Merrie England – Last Glimpses

THEY who would see Nature in her prettiest and gentlest moods must go to England. There, in a climate in which extremes of heat and cold are practically unknown, she displays her charms and unfolds her graces in a rich and unique manner. Association also increases the beauty of the picture, and history becomes attractive, and delightful. You look with pleasure upon wooded hills, red-brown wheat-fields, green meadows, sparkling streamlets, lawns soft and velvety as an Oriental carpet, fruit-laden orchards and innumerable flower-gardens ; you also look with no less pleasure upon churches, cathedrals and abbeys gray and sacred with age, upon castles and towers set in the cloudland of romance and chivalry, and upon old manor-houses with their twisted chimneys and timbered gables and legends of men and women who had their day long, long ago and now dwell amidst the mists and the shadows.

What more delightful place is there than Hampton Court Palace, the noble foundation of Cardinal Wolsey and the home for many generations of the sovereigns of England ? Not only are the grounds exquisitely and beautifully laid out and furnished and the house grand with long galleries and spacious chambers on the walls of which art displays its highest and perhaps its lowest powers, but everything reminds one of the days of yore. In the garden, amid the same yew and holly trees which now grow there, Henry VIII. strolled with Anne Boleyn and other of his lady-loves. Queen Elizabeth traversed the same walks, played upon the same green lawn and listened to the songs of gay singers under the same elms of royal splendor. In the long bower Mary of England held converse with her ladies or with her own sad spirit. It requires no effort, indeed, to see again the men whose memories haunt the place, and dull must he be who cannot catch a glimpse of Wolsey’s red robe and of Henry’s stout figure as they move along the garden-paths or through the ancient gate-ways.

Inside, the same wondrous past lives again. There is the chamber of William III. with its paintings in which masses of nudity are set forth in delicate figuring and soft coloring. There are also the beautiful and frail women of the court of Charles II., but not one of them is as attractive as Miss Pitt among the” Hampton Court Beauties.” She looks pure, sweet and lovely, reminding one of the old lines :

“Her cheeks like ripened lilies steeped in wine, Or fair pomegranate-kernels washed in milk, Or snow-white threads in nets of crimson silk, Or gorgeous clouds upon the sun’s decline.”

The old state bedsteads, the clocks, weather-glasses and-mirrors, the carvings and the pictures are replete with interest, but beyond them think of the regal life, the court intrigues and plans, the galaxy of learning, wit and beauty, with which these walls were once familiar of great banquets in the noble tapestried hall, and of princes, statesmen and bishops who .walked hither and thither in the corridors and the rooms. Two centuries of England’s history are there, but, alas ! vanity of vanities, Death casts the trail of his black robe over all.

A day at Hampton Court will unfold more than any-thing else the delightful and mysterious attractiveness of England ; the beauty of nature and the charm of history unite in a picture the memory of which will cling for life. Among the legends is that of the Haunted Gallery. This is now used by the repairers of the arras, but it was not long since said to be ‘frequented by Catherine Howard. That unfortunate queen early one morning escaped from the chamber in which she was confined before being sent to the Tower, and ran along this gallery to seek the king, who had just entered the chapel leading out of it. At the door of the chapel she was seized by the guards and carried back, her ruthless husband, notwithstanding her piercing screams, which were heard almost all over the palace, continuing his devotions unmoved. The poor woman perished at the Tower, but many times since then, it is said, a female figure draped in white has been seen in this gallery coming toward the door of the royal pew, and as she reaches it has been observed to hurry back with disordered garments and a ghastly look of despair, uttering at the same time the most unearthly shrieks till she passes through the door at the end of the gallery.

The character of Henry VIII. does not improve upon acquaintance. He may have been a great statesman and an ardent lover, but he made a bad husband. Possibly it would have been for his good had he gone through the processes practised in his day to correct unfaithful and cruel spouses. One of these customs still survives in some parts of the country-in Denbighshire, for in-stance. Once a year the villagers meet and bring before them any who have made themselves notorious as drunkards, slanderers or wife-beaters. If the offender is found guilty, his right arm is fastened up to the bough of a tree, and gallons of cold water are poured down his sleeves amidst the jeers and the merriment of the crowd. That, however, would have been too gentle for the heartless lord of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Their memory also clings with his to Hampton Court Palace.

A like unscrupulous monster was Dudley, earl’ of Leicester. I mention him because the visitor to the Heart of Merrie England will undoubtedly go to Kenilworth. The story of poor Amy Robsart is known to all, nor is there any doubt that she fell a victim to ambition. The tempting bait of Elizabeth’s hand was too much for the unprincipled Leicester ; he did not hesitate to consign the gentle wife to the cruelties of foul men. In a secluded house near Oxford, Lady Dudley was secretly imprisoned ; there she was ill-treated, neglected and subjected to attempts at poisoning. Gentler means failing, rougher were employed. One night the deed was done :

“And ere the dawn of day appeared In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear, Full many a piercing scream was heard, And many a cry of mortal fear.”

The wicked earl did not become the consort of the queen, but in 1575 he gave to her at Kenilworth an entertainment of rare magnificence and luxury. For seventeen days the feast was kept up; the cost was enormous. Besides the queen and the ladies of her court, there were thirty-one barons and four hundred servants. Ten oxen were slaughtered every morning, and the consumption of wine is said to have been six-teen hogsheads, and of beer forty hogsheads, daily. ” The clock-bell rang not a note all the while Her Highness was there; the clock stood also still withal; the hands of both the tables stood firm and fast, always pointing at two o’clock “—the hour of banquet ! There were gorgeous spectacles, masks, farces, feats of skill, allegories, mythologies, and all that could amuse or while away the time. The queen was received by a sibyl ” comely clad in a pall of white silk,” who ad-dressed her in becoming terms. Amid the shouts of the attendants, the royal company having reached the tilt-yard, was heard the rough speech of the porter demanding the cause of the din and uproar, ” but upon seeing the queen, as if he had been instantly stricken, he falls down upon his knees, humbly begs pardon for his ignorance, yields up his club and keys, and proclaims open gates and free passage to all.” Elizabeth loved that sort of thing, though she doubtless saw through it and inwardly laughed at the extravagant flattery. One day a savage dressed in moss and ivy discoursed before her with Echo in her praise. Another day, as she was returning from the chase, Triton, rising from the lake, prays her, in the name of Neptune, to deliver the enchanted lady pursued by ruthless Sir Bruce. Presently the lady appears, surrounded by nymphs, followed close by Proteus, who is borne by an enormous dolphin. Concealed in the dolphin, a band of musicians, with a chorus of ocean-deities, sing the praise of the powerful, beautiful, chaste queen of England.” There were rougher sports. Thirteen bears were set fighting with dogs a pastime much enjoyed by the queen and described by an eye-witness as ” a matter of goodly relief.” Wrestlers from Coventry, Italian tumblers and rope-dancers and rural clowns played their part. There was a mock-wedding full of gross humor, in which the homely joys of the simple country-folk were made ridiculous ; yet the same eye-witness just quoted says, ” By my troth, ’twas a lively pastime ! I believe it would have moved a man to a right merry mood though it had been told him that his wife lay dying.” Did Leicester in the midst of that revelry, when his hopes were so near fruition, give a thought to the gentle wife of his youth ?

Kenilworth never but then saw such magnificence. As one wanders about the splendid ruins, halls and yards seem to live again, lords and ladies gayly dressed in scarlet satin, sable cloaks, rich laces, costly jewels, rare embroidery, rustling silk and sparkling gold move hither and thither with that free, boundless life of the old times. The heavy tramp of the retainer echoes along the stone corridors; the soft songs of courtiers float on the summer air and suggest the romance and the voluptuous sweetness of an age of poetry and imagination. It is but for a moment, and as a dream the picture of life and of chivalry, of lordly splendor and of vast ambitions, vanishes away, and the eye rests upon ivy-clad walls, grass-covered courts, crumbling towers, vacant chambers and broken windows the sad desolation of departed grandeur and the painful reminder of the transitoriness of human life. The irony is sharpened when the merry tattle of picnickers breaks in upon the silence; the incongruity of sandwiches and ginger ale is apparent. Better to see the great pile in the still night when the clear moonbeams fall upon the thick ivy and the dark walls, stealing here and there through loophole or window, and the owls sweep noiselessly around the turrets or over the swampy bed of the old lake. Then the weird mystery of bygone days steals into the heart, legends and traditions come to mind, and throughout life memory retains not only a wondrous and romantic scene, but also the thoughts and the visions created thereby.

The ruins of Kenilworth are on a high, rocky site commanding a wide view of the country around. From the top of the Strong Tower may be seen one of those extensive landscapes, quiet and lovely, full of picturesque beauty and rural charm, for which England is remark-able. Stand there in an early summer morning when the purple haze lies low on the horizon and the warm light brings out the freshness of woods and fields, the silvery sheen of brook and river, and the spires and towers of village churches, and Nature will give the soul a satisfaction that shall be as full as it is sweet and as real as it is undying.

Wandering through the country districts with which this book has had to do, one speedily discovers the darling love of the English people viz., the garden. Everywhere flowers abound in the windows, around the door, among the orchard trees and in the strips and plots of ground at the back of the house, by the side of the walk leading from the road or the street and along the edges of the vegetable-patch. Here and there are old-fashioned gardens with their winding walks, quaintly-shaped flower-beds and curiously-cut hedges and box trees. There are sure to be roses roses white and red, roses ruby and cream in the cottager’s garden tended by the housewife, and in the squire’s by the la-dies of the family. In the early morn, when the dew-wet buds are scarcely unfolded, delicate hands prune and tend them, pluck off dead leaves, cut some of the choicest flowers to adorn the breakfast-table and tie up straying branches. No wonder the frozen Norwegians on the first sight of roses dared not touch what they conceived were trees budding with fire; the brilliant splendor of the bush obtains the highest admiration and surprise. The poets of all ages have sung its royal glories, the gem of earth and the diadem of flowers, and have loved to crown it with praise and to liken beautiful maidens to it; the lines of Herrick are peculiarly true of English girls who live much in the open air, breathing the fragrance of the morning and delighting in such pastimes as archery, tennis, hunting and gardening

“One asked me where the roses grow; I bade him not go seek, But forthwith bade my Julia show A bud in either cheek.”

The heavy work naturally falls to the gardener, who is, as a rule, a man of independent and pronounced character. We may picture him as a sunburnt, bright-eyed elderly individual, brimful of opinions on all sorts of subjects, experienced in the management of trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, and knowing well the idiosyncrasies of every member of the family. He has grown up on the place since boyhood, and loves every nook and corner, every laurel, bay or holly bush, as though all were his own. Honesty and integrity go to show that his full beard is not the indication of subtilty and guile, as some used to think. The schoolmen said that Adam was created a handsome young man without a beard; his face was afterward degraded with hair like the beasts’ for his disobedience; Eve, being less guilty, was permitted to retain her smooth face. This was highly complimentary to woman, and shows that at times the monks could say something in her favor; but our gardener is by no means like an individual under-going punishment. He is talkative, as are most people in the country. What is known as English reserve belongs more to the upper than to the lower classes. The latter are obstrusively garrulous, and press their opinions and their counsel upon the stranger with temerity, and even with rudeness. Only ask a question, and you open the sluice of a millpond. The gardener will tell you all about his work, and as he speaks his eyes will sparkle with pride and delight. He knows nothing about the busy, stifling city. God first placed man in a garden ; England is the garden of Europe, and the finest garden of all is that over which he has charge. His love for nature is common to all around him.

If one sought to sum up the leading characteristics of the English country-people, one might find it in the legendary lore of Robin Hood. That mighty hero of the merry greenwood has for centuries been their ideal and their favorite. He has been made the expression of their own aspirations and prejudices. The higher classes have made King Arthur, the prince of honor, chivalry and gentleness, their pattern and illustration ; the lower cling to the son of the yeoman. Robin, we are told, robbed only the rich ; the poor he befriended and helped. He was the Socialist of his day, adjusting differences, equalizing wealth and carrying out that dream of the centuries, that vision of perennial freshness and strength, in which every man is the peer of his brother and all have enough for their needs. The English are not revolutionists, but Robin expressed their. thought. Ever and anon they have broken out into sturdy rebellion and sought to free themselves from social bondage. Servitude is irksome ; never was it more so than it is to-day. Like true men, they are ready to do their duty in that state of life in which it has pleased God to place them, but also like true men they seek to enter into higher states of life which God has as truly placed before them. They do not understand contentment to mean inaction, subjection or retrogression. Right or wrong, they wait for the arrow-shaft that shall speed through the Sherwood Forest of modern civilization and force thé rich to help the poor and make the way easy for every man to rise who will. Even as Robin loved the freedom of the woodlands, so do they love to cast aside the restraints of an artificial life and to revel in the liberty which God has ordained for man.

Another characteristic comes out in Robin Hood. He is displayed in the ballads as a religious man: he heard three masses every day and was remarkable for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin ; but, notwithstanding this manifest piety, he fought vigorously against the clergy. He would beat and bind every bishop or abbot that came within his reach. He would allure a church dignitary into the distant parts of his forest-home, and after robbing him tie him to a tree and make him sing Mass for the good of Robin’s own soul. Some friars were made to kneel down and pray for the robbers, and were then bound on their horses, with their heads to the tail, and sent away. This curious intermingling of reverence for religion and of irreverence for the ministers of religion still largely prevails. The people who are most devout in the discharge of their spiritual duties are oftentimes as determined in their opposition to the clergy. There are exceptions, but they arise from the clergyman having qualities which bring him closer to the people than is ordinarily the case a gentle, sympathizing spirit, an earnest zeal or great preaching-gifts. In a word, the English people dread a priesthood. Their race is the only one which has a religion without one, not is there any hope that the effort of the nineteenth century to provide them with one will succeed. The masses are touched by the hand of a John Wycliffe and a John Wesley, by the preaching of Lollard, Reformer and Puritan. When such as they speak, then the loud response follows, and in the village-folk we see again the bold .archer who loved religion and hated those who called themselves its priests.

In Robin Hood’s devotion to woman is expressed another English ideal. The days have long since gone by when-preachers used to recommend husbands to punish,-and even to chastise, their wives that they might be healed of their sins and made obedient. Even the custom of selling a wife at auction has passed away. She was led by a halter to the market-place and set up for the highest bidder. Such sales were considered legal, and were common as late as 1797; indeed, in-stances much later have been cited. Once in a while the newspapers tell of brutes who err against their wives and for whom the whipping-post is not too severe, but the masses realize that Robin was right and that woman was made to be loved and honored. They do not yet understand women receiving honors at the university and managing large enterprises with ability and success, nor do they like to think of female physicians or of female lawyers ; but when they become accustomed to these things, they will take them as matters of course. Any way, they are struggling on to show in deeds the thought of their heart.

The people love athletic sports and feats of skill, and in these their popular hero is made to excel. He was a mighty wrestler and an unequalled bowman. The ruder sports of earlier days are not common, but every town of any size has its cricket club and its bowling-green. Every one is interested in them, and the best player at quoits, the fleetest runner and the ablest rider receive an honor like unto that which former ages yielded to the winner in the tournament and to the victor in the fight. The universities encourage boat-racing as well as scholarship, and the Houses of Parliament adjourn over the Derby races.

One would have to search very closely to find any-thing approaching the spirit which Addison describes as existing between Sir Roger de Coverley and his dependants. Landlords and tenants are still friendly with each other, but the commercial rather than the moral element binds them together. So with masters and servants, mistresses and maids. The old pictures of social felicity in which the lord of the house had an intimate interest in every member of his family from the heir himself to the boy who waited on the cook or kept the birds from the strawberry-plot or cherry tree-and received in return a loyalty and an obedience both personal and lifelong, have long since passed away. There are, indeed, some who still believe that man was made to plough and till the land, and that they who can-not do that are appointed by Providence to make wagons, ploughs, spades, mattocks, chairs and tables, to dig graves and grow vegetables, to look after foxes, ferrets and pheasants, to rear chickens, canary-birds and children, and to tend sheep and oxen, pigs and hounds; but this opinion of the whole duty of man is not general. The growth of a plebeian plutocracy and the spread of nineteenth-century Socialism, assisted by the press, the railway and the telegraph, have effected great and lasting changes. In the outlying districts there is still a warm loyalty on the part of the villagers to the squire whose family has held the manor from time immemorial, but his sense of responsibility and of duty toward them is much stronger and more unselfish than is their attachment to him. He will lower his tenants’ rents, give liberally to improvements, put himself out of the way to further their interests, without increasing their affection or their devotion. They will scarcely think of the ties that bound their forefathers to his-of the days when his ancestors struggled for theirs on the field of battle or in the social or political arena, and theirs served his by following to the war or tilling the land. Hodge is as good as his master, or is fast be-coming so. He reads more than the Bible and hears speak more men than the parson. Even the maid in the kitchen resents the old maternal interest which her mistress may show in her. She does so much work for so much wages, and beyond the bare contract she asks for and desires no more. The difference between her and her lady is not so much of blood, nor even of beauty or scholarship, but of money. For better wages or an easier place she will leave at a month’s notice. The gentry and the clergy rebel against this spirit; but when the humblest child of the soil can without fear or favor leave the village and go to the ends of the earth, there by industry and perseverance to make a new home, perhaps to win a larger estate and a greater fortune than those of rural magnates in the old land, remonstrance goes for naught. Whether the new state of affairs will be better than the old, whether people will be happier when the present age has done its work, or whether in the old semi-feudalism there were not important elements of social economy which we are unwisely losing sight of, are questions into which we may not enter.

The freedom’ of speech is one of the illustrations of the irresistible progress of the times. Theoretically, speech has been free in England for ages. If a man could find anybody to listen to him, the law allowed him to say what he chose, so long as he abstained from gross blasphemy or from treason. But in the country districts practice differed from the theory ; magistrates gave a wide interpretation to the terms defining for-bidden subjects. If a man spoke in favor of striking the Athanasian Creed out of the Prayer-Book, it was blasphemy; if of repealing an obnoxious law or of revising the constitution, it was treason. In 1866, at the village on the Stour spoken of in these pages, there was in the employ of a butcher a young man who, thinking he had a mission to his townspeople and being filled with Birmingham politics, rolled into the High street a barrel and from its upper end sought to express his views to the small company who cared to hear them. What he lacked in continuity of thought he made up in vigor of utterance. Among other things, he was troubled about lay rectors, clerical magistrates, German princes, long hours of work, expensive funerals and the limited franchise. These were strange and startling topics in a quiet, sleepy place like Shipston and among a people who religiously applied to everything in Church and State the latter part of the Gloria Patri. They did not know what to make of them, but they listened respect-fully. A week later, when the rural radical again posed upon his barrel-head, he was taken therefrom by the order of the rector, who not only threatened him with severe penalties should he persist in making “seditious” speeches, but also insisted upon his employer forthwith discharging him. The poor fellow soon found every face set against him, his character gone, his future darkened, and he was obliged to seek refuge in the great town from whence he obtained his ideas of men and manners. Everywhere he was spoken against. The good folks who measured cloth and sold sugar, the tradespeople and the gentry, avowed him to be an idle, dangerous wretch, and even the old men who weeded garden-walks and swept the streets, and the old women who went out washing and took snuff, shook their heads and said he would bring ruin upon himself This was twenty years since. In the mean time, the great agricultural strike has taken place Joseph Arch went through this same district and taught the farm-laborer that it was no sin for him to wish his week’s wages in-creased from ten shillings to twenty, and to look forward to the day when his class should have a vote and be represented in Parliament. Agitation became the order of the day. Addresses of extreme violence are made and no one thinks them out of order, and what is stranger still is that things are said not only of the government, but also of the queen, which suggest rankest disloyalty and not so long since would have cost a man his head. Speech is now free, and neither clergyman nor magistrate seeks to suppress it. I would not imply that dissatisfaction has increased. The people are firmly attached to the Crown, and not only are the probabilities of the kingdom changing into a republic becoming less, but the world looks upon the anomaly of a nation both democratical and monarchical and in-tensely loyal to both ideals.

The greatest of all questions in England is that of population. This is more apparent in the towns than in the country. Take Liverpool, for instance. An hour’s walk through the streets of that great shipping-port, so massive in its buildings and so cosmopolitan in its appearance, will bring to sight more pauperism and vice than will be revealed by years of residence in an American city, The number of barefooted children and of ragged men and women is appalling. How they keep body and soul together is a mystery. Boys sell fairly-printed copies of standard works, such as Pickwick Papers, for a penny each ; girls hawk matches at a farthing a box. Everywhere the eye beholds objects of woe, hungry wretches, dissolute rogues and abandoned beggars. Such poor souls, the refuse and residuum of high civilization, are not desirable as emigrants they take vice with them wherever they go nor does emigration decrease population. Nature is a curious dame and counteracts with renewed energy the efforts, to reduce the numbers. It is a sad thought that these worthless classes grow far more rapidly than do they who make up the brain and the muscle of a nation. What can be done with them? Whatever vice may be elsewhere, here it is gross, heavy and bold. Drunkenness abounds, depravity is rampant. To disguise the fact is impossible. The only hope seems to be in bringing the power of the gospel to bear upon the masses. That may at least make the people fit to bear the burden of life and to dò their duty in distant lands where there is room for them to live and to work. Much is being done in this direction ; more remains to be done.

The last paragraph is as a cloud upon the fair, sunny picture of England which we have sought to present, but from Hampton Court Palace to the slums of Lon-don and from Kenilworth to the smoke of Birmingham the distance is not great. That the cloud will pass away none can doubt. It does not even now retain the attention so long as do the brilliant features of English life. There are glories far greater than the shadows.

I have already spoken of the perennial youth of England. Some things grow slowly and live long; they are young when their neighbors are old. The primrose and the oak both have their day ; generations of the former pass away before the acorn has developed into a sapling. Age is a relative thing, and the fly whose life lasts ten minutes becomes old in the time which it takes the eagle to wing its way from one mountain-top to another or the tortoise to drag itself a few yards along the shore-sand. There are as yet no signs of declining power or of decaying vitality in England. Institutions are created, reformed, abolished, as the times demand. Her old men bear the weight of empire with a vigor and a strength unequalled ; her young men are as hopeful as though millenniums were yet in store for their country. Nobody thinks of decay in England ; nobody there thinks of the fading of splendor or the weakening of force. The people set to work to deal with legislative questions with all the enthusiasm of a nation just beginning to shape its constitution. They are not trying to patch up a weatherbeaten, worn-out thing, sticking a bit of straw on the roof to keep the rain out till the old house falls down ; they do not think about houses the work and shelter of a generation : they deal with rocks moss-grown and heavy, the formation of ages, and they quarry, shape and build, mould the massive stone into that which neither wind can overthrow nor rain wash away, set it against ocean’s wave and war’s artillery, and thus work, not for an age, but for all time.

The religion of England is another glory. I need not speak of its nature ; all men know the vitality and the purity of the Christianity which has long reigned there. It is Protestant, and Protestant it will remain till the end of time. In the great moral and spiritual re-forms of the age the Church is doing her part, wrestling with the ignorance, irreligion and shame of the masses in the great cities, striving to stay the deadly flood of intemperance which at one time threatened to destroy all things and is still mighty for evil, and seeking in every way to better the lot of the people and to guide them to an inheritance beyond the flood of time and of change. Moreover, the best of England’s sons are going forth to bear the tidings of a redeeming Lord to the ends of the earth. Nations that have long sat in darkness are be-ginning to see the great light ; the cross is uplifted in the cities of China and in the forest-wilds of Africa; martyr-blood has watered the seed of truth sown; the same hymns and the same prayers which are offered up to the Almighty amid the ancient glories of a Westminster are sung and said in tens of thousands of humbler temples scattered on distant shores. ,And though other nations are doing good work for Christ, yet it seems given to men of Anglo-Saxon race to lead the way and to be the first in the army of spiritual conquest and occupation. It was through the people of Canaan that all the nations of the earth were blessed ; it is through us to-day that those blessings are increased. The glory and the life of England’s future will be long and great even as she is faithful to her trust and true to her God.

Nor must the colonies be forgotten. England has fringed the sea with her settlements and developed nations in distant parts of the earth. Take the map of the world and see how the red lines of her realm rest in every quarter of the globe, on every continent and in every sea. Venice built a city on the flood ; England has created an empire on the mighty main. Think of vast Australia, and the beautiful islands of New Zealand; of golden India, and the rich Africa of the South ; of myriad isles which dot the tide-stirred waters ; and of wide, ocean-bounded and vigorous Canada. These communities have all the same language, institutions, beliefs and books. They are peopled by the descendants of the men who ages back ploughed the plains and subdued the mountains of Great Britain. The manners and the customs which prevail in England prevail in these other lands. As children of the one mother they are bound by the indissoluble ties of race. What may be their future political connection I cannot say; only this I know that there are stronger bonds of union than mere legislative acts. Each may be independent so far as parliaments are concerned, and yet be one in religion, sentiment, literature, tongue, habits, history and aim. These were found to hold the Greek colonies of three thousand years ago loyal to their mother-land ; they will be found to be the strength of a nobler empire than scholars can devise or statesmen create. A whiff of opinion can sever mere political ties; no revolution, be it ever so violent or wide-reaching, can possibly change the language taught by the fathers. It was once a prevailing idea that the Christian Church could not be held together unless every member of it believed the same doctrines and obeyed the same supreme jurisdiction; we have lived to see that Christianity suffers nothing from having burst asunder the bands of cast-iron organization. This very century,. which is by some so severely condemned for its denominationalism, has been equalled by no age in its devotion to Christ and to the propagation of the faith. Possibly the like truth may be reached in the social life. At any rate, even in the streets of London or in the meadows of Warwick-shire the thoughts go out to the greater Englands beyond the seas. There is the vision of this vast continent —its, happy homes, its wide farmlands, its vast cities, busy towns and flourishing villages, its comparative freedom from the pauperism of the Old World, its schools and colleges, its advantages of success to all who are sober, industrious and plodding, a picture of peace and plenty, of joy and hope. England is as a sacred shrine around which men of her race are building the walls of a noble minster. Nations that shall love her shall be her strength and her glory. Nations that shall speak her tongue shall sing the praises of her past, delight themselves in her history and show in their own life the beauty and the power of inherited virtues and transmitted graces. Shakespeare shall live beside the St. Lawrence, the Hudson and the Murray, as well as on the Avon and the Thames; the same Scriptures shall be read in the valleys of the great mountains of the West as in the glens and on the plains of God-fearing Britain. Transplanting does not injure the Anglo-Saxon. The dahlia is a native of tropical America ; there it rears its yellow disk and its dull scarlet rays to the sun: in our Northern gardens it has developed into a flower of brighter hue and deeper color. Change of clime has done much for it, and even here its cuttings are found to flourish best in a soil different from that in which grows the parent-plant. So the Anglo-Saxon has not suffered by passing from his European home to America or to Australia. He has taken with him the spirit, the cour age and the devotion of his race ; he has developed them till he has given to the land of his adoption a greater lustre and a stronger life than belong to the land of his birth ; he has made ancient virtues grow as lovely and as true as ever, whether in homes beneath the burning suns of the South or on the borders of the eternal ice-bound North.

I lay down my pen and turn my thoughts away from the social problems, the physical beauties, the delightful associations and the pleasant memories of the old country. The work is done, the story is told ; if the reader is not satisfied, be sure the fault lies in the author, and not in the subject. One picture only remains not that of the reader casting aside as a thing of little value a book written both to please and to instruct which he may do or not at his pleasure but that of a summer eventide beside the flowing Stour. The willows deepen the shadows on the water; the nightingale sings the song of love in the apple trees close by ; from far away comes the murmuring melody of pealing bells, and the setting sun sends the streams of golden light through the elms, over the fields and past the hoary church-tower. There are rowers on the river, and the soft winds bear hither and thither the aroma of gardens and orchards and the chorus of young men and young maidens. Quiet, gentle, joyful peace! The great world is far away, and as the twilight comes on and the glow of the west fades into night-shadows the strange sweetness of rural life makes itself felt, and the soul passes into the mystical borderland between earth and heaven,far away from turmoil and from tumult into the restfulness of the garden of delights. The days gone by and the days to come mingle with the day that now is. time seems to have died and misery and sin to have gone for ever ; and in the glory of the dying eventide I pluck a folded daisy from the grass and I lay it beside a pure red rose, emblem of homely virtues and lovely graces twined together in eternal oneness, even as Nature and History have made one beautiful realm, and a gentle spirit by my side whispers,

” Truth and love, restfulness and peace the Heart of Merrie England !”