« PreviousContinue »
the harmony of the electors. I left them at nine, and bent my steps homewards.
"Monday, May 25th.-The British Museum; where I was conducted with great rapidity through a collection of curiosities too various and multiplied to appreciate in the course of a month. "Tuesday, May 26th.-Left London.
"Wednesday, May 27th.-I was delighted with Cambridge; a small town, deriving its entire support from the University. It smells of learning all over, and I breathe a fragrancy most congenial to me. The very women have an air of academic mildness and simplicity. I prefer it to Oxford, where you are embarrassed with the multiplicity of objects, and astonished at the glare of decoration and spectacle. In Cambridge, every thing wears a simplicity and chasteness allied to the character of philosophy; and the venerable name of Newton gives it an interest that can never die. Left Cambridge at half-past seven in the morning. Found Huntingdon all astir about an election dinner. Threw myself into the coach from London to Stamford, which passes Huntingdon at four in the afternoon. I was informed at Stilton, that the cheese of that name is not manufactured there, but chiefly in Leicester and Rutlandshire; that it was first purchased by an innkeeper at Stilton, who was the means of giving it celebrity, and from this circumstance it first got and still retains the name of Stilton cheese. Before reaching Stilton, enclosures are less frequent; but after leaving that town, the character of beautiful enclosed pasturage is again resumed. Passed a very extensive range of wooden barracks, appropriated for the reception of French prisoners. I am glad to hear that they have the best accommodation, and a spacious court, giving the advantage of air and exercise. In passing through the wild succession of corn-fields and picturesque cottages, with the evening sun shedding its quiet light over the landscape, I was struck with the figure of a woman reading at
a window-a sober reflection pictured on her countenance. Supped and stopped all night at Stamford.
"Thursday, May 28th.-Started from Stamford at a quarter from four, in the coach from London to Newcastle. Sir Isaac Newton's house I saw most distinctly. I felt a glow and an enthusiasm, for my veneration for the character and talents of Sir Isaac is unbounded. Dined at Doncaster, the approach to which is beautiful; got to Aberford about ten.
"Friday, May 29th.-Started at half-past five, and scrambled through fields for six miles to Tadcaster. I could here perceive the richness of English soil and English cultivation. I was lost among hedges, and had no view of the country which surrounded me. On my arrival at Tadcaster, I found the 29th May celebrated by the ringing of bells, and the whole town in a stir about the county election. Found it impossible to secure a seat in any of the coaches, so I walked on to Struthouses, where I breakfasted. Half a mile farther on, I fell in with the Leeds coach for York, so I got on the top of it, and reached York about eleven in the forenoon. I spent an hour in contemplating the glories of York Minster. The objects which struck me most were the circular carved work at the top of the south entry-the beautiful colonnade at the back of the altar-the highly ornamental screen which supports the organ and separates the choir from the nave of the cathedral-the windows on the north, with five longitudinal divisions, richly painted in the pattern style-and above all, the chapter-house, an octagonal room, that displays all the power and elegance of finished workmanship. From the top of the great tower, I surveyed a raised expanse of level scenes thrown into hedge enclosures, bounded at a great distance on the east by a gentle swell, and on the north by two distinct tiers of elevated country. On the west, and particularly the north, the scene loses itself in interminable distance. The two west towers are beset with beautiful
pinnacles. Not a horse nor a conveyance was to be had in York, so I walked on to Easingwold.
"Saturday, May 30th.-Took an outside place to Durham on the High-Flyer, from London on to Newcastle, passing through Easingwold at nine. The approach to Durham is by no means impressive. The houses, with their red roofs, took away from that venerable air of antiquity which my fancy had led me to associate with the name and situation of Durham. I arrived between six and seven in the evening; ran up to the Cathedral; tried in vain to get admittance, and was obliged to content myself with a survey of its exterior. [Here follows minute description with ink sketches.]
"Sunday, May 31st.-Started at seven, and walked to BishopWearmouth. The country possesses no great or decisive features. The bridge over the Wear is an astonishing piece of workmanship. I got under it in a boat, and made my observations. [A minute description of the bridge is given.] Falling in with a man who drove a post-office gig, rode to South Shields. Crossed over to North Shields for twopence in a skuller. From North Shields I proceeded to Tynemouth, with which I was delighted; the cast fragment of the Abbey is particularly beautiful. Sailed up the river to Newcastle.
Monday, June 1st.-I left Newcastle about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and stopped at the six-mile-house in the expectation of getting a place in the mail. It was quite full, however, so I walked on to Morpeth, where I spent the evening.
"Tuesday, June 2d.-Rose at seven in the morning. I took an outside scat to Alnwick. From the inn I proceeded to the Castle, and was much delighted with the different rooms of this noble edifice. * *The chapel has three beautiful painted windows; the window at the extremity the most elegant I had seen. The walls set round with gilded triangles and slender pilasters-perhaps too bright and airy for a place of devotion.
I was more pleased with the interior of the house than with Blenheim. It is not so rich or various; but there is a uniformity of character, and a simplicity that does not fatigue or overpower you. Blenheim is before it in exterior appearance, and the beautiful scenes of its garden and park. I walked from Alnwick to Warrenford. The whim struck me that I should make an excursion to Holy Island; so after passing through Belford, I turned to the right, and after walking for three or four miles along the beach, was fortunate enough to fall in with an oyster boat, which ferried me over the Channel. I was here disgusted with the rapacious spirit of the young rascals of boatmen, who, though I overpaid them for their trouble, tried to work out of me every little addition they could think of."
After a survey of the island, he reached Berwick on the following day; and walking along the banks of the Tweed and the Teviot, found himself, about a week afterwards, in the hospitable manse of Roberton. "I proposed," says Mr. Shaw, "when he left, to accompany him to Dr. Hardie's, (about six miles distant,) whence he intended to get to Pennycook next day. We set out accordingly on a Monday after breakfast. The next morning, I expressed a wish that we should go as far as Galashiels, and call on Dr. Douglas ;* to which he consented, on condition that it must be only a short call. There, however, we were induced to spend the day. Next morning we took our departure on the way to Peebles; but in passing the hospitable
* Robert Douglas, D.D., minister of Galashiels, was the author of "A General View of the Agriculture in the County of Roxburgh." Edinburgh, 1798. 8vo. And of "A General View of the Agriculture in the County of Selkirk." Edinburgh, 1798. 8vo. He was also the writer of an anonymous life of Logan, prefixed to the edition of his poems published at Edinburgh in 1812. He sold to Sir Walter Scott a farm called Clarty Hole, afterwards dignified by the name of Abbotsford. Mr. Lockhart tells us, that he was the "shrewd and unbigoted" minister of the gospel in Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk. Some notices of his character are to be found in the Life of Dr. Balmer, by Dr. Henderson of Galashiels.
residence of a family with whom I was intimately connected, I prevailed on him to call; and being much delighted with our kind reception, we remained till next morning, when we took our leave after breakfast. On our way up the Tweed, I suggested the propriety of our calling on my friend, Nicol of Traquair,* whose manse was situated only about half a mile off the road. 'Well, sir,' was the reply, but it must be only for a minute or two, as I must get to Pennycook this night.' There, however, we spent the day most comfortably; and in the evening, were so delighted with the music of the piano, that we could not refrain dancing a few merry reels. At last, Chalmers took hold of my arm, and exclaimed, 'It 's out of the question my getting home this week. You have a good horse, so you must just proceed to-morrow morning to Kilmany, and I will go back to Roberton. To this proposal I readily agreed. Nicol was amazed, and seemed to think we were both getting deranged. On awakening next morning, and perceiving that it rained, I began to groan a little, when my friend pulled me out of bed, and ordered me to set off with all convenient speed. Off I accordingly rode, and reached Kilmany about eight o'clock at night. Chalmers went from Nicol's to Hardie's on the Friday —we parted at Traquair—and on Saturday, to Roberton parish, where he wrote a poetical farewell to Teviotdale, and preached a brilliant sermon on 'Look not on the wine when it is red.' (Prov. xxiii. 31.) Afterwards, on his way home, he called at Abbotshall, and gave me a minute and amusing account of all his proceedings, concluding with high glee and emphasis, "This famous exploit will immortalize us, sir.' I regret that I cannot find his Farewell to Teviotdale, which I must have somehow mislaid."
* James Nicol, minister of Traquair, published, in the earlier part of his life, "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect." Edinburgh, 1805. 2 vols., 16mo. A work of his was published four years after his death, entitled, "An Essay on the Nature and Design of Scripture Sacrifices, in which the Theory of Archbishop Magee is Controverted." London, 1823. 8vo.