Bane and antidote succeed on this route with unfailing regularity, and 밤전 the hamlet of Godstone left behind, the frowning and tremendous ascent of Tilburstow Hill confronts the explorer, who may indeed find a slightly more circuitous and very much less hilly route for the next three miles by taking the left-hand road past Godstone Station, so called perhaps because it is three miles from Godstone and only one and three-quarters from Blindley Heath. This easier way falls into the treadmill route half a mile short of Blindley Heath, which is a modern hamlet arisen on a scene once famous, in Regency days, together with the adjoining Copthorne Common, for prize-fighting contests; notable among them, that famous battle in 1819 between the “Nonpareil” and the “Out-and-Outer,” for whose details[254] the curious reader must be referred to the classic pages of Boxiana.

New Chapel, a hamlet beyond Blindley Heath, is succeeded in four miles by the imposing old town of East Grinstead, a stone-built town of Tudor architecture where assizes were formerly held. Interest is divided between the old “judge’s lodgings,” the noble quadrangular group of almshouses known as “Sackville College,” founded in 1609 by the then Earl of Dorset, and that ancient hostelry, the “Dorset Arms,” over whose doorway there has for some years past appeared a quotation from the present Poet Laureate’s “Fortunatus the Pessimist,” placed there by some landlord more appreciative of the poetry of Mr. Alfred Austin than is commonly the case. It reads—

“There is no office in this needful world,
But dignifies the doer if well done.”
The bearing of this “lies in the application on it,” as Captain Cuttle remarks. Whether it is intended to convey to the stranger that those of the “Dorset Arms” are all little emperors, from the landlord down to “boots,” or whether it be a hint that they do you well in the matter of accommodation, does not appear.
The explorer who elects to stay the night at East Grinstead, and so continue quietly down the road on the morrow, will find the town and neighbourhood delightful, and—what is more to the point for the jaded Londoner—restful as well. Should he, however, desire to push a little more forward, the smaller and still more quiet townlet of Uckfield, some fourteen miles onward,[257] will fit his whim. From half a mile on the other side of East Grinstead we have been in Sussex, and now the scenery grows even bolder and the roads more lonely. At a mile and a half beyond the old assize town, in a hollow of the hills and beside a stream on the skirts of Ashdown Forest, the little settlement of Forest Row—a Bret Harte-ish, Californian-looking place—is gained. A path to the right, however, by the post-office, leads across meadows to something that California does not, but would be only too proud to, possess—the picturesque ruins of an ancient mansion. Brambletye House, which has sheltered no inmate since the close of the seventeenth century, when a Compton, the last of its owners, married a Spanish heiress and left his country for ever, to reside in the land of the Dons, is the subject of many legends and has given a title and a motive to a romance by one of the Smiths, authors of the Rejected Addresses.

The road, leaving Forest Row, makes its winding way up to Wych Cross and the high tableland of Ashdown Forest, and gives some occasion for the use of the cyclist’s muscles. For “forest,” let long, long plantations of oaks and firs, with gorsy and heathery stretches between, be understood, the whole very solitary. The ironstone of the district renders the road-surface hard and excellent for cycling along. This desirable district is left behind at Nutley, which we leave rapidly behind on the down grade, and so come to Maresfield, standing at a parting of the ways. The left-hand road leads to Uckfield’s long, descending street, whose chief feature is that quaint, old-fashioned coaching inn, the "Maid’s[258] Head," with an immensely long old ballroom provided with an odd minstrels’ gallery at one end. Uckfield was once a thriving place, and its handsome seventeenth and eighteenth century mansions along the one street proclaim that it possessed a cultured society of its own, quite distinct from its bucolic population. London on the one side and Brighton on the other, together with the swiftness and cheapness of modern travel, have filched away the social circle of Uckfield, alike with that of many another townlet.Onward to Lewes, the county-town of Sussex, the distance is eight miles; the road beautiful and lonely, with but one village—that of Little Horsted—on the way, until quite close to Lewes itself, when the suburb village of Cliffe is passed. Lewes, with its castle, its memories of the great battle in the long ago, its quaint old churches and quainter old houses, piled up against one another along the steep streets, is a place not to be hurried through or properly seen in an hour. There is plenty to see in Lewes, which is a town of closely huddled together old brick houses, several churches, and[259] a grim old castle keep, under which a railway tunnel is now pierced. There is a monument to that doughty seaman, Sir Nicholas Pelham, who died in 1559, to be seen in St. Michael’s Church. He successfully defended Seaford against the French, and the fact is recorded on his tomb, together with a horrible pun on his name—

“What time the French sought to have sack’t Sea-Foord,
This Pelham did repel ’em back aboord.”
The cautious cyclist does not put on too much pace in these precipitous ways. Rather, being well-advised, and with the promise of exertion to come, in the great wall of the South Downs that rises before him and seems to forbid farther progress in the direction of Brighton, does he halt and refresh awhile.

Only one village stands along the eight miles on to Brighton. Falmer is the name of it, and it is reached half-way from Lewes. Brighton itself is entered from the north-east, past the cavalry barracks and by its least attractive outskirts.
Southend is a place that labours under many disadvantages. In certain circles, to acknowledge an intimate acquaintance with that salubrious and healthful resort is to be suspect of things unutterable in the Bank Holiday there and back for half a crown way; and the name of Southend—the “Sarfend” or “Soufend” of Cockney speech—certainly brings visions to the mind’s eye of crowded excursion trains or steamboats, where the holiday-making concertina is much in evidence, and the mingled odours of shrimps and water-cresses weight the air as heavily as the scent of the roses in the rose-garden of Omar Khayyam. I am self-condemned by these intimate touches, and indeed I know Southend, and know it in holiday-time and out. I have gone down by cycle and have come up with the concertina; have voyaged from the Port of London to the Port of Southend, and listened the while (however unwillingly) to the music of the band on board playing a once popular ditty called “Three pots a shilling,” or some such romantic title, until, overcome with the exertion, the rolling of the waves, or the effect of the beer they had imbibed—or by all three—they ceased, and a holy calm reigned where the strident cornet and the excruciating[261] violins had but a moment before cast an added melancholy upon the sad sea waves.

Southend, however, is a very fine and a very picturesque place, and extraordinarily bracing; even though the sea of “Southend-on-Sea”—as it prefers to be styled—be indeed half composed of the filthy dregs of London. To it we will make our way by road.
It is the chief disability of this nearest of London’s seaside resorts that one must needs traverse the whole of the unlovely East End in order to reach it, and the cyclist who, like another Strafford, takes for his motto the proud word “thorough,” has no enviable journey before him in his effort to wheel all the way from town. From Whitechapel Church lies his way, down the Commercial and East India Dock roads, and on to Canning Town, where, having crossed the huge iron bridge that spans the Lea and certain of the docks, he finds himself in Essex and within eyeshot of such unpoetic landmarks as Plaistow Marsh, the Northern Outfall Sewer, and the distant pot-bellied gasometers of Beckton. Plaistow and East Ham now lie before him, and, passing[262] these, he comes, across the little river Roding, into the old town of Barking, seven miles from Whitechapel Church and on the edge of the country.

There is a mingled agricultural and maritime air about the distant view of Barking that is not a little alluring; and foreground windmills and fields, and distant views of rust-red sails of barges, peering over ancient roofs, ill prepare the exploratory cyclist for the raw newness and meanness that many of its streets display on a closer acquaintance. Enshrined amid all these modern excrescences are the old Market House and the still older Abbey Gatehouse; this last the sole relic of the once rich and powerful Abbey of Barking, whose Abbess in far-off Saxon days owned a seat in the Witenagemote, the Parliament of that age. It is a mouldering old gateway, this of the old Abbesses of Barking, and oddly at variance with its surroundings; as indeed is the Elizabethan Market House, now the Town Hall. New and old at Barking jostle one another very curiously; the curfew bell still ringing, as a sent
Flat fields, chiefly serving the useful purpose of the market-gardener, constitute the scenery immediately next the road on leaving Barking; but beyond them, across the turbid estuary of the Thames, made by the witchery of the sunshine to glitter and sparkle as though its waters were of the purest—beyond them rise in the distance the Kentish hills, where the woods of Bostal look down upon busy Plumstead. One mile from Barking, and the traveller sees, rising before him on the[265] right of the flat road, the dark clustered red brick chimneys of an ancient mansion: a furtive-looking, secretive place, for all its size and the fine Tudor style of its architecture. This is Eastbury House, long since abandoned by its owners as a fitting residence, and now occupied by a market-gardener. It was probably the solitary position of the old house and its peculiarly ominous air—as though it could tell a tale an it would—that originally procured it the reputation of being a meeting-place of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. Certainly no scene-painter could devise anything more likely, by the look of it, to have taken part in some dread conspiracy. The very bricks seem to ooze secrets, and in the low doorways and up the darkling staircases Catesbys and Digbys and Guy Fawkeses might reasonably have hidden—only we know they did nothing of the sort, and that the legends about Eastbury House are all fudge and flapdoodle, invented to take away the character of a poor old mansion with no friends of its own. Still, when, as you explore the place, a terrific hullabaloo is heard in one of the staircase turrets and a something black and explosive comes bounding out of a doorway, the incident has perhaps some little heart-shaking qualities, due directly to those legends. It is only when you discover that something to be a spitting and indignant cat, followed by a fox-terrier, that the incident resolves itself into the commonplace.

At Rainham—whose beauties and points of interest, if they exist at all, only reveal themselves to those who have much time to seek them—we do not call a halt, but pass on to Wennington, similarly circumstanced.[266] Beyond this place, instead of taking the Purfleet road, we bear left, and go uphill to Aveley, along a more secluded way than that by the waterside. Interesting old churches here and at Stifford will repay examination and give an interest that the scenery now begins to lack. For here we are come again to the levels and now find ourselves in a tract of country that still retains its old-time name of “Orsett Fen,” even though the fen itself be gone and long level fields take its place. Orsett village itself partakes of this market-gardening and cabbage-growing character, and is distinctly rural, with crazy, weather-boarded cottages a feature of its street. Here our road turns sharply to the right, and again, at the “Cock Inn,” as sharply to the left along a very straight, flat, and dreary highway, whose forbidding character is, however, mitigated by the lovely views of the Essex hills at Laindon and Horndon-on-the-Hill, on the left hand, forming a green and well-wooded range almost at right angles with our course. We have met those hills before in these pages, and somewhat more intimately, and know, therefore, that the distant view of them from these levels is the better part.
Stanford-le-Hope now comes in view, on the other side of a hollow where a little stream flows to the Thames, two miles away, past the suggestively named village of Mucking. Away across the flats comes the bellowing of the great steamships making for Thames Haven, or passing up to or down from London; and when night has come, the red eye of a lighthouse, screwed to piles set in the fathomless mud, winks solemnly at you from out of the vagueness.
We will pass Vange and Pitsea, on their elevated sites, without comment, the last-named leading on to Hadleigh without any intervening village; for Thundersley, midway between the two, is placed half a mile off the road. Thundersley is a very small and very inoffensive little place, in spite of the terrific dignity given by its name. From the high-placed churchyard of its beautiful but dilapidated little Early English church, the eye ranges over Benfleet and Cauvey Island, and over a worl