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In the same yard is a great telescope, which Dr. Herschell has recently caused to be constructed for the emperor of Russia ; it is, apparently, about half as large as the one which I have been describing, and there are besides this, several others, of such magnitude that each of them would appear a wonder, were it seen by itself.
Dr. Herschell's residence is a very plain, and not large house, between Windsor and Slough. It is immediately on the public road, and almost by itself; and the Doctor is under the immediate patronage, and indeed almost literally under the eye of his majesty, for the house is on the plain, near the foot of Windsor-Hill.
Miss Herschell's treatment of us was very courteous, and she obligingly requested us to renew our visit for the sake of seeing her brother.
No. XLIV.--RIDE TO BATH,
Ride to Bath-Beauty of the country and abundance of the har
vest-Towns and villages on the road— The great barrow.
The coach from London came up to Slough at half past eight, and we took our seats in as fine a morning as ever shone in England. We were pleasantly situated in the hinder apartment of a double coach,* where we found a
* The double coach is literally what the name implies; it is composed of two coach bodies, joined endwise, but with no more wheels, horses, or attendants, than single coaches. They have distinct entrances, and are as completely seperate as two rooms in the same house; thus two distinct parties are at the same time rolled on the same wheels.
gentleman with his night cap drawn over his eyes, and as quiet as a profound sleep could make him. Of course he gave us no offence, and we were left quite at leisure, to admire the country through which we were travelling, and never did my eyes behold scenes of more richness and beauty than in the course of this day's ride. The harvest is abundant, and, every where, as we travelled, we were gratified with a view of fields terminated only by the horizon, loaded with stacks of wheat, or waving with that into which the sickle had not as yet been thrust.
The produce of the best lands of this country is very great;
I am told that forty bushels to the acre is no more than a common crop on good grounds. The oats and barley are, this season, equally good with the wheat, and the beans* are the only crop which has been materially injured. Every where we saw women at work, gathering in the harvest; they were employed not merely in raking the straw, and carrying the sheaves, but also in reaping the wheat. The English do not, as with us, bind the oats into sheaves, but rake it together into heaps as we do hay.
Throughout our whole ride, at intervals of a mile or two, beautiful country seats adorned the road, and with their forests, their parks, their sloping fields, and their herds of deer, presented a most interesting succession of objects. For about half the way to Bath, the country was generally level, or slightly varied with hill and dale; but it afterwards assumed a bolder aspect, rising into highlands, which were more lofty, the farther we travelled west.
* Beans are extensively sown in England for horses; Iallude to the great horse bean so called. Large fields of them are seenthey grow on an upright strong stalk, nearly as tall as wheat, and when in blossom appear handsome. VOL. II.
Our route lay through the counties of Berks and Wilts. The latter is famous for its wheat, and for its breed of sheep, called the South Down sheep; they are small, but have fine wool, and are very sweet for the table; they have no horns.
Although most of the places through which we have passed from London are inconsiderable, I will subjoin a catalogue of them, that if you please you may trace our journey.
From London we went to Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, * Brentford, and Hounslow, with its vast and barren heath; Crauford-bridge, Longford, Colnbrook, Slough, Maidenhead-bridge, Maidenhead Thicket, Hare Hatch, Twyford, and Reading ; this is a considerable and well built town, containing about ten thousand inhabitants; it was famous in the parliamentary contest with Charles.
Next came Calcot Green, Theal, Woolhampton, Thactham, and Speenhamland; this is a part of the town of Newbury; near which, in the time of the civil wars, two great battles were fought, at both of which King Charles was present. I had not time to visit the fields of battle, but they informed us that the graves of the slain are visible
Perhaps you remember Goldsmith's ludicrous blunder in attempting to pun upon the name of this place ; for this fine poet was so ambitious of exciting merriment, that he would even descend to a pun, to accomplish it. As he sat at dinner with some friends, he abruptly cried out to the servant, that the peas were stale.
“What shall I do with them, sir ?" “ Carry them to Hammersmith”-(the servant stared)—- why that's the way to Turnham Green;" (turn 'em green)-Goldsmith meant to have said, and as it was a borrowed pun, he should have had it correctly; but he said : “ that's the way to make 'em green.”
to this day. We passed Speen-Hill, Speen, Benham, Hungerford, and Froxfield, near which are the extensive domains of the Earl of Aylesbury, and a respectable institution for maintaining the widows of clergymen.
Connected with the domains of the Earl of Aylesbury is a vast forest, in which we saw hundreds of deer gliding through the openings.
Near this place, it is said, are the ruins of Wolf Hall, where the marriage of Henry the eighth with Jane Seymour was celebrated.
Marlborough is a considerable market-town, situated in a valley which presents a delightful view, as we approach it from the hills. Many Roman ruins have been found at this place.
near the river Kennet, is famous for its fine ale, which we tasted. While the coach waited at the door, for the coachman to drink his ale, I ran forward a mile, and ascended a vast mound of earth, which had been erected near the road. Its form is that of the lower segment of a cone; its base covers perhaps an acre, and its height is one hundred and seventy feet. It is evidently a work of art, for the void from which the earth was taken to form it, remains to this day surrounding the base of the mound. Probably it was a sepulchral monument reared for some king or great commander. There are a multitude of similar mounds on the hills in the vicinity for several miles ; they vary very much in size, but there is no one which, in this particular, can be compared with that which I visited. Possibly these hills have been the seat of some great battle, and these may be monuments for the slain. There is a tradition that a king by the name of Silbury lies buried beneath the great mound or barrow, and that thence it is called Silbury-hill.*
Near this place there is a figure of a horse as large as the animal itself, which was formed by removing the soil on the side of a hill, and thus exposing to view, the bed of chalk which lies beneath : it has a very singular appear
This place derives its name from a ditch and rampart which runs across the country, over Salisbury plain, from east to west. The ridge of earth appears to be six or eight feet high from the bottom of the ditch, and is supposed to have been erected for a boundary between the West Saxons and the Mercians, or for a defence against the incursions of the Britons. It is a venerable remnant of antiquity.
is a considerable and populous borough. While we took tea at this place the waiter informed us that Russia and Austria had declared war against France.
At this place we parted with the gentleman whom, in the morning, we had found asleep in the coach. After
* Two Americans who visited this spot after me, have since informed me that they measured both the area of the base, and the height of this stupendous mound, from an impression that the statement in the text was overrated- but they said they found both correct. I trust the mention of this circumstance will be excused by my readers. August, 1818.