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4. Form hence I went to Henley, which is eleven miles from Maidenhead, and thirtyfix from London.
Having walked pretty fast for fix English miles together, and being now only five miles from Henley, I came to a rising ground where there just happened to be a milestone, near which I sat down, to enjoy one of the most delightful prospects; the con. templation of which, I recommend to every one, who may ever happen to come to this spot. Close before me role a soft hill, full of green corn-fields, fenced with quickhedges; and the top of it was encircled with a wood.
At some little distance, in a large semicircle, one green hill rose after another, all around me, gently raising themselves aloft from the banks of the Thames, and on which woods, meadows, arable lands, and villages were interspersed in the greatest and most beautiful variety; whilst at their foot the Thames meandered, in most picturesque windings, among villages, gentlemen's seats, and green vales.
The banks of the Thames are every where beautiful, every where charming: how delighted was I with the sight of it, when, having lost it for a short time, I suddenly and unexpectedly faw it again with all its beautiful banks. In the vale below, flocks were feeding; and from the hills, I heard the sweet chimes of distant bells.
The circunstance that renders these English prospects so enchantingly beautiful, is a concurrence and union of the tout ensemble. Every thing coincides and conspires to ren. der them fine, noving, pictures. - It is impossible to name, or find a spot, on which the eye would not delight to dwell. : Any of the least beautiful of any of these views that I have seen in England, would any where in Germany, be deemed a paradise.
Reinforced, as it were, by this gratifying prospect, to support fresh fatigues, I now , walked a quick pace, both up and down the hills, the five remaining miles to Henley; where I arrived about four in the afternoon. -;
To the left, just before I got to Henley, on this side of the Thames, I saw on a hill, a fine park and a magnificent country feat ; at present occupied by general Conway.
Just before my entrance into Henley, I walked a little directly on the banks of the Thames; and fat myself down in the high grass ; whilst opposite to me, on the other fide, lay the park on the hill. As I was a little tired, I fell asleep, and when I . awaked the last rays of the setting sun just fhone upon me.
Invigorated by this sweet, though short, Number, I walked on; and entered the town. It's appearance, however, indicated that it was too fine a place for me, and so I determined to stop at an inn on the road-lide; such an one as the Vicar of Wake field well calls, “the resort of indigence and frugality.”
The worst of it was, no one, even in these places of refuge, would take me in. Yet, on this road, I met two farmers, the first of whom I asked, whether he thought I could get a night's lodging at an house which I saw at a distance, by the road fide. “ Yes, fir, I dare say you may! he replied. But he was mistaken: when I came there, I was accosted with that same harsh falutation, which though alas, no longer quite new to me, was still unpleasing to my ears, “We have got no beds ; you can't stay here to night!" It was the same at the other inn, on the road; I was therefore obliged to de. termine to walk on as far as Nettlebed, which was five miles farther ; where I arrived rather late in the evening, when it was indeed quite dark.
Every thing seemed to be all alive in this little village; there was a party of militia soldiers who were dancing, singing, and making merry. Immediately on my entrance into the village, the first house that I saw, lying on my left was an inn, from which,
as usual in England, a large beam extended across the street to the opposite house, from which hung dangling an astonishing large fign, with the name of the proprietor. : “May I stay here to night?" I asked with eagerness: “ why, yes, you may;" an anfirer, which, however cold and surly, made me exceedingly happy.
They shewed me into the kitchen, and set me down to sup at the same table with some foldiers and the servants. I now, for the first time, found myself in one of those kitchens which I had so often read of in Fielding's fine novels; and which certainly give one, on the whole, a very accurate idea of English manners.
The chimney in this kitchen, where they were roasting and boiling, seemed to be taken off from the rest of the room and enclosed by a wooden partition : the rest of the apartment was made use of as a fitting and eating room. All round on the sides were shelves with pewter dishes and plates, and the ceiling was well stored with provisions of various kinds, such as sugar-loaves, black-puddings, hams, sausages, flitches of bacon, &c. . While I was eating, a post-chaise drove up; and in a moment both the folding-doors were thrown open, and the whole house set in motion, in order to receive, with all due respect, these guests, who, no doubt, were supposed to be persons of consequence. The gentlemen alighted however only for a moment, and called for nothing but a couple of pots of beer ; and then drove away again. Notwithstanding the people of the house behaved to them with all possible attention, for they came in a postchaise. is
Though this was only an ordinary village, and they certainly did not take me for a person of consequence, they yet gave me a carpeted bed-room, and a very good bed.
The next morning I put on clean linen, which I had along with me, and dressed myself as well as I could. And now, when I thus made my appearance, they did not, as they had the evening before, thew me into the kitchen, but into the parlour; a room that seemed to be allotted for strangers, on the ground floor. I was also now addressed by the most respectful term, fir; whereas, the evening before I had been called only master : by this latter appellation, I believe, it is usual to address only far. mers, and quite common people.
This was Sunday; and all the family were in their sunday-cloaths. I now be. gan to be much pleased with this village, and so I resolved to stop at it for the day, and attend divine-service. For this purpose I borrowed a prayer-book of my host. Mr. IHing was his name, which struck me the more, perhaps, because it is a very common name in Germany. During my breakfast I read over several parts of the English liturgy, and could not help being struck at the circumstance that every word in the whole service seems to be prescribed and dictated to the clergyman. They do not visit the fick but by a prescribed form : as, for instance, they must begin by saying, “ Peace be to this house," &c. , Its being called a prayer book, rather than, like ours, an hymn-book, arises from
the nature of the English service, which is composed very little of linging; and also · most entirely of praying. The pfalms of David, however, are here translated into English verse; and are generally printed at the end of English prayer-books.
The prayer-book, which my landlord lent me, was quite a family-piece ; for all his children's births and names, and also his own wedding-day, were very carefully set down on it. Even on this account alone the book would not have been uninteresting to me.
noregation joining ve mercy upon us. In general, w
At half-past nine, the service began. Directly opposite to our house, the boys of the village were all drawn up, as if they had been recruits, to be drilled : all well-looking, healthy lads, neat and decently dressed, and with their hair cut short and combed on the forehead, according to the English fashion. Their bosoms were open, and the white frills of their shirts turned back on each side. They seemed to be drawn up here at the entrance of the village, merely to wait ihe arrival of the clergyman. · I walked a little way out of the village ; where, at some distance, I saw several people coming from another village, to attend divine service here at Nettlebed.
At length came the parson on horseback. The boys pulled off their hats, and all made him very low bows. He appeared to be rather an elderly man, and wore his own hair round and decently dressed; or rather curled naturally.
The bell now rung in, and so I too, with a sort of secret proud sensation, as if I also had been an Englishman, went with my prayer book under my arm to church, along with the rest of the congregation; and when I got into the church, the clerk very civilly seated me close to the pulpit.
Nothing can possibly be more simple, apt, and becoming than the few decorations of this church.
Directly over the altar, on two tables, in large letters, the ten commandments were written. "There surely is much wisdom and propriety in thus placing, full in the view of the people, the sum and substance of all morality.
Under the pulpit, near the steps that led up to it, was a desk, from which the clergy. man read the liturgy, the responses were all regularly made by the clerk; the whole congregation joining occasionally, though but in a low voice: As for instance, the mi. nister said, “Lord have mercy upon us !" the clerk and the congregation immediately subjoin, “and forgive us all our sins.” In general, when the clergyman offers up a prayer, the clerk, and the whole congregation answer only, Amen!
The English service must needs be exceedingly fatiguing to the officiating minister, inasmuch as, besides a sermon, the greatest part of the liturgy falls to his share to read, besides the psalms, and two lessons. The joining of the whole congregation in prayer has something exceedingly folemn and affecting in it. Two soldiers, who sat near me in the church, and who had probably been in London, seemed to wish to pass for phi. losophers, and wits; for they did not join in the prayers of the church.
The service was now pretty well advanced, when I observed some little stir in the desk, the clerk was busy, and they seemed to be preparing for something new and folemn; and I also perceived several musical instruments. The clergyman now stopped, and the clerk then said, in a loud voice, « Let us sing to the praise and glory of God, the fortyseventh psalm.”
I cannot well express how affecting and edifying it seemed to me, to hear this whole, orderly, and decent congregation, in this small country church, joining together, with vocal and instrumental music, in the praise of their Maker. It was the more grateful, as having been performed not by mercenary musicians, but by the peaceful and pious inhabitants, of this sweet village. I can hardly figure to myself any offering more likely to be grateful to God.
The congregation sang and prayed alternately several times; and the tunes of the psalms were particularly lively and cheerful, though at the same time sufficiently grave, and uncommonly interesting. I am a warm admirer of all sacred music; and I cannot but add, that, that of the church of England is particularly calculated to raise the heart to devotion. I own it often affected me even to tears.
Endshe whole congregation aniwer only, come
The clergyman now stood up and made a short, but very proper discourse on this text; “Not all they who say, Lord, Lord! shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” His language was particularly plain, though forcible; his arguments were no less plain, con. vincing, and earnest; but contained nothing that was particularly striking. I do not think the sermon lasted more than half an hour.
This clergyman had not perhaps a very prepossesling appearance: I thought him also a little distant and reserved ; and I did not quite like his returning the bows of the far. mers with a very formal nod.
I staid till the service was quite over; and then went out of the church with the congregation, and amused myself with reading the inscriptions on the tomb-stones, in the church-yard ; which, in general, are simpler, more pathetic, and better written than ours.
There were some of them, which, to be sure, were ludicrous and laughable enough.
Among these is one on the tomb of a sinith, which, on account of it's singularity, I here copy and send you.
« My fledge and anvil lie declin’d,
Many of these epitaphs closed with the following quaint rhymes :
“ Phyficians were in vain ;
In the body of the church I saw a marble monunent of a son of the celebrated Dr. Wallis, with the following simple and affecting infcription :
“ The same good sense which qualified him for every public employment,
All the farmers, whom I saw here, were dressed, not as ours are, in coarse frocks, but with some taste, in fine good cloth; and were to be distinguished from the people of the town, not so much by their dress, as by the greater simplicity and modesty of their behaviour.
Some földiers, who probably were ambitious of being thought to know the world, and to be wits, joined me, as I was looking at the church, and seemed to be quite alhamed of it, as, they said, it was only a very miserable church. On which I took the liberty to inform them, that no church could be miserable, which contained orderly and good people.
I staid here to dinner. In the afternoon there was no service; the young people, however, went to church, and there fang fome few pfalms. Others of the congregation were also present. This was conducted with so much decorum, that I could hardly help considering it, as, actually a kind of church-service. I staid, with great pleasure, till this meeting also was over.
I seemed I seemed indeed to be enchanted, and as if I could not leave this village. Three times did I get off, in order to go on farther, and as often returned, more than half re. Tolved to spend a week, or more, in my favourite Nettlebed.
But the recollection that I had but a few weeks to stay in England, and that I must see Derbyshire, at length drove me away. I cast many a longing, lingering look on the little church-steeple, and those hospitable friendly roofs, where, all that morning, I had found myself so perfectly at home.
It was now nearly chree o'clock in the afternoon when I left this place; and I was still 18 miles from Oxford. However, I seemed resolved to make more than one stage of it to Oxford, that seat of the muses, and so, by palling the night about five miles froin it, to reach it in good time next morning.
The road from Nettlebed seemed to me but as one long fine gravel walk in a neat garden. And my pace in it was varied, like that of one walking in a garden: I fome times walked quick, then flow, and then sat down and read Milton.
When I had got about eight miles from Nettlebed, and was now not far froni Dorchester, I had the Thames at some distance on my left; and on the opposite side, I saw an extensive hill, behind which a tall mast feenied to rise. This led me to sup. pose, that on the other side of the hill there mult needs also be a river. The prospect I promised myself from this hill could not possibly be passed; and so I went out of the road to the left over a bridge across the Thames, and mounted the hill, always keeping the mast in view. When I had attained the summit, I found (and not without some Maine and chagrinj that it was all an illusion. There was, in fact, nothing before me but a great plain; and the mast had been fixed there, either as a may-pole only, or to entice curious people out of their way.
I therefore now again, slowly and sullenly, descended the hill, at the bottom of which was an house, where several people were looking out of the window, and, as I supposed, laughing at me. Even if it were so, it seemed to be but fair, and so it rather amused, than vexed me; and I continued to jog on, without much regretting my waste journey to the mast.
Not far from Dorchester, I had another delightful view. The country here became fo fine, that I positively could not prevail on myself to quit it, and so I laid myself down on the green turf, which was so fresh and sweet, that I could almost have been con. tented, like Nebuchadnezzar, to have grazed on it. The moon was at the full; the fun darted its last parting rays through the green hedges; to all which was added, the overpowering fragance of the meadows, the diversified song of the birds, the hills that skirted the Thames; some of them of a light, and others of a dark-green hue; with the tufted tops of trees dispersed here and there among them. The contemplation of all these delightful circumftances well-nigh overcame me.
I arrived rather late at Dorchester. This is only a small place; but there is in it a large and noble old church. As I was walking along, I saw several ladies with their heads dressed, leaning out of their windows, or standing before the houses; and this made me conclude, that this was too fine a place for me, and so I determined to walk on three quarters of a mile farther to Nuneham ; which place is only five miles from Oxford. When I reached Nuneham, I was not a little tired; and it was also quite dark.
The place consists of two rows of low, neat houses, built close to each other, and as regular and uniform as a London Itreet. All the doors seemed to be shut; and even a light was to be seen only in a few of them.
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