Robert Naylor.

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up in his hand and explaining to the children that it was the skull of
some poor fellow amongst the thousands who had been slain in that great
battle, and describing the misery that followed it, to teach them, and
all mankind, the curse of war.


Then followed the questions of the little children, often difficult to
answer as everybody knows, and which even puzzled, old Kaspar himself:

"Now tell us all about the war,
And what they killed each other for."

"It was the English," Kaspar cried,
"Who put the French to rout;
But what they killed each other for
I could not well make out.
But everybody said," quoth he,
"That 'twas a famous victory."

"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin: -
"Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

We found a very comfortable hotel at Woodstock where we got a splendid
tea, and stayed some time, with an inward desire to stay longer; but we
wanted to reach Oxford that night, and so walked on in the dark and
arrived at the Temperance Hotel there at ten o'clock p.m.

We had seen a few bonfires on our way, but when November 5th happened to
fall on a Sunday, causing the ceremonies of the "glorious fifth" to be
celebrated either a day sooner or a day later, the proceedings
invariably fell flat and lost their éclat; but Oxford was notorious on
Gunpowder Day for a faction fight known as the Gown and the Town fight,
which generally began in front of the church dedicated to St. Mary the
Virgin, and on that day more heads were damaged in the city than on any
other day in the year, the fight always ending in a number of both
parties being taken care of for the night. But the custom was now dying
out, and as our entry into the city was on November 4th, probably these
festivities had not taken place or we had arrived too late to witness

(_Distance walked twenty miles_.)


_Sunday, November 5th._

I was roused in good time this morning by my brother knocking at my door
and wishing me many happy returns of my birthday, consequently we were
able to go out in the town before breakfast and see how Oxford looked in
the daylight. As we walked through the principal streets we were
astonished at the number of towers and spires on the churches and
colleges, which appeared in every direction, and the number of trees and
gardens which surrounded them. We saw the Martyrs' Memorial, which we
must have passed as we entered the city the previous night, an elaborate
and ornate structure, fully seventy feet high, with a cross at the
summit. The monument had been erected at a cost of £5,000, to the memory
of Bishops Ridley and Latimer, who were burnt to death near the spot,
October 16th, 1555, and of Archbishop Cranmer, who followed them on
March 21st, 1556; their statues in Caen stone filled three of the
niches. The memorial was decorated after the manner of the Eleanor
Crosses erected by King Edward I in memory of his wife, the Queen
Eleanor, and the inscription on the base was as follows:

_To the Glory of God and in grateful commemoration of His
servants - Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, prelates of
the Church of England; who near this spot yielded their bodies to be
burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed
and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and
rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ,
but also to suffer for His sake. This monument was erected by public
subscription in the year of our Lord God MDCCCXLI_.

Ridley and Latimer were burned together on the slope of the city near
Balliol College, where stakes had been placed to receive them. On the
day of their execution they were brought from their prison and compelled
to listen to a sermon full of reproaches and uncharitable insinuations
from the preacher, Dr. Smith, who took his text from the thirteenth
chapter of St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians: "If I give my
body to be burned, and have not charity, it availeth me nothing."

[Illustration: OXFORD'S TOWERS. "We were astonished at the number of
towers and spires on the churches and colleges which appeared in every
direction, and the number of trees and gardens which were around them."]

Each of the bishops expressed a desire to reply to the sermon, but
neither of them was allowed to do so, and they were led to the place of
execution. Ridley was told that if he would recant, his life would be
spared, but he replied, "So long as the breath is in my body I will
never deny my Lord Christ and His known truth. God's will be done in

His companion, Latimer, before he removed his prison dress, looked like
a withered and bent old man, but afterwards appeared quite changed, and
stood upright, "as comely a father as one might lightly behold." He
distributed several small articles he had about him amongst his friends
who stood near him, and said, "Well, there is nothing hid but it shall
be opened" - a remark he had often made before - and then he prayed aloud
to the Almighty, concluding with the words, "I beseech Thee, Lord God,
take mercy on this realm of England, and deliver the same from all her


After embracing each other they were chained to the stakes, and the
faggots of wood piled around them, while a brother-in-law tied a bag of
gunpowder round Ridley's neck. As the fires were being lighted, the
brave old Latimer uttered these memorable words:

"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day
light such a candle in England as I trust shall never be put out!"

He then received the flame in his hands, as if embracing it, and,
stroking his face with it, died apparently without pain.

Ridley lived longer, but when the powder exploded, he fell dead at
Latimer's feet. Latimer had often prayed during his imprisonment that he
might shed his heart's blood for the truth, and that God would restore
His gospel to England, and preserve the Lady Elizabeth. As his body was
consumed, the bystanders were astonished at the quantity of blood that
gushed from his heart. His words proved to be prophetic, for the fires
of the martyrs restored the light to their country, and spread like
wildfire throughout the land, carrying all before them. How strong must
have been their belief when, with the offer of life held out to them,
they elected to die for the faith "which is in Christ Jesus."

Cranmer had signed a recantation and was brought to St. Mary's Church to
proclaim his adhesion to the Roman faith, but instead of doing so, he
created a great sensation by boldly repudiating all he had said in
favour of Romish assumption. He said it was contrary to the truth; and
"as for the Pope," he continued. "I refuse him as anti-Christ." A great
uproar followed. The preacher shouted, "Stop the heretic's mouth!" and
Cranmer was immediately led out to be burnt, suffering death on that
same day, March 21, 1556. A portion of the stake to which he was
fastened and the band of iron which was placed round his waist were
still preserved at Oxford.

Mary, who was Queen of England at that time, was a zealous Roman
Catholic, and the Reformers were looked upon as heretics, and punished
accordingly. So many of them were executed during her reign, that she
became known to history as "Bloody Mary." Her sister Elizabeth was known
to favour the Protestants, and as she would follow as Queen of England,
her life was often in danger. It was for her preservation that Latimer
so often prayed. Mary's reign was a short one, but Elizabeth was spared
to reign over England for the long period of forty-four years. Foxe's
_Book of Martyrs_ describes the horrible sufferings of many of these
martyrs, and, though an awful book to read, was one of the few books
extensively published in our early days, chained copies being placed in
many churches, some of which we saw on our journey.


A small group of excited people were standing near the Martyrs'
Memorial, and we passed several others in the city. On inquiry we were
informed that the body of a murdered woman had been found during the
night, on the Banbury road. On hearing this news I must confess to
feeling some slight apprehension when I considered the strong prima
facie case that could have been made against us: our travel-stained
appearance, faces bronzed almost to the colour of the red soil we had
walked over, beards untrimmed and grown as nature intended them, clothes
showing signs of wear and tear, our heavy oaken sticks with worn
ferrules, and our suspicious and seedy-looking bags; our late arrival
last night, and, above all, the fact that we had entered the town by the
very road on which the murder had been committed! What if we were
arrested on suspicion! I had been practically arrested under far less
suspicious circumstances the previous year, when we were walking home
from London.


Just before reaching Nottingham we saw a large concourse of people in an
open space some distance away from our road; out of curiosity we went to
see what was going on, and found it to be a cricket match just
finishing. Two men in the crowd to whom we spoke told us that great
interest was being taken in the match, as a man named Grace was taking
part in the game. We waited till the end, and came along with the two
men towards the town. We had to cross the bridge over the River Trent,
and my brother had already crossed when he found I was not following. So
he turned back, and saw me talking to a policeman in the centre of the
bridge. "What's the matter?" he shouted, and I replied, "He wants to
look in my bag." My brother made use of some expression quite unusual to
him, and a regular war of words ensued between him and the officer; as
we declined to open the bag, he requested us to follow him to a small
temporary police office that had been built on the side of the bridge.
Meantime a crowd of men had collected and followed us to the station;
every pane of glass in the office windows was occupied by the faces of
curious observers. The officer quite lost his temper, saying that he had
had men like us there before. We asked him to break the bag open, but he
declined to do so, and made himself very disagreeable, which caused my
brother to remark afterwards that we ought to have thrown him over the
parapet of the bridge into the river below, if only to cool his temper.
It would have pleased us to stay and fight the matter out, but we had a
friend meeting us at Buxton to accompany us on the last day's march
home, and were obliged to give in on that account; so we opened the bag,
and it was amusing to see the crestfallen appearance of the officer when
he saw the contents, and his fiery temperature almost fell below zero
when we told him we should report the matter to his chief. We heard in
the town that some of the squires on that side of Nottingham had been
troubled with poachers on their estates, and the police had orders to
examine all persons with suspicious-looking parcels coming into the
town by that road, whether by vehicles or on foot. About a fortnight
before our adventure the same policeman had stopped a man who was
carrying a similar bag to mine, and found in it a complete set of
housebreaker's tools. He had been complimented by the magistrates for
his smart capture, so possibly our reluctance to open the bag, and its
similarity to that carried by the housebreaker, had confirmed him in his
opinion that he was about to make a similar capture. Another thought,
however, that occurred to me was that the man I was walking with might
be "known to the police," as I noticed he disappeared in the crowd
immediately the officer approached. But be that as it may, we wrote to
the Chief Constable of Police at Nottingham soon after we reached home,
who replied very civilly, and said he hoped we would not proceed with
the case further, as just then the police in that neighbourhood had very
difficult duties to perform, and so the matter ended.

[Illustration: MERTON GARDENS.]

But to return to Oxford. My brother only smiled at my fears, and
remarked that being apprehended by the police would only be a small
matter compared with being taken to prison and put on the treadmill, a
position in which he boasted of having once been placed. When he
happened to mention this to a tramp on the road, I was greatly amused to
hear the tramp in a significant and confidential tone of voice quietly
ask, "What was you in for?"

He was only a small boy at the time, and had gone with our father, who
was on the jury, to the county prison. Part of the jury's business in
the interval was to inspect the arrangements there, which of course were
found in applepie order. My brother was greatly impressed by his own
importance when the man in livery at the head of the procession
repeatedly called to the crowd, "Make way for the Grand Jury!" He saw
the prisoners picking "oakum," or untwisting old ropes that had been
used in boats, tearing the strands into loose hemp to be afterwards used
in caulking the seams between the wood planks on the decks and sides of
ships, so as to make them water-tight; and as it was near the prisoners'
dinner-time, he saw the food that had been prepared for their dinner in
a great number of small tin cans with handles attached, each containing
two or three small pieces of cooked meat, which he said smelled very

Finally they came to the treadmill, and as no prisoners were on it,
some of the jury expressed a wish to try it; one of the jurymen seeing
my brother, who was the only child present, kindly took him on and held
him by the hand. When all were in position the wheel was started slowly,
and as one step went down they mounted the next, and so on up the
stairs, but they never got to the top! The steps creaked under them as
the wheel turned slowly round, and a prison officer stood behind them
with a big stick, which he was careful not to use on any of the jurymen,
though my brother heard him say he had to use it sometimes on the
prisoners. As the wheel turned round it moved some kind of machinery
which they could not see.

[Illustration: GREAT TOM BELL, OXFORD.]

But to return to Oxford again. We were not suspected of being concerned
in the murder, nor did we venture to inquire whether the culprit had
been found, for fear that we might be suspected of being concerned in
the case; but if a police raid had been made on the Oxford Temperance
Hotel - most unlikely thing to happen - we should have been able to
produce a good record for that day, at any rate, for we attended four
different services in four different places of worship. The first was at
Christ Church, whither we had been advised to go to listen to the choir,
whose singing at that time was considered to be the best in Oxford.
Certainly the musical part of the service was all that could be desired.
There were more than twenty colleges at Oxford, and we had a busy day,
for between the services we looked through the "Quads," with their fine
gardens and beautiful lawns, hundreds of years old. In the services,
every phase of religious thought in the Church of England seemed to be
represented - the High Church, the Low Church, and the Broad Church; and
many men in all vocations and professions in life had passed through the
colleges, while valuable possessions had been bequeathed to them from
time to time, until Oxford had become a veritable storehouse of valuable
books, pictures, and relics of all kinds, and much of the history of the
British Empire seemed to have been made by men who had been educated
there. It would have taken us quite a week to see Oxford as it ought to
be seen, but we had only this one day, and that a Sunday.


Christ Church, where we went to our first service, one of the finest
buildings in Oxford, was founded by the great Wolsey in the reign of
Henry VIII. It contains the statue and portrait of the Cardinal, and in
the Library his Cardinal's Hat, also his Prayer Book - one of its most
valued possessions, beautifully illuminated and bound in crimson velvet
set with pearls and dated 1599. The famous bell of Christ Church, known
as the "Great Tom," weighing about 17,000 lbs., is tolled every night at
five minutes past nine o'clock - 101 times, that being the original
number of the students at the college - and at its solemn sound most of
the colleges and halls closed their gates. The students were formerly
all supposed to be housed at that hour, but the custom is not now
observed - in fact, there was some doubt about it even in the time of
Dean Aldrich, the author of the well-known catch, "Hark! the bonny
Christ Church bells," published in 1673:

Hark the bonny Christ Church Bells
1 2 3 4 5 6 -
They sound so wondrous great, so woundy sweet
As they trowl so merrily, merrily.
Oh! the first and second bell.
That every day at four and ten, cry,
"Come, come, come, come to prayers!"
And the verger troops before the Dean.
Tinkle, tinkle, ting, goes the small bell at nine.
To call the bearers home;
But the devil a man
Will leave his can
Till he hears the mighty Tom.

The great bell originally belonged to Oseney Abbey, and hung in the
fine cupola over the entrance gate, named after it the "Great Tom Gate,"
and had been tolled every night with one exception since May 29, 1684.

The statue of Wolsey, which now stood over the gateway, was carved by an
Oxford man named Bird in the year 1719, at the expense of Trelawny,
Bishop of Winchester, one of the seven bishops and hero of the famous
ballad -

And shall Trelawny die?

At the time of the Restoration Dr. John Fell was appointed
Vice-Chancellor, and he not only made the examinations very severe, but
he made the examiners keep up to his standard, and was cordially hated
by some of the students on that account. An epigram made about him at
that time has been handed down to posterity:

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell;
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.

William Penn, the Quaker, the famous founder of the Colony of
Pennsylvania, "came up" to Christ Church in 1660, but was "sent down" in
1660 for nonconformity.

[Illustration: LEWIS CARROLL.]

But we were more interested in a modern student there, C.L. Dodgson, who
was born in 1832 at Daresbury in Cheshire, where his father was rector,
and quite near where we were born. There was a wood near his father's
rectory where he, the future "Lewis Carroll," rambled when a child,
along with other children, and where it was thought he got the first
inspirations that matured in his famous book _The Adventures of Alice in
Wonderland_, which was published in 1865 - one of the most delightful
books for children ever written. We were acquainted with a clergyman who
told us that it was the greatest pleasure of his life to have known
"Lewis Carroll" at Oxford, and that Queen Victoria was so delighted with
Dodgson's book _Alice in Wonderland_, that she commanded him if ever he
wrote another book to dedicate it to her. Lewis Carroll was at that time
engaged on a rather abstruse work on _Conic Sections_, which, when
completed and published, duly appeared as "Dedicated by express command
to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria." The appearance of this
book caused some surprise and amusement, as it was not known that the
Queen was particularly interested in _Conic Sections_. No doubt Her
Majesty anticipated, when she gave him the command personally, that his
next book would be a companion to the immortal _Alice_.

Our friend the vicar, who told us this story, rather surprised us when
he said that Lewis Carroll did not like the sea, and had written a "Sea
Dirge," which, when recited at parochial entertainments, generally
brought "down the house" at the conclusion of the ninth verse:


There are some things like a spider, a ghost.
The income tax, the gout, an umbrella for three.
That I hate, but the thing I hate the most,
Is a thing they call the sea.

Pour some salt water over the floor.
Ugly I'm sure you'll allow that to be,
Suppose it extended a mile or more,
That would be like the sea.

Beat a dog till it howls outright -
Cruel, but all very well for a spree;
Suppose it did so day and night,
That would be like the sea.

I had a vision of nursery maids,
Tens of thousands passed by me,
Each carrying children with wooden spades,
And that was by the sea.

Who could have invented those spades of wood?
Who was it that cut them out of the tree?
None, I think, but an idiot could -
Or one who loved the sea.

It is pleasant and dreamy, no doubt to float
With thoughts as boundless and souls as free,
But suppose you are very unwell in the boat -
Then how do you like the sea?

Would you like coffee with sand for dregs?
A decided hint of salt in your tea?
And a fishy taste in the very eggs?
Then by all means choose the sea.

And if with such dainties to drink and eat
You prefer not a vestige of grass or a tree,
And a chronic condition of wet in your feet,
Then - I recommend the sea.

There is an animal people avoid.
Whence is derived the verb to flee,
Where have you been by it most annoyed?
In lodgings by the sea.

Once I met with a friend in the street,
With wife and nurse and children three;
Never again such a sight may I meet,
As that party from the sea.

Their looks were sullen, their steps were slow,
Convicted felons they seemed to be, -
"Are you going to prison, dear friend?" - "Oh no;
We're returning from the sea!"

[Illustration: GUY FAWKES'S LANTERN.]

Every college had some legend or story connected with it, and University
College claimed to have been founded by King Alfred the Great, but this
is considered a myth; King Alfred's jewel, however, a fine specimen of
Saxon work in gold and crystal, found in the Isle of Athelney, was still
preserved in Oxford. Guy Fawkes's lantern and the sword given to Henry
VIII as Defender of the Faith were amongst the curios in the Bodleian
Library, but afterwards transferred to the Ashmolean Museum, which
claimed to be the earliest public collection of curiosities in England,
the first contributions made to it having been given in 1682 by Elias
Ashmole, of whom we had heard when passing through Lichfield. In the
eighteenth century there was a tutor named Scott who delivered a series
of lectures on Ancient History, which were considered to be the finest
ever known, but he could never be induced to publish them. In one of his
lectures he wished to explain that the Greeks had no chimneys to their
houses, and created much amusement by explaining it in his scholarly and
roundabout fashion: "The Greeks had no convenience by which the volatile
parts of fire could be conveyed into the open air." This tutor was a
friend of the great Dr. Johnson, and seemed to have been quite an
original character, for when his brother, John Scott, who was one of his
own pupils, came up for examination for his degree in Hebrew and
History, the only questions he put to him were, "What is the Hebrew for
skull?" to which John promptly replied "Golgotha," and "Who founded
University College?" to which his reply was "King Alfred!" Both the
brothers were very clever men, and the tutor developed into Lord
Stowell, while the pupil was created Lord Eldon.


Jesus, the Welsh College, possessed an enormous silver punch-bowl, 5
feet 2 inches in girth, which was presented in 1732 by the great Sir
Watkin Williams-Wynn, who was known as the King _in_ Wales. Over his
great kitchen mantelpiece there he had the words "Waste not, want not,"
a motto which did not appear to apply to the punchbowl, for the
conditions attached to it were that it was to become the property of him
who could span it with his arms and then drain the bowl empty after it
had been filled with strong punch. The first condition had been complied
with, and the second no doubt had been often attempted, but no one had
yet appeared who had a head strong enough to drain the bowl without

Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 44 of 66)