John Hodgson's Life
Marriage — History of Northumberland in ** Beauties of England and Wales*' — Survey of Northumberland— Rev. A. Hedley— More Poetry — Sits for his portrait — Letter of advice — History of Westmorland in " Beauties of England and "Wales" — Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth — Picture of Newcastle.
On the 11th of January, 1810, Mr. Hodgson became a married man ; the object of his choice was Jane Bridget, daughter of Mr. Richard Kell, a stone merchant residing at Heworth Shore, in his parish, and afterwards the affectionate mother of a numerous family, the sharer in her husband's joys and sorrows for thirty five long years, and the very comfort of his life in his long afflictions before he was removed out of the world. The following letter gives intimation of an intention on the part of Hodgson, immediately after his marriage, of which there is no other trace, and which was certainly not carried into execution at that time, or at any later period under that title. The writer is Mr. David Stephenson, an architect of considerable note at that period in Newcastle; the contributor of a plate of miscellaneous antiquities to Brand's History of that town in 1789, and the architect of that fantastic edifice the Church of All Saints.
To The Rev. HODGSON.
“Dear Sir Newcastle, Feb. 9, 1810.
The communication of your intention of favouring the public with an History of the river Tyne and Roman Wall gives me much pleasure, and be assured that any assistance I am able to afford you shall be most cheerfully granted.
I shall, from time to time, forward you such remembrances as may lead to the purest sources of information on your subject ; and I trust I need not add that you are at perfect liberty to introduce my name, when connected with the matter before you. My library contains some books not very common. They are very much at your service, if at all connected with your inquiries. I shall just mention, Grose's England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland — Percy's Reliques — Eitson*s Ancient Songs — ^Hollingshed's Chronicle of Scotland — ^Bentham and other prefaces on ancient architecture, &c. &c. Pray have you seen the Diary of Roger North? It contains some various anecdotes relative to the sports on the Tyne. If in town, favour me with a call. In the meantime forgive all hurry in writing in the middle of our timber customers, and bustle of a counting house. Faithfully yours,
Forgive me introducing my congratulations on your marriage into a P.S. Believe me, you have every wish of mine and my family for your happiness, and Mrs. Stephenson will take the first opportunity of paying her respects to Mrs. Hodgson, to whom, in the meantime, you will have the goodness to tender our kindest compliments.
In the beginning of the same year also there commences in earnest Mr. Hodgson's connection with Messrs. Vernon, Hood, and Sharpe, the proprietors of a book then in course of publication, entitled The Beauties of England and Wales; giving a succinct account of the leading features of each county, its antiquities, natural history, etc. Hodgson, as we have seen above, had made himself known to one of the editors, Mr. Brayley, whilst resident at Sedgefield, and had begged to be employed in compiling the account of the county of Durham, but was too late in making his application. In the present instance he appears to have been recommended by his friend Major Anderson, of Newcastle, as on the 12th of July the publishers inform that gentleman that they “gladly accept Mr. Hodgson's services”; and propose that the account of Northumberland, which they wish him to draw up, should extend to fifteen sheets; promising a remuneration of five guineas per sheet, with an allowance of 20/. for travelling expenses. With these terms Hodgson closed, and made a proposal to write a like account of Westmorland in due time, to which the publishers agreed.
He now commences a personal survey of the county of Northumberland, and for the first time, in all probability, becomes acquainted with its hills and valleys, and other objects of interest, ancient and modern. The following letters to his lately married wife, written during a portion of this survey, must not be withheld from the reader, affording as they do such an artless picture of the mind of their writer. Of such assistance his biographer gladly avails himself. These letters were intended to be seen by one alone, and on that account they are peculiarly valuable for my purpose.
To Mrs. HODGSON.
My Dear Jane, Haltwhistle, 28 Sep. 1810.
“I have been from you since Wednesday, and have only got hither. I have this moment come from church : where I preached to a congregation not over numerous. The church is the most miserably damp and fusty place I was ever in. I intend staying here all night, and going to Hexham to-morrow ; and from thence to proceed up the Reed. I trust I shall not be longer from home than the time I proposed when I set out. On Wednesday night I slept at Chollerford, and on Thursday I was at Simonburn with Dr. Scott,* and examined the station at Chesters, one of the most delightful places you ever saw. I slept with Mr. Clayton at his house there ; and, in the morning, proceeded along the line of the Wall ; and without getting any dinner reached Haltwhistle about six in the evening. I had tea for dinner. I slept at Mr. Hollingsworth’s on the Friday night, and next morning went to Caervoran ; then to Glenwhelt; then to Blenkinsop Castle; and from it I passed over Redpath moor, partly along the Maiden Way, till it reached the South Tyne. I met with it at Fetherstonhaugh Castle. Some places are beautiful, on account of the extensiveness of the prospects they afford : this is sweet and secluded beyond all description. From this charming spot I went by the river's edge to Lambley, where once there was a nunnery, now swept away : but my ride was amply repaid by a sight of a fine dark broad oak ; and such an ash for size, lightness of foliage, and picturesque situation as there is not another in the world. It has ten trunks, each more than I can fathom, and at least eighty feet high, all springing from one main stock. Lambley Chapel is one of the poorest and humblest of Christian temples. When I got here I was divided, whether to return to Haltwhistle as I had proposed, or go on to Kirkhaugh, near Alston. I went on; and arrived at the public-house by Whitlaw Castle, a Roman station, at about seven o'clock, and had just time to see it by a hazy light. * Of Dr. Scott, and what took place at this interview, somewhat will be said hereafter One of the Curates of Sedgefield during Hodgson's short residence there, and one of the gentlemen who had signed his testimonial for Holy Orders. See p. 15, ; I found it a wonderful place, but will tell you all about it afterwards. The landlord was drunk, and a dancing-master at the house; and, had it not been for the great civility of a Mr. Teasdale, brother of Mr. Teasdale of South Shields, I should have been benighted in the drunkenness and confusion of a hedge alehouse. We had tea there, the first thing I had tasted during the day ; but I got three eggs to it and excellent oat- cake and knead-cake of fine white bread, and as good water “as any in the world ” — mind, that phrase you taught me. We crossed the Tyne, which was very low, so low as to be passed in many places dry-shod, in a night which had nothing to light a part of the way but flashes of lightning ; and I slept well at Mr. Teasdale's house, and with a guide came over the moors this morning, through a thick mist, and got here about ten o'clock, after a miserable ride of about twelve miles. Thank God, I have no more such places to visit. Tell Betty I saw her uncle Mr. Albany Fetherstonhaugh, and he spent the evening with me at Barhaugh last night.; I hope you take care of yourself. I have lost my pencil-case, my ivory rule, and two of my new pencils ; and also my gold breast-pin.* I hope I shall not lose myself. ; Remember me kindly to your father and mother. Is Sarah with you yet, and is she well ? I hope she is. Bet must not be told how many fine sights I have seen, and how many charming rides she has missed by not being with me, or I shall never get her into humour again. —
God bless you, dear Jane, from
*These losses are very characteristic of the writer ; he seldom paid a visit to a friend's house without leaving something behind him.
To Mrs. HODGSON. '*
My dear Wife, Hexham, 26th Sep. 1810. ;
As I may not have an opportunity of posting a letter to you again this week, I think it better to tell you not to expect to hear from me by next Sunday again; though I will not neglect to tell you where and how I am as often as I can. I do not know the time I have enjoyed better health than I have done since I came from home. I left Haltwhistle yesterday at four o'clock, afternoon, and slept at Haydon Bridge. I did not get to this place till twelve to-day. The Cathedral is a remarkable edifice. I have been in a sepulchral vault of a very remarkable nature, and which has not been open for some time. * The stool of sanctury here is still perfect, from which, before the time of Henry VllI whocTer had fled to it could not be dragged, whatever great crimes he had been goihr of, under penalty of excommunication, a punishment, at that time, worse than death. Tell Betty I have never had my boots well blacked since I saw her. I hope all things go on properly, and without grumbling in the parish. I have to-day been with Mr. Hedley, minister of Hexham, and have had great civility from him, and much pleasure in his company, and that of a Mr. Buchanan, a very pleasant and wealthy Scotchman, Mr. Hedley has promised to breakfast with me in the morning. Tell your father I breakfasted along with Mr. and Mrs. Hollingsworth at Isaac Waugh's, at Broomhouses, yesterday morning, and that Isaac complains of the mill-stone tnide being very bad. I much wished to have had your father there, as also at Fetherstonhaugh Castle, which is close by Broomhouses. ; The weather has turned unpleasant and unfavourable to my pursuits. The fogginess that prevails hinders the prospect into the country. ** I much wish to hear from you ; but, as it is impossible to say where I shall be at any given time, I am afraid my wishes must not be gratified. How are the cabbages thriving ? Have any new plants been put in ; Give my affectionate remembrances to all the family, and take care of yourself, and be very happy. I am, dear Jane, thine
To Mrs. HODGSON.;
My dear Jane, Whittingham, Sunday morning.;
I got to this place yesterday, but quite fagged. I had not been so much fatigued since I set out. I did not get from Hexham till about 5 o'clock on the Tuesday. That night I slept at Barrasford, in the parish of Chollerton. In the morning I rode to Chipchase Castle, where, though I was gratified by the sight of Col. Reed’s paintings, and, more particularly, with the sight of his pretty daughters, I stayed much too long. At one o'clock that day the Col. sent a servant with me as far as to the Watling-street road. I had a letter of recommendation from the Rev. Hedley of Hexham, to a person who lives on the Roman station at Risingham, but when I got there the solitary gentleman was not at home, and all the information I could pick up about it was from observation. This person, whose name is Thomas Ridley, the station belongs to: there have been two cottages in the interior of the rains: one of them is much out of repair, and the other, apparently a single room, is Mr. Ridley's habitation. He follows no employment except fishing for amusement. I am told he has a brother, who occasionally resides with him, and is a labouring man: a person so oddly situated you may guess to be an oddity. He is said to be a good scholar by the country people, and I apprehend by them supposed to have conununication with ^rseter-naturals.;
I got an uncomfortable dinner at Woodburn, my first entrance in Reed ; and slept at a farmer's house, a respectable young man, named Armourer. ;
Next morning I went to the Roman station, Rochester, and was much gratified. It detained me so long that I got no further than Elsdon on Friday. There is a piece of great antiquity at Elsdon, which I shall be better able to describe to you when I get home ; but, by the way, let me tell you that Elsdon signifies the Den of Ell, a giant, who is traditionally said to have resided and committed his ravages here.
Yesterday morning I travelled six miles over moors from Elsdon to Hallystone. At a place near Hallystone, called Campville, I saw and copied all the fine altars that had been dug up at Rochester from the ruins of the Temple of Minerva, and I also discovered that a Roman way ran between Hallystone and Rochester. ; At Hallystone was formerly a nunnery. There is a very copious spring here, having water sufficient to turn a mill, in which PauHnus baptised in the sixth century many thousands of our Saxon ancestors, the first converts to Christianity in these parts. ;
Harbottle Castle is two miles above Hallystone. Its green mounds and grey walls rise up proudly in the valley, and even yet seem to threaten the traveller no passage to the mountainous districts of the Coquet, without leave. I dined very comfortably here, and rode from Harbottle to Alwinton, where I met with a very clever and sensible old lady sitting at a cottage door, and gleaned much information from her. ;
The difference of soil between this country and the Reedwater is as striking as the difference of feature. The Reed has neither boldness nor fertility : the hills seem to be laid alongside of it asleep, and to suffer all the natural wants of indolence. About Alwinton the hills lift up their green heads and spread out their broad shoulders with all the strength and vigour natural to industry. There are a few farms about Harbottle and High Alwinton in a high state of agriculture, and there could not be a more sweetly sequestered spot than Clennell, if its grounds had more wood upon them: but sheep-farms are fatal to wood. ''
At Biddlestone, under the mountain Lownden, great and success exertion has been employed to rear wood. When I got to Netherton, in the parish of Alwinton, a very thick fog set in, and had I not been told that the road was direct to Whittingham I had not ventured to this place yesterday evening. My upper coat however was good company.
If you could send me a line but it is impossible to say where you should direct it to me; and I must be content to speak and not hear. I am beginning to tire, and wish to be at home, though I find I shall not have seen more than half the county when I reach it. Yours, dear Jane, very affectionately,
J. Hodgson, 30th Sep.
To Mrs. HODGSON.
My Dear Jane, Cornhill, Sunday Evening, 80 Sep. 1810.
Though I wrote to you from Whittingham this morning, I am someway apprehensive that the letter may not reach you ; and, as I am neither fatigued nor busy this evening, I hope I shall not be emploj^d unworthily in dedicating an hour to you.
I set off from Whittingham a little before nine o'clock, with an intention of getting to Wooler, which is twelve miles from Whittingham, by eleven o'clock to church : I did not however reach Wooler before twelve o'clock, and on that account feel quite out of humour with myself for having missed going to church. This will I trust be a solitary instance in my life of spending the Sabbath in an unworthy manner.
When I left Whittingham the same thick fog prevailed which accompanied me thither the evening before. The day did not clear till I left Wooler. My view, however, in my ride, before twelve o'clock was sufficient to show me both the features and fertility of the country through which I passed. In many places there are very few hedges, not even on the sides of the highway, and I confess that inclosure here seems less to be desired by the admirer of the features of the country than in any other place I ever saw. Except here and there, where a rivulet or brook runs amongst the hills, the whole country is a confused but beautiful series of hills, never rising high, but winding in all directions, and appearing one past the corner of another, in undulating forms, as if they were a sea of fields in fine cultivation. Sometimes to a great distance nothing appears on the hills but corn ; at others lai^ tracts are covered with clover or turnips. But amidst all this profusion I cannot think there is much praise due to the husbandman. The land is by nature generous, and, being only lately brought into cultivation, repays the farmer well. I walked from the inn into Wooler at about a quarter past twelve. It is only a small place, about the size of Swalwell I cannot tell how many places of religious worship there are at Wooler, but you cannot go fifty yards in any part of it without hearing either singing or preaching. I counted five different sects. I stopped a moment at the door of one place: it was much crowded: the preacher spoke a language so Scottish it was to me almost unintelligible. The air issuing from the door was so hot and unpleasant as to make me almost sick.
From Wooler to Cornhill the ride is interesting, both to the agriculturist and the historian. I am sure that no country can be in a higher state of cultivation than the whole tract of country from the head of Milfield Plain to the river Tweed. On the Milfield Plain, my dear, there are yet to be seen the camps where the English army lay before the battle of Branxton, or Floddon Field; and, if I remember right, the Scots lost upwards of 500 men here in a skirmish before the battle. As I passed the foot of Floddon hill, it was impossible not to suppose I heard the last words of Marmion *'
Charge, Chester, charge; on, Stanley, on !*'
and after I came in sight of the Tweed, and the dark hill on which Wark Castle formerly stood was gilded by the setting sun, and relieved by the gleaming of the river, it was as difficult not to remember the beginning of that poem '
Day set on Norham’s castled steep,
And Tweeds &ir river, broad and deep.
And Cheviot's mountain lone,
In yellow lustre shone.;
When I got here I was shown into a room where the merchantmen's clerks sit. You may guess I did not much like the idea of being the evening companion of one of these gentlemen ; and, as I could not have a promise of being unmolested in the other parlour, I have taken up my quarters in my lodging room, where I am both unmolested and comfortable. I had not been long here. before I recognised the handiwork of Mary Mills upon the walls of the parlour in fine gilding,
The landlady is a good-looking fat body, very like her brother Charles, especially about the eyes. She is very civil, and seemingly very clever.
I can now in a very little time walk over into Scotland: and if I be spared till morning, and in the good health I am at present, I shall go thither before breakfast. I wish your father had been with me from Wooler to this place; he would have enjoyed the ride.
Amidst the fertility of this country there is one very striking feature of poverty. At Wooler, Etal, and Milfield the cottages are most miserable, especially at the two latter places : they are dirty thatched hovels, the walls built with mud, and small round stones of whin or granite gathered from the fields. I am sure of getting scolded by Betty when I get home ; my boot tops are bad, bad indeed. Have the cabbages been put into the garden yet, and how is the celery taken care of?;
I forgot to tell you one part of the tale about Risingham in my letter this morning. When I sat down at the corner of the station, a fine game cock came close to me, and as I was writing, with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance, looked at me first on one side, then on another, marching about with the ease and assurance of perfect safety. As the people supposed the old man to use an art not very common, I felt a little queerish in this cock’s company, but when I recollected I intended no injury or disrespect to Mr. Ridley, and had a letter of recommendation to him in my pocket, I took courage and continued to write, even though it were Mr. Ridley before me in that form.
If the weather continues fine I hope I shall see all the distant parts of the country before I set my face homewards. In another week I could have perfectly satisfied myself; but I am determined to be back to the parish. I hope John is alive yet ; and if you see him tell him I asked about him. I have never had time to make any sketches, but such as merely to assist my memory in remembering the features of places. My colours have therefore been of no use. I have not come to any more losses, and may now perhaps bring all I have home with me. I shall not, my dear Jane, forget you, nor any part of our good family in my prayers.
Remember me, Thine, dear wife,
Monday morning. — I have just returned from my walk to Coldstream.
The Tweed is a fine clear, broad river, and has much more fresh water in it than the Tyne. I saw two salmon taken at the bridge. Coldstream is only a small town. The kirk, though it is a new building, and has a handsome steeple, has broken windows, and lies open to the street. Large heaps of wood and accumulations of filth lie piled up against its walls. There are two or three goodish houses in it; but the streets are not paved, and many of the houses, though they have been long tenanted, are not finished. The sinks and dunghills in two rows on each side of the streets are very offensive, especially before breakfast. Thick fogs this morning.
In one of the above letters is mentioned, for the first time in these memoirs, the name of the Reverend Anthony Hedley, a gentleman with whom Mr. Hodgson formed, during his survey, an acquaintance, which soon afterwards ripened into a friendship sincere in itself and of long duration. Until the death of Hedley in 1835, there were few events affecting the welfare, or the contrary, of the one, at which the other did not rejoice, Ipr grieve; and in their mutual exultations and sympathies there was every character and proof of the most hearty and affectionate sincerity. As Hodgson has left behind him a pleasing memoir of his friend, whose untimely death he deeply and truly lamented, I enter not into Mr. Hedley's history, except so far as it concerns the subject of these pages; and here I must express my regret that I have before me only one part of the long-continued correspondence which was so faithfully kept up between the two. Hodgson's letters to Hedley, with the exception of one or two only, cannot be found. Hedley's letters to Hodgson have been carefully preserved ; and they are of such a nature as to justify me in bringing a few of them to light in this biography in their order of time. I am writing a memoir of Hodgson and not of Hedley ; and if the letters of the former had been preserved, judging from those of the latter, they would have been very valuable for my purpose. Hedley appears, from his communications, to have been a plain, straightforward, well educated man; with a strong touch of antiquarian feeling about him, and a well marked but gentlemanly leaning in politics to what has been
Vol. iii. pt ii. p. 330, &c. At a later period of his life it appears to have been Hodgson's intention to enlarge this short, but excellent memoir, and publish it in a separate shape. I have before me various papers which seem to be compiled for the purpose. In the Life of his friend, already before the public, Hodgson says, " In Sept. 1810, the writer of this article, desirous of examining the architecture and antiquities of the church of Hexham, had letters of introduction to its incumbent for that purpose. I instantly found his mind responding with my own. My wishes brought from his eyes a gush of gracious expressions
called the liberal side. In his personal appearance and demeanour he was robust, frank, and open-hearted ; just for all the world the kind of man to have been looked up to in his native vale of Reed- water in days of old, as the best planner and leader of a foray, or the best fighter when it became a matter of blows. I well remember the hearty way in which he joined a few of us at Housesteads in 1831, with somewhat to encourage us in our explorations, &r as we were from bodily comforts. His residence was at Chesterholme, a place of his own creation, at the distance of a few miles in the valley below, and his horse mounted the hill with difficulty, so laden was he with his master and the good things which he was bringing to our relief. Antiquaries do not always feed upon old Roman altars and monastic ledgers. Let any one look upon the portrait of that fine, fat, fodgel wight Captain Grose, and he will come to the conclusion that that well fed gentleman lived upon something more congenial to his taste than auld nick-nackets. Dr. Caius the founder of the college in Cambridge which glories in his name, and the author of a learned book on the antiquity of that university, was famous also for his invention of a' sauce for sturgeon.
Mr. Hedley was probably for several years the only one of Hodgson's correspondents to whom he wrote with freedom and ease, not merely on topographical pursuits, to which the former was passionately devoted, but on the ordinary topics of the day. Hedley's first letter, written at the period in Hodgson's life at which I have arrived, is as follows. From this time his communications are numerous, and for any extended memoir of himself they would be of great value to his biographer.
Dear Sir, Hexham, Nov. 19, .1810.
Mr. Greenwood's delay in bringing the book must form my apology for not answering your favour sooner. Your poems I read with infinite pleasure ; and, that I may indulge myself with a second perusal, I must beg leave to detain them a little longer. ; Along with an abstract of the population of the town (for the country part of my parish I shall not be able to survey till spring) I have on the other side given you an abstract of our registers for the last ten years ; but little that is accurate or useful can be deduced from them, as they do not all embrace the same portion of population. The current tradition here respecting the field of the battle of Hexham is, that it was to the south of the Linhills, a farmstead on the southern bank of the DeviVa Water » It is in some histories called the Battle of the Levels y supposed to be a corruption of LinhilU, I shall be very happy to receive a set of the Statistical Queries, and remain, dear Sir, yours very sincerely,
The account of Northumberland for which the above survey was undertaken was published in the Beauties of England and Wales in its due course of time. It consists of not fewer than 243 closely printed octavo pages, and is written with great judgment and spirit. The antiquities of the county, especially those of the Roman period, are touched upon with a masterly pen. A detailed account is given of mines and minerals ; and especially of coal, the staple of the lower districts. In the higher portions of the county the wild scenery, which almost everywhere meets the eye, is described in a tasteful and feeling way ; and, in short, enough is said of each district and place to prove that the author of the contribution was capable of greater things. The book, illustrated by a map and eleven engravings, of which Hodgson was permitted to select the subjects, was afterwards, like those of the other, counties comprised in the work at large, published in a separate shape, and is most unquestionably the best in the series. It must be added that Hodgson's engagement to supply a compendious history of Northumberland for the above publication, and his having publicly solicited information through the newspapers on the subject, led to his forming other acquaintances besides that of Mr. Hedley above mentioned, such as Mr. Spearman of Eachwick, Mr. Ralph Patterson of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Mr. Challoner of Morpeth, and Mr. John Britton, who all of them kindly offered him their assistance and good wishes. To Mr. Britton, who has only now been called away from us, the architectural antiquaries of the kingdom are under great obligations. He was the first to combine and encourage accuracy and elegance in architectural draughtsmen ; and the result was the POETRY. Cathedral Antiquities of England/' and other publications of equal taste and beauty on our domestic architecture. In this same year, 1810, Mr. Hodgson again appears before the world as a poet. A small duodecimo volume of thirty-two pages contains ' The Nativity of Jesus Christ, a poem; a Sonnet to the Moon; and an Ode to his Mother on his twenty-sixth birthday.; This ode has been noticed above, under Lanchester, where it was composed. The sonnet to the moon is subjoined, deserving as it does to be brought forth from the obscurity into which it has fallen. It was composed upon the seashore at Newbiggin in Northumberland.
A Sonnet to the Moon.
O moon, how well I love thy beams,
That all night flow, like silver streams,
O'er banks and waves that thy dominion own !
O, tell me, in thy vales if God be known,
Or if thy people feel the change of clime
Hast thou a spring — a rapt'rous time,
To lift with love their passions high ?
And does a summer lighten in their eye ?
An autumn smite them, and a winter's breath
Their bodies wither with the frost of death ?
Or are they angels, guarding men from ill,
And all thy fruits and flowers of endless bloom ?
Thou wilt not tell me; but thou art lovely still,
O circlet, as the seas and sails thy beams illume !
The poem on the Nativity contains many fine passages, but in sacred poetry how few have succeeded? Indeed it may be doubtful whether it should be attempted, except by a master- hand. The Holy Scriptures themselves are poetry, and why should they be divested of their garb of inspiration and clothed in the verbiage of unskilful rhyme? True devotion is not often benefited by such attempts; not unfrequently a contrary feeling may be excited. Let it not be said however that Mr. Hodgson's is without its merits. The following extract will perhaps prove the contrary. The poet is describing the descent of Peace.
The Angel Peace, that flew from man
When first the reign of Bin began,
On lustrous wing, descending light.
To Hebrew shepherds bent his flight.
At first a meteor dim he seemed,
And then a halo round him gleamed.
Far-distant music, swelling, dying,
Advancing slowly, swiftly flying;
Now winding sweetly round and round
With all the melting charms of sound;
Now high in heaven, and now more near.
Descended on the listening ear.
A pleasure mingled with surprise.
Bewildering, filled the shepherd eyes.
They listened, gazed, and silent stood
Like statues in a rapturous mood.
The circle widens, and the shout
Harmonious louder floats about :
It widens still, and sudden light
In glances plays on psaltries bright;
And, as the harpers nearer come.
The rural band, with terror dumb.
Fall down on earth, and, trembling, hide
Their fiaces from the effulgent tide;
While all the storm of music rolls
Tempestuous o'er their ravished souls.
This little volume was dedicated to Mrs. Isabella Ellison, of Hebburn Hall, with sincere gratitude and respect
Hodgson now sits for his portrait to Nicholson, a Newcastle artist, who afterwards settled in Edinburgh, and became well known. The picture is in a sitting attitude and of the full size, developing much character and, with one or two trifling defects, strongly resembling him, as it is said, at that period. It indicates deep thought, with a tinge of melancholy ; and gives the idea of a person labouring under feeble health, which with Hodgson was unhappily too often the case.
This portrait the painter took with him to Edinburgh, where it hung for a considerable^ time in his studio, and by its character and merit helped him to the name which he afterwards justly acquired.
The following letter, from the pen of Mr. Hodgson, next presents itself in the order of time, which I follow, and I cannot but congratulate myself upon having access to such a document for the purpose upon which I am engaged. It is overflowing with good christian advice and brotherly kindness, and who knows what may have been its happy effects upon the heart and mind of him to whom it was written ! Isaac Hodgson was a younger brother of the subject of our memoir, and was at the time this letter was addressed to him just sixteen years of age, and upon the point of leaving the Tyne, on his first voyage to sea as a sailor- apprentice. The poor youth died soon afterwards, far from home, and upon his death the letter was sent back, by some kind and considerate person, to its writer, as, in all probability the only memorial which his poor brother had left behind him. Its present condition proves that it had been faithfully preserved in the pocket of the boy and read apparently over and over again, till in some of its foldings it has become worn away. The address on the back is also illegible from the daily wear of a sailor's pocket. The boy had perhaps not received much education , and it is therefore written in a large legible hand for his benefit, and it is as plain in its advice and exhortations as words can make it, to suit his comprehension, and by its simplicity and earnestness lead him to follow after that which is good. I know not that I shall have to deal with a more affecting document. "
To ISAAC HODGSON.
My Dear Brother, Heworth Shore, Feb. 23, 1811.
You would receive the letter I sent by Mr. Peacock ; and, as I find Mr. Akenhead purposing to visit the ship, I cannot refrain firom again shewing to you that I do not forget you. Indeed, dear brother, your situation occupies a great deal of my thoughts ; for, when I reflect upon your youth, and how much easier it is to get into a wrong conduct than to do right, I frequently lament that I cannot at times be with you, to guard you from many of the idle folies which persons of your years are apt to fall into, and against many of the vices which too frequently make the character of sailors very absurd and guilty; which otherwise is certainly highly respectable. You must, in this, however, understand me, that I am not charging you with the follies I mention, but only pointing out to you that they are such as young people in all places are apt to run into, more particularly persons in your situation. Let me then, in the first place, caution you against idleness, as the Mem. — To get Mr. Cooper Walker's Sermons, and to write him a visitation sermon for Appleby."
Mr. Cooper was the perpetual curate of Swindale,an(l the gentleman to whom he addressed certain poems in 1806, above mentioned. The sermon was duly written, and the preacher was doubtless highly complimented after dinner for his services. A request to print his discourse in all probability followed. "
To Mm. HODGSON. *^ Mt dear Jane, Temple Sowerby, 2 Bfay, 1811. 7 o*clock morning. " We left Carr Hill very soon after twelve o'clock on the Monday. Before we were down Gateshead FeU the rain again commenced, and we had less or more of it till we arrived at Healy Field; where we found an excellent fire in the kitchen, and got dry coats and stockings. Mr- Arkless, of Tantovy, conducted us through the mist past Pontoppike ; and when we got into the vale of the Derwent it was pretty clear. At half-past four we found it a fine morning, and were again on our march at five. At Stewart Shield Meadows we had a fillip of rum and milk, and, with a guide, set off towards Rookhope, a dale in Weardale. At eleven on Tuesday we got to St. John's in Weardale, and there made an excellent breakfast, but in council assembled with the land- lady we determined to halt there all day. At six on Wednesday morning, with our landlord for a guide, we set off for Grass-hills, a shooting-box of Lord Darlington, three miles from St. John's, and thought it the most dreary road by far of our journey. At Grass-hills we .were told it was ten miles to the top of Dunfell, which gives us the first prospect into Westmorland. AU was now thick dark mist. We procure a guide, and had not advanced a mile before the mist began to break ; and directly over the confluence of Troutbeck with the Tees, where the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland, and Durham join, we saw a very fine rainbow. The mist, however, still hung on the heights of the mountains. At Troutbeck I, as purser, paid the guide ; and over these dreary heights we began to march with the brook of Troutbeck for our conductor. We lost not an inch. The compass was of great use, as the wind changed twice before we reached the height, which we obtained exactly at eleven. In a miner's shop we had our beef and bread and some excellent rum and water — rum made in Jamaica by Mr. A. nine years since. We were much gratified here by an immense metallic dike, which is nothing but one mighty mass of iron cinders. We got to Temple Sowerby at two. The spring here is three weeks more forward than with you. Mrs. Atkinson has apricots against a common stone wall as large as pigeon eggs, and the foliage of the trees is nearly in perfection, except on the oaks and ashes. We are very happy here, and perfectly well. Mrs. Atkinson, although 78 years old, is up every morning at six o'clock, a practice that she and her children have always pursued, as recommended as the very best preservative of health. Never, she says, let any person, on any consideration whatever, take a second sleep. We intend to take this day's rest, merely to saunter about the neighbourhood; and to-morrow to go to Ulswater; on Saturday to Ambleside, and there to halt the Sunday. On Monday to go to Keswick, and on Tuesday I go to my sister's. Be assured, dear Jane, I am completely well. We have now done break- fast, and it is not yet eight o'clock. There had been no rain here yesterday: the roads after we descended Dunfell, for we crossed farther south than Crossfell, were quite dusty : and, after experiencing the cold east winds and the thick fogs of the eastern sides of the mountains, we were greatly cheered with the benevolence of a mild south-west wind. This night much rain has fallen, but Mrs. A. says the day will be favourable. We are just going to see some fine pictures at Acornbank, and a Roman station near Kirby Thore; and thence to fish down Eden. " Make my dearest respects to father and mother and Bessy and Abby ; and do, my dear, take much care of yourself. I trust Hilly [Hilda, his daughter] goes on well, and that she begins to be amused with her bells. You will, I hope, be going to the sea on Monday, and that W™. Jameson will call and give you some money — or that you will, if he does not come, send to him for some. The duty, we hope, will proceed well. CoUinson does not now intend to be at home before Tuesday or Wednesday. With great affection, believe me thine, dear Jane, " J. Hodgson. "
Direct to me at the King's Arms, Shap, Westm^." « To Mas. HODGSON. " Mr DEAR Jane, Kendal, 10th of May, 1811. "I promised to write to you very frequently, and I trust you will think I have hitherto realized my promise. After eleven o'clock last Sunday, till yesterday morning, we had very severe weather — a cold east wind, accompanied with frequent showers, and covering the mountains with snow, having blown all that time. On Tuesday morning, as I informed you of my intention, I went to Shap, in the mail coach. After my arrival there I dined, and then walked to Swindale, with expectation of meeting with Cooper; and, after waiting till six o'clock, and not having the satisfaction of seeing his face, I walked back to my sister's, and stayed with her all night. I found herself and husband, and also my two brothers, very well. After breakfast I again went in quest of Cooper, and was fortunate enough to find him. While he was employed in the morning with teaching his few pupils, I sketched his chapel and school. We dined at one, and at three set out for Shap, where we both slept, and I had the satisfaction of receiving your very welcome letter. Right glad, my dear Jane, was I to receive all the gratify- ing information you sent me — your own and the dear child's health — the health and good wishes of the family, and that the lodgings at Down Hill are likely to answer your purpose. When I tell you that I have seen the Western shores of England to-day covered with luxuriant herbage and fine trees, you will scarce credit me when you look about the naked cliffs of Marsden : but Marsden has its beauties — a rough sea, which I shall not see here. *' On Thursday morning Cooper breakfasted with me, and then left me. I walked out and examined part of the great granite monument, and called upon Mr. Holme the vicar. At twelve I took the mail to Kendal- After dining I spent the afternoon in viewing the ruins of the castle, at the museum, and the stationer's shop. The castle is a very singular building, seated on a hill somewhat like to an egg cut in two length- wise. It has a very deep ditch around it, but is all built of a very coarse unhewn stone: the walls are very massive. Some of the round towers and a part of the keep and its dungeon are pretty entire. It is on the opposite side of the river to Kendal, and from the town has a very fine appearance, especially in the evening. Alderman Pennington has been very civil to me, and has given me many pamphlets relative to the town ; has shown me the church, the hospitals, and schools of industry. Kendal is a well-managed town. Everything seems upon a system in it, and, while the magistrates are industrious in defending the system, the people are afraid of breaking through it. I have bought at a manufactory three pair of knit stockings, which I find very cool and pleasant. After seeing these things, I took a coach to Milnthorpe; and there for a guide had a barber, not a spruce or intelligent gentleman, though talkative enough. Perhaps there is not a finer country in the world than the neighbourhood of Milnhorpe : ships of about thirty-six tons, lighters from Liverpool, bring merchants' goods hither for Kendal. The day has however been miserably wet. After I had seen all about here which the barber could shew me, I set out for Kendal again. In my way, near a village called Heversham, where there is a fine church, I was overtaken by a very heavy shower, but found shelter from it. The sun, as the shower passed by, broke out, and certainly never was scene more enchanting than that I viewed as I passed by Levens Park. The hawthorn was just beginning to shew his crimson, the crab trees, almost as large as the beech trees in Park Lane, were a full sheet of blossom, and the apple orchards gave out a perfume rich as the perfumes of Arabia. But I had not walked more than two miles before I was again in a shower, which, as a man on the road called it, was " like whole water." It continued till I got to Kendal, and well drenched I was ; but the rain was perfectly warm. I had instantly dry clothes, and my landlady and landlord are mighty civil. I am quite comfortable after dinner, and shall now be very soon in bed. As I have however got a slight sprain in my left leg I think I shall continue here till after Sunday, well knowing that any long walk will be hurtful to it. I have got a bottle of opodeldoc to apply to it, and do not fear but it will be well by Sunday evening. On Monday morning I purpose going in the coach to Kirby Lonsdale, and after that I will write again. Thine, dear Jane, " J. Hodgson." Hodgson's account of Westmorland is written with the same care and zeal as that of Northumberland. It extenda to 245 closely-printed pages in octavo, exclusive of a copious index, and gives further proof of the decided turn his mind was now taking to topographical inquiries and investigations. The county of Westmorland could most assuredly have had no better history on such a scale, and since its publication it has had no other history at all. I have repeatedly heard its author say that the only money he ever made by his pen was from these two surveys. From his account, they put into his pocket not less than 200Z. In his other topographical attempts he was tolled on, like many others, by public promises and allurements, and left a loser in the end. The completion of this volume terminated his connection with the editors' of the *^ Beauties of England and Wales.*' The work, when finished, was comprised in twenty-five volumes, and cost its proprietors a sum amounting to above fifty thousand pounds* In process of time Messrs. Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, who had become possessed of the work, wisely published a few copies of the history of each county in a separate volume, for the use of those who were unwilling or unable to purchase the whole work, and even at the present day many of our English counties have no other history. The year 1812 was an eventful one in Hodgson's life. In the beginning of the year, the list of his friends was increased by the name of Mr. Ellis of Otterburn, the correspondent of Sir Walter Scott on subjects of border history. Hodgson was at that time engaged in putting a finishing; hand to his Northumber- land for the ** Beauties of England and Wales," and the information afforded by Mr. Ellis in a kind and judicious way was probably for that purpose. The next friendship which he formed was one of which any man might have been proud, and one which any man gifted, as he was, with simplicity of character, in union with a moderate share of good sense and judgment, and a spirit of manly independence might have been sure to gain. The author has said much in another place of Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth ; and he will only add here that, as time rolls on, and the year in which that gentle- man was removed to another world is gradually becoming more and more distant and indistinct in the shade of obscurity, his recollections of such a man become yearly more vivid and lively, serving as a comfort in declining health, and a bright object to look back upon amid younger men with other pursuits and feelings. Mr, Surtees thus writes, in reply, as it seems, to an oflPer of assistance in his History of Durham, on the first volume of which he was now busily engaged. Mr. Surtees unfortunately preserved few letters. " To THE Rev. JOHN HODGSON. « Sir, Mainsforth, April 29, 1812. ^ I feel myself much indebted to you for your kind communication, and shall be happy in any opportunity of your personal acquaintance, not only on account of the valuable assistance you promise me, but from * From the general introduction to the book. MB. SUBTEES OF MAINSFOBTH. 85 the great pleasure I have derived from your poems. I visited Lan- Chester for the first time last autumn, with your volume in my hand, and shall be glad to consider the antiquities of Jarrow under your direction. My knowledge of Roman antiquities is very trifling, and I have had few opportunities of visiting stations, Binchester being the only one with which I am at all familiar. It seems not improbable that something of a Roman road has crossed the Tees near High Dinsdale, and proceeded by Stainton-in-the-Street, through some route which 1 cannot ascertain, to joinWatling-street. We have perhaps more traces of the Danes and Saxons. The former may, I fancy, have had some sort of encampment in this neighbourhood: a hill on my estate has been seized on by Cade and others as a camp, but no reliques were ever discovered. The situation may have been very strong in the midst of a morass. Betwixt Mainsforth and Ferryhill the road is evidently forced across the morass, and the old records of the Convent (of Dur- ham) caH that portion of marsh land ** stagnum nostrum de Ferryhill;'* and swan-oats are regularly paid by the adjacent properties to the lessee of the old swan-house on the borders of the morass. The village of Bradbury is, in an old record, called Danesbury. Of inroads from the coast we have several traces ; and a few years ago a very singular discovery took place at Stranton. The ground near a blacksmith's shop became polished by continual attrition, and in a dry summer discovered the strange appearance of a multitude of human sculls, promiscuously thrown together, like vestiges of some bloody execution, which I think they doubtless were : other human bones were discovered, but not in proportion : no great search was made. " I generally pass some weeks during the summer near Sunderland, and shall then hope to have the satisfaction of visiting you at Jarrow ; but if you would be kind enough to favour me with an interview here, I shall be glad to talk more at large on these and similar topics. After th^ present week I shall be pretty constantly at home for a fortnight op three weeks; but purpose being in York to explore the wills of some Durham prelates in May. I will add that I have a small cabinet of medals, which I shall be happy to show you, and that our marsh grounds afford several rare plants. " I have a copy of Hugh Pudsey's charter to the Burgesses of Gates- head, and some other records which I cannot just now lay my hands on. My attention at present is engaged in compiling Easington Ward and some introductory papers for the press. Of Chester Ward I know less than of any other district. [The ''pedigree of EOuon, as entered at Dugdale's Visitation of Northnmberiand in 1666," is here giTen in the letter ] ^^ No doabt tiie above may be moch improred bj a reference to wills and reguten. I hare the descent of Nathaniel Ellison, 8.T.P.y preben- dary of Dorham, &c; bnt hare no regolar ccmtinnationof the chief line from Boberty who I suppose married ... daughter of Sir H. Liddell, aboot 1696. I hare a few other Northumberland pedigrees, of which, if of any use to you, I should be glad to send copies. If I have the pleasure of seeing yon here you will choose for yourself. My papers are so mingled I can scarcely select them at present, or would send you them with this. I hare Idlbnme, Grey, Jennison, He, Bogers, all of Newcastle; Bewick of Close House; all dated 1666. Mr. Spearman of Eachwick has a volume of mine of elder Hodgson, Forster, Fenwick, Witherington, Ogle, Delaval, Satcliff, &c., which I desired him some time ago to send to you, if he thought it would be of any use. I am, with sincere respect, your obedient servant, **». SUKTEES." A few days afterwards Hodgson received the following kind letter from Mr. afterwards Lord Barrington, his ecclesiastical superior whilst master of Sedgefield School. Hodgson had re- quested him to gain for him access to the Castle of Lowther for his account of Westmorland. ** Deab Sib, Sedgefield, May 7th, 1812. ^ I have this day heard from Lord Lonsdale upon the subject of your letter, in which he says, ' I have not the least objection to Mr. Hodgson's applying to Mr. Smirke for any sketches of this house he may wish to have, for the purpose of embellishing his work. I am sorry it is not in my power to supply them.' He goes on to state the shortness of the time, and that he has nothing prepared, but refers you to Bum's History of Westmorland for the account of the family — ^that he has no catalogue of the pictures, many of which are not himg up, and none arranged with any list of reference either to their character or subject. He desires to be understood not as having any unwillingness to supply you with materials, but from the fact of his not haying the means of doing it. " I had flattered myself with some hopes of seeing you here this week, as I had heard from Mr. Surtees that there was a probability of your coming to Mainsforth. I hope that visit is only deferred, and that I shall still have the pleasure of seeing you here. Perhaps you had better PICTURE OF NEWCASTLE. 87 copy the extract I have given jou of Lord Lonsdale^s letter as far as it concerns Mr. Smirke, and send it to him directed to Smirke, Esq., architect, London, and it will be sure to find him. I remain, Dear Sir, most truly yours, << George Barrimoton.*'
In the commencement of the year 1812, or perhaps a while earlier, Hodgson entered into an engagement to prepare for the press a new edition of a Guide to Newcastle, which had been published in 1807 by his friend Mr. David Akenhead, the printer of his poems of '* Woodlands, &c." in that same year. This task he duly performed, but in his edition little of the former publication was retained. Breaking through the common-place fetters in which it would have confined him, he determined to write a Guide of his own, availing himself only here and there of such matters of fact contained in the previous edition as were useful. This book in due time was published with the following title. "
The Picture of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, being a brief historical and descriptive Guide to the principal Buildings, Streets, Public Institutions, Manufactures, Curiosities, &c., within that town and its neighbourhood for twelve miles round; and including an Account of the Roman Wall; and a detailed History of the Coal Trade ; the whole illustrated by a Map of the various coal mines on the rivers Tyne and Wear, a Plan of New- castle, and other engravings. Newcastle-upon-Tyne : printed by and for D. Akenhead and Sons, Sandhill. Sold also by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster Row, London. 1812."
If this little book had not been acknowledged as the work of Mr. Hodgson, the question of its authorship would at once have been settled by the advertisement, which, as it is very characteristically descriptive of the contents of the book, may be here transcribed. It must be repeated that this short preface would of itself have established the paternity of the production, however carefully it might have been concealed.
The first edition of this work appeared in 1807, and was rapidly sold. Since that time nearly the whole of it has been rewritten, by a different hand, and a great variety of new matter added. In its group- ing and general design, the main attention has been paid to simplicity and accuracy. As a Picture, however, it aims at no higher pretensions than of its being an outline—a rapid sketch, upon a small scale, and without local colours.* Newcastle, Gateshead, and the coal trade are placed in the foreground ; the Roman Wall occupies the offskip ; and the towns, villages and country seats in the neighbourhood diminish into aerial perspective, according to their size or importance in history. " The utility of works of this nature is sufficiently proved by their number. Almost every town of consequence has its picture or guide — something to conduct the traveller to places worthy of his attention, and to answer the garrulous and time-beguiling purpose of a living chronicler. '* Encouraging a hope that this little performance will be equal to the pretensions of its title-page, the editor presents it to the reader, in the language, but not with the confidence of the city mouse in the fable — ' Carpe viam, mihi crede, comes.' "
This little book, so far as Newcastle and its neighbourhood are concerned, contains much curious and valuable information on the usual subjects of inquiry, and the manner in which it is written proves it to have been the work of one who could think for himself, and not copy from others. It contains however two subjects of greater local and general interest than the ordinary topics of a guide-book, the Roman Wall and its history, and the history of the Coal Trade ; the former occupying forty, and the latter not fewer than sixty-five, closely-printed pages. On the subject of the Roman Wall and what Hodgson has done for its history I shall have an opportunity of making a few remarks in a subsequent page. His account of the coal trade, when it made its appearance, must have been read with great interest. It is historical, theoretical, and practical, with a few cuts, rude but expressive, in illustration of the subject; and it is probable that in the year 1812, when it was published, it was received with welcome by many to whom the coal trade was a subject of interest or investigation. Frequent references are made in this essay to the geological experiences of its writer in Westmorland and other districts; and we may conjecture that this account and Hodgson's well-grounded * The local colours, if they be colours at all, are the united smokes of pits and manufactories, with not unfrequently a thick dash of denigrated fog from the river. These accompaniments were surely better away. But he probably does not allude to such pigments as these. knowledge on the subject of coal mines led to his being deputed by the coal trade to survey the Dudley coal-field in 1815, an expedition to be mentioned in a subsequent page.
Such was the employment of Hodgson's leisure hours in the spring of 1812, when his sympathies and energies, as a man and a parish priest, were in a moment called forth by one of those sad calamities which were then of but too familiar occurrence in the coal districts of the North. The Picture of Newcastle, which had made considerable progress in the press, was thrown aside, and it was not resumed till autumn, when a place was found in its pages for a brief account of this afflicting visitation.