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you know, this is a sheep county, and at Wool you wool the sheep, and at Wareham you wear 'em."
There was a story he used to tell of his driving on a cold winter's day into Dorchester,
ten miles distant from his home at Bingham's Melcombe, with the object of seeing a certain Mr. Davis on some pressing business, when the servant who answered his knock bluntly announced, to his dismay, that Mr. Davis was “not at home." "How provoking!" said the Canon; "I have driven ten miles in the snow on purpose to see him.” “Oh!" said the maid, “if it's very pressing, I will go up and ask Mr. Davis when he will be at home."
"Wool" and "Wareham" are both stations on the South Western Railway, which enters the county near Wimborne, and runs by a singularly tortuous route to Dorchester and on to Weymouth. A local story, which gives emphasis to the sinuosity of the railway in these parts, relates 'how an engine-driver new to this portion of the line pulled up his train one dark night in the neighborhood of Broadstone as he saw a danger signal ahead. After waiting some time and whistling in vain, he set out on foot to see what the signal was, and then discovered it to be the danger lamp on the rear van of his own train.
A former vicar of Toller Porcorum, a small parish in West Dorset, was wont to relate how, failing one Sunday to bring home to the minds of his Sunday-school girls what they should understand by a "guardian angel," he asked them if they knew Mr. Shepherd-that being the name of the locally well-known railway-guard of the line that runs through Toller. Receiying an emphatic assent to this inquiry, and thinking the next step sured, he said, “And what does Mr. Shepherd do?" The unexpected and somewhat personal reply was. “Please,
sir, he do see that you don't travel without a ticket."
An enterprising Dorset curate, who was beating up subscriptions for his parish school, appealed to a somewhat wealthy member of his congregation, who was generally known to be unduly retentive of his money, for help, and, meeting with a blank refusal, asked him to contribute just sixpence. The reluctant contributor handed him sixpence, and, no doubt, thought the matter had pleasantly ended. About a month later the curate met him in the street, and, pulling out a parish report, said, "Oh! I thought you would like to see I have put down your sixpence all right amongst the donations.” The sixpenny subscriber waxed very indig. nant, and said the curate had no rigbt to publish it; but the curate stuck to it that he was in duty bound to do so. Thereupon the abashed contributor surrendered at discretion, and, handing over half a sovereign, begged the curate, in the softest manner, to insert ten shillings in front of the sixpence before he distributed the report, which he accordingly did.
Not very long ago, a gentleman of the name of Aldridge Devenish was the popular Mayor of Weymouth. Some new public buildings had been completed during his mayoralty, and at a council meeting held to make preparations for the ceremony of opening them, a town councillor indignantly asked “why the Mayor was to be favored by 'having his initials A. D. carved in large letters before the date of the year.”
Dorset, as is well known, is a great country for hunting, and every squire and many a yeoman ride to hounds. Or the Dorset squire it has been wittily said that he begins life with twelve horses and one child, and ends it with twelve children and one horse. A saying which contains at least a modicum of truth. A story, showing true devo
tion to sport, is told of Press, the fine whip of the Blackmore Vale. One day he asked the M.F.H. for a day off, and inquiry being made as to why he wanted it, the reply was, that he was going to get married. The M.F.H. very naturally suggested that Press should take two or three days at least. But this he did not want at all; and when he was asked how he proposed to spend the one day he was proposing to set apart for his wedding the answer was that he intended "to take the missus out for a drive with the sick hounds."
Sherborne lies in the Blackmore Vale, and from Sherborne to Shaftesbury is a distance of a little more than fifteen miles. A. ,battery of artillery had to march from Sherborne to Salisbury a short while since, and, according to the regulations, the commanding officer might make use of the railway, if the distance to be traversed was more than fifteen miles. Inquiry showed that the distance was less, as the milestones only marked fourteen miles, so the battery went by road. The officer in command, being still in some doubt as to the true distance, took note of each milestone, and discovered that two of the milestones bore identical inscriptions, so that whereas the true distance was over fifteen miles, the milestones made it appear to be fourteen miles. As the duplication of two of the milestones had escaped notice for some sixty years, the discovery was provocative of many gibes. The erring Shaftesbury milestone calls to mind the fierce thrust of Daniel O'Connell at the Times, when he said of that journal, that it was "like a misplaced milestone, which can never by any possibility speak the truth."
The barrister brother of a wellknown Dorset squire, for many a long year travelled the Western Circuit with exemplary regularity. Although clever and amusing enough in private life, he either made no efforts to ob
tain briefs, or was singularly unsuccessful in his efforts. The pleasant social life,' the good company and the good stories, seemed sufficient to attract him to the circuit mess without the lure of guineas. At last, however, by some inscrutable fortune, a brief came to him, a brief to defend somewhat notorious prisoner, and it was marked two guineas, the fee being subscribed by some friends of the offender. This piece of good fortune, as others would have thought it, evi. dently sat heavily upon the soul of this most estimable counseller. He did not seem himself at all. It was whispered about that B. had a brief, but did not know what to do with it. A day passed over and the case had not come on, but B. seemed to be more himself. Late in the day the prisoner was put in the dock and called on to plead. To the profound astonishment of the members of the bar, who were all looking out to see how B. would conduct the defence, the prisoner pleaded "guilty." B. muttered a few words in expiation of the culprit, the offender was sentenced, and the Court rose for the day. The secret leaked out a little later, that B., hay. ing been in an agony of mind at the prospect of having to defend the prisoner, had hit upon a brilliant device in order to extricate himself. He had sought an interview with the prisoner, and pointed out to him, that as he would probably be convicted it was far best for him to plead "guilty," so that the evidence might not be gone into, which course would enable him to get a lighter sentence, and to clench the matter had tipped the prisoner half a guinea out of his fee.
Canon Dayman, who for half a century was Rector of Shillingstone, published in early life a metrical and scholarly translation of the "Inferno," and in later years for a long period represented a portion of the diocese in the blissful realm of Convocation. Amusing as well as learned, I remember his telling a story of one of his parishioners, whom he found one cold, wet and windy night, standing shivering under the archway which spans the high road, over which the Somerset and Dorset Railway runs at Shillingstone. Wondering what the man could be doing, standing on a cold wet night in the most draughty place imaginable, the Canon asked him what he did there, and the reply was, “Please, sir, I be going to sing bass next Sunday in the anthem and I be trying to catch a hooze" (wheeze).
The family name of Legg is to be met with in many parishes in Dorset. In a western Dorset village a family of farmers of this name prospered much, and it coming to their knowledge that the name of Legg, spelt with a final “e," bore a more aristocratic appear. ance, they took to spelling it in the same way as the Earl of Dartmouth's family. They were not, however, sat: isfied with improving upon their own use of their patronymic, but carried the matter a stage further, employing the local stone-mason to cut a final “e" upon quite a number of monuments in the churchyard, erected to deceased members of their family. This beatification of their ancestors aroused the resentment of the parishioners, and the result was that hammers and chisels went to work, and the offending “e" was forth with deleted from all the monuments. And there they stand to this day, for any one to see, with a large chip out of the stone after the name of Legg, whenever it occurs.
One of the most attractive of the rural rectors of Dorset, a man upright in all his ways, gentle, devout, winning and beloved by all his village folk, was wont to assist them in many little secular affairs of life, as well as in spiritual matters. An old shepherd who lived in the parish had some little property to dispose of, and he asked
the kindly rector to help him to make his will. The rector duly wrote it out, had it duly witnessed, and for safe custody it was handed to the rector to keep. A few years passed away, and the old shepherd was laid at rest, and his relatives came to the rector for the will. Nowhere could the will be found. Methodical pigeon-holing for future reference was not a strong point with the rector. After the lapse of some months, and still no will forthcoming, the relatives suggested that the rector should apportion the old shepherd's property among them. The rector was still in trouble, for he could not recall the intentions of the testator. But feeling that a responsibility devolved upon him to bring about some solution of the difficulty, he grappled with it as best he could, and apportioned the property to the entire satisfaction of the surviving relatives. Time passed on, and some two years later, in the pocket of his writing desk, he found the lost will, and then to his dismay discovered that his apportionment in no respect complied with the terms of the will. What was to be done? After pondering over the situation for while, he took the belated will and consigned it to the flames of his study fire. The relatives were left in undisturbed harmony, but'the old shepherd's wishes were never carried out. Who can say that the rector's happy ignorance of the penalties of the law was not all for the best, and that in such å case “'twere folly to be wise?"
A familiar figure on market days in the county town of Dorset for many a long year
was William Barnes, the Dorset poor man's poet, quaintly attired in slouch hat, knee-breeches and buckled shoes, with a Scotch plaid wound about him, and a stout staff in his hand. He seemed to prefer the middle of the street to the pavement, and to be thinking of matters which had nothing to do with the scene before
him. Halting at the four cross ways in the centre of the town, he would pull his old-fashioned watch from a deep fob and set it by the town clock. Having completed this first act, he turned about, and methodically proceeded about the other business which brought him on Saturdays into town.
William Barnes sang his songs in his native Doric almost all in the early fifties, much as a bird trills out its ditty, and they soon got fast hold of the people whose dialect they were written in. Grave and gay, they touched all hearts. Before saying something of the humor of William Barnes, let me quote one stanza from “The Voices that be gone."
How mother, when we us'd to stun
How she do wish, wi' useless tears,
children's sayings. A lady told him of a question put to her in the Sundayschool: “Please, ma’am, does God keep His angels in bottles?” “No, my dear, why should He?" "Please, ma'am, because mother keeps her spirits in bottles.” William Barnes at once observed, "A child's reasoning is mostly right, its premises are often wrong from ignorance, but its observation is right as far as it goes." A propos of preserving the sayings of children, I may here relate the observation of a small Dorset boy, made to me at a children's dance, some few years ago. Seeing that he had been dancing the whole evening with one little girl, but that at the moment of speaking to him she had apparently found another partner, I said, "How is it, Reggie, that you are not dancing with Susy this dance?” “Oh!" replied the diminutive lord of creation, “I have lent her to Tom for this dance."
A Dorset doctor of somewhat boastful temperament was dining one day at a big dinner party, when the conversation after dinner turned upon the army as a profession. The doctor remarked that his parents had made a great mistake in not sending him into the army, for which he declared himself eminently fit. “Oh, you make a great mistake," said a Dorset squire across the table; "you would not have killed half as many if you had gone into the army as you have in your own profession."
A great character among the shepherds of Dorset was one "Nat” Seale. A solitary shepherd upon the downs of Dorset, through his long life of fourscore years and ten, he was brimful of native wit. Religious topics were not to his mind. The curate of Fordington, where the old shepherd spent the last few years of his life, tried on many occasions to get "Nat" to talk on religious subjects, but he always turned the conversation. At last, one
Before William Barnes took Orders, and settled down in a country living, he kept a school, and in the early days of the Indian Civil Service examina. tions, one of his pupils, with no tuition other than what he received from Barnes, came out at the top of the list of successful candidates. His master
forthwith deluged with letters from parents offering him their sons as pupils, but, with modesty and humor, William Barnes wrote to decline their offers, saying “it took two to do it."
On the little lawn of the poet's picturesque rectory at Came, there used to crouch two lions in stone. When little children came to visit him, he used to excite their interest and curiosity by telling them that “the lions always roared when they heard the clock strike twelve.” William Barnes was very fond of children and used to wish that people would record more
day, the curate got him so far as to speak to him of Christ, when the old man, turning upon him, said, “Well, He were the Good Shepherd, wer'n't He?" The curate assenting, the old shepherd added, with strong emphasis, "Well, I tell'ee what I believe. I don't believe as one Shepherd will ever round upon another shepherd"-savoring something of the philosophy of Omar the tent maker, “He's a good fellow, and 'twill all be well.” So ended this portion of their conversation, and not another word would the old shepherd say upon the subject.
Another Dorset shepherd, “Rifleman" Harris of Blandford, fought through the Peninsular War, and has left one of the very few records of past campaigns, as seen from the point of view of a soldier in the ranks. The Dorset shepherds were a small race of men, and the Dorset regiment, which in the long war at the beginning of the century was largely recruited from among them, went by the sobriquet of “The Little Shepherds." Rifleman Harris, himself only five feet five inches in height, had an intense dislike for tall men, and makes all his villains over six feet. In the retreat from Vigo, he avers that the tall men were the greatest grumblers, the greatest eaters and the worst fighters, and bore fatigue much worse than the short soldiers.
Dorset soldiers in the ranks have not, however, all been diminutive. Ser. geant Davy of the Guards, who fought through the Crimean War, stood well over six feet in his shoes. I remember his telling me that as they were settling down into a gallop for a terrific charge, the bullets hissing round them, his mate who rode next him shouted out: “This is a damned rum way of earning a living, ain't it, Bill?"
The cenotaph to the great Duke of Wellington, which stands in St. Paul's Cathedral, was the work of a genuine Blandford boy, Alfred Stevens, whose
father was a tradesman in that town, and his mother the daughter of a neighboring farmer. This grand monument, the finest of its kind produced in this century, and equal to the best work of the period of the Italian Renaissance, occupied many years of his life, and although paid for by the State, its creator was ill requited for his labors. Alfred Stevens intended to complete this monument with an equestrian statue of the Duke; but he counted without the Dean and Chapter, who put their veto upon this, on the ground that a horse was a profane animal, which led Punch to ask whether the Dean and Chapter would prefer a donkey.
Our village milkman, some years ago now, rejoiced in the patronymic of Meagher, and the milk he vended only too often corresponded in quality with his name. So much did the village folk resent the poverty of his milk, that in the small hours of one winter's night some of them called him out of bed, telling him to come down without delay, as his best COW was choking. Down hurried old Meagher, to find all right in the dairy, and only a carrot stuck in the nozzle of the pump.
The rector of a parish not far from Weymouth was complaining to one of his women parishioners that she did not bring her children to be baptized. "Please, sir,” she said, "they be all girls and it's no use baptizing they." The rector was puzzled, and then discovered that the good woman thought the main object of baptism was to ensure what she called "lines"-in other words a baptismal certificate needed for boys who want to enter the Navy.
Dorset cheese, locally known as "blue vinny,” enjoys a doubtful reputation. When first made, it is of the color and almost the consistency of the chalk which underlies the Dorset downs. After keeping a while it takes on a pale, blue-veined (vinney'd) appearance, and