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to one another as peas in a pod, and as undesirable to live in as to look upon, the man of to-day having to fit into his dwelling like a hermit crab as best he may. An old-time home, with its many high-pitched gables, clustering stacks of chimneys, tiled irregular roofs, mullioned windows (so pleasantly varied by transom and quarrelled glass), half-timber fronts, projecting upper stories (when needed), weathertiling, and ample porches that almost speak a welcome; an old-time home like this is as delightful to gaze upon as any painted picture, and more so than a great many.
A man with no taste may furnish the interior of his house so that it is unutterably vulgar and eyeirritating to the cultivated mind, but this the public do not see and it only affects the owner and his friends; but the exterior of a house more or less. concerns everybody, for this becomes a part of the landscape, and either adds to or takes from its beauty. In a thickly-populated country like England, whose scenery is so closely associated with the homes of the people, it is terrible to think how much it is in the power of unsympathetic man to rob it of its traditional loveliness.
Leaving Herongate we skirted a finely wooded. park (said to be the largest in the county) in which stands the deserted and ruined mansion of Thorndon Hall, the former seat of Lord Petre. Shortly after passing this we reached Brentwood. Here we baited our horses at the White Hart, a very ancient inn, one of the oldest coaching hostelries now existing in England, one that before the
CHAT WITH AN OSTLER.
railway age must have seen much coming and going and have been full of life and bustle, situated as it was on the high road to the important towns of Chelmsford, Ipswich, and Colchester, to say nothing of Yarmouth and places of lesser fame.
The White Hart at Brentwood contains an excellent example of the arcaded courtyard that forms such a delightful feature in the hostels of that period, an arrangement happily combining both utility and picturesqueness. These ample courtyards (a necessity of the time) with their rambling outbuildings, their wealth of stabling, have a special attraction for me, they have such a genuine old-time flavour and are so suggestive of the poetry and romance of the days gone by.
The ostler here we found to be an old man, and like the rest of his class inclined to be communicative, so we led him on to tell us all he knew about the place. We soon discovered that he was one of the ever-narrowing circle of those who were ostlers in the coaching age. 'Yes, sir,' he said to us in reply to a remark of ours, 'it be a queer rambling building, that it be. I remember it well when I were a boy, and most of the coaches on the road used to change horses here. It were "four up" or "four down," all day long, there weren't much quiet then; plenty to do and plenty to get for that matter, for the tips came pretty often. Seventy-two coaches passed the old house in the twenty-four hours; them was lively times. I can well remember when fifty coach-horses and upwards were kept in these stables, besides fifteen "posters," and post-boys booted and spurred
were always ready to start on the call of "next turn.' While the worthy ostler was telling us his story of the past, we got our sketch-book out and made a sketch of the quaint wooden galleries around, which act on our part drew his attention to them. 'Yes,' he continued, 'I remember them galleries when they were crowded with travellers, servants, and luggage, very different to the deserted look they have nowadays. Who then would have imagined that people would ever travel behind an iron. horse? The Lion and the Lamb was the other coaching house, but this was the chief inn and we used to get all the best custom.' Then in company of our chatty ostler we took a look round the old stables; built mainly of timber, browned and bent now, but still strong and apparently able to endure for years. How massively these men of the olden time built; timber in these parts was manifestly plentiful in the past, as is plainly shown by the generous use of it in preference to brick or stone. Our ancestors too had not in those days, it must be remembered, learnt how to build with a minimum of material, so that their structures have a look of substance and solid strength very grateful to the eye accustomed to the mean and trivial erections of these times, raised by contract, at the least cost, with little thought of lasting strength. Why, I believe that Buggins, the speculative builder, would easily contrive four stables out of the material of one of these old ones, and even then have spare material. Whether the new stables would last as long or require as little attention in the way of repairs, is quite another matter.
Leaving Brentwood, by the side of the way we came upon a fine granite obelisk. We pulled up to inspect this, and to discover from the inscription thereon the cause of its erection. This we copied as follows:
TO THE PIOUS MEMORY OF
A NATIVE OF BRENTWOOD,
WAS CONDEMNED AT THE EARLY AGE OF NINETEEN,
NEAR THIS SPOT.
I have given this inscription, because in these days when travellers by road are about as scarce as eagles in the land, these wayside monuments (of which there are many, and some of great interest scattered throughout the country) are known and seen by few.
At Mountnessing, the first village we came to after leaving Brentwood, we again made a short stop, attracted by the fine and elaborate scroll-work of wrought iron that supports the sign of the rural hostel there; the George and Dragon, to wit. This charming and interesting bit of iron-handicraft delighted us, so pleasing and full of purpose is it, yet withal so simple in design. The art of making decorative, and even a thing of beauty, a commonplace everyday piece of work such as this (merely to perform the humble office of holding a country inn sign) seems almost gone from us. In this ambitious age we seek for grandeur and ostentatious
show, we raise imposing structures if we do not build mightily, and by mere size we secure a certain pseudo-dignity, unmindful or careless of the real grace of minor things and well-studied detail. It is the sum of these unconsidered trifles, the fanciful conceits and playfulness of their designs, that charms us so in most old work, and which is so sadly conspicuous by its absence in that which is new. Even when we do condescend to trouble ourselves as to the design of some plain contrivance, we multiply it indefinitely by machinery; having a good thing we repeat it so that at last it becomes monotonous and wearisome by the ever-recurring sameness. The numerous fine specimens of wrought iron-work that still remain to us, standing for sign-posts beside the once thriving but now almost deserted coaching inns, prove how even a simple thing can be made effective and artistic as well as useful, when the workman loves his work.
So pleased were we with the picturesque sign of the little inn at Mountnessing, that we unpacked our camera and exposed a plate upon it: which proceeding on our part, as usual, caused a small crowd of men and boys to collect around us, and who insisted on posing themselves exactly where we did not want them, in order that they might be in the picture. Why, I wonder, do people so delight to be included in a photograph which in all probability they will never see?
The camera we found of great service in quickly and correctly securing for us bits of architecture, such as quaint carvings, altar-tombs, ornamental