A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.

Wilt thou not open up a pathway through the valley of his humiliation by which his children may ascend to the better conditions of society?

CHAPTER XIV.

NOTTINGHAM AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS—­NEWSTEAD ABBEY—­MANSFIELD—­TALK IN A BLACKSMITH’S SHOP—­CHESTERFIELD, CHATSWORTH AND HADDON HALL—­ ARISTOCRATIC CIVILISATION, PRESENT AND PAST.

From the Belvoir Vale I continued my walk to Nottingham the following day; crossing a grand old bridge over the Trent.  Take it all in all, this may be called perhaps the most English town in England; stirring, plucky and radical; full of industrial intellect and vigor.  Its chief businesses involve and exercise thought; and thought educed into one direction and activity, runs naturally into others.  The whole population, under these influences, has become peopled to a remarkable status and strength of opinion, sentiment and action.  They prefix that large and generous quality to their best doings and institutions, and have their Peoples’ College, Peoples’ Park, etc.  The Peoples’ Charter had its stronghold here, and all radical reforms are sure to find sympathy and support among the People of Nottingham.  I should think no equal population in the kingdom would sing “Britons never, never will be slaves,” with more spirit, or, perhaps, with more understanding.  Their plucky, English natures became terribly stirred up in the exciting time of the Reform Bill, and they burned down the magnificent palace-castle of the old Duke of Newcastle, crowning the mountainous rock which terminates on the west the elevated ridge on which the town is built.  When the Bill was carried, and the People had cooled down to their normal condition of mind, they were obliged to pay for this evening’s illumination of their wrath pretty dearly.  The Duke mulcted the town and county to the tune of 21,000 pounds, or full $100,000.  The castle was no Chepstow structure, rough and rude for war, but more like the ornate and castellated palace at Heidelberg, and it was almost as high above the Trent as the latter is above the Neckar.  The view the site commands is truly magnificent, embracing the Trent Valley, and an extensive vista beyond it.  It was really the great lion of the town, and the People, having paid the 21,000 pounds for dismounting it, because it roared in the wrong direction on the Reform Bill, expected, of course, that His Grace the Duke would set it up again on the old pedestal, with its mane and tail and general aspect much improved.  But they counted without their host.  “Is it not lawful to do what I will with my own,” was the substance of his reply; and there stands the blackened, crumbling ruin to this day, as a silent but grim reproach to the People for letting their angry passions rise to such destructive excitement on political questions.

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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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