« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
to get, if it were possible, some in nine days before completing his 100th formation from him as to the way in year. But I number among my friends which his tithes were collected in the who are still alive an old worthy who days when they were paid in kind. is some months over 100. I first beHe had nothing, absolutely nothing, to came acquainted with him about three tell me. "I have been trying to re years ago, when he used to be up to a member something for you," he said, five miles walk without fatigue; he "but it's so long ago that I can't recol was then in possession of all his facullect.” He never thought of anything ties, except that he was a little deaf, so far back. His memory began at a and he more than once asured me that point where the reminiscences of men if he survived until 1900 he should be of fifty begin. All before that was a able to boast that he had lived in three blank; but of the last fifty years of centuries. Recently, however, they had his life he could talk as simply and as found that he was baptized on the 12th accurately as I could, so much and no of February, 1800, and he now calls more. There seemed to have been that his birthday, though the probabilonly two incidents in his boyhood that ity is that he was right at first when he habitually recurred to. The first was he assumed or asserted that he was when he was about fourteen years old. born in 1799. Mr. Lewis Barton, for He had somehow played truant, and he that is the old man's name, was a shoefound himself at Epsom on the Derby maker at Dereham for sixty or seventy day [?]. There was a great crowd and years, and saved a modest competency the lad was very nearly ridden over by by his own industry and thrift. In the Prince Regent. "I got somehow early life he used to travel on his own between the horse's front legs, and I account for orders, and he had journeylooked up and saw his Royal Highness men working for him in the villages towering over me.” This must have round. When the railroad came he saw been in 1804, for Mr. Edwards was that this peripatetic looking about for born in 1789.
customers would not pay, and he stayed The other incident which had made at home and his old customers came an indelible impression upon him was to him instead of his going to them, when he was a pupil with Forby, the and he was the gainer. All through author of the valuable “Vocabulary of life he has been a most pronounced and East Anglia," at Fincham, of which loyal Churchman, and, when both eyeplace Forby became rector in 1801. sight and hearing failed him, he worHere, again, he had nothing to tell me ried himself a good deal because, as of Forby, except that "he was a rare he said to me, “I find it hard, sir, that flogger and gave Pillans a cruel flog I can't make my early Communion now, ging the very day he was going to as I used to do!" The worthy Vicar leave him.” Who “Pillans" was I did of Dereham met that difficulty easily, not ask and I do not know. "Do you and on his birthday (or it may be only remember William Girling, sir, who his baptismal day) he administered the was at Forby's with you?” “Was he? Blessed Sacrament to the old gentleNo, I don't remember that-it's so long man and a small congregation of his ago. Of course I knew Mr. Girling friends in the room where now almost very well when he lived at Scarning.” all his time is passed. Old Barton is That is after Mr. Edwards had become wonderfully vigorous in mind even rector of Ashill. Everything before now; he used to be a great reader, and that had passed from his memory. as long as he could he read the Psalms
As I have said, Mr. Edwards died daily. The loss of his sight, which
came on quite suddenly, was a terrible This is my experience of life among the blow to him. It was pitiful to see him elders of Arcady. wave his hand to the bookshelves be To the honor of the guardians of this hind his chair, saying, "Ah, I shall Poor Law Union be it written that never read them any more. They're they have more than once been cenall dumb or asleep to me now, sir. But sured by the officials in high places yet, you see, they're not all dead and for not too rigidly forcing the aged poor forgotten. There's old Shakespeare among us into "the house.” The result still comes back upon me. I used to is that in this parish there have been read old Shakespeare almost every for some time past an extraordinary week seventy or eighty years ago. number of aged folk who have been Don't you think he was a wonder, sir?" allowed to live on undisturbed in One day, not so very long ago, he be their birthplace for eighty or ninety gan abruptly to recite the famous so years, some of them subsisting for ten liloquy of Hamlet:
or fifteen years on the niggardly pit
tance allowed them as "out-door relief." To be, or not to be: that is the ques. Of course, when a lonely old man has tion;
no one to look after him and begins to
mumble querulously and to get into He got as far as
dirty habits, such a one is best sent to There's the respect
the workhouse, where he gets fairly That makes calamity of so long life.
well attended to, and he usually ends
by growing silly. He is friendless and Then he paused with a curious fixed has nothing to live for, and forgets all set in the blind eyes, turned my way that is worth remembering. It is, how“Ah! sir, I do pray God to de- ever, very different with the old people liver me from that — that tempta- who have never been uprooted from tion of getting tired of this life the old belongings. On a single page now. ..." What more he added I of our parish register, which covers a may not and I will not repeat. I am period of less than thirteen months, i.e., persuaded that if I had known old Bar- from the 25th of March, 1877, to the ton a year or two before his deafness 20th of April, 1878, I find that five had become a bar to any continuous persons were buried whose united ages conversation, I should have gathered amounted to 425 years. The youngest a volume of curious and interesting of them died at eighty-two, the eldest reminiscences, which now have passed at ninety-two. Now, I have never but away and can never be recovered. twice in my Arcadian experience Thus it is that we miss our chances, known of an aged man or woman who and once missed, they never return. "lost their memory," as the phrase is.
I cannot, however, reproach myself They can always tell you something for neglecting any opportunities of about the long past. They can do picking up those fr entary records more than that; they love nothing betof the past which the elders of Arcady ter than to talk of what their fathers have handed down to me from their and grandfathers did and said. This sometimes well-stored memories. The is to me the most precious kind of folkolder I grow the more do I believe in lore. But how few people have ever traditions. Old people never invent, considered how far back the "living they do not much exaggerate, and the memory" of a man can carry us. Let more ignorant they are, the more accu me illustrate this by an example. rately do they tell their old stories. Joseph Barker died in April, 1883, în
his ninetieth year. He ofter used to ual curacy of St. Saviour's, Norwich, speak of his father and grandfather. till "1785. After being constitootioned They were neither of them apparently he never put in an appearance here again estimable characters, and I believe that for the rest of his life. "He was the grandfather was about fifty when that scared by Billy Barlow he wouldn't the grandson was born, and he lived come here no more, not even to be to a good old age. That means that Joe buried.” And this is how it came to Barker's reminiscences, including such pass: Billy Barlow, apparently, was stories as he heard from his grand- then a big, hulking, "owdacious" lad. father, covered a period of, at least, 140 "And when Parson Tapps came over years; in other words, they went back the bridge, and the tother gentle folks to, say, 1743. But it seems that the as was with him, the sexton he ungrandfather was as fond of talking locked the Church door and they all about his young scrapes and prowess went in, and they left the key in the as the grandson was, and "he'd used door. And there was old Billy a-lookto say as he learnt all his devilment ing on, and when they was all inside from an old chap as my father used to Billy shut the door and locked it, and talk about too, sometimes-old Billy pulled out the key and he hulled it into Barlow, as broke a chap's nose with the moat, and there it is now, I suphis fist, fair fighting, too. They said pose; and Billy he made hisself scarce, that chap was a highwayman and was and he never split on hisself, you may a-looking out for a po-shay
assure yourself!" a-coming on the road. But he didn't Now, I have no doubt whatever that stop no po-shays that night, you may this did actually happen in the year depend on it!" I listened patiently 1741, when Richard Tapps was institill a pause came, then I interposed. tuted, as appears by the Episcopal Rec"But who was Billy Barlow?" "Oh, he ords, and though he died in 1789, during was dead afore I was much more nor all these forty-eight years his name born. My toes though!--grandfather never once appears in our parish books, used to say as he was a owdacious one. though these have been kept with Why, when he was a boy he locked rather unusual care and precision for Parson Tapps into Scarning Church the last 200 years. when he came to be constitootioned !" "But how about the bridge and the It took me some time to interpret that moat?" obscure word, until a happy thought "Well! that's what my old grandflashed upon me that he meant insti- father used to say. When he used to tuted, and I inferred that even in those tell that tale he'd always talk about the remote ages beneficed clergy were in bridge and the moat, and I don't know stituted with the old forms just as what he meant!" No! Joe Barker did they are now. "But, Joe," I asked, not know about those things, for bridge "who was Parson Tapps? No man and moat probably had disappeared named Tapps was ever rector of Scarn- long before he was born. But I am ing. I know all their names for three in the habit of pointing out to my hundred years.” Hereupon came a long friends where the old rectory stood discussion, and old Joe grew more and less than a hundred years ago, and more positive. At last it came to this: which Mr. Barry Girling distinctly reThere was a certain Richard Tapps, membered. It was an old moated who was constitootioned rector of Scarn- house, and you may easily trace the ing in 1741, as I afterwards discovered, moat, which must have been filled and he held the living with the perpet- up about the middle of the last century,
LIVING AGE. VOL. VIII. 405
when an important alteration was made his people of ages which, in his opinion, in the highroad, which then, apparently, knew nothing and were best forgotten. was carried between the church and Eight or nine years ago I went to the parsonage, the new road actually Fransham to have a talk with Harry passing over the bed of the moat on the Pestell and his wife-two dear old north side of the house, which I doubt people that had lived all their lives in not in those days was crossed by a the parish and were fond of talking bridge communicating with the church about all that concerned the place. Old yard. I have set down all these things Harry Pestell must have been some because they afford an illustration of inches higher than six feet in his youth, an incident, in itself trifling and unim- and even when I saw him he was a portant, and occurring nearly 160 grand specimen of an old man. He years ago, coming to my knowledge talked freely, not to say volubly. Of from the lips of a man who had never
he had known the Vandal. read a book in his life, and whose "Why! he right down scrome when he father and grandfather "did not know a heard tell that that bit off the angel had great A from a bull's foot,” as the wise dropt off. 'Have'm daywn! he says. and learned say.
'Have'm daywn! Lor', as Mas'r Alpe Let me give another illustration of used to say, 'he needn't a-been afraid the value of these local traditions. as any good angels were a-goin to
The parish of Little Fransham pos- fetch him afore his time; he warn't sesses a church which is still beautiful such good company for the likes of in its sore decay. The oak roof, which they! Anyhow, he had 'em daywn, and dates from the fifteenth century, still then he sawed off the backs o' the remains, though the angels with ex- seats. He'd used to do what he liked, he panded wings, which once added to the did. Them seats had been there, I'm splendor of the place, the rood screen told, hundreds and hundreds o' years which, some fifty years ago, divided before him, and we boys we used to sit the chancel from the nave, the backs in 'em, and many's the time as I's sot of the oak seats (themselves still in in they seats and watched the images.” situ), and a great deal else that con- "You mean the angels, I suppose ?" tributed to make the interior of the "No! I don't mean the angels. S'pose sacred building "exceeding magnifi- I dunno a angel from a image?" cal,” have been swept away in the "But where were the images? What memory of man. The angels in the were they?" roof went first, about fifty years ago;
[N.B. When you are questioning an they were sawn off because the Vandal old man, or, for that matter, when who happened to be at that time rector you're cross-examining any man, never of the parish thought they were danger- ask two questions at once.] ous. Then the backs of the seats were "Well, you're a larned gent, you are, sawn off, because the aforesaid Vandal and maybe you can tell me what they declared that they encouraged the people was, for I never heerd no one say what to go to sleep when he was preaching, they was. But d'ye think I don't gnaw as though any human being could pos- a angel from a image? There was four sibly have kept awake while that Phil- on 'em, and we boys used to look at istine was droning out his platitudes. 'em all sermon time. Angels!-they Then the rood screen went the way of warn't no angels!" so many rood screens—and that Van- "Well, but, my good friend, what is dal was happy. He had made a clean the difference between an angel and an sweep of everything that could remind image?”
By which very foolish question you "images" which were fixed in sockets will observe I showed my weakness, on the rood beam. There were for the and, thereby, I very nearly lost the ex- most part four such "images," two of tremely valuable piece of information them being always those of the Blessed which came out of this interview. Virgin Mary and St. John. As an inHappily, however, old Pestell was quite stance, I may mention that on the rood equal to the occasion.'
beam of Scarning Church there are five "What's the difference? Why, a such sockets distinctly traceable. The angel's got wings and a image has got socket for the rood or crucifix being. his close on. And a angel ain't painted considerably larger than those for the all manner o' colors, and they images images. At Fransham I conjecture, they was dressed in red and green, and with some hesitation, that the rood was two on 'em was men, and two on 'em not fixed into the beam, but suspended was women. D'ye s'pose I dunno what from the roof, and so the images were a image is ?"
left undisturbed. Anyhow, I can have Old Pestell was getting quite angry no doubt that we have here an instance. at my incredulity. So I dropt the sub- of the aforesaid images having reject for a few minutes to give him time mained in situ in a small village church. to recover his equanimity.
till the second decade of this century, "Where were those images you spoke and were actually remembered by a of just now?"
man still living ten years ago. Old "Where! Why, atop of the screen, o' Pestell died at Fransham in January. courst. There was a kind of balcony 1891, in his ninety-third year. in front of 'em and they stood behind it; It is, however, when we avail ourand we boys we'd used to watch 'em, selves of the opportunities which a long cause lots on 'em used to say they'd chat in the lowly cottages of the aged seen 'em move, and I've watched 'em poor affords us that we get some of the scores of times to see if I could see most instructive reminiscences of the 'em move. But they never did as I daily life and social habits, and ways saw for all my watching of 'em!" of thinking and religious sentiments, of
"Were they on the top of the screen our rustics in days when there were when the Vandal took it down?” no railroads, and no newspapers and no
"Lorno. That was long afore his large farms, and when the roads were, time. That was Parson Swatman as for thousands of miles in England, alsawed them off. I was a grown man most incredibly bad. It was only in by that time, and I heerd tell as one of 1827 that McAdam was appointed Genthe boys took his oath as he'd seen one eral Surveyor of Roads, and received a of the images move a goodish way and grant of 10,0001. from Parliament as a nodded his head, and he stood to it that recognition of his great services in hard that Parson Swatman said he'd bringing about the improvement of the seen double; and then some on 'em highways in various parts of England. laughed a goodish deal, and then Par- Even as late as 1830 (and I believe son Swatman said he'd have no more after that) the parish roads within four images, and he sawed 'em off.”
or five miles of Norwich were so nearly Now, the inference from all this is impassable that Mr. Micklethwaite, plain enough. When the roods were owner of Taverham Hall—a considerremoved by authority from the chancelable squire and High Sheriff of Norfolk screens in the sixteenth century, the in 1810-used habitually to drive into spoilers almost invariably tore down, Norwich with four horses, as his son not only the central crucifix, but the informed me some twenty years ago,