Picture of William Cobbett

William Cobbett

places mentioned

Oct. 7th Oct to Nov. 30th, 1822: Hampshire, Surrey, and Sussex

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October 7 to I0, 1822.

AT Uphusband, a little village in a deep dale, about five miles to the north of Andover, and about three miles to the south of the hills at Highclere . The wheat is sown here, and up, and, as usual, at this time of the year, looks very beautiful. The wages of the labourers brought down to six shillings a week ! a horrible thing to think of; but, I hear, it is still worse in Wiltshire.

October 11.

Went to Weyhill fair, at which I was about forty-six years ago, when I rode a little pony, and remember how proud I was on the occasion; but, I also remember, that my brothers, two out of three of whom were older than I, thought it unfair that my father selected me; and my own reflections upon the occasion have never been forgotten by me. The 11th of October is the Sheep-fair. About ?300,000 used, some few years ago, to be carried home by the sheep-sellers. To-day, less, perhaps, than ?70,000 and yet the rents of these sheep-sellers are, perhaps, as high, on an average, as they were then. The countenances of the farmers were descriptive of their ruinous stare. I never, in all my life, beheld a more mournful scene. There is a horse-fair upon another part of the down; and there I saw horses keeping pace in depression with the sheep. A pretty numerous group of tax-eaters, from Andover and the neighbourhood, were the only persons that had smiles on their faces. I was struck with a young farmer trotting a horse backward and forward to show him off to a couple of gentlemen, who were bargaining for the horse, and one of whom finally purchased him. These gentlemen were two of our "dead-weight," and the horse was that on which the farmer had pranced in the Yeomanry Troop ! Here is a turn of things! Distress; pressing distress; dread of the bailiffs alone could have made the farmer sell his horse. If he had the firmness to keep the tears out of his eyes, his heart must have paid the penalty. What, then, must have been his feelings, if he reflected, as I did, that the purchase-money for the horse had first gone from his pocket into that of the dead-weight ! And, further, that the horse had pranced about for years for the purpose of subduing all opposition to those very measures, which had finally dismounted the owner!

From this dismal scene, a scene formerly so joyous, we set off back to Uphusband pretty early, were overtaken by the rain and got a pretty good soaking. The land along here is very good. This whole country has a chalk bottom; but, in the valley on the right of the hill over which you go from Andover to Weyhill, the chalk lies far from the top, and the soil has few flints in it. It is very much like the land about Malden and Maidstone. Met with a farmer who said he must be ruined, unless another "good war" should come! This is no uncommon notion. They saw high prices with war, and they thought that the war was the cause.

October 22.

Went to dine with the farmers at Salisbury, and got back to Uphusband by ten o'clock at night, two hours later than I have been out of bed for a great many months. In quitting Andover to go to Salisbury (seventeen miles from each other) you cross the beautiful valley that goes winding down amongst the hills to Stockbridge. You then rise into the open country that very soon becomes a part of that large tract of downs called Salisbury Plain. You are not in Wiltshire, however, till you are about half the way to Salisbury. You leave Tidworth away to your right. This is the seat of Asheton Smith; and the fine coursing that I once saw there I should have called to recollection with pleasure, if I could have forgotten the hanging of the men at Winchester last spring for resisting one of this Smith's gamekeepers! This Smith's son and a Sir John Pollen are the members for Andover. They are chosen by the corporation. One of the corporation, an attorney named Etwall, is a commissioner of the lottery, or something in that way. It would be a curious thing to ascertain how large a portion of the "public services" is performed by the voters in boroughs and their relations. These persons are singularly kind to the nation. They not only choose a large part of the "representatives of the people"; but they come in person, or by deputy, and perform a very considerable part of the "public services ." I should like to know how many of them are employed about the Salt-Tax , for instance. A list of these public-spirited persons might be produced to show the benefit of the boroughs. Before you get to Salisbury, you cross the valley that brings down a little river from Amesbury. It is a very beautiful valley. There is a chain of farm-houses and little churches all the way up it. The farms consist of the land on the flats on each side of the river, running out to a greater or less extent, at different places, towards the hills and downs. Not far above Amesbury is a little village called Netherhaven, where I once saw an acre of hares . We were coursing at Everly, a few miles off; and one of the party happening to say that he had seen "an acre of hares" at Mr. Hicks Beech's at Netherhaven, we, who wanted to see the same, or to detect our informant, sent a messenger to beg a day's coursing, which being granted, we went over the next day. Mr. Beech received us very politely. He took us into a wheat stubble close by his paddock; his son took a gallop round, cracking his whip at the same time; the hares (which were very thickly in sight before) started all over the field, ran into a flock like sheep; and we all agreed that the flock did cover an acre of ground . Mr. Beech had an old greyhound, that I saw lying down in the shrubbery close by the house, while several hares were sitting and skipping about, with just as much confidence as cats sit by a dog in a kitchen or a parlour. Was this instinct in either dog or hares? Then, mind, this same greyhound went amongst the rest to course with us out upon the distant hills and lands; and then he ran as eagerly as the rest, and killed the hares with as little remorse. Philosophers will talk a long while before they will make men believe that this was instinct alone . I believe that this dog had much more reason than half of the Cossacks have; and I am sure he had a great deal more than many a negro that I have seen.

In crossing this valley to go to Salisbury, I thought of Mr. Beech's hares; but I really have neither thought of nor seen any game with pleasure, since the hanging of the two men at Winchester. If no other man will petition for the repeal of the law under which those poor fellows suffered, I will. But let us hope that there will be no need of petitioning. Let us hope that it will be repealed without any express application for it. It is curious enough that laws of this sort should increase , while Sir James Mackintosh is so resolutely bent on "softening the criminal code "! The company at Salisbury was very numerous; not less than five hundred farmers were present. They were very attentive to what I said, and, which rather surprised me, they received very docilely what I said against squeezing the labourers. A fire, in a farm-yard, had lately taken place near Salisbury; so that the subject was a ticklish one. But it was my very first duty to treat of it, and I was resolved, be the consequence what it might, not to neglect that duty.

October 27 to 29.

At Burghclere. Very nasty weather. On the 28th the fox-hounds came to throw off at Penwood , in this parish. Having heard that Dundas would be out with the hounds, I rode to the place of meeting, in order to look him in the face, and to give him an opportunity to notice, on his own peculiar dunghill, what I had said of him at Newbury. He came. I rode up to him and about him; but he said not a word. The company entered the wood, and I rode back towards my quarters. They found a fox, and quickly lost him. Then they came out of the wood and came back along the road, and met me, and passed me, they as well as I going at a foot pace. I had plenty of time to survey them all well, and to mark their looks. I watched Dundas's eyes, but the devil a bit could I get them to turn my way . He is paid for the present. We shall see whether he will go, or send an ambassador, or neither, when I shall be at Reading in the 9th of next month.

October 30.

Set off for London. Went by Alderbridge, Crookham, Brimton, Mortimer, Strathfield Say, Heckfield Heath, Eversley, Blackwater, and slept at Oakingham. This is, with trifling exceptions, a miserably poor country. Burghclere lies along at the foot of a part of that chain of hills which, in this part, divide Hampshire from Berkshire. The parish just named is, indeed, in Hampshire, but it forms merely the foot of the Highclere and Kingsclere Hills. These hills, from which you can see all across the country, even to the Isle of Wight, are of chalk, and with them, towards the north, ends the chalk. The soil over which I have come to-day is generally a stony sand upon a bed of gravel. With the exception of the land just round Crookham and the other villages, nothing can well be poorer or more villainously ugly. It is all first cousin to Hounslow Heath, of which it is, in fact, a continuation to the westward. There is a clay at the bottom of the gravel; so that you have here nasty stagnant pools without fertility of soil. The rushes grow amongst the gravel; sure sign that there is clay beneath to hold the water; for, unless there be water constantly at their roots, rushes will not grow. Such land is, however, good for oaks wherever there is soil enough on the top of the gravel for the oak to get hold, and to send its tap-root down to the clay. The oak is the thing to plant here; and, therefore , this whole country contains not one single plantation of oaks! That is to say, as far as I observed. Plenty of fir -trees and other rubbish have been recently planted; but no oaks.

October 31.

Set off at daylight and got to Kensington about noon. On leaving Oakingham for London, you get upon what is called Windsor Forest ; that is to say, upon as bleak, as barren, and as villainous a heath as ever man set his eyes on. However, here are new enclosures without end. And here are houses too, here and there, over the whole of this execrable tract of country. "What!" Mr. Canning will say, "will you not allow that the owners of these new enclosures and these houses know their own interests? And are not these improvements , and are they not a proof of an addition to the national capital?" To the first I answer, May be so ; to the two last, No . These new enclosures and houses arise out of the beggaring of the parts of the country distant from the vortex of the funds. The farm-houses have long been growing fewer and fewer; the labourers' houses fewer and fewer; and it is manifest to every man who has eyes to see with, that the villages are regularly wasting away. This is the case all over the parts of the kingdom where the tax-eaters do not haunt. In all the really agricultural villages and parts of the kingdom, there is a shocking decay ; a great dilapidation and constant pulling down or falling down of houses. The farm-houses are not so many as they were forty years ago by three-fourths. That is to say, the infernal system of Pitt and his followers has annihilated three parts out of four of the farm-houses. The labourers' houses disappear also. And all the useful people become less numerous. While these spewy sands and gravel near London are enclosed and built on, good lands in other parts are neglected. These enclosures and buildings are a waste ; they are means misapplied ; they are a proof of national decline and not of prosperity. To cultivate and ornament these villainous spots the produce and the population are drawn away from the good lands. There all manner of schemes have been resorted to to get rid of the necessity of hands ; and I am quite convinced that the population, upon the whole, has not increased, in England, one single soul since I was born; an opinion that I have often expressed, in support of which I have as often offered arguments, and those arguments have never been answered . As to this rascally heath, that which has ornamented it has brought misery on millions. The spot is not far distant from the stock-jobbing crew. The roads to it are level. They are smooth. The wretches can go to it from the 'Change without any danger to their worthless necks. And thus it is "vastly improved, ma'am" ! A set of men who can look upon this as "improvement," who can regard this as a proof of the "increased capital of the country," are pretty fit, it must be allowed, to get the country out of its present difficulties! At the end of this blackguard heath you come (on the road to Egham) to a little place called Sunning Hill , which is on the western side of Windsor Park. It is a spot all made into "grounds" and gardens by tax-eaters. The inhabitants of it have beggared twenty agricultural villages and hamlets.

From this place you go across a corner of Windsor Park, and come out at Virginia Water. To Egham is then about two miles. A much more ugly country than that between Egham and Kensington would with great difficulty be found in England. Flat as a pancake, and, until you come to Hammersmith, the soil is a nasty stony dirt upon a bed of gravel. Hounslow Heath, which is only a little worse than the general run, is a sample of all that is bad in soil and villainous in look. Yet this is now enclosed, and what they call "cultivated." Here is a fresh robbery of villages, hamlets, and farm and labourers' buildings and abodes! But here is one of those "vast improvements, ma'am," called Barracks . What an "improvement"! What an "addition to the national capital"! For, mind, Monsieur de Snip, the Surrey Norman, actually said, that the new buildings ought to be reckoned an addition to the national capital! What, Snip! Do you pretend that the nation is richer , because the means of making this barrack have been drawn away from the people in taxes? Mind, Monsieur le Normand, the barrack did not drop down from the sky nor spring up out of the earth. It was not created by the un-hanged knaves of paper-money. It came out of the people's labour; and when you hear Mr. Ellman tell the committee of 1821, that forty-five years ago every man in his parish brewed his own beer, and that now not one man in the same parish does it; when you hear this, Monsieur de Snip, you might, if you had brains in your skull, be able to estimate the effect of what has produced the barrack. Yet, barracks there must be, or Gatton and Old Sarum must fall; and the fall of these would break poor Mr. Canning's heart.

November 8.

From London to Egham in the evening.

November 9.

Started at day-break in a hazy frost, for Reading. The horses' manes and ears covered with the hoar before we got across Windsor Park, which appeared to be a blackguard soil, pretty much like Hounslow Heath, only not flat. A very large part of the park is covered with heath or rushes, sure sign of execrable soil. But the roads are such as might have been made by Solomon. "A greater than Solomon is here!" someone may exclaim. Of that I know nothing. I am but a traveller; and the roads in this park are beautiful indeed. My servant, whom I brought from amongst the hills and flints of Uphusband, must certainly have thought himself in Paradise as he was going through the park. If I had told him that the buildings and the labourers' clothes and meals, at Uphusband, were the worse for those pretty roads with edgings cut to the line, he would have wondered at me, I dare say. It would, nevertheless, have been perfectly true; and this is feelosofee of a much more useful sort than that which is taught by the Edinburgh Reviewers.

When you get through the park you come to Winkfield, and then (bound for Reading) you go through Binfield, which is ten miles from Egham and as many from Reading. At Binfield I stopped to breakfast, at a very nice country inn called the Stag and Hounds . Here you go along on the north border of that villainous tract of country that I passed over in going from Oakingham to Egham. Much of the land here is but newly enclosed; and it was really not worth a straw before it was loaded with the fruit of the labour of the people living in the parts of the country distant from the Fund Wen . What injustice! What unnatural changes! Such things cannot be, without producing convulsion in the end. A road as smooth as a die, a real stock-jobber's road, brought us to Reading by eleven o'clock. We dined at one; and very much pleased I was with the company. I have seldom seen a number of persons assembled together, whose approbation I valued more than that of the company of this day.

I came on horseback forty miles, slept on the road, and finished my harangue at the end of twenty-two hours from leaving Kensington; and I cannot help saying that is pretty well for "Old Cobbett." I am delighted with the people that I have seen at Reading. Their kindness to me is nothing in my estimation compared with the sense and spirit which they appear to possess. It is curious to observe how things have worked with me. That combination, that sort of instinctive union, which has existed for so many years, amongst all the parties, to keep me down generally, and particularly, as the County Club called it, to keep me out of Parliament "at any rate ," this combination has led to the present haranguing system, which, in some sort, supplies the place of a seat in Parliament. It may be said, indeed, that I have not the honour to sit in the same room with those great Reformers, Lord John Russell, Sir Massey Lopez, and his guest, Sir Francis Burdett; but man's happiness here below is never perfect; and there may be besides, people to believe that a man ought not to break his heart on account of being shut out of such company, especially when he can find such company as I have this day found at Reading.

October 10.

Went from Reading, through Aldermaston for Burghclere. The rain has been heavy, and the water was a good deal out. Here, on my way, I got upon Crookham Common again, which is a sort of continuation of the wretched country about Oakingham. From Highclere I looked, one day, over the flat towards Marlborough; and I there saw some such rascally heaths. So that this villainous tract extends from east to west, with more or less of exceptions, from Hounslow to Hungerford. From north to south it extends from Binfield (which cannot be far from the borders of Buckinghamshire) to the South Downs of Hampshire, and terminates somewhere between Liphook and Petersfield, after stretching over Hindhead, which is certainly the most villainous spot that God ever made. Our ancestors do, indeed, seem to have ascribed its formation to another power; for the most celebrated part of it is called "the Devil's Punch Bowl ." In this tract of country there are certainly some very beautiful spots. But these are very few in number, except where the chalk-hills run into the tract. The neighbourhood of Godalming ought hardly to be considered as an exception; for there you are just on the outside of the tract, and begin to enter on the Wealds ; that is to say, clayey woodlands. All the part of Berkshire of which I have been recently passing over, if I except the tract from Reading to Crookham, is very bad land and a very ugly country.

November 11.

Uphusband once more , and, for the sixth time this year, over the North Hampshire Hills, which, notwithstanding their everlasting flints, I like very much. As you ride along, even in a green lane , the horses' feet make a noise like hammering . It seems as if you were riding on a mass of iron. Yet the soil is good, and bears some of the best wheat in England. All these high, and indeed all chalky, lands are excellent for sheep. But on the top of some of these hills there are as fine meadows as I ever saw. Pasture richer, perhaps, than that about Swindon in the north of Wiltshire. And the singularity is, that this pasture is on the very tops of these lofty hills, from which you can see the Isle of Wight. There is a stiff loam, in some places twenty feet deep, on a bottom of chalk. Though the grass grows so finely, there is no apparent wetness in the land. The wells are more than three hundred feet deep. The main part of the water, for all uses, comes from the clouds; and, indeed, these are pretty constant companions of these chalk hills, which are often enveloped in clouds and wet, when it is sunshine down at Burghclere or Uphusband. They manure the land here by digging wells in the fields, and bringing up the chalk, which they spread about on the land; and which, being free-chalk, is reduced to powder by the frosts. A considerable portion of the land is covered with wood; and as, in the clearing of the land, the clearers followed the good soil, without regard to shape of fields, the forms of the woods are of endless variety, which, added to the never-ceasing inequalities of the surface of the whole, makes this, like all the others of the same description, a very pleasant country.

November 17.

Set off from Uphusband for Hambledon. The first place I had to get to was Whitchurch. On my way, and at a short distance from Uphusband, down the valley, I went through a village called Bourn , which takes its name from the water that runs down this valley. A bourn , in the language of our forefathers, seems to be a river which is, part of the year, without water . There is one of these bourns down this pretty valley. It has, generally, no water till towards spring, and then it runs for several months. It is the same at the Candovers, as you go across the downs from Odiham to Winchester.

The little village of Bourn , therefore, takes its name from its situation. Then there are two Hurstbourns , one above and one below this village of Bourn. Hurst means, I believe, a forest. There were, doubtless, one of those on each side of Bourn; and when they became villages, the one above was called Up -hurstbourn, and the one below, Down -hurstbourn; which names have become Uphusband and Downhusband . The lawyers, therefore, who, to the immortal honour of high-blood and Norman descent, are making such a pretty story out for the lord chancellor, relative to a noble peer who voted for the bill against the queen, ought to leave off calling the seat of the noble person Hursperne ; for it is at Downhurstbourn where he lives, and where he was visited by Dr. Bankhead! Whitchurch is a small town, but famous for being the place where the paper has been made for the Borough-Bank ! I passed by the mill on my way to get out upon the downs to go to Alresford, where I intended to sleep. I hope the time will come when a monument will be erected where that mill stands, and when on that monument will be inscribed the curse of England . This spot ought to be held accursed in all time henceforth and for evermore. It has been the spot from which have sprung more and greater mischiefs than ever plagued mankind before. However, the evils now appear to be fast recoiling on the merciless authors of them; and, therefore, one beholds this scene of paper-making with a less degree of rage than formerly. My blood used to boil when I thought of the wretches who carried on and supported the system. It does not boil now, when I think of them. The curse, which they intended solely for others, is now falling on themselves; and I smile at their sufferings. Blasphemy? Atheism? Who can be an atheist, that sees how justly these wretches are treated; with what exact measure they are receiving the evils which they inflicted on others for a time, and which they intended to inflict on them for ever! If, indeed, the monsters had continued to prosper, one might have been an atheist. The true history of the rise, progress and fall of these monsters, of their power , their crimes and their punishment , will do more than has been done before to put an end to the doubts of those who have doubts upon this subject.

Quitting Whitchurch, I went off to the left out of the Winchester road, got out upon the highlands, took an "observation," as the sailors call it, and off I rode, in a straight line, over hedge and ditch, towards the rising ground between Stratton Park and Micheldever Wood; but, before I reached this point, I found some wet meadows and some running water in my way in a little valley running up from the turnpike road to a little place called West Stratton . I, therefore, turned to my left, went down to the turnpike, went a little way along it, then turned to my left, went along by Stratton Park pales down East Stratton Street, and then on towards the Grange Park. Stratton Park is the seat of Sir Thomas Baring, who has here several thousands of acres of land; who has the living of Micheldever, to which, I think, Northington and Swallowfield are joined. Above all, he has Micheldever Wood, which, they say, contains a thousand acres, and which is one of the finest oak-woods in England. This large and very beautiful estate must have belonged to the Church at the time of Henry the Eighth's "reformation ." It was, I believe, given by him to the family of Russell ; and it was, by them, sold to Sir Francis Baring about twenty years ago. Upon the whole, all things considered, the change is for the better.

From Stratton I went on to Northington Down; then round to the south of the Grange Park (Alex. Baring's), down to Abbotson, and over some pretty little green hills to Alresford, which is a nice little town of itself, but which presents a singularly beautiful view from the last little hill coming from Abbotson. I could not pass by the Grange Park without thinking of Lord and Lady Henry Stuart , whose lives and deaths surpassed what we read of in the most sentimental romances. Very few things that I have met with in my life ever filled me with sorrow equal to that which I felt at the death of this most virtuous and most amiable pair.

It began raining soon after I got to Alresford, and rained all the evening. I heard here, that a requisition for a county meeting was in the course of being signed in different parts of the county. They mean to petition for reform, I hope. At any rate, I intend to go to see what they do. I saw the parsons at the county meeting in 1817. I should like, of all things, to see them at another meeting now. These are the persons that I have most steadily in my eye. The war and the debt were for the tithes and the boroughs . These must stand or fall together now. I always told the parsons that they were the greatest fools in the world to put the tithes on board the same boat with the boroughs. I told them so in 1817; and, I fancy, they will soon see all about it.

November 18.

Came from Alresford to Hambledon, through Titchbourn, Cheriton, Beauworth, Kilmston, and Exton. This is all a high, hard, dry, fox-hunting country. Like that, indeed, over which I came yesterday. At Titchbourn there is a park, and "great house," as the country-people call it. The place belongs, I believe, to a Sir Somebody Titchbourne , a family very likely half as old as the name of the village, which, however, partly takes its name from the bourn that runs down the valley. I thought, as I was riding alongside of this park, that I had heard good of this family of Titchbourne, and I therefore saw the park pales with sorrow. There is not more than one pale in a yard, and those that remain, and the rails and posts and all, seem tumbling down. This park-paling is perfectly typical of those of the landlords who are not tax-eaters . They are wasting away very fast. The tax-eating landlords think to swim out the gale. They are deceived. They are "deluded" by their own greediness.

Kilmston was my next place after Titchbourn, but I wanted to go to Beauworth, so that I had to go through Cheriton; a little, hard, iron village, where all seems to be as old as the hills that surround it. In coming along you see Titchbourn church away to the right, on the side of the hill, a very pretty little view; and this, though such a hard country, is a pretty country.

At Cheriton I found a grand camp of Gipsys , just upon the move towards Alresford. I had met some of the scouts first, and afterwards the advanced guard, and here the main body was getting in motion. One of the scouts that I met was a young woman, who, I am sure, was six feet high. There were two or three more in the camp of about the same height; and some most strapping fellows of men. It is curious that this race should have preserved their dark skin and coal-black straight and coarse hair, very much like that of the American Indians. I mean the hair, for the skin has nothing of the copper-colour as that of the Indians has. It is not, either, of the Mulatto cast; that is to say, there is no yellow in it. It is a black mixed with our English colours of pale, or red, and the features are small, like those of the girls in Sussex, and often singularly pretty. The tall girl that I met at Titchbourn, who had a huckster basket on her arm, had most beautiful features. I pulled up my horse, and said, "Can you tell me my fortune, my dear?" She answered in the negative, giving me a look at the same time that seemed to say it was too late ; and that if I had been thirty years younger she might have seen a little what she could do with me. It is, all circumstances considered, truly surprising that this race should have preserved so perfectly all its distinctive marks. I came on to Beauworth to inquire after the family of a worthy old farmer, whom I knew there some years ago, and of whose death I had heard at Alresford. A bridle road over some fields and through a coppice took me to Kilmston, formerly a large village, but now mouldered into two farms, and a few miserable tumble-down houses for the labourers. Here is a house that was formerly the residence of the landlord of the place, but is now occupied by one of the farmers. This is a fine country for fox-hunting, and Kilmston belonged to a Mr. Ridge who was a famous fox-hunter, and who is accused of having spent his fortune in that way. But what do people mean? He had a right to spend his income , as his fathers had done before him. It was the Pitt-system, and not the fox-hunting, that took away the principal. The place now belongs to a Mr. Long, whose origin I cannot find out.

From Kilmston I went right over the downs to the top of a hill called Beacon Hill , which is one of the loftiest hills in the country. Here you can see the Isle of Wight in detail, a fine sweep of the sea; also away into Sussex, and over the New Forest into Dorsetshire. Just below you, to the east, you look down upon the village of Exton; and you can see up this valley (which is called a Bourn too) as far as West Meon, and down it as far as Soberton. Corhampton, Warnford, Meon Stoke, and Droxford come within these two points; so that here are six villages on this bourn within the space of about five miles. On the other side of the main valley down which the bourn runs, and opposite Beacon Hill, is another such a hill, which they call Old Winchester Hill . On the top of this hill there was once a camp, or rather fortress; and the ramparts are now pretty nearly as visible as ever. The same is to be seen on the Beacon Hill at Highclere. These ramparts had nothing of the principles of modern fortification in their formation. You see no signs of salient angles. It was a ditch and a bank , and that appears to have been all. I had, I think, a full mile to go down from the top of Beacon Hill to Exton. This is the village where that Parson Baines lives who, as described by me in 1817, bawled in Lord Cochrane's ear at Winchester in the month of March of that year. Parson Poulter lives at Meon Stoke, which is not a mile further down. So that this valley has something in it besides picturesque views! I asked some countrymen how Poulter and Baines did; but their answer contained too much of irreverence for me to give it here.

At Exton I crossed the Gosport turnpike road, came up the cross valley under the south side of Old Winchester Hill, over Stoke Down, then over West End Down, and then to my friend's house at West End in the parish of Hambledon.

Thus have I crossed nearly the whole of this country from the north-west to the south-east, without going five hundred yards on a turnpike road, and, as nearly as I could do it, in a straight line.

The whole country that I have crossed is loam and flints, upon a bottom of chalk. At Alresford there are some watered meadows, which are the beginning of a chain of meadows that goes all the way down to Winchester, and hence to Southampton; but even these meadows have at Alresford, chalk under them. The water that supplies them comes out of a pond , called Alresford Pond, which is fed from the high hills in the neighbourhood. These counties are purely agricultural; and they have suffered most cruelly from the accursed Pitt-system. Their hilliness, bleakness, roughness of roads, render them unpleasant to the luxurious, effeminate, tax-eating crew, who never come near them, and who have pared them down to the very bone. The villages are all in a state of decay . The farm-buildings dropping down, bit by bit. The produce is, by a few great farmers, dragged to a few spots, and all the rest is falling into decay. If this infernal system could go on for forty years longer, it would make all the labourers as much slaves as the negroes are, and subject to the same sort of discipline and management.

Nov . 24. Sunday .

Set off from Hambledon to go to Thursley in Surrey, about five miles from Godalming. Here I am at Thursley, after as interesting a day as I ever spent in all my life. They say that "variety is charming," and this day I have had of scenes and of soils a variety indeed!

To go to Thursley from Hambledon the plain way was up the downs to Petersfield, and then along the turnpike road through Liphook, and over Hindhead, at the north-east foot of which Thursley lies. But I had been over that sweet Hindhead, and had seen too much of turnpike road and of heath, to think of taking another so large a dose of them. The map of Hampshire (and we had none of Surrey) showed me the way to Headley, which lies on the west of Hindhead, down upon the flat. I knew it was but about five miles from Headley to Thursley ; and I, therefore, resolved to go to Headley, in spite of all the remonstrances of friends, who represented to me the danger of breaking my neck at Hawkley and of getting buried in the bogs of Woolmer Forest. My route was through East Meon, Froxfield, Hawkley, Greatham, and then over Woolmer Forest (a heath if you please), to Headley.

Off we set over the downs (crossing the bottom sweep of Old Winchester Hill) from West End to East Meon. We came down a long and steep hill that led us winding round into the village, which lies in a valley that runs in a direction nearly east and west, and that has a rivulet that comes out of the hills towards Petersfield. If I had not seen anything further to-day, I should have dwelt long on the beauties of this place. Here is a very fine valley, in nearly an elliptical form, sheltered by high hills sloping gradually from it; and not far from the middle of this valley there is a hill nearly in the form of a goblet-glass with the foot and stem broken off and turned upside down. And this is clapped down upon the level of the valley, just as you would put such goblet upon a table. The hill is lofty, partly covered with wood, and it gives an air of great singularity to the scene. I am sure that East Meon has been a large place . The church has a Saxon tower pretty nearly equal, as far as I recollect, to that of the cathedral at Winchester. The rest of the church has been rebuilt, and, perhaps, several times; but the tower is complete; it has had a steeple put upon it; but it retains all its beauty, and it shows that the church (which is still large) must, at first, have been a very large building. Let those who talk so glibly of the increase of the population in England, go over the country from Highclere to Hambledon. Let them look at the size of the churches, and let them observe those numerous small enclosures on every side of every village, which had, to a certainty, each its house in former times. But let them go to East Meon, and account for that church. Where did the hands come from to make it? Look, however, at the downs, the many square miles of downs near this village, all bearing the marks of the plough , and all out of tillage for many many years; yet not one single inch of them but what is vastly superior in quality to any of those great "improvements" on the miserable heaths of Hounslow, Bagshot, and Windsor Forest. It is the destructive, the murderous paper-system, that has transferred the fruit of the labour, and the people along with it, from the different parts of the country to the neighbourhood of the all-devouring Wen . I do not believe one word of what is said of the increase of the population. All observation and all reason is against the fact; and, as to the parliamentary returns , what need we more than this: that they assert that the population of Great Britain has increased from ten to fourteen millions in the last twenty years! That is enough! A man that can suck that in will believe, literally believe, that the moon is made of green cheese. Such a thing is too monstrous to be swallowed by anybody but Englishmen, and by any Englishman not brutified by a Pitt-system. From East Meon, I did not go on to Froxfield church, but turned off to the left to a place (a couple of houses) called Bower . Near this I stopped at a friend's house, which is in about as lonely a situation as I ever saw. A very pleasant place, however. The lands dry, a nice mixture of woods and fields, and a great variety of hill and dell.

Before I came to East Meon, the soil of the hills was a shallow loam with flints, on a bottom of chalk; but, on this side of the valley of East Meon, that is to say, on the north side, the soil on the hills is a deep, stiff loam, on a bed of a sort of gravel mixed with chalk; and the stones, instead of being grey on the outside and blue on the inside, are yellow on the outside and whitish on the inside. In coming on further to the north, I found that the bottom was sometimes gravel and sometimes chalk. Here, at the time when whatever it was that formed these hills and valleys, the stuff on which Hindhead is composed seems to have run down and mixed itself with the stuff of which Old Winchester Hill is composed. Free chalk (which is the sort found here) is excellent manure for stiff land, and it produces a complete change in the nature of clays. It is, therefore, dug here, on the north of East Meon, about in the fields, where it happens to be found, and is laid out upon the surface, where it is crumbled to powder by the frost, and thus gets incorporated with the loam.

At Bower I got instructions to go to Hawkley, but accompanied with most earnest advice not to go that way, for that it was impossible to get along. The roads were represented as so bad; the floods so much out; the hills and bogs so dangerous; that, really, I began to doubt ; and, if I had not been brought up amongst the clays of the Holt Forest and the bogs of the neighbouring heaths, I should certainly have turned off to my right, to go over Hindhead, great as was my objection to going that way. "Well, then," said my friend at Bower, "if you will go that way, by G--, you must go down Hawkley Hanger" ; of which he then gave me such a description! But even this I found to fall short of the reality. I inquired simply, whether people were in the habit of going down it; and the answer being in the affirmative, on I went through green lanes and bridle-ways till I came to the turnpike road from Petersfield to Winchester, which I crossed, going into a narrow and almost untrodden green lane, on the side of which I found a cottage. Upon my asking the way to Hawkley , the woman at the cottage said, "Right up the lane, sir: you'll come to a hanger presently: you must tae care, sir: you can't ride down: will your horses go alone ?"

On we trotted up this pretty green lane; and indeed, we had been coming gently and generally uphill for a good while. The lane was between highish banks and pretty high stuff growing on the banks, so that we could see no distance from us, and could receive not the smallest hint of what was so near at hand. The lane had a little turn towards the end; so that out we came, all in a moment, at the very edge of the hanger! And never, in all my life, was I so surprised and so delighted! I pulled up my horse, and sat and looked; and it was like looking from the top of a castle down into the sea, except that the valley was land and not water. I looked at my servant, to see what effect this unexpected sight had upon him. His surprise was as great as mine, though he had been bred amongst the North Hampshire hills. Those who had so strenuously dwelt on the dirt and dangers of this route, had said not a word about beauties, the matchless beauties of the scenery. These hangers are woods on the sides of very steep hills. The trees and underwood hang , in some sort, to the ground, instead of standing on it. Hence these places are called Hangers . From the summit of that which I had now to descend, I looked down upon the villages of Hawkley, Greatham, Selborne and some others.

From the south-east, round, southward, to the north-west, the main valley has cross-valleys running out of it, that the hills on the sides of which are very steep, and, in many parts, covered with wood. The hills that form these cross-valleys run out into the main valley, like piers into the sea. Two of these promontories, of great height, are on the west side of the main valley, and were the first objects that struck my sight when I came to the edge of the hanger, which was on the south. The ends of these promontories are nearly perpendicular, and their tops so high in the air, that you cannot look at the village below without something like a feeling of apprehension. The leaves are all off, the hop-poles are in stack, the fields have little verdure; but, while the spot is beautiful beyond description even now, I must leave to imagination to suppose what it is when the trees and hangers and hedges are in leaf, the corn waving, the meadows bright, and the hops upon the poles! From the south-west, round, eastward, to the north, lie the heaths , of which Woolmer Forest makes a part, and these go gradually rising up to Hindhead, the crown of which is to the north-west, leaving the rest of the circle (the part from north to north-west) to be occupied by a continuation of the valley towards Headley, Binstead, Frensham and the Holt Forest. So that even the that contrast in the view from the top of the hanger is as great as can possibly be imagined. Men, however, are not to have such beautiful views as this without some trouble. We had had the view; but we had to go down the hanger. We had, indeed, some roads to get along, as we could, afterwards; but we had to get down the hanger first. The horses took the lead, and crept partly down upon their feet and partly upon their hocks. It was extremely slippery too; for the soil is a sort of marl, or, as they call it here, maume, or mame, which is, when wet, very much like that grey soap . In such a case it was likely that I should keep in the rear, which I did, and I descended by taking hold of the branches of the underwood, and so letting myself down. When we got to the bottom, I bade my man, when he should go back to Uphusband, tell the people there that Ashmansworth Lane is not the worst piece of road in the world. Our worst, however, was not come yet, nor had we by any means seen the most novel sights.

After crossing a little field and going through a farmyard, we came into a lane, which was, at once, road and river. We found a hard bottom, however; and when we got out of the water, we got into a lane with high banks. The banks were quarries of white stone, like Portland-stone, and the bed of the road was of the same stone; and, the rains having been heavy for a day or two before, the whole was as clean and as white as the steps of a fundholder or deadweight doorway in one of the squares of the Wen . Here were we, then, going along a stone road with stone banks, and yet the underwood and trees grew well upon the tops of the banks. In the solid stone beneath us, there were a horse-track and wheel-tracks, the former about three and the latter about six inches deep. How many many ages it must have taken the horses' feet, the wheels, and the water, to wear down this stone so as to form a hollow way! The horses seemed alarmed at their situation; they trod with fear; but they took us along very nicely, and, at last, got us safe into the indescribable dirt and mire of the road from Hawkley Green to Greatham. Here the bottom of all the land is this solid white stone, and the top is that mame , which I have before described. The hop-roots penetrate down into this stone. How deep the stone may go I know not; but, when I came to look up at the end of the piers, or promontories, mentioned above, I found that it was all of this same stone.

At Hawkley Green I asked a farmer the way to Thursley. He pointed to one of two roads going from the green; but, it appearing to me that that would lead me up to the London road and over Hindhead, I gave him to understand that I was resolved to get along, somehow or other, through the "low countries." He besought me not to think of it. However, finding me resolved, he got a man to go a little way to put me into the Greatham road. The man came, but the farmer could not let me go off without renewing his entreaties that I would go away to Liphook, in which entreaties the man joined, though he was to be paid very well for his trouble.

Off we went, however, to Greatham. I am thinking whether I ever did see worse roads. Upon the whole, I think, I have; though I am not sure that the roads of New Jersey, between Trenton and Elizabeth Town, at the breaking up of winter, be worse. Talk of shows , indeed! Take a piece of this road; just a cut across, and a rod long, and carry it up to London. That would be something like a show !

Upon leaving Greatham we came out upon Woolmer Forest. Just as we were coming out of Greatham, I asked a man the way to Thursley. "You must go to Liphook , sir," said he. "But," I said, "I will not go to Liphook." These people seemed to be posted at all these stages to turn me aside from my purpose, and to make me go over that Hindhead , which I had resolved to avoid. I went on a little further, and asked another man the way to Headley, which, as I have already observed, lies on the western foot of Hindhead, whence I knew there must be a road to Thursley (which lies at the north-east foot) without going over that miserable hill. The man told me that I must go across the forest . I asked him whether it was a good road:" It is a sound road," said he, laying a weighty emphasis upon the word sound . "Do people go it?" said I. "Ye-es ," said he. "Oh then," said I, to my man, "as it is a sound road, keep you close to my heels, and do not attempt to go aside, not even for a foot." Indeed, it was a sound road. The rain of the night had made the fresh horse tracks visible. And we got to Headley in a short time, over a sand-road, which seemed so delightful after the flints and stone and dirt and sloughs that we had passed over and through since the morning! This road was not, if we had been benighted, without its dangers, the forest being full of quags and quicksands. This is a tract of Crown-lands, or, properly speaking, public-lands , on some parts of which our land steward, Mr. Huskisson, is making some plantations of trees, partly fir, and partly other trees. What he can plant the fir for, God only knows, seeing that the country is already over-stocked with that rubbish. But this public-land concern is a very great concern.

We got to Headley, the sign of the Holly Bush, just at dusk, and just as it began to rain. I had neither eaten nor drunk since eight o'clock in the morning; and as it was a nice little public-house, I at first intended to stay all night, an intention that I afterwards very indiscreetly gave up. I had laid my plan , which included the getting to Thursley that night. When, therefore, I had got some cold bacon and bread, and some milk, I began to feel ashamed of stopping short of my plan , especially after having so heroically persevered in the "stern path," and so disdainfully scorned to go over Hindhead. I knew that my road lay through a hamlet called Churt , where they grow such fine bennet-grass seed. There was a moon; but there was also a hazy rain. I had heaths to go over, and I might go into quags. Wishing to execute my plan, however, I at last brought myself to quit a very comfortable turf-fire, and to set off in the rain, having bargained to give a man three shillings to guide me out to the northern foot of Hindhead. I took care to ascertain that my guide knew the road perfectly well; that is to say, I took care to ascertain it as far as I could, which was, indeed, no further than his word would go. Off we set, the guide mounted on his own or master's horse, and with a white smock-frock, which enabled us to see him clearly. We trotted on pretty fast for about half an hour; and I perceived, not without some surprise, that the rain, which I knew to be coming from the south , met me full in the face, when it ought, according to my reckoning, to have beat upon my right cheek. I called to the guide repeatedly to ask him if he was sure that he was right , to which he always answered, "Oh! yes, sir, I know the road." I did not like this, "I know the road ." At last, after going about six miles in nearly a southern direction, the guide turned short to the left. That brought the rain upon my right cheek, and, though I could not very well account for the long stretch to the south, I thought that, at any rate, we were now in the right track; and, after going about a mile in this new direction, I began to ask the guide how much further we had to go that; for I had got a pretty good soaking, and was rather impatient to see the foot of Hindhead. Just at this time, in raising my head and looking forward as I spoke to the guide, what should I see but a long, high, and steep hanger arising before us, the trees along the top of which I could easily distinguish! The fact was, we were just getting to the outside of the heath, and were on the brow of a steep hill, which faced this hanging wood. The guide had begun to descend; and I had called to him to stop; for the hill was so steep, that, rain as it did and wet as my saddle must be, I got off my horse in order to walk down. But, now behold, the fellow discovered that he had lost his way !--Where we were I could not even guess. There was but one remedy, and that was to get back, if we could. I became guide now; and did as Mr. Western is advising the ministers to do, retraced my steps. We went back about half the way that we had come, when we saw two men, who showed us the way that we ought to go. At the end of about a mile, we fortunately found the turnpike road; not, indeed, at the foot , but on the tip-top of that very Hindhead, on which I had so repeatedly vowed I would not go! We came out on the turnpike some hundred yards on the Liphook side of the buildings called the Hut ; so that we had the whole of three miles of hill to come down at not much better than a foot pace, with a good pelting rain at our backs.

It is odd enough how differently one is affected by the same sight, under different circumstances. At the "Holly Bush" at Headley there was a room full of fellows in white smock frocks, drinking and smoking and talking, and I, who was then dry and warm, moralised within myself on their folly in spending their time in such a way. But when I got down from Hindhead to the public-house at Road Lane, with my skin soaking and my teeth chattering, I thought just such another group, whom I saw through the window sitting round a good fire with pipes in their mouths, the wisest assembly I had ever set my eyes on. A real Collective Wisdom . And I most solemnly declare, that I felt a greater veneration for them than I have ever felt even for the Privy Council , notwithstanding the Right Honourable Charles Wynn and the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair belonging to the latter.

It was now but a step to my friend's house, where a good fire and a change of clothes soon put all to rights, save and except the having come over Hindhead after all my resolutions. This mortifying circumstance; this having been beaten , lost the guide the three shillings that I had agreed to give him. "Either ," said I, "you did. not know the way well, or you did: if the former, it was dishonest in you to undertake to guide me: if the latter, you have wilfully led me miles out of my way." He grumbled; but off he went. He certainly deserved nothing; for he did not know the way, and he prevented some other man from earning and receiving the money. But had he not caused me to get upon Hindhead , he would have had the three shillings. I had, at one time, got my hand in my pocket; but the thought of having been beaten pulled it out again. Thus ended the most interesting day, as far as I know, that I ever passed in all my life. Hawkley-hangers, promontories, and stone-roads will always come into my mind when I see, or hear of, picturesque views. I forgot to mention that, in going from Hawkley to Greatham, the man who went to show me the way, told me at a certain fork, "that road goes to Selborne ." This put me in mind of a book, which was once recommended to me, but which I never saw, entitled The History and Antiquities of Selborne (or something of that sort), written, I think, by a parson of the name of White , brother of Mr. White , so long a bookseller in Fleet Street. This parson had, I think, the living. of the parish of Selborne. The book was mentioned to me as a work of great curiosity and interest. But, at that time, the THING was biting so very sharply that one had no attention to bestow on antiquarian researches. Wheat at 39s. a quarter, and South-Down ewes at 12s. 6d. have so weakened the THING'S jaws and so filed down its teeth, that I shall now certainly read this book if I can get it. By the bye, if all the parsons had, for the last thirty years, employed their leisure time in writing the histories of their several parishes, instead of living, as many of them have, engaged in pursuits that I need not here name, neither their situation nor that of their flocks would, perhaps, have been the worse for it at this day.

November 26 to 28.

I came here to meet my son, who was to return to London when we had done our business. The turnips are pretty good all over the country, except upon the very thin soils on the chalk. At Thursley they are very good, and so they are upon all these nice light and good lands round about Godalming.

This is a very pretty country. You see few prettier spots than this. The chain of little hills that run along to the south and south-east of Godalming, and the soil, which is a good loam upon a sand-stone bottom, run down on the south side, into what is called the Weald . This Weald is a bed of clay, in which nothing grows well but oak-trees. It is first the Weald of Surrey, and then the Weald of Sussex. It runs along on the south of Dorking, Reigate, Bletchingley, Godstone, and then winds away down into Kent. In no part of it, as far as I have observed, do the oaks grow finer than between the sand-hill on the south of Godstone and a place called Fellbridge, where the county of Surrey terminates on the road to East Grinstead. At Godalming we heard some account of a lawsuit between Mr. Holme Sumner and his tenant, Mr. Nash; but the particulars I must reserve till I have them in black and white.

November 29. Went on to Guildford, where I slept. Everybody that has been from Godalming to Guildford, knows that there is hardly another such a pretty four miles in all England. The road is good; the soil is good; the houses are neat; the people are neat: the hills, the woods, the meadows, all are beautiful. Nothing wild and bold, to be sure, but exceedingly pretty; and it is almost impossible to ride along these four miles without feelings of pleasure, though you have rain for your companion, as it happened to be with me.

November 30.

I came over the high hill on the south of Guildford, and came down to Chilworth, and up the valley to Albury. I noticed, in my first Rural Ride, this beautiful valley, its hangers, its meadows, its hop-gardens, and its ponds. This valley of Chilworth has great variety, and is very pretty; but after seeing Hawkley, every other place loses in point of beauty and interest. This pretty valley of Chilworth has a run of water which comes out of the high hills, and which, occasionally, spreads into a pond; so that there is in fact a series of ponds connected by this run of water. This valley, which seems to have been created by a bountiful providence, as one of the choicest retreats of man; which seems formed for a scene of innocence and happiness, has been, by ungrateful man, so perverted as to make it instrumental in effecting two of the most damnable of purposes; in carrying into execution two of the most damnable inventions that ever sprang from the minds of men under the influence of the devil! namely, the making of gunpowder and of bank-notes that! Here in this tranquil spot, where the nightingales are to be heard earlier and later in the year than in any other part of England; where the first bursting of the buds is seen in spring, where no rigour of seasons can ever be felt; where everything seems formed for precluding the very thought of wickedness; here has the devil fixed on as one of the seats of his grand manufactory; and perverse and ungrateful man not only lends him his aid, but lends it cheerfully! As to the gunpowder, indeed, we might get over that. In some cases that may be innocently, and, when it sends the lead at the hordes that support a tyrant, meritoriously, employed. The alders and the willows, therefore, one can see, without so much regret, turned into powder by the waters of this valley; but, the bank-notes ! To think that the springs which God has commanded to flow from the sides of these happy hills, for the comfort and the delight of man; to think that these springs should be perverted into means of spreading misery over a whole nation; and that, too, under the base and hypocritical pretence of promoting its credit and maintaining its honour and its faith ! There was one circumstance, indeed, that served to mitigate the melancholy excited by these reflections; namely, that a part of these springs have, at times, assisted in turning rags into Registers ! Somewhat cheered by the thought of this, but, still, in a more melancholy mood than I had been for a long while, I rode on with my friend towards Albury , up the valley, the sand-hills on one side of us and the chalk-hills on the other. Albury is a little village consisting of a few houses, with a large house or two near it. At the end of the village we came to a park, which is the residence of Mr. Drummond. Having heard a great deal of this park and of the gardens, I wished very much to see them. My way to Dorking lay through Shire, and it went along on the outside of the park. I guessed , as the Yankees say, that there must be a way through the park to Shire; and I fell upon the scheme of going into the park as far as Mr. Drummond's house, and then asking his leave to go out at the other end of it. This scheme, though pretty bare-faced, succeeded very well. It is true that I was aware that I had not a Norman to deal with; or I should not have ventured upon the experiment. I sent in word that, having got into the park, I should be exceedingly obliged to Mr. Drummond if he would let me go out of it on the side next to Shire. He not only granted this request, but, in the most obliging manner, permitted us to ride all about the park, and to see his gardens, which, without any exception, are, to my fancy, the prettiest in England; that is to say, that I ever saw in England.

They say that these gardens were laid out for one of the Howards, in the reign of Charles the Second, by Mr. Evelyn, who wrote the Sylva . The mansion-house, which is by no means magnificent, stands on a little flat by the side of the parish church, having a steep, but not lofty, hill rising up on the south side of it. It looks right across the gardens, which lie on the slope of a hill which runs along at about a quarter of a mile distant from the front of the house. The gardens, of course, lie facing the south. At the back of them, under the hill, is a high wall; and .there is also a wall at each end, running from north to south. Between the house and the gardens there is a very beautiful run of water, with a sort of little wild, narrow, sedgy meadow. The gardens are separated from this by a hedge, running along from east to west. From this hedge there go up the hill, at right angles, several other hedges, which divide the land here into distinct gardens, or orchards. Along at the top of these there goes a yew hedge, or, rather, a row of small yew-trees, the trunks of which are bare for about eight or ten feet high, and the tops of which form one solid head of about ten feet high, while the bottom branches come out on each side of the row about eight feet horizontally. This hedge, or row, is a quarter of a mile long . There is a nice hard sand-road under this species of umbrella; and, summer and winter, here is a most delightful walk! Behind this row of yews there is a space, or garden (a quarter of a mile long you will observe), about thirty or forty feet wide, as nearly as I can recollect. At the back of this garden, and facing the yew-tree row, is a wall probably ten feet high, which forms the breastwork of a terrace ; and it is this terrace which is the most beautiful thing that I ever saw in the gardening way. It is a quarter of a mile long, and, I believe, between thirty and forty feet wide; of the finest green sward, and as level as a die.

The wall, along at the back of this terrace, stands close against the hill, which you see with the trees and underwood upon it rising above the wall. So that here is the finest spot for fruit-trees that can possibly be imagined. At both ends of this garden the trees in the park are lofty, and there are a pretty many of them. The hills on the south side of the mansion-house are covered with lofty trees, chiefly beeches and chestnut: so that a warmer, a more sheltered, spot than this, it seems to be impossible to imagine. Observe, too, how judicious it was to plant the row of yew-trees at the distance which I have described from the wall which forms the breastwork of the terrace: that wall, as well as the wall at the back of the terrace, are covered with fruit-trees, and the yew-tree row is just high enough to defend the former from winds, without injuring it by its shade. In the middle of the wall, at the back of the terrace, there is a recess, about thirty feet in front and twenty feet deep, and here is a basin , into which rises a spring coming out of the hill. The overflowings of this basin go under the terrace and down across the garden into the rivulet below. So that here is water at the top, across the middle, and along at the bottom of this garden. Take it altogether, this, certainly, is the prettiest garden that I ever beheld. There was taste and sound judgment at every step in the laying out of this place. Everywhere utility and convenience is combined with beauty. The terrace is by far the finest thing of the sort that I ever saw, and the whole thing altogether is a great compliment to the taste of the times in which it was formed. I know there are some ill-natured persons who will say that I want a revolution that would turn Mr. Drummond out of this place and put me into it. Such persons will hardly believe me, but upon my word I do not. From everything that I hear, Mr. Drummond is very worthy of possessing it himself, seeing that he is famed for his justice and his kindness towards the labouring classes , who, God knows, have very few friends amongst the rich. If what I have heard be true, Mr. Drummond is singularly good in this way; for instead of hunting down an unfortunate creature who has exposed himself to the lash of the law; instead of regarding a crime committed as proof of an inherent disposition to commit crime; instead of rendering the poor creatures desperate by this species of proscription , and forcing them on to the gallows , merely because they have once merited the Bridewell ; instead of this, which is the common practice throughout the country, he rather seeks for such unfortunate creatures to take them into his employ, and thus to reclaim them, and to make them repent of their former courses. If this be true, and I am credibly informed that it is, I know of no man in England so worthy of his estate. There may be others, to act in the like manner; but I neither know nor have heard of any other. I had, indeed, heard of this, at Alresford in Hampshire; and, to say the truth, it was this circumstance, and this alone, which induced me to ask the favour of Mr. Drummond to go through his park. But, besides that Mr. Drummond is very worthy of his estate, what chance should I have of getting it if it came to a scramble ? There are others who like pretty gardens, as well as I; and if the question were to be decided according to the law of the strongest, or, as the French call it, by the droit du plus fort , my chance would be but a very poor one. The truth is, that you hear nothing but fool's talk about revolutions made for the purpose f getting possession of people's property . They never have their spring in any such motives. They are caused by governments themselves ; and though they do sometimes cause a new distribution of property to a certain extent, there never was, perhaps, one single man in this world that had anything to do, worth speaking of, in the causing of a revolution, that did it with any such view. But what a strange thing it is, that there should be men at this time to fear the loss of estates as the consequence of a convulsive revolution; at this time, when the estates are actually passing away from the owners before their eyes, and that, too, in consequence of measures which have been adopted for what has been called the preservation of property , against the designs of Jacobins and Radicals! Mr. Drummond has, I dare say, the means of preventing his estate from being actually taken away from him; but I am quite certain that that estate, except as a place to live at, is not worth to him, at this moment, one single farthing. What could a revolution do for him more than this ? If one could suppose the power of doing what they like placed in the hands of the labouring classes; if one could suppose such a thing as this, which never was yet seen; if one could suppose anything so monstrous as that of a revolution that would leave no public authority anywhere; even in such a case, it is against nature to suppose that the people would come and turn him out of his house and leave him without food; and yet that they must do, to make him, as a landholder, worse off than he is; or, at least, worse off than he must be in a very short time. I saw, in the gardens at Albury Park, what I never saw before in all my life; that is, some plants of the American Cranberry . I never saw them in America; for there they grow in those swamps into which I never happened to go at the time of their bearing fruit. I may have seen the plant, but I do not know that I ever did. Here it not only grows, but bears; and there are still some cranberries on the plants now. I tasted them, and they appeared to me to have just the same taste as those in America. They grew in a long bed near the stream of water which I have spoken about, and therefore it is clear that they may be cultivated with great ease in this country. The road, through Shire along to Dorking, runs up the valley between the chalk-hills and the sand-hills; the chalk to our left and the sand to our right. This is called the Homedale. It begins at Reigate and terminates at Shalford Common, down below Chilworth.

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

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