« ForrigeFortsett »
OLD COUNTRY HOUSE.
Our illustration, this month, is given rather as the beau-ideal of a genuine old country-house, than from any peculiar interest attaching to the place represented. Its historic fame we believe to be very questionable, though it purports to have been once a favorite hunting-seat of Queen Elizabeth.
It is situate at Chingford, a pleasant village, on the borders of Epping forest, and is still known as Queen Elizabeth's Lodge, or the hunting-seat of that princess.
In this lodge it is said that Queen Elizabeth used to ride up and down the stairs, which are constructed in such a manner that every five are about six inches high; and the landing-places being very broad, a horse might easily be trained to go up and down. A horse-block, at the commencement of the present century, was standing on the uppermost landing-place,
Chingford stands on the borders of Essex, not far from Edmonton, on the river Lea; and the lands in many places rising high, it commands varied and extensive prospects into Kent and Hertfordshire. The forest is to the east of it.
THE WAY TO THE GIFT. It soon became evident that our preacher was too searching, or, as the Major would have phrased it, “ too legal,” for the better-taught owner of Pihahiroth. He could tolerate him when he spoke of his Great Master, as a Saviour from the consequences of sin ; but when he exhibited him as delivering from the love, and power, and practice of it, the Major, to quote the graphic words of Scripture, “became wroth, and his countenance fell.” Yet there was ineffable pity mingled with his anger. Was he "a full-stature, deep-things, Christian,” as he sometimes called himself, to be schooled in divinity by one who had just passed the threshold of the gospel, as he thought ? Forgetting everything but his own bitter feelings at the moment, he rose up hastily and walked out of church in such a manner as to leave no doubt on the minds of any, that he thought himself a deeply-injured man.
The rmon proceeded; the service closed mpressively, and the congregation having dispersed, I walked home with Mr. Singleton; and at length spoke of Major Goode's strange conduct.
He smiled at my surmises, though he confessed there was probably some truth in them, and before parting, it was arranged that we should go together to Pihahiroth, and ascertain how matters stood with a view if possible to some conciliation.
Good purposes are often broken, and it was long before we found an opportunity of calling upon Major Goode. Amongst other circumstances which interfered with our intention, I was compelled to go unexpectedly to London, which I had not visited for many years. A friend had asked my services in securing a passage to Australia for a party not altogether unknown to our readers, and as I had some connexion with the shipping interest, through a near relative who had settled in the metropolis, I accordingly made up my mind to the journey.
Eight or nine months had already gone by, and our mission to Pihahiroth seemed no nearer its accomplishment than when we formed our resolution. But every thing was set aside till my business in London was accomplished ; and on a warm, moist, autumnal afternoon, I found myself threading the noisy thoroughfares bordering on the London-docks, which formed my destination.
How the squalor, the vice, and poverty of this densely peopled neighbourhood affect a stranger from the country! Accustomed to green fields and bright skies, to fresh air and flowing streams, to sunshine and all the sweet and unsophisticated influences of Nature, he scarcely knows how to tolerate the sights, and sounds, and odours, and worst of all, the brutalized specimens of humanity, he meets with at every turn. His heart aches as he wanders along the crowded streets, followed by eyes that seem full of suspicion and mistrust, or accosted by some eager tradesman anxious to transact some business with him in the low sordid wares he deals in. True, he now and then passes a church or a chapel-oases in the weary murmuring wilderness-and wonders who can fill them, where the Sabbath, even, seems to bring no joy or rest to the grovelling tenants of this region of the metropolis. Yet sweet thoughts break in upon his jaded spirit, as he contemplates the sufficiency of the gospel of the grace of Christ to heal even this leprosy of ungodliness. But for this reflection he would indeed be alone amongst the hum and shock of men, but its constraining influence draws all souls into fellowship with his own. Nothing but heart-probing, heartcleansing, God-communing Christianity can meet the case, and he longs, even on the spot, to preach in all his fulness the Friend of publicans and sinners.
He passes on, however, sad and silent, and enters the docks. What a forest of shipping, what a city of warehouses is before him! Every area is crowded with goods, pile on pile, or paved with merchandize, till scarce a thoroughfare is left to pass amongst them. Over a rugged and uneven pavement, blockaded by heavy waggons or barricaded with trucks, or rendered impassable by accumulations of filth or puddles of water, he passes onward amidst noise and hurry that to him seem meaningless, and feels heartily rejoiced when the business which called him to this scene of wretchedness is accomplished.
Emerging from the docks, he longs to see once more the green fields, that he knows are to be found even in the immediate precincts of this thundering Babylon. The Thames Tunnel ! Who has not heard of that? Perhaps it may form a pleasant outlet from all that has just now pained the ear and sickened the heart of the pilgrim in London. Let us see.
Full of such thoughts as these, I passed the purgatory of my visit to this mart of nations, and bent my footsteps towards the famous tunnel. But what a damp, mouldering, dilapidated air hung over this wonderful place. Entering the melancholy structure, with a heavy heart, I wound my way beside its mouldstained walls, and down its gloomy-looking staircase to the mouth of the long double viaduct that leads below the river's bed. I paused upon the stairs to listen to the music that came up from below, echoed and re-echoed by these gloomy vaults. The effect was overwhelmingly sad, and this sadness seemed to be all explained, when on descending to the bottom I found a small steam engine at work, grinding it out of a musical box by the hour. But my heart all at once leaped up, for I thought just then of the wilful little birds I had often heard at home, singing with such relish that it seemed, as a hearty old writer has expressed it, as if they would shiver the leafy wood in pieces; and I thanked God for liberty.
I began to pace the long dim avenue, walking in fear, for the jets of gas that lined it seemed placed there only for the purpose of making still paler, the pale haze that closed in upon me. Half a dozen loiterers formed nearly the whole of the subaqueous population. There were a few poor creatures here and there keeping a stall, which would never keep them, and they importuned me touchingly to buy their useless wares. One of them had a few books-cheap shewy looking editions of standard authors, and at this stand I noticed a lad in the costume of a sailor, apparently negociating a purchase. There was nothing in such a sight to attract attention, and I might have passed it by unobserved, but for the associations at that moment passing through my mind. Whether or not there was any thing in the circumstances or scenery by which I was surrounded, to awaken such ideas, I was just then thinking of the quaint old cuts I had met with in an early edition of Bunyan, and in a twinkling a thousand graphic touches from the pen of this glorious dreamer flashed across the field of my mental vision. By one of those singular processes resulting from the law of mental affinities my ear caught greedily at the name of this good old writer, pronounced by the poor creature who presided at the stall in question. She was recommending a copy of the