Metcalfe & Telford VII.
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Brunetto Latini, the tutor of Dante, describes a journey made by him from London to Oxford about the end of the thirteenth century, resting by the way at Shirburn Castle.  He says, "Our journey from London to Oxford was, with some difficulty and danger, made in two days; for the roads are bad, and we had to climb hills of hazardous ascent, and which to descend are equally perilous.  We passed through many woods, considered here as dangerous places, as they are infested with robbers, which indeed is the case with most of the roads in England.  This is a circumstance connived at by the neighbouring barons, on consideration of sharing in the booty, and of these robbers serving as their protectors on all occasions, personally, and with the whole strength of their hand.  However, as our company was numerous, we had less to fear.  Accordingly, we arrived the first night at Shirburn Castle, in the neighbourhood of Watlington, under the chain of hills over which we passed at Stokenchurch."  This passage is given in Mr. Edward's work on 'Libraries' (p. 328), as supplied to him by Lady Macclesfield.


See Ogilby's 'Britannia Depicta,' the traveller's ordinary guide-book between 1675 and 1717, as Bradshaw's Railway Time-book is now.  The Grand Duke Cosmo, in his 'Travels in England in 1669,' speaks of the country between Northampton and Oxford as for the most part unenclosed and uncultivated, abounding in weeds.  From Ogilby's fourth edition, published in 1749, it appears that the roads in the midland and northern districts of England were still, for the most part, entirely unenclosed.


This ballad is so descriptive of the old roads of the southwest of England that we are tempted to quote it at length.  It was written by the Rev. John Marriott, sometime vicar of Broadclist, Devon; and Mr. Rowe, vicar of Creditors, says, in his 'Perambulation of Dartmoor,' that he can readily imagine the identical lane near Broadclist, leading towards Poltemore, which might have sat for the portrait.

In a Devonshire lane, as I trotted along
T'other day, much in want of a subject for song,
Thinks I to myself, half-inspired by the rain,
Sure marriage is much like a Devonshire lane.

In the first place 'tis long, and when once you are in it,
It holds you as fast as a cage does a linnet;
For howe'er rough and dirty the road may be found,
Drive forward you must, there is no turning round.

But tho' 'tis so long, it is not very wide,
For two are the most that together can ride;
And e'en then, 'tis a chance but they get in a pother,
And jostle and cross and run foul of each other.

Oft poverty meets them with mendicant looks,
And care pushes by them with dirt-laden crooks;
And strife's grazing wheels try between them to pass,
And stubbornness blocks up the way on her ass.

Then the banks are so high, to the left hand and right,
That they shut up the beauties around them from sight;
And hence, you'll allow, 'tis an inference plain,
That marriage is just like a Devonshire lane.

But thinks I, too, these banks, within which we are pent,
With bud, blossom, and berry, are richly besprent;
And the conjugal fence, which forbids us to roam,
Looks lovely, when deck'd with the comforts of home.

In the rock's gloomy crevice the bright holly grows;
The ivy waves fresh o'er the withering rose,
And the ever-green love of a virtuous wife
Soothes the roughness of care, cheers the winter of life.

Then long be the journey, and narrow the way,
I'll rejoice that I've seldom a turnpike to pay ;
And what'er others say, be the last to complain,
Though marriage is just like a Devonshire lane.


'Iter Sussexiense.' By Dr. John Burton.


'King Henry the Fourth' (Part I.), Act. II. Scene i.


Part of the riding road along which the Queen was accustomed to pass on horseback between her palaces at Greenwich and Eltham is still in existence, a little to the south of Morden College, Blackheath.  It winds irregularly through the fields, broad in some places, and narrow in others. Probably it is very little different from what it was when used as a royal road.  It is now very appropriately termed "Muddy Lane."


'Dépêches de La Mothe F[enelon,' 8vo., 1838.  Vol. i. p.27.


Nichols's 'Progresses,' vol. ii., 309.


The title of Mace's tract (British Museum) is "The Profit, Conveniency, and Pleasure for the whole nation: being a short rational Discourse lately presented to his Majesty concerning the Highways of England: their badness, the causes thereof, the reasons of these causes, the impossibility of ever having them well mended according to the old way of mending: but may most certainly be done, and for ever so maintained (according to this NEW WAY) substantially and with very much ease, &c., &c.  Printed for the public good in the year 1675."


See 'Archæologia,' xx., pp. 443-76.


"4th May, 1714.  Morning: we dined at Grantham, had the annual solemnity (this being the first time the coach passed the road in May), and the coachman and horses being decked with ribbons and flowers, the town music and young people in couples before us: we lodged at Stamford, a scurvy, dear town.  5th May: had other passengers, which, though females, were more chargeable with wine and brandy than the former part of the journey, wherein we had neither; but the next day we gave them leave to treat themselves."—Thoresby's 'Diary,' vol. ii., 207.


"May 22, 1708.  At York.  Rose between three and four, the coach being hasted by Captain Crone (whose company we had) upon the Queen's business, that we got to Leeds by noon; blessed be God for mercies to me and my poor family."—Thoresby's 'Diary,' vol. ii., 7.


Thoresby's ' Diary,' vol. i., 295.


Waylen's 'Marlborough.'


Reprinted in the 'Harleian Miscellany,' vol. viii., p.547.  Supposed to have been written by one John Gressot, of the Charterhouse.


There were other publications of the time as absurd (viewed by the light of the present day) as Gressot's.  Thus, "A Country Tradesman," addressing the public in 1678, in a pamphlet entitled 'The Ancient Trades decayed, repaired again,—wherein are declared the several abuses that have utterly impaired all the ancient trades in the Kingdom,' urges that the chief cause of the evil had been the setting up of Stage-coaches some twenty years before.  Besides the reasons for suppressing them set forth in the treatise referred to in the text, he says, "Were it not for them (the Stagecoaches), there would be more Wine, Beer, and Ale, drunk in the Inns than is now, which would be a means to augment the King's Custom and Excise.  Furthermore they hinder the breed of horses in this kingdom [the same argument was used against Railways], because many would be necessitated to keep a good horse that keeps none now.  Seeing, then, that there are few that are gainers by them, and that they are against the common and general good of the Nation, and are only a conveniency to some that have occasion to go to London, who might still have the same wages as before these coaches were in use, therefore there is good reason they should be suppressed.  Not but that it may be lawful to hire a coach upon occasion, but that it should be unlawful only to keep a coach that should go long journeys constantly from one stage or place to another upon certain days of the week as they do now.'—p. 27.


Roberts's 'Social History of the Southern Counties,' p. 494—Little more than a century ago, we find the following advertisement of a Newcastle flying coach:—"May 9, 1734.—A coach will set out towards the end of next week for London, or any place on the road.  To be performed in nine days,—being three days sooner than any other coach that travels the road; for which purpose eight stout horses are stationed at proper distances."


In 1710 a Manchester manufacturer taking his family up to London, hired a coach for the whole way, which, in the then state of the roads, must have made it a journey of probably eight or ten days.  And, in 1742, the system of travelling had so little improved, that a lady, wanting to come with her niece from Worcester to Manchester, wrote to a friend in the latter place to send her a hired coach, because the man knew the road, having brought from thence a family some time before."—Aikin's 'Manchester.'


Lord Campbell mentions the remarkable circumstance that Popham, afterwards Lord Chief Justice in the reign of Elizabeth, took to the road in early life, and robbed travellers on Gad's Hill.  Highway robbery could not, however, have been considered a very ignominious pursuit at that time, as during Popham's youth a statute was made by which, on a first conviction for robbery, a peer of the realm or lord of parliament was entitled to have benefit of clergy, "though he cannot read!"  What is still more extraordinary is, that Popham is supposed to have continued in his course as a highwayman even after he was called to the Bar.  This seems to have
been quite notorious, for when he was made Serjeant the wags reported that he served up some wine destined for an Alderman of London, which be had intercepted on its way from Southampton.—Aubrey, iii., 492.— Campbell's 'Chief Justices,' i., 210.


'Travels of Cosmo the Third, Grand Duke of Tuscany,' p. 147.


"It is as common a custom, as a cunning policie in thieves, to place chamberlains in such great inns where cloathiers and graziers do lye; and by their large bribes to infect others, who were not of their own preferring; who noting your purses when you draw them, they'l gripe your cloak-bags, and feel the weight, and so inform the master thieves of what they think, and not those alone, but the Host himself is oft as base as they, if it be left in charge with them all night; he to his roaring guests either gives item, or shews the purse itself, who spend liberally, in hope of a speedie recruit."  See 'A Brief yet Notable Discovery of Housebreakers,' &c., 1659.  See also 'Street Robberies Considered; a Warning for Housekeepers,' 1676; 'Hanging not Punishment Enough,' 1701 ; &c.


The food of London was then principally brought to town in panniers.  The population being comparatively small, the feeding of London was still practicable in this way; besides, the city always possessed the great advantage of the Thames, which secured a supply of food by sea.  In 'The Grand Concern of England Explained,' it is stated that the hay, straw, beans, peas, and oats, used in London, were principally raised within a circuit of twenty miles of the metropolis; but large quantities were also brought from Henley-on-Thames and other western parts, as well as from below Gravesend by water; and many ships laden with beans came from Hull, and with oats from Lynn and Boston.


'Loides and Elmete,' by T. D. Whitaker, LL.D., 1816, p. 81.  Notwithstanding its dangers, Dr. Whitaker seems to have been of opinion that the old mode of travelling was even safer than that which immediately followed it; "Under the old state of roads and manners," he says, "it was impossible that more than one death could happen at once; what, by any possibility, could take place analogous to a race betwixt two stage-coaches, in which the lives of thirty or forty distressed and helpless individuals are at the mercy of two intoxicated brutes?"


In the curious collection of old coins at the Guildhall there are several halfpenny tokens issued by the proprietors of inns bearing the sign of the pack-horse.  Some of these would indicate that pack-horses were kept for hire.  We append a couple of illustrations of these curious old coins.


'Three Years' Travels in England, Scotland, and Wales.'  By James Brome, M.A., Rector of Cheriton, Kent.  London, 1726.


The treatment the stranger received was often very rude.  When William Hutton, of Birmingham, accompanied by another gentleman, went to view the field of Bosworth, in 770, "the inhabitants," he says, "set their dogs at us in the street, merely because we were strangers.  Human figures not their own are seldom seen in these inhospitable regions.  Surrounded with impassable roads, no intercourse with man to humanise the mind, nor commerce to smooth their rugged manners, they continue the boors of Nature."  In certain villages in Lancashire and Yorkshire, not very remote from large towns, the appearance of a stranger, down to a comparatively recent period, excited a similar commotion amongst the villagers, and the word would pass from door to door, "Dost knaw 'im?" "Naya." "Is 'e straunger?"  "Ey for sewer."  "Then paus' 'im—'Eave a duck [stone] at 'im—Fettle 'im!"  And the "straunger" would straightway find the "ducks" flying about his head, and be glad to make his escape from the village with his life.


Scatcherd, 'History of Morley.'


Murray's 'Handbook of Surrey, Hants, and Isle of Wight,' 168.


Whitaker's 'History of Craven.'


Scatcherd's 'History of Morley,' 226.


Vixen Tor is the name of this singular-looking rock.  But it is proper to add, that its appearance is probably accidental, the head of the Sphynx being produced by the three angular blocks of rock seen in profile.  Mr. Borlase, however, in his 'Antiquities of Cornwall,' expresses the opinion that the rock-basins on the summit of the rock were used by the Druids for purposes connected with their religious ceremonies.


The provisioning of London, now grown so populous, would be almost impossible but for the perfect system of roads now converging on it from all parts.  In early times, London, like country places, had to lay in its stock of salt-provisions against winter, drawing its supplies of vegetables from the country within easy reach of the capital.  Hence the London market-gardeners petitioned against the extension of turnpike-roads about a century ago, as they afterwards petitioned against the extension of railways, fearing lest their trade should be destroyed by the competition of country-grown cabbages.  But the extension of the roads had become a matter of absolute necessity, in order to feed the huge and ever-increasing mouth of the Great Metropolis, the population of which has grown in about two centuries from four hundred thousand to three millions.  This enormous population has, perhaps, never at any time more than a fortnight's supply of food in stock, and most families not more than a few days; yet no one ever entertains the slightest apprehension of a failure in the supply, or even of a variation in the price from day to day in consequence of any possible shortcoming.  That this should be so, would be one of the most surprising things in the history of modern London, but that it is sufficiently accounted for by the magnificent system of roads, canals, and railways, which connect it with the remotest corners of the kingdom.  Modern London is mainly fed by steam.  The Express Meat-Train, which runs nightly from Aberdeen to London, drawn by two engines, and makes the journey in twenty-four hours, is but a single illustration of the rapid and certain method by which modern London is fed.  The north Highlands of Scotland have thus, by means of railways, become grazing-grounds for the metropolis.  Express fish-trains from Dunbar and Eye-mouth (Smeaton's harbours), augmented by fish-trucks from Cullercoats and Tynemouth on the Northumberland coast, and from Redcar, Whitby, and Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast, also arrive in London every morning.  And what with steam-vessels bearing cattle, and meat and fish arriving by sea, and canal-boats laden with potatoes from inland, and railway-vans laden with butter and milk drawn from a wide circuit of country, and road-vans piled high with vegetables within easy drive of Covent Garden, the Great Mouth is thus from day to day regularly, satisfactorily, and expeditiously filled.


The white witches are kindly disposed, the black cast the "evil eye," and the grey are consulted for the discovery of theft, &c.


 See 'The Devonshire Lane,' above quoted, note to p. 9.


Willow saplings, crooked and dried in the required form.


'Farmer's Magazine,' 1803. No. xiii. p.101.


Bad although the condition of Scotland was at the beginning of last century, there were many who believed that it would be made worse by the carrying of the Act of Union.  The Earl of Wigton was one of these.  Possessing large estates in the county of Stirling, and desirous of taking every precaution against what he supposed to be impending ruin, he made over to his tenants, on condition that they continued to pay him their then low rents, his extensive estates in the parishes of Denny, Kirkintulloch, and Cumbernauld, retaining only a few fields round the family mansion ['Farmer's Magazine,' 1808, No. xxxiv. p.193].  Fletcher of Saltoun also feared the ruinous results of the Union, though he was less precipitate in his conduct than the Earl of Wigton.  We need scarcely say how entirely such apprehensions were falsified by the actual results.


'Fletcher's Political Works,' London, 1737, p.149.  As the population of Scotland was then only about 1,200,000, the beggars of the country, according to the above account, must have constituted about one-sixth of the whole community.


Act 39th George III. c. 56.  See 'Lord Cockburn's Memorials,' pp. 76-9.  As not many persons may be aware how recent has been the abolition of slavery in Britain, the author of this book may mention the fact, that he personally knew a man who had been "born a slave in Scotland," to use his own words, and lived to tell it.  He had resisted being transferred to another owner on the sale of the estate to which he was "bound," and refused to "go below," on which he was imprisoned in Edinburgh gaol, where he lay for a considerable time.  The case excited much interest, and probably had some effect in leading to the alteration in the law relating to colliers and salters which shortly after followed.


See 'Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle,' passim.


'Farmer's Magazine,' June, 1811, No. xlvi. p. 155.


See Buchan Hepburn's 'General View of the Agriculture and Economy of East Lothian,' 1794, p.95.


Letter of John Maxwell, in Appendix to Macdiarmid's 'Picture of Dumfries,' 1823.


Robertson's 'Rural Recollections,' p.38.


Very little was known of the geography of the Highlands down to the beginning of the seventeenth century.  The principal information on the subject being derived from Danish materials.  It appears, however, that in 1608, one Timothy Pont, a young man without fortune or patronage, formed the singular resolution of travelling over the whole of Scotland, with the sole view of informing himself as to the geography of the country, and he persevered to the end of his task through every kind of difficulty; exploring all the islands with the zeal of a missionary, though often pillaged and stript of everything by the then barbarous inhabitants.  The enterprising youth received no recognition nor reward for his exertions, and he died in obscurity, leaving his maps and papers to his heirs.  Fortunately, James I. heard of the existence of Pont's papers, and purchased them for public use.  They lay, however, unused for a long time in the offices of the Scotch Court of Chancery, until they were at length brought to light by Mr. Robert Gordon, of Straloch, who made them the basis of the first map of Scotland having any pretensions to accuracy that was ever published.


Mr. Grant, of Corrymorry, used to relate that his father, when speaking of the Rebellion of 1745, always insisted that a rising in the Highlands was absolutely necessary to give employment to the numerous bands of lawless and idle young men who infested every property.—Anderson's 'Highlands and Islands of Scotland,' p.432.


'Lord Hailes's Annals,' i., 379.


Professor Innes's 'Sketches of Early Scottish History.'  The principal ancient bridges in Scotland were those over the Tay at Perth (erected in the thirteenth century); over the Esk at Brechin and Marykirk; over the Dee at Kincardine, O'Neil, and Aberdeen; over the Don, near the same city; over the Spey at Orkhill; over the Clyde at Glasgow; over the Forth at Stirling; and over the Tyne at Haddington.


Lady Luxborough, in a letter to Shenstone the poet, in 1749, says,—"A Birmingham coach is newly established to our great emolument.  Would it not be a good scheme (this dirty weather, when riding is no more a pleasure) for you to come some Monday in the said stage-coach from Birmingham to breakfast at Barrells, (for they always breakfast at Henley); and on the Saturday following it would convey you back to Birmingham, unless you would stay longer, which would be better still, and equally easy; for the stage goes every week the same road.  It breakfasts at Henley, and lies at Chipping Horton; goes early next day to Oxford, stays there all day and night, and gets on the third day to London ; which from Birmingham at this season is firefly well, considering how long they are at Oxford; and it is much more agreeable as to the country than the Warwick way was."


We may incidentally mention three other journeys south by future Lords Chancellors.  Mansfield rode up from Scotland to London when a boy, taking two months to make the journey on his pony.  Wedderburn's journey by coach from Edinburgh to London, in 1757, occupied him six days.  "When I first reached London," said the late Lord Campbell, "I performed the same journey in three nights and two days, Mr. Palmer's mail-coaches being then established; but this swift travelling was considered dangerous as well as wonderful, and I was gravely advised to stay a day at York, as several passengers who had gone through without stopping had died of apoplexy from the rapidity of the motion!"


C. H. Moritz: 'Reise eines Deutschen in England im Jahr, 1782.'  Berlin, 1783.


Arthur Young's 'Six Weeks' Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales.'  2nd ed., 1769, pp. 88-9.


'Six Weeks' Tour in the Southern Counties of England and Wales,' pp. 153-5.  The roads all over South Wales were equally bad down to the beginning of the present century.  At Halfway, near Trecastle, in Breconshire, South Wales, a small obelisk is still to be seen, which was erected to commemorate the turn over and destruction of the mail coach over a steep of 130 feet; the driver and passengers escaping unhurt.


'A Six Months' Tour through the North of England,' vol. iv., p.431.


Letter to Wyatt, October 5th, 1787, MS.


Act 15 Car. I I., c. 1.


The preamble of the Act recites that "The ancient highway and post-road leading from London to York, and so into Scotland, and likewise from London into Lincolnshire, lieth for many miles in the counties of Hertford, Cambridge, and Huntingdon, in many of which places the road, by reason of the great and many loads which are weekly drawn in waggons through the said places, as well as by reason of the great trade of barley and malt that cometh to Ware, and so is conveyed by water to the city of London, as well as other carriages, both from the north parts as also from the city of Norwich, St. Edmondsbury, and the town of Cambridge, to London, is very ruinous, and become almost impassable, insomuch that it is become very dangerous to all his Majesty's liege people that pass that way," &c.


Down to the year 1756, Newcastle and Carlisle were only connected by a bridle way.  In that year, Marshal Wade employed his army to construct a road by way of Harlaw and Cholterford, following for thirty miles the line of the old Roman Wall, the materials of which he used to construct his "agger " and culverts.  This was long after known as "the military road."


The Blandford waggoner said, "Roads had but one object—for waggon-driving.  He required but four-foot width in a lane, and all the rest might go to the devil.'  He added, "The gentry ought to stay at home, and be d――d, and not run gossiping up and down the country."—Roberts's 'Social History of the Southern Counties.'


'Gentleman's Magazine ' for December, 1752.


Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations,' book i., chap. xi., part i.


Ed.—also known as John Metcalfe.  Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


Ed.—Field Marshall George Wade (1673-1748).  Smiles's text at this point gives the impression that Wade was the battlefield commander at Falkirk; this was not the case.  Wade, by then over seventy and in poor health, retired from active service in January 1746  to be replaced by Lieutenant-General Hawley, whose disdain for the Scots resulted in a further significant defeat for the government forces.  Despite a distinguished military career—the 1745 uprising apart—Wade is probably remembered today for his military engineering works (roads, bridges, barracks and fortifications) in suppression of the Highlands. Source: (principally) the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


'Observations on Blindness and on the Employment of the other Senses to supply the Loss of Sight.'  By Mr. Bew.—Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, vol. i., pp. 172-174.  Paper read 17th April, 1782.


The pillar was erected by Squire Dashwood in 1751; the lantern on its summit was regularly lighted till 1788, and occasionally till 1808, when it was thrown down and never replaced.  The Earl of Buckingham afterwards mounted a statue of George III. on the top.


Since the appearance of the first edition of this book, a correspondent has informed us that there is another lighthouse within 24 miles of London, not unlike that on Lincoln Heath.  It is situated a little to the south-east of the Woking Station of the South-Western Railway, and is popularly known as "Woking Monument."  It stands on the verge of Woking Heath, which is a continuation of the vast tract of heath land which extends in one direction as far as Bagshot.  The tradition among the inhabitants is, that one of the kings of England was wont to hunt in the neighbourhood, when a fire was lighted up in the beacon to guide him in case he should be belated; but the probability is, that it was erected like that on Lincoln Heath, for the guidance of ordinary wayfarers at night.


'Journal of the Agricultural Society of England, 1843.'


Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to the 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,' says that the common people of the high parts of Liddlesdale and the country adjacent to this day hold the memory of Johnnie Armstrong in very high respect.


It was long before the Reformation flowed into the secluded valley of the Esk; but when it did, the energy of the Borderers displayed itself in the extreme form of their opposition to the old religion.  The Eskdale people became as resolute in their covenanting as they had before been in their freebooting; the moorland fastnesses of the moss-troopers becoming the haunts of the persecuted ministers in the reign of the second James.  A little above Langholm is a hill known as "Peden's View," and the well in the green hollow at its foot is still called "Peden's Well"—that place having been the haunt of Alexander Peden, the "prophet."  His hiding-place was among the alder-bushes in the hollow, while from the hill-top he could look up the valley, and see whether the Johnstones of Wester Hall were coming.  Quite at the head of the same valley, at a place called Craighaugh, on Eskdale Muir, one Hislop, a young covenanter, was shot by Johnstone's men, and buried where he fell; a gray slabstone still marking the place of his rest.  Since that time, however, quiet has reigned in Eskdale, and its small population have gone about their daily industry from one generation to another in peace.  Yet though secluded and apparently shut out by the surrounding hills from the outer world, there is not a throb of the nation's heart but pulsates along the valley; and when the author visited it some years since, he found that a wave of the great Volunteer movement had flowed into Eskdale; and the "lads of Langholm" were drilling and marching under their chief, young Mr. Malcolm of the Burnfoot, with even more zeal than in the populous towns and cities of the south.


The names of the families in the valley remain very nearly the same as they were three hundred years ago—the Johnstones, Littles, Scotts, and Beatties prevailing above Langholm; and the Armstrongs, Bells, Irwins, and Graemes lower down towards Canobie and Netherby.  It is interesting to find that Sir David Lindesay, in his curious drama published in 'Pinkerton's Scottish Poems' (vol. ii., p. 156), gives these as among the names of the Borderers some three hundred years since.  One Common Thift, when sentenced to condign punishment, thus remembers his Border friends in his dying speech:—

"Adew! my brother Annan thieves,
 That holpit me in my mischeivis;
 Adew! Grossars, Niksonis, and Bells,
 Oft have we fairne owrthreuch the fells;
 Adew! Robsons, Howis, and Pylis,
 That in our craft her mony wilis;
 Littlis, Trumbells, and Armestranges;
 Baileowes, Erewynis, and Elwandis,
 Speedy of flicht, and slicht of handis;
 The Scotts of Eisdale, and the Gramis,
 I haf na time to tell your nameis."

 Telford, or Telfer, is an old name in the same neighbourhood, commemorated in the well known border ballad of 'Jamie Telfer of the fair Dodhead.'  Sir W. Scott says, in the 'Minstrelsy,' that "there is still a family of Telfers, residing near Langholm, who pretend to derive their descent from the Telfers of the Dodhead."  A member of the family of "Pylis" above mentioned, is said to have migrated from Ecclefechan southward to Blackburn, and there founded the celebrated Peel family.


We were informed in the valley that about the time of Telford's birth there were only two tea-kettles in the whole parish of Westerkirk, one of which was in the house of Sir James Johnstone of Wester Hall, and the other at "The Burn," the residence of Mr. Pasley, grandfather of General Sir Charles Pasley.


In his 'Epistle to Mr. Walter Ruddiman,' first published in 'Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine,' in 1779, occur the following lines addressed to Burns, in which Telford incidentally sketches himself at the time, and hints at his own subsequent meritorious career:—

"Nor pass the tentie curious lad,
 Who o'er the ingle hangs his head,
 And begs of neighbours books to read;
         For hence arise
 Thy country's sons, who far are spread,
         Baith bold and wise."


The 'Poetical Museum,' Hawick, p. 267.  'Eskdale' was afterwards reprinted by Telford when living at Shrewsbury, when he added a few lines by way of conclusion.  The poem describes very pleasantly the fine pastoral scenery of the district:—

"Deep 'mid the green sequester'd glens below,
 Where murmuring streams among the alders flow,
 Where flowery meadows down their margins spread,
 And the brown hamlet lifts its humble head—
 There, round his little fields, the peasant strays,
 And sees his flock along the mountain graze;
 And, while the gale breathes o'er his ripening grain,
 And soft repeats his upland shepherd's strain,
 And western suns with yellow radiance play,
 And gild his straw-roof'd cottage with their ray,
 Feels Nature's love his throbbing heart employ,
 Nor envies towns their artificial joy."

The features of the valley are very fairly described.  Its early history is then rapidly sketched; next its period of border strife, at length happily allayed by the union of the kingdoms, under which the Johnstones, Pasleys, and others, men of Eskdale, achieve honour and fame.  Nor did he forget to mention Armstrong, the author of the 'Art of Preserving Health,' son of the minister of Castleton, a few miles east of Westerkirk; and Mickle, the translator of the 'Lusiad,' whose father was minister of the parish of Langholm; both of whom Telford took a natural pride in as native poets of Eskdale.


Robert and John Adam were architects of considerable repute in their day.  Among their London erections were the Adelphi Buildings, in the Strand; Lansdowne House, in Berkeley Square; Caen Wood House, near Hampstead (Lord Mansfield's); Portland Place, Regent's Park; and numerous West End streets and mansions.  The screen of the Admiralty and the ornaments of Draper's Hall were also designed by them.


Long after Telford had become famous, he was passing over Waterloo Bridge one day with a friend, when, pointing to some finely-cut stones in the corner nearest the bridge, he said: "You see those stones there; forty years since I hewed and laid them, when working on that building as a common mason."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated London, July, 1783.


Mr., afterwards Sir William, Pulteney, was the second son of Sir James Johnstone, of Wester Hall, and assumed the name of Pulteney, on his marriage to Miss Pulteney, niece of the Earl of Bath and of General Pulteney, by whom he succeeded to a large fortune.  He afterwards succeeded to the baronetcy of his elder brother James, who died without issue in 1797.  Sir William Pulteney represented Cromarty, and afterwards Shrewsbury, where he usually resided, in seven successive Parliaments.  He was a great patron of Telford's, as we shall afterwards find.


Letter to Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Portsmouth, July 23rd, 1784.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Portsmouth Dockyard, Feb. 1, 1786.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Portsmouth Dockyard, Feb. 1, 1786.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shewsbury Castle, 21st Feb., 1788.


This practice of noting down information, the result of reading and observation, was continued by Mr. Telford until the close of his life; his last pocket memorandum book, containing a large amount of valuable information on mechanical subjects—a sort of engineer's vade mecum—being printed in the appendix to the 4to 'Life of Telford' published by his executors in 1838, pp. 663-90.


A medical man, a native of Eskdale, of great promise, who died comparatively young.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm.


It would occupy unnecessary space to cite these poems.  The following, from the verses in memory of William Telford, relates to schoolboy days.  After alluding to the lofty Fell Hills, which formed part of the sheep farm of his deceased friend's father, the poet goes on to say:—

"There 'mongst those rocks I'll form a rural seat,
 And plant some ivy with its moss compleat;
 I'll benches form of fragments from the stone,
 Which, nicely, pois'd, was by our hands o'erthrown,—
 A simple frolic, but now dear to me,
 Because, my Telford, 'twas performed with thee.
 There, in the centre, sacred to his name,
 I'll place an altar, where the lambent flame
 Shall yearly rise, and every youth shall join
 The willing voice, and sing the enraptured line.
 But we, my friend, will often steal away
 To this lone seat, and quiet pass the day;
 Here oft recall the pleasing scenes we knew
 In early youth, when every scene was new,
 When rural happiness our moments blest,
 And joys untainted rose in every breast."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated 16th July, 1788.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated 16th July, 1788.




The discovery formed the subject of a paper read before the Society of Antiquaries in London on the 7th of May, 1789, published in the 'Archæologia,' together with a drawing of the remains supplied by Mr. Telford.


An Eskdale crony.  His son, Colonel Josias Stewart, rose to eminence in the East India Company's service, having been for many years Resident at Gwalior and Indore.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated 3rd Sept. 1788.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 8th October, 1789.


It was then under seventeen millions sterling, or about a fourth of what it is now.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated 28th July, 1791.  Notwithstanding the theoretical ruin of England which pressed so heavy on his mind at this time, we find Telford strongly recommending his correspondent to send any good wrights he could find in his neighbourhood to Bath, where they would be enabled to earn twenty shillings or a guinea a week at piece-work—the wages paid at Langholm for similar work being only about half those amounts.


The writer of a memoir of Telford, in the 'Encyclopedia Britannica,' says:—"Andrew Little kept a private and very small school at Langholm.  Telford did not neglect to send him a copy of Paine's 'Rights of Man;' and as he was totally blind, he employed one of his scholars to read it in the evenings.  Mr. Little had received an academical education before he lost his sight and, aided by a memory of uncommon powers, he taught the classics, and particularly Greek, with much higher reputation than any other schoolmaster within a pretty extensive circuit.  Two of his pupils read all the Iliad, and all or the greater part of Sophocles.  After hearing a long sentence of Greek or Latin distinctly recited, he could generally construe and translate it with little or no hesitation.  He was always much gratified by Telford's visits, which were not infrequent, to his native district."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 10th March, 1793.


Referring to the burning of Dr. Priestley's library.


The preparation of some translations from Buchanan which he had contemplated.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 29th September, 1793.


John Wilkinson and his brother William were the first of the great class of ironmasters.  They possessed iron forges at Bersham near Chester, at Bradley, Brimbo, Merthyr Tydvil, and other places; and became by far the largest iron manufacturers of their day.  For notice of them see 'Lives of Boulton and Watt,' p. 184.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 3rd November, 1793.


The Ellesmere Canal now pays about 4 per cent. dividend.


'A General History of Inland Navigation, Foreign and Domestic,' &c. By J. Phillips. Fourth edition.  London, 1803.


Telford himself thus modestly describes the merit of this original contrivance: "Previously to this time such canal aqueducts had been uniformly made to retain the water necessary for navigation by means of puddled earth retained by masonry; and in order to obtain sufficient breadth for this superstructure, the masonry of the piers, abutments, and arches was of massive strength; and after all this expense, and every imaginable precaution, the frosts, by swelling the moist puddle, frequently created fissures, which burst the masonry, and suffered the water to escape—nay, sometimes actually threw down the aqueducts; instances of this kind having occurred even in the works of the justly celebrated Brindley.  It was evident that the increased pressure of the puddled earth was the chief cause of such failures: I therefore had recourse to the following scheme in order to avoid using it.  The spandrels of the stone arches were constructed with longitudinal walls, instead of being filled in with earth (as at Kirkcudbright Bridge), and across these the canal bottom was formed by cast iron plates at each side, infixed in square stone masonry.  These bottom plates had flanches on their edges, and were secured by nuts and screws at every juncture.  The sides of the canal were made waterproof by ashlar masonry, backed with hard burnt bricks laid in Parker's cement, on the outside of which was rubble stone work, like the rest of the aqueduct.  The towing path had a thin bed of clay under the gravel, and its outer edge was protected by an iron railing.  The width of the water-way is 11 feet; of the masonry on each side, 5 feet 6 inches; and the depth of the water in the canal, 5 feet.  By this mode of construction the quantity of masonry is much diminished, and the iron bottom plate forms a continuous tie, preventing the side-walls from separation by lateral pressure of the contained water."—'Life of Telford,' p.40.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 13th March, 1795.


Matthew Davidson had been Telford's fellow workman at Langholm, and was reckoned an excellent mason.  He died at Inverness, where he had a situation on the Caledonian Canal.


Mr. Hughes, C.E., in his 'Memoir of William Jessop,' published in 'Weale's Quarterly Papers on Engineering,' points out the bold and original idea here adopted, of constructing a watertight trough of cast-iron, in which the water of the canal was to be carried over the valleys, instead of an immense puddled trough, in accordance with the practice at that time in use; and he adds, "the immense importance of this improvement on the old practice is apt to be lost sight of at the present day by those who overlook the enormous size and strength of masonry which would have been required to support a puddled channel at the height of 120 feet."  Mr. Hughes, however, claims for Mr. Jessop the merit of having suggested the employment of iron, though, in our opinion, without sufficient reason.  Mr. Jessop was, no doubt, consulted by Mr. Telford on the subject; but the whole details of the design, as well as the suggestion of the use of iron (as admitted by Mr. Hughes himself), and the execution of the entire works, rested with the acting engineer.  This is borne out by the report published by the Company immediately after the formal opening of the Canal in 1805, in which they state: "Having now detailed the particulars relative to the Canal, and the circumstances of the concern, the committee, in concluding their report, think it but justice due to Mr. Telford to state that the works have been planned with great skill and science, and executed with much economy and stability, doing him, as well as those employed by him, infinite credit.

" (Signed) BRIDGEWATER."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 16th Sept., 1794.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 16th Sept., 1794.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Salop, 20th Aug., 1797.


'Encyclopedia Britannica,' 8th ed.  Art. "Iron Bridges."


According to the statement made in the petition drawn by Paine, excise officers were then (1772) paid only 1s. 9¼d. a day.


In England, Paine took out a patent for his Iron Bridge in 1788.—Specification of Patents (old law) No. 1667.


The following are further details "Each of the main ribs of the flat arch consists of three pieces, and at each junction they are secured by a grated plate, which connects all the parallel ribs together into one frame.  The back of each abutment is in a wedge-shape, so as to throw off laterally much of the pressure of the earth.  Under the bridge is a towing path on each side of the river.  The bridge was cast in an admirable manner by the Coalbrookdale iron-masters in the year 1796, under contract with the county magistrates.  The total cost was £6,034. 13s. 3d."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Shrewsbury, 18th March, 1795.


Douglas was first mentioned to Telford, in a letter from Mr. Pasley, as a young man, a native of Bigholmes, Eskdale, who had, after serving his time there as a mechanic, emigrated to America, where he showed such proofs of mechanical genius that he attracted the notice of Mr. Liston, the British Minister, who paid his expenses home to England, that his services might not be lost to his country, and at the same time gave him a letter of introduction to the Society of Arts in London.  Telford, in a letter to Andrew Little, dated 4th December, 1797, expressed a desire "to know more of this Eskdale Archimedes."  Shortly after, we find Douglas mentioned as having invented a brick machine, a shearing-machine, and a ball for destroying the rigging of ships; for the two former of which he secured patents.  He afterwards settled in France, where he introduced machinery for the improved manufacture of woollen cloth; and being patronised by the Government, he succeeded in realising considerable wealth, which, however, he did not live to enjoy.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated London, 13th May, 1800.


The evidence is fairly set forth in 'Cresy's Encyclopedia of Civil Engineering,' p. 475.


Article on Iron Bridges, in the 'Encyclopedia Britannica,' Edinburgh, 1857.


His foreman of masons at Bewdley Bridge, and afterwards Bridge assistant in numerous important works.


The work is thus described in Robert Chambers's 'Picture of Scotland':—"Opposite Compston there is a magnificent new bridge over the Dee.  It consists of a single arch, the span of which is 112 feet; and it is built of vast blocks of freestone brought from the Isle of Arran.  The cost of this work was somewhere about £7,000 sterling; and it may be mentioned, to the honour of the Stewartry, that this sum was raised by the private contributions of the gentlemen of the district.  From Tongueland Hill, in the immediate vicinity of the bridge, there is a view well worthy of a painter's eye, and which is not inferior in beauty and magnificence to any in Scotland."


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Salop, 13th July, 1799.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Liverpool, 9th September, 1800.


Brodie was originally a blacksmith.  He was a man of much ingenuity and industry, and introduced many improvements in iron work; he invented stoves for chimneys, ships' hearths, &c.  He had above a hundred men working in his London shop, besides carrying on an iron work at Coalbrookdale.  He afterwards established a woollen manufactory near Peebles.


Dated London, 14th April, 1802.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Salop, 30th November, 1799.


'Romilly's Autobiography,' ii. 22.


'Statistical Account of Scotland,' iii. 185.


The cas-chrom was a rude combination of a lever for the removal of rocks, a spade to cut the earth, and a foot-plough to turn it.  We annex an illustration of this curious and now obsolete instrument.  It weighed about eighteen pounds.  In working it, the upper part of the handle, to which the left-hand was applied, reached the workman's shoulder, and being slightly elevated, the point, shod with iron, was pushed into the ground horizontally; the soil being turned over by inclining the handle to the furrow side, at the same time making the heel act as a fulcrum to raise the point of the instrument.  In turning up unbroken ground, it was first employed with the heel uppermost, with pushing strokes to cut the breadth of the sward to be turned over, after which, it was used horizontally as above described.  We are indebted to a Parliamentary Blue Book for the above representation of this interesting relic of ancient agriculture.  It is given in the appendix to the 'Ninth Report of the Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges,' ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 19th April, 1821.


Anderson's 'Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,' 3rd ed. p.48.


He was accompanied on this tour by Colonel Dirom, with whom he returned to his house at Mount Annan, in Dumfries.  Telford says of him: "The Colonel seems to have roused the county of Dumfries from the lethargy in which it has slumbered for centuries.  The map of the county, the mineralogical survey, the new roads, the opening of lime works, the competition of ploughing, the improving harbours, the building of bridges, are works which bespeak the exertions of no common man."—Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, dated Shrewsbury, 30th November, 1801.


Ordered to be printed 5th of April, 1803.


'Memorials of his Time,' by Henry Cockburn, pp. 341-3.


'Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir John Sinclair, Bart.,' vol. i., p.339.


Extract of a letter from a gentleman residing in Sunderland, quoted in 'Life of Telford,' p.465.


Letter to Mr. Andrew Little, Langholm, dated Salop, 18th February, 1803.


The names of Celtic places are highly descriptive. Thus Craig-Ellachie literally means, the rock of separation; Badenoch, bushy or woody; Cairngorm, the blue cairn; Lochinet, the lake of nests; Balknockan, the town of knolls; Dalnasealg, the hunting dale ; All'n dater, the burn of the horn-blower; and so on.


Sir Thomas Dick Lauder has vividly described the destructive character of the Spey-side inundations in his capital book on the 'Morayshire Floods.'


Ed.—Craigellachie Bridge was cast in sections at the Plas Kynaston iron foundry at Cefn Mawr, near Ruabon, North Wales and transported by canal and sea to the harbour of Speymouth from where it was conveyed to site in horse-drawn wagons.  In 2007, the Institution of Civil Engineers and American Society of Civil Engineers unveiled a plaque on the bridge to acknowledge its international importance.


'Report of the Commissioners on Highland Roads and Bridges.'  Appendix to 'Life of Telford,' p.400.


Ed.—Telford's bridge at Bonar was swept away by a flood on 29 January 1892, a winter of many great floods in the North of Scotland.


Hugh Miller, in his 'Cruise of the Betsy,' attributes the invention of columnar pier-work to Mr. Bremner, whom he terms "the Brindley of Scotland."  He has acquired great fame for his skill in raising sunken ships, having been employed to warp the S.S. Great Britain from Dundrum Bay.  But we believe Mr. Telford had adopted the practice of columnar pier-work before Mr. Bremner, in forming the little harbour of Folkestone in 1808, where the work is still to be seen quite perfect.  The most solid mode of laying stone on land is in flat courses; but in open pier-work the reverse process is adopted.  The blocks are laid on end in columns, like upright beams jammed together.  Thus laid, the wave which dashes against them is broken, and spends itself on the interstices; whereas, if it struck the broad solid blocks, the tendency would be to lift them from their beds and set the work afloat; and in a furious storm such blocks would be driven about almost like pebbles.  The rebound from flat surfaces is also very heavy, and produces violent commotion; whereas these broken, upright, columnar-looking piers seem to absorb the fury of the sea, and render its wildest waves comparatively innocuous.


'Memorials from Peterhead and Banff, concerning Damage occasioned by a Storm.' Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 5th July, 1820. [242.]


'A Description of Bothe Touns of Aberdeene.'  By James Gordon, Parson of Rothiemay.  Reprinted in Gavin Turreffs 'Antiquarian Gleanings from Aberdeenshire Records' Aberdeen, 1859.


Robertson's 'Book of Bon-Accord.'


Ibid., quoted in Turreff's 'Antiquarian Gleanings,' p.222.


One of them, however, did return—Peter Williamson, a native of the town, sold for a slave in Pennsylvania, "a rough, ragged, humle-headed, long, stowie, clever boy," who, reaching York, published an account of the infamous traffic, in a pamphlet which excited extraordinary interest at the time, and met with a rapid and extensive circulation.  But his exposure of kidnapping gave very great offence to the magistrates, who dragged him before their tribunal as having "published a scurrilous and infamous libel on the corporation," and he was sentenced to be imprisoned until he should sign a denial of the truth of his statements.  He brought an action against the corporation for their proceedings, and obtained a verdict and damages; and he further proceeded against Baillie Fordyce (one of his kidnappers), and others, from whom he obtained £200 damages, with costs.  The system was thus effectually put a stop to.


'A Description of Bothe Touns of Aberdeene.'  By James Gordon, Parson of Rothiemay.  Quoted by Turreff, p.109.


Communication with London was as yet by no means frequent, and far from expeditious, as the following advertisement of 1778 will show:—"For London: To sail positively on Saturday next, the 7th November, wind and weather permitting, the Aberdeen smack.  Will lie a short time at London, and, if no convoy is appointed, will sail under care of a fleet of colliers—the best convoy of any.  For particulars apply," &c., &c.


"The bottom under the foundations," says Mr. Gibb, in his description of the work, "is nothing better than loose sand and gravel, constantly thrown up by the sea on that stormy coast, so that it was necessary to consolidate the work under low water by dropping large stones from lighters, and filling the interstices with smaller ones, until it was brought within about a foot of the level of low water, when the ashlar work was commenced; but in place of laying the stones horizontally in their beds, each course was laid at an angle of 45 degrees, to within about 18 inches of the top, when a level coping was added.  This mode of building enabled the work to be carried on expeditiously, and rendered it while in progress less liable to temporary damage, likewise affording three points of bearing; for while the ashlar walling was carrying up on both sides, the middle or body of the pier was carried up at the same time by a careful backing throughout of large rubble-stone, to within 18 inches of the top, when the whole was covered with granite coping and paving 18 inches deep, with a cut granite parapet wall on the north side of the whole length of the pier, thus protected for the convenience of those who might have occasion to frequent it."—Mr. Gibb's 'Narrative of Aberdeen Harbour Works,'

[Footnotes (con't)]


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