Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 3, Part 2: Salisbury and Dorset

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From Winchester, is about 25 miles, and over the most charming plains that can any where be seen, (far in my opinion) excelling the plains of Mecca, we come to Salisbury; the vast flocks of sheep, which one every where sees upon these downs, and the great number of those flocks, is a sight truly worth observation; 'tis ordinary for these flocks to contain from 3 to 5000 in a flock; and several private farmers hereabouts have two or three such flocks.

But 'tis more remarkable still; how a great part of these downs comes by a new method of husbandry, to be not only made arable, which they never were in former days, but to bear excellent wheat, and great crops too, tho' otherwise poor barren land, and never known to our ancestors to be capable of any such thing; nay, they would perhaps have laugh'd at any one that would have gone about to plough up the wild downs and hills, where the sheep were wont to go: But experience has made the present age wiser, and more skilful in husbandry; for by only folding the sheep upon the plow'd lands, those lands, which otherwise are barren, and where the plow goes within three or four inches of the solid rock of chalk, are made fruitful, and bear very good wheat, as well as rye and barley: I shall say more of this when I come to speak of the same practice farther in the country.

This plain country continues in length from Winchester to Salisbury 25 miles, from thence to Dorchester 22 miles, thence to Weymouth 6 miles, so that they lye near 50 miles in length, and breadth; they reach also in some places 35 to 40 miles: They who would make any practicable guess at the number of sheep usually fed on these downs, may take it from a calculation made, as I was told, at Dorchester, that there were 600000 sheep fed within 6 miles of that town, measuring every way round, and the town in the center.

As we pass'd this plain country, we saw a great many old camps, as well Roman as British, and several remains of the ancient inhabitants of this kingdom, and of their wars, battles, entrenchments, encampments, buildings, and other fortifications, which are indeed very agreeable to a traveller, that has read any thing of the history of the country. Old Sarum is as remarkable as any of these, where there is a double entrenchment, with a deep graffe, or ditch, to either of them; the area about 100 yards in diameter, taking in the whole crown of the hill, and thereby rendering the ascent very difficult: Near this, there is one farm house, which is all the remains I could see of any town in or near the place, for the encampment has no resemblance of a-town; and yet this is called the borough of Old Sarum, and sends two members to Parliament, who, those members can justly say, they represent, would be hard for them to answer.

Some will have it, that the old city of Sorbiodunum, or Salisbury, stood here, and was afterwards, for I know not what reasons, remov'd to the low marshy grounds, among the rivers, where it now stands: But as I see no authority for it, other than mere tradition, I believe my share of it, and take it ad referendum.

Salisbury itself is indeed a large and pleasant city; tho' I do not think it at all the pleasanter for that which they boast so much of; namely, the water running thro' the middle of every street, or that it adds any thing to the beauty of the place, but just the contrary; it keeps the streets always dirty, full of wet and filth, and weeds, even in the middle of summer.

The city is plac'd upon the confluence of two large rivers, the Avon and the Willy, either of them considerable rivers, but very large, when joyn'd together, and yet larger when they receive a third river, viz. the Naddir, which joyns them near Clarendon Park, about three miles below the city; then, with a deep channel, and a current less rapid, they run down to Christ Church, which is their port, and where they empty themselves into the sea; from that town upwards, towards Salisbury, they are made navigable too within two miles, and might be so quite into the city, were it not for the strength of the stream.

As the city of Winchester is a city without trade, that is to say, without any particular manufactures; so this city of Salisbury, and all the county of Wilts, of which it is the capital, are full of a great variety of manufactures; and those some of the most considerable in England; namely, the cloathing trade, and the trade of flannels, drugets, and several other sorts of manufactures, of which in their order.

The city of Salisbury has two remarkable manufactures carried on in it, and which employ the poor of great part of the country round; namely, fine flannels, and long cloths for the Turkey trade, call'd Salisbury Whites: The people of Salisbury are gay and rich, and have a flourishing trade; and there is a great deal of good manners and good company among them; I mean, among the citizens, besides what is found among the gentlemen; for there are many good families in Salisbury, besides the citizens.

This society has a great addition from the Closs, that is to say, the circle of ground wall'd in adjacent to the cathedral; in which the families of the prebendaries and commons, and others of the clergy belonging to the cathedral have their houses, as is usual in all cities where there are cathedral churches. These are so considerable here, and the place so large, that it is (as it is call'd in general) like another city.

The cathedral is famous for the height of its spire, which is without exception the highest, and the handsomest in England, being from the ground 410 foot, and yet the walls so exceeding thin, that at the upper part of the spire upon a view made by the late Christopher Wren, the wall was found to be less than five inches thick; upon which a consultation was had, whether the spire, or at least the upper part of it should be taken down, it being suppos'd to have receiv'd some damage by the great storm in the year 1703; but it was resolv'd in the negative, and Sir Christopher order'd it to be so strengthened with bands of iron plates, as has effectually secur'd it; and I have heard some of the best architects say, it is stronger now than when it was first built.

They tell us here long stories of the great art us'd in laying the first foundations of this church; the ground being marshy and wet, occasioned by the channels of the rivers; that it was laid upon piles according to some, and upon woolpacks according to others; but this is not suppos'd by those who know, that the whole country is one rock of chalk, even from the tops of the highest hills, to the bottom of the deepest rivers.

They tell us, this church was 40 years a building, and cost an immense sum of money, but it must be acknowledged that the inside of the work is not answerable in the decoration of things, to the workmanship without; the painting in the choir is mean, and more like the ordinary method of common drawing room, or tavern painting, than that of a church; the carving is good, but very little of it, and it is rather a fine church than finely set off.

The ordinary boast of this building, that there were as many gates as months, as many windows as days, as many marble pillars as hours in the year, is now no recommendation at all. However the mention of it must be preserved.

As many days as in one year there be,
So many windows in one church we see;
As many marble pillars there appear,
As there are hours throughout the fleeting year;
As many gates as moons one year do view:
Strange tale to tell, yet not more strange than true.

There are however some very fine monuments in this church; particularly one belonging to the noble family of Seymours, since Dukes of Somerset, (and ancestors of the present flourishing family,) which on a most melancholly occasion has been now lately open'd again to receive the body of the late Dutchess of Somerset, the happy consort for almost 40 years of his grace the present duke; and only daughter and heiress of the antient and noble family of Piercy, Earls of Northumberland, whose great estate she brought into the family of Somerset, who now enjoy it.

With her was bury'd at the same time her graces daughter the Marchioness of Caermarthen, being married to the Marquess of Caermarthen, son and heir apparent to the Lord of Leeds, who dy'd for grief at the loss of the dutchess her mother, and was buried with her; also her second son the Duke Piercy Somerset, who dyed a few months before, and had been buryed in the abby-church of Westminster, but was order'd to be remov'd and laid here with the ancestors of his house; and I hear his grace designs to have a yet more magnificent monument erected in this cathedral for them, just by the other, which is there already.

How the Dukes of Somerset came to quit this church for their burying-place, and be laid in Westminster-Abbey, that I know not; but 'tis certain that the present duke has chosen to have his family laid here with their ancestors, and to that end has caused the corps of his son the Lord Piercy, as above, and one of his daughters who had been buryed in the Abbey, to be remov'd and brought down to this vault, which lyes in that they call the Virgin Mary's Chappel behind the altar. There is, as above, a noble monument for a late Duke and Dutchess of Somerset in the place already; with their pourtraits at full length, their heads lying upon cushions, the whole perfectly well wrought in fine polish'd Italian marble, and their sons kneeling by them; those I suppose to be the father of the great Duke of Somerset, uncle to King Edward IV, but after this the family lay in Westminster-Abbey, where there is also a fine monument for that very duke who was beheaded by Edward VI, and who was the great patron of the Reformation.

Among other monuments of noble men in this cathedral they show you one that is very extraordinary, and to which there hangs a tale: There was in the reign of Philip and Mary a very unhappy murther committed by the then Lord Sturton, or Stourton, a family since extinct, but well known till within a few years in that country.

This Lord Stourton being guilty of the said murther, which also was aggravated with very bad circumstances, could not obtain the usual grace of the Crown, (viz.) to be beheaded, but Queen Mary positively ordered that like a common malefactor he should die at the gallows: After he was hang'd, his friends desiring to have him bury'd at Salisbury, the bishop would not consent that he should be buryed in the cathedral, unless as a farther mark of infamy, his friends would submit to this condition (viz.) That the silken halter in which he was hang'd should be hanged up over his grave in the church, as a monument of his crime; which was accordingly done, and there it is to be seen to this day.

The putting this halter up here, was not so wonderful to me as it was, that the posterity of that lord, who remain'd in good rank sometime after, should never prevail to have that mark of infamy taken off from the memory of their ancestor.

There are several other monuments in this cathedral, as particularly of two noblemen of antient families in Scotland, one of the name of Hay, and one of the name of Gordon; but they give us nothing of their history, so that we must be content to say there they lye, and that's all.

The cloyster, and the chapter-house adjoyning to the church, are the finest here of any I have seen in England; the latter is octogon, or eight square, and is 150 foot in its circumference; the roof bearing all upon one small marble pillar in the center, which you may shake with your hands; and it is hardly to be imagin'd it can be any great support to the roof, which makes it the more curious, it is not indeed to be match'd I believe in Europe.

From hence directing my course to the sea-side in pursuit of my first design, viz. of viewing the whole coast of England, I left the great road, and went down the east side of the river towards New-Forest, and Lymington; and here I saw the antient house and seat of Clarendon, the mansion of the antient family of Hide, ancestors of the great Earl of Clarendon, and from whence his lordship was honoured with that title, or the house erected into an honour in favour of his family.

But this being a large county, and full of memorable branches of antiquity, and modern curiosity, I cannot quit my observations so soon, but being happily fix'd by the favour of a particular friend at so beautiful a spot of ground as this of Clarendon Park, I made several little excursions from hence to view the northern parts of this county; a county so fruitful of wonders, that tho' I do not make antiquity my chief search, yet I must not pass it over entirely, where so much of it, and so well worth observation is to be found, which would look as if I either understood not the value of the study, or expected my readers should be satisfy'd with a total omission of it.

I have mention'd that this county is generally a vast continued body of high chalky hills, whose tops spread themselves into fruitful and pleasant downs and plains, upon which great flocks of sheep are fed, &c. But the reader is desir'd to observe these hills and plains are most beautifully intersected, and cut thro' by the course of divers pleasant and profitable rivers; in the course, and near the banks, of which there always is a chain of fruitful meadows, and rich pastures, and those interspers'd with innumerable pleasant towns, villages, and houses, and among them many of considerable magnitude; so that while you view the downs, and think the country wild and uninhabited; yet when you come to descend into these vales you are surprised with the most pleasant and fertile country in England.

There are no less than four of these rivers which meet all together, at, or near the city of Salisbury, especially the waters of three of them run thro' the streets of the city; the Nadder and the Willy, and the Avon, and the course of these three lead us thro' the whole mountainous part of the county, the two first joyn their waters at Wilton; the shire-town, tho' a place of no great notice now; and these are the waters which run thro' the canal, and the gardens of Wilton House, the seat of that ornament of nobility and learning, the Earl of Pembroke.

One cannot be said to have seen any thing that a man of curiosity would think worth seeing in this county, and not have been at Wilton House; but not the beautiful building, not the antient trophy of a great family, not the noble scituation, not all the pleasures of the gardens, parks, fountains, hare-warren, or of whatever is rare either in art or nature are equal to, that yet more glorious sight, of a noble princely palace, constantly filled with its noble and proper inhabitants; viz. the lord and proprietor, who is indeed a true patriarchal monarch, reigns here with an authority agreeable to all his subjects (family); and his reign is made agreeable, by his first practising the most exquisite government of himself, and then guiding all under him by the rules of honour and vertue; being also himself perfectly master of all the needful arts of family government; I mean needful to make that government, both easy, and pleasant to those who are under it, and who therefore willingly, and by choice conform to it.

Here an exhaulted genius is the instructor, a glorious example the guide, and a gentle well directed hand the governour and law-giver to the whole; and the family like a well govern'd city appears happy, flourishing and regular, groaning under no grievance, pleas'd with what they enjoy, and enjoying every thing which they ought to be pleas'd with.

Nor is the blessing of this noble resident extended to the family only, but even to all the country round, who in their degree feel the effects of the general beneficence; and where the neighbourhood, however poor, receive all the good they can expect, and are sure to have no injury, or oppression.

The canal before the house lyes parallel with the road, and receives into it the whole river Willey, or at least is able to do so; it may indeed be said, that the river is made into a canal; when we come into the court-yards before the house there are several pieces of antiquity to entertain the curious; as particularly, a noble column of porphyry, with a marble statue of Venus on the top of it. In Italy, and especially at Rome and Naples, we see a great variety of fine columns, and some of them of excellent workmanship, and antiquity, and at some of the Courts of the Princes of Italy the like is seen; as especially at the Court of Florence; but in England I do not remember to have seen any thing like this, which as they told me is two and thirty foot high and of excellent workmanship, and that it came last from Candia, but formerly from Alexandria; what may belong to the history of it any further, I suppose is not known, at least they could tell me no more of it, who shew'd it me.

On the left of the court was formerly a large grotto, and curious water-works, and in a house, or shed, or part of the building which open'd with two folding doors, like a coach-house, a large equestrian statue of one of the ancestors of the family in compleat armour, as also another of a Roman emperor in brass, but the last time I had the curiosity to see this house, I mist that part; so that I supposed they were remov'd.

As the present Earl of Pembroke, the lord of this fine palace, is a nobleman of great personal merit, many other ways; so he is a man of learning, and reading, beyond most men of his lordship's high rank in this nation, if not in the world; and as his reading has made him a master of antiquity, and judge of such pieces of antiquity, as he has had opportunity to meet with in his own travels, and otherwise in the world; so it has given him a love of the study, and made him a collector of valuable things, as well in painting as in sculpture, and other excellencies of art, as also of nature; in so much that Wilton-House is now a meer musaeum, or a chamber of rarities, and we meet with several things there, which are to be found no where else in the world.

As his lordship is a great collector of fine paintings; so I know no nobleman's house in England, so prepar'd, as if built on purpose to receive them; the largest, and the finest pieces that can be imagin'd extant in the world, might have found a place here capable to receive them; I say, they might have found, as if they could not now, which is in part true; for at present the whole house is so compleatly fill'd, that I see no room for any new peice to crowd in, without displacing some other fine piece that hung there before; as for the value of the piece, that might so offer to succeed the displac'd, that the great judge of the whole collection, the earl himself, must determine, and as his judgment is perfectly good, the best picture would be sure to possess the place. In a word: Here is without doubt the best, if not the greatest collection of rarities, and paintings, that are to be seen together, in any one nobleman's, or gentleman's house in England. The piece of our Saviour washing his disciples feet, which they shew you in one of the first rooms you go into, must be spoken of by every body that has any knowledge of painting, and is an admirable piece indeed.

You ascend the great stair case, at the upper end of the hall, which is very large; at the foot of the stair-case you have a Bacchus large as the life, done in fine Peloponesian marble; carrying a young Bacchus on his arm, the young one eating grapes, and letting you see by his countenance, that he is pleas'd with the tast of them; nothing can be done finer, or more lively represent the thing intended; namely the gust of the appetite, which if it be not a passion, 'tis an affection, which is as much seen in the countenance, perhaps more than any other: One ought to stop every two steps of this stair-case, as we go up, to contemplate the vast variety of pictures, that cover the walls, and of some of the best masters in Europe, and yet this is but an introduction to what is beyond them.

When you are entered the appartments, such variety seizes you every way, that you scarce know to which hand to turn your self: First, on one side you see several rooms fill'd with paintings, as before, all so curious, and the variety such, that 'tis with reluctance, that you can turn from them; while looking another way, you are call'd off by a vast collection of busto's, and pieces of the greatest antiquity of the kind, both Greek, and Romans; among these, there is one of the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius in basso relievo ; I never saw any thing like what appears here, except in the chamber of rarieties at Munick in Bavaria.

Passing these, you come into several large rooms, as if contriv'd for the reception of the beautiful guests that take them up; one of these is near 70 foot long and the ceiling 26 foot high, with another adjoyning of the same height, and breadth, but not so long: Those together might be call'd the Great Gallery of Wilton, and might vie for paintings with the gallery of Luxemburg in the Fauxbourg of Paris.

These two rooms are fill'd with the family pieces of the house of Herbert, most of them by Lilly, or Vandyke, and one in particularly, out does all that ever I met with, either at home, or abroad, 'tis done, as was the mode of painting at that time, after the manner of a family piece of King Charles I. with his queen, and children, which before the burning of White-Hall, I remember to hang at the east end of the Long Gallery in the palace.

This piece fills the farther end of the great room which I just now mention'd, it contains the Earl of Montgomery, ancestor of the house of Herbert, not then Earls of Pembroke, and his lady, sitting, and as big as the life; there are about them, their own five sons, and one daughter, and their daughter-in-law, who was daughter of the Duke of Buckingham, marry'd to the elder Lord Herbert, their eldest son; it is enough to say of this piece, 'tis worth the labour of any lover of art to go 500 miles to see it; and I am inform'd several gentlemen of quality have come from France almost on purpose; It would be endless to describe the whole set of the family pictures, which take up this room, unless we would enter into the roof-tree of the family; and set down a genealogical line of the whole house.

After we have seen this fine range of beauties, for such indeed they are; far from being at an end of your surprize, you have three or four rooms still upon the same floor, fill'd with wonders, as before: Nothing can be finer than the pictures themselves, nothing more surprising than the number of them; at length you descend the back-stairs, which are in themselves large, tho' not like the other: However, not a hands breadth is left to crowd a picture in of the smallest size, and even the upper rooms, which might be call'd garrets, are not naked, but have some very good pieces in them.

Upon the whole, the genius of the noble collector may be seen in this glorious collection, than which, take them together, there is not a finer in any private hand in Europe, and in no hand at all in Britain, private or publick.

The gardens are on the south of the house, and extend themselves beyond the river, a branch of which runs thro' one part of them, and still south of the gardens in the great park, which extending beyond the vale, mounts the hill opening at the last to the great down, which is properly call'd by way of distinction, Salisbury-Plain, and leads from the city of Salisbury, to Shaftesbury; here also his lordship has a hare-warren (as 'tis call'd) tho' improperly; it has indeed been a sanctuary for the hares for many years; but the gentlemen complain that it marrs their game, for that as soon as they put up a hare for their sport, if it be any where within two or three miles, away she runs for the warren, and there is an end of their pursuits; on the other hand, it makes all the countrymen turn poachers, and destroy the hares, by what means they can; but this is a smaller matter, and of no great import one way or other.

From this pleasant and agreeable days work, I return'd to Clarendon, and the next day took another short tour to the hills, to see that celebrated piece of antiquity, the wonderful Stone-Henge, being six miles from Salisbury north, and upon the side of the river Avon, near the town of Amesbury: 'Tis needless, that I should enter here into any part of the dispute about which our learned antiquaries have so puzzl'd themselves, that several books, and one of them, in folio, has been published about it; some alledgmg it to be a heathen, or pagan temple, and altar, or place of sacrifice, as Mr. Jones; others, a monument, or trophy of victory; others a monument for the dead, as Mr. Aubury, and the like: Again, some will have it be British, some Danish, some Saxon, some Roman, and some before them all, Phenician.

I shall suppose it, as the majority of all writers do, to be a monument for the dead, and the rather, because men's bones have been frequently dug up in the ground near them. The common opinion that no man could ever count them, that a baker carry'd a basket of bread, and laid a loaf upon every-stone, and yet could never make out the same number twice; This, I take, as a meer country fiction, and a ridiculous one too; the reason why they cannot easily be told, is, that many of them lye half, or part buryed in the ground, and a piece here, and a piece there, only appearing above the grass, it cannot be known easily, which belong to one stone, and which to another, or which are separate stones, and which are joyned under ground to one another; otherwise, as to those which appear, they are easie to be told, and I have seen them told four times after one another, beginning every time at a different place, and every time they amounted to 72 in all; but then this was counting every peice of a stone of bulk, which appear'd at above the surface of the earth, and was not evidently part of, and adjoining to another, to be a distinct and separate body, or stone by it self.

The form of this monument is not only described but delineated in most authors, and indeed 'tis hard to know the first, but by the last; the figure was at first circular, and there were at least four rows or circles, within one another; the main stones were placed upright, and they were joyn'd on the top by cross stones, laid from one to another, and fastn'd with vast mortices and tenants: Length of time has so decay'd them, that not only most of the cross stones which lay on the top are fallen down, but many of the upright also, notwithstanding the weight of them is so prodigious great: How they came thither, or from whence, no stones of that kind being now to be found in any part of England near it, is still the mistery, for they are of such immense bulk that no engines, or carriages which we have in use in this age could stir them.

Doubtless they had some method in former days in foreign countries, as well as here, to move heavier weights than we find practicable now; How else did Solomons workmen build the battlement, or additional wall to support the precipeice of Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built? which was all built of great stones of Parian marble, each stone being forty cubits long, and fourteen cubits broad, and eight cubits high, or thick, which reckoning each cubit at two foot and half of our measure, as the learned agree to do, was 100 foot long, 35 foot broad, and 20 foot thick.

These stones at Stonehenge, as Mr. Cambden describes them, and in which others agree, were very large, tho' not so large, the upright stones 24 foot high, 7 foot broad, 16 foot round; and weight 12 ton each; and the cross stones on the top, which he calls coronets, were 6 or 7 ton, but this does not seem equal, for if the cross stones weigh'd six, or seven ton, the others, as they appear now, were at least 5 or 6 times as big, and must weigh in proportion; and therefore, I must think their judgment much nearer the case who judge the upright stones at 16 ton, or thereabouts, supposing them to stand a great way into the earth, as 'tis not doubted but they do; and the coronets, or cross stones, at about two ton, which is very large too, and as much as their bulk can be thought to allow.

Upon the whole, we must take them as our ancestors have done; Namely, for an erection, or building so antient, that no history has handed down to us the original, as we find it then uncertain, we must leave it so: 'Tis indeed a reverend piece of antiquity, and 'tis a great loss that the true history of it is not known; But since it is not, I think the making so many conjectures at the reality, when they know they can but guess at it, and above all the insisting so long, and warmly on their private opinions, is but amusing themselves and us with a doubt, which perhaps lyes the deeper for their search into it.

The downs and plains in this part of England being so open, and the surface so little subject to alteration, there are more remains of antiquity to be seen upon them, than in other places; for example, I think they tell us there are three and fifty antient encampments, or fortifications to be seen in this one county, some whereof are exceeding plain to be seen, some of one form, some of another; some of one nation, some of another, British, Danish, Saxon, Roman, as at Ebb-down, Burywood, Oldburgh-Hill, Cummerford, Roundway-Down, St. Ann's-Hill, Bratton-Castle, Clay-Hill, Stournton-Park, Whitecole-Hill, Battlebury, Scrathbury, Yanesbury, Frippsbury, Suthbury-Hill, Amesbury, Great Bodwyn, Easterley, Merdon, Aubery, Martenscil-Hill, Barbury-Castle, and many more.

Also the Barrows, as we all agree to call them, are very many in number in this county, and very obvious, having suffered very little decay. These are large hillocks of earth cast up, as the antients agree, by the soldiers over the bodies of their dead comrades slain in battle; several hundreds of these are to be seen, especially in the north part of this county, about Marlbro' and the downs, from thence to St. Ann's-Hill, and even every way, the downs are full of them.

I have done with matters of antiquity for this county, unless you will admit me to mention the famous parliament in the reign of Hen. II. held at Clarendon, where I am now writing, and another intended to be held there in Rich. 2d's time, but prevented by the barons, being then up in arms against the king.

Near this place at Farlo was the birth-place of the late Sir Stephen Fox, and where the town sharing in his good fortune, shews several marks of his bounty, as particularly, the building a new church from the foundation, and getting an Act of Parliament past, for making it parochial, it being but a chappel of ease before to an adjoyning parish: Also Sir Stephen built and endow'd an alms-house here for six poor women, with a master and a free-school; the master is to be a clergyman, and to officiate in the church, that is to say, is to have the living, which including the school is very sufficient.

I am now to pursue my first design, and shall take the west part of Wiltshire in my return, where are several things still to be taken notice of, and some very well worth our stay. In the mean time I went on to Langbro' a fine seat of my Lord Colerain, which is very well kept, tho' the family it seems is not much in this country, having another estate, and dwelling at Tottenham-High-Cross near London.

From hence in my way to the sea-side I came to New-Forest, of which I have said something already with relation to the great extent of ground, which lyes wast, and in which there is so great a quantity of large timber, as I have spoken of already.

This wast and wild part of the country was, as some record, lay'd open, and wast for a forest, and for game, by that violent tyrant William the Conqueror, and for which purpose he unpeopled the country, pull'd down the houses, and which was worse, the churches of several parishes or towns, and of abundance of villages, turning the poor people out of their habitations, and possessions, and laying all open for his deer: The same histories likewise record that two of his own blood and posterity, and particularly his immediate successor William Rufus lost their lives in this forest: One (viz.) the said William Rufus being shot with an arrow directed at a deer, which the king, and his company were hunting, and the arrow glancing on a tree, chang'd his course and struck the king full on the breast, and kill'd him; This they relate as a just judgment of God on the cruel devastation made here by the Conqueror; Be it so or not, as heaven pleases; but that the king was so kill'd, is certain, and they show the tree, on which the arrow glanc'd, to this day; in King Charles II. time, it was ordered to be surrounded with a pale, but as great part of the paleing is down with age; whether the tree be really so old, or not, is to me a great question; the action being near 700 year ago.

I cannot omit to mention here a proposal made a few years ago to the late Lord Treasurer, Godolphin, for re-peopling this forest, which for some reasons I can be more particular in, than any man now left alive, because I had the honour to draw up the scheme, and argue it before that noble lord, and some others who were principally concern'd at that time in bringing over, or rather providing for when they were come over, the poor inhabitants of the Palatinate; a thing in it self commendable, but as it was manag'd, made scandalous to England, and miserable to those poor people.

Some persons being ordered by that noble lord, above mention'd, to consider of measures, how the said poor people should be provided for, and whether they could be provided for, or no, without injury to the publick: The answer was grounded upon this maxim, that the number of inhabitants is the wealth and strength of a kingdom, provided those inhabitants were such, as by honest industry applied themselves to live by their labour, to whatsoever trades, or employments they were brought up: In the next place it was inquir'd, what employments those poor people were brought up to? It was answer'd, there were husbandmen, and artificers of all sorts, upon which the proposal was as follows.

NEW FOREST in Hampshire was singl'd out to
be the place.

Here it was propos'd to draw a great square-line, containing four thousand acres of land, marking out two large highways, or roads thro' the center, crossing both ways, so that there should be a thousand acres in each division, exclusive of the land contain'd in the said cross roads.

Then it was propos'd to single out twenty men, and their families, who should be recommended as honest industrious men, expert in, or at least capable of being instructed in husbandry, curing and cultivating of land, breeding and feeding cattle, and the like; To each of these should be parcell'd out in equal distributions, two hundred acres of this land, so that the whole four thousand acres should be fully distributed to the said twenty families, for which they should have no rent to pay, and be liable to no taxes, but such as provided for their own sick or poor, repairing their own roads, and the like: This exemption from rent and taxes, to continue for twenty years, and then to pay each 50l . a year to the queen; that is to say, to the Crown.

The form of the several farms would be laid out thus.

Map of a model settlement

a the church, b the shambles, c the market house, d a town hall, e a conduit with stocks, &c. F the conduits, or wells, G houses, H the lands enclosed behind, I streets of houses for tradesmen.

To each of these families, who I wou'd now call farmers, it was propos'd to advance 200l . in ready money, as a stock to set them to work, to furnish them with cattle, horses, cows, hogs, &c. and to hire and pay labourers, to enclose, clear, and cure the land; which it would be supposed the first year would not be so much to their advantage as afterwards; allowing them timber out of the forest to build themselves houses, and barns, sheds, and offices, as they should have occasion; also for carts, waggons, ploughs, harrows, and the like necessary things, care to be taken, that the men and their families went to work forthwith according to the design.

Thus twenty families would be immediately supplyed, and provided for, for there would be no doubt, but these families with so much land given them gratis, and so much money to work with, would live very well; but what would this do for the support of the rest? who were suppos'd to be to every twenty farmers, forty or fifty families of other people; some of one trade, some of another, with women and children? to this it was answer'd, that these twenty farmers would by the consequence of their own settlements, provide for, and employ such a proportion of others of their own people, that by thus providing for twenty families in a place, the whole number of Palatinates would have been provided for, had they been 20000 more in number than they were, and that without being any burthen upon, or injury to the people of England; on the contrary, they would have been an advantage, and an addition of wealth and strength to the nation, and to the country in particular where they should be thus seated: For example;

As soon as the land was mark'd out, the farmers put in possession of it, and the money given them, they should be oblig'd to go to work, in order to their settlement; suppose it then to be in the spring of the year, when such work was most proper; First all hands would be requir'd, to fence, and part off the land, and clear it of the timber, or bushes, or what ever else was upon it, which requir'd to be remov'd: The first thing therefore which the farmers would do, would be to single out from the rest of their number, every one three servants, that is to say, two men, and a maid; less cou'd not answer the preparations they would be oblig'd to make, and yet work hard themselves also; by the help of these, they would with good management soon get so much of their land cur'd, fenc'd off, plow'd, and sow'd, as should yeild them a sufficiency of corn and kitchin stuff, the very first year, both for horse-meat, hog-meat, food for the family, and some to carry to market too, by which to bring in money to go farther on, as above.

At the first entrance, they were to have the tents allow'd them to live in, which they then had from the Tower; but as soon as leisure, and conveniences admitted, every farmer was obliged to begin to build him a farm house, which he would do gradually, some and some, as he could spare time from his other works, and money from his little stock.

In order to furnish himself with carts, waggons, plows, harrows, wheel-barrows, hurdles, and all such necessary utentisils of husbandry; there would be an absolute necessity of wheelwrights, or cartwrights, one at least to each division.

Thus by the way, there would be employed three servants to each farmer, that makes sixty persons.

Four families of wheelwrights, one to each division: which suppose five in a family, makes 20 persons; suppose four head carpenters, with each three men, and as at first all would be building together, they would to every house building have at least one labourer, four families of carpenters, five to each family, and three servants, is thirty two persons, one labourer to each house building, is twenty persons more.

Thus here would be necessarily brought together, in the very first of the work 132 persons, besides the head farmers, who at five also to each family are hundred more, in all two hundred thirty two.

For the necessary supply of these with provisions, cloaths, houshold-stuff, &c. for all should be done among themselves; first, they must have at least four butchers with their families; twenty persons, four shoemakers with their families, and each shoemaker two journeymen for every trade; would encrease the number of customers to every trade: This is twenty eight persons more.

They would then require a hatmaker, a glover, at least two ropemakers, four taylors, three weavers of woollen, and three weavers of linnen, two basketmakers, two common brewers, ten or twelve shop-keepers to furnish chandlery and grocery wares; and as many for drapery and mercery, over and above what they could work, this makes two and forty families more, each at five in a family, which is two hundred and ten persons; all the labouring part of these must have at least two servants, the brewers more, which I cast up at forty more.

Add to these two ministers, one clerk, one sexton, or gravedigger with their families, two physicians, three apothecaries, two surgeons, less there could not be, only that for the beginning it might be said the physicians should be surgeons, and I take them so; this is forty five persons, besides servants; so that in short, to omit many tradesmen more who would be wanted among them, there would necessarily, and voluntarily follow, to these twenty families of farmers at least six hundred more of their own people.

It is no difficult thing to show that the ready money of 4000l . which the government was to advance to those twenty farmers, would employ and pay, and consequently subsist all these numerous dependants, in the works which must severally be done for them, for the first year; after which the farmers would begin to receive their own money back again; for all these tradesmen must come to their own market to buy corn, flesh, milk, butter, cheese, bacon, &c. which after the first year the farmers having no rent to pay, would have to spare sufficiently, and so take back their own money with advantage; I need not go on to mention, how by consequence provisions encreasing, and money circulating, this town should encrease in a very little time.

It was propos'd also that for the encouragement of all the handicraftsmen, and labouring poor, who either as servants, or as labourers for day-work, assisted the farmers or other tradesmen, they should have every man three acres of ground given them, with leave to build cottages upon the same, the allotments to be upon the waste, at the end of the cross-roads where they entered the town.

In the center of the square was laid out a circle of twelve acres of ground, to be cast into streets for inhabitants to build on, as their ability would permit; all that would build to have ground gratis for twenty years, timber out of the forest, and convenient yards, gardens and orchards allotted to every house.

In the great streets near where they cross each other, was to be built a handsome market-house, with a town-hall for parish or corporation business, doing justice and the like; also shambles, and in a handsome part of the ground mention'd to be laid out for streets, as near the center as might be, was to be ground laid out for the building a church, which every man should either contribute to the building of, in money, or give every tenth day of his time to assist in labouring at the building.

I have omitted many tradesmen, who would be wanted here, and would find a good livelihood among their country folks; only to get accidental work, as daymen, or labourers; of which such a town would constantly employ many, as also poor women for assistance in families, such as midwives, nurses, &c.

Adjacent to the town was to be a certain quantity of common land, for the benefit of the cottages; that the poor might have a few sheep, or cows as their circumstances required; and this to be appointed at the several ends of the town.

There was a calculation made of what encrease here would be, both of wealth and people in twenty years in this town; what a vast consumption of provisions they would cause, more than the four thousand acres of land given them would produce; by which consumption and encrease, so much advantage would accrue to the publick stock, and so many subjects be added to the many thousands of Great Britain; who in the next age would be all true born Englishmen, and forget both the language, and nation from whence they came; and it was in order to this that two ministers were appointed, one of which should officiate in English, and the other in High Dutch; and withal to have them oblig'd by a law to teach all their children both to speak, read and write the English language.

Upon their encrease they would also want barbers, and glasiers, painters also, and plumbers; a wind-mill or two, and the millers and their families, a fulling-mill, and a cloth worker; as also a master clothier, or two, for making a manufacture among them for their own wear, and for employing the women and children; a dyer or two, for dying their manufactures; and, which above all, is not to be omitted, four families at least of smiths, with every one two servants; considering that besides all the family work, which continually employs a smith, all the shoeing of horses, all the iron-work of plows, carts, waggons, harrows, &c. must be wrought by them.

There was no allowance made for inns, and ale-houses, seeing it would be frequent that those who kept publick houses of any sort, would likewise have some other employment to carry on.

This was the scheme for settling the Palatinates, by which means twenty families of farmers, handsomely set up, and supported, would lay a foundation, as I have said, for six or seven hundred of the rest of their people; and as the land in New Forest is undoubtedly good, and capable of improvement by such cultivation, so other wastes in England are to be found as fruitful as that; and twenty such villages might have been erected, the poor strangers maintain'd, and the nation evidently be better'd by it; as to the money to be advanced, which in the case of twenty such settlements, at 4000l . each, would be 80000l . two things were answer'd to it.

  1. That the annual rent to be received for all those lands after twenty years, would abundantly pay the publick for the first disbursses on the scheme above, that rent being then to amount to 40000l . per ann.
  2. More money than would have done this, was expended, or rather thrown away upon them here, to keep them in suspense, and afterwards starve them; sending them a begging all over the nation, and shipping them off to perish in other countries: Where the mistake lay, is none of my business to enquire.

I reserv'd this account for this place, because I pass'd in this journey over the very spot where the design was laid out; namely, near Lindhurst, in the road from Rumsey to Limington, whither I now directed my course.

Limington is a little, but populous sea port, standing opposite to the Isle of Weight, in the narrow part of the streight, which ships some times pass thro', in fair weather, call'd, the Needles; and right against an ancient town of that island call'd Yarmouth, and which, in distinction from the great town of Yarmouth in Norfolk, is call'd South Yarmouth: This town of Limington is chiefly noted for making fine salt, which is indeed excellent good; and from whence all these south parts of England are supply'd, as well by water as by land carriage; and sometimes, tho' not often, they send salt to London, when contrary winds having kept the northern fleets back, the price at London has been very high; but this is very seldom and uncertain. Limington sends two members to Parliament, and this and her salt trade is all I can say to her; for tho' she is very well situated, as to the convenience of shipping, I do not find they have any foreign commerce, except it be what we call smugling, and roguing; which, I may say, is the reigning commerce of all this part of the English coast, from the mouth of the Thames to the Land's End of Cornwall.

From hence there are but few towns on the sea coast west, tho' there are several considerable rivers empty themselves into the sea, nor are there any harbours, or sea ports of any note, except Pool: As for Christ Church, tho' it stands at the mouth of the Avon, which, as I have said, comes down from Salisbury, and brings with it all the waters of the south and east parts of Wiltshire; and receives also the Stour and Piddle, two Dorsetshire rivers, which bring with them all the waters of the north part of Dorsetshire; yet it is a very inconsiderable poor place, scarce worth seeing, and less worth mentioning in this account; only, that it sends two members to Parliament, which many poor towns in this part of England do, as well as that.

From hence I stept up into the country north-west, to see the ancient town of Wimburn, or Wimburnminster; There I found nothing remarkable, but the church, which is indeed a very great one, ancient, and yet very well built, with a very firm strong square tower, considerably high; but was, without doubt, much finer, when on the top of it, stood a most exquisite spire, finer and taller, if fame lyes not, than that at Salisbury, and, by its situation, in a plainer, flatter country, visible, no question, much farther: But this most beautiful ornament was blown down by a sudden tempest of wind, as they tell us, in the year 1622.

The church remains a venerable piece of antiquity, and has in it the remains of a place, once, much more in request than it is now; for here are the monuments of several noble families; and in particular of one king, viz. King Etheldred, who was slain in battle by the Danes: He was a prince fam'd for piety and religion, and, according to the zeal of these times, was esteem'd as a martyr; because venturing his life against the Danes, who were heathens, he died fighting for his religion and his country. The inscription upon his grave is preserv'd, and has been carefully repair'd, so as to be easily read, and is as follows:

In hoc loco quiescit Corpus S. Etheldredi, Regis West Saxonum, Martyris, qui Anno Dom. DCCCLXXII. xxiii. Aprilis per Manus Danorum Paganorum Occubuit.

In English thus:

Here rests the body of Holy Etheldred, King of the West Saxons, and martyr, who fell by the hands of the pagan Danes, in the year of our Lord 872, the 23d of April.

Here are also the monuments of the great Marchioness of Exeter, mother of Edward Courtney, Earl of Devonshire, and last of the family of Courtneys who enjoy'd that honour; as also of John de Beaufort Duke of Somerset, and his wife, grand-mother of King Henry VII. by her daughter Margaret, Countess of Richmond.

This last lady I mention, because she was foundress of a very fine free-school, which has since been enlarg'd, and had a new benefactress in Queen Elizabeth, who has enlarg'd the stipend and annex'd it to the foundation: The famous Cardinal Pool was dean of this church before his exaltation.

Having said this of the church, I have said all that is worth naming of the town; except that the inhabitants, who are many, and poor, are chiefly maintained by the manufacture of knitting stockings, which employs great part indeed of the county of Dorset, of which this is the first town eastward.

South of this town, over a sandy wild and barren country, we came to Pool, a considerable sea-port, and indeed the most considerable in all this part of England; for here I found some ships, some merchants, and some trade; especially, here were a good number of ships fitted out every year to the Newfoundland fishing, in which the Pool men were said to have been particularly successful for many years past.

The town sits in the bottom of a great bay, or inlet of the sea, which entring at one narrow mouth opens to a very great breadth within the entrance, and comes up to the very shoar of this town; it runs also west up almost to the town of Wareham, a little below which, it receives the rivers Froom and Piddle, the two principal rivers of the county.

This place is famous for the best, and biggest oysters in all this part of England, which the people of Pool pretend to be famous for pickling, and they are barrell'd up here, and sent not only to London, but to the West Indies, and to Spain, and Italy, and other parts. 'Tis observed more pearl are found in the Pool oysters, and larger than in any other oysters about England.

As the entrance into this large bay is narrow, so it is made narrower by an island, call'd Branksey, which lying in the very mouth of the passage, divides it into two, and where there is an old castle, call'd Branksey Castle, built to defend the entrance, and this strength was very great advantage to the trade of this port, in the time of the late war with France.

Wareham is a neat town, and full of people, having a share of trade with Pool it self, it shows the ruins of a large town, and 'tis apparent has had eight churches, of which they have three remaining.

South of Wareham, and between the bay I have mentioned and the sea, lyes a large tract of land, which being surrounded by the sea, except on one side is call'd an island, tho' it is really what should be call'd a peninsula; this tract of land is better inhabited than the sea coast of this west end of Dorsetshire generally is, and the manufacture of stockings is carry'd on there also; it is called the Isle of Purbeck, and has in the middle of it a large market-town, call'd Corf, and from the famous castle there, the whole town is now call'd Corf-Castle, it is a corporation, sending members to Parliaments.

This part of the country is eminent for vast quarreys of stone, which is cut out flat, and us'd in London in great quantities for paving court-yards, alleys, avenues to houses, kitchins, footways on the sides of the high-streets, and the like; and is very profitable to the place, as also in the number of shipping employed in bringing it to London. There are also several rocks of very good marble, only that the veins in the stone are not black and white, as the Italian, but grey, red, and other colours.

From hence to Weymouth, which is------miles we rode in view of the sea; the country is open, and in some respects pleasant, but not like the northern parts of the county, which are all fine carpet ground, soft as velvet, and the herbage, sweet as garden herbs, which makes their sheep be the best in England, if not in the world, and their wool fine to an extream.

I cannot omit here a small adventure, which was very surprising to me on this journey; passing this plain country, we came to an open piece of ground where a neighbouring gentleman had at a great expence laid out a proper piece of land for a Decoy, or Duck-coy, as some call it; the works were but newly done, the planting young, the ponds very large, and well made; but the proper places for shelter of the fowl not cover'd, the trees not being grown, and men were still at work improving, and enlarging, and planting on the adjoyning heath, or common: Near the decoy keeper's house, were some places where young decoy-ducks were hatch'd, or otherwise kept to fit them for their work; To preserve them from vermin, polecats, kites, and such like, they had set traps, as is usual in such cases, and a gibbet by it, where abundance of such creatures as were taken were hang'd up for show.

While the decoy man was busy showing the new-works, he was alarm'd with a great cry about this house for Help, Help, and away he run, like the wind, guessing, as we suppos'd, that something was catch'd in the trap.

It was a good big boy about 13 or 14 year old, that cry'd out, for coming to the place, he found a great fowl catch'd by the leg in the trap, which yet was so strong, and so outrageous, that the boy going too near him, he flew at him, and frighted him, bit him, and beat him with his wings, for he was too strong for the boy; as the master ran from the decoy, so another man-servant ran from the house, and finding a strange creature fast in the trap, not knowing what it was, laid at him with a great stick; the creature fought him a good while, but at length he struck him an unlucky blow, which quieted him; after this we all came up to see what was the matter, and found a monstruous eagle caught by the leg in the trap, and kill'd by the fellow's cudgel, as above.

When the master came to know what it was, and that his man had kill'd it, he was ready to kill the fellow for his pains, for it was a noble creature indeed, and would have been worth a great deal to the man to have it shown about the country, or to have sold to any gentleman curious in such things; but the eagle was dead, and there we left it: ‘Tis probable this eagle had flown over the sea from France, either there, or at the Isle of Weight, where the Channel is not so wide; for we do not find that any eagles are known to breed in those parts of Britain.

From hence we turn'd up to Dorchester, the county town, tho' not the largest town in the county; Dorchester is indeed a pleasant agreeable town to live in, and where I thought the people seem'd less divided into factions and parties, than in other places; for though here are divisions and the people are not all of one mind, either as to religion, or politicks, yet they did not seem to separate with so much animosity as in other places: Here I saw the Church of England clergymen, and the Dissenting minister, or preacher drinking tea together, and conversing with civility and good neighbourhood, like catholick Christians, and men of a catholick, and extensive charity: The town is populous, tho' not large, the streets broad, but the buildings old, and low; however, there is good company and a good deal of it; and a man that coveted a retreat in this world might as agreeably spend his time, and as well in Dorchester, as in any town I know in England.

The downs round this town are exceeding pleasant, and come up on every side, even to the very streets end; and here it was that they told me, that there were 600 thousand sheep fed on the downs, within six miles of the town; that is, six miles every way, which is twelve miles in diameter, and thirty six miles in circumference. This I say, I was told, I do not affirm it to be true; but when I viewed the country round, I confess I could not but incline to believe it.

It is observable of these sheep, that they are exceeding fruitful, and the ews generally bringing two lambs, and they are for that reason bought by all the farmers thro' the east part of England, who come to Burford Fair in this country to buy them, and carry them into Kent and Surry eastward, and into Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire, and Oxfordshire north, even our Bansted Downs in Surrey, so fam'd for good mutton, is supply'd from this place: The grass, or herbage of these downs is full of the sweetest, and the most aromatick plants, such as nourish the sheep to a strange degree, and the sheeps dung again nourishes that herbage to a strange degree; so that the valleys are render'd extreamly fruitful, by the washing of the water in hasty showers from off these hills.

An eminent instance of this is seen at Amesbury in Wiltshire, the next county to this, for it is the same thing in proportion over this whole county: I was told that at this town there was a meadow on the bank of the river Avon, which runs thence to Salisbury, which was let for 12/. a year per acre for the grass only: This I enquired particularly after, at the place, and was assur'd by the inhabitants as one man, that the fact was true, and was shew'd the meadows; the grass which grew on them was such as grew to the length of ten or twelve foot, rising up to a good height, and then taking root again, and was of so rich a nature as to answer very well such an extravagant rent.

The reason they gave for this, was the extraordinary richness of the soil, made so, as above, by the falling, or washing of the rains from the hills adjacent, by which tho' no other land thereabouts had such a kind of grass, yet all other meadows, and low grounds of the valley were extreamly rich in proportion.

There are abundance of good families, and of very antient lines in the neighbourhood of this town of Dorchester, as the Napiers, the Courtneys, Strangeways, Seymours, Banks, Tregonells, Sedenhams, and many others, some of which have very great estates in the county, and in particular Colonel Strangeways, Napier, and Courtney. The first of these is master of the famous swannery, or nursery of swans, the like of which I believe is not in Europe; I wonder any man should pretend to travel over this country, and pass by it too, and then write his account, and take no notice of it.

From Dorchester it is six miles to the sea side south, and the ocean in view almost all the way: The first town you come to is Weymouth, or Weymouthand Melcomb, two towns lying at the mouth of a little rivulet, which they call the Wey, but scarce claims the name of a river; however, the entrance makes a very good, tho' small harbour, and they are joyn'd by a wooden bridge; so that nothing but the harbour parts them; yet they are seperate corporations, and choose each of them two Members of Parliament, just as London and Southwark.

Weymouth is a sweet, clean, agreeable town, considering its low situation, and close to the sea; 'tis well built, and has a great many good substantial merchants in it; who drive a considerable trade, and have a good number of ships belonging to the town: They carry on now, in time of peace, a trade with France; but besides this, they trade also to Portugal, Spain, Newfoundland, and Virginia; and they have a large correspondence also up in the country for the consumption of their returns; especially the wine trade, and the Newfoundland trade are considerable here.

Without the harbour is an old castle, call'd Sandfoot Castle, and over-against them, where there is a good road for ships to put in on occasions of bad weather, is Portland Castle, and the road is call'd Portland Road: While I was here once, there came a merchant ship into that road, call'd Portland Road, under a very hard storm of wind; she was homeward bound from Oporto for London, laden with wines, and as she came in, she made signals of distress to the town, firing guns for help, and the like, as is usual in such cases; it was hi the dark of the night that the ship came in, and, by the help of her own pilot, found her way into the road, where she came to an anchor, but, as I say, fir'd guns for help.

The venturous Weymouth-men went off, even before it was light, with two boats to see who she was, and what condition she was in, and found she was come to an anchor, and had struck her top-masts; but that she had been in bad weather, had lost an anchor and cable before, and had but one cable to trust to, which did hold her, but was weak; and as the storm continued to blow, they expected every hour to go on shore, and split to pieces.

Upon this, the Weymouth boats came back with such diligence, that, in less than three hours, they were on board them again with an anchor and cable, which they immediately bent in its place, and let go to assist the other, and thereby secur'd the ship: ‘Tis true, that they took a good price of the master for the help they gave him; for they made him draw a bill on his owners at London for 12l. for the use of the anchor, cable, and boat, besides some gratuities to the men: But they sav'd the ship and cargo by it, and in three or four days the weather was calm, and he proceeded on his voyage, returning the anchor and cable again; so that, upon the whole, it was not so extravagant as at first I thought it to be.

The Isle of Portland, on which the castle I mentioned stands, lies right against this port of Weymouth: Hence it is, that our best and whitest free stone comes, with which the cathedral of St. Paul's, the Monument, and all the publick edifices in the city of London, are chiefly built; and 'tis wonderful, and well worth the observation of a traveller to see the quarries in the rocks, from whence they are cut out, what stones, and of what prodigious a size are cut out there.

The island is indeed little more than one continued rock of free stone, and the height of the land is such, that from this island they see, in clear weather, above half over the Channel to France, tho' the Channel here is very broad; the sea off of this island, and especially to the west of it, is counted the most dangerous part of the British Channel: Due south, there is almost a continued disturbance in the waters, by reason of what they call two tides meeting, which I take to be no more than the setts of the currents from the French coast, and from the English shore meeting: This they call Portland Race; and several ships, not aware of these currents, have been embay'd to the west of Portland, and been driven on shore on the beach, (of which I shall speak presently) and there lost.

To prevent this danger, and guide the mariner in these distresses, they have, within these few months, set up two light-houses on the two points of that island; and they had not been many months set up, with the directions given to the publick for their bearings, but we found three outward-bound East-India ships which were in distress in the night, in a hard extream gale of wind, were so directed by those lights, that they avoided going on shore by it, which, if the lights had not been there, would inevitably happened to their destruction.

This island, tho' seemingly miserable, and thinly inhabited, yet the inhabitants being almost all stone-cutters, we found there was no very poor people among them; and when they collected money for the rebuilding St. Paul's, they got more in this island than in the great town of Dorchester, as we were told.

Tho' Portland stands a league off from the main land of Britain, yet it is almost joyn'd by a prodigious riffe of beach, that is to say, of small stones cast up by the sea, which runs from the island so near the shore of England, that they ferry over with a boat and a rope, the water not being above half a stones throw over; and the said rifle of beach ending, as it were, at that inlet of water, turns away west, and runs parallel with the shore quite to Abbotsbury, which is a town about seven miles beyond Weymouth.

I name this for two reasons; first, to explain again what I said before, of ships being embay'd and lost here: This is when ships coming from the westward omit to keep a good offing, or are taken short by contrary winds, and cannot weather the high land of Portland, but are driven between Portland and the main land; if they can come to an anchor, and ride it out, well and good, and if not, they run on shore on that vast beach, and are lost without remedy.

On the inside of this beach, and between it, and the land, there is, as I have said, an inlet of water, which they ferry over, as above, to pass and repass to and from Portland: This inlet opens at about two miles west, and grows very broad, and makes a kind of lake within the land of a mile and a half broad, and near three miles in length, the breadth unequal. At the farthest end west of this water is a large duck-coy, and the verge of the water well grown with wood, and proper groves of trees for cover for the foul; in the open lake, or broad part, is a continual assembly of swans: Here they live, feed and breed, and the number of them is such, that, I believe, I did not see so few as 7 or 8000. Here they are protected, and here they breed in abundance; we saw several of them upon the wing, very high in the air, whence we supposed, that they flew over the riffe of beach, which parts the lake from the sea to feed on the shores as they thought fit, and so came home again at their leisure.

From this duck-coy west, the lake narrows, and at last almost closes, till the beach joyns the shore; and so Portland may be said not to be an island, but part of the continent; and now we came to Abbotsbury, a town anciently famous for a great monastery, and now eminent for nothing but its ruins.

From hence we went on to Bridport, a pretty large corporation town on the sea shore, tho' without a harbour: Here we saw boats all the way on the shore fishing for mackerell, which they take in the easiest manner imaginable; for they fix one end of the net to a pole, set deep into the sand, then the net being in a boat, they row right out into the water some length, then turn, and row parallel with the shore, vering out the net all the while, till they have let go all the net, except the line at the end, and then the boat rows on shore, when the men haling the net to the shore at both ends, bring to shore with it such fish, as they surrounded in the little way they rowed; this, at that time, proved to be an incredible number, insomuch, that the men could hardly draw them on shore: As soon as the boats had brought their fish on shore, we observed a guard, or watch, placed on the shore in several places, who we found had their eye not on the fishermen, but on the country people, who came down to the shore to buy their fish; and very sharp we found they were; and some that came with small carts were obliged to go back empty, without any fish. When we came to enquire into the particulars of this, we found, that these were officers placed on the shore by the justices and magistrates of the towns about, who were order'd to prevent the country farmers buying the mackerell to dung their land with them, which was thought to be dangerous, as to infection: In short, such was the plenty of fish that year, that mackerell, the finest and largest I evei saw, were sold at the sea side a hundred for a penny.

From Bridport, a town in which we see nothing remarkable, we came to Lime, the town particularly made famous by the landing of the Duke of Monmouth, and his unfortunate troop, in the time of King James II. of which I need say nothing, the history of it being so recent in the memory of so many living.

This is a town of good figure, and has in it several eminent merchants, who carry on a considerable trade to France, Spain, Newfoundland, and the Streights; and tho' they have neither creek or bay, road, or river, they have a good harbour; but 'tis such a one as is not in all Britain besides, if there is such a one in any part of the world.

It is a massy pile of building, consisting of high and thick walls of stone, rais'd, at first, with all the methods that skill and art could devise, but maintained now with very little difficulty: The walls are rais'd in the main sea, at a good distance from the shore; it consists of one main and solid wall of stone, large enough for carts and carriages to pass on the top, and to admit houses and ware houses to be built on it; so that it is broad as a street; opposite to this, but farther into the sea, is another wall of the same workmanship, which crosses the end of the first wall, and comes about with a tail, parallel to the first wall.

Between the point of the first or main wall, is the entrance into the port, and the second, or opposite wall, breaking the violence of the sea from the entrance, the ships go into the basin, as into a peer, or harbour, and ride there as secure as in a mill pond, or as in a wet dock.

The town's people have the benefit of this wonderful harbour, and it is carefully kept in repair, as indeed it behoves them to do; but they could give me nothing of the history of it; nor do they, as I could perceive, know anything of the original of it, or who built it; it was lately almost beaten down by a storm, but is repair'd again.

This work is call'd the COBB: The custom-house officers have a lodge and warehouse upon it, and there were several ships of very good force, and rich in value, in the basin of it when I was there: It might be strengthen'd with a fort, and the walls themselves are firm enough to carry what guns they please to plant upon it; but they did not seem to think it needful; and as the shore is convenient for batteries, they have some guns planted in proper places, both for the defence of the COBB, and the town also.

This town is under the government of a mayor and aldermen, and may pass for a place of wealth, considering the bigness of it: Here we found the merchants began to trade in the pitchard fishing, tho' not to so considerable a degree as they do farther west; the pitchards seldom coming up so high eastward as Portland, and not very often so high as Lime.

It was in sight of these hills that Queen Elizabeth's fleet, under the command of the Lord Howard of Effingham, then admiral, began first to engage in a close, and resolv'd fight with the invincible Spanish Armada, in 1588: Maintaining the fight, the Spaniards making eastward, till they came the length of Portland Race, where they gave it over; the Spaniards having receiv'd considerable damage, and keeping then closer together. Off of the same place was a desperate engagement in the year 1672, between the English and Dutch, in which the Dutch were worsted, and driven over to the coast of France, and then glad to make home to refit and repair.

While we stay'd here some time viewing this town and coast, we had opportunity to observe the pleasant way of conversation, as it is manag'd among the gentlemen of this county, and their families, which are without reflection some of the most polite and well bred people in the isle of Britain: As their hospitality is very great, and their bounty to the poor remarkable, so their generous friendly way of living with, visiting, and associating one with another is as hard to be describ'd, as it is really to be admir'd; they seem to have a mutual confidence in, and friendship with one another, as if they were all relations; nor did I observe the sharping tricking temper, which is too much crept in among the gameing and horse-racing gentry in some parts of England, to be so much known among them, any otherwise than to be abhorr'd; and yet they sometimes play too, and make matches, and horse-races, as they see occasion.

The ladies here do not want the help of assemblies to assist in match-making; or half-pay officers to run away with their daughters, which the meetings, call'd assemblies in some other parts of England, are recommended for: Here's no Bury Fair, where the women are scandalously said to carry themselves to market, and where every night they meet at the play, or at the assembly for intreague, and yet I observ'd that the women do not seem to stick on hand so much in this country, as in those countries, where those assemblies are so lately set up; the reason of which I cannot help saying, if my opinion may bear any weight, is, that the Dorsetshire ladies are equal in beauty, and may be superiour in reputation; In a word, their reputation seems here to be better kept; guarded by better conduct, and manag'd with more prudence, and yet the Dorsetshire ladies, I assure you, are not nuns, they do not go vail'd about streets, or hide themselves when visited; but a general freedom of conversation, agreeable, mannerly, kind, and good runs thro' the whole body of the gentry of both sexes, mix'd with the best of behaviour, and yet govern'd by prudence and modesty; such as I no where see better in all my observation, thro' the whole isle of Britain. In this little interval also I visited some of the biggest towns in the north-west part of this county, as Blandford, a town on the river Stour in the road between Salisbury and Dorchester, a handsome well built town, but chiefly famous for making the finest bonelace in England, and where they shew'd me some so exquisitely fine, as I think I never saw better in Flanders, France or Italy, and which they said, they rated at above 30l . sterling a yard; but I suppose there was not much of this to be had, but 'tis most certain, that they make exceeding rich lace in that county, such as no part of England can equal.

From thence I went west to Stourbridge, vulgarly call'd Strabridge; the town, and the country round is employ'd in the manufacture of stockings, and which was once famous for making the finest, best, and highest priz'd knit stockings in England; but that trade now is much decay'd by the encrease of the knitting-stocking engine, or frame, which has destroyed the hand knitting-trade for fine stockings thro' the whole kingdom, of which I shall speak more in its place.

From hence I came to Shireburn, a large and populous town, with one collegiate, or conventual church, and may properly claim to have more inhabitants in it than any town in Dorsetshire, tho' it is neither the county town, or does it send members to Parliament; the church is still a reverend pile, and shews the face of great antiquity. Here begins the Wiltshire medley cloathing, tho' this town be in Dorsetshire; of which I shall speak at large in its place, and therefore I omit any discourse of it here.

Shaftsbury is also on the edge of this county, adjoyning to Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, being 14 miles from Salisbury, over that fine down or carpet ground, which they call particularly, or properly Salisbury Plain. It has neither house or town in view all the way, and the road which often lyes very broad, and branches off insensibly, might easily cause a traveller to loose his way, but there is a certain never failing assistance upon all these downs for telling a stranger his way, and that is the number of shepherds feeding, or keeping their vast flocks of sheep, which are every where in the way, and who, with a very little pains, a traveller may always speak with. Nothing can be like it, the Arcadians plains of which we read so much pastoral trumpery in the poets, could be nothing to them.

This Shaftsbury is now a sorry town, upon the top of a high hill, and which closes the plain, or downs, and whence nature presents you a new scene or prospect, (viz.) of Somerset and Wiltshire, where 'tis all enclosed, and grown with woods, forests, and planted hedge-rows: The country rich, fertile and populous, the towns and houses standing thick, and being large and full of inhabitants, and those inhabitants fully employed in the richest and most valuable manufacture in the world, (viz.) the English cloathing, as well, the medley, or mixt clothing, as whites; as well for the home trade, as the foreign trade; of which I shall take leave to be very particular in my return thro' the west and north part of Wiltshire, in the latter part of this work.

In my return to my western progress, I pass'd some little part of Somersetshire, as thro' Evil, or Yeovil, upon the river Ivil, in going to which we go down a long steep hill, which they call Babylon-Hill; but from what original I could find none of the country people to inform me.

This Yeovil is a market town of good resort, and some clothing is carry'd on, in, and near it, but not much, its main manufacture at this time is making of gloves.

It cannot pass my observation here, that when we are come this length from London, the dialect of the English tongue, or the country way of expressing themselves is not easily understood, it is so strangely altered; it is true, that it is so in many parts of England besides, but in none in so gross a degree as in this part; This way of boorish country speech, as in Ireland, it is call'd the brogue upon the tongue; so here 'tis call'd jouring and 'tis certain, that tho' the tongue be all meer natural English, yet those that are but a little acquainted with them, cannot understand one half of what they say: It is not possible to explain this fully by writing, because the difference is not so much in the orthography of words, as in the tone, and diction; their abridging the speech, cham for I am , chil for I will, don , for put on , and doff , for put off , and the like. And I cannot omit a short story here on this subject; coming to a relations house, who was a school-master at Martock in Somersetshire, I went into his school to beg the boys a play day, as is usual in such cases; I should have said to beg the master a play day, but that by the way; coming into the school, I observed one of the lowest scholars was reading his lesson to the usher, which lesson it seems was a chapter in the Bible, so I sat down by the master, till the boy had read out his chapter: I observed the boy read a little oddly in the tone of the country, which made me the more attentive, because on enquiry, I found that the words were the same, and the orthography the same as in all our Bibles. I observed also the boy read it out with his eyes still on the book, and his head like a meer boy, moving from side to side, as the lines reach'd cross the columns of the book; his lesson was in the Cant. 5. 3. of which the words are these,

"I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on, I have wash'd my feet, how shall I defile them?" The boy read thus, with his eyes, as I say, full on the text.

"Chav a doffed my cooat, how shall I don't, chav a wash'd my veet, how shall I moil'em?"

How the dexterous dunce could form his mouth to express so readily the words, (which stood right printed in the book) in his country jargon, I could not but admire; I shall add to this another piece as diverting, which also happened in my knowledge at this very town of Yeovil, tho' some years ago.

There liv'd a good substantial family in the town, not far from the Angel Inn, a well known house, which was then, and I suppose is still the chief inn of the town. This family had a dog, which among his other good qualities, for which they kept him (for he was a rare house dog) had this bad one, that he was a most notorious thief; but withal, so cunning a dog, and managed himself so warily, that he preserved a mighty good reputation among the neighbourhood; as the family was well beloved in the town, so was the dog; he was known to be a very useful servant to them, especially in the night, when he was fierce as a lion, but in the day the gentlest, lovingest creature that could be, and as they said, all the neighbours had a good word for this dog.

It happen'd that the good wife, or mistress at the Angel Inn, had frequently missed several pieces of meat out of the pail, as they say, or powdering-tub, as we call it; and that some very large pieces; 'tis also to be observ'd the dog did not stay to eat (what he took) upon the spot, in which case some pieces, or bones, or fragments might be left, and so it might be discovered to be a dog; but he made cleaner work, and when he fastened upon a piece of meat he was sure to carry it quite away, to such retreats as he knew he could be safe in, and so feast upon it at leisure.

It happen'd at last, as with most thieves it does, that the inn-keeper was too cunning for him, and the poor dog was nabb'd, taken in the fact, and could make no defence.

Having found the thief, and got him in custody, the master of the house, a good humour'd fellow, and loth to disoblige the dog's master, by executing the criminal, as the dog-law directs; mitigates his sentence, and handled him as follows; first taking out his knife, he cut off both his ears, and then bringing him to the threshold, he chop'd off his tail; and having thus effectually dishonour'd the poor cur among his neighbours, he tyed a string about his neck, and a piece of paper to the string directed to his master, and with these witty west country verses on it.

To my honour'd master ---- Esq;

Hail master a cham a' com hoam
So cut as an ape, and tail have I noan,
For stealing of beef, and pork, out of the pail,
For thease they'v cut my ears, for th' wother my tail;
Nea measter, and us tell thee more nor that
And's come there again, my brains will be flat.

I could give many more accounts of the different dialects of the people of this country, in some of which they are really not to be understood, but the particulars have little or no diversion in them, they carry it such a length, that we see their j curing speech even upon their monuments, and grave-stones; As for example, even in some of the church-yards of the city of Bristol, I saw this excellent poetry after some other lines---

And when that thou doest hear of thick,
Think of the glass that runneth quick.

But I proceed into Devonshire, from Evil we came to Crookorn, thence to Chard, and from thence into the same road I was in before at Honiton.

This is a large and beautiful market-town, very populous, and well built, and is so very remarkably pav'd with small pebbles, that on either sides the way a little channel is left shouldered up on the sides of it; so that it holds a small stream of fine clear running water with a little square dipping place left at every door, so that every family in the town has a clear clean running river, (as it may be call'd) just at their own door, and this so much finer, so much pleasanter, and agreeable to look on, then that at placeName reg="Salisbury" cnty="Wiltshire">Salisbury, which they boast so much of, that in my opinion, there is no comparison.

Here we see the first of the great serge manufacture of Devonshire, a trade too great to be described in miniature, as it must be, if I undertake it here; and which takes up this whole county, which is the largest and most populous in England, Yorkshire excepted, (which ought to be esteem'd three counties, and is indeed divided as such into the East, West and North Riding;) but Devonshire one entire county, is so full of great towns, and those towns so full of people, and those people so universally employ 'd in trade, and manufactures, that not only it cannot be equall'd in England, but perhaps not in Europe.

In my travel thro' Dorsetshire, I ought to have observ'd that the biggest towns in that county sent no members to Parliament, and that the smallest did; that is to say, that Sherborn, Blandford, Winbornminster, Sturmister, and several other towns choose no members, whereas Weymouth, Melcom, and Bridport, were all burgess towns; but now we come to Devonshire, we find almost all the great towns, and some smaller choosing members also; It is true, there are some large populous towns that do not choose, but then there are so many that do, that the county seems to have no injustice, for they send up six and twenty members.

However, as I say above, there are several great towns which do not choose Parliament men, of which Bidiford is one, Crediton or Kirton another, Ilfracomb a third, but those excepted the principal towns in the county do all choose Members of Parliament.

Honiton is one of those, and may pass not only for a pleasant good town, as before, but stands in the best and pleasantest part of the whole county; and I cannot but recommend it to any gentlemen that travel this road, that if they please to observe the prospect for half a mile, till their coming down the hill, and to the entrance into Honiton, the view of the country is the most beautiful landskip in the world, a meer picture; and I do not remember the like in any one place in England; 'tis observable that the market of this town was kept originally on the Sunday, till it was chang'd by the direction of King John.

Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

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