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WILTSHIRE hath Gloucestershire on the north, Berkshire and Hampshire on the east, Dorsetshire on the south, and Somersetshire on the west. From north to south it extendeth thirtynine miles; but abateth ten of that number in the breadth thereof.*
A pleasant county, and of great variety. I have heard a wise man say, that an ox left to himself would, of all England, choose to live in the north, a sheep in the south part hereof, and a man in the middle betwixt both, as partaking of the pleasure of the plain, and the wealth of the deep country.
Nor is it unworthy the observing, that of all inland shires (no ways bordered on salt water) this gathereth the most in the circumference thereof † (as may appear by comparing them), being in compass one hundred and thirty-nine miles. It is plentiful in all English, especially in the ensuing, commodities.
The often repetition hereof (though I confess against our rules premised) may justly be excused. Well might the French ambassador return, “France, France, France," reiterated to every petty title of the king of Spain. And our English “wool, wool, &c. may counterpoise the numerous but inconsiderable commodities of other countries. I confess a lock thereof is most contemptible; “Non flocci te facio," passing for an expression of the highest neglect; but a quantity thereof quickly amounteth to a good valuation.
This mystery is vigorously pursued in this county; and I am
* Davis, in his “General Views of the Agriculture of Wiltshire,” says, “ the county is about fifty-four miles in length, by thirty-four in its greatest breadth, and contains about 1372 square miles, or 878,000 acres. According to the Parliamen. tary Report on the State of the Poor, published in 1804, the area of the county is estimated at 1283 square statute miles, or 821,120 acres.-Ed.I | Compare the tables of Speed.
Some of the editorial notes, appended to this county, are the contributions of John Britton, Esq., author of the “ Beauties of Wiltshire,” 3 vols. 8vo., &c. ; who kindly undertook the revi. sion of the proof-sheets.
informed, that as MEDLEYS are most made in other shires, as good Whites as any are woven in this county,
This mentioning of whites to be vended beyond the seas, minds me of a memorable contest in the reign of king James, betwixt the merchants of London, and Sir William Cockain, once lord mayor of that city, and as prudent a person as any in that corporation. He ably moved, and vigorously prosecuted the design, that all the cloth which was made might be dyed in England; alleging, that the wealth of a country consisteth in driving on the natural commodities thereof, through all manufactures, to the utmost, as far as it can go, or will be drawn. And by the dying of all English cloth in England, thousands of poor people would be employed, and thereby get a comfortable subsistence.
The merchants returned, that such home dying of our cloth would prove prejudicial to the sale thereof, foreigners being more expert than we are in the mystery of fixing colours — besides, they can afford them far cheaper than we can, much of dying stuff growing in their countries; and foreigners bear a great affection to white or virgin cloth, unwilling to have their fancies prevented by the dying thereof; insomuch that they would like it better (though done worse) if done by themselves—That Sir William Cockain had got a vast deal of dying stuff into his own possession, and did drive on his own interest, under the pretence of the public good. These their arguments were seconded with good store of good gold on both sides, till the merchants prevailed at last (a shoal of herrings is able to beat the whale itself); and clothing left in the same condition it was before.
TOBACCO-PIPES. The best for shape and colour (as curiously sized) are made at Amesbury in this county. They may be called chimneys portable in pockets, the one end being the hearth, the other the tunnel thereof. Indeed, at the first bringing over of tobacco, pipes were made of silver and other metals; which, though free from breaking, were found inconvenient, as soon fouled, and hardly cleansed.
These clay pipes are burnt in a furnace for some fifteen hours, on the self-same token, that if taken out half an hour before that time, they are found little altered from the condition wherein they were when first put in. It seems all that time the fire is working itself to the height, and doth its work very soon when attained to perfection. Gauntlet-pipes, which have that mark on their heel, are the best; and hereon a story doth depend.
One of that trade observing such pipes most saleable, set the gauntlet on those of his own making, though inferior in goodness to the other. Now the workman who first gave the gauntlet sued the other, upon the statute which makes it penal for any to set another's mark on any merchantable commodities. The defendant being likely to be cast (as whose counsel could plead little in his behalf) craved leave to speak a word for himself; which was granted. He denied that he ever set another man's mark; “ for the thumb of his gauntlet stands one way, mine another; and the same hand given dexter or sinister in heraldry is a sufficient difference.” Hereby he escaped; though surely such who bought his pipes never took notice of that criticism, or consulted which way the thumb of his gauntlet respected.
THE BUILDINGS. The CATHEDRAL of SALISBURY (dedicated to the blessed Virgin) is paramount in this kind, wherein the doors and chapels equal the months, the windows the days, the pillars and pillarets of fusile marble * (an ancient art now shrewdly suspected to be lost), the hours of the year; so that all Europe affords not such an almanac of architecture.
Once walking in this church (whereof then I was prebendary) I met a countryman wondering at the structure thereof. “I once,” said he to me, “ admired that there could be a church that should have so many pillars as there be hours in the year; and now I admire more, that there should be so many hours in the year as I see pillars in this church.”
The cross aisle of this church is the most beautiful and lightsome of any I have yet beheld. The spire steeple (not founded on the ground, but for the main supported by four pillars) is of great height and greater workmanship. I have been credibly informed, that some foreign artists, beholding this building, brake forth into tears, which some imputed to their admiration (though I see not how wondering can cause weeping); others to their envy, grieving that they had not the like in their own land.
Nor can the most curious (not to say cavilling) eye desire any thing which is wanting in this edifice, except possibly an ascent; seeing such who address themselves hither for their devotions can hardly say with David, “ I will go up into the house of the Lord.”
Amongst the many monuments therein, that of Edward earl of Hartford is most magnificent; that of Helen Suavenburgh, a Swede (the relic of William marquis of Northampton, and afterwards married to Sir Thomas Gorges) is most commended for its artificial plainness.
But the curiosity of critics is best entertained with the tomb in the north of the nave of the church, where lieth a monument in stone of a little boy, habited all in episcopal robes, a mitre upon his head, a crosier in his hand, and the rest accordingly. At the discovery thereof (formerly covered over with pews)
• It is surprising that the worthy and witty Fuller should be guilty of this silly assertion. The pillars are of Purbeck marble.-J. B.
many justly admired, that either a bishop could be so small in person, or a child so great in clothes ; though since all is unriddled; for it was fashionable in that church* (a thing rather deserving to be remembered than fit to be done) in the depth of Popery, that the choristers chose a boy of their society to be a bishop among them from St. Nicholas's till Innocents' day at night, who did officiate in all things bishop-like, (the saying of mass alone excepted), and held the state of a bishop, answerably habited, amongst his fellows the counterfeit prebends. One of these, chancing to die in the time of his mock-episcopacy, was buried with crozier and mitre, as is aforesaid. Thus superstition can dispense with that which religion cannot, making piety pageantry, and subjecting what is sacred to lusory representations.f
As for civil buildings in this county, none are such giants as to exceed the standard of structures in other counties. Longleat, the house of Sir James Thynne, was the biggest, and Wilton is the stateliest and pleasantest for gardens, fountains, and other accommodations. I
Nor must the industry of the citizens of Salisbury be forgotten, who have derived the river into every street therein; so that Salisbury is a heap of islets thrown together. This mindeth me of an epitaph made on Mr. Francis Hide, a native of this city, who died secretary unto the English lieger in Venice :
“ Born in the English Venice, thou didst die,
Dear friend, in the Italian Salisbury." The truth is, that the strength of this city consisted in the weakness thereof, incapable of being garrisoned, which made it, in our modern wars, to escape better than many other places of the same proportion.
STONE-HENGE. After so many wild and wide conjectures of the cause, time, and authors hereof, why, when, and by whom this monument was erected, a posthume book comes lagging at last, called “Stone-henge Restored,”S and yet goeth before all the rest. It is questionable whether it more modestly propoundeth, or more substantially proveth, this to be a Roman work, or temple dedicated to Cælus or Cælum (son to Æther and Dies), who was senior to all the gods of the heathens.
That it is a Roman design, he proveth by the order, as also by the scheme thereof, consisting of four equilateral triangles, inscribed within the circumference of a circle, an architectonical scheme used by the Romans.* Besides, the portico, or entrance thereof, is made double, as in the Roman ancient structures of great magnificence. Not to say that the architraves therein are all set without mortar, according to the Roman architecture, wherein it was ordinary to have saxa nullo fulta glutino.
* See Gregory's Opera Posthuma, p. 95, &c.
+ An engraving of the figure of the Boy Bishop in Salisbury cathedral is given in Gough's
"Sepulchral Monuments,” vol. ii. ; but more correctly in Britton's History of Salisbury Cathedral.--Ed.
# Longford Castle, Wardour Castle, Fonthill, Stourhead, Charlton House, Tottenham Park, Corsham House, and Bowood, are all houses built on a scale of great magnificence.-ED.
$ Written by Inigo Jones.-F.
No less persuasive are his arguments to prove a temple dedicated to Cælum ; first, from the situation thereof, standing in a plain, in a free and open air, remote from any village, without woods about it. Secondly, from its aspect, being sub dio, and built without a roof. Thirdly, from the circular form thereof, being the proper figure of the temple of Colus. Not to mention his other arguments, in which the reader may better satisfy himself from the original author, than my second-hand relation thereof.+
KNOT GRASS. This is called in Latin gramen caninum supinum longissimum, and groweth nine miles from Salisbury, at master Tucker's at Maddington. It is a peculiar kind; and of the ninety species of grasses in England, is the most marvellous. It groweth ordinarily fifteen feet in length; yea, I read of one four-andtwenty foot long, which may be true, because, as there are giants amongst men, so there are giants amongst giants, which even exceed them in proportion.
The place whereon it groweth is low (lying some winters under water) having hills round about it, and a spacious sheepcommon adjoining; the soil whereof by every hasty shower is brought down into this little meadow, which makes it so incredibly fruitful. This grass being built so many stories high, from knot to knot, lieth matted on the ground, whence it is cut up with sickles, and bound into sheaves. It is both hay and provender, the joint-like knots whereof will fat swine.
Some conceive that the seed thereof, transplanted, would prosper plentifully (though not to the same degree of length) in other places; from whose judgment other husbandmen dissent, conceiving it so peculiar to this place, that ground and grass must be removed both together. Or else it must be set in a paralleled position, for all the particular advantages aforesaid, which England will hardly afford. So that Nature may seem mutually to have made this plant and this place one for another.
* Vitruvius, lib. v.
† “ Among the Wonders of the county,” says Mr. Britton, “it is really wonderful that the great temple, or assemblage of stones, &c. at Avebury, escaped Fuller's notice. It was of much greater magnitude, of superior importance, and consequently more entitled to notice than Stonehenge. Dr. Stukeley has devoted a folio volume to its illustration. · It was certainly the most stupendous and extensive work of art in this island, and was probably the largest Druidical temple in Europe. Stukeley's Accouut of Stonhenge, fol., is more accurate than Inigo Jones's."-ED.