HOWITT'S VISITS TO REMARKABLE PLACES.
Amiotron a continuation, prompted by the success of the first, this Second Series of Visits to Remarkable Places has the rare good fortune of equalling if not excelling its predecessors. With- out being entirely devoid of a certain crowded literalnessāas if the author would not trust to a broad and general picture, but wished to avoid any cavil about identity by enumerating all the particularsāthe sketches in this volume have more freshness, breadth, and lightness, than Howirr's descriptions sometimes pos- sess. The matter of the volume, too, is well varied and inter- changed : we are taken from an old city and an old cathedral, with its antiquities, legends, and saints, to the pleasant aspect of wild or cultivated nature in 'spring or early summer : an old ruin or aban- doned castle rears its head, and WILLIAM Howirr plunges into the times of chivalry, crusading, civil wars, and border foray ; tracing the fortunes of the noble house, till it became extinct, or lost, or deserted the venerable pile for more luxurious and Southern seats : anon we are carried from the existing skeleton, or mere record of old feudality, to the same principle in its transformed and butterfly state, where large domains, great wealth, and primogeniture, wear 2 refined air, calling art, science, and mechanics to the adornment of The aristocratical principleāas at Lambton Castle, the seat of Lord DURHAM; then the reader is whirled into the dark activity and bustle of the coal-districts, or onward to Newcastle and Sun- derland, where steam and shipping, and the wonders of engineer- ing science, in railways, bridges, and so forth, thrust the old glories of Catholicism and Feudalism, and the splendour of modern aristo- cracy, out of sight and out of mind : at Newcastle, however, the genius of BEWICK elevates itself alike above old and new opinions or systems of life ; and to his birth-place and tomb WILLIAM HOWITT makes a pilgrimage, as he does to spots which other emi- nent but less popular men have made remarkable by their resi- dence: an exploring visit to Cheviot, a stroll along the Borders, some sketches of old Northern games or sports, and several miscel- laneous matters, complete the contents of the volume.
One of these lesser trips was a visit to GRACE DARLING; of whom he gives a character, not the less pleasant for the self-depend- ence and rational views which have enabled the lighthouse maiden to keep her head steady during the whirl of her sudden elevation to the temporary popularity of a heroine.
GRACE DARLING ā¢ Is as perfect a realization of a Jeannie Deans in an English form as it is possible for a woman to be. She is not like any of the portraits of her. She is a little, simple, modest young woman I should say of live or six and twenty. She is neither tall nor handsome; but le has the most gentle, quiet, amiable look, and the sweetest smile that I ever saw in a persrwt her station and ap- pearance. You see that she is a thoroughlii creature ; and that under her modest exterior lies a spirit capable oft':, most exalted devotion ; a devotion go entire, that daring is not so a quality of her nature, as that the most per- fect sympathy with suffe..ing or endangered humanity swallows up and, anni- hilates every thing like fear or self-considerationāputs out, in fact, every sen- timent bstit4lf. The ettion that she performed was so natural and so necessary to her, that would be the most impossible of things to convince her that she did any thing extraordinary. The applause which has been the consequence of her truly gallant exploit; the admiration which ran through the whole kingdom, indeed ndeed through the civilized world, for even from Russia there have been commissions for persons to see her, and send accounts of her and pieces of the rock on which she lives; those and the foolish though natural avidity of the
m ' snob of wonder-lovers who in steam-boat loads have flocked thither, filling that tall lighthouse several stories high, till nobody could stir; the attentions of the greatāfor the titled have not tailed to pay her the homage of their flatteries; none of these things have made her any thing but what she was before. The Duke and Dutchess of Northumberland had her and her father over to the castle, and presented her with a gold watch, which she always wears when visiters come. The Humane Society sent her a most flattering vote of thanks, which is in the house, framed ; and the President presented her with a silver teapot: but none of these things, no, nor the offers of marriage which followed her notoriety, and the little fortune (I believe about 7000 which was sub- scribed for her or given to her in presents, have produced in her mind any feel- ing but a sense of wonder and grateful pleasure. She is just as modest ; has just that same sweet affectionate smile, void of conceit as heaven is of crime. She shuns public notice, and is even troubled at the visits of the curious. She has shown as much good sense and firmness as she did heroism ; and would be as ready tomorrow to risk her life to save another's as she was in MS. She is to me more completely a Jeannie Deans than I could have conceived or can express.
The house is literally crammed with presents of one kind or anothef in- cluding a considerable number of books. She was offered 20/. a night to ap- pear at the Adelphi, in a scene of the shipwreck, merely to sit in a boat : but this and all similar offers which would have enriched her she has steadily de- clined.
When I went, she was not visible; and I was afraid I should not have got to see her, as her father said she very much disliked meeting strangers that she thought came to stare at her: but when the old man and I had had a little conversation, be went up to her room, and soon came down with a smile, saying she would be with us soon. So, when we had been up to the top lighthouse and Lad seen its machinery, had taken a good look-out at the distant shore, and Darling had pointed out the spot of the wreck and the way they took to bring the people off, we went down, and found Grace sitting at her sewing, very neatly but very simply dressed in a plain sort of a striped printed gown, with her watch-seal just seen at her side, and her hair neatly braided ; just, in fact, as such girls are dressed, only not quite so smart as they often are. She rose very modestly, and with a pleasant smile said, How do you do, Sir?" Her figure is by no means striking ; quite the contrary : bet her face is full of sense, modesty, and genuine goodness; and that is just the character she bears. Iler prudence delights one. We are charmed that she should so well have supported the brilliancy of her humane deed. It is confirmative of the notion that such actions must spring from genuine heart and mind. As I have said, she has had various offers of marriage, but none that were considered quite the thing, and she said "No" to all. One was from an artist, who came to take her portrait. The Duke of Northumberland told her that he hoped she would be careful in such affairs, as there would be sure to be designs upon her money; and she told Lim that she would not marry without his appro- bation.
Were it not for the greater change, and the stimulating effects of novelty, which induces surprise if it cannot compel people to think, there are many places in merry England much more charm- ing and picturesque than any thing which can be seen betwixt the Channel and Paris, and many that railroads have rendered more ra- pidly accessible with much less fatigue. One of these spots Durham; in whose town antiquity and surrounding beauty Wmas.ta Howirr luxuriates like any well-appointed Churchman.
There is this characteristic of most of our cathedral towns, that they have changed less in their outward aspect than others; and you would imagine that Durham had not changed at all. As we remarked of Winchester, it has grown, not in bulk, but in a gray and venerable dignity. The ancient cathedral, the ancient castle, the ancient houses, all are there. The narrow and winding streets, nobody has presumed to alter them ; the up-hill and the down-hill, no one has presumed to level them. The very bridges, built by Flarobard and Pudsey upwards of six and seven hundred years ago, are still there. A stillness, full of the past, reigns around you ; and while I write this in my inn, the solemn tones of the organ from the ancient minster-choir, on its distant hill, remind me that the daily worship of many ages is still going on there, and that the waves of stately music find in the city no bustle and thunder of a mighty multitude to obstruct them, but flow audibly, and as with a deep murmur of many long-en- during thoughts, over the whole. Whichever way you approach Durham, you arc first struck with the great central tower of the cathedral peeping over the hills that envelop the city. It looks colossal, massy, and silent. Anon you lose sight of it ; but again you mark it, solemnly breasting the green heights, like some Titan watcher; and it well prepares the mind for the view of the whole great pile, which presently opens upon you. Every traveller must be sensibly impressed with the hold beauty of Durham in the first view. As he emerges from some defile in those hills which, further off, hid from him all but that one great tower, he sees before him a wide, open valley, in the centre of which a fine mount stands crowned with the ancient clustered houses of Durham ; the turrets and battlements of its old and now-restored castle rising above them; and again, above all, soaring high into the air, the noble towers and pinnacles of its Norman minster. Around recede in manifold forms the higher hills, as if intended by nature to give at once beauty and retirement to this splendid seat of ancient religion. From various points of these hills, the city looks quite magnificent. The old town, with its red roofs, runs along the ridges of the lower hills, and these higher ones are thrown into knolls and dells,with their green crofts and wooded clumps and lines of trees. The whole surrounding scenery, in fact, is beautiful. My visit there was in the middle of May. The grass had a delicious freshness to the eye; the foliage of the trees was of spring's most delicate green ; and the bloc. bells and primroses, which the hot weather in April had entirely, a .monthte- fore, withered up Hi the South, were there in abundance in all their dewy and fragrant beauty. Through all the finer seasons of the year. however, the en- virons of Durham are delightful. I have passed through it when the haymakers were busy in those hilly crofts; when fragrant cocks of new hay, the green turf, which became every moment visible beneath the rakes and forks of merry people, and the sun shining brightly over the old buildings of the eity, and the tall trees that quivered their green leaves in many a fair slope, made me think that I had rarely witnessed a more charming scene. What adds vastly to the pleasantness of these environs, is that they are so accessible. Unlike the con- dition of many a beautiful neighbourhood in many a part of England, where you may peep into Paradise but may not enter, here, almost wherever the allurements of the scene draw you, you may follow. Footpaths in all imaginable directions strike across these lovely crofts. You may climb hills, descend into woody dells, follow the Mille of a little stream, as its bright waters and flowery banks attract you, and never find yourselves out of the way. In all directions, as lines radiating from a centre, deep old lanes stretch off from the city, along which you may wander, hidden from view of every thing but the high bosky banks and overhanging trees and intervening sky. Other lanes, as deep and as sweetly rustic and secluded, wind away right and left, leading you to some peep of antiquated cottage, or old mill, or glance over hol- low glades to far-off hills, and ever and anon bringing you out on the heights to a fresh and striking view of that clustered city, its castled turrets, and ma- jestic cathedral.
In works of this kind, the biographical notices of eminent men, the accounts of legends and traditions, and still more of family history, are very often dry, forced, or out of place. Such is not the case in the present volume of Visits to Remarkable Places. On the contrary, this episodical matter seems to us often rather aptly introduced, and vividly executedāa combination of the old-fashioned minuteness of the chronicle with the larger spirit of history; though, whether much may not be found ready to the hand in SURTEES, we will not undertake to say. Here is a passage from an account of Saint CUTHBERT, a principal instru- ment in the conversion of the North, and the patron Saint of
A SAINT OF THE SEVENTH CENTURY.
After fourteen years of these labours, which were crowned with amazing success, St. Cuthbert felt himself drawn to the exercise of a more severe self- discipline, and a more uninterrupted communication with Heaven. At a few miles distance, and further out in the ocean than Holy lsle, lay the desolate islands of Fame. These melancholy islands are rather a group of stern basaltic rocks, for the most part bare of herbage, black, and hard as iron, with a danger- ous searoaring round them, which even now, in stormy weather, renders them inaccessible for days and weeks together. To the largest of these, which is about twelve acres in extent, St. Cuthbert retired. The greater part of this islet was, like the rest, a naked and iron-like rock, with no other inhabitant than thousands of screaming sea-fowls. Here, swept by wild winds, amid the hoarse roar of the waves and the clangour of gulls and puffins, St. Cuthbert prepared to raise himself a habitation. This was only to be done by scraping from the more sheltered hollows of the island its patches of scanty turf; sued with that and such loose stones as lay about, erecting his uncouth walls. Ima- gine the solitary man from day to day labouring on thus alone, with the dreary scene and the hoarse cries we have mentioned around him, andrg the feeling that with these were mingled the laughter and howls of daimons with which the savageness of the spot and the superstition of the period had plentifully peopled the place. His hut consisted of only two very small rooms; the windows, or rather inlets for light, and the door also, placed so high that he could see nothing but the heaven above him. .1 This was purposely constructed to check the wandering of his thoughts am" desires, and to direct his whole attention to the world on high. There wet however, a larger building erected at the landing-place north of the Wand, opposite to Bamboniugh, for the reception of his religious brethren who came to visit him, especially as the weather, changing in a moment, might confine them there for days. 'While the Saint thus cast all his thoughts into eternity, he compelled himself to feel the constant necessities of time. Be drew, his historian tells us, his food from this moat adamantine and inhospitable crag. At his command a spring of pure water appeared, gushing from the rock, and which flows still; at every stroke of his hoe vegetables appeared, and herbage of the richest kind followed his footsteps. Certain it is, that if the holy man contrived to live there without the aid of Bamborongh bakers and butchers, he must have possessed powers of the most miraculous kind. At the present day, the winds would snatch away any seed or corn more effectually than the 'harpies cleared the table of 2Eneas; potatoes were not then invented; and even a little cabbage-bed would require a good high wall round it to prevent every *unlucky pot-herb from being blown into the sea. Be this as it may, here St. Cuthbert spent nine years of his life : after that, through the pressing solicita- tions of king, nobles, and clergy, he was drawn back for a time to assume the bishopric of Lindisfarne; but soon again withdrew to his beloved oratory in Farce; where two months afterwards he died.