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willingly, what Chester could be bought for and sent home, in bulk or piecemeal, and set up again, say an hour from New York, just beyond Harlem River, I do not know that I should blame them. Naturally, there would be the question of the customs; the place could not be brought in duty free; but some nobler-minded millionaire might expand to the magnitude of the generous enterprise and offer to pay the duties if an equal sum toward the purchase could be raised. We should of course want only the Chester within the walls, but the walls and gates must be included.
Why should such a thing be impossible? Such a thing on a smaller scale, different in quantity but not in quality, had been dreamt of by a boldly imaginative Chicagoan, if we could believe the good woman in charge of the Derby House, up the little court out of Nicholas Street, where all that is left of the old town mansion of the noble Stanleys remains. This magnanimous dreamer had the vision of the Stanleys' town-house transplanted to the shores of Lake Michigan, and erected as a prime feature of the great Columbian Fair. He offered to buy it in fulfilment of his vision, so ran the tale, of whoever then could sell it; but when the head of the family to which it once belonged heard of the offer, he bought it himself in a quiver of indignation conceivably lasting yet, and dedicated it to the public curiosity forever, on the spot where its timbered and carven gables have looked into a dingy little court ever since the earliest days of Tudor architecture. If we could trust the witness of the cards which strewed the good woman's table, it was American curiosity which mainly wreaked itself on the beautiful but rather uninhabitable old house our Chicagoan failed to buy. By hungry hundreds they throng to the place, and begin to satisfy
their life-long famine for historic scenes in the mansion where Charles the First sojourned while in Chester, and whence the head of the house was taken out to die by the axe for his part in the royalist rising of 1657. So, in my rashness, I should have believed, but for the correction of Mr. Havell Crickmore, who says, in his pleasantly written and pleasantly pictured book about "Old Chester," that the Earl was "beheaded during the great Rebellion," which would shorten his life by some ten years, and make his death date 1647, not 1657. It does not greatly matter now; he would still be dead, at either date, and at either a touch of heroic humor would survive him in the story Mr. Crickmore repeats. Colonel Duckenfield of the Cromwellian forces asked him if he had no friend who would do the last office for him. "Do you mean, to cut my head off? Nay, if those men who would have my head off cannot find one to cut it off, let it stand where it is."
I have always liked to believe everything I read in guide-books, or hear from sacristans or custodians. In Chester you can believe not only the blunt Baedeker, with its stern adherence to fact, but anything that anybody tells you; and in my turn I ask the unquestioning faith of the reader when I assure him that he will find nothing so mediæval-looking out of Nuremberg as that street-I think it is called Eastgate Street-with its Rows, or two-story sidewalks,. and its timber-gabled shops with their double chance of putting up the rates on the fresh American. Let him pay the price, and gladly, for there is no perspective worthier his money. I am not in the pay of a certain pastry-cook of the Rows, who makes the wedding-cakes for all the royal marriage feasts; but I say he will serve you a toasted tea-cake with the afternoon oolong he will try to put
off on an American, such as you cannot buy elsewhere in England; only, you must be sure to eat the bottom half of the tea-cake, because most of the rich, sweet Cheshire butter will have melted tenderly into that. Go then, if you will, to the cathedral which I have been vainly seeking to decry, and study its histories, beginning with the remnants of the original Norman church of the Conqueror's lieutenant and nephew Hugh Lupus, and ending with a distinctly modern restoration of the mediæval carvings in the eastern transept, wherein Disraeli and Gladstone are made grotesquely to figure, the one in building up the Indian Empire and the other in disestablishing the Irish Church. Somewhere in the historical middle distance are certain faded flags taken from the Americans at the battle of Bunker Hill, which we should always have won if our powder had not given out, and let the enemy capture these banners. The beauty of the Chapter House will subdue you, if you rebel against the sight of them, and I can certify to the solemnity of the Cloister, which I visited with due impression; but with what success a young girl was sketching a perspective of the cathedral I did not look over her shoulder to see.
How perverse is memory! I cannot recall distinctly the prospect across the Dee from the Watergate to which the Dee use to float its ships and from which it now shrinks far beyond the green flats. But I remember that in returning through a humble street from the Watergate, the children on the door-steps were eating the largest and thickest slices of bread and butter I saw in all England, where the children in humble streets are always eating large, thick slices of bread and butter. For the pleasure of riding on the municipal trams, and of realizing how much softer and slower they run than
our monopolistic trolleys, we made, whenever we had nothing else to do, an excursion "across the sands of Dee" by the bridge which spans its valley, with always fragments of Kingsley's tender old song singing themselves in the brain, and with the visionary Mary going to call the cattle home, and the cruel, crawling foam from which never home came she.
Oh, is it fish, or weed, or floating hair,
in the tide that no longer laps the green floor that once was sand? Ask the young girls of fifty years ago, who could make people cry with the words! It was enough for me that I was actually in the scene of the tragedy, and more than all the British, Roman, Saxon, or Norseman antiquity of Chester. At the suburban extremity of the tram-line, or somewhere a little short of it, we were offered by sign-board a bargain in house-lots so phrased that it added thirty generations to the age of a region already old enough in all conscience. We were not invited to buy the land brutally in fee-simple, outright; but it was intimated that the noble or gentle family to which it belonged would part with it temporarily on a lease of nine hundred and ninety-nine years. I hope we fully felt the delicacy, the pathos in that reservation of the thousandth year, which was the more appealing because it was tacit.
These lots were no part of the vast estate of the great noble whose seat lies farther yet out of Chester in much the same direction. It was one of the many aristocratic houses which I meant to visit in England, but as I really visited no other, I am glad that I gave way in the matter of a shilling to the driver of the fly who held that the drive to the place was worth that much more
than I did. I tried hard for the odd shilling, as an affair of conscience and of public spirit; but the morning was of a cool-edged warmth, and of a sky that neither rained nor shone, and the driver of the fly was an elderly man who looked as if he would not lie about the regular price, though I pretended so strenuously it should be six and not seven shillings for the drive, and I yielded. After all (I excused my weakness to myself), it would have been seven dollars at home; and presently we were in the leafy damp, the leafy dark of the parkway within the gates of the great nobleman's estate beyond the Dee. Eight thousand acres large it stretches all about, and is visibly bounded only by the beautiful Welsh hills to the westward, and four miles we drove through the woodsy quiet of the park, which was so much like the woodsy quiet of forest-ways not so accessible at home. Birds were singing in the trees, and on the hawthorns a little may hung yet, though it was well into June. Rabbits-or if they were hares I mean no offence to the hares-limped leisurely away from the road-side. Coops of young pheasants, carefully bringing up to be shot in the season for the pleasure of noble or even royal guns, were scattered about in the borders. of the shade; and grown cock and hen pheasants showed their elect forms through the undergrowth in the conscious pride of a species dedicated to such splendid selfsacrifice. In the open spaces the brown deer by scores lay lazily feeding, their antlers shining, or their ears pricking through the thin tall stems of the grass. Otherwhere in paddock or pasture, were two-year-olds or three-year-olds, of the blooded hunters or racers to whose breeding that great nobleman is said to be mostly affectioned, though for all I personally know he may be more impassioned of the fine arts, or have his whole