Book-bot.com - read famous books online for free

The Last of the Barons — Volume 05 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
page 1 of 34 (02%)
TpTp
BOOK V.




CHAPTER I.

RURAL ENGLAND IN THE MIDDLE AGES--NOBLE VISITORS SEEK THE CASTLE OF
MIDDLEHAM.

Autumn had succeeded to summer, winter to autumn, and the spring of
1468 was green in England, when a gallant cavalcade was seen slowly
winding the ascent of a long and gradual hill, towards the decline of
day. Different, indeed, from the aspect which that part of the
country now presents was the landscape that lay around them, bathed in
the smiles of the westering sun. In a valley to the left, a full view
of which the steep road commanded (where now roars the din of trade
through a thousand factories), lay a long, secluded village. The
houses, if so they might be called, were constructed entirely of wood,
and that of the more perishable kind,--willow, sallow, elm, and plum-
tree. Not one could boast a chimney; but the smoke from the single
fire in each, after duly darkening the atmosphere within, sent its
surplusage lazily and fitfully through a circular aperture in the
roof. In fact, there was long in the provinces a prejudice against
chimneys! The smoke was considered good both for house and owner; the
first it was supposed to season, and the last to guard "from rheums,
catarrhs, and poses." [So worthy Hollinshed, Book II. c. 22.--"Then
had we none but reredosses, and our heads did never ache. For as the
smoke, in those days, was supposed to be a sufficient hardening for
the timber of the house, so it was reputed a far better medicine to