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Below Lechlade, the Lech stream adds its tribute to the parent river, which now separates the counties of Oxford and Gloucester, at Radcot Bridge, famous for the battle between the discontented barons headed by the earl of Derby (afterwards Henry IV.) and Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland, favourite of Richard II. and his adherents, in which the latter was defeated. The Thames then continues its course to Farringdon at a small distance from which it receives the Windrush; then taking a northern direction, it flows the grounds of Stanton Harcourt, receiving into its channel the united streams of Evenlode and Glym.
In solemn progress, it soon leaves the unhallowed domains of Godstow nunnery, preparative to its approach to the seat of the muses, Oxford; here the fictitious Isis usurps her undue preference of classic honour to the real Thames, which, notwithstanding, receives her into company, jointly with the Cherwell. The Oxford canal, also, after a communication of eighty-two miles with Coventry, at which place another canal is joined, forms an important connexion with the Thames, near this place, and brings with it the pro. ductions of the Warwickshire collieries.
Keeping a direct southern course, the river flows on to Nuneham Courtney, the elegant seat of the earl of Har. court; and making a bend to the west, proceeds to the town of Abingdon ; where the tributary waters of the Ock introduce the Thames to the county of Bucks. The Tame or Thame, obscurely mingles with the river, which re-visits Oxfordshire at the village of Dorchester. ihe navigation westward would be entirely stopped, when the springs are low, were it not for a number of locks. But these are attended with considerable expence; for a barge from Lechlade to London pays for passing through them, 131.158. 6d. and from Oxford to London, 121. 85. This charge, however, is in summer only, when the water is low; and there is no lock from London Bridge to Boulter's Lock; that is, for fiftyone iniles and a half above bridge. The plan of new cuts has been adopted in some places, to shorten and facilitate the navigation. There is one near Lechlade, which runs nearly parallel to the old river, and contiguous to St. John's Bridge; and there is another, a mile from Abingdon, which has rendered the old stream toward Culham Bridge useless,
The next place of consequence which receives advantage from this admirable river, is the borough of Wallingford, the Calleva of the Romans. It is here crossed by a stone bridge of nineteen arches, and thence proceeds to Caver. sham, in full view of Reading, the Kennet incircling the current by its copious waters.
A few miles further, the Loddon, Pope's Lodona, which rises near Basingstoke, joins its stream. Henley is the next object of consequence for its malt and corn trade; and here a handsome stone bridge ornaments the picture. A beautifully meandring course brings the Thames to Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire, which supplies the metropolis with a share of its provision. Here also the Wick, mixes with the current, which passing beneath the lofty wooded banks of Cliefden, proceeds to Maidenhead Bridge, an elegant structure of Portland stone, of seven principal and six smaller arches, leading to the respectable market town whence it takes it name.
Peculiarly the favourite of Royalty, of the Muses, and of Commerce, the Thames majestically pursues its way to the venerable turrets of Windsor; the illustrious residence of monarchy, of the virtues, of benevolence, and of unsullied chivalry.
Its valuable philosophical neighbour Eton, uniting the religious with a scholastic institution, Datchet Mead, celebrated by Shakespere, Denham's Cooper's Hill, the green level of Runnymead, remembered in the annals of liberty, all ornament these animated shores.
The Coln unites its waters with the Thames, near Staines, where a bridge crosses the river. Chertsey, the residence of rich Benedictines, and afterwards of Cowley, has an elegant stone bridge, whence the Thames pursues its course to Weybridge in Sarrey, and receives the Wey, which is here increased by the canal from Basingstoke. Hampton Court, the residence of the haughty Wolsey, and the neglected mansion of royalty, with the town of Kingston, in Surrey, form a communication by means of a wooden bridge of great antiquity; here the Hag's-Mill river empties itself from the neighbourhood of Epsom. I 2
The Thames now hastens to those luxurious scenes where the vicinity of the metropolis is perpetually indicated by the creations of art and opulence. The artificial Gothic villa of Strawberry Hill, the residence of the late earl of Oxford; the beauties of Twickenham; the hill of Richmond, a prospect of all that can be denominated elegant and rural; the magnificent seat of Sion; the castellated palace of Kew; and all the precious treasures of the Hortus Kewensis; with the busy contrast of the mills at Brentford, form scenes that may probably be paralleled, but cannot be exceeded.
In the nearer approaches to the city, this majestic river increases in grandeur, and in various turnings assumes the appearance of the expanded lake; whilst the elegant villas, seats, and pleasure-grounds of Mortlake, Barnes, Chiswick, and Hammersmith, syccessively enliven the stream. The villages of Fulham and Putney, connected by a long wooden bridge next arrest the attention. These shores are worthy of notice'; the first for the residence of the most benign of prelates; the other for being the birth-place of Gibbon, the historian ; but more eminently for that of the great statesman the unfortunate Cromwell, earl of Essex.
At Wandsworth, the river Wandle, famous for its bleaching mills, unites its busy stream, and thus the Thames, now bordered by the repositories of trade, urges its course through Battersea Bridge and Chelsea, to the archiepiscopal palace of Lambeth, and the immediate vicinity of the commercial metropolis of Europe.
Having passed the two stately bridges at Westminster and Blackfriars, and rushed through the arches of London Bridge, the scene assumes a new and varied appearance; here tall forests of merchandize, exibiting the streamers of all na. tions, form themselves in close contact, to permit a narrow passage to the wary wherryman ; passing the Tower, a fortress, a palace, and a prison ; a line of building commences, occupied by the employments connected with shipping ; which, under the names of Wapping, Shadwell, Ratcliffe, and Limehouse on one side, with Horsleydown, Rotherbithe, and Deptford on the other, fills the mind with whatever can
be conceived, the business of navigation and mercantile pursuits. The Wapping Docks exhibit a striking feature of the progress and success of extensive traffic.
At Deptford, the formation and furniture of bulwarks of Britain, afford sensations equally impressive and interesting. Here the Ravensbourne ingulphs its stream, which now is scarcely considered an important addition to the vast current that takes it into its protection.
Greenwich presents the most magnificent single object in the whole course of the river we have been describing : the hospital, in a stile of architecture that would grace the palace for which it was at first intended; cannot be too highly adorned, when appropriated as an asylum to rest the aged limbs of the brave defenders of their country.
The Isle of Dogs, the West India warehouses, and Blackwall, next arrest notice. The West India warehouses exhibit a proof of opulence and perseverance; and is one of the greatest works distinguishable of prosperity and unity. Here the Lea, after contributing to the riches of the counties through which it passes, empties its stream, and conveying its various commodities to London, makes the article of coals, &c. an appropriate and useful article in return.
The next interesting object is Woolwich and its dockyard, warren, and barracks, over-hung by the variety and grandeur of Shooter's Hill. Below this place, on the Essex shore, Barking and Dagenham Creeks enter the river, which is here widened to a considerable channel.
The woody heights of Erith, and the vast magazine of powder at Purfleet, constructed with admirable strength and contrivance, assume a romantic contrast. Hence, through the South Hope, the chalk cliffs of Greenhithe, and North fleet afford a singular object of admiration : opposite Purfleet the Darent enters the Thames.
Gravesend, a corporate town, is worthy of notice in the Thames navigation, as the first port from the entrance of the river, and where all outward-bound ships take in their
provisions for long voyages. The opposite fort of Tilbury, is the chief defence of the river Thames, which here is about a mile in breadth.
Below Gravesend, the Hope forms an extensive channel, taking in Mucking Creek, till it comes to Leigh, where a large stone marks the city boundary of conservation of the river. Still keeping along the Essex coast, the fashionable watering place of South End presents itself, whence is a noble prospect of the entrances of the Thames and Medway. Shoebury Ness soon appears in view, as a north termination of the mouth of the river.
The Kentish coast, forms the southern limb of this rich stream; and after receding, so as to give a sudden expansion to the channel, terminates at the Isle of Grain, which lying between the Thames and Medway, cut off from the main land by a narrow creek, joins the two rivers, at the distance of six miles from Shoebury Ness.
Thus, after connecting the metropolis with every central part of the British nation, and with the remotest regions of the globe; at the same time that it bestows beauty and fertility on the widely extended vale through which it takes its winding course; the Thames at this place majestically min. gles with the ocean, receiving from, and dispensing to, all the world, the beneficial confluence of commercial intercourse.
Respecting the jurisdiction and the police of this river, we shall reserve our observations for a future period, when our topographical researches will bring us to the Thames Police Office at Shadwell, and only state the privileges of the corporation, as yet uninvaded ; which are
“ To regulate the fisheries in the Thames and Medway, and to make bye-laws.
" To preserve the river from injurious encroachments.
“ To cleanse the river, and to preserve its depth by the removal of mud and filth.
« To prevent and remove nuisances and obstructions of every kind.
“ To repair banks and breaches in the river.