An English Writer's Notes on England
TRAVELING north through the manufacturing district, particularly round Sheffield, I am struck once more by the ruthless barbarity of this industrialism ; not merely the wholesale pollution of water and ground, the killing off of trees and blackening of the sky, but the litter, the heaps of refuse everywhere, the country dealt with worse than the lazy indifference of its inhabitants deals with a southern or Oriental town. The brilliant blue August sky is sicklied over for miles with smoke from almost invisible chimneys, from dim towns scarcely more than guessed at among the misty green uplands.
At what one might call the northern gate of Leeds is a great open square, set with rusty black benches and fences, and a few stunted, leafless bushes; barely a little grass on the blackened earth, and nothing flowering, of course, save colored billboards. This approach to a great city, this place of refreshment and rest for a hard-working people, is appropriately called Hyde Park Corner!
Adel, near Leeds. — Sitting on the rough wall or heaped-up black stones near the little Norman church, I feel that this “ North Country ” — where, alas, the factory chimney and the pit engine flourish as much as the oak and the ash of the ballad — is beginning to appeal once more to my imagination, with its strange mixture, so English, so modern, of overcrowding and desolation. The highlying fields, checkered with black walls, stretch in all directions, and the few big trees, beeches and limes, of the churchyard, and the little ancient church itself, acquire deeper significance just because this country is so bleak, its trees so windwarped, and itself so empty of all past.
This country has indeed taken hold of me again. Yesterday afternoon I bicycled a few miles in the Ilkley direction, over low slopes, very open to the gray sky, their brilliant pastures and pale crops rippled by the bracing air; rough black walls and scant blackish hedges only serving, with their irregular lines, to make this high-lying country more wide and open. On distant hillsides the chimneys appear, and the smoke of the factories creeping up from the valleys ; and far off, in rain or mist, pale lilac ridges, the great heather moors ! The old deserted road turns into a track across the fields, and suddenly comes to an end, — becomes a rough, natural stair between great beech trees; and, looking down, you see below you a stream, and opposite, through the misty air, the solitary hills, pale green, pale lavender, and gray, like faded tapestry. And, returning home, at certain bends of the road, between wind - troubled trees and pale, pale pastures, you get a glimpse, down in the valley, of the innumerable chimneys, the vague, endless roofs, the steaming smoke, of Leeds ; I was going to say, of hell!
On the North Tyne. — The sense of depopulation, of emptiness of all human life, already so strong in the country in Yorkshire, goes in steady crescendo as one approaches the Scottish Border. We drove about eighteen miles yesterday, not anywhere near moors or waste places, but in the valleys, over excellent roads: only one village visible, houses scarcely any ; cottages, one may say, none; traffic not the slightest; nothing but slopes of green and slopes of green ; not much of cattle, even, or of sheep ; no corn; only a few fields, far between, of oats. The inhabitants of the country seemed all mustered on the two cricket grounds we went to : one at Chollerford, where the Roman camp is ; the other (with band and all Tyneside ” present) above the tiny “town — metropolis of these valleys — of Hexham. And these inhabitants appeared to be only gentry and gentry’s servants. What has become of mankind as such ? One understands, when one remembers how long the Scotch express runs through abominable rows of workmen’s houses, built on refuse heaps, before getting into Newcastle ; and remembering also the look down the Tyne, the miles of roof, chimney, wharf, which one has from the high level bridge before entering the station. Modern industry, paradox though it sounds, has emptied these dales of the North and South Tynes more effectually than all the Border wars of Percies and of Douglases.
It is when one gets high enough, as we did yesterday toward sunset, that the real quality of Northumberland becomes manifest. The valleys close up, — mere details and accidents ; the real country being the great flat, barely undulating moors of grass between them, — moors bare of trees, bare of houses, bare to the sun and storms, naked land, like one of these places which is called, doubtless after some mosstrooper’s adventure, “Naked Man.” The road we struck and drove along was the highroad from Newcastle to Carlisle; and across the Tyne the Watling Street runs north and south along similar hilltops. And along the crest of the hills, across the moors, there runs, emerging in black stone heaps among the thin black brambles, or showing through the green pasture, the Roman wall ; it also affirming that the real country is the solitary Fell, not the valley. My friend remarked, as we drove along toward the pale sunset, that were but the distant Cumberland hills — faint, uncertain — a little higher, one might almost fancy one’s self crossing the Campagna when in these false plains or hilltops and hidden or mist-veiled valleys. Indeed, it is curious to think that the Romans who built this wall would not have known what we meant; could never have conceived that a great solitude just like this, given over to sheep and birds, would one day stretch even round their town of towns. I remember, some years ago, seeing at Newcastle a Roman altar dedicated “ Dis cultoribus huius loci.” What can have been the feelings of a Roman legionary, from the Po, or the Straits of Messina, or the coast of Asia Minor, toward the divinities inhabiting such places as these ?
The past of this Border country is recorded in the very fact that it has left solitude behind: a couple of castles, here and there a peel tower (like the one against which this house is propped), and this Roman wall! The past gone, disappeared utterly, with the wandering Picts against whom the wall was built; with the knights of Chevy Chase and of Otterburn; with the Jacobites of Derwentwater’s rebellion ; with the highwaymen who must have stopped the travelers in those more recent days when, as Scott had heard tell, the London mail would arrive at Edinburgh with only a single letter !
On our way up there (the place is called Sewingshields, and has legends of an underground palace of King Arthur)
we went to tea at a rectory just under the moors, and found a party of curates and county ladies in feathered hats and blue and pink frocks playing croquet ! Taken in conjunction with those neighboring solitudes, such a sight is funny and fantastic: this is all that the present has brought!
Still on the North Tyne. —Just returned from one of the few remaining castles (the only one near here besides the one I am writing from) of Tyneside. A great oblong donjon overlooking the river ; added to and restored in the style of a railway hotel, but having kept, nevertheless, the small, gloomy rooms of its original state. We went on to the battlements, well preserved, up black corkscrew stairs, and into the flanking turrets or bartizans above what was once the guardroom, and looked down on the melancholy river and woods, and up the green, empty country swept by storm clouds. I have been reading Border minstrelsy every evening by the big carved fireplace of-Castle ; and I thought of that terrible ballad of Lambkin, where the lady, left alone at home, sees the enemy advancing, parleys from the roof, and knows her little ones will be butchered. One feels the possibility of such things here, although the great visored chimneys, clattering in the wind, are all that represents the knights of old.
Like nearly all the houses of this part of the world (Hezlyside, with the famous spur which used to be served up periodically, is let), this castle has many times changed hands; the present owners being partners of Armstrong’s. The other Armstrong, the legendary mosstrooper Archie, sung in ballads, was found, ’t is said (a common Border story), dead of starvation, his right arm gnawed, by a certain lord of Haughton who had forgotten him while on a journey. The spot was shown us, in the vaults, under the hooks where they now keep their bacon! Remarking on this story, my hostess tells me that the same is told, with little difference, of a certain Sir Reginald, who is said still to haunt the peel tower against which this beautiful Jacobean house is built. That was in legendary days. But a tradition exists of a certain Frank Skotoe, smuggler and general hero at the beginning of the eighteenth century, having delivered a squire of the North Tyne, whom his enemy, a Charlton, kept, after a long feud and attempted murder, chained to his kitchen chimney at Leehall, close by here. Savage people, those old Border folk !
And a savagely grand country ! We went to-day, in beating rain, across the moors to a place called Thockrington : hard, brownish grass, wave on wave ; a steel-blue tarn spilt on the surface of the moor ; distant blue hills, the crags where King Arthur still holds state near the Roman wall. And suddenly, at a bend, on a knoll, a tiny black church, with only a gray stone farm, among windwarped trees, behind it, — a tiny Norman church; within it the effigy of a lady in a coif, her feet on her dog, and one of those Northumbrian crosses interlaced with the sword of a nameless knight. The keys of the church were brought from the farm by a very pretty red-haired girl of fifteen, whose odd looks and gestures we could not at first understand. She was deaf and dumb !
Such infirmities, I am told, are common in these remote and scattered parishes, whence the inhabitants are constantly emigrating to pit and factory districts, and to which no girl from the dales consents to come; the marriages becoming, therefore, constantly more in and in. . . . The Fell, with its great battle of clouds, and its sere grass rippled by the cold wind, seemed as dumb as that young girl; waiting vainly, one might fancy, for some other Emily Brontë to give voice to its strength, its solemnity, and its tragic desolation.
But if Northumberland is waiting for an Emily Brontë, it is waiting also for a Stevenson. He should have given us the romance of the Derwentwater rising of 1715 : that little rebellion undertaken as lightly as a hunting party, ending so tragically, and full of such odd, romantic incidents. The meeting place of the rebel squires is a few miles from here, a hillock called Green Rigg, above a lovely, sedgy tarn full of wild duck ; the old Roman road, the Watling Street, runs past it in one of its relentlessly straight, ladder-like reaches, — a long ridge, with a few wind-torn pines, visible for miles in this empty, open country. The place at which the Miss Swinburnes, Jacobite Amazons, like Di Vernon, fetched and carried the treasonable dispatches is immediately opposite, beyond the Tyne, among those great moors near King Arthur’s buried palace. The letters, it is said, were hidden under a Roman altar or milestone, come to the surface, somehow, of the great bleak, grassy places. And then, nearer still, is Tone Hall, the hiding place of the Jesuit who converted Charles II. (’t is said), and the place where, according to local tradition, the Derwentwater rebellion was plotted by the Jacobite squires of the North Tyne.
“Would you like to see Tone Hall?” asks my hostess, seeing me poring, as usual, over the local histories by the big Jacobean chimney. “ Would you like to see Tone Hall ? It belongs to us. We can go and take tea with the tenants, if you care to.” . . .
We have been to Tone Hall, and I feel more and more the sort of Stevenson romance of the whole Derwentwater business. You drive endlessly up and down the green, empty, undulating moors, always ruffled by the cold wind; then a screen of beeches, not apparently different from any of those other ragged lines of trees which accentuate the open country every mile or so. You turn it, and you are suddenly in a hollow on the top of the moor, sheltered, safe, hidden, among big trees and hayfields, — a bit of peaceful southern England got lost, inclosed, up here ; and in it, among treetops, a little two-gabled gray stone house, flanked by gray steadings. A more remote-looking place, or a sadder, I cannot fancy, with no view save of endless undulations of green moor, and endless skies full of the strife of clouds. The tenants very kindly gave us tea in the front parlor : people come from other parts of the country, a family sadly diminished to an old mother and two sons; a wife gone, a sister dead, and a young brother. The sadness, the sort of subdued secrecy of the place, seemed hanging over them. They showed us the former kitchen, paneled, with oak pillars and frieze, where the Jacobites are said to have held their meetings ; and the presumable place, in the wall, of a secret room, perhaps that of Charles II.’s Jesuit. There had been rough doings at Tone in past days, they said, but seemed to know nothing further, — strangers there, and in a way, apparently, exiles.
We returned home by another way, if possible still sadder and remoter : long avenues of wind - warped beeches and pines; then three or four sharp pitches of the Watling Street, built relentlessly Roman up and down between its black walls of heaped-up stones; and then on to the endless moors, with only a little colliery, its cranes and smoky vent fantastic against the sky, breaking the monotony. Tone Hall, when we looked round, had utterly disappeared, and its very place got lost. . . .
Spent yesterday at Newcastle, going over the slums with a very pleasant High Church curate. These slums are in the old part of the town, a splendid trading town of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, like the old prints of London, and etched in grime on an atmosphere of smoke. I have rarely seen a place more grimly picturesque than this hilly quarter, running down to the great river, with the black mediæval castle at its highest point, the beautiful bird-cage tower of St. Giles, and the high-gabled dormers of the many-storied old houses; while above, on the high level bridge, immense trains are forever crashing along round Stephenson’s poor little “ Puffing Billy,” forefather of all locomotives. We went down endless black steps, between broken red roofs, — glimpses of the Tyne, black, sullen, below ; past the houses of the Surtees, rich eighteenth-century merchants, with tiers of uninterrupted balcony-like lattice windows ; and finally got to the former town house of some people called A-. A noble old house, looking down plumb on the river (you can see, they say, the salmon jump under the windows), and across it to what was once open moor, and is now the unspeakable suburb of Gateshead, chimneys and blackened roofs on evil-looking green mounds. An old, old woman showed us round the dismantled house; paper hanging in shreds, wainscoting torn out, and lath and plaster lying in heaps. “ It’s quite comfortable when you hae lit the feuer,” the housekeeper assured us. Then to another old mansion, huge, bleak, black, literally crumbling into its oozy yard ; every window smashed. And finally, along the street, getting filthier and filthier, to the curate’s Mission Rooms. They were the old Assembly Rooms, once upon a time ; and my friend had known an old, old lady who could remember when the whole street used to be blocked with the coaches of ball-goers ! Now the ground floor of the building is occupied by a crazy public house, and the ballroom, all stuccoed in eighteenth-century taste, is turned into a chapel. We scrambled up the oak stairs, littered with herring heads and hung round with drying rags ; vistas, here and there, into appalling workmen’s rooms and kitchens. Women were washing in the yard, and the whole place swarmed with ragged urchins. The curate called one of them, a smart little chap, who sang us a Northumbrian song about “ getting round the school-board man.” These small townsmen were put, lately, through a course of — shall I call it natural history ? “ And when the milk has stood, what comes on the top ? ”
“ Rum,” answered the boy.
As we returned sadly up the endless black flights of steps, the sound of an accordion came from an old, grimy inn, with the first bars of Auld Lang Syne on the signboard. Alas, it’s very, very far off, that past of Newcastle, — that past of not a hundred years ago, when the noble old houses stood by an undefiled mountain river, and their windows looked on to the moors !
Hawkshope Farm, up the North Tyne. — We have come up here for the 12th (though not for the shooting), to this solitary house on the moors, close to the Scottish Border. These moors are, of course, mainly grass; and what heather there is merely makes bands as of shadow on the grayish, yellowish green. The delicate intersection of these long, flattish, sloping lines ; the washes of pale color, accentuated here and there by thin trees, pines or thorns, ragged against the sky, — all seems done with a blunt pencil, worked in misty sunshine. And toward sunset the gray stone farm buildings on the opposite side of the wide, shallow valley become part of the pale green moor, fall asleep, vanish along with it. On the moor itself no sense of distance, — or rather, every distance grown immense ; the men, keepers, dogs, shooting pony, on the horizon, fantastically far off, approach within earshot in a few minutes. The dimness of the air, which makes hills five or six miles off look (to my eye) twenty or thirty, conduces, like the wide, shallow lines, to make this country large : one feels as if, for the moment, it were the whole world; at all events, one’s whole world.
What a cumbersome thing, in the midst of this nature reduced, so to speak, to the fewest lines and elements (mere gray grass, sky, and constantly shifting banners and torn sails of cloud), is modern civilization! Seeing the “ guns" striding over the moor, with keeper and man with the pony, a cart having had to carry up change of clothes and food ; strict injunctions given to walk only in the already shot-over parts, for fear of scaring the birds ; even the few sheep which the moor might maintain sacrificed for the sake of the grouse, — all brings home how much ground, service, time, and general complication are required, in this England, for a well-to-do man’s amusement of a few hours, with no tangible result beyond a few brace of grouse. They are heaped up in a basket, with sprigs of heather : very lovely birds, dark tortoise shell over delicate gray, with a beautiful geranium-red round their dead eyes. How much better looking, how infinitely more desirable and precious, than the inhabitants of those Newcastle slums, whose labor, whose flocking into the great black city, has given the open country to the grouse and the grouse slayers!
I have just been to the Border, to the head of the North Tyne at Kielder, and come back, alone, over the moors. The country has the slightly convex lines, the flatness, of a watershed, and the feel of the air, the barrenness, remind one of an Alpine pass. The valley itself has become, so to speak, hill: no woods or hay fields by the little shallow Tyne, — only endless slopes of Bent grass, yellowed here and there by bog, and thinly dotted with sheep ; no trees, save a gnarled holly or thorn by the river edge. In the nine miles I went over, along a highroad, not a village, and not as many cottages as miles. What an empty, spacious, airy country ! — eternal, with no past, and seemingly no future. This is the culmination of what I think of as the other half of England, — the England which cannot or will not be cultivated, which rejects inhabitants or is forsaken of them ; an England unknown to foreigners, little thought about (except for shooting) by English folk, and always left out of account in English literature. Yet it exists almost everywhere in England proper, and quite apart from Scotch or Welsh highlands: from the Southdowns to the Cotswolds, from the Chilterns to the Cornish moors and the moors of Yorkshire ; and here, in Northumberland, on Tyneside, is its culmination.
It is a desolation, this, which is forever increasing. The Border, in the times of Chevy Chase, was thickly wooded, and studded with villages which have disappeared ; the little towns have shrunk almost to hamlets. And the gray smoke cloud, the faint sickly scent, which rise up the Tyne valley with every wind from its mouth, explain the mystery : the men and women of this county, the men and women, more and more, of all England, have left the green places to winds and clouds, and are gone to live and work and die in the great black cities, where no flower will grow, and where the very trees of the suburbs lose their leaves, become dead sticks which blacken the hand that touches them.
In this North Country one is perpetually faced by the problem of what we call progress. Of course, the real moral value of what goes by this name (and the consequent condemnation of its opposite) lies in the fact that progress secures a certain amount of movement, energy, effort, of moral “ weigh on.” Living in southern counties makes one understand the complicated corruption due to lack of habitual activity. In order to drive a horse, you must have him up to his bit; but then comes the question whither to drive him. Work, as conceived and practiced by AngloSaxons, is so far a good thing that it is the reverse of idleness. But one wonders whether, besides this energy and activity, it has, for the community at large, produced much worth having. Thinking of Leeds and Newcastle, and of the desolate moors and fells and North Country dales, one grows rather skeptical ; one gets to fear that all this activity does little besides sweep a larger amount of wealth into a few heaps, instead of scattering it into many, and sweep human life and activity into the great foul dust heaps called great cities.
As there seems little room for holiday-making and for decorous leisure in English life, so there seems none for the “ river ” which represents them. The rivers of other countries announce their presence throughout the landscape: the whole country is made for them ; their rough banks and beaches are in fact often their most important parts ; and even in the plain, you can tell the Loire and the Po by the line of poplars making a guard of honor for their waters. But here in England — in river England — you walk in flat, quite uninteresting fields, as dry as a bone, and marked (fit symbol of the restrictions and class differences which diversify the dullness of English leisure) by thickset hedges and a few blackish elms. Your eye is caught at most by a line of green flowering weeds ; and behold, you are suddenly in presence of the “ river,” of boats, movement, people, poetry, — of all which gives color, charm, and significance to the country.
Weybridge. — I strike Holiday England again with the Thames, by whose side I am seated, under a big willow, watching the boats on the stream, and listening to the birds and the faint sound of the oars dipping and adjusting in the rullocks. The sky is blue, and barely mottled with Watteau-looking, holiday clouds; the water made gay with the orange and green and red reflections of boats and cushions, and with the wonderful metallic cobalt of the reflected sky. Young men walk up and down the punts, plunging in the poles, women sitting under umbrellas in the stern, — all of them white. Patient, happy fishermen are moored in the stream. These people scarcely speak, and only in subdued tones. They are enjoying themselves in an oddly well-bred way. The church chimes of distant Weybridge are the loudest thing, and they also are decorously cheerful. In the distance great elm and pine tops, visibly park land. Even the green meadows, the newly reaped fields with yellow stacked corn, look as if intended as decoration, some kind of “ harvest home.” One cannot conceive the existence of farmers or peasants anywhere in this river landscape, and, in fact, one sees none.
Maidenhead. — The boat moored opposite the bridge; my friends painting. Under the wind, the expanse of silvery cat’s-paw advancing perpetually toward one, broken by the long, orange reflection of a punt. The Thames is more and more holiday. Near Great Marlowe, some miles higher, a splendid circular weir, looking like a garden decoration under the clear, windy sky : the water barred cobalt with reflected sky and white with foam. Long, low white houses along the bank behind the thin green rushes. And swans, of course, — swans with blue shadows, sailing and standing on the weir’s brink. A wonderful harmony in pure blue, green, and white, as fresh as some charming summer silks. The Kate Greenaway houses of Marlowe look as if put there for play, and Medmenham Abbey, its gables among elms, might be a folly. Yesterday evening we stood watching Boulter’s lock, — crammed : large steam launches coming back from Henley, and even house boats, and skiffs and canoes crushed against the sides, bobbing as the water pours in or sinks suddenly. The usual kind of music (the same at Oban, at Richmond, and even at Oxford at Commemoration) which seems to accompany English pleasure-taking, — dance or music-hall music, absolutely without any sentiment. There is a crude, though by no means vulgar element in English holiday-making of the better class; an absence of that using up of sentimental association or historical romance which one feels everywhere in Germany, and even in the singing boats before Venetian hotels. It goes with the rather crude light of English river scenery, the mottled blue and white sky and green water, and the railway-station quality given by steam and electric launches. These people are too unæsthetic, too shy, perhaps too deeply, silently sensitive, to be otherwise than superficial in their holiday-makings.
Kingston. — Yet there is something really charming in this English river life; at least, seen from a distance. We drove along the wide towing path. There was a regatta somewhere: barges with bunting out and band playing, little bright launches, quantities of decorated boats all the way up, whole families out, and girls in white frocks punting. Boats drawn up alongside for tea; punts moored in midstream with patient gudgeon fishers. Big willows, with lots of large house boats, brightly colored barges with flowers at windows and on terraces, among them.
A great impression of rather crude daintiness as of new summer frocks.
Even Bank Holiday takes a sort of decorum on the river, and scarcely disturbs the trim, toy-box, Old World quality of the places on its banks. The red brick villages, with Georgian churches or Norman belfries, flowery terraces, lawns and weeping willows, all vaguely willow pattern, are not really intruded on by the ’Arries in boats and launches, or those who dash through in breaks ; there is something pensive in the unseen fiddles and melancholy accordions. And there remains the predominance of neat outriggers sweeping along the stream, and Japanese parasols in punts. The old Jacobean house by the wide Thames certainly knows nothing of Bank Holiday. Behind its screen of thick elms spreads the surprise of its Roman villa gardens, with Scotch firs pretending to be stone pines, with its statues and busts of Cæsars in niches. Carriages are drawn up at the end of the long, green avenue, and guests pouring in and out in thin streams. Others are strolling through the great reception rooms, full of Italian furniture, cabinets, and pseudoTitians and pseudo-Claudes, — every one very quiet, detached, indifferent, vague ; while some one plays, unnoticed, on an old harpsichord in the great hall. There is some kind of reception going on; but one gets no impression of hosts or guests, — only of a beautiful, unlikely, Old World palace, with well-bred, subdued people moving about in it and around it.
Higher up on the River. — A bridgekeeper’s house, covered with superb Marshal Niel roses, and having a little conservatory full of choice flowers; yet they let out boats, and even sell ginger beer. A young man is starting off in a boat, with portmanteaus and hatbox and liberty-silk cushions ; what an odd English impression of dainty practical pleasure-taking, not without a spice of poetry ! As dusk falls on the water, there comes from the hayfields an incessant bleating of lambs, and from the willows and reeds the song of all kinds of birds. The stream, already narrow, is islanded near the banks with little flotillas of water-lily leaves. After leaving the river, we return home in twilight, driving across the charming bridge at Abingdon, past its delightful Queen Anne town hall. Oxford, tower and domes, gray, dim, misty, lies at the bottom of a long slope, as in a Turner water color.
Oxford. — The “ river ” impression, made up, as it is, of England’s leisure, daintiness, youthful decorous pleasure, and Old World well-preserved stateliness, is of course at its height at Oxford ; especially when one enters from the Headington side, on a splendid morning like to-day’s. The parapets of Magdalen bridge, the river, the parklike willowed meadows below, the cedars of the Botanic Gardens, the whole guarded by the towers and almost castellated buildings of Magdalen, unite into a whole of aristocratic magnificence ; while the utter absence of low or mean houses affects one like a holiday. This was the way by which the coach used to enter Oxford from London ; and the youths whom it carried must have felt, as they crossed Magdalen bridge and rolled up the Broad, flanked with monumental and majestic buildings and overtopped by great trees, as if they were entering an enchanted land of pomp and privilege and youthful leisure, far more than a land of study, of discipline, or of boyish recklessness.
Even the railways do not disturb the pastoral and privileged quality of the “ river ” district, nor take off from its holiday character. All these trains, perpetually hurtling all round, flinging puffs of vapor or flares of red smoke across the landscape, do not suggest business, and even less travel. One is never made to think of partings, and meetings after cruel absence, but merely of people “ going down into the country ” at their convenience, and bent on some form of outing. Even at the station people loiter, with predominance of youths and maidens, dressed in flannels, and carrying rackets, cricket bags, and rods ; there seem always footmen about, waiting for guests. The very engines and the vans being unloaded are merely preliminaries to punts moored in midstream, and dapper skiffs shipping oars among the water lilies, and tea in the hayfield, where the forget-me-nots cluster at the foot of the willows, whose coral roots steep in the water.