Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 6, Part 2: Oxford, Bristol and Gloucester

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From hence I came to Oxford, a name known throughout the learned world; a city famous in our English history for several things, besides its being an university.

  1. So eminent for the goodness of its air, and healthy situation; that our Courts have no less than three times, if my information is right, retir'd hither, when London has been visited with the pestilence; and here they have been always safe.
  2. It has also several times been the retreat of our princes, when the rest of the kingdom has been embroil'd in war and rebellion; and here they have found both safety and support; at least, as long as the loyal inhabitants were able to protect them.
  3. It was famous for the noble defence of religion, which our first reformers and martyrs made here, in their learned and bold disputations against the Papists, in behalf of the Protestant religion; and their triumphant closing the debates, by laying down their lives for the truths which they asserted.
  4. It was likewise famous for resisting the attacks of arbitrary power, in the affair of Magdalen College, in King James's time; and the Fellows laying down their fortunes, tho' not their lives, in defence of liberty and property.

This, to use a scripture elegance, is that city of Oxford; the greatest (if not the most antient) university in this island of Great-Britain; and perhaps the most flourishing at this time, in men of polite learning, and in the most accomplish'd masters, in all sciences, and in all the parts of acquir'd knowledge in the world.

I know there is a long contest, and yet undetermin'd between the two English universities, about the antiquity of their foundation; and as they have not decided it themselves, who am I? and what is this work? that I should pretend to enter upon that important question, in so small a tract?

It is out of question, that in the largeness of the place, the beauty of situation, the number of inhabitants, and of schollars, Oxford has the advantage. But fame tells us, that as great and applauded men, as much recommended, and as much recommending themselves to the world, and as many of them have been produced from Cambridge, as from Oxford.

Oxford has several things as a university, which Cambridge has not; and Cambridge ought not to be so meanly thought of, but that it has several things in it, which cannot be found in Oxford. For example, the theater, the museum, or chamber of rarities, the Bodleian Library, the number of colleges, and the magnificence of their buildings are on the side of Oxford, yet Kings College Chappel, and College, is in favour of Cambridge; for as it is now edifying, it is likely to be the most admir'd in a few years of all the colleges of the world.

I have said something of Cambridge; I'll be as brief about Oxford as I can: It is a noble flourishing city, so possess'd of all that can contribute to make the residence of the scholars easy and comfortable, that no spot of ground in England goes beyond it. The situation is in a delightful plain, on the bank of a fine navigable river, in a plentiful country, and at an easy distance from the capital city, the port of the country. The city itself is large, strong, populous, and rich; and as it is adorn'd by the most beautiful buildings of the colleges, and halls, it makes the most noble figure of any city of its bigness in Europe.

To enter into the detail or description of all the colleges, halls, &. would be to write a history of Oxford, which in so little a compass as this work can afford, must be so imperfect, so superficial, and so far from giving a stranger a true idea of the place; that it seems ridiculous, even to think it can be to any ones satisfaction. However, a list of the names and establishments of the colleges may be useful, so take them as follows, according to the seniority of their foundation.


1. University College

This college was properly the university it self for about 345 years; being as they tell us, founded by King Alfred in the year 872; the old building on which the college now stands was erected by that king; after which viz. anno 1217. William Bishop of Durham, form'd it into a regular house and built the college, which however was for a long time call'd sometimes the college, sometimes the university, and by some the college of the university, there being at that time no other; till at length other colleges rising up in the same city; this was call'd University College, that is, the college which was the old university. It maintained at the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

1 Master,
8 Fellows,
1 Bible clark,
and Servants.
} In all 69.

2. Baliol College

Founded by John Baliol, father to John Baliol King of Scotland, and by Dame Der Verguilla his wife, who enlarged the foundation after her husbands decease. It maintained at the end of King James the Ist's reign,

1 Master,
12 Fellows,
13 Schollars,
4 Exhibitioners,
Students, and
} In all 136.

3. Merton College

Founded by William de Merton, Lord Chancellour to King Henry III. afterwards Bishop of Rochester. N.B. This college was first erected at Maldon in Surrey, near Kingston, anno 1260. and translated to Oxford ten years after, by the same founder. It maintains

1 Warden,
21 Fellows,
13 Schollars,
Students, and
} In all 79.

4. Excester College

Founded by Walter Stapleton Bishop of Excester, and Lord High Treasurer to King Edward II. afterwards beheaded by Queen Isabella mother to King Edward III. It was first call'd Stapleton-Hall, but afterwards on the benefaction of other inhabitants of Excester and of the county of Devon, it was ade a college. It maintained in the time of King James Ist,

1 Rector,
23 Fellows,
Students, and
other Servants
} In all 200.

5. Oriel College

Founded by King Edward II. anno 1327. but some say Adam Brown the king's almoner and who was the first provost, was also the founder, only that being afraid to be call'd to an account for so great wealth, he put the fame of it upon the king after his death. It had only a provost, 10 fellows, with some servants, at its first institution, but encreasing by subsequent benefactions, it maintained in King James's time who also incorporated the college,

1 Provost,
18 Fellows,
12 Exhibitioners,
Commoners, and
} In all 105.

6. Queen's College

Founded anno 1340. by Robert Eglesfield a private clergyman, only domestick chaplain to Queen Phillippa, Edward the 3d's queen; 'tis said the land it stood on was his own inheritance, and he built the house at his own charge; but begging her majesty to be the patroness of his charity, he call'd it Queens Hall, recommending the scholars at his death, to her majesty and the Queens of England her successors: He dyed before it was finish'd, having settled only 12 fellows, whereas he intended 70 schollarships besides, representing all together Christ his 12 apostles, and his 70 disciples; but this pious design of the good founder was so well approved on all hands, that it was presently encreased by several royal benefactors, and is now one of the best colleges in the university; also it is lately rebuilt, the old building being wholly taken down and the new being all of free stone, containing two noble squares with piazza's, supported by fine pillars; the great hall, the library, and a fine chappel, all contained in the same building, so that it is without comparison the most beautiful college in the university.

7. New College

Founded anno 1379. by William of Wickham Bishop of Winchester, the same who is said to have built Windsor Castle, for King Edward III; rebuilt the cathedral church at Winchester, and the fine school there, the scholars of which are the nursery to this fine college. He instituted here and they still remain,

1 Warden,
70 Fellows,
10 Chaplains
16 Choiristers,
1 Organist,
3 Clarks,
1 Sexton,
Students, &.
} In all 135.

N.B. This college is very rich.

8. Lincoln College

Founded anno 1420. by Richard Hemming Arch-Bishop of York, but left it imperfect; the foundation was finish'd by Thomas Rotherham Bishop of Lincoln, 59 years after. It maintains

1 Warden,
14 Fellows,
2 Chaplains,
4 Scholars,
Commoners, and
} In all 72.

9. All-Souls College

Founded anno 1437. by Henry Chichley Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, also Cardinal Pool was a great benefactor to it afterwards. It maintains

1 Warden,
40 Fellows,
2 Chaplains,
3 Clarks,
6 Choiristers,
Students, and
} In all 65.

10. Magdalen College

Founded 1459, by William Wainfleet Bishop of Winton, who built it in the stately figure we now see it in, very little having been added; and what has been rebuilt, has kept much to the founders first design; except a new appartment added by one Mr. Clarke a private gentleman, who serv'd many years in Parliament for the university; this new building is exceeding fine; as is now also, the library, towards which, another private gentleman, namely, Colonel Codrington, gave ten thousand pounds, and a good collection of books. It maintains

1 President,
40 Fellows,
30 Deans,
4 Chaplains,
3 Clarks.
16 Choristers,
3 Readers,
2 Humanists,
Commoners, and
} In all 151.

11. Brason-Nose College

First founded by William Smith Bishop of Lincoln, anno. 1512. but finish'd by Richard Sutton, Esq; a Cheshire gentleman, who perfected the buildings of the house; and both together gave considerably large revenues. It has also had great benefactors since, so that it now maintains

1 Principal,
20 Fellows,
Commoners, and
} In all 182.

12. Corpus-Christi College

Founded anno 1516. by Richard Fox Bishop of Winchester, who also endow'd it very liberally; and Hugh Oldham Bishop of Excester, advanc'd the best part of the building. It maintains

1 President,
20 Fellows,
20 Scholars,
2 Chaplains,
6 Clarks,
2 Choiristers,
Commoners, and
} In all 61.

13. Christ-Church College

Founded anno 1524. by Cardinal Woolsey. "Tis said he suppres'd 40 monasteries to build this magnificent college, but the king having demolish'd the cardinal, he could not finish it; so the king carried on the work, and establish'd the church to be the cathedral of the diocess of Oxford, ann. 1519. The revenues of this college are exceeding great, it is the largest college in the university, and the buildings are very noble and well finish'd, all of free-stone. It maintains

1 Dean,
8 Canons,
8 Chaplains,
8 Choiristers,
8 Singing-Men,
1 Organist,
24 Alms-Men,
Commoners, and
} In all 224.

The royal school at Winchester, is the nursery of this college, sending as some say, 25 scholars hither every 3 months.

14. Trinity College

Founded anno 1518. by Tho. Hatfield Bishop of Durham, and it was then call'd Durham College; but the bishop not living, Sir Thomas Pope carried on his design; and having seen the first foundation suppress'd, because it was a provision for monks, &. he restor'd it and endow'd it, dedicating it to the undivided Trinity, anno 1556. as it is to this day. It maintains

1 President,
12 Fellows,
12 Scholars,
Students, and
} In all 123.

15. St. John's College

First founded by Arch-Bishop Chichley, anno 1437. and call'd Bernards College; but being suppress'd as a house of religion in the reign of King Henry VIII. it was again founded as a college by Sir Thomas White a wealthy citizen and merchant of London, who new built the house, and richly endow'd it, to maintain as it now does,

1 President,
50 Fellows,
and Scholars,
1 Chaplain,
1 Clark,
Students, and
} In all 123.

16. Jesus College

The foundation of this college is corruptly assign'd to Hugh Paice, Esq; a Welch gentleman, who was indeed a benefactor to the foundation, and particularly gave 6ool . towards erecting the fabrick of the college; as did afterwards Sir Eubule Thitwall, who was principal; and this last in particular gave 8 fellowships, and 8 scholarships: But Queen Elizabeth was the foundress of this college, and endow'd it for a principal, adding 8 fellowships, and 8 scholarships. This Mr. Speed confirms, as also Mr. Dugdale, and it appears by the present endowment. By which it maintains

1 Principal,
16 Fellows,
16 Scholars,
Students, and
} In all 105.

17. Wadham College

Founded anno 1613. by Nicolas Wadham, Esq; and Dorothy his wife, and sister to the Lord Petre of Essex; they endow'd it with its whole maintenance, by which at this day it maintains

1 Warden,
15 Fellows,
15 Scholars,
2 Chaplains,
2 Clarks,
Students, and
} In all 125.

As therefore I did in the speaking of Cambridge, I shall now give a summary of what a traveller may be suppos'd to observe in Oxford, en passant , and leave the curious inquirer to examine the histories of the place, where they may meet with a compleat account of every part in the most particular manner, and to their full satisfaction.

There are in Oxford 17 colleges, and seven halls, some of these colleges as particularly, Christ Church, Magdalen, New College, Corpus Christi, Trinity, and St. John's will be found to be equal, if not superior to some universities abroad; whether we consider the number of the scholars, the greatness of their revenues, or the magnificence of their buildings.

I thought my self oblig'd to give a more particular account of the colleges here, than I have done of those at Cambridge; because some false and assuming accounts of them have been publish'd by others, who demand to be credited, and have impos'd their accounts upon the world, without sufficient authority.

Besides the colleges, some of which are extremely fine and magnificent; there are some publick buildings which make a most glorious appearance: The first and greatest of all is the theatre, a building not to be equall'd by any thing of its kind in the world; no, not in Italy itself: Not that the building of the theatre here is as large as Vespasian's or that of Trajan at Rome; neither would any thing of that kind be an ornament at this time, because not at all suited to the occasion, the uses of them being quite different.

We see by the remains that those amphitheatres, as they were for the the exercise of their publick shews, and to entertain a vast concourse of people, to see the fighting of the gladiators, the throwing criminals to the wild beasts, and the like, were rather great magnificent bear-gardens, than theatres, for the actors of such representations, as entertain'd the polite part of the world; consequently, those were vast piles of building proper for the uses for which they were built.

What buildings were then made use of in Rome for the fine performances of------who acted that of Terence, or who wrote that, we can not be certain of; but I think I have a great deal of reason to say, they have no remains of them, or of any one of them at Rome; or if they are, they come not near to this building.

The theatre at Oxford prepared for the publick exercises of the schools, and for the operations of the learned part of the English world only, is in its grandeur and magnificence, infinitely superiour to any thing in the world of its kind; it is a finish'd piece, as to its building, the front is exquisitely fine, the columns and pilasters regular, and very beautiful; 'tis all built of freestone: The model was approv'd by the best masters of architecture at that time, in the presence of K. Charles II. who was himself a very curious observer, and a good judge; Sir Christopher Wren was the director of the work, as he was the person that drew the model: Archbishop Sheldon, they tell us, paid for it, and gave it to the university: There is a world of decoration in the front of it, and more beautiful additions, by way of ornament, besides the antient inscription, than is to be seen any where in Europe; at least, where I have been.

The Bodleian Library is an ornament in it self worthy of Oxford, where its station is fix'd, and where it had its birth. The history of it at large is found in Mr. Speed, and several authors of good credit; containing in brief, that of the old library, the first publick one in Oxford, erected in Durham now Trinity College, by Richard Bishop of Durham, and Lord Treasurer to Ed. III. it was afterward joined to another, founded by Cobham Bishop of Worcester, and both enlarg'd by the bounty of Humphry Duke of Gloucester, founder of the divinity schools: I say, these libraries being lost, and the books embezzled by the many changes and hurries of the suppressions in the reign of Hen. VIII. the commissioner appointed by King Edw. VI. to visit the universities, and establish the Reformation; found very few valuable books or manuscripts left in them. In this state of things, one Sir Thomas Bodley, a wealthy and learned knight, zealous for the encouragement both of learning and religion, resolv'd to apply, both his time, and estate, to the erecting and furnishing a new library for the publick use of the university.

In this good and charitable undertaking, he went on so successfully, for so many years, and with such a profusion of expence, and obtain'd such assistances from all the encouragers of learning in his time, that having collected books and manuscripts from all parts of the learned world; he got leave of the university, (and well they might grant it) to place them in the old library room, built as is said, by the good Duke Humphry. To this great work, great additions have been since made in books, as well as contributions in money, and more are adding every day; and thus the work was brought to a head, the 8th of Nov. 1602, and has continued encreasing by the benefactions of great and learned men to this day: To remove the books once more and place them in beauty and splendor suitable to so glorious a collection, the late Dr. Radcliff has left a legacy of 4ooool . say some, others say not quite so much, to the building a new repository or library for the use of the university: This work is not yet built, but I am told 'tis likely to be such a building as will be greater ornament to the place than any yet standing in it.

I shall say nothing here of the benefactions to this library. Unless I had room to mention them all, it would be both partial and imperfect. And as there is a compleat catalogue of the books preparing, and that a list of the benefactors and what books they gave, will be speedily publish'd; it would be needless to say any thing of it here.

Other curious things in Oxford are, the museum, the chamber of rarities, the collection of coins, medals, pictures and antient inscriptions, the physick-garden, &.

The buildings for all these are most beautiful and magnificent, suitable for the majesty of the university, as well as to the glory of the benefactors.

It is no part of my work to enter into the dispute between the two universities about the antiquity of their foundation: But this I shall observe for the use of those who insist, that it was the piety of the Popish times to which we owe the first, institution of the university it self, the foundation and endowment of the particular colleges, and the encouragement arising to learning from thence, all which I readily grant; but would have them remember too, that tho' those foundations stood as they tell us eight hundred years, and that the Reformation as they say, is not yet of 200 years standing, yet learning has more encreas'd and the universities flourish'd more; more great scholars been produc'd, greater libraries been raised, and more fine buildings been erected in these 200 years than in the 800 years of Popery; and I might add, as many great benefactions have been given, notwithstanding this very momentous difference; that the Protestant's gifts are meerly acts of charity to the world, and acts of bounty, in reverence to learning and learned men, without the grand excitement of the health of their souls, and of the souls of their fathers, to be pray'd out of purgatory and get a ready admission into heaven, and the like.

Oxford, had for many ages the neighbourhood of the Court, while their kings kept up the royal palace at Woodstock; which tho' perhaps it was much discontinu'd, for the fate of the fair Rosamond, mistress to Henry Fitz Empress, or Henry II. of which history tells us something, and fable much more; yet we after find that several of the kings of England made the house and park at Woodstock, which was always fam'd for its pleasant situation, the place of their summer retreat for many years. Also for its being a royal palace before, even beyond the certainty of history, there is abundant reason to believe it; nay some will have it to have been a royal house before Oxford was an university. Dr. Plott allows it to have been so ever since King Alfred; and a manuscript in the Cotton Library confirms it; and that King Henry I. was not the founder of it, but only rebuilt it: And as for Henry II. he built only some additions; namely, that they call'd the Bower, which was a building in the garden (or labyrinth,) for the entertainment and security of his fair mistress, of whose safety he was it seems very careful. Notwithstanding which the queen found means to come at her, and as fables report, sent her out of the way by poison. The old buildings are now no more, nor so much as the name, but the place is the same and the natural beauty of it indeed, is as great as ever.

It is still a most charming situation, and 'tis still disputable after all that has been laid out, whether the country round gives more lustre to the building, or the building to the country. It has now chang'd masters, 'tis no more a royal house or palace for the king; but a mark of royal bounty to a great, and at that time powerful subject, the late Duke of Marlborough. The magnificence of the building does not here as at Canons, at Chatsworth, and at other palaces of the nobility, express the genius and the opulence of the possessor, but it represents the bounty, the gratitude, or what else posterity pleases to call it, of the English Nation, to the man whom they delighted to honour: Posterity when they view in this house the trophies of the Duke of Marlborough's fame, and the glories of his great atchievements will not celebrate his name only; but will look on Blenheim House, as a monument of the generous temper of the English Nation; who in so glorious a manner rewarded the services of those who acted for them as he did: Nor can any nation in Europe shew the like munificence to any general, no nor the greatest in the world; and not to go back to antient times, not the French nation to the great Luxemberg, or the yet greater Turenne: Nor the emperor to the great Eugene, or to the yet greater Duke of Lorrain; whose inimitable conduct saved the imperial city of Vienna, and rescued the whole house of Austria; retook the whole kingdom of Hungary, and was victorious in seaventeen pitch'd battles. I say none of these ever receiv'd so glorious a mark of their country's favour. Again, It is to be consider'd, that not this house only, built at the nation's expence, was thus given; but lands and pensions to the value of above one hundred thousand pounds sterl. and honours the greatest England can bestow: These are all honours indeed to the duke, but infinitely more to the honour of the nation.

The magnificent work then is a national building, and must for ever be call'd so. Nay, the dimensions of it will perhaps call upon us hereafter, to own it as such in order to vindicate the discretion of the builder, for making a palace too big for any British subject to fill, if he lives at his own expence. Nothing else can justify the vast design, a bridge or ryalto rather, of one arch costing 2ooool . and this, like the bridge at the Escurial in Spain, without a river. Gardens of near 100 acres of ground. Offices fit for 300 in family. Out-houses fit for the lodgings of a regiment of guards, rather than of livery servants. Also the extent of the fabrick, the avenues, the salons, galleries, and royal apartments; nothing below royalty and a prince, can support an equipage suitable to the living in such a house: And one may without a spirit of prophecy, say, it seems to intimate, that some time or other Blenheim may and will return to be as the old Woodstock once was, the palace of a king.

I shall enter no farther into the description, because 'tis yet a house unfurnish'd, and it can only be properly said what it is to be, not what it is: The stair-case of the house is indeed very great, the preparations of statues and paintings, and the ornament both of the building and finishing and furnishing are also great, but as the duke is dead, the duchess old, and the heir abroad, when and how it shall be all perform'd, requires more of the gift of prophecy than I am master of.

From Woodstock I could not refrain taking a turn a little northward as high as Banbury to the banks of the Charwell, to see the famous spot of ground where a vigorous rencounter happen'd between the Royalists in the grand Rebellion, and the Parliament's forces, under Sir William Waller; I mean at Croprady Bridge, near Banbury. It was a vigorous action, and in which the king's forces may be said fairly to out-general their enemies, which really was not always their fate: I had the plan of that action before me, which I have had some years, and found out every step of the ground as it was disputed on both sides by inches, where the horse engaged and where the foot; where Waller lost his cannon, and where he retired; and it was evident to me the best thing Waller cou'd do, (tho' superiour in number) was to retreat as he did, having lost half his army.

From thence, being within eight miles of Edge-Hill, where the first battle in that war happen'd, I had the like pleasure of viewing the ground about Keinton, where that bloody battle was fought; it was evident, and one could hardly think of it without regret, the king with his army had an infinite advantage by being posted on the top of the hill, that he knew that the Parliament's army were under express orders to fight, and must attack him lest his majesty who had got two days march of them, should advance to London, where they were out of their wits for fear of him.

The king I say knowing this, 'tis plain he had no business but to have intrench'd, to fight upon the eminence where he was posted, or have detach'd 15000 men for London, while he had fortify'd himself with a strong body upon the hill: But on the contrary, his majesty scorning to be pursued by his subjects, his army excellently appointed, and full of courage, not only halted, but descended from his advantages and offer'd them battle in the plain field, which they accepted.

Here I cannot but remark that this action is perhaps the only example in the world, of a battle so furious, so obstinate, manag'd with such skill, every regiment behaving well, and doing their duty to the utmost, often rallying when disorder'd, and indeed fighting with the courage and order of veterans; and yet not one regiment of troops that had ever seen the face of an enemy, or so much as been in arms before. It's true, the king had rather the better of the day; and yet the rebel army though their left wing of horse was entirely defeated, behav'd so well, that at best it might be call'd a drawn battle; and the loss on both sides was so equal, that it was hard to know who lost most men.

But to leave the war, 'tis the place only I am taking notice of. From hence I turn'd south, for I was here on the edge both of Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire: But I turned south, and coming down by and upon the west side of Oxfordshire, to Chipping-Norton, we were shew'd Roll-Richt-Stones, a second Stone-Henge; being a ring of great stones standing upright, some of them from 5 to 7 foot high.

I leave the debate about the reason and antiquity of this antient work to the dispute of the learned, who yet cannot agree about them any more than about Stone-Henge in Wiltshire. Cambden will have them be a monument of victory, and the learned Dr. Charleton is of the same mind. Mr. Cambden also is willing to think that they were erected by Rollo the Dane, because of the town of Rollwright, from which they are call'd Rolle Right or Rolle Richt Stones. Aiston wou'd have them to be a monument of the dead, perhaps kill'd in battle; and that a great stone 9 foot high, at a distance, was over a king; and 5 other great ones likewise at a distance, were great commanders and the like.

The ingenious and learned Dr. Plot wou'd have us think it was a cirque or ring for their field elections of a king, something like the Dyetts on horseback in Poland; that they met in the open field to choose a king, and that the persons in competition were severally placed in such a cirque, surrounded by the suffrages or voters; and that when they were chosen, the person chosen was inaugurated here.

Thus I leave it as I find it: for antiquity as I have often said is not my business in this work; let the occasion of those stones be what it will, they are well worth notice; especially to those who are curious in the search of antiquity.

We were very merry at passing thro' a village call'd Bloxham, on the occasion of a meeting of servants for hire, which the people there call a Mop; 'tis generally in other places vulgarly call'd a Statute, because founded upon a statute law in Q. Elizabeth's time for regulating of servants. This I christn'd by the name of a Jade-Fair, at which some of the poor girls began to be angry, but we appeas'd them with better words. I have observ'd at some of these fairs, that the poor servants distinguish themselves by holding something in their hands, to intimate what labour they are particularly qualify'd to undertake; as the carters a whip, the labourers a shovel, the wood men a bill, the manufacturers a wool comb, and the like. But since the ways and manners of servants are advanc'd as we now find them to be, those Jade Fairs are not so much frequented as formerly, tho' we have them at several towns near London; as at Enfield, Waltham, Epping, &.

Here we saw also the famous parish of Brightwell, of which it was observed, that there had not been an alehouse nor a dissenter from the church, nor any quarrel among the inhabitants that rise so high as to a suit of law within the memory of man. But they could not say it was so still, especially as to the alehouse part; tho' very much is still preserved, as to the unity and good neighbourhood of the parishioners, and their conformity to the church.

Being now on the side of Warwickshire, as is said before, I still went south, and passing by the four Shire Stones, we saw where the counties of Oxford, Warwick, and Gloucester joyn all in a point; one stone standing in each county, and the fourth touching all three.

Hence we came to the famous Cotswold-Downs, so eminent for the best of sheep, and finest wool in England: It was of the breed of these sheep. And fame tells us that some were sent by King Rich. I. into Spain, and that from thence the breed of their sheep was raised, which now produce so fine a wool, that we are oblig'd to fetch it from thence, for the making our finest broad cloaths; and which we buy at so great a price.

In viewing this part of England, and such things as these, and considering how little notice other writers had taken of them, it occur'd to my thoughts that it wou'd be a very useful and good work, if any curious observer would but write an account of England, and oblige himself to speak of such things only, as all modern writers had said nothing of, or nothing but what was false and imperfect. And there are doubtless so many things, so insignificant, and yet so omitted, that I am persuaded such a writer would not have wanted materials; nay, I will not promise that even this work, tho' I am as careful as room for writing will allow, shall not leave enough behind, for such a gleaning to make it self richer than the reapings that have gone before; and this not altogether from the meer negligence and omissions of the writers, as from the abundance of matter, the growing buildings, and the new discoveries made in every part of the country.

Upon these downs we had a clear view of the famous old Roman high-way, call'd the Fosse, which evidently crosses all the middle part of England, and is to be seen and known (tho' in no place plainer than here,) quite from the Bath to Warwick, and thence to Leicester, to Newark, to Lincoln, and on to Barton, upon the bank of Humber.

Here it is still the common road, and we follow'd it over the downs to Cirencester. We observ'd also how several cross roads as antient as it self, and perhaps more antient, joyn'd it, or branch'd out of it; some of which the people have by antient usage tho' corruptly call'd also Fosses, making the word Fosse as it were a common name for all roads. For example, The Ackemanstreet which is an antient Saxon road leading from Buckinghamshire through Oxfordshire to the Fosse, and so to the Bath; this joyns the Fosse between Burford and Cirencester. It is worth observing how this is said to be call'd Ackeman's Street; namely, by the Saxon way of joyning their monosyllables into significant words, as thus, ackman or achman a man of aching limbs, in English a cripple travelling to the Bath for cure: So Achmanstreet was the road or street for diseased people going to the Bath; and the city of Bath was on the same account call'd Achmanchester, or the city of diseased people; or, Urbs Ægrotorum hominum. Thus much for antiquity. There are other roads or fosses which joyn this grand highway, viz. Grinnes Dike, from Oxfordshire, Wattle Bank, or Aves Ditch from ditto. and the Would Way, call'd also the Fosse crossing from Gloucester to Cirencester.

In passing this way we very remarkably cross'd four rivers within the length of about 10 miles, and enquiring their names, the country people call'd them every one the Thames, which mov'd me a little to enquire the reason, which is no more than this; namely, that these rivers, which are, the Lech, the Coln, the Churn, and the Isis; all rising in the Cotswould Hills and joyning together and making a full stream at Lechlade near this place, they become one river there, and are all call'd Thames, or vulgarly Temms; also beginning there to be navigable, you see very large barges at the key, taking in goods for London, which makes the town of Lechlade a very populous large place.

On the Churne one of those rivers stands Cirencester, or Ciciter for brevity, a very good town, populous and rich, full of clothiers, and driving a great trade in wool; which as likewise at Tetbury, is brought from the midland counties of Leicester, Northampton, and Lincoln, where the largest sheep in England are found, and where are few manufactures; it is sold here in quantities, so great, that it almost exceeds belief: It is generally bought here by the clothiers of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, for the supply of that great clothing trade; of which I have spoken already: They talk of 5000 packs in a year.

As we go on upon the Fosse, we see in the vale on the left hand, the antient town of Malmsbury, famous for a monastary, and a great church, built out of the ruins of it; and which I name in meer veneration to that excellent, and even best of our old historians Gulielmus Malmsburiensis, to whom the world is so much oblig'd, for preserving the history and antiquities of this kingdom.

We next arriv'd at Marshfield, a Wiltshire clothing town, very flourishing and where we cross'd the great road from London to Bristol, as at Cirencester, we did that from London, to Gloucester; and in the evening keeping still the Fosse-Way, we arriv'd at Bath.

My description of this city would be very short, and indeed it would have been a very small city, (if at all a city) were it not for the hot baths here, which give both name and fame to the place. The antiquity of this place, and of the baths here, is doubtless very great, tho' I cannot come in to the inscription under the figure, said to be of a British king, placed in that call'd the King's Bath, which says that this King Bladud, (Mr. Cambden calls him Blayden, or Blaydon Cloyth; that is, the south-sayer) found out the use of these baths, 300 years before our Saviour's time. I say, I cannot come into this, because even the discovery is ascribed to the magick of the day, not their judgment in the physical virtue of minerals, and mineral-waters. The antiquities of this place are farther treated of by Mr. Cambden, as the virtues of the waters, are, by several of the learned members of that faculty, who have wrote largely on that subject; as particularly, Dr.------, Dr. Baynard, Dr.------ and others.

There remains little to add, but what relates to the modern customs, the gallantry and diversions of that place, in which I shall be very short; the best part being but a barren subject, and the worst part meriting rather a satyr, than a description. It has been observ'd before, that in former times this was a resort hither for cripples, and the place was truly Urbs Ægrotorum Hominum: And we see the crutches hang up at the several baths, as the thank-offerings of those who have come hither lame, and gone away cur'd. But now we may say it is the resort of the sound, rather than the sick; the bathing is made more a sport and diversion, than a physical prescription for health; and the town is taken up in raffling, gameing, visiting, and in a word, all sorts of gallantry and levity.

The whole time indeed is a round of the utmost diversion. In the morning you (supposing you to be a young lady) are fetch'd in a close chair, dress'd in your bathing cloths, that is, stript to the smock, to the Cross-Bath. There the musick plays you into the bath, and the women that tend you, present you with a little floating wooden dish, like a bason; in which the lady puts a handkerchief, and a nosegay, of late the snuff-box is added, and some patches; tho' the bath occasioning a little perspiration, the patches do not stick so kindly as they should.

Here the ladies and the gentlemen pretend to keep some distance, and each to their proper side, but frequently mingle here too, as in the King and Queens Bath, tho' not so often; and the place being but narrow, they converse freely, and talk, rally, make vows, and sometimes love; and having thus amus'd themselves an hour, or two, they call their chairs and return to their lodgings.

The rest of the diversion here, is the walks in the great church, and at the raffling shops, which are kept (like the cloyster at Bartholomew Fair,) in the churchyard, and ground adjoyning. In the afternoon there is generally a play, tho' the decorations are mean, and the performances accordingly; but it answers, for the company here (not the actors) make the play, to say no more. In the evening there is a ball, and dancing at least twice a week, which is commonly in the great town hall, over the market-house; where there never fails in the season to be a great deal of very good company.

There is one thing very observable here, which tho' it brings abundance of company to the Bath, more than ever us'd to be there before; yet it seems to have quite inverted the use and virtue of the waters, (viz.) that whereas for seventeen hundred or two thousand years, if you believe King Bladud, the medicinal virtue of these waters had been useful to the diseased people by bathing in them, now they are found to be useful also, taken into the body; and there are many more come to drink the waters, than to bathe in them; nor are the cures they perform this way, less valuable than the outward application; especially in colicks, ill digestion, and scorbutick distempers. This discovery they say, is not yet above fifty years old, and is said to be owing to the famous Dr. Radcliff, but I think it must be older, for I have my self drank the waters of the Bath above fifty years ago: But be it so, 'tis certain, 'tis a modern discovery, compar'd to the former use of these waters.

As to the usefulness of these waters to procure conception, and the known story of the late King James's queen here, the famous monument in the Cross-Bath gives an account of it. Those that are enclin'd to give faith to such things, may know as much of it at the Santa Casa of Loretto, as here; and in Italy I believe it is much more credited.

There is nothing in the neighbourhood of this city worth notice, except it be Chipping-Norton-Lane, where was a fight between the forces of King James II. and the Duke of Monmouth, in which the latter had plainly the better; and had they push'd their advantage, might have made it an entire victory. On the N.W. of this city up a very steep hill, is the King's Down, where sometimes persons of quality who have coaches go up for the air: But very few people care to have coaches here, it being a place where they have but little room to keep them, and less to make use of them. And the hill up to the Downs is so steep, that the late Queen Anne was extremely frighted in going up, her coachman stopping to give the horses breath, and the coach wanting a dragstaff, run back in spight of all the coachman's skill; the horses not being brought to strain the harness again, or pull together for a good while, and the coach putting the guards behind it into the utmost confusion, till some of the servants setting their heads and shoulders to the wheels, stopt them by plain force.

When one is upon King-Down, and has pass'd all the steeps and difficulties of the ascent, there is a plain and pleasant country for many miles, into Gloucestershire, and two very noble palaces, the one built by Mr. Blathwait, late Secretary of War; and the other is call'd Badminton, the mansion of the most noble family of the Dukes of Beaufort, the present duke being under age. The lustre and magnificence of this palace is magnify'd by the surprise one is at, to see such a house in such a retreat, so difficult of access, at least this way, so near to so much company, and yet, so much alone.

Following the course of the river Avon, which runs thro' Bath, we come in ten miles to the city of Bristol, the greatest, the richest, and the best port of trade in Great Britain, London only excepted.

The merchants of this city not only have the greatest trade, but they trade with a more entire independency upon London, than any other town in Britain. And 'tis evident in this particular, (viz.) That whatsoever exportations they make to any part of the world, they are able to bring the full returns back to their own port, and can dispose of it there.

This is not the case in any other port in England. But they are often oblig'd to ship part of the effects in the ports abroad, on the ships bound to London; or to consign their own ships to London, in order both to get freight, as also to dispose of their own cargoes.

But the Bristol merchants as they have a very great trade abroad, so they have always buyers at home, for their returns, and that such buyers that no cargo is too big for them. To this purpose, the shopkeepers in Bristol who in general are all wholesale men, have so great an inland trade among all the western counties, that they maintain carriers just as the London tradesmen do, to all the principal countries and towns from Southampton in the south, even to the banks of the Trent north; and tho' they have no navigable river that way, yet they drive a very great trade through all those counties.

Add to this, That, as well by sea, as by the navigation of two great rivers, the Wye, and the Severn, they have the whole trade of South-Wales, as it were, to themselves, and the greatest part of North-Wales; and as to their trade to Ireland, it is not only great in it self, but is prodigiously encreas'd in these last thirty years, since the Revolution, notwithstanding the great encrease and encroachment of the merchants at Liverpool, in the Irish trade, and the great devastations of the war; the kingdom of Ireland it self being wonderfully encreas'd since that time.

The greatest inconveniences of Bristol, are, its situation, and the tenacious folly of its inhabitants; who by the general infatuation, the pretence of freedoms and priviledges, that corporation-tyranny, which prevents the flourishing and encrease of many a good town in England, continue obstinately to forbid any, who are not subjects of their city soveraignty, (that is to say, freemen,) to trade within the chain of their own liberties; were it not for this, the city of Bristol, would before now, have swell'd and encreas'd in buildings and inhabitants, perhaps to double the magnitude it was formerly of.

This is evident by this one particular; There is one remarkable part of the city where the liberties extend not at all, or but very little without the city gate. Here and no where else, they have an accession of new inhabitants; and abundance of new houses, nay, some streets are built, and the like 'tis probable wou'd have been at all the rest of the gates, if liberty had been given. As for the city itself, there is hardly room to set another house in it, 'tis so close built, except in the great square, the ground about which is a little too subject to the hazard of inundations: So that people do not so freely enlarge that way. The Tolsey of this city, (so they call their Exchange where their merchants meet,) has been a place too of great business, yet so straighten'd, so crowded, and so many ways inconvenient, that the merchants have been obliged to do less business there, than indeed the nature of their great trade requires; They have therefore long solicited, a sufficient authority of Parliament, empowering them to build a Royal Exchange; by which, I mean a place suitable and spatious, fit for the accommodation of the merchants, and for the dispatch of business; and to be impowered to pull down the adjacent buildings for that purpose: But there is not much progress yet made in this work, tho' if finish'd, it would add much to the beauty of the city of Bristol. The Hot Well, or, the water of St. Vincents Rock, is not in the city, but at the confluence of the two little rivers, and on the north side of the stream. It is but a few years since this spring lay open at the foot of the rock, and was covered by the salt water at every tide, and yet it preserved both its warmth and its mineral virtue entire.

The rock tho' hard to admiration, has since that been work'd down, partly by strength of art, and partly blown in pieces by gunpowder, and a plain foundation made for building a large house upon it, where they have good apartments for entertaining diseased persons. The well is secur'd, and a good pump fix'd in it, so that they have the water pure and unmix'd from the spring it self.

The water of this well possess'd its medicinal quality no doubt from its original, which may be as antient as the Deluge. But what is strangest of all is, that it was never known before; it is now famous for being a specifick in that otherwise incurable disease the diabetes; and yet was never known to be so, 'till within these few years; namely, thirty years, or thereabout. There are in Bristol 21 parish churches, many meeting-houses, especially Quakers, one (very mean) cathedral, the reason of which, may be, that it is but a very modern bishoprick. It is supposed they have an hundred thousand inhabitants in the city, and within three miles of its circumference; and they say above three thousand sail of ships belong to that port, but of the last I am not certain.

'Tis every remarkable, That this city is so plentifully supply'd with coals, tho' they are all brought by land carriage, that yet they are generally bought by the inhabitants, laid down at their doors, after the rate of from seven to nine shillings per chaldron.

The situation of the city is low, but on the side of a rising hill. The ground plat of it is said very much to resemble that of old Rome, being circular, with something greater diameter one way than another, but not enough to make it oval: And the river cutting off one small part, as it were, a sixth, or less from the rest.

The bridge over the Avon is exceeding strong, the arches very high, because of the depth of water, and the buildings so close upon it, that in passing the bridge, you see nothing but an entire well built street. The tide of flood rises here near 6 fathom, and runs very sharp.

They draw all their heavy goods here on sleds, or sledges without wheels, which kills a multitude of horses; and the pavement is worn so smooth by them, that in wet-weather the streets are very slippery, and in frosty-weather 'tis dangerous walking.

From this city I resolv'd to coast the marshes or border of Wales, especially South-Wales, by tracing the rivers Wye, and Lug, into Monmouth and Herefordshire. But I chang'd this resolution on the following occasion; namely, the badness and danger of the ferries over the Severn, besides, having formerly travers'd these counties, I can without a re-visit, speak to every thing that is considerable in them, and shall do it in a letter by itself. But in the mean time, I resolv'd to follow the course of the famous river Severn, by which I should necessarily see the richest, most fertile, and most agreeable part of England; the bank of the Thames only excepted.

From Bristol West, you enter the county of Gloucester, and keeping the Avon in view, you see King Road, where the ships generally take their departure, as ours at London do from Graves-End; and Hung Road, where they notify their arrival, as ours for London do in the Downs: The one lyes within the Avon, the other, in the open sea or the Severn; which is there call'd the Severn Sea. Indeed great part of Bristol is in the bounds of Gloucestershire, tho' it be a county of itself. From hence going away a little north west, we come to the Pill, a convenient road for shipping, and where therefore they generally run back for Ireland or for Wales. There is also a little farther, an ugly, dangerous, and very inconvenient ferry over the Severn, to the mouth of Wye; namely, at Aust; the badness of the weather, and the sorry boats, at which, deterr'd us from crossing there.

As we turn north towards Gloucester, we lose the sight of the Avon, and in about two miles exchange it for an open view of the Severn Sea, which you see on the west side, and which is as broad as the ocean there; except, that you see two small islands in it, and that looking N.W. you see plainly the coast of South Wales; and particularly a little nearer hand, the shore of Monmouthshire. Then as you go on, the shores begin to draw towards one another, and the coasts to lye parallel; so that the Severn appears to be a plain river, or an æstuarium , somewhat like the Humber, or as the Thames is at the Nore, being 4 to 5 and 6 miles over; and to give it no more than its just due, a most raging, turbulent, furious place. This is occasion'd by those violent tides call'd the Bore, which flow here sometimes six or seven foot at once, rolling forward like a mighty wave: So that the stern of a vessel shall on a sudden be lifted up six or seven foot upon the water, when the head of it is fast a ground. After coasting the shore about 4 miles farther, the road being by the low salt marshes, kept at a distance from the river: We came to the ferry call'd Ast Ferry, or more properly Aust Ferry, or Aust Passage, from a little dirty village call'd Aust; near which you come to take boat.

This ferry lands you at Beachly in Monmouthshire, so that on the out-side 'tis call'd Aust Passage, and on the other side, 'tis call'd Beachly-Passage. From whence you go by land two little miles to Chepstow, a large port town on the river Wye. But of that part I shall say more in its place.

When we came to Aust, the hither side of the Passage, the sea was so broad, the fame of the Bore of the tide so formidable, the wind also made the water so rough, and which was worse, the boats to carry over both man and horse appear'd (as I have said above) so very mean, that in short none of us car'd to venture: So we came back, and resolv'd to keep on the road to Gloucester. By the way we visited some friends at a market-town, a little out of the road, call'd Chipping-Sodbury, a place of note for nothing that I saw, but the greatest cheese market in all that part of England; or, perhaps, any other, except Atherstone, in Warwickshire.

Hence we kept on north, passing by Dursley to Berkley-Castle; the antient seat of the Earls of Berkley, a noble tho' antient building, and a very fine park about it. The castle gives title to the earl, and the town of Dursly to the heir apparent; who during the life of his father, is call'd the Lord Dursley. I say nothing of the dark story of King Edward II. of England; who, all our learned writers agree, was murther'd in this castle: As Richard II. was in that of Pontefract, in Yorkshire; I say I take no more notice of it here, for history is not my present business: 'Tis true, they show the apartments where they say that king was kept a prisoner: But they do not admit that he was kill'd there. The place is rather antient, than pleasant or healthful, lying low, and near the water; but 'tis honour'd by its present owner, known to the world for his many services to his country, and for a fame, which our posterity will read of, in all the histories of our times.

From hence to Gloucester, we see nothing considerable, but a most fertile, rich country, and a fine river, but narrower as you go northward, 'till a little before we come to Gloucester it ceases to be navigable by ships of burthen, but continues to be so, by large barges, above an hundred miles farther; not reckoning the turnings and windings of the river: Besides that, it receives several large and navigable rivers into it.

Gloucester is an antient middling city, tolerably built, but not fine; was fortify'd and stood out obstinately against its lord King Charles the Ist, who befieged it to his great loss in the late Rebellion, for which it had all its walls and works demolish'd; for it was then very strong: Here is a large stone bridge over the Severn, the first next the sea; and this, and the cathedral is all I see worth recording of this place. Except that the late eminent and justly famous Sir Thomas Powel, commonly call'd Judge Powel, one of the judges of the King's Bench Court; and contemporary with Sir John Holt lived and dyed in this city, being one of the greatest lawyers of the age.

The cathedral is an old venerable pile, with very little ornament within or without, yet 'tis well built; and tho' plain, it makes together, especially the tower, a very handsome appearance. The inhabitants boast much of its antiquity, and tell us, that a bishop and preachers were plac'd here, in the very infancy of the Christian religion; namely, in the year 189. But this I take ad referendum. The cathedral they tell us, has been three times burnt to the ground.

The first Protestant bishop of this church, was, that truly reverend and religious Dr. John Hooper, set up by King Edward VI. and afterwards martyr'd for his religion in the Marian tyranny: Being burnt to death in the cimitary of his own cathedral.

The whispering place in this cathedral, has for many years pass'd for a kind of wonder; but since, experience has taught us the easily comprehended reason of the thing: And since there is now the like in the church of St. Paul, the wonder is much abated. However, the verses written over this whispering place, intimate, that it has really past for something miraculous; and as the application rather shows religion, than philosophy in the author, the reader may not like them the worse.

Doubt not, that God who sits on high,
Thy secret prayers can hear;
When a dead wall thus cunningly,
Conveys soft whispers to thine ear.

From Gloucester we kept the east shore of the Severn, and in twelve miles came to Tewksbury, a large and very populous town situate upon the river Avon, this is call'd the Warwickshire Avon, to distinguish it from the Avon at Bristol and others, for there are several rivers in England of this name; and some tell us that avona was an old word in the British tongue signifying a river.

This town is famous for a great manufacture of stockings, as are also, the towns of Pershore, and Evesham, or Esham; on the same river.

The great old church at Tewksbury may indeed be call'd the largest private parish church in England; I mean, that is not a collegiate or cathedral church. This town is famous for the great, and as may be said, the last battle, fought between the two houses of Lancaster and York, in which Edward IV. was conqueror; and in, or rather after which, Prince Edward the only surviving son of the House of Lancaster, was kill'd by the cruel hands of Richard the king's brother; the same afterwards Richard III. or Crookback Richard. In this place begins that fruitful and plentiful country which was call'd the Vale of Esham, which runs all along the banks of the Avon, from Tewksbury to Pershore, and to Stratford upon Avon, and in the south part of Warwickshire; and so far, (viz. to Stratford,) the river Avon is navigable.

At this last town, going into the parish church, we saw the monument of old Shakespear, the famous poet, and whose dramatick performances so justly maintain his character among the British poets; and perhaps will do so to the end of time. The busto of his head is in the wall on the north side of the church, and a flat grave-stone covers the body, in the isle just under him. On which grave-stone these lines are written.

Good friend, for Jesus's sake, forbear
To move the dust that resteth here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he, that moves my bones.

The navigation of this river Avon is an exceeding advantage to all this part of the country, and also to the commerce of the city of Bristol. For by this river they drive a very great trade for sugar, oil, wine, tobacco, iron, lead, and in a word, all heavy goods which are carried by water almost as far as Warwick; and in return the corn, and especially the cheese, is brought back from Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, to Bristol.

This same vale continuing to extend it self in Warwickshire, and under the ridge of little mountains call'd Edge-Hill, is there call'd the vale of Red-Horse. All the grounds put together, make a most pleasant corn country, especially remarkable for the goodness of the air, and fertility of the soil.

Gloucestershire must not be pass'd over, without some account of a most pleasant and fruitful vale which crosses part of the country, from east to west on that side of the Cotswold, and which is call'd Stroud-Water; famous not for the finest cloths only, but for dying those cloths of the finest scarlets, and other grain colours that are any where in England; perhaps in any part of the world: Here I saw two pieces of broad cloth made, one scarlet, the other crimson in grain, on purpose to be presented, the one to His Majesty King George, and the other to the prince; when the former was Elector of Hanover, and the latter, electoral prince: And it was sent to Hanover, presented accordingly, and very graciously accepted. The cloth was valued including the colour, at 45s . per yard: Indeed it was hardly to be valued, nothing so rich being ever made in England before, at least as I was informed.

The clothiers lye all along the banks of this river for near 20 miles, and in the town of Stroud, which lyes in the middle of it, as also at Paynswick, which is a market-town at a small distance north. The river makes its way to the Severn about 5 miles below Gloucester.

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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