The Squire of Sandal-Side by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr


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Page 2

The Protestant spirit which Gilpin raised among these English Northmen
was exceptionally intense; and here George Fox found ready the strong
mystical element necessary for his doctrines. For these men had long
worshipped "in temples not made with hands." In the solemn "high places"
they had learned to interpret the voices of winds and waters; and among
the stupendous crags, more like clouds at sunset than fragments of solid
land, they had seen and heard wonderful things. All over this country,
from Kendal to old Ulverston, Fox was known and loved; and from
Swarthmoor Hall, a manor-house not very far from Seat-Sandal, he took
his wife.

After this the Stuarts came marching through the dales, but the
followers of Wyckliffe and Fox had little sympathy with the Stuarts. In
the rebellion of 1715, their own lord, the Earl of Derwentwater, was
beheaded for aiding the unfortunate family; and the hills and waters
around are sad with the memories of his lady's heroic efforts and
sufferings. So, when Prince Charles came again, in 1745, they were moved
neither by his beauty nor his romantic daring: they would take no part
at all in his brilliant blunder.

It was for his stanch loyalty on this occasion, that the Christopher
Sandal of that day was put among the men whom King George determined to
honor. A baronetcy was offered him, which he declined; for he had a

the rest of his ancestral wraiths, if he merged their ancient name in
that of Baron of Torver. The sentiment was one the German King of
England could understand and respect; and Sandal received, in place of a
costly title, the lucrative office of High Sheriff of Cumberland, and a
good share besides of the forfeited lands of the rebel houses of
Huddleston and Millom.

Then he took his place among the great county families of England. He
passed over his own hills, and went up to London, and did homage for the
king's grace to him. And that strange journey awakened in the mountain
lord some old spirit of adventure and curiosity. He came home by the
ocean, and perceived that he had only half lived before. He sent his
sons to Oxford; he made them travel; he was delighted when the youngest
two took to the sea as naturally as the eider-ducks fledged in a
sea-sand nest.

Good fortune did not spoil the old, cautious family. It went "cannily"
forward, and knew how "to take occasion by the hand," and how to choose
its friends. Towards the close of the eighteenth century, an opportune
loan again set the doors of the House of Lords open to the Sandals; but
the head of the family was even less inclined to enter it than his
grandfather had been.

"Nay, then," was his answer, "t' Sandals are too old a family to hide
their heads in a coronet. Happen, I am a bit opinion-tied, but it's over
late to loosen knots made centuries ago; and I don't want to loosen
them, neither."

So it will be perceived, that, though the Sandals moved, they moved
slowly. A little change went a great way with them. The men were all
conservative in politics, the women intensely so in all domestic
traditions. They made their own sweet waters and unguents and pomades,
long after the nearest chemist supplied a far better and cheaper
article. Their spinning-wheels hummed by the kitchen-fire, and their
shuttles glided deftly in the weaving-room, many a year after Manchester
cottons were cheap and plentiful. But they were pleasant, kindly women,
who did wonderful needlework, and made all kinds of dainty dishes and
cordials and sirups. They were famous florists and gardeners, and the
very neatest of housewives. They visited the poor and sick, and never
went empty-handed. They were hearty Churchwomen. They loved God, and
were truly pious, and were hardly aware of it; for those were not days
of much inquiry. People did their duty and were happy, and did not
reason as to "why" they did it, nor try to ascertain if there were a
legitimate cause for the effect.

But about the beginning of this century, a different day began to dawn
over Sandal-Side. The young heir came to his own, and signalized the
event by marrying the rich Miss Lowther of Whitehaven. She had been
finely educated. She had lived in large cities, and been to court. She
dressed elegantly; she had a piano and much grand furniture brought over
the hills to Sandal; and she filled the old house during the summer with
lords and ladies, and poets and artists, who flitted about the idyllic
little village, like gay butterflies in a lovely garden.

The husband and children of such a woman were not likely to stand still.
Sandal, encouraged by her political influence, went into Parliament. Her
children did fairly well; for though one boy was wild, and cost them a
deal of money, and another went away in a passion one morning, and never
came back, the heir was a good son, and the two girls made splendid
marriages. On the whole, she could feel that she had done well to her
generation. Even after she had been long dead, the old women in the
village talked of her beauty and spirit, of the tight hand she kept over
every one and every thing pertaining to Sandal. Of all the mistresses
of the old "seat," this Mistress Charlotte was the most prominent and
the best remembered.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 12:56