Pilgrimage to Old Boston

WE set out at a little past eleven, and made our first stage to Manchester. We were by this time sufficiently Anglicized to reckon the morning a bright and sunny one ; although the May sunshine was mingled with water, as it were, and distempered with a very bitter east-wind.

Lancashire is a dreary county, (all, at least, except its hilly portions,) and I have never passed through it without wishing myself anywhere but in that particular spot where I then happened to be. A few places along our route were historically interesting; as, for example, Bolton, which was the scene of many remarkable events in the Parliamentary War, and in the market-square of which one of the Earls of Derby was beheaded. We saw, along the way-side, the neverfailing green fields, hedges, and other monotonous features of an ordinary English landscape. There were little factory villages, too, or larger towns, with their tall chimneys, and their pennons of black smoke, their uglinesses of brick-work, and their heaps of refuse matter from the furnace, which seems to be the only kind of stuff which Nature cannot take back to herself and resolve into the elements, when man has thrown it aside. These hillocks of waste and effete mineral always disfigure the neighborhood of ironmongering towns, and, even after a considerable antiquity, are hardly made decent with a little grass.

At a quarter to two we left Manchester by the Sheffield and Lincoln Railway. The scenery grew rather better than that through which we had hitherto passed, though still by no means very striking; for (except in the show-districts, such as the Lake country, or Derbyshire) English scenery is not particularly well worth looking at, considered as a spectacle or a picture. It has a real, homely charm of its own, no doubt ; and the rich verdure, and the thorough finish added by human art, are perhaps as attractive to an American eye as any stronger feature could be. Our journey, however, between Manchester and Sheffield was not through a rich tract of country, but along a valley walled in by bleak, ridgy hills extending straight as a rampart, and across black moorlands with here and there a plantation of trees. Sometimes there were long and gradual ascents, bleak, windy, and desolate, conveying the very impression which the reader gets from many passages of Miss Bronté’s novels, and still more from those of her two sisters. Old stone or brick farm-houses, and, once in a while, an old church-tower, were visible : but these are almost too common objects to be noticed in an English landscape.

On a railway, I suspect, what little we do see of the country is seen quite amiss, because it was never intended to be looked at from any point of view in that straight line; so that it is like looking at the wrong side of a piece of tapestry. The old highways and footpaths were as natural as brooks and rivulets, and adapted themselves by an inevitable impulse to the physiognomy of the country ; and, furthermore, every object within view of them had some subtile reference to their curves and undulations : but the line of a railway is perfectly artificial, and puts all precedent things at sixes-and-sevens. At any rate, be the cause what it may, there is seldom anything worth seeing within the scope of a railway traveller’s eye; and if there were, it requires an alert marksman to take a flying shot at the picturesque.

At one of the stations, (it was near a village of ancient aspect, nestling round a church, on a wide Yorkshire moor,) I saw a tall old lady in black, who seemed to have just alighted from the train. She caught my attention by a singular movement of the head, not once only, but continually repeated, and at regular intervals, as if she were making a stern and solemn protest against some action that developed itself before her eyes, and were foreboding terrible disaster, if it should be persisted in. Of course, it was nothing more than a paralytic or nervous affection ; yet one might fancy that it had its origin in some unspeakable wrong, perpetrated half a lifetime ago in this old gentlewoman’s presence, either against herself or somebody whom she loved still better. Her features had a wonderful sternness, which, I presume, was caused by her habitual effort to compose and keep them quiet, and thereby counteract the tendency to paralytic movement. The slow, regular, and inexorable character of the motion, — her look of force and self-control, which had the appearance of rendering it voluntary, while yet it was so fateful,— have stamped this poor lady's face and gesture into my memory; so that, some dark day or other, I am afraid she will reproduce herself in a dismal romance.

The train stopped a minute or two, to allow the tickets to be taken, just before entering the Sheffield station, and thence I had a glimpse of the famous town of razors and penknives, enveloped in a cloud of its own diffusing. My impressions of it are extremely vague and misty, — or, rather, smoky: for Sheffield seems to me smokier than Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, — smokier than all England besides, unless Newcastle be the exception. It might have been Pluto’s own metropolis, shrouded in sulphurous vapor; and, indeed, our approach to it had been by the Valley of the Shadow of Death, through a tunnel three miles in length, quite traversing the breadth and depth of a mountainous hill.

After passing Sheffield, the scenery became softer, gentler, yet more picturesque. At one point we saw what I believe to be the utmost northern verge of Sherwood Forest, — not consisting, however, of thousand-year oaks, extant from Robin Hood’s days, but of young and thriving plantations, which will require a century or two of slow English growth to give them much breadth of shade. Earl Fitzwilliam’s property lies in this neighborhood, and probably his castle was hidden among some soft depth of foliage not far off. Farther onward the country grew quite level around us, whereby I judged that we must now be in Lincolnshire ; and shortly after six o’clock we caught the first glimpse of the Cathedral towers, though they loomed scarcely huge enough for our preconceived idea of them. But, as we drew nearer, the great edifice began to assert itself, making us acknowledge it to be larger than our receptivity could take in.

At the railway-station we found no cab, (it being an unknown vehicle in Lincoln,) but only an omnibus belonging to the Saracen’s Head, which the driver recommended as the best hotel in the city, and took us thither accordingly. It received us hospitably, and looked comfortable enough; though, like the hotels of most old English towns, it had a musty fragrance of antiquity, such as I have smelt in a seldom-opened London church where the broad-aisle is paved with tombstones. The house was of an ancient fashion, the entrance into its interior court-yard being through an arch, in the side of which is the door of the hotel There are long corridors, an intricate arrangement of passages, and an up-anddown meandering of staircases, amid which it would be no marvel to encounter some forgotten guest who had gone astray a hundred years ago, and was still seeking for his bed-room while the rest of his generation were in their graves. There is no exaggerating the confusion of mind that seizes upon a stranger in the bewildering geography of a great old-fashioned English inn.

This hotel stands in the principal street of Lincoln, and within a very short distance of one of the ancient city-gates, which is arched across the public way, with a smaller arch for foot-passengers on either side ; the whole, a gray, timegnawn, ponderous, shadowy structure, through the dark vista of which you look into the Middle Ages. The street is narrow, and retains many antique peculiarities ; though, unquestionably, English domestic architecture has lost its most impressive features, in the course of the last century. In this respect, there are finer old towns than Lincoln : Chester, for instance, and Shrewsbury, — which last is unusually rich in those quaint and stately edifices where the gentry of the shire used to make their winter-abodes, in a provincial metropolis. Almost everywhere, nowadays, there is a monotony of modern brick or stuccoed fronts, hiding houses that are older than ever, but obliterating the picturesque antiquity of the street.

Between Seven and eight o’clock (it being still broad daylight in these long English days) we set out to pay a preliminary visit to the exterior of the Cathedral. Passing through the Stone Bow, as the city-gate close by is called, we ascended a street which grew steeper and narrower as we advanced, till at last it got to be the steepest street I ever climbed, — so steep that any carriage, if left to itself, would rattle down ward much faster than it could possibly be drawn up. Being almost the only hill in Lincolnshire, the inhabitants seem disposed to make the most of it. The houses on each side had no very remarkable aspect, except one with a stone portal and carved ornaments, which is now a dwelling-place for poverty-stricken people, but may have been an aristocratic abode in the days of the Norman kings, to whom its style of architecture dates back. This is called the Jewess’s House, having been inhabited by a woman of that faith who was hanged six hundred years ago.

And still the street grew steeper and steeper. Certainly, the Bishop and clergy of Lincoln ought not to be fat men, but of very spiritual, saint-like, almost angelic habit, if it be a frequent part of their ecclesiastical duty to climb this hill; for it is a real penance, and was probably performed as such, and groaned over accordingly, in monkish times. Formerly, on the day of his installation, the Bishop used to ascend the hill barefoot, and was doubtless cheered and invigorated by looking upward to the grandeur that was to console him for the humility of his approach. We, likewise, were beckoned onward by glimpses of the Cathedral towers, and, finally, attaining an open square on the summit, we saw an old Gothic gateway to the left hand, and another to the right. The latter had apparently been a part of the exterior defences of the Cathedral, at a time when the edifice was fortified. The west front rose behind. We passed through one of the side-arches of the Gothic portal, and found ourselves in the Cathedral Close, a wide, level space, where the great old Minster has fair room to sit, looking down on the ancient structures that surround it, all of which, in former days, were the habitations of its dignitaries and officers. Some of them are still occupied as such, though others are in too neglected and dilapidated a state to seem worthy of so splendid an establishment. Unless it be Salisbury Close, however, (which is incomparably rich as regards the old residences that belong to it.) I remember no more comfortably picturesque precincts round any other cathedral. But, in truth, almost every cathedral close, in turn, has seemed to me the loveliest, coziest, safest, least wind-shaken, most decorous, and most enjoyable shelter that ever the thrift and selfishness of mortal man contrived for himself. How delightful, to combine all this with the service of the temple !

Lincoln Cathedral is built of a yellowish brown-stone, which appears either to have been largely restored, or else does not assume the hoary, crumbly surface that gives such a venerable aspect to most of the ancient churches and castles in England. In many parts, the recent restorations are quite evident; but other, and much the larger portions, can scarcely have been touched for centuries : for there are still the gargoyles, perfect, or with broken noses, as the case may be, but showing that variety and fertility of grotesque extravagance which no modern imitation can effect. There are innumerable niches, too, up the whole height of the towers, above and around the entrance, and all over the walls: most of them empty, but a few containing the lamentable remnants of headless saints and angels. It is singular what a native animosity lives in the human heart against carved images, insomuch that, whether they represent Christian saint or Pagan deity, all unsophisticated men seize the first safe opportunity to knock off their heads ! In spite of all dilapidations, however, the effect of the west front of the Cathedral is still exceedingly rich, being covered from massive base to airy summit with the minutest details of sculpture and carving: at least, it was so once; and even now the spiritual impression of its beauty remains so strong, that we have to look twice to see that much of it has been obliterated. I have seen a cherry-stone carved all over by a monk, so minutely that it must have cost him half a lifetime of labor; and this cathedral front seems to have been elaborated in a monkish spirit, like that cherry-stone. Not that the result is in the least petty, but miraculously grand, and all the more so for the faithful beauty of the smallest details.

An elderly man, seeing us looking up at the west front, came to the door of an adjacent house, and called to inquire it we wished to go into the Cathedral; but as there would have been a dusky twilight beneath its roof, like the antiquity that has sheltered itself within, we declined for the present. So we merely walked round the exterior, and thought it more beautiful than that of York ; though, on recollection, I hardly deem it so majestic and mighty as that. It is vain to attempt a description, or seek even to record the feeling which the edifice inspires. It does not impress the beholder as an inanimate object, but as something that has a vast, quiet, long-enduring life of its own, — a creation which man did not build, though in some way or other it is connected with him, and kindred to human nature. In short, I fall straightway to talking nonsense, when I try to express my inner sense of this and other cathedrals.

While we stood in the close, at the eastern end of the Minster, the clock chimed the quarters; and then Great Tom, who hangs in the Rood Tower, told us it was eight o'clock, in far the sweetest and mightiest accents that I ever heard from any bell,— slow, and solemn, and allowing the profound reverberations of each stroke to die away before the next one fell. It was still broad daylight in that upper region of the town, and would be so for some time longer; but the evening atmosphere was getting sharp and cool. We therefore descended the steep street,—our younger companion running before us, and gathering such headway that I fully expected him to break his head against some projecting wall.

In the morning we took a fly, (an English term for an exceedingly sluggish vehicle,) and drove up to the Minster by a road rather less steep and abrupt than the one we had previously climbed. We alighted before the west front, and sent our charioteer in quest of the verger; but, as he was not Immediately to be found, a young girl let us into the nave. We found it very grand, it is needless to say, but not so grand, methought, as the vast nave of York Cathedral, especially beneath the great central tower of the latter. Unless a writer intends a professedly architectural description, there is but one set of phrases in which to talk of all the cathedrals in England, and elsewhere. They are alike in their great features : an acre or two of stone flags for a pavement; rows of vast columns supporting a vaulted roof at a dusky height; great windows, sometimes richly bedimmed with ancient or modern stained glass ; an elaborately carved screen between the nave and chancel, breaking the vista that might else be of such glorious length, and which is further choked up by a massive organ,—in spite of which obstructions, you catch the broad, variegated glimmer of the painted east window, where a hundred saints wear their robes of transfiguration. Within the screen are the carved oaken stalls of the Chapter and Prebendaries, the Bishop’s throne, the pulpit, the altar, and whatever else may furnish out the Holy of Holies. Nor must we forget the range of chapels, (once dedicated to Catholic saints, but which have now lost their individual consecration.) nor the old monuments of kings, warriors, and prelates, in the side-aisles of the chancel. In close Contiguity to the main body of the Cathedral is the Chapter-House, which, here at Lincoln, as at Salisbury, is supported by one central pillar rising from the floor, and putting forth branches like a tree, to hold up the roof. Adjacent to the Chapter-House are the cloisters, extending round a quadrangle, and paved with lettered tombstones, the more antique of which have had their inscriptions half obliterated by the feet of monks taking their noontide exercise in these sheltered walks, five hundred years ago. Some of these old burial-stones, although with ancient crosses engraved upon them, have been made to serve as memorials to dead people of very recent date.

In the chancel, among the tombs of forgotten bishops and knights, we saw an immense slab of stone purporting to be the monument of Catherine Swineferd, wife of John of Gaunt; also, here was the shrine of the little Saint Hugh, that Christian child who was fabled to have been crucified by the Jews of Lincoln. The Cathedral is not particularly rich in monuments ; for it suffered grievous outrage and dilapidation, both at the Reformation and in Cromwell’s time. This latter iconoclast is in especially bad odor with the sextons and vergers of most of the old churches which I have visited. His soldiers stabled their steeds in the nave of Lincoln Cathedral, and hacked and hewed the monkish sculptures, and the ancestral memorials of great families, quite at their wicked and plebeian pleasure. Nevertheless, there are some most exquisite and marvellous specimens of flowers, foliage, and grape-vines, and miracles of stone-work twined about arches, as if the material had been as soft as wax in the cunning sculptor's hands, — the leaves being represented with all their veins, so that you would almost think it petrified Nature, for which he sought to steal the praise of Art. Here, too, were those grotesque faces which always grin at you from the projections of monkish architecture, as if the builders had gone mad with their own deep solemnity, or dreaded such a catastrophe, unless permitted to throw in something ineffably absurd.

Originally, it is supposed, all the pillars of this great edifice, and all these magic sculptures, were polished to the utmost degree of lustre ; nor is it unreasonable to think that the artists would have taken these further pains, when they had already bestowed so much labor in work ing out their conceptions to the extremest point. But, at present, the whole interior of the Cathedral is smeared over with a yellowish wash, the very meanest hue imaginable, and for which somebody’s soul has a bitter reckoning to undergo.

In the centre of the grassy quadrangle about which the cloisters perambulate is a small, mean, brick building, with a locked door. Our guide,— I forgot to say that we had been captured by a verger, in black, and with a white tie, but of a lusty and jolly aspect, — our guide unlocked this door, and disclosed a flight of steps. At the bottom appeared what I should have taken to be a large square of dim, worn, and faded oil-carpeting, which might originally have been painted of a rather gaudy pattern. This was a Roman tessellated pavement, made of small colored bricks, or pieces of burnt clay. It was accidentally discovered here, and has not been meddled with, further than by removing the superincumbent earth and rubbish.

Nothing else occurs to me, just now, to be recorded about the interior of the Cathedral, except that we saw a place where the stone pavement had been worn away by the feet of ancient pilgrims scraping upon it, as they knelt down before a shrine of the Virgin.

Leaving the Minster, we now went along a street of more venerable appearance than we had heretofore seen, bordered with houses, the high, peaked roofs of which were covered with red earthen tiles. It led us to a Roman arch, which was once the gateway of a fortification, and has been striding across the English street ever since the latter was a faint villagepath, and for centuries before. The arch is about four hundred yards from the Cathedral; and it is to be noticed that there are Roman remains in all this neighborhood, some above ground, and doubtless innumerable more beneath it; for, as in ancient Rome itself, an inundation of accumulated soil seems to have swept over what was the surface of that earlier day. The gateway which I am speaking about is probably buried to a third of its height, and perhaps has as perfect a Roman pavement (if sought for at the original depth) as that which runs beneath the Arch of Titus. It is a rude and massive structure, and seems as stalwart now as it could have been two thousand years ago; and though Time has gnawed it externally, he has made what amends he could by crowning its rough and broken summit with grass and weeds, and planting tufts of yellow flowers on the projections up and down the sides.

There are the ruins of a Norman castle, built by the Conqueror, in pretty close proximity to the Cathedral ; but the old gateway is obstructed by a modern door of wood, and we were denied admittance because some part of the precincts are used as a prison. We now rambled about on the broad back of the hill, which, besides the Minster and ruined castle, is the site of some stately and queer old houses, and of many mean little hovels. I suspect that all or most of the life of the present day has subsided into the lower town, and that only priests, poor people, and prisoners dwell in these upper regions. In the wide, dry moat at the base of the castle-wall are clustered whole colonies of small houses, some of brick, but the larger portion built of old stones which once made part of the Norman keep, or of Roman structures that existed before the Conqueror’s castle was ever dreamed about. They are like toadstools that spring up from the mould of a decaying tree. Ugly as they are, they add wonderfully to the picturesqueness of the scene, being quite as valuable, in that respect, as the great, broad, ponderous ruin of the castle-keep, which rose high above our heads, heaving its huge gray mass out of a bank of green foliage and ornamental shrubbery, such as lilacs and other flowering-plants, in which its foundations were completely hidden.

After walking quite round the castle, I made an excursion through the Roman gateway, along a pleasant and level road bordered with dwellings of various character. One or two were houses of gen. tility, with delightful and shadowy lawns before them ; many had those high, redtiled roofs, ascending into acutely pointed gables, which seem to belong to the same epoch as some of the edifices in our own earlier towns; and there were pleasantlooking cottages, very sylvan and rural, with hedges so dense and high, fencing them in, as almost to hide them up to the eaves of their thatched roofs. In front of one of these I saw various images, crosses, and relics of antiquity, among which were fragments of old Catholic tombstones, disposed by way of ornament.

We now went home to the Saracen’s Head; and as the weather was very unpropitious, and it sprinkled a little now and then, I would gladly have felt myself released from further thraldom to the Cathedral. But it had taken possession of me, and would not let me be at rest; so at length I found myself compelled to climb the hill again, between daylight and dusk. A mist was now hovering about the upper height of the great central tower, so as to dim and half obliterate its battlements and pinnacles, even while I stood in the close beneath it. It was the most impressive view that I had had. The whole lower part of the structure was seen with perfect distinctness; but at the very summit the mist was so dense as to form an actual cloud, as well defined as ever I saw resting on a mountain-top. Really and literally, here was a “ cloud-capt tower.”

The entire Cathedral, too, transfigured itself into a richer beauty and more imposing majesty than ever. The longer I looked, the better I loved it. Its exterior is certainly far more beautiful than that of York Minster ; and its finer effect is due, I think, to the many peaks in which the structure ascends, and to the pinnacles which, as it were, repeat and reecho them into the sky. York Cathedral is comparatively square and angular in its general effect; but here there is a continual mystery of variety, so that at every glance you are aware of a change, and a disclosure of something new, yet working an harmonious development of what you have heretofore seen. The west front is unspeakably grand, and may be read over and over again forever, and still show undetected meanings, like a great, broad page of marvellous writing in blackletter,— so many sculptured ornaments there are, blossoming out before your eyes, and gray statues that have grown there since you looked last, and empty niches, and a hundred airy canopies beneath which carved images used to be, and where they will show themselves again, if you gaze long enough. — But I will not say another word about the Cathedral.

We spent the rest of the day within the sombre precincts of the Saracen’s Head, reading yesterday’s “ Times,” “ The Guide-Book of Lincoln,” and “ The Directory of the Eastern Counties.” Dismal as the weather was, the street beneath our window was enlivened with a great bustle and turmoil of people all the evening, because it was Saturday night, and they had accomplished their week’s toil, received their wages, and were making their small purchases against Sunday, and enjoying themselves as well as they knew how, A band of music passed to and fro several times, with the rain-drops falling into the mouth of the brazen trumpet and pattering on the bass-drum; a spirit-shop, opposite the hotel, had a vast run of custom ; and a coffee-dealer, in the open air, found occasional vent for his commodity, in spite of the cold water that dripped into the cups. The whole breadth of the street, between the Stone Bow and the bridge across the Witham, was thronged to overflowing, and humming with human life.

Observing in the Guide-Book that a steamer runs on the River Witham between Lincoln and Boston, I inquired of the waiter, and learned that she was to start on Monday, at ten o’clock. Thinking it might be an interesting trip, and a pleasant variation of our customary mode of travel, we determined to make the voyage. The Witham flows through Lincoln, crossing the main street under an arched bridge of Gothic construction, a little below the Saracen’s Head. It has more the appearance of a canal than of a river, in its passage through the town,— being bordered with hewn stone masonwork on each side, and provided with one or two locks. The steamer proved to be small, dirty, and altogether inconvenient. The early morning had been bright; hut the sky now lowered upon us with a sulky English temper, and we had not long put off before we felt an ugly wind from the German Ocean blowing right in our teeth. There were a number of passengers on board, country-people, such as travel by third-class on the railway; for, I suppose, nobody but ourselves ever dreamt of voyaging by the steamer for the sake of what he might happen upon in the way of river-scenery.

We bothered a good while about getting through a preliminary lock ; nor, when fairly under way, did we ever accomplish, I think, six miles an hour. Constant delays were caused, moreover, by stopping to take up passengers and freight,— not at regular landing-places, but anywhere along the green banks. The scenery was identical with that of the railway, because the latter runs along by the river-side through the whole distance, or nowhere departs from it except to make a short cut across some sinuosity ; so that our only advantage lay in the drawling, snail-like slothfulness of our progress, which allowed us time enough and to spare for the objects along the shore. Unfortunately, there was nothing, or next to nothing, to be seen, — the country being one unvaried level over the whole thirty miles of our voyage, — not a hill in sight, either near or far, except that solitary one on the summit of which we had left Lincoln Cathedral. And the Cathedral was our landmark for four hours or more, and at last rather faded out, than was hidden by any intervening object.

It would have been a pleasantly lazy day enough, if the rough and bitter wind had not blown directly in our faces, and chilled us through, in spite of the sunshine that soon succeeded a sprinkle or two of rain. These English east-winds, which prevail from February till June, are greater nuisances than the east-wind of our own Atlantic coast, although they do not bring mist and storm, as with us, but some of the sunniest weather that England sees. Under their influence, the sky smiles and is villanous.

The landscape was tame to the last degree, but had an English character that was abundantly worth our looking at. A green luxuriance of early grass ; old, high-roofed farm-houses, surrounded by their stone barns and ricks of hay and grain ; ancient villages, with the square, gray tower of a church seen afar over the level country, amid the cluster of red roofs; here and there a shadowy grove of venerable trees, surrounding what was perhaps an Elizabethan hall, though it looked more like the abode of some rich yeoman. Once, too, we saw the tower of a mediæval castle, that of Tattershall, built by a Cromwell, but whether of the Protector's family I cannot tell. But the gentry do not appear to have settled multitudinously in this tract of country; nor is it to be wondered at, since a lover of the picturesque would as soon think of settling in Holland. The river retains its canal-like aspect all along; and only in the latter part of its course does it become more than wide enough for the little steamer to turn itself round, — at broadest, not more than twice that width.

The only memorable incident of our voyage happened when a mother-duck was leading her little fleet of five ducklings across the river, just as our steamer went swaggering by, stirring the quiet stream into great waves that lashed the banks on either side. I saw the imminence of the catastrophe, and hurried to the stern of the boat to witness, since I could not possibly avert it. The poor ducklings had uttered their baby-quacks, and striven with all their tiny might to escape: four of them, I believe, were washed aside and thrown off unhurt from the steamer’s prow; but the fifth must have gone under the whole length of the keel, and never could have come up alive.

At last, in mid-afternoon, we beheld the tall tower of Saint Botolph’s Church (three hundred feet high, the same elevation as the tallest tower of Lincoln Cathedral) looming in the distance. At about half-past four we reached Boston, (which name has been shortened, in the course of ages, by the quick and slovenly English pronunciation, from Botolph’s town,) and were taken by a cab to the Peacock, in the market-place. It was the best hotel in town, though a poor one enough ; and we were shown into a small, stifled parlor, dingy, musty, and scented with stale tobacco-smoke, — tobacco-smoke two days old, for the waiter assured us that the room had not more recently been fumigated. An exceedingly grim waiter he was, apparently a genuine descendant of the old Puritans of this English Boston, and quite as sour as those who peopled the daughter-city m New England. Our parlor had the one recommendation of looking into the market-place, and affording a sidelong glimpse of the tall spire and noble old church. daws evidently have pleasant homes in their hereditary nests among its topmost windows, and live delightful lives, flitting and cawing about its pinnacles and flyingbuttresses. I should almost like to be a jackdaw myself, for the sake of living up there.

In my first ramble about the town, chance led me to the river-side, at that quarter where the port is situated. Here were long buildings of an old-fashioned aspect, seemingly warehouses, with windows in the high, steep roofs. The Custom-House found ample accommodation within an ordinary dwelling-house. Two or three large schooners were moored along the river's brink, which had here a stone margin ; another large and handsome schooner was evidently just finished, rigged and equipped for her first voyage; the rudiments of another were on the stocks, in a ship-yard bordering on the river. Still another, while I was looking on, came up the stream, and lowered her main-sail, from a foreign voyage. An old man on the bank hailed her and inquired about her cargo ; but the Lincolnshire people have such a queer way of talking English that I could not understand the reply. Farther down the river, I saw a brig, approaching rapidly under sail. The whole scene made an odd impression of bustle, and sluggishness, and decay, and a remnant of wholesome life ; and I could not but contrast it with the mighty and populous activity of our own Boston, which was once the feeble infant of this old English town ; — the latter, perhaps, almost stationary ever since that day, as if the birth of such an offspring had taken away its own principle of growth. I thought of Long Wharf, and Faneuil Hall, and Washington Street, and the Great Elm, and the State-House, and exulted lustily,—but yet began to feel at home in this good old town, for its very name’s sake, as I never had before felt, in England.

The next morning we came out in the early sunshine, (the sun must have been shining nearly four hours, however, for it was after eight o’clock,) and strolled about the streets, like people who had a right to be there. The market-place of Boston is an irregular square, into one end of which the chancel of the church slightly projects. The gates of the church-yard were open and free to all passengers, and the common footway of the towns-people seems to lie to and fro across it. It is paved, according to English custom, with flat tombstones; and there are also raised, or altar-tombs, some of which have armorial bearings on them. One clergyman has caused himself and his wife to be buried right in the middle of the stone-bordered path that traverses the church-yard; so that not an individual of the thousands who pass along this public way can help trampling over him or her. The scene, nevertheless, was very cheerful in the morning sun : people going about their business in the day’s primal freshness, which was just as fresh here as in younger villages; children, with milk-pails, loitering over the burial-stones; schoolboys playing leap-frog with the altartombs ; the simple old town preparing itself for the day, which would be like myriads of other days that had passed over it, but yet would be worth living through. And down on the church-yard, where were buried many generations whom it remembered in their time, looked the stately tower of Saint Botolph; and it was good to see and think of such an age-long giant, intermarrying the present epoch with a distant past, and getting quite imbued with human nature by being so immemorially connected with men’s familiar knowledge and homely interests. It is a noble tower ; and the jackThe apartment was hung round with pictures and old engravings, many of which were extremely rare. Premising that he was going to show us something very curious, Mr. Porter went into the next room and returned with a counterpane of fine linen, elaborately embroidered with silk, which so profusely covered the linen that the general effect was as if the main texture were silken. It was stained, and seemed very old, and had an ancient fragrance. It was wrought all over with birds and flowers in a most delicate style of needle-work, and among other devices, more than once repeated, was the cipher, M. S.,— being the initials of one of the most unhappy names that ever a woman bore. This quilt was embroidered by the hands of Mary Queen of Scots, during her imprisonment at Fotheringay Castle ; and having evidently been a work of years, she had doubtless shed many tears over it, and wrought many doleful thoughts and abortive schemes into its texture, along with the birds and flowers. As a counterpart to this most precious relic, our friend produced some of the handiwork of a former Queen of Otaheite, presented by her to Captain Cook: it was a bag, cunningly made of some delicate vegetable stuff, and ornamented with feathers. Next, he brought out a green silk waistcoat of very antique fashion, trimmed about the edges and pocket-holes with a rich and delicate embroidery of gold and silver. This (as the possessor of the treasure proved, by tracing its pedigree till it came into his hands) was once the vestment of Queen Elizabeth’s Lord Burleigh : but that great statesman must have been a person of very moderate girth in the chest and waist; for the garment was hardly more than a comfortable fit for a boy of eleven, the smallest American of our party, who tried on the gorgeous waistcoat. Then, Mr. Porter produced some curiously engraved drinking-glasses, with a view of Saint Botolph’s steeple on one of them, and other Boston edifices, public or domestic, on the remaining two, very admirably done. These crystal goblets had been a present, long ago, to an old master of the Free School from his pupils; and it is very rarely, I imagine, that a retired schoolmaster can exhibit such trophies of gratitude and affection, won from the victims of his birch rod.

In front of the church, not more than twenty yards off, and with a low brick wall between, flows the River Witham. On the hither bank a fisherman was washing his boat; and another skiff, with her sail lazily half-hoisted, lay on the opposite strand. The stream, at this point, is about of such width, that, if the tall tower were to tumble over flat on its face, its top-stone might perhaps reach to the middle of the channel. On the farther shore there is a line of antique-looking houses, with roofs of red tile, and windows opening out of them, — some of these dwellings being so ancient, that the Reverend Mr. Cotton, subsequently our first Boston minister, must have seen them with his own bodily eyes, when he used to issue from the front-portal after service. Indeed, there must be very many houses here, and even some streets, that bear much the aspect that they did when the Puritan divine paced solemnly among them.

In our rambles about town, we went into a bookseller’s shop to inquire if he had any description of Boston for sale. He offered me (or, rather, produced for inspection, not supposing that I would buy it) a quarto history of the town, published by subscription, nearly forty years ago. The bookseller showed himself a well-informed and affable man, and a local antiquary, to whom a party of inquisitive strangers were a godsend. He had met with several Americans, who, at various times, had come on pilgrimages to this place, and had been in correspondence with others. Happening to have heard the name of one member of our party, he showed us great courtesy and kindness, and invited us into his inner domicile, where, as he modestly intimated, he kept a few articles which it might interest us to see. So we went with him through the shop, up-stairs, into the private part of his establishment; and, really, it was one of the rarest adventures I ever met with, to stumble upon this treasure of a man, with his treasury of antiquities and curiosities, veiled behind the unostentatious front of a bookseller’s shop, in a very moderate line of villagebusiness. The two up-stair rooms into which he introduced us were so crowded with inestimable articles, that we were almost afraid to stir, for fear of breaking some fragile thing that had been accumulating value for unknown centuries.

Our kind friend kept bringing out one unexpected and wholly unexpectable thing after another, as if he were a magician, and had only to fling a private signal into the air, and some attendant imp would hand forth any strange relic we might choose to ask for. He was especially rich in drawings by the Old Masters, producing two or three, of exquisite delicacy, by Raphael, one by Salvator, a head by Rembrandt, and others, in chalk or pen-and-ink, by Giordano, Benvenuto Cellini, and hands almost as famous; and besides what were shown us, there seemed to be an endless supply of these art-treasures in reserve. On the wall hung a crayon-portrait of Sterne, never engraved, representing him as a rather young man, blooming, and not uncomely : it was the worldly face of a man fond of pleasure, but without that ugly, keen, sarcastic, odd expression that we see in his only engraved portrait. The picture is an original, and must needs be very valuable ; and we wish it might be prefixed to some new and worthier biography of a writer whose character the world has always treated with singular harshness, considering how much it owes him. There was likewise a crayon-portrait of Sterne’s wife, looking so haughty and unamiable, that the wonder is, how he ever contrived to live a week with such an awful woman.

After looking at these, and a great many more things than I can remember, above stairs, we went down to a parlor, where this wonderful bookseller opened an old cabinet, containing numberless drawers, and looking just fit to be the repository of such knick-knacks as were stored up in it. He appeared to possess more treasures than he himself knew of, or knew where to find; but, rummaging here and there, he brought forth things new and old: rose-nobles, Victoria crowns, gold angels, double-sovereigns of George IV., two-guinea pieces of George II.; a marriage-medal of the first Napoleon, only forty-five of which were ever struck off, and of which even the British Museum does not contain a specimen like this, in gold ; a brass medal, three or four inches in diameter, of a Roman Emperor; together with buckles, bracelets, amulets, and I know not what besides. There was a green silk tassel from the fringe of Queen Mary’s bed at Holyrood Palace. There were illuminated missals, antique Latin Bibles, and (what may seem of especial interest to the historian) a Secret-Book of Queen Elizabeth, written, for aught I know, by her own hand. On examination, however, it proved to contain, not secrets of State, but recipes for dishes, drinks, medicines, washes, and all such matters of housewifery, the toilet, and domestic quackery, among which we were horrified by the title of one of the nostrums, “How to kill a Fellow quickly”! We never doubted that bloody Queen Bess might, often have had occasion for such a recipe, but wondered at her frankness, and at her attending to these anomalous necessities in such a methodical way. The truth is, we had read amiss, and the Queen had spelt amiss : the word was “ Fellon,”—a sort of whitlow, — not “Fellow.”

Our hospitable friend now made us drink a glass of wine, as old and genuine as the curiosities of his cabinet; and while sipping it, we ungratefully tried to excite his envy, by telling of various tilings, interesting to an antiquary and virtuoso, which we had seen in the course of our travels about England. We spoke, for instance, of a missal bound in solid gold and set round with jewels, but of such intrinsic value as no setting could enhance, for it was exquisitely illuminated, throughout, by the hand of Raphael himself. We mentioned a little silver case which once contained a portion of the heart of Louis XIV. nicely done up in spices, but, to the owner’s horror and astonishment, Dean Buckland popped the kingly morsel into his mouth, and swallowed it. We told about the black-letter prayerbook of King Charles the Martyr, used by him upon the scaffold, taking which into our hands, it opened of itself at the Communion Service ; and there, on the left-hand page, appeared a spot about as large as a sixpence, of a yellowish or brownish hue: a drop of the King’s blood had fallen there.

Mr. Porter now accompanied us to the church, but first leading us to a vacant spot of ground where old John Cotton’s vicarage had stood till a very short time since. According to our friend’s description, it was a humble habitation, of the cottage order, built of brick, with a thatched roof. The site is now rudely fenced in, and cultivated as a vegetable garden. In the right-hand aisle of the church there is an ancient chapel, which, at the time of our visit, was in process of restoration, and was to be dedicated to Cotton, whom these English people consider as the founder of our American Boston. It would contain a painted memorial-window, in honor of the old Puritan minister. A festival in commemoration of the event was to take place in the ensuing July, to which I had myself received, an invitation, but I knew too well the pains and penalties incurred by an invited guest at public festivals in England to accept it. It ought to be recorded, (and it seems to have made a very kindly impression on our kinsfolk here,) that five hundred pounds had been contributed by persons in the United States, principally in Boston, towards the cost of the memorialwindow, and the repair and restoration of the chapel.

After we emerged from the chapel, Mr. Porter approached us with the vicar, to whom he kindly introduced us, and then took his leave. May a stranger's benediction rest upon him ! He is a most pleasant man ; rather, I imagine, a virtuoso than an antiquary; for he seemed to value the Queen of Otaheite’s bag as highly as Queen Mary’s embroidered quilt, and to have an omnivorous ap petite for everything strange and rare. Would that we could fill up his shelves and drawers (if there are any vacant spaces left) with the choicest trifles that have dropped out of Time’s carpet-bag, or give him the carpet-bag itself, to take out what he will!

The vicar looked about thirty years old, a gentleman, evidently assured of his position, (as clergymen of the Established Church invariably are,) comfortable and well-to-do, a scholar and a Christian, and fit to be a bishop, knowing how to make the most of life without prejudice to the life to come. I was glad to see such a model English priest so suitably accommodated with an old English church. He kindly and courteously did the honors, showing us quite round the interior, giving us all the information that we required, and then leaving us to the quiet enjoyment of what we came to see.

The interior of Saint Botolph’s is very fine and satisfactory, as stately, almost, as a cathedral, and has been repaired — so far as repairs were necessary— in a chaste and noble style. The great eastern window is of modern painted glass, but is the richest, mellowest, and tenderest modern window that I have ever seen : the art of painting these glowing transparencies in pristine perfection being one that the world has lost. The vast, clear space of the interior church delighted me. There was no screen,— nothing between the vestibule and the altar to break the long vista ; even the organ stood aside,— though it by-and-by made us aware of its presence by a melodious roar. Around the walls there were old engraved brasses, and a stone coffin, and an alabaster knight of Saint John, and an alabaster lady, each recumbent at full length, as large as life, and in perfect preservation, except for a slight modern touch at the tips of their noses. In the chancel we saw a great deal of oaken work, quaintly and admirably carved, especially about the seats formerly appropriated to the monks, which were so contrived as to tumble down with a tremendous crash, if the occupant happened to fall asleep.

We now essayed to climb into the upper regions. Up we went, winding and still winding round the circular stairs, till we came to the gallery beneath the stone roof of the tower, whence we could look down and see the raised font, and my Talma lying on one of the steps, and looking about as big as a pockethandkerchief. Then up again, up, up, up, through a yet smaller staircase, till we emerged into another stone gallery, above the jackdaws, and far above the roof beneath which we had before made a halt. Then up another flight, which led us into a pinnacle of the temple, but not the highest; so, retracing our steps, we took the right turret this time, and emerged into the loftiest lantern, where we saw level Lincolnshire, far and near, though with a haze on the distant horizon. There were dusty roads, a river, and canals, converging towards Boston, which — a congregation of redtiled roofs — lay beneath our feet, with pigmy people creeping about its narrow streets. We were three hundred feet aloft, and the pinnacle on which we stood is a landmark forty miles at sea.

Content, and weary of our elevation, we descended the corkscrew stairs and left the church; the last object that we noticed in the interior being a bird, which appeared to be at home there, and responded with its cheerful notes to the swell of the organ. Pausing on the churchsteps, we observed that there were formerly two statues, one on each side of the door-way; the canopies still remaining, and the pedestals being about a yard from the ground. Some of Mr. Colton’s Puritan parishioners are probably responsible for the disappearance of these stone saints. This door-way at the base of the tower is now much dilapidated, but must once have been very rich and of a peculiar fashion. It opens its arch through a great square tablet of stone, reared against the front of the tower. On most of the projections, whether on the tower or about the body of the church, there are gargoyles of genuine Gothic grotesqueness,—fiends, beasts, angels, and combinations of all three; and where portions of the edifice are restored, the modern sculptors have tried to imitate these wild fantasies, but with very poor success. Extravagance and absurdity have still their law, and should pay as rigid obedience to it as the primmest things on earth.

In our further rambles about Boston, we crossed the river by a bridge, and observed that the larger part of the town seems to lie on that side of its navigable stream. The crooked streets and narrow lanes reminded me much of Hanover Street, Ann Street, and other portions of the North End of our American Boston, as I remember that picturesque region in my boyish days. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the local habits and recollections of the first settlers may have had some influence on the physical character of the streets and houses in the New-England metropolis; at any rate, here is a similar intricacy of bewildering lanes, and numbers of old peaked and projecting-storied dwellings, such as I used to see there. It is singular what a home-feeling and sense of kindred I derived from this hereditary connection and fancied physiognomical resemblance between the old town and its well-grown daughter, and how reluctant I was, after chill years of banishment, to leave this hospitable place, on that account. Moreover, it recalled some of the features of another American town, my own dear native place, when I saw the seafaring people leaning against posts, and sitting on planks, under the lee of warehouses, —or lolling on long-boats, drawn up high and dry, as sailors and old wharf-rats are accustomed to do, in seaports of little business. In other respects, the English town is more village-like than either of the American ones. The women and budding girls chat together at their doors, and exchange merry greetings with young men; children chase one another in the summer twilight; school-boys sail little boats on the river, or play at marbles across the flat tombstones in the churchyard ; and ancient men, in breeches and long waistcoats, wander slowly about the streets, with a certain familiarity of deportment, as if each one were everybody’s grandfather. I have frequently observed, in old English towns, that Old Age comes forth more cheerfully and genially into the sunshine than among ourselves, where the rush, stir, bustle, and irreverent energy of youth are so preponderant, that the poor, forlorn grandsires begin to doubt whether they have a right to breathe in such a world any longer, and so hide their silvery heads in solitude. Speaking of old men, I am reminded of the scholars of the Boston Charity-School, who walk about in antique, long-skirted blue coats, and knee-breeches, and with bands at their necks, — perfect and grotesque pictures of the costume of three centuries ago.

On the morning of our departure, I looked from the parlor-window of the Peacock into the market-place, and beheld its irregular square already wellcovered with booths, and more in process of being put up, by stretching tattered sail-cloth on poles. It was market-day. The dealers were arranging their commodities, consisting chiefly of vegetables, the great bulk of which seemed to be cabbages. Later in the forenoon there was a much greater variety of merehan dise : basket-work, both for fancy and use ; twig-brooms, beehives, oranges, rustic attire; all sorts of things, in short, that are commonly sold at a rural fair. I heard the lowing of cattle, too, and the bleating of sheep, and found that there was a market for cows, oxen, and pigs, in another part of the town. A crowd of towns - people and Lincolnshire yeomen elbowed one another in the square ; Mr Punch was squeaking in one corner, and a vagabond juggler tried to find space for his exhibition in another: so that my final glimpse of Boston was calculated to leave a livelier impression than my former ones. Meanwhile the tower of Saint Botolph’s looked benignantly down ; and I fancied that it was bidding me farewell, as it did Mr. Cotton, two or three hundred years ago, and telling me to describe its venerable height, and the town beneath it, to the people of the American city, who are partly akin, if not to the living inhabitants of Old Boston, yet to some of the dust that lies in its churchyard.

One thing more. They have a Bunker Hill in the vicinity of their town; and (what could hardly be expected of an English community) seem proud to think that their neighborhood has given name to our first and most widely celebrated and best-remembered battle-field.