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Robert Naylor.

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"_Answer_. - My duty towards God, is to believe in Him, to fear Him, and
to love Him with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and
with all my strength; to worship Him, to give Him thanks, to put my
whole trust in Him, to call upon Him, to honour His holy Name and His
Word, and to serve Him truly all the days of my life.

"_Question_. - What is thy duty towards thy Neighbour?

"_Answer_. - My duty towards my Neighbour, is to love him as myself, and
to do unto all men, as I would they should do unto me: To love, honour,
and succour my father and mother: To honour and obey the Queen, and all
that are put in authority under her: To submit myself to all my
governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters: To order myself
lowly and reverently to all my betters: To hurt no body by word nor
deed: To be true and just in all my dealing: To bear no malice nor
hatred in my heart: To keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my
tongue from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering: To keep my body in
temperance, soberness, and chastity: Not to covet nor desire other men's
goods; but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do
my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call
me."

The word "duty" in the last paragraph of the explanation of one's duty
to one's neighbour must have been in the thoughts of both Nelson and his
men at the Battle of Trafalgar when he signalled, "England expects that
every man this day will do his duty." Although objections may be raised
to clauses in the summary, we always thought that our country could be
none the worse, but all the better, if every one learned and tried to
act up to the principles contained in these summaries of the Ten
Commandments.

In the evening we attended St. John's Church, where the Vicar officiated
and preached from Isaiah lxvii. 7 to a large congregation, and after the
service we returned to our hotel.

Keswick was a great resort of tourists and holiday people, and we were
not without company at the hotel, from whom we obtained plenty of advice
concerning our route on the morrow. We were strongly recommended to see
the Druidical Circle and to climb Skiddaw, whose summit was over 3,000
feet above sea-level, from which we should have a view scarcely
surpassed in the whole of Europe, and a scene that would baffle the
attempts of ordinary men to describe, having taxed even the powers of
Southey and Wordsworth. These recommendations and others were all
qualified with the words "if fine." But, oh that little word "if" - so
small that we scarcely notice it, yet how much does it portend! At any
rate we could not arrive at a satisfactory decision that night, owing to
the unfavourable state of the weather.




FIFTH WEEK'S JOURNEY

A WEEK IN THE RAIN


_Monday, October 16th._

The morning was showery, but we were obliged to continue our walk, so we
left Keswick with the intention of visiting the Falls of Lodore, the
large Bowder Stone, and the Yew Trees in Borrowdale, and afterwards
crossing over the fells to visit the graves of the poets at Grasmere. We
had been recommended to ascend the Castle Rigg, quite near the town, in
order to see the fine views from there, which included Bassenthwaite
Lake and Derwent Water. The poet Gray, who died in 1771, was so much
impressed by the retrospect, and with what he had seen from the top
where once the castle stood, that he declared he had "a good mind to go
back again." Unfortunately we had to forgo even that ascent, as the rain
descended in almost torrential showers. So we journeyed on in the rain
alongside the pretty lake of Derwent Water, which is about three miles
long and about a mile and a half broad, the water being so clear, we
were informed, that a small stone could be seen even if five or six
yards below the surface. It was certainly a lovely lake, and, with its
nicely wooded islands dotting its surface, recalled memories of Loch
Lomond. The first of these islands, about six acres in extent, was named
the Vicar's or Derwent Island, on which a family mansion had been
erected. On Lord's Island, which was quite near the side, were the ruins
of an old summer-house built by the Ratcliffe family with the stones
from their ruined castle on Castlerigg. The third island, which was in
the centre of the lake, also had a summer-house that had been built
there by the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, composed of unhewn stone and
covered with moss to make it look ancient. This was known as St.
Herbert's Island, after a holy hermit who lived there in the sixth
century, the ruins of whose hermitage could still be traced. It was said
that so great and perfect was the love of this saintly hermit for his
friend St. Cuthbert of Holy Island, whose shrine was ultimately settled
at Durham, that he used to pray that he might expire the moment the
breath of life quitted the body of his friend, so that their souls might
wing their flight to heaven in company.

Although not so large as Lake Windermere, Derwent Water was considered
the most beautiful of the lakes because of these lovely islands on its
surface and the grand hills that encircled it. This lake of unsurpassed
beauty was associated both in name and reality with the unfortunate Earl
of Derwentwater, who suffered death for the part he took in the Jacobite
rising in 1715, and to whom Lord's Island belonged. He was virtually
compelled by his countess to join the rising, for when she saw his
reluctance to do so, she angrily threw her fan at his feet, and
commanded him take that and hand her his sword. The Earl gravely picked
it up, returned it to her, and, drawing his sword, cried, "God save King
James!" The Jacobites were supporters of James II, who was supplanted by
William III, Prince of Orange, in 1689, James then retreating to
Ireland, where he was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The
rising in which the Earl of Derwentwater took part in the year 1715 was
in support of the son of James II, James Edward, whose adherents were
defeated at Preston in November of the same year, the unfortunate Earl,
with many others, being taken prisoner. The son of this James Edward was
the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" so beloved of the Scots, who landed to claim
the English Crown in 1745, and was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in
1746, where the Jacobite movement found its grave. Much sympathy was
felt at the time for the young Earl of Derwentwater, and there was a
tradition in the family that in times of great peril a supernatural
figure appeared to warn them of approaching fate. It is said that when
his lordship was wandering over the hills, a figure approached clothed
in the robe and hood of grey which the supernatural figure always wore,
gave him a crucifix, which was to render him proof against bullet and
sword, and then immediately disappeared. The Earl joined the insurgents,
who were defeated by the Royal troops at Preston, and he, with other
leaders, was taken to London, placed in the Tower, and condemned to
death for treason. His wife, taking the family jewels with her, implored
King George I, on her knees, for mercy; and Sir Robert Walpole declared
in the House of Commons that he had been offered £60,000 if he would
obtain Lord Derwentwater's pardon; but all efforts were in vain, for he
died by the axe on Tower Hill, February 24th, 1716, and his estates were
forfeited to the Government.

[Illustration: FALLS OF LODORE.]

We enjoyed our walk along Derwentwater in spite of the weather, but as
we approached Lodore, and heard the noise of the waters, we realised
that we had scored one great advantage from the continued rain, for we
could not have seen the falls to better advantage, as they fully carried
out the description of Southey, written when he was Poet Laureate of
England, in the following jingling rhyme:

"How does the water come down at Lodore?"
My little boy asked me thus, once on a time,
Moreover, he task'd me to tell him in rhyme;
Anon at the word there first came one daughter.
And then came another to second and third
The request of their brother, and hear how the water
Comes down at Lodore, with its rush and its roar,
As many a time they had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme, for of rhymes I had store.
And 'twas my vocation that thus I should sing.
Because I was laureate to them and the king.

Visitors to the Lake District, who might chance to find fine weather
there, would be disappointed if they expected the falls to be equal to
the poet's description, since heavy rains are essential to produce all
the results described in his poem. But seen as we saw them, a torrential
flood of water rushing and roaring, the different streams of which they
were composed dashing into each other over the perpendicular cliffs on
every side, they presented a sight of grandeur and magnificence never to
be forgotten, while the trees around and above seemed to look on the
turmoil beneath them as if powerless, except to lend enchantment to the
impressive scene.

And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing -
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever are blending.
All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar -
And this way the water comes down at Lodore!

The water rolled in great volumes down the crags, the spray rising in
clouds, and no doubt we saw the falls at their best despite the absence
of the sun. Near Lodore, and about 150 yards from the shore of
Derwentwater, was a floating island which at regular intervals of a few
years rises from the bottom exposing sometimes nearly an acre in extent,
and at others only a few perches. This island was composed of a mass of
decayed weeds and earthy matter, nearly six feet in thickness, covered
with vegetation, and full of air bubbles, which, it was supposed,
penetrated the whole mass and caused it to rise to the surface.

[Illustration: HEAD OF DERWENTWATER. "So we journeyed on in the rain
alongside the pretty lake of Derwentwater; ... with its nicely wooded
islands dotting its surface it recalled memories of Loch Lomond."]

By this time we had become quite accustomed to being out in the rain and
getting wet to the skin, but the temperature was gradually falling, and
we had to be more careful lest we should catch cold. It was very
provoking that we had to pass through the Lake District without seeing
it, but from the occasional glimpses we got between the showers we
certainly thought we were passing through the prettiest country in all
our travels. In Scotland the mountains were higher and the lakes, or
lochs, much larger, but the profiles of the hills here, at least of
those we saw, were prettier. About two miles from the Falls of Lodore we
arrived at the famous Bowder Stone. We had passed many crags and through
bewitching scenery, but we were absolutely astonished at the size of
this great stone, which Wordsworth has described as being like a
stranded ship:

Upon a semicirque of turf-clad ground,
A mass of rock, resembling, as it lay
Right at the foot of that moist precipice,
A stranded ship with keel upturned, that rests
Careless of winds and waves.

[Illustration: THE BOWDER STONE.]

The most modest estimate of the weight of the Bowder Stone was 1,771
tons, and we measured it as being 21 yards long and 12 yards high. This
immense mass of rock had evidently fallen from the hills above. We
climbed up the great stone by means of a ladder or flight of wooden
steps erected against it to enable visitors to reach the top. But the
strangest thing about it was the narrow base on which the stone rested,
consisting merely of a few narrow ledges of rock. We were told that
fifty horses could shelter under it, and that we could shake hands with
each other under the bottom of the stone, and although we could not test
the accuracy of the statement with regard to the number of horses it
could shelter, we certainly shook hands underneath it. To do this we had
to lie down, and it was not without a feeling of danger that we did so,
with so many hundreds of tons of rock above our heads, and the thought
that if the rock had given way a few inches we should have been reduced
to a mangled mass of blood and bones. Our friendly greeting was not of
long duration, and we were pleased when the ceremony was over. There is
a legend that in ancient times the natives of Borrowdale endeavoured to
wall in the cuckoo so that they might have perpetual spring, but the
story relates that in this they were not entirely successful, for the
cuckoo just managed to get over the wall. We now continued our journey
to find the famous Yew Trees of Borrowdale, which Wordsworth describes
in one of his pastorates as "those fraternal four of Borrowdale":

But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;
Nor uniformed with Phantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane; a pillared shade,
From whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially - beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose decked
With unrejoicing berries - ghostly shapes
May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton,
And Time the Shadow; there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o'er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves.

[Illustration: BORROWDALE AND SEATHWAITE]

It was a lonely place where the four yew trees stood, though not far
from the old black lead works which at one time produced the finest
plumbago for lead pencils in the world. As the rain was falling heavily,
we lit a fire under the largest of the four trees, which measured about
twenty-one feet in circumference at four feet from the ground, and
sheltered under its venerable shade for about an hour, watching a
much-swollen streamlet as it rolled down the side of a mountain.

Near the yew trees there was a stream which we had to cross, as our next
stage was over the fells to Grasmere; but when we came to its swollen
waters, which we supposed came from "Glaramara's inmost Caves," they
were not "murmuring" as Wordsworth described them, but coming with a
rush and a roar, and to our dismay we found the bridge broken down and
portions of it lying in the bed of the torrent. We thought of a stanza
in a long-forgotten ballad:

London Bridge is broken down!
Derry derry down, derry derry down!

Luckily we found a footbridge lower down the stream. It was now
necessary to inquire our way at one of the isolated farms in the
neighbourhood of Borrowdale, where the people knew very little of what
was going on in the world outside their own immediate environs. We heard
a story relating to the middle of the eighteenth century, when in the
absence of roads goods had to be carried on horseback. A rustic, who had
been sent for a bag of lime, the properties of which were unknown in
remote places, placed the bag on the back of his horse, and while he was
returning up the hills the rain came on, soaking the bag so that the
lime began to swell and smoke. The youth thought that it was on fire,
so, jumping off his horse, he filled his hat with water from the stream
and threw it on the bag. This only made matters worse, for the lime
began smoking more than ever; so he lifted it from the horse's back and
placed it in the water at the edge of the stream, where, in addition to
smoking, it began to boil and to make a hissing sound, which so
frightened the young man that he rode home in terror, feeling sure that
it was the Devil who had sneaked inside the bag!

We made our way to a farmhouse which we could see in the distance, but
the farmer advised us not to attempt to cross the fells, as it was misty
and not likely to clear up that day. So we turned back, and in about two
miles met a countryman, who told us we could get to Grasmere over what
he called the "Green Nip," a mountain whose base he pointed out to us.
We returned towards the hills, but we had anything but an easy walk, for
we could find no proper road, and walked on for hours in a "go as you
please" manner. Our whereabouts we did not know, since we could only see
a few yards before us. We walked a long way up hill, and finally landed
in some very boggy places, and when the shades of evening began to come
on we became a little alarmed, and decided to follow the running water,
as we had done on a very much worse occasion in the north of Scotland.
Presently we heard the rippling of a small stream, which we followed,
though with some difficulty, as it sometimes disappeared into the rocks,
until just at nightfall we came to a gate at the foot of the fells, and
through the open door of a cottage beheld the blaze of a tire burning
brightly inside. We climbed over the gate, and saw standing in the
garden a man who stared so hard at us, and with such a look of
astonishment, that we could not have helped speaking to him in any
case, even had he not been the first human being we had seen for many
hours. When we told him where we had come from, he said we might think
ourselves lucky in coming safely over the bogs on such a misty day, and
told us a story of a gentleman from Bradford who had sunk so deeply in
one of the bogs that only with the greatest difficulty had he been
rescued.

He told us it was his custom each evening to come out of his cottage for
a short time before retiring to rest, and that about a month before our
visit he had been out one night as usual after his neighbours had gone
to bed, and, standing at his cottage door, he thought he heard a faint
cry. He listened again: yes, he could distinctly hear a cry for help. He
woke up his neighbours, and they and his son, going in the direction
from which the cries came, found a gentleman fast in the rocks. He had
been on a visit to Grasmere, and had gone out for an afternoon's walk on
the fells, when the mist came on and he lost his way. As night fell he
tried to get between some rocks, when he slipped into a crevice and
jammed himself fast between them - fortunately for himself as it
afterwards proved, for when the rescuing party arrived, they found him
in such a dangerous position that, if he had succeeded in getting
through the rocks the way he intended, he would inevitably have fallen
down the precipice and been killed.

After hearing these stories, we felt very thankful we were safely off
the fells. Without knowing it, we had passed the scene of the Battle of
Dunmail Raise, where Dunmail, the last King of Cumbria, an old British
kingdom, was said to have been killed in 945 fighting against Edmund,
King of England.

The place we had stumbled upon after reaching the foot of the fells was
Wythburn, at the head of Thirlmere Lake, quite near Amboth Hall, with
its strange legends and associations. The mansion was said to be haunted
by supernatural visitors, midnight illuminations, and a nocturnal
marriage with a murdered bride. The most remarkable feature of the
story, however, was that of the two skulls from Calgarth Hall, near
Windermere, which came and joined in these orgies at Amboth Hall. These
skulls formerly occupied a niche in Calgarth Hall, from which it was
found impossible to dislodge them. They were said to have been buried,
burned, ground to powder, dispersed by the wind, sunk in a well, and
thrown into the lake, but all to no purpose, for they invariably
appeared again in their favourite niche until some one thought of
walling them up, which proved effectual, and there they still remain.

The rain had now ceased, and the moon, only three days old, was already
visible and helped to light us on our four-mile walk to Grasmere. On our
way we overtook a gentleman visitor, to whom we related our adventure,
and who kindly offered us a drink from his flask. We did not drink
anything stronger than tea or coffee, so we could not accept the whisky,
but we were glad to accept his guidance to the best inn at Grasmere,
where we soon relieved the cravings of our pedestrian appetites, which,
as might be imagined, had grown strongly upon us.

(_Distance walked twenty-two miles_.)


_Tuesday, October 17th._

GRASMERE. Our first duty in the morning was to call at the post office
for our letters from home, and then to fortify ourselves with a good
breakfast; our next was to see the graves of the poets in the
picturesque and quiet churchyard. We expected to find some massive
monuments, but found only plain stone flags marking their quiet
resting-places, particularly that of Wordsworth, which was inscribed:

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 1850
MARY WORDSWORTH 1859.

The grave of Hartley Coleridge, his great friend, who was buried in
1849, was also there. There are few who do not know his wonderful poem,
"The Ancient Mariner," said to have been based on an old manuscript
story of a sailor preserved in the Bristol Library. Strange to say, not
far from his grave was that of Sir John Richardson, a physician and
arctic explorer, who brought home the relics of Sir John Franklin's
ill-fated and final voyage to the Arctic regions to discover the
North-West Passage. This brought to our minds all the details of that
sorrowful story which had been repeatedly told to us in our early
childhood, and was, to our youthful minds, quite as weird as that of
"The Ancient Mariner."

[Illustration: GRASMERE CHURCH.]

Sir John Franklin was born in 1786. Intended by his parents for the
Church, but bent on going to sea, he joined the Royal Navy when he was
fourteen years of age, and served as a midshipman on the _Bellerophon_
at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, afterwards taking part in Captain
Flinders' voyage of discovery along the coast of Australia. His first
voyage to the Arctic Regions was in 1818, and after a long and eventful
career he was created Governor of Van Diemen's Land in 1837, whither
criminals convicted of grave offences involving transportation for life
were sent from England, where he did much for the improvement and
well-being of the colony.

On May 19th, 1845, he left England with the two ships _Erebus_ and
_Terror_, having on board 28 officers and 111 men - in all 134 souls - on
a voyage to the Arctic Regions in the hope of discovering the North-West
Passage. They reached Stromness, in the Orkneys, on July 1st, and were
afterwards seen and spoken to in the North Sea by the whaler _Prince of
Wales_, belonging to Hull. After that all was blank.

Lady Franklin did not expect to receive any early news from her husband,
but when two years passed away without her hearing from him, she became
anxious, and offered a large reward for any tidings of him. In 1848 old
explorers went out to search for him, but without result. Still
believing he was alive, she sent out other expeditions, and one was even
dispatched from America. All England was roused, and the sympathy of the
entire nation was extended to Lady Franklin.

Nine long years passed away, but still no news, until intelligence
arrived that an Eskimo had been found wearing on his head a gold
cap-band which he said he had picked up where "the dead white men were."
Lady Franklin then made a final effort, and on July 1st, 1857, Captain
McClintock sailed from England in the _Fox_. In course of time the
matter was cleared up. It was proved that the whole of the expedition
had perished, Sir John Franklin having died on June 11th, 1847. Many
relics were found and brought back to England.

[Illustration: DOVE COTTAGE.]

Lady Franklin, who died in 1875, was still alive at the time we passed
through Grasmere. One of her last acts was to erect a marble monument to
Sir John Franklin in Westminster Abbey, and it was her great wish to
write the epitaph herself, but as she died before this was accomplished,
it was written by Alfred Tennyson, a nephew of Sir John by marriage, and
read as follows:

Not here! the white North hath thy bones, and thou
Heroic Sailor Soul!
Art passing on thy happier voyage now
Towards no earthly pole.

Dean Stanley added a note to the effect that the monument was "Erected
by his widow, who, after long waiting and sending many in search of him,
herself departed to seek and to find him in the realms of light, 18th
July, 1875, aged eighty-three years."

But to return to Grasmere. Wordsworth lived there from 1803 to 1809 at
the Dove Cottage, of which, in the first canto of "The Waggoner," he



Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 25 of 66)