Chapter V. Stratford to Coventry.

This is the walk referred to by the two Englishmen who laid a wager as to which was the finest walk in England. "After the money had been put up, one named the walk from Stratford to Coventry, and the other from Coventry to Stratford. How the umpire decided the case, is not recorded." It was late in the afternoon on Saturday, July 10th, when I bade adieu to Stratford, and went away rejoicing, in the hope of soon seeing the beauties of England's most charming agricultural section.

After two hours, I entered Charlecote Park, where I disturbed several herds of deer, some hundred head in all. From this park, as lame tradition has it, Shakespeare once stole deer, and became an exile for the crime!

On Sunday forenoon I attended service at

St. Mary's Church,

in Warwick. The choir, lady chapel and chapter-house are among the purest examples of Decorated work, and date from 1394. The tomb of Richard Beauchamp (Bee'cham) in the Lady Chapel, is considered the most splendid in the kingdom, with the single exception of that of Henry VII. in Westminster Abbey.

A very high tower stands over the entrance door, at the west end of the church. The organ and choir (at the same end) rendered the finest music that I heard in England. There were several very highly cultivated voices among those of the half dozen ladies that occupied the space in front of the organ.

Everything else about the services is eminently examplery of the olden times. Preaching is the least important part of the exercises. Pulpit oratory finds no place here. Singing, praying and readings are the leading feature of worship in the English Church in general, and of old churches like this, in particular. Such exercises seem to be eminently appropriate for a people whose hearts and minds are almost petrified in civil and religious forms and ceremonies. The step which the English Church took away from Catholicism, must have been an extremely short one, if it was a step at all. This congregation still turn their faces toward the east, during a certain part of their recitals, and bow ceremoniously, in concert, as often, as they mention the name of "Jesus Christ."

Two miles from Warwich, is Leamington, (L[)e]m'ington), a fashionable "spa," which I visited in the afternoon. It is a very pretty town, and emphatically modern in style; presenting nothing that is anti-American in appearance, except its clusters of chimney-tops, so common everywhere in Europe. As soon as one has crossed the Atlantic he will seldom longer see single square tops built upon the chimneys, but each apartment of the house has its own chimney; all these converge, but do not meet before coming out of the roof, so that from two to six or eight tops generally keep each other company on the house-tops.

At 3:45 p.m., I started from Warwick for Coventry. The road leading from this place to Coventry is an excellent turnpike, just as that is from Stratford hither, and has a splendid gravel walk for pedestrians on one side, and a riding path for those on horseback, on the other side.

Five miles brought me to Kenilworth Castle. Great must have been its glories when Elizabeth came here in 1575 to visit Liecester. Cromwell dismantled it, and laid waste the gardens around it, and the tooth of time has been gnawing at it ever since, but it is magnificent even in its ruins. "Go round about it, tell the towers thereof, and mark well its bulwarks, if you would know what a mighty fortress it must have been when it held out for half a year against Henry III. in 1266, or what a lordly palace when it thrice welcomed Elizabeth to its hospitalities, three hundred years later."

A quarter or half a mile further on, is a fine church, and nearby an ivy-covered arch. A passing gentleman told me this had been the entrance to an ancient abbey; and others said it was a part of the ruined Castle of Kenilworth.

It was 6:00 o'clock when I left here, and had five miles more to Coventry. A mile and a half on this side of that city lie the extensive possessions of Lord Leigh. This wealthy peer owns here, in one stretch, about twenty square miles of the finest and most fertile land in the world.

About a mile from Coventry I encountered an enormous stream of pedestrians coming out of the city to take their evening walk. The promenade, which is about ten feet wide at that place, was so thronged with the gay young couples, that I found it impossible to walk against the mighty stream, and took the middle of the street. After. I had entered the gate, I found the pavements on both sides of the road becoming more and more crowded, all bound for a pleasant grassy grove known as "the lovers quarters."

It is difficult to make estimates under such circumstances, but there can hardly have been less than 5,000 to 10,000 persons upon the promenade that evening.

Coventry.

Coventry is remarkable for its elegant parish churches, which are among the finest in England.

"St. Michael's Church is one of the largest (some say the largest) and noblest parish churches in England." Its steeple built between 1373 and 1395, is 303 feet high. The church was finished in 1450, when Henry VI. heard mass there. The second and third of the "three tall spires" of Coventry are that of Trinity Church and of Christ Church. St. John's is famous for its magnificent western window.

Coventry is well worth, a visit on account of those famous churches.

I was accompanied to those fine edifices by two precociously intelligent little beauties, (of seven and eleven years respectively), whose gayety and cheer fulness not only rendered their society very accept able to "a stranger in a strange land;" but the simple fact of their being permitted to accompany so perfect a stranger to all parts of the city, showed how much trust some foreigners have in Amercans, and consequently, to what extent one may put confidence in them. Such incidents are very pleasant and encouraging to the lonely pilgrim and may be made a matter of almost daily occurence by any social but circumspective traveler. The traveling public in Europe are so social, and etiquette so free, that the tourist can at every step form the acquaintance of some one who is bound for the same church, museum or pleasure garden and thus be continually enjoying the benefits of intelligent and cheerful company.

On Monday noon, July 12th, I left Coventry by rail, to return to

Warwick via Leamington.

At 3:30 p.m., I had passed through the many elegant apartments of Warwick Castle, and stood at the top of its tower, overlooking the wood groves, and flower garden, occupying the 70 acres of ground belonging to that princely mansion.

Among the ornamental trees, our guide pointed out "one that Queen Victoria planted with her own hands." Scott calls Warwich Castle "the farest monument of ancient and chivalrous splender which yet remains uninjured by time."

It is said to have been founded in the 10th century, destroyed in the 13th, and restored by Thomas de Beauchamp in the 14th. It has been preserved so well that it looks almost like a new palace, to-day

Oxford

with its score of colleges scattered all over the city, constituting the world renowned University of the same name, was "done" the next day, but done in a hurry. It is a depressing business to pass by so much, giving but a glance here and there, and not be able to see so many things more at leisure, Magnificent libraries and museums, grand churches and chapels, and extensive buildings and botanical gardens, were rushed through and passed by, as if the charm and beauty of Oxford's scenes consisted rather in making the images of them flit in quick succession across the retina of the eye, than in examining, studying and contemplating them.

Merton College, founded 1264, contains a library 600 years old. Many of its large and rare books are chained to their respective shelves, like dogs to their kennels; and with chains too, of sufficient strength to check any canine's wanderings. Christ Church I entered by the Tower-Gate, so named after the great bell contained in the cupola of the tower over it. This bell weighs about 17,000 pounds. The quadrangle inclosed by the buildings of this college, is "the largest and the most noble in Oxford." Its dimensions are 264 by 200 feet, or nearly an acre and a half in extent. The "Hall" is 113 feet by forty, and fifty feet in height. "The roof is of carved oak, with very elegant pendants, profusely decorated with the armorial bearings and badges of King Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey, and has the date 1529." Its bay window at the end of the dais with its rich grained vault of fan-tracery, is admired by every one.

Christ Church Meadow, with its "Broad Walk" one and a quarter mile in circuit, and Addison walk, near St. Mary Magdalen College, are among the most bewitching promenades that can be found anywhere, while "the manner in which High street opens upon the view, in walking from the Botanic Garden, is probably one of the finest things of the kind in Europe."

Oxford is all history and poetry. There is a tradition that upon the top of the elegant tower St. Mary Magdalen, formerly on every May-day morning, at four o'clock, was sung a requiem for the soul of Henry VII., the reigning monarch at the time of its erection. The custom of chanting a hymn beginning with

  "Te Deum Patrem colimus, 
  Te laudibus prosequimur,"

In the same place is still preserved, on the same morning of each year, at five o'clock.

The dark lantern which Guy Fawks used in the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, and a picture of the conspirators are contained in the New Museum.

From Oxford I went directly to London by a fast line, which occupied less than two hours in making the journey. From the cars, we saw Windsor Castle, with its colors raised, meaning that the Queen was there.

We also passed some large patches of flowers in the fields, which were cultivated for the London flower-market.

Foreigners in general have a great passion for flowers. While ladies wear them in their hair, upon their bosoms, and carry them in their hand, the gentlemen will carry button-hole bouquets, and many even stick them upon their hats. They are fashionable with all ages and all classes. From blooming maidenhood to gray-headed age, all will adorn themselves with flowers. The English seem to cultivate the most flowers, while the French and the Italians, and (lately?) the Germans, wear most upon their persons. In England, every available spot of spare soil about the yard, is planted with flowers; on the continent, all the fashionable restaurants and cafes must daily be supplied with fresh bouquets, with which these halls are decorated in lavish profusion.