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entirely from all the opportunities and advantages which they might thus derive; that to exclude the laborer from recreation on the Sabbath, was the same as saying that he should never have any recreation. I asked, why the philanthropists could not urge employers to give their workmen a part of Saturday for this purpose ; as it seemed to me unchristian to drive trade so that the laboring man had no time but Sunday for intellectual and social recreation. We rather came to the conclusion that this was the right course; whether the people of England will, is quite another matter.
The grounds of the Dingle embrace three cottages; those of the two Messrs. Cropper, and that of a son, who is married to a daughter of Dr. Arnold. I rather think this way of relatives living together is more common here in England than it is in America ; and there is more idea of home permanence connected with the family dwelling-place than with us, where the country is so wide, and causes of change and removal so frequent. A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; while we
1 shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell. We live a while in Boston, and then a while in New York, and then, perhaps, turn up at Cincinnati. Scarcely any body with us is living where they expect to live and die. The man that dies in the house he was born in is a wonder. There is something pleasant in the permanence and repose of the English family estate, which we, in America, know very little of. All which is apropos to our having finished our walk, and got back to the ivy-covered porch again.
The next day at breakfast, it was arranged that we should take a drive out to Speke Hall, an old mansion, which is considered a fine specimen of ancient house architecture. So the carriage was at the door. It was a cool, breezy, April morning, but there was an abundance of wrappers and carriage blankets provided to keep us comfortable. I must say, by the by, that English housekeepers are bountiful in their provision for carriage comfort. Every household has a store of warm, loose over garments, which are offered, if needed, to the guests; and each carriage is provided with one or two blankets, manufactured and sold expressly for this use, to envelope one's feet and limbs ; besides all which, should the weather be cold, comes out a long stone reservoir, made flat on both sides, and filled with hot water, for foot stools. This is an improvement on the primitive simplicity of hot bricks, and even on the tin foot stove, which has flourished in New England.
Being thus provided with all things necessary for comfort, we rattled merrily away, and I, remembering that I was in England, kept my eyes wide open to see what I could see. The hedges of the fields were just budding, and the green showed itself on them, like a thin gauze veil. These hedges are not all so well kept and trimmed as I expected to find them. Some, it is true, are cut very carefully; these are generally hedges to ornamental grounds; but many of those which separate the fields straggle and sprawl, and have some high bushes and some low ones, and, in short, are no more like a hedge than many rows of bushes that we have at home. But such as they are, they are the only dividing lines of the fields, and it is certainly a more picturesque mode of division than our stone or worm fences. Outside of every hedge, towards the street, there is generally a ditch, and at the bottom of the hedge is the favorite nestling-place for all sorts of wild flow
I remember reading in stories about children trying to
crawl through a gap in the hedge to get at flowers, and tumbling into a ditch on the other side, and I now saw exactly how they could do it.
As we drive we pass by many beautiful establishments, about of the quality of our handsomest country houses, but whose grounds are kept with a precision and exactness rarely to be seen among us.
We cannot get the gardeners who are qualified to do it; and if we could, the painstaking, slow way of proceeding, and the habit of creeping thoroughness, which are necessary to accomplish such results, die out in America. Nevertheless, such grounds are exceedingly beautiful to look upon, and I was much obliged to the owners of these places for keeping their gates hospitably open, as seems to be the custom here.
After a drive of seven or eight miles, we alighted in front of Speke Hall. This house is a specimen of the old fortified houses of England, and was once fitted up with a moat and drawbridge, all in approved feudal style. It was built somewhere about the year 1500. The sometime moat was now full of smooth, green grass, and the drawbridge no longer remains.
This was the first really old thing that we had seen since our arrival in England. We came up first to a low, arched, stone door, and knocked with a great old-fashioned knocker; this brought no answer but a treble and bass duet from a couple of dogs inside ; so we opened the door, and saw a square court, paved with round stones, and a dark, solitary yew tree in the centre. Here in England, I think, they have vegetable creations made on purpose to go with old, dusky buildings; and this yew tree is one of them. It has altogether a most goblin-like, bewitched air, with its dusky black leaves and ragged branches, throwing themselves straight out with odd twists and angular lines, and might put one in mind of an old raven with some of his feathers pulled out, or a black cat with her hair stroked the wrong way, or any other strange, uncanny thing. Besides this they live almost forever; for when they have grown so old that any respectable tree ought to be thinking of dying, they only take another twist, and so live on another hundred years. I saw some in England seven hundred years old, and they had grown queerer every century. It is a species of evergreen, and its leaf resembles
our hemlock, only it is longer. This sprig gives you some idea of its general form. It is always planted about clturches and graveyards ; a kind of dismal emblem of immortality. This sepulchral old tree and the bass and treble dogs were the only occupants of
the court. One of these, a great surly mastiff, barked out of his kennel on one side, and the other, a little wiry terrier, out of his on the opposite side, and both strained on their chains, as if they would enjoy making even more decided demonstrations if they could.
There was an aged, mossy fountain for holy water by the side of the wall, in which some weeds were growing. A door in the house was soon opened by a decent-looking serving woman, to whom we communicated our desire to see the hall.
We were shown into a large dining hall with a stone floor, wainscoted with carved oak, almost as black as ebony. There were some pious sentences and moral reflections inscribed in old English text, carved over the doors, and like a cornice round the ceiling, which was also of carved oak. Their general drift was, to say that life is short, and to call for watchfulness and prayer. The fireplace of the hall yawned like a great cavern, and nothing else, one would think, than a cart load of western sycamores could have supplied an appropriate fire. A great two-handed sword of some ancestor hung over the fireplace. On taking it down it reached to C's shoulder, who, you know, is six feet high.
We went into a sort of sitting room, and looked out through a window, latticed with little diamond panes, upon a garden wildly beautiful. The lattice was all wreathed round with jessamines. The furniture of this room was modern, and it seemed the more unique from its contrast with the old architecture.
We went up stairs to see the chambers, and passed through a long, narrow, black oak corridor, whose slippery boards had the authentic ghostly squeak to them. There was a chamber, hung with old, faded tapestry of Scripture subjects. In this chamber there was behind the tapestry a door, which, being opened, displayed a staircase, that led delightfully off to nobody knows where. The furniture was black oak, carved, in the most elaborate manner, with cherubs' heads and other good and solemn subjects, calculated to produce a ghostly state of mind. And, to crown all, we heard that there was a haunted chamber, which was not to be opened, where a white lady appeared and walked at all approved hours.
Now, only think what a foundation for a story is here. If our Hawthorne could conjure up such a thing as the Seven Gables in one of our prosaic country towns, what would he have done if he had lived here ? Now he is obliged to get his ghostly images by looking through smoked glass at our