When I took my leave of the honest shoemaker in Castleton, who would have rejoiced to have accompanied me, I resolved to return, not by Tideswell, but by Wardlow, which is nearer.
I there found but one single inn, and in it only a landlady, who told me that her husband was at work in the lead mines, and that the cavern at Castleton, and all that I had yet seen, was nothing to be compared to these lead mines. Her husband, she said, would be happy to show them to me.
When I came to offer to pay her for my dinner she made some difficulty about it, because, as I had neither drank ale or brandy, by the selling of which she chiefly made her livelihood, she said she could not well make out my bill. On this I called for a mug of ale (which I did not drink) in order to enable me the better to settle her reckoning.
At this same time I saw my innkeeper of Tideswell, who, however, had not, like me, come on foot, but prancing proudly on horseback.
As I proceeded, and saw the hills rise before me, which were still fresh in my memory, having so recently become acquainted with them in my journey thither, I was just reading the passage in Milton relative to the creation, in which the Angel describes to Adam how the water subsided, and
"Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave
Into the clouds, their tops ascend the sky."
Book VII., 1. 285.
It seemed to me, while reading this passage, as if everything around me were in the act of creating, and the mountains themselves appeared to emerge or rise, so animated was the scene.
I had felt something not very unlike this on my journey hither, as I was sitting opposite to a hill, whose top was covered with trees, and was reading in Milton the sublime description of the combat of the angels, where the fallen angels are made, with but little regard to chronology, to attack their antagonists with artillery and cannon, as if it had been a battle on earth of the present age. The better angels, however, defend themselves against their antagonists by each seizing on some hill by the tufts on its summit, tearing them up by the root, and thus bearing them in their hands to fling them at their enemy:
" - they ran, they flew,
From their foundation loos'ning to and fro,
They pluck'd the seated hills with all their load,
Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Uplifting bore them in their hands - ."
Book VI., 1. 642.
I seemed to fancy to myself that I actually saw an angel there standing and plucking up a hill before me and shaking it in the air.
When I came to the last village before I got to Matlock, as it was now evening and dark, I determined to spend the night there, and inquired for an inn, which, I was told, was at the end of the village; and so on I walked, and kept walking till near midnight before I found this same inn. The place seemed to have no end. On my journey to Castleton I must either not have passed through this village or not have noticed its length. Much tired, and not a little indisposed, I at length arrived at the inn, where I sat myself down by the fire in the kitchen, and asked for something to eat. As they told me I could not have a bed here, I replied I absolutely would not be driven away, for that if nothing better could be had I would sit all night by the fire. This I actually prepared to do, and laid my head on the table in order to sleep.
When the people in the kitchen thought that I was asleep, I heard them taking about me, and guessing who or what I might be. One woman alone seemed to take my part, and said, "I daresay he is a well-bred gentleman;" another scouted that notion, merely because, as she said, "I had come on foot;" and "depend on it," said she, "he is some poor travelling creature!" My ears yet ring with the contemptuous tone with which she uttered, "poor travelling creature!" It seems to express all the wretchedness of one who neither has house nor home - a vagabond and outcast of society.
At last, when these unfeeling people saw that I was determined, at all events, to stay there all night, they gave me a bed, but not till I had long given up all hopes of getting one. And in the morning, when they asked me a shilling for it, I gave them half-a-crown, adding, with something of an air, that I would have no change. This I did, though perhaps foolishly, to show them that I was not quite "a poor creature ." And now they took leave of me with great civility and many excuses; and I now continued my journey much at my ease.
When I had passed Matlock I did not go again towards Derby, but took the road to the left towards Nottingham. Here the hills gradually disappeared; and my journey now lay through meadow grounds and cultivated fields.