Imágenes de página

Greatham. Here the bottom of all the land is this solid white stone, and the top is that mame, which I have before described. The hop roots penetrate down into this stone. How deep the stone may go, I know not; but when I came to look up at one end of one of the piers, or promontories, mentioned above, I found that it was all of this same stone.

At Hawkley Green, I asked a farmer the way to Thursley. He pointed to one of two roads going from the green, but it appearing to me that that would lead me up to the London road, and over Hindhead, I gave him to understand that I was resolved to get along, some how or other, through the “low countries.” He besought me not to think of it. However, finding me resolved, he got a man to go a little way to put me into the Greatham road. The man came, but the farmer could not let me go off without renewing his entreaties that I would go away to Liphook, in which entreaties the man joined, though he was to be paid very well for his trouble.

Off we went, however, to Greatham. I am thinking, whether I ever did see worse roads. Upon the whole I think I have; though I am not sure that the roads of New Jersey, between Trenton and Elizabeth Town, at the breaking up of winter, be worse. Talk of shows, indeed! Take a piece of this road, just a cut across and a rod long, and carry it up to London: that would be something like a show!

Upon leaving Greatham, we came out upon Woolmer Forest. Just as we were coming out of Greatham, I asked a man the way to Thursley. “ You must go to Liphook, sir,” said he. But,” said I, " I will not go to Liphook.” These people seemed to be posted at all these stages to turn me aside from my purpose, and to make me go over that Hindhead, which I had resolved to avoid. I went on a little further, and asked another man the way to Headley, which, as I have already observed, lies on the western foot of Hindhead, whence I knew there must be a road to Thursley (which lies at the north-east foot) without going over that miserable hill. The man told me that I must go across the forest. I asked him whether it was a good road. " It is a sound road," said he, laying a weighty emphasis upon the word sound. “Do people go it?” said I. Ye-es,” said he. then,” said I, to my man, as it is a sound road, keep you close to my heels, and do not attempt to go aside, not even for a foot.” Indeed it was a sound road. The rain of the night had made the fresh horse


[ocr errors]

tracks visible, and we got to Headley in a short time, over a sand road, which seemed so delightful after the flints, and stone, and dirt, and sloughs that we had passed over and through since the morning. This road was not, if we had been benighted, without its dangers, the forest being full of quags and quicksands. This is a tract of Crown lands, or, properly speaking, public lands, on some parts of which our land-steward, Mr. Huskisson, is making some plantations of trees, partly fir, and partly other trees. What he can plant the fir for, God only knows, seeing that the country is already overstocked with that rubbish. But this public land concern is a very great concern.

The soil of this tract is, generally, a black sand, which, in some places, becomes peat, which makes very tolerable fuel. In some parts there is clay at bottom, and there the oaks would grow, but not while there are hares in any number on the forest. If trees be to grow here, there ought to be no hares, and as little hunting as possible.

We got to Headley, the sign of the Holly Bush, just at dusk, and just as it began to rain. I had neither eaten nor drunk since eight o'clock in the morning; and, as it was a nice little public-house, I at first intended to stay all night, an intention that I afterwards very indiscreetly gave up. I had laid my plan, which included the getting to Thursley that night. When, therefore, I had got some cold bacon and bread, and some milk, I began to feel ashamed of stopping short of my plan, especially after having so heroically persevered in the “stern path,” and so disdainfully scorned to go over Hindhead. I knew that my road lay through a hamlet called Churt, where they grow such fine bennet grass seed. There was a moon, but there was also a hazy rain. I had heaths to go over, and I might go into quags. Wishing to execute my plan, however, I, at last, brought myself to quit a very comfortable turf-fire, and to set off in the rain, having bargained to give a man three shillings to guide me out to the northern foot of Hindhead. I took care to ascertain that my guide knew the road perfectly well; that is to say, I took care to ascertain it as far as I could, which was, indeed, no farther than his word would go. Off we set, the guide mounted on his own or his master's horse, and with a white smockfrock, which enabled us to see him clearly. We trotted on pretty fast for about half-an-hour; and I perceived, not without some surprise, that the rain, which I knew to be coming from the south, met me full in the face, when it ought, according to my reckoning, to have beat

upon my right cheek. I called to the guide repeatedly to ask him if he was sure that he was right, to which he always answered, “Oh! yes, sir, I know the road.” I did not like this “ I know the road.” At last, after going about six miles in nearly a southern direction, the guide turned short to the left. That brought the rain upon my right cheek, and though I could not very well account for the long stretch to the south, I thought that, at any rate, we were now in the right track; and, after going about a mile in this new direction, I began to ask the guide how much further we had to go, for I had got a pretty good soaking, and was rather impatient to see the foot of Hindhead. Just at this time, in raising my head, and looking forward as I spoke to the guide, what should I see, but a long, high, and steep hanger arising before us, the trees all along the top of which I could easily distinguish! The fact was, we were just getting to the outside of the heath, and were on the brow of a steep hill, which faced this hanging wood. The guide had begun to descend, and I had called to him to stop, for the hill was so steep, that, rain as it did, and wet as my saddle must be, I got off my horse in order to walk down. But now, behold, the fellow discovered that he had lost his way! Where we were I could not even guess. There was but one remedy, and that was to get back if we could. I became guide now, and did as Mr. Western is advising the ministers to do, retraced my steps. We went back about half the way that we had come, when we saw two men who showed us the way that we ought to go. At the end of about a mile we fortunately found the turnpike-road; not indeed at the foot, but on the tip-top of that very Hindhead, on which I had so repeatedly vowed I would not go! We came out on the turnpike some hundred yards on the Liphcok side of the buildings called the Hut; so that we had the whole of three miles of hill to come down at not much better than a foot-pace, with a good pelting rain

our backs. It is odd enough how differently one is affected by the same sight under different circumstances. At the Holly Bush ” at Headley there was a room full of fellows in white smock-frocks, drinking, and smoking, and talking, and I, who was then dry and warm, moralized within myself on their folly in spending their time in such a way. But when I got down from Hindhead to the public-house at Road Lane, with my skin soaking and my teeth chattering, I thought just such



[ocr errors]

another group, whom I saw through the window sitting round a good fire with pipes in their mouths, the wisest assembly I had ever set my eyes on; a real collective wisdom. And I most solemnly declare that I felt a greater veneration for them than I have ever felt even for the Privy Council, notwithstanding the Right Honourable Charles Wynn and the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair belong to the latter.

It was now but a step to my friend's house, where a good fire and a change of clothes soon put all to rights, save and except the having come over Hindhead after all my resolutions. This mortifying circumstance, this having been beaten, lost the guide the three shillings that I had agreed to give him. Either,” said I, “ you did not know the way well, or you did; if the former, it was dishonest in you to undertake to guide me, if the latter, you have wilfully led me miles out of my way." He grumbled, but off he went. He certainly deserved nothing; for he did not know the way, and he prevented some other man from earning and receiving the money. But had he not caused me to get upon Hindhead, he would have had the three shillings. I had, at one time, got my hand into my pocket; but the thought of having been beaten pulled it out again,

Thus ended the most interesting day, as far as I know, that I ever passed in all my life. Hawkley hangers, promontories, and stone roads, will ever come into my mind when I see or hear of picturesque views. I forgot to mention that in going from Hawkley to Greatham, the man who went to show me the way, told me, at a certain fork, “ that road goes to Selborne.” This put me in mind of a book which was once recommended to me, but which I never saw, entitled “The History and Antiquities of Selborne,' (or something of that sort) written, I think, by a parson of the name of White, brother of Mr. White, so long a bookseller in Fleet Street. This person had, I think, the living of the parish of Selborne. The book was mentioned to me as a work of great curiosity and interest. But at that time the THING was biting so very sharply that one had no attention to bestow on antiquarian researches. Wheat at 39s. per quarter, and South Down ewes at 12s. 6d., have so weakened the THING's jaws and so filed down its teeth, that I shall now certainly read this book, if I can get it. By the by, if all the parsons had, for the last thirty years, employed their leisure time in writing the histories of their several parishes, instead of living, as many of them have, engaged in pursuits that I need not here name, neither their situation nor that of their flocks would, perhaps, have been the worse for it at this day.

239.-On the Wisdom of this Morld.

SWIFT. 1 Cor. ii. 19. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” It is remarkable that about the time of our Saviour's coming into the world all kinds of learning flourished to a very great degree, inso much that nothing is more frequent in the mouths of many men, even such who pretend to read and to know, than an extravagant praise and opinion of the wisdom and virtue of the Gentile sages of those days, and likewise of those ancient philosophers who went before them, whose doctrines are left upon record either by themselves or other writers.

As far as this may be taken for granted, it may be said that the providence of God brought this about for several very wise ends and purposes; for it is certain that these philosophers had been a long time in searching out where to fix the true happiness of man, and not being able to agree upon any certainty about it, they could not possibly but conclude, if they judged impartially, that all their inquiries were in the end but vain and fruitless; the consequence of which must be not only an acknowledgment of the weakness of all human wisdom, but likewise an open passage hereby made for letting in those beams of light which the glorious sunshine of the gospel then brought into the world, by revealing those hidden truths which they had so long before been labouring to discover, and fixing the general happiness of mankind beyond all controversy and dispute. And therefore the providence of God wisely suffered men of deep genius and learning then to arise, who should search into the truth of the gospel now made known, and canvass its doctrines with all the subtilty and knowledge they were masters of, and in the end freely acknowledge that to be the true wisdom only " which cometh from above."

« AnteriorContinuar »