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Bawdeswell-Deserted Highways—The Country from the Box Seat
A Rebus-A Sudden Storm-East Dereham-Facts in PaintingsA House of “MDII.'-Architectural Scenery-Cowper's Grave A Pious Theft-St. Withburga's Well-A Coloured Windmill-A curious Church Tower—A Ford on the Way-Watton—The Scene of the Tragedy of the ‘Babes in the Wood'-A Steam Dog-cartAnother Rebus—The Beauties of Wet Weather.
FROM Reepham we drove to East Dereham, passing through a thinly populated country, wild and woody a great portion of the way. Bawdeswell, the first village we came to, has a modern church, the old one having been pulled down some years ago. I think this is the only village during our tour in the eastern counties the church of which was entirely devoid of interest. After leaving Bawdeswell our road was bounded to the left by a finely timbered park, which park was enclosed by a brick wall that followed faithfully every turn and twist of the way. The cost of building this must have been very considerable, and after all it did not form a good fence, for a wall is not difficult to climb for boys or poachers; a thick-set thorn hedge is by far a better protection, and much pleasanter to look upon; you cannot climb such a hedge, or break through it with impunity. On the other side of the road, in curious contrast with the well-wooded park, was a
A FORSAKEN ROAD.
wild treeless common, its barren bleakness being enlivened however here and there by the bright and cheerful bloom of the gorse.
It was a lonely, forsaken road; we met no one of whom to ask the name of the park, and our map did not give it.
How strangely deserted now are the old highways, erst so full of life and bustle! What would our forefathers (who posted or travelled over them in coaches) think, could they come to life again and view the almost abandoned thoroughfares, with their sides grass-grown owing to the little traffic, their milestones chipped and crumbling away, their sign-posts gone, or armless and useless, their once flourishing inns converted into farmhouses or cottages ---the traveller thereon unfrequent ? A past presence seems to linger over these old roads ; they recall memories of the days that are no more; a journey then was not such a matter-of-fact affair as it is now. There was a good deal of romance and picturesqueness in travelling when the road was in its full glory ; too much of romance sometimes, indeed, for there was always the possible chance of a misadventure with the knights of the road, besides plenty of excitement of a milder sort. Perhaps after all present age is a pleasanter one to live in ; we see now only the poetry of the past, we are chiefly familiar with its bright and sunny side. A modern generation knows nothing of the discomforts of a long journey by coach in stormy winter weather ; a pleasure outing on a well-appointed drag upon a summer day is hardly a fair comparison ; and has not even the poet said :
The good of ancient times let others state ;
The present will itself in due course become the past.
I wonder whether our descendants will then speak of these days as the good old times.' of the great changes that have taken place during the last half-century, rural England away from towns and railways has outwardly altered little, and so as we drove along we felt that we saw the country much as our ancestors saw it who travelled this way, and very different the landscape looks from the box-seat of a phaeton from what it appears in the ‘hurrygraphs' of it that alone can be obtained from a railway carriage. The road rises and falls with the country; when driving, therefore, your prospect is not cut off ever and again by a deep cutting or darksome tunnel ; all the houses face the highway and make their best appearance to it. You enter a town or village in a natural manner, not sneak in or pass through it by back streets as on the railway, so that you really see the country towns and villages you pass through when journeying by road. You rush through a town by rail, and can thus know nothing of it, but driving leisurely along its streets, even if you make no halt, you obtain a very fair impression of the place.
Our road now led us by a gradual descent to a pleasant green lowland valley. Here for the first time on our journey our ears were greeted by the musical murmur of falling water, caused by a little river that formed a weir over which it tumbled and foamed in a delightful manner. A pretty willow