Princely, indeed, were his gifts to his native town, as the list of them will show; they embraced either large contributions to, or the entire gift of, Jesmond Dene, the Armstrong Park, the Lecture Theatre of the Literary and Philosophical Society, St. Cuthbert’s Church, the Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Church, the Infirmary, the Deaf and Dumb Institution, the Children’s Hospital, the Elswick Schools, Elswick Mechanics’ Institute, the Convalescent Home at Whitley Bay, the Hancock Museum—to which he and Lady Armstrong contributed a valuable collection of shells, and L11,500 in money—the Armstrong Bridge, the Armstrong College, and the Bishopric Endowment Fund.
From the crowded, bustling scenes of Tyneside to the solitude of the Cheviot Hills is a “far cry,” even farther mentally than in actual tale of miles. Yet the two are linked by the same stream, which begins life as a brawling Cheviot burn, having for its fellows the head waters of the Rede, the Coquet, and the Till, with the scores of little dancing rills that feed them.
Nowhere in this land of swelling hills and grassy fields can one get out of either sight or sound of running water. Every little dip in the hills has its watercourse, every vale its broader stream, and the pleasant sound of their murmurings and sweet babbling fills in the background of every remembrance of days spent upon the green slopes of the Cheviots. You may hear in their tones, if you listen, the shrill chatter and laughter of children, soft cooing voices, and the deeper notes of manhood, and might fancy, did not your sight contradict the fact, that you were close to a goodly company, whose words met your ear, but whose magic language you could not understand.
One little burn of my acquaintance, which runs through field and dell to join the Till, I have hearkened to again and again for hours, unable to break away from the spell of its ever-varying, yet constant music—a sort of wilder, sweeter version of Mendelssohn’s Duetto, with the voices of Knight and Lady alternating and intermingling amidst a rippling current of clear bell-like undertones.
Down from Cheviot itself, the lovely little Colledge Water splashes its way, issuing from the wild ravine called the Henhole, where the cliffs on each side of the rocky gorge rise in some places to a height of more than two hundred feet. Concerning this ravine, there is a legend that a party of hunters, long ages ago, were deer-stalking in Cheviot Forest, when on reaching the Henhole their ears were greeted by the most ravishing music they had ever heard. Allured by the enchanting sounds, they followed the music into the ravine, where they disappeared, and were never again seen.