Slike strani

honourable birth, their power would be nugatory, their infignia ridiculous. Luxury, that bane to national profperity, by caufing the extinction of old families, incurably vitiates, to a certain degree, the conftitution of the house of lords. A new-created peer will never be refpected as much as one who derives his honours from a long line of ancestors. This evil would not, however, be very confiderable, if the vacancies were fupplied as they ought to be; but of late years, inftead of felecting those commoners who are moft diftinguifhed by their family and fortune, peerages have been lavished on profeffional men, often of the most obfcure birth, and who fometimes have not even attained an independence, but are compelled ftill to follow their profeffions, or truft to places and penfions for a maintenance. This practice partly arifes from the indolence and effeminate frivolity of those who are born to opulence, and who defert the fervice of the public, or at leaft confider it as fubordinate to their pleafures and amufements; they therefore not only have no claims to any recompence from government, but, from the degradation of their perfonal character, are of little importance in the eye of the minifier. It proceeds. however, ftill more from the neceffity the minifter lies under, of attaching to himfelf as many men of profeffional eminence as poffible, who, knowing their own importance, make their own terms; and alfo of fecuring a devoted majority in the upper as well as in the lower house.

It behoves all parties at prefent to recollect themfelves. Power, such as is vefted in an English

peer, can fafely be entrusted on to one who is altogether independent of the fmiles of the prince, or the minifter, as to his fortune; and if the house of lords is, as it always has been efteemed, the firmeft fupport to royalty, and a neceffary refuge to the conftitution against the ficklenefs and violence of the people, it is the intereft both of the people and of the crown to unite, as formerly, political power and honorary fplendour to hereditary opulence and perfonal authority. Whatever may be his abilities and merits, however fplendid his fervices, a new man, (novus homo,) particularly if he has his fortune to make, is not competent to fulfil all that is required of a peer.'

Then, criticifing the famous paf fage in Goldsmith,

"Princes and peers may flourish or may fade,

A breath can make them, as a breath has made;

But a bold peafantry, their coun try's pride,

When once destroy'd, can never be fupplied:"

he fays-The fentiment is falfe, for it would be ftill more difficult to re-establish a peerage than a peafantry; and he is certainly right, if it be true that hereditary nobles are useful inasmuch as they are venerated by the public, and that antiquity of defcent is one of the caufes, if not the principal one, of the veneration in which they are held by the people. He then proceeds to fhew that, notwithstanding the many additions made to the lift of peers, the power of the ariftocracy is rather on the wane, and


that the influence of the democracy has long been gaining ground in our conftitution. He infifts that the monarchy, deprived as it is of the legal power neceffary to its defence, cannot maintain itself without influence but at the fame time he admits that a government of influence is baneful in its nature; and that the resources of no ftate whatever can for a continuance fupport it: he is therefore an advocate for a reform, though, as we have already faid, on principles different from any yet recommended to the public.

Unless (fays he a radical amelioration of legiflative policy takes place, anarchy will triumph, or defpotifm will crush every remnant of liberty. This horrid alternative can be prevented only by active and ftrenuous exertions of the advocates for order and rational freedom. Whoever values his property and his honours, muft owe their prefervation to himself: he can no longer enjoy them in indolence under the protection of laws, or a conftitution, for which the contending parties feel no reverence, which the one endeavours to destroy, and the other to abuse.' A great bleffing attending our government, he obferves, is, that we need not diforganize in order to regenerate, and that a complete reformation may be obtained by adhering to the fpirit, without departing from the forms, of our prefent conftitution:-but, in order to proceed with effect, he thinks the legislature ought to begin in time. To thofe who have property, and to those who have hitherto poffeffed a kind of monopoly of places, he gives very wholefome advice in the following words:

The rich would do well to imitate the fabled policy of the beaver, who is faid to bite off the part for VOL. XXXVIII.

[ocr errors]

which the hunters purfue him, and fubmits to be maimed in order to fave his life. The upper rank cannot long retain an exclufive right to the lucrative offices of the ftate. The greedy multitude will at firft infift on having a fhare; they will then take the whole, and the pri vate poffeffions of the rich will foon follow. Before it is too late, all falaries and profits arifing from offices of ftate fhould be infinitely reduced, and neither the populace nor their leaders will then be very keen in the pursuit of barren honour and unprofitable labour.'

After the laft chapter, are given 101 pages of notes, illuftrating various propofitions laid down in the body of the work; to which is fubjoined an Appendix of 31 pages, containing many very judicious obfervations on agriculture, inclofures, &c.

Such is the outline of a work, which, we are convinced, cannot be read without benefit by any clafs or defcription of thinking men. It contains undoubtedly much that will be condemned, or at leaft difputed, by many, on the subjects of the army, militia, religion, gara rifons, royal prerogative, commerce, and reform: but the parts which may be condemned by fome, will be infinitely overbalanced by those that must be praised by all.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Leicester in 1220, a rotula of the churches of Leicestershire in 1344, and other tables relating to ecclefiaftical matters, come next. These are followed by a variety of papers, containing taxations, lifts of freeholders, knight's fees, tenants in capite, &c. &c. Mr. Leman's treatife on the Roman roads and ftations in Leicestershire, with additional obfervations by the bishop of Cork, and remarks on Roman roads by other writers, together with a learned effay on a Roman milliary found near Leicester, by the Rev. George Athby, form the fucceeding fet of papers. The rivers and navigations of Leicefterfhire are the fubject of the next article, chiefly confifting of copies of the acts obtained for the purposes of navigation, mofily of very late date. Dr. Pulteney then contributes a catalogue of rarer plants found in the neighbourhood of Leicester, Loughborough, and in Charley foreft, drawn up with the judgment and accuracy that might be expected from fo able a botanist. The returns made to parliament of charitable donations within the county fill a large number of succeeding pages. All the remainder of the volume is compofed of the hiftory and antiquities of the town of Leicefter, with a feries of its bishops, of the kings, dukes, and earls of Mercia, and their fucceffors, earls of Leicester. A great portion of this trenches deeply on the general history of England, in which the Montfort family, with others who bore the Leicester title, made fo confpicuous a figure. The writer (an anonymous friend of Mr. Nichols) has also contrived to bring in the whole ftory of Thomas à Becket, who fcems to

The introductory volume begins with an account of Leicester hire extracted from Domesday book, with a tranflation. It is fucceeded by a curious and valuable differtation on Domefday book, clofed by a tabulary defcription of Leicefterhire as it was in the time of William the conqueror. Then follows an effay on the Mint at Leicetterfhire, with views of coins. The names and arms of knights of the county of Leicester who served under Edward I. are next given, with other lifts of perfons who bore honours, &c. A copy of the Tefta de Neville, as far as it relates to this county, a matriculus of the churches of the archdeaconry of


be a favourite character with this memorialift, who certainly difplays an intimate acquaintance with many nice hiftorical points; though few, we imagine, will follow him through all his narrations and difquifitions, which are however little enlivened by the beauties of compofition. An appendix of charters, deeds, and other legal papers, concludes this firft part of the introductory volume.

The first part of the second volume, containing an account of Framland Hundred, is a specimen of what is to conflitute the proper matter of the work. Every townfhip in the hundred is feparately treated in an alphabetical order. The author's general method is to give the name, fituation, and contents of the diftri&t; then to trace all the owners of the manor and the landed property of the place, from the earlieft records, down to the present time: with this are introduced genealogies of all the principal families, as well as anecdotes, biographical and literary, of all extraordinary perfons connected, by birth or otherwife, with the township. Ecclefiaftical matter comes next, fuch as,notices of all religious and charitable foundations, account of the churchliving, its nature and value, patrons, and incumbents; monumental infcriptions, extracts from the parish register, population, and bills of mortality at different periods, &c. Very few details of natural history or economical matter are to be found; and, indeed, little occurs for the amusement of a common reader, except the biographical relations, fome of which are curious. The prefent volume, comprifing Belvoir caftle and Sta

pleford, has a minute account of the noble families of Rutland and Harborough, the latter of which is peculiarly rich in genealogical illuftrations, decorated with many fine engravings. Other diftinguished families, and not a few men of letters and divines of note, are recorded in the courfe of the work. We fhall present our reader with the tranfcript of one article, as a neat model of topographical defcription, unattended with antiquities. It is an account of the natural hiftory of the parish of Little Dalby, communicated by profeffor Martyn.

This lordship is remarkably hil ly, being thrown about in small fwellings in fuch a manner, that in the greater part of it, it is difficult to find a piece of flat ground. The largeft portion of it is an ancient enclosure; and none of the inhabitants know when it took place. I thought at first to have discovered the date of it from the age of the trees in the hedge rows; but none of them which I have had an opportunity of examining are more than about 120 years old; but if the enclosure went no further back than this, we should have learnt the date of it from tradition. I then searched the parish register, to find whether any depopulation had taken place fince the time of Elizabeth; but could find none, and therefore concluded that the enclosure was at leaft as early as her reign. That there has been a depopulation I conclude, not only from the natural confequence of enclofing, but from the foundations of buildings which are difcovered in the clofes near the church.

[ocr errors][merged small]

except here and there a fmall piece which the landlords permit the tenants to break up occafionally, when it becomes very moffy; but then this is laid down again ufually at the end of three or four years. There are no woods; but there are fome fmall plantations of oak, afh, and elm of no very long date. There is abundance of afh in the hedge rows, and scarcely any other tree. The foil is a ftrong clay; there is no wafte ground in the lordhip; but it is not cultivated, in my opinion, to the beft advantage. They depend chiefly on their dairies; they breed, however, very fine theep, famous for the whitenefs of their fleeces, which weigh from feven to nine pounds: they breed alfo fine horned cattle; but the lordship, in general, is not good feeding ground.

rich, because they mix among the new milk as much cream as it will bear. It requires much care and attendance; and, being in great request, it fetches 10d. a pound on the fpot, and Is. in the London market.

[ocr errors]

There is no ftone, gravel, or fand, in this lordship, except a listle fand ftone on the fide of Burrow-hills: it is moftly a strong blue clay; and in fome parts of it is a good brick earth. There is only one fpring, and that a chalybeate; it lies high, in a close belonging to the vicar, known by the name of the fpring clofe; it runs over a great part of the year, and difcharges itself into the valley, where the village lies. Nobody ever attempted to fink for a well in this parish, till, in the winter of 1777 and 1778, Edward Wigley Hartop, Efq. dug and fucceeded. He penetrated through a bed of stiff blue clay; and at the depth of 66 feet the water gushed in, when, I apprehend, the workmen were coming to the limeftone rock, by their having thrown out fome fragments of blue ftone. To the depth of 10 feet were frequent nodules of chalk; at that depth the clay was full of fmall felenites. At 30 feet deep the clay was found to be full of pectens, and other fhells very perfect, but extremely tender. Nodules of ludus helmontii were interfperfed; ammonites of different fpecies in great quantities, gryphites, and other fhells; and plates of a clear foliaceous mica, refembling Mufcovy glass. I am informed that the water did not prove good, and that little or no use is made of this well.

This lordship is remarkable for having firft made the best cheese perhaps in the world, commonly known by the name of Stilton cheese, from its having been originally bought up, and made known, by Cooper Thornhill, the landlord of the Bell inn at Stilton. It began to be made here by Mrs. Orton, about the year 1730, in fmall quantities; for at first it was fuppofed that it could only be made from the milk of the cows which fed in one clofe, now called Orton's clofe; but this was afterwards found to be an error. In 1756 it was made only by three perfons, and that in fmall quantities; but it is now made, not only from one, but from almost every clofe in this parish, and in many of the neighbouring ones. It is well known that this fort of cheese is made in the thape, and of the fize, of a 'I have not found any natural collar of brawn. It is extremely productions, either animal, vege


« PrejšnjaNaprej »