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the district is not one which dealers can than those of earth; and this may be toe easily reach
wherefore of its earthly likeness having Some of these interiors are so beauti- supernatural virtues. ful in their peacefulness, their “tran. It fell about Martinmas, quillity of order." I am thinking of one such now; the old porch, the large The carline's wife's twa sons came hame,
When nights are lang and mirk; kitchen, the carved oak chest, the inlaid
Their hats were o' the birk! chest of drawers with its engraved brass locks and handles, the puppy
It neither grew in syke or ditch, sheepdog who has squeezed himself
Nor yet in any sheugh;
But at the Gates of Paradise into the snug chimney corner and looks
The birk grows fair eneugh. out furtively at the strangers, the picturesque old figure sitting by the fire in But let some of the dwellers in these the wan December sunlight, knitting valleys themselves tell of their own yarn which is spun from the fleeces of superstitions. Here is old Mr. Davies her own sheep. Her small hands move coming up the lane with his sheepdog at as deftly as if she were seventeen his heels. He is a keen-eyed man of instead of seventy; her hair is smooth business; a man of the world, as far as and glossy as a girl's. This is not ab. the world goes in this corner of it; a solutely a wilderness where no man is, man who could no doubt farm his acres but it will show that it is thinly popu- successfully in bad times. One glance lated when I say that we walked two at his cheerful old face will tell you miles to this farm and met no one on the better than many words can do that he way.
is no "afternoon farmer,” as we say
about here, but one who gets up early But the most characteristic and alto. and prospers accordingly. Leaning on gether unique feature of this nook of his tall hazel staff—it is like the staff earth is that it is full, brimming over, of a shepherd in a Nativity-he stops to with superstition. It is difficult to be talk. He tells you that he has been lieve that there is still a district in En writing to the local paper to advise the gland where superstition is part of the nearest railway company (its nearest life of the people. But here that diffi- station is many miles away; no railway culty presents itself again and again whistle is heard here) to bring a light as we talk with old cronies over their railway up the valley, and he chuckles fires, or along the green lanes. As you with amusement at your horror of such look at their keen, wrinkled faces, on a destroyer of the beauty of the place, which common sense, shrewdness, and But if you ask him about a ghost which long experience have set their mark, you have been told haunts this lane, his you wonder have they made such sin- keen old face becomes serious at once. ners of their memory as to credit their No ghosts or goblins had troubled him, own fantasy, or- But what other he says, but Charles Jones and another solution can we find at our time of day? chap had been terrible frightened by a
My attention was first drawn to this flame of fire it wasn't a will-o'-thesubject by seeing here and there, over wisp, you mind-as came from near the the door of more than one house, a birches and disappeared by Ivvans's bough of birch suspended. If you ask (Evans's) farm. He hadn't seen that the meaning of this, you will be told, himself, but he will tell you what he with no suspicion of the humor of the has seen-yes, sure—and that was once thing, that it is good to keep off the when he was up by where the parson witches. And—though this is straying, lives. It was about twelve o'clock at in the Border Minstrelsy of the other night, or mebbe nearer one, and he saw, Border, the Northern Border of which as plain as could be, a funeral coming this Western one so often reminds me, (along, and he heard the hum of voices the birch-tree is surrounded with mys- (like as you might if you went into tery too. It is the growth of other fields 'Abergavenny market; but he could not
LIVING AGE. VOI. XII. 618
hear what they did say. It came along summer”-so hallowed and so gracious the narrow part of the road and went is the time. towards the village. And he did mind But it is to old Thomas that I owe too how a very large funeral came most of my information about the past through Hay one night and the man at life of the district. He is nearly eighty. the pike (there were turnpikes in those His recollections go back seventy years; days) ran to open the gate and 'twas all and seventy years here mean more than vanished! He had often heard tell of they do elsewhere. As I talk to him I that, and so he wasn't put about when think with Wordsworth that the superhe did see it himself.
natural element in his life makes him And I think it was this same Mr. “greater than he seems." He wears, inDavies who said one day, in all serious- deed, a workhouse suit; he and his wife ness, that he did think wizards “ought live (who can tell how they manage to to be encouraged, for they could tell a live?) on a parish allowance; and yet he man a many things he didn't know- is always cheerful, always contented. about the weather and that-as would He remembers the days when there be useful to un." For there are still were stocks in the churchyard, and, wizards, and wise women too, about more wonderful still, he remembers here. They prescribe charms, and col- those who remember the days when lect herbs and "witch's butter” along men were put into them. He rememthe hedgerows. A quiet, inoffensive bers how they played fives in the race, their mission to cure and not to churchyard while service was going on harm; and very unwilling to talk of in the church; and the red line along their beliefs to any except those who the whitewashed wall remains to this come believing in them too.
day “to witness if I lie." And in his At the end of a bit of common land- grandmother's time there were fairies there are many such bits here about, about. They used to come inside the lives Mrs. Price. Hers is that Shake house on rough, stormy nights when toe spearean garden of which I spoke just household were gone to bed. They now, and hers, too, a cottage which is a spoke Welsh about here in those days; temple of neatness, and she a fit presid- and his mother often told him, when he ing genius thereof. She is a bustling, was a little boy sitting in the chimney practical woman, but she too can add to corner, how his grandfather would say our stock of lore.
to his grandmother, “Come to bed, Of ghosts she knows nothing, but Nelly vach" (little Nelly); “there's them she can tell you, and very prettily outside as wants to come in." They too, in Herefordshire Doric, Awpíodev would leave bread and cheese, and cider δ έξεστι, δοκώ, τοϊς Δωριέεσσι -about a too, ready for the little elves, of whom Holy Thorn which grew in a hedge near Thomas said “he never heard no harm. here, “and it did blossom on Old Christ. They were little people, he supposedmas Day. Not to say,” she adds with that was all he knew of them." He has great truthfulness, “as she had seen it stories of ghosts and witches, and of for herself, but by what she did hear it those who could "lay ghosts" and did like bud out white all over. But so "break witchcrafts," one of these, alas, many folks did come about to see it, long since vanished specialists being that the master took and cut it down. a certain Parson Jones, an M.A. of OxIt was a very wicked thing of him to cut ford. And it was 'he, I think, who told it down, for it was a Holy Thorn; and us of a man who found a pipkin full of he didn't live long arter he'd done it." old guineas hidden under a thorn tree She has often heard too that at Christ- in his garden; and the possession of all mas “the heifers and things do kneel that wealth only made him want to down in the fields at midnight, with the possess more, and so he scraped and tears running down their faces," and saved, and lived on dry crusts "as no the bees are out and buzzing around one else would eat," and was none the their hives, “like as if it were mid- happier for his wealth. He, or such as he, can tell us too of the sheep-stealers to turn their heads sideways every time on the mountains, whose annals are as they went into the “beast-house." exciting as those of the deer-stealers of “They were great, towardly things, as former days. But on one subject he is quiet to drive as could be, and would reticent to a degree; the subject I mean work splendid. The farmers did work of the illicit stills which were once not tnem on the land five years and then sell unknown in the farmhouses among them to the butchers.” these hills. When we asked him had he “Was there much drinking in your ever heard of people distilling whiskey young days, Thomas?” hereabouts, he got surprisingly deaf- “Not a lot. There were cider shops, he who had heard every question so far, as we did call un. They hadn't licenses, “Witches?” he said.
but any one as could make cider did like “No, whiskey — spirits; distilling to sell it. They were hardish times spirits, you know.”
then. Folks as could make a shilling “Spirits ? Ghosts?”
any way were glad to do it.” It was useless. His ready wit evaded “Are people better off about here every form in which the question was now than they used to be?” put to him; and we must remain in “I can hardly say. They was hardish ignorance of the how and where, but times when I was a nipper, but there more firmly convinced that distilling were more people about, and more work had once gone on here, and that years done on the land.” after it had died out old Thomas pre- But Thomas's stock of information is served bis old-world fear of the excise. almost inexhaustible, and I must take man.
leave of him and his reminiscences As for wages, when he was a boy, five without even touching upon his talent pounds a year and food, but not clothes, for repeating old ballads. “I could tell was the wage for a good all-round man
you songs as would last all night," he who could "plough and sow, and reap once said; and some of these I have and now." Boys got two or three taken down, but they must be reserved pounds according to their capabilities. to another paper dedicated to old
Flax was extensively grown in his Thomas alone. young days, and was harvested, and sent to the weavers in the towns as it But perhaps the wild life of this place was needed, to be woven into a rough will appeal to some more strongly than stuff much used for shirts. The rough- its vanished past can do. If so, the time ness wore off in a short time, but the to see it at its best is undoubtedly June. young farmers often got the men to Some of us have perhaps, as we walked wear their new shirts to take the rough- along a crowded London street on a ness off for them. Fustian or moleskin June day, contrasted that scene and its jackets, low shoes, knitted stockings, full tide of existence with some such and breeches, "and gaiters, were the country fields as those of this little usual costumes for farmers, but “the township, at the same moment and best sort” wore buckles in their shoes under the same fierce sunlight. We and "broad-cloth” suits. The laborers think of London as a noisy place and of wore smocks made of Russian duck, the wilderness as wholly quiet. Just which was so stout and waterproof that the reverse seems to me to be the fact. no rain would run through it. The art In London all lesser sounds are lost, of making these frocks is not yet a lost merged in one great monotonous roar of one, but there is little request for it traffic; in the green wilderness there is
a perplexity, a multiplicity of sound, When Thomas was a boy they used but no one is lost or fused into a greater to plough with oxen, and he spoke with whole; on the contrary each little voice real affection of the tall Herefordshire has its own place, each sound is accen. cattle, Butler, and Scarlet, and Swan, tuated, exaggerated-exaggerated until whose horns were so long that they had we almost think that we can hear “the
grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat.” owls would be laughable if its effects The chaffinch singing in the thorn-tree, were less sad. England is to become a with its shapely head towards the west waste wilderness for the sale of a few wind, which is ruffling its gay feathers; mere pheasants in the coverts. But the chiff-chaff with its two monotonous non ragionam di lor ... The note of the but beloved notes so redolent of spring; brown owl is a very musical one and is the willow wren's whistled imitation of heard perpetually around here, somethe chaffinch's song; thrush, wildest of times beginning as early as four or five little poets, singing its very heart away o'clock on a March afternoon. It does in melody; blackbird, perhaps the dear- not at all resemble Shakespeare's “Tu. est of all, with its “boxwood flute" and wit, to-whoo,” which the other poets quiet meditation on life, and love, and have copied. Rather it is a long and all things around him; and the most somewhat tremulous “whoo-oo.” After wholly joyous of all songs—that of the the owl comes on the night-jar, whir. lark, a quivering speck against a quiv- ring his wheel under the oak-tree; and ering blue sky. Who can tell what the corncrake, wandering, wandering, ecstasy of happiness is in that soaring in the sweet dewy grass, and all night little heart as it sings as near to heaven long repeating that harsh call of which as its wings can reach?
we never weary and which is never These are, I think, the commonest of harsh to us. And its enemy, the mowing our songsters; but even as I say this, machine, does not come into this hilly I remember so many more who all have land. Perhaps if we are out “when their part in the great chorus-yellow- light on dark is growing,” we shall hear hammers, linnets, pipits, tits of many almost under our feet a sound which kinds, and, not far off them, golden- has been described as resembling the crested wrens, with their sharp tee-tee quacking of a hoarse duck, and after it ringing from among the many yew- a snuffing sound such as a dog might trees which are a feature of this coun
make. This is a hedgehog out for his try. But why go on? This is mere evening walk, accompanied, most likely, cataloguing. Every hedge, every field, . by Mrs. Hedgehog. I do not know if his every yard of earth or of air is instinct vocabulary is limited to these two with life and sound, if only insect life. sounds. The witch in “Macbeth” says, Sound, sound, multiplied field after indeed, that “thrice the hedgepig field; endless music on every side and whined,” but I never heard of its doing "soft eye-music" too; melodies, unheard but not the less sweet, which every Have I so far only mentioned common fresh summer day brings with it; the birds and beasts? They are not the less glory of the grass, the glory of the loved because common. mountain, the glory of the great wide
The meanest things below, sky, decked now with light as with a
As with a seraph's robe of fire garment; glories of which the heart can
Invested, burn and glownever tire. And the very night, too, is eloquent. Before the thrushes and in there is a real love of nature in his blackbirds have finished their evensong, heart who sees and hears them. But their last liquid notes that close the eye this neighborhood can boast of some of day, the owlet is already chanting his creatures which are really rare in many dim part-long may he escape the pole parts of England. For a tract of coun. trap at the edge of the wood! For, of try in which there is a river, a portion of all the sad sights in a sad world, there real uncultivated mountain heath, a are few more sad than to see some portion too of cultivated land, makes a beautiful wild thing hanging for long happy hunting-ground for a naturalist; hours in patient misery, unrelieved by and such a happy hunting-ground is any hope but of death from a keeper, tois. About three hundred and fifty whose hereditary ignorance of the acres of the low bill opposite the moun. amount of mischief done by hawks and tain, of which I have already spoken,
are surrounded by a ring fence, and pasture land, but a few miles away consist of sheep pasture, dingles run- their beautiful lonely cry is heard over ning down to the brook below, the site
every field. Woodcock and snipe (hardly the ruins) of a little alien priory, abound, and not long ago I heard that forsaken as long ago as the reign of
one of the rarer solitary snipe had been Edward IV., much brushwood, as well seen. Some woodcock are said to reas better pasture fields. Here is a
main here to nest. haunt-one of the few English haunts
As for four-footed beasts, "the little -of black game; not numerous enough red fox from his hole in the rocks” on for a drive, and yet sufficiently numer. the mountain, where hounds so rarely ous for their call—that sound as if they come, prowls down to the farms, and were clearing their throats—to be fa
the men tell strange stories of his cun. miliar. It gives a pleasant wildness, a
ning and his depredations. But the far-away character, to their surround- silent badger, which is comparatively ings. They roost in trees at night, and
common here too, is a far more difficult are more at home on their feet than on
beast for a terrier to tackle in his hold. the wing; but when once put up, they Good Bewick, whose sympathy with all fly straight and strong and rather high. wild things was so far in advance of his
The stream is loved by dippers; but time, never said a truer word than when kingfishers are rare. I think the banks he told us that the badger is harmless are too rocky, and perhaps the stream and inoffensive, and unless attacked it too rapid, for their mode of fishing. On employs its formidable weapons of dethe mountain there are ring-ousels in fence only for its support. “As grey as plenty. You can hear their sweet, wild
a badger” is a proverb; and lately two song there any spring day, and perhaps white ones were, I am told, seen about find one of their nests hidden away here. I confess to a hopeless inability among the heather. And, best of all, to tell a weasel from a stoat; one, or here are curlews-we lay the accent both, abound, and the cats often catch on the last syllable in this part of the them and bring them into the houses. world. Your first experience of them There is a good woman here who is will perhaps be when you are out on proud of the exploits of her cats in the mountain in spring or autumn. If catching "honts (moles) or any vermin you hear the sound of a far-off whistle, moving in the ground.” This same old like that of no other bird you ever body has the rare art of attracting birds heard, then look up, and high, high over
and beasts to her, and last winter she your head you will see the beautiful had as many as five robins roosting in creatures flying most probably in a
her little room at once. Her three cats, wedge, and with a straight but rather sleeping happily in front of the fire, did slow flight. They are on their way to not molest the little visitors who came the sea if it is autumn; on their way in under a flag of truce. from it if it is spring. They arrive here
H. C. T. in March, and when they are settled in their summer haunts you will often hear their sweet tremulous whistle as they fly low over the mountain, and perhaps their other startled cry, which
From The España Moderna. has been likened to that of the rare
CASTELAR ON DE GONCOURT. black woodpecker. The curlew is a “I did not know de Goncourt, but handsome bird, varying very much ir in his last book he says that he met size, but some of them stand quite me one day at the house of Jules eighteen inches high. They lay their Simon. I do not remember it. He eggs on the ground and on hardly any adds that when leaving he changed nest; and like those of the pewit, they hats. I do not remember that either. are arranged in a quatre-foil. Pewits I do not even know what his hat are rare here. They prefer tillage to looked like, but I have read his work