« AnkstesnisTęsti »
inner man-for driving across country is hungry work -we strolled out to have a look at the place. The first thing that struck us upon our arrival was the most marked change of temperature. From North Walsham, and until the top of the hill above Cromer was reached, we had been oppressed with the heat of the day; here, by the side of the sea, we found it almost chilly, and were glad of a light overcoat. Cromer has the repute of being a bracing place; it certainly seemed to us to deserve the reputation. The town has the advantage, for a summer resort, of facing due north; we have, from the necessity of our geographical position, few seaside resorts with such an aspect.
Cromer, before the railway came to it, was a quiet, secluded spot, beloved by the seekers after rest and by those who delight not in fashionably dressed crowds, for then excursionists were unknown in these parts. The only way to reach it was by road, and this form of travel does not suit the cheap daytripper. Even now, for a watering-place that sets itself up for being at all fashionable, Cromer is delightfully unsophisticated. But it is progressing; the speculative builder has his eye upon the place, and indeed has already begun operations. In a few years, in all probability, what remains of its pleasing primitive simplicity will be no more, and all of its ancient quiet and most of its quaint picturesqueness will have vanished away.
The old church of Cromer is a grand specimen of flint work. This fine structure is the outcome of the piety and prosperity of the former merchants of
A GOTH-LIKE ACT.
the place, or rather of a Cromer that lies now mostly beneath the sea; for here, as all around the eastern coast, the ocean is gradually gaining upon the land. The soft sandy shore is being washed away at the rate of a yard or more a year, and villages and prosperous shipping towns that had once a place upon the map are now no more, and vessels anchor to-day upon their former sites. Even where the low sand dunes rise into cliffs, the process of wasting goes merrily on. Summer rains and winter frosts in turn disintegrate portions of the soft land, the waves quickly wash these fallen masses away, and so the work of destruction goes on unceasingly.
When we were there the old ruined chancel of the church was being restored and, moreover (a rare moreover, alas!) the work was being well done in reverent imitation of the old. Would that all restorations were undertaken in the same right spirit! Strange it reads, how it was that this chancel came to be ruined thus. It appears that when the merchants left the place and its prosperity vanished, the church proved to be too large for the lessened congregation, and in the year 1681, to save the expense of keeping so large a structure in repair, the chancel was actually, by order, blown down by gunpowder, and the nave built off! Surely there never was such a Goth-like proceeding as this! Now, when Cromer as a watering-place is regaining something of her ancient prosperity, the church is being restored to its former size, if not beauty.
We found the company gathered within our hotel very sociable, and a most enjoyable evening we spent
chatting with them about many things, and of Cromer and the neighbourhood in particular. These oldfashioned inns do not freeze the friendliness out of people, as the grander but less comfortable and never cosy modern ones effectually do. In them, even if tried, you you could hardly be stiff and formal, and after all, when he does thaw, John Bull can be very agreeable and good company. It is a thousand pities when on his travels that he should be so reserved, as though it would injure him to talk with a stranger; and even supposing that stranger were a grocer, what harm? We always make it a point of being friendly with all we meet when away from home. In the rural towns we passed through we made it a rule in the evening to go into the bar of our inn, wherein we found gathered the tradesmen of the place, and by listening to their talk and putting a question now and again we gleaned much out-of-the-way information, and learnt to see the world as others see it. 'You really cannot mix with such people, you know,' remarked some one to a friend of mine. 'No,' was the reply; 'it would be so awkward were you to meet them afterwards in Paradise!' There is a good deal of snobbishness in this world, and it is a much less agreeable place to live in for it. The way some people talk of the lower classes' always wounds me; almost as though they were not human beings with souls and feelings like themselves. A better expression would be 'the I have witnessed many a noble
poorer classes.' deed done by the latter without hope of reward or chance of glory. I have seen them man the life
boat in the teeth of a raging storm in an almost hopeless endeavour to save their fellow-creatures' lives. Only a few days ago, standing by the seashore, I saw a fishing-craft trying to make port in a heavy gale capsize. There was no time to get the life-boat out, but three brave fellows, hard-working toilers of the sea, at once put out to the rescue, though they had only at hand a little open pleasure-boat, wholly unfit to stem the raging waves. It was at the peril of their lives they went, but little they thought of that. Of such are Nature's noblemen. My life was once saved by one of these our poorer brethren; and I verily believe that I owe the life of one of my little ones to the unremitting care of my faithful nurse. The comforts of the rich mainly depend upon the services of others less blessed with this world's goods than themselves. It is the misfortune, not the fault of people, that they are born poor.
Although Cromer is becoming fashionable, and has lost for ever the charm of its ancient quiet, along the coast to the right and left of it are many picturesque and primitive old-world villages whose beach remains just as the fishermen and Nature have made it, hamlets that have never been touched by the hand of the modern builder, unimproved and unsophisticated. Known only these remote, out-ofthe-world spots to a few artists in search of fresh painting ground, and to fewer travellers, but, thanks to the few who have discovered them, the tourist may here and there find clean and comfortable apartments, though homely, and now and again very
fair accommodation may be had at the village inns by those who do not object to a little roughing. At such places along the coast the traveller may enjoy the purest of air and the freshest of breezes; he may gaze upon beautiful scenery and be surrounded by novel sights and characters, and all at a nominal expenditure. Sherringham is one of these picturesque and primitive seaside villages, a place an artist could take many a delightful picture from. Weybourne is another, and even, if possible, a still more primitive spot, set in the midst of a wild country that reminds one of the bleak north coast. Here are the ruins of an old monastery, the remains of a Roman encampment, and on the wind-swept heath behind the village are several curious hollows or pits, supposed to have been ancient British dwellings, so that there is matter of interest for the antiquary as well as for the artist and the seeker after fresh untravelled scenes. Weybourne used to be famous for harbour, for the water is very deep here close in shore, available therefore for large ships; and an old distich has it—
He who would old England win,
This spot was closely watched and guarded at the time of the Great Armada, also during the wars with France, lest troops should be landed there.
Returning to Cromer, along the coast on the other side are to be found many quaint old-world villages, oddly built and eminently picturesque. A district this abounding in scenic surprises, full of in