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could not but observe what was before them. If they went with slower speed than we do, they saw more, they were not taken into darksome tunnels under hills, or through gloomy cuttings just where the scenery is most beautiful, as are their descendants in this advanced age. And if in the light of this our day we consider that they made haste slowly, what of it ? Life was not the feverish thing it is now, an endless rushing hither and thither, a ceaseless competition and striving for wealth ; men then had time to live as well as to die; and it could hardly be said of our forefathers, the Puritans excepted (and I doubt much if they were as severe as some would have us believe), that they took their pleasures sadly.'
In times past then, when travelling Englishmen knew more of their own country than they do now, the view from the Langdon Hills was often stated to be the finest in England.' That experienced traveller Arthur Young, in his ‘Six Weeks' Tour in the Southern Counties,' thus writes of this spot : 'On the summit of a vast hill, one of the most astonishing prospects to be beheld breaks out almost at once from one of the dark lanes. Such a prodigious valley everywhere clothed with the finest verdure, and intersected with numberless hedges and woods, appears beneath you, that it is past description—the Thames winding through it full of ships, and bounded by the hills of Kent. Nothing can exceed it unless that which Hannibal exhibited to his disconsolate troops when he bade them behold the glories of the Italian plains. I beg
AN OLD TRAVELLER'S OPINION.
I never beheld anything equal to it, even in the West of England, that region of landscape. Due allowance must, of course, be made for the grandiloquent and exaggerative language which our ancestors delighted to employ when describing scenery at all out of the common-place ; still it must be noted that this skilled traveller had seen much of other lands besides his own, and the true value of his remarks can therefore be estimated by the comparisons he makes.
This of English views is certainly unique in one respect : the prospect—which, by the way, comes suddenly upon the observer and gains greatly by the fact-is uninterrupted in all directions, and the Thames, widening to a mighty river here, gives a sense of vastness to the scene more suggestive of Western America, that land of big rivers, mighty distances, and broad effects, than a portion of our tight little island,' where, as a rule, simple grandeur gives place to perfected beauty, and wild spaciousness to gem-like loveliness.
In truth, as we looked seaward down upon our famous English river, where it flows on in the full majesty of its breadth and power, we felt, without a great strain upon our imagination, that we could fancy ourselves gazing upon one of those illimitable prospects that form so grand and impressive a feature of the wild western territories of the States.
Of the many thousands who go to Richmond Hill and delight in that popular and deservedly farfamed view—of these thousands, how many, I wonder,
are even aware of this other and grander view of the same river ? Richmond Hill is stamped with the hall-mark of fashion, crowds of Londoners flock thither yearly, a vast hotel permits the worthy Briton to fare luxuriously whilst he admires the scene, and the average Briton can combine these two things to his own great satisfaction. Whereas at the Langdon hills there is only a primitive inn, cosy and comfortable in its way truly, but guiltless of tables-d'hôte, and possessing not even a single black-coated waiter ; a rustic hostel that proclaims itself with the good old-fashioned sign. When we were there we had the view all to ourselves, nor did we enjoy it the less because of the absence of the professional excursionist. Perchance some day this spot will become fashionable and famous, a grand hotel will take the place of the unpretentious little inn, and the Langdon hills become the rendezvous of sightseers. The speculative builder
then an unwelcome appearance, and cover the pleasant hill side with his desirable residences' in the Victorian villa, the pseudo-Queen Anne, or some other style for the time in vogue, as assertive and commonplace as stucco or cheap brick and plate-glass can make them. Bran new buildings, spic-and-span, may supersede the rural cottages whose windows are leaden-lattice merely and roofs of primitive thatch, but oh! how homely and picturesque! Well, on the whole, perhaps it is best that the Langdon hills should remain unknown and unfamed.
put in CHAPTER II.
A Forsaken Church-East Horndon—The resting place of Queen
Anne Boleyn’s Head-Relics-Herongate—An old Coaching InnChat with an Ostler-A Wayside Memorial—A Fine Sign - The Pleasures of Photography-Ingatestone—The Scene of “Lady Audley's Secret'-Margaretting-A Unique Brass-A Quaint Signboard.
LEAVING our rustic little hostel we proceeded along the crest of the Langdon hills past a new stone church that has been built upon the very summit-a landmark for miles around—then we descended by tree-shaded winding lane that would not have discredited Devonshire to the lowland country once again. The hill side to our right, sloping down to the sunlit country, was covered with woods, the ground beneath the trunks of the trees was literally carpeted with wild hyacinths, a miracle of colour, a deep pure ultramarine that made even the blue of the sky above seem pale. How nature can paint when she chooses! Proceeding on our way, we came upon the cosy little vicarage, whose gable ends peeped pleasantly through the foliage, and whose chimneys, we observed, were ingeniously planned to prevent their smoking; the design, manifestly the outcome of necessity, was not the ungainly feature such contrivances mostly are, but quaintly original, and picturesque rather than the reverse, a vast improvement upon the graceless chimney-pots and hideous cowls that pretend to cure smoky chimneys in London. And if the arrangement answers its purpose, and it looked as if it should, it goes to prove that utility need not always be synonymous with ugliness.
Reaching the foot of the hill we came to an ancient and forsaken-looking church ; deserted, dilapidated, and picturesque, manifestly disused now that
new and larger edifice has been raised upon the top of the hill. More spacious this latter, possibly more convenient for modern worship, certainly more pompous, but having no history it did not appeal to our feelings as did this tiny humble fane, grey and worn with age, whose lowly walls are hallowed with the prayers of departed generations of the rude forefathers of the hamlet,' who now sleep so peacefully in the modest graves around. For the warrior and statesman, for the noble and the rich, the ostentatious altar-tomb, or at least a marble monument; for the poor tiller of the fields, whose ceaseless toil has made the beauty of the land, a nameless, unnoted, grass-grown mound !
These humble village fanes that are such a characteristic feature of the English country are truly sermons in stones' as eloquent as any poem. What a sad and solemn note they sometimes strike in the smiling landscape, with their sorrowful colony of graves and mournful yews, when all around seems so mutable and full of life! But enough of moralising_let us away into the sweet sunlit country, where the men are busy haymaking in the meadows,