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that from the earliest times Huntingdon has been a borough of considerable importance, and of much greater extent than at present. The ancient town is universally said to have extended in an easterly direction: Oxmire Lane is still pointed out as having been one of the ancient streets, and the rising ground which surrounds the Spring and Pest-house, (where Cowper used to walk, indulging "the love of higher things and better days,") is said to have once been the market-place. On this subject, however, we have no authentic information, and we record these notices merely as the traditionary reports of the town. Sir Robert Cotton ascribes its decay to some alterations made in the course of the river by one Grey, whom he denominates a minion of the time. It must be obvious, however, that the reason assigned by Sir Robert, is of itself inadequate to the effect produced, unless we suppose the inhabitants to have been sunk in the greatest supineness, neglect, or poverty. It seems much more probable that Huntingdon never recovered its former prosperity after the pestilence mentioned in the
charter of Edward III. granted in the year 1364,* in consequence of which the fourth part of the town was left without inhabitants. The alteration in the navigation of the river may have accelerated its decay but could not, we conceive, be the sole or primary cause. About the year 1530, when Leland flourished, the town had greatly decreased in extent: only four of the churches remained. About a century ago the population was much the same as at present and the town we may presume about the same size.
Historical and memorable events and miscellaneous facts-Henry II. besieges Huntingdon Castle-The King's forces plunder the town during the Civil Wars-Charles I. several times in Huntingdon-Copy of a singular Jury-Trials and executions for Witchcraft-Curious agreement between a member of Parliament and his constituents Remarkable death of H. Cromwell, Esq.-Subscriptions for raising forces to oppose the Rebels in 1745.
The historical associations connected with certain towns and places are among the most powerful of their attractions, and constitute their greatest charm to strangers of literary taste and feelings. Who has not felt the almost inexpressible delight of visiting some far-famed spot, the scene of some
mighty battle or heroic achievement-of some feat of gallant chivalry, or of some love-lorn tragic story that calls up our tenderest sympathies and tears? To visit scenes thus memorable-to stand by the ruined tower or on the silent battle field in the fading sunlight and stillness of the closing day, or at the time of the preparation which the sun makes when he is coming forth from his chambers of the east,* is one of the purest and most exquisite of earthly enjoyments. Men of imagination are at all times disposed to dwell on the past with a degree of fondness which reason cannot always justify, and consequently have an inclination to assimilate themselves, as it were, with the actors and events of former ages. To them "ground dignified by bravery or virtue,” as Dr. Johnson has eloquently said, is sacred to many interesting and ennobling recollections. In reading the page of history we kindle at the recital of the deeds of heroism, bravery, and devotion performed by our
* Jeremy Taylor.
countrymen of old, but how much stronger does this passion glow within us, when we stand on the very theatre of their exploits and survey the memorials of their departed power or grandeur!
This influence "which passeth not away" has been withheld from Huntingdon and its vicinity, though doubtless it was the scene of many a fierce encounter and protracted siege, when the ancient Castle frowned defiance on the quiet Ouze and Holm beneath.
The following striking incident, as a portion of local history, is worthy of commemoration.
Orders had been given while King Henry the Second was performing his degrading pilgrimage to Becket's tomb, for the assembling of his Army in the neighbourhood of London, and by the 18th of July 1174 on which day he received the intelligence of the captivity of William, King of Scotland who had joined the rebellion of Prince Henry, it was ready to act: Henry therefore lost no time in idle rejoicings but put himself at the head of his forces and advanced