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short characters, and others with puzzling dots under certain letters. The reason of this curious proceeding much perplexed us. It was evidently not for ornamentation. Manifestly, we thought, there is more here than at first meets the eye, but the rector's little book solved the mystery, of which anon. Let me transcribe here two of these inscriptions, which suggested to us the idea of an enigma such as one comes upon in puzzle books. Here, then, are two-one with the long and short characters seemingly given in a most purposeless manner, the other with the dots under various letters without any apparent motive or order :
LeX eCCe Vera fVLsIt Jes V LVCe:
greX repasCatUr Christo sUo DUCe :
Occupet Salus ovilis muros et portas ejus laudatio.
The first of these inscriptions the rector renders in English thus :
Here finds the law in Jesus' light true reading,
which last line does not seem to me to be good Protestant doctrine.
Now to return once more to the rector's little work (shall I call it a guide-book to the church ?), he goes on to say, “But perhaps people will come and look about and ask “What does this mean?” and “What is that for?”' (Very naturally ; indeed these very pertinent questions suggested themselves to us).
THE RECTOR EXPLAINS.
But let the rector explain in his own peculiar way; ‘I will tell you what they mean,' he says,
you can tell people when they really want to learn ; not silly people who come to find fault,—you had best let them
about their own business, if they have any. 'Let us come in at the porch door. It is always open; the church is your house as well as God's, and you may go in whenever you like to look at it ; or better still to kneel down and say your prayers; I wish you would.'
After explaining many things (even two of the pillars it would appear have their own names, the one Boaz and the other Jachin, “after the names of the two pillars in the first temple of God '), we come to the puzzling inscriptions. Again let the rector speak for himself: “But you will say, “ Why put these queer-looking texts about with their long and short letters and dots ? I will tell you. Suppose a traveller from a foreign country were to come now, or a thousand years hence, if he were to look at those texts he would understand them, because Latin is a language that all learned people know, and it never changes ; and the long letters and the letters with dots would tell anyone the date that the things were put into the church, just as the date of the year is made up of letters.
I have reckoned up one of these texts for you, just to show what I
The others you can puzzle out for yourselves some time when you are waiting in church, but not in the middle of the sermon, please;' which is a wise reservation.
Now we come to the explanation of these curi
ously written texts and inscriptions. It would seem in the one case that the long letters, and in the other that those marked by the dots beneath, are to be considered as Roman numerals, and by adding up the total sum of these you obtain the date of the year when the text was painted on the wall, though of course it takes some little time and trouble to obtain this important information.
A simpler method of conveying the desired knowledge (one moreover that all could understand), it appeared to us in our simplicity, would be to have just added the date in plain figures after the texts; but perchance there is some hidden virtue in complication that we do not comprehend.
It will be seen that these texts are written for ' learned people' who may come to see the church in the present day or in a thousand years hence,' not for the primitive agricultural folk, who, unless I greatly mistake, constitute the main portion, if not the whole of the small, congregation ; which careful consideration for strangers seems rather hard upon the worshippers for whom the church is chiefly intended. And for all this consideration I do not feel so very sure that the coming traveller (who, by the way, must know Latin) will ever guess the hidden meaning of the curious long letters and the strange dots beneath others. Even with the aid of the worthy rector's lucid explanation, some care and time is required to arrive at a result. Let us take as an example one of the under-dotted texts done in Latin that I have already given. In this we find the following letters marked in the order in which they
come: CCU (the U counts as V or 5); then follow LUVILIMUJ (J for I or 1); then ULUDI. Now to add these up: M of course represents 1000, D 500, the two C's are equal to 200, the three L's make together 150, the five U's and the solitary V make another 30, the four I's count 4. Now, if you will trouble to add all these together you will arrive at 1884, or, if you prefer, you may take my word for it, for I have done the little sum, and a very tedious and complicated way it is of affording information about a trifling matter, but perhaps puzzling out these dates may keep the congregation entertained when the sermon is dull or over long, though for that purpose they were never intended.
There is much other interesting and peculiar information to be gleaned from this little work : as to why the altar is white sometimes, at others red, again purple for a change, and still again green 'when nothing particular is happening '! But I fear, kind reader, that I have already kept you too long in Little Braxted church : let us get out into the open air ; the blue sky and green trees are more delightful to look upon than any painted walls ; let us remount the phaeton which awaits us at the corner of the ancient churchyard, and proceed with our pleasant pilgrimage.
The country now became both hilly and well wooded, and, gaining a height, we had a glorious prospect over a vast extent of country, one of those scenic surprises reserved for the wanderer by road. At Great Braxted, the next village we came to (as pretty a rural hamlet as one may meet on a day's drive), we
noticed the name over the public-house of Wybrew, Brewer. It was rather strange the number of names, appropriate and the reverse to the callings of their possessors, we observed at the various villages and towns we passed through. In one place we noticed that a certain Bywell was an auctioneer, at another Drinkwater was a wine merchant, Deadmon did duty elsewhere as an undertaker ; a wayside public-house, with the sign of The Victory, was kept by one H. Nelson, and another, The Traveller's Rest, by I. Boniface.
Just as we were driving out of Great Braxted an amusing little incident took place. An enraged turkey-cock (though how we had enraged him I know not, unless it were that he objected to strangers) placed himself noisily and defiantly, with feathers outspread, in the middle of the road, and actually attempted to dispute the right of way with us ; he was even so far successful that he caused the horses to shy badly, which was mischief enough for a bird to make.
Passing through a wild and thinly-peopled country we came to Tiptree Heath, famous in the olden days for its highwaymen, and in more recent times for Mr. Mechi's model farm and his experiments in scientific agriculture. Both now are things of the past.
Tiptree Heath was formerly an extensive wild woodland, broken here and there with heather wastes ; indeed in early times it was a portion of the great Forest of Essex that extended from this part, and from miles beyond, to ancient London. The heath is now mostly enclosed and cultivated, it has