Picture of William Cobbett

William Cobbett

places mentioned

Oct. 30th to Nov. 8th, 1821: London to Gloucester

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October 30, 1821. Tuesday (Evening ).

FOG that you might cut with a knife all the way from London to Newbury. This fog does not wet things. It is rather a smoke than a fog. There are no two things in this world; and, were it not for fear of Six-Acts (the "wholesome restraint" of which I continually feel) I might be tempted to carry my comparison further; but, certainly, there are no two things in this world so dissimilar as an English and a Long Island autumn.--These fogs are certainly the white clouds that we sometimes see aloft. I was once upon the Hampshire Hills, going from Soberton Down to Petersfield, where the hills are high and steep, not very wide at their base, very irregular in their form and direction, and have, of course, deep and narrow valleys winding about between them. In one place that I had to pass, two of these valleys were cut asunder by a piece of hill that went across them and formed a sort of bridge from one long hill to another. A little before I came to this sort of bridge I saw a smoke flying across it; and, not knowing the way by experience, I said to the person who was with me, "there is the turnpike road (which we were expecting to come to); for, don't you see the dust?" The day was very fine, the sun clear, and the weather dry. When we came to the pass, however, we found ourselves, not in dust, but in a fog. After getting over the pass, we looked down into the valleys, and there we saw the fog going along the valleys to the north, in detached parcels, that is to say, in clouds, and, as they came to the pass, they rose, went over it, then descended again, keeping constantly along just above the ground. And, to-day, the fog came by spells . It was sometimes thinner than at other times; and these changes were very sudden too. So that I am convinced that these fogs are dry clouds , such as those that I saw on the Hampshire Downs. Those did not wet me at all; nor do these fogs wet anything; and I do not think that they are by any means injurious to health. It is the fogs that rise out of swamps, and other places, full of putrid vegetable matter, that kill people. These are the fogs that sweep off the new settlers in the American woods. I remember a valley in Pennsylvania, in a part called Wysihicken. In looking from a hill, over this valley, early in the morning, in November, it presented one of the most beautiful sights that my eyes ever beheld. It was a sea bordered with beautifully formed trees of endless variety of colours. As the hills formed the outsides of the sea, some of the trees showed only their tops; and, every now and then, a lofty tree growing in the sea itself, raised its head above the apparent waters. Except the setting-sun sending his horizontal beams through all the variety of reds and yellows of the branches of the trees in Long Island, and giving, at the same time, a sort of silver cast to the verdure beneath them, I have never seen anything so beautiful as the foggy valley of the Wysihicken. But, I was told, that it was very fatal to the people; and that whole families were frequently swept off by the "fall-fever ." Thus the smell has a great deal to do with health. There can be no doubt that butchers and their wives fatten upon the smell of meat. And this accounts for the precept of my grandmother, who used to tell me to bite my bread and smell to my cheese ; talk much more wise than that of certain old grannies , who go about England crying up "the blessings " of paper money, taxes, and national debts. The fog prevented me from seeing much of the fields as I came along yesterday; but the fields of swedish turnips that I did see were good; pretty good; though not clean and neat like those in Norfolk. The farmers here, as everywhere else, complain most bitterly; but they hang on, like sailors to the masts or hull of a wreck. They read, you will observe, nothing but the country newspapers; they, of course, know nothing of the cause of their "bad times." They hope "the times will mend." If they quit business, they must sell their stock; and, having thought this worth so much money, they cannot endure the thought of selling for a third of the sum. Thus they hang on; thus the landlords will first turn the farmers' pockets inside out; and then their turn comes. To finish the present farmers will not take long. There has been stout fight going on all this morning (it is now 9 o'clock) between the sun and the fog . I have backed the former, and he appears to have gained the day; for he is now shining most delightfully. Came through a place called "a park" belonging to a Mr. Montague, who is now abroad ; for the purpose, I suppose, of generously assisting to compensate the French people for what they lost by the entrance of the Holy Alliance armies Into their country. Of all the ridiculous things I ever saw in my life this place is the most ridiculous. The house looks like a sort of church, in somewhat of a gothic style of building, with crosses on the tops of different parts of the pile. There is a sort of swamp, at the foot of a wood, at no great distance from the front of the house. This swamp has been dug out in the middle to show the water to the eye so that there is a sort of river, or chain of diminutive lakes, going down a little valley, about 500 yards long, the water proceeding from the soak of the higher ground on both sides. By the sides of these lakes there are little flower gardens, laid out in the Dutch manner; that is to say, cut out into all manner of superficial geometrical figures. Here is the grande en petit , or mock magnificence, more complete than I ever beheld it before. Here is a fountain , the basin of which is not four feet over, and the water spout not exceeding the pour from a tea-pot. Here is a bridge over a river of which a child four years old would clear the banks at a jump. I could not have trusted myself on the bridge For fear of the consequences to Mr. Montague; but I very conveniently stepped over the river, in imitation of the Colossus . In another part there was a lion's mouth spouting out water into the lake, which was so much like the vomiting of a dog, that I could almost have pitied the poor lion. In short, such fooleries I never before beheld; but what I disliked most was the apparent impiety of a part of these work of refined taste. I did not like the crosses on the dwelling house; but, in one of the gravel walks, we had to pass under a gothic arch, with a cross on the top of it, and in the point of the arch a niche for a saint or a virgin, the figure being gone through the lapse of centuries, and the pedestal only remaining as we so frequently see on the outsides of cathedrals and of old churches and chapels. But the good of it was, this gothic arch, disfigured by the hand of old Father Time, was composed of Scotch fir wood, as rotten as a pear; nailed together in such a way as to make the thing appear, From a distance, like the remnant of a ruin! I wonder how long this sickly, this childish, taste is to remain? I do not know who this gentleman is. I suppose he is some honest person From the 'Change or its neighbourhood; and that these gothic arches are to denote the antiquity of his origin ! Not a bad plan; and, indeed, it is one that I once took the liberty to recommend to those Fund-lords who retire to be country-'squires. But I never recommended the crucifixes ! To be sure the Roman Catholic religion may, in England, be considered as a gentleman's religion , it being the most ancient in the country; and, therefore, it is Fortunate for a fundlord when he happens (If he ever do happen) to be of that faith. This gentleman may, for anything that I know, be a Catholic ; in which case I applaud his piety and pity his taste. At the end of this scene of mock grandeur and mock antiquity I Found something more rational; namely, some hare hounds, and, in half an hour after, we found, and I had the first hare-hunt that I had had since I wore a smock-frock! We killed our hare after good sport, and got to Berghclere in the evening to a nice farm-house in a dell, sheltered from every wind, and with plenty of good living; though with no gothic arches made of Scotch fir!

October 31. Wednesday.

A fine day. Too many hares here; but, our hunting was not bad; or, at least, it was a great treat to me, who used, when a boy, to have my legs and thighs so often filled with thorns in running after the hounds, anticipating with pretty great certainty, a "waling " of the back at night. We had greyhounds a part of the day; but the ground on the hills is so flinty , that I do not like the country for coursing. The dogs' legs are presently cut to pieces.

Nov . 2 Friday.

This place is commonly called Uphusband , which is, I think, as decent a corruption of names as one would wish to meet with. However, Uphusband the people will have it, and Uphusband it shall be for me. I came from Berghclere this morning, and through the park of Lord Caernarvon, at Highclere. It is a fine season to look at woods. The oaks are still covered, the beeches in their best dress, the elms yet pretty green, and the beautiful ashes only beginning to turn off. This is, according to my Fancy, the prettiest park that I have ever seen. A great variety of hill and dell. A good deal of water, and this, in one part, only wants the colours of American trees to make it look like a "creek "; for the water runs along at the foot of a steepish hill, thickly covered with trees, and the branches of the lowermost trees hang down into the water and hide the bank completely. I like this place better than Fonthill, Blenheim, Stowe , or any other gentleman's grounds that I have seen. The house I did not care about, though it appears to be large enough to hold half a village. The trees are very good, and the woods would be handsomer if the larches and firs were burnt , for which only they are fit. The great beauty of the place is, the lofty downs , as steep, in some places, as the roof of a house, which form a sort of boundary, in the form of a part of a crescent, to about a third part of the park, and then slope off and get more distant, for about half another third part. A part of these downs is covered with trees, chiefly beech, the colour of which, at this season, forms a most beautiful contrast with that of the down itself, which is so green and so smooth! From the vale in the park, along which we rode, we looked apparently almost perpendicularly up at the downs, where the trees have extended themselves by seed more in some places than others, and thereby formed numerous salient parts of various forms, and, of course, as many and as variously formed glades. These, which are always so beautiful in forests and parks, are peculiarly beautiful in this lofty situation and with verdure so smooth as that of these chalky downs. Our horses beat up a score or two of hares as we crossed the park; and, though we met with no gothic arches made of Scotch fir, we saw something a great deal better; namely, about forty cows, the most beautiful that I ever saw, as to colour at least. They appear to be of the Galway breed. They are called, in this country, Lord Caernarvon's breed . They have no horns, and their colour is a ground of white with black or red spots, these spots being from the size of a plate to that of a crown-piece; and some of them have no small spots. These cattle were lying down together in the space of about an acre of ground; they were in excellent condition, and so fine a sight of the kind I never saw. Upon leaving the park, and coming over the hills to this pretty vale of Uphusband, I could not help calculating how long it might be before some Jew would begin to fix his eye upon Highclere, and talk of putting out the present owner, who, though a Whig , is one of the best of that set of politicians, and who acted a manly part in the case of our deeply injured and deeply lamented queen.

Nov . 4. Sunday.

This, to my fancy, is a very nice country. It is continual hill and dell. Now and then a chain of hills higher than the rest, and these are downs or woods. To stand upon any of the hills and look around you, you almost think you see the ups and downs of sea in a heavy swell (as the sailors call it) after what they call a gale of wind. The undulations are endless, and the great variety in the height, breadth, length, and form of the little hills, has a very delightful effect. The soil, which, to look on it, appears to be more than half flint stones, is very good in quality, and, in general, better on the tops of the lesser hills than in the valleys. It has great tenacity; does not wash away like sand, or light loam. It is a stiff, tenacious loam, mixed with flint stones. Bears saint-foin well, and all sorts of grass, which make the fields on the hills as green as meadows, even at this season; and the grass does not burn up in summer. In a country so full of hills one would expect endless runs of water and springs. There are none: absolutely none. No water-furrow is ever made in the land. No ditches round the fields. And, even in the deep valleys , such as that in which this village is situated, though it winds round for ten or fifteen miles, there is no run of water even now. There is the bed of a brook, which will run before spring, and it continues running with more or less water for about half the year, though, some years, it never runs at all. It rained all Friday night; pretty nearly all day yesterday; and to-day the ground is as dry as a bone, except just along the street of the village, which has been kept in a sort of stabble by the flocks of sheep passing along to and from Appleshaw fair. In the deep and long and narrow valleys such as this, there are meadows with very fine herbage and very productive. The grass very fine and excellent in its quality. It is very curious, that the soil is much shallower in the vales than on the hills. In the vales it is a sort of hazle-mould on a bed of something approaching to gravel; but, on the hills, it is stiff loam, with apparently half flints, on a bed of something like clay first (reddish, not yellow) and then comes the chalk, which they often take up by digging a sort of well; and then they spread it on the surface, as they do the clay in some countries, where they sometimes fetch it many miles and at an immense expense. It was very common, near Botley, to chalk land at an expense of sixteen pounds an acre. The land here is excellent in quality generally, unless you get upon the highest chains of hills. They have frequently forty bushels of wheat to the acre. Their barley is very fine; and their saint-foin abundant. The turnips are, in general, very good at this time; and the land appears as capable of carrying fine crops of them as any land that I have seen. A fine country for sheep: always dry: they never injure the land when feeding off turnips in wet weather; and they can lie down on the dry; for the ground is, in fact, never wet except while the rain is actually falling. Sometimes,. in spring-thaws and thunder-showers, the rain runs down the hills in torrents; but is gone directly. The flocks of sheep, some in fold and some at large, feeding on the sides of the hills, give great additional beauty to the scenery. The woods, which consist chiefly of oak thinly intermixed with ash, and well set with underwood of ash and hazel, but mostly the latter, are very beautiful. They sometimes stretch along the top and sides of hills for miles together; and, as their edges, or outsides, joining the fields and the downs, go winding and twisting about, and as the fields and downs are naked of trees, the sight altogether is very pretty. The trees in the deep and long valleys, especially the elm and the ash, are very fine and very lofty; and, from distance to distance, the rooks have made them their habitation. This sort of country, which, in irregular shape, is of great extent, has many and great advantages. Dry under foot; good roads, winter as well as summer, and little, very little, expense. Saint-foin flourishes. Fences cost little. Wood, hurdles, and hedging-stuff cheap. No shade in wet harvests. The water in the wells excellent. Good sporting country, except for coursing, and too many flints for that.--What becomes of all the water ? There is a spring, in one of the cross valleys that runs into this, having a basin about thirty feet over, and about eight feet deep, which they say sends up water once In about thirty or forty years; and boils up so as to make a large current of water. Not far from Uphusband the Wansdike (I think it is called) crosses the country. Sir Richard Colt Hore has written a great deal about this ancient boundary, which is, indeed, something very curious. In the ploughed fields the traces of it are quite gone; but they remain in the woods as well as on the downs.

Nov . 5, Monday.

A white frost this morning. The hills round about beautiful at sun-rise, the rooks making that noise which they always make in winter mornings. The starlings are come in large flocks; and, which is deemed a sign of a hard winter, the fieldfares are come at an early season. The haws are very abundant; which, they say, is another sign of a hard winter. The wheat is high enough here, in some fields, "to hide a hare," which is, indeed, not saying much for it, as a hare knows how to hide herself upon the bare ground. But it is, in some fields, four inches high, and is green and gay, the colour being finer than that of any grass. The fuel here is wood. Little coal is brought from Andover. A load of faggots does not cost above 10s. So that, in this respect, the labourers are pretty well off. The wages here, and in Berkshire, about 8s. a week; but the Farmers talk of lowering them. The poor-rates heavy, and heavy they must be, till taxes and rents come down greatly. Saturday and to-day Appleshaw sheep-fair. The sheep, which had taken a rise at Weyhill fair, have fallen again even below the Norfolk and Sussex mark. Some South-Down lambs were sold at Appleshaw so low as 8s. and some even lower. Some Dorsetshire ewes brought no more than a pound; and, perhaps, the average did not exceed 28s. I have seen a farmer here who can get (or could a few days ago) 28s. round for a lot of fat South-Down wethers, which cost him just that money, when they were lambs, two years ago ! It is impossible that they can have cost him less than 24s. each during the two years, having to be fed on turnips or hay in winter, and to be fatted on good grass. Here (upon one hundred sheep) is a loss of ?120 and ?14 in addition of five per cent interest on the sum expended in the purchase; even suppose not a sheep has been lost by death or otherwise. I mentioned before, I believe, that fat hogs are sold at Salisbury at from 5s. to 4s. 6d. the score pounds, dead weight. Cheese has come down in the same proportion. A correspondent informs me that one hundred and fifty Welsh sheep were, on the 18th of October, offered for 4s. 6d. a head, and that they went away unsold! The skin was worth a shilling of the money! The following I take from the Tyne Mercury of the 30th of October. "Last week, at Northawton fair, Mr. Thomas Cooper, of Bow, purchased three milch cows and Forty sheep, for ?18 16s. 6d.!" The skins, Four years ago, would have sold for more than the money. The Hampshire Journal says, that, on 1 November (Thursday) at Newbury Market, wheat sold from 88s. to 24s. the quarter. This would make an average of 56s. But very little indeed was sold at 88s., only the prime of the old wheat. The best of the new for about 48s. and, then, if we take into view the great proportion that cannot go to market at all, we shall not find the average, even in this rather dear part of England, to exceed 32s., or 4s. a bushel. And, if we take all England through, it does not come up to that, nor anything like it. A farmer very sensibly observed to me yesterday, that, "if we had had such a crop and such a harvest a few years ago, good wheat would have been ?50 a load;" that is to say, 25s. a bushel! Nothing can be truer than this. And nothing can be clearer than that the present race of farmers, generally speaking, must be swept away by bankruptcy, if they do not, in time, make their bow, and retire. There are two descriptions of farmers, very distinct as to the effects which this change must naturally have on them. The word farmer comes from the French, fermier , and signifies renter . Those only who rent, therefore, are, properly speaking, farmers . Those who till their own land are yeomen ; and, when I was a boy, it was the common practice to call the former farmers and the latter yeoman-farmers . These yeomen have, for the greater part, been swallowed up by the paper-system which has drawn such masses of money together. They have, by degrees, been bought out . Still there are some few left; and these, if not in debt, will stand their ground. But all the present race of mere renters must give way, in one manner or another. They must break, or drop their style greatly; even in the latter case, their rent must, very shortly, be diminished more than two-thirds. Then comes the landlord's turn ; and the sooner the better. In the Maidstone Gazette I find the following: "Prime beef was sold in Salisbury market, on Tuesday last, at 4d. per lb., and good joints of mutton at 3 ?d.; butter, 11d. and 12d. per lb. In the west of Cornwall, during the summer, pork has often been sold at 2 ?d. per lb." This is very true; and what can be better? How can Peel's Bill work in a more delightful manner? What nice "general working of events !" The country rag-merchants have now very little to do. They have no discounts . What they have out they owe : it is so much debt : and, of course, they become poorer and poorer, because they must, like a mortgager, have more and more to pay as prices fall. This is very good; for it will make them disgorge a part, at least, of what they have swallowed, during the years of high prices and depreciation. They are worked in this sort of way: the tax-collectors, the excise-fellows, for instance, hold their sittings every six weeks, in certain towns about the country. They will receive the country rags, if the rag man can find, and will give security for the due payment of his rags, when they arrive in London. For want of such security, or of some formality of the kind, there was a great bustle in a town in this country not many days ago. The excise-fellow demanded sovereigns, or Bank of England notes. Precisely how the matter was finally settled I know not; but the reader will see that the excise-man was only taking a proper precaution; for, if the rags were not paid in London, the loss was his!

Tuesday noon. Nov . 6.

I left Uphusband this morning at nine, and came across to this place (twenty miles) in a post-chaise. Came up the valley of Uphusband, which ends at about six miles from the village, and puts one out upon the Wiltshire downs, which stretch away towards the west and south-west, towards Devizes and towards Salisbury. After about half a mile of down we came down into a level country; the flints cease, and the chalk comes nearer the top of the ground. The labourers along here seem very poor indeed. Farm houses with twenty ricks round each, besides those standing in the fields; pieces of wheat, fifty, sixty, or one hundred acres in a piece; but a group of women labourers, who were attending the measurers to measure their reaping work, presented such an assemblage of rags as I never before saw even amongst the hoppers at Farnham, many of whom are common beggars. I never before saw country people, and reapers too, observe, so miserable in appearance as these. There were some very pretty girls, but ragged as colts and pale as ashes. The day was cold too, and frost hardly off the ground; and their blue arms and lips would have made any heart ache but that of a seat-seller or a loan-jobber. A little after passing by these poor things, whom I left. cursing, as I went, those who had brought them to this state, I came to a group of shabby houses upon a hill. While a boy was watering his horses, I asked the ostler the name of the place; and, as the old women say, "you might have knocked me down with a feather, "when he said, "Great Bedwin ." The whole of the houses are not intrinsically worth a thousand pounds. There stood a thing out in the middle of the place, about 25 feet long and 15 wide, being a room stuck up on unhewed stone pillars about 10 feet high. It was the Town Hall, where the ceremony of choosing the two members is performed." This place sends members to parliament, don't it?" said I to the ostler. "Yes, sir." "Who are members now ? "I don't know , indeed, sir." I have not read the Henriade of Voltaire for these thirty years; but in ruminating upon the ostler's answer; and in thinking how the world, yes, the whole world , has been deceived as to this matter, two lines of that poem came across my memory:

Représentans du peuple, les Grands et le Roi:
Spectacle magnifique! Source sacrée des lois!1

The Frenchman, for want of understanding the thing as well as I do, left the eulogium incomplete. I therefore here add four lines, which I request those who publish future editions of the Henriade to insert in continuation of the above eulogium of Voltaire.

Représentans du peuple, que celui-ci ignore,
Sont fait a miracle pour garder son Or!
Peuple trop heureux, que le bonheur inonde!
L'envie de vos voisins, admiré du monde!2

The first line was suggested by the ostler; the last by the words which we so very often hear from the bar, the bench, the seats , the pulpit, and the throne. Doubtless my poetry is not equal to that of Voltaire; but my rhyme is as good as his, and my reason is a great deal better. In quitting this villainous place we see the extensive and uncommonly ugly park and domain of Lord Aylesbury, who seems to have tacked park on to park, like so many outworks of a fortified city. I suppose here are fifty or a hundred farms of former days swallowed up. They have been bought, I dare say, from time to time; and it would be a labour, very well worthy of reward by the public, to trace to its source, the money by which these immense domains, in different parts of the country, have been formed! Marlborough, which is an ill-looking place enough, is succeeded, on my road to Swindon, by an extensive and very beautiful down about four miles over. Here nature has flung the earth about in a great variety of shapes. The fine short smooth grass has about nine inches of mould under it, and then comes the chalk. The water that runs down the narrow side-hill valleys is caught, in different parts of the down, in basins made on purpose, and lined with clay apparently. This is for watering the sheep in summer; sure sign of a really dry soil; and yet the grass never parches upon these downs. The chalk holds the moisture, and the grass is fed by the dews in hot and dry weather. At the end of this down the high-country ends. The hill is high and steep, and from it you look immediately down into a level farming country; a little farther on into the dairy-country, whence the North-Wilts cheese comes; and, beyond that, into the vale of Berkshire, and even to Oxford, which lies away to the north-east from this hill. The land continues good, flat, and rather wet to Swindon, which is a plain country town, built of the stone which is found at about six feet under ground about here. I come on now towards Cirencester, through the dairy country of North Wilts.

Wednesday (noon), Nov 7.

I slept at a dairy-farm house at Hannington, about eight miles from Swindon, and five on one side of my road. I passed through that villainous hole, Cricklade, about two nhours ago; and, certainly, a more rascally looking place I never set my eyes on. I wished to avoid it, but could get along no other way. All along here the land is a whitish stiff loam upon a bed of soft stone, which is found at various distances from the surface, sometimes two feet and sometimes ten. Here and there a field is fenced with this stone, laid together in walls without mortar or earth. All the houses and out-houses are made of it, and even covered with the thinnest of it formed into tiles. The stiles in the fields are made of large flags of this stone, and the gaps in the hedges are stopped with them. There is very little wood all along here. The labourers seems miserably poor. Their dwellings are little better than pig-beds, and their looks indicate that their food is not nearly equal to that of a pig. Their wretched hovels are stuck upon little bits of ground on the road side , where the space has been wider than the road demanded. In many places they have not two rods to a hovel, it seems as if they have been swept off the fields by a hurricane, and had dropped and found shelter under the banks on the roadside! Yesterday morning was a sharp frost; and this had set the poor creatures to digging up their little plots of potatoes. In my whole life I never saw human wretchedness equal to this: no, not even amongst the free negroes in America, who, on an average, do not work one day out of four. And this is "prosperity ," is it? These, O Pitt! are the fruits of thy hellish system! However, this Wiltshire is a horrible county. This is the county that the Gallon-loaf man belongs to. The land all along here is good. Fine fields and pastures all around; and yet the cultivators of those fields so miserable! This is particularly the case on both sides of Cricklade, and in it too, where everything had the air of the most deplorable want. They are sowing wheat all the way from the Wiltshire downs to Cirencester; though there is some wheat up. Winter vetches are up in some places, and look very well. The turnips of both kinds are good all along here. I met a farmer going with porkers to Highworth market. They would weigh, he said, four score and a half, and he expected to get 7s. 6d. a score. I expect he will not. He said they had been fed on barley-meal; but I did not believe him. I put it to his honour, whether whey and beans had not been their food. He looked surly, and pushed on. On this stiff ground, they grow a good many beans, and give them to the pigs with whey; which makes excellent pork for the Londoners ; but which must meet with a pretty hungry stomach to swallow it in Hampshire. The hogs, all the way that I have come, from Buckinghamshire, are without a single exception that I have seen, the old-fashioned black-spotted hogs. Mr. Blount at Uphusband has one, which now weighs about thirty score, and will possibly weigh forty, for she moves about very easily yet. This is the weight of a good ox; and yet, what a little thing it is compared to an ox! Between Cricklade and this place (Cirencester) I met, in separate droves, about two thousand Welsh cattle, on their way from Pembrokeshire to the fairs in Sussex. The greater part of them were heifers in calf. They were purchased in Wales at from ?3 to ?4 10s. each! None of them, the drovers told me reached ?5. These heifers used to fetch, at home ?6 to ?8, and sometimes more. Many of the things that I saw in these droves did not fetch, in Wales, 25s. And they go to no rising market! Now, is there a man in his senses who believes that this THING can go on in the present way? However, a fine thing, indeed, is this fall of prices! My "cottager" will easily get his cow, and a young cow too, for less than the ?5 that I talked of. These Welsh heifers will calve about May; and they are just the very thing for a cottager.

Thursday (morning), Nov . 8.

In leaving Cirencester, which is a pretty large town, a pretty nice town, and which the people call Cititer , I came up hill into a country, apparently formerly a down or common, but now divided into large fields by stone walls. Anything so ugly I had never seen before. The stone, which, on the other side of Cirencester, lay a good way under ground, here lies very near to the surface. The plough is continually bringing it up, and thus, in general, come the means of making the walls that serve as fences. Anything quite so cheerless as this I do not recollect to have seen; for the Bagshot country, and the commons between Farnham and Haselemere, have heath at any rate; but these stones are quite abominable. The turnips are not a fiftieth of a crop like those of Mr. Clarke at Bergh-Apton in Norfolk, or Pym at Reygate in Surrey, or of Mr. Brazier at Worth in Sussex. I see thirty acres here that have less food upon them than I saw the other day, upon half an acre at Mr. Budd's at Berghclere. Can it be good farming to plough and sow and hoe thirty acres to get what may be got upon half an acre? Can that half acre cost more than a tenth part as much as the thirty acres? But, if I were to go to this thirty-acre farmer, and tell him what to do to the half acre, would he not exclaim with the farmer at Botley: "What! drow away all that 'ere ground between the lains ! Jod's blood!" With the exception of a little dell about eight miles from Cirencester, this miserable country continued to the distance of ten miles, when, all of a sudden, I looked down from the top of a hill into the vale of Gloucester ! Never was there, surely, such a contrast in this world! This hill is called Burlip Hill ; it is much about a mile down it, and the descent so steep as to require the wheel of the chaise to be locked; and, even with that precaution, I did not think it over and above safe to sit in the chaise; so, upon Sir Robert Wilson's principle of taking care of Number One , I got out and walked down. From this hill you see the Morvan Hills in Wales. You look down into a sort of dish wi h a flat bottom, the Hills are the sides of the dish, and the city of Gloucester, which you plainly see, at seven miles distance from Burlip Hill, appears to be not far from the centre of the dish. All here is fine; fine farms; fine pastures; all inclosed fields; all divided by hedges; orchards a plenty; and I had scarcely seen one apple since I left Berkshire. Gloucester is a fine, clean, beautiful place; and, which is of a vast deal more importance, the labourers' dwellings, as I came along, looked good, and the labourers themselves pretty well as to dress and healthiness. The girls at work in the fields (always my standard) are not in rags, with bits of shoes tied on their feet and rags tied round their ankles, as they had in Wiltshire.

1 I will not swear to the very words; but this is the meaning of Voltaire: "Representatives of the people, the Lords and the King: Magnificent spectacle! Sacred source of the Laws!"

2 "Representatives of the people, of whom the people know nothing, must be miraculously well calculated to have the care of their money! Oh! people too happy! overwhelmed with blessings! The envy of your neighbours , and admired by the whole world! "

William Cobbett, Rural Rides (Letchworth: Temple Press, 1932)

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