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long to see preserved in the fitliest manner, by forming again the chief ornament of a church, and then driving under the arch of the Great Western Railway, and feeling the strange vibration of some monster train passing over our heads-a proceeding which never fails to make my pony show off his choicest airs and graces, pricking up his pretty ears, tossing his slender head, dancing upon four feet, and sometimes rearing upon two-we arrive at the long, low, picturesque old bridge, the oldest of all the bridges that cross the Thames, so narrow that no two vehicles can pass at once, and that over every pier triangular spaces have been devised for the safety of footpassengers. On the centre arch is a fisherman's hut, occupying the place once filled by a friar's cell, and covering a still existing chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, now put to secular uses-a dairy or a cellar.

A little way down the river is one of the beautiful islands of the Thames, now a smooth and verdant meadow, edged round with old willow pollards calmly reflected in the bright, clear waters, but giving back in the twelfth century a far different scene. Here was fought a wager of battle between Robert de Montford, appellant, and Henry de Essex, hereditary Standardbearer of the Kings of England, defendant, by command, and in the presence of Henry the Second. The story is told very minutely and graphically by Stowe. Robert de Montford at length struck down his adversary, "who fell," says the old historian, "after receiving many wounds; and the King, at the request of several noblemen, his relations, gave permission to the monks to inter the body, commanding that no

further violence should be offered to it. The monks took up the vanquished knight, and carried him into the abbey, where he revived. When he recovered from his wounds, he was received into the community, and assumed the habit of the order, his lands being forfeited to the King." I have always thought that this story would afford excellent scope to some great novelist, who might give a fair and accurate picture of monastic life, and, indeed, of the monastic orders, as landlords, neighbours, teachers, priests, without any mixture of controversial theology, or inventing any predecessors of Luther or Wicliffe. How we should have liked to have heard all about "The Monastery," about the "Abbot," and Father Eustace, untroubled by Henry Warden or John Knox! From the moment that they appear, our comfort in the book vanishes, just as completely as that of the good easy Abbot Boniface himself. There we are in the middle of vexed questions, with the beautiful pile of Melrose threatening every moment to fall about our ears!

Our business now, however, is to get over the bridge, which after the excitement of one dispute with a pugnacious carrier, and another with a saucy groom, whose caracoling horse had wellnigh leaped over the parapets on either side; after some backing of other carriages, and some danger of being forced to back our own, we at last achieve, and enter unscathed, the pleasant village of Caversham.

To the left, through a highly-ornamented lodge, lies the road to the ancient seat of the Blounts, a house made famous by Pope, where the fair ladies of his love, the sisters Martha and Teresa, lived and

died. A fine old place it is; and a picturesque road leads to it, winding through a tract called the Warren, between the high chalk cliffs, clothed with trees of all varieties, that for so many miles fence in the northern side of the Thames, and the lordly river itself, now concealed by tall elms, now open and shining in the full light of the summer sun. There is not such a flower-bank in Oxfordshire as Caversham Warren.

Our way, however, leads straight on. A few miles farther, and a turn to the right conducts us to one of the grand old village churches, which give so much of character to English landscape. A large and beautiful pile it is. The tower half-clothed with ivy, standing with its charming vicarage and its pretty vicarage-garden on a high eminence, overhanging one of the finest bends of the great river. A woody lane leads from the church to the bottom of the chalk-cliff, one side of which stands out from the road below, like a promontory, surmounted by the laurel hedges and flowery arbours of the vicarage-garden, and crested by a noble cedar of Lebanon. This is Shiplake church, famed far and near for its magnificent oak carving, and the rich painted glass of its windows, collected, long before such adornments were fashionable, by the fine taste of the late vicar, and therefore filled with the very choicest specimens of medieval art, chiefly obtained from the remains of the celebrated Abbey of St. Bertin, near St. Omers, sacked during the first French Revolution. In this church Alfred Tennyson was married. Blessings be upon him! I never saw the great poet in my life, but thousands who never may have seen him either, but

who owe to his poetry the purest and richest intellectual enjoyment, will echo and re-echo the benison.

A little way farther, and a turn to the left leads to another spot consecrated by genius-Woodcot, where Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton passed the earlier years of his married life, and wrote several of his most powerful novels. I have always thought that the scenery of Paul Clifford caught some of its tone from that wild and beautiful country, for wild and beautiful it is. The terrace in the grounds commands a most extensive prospect; and beneath a clump of trees on the common behind the house, is the only spot where on a clear day Windsor may be seen on one side, and Oxford on the other-looking almost like the domes and towers and pinnacles that sometimes appear in the clouds-a fairy picture that the next breeze may waft away! This beautiful residence stands so high, that one of its former possessors, Admiral Fraser (grandfather to that dear friend of mine who is the present owner) could discover Woodcot Clump from the mast of his own ship at Spithead, a distance of sixty miles.

Wyfold's Court, another pretty place a little farther on, which also belonged once to a most dear friend, possesses the finest wych-elms in England. Artists come from far and near to paint these stately trees, whose down-dropping branches and magnificent height are at once so graceful and so rich. They are said always to indicate ecclesiastical possession, but no trace of such dependency is to be found in the titledeeds, or in the tenure by which in feudal times the lands were held-that of presenting a rose to the King, should he pass by a certain road on a May day.

And now we approach Rotherfield Grays-its bowery lanes, its wild rugged commons, and its vast beech woods, from the edge of which projects, every here and there, a huge cherry-tree, looking, in the blossoming spring-time, as if carved in ivory, so exquisite is the whiteness, casting upon the ferny-turf underneath showers of snowy petals that blanch the very ground, and diffusing around an almond-like odour, that mingles with the springing thyme and the flowering gorse, and loads the very air with its balm.

Exquisite is the pleasantness of these beech woods, where the light is green from the silky verdure of the young leaves, and where the mossy woodpaths are embroidered with thousands of flowers, from the earliest violet and primrose, the wood-anemone, the wood-sorrel, the daffodil, and the wild hyacinth of spring, to the wood-vetch, the woodroof, the campanulas, and the orchises of summer;-for all the English orchises are here: that which so curiously imitates the dead oak leaf, that again which imitates the human figure; the commonest but most pretty bee orchis, and the parallel ones which are called after the spider, the frog, and the fly. Strange freak of nature, thus, in a lower order of creation, to mimic her own handyworks in a higher !-to mimic even our human mimicry !-for that which is called the man orchis is most like the imitation of a human figure that a child might cut from coloured paper. Strange, strange mimicry! but full of variety, full of beauty, full of odour. Of all the fragrant blossoms that haunt the woods, I know none so exquisite as that night-scented orchis which is called indifferently,

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