Puslapio vaizdai



but now and again they are to be found ruining the fair prospect. Fancy setting up such a fane ad majorem Dei gloriam! But though churches of this kind do not happily at the present abound, other sorts of iron structures are, alas! but too frequently to be met with in rural England. These are used for all kinds of purposes, for village schools, small roadside stations, outbuildings on farms, shelters for haystacks, workshops, tool and boat houses, and the like.

The other day I took a drive to sketch a charming sixteenth-century farmstead (an old friend of mine), an ancient house of many gables, great stacks of chimneys, and quaint windows of leaded lattice panes a picture rather than a house built for man's convenience. That dear old farmstead, with its timetinted walls and lichen-laden roof, have I not sketched it from almost every point of view? Fancy, then, my feelings, upon arriving at my old painting ground, to find that some agent from Birmingham had persuaded the farmer to purchase and erect one of these detestable iron structures, spoiling the restful look and picturesqueness of the place. Unfortunately it happened the farmer had pressing need of an outbuilding, for most of the old ones had fallen into useless decay, and the necessity of hard times had compelled him to obtain a shelter for his wagons as cheaply as he could. Necessity is a bad taskmaster.

Even in the minor matter of dress a considerable and regrettable change for the worse (picturesquely considered) has taken place in the country during the last quarter of a century. The once familiar

smock-frock (generally white or cream-coloured, but sometimes of other tints), always with much pains and to the pride of the wearer embroidered down the front and back, is no longer to be seen, save in the most remote districts. On a Sunday, instead of the characteristically clean smock-frock (smart-frock I have heard it termed in times past), an ill-fitting rusty black or grey coat is worn, with no character about it. The farmer's wife, too, now studies the latest Paris fashions in the cheap illustrated papers or magazines, and she endeavours to follow them as far as possible consistently with her means. Provincialisms are no more; one monotonous level of uniformity prevails: local peculiarities in dress, such as red cloaks, the way of wearing shawls, pattens for wet weather, the curious hats for women, that used to prevail in parts of Wales, are no longer to be found. London fashions at second hand follow the traveller everywhere, greatly to the loss of the lover of the picturesque, and sadly to the trouble of the artist who wishes to introduce rural figures into his country scenes.

We made a short détour from our stage that day to visit the curious round church at Little Maplestead. This peculiar structure of flint, with stone facings, has been so much altered and restored as almost to have ceased to be an ancient building, having little old about it but its history. This is the smallest and latest of the four early round churches that still exist in England, and owes its origin to the knights hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. The other three are the Temple in



London, formerly the head-quarters of the Knights Templars, the church of St. Sepulchre at Cambridge, and another of the same title at Northampton. There is still another circular church in England, St. Peter's at Cheltenham, but this is modern, and therefore more curious than interesting. The church at Little Maplestead is only thirty feet in diameter; it possesses a curious Norman font of rude workmanship, which is now, thanks to the restoration and rebuilding, of more interest to ecclesiologists and antiquaries than the church itself. Then, passing through a picturesquely wooded country, we arrived at Halstead and obtained very comfortable quarters at the George.

Halstead we found to be a pleasant and prosperous little town, agreeably situated on the Colne, an old-fashioned place with some ancient buildings, one of which especially interested us, a quaint and very old inn, with carved gables, called 'Ye White Hart.' But, like all old towns, Halstead is every year gradually getting newer and less picturesque. Here in the evening a detachment of the Salvation Army held a noisy gathering right in front of our hotel, with banners and with drum, which gathering effectually prevented our reading or talking by the noise it made. It does seem rather hard, even in a free country, that one cannot be sure of taking one's quiet in one's inn. I have till lately lived under the mistaken impression that it was one of the inherent privileges of being an Englishman that he could enjoy himself, without let or hindrance, so long as he did not transgress against the law of the land.

and did nothing to injure or annoy his neighbour. The doings of the Salvation Army, under the protection of the police and to the delight of the rabble, have effectually removed this wrong impression. A German band playing lustily out of tune, or even an organ-grinder, is disturbing enough performing opposite your house; but these you have the right to order away. The detachments of the Salvation Army are infinitely more distracting; but under the cloak of religion the law allows them to do as they will-and the sooner the law is altered in the interests of peaceful citizens who pay heavy rates and taxes for small return, the better. What sort of a religion can that be that annoys others? If people cannot be good without bands, banners, and shouting, their goodness is little worth.

We could not stand the Salvation Army; the groups that gather around its local captains have not even the merit of being picturesque; we acknowledged ourselves conquered, and beat a hasty retreat. We wended our way to the church, for we had yet some two hours of daylight left, and there we felt sure of being in peace. Some people have expressed themselves perplexed at the popularity of the Salvation Army amongst a certain class; to me there is nothing perplexing about the matter. The poorer inhabitants of our country towns lead very uninteresting, uneventful lives; their homes are not attractive; they find the streets in fine weather more agreeable than their uncomfortable, overcrowded homes-and little wonder. Well, these people like to be amused, and a little mild excitement comes as



a pleasant break in their monotonous existence. The Salvation Army supplies this excitement free of cost, and there is the secret of the whole matter. Such, at least, is our opinion, given for what it may be worth, but arrived at after a careful study of the matter.

It was a relief to escape from this latest religious (?) craze and get inside the hallowed walls of the venerable church; the solemn silence they enclosed filled us with a soothing sense of peace. In this ancient church we came upon some very interesting but much-defaced monuments. One was of a knight with crossed legs, showing (according to the generally accepted opinion of antiquaries) that the gallant warrior had been to the Holy Land with the Crusaders, though a learned minority deny that this crossing of legs in effigies has anything to do with the expedition. I am inclined to the former opinion, but rather possibly from prejudice of early belief in the tradition than anything else. I have heard hard-headed antiquaries argue about this matter, but without result further than a loss of temper-certainly without convincing me one way or the other.

Another fine altar-tomb had upon it two recumbent figures, representing a man in full armour with his wife by his side. Though much defaced and without any inscription now, as far as we could discover, this dilapidated tomb interested us exceedingly, for in the recess above it hung the very shield of the worthy warrior, dented and showing the bruises of war, but still bearing faded traces of the original colours and gilding of his coat of arms. When they have not been stolen (or removed, if that is a

« AnkstesnisTęsti »