(21) Azora Burcot died in the year thirty two, six years after I left them, but Antonia Fletcher is still living in the same happy situation; and by advising the young women to marry some young men of those mountains, has made an alteration in the community for the better, and encreased the number of her people. The settle∣ment is now like to continue, and they find many ad∣vantages from having men among them. The rising ge∣neration Page 278 thereby acquired, now proves a blessing to the first colony, whom years have rendered much weaker and dependent than when I first saw them. Azora, a little before she died, did intend to get in a recruit of female children for the support of the society: but An∣tonia judged it was much better, to let the young girls of the community get honest youths for their spouses; for, by this means, they can never want young people to assist and comfort them, and to encrease and perpe∣tuate their happy republic. For these reasons, she sent for some young men to several neighbouring villages in Richmondshire, to make several things wanting, and to dig, and work in the gardens, for so much by the year certain; and as they were smitten with the clean, civil girls of Burcot-Hamlet, several marriages soon ensued, and infants were produced before the twelve months had expired. More than half of the twenty women that married, had twins the first year, and all of them had strong, healthy children. The ten extraordinary girls I mentioned, got very good husbands, and as Antonia was particularly kind to them on their marrying, and gave to all the wedded folks great encouragement in profitable gardens and houses, grain and cattle, they and their spouses became rather more dutiful and useful to their mistress and ruler than otherwise, and in grati∣tude, and for the sake of their children, did their best to please Mrs. Fletcher, and encrease the common feli∣city. In this condition I found them on my second ar∣rival at Burcot-Hamlet. They were a flourishing village, and a most happy people. My second visit was fourteen years after the first; and I saw them a third time in the year fifty two. They were then all well, and enjoyed every comfort of life that can proceed from good and useful manners. Mrs. Fletcher, tho' now in years, has Page 279 no sign of age in her constitution, and still leads a most active and pious life. She is a subaltern providence to them, and with the tenderest care, makes it the labour of her every day, to secure and advance the temporal and eternal interest of the people: but their souls is her main care. She performs to them divine service twice every day, as good Azora was wont to do. She reads the best sermons to the aged, and constantly catechises the young ones. She is a blessed woman.
By the way, reader, I must observe to you, that in travelling over that part of Richmondshire, which is called Stanemore, I found several small villages, that are not mentioned in Camden, or the Britannia Antiqua et Nova, or in England's Gazetteer; and tho' not so pretty and happy as Burcot in the northern end of the fells of Westmorland; yet in tolerable condition, and remark∣able on account of several things and people; tho' they live intirely on what their spot affords, and have little communication with their countrymen beyond the mountains that separate the inhabitants of Stanemore from the rest of England. I took notice, in particu∣lar, that altho' those poor remote people had not facul∣ties adapted to large measures of knowledge, nor have ministers to teach them, or churches to pray in; yet they were not alienated from the taste and feelings of humanity, nor strangers to the momentous principles of true christianity. They had the bible, and could read it. They instructed their children in virtue and reli∣gion, and lived themselves as the intelligent subjects of an Almighty Governor; in a firm belief that God will distinguish the virtue and the offence of mankind hereaf∣ter, by suitable tokens of his favour, or displeasure. All this I saw in several villages of Stanemore-mountains. I lived for some time among the poor people: And I Page 280 mention their case here, that you may have the less rea∣son to imagine there is any thing incredible in my ac∣count of the extraordinary state of Burcot-Hamlet.
As to the Stanemore-part of Richmondshire, Camden, and the authors of the other Britannia, and the Tour∣men, etc. never so much as saw this country at a di∣ance, I am very sure. The very little they say of it, is false and ridiculous. Camden places Bows before Greta∣bridge. He says, in this desolate and solitary, this moun∣tainous and vast tract, called Stanemore, there is but one inn in the middle of it for the entertainment of travellers, whereas, in truth, there is no inn at all in what is properly called Stanemore: This inn Camden speaks of, is the Bell I mentioned before, where I break∣fasted with Miss Melmoth; and lies on the left side of a fine turnpike road from Bows to Brugh, in Westmorland, the high-way to Carlisle: but tho' this road is a part of Stanemore, running in a direct line from Gretabridge through Bows to Brugh, 18 miles of delightful ground, both on account of the excellence of the way, and the fine views of mountains and vales on either hand, for 12 miles, from a beautiful ruin of a roman castle at the end of the town yet, this is but the southern beginning Page 281 of Stanemore: That vast tract of mountains, glins, and vallies, forest, rock, and water, the most wonderful land in the world, for 40 miles to the end of the country, if it was possible to go straight on, lies on the right hand of this road, as you ride to Brugh under Stanemore; or, on your left, as you come from Westmorland to Catar∣racton or Catarriek.
Here, by the way, let me tell you, Reader, lives Ralph Hawkwell, who keeps an excellent house, where you may get choice things, after a ride of 22 miles, if you come from Boroughbridge to go the north; or of 15 miles, if from Gretabridge, for the south; provided you have the rem; and if you have not, tho' you were an apostle of a man, Ralph would have very little re∣gard for you. Indeed, every where in the north, Page 282 where the best of things are to be had, I have always found travelling there as expensive as near London. Many I know give a different account: but the reason is, either they never were there; or, they travel in a pilgrim-like manner. You must take care, then, to have money enough, if ever you undertake the north∣ern expedition I have frequently gone upon: and as it is not safe carrying much cash with you, for there are rogues in that part of the world, as well as in this; they rob even on Stanemore-road; and in riding over the great moor that lies between Brugh and Appleby, there is a little ale-house to be seen at a good distance, on the right hand, at the entrance of a wood, at the bottom of a range of vast fells, where high-way-men sometimes resort: I was pursued by two of them, not long ago, and to the excellence of my horse, owed the saving of my purse, and perhaps my life: they were well mounted, but I kept an hundred yards a-head of them for several miles, while, as fast as they could stretch away, they chased me till near the town of Brugh. I was all alone, my fellow having received a mischief, and being obliged to stay a day behind; and the rogues did swear and hoot most horribly, and fired three shots at me; but my horse was as good as ever spanked it along, and I cut him up, and pricked him over the turf, like the wind away:—I say, then, as it is not safe travelling with all the money necessary for such a long journey, the best way is, when cash runs low, to lie by to rest for a week, and put your notes in order, in some town, and by one of the deal∣ers, or manufacturers of the place, draw on your friend, or goldsmith in London, for what you want, and by the return of the post, you will be paid the money where you are. In this manner I did, when I was at Richmond last, in the north-riding of Yorkshire: Being Page 283 in want of money, I asked a gentleman with whom I chanced to dine, how I could supply myself with 20 l. by draft on one in the capital; and he directed me to his neighbour, who let me have what I had occasion for at moderate exchange, as soon as he heard from his friend in London. I might have had any money I named in this way: and so, in other places of trade.
I hope, reader, you will excuse this little digression, because it is meant well; and for the same reason, I imagine you will pardon me for advising you, in the next place, (should the fates ever bring you to Catar∣ractonium, in order to proceed to the northern extremity of our country), to go 4 miles out of your way to see Richmond town, before you set out for Gretabridge, to Joseph Marshall's, the best house of the two inns there. The delightful, romantic situation of Richmond, and the fine curiosities about the town, will afford you an agreeable entertainment for a couple of days; and if you like going at night to a club of very worthy, sensi∣ble men of this town, who are very civil to strangers, you may pass the evening in a very pleasing way; or if you have a taste for dancing, and prefer the conversa∣tion of a fine girl to a pipe and more serious discourse, there is a small polite assembly of as pretty women as ever gladdened the heart of man. My method, while there, was to smoak one night with the club; and the next I devoted to the ladies. We made up ten couple, and had the hemp-dressers one night, which is, you know, if you are a dancing reader, the most difficult, and laborious of all the country dances; and no where have I seen the ground more actively beat, or, in juster measure. Life and truth and charms were in perfec∣tion in those Richmond girls. I was there in 29, 37, and 53, and the sensible club, and bright assembly, Page 284 were still in being; but no more than three did I see, of men or women, in 37, that was there in 29; and in 52, they were all strangers to me. Some were married away; some had removed; and others were translated to the shades of eternity. This was to me a moral lesson. When I looked round the assembly room the last time I was there, and found every glori∣ous girl of my acquaintance was gone, and that years had rendered me almost unfit to join with the ladies then present, in the dancings of the night, a philosophical sadness came powerfully upon my mind, and I could not help sighing in the midst of harmony, and a blaze of charms. This life, I saw was a fleeting scene indeed.
And now, reader, as to Stanemore-country, if it should ever come into your head, to wander over this wild and romantic part of our world, at the hazard of your neck, and the danger of being starved, your route is, when you have passed the turnpike on Stanemore, in your way to Brugh, to turn off to the right, beyond the public-house, and ascend a fine rising valley you will see between two mountains, till you come to the top of the first hills: then proceed, if you can, in the course I have described, and wherever it is in your power, tend to the north east, for that is the way out. This is one way into the heart of Stanemore in Richmond∣shire, and will bring you, by the way, among the dreadful northern fells of Westmorland; a frightful coun∣try, and a fatiguing march.
Another way to the Stanemore Alps, is behind Jack Railton's, the quaker's house at Bows. Hire a guide from him, and his man will bring you as he did me once through a very surprizing way of deep bottoms to a public house at Eggleston, on the border of Rich∣mond-Stanemore. There rest that night, and early the Page 285 next morning, proceed due north, when you can, with another guide, and you will come to mountains upon mountains, rapid rivers, and headlong torrents, that form amazing and tremendous scenes. Or, as this way is neither comfortable, nor very safe, it is a better road to the confines, or beginning of Stanemore, to ride from Gretabridge to Bernard Castle, and from Ber∣nard Castle to Eggleston, about 16 miles, as I judge, for it is not measured, and then set out for the moun∣tains from Eggleston, as before directed.—I have been told there is another way into Stanemore, through Bishop∣rick; but as I am a stranger to it, I can only say what I have heard, that it is worse than the bottoms I went through from the quaker's house. This is enough, reader, to shew you how to get into Stanemore, if you have the curiosity and heart to visit that very wild and wonderful land.Page 277
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