FROME. lumn, the mouldering arch, of the most exquisite workmanship, when compared with the living memento of the fragility, the instability, and the wild luxuriancy of noxious passions ? Enthusiasm turned adrift, like some rich stream overflowing its banks, rushes forward with destructive velocity, inspiring a sublime concentration of thought. These are the ravages over which humanity must ever mournfully ponder with a degree of anguish, not excited by crumbling marble or cankering brass, unfaithful to the trust of monumental fame. It is not over the decayed productions of the mind, embodied with the happiest art, we grieve most bitterly. The view of what has been done by man, produces a melancholy yet aggrandizing scene of what remains to be achieved by human intellect; but a mental convulsion, which, like the devastation of an earthquake, throws all the elements of thought and imagination into confusion, makes contemplation giddy, and we fearfully ask on what ground we ourselves stand!”

We reached Frome, a large manufacturing town, whose streets are marked by irregularities. The clothing business is carried on to a vast extent, and about fifty years ago it supplied all England with wire cards for carding wool. The several machines seen at the manufactories of the respectable'Messrs. S are worth examination. Here is no more than one church, with a ring of six good bells; but several meeting-houses, two of which, the Independent and Baptist, are built of freestone, and are deemed as spacious as any meet


WARMINSTER. ing-houses in England. In the former lie the remains of the pious Mrs. Rowe, author of Letters from the Dead to the Living—whose writings are still read and admired. The grave is marked by a long flat stone, of a blackish hue :~her modesty would not suffer it to be disfigured by an inscription.

We next set off for Warminster, a little populous town, which formerly enjoyed great privileges. It is now famous for its corn and malt, carrying on in each of these articles the greatest trade of any town in the West of England.

In travelling this road, a phænomenon is seen at some distance, being in the county of Berkshire. This is the rude figure of a White Horse, which takes up near an acre of ground, on the side of a green hill, whose soil is formed of chalk. · A horse is known to have been the Saxon standard, and some have supposed that this figure was made by Hengist, one of the Saxon kings. · But Mr. Wise, author of a letter on this subject to Dr. Mead, published 1738, brings arguments to shew that it was made by the order of Alfred, in the reign of his brother Ethelred, as a monument of his victory over the Danes, in 871, near Ashen or Ashbury, at present one of the seats of Lord Craven, and at a little distance from the hill. This sentiment is thus mentioned by the late Poet Laureat:

Carv'd rudely on the pendent soil is seen
The snow-white courser stretching o'er the green;

[blocks in formation]

• The antique figure scan with curious eye,. .
The glorious monument of victory!
There England rear'd her long dejected head,
There ALFRED triumph'd, and invasion filed! PTE.

Others have supposed it to have been partly the effect of accident, and partly the work of shepherds, who observing a rude figure, somewhat resembling a horse, as there are in the veins of wood and stone, many figures that resemble trees, caves, and other objects, reduced it by degrees to a more regular figure. But, however this may be, it has been the custom immemorial, for the neighbouring peasants to assemble on a certain day, about Midsummer, and clear away the weeds from this White Horse, and trim the edges to preserve its colour and shape: after which the evening is spent in festivity.

We now posted forwards to Sabisbury Plain, those immense downs, where the stranger, without a guide, would be bewildered. We drove to the spot where stands Stonehenge, the most singular curiosity in the kingdom. Here quitting the carriage, we gazed at the pile with astonishment ! Whence these vast stones were brought hither, what could have been the mode of conveyance, and to what purposes the structure was appropriated, are que ries not easily resolved. Every effect must have an adequate cause-hence the learning employed by antiquarians on the subject.

As to the appearance of Stonehenge-seventeen huge stones are now standing, which with several


STONEHENGE. others lying on the ground form the outward circle. The inward circle is about eight feet from the outward, having eleven stones standing and eight fallen. Between these two circles is a walk of about three hundred feet in circumference. The stones are from eighteen to twenty feet in height, from six to seven broad, and about three feet in thickness. The original structure was encompassed by a trench, over which were three entrances. It is most probably the relic of a Druidical Temple! In the reign of Henry VIII. à tin tablet was found here, inscribed with strange characters: this has been lost; had it been retained and understood, it might have elucidated this venerable monument of antiquity... .

Dr. Stukeley, who about half a century ago visited Stonehenge in company with Lord Winchelsea, observed, half a mile north of Stonehenge, and across the valley a hippodrome, or horse-course; it is included between two ditches, running parallel · east and west; they are 350 feet asunder: it is 100,000 feet long. The barrows round this monument are numerous and remarkable, being generally bell fashion; yet is there great variety in their diameters, and their manner of composition. These were single sepulchres, as appeared from many that were opened. On the west side of one was an entire segment, made from 'centre to circumference; it was good earth quite through, except a coat of chalk of about two feet thick, covering it quite over, under the turf. Hence appears the manner of making those barrows, which


125 was to dig up the turf for a great way round, till the barrow was brought to its intended bulk; then with the chalk dug out of the surrounding ditch they powdered it all over. At the centre was found a skeleton perfect, of a reasonable size, and with the head lying northward. On opening a double barrow, the composition was thus; after the turf was taken off, there appeared a layer of chalk, and then fine garden mould. About three feet below the surface, was a layer of flints, humouring the convexity of the barrow: this being a foot thick, rested on a layer of soft mould, in which was inclosed an urn, full of bones. The urn was of unbaked clay, of a dark reddish colour, and crumbled into pieces. It had been rudely wrought, with small mouldings round the verge, and other circular channels on the outside. The bones had been burnt; the collar-bone, and one side of the under jaw, were entire; there was a large quantity of female ornaments mixed with the bones, as beads of divers colours, many of them amber, with holes to string them; and many of the button sort were covered with metal.

It may be proper to remark, that Stonehenge has lately undergone an alteration, part of it having, about three years ago, fallen to the earth. We saw and conversed with some shepherd boys, who were loitering around the pile, and from whom we learnt that the fall occasioned a concussion of the ground. This must have been expected, and exciled, among persons in its vicinity, no small astonishment.

« ElőzőTovább »