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quit of the city and suburbs, and passed quietly onward towards our destination. We had resolved on sojourning for the night at Dorking, a place of little note, except for a peculiar breed of fowls, supposed to have been introduced there by the Romans,' because similar ones are mentioned by Columella in his "HusD air dry."
We alighted at the Red Lion, and realized the pilgrim-poet's description of the «Tabard"—
the chambrcs weren wide, And well we wcren escd atte beste. Under the influence of a comfortable fire and a hearty meal, we grew presently mighty merry, and set off for a walk by star-light through the town. The church bells were chiming " Hanover" as we returned, and their music softened and subdued by distance brought forcibly to mind those beautifully descriptive lines of Cowper's—
How soft the music of those village bells,
The evening was passed chiefly in planning our proceedings for the next day, and talking over such matters of interest as arose out of our journey, or were connected with the various objects which we had noticed during our ride, the result of which was the catalogue here inserted:
Item. A Pegasus or flying horse, " upstanding, uncovered," with dragon-like wings, and a nose boring the moon, in the paddock of a suburban villa not far distant from Mordeu—" I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the ground, but that's not to the point," as Shakspeare says.
Item. The parish church of Morden, which hath no antiquity and little beauty to recommend it.
Item. The church of St. Dunstan, at Cheam, wherein lie the remains of Jane, Lady Lumley, a " booke-maker," in those simple days when there were no lawyers.
Item. The very romantic town of Ewell, with its pretty church and churchyard.
Item. The downs at Epsom, with the windows of the grand stand, red-hot in the setting sun. Also, the town itself,
• The Stane-atreet, or Roman-road, from Arundel to Dorking, is said to have passed through the church-yard of this place.
and a "very irregular" church, in the ceme tery whereof ye may note this strange epitaph :—
Here licth the carcase
Of honest Charles I'arkhurst,
Who ne're could dance or sing,
But always was true to
His Sovereign Lord the King,
Charles the First.
Ob. Dec. XX. MDCCIV.
Item. The church of Lered, otherwise Leihcrhead, built in old time by an Abbot of Chertsey, with a pretty cross of wood above it.
Item. The massy tower of Mickleham, with a wondrous small cone upon it, like unto an Elephant in his night-cap! very neat and sightly withal, and garnished with good store of ivy.
Item. A sign-board daintily painted with a jockey azure, and or, on a courser proper, swinging in front of a certain house, known as the " Horse and Groom," where Guthrie compiled some of his works.
Item. Burford bridge, a pretty structure with three arches, nigh unto which is a charming house of entertainment called "the Hare and Hounds," and above it the wooded heights of Box-hill, which rose as we rose through the dim twilight, after such solemn fashion that there was something of mystery and fear in the feelings with which we looked upon them. But other than these things saw we little, except only the mean church tower of Dorking, as we entered its long but still street. And so ends the catalogue.
We retired to rest, and the "heavy lioiey-dew of slumber" soon fell on us. I awoke betimes and found the morning cold and cloudy, with occasional gusts of wind. A rookery fronted my window, and for some time I watched its tenants alternately rising above the tree tops and dropping again suddenly, or wheeling oft" towards a green hill at no great distance, not indeed " without caws," but certainly with no very apparent motive. Beside the pleasant colloquies of this assembly, my ears were greeted with the clatter of a wheelbarrow jumping over the paved court beneath, and the shrill music of a solitary cock—
with noisy din,
Scatt'ring the rear of darkness thin. But notwithstanding these morning melodies I arose, from very restlessness, an hour before my usual time, and paid a visit to the church, a neat building, though the roof being of slate-stone gives it rather a slovenly appearance. It is screened on the north by gentle slopes, prettily diversified and exhibiting many spots of singular beauty. Against the wall, on this side, I noticed an erection, green with lichens, and scanty tufts of grass, shattered, and fast verging to decay, which I have since learned is a mausoleum of the Talbot family, of Chert Park, near Dorking. The ivy, clustering round one of the massy buttresses supporting the lower, chattered and shivered to the chiding wind as it swept past it, toying with my paper whilst I stood to make the drawing here copied, and I felt the solemnizing influence of the scene which I was endeavouring to transfer to my sketch-book. But the blank air of desolation and solitude investing these mouldering objects—the dark scowling sky, and the sobbing of the elements around me, admitted of no such embodying, though they filled the mind with deep and mysterious musings of "ruin, boundlessness, omnipotence." The iron railings surrounding this burial place, disjointed, and profusely covered with rust—the fractured pediment—and the bald escutcheon, exhibiting but few and faint traces of that gilding which had once covered the greater part of it, and entirely divested of its other tinctures, preached forcibly the passing nature of all earthly things, and led the thoughts onward to that changeless state, in which neither moth nor rust corrupted, and where '• each hath all, yet none do lack."
After breakfast we lost no time in visiting Box-hill, which had been the main object of our journey; and, quitting the town, proceeded by Ueepdene, until a road on our left promised us an opportunity of arriving speedily at our destination. But our expectations were not so soon realized, for after crossing a field or two to our right we found the "romantic mole" interposed between us and the hill, though we lost nothing by our ramble, as it afforded us a fine view of the rising grounds about us, with occasional patches of sunshine resting on them, and transforming the young foliage, as it breathed over r, to a pale primrose hue, which was strikingly contrasted with the warm, intense, ruddy light, tinging the natural velvet of a thatched cottage near at hand, till it flamed out against the dull, cold back-ground, "a glorious thing, and a beautiful."
Owing to this mistake of ours we were
obliged to retrace our steps beside the river, amusing ourselves with culling simples, and thinking, as we gazed on the sunlit shallows which presented a variety of tints, of these sweet and pleasant verses of the Farmer's boy— Sweet health I seek thee! hither bring The balm that softens human ills, Come on the long-drawn clouds that fling Their shadows o'er the Surry hills; Yon green-topt hills, and far away: Where late, as now I freedom stole, And spent one dear delicious day, On thy wild banks romantic Mole !* Aye there's the scene, beyond the sweep Of London's congregated cloud, The dark brow'd wood, the headlong steep And valley paths, without a crowd! Hcre,t Thame*, J watch thy Cowing tides— Thy thousand nails am glad to see; But, where the Mole all silent glides, Dwells peace, and peace is wealth to me.
We passed the stream by a bridge over the dam of Mr. Dewdney's mill, and after crossing a few fields began to ascend the hill, occasionally halting to look back on the charming scenery below us, till we reached the wood on its summit and threw ourselves down upon the fresh fragrant box, or the mossy sod, covered with violets, to expatiate at our ease on the vast extent of country before us, bounded by the loftier ridge of Leith-hill, the tower on which forms a conspicuous object.
We made our way for some little distance through the wood, till a green walk offered us easier progress, and, after wandering amidst the yew-groves which abound on this delightful spot, came round to that part of the hill immediately above Burford bridge, and looked down on the tranquil Mole, " which, coming to Whitehill, upon which the box-tree grows in great abundance, hides itself, or is rather swallowed up at the foot of it, and for that reason the place is called 'Swallow.'" So, at least, says Camden, though we were not fortunate enough to stumble upon this same "Swallow." There seems to be little doubt that Box-hill and Whitehill are identical, and this mention of it proves the trees upon it to be of earlier origin than those suppose who assign the reign of Charles the Second as the period of their introduction here.
After a long and noisy debate, relative to our farther proceedings, we returned round the same side of the hill, though somewhat higher, until we reached a bleak'
• Boxhill, t Shoolcr's-hiU.
and barren tract, laid down in our maps as Ileadley-heath, along which we journeyed northward with little besides ou. own good company to amuse us, though after some time we caught a few glimpses of exquisite scenery to our right; and presently a bold range of hills opened before us, beautifully chequered with shade and sunshine.
We reached Walton-heath without any material occurrence, and passed an encampment of gypsies in a sheltered nook, consoling themselves over a crackling fire, the red flame of which flickered in the sun light, and gave to their dark and savage countenances a still fiercer cast. From the covert of a tattered blanket, not far distant, we saw in rapid succession four or five " wee things todlin, stacher onwards, to their reckless parents, half clad, and without any "flccherin noise an' gb» ;" and beside the group a couple of donkeys, apparently possessed of kindlier feelings than their masters, resting their chins on each other's shoulders.
The picturesque little church of Walton on the hill soon appeared on our left, and we crossed the heath and several pleasant fields towards it, and at length entered the church yard. We had understood that some Roman bricks were built into this edifice, but on examination it appeared to have been so extensively repaired as to present almost the appearance of a new erection. The tower is singularly neat, and were it not finished rather abruptly might be classed amongst the most pleasing structures of the kind. I chose a sunny corner of the church-yard, where a group of fowls were beating their wings in the dust, and apparently welcoming the birth of « proud pied April," to make a sketch of it, and the clever weathercock sur
north side, noticed a low arched recess which might formerly have screened some sepulchral effigy. From a wooden memorial I copied the following lines, which have much the character of those letters usually appended to" last dyingspeeches": "Dear Husband,
Since my life is past, love did remain while life did last; but now no sorrow for me makei pray love my children for my sake."
From this place we "took to the road again," and proceeded quietly enough towards a majestic tree, one of those "glossy-rinded beeches" which Dyer might have had in his eye when alluding to the adjacent downs of Banstead. On the opposite side of the common stands a quiet hostelrie, known as the Red Lion; and somewhat w earied with our pilgrimage we shaped our course towards it, and were soon seated in one of its snug apartments, on the walls of which we noticed several paintings. That of which our hostess seemed most proud was a wishy-washy compound of red-lead, indian-ink, and cabbage-green, labelled in large letters "The Red Lion." "The long tailed Parakeet," and its companion a golden pheasant, daintily embossed on a fair half sheet of foolscap,—in frames, properly hung, as they deserved to be, for they were "black with gilt,"—and view of CanonhuryTower, were also conspicuous amongst the embellishments of this little room. But the choicest bit of art was a portrait in oil, of superior execution, exhibiting such a child-like roguishness of expression, and so pretty an air of nonchalance, that I felt much interested in it, and questioned the proprietor concerning its history, but could only learn that it had been in the house ** twenty years."
We resumed our walk, and came presently in sight of Banstead church, with a dicular, which "G." naturally enough accounted for by supposing that the poorness of the soil might make it lean, much in the same manner as it affects the mutton hereabout, which being fed on "short commons,"* though very delicate, is remarkable for its smallness. Now lest any should think this fact a mere " figure or phantasy," coined for the use of certain punsters of our company, I adduce the testimony of Dyer, from whose " Fleece" these lines are quoted :—
Wide airy downs
Are health's gay walks to shepherd and to sheep,
All arid soils, with sand or chalky flint.
Or shells dilavian mingled ; and the turf
That mantles over rocks of brittle stone.
Be thy regard; and where low tufted broom,
Or box, or berry'd juniper arise;
Or the tall growth of glossy-rinded beech,
And where the burrowing rabbit turns the dust,
And where the dappled deer delights to bound;
Such are the downs of Banstead, edged with
woods, And towcry villas.
From these "downs" the view northward is very extensive and beautiful, the pretty church and village of Cheam forming a conspicuous object to the left, over which the prospect stretches as far as Highgate and Hampstead ; and the heights of Norwood being distinctly visible on the right. We halted for some minutes, looking with pained gaze at the "lyric lark" hanging high above us in the sunny air, and pouring forth such a flood of minstrelsy, that I caught myself unconsciously repeating that childish ditty of Wordsworth—
Up with me! up with me ! into the clouds;
We soon reached Sutton, where we purposed dining, and, having given orders accordingly, adjourned to the church, on the north wall of which we expected to find an inscription soliciting our prayers for the good estate of William Foul, and ! Alice, his mother, which formerly appeared there. But in this we were disappointed, for a new erection has been raised on that side the building ornamented with the arms here represented.
• Borrowed—J. L
but exhibiting nothing of this "olde, olde, very olde," relic of those darker days, when the heedless dead were by common consent—
— doomed to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in their days of nature
Were bum' a»I p irgcd away.
The doll funding open we ventured into the church, and found it " upholden in wondrous good repair," and not barren of "remarkable," amongst which the gorgeous marble monument of dame Dorothy Brownlow, beside the altar, claimed our first attention. She is represented in a recumbent posture, with three sorrowing infants about her, and four cherubs above, in a dish of hasty pudding garnished with slices of gilt gingerbread. From a more humble memorial opposite, I copied these verses—
This monument presents unto your viewe
We explored the church-yard, and laughed heartily, when perhaps we ought to have been more seriously inclined, at this flaming epitaph on a butcher of the 19th century —
A steady friend to truth, a heart sincere,
On our return to the inn we found that the name of our host corresponded with that of the worthy individual whose death had been thus honorably recorded. And certainly we found his ale as " clear" as his namesake's conscience, and his chops as "tender" as his kinsfolk's tears. We quitted our hospitable quarters about five o'clock, and before we reached Strealham experienced a heavy fall of rain, which promised little intermission, so that we gladly availed ourselves of the first con.