Front Page Titles (by Subject) 32.: Walking Tour of Hampshire, West Sussex, and the Isle of Wight 19 JULY-6 AUGUST, 1832 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVII - Journals and Debating Speeches Part II
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32.: Walking Tour of Hampshire, West Sussex, and the Isle of Wight 19 JULY-6 AUGUST, 1832 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVII - Journals and Debating Speeches Part II 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVI - Journals and Debating Speeches Part II, ed. John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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Walking Tour of Hampshire, West Sussex, and the Isle of Wight
MS, Mount Holyoake College, MS BE.M61ya3. Henry Cole was Mill’s companion on this trip, as he had been for part of the previous one (see No. 31). Cole’s diary provides additional information, given in footnotes. As not published in Mill’s lifetime, not listed in his bibliography.
19th July 1832
Set out with Henry Cole on a tour in Hampshire, West Sussex, and the Isle of Wight. We started outside a Southampton coach, and proceeded through Kingston, Esher, Cobham, and Ripley, to Guildford: thus far the road was familiar to me, and I need not describe it. At Guildford the road turned sharp round to the right, and gradually slanted up the side of the chalk range which here, from the rapid dip of the strata, forms only a very narrow ridge, called the Hog’s Back. When the road has reached the top of this ridge, it runs along the summit for six or seven miles, commanding an equally rapid declivity on both sides, and affording one of the most lovely views in England both to north and south. On the right, the whole of Surrey to Bagshot and Chertsey, with St. Ann’s Hill, Cooper’s Vale and Windsor Forest in the distance, and the long bold range of Chobham Ridges and Romping Downs running north and south at right angles to the direction of the road. These ridges though barren and repulsive when near at hand, have a fine effect from a distance, especially when seen across an intermediate plain, and under a glorious sky, as today. On our left hand were Hindhead and Blackdown, the former in its most picturesque aspect, with its long ascending ridge terminated by its sharp peak-like angles. Beyond these were the South Downs in the distance, and other chalk hills to the west, similar to them in form and character. To the foot of Hindhead a wildish country gradually ascended; leaving along the base of the Hog’s Back a deep valley, diversified by cultivation, wood, and sandy commons, and marked at one point by an irregular and picturesque planted eminence. After a time the ridge gradually descended so as to be almost level with the plain, and the chalk stratum went I know not whither; our road left it, and turned southwest across the green sand formation, among cornfields and hop plantations to the pretty old town of Farnham: which in addition to its reputation as an English town, may boast of classic fame, being at present inhabited by Alexander, Caesar, and Xerxes:1 whether these were the ancient worthies I know not, but Xerxes keeps a hosier’s shop, and the other two appear to be gaining their living at length in an honest way. From Farnham to Alton the road lies through country prettily diversified but not very remarkable: about half way between those places we passed close to the Wey, here a most diminutive stream. At Alton we left the coach, and proceeded on foot to Selborne, a place to which ever since I read White’s delightful book,2 I have had a strong desire to perform a pilgrimage. We worked our way thither by lanes and field paths, sometimes without either, making for a fine hill which we thought was on the way to Selborne but which turned out to be the very Selborne Hanger immortalized by White,3 and we came on the village of Selborne before we were aware that it was the place we were in search of.4 Long before we reached Alton we had again come upon the chalk, and the way from Alton to Selborne lay across flat chalky fields, having nothing beautiful in themselves, and which seemed bounded (at a considerable distance) on three sides, by a round of chalk hills. But when we reached Selborne, we were at once struck with its beauty. It is but a small village with the houses arranged pretty close to each other along the two sides of a rather winding street: the Church stands a little to the left, with an open space before it, (called by White the Plastoe)5 in which stands a handsome sycamore, and one of the few May-poles left in England: hard by is the parsonage, a neat house with a pretty piece of inclosed ground and close to that again the only shop, and a neat and well furnished one it is. Mr. White’s house is not the parsonage house, but larger and apparently older; with the appearance also of older planting about it: he was a native of Selborne, and when he was parson of the parish, continued no doubt to live in his patrimonial house, where Miss White, his sister, still lives.6 It stands on the right side of the little street, and a most cheerful and happy looking residence it is: his laurels and other evergreens of which he speaks in his book7 are still there, at least some such trees are visible in front. A little further, and on the left side of the street, is the neat little inn or public house, where we were very agreeably and comfortably entertained. After tea, we climbed the Hanger:8 it is a long ridge: on the side next Selborne it is covered with wood, chiefly beech, except at the southern extremity: like the village itself, it lies nearly north west and south east. The top is a beautiful chalky and sandy table land; skirted on one side by the irregular forest-like edge of the hanging wood; interspersed with many beautiful trees in other parts, and forming with fern and bushes a most beautiful common, except one wide open place in the highest part where there had been cricketing in the afternoon, which was not yet entirely over. At the extremity of the hill we came unexpectedly upon a lovely meadow of great extent, which it seems is called the Park, at the end of which stands the pretty church and small village of Newton Valence, and an elegant house with a dressed lawn and shrubbery, to which I suppose the park belongs. Beyond this the hill appears to drop down. We returned through the hanging wood which contains some handsome though not very old beech and ash trees: a fine broad winding path is cut through it, and by the taste either of Mr. White or some other person, various openings have been cut which afford beautiful home views of the village and its immediate environs. On this side of the hill the home views are the finest: especially Selborne, surrounded with trees and backed by a pretty retiring green dell which we purpose exploring tomorrow. On the other side of the hill the out-look is much more picturesque, embracing by far the finest part of the outline of the South Downs, another almost equally beautiful line of chalk hills perpendicular to it, the bearings of which we do not yet very clearly understand, and several intermediate insulated hills. From the southern extremity of the Hanger, we see another planted chalk hill, of smaller size, and not so ridge-shaped, at no great distance from it; this is the Nore hill mentioned by White:9 beyond is Woolmer Forest, a tract of waste without a tree, very accurately described by White,10 which extends apparently for many miles in length from north to south, occupying no small portion of the eastern boundary of Hampshire. Beyond the Forest, and nearly due east of us, we saw the long ridge of Hindhead: its sharp points were not visible, it appeared to terminate by dropping down abruptly. South of it lay Blackdown and other hills of which if we execute our plans I shall have occasion to speak more largely hereafter. After surveying almost every part of the Hanger, we strolled in and about the beautiful village. I have seldom seen a scene of more perfect and yet more cheerful seclusion. The people seemed all comfortable, and the place and neighbourhood was full of young men and especially young women, neatly dressed, who were making holiday that evening; they either belonged to the village or had been drawn thither by an archery meeting held on the top of the hill yesterday, or by the cricketing today. The people of the neighbourhood are a peculiar race in appearance; with the darkest eyes and the blackest hair, and a ruddy complexion shining through a transparent dark skin. Many of the women we saw were remarkably handsome, and both men and women seemed overflowing with animal spirits. The cricketing or something else had excited them, and they were full of mirth and a pleasant freedom of manner.11
Before breakfast we sallied out to explore the little dell which, as I mentioned yesterday, runs from Selborne in an opposite direction to that of the Hanger. This (which I conjecture to be what White calls the Lith,)12 abounds in beauty. It is formed by a little rivulet running down through a line of rich green meadows, between two woody slopes of no great elevation. On both slopes the wood, chiefly beech, amounts to timber, and shuts in the valley, excluding all sight or imagination of the tame country beyond. It is on a small scale what Wharfedale, and some of the Cornish valleys, are on a great one. At first the valley is narrow; higher up it widens into a somewhat larger expanse of meadow, and sends out a short arm on each side. There are beautiful sequestered paths through the wood on both sides. A line of trees and bushes marks the course of the rivulet, and great profusion and luxuriance of vegetation distinguishes the whole valley. If I lived at Selborne this dell should be my daily resort; the more striking but less winning beauties of the Hanger should be reserved for occasional visits.—We returned to Selborne, from which we speedily took our final departure, and of which we shall retain many pleasant recollections. The only object of magnitude in the neighbourhood which we had not yet seen being the other chalk hill, (the Nore) which lies south of the Hanger, we resolved to visit this on our way to the place of our destination. We accordingly crossed the corn fields and slopes which separate the two hills and ascended the turfy declivity of the Nore, on which in this place there are few trees; but to our left they began to appear, in a scattered and forest-like distribution, beyond which we could see that they became a regular hanging wood of timber trees. This hill is perhaps not quite so lofty as the Hanger; but commands nearly the same view towards the South. What is not common, it is crowned with a chalk pit on the very summit: if that can be called a crown which is not visible from below. We saw plainly on looking from this eminence at that which we ascended the previous evening, that the latter is not a ridge but a kind of triangular hill; the line from Selborne to Newton Valence, the whole of which was now visible to us, diverging considerably from the line of the hanging wood, which faces the village of Selborne. We afterwards found that we had been as much mistaken at first sight in the form of the second hill. Leaving the open space near the chalk pit, we struck into the hanging wood; the beeches are well-grown trees; and there is a broad path through them, keeping near the top of the hill, from which whenever there is an opening in the wood, you have beautiful glimpses of the country below. After a short time (for the wood is of no great extent), we came out upon a commanding point, where the trees are more thinly scattered; and from which, besides the beauty of the chalky declivity itself, we had the finest and most extensive view of the country we were about to traverse, which had yet offered itself to us. To the north, we must have seen indistinctly almost to Guildford: on the east side, and from north to south, the vast heath called Wolmer-forest, formerly a royal chase, and beyond it, Hindhead and Blackdown. At the southern extremity of the forest, and perhaps forming part of it, was a heathy hill of considerable elevation and extent, with a line of firs along the top, which bounded the prospect. To the south were the South Downs, and all that we could see to the west and south west was the same long line of chalk hills perpendicular to the former, which we had seen from the Hanger, and which are tolerably shaped and well wooded. We had now to determine what should be our subsequent course. We had thoughts of crossing the Forest to Haslemere, and exploring Hindhead and Blackdown; but the Forest, however fine in a distant view, seemed as if it would be dreary to cross; and the country in the direction of Midhurst seemed so much more varied and beautiful, that as Hindhead and Blackdown could be seen from London at any time, we resolved to take the other direction. Our way to Midhurst seemed to lie directly over the fir-clad eminence already mentioned: between which and the place where we stood there also lay, nearly at the foot of the chalk hill, a beautiful little sand hill covered with meadows and woods in the greatest richness of vegetation, which was a temptation we could not resist. We accordingly descended the chalk hill, which is here extremely steep and bare, almost precipitous indeed; but we found a sloping path down; and then we crossed a large corn field to the sand hill, on which is the little village of Empshot.13 Here we had one or two beautiful home views; the little hill and its woods and green meadows in front, the background being alternatively the chalk hill and another rather high hill to the south which projects into the plain, having an ascending ridge which terminates abruptly and presents its steep extremity to the open country. This hill, which is covered with wood, must I think from its general appearance and position as far as we could judge of these from our various points of view, be not one of the chalk hills, but of the sand which accompanies the chalk in its whole line. From the other declivity of Empshot hill we had again a most beautiful view towards the South Downs, and saw the heathy hill topped with the line of firs, directly before us: and plainly in the direction in which we had to travel. We found our way to it as we best could, sometimes by lanes and sometimes through fields and meadows; approximating very near to the foot of the supposed sand hill clothed with woods, and gradually nearing one after another of the chalk hills on the west; for though we were journeying eastward, and therefore away from them, we were also going southward, and therefore facing them one after another. Soon after passing the village of Liss, we reached the foot of the heathy hill; which forms the continuation of Wolmer Forest. It is of a sand like that of Bagshot Heath, but with rather more soil, and therefore a richer growth of fern. The Portsmouth road crosses the very summit, on its way to Petersfield; just on the border which separates Sussex from Hampshire. From this point we had another panoramic view. Behind us, the chalk hill near Selborne seemed to be only a projecting point jutting out from the general line of the western chalk hills. This however we knew it was not: but we could see that it formed part of the circuit of chalk composing the North and South Downs. The fact appears to be that the elevated chalk district of Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Berkshire, including Marlborough Downs and Salisbury Plain, which is the patria of all the chalk hills of England, terminates here: the chalky escarpment running north and south, is its edge; the two hills of Selborne, outliers, connected with it; while north and south the North and South Downs jut out from it in long strait lines, the South already very high, the North at first extremely low. Looking now in the opposite direction, we could see the whole line of the South Downs as far as the point at which the road from Petworth to Chichester crosses them, which is marked by a chalk pit and is the termination of one sweep of hills. We crossed the Portsmouth road at a public house with a brilliant painted new sign-board which we were unable to decypher; and kept along the summit of the heathy hill on which we were; which on this side is one of the most beautiful of fern-clad commons, with a horse-road over it which it would be delightful to canter over. To our right was the range of the South Downs in all the beauty of its varied and wavy lines; between it and our position, a rich and verdant valley, containing the villages of Rogate and Terwick, and various low sandy and heathy hills beyond them. On the other side were various high heathy hills similar to Hindhead; perhaps one of them might be Hindhead but the apparent forms of hills are so deceptious that I would not presume to affirm it: all were more or less fine, but the objects were rather too far apart to produce great beauty of detail. We descended by a gradual slope, and then crossed some rich cornfields to the village of Trotton in the valley of Rogate: this is on the main road from Petersfield to Midhurst, and stands on the clear little river Rother, which rises some miles higher up, and after a course of perhaps four and twenty miles, falls into the Arun. We kept the main road for the remaining three miles of our day’s journey; it passed through a country presenting no great features (except the South Downs; which were generally visible), but prettily varied with undulation and roughness, heath and cornfields, to Midhurst, where we stopped at the Angel (an excellent inn).14
In the evening, we strolled about the town, which has one long rather wide street and one or two other streets; it is neat and rural, with some old houses and a general appearance of not being of very modern date. The Reform Bill15 has made a great change in this town, giving it one member elected by the inhabitants, instead of two chosen in a corner by nobody knows who. The borough will however be still under influence, but under different influence, that of Mr. Poyntz.16 We strolled out in the evening to the north, or London end of the town; the immediate environs are made beautiful by the great number of old trees which are scattered about it. Mr. Poyntz’s park, called Cowdry Park,17 comes down close to the town: it contains fine trees and some inequalities of ground, but the planting has not been so managed as to produce much beauty. At the entrance of the Park close to the town are the remains of a large house, which stood here when the Park belonged to the Montague family.18 It was partly destroyed by fire between thirty and forty years ago, and never repaired, but the walls are mostly still standing, and are so clothed with ivy both inside and out as to be highly ornamental. From a clump of trees in the Park not far from the ruin, the view of the South Downs with the ruin and large trees as a foreground, is highly beautiful.
The road from Midhurst to Petworth passes directly across Cowdry Park, from which it is not separated on either side by a hedge or fence. We therefore had a full view of all that the Park afforded, and it appeared to us a rare example of the degree in which natural advantages may be thrown away. The park is full of fine full grown trees, and gentle inequalities of ground: yet so little judgment and taste have been shewn in planting the trees that very little beauty is produced. They are either in dense masses, regular and yet shapeless, or they are merely scattered in greater or smaller numbers, indiscriminately, neither the trees nor the open spaces having any particular reference to the character of the ground. The inequalities, though sufficient to have produced beauty if duly improved by planting, (for they are as great as those in Betchworth Park, or even Pain’s Hill) were not considerable enough or bold enough to be beautiful in themselves. After leaving the Park, we kept in or near the Petworth road, which runs parallel to the line of the South Downs, affording occasional views of their beautiful outline. On the other side and about us the country was only tolerably pretty; waving corn fields, little eminences, and those hollow shady lanes so frequent in a sandy soil. Before reaching Petworth we turned off to see Lord Egremont’s house. It is a long mansion with tall windows and massive windowframes in the stile of a hundred years ago: the great ornaments of it are the statues and pictures. The old Earl, who is a great patron of sculptors and painters, has collected here many old, and some of the best of the new, productions of those arts: some fine antiques from Rome, along with Flaxman’s St. Michael and some of the best works of Carew and Rossi; many Vandykes, in particular one of his unrivalled children, and a portrait of the Earl of Northumberland in the Tower,19 a perfect model of expression; many excellent Lely’s and Kneller’s: Titian’s Jupiter and Antiope, with two or three portraits by him; two Claudes; a fine Salvator Rosa; some good specimens of Cuyp, Both, and Vander Meulem; two Canaletti’s; several stiff old pictures by Albrecht Durer and his contemporaries; many portraits by Reynolds, and several of his ghastly historical pictures; various pictures by Gainsborough, Northcote, Opie, Romney, West, Phillips, and Turner before and after he adopted his gamboge stile.20 The Park did not strike us as particularly fine, and we had not time to do more than peep into it. The Earl’s house joins the town of Petworth, a pretty little town on a hill, with a street which twists round and round like a worm, and a lofty spire (rebuilt I believe by the present Lord Egremont) modelled after the towers of some of our Gothic cathedrals. On leaving Petworth we took the Chichester road, as that which led most directly to the South Downs: and the remainder of our day’s journey has been described in one of my former tours:21 we crossed some pretty uneven country of heath and woods with the noble wall of the chalk hills directly before us, and then climbed the Downs through a rich wood full of flowers: when we reached the top we left the road and exspatiated like young horses over the turfy slopes and eminences; but the air was so hazy that not only the noble view to the north was greatly obscured, but to the south the sea, which occupied so large a space in the prospect when I formerly crossed these hills, was actually invisible. We however enjoyed extremely our gradual descent through a fine wood, full of even a richer vegetation and more abundant in flowers than the chalk hills near Dorking. We dined at the little inn or public house of a hamlet called Halnaker, at the foot of the hills: in this pretty little place every cottager seems comfortable and every house neat and cheerful—After dinner we walked to Chichester, which is about 3½ miles further on, and where we stopped for the night.
Finding that there was a coach to Portsmouth in the afternoon (on its way from Brighton) we spent the early part of the day in seeing Goodwood, the park of the Duke of Richmond,22 on the slope of the Downs about three miles from Chichester. The ground to the very entrance of the Park is a dead flat, like all the rest of Sussex south of the Downs. But it is now covered with fine corn, and intersected by hedge rows of well-grown unclipt trees, and is on the whole not uninviting. Goodwood occupies several turfy arms, of the chalk range, with the intervening dells; it is full of fine trees, well disposed, singly, in groups, and in considerable woods. The house is built of the common chalk flints: another house as large as itself stands close to it, and there are several other buildings of various kinds in the Park, all of the same material; it has neither the wildness of rusticity nor the elegance of refinement and is on the whole decidedly ugly. The house hardly stands high enough to command any extensive view, and seems placed precisely in that part of the Park where there are fewest fine objects within sight of the windows. It is near the edge of the Park, facing the flat, and there is a sort of opening in the Park trees before it. From the rest of the Park it is cut off by a large but apparently altogether neglected flower garden, studiously walled in, and as if that was not enough, planted round with a thick double or treble row of ilexes, with scarcely any other tree. But from the higher parts of the Park the view is delightful. A kind of garden-house on the slope of the hill marks the finest point: from it we saw the flat of South Sussex looking like a narrow slip of land, the sea beyond it, Chichester spire rising conspicuously and making a figure in the middle ground of the landscape in which were several other villages, and Spithead harbour with the Isle of Wight forming a long line behind, terminated by the heights near St. Helen’s. The single trees and groups of trees in the Park were so placed as to form a delightful foreground and frame to this picture, which my companion sketched on the spot. I cannot give any minute description of the Park. Some of its beauties are at once suggested by the mention of chalk downs planted with wood: the remainder are undescribable. At the summit of the hill beyond the Park, on the side which overlooks the main range of the South Downs, is the stand which the Duke has erected for the convenience of those who visit his Goodwood races.23 After perambulating the greater part of the Park, we returned to Chichester, and took our departure for Portsmouth by the coach. The road lay along the narrow slip of exceedingly flat ground, between the chalk hills and the sea: particularly narrow it was here, as we came immediately upon the first of a series of inlets of the sea, which continue quite to Portsmouth, and we had thus no continued dry land to our left the whole way. On our right the interval was much greater. But after a time the range of the South Downs seemed to terminate: and a woody tract began, which approached very near to our road, and seemed to connect with the Forest of Bere. At last Portsdown Hill, which we had seen before us for a great distance, overlooked us on the right, and we again saw chalk close to us: Portsdown Hill is a very long low chalky ridge, woody towards the eastern extremity, bare and turfy elsewhere, which fronts Portsea Island and is crossed by the road from London immediately before descending to Portsmouth: We were struck with the appearance of population along this road: it was, it is true, Sunday evening, and all the people were out: they are altogether a different race from the people about Selborne, and far from handsome or prepossessing; the women instead of being merely free and lively, as at Selborne, seemed impudent. We passed through several neat pretty towns, of some size, particularly Emsworth and Havant. In and about these towns, and in every part of the road, we were surprized at the great number of villas with little garden shrubberies about them as near London. I suppose these are the country boxes of the Dockyard and Ordnance people. At Cosham, under Portsdown Hill, we turned short to the left, and crossed a bridge into Portsea Island, which bears a striking resemblance to some of the thickly peopled environs of London, such as the country about Queen’s Elm and Brompton. Portsea itself is something like Preston, in Lancashire, from the old red brick houses and the broad streets. Portsmouth is a fortified place, and the ramparts, which are planted with trees, are the public promenade, now covered with people, all well dressed, and all ugly, with broad squat faces. The town is neat, and rather handsome, but the narrow winding streets, which I fancy always accompany fortified towns, give it the character of a continental rather than an English town. We walked out to the sands, if such they can be called, towards Southsea Point: they seem to be one of the public promenades of the place. The beach is shingly, but there is tolerable walking ground at a short distance from it. The narrow seas however are not comparable in point of interest to the open sea; the beauty of the sea is almost solely in its grandeur, and arises from the boundless expanse.
In the morning we went over the dockyard, and saw the storehouses of masts and anchors; the process of converting copper from a thick square plate to the sheathing of a vessel; a man of war rated at 120 guns, on the stocks; and a vast steam engine which supplies the force for a saw mill and for the whole process of making blocks and pullies: all the various operations were performed before us, and most interesting they were. After this we started by the steam packet for Ryde, which we reached in about half an hour. From the channel or Solent as it is called, Ryde has something of the air of an Italian town, or perhaps of Scutari in the Panorama of Constantinople.24 It stands upon the side of a hill directly facing the water; its white houses look at a distance like stone, and are partly built of a loose sandstone; they are intermingled in every part with trees. There is now a pier; previous to its erection the shallow sandy approaches rendered it difficult to land. Ryde has two main streets, both of which run directly up the hill; and two, or more, new streets running parallel to them to right and left, for it is a rapidly increasing town; with the necessary number of cross communications. The town has the cheerful air which a town on a hill always has, especially when mixed with trees; it is neat and clean, and has little of the watering place pretension about it; but almost every house of whatever quality has its little planted garden, and it is encircled by numbers of elegant villas with pleasure-grounds, particularly along the coast on both sides. The country enjoys the rare advantage of being richly wooded down to the water’s edge: the wood is chiefly oak, with some ash, this side of the island being a stiff clay, which, from the dry weather, is now open in cracks into which you might almost put your foot. Overlooking the Solent about a mile east of Ryde is Simeon’s Place, belonging to Sir Richard Simeon,25 one of the chief landholders of the island. We trespassed upon the grounds, and reached a beautiful terrace, parallel to the beach, and overlooking it, the Solent, and the opposite shore. We returned by the beach, where I found various maritime plants: it is sandy, and a common covered with furze joins on to it, very pleasant to look upon and to cross. In the evening I strolled out in the opposite direction towards Binstead, a village close down by the shore: first following the road, which though separated from the sea by a series of beautiful residences, commands at different points delightful views of it; then turning off to the right by a broad field path, which as it slopes down towards the sea, (crossing in its way a hollow dell) shews the Solent directly in front with the northern promontory of the island near Cowes projecting into it, backed by the Lymington and Exbury coast, and beyond that by the clear and ruddy evening sky. Binstead church yard commands no view, but the Parsonage and its views are celebrated: the public are admitted, according to the Guide-book, on Mondays before ten and on Fridays after five;26 but not having the fortune to go there during either of those favoured intervals, we saw it not. An unfrequented path leads down to the sea-side, hard by a pretty, little, gentleman’s cottage, though separated by what, if the tide did not enter it, I should term a ditch. There is no track along the beach, but I nevertheless followed it, threading my way between the water and the oak copse woods which come down to high water mark and almost dip into the sea: the wood flowers which will grow on a clay soil, grew down to the water’s edge in amazing luxuriance and profusion, mixing with the maritime plants. As I walked along the solitary and sequestered beach, shut in by wood and water, I was forcibly reminded of the shores of Ulleswater and Windermere. The Solent was not bluer; it was somewhat wider; the opposite coast was not lofty and mountainous; but the long projecting headlands jutted out into the water much in the same manner. In this respect however the resemblance was still greater to the south coast of Cornwall. In this twilight walk along a part of the beach where few persons resort, I found a still closer resemblance to the Cumberland lakes in one or two quiet landlocked bays. When I got near Ryde I was stopped by the wall of the grounds of one of the marine villas, and was forced to commit a trespass in order to get back to the road.
We walked towards Binstead and to the beach and back before breakfast, as my companion had not seen it and I was desirous to take a second view of what had pleased me so much. We left Ryde well pleased with our accommodation at the Star Inn, which is at the very summit of the town, and though not the most showy of the inns, is very neat and well managed. I here separated from my companion, who being indisposed and unable to walk, proceeded to Newport by the coach.27 For, (laugh who will) there are coaches between Ryde and Newport, and between Newport and Cowes. I made directly for the sea-mark on the top of the range of chalk hills which crosses the middle of the island from east to west. The geological composition of the Isle of Wight has often been remarked as curious and interesting: all the tertiary formations of Great Britain being crowded into this narrow spot. The chalk range which crosses the island through the middle, is part of the circuit of a chalk basin bounded in part by the Downs of Sussex and Hampshire, and broken through by the Solent sea. This basin being exactly similar to the London basin, of course the northern part of the Isle of Wight is composed of the strata ordinarily superincumbent upon the chalk, viz. the plastic clay and the London clay:—On the other side of the chalk hills again, their course is followed by the green sand and the other formations which accompany the English chalk in its whole extent: but on the south coast of the island appears superincumbent upon these, another line of chalk hills still higher than the former; the continuation of the range which crosses the isle of Purbeck; and these form the cliffs of Niton, St. Boniface, Bonchurch, etc. This crowding of all the formations into a small space throws the hills close together, and is therefore very favorable to beauty of scenery. All the inland views near Ryde are backed by the central chalk range, towards which I was now proceeding. Though I was confined between two hedges, and had my back to the Solent, the only part of the sea then visible; yet owing to the elevation of the ground, every gate, or gap in the hedge, on either side afforded a fine sea view at the price of merely turning round to behold it. The finest of these was, I think, the view from the windmill at Aldermoor, the highest point, I suppose, of the clay hills immediately adjoining the coast. This view is the finest solely because it is the most extensive, and comprehends all that is contained in all the others taken together: for a view is fine here nearly in proportion to its extent, the variety of beautiful objects being such that they set off each other’s beauty, and the monotony and sameness which so frequently takes off the effect of extensive views are altogether absent. Even at this distance from Ryde I was astonished at the number of elegant cottage residences with gardens. From the Aldermoor windmill, the ground begins to descend; and I crossed a rather wide, and deepish valley, first keeping the road, and afterwards striking into corn fields, by footpaths which cut off a very great bend of the road. By these footpaths I believe I might have gone straight to the sea-mark, that is, to the foot of the down immediately below it; but I preferred keeping a path which slanted gradually up the hill to the right of the sea-mark, though corn fields (for this upper side of the down is, in this part, cultivated) and so enjoying the view of the Solent channel and the varied and well wooded country between; for I know no prospect from a hill so enjoyable as that obtained by walking along the side of it. I presently reached the road which goes over these downs in their whole length; and turning to the left, came out upon Ashey Down, the top of which I soon reached. It is pointed out by the sea-mark already alluded to, which is the frustum of a triangular pyramid, erected, as an inscription states, in 1735, and formed apparently of no more solid material than chalk; much of which has been cut or has mouldered away, and the remainder as far as arm can reach, is scribbled over with the names of sundry John Browns and Dick Smiths, who with that aspiring desire so general among Englishmen, that something of them though it be but a thumb-nail shall survive them, have taken the trouble of informing posterity of the name of the Norton or Sutton or Greatham or Littleham which they inhabited: This point commands a truly magnificent view. I could now see quite to the east end of the island, and the sea beyond, with the inlet called Brading Harbour;28 then round on the south, Sandown Bay and the immensity of the boundless ocean beyond. Further on, the sea was concealed by the other range of chalk hills, still higher than this, consisting of three great hills connected into a range, Wroxall, Week, and St. Catherine’s. On the two latter were lofty sea-marks. St. Catherine’s, the highest eminence in the island, is called a Hill; the other two like all the other chalk hills in the island (however perfectly insulated,) are called Downs. Other chalk hills less bold in appearance, and more connected together, trended away near the coast on the south-west, out of the reach of sight. These belonged to the central range of chalk hills, not to the southern range. But the immediate continuation of the chalk down on which I stood, consisted westward of Arreton Down, a fine long ridge sloping gradually up to a considerable height, and eastward of Brading Down and Bembridge Down, the last of which terminating in the sea and forming Culver Cliffs, is the boundary of Sandown Bay. All these hills are not part of the same ridge, but are separated from each other; Bembridge Down still more completely than the rest, as a little river runs between it and Brading Down, to disembogue itself into Brading Harbour. An excellent road goes along the summit of Arreton Down, skirts the side of Ashey Down, then crosses Brading Down over the top and descends to the river side to join the road which leads from Ryde and Brading to Sandown and Shanklin. I struck into this road, which crosses the deep hollow between Ashey Down and Brading Down by a kind of isthmus elevated high above the adjoining valleys though depressed considerably below the summit of either hill. The southerly slope of Ashey Down and Arreton Down is mostly in sheepwalk, but Brading Down is mostly cultivated: there is however on the south side of the road at the further point of the hill, a kind of open common. The hedges which previously hid from the pedestrian part of the splendid view below him, enhance his enjoyment when they now disappear all at once. The sweep of Sandown Bay is now immediately below him: bounded at one extremity by the hills about Shanklin, at the other by Bembridge Down: I do not say by Culver Cliffs, for the side of the hill which fronts the sea was not, from the landside, visible. Within the concavity of its gentle curve, this bay embraces boundless space. Here for the first time the eye swept round, and perceived in an ample sector of the horizon nothing of the earth, except one small vessel. The curve was just sufficient to take off the monotonous regularity of a rectilineal shore, while it did not greatly diminish the extent of the watery horizon. Inland this bay is bordered by a greater extent of level or almost level ground, than is often to be found in the southern part of the Isle of Wight; and has no very marked hills to form its boundary, being backed by some wild heathy uneven country but by no elevations of a boldness or height to match those at and near its extremities: this certainly diminishes its beauty, and to some, it might appear less interesting than many other parts of the southern coast; but to me it was consecrated by the touch of genius: it had been the subject of one of the most beautiful sketches in our recent literature, which, though it appeared in a fugitive publication (the Monthly Repository) will, I trust, some time or other be reprinted, and will hold a distinguished place among the works of its author, be he even the person he is suspected to be.29 To the left of Bembridge Down lay Brading Harbour: the tide unluckily was out, and the harbour dry, with scarcely any appearance of water but the course of the river through it to the sea: at other times it must appear an inland lake. The village of Brading, between the Down and the harbour was under my feet, and beyond it, the road of St. Helen’s, with the coast of Hampshire and Sussex behind; Goodwood included, from which we had seen these hills two days before. After surveying this delightful prospect to satiety, dressed out in all the splendour of a sunny sky, I retraced my steps to the beginning of Ashey Down and then by taking the inside of a hedge instead of the outside, enjoyed my favorite walk along the turfy sides of a hill, directly overlooking the valley at its base. The green sand formation, to which the southern counties of England are indebted for so much of their most beautiful scenery, is here not unworthy of its reputation: it fills up the space between the two ranges of chalk hills, with much broken ground of various beauty, the raggedness of which contrasts gracefully with the smooth surface and waving lines of the chalk. The north side of the chalk hills on the coast has also in some degree the character of sand hills, the lower part of them probably consisting of the various sand formations. The inequalities of ground in the broad valley were something like those between the chalk and the Leith hill ranges in Surrey; the valley betwixt is not quite so wide, nor the intervening eminences quite so high, but as the two ranges themselves are also a little inferior in height, the proportions are well preserved. To give any idea of the variety of beauty created by the combinations of these large and small hills with one another and with the sea, would be impossible. I will merely mention one of the finest. I was standing on the steep turfy side of a chalk hill: under my feet was a deep narrow bottom: facing me, the long side of a sand hill completely clothed in copse, with a great number of oaks of larger size and more scanty foliage rising among the copsewood, apparently of great age: over the tops of these the waters of Sandown Bay, but without the shores; with Brading and Bembridge Downs in a continued line to the left, and the chalk hills of the southern coast, higher, but more distant, on the right. It is pleasant to observe the great variety of field paths by which this beautiful scenery is intersected, allowing easy access from all sides to the finest points, and facility of crossing by the most direct route, from one to another. I now traversed the hollow between Ashey and Arreton Down, which are separated rather by the length of slope on both sides of the dell than by its boldness or depth; and ascended Arreton Down in the line of the road, which follows the summit of the hill, open always on the south side and generally on both. The scenery of Sandown Bay is gradually left behind; so are one after another of the high chalk hills which bound the island on the south: and the road gradually nears the more thickly scattered and less boldly marked chalk hills of the south-western part of the isle. These are connected with the range of Arreton Down by St. George’s Down, an insulated chalk hill which stands between Arreton Down and the beginning of the south-western hills, at no great distance from either but nearer to the former. This like most of the other chalk hills of the isle, is considerably more long than broad, forming a kind of ridge. The little village of Arreton with its church stands near the foot of both hills and makes no inelegant figure in the landscape. As we approach the end of Arreton Down a new and fine prospect gradually discloses itself in front and on the right hand. Ryde and Binstead with their woody tract and even Wootton with its creek are left behind. The whole estuary of the Medina shews itself, from Newport down to the sea; with the town of West Cowes glittering with its white houses in the sun, on the left bank, and Cowes harbour, an expansion of the estuary, included between two promontories, the most northern points of the island. Several vessels were entering this harbour or at anchor in it. Directly in front the only object of any considerable size between us and the Solent is an insulated wild hill, of moderate height, all which now remains of the once extensive waste called Parkhurst, which formerly ranked as a royal forest: it is well placed where it is, as it fills up respectably what would otherwise be a blank in the prospect. At its foot or rather (so far as could be judged at a distance) a little way up its slope, is an immense barrack, which at a distance might be taken for a small town or a village: To the left of this, and nearer, in the valley of the Medina river, just where it ceases to be a river and becomes an estuary, lay stretched out the town of Newport, a place of considerable size, and the capital of the island. Directly in a line beyond it, at a considerable distance, I could see the little town of Newtown (one of the contemptible boroughs in Schedule A)30 with its river or harbour and the coast beyond it trending away almost to Yarmouth. The western half of the Solent was all spread out before me, with the opposite Hampshire coast from almost the entrance of the Southampton water, nearly to Hurst castle itself. This magnificent prospect did not all come into view at once; and I am not sure that the whole of it is visible from any part of Arreton Down itself, but from another long hill, along the summit of which, the road passes on leaving Arreton Down. This hill is not of chalk but of the clay which is over the chalk: (I speak only now of the surface, for I did not narrowly inspect it): and lies a very little out of the straight line of the other downs, deviating from it about as much to the north as the neighbouring St. George’s Down does to the south. It is the last of the hills; beyond it there is no other hill in this direction except Parkhurst. On coming to the end of it the road turns round a little to the left, descends through some wild heathy ground, and enters Newport by a bridge over the Medina, which here looks like nothing but what it in fact is, a mill pond. This is probably the only ugly part of it. Above, it is, no doubt, a brook; below, it is an estuary; a large tide river, navigable up to the town.
Newport is a place of some size, having several long streets crossing one another at right angles, and covering a considerable extent of ground. There are many handsome shops, and the streets are broad and tolerably regular, with good foot-pavements. This place is now like all others a focus of electioneering: it retains its two members and Mr. Hawkins is standing on the Reform Interest and Sir Willoughby Gordon on no particular interest nominally, through really on the Conservative.31 Col. Torrens was here with Hawkins, but the reformers of the place have dropt him, because he is as the Irishman said “Bethwixt thwo minds,” is standing for Bolton in Lancashire and does not know how to give up either place: so William Ord is coming, with a strong recommendation from Hawkins.32 The walls and shop windows are full of placards from both parties as well as the electioneering addresses and placards of the two candidates for the new county of the Isle of Wight, Sir Richard Simeon of St. John’s, who is an admirer of the great statesmen to whom we owe the restoration of the ancient principles of our Constitution,33 and Mr. Campbell, of Gatcombe, who is averse to those violent innovations and changes which some call for.34 Our landlord at the Wheatsheaf, who is a radical, shewed us a great quantity of electioneering correspondence.35 A weekly penny paper in the radical interest, has been produced by this contest, and we saw the first two numbers. They are very tolerably written and in a good spirit enough. We had much conversation with our landlord, who is a reading man, and something of an artist, and takes great interest in natural curiosities.
We walked in the afternoon to see Carisbrook castle, which is about a mile S.E. from the town, as nearly as possible in the centre of the island. It is situated on an insulate chalk hill, the first of the south-western chalk hills; looking round upon the other chalk hills, and upon Parkhurst, between which and itself, in rather a deep dell, is the pretty village of Carisbrook. The remains of the castle are more considerable than usual: the portals are complete, the wall is a complete circuit, and the keep towers above the rest to a great height; you ascend it by a long rude flight of steps. There is a habitable house within the inclosure, constructed by the late Governor of the Island: the present, and let us hope the last, Governor, Lord Malmesbury, never inhabits it.36 The late Governor also planted a number of trees within and without the inclosure, which mix well with the ivy which has overgrown the ruin. The panoramic view from the keep is fine, but not equal to that from Arreton Down. The immediate environs struck me much more, and particularly the aspect of the ruin itself from the Newport side, which, aided by a particular state of the atmosphere, appeared of the deepest and richest green. In the interior there is a well which goes quite through the chalk, being 210 feet down to the water and 90 feet below. Its depth was exhibited to us in two ways, by throwing down water, which after about five seconds sent up a thundering noise; and by letting down a bucket containing a lamp. The water is drawn up from it by an ass: and the asses thus employed have usually lived to a great age, but the present incumbent is a youth.
Being for the present disqualified for long walks by the continued indisposition of my companion, we hired a vehicle to carry us to the southern extremity of the island. Our road lay for a considerable space among chalk hills, up the valley of the Medina: St. George’s Down with its chalky sides and fern-clad summit to our left, and a succession of chalk hills on our right, sometimes bare, sometimes wooded, and most elegantly shaped. This early part of our morning’s journey was exceedingly sequestered and beautiful. As we advanced we came first upon the green sand, and next upon the Weald Clay; and though we continued to pass over eminences, it was clear that we had left the central range of chalk hills completely behind us: the question was now settled about the continuity of the south western downs with the central range, for a deep and broad valley, mostly level, separates those downs from the higher hills which we were approaching and which we reached by crossing the strata below the chalk. We soon entered into the valley which separates two of these hills, Week Down and St. Catherine’s Hill: we found it much longer than we expected, the hills stretching far away lengthwise to the south. The range consists mainly of three hills, Wroxall Down, Week Down and St. Catherine’s: the northermost point of Week Down is marked by an obelisk, and there is another and higher one on a smaller chalk hill connected with it which fronts it to the north: on this last and between the two is the celebrated Appuldercombe Park. On St. Catherine’s Hill there are three beacons; that on the highest point is the sea-mark, a truncated pyramid somewhat like that on Ashey Down; it is comparatively little seen from the land side. Near the end of the valley between these two hills, but nearer to St. Catherine’s Hill, is the village of Niton; a common-place rustic village: but beyond this, quite down to the sea, has grown up a village of quite a different character, one of the most elegant cottages of which is the Sandrock Spring Hotel, where we stopped. This is not the least like an inn; it is a long cottage with a long veranda covered with ivy and clematis, standing on a lawn surrounded by a border filled with choice flowers and directly overlooking the sea, across an irregular descent of waste and cultivated ground. It is a cottage very much in the stile, and about the size, of Polvellen, Mr. Buller’s place, near Looe, in Cornwall.37 It derives its name from a spring, impregnated with sulphate of iron-and-alumina, which a medical man has found out here, and recommends as possessing great virtues; I suppose it is neither better nor worse than the Tunbridge-wells water, or any other strong solution of any salt of iron.
This place is near one of the extremities of the Undercliff, one of the curiosities of the island. The range of high hills along the coast, which I have termed chalk hills, are chalk only at the summits: the far greater portion of their height consists of green sand, or sandstone, and Weald Clay. Owing to the softness of the material, and the great number of land-springs, this stuff is constantly falling down, and has been known to fall in landslips of several acres. By this process a quantity of material has accumulated on the beach, forming a cliff below a cliff; and on this houses have been built, gardens laid out, fields sown and reaped. This Undercliff as it is called extends seven or eight miles in length, and is generally of the breadth of several corn fields: it consists of earthy matter from the hills above with large masses of the sandstone, and of the conglomerates of pebbles and various other masses of stone formerly imbedded in the Weald Clay, scattered about and mixed with the softer matter in a manner which defies description. Above is the line of the original cliff, composed of sandstone and whitish clay; the chalky summit not being visible. Below, a beach coloured by an infinite quantity of minute red pebbles; and forming a succession of beautiful little headlands and coves. In general, the Undercliff terminates towards the sea in a sort of low cliff (indeed this is indicated by its name). This cliff is of loose clay. At low water the quantity of seaweed displayed is prodigious; it adheres to the blocks of stone of various degrees of hardness which have fallen not upon the Undercliff but beyond it into the sea.
Immediately after our arrival we found our way down to the shore, not without some difficulties arising from cornfields, hedges, etc., and I searched for maritime plants, of which I succeeded in finding the rare Mentha rotundifolia. We walked for a short distance along the beach, which though better than one formed of larger and sharper stones, is on the whole not very pleasant footing. At a little bay called Puckaster Cove, we reascended the low clay cliff, and looked along the Undercliff to the east, on which were visible two houses with pleasure-gardens; up at the bolder cliff overhanging the lower one; and round at the sea. Here for the first time we felt really on the seashore; half our horizon was of ocean. There is no spot in this vicinity which does not afford a fine view; the differences are all in degree: from every place you can view more or less of the sea, can descry the summit of some lofty hill, or the precipitous side of a cliff; and a greater or less extent of the wild rugged slip of land between the high cliffs and the sea. But the palm must be given to the series of views which we saw in our evening’s walk, along the summit of the high cliff, west from the Sandrock. The Undercliff being here near its termination, is very narrow and is composed chiefly of a considerable landslip which fell in 1799, and which lies in the most grotesque shapes: it consists of two long hillocks of considerable height, though from the summit of the cliff they appear but insignificant. The cliff forms part of St. Catherine’s, the highest hill in the island; and, at its point of greatest elevation, seems not very far below the summit. The sea views from the various points of this cliff are glorious: sea views from a high cliff always are so; but on this occasion we were favoured by the hour (evening) and the state of the atmosphere, which on the west side covered the sea with a dun haze, not so unearthly and Avernus-like as what I once saw on Ulleswater,38 but sufficiently thick to invest the prospect with an indefinite and mysterious gloom; yet with occasional streaks of light: while on the opposite side, far to the east, the clouds were drawn off, leaving the sky clear and serene, and a bright light falling on the sails of the few vessels made them look like dazzling white specks in a field of bright blue. The sea in both directions was as smooth as the surface of an inland lake; and on the bright side presented as calm and seductive a face as it did to the shepherd in the fable, who having ruined himself as a mariner and gone back to tend for wages the flock which had once been his own, looked out upon the smooth glassy surface of the deceitful element, and exclaimed, No, smiling traitress, thou shalt never deceive me again.39 In the front of this cheerful prospect was the Undercliff, coasting away to the east; from our high station we saw it in its larger features, the smaller details not concealing them, as is very much the case when you are on the very spot; we saw it as it really is, a cliff beneath a cliff, backed by a higher precipice, but itself also boldly fronting the ocean. At the top of the cliff along which we walked, were cornfields; but the summit of St. Catherine’s Hill is chalk down. As we advanced to the end of the cliff, we came in view of the whole line of the western half of the central chalk range quite to its junction with the sea, where it forms the celebrated Freshwater Cliffs: these bold white precipices extend in a long promontory far out into the sea, and two insulated masses of chalk surrounded by the waves prolong the line into the ocean itself. All this we could distinctly see from the top of the cliff; and either from thence, or from another point lower down, we saw the entire sweep of the coast; a hollow segment of a circle, of which our own cliff and the extremity of Freshwater Cliffs were the crescent horns; yet varied by a succession of smaller bays, and projecting headlands betwixt; the bays of Chale, Brixton, and Freshwater. The village of Chale, at the foot of St. Catherine’s Hill, we saw directly below us. The descent of our hill at its extremity was gradual, and it had other smaller eminences clustered about it: beyond which was a broad level, quite to the foot of the chalk hills. In the base of one of these smaller eminences is the celebrated Black-gang Chine, which we descended in order to see. What are called Chines in the Isle of Wight are the clefts in the line of hill or cliff, where a spring or rivulet forces its way out: these are very numerous owing to the nature of the hills, which consisting of chalk or sand at the top, allow the rains to filter through and they are stopped by the clay below. We found a little boy on the Downs, who waits there to shew the Chine to persons coming in this direction. He took us round by what seemed rather a circuitous course and struck into the rough path which leads from Chale to the chine, across the broken ground which lies at the foot of the hill, just above the sea: this ground, in some places is clad in fern and the sea with the cliffs shews well from it in the one direction, as the line of coast to Freshwater Cliffs does on the other. At last we reached the Chine, which is a kind of semicircular cavity, scooped out of the perpendicular rock over the middle of which drips a scanty rivulet, which after rains may make a considerable waterfall: if the water were more abundant it would be very fine, as the stream does not run down but falls over the cliff. To this, indeed, it is probably to be ascribed that the cliff is not worn away; composed as all the cliffs hereabouts are of loose earth, which easily yields to the action of running water, and which the landsprings are in fact perpetually washing down; but here the round cavity preserves its regularity, and even looks like hard stone. It is of rather a deep black colour, whether owing to some incrustation, to some vegetable substance, or to the action of the air: if it were liable to be washed away, the fresh white clay would be perpetually uncovered. We returned by the pebbly beach, immediately under the loose cliffs, which are here entirely composed of Weald Clay; thus proving that this is the lowest formation of the island. The guide-book, by a man named Albin, certainly one of the best guide-books I have seen, and which has been of much use to us on various occasions, says that these strata rest on schistus:40 but he has here been misled by a smattering of geology; what he calls schistus is the clay itself, drying into very loose friable blue shale, just as pieces of this same Weald Clay, taken from the roadside at Den Park near Horsham, in Sussex, have hardened into shale of the very same kind in my pocket. Here we saw the clay in lumps of various size and hardness, in all the intermediate stages of drying into this shale, much of which broken into very small fragments lies about the side of the cliffs: it will not hold together in masses of any size. The red pebbly beach, which by the way is a very beautiful object in all the views from the heights above, is here strewed with masses of hard stone which have fallen out of the clay: they are mostly conglomerates of mere pebbles, with fossil impressions. I think this would be the most favorable situation a geologist could have, for studying the Weald Clay; a large vertical surface being exposed, and the beach strewed with the debris of the formation. We arrived at a little shed used by fishermen for keeping their nets and tackle, and from which there was a path over the argillaceous cliff; this we struck into, and crossed the landslip; we were surprised at the height of its more elevated points, which seemed so insignificant from the heights above. We presently reached the plantation which surrounds the aluminous chalybeate spring; the road which passes the Sandrock inn comes down to this point, and we soon reached home, after the most delightful evening stroll we had yet had.
My companion finding himself somewhat recovered and able to venture upon the walk to Shanklin, we set out this morning, and I have now to give an account of the most delightful day we have yet spent. It began as many hot summer days do with a fog, and from our windows we at one time could not see the high cliff at all; but it cleared off, and though it never became a very clear day, so that we could see far seaward, it became perfectly cloudless, and gave us all the beauty of sunny seas. We took the road along the Undercliff, which we saw from one end to the other. I say the road, because we really did keep the road; and in this narrow slip of land, much could not be gained by any deviation from the carriage road: it affords as fine a line of positions as any other direction would, unless we either ascended the downs above the cliff on the left, or descended the Undercliff to the beach below; and had we done either of these we might have seen fine scenery but it would not have been the scenery of the Undercliff, which is of quite peculiar character. The ground is rough and broken in the extreme studded with high points mostly topped with masses of rock or intersected, again, by little dells: the road winds over this, sometimes passing across wild ragged ground, sometimes crossing plantations of trees surrounding the little shrubberies of little pleasant houses overlooking the sea. The lower cliff, and the beach, afford a succession of projecting points and little coves: and these headlands rising into the sea, with woods, plantations, heathy commons, single trees, flag-staff stations, and the cliff above, combine with the sea in an inconceivable variety of harmonious pictures, which change at every step. Among the most delightful parts of the Undercliff is the village of St. Lawrence. The church, which may almost vie with that of Buttermere in its pretensions to being the smallest church in England,41 stands on one of the highest points of the Undercliff; it commands one of the finest sea views as well as fine views of the Undercliff itself, both backward and forward. The little church itself is a pretty object—one side of it which in the character of a belfry, has pretensions to being rather loftier than the rest, is completely covered with ivy. The village of St. Lawrence lies a little further on in a hollow below; it is shrouded in trees; the cottages which compose it, even common labourers’ cottages, are surrounded by greater quantities of flowers than I think I ever saw in similar situations. We saw myrtles growing in the ground up the walls of cottages both here and at Bonchurch; they are known to stand the winter in this part of the island, and indeed if there were any place where one would attempt to naturalize the plants of a better climate, it is on this Undercliff, which is open to the south, and hot with the sun’s rays reflected from the white cliff, while it is sheltered from the northerly and easterly winds. After passing St. Lawrence, and Steephill, where a new house has been built with a strange round tower, the character of the cliff began to change; the chalk down above now immediately overtopped us, forming what is called St. Boniface Down; and at the foot of it the Ventnor inn, standing at the edge of the chalk and above a narrow undercliff composed almost entirely of the sand, overlooked immediately a beautiful little inlet of the sea called Ventnor Cove. The village of Ventnor is further on. Here the Undercliff is more fertile, and more richly cultivated, but less woody, less irregular in its forms, and more open towards the sea. The line of coast is terminated by the beautiful village of Bonchurch, in which the houses are mixed with well-grown trees. Here the abundance of water is still greater than along the other parts of the Undercliff, and the clear limpid springs form a little lake similar to those at Wendover and at Carshalton, though smaller. Here the Undercliff ends and the chalk down slopes down irregularly to the sea, separated from it only by another considerable landslip covered with wood. The road here slants upwards and winds round the chalk hill, which forms a hollow or sinus, round the hamlet of Luccombe, which has, as usual, its rivulet and chine. Here the character of the views at once changes. Sandown Bay bursts upon us, separated only by part of the irregular declivity of the chalk hill: beyond the bay, Culver Cliffs rise boldly out of the sea, to a great height, terminating the shore of Sandown Bay, and with it, the line of coast. The hollow before us, and the opposite side of the hollow, with scattered trees, formed a fine foreground to the bay and cliffs. In winding round the hollow of Luccombe chine, and descending to the other side of the opposite edge of the hollow, towards the village of Shanklin, we found more fine points of view than it is possible to enumerate. The blue sea, the fine sweep of Sandown Bay, the brown cliffs which bound it at the foot of Bembridge Down, terminating in the taller white cliffs of Culver, formed as many beautiful combinations with the foreground of grass, cornfields, trees and cottages, as we had seen formed out of rather different elements on the Undercliff all the morning: and looking back, the chalk down which we had partly ascended, and which points far north towards the centre of the island, afforded home views of a different but still a beautiful character. From some points we could also see the line of the central chalk downs, which I had traversed two days before; including Arreton, Ashey, and Brading Downs with Bembridge Down and its white Culver Cliffs for the termination. The village of Shanklin, one of the prettiest villages in the Isle of Wight, straggles down a part of the gentle declivity almost to the sea side; and joins the extreme boundary of Sandown Bay; which terminates with the very first headland of Wroxall (otherwise called St. Boniface) Down. The village consists of a considerable number of cottages, with every appearance of comfort, intermixed with elms and other trees: it does not seem to be so much inhabited by people of the rank of gentlemen, as the Undercliff; there are however a few gentlemen’s cottages, and apparently several places where people are boarded and lodged. We met with many such places also on the Undercliff, especially at Sandrock, Ventnor and Bonchurch. There is at Shanklin an excellent inn, called the Hotel, where we stopped for the night, my companion not being equal to a longer journey.
In the evening I sallied out alone for an excursion round Sandown bay, partly in the hopes of finding rare botanical specimens, for which the place is celebrated; in this however I had small success: but I was amply rewarded by the beauty of the scene, enhanced as it was to me by the charm which true poetry whether metrical or not gives to all which it has touched, endowing it with beauties not its own. The descent from Shanklin to the beach is wonderfully fine, though it is difficult to say in what its beauty consists, except in having before you a bay of the blue sea with the sun shining on it, and its winding shore backed by tall white cliffs. Culver Cliff seems terminated by a kind of ledge; that is, where the top of the cliff breaks off by an abrupt nearly perpendicular line, the lower half of it seems to prolong itself a little farther towards the sea in the form of a ledge. Perhaps this ledge adjoins the Hermit’s Hole, a small cave in the perpendicular side of the cliff, inaccessible from below and accessible with difficulty from above, by a path in which once engaged you cannot turn round till you have accomplished the perilous descent. This cave, as any one may learn from the sketch of Sandown Bay to which I have already more than once alluded,42 is believed to have been once tenanted by a recluse: and a more suitable abode for one who shuns the face of man cannot be contrived; halfway down the side of a wall rising directly out of the sea, where nothing can be seen but the blue waves, nothing heard but the screaming of seagulls and cormorants; floating in the air about their rocky dwellings suspended like his between ocean and heaven. The curve of Sandown Bay is considerable, much more so than it appeared when I viewed it from Brading Down. The village of Sandown is situated about the middle of it, and is, I think, the least interesting village I have yet seen in the island, though not without some kind of beauty too. From Shanklin to Sandown the shore is skirted by a line of sand cliffs (the green sand formation) which though they look inconsiderable from any of the numerous heights by which they are commanded, seem lofty when you look up at them from the shore. Between these cliffs and the waves is one of the finest and broadest sandy beaches I ever saw. I mean, the broadest at low water; for at high water I suppose the sea everywhere comes up nearly to the foot of the cliffs where there are cliffs: but as the shore slopes less rapidly than in most places, the sea recedes at low water to a considerable distance, and leaves a fine hard beach so ridged by long deep furrows almost close to one another, that I seemed to have never before known the meaning of the lines which Wordsworth lent to Coleridge for the “Ancient Mariner,” “For thou art long, and lank, and brown, As is the ribbed sea-sand.”43 The edge of the moist sand, which was the softest part of it, and not much ribbed was punctured with innumerable little holes by a very small kind of shrimps or prawns, not larger than woodlice, who jumped as if they could fly, and swarmed in such myriads that it was impossible to walk without crushing some of them. I never saw such a lively fish, or one that could jump so high for his size. He may be very common for aught I know, but I never observed him before, and certainly never can have seen him in such numbers.—On the other side of Sandown village the ground is flat, and indeed part of it is marsh, and below the level of the sea, which is shut out by an embankment. To protect this accessible part of the coast, there is a fort about the middle of it, which looks like a small gentleman’s house, surrounded by a rampart and ditch. I should think half a dozen shot from a second-rate man of war would blow it down, but I suppose no ship of any size could get near enough, and it may be a good position for firing at anybody who attempted to effect a landing by means of boats. This flat shore is not of much length; the sand cliff soon rises again, and rapidly attains a considerable height till it joins the white Culver Cliff which is still higher. There is a foot path from the beach quite along the edge of the cliff, affording noble views of the bay, and of St. Boniface Hill which terminates it at the other extremity—as for Culver Cliff it looks much shorter than it is, being44 seen sideways from part of its own line. I ascended this path till I actually set foot upon the chalk, and heard the sea-birds shrieking in the cliff; I did not like to turn back sooner, and it was too late in the evening to go further on towards the extremity of Culver Cliff. The beach at the foot of these cliffs seems much narrower; and under the chalk cliff, though the sea was far from high tide, it was only for a short distance that there was any dry land at all; the shore dwindled into less and less till it disappeared and the white cliff rose majestically out of the very sea. From this eminence the range of chalk downs towards Newport, and of the long side of Wroxall Down stretching out and presenting its northern extremity to face them, formed a beautiful picture under the evening sky, though inferior to the sea views on the left. I returned to Sandown village by the same footpath and along the beach; at the village I turned into the carriage-road to Shanklin, which (after passing a long building which looks like a row of almshouses and which I suppose has something to do with soldiers and Sandown Fort) becomes comparatively tame and uninteresting, or at least seemed so in the dusk of evening. There are fewer trees about Sandown Bay than anywhere between Shanklin and Niton. But one does not miss them. The island altogether is well wooded; wonderfully so, for a maritime district; nor do the trees seem to suffer at all, in any part of it, from the vicinity of the sea.
I went down before breakfast to the beach, and coasted it to the western extremity of the bay, or as nearly so as I could; for it was high water, and the sea came up nearly to the foot of the cliff. Though this cliff is formed by what I have termed a chalk hill, it is composed of the lower strata which are of the green sand formation. By the way, this would never have been called green sand if it had everywhere resembled what it is here; I have not been able to detect anywhere in the island the smallest vestige of that green earth which gives its name to the formation. The sand is intensely ferruginous sometimes red with iron, sometimes black, and colours deeply most of the streams which issue from it; while those which come out immediately under the chalk are, on the contrary, here as everywhere, exquisitely crystalline and limpid. The sand also abounds in those plate-like veins of silicated oxide of iron which is characteristic of this particular formation. I likewise ascended to the top of the low cliffs which bound the bay between Shanklin and Sandown: here also there is a path along the edge of the cliff; and the morning view of the bay and its opposite shore exceeded, if possible, in beauty, the evening view of the preceding day. After breakfast we walked down to Shanklin Chine. This is simply the hollow made in the sand hill and cliff, by a rivulet of some size which has excavated it by lapse of years: the hollow begins at the village and ends at the sea, and being deep, of course makes high walls of sand on both sides, about the majestic character of which the guide-books rave, and quote the descriptions of puffing tourists. The chine certainly winds prettily, and at the top of it next the village there is a waterfall of some height, which, for a cockney cataract, is really not so much unlike a mountain waterfall as might be expected, though the poorest of the Forces in Cumberland and Westmoreland is much superior to it. So much for Shanklin Chine, its fall, and its “tremendious shasm” as Stock-ghyll Force45 or some other waterfall in the Lake District was termed by somebody at the Ambleside Inn,46 who having come into the neighbourhood I suppose with specimens of leather or rope-yarn, had deviated thus far from his route, and familiar habits, in order to be a wondering spectator of the glories of nature, and gave vent in these characteristic and appropriate terms, to the enthusiasm which had been kindled in his breast. For my part, ever since I heard the words, I have inwardly determined to hold them sacred for describing scenes similar to Shanklin Chine.—We then set off to walk back to Sandrock. Under the direction of the guide-book, we returned to Bonchurch by a most beautiful path.47 Instead of winding round the hollow of Luccombe Chine, we crossed it, and walked to Bonchurch under the cliff; through a fine piece of broken ground, covered with oaks and underwood, which is also a landslip, and fell down from the heights about the same time with the landslip formerly noticed: it is covered with fragments of the cliff, of all sizes and forms, and is altogether one of the wildest wood scenes I ever saw,48 being at the same time sufficiently high to command fine views of the sea, both westward, and to the east, including Sandown Bay and Culver Cliffs. The wood is full of the finest flowers of the island, among others the Lathyrus sylvestris, or smaller everlasting pea, which covers the bushes and abounds even on the steepest sides of the cliffs. This, with the Mentha already noticed, and the Rubia peregrina or madder which covers the hedges like the white bedstraw, are the most characteristic and conspicuous of the rare plants which we found on the Undercliff. After conducting us through the wood, the footpath led us across two little but rich meadows immediately overhanging the sea, to the prettily situated little church of the village of Bonchurch, which being at some distance from the road and among trees we had not seen in our walk in the opposite direction. It is said to be as old as the Saxon times, but we saw nothing remarkable in it externally except its situation. We now struck into our former road, near the bright clear pond or lake which I formerly mentioned as being formed here by the water issuing out under the chalk. It swarms with perch, which we could see in perfect shoals sporting in the clear water. We stopped at Ventnor to dine;49 I walked down to the shore of Ventnor Cove, which does not afford a very good beach for walking, and the heaps of seaweed are rather offensive in the bright sun; but it is interesting geologically, as there is here an evident derangement in the strata. The chalk comes quite down to the seaside, which it does not in any other part of the Undercliff, before or after; but at the very foot of the chalk, quite on the beach the Weald Clay just shews itself, with its friable shale, without any intervening green sand. We walked a considerable way up a road which leads first along the side of the chalk hill (St. Boniface Down) and then over it, and which immediately overlooks Ventnor, with its cove, and the Undercliff for a large space east and west: the mixture of the finest scenery of a chalk country with the finest sea views would have rewarded us for a longer stay. In the whole line of the Undercliff we experienced I think still greater pleasure in this second view of it than even in the first: we seemed to discover many fine points of view which we had before overlooked, and the same spots appeared finer than before. The sky was not so cloudless as the preceding day, which in some respects was an improvement: and the air was clearer. In passing the little church of St. Lawrence we this time found an old man who had stationed himself there to shew the church to strangers: its interior was of a simplicity corresponding to its minute dimensions: he told us it was twenty-five feet long. I regret that I contented myself last year with viewing only the outside of the little church at Buttermere, since I should have been better able to compare the size of the two. The old man told us that the proprietor of the whole parish is Lord Yarborough;50 that the population at the late census was 36 males and 42 females; that they had not a single burial in the year 1831, and only eight marriages in the last eleven years. I was surprised to hear him say that even here the population is extremely fluctuating, and that very few of the families which were here in his youth, are here still.
This morning we took our final departure from the Sandrock, and proceeded to Yarmouth to see the western part of the island, having hired a little light vehicle to carry us thither, on account of my companion’s indisposition and the comparatively uninteresting character of the route. The first village that we passed through was Chale; and the road which led us thither, passed over a rather elevated part of St. Catherine’s Hill. We availed ourselves of this circumstance to leave the carriage, and ascend to the summit of the hill, the highest ground in the island. From this we saw clean over the tops of the central chalk hills, to the Solent, which we saw in nearly its whole extent, and the Hampshire coast beyond. Towards the east, our prospect was bounded by the long line of Week Down, which extends from the Undercliff to Appledurcombe: but to the west, besides seeing the line of coast to Freshwater Gate, and the lofty white cliffs of Freshwater Bay beyond, all of which we had seen from the top of the cliff just below our present position, on the evening of our arrival at Sandrock; we saw, rather from the greater clearness of the air than from our higher elevation, not only the entire Hampshire coast from Lymington to Christchurch and far beyond, but the line of the Dorsetshire coast trending away far south and the chalk cliffs of the peninsula of Purbeck, of which the chalk hills on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight are considered by geologists to be the continuation. The view, however, on the whole, is not, I think, superior, scarcely even equal, to that from Ashey sea-mark or Brading Down. The tower on St. Catherine’s Hill is round, tapering a little towards the top, and though now a bare wall, it would appear to have been originally the habitation of man. There is another tower apparently of older date; on another point a little lower down the hill, which looks more like a tall pigeon-house than any other object in heaven or earth. The guide-book says that one of the two is a light-house, and the other “an ancient tower of unknown date” which “appears to have been the tower of a chapel or oratory.”51 —After leaving Chale, we crossed the comparatively level country which lies between the two ranges of chalk hills; and we crossed it in a coasting direction, not far from the sea; but by a very zig zag route, there being no direct road to the place of our destination but various roads connecting the villages with one another. We passed through the pretty and prettily placed village of Shorwell, at the foot of the central chalk hills; and the villages of Brixton or Brightston, and Brook. In this part of the island as in all others, we were struck by the beauty of the cottages. The soil is sandy, the green sand formation; its little elevations allowed us an occasional view of the sea, especially near Brook, but these views made little impression upon us after the Undercliff: the sea is but little in landscape, except where there is a bold coast. At Brook we turned to the right and passed through the chalk hills by one of the cuts or gaps in the range (though not without some climbing) leaving on our left hand a beautiful open road over Compton Downs to Freshwater Gate. We now came again upon the clay above the chalk, and looked out across the north of the island to the Solent. The country was more open, and contained fewer houses, than any part of the Isle of Wight which we had seen. We passed through the village of Thorley, and so came upon the beach, which at low water is muddy, as on the opposite side, this being the shallow part of the Solent. They even suppose that till the sea broke in, it was a lagoon, in the New Forest, from the number of fine oaks which are found buried in it, with their roots firmly fixed in the bottom. The road now turns to the left, and runs for a quarter of a mile parallel to the beach, at a sufficient elevation above it to afford a good view across, and we then entered Yarmouth.
This ancient borough, now happily disfranchised, is a very small place, not larger than a village, but, being so old, it is compacted together like a town, not scattered like a place in the country, and the houses are joined together in streets. It has not therefore the cheerful appearance of a more modern country place. The George Inn, where we put up, (and were, par parenthèse, very well entertained) had evidently been a private house for a long time: the staircase is of old oak, and the walls are wainscotted to the top. The beach about the place is oozy, and there is an inlet of the sea called the Yar river, (for I cannot give that name to the little brook of fresh water which runs into it) which at low water is a mass of mud. This neighbourhood, consequently, is the only place in the island (except it is said, Brading harbour,) where there is any abundance of the plants which grow in salt marshes. Of these I found a great multitude, about the mouth and banks of the Yar,—and in the salt marshes higher up, towards its head. We walked about the town and its immediate neighbourhood, which is far from agreeable on the side next the harbour, and I should think cannot be healthy. I have never understood how people can persuade themselves to come for health among salt marshes and the muddy mouths of tide rivers, merely because they are near the sea. But even from this disagreeable place there are good views of the line of chalk downs which form Freshwater Bay, and which are at a very short distance, this being the narrowest part of the island. And towards the east the road by which we had entered, and a path which continues in the same direction, are very beautiful. The coast is formed by a line of gentle eminences clothed with wood, as at Ryde; and the woods descending the hill to the water’s edge would form a walk between wood and water exactly similar to that between Binstead and Ryde if the different nature of the beach did not render it impossible to walk upon it without wet feet.
We set off this morning to make our last excursion in the island, for the purpose of seeing the curious cliff scenery at this extremity of the island. We reached Freshwater Bay before breakfast, having crossed the entire width of the island, which in this place is not more than an hour’s walk. The country is pretty: we left the village of Freshwater to our right, about half way across, and reached the line of chalk hills, which is not of any very great height, but forms in this place a long nearly straight ridge, with wavy sides and covered with a smooth turf. We stopped to breakfast at a neat inn in the hamlet of Freshwater Gate, which stands in an opening in the range of chalk hills between the long down I have mentioned (called Compton Downs) and the High Down, as it is called, which forms the high cliffs of the bay, visible from so great a distance. There is here almost a perfect level from the one coast to the other, and not much above the level of the sea. Freshwater Bay is a pretty little cove, not a fourth of the size of Sandown Bay, bounded on both sides by chalk cliffs. The beach itself is all shingle, though we were told that it was not so until what they call in the neighbourhood the “November Storm,”52 which they say was all over England five or six years ago, (I wonder if it was that which injured the Plymouth Breakwater) and which among various other changes which it made on this coast, drove the sea up to the inn itself, and on retiring, left the beach covered with shingle. We climbed Compton Down, which is of no great height; and walked along the top of the cliffs for a short distance; the cliff is chalk, but the top of the down is overlaid with a sandy clay like Ranmer common. The opposite cliffs rose with a commanding air from beyond the bay, which glittered with the brightest blue as we looked down at it from between it and the sun. The Dorsetshire coast in the distance, also a chalky coast, was seen sufficiently distinctly to be even beautiful, and St. Catherine’s Hill with its tower bounded the view on the opposite side. In the inaccessible parts of the cliff over the sea grew a great quantity of one of our common garden stocks, apparently the Matthiola incana; but quite impossible to be got at; which I regretted, though I had reaped an abundant harvest of plants in a marsh at Easton between Freshwater Village and Freshwater Gate; a place mentioned with honour in Albin’s Flora of the Island,53 and deservedly, as it contains the Ranunculus lingua, Oenanthe pimpinelloides, Epipactis palustris, Cladium mariscus, Comarum palustre, Menyanthes trifoliata, Scirpus maritimus, various Potamogetons, Genista tinctoria, Eriophorum angustifolium, and various other interesting plants, all of which I collected in a very small space, by about half an hour’s search. I may also mention that I found the Inula helenium by the road side near Freshwater village growing plentifully, and that there is a sandy beach near Yarmouth, on the opposite side of the Yar river, which contains in great plenty the Convolvulus soldanella, Eryngium maritimum, and Asparagus officinalis: near the same place the Statice limonium also grows abundantly, in places occasionally covered by the tide: and the Althaea officinalis, Juncus maritimus, Triglochin maritimum, Plantago maritima, Salicornia herbacea, Aster tripolium, and various kinds of Atriplex and Chenopodium (with that universal tenant of our coasts the Beta maritima) abound in the neighbourhood. I have also found near Yarmouth the Borago officinalis, I think certainly wild, and the Tamarix gallica, apparently so: nor is this improbable, as it is known to grow at Hurst castle on the opposite coast, and Albin has put it down as growing wild in the Isle of Wight.54 While mentioning Albin’s Flora Vectiana, it is but just to say that I found it highly useful, and that it is almost the only local Flora I ever saw, which was really useful to me: when I have gone to the places indicated by him, I have generally found all or most of his plants.55 —Leaving Compton Down, we returned to Freshwater Gate, and hired a boat to take us round the extreme point of the island, as it is hardly to be seen with advantage except from the sea. We coasted the high cliffs of Freshwater Bay, the highest point of which, our boatman told us, is 617 feet perpendicular above the sea. The cliffs are nearly perpendicular, in some places very nearly, and continue of little less height for a considerable distance, than at the point which he told us was the highest. They look surprisingly mauled, as if the waves had been beating about them twice as long as about any of the other cliffs. They are undermined by a multitude of caves, some very long and large, others smaller; into one of these our boat entered, and went a little way in.56 Of course many large pieces of chalk have fallen off the cliff into the sea (there is no beach, the sea washing the foot of the cliffs). One immense solid mass looked as if it had not fallen off, but had been left standing while the cliff farther inland wasted away; and such, the boatman told us, is the fact. I omitted to mention that there also stand in the sea, at many yards distance from Compton Cliff, two tall masses of chalk, nearly as high as that part of the cliff itself, and even retaining on their summits a portion of the turf which had rested on them when perhaps centuries ago, they were part of the continuous mass of Compton Down. One of these masses is curiously perforated and arched, and makes a very picturesque appearance from the cliff. The sides both of Compton Cliffs and Freshwater Cliffs are covered with samphire, and the noise of sea-gulls about Freshwater Cliffs was incessant; though nothing, we were told, to what it is in April, May, and June, the breeding season. We saw many young gulls swimming; they are brown like cygnets: along with some solitary specimens of a bird which the boatman called a shag, who seems quite black at a distance, and swims with his whole body under water except a long erect neck. The old gulls do not seem to swim, but they are perpetually flying, with that beautiful smooth flight, superior to all our common English birds except the swallow tribe, their extended wings seeming to float over the air without the slightest motion. We saw some ravens, who frequently build in these cliffs, and as we reached the extreme point of the cliff, we raised a flight of cormorants. We did not see the puffin, whose eggs are often sought and found in the cliffs by adventurous persons, and are much prized for their beauty, and are also eaten. Notwithstanding the height and steepness of the cliffs it seems that smugglers frequently succeed in landing goods there; they sometimes let down ropes, but sometimes also they manage, God knows how, to scramble up the cliff with a cask of brandy attached to their bodies. Two fishing boats with smuggled goods had been seized the day before, and the revenue cutter which had effected the seizure was towing away the empty boats at the very time we were in the bay;57 we saw her again the same evening at anchor in the Solent with the boats at her stern.—After turning the corner of the cliff, we came in sight of the Needles, from which however we were still separated by another bay of no great size but great beauty, called Scratchell’s Bay. This inlet, which forms a considerable curve, looks about south-west, and is exactly at the turn of the coast. It is entirely bounded by high chalk cliffs, which are curiously marked by lines of flints at a very little distance from one another, looking like the dotted lines on a map; these lines are not quite vertical, but nearly so; the strata of this bay partaking in a great degree of the derangement of those of the neighbouring Alum Bay. In one part of Scratchell’s Bay the cliff is curiously scooped out into a convex recess, with a vaulted roof: it is curious, as the work of nature and accident, though I think not quite so perfect a circular arch as Mr. Brannon has made it in his otherwise accurate and interesting Views.58 We landed on the pebbly beach of this bay, which is inaccessible except from the sea. We then sailed up to the Needles, which are two large masses of chalk which have been left insulated as the sea has broken its way across the long narrow promontory of chalk cliff of which they once formed part. They are in a direct line with the promontory, which is called the Needles Point, and to which they exactly correspond in height; the lines of stratification also exactly tally. There was once in the same line of cliff a high pillar of chalk, which was thrown down sixty-four years ago by a tempest.59 The remaining two needles will some day perish in the same manner, or be worn away by the sea: but other needles may be formed to succeed them, for the line of cliff for some distance, which exactly resembles them, may again give way as it must have done before, at some other point than its extremity. Both it, and they, are of perfectly white chalk, quite free from turf, and bristling with all kinds of sharp points: a flight of cormorants, seated on the points of the furthest Needle, had a very curious effect. The lower strata of the chalk seemed uncommonly hard—and indeed if it were not, it would I suppose have worn away gradually instead of being broken into these curious solid fragments so unlike any thing which is commonly afforded by chalk cliffs. Of its hardness, indeed, there is complete proof, for on the other side of Needles Point, in Alum Bay, the fissures in this very cliff give out water, copiously, in a number of springs, which I have never seen any where else in chalk hills: the porous nature of the chalk commonly allows the water either to be absorbed or to filter through and come out beautifully clear and pure from underneath. Having passed through the Needles, we turned about round, and Alum Bay was before us. This singular bay is familiar to geologists, from the perfectly vertical stratification, which exhibits a great number of strata all at once. The cliffs which bound it form as it were the two sides of a right angle; the one (which is the cliff of Needles Point) faces the north; the other, or coloured cliff, faces the west. The chalk cliff is massive and majestic, and the stratification, as evidenced by the lines of flints, becomes, as it approaches the angle, vertical, or nearly so. But the greatest singularity is that of the other cliff, which is composed of numerous thin beds of variously coloured sand, clay, and marl, standing so perfectly erect as to present a series of perpendicular stripes, of the most gorgeous colours; sometimes a deep pink, sometimes a bright, almost saffron, yellow; sometimes a strong brick colour; sometimes brown, sometimes a kind of blue: with countless slight shades and varieties; altogether the most brilliant specimen of nature’s colouring, except an occasional sunset; more beautiful by much than the rainbow. It comes upon you at once after passing through the Needles, and increases in beauty as you approach it. Of course it is not a uniform surface, but very irregular in its outline when you are near it, from the unequally perishable nature of the strata; and furrowed by various miniature chines and hollows; but in the main it is nearly perpendicular. The continuation of the high ground to the left of it is the common clay of the Isle of Wight basin, and is stratified in the ordinary manner. Our boatman landed us in Alum Bay, and we spent a considerable time on its beach, making a collection of fragments of the different beds, and picking fossil shells and shark’s teeth out of the cliff. Some of the beds are so full of fossils that you cannot take a handful of the soil without finding some small shells, and if you take up a large lump which sticks together, and pull it asunder, you are pretty sure to find a shell of some dimensions in the place where it breaks. At least such was our experience, and we collected a great number of specimens. Native sulphur also effloresces on the side of the cliff, in such quantities as not only to tinge it with many bright yellow spots, which add to the diversity of its colouring, but in one place actually to give an odour of brimstone to the air. As far as respects colour, however, its effect is much aided by a vegetable substance of a colour very like its own, which I never saw anywhere else, and which here adheres to the cliff in great quantities. The cliff is also quite full of little bright acicular crystals of something, probably sulphate of lime: they were not alum, nor did we find any of that substance, though the bay is named from it, and it is said to exude from the cliff.—When we left Alum Bay, we ascended to the adjoining clay eminence, the top of which as well as of the coloured cliff forms an extremely pretty verdant ferny heath, abounding in rabbits. On the border of this, adjoining the chalk down, an inn has been recently established, and must be a very convenient station for those who wish to explore Alum Bay at greater length than we have done. We proceeded to Yarmouth through the hilly country of the coast, which is well wooded, and altogether much prettier than the comparatively level country which we crossed in the morning in our way to Freshwater Gate. It also commands various good views of that level country, of the chalk hills behind, of the Solent and of the opposite coast, with Hurst Castle in the very centre of the picture, nearer to the island than to its own coast, placed at the very extremity of a long line of shore or spit as it is here called, projecting far into the sea and narrowing the channel to not more than a mile in width. On the northern coast of the island there are here two very pretty gentlemen’s seats with wooded pleasure-grounds. We returned to Yarmouth by being ferried across the mouth of the Yar, in a fisherman’s boat. Here we concluded our tour of the island, and having dined, took boat for Lymington. Before leaving Yarmouth, I ought to mention its Castle, which is a tall but little old fortified building immediately overlooking the sea and the entrance of the harbour: the walls are covered with red valerian and wall-flower, growing, according to Albin, spontaneously:60 there is a little garden on the roof, with flowers and culinary vegetables, for the use, I suppose, of a family which resides in the building and takes care of it: on the roof are several small cannon, which look as if they were still intended to be used, though I hardly think an enemy would attempt a landing here, unless as formerly some English nobleman should be crowned king of Wight,61 and the island-monarch should go to war with the continent of England.
In leaving the Isle of Wight I must remark generally that nowhere in so small a space have I seen collected together so great a quantity and variety of all the beauties of scenery of which this part of England is susceptible. The country about Dorking is indeed superior to it in some respects, but is wanting in perpendicular cliffs and sea views. I am not so ardent an admirer of the sea as some are, to whom it compensates for the absence of all other beautiful or striking objects: Such a coast as that of Bognor or even of Yarmouth in Norfolk, has small attractions for me; one straight, monotonous line of low beach, bounding a dead flat, or a marsh below high water mark. But the sea with a bold line of coast, stretching into headlands and receding into bays, clothed with trees down to the water’s edge, or frowning over it in lofty cliffs, is the most striking of all combinations of natural scenery, except lofty mountains: and in this the Isle of Wight is surpassed by nothing, which I have ever seen, except the south coast of Cornwall; if even by that. The beauty of the cottages in the Isle of Wight is as great as in any part of England; they are surrounded by flowers, the people who inhabit them shew no symptoms of poverty, and the children are often extremely beautiful; you constantly see them, as they are always running out to open the gates which cross the roads at short distances all over the island. We found much less neatness in the cottages, in the part of Hampshire to which we next proceeded: they were often of mud, and had but few flowers, though generally some potatoes and other garden produce about them. The children however seemed generally healthy and well fed, though scarcely so handsome as in the island.—The attractions of the Isle of Wight to the geologist are well known; to the botanist they are scarcely less. Besides the plants I have already mentioned, the shores abound with the Cakile maritima, Chelidonium luteum, Arundo arenaria, Salsola Kali, Apium graveolens; Absinthium vulgare; in Alum Bay we found (I think) the Poa bulbosa, and about Sandrock that rare mint, the Mentha rotundifolia. The island abounds with the Linum angustifolium, Eupatorium cannabinum and with an Iris, which was not in flower, but which is said to be the foetidissima. The Chlora perfoliata and Chirinia centaurium grow in all situations and on all soils, in such profusion as I have never seen. At Freshwater Gate the Samolus valerandi, and Hyoscyamus niger, abound. The common trefoil of the island is that elegant species, the Trifolium fragiferum, and on the sandy soils the arvense is not unfrequent. We also saw the Androsaemum officinale, the Cnicus eriophorus, and Erigeron acre. All the fields, hedges, and banks are covered with the Equisetum arvense, growing so luxuriantly and profusely as to be an object in the landscape.
We crossed to Lymington in a wherry, the steamboat going only one day out of three, though on that one day it goes and returns several times. The island, with its backbone of chalk, the cliffs of Needle Point, and the Needles, had a fine appearance from the water, as had also Hurst Castle and the long slip of land at the extremity of which it is situated. This indeed is the only place in the visible part of the Hampshire Coast, where the sea and land come immediately in contact: except at high water, there lies between the sea and the beach, all along this coast, a broad zone of deep mud, partly green with the plants which grow in salt marshes but mostly bare, or with nothing but seaweed adhering to it. As it was about low water when we arrived, we had to journey up a narrow creek between these mud banks; and when we entered into Lymington river we found it precisely similar, a little stream trickling to the sea down the middle of a vale of mud.62 The entrance to the creek is marked by a high post with cross bars or something of that sort on the top, which is known by the name of Jack in the basket, and is so laid down in the maps, and even alluded to by that name in the public notices which are stuck up for the guidance of mariners. The town of Lymington is rather considerable; it is on the top and side of a hill, which hill is, to use a French expression, the côteau of the Bolder, or Lymington river. One broad street runs up the hill, and along it for a considerable distance, and there are some cross streets. It has a cheerful aspect, particularly the part of it which is on the side of the hill; it is clean, and has the appearance of a real country town, looking very little like a watering place. There are some very pretty houses on the side next the sea, with their sides covered with myrtles (which appear to thrive here in the open ground as well as in the Isle of Wight) and other flowers. But there seems no great number of houses of any size. Electioneering is as rife here as elsewhere: there are three candidates; Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale, Bart.63 who appears to be sure of his election; I suppose he will have the second votes of both parties; for he appears to stand on local interests, having a large house and park at Walhampton, just on the other side of Lymington river. The contest is between Hyde Villiers and a Mr. Stewart, who hoists the “Independent” flag,64 not having volunteered any declaration of principles, and is therefore supposed to be a Tory at heart, and supported by the Tories; yet he now makes professions of a very popular kind, having been challenged thereunto. The animosity seems very great, and poor Villiers has been abused and calumniated without mercy: but the great bitterness seems to be always against the heads of the local parties; the cry of Nomination is raised against those who have brought forward Villiers, and they are individually nicknamed and collectively reviled in many a placard. It is good to see that the people engage with earnestness in the exercise of their new rights, but all this bitterness of contest if it is to continue for four or five months longer, till the election, will be a little more than enough.
We set out this morning to commence our exploration of the New Forest. We took the course of the Bolder, (that is the name of the Lymington stream) which, as soon as you get out of the reach of the tide, is not much more than a brook. The forest can not properly be said to begin till you reach Brockenhurst, about half way between Lymington and Lyndhurst: and the main road from Lymington to Brockenhurst keeps at a considerable distance from the river: but we, for the sake of a more agreeable walk, quitted the road, struck into a shady lane which keeps the valley of the Bolder, and so found our way by lanes and paths into a wild country, a mixture of heath and wood, which may be considered part of the forest. Through this our walk was very pleasant, and we presently struck into the park of Brockenhurst House, in which there are fine trees, and, from the gentle slope on which the house stands, various good views of the forest beyond. The park joins the road into which we now returned, and passing through the village of Brockenhurst, crossed the Bolder. We were here struck by seeing a prodigious quantity of horned cattle pattering about in the river and in a pond formed by its overflowing: it seemed as if the entire bovine population of the neighbouring forest had been driven down at once to drink at this place: and indeed the result resembled the stories we read in Herodotus of the army of Xerxes, which drank river after river quite dry;65 for on repassing this place the same evening, we found, not indeed the river, but the pond, almost dry. Here also we for the first time saw the breed of forest ponies, mentioned by Gilpin in his description of the New Forest,66 and which run about and graze all over it. The road here enters the Forest, and shoots directly across it for about four miles, to Lyndhurst, in nearly a straight line; making what would be a noble vista, if the trees were closer together and of greater magnitude, and is even now fine. We left the road, and found our way to Lyndhurst chiefly by the paths and green drives among the trees. This part of the forest is certainly fine, but yet, perhaps scarcely so fine as I expected. It did not disappoint me, but it certainly did not astonish me. It is a wild tract covered with furze and fern of most luxuriant growth, and thickly scattered with trees, chiefly oak, with some beech. The trees appeared mostly old, and past the full vigour of their vegetation; yet of no remarkable size; as if all the finest timber had (which is probably the fact) been cut out for shipbuilding long ago. The underwood is chiefly holly, particularly near the road; and many, indeed most, of the hollies seemed to have attained an immense age; the majority were decidedly descending into the vale of years, and falling not indeed into the sere and yellow but into the thin and scanty leaf,67 while the trunks were acquiring that sure sign of decay, a bark covered with the white lichen. We scarcely saw a single tree in the forest this day which could be of any value in shipbuilding except for knee timber: I have no doubt that the forest was much finer formerly than now, and that the last war has made deplorable havoc among the noblest trees. I recollect that even in Gilpin’s time, after describing one piece of forest scenery with great enthusiasm, he mentions that it was marked out for destruction and that in two or three years from that time it would have ceased to exist.68 Still, renovation somewhere must be compensating for this destruction, or there will soon be no timber for shipbuilding. The country here has no very marked feature except the trees; there are no commanding eminences and deep dells; very little inequality of ground at all. So that it will easily be understood why we were not very much struck with this first specimen of forest scenery. Still it was beautiful, though inferior to many woods I have seen, and though the seclusion, and the feeling of indefinite extent, which no woody scenery on a small scale can produce, is greatly injured by the occasional intrusion of enclosures and trumpery fir plantations. As we approached Lyndhurst, which, though in the heart of the forest, has a little circle of open country round it, we passed various houses and gardens of some beauty; but Lyndhurst itself is a little dull-looking place with no beauty at all, unless the situation of its church and churchyard, on a small eminence, commanding however no view of any great interest, be so considered. We dined at Lyndhurst, and returned to Lymington on the top of one of the coaches, by which means we were carried down the vista which I before mentioned, and through some rather pretty country between Brockenhurst and Lymington. On the whole this country is better adapted for riding or driving through than for walking. You require to get over the ground rather quick. In the evening we walked down to the muddy beach, where we found an artificial salt lake scooped out in the land, for the purpose of bathing, and various square ponds cut for salt works. There are among these salt-pits, about the banks of the river, what seem to be the skeletons of windmills, or windmills hanged in chains; but I suppose they are in reality draining-mills, to pump up the water from the marshes, and empty it into the river. I remember draining-mills down the Norwich river as you approach the coast; and very odd it was to be scudding down a river supported by embankments like walls, the drainage of the fens on both sides (which would otherwise stagnate) being forced up by the wind and thrown into the river: but I do not recollect that these mills looked so like the dry bones of a windmill. We here saw the first corn actually cut: it seems generally ripe in this neighbourhood, which being far south, and not so far west as to partake of its humidity, must I should think be the earliest part of England. A proof that notwithstanding the recent hot weather, this is still a backward season.—The botanical results of this walk were the Drosera longifolia, in a heathy bog before we came to Brockenhurst (which also contained in great abundance, the Myrica gale, Abama ossifraga and Rhynchospora alba); that rare and newly discovered thistle, the Cnicus Forsteri in a sandy heath near the same place; the Fumaria capreolata, in a green lane; (this we also found in great abundance the next day, between Lymington and Exbury) and the Atriplex portulacoides, which I gathered in the salt marshes, along with the Atriplex littoralis, Aster tripolium, Plantago maritima, and other plants suited to the situation.
The following day was dedicated to a visit to Beaulieu Abbey (pronounced Bewley) and the river scenery of the neighbourhood. We crossed the river by a causeway and bridge; it was again at low water, neither have we ever seen it otherwise. No part of the road from Lymington to Beaulieu passes through the forest: it winds in and out among houses and parks, and then crosses an extensive and open heath. But as our object was to ascend Beaulieu river from near its mouth, we quitted the road before we reached the beginning of the heath, and took the direction of Exbury. There being no direct road, we wound our way from lane to lane, through a country of fields and hedgerows, on a sandy and gravelly soil; the walk was agreeable, without presenting any very marked features of beauty. We passed an inland lake or pond, mentioned by Gilpin,69 very much resembling one of the Broads (as they are called) in Norfolk: the water and the trees about it gave some considerable beauty to this particular point of our walk. Soon after, we arrived at the ruins of an old priory (St. Leonard’s) which formerly depended upon Beaulieu Abbey; it is now a farm yard, and part of it after having a wooden roof put upon it, is converted into a barn. We presently descended the côteau of the Exe, or as it is more commonly called, the Beaulieu river, and reached its banks at a little village named Buckler’s Hard. This river, which is a very little stream running through a vale of mud, like the other river, when the water is low (except that the mud is more overgrown with green water-plants) is a fine river similar to the Tamar though considerably smaller, at or near high-water; it is hemmed in on both sides by gentle elevations covered with thick copse, which at high water is washed by the stream, so that wood and water are alone visible, and through this the river winds as no rivers do but those which flow through a nearly flat country, making the most beautiful bays, and producing continually the effect of a lake wholly surrounded by land. There is an excellent path through the wood from Buckler’s Hard to Beaulieu, as straight as an arrow, and a stone’s throw from the river, but unhappily the river cannot be seen from it, the view being intercepted by trees. We regretted not having taken a boat at Buckler’s Hard to ascend the river; and made ourselves all the amends we could by going down to the river wherever we found an avenue to it. A little way from Beaulieu the country becomes more open: on the western side, two or three cornfields and beautiful green meadows appear, the copse continuing on the eastern side; till beyond the copse on that same side, the church and ruins appear, and on the other side the village, partly covered with trees: where we stopped at an excellent inn, to dine. Our walk had yielded us two very interesting plants, the Bartsia viscosa in a shady lane early in the day, and the Euphorbia platyphyllos in a corn field near Beaulieu. While dinner was preparing we sallied out to see the Abbey. Out of a part of it there has been formed a large church: there is also an old-looking dwelling-house now inhabited by Lord Montague,70 which must have been built long ago either out of the materials of the Abbey or in imitation of it. There are however still remaining, considerable ruins: what seem to have been the cloisters, have been built up into four walls and now inclose an orchard. Of the outer wall considerable portions are remaining at intervals, and shew how extensive a space was once included in the Abbey inclosure. The situation, like those commonly chosen for monasteries, is extremely fine. It is at the point where the tide ends and fresh water begins, the two being separated by heavy floodgates keeping up a mill-pond. The Abbey immediately adjoins and looks out upon the most beautiful reach of the river, which we had the advantage of seeing at high water, and which forms one of the smoothest and loveliest of lakes, with green fields on one side and wood on the other, the wood growing quite down to the water’s edge, covering the promontories and lining the bays. The wood here too is not all copse; there are some timber trees: through the wood an excellent road leads to a wood-cutting station a little lower down the river, and from this road and various paths there are for so small a distance a great number of fine views of the lake and its banks, all different from each other. After dinner we went out on the river in a boat, which enabled us to see somewhat more of the winding course of the river:71 and the mode I should recommend of seeing Beaulieu is to come to it by water quite from the river’s mouth, attending however to the time of the tide, for there is scarcely any water here when the tide is out, and before we left Beaulieu the lake which we had admired had wholly disappeared. Beaulieu would be a pleasant place to stay two or three days in. We have seen nothing a quarter so fine on this coast. We returned to Lymington by the road, across the long heath I have already mentioned. Its perfect flatness and moistness, with its freedom from trees, assimilate it to the heaths in Norfolk; and it resembles them also in containing a large pond, or Broad. The ground is table land, though not very elevated: it commands a good view of Compton and Freshwater Downs, and the Needles Point; which, in spite of all that Mr. Gilpin may say,72 to my judgment shew well from all points in this part of the country, and close many views which would otherwise be incomplete and tame. As it grew dusk we saw the light-house on the Needles Point blazing away, and the top of the down looking by the imperfect light very much like a wood.
This morning we set out for Christchurch, the extreme point of our journey towards the west. The intervening country not being very interesting, we were not disposed to walk, and as the coach was full, we availed ourselves of the offer of a Christchurch man, a nursery and seedsman, and fruiterer who was returning home from Lymington, to take us in his cart; a taxed cart I cannot call it, as it was without springs.73 With this personage, whose name was Hatchard,74 we had much conversation on the road: we found that he was an enthusiastic reformer, and he told us many particulars about the history of reform at Christchurch, which was a close corporation with no more than eight or ten burgesses in the hands of Sir George Rose75 before the passing of the Reform Bill, but is now an open borough returning one member. The only candidate in the field is Captain Tapps (Captain I think he called him) the son of the Whig proprietor,76 and rival of Sir George Rose, in the neighbourhood: he professes to be a reformer, and our friend says that the Christchurch people would not return anybody who was not: but he seemed to think that the reformers had been too hasty in taking him up; there was somebody, I forget who, that he would have preferred, but who would not stand when he heard that Captain Tapps was in the field. Sir George Rose it seems was applied to, but when he saw the small number of names to the requisition, he would not stand. Sir George he told us was liked as a magistrate but not as a member; his son appears to be liked still less.77 Our friend talked repeatedly of the number of enlightened men there now are, and how much more parliamentary questions are understood: he says he did not know, a twelvemonth ago, what reform was, and a newspaper was scarcely ever read in Christchurch, but now they are very much read, and he says he has often sat up to read the debates as late as his eyes would allow him. He is a great enemy to tithes, and seems to have thought a little both on that subject and the corn laws.78 On the whole he talked very sensibly, and in a manner we were pleased to see nor did he express one objectionable opinion. He was a little puzzled to understand how all these changes had been brought about; he had heard of Cobbett, and supposed that much was to be ascribed to him, but did not seem to know much about the Political Register; though he had read Cobbett’s Sermons and his works on agriculture.79 He seemed to regret Sir James Macdonald’s death very much, but had scarcely heard of Sir Thomas Baring.80 He says that Swing has never been in that district,81 but there were letters written threatening outrages on his part, in consequence of which a great number of special constables were sworn in, and the Preventive Service put in requisition, of which circumstance the smugglers, who were the real authors of the letters, availed themselves to effect the landing of a great quantity of smuggled goods.—The country between Lymington and Christchurch admits of no particular description. We passed the house and grounds of Lord Stuart de Rothesay82 who is building a castle overlooking the sea; making his own bricks and mortar, importing his own lime and Portland stone. We also passed a house and grounds belonging to the lately celebrated Madame de Feuchères,83 of whose history our acquaintance seemed to have some notion, I know not exactly how much. Sir George Rose has his house and grounds close to the sea, at Mudeford or Muddiford, the watering place of Christchurch, which we passed through before entering the latter place: it may indeed be said to be part of the town, as the series of houses between the two is nearly as uninterrupted as in Mudeford itself. During our journey there was some rain; and it rained at intervals during the rest of the day: this was the first rain we had had since we started from town. It was not, however, such as to prevent us from sallying out in the evening, and seeing a great deal of the neighbourhood.
Christchurch is situated about a mile and a half (I should think) from the real sea-shore, but the sea comes in by a narrow inlet or break and spreads out into an ample basin, along the edge of which is Mudeford, and Christchurch is not far from its extreme point. Two rivers of considerable size for this part of the country, the Avon and the Stour, empty themselves into this harbour, very near to one another: Christchurch is upon the Avon, which is divided into two branches over both of which there are bridges: the Stour, a more considerable river, lies beyond. The harbour is bounded on the further side by a long black ridge-like sand-hill, which projects into the sea and forms Christchurch Head. On the other side the coast is for some distance tolerably flat, but soon after turns round towards the south, and rises into a long line of tall loose sand cliffs, continued quite to the slip of land on which Hurst Castle stands. Between this line of cliffs and the cliffs of Christchurch Head, there is included an ample bay: across which the downs of Compton and Freshwater, the Needles Point, and the Needles themselves, look bold and lofty, and almost close at hand. Inland the country is rather flat, with the exception of one bare sand hill called St. Catherine’s Hill, which stands two or three miles to the north. Christchurch is quite beyond the verge of the forest, and several miles from its nearest point. The harbour is mostly bounded by salt marshes, but the true beach when you reach it is a fine sand, sloping so gradually that the moist and hard part of it is very broad and pleasant to walk upon, though not furrowed as in Sandown Bay. I speak particularly of the part between Sir George Rose’s inclosure and the shore. Sir George has planted a quantity of Scotch firs to shelter his grounds from the sea winds, but a part of his house comes down almost to the beach, and is open towards it; looking like a pavilion. When you have quite passed his inclosure the cliffs begin to rise; they are at first low, and insignificant; afterwards, as I have already mentioned, they rise to a respectable height. There has been an extremely good and agreeable path along the edge of the cliffs; the path still remains, but by the obstructions placed across, it is evident that the public have been deprived of it by sentence of magistrates, in order I suppose to enable Lord Stuart de Rothesay to carry his shrubbery to the edge of the cliff. I can with difficulty conceive any greater public injury to a neighbourhood like this; such a walk was quite invaluable; there is not, I am well convinced, any other in the whole surrounding country that can serve as a substitute for it. We, trespassers as we are, defied all notices and overcame all obstructions, and had our walk along the cliff as far as we listed, which was no inconsiderable distance; enjoying the view of the bay and the Needles and the open sea beyond Needle Point and Christchurch Head.
The first business of this morning (before breakfast) was to walk about the town. It is rather a good specimen of a quiet old town in the altenglische stile, not stirred into bustle or activity by manufactures, commerce, or even by being much of a thoroughfare to any other place, though some Weymouth coaches pass through it. The harbour of Poole, the next place on the coast, is so much superior, that vessels resort thither rather than to Christchurch: and the latter place seems to be almost exclusively an agricultural and fishing town. But the great ornament of Christchurch is its very ancient and beautiful church, as large as several of our cathedrals, and built in the cathedral stile, except that, as in the case of Westminster Abbey, the tower is no longer in its proper place, in the centre of the building, but having fallen into ruin has been rebuilt at one extremity, and from that and its comparatively modern date is not in keeping with the rest of the building. I must leave it to those who better understand the subject, to describe this beautiful building in detail.84 I will however say of it, that although it has been much patched at different times, in the stiles of various ages of cathedral architecture, the greater part of it is in the very oldest Saxon stile, with the perfectly round arches, which are also traced on the outside of one part of the building as mere ornaments, intersecting one another and shewing the origin of the pointed or Gothic arch. The ornaments both in the inside and outside are as profuse, yet as perfectly subdued, and kept as completely in subordination to the main design, as in the best specimens of our Gothic buildings: almost the only stile of architecture which by the observance of that simple principle, has been enabled to unite the most barbaric splendour and often the most barbaric quaintness and even grotesqueness in the details, with the greatest purity and chasteness and the most striking grandeur in the general effect. There are here in particular two magnificent screens, one of them much mutilated but having still enough remaining to shew what it once was. This was originally the church of a richly endowed Priory. Close to it there are ruins of what is believed to have been a castle, and also of what is believed to have been the house of the governor of the castle. From the nearer of the bridges these ivy-covered ruins have a fine effect, particularly with the noble church for a background. This church, which is of a magnitude quite out of proportion to the town, is a most conspicuous object from every situation from which Christchurch is visible.—After breakfast, while my companion remained to make a sketch of the church and of the ruins, I took a walk to Christchurch head. After going down to the Stour, which is a little beyond the town, and which is crossed by a ferry, I struck into a path across several corn-fields overlooking the harbour, and at last reached the hill, which though bold, is far from high. My reward was even greater than I expected. It is a long and broad sand-hill, flattish though irregular at the top, and covered with heath now just starting into flower: it is bounded on three sides by the sea, forming the boundary between two bays, Christchurch Bay and Poole Bay. Towards Poole Bay and towards the open sea it forms loose sandy cliffs; and belongs, I have no doubt, to the green sand formation. Landwards the town of Christchurch, backed by St. Catherine’s Hill, (which is seen to greater advantage than from any other point) has a good effect. The line of cliffs drops down very low where the hill ends, but seems still to continue as a low range, round Poole Bay; of which, partly from its extent and partly from a rather hazy state of the atmosphere, I could not see the inmost recesses; but across the mouth of the bay the Purbeck coast, with its chalk cliffs, seemed close at hand, as did also the cliffs about Needles Point, and the Needles themselves. The haze prevented me from distinguishing the coloured cliff of Alum Bay, of a part of which we had a side view from the cliffs on the other side of the harbour the preceding evening.—I gazed my fill, and took my last parting look, as far as this tour is concerned, of the open sea; then returned to Christchurch, and we set off for Lyndhurst, having resolved to shift our quarters to that place, as the central point of the Forest. Our walk, which was of about fourteen miles, consisted of three distinguishable parts: about five miles of rather common-place hedgerows, lanes, and inclosures, before we reached the bounds of the Forest: about five miles more of what is termed the Forest, and is really a part of the royal chase, and full of deer, but is nothing but dreary barren heath; and four miles of real forest, forest of fine trees, far superior to what we had seen between Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst, though not equal to what we saw afterwards. The only defect of it was that it was broken into little bits, intersected by large broad heathy openings, and was rather a rapid alternation of wood and waste, than one continued forest of trees. What there was of it however was exceedingly fine. A large majority indeed of the trees seemed to have past their full health and vigour; and many were actually dying. But most were still extremely fine; they were finely grouped in all degrees of closeness and all varieties of edge: and the stately green fern at their feet, with a multitude of thorns and hollies to fill up the interval between the fern and the forest trees, left little to be regretted except that such scenery was not more continuous, but was so often interrupted as to destroy that character of vast extent which we are accustomed to associate with a forest. The weather all day was hot and clear, with thick massive summer clouds which seemed never to move, though a wind was blowing beneath: reminding us of Wordsworth’s lines,
The rain was entirely gone, and visited us no more. We even found the heat of the sun inconvenient on the bare heath. The ground was sufficiently unequal to add greatly to the beauty of the forest, but not to give any interest to the dreary heath; which derived all the little beauty it had from the tall furze here and there, the herds of deer scattered about, and the numerous little streams which intersect it, all of which, where they spread out into anything like a pond, were filled with forest ponies and horned cattle pattering about in the water for coolness, and ready access to drink. We arrived at Lyndhurst to a late dinner, and went out no more that evening.
We set out this morning to make a circuit of the finest parts of the forest. We turned our course westward in the direction of Boldrewood Lodge; our way lying wholly through the forest; in which we here found still finer, and considerably younger trees, with fine forest glades passing through them and without the large patches of open heath which in our yesterday’s journey had filled as much space as the woody part of the forest. The trees however were chiefly beeches; yesterday there was a larger proportion of oak. After between three and four miles of this fine scenery, we reached Boldrewood Lodge, which stands in the middle of an eminence that divides two vallies; and commands a more extensive view than is common in the forest. The view however is in a great degree barren: the forest lying rather behind than before, and what is visible from the windows being mostly heath, though not of a gloomy or dreary character. Behind, a number of fine park trees, cribbed I suppose originally from the forest (but with the addition of some noble chestnuts) were included within the inclosure. Our road now ran north-west across the heath, till it joined the post road from Ringwood to Southampton; striking into this road we turned into a north-easterly course, and after a mile or two along the top of a heathy eminence, reached a part of the forest far surpassing every thing which we had yet seen. The road went along a ridge commanding on the left a magnificent view of a finely wooded and richly diversified country, towards Salisbury, with the thickest and finest part of the New Forest as a foreground. To the right, again, the view was more interrupted, but from time to time an opening allowed us to look strait down a far deeper and longer valley than is usual in the Forest, thickly clothed with wood on both sides, and having in it a large house, somewhat indistinctly visible, which we supposed to be Castle Malwood. As we proceeded onward, keeping the ridge of the hill, and passing a little hamlet and inn called Stony Cross, the view to the left varied every instant, but it was decidedly the finest at a point where our road began to descend through a long vista of fine trees; where another road goes off to the right, leading to the village of Minsted; and the view to the left, from the brow of the hill, discloses the valley below set as it were in trees, the trees about us forming the boundary on the right, and a part of the forest, much thicker than any we had seen and forming a gradual ascent towards Bramshaw on the road to Salisbury limiting the prospect on the left. We staid here for some time, exploring the different avenues, and enjoying the views: nowhere were the trees finer, or a larger proportion of them young and vigorously healthy. I think the finest oaks that we saw in the Forest are those which are visible from the descent towards Minsted. When we had seen enough of this fine eminence, we descended the long vista, and after crossing somewhat more of the forest, arrived at a place on its borders where five roads meet; the road to Ringwood (the way we came), to Salisbury, Romsey, Southampton and Lyndhurst. Here also we lingered for some time; going some distance up the Bramshaw or Salisbury road, and striking into several of the forest glades, which are finer hereabouts than any where else. We returned to Lyndhurst partly by the grassy drives and paths, partly by the road, which is the finest of all those that cross the forest: one point of it, on a little eminence, commands a fine vista on each side, varied beautifully by ups and downs, and including a fine view of Lyndhurst at the end of one of the avenues. We went out no more this evening except to a yewtree on a little eminence, just out of the town.
The aspect of the New Forest generally is much less forest-like in the popular sense of the word, than I was prepared to expect: and I know not any one spot in it which might not easily be equalled in every respect by wood scenes in the very limited extent of the timber woods and parks of Surrey. In those woods and parks there is even one feature of beauty in a far higher degree than in the New Forest; the trees are much more uniformly healthy and fine. Yet there are many very fine forest landscapes in various parts of the forest, especially in the neighbourhood of Stony Cross and Castle Malwood, where the trees are finest, the inequalities of ground most considerable, and where the wood is least interrupted by those large open spaces which, in many parts, convert the forest into a succession of little woods, deriving from its great extent only monotony, not vastness. The large plantations of fir with which the forest is studded in all directions, are the nurseries for young forest trees: in some of the oldest of them the firs have been partially cut out, and disclose thick groves of thriving young beeches and oaks. In the old parts of the forest the beech is decidedly the predominant tree: among the oaks I suppose great havoc must have been made by the war: there are fewer of them than of beeches, and the fine ones are fewer in a still greater proportion: in the finer parts of the forest there are many noble beeches, equal to almost any I ever saw; but not many first-rate oaks. There are some birches, but not a great many; scarcely any ash: the underwood if it can be called so, is chiefly thorn and holly: the hollies, as I have already remarked, in some parts of the forest, seem to be weighed down with years; but in others they are comparatively youthful, thriving, and vigorous, and attain the greatest beauty of which that tree is susceptible. I saw but one white beam tree. In general the trees are dispersed sufficiently widely to allow the ground to be covered and overgrown with fern of the greatest luxuriance. There are parts of the forest however, especially in the northern portion, where the beeches occasionally grow so close as to admit of no vegetation under their shade. But this never continues for any considerable distance. I should think much more than one half of the legal extent of the Forest is mere heath, with no trees at all, except one here and there, stunted and weather-worn. Over this the deer range freely as over all the rest: and we twice saw a fox cross our path. These wild heaths are covered with forest ponies, horned cattle, and geese, but we saw no sheep; and of course where the deer range there can be no cultivation. Fine as the forest undoubtedly is, I see nothing in it to excite the enthusiasm of a writer on the picturesque; and unless the forest was very much finer in Gilpin’s time (which I suspect it was) I think he has overrated it. Gilpin however was full of crotchets, witness his disparaging estimate of the beech as an ornamental tree,86 and his notion that the line of the Isle of Wight looks tame in the New Forest views, whereas I have not seen a single view in which it was visible, the beauty of which did not seem to me exceedingly increased by it.—I should like to ride over the forest on a forest pony, and immerse myself more completely in its green and grassy glades. It is a sort of scenery to which one could often return, but which if continued for a long time together, would become a little wearisome from its uniformity.
This was the day appointed for our quitting the forest; which we did on foot, our way lying across a part of the forest scenery which we had not yet traversed. It was chiefly over heath, intermixed with bogs covered in the most luxuriant manner with the Hypericum elodes, Alisma ranunculoides and Anagallis tenella; which abound throughout the forest, but especially in this part. The bogs followed the courses of the little streams, and were of no great extent; but this was a peculiarly dry season. In one of them we found the Triglochin palustre; and the Juncus lampocarpus grows in the moist places generally, though in no great profusion. The ground is covered with the two Drosera’s—the longifolia and rotundifolia. We had to find our way by such tracks as we could find; for instead of keeping the Southampton road, we determined to cross the wild country to Hythe, and be ferried over the Southampton Water, either to Southampton itself or to Netley Abbey. Our course lay mostly near the edge of the woody, or true forest, which however is considerably interrupted here, but what we saw of it was extremely fine; the hollies here were more beautiful than anywhere else, and the beeches often not only fine but very closely set. We scrambled over one green fern-clad hill, on which stands a house called Ashurst Lodge; and we were delighted at finding the beautiful Campanula hederacea growing amongst the fern: I had gathered it in the Pyrenees, but never in England till now. After about three hours walk, which was a longer time than we had any occasion to expend if we had known our way, we reached the extreme verge of the forest, and again entered the cultivated country. We crossed some corn fields and presently came in sight of the Southampton Water, with a peep of its richly wooded and cultivated banks, and the town of Southampton, with its three spires, one of them tall and pyramidal like that of a cathedral, fronting the water and appearing at a very small distance from us though the Water alone is reckoned three miles across. Our present route lay in a direction which carried us away from Southampton. Crossing another field we reached the little village of Dibden, prettily situated on an eminence, among trees, overlooking the Water: and from hence we had two miles of carriage road to Hythe, on the banks of the estuary. This little village, which is conspicuous to all who navigate the Water, by its cheerful riant appearance at the foot of the côteau, is the point from which those who come from Fawley, Beaulieu, and that corner of the coast and of the Forest generally, cross to Southampton: there is a regular ferry. Though Hythe is but a small place, it has two rather large inns, which directly overlook the Water. We stopped to dinner at one of them, and were afterwards carried over in a sailing boat to Netley Abbey. After the fine views we had of the open sea, under most favorable circumstances, in the earlier part of our tour, we were not sorry, by way of variety, to see this, the finest river scenery in England, the only scenery which I suppose can be assimilated, however remotely, to that of the great American rivers. A tide river (for such I must term it, though really an arm of the sea) three miles wide, with gentle côteaux rising on both sides of it, covered with numerous and rich trees; in one place (about Netley) with a fine timber-wood: above, the beautiful town of Southampton with its lofty spires and fine position, and to the right of it a broad creek going up from the main stream, like another river discharging itself into this. Below, dimly descried in the distance, the coast of the Isle of Wight, fronted and almost equally divided by Calshot Castle, on a narrow slip of land or spit, resembling on a smaller scale that of Hurst Castle and projecting forward from the Fawley and Exbury coast, almost half closing the mouth of the stream. We landed at the nearest point of the shore to Netley Abbey: and had only about a quarter of a mile to walk when we reached that celebrated ruin; which is finely situated in a little hollow or basin, among beech woods and slopes covered with corn fields. We staid nearly two hours examining the Abbey; which is even finer than Bolton Priory, in Wharfedale, being about double its size, and equally perfect.87 Unlike Bolton, it consists not of one, but of several large apartments. You enter through a square court yard, bounded by a noble row of arches; from this you pass into the largest apartment which is itself larger than all Bolton taken together, and in fine preservation. At each end an immense Gothic window rises to an enormous height: a row of fine arches bounds it on the further side, and on the nearer towards the centre of the building much of the groining of a vaulted passage remains: in the middle of this side is a recess, of which one side is open, the other three are perfect, consisting of two stories of arches of the lightest and most elegant Gothic, with much even of the ornaments remaining: the stone staircase in one of the turrets is still practicable, and you can climb by it up to the first story, and walk round the three sides of the recess and in various directions over the solid wall. In addition to the usual accompaniments of a ruin, the ivy, etc., all parts of the interior of this building have, I presume by the good taste of some former possessor, been planted with noble ash trees: there must be between twenty and thirty of them, the most beautiful I ever saw, and probably the tallest: a glorious sight even independently of the ruin, and which besides the shelter they give to it and receive from it, mix their transparent spreading boughs in the most graceful manner conceivable with the finest parts of the ruin, and contribute greatly to give it that tranquil yet wild and deserted air which harmonizes so well with the other parts of the scene. There are various other apartments besides those I have mentioned, which seem to have been rendered habitable after the great building was in ruins: many of the arches have been bricked up and the walls plastered over: but this barbarizing process has been in part reversed, the plaster and brickwork partially pulled down and the old wall and arches exposed, which in those places has been preserved from decay, and looks as fresh as if it were built yesterday. The old parts of the Abbey are of a loose crumbling sandstone, with here and there a column which appears to have been ornamental, of a shell limestone, resembling Retworth marble; I suppose it is Purbeck stone. There are outlying buildings where the vaulting and groining are still more perfect, perhaps were originally still finer, than in the main building. I have given a most imperfect and lame description of this beautiful ruin, but no description can do it justice: from every point, external or internal, it is a mine of wealth and delight to the artist: it is also a place where (if tourist and sight-seers could be but for so long a time excluded) one might dream and muse for a whole summer day; and a poet might perhaps derive inspiration from time so passed, though to any one else, if in the full vigour of his health and faculties, it would be a scarcely justifiable piece of indolent self-indulgence. The tracing of the windows, and many other of the minute ornaments, are considerably less perfect in their preservation than at Bolton: but the difference is far more than made up by the greater magnitude, the more complicated and artistical plan of the structure, and the noble mixture of so many lovely ash trees, more lofty than the loftiest parts of the building and blending with it in a harmonious mixture which to be completely felt must be seen.—On leaving the ruin, we descended to the water’s edge, along which there is a beautiful path, to the ferry by which you cross the creek already noticed. To our right we had a beautiful verdant côteau, clothed with wood except where it is crowned by the elegant residence of Mr. Chamberlayne,88 in the purest taste, perhaps, of any very recent edifice that I have seen in England. To our left, the magnificent estuary, still nearly at high water: it is one of the disadvantages of Southampton as of the Lymington coast, that except when the water is near its highest a vast extent of mud is discovered, bare, or green only with the Salicornia herbacea, the light and bright verdure of which takes off a little from the deformity. But of this we at present saw nothing. After being ferried across the creek, which considered as a creek, terminates very little higher up, we came almost immediately upon what seems to be the public promenade of the town of Southampton; it lies along the water’s edge, has a raised gravel walk with various seats, and is planted with trees, though of no very great magnitude or beauty. It is however a pleasant place to saunter in the evening. We entered Southampton under the gateway of an old castle which (like that of Norwich) is used as a county gaol: and came at once upon the quay, from which we walked up the High Street, and were much struck with its length, and its prosperous and cheerful appearance. Southampton is certainly one of the largest, and one of the handsomest towns in the South of England; and one of the few large country towns which make one feel a desire to live in them. There seems nothing very remarkable in its public buildings, and except the churches, which are of a size and splendid appearance (I speak only of the outside, not having been in the interior of any of them) reminding one of the churches in the North of England, where the common churches of a country town are not inferior in size, and decidedly superior in architecture, to the cathedrals in the South. A large gate-way, in the Gothic stile but not I should think very old, with some grotesque figures and two strange fresco paintings of knights in armour from the local romance Sir Bevis of Hampton,89 divides the High Street, and the town; which are distinguished into “above-bar,” and “below bar.” Besides the High Street, which is of great length, there are various cross streets of no mean dimensions. The place seems busy, and prosperous; and its many inns look almost splendid.
A rainy Sunday at a country inn. We had many schemes for passing this day, which still remained to us at the expiration of our tour; but they were all knocked on the head by a continued, though light, rain, and we were thrown upon our own resources: fortunate in having not lost an hour by rain in the whole tour up to this time, nor had even one drop of it except the one day when we arrived at Christchurch (and a flying shower the next day before we started) but still not very well pleased with our lot, being in a situation of which those who have never been in it (who I trust are many) may be aided in gaining some conception by Washington Irving’s description in the Sketch-book.90 Southampton would have afforded many resources on any other day, but today every thing was shut up; neither books nor newspapers were to be had: however, we still survive having found various occupations, of which one was that of finishing this journal. We had a short walk in the evening in the immediate environs.
Returned to town by the vulgar road, in the common stage-coach fashion.
[1 ]Directories list William Alexander, a maltster, John Caesar (or Caeser), a baker and confectioner, and Xerxes Charles, a draper, milliner, and dressmaker. (Cole mentions Caesar as a grocer, and Xerxes as a hosier.)
[2 ]Gilbert White (1720-93), The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (London: White, 1789).
[3 ]Ibid., p. 2.
[4 ]As Cole indicates, they mistook the village for Hartley, and were “rectified by a bright eyed girl’s bursting with laughter in Mill’s face for his misconception, which to her seemed to have all the design of wilfulness of error in order to serve as a prelude to conversation.”
[5 ]Ibid., p. 5 (in fact the Plestor).
[6 ]Mary White (1767-1839) was actually Gilbert’s niece, fifth daughter of his brother Benjamin. Mill had originally written, and then revised, “I suppose his daughter.”
[7 ]Natural History, p. 288.
[8 ]After mentioning “darkeyed damsels skipping downwards with a life evidencing their animal spirits,” Cole says: “An old man, who had been gathering furze, in descent, held some colloquy with Mill upon the state of singleness in which the damsels aforesaid, had hitherto passed their existence, and he regretted that age and infirmities prevented his rendering himself so gallant as his capacity once permitted—and inclination still prompted him.”
[9 ]Natural History, p. 3.
[10 ]Ibid., pp. 14-16. Mill later uses the spelling Wolmer.
[11 ]Or, in Cole’s words, “amidst the rude flat Honkings . . . expressive of glee and boisterous joy from the Villagers, we retired for the night.”
[12 ]Natural History, pp. 3, 31.
[13 ]Commonly Empshott.
[14 ]There, Cole says, they “solaced themselves with the delights of a change of linen, and revelled in the dinner of Lamb and Currant tart. . . .”
[15 ]The Bill had been enacted the previous month as 2 & 3 William IV, c. 45.
[16 ]William Stephen Poyntz (1770-1840), then M.P. for Ashburton.
[17 ]Commonly Cowdray.
[18 ]Elizabeth Mary Browne, the sister of George Samuel Browne (1769-93), 6th Viscount Montagu, inherited Cowdray Park on his death, which extinguished the title; she married Poyntz in 1794.
[19 ]Henry Percy (1564-1632), 9th Earl of Northumberland, suspected of complicity in the gunpowder plot, when imprisoned in the Tower of London for sixteen years, spent his time studying and writing.
[20 ]Mill’s catalogue refers to the great panoply of painters and sculptors represented in the Wyndham collection: John Flaxman (1755-1826), John Edward Carew (ca. 1785-1868), John Charles Felix Rossi (1762-1839), Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), Peter Lely (1618-80), Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), Titian (Titiano Vecellio) (ca. 1488-1576), Claude Gelée, called Lorrain (1600-82), Salvator Rosa (1615-73), Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp (1620-91), Jan Both (1618-52), Antoine François Van der Meulen (1634-90), Giovanni Antonio Canaletto (or Canal) (1697-1768), Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), James Northcote (1746-1831), John Opie (1761-1807), George Romney (1734-1802), Benjamin West (1738-1820), Thomas Phillips (1770-1845), and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851).
[21 ]See No. 29, entry for 20th July, 1827.
[22 ]Charles Gordon Lennox (1791-1860), 5th Duke of Richmond.
[23 ]Held in July, these races date from 1802.
[24 ]John Pitman (fl. 1820-32), Panorama of Constantinople and Its Environs from Scutari (London: Leigh, 1831).
[25 ]Richard Godin Simeon (1784-1854), M.P. for the Isle of Wight 1832-37.
[26 ]John Albin, A Companion to the Isle of Wight, 12th ed. (London: Albin, 1831), p. 52. (Mill identifies this guidebook below.)
[27 ]Not to Cole’s advantage, who reports: “Of the Road from Ride to Newport I am scarcely able to speak, partly in consequence of being poked inside the Coach, partly from an indisposition to examine on account of ill health and partly from being asleep.”
[28 ]Now Bembridge Harbour.
[29 ]William Johnson Fox (1786-1864), “Sandown Bay,” Monthly Repository, VI (Apr. 1832), 271-80. It is hard to believe that Mill was not certain about the authorship, for he had been increasingly close to Fox, through whom he met Harriet Taylor, for two years. Fox was the editor of the Monthly Repository, for which Mill began to write a few months later.
[30 ]That is, listed with those disfranchised by the Reform Act, 2 & 3 William IV, c. 45.
[31 ]John Heywood Hawkins (1802-77), who had been M.P. for St. Michael 1830-31 and for Tavistock 1831-32, was elected and sat for Newport until 1841. James Willoughby Gordon (1773-1851), who had served in the army with distinction, was defeated.
[32 ]Robert Torrens (1780-1864), the political economist and journal proprietor who had published Mill’s first two letters to the newspapers in 1822, M.P. for Ashburton 1831-32, was elected for Bolton, which he represented until 1835. William Henry Ord (1803-38) was elected with Hawkins, and sat for Newport until 1837.
[33 ]Simeon was reported as strongly supporting the Reform Bill (The Times, 3 Oct., 1831, p. 5), and so by inference the Whig leaders such as Lord John Russell and Charles Grey.
[34 ]Alexander Glynn-Campbell (1796-1836), who had been M.P. for Fowey 1819-20, and was defeated by Simeon in the election.
[35 ]Cole says: “Our Landlord was a Radical politician, taking his creed from the Examiner Newspaper—and from him we obtained a complete list of the Electioneering pamphlets and Correspondence.”
[36 ]Thomas Orde, later Orde-Powlett (1746-1807), Baron Bolton, had been Governor until his death; he was succeeded by James Harris, Earl of Malmesbury.
[37 ]This cottage, which Mill visited during his next walking tour, was obviously already known to him; Charles Buller (1774-1848), who had been M.P. for West Looe 1812-16 and 1826-30, was the father of Mill’s friend Charles Buller (1806-48), who succeeded his father at West Looe in 1830, and was elected for Liskeard in 1832.
[38 ]See No. 31, entry for 3rd August, 1831.
[39 ]Cf. “The Shepherd Turned Merchant,” in Roger L’Estrange (1616-1704), Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists (London: Sare, et al., 1692), pp. 93-4, where the final comment of the merchant, who had lost a cargo of figs, is more extravagant: “Yes, yes, says he, When the Devil’s Blind. You’d ha’ some more Figs, with a Vengeance, Wou’d ye?”
[40 ]Albin, Companion, p. 13.
[41 ]See No. 31, entry for 25th July.
[42 ]I.e., W.J. Fox, “Sandown Bay.”
[43 ]Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in Sibylline Leaves (London: Rest Fenner, 1817), p. 17n (where the acknowledgment to Wordsworth is given).
[44 ]The first manuscript notebook ends here.
[45 ]Cf. No. 31, conclusion of the entry for 14th July.
[46 ]I.e., the Salutation Inn, Ambleside, where Mill had stayed during his tour of the Lakes from 13th to 17th July and 3rd to 8th August, 1831. See the relevant entries in No. 31.
[47 ]Albin, Companion, pp. 72-3.
[48 ]Here Cole was reminded of “the mountain side walks near Ulleswater,” where he had been with Mill in the previous year.
[49 ]In Cole’s view, they dined “very moderately in respect of treatment, very dearly in respect of cost.”
[50 ]Charles Anderson-Pelham (1781-1846), Earl of Yarborough.
[51 ]Albin, Companion, p. 66.
[52 ]Probably that reported in The Times on 9 Nov., 1827, p. 2.
[53 ]Actually in a work after 1823 sold and sometimes bound with Albin, William Drew Snooke (1787-1857), Flora Vectiana, Being an Arrangement of the More Rare and Interesting Plants Indigenous to the Isle of Wight (London: [Albin,] 1823), p. 23.
[54 ]Snooke, p. 16.
[55 ]Cole comments: “In respect of Scenery this part of the island is very inferior to the Opposite part but my companion Mill found a great harvest for plants hereabouts and his remark was a just one, that objects of beauty were furnished by the Eastern half whilst those of curiosity were to be found here.”
[56 ]Mentioning that the cave was more than 200 ft. deep, Cole adds: “I confess that the great pleasure of going into a Cave, seems to [me], as to Mr. Peacock, to arise chiefly in coming out again Safely.” Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), the novelist, lived in and owned the house in which Cole resided, and was Mill’s superior in the Examiner’s Office of the East India Company.
[57 ]Cole comments: “the sight evidently moved our Watermen to indignation, at the punishment which their unfortunate owners would receive,—viewing as they must have done the punishment as one quite disproportioned to the offence. Thus is it that our boasted Laws alienate the people from obedience to them—Here is a needy man for the crime of defrauding the Revenue of a few Shillings, seized, from his wife and Children (who thereby become thrown upon the parish) and cast into Prison for 5 years.—This punishment is quite ineffective upon others by instilling terror or acting as a preventive and such was indicated plainly by the man who rowed us to the needles, and who by his manner, it was evident was ready for any such job, if offered to him.”
[58 ]George Brannon, in his work of engravings of the Isle of Wight, Vectis Scenery: Being a Series of Original and Select Views, new ed., corrected (Southampton: Brannon, 1825), does not have an engraving of Scratchell Bay and its cave; however, he has one of a cave in Freshwater Bay, which is contiguous to Scratchell Bay, with a “rugged arch” (p. 35). Perhaps the unlikeness reflects a mistake by Mill.
[59 ]The storm that undermined the pillar actually occurred in 1764 (sixty-eight years before Mill’s observation). In 1832, according to standard accounts, there were three Needles; however, perspectivecould suggest that one was part of the shore, and Cole, who also says there were two, notes that they were cut “into five apparent pieces and hence their number as stated in the books of the Island.”
[60 ]Snooke, p. 3.
[61 ]Henry de Beauchamp (1425-45), Duke of Warwick, was said to have been crowned King of the Isle of Wight by Henry VI in 1445.
[62 ]Cole is more vivid: “The stream up to Lymington is confined within a very narrow space in consequence of the prodigious masses of this sediment—adhesive thereto, are complete fields of sea weeds and other vile vegetable substances. It is difficult to imagine a less attractive entrance to a place than such as is here afforded to Lymington—Malaria is suggested to the imagination in its greatest malignity and as these beds of mud, are left in a state of evaporation during half the day when not overflowed by the tide—the effect of them I conjecture must be highly pernicious to the health of the Town.”
[63 ]Harry Burrard-Neale (1765-1840), who had first been elected for Lymington in 1818, was again returned in the Conservative interest in 1832.
[64 ]Thomas Hyde Villiers (1801-32), a friend of Mill’s and his associate in the London Debating Society, M.P. for Hedon 1826-30, for Wootton Bassett 1830-31, and for Bletchingley 1831-32, died during this campaign; he had voted for the Reform Bill in all its stages, and consequently had in fact helped disfranchise the “nomination” borough for which he had sat. John Stewart (1805-60), a Conservative, though a free trader, was elected, and sat for Lymington until 1847.
[65 ]The account by Herodotus (traditionally 484-420 ) is in Herodotus (Greek and English), trans. A.D. Godley, 4 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1921), Vol. III, pp. 334 and 356-8 (VII, 21 and 43).
[66 ]William Gilpin (1724-1804), Remarks on Forest Scenery, and Other Woodland Views, (Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty) Illustrated by the Scenes of New-Forest in Hampshire, 2 vols. (London: Blamire, 1791), Vol. II, pp. 250-5.
[67 ]Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, iii, 23; in the Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1336.
[68 ]Gilpin, p. 153.
[69 ]Ibid., pp. 134-5 (Souley Pond).
[70 ]Henry James Montagu-Scott (1776-1845), Baron Montagu of Boughton.
[71 ]Cole’s version is less reticent: “The clear transparency of the water, together with its smoothness enticed us, into a boat, which in our wisdom, or rather I in my wisdom for J.M. tacitly assented thereto, supposed we could easily navigate. The stream was just beginning to flow down and we proceeded glibly enough—and much further than I deemed right, but my companion who seemed to have no just notions of the probable difficulty of our return continued expressing his desire to descend lower. From our boat we certainly obtained many points of view which somewhat repaid us for our trouble and it is a matter incumbent on all who wish to estimate the beauties of Beaulieu to get into a boat for that purpose, but it must be recollected that a waterman should form one of the party. We in our boat floated down, nearly within view of Buckler’s Hard before we deemed it meet to return and then we essayed our ascent up the stream. Difficult indeed was our task and slow, most slow was our progress. Mill was but a tyro in rowing and in addition to the inequality with which he applied his force he so frequently just but skimmed the surface of the water, whereby the pulling on my part, shoved the boat first on one side then on the other of the River. The Man of whom we had engaged the boat inferring from our absence that nothing less than a casting-away, upon a mud bank could have been our fate, came down in a small boat and found us tugging away with great vigour in the very midst of the current making way perhaps at a rate sufficient to have enabled us to reach Beaulieu in about three hours, if the water had continued sufficiently deep but this would not have been the case. We were extracted from our difficulty by engaging the Man to row us back, which he did as far as the state of the tide would allow, and then having landed us we walked back to the place of starting. . . . We returned home to Lymington by the high road . . . well animated with our water adventure.”
[72 ]For Gilpin’s disparaging comments on the tameness of the view of the Isle of Wight from the New Forest, see, e.g., Remarks, Vol. II, pp. 78, 89, 131, 158-9, and 185.
[73 ]By 23 George III, c. 66 (1783), vehicles for human beings (and therefore with springs) were taxed, while agricultural carts were not. Mill is also playing with words, as two-wheeled carts were known as “tax” or “taxed” carts. Cole refers to it as “an untaxed, unspringing cart.”
[74 ]Not otherwise identified; Cole, who calls him a greengrocer, says he was modestly proud of “his newly acquired rights as an elector.”
[75 ]George Henry Rose (1771-1855), Lord of the Manor of Christchurch, who had been M.P. for Southampton and Christchurch, and sat again for the latter 1837-44.
[76 ]George William Tapps-Gervis (1795-1842), who had been M.P. for New Romney and was elected for Christchurch in 1832, was the son of George Ivison Tapps (1753-1835).
[77 ]George Pitt Rose (1797-1851) had been the second member for Christchurch 1826-32.
[78 ]The statutes controlling the import of grain included 55 George III, c. 26 (1815), 3 George IV, c. 60 (1822), 7 & 8 George IV, c. 57 (1827), and the most recent one, 9 George IV, c. 60 (1828).
[79 ]Cobbett propagated widely his Tory Radical views through Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register, which with slightly different titles ran from 1803 to 1835. The other works referred to include Cobbett’s Sermons on 1. Hypocrisy and Cruelty. 2. Drunkenness. 3. Bribery. 4. Oppression. 5. Unjust Judges. 6. The Sluggard. 7. Murder. 8. Gaming. 9. Public Robbery. 10. The Unnatural Mother. 11. Forbidding Marriage. 12. Parsons and Tithes (London: Clement, 1822); and, on agriculture, Cottage Economy (London: Clement, 1822), and A Treatise on Cobbett’s Corn (London: Cobbett, 1828).
[80 ]James Macdonald (1784-1832), M.P. for Hampshire 1831-32, had just been appointed Governor of the Ionian Islands but had died in June; he was succeeded in the seat by Thomas Baring (1772-1848), head of the great financial firm of Baring, who had been M.P. for Wycombe 1806-32.
[81 ]“Captain Swing” was the name used to personify the rick-burning and other current disturbances in the agricultural areas mostly of the south.
[82 ]Charles Stuart (1779-1845), Baron Stuart de Rothesay.
[83 ]Sophia Dawes (1790-1840), baronne de Feuchères, daughter of an Isle of Wight fisherman, who had had an astonishing career in France, had just bought a Hampshire property, having moved back to England after her failure in attempts to secure an inheritance from the estate of Louis Henri Joseph, duc de Bourbon (1756-1830), whose mistress she had been, and who, apparently distraught at his inability to escape her, had committed suicide. Mill had commented on the affair several times in the Examiner, beginning on 18 December, 1831 (see CW, Vol. XXII, p. 372).
[84 ]Mill is perhaps alluding to Cole, who gives a full description in his account of 1st August.
[85 ]“Resolution and Independence,” in Poetical Works, Vol. II, p. 128.
[86 ]Remarks, e.g., Vol. I, p. 44, and Vol. II, p. 74.
[87 ]See No. 31, entry for 10th July, 1831.
[88 ]Thomas Chamberlayne (1805-76), whose estate included Netley Abbey.
[89 ]This romance, which derives from a French chanson de geste, Beuve d’Homstone, probably is ultimately based on a legend originating with the Danish invaders of Britain.
[90 ]Mill would seem to be referring not to The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 7 pts. (New York: n.p., 1819-20), but to such scenes as that in “The Stout Gentleman: A Tale of Mystery,” in Bracebridge Hall; or, The Humourists, 2 vols. (New York: Van Winkle, 1822), Vol. I, pp. 124-44, also by Washington Irving (1782-1859).