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A VILLAGE GREEN.
to educate the British workman, and yet make them so expensive and difficult for him to obtain, is a curious problem.
After this long digression let us back once more to the pleasant land of Suffolk. Our road that day was full of interest. Continuing our pilgrimage we reached, after a time, a scattered hamlet standing around a little three-cornered green. On some fallen timber that lay by the side of the rough bit of common sward, ruddy-faced, happy-looking children were playing at King of the Castle;' the merry silvery rippling of their laughter made cheerful the country silence. The rough green, the fallen trees, the children romping thereon, with the background of a ruinous cottage backed by leafy elms, might have been cut out of one of Birket Foster's pictures.
The ruinous cottage attracted our attention, for though the plaster was off one gable, the rafters gone so that the rain could come freely in without let or hindrance, still the place was inhabited. Just beneath the exposed gable was a curtained window, and strangely enough of plate glass. The garden was weed-grown, nettles and thistles flourished abundantly therein, and the whole place had a sadly neglected appearance. There was a man ploughing in a field close by; of him we asked about the cottage and why the occupier let it go to ruin so. 'Sure I don't know, sir,' was the reply; 'nobody do; he owns several fields about. One 'ud think as how he'd make it a bit tidy like and weathertight, as it's his own.' Whatever might be the cause of the neglect, it was in one sense picturesque, and we made a very pretty
sketch of the tumbledown cottage, which suggested a larger painting to be entitled the Miser's Home.
Then, with several ups and downs, we entered the much-spread-out village of Long Melford, one of the most charming and picturesque places imaginable, built round a grand open green of several acres (a glorious playground for the youthful inhabitants this). In the centre of the green is an ancient stone conduit; at the end of it upon a rise stands a remarkably fine old church, whose century-grey walls make the ancient Tudor brick hospital below look exceedingly warm-tinted by contrast.
Around this great green are gathered the homes of the place, an epitome of the homes of England, ranging as they do from the stately and spacious Elizabethan mansion of Melford Hall, down to the lowly thatched cottage. The old hall is a romance in building, seeming more like an artist's ideal than actual reality. The entrance gateway to this is quaint, having two octagon brick towers with square leaded windows on the top, capped by circular stone roofs; the towers are joined together by a Tudor arch, beneath which is the approach. But there are other curious houses here. One especially arrested our attention; a long, low, two-story building of brick and timber, the outer gables projecting on brackets, a charming abode. But what interested us most in the old house was the large and wonderfully carved open wooden porch. This had the representation, boldly chiselled out of the wood, of a man and a woman supporting the main timbers; that porch gave a special character to the whole building.
A MOATED MANOR HOUSE.
Long Melford is a village to which the term romantic might justly be applied; the old portion of it, that is, for as we drove along we came to a modern addition which is unromantic and commonplace enough, consisting as it does of rows of white brick and slate-roofed cottages, built all in a row for economy, each cottage having only a few yards of garden for the same reason. What a startling and sudden contrast with the spacious feeling given by the old-world village adjoining! Needless to say that we made a long stop at Melford; it was a place so exactly after our heart. Both sketch-book and camera were called into requisition; the place was full of pictures.
Near to the village is another fine, ancient, and picturesque mansion, Kentwell Hall. This was built by the once powerful family of the Cloptons, who rest now beneath gorgeous altar-tombs in Melford. church. Kentwell Hall, which is approached by a noble avenue of lime trees nearly a mile in length, is a very fine example of a moated manorial mansion of the sixteenth century. The illustration I have given of this grand old English hall will better explain what manner of place it is than pages of prosaic print, so I refrain from further detailed description. Besides the pleasures of sketching from Nature and the delights of picture-making, one most valuable advantage in being able to draw is the readiness with which the wielder of the pencil can explain to a friend the appearance of a place or the character of a scene. Who can convey in words the precise form and varied outline of a mountain?
Yet a few touches of the pencil are all that is needed to show this!
What delightful features in the landscape are these old-time English homes, built in the days when building was a living art-beloved of artists for their quaint picturesqueness, and dear to the heart of antiquaries for the histories and traditions that have collected around their ancient walls! Wherein consists the special charm of these old buildings? Allowing for their old associations, the gathered glamour of a legendary and historic past, for the bloom of age upon their weathered and timetoned walls-allowing for these, wherein do they differ from the new? In the first place it seems to me that the architects of old worked up to a noble ideal ; they built grandly, whether it were a lordly palace or merely a humble yeoman's dwelling, for even a barn may be grandly built. Their houses, hall or farmstead, are always picturesque; it is evident, therefore, that beauty was sought for as well as utility and convenience, as understood at the time. What is the first thing that strikes an observer in an old house? Is it not the solid substance of it? The eye beholds nothing mean or flimsy, can trace nothing scamped; the walls are thick and enduring, the timber has not been spared, the house plainly shows that it is solidly constructed and strong.
The architect of old had not learnt to build on strictly economic principles; it had never occurred to him to employ a minimum of material, barely sufficient to maintain, with constant repairs, a structure for the paltry term of a ground lease. He had not