A Part Of The Old Wall, Chester

A Part Of The Old Wall, Chester.

King Charles Tower

King Charles Tower.

Old Chester Houses

Old Chester Houses.

Watergate Row, Chester

Watergate Row, Chester.

I never saw more curious architecture, even in the oldest towns of Germany, than that of some of Chester's streets. A score of times I said, regretfully, "Why did not Dickens give to these odd passageways some of his inimitable descriptions?" He, of all writers, would have fairly reveled here. Thus, some of the houses have to lean against their neighbors for support, as if too weak to stand alone, or out of breath from their long race with Time. Their very foundations seem to have shrunk away, like the limbs of a paralytic, and look as if they might collapse at any moment and let the superstructure fall.

Still more extraordinary than these, however, are Chester's covered sidewalks. Their sombre hue and well-worn steps attest their great antiquity, and it is interesting to learn that they are supposed to follow exactly the lines of the original Roman thoroughfares. They are called "Rows," but certainly not because of any perfume here of Jacqueminots. By any name they would smell no more sweetly; for musty odors haunt these low-browed corridors, and damp, unsavory smells creep out from the old planks and flagstones never gilded by the sun. Yet in these shadowy arcades are many handsome shops, above which frequently dwell the tradesmen's families. One of the houses surmo u n ting these sidewalks has a more juvenile appearance than its neighbors, since it was reconstructed thirty years ago. Upon the sill, however, just above the corridor, I read the ancient inscription: "God's Providence is my inheritance." Is it possible that these words betray the owner's disappointment on coming into possession of this residence ? Apparently he had more faith in Providence than in the value of the premises. I fancy that his sentiments must have been, "God only knows what I am going to realize from this property." A friend of mine, who had invested heavily in Western farm mortgages here turned his face to the wall and wiped away a tear. It is claimed, however, that this inscription denotes the owner's gratitude to Providence for having spared his dwelling during the ravages of the plague in Chester two hundred years ago.

The Reconstructed House

The " Reconstructed " House.

Roman Wall In England

Roman Wall In England.

Chester is not the only place in England that has Roman relics. In many portions of the island we come upon walls that once surrounded Roman camps. It is indeed a curious fact that almost all the traces of the Caesars in Great Britain are military in their character. The Roman occupation was not long enough to allow great cities, aqueducts, and amphitheatres to be built here, as in Gaul and Spain. The legionaries of the Empire did, however, construct a wall twelve feet in height and eight in thick-ness which stretched across the north of England, from the Atlantic to the North Sea, to protect England from the barbarous tribes of Scotland.

Grosvenor Bridge, Near Chester

Grosvenor Bridge, Near Chester.

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral.

To appreciate the magnitude of this achievement, it should be remembered that it was a rampart seventy-five miles long, with a deep, broad ditch before it; and that this barricade was garrisoned by Roman cohorts, lodged in forts a mile apart from one another, between which, nevertheless, were numerous watch-towers; while at every four miles was a military station covering several acres.

Traveling on from Chester into the open country, I soon began to realize how full of interest English landscapes always are. In England attractive objects crowd on one another. There can be no monotony. The theatre is too small. There is no room to spare. Both men and things are stowed away compactly. The traveler's attention is, therefore, kept continually alert. The panoramic stage of England never waits. One travels here as he assists at a continuous performance, with the stupendous climax, London, at the end.