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First Impressions of England and its People
Chapter V


Dudley; significant Marks of the Mining Town. — Kindly Scotch Landlady. — Temperance Coffee-house. — Little Samuel the Teetotaller. — Curious Incident. — Anecdote. — The Resuscitated Spinet. — Forbearance of little Samuel. — Dudley Museum ; singularly rich in Silurian Fossils. — Mcgalichthys Hibberti. — Fossils from Mount Lebanon; very modern compared with those of the Hill of Dudley. — Geology peculiarly fitted to revolutionize one’s Ideas of Modern and Ancient. — Fossils of extreme Antiquity furnished by a Canadian Township that had no name twenty years ago. — Fossils from the Old Egyptian Desert found to be comparatively of Yesterday.—Dudley Castle and Castle-hill.— Cromwell’s Mission. — Castle finds a faithful Chronicler in an old Serving-maid. — Her Narrative. — Caves and Fossils of the Castle-hill. — Extensive Excavations. — Superiority of the Natural to the Artificial Cavern. — Fossils of the Scottish Grauwacke. — Analogy between the Female Lobster and the Trilobite.

The town of Dudley has been built half on the Silurian deposit, half on, the coal-field, and is flanked on the one side by pleasant fields, traversed by quiet green lanes, and on the other by ruinous coal-workings and heaps of rubbish. But as the townspeople are not “lie-wasters,” we find, in at least the neighborhood of the houses, the rubbish heaps intersected with innumerable rude fences, and covered by a rank vegetation. The mechanics of the place have cultivated without levelling them, so that for acres together they present the phenomenon of a cockling sea of gardens, — a rural Bay of Biscay agitated by the ground-swell,—with rows of cabbages and beds of carrots riding on the tops of huge waves, and gooseberry and currant bushes sheltering in deep troughs and hollows. I marked, as I passed through the streets, several significant traits of the mining town: one of the signboards, bearing the figure of a brawny half-naked man, armed with a short pick, and coiled up like an Andre Ferrara broadsword in a peck basket, indicates the inn of the “Jolly Miner;” the hardware shops exhibit in their windows rows of Davy’s safety lamps, and vast piles of mining tools; and the footways show their sprinkling of rugged-looking men, attired in short jackets and trousers of undyed plaiding, sorely besmutted by the soil of an underground occupation. In some instances, the lamp still sticking in the cap, and the dazzled expression of countenance, as if the eye had not yet accommodated itself to the light, indicate the close proximity of the subterranean workings. I dropped into a respectable-looking tavern to order a chop and a glass of ale, and mark, meanwhile, whether it was such a place as I might convert into a home for a few days with any reasonable prospect of comfort. But I found it by much too favorite a resort of the miners, and that, whether they agreed or disputed, they were a noisy generation over their ale. The landlady, a kindly, portly dame, considerably turned of fifty, was a Scotchwoman, a native of Airdrie, who had long ago married an Englishman in her own country, and had now been settled in Dudley for more than thirty years. My northern accent seemed to bespeak her favor; and taking it for granted that I had come into England in quest of employment, but had not yet been successful in procuring any, she began to speak comfort to my dejection, by assuring me that our country folk in that part of the world were much respected, and rose always, if they had but char acter, into places of trust. I had borne with me, on my homely suit of russet, palpable marks of my labors at Sedgley and the Wren’s Nest, and looked, I daresay, rather geological than genteel. Character and scholarship, said the landlady, drawing her inference, were just everything in that neighborhood. Most of the Scotch people who came the way, however poor, had both; and so, while the Irish always remained drudges, and were regarded with great jealousy by the laboring English, the Scotch became overseers and book-keepers, sometimes even partners in lucrative works, and were usually well liked and looked up to. I could fain have taken up my abode at the friendly Scotchwoman’s; but the miners in a neighboring apartment were becoming every moment more noisy; and when they began to strike the table with their fists till the glasses danced and rung, I got up, and, taking leave of my countrywoman, sallied into the street.

After sauntering about the town for half an hour, I found in one of the lanes a small temperance coffee-house, with an air of quiet sobriety about it that at once recommended it to my favor. Finding that most of the customers of the place went into the kitchen to luxuriate over their coffee in front of the fire, I too went into the kitchen, and took my seat on a long wooden settle, with tall upright back and arms, that stretched along the side of the apartment, on the clean red tiles. The English are by much a franker people than the Scotch, — less curious to know who the stranger may be who addresses them, and more ready to tell what they themselves are, and what they are doing and thinking; and I soon found I could get as much conversation as I wished. The landlady’s youngest son, a smart little fellow in his ninth year, was, I discovered, a stem teetotaller. He had been shortly before at a temperance meeting, and had been set up to make a speech, in which he had acquitted himself to the admiration of all. He had been a teetotaller for about nine years, he said, and his father was a teetotaller too, and his mother, and brother and sisters, were all teetotallers; and he knew men, he added, who, before taking the pledge, had worn ragged clothes, and shoes without soles, who, on becoming teetotallers, had improved into gentlemen. He was now engaged in making a second speech, which was, however, like a good many other second speeches produced in such circumstances, very much an echo of the first; and every one who dropped in this evening, whether to visit the landlady and her daughters, or to drink coffee, was sure to question little Samuel regarding the progress of his speech. To some of the querists Samuel replied with great deference and respect; to some with no deference or respect at all. Condition or appearance seemed to exert as little influence over the mind of the magnanimous speech-maker as over that of the eccentric clergyman in Mr. Fitzadam’s, who paid to robust health the honor so usually paid to rank and title, and looked down as contemptuously on a broken constitution as most other people do on dilapidated means. But Samuel had quite a different standard of excellence from that of the eccentric clergyman. He had, I found, no respect save for pledged teetotalism; and no words to bestow on drinkers of strong drink, however moderate in their potations. All mankind consisted, with Samuel, of but two classes, — drunkards and teetotallers. Two young ladies, daughters of the supervisor of the district, came in, and asked him how he was getting on with his speech; but Samuel deigned them no reply. “You were rude to the young ladies, Samuel,” said his mother when they had quitted the room; “why did you not give them an answer to their question?” — “They drink,” replied the laconic Samuel.— “Drink!” exclaimed his mother, — “Drink! — the young ladies!”—“Yes, drink,” reiterated Samuel; “they have not taken the pledge.”

I found a curious incident which had just occurred in the neighborhood forming the main topic of conversation,—exactly such a story as Crabbe would have chosen for the basis of a descriptive poem. A leaden pipe had been stolen a few evenings before from one of the town churches: it was a long, ponderous piece of metal; and the thieves, instead of carrying, had dragged it along, leaving behind them, as they went, a significant trail on grass and gravel, which had been traced on the morrow by the sexton to the house of an elderly couple, in what, for their condition, were deemed snug circumstances, and who for full thirty years had borne a fair character in the place. There lived with them two grown-up sons, and they also bore fair characters. A brief search, however, revealed part of the missing lead; a still further search laid open a vast mine of purloined movables of every description. Every tile in the back court, every square yard in the garden, every board in the house-floor, covered its stolen article; — kitchen utensils and fire-irons, smiths’ and miners’ tools, sets of weights from the market-place, pieces of hardware goods from the shops, garden railings, sewerage grates, house-spouts, — all sorts of things useful and useless to the purloiners,—some of them missed but yesterday, some of them abstracted years before,—were found heaped up together, in this strange jay’s nest. Two-thirds of the people of Dudley had gone out to mark the progress of discovery; and as the police furrowed the garden, or trenched up the floor, there were few among the numerous spectators who were not able to detect in the mass some piece of their own property. I saw the seventh cart-load brought this evening to the police-office; and every fresh visiter to the coffeehouse carried with him the intelligence of further discoveries. The unhappy old man, who had become so sudden a bankrupt in reputation when no one had doubted his solvency, and the two sons whom he had trained so ill, had been sent off to Gloucester jail the evening before, to abide their trial at the ensuing assizes. I was reminded, by the incident, of an occurrence which took place some time in the last age in a rural district in the far north. A parish smith had lived and died with an unsuspected character, and the population of half the country-side gathered to his funeral. There had been, however, a vast deal of petty pilfering in his time. Plough and harrow irons were continually disappearing from the fields and steadings of the farmers, his nearer neighbors; not a piece of hem-mounting or trace-chain, not a cart-axle or wheel-rim, was secure; but no one had ever thought of implicating the smith. Directly opposite his door there stood a wall of loose, uncemented stones, against which a party of the farmers who had come to the burial were leaning, until the corpse should be brought out. The coffin was already in the passage; the farmers were raising their shoulders from the wail, to take their places beside it; in ten minutes more the smith would have been put under the ground with a fair character; when, io! the frail masonry behind suddenly gave way; the clank of metal was heard to mingle with the dull rumble of the stones; and there, amid the rubbish, palpable as the coffin'on the opposite side of the road, lay, in a scattered heap, the stolen implements so mysteriously abstracted from the farmers. The awestruck men must have buried the poor smith with feelings which bore reference to both worlds, and which a poet such as Wordsworth would perhaps know how to describe.

My landlady’s eldest son, a lad of nineteen, indulged a strong predilection for music, which, shortly prior to the date of my visit, had received some encouragement, in his appointment as organist in one of the town churches. At a considerable expense of patient ingenuity, he had fitted up an old spinet, until it awoke into life, in these latter days of Collards and Broadwoods, the identical instrument it had been a century before, He had succeeded, too, in acquiring no imperfect mastery over it; and so, by a series of chances all very much out of the reach of calculation, I, who till now had never seen but dead spinets, — rickety things of chopped wainscot, lying in waste garrets from the days of the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of genteel families, — was enabled to cultivate acquaintance with the capabilities of a resuscitated spinet, vocal and all alive. It gave me the idea, when at its best, of a box full of Jew’s harps, all twanging away at the full extent of their compass, and to the best of their ability. The spirit of the musician, however, made such amends for the defects of his instrument, that his evening performances, carried on when his labors for the day had closed, were exceedingly popular in the neighborhood: the rude miner paused under the windows to listen; and groups of visitors, mostly young girls, came dropping in every night to enjoy the nice fresh melodies brought out of the old musty spinet. Lovers of the fine arts draw naturally together; and one of the most frequent guests of the coffee-house was an intelligent country artist, with whom I had scraped acquaintance, and had some amusing conversation. With little Samuel the speech-maker I succeeded in forming a friendship of the superlative type; though, strange to relate, it must be to this day a profound mystery to Samuel whether his fidus Achates the Scotchman be a drinker of strong drink or a teetotaller. Alas for even teetotalised human nature, when placed in trying circumstances! Samuel and I had a good many cups of coffee together, and several glasses of — a palatable Dudley beverage, compounded of eggs, milk, arid spicery; and as on these occasions a few well-directed coppers enabled him to drive hard bargains with his mother for his share of the tipple, he was content to convert in my behalf the all-important question of the pledge into a moot-point of np particular concernment. I unfortunately left Dudley ere he had an opportunity presented him of delivering his second speech. But he entertained, he assured me, no fears for the result. It was well known in the place, he said, that he was to speak at the first temperance meeting; there were large expectations formed, so the audience could not be other than very numerous and attentive; and he was quite satisfied he had something worth while to give them. My friend Samuel bore a good deal of healthy precocity about him. It would be, of course, consummately absurd to found aught on a single instance ; but it has been so often remarked that English children of the lively type develop into cleverness earlier than the Scotch, that the observation has, in all likelihood, some foundation in reality. I find, too, from the experiments of Professor Forbes, of Edinburgh, that the English lad in his sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth years, possesses more bodily strength than the Scot of the same years and standing, and that it is not until their nineteenth year that the young men of both countries meet on a footing of equality. And it seems not irrational to infer, that the earlier development of body in the case of the embryo Englishman should be accompanied by a corresponding development of mind also, — that his school exercises should be better than those of the contemporary Scot, and his amateur verses rather more charged with meaning, and more smoothly rounded.

Dudley has its Geological Museum, — small, but very valuable in some departments, and well arranged generally. Its Silurian organisms are by far the finest I ever saw. No sum of money would enable the fossil collector to complete such a set. It contains original specimens of the trilobite family, of which, in other museums, even the British, one finds but the casts. Nor can anything be more beautiful than its groups of delicately relieved crinoidea of all the different Silurian genera, — some of them in scarce less perfect keeping than when they spread out their many-jointed arms in quest of prey amid the ancient seas. It contains, however, none of the vertebral remains furnished by the celebrated bone-bed of the Upper Ludlow rocks, nor any of the ichthyolitic fragments found still lower down; though, of course, one misses them all the more from the completeness of the collection in contemporary organisms; and its group of Old Red Sandstone fossils serves but to contrast the organic poverty of this system in its development in England, with the vast fossil riches which it exhibits in our northern division of the island. The neighboring coal-field I found well represented by a series of plants and ichthyolites; and I had much pleasure in examining, among the latter, one of the best preserved specimens of Mega-lichthys yet found, —a specimen disinterred some years ago from out an ironstone bed near Walsall, known to the miners as the “gubbin iron.” The head is in a remarkably fine state of keeping: the strong enamelled plates, resembling pieces of japanned mail, occupy their original places; they close round the snout as if tightly riveted down, and lie nicely inlaid in patterns of great regularity on the broad forehead; the surface of each is finely punctulated, as if by an exceedingly minute needle; most of them bear, amid the smaller markings, eyeletlike indentations of larger size, ranged in lines, as if they had been half-perforated for ornament by a tin-worker’s punch; and the tout ensemble is that of the head of - some formidable reptile encased in armor of proof: though, from the brightly burnished surface of the plates, the armature resembles rather that of some of the more brilliant insects, than that common to fishes or reptiles. The occipital covering of the crocodile is perhaps more than equally strong, but it lacks the glossy japan, and the tilt-yard cast, if I may so speak, of the many-jointed head-piece of the Megalichtkys. The occipital plates descend no lower than the nape, where they join on to thickly-set ranges of glittering quadrangular scales of considerable size and great thickness, that gradually diminish, and become more angular as they approach the tail. The fins are unluckily not indicated in the specimen. In all fossil fish, of at least the Secondary and Palaeozoic formations, the coloring depends on the character of the deposits in which they have lain entombed. 1 have seen scales and plates of the  in some instances of a sienna yellow, in some of a warm chestnut brown; but the finer specimens are invariably of a glossy black. The Dudley Megalichtkys, and a Megalichtkys in the possession of Dr. John Fleming, which, though greatly less entire, is valuable, from exhibiting the vertebral column of the animal, are both knights in black armor.

This ancient fish was at one time confounded with its contemporary, the Holoptychius Hibberti. A jaw of the latter animal, with its slim ichthyolite teeth bristling around its huge reptile tusks, may be seen figured as that of Megalichtkys, in the singularly interesting Memoir of Dr. Hibbert on the Limestone of Burdie House; and we find single teeth similarly misassigned in some other geological works of credit. But no two ichthyolites in the geologic scale in reality less resemble each other than these two fish of the Coal Measures. The Megalichtkys, from head to tail, was splendent with polished enamel; the Holoptychius was, on the contrary, a dull-coated fish. The Megalichtkys rarely exceeded four feet in length, and commonly fell short of three; the Holoptychius was one of the most gigantic of the ganoids : some individuals, judging from the fragments, must, like the great basking shark of the northern seas, have exceeded thirty feet in length. The scales of the Megalichtkys are smooth, quadrangular, and of great thickness, but rarely exceed an inch, or three quarters of an inch, across; those of the Holoptychius are thin, nearly circular in form, thickly ridged on the upper surface, and vary from an inch to more than five inches in diameter. The head of the Megalichtkys was covered, as has been shown, with brightly-japanned plates ; that of the Holoptychius, with plates thickly fretted on the surface, like pieces of shagreen, only the tubercles are more confluent, and Among the donations to the Dudley Museum, illustrative of the geology of foreign parts, I saw an interesting group of finely-preserved fossil fish from Mount Lebanon, — a very ancient mountain, in its relation to human history, compared with the Castle-hill of Dudley (which, however, begins to loom darkly through the haze of the monkish annalists as early as the year 700, when Dud the Saxon built a stronghold on its summit), but an exceedingly recent hill in its relation to the geologic eras. The geologist, in estimating the respective ages of the two eminences, places the hill with the modem history immensely in advance of the hill with the ancient one. The fish dug out of the sides of Lebanon, some five or six thousand feet over the level of the sea, are all fish of the modem type, with horny scales and bony skeletons; and they cannot belong lie ranged in irregular ridges. It may be mentioned in the passing, that the Holoptychius of the Coal Measures, if there be value in the distinguishing characteristics of Owen, — and great value there certainly is, — was not even generically related to the Holoptychius of the Old Red Sandstone. The reptile teeth of the Old Red Holoptychius are of bone, marked by the true dendrodic character of the genus, and so thickly cancellated towards the base, as to resemble, in the cross section, pieces of open lace-work. The reptile teeth of the Holoptychius Hibberti, on the contrary, are of ivory, presenting towards the point, where the surface is smooth and unfurrowed, the common tubular, radiating character of that substance, and exhibiting towards the base, where the Gothic-like rodding is displayed, a strange intricacy of pattern, that becomes more involved as we cut lower down, till what in the middle section resembles the plaiting of a ruff seen in profile, is found to resemble, immediately over the line where the base rests on the jaw, the labyrinthine complexity of a Runic knot. The scales of the creatures, too, are very dissimilar in their microscopic structure, though both possess in common ridged surfaces, — the only point of resemblance from which their generic identity has been inferred. Even the internal structure of their occipital plates is wholly different. So far'as is yet known, the Coal Measures contain no Holoptychius akin to the dendrodic genus of that name so abundant in the Old Red Sandstone.

In a remoter period, Agassiz tells us, than the times of the Chalk. Fish were an ancient well-established order in these comparatively recent days of the Cretaceous system; whereas their old Placoid predecessors, contemporary with the crusfacea brachipoda of the Hill of Dudley, seem but to have just started into being at the earlier time, as the first-born of their race, and must have been regarded as mere upstart novelties among the old plebeian crustaceans and molluscs they had come to govern. The trilobites of Dudley are some four or five creations deeper in the bygone eternity, if I may so speak, than the cycloids.and ctenoids of Lebanon. I was a good deal struck, shortly before leaving home, by this curious transposition of idea which Geology in such cases is suited to accomplish. I found waiting my inspection, one morning in the house-lobby, a box and basket, both filled with fossils. Those in the basket, which had been kindly sent me by Dr. John Wilson, of Bombay, consisted of ichthyolites and shells from the Holy Land, and fossil wood from the old Egyptian desert; while those in the box, which had been obligingly transmitted me by Dr. James Wilson, of Upper Canada, — a gentleman who, amid the wild backwoods, with none to assist and few to sympathize, has cultivated a close acquaintance with science for its own sake, — had been collected in the modern township of Paken-ham, not far from the banks of the Ottawa. The fossil wood of the old desert—unequivocally dicotyledonous, of the oak or mahogany structure — could not, I found, be older than the Tertiary period: the fish and shells of Palestine, like those of the Dudley Museum, belong apparently to the times of the Chalk; but the organisms of the modern township, that had no name twenty years ago, boasted an incomparably higher antiquity: they consisted of corals, Crustacea, and cephalopoda, from the Lower Silurians.

No one who visits Dudley should omit seeing its castle and castle-hill. The castle, a fine old ruin of the true English type, with moat, court and keep, dungeon and treble gateway, chapel, guard-room and hall, resembles in extent rather a ruinous village than a single building; while the hill on which it stands forms, we find, a picturesquely wooded eminence, seamed with rough, bosky ravines, and bored deep with gloomy chasms, that were excavated centuries ago as limestone quarries. But their lime has been long since exhausted, and the miner now plies his labors unseen, though not unheard, deep amid the bowels of the mountain. The visiter may hear, in recesses the most recluse and solitary, the frequent rumble of his subterraneous thunder, and see the aspen trembling in the calm, under the influence of the earthquake-like tremor communicated to it from beneath.

The old keep, by much the strongest and most ancient portion of the building, rises on the highest part of the eminence, and commands the town below, part of which lies grouped around the hill-foot, almost within pistol-shot of the walls. In the olden time, this fortress occupied the centre of an extensive woodland district, and was known as the “Castle of the Woods.” It had some rather high-handed masters in its day, — among the rest, the stern Leofric, husband of the Lady Godiva, so celebrated in chronicle and song for her ride through Coventry. Even as late as the close of the reign of Elizabeth, a lord of Dudley, at feud with a neighboring proprietor, ancestor of the well-known Lord Lyttleton, issued from the triple gateway, “having,” says a local historian of the time, “one hundred and forty persons with him, weaponed, some with bows and sheffes of arrows, some with forest-bills and stavea, and came to Mr. Lyttleton’s lands at Prestwood and Ash wood; and out of Ashwood he took three hundred and forty-one sheep, and caused some of his company drive them towards Dudley; and therewith not satisfied, he entered also into the enclosed grounds at Prestwood, and there, with great violence, chased fourteen kyne, one bull, and eight fat oxen, and brought them to Dudley Castle, and kept them within the walls of the castle; and part of the said cattle and sheep he did*kill and eat, and part he sent to Coventry, guarded by sixty men strongly armed with bows and arrows, calyvers, and forest-bills, there to be sold.” Somewhat rough doings these, and rather of a Scotch than an English type: they remind one of a Highland creach of the days of Rob Roy. England, however, had a boy born to it twenty years after the event, who put an effectual stop to all such acts of lordly aggression for the future; and the keep of Dudley Castle shows how. Two of its rock-like towers, with their connecting curtain, remain scarce less entire than in the days of Dud or of Leofric; but the other two have disappeared, all save their foundations, and there have been thirty-two-pound shot dug out from among the ruins, that in some sort apologize for their absence. The iron hand of Cromwell fell heavy on the Castle of the Woods, — a hand, of which it may be said, as Barbour says of the gaunt-leted hand of the Bruce, that

“Where it strook with even stroke,
Nothing mocht against it stand

and sheep and cattle have been tolerably safe in the neighborhood ever since. It was a breezy, sunshiny day on which I climbed the hill to the old keep, along a steep paved roadway o’ershaded by wood. In the court behind, — a level space some two or three acres in extent, flanked on the one side by the castle buildings, and on the other by a gray battlemented wall, — I found a company of the embodied pensioners going through their exercises, in their uniforms of red and blue. Most of them — old, gray-headed veterans, with medals dangling at their breasts, and considerably stiffened by years — seemed to perform their work with the leisurely air of men quite aware that it was not of the greatest possible importance. The broken ruins lay around them, rough with the scars of conflict and conflagration; and the old time-worn fortress harmonized well with the old time-worn soldiery.

It must be a dull imagination that a scene so imposing as that presented by the old castle does not set in motion: its gloomy vaults and vast halls, — its huge kitchen and roomy chapel, — its deep fosse and tall rampart, — its strong portcul-lised gateway and battered keep, — are all suggestive of the past, — of many a picturesque group of human creatures, impressed, like the building in which they fed and fought, worshipped and made merry, with the character of a bygone age. The deserted apartments, as one saunters through them, become crowded with life; the gray, cold, evanished centuries assume warmth and color. In Dudley, however, the imagination receives more help in its restorations than in most other ruins in a state of equal dilapidation. The building owes much to a garrulous serving-maid, that followed her mistress, about a hundred and twenty years ago, to one of its high festivals, — a vast deal more, at least, than to all the great lords and ladies that ever shared in its hospitality. The grandmother of that Mrs. Sherwood of whom, I daresay, most of my readers retain some recollection since their good-boy or good-girl days, as a pleasing writer for the young, was a ladies' maid, some time early in the last century, in a family of distinction that used to visit at the castle; and the authoress has embodied in her writings one of her grandmother’s descriptions of its vanished glories, as communicated to her by the old woman many years after. I must give, by way of specimen, a few characteristic snatches of her story, — a story which will scarce fail to recall to the learned in romance the picturesque narratives of Mrs. Ratcliffe’s garrulous housekeepers, or the lengthened anecdotes of the communicative Annette.

“I was delighted,” says the old serving-maid, “when it was told me that I was to accompany my lady and a friend of hers to the castle, in order that I might be at hand to wait on them next morning; for they were to stay at the castle all night. So we set out in the coach, the two ladies being seated in front, and myself with my back to the horses; and it was quite dark when we arrived at the foot of the castle-hill, for it was the dead of winter, and the snow lay on the ground. However, there were lamps fixed upon the trees, all along the private road up to the castle; and there were lights upon the towers, which shone as beacons far and near; for it was a great day at the castle. The horses, though we had four, had hard work to drag us up the snowy path. However, we got up in time; and, passing under the gateway, we found ourselves in the court-yard. But oh, how different did it then show to what it does now, being littered with splendid equipages, and sounding with the rattling of wheels and the voices of coachmen and grooms calling to each other, and blazing with lights from almost every window! and the sound of merry voices, and of harps and viols, issued from every doorway. At length, having drawn up to the steps of the portico, my ladies were handed out by a young gentleman wearing an embroidered waistcoat with deep pockets, and a bag-wig and sword; and I was driven to another door, where I was helped out by a foot-boy, who showed me the way to the housekeeper’s room.” The serving-maid then goes on to describe the interior. She saw on the dark wainscoting hard, stiff paintings, in faded colors, of antiquely-dressed dames, and knights in armor; but the housemaid, she said, could tell her nothing of their history. Some of the rooms were hung with tapestry; some with tarnished paper that looked like cut velvet. The housekeeper was an old, bustling dame, “with a huge bunch of keys hanging to her girdle by a strong chain of steel.” “ There was not a window which was sashed, but all were casemented in stone frames, many of the panes being of colored glass; and there was scarce one chamber on the same level with another, but there was a step to go up or a step to go down to each: the chimney-pieces of carved wood or stone were so high, that I could hardly reach to the mantel-shelves when standing on tiptoe; and instead of grates, such as we have now, there were mostly dogs upon the hearths. The chairs were of such a size, that two of the present sort would stand in the room of one; and the doors, though very thick and substantial, were each an inch or two from the floor, so that the wind whistled all along the passages, rattling and shaking the casements, and often making a sort of wild and mournful melody.”

The great hall which constituted the grand centre of the festivities of this evening now forms one of the most dilapidated portions of the ruin. The front walls have fallen so low that we can barely trace their foundations, and a rank vegetation waves over the floor. I think it is Macculloch who says, that full one-half the ancient strongholds of our Scotch Highlands thrown together into a heap would be found scarce equal in the aggregate to a single English castle of the more magnificent type; and certainly enough remains of the great hall here* broken as it is, to illustrate, and in some degree corroborate the remark, disparaging to the Highlands as it may seem. We can still ascertain that this single roorp ipaeasured seventy-five feet in length by fifty-six feet jp breadth, — a space considerably more than equal in area to most of our north-country fortalices. It was remarkable at one time for containing, says Dr. Plott, an oak table, composed of a single plank, three feet in breadth, that extended from end to end of the apartment. The great hall must have presented a gay scene when seen by the grandmother of Mrs. Sherwood. “Three doors opened into it from the gallery above. At one of these,” says the garrulous old woman, “ all the servant-maids were standing, and I took my place among them. I can hardly tell how to describe this hall to you, unless by saying that the roof was arched or groined, not unlike that of some ancient church which you may have seen; and it had large and lofty windows, painted and carved in the fashion called Gothic. It was illuminated with many candles, in sconces of brass hanging from the ceiling; and every corner of it, wide as it was, was bright as the day. There was a gallery at the further end of it, filled with musicians; and the first and foremost among them was an old harper from Wales, who used, in those days, to travel the country with his harp on his back, ever presenting himself at the doors of the houses whefe feasts and merrymakings might be expected. The dresses of the time were very splendid; the ladies shone with glossy silks and jewels, and the gentlemen with embroidery and gold and silver lace; and I have still before me the figures of that gay and distinguished company, for it consisted of the noble of the land, with their families. It may be fancy; but I do not think I ever in these days see faces so fair as some of those which shone that night in the old castle-hall.” Such were some of the reminiscences of the ancient serving-maid. A few years after the merrymaking which she records, the castle was deserted by the inmates for a more modern building; and in 1750 it was reduced by fire to a blackened group of skeleton walls. A gang of coiners were suspected at the time of harboring among its concealments; and the conflagration is said to have been the work of an incendiary connected with the gang. An unfinished stanza, spelt amiss, and carved rudely on one of the soft sandstone lintels, used to be pointed out as the work of the felon; but, though distinctly legible till within the last few years, it can now be pointed out no longer: —

“Water went round it, to garde it from the Fooe:
The fire shall burn it ”

Can the reader complete the couplet ? If not, he may be perhaps apt to suspect the man who first filled up the gap with sense and rhyme as the original author, and, of course, the incendiary. But though every boy and girl in Dudley has learned to add the missing portion, no one seems to know who the individual was who supplied it first.

“Water went round it, to garde it from the Fooe :
The fire shall burn it, a lay its towers low.”

Some of the dells and caverns of the castle-hill I found exceedingly picturesque. Its limestone is extensively employed in the smelting furnaces as a flux. Every ton of clay ironstone must be mixed up with half a ton of lime, to facilitate the separation of the metal from the argillaceous dross; and so, from the earliest beginnings of the iron-trade, the work of excavation has been going on in the Hill of Dudley. The first smelter who dug up a barrowful of ironstone to make a sword must have come to the hill for half a barrowful of lime, to mix up with the brown mass, ere he committed it to the fire. And so some of the caverns are very vast, and, for caverns of man’s making, very old; and some of the open dells, deserted by the quarrier for centuries, bear amid their precipices trees of large size, and have long since lost every mark of the tool. The recesses of the hill, like those of the Wren’s Nest, are threaded by a subterranean canal, which, in passing under the excavation of an ancient quarry, opens to the light; and so in a thickly-wooded walk, profoundly solitary, when one is least thinking of the possibility of such a thing, one comes full upon a wide and very deep chasm overhung by trees, the bottom of which is occupied by a dark basin, crowded with boats. We may mark the boatmen emerging from out the darkness by one cavern, and reentering it by another. They see the sun, and the sky, and the green trees, far above, but nothing within reach save rough rocks and muddy water; and if they do not think, as they pass, of human life, bounded by the darkness of the two eternities, with no lack of the gloomy and the turbid in closest contact, but with what the heart most desires hung too high for the hand to grasp, it is not because there are no such analogies furnished by the brief passage through, but merely because they have failed to discover them. ,

A little further on there may be found a grand though somewhat sombre cavern, which, had it come direct from the hand of nature, I would have perhaps deemed one of the most remarkable I ever explored. We enter a long narrow dell, wooded atop, like all the others, with an overhanging precipice rising tall on the one side, and the strata sloping off on the other in a continuous plane, like the face of a rampart. Nor is this sloping wall devoid of its characteristic sculpturings. We find it fretted with shells and corals, and well-marked heads and joints of the Calymene, so abundant an organism in these rocks as to be familiarly known as the Dudley trilobite. I scarce know on what principle it should have occurred; but certainly never before, even when considerably less familiar with the wonders of Geology, was I so impressed by the appearance of marine fossils in an inland district, as among these wooded solitudes. Perhaps the peculiarity of their setting, if I may so- speak, by heightening the contrast between their present circumstances and their original habitat, gave increased effect to their appeals to the imagination. The green ocean depths in which they must have lived and died associate strangely in the mind with the forest retreats, a full hundred miles from the sea-shore, in which their remains now lie deposited. Taken with their accompaniments, they serve to remind one of that style of artificial grotto-work in which corals and shells are made to mingle with flowers and mosses. The massy cyathophyllum sticks out of the sides of gray lichened rocks, enclasped by sprigs of ivy, or overhung by twigs of thorn and hazel; deep-sea terebratulse project in bold relief from amid patches of the delicate wood sorel; here a macerated oak-leaf, with all its skeleton fibres open as a iiet, lies glued by the damps beside some still more delicately reticulated festinella; there a tuft of graceful harebells projects over some prostrate orthoceratite; yonder there peeps out from amid a drapery of green liver-wort, like a heraldic helmet from the mantling, the armed head of some mailed trilobite: the deep-sea productions of the most ancient of creations lie grouped, as with an eye to artistic effect, amid the floral productions of our own times. At the further end of this retired dell, so full of interest to the geologist, we see, where the rock closes, two dark openings separated by a rude limestone column. One of these forms a sort of window to the cavern within, so exceedingly lofty in the sill as to be inaccessible to the explorer; through the other we descend along a damp, mouldy path, and reach the twilight bank of a canal, which stretches away into the darkness between two gloomy walls of rock of vast height, connected half-way up, — as flooring-beams connect the walls of a skeleton building, — by a range of what seems rafters of rock. The cavern had once an upper story, — a working separated from the working below by a thin sloping floor; and these stone rafters are remains of the floor, left as a sort of reclining buttresses, to support the walls. They form one of the most picturesque features of the cavern, straddling overhead from side to side, and receding in the more than twilight gloom of the place, each, succeeding rafter dimmer and more dim, in proportion to its distance from the two openings, till the last becomes so indistinctly visible, that if but a cloud pass over the sun, it disappears. A rustic bridge leads across the canal; but we can see only the one end of it, — the other .is lost in the blackness; the walls and floor are green with mould; the dark water seems a sullen river of pitch: we may occasionally mark the surface dimpled by the track of a newt, or a toad pufling itself up, as if it fed on vapor, on the damp earthy edge; but other inhabitants the cavern has none. I bethought me of the wild description of Kirke White: —

“And as she entered the cavern wide,
The moonbeam gleamed pale,
And she saw a snake on the craggy rock, —
It clung by its slimy tail.
Her foot it slipped, and she stood aghast,
For she trod on a bloated toad.”

Solitary as the place usually is, it presented a singularly animated appearance six years ago, when it was visited by the members of the British Association, and converted by Sir Roderick Murchison into a geological lecture-room. He discoursed of rocks and fossils in the bowels of the hill, with the ponderous strata piled high on every side, like courses of Cyclopean masonry, and the stony forms of the dead existing by millions around him.

But, after all, there are no caverns like those of nature’s making: they speak to the imagination in a bolder and freer style than any mere excavation of the quarrier, however huge ; and we find, in consequence, that they have almost always engaged tradition in their behalf. There hangs about them some old legend of spectral shapes seen flitting across the twilight vestibule; or of ancient bearded men, not of this world, standing, porter-like, beside the door; or of somnolent giants reposing moodily in the interior; or of over-bold explorers, who wandered so deep into their recesses that they never again returned to the light of day. I bethought me, when in Sir Roderick’s lecture-room, of one of the favorite haunts of my boyhood, — a solitary cave, ever resounding to the dash of the billows, — and felt its superiority. Hollowed of old by the waves of an unfrequented shore, just above the reach of the existing tide-line, — its gray roof bristling with stalactites, its gray floor knobbed with stalagmite, — full of all manner of fantastic dependencies from the top and sides, — with here little dark openings branching off into the living rock, and there unfinished columns standing out from it, roughened with fretted irregularities, and beaded with dew,—with a dim twilight resting even at noonday within its further recesses, and steeped in an atmosphere of unbreathing silence, rarely broken save by the dash of the wave or the shriek of the sea-fowl, — it is at all times a place where the poetry of deep seclusion may be felt, — the true hermit-feeling, in which self is absorbed and forgotten amid the silent sublimities of nature. The unfrequent visitor scares the seal from the mid-tide rock in the opening, or encounters the startled otter in its headlong retreat to the sea. But it seemed redolent, when I last saw it, of a still higher poetry. Night had well-nigh fallen, though the nearly vanquished daylight still struggled with the darkness. The moon at full rose slowly over the sea,

“All pale and dim, as if from rest
The ghost of the late buried sun
And crept into the skies.”

The level beam fell along a lonely coast, on brown precipice and gray pebbly shore, here throwing into darker shade some wooded recess, there soliciting into prominence some tall cliff whitened by the cormorant. The dark-browed precipice, in which the cavern is hollowed, stood out in doubtful relief; while the cavern itself—bristling gray with icicles, that showed like the tags of a dead dress — seemed tenanted, in the exaggerative gloom, with all manner of suggestive shapes. Here a sheeted uncertainty sat beside the wall, or looked out from one of the darker openings upon the sea; there a broken skeleton seemed grovelling upon the floor. There was a wild luxury in calling to mind, as one gazed from the melancholy interior on the pale wake of the moon, that for miles on either hand there was not a human dwelling, save the deserted hut of a fisherman who perished in a storm. The reader may perhaps remember, that in exactly such a scene does the poet Collins find a home for his sublime personification of Fear.

“Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell,
Or in some hollowed seat,
’Gainst which the big waves beat,
With shuddering, meek, submitted thought,
Hear drowning seamen’s cries in tempests brought?”

I spent the greater part of a week among the fossiliferous deposits of Dudley, and succeeded in procuring a tolerably fair set of fossils, and in cultivating a tolerably competent acquaintance with the appearances which they exhibit in their various states of keeping. It is an important matter to educate the eye. Should there be days of health and the exploration of the Scottish Grauwaeke in store for me, I may find my brief sojourn among the English Silurians of some little advantage. Fossils in our ancient southern deposits are exceedingly rare ; and there is, in consequence, a lack of data by which to ascertain the age of the formations in which they occur, and which they fail sufficiently to mark. The tablets are devoid of inscriptions, save that we here and there find a half-effaced character, or the outline of some sorely worn hieroglyphic. And yet, had the few fossils hitherto discovered been preserved and brought together, their joint testimony might be found to amount to something. The Graptolites of Peebles-shire and Galloway are tolerably well known as identical with English species, — the Graptolithus Ludensis and— which possess, however, a wide range in the more ancient rocks, passing downwards from beds of the Upper Silurian, to deposits that lie deep in what was once termed the Cambrian series. In Peebles-shire, at Wrae-hill, says Mr. Nicol, shells have been detected in a Grauwacke limestone, now unluckily no longer accessible. It is stated by Mr. Maclaren, in his elaborate and singularly satisfactory Treatise on the Geology of Fife and the Lothians, that he succeeded in disinterring two organisms, — a small orthoceratite, and what seemed to he a confused accumulation of the shattered fragments of minute trilobites, — from out of one of the Grauwacke patches which occur among the Pentlands. I have been informed by the late Mr. William Laid law, the trusted friend of Sir Walter Scott, that he once disinterred a large bivalve from amid the Grauwackes of Selkirkshire. The apparent remains of broken tere-bratulas have been found in various localities in the Grauwacke of Galloway, and atrypae and tentaculites in a rather equivocal deposit at Girvan, deemed Silurian. Were the various scattered fragments of the fossiliferous record to be brought carefully together, they might be found sufficiently complete to give one at least a few definite ideas regarding the times which preceded in Scotland the age of the Coccosteus and Pterickthys.

There was a barber in Dudley, who holds a sort of fossil agency between the quarrier and the public, of whom I purchased several fine trilobites, — one of them, at least, in the most perfect state of keeping I have yet seen: the living creature could not have been more complete in every plate and joint of the head and back; but, as in all the other specimens of trilobite known to the geologist, it presents no trace of the abdominal portion. I procured another specimen rolled up in the peculiar ball-form so often figured, with the tail in contact with the head. It seems not unworthy of remark, that the female lobster, when her spawn is ripening in an external patch on her abdomen, affects for its protection the same rolled form. Her dorsal plates curve round from the joint at the carpace, till the tail-flap rests on her breast; and the multitudinous dark-colored eggs, which, having no hard shell of their own to protect them, would be otherwise exposed to every hungry marauder of the deep, are thus covered up by the strong mail with which the animal is herself protected. When we take the fact into account, that in no specimen of trilobite, however well preserved, do we find abdominal plates, and that the balllike form is so exceedingly common, may we not infer that this ancient crustacean was shelled on but the back and head, and that it coiled itself round, to protect a defenceless abdomen, in the manner the female lobster coils itself round to protect its defenceless spawn? In yet another specimen which I purchased from the barber, there is an eye of theAsaphus Caudatus, which presents, in a state of tolerable keeping, its numerous rows of facets. So far as is yet known, the eye which first saw the light on this ancient earth of ours gave access to it through four hundred and fifty distinct spherical lenses. The barber had been in the way of selling Dudley fossils, he told me, for a good many years; and his father had been in the way of selling them for a good many more; but neither he nor his father had ever seen among them any portion of an ichthyolite. The crustaceans, with their many-jointed plates and many-windowed eyes, are, so far as is yet known, the highest organisms of the deposit.


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