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his merry verse. Richard Harris Barham was born at Canterbury, and in his Ingoldsby Legends created an Ingoldsby Country, which he had already
peopled with many notable characters before death cut him off in his prime. The capital of the Ingoldsby Country is Canterbury; its very heart and core is comprised within the district to the east of a line drawn due south from Whitstable to Canterbury, Denton, and Hythe ; and its frontiers make an indeterminate line to the west, beyond Romney Marsh and Ashford. The whole north coast of Kent, including Sheppey, the Swale, and the littoral of the Thames and Medway, is part and parcel of Ingoldsby Land, whose isolated and faroff dependencies are found at Shrewsbury, the scene of “Bloudie Jack”; or Salisbury Plain, where the “Dead Drummer" is located; at Wayland Wood, near Wymondham, in Norfolk, where the legend of the “Babes in the Wood” belongs; and at Netley Abbey, the scene of a fine poem. London, too, has its Ingoldsby associations, duly set forth in these
BAR H A M . THE AUTHOR OF THE INGOLDSBy
THERE are coteries, circles inner and outer, in the world of letters, and there have always been. There are some in this time of ours whose members think they are of the giants whose memory the world will not willingly let die. There were other coteries when the nineteenth century was but newly come into its second quarter, when the period that is now known as Early Victorian was in the making, and when the Queen was young. The members of those literary brotherhoods are gone, each one to his place, and the memories of the most of them, of the books they wrote, the jokes they cracked, of their friendships and quarrels, are dim and dusty to-day. The taste in humour and pathos is not the taste of this time, which laughs at the pathos, and finds the humour, when not dull, merely spiteful and vindictive. When you rise from a perusal of Douglas Jerrold's wounding wit, you think him ungenerous and a cad, De Quincey's frolics merely elephantine, Hood's facilities dull, and Leigh Hunt's performances but journalism. All this is but the foil to show the brilliant humour, the fun, and the truly pathetic note of Richard Harris Barham's writings to better effect, Time has breathed upon the glass through which
we see the lives and performances of Barham's contemporaries, and has obscured our view of them ; but the author of the Ingoldsby Legends remains, almost alone among that Early Victorian band, as acceptable to-day (nay, perhaps even more acceptable) than he was fifty years ago. The Ingoldsby Legends will never be allowed to die. Indeed, we live in times when their admirable sanity might well be invoked as a counterblast to modern neurotic conditions, and a healthy revulsion from superstitious revivals. Written at that now historic time when the Ritualistic innovations and tendency towards Roman Catholicism of the new school of theology at Oxford were agitating English thought, they express the common-sense scorn o the healthy mind against the mystification and deceit of the religion that the Reformation pitched, eck and crop, out of England, close upon thre undred and seventy years ago, and for which th arge-minded tolerance of to-day is not enough. Domination is its aim, but no mind that can enjoy the mirth and marvels of the Legends has any room for such ghostly pretensions, and their continued popularity is thus, by parity of reasoning, something of an assurance. The Ingoldsby Legends are included in the Index Expurgatorium of Rome. Superfine critics have in recent years declared that Barham's fun has grown out of date, and that they cannot read him as of old. But your critic commonly speaks only for himself; and moreover, the superfine, who cannot read Dickens, for example, have been sadly flouted of late by the still increasing popular favour of that novelist.
It was in the fertile county of Kent that Barham was born, in the midst of a district that has ever been the cradle of Barhams. Eight miles to the south of the old Cathedral of Canterbury, and near by the Folkestone Road, there lies, secluded in a deep valley, an old-fashioned farmhouse, unpretending enough to the outward glance, but quaint and curious within. This is the old manor house of Tappington Everard, mentioned so often and so familiarly in the Ingoldsby Legends, and for many centuries the home of Richard Harris Barham's ancestors. “Tom Ingoldsby" himself was, indeed, born at Canterbury, near the Cathedral precincts, and first saw the world beneath the shadow of that great Church, of whose glories he was in after years to tell in his own peculiar and inimitable way. His father, made rich by hops, was a man of consideration at Canterbury, and filled an Aldermanic chair with all the dignity that comes of adipose tissue largely developed. He was, in fact and few words, a fat man, and it was probably in reference to him that Tom Ingoldsby, in later years, wrote of the “aldermanic nose” trumpeting in the Cathedral during service.
The Rev. Richard Harris Barham, the self-styled “Thomas Ingoldsby,” claimed descent from the De Bearhams, anciently the FitzUrses, whose possessions extended round about Tappington for many miles of this fair county of Kent. He delighted to think that he was descended from one of those four knights who, on that dark December day of 1170, broke in upon the religious quiet of the Cathedral and slaughtered Becket in the north transept. When their crime was wrought the