« VorigeDoorgaan »
ment of the Church, until the early part of the last century, when the violent disputes into which they ran, displeased the government, and they have since met only as a matter of form. It was formerly the boast of England that all religions were tolerated here; it is now her prouder boast that the repeal of the Test Act, and the great measure of Catholic Emancipation; have rendered all her sons equal, and that her statute book is no longer disgraced by enactments presuming to punish men for worshipping their Creator according to the dictates of their own consciences. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are closely connected with the Church establishment; as is also King's College, London, now in course of erection.
The Charitable Institutions of England surpass in variety and extent those of any other country; but it is a melancholy fact that the number of persons dependent, entirely or in part, for support on the Poor Rates, &c. has most alarmingly increased of late years; that the middle class, of small farmers and respectable tradesmen, is rapidly disappearing; and that, unless some vigorous remedy be speedily applied, the time cannot be far distant when the population will consist but of two classes, the enormously rich, and the miserably poor; overgrown landowners and monopolists on the one side, and wretched labourers and paupers on the other. We trust, however, that this lamentable consummation may be avoided, by the wisdom and benevolence of the higher orders, and the increasing intelligence of the lower; and on this score it is gratifying to observe the progress of education in the country, which has of late years been extended beyond the hopes even of the most sanguine, and it is calculated that not less than a million and a half of children are now gratuitously instructed in the various parish, national, Sunday, and other schools; while the Mechanics' Institutions and Libraries afford to persons in the humble walks of life, a degree of general information well calculated to make them better and more useful members of society; to acquaint them with their rights, and inspire them with the moral courage necessary for
ENGLAND & WALES.
THIS County, which forms the south-eastern extremity of the Island of Great Britain, is bounded on the North by the Thames, on the East and South East by the German Ocean and the Straits of Dover, on the South West by the English Channel and county of Sussex, and on the West by that of Surrey. It lies within the parallels of 50. 55. and 51. 31. N. lat., and between 0. 5. W. and 1. 25. E. long.; its medium length from east to west being computed at about 60 miles, its breadth from north to south at 28 miles; and its circumference at 174 miles, containing about 900,000 acres.
From the extreme diversity of its surface, the noble rivers by which it is watered, the richness and variety of its inland scenery, and the more sublime beauties of its sea-coast, this county ranks among the most interesting portions of the island; while the numerous remains of antiquity, the splendid cathedrals, venerable castles, and mouldering monastic edifices, connected as they are with some of the most remarkable events in our history, awaken emotions at once melancholy and pleasing, and render it dear to the antiquary, the student, and the patriot.
Two chains of hills, called the Upper and Lower, run through the middle of the county, from east to west, generally about eight miles asunder; the northern range, which is sometimes called the Hog's Back, is chiefly composed of chalk and flint, and is part of the extensive ridge which runs from Hungerford, through Hampshire and Surrey, to Dover, where it terminates in the well-known white cliffs; this range rises in some places to the height of 700 feet: the Southern or Lower Hills principally consist of iron and rag-stone; while to the west clay and gravel predominate. Beyond the latter range what is called the Weald of Kent èxtends, and forms a large tract of rich and fertile land, the soil being a very soft and deep clay and marl.
Kent is essentially and almost solely an agricultural county; and every department of husbandry is pursued to a great extent, with ability and success. Besides the usual agricultural products, of which the wheat is peculiarly excellent, this county produces hops; fruits for the London market, especially cherries, apples, and filberts; madder, woad, hemp, sainfoin; canary and other seeds; with all kinds of esculent vegetables, and in the Weald timber and birch twigs. The Isle of Thanet is remarkably fertile, but in the Isle of Sheppey only one-fifth of the land is arable; the rest consists of marsh and pasture land, and is used for breeding and fattening sheep and cattle. The latter are of various breeds, principally Welsh and Sussex. Kent has long been famed for its Romney Marsh sheep, one of the most valuable breeds in the kingdom, as they produce a large fleece of fine long wool, and become very fat at an early age. The Dorset, Wilts, and South Down sheep are also kept in most parts of the county.
Kent has but few manufactures, and those mostly of the coarser kind. The clothing trade, formerly extensive, is now nearly lost; and silk, which was long manufactured at Canterbury, is now yielding to cotton. Extensive paper mills are established at Maidstone and Dartford. Near Sandwich, and in the Isle of Grain, there are several salt works; large copperas works at Deptford and Whitstable; and iron furnaces in the Weald, bordering on_Sussex. Gunpowder is manufactured extensively at Dartford