He became Bishop of Salisbury in , and held that office till his death in His chief work was an "Apology for the Anglican Church"; and his chief opponent was Thomas Harding, who was born at Comb Martin, the next parish, and who, like Jewel, went to the grammar-school at Barnstaple in his early boyhood, so that they were near neighbours and dear enemies.
Jewel does not seem ever to have answered in this unworthy strain, and the singular purity of his life, the sincerity of his opinions, and a certain lovable quality to which all his contemporaries bear witness, gave even his political adversaries a personal attachment to him. To all who loved him—and it seems to have been his whole generation—his name gave the opportunity of affectionate puns, quips, and little epigrams; to Queen Elizabeth he was "my Jewel," and the epitaph Westcote makes upon him is that of St.
Gregory upon St. We may find a lingering trace at Barnstaple, also, before going farther north, of another eager spirit and earnest reformer, Shelley, whose gift of poetry we accept, and whose quick courage we profit by, in a world of thought where we breathe a little freer because of his efforts and ideals, while we still despise or half shamefacedly apologize for the strivings and struggles of his life.
He prevailed upon Syle, a printer of Barnstaple, to publish his "Letter to Lord Ellenborough," which was in effect a violent and heated attack upon this Judge for the sentence he had passed on the publisher of Tom Paine's "Age of Reason," which was considered by Lord Ellenborough and that generation as a dangerous and revolutionary document, subversive of the political morals of the world.
Those were the days of the French Revolution, and it seemed to many, as honest as Shelley, that the whole social fabric was threatening to crumble before the rising flood of anarchy, bloodshed, and disorder. Syle was prevailed upon to withdraw the greater number of copies—it speaks much for his courage and convictions that he ever published it—and Shelley found it advisable to leave Devon. For Shelley had been living at Lynton during the early days of his ill-fated first marriage with the Harriet; the cottage where they lived can still be seen, though much altered and modernized since the unhappy young man and woman tried to work out together a means of right living and mutual happiness, and made so tragic a failure of it.
It was to Lynton, too, that Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy, and Coleridge, came on a visit, and were so ravished by the beauty of the place that they were nearly decided to settle here, and might have founded a school of Devon poets instead of Lake poets. It was at Lynton, also, that "The Ancient Mariner" was planned, to pay for the expenses of the holiday, and was begun by Wordsworth and Coleridge together, though there is actually very little of Wordsworth's work in it, and the spirit of it, the air of mystery and the sense of brooding elemental forces with which its simplest lines are somehow invested, belongs to Coleridge alone, and to that strange genius of his, which only twice or thrice in his life—in "Christabel," "The Ancient Mariner," and "Kubla Khan"—produced poetry of inimitable, strange beauty and wonder.
If Lynton is beautiful now, with its new houses and hotels, and that air of snugness that prosperity gives to places and persons, the poetic appeal of its loveliness to Wordsworth and Coleridge can be well imagined when only the low-browed, thatched little cottages clung to the steep cliff-paths and clustered round the small harbour, and from the surrounding heights and hills one looked down upon nothing but green valleys, and from the valleys one looked up to the bare cliffs and crags.
The Battle Over a Prince
Southey also was drawn to this corner of England by the fame of its beauty; on one occasion, when walking across Exmoor, he was driven to take refuge at Porlock from the heavy rain, and visitors to the Ship Inn are still shown the corner by the wide old fireplace where the poet, presumably, dried his knees and wrote the ode which begins with the following inadequate description:. Then, George Eliot and Lewes discovered this north-west coast, and came to Ilfracombe, with which they were delighted; and the unconventional lady, with her broad-brimmed straw hat tied under her chin in the days when people wore bonnets , was soon a familiar enough figure, to be seen scrambling over the rocks of the bay which is haunted by the spirit of Tracy, or looking for seaweed and anemones in the clear rock-pools at low-tide.
Ilfracombe then, in the middle of the last century, kept much of its original character as a seaport of importance, which in its day had sent representatives to a shipping council in the fourteenth century, had contributed six ships towards the Siege of Calais—at a time when Liverpool was only of sufficient size to send one—and had had enough strategical value to be the scene of a projected French invasion under Napoleon.
Already Ilfracombe was beginning to be, however, what it now is pre-eminently, a "holiday resort. An account of this historic battle is preserved in a doggerel ballad, printed and sold locally, and composed Heaven knows where, which is called "Tapping the War-Lord's Claret: Why Kaiser Bill hates England. He went bathing in Rapparee Cove, and when his tutors were out of sight began blazing at the numbers on the boxes, though warned by "young Alfie Price" not to; and after a wordy altercation the Kaiser knocked down Alfie, who got up and went for him "just like a Devon bull.
The tutors came up and intervened, and Alf was given thirty shillings to keep the matter quiet; but Kaiser Bill swore implacable hate of the English, because of the affront, built his Dreadnoughts and drilled his army to avenge the insult of Rapparee Cove upon the English nation. Local publications are always, I think, of some interest, even when they are as rough and simple a doggerel as the above; and there are two magazines, printed and published at Barnstaple in the early years of the nineteenth century, and which may be seen in the Athenaeum Library of the town.
They are the Lundy Review and The Cave , and they contain stories, poetry, puns, epigrams, acrostics, all with the mild, faint flavour of a curate's tea-party in a cathedral town, and yet invested with a kind of charm by the old-fashioned type, the yellowing paper, and a small, dim picture—like the images of ourselves and our furniture which we see in those old, round, diminishing mirrors—of the life of a century ago.
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There is poetry of the Lake School fashion, exhortations to Bideford and Woody Bay, to Lynton or "The Beauties of Devon"; there is more poetry of the Byronic fashion, fierce and satiric invective yet never, be it understood, transgressing the bounds of decency or good manners! There is a strong tone of "patriotism," if by that we mean a dignified contempt for foreign manners and customs, foreign thought and foreign speech.
I call to mind one article, where the writer is good-humouredly but supremely contemptuous of the French, because of their manner of pronouncing classical names. What can you expect of a nation, says he, for whom Titus Livy is no better than a "tom-tit-liv-ing" in a hedge, and Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor philosopher, becomes "Mark O'Rail," a mere beggerly, abusive Irishman? This insularity of ours, which appears in a comic aspect in this article in The Cave , continued throughout the nineteenth century, and withstood the shock of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny without apparently being in any way shaken; it is breaking now, indeed, under the humiliations of the South African War, when we were made to feel our isolation in Europe, and under the stress of this greatest war of all, when at last we feel and say that we are proud to stand with the nations of the Continent in a common cause.
But, in the nineteenth century, not only was our insular prejudice extreme, but there was a pride in our very prejudice, which made it seem hopelessly fixed and stultified. There is a trail of it through all but the greatest writings of that time, Tennyson was not without it, Charles Kingsley, Froude. He was, besides being an author, an explorer to the Australian goldfields—from which he came back rich in observation of men and manners, but without having made a pecuniary fortune—the editor of a paper, the Edinburgh Daily Review , and a correspondent in the Franco-Prussian War.
He was a prolific and too hasty writer, but his novel of "Ravenshoe," whose scene is principally laid on the northern strip of Somerset coast, bordering the Bristol Channel, and which was his own favourite among his works, is considered by many critics to reach a high level, and to stand comparison with the work of his more famous brother.
In the Academy of the following tribute to the book appeared under the initials C. The appeal of the book was instant and permanent.
The Rebel King
Even now, after a dozen years I cannot read the story unmoved. I first read "Ravenshoe" in this year of , and to me the world seems to have travelled so far since its publication in , that its aims, its ideals, and its point of view, are hardly credible. Through it all runs that facile spirit of optimism which seems to me to have distinguished much of the thought of the mid-Victorian era, that air of "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds," that insular pride of which I have been speaking, but which to us now appears the narrowest and worst form of parochialism, a certainty that English beef, English beer, English morals, and English standards, were the ultimate excellence towards which a world of misguided foreigners might ultimately aspire, that self-satisfaction, different from pride, that glorying in prejudice, and wilful blindness to all features of national life which do not bear out the theory of an earthly paradise.
Is there any land, east or west, that can give us what this dear old England does—settled order, in which each man knows his place and his duties? It is so easy to be good in England. It is the first country in the world. A few bad harvests would make a hell of it, though.
This was written at a time, remember, when the invention of machinery, the rapid growth of industrialism, and the increasing mobility of the population of the world, had broken down the old order of things, had created large fortunes and reduced thousands to destitution; when men poured into cities and lived crowded and unhealthy in slums, when the opening phase of the grim battle between employer and employed was fought, when trade-unionism was wrested from an unwilling Government, when housing regulations, health regulations, and poor-laws, were incapable of dealing with the wars of misery, poverty, and sickness, they were designed to meet, when little by little vested interests and class prejudices were brought before the judgment of reason and found wanting—it was in such a period of our national history that Harry Kingsley could write of "settled order, in which each one knows his place and his duties.
This attitude of mind is characteristic of a whole school of mid-Victorian novelists, and George Meredith—whose earliest novel, "Richard Feverel," was published about this date—broke many a lance against it, and scolded us and laughed at us, and upset our dignified conception of ourselves, and sometimes, in his irritable affection for his countrymen, took a bludgeon to us, and broke our heads. Yet rereading the book in these present days—and even amid the scenes whose beauty and whose character Blackmore has so firmly reproduced—I find the parochialism, the self-satisfaction, and the prejudice, which lumps the whole un-English world, with its revolutions, and ideals, and racial problems, under one heading, as "dam-furriners.
He is a man, so, at the last stage of self-satisfaction, he despises what is not man—woman. The hero of "Ravenshoe," Charles, is of the same type, though not drawn with the firmness of touch with which Blackmore depicts John Ridd, and which makes him indeed a living personality to us, even if one to quarrel with.
Charles Ravenshoe is of the type which for many years we have striven to present to the contemplation of the outside world as the perfect Englishman. He is a bluff, hearty fellow, without serious vices, without, also, serious virtues; he has, of course, a perfect self-satisfaction, and a deep and unconscious selfishness, tempered by an easy good-nature and a superficial benevolence, of wishing to get on well with everybody, and to see everybody round him comfortable.
He is without ideals or spiritual aims, and has a contemptuous tolerance for them, as in the case of his brother Cuthbert, who is deeply religious and desirous of entering a monastery, and yet is held by the temptations of the world, so that his mind is a continual striving and renunciation. Charles's relationship with the lady of his choice may be gauged by the following: "How is Adelaide? Did the Englishmen of the nineteenth century really talk like that about their dearest and most intimate affairs? Of course, it must be understood, even by those who most violently disagree with me, that these strictures are passed, not upon Blackmore's novel, but upon the spirit of the age which made John Ridd the hero of such a novel, the spirit which in the dress of "John Bull" has insistently presented our less attractive qualities to the outside world as the true Englishman, and which has been, by the outside world, adopted and disliked; while such admirable traits as sincerity, disinterestedness, and self-criticism, have been neglected by us and ignored by them.
For the novel itself it is difficult to have anything but praise. The admirable sense of locality, and the art with which Blackmore has so identified his persons of fiction with actual places till we no longer disassociate them, but in the church of Oare, or the Doone Valley, or Porlock, or Badgeworthy Water, think and speak of Lorna and John Kidd as if they had had an actual existence; the firm and lively drawing of the lesser characters, the charming pastoral scenes of the life on the Ridds' farm, the really magnificent descriptions of the scenery of Exmoor, and a particular gift of narrative, all place this novel of Blackmore's on a high level in the literature of the nineteenth century.
His other novel, of which the scene is laid on this coast, is "The Maid of Sker," less well known and of less artistic weight, but of interest to anyone visiting the country between Barnstaple and Lynton, and containing a particularly vivid account of old Barnstaple Fair. I have spoken of Henry Kingsley's novel "Ravenshoe," and it is impossible to write of the literary associations of this district without mention of his elder and more famous brother; for though "Westward Ho!
The family of Kingsley, also, is intimately connected with many of the families of these villages. The Rev. Chanter, Vicar of Parracombe, married a Miss Kingsley. He himself is the author of a short monograph on Lundy, a book which is now very scarce, but which can be seen at the London Library, at the Bideford Public Library, and at the Athenaeum at Barnstaple. The Kingsleys and the Chanters are closely connected through two generations, and the strain of authorship seems to persist in them, one member after another displaying an exceptional talent. Miss Vallings, the young author of a quickly celebrated novel, "Bindweed," is a granddaughter of Mr.
Chanter, and a grandniece of Kingsley's; and the bold and original writer "Lucas Mallet" is Canon Kingsley's daughter, and a niece of Henry Kingsley. Barnstaple is a pleasant English country town, with that air of cleanliness and quiet prosperity, of excellent sanitation and odd historic corners, side by side with big new modern buildings and exquisite green gardens where the old gnarled apple-trees are afroth with blossom in the spring, which is the peculiar flavour of an English country town.
The incongruity is the charm; you step from a modern drapery store, with a respectable display of plate-glass, on to the clean narrow pavement, and find yourself looking down a small dark passage opposite, into a sunny paved court, where the houses are cream-washed, and the roofs are atilt in odd delicious angles, and the casement windows have still the old diamond panes of Elizabeth's day, and the sun lies slanting across the pots of wallflower, and the small boys play marbles as they played marbles there when the Armada sailed.
Barnstaple is a thriving little modern town, but it has many such charming scenes to the visitor with an observant eye—a narrow cobbled street, with an irregular sag of gabled houses either side, the cream and rose-coloured walls mellow and sunny in the late afternoon, or a cluster of really beautiful half-timbered houses of the sixteenth century, with carved oak doorposts and beam-ends, such as those which are known as Church Row, and stand back from the road, between Boutport Street, and the High Street, by St.
Peter's Church and St. Anne's Chapel. Peter's Church, which stands between these two main streets in the very centre of the town, is of the fourteenth century, and has a fine leaded spire, considered to be one of the finest in Europe, which the nineteenth century was anxious to abolish, and replace by a western tower of the more ordinary type.
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Fortunately Sir Gilbert Scott was called in to restore the church, and refused to have a hand in destroying the spire, so the old parish church stands as it was built, but with its spire drawn curiously out of the perpendicular by the action of the sun's rays on the lead. Within a few yards of St. Peter's stands the grammar-school, where Bishop Jewel and his neighbour and enemy, Thomas Harding, went to school in the early sixteenth century, and the poet Gay in the beginning of the eighteenth. It was originally a chapel of St. The upper part of the building dates from , but the crypt is much older, and it is conjectured to be a Saxon foundation.
The beauty of these buildings—the church, the grammar-school, and the old houses—consists so greatly in their surroundings, in the green of the grass and the unfolding chestnut-trees against the old grey stone, the twinkle of blossom by the angle of a house, and the soft sky of Devon above, that it is difficult to reproduce; it is a beauty of atmosphere rather than of outline, of sentiment and association.
I like, too, this lack of the "picturesque cult" which one finds in these English towns; the beautiful is allowed always to be the useful, and the family washing hangs on a line outside many a Tudor house as easily as in a London slum. In Boutport Street—that old street that runs more than halfway round Barnstaple, "about the port"—stands the Golden Lion Hotel, which was formerly the town house of the Earl of Bath, and was enriched in the seventeenth century by most beautiful moulded plaster ceilings and fireplaces, made by Italian craftsman who were brought over from Italy.
The front of the building has been altogether modernized, but much of the beautiful decorated interior work remains, to enrich the rooms where the many unseeing visitors take their meals. The Trevelyan Hotel, in the High Street, which presents to the street a most unpretentious exterior, and where, indeed, the principal rooms are the Victorian of Dickens, with ugly curtains and carpets, wall-papers and furniture, Victorian pictures, and Victorian bronzes on the coffee-room mantlepiece, has treasures hidden away up its dark staircases and in its cheaper and more modest bedrooms—defaced and disregarded, alas!
They showed me a great open hearth, with decorated mantle, which must have been that of the dining-room; at present the room is used for lumber. Half of it has been pulled down to build a staircase, and the low casement windows are blocked by a lean-to coalshed, making the room so dark that I could barely see the plaster modelling of the wall.
This, I confess, is a vandalism, but I still consider it as the necessary penalty we pay for not putting all the treasures of our past into museums, labelling them neatly—and never looking at them. The Penrose Almshouses in Litchdon Street, a beautiful small quadrangle, with a low colonnade surmounted by an ornamented lead gutter and steep dormer windows in a red-tiled roof, are still kept to their old uses.
They stand the wear and tear of time as well as its mellowing, and, like language, if they are here and there vulgarized by the usage of every day, without it they would be a dead language.
The Saron Conquest of Somerset. - ProQuest
Queen Anne's Walk, overlooking the river, and close to the town station, is a small colonnade of the Renaissance style, which is most familiar to us in the architecture of Bath; it has an outlandish look, with its classical lines seen against the background of the smooth river and green Devonshire country, and has not the homely charm of Elizabethan or Stuart building. It has, however, its peculiar beauty; it is suggestive of red-heeled shoes and powder, and an artificial world of beaux and belles. It must have been a pleasant enough place to walk in, until the railway came between it and the river, and its earlier name of the Merchants' Walk or the Exchange gives more of its character than its present name.
One must beware, however, in the present popular quest for the "antique," of overlooking the beauty of modern things; the market, for instance, which is a vast rectangular building standing on the High Street, has a strange and individual charm when you come into it out of the glare of the white street. The windows are fitted with light green glass, which gives a sort of ghostly twilight to its bare spaciousness, with heavy masses of gloom among the pillars of the flanking colonnade. It has no pretence to artistic ornament of any kind; it was built for a specific purpose, which it answers admirably, and when it is crowded with stalls on market-days, and noisy with buyers and sellers, it is a scene of bustle and movement which would arouse the enthusiasm of a traveller if he came upon it in some distant city of the East, though the difference of language and costume is all there is between the two.
But when it is empty, with its bare walls and bare floor and high dark roof, sun and shadow make from it a beauty which it is worth a moment's pause and stepping aside to see. The Athenaeum, also, which stands in the open space at the head of the Long Bridge, which is a noble structure of the thirteenth century, is a modern building, endowed by the late Mr.
Rock, and possessing one of the best libraries in Devonshire. It is a plain, unpretentious building; on the ground-floor a geological museum, very useful for a student—for it contains a complete collection of Devonian rocks and fossils—and the library upstairs.
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Sitting there on a summer afternoon, and seeing through the open windows the smooth sunlit curve of the river below, and the gentle slope of wooded hills beyond, the Athenaeum has a charm—that charm of weather and daily custom—which architectural description fails to convey for any building, whether it is the Parthenon or a farm-house. Without it, places lack their intimate personality, as photographs lack the personality of men and women. My memory of the Athenaeum Library is of the familiar, slightly musty smell of books, of the faint creaking of the librarian's boots, and the hum of bees and the whirr of a mowing machine, of the smell of an early summer afternoon, the white glare of the North Walk stretching beside the river, and the reflection of anchored boats, very perfect on the still water.