Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 2, Part 3: Hampshire and Surrey

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From Chichester the road lying still west, passes in view of the Earl of Scarborough's fine seat at Stansted, a house seeming to be a retreat, being surrounded with thick woods, thro' which there are the most pleasant agreeable visto's cut, that are to be seen any where in England, particularly, because through the west opening, which is from the front of the house, they sit in the dining-room of the house, and see the town and harbour of Portsmouth, the ships at Spithead, and also at St. Helens; which when the royal navy happens to be there, as often happen'd during the late war, is a most glorious sight.

This house was fatal to Dr. Williams, mentioned above, Bishop of Chichester, who having been here to make a visit to the late Earl of Scarborough, was thrown out of his coach, or rather threw himself out, being frighted by the unruliness of his horses, and broke his leg in the fall, which, his lordship being in years, was mortal to him: He dy'd in a few days after.

From hence we descend gradually to Portsmouth, the largest fortification, beyond comparison, that we have in England, but it was not with any consideration, that the author before recited could say, it was the only regular fortification in England; especially the same writer owning afterwards that Shireness, Languardfort, and Tilbury, were all regular fortifications, as they really are.

The situation of this place is such, that it is chosen, as may well be said, for the best security to the navy above all the places in Britain; the entrance into the harbour is safe, but very narrow, guarded on both sides by terrible platforms of cannon, particularly on the Point; which is a suburb of Portsmouth properly so call'd, where there is a brick platform built with two tire of guns, one over another, and which can fire so in cover, that the gunners cannot be beaten from their guns, or their guns easily dismounted; the other is from the point of land on the side of Gosport, which they call Gilkicker, where also they have two batteries.

Before any ships attempt to enter this port by sea, they must also pass the cannon of the main platform of the garrison, and also another at South-Sea-Castle; so that it is next to impossible that any ships could match the force of all those cannon, and be able to force their way into the harbour; in which I speak the judgment of men well acquainted with such matters, as well as my own opinion, and of men whose opinion leads them to think the best of the force of naval batteries too; and who have talk'd of making no difficulty to force their way through the Thames, in the teeth of the line of guns at Tilbury; I say, they have talk'd of it, but it was but talk, as any one of judgment would imagin, that knew the works at Tilbury, of which I have spoken in its place: The reasons, however, which they give for the difference, have some force in them, as they relate to Portsmouth, tho' not as they relate to Tilbury; (viz.) That the mouth or entrance into Portsmouth is narrow, and may be lock'd up with booms, which before the ships could break, and while they were lying at them to break them away, they would be torn in pieces by the battery at the Point: (next) That the guns on the said battery at the Point at Portsmouth, are defended as above, with ambruziers, and the gunners stand cover'd, so that they cannot so soon be beaten from their guns, or their guns so soon dismounted by the warm quarter of a three deck ship, as at Tilbury, where all the gunners and guns too must stand open, both to small and great shot: Besides at Tilbury, while some of the ships lay battering the fort, others would pass behind them, close under the town, and if one or more received damage from the fort, the rest would pass in the cloud of smoke, and perhaps might compass their design, as is the case in all places, where the entrance is broad; whereas at Portsmouth, they would be batter'd within little more than pistol shot, and from both sides of the way; whereas at Tilbury there are very few guns on the Gravesend side of the river.

But to avoid comparing of strengths, or saying what may be done in one place, and not done in another; 'tis evident, in the opinion of all that I have met with, that the greatest fleet of ships that ever were in the hands of one nation at a time, would not pretend, if they had not an army also on shoar, to attack the whole work, to force their entrance into the harbour at Portsmouth.

As to the strength of the town by land, the works are very large and numerous, and besides the battery at the Point aforesaid, there is a large hornwork on the south-side, running out towards South-Sea Castle; there is also a good counterscarp, and double mote, with ravelins in the ditch, and double pallisadoes, and advanced works to cover the place from any approach, where it may be practicable: The strength of the town is also considerably augmented on the land-side, by the fortifications raised in King William's time about the docks and yards, which are now perfected, and those parts made a particular strength by themselves; and tho' they are indeed in some sense independent one of another, yet they cover and strengthen one another, so as that they cannot be separately attack'd on that side, while they are both in the same hands.

These docks and yards are now like a town by themselves, and are a kind of marine corporation, or a government of their own kind within themselves; there being particular large rows of dwellings, built at the publick charge, within the new works, for all the principal officers of the place; especially the commissioner, the agent of the victualling, and such as these; the tradesmen likewise have houses here, and many of the labourers are allow'd to live in the bounds as they can get lodging.

The town of Portsmouth, besides its being a fortification, is a well inhabited, thriving, prosperous corporation; and hath been greatly enrich'd of late by the fleet's having so often and so long lain there, as well as large fleets of merchant-men, as the whole navy during the late war; besides the constant fitting out of men here, and the often paying them at Portsmouth, has made a great confluence of people thither on their private business, with other things, which the attendance of those fleets hath required: These things have not only been a great advantage to the town, but has really made the whole place rich, and the inhabitants of Portsmouth are quite another sort of people than they were a few years before the Revolution; this is what Mr. Cambden takes notice of, even so long ago as the reign of Queen Elizabeth; that "Portsmouth was populous in time of war, but not so in time of peace": but now the business of the navy is so much encreased, and so much of it always done here, that it may be said, there is as much to do at Portsmouth now in time of peace, as there was then in time of war, and more too.

There is also this note to be put upon the two great arsenals of England, Portsmouth, and Chatham; Namely, That they thrive by a war, as the war respects their situation (viz.) That when a war with France happens, or with Spain, then Portsmouth grows rich, and when a war with Holland, or any of the Powers of the north, then Chatham, and Woolwich, and Deptford are in request; but of this I shall speak again, when I come to speak of the like antithesis between Plymouth and the Humber, or Portsmouth and the Firth of Edinburgh.

The government of the place is by a mayor and aldermen, &c. as in other corporations, and the civil government is no more interrupted by the military, than if there was no garrison there, such is the good conduct of the governors, and such it has always been, since our soveraigns have ceas'd to encourage the soldiery to insult the civil magistrates: And we have very seldom had any complaint on either side, either of want of discipline among the soldiers, or want of prudence in the magistrates: The inhabitants indeed necessarily submit to such things as are the consequence of a garrison town, such as being examin'd at the gates, such as being obliged to keep garrison hours, and not be let out, or let in after nine a clock at night, and the like; but these are things no people will count a burthen, where they get their bread by the very situation of the place, as is the case here.

Since the encrease of business at this place, by the long continuance of the war, the confluence of people has been so great, and the town not admitting any enlargement for buildings, that a kind of a suburb, or rather a new town has been built on the healthy ground adjoining to the town, which is so well built, and seems to encrease so fast, that in time it threatens to outdo for numbers of inhabitants, and beauty of buildings, even the town it self; and particularly by being unconfin'd by the laws of the garrison, as above, and unencumbered with the corporation burthens, freedoms, town duties, services, and the like.

From Portsmouth west, the country lyes low and flat, and is full of creeks and inlets of the sea and rivers, all the way to Southampton, so that we ferry over three times in about eighteen miles; besides going over one bridge, namely, at Tichfield: The first of these ferries is that at Portsmouth it self, (viz.) cross the mouth of the harbour, from the Point above-mention'd to Gosport; from thence we ride to Tichfield, as above, where we pass the river Alre, which rises in the same county at Alresford, or near it, which is not above twenty two miles off; and yet it is a large river here, and makes a good road below, call'd Tichfield Bay: Thence at about four miles we pass another river at Busselton, narrow in breadth, but exceeding deep, and eminent for its being able to carry the biggest ships: Here is a building yard for ships of war, and in King William's time, two eighty gun ships were launched here. It seems the safety of the creek, and the plenty of timber in the country behind it, is the reason of building so much in this place.

From hence when we come opposite to Southampton, we pass another creek, being the mouth of the river Itchen which comes down from Winchester, and is both very broad and deep, and the ferry men having a very sorry boat, we found it dangerous enough passing it: On the other bank stands the antient town of Southampton, and on the other side of Southampton comes down another large river, entring Southampton Water by Red-Bridge; so that the town of Southampton stands upon a point running out into the sea, between two very fine rivers, both navigable, up some length into the country, and particularly useful for the bringing down timber out of one of the best wooded counties in Britain; for the river on the west side of the town in particular comes by the edge of the great forest, call'd New-Forest; here we saw a prodigious quantity of timber, of an uncommon size, vastly large, lying on the shoar of the river, for above two miles in length, which they told us was brought thither from the forest, and left there to be fetch'd by the builders at Portsmouth-Dock, as they had occasion for it.

In riding over the south part of Hampshire, I made this observation about that growth of timber, which I mention in supplement to what I said before concerning our timber being wasted and decayed in England, (viz.) that notwithstanding the very great consumption of timber in King William's reign, by building or rebuilding almost the whole navy; and notwithstanding so many of the king's ships were built hereabouts, besides abundance of large merchant ships, which were about that time built at Southampton, at Redbridge, and at Bursleton, &c. yet I saw the gentlemens estates, within six, eight, or ten miles of Southampton, so over-grown with wood, and their woods so full of large full grown timber, that it seem'd as if they wanted sale for it, and that it was of little worth to them. In one estate at Hursely in particular near Winchester, the estate since bought by Mr. Cardonell, late manager for the Duke of Marlborough, and formerly belonging to Mr. Cromwell, grandson to Oliver Cromwell, the whole estate not above 8ool . per ann. in rent, they might have cut twenty thousand pounds worth of timber down, and yet have left the woods in a thriving condition; in another estate between that and Petersfield, of about 1000l . per ann. they told me they could fell a thousand pounds a year in good large timber fit for building, for twenty years together, and do the woods no harm: Colonel Norton also, a known gentleman, whose seat at Southwick is within six miles of Portsmouth, and within three miles of the water carriage; this gentleman they told me had an immense quantity of timber, some growing within sight of the very docks in Portsmouth: Farther west it is the like, and as I rode through New-Forest, I cou'd see the antient oaks of many hundred years standing, perishing with their wither'd tops advanced up in the air, and grown white with age, and that could never yet get the favour to be cut down, and made serviceable to their country.

These in my opinion are no signs of the decay of our woods, or of the danger of our wanting timber in England; on the contrary, I take leave to mention it again, that if we were employ'd in England, by the rest of the world, to build a thousand sail of three deck ships, from 80 to 100 guns, it might be done to our infinite advantage, and without putting us in any danger of exhausting the nation of timber.

I shall give other hints of the like, when I come to speak of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and the counties which we call inland, where the timber is really of small value, for want of water carriage to carry it away; likewise again in the counties northward, bordering upon the Humber, and upon all the northern rivers, not to say a word of Ireland; which is still a store-house of timber, more inexhaustible if possible than England.

Southampton is a truly antient town, for 'tis in a manner dying with age; the decay of the trade is the real decay of the town; and all the business of moment that is transacted there, is the trade between us and the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, with a little of the wine trade, and much smuggling: The building of ships also is much stop'd of late; however, the town is large, has many people in it, a noble fair High-Street, a spacious key; and if its trade should revive, is able to entertain great numbers of people: There is a French church, and no inconsiderable congregation, which was a help to the town, and there are still some merchants who trade to Newfoundland, and to the Streights with fish; but for all other trade, it may be said of Southampton as of other towns, London has eaten it up. The situation of the town between two rivers was to its advantage formerly in point of strength, and the town was wall'd with a very strong wall, strengthened with a rampart, and a double ditch; but I don ot hear that they ever were put to make much use of them.

Whatever the fable of Bevis of Southampton, and the gyants in the woods thereabouts may be deriv'd from, I found the people mighty willing to have those things pass for true; and at the north gate of the town, the only entrance from the land side, they have the figures of two eminent champions, who might pass for gyants if they were alive now, but they can tell us very little of their history, but what is all fabulous like the rest, so I say no more of them.

I was now at the extent of my intended journey west, and thought of looking no farther this way for the present, so I came away north east, leaving Winchester a little on the left, and came into the Portsmouth road at Petersfield, a town eminent for little, but its being full of good inns, and standing in the middle of a country, still over-grown with a prodigious quantity of oak-timber. From hence we came to Alton, and in the road thither, began a little to taste the pleasure of the Western Downs, which reach from Winchester almost to Alton.

The Duke of Bolton has two very noble seats in this country, one between Alton and Alresford; and one at Basing, of which hereafter. Alton is a small market-town, of no note, neither is there any considerable manufacture in all this part of England; except a little drugget and shalloon making, which begins hereabouts, otherwise the whole counties of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire, are not employ'd in any considerable woollen manufacture; what there is, I have spoken of about Cranbrook in Kent, Guilford, and Farnham in Surrey, and a little in the north part of Barkshire, all which put together, is not equal to one ordinary manufacturing village in Essex or Norfolk.

From Alton we came to Farnham, of which I can only say, that it is a large populous market-town, the farthest that way in the county of Surrey, and without exception the greatest corn-market in England, London excepted; that is to say, particularly for wheat, of which so vast a quantity is brought every market-day to this market, that a gentleman told me, he once counted on a market-day eleven hundred teams of horse, all drawing waggons, or carts, loaden with wheat at this market; every team of which is supposed to bring what they call a load, that is to say, forty bushel of wheat to market; which is in the whole, four and forty thousand bushel; but I do not take upon me to affirm this relation, or to say whether it be a probable opinion or not; I know some have thought the quantity has been much more; but this also was, I suppose, before the people of Chichester and Emsworth on one side, and Southampton, Tichfield, and Redbridge on the other, took to the trade of sending their wheat in meal to London by sea, as is mentioned above,

At this town is a castle eminent for this, that it was built by a Bishop of Winchester; and tho' its antiquity is evident, as far back as King Stephen; yet it remains to the Bishops of Winchester to this day. Here the said Bishops of Winchester usually keep their ordinary residence, and tho' the county of Surrey, be generally speaking within the diocess, they may be truly said to reside in the middle of their ecclesiastical dominion. The Farnham people it seems, or some of the country folks, notwithstanding the liberality and bounty of the several bishops, who, if some people may be believ'd, have been very good, benefactors to the town; I say, notwithstanding all this, have of late been very unkind to the bishop, in pulling down the pale of his park, and plundering it of the deer, killing, wounding, and disabling, even those they cou'd not carry away.

From Farnham, that I might take in the whole county of Surrey, I took the coach-road, over Bagshot-Heath, and that great forest, as 'tis call'd, of Windsor: Those that despise Scotland, and the north part of England, for being full of wast and barren land, may take a view of this part of Surrey, and look upon it as a foil to the beauty of the rest of England; or a mark of the just resentment shew'd by Heaven upon the Englishmen's pride; I mean the pride they shew in boasting of their country, its fruitfulness, pleasantness, richness, the fertility of the soil, &c. whereas here is a vast tract of land, some of it within seventeen or eighteen miles of the capital city; which is not only poor, but even quite steril, given up to barrenness, horrid and frightful to look on, not only good for little, but good for nothing; much of it is a sandy desert, and one may frequently be put in mind here of Arabia Deserta, where the winds raise the sands, so as to overwhelm whole caravans of travellers, cattle and people together; for in passing this heath, in a windy day, I was so far in danger of smothering with the clouds of sand, which were raised by the storm, that I cou'd neither keep it out of my mouth, nose or eyes; and when the wind was over, the sand appeared spread over the adjacent fields of the forest some miles distant, so as that it ruins the very soil. This sand indeed is checked by the heath, or heather, which grows in it, and which is the common product of barren land, even in the very Highlands of Scotland; but the ground is otherwise so poor and barren, that the product of it feeds no creatures, but some very small sheep, who feed chiefly on the said heather, and but very few of these, nor are there any villages, worth mentioning, and but few houses, or people for many miles far and wide; this desart lyes extended so much, that some say, there is not less than a hundred thousand acres of this barren land that lyes all together, reaching out every way in the three counties of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire; besides a great quantity of land, almost as bad as that between Godalming and Petersfield, on the road to Portsmouth, including some hills, call'd the Hind Head and others.

Thro' this desart, for I can call it no less, we come into the great western road, leading from London to Salisbury, Exeter, &c. and pass the Thames at Stanes; and here I could not but call to mind, upon viewing the beautiful prospect of the river, and of the meadows, on the banks of the river, on the left hand of the road, I say, I cou'd not but call to mind those two excellent lines of Sir John Denham, in his poem, call'd Cooper's Hill , viz.

Tho' deep, yet clear, tho' gentle, yet not dull,
Strong without rage, without overflowing full.

Here I remembered that I had yet left the inland towns of the two counties of Kent and Sussex, and almost all the county of Surrey out of my account; and that having as it were taken a circuit round the coast only, I had a great many places worth viewing to give an account of; I therefore left Windsor, which was within my view, on one side of the river, and Hampton Court on the other, as being the subject of another letter; and resolv'd to finish my present view, in the order I had begun it; That is to say, to give an account of the whole country as I come on; that I may make no incongruous transitions from one remote part of England to another, at least as few as may be.

From Stanes therefore I turn'd S. and S.E. to Chertsey, another market-town, and where there is a bridge over the Thames: This town was made famous, by being the burial place of Henry VI. till his bones were after removed to Windsor by Henry VII. also by being the retreat of the incomparable Cowley, where he liv'd withdrawn from the hurries of the Court and town, and where he dy'd so much a recluse, as to be almost wholly taken up in country business, farming and husbandry, for his diversion, not for bread, according to the publick flight of his own fancy.

From this town wholly employ'd, either in malting, or in barges to carry it down the river to London; I went away south to Woking, a private country market-town, so out of all road, or thorough-fare, as we call it, that 'tis very little heard of in England; it claims however some honour, from its being once the residence of a royal branch of the family of Plantagenet, the old Countess of Richmond, mother to King Henry VII, who made her last retreat here, where the king her son built, or rather repaired, an old royal house, on purpose for her residence, and where she ended her days in much honour and peace; the former part of her life having been sufficiently exposed to the storms and dangers of the times; especially under the tyranny and turbulent reign of the two precedent monarchs.

From hence we came to Guilford, a well known and considerable market-town: It has the name of being the county town, tho' it cannot properly be call'd so; neither the county gaol being here, or the assizes, any more than in common with other towns: But the election indeed for Parliament men for the county is always held here. The river which according to Mr. Camden is call'd the Wey, and which falls into the Thames at Oatlands, is made navigable to this town, which adds greatly to its trade; and by this navigation a very great quantity of timber is brought down to London, not from the neighbourhood of this town only, but even from the woody parts of Sussex and Hampshire above thirty miles from it, the country carriages bringing it hither in the summer by land: This navigation is also a mighty support to the great corn-market at Farnham, which I have mentioned so often: For as the meal-men and other dealers buy the corn at that market, much of it is brought to the mills on this river; which is not above seven miles distant, and being first ground and dress'd, is then sent down in the meal by barges to London; the expence of which is very small, as is practised on the other side of the Thames, for above fifty miles distance from London.

Here, as I observed in its place, is a small remainder of an old manufacture, that is to say, of the clothing trade, and it extends it self to Godalming, Haselmeer, and the vale country, on the side of the Holmwood; a place of which I shall speak on another occasion, quite to Darking: These cloths of a middling price, have formerly been in great repute, and then again were almost quite decay'd, but by the application and skill of the clothiers, maintained the credit of their make, and are encourag'd, and indeed revived in reputation of late years, when the clothiers of Cranbrook and Tenterden in Kent, whose goods are of the same kind, are almost sunk to nothing, as I have already observed.

This clothing trade, however small, is very assistant to the poor of this part of the country, where the lands, as I have noted, are but indifferent; except just above the great towns, and where abundance of the inhabitants are what we call cottagers, and live chiefly by the benefit of the large commons and heath ground, of which the quantity is so very great.

From this town of Guilford, the road to Farnham is very remarkable, for it runs along west from Guilford, upon the ridge of a high chalky hill, so narrow that the breadth of the road takes up the breadth of the hill, and the declivity begins on either hand, at the very hedge that bounds the highway, and is very steep, as well as very high; from this hill is a prospect either way, so far that 'tis surprising; and one sees to the north, or N.W. over the great black desart, call'd Bagshot-Heath, mentioned above, one way, and the other way south east into Sussex, almost to the South Downs, and west to an unbounded length, the horizon only restraining the eyes: This hill being all chalk, a traveller feels the effect of it in a hot summer's day, being scorch'd by the reflection of the sun from the chalk, so as to make the heat almost insupportable; and this I speak by my own experience: This hill reaches from Guilford town's end to within a mile and half of Farnham.

The hill, or the going up to it from Guilford rather, is call'd St. Katharine's-Hill, and at the top of the ascent from the town stands the gallows, which is so placed, respecting the town, that the towns people from the High-Street may sit at their shop doors, and see the criminals executed.

The great road from London to Chichester, and from London to Portsmouth, lying thro' this town; it is consequently a town very well furnish'd with inns for accommodation of travellers, as is Godalming, also the next town within three miles of it.

From Guilford there lies a cross-road, as it may be call'd, to London, not frequented by coaches or carriers, or the ordinary passengers to London; tho' 'tis by some reckon'd the nearest way, and is without question much the pleasanter road, if it is not the pleasantest in this part of England: (viz.) From this town to Letherhead, ten miles from Letherhead to London, over Banstead Downs fifteen miles, or if you please by Epsome seventeen miles; which, tho' it is call'd the farthest way, makes amends abundantly by the goodness of the way, and the advantage and pleasantness of the road.

The ten miles from Guilford to Leatherhead make one continued line of gentlemens houses, lying all, or most of them, on the west side of the road, and their parks, or gardens almost touching one another: Here are pleasantly seated several very considerable persons, as the posterity of Sir Tho. Bludworth, once Lord Mayor of London, a person famous for the implacable passion he put the people of London in, by one rash expression, at the time of the Great Fire: (viz.) "That it was nothing, and they might piss it out"; which was only spoken at the beginning of the fire, when neither Sir Thomas or the citizens themselves cou'd foresee the length it would go; and without any design to lessen their endeavours to quench it: But this they never forgot, or forgave to him, or his family after him; but fix'd the expression on him, as a mark of indelible reproach, even to this day: Among the other fine seats hi this row, is that of Arthur Moor, Esq; at Fetcham, where no cost has been spar'd to make a most beautiful and delicious situation be beholden to art, and which is set out at an immense charge: Near to Guilford, at the village of Clendon, at the west end of this line of fine seats, is the antient mansion of the Onslow's: The father of the present lord, was Sir Richard Onslow, Baronet; several years one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury or Admiralty; and created Baron Onslow by King GEORGE.

The seat is old, and the estate is old too (but the latter is much the better for its age) for it has been many years in the family, as appears in Mr. Camden, and has gone on, encreasing from hand to hand. The late Lord Onslow improved and beautify'd both the house and the estate too very much. The house has several times been honoured with the presence of both King William and King George; the former erected an annual race for a royal plate of 100 guineas, call'd the King's Gold Plate, to be run for every year, and the latter has been so good, as twice at least to honour the diversion with his presence.

At the like distance north from Guilford, and on the banks of the Wey, is a fine seat, every way as fit for the possession of a peer as is Clendon Park; and belonging to a branch of the same family, (viz.) to Denzil Onslow, Esq; uncle to the present Lord Onslow, younger brother to his father the first lord: This seat is call'd Pyrford, and is exceeding pleasant, especially for the most beautiful intermixture of wood, and water in the park, and gardens, and grounds adjoining; by which the possessor, whose genius lay wonderfully in improving lands, and making things more pleasant, brought Pyrford to such a perfection, as to be inferior to very few, if any, of the finest houses in Surrey; particularly in one thing, which is not found in all that part of England; namely, a duckoy, which adjoins to his park, and which makes the rest inimitably agreeable.

At the north east end of this range of fine seats, is Letherhead, a little thorough-fare town, with a stone-bridge over the river Mole; this river is called the Mole, from its remarkable sinking into the earth, at the foot of Box-Hill, near a village call'd Mickleham, and working its way under ground like a mole, rising again at or near this town of Leatherhead, where its wandering streams are united again, and form a pretty large river, as they were before, running together under Leatherhead Bridge, and from thence to Cobham, and so it pursues its course to the Thames, which it joins at Molesy, which takes its name to be sure from the name of the river Mole.

And here I cannot but take notice of an unaccountable error. which all the writers I have met with fall unwarily into, on account of this little river hiding itself in the earth, and finding its way under ground, from the foot of Beechworth, more properly Betsworth-Castle, near Box-Hill, and then rising again at Letherhead, as above; as if the water had at once ingulph'd itself in a chasm of the earth, or sunk in a whirlpit, as is said of the Caspian-Sea, which they say rises again in the Persian Gulph with the same violence that it ingulphs it self: Tis strange this error should prevail in this manner, and with men of learning too, and in a case so easily discover'd and so near. But thus it is, nor is it at all remote from the true design of this work, to undeceive the world in the false or mistaken accounts, which other men have given of things, especially when those mistakes are so demonstrably gross; and when the subject is significant too, as in this part now in hand: Mr. Camden expresses it thus: "The Mole," says he, "coming to White-Hill," (he should have said Box-Hill) "hides it self, or is rather swallow'd up at the foot of it; and for that reason the place is call'd Swallow, but after two miles it bubbles up, and rises again"; then he adds, (alluding to the river Guadiana in Castile) "that the inhabitants of this tract no less than the Spaniards may boast of having a bridge that feeds several flocks of sheep." Thus far Mr. Camden. The right reverend and learned editor of the Additions to Mr. Camden, makes it yet worse, speaking of Beechworth Castle, which is a mile before we come to Darking; and 'tis at the foot of this castle here, says his lordship, that the river Mole being nigh to the precipice of Box-Hill is swallow'd up.

Now 'tis something strange for me to take upon me, after two such authorities, to say, that neither of these is right. The accounts are so positive, that many curious people have rid thither to see this place, call'd Swallow, and to see this Beechworth Castle, at the foot of which the river is swallow'd up, not doubting but they should see some wonderful gulph, in which a whole river should be at once as it were bury'd alive; for Mr. Camden says, " Swallow is the place ": The bishop says," near Beechworth-Castle the river is swallowed up"; nay, and to make the wonder appear more conformable to the relation, the map of the county of Surrey, plac'd in Mr. Camden, makes a large blank between the river as swallowed up, a little off of Darking, and its rising again as at Leatherhead, breaking the river off abruptly, as if pouring its waters all at once into a great gulph, like one of the common-shores of the streets of London, and bringing it out again at once, just as the water of the brook running into Fleet-Ditch, comes out from under Holbourn-Bridge.

Now after all these plausible stories,, the matter of fact is this, and no more; and even of this, the thing is wonderful enough too: But I say, it is thus, and no more, (viz.)

The river Mole passes by Beechworth Castle in a full stream; and for near a mile farther on the west of the castle, it takes into its stream Darking-Brook, as they call it, and has upon it a large corn-mill, call'd Darking-Mill; below this it runs close at the foot of Box-Hill, near that part of the hill, which is call'd the Stomacher; then, as if obstructed by the hill, it turns a little south, and runs cross the road which leads from Darking to Leatherhead, where it is apparently rapid and strong; and then fetches a circuit round a park, formerly belonging to Sir Richard Studdolph, and which is part of it, within sight of Leatherhead, and so keeps a continued chanel to the very town of Leatherhead; so that there is no such thing as a natural bridge, or a river lost, no, not at all; and in the winter, in time of floods the stream will be very large, and rapid all the way above ground, which I affirm of my own knowledge, having seen it so, on many occasions.

But the true state of the case is this, the current of the river being much obstructed by the interposition of those hills, call'd Box-Hill, which tho' descending in a kind of vale, as if parted to admit the river to pass, and making that descent so low as to have the appearance of a level, near a village call'd Mickleham; I say, these hills yet interrupting the free course of the river, it forces the waters as it were to find their way thro' as well as they can; and in order to this, beginning, I say, where the river comes close to the foot of the precipice of Box-Hill, call'd the Stomacher, the waters sink insensibly away, and in some places are to be seen (and I have seen them) little chanels which go out on the sides of the river, where the water in a stream not so big as would fill a pipe of a quarter of an inch diameter, trills away out of the river, and sinks insensibly into the ground.

In this manner it goes away, lessening the stream for above a mile, near two, and these they call the Swallows; and the whole ground on the bank of the river, where it is flat and low, is full of these subterraneous passages; so that if on any sudden rain the river swells over the banks, it is observed not to go back into the chanel again when the flood abates, but to sink away into the earth in the meadows, where it spreads; a remarkable proof of which I shall give presently.

But now take this with you as you go, that these Swallows, for they are many, and not one call'd the Swallow, as is said in Mr. Camden; these Swallows (I say) tho' they diminish the stream much, do not so drink it up as to make it disappear: But that, where it crosses the road near Mickleham, it runs, as I have said, very sharp and broad, nor did I ever know it dry in the dryest summer in that place, tho' I liv'd in the neighbourhood several years: On the contrary I have known it so deep, that waggons and carriages have not dar'd to go thro'; but never knew it, I say, dry in the greatest time of drought.

Below this place the hills rise again on the other side very high, and particularly on the ridge, which the country people call the Ashcom-Hills, and they seem to force the river again west; so it surrounds most of the park I mentioned above, and has several bridges upon it, and by this time indeed, so much of it is sunk away, that in a very dry summer the chanel, tho' full of water in pits and holes cannot be perceiv'd to run; but this must be, I say, in a very dry season, and still there is the chanel visible where it runs at other times fiercely enough.

This part which I say has the least water, continuing about half a mile, we then perceive the chanel insensibly to have more water than before: That is to say, that as it sunk in gradually and insensibly, so it takes vent again in the like manner in thousands of little springs, and unseen places, very few in any quantity, till in another half mile, it is a full river again, and passes in full streams under Leatherhead-Bridge, as above, and for the truth of this, I appeal to the knowledge of the inhabitants of Darking, Mickleham, Leatherhead, and all the country round.

A farther proof of this, and which is the account which I promised above, relating to the gradual sinking away of the water, take as follows: It was in the year 1676, in the month of October, or thereabouts, that there happen'd a very sudden hasty land flood, which swell'd the river to a very great height; and particularly so high, that at Beechworth-Castle, and other gentlemen's seats, near the river, where they had fish-ponds that were fed by the river, it over-flowed their ponds, and carry'd off all their fish, or at least they thought so: Sir Adam Brown liv'd then at Beechworth-Castle, a gentleman in those days, well known in the country, for he was many years Knight of the Shire, of the family of Browns, a branch of the house of Montacutes at Midhurst, mentioned before, but a collateral line; another of the Browns liv'd at Bucknal, another at Darking, which I mention chiefly, because some ignorant writers, particularly the late Atlas, has confounded the title of Montacute with the sirname of Montague, which is quite another family, and generation, not at all ally'd, and nothing near so antient, but this by the by.

Sir Adam Brown's son, and the young gentlemen of these, and other neighbouring families, disturbed at the loss of their fish, and mov'd by the report, came all down to Darking; where they raised a little troop of the young fellows and boys of the town, and all went together, to that part of the river which runs by the foot of the Stomacher, as I said they call it, on Box-Hill.

There was a low flat piece of meadow ground, lying close to the river on one side; just opposite to which, the hill lying also-close to the river, made up the bank on the other: This piece of ground might contain about four or five acres, and lying, hollow in the middle, like the shape of a dripping-pan, was by the overflowing of the river full of water, and so full, that the bank, which lay close to the river, tho' higher than the rest, was not to be seen.

The gentlemen set themselves and all their little army at work, to raise this bank, which I say, lay between the river and the hollow of the field, so as to separate the water in the hollow part of the field from that in the river, and having so many hands, they effected that part the first day; and made a solid dam or bank, so that they cou'd walk upon it dry footed; then they made a return to it, at the upper, or east end of the field; so that in short, no more water could run into the field from any part of the river.

When this was done, they built hutts or booths, and made fires, and sent for victuals and drink to treat their young company, and there they encamp'd, as if they waited some great event; and so indeed they did, for in about two nights and a day, exclusive of the time they took in making their dams, the water sunk all away in the field; and the consequence of that was, that the fish being surrounded, were catch'd, as it were, in a trap, for they cou'd not be swallow'd up with the water; and the purchase fully recompenc'd their labour, for the like quantity of fish, great and small, I believe was never taken at once in this kingdom, out of so small a river.

This story would have nothing in it wonderful, or to make it worth recording, were it not so evident a demonstration of the manner of this river losing it self under ground, or being swallowed up, as they call it; for this field where the water sunk away is just at the place, which Mr. Cambden calls the Swallows, near the village of Mickleham; and under the precipice of the hill, and yet the water was two nights and a day, as I say, sinking leisurely off; and in this manner, and in no other, does the whole river, or so much of it as passes under ground, sink away.

The town of Darking is eminent for several little things worth observation; as first, for the great Roman highway, call'd Stormy-street, which Mr. Cambden says, passes through the very church-yard of this town: Secondly, for a little common or heath, call'd the Cottman Dean, or the dean or heath of poor cottagers, for so the word signifies, belonging to the town; and where their alms-house stands; which some learned physicians have singled out for the best air in England: Thirdly, for Mr. Howard's house and garden, call'd Deaden, the garden is so naturally mounded with hills, that it makes a compleat amphitheatre, being an oblong square, the area about eighty yards by forty, and the hills unpassably steep, serve instead of walls, and are handsomely planted with trees, whose tops rising above one another gradually, as the hill rises at their roots, make a most beautiful green wall, of perhaps fifty or sixty foot high; at the north end, which is the entrance, is the house, which closes it wholly; and at the south end, the antient possessor, Mr. Howard, by what we call perforation, caused a vault or cave to be made quite through the hill, which came out again into a fine vineyard, which he planted the same year, on the south side, or slope of the hill, and which they say has produced since most excellent good wines, and a very great quantity of them.

Mr. Howard was an honourable and antient gentleman, younger brother to the old Duke of Norfolk, then living: (viz.) In the year 1676, for in that year, or the year before, was that vineyard planted, and tho' Mr. Howard was then upwards of sixty years of age, he enjoy'd that pleasant seat near thirty years after.

At this town liv'd another antient gentleman and his son, of a very good family; (viz.) Augustin Bellson, Esq; or as some write it Belschon, the father was measured seven foot and half an inch high, allowing all that he might have sunk, for his age, being seventy one years old; and the son measured two inches taller than his father.

These families were Roman, as were several others thereabouts at that time; but were soon after that, upon the breaking out of the Popish Plot, dispers'd; some one way, and some another, as the fate of those times oblig'd them to do; tho' I do not remember that any part of the scenes of treason were lay'd about Darking, or that any of the Romish gentlemen thereabout were charged with being concern'd with them.

The market of Darking cannot be omitted, as it relates to my design of giving an account of the several parts of England; from whence this great city of London, and all the dainty doings, which are to be seen there, as to eating, is supply'd with provisions.

This market is of all the markets in England famous for poultry; and particularly for the fattest geese, and the largest capons, the name of a Darking Capon being well known among the poulterers in Leaden-Hall Market; in a word, they are brought to this market from as far as Horsham in Sussex; and 'tis the business of all the country, on that side for many miles, to breed and fatten them up, insomuch, that 'tis like a manufacture to the country people; and some of these capons are so large, as that they are little inferior to turkeys; and I have seen them sold for 4s. to 4s. 6d. each, and weighing from 4/. to 5 or 61. a peice.

Once a year here is also a fair, (viz.) on Holy Thursday, chiefly for lambs, and the greatest fair in England of that kind: I have pass'd over the so much celebrated house of Mr. Evelyn at Wotton, near Darking, not that it is not worth notice, but because so many other writers have said so much of it.

On the top of Box-Hill, and in view of this town, grows a very great beech-tree, which by way of distinction is call'd the Great Beech, and a very great tree it is; but I mention it on the following account, under the shade of this tree, was a little vault or cave, and here every Sunday, during the summer season, there used to be a rendezvous of coaches and horsemen, with abundance of gentlemen and ladies from Epsome to take the air, and walk in the box-woods; and in a word, divert, or debauch, or perhaps both, as they thought fit, and the game encreased so much, that it began almost on a sudden, to make a great noise in the country.

A vintner who kept the King's-Arms-Inn, at Darking, taking notice of the constant and unusual flux of company thither, took the hint from the prospect of his advantage, which offer'd, and obtaining leave of Sir Adam Brown, whose mannor and land it was, furnish'd this little cellar or vault with tables, chairs, &c. and with wine and eatables to entertain the ladies and gentlemen on Sunday nights, as above; and this was so agreeable to them as that it encreased the company exceedingly; in a word, by these means, the concourse of gentry, and in consequence of the country people, became so great, that the place was like a little fair; so that at length the country began to take notice of it, and it was very offensive, especially to the best governed people; this lasted some years, I think two or three, and tho' complaint was made of it to Sir Adam Brown, and the neighbouring justices; alledging the revelling, and the indecent mirth that was among them, and on the Sabbath Day too, yet it did not obtain a suitable redress: whereupon a certain set of young men, of the town of Darking, and perhaps prompted by some others, resenting the thing also, made an unwelcome visit to the place once on a Saturday night, just before the usual time of their wicked mirth, and behold when the coaches and ladies, &c. from Epsome appear'd the next afternoon, they found the cellar or vault, and all that was in it, blown up with gun-powder; and so secret was it kept, that upon the utmost enquiry it cou'd never be heard, or found out who were the persons that did it: That action put an end to their revels for a great while; nor was the place ever repaired that I heard of, at least it was not put to the same wicked use that it was employ'd in before.

From this hill, and particularly from this part of it, is a fair view in clear weather quite over the Wild of Sussex, to the South-Downs; and by the help of glasses, those who know where things are scituated, may plainly see the town of Horsham, Ashdown-Forest, the Duke of Somerset's house at Petworth, and the South-Downs, as they range between Brighthelmston and Arundel; besides an unbounded prospect into Kent.

The vale beneath this hill is for many miles east and west, call'd the Holmward, by some the Holm-Wood, others Holmsdale; but more vulgarly the Homeward: In the woody part of which are often found outlying red deer, and in the days of King James II. or while he was Duke of York, they have hunted the largest stags here that have been seen in England; the duke took great care to have them preserved for his own sport, and they were so preserv'd for many years; but have since that been most of them destroyed.

This Homeward, or Holmwood, is a vale, which is now chiefly grown with furz, famous for the country people gathering such quantities of strawberries, as they carry them to market by horse-loads: I saw neither town or village, for many miles on it, much less any gentlemen's seats, only cottages and single houses; but vast quantities of geese and poultry, which as is said above, employs all the country in breeding them up: There has been large timber here, (they say) but most of it is cut down and gone, except that where there are any woods standing, the timber is still exceeding good and large.

It is suggested that this place was in antient times so unpassable a wild, or overgrown waste, the woods so thick, and the extent so large, reaching far into Sussex, that it was the retreat for many ages of the native Britons, who the Romans cou'd never drive out; and after that it was the like to the Saxons, when the Danes harrass'd the nation with their troops, and ravag'd the country wherever they came; and on this account they retain here in memory the following lines.

This is Holmes Dale,
Never conquer'd, never shall.

But this is a piece of history, which I leave as I find it; the country tho' wild still, and perhaps having the same countenance now in many places, as it had above a thousand years ago; yet in other places is cultivated, and has roads passable enough in the summer quite thro' it, on every side, and the woods are clear'd off in a great measure as above.

Keeping at the bottom of these hills, and yet not enter'd into this vale, the county is dry, and rather sandy or gravel, and is full of gentlemen's houses, and of good towns; but if we go but a little to the right hand south, into the said wild part, 'tis a deep, strong, and in the wet season, an unpassable clay.

Here travelling east at the foot of the hills, we came to Rygate, a large market-town with a castle, and a mansion-house, inhabited for some years by Sir John Parsons, once Lord Mayor of London, and whose son is hi a fair way to be so also; being one of the aldermen and sheriffs of the said city at the writing these sheets.

Here are two miserable borough towns too, which nevertheless send each of them two members to Parliament, to wit, Gatton under the side of the hill, almost at Rygate; and Bleechingly, more eastward on the same cross-road, which we were upon before: In the first of these Sir John Thomson, (afterwards Lord Haversham) having purchas'd the mannor, was always elected; as Mr. Paul Docminique, an Italian merchant, has been since: The last was for many years, the estate of Sir Robert Clayton, a known citizen, and benefactor to the city of London, whose posterity still enjoy it: And at either town the purchasers seem to buy the election with the property.

At Nutfield, between Rygate and Bleechingly, is another branch of the family of Evelyn, who have flourish'd there many years, tho' in a kind of retreat, and are often chosen representatives for the town of Bleechingly, which is just at their door.

From hence, crossing still the roads leading from London into Sussex, we come to a village call'd Godstone, which lyes on the road from London to Lewis; and keeping on (east) we come to Westerham, the first market town in Kent on that side: This is a neat handsome well built market-town, and is full of gentry, and consequently of good company. The late Earl of Jersey built, or rather finished, for it was begun by a private gentleman, a very noble house here, which still remains in the family, and is every year made finer and finer.

All this part of the country is very agreeably pleasant, wholesome and fruitful, I mean quite from Guildford to this place; and is accordingly overspread with good towns, gentlemen's houses, populous villages, abundance of fruit, with hop-grounds and cherry orchards, and the lands well cultivated; but all on the right-hand, that is to say, south, is exceedingly grown with timber, has abundance of waste and wild grounds, and forests, and woods, with many large iron-works, at which they cast great quantities of iron caldrons, chimney-backs, furnaces, retorts, boiling pots, and all such necessary things of iron; besides iron cannon, bomb-shells, stink-pots, hand-grenadoes, and cannon ball, &c. in an infinite quantity, and which turn to very great account; tho' at the same time the works are prodigiously expensive, and the quantity of wood they consume is exceeding great, which keeps up that complaint I mention'd before; that timber would grow scarce, and consequently dear, from the great quantity consumed in the iron-works in Sussex.

From hence going forward east, we come to Riverhead, a town on the road from London to Tunbridge; and then having little to speak of in Kent, except some petty market-towns, such as Wrotham, commonly call'd Rootham, Town-Mailing, Cranbrook, and the like; of which something had been observed, as I travell'd forward, in the beginning of this circuit, I turn'd north, and came to Bromley, a market-town, made famous by an hospital, lately built there by Dr. Warner, Lord Bishop of Rochester, for the relief of the widows of clergy-men, which was not only well endow'd at first, but has had many gifts and charities bestow'd on it since, and is a very noble foundation for the best of charities in the world; besides it has been an example, and an encouragement to the like in other places, and has already been imitated, as Mr. Camden's most reverend continuator assures us, by the Bishops of Winchester and Salisbury in their diocesses.

Near this town we turn'd away by Beckenham, and thro' Norwood to Croydon; in the way we saw Dullige or Sydenham Wells, where great crouds of people throng every summer from London to drink the waters, as at Epsome and Tunbridge; only with this difference, that as at Epsome and Tunbridge, they go more for the diversion of the season, for the mirth and the company; for gaming, or intrieguing, and the like, here they go for meer physick, and this causes another difference; Namely, that as the nobility and gentry go to Tunbridge, the merchants and rich citizens to Epsome; so the common people go chiefly to Dullwich and Stretham; and the rather also, because it lyes so near London, that they can walk to it in the morning, and return at night; which abundance do; that is to say, especially of a Sunday, or on holidays, which makes the better sort also decline the place; the croud on those days being both unruly and unmannerly.

Croydon is a great corn-market, but chiefly for oats and oatmeal, all for London still; the town is large and full of citizens from London, which makes it so populous; it is the antient palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and several of them lye buried here; particularly that great man, Archbishop Whitgift, who not only repair'd the palace, but built the famous hospital and school, which remains there to this day, to the singular honour of the giver.

In the gardens of this episcopal palace, the Lady Dowager Onslow, mother of the present lord of that name, of whom mention has been made, was very unhappily drown'd about two year since, in one of the fish-ponds, whether she did it herself, or whether by accident, or how, 'tis not the business of such a work as this to enquire; her daughter being the wife of Sir John Williams, merchant of London, had hired the house, and she was in his family.

From hence we pass'd by Beddington, where is still the seat or mansion house of Sir Nicholas Carew, it was a fine building in Mr. Camden's time; but is now almost rebuilt from the ground, by the present owner, Sir Nicholas Carew, who now possesses that estate, and who is one of the representatives for the county of Surrey; the house is magnificently great, and the gardens are exquisitely fine; yet architects say, that the two wings are too deep for the body of the house, that they should either have been wider asunder, or not so long; the court before them is extreamly fine, and the canal in the park, before the court, is so well that nothing can be better, having a river running through it; the gardens are exceedingly enlarged, they take up all the flat part of the park, with vista's, or prospects thro' the park, for two or three miles; the orange-trees continue, and are indeed wonderful; they are the only standard orange-trees in England, and have moving houses to cover them in the winter; they are loaded with fruit in the summer, and the gardners told us, they have stood in the ground where they now grow above 80 years.

I am sorry to record it to the reproach of any person in their grave, that the ancestor of this family, tho' otherwise a very honest gentleman, if fame lyes not, was so addicted to gaming, and so unfortunately over-match'd in his play, that he lost this noble seat and parks, and all the fine addenda which were then about it, at one night's play, some say, at one cast of dice, to Mr. Harvey of Comb, near Kingston; What misery had befallen the family, if the right of the winner had been prosecuted with rigour, as by what I have heard it would have been, is hard to write: But God had better things in store for the gentleman's posterity than he took thought for himself; and the estate being entail'd upon the heir, the loser dy'd before it came into possession of the winner, and so it has been preserv'd, and the present gentleman has not only recovered the disaster, but as above, has exceedingly improved it all.

From hence it is but a little mile to Cashalton, a country village scituate among innumerable springs of water, which all together, form a river in the very street of the town, and joining the other springs which come from Croydon and Bedington, make one stream, which are call'd the river Wandell: This village seated among such delightful springs, is yet all standing upon firm chalk; and having the Downs close adjoining, makes the most agreeable spot on all this side of London, as is abundantly testify'd by its being, as it were, crouded with fine houses of the citizens of London; some of which are built with such a profusion of expence, that they look rather like seats of the nobility, than the country houses of citizens and merchants; particularly those of Sir William Scawen, lately deceased; who besides an immense estate in money has left, as I was told, one article of nine thousand pounds a year to his heir; and was himself since the Fire of London, only Mr. Scawen, a Hamborough merchant, dealing by commission, and not in any view of such an encrease of wealth, or any thing like it.

The other house is that of Sir John Fellows, late sub-governor of the South-Sea Company, who having the misfortune to fall in the general calamity of the late directors, lost all his unhappy wealth, which he had gain'd in the company, and a good and honestly gotten estate of his own into the bargain: I cannot dwell on the description of all the fine houses in this and the neighbouring vilages; I shall speak of them again in bulk with their neighbours, of Mitcham, Stretham, Tooting, Clapham, and others; but I must take a trip here cross the Downs to Epsome-

Banstead Downs need no description other than this, that their being so near London, and surrounded as they are with pleasant villages, and being in themselves perfectly agreeable, the ground smooth, soft, level and dry; (even in but a few hours after rain) they conspire to make the most delightful spot of ground, of that kind in all this part of Britain.

When on the publick race days they are cover'd with coaches and ladies, and an innumerable company of horsemen, as well gentlemen as citizens, attending the sport; and then adding to the beauty of the sight, the racers flying over the course, as if they either touched not, or felt not the ground they run upon; I think no sight, except that of a victorious army, under the command of a Protestant King of Great Britain could exceed it.

About four miles, over those delicious Downs, brings us to Epsome, and if you will suppose me to come there in the month of July, or thereabouts, you may think me to come in the middle of the season, when the town is full of company, and all disposed to mirth and pleasantry; for abating one unhappy stock jobbing year, when England took leave to act the frantick, for a little while; and when every body's heads were turn'd with projects and stocks, I say, except this year, we see nothing of business in the whole conversation of Epsome; even the men of business, who are really so when in London; whether it be at the Exchange, the Alley, or the Treasury-Offices, and the Court; yet here they look as if they had left all their London thoughts behind them, and had separated themselves to mirth and good company; as if they came hither to unbend the bow of the mind, and to give themselves a loose to their innocent pleasures; I say, innocent, for such they may enjoy here, and such any man may make his being here, if he pleases.

As, I say, this place seems adapted wholly to pleasure, so the town is suited to it; 'tis all rural, the houses are built at large, not many together, with gardens and ground about them; that the people who come out of their confined dwellings in London, may have air and liberty, suited to the design of country lodgings.

You have no sooner taken lodgings, and enter'd the apartments, but if you are any thing known, you walk out, to see who and who's together; for 'tis the general language of the place, Come let's go see the town, folks don't come to Epsome to stay within doors.

The next morning you are welcom'd with the musick under your chamber window; but for a shilling or two you get rid of them, and prepare for going to the Wells.

Here you have the compliment of the place, are enter'd into the list of the pleasant company, so you become a citizen of Epsome for that summer; and this costs you another shilling, or if you please, half a crown: Then you drink the waters, or walk about as if you did; dance with the ladies, tho' it be in your gown and slippers; have musick and company of what kind you like, for every man may sort himself as he pleases; The grave with the grave, and the gay with the gay, the bright, and the wicked; all may be match'd if they seek for it, and perhaps some of the last may be over-match'd, if they are not upon their guard.

After the morning diversions are over, and every one are walk'd home to their lodgings, the town is perfectly quiet again; nothing is to be seen, the Green, the Great Room, the raffling-shops all are (as if it was a trading town on a holiday) shut up; there's little stirring, except footmen, and maid servants, going to and fro of errands, and higglers and butchers, carrying provisions to people's lodgings.

This takes up the town till dinner is over, and the company have repos'd for two or three hours in the heat of the day; then the first thing you observe is, that the ladies come to the shady seats, at their doors, and to the benches in the groves, and cover'd walks; (of which, every house that can have them, is generally supply'd with several). Here they refresh with cooling liquors, agreeable conversation, and innocent mirth.

Those that have coaches, or horses (as soon as the sun declines) take the air on the Downs, and those that have not, content themselves with staying a little later, and when the air grows cool, and the sun low, they walk out under the shade of the hedges and trees, as they find it for their diversion: In the mean time, towards evening the Bowling-green begins to fill, the musick strikes up in the Great Room, and company draws together a-pace: And here they never fail of abundance of mirth, every night being a kind of ball; the gentlemen bowl, the ladies dance, others raffle, and some rattle; conversation is the general pleasure of the place, till it grows late, and then the company draws off; and, generally speaking, they are pretty well as to keeping good hours; so that by eleven a clock the dancing generally ends, and the day closes with good wishes, and appointments to meet the next morning at the Wells, or somewhere else.

The retir'd part of the world, of which also there are very many here, have the waters brought home to their apartments in the morning, where they drink and walk about a little, for assisting the physical operation, till near noon, then dress dinner, and repose for the heat as others do; after which they visit, drink tea, walk abroad, come to their lodgings to supper, then walk again till it grows dark, and then to bed: The greatest part of the men, I mean of this grave sort, may be supposed to be men of business, who are at London upon business all the day, and thronging to their lodgings at night, make the families, generally speaking, rather provide suppers than dinners; for 'tis very frequent for the trading part of the company to place their families here, and take their horses every morning to London, to the Exchange, to the Alley, or to the warehouse, and be at Epsome again at night; and I know one citizen that practised it for several years together, and scarce ever lay a night in London during the whole season.

This, I say, makes the good wives satisfy themselves with providing for the family, rather at night than at noon, that their husbands may eat with them; after which they walk abroad as above, and these they call the sober citizens, and those are not much at the Wells, or at the Green; except sometimes, when they give themselves a holiday, or when they get sooner home than usual.

Nor are these which I call the more retir'd part the company, the least part of those that fill up the town of Epsome, nor is their way of living so retir'd, but that there is a great deal of society, mirth, and good manners, and good company among these too.

The fine park of the late Earl of Berkeley, near Epsome, was formerly a great addition to the pleasure of the place, by the fine walks and cool retreats there; but the earl finding it absolutely necessary, for a known reason, to shut it up, and not permit any walking there, that relief to the company was abated for some years; but the pleasures of nature are so many round the town, the shady trees so every where planted, and now generally well grown, that it makes Epsome like a great park fill'd with little groves, lodges and retreats for coolness of air, and shade from the sun; and I believe, I may say, it is not to be matched in the world, on that account; at least, not in so little a space of ground.

It is to be observ'd too, that for shady walks, and innumerable numbers of trees planted before the houses, Epsome differs much from it self, that is to say, as it was twenty or thirty years ago; for then those trees that were planted, were generally young, and not grown; and now not only all the trees then young, are grown large and fair, but thousands are planted since; so that the town, at a distance, looks like a great wood full of houses, scatter'd every where, all over it.

In the winter this is no place for pleasure indeed; as it is full of mirth and gayety in the summer, so the prospect in the winter presents you with little, but good houses shut up, and windows fasten'd; the furniture taken down, the families remov'd, the walks out of repair, the leaves off of the trees, and the people out of the town; and which is still worse, the ordinary roads both to it, and near it, except only on the side of the Downs, are deep, stiff, full of sloughs, and, in a word, impassable; for all the country, the side of the Downs, as I have said, only excepted, is a deep stiff clay; so that there's no riding in the winter without the utmost fatiegue, and some hazard, and this is the reason that Epsome is not (like Hampstead or Richmond) full of company in winter as well as summer.

From Epsome that I might thoroughly visit the county of Surrey, I rode over those clays, and through very bad roads to Kingstone, and from thence keeping the bank of the river on my right hand, I had a fine view of Hampton-Court, at a distance, but had reserved it for another journey; and was bound now in search of a piece of antiquity to satisfy my own curiosity, this was to Oatland, that I might see the famous place where Julius Caesar pass'd the river Thames in the sight of the British army, and notwithstanding they had stuck the river full of sharp stakes for three miles together.

The people said several of those stakes were still to be seen in the bottom of the river, having stood there for now above 1760 years; but they cou'd show me none of them, tho' they call the place Coway Stakes to this day; I cou'd make little judgment of the thing, only from this, that it really seems probable, that this was the first place where Caesar at that time cou'd find the river fordable, or any way passable to him, who had no boats, no pontons, and no way to make bridges over, in the teeth of so powerful, and so furious an enemy; but the Roman valour and discipline surmounted all difficulties, and he pass'd the army, routing the Britons; whose king and general, Cassibellanus, never offer'd a pitch'd battle to the Romans afterward.

Satisfy'd with what little I cou'd see here, which indeed was nothing at all, but the meer place, said to be so; and which it behov'd me to believe, only because it was not unlikely to be true; I say, satisfy'd with this, I came back directly to Kingstone, a good market-town, but remarkable for little, only that they say, the antient British and Saxon kings were usually crown'd here in former times, which I will neither assert or deny.

But keeping the river now on my left, as I did before on my right-hand, drawing near to London, we came to Hame and Peterson, little villages; the first, famous for a most pleasant pallace of the late Duke of Lauderdale, close by the river; a house King Charles II. used to be frequently at, and be exceedingly pleased with; the avenues of this fine house to the land side, come up to the end of the village of Peterson, where the wall of New Park comes also close to the town, on the other side; in an angle of which stood a most delicious house, built by the late Earl of Rochester, Lord High Treasurer in King James II's. reign, as also in part of Queen Ann's reign, which place he discharged so well, that we never heard of any misapplications, so much as suggested, much less inquired after.

I am oblig'd to say only, that this house stood here; for even while this is writing the place seems to be but smoaking with the ruins of a most unhappy disaster, the whole house being a few months ago burnt down to the ground with a fire, so sudden, and so furious, that the family who were all at home, had scarce time to save their lives.

Nor was the house, tho' so exquisitely finished, so beautiful within and without, the greatest loss sustained; the rich furniture, the curious collection of paintings; and above all, the most curious collection of books, being the library of the first Earl of Clarendon, Lord Chancellor of England, and author of that most excellent History of the Rebellion, of which the world knows so much; I say, this library, as I am assur'd, was here wholly consumed; a loss irreparable, and not to be sufficiently regretted by all lovers of learning, having among other valuable things, several manuscripts relating to those times, and to things transacted by himself, and by the king his master, both at home and abroad; and of other antient things, collected by that noble and learned author in foreign countries; which both for their rariety, antiquity, and authority, were of an inestimable value.

From hence we come to Richmond, the delightful retreat of their royal highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and where they have spent the fine season every summer for some years: The prince's Court being so near must needs have fill'd Richmond, which was before a most agreeable retreat for the first and second rate gentry, with a great deal of the best company in England: This town and the country adjacent, encrease daily in buildings, many noble houses for the accommodation of such, being lately rais'd and more in prospect: But 'tis fear'd should the prince come, for any cause that may happen, to quit that side of the country, those numerous buildings must abate in the value which is now set upon them: The company however, at Richmond, is very great in the winter, when the prince's Court is not there; because of the neighbourhood of so many gentlemen, who live constantly there, and thereabouts; and of its nearness to London also; and in this it has the advantage both of Epsome and Tunbridge.

Here are wells likewise, and a mineral-water, which tho' not so much us'd as that at Epsome and Tunbridge, are yet sufficient to keep up the forms of the place, and bring the company together in the morning, as the musick does in the evening; and as there is more of quality in and about the place than is ordinarily to be seen at Epsome, the company is more shining, and sometimes even illustriously bright.

Mr. Temple created Baron Temple, of the kingdom of Ireland, even since this circuit was performed; and who is the son and successor to the honour, estate, and great part of the character of the great Sir William Temple, has a fine seat and gardens (hard by) at Shene; The gardens are indeed exquisitely fine, being finished, and even contrived by the great genius of Sir William, his father; and as they were his last delight in life, so they were every way suited to be so, to a man of his sense and capacity, who knew what kind of life was best fitted to make a man's last days happy.

It is not easy to describe the beauty with which the banks of the Thames shine on either side of the river, from hence to London, much more than our ancestors, even of but one age ago, knew any thing of: If for pleasant villages, great houses, palaces, gardens, &c. it was true in Queen Elizabeth's time, according to the poet, that

The Thames with royal Tyber may compare. I say, if this were true at that time, what may be said of it now? when for one fine house that was to be seen then, there are a hundred; nay, for ought I know, five hundred to be seen now, even as you sit still in a boat, and pass up and down the river.

First beginning from Ham-House, as above, the prince's palace salutes the eye, being formerly no more than a lodge in the park, and by that means belonging to the ranger, who was then, the (since unhappy) Duke of Ormond, and who, with other branches of a noble estate, lost this among the rest by his precipitate retreat from the Parliamentary justice: I have seen many of the seats of the nobility in France, and some larger, but none finer than this, except such as had been lay'd out at the royal expence.

From Richmond to London, the river sides are full of villages, and those villages so full of beautiful buildings, charming gardens, and rich habitations of gentlemen of quality, that nothing in the world can imitate it; no, not the country for twenty miles round Paris, tho' that indeed is a kind of prodigy.

To enumerate the gentlemen's houses in their view, would be too long for this work to describe them, would fill a large folio; it shall suffice to observe something concerning the original of the strange passion, for fine gardens, which has so commendably possess'd the English gentlemen of late years, for 'tis evident it is but of late years.

It is since the Revolution that our English gentlemen, began so universally, to adorn their gardens with those plants, we call ever greens, which leads me to a particular observation that may not be improper in this place; King William and Queen Mary introduced each of them two customs, which by the people's imitating them became the two idols of the town, and indeed of the whole kingdom; the queen brought in (I.) the love of fine East-India callicoes, such as were then call'd Masslapatan chints, atlasses, and fine painted callicoes, which afterwards descended into the humours of the common people so much, as to make them greivous to our trade, and ruining to our manufactures and the poor; so that the Parliament were oblig'd to make two Acts at several times to restrain, and at last prohibit the use of them: (2.) The queen brought in the custom or humour, as I may call it, of furnishing houses with china-ware, which increased to a strange degree afterwards, piling their china upon the tops of cabinets, scrutores, and every chymney-piece, to the tops of the ceilings, and even setting up shelves for their china-ware, where they wanted such places, till it became a grievance in the expence of it, and even injurious to their families and estates.

The good queen far from designing any injury to the country where she was so entirely belov'd, little thought she was in either of these laying a foundation for such fatal excesses, and would no doubt have been the first to have reform'd them had she lived to see it.

The king on his part introduc'd (1.) the love of gardening;* and (2.) of painting: In the first his majesty was particularly delighted with the decoration of ever greens, as the greatest addition to the beauty of a garden, preserving the figure of the place, even in the roughest part of an inclement and tempestuous winter.

Sir Stephen Fox's gardens at Istleworth, and Sir William Temple's at Eastshene, mentioned above, were the only two gardens where they had entirely persued this method at that time, and of Sir Stephen's garden, this was to be said, that almost all his fine ever-greens were raised in the places where they stood; Sir Stephen taking as much delight to see them rise gradually, and form them into what they were to be, as to buy them of the nursery gardeners, finish'd to his hand; besides that by this method his greens, the finest in England, cost him nothing but the labour of his servants, and about ten years patience; which if they were to have been purchased, would not have cost so little as ten thousand pounds, especially at that time: It was here that King William was so pleased that according to his majesty's usual expression, when he lik'd a place very well, he stood, and looking round him from the head of one of the canals, Well says his majesty, I cou'd dwell here five days; every thing was so exquisitely contriv'd, finish'd, and well kept, that the king, who was allow'd to be the best judge of such things then living in the world, did not so much as once say, this or that thing cou'd have been better.

With the particular judgment of the king, all the gentlemen in England began to fall in; and in a few years fine gardens, and fine houses began to grow up in every corner; the king began with the gardens at Hampton-Court and Kensington, and the gentlemen follow'd every where, with such a gust that the alteration is indeed wonderful thro' the whole kingdom; but no where more than in the two counties of Middlesex and Surrey, as they border on the river Thames; the beauty and expence of which are only to be wonder'd at, not described; they may indeed be guess'd at, by what is seen in one or two such as these nam'd: But I think to enter into a particular of them would be an intolerable task, and tedious to the reader.

That these houses and gardens are admirably beautiful in their kind, and in their separate, and distinct beauties, such as their scituation, decoration, architect, furniture, and the like, must be granted; and many descriptions have been accurately given of them, as of Ham-House, Qew-Green, the Prince's House, Sir William Temple's, Sir Charles Hedges, Sion-House, Osterly, Lord Ranelagh's at Chelsea-Hospital; the many noble seats in Istleworth, Twittenham, Hamersmith, Fullham, Puttney, Chelsea, Battersea, and the like.

But I find none has spoken of what I call the distant glory of all these buildings: There is a beauty in these things at a distance, taking them en passant , and in perspective, which few people value, and fewer understand; and yet here they are more truly great, than in all their private beauties whatsoever; Here they reflect beauty, and magnificence upon the whole country, and give a kind of a character to the island of Great Britain in general. The banks of the Sein are not thus adorn'd from Paris to Roan, or from Paris to the Loign above the city: The Danube can show nothing like it above and below Vienna, or the Po above and below Turin; the whole country here shines with a lustre not to be described; Take them in a remote view, the fine seats shine among the trees as jewels shine in a rich coronet; in a near sight they are meer pictures and paintings; at a distance they are all nature, near hand all art; but both in the extreamest beauty.

In a word, nothing can be more beautiful; here is a plain and pleasant country, a rich fertile soil, cultivated and enclosed to the utmost perfection of husbandry, then bespangled with villages; those villages fill'd with these houses, and the houses surrounded with gardens, walks, vistas, avenues, representing all the beauties of building, and all the pleasures of planting: It is impossible to view these countries from any rising ground and not be ravish'd with the delightful prospect: For example, suppose you take your view from the little rising hills about Clapham, if you look to the east, there you see the pleasant villages of Peckham and Camberwell, with some of the finest dwellings about London; as (1) the Lord Powis's at Peckham: (2) a house built by a merchant, one Collins, but now standing empty at Camberwell, but justly call'd a picture of a house, and several others: Then turning south, we see Loughborough-House near Kennington, Mr. Howland's, now the Dutchess of Bedford's, at Stretham; Sir Richard Temple's house near Croydon; a whole town of fine houses at Cashalton; Sir Nicholas Carew's, and Sir John Lake's at Bedington; Sir Theodore Janssen another South-Sea forfeiture at Wimbleton; Sir James Bateman's at Tooting; besides an innumerable number in Clapham it self: On the south west also you have Mr. Harvey's at Coomb, formerly the palace of a king; with all the villages mentioned above, and the country adjoining fill'd with the palaces of the British nobility and gentry already spoken of; looking north, behold, to crown all, a fair prospect of the whole city of London it self; the most glorious sight without exception, that the whole world at present can show, or perhaps ever cou'd show since the sacking of Rome in the European, and the burning the Temple of Jerusalem in the Asian part of the world.

Add to all this, that these fine houses and innumerable more, which cannot be spoken of here, are not, at least very few of them, the mansion houses of families, the antient residences of ancestors, the capital messuages of the estates; nor have the rich possessors any lands to a considerable value about them; but these are all houses of retreat, like the Bastides of Marseilles, gentlemen's meer summer-houses, or citizen's country-houses; whither they retire from the hurries of business, and from getting money, to draw their breath in a clear air, and to divert themselves and families in the hot weather; and they that are shut up, and as it were strip'd of their inhabitants in the winter, who return to smoke and dirt, sin and seacoal, (as it was coursly expressed) in the busy city; so that in short all this variety, this beauty, this glorious show of wealth and plenty, is really a view of the luxuriant age which we live in, and of the overflowing riches of the citizens, who in their abundance make these gay excursions, and live thus deliciously all the summer, retiring within themselves in the winter, the better to lay up for the next summer's expence.

If this then is produced from the gay part of the town only, what must be the immense wealth of the city it self, where such a produce is brought forth? where such prodigious estates are raised in one man's age; instances of which we have seen in those of Sir Josiah Child, Sir John Lethulier, Sir James Bateman, Sir Robert Clayton, Sir William Scawen, and hundreds more; whose beginnings were small, or but small compar'd, and who have exceeded even the greatest part of the nobility of England in wealth, at their death, and all of their own getting.

It is impossible in one journey to describe effectually this part of the county of Surrey, lying from Kingston to London and Greenwich, where I set out: That is, including the villages of Richmond, Petersham, Eastshene, Mortlock, Putney, Wandsworth, Barn-Elms, Battersey, Wimbleton, Tooting, Clapham, Camberwell, Peckham and Deptford; the description would swell with the stories of private families, and of the reasons of these opulent foundations, more than with their history.

It would also take up a large chapter in this book, to but mention the overthrow, and catastrophe of innumerable wealthy city families, who after they have thought their houses establish'd, and have built their magnificent country seats, as well as others, have sunk under the misfortunes of business, and the disasters of trade, after the world has thought them pass'd all possibility of danger; such as Sir Joseph Hodges, Sir Justus Beck, the widow Cock at Camberwell, and many others; besides all the late South-Sea directors, all which I chuse to have forgotten, as no doubt they desire to be, in recording the wealth and opulence of this part of England, which I doubt not to convince you infinitely out does the whole world.

I am come now to Southwark, a suburb to, rather than a part of London; but of which this may be said with justice.

A royal city were not London by.

To give you a brief description of Southwark, it might be call'd a long street, of about nine miles in length, as it is now built on eastward; reaching from Vaux-Hall to London-Bridge, and from the bridge to Deptford, all up to Deptford-Bridge, which parts it from Greenwich, all the way winding and turning as the river winds and turns; except only in that part, which reaches from Cuckold's-Point to Deptford, which indeed winds more than the river does.

In the center, which is opposite to the bridge, it is thicken'd with buildings, and may be reckoned near a mile broad; (viz.) from the bridge to the end of Kent-street and Blackman-street, and about the Mint; but else the whole building is but narrow, nor indeed can it be otherwise; considering the length of it.

The principal beauty of the borrough of Southwark, consists in the prodigious number of its inhabitants: Take it as it was antiently bounded, it contain'd nine parishes; but as it is now extended, and, as I say, joins with Deptford, it contains eleven large parishes: According to the weekly-bills, for the year 1722, the nine parishes only bury'd 4166, which is about one sixth part of the whole body, call'd London; the bill of mortallity for that year, amounting in all to 25750.

The first thing we meet with considerable, is at the Spring-Garden, just at the corner, where the road turns away to go from Vaux-Hall Turnpike, towards Newington, there are the remains of the old lines cast up in the times of the Rebellion, to fortify this side of the town; and at that corner was a very large bastion, or rather a fort, and such indeed they call it; which commanded all the pass on that side, and farther on, where the openings near St. George's-Fields are, which they now call the Ducking-Pond, there was another; the water they call the Ducking-Pond, is evidently to this day the moat of the fort, and the lines are so high, and so undemolish'd still, that a very little matter would repair and perfect them again.

From hence they turn'd south east, and went to the windmill, at the end of Blackman-street, where they crossed the road, and going to the end of Kent-street, we see another great bastion; and then turning S.E. till they come to the end of Barnaby-street, or rather beyond, among the tanners, and there you see another fort, so plain, and so undemolish'd, the grass growing now over the works, that it is as plain as it was, even when it was thrown down.

Here is also another remain of antiquity, the vestiges of which are easy to be traced; (viz.) The place where by strength of men's hands, they turn'd the channel of this great river of Thames, and made a new course for the waters, while the great bridge, which is now standing, was built: Here it is evident they turn'd the waters out: (viz.) About a place call'd Nine Elms, just beyond Vaux-Hall, where now a little brook, from the Wash-way at Kennington, and which they once attempted to make navigable, enters the Thames, from thence it cross'd the great road, a little beyond the end of the houses in Newington; between which and Kennington Common, on the left of the road, as you go south, there is a very large pond, or lake of water, part of the channel not fill'd up to this day; from thence it enter'd the marshes between Rotherif and Deptford, where for many years after there remained a drain for the water, upon which was a large mill-pond and dam, and where since was built the second great wet-dock, said to belong to the Duke of Bedford's estate, and call'd at first Snellgrove's-Dock, because built by one Mr. Snellgrove, a shipwright, whose building-yards adjoin'd it. A farther description of Southwark, I refer till I come to speak of London, as one general appellation for the two cities of London and Westminster; and all the burrough of Southwark, and all the buildings and villages included within the bills of mortallity, make but one London, in the general appellation, of which in its order. I am, &c.


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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