Mansfield is a very substantial and venerable town, bearing a name which one distinguished man has rendered illustrious by wearing it through a brilliant life. It is situated near the celebrated Sherwood Forest, and is marked by many features of peculiar interest. One of its noticeable celebrities is the house in which Lord Chesterfield resided. It is now occupied by a Wesleyan minister, who elaborates his sermons in the very room, I believe, in which that fashionable nobleman penned his polite literature for youthful candidates for the uppermost circles of society. In the centre of the market place there is a magnificent monument erected to the memory of the late Lord George Bentinck, who was held in high esteem by the people of the town and vicinity. The manufactures are pretty much the same as in Nottingham. They turn out a great production of raw material in red sandstone, very much resembling our Portland, quite as fine, hard and durable. Immense blocks of it are quarried and conveyed to London and to all parts of the kingdom. The town also supplies a vast amount of moulding sand, of nearly the same color and consistency as that we procure from Albany. I stopped on my way into the town to take a turn through the cemetery, which was very beautifully laid out, and looked like a great garden lawn belted with shrubbery, and illuminated with the variegated lamps of flowers of every hue and breath. The meandering walks were all laid with asphalte, which presented a new and striking contrast to the gorgeous borders and the vivid green of the cleanly shaven grass. Many of the little graves were made in nests of geraniums and other modest and sweet-eyed stars of hope.
Next day I had a very enjoyable walk in a north-westerly direction to Chesterfield. On the way, called in at a blacksmith's shop, and had a long talk with the smith-in-chief on matters connected with his trade. The "custom-work" of such shops in country villages in England is like that in ours fifty years ago - embracing the greatest variety of jobs. Articles now made with us in large manufacturing establishments at a price which would starve a master and his apprentice to compete with, are hammered out in these English shops on a single anvil. On comparing notes with this knight of the hammer, I learned a fact I had not known before. His price for horse-shoeing varied according to the size of the hoof, just as our leather-shoemakers charge according to the foot. On taking leave of him he intimated, in the most frank and natural way in the world, that, in our exchange of information, the balance was in his favor, and that I could not but think it fair to pay him the difference. I looked at him first inquiringly and doubtingly, embarrassed with the idea that I had not understood him, or that he was a journeyman and not the master of the establishment. But he was as free and easy and natural as possible. An American tobacco-chewer, of fifty years' standing, would not have asked a cut from a neighbor's "lady's twist," or "pig-tail" in more perfect good faith. That good, round, English face would have blushed crimson if the man suspected that I misunderstood him. Nay, more, he would quite likely have thrown the pennies at my head if I had offered them to him to buy bread or bacon with for himself and family. I had no reason for a moment's doubt. It all meant beer, "only that and nothing more;" a mere pour boire souvenir to celebrate our mutual acquaintance. So I gave him a couple of pennies, just as I would have given him a bite of tobacco if we had both been in that line. I feared to give him more, lest he might think I meant bread and bacon and thought him a beggar. But I ventured to tell him, however, that I did not use that beverage myself, and hoped he would wish me health in some better enjoyment.
I saw, for the first time, a number of Spanish cattle feeding in a pasture. They were large, variously colored animals with the widely-branching horns that distinguish them. A man must have a long range of buildings to stable a score of creatures with such horns, and for that reason they will only be kept as curiosities in these northern latitudes. And they are curiosities of animal life, heightened to a wonderment when placed side by side with the black Galloways, or those British breeds of cattle which have no horns at all. I should not wonder, however, if this large, cream-colored stock from Spain should be introduced here to cross with the Durhams, Devons, and Herefords.
When about half-way from Mansfield to Chesterfield, a remarkable change came over the face of the landscape. The mosaic work of the hill-sides and valleys showed more green squares than before. Three-fourths of the fields were meadow or pasture, or in mangel or turnips. There was but one here and there in wheat or other grain. The road beneath and the sky above began to blacken, and the chimneys of coal-pits to thicken. Sooty-faced men, horses and donkeys passed with loaded carts; and all the premonitory aspects of the "black country" multiplied as I proceeded. I do not recollect ever seeing a landscape change so suddenly in England.