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The underground channels continue beneath
cavities. Gossiping Aubrey, a contemporary
of the excellent Evelyn, says that in
his time a great pit, thirty feet deep, and
with running water at the bottom of it, opened
one night near the Mole. Defoe mentions a
party of gentlemen damming up this river, the
water suddenly sinking all away; the
experimenters caught in the dry fields a vast quantity
of fish.

Just above the Mole, which flows like a moat
at the foot of the cliff, rises that scarped rampart
of Box Hill, which is one of the great chalk
waves that spread from Farnham to Folkestone,
and here meet the red sandstone. The chalk
runs out here in a long pier head, four hundred
and forty five feet high, so barren and desolate
in parts of its escarpment where the rain has
swept off in long furrows all the surface earth,
that not even a blue hare bell can fix its roots or
find nourishment; but its south side is covered
thick with bosky groves of box trees, planted, as
some think, by the Romans, but most probably
indigenous. One tradition attributes their
planting to some Earl of Arundel, two or three
centuries ago; but in old deeds, as early as
King John and Henry the Third, "Henry of
Box Hill" and "Adam of Box Hill" are found
mentioned as witnesses. The box tree is fond
of chalk, and grows equally well at Bexley, in
Kent; at Boxwell, on the Cotswolds; and on
the chalk hills near Dunstable. Another proof
that the box is indigenous in this part of
Surrey is that at Betchworth, close by, it is
found in equally wild luxuriance, and at least
twenty feet high. The groves at Box Hill dark
and close, with the long whitish stems bare
below, and no vegetation growing beneath or
around them have an unusual bewitched and
lifeless appece, so different from the
ordinary rich hazel underwood of England, purpled
dark with orchis or lit with primroses.

This close-grained crisp box has always
been valuable for cabinetmakers and wood
engravers. In 1608 fifty pounds' worth of
box trees were cut down here on one sheep walk.
Within a year or two of 1712 three thousand
pounds worth were sold; and in 1795, when
war had reduced the supply of the superior
box wood from the Levant, Sir W. Mildmay
put up the trees (uncut for sixty five years) at
twelve thousand pounds. This cutting it was
agreed should last over twelve years, so that
the hill was never shaved too bare. Over the
brow of the hill the soil suddenly ceases to
grow box, turns purple and gold with gorse and
heather, and is studded with odorous juniper-
trees. Just on the brow of the hill that rises
beyond Dorking, there is a small cottage, and
near it, looking down on the valley, a table for
tea drinkers and resting travellers; under this
table lies Major Labelliere an odd place for a
major? Well, it is; but this was a major of
the marines, who went mad from a disappointment
in love and what eccentricity might not
be expected of a marine crossed in love?
Labelliere was a handsome, fashionable man,
who never quite recovered having been rejected
by a lady in early life, and whose brain
eventually gave way under the strain of that bitter
regret. His old friend the Duke of Devonshire,
pitying his misfortune, allowed him one
hundred pounds a year. His humour was to
revel in rags and dirt till he became a sort of
walking dung hill. His last eccentricity was,on
his deathbed, to leave an expectant friend a
curiously folded, sealed, and promising parcel,
not by any means to be opened till after his
death. It proved, unfortunately, to contain
nothing but a plain memorandum book. By his
own request, the major was buried on the brow
of the hill (perhaps a favourite resting place
of the crazed whilom man of fashion), without
church rites, and with his head downwards; it
being one of the gallant major's favourite
axioms that the world was turned upside-
down, and so at the last day he should come

That little inn, the Hare and Hounds,
nestling at the foot of Box Hill, is specially
dear to the crow, because in 1817 it sheltered
Keats, who here wrote that wild poem of Diana's
love, that begins,

          A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

Here, in the clefts of Box Hill, he found the
scenes he describes:

                                   Under the brow
     Of some steep mossy hill, where ivy dun
     Would hide us up, although spring leaves be none,
     And where rank yew-trees, as we rustle through,
     Will drop their scarlet berry cups of dew.

In the same sunny little inn, beside the river,
Lord Nelson spent several days of retirement
with the siren who beguiled him, before starting
for Trafalgar. Mrs. Barbauld lias left some
pleasant lines on this little caravanserai, and
they end prettily enough:

From the smoke and the din, and the hurry of town,
Let the care-wearied cit to this spot hasten down;
And embosomed in shades hear the lark singing shrill,
In the cottage that stands at the foot of the hill.
            *                 *                    *                *
Here's a health to the cottage, a health to the plains;
Ever blithe be your damsels and constant your swains:
Here may industry, peace, and contentment reign still,
While the Mole softly creeps at the foot of the hill.

   I HEARD a voice by night, that call'd to me,
                                     "Auriel! Auriel!"
   The night was dark, and nothing could I see,
   Yet knew I by the voice that it was she
                                 Whom my soul loves so well,
   That when she calls her follower I must be,
   Whether she call from heaven or from hell.

  Then to the voice I said, "What is thy will?"
   But, for sole response, through the darkness fell
   Nothing but mine own name repeated still,
   For still the voice call'd "Auriel! Auriel!"
   I could not sleep, nor rest upon my bed.
   So I rose up, and, with uncertain tread,
   Out thro' the darkness of the night I pass'd
   On to the heath; and on before me, fast
   Over the heath, that wandering voice did flit:
   Over the heath, listening, I followed it.
   Not fast, indeed, for, at each footstep made,
   Methought I stumbled on a dead man, laid
   Flat, with upslanted face and unshut eye,
   Stonily staring on the midnight sky.