Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 751, May 18,

SATURDAY, MAY 18, 1878.

Should there be any one who wishes to spend a few weeks in a quiet French watering-place not far from the English coast, let him try St Valery. Here he will not find the fashion and gaiety of Trouville, requiring a dozen new costumes for his wife in as many days, nor the picturesque scenery of Biarritz and the Pyrenees. Yet the flat plains of Picardy have their charms, and there is much to interest the archæologist. This is the classic ground of the troubadours. There are great memories of heroic deeds in the middle ages, and some of the finest monuments of religious zeal. Rivers flow quietly through narrow valleys, planted with willows and poplars, often enlarging into small lakes, where the water-lily spreads its broad leaves and queenly flowers.

Wandering on the downs near the sea, the scenery is sad, but offers a grand and severe beauty of its own. Nothing is there to recall the presence of man; it is a desert, with the eternal murmur of the ocean and the ever-changing aspects of the season. Animals and birds abound in these solitudes; rabbits swarm in their burrows to such a degree that fourteen hundred have been taken from one spot at the same time. The fishing-hawk comes to seek its food in the finny tribes that rise to the surface of the water; a species of wild-fowl intrudes into the rabbit’s burrow and there builds her nest; the sea-gull deposits her eggs on the bare rock; the curlew mingles her plaintive cry with the harsher note of the heron. In the cold days of winter the swan, the eider-duck, the wild-goose, driven from the northern seas by the ice, take refuge on the sands left bare at low-water. Sometimes, during the prevalence of east wind, rare foreign birds are driven to the shores; and in the marshes, lapwings, snipes, and water-fowl abound. Capital ground this, for the ornithologist and wild-fowler.

St Valery itself, situated on the river Somme and occupying an important military position, suffered most cruelly in the wars of the middle ages. Its old walls have seen the inhabitants slaughtered and the fleets burned twenty times; English, Burgundians, and Spaniards have helped to level it to the dust; yet the brave little town has risen again from its ruins and set to work to restore its thriving commerce. Here it was that a tragical event happened in the thirteenth century, when the powerful Lord de Coucy held his sway. Many a story-teller and troubadour has narrated within the castle walls how he married the lovely Adèle, daughter of the Comte de Ponthieu, and how, as she was passing through a forest with too small an escort for such lawless times, she was attacked by brigands and subjected to the greatest indignities. Her husband, with equal cruelty, wished to efface the affront, and ordered her to be thrown into the sea. Some Flemings, sailing on their way to the Holy Land, saw the beautiful lady floating on the waves, took her on board, and when they arrived, sold her to the Sultan of Amaria, who by kind treatment made her happy in her banishment.

But whilst she forgot her country and her religion, the husband and father were filled with the deepest remorse, and determined to do penance by going to Jerusalem. A fearful tempest stranded them on the territory of the Sultan, by whose orders they were thrown into a dungeon. The day after, a great festival was held in honour of the Sultan’s birthday; and according to the custom of the country, the people came to the palace to demand a Christian captive to torture and kill. The choice fell upon the Comte de Ponthieu. When he was brought out, and the astonished Adèle recognised him, she said to her husband: ‘Give me, I pray you, this captive; he knows how to play at chess and draughts.’ Her request was granted; and then another captive appeared, the Lord de Coucy. ‘Let me also have this one,’ she said; ‘he can tell wonderful stories to amuse me.’ ‘Willingly,’ answered the obliging Sultan. Recognition was soon established among the three; pardon was sought, and granted; and Adèle, under pretext of taking a sail, escaped with the two captives, and landed in France. They regained{306} their own possessions, and from that time lived a life of great piety.

Leaving St Valery, let us take a pleasant excursion to see the fine old feudal castle of Rambures. There is probably not a more perfect specimen of the military architecture of the middle ages in the whole of France. We walk round it and admire the four enormous brick towers rising at the angles of the quadrangular fortress, crowned with the roofs then so much in favour, resembling pepper-boxes. The walls, many yards in thickness, are pierced with embrasures; where we now stand they seem like a narrow slit; but when we enter, there is ample room for a man and horse to stand in them. Everything is prepared for a long defence: descending into the vaults, there are stables for a number of horses, ovens to bake bread for a regiment, wells, and store-rooms ready to contain any amount of provisions. Below these cold dark excavations are the still more melancholy oubliettes, a suitable name, where the prisoners were too often forgotten and allowed to die a lingering death of starvation. Here the lord of the place could without any trial confine his vassals who refused to grind their wheat at his mill, bake their bread at his bakehouse, or get in his harvest at the loss of their own. Such was the state of affairs in these olden times!

The shore-line takes us to the oldest hereditary fief of the French monarchy, a spot rendered interesting from its connection with Joan of Arc. A few houses, half-buried in sand, form what the people still persist in calling ‘the port and town of Crotoy,’ once so flourishing as the centre of commerce for the wines of the south and the wool and dye-woods of Spain, which were shipped off from here to the cloth-workers of Flanders. When it belonged to our kings Edward II. and III., the port dues amounted to no less than twelve hundred pounds, a very large sum for those days; now they are but thirty-two pounds a year. The honest hospitable fishermen are always ready to rescue any distressed ship driven on to the coast by storms. It is remembered that one of their race, whose name was Vandenthum, saved the Duc de Larochefoucauld. In the worst days of the Revolution, when it was a crime to bear a title, this most devoted of the adherents of Louis XVI. fled to Crotoy, in the hope of getting to England. Before getting into Vandenthum’s boat, the Duke gave his valet half of a card, the ace of hearts, saying: ‘When this good fisherman brings you the other half, I shall be safe on the other side; pray take it at once to my wife.’ The card was delivered; and every year after the Duke shewed his gratitude by making Vandenthum spend a fortnight with him, treating him in a princely manner, seating him at his side, and recognising him as his deliverer.

It was in the strong castle of this place where Joan of Arc was imprisoned in 1430. From Amiens came a priest to receive her confession and administer the sacrament; and many ladies and citizens from the same place, sympathising with her under her cruel treatment, visited her. Thanking them warmly and kissing them, she exclaimed, weeping: ‘These are good people; may it please God, when my days are ended, that I may be buried in this place.’ If you talk to the fishermen’s wives here, they speak of this heroic woman with profound respect; and singularly enough, the last branch of her family has settled among the people she loved. They are living in comparative poverty, having a place in the Custom-house, but are proud of the letters-patent which authorise them to adopt the name of Du Lis, and bear on their arms the fleur de lis of the Bourbons.

Six miles away we come to the once celebrated church of Rue, with a dismantled fortress, a belfry, clock tower, and gibbet of the olden times. St Wulphy was a saint of miracle-working power, and to him the church was dedicated; but in the incessant attacks of the Normans his relics were carried off. The saint still cared for his church, and prayed God to give his people something better; whereupon some workmen digging near Golgotha found buried in the earth a crucifix, sculptured by Nicodemus. This was set afloat at Jaffa in a boat without oars, sail, or pilot, and soon stranded on the shore of Rue. In the present day it is trade which turns villages into towns; then it was faith; wherever the relics of a saint were to be found, the most obscure place grew rapidly in riches and population. Thus pilgrims flocked to this out-of-the-way place from all parts of France; the popes granted indulgences to those who visited it, and it became a rival to St James of Compostella. Here was often found Louis XI., who had great need for desiring pardon, and miser though he was, left behind him rich presents. Of the fine old church nothing remains but a chapel, which is a masterpiece of architectural beauty; the legend of the bark is represented on the tympanum, and on the façade are statues of several of the kings of France. All its rich treasures and the miraculous cross were carried away at the end of the last century by the faithless dragoons of the Republican army.

Musing on the changes of time and public opinion, we look far away over the downs towards Abbeville, and under the shadow of the large forest which darkens the horizon, call to mind the great victory which the armies of England gained on the field of Crécy. Edward III. knew the country well, for his youthful days had been passed at the Château Gard-les-Rue, which belonged to his mother, Isabel of Ponthieu. Walking over the ground, the spots where the carnage was most terrible may be traced by the names given to tracts of land, such as the Marche à Carognes, meaning ‘The Pathway of Corpses.’ In the morning, when the fields are covered with dew, the deep ditches where the victims were buried may be distinctly traced, for there, curiously enough, the earth remains damp much longer than in the other furrows. Standing in the green forest-road is an old cross of sandstone, which the peasants tell you is the spot where the body of the king of Bohemia was found. He was one of the most faithful allies of the French king, and blind; but in the midst of the battle he desired his two faithful knights to lead his horse in, that he might strike one last blow for his friend. All the three fell together in front of the hill, from which the English archers drew their bow-strings with such fatal effect that ten thousand of the French were left dead on the battle-field. Here it was that the gallant Black Prince won his spurs, and the crest of feathers which still pertains to our Prince of Wales.

Starting on the road to Abbeville, and passing{307} the large beetroot manufactories which abound in Picardy, we gain a beautiful view of the fertile vale of the Somme; but our destination is eastward, to visit St Riquier. Two monks from Bangor are said to have preached the gospel here 590 a.d., and incurring the anger of the idolatrous people, they were attacked and would have perished but for the help of one of their converts named Riquier. After their departure he became a priest, and continued the good work, founding an abbey, which King Dagobert richly endowed. This exquisite building was built in the form of a triangle, as a symbol of the Trinity. The number three was everywhere reproduced; three doors opened into the vestibule, three chapels rose at the angles, three altars, three pulpits, the three symbols of Constantinople, of St Athanasius, and the apostles. Three hundred monks and thirty-three choristers sang in the processions, and finally the abbot fed daily three hundred poor persons.

Whilst the ruthless hands of the whitewasher have destroyed innumerable frescoes, there still remain two large mural paintings in the treasury of this church, one being a representation of the translation of the relics of St Riquier, the other a Dance of Death. The latter is divided into three compartments; in the first are three skeletons, one digging a grave, another holding a spade (the emblem of demolition), the third an arrow, the instrument of death. Richly-dressed well-mounted cavaliers appear in the second, setting out for the chase with falcons on their wrists; but at the sight of the skeletons the horses rear, and one of the falcons is flying away. In the last, persons of every rank are walking together to the grave; a wild and poetical teaching, which recalled, in the midst of the inequalities of the feudal days, the certainty of their all meeting in the final resting-place.

It was in these well-known funereal allegories that religious thought took refuge, whilst burlesque associations or brotherhoods traversed the towns in disorganised bands, and the troubadours sang their romances of ladies catching hearts in their nets to put into the box of forgetfulness. Christian art endeavoured to bring men back to the remembrance of God by shewing them death under various aspects. Sometimes the artist placed him with a coffin under his arm in the cortège of kings; or as a guest at the marriage-feast standing behind the bride; or as a wood-cutter lopping off branches laden with nobles and citizens; as if to illustrate that however high the position in this world, all must at last fall.

To St Riquier, Charlemagne loved to repair, and he made it a centre of learning, like Tours, Metz, and St Gall. Some remains of the old towers of his day still remain, as well as the mosaic roses which he sent for from Rome to adorn it. In the porch were buried two abbots who were killed in 853, in one of the numerous incursions of the Normans. Their bodies were found wrapped in sheep-skins, when the beautiful church of the fifteenth century rose from the ashes of the old one. Among the many statues of saints which adorn the main portal is a very noble one of Joan of Arc, holding a half-broken lance; her eyes are cast down, and the expression is that of a perfectly beautiful but sad countenance. She was confined in the castle for a few days.

Upon the beauties of Amiens we must not dwell; it was a centre for the cultivation of poetry, sculpture, and the fine arts throughout the middle ages. The inhabitants worked at its glorious cathedral for sixty-eight years, forming a kind of camp, and relieving each other as they cut the stones, singing canticles the while. The tall spire was destroyed by a thunderbolt in 1527; but two zealous village carpenters determined to rebuild it; and six years later it was finished. Many monograms testify to the visits of master-masons, who came to admire the work of the Picardy peasants; the eighteen hundred medallions detailing the history of the world, besides many bas-reliefs carved by the old workmen of Amiens. Abbeville is also a most interesting old town, not only for its past monuments, but as the home of that modern geologist M. de Perthes, who has left his museum of relics to the city. We must bid adieu to Picardy, to its hardy peasants, delicious cider, and well-cultivated plains with regret, as being not the least interesting among the French provinces, and well worthy the notice of the wandering traveller.

‘We shall have a delightful day,’ said young Lady Alice joyously, as the sweet scent of the bruised heather and the steam of the wet earth came floating on the breeze, and the clouds rolled off majestically seawards, leaving the broad surface of Dartmoor, like a purple robe dashed with green, flecked and dappled by the dancing sunbeams. ‘A delightful day for our peep at the old Stannaries,’ repeated the girl. ‘The air will be all the fresher and the weather steadier, for the heavy shower of this morning.’

Lady Alice, the youngest and, some said, the cleverest of the Earl’s daughters, was an indulged child, and there was a carriage at High Tor which she regarded as her very own. This was a low wagonette, built of light osier-work, lined with dark blue, and drawn by a hairy-heeled pony, quite as shaggy as a bear, and not much bigger than a Newfoundland dog. The villagers for miles around were tolerably familiar with the jingle of the bells that were attached to the pony’s collar; but on the present occasion the boy in livery who held the reins had been bidden to strike into one of the rugged roads that led into the moor itself, where hamlets were scarce, and even isolated dwellings few and far between.

‘It would be a thousand pities,’ said Lady Alice presently, turning towards Ethel, who sat beside her in the wagonette, ‘not to shew you the Stannaries—which are among our principal lions hereabouts—before the winter-storms set in. It is not always pleasant or quite safe to go so far into the moor after apple-harvest.’

‘But you forget,’ said Ethel, smiling, ‘that I, in my ignorance, have not the very faintest idea as to what Stannaries may be.’

‘Is it possible!’ exclaimed the child, turning upon her governess a glance of that pitying wonder with which the very young receive a confession of deficient information on the part of their elders. ‘Did you really never hear, Miss Gray, of our Cornish and Devon tin-mines?—we call them Stannaries because stannum is the Latin word for{308} tin, you know—which were worked, ever so many hundreds and thousands of years ago, by Phœnicians and Carthaginians and Jews I believe, and Romans I am sure. Very ancient they are at anyrate, and very curious; and I want to shew you ours, the only ones in this part of Dartmoor, with the stone huts of the miners still standing, although no tin has been taken out of the lodes for many a long year.’

Ethel laughed good-humouredly at her own scanty stock of local lore.

‘I have read,’ she said gently, ‘of tin mines in Cornwall, and of that place with the odd name Marazion, which made people fancy the Lost Tribes were to be looked for somewhere near the Land’s End, and how the Phœnicians came of old in ships to fetch the tin away. But I did not know they came to Devon too.’

‘O yes; they did,’ persisted Lady Alice, eager for the credit of her county. ‘Our workings are quite as ancient as the great Cornish mines, though not so big. And there was once a Mayor of Halgaver, and a sort of diggers’ law on the moor, as there is among the gold-seekers in Australia now. I have heard Papa speak of it. But there is the farmhouse’—pointing to a dwelling, screened by black firs from the cold north-east winds, which crowned a swelling ridge of high ground—‘our explorings. You are a capital walker, and so am I; and the way to enjoy the moor and understand it is to cross it on foot.’

The pony, wagonette, and lad in livery being duly left at the farm, the two girls set off together to traverse the distance that intervened between the ridge on which the house was built and a bleak table-land from which cropped up, like fossil mushrooms, many gray stones of various shapes.

‘Those are the Circles—the Rounds as the poor people call them,’ said Lady Alice in her character of cicerone. ‘Nobody in these parts cares to be near them after dark. They are said to be haunted, but that is all nonsense of course.’

‘They look cold and ghostly enough even in broad daylight,’ said Ethel, as they pushed on along a broad smooth track of emerald green, one of several green belts that varied the dull purple of the sea of heather. Overhead, on tireless wing, the hawk wheeled. The lapwing, with complaining note, skirred the plain, striving with world-old artifice of drooping wing and broken flight, to lure away the human intruders from her flat nest, full of speckled eggs. The moorland hare, dark-furred and long-limbed, broke abruptly from her seat and galloped off unpursued. The Circles were reached at last, and proved to be quaint rings of dilapidated buildings, all of unhewn stone and of the rudest construction. Here and there the huts, roof and walls alike composed of rough slabs, were intact. Nothing could be more desolate than the appearance of these bare, gaunt hovels, reared by the hands of the long dead, standing solitary in the midst of a desert.

‘Here they lived once upon a time, those old people, the heathen miners, whose bronze tools and lumps of ore and morsels of charred wood are even now sometimes picked up by boys who hunt for birds’ eggs on the moor. They worked near the surface, and never drove their galleries very deep into the earth. And then came Christian times, when these hovels were inhabited by very different dwellers, until at last the mines were given up as no longer worth the labour of winning the tin.’

Ethel looked around her with a kind of awe. She had imagination enough to enable her to realise the dim Past, when these deserted huts were peopled by inhabitants strange of garb and speech, gnomes of the mine utterly unlike to any who now tread English ground. In fancy she could behold the motley throng of Pagan toilers, whose bronze picks had once rung against gneiss and granite, mica and sandstone, on the now silent moor. There the Briton, his fair skin stained with woad, and the small and swarthy mountaineer whose forefathers had preceded the Celt in ownership of the land, had laboured side by side with Spaniard, Moor, and Goth, with Scythian, Arab, and Indian—slaves all, and mostly captives in war, whom the cruel policy of Rome consigned to far-off regions of the earth, much as our justice stocked Virginian plantations and Australian cattle-runs with the offscourings of ignorance and crime.

It was at the grave as it were of a dead industry that Ethel now stood. The ground, honeycombed by what resembled gigantic rabbit-burrows, was strewed here and there with dross and scoriæ, and blackened by fire, wherever the remains of a rude kiln told of smelting carried on long ago.

‘I have all sorts of things to shew you,’ said Lady Alice impatiently. ‘Just look into one of the huts, and then wonder how human beings could ever have made a home of such a place. See! It is just like a stone bee-hive—no windows. That was for warmth, I suppose. The little light they wanted came in at the door, no doubt. And up above there, where you see the hole between the stones, the smoke must have found its way out, after it had half-choked the lungs and blinded the eyes of those inside the hut. They wanted a good peat-fire though, to keep them alive when the great snows of winter fell; and they had it too, for just see how hard and black the earthen floor has become in the course of years. Now then for the mine where the Roman sword was found, and then for the Pixies’ Well.’

The Pixies’ Well proved to be a curious natural depression in the rocky soil, thimble-shaped, and about twenty feet in depth, carpeted with moss of the brightest green from the brink to where the water glimmered starlike from amid rank weeds beneath.

‘They say the fairies used to dance round this well on Midsummer night and dip stolen children in the water, that they might never long to go back to earth again, but live contentedly in Elfland. Our Devonshire people believe all sorts of things still, you must know, though they are getting ashamed of talking about them before strangers.—Are you tired, Miss Gray?’

Miss Gray was not tired, and her mercurial pupil thereupon proposed a visit to a new attraction.

‘The idea of it came into my head while we were looking down into the well,’ explained Lady Alice; ‘and though the Hunger Hole is not one of the sights of the Stannaries, still if you are not afraid of a longer walk, we might visit it and yet be at home in good time. It is a mile or more from here.’


‘That is an odd name, the Hunger Hole,’ said Ethel. ‘I suppose there is some legend to account for so ominous a word?’

‘There is indeed,’ said the Earl’s youngest daughter as, by Ethel’s side, she left the ring of ruinous huts and passed along a strong causeway that led towards the west; ‘and moreover, in this case there can be no doubt about its being true. A young Jacobite—it was just after the Northern rising in 1715—fled to a country-house near here, Morford Place, where his mother’s family lived, hoping to be sheltered and enabled to embark secretly for France. There had been treachery at work, however, for the fugitive’s intentions were revealed to the authorities; and on the morning of the very day when he arrived in mean disguise, constables and soldiers had searched the mansion from garret to cellar.

‘That the poor refugee should be concealed at Morford seemed impossible, and yet as the roads were beset and the harbours watched, escape over sea was not for the moment to be thought of. The squire of Morford bethought him of the place that we are going to see, which was then known to very few, and where priests had often been hidden, when every Jesuit who came to England carried his life in his hand. So young Mr John Grahame—that was his name—was lodged in the grotto that we shall presently see, and sometimes one of the ladies of the family, his cousins, and sometimes a trusty servant, carried him food. But the poor young man had some secret enemy who could not rest until assured of his destruction, for just as the rigour of the pursuit seemed to be over, and it was arranged that the fugitive should be put on board a smuggling craft bound for the French coast, Morford Place was again searched, and a chain of sentries posted, with orders to shoot whoever tried to pass them by.

‘Day after day dragged on, and no food could be conveyed to the unfortunate occupant of the Hiding Hole—the Priest’s Hole, as they called it then—while the dragoons scoured the country, questioning the folks in every village if a stranger had been seen. No doubt it was hoped that famine would force the Jacobite to leave his retreat; but after a time the soldiers grew tired of waiting, or the authorities imagined they had been on a false scent. At anyrate the troops were withdrawn. But when some of the Morford family stole, trembling, to the unfrequented spot where their luckless kinsman lay hid, they stood aghast to see the raven and the carrion-crow flapping and screaming about the grotto—a sure sign that there was death within. True enough, poor young Grahame had perished of want, sooner than venture forth to be dragged to the jail and the gibbet; and ever since that day the place has borne the name of the Hunger Hole.’

By this time the stony causeway had given place to a narrow footway that led through one of those swamps that vary the undrained surface of Dartmoor. To left and right rose tall reeds, thick enough to simulate a tropical cane-brake, while wild flax, mallows, and stunted alder-bushes abounded. The moor-hen sprang from her nest among the bulrushes that bordered the sullen pools of discoloured water, and the snake crept hissing through the coarse grass, as if angry at the unwonted trespass on his haunts. The unstable ground, even at that dry season of the year, shook beneath the feet of the explorers; and it was easy for Ethel to give credence to her pupil’s statement that even the hardy moorman avoided Bitternley Swamp in winter.

‘The place took its name from the bitterns that used to abound here,’ said Lady Alice; ‘but there is no nook too lonely for the men whom the London bird-stuffers employ, and the last bittern was shot two years since. Soon there won’t be a feathered creature, except pheasants and partridges and perhaps the saucy sparrows, left alive.—But that’—as they passed a sheet of dark water, stained by the peat of the morass until it resembled ink in hue—‘is Blackpool; and yonder, among those rocks on the bank above, is the Hunger Hole. You cannot see the opening of the grotto from here—that is the beauty of it—but wait till we get quite close, and then you will understand how naturally the cave was made to hide in.’

Even when the two girls had got clear of the swamp and scrambled up the rude flight of steps, nearly effaced by time and rains, that facilitated the scaling of the precipitous bank, Ethel could see no signs of the grotto they sought, until her youthful companion pulled aside the hazel boughs, that grew between two angles of lichen-incrusted rock, and disclosed, about a yard above their heads, a narrow fissure, too low for a person of ordinary stature to enter without stooping, and even then half-hidden by grass and brambles.

‘That is the Hunger Hole,’ said Lady Alice triumphantly. ‘A fugitive may lie concealed here, I think, if the enemy were ranging all the moor to capture him. It is higher inside than at the mouth, and the bridge within gives access to the inner chamber. Come; we must be quick.—Ah! there is no danger,’ added the girl, mistaking the cause of her companion’s hesitation.

‘I am not afraid; I was merely thinking of the sad story of this place,’ said Ethel with a shudder that she could not repress. And passing over the boulders of loose rock, they entered Indian file into the Hunger Hole.

Ethel, on following her young pupil through the darkling portal of the cave, moved forward at first with extreme precaution; but gradually, as her eyes became accustomed to the dim mysterious light that reigned within, she could distinguish that the grotto really did increase in height within two paces of the entrance, and that it was quite possible to stand upright without inconvenience beneath the rocky roof. She saw that she was in a natural cavern of small dimensions, the irregular level of the floor being moistened by the water that oozed through a crevice between two mossy stones and trickled onwards until it fell, with a monotonous dripping sound, into a chasm some ten or eleven feet in breadth, over which a wooden bridge, the timbers of which were black with age and coated with colourless growths of fungi and mosses, afforded the means of passing.

‘They say the Hunger Hole was known and used from very early times,’ observed Lady Alice, stepping fearlessly upon the dilapidated bridge, of which the hand-rails, if such there had been, had long since rotted away. ‘But its very existence was kept secret by the Morfords of Morford and two or three other families of the neighbouring{310} gentry and their trusty retainers, until after that sad tragedy of which I told you. You will find the inner chamber more comfortable than the outer cave, where the spring is.’

And indeed Ethel found herself in a recess, somewhat smaller than the exterior portion of the cavern, but dry, and free alike from trickling moisture and the unwholesome growth of cryptogams, that carpeted the slimy floor of the antechamber through which they had passed. At one extremity of the chamber a sort of bench or bed-place had been cut, evidently by human agency, in the stony wall. Light came filtered down through boughs and creeping-plants from above the chasm, where a glimpse of the sky might be caught; while beneath, some subterranean pool or streamlet, to judge by the drip, drip, of the water that ran over the mossy lip of the fissure, certainly existed.

‘Life must have been very dreary here, spent in solitude, and with the haunting apprehension that at each instant the secret of the hiding-hole might be betrayed or discovered,’ said Ethel, again shivering, as though the air of the cave had been icy cold. ‘It would be almost better to face any danger than to linger’——

A sudden creaking and cracking, as of breaking wood-work, interrupted Ethel’s speech, and was instantly followed by a dull heavy plunge, and then a splashing sound, as though something weighty had fallen from a considerable height into water below.

‘Good heavens, the bridge—the bridge!’ Such were the words that rose simultaneously to the lips of both the girls, and by a common impulse pupil and governess hurried to the verge of the abyss. Their instinct of alarm had been but too accurate in divining what had occurred. The bridge—the rotten old timbers of which had for centuries been exposed to the corroding influence of time and decay—had disappeared into the depths below, and now an impassable chasm yawned between the young explorers of the cave and the doorway by which they had entered it. They fell back and looked at one another with white scared faces.

Ethel was the first to recover her self-command. ‘This is awkward,’ she said, trying to smile, ‘for we shall be late in reaching High Tor, and I am afraid the Countess will be anxious. Of course, as soon as it is known that we have not returned to the farm where the carriage and pony were left, search will be made.’

‘No one will think of looking here,’ returned young Lady Alice, with a disconsolate shake of the head. ‘We are fully two miles from the Stannaries, and everybody will suppose that we have returned thence by the footpath that crosses Bramberry Common, or the bridle-road that skirts Otter Pool and the Red Rock—short-cuts both of them, and favourite paths of mine, as is known. I am, unluckily, a wilful child, and have a sad character for roving over hill and dale, so that even Mamma will not be frightened at the first. And—and, another thing that is bad. Nobody will suspect us of crossing Bitternley Swamp, even in fine weather, without a gentleman or a man of some sort, to take care of us in case of need. The truth is, Miss Gray, it was a silly thing to do, a fool-hardy trick to play even on a day like this; for lives have been lost there often, as all on the moor know. We got across dry-footed or nearly so; but it might have been different. My brother said once, I was as bad to follow as a Will-o’-the-Wisp could be.’ The girl laughed, as though to reanimate her own drooping spirits, but the sullen echoes of the cave gave back the laughter hollowly.

‘Can we not make some signal—call aloud perhaps, to notify our plight to any who may be passing near?’ asked Ethel, after a moment’s consideration. But even as she spoke she felt the futility of the expedient she had suggested.

‘Nobody may pass this way for weeks to come,’ said Lady Alice despondently. ‘You don’t know, you can’t guess how very desolate Dartmoor is at most times. We might scream ourselves hoarse, without getting an answer from any voice but that of the peewit by day and the fern-owl by night. No; I was thinking I could perhaps get across.’

But a deliberate survey of the chasm proved the hopelessness of such an attempt. A trained gymnast with nerves exceptionally steady could readily have taken the leap, although to slip or stumble was to incur a certain and miserable death in the unseen waters below. But even the hardy maidens who tend their brass-belled kine among the Alpine pastures of Tyrol would have flinched from the effort to spring from one side of that yawning gulf to the other. Then for a time, a long time, there was silence, unbroken save by the regular plash and tinkle of the water, as it trickled over the floor of the outer cave and fell over into the black abyss below.

‘They must surely take the alarm at High Tor,’ said Ethel after a space. ‘There will be a hue-and-cry through all the neighbourhood. The worst that can happen will be that we may spend the night here, and be very cold and very hungry.’

‘Hungry! Yes, we are likely to be that, before we are found,’ half-petulantly interrupted Lady Alice. And then there was no more said for a longer time than before.

Ethel’s mind was busy as she sat side by side with her pupil on the rough-hewn bench of stone that had been the death-bed of the luckless Jacobite refugee. How little had she thought, when listening an hour or two ago, to the legend of John Grahame’s death, that she who told and she who hearkened to the tale would soon be shut up in that dismal lair, to suffer hardship, perhaps even to—— No, not to die, so near to home and friends; that was a supposition too wild to be harboured! They must be sought out, found, delivered from the prison to which accident had consigned them. Some one would pass. Some one might even then be within hearing, and be rambling on all-unconscious of the predicament of those within. So strongly did the idea that friendly ears might be near present itself to Ethel, that she started to her feet, calling aloud again and again for help. The hollow echoes of the cave returned the sound, as though in mockery, while Lady Alice sat mute and listless on the rocky bench. Presently she too sprang up. ‘I cannot bear it,’ cried the young girl, in her quick impetuous way. ‘I would sooner run the risk of fifty deaths than remain here, listening to the dreadful drip, drip, of the water as it falls into the pool or the brook beneath. We can’t, now{311} the bridge is gone, cross the fissure. But perhaps, if you would help me, I might manage to scramble to the top of the rocks above here where the light comes down, and at any rate wave a handkerchief, or do something to attract attention if any one comes near.’

Ethel glanced up at the ragged rocks draped with weed and bramble, and then down at the gaping chasm, into which a false step would probably hurl any aspirant who should prove unequal to the attempt.

‘It is for me to try it, my dear, not you,’ she said quietly, but with a resolution that was not to be shaken. ‘I am taller and stronger; and besides, how could I meet the Countess again if I allowed you to run into a danger I shrank from?’ And without further prelude Ethel grasped a tough tendril of the ivy that hung within reach, and by clinging to every crevice or angle of the rock that could yield support to foot or hand, succeeded in gaining a ledge of stone, above which a tall slender hazel shot up into the free air. But to climb the few feet of bare stone above her was impossible. ‘It is idle; I cannot do it,’ she said sadly.

It did indeed begin to seem a hopeless case, that is supposing that young Lady Alice was correct in her estimate of the loneliness of the spot and of the unlikelihood of succour.

‘I cannot reach the top; the rock is as steep as a wall,’ said Ethel, again looking down from amidst the ferns and foxgloves, the ivy trails and ropes of bramble, that half-filled the aperture.

‘That tall nut-tree, it is close to your hand,’ cried the quick-witted young damsel below. ‘Could you not pull it towards you, tie your handkerchief to the topmost bough, and let it spring up again? That would give us a chance, should any one come near.’

With some difficulty Ethel succeeded in grasping the tough stem of the tall hazel, and bending it until she was able to make fast her handkerchief, as Alice had suggested, to the uppermost twigs. Up sprang the slender stem again the instant it was released, and the white pennon fluttered out, clear of the rocks, in the moorland breeze.

‘We have hoisted our flag,’ said Lady Alice blithely, ‘to let them know we are at home.’ But as hour after hour went by, and the longed-for help came not, and the increasing gloom of the faint cool light that filled the grotto told of the waning of the day, the spirits of Ethel’s young charge lost their buoyancy.

‘I wish at least,’ she said peevishly, ‘that tiresome dripping of the water would but stop. I feel as though it would drive me mad. Why not try the jump back over the chasm? Even if one fell in, it would be better so than to die by inches.’

Ethel did her best to impart comfort. But her pupil would not be comforted.

‘No, no!’ she said repeatedly; ‘they will not find us till—till it is too late. The last place where any one would dream of looking is the Hunger Hole. It is so far off that nobody will imagine we walked all the way; and then, as none know of the broken bridge, it will never occur to any one that we are shut up here. They will believe us to be drowned. It is not difficult to get smothered in a swamp hereabouts. And the pools will be dragged and the rivers examined, and still the riddle will remain unsolved.’

Presently the girl crept up to Ethel’s side and stole her hand into that of her governess. ‘I want you to forgive me, Miss Gray—Ethel dear,’ she said in a low voice. ‘It is my wilfulness that has been the cause of all.’

Ethel answered her soothingly; and with a great sob young Lady Alice, who was no coward, kept down her rising tears. For an hour or more they sat silent, hand in hand.

‘Do you remember,’ whispered Alice De Vere, after a time, ‘an old, old song, The Mistletoe Bough? Maud sings it. I am afraid it will come true for us, and the Hunger Hole will have a new story.’

It is a somewhat remarkable fact that the domain of human existence is singularly liable to be intruded upon by lower forms of both animal and plant life, which may in some cases inflict injury of great extent upon man’s possessions or even upon his bodily frame. Not so long ago a foreign member of the beetle-fraternity threatened the interests of agriculturists in this country, and caused consternation to prevail throughout the length and breadth of the land. And although the alarm with which the advent of the insect-intruder was hailed has now disappeared, agriculturists would inform us that their especial territory is beset with other insect-enemies which invariably damage their crops, and which in certain seasons cause the disastrous failure of many a thriving field. Witness in proof of this the ravages of the ‘turnip-fly’ and its neighbours, which blight the crops in some districts to an extent which must be seen to be realised. Or take the case of the hop-grower, whose favourable prospects largely depend on the absence of a small species of plant-lice which specially affects these plants, and which in certain seasons may cause, by their enormous increase, the total failure of this important crop. Nor do our insect-foes confine their ravages to growing-crops. When the fruits of the harvest have been duly gathered in and stored within the granary, even there they are attacked by minute pests. Numberless insects—flies, beetles, and other forms—select the granary as a nursery or suitable place for the upbringing of their young; the larvæ or young insects feeding on the grain and destroying large quantities by their increase as well as by their destructive habits. Apart from the domain of agriculture, however, lower forms of animal and plant life powerfully affect man’s estate. The growth and increase of lower plants produce many skin-diseases; and if it be true—already rendered probable—that epidemics are propagated through the agency of living ‘germs’ which increase after the fashion of lower forms of life, then it may be held that we are liable to be attacked on every side by enemies, insignificant as to size, but of incalculable power when their numbers are taken into consideration.{312} Parasites of various kinds ravage man’s flocks and even affect his own health, so that it is perfectly clear that we do not by any means enjoy any immunity whatever from the enemies which living nature in its prolific abundance produces, and which select man and man’s belongings as their lawful spoil.

The animal enemies of man, concerning which we purpose to say a few words in the present paper, belong to a different sphere from that at which we have just glanced. Some of the most powerful marauders upon human territory belong to the Mollusca or group of the true shell-fish, and present themselves as near relations of the oysters, mussels, and their allies. The molluscs which become of interest to man in other than a gastronomic sense, possess, like the famous oyster, a bivalve shell, or one consisting of two halves. In the first of man’s molluscan enemies to which we may direct attention, the shell is of small size, and so far from inclosing the body of the animal, appears to exist merely as an appendage to one extremity, which for want of a better term, we may name the head—although, as every one knows, no distinct head exists in the oyster and its kind. Suppose that from this head-extremity, bearing its two small shells, a long worm-like or tubular body is continued, and we may then form a rough and ready, but correct idea of the appearance of the famous ‘ship-worm’—the Teredo of the naturalist. This animal was first styled the ‘ship-worm’ by Linnæus and his contemporaries; and in truth it resembles a worm much more closely than its shell-fish neighbours. As a worm, indeed, it was at first classified by naturalists. But appearances in zoological science are as deceptive as they are known proverbially to be in common life, and the progress of research afterwards duly discovered beneath the worm-like guise of the teredo, all the characters of a true mollusc. The long body of the mollusc simply consists of the breathing-tubes, by which water is admitted to the gills, being extremely developed, the body proper being represented by the small portion to which the two small shells are attached.

The importance of the ship-worm arises from the use it makes of these apparently insignificant shells as a boring-apparatus; and any sea-side visitor, residing on a coast where an ocean-swell or severe storms strew the shore with drift-wood, has but to use his eyes to assure himself of the extent and perfection of the ship-worm’s labours. Pieces of drift-wood may be seen to be literally riddled by these molluscs, which live in the burrows they thus excavate. Each habitation is further seen to be coated with a limy layer formed by the tubular body, and the boring for the most part is noted to proceed in the direction of the grain of the wood. The little excavator turns aside in its course, however, when it meets with a knot in the wood, and an iron nail appears of all things to be the ship-worm’s greatest obstacle—a fact which has been taken advantage of, as we shall presently see, by way of arresting its work of destruction.

Linnæus long ago designated the ship-worm as the calamitas navium, and although perhaps the expression as applied to ships is somewhat far-fetched—save in the case of broken-down hulks—and utterly inapplicable in this age of iron, there can be little doubt that regarded relatively to wooden piles, piers, and like erections, the ship-worm is unquestionably a calamity personified. So, at anyrate, thought the Dutch in the years 1731-32, when the teredo began to pay attentions of too exclusive a nature to the wooden piles which supported the great earth-works or ‘dikes’ that keep the sea from claiming the United Provinces as its own. A Dutchman has been well said to pay great attention to two things which are euphoniously and shortly expressed by the words ‘dams’ and ‘drams.’ The former keep the sea from invading his territory, and the latter aid in protecting him personally from the effects of the perennial damp amidst which he exists. The ship-worm in the years just mentioned caused terror to prevail through the length and breadth of the Netherlands, through its appearance in large numbers in the wooden piles of the dams or dikes. On these piles the fortunes of Holland may be said to depend; and the foundations of the Dutch empire might therefore be regarded, correctly enough, as having been sapped and threatened by an envious enemy in the shape of a mollusc, and one belonging to by no means the highest group of that division of animals. The alarm spread fast through the Netherlands, and the government was not slow to appreciate the danger, or to offer a reward of large amount for the discovery of any plan which would successfully stay the progress of such dreaded invaders.

Inventors, it might be remarked, are not slow, as a rule, to accept invitations of such generous nature; and if report speaks truly, the office of discriminating between the worthless and feasible projects which were submitted to the Dutch nation on the occasion referred to, could not have proved either an easy or enviable one. Then came the chemists with lotions innumerable, and the inventors of varnishes, paints, and poisons were in a state of hopeful anxiety. But none of these preparations was found to fulfil the required conditions, and the only project which appeared to savour of feasibility was one which was rejected on account of its impracticable nature—namely that of picking the teredos from their burrows like whelks from their shells. The kingdom of Holland thus appeared in a fair way of being undermined by an enemy of infinitely greater power and one less capable of being successfully resisted than the Grand Turk, who once upon a time declared his intention of exterminating the nation with an army whose only weapons were spades and shovels. But after a period of unrestricted labour, the ship-worm ‘turned tail’ on the Netherlands, and disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving only a few stragglers to mark the vantage-ground.

Though Britain has not suffered from teredo-epidemics in the same measure as Holland, there can be little doubt that the ravages of this mollusc on the timber of our piers and dockyards, cost us a large sum annually. The stoutest oak is riddled through with the same ease displayed in perforating the softer pine; and in some of our seaport towns, especially on the southern coasts, the yearly estimates for repairs of damage done by the ship-worm{313} form no inconsiderable item in the government or local expenditure as the case may be. The most effectual plan for the repression of the teredo and for the prevention of its work of destruction appears to be that of protecting the exposed timber by driving therein short nails with very broad heads. These nails form a kind of armour-casing which is rendered more effective through the chemical action of the water in producing rust.

Some molluscs, near neighbours of the teredo, and which burrow for the most part into stone, but occasionally perforate wood, are those belonging to the Piddock-family—the genera Pholas and Saxicava of the naturalist—celebrated by Pliny of old as phosphorescent animals. The Saxicavæ have somewhat elongated shells, by means of which they burrow in rocks and lie ensconced in their dwelling-places, and whose perforated rock-homes are eagerly sought after by all who delight in forming rockeries in their gardens. These molluscs have ere now caused fears for the safety of Plymouth breakwater, through the persistence with which they excavated their burrows into the substance of the stones. And as has been well pointed out, the destructive action of these molluscs may pave the way for an inroad of the sea; a riddled mass of rock or stone being rendered through their attack liable to disintegration from the action of the waves.

A final example of an animal enemy of man which as regards size is to be deemed insignificant when compared with the teredo, but which nevertheless adds by its destructive work to our annual expenditure, is the little crustacean known as the Limnoria terebrans, or popularly as the wood-boring shrimp or ‘gribble.’ This animal belongs to the group including the familiar ‘Slaters’ or ‘Wood-lice,’ found under stones and in damp situations, and by means of its powerful jaws burrows deeply into wood of all kinds. Occasionally, the ship-worm and gribble have been found at work in the same locality and have committed ravages of great extent; the latter, on account of its small size, being more difficult of detection and eradication than its molluscan neighbour.

The consideration of a subject such as the present, it may lastly be remarked, possesses a phase not without some degree of consolation to minds which, if incapable of seeing ‘good in everything,’ may nevertheless believe in the adjustment and counterbalancing of most of Nature’s operations. The repression of animal life by parasites may in one sense prove a gain to nature at large, viewed from a Malthusian stand-point, although humanly considered, there may be differences of opinion regarding the applicability of the opinion to the case of man. But if the ravages of the teredo and its neighbours on the works of man are to be considered as a veritable affliction, we must not fail to think also of the service these animals render in clearing the ocean of vast masses of drift-wood, which, liberated from the mouths of all the great rivers of the world, would speedily accumulate to check navigation and impede commerce in many quarters of the world. The genius of Brunel, which discerned in the manner of the ship-worm’s burrowing the true method of excavating the tunnel associated with his name, and which thus improved engineering science by a happy thought and observation, may also be regarded as bearing testimony to the consoling fact that there exist few evils which are entirely unmixed with good.

A few years ago, in the second week of September, I found myself, very much against my inclination, still inhaling the dusty atmosphere of my London chambers, Lincoln’s Inn. I was anxious that the suit upon which I was engaged should be ready for the commencement of the November term; it was unusually intricate; the client a man of high rank and importance, or I should not have allowed it to detain me in town after the 12th of August, at which date all the ordinary temptations had assailed me and had been resisted; and now having relinquished my favourite recreations, both grouse and partridge shooting, all my friends dispersed far and wide, and no companion left in town with whom I cared to spend the remaining weeks of the long vacation, I was quite at a loss whither to betake myself for a change, so necessary to the exhausted legal brain at that period of the year. I turned over the leaves of my Bradshaw in the hope of gaining an idea, but its maddening pages left me more unsettled than ever. At last I suddenly resolved to run down to Brighton by the afternoon express, which I found would just give me time to go home for a portmanteau and make the few necessary arrangements for a short absence; one thing only being clear to my mind, that I should not stay long away.

The transit from Lincoln’s Inn to Eaton Place, where as a bachelor I still resided with my mother, was rapidly accomplished; and if I had not been unexpectedly detained at home, I should have reached Victoria in comfortable time; as it was, my hansom only drove into the station as the bell was ringing for the train to start, and I hastily jumped into the first carriage in which I could find room, as the train moved on. It proved to be a second-class.

As soon as I had settled myself in my corner, I naturally took an observation of my companions. There were but two on my side of the carriage: an elderly and very provincial-looking lady; and opposite to her, and in the farthest corner from my own, a very young one, who at once arrested my attention. That she was quite a girl was very evident, though her face was almost concealed by one of those ugly blue veils which render the complexion livid, the hair green; but in this instance the actual shade of the latter was visible in the rich plaits which were coiled round the back of her head, and such golden-brown is sure to be accompanied by a skin as fair as that of the slender throat of which I just caught a glimpse. The figure was extremely petite and graceful, the dress perfectly plain, and the whole appearance so undoubtedly that of a young lady, that it seemed an almost incongruous circumstance that she should have in her lap a sleeping infant.{314} The child—richly dressed in ample robes, and carefully veiled—was so small that I guessed it to be scarcely a month old.

Now we all know that there are women who adore babies, and it is possible that there are also some girls who are given to a predilection so incomprehensible to the masculine mind generally. I concluded that I beheld one of these wonders in my youthful fellow-traveller, as at any slight movement of her little charge, she soothed and hushed it in a truly maternal manner; while her companion (no doubt, thought I, the child’s nurse) was entirely occupied, as it seemed to me for want of something else to do, with a huge packet of sandwiches.

Presently our fast train stopped at Croydon. The elderly female prepared to alight; and having assisted her, I offered to hand out the young lady. To my great surprise she said: ‘Thank you very much, but I go on to Brighton.’

‘And baby too?’ I asked.

‘O yes!’ she replied. ‘I never trust him to any one else.’

I was sorely perplexed. Surely, surely she could not be the mother. The thought was preposterous. My curiosity was fairly roused, and I tried to beguile her into conversation on indifferent topics; but she was a discreet little person, and her replies were so monosyllabic, that we arrived at our destination without having become in the least better acquainted. However, as we entered the station, she did at last throw back the ugly veil as she looked somewhat anxiously from the window, and then disclosed to my admiring gaze one of the loveliest faces I had ever looked upon. She appeared to be about sixteen. Large dark eyes bright as stars, were shaded with long black lashes; a rosebud of a mouth, a small delicate nose ever so slightly retroussé, and the sudden blush which increased these charms, when I asked if she expected any one to meet her, made a powerful impression upon me then, and were destined, though I knew it not at the time, to affect my peace of mind and influence my future life.

I repeated my question before she gave her hesitating answer: ‘The fact is I do not expect any one, as my friends do not know that I am alone.’

‘Pray allow me then to help you with your luggage, or in any way.’

‘Thank you so much, but I have no luggage; the servants brought it all down yesterday.’ Then again blushing, she added: ‘If you would kindly call a fly, it will be all I shall require.’

Before handing her out of the carriage, I offered (I confess in much tribulation) to relieve her of the infant; but she exclaimed, laughing merrily: ‘O no; I really could not trust you for the world.’

So we walked together towards the fly, I having previously observed that her ticket, like my own, was for the first-class. Here was another mystery. In my haste I had been glad to secure a seat anywhere; but I recollected that she must have been settled in her corner of the carriage for some time when I jumped in, as she then appeared to be quite absorbed in a book. We now reached the fly; and not in the least incommoded with her burden, she skipped nimbly up the steps, and requested me to direct the driver to ‘89 Marine Parade.’

‘No mystery about the address at all events,’ I thought as I raised my hat to take leave of my fair companion, who bending towards me, thanked me with the sweet voice and refined pronunciation that I love to hear in women, for the slight service I had rendered her, and left me perfectly bewitched by her grace and beauty. I stood gazing after the fly till it was quite out of sight, before I procured one for myself. I could not understand my feelings. That I, a man of the world, accustomed to the society of attractive women, should in my thirtieth year fall in love at first sight with a little girl scarcely more than half that age, seemed incredible. I could not, and would not believe it. No; it certainly was mere curiosity which induced me to traverse Brighton from morning to night in the hope of seeing her again. For three whole days my rambles were unsuccessful. I fancied once that she passed in a barouche on the drive; but it was only the pose in the carriage which struck me, the face being turned away. At last I began to fear that she and her friends had only stopped at Brighton en route for some other destination; and feeling utterly weary of all the frequented parts of the gay town, on the fourth morning I wandered towards Cliftonville. A deep reverie was interrupted by the sound of silvery-toned laughter; and considerably below me on the beach I discerned the fairy form which had become so familiar to my imagination. An adjacent seat was a ‘coigne of vantage’ whence I could watch her who had so attracted me.

She was attired in a dainty morning-dress of pale blue, looped up over the crisp white frills of an under-skirt; she wore the same hat in which I had first seen her, but without the objectionable veil, and still better, was without the far more objectionable baby. A fashionable-looking lady was seated near her occupied with a book; while the fairy (as I shall call her till I know her name) was frolicking about with a little Maltese dog, which she vainly endeavoured to entice into the sea. The little animal, more like a ball of white wool, scampered readily enough after the pebbles thrown for it as the waves retreated, but rushed back to his mistress, as if for protection from the advancing waters, as they returned and broke upon the shingle.

I watched these gambols with the interest of a school-boy, rather than that of a man of my mature age, and felt that I should never tire of so watching them. Then the elder lady rose and spoke to her companion; the latter immediately picked up the little dog, and they walked slowly up the beach towards the place where I was sitting, without observing me until they were so close that I could not avoid (had I so wished) raising my hat to my late railway companion. She returned my salutation with a blush and a smile; while her friend’s inquiring glance was somewhat haughty.

‘The gentleman, dear aunt,’ explained the fairy, ‘who was so kind to me on my journey.’

‘I am happy, sir, to have the opportunity of thanking you for your attention to my niece,’ was the rejoinder—the words being courteous enough, while the manner was so distant, that it was impossible for me to do otherwise than wish them good-morning, and content myself with gazing after the blue cloud which enveloped my fairy till it had melted away in the distance.


Of course I walked in the same direction the following morning, but no fairy appeared to me. I tried the esplanade, the piers, the shops at all hours, without success. At last one day, which I had almost determined should be my last in Brighton, I thought a book might change my thoughts, and by good-fortune went for it to the library in St James’s Street. There, standing in the entrance, I beheld the graceful little lady with her white dog. The stately aunt was at the counter turning over the books; and when at last she had made her choice, she found her niece actually conversing with a comparative stranger. I could see that she was not greatly pleased at the meeting, in spite of her studied politeness; but to my infinite satisfaction, a friendly shower detained her, and she was unavoidably drawn into the conversation, though with true English reserve; her niece, on the contrary, chattered away with all the naïveté of a child.

‘We must have a fly, Lily,’ said the aunt presently. ‘I am sure the rain will not cease for some time.’

‘Oh, it is really hardly worth while,’ replied that young lady, ‘we are so near home, and my considerate fellow-traveller has offered us his umbrella.’

‘You are extremely polite, sir,’ said the frigid duenna; ‘but you require it yourself; we cannot think of’——

‘Not at all,’ I interrupted. ‘Pray favour me by using it. Any time will do for returning it; either to the Old Ship, where I am staying; or I am here almost every day; or if you will allow me, I would save all trouble by calling for it.’ I then presented my card, which bore my town address. It evidently satisfied her, for the icy manner perceptibly thawed; and taking out her card-case, she gave me her own, expressing her hope that they might have the pleasure of seeing me.

Here was a success. I think I must have returned to the hotel on wings—certainly it was not the ordinary walk of mortals which conveyed me; for I found myself seated before my solitary dinner quite oblivious of everything that might have occurred since that parting at the library.

The following afternoon, on wings again, I flew to the temple which enshrined my divinity. Miss Langdale was at home. I had of course inquired for the elder lady. I was conducted up the broad staircase to an elegant drawing-room, its four French windows opening upon a spacious verandah, which pleasantly shaded this luxuriously furnished apartment. A grand-piano and harp testified to the musical tastes of the family. But there was little time for observation, as Miss Langdale entered the room almost immediately. She was very gracious in her welcome; but that could not make up to me for the absence of her charming niece.

‘I am sorry,’ observed the placid lady, as if stating a very unimportant fact, ‘that my niece is not at home; it is the day for her riding-lesson, and unfortunately she has but just gone.’

I could scarcely conceal my bitter disappointment sufficiently to make a conventional reply: ‘I was of course fortunate to have found one of the ladies at home in so fine a day, &c.’

There was no difficulty in ‘getting on,’ as it is called, with Miss Langdale: the inevitable subject of the weather was disposed of at once; politics occupied almost as short a time; church matters were settled as briefly; in short every conceivable topic was touched upon before I had an opportunity of leading the conversation to the niece.

‘I have two nieces under my charge,’ said Miss Langdale—‘Lilian, whom you have seen; the younger still a child at school; also a nephew, who I assure you is more trouble than both the girls together; but I am happy to say my brother has now sent him abroad with a tutor, so we must hope he will return much improved.’ The voluble lady then proceeded to inform me that Mr Langdale had lost his wife when ‘Rosa’ was born, and that she, the aunt, had resided with the family ever since—a period of ten years. ‘So I have had the entire charge of the children, and now look upon them as my own,’ she added.

‘The niece I have had the pleasure of seeing,’ I observed, ‘does infinite credit to her training; I think her perfectly charming.’

‘I am very glad to hear you say so,’ said Miss Langdale; ‘it is certainly the general opinion, and I naturally like to think so myself; but it is possible I may be blinded by partiality. To me, Lilian appears guileless as a child with the sense of a woman, a combination which makes her manners very fascinating. But she is really almost too fearless; I never met with a girl with so much self-reliance.’

Longing to hear more, yet not feeling at liberty to ask questions, I merely murmured some commonplace truism about a ‘noble quality.’

‘So it is,’ replied the sedate aunt, ‘when not carried too far; that journey, for instance. I positively shudder when I think of a girl like Lily, brought up as she has been, undertaking it quite alone.’

‘With the exception of’——I stammered.

Taking advantage of my hesitation, the talkative lady interrupted, as if to help me to my meaning: ‘I beg your pardon, Mr Farquhar. She certainly was fortunate enough to meet with a companion who would, I feel sure, have protected her from any annoyance. But think how different it might have been; and she left home expecting to take care of herself.’

Much vexed at being misunderstood, I was hastening to explain, when the door was thrown open and visitors were announced. I had already exceeded the orthodox limits of a morning call, so I rose to take leave, disappointed, yet consoled by an invitation to call again. ‘When I hope,’ said my hostess, ‘that Lily will be at home.’

I need scarcely say that the invitation was accepted; and I made my next visit at an earlier hour than I had ventured upon at the first, which was necessarily more ceremonious. I was on this occasion shewn into a small, exceedingly pretty morning-room, with glass doors opening into a garden, fragrant with mignonette and gay with autumn flowers. I was standing at these open doors inhaling the perfumed air, when Miss Langdale joined me.

‘You are admiring our garden, I see,’ said that lady. ‘I assure you we are very proud of it; for though other people have recently found out that flowers will flourish at Brighton, my brother has always cultivated his. Being his own, he has spared no pains upon the property. We live here almost{316} as much as at Kensington; and he comes to us as often as business will permit.’

This information was interesting in its way; but my thoughts were with the fairest flower of them all. A slight rustle of silk behind us made me aware of her presence. I held the tiny gloved hand which was placed so frankly in mine a moment longer than was necessary, while I noticed that she was more elaborately dressed than I had before seen her, her hat being of white felt, with a long fleecy ostrich feather lying upon her burnished hair.

‘You are going out, I perceive, Miss Lilian,’ I observed, preparing regretfully to take leave; ‘pray do not let me detain you.’

‘You are not detaining us at all,’ she replied, ‘for you see my aunt has not even begun to dress; but as we generally take a drive in the afternoon, and not knowing you were here, I thought I might as well be ready for it.’

‘We shall be extremely pleased if you will accompany us,’ said Miss Langdale, addressing me; ‘that is, if it will not bore you.’

Bore me indeed! I was in ecstasies.

‘Then, if you will excuse me, I will dress at once.—In the meantime, Lily, you can shew Mr Farquhar the garden. I shall not be long.’

Dear, good lady; she might have been all day at her toilet as far as I was concerned; for was I not at last alone with my fairy! Walking up and down the broad gravel walk, we chatted for some time before I found an opportunity of mentioning a subject to which no allusion whatever had been made since the never-to-be-forgotten day of our journey to Brighton.

‘I ought to apologise,’ I began, ‘for not having before asked after our young fellow-traveller. I hope the baby’——

‘Oh, pray do not mention it,’ cried my companion, a vivid blush overspreading face and throat. ‘I have heard quite enough of that baby, I assure you, already.’

This was startling. But I was destined to be still more perplexed, for she added earnestly: ‘Promise me, Mr Farquhar, never to allude to that subject before my aunt, or Papa when he comes; he will be here on Saturday. So promise me, or I shall never hear the last of it.’

‘You may trust me, indeed you may. But surely you will not refuse to tell me.’

A velvet dress and feathered bonnet now appeared in view, and Miss Langdale approaching, told us that the carriage was at the door. We had a perfectly lovely drive, not dawdling up and down the Parade, but far away over the fresh breezy downs; and when it was over I returned to my rooms a bewitched and bewildered man.

The following Saturday I was introduced to Mr Langdale. He was very cordial, and immediately asked me to dinner. I found him a capital host; and I think we were mutually pleased with the acquaintance.

From that time I was a frequent visitor at the house, and the more I saw of Lily the more passionately I loved her. But for that one forbidden subject, I should have been supremely happy, for I could see that she liked my society; and when her lovely eyes met mine with the open truthful expression which was their characteristic, I could scarcely believe that she had a secret in the world. Sometimes I forgot it altogether; sometimes it haunted me even in the happiest moments of our intercourse, when, as I relapsed into reverie, she would innocently ask why I was ‘so absent.’

I hope I shall not therefore be thought guilty of impertinent curiosity when I confess that I became intensely anxious to solve this provoking mystery. It was not easy to do so; as though almost daily now in Lily’s society, I was never alone with her, and I was bound by my promise in the presence of others. The wished-for opportunity, however, occurred at last. It was Saturday, and Mr Langdale was as usual expected by an afternoon train. It was the custom for Miss Langdale and Lily to take the carriage to meet him at the station, and it was at the door when I happened to pass the house. The ladies came out at the same moment. I was about to assist them into the carriage, when Miss Langdale, who looked very ill, said: ‘I am afraid, my dear, I am not well enough to go with you; I would rather lie down. With this headache the glare is insupportable.’

‘I told you so, dear aunt,’ replied Lily. ‘We need not go; the carriage can be sent for Papa without us.’

But Miss Langdale would not hear of Lily giving up her drive and also disappointing Papa; so after many affectionate remonstrances, Miss Lily was obliged to depart. Just as the footman was closing the carriage-door, Miss Langdale said: ‘Will you go with her, Mr Farquhar? We know,’ she added smiling, ‘by experience that you can take care of her.’

Overjoyed, I sprang into the vacant seat beside Lily, who as we drove off exclaimed: ‘What a careful old darling aunt is! She seems to think I am never to be trusted alone; and is more particular than ever since—since,’ she added, slightly hesitating, ‘that unlucky journey.’

‘Will you trust me, Lily?’ I asked, for the first time addressing her by that familiar name. ‘Will you trust me, and grant me a favour?’

‘Certainly, I will, if possible,’ she replied. ‘What do you wish me to do?’

‘I wish you to tell me why that journey from London was unlucky, and—about—the baby.’

‘Do you really care to know?’ she asked, apparently quite amused.

‘I care for everything which concerns you, Lily,’ I replied very seriously.

‘Then I suppose I must tell you,’ said she with a sigh, the glowing colour mantling over her fair young face. ‘But I must say it is rather hard to have to proclaim one’s own folly, at the risk too of’——

‘Of what?’ I asked anxiously.

‘Well, I was going to say, of forfeiting your good opinion; but I daresay you think me frivolous as it is.’

‘I think, Miss Lilian,’ I replied, now greatly excited, ‘that you are amusing yourself at my expense.’

Startled by my sudden change of manner, she gazed at me in evident amazement, then said: ‘What can you mean, Mr Farquhar? I am only surprised that you should feel any curiosity on the subject; I thought men were never curious.’

‘Then I am an exception,’ I exclaimed. ‘How can I help being interested in all that concerns{317} you? So pray, fulfil your promise at once, as we ought to be at the station in a few minutes.’

‘Oh, there is not much to tell,’ she quietly observed. ‘But if I am to constitute you my father-confessor, I must tell you all, that you may understand the motives which actuated my conduct.’

‘Yes, yes,’ I muttered; ‘as you please; only, pray, pray go on.’

‘Then,’ said Lily composedly, ‘I must begin with the day you and I travelled together from London. Papa was to have accompanied me, my aunt and the servants having gone the day before; but unexpected business came in the way, and when he came in to luncheon, he told me that he could not possibly go to Brighton till the following week, and asked me if I could also remain in town. I told him it was impossible; the house was dismantled, my clothes sent away, and I was actually dressed for the journey. Papa saw how awkward it was for me; and when I represented to him that I should be little more than an hour alone in the train if I went, while I should be all day by myself in the great empty house if I remained at home, he somewhat reluctantly gave his consent to my going without him. He then desired my brother to take me to the station, and see me safe into a carriage, gave me a book to read, which he said would prevent any one talking to me, and wished me good-bye; and with many injunctions to “take great care of myself,” he left me with Harry, who grumbled very much at being detained on my account, as he was also going from home, and had promised to meet some friends who would be waiting for him. I had Papa’s permission, however, and was determined to go. Then Harry told me that I should not be allowed to have my dog with me, that it would be put into a dark place, where it would be sure to howl all the way. This was almost too much for me; and I was on the point of giving way to Harry’s persuasion, and wait for the escort of Papa, who would be sure to prevent that, as he is known to all the officials on the Brighton line, when a sudden thought struck me. I flew up-stairs to Rosa’s room, took her doll, which is as big as a baby, out of its box, and quickly taking off its long robes, I dressed poor little dear struggling Sprite in them.’

‘Lily, Lily!’ I exclaimed, almost too vexed with myself to laugh at this absurd solution of the mystery. ‘Why did you not tell me this before?’

‘I did not know you would care about such a trifle, for one thing,’ she replied; ‘and really aunt was so angry with me at the time that I did not wish to renew the subject in her presence; so you see this has been the first opportunity I have had for telling you; and now I suppose you will think me as childish as aunt did—worse than childish, she said.’

‘Shall I tell you what I think, Lily?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she said, laughing; ‘I should like to know the worst.’

‘I think then that you are much too charming to travel alone, and that I should like to take care of you always. Tell me, my darling, if I may hope to do so?’

‘Always?’ she asked wonderingly, as if scarcely understanding me.

‘Yes, Lily, as your devoted and adoring husband.’

At this moment the carriage drove into the station, and stopped at the usual place of meeting. We were not too soon, for the train had just arrived, and Lily’s quick eyes caught sight of her father coming towards us. ‘There’s Papa!’ she exclaimed, starting up in the carriage. I took her hand, and gently drawing her back to her seat, I implored her to answer me.

Her lovely face was flushed, the ready tears trembled on the long lashes which veiled her eyes; she hesitated for a moment, then in two words made me happy. ‘Ask Papa,’ she whispered.

I could only thank her by a silent pressure of her tiny hand, as ‘Papa’ at that moment joined us, and neither of us was sufficiently composed to explain the reason of my presence.

Lily and I quite understood each other; and I was able to satisfy Mr Langdale as to my position and prospects; but he would only consent to an engagement on condition that our marriage should not take place till his daughter was of age. I pleaded that it would be quite impossible for me to bear the delay of so many years.

‘How old,’ he inquired, ‘do you imagine the child to be?’

‘Certainly not more than seventeen.’

‘Then let me tell you for your comfort that Lily has reached the mature age of nineteen and a half,’ replied her father.

I was equally surprised and pleased, for it made the disparity between us so much less than I thought, as well as the proposed time of probation.

It was a favourite joke of Mr Langdale’s that it was my darling’s childish trick with the little dog, and not her appearance, which had given me an erroneous opinion of her age. Miss Langdale always pretended to agree with her brother. That good lady highly approved of our engagement, declaring that she had taken a fancy to me from the first. This was not exactly true, but no doubt she thought it was when she said it.

One evening when we were talking over the memorable journey, it occurred to me to ask Lily why she had travelled second-class on that occasion, her ticket being for the first.

‘Hush!’ she whispered, placing her little hand upon my lips. ‘Aunt does not yet know of that flagrant impropriety; but I assure you I had a good reason.’

She told me afterwards that her brother was so charmed with ‘the lark,’ as he called it, that he quite forgot his ill-humour, and tried to assist her to carry out her plan in every possible way; he had taken her ticket and selected a carriage, when it occurred to him that she would look more like a nursemaid in the second-class; to which she agreed. Lily a nursemaid! Did my darling expect to travel only with the blind?

On the twenty-first anniversary of her birthday, our marriage took place at Brighton, where the first happy days of our courtship were passed. Rosa, a pretty little girl quite as tall as her sister, was the chief bride’s-maid, looking scarcely younger than the bride, who is now the beloved mistress of a large establishment. My mother, who resides with us, never interferes with my clever little wife, whom she loves as a daughter;{318} and as for me, I believe—well, I am sure that I am the most obedient as well as the most devoted of her servants.

Foremost in the ranks of despots of our own creating may be mentioned that allegorical personage Mrs Grundy, who though an unseen power, seems to be armed with all the force and subtlety of a dreaded tyrant. Her kindred partake of the same nature. Some are recognised facts, and known by special names; others are nameless, and perhaps not even supposed to exist; but all are powerful, and all are to be dreaded.

Ancient as Mrs Grundy—generally living side by side with her amongst civilised races—is that great uncompromising tyrant called the Proper Thing; though among barbarous tribes, neither Mrs Grundy nor the Proper Thing is to be found, because both spring from the corruption of a refined instinct—the instinct of order and decorum. Races semi-civilised and over-civilised—terms which mean nearly the same thing—are most subject to the capricious influences of this tyrant. But wherever the slightest improvement has been made on complete savagery, there the gall-nut has appeared upon it, so that a few wild Bush-tribes seem to be the only portions of the human family over whom the Proper Thing has not more or less extended sceptre.

The forms assumed by the Proper Thing in various regions are of infinite variety, and sometimes even more startling than ludicrous. In certain of the South Sea Islands, for instance, it is the Proper Thing for children to kill their parents when verging on old age; and the parents are quite agreeable to the practice, which derives its power from religious belief, as the tyrant’s dictates often do in heathen countries. In China the Proper Thing has been a terrible autocrat. There, women’s feet have been reduced to the shape and size of a nutmeg, and mandarins’ nails lengthened to a proportionate enormity—all out of deference to the Proper Thing, which to them means being idle and known to be idle. There, awe of the imperial presence has made it indispensable to ‘nine times knock the noddle;’ and we know how a representative of our own country was justly applauded in England for refusing to perform that ceremony, or conform to the exigences of the Proper Thing as by law established in China. It stalks across the lone expanses of the North American prairies, inspiring men to let their hair grow to the ground and make pompous speeches; while it lays heavy weights on women’s shoulders and crops their locks, and in some places flattens children’s heads in their cradles. East and west, in the past and in the present, its legislation is always seen taking the most contradictory forms, but almost equally inconvenient in all. Thus in ancient Mexico it decreed that the nobility should go to court in their shabbiest dresses, because no one might dare to be smart in the presence of the Emperor; and in modern Europe it decrees that ladies shall impoverish themselves rather than not go to court in a blaze of splendour. In this instance, however, there is no question as to which decree is the most convenient.

The capriciousness of this power is its most objectionable characteristic, since its rule would be highly beneficent if it only attacked bad manners and customs, which on the contrary it very often overlooks. In Germany, for example, people with the longest prefaces to their names, the addresses on whose envelopes are a perfect volume of titles, are allowed to pass their knives and forks with alarming celerity in front of their neighbours at dinner, in order to plunge them into some distant coveted dish. No doubt their appetites are more enormous than ours, for in the matter of capacity for food, beyond the widest width there always seems to be a wider still; but the exigences of the Proper Thing ought at least to make them wait until the dishes are handed to them in civilised form, or even do without the object of their desire rather than risk cutting off their neighbours’ noses. But it really seems that the more stringent the rule of the Proper Thing, the more latitude is given to disagreeable manners. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example, it was much more of an autocrat even than it is now; and yet with all the flattery, the bowing and scraping and long titles, no one put any constraint on his temper, and the best bred people thought nothing of throwing things at each other’s heads when they were in a passion. Occurrences of this sort are rare now, at least in high-class and diplomatic society.

But still the rule of the Proper Thing is rather severe on all classes even here at home, nor do any of our liberties and charters interfere with its prerogatives. We may question them nevertheless. Of course we do not mean to question regulations made for the comfort and decency and order of society, such as the hostess sitting at the head of the table, the eating of fish with a silver knife, or even a duchess taking precedence of a marchioness. All these regulations and others of the same kind relate to good manners, which are often quite independent of the Proper Thing; and without a little code of niceties we should soon sink to the lowest depths of animalism. But why should it be improper for a lady to ride alone, whereas a similar fiat has not gone forth against her walking alone in country roads and lanes, though she must be much safer from molestation on horseback than on foot? Why must invited guests to an evening party always be after their time? Why is it necessary to dine at late unwholesome hours, to dance all night, and to go to several parties in one evening? But these are really only the more harmless pranks of the chief ruler. Unfortunately, there are others which interfere tyrannically with the serious business of life.

The Proper Thing has always taken up its stronghold very specially in the institution of Caste, where for unnumbered centuries it has reigned over India with a despotism harsher than that of the native princes. Nor has it by any means confined its caste regulations to Eastern lands. Far be it from us to make hostile reflections on the venerable institution of distinction of classes in our own country; on the contrary, we might rather lament the confusion into which this institution has fallen among us. But none the less we may question the extraordinary laws which govern what is still called ‘loss of caste.’ Why should a lady{319} lose hers because she earns her bread as a governess, while a gentleman does not lose his through being a tutor? Of course she can recover her caste if only she has a fortune left her; it is not like Indian caste, once lost for ever lost; but in the majority of cases this does not happen. And why, when wholesome caste laws are thrown to the winds, should an absurd and unjust one like this hold its ground? But after all, it is perhaps natural to the spirit and genius of the Proper Thing, which has always been harsher with women than with men, according to the principles on which human affairs have generally been conducted. However, tyranny of this sort is by no means confined to the upper and middle classes even as regards caste. In this matter the lower ranks, and especially their female half, are very much its slaves. In these, though the women do not therefore hold themselves bound to speak in a low voice, or to cultivate the good quality which is next to godliness, or to refrain from repairing at all costs to crowded and not always very sober scenes of holiday-making, they are fully alive to the necessity of flaunting every new fashion in the public eye on Sunday through a medium of tawdry tint and flimsy material; children wearing a tablier or panier of totally different material and antagonistic colour to the frock which it was intended to adorn; women with hideous complications of blue feathers and red roses on their heads. Lately, indeed, since ladies have set the good example of wearing the dark colours which become nearly every one, it has been much followed by their imitators below-stairs, though we fear more for the sake of the example than the goodness of it.

Another and still stranger phase is to be found in some of our small sea-side ports and fishing-villages, where it is considered a disgrace to girls to go into service, though it is not derogatory to their dignity to assume male attire and pick cockles all day on a mud-bank. The men are held to have formed a mésalliance if they marry gentlemen’s servants; a falling-off which, if their wives die, they may retrieve by a second marriage with a lady who (emphatically) ‘has never been in service.’ But no doubt it is natural enough that the people should copy their superiors’ worship of the Proper Thing in this as in the other fashions, though they have different notions of what the Proper Thing really is.

We hope to have established the fact that this tyrant has nothing to do with virtue. Its rule has often flourished most where virtue has been at the lowest ebb. How brilliantly, for example, the Proper Thing reigned in the court of Louis XIV., which was certainly not a school of morality. Neither has it much to do with what may be justly called les convenances; we mean those smaller constraints and proprieties which young American ladies set aside without any deterioration of their real goodness, but with a certain detriment to their manners and maidenly charms. Originally, no doubt, the Proper Thing sprang from a sense of true propriety, but it has degenerated so far as sometimes even to contradict that sense; and virtue can stand all the better without such a whimsical attempt at a buttress. Of course it will always set itself up more or less as a buttress, and as necessary to virtue and propriety, unless the real things should make such progress as to crowd out the counterfeit. But we fear that there never will be a civilisation so pure and simple that delicacy and honour will, of their own goodness, take the place of the true Proper Thing.

We had been putting to rights an old surgery that it might be turned into a dwelling-house. A complete set of drawers, with names of drugs and medical condiments printed thereon, had been torn from the wall; vast heaps of bones, used formerly for scientific purposes, had been taken from a large mouldy cupboard, and had thereafter received Christian burial in a corner of our garden. All had been done that was possible to sweeten and purify the ancient place, when we discovered on a certain shelf several dusty and stained volumes, which looked to our eyes interesting and curious. One of the volumes, entitled Health and Longevity, was secured at once by my young children, and some extraordinary woodcuts of venerable individuals, more or less hideous, were cut therefrom, the volume itself being then thrown aside: Some notes regarding these ancient beings may not be uninteresting.

The first, whose portrait lies before me as I write, is named ‘Isobel Walker, who lived in the parish of Daviot, Aberdeenshire, and died 2d November 1774, aged one hundred and twelve years.’ The period of her birth was established beyond doubt by the records of the parish of Rayne, in Garioch, where she was born. Nothing remarkable is known regarding her mode of life, excepting that she is said to have had ‘a placid temper, and to have been in that medium state in regard to leanness and corpulence which is favourable to long life.’ She is represented on the plate as a plump-faced, cheerful woman, with no perceptible neck, and with an intelligent expression of countenance.

The next individual whose somewhat stolid countenance lies before me in one of the quaint wood-engravings, is called ‘Peter Garden, who lived also in Aberdeenshire, in the parish of Auchterless, and who died on the 12th January 1775, aged one hundred and thirty-one years.’ He was above the average height, led a temperate and frugal life; was employed in agricultural pursuits to the last, and preserved his looks so well that he appeared to be a fresher and younger man than his son, who was far advanced in life.’ There have, the record goes on to say, ‘been several older people in Scotland than either Isobel Walker or Peter Garden, but unfortunately no picture or engraving of them can now be found.’ Among these was John Taylor, a miner at the Leadhills, who worked at that employment till he was one hundred and twelve! He did not marry till he was sixty, after which there were nine children born to him. ‘He saw to the last without spectacles, had excellent teeth, and enjoyed his existence till 1770, when he yielded to fate, at the age of one hundred and thirty-two.’

The fourth venerable and antique person mentioned is ‘Catharine, Countess of Desmond, who died at the age of one hundred and forty years, in the reign of King James I. She was a daughter{320} of the Fitzgeralds of Dromana in the county of Waterford, and in the reign of Edward IV., married James, fourteenth Earl of Desmond.’ She was in England in that reign, and danced at court with Richard, Duke of Gloucester. It appears that she retained her full vigour to an advanced period of life; and the ruin of the House of Desmond obliged her to take a journey from Bristol to London, to solicit relief from the court, when she was nearly one hundred and forty. She twice or thrice renewed her teeth, and is represented with a heavy and voluminous head-dress, and a most stern and masculine cast of features.

So much for Scotland and Ireland. Our fifth wood-cut, much defaced and time-worn, is a portraiture of ‘Thomas Parr, son of John Parr of Winnington, in the parish of Alderbury in Shropshire, who was born in 1483, in the reign of Edward IV., and resided in the Strand, London, in 1635; consequently was one hundred and fifty-two years and some odd months. He lived in the reigns of ten kings and queens, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.’ When he was about one hundred and fifty-two years of age, he was brought up to London by Thomas, Earl of Arundel, and carried to court. The king said to him: ‘You have lived longer than other men. What have you done more than other men?’ He replied: ‘I did penance when I was a hundred years old.’ His great rules for longevity are well known: ‘Keep your head cool by temperance; your feet warm by exercise; rise early; go soon to bed; and if you are inclined to get fat, keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.’ Or in other words: ‘Be moderate both in your sleep and diet.’

Henry Jenkins is the next person on our list. His birthplace is unknown; ‘but there is satisfactory evidence of his great longevity.’ At the age of between ten and twelve he was sent to Northallerton with a horse-load of arrows, ‘previous to the battle of Flowden, which was fought on the 9th of September 1513; and as he died on the 8th December 1670, he must have then been one hundred and sixty-nine years of age.’ He had been often sworn in Chancery and in other courts to above one hundred and forty years’ memory; and there is a record preserved in the King’s Remembrancer’s office in the Exchequer, by which it appears ‘that Henry Jenkins of Ellerton-upon-Swale, labourer, aged one hundred and fifty-seven, was produced and deposed as a witness.’ Little is known of his mode of living except that towards the close of his life he ‘swam rivers.’ His diet is said to have been ‘coarse and sour.’ He is represented with a long white beard, a shovel-hat, and a pensive expression of face—not unpleasing.

Our next plate represents two very disagreeable-looking Hungarian specimens of humanity, named ‘Sarah Roffin or Rovin, and John Rovin, man and wife.’ They are depicted as enjoying the sweets of domestic life. John Rovin is entering the hovel in which they live, with a long staff in his hand, a bundle of some kind on his back. Sarah is aged one hundred and sixty-four; her husband is one hundred and seventy-two! In these circumstances, the expression of utter disgust and weariness to be seen on both faces is scarcely to be wondered at. They had at the time their likenesses were taken ‘lived together one hundred and forty-seven years, and were both born at Stadova in the directory Casanseber in Temeswaer Banat; their children, two sons and two daughters, being then alive. The youngest son is one hundred and sixteen years of age, and he has two great-grandsons, the one in the twenty-seventh, the other in the thirty-fifth year of his age.’ A description of the picture from which this engraving is taken has been given in the following terms: ‘The dress of John Rovin consists of a white frock reaching almost to the knees, and confined round the waist by a girdle made of rushes, in which is hung a knife. He is standing supported by a stick; his knees are rather bent; in his left hand are some heads of Indian corn, which he is presenting to his wife. His hair and beard are a light gray; his eyes are quick, clear, and penetrating; and though his whole aspect proclaims his life to have been a long one, there are no such traces of old age in him as appear in his wife. She stoops very much, is wrinkled, old, and yellow, and in her whole aspect is displayed extreme old age in its most revolting form. Near her feet and on the ground is seated a large handsome tortoise-shell cat, which also appears very old.’

The last of this extraordinary batch of aged people is called Petratsch Zortan or Czartan, aged one hundred and eighty-five; and like the preceding pair, is Hungarian. In a Dutch dictionary entitled Het algemeen Historich Woonderbok, there is an account given of this ancient personage, of which the following is a translation: ‘Czartan was born in 1537 at Kosfrock, a village four miles from Temeswaer, in Hungary, where he had lived one hundred and eighty years. When the Turks took Temeswaer from the Christians, he kept his father’s cattle. A few days before his death he walked with the help of his stick to the post-house of Kosfrock, to ask alms of the travellers. He had but little eyesight; his hair and beard were of a greenish-white colour; he had few teeth remaining. His son was ninety-seven years of age—by his third wife. Being a Greek, the old man was a strict observer of fasts, and never used any food but milk and cakes, called by the Hungarians “Kollatschen,” together with a good glass of brandy. He had descendants in the fifth generation, with whom he sometimes played, carrying them in his arms. He died in 1724. Count Wallis had a portrait taken of this old man, when he fell in with him previous to his death. The Dutch envoy then at Vienna transmitted this account to the States-general.’

At night, when all is hushed in still repose,
When ‘Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,’
Doth o’er our wearied frame soft vigil keep,
And with her gentle hand our eyelids close,
Then doth the restless spirit take its flight,
While soft Imagination lends her wings,
And the chained watchdog Will no longer springs
To bar its progress through the realms of Night.
Reason, the watchful porter at the gate,
Tired with the constant labours of the day,
Retires to rest, and leaves it free to stray
Into the land where Fancy keeps her state,
And her attendant fays glad homage shew
To mortal visitants from earth below.
Catharine Davidson.
Printed and Published by W. & R. Chambers, 47 Paternoster Row, London, and 339 High Street, Edinburgh.