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By this simple expedient it would soon appear that there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a solstice: for, from the shortest day, the owner would, every clear evening, see the disc advancing, at its setting, to the westward of the object; and, from the longest day, observe the sun retiring backwards every evening at its setting towards the object westward, till, in a few nights, it would set quite behind it, and so by degrees to the west of it: for when the sun comes near the summer solstice, the whole disc of it would at first set behind the object. After a time, the northern limb would first appear, and so every night gradually more, till at length the whole diameter would set northward of it for about three nights; but on the middle night of the three, sensibly more remote than the former or following. When beginning its recess from the summer tropic, it would continue more and more to be hidden every night, till at length it would descend quite behind the object again ; and 80 nightly more and more to the westward.
TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.
HEN I was a boy, I used to read, with
astonishment and implicit assent, accounts in Baker's Chronicle of walking hills and travelling mountains. John Philips, in his
“ Cider," alludes to the credit that was given to such stories with a delicate but quaint vein of humour peculiar to the author of the “ Splendid Shilling.”
" I vor advise, nor reprehend, the choice
This mount may journey, and, his present site
But, when I came to consider better, I began to suspect that though our hills may never have journeyed far, yet that the ends of many of them have slipped and fallen away at distant periods, leaving the cliffs bare and abrupt. This seems to have been the case with Nore and Whetham Hills, and especially with the ridge between Harteley Park and Word-le-ham, where the ground has slid into vast swellings and furrows, and lies still in such romantic confusion as cannot be accounted for from any other cause.
A strange event, that happened not long since, justifies our suspicions, which, though it befell not within the limits of this parish, yet, as it was within the hundred of Selborne, and as the circumstances were singular, may fairly claim a place in a work of this nature.
The months of January and February, in the year 1774, were remarkable for great melting snows and vast gluts of rain; so that, by the end of the latter month, the landsprings, or lavants, began to prevail, and to be near as high as in the memorable winter of 1764. The beginning of March also went on in the same tenor, when, in the night between the 8th and 9th of that month, a considerable part of the great woody hanger at Hawkley was torn from its place, and fell down, leaving a high free-stone cliff naked and bare, and resembling the steep side of a chalk-pit. It appears that this huge fragment, being perhaps sapped and undermined by waters, foundered, and was ingulfed, going down in a perpendicular direction; for a gate which stood in the field, on the top of the hill, after sinking with its posts for thirty or forty feet, remained in so true and upright a position as to open and shut with great exactness, just as in its first situation. Several oaks also are still standing, and in a state of vegetation, after taking the same desperate leap. That great part of this prodigious mass was absorbed in some gulf below is plain also from the inclining ground at the bottom of the hill, which is free and
unencumbered, but would have been buried in heaps of rubbish, had the fragment parted and fallen forward."
About a hundred yards from the foot of this hanging coppice stood a cottage by the side of a lane ; and two hundred yards lower, on the other side of the lane, was a farm-house, in which lived a labourer and his family; and just by, a stout new barn. The cottage was inhabited by an old woman and her son, and his wife. These people, in the evening, which was very dark and tempestuous, observed that the brick floors of their kitchens began to heave and part, and that the walls seemed to open, and the roofs to crack; but they all agreed that no tremor of the ground, indicating an earthquake, was ever felt, only that the wind continued to make a most tremendous roaring in the woods and hangers. The miserable inhabitants, not daring to go to bed, remained in the utmost solicitude and confusion, expecting every moment to be buried under the ruins of their shattered edifices. When daylight came they were at leisure to contemplate the devastations of the night. They then
1 In a note to this passage Mr. Bennett expresses the opinion that it is not necessary to assume the existence of a gulf into which the mass was absorbed. The geological relations of the strata, he says, point to a much easier, as well as a more correct, explanation of the occurrence. Here, as elsewhere throughout the district, the malm rock or freestone of the upper greensand formation rests upon the gault or blue clay: a rock upon a yielding base. An adequate weight, placed upon so unfirm a soil as the lower of these formations, must of necessity sink into it. So prodigious a mass as that which, on the occasion described in the text, was separated from its adhesion to its native rock, and left to be supported by the soft clay alone, was more than its pulpy nature could support, and it gave way accordingly; receiving into its yielding substance, and burying almost entirely beneath its surface the detached face of the cliff, which subsided into it so easily and so perpendicularly as not to disturb the adjustment of a gate upon the sunken mass, once on the top, and now at the foot of the escarpment.
In other situations, and particularly on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, slips similar to that of Hawkley have taken place, and from the same cause: either the separation of a portion of the freestone rock of the upper greensand formation and its subsidence into the gault; or the loosening of the gault, and the subsequent separation and subsidence of a portion of the freestone, which could no longer be supported when its natural foundation bad thus given way.—En.
found that a deep rift or chasm had opened under their houses, and torn them, as it were, in two; and that one end of the barn had suffered in a similar manner; that a pond near the cottage had undergone a strange reverse, becoming deep at the shallow end, and so vice versa; that many large oaks were removed out of their perpendicular, some thrown down, and some fallen into the heads of neighbouring trees; and that a gate was thrust forward, with its hedge, full six
feet, so as to require a new track to be made to it. From the foot of the cliff, the general course of the ground, which is pasture, inclines in a moderate descent for half a mile, and is interspersed with some hillocks, which were rifted in every direction, as well towards the great woody hanger as from it. In the first pasture the deep clefts began; and running across the lane, and under the buildings, made such vast shelves that the road was impassable for some time; and so over to an arable field on the other side, which was strangely torn and disordered. The second pasture field, being more soft and springy, was protruded forward without many fissures in the turf, which was raised in long ridges resembling graves, lying at right angles to the motion. At the bottom of this enclosure, the soil and turf rose many feet against the bodies of some oaks that obstructed their farther course, and terminated this awful commotion.
The perpendicular height of the precipice, in general, is twenty-three yards : the length of the lapse, or slip, as seen from the fields below, one hundred and eighty-one; and a partial fall, concealed in the coppice, extends seventy yards more; so that the total length of this fragment that fell was two hundred and fifty-one yards. About fifty acres of land suffered from this violent convulsion : two houses were entirely destroyed ; one end of a new barn was left in ruins, the walls being cracked through the very stones that composed them; a hanging coppice was changed to a naked rock; and some grass grounds and an arable field so broken and rifted by the chasms as to be rendered, for a time, neither fit for the plough nor safe for pasturage, till considerable labour and expense had been bestowed in levelling the surface and filling in the gaping fissures.
TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.
HERE is a steep abrupt pasture field interspersed with furze close to the back of this village, well known by the name of the Short Lithe, consisting of a rocky dry soil, and
inclining to the afternoon sun. abounds with the Gryllus campestris, or field cricket, which, though frequent in these parts, is by no means a common insect in many other counties.