Imágenes de páginas



He took a journey, being accompanied by a countryman and companion of his own College, and both on foot; which was then either more in fashion, or their want of money or humility made it so.


He learned that these uncommonly scarce and precious volumes, belonged to an Ancient Gentleman, whose name was studiously concealed; but who was in the habit of coming once or twice a week,-to smoke his pipe and lounge over his books; sometimes making extracts from them, and sometimes making observations in the margin with a pencil.


Ir was towards the close of one of those long and delicious summer days, which the pious George Herbert has exquisitely called "the bridal of the earth and sky," that two personages of clerical appearance, who seemed to have attained the middle period of life, presented themselves at the little Inn adjoining the village of Eastwell, in the fair County of Kent. A small leathern wallet buckled on the back of one, and the dusty habiliments of both, indicated them to be of that order of gentle

[ocr errors]

men-travellers, or strollers, which,-because it sometimes includes both patricians and plebeians,— is expressed, in modern phraseology, by the epithet of pedestrian. In fact, they were two Graduates of a certain famous College on the banks of the Cam; who, rejoiced to escape from poring over antiquated authors in their own apartments, and listening day after day to the classical standing-jokes of the Combination-room, were profiting by the long-vacation to renew their acquaintance with modern life and nature, amidst the delightful scenery with which the above-named County is well known to abound.

The keen air of the downs, and their long ramble, had the usual effect upon the Pedestrians, of sharpening their appetites and elevating their spirits. With minds open to all the impressions of the beautiful country through which they were travelling, they had been occupied by an interchange of thoughts, tastes, and feelings; discussing, perhaps, some of the great political topics which at this time engaged the public attention; or, it may be, in accordance with their own ordinary habits, debating, in scholarlike terms, some abstruse and knotty subject, which had often bewildered the schoolmen of past ages.

At length, when with exhausted lungs and parched throats they had settled these points to their mu

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

tual satisfaction, they were hardly less pleased to find themselves close upon a long straggling tenement, before which, swinging from the branch of an old tree, and flapping in the wind, was sus→ pended a sign, exhibiting the goodly portraiture of the First King George; who was then but recently elevated to maintain the Protestant ascendancy, and be at the same time the Patron-saint of all the best liquors of the nation.


The serenity of the evening had summoned into the air all the male population of the place, and groups of the younger villagers were to be seen engaged in their sports on the common hard by; whilst, on benches at the Ale-house door, the rustic grey-beards were seated in solemn divan, arranging their own and their neighbours' concerns, with all the vehemence and hilarity inspired by a foaming tankard; the potency of which, in those good old times, was measured, rather by the liberality of mine host, than by the gauge of a cellar-inquisitor. All these were auspicious omens for the Hostel; for merry faces at the door of your Inn, are fully as attractive to weary way-farers, and not half so deceiving, as the ancient ivy-bush of your vintner, and his own protest touching the surpassing quality of his liquors. Within the precincts of Alma-Mater, the two Graduates would

probably have shrunken from the contamination of such a place of public resort;-but rambling, as they were, for health and pleasure in a remote district, with no observant eye watching them, they felt themselves free to follow their own fancies; and without hesitation approached the humble roof which offered them refreshment. The distance to the next town was so considerable, that it was scarcely a matter of choice which determined them to take up their abode here for the night, if they could meet with the requisite accommodation and, their enquiries proving satisfactory, they were ushered into a clean sanded little parlour by the portly dame of the house, who, with civil welcome, received them and their orders, and prepared with alacrity to provide for their entertainment.


As they wished for somewhat more privacy than this room afforded, communicating, as it did, by a low bowed-window with the enclosed spot, whereon the peasants were assembled, they enquired of their Hostess whether they could not be indulged with a more retired apartment.

"Truly, my masters," replied she, "our house is but small, and not fit for gentlefolks, for the most of our customers be of our own neighbourhood; and they are content with our poor ac

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »