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nity to the Roman causeway, all clearly demonstrate the truth of this opinion. It is very probably, therefore, of no earlier origin than the age of the emperor Septimus Severus, who, in his last expedition to Britain, gave general orders for the destruction of all the forests, in which undertaking he lost fifty-thousand men.
It was first succesfully ascertained dy Abraham de la Pryme that this part of tủe country was formerly covered by a great forest; in proof of which he adduced the infinite number of the roots of all kinds of trees standing in the soil in their natural postures, with the trunks lying by them, of which the larger ones point to the north-east ; besides the hazel-nuts, acorns, and fircones which are frequently discovered at the bottom of the peat, the latter in great quantities together. Fir-trees, he says, have been found in the moors ninety feet long, which have been sold to make masts and keels for ships. Mr. Edward Canby found one thirty-six yards in length, which he supposed had been originally fifteen yards more. He also found an pak-tree, worth twenty pounds, which was forty yards long, four yards in diameter at the greater end, and two yards at the smaller, so that it had probably been as long again. All the oaks are as black as ebony, and very durable; and it has been observed that the roots of the firs invariably stood in the sand and the oaks in the clay,*
De la Pryme further remarks, that many of the trees which are found, especially the firs, “have been burnt, some quite through and some all on a side; some have been found chopped and squared, some bored through, others half riven with great wooden wedges and stones in them, and broken axe-heads, somewhat like sacrificing-axes in shape; and all this in such places and at șuch depths, as could never have been opened from the destruction of this forest to the time of the drainage. Near a great root in the parish of Hatfield were found eight or nine coins of some of the Roman emperors, but exceedingly consumed and defaced by time." In cutting a new river or drain yere found old trees squared and cut, rails, stoops, bars, links of chains, horsc-heads, an old axe resembling a battle-axe, and two or three coins of the emperor Vespasian; “ but that,” he adds, “ which is more observable is, that the very ground at the bottom of the river was found in some places to lye in rigg and fur, manifesting thereby that it had been ploughed and tilled in former days."
From all these circumstances, he concluded that the native Britons, who swarmed in this forest, continually harrassing the Romans and intercepting their provisions on the adjoining military way, which ran from Danum to Legelocum, provoked them at length to destroy it. But previous to this event, he supposed it probable, from the remains of a camp which are yet to be seen between Finningley and Austerfield, that a great battle was fought therę, in which the Romans proved victorious, and drove the natives back into the forest for shelter.f That after this the Romans, taking advantage
• See Philosophical Trạnsactions, No. 275, p. 980; or Jones's Abridgement, iv. 212.
† This supposition is strengthened by the name of the neighbouring village ; field implying that a battle had been fought there, and Auster or Oster that it was won by the Roman general Ostorius, who we are assured by historians was in this part of Britain,
of a strong south-west wind, set fire to the forest; and when the ravages of that element had ceased, with the help of the captivc Britons, cut down the remaining trees, which, notwithstanding the burning, might be very numer
These falling across the rivers that' ran through this low country dammed them up, and by their overflowing it was converted into an extensive lake; from the working of which, the putrefaction of rotten branches, and the vast increase of water-moss, were formed those great morasses that are yet, in spite of the drainage which has made the country dry for many miles around, so rotten and turgid with water, that they will scarcely bear men to walk
them. The colour of the moor-water resembles coffee, and yet it is neither par. ticularly unpleasing to the taste nor accounted unwholesome; though, indeed, some say that it brings the ague on those who drink it. An instance of its antiseptic quality is related by Pryme; he says, “ About fifty years ago, at the bottom of a turf-pit, was found a man lying at his length with his head
his arm, as in a common posture of sleep, whose skin, being as it were tanned by the moor-water, preserved his shape intire; but within, his flesh and most of his bones were consumed and gone; an arm of whom is now in the possession of Dr. Nathaniel Johnson." Another instance is given in vol. xliv. p. 571, of Philosophical Transactions, where it is stated that in Jurie, 1747, the body of a woman was discovered near Amcotts, six feet deep in a peat-moor; the antique sandals on her feet showed that she had been buried for many ages.
Her hair and nails were as fresh as any person's living; her skin was soft, of a tawny colour, and stretched like a piece of doe-leather, and was as strong.
“In August, 1802, a statue of oak, black as ebony, about two yards high, and carved in the habit of a Roman warrior, was found buried several feet deep between Misson and Haxey; one hand held an arrow, and a bow was slung over the shoulder :-and in the year 1811, about a mile from East Ferry, in the moors, was found a canoe cut from one tree of a very large size; it was forty feet long, four feet broad, and three feet deep, tapered at each end, and formed without nail or pin; in it were found some human bones.” (Peck's Account of the Isle of Axholme, page 8.)
The drainage and improvement of Hatfield Chase commenced as early as the year 1327, when commissioners were appointed to examine and repair the banks and ditches, which had begun to decay; likewise at several other times during the reigns of Edward 111. and Richard 11.; also in the years 1413 and 1466, commissioners were constituted for the same purpose. In the reign of Charles I., A. D. 1626, the King contracted with Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, to give him and his heirs for 'ever, one third part of this Chase, on condition that he drained the whole effectually at his own expense; which he accordingly accomplished at the cost of £56,000, exclusive of repairs of banks, losses, purchase of land, &c. which probably amounted to upwards of four times that sum.
Bir Cornelius and his people encountered many and almost insurmountable difficulties during the execution of this great work. They were often seriously obstructed by the jealous inhabitants, among whom Roger Port
ington Esq. of Barmby-upon-Dun, was particularly active as a leader ; nor is this in the least surprising, when we learn that the participants' new works caused frequent inundations on the lands of the old inhabitants in Lyke-house, Fishlake, Baler, Pollington, and other adjoining places.* Their animosity against the participants continued to exist even after the drainage was completed; and in 1645, during the contentions of the King and the parliament, it burst forth into open
violence. Having previously attempted to redrown the land, the inhabitants of the Isle of Axholme tumultuously assembled, threw down the banks, and turned their cattle among the corn of the participants ; upon which the sufferers petitioned parliament for redress, and it was in consequence directed that the military should be called in to prevent further mischief; nevertheless the inhabitants, being abetted by John Lilburn and others, persisted in their riots, and openly held the parliament in defiance.
In 1650 they defaced the church, and totally demolished the town of Sandloft (founded by the foreigners), besides the produce of 3400 acres of land; all which, together with 4000 acres previously laid waste, was forcicibly withheld from the participants, during the space of six years, by the inhabitants of Epworth and their ringleaders, Lilburne, Wildeman, and Noddel; till at length Nathaniel Reading, Esq. and Major-General Whalley undertook to subdue them; and, aster thirty-one set battles, succeeded. They remained quiet for some years, contending with the participants only at law, by which the latter were finally established in their right, and let their allot. ments to tenants, A.D. 1691 ; but while the corn was yet growing, a number of men, women, and children came and destroyed the whole.
At this time Mr. Reading, having money due from the participants, accepted a lease of their lands in the manor of Epworth in lieu thereof. While cultivating this farm, he was continually assaulted by the people, who destroyed his cattle, and endeavoured to kill him: these desperadoes even fired his house at midnight, with a design to burn the whole family, but they providentially escaped. Some of the rioters, however, being indicted at Lincoln assizes, their leader, Robert Popplewell, was glad to pay six hundred pounds to Mr. Reading, in order to save them; and the passing of the riot act in 1714 completely put a stop to their violent proceedings.
Nothing worthy of notice occurred respecting the levels of Hatfield Chace, from this time to the year 1776, when the drainage being considered yet insufficient, a report was made by Mr. Smeaton, the eminent engineer, in which he recommends, as the means of improving it, that the old river Torne and some other drains should be made wider and deeper ; but notwithstanding the adoption of this and other plans of improvement, upwards of 50,000 acres still remain subject to foods, which is attributed by Mr. Stone to the inefficacy of draining into the Trent. He says that a new drain should be cut parallel with that river so as to fall into the Ouse below Adlingfleet.f.
Eventually, this wonderful improvement caused the rain of its projector, Sir Cor. nelius Vermuyden, who died in extreme poverty.
† Beauties of England and Wales.
It is the opinion, also, of Mr. Rennie, as expressed in his report of January, 1813, that the drainage by the present outfalls (at Althorpe and Keadby) will ever be ineffectual. After stating the improvements which might be made upon the old plan, he recommends the cutting of a new drain with an outfall about five miles below Keadby, at a place called Waterton; by which, he says, "the drainage would be perfect and the lands increased in value much more than equal to the expense of this drain." The improvements suggested by Mr. Rennie have been partly adopted and are yet in hand. Podsusele holders in
Alord w stoppet poids sit 20 ATC COSMOGENES.
Miscellaneous Correspondence, &e.
*** dos fusiletomab Des HODICUITY
AMBIGUITY OF LANGUAGE, lehed
4-4-4-4-4-4-40-440 Dear Mr. Editor, PHILOSOPHERS in all ages have complained of the ambiguity of language, and have found it very hard to bring it to convey their accurate speculations, when custom had given it such latitude in common use that hardly any word was not able to play the part of Proteus, and at pleasure to assume ten or a dozen different senses, as he at will could put on different shapes. But do not think that I shall take part with these philosophers, and sympathise with them in their perplexities, for I shudder at the starched figure and the stupid unvarying mien which language would put on, could they mould it as they pleased. Nothing is so interesting in discourse as such an use of a happy phrase, as a look must accompany to explain and enforce: but philosophers, who have nothing arch, nothing witty about them, would banish this felicity. How many eloquent harangues do our evening. parties furnish, in which the opponents have no difference but in the meaning of terms, and what a blaze of tea-eloquence would be extinguished by the precision which these wise-acres would wish to introduce. Imagine one of these philosophers taking in hand a beautiful poem, to retrench its superfluities, to alter its inaccuracies, to make its language more exact and definite, and the fair structure would soon present a heap of rubbish or a pile of squared timber and stones, which must be re-wrought before they could be incorporated in the graceful edifice which fancy would rear. But the philosophers themselves complain where they have most cause to be contented, for what would be left shortly for their voluminous productions, in the composition of which they spend their happiest hours, if it were not for the prolific source of matter in the very evil of which they complain. Thus the language of Greece was as volatile as the most wayward could wish, and Greece abounded with wits and philosophers; and the language of Rome was more simple and defined, and Rome had no philosophy and hardly any wit but what it borrowed from the Greeks.
When we must look upon the indefinite, ambiguous application of language as the fruitful source of wit, poetry, and philosophy, it appears like
a disposition to find fault to add any complaint upon such a subject; but I, who am no philosopher, as any one may soon see, am nevertheless disposed to lament that to so alarming an extent is this ambiguity now carried, that I am daily making mistakes that expose me to a laugh, or involve me in some greater trouble; and witnessing the perversion of the meaning of words, which threatens to overturn all moral distinctions, and to give exemption from dishonour to the most flagrant immorality. It has been my lot in company often to see a general smile at some expression I have used, to which I found the unamiable habit of gross association had attached a meaning most remote from my intention ; and indeed this whole class of ambiguities, which constitute what are called double entendres, are such low and pernicious exercises of the mind, that I could heartily wish to see them all banished. I am sensible, by the total incapacity I once felt to comprehend the smile of the jest, and by the decided enmity to good taste and pure morals which such associations always appear to maintain, that if any man of sense would think as he ought for one hour, he would be ashamed of his skill in adding meanings of this grosser sort, and disuse of a habit he began to despise would gradually banish the talent which it was disgrace to possess. I shall not pollute your pages, nor so disagreeably exercise my own mind, as to try to recollect and mention any of these ambiguities, but they are such as invariably to puzzle the innocent, and corrupt or offend those who see their application.
The good-nature of friends and relations has always exerted itself to apply soft names to harsh natural defects ; and as these are misfortunes to be pitied, not vices to be visited with reprobation, we ought not perhaps to wish to remove the evil which half conceals the extent of the evil by the misnomer, which they apply to describe it. Horace recommends this allowance as a proper consideration of human imperfections, and as the means of preserving friendship, which too strict a naming of minor defects would offend and destroy.
At, pater ut gnati, sic nos debemus, amici
Sat. lib 1. 3. 43. et seq.
* Nor should we to their faults be more severe
Than an indalgent father to his heir ;