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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsSunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 11
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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 11 Post by :mrtwist Category :Nonfictions Author :Harriet Beecher Stowe Date :May 2012 Read :3229

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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 11


DEAR H.:--

From Stratford we drove to Warwick, (or "Warrick," as they call it here.) This town stands on a rocky hill on the banks of the Avon, and is quite a considerable place, for it returns two members to Parliament, and has upwards of ten thousand inhabitants; and also has some famous manufactories of wool combing and spinning. But what we came to see was the castle. We drove up to the Warwick Arms, which is the principal hotel in the place; and, finding that we were within the hours appointed for exhibition, we went immediately.

With my head in a kind of historical mist, full of images of York and Lancaster, and Red and White Roses, and Warwick the king maker, I looked up to the towers and battlements of the old castle. We went in through a passage way cut in solid rock, about twenty feet deep, and I should think fifty long. These walls were entirely covered with ivy, hanging down like green streamers; gentle and peaceable pennons these are, waving and whispering that the old war times are gone.

At the end of this passage there is a drawbridge over what was formerly the moat, but which is now grassed and planted with shrubbery. Up over our heads we saw the great iron teeth of the portcullis. A rusty old giant it seemed up there, like Pope and Pagan in Pilgrim's Progress, finding no scope for himself in these peaceable times.

When we came fairly into the court yard of the castle, a scene of magnificent beauty opened before us. I cannot describe it minutely. The principal features are the battlements, towers, and turrets of the old feudal castle, encompassed by grounds on which has been expended all that princely art of landscape gardening for which England is famous--leafy thickets, magnificent trees, openings, and vistas of verdure, and wide sweeps of grass, short, thick, and vividly green, as the velvet moss we sometimes see growing on rocks in New England. Grass is an art and a science in England--it is an institution. The pains that are taken in sowing, tending, cutting, clipping, rolling, and otherwise nursing and coaxing it, being seconded by the misty breath and often falling tears of the climate, produce results which must be seen to be appreciated.

So again of trees in England. Trees here are an order of nobility; and they wear their crowns right kingly. A few years ago, when Miss Sedgwick was in this country, while admiring some splendid trees in a nobleman's park, a lady standing by said to her encouragingly, "O, well, I suppose your trees in America will be grown up after a while!" Since that time another style of thinking of America has come up, and the remark that I most generally hear made is, "O, I suppose we cannot think of showing you any thing in the way of trees, coming as you do from America!" Throwing out of account, however, the gigantic growth of our western river bottoms, where I have seen sycamore trunks twenty feet in diameter--leaving out of account, I say, all this mammoth arboria, these English parks have trees as fine and as effective, of their kind, as any of ours; and when I say their trees are an order of nobility, I mean that they pay a reverence to them such as their magnificence deserves. Such elms as adorn the streets of New Haven, or overarch the meadows of Andover, would in England be considered as of a value which no money could represent; no pains, no expense would be spared to preserve their life and health; they would never be shot dead by having gas pipes laid under them, as they have been in some of our New England towns; or suffered to be devoured by canker worms for want of any amount of money spent in their defence.

Some of the finest trees in this place are magnificent cedars of Lebanon, which bring to mind the expression in Psalms, "Excellent as the cedars." They are the very impersonation of kingly majesty, and are fitted to grace the old feudal stronghold of Warwick the king maker. These trees, standing as they do amid magnificent sweeps and undulations of lawn, throwing out their mighty arms with such majestic breadth and freedom of outline, are themselves a living, growing, historical epic. Their seed was brought from Holy Land in the old days of the crusades; and a hundred legends might be made up of the time, date, and occasion of their planting. These crusades have left their mark every where through Europe, from the cross panel on the doors of common houses to the oriental touches and arabesques of castles and cathedrals.

In the reign of Stephen there was a certain Roger de Newburg, second Earl of Warwick, who appears to have been an exceedingly active and public-spirited character; and, besides conquering part of Wales, founded in this neighborhood various priories and hospitals, among which was the house of the Templars, and a hospital for lepers. He made several pilgrimages to Holy Land; and so I think it as likely as most theories that he ought to have the credit of these cedars.

These Earls of Warwick appear always to have been remarkably stirring men in their day and generation, and foremost in whatever was going on in the world, whether political or religious. To begin, there was Guy, Earl of Warwick, who lived somewhere in the times of the old dispensation, before King Arthur, and who distinguished himself, according to the fashion of those days, by killing giants and various colored dragons, among which a green one especially figures. It appears that he slew also a notable dun cow, of a kind of mastodon breed, which prevailed in those early days, which was making great havoc in the neighborhood. In later times, when the giants, dragons, and other animals of that sort were somewhat brought under, we find the Earls of Warwick equally busy burning and slaying to the right and left; now crusading into Palestine, and now fighting the French, who were a standing resort for activity when nothing else was to be done; with great versatility diversifying these affairs with pilgrimages to the holy sepulchre, and founding monasteries and hospitals. One stout earl, after going to Palestine and laying about him like a very dragon for some years, brought home a live Saracen king to London, and had him baptized and made a Christian of, _vi et armis_.

During the scuffle of the Roses, it was a Warwick, of course, who was uppermost. Stout old Richard, the king maker, set up first one party and then the other, according to his own sovereign pleasure, and showed as much talent at fighting on both sides, and keeping the country in an uproar, as the modern politicians of America.

When the times of the Long Parliament and the Commonwealth came, an Earl of Warwick was high admiral of England, and fought valiantly for the Commonwealth, using the navy on the popular side; and his grandson married the youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell. When the royal family was to be restored, an Earl of Warwick was one of the six lords who were sent to Holland for Charles II. The earls of this family have been no less distinguished for movements which have favored the advance of civilization and letters than for energy in the battle field. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth an Earl of Warwick founded the History Lecture at Cambridge, and left a salary for the professor. This same earl was general patron of letters and arts, assisting many men of talents, and was a particular and intimate friend of Sir Philip Sidney.

What more especially concerns us as New Englanders is, that an earl of this house was the powerful patron and protector of New England during the earlier years of our country. This was Robert Greville, the high admiral of England before alluded to, and ever looked upon as a protector of the Puritans. Frequent allusion is made to him in Winthrop's Journal as performing various good offices for them.

The first grant of Connecticut was made to this earl, and by him assigned to Lord Say and Seal, and Lord Brooke. The patronage which this earl extended to the Puritans is more remarkable because in principle he was favorable to Episcopacy. It appears to have been prompted by a chivalrous sense of justice; probably the same which influenced old Guy of Warwick in the King Arthur times, of whom the ancient chronicler says, "This worshipful knight, in his acts of warre, ever consydered what parties had wronge, and therto would he drawe."

The present earl has never taken a share in public or political life, but resided entirely on his estate, devoting himself to the improvement of his ground and tenants. He received the estate much embarrassed, and the condition of the tenantry was at that time quite depressed. By the devotion of his life it has been rendered one of the most flourishing and prosperous estates in this part of England. I have heard him spoken of as a very exemplary, excellent man. He is now quite advanced, and has been for some time in failing health. He sent our party a very kind and obliging message, desiring that we would consider ourselves fully at liberty to visit any part of the grounds or castle, there being always some reservation as to what tourists may visit.

We caught glimpses of him once or twice, supported by attendants, as he was taking the air in one of the walks of the grounds, and afterwards wheeled about in a garden chair.

The family has thrice died out in the direct line, and been obliged to resuscitate through collateral branches; but it seems the blood holds good notwithstanding. As to honors there is scarcely a possible distinction in the state or army that has not at one time or other been the property of this family.

Under the shade of these lofty cedars they have sprung and fallen, an hereditary line of princes. One cannot but feel, in looking on these majestic trees, with the battlements, turrets, and towers of the old castle every where surrounding him, and the magnificent parks and lawns opening through dreamy vistas of trees into what seems immeasurable distance, the force of the soliloquy which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of the dying old king maker, as he lies breathing out his soul in the dust and blood of the battle field:--

"Thus yields the cedar to the axe's edge,
Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle,
Under whose shade the rampant lion slept;
Whose top branch overpeered Jove's spreading tree,
And kept low shrubs from, winter's powerful wind.
These eyes, that now are dimmed with death's black veil,
Have been as piercing as the midday sun
To search, the secret treasons of the world:
The wrinkles in my brow, now filled with blood,
Were likened oft to kingly sepulchres;
For who lived king but I could dig his grave?
And who durst smile when Warwick bent his brow?
Lo, now my glory smeared in dust and blood!
My parks, my walks, my manors that I had,
Even now forsake me; and of all my lands
Is nothing left me but my body's length!
Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust?
And live we how we can, yet die we must."

During Shakspeare's life Warwick was in the possession of Greville, the friend of Sir Philip Sidney, and patron of arts and letters. It is not, therefore, improbable that Shakspeare might, in his times, often have been admitted to wander through the magnificent grounds, and it is more than probable that the sight of these majestic cedars might have suggested the noble image in this soliloquy. It is only about eight miles from Stratford, within the fair limits of a comfortable pedestrian excursion, and certainly could not but have been an object of deep interest to such a mind as his.

I have described the grounds first, but, in fact, we did not look at them first, but went into the house where we saw not only all the state rooms, but, through the kindness of the noble proprietor, many of those which are not commonly exhibited; a bewildering display of magnificent apartments, pictures, gems, vases, arms and armor, antiques, all, in short, that the wealth of a princely and powerful family had for centuries been accumulating.

The great hall of the castle is sixty-two feet in length and forty in breadth, ornamented with a richly carved Gothic roof, in which figures largely the family cognizance of the bear and ragged staff. There is a succession of shields, on which are emblazoned the quarterings of successive Earls of Warwick. The sides of the wall are ornamented with lances, corselets, shields, helmets, and complete suits of armor, regularly arranged as in an armory. Here I learned what the buff coat is, which had so often puzzled me in reading Scott's descriptions, as there were several hanging up here. It seemed to be a loose doublet of chamois leather, which was worn under the armor, and protected the body from its harshness.

Here we saw the helmet of Cromwell, a most venerable relic. Before the great, cavernous fireplace was piled up on a sled a quantity of yew tree wood. The rude simplicity of thus arranging it on the polished floor of this magnificent apartment struck me as quite singular. I suppose it is a continuation of some ancient custom.

Opening from this apartment on either side are suits of rooms, the whole series being three hundred and thirty-three feet in length. These rooms are all hung with pictures, and studded with antiques and curiosities of immense value. There is, first, the red drawing room, and then the cedar drawing room, then the gilt drawing room, the state bed room, the boudoir, &c., &c., hung with pictures by Vandyke, Rubens, Guido, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Paul Veronese, any one of which would require days of study; of course, the casual glance that one could give them in a rapid survey would not amount to much.

We were shown one table of gems and lapis lazuli, which cost what would be reckoned a comfortable fortune in New England. For matters of this kind I have little sympathy. The canvas, made vivid by the soul of an inspired artist, tells me something of God's power in creating that soul; but a table of gems is in no wise interesting to me, except so far as it is pretty in itself.

I walked to one of the windows of these lordly apartments, and while the company were examining buhl cabinets, and all other deliciousness of the place, I looked down the old gray walls into the amber waters of the Avon, which flows at their base, and thought that the most beautiful of all was without. There is a tiny fall that crosses the river just above here, whose waters turn the wheels of an old mossy mill, where for centuries the family grain has been ground. The river winds away through the beautiful parks and undulating foliage, its soft, grassy banks dotted here and there with sheep and cattle, and you catch farewell gleams and glitters of it as it loses itself among the trees.

Gray moss, wall flowers, ivy, and grass were growing here and there out of crevices in the castle walls, as I looked down, sometimes trailing their rippling tendrils in the river. This vegetative propensity of walls is one of the chief graces of these old buildings.

In the state bed room were a bed and furnishings of rich, crimson velvet, once belonging to Queen Anne, and presented by George III. to the Warwick family. The walls are hung with Brussels tapestry, representing the gardens of Versailles as they were at the time. The chimney-piece, which is sculptured of verde antique and white marble, supports two black marble vases on its mantel. Over the mantel-piece is a full-length portrait of Queen Anne, in a rich brocade dress, wearing the collar and jewels of the Garter, bearing in one hand a sceptre, and in the other a globe. There are two splendid buhl cabinets in the room, and a table of costly stone from Italy; it is mounted on a richly carved and gilt stand.

The boudoir, which adjoins, is hung with pea-green satin and velvet. In this room is one of the most authentic portraits of Henry VIII., by Holbein, in which that selfish, brutal, unfeeling tyrant is veritably set forth, with all the gold and gems which, in his day, blinded mankind; his fat, white hands were beautifully painted. Men have found out Henry VIII. by this time; he is a dead sinner, and nothing more is to be expected of him, and so he gets a just award; but the disposition which bows down and worships any thing of any character in our day which is splendid and successful, and excuses all moral delinquencies, if they are only available, is not a whit better than that which cringed before Henry.

In the same room was a boar hunt, by Rubens, a disagreeable subject, but wrought with wonderful power. There were several other pictures of Holbein's in this room; one of Martin Luther.

We passed through a long corridor, whose sides were lined with pictures, statues, busts, &c. Out of the multitude, three particularly interested me; one was a noble but melancholy bust of the Black Prince, beautifully chiselled in white marble; another was a plaster cast, said to have been taken of the face of Oliver Cromwell immediately after death. The face had a homely strength amounting almost to coarseness. The evidences of its genuineness appear in glancing at it; every thing is authentic, even to the wart on his lip; no one would have imagined such a one, but the expression was noble and peaceful, bringing to mind the oft-quoted words,--

"After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well."

At the end of the same corridor is a splendid picture of Charles I. on horseback, by Vandyke, a most masterly performance, and appearing in its position almost like a reality. Poor Charles had rather hard measure, it always seemed to me. He simply did as all other princes had done before him; that is to say, he lied steadily, invariably, and conscientiously, in every instance where he thought he could gain any thing by it, just as Charles V., and Francis IV., and Catharine de Medicis, and Henry VIII., and Elizabeth, and James, and all good royal folks had always done; and lo! _he must lose his head for it. His was altogether a more gentlemanly and respectable performance than that of Henry, not wanting in a sort of ideal magnificence, which his brutal predecessor, or even his shambling old father never dreamed of. But so it is; it is not always on those who are sinners above all men that the tower of Siloam falls, but only on those who happen to be under it when its time comes. So I intend to cherish a little partiality for gentlemanly, magnificent Charles I.; and certainly one could get no more splendid idea of him than by seeing him stately, silent, and melancholy on his white horse, at the end of this long corridor. There he sits, facing the calm, stony, sleeping face of Oliver, and neither question or reply passes between them.

From this corridor we went into the chapel, whose Gothic windows, filled with rich, old painted glass, cast a many-colored light over the oak-carved walls and altar-piece. The ceiling is of fine, old oak, wrought with the arms of the family. The window over the altar is the gift of the Earl of Essex. This room is devoted to the daily religious worship of the family. It has been the custom of the present earl in former years to conduct the devotions of the family here himself.

About this time my head and eyes came to that point which Solomon intimates to be not commonly arrived at by mortals--when the eye is satisfied with seeing. I remember a confused ramble through apartment after apartment, but not a single thing in them, except two pictures of Salvator Rosa's, which I thought extremely ugly, and was told, as people always are when they make such declarations, that the difficulty was entirely in myself, and that if I would study them two or three months in faith, I should perceive something very astonishing. This may be, but it holds equally good of the coals of an evening fire, or the sparks on a chimney back; in either of which, by resolute looking, and some imagination, one can see any thing he chooses. I utterly distrust this process, by which old black pictures are looked into shape; but then I have nothing to lose, being in the court of the Gentiles in these matters, and obstinately determined not to believe in any real presence in art which I cannot perceive by my senses.

After having examined all the upper stories, we went down into the vaults underneath--vaults once grim and hoary, terrible to captives and feudal enemies, now devoted to no purpose more grim than that of coal cellars and wine vaults. In Oliver's time, a regiment was quartered there: they are extensive enough, apparently, for an army.

The kitchen and its adjuncts are of magnificent dimensions, and indicate an amplitude in the way of provision for good cheer worthy an ancient house; and what struck me as a still better feature was a library of sound, sensible, historical, and religious works for the servants.

We went into the beer vaults, where a man drew beer into a long black jack, such as Scott describes. It is a tankard, made of black leather, I should think half a yard deep. He drew the beer from a large hogshead, and offered us some in a glass. It looked very clear, but, on tasting, I found it so exceedingly bitter that it struck me there would be small virtue for me in abstinence.

In passing up to go out of the house, we met in the entry two pleasant-looking young women, dressed in white muslin. As they passed us, a door opened where a table was handsomely set out, at which quite a number of well-dressed people were seating themselves. I withdrew my eyes immediately, fearing lest I had violated some privacy. Our conductor said to us, "That is the upper servants' dining room."

Once in the yard again, we went to see some of the older parts of the building. The oldest of these, Caesar's Tower, which is said to go back to the time of the Romans, is not now shown to visitors. Beneath it is a dark, damp dungeon, where prisoners used to be confined, the walls of which are traced all over with inscriptions and rude drawings.

Then you are conducted to Guy's Tower, named, I suppose, after the hero of the green dragon and dun cow. Here are five tiers of guard rooms, and by the ascent of a hundred and thirty-three steps you reach the battlements, where you gain a view of the whole court and grounds, as well as of the beautiful surrounding landscape.

In coming down from this tower, we somehow or other got upon the ramparts, which connect it with the great gate. We walked on the wall four abreast, and played that we were knights and ladies of the olden time, walking on the ramparts. And I picked a bough from an old pine tree that grew over our heads; it much resembled our American yellow pitch pine.

Then we went down and crossed the grounds to the greenhouse, to see the famous Warwick vase. The greenhouse is built with a Gothic stone front, situated on a fine point in the landscape. And there, on a pedestal, surrounded by all manner of flowering shrubs, stands this celebrated antique. It is of white marble, and was found at the bottom of a lake near Adrian's villa, in Italy. They say that it holds a hundred and thirty-six gallons; constructed, I suppose, in the roistering old drinking times of the Roman emperors, when men seem to have discovered that the grand object for which they were sent into existence was to perform the functions of wine skins. It is beautifully sculptured with grape leaves, and the skin and claws of the panther--these latter certainly not an inappropriate emblem of the god of wine, beautiful, but dangerous.

Well, now it was all done. Merodach Baladan had not a more perfect _expose of the riches of Hezekiah than we had of the glories of Warwick. One always likes to see the most perfect thing of its kind; and probably this is the most perfect specimen of the feudal ages yet remaining in England.

As I stood with Joseph Sturge under the old cedars of Lebanon, and watched the multitude of tourists, and parties of pleasure, who were thronging the walks, I said to him, "After all, this establishment amounts to a public museum and pleasure grounds for the use of the people." He assented. "And," said I, "you English people like these things; you like these old magnificent seats, kept up by old families." "That is what I tell them," said Joseph Sturge. "I tell them there is no danger in enlarging the suffrage, for the people would not break up these old establishments if they could." On that point, of course, I had no means of forming an opinion.

One cannot view an institution so unlike any thing we have in our own country without having many reflections excited, for one of these estates may justly be called an institution; it includes within itself all the influence on a community of a great model farm, of model housekeeping, of a general museum of historic remains, and of a gallery of fine arts.

It is a fact that all these establishments through England are, at certain fixed hours, thrown open for the inspection of whoever may choose to visit them, with no other expense than the gratuity which custom requires to be given to the servant who shows them. I noticed, as we passed from one part of the ground to another, that our guides changed--one part apparently being the perquisite of one servant, and one of another. Many of the servants who showed them appeared to be superannuated men, who probably had this post as one of the dignities and perquisites of their old age.

The influence of these estates on the community cannot but be in many respects beneficial, and should go some way to qualify the prejudice with which republicans are apt to contemplate any thing aristocratic; for although the legal title to these things inheres in but one man, yet in a very important sense they belong to the whole community, indeed, to universal humanity. It may be very undesirable and unwise to wish to imitate these institutions in America, and yet it may be illiberal to undervalue them as they stand in England. A man would not build a house, in this nineteenth century, on the pattern of a feudal castle; and yet where the feudal castle is built, surely its antique grace might plead somewhat in its favor, and it may be better to accommodate it to modern uses, than to level it, and erect a modern mansion in its place.

Nor, since the world is wide, and now being rapidly united by steam into one country, does the objection to these things, on account of the room they take up, seem so great as formerly. In the million of square miles of the globe there is room enough for all sorts of things.

With such reflections the lover of the picturesque may comfort himself, hoping that he is not sinning against the useful in his admiration of the beautiful.

One great achievement of the millennium, I trust, will be in uniting these two elements, which have ever been contending. There was great significance in the old Greek fable which represented Venus as the divinely-appointed helpmeet of Vulcan, and yet always quarrelling with him.

We can scarce look at the struggling, earth-bound condition of useful labor through the world without joining in the beautiful aspiration of our American poet,--

"Surely, the wiser time shall come
When this fine overplus of might,
No longer sullen, slow, and dumb,
Shall leap to music and to light.

In that new childhood of the world
Life of itself shall dance and play,
Fresh blood through Time's shrunk veins be hurled,
And labor meet delight half way."(M)

(Footnote M: James Russell Lowell's "Beaver Brook.")

In the new state of society which we are trying to found in America, it must be our effort to hasten the consummation. These great estates of old countries may keep it for their share of the matter to work out perfect models, while we will seize the ideas thus elaborated, and make them the property of the million.

As we were going out, we stopped a little while at the porter's lodge to look at some relics.

Now, I dare say that you have been thinking, all the while, that these stories about the wonderful Guy are a sheer fabrication, or, to use a convenient modern term, a myth. Know, then, that the identical armor belonging to him is still preserved here; to wit, the sword, about seven feet long, a shield, helmet, breastplate, and tilting pole, together with his porridge pot, which holds one hundred and twenty gallons, and a large fork, as they call it, about three feet long; I am inclined to think this must have been his toothpick! His sword weighs twenty pounds.

There is, moreover, a rib of the mastodon cow which he killed, hung up for the terror of all refractory beasts of that name in modern days.

Furthermore, know, then, that there are authentic documents in the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, showing that the family run back to within four years after the birth of Christ, so that there is abundance of time for them to have done a little of almost every thing. It appears that they have been always addicted to exploits, since we read of one of them, soon after the Christian era, encountering a giant, who ran upon him with a tree which he had snapped off for the purpose, for it seems giants were not nice in the choice of weapons; but the chronicler says, "The Lord had grace with him, and overcame the giant," and in commemoration of this event the family introduced into their arms the ragged staff.

It is recorded of another of the race, that he was one of seven children born at a birth, and that all the rest of his brothers and sisters were, by enchantment, turned into swans with gold collars. This remarkable case occurred in the time of the grandfather of Sir Guy, and of course, if we believe this, we shall find no difficulty in the case of the cow, or any thing else.

There is a very scarce book in the possession of a gentleman of Warwick, written by one Dr. John Kay, or caius, in which he gives an account of the rare and peculiar animals of England in 1552. In this he mentioned seeing the bones of the head and the vertebrae of the neck of an enormous animal at Warwick Castle. He states that the shoulder blade was hung up by chains from the north gate of Coventry, and that a rib of the same animal was hanging up in the chapel of Guy, Earl of Warwick, and that the people fancied it to be the rib of a cow which haunted a ditch near Coventry, and did injury to many persons; and he goes on to imagine that this may be the bone of a bonasus or a urus. He says, "It is probable many animals of this kind formerly lived in our England, being of old an island full of woods and forests, because even in our boyhood the horns of these animals were in common use at the table." The story of Sir Guy is furthermore quite romantic, and contains some circumstances very instructive to all ladies. For the chronicler asserts, "that Dame Felye, daughter and heire to Erle Rohand, for her beauty called Fely le Belle, or Felys the Fayre, by true enheritance, was Countesse of Warwyke, and lady and wyfe to the most victoriouse Knight, Sir Guy, to whom in his woing tyme she made greate straungeres, and caused him, for her sake, to put himself in meny greate distresses, dangers, and perills; but when they were wedded, and b'en but a little season together, he departed from her, to her greate hevynes, and never was conversant with her after, to her understandinge." That this may not appear to be the result of any revengeful spirit on the part of Sir Guy, the chronicler goes on further to state his motives--that, after his marriage, considering what he had done for a woman's sake, he thought to spend the other part of his life for God's sake, and so departed from his lady in pilgrim weeds, which raiment he kept to his life's end. After wandering about a good many years he settled in a hermitage, in a place not far from the castle, called Guy's Cliff, and when his lady distributed food to beggars at the castle gate, was in the habit of coming among them to receive alms, without making himself known to her. It states, moreover, that two days before his death an angel informed him of the time of his departure, and that his lady would die a fortnight after him, which happening accordingly, they were both buried in the grave together. A romantic cavern, at the place called Guy's Cliff, is shown as the dwelling of the recluse. The story is a curious relic of the religious ideas of the times.

On our way from the castle we passed by Guy's Cliff, which is at present the seat of the Hon. C.B. Percy. The establishment looked beautifully from the road, as we saw it up a long avenue of trees; it is one of the places travellers generally examine, but as we were bound for Kenilworth we were content to take it on trust. It is but a short drive from there to Kenilworth. We got there about the middle of the afternoon. Kenilworth has been quite as extensive as Warwick, though now entirely gone to ruins. I believe Oliver Cromwell's army have the credit of finally dismantling it. Cromwell seems literally to have left his mark on his generation, for I never saw a ruin in England when I did not hear that he had something to do with it. Every broken arch and ruined battlement seemed always to find a sufficient account of itself by simply enunciating the word Cromwell. And when we see how much the Puritans arrayed against themselves all the aesthetic principles of our nature, we can somewhat pardon those who did not look deeper than the surface, for the prejudice with which they regarded the whole movement; a movement, however, of which we, and all which is most precious to us, are the lineal descendants and heirs.

We wandered over the ruins, which are very extensive, and which Scott, with his usual vivacity and accuracy, has restored and repeopled. We climbed up into Amy Robsart's chamber; we scrambled into one of the arched windows of what was formerly the great dining hall, where Elizabeth feasted in the midst of her lords and ladies, and where every stone had rung to the sound of merriment and revelry. The windows are broken out; it is roofless and floorless, waving and rustling with pendent ivy, and vocal with the song of hundreds of little birds.

We wandered from room to room, looking up and seeing in the walls the desolate fireplaces, tier over tier, the places where the beams of the floors had gone into the walls, and still the birds continued their singing every where.

Nothing affected me more than this ceaseless singing and rejoicing of birds in these old gray ruins. They seemed so perfectly joyous and happy amid the desolations, so airy and fanciful in their bursts of song, so ignorant and careless of the deep meaning of the gray desolation around them, that I could not but be moved. It was nothing to them how these stately, sculptured walls became lonely and ruinous, and all the weight of a thousand thoughts and questionings which arise to us is never even dreamed by them. They sow not, neither do they reap, but their heavenly Father feeds them; and so the wilderness and the desolate place is glad in them, and they are glad in the wilderness and desolate place.

It was a beautiful conception, this making of birds. Shelley calls them "imbodied joys;" and Christ says, that amid the vaster ruins of man's desolation, ruins more dreadfully suggestive than those of sculptured frieze and architrave, we can yet live a bird's life of unanxious joy; or, as Martin Luther beautifully paraphrases it, "We can be like a bird, that sits singing on his twig and lets God think for him."

The deep consciousness that we are ourselves ruined, and that this world is a desolation more awful, and of more sublime material, and wrought from stuff of higher temper than ever was sculptured in hall or cathedral, this it must be that touches such deep springs of sympathy in the presence of ruins. We, too, are desolate, shattered, and scathed; there are traceries and columns of celestial workmanship; there are heaven-aspiring arches, splendid colonnades and halls, but fragmentary all. Yet above us bends an all-pitying Heaven, and spiritual voices and callings in our hearts, like these little singing birds, speak of a time when almighty power shall take pleasure in these stones, and favor the dust thereof.

We sat on the top of the strong tower, and looked off into the country, and talked a good while. Some of the ivy that mantles this building has a trunk as large as a man's body, and throws out numberless strong arms, which, interweaving, embrace and interlace half-falling towers, and hold them up in a living, growing mass of green.

The walls of one of the oldest towers are sixteen feet thick. The lake, which Scott speaks of, is dried up and grown over with rushes. The former moat presents only a grassy hollow. What was formerly a gate house is still inhabited by the family who have the care of the building. The land around the gate house is choicely and carefully laid out, and has high, clipped hedges of a species of variegated holly.

Thus much of old castles and ivy. Farewell to Kenilworth.

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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 12 Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 12

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 12
LETTER XIIMY DEAR H.:--After leaving Kenilworth we drove to Coventry we took the cars again. This whole ride from Stratford to Warwick, and on to Coventry, answers more to my ideas of old England than any thing I have seen; it is considered one of the most beautiful parts of the kingdom. It has quaint old houses, and a certain air of rural, picturesque quiet, which is very charming.Coventry is old and queer, with narrow streets and curious houses, famed for the ancient legend of Godiva, one of those beautiful myths that grow, like the mistletoe, on the bare branches

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 10 Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 10

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 - Letter 10
LETTER XMY DEAR H.:--It was a rainy, misty morning when I left my kind retreat and friends in Edinburgh. Considerate as every body had been about imposing on my time or strength, still you may well believe that I was much exhausted.We left Edinburgh, therefore, with the determination to plunge at once into some hidden and unknown spot we might spend two or three days quietly by ourselves; and remembering your Sunday at Stratford-on-Avon, I proposed that we should go there. As Stratford, however, is off the railroad line we determined to accept the invitation, which was lying by us,