Northumberland Yesterday and To-day eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about Northumberland Yesterday and To-day.

In concluding this chapter on the Roman remains in our county, apropos of the wholesale destruction of the Wall and larger stations which has taken place in the last century or two, I will quote the words of two historians on that subject.  Dr. Thomas Hodgkin says:  “In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Camden, the enthusiastic antiquary, dared not traverse the line of the wall by reason of the gangs of brigands by whom it was infested.  The union of the two countries brought peace, and peace brought prosperity; prosperity, alas! more fatal to the Wall than centuries of Border warfare.  For now the prosperous farmers of Northumberland and Cumberland awoke to the building facilities which lurked in these square green enclosures on their farms, treated them as their best quarries, and robbed them unmercifully of their fine well-hewn stones.  Happily that work of demolition is now in great measure stayed, and at this day we visit the camps for a nobler purpose, to learn all they can teach us as to the past history of our country.”

None, I think, will disagree with these words of the learned Doctor, whether or not they may go as far as Cadwallader J. Bates, who, in concluding his chapter on the Roman Wall, gave it as his opinion that “unless the island is conquered by some civilized nation, there will soon be no traces of the Wall left.  Nay, even the splendid whinstone crags on which it stands will be all quarried away to mend the roads of our urban and rural authorities.”

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CHAPTER VIII.

SOME NORTHUMBRIAN STREAMS.

  “Come, don’t abuse our climate, and revile
  The crowning county of England—­yes, the best.

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  Have you and I, then, raced across its moors. 
  Till horse and boy were well-nigh mad with glee,
  So often, summer and winter, home from school,
  And not found that out?  Take the streams away,
  The country would be sweeter than the South
  Anywhere; give the South our streams, would it
  Be fit to match our Borders?  Flower and crag,
  Burnside and boulder, heather and whin,—­you don’t
  Dream you can match them south of this?  And then,
  If all the unwatered country were as flat
  As the Eton playing-fields, give it back our burns,
  And set them singing through a sad South world,
  And try to make them dismal as its fens—­
  They won’t be!  Bright and tawny, full of fun
  And storm and sunlight, taking change and chance
  With laugh on laugh of triumph—­why, you know
  How they plunge, pause, chafe, chide across the rocks,
  And chuckle along the rapids, till they breathe
  And rest and pant and build some bright deep bath
  For happy boys to dive in, and swim up. 
  And match the water’s laughter.”

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Northumberland Yesterday and To-day from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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