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The mother of the American Athens

Updated Friday, 27th May 2016

An excusrion to Lincolnshire, to see the original Boston.

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It was fit that on our way to Boston we should pause in passing through Cambridge. That was quite as we should have done at home, and I can only wish now that we had paused longer, though every moment that kept us from Boston, if it had been anywhere but in England, would have been a loss. There, it was all gain, and all joy, the gay September 24th that we went this divine journey. My companion was that companionable archaeologist who had guided my steps in search of the American origins in London, and who was now to help me follow the Pilgrim Fathers over the ground where they sojourned when they were only the Pilgrim Sons. At divers places on the way, after we left London, he pointed out some scene associated with American saints or heroes. We traversed the region that George William Curtis' people came from, hard by Roxburgh, and Eliot's, the Apostle to the Indians; again we skirted the Ralph Waldo Emerson country, with its big market town of Bishop's Stortford; and beyond Ely, where we stopped for the Cathedral and a luncheon, not unworthy of it, at the station, he startled me from a pleasant drowse I had fallen into in our railway carriage, with the cry: "There! That is where Captain John Smith was born." "Where? Where?" I implored too late, looking round the compartment everywhere. "Back where those chickens were."

St Botolph's Boston Creative commons image Icon Jules & Jenny under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license St Botolphs, Boston

I

That was the nearest I came to seeing one of the most famous Virginian origins. But you cannot see everything in England; there are too many things; and if the truth must be known I cared more for the natural features than the historical facts of the landscape. The country was flat, and a raw green, as it should be in that raw air, under that dun sky, with sheep hardily biting the short tough pasturage under the imbrowning oaks and elms, and the olive-graying willows, beside the full, still streams scarce wetter than the ground they dreamed through.

We did not reach Boston until six o'clock, when the day was already waning, and the Stump of St. Botolph's Church stood dim against the sky. It was a long drive through the suburban streets from the station to the hotel, which we found full, and which with its crazy floors touched the fancy as full of something besides guests. But it was well for us so, because across the market-place, which forms the chief public square of Boston, was a far better hotel, where we were welcomed to the old-fashioned ideal of the English inn, such as I did not so nearly realize anywhere else. The ideal was a little impaired by the electric light in our bedrooms, but it was not a very brilliant electric light, and there was a damp cold in the corridors which allowed no doubt of its genuineness. In the dining-room, which was also the reading-room, there was an admirable image of a fire in the grate, and a prevailing warmth and brightness which cheered the heart of exile. When we presently had dinner, specialized for us by certain differences from that of two other travellers, there seemed nothing more to ask, except the conversation of our companions, and this we duly had, quite as if we were four wayfarers met there in a book. One of these gentlemen proved a solicitor from Bath, and that made me feel more at home, knowing and loving Bath as I did. It did not matter that in trying for some mutual acquaintance there we failed; our good-will was everything; and the solicitor was intelligent and agreeable. The other gentleman, tall, dark, of urbane stateliness, was something more, in the touch of Oriental suavity which, more than his nose, betrayed him; and it appeared, in delightful suggestion of the old-time commercial intimacy of the Dutch and English coasts, that he was from Holland, and next morning at breakfast he developed a large valise, which I now think held samples. If he was a Dutch Jew, he was probably a Spanish Jew by descent, and what will the difficult reader have more, in the materials for his romance? Did we gather about the grate after we had done dinner, and each tell the story of his life, or at least the most remarkable thing that had ever happened to him?

I cannot say, but I remember that my friend and I, in my instant hunger for Boston, which was greater than my hunger for dinner, set forth while the meal was preparing, and visited the Church of St. Botolph. To reach it we had to pass through the greater length of the market-place, one of the most picturesque in England, and the worthy ancestress of Faneuil Hall and Quincy market-places, which are the most picturesque in America. At one side of its triangle is the birthplace and dwelling of Jean Ingelow, and at the point nearest the church is the statue of Herbert Ingram, the less famous but more locally recognized Bostonian, who founded the Illustrated London News with the money he made by the invention and sale of Old Parr's Pills. He was thrice sent to Parliament from his native town, and he related it to America, after two centuries, by drowning in Lake Michigan. "R. N.," the otherwise anonymous author of a very intelligent and agreeable Handbook of Boston, relates that in his first canvass for Parliament Ingram was opposed by a gentleman who, when he asked the voices of the voters, after the old English fashion, was told by four of them in succession that they were promised "to their cousin Ingram," and who thereupon declared that if he had known Ingram "was cousin to the whole town" he would, never have stood against him. Like the Bostonians of Massachusetts, the Bostonians of Lincolnshire were in fact closely knit together by ties of kinship, owing, "R. N." believes, to the isolation of Boston before the draining of its fens, and not to their conviction that there were no outsiders worthy to mate with them.

II

The house where the martyrologist John Fox first saw the light was replaced long ago by a famous old inn, pulled down in its turn; but the many and many Americans who visit Boston may still visit the house where Jean Ingelow was born. Whether they may see more than the outside of it I do not know from experiment or even inquiry. "R. N." will say nothing of her but that she was born, and that her father was a banker; perhaps he thinks that she has spoken sufficiently for herself.

The air of the market-place, as we crossed to the church, was of a pleasant bleakness, and the Witham was coldly washing under the wall which keeps St. Botolph from it. In the dimness we could have only a conjecture of the church's outward beauty, and of the grandeur of the tower climbing into the evening, where it has hailed so many myriads of moving ships, and beckoned them to safety. But within, where it was already night, the church was cheerfully luminous with Welsbach lights, which showed it all wreathed and garlanded for a harvest festival, began the day before, and to be concluded now with some fit religious observance. The blossoms and leaves were a little wilted and withered, but the fruits and vegetables were there in sturdy endurance, and together they swathed the pulpit from which John Cotton used to preach, and all but hid its structure from view, like flowers of rhetoric softening some hard doctrine.

Apparently, however, Cotton's doctrine was not anywise too hard, or even hard enough, for such "a factious people, who were imbued with the Puritan spirit," as he found in Boston, when he was first elected vicar of St. Botolph's; and it was not till Archbishop Laud's ecclesiastical tyrannies began that he came to see "the Sin of Conformity" and to preach resistance. His conflict with the authorities went so far that exile to another Boston in another hemisphere became his only hope. Or, as Lord Dorset intimated, "if he had been guilty of drunkenness, uncleanness, or any lesser fault, he could have obtained his pardon, but as he was guilty of Puritanism, and Non-conformity, the crime was non-pardonable; and therefore he advised him to flee for his safety."

The Cotton Chapel, so called, was restored mainly with moneys received from Cotton's posterity, lineal or lateral, in his city of refuge overseas, and "the corbels that support the timbered ceiling are carved with the arms of certain of the early colonists of New England." Edward Everett, one of Cotton's descendants, wrote the dedicatory inscription in Latin, which "R. N." has Englished in verse, and I am the more scrupulous to quote it, because, as I must own with my usual reluctant honesty, I quite missed seeing the Cotton Chapel.

    That here John Cotton's memory may survive
     Where for so long he labored when alive,
     In James' reign and Charles', ere it ceased—
     A grave, skilled, learned, earnest parish-priest;
     Till from the strife that tossed the Church of God
     He in a new world sought a new abode,
     To a new England, a new Boston came,
     (That took, to honor him, that reverend name)
     Fed the first flock of Christ that gathered there—
     Till death deprived it of its shepherd's care—
     There well resolved all doubts of mind perplext,
     Whether with cares of this world or the next;
     Two centuries five lustra from the year
     That saw the exile leave his labors here,
     His family, his townsmen, with delight—
     (Whom to the task their English kin invite)—
     To the fair fane he served so well of yore,
     His name, in two worlds honored, thus restore,
     This chapel renovate, this tablet place,
     In this, the year of man's recovered Grace,
                         1855.

III

I missed most of the other memorable things in the church that night, but I saw fleetingly some of the beautiful tombs for which it is famous; the effigies of the dead lay in their niches, quietly, as if already tucked away for the night, in the secular sleep of the dust beneath. The tombs were more famous than they, and more beautiful, if the faces of some were true likenesses, but after so many centuries one ought not to require even women to be pretty.

We had not begun to have enough of Boston yet, and after dinner we went a long walk up the Witham, away from the parapet before the church, under which its deep tides are always washing to and fro. In the dimness, after we had got a little to the outskirts of the town, there seemed shipyards along the river's course, but at one place there was a large building brilliantly lighted, which from certain effects at the windows we decided to be a printing-office on the scale of those in and near our own Boston. What was our shame and grief the next morning to find it was a cigar factory, and to learn that cigar and cigarette making was almost the chief industry of the mother Boston. There are really two large tobacco factories there running overtime, and always advertising for more women and girls to do their work; and in our Boston, not so long ago, smoking in the street was forbidden! Such are the ironies of life.

What the shipyards had turned into by daylight, I do not now remember. The Witham had turned into a long, deep gash, cut down into the clay twenty feet from the level of the flood tides. We crossed on a penny ferry which the current pushed over in the manner of the earliest ferries, near the tobacco factory, and came back into the heart of the town through streets of low stone houses, with few buildings of note to dignify their course. Small craft lay along the steep muddy shores, and at one place a little excursion steamer was waiting for the tide to come in and float it for the fulfilment of its promise of sailing at ten o'clock. We idly longed to make its voyage with it, and if the chance were offering now, I certainly should not forego it as I did then. But when you are in a foreign place, no matter how much you have travelled and how well you know that it will not offer soon again, you reject the most smiling chance because you think you can take it any time.

The morning was soft and warm, with a sun shining amiably on the rather commonplace old town. I had risen betimes that I might go and get a Spanish melon for my breakfast, but at eight o'clock I found the fruiterer's locked and barred against me. I lingered and hungered for the melons which I saw in his window, and then I tried other fruiterers, but none of them was stirring yet. I reflected how different it would have been in our own Boston; and if it had not been for the market people coming into the square and beginning to dress their stalls with vegetables, and fish, and native fruits, such as hard pears and knotty apples, I do not know how ill I might have come away thinking of that idle mother Boston. In other squares there were cattle for sale later, and fish, but I cannot in even my present leniency claim that the markets were open at the hour which the genteeler commerce of the place found so indiscreet. They were irregular spaces of a form in keeping with the general shambling and shapeless character of the town, which, once for all, I must own was not an impressive place.

The best thing in it, and the thing you are always coming back to, is the beautiful church, to which we paid a second visit early in the forenoon. We found it where we left it the night before, lifting its tower from the brink of the Witham, and looking far out over the flat land to a sea no flatter. The land seems indeed, like so much English coast, merely the sea come ashore, and turned into fens for the greater convenience of the fishermen, whom, with the deeper sea sailors, we saw about the town, lounging through the crooked streets, and hanging bare-armed upon the parapets of the bridges. Now we found the church had about its foot a population of Bostonians for whom, under their flat gravestones, it had been chiming the quarters from its mellow-throated bells, while the Bostonians on our side had been hustling for liberty, and money, and culture, and all the good things of this world, and getting them in a measure that would astonish their namesakes. Within the church we saw again the beautiful tombs of the night before, and others like them, and again we saw the pulpit of John Cotton, which we could make out a little better than at first, because its garlands were a little more withered and shrunken away. But better than either we realized the perfection of the church interior as a whole, so ample, so simple, such a comfortable and just sufficient eyeful.

IV

From other interests in St. Botolph's you somehow keep always, or finally, coming to the Stump, as the tower is called somewhat in the humor of our Boston. It is not so fair within as without; that could not be in the nature of things; and yet the interior of the tower has a claim upon the spectator's wonder, if not his admiration, which, so far as I know, the interior of no other tower has. It is all treated as a loftier room of the church, and its ceiling, a hundred and fifty feet from the ground, is elaborately and allegorically groined. The work was done when the whole church was restored about half a century ago, and has not the claim of medieval whim upon the fancy. Not so much pleasure as he might wish mingles with the marvel of the beholder, who carries a crick in the neck away from the sight, and yet once, but not more, in a way, it is worth while to have had the sight. Certainly this treatment of the tower is unique; there is nothing to compare with it in Boston, Massachusetts, and cannot be even when the interior of the Old South is groined.

When we came out of the church, we found the weather amusing itself as usual in England, raining with wind, then blowing without rain, and presently, but by no means decisively, sunning without either wind or rain. The conditions were favorable to a further exploration of the town, which seemed to have a passion for old cannon, and for sticking them about in all sorts of odd nooks and corners. We found one smaller piece over a gateway, which we were forbidden by a sign-board to enter on pain of prosecution for trespassing. There was nothing else to prevent our entering, and we went in, to find ourselves in an alley with nothing but a Gypsy van in it. Nothing but a Gypsy van! As if that were not the potentiality of all manner of wild romance! Whether the alley belonged to Gypsies, or the Gypsies had trespassed by leaving their van in it, I shall now probably never know, but I commend the inquiry to any reader of mine whom these pages shall inspire to repeat our pilgrimage.

There was no great token of genteel life in Boston, so far as we saw it, but perhaps we did not look in the right places. There were good shops, but not fine or large ones, and I am able to report of the intellectual status that there are three weekly newspapers, but no dailies, which could not be the case in any American town of fourteen thousand people. Concerning society, I can only say that in our wanderings we came at one point on a vast, high-walled, iron-gated garden, which looked as if it might have society beyond it, but not being positively forbidden we did not penetrate it. We did indeed visit the ancient grammar-school, one of those foundations which in England were meant originally for the poor deserving of scholarship, but which have nearly all lapsed to the more deserving rich, careful of the contamination of the lower classes. Being out of term the school was closed to its pupils, but we found a contractor there removing the old stoves and putting in a system of hot-water heating, which he said was better fitted to resist the cold of the Boston winters. He was not a very conversable man, but so much we screwed out of him, with the added fact that the tuition of that school was no longer free. It came to some five guineas a year, no great sum, but perhaps sufficient to keep the school, with the other influences, select enough for the patronage to which it had fallen. It was a pleasant place, with a playground before it, which in the course of generations there must have been a good deal of schoolboy fun got out of.

V

There remained for us now only the Guildhall to visit, and we had left that to the last because it was the thing that had mostly brought us to Boston. It was the scene of the trial and imprisonment of those poor people of the region roundabout who were trying to escape from their "dread lord," James the First, and were arrested for this crime, and brought to answer for it before the magistrates of the town. Their dread lord had then lately met some ministers of their faith at Hampton Court, and there browbeaten, if not beaten, them in argument, so that he was in no humor to let, these people, who afterward became the Pilgrim Fathers, get away to Holland, where there was no dread lord, or at least none of King James' thinking.

But no words can be so good to tell of all this as the words of Governor Bradford in his Historie of Plymouth Plantation, where he says that "ther was a large companie of them purposed to get passage at Boston in Lincolnshire, and for that end had hired a shipe wholy to them selves, & made agreement with the maister to be ready at a certaine day, and take them and their goods in, at a conveniente place, wher they accordingly would all attende in readiness. So after long waiting, & large expences, though he kepte not day with them, yet he came at length & tooke them in, in the night. But when he had them & their goods abord, he betrayed them, haveing before hand complotted with the serchers & other officers so to doe; who tooke them, and put them into open boats, & ther rifled and ransaked them, searching them to their shirts for money, yea even the women furder then became modestie; and then caried them back into the towne, & made them a spectakle & wonder to the multitude, which came flocking on all sides to behould them. Being thus first, by the catchpoule officer, rifled, & stripte of their money, books, and much other goods, they were presented to the magistrates, and messengers sente to informe the lords of the Counsell of them; and so they were comited to ward. Indeed the magistrats used them courteously, and shewed them what favour they could; but could not deliver them till order came from the Counsell-table. But the issue was that after a months imprisonmente, the greatest parte were dismiste, & sent to the places from whence they came; but 7. of the principall were still kept in prison, and bound over to the Assises."

My excellent "R. N." of the Handbook of Boston is anxious to have his reader, as I in turn am anxious to have mine, distinguish between these future Pilgrim Fathers and the gentlemen and scholars who later founded Boston in Massachusetts Bay, and called its name after that of the town they had dwelt in or often visited before they left the handsome keeping of the gentler life of Lincolnshire. Such were Richard Bellingham, Edmund Quincy, Thomas Leverett, John Cotton, Samuel Whiting, and others, known to our colonial and national history. Not even Bradford or Brewster, afterward dignified figures in Plymouth colony, were of the humble band, men, women, and children, that the officers of Boston took from their vessel. "Pathetic but splendid figures," my brave "R. N." calls them, and he tells how, after a month's jail, they were "sent home broken men, to endure the scoffs of their neighbors and the rigors of ecclesiastical discipline."

VI

The dungeons which remain to witness of their hardships in Boston are of thick-walled, iron-grated stone, and the captives were fed on bread and water within smell of the roasting and broiling of the Guildhall kitchens immediately beside them. I will not conjecture with "R. N." that they were put there "by a refinement of cruelty," so that they might suffer the more in that vicinage. "The magistrates" who had "used them courteously and shewed them what favour they could," would not have willed that; but perhaps "the Counsell-table" did; and it was certainly a hardship that the dungeons and the kitchens were so close together, as any man may see at this day. Neither the dungeons nor the kitchens are any longer used; the spits and grates are rusted where the fires blazed, and the cells where the Pilgrims suffered are now full of large earthen jars. For no other or better reason, the large open spaces of the basement outside of them were scattered about with agricultural implements, ploughs, harrows, and the like. It was the belief of my companion, founded on I know not what fact, that the hall in which the Pilgrims were tried was a large upper chamber which we found occupied by a boys' school. The door stood partly ajar, and we could see the master within walking up and down before some twenty boys, as if waiting for one of them to answer some question he had put them. Perhaps it was a question of local history, for none of them seemed able to answer it; presently when a boy came out on some errand, and we stopped him, and asked him where it was the Pilgrims had been tried, he did not know, and apparently he had never heard of the Pilgrims. He was a very nice-looking boy, and otherwise not unintelligent; certainly he was well-mannered, as nice-looking English boys are apt to be with their elders; perhaps he had heard too much of the Pilgrims, and had purposely forgotten them. This might very well have happened in a place like Boston where such hordes of Americans are coming every year, and asking so many hard questions concerning an incident of local history not wholly creditable to the place. He could justly have said that the same or worse might have happened to the Pilgrims anywhere else in England, under the dread lord there then was, and in fact something of the same hardship did befall them afterward at the place a little northeast of Boston, which we were now to visit for their piteous sake.

"The nexte spring after," as Bradford continues the narrative of their sorrows, "ther was another attempte made by some of these & others, to get over at an other place. And so it fell out, that they light of a Dutchman at Hull, having a ship of his owne belonging to Zealand; they made agreements with him, and acquainted him with their condition, hoping to find more faithfullnes in him, then in the former of their owne nation. He bad them not fear, for he would doe well enough. He was by appointment to take them in betweene Grimsbe & Hull, where was a large comone a good way distante from any towne. Now against the prefixed time, the women & children, with the goods, were sent to the place in a small barke, which they had hired for that end; and the men were to meete them by land. But it so fell out, that they were ther a day before the shipe came, and the sea being rough, and the women very sicke, prevailed with the seamen to put into a creeke hardby, wher they lay on ground at lowwater. The nexte morning the shipe came, but they were fast, & could not stir till about noone. In the mean time, the shipe maister, perceiveing how the matter was, sente his boate to be getting the men abord whom he saw ready, walking aboute the shore. But after the first boat full was gott abord, & she was ready to goe for more, the Mr. espied a greate company, both horse & foote, with bills, & gunes, & other weapons; for the countrie was raised to take them. The Dutchman seeing this swore his countries oath, 'sacremente,' and having the wind faire, waiged his Ancor, hoysed sayles, & away. But the poore men which were gott abord, were in great distress for their wives and children, which they saw thus to be taken, and were left destitute of their helps; and them selves also, not having a cloath to shifte them with, more then they had on their baks, & some scarce a peney aboute them, all they had being abord the barke. It drew tears from their eyes, and any thing they had they would have given to have been a shore againe; but all in vaine, ther was no remedy, they must thus sadly part. The rest of the men there were in greatest danger, made shift to escape away before the troope could surprise them: those only staying that best might, to be assistante unto the women. But pitifull it was to see the heavie case of these poore women in this distress: what weeping & crying on every side, some for their husbands, that were carried away in the ship as is before related; others not knowing what should become of them, & their little ones; others again melted in teares, seeing their poore little ones hanging aboute them, crying for feare, and quaking with could. Being thus aprehanded, they hurried from one place to another, and from one justice to another, till in the ende they knew not what to doe with them; for to imprison so many women & innocent children for no other cause (many of them) but that they must goo with their husbands, seemed to be unreasonable and all would crie out of them; and to send them home againe was as difficult, for they aleged, as the trueth was, they had no homes to goe to, for they had either sould, or otherwise disposed of their houses & livings. To be shorte, after they had been thus turmoyled a good while, and conveyed from one constable to another, they were glad to be ridd of them in the end upon any termes: for all were wearied & tired with them. Though in the mean time they (poore soules) indured miserie enough; and thus in the end necessitie forste a way for them."

VII

If there is any more touching incident in the history of man's inhumanity to man, I do not know it, or cannot now recall it; and it was to visit the scene of it near "Grimsbe," or Great Grimsby, as it is now called, that we set out, after viewing their prison in Boston, over wide plains, with flights of windmills alighted on them everywhere. Here and there one seemed to have had its wings clipped, and we were told by a brighter young fellow than we often had for a travelling companion that this was because steam had been put into it as a motive power more constant than wind, even on that wind-swept coast. There seems to have been nothing else, so far as my note-book witnesses, to take up our thoughts in the short run to Great Grimsby, and for all I know now I may have drowsed by many chicken-yards marking the birthplace of our discoverers and founders. We got to Great Grimsby in time for a very lamentable lunch in a hostelry near the station, kept, I think, for such "poore people" as the Pilgrims were, with stomachs not easily turned by smeary marble table-tops with a smeary maid having to take their orders, and her ineffective napkin in her hand. The honesty as well as the poverty of the place was attested, when, returning to recover a forgotten umbrella, we were met at the door by this good girl, who had left her bar to fetch it in anticipation of all question.

At Great Grimsby, it seemed, there was no vehicle but a very exceptional kind of cab,—looking like a herdic turned wrongside fore, and unable to orient itself aright,—available for the long drive to that "large comone a good way distante from any towne," which we were to make, if we wished to visit the scene of the Pilgrims' sufferings in their second attempt to escape from their dread lord. In this strange equipage, therefore, we set out, and nine long miles we drove through a country which seemed to rise with increasing surprise at us and our turnout on each inquiry we made for the way from chance passers. Just beyond the suburbs of the town we entered the region of a vast, evil smell which we verified as that of the decaying fish spread upon the fields, for a fertilizer after they had missed their market in that great fishing centre. Otherwise the landscape was much the ordinary English landscape of the flatter parts, but wilder and rougher than in the south or west, and constantly growing more so as we drove on and on. Our cabman kept a good courage, as long as the highway showed signs of much travel, but when it began to falter away into a country road, he must have lost faith in our sanity, though he kept an effect of the conventional respect for his nominal betters which English cabmen never part with except in a dispute about fares and distances. We stayed him as well as we could with some grapes and pears, which we found we did not want after our lunch, and which we handed him up through his little trap-door, but a plaintive quaver grew into his voice, and he let his horse lag in the misgiving which it probably shared with him. Nothing of signal interest occurred in our progress except at one point, near a Methodist chapel, where we caught sight of a gayly painted blue van, lettered over with many texts and mottoes, which my friend explained as one of the vans intinerantly used by extreme Protestants of the Anne Askew persuasion to prevent the spread of Romanism in England.

The signs of travel had not only ceased, but a little in front of us the way was barred by a gate, and beyond this gate there was nothing but a sort of savage pasture, with many red and brown cattle in it, gathered questioningly about the barrier, or lifting their heads indifferently from the grass. Just before we reached the gate we passed a peasant's cottage, where he was sociably getting in his winter's coal, and he and his wife and children, and the carter, all leaned upon whatever supports they found next them, and stared at the extraordinary apparition of two, I hope, personable strangers driving in a hansom of extreme type into a cow pasture. But we were not going to give ourselves away to their too probable ignorance by asking if that were the place where the Pilgrims who founded New England were first stopped from going to Holland.

My friend dismounted, and opened the gate, and we drove in among the cattle, and after they had satisfied a peaceful curiosity concerning us, they went about their business of eating grass, and we strayed over "the large comone," and tried to imagine its looks nearly three hundred years before. They could not have been very different; the place could hardly have been much wilder, and there was the "creeke hardby wher they lay," the hapless women and children, in their boat "at lowwater," while the evening came on, no doubt, just as it was doing with us, the weather clearing, and the sunset glassy and cold. Off yonder, away across the solitary moor, was the course of the Humber, marked for us by the trail of a steamer's smoke through the fringes of trees, and for them by the sail of the Dutchman, who, when he saw next day that "great company, both horse and foote, with bills and gunes, and other weapons," coming to harry those poor people, "swore his countries oath, 'sacremente,' and having the wind faire, waiged his ancor, hoysed sails, and away," leaving those desolate women and their little ones lamenting.

VIII

On our way back we stopped at a little country church, so peaceful, so very peaceful, in the evening light, where it stood, withdrawn from the highway, Norman and Gothic without, and within all so sweet and bare and clean, that we could not believe in the old ecclesiasticism which persecuted the Puritans into the exile whither they carried the persecuting spirit with them. A pretty child, a little girl, opened the churchyard gate and held it for us to pass, and her gentleness made me the more question the history of those dreadful days in the past. When I saw a young lady, in the modern dress which I had so often lost my heart to at the Church Parade in Hyde Park, going up a leafy lane, toward the vicarage, from having been for tennis and afternoon tea at some pleasant home in the neighborhood, I denied the atrocious facts altogether. She had such a very charming hat on.

The suburbs of Great Grimsby, after you reach them through that zone of bad smell, are rather attractive, and you get into long clean streets of small stone houses, like those of Plymouth or Southampton, and presently you reach the Humber, which is full of the steamers and sail, both fishing and deep sea, of the prosperous port, with great booms of sawlogs from Norway, half filling the channel, and with a fringe of tall chimneys from the sawmills along the shores. Great Grimsby is not only the centre of a vast distributing trade in coal and lumber, but of a still vaster trade in fish. It cuts one's pride, if one has believed that Gloucester, Massachusetts, is the greatest fishing port in the world, to learn that Grimsby, with a hundred more fishing sail, is only "one of the principal fishing ports" of the United Kingdom. What can one do against those brutal British statistics? We think our towns grow like weeds, but London seems to grow half such a weed as Chicago in a single night.

After we were got well into the town, we found ourselves part of an immense bicycle parade, with bicyclers of both sexes on their wheels, in masks and costumes, Pierrots, and Clowns, and Harlequins and Columbines, in a competition for the prettiest and fanciest dress.

When we came to start from the station on our run to London, we reflected that there were a great many of these bicyclers, and that they would probably crowd us in our third-class compartment. So, as we had bought an excellent supper in baskets, such as they send you on the trains everywhere in England, and wished to eat it in quiet, we sought out the guard who was lurking near for the purpose, and bribed him to shut us into that compartment, and not let any one else in. There we remained in darkness, with our curtains drawn, and when, near train-time, the bicyclers began to swarm about the carriages, we heard them demanding admittance to our compartment from our faithful guard, if that is the right way to call him. He turned them away with soft answers, answers so very soft that we could not make out what he said, but he seemed to be inviting them into other compartments, which he doubtless pretended were better. The murmurs would die away, and then rise again, and from time to time we knew that a baffled bicycler was pulling at our door, or vainly bumping against it. We listened with our hearts in our mouths; but no one got in, and the train started, and we opened our baskets and began to eat and to drink, like two aristocrats or plutocrats. What made our inhuman behavior worse was that we were really nothing of the kind, but both professed friends of the common people. The story might show that when it comes to a question of selfishness men are all alike ready to profit by the unjust conditions. However, it must be remembered that those people were only bicyclers. If we could have conceived of them as masses we should have known them for brothers, and let them in, probably.

 

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