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TO THE FIRST VOLUME.
IN laying before the Reader the first Volume of this Work, it is necessary to give a brief explanation of the motives which led me to undertake it, and of the manner in which I have endeavoured to execute my task.
Attached to the reading of topographical works from my childhood, I have been accustomed to assign to that class of literature a higher rank than, perhaps, it may generally be thought to merit. Yet, accompanied, as it sometimes is, and always should bę, by historical narrative, biographical memoir, and poetical description, what can be imagined at once so delightful and so instructive; so full of materials for thought, and so pregnant with useful information!
I am fully aware that several works. are already before the world, whose object is similar to my own-viz. a description of the country in which we live; nor have I the slightest disposition to deny their claims to the favour of the Public. Yet, Ι
may be permitted to observe, that these works are, generally speaking, unsuited to the great mass of readers of the present day; and while I do not presume to expect that this book will displace the voluminous
Beauties of England and Wales," from the libraries of the wealthy, I am induced to hope that it may, at one-fifteenth part of the cost, supply its place in the humbler collections of the “ useful classes.”
In the preparation of this volume, I have visited a great part of the country described; have consulted the best and most recent authors on each subject; and have been assisted by communications from many intelligent correspondents. The alphabetical arrange
ment has been adopted, from its affording greater facility of reference than any other; but, to avoid repetition, villages, mansions, or other objects, in the vicinity of cities or large towns, have been described immediately after those places,
The Historical Narratives with which each county is introduced, give a brief sketch of the most memorable events connected with them; and other important transactions are related in mentioning the places where they occurred. The Biographical Notices are necessarily contracted, but it is hoped they will be found to embody those incidents in the lives of our philosophers, poets, divines, statesmen, and warriors, which are the most characteristic and instructive.
In describing buildings and other objects, whether natural or artificial, I have studiously avoided the use of those technicalities with which almost every work on this subject is incumbered: the writers of these books appear to suppose the terms of architecture, heraldry, mineralogy, and geology, as familiar to their readers as to themselves, and accordingly fill their pages with descriptions which convey no information to the uninitiated; and as this work is principally designed for the young and the unscientific, the adoption of such phraseology here would have been especially absurd.
In conclusion it should be observed, that the Engravings afford faithful and spirited representations of the most remarkable objects described; and that it is trusted the work will be found to possess strong claims to public favour on the score of cheapness, utility, and elegance.
London, Feb. I, 1831.
A. F. KENDALL.
ENGLAND*, the southern and most considerable division of the Island of Great Britain, is bounded by Scotland on the North; the English Channel on the South; the German Ocean on the East; and by Wales, the Atlantic, and the Irish Channel on the
It is situated between 50 and 55 deg. 45 min. N. lat. and i deg. 50 min. E. and 6 deg. W. longitude; its extent from North to South being about 330 miles, and from East to West about 220, comprising a superficial area of 50,535 square miles. It is divided into 40 counties, which contain 25 cities, about 9000 parishes, and, according to the last cen. sus, 11,978,875 inhabitants.
From its situation in the northern part of the temperate zone, England enjoys but a moderate share of
genial influence of the sun; but its insular situation protects it from experiencing the severity of winter or the overpowering heat of summer in the same degree as those countries which are situated in parallel latitudes on the continent; and to the same cause is attributed that almost perpetual verdure with which the fields are clothed." The face of the country,” says Dr. Aikin, " affords all that beautiful variety which can be found in the most extensive tracts of the globe. In some parts, verdant plains extend as far as the eye can reach, watered by copious streams, and covered by innumerable cattle. Ia;others, the pleasing vicissitudes of gently rising hills and bending vales, fertile in corn, waving with wood, and interspersed with meadows, offer the most delightful landscapes of rural opulence and beauty. Some tracts abound with prospects of a more roman tic kind; lofty mountains, craggy rocks, deep narrow dells, and tumbling torrents. "Nor are there wan ting, as a contrast to so many agreeable scenes,
gloomy features of black barren moors and wild une Ultivated heaths. On the whole, however, few countries have a smaller proportion of land absolutely sterile and incapable of culture.” The northern * This Introduction is confined to England; the account of Wales will
be found in the second volume.
districts are the least fertile, while the midland and southern parts are the richest; the eastern coast is sandy and marshy, but on the western side the country is more elevated, and a ridge of high hills, sometimes elevated into mountains, extends, with few intervals, from the Scottish border to Devonshire and Cornwall; the principal of these are Skiddaw, Sca Fall, and Helvellyn in Cumberland, each of which rises more than 3000 feet above the level of the sea; Wharnside, Ingleborough, and Peppigentin Yorkshire; the Peak in Derbyshire; the Malvern and Cotswold Hills in Worcester and Gloucestershire; the Mendip Hills in Somerset; and various other ranges in Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.
The Rivers of England are numerous, but, generally speaking, their course is not of great extent, The most important are, the Thames, which rises Dear Cirencester in Gloucestershire, and after a course of about 140 miles, in which it receives a number of small streams, reaches London, and be: comes the channel by which the vast commerce of that city is carried on; the Severn has its source on Pliplimmon, in North Wales, and after a long and winding course, falls into the Bristol Chappel;, the Humber is an estuary, which divides the counties of Lincoln and York, and is formed by the confluence of numerous streams, of which the pripcipal are the Quse, the Aire, and the Trent; the Medway rises on the borders of Sussex, and, flowing through Kent, falls into the Thames in a capacious estuary at Sheerness. The other rivers will be found described under the various counties to which they belong; as will the Lakes, none of which are of great extent, although their shores generally afford scenes of surpassing beauty. Iuland navigation is established in this country on a most extensive scale, and numerous Canals have been formed, in almost every direction, in aid of the natural streams, which offer an easy and expeditious channel of conveyance for goods; while the Roads, which intersect every part of the island, afford facilities of intercourse far superior to those of any other country in the world.
The Soil of England is various, and includes clay, loam, sand, chalk, gravel, and peat. The cultivated land amounts to 25,632,000 acres; the upcultivated wastes,