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around, swept away the waters which burst through the distant hills, and thus gave its geological character to the surrounding country.
“ From these small vales and hills the waters at length get free, and with lessened speed, wind through a tract of rich land. Shaded by oaks and other timber trees, it abounds in sequestered nooks, and quiet deeps, broken by murmuring shallows, formed by the debris of its swollen floods. Here the water lily sits blooming in purity, and the yellow cowslip scents the meadows. Here the flyteased kine seek the shades, and love to stand mid-leg in the cool and grateful water.
“But the art of man soon applies the accumulated stream to his uses, and enhances its value a thousand fold. By the aid of locks, a navigable river is formed, and save where the artificial obstruction causes the sweet music of falling waters, the surface appears a succession of unbroken levels, reflecting in quiet repose the surrounding embellishments of tree, shrub, and gently rising hill, thus doubling the many beauties bedecking its flowery course.
“ The valley through which the comparatively small stream of the Medway now flows, was once filled to a great extent by water of much greater volume and speed, as the banks to a considerable distance consist of red clay and loose rounded fragments of stones, hardly converted into pebbles, yet sufficiently water-worn to prove the action of strong currents upon them, and much of this debris is far removed from the reach of the waters in the highest floods of the present era, and there is good reason to believe that the whole of the site of Maidstone was once covered by an inland lake, or formed the boundary of a river far exceeding the present. The brick earth is a fluviatile deposit, and contains minute fresh water shells, very similar to the shells existing in the waters below; but the frequent occurrence of the bones and teeth of animals now extinct in these latitudes, shews how great have been the changes upon the surface of the earth in this immediate neighbourhoodchanges which the ancient waters of the Medway have had great influence in producing.
Written history tells us that salt pans were once used at Maidstone for the collection of salt, by evaporation of the water, and sea monsters are recorded as taken near to the town. The extent of the river appears therefore to have diminished in our own times, yet, great as has been the contraction of its banks, we have no hesitation in affirming the opinion before advanced of the much greater extent of the waters once covering the banks of the present channel.
“At a short distance below Maidstone, the Medway assumes a new dignity; that of tidal influence, with oozy banks, rapid shallows, and reed-covered flats: and it is only for a short space of time that a full river is seen with its waters level, and sometimes overflowing its banks. We now see the solitary heron, wary and shy, one foot immersed in the rippling flood, the other half-drawn up, as eyeing with suspicion the approaching vessel, with a hurried plunge at a luckless fish, the huge-winged bird springs upward and slowly flags its weary flight to distant waters. The pied plover wheels and darts, uttering its wild and piercing cry; and the little restless oxbird pipes its note of alarm, scaring the kingfisher from its solitary perch.
“The waters of the Medway contain the common fresh water fish of the country, and are occasionally visited by the finny tribe from the ocean. Of the former
be enumerated—roach, dace, bleak, gudgeon, perch, pike, tench, bream, trout, carp, eels, chub; and of the latter may be first named, the delicate smelt, the chad-mullett, and queenly salmon. The royal fish, the sturgeon, also is occasionally a visitor, and the porpoise has ventured up as high as Snodland, a few miles only below Maidstone, in
search of prey. In 1845, a small species of whale, the beluga or white whale, was taken above Rochester bridge.
“ The serpentine course of the river is very great, near Snodland; the banks being of silt, the current is constantly wearing away its sides and accumulating a deposit on the opposite shore. As we approach the gorge bounded by the range of chalk hills, the scenery becomes truly fine. A steep escarpment on one side, and a sloping hill on the other, dotted with the juniper bush, and the short turf of the chalk wolds, looking like a carpet of green, save where a chalk pit shows the brilliant white rock, and relieves the water-worn bank of its monotony. Few persons are aware of the lovely scenery of this part of the Medway. Halling, with the ruins of its episcopal palace; Burham church, grey with lichens, and the turret decked with a mantilla of ivy; and soon, towering in the air, are seen the ruins of Rochester castle, mighty in its old age, and telling of its strength when its history of siege and battle is remembered.
“ The brine of the ocean now mingles with the once sparkling waters, which like young life, had issued from its primrose-decked and mossy nook. The man of war now comes upon this shifting scene, and the sea-gull hovers with silent wing over her flitting shadow—a sudden wheel and plunge to the ripple, and the prize is seized ! Then with a quivering spring she shakes the brine-drops from her spreading wing. Wider spreads the bosom of the increased waters, and the receding banks fall back to allow the stream to pass away into, and blend with, the boundless ocean, which receives its tribute with the becoming majesty of that mighty element, which though the powerful agent of change, is in itself
Unchangeable, save to the wild wind's play."
THE LIVING RILL. Our last number concludes with a letter from a child, the same little Barbara whom hitherto we have mentioned as scarcely more than an infant. Her letter, written, of course, at a later period, describes more eloquently than we could do, the joyful progress of her earlier years, in which she had no other society, but a kind, though ignorant widowed nurse, excepting one, by most persons accounted a fool, and scarcely by any suspected to have been endowed with a wisdom, which exceeds that which human cunning by its greatest intellectual efforts ever devised. For. has not the prophet said “The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men, shall be hid?"
Jocelyn, as we have said, was by many accounted a fool; and in all present things, valued by men, he was so : but he was wise in the best sense of that term, for Horace had given him his own little bible and made him promise to read a portion of it every day, and this he had not only done, but had prevailed on nurse to have his little Barbara taught to read it, and the village school mistress had been hired to come for an hour each day for this purpose; but whenever any one asked him a question, by way perchance of gauging the depth of his understanding, his constant peroration of “Horace told me” cut the process short, before it came to any thing farther of a conversation.
And yet, in what passage of our Living Rill do we find that any channel carried on the sparkling waters, with less disturbance than that in which its bed was by most accounted incapable of preserving the poorest stream which ever flowed from human ingenuity ?
But thus was Jocelyn made able to do, and having fulfilled the part appointed him, in conveying the Living Rill to a certain point, was permitted to deliver it uncontaminated, and all pure and sparkling and fresh as it had come to himself through the ministry of his friend, to his dearest little Barbara, the only human being with whom he had held real communion of mind and heart since Horace's death.
Before the actual death of Jocelyn, a somewhat haughty and peremptory letter had been received from Barbara's parents desiring that she should be removed forthwith to an establishment for young ladies, located at that time in a certain square at the west end of the great metropolis, kept by three sisters, Mrs. St. Leger, and the Misses Greatorex.
Mr. Watson, to whom this letter was addressed, did not mention it to Barbara till after the funeral, and the poor little girl was overwhelmed for a time by the information ; but she afterwards said to Mr. Watson, “I ought to be very glad, sir, ought I not ; that my dear, dear uncle never heard anything about this ?"
Were we to enter into anything like a full description of the many parting scenes with the nurse and Cæsar, and the farewells taken by little Barbara of the many places where she had often sat and talked with her beloved uncle, we might fill sheets of paper and be no nearer our end.
We must go on, then, to say that Mr. Watson after having most faithfully promised to take care of nurse and Cæsar, himself took her up to London : was kind to her by the way as the kindest of fathers, and made the journey last two days and a half; to give her more time to recover her spirits, after she had taken the last look at the groves of Barwell.
The old gentleman had tears in his eyes when he bade adieu to the little lady, in the smart vestibule of the establishment; and when the door was closed after him, she could restrain herself no longer, but burst into an agony of tears, notwithstanding the presence of more than one smart servant who was waiting to usher her to the school-room; for it was evening, and there was company in the drawing-room, and the staircase and vestibule were already lighted up.
Poor little Barbara could never give any account of her first introduction into this new life, more distinctly, or even as much so, as a person could relate a dream, everything was so new,
and everything seemed to glare so in the strong light of the lamps, and the staircase was so steep, and the room into which she was introduced, looked so wide and strange with its many forms and tables, and empty too ; for all the scholars were with their master in the drawing-room, and there was only one lady in the room, who jumped up when the servant calling her“Ma'm'selle" introduced Miss Rokeby just arrived.
This lady ran up to her immediately, and whilst she examined her well, said many words to her, not one of which she under