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there are two turnpikes on the way, at each of which those who ride have to pay a shilling toll. The drive takes you along pleasant lanes to the village of Berry Pomeroy, where there is a fine old church, and then a half mile through a wood to the ruins. These tell the old story: a grim fortalice-a baronial residence with embattled towers and spacious courts and decay. Here Ralph de la Pomeroy built a stronghold to protect the manor assigned to him by William the Norman. In the reign of Edward VI. it was confiscated, and given to the haughty Protector Somerset, under whose hands the fortress grew into a stately castle, and ever since it has been a possession of the Seymours. And now you may wander among the mouldering remains where court and hall, and chamber and dungeon, and kitchen and turret, are alike hung with ivy and ferns and drooping grasses. You may climb the ancient stairs and walk round on the top of the walls, and see how beautiful dilapidation becomes when Time has masked it with foliage. You might fancy yourself in the heart of a forest, gazing abroad through a maze of the topmost branches on the finely-wooded hills opposite, and down into the glen beneath, where trees grow so thickly that but a few gleams can be caught of its wandering brook. It is a ruin to stroll about for hours, to explore every broken stair, and every angle of the walls; to linger under crumbling doorways, and note the endless trickery of the verdure everywhere a roof of leaves and carpet. of turf. In one of the halls we found a merry picnic party, with tea laid out on a rustic table, and the kettle singing blithely by the blazing faggots in the great fireplace. And near the entrance we found waiting for her sixpence the sunburnt dame whose voice had fol
lowed us from court to court and tower to tower with shrill particulars of their history.
I wished to see more of the valley of the Dart, indeed to explore it for some miles into Dartmoor; and on our return to Totness, started at once for Buckfastleigh. The evening had drawn on; and the quiet walk of six miles while the red gleam of sunset deepened into twilight, completed the enjoyment of a day that had been a real holiday. The road is pleasant, but the woods and orchards of private grounds shut out all view of the river except at the two places where you cross it by a bridge, and there you hear it making lively music over its stony bed.
The country around Buckfastleigh is a succession of steep hills, and on the side of one of these the town is built-rural but not quiet; for here are factories where baize and blankets are made, and the noises in the street, till a late hour of the night, betoken something beyond simple rusticity. The church is at the very top of the hill, and the ascent steep. I walked up to it the next morning for the sake of the view, which is very pleasing, full of contrasts between woods and meadows, and brown moorland. At one side of the churchyard, thickly overhung with ivy, are the remains of what may have been a little chantry: its interior now occupied by the tomb of an admiral. By making a brief tour around the churchyard, you will see the quarries of black marble, and the long flight of nearly two hundred rude steps, which give access to the lower part of the town.
Then on by a lane leading up the valley, and presently you come to Buckfast Abbey, where an ancient wall and a modern factory perpetuate the memory of the Cistercians and their trade in wool.
I had a labourer
as companion for a few miles, who, in addition to telling me all he knew about the neighbourhood, had something to say on the difficulties of rearing a family on nine shillings a week. I comforted him with hopes of a time yet to come when farmers shall be ashamed to pay such miserable wages. If ever the history of patient endurance under toil and privation come to be written, the story of the English peasantry will be the most memorable chapter.
I kept on through the lanes aiming for Newbridge, mere tracks in some places, at the bottom of banks and hedges twenty feet high. Devonshire charms you in the interior not less than on the coast; the wild, hollow lanes are delightful. But what would a farmer of the new school say to the hedges? In the parish of Crediton, twelve thousand acres, a few years ago there were more than five hundred miles of hedge, and in ten adjoining parishes more than sixteen hundred miles. Some of the fields are so small that the roots stretching from either side meet, and cross in the centre. Pity, you will think, that the picturesque should be so unprofitable. But he who clears must do so judiciously; for in some counties where hedges have been swept away whether or no, a difference of climate is already felt; and while it may be better for wheat crops, it is worse grass and roots.
At Newbridge, about six miles from Buckfastleigh, you first get free access to the shore of the Dart. It is a lonely spot, not a house in sight; Holne Chase on one side, on the other the wild moor. I crossed the bridge, and struck off up the bank of the river, following a dim path among the gorse and ferns. In the midst of a dense brake I saw a pair of legs stretched across the
track, and a dog asleep close by. A strange place for such an apparition. What did it mean? I spoke. The dog awoke and yawned; the legs moved, and a boy wriggled, crab-like, out of a hole, where, as he told me, he had been scraping sand to clean the spurs and stirrups of a gentleman who was lodging at Hanneford Farm, "up there on the hill. There ain't nobody but me," he added, "as knows where to find it; and the gentleman gi'es me a shillin' sometimes, and takes me with 'n when he goes a fishin'." A livelier stream or wilder solitude an angler could not desire.
I wished to keep company with the river for five miles up to Dartmeet, and make acquaintance with its untamed features. How it leaped and brawled among the big stones, flashing along, though dyed with the brown hue of the moors. Presently you come where it shoots over two ledges of slate rock, forming a double cascade with a deep pool between. Just the place to stride out to the rocky lump farthest from the shore, and sit for a while listening to the voice of the water. It will tell you many things worth remembering.
The path soon ended, and then came manifold difficulties; brake and bramble, swamp and thicket. The fern and gorse rose higher than my head, still I could push through; but when briers thickened the barrier, I had to give up and seek a new track. Sometimes I could only extricate myself by crawling out between the roots on hands and knees. At times I came to charming little bits of the river, and a patch of open ground that gave me breathing time. The valley, however, narrows; the hills, all but precipitous, approach so close as to give it the character of a mountain glen, terminated in the distance by a lofty peak, and masses
of rock rising amid the tangle, add to the difficulties of the passage. I was put on my mettle; and bent on keeping close to the stream, climbed over the crags, waded the shallows, crept through holes, battered a way through the brakes, sometimes to find myself in a swamp and obliged to struggle back again. Now scratches, now falls into holes concealed by weeds awaited me, or scrambling up the loose stony slope to double an obstacle, the treacherous foothold gave way, and down I went to the bottom. Still I did not repent the labour. The perfect solitude, the bends and rapids of the river, and the savage aspect of the valley, were a sufficient compensation.
At the end of about two miles, "a wayless way," which took me three hours to accomplish, I began to feel tired and hungry. There was no public-house within miles of the place; but there might be a cottage. I climbed directly up the hill-no easy task-and saw a farm-house about half a mile distant, to which I walked and asked leave to buy a lump of bread. "What!" said the woman, smiling, who came to the door, "are ye hard up for a lump of bread ? Come in."
I went in. The worthy dame put half a loaf before me. Perhaps he'd like some butter," she murmured, talking perhaps to herself; and going to the dairy she returned with a fresh cool lump that might have tempted a queen. Presently: "I wonder if he likes brown bread ?" and a large brown loaf was straightway placed on the table, for which I forsook the white one. Then addressing me direct: "Wouldn't you like a cup of tea?" and without waiting for a reply she brought me a teapot from the hearth, gave me sugar and clotted cream, and I feasted to my heart's content. Yet again