are moments of beautiful sunshine by day, and in some hours of the
night the moon shines forth in all her pensive and melancholy glory. It
is a time of exquisite loveliness, and it has seemed a fitting time for
a visit to the last English home and the last resting-place of the poet
of loveliness and love, the great Irish poet Thomas Moore.

[Illustration: _Thomas Moore._]

When Moore first went up to London, a young author seeking to launch
his earliest writings upon the stream of contemporary literature, he
crossed from Dublin to Bristol and then travelled to the capital by
way of Bath and Devizes; and as he crossed several times he must soon
have gained familiarity with this part of the country. He did not,
however, settle in Wiltshire until some years afterward. His first
lodging in London was a front room, up two pair of stairs, at No. 44
George street, Portman square. He subsequently lived at No. 46 Wigmore
street, Cavendish square, and at No. 27 Bury street, St. James’s. This
was in 1805. In 1810 he resided for a time at No. 22 Molesworth street,
Dublin, but he soon returned to England. One of his homes, shortly
after his marriage with Elizabeth Dyke [“Bessie,” the sister of the
great actress Mary Duff, 1794-1857] was in Brompton. In the spring of
1812 he settled at Kegworth, but a year later he is found at Mayfield
Cottage, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire. “I am now as you wished,” he wrote
to Mr. Power, the music-publisher, July 1, 1813, “within twenty-four
hours’ drive of town.” In 1817 he occupied a cottage near the foot of
Muswell Hill, at Hornsey, Middlesex, but after he lost his daughter
Barbara, who died there, the place became distressful to him and he
left it. In the latter part of September that year, the time of their
affliction, Moore and his Bessie were the guests of Lady Donegal, at
No. 56 Davies street, Berkeley square, London. Then [November 19, 1817]
they removed to Sloperton Cottage, at Bromham, near Devizes, and their
permanent residence was established in that place. Lord Landsdowne, one
of the poet’s earliest and best friends, was the owner of that estate,
and doubtless he was the impulse of Moore’s resort to it. The present
Lord Landsdowne still owns Bowood Park, about four miles away.

[Illustration: _The Bear–Devizes._]

Devizes impresses a stranger with a singular and pleasant sense of
suspended animation,–as of beauty fallen asleep,–the sense of
something about to happen, which never occurs. More peaceful it could
not be, unless it were dead,–and that is its most alluring charm.
Two of its many streets are remarkably wide and spacious, while the
others are narrow and often crooked. Most of its habitations are
low houses, built of brick, and only a few of them, such as the old
Town Hall and the Corn Exchange, are pretentious as architecture.
The principal street runs nearly northwest and southeast. There is
a north gate at one end of it, and a south gate at the other, but
no remnant of the ancient town gates is left. The Kennet and Avon
Canal, built in 1794-1805, skirts the northern side of the town, and
thereafter descends the western slope, passing through twenty-seven
magnificent locks, within a distance of about two miles,–one of
the longest consecutive ranges of locks in England. The stateliest
building in Devizes is its noble Castle, which, reared upon a massive
hill, at once dominates the surrounding landscape and dignifies it.
That splendid edifice, built about 1830, stands upon the site of
the ancient Castle of Devizes, which was built by Roger, Bishop of
Salisbury, in the reign of Henry the First, and it resembles that
famous original,–long esteemed one of the most complete and admirable
works of its kind in Europe. The old Castle was included in the dowry
settled upon successive queens of England. Queen Margaret possessed
it in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and Queen Katharine in that of
Henry the Eighth. It figured in the Civil Wars, and it was deemed the
strongest citadel in England. The poet-soldier, Edmund Waller, when
in the service of the Parliament, bombarded it, in 1643, and finally
it was destroyed by order of the Roundheads. Toward the close of the
eighteenth century its ruins were, it is said, surmounted with a couple
of snuff-mills. No part of the ancient fortress now survives, except
the moat; but in its pleasant grounds fragmentary remnants may still be
seen of its foundations and of the dungeons of a remote age. During the
rebuilding of the Castle many relics were unearthed,–such as human
bones and implements of war,–the significant tokens of dark days and
fatal doings long since past and gone. In the centre of the town is a
commodious public square, known as the Market-place,–a wide domain of
repose, as I saw it, uninvaded by either vehicle or human being, but
on each Thursday the scene of the weekly market for cattle and corn,
and of the loquacious industry of the cheap-jack and the quack. On one
side of it is the old Bear Hotel, an exceptionally comfortable house,
memorable as the birthplace of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the famous artist
[1769-1830]. In the centre are two works of art,–one a fountain,
the other a cross. The latter, a fine fabric of Gothic architecture,
is embellished with thirteen pinnacles, which rise above an arched
canopy, the covering of a statue. One face of the cross bears this
legend: “This Market Cross was erected by Henry Viscount Sidmouth,
as a memorial of his grateful attachment to the Borough of Devizes,
of which he has been Recorder thirty years, and of which he was six
times unanimously chosen a representative in Parliament. Anno Domini
1814.” Upon the other face appears a record more significant,–being
indicative equally of credulity and a frugal mind, and being freighted
with tragic import unmatched since the Bible narrative of Ananias and
Sapphira. It reads thus:

“The Mayor and Corporation of Devizes avail themselves of the
stability of this building to transmit to future times the record of
an awful event which occurred in this market-place in the year 1753,
hoping that such a record may serve as a salutary warning against the
danger of impiously invoking the Divine vengeance, or of calling on
the holy name of God to conceal the devices of falsehood and fraud.

“On Thursday, the 25th January 1753, Ruth Pierce, of Potterne, in this
county, agreed, with three other women, to buy a sack of wheat in the
market, each paying her due proportion toward the same.

“One of these women, in collecting the several quotas of money,
discovered a deficiency, and demanded of Ruth Pierce the sum which was
wanted to make good the amount.

“Ruth Pierce protested that she had paid her share, and said, ‘She
wished she might drop down dead if she had not.’

“She rashly repeated this awful wish, when, to the consternation of
the surrounding multitude, she instantly fell down and expired, having
the money concealed in her hand.”

That is not the only grim incident in the history of the Market-place
of Devizes; for in 1533 a poor tailor, named John Bent, of the
neighbouring village of Urchfont was burnt at the stake, in that
square, for his avowed disbelief of the doctrine of transubstantiation.

An important and deeply interesting institution of Devizes is the
Wilts County Museum, in Long street, devoted to the natural history
and the archæology of Wiltshire. The library contains a priceless
collection of Wiltshire books, and the museum is rich in geological
specimens,–richer even than the excellent museum of Salisbury; for,
in addition to other treasures, it includes the famous Stourhead
collection, made by Sir Richard Colt Hoare,–being relics from the
ancient British and Saxon barrows on the Wiltshire downs. The Stourhead
collection is described by Sir Richard, in his book on “Antient Wilts.”
Its cinerary and culinary urns are fine and numerous. The Wilts County
Museum is fortunate in its curator, B. Howard Cunnington, Esq., of
Rowde–an indefatigable student, devoted to Wiltshire, and a thorough
antiquarian.

[Illustration: _St. John’s Church–Devizes._]

An interesting church in Devizes is that of St. John, the Norman tower
of which is a relic of the days of Henry the Second, a vast, grim
structure with a circular turret on one corner of it. Eastward of this
church is a long and lovely avenue of trees, and around it lies a
large burial-place, remarkable for the excellence of the sod and for
the number visible of those heavy, gray, oblong masses of tombstone
which appear to have obtained great public favour about the time of
Cromwell. In the centre of the churchyard stands a monolith, inscribed
with these words:

“Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.–This monument, as a solemn
monitor to Young People to remember their Creator in the days of their
youth, was erected by subscription.–In memory of the sudden and awful
end of Robert Merrit and his wife, Eliz. Tiley, her sister, Martha
Carter, and Josiah Denham, who were drowned, in the flower of their
youth, in a pond, near this town, called Drews, on Sunday evening, the
30th of June, 1751, and are together underneath entombed.”

In one corner of the churchyard I came upon a cross, bearing a simple
legend far more solemn, touching, and admonitory: “In Memoriam–Robert
Samuel Thornley. Died August 5, 1871. Aged 48 years. For fourteen years
surgeon to the poor of Devizes. There shall be no more pain.” And
over still another sleeper was written, upon a flat stone, low in the
ground–

“Loving, beloved, in all relations true,
Exposed to follies, but subdued by few:
Reader, reflect, and copy if you can
The simple virtues of this honest man.”

[Illustration: _Hungerford Chapel–Devizes._]

Nobody is in haste in Devizes, and the pilgrim who seeks for
peace could not do better than to tarry here. The city bell which
officially strikes the hours is subdued and pensive, and although
reinforced with chimes, it seems ever to speak under its breath. The
church-bell, however, rings long and vigorously and with much melodious
clangour,–as though the local sinners were more than commonly hard of
hearing. Near to the church of St. John, are some quaint almshouses,
but not much seems to be known of their history. One of them was
founded as a hospital for lepers, before A.D. 1207, and it is thought
that one of them was built of stone which remained after the erection
of the church. Those almshouses are now governed by the Mayor and
Corporation of Devizes, but perhaps formerly they were under the direct
control of the Crown. [See Tanner’s _Nolitia_.] There are seven
endowments, one dating back to 1641, and the houses are to this day
occupied by widows, recommended by the churchwardens of St. Mary’s
and St. John’s. An old inhabitant of Devizes, named Bancroft, left a
sum of money to insure for himself a singular memorial service,–that
the bells of St. John’s church should be solemnly tolled on the day
of his birth, and rung merrily on that of his death; and that service
is duly performed every year. Devizes is a fit place for the survival
of ancient customs, and these serve very pleasantly to mark its
peculiar and interesting character. The Town Crier, who is a member
of the Corporation, walks abroad arrayed in a helmet and a uniform of
brilliant scarlet,–glories that are worn by no other Crier in the
kingdom, excepting that of York.

As I was gazing at the old church, surrounded with many ponderous
tombstones and gray and cheerless in the gloaming, an old man
approached me and civilly began a conversation about the antiquity
of the building and the eloquence of its rector. When I told him
that I had walked to Bromham to attend the service there, and to see
the cottage and grave of Moore, he presently furnished to me that
little touch of personal testimony which is always so interesting and
significant in such circumstances. “I remember Tom Moore,” he said;
“I saw him when he was alive. I worked for him once in his house, and
I did some work once on his tomb. He was a little man. He spoke to us
very pleasantly. I don’t think he was a preacher. He never preached
that I heard tell of. He was a poet, I believe. He was very much liked
here. I never heard a word against him. I am seventy-nine years old
the thirteenth of December, and that’ll soon be here. I’ve had three
wives in my time, and my third is still living. It’s a fine old church,
and there’s figures in it of bishops, and kings, and queens.”

Most observers have remarked the odd way, garrulous, and sometimes
unconsciously humorous, in which senile persons prattle their
incongruous and sporadic recollections. But–“How pregnant sometimes
his replies are!” Another resident of Devizes, with whom I conversed,
likewise remembered the poet, and spoke of him with affectionate
respect. “My sister, when she was a child,” he said, “was often
at Moore’s house, and he was fond of her. Yes, his name is widely
remembered and honoured here. But I think that many of the people
hereabout, the farmers, admired him chiefly because they thought that
he wrote Moore’s Almanac. They used to say to him: ‘Mister Moore,
please tell us what the weather’s going to be.'”

From Devizes to the village of Bromham, a distance of about four miles,
the walk is delightful. Much of the path is between green hedges and is
embowered by elms. The exit from the town is by Northgate and along the
Chippenham road–which, like all the roads in this neighbourhood, is
smooth, hard, and white. A little way out of Devizes, going northwest,
this road makes a deep cut in the chalk-stone and so winds downhill
into the level plain. At intervals you come upon sweetly pretty
specimens of the English thatch-roof cottage. Hay-fields, pastures, and
market-gardens extend on every hand. Eastward, far off, are visible the
hills of Westbury, upon which, here and there, the copses are lovely,
and upon one of which, cut in the turf, is the figure of a colossal
white horse, said to have been put there by the Saxons, to commemorate
a victory by King Alfred.[12] Soon the road winds over a hill and you
pass through the little red village of Rowde, with its gray church
tower. The walk may be shortened by a cut across the fields, and this
indeed is found the prettiest part of the journey,–for now the path
lies through gardens, and through the centre or along the margin of
the wheat, which waves in the strong wind and sparkles in the bright
sunshine and is everywhere tenderly touched with the scarlet of
the poppy and with hues of other wild-flowers, making you think of
Shakespeare’s

“Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
With hemlock, harlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.”

There is one field through which I passed, just as the spire of Bromham
church came into view, in which a surface more than three hundred yards
square was blazing with wild-flowers, white and gold and crimson and
purple and blue, upon a plain of vivid green, so that to look upon
it was almost to be dazzled, while the air that floated over it was
scented as if with honeysuckle. You may see the delicate spire and the
low gray tower of Moore’s church some time before you come to it,
and in some respects the prospect is not unlike that of Shakespeare’s
church at Stratford. A sweeter spot for a poet’s sepulchre it would be
hard to find. No spot could be more harmonious than this one is with
the gentle, romantic spirit of Moore’s poetry, and with the purity,
refinement, and serenity of his life. Bromham village consists of a
few red brick buildings, scattered along a few irregular little lanes,
on a ridge overlooking a valley. Amid those humble homes stands the
gray church, like a shepherd keeping his flock. A part of it is very
old, and all of it, richly weather-stained and delicately browned with
fading moss, is beautiful. Upon the tower and along the south side
the fantastic gargoyles are much decayed. The building is a cross.
The chancel window faces eastward, and the window at the end of the
nave looks toward the west,–the latter being a memorial to Moore. At
the southeast corner of the building is the lady chapel, belonging to
the Bayntun family, in which are suspended various fragments of old
armour, and in the centre of which, recumbent on a great dark tomb, is
a grim-visaged knight, clad from top to toe in his mail, beautifully
sculptured in marble that looks like yellow ivory. Vandal visitors
have disgracefully marred this superb work, by cutting and scratching
their names upon it. Other tombs are adjacent, with inscriptions
that implicate the names of Sir Edward Bayntun, 1679, and Lady Anne
Wilmot, elder daughter and co-heiress of John, Earl of Rochester, who
successively was the wife of Henry Bayntun and Francis Greville, and
who died in 1703. The window at the end of the nave is a simple but
striking composition, in stained glass, richer and nobler than is
commonly seen in a country church. It consists of twenty-one lights,
of which five are lancet shafts, side by side, these being surmounted
with smaller lancets, forming a cluster at the top of the arch. In
the centre is the figure of Jesus and around Him are the Apostles.
The colouring is soft, true, and beautiful. Across the base of the
window appear the words, in the glass: “This window is placed in this
church by the combined subscriptions of two hundred persons who honour
the memory of the poet of all circles and the idol of his own, Thomas
Moore.” It was beneath this window, in a little pew in the corner
of the church, that the present writer joined in the service, and
meditated, throughout a long sermon, on the lovely life and character
and the gentle, noble, and abiding influence of the poet whose hallowed
grave and beloved memory make this place a perpetual shrine.

Moore was buried in the churchyard. An iron fence encloses his tomb,
which is at the base of the church tower, in an angle formed by the
tower and the chancel, on the north side of the building. Not more than
twenty tombs are visible on this side of the church, and these appear
upon a level lawn, as green and sparkling as an emerald and as soft as
velvet. On three sides the churchyard is enclosed by a low wall, and on
the fourth by a dense hedge of glistening holly. Great trees are all
around the church, but not too near. A massive yew stands darkly at one
corner. Chestnuts and elms blend their branches in fraternal embrace.
Close by the poet’s grave a vast beech uprears its dome of fruited
boughs and rustling foliage. The sky was blue, except for a few
straggling masses of fleecy, slate-coloured cloud. Not a human creature
was anywhere to be seen while I stood in this sacred spot, and no sound
disturbed the Sabbath stillness, save the faint whisper of the wind
in the lofty tree-tops and the low twitter of birds in their hidden
nests. I thought of his long life, unblemished by personal fault or
public error; of his sweet devotion to parents and wife and children;
of his pure patriotism, which scorned equally the blatant fustian of
the demagogue and the frenzy of the revolutionist; of his unsurpassed
fidelity in friendship; of his simplicity and purity in a corrupt
time and amid many temptations; of his meekness in affliction; of the
devout spirit that prompted his earnest exhortation to his wife, “Lean
upon God, Bessie”; of the many beautiful songs that he added to our
literature,–every one of which is the melodious and final expression
of one or another of the elemental feelings of human nature; and of the
obligation of endless gratitude that the world owes to his fine, high,
and beneficent genius. And thus it seemed good to be in this place and
to lay with reverent hands the white roses of honour and affection upon
his tomb.

On the long, low, flat stone that covers the poet’s dust are inscribed
the following words: “Anastatia Mary Moore. Born March 16, 1813. Died
March 8, 1829. Also her brother, John Russell Moore, who died November
23, 1842, aged 19 years. Also their father, Thomas Moore, tenderly
beloved by all who knew the goodness of his heart. The Poet and Patriot
of his Country, Ireland. Born May 28, 1779. Sank to rest February 26,
1852. Aged 72. God is Love. Also his wife, Bessie Moore, who died 4th
September 1865. And to the memory of their dear son, Thomas Lansdowne
Parr Moore. Born 24th October 1818. Died in Africa, January 1846.”
Moore’s daughter, Barbara, is buried at Hornsey, near London, in the
same churchyard where rests the poet Samuel Rogers. On the stone that
marks that spot is written, “Anne Jane Barbara Moore. Born January the
4th, 1812. Died September the 18th, 1817.”

Northwest from Bromham church[13] and about one mile away stands
Sloperton Cottage,[14] the last home of the poet and the house in which
he died. A deep valley intervenes between the church and the cottage,
but, as each is built upon a ridge, you may readily see the one from
the other. There is a road across the valley, but the more pleasant
walk is along a pathway through the meadows and over several stiles,
ending almost in front of the storied house. It is an ideal home for a
poet. The building is made of brick, but it is so completely enwrapped
in ivy that scarcely a particle of its surface can be seen. It is a
low building, with three gables on its main front and with a wing; it
stands in the middle of a garden enclosed by walls and by hedges of
ivy; and it is embowered by great trees, yet not so closely embowered
as to be shorn of the prospect from its windows. Flowers and flowering
vines were blooming around it. The hard, white road, flowing past its
gateway, looked like a thread of silver between the green hedgerows
which here for many miles are rooted in high, grassy banks, and at
intervals are diversified with large trees. Sloperton Cottage is almost
alone, but there are a few neighbours, and there is the little rustic
village of Westbrook, about half a mile westward. Westward was the
poet’s favourite prospect. He loved the sunset, and from a terrace
in his garden he habitually watched the pageant of the dying day.
Here, for thirty-five years, was his peaceful and happy home. Here
he meditated many of those gems of lyrical poetry that will live in
the hearts of men as long as anything lives that ever was written by
mortal hand. And here he “sank to rest,” worn out at last by incessant
labour and by many sorrows,–the bitter fruit of domestic bereavement
and of disappointment. The sun was sinking as I turned away from this
hallowed haunt of genius and virtue, and, through green pastures and
flower-spangled fields of waving grain, set forth upon my homeward
walk. Soon there was a lovely peal of chimes from Bromham church tower,
answered far off by the bells of Rowde, and while I descended into the
darkening valley, Moore’s tender words came singing through my thought:

“And so ’twill be when I am gone–
That tuneful peal will still ring on,
While other bards shall walk these dells
And sing your praise, sweet evening bells!”

August 21, 1888.–From Devizes the traveller naturally turns toward
Bath, which is only a few miles distant. A beautiful city, marred
somewhat by the feverish, disturbing spirit of the present day,
this old place [so old that in it the Saxon King Edgar was crowned,
A.D. 973] nevertheless retains many interesting characteristics of
its former glory. More than a century has passed since the wigged,
powdered, and jewelled days of Beau Nash. The Avon,–for there is
another Avon here, distinct from that of Warwickshire and also from
that of Yorkshire,–is spanned by bridges that Smollett never dreamt
of and Sheridan never saw. The town has crept upward, along both
the valley slopes, nearer and nearer to the hill-tops that used to
look down upon it. Along the margins of the river many gray, stone
structures are mouldering in neglect and decay; but a tramcar rattles
through the principal street; the boot-black and the newsvender are
active and vociferous; the causeways are crowded with a bustling
throng, and carts and carriages dash and scramble over the pavement,
while, where of old the horn used to sound a gay flourish and the
coach to come spinning in from London, now is heard the shriek and
clangour of the steam-engine dashing down the vale, with morning papers
and with passengers, three hours from the town. This, indeed, is not
“the season” and of late it has rained with zealous persistence, so
that Bath is not in her splendour. Much however can be seen, and the
essential fact that she is no longer the Gainsborough belle that she
used to be is distinctly evident. You must yield your mind to fancy if
you would conjure up, while walking in these modern streets, the gay
and quaint things described in _Humphrey Clinker_ or indicated in _The
Rivals_. The Bath chairs, sometimes pulled by donkeys, and sometimes
trundled by men, are among the most representative relics now to be
seen. Next to the theatre [where it was my privilege to enjoy and
admire Mr. John L. Toole’s quaint and richly humorous performance of
_The Don_], stands a building, at the foot of Gascoigne place, before
which the traveller pauses with interest, because upon its front he
may read the legend, neatly engraved on a white marble slab, that “In
this house lived the celebrated Beau Nash, and here he died, February
1761.” It is an odd structure, consisting of two stories and an attic,
the front being of the monotonous stucco that came in with the Regent.
Earlier no doubt the building was timbered. There are eleven windows in
the front, four of them being painted on the wall. The house is used
now by an auctioneer. In the historic Pump Room, dating back to 1797,
raised aloft in an alcove at the east end, still stands the effigy
of the Beau, even as it stood in the days when he set the fashions,
regulated the customs, and gave the laws, and was the King of Bath; but
the busts of Newton and Pope that formerly stood on either side of this
statue stand there no more, save in the fancy of those who recall the
epigram which was suggested by that singular group:

“This statue placed these busts between
Gives satire all its strength;
Wisdom and Wit are little seen,
But Folly at full length.”

[Illustration: _Beau Nash._]

Folly, though, is a word that carries a different meaning to different
ears. Douglas Jerrold made a play on the subject of Beau Nash, an
ingenious, effective, brilliantly written play, in which he is depicted
as anything but foolish. Much always depends on the point of view.

[Illustration: _Bath Abbey._]

Quin [1693-1766] was buried in Bath Abbey, and Bath is the scene of
_The Rivals_. It would be pleasant to fancy the trim figure of the
elegant Sir Lucius O’Trigger strolling along the parade; or bluff and
choleric Sir Anthony Absolute gazing with imperious condescension
upon the galaxy of the Pump Room; Acres in his absurd finery; Lydia
with her sentimental novels; and Mrs. Malaprop, rigid with decorum, in
her Bath chair. The Abbey, begun in 1405 and completed in 1606, has a
noble west front and a magnificent door of carved oak, and certainly it
is a superb church; but the eyes that have rested upon such cathedrals
as those of Lincoln, Durham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, such a heavenly
jewel as Roslin, and such an astounding and overwhelming edifice as
York minster, can dwell calmly on Bath Abbey. A surprising feature
in it is its mural record of the dead that are entombed beneath or
around it. Sir Lucius might well declare that “There is snug lying in
the Abbey.” Almost every foot of the walls is covered with monumental
slabs, and like Captain Cuttle, after the wedding of Mr. Dombey and
Edith Granger, I “pervaded the body of the church” and read the
epitaphs,–solicitous to discover that of the renowned actor James
Quin. His tablet was formerly to be found in the chancel, but now it
is obscurely placed in a porch, on the north corner of the building,
on what may be termed the outer wall of the sanctuary. It presents the
face of the famous comedian, carved in white marble and set against
a black slab. Beneath is the date of his death, “Ob. MDCCLXVI. Ætat.
LXXIII.,” and his epitaph, written by David Garrick. At the base
are dramatic emblems,–the mask and the dagger. As a portrait this
medallion of Quin gives convincing evidence of scrupulous fidelity to
nature, and certainly it is a fine work of art. The head is dressed
as it was in life, with the full wig of the period. The features are
delicately cut and are indicative of austere beauty of countenance,
impressive if not attractive. The mouth is especially handsome, the
upper lip being a perfect Cupid’s bow. The face is serious, expressive,
and fraught with intellect and power. This was the last great declaimer
of the old school of acting, discomfited and almost obliterated by
Garrick; and here are the words that Garrick wrote upon his tomb:

“That tongue which set the table on a roar
And charmed the public ear is heard no more;
Closed are those eyes, the harbingers of wit,
Which spoke, before the tongue, what Shakespeare writ;
Cold is that hand which, living, was stretched forth,
At friendship’s call, to succour modest worth.
Here lies JAMES QUIN. Deign, reader, to be taught
Whate’er thy strength of body, force of thought,
In nature’s happiest mould however cast,
To this complexion thou must come at last.”

[Illustration: _High Street–Bath._]

A printed reminder of mortality is superfluous in Bath, for you
almost continually behold afflicted and deformed persons who have
come here to “take the waters.” For rheumatic sufferers this place
is a paradise,–as, indeed, it is for all wealthy persons who love
luxury. Walter Savage Landor said that the only two cities of Europe
in which he could live were Bath and Florence; but that was long ago.
When you have walked in Milsom street and Lansdowne Crescent, sailed
upon the Avon, observed the Abbey, without and within,–for its dusky,
weather-stained walls are extremely picturesque,–attended the theatre,
climbed the hills for the view of the city and the Avon valley, and
taken the baths, you will have had a satisfying experience of Bath.
The greatest luxury in the place is a swimming-tank of mineral water,
about forty feet long, by twenty broad, and five feet deep,–a tepid
pool of most refreshing potency. And the chief curiosity is the ruin of
a Roman bath which was discovered and laid bare in 1885. This is built
in the form of a rectangular basin of stone, with steps around it,
and originally it was environed with stone chambers that were used as
dressing-rooms. The basin is nearly perfect. The work of restoration of
this ancient bath is in progress, but the relic will be preserved only
as an emblem of the past.

[Illustration: _A Fragment from an Old Roman Bath._]

Thomas Haynes Bayly, the song-writer, 1797-1839, was born in Bath,
and there he melodiously recorded that “She wore a wreath of roses,”
and there he dreamed of dwelling “in marble halls.” But Bath is not
nearly as rich in literary associations as its neighbour city of
Bristol. Chatterton, Southey, Hannah More, and Mary Robinson,–the
actress, the lovely and unfortunate “Perdita,”–were born in Bristol.
Richard Savage, the poet, died there [1743], and so did John Hippesley,
the comedian, manager, and farce-writer [1748]. St. Mary Redclyffe
church, built in 1292, is still standing there, of which Chatterton’s
father was the sexton, and in the tower of which “the marvellous boy”
discovered, according to his ingenious plan of literary imposture, the
original Canynge and Rowley manuscripts. The ancient chests, which
once were filled with black-letter parchments, remain in a loft in
the church tower, but they are empty now. That famous preacher, the
Rev. Robert Hall [1764-1831], had a church in Bristol. Southey and
Coleridge married sisters, of the name of Fricker, who resided there,
and a house called Myrtle Cottage, once occupied by Coleridge is still
extant, in the contiguous village of Clevedon,–one of the loveliest
places on the English coast. Jane Porter and Anna Maria Porter lived
in Bristol, and Maria died at Montpelier, near by. These references
indicate but a tithe of what may be seen, studied, and enjoyed in and
about Bristol,–the city to which Chatterton left his curse; the region
hallowed by the dust of Arthur Hallam,–inspiration of Tennyson’s _In
Memoriam_, the loftiest poem that has been created in the English
language since the pen that wrote _Childe Harold_ fell from the magical
hand of Byron.

A good way by which to enter the Lake District of England is to travel
to Penrith and thence to drive along the shore of Ullswater, or sail
upon its crystal bosom, to the blooming solitude of Patterdale. Penrith
lies at the eastern slope of the mountains of Westmoreland, and you may
see the ruins of Penrith Castle, once the property and the abode of
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, before he became King of England. Penrith
Castle was one of the estates that were forfeited by the great Earl of
Warwick, and King Edward the Fourth gave it to his brother Richard, in
1471. It is recorded that Richard had lived there for five years, from
1452 to 1457, when he was Sheriff of Cumberland. Not much remains of
that ancient structure, and the remnant is now occupied by a florist.
I saw it, as I saw almost everything else in Great Britain during the
summer of 1888, under a tempest of rain; for it rained there, with a
continuity almost ruinous, from the time of the lilac and apple-blossom
till when the clematis began to show the splendour of its purple
shield and the acacia to drop its milky blossoms on the autumnal grass.
But travellers must not heed the weather. If there are dark days there
are also bright ones,–and one bright day in such a paradise as the
English Lakes atones for the dreariness of a month of rain. Besides,
even the darkest days may be brightened by gentle companionship.
Henry Irving[15] and Ernest Bendall, two of the most intellectual and
genial men in England, were my associates, in that expedition. We went
from London into Westmoreland on a mild, sweet day in July, and we
rambled for several days in that enchanted region. It was a delicious
experience, and I often close my eyes and dream of it–as I am dreaming
now.

[Illustration: PENRITH CASTLE]

[Illustration: _Ullswater._]

In the drive between Penrith and Patterdale you see many things that
are worthy of regard. Among these are the parish church of Penrith, a
building made of red stone, remarkable for a massive square tower of
great age and formidable aspect. In the adjacent churchyard are The
Giant’s Grave and The Giant’s Thumb, relics of a distant past that
strongly and strangely affect the imagination. The grave is said to
be that of Ewain Cæsarius,[16] a gigantic individual who reigned over
Cumberland in remote Saxon times. The Thumb is a rough stone, about
seven feet high, presenting a clumsy cross, and doubtless commemorative
of another mighty warrior. Sir Walter Scott, who traversed Penrith
on his journeys between Edinburgh and London, seldom omitted to pause
for a view of those singular memorials, and Scott, like Wordsworth,
has left upon this region the abiding impress of his splendid genius.
Ulfo’s Lake is Scott’s name for Ullswater, and thereabout is laid
the scene of his poem of _The Bridal of Triermain_. In Scott’s day
the traveller went by coach or on horseback, but now, “By lonely
Threlkeld’s waste and wood,” at the foot of craggy Blencathara, you
pause at a railway station having Threlkeld in large letters on its
official signboard. Another strange thing that is passed on the
road between Penrith and Patterdale is “Arthur’s Round Table,”–a
circular terrace of turf slightly raised above the surrounding
level, and certainly remarkable, whatever may be its historic or
antiquarian merit, for fine texture, symmetrical form, and lovely,
luxuriant colour. Scholars think it was used for tournaments in the
days of chivalry, but no one rightly knows anything about it, save
that it is old. Not far from this bit of mysterious antiquity the
road winds through a quaint village called Tirril, where, in the
Quaker burial-ground, is the grave of an unfortunate young man,
Charles Gough, who lost his life by falling from the Striding Edge
of Helvellyn in 1805, and whose memory is hallowed by Wordsworth and
Scott, in poems that almost every schoolboy has read, and could never
forget,–associated as they are with the story of the faithful dog, for
three months in that lonesome wilderness vigilant beside the dead body
of his master,

“A lofty precipice in front,
A silent tarn below.”

Patterdale possesses this advantage over certain other towns and
hamlets of the lake region, that it is not much frequented by tourists.
The coach does indeed roll through it at intervals, laden with those
miscellaneous, desultory visitors whose pleasure it is to rush wildly
over the land. And those objects serve to remind you that now, even
as in Wordsworth’s time, and in a double sense, “the world is too
much with us.” But an old-fashioned inn, Kidd’s Hotel, still exists,
at the head of Ullswater, to which fashion has not resorted and where
kindness presides over the traveller’s comfort. Close by also is a cosy
nook called Glenridding, where, if you are a lover of solitude and
peace, you may find an ideal abode. One house wherein lodging may be
obtained was literally embowered in roses on that summer evening when
first I strolled by the fragrant hay-fields on the Patterdale shore of
Ullswater. The rose flourishes in wonderful luxuriance and profusion
throughout Westmoreland and Cumberland. As you drive along the lonely
roads your way will sometimes be, for many miles, between hedges that
are bespangled with wild roses and with the silver globes of the laurel
blossom, while around you the lonely mountains, bare of foliage save
for matted grass and a dense growth of low ferns, tower to meet the
clouds. It is a wild place, and yet there is a pervading spirit of
refinement over it all,–as if Nature had here wrought her wonders
in the mood of the finest art. And at the same time it is a place
of infinite variety. The whole territory occupied by the lakes and
mountains of this famous district is scarcely more than thirty miles
square; yet within this limit, comparatively narrow, are comprised
all possible beauties of land and water that the most passionate
worshipper of natural loveliness could desire.

My first night in Patterdale was one of such tempest as sometimes rages
in America about the time of the fall equinox. The wind shook the
building. It was long after midnight when I went to rest, and the storm
seemed to increase in fury as the night wore on. Torrents of rain were
dashed against the windows. Great trees near by creaked and groaned
beneath the strength of the gale. The cold was so severe that blankets
were welcome. It was my first night in Wordsworth’s country, and I
thought of Wordsworth’s lines:

“There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods.”

The next morning was sweet with sunshine and gay with birds and
flowers, and all semblance of storm and trouble seemed banished forever.

“But now the sun is shining calm and bright,
And birds are singing in the distant woods.”

Wordsworth’s poetry expresses the inmost soul of those lovely lakes and
mighty hills, and no writer can hope to tread, save remotely and with
reverent humility, in the footsteps of that magician. You understand
Wordsworth better, however, and you love him more dearly, for having
rambled over his consecrated ground. There was not a day when I did
not, in some shape or another, meet with his presence. Whenever I was
alone his influence came upon me as something unspeakably majestic and
solemn. Once, on a Sunday, I climbed to the top of Place Fell[17]
[which is 2154 feet above the sea-level, while Scawfell Pike is 3210,
and Helvellyn is 3118], and there, in the short space of two hours, I
was thrice cut off by rainstorms from all view of the world beneath.
Not a tree could I find on that mountain-top, nor any place of shelter
from the blast and the rain, except when crouching beside the mound
of rock at its summit, which in that country they call a “man.” Not
a living creature was visible, save now and then a lonely sheep, who
stared at me for a moment and then scurried away. But when the skies
cleared and the cloudy squadrons of the storm went careering over
Helvellyn, I looked down into no less than fifteen valleys beautifully
coloured by the foliage and the patches of cultivated land, each vale
being sparsely fringed with little gray stone dwellings that seemed
no more than card-houses, in those appalling depths. You think of
Wordsworth, in such a place as that,–if you know his poetry. You
cannot choose but think of him.

“Who comes not hither ne’er shall know
How beautiful the world below.”

Yet somehow it happened that whenever friends joined in those rambles
the great poet was sure to dawn upon us in a comic way. When we were
resting on the bridge at the foot of Brothers Water, which is a little
lake, scarcely more than a mountain tarn, lying between Ullswater and
the Kirkstone Pass, some one recalled that Wordsworth had once rested
there and written a poem about it. We were not all as devout admirers
of the bard as I am, and certainly it is not every one of the great
author’s compositions that a lover of his genius would wish to hear
quoted, under such circumstances. The Brothers Water poem is the one
that begins “The cock is crowing, the stream is flowing,” and I do
not think that its insipidity is much relieved by its famous picture
of the grazing cattle, “forty feeding like one.” Henry Irving, not
much given to enthusiasm about Wordsworth, heard those lines with
undisguised merriment, and made a capital travesty of them on the
spot. It is significant to remember, with reference to the inequality
of Wordsworth, that on the day before he wrote “The cock is crowing,”
and at a place but a short distance from the Brothers Water bridge,
he had written that peerless lyric about the daffodils,–“I wandered
lonely as a cloud.” Gowbarrow Park is the scene of that poem,–a place
of ferns and hawthorns, notable for containing Lyulph’s Tower, a
romantic, ivy-clad lodge owned by the Duke of Norfolk, and Aira Force,
a waterfall much finer than Lodore. Upon the lake shore in Gowbarrow
Park you may still see the daffodils as Wordsworth saw them, a golden
host, “glittering and dancing in the breeze.” No one but a true poet
could have made that perfect lyric, with its delicious close:

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude:
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

[Illustration: _Lyulph’s Tower–Ullswater._]

The third and fourth lines were written by the poet’s wife, and they
show that she was not a poet’s wife in vain. It must have been in his
“vacant mood” that he rested and wrote, on the bridge at Brothers
Water. “I saw Wordsworth often when I was a child,” said Frank
Marshall[18] [who had joined us at Penrith]; “he used to come to my
father’s house, Patterdale Hall, and once I was sent to the garden by
Mrs. Wordsworth to call him to supper. He was musing there, I suppose.
He had a long, horse-like face. I don’t think I liked him. I said,
‘Your wife wants you.’ He looked down at me and he answered, ‘My
boy, you should say Mrs. Wordsworth, and not “your wife.”‘ I looked
up at him and I replied, ‘She _is_ your wife, isn’t she?’ Whereupon
he said no more. I don’t think he liked me either.” We were going up
Kirkstone Pass when Marshall told this story,–which seemed to bring
the pensive and homely poet plainly before us. An hour later, at the
top of the pass, while waiting in the old inn called the Traveller’s
Rest, which incorrectly proclaims itself the highest inhabited house
in England,[19] I spoke with an ancient, weather-beaten hostler, not
wholly unfamiliar with the medicinal virtue of ardent spirits, and
asked for his opinion of the great lake poet. “Well,” he said, “people
are always talking about Wordsworth, but I don’t see much in it. I’ve
read it, but I don’t care for it. It’s dry stuff–it don’t chime.”
Truly there are all sorts of views, just as there are all sorts of
people.

[Illustration: _William Wordsworth._]

Mementos of Wordsworth are frequently encountered by the traveller
among these lakes and fells. One of them, situated at the foot of
Place Fell, is a rustic cottage that the poet once selected for his
residence: it was purchased for him by Lord Lonsdale, as a partial
indemnity for losses caused by an ancestor of his to Wordsworth’s
father. The poet liked the place, but he never lived there. The
house somewhat resembles the Shakespeare cottage at Stratford,–the
living-room being floored with stone slabs, irregular in size and
shape and mostly broken by hard use. In a corner of the kitchen stands
a fine carved oak cupboard, dark with age, inscribed with the date of
the Merry Monarch, 1660.

[Illustration: _Approach to Ambleside._]

What were the sights of those sweet days that linger still, and will
always linger, in my remembrance? A ramble in the park of Patterdale
Hall [the old name of the estate is Halsteads], which is full of
American trees; a golden morning in Dovedale, with Irving, much like
Jaques, reclined upon a shaded rock, half-way up the mountain, musing
and moralising in his sweet, kind way, beside the brawling stream; the
first prospect of Windermere, from above Ambleside,–a vision of heaven
upon earth; the drive by Rydal Water, which has all the loveliness of
celestial pictures seen in dreams; the glimpse of stately Rydal Hall
and of the sequestered Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth so long lived and
where he died; the Wishing Gate, where one of us, I know, wished in his
heart that he could be young again and be wiser than to waste his youth
in self-willed folly; the restful hours of observation and thought at
delicious Grasmere, where we stood in silence at Wordsworth’s grave
and heard the murmur of Rotha singing at his feet; the lovely drive
past Matterdale, across the moorlands, with only clouds and rooks for
our chance companions, and mountains for sentinels along our way; the
ramble through Keswick, all golden and glowing in the afternoon sun,
till we stood by Crosthwaite church and read the words of commemoration
that grace the tomb of Robert Southey; the divine circuit of
Derwent,–surely the loveliest sheet of water in England; the descent
into the vale of Keswick, with sunset on the rippling crystal of the
lake and the perfume of countless wild roses on the evening wind. These
things, and the midnight talk about these things,–Irving, so tranquil,
so gentle, so full of keen and sweet appreciation of them,–Bendall, so
bright and thoughtful,–Marshall, so quaint and jolly, and so full of
knowledge equally of nature and of books!–can never be forgotten. In
one heart they are cherished forever.

[Illustration: _Grasmere Church._]

Wordsworth is buried in Grasmere churchyard, close by the wall, on
the bank of the little river Rotha. “Sing him thy best,” said Matthew
Arnold, in his lovely dirge for the great poet–

“Sing him thy best! for few or none
Hears thy voice right, now he is gone.”

In the same grave with Wordsworth sleeps his devoted wife. Beside them
rest the poet’s no less devoted sister Dorothy, who died at Rydal Mount
in 1855, aged 83, and his daughter, Dora, together with her husband
Edward Quillinan, of whom Arnold wrote so tenderly:

“Alive, we would have changed his lot,
We would not change it now.”

On the low gravestone that marks the sepulchre of Wordsworth are
written these words: “William Wordsworth, 1850. Mary Wordsworth, 1859.”
In the neighbouring church a mural tablet presents this inscription:

“To the memory of William Wordsworth. A true poet and philosopher,
who by the special gift and calling of Almighty God, whether he
discoursed on man or nature, failed not to lift up the heart to holy
things, tired not of maintaining the cause of the poor and simple,
and so in perilous times was raised up to be a chief minister, not
only of noblest poetry, but of high and sacred truth. The memorial is
raised here by his friends and neighbours, in testimony of respect,
affection, and gratitude. Anno MDCCCLI.”

[Illustration: _Rydal Mount–Wordsworth’s Seat._]

A few steps from that memorable group will bring you to the marble
cross that marks the resting-place of Hartley Coleridge, son of the
great author of _The Ancient Mariner_, himself a poet of exquisite
genius; and close by is a touching memorial to the gifted man who
inspired Matthew Arnold’s poems of _The Scholar-Gipsy_ and _Thyrsis_.
This is a slab laid upon his mother’s grave, at the foot of her
tombstone, inscribed with these words:

“In memory of Arthur Hugh Clough, some time Fellow of Oriel College,
Oxford, the beloved son of James Butler and Anne Clough. This
remembrance in his own country is placed on his mother’s grave by
those to whom life was made happy by his presence and his love. He is
buried in the Swiss cemetery at Florence, where he died, November 13,
1861, aged 42.

“‘So, dearest, now thy brows are cold
I see thee what thou art, and know
Thy likeness to the wise below,
Thy kindred with the great of old.'”

Southey rests in Crosthwaite churchyard, about half a mile north of
Keswick, where he died. They show you Greta Hall, a fine mansion, on a
little hill, enclosed in tall trees, which for forty years, ending in
1843, was the poet’s home. In the church is a marble figure of Southey,
recumbent on a large stone sarcophagus. His grave is in the ground, a
little way from the church, marked by a low flat tomb, on the end of
which appears an inscription commemorative of a servant who had lived
fifty years in his family and is buried near him. There was a pretty
scene at this grave. When I came to it Irving was already there, and
was speaking to a little girl who had guided him to the spot. “If any
one were to give you a shilling, my dear,” he said, “what would you
do with it?” The child was confused and she murmured softly, “I don’t
know, sir.” “Well,” he continued, “if any one were to give you two
shillings, what would you do?” She said she would save it. “But what if
it were three shillings?” he asked, and each time he spoke he dropped
a silver coin into her hand, till he must have given her more than a
dozen of them. “Four–five–six–seven–what would you do with the
money?” “I would give it to my mother, sir,” she answered at last, her
little face all smiles, gazing up at the stately, sombre stranger,
whose noble countenance never looked more radiant than it did then,
with gentle kindness and pleasure. It is a trifle to mention, but it
was touching in its simplicity; and that amused group, around the grave
of Southey, in the blaze of the golden sun of a July afternoon, with
Skiddaw looming vast and majestic over all, will linger with me as
long as anything lovely and of good report is treasured in my memory.
Long after we had left the place I chanced to speak of its peculiar
interest. “The most interesting thing I saw there,” said Irving,
“was that sweet child.” I do not think the great actor was ever much
impressed with the beauties of the lake poets.

Another picture glimmers across my dream,–a picture of peace and
happiness which may close this rambling reminiscence of gentle days. We
had driven up the pass between Glencoin and Gowbarrow, and had reached
Matterdale, on our way toward Troutbeck station,–not the beautiful
Windermere Troutbeck, but the less famous one. The road is lonely,
but at Matterdale the traveller sees a few houses, and there our gaze
was attracted by a gray church nestled in a hollow of the hillside.
It stands sequestered in its place of graves, with bright greensward
around it and a few trees. A faint sound of organ music floated from
this sacred building and seemed to deepen the hush of the summer wind
and shed a holier calm upon the lovely solitude. We dismounted and
silently entered the church. A youth and a maiden, apparently lovers,
were sitting at the organ,–the youth playing and the girl listening,
and looking with tender trust and innocent affection into his face.
He recognised our presence with a kindly nod, but went on with the
music. I do not think she saw us at all. The place was full of soft,
warm light streaming through the stained glass of Gothic windows and
fragrant with perfume floating from the hay-fields and the dew-drenched
roses of many a neighbouring hedge. Not a word was spoken, and after
a few moments we departed, as silently as we had come. Those lovers
will never know what eyes looked upon them that day, what hearts were
comforted with the sight of their happiness, or how a careworn man,
three thousand miles away, fanning upon his hearthstone the dying
embers of hope, now thinks of them with tender sympathy, and murmurs a
blessing on the gracious scene which their presence so much endeared.

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