« AnkstesnisTęsti »
been for this fact, we should simply have contentedly continued on the wrong road, and have let it lead us whither it would, for there is a certain fascination in wandering along an unknown road, through an unknown country, with only the vaguest of notions as to whither it will eventually take you. We followed a road thus once whilst touring in the wilds of Devon, and we thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the thing, but for such exploits fine weather is most desirable. It is very pleasurable to be caught amongst the winding mazes of country lanes in the wet, and perchance find yourself miles from anywhere, with no friendly inn within a reasonable distance. But given a fine day, there is a certain charm in striking upon a strange road and letting it take you whither it will; and often it does lead you unexpectedly into the most strange out-of-the-way spots and odd places, that you would never have otherwise come upon, for it is just these very unexplored nooks and quaint corners of the land that never get described in the average run of guidebooks. Well do I remember on another occasion, whilst exploring an unknown road in the West of England, my delight on suddenly coming upon a curious, old-fashioned, little decayed coaching town, full of quaint and curious old buildings, delightful to look upon singly or grouped as a whole. In the sleepy, spacious main street of the little town stands a grand old coaching inn, a perfect picture of an oldtime hostelry. The ancient building has its traditions too, and there is a chamber shown in which Cromwell slept. As this charming old English town is six miles from a railway station, I think that I may safely
reveal its name without the danger of spoiling it, especially as its charms are of the poetic and unsensational kind and consequently have but little attraction in the eyes of the genus excursionist. The name of the place is Broadway, and it is in Worcestershire. The town abounds in pictures and picturesque 'bits' that so please the eye of an artist, and I frequently see in exhibitions paintings of its ancient and time-toned buildings. Strangely enough, attracted by the name of Broadway,' some American artists once visited it, and so fell under the influence of the place with its old-world charm, that they have come to it year after year since, and now and again in 'Harper's Magazine' I recognise a quaint gable, an odd nook, and even once the old inn of Broadway itself, appearing amongst the illustrations of that popular periodical.
But I have wandered far afield from our Suffolk road, for on leaving Thetford we said good-bye to picturesque Norfolk. It is a most picturesque county, and the quiet beauty of its scenery is none the less beautiful because so little famed, and to us all the more delightful because of the marked absence of the professional tripper. Once having discovered the right road to Bury (we found that the country people for brevity omitted the St. Edmunds), we were careful by constantly consulting our maps to keep to it. What a blessing it would be were the useful old-fashioned sign-posts to be re-erected on the roads! but I fear that there is but little chance of this now.
Again we found ourselves driving through a wild
open country, a country of spreading heaths and breezy commons, that looks much now as it did when the Normans of old came to possess the land. On the first heath we came to we noticed a gipsie's encampment (a very paradise for gipsies this wild unenclosed country, with few inhabitants and no rural policemen to trouble them). One of the womenkind came forward and offered to tell our fortune; we declined, but concluded a bargain with her that we should be allowed to take a photograph of the camp. Some time afterwards we found that, by an accident that will now and then happen to the best regulated photographer, we had exposed a plate upon the camp that had been previously exposed upon a church, and upon developing this plate we discovered to our dismay two pictures oddly combined in one; a curiosity, certainly, but alas! not a picture, the gipsies, tent, and belongings being mixed up in an incomprehensible manner with a church porch and tombstones.
There are few photographic mistakes more provoking than this exposing of two pictures on the same plate; once, however, a friend of mine secured a strangely curious result by such a mishap. This friend was taking some pictures at a little seaside town. One of his plates was exposed upon the quaint old high street of the place, and afterwards (by the same oversight we made) was again exposed upon some shipping, the combined effect of the two photographs being that of a steam tug towing a coal brig right down the centre of the street.
Our road continued to take us through a wild and open country; the spaces on either side of the
A WILD DRIVE.
way were grass-grown, showing little traffic; the surface was rutty and stony. But the very wildness and loneliness of our way was a source of infinite delight to us; there is a charm about untamed Nature that trim garden or well-kept park can never give. The fresh breezy day and cloudy sky too were in harmony with the landscape, that save for the road bore no trace or hint of man. The rugged moors, the windswept heaths, and spreading gorse-besprinkled commons, are very pleasing by their marked contrast with the finished look of the general English country, and come as a relief to the tidy hedgerows and carefully tilled fields. The eye delights to roam in unaccustomed freedom whither it will, unarrested by long lines of bordering fences.
We neither met nor passed a soul during our drive till we came to the pretty little village of Ingham. At this village we pulled up to inspect the church, apparently recently restored. There was not much of interest to note in it, save an old Norman lead-lined font and some fine bits of ancient stained glass in the windows of the porch.
On our way we observed an old notice board with the following alarming inscription:
TRESPASSERS WILL BE PERSECUTED
ACCORDING TO THE UTMOST RIGOUR OF THE LAW.
Doubtless the village hand who painted this intended nothing so dreadful, but not having had the advantage of a School Board education he had confused persecuted' with 'prosecuted.' Speaking of
School Boards, by the way, we noticed, in the smaller shops of the various towns and villages that we passed through, a supply of printed matter for the rising generation (who can now all read) that suggested grave material for consideration. Such works in penny and twopenny publications as 'Jack Sheppard,' 'The Black Band,' 'The Bold Highwayman,' and the like, simply abounded, and we were told had a large sale. Having taught the people to read, it is not greeable to note their literary tastes. Improving books they have little mind for; the lives of working men's families are uneventful, they demand for their reading something sensational, and they get it. Even the old favourite stories of Robinson Crusoe,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' etc., have no chance against the fabled exploits of Jack Sheppard and other similar rogues, spicily illustrated. We got into conversation one day with a lad we observed sitting on a gate devouring one of these penny dreadfuls. In the course of some remarks we asked him what he would like to be when he became a man. 'I should like to be a highwayman,' was the innocent reply. It may sound like a cry of Backward ho!' but I really think that it would be well were paper and printing not such cheap luxuries.
Our lonely road that day abounded in beauty bits, and our camera was in constant requisition. Our photographic outfit added greatly to the interest and pleasure of our wanderings; having an instantaneous shutter and plates, we were enabled to secure some of the more transient effects of Nature, which are ever the most beautiful. Besides, we had not to wait