Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

a long life of activity, occasionally overcast by the political disturbances of the times, this good prelate expired, in 1404, in the eightieth year of his age, and was interred in his own Cathedral. Bishop Lowth, in summing up his character, observes, “ Though he had no great share of learning, he was a great promoter of it; his natural genius was much beyond his acquired parts, and his skill in politics beyond his ecclesiastical knowledge.”

[ocr errors]

ISLE OF WIGHT. This Island, although politically included in Hampshire, is separated from what may be called the continental part of that county by a channel, varying in breadth from two to seven miles, and called the Solent. It has been conjectured that the Isle was anciently joined to the mainland, but gradually separated by the violence of the waves. In favour of this opinion Mr. Whitaker, (in his erudite History of Manchester), remarks that its name is evidently derived from the British Guith, or Guict, signifying the divorced, or separated." The form of the Island, is an irregular lozenge; from east to west it measures about twenty-three miles, and from north to south about thirteen. Its superficial contents are about 105,000 acres, of which 75,000 are arable, and 20,000 in pasturage. Through the centre, in the longest direction, a range of lofty eminences extends, affording excellent pasture, and commanding beautiful views. The surface of the Island is much diversified; bold hills, intersected by rich and highlycultivated valleys, swelling promontories, and sequestered glens, give animation and interest to the prospects in every direction. Around the coast, the land is in some parts very high, especially on the back, or south side: here the cliffs are steep, and vast masses of rocks, undermined by the waves, lie scattered along the shore, and impart a grandeur and wildness to the prospect, which renders the sylvan beauties of the interior more agreeable.

These Cliffs, the highest of which, at St. Catherine's, rises 750 feet above the level of the sea, are, frequented by immense numbers of marine birds, as

the year.

puffins, gulls, cormorants, razor-bills,' Cornish choughs, daws, starlings, and wild pigeons, some of which come, at certain seasons, to lay their eggs, and rear their young, while others remain throughout

In the cliffs are numerous caverns and deep chasms, and in many places the springs form small cascades descending to the sea. At the western extremity of the Island are the rocks called the Needles, which name they obtained from the lofty pointed shape of one of them, which, being undermined by the waves, fell and totally disappeared about sixty years ago. Limestone iš dug here in great abundance, and is burnt for manure; a stratum of coal has been discovered, but is not worked; and veins of fuller's earth, red and yellow ochre, have also been found. Freestone, copperas stones, pipe clay and alum abound; the first is of inferior quality, but the three latter form considerable arti. cles of export, as does the fine silvery sand used in the glass and china works of London, Bristol, and Worcester, and which is chiefly procured from Alum and Freshwater Bays.

The Soil is exceedingly fertile, and the quantity of grain annually produced here is computed to amount to seven or eight times as much as is consumed by the inhabitants; the crops principally cultivated are, wheat, barley, oats, beans, and peas; potatoes, turnips, clover, trefoil, rye-grass, and vetches, are also raised here. Great numbers of sheep are fed on the heights; in some places extensive dairies are established, and good butter is made, but the cheese is indifferent. The climate is very salubrious, and its genial mildness is proved by the number of myrtles and flowering shrubs which grow in the open air, and the success which attended a vineyard at Appuldurcombe. The hills, however, by attracting the vapours, render the Island subject to frequent rains. Several chalybeate springs have been discovered; and the common water is exceedingly fine and transparent. Some woods still exist here, but the demand for ship-timber has greatly lessened the number of trees. Game is plentiful; poultry is reared it considerable quantities; and fish, of various species, are found on the coast in great abundance; of these the crabs, lobsters, prawns, and cockles are particularly celebrated for their size and flavour.

The principal Rivers are the Medina, the Yar, and the Wooton; the first of these rises on St. Catherine's Down, near the south-west extremity of the Island, and flowing in a northerly direction, falls into the sea in Cowes Harbour, after dividing the Isle into two nearly equal parts; the Yar, after a short course, unites its waters with the ocean at Yarmouth; and the Wooton, running north-west, falls into the sea near the village of the same name: beside these streams, several bays and creeks exist, especially on the northern side of the Island. Considerable trade is carried on here, particularly from the harbour of Cowes; the principal exports are wheat, barley, malt, flour, salt, and the articles previously mentioned; while the imports consist of coals, wood, iron, wine, hemp, &c. Manufactures of starch, hair-powder, and salt, have long been established here; and those of woollen cloth, sacking, and lace, have been more recently added. The Island is divided into two Hundreds, called East and West Medina from their situations with respect to that river; they contain thirty parishes; three boroughs, each of which returns two Members to Parliament; and a population of 31,616 persons.

The History of the Isle of Wight does not afford many events of importance. It is said to have been known to the Phænicians, and much learning has been expended in the attempt to prove this to have been the Ictis, in which the staple for tin was established, and from whence that valuable commodity was exported by the Carthaginian and Massylian merchants. The first Roman author by whom the Island is mentioned is Suetonius, who records its conquest (under the name of Vectis) by Vespasian, in the 430 year of the Christian era; the Ro. mans do not appear, however, to have made a permanent settlement here, as not the slightest trace of its occupation by them has ever been discovered.

Early in the sixth century, Cerdic, the founder of the kingdom of Wessex, obtained possession of the Island, and having massacred most of the British iphabitants, supplied their place by a colony of Jutes and Saxons, under the government of two of his nephews. In 661 it was again conquered by Wolfhere, King of Mercia, who bestowed it on Adelwalch, King of Sussex, from whom it was afterwards wrested by Ceadwalla, a West Saxon prince, who, full of pious fury, determined to extirpate the inhabitants as idolators, but was prevailed on by Bishop Wilfrid to spare all those who would embrace Christianity; the barbarian, however, in spite of this promise, put to death the two brothers of the King, after they had been baptized (see p. 391). In 787, the Danes first ravaged this Island, and they repeated their outrages at intervals during the three succeeding centuries. William the Conqueror gave the Island in full sovereignty to his kinsman William Fitz-Osborne, Earl of Hereford, who ejected all the Saxon proprietors, and granted their lands to his Norman retainers. This nobleman was succeeded by his son Roger, who, engaging in a copspiracy against the King, was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. William, some time afterwards, probably with the intention of ultimately restoring the son of his faithful adherent to favour, sent him his robes at Easter; the Earl, however, to show his contempt of the King's compliment, caused a fire to be made, and burned them; which being reported to the King, he swore, “ by the glory of God," that the Earl should spend the remainder of his days in prison, which he actually did, and all his possessions were confiscated.

Succeeding sovereigos granted this Island to various noblemen, by whom it was as often forfeited in the ceaseless contentions of the middle ages. During the reigns of Edward III and Richard II it was repeatedly attacked and plundered by the French, who in 1377 burnt the towns of Newtown and Yarmouth, and the village of Rye. After this period the Isle was possessed by many distinguished persons, among whom we find Humphrey, the good Duke of Gloucester; Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, who was crowned King of Wight, by patent from Henry VI, who himself placed the diadem on the Duke's head; Richard, Duke of York, father of Edward IV; and Anthony Widville, Earl Rivers, brother of that monarch's queen, and who was beheaded at Pontefract by order of Richard III.

In 1545 a body of 2000 Frenchmen landed here and

[ocr errors]

began plundering and burning the villages and towns; they were, however, attacked by the Governor of the Island, then styled “Captain," and compelled to retreat to their ships, with the loss of their General and a great number of men. In 1588, Sir George Carey* was Captain, and he deeming it necessary to take some extraordinary measures of defence against the threatened invasion by the Armada, iuterfered so much with private rights, that a statement of grievances was drawn up by the inhabitants, and presented to the Council, but without procuring any redress, as the danger was supposed to justify the obnoxious measures.

The Parliamentary party obtained possession of the Isle of Wight early in their contest with Charles I, and retained it to the conclusion of the struggle; by which circumstance it enjoyed great tranquillity, and while most other parts of the kingdom suffered from the war, land here rose 25 per cent. in value, in consequence of the numerous families who took refuge here from the storms of civil discord. The last historical event connected with this Island is the imprisonment of Charles I in Carisbrooke Castle, which will be again adverted to in describing that edifice,

NEWPORT, As the capital of the Isle of Wight, claims pre-emipence of description. It is situated near the centre of the Island, on the western bank of the Medina, which is navigable up to the Quay. This town owes its importance to its superiority of situation for commerce over Carisbrooke, which has consequently declined as Newport has risen in the scale. It appears to have received its first charter from Richard de Redvers, Lord of the Island, in the reign of Henry II; several immunities were granted by succeeding proprietors, and confirmed by Edward III, Henry VII,

* Before this period, as we are informed by a curious statement, written by Sir J. Oglander, and quoted by Sir R. Worsley in his History of the Island, “ there was no lawyer nor attorney here, but in Sir G. Carey's time, an attorney coming in to settle in the Island, was, by his command, with a pound of candles hanging at his breeche lighted, with bells aboute his leggs, hunted owte of the Island: insomuch that as our ancestors lived here quietly and secarely, being neither troubled to London por Winchester, so they seldom or never went owte of the Island; insomuch as when they went to London, thinking it an East India voyage, they always made their wills, supposing no trouble like to travaile." VOL. I.

E E

« НазадПродовжити »