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enough, which, though true, was hardly flattering. Having finished my copying and my pipe, I bade my companion 'good night' and beat a hasty retreat indoors, for he appeared to be about to recommence his remarks on poets and poetry, and 'one can have too much even of a good thing.'
One meets at times very curious characters at these country inns, and many an interesting evening have I spent in the bar of such, chatting with and studying the peculiarities of the rural folk, hearing their opinions, political and otherwise, and listening to the mild scandal of the neighbourhood.
Perhaps, as I have said so much about the verses in the bowling-green of the Angel at Halesworth, I may have raised the curiosity of my readers to know what they are like. I have therefore transcribed them below; should they not care for the schoolmaster's poetry, they have full licence to skip it. You may be obliged to listen to a dull sermon or an uninteresting lecture; an author, fortunately, however, cannot compel you to read any of his work unless you are so minded, and for this very reason I often prefer printed books to spoken lectures. Books never weary me; when they become tedious I simply shut them
up. But I am wandering; here are the verses:
Life, like the game of bowls, is but an end,
Bowling too short you but obstruct the green,
Know well your bias : here the moral school
Nor yet too wide ; with caution eye your cast ;
But to return to the characters one comes upon now and again at country inns, the tradesmen of the place generally assemble in the bar in the evening; it is their club, and they chat and argue over all matters, from the affairs of the state down to the weather ; on market days you may meet with a few farmers who have stayed on to have a little gossip by way of change. In such gatherings politics seem to be a standing topic, always available when other matters fail ; a local cricket match, a wedding, or a death, however, is by far the favourite subject for discussion. Thus a quiet listener may gather a good deal of local information in no other way obtainable. In one case we heard a heated argument as to the respective advantages of free trade and fair trade. During the discussion one of the disputants ‘scored' with the following anecdote, though what authority he had for his statement I know not; possibly he evolved it from his inner consciousness. The other day the Spanish minister of finance asked a Protectionist deputation why he should be compelled to purchase his clothes in Spain when he could get them better and cheaper in England. The deputation replied, why should
they be expected to put up with him as a finance minister, when they could get a better and cheaper one in England ?' The political arguments are generally very heated, but not convincing, each party at the end retaining firmer than ever, it seemed to us, his own opinion, but on the whole they are conducted very good-naturedly, and with as much good sense or more than is shown in Parliament. Whatever the discussion may be, the listener may gather much amusement from it, if not profit. There are worse ways of spending
of spending an idle evening than in the bar of a country inn ; there you may learn the genuine opinion of the country people, freely given.
Not only from the rural folk we came across at country inns did we get entertainment, but the odd copies of local papers, old numbers of magazines, and ancient bound volumes that we discovered in our sitting-rooms afforded us frequent matter for thought and amusement. The following extract that I copied verbatim from a provincial newspaper may. be given as an example of the curious paragraphs that appear now and again in these prints. “At the late church restoration one of the items charged by the painter was: “To mending the Commandments, altering the Belief, and making a new Lord's Prayer, 41. 10s." From an old magazine bearing the strange title of 'The Post Angel, or the Athenian Mercury,' published in 1701, we gleaned some wonderful information in the • Answers to Correspondents.' Who edited these, I wonder? Why,' asks some one, does the Needle in the Sea-Compass always turn to the North ?' The reply given is :
AN OLD TIME-TABLE.
• The most received opinion is, that there is under our North Pole a huge black Rock, from under which the Ocean issueth forth in four currents answerable to the four corners of the earth, or four winds; which rock is thought to be all of a Loadstone; so that by a kind of Affinity, it draweth all such like stones or other metals touched by them towards it. Another querist asks why the sea is salt, and is answered in this wise : 'The reason of it is, when the Sun by whose beams the more thin and subtle parts are exhal'd in vapours, the more gross and terrestrial parts are left behind and become adult or salt. This is evident, in that the Southern seas are salter, and that more in summer, than others are; and therefore it is that the deeper the water the fresher it is, the sun having the most power at the top.' Now and again local antiquaries write to the country papers, and their letters are oftentimes of real interest. Here is a copy of a time-table of the first passenger railway in the world that we unearthed from an old newspaper, and I think it is well worth preserving as a great curiosity. Possibly this is one of the earliest, if not the very earliest Railway time-table ever printed; it is of the old Liverpool and Manchester line, on which it will be remembered Stephenson ran his famous locomotive the "Rocket.' It will be observed that the trains were of first and second class only, and travelled separately, also that the time of starting is given though not the hour of arrival, it merely being stated that the first class carriages usually accomplish the distance under two hours.'
RAILWAY TIME TABLE for 1830.
Times of Departure
Seven o'clock morning. Eight o'clock morning.
ditto. Half-past two afternoon.
afternoon. Half-past four ditto. For the convenience of merchants and others, the first class evening train of carriages does not leave Manchester on Tuesdays and Saturdays until half-past five o'clock. The journey is usually accomplished by the first class carriages under two hours. In addition to the above trains, it is intended to add three or four more departures daily. The company have commenced carrying goods of all kinds on their Railway.
From Halesworth we drove to Bungay through a sparsely populated but very
beautiful country, with wide prospects ever and again of woods and cultivated plains. A little more than a mile on our way, close by the fork of two roads, we came to a little public house with a very curious sign, over which was written · The Triple Plea.' Of the many signs that we had noticed this was a fresh one to us. On the board was a painted representation of three men, holding a discussion upon a figure on the ground ; looking on was the devil, very badly drawn and as red as paint could make him. The meaning of this curious sign we could not make out, and the landlady of whom we sought information replied · she knew nought about it,' and the country boors who were drinking in the tap-room replied to the same effect. One rather less drunk than the others said certainly that “it were meant for three men and