Alone and desolate, within hearing of the thunder of the waters of the
Read alsoKing Solomon's Mines
Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, a sense of its shortcomings both in style and contents, weighs very heavily upon me. As regards the latter, I can only say that it does not pretend to be a full account of everything we did and saw. There are many things connected with our journey into Kukuanaland that I should…
North Sea, but not upon them, stand the ruins of Ramborough Abbey.
Once there was a city at their feet, now the city has gone; nothing is
left of its greatness save the stone skeleton of the fabric of the
Abbey above and the skeletons of the men who built it mouldering in
the earth below. To the east, across a waste of uncultivated heath,
lies the wide ocean; and, following the trend of the coast northward,
the eye falls upon the red roofs of the fishing village of Bradmouth.
When Ramborough was a town, this village was a great port; but the
sea, advancing remorselessly, has choked its harbour and swallowed up
the ancient borough which to-day lies beneath the waters.
With that of Ramborough the glory of Bradmouth is departed, and of its
priory and churches there remains but one lovely and dilapidated fane,
the largest perhaps in the east of England – that of Yarmouth alone
excepted – and, as many think, the most beautiful. At the back of
Bradmouth church, which, standing upon a knoll at some distance from
the cliff, has escaped the fate of the city that once nestled beneath
it, stretch rich marsh meadows, ribbed with raised lines of roadway.
But these do not make up all the landscape, for between Bradmouth and
the ruins of Ramborough, following the indentations of the sea coast
and set back in a fold or depression of the ground, lie a chain of
small and melancholy meres, whose brackish waters, devoid of sparkle
even on the brightest day, are surrounded by coarse and worthless
grass land, the haunt of the shore-shooter, and a favourite
feeding-place of curlews, gulls, coots and other wild-fowl. Beyond
these meres the ground rises rapidly, and is clothed in gorse and
bracken, interspersed with patches of heather, till it culminates in
the crest of a bank that marks doubtless the boundary of some primeval
fiord or lake, where, standing in a ragged line, are groups of
wind-torn Scotch fir trees, surrounding a grey and solitary house
known as Moor Farm.
The dwellers in these parts – that is, those of them who are alive to
such matters – think that there are few more beautiful spots than this
slope of barren land pitted with sullen meres and bordered by the sea.
Indeed, it has attractions in every season: even in winter, when the
snow lies in drifts upon the dead fern, and the frost-browned gorse
shivers in the east wind leaping on it from the ocean. It is always
beautiful, and yet there is truth in the old doggerel verse that is
written in a quaint Elizabethan hand upon the fly-lead of one of the
Bradmouth parish registers –