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there was very little chance of passengers not taking places getting provided.”
This was melancholy intelligence to a solitary creature like myself, conveyed in harsh and unfriendly terms; but I could only hope Fate—if not Mr. Ward-would befriend me, and that I might proceed without being obliged to travel outside at night. Much did I deplore not knowing this unknown man of power, Mr. Ward. Perhaps one of the big. wigs of the line; but who or what this potentate, with wonderingworking name was, I could not even attempt to surmise. Opposite sat the guard, gazing benignly on me; and I found in the end that it is best to make friends with the manners of vulgarity when you travel in secondclass carriages and want to be received into stage coaches.
As I had never travelled further than Bristol I was very much vexed to see nothing of the country, which in the neighbourhood of Weston (profanely surnamed Super-Mud) seemed varied and pretty. When the sea ought to have been visible, the woolly veil enveloping everything only displayed a large gaunt bathing-house, looking marvellously out of place, in the middle of green fields and hedgerows. Hills now rose on either side, or the outline of hills rather, were just perceptible; and then came a horribly flat marshy tract, continuing until we approached Exeter. There the scenery looked most enticing; one valley in particular rising into lofty hills clothed with trees, and broken into glens and dells, green and verdant, a broad river at their base, flowing along grassy banks through emerald meadows. This rising ground continued until we whistled into Exeter station with that frantic screech so appropriate an organ to the monster Steam, whose respirations may be compared to the puffing of a huge porpoise, and whose voice, wild and shrill, is unlike all on the earth below, or waters under the earth-a scream defying all human imitation.
Very little of the good city of Exeter is visible from the station, which I regretted, as I wanted to see a place to me full of suggestive interest. My recollections vacillated between our unhappy Queen Henrietta-all her French clatter, airs, and graces, bowed down by adversity, unaccompanied by the husband who loved her "not wisely, but too well”-here giving birth in lonely misery to a second Henrietta, destined to become the still more unhappy Duchesse d'Orleans, around whose memory (as the belle par excellence of the court of Louis XIV.) an indescribable halo of grace and fascination lingers; all her charms ending so woefully in a death-bed of bitter agony, where, after wreathing under the throes of poison, she lay a livid corpse in the flower of her days, spatched away in the midst of courtly dissipation to undergo the sufferings of a martyr.
My recollections then vacillated between these two princesses and the whose efforts to introduce Lynch law into our jog-trot Protestant Church are so very entertaining.
He will make nothing of it, for happily we have yet to learn the dangerous power of priestcraft; and if
wants a fitting field for his ambitious spirit, he must seek it under the shadow of the seven hills, not among the aisles of his present cathedral. As we passed, I caught a glimpse of this cathedral, frowning like a fortress over the town—a fine old moresque-looking edifice, the heavy towers reminding me strongly, in the hasty glance I caught, of Saracenic architecture.
No sooner was the outline—for one sees no more-of the city passed, than the express-train became suddenly afflicted with every symptom of a rapid decline, spending all its lungs and the strength of its constitution in sighing away at every little trumpery station, and lingering longer and more lazily than a very luggage-van. I had all but fallen asleep, when I was roused by the before-mentioned guard inquiring of me, in a dulcet voice, “ If I wanted a place in the coach to Plymouth?” to which inquiry I eagerly assenting, he promised to see me provided, and then accosted the veiled duenna, asking if he could help her.
“No,” she thanked him (and she suddenly unveiled with remarkable dignity); “Mr. Ward had taken her place—she knew Mr. Ward. He
was her friend.'” Words that produced almost as great an impression on the obsequious guard in the railway carriage, as when used in other days by Marc Antony, haranguing in the Capitol over the dead body of Cæsar, whom he thus apostrophised.
The guard looked penetrated with respect, and inquired submissively “If Mr. Ward was, then, coming up to-day?"_“Yes, Mr. Ward was coming up, and would take charge of her;" and so the conversation ended, leaving me more than ever in the dark as to the calling of this mysterious personage, who I inwardly set down as a male Mrs. Harris, and the veiled lady as an individual of the Sairey Gamp species, minus the gin and the coucumber.
As we approached Dawlish, my attention was wholly riveted by the beautiful scene opening to the left, where the railroad approaches close to the shore of the broad estuary formed by the river Ex flowing into the sea. On the opposite bank one fine residence succeeds another, and the shore fringed with wood and covered with verdure to the termination of the point on which stands Exmouth, the houses terracing in long lines down to the sea. The estuary must be here at high water some two or three miles across, and
is very picturesque. Along the side on which we glided onwards, the cliffs of dark red stone are bold and majestic, formed into grotesque shapes, jutting into the sea and rising among the beautifully smooth sands in huge masses; one line of rock in particular running out to sea in a bold outline, terminating at the extreme point in a cluster of rude natural pillars, through which the green sea splashes and dashes in volumes of white foam. The railroad here passes through a number of tunnels, and the transition from dashing along the coast at the base of romantic rocks and then the next moment plunging into utter darkness, was very singular. In the midst of one of these dark tunnels, when the noise of the train is increased tenfold by the echo, a demented French horn set up a most impotent effort at music by attempting to play
66 Auld Robin Gray.” Such a strange jargon of sounds I never heard, as crashing along through the hollow-sounding rocks we caught a note or two at intervals of the air surmounting by some acute sound the din of the train. Surely the “sphere descended maid” had never been more vilely prostituted than in this musical fiasco, which was intended to announce our arrival at Teignmouth. The train stopped, and then began that diving for boxes under seats, and bags suddenly vanished from the visible world. Then the luggage-van is opened, and such huge boxes extracted one wonders people can have clothes to fill them, and wonder increases by the consideration of why they would carry about such moving mountains of torment to themselves and others. Here one screams for a hat-box lost; another swears, in good round Saxon, that his carpet-bag is gone; one lady implores pity for a wretched canary-bird papered up in a cage; a nurse shrieks out, “ Lord, sir, for mercy's sake don't crush the dear babby.” Little children cry, and have their toes trodden on, which raises the cry to a piteous howl; and finally a whole party, with staring eyes and open mouths, discover the astounding fact that all their luggage has been left behind, and set up a jérémiade in consequence. Boxes fly about one's ears like Dr. Syntax's dream of his library descending on his bare pate; one is knocked about by railway porters-no respecter of persons they! and men smoking cigars, and omnibus drivers, until I, for my part, quietly gave up all search for my goods and chattels, and after one desperate effort to prevent another person from bodily carrying them off, sank into amused quiescence; but, thanks to my humble friend the guard, I did better than my neighbours, and all my things found their way to the top of the coach at the same time that I mounted into the inside, when off we set at a topping pace, which, “ to the tune of horns kept pace,” sounding like thunder through the narrow streets. The fog not decreasing prevented my properly appreciating the country through which we passed, which was hilly from the dim outline of rising hills, which, with a pretty foreground, made it very provoking to see so imperfectly. Now we passed a fine large white mansion, seated on its velvet lawn, backed by ancient woods; then we plunged between high banks, fringed with hazeltrees, fern, and underwood, crowned at the summit with lofty oaks ; the close little Devonshire lanes, so long and narrow that they have passed into a proverb, shooting up on either side in long lines from the main road, bearing that stamp of seclusion and prettiness peculiar to English scenery.
We cannot boast of snow-capped Alps, rising to meet the fleecy clouds, rich purple vineyards, glowing hues, or majestic scenery-no lakes whose crystal waters lave the marble steps of mighty palaces, shrouded in lofty cypresses as on the banks of lovely Como-no fertile plains of classic fame, where amidst palms, and olives, and dark ilex-trees, the gaunt ruins of another age are dressed and garlanded with bright flowers under the ardent rays of a southern sun; but we may boast our own peculiar beauties, a verdant sunny bank in a secluded copse in the merry month of May, where the gay wild flowers love to grow and blend into a very rural garland--the primrose, the blue forget-me-not, the purple violet, the delicate wood anemone, the hyacinth, with its small bells, and the pencilled wild geranium, with its pretty pink blossoms peeping forth among the stones or rocks, or that break the grassy ground, where the bees hum and the butterflies dance among the flowers ; the shelving bank shaded by thickly tasselled hazels, ending in rows of far-stretching oaks opening their huge branches to the blue sky—such nooks I have loved from childhood, and had I seen the wonders of the entire world should love them still, for I was born in the sweet breath of the country, and dear are the recollections of one's home, specially to a wanderer like me.
Towards evening we came on a large encampment of gipsies, with their accompaniments of pots and kettles, and small turf fires, tents, ragged horses, and starved donkeys, the whole tribe engaged in making baskets. The uncommon beauty of some of the girls riveted my attention. Their raven hair twisted round their heads, flashing eyes and clear olive complexions, relieved by the hood and falling drapery of ample scarlet cloaks, made themi quite Murillo-looking subjects. The women, indeed, in all the towns through which we passed, were so pretty, that I began to think people need not travel into Lancashire to see witches, but by taking the express-train into Devonshire might be cast quite as soon under magical influence, if the charm consist in the highest degree of rustic unadorned beauty.
We proceeded at a madly furious pace, exceeding any speed I ever conceived possible for aught but steam-engines. It was like a continual running away without the final catastrophe of the upset, and I really sat and trembled; fortunately the horses were not of brass, and the hills were very steep, which at length reduced our mad
into a gallop, which to my excited feelings appeared safe in comparison with our late devil's drive.
Thank Heaven, here, at last, we are at Plymouth, and then in a trice at Devonport, without any broken bones or fractured skulls, driving into the inn-yard, where I dismounted and stretched my cramped legs, and tried to believe I was on terra firma, though my head would go round
, and round as if I were on the sea. In the midst of the confusion caused by our arrival, the green-veiled lady suddenly reappeared dismounting from the top of the coach ; and making me a vulgar bow," Hoped I had ridden well, for she had had a very cold ride, she had, and was all but froze."
A violent squabble then began between a red-faced man with black whiskers, wearing a white hat and large shawl cravat, and carrying an immensely long whip, and a wretched-looking artisan and his wife; he asserting they had not paid their fare, they equally positive that they had. The noise attracted my attention, and I listened to them. “That gentlman there knows I paid; he saw me pay. Please, sir, indeed I did,” cried the artisan. “Pray, Mr. Ward, don't be so hard on poor bodies like we.”
This, then, was the mysterious stranger-that mighty man of valour, Mr. Ward ! No other than the very coachman who had driven so furiously it was a mercy we were not all embedded in mud in a Devon"shire ditch. Here he stood confessed as a picker of poor
men's empty pockets, completing his iniquities by walking up to me, touching his hat, and asking "What I would please to give the coachman ?" Oh! what a fall was here! How I despised that low female in the green veil, and hated myself for wasting so much curiosity on this detestable Jehu !
After this impotent dénouement to the wonder-working magic of a name which had actually thrown a halo around the most vulgar of Phaetons, I retreated to the depths of the commercial inn, and was ushered up-stairs into the inky recesses of the desolate “best room," which wore that peculiar paradoxical look of empty habitableness--of furnished unfurnishedness, always afforded by an hotel. So little cheered was I at the prospect—so anxious to see my dear children, that I would have proceeded at once that night, had I not been informed by the waiter -a knowing dog he !—that the floating bridge over the Hamoaze did not go across after eight, and drawing out his watch, he at once proclaimed it long past that hour. So, placing two half-lit tallow-candles on the unbounded surface of a shiny mahogany table, which just make darkness visible, the gentleman of the buttery Aourished his napkin, bowed, and withdrew, leaving me alone, and forced to pocket my maternal feelings and allay my impatience as best I could. The fire, only half lighted, struggled into a feeble existence : when did an inn fire ever do anything but either go out wholly, or roast one like a furnace ? As I watched the gradual extinction of the wood, I fell into a melancholy fit of musing at the sad vicissitudes of fortune which had driven me an exile to the end of merry England, in order to see those children I had brought into the world, now banished to a barren coast far from our happy home-far from the broad lands of our ancestors— far from a mother's love and care; and as I remembered how soon we must again part, the bitter tears of anguish rose to my eyes. How my heart ached, and my spirit sank; how I missed that friend whose kind voice can alone allay the mental agony that at times oppresses me, to whom I cling as the poor parasite to the mighty oak! My sorrows now crowded in rapid catalogue before me, one sad image melting into another. I yearned to see my children; I dreaded again to leave them. Oh, I was very sad, and in this state crept away to bed, happy to drown my grief in temporary oblivion.
I rose at an early hour, and crossed the harbour, which in general aspect strongly reminds one of Portsmouth and Gosport, only that the banks at Davenport are narrower and more picturesque, and there is none of that bustle and appearance of commerce so characteristic of Portsmouth. The sea here runs considerably inland, becoming narrowed into a river as it advances, turning and twisting about in all directions, then spreading over large spaces, having all the effect of an inland lake-a succession of handsome country houses and finely-timbered parks giving the shores a well-dressed appearance. The growth of timber near the sea is remarkably luxuriant; it is wholly free from that stunted look which wood near the coast generally has.
The first residence I passed along the Cornwall road, after crossing the water, was A—Park, belonging to Fanny
I could not see the house, which lies near the water's edge, and is Elizabethan in style; but the park bordered the road for some distance, and announced a fine residence. Fanny is a sweet, warm-hearted creature; at sixteen we were great friends, when she was already engaged to be married, having just returned from abroad with her parents, whither the swain had followed her, and proposed on the lovely shores of the Leman Lake. She was not a little elated of being at that early age a betrothed bride, and treated with all the consideration and respect consequent on brevet rank; but I warmly contested the point of priority, and claimed precedence as “an engaged Miss,” by proving that I had had an offer before her, and was (if I chose) engaged to Lord whose highsounding name put her humbler pretensions altogether in the shade. We exchanged our secrets, as well as vows of eternal secresy; but when we began each to tell our tale, the difference was, indeed, great. She loved with all the ardent freshness and enthusiasm of sweet seventeen, and dwelt on her William's perfections with fond delight. His letters, toom carried in her bosom-how she devoured them! I was uncommonly edified by hearing some passages she read aloud ; judging from which, they were compositions such as generally proceed from the creation's lords when they are about attaching the fetters for life and love to hide the iron chains with wreaths of flowers, and rivet them while uttering sweet incense of honeyed words, which flattery and which words