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Arthur MAINWARING, poetical and political writer; born at
Ightfield 1668. Timothy Neve, divine and antiquary; born at Wotton in Stan
ton Lacy 1694 ; died 1757. Job Orton, nonconformist divine and author, and biographer
of Doddridge; born at Shrewsbury 1717; died 1783. Hugh Owen, archdeacon of Salop, historian and antiquary;
born at Shrewsbury; died 1827. William Owen, R.A., portrait painter; born 1769; died 1824. David Parkes, topographical antiquary ; born at Cackmore in
Hales Owen 1763; died 1833. Robert PARR; born at Kinver 1633; died 1757, aged 124.
He was great grandson of Thomas Parr, who lived to the age of 152. Thomas Percy, bishop of Dromore, poetical antiquary; born at
Brignorth 1729 ; died 1811. John SADLER, M.P., law-writer, author of “ Rights of the King
dom ;" born 1615; died 1674. Dr. Jonathan Scott, oriental professor and author; 'born at
Shrewsbury; died 1829. William SHENSTONE, poet; born at the Leasowes, Hales Owen,
1714; died 1763. Thomas STEDMAN, divine and author, friend of Job Orton,
born at Bridgnorth 1745; died 1825. John Taylor, divine, “Demosthenes Taylor," classical critic;
born at Shrewsbury 1704; died 1766. Silas Taylor, alias Domville, author of “Antiquities of Harwich,"
&c.; born at Harly 1624; died 1678. Jonathan Wild, the notorious thief-taker, and the hero of
Ainsworth's “ Jack Sheppard;" born at Boninghale 1682. Edward WILLIAMS, divine, classical scholar, and antiquary;
died 1833. William WYCHERLEY, dramatist, comic poet, and wit; born at
Clive, near Wem, 1640; died 1715.
Of Shropshire there is as yet no regular historian; but of the county town of Shrewsbury various histories and descriptions, by different authors, have made their appearance ; viz. by T. Phillips (1779); by the Rev. H. Owen (1808); by the Rev. J. Nightingale, in the 13th volume of the Beauties of England and Wales (1813); and by J. B. Blakeway (1826). There have also been published an Historical Account of Ludlow Castle, by J. W. Hodges (1803); a Description of Hawkstone, by T. Rodenhurst (1807); the History of Oswestry, by Wm. Price (1815); and The Sheriffs of Shropshire, by the Rev. J.B. Blakeway (1831).--ED.
SOMERSETSHIRE hath the Severn sea on the north, Gloucestershire on the north-east, Wiltshire on the east, Dorsetshire on the south, and Devonshire on the west. Some will have it so called from the summerliness, or temperate pleasantness thereof: with whom we concur, whilst they confine their etymologies to the air; dissent, if they extend it to the earth, which in winter is as winterly, deep, and dirty, as any in England. The truth is, it is so named from Somerton, the most ancient town in the county. It stretcheth from east to west fifty-five miles, and from north to south forty-two miles.
No shire can shew finer ware, which hath so large measure; being generally fruitful, though little moisture be used thereon.
The inhabitants will tell you that there be several single acres in this shire (believe them of the larger size, and sesqui-jugera, if measured) which may serve a good round family with bread for a year, as affording a bushel of wheat for every week therein, a proportion not easily to be paralleled in other places.
Plenty of the best (for the kind thereof) is digged out of Mendip hills. Indeed it is not so soft, pliant, and equally fusile, as that in Derbyshire; not so proper for sheeting, because, when melted, it runs into knots, and therefore little known to, and less used by, our London plumbers; for, being of a harder nature, it is generally transported beyond the seas, and employed to make bullets and shot, for which purpose it is excellent. May foreigners enjoy wild lead, to kill men; whilst we make use of tame lead, to cover houses, and keep people warm and dry therein.
It is almost incredible what great sums were advanced to the bishops of Bath and Wells by the benefit of lead, since the latter end of queen Elizabeth. 'Bishop Still is said to have had the harvest, bishop Montague the gleanings, bishop Lake the stubble thereof; and yet considerable was the profit of lead to him and his successors.
LAPIS CALAMINARIS. Plenty hereof is also found in Mendip hills ; and it is much used in physic (being very good, as artificially ordered, for the clearing of the sight), and more by metallists; for brass, no original, but a compound metal, is made of this stone and copper; and becometh more hard than copper alone, and therefore the more servicable for many other purposes.
And now the riddle in nature, which so long hath posed me, is at last explained; viz. how it can come to pass that brass, being made of the best copper with much art and industry, is notwithstanding afforded some pence in the pound cheaper than copper itself. This cometh to pass, because the calaminarystone, being of itself not worth above six-pence in the pound, doth in the composition metalescere, turn metal, in the mixture thereof; whereby the mass and bulk of brass is much advanced.
I have no more to observe of this stone, save that it was first discovered in this county in that juncture of time when the copper mines were newly re-discovered in Cumberland, God doubling his gift by the seasonable giving thereof.
The best and biggest in England are made at Chedder, in this county. They may be called Corporation Cheeses, made by the joint dairies of the whole parish putting their milk together; and each one, poor and rich, receive their share according to their proportion : so that some may think, that the unity and amity of those female neighbours, living so lovingly together, giveth the better runnet and relish to their handywork.
If any ask, why as good cheese may not be made in the vicinage, where the soil is as rich, and the same housewifery? it will be demanded of them, why (nails must be driven out with nails) the like cheese, in colour, taste, and tenderness, may not be made at Cremona as at Parma, both lying in Lombardy near together, and sharing equally in all visible advantages of fatness and fruitfulness. The worst fault of Chedder cheese is, they are so few and dear, hardly to be met with, save at some great man's table.
WOAD, In Latin glastum or glaustum, was much used by the ancient Britons for the painting of their faces; for I believe it will hardly be proved that they dyed their whole bodies. Say not, painted terribleness is no terribleness, rather ridiculous than formidable, seeing vizards are more frightful than men's own faces. This woad gave the Britons a deep black tincture, as if they would blow up their enemies with their sulphureous countenances.
Our dyers make much use thereof, being color ad colorem, the stock (as I may say) whereon other colours are grafted. Yea, it giveth them truth and fruitfulness, who without it prove fading and hypocritical.
This herb doth greatly impair the ground it groweth on; profitable to such to set, who have land to let without impeachment of waste, it being long before it will recover good grass therein. I have placed woad, which groweth in all rich places, in this county, because, as I am informed, it groweth naturally therein, hardly to be destroyed, especially about Glastonbury; insomuch that a learned critic,* and my worthy good friend, had almost persuaded me, that from this glastum that town taketh its denomination.
MASTIFFS. Smile not, reader, to see me return to coarse creatures amongst the commodities of this county. Know, they are not, like
apes, the fools and jesters, but the useful servants in a family, viz. the porters thereof. Pliny observes, that Briton breeds cowardly lions and courageous mastiffs, which to me seems no wonder; the former being whelped in prison, the latter at liberty. An English mastiff, anno 1602, did in effect worst a lion, on the same token that prince Henry allowed a kind of pension for his maintenance, and gave strict order, “ That he that had fought with the king of beasts should never after encounter any inferior creatures.”+
Our English mastiffs are in high reputation beyond the seas ; and the story, is well known, that when an hundred molossi were sent hence a present to the pope, a lack-Latin cardinal, standing by when the letter was read, mistook molossos for so many mules. Surely, had Britain been then known to the ancient Romans, when first, instead of manning, they dogged their Capitol, they would have furnished themselves with mastiffs fetched hence for that purpose, being as vigilant as, more valiant than, any of their kind; for the city of St. Malo in France is garrisoned with a regiment of dogs, wherein many ranks are of English extraction.
Hence it is that an author tells me, that it passeth for the blazon of this county,
“Set the Band-dog on the Bull."I It seems that both the gentry and country folk in this shire are much affected with that pastime, though some scruple the lawfulness thereof. 1. Man must not be a barrater, to set the creatures at variance. 2. He can take no true delight in their antipathy, which was the effect of his sin. 3. Man's charter of dominion empowers him to be a prince, but no tyrant, over the creatures. 4. Though brute beasts are made to be destroyed, * Mr. John Langley, late schoolmaster of Paul's. † Stow's Annals, p. 336.
Drayton, in his Polyolbion. § 2 Peter ii. 12.
they are not made to be tormented. Others rejoin, that God gave us the creatures as well for our pleasure as necessity; that some nice consciences, that scruple the baiting of bulls, will worry men with their vexatious cruelties. All that I dare interpose is this, that the tough flesh of bulls is not only made more tender by baiting, but also thereby it is discoloured from oxbeef, that the buyer be not deceived.
MANUFACTURES. Taunton Serges are eminent in their kind, being a fashionable wearing, as lighter than cloth, yet thicker than many other stuffs. When Dionysius sacrilegiously plundered Jove's statue of his golden coat (pretending it too cold for winter, and too hot for summer,) he bestowed such a vestment upon him as to fit both seasons. They were much sent into Spain, before our late war therewith, wherein trading (long since complained of to be dead) is now lamented generally buried, though hereafter it may have a resurrection.
THE BUILDINGS. Of these the churches of Bath and Wells are most eminent. Twins are said to make but one man, as these two churches constitute one bishop's see. Yet, as a twin oft-times proves as proper a person as those of single births; so these severally equal most, and exceed many, cathedrals in England.
We begin with Bath, considerable in its several conditions: viz. the beginning, obstructing, decaying, repairing, and finishing thereof.
1. It was begun by Oliver King, bishop of this diocese, in the reign of Henry the Seventh, and the west end most curiously cut and carved with angels climbing up a ladder to hea
But this bishop died before the finishing thereof. 2. His death obstructed this structure, so that it stood a long time neglected, which gave occasion for one to write on the church wall with a charcoal :
“O church, I wail thy woeful plight,
Whom king, nor cardinal, clerk, or knight,
Have yet restored to ancient right.” Alluding herein to bishop King, who began it; and his four successors, in thirty-five years, viz. cardinal Adrian, cardinal Wolsey, bishop Clark, and bishop knight, contributing nothing to the effectual finishing thereof.
3. The decay and almost ruin thereof followed, when it felt in part the hammers which knocked down all abbeys. True it is, the commissioners proffered to sell the church to the townsmen under 500 marks. But the townsmen, fearing if they bought it so cheap to be thought to cozen the king, so that the purchase might come under the compass of concealed lands, refused the proffer. Hereupon the glass, iron, bells, and lead (which last