Page images


for the differeftce in extent. As to foreign trade, surely no shire but Middlesex will compare with one that has the city of Bristol to boast of ; not to mention the coasting trade in the little ports of Bridgewater and Minhead.

We then entered Wiltshire, the northern part of which is full of pleasant risings, and watered with clear streams. It was once overspread with woods, which are now in a manner quite destroyed. The soil of this part of the country being clay, is consequently troublesome sometimes to travellers ; but here is a great variety of delightful prospects, to make them amends. And my tutor told me, that a good author of their own made this remark of Wiltshire: “ That an ox, left to himself, would, of all

England, chuse to live in the north of this county, a sheep in the south part of it, “ and a man in the middle between both; as partaking of the pleasure of the plain,

l " and the plenty of the deep country.” The soil of the vale is very fruitful, and affords great quantity of as good cheese as any in England; and though that of the hills is in some places chalky, and barren enough, yet its cheapness makes it beneficial to the neighbouring farmers. I have been told on the spot, that on the downs betwixt Sandy-lane and Marlborough, and between the Devizes and Salisbury, hundreds of acres have been rented at a groat an acre per annun. But the numerous flocks of sheep fed there turn much more to the profit of the proprietors. The abundance of wool which these sheep produce, invited the inhabitants to fall very much into the clothing trade ; and the best broad cloths, both white and dyed, in England, are made in the west and north parts of this county, and indeed, in the south and east parts too, but not in such quantities.

Fuel is not very plenty in this county, which has no coal pits, nor indeed much wood: 'Tis productive, however, of all sorts of grain, especially wheat.

From Wiltshire we departed for Hampshire or Hantshire, by some called the county of Southampton. This is the county where I saw, what my tutor had before told me, the tract of land, called New Forest, which was enlarged by William the Conqueror at the destruction of several towns and villages, and 36 parishes, being computed 50 miles in compass; and became remarkable for the death of two of his sons and a grandson, who lost their lives strangely in this forest.

The air of this county is most pure and piercing, especially the downs, of which there is a ridge that runs almost athwart it, and affords plenty of game. The foil is various as to its fertility, the hilly parts being barren, like other downs, and fit only for Theep; but the lower grounds are fruitful in corn and herbage. It produces great quan. tities of all manner of grain, particularly wheat and barley, with which it supplies the flourishing markets of Farnham, Basingstoke, and Reading; and their teams of horses, many of which are fit for the best coach in the kingdom, shew the wealth of the farmer. The arable ground, though very stony, .is fruitful; for the stones lie loose upon the soil : and those who are well skilled in agriculture affirm, that they keep it warm, and that therefore, the taking them away would do more hurt than good. This county is particularly famous for its honey, with which they make most excellent mead and metheglin. Hampshire bacon is allowed by all to be the best in England, the swine being supplied with acorns in plenty, from the New Forest, and other woods, in which they are suffered to run at large : And the delicacy of their flesh is attributed to their not being pent up in styes. Kersey and cloth are made here; and though not in so great plenty as in Wiltshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, yet there is enough made, not only for home consumption, but for a foreign trade. Its sea-coasts furnish oysters, lobsters, and other falt water filh. And indeed, both for profit and pleasure, there is not a more inviting county in Great Britain.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


Adjoining to Hampshire is the inland county of Berks; whose air is generally healthy
and sweet; the soil fertile enough, where 'tis cultivated; and the whole county, which

is one of the most pleasant in England, is well stored with cattle and timber, particularly
oak and beech, in the western parts, and in Windfor Forest ; which also abounds with
wild fowl, and other game; as its rivers Thames and Kennet, the one on the north,
the other on the south side of it, do with filh, especially fine large trout and cray-fish.
It has been observed, that land is dearer here, than in other parts the same distance
from London. The chief manufactures of this county are woollen cloth, fail cloth, and
malt; their being great crops of barley in the west part of the county, particularly the
vale of White-horse, so named from the bare side of a chalky hill representing that
animal, which the inhabitants once a-year, about mid-summer, take some pains in trim-
ming, to keep it to its shape and colour, and then conclude the day with mirth. 'Tis
fuppofed by some, that the ground there was formed into this figure by the Saxons,
who had the White-horse for their arms.

Having regaled ourselves four days with the fowl and delicious filh of Berkshire, we
pafled into Surrey, which I could not find to be remarkable for any particular trade or
manufacture, excepting the corn market at Croydon, and the several branches of trade
carried on in the borough of Southwark : but as that borough is contiguous to Lon-
don, I shall remark their trade together. In general, I observe this to be a healthy,
pleasant county; and therefore it boasts of several royal palaces, and many feats of
ihe nobility and gentry. But the air, as well as the soil, of the middle and extreme
parts is vastly different, the air being mild in the latter, which is very fruitful in corn
and hay, with a fine mixture of woods and fields, especially on the south about Holms-
dale, and on the north towards the Thames; but the air is bleak in the heart of the
county, which, except a delightful spot indeed here and there, is all open fandy ground,
and barren heath: for which reason, the county is not unaptly compared to a coarse
cloth with a fine list or hem. In some places there are long ridges of hills or downs,
with warrens for rabbits and hares, and parks for deer; and its rivers, the chief of
which, besides the Thames, are the Mole, the Wey, and the Wandle, abound with
fish. And the chief commodities of this county, besides its corn, are box-wood, wal-
nuts, and fullers-earth, which last is sold at a groat a bushel at the pits near Ryegate,
and is sent up to London for the use of the woollen manufactures all over England.

N.B.-This earth is prohibited exportation by the same laws, and under the same penalties as wool itself.

Our tour through Surrey was pretty agreeable in regard to the many fine seats which we met with, but I was more pleased to turn off into Sussex, a maritime county upon the English channel; whose downs near the coast are charming, and its vallies, or the Wild of Sussex, as it is commonly called, very plentiful, especially in oats.

The downs are very high green hills, well known to travellers, especially such as deal in wool or sheep; there being great numbers bred - here, whole wool, which is very fine, is too often exported clandestinely to France by farmers and jobbers, who are called owlers. Many parts of the downs being a fat chalky soil, are, on that account, very fruitful, both in corn and grass. The middle part of the county is delightfully chequer'd with meadows, pastures, groves, and corn-fields, that produce wheat and barley. The north quarter is shaded with woods, from which they make abundance of charcoal ; and they supply timber for the navy docks, and fuel for the iron works, there being not only plenty of ore on the east side towards Kent, but many great forges, furnaces, and watermills, for both cast and wrought iron, which, though it is said to be more brittle than the Spanish, yet cannon are cast with it; and the best gunpowder in the world is


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


made in this county. A great deal of its meadow ground is turned into ponds and pools, to drive hammer-mills by the flashes. Here we were regaled with the delicious bird, called the wheat-ear, for which this county is particularly famous.

'Tis no bigger than a lark, and is taken by digging a hole in the ground, into which they put a Înare of horse-hair, and then cover the hole, very near, with the turf, turning the grassy side downwards; this bird being so very timorous, that the shadow even of a cloud frightens them into thefe little cavities

. They are so fat, that, when caught, they cannot be carried many miles without being tainted: and even in plucking them they must be handled as little as possible: and they are fatest when the wheat is ready to be cut down.

I was told, that in winter the roads were so deep in some parts, that they were obliged to draw their coaches with oxen.

We at last arrived in Kent, which is the most eastern county on the English channel, and of which I had retained great notions, from the account my tutor had given of its having been an entire kingdom of itself in the time of the heptarchy; and how the Kentish men obliged William the Conqueror to confirm their ancient privileges. This county stands as it were in a corner, and may properly be divided into three parts, according to the nature of its foil ; viz. the downs, which may be said to have health without wealth; the marshy parts, which have wealth without health ; and the middle, which enjoy both health and wealth. But,

The county, in general, abounds with plantations of hops, fields of corn, pastures, and woods of oak, beech, and chesnuts, and fine orchards of cherries and pippins; and, about Boxley, Foots Cray, North Cray, &c. are many woods of birch, from whence the broom-makers are supplied, who live in Kent Street, Southwark. The cattle here, of all sorts, are reckoned larger than they are in the neighbouring counties; and the Weald of Kent is noted for its large bullocks, as well as for its great timber for shipping. Here are several parks of fallow deer, and warrens of greyifh rabbits. Here are mines of iron, and pits of marle and chalk; woad, and madder, for dyers; wool, flax, faintfoyn; and on the cliffs, between Folkstone and Dover, is plenty of famphire.

From Kent we crossed the water at Greenwich, and arrived at Limehouse, in the county of Middlesex. This is but a sinall county, but pleasant, fruitful, and dignified

, with the city of London, the capital of the nation, and the city of Westminster, which is the seat of the British monarchs. It abounds with rich and pleasant villages; and

may in one word compleat its character, when I declare it to be my opinion, that here are more ingenious men, and more money spent in costly apparel, eating, drink. ing, plays, operas, and other diversions and gaieties of life, than in any other tract of land of the same circumference in the whole world besides.

As to the produce, manufactures, and trade of this county, I am informed, that the whole county almost is cantoned out into corn or pasture, and garden grounds near the city. The manufactures are chiefly confined to the city or suburbs, of which hereafter : But it is amazing to see in the neighbouring fields the immense, tale of bricks and tiles which are daily making for the supply of new buildings. The trade being wholly car. ried on in the port of London, it will be more properly remarked when I give an account of that great and opulent city.

Having staid fome time in London, we proceeded on our journey cross Bow-bridge, which divides Middlesex from Eflex, a county so called, as has been before related, from the East Saxons, by whom it was inhabited. 2


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

The air is generally temperate; but near the sea and the Thames, among the hun. dreds, it is moist; and the inhabitants are subject to agues. It abounds with corn, cattle, wood, and wild-fowl; and the north parts of it, especially about Saffron-Walden, produce great quantities of saffron ; the best in the world : The soil in some places thereabouts being so rich, that after three crops of saffron it yields good barley, for near twenty years together, without dunging. In other parts it produces hops.

It is particularly observed of this county, that, generally speaking, the soil is best where the air is worst, and è contra; for the parts next to the sea and the Thames among the fenny hundreds, which are so ag`ish, abound with rich pastures and corn lands; whereas the inland parts, though healthy, are many of them gravelly and sandy, and not so good either for corn or grass, but more productive of furze, broom, brakes; yet there are others of clay and loam foils, which bear excellent corn and pasturage. No county affords provisions of all sorts in greater plenty than this, both by land and water, for the supply not only of its own inhabitants, but of the city of London. Many good and serviceable horses are bred in the marshes. Abundance of fat oxen and sheep are also brought from thence to their markets; and corn is weekly sent up to that city in great quantities. Great dairies of cows are also kept here, which bring forth calves admired for the whiteness and delicacy of their flesh, insomuch that, As good as an Esex calf, is a common proverb, with the citizens, to denote what they like, as is the other saying, As valiant as an Esex lion, to ridicule what they despise.

About forty-five miles north-east of London, in this county, is carried on the great manufacture of Colchester baize, so famous throughout Spain, Portugal, and their American plantations; which are brought to London in waggons containing eighty or ninety hundred weight each, drawn with six horses only; the roads being so very hard and level. N.B. The Essex farmers buy lean calves at Smithfield market, London, and having fatted them, bring them to the same place to sell again.

Hertfordshire, is an inland county, and abounds in grass, wood, and corn fields, covered with loose stones. As there is little or no manufacture in this shire, which is full of maltsters, millers, dealers in corn, &c. fo their trade would be inconsiderable, was it not for its being every way a great thoroughfare, and for its neighbourhood to London, which makes the chief market-towns to be much frequented, for the sale of wheat, barley, and all sorts of grain, not only the growth of this, but several other counties. Wheat, barley and malt are its chief commodities. And the barley of Hertfordshire is so much prized in London, that many hundred quarters are sold by that name in a year, of which not a grain was ever fown in this county.

From Hertfordshire we travelled into Bedfordshire, which we found to be a fruitful country; especially the north parts, which'yield plentiful crops of plump, white, and strong barley, which, made inio malt, is frequently fold in London, and other parts, for that of Hertfordshire. It has forests and parks well stored with deer, fat pastures with cattle, produces great quantities of butter and cheese, with fuller's earth, and woad for dying, and has plenty of poultry. Its chief manufactures are bone-lace, and straw-hats.

The woad, for which this county is famous, is the plant with which the ancient Britons used to dye their bodies, that they might appear the more terrible to their enemies; but rather, as some think, to preserve them from the inclemency of the weather. It is cultivated here after this manner : it is sown every year, and the old woad, except what they save for feed, is plucked up. The beginning of March is the


season for fowing it, and the middle of May for cropping it. It is best in a dry year; but more plentiful in a wet one. It is cropped commonly four or five times a-year as it comes up; but the first crop is best, and every one after it gradually worse. When gathered it is immediately ground fmall in a milí, till it becomes fit to ball; and when bailed, it is laid upon hurdles to dry; and then ground into powder. After this it is spread on a floor, and watered, which is called couching ; and then it it turned every day till it is perfectly dry and mouldy, which is called filvering. After filvering, it is weighed, and put into a bag containing two hundred weight, and then sent to the dyer to try it, who fets a price on it according to its goodness. The best is commonly valued at 181. a ton.

Adjoining to Bedfordshire is the county of Bucks, taking its name from beech trees, in which it abounds, as I am told, more than any other part of England. Consequently this shire is diversified with pleasant woods and fine streams, which render it a desireable country; besides the quality of its air, which is generally good, especially on the Chiltern-hills, so that there is not a better in the whole island : and even in the vale, where it is not altogether so good, it is much better than in other low dirty counties. Its chief rivers are the Thames, the Oule, and the Colne. The foil, being generally marle or chalk, is very fruitful, especially in corn; and though it is stony on the Chiltern-hills, yet amidst those stones there come up good crops of choice wheat and barley. It abounds too with physical plants, perhaps more than any other county. As the land in the vale is proper for grazing, so it abounds with cattle. There are some graziers here, who perhaps have 4 or soul. a-year in land of their own, and yet rent three times as much, which they keep all in their own management: and it is very certain, that one single meadow, called Buryfield, in the manor of Quarendon, was let not many years ago for 800l. a-year. But the soil here, though so good to feed sheep, is too rich to breed them ; and it is common to give rol. for a ram to breed. The sheep of the vale of Alesbury are the biggest in England, and their mutton is very good; yet whoever has eaten of that of Banstead, Bagshot, and Tunbridge, must own there is better. The beef here is so good, that Buckinghamshire bread and beef was formerly a proverb; meaning, that the former was the finest, and the latter the fattest in England.

The manufactures of this shire are paper and bone-lace; the former made at Wycomb mills, and the latter at Newport-Pagnel, where the lace is very little inferior to that of Flanders. And here I can't forbear remarking how far the English degenerate from their native capacity of improving manufactures, in the particular cale of paper, which, notwithstanding they have greater plenty of the best rags, they commonly make out of old rotten materials, the shavings and cuttings of paper, till it will not bear the weight of the press; and sell their best rags abroad fo cheap, that the Dutch, French and Genoele, are able to import paper, made chiefly of English rags, cheaper and always better than any that is made in England, which is a great oversight.

My tutor, who was an Oxonian, having brought us to the confines of Oxfordshire, aflured me that it would be worth my while to see and spend a few days in the famous city and university of Oxford ; to which I readily condescended, but shall refer my minutes of that agreeable seat of learning to its proper place; and, at present, I only observe, that Oxfordshire enjoys a sweet healthful air, and is a very plentiful country; for the plains are judiciously disposed into corn-fields and meadows, and its few hills exalt their heads with lofty woods, and harbour great plenty of all sorts of game.

1 did not meet with any particular manufacture in the whole county.

From Oxford we departed for Gloucestershire, which abounds with all sorts of grain, cattle, fowl and game, and every thing that other counties produce, and altogether as


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »