William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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( '9 )

manners of other times. They are expenfivc
in eating and drinking, and in clothes too.
But they give themfelves no trouble about the
(tile or mode in which they live. Men who
employ under them great numbers of work-
men, and who fpend from two to three hun-
dred a year, live in their kitchens, which
are kept remarkably clean however, in good
order, and well furnifhed. This is by no
means mentioned as a matter of either con-
tempt or reproach, but the contrary . There
is a natural and indeed neceflary connection
between induftry and ceconomy, as there is
between both and the profperityof a nation.
From the introduction of luxury and the de-
cay of manufactures, the United Provinces
have begun to decline in wealth, population,
and power. Indolence and pleafure, the pa-
rents of idlenefs and corruption, have begun
to fap the foundations of a ftate which was
raifed on induftry, temperance, and frugality.
The navigable canal which communicates
with the Trent and the Severn, terminates at
B 2 this

( 2 )

this town. By this canal Birmingham is"
fupplied with almoft every article that is
wanted, and particularly with coals, which
are dug out of pits about eight miles diftant,
and which, by this mode of conveyance, are
rendered fo cheap, as to be commonly fold for
fix {hillings and eight pence per hundred
weight. The canal is about thirty feet wide.
The boats arefeventy feet long and five broad,
and will carry twenty-five tons, (the draught
of water being about four feet and an half)

which the canal will admit of when it is quite


full. This boat is towed by a fmgle horfe.

May 2 1 ft. Leave Birmingham, and pafs
through Sutton, a very neat little town, fitu-
ated on an eminence commanding a very
pleafant profpecl ; the country around highly
cultivated and tolerably well wooded ; and ve-
getation much more forward than in the more
foutherly parts through which we had pafled.
There is not perhaps any fpot that can be
fixed on more centrical than this to the king-
dom of England, and at a greater diftance


from the fea. Dine and fpend the evening
at Litchfield.

May 22d. Litchfield is a Imall city, well
built and plcafantly fituated. The cathedral
is fmall but very antient, and remarkable for
its three fpires, two of which are at the weft
end, and one nearly in the centre. There
arc no manufactures in this city : but it is the
refic|ence of fome genteel families with mid-
dling independent fortunes. This was the
birth-place of Dr. Samuel Johnfon, of whom
fo much has been faid, that it is but little that
can remain for the curiofity of his greateft
admirers. I was informed of two. fingula-
rities in this great genius, which, I think,
have efcaped the refearches of all his biogra-
phers. There is a great iron ring fixed by
aftaple in aftone in the centre of the market-
place, which formerly ferved as anecefiary in-
ftrument iuthe favage diverfion of bull-bait-
ing. When Johnfon happened, in his walks,
(for he paid an annual vifit to Litchfield) to
pafs by this fpot, he would frequently, in the
B 3 rnidft

rnidft of thofe reveries in which he feemed to
be involved, flep afide, and {looping down, lay
hold of the ring and pull it about, as if he had
been trying whether he was able to extricate it
from the ftone in which it was fixed . The other
remarkable particular concerning Dr. John-
fon, which has not been mentioned by his nu-
merous biographers, is, that he made it a point
when he made his annual vifit to the place
of his nativity, to call on every per fon in that
city with whom he had the lead acquaintance ;
but that the inftant he knocked at the door,
he would without giving time for opening
it, pafs on to another, where he would- do the
fame thing : fo that it frequently happened,
that two or three fervants would be running
after the doctor, requefling that he would re-
turn to their matters or miftreiTes houfes,
who waited to receive him. The people of
Litchfield were long, I avoid {peaking in the
prefent time, ftrongly tinctured with Jacobi-


tifm. When the Pretender, at the head of
fome Highland clans, had marched in 1745


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into Lancafhire, the inhabitants of Litch^
field, it is faid, waited for his arrival there,
in his progrefs to the capital, with impati-
ence. The profound reverence that John-
fon entertained for monarchical principles,
and hierarchical eftablimments, was in per-
fect conformity, and perhaps originally de-
rived from the genius that predominated in
the place of his nativity.

A very fmgular club is held annually at
Litchfield of females only. It confifts of an
hundred members and upwards -, and howe-
ver extraordinary this meeting may appear,
yet it feems to have been eflablimed from the
bell of motives, for I have been informed
that a confiderable fum of money is annually
collected and difhibuted among the poor of
the city. About a mile from Litchfield is
Barrow-cope Hill, remarkable for being the
jurying -place of three Saxon kings who were
(lain in battle.

May 23d. Leave Litchfield, and dine at Bur-
ton upon Trent, which we crofs about feven
B 4 miles

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miles from that city at Wichnor-bridge, and
a mile further, crofs the navigable canal
which goes to Derby. Ride by the fide of
this canal, about two miles, to the place where
it is carried over the river Dove, upon twelve
arches. To one who had never before feen
one river carried acrofs another, this appear-
ance naturally feemed extraordinary -, but
on examining the means, or mechanifm on
which it depended, wonder at the cffe6l was
loft in the contemplation of the caufe.

Burton is a pleafant well-built town : the
church a very neat one. A large cotton-
mill is erected here, worked by underfhot
wheels : we were not permitted to fee the
infide of it. There is a very good bridge at
Burton, of very great length. The country
between this town and Derby is highly cul-
tivated, well inhabited, and tolerably clothed
with wood, though the timber is not large.
All this country is remarkably full of thorn-
hedges. The town of Derby is much larger
than Litchfield, is adorned with many very


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handfome houfcs, and in general well built.
It is warned on one fide by the river Der-
went, on which is a very large filk-mill, I
believe, the firft which was built in this coun-
try. It is wrought by one wheel, of twenty-
four feet diameter, which gives aclion to one
"hundred thoufand movements. This mill
we were permitted to examine. Near this
complicated machine is the manufactory for
china ; the elegance, as well as expence of
which is well known.

May 24th. Dine at Derby. Ride to
Matlock-bath in the afternoon. About three
miles from Derby, the face of the country
changes all of a fudden, from a fine fertile
vale, well wooded and inhabited, which you
leave behind you, to high hills, to the north,
which are clothed to their very fummits with
excellent grafs. The inclofures here are
formed entirely of ftone, with which the foil
abounds, though it is by no means unfertile.
At Crumfortf, about a mile from Matlock,
the road is cut through a rock, juft wide


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enough for a carnage to pafs. As foon as
you get through this, the view which pre-
(ents itfelf is highly curious and romantic.
Immediately below runs the river Derwent,
bounded on each fide by high and rugged
rocks, in fome places perpendicular, in others
covered with wood. The ride to Matlock
from this pafs, and all the dale, is equally
wild and romantic. We took up our quar-
ters at the 'Old Bath, which is kept by Mr.
Mafon, where we found good accommo-
dation. Our landlord behaved with great
civility, and was at great pains to, (hew us
the country all around 5 but I faw no fpot,
in this variegated region, which delighted
me fo much, or which appeared fo great an
object of curiofity, as the Vale of Matlock
itfelf. On the hill, towards the north-weft
of the village, are many mines which produce
lead, and alfo fome copper and antimony.
Some of the (hafts are dug to the amazing
depth of one hundred and twenty fathom,
ach of them being wrought, for the moft


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part, by no more than two men, \vhofe pro-
fits and advantages are confiderable, when
they are fortunate enough to hit on a good
'vein ; and, being admitted as co-partners
\vith the proprietors, they are encouraged to
continue their refearches until they find
one. During the time of their fearching the
ground, for a courfe of metal, they receive
only one (hilling a day. Great advantages
are granted to thofe adventurers, as they are
allowed by law to try for one wherever they
choofe, on any man's eflate, gardens only ex-
ceptcd. And, if they are not fuccefsful, the
only redrefs the proprietor of the land can
have, is the power of compelling the miners
to fill up the fhaft again. This is a great
inconveniency to the gentlemen rciiding in
that part of the country. The method of
making thofe fhafts, which are not above
three feet wide, is, to put diagonal pieces of
wood into the fides. Thefe fupport the
earth where it is loofe, and at the fame time
afford fleps to go down by, as they feldorn


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make ufe of any rope or chain. This bufi-
nefs of mining affords many advantages, and
prompts to the ihidy of natural hiflory.
The nature and the arrangement of the mi-
neral ftrata, in the mines of Cornwall and
Devonshire, fuggefted their leading ideas to
Woodward in his Theory of the Earth, and
to Mr. Hutchinfon, who attempted to frame
a fyftem of natural philofophy, agreeably to
the writings of Mofes. If academies for ob-
fervation and experiments were eftablifhed in
the mining countries, philofophy might be
advanced thereby with greater rapidity than
has yet diftinguimed her progreffive courfe.
Lord Bacon juftly obferves, that if the kings
of Egypt had beftowed as great pains and ex-
pence in digging holes into the bowels of the
earth, as they did in raifmg thofe ftupendom
moles called pyramids, on its furface, they
would have rendered greater fervice to man-
kind, and acquired to themfelves jufter and
'more lafting fame. Such pits being dug to
{heir hands by private adventurers, it would ba


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ah honour to princes, as well as an acquifition
to the general ftores of knowledge, to ap-
point men of fcience to make obfervations on
the different fubftances brought to light by
the perfevering and penetrating induftry of
miners, in different parts of the world.

At Crumford are two very large cotton
mills, the property of Mr. Arkwright, which
he was fo obliging as to allow us to fee. To
attempt a defcription of a piece of mecha-
nifm fo curious and complicated, would be
vain. I can only fay, that the whole procefs
of cleaning, carding, combing, twitting and
compleating the yarn for the loom, feems to
be done almoft without human aid. The
different machines are prepared for working
chiefly by children, of whom Mr. Arkwright
employs at this place about one thoufand.

27th May. Leave Matlock, and go to
Afhbourn by Wirkfworth. The road is
good, but the country very hilly and dreary.
From Afhbourn we proceed to vifit Dove-Dale,
which is about two miles long. Through

thi s

( 3 )

this dale runs the river Dove ; and on each
fide of it, are many high and barren rocks,
which, to a man who has never viewed the
rugged face of nature, would appear tre-
mendous. I cannot fay that they had any
fuch effect on me. Fronl this dale we went
to Bakewell, a very poor ill-huilt town.
The little river Wye runs through Bakewell,
and about two miles below, glides through a
beautiful meadow, where there is a very old
houfe, called Haddow-Hall. Near this
town is another very large cotton mill, be-
longing to Mr. Arkwright's fon, apparently
as large as that at Crumford.

Saturday 28th May. Leave Bakewell,
andgotothe Duke of Devonshire's at Chatf-
worth. This place, from its fituation, feems
calculated fora refidence of only a few months
in the year. The country, about two miles
round the houfc, is well wooded, and by
great pains and induitry, highly cultivated.
But all the diilant hills within view of the
houfe, wear a dreary and difmal afpecl.


( 3* )

The garden or pleafure ground, is confined*
and laid out with very little tafte : for tho'
there be a command of water from a fpring
on the hill behind the houfe, a fountain and
cafcade is exhibited, which, in the midft of
fummer, muft indeed have a pleafant appear-
ance ; but the fteps over which the water
runs being artificial, after having feen it
once, you ceafe to admire it. The houfe is
built of a dark yellow (lone, and the weft
front of it is very elegant. A pretty large
quadrangle is formed in the centre, which
makes the rooms dull and gloomy. Some of
the apartments are fpacious and lofty, but ill-
furnifhed, and without any hiftorical picture
that is worthy of notice. The river Der-
\vent, which runs through the park, has a
pleafing effect, and a bridge, thrown over it,
which leads to the houfe, does great credit
to the architect. It confifts of three arches,
which are truly elegant. Though this houfe
and the garden be fituated in a low vale, yet
the gardener told us, that it is impoflible to


ripen fruit here, without hot walls, The
chapel is very fpacious, as well as elegant.
Some of the trees are nine feet in circum-
ference j but thefe are chiefly firs, and have
been long planted.

Dine at Stoney Middleton, a very poor
village, and ride afterwards to Buxton
through Middleton-Dale, which very much
refembles Dove-Dale, except that it is not
watered, like that valley, by any river.
Having paiTed through this dale, we afcend-
ed a very high hill, which commands a moft
extenfive though barren and fulien profpect :
not a tree to be feen, and the tops of the
hills bare rocks, although the fides of thefe
towards their bafes, and the finall vallies be-
tween, are covered with veiy good verdure.
The inclofures in this dreary tract are very
fmall, formed of ftones piled up into walls,
to clear the land, and to fcreen the cattle.
And fuch as this is the whole country
around Buxton. This place, from the effi-
jcacy of its waters, has grown into a large


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Draggling village. The houfes are ch'efly,
indeed I may fay folely, built for the accom-
modation of invalids. The Duke of Devon-
fhire has lately built fome elegant houfes in
form of a crefcent, which has a very pretty
appearance. This building, I was told,
Would coft the Duke about 50,000!. But I
fliould imagine, he will never get tenants
for all thofe houfes, as I can fcarcely fuppofe
it poffible, that any perfon would refide at
Buxton but from neceffity ; to receive bene-
fit from the water, which, in all rheumatic
cafes, is certainly very efficacious . The bath is
about the 8zd degree of heat, and very plea-
fant to the feeling of every perfon that enters
it. Near Buxton there is an hill, in the bowels
of which feveral hundred people find daily

Monday, 3oth May. Leave Buxton, and
gotoCaftlctown, apoorfmalltown, inhabited
chiefly by miners. Near to this place is the
celebrated cavern called the Devil's A fe, the
mouth of which is really tremendous, bc-

( 34 )

ing fourteen yards in heighth and depth, and
ten yards wide. After having advanced to
the end of the mouth, you are conducted
through a fmall door, which leads you into
the cavern. At 450 yards from the entrance
you come to the firrt water, the roof of the
rock gradually floping till it comes within
about two feet of the furface of the ftream
which pafles through the cavern. This wa-
ter is to be erofied by lying down flat, in a
fmall boat, on fome ftraw. The boat is pufh-
ed forward by the guide, until you get through
this narrow and low place, which is about
four yards long. After landing on the other
fide, you come to a cavern feventy yards
wide and forty yards high, in the top of which
arefeveral large openings ; though the candles
were not fufficient to enable us to fee their
full extent. Having eroffed the water a fe-
cond time, on the guide's back, you come
to a cavern called Roger Rain's houfe, be-
c:iufe from its roof there is a continual
dropping of water. At this place you are


( 35 )

entertained by a company of fingers, who
have taken another path, and afccndcd
a place called the Chancel, about thirty
higher than the place on which you Hand -,
where, with lights in their hands, they fmg
various fongs. The effect of the whole is
very (hiking. The water is, in all, crofted
feven times ; but you can ftep over it, except
at the two iirft places. At one place, the
ilream is loft in a quick-fand, but emerges
again at a great diilance, without the ca-
vern. The whole extent of this extraordi-
nary fubterraneous place, as meafured by
Sir Jofeph Banks, is 617 yards, and at the
further! end, is upwards of 200 yards from,
the furface of the earth. At this fpot the
rock comes down, and clofes with the waier,
fo as to preclude all farther paifage: but, as
there was reafon to believe, from a found that
was conftantly heard, that there was a cavern
beyond this boundary, a gentleman, about
four years ago, was determined to try if he
could not dive under the rock, and rife in the
C 2 cavern,

( 36 )

Cavern, on the other fide. With this
rate refolution he plunged in with his feet
foremoft ; but, as was expected, ftruck his
head againft a rock. In this ftate he remain-
ed a confiderable time, till at laft he was
dragged out by the hair of the head. About
the middle of the old cavern, the man who
fhews this place, hasr found out another paf-
fage, in a different direction, which he calls the
New Cavern . Into this we went, with difficul-
ty, about an hundred yards $ but the ftones were
i'o loofe under our feet, and the roof of the ca-
vern, in feveral places, fo low, that we did not
choofe to take the trouble of going farther,
though the guide fays, that its extent is near
200 yards. This man is fo eager in purfuit
of new wonders in this cave, that I ihould not
be in the leaft furprifed to hear of his being
buried or drowned in it ; for in winter, the
whole of this fubterraneous place is fometimes
full of water, as clearly appears from a great
quantity of mud and fand which flick to the
rocks on all fides. It is indeed the paffage of


( 37 )

the water that has evidently been the caufc
of this natural curiofity. This has wafhed
away, in the courfe of time, the mud and
fand which filled the cavities of the rocks,
and thus fcooped thofe vacant fpaces which
form the caverns.

If this tremendous cave were properly
lighted up, and mufic placed m different
parts, with the witches in Macbeth and their
cauldron, and other infernal agents and ma-
chines, fuch as are introduced on the ilage,
a more wonderful effect might thereby be
produced, than has ever refulted from any
mimick or natural fcene.

Above the mouth of this cavern is the
ruin of a very old cafik.

On the fbuth fide of Caftletown ilands
Man-to rr, a very high hill, one fide of which
appears to be mouldering faft away. On
the top of this hill are the remains of a Ro-
man encampment, and near its hafe is a coal
mine. The coals are conveyed in boats, under
ground, near a mile, to the bottom of an
C 3 hill,

hill, and then put into carts. Each of thofe
boats carries about a ton. From Caflktown
proceed to Chapel-in-Frith, a fmall neat
town : fleep at the George Inn, where there
is moft excellent accommodation.

Tuefday, 3 i ft May. Leave Chapel-in-Frith,
and ride through Whaley and Stockport, to
Manchefren After afcending the hill above
Whaley , the face of the country affumes a
iiew and more pleafmg afpecl, being chang-
ed from rugged rocks and lofty mountains,
to fertile vales and beautiful woods. The
whole country, for a great many miles round
Manchefter, is exceedingly well cultivated, and
fertile. This town is old, and of large ex-
tent ; and in the fktrts of it, you are ilruck
with the appearance of many elegant houfes.
But, on the whole, it is not fo large, or fo
well built. as Birmingham. The road from
Stockport to Manchefter, a ftretch of nine
miles, is paved,

Wednefday, ift June 'Manchefter. Not-
withftanding what I have faid of the town


( 39 )

of Manchefter, the induftry in thcmanufac-
tures carried on here and in the neighbour-
hood, cannot fail to excite the moft agreeable
emotions in the minds of all Britons. And, if
it be inferior to Birmingham in refpccl of
extent, and of building, it is fuperior to it
in point of police or internal regulation, and
alfo in the ftile or mode of living. The


population of this great town is not lefs
than 75,000. There are not fo many people
of middling fortunes as in Birmingham, but
there are more perfons who have great for-
tunes : a circumftance which is to be ac-
counted for, from the nature of the Man-
chefter manufactures, which cannot befo well
carried on as thofe of Birmingham, by tradef-
men of fmall capitals. The manufacturers
of Manchefter live like men of fortune, which
indeed they are.

The greateft part of the people are en-
gaged in fome ufeful art, but principally in
finifhing the goods that are manufactured in
the neighbourhood. The mills, which I have
Q 4 before

( 40 )

before mentioned, prepare the cotton for the
weavers, and Manchefler completes the work.
From hence the goods are carried to every
part of the world ; the conveyance of thefe
being greatly facilitated by the communica-
tion which the canals afford with the fea, on
either fide of the ifland.

Manchefler is the beft regulated town in
England, though, like Birmingham, it is not
governed by magiftrates of its own, or a
town-council, but by the gentlemen of the
town, who are at great pains to eflablifh
order and good manners among the lower
people, by good regulations. The people,
again, being moflly weavers, and confequent-
ly, orderly and domeilic, are very t; aclable,
and fufceptible of good government. The
work-houfe here pays better, I believe, than
any in England. The poor inhabitants earn,
on an average, four pence a day, though in
rnany others they fcarcely gain a farthing.

Theftreets are paraded every Sunday, dur-
ing the time of divine fer vice, by conflables,


who take all ftraggling perfons into cuftody\
Disorderly houfcs are fearched once in every
eight or ten days, about nine or ten o'clock in
the evening, care being taken not to let it be
known when the fearch is to be made. And,
as all this is done not by trading jufrices, and
other fellows in office, but by gentlemen, it
anfwers the purpofc of preferring order,
without buflle, expence, or oppreflion.

The fpirit of enterprize is extended, in
Manchester, from manufactures and com-
merce to mechanical invention, and from
thence to philofophy in general. They
have, in this exemplary community, a phi-
lofophical focicty, who purfue literature and
fcience with all the ardour that is natural to
new eftablifliments ; and alfo a mufic room,
and regular concerts, ornaments of which no
other manufacturing town in England can
boaft. When the manufacturers of this
kingdom were in danger of f offering by the
Iriih propofitions, the town of Manchefter
took the lead in oppofmg them, and contri-

( 42 )

tmted twice as much as all the kingdom be-
fides, to the fupport of the manufacturers
who efpoufed their caufe. It is remarkable,
that in this elegant and well regulated
town, the inns are the moft inconvenient,
incommodious, and in all refpecls the worrt
that can be well imagined. The hotel is
indeed better, though not by any means very
good : nor will it at all ferve the purpofe of
travellers who flop on their journey only for
2 fhort time. The women of Manchester,
2nd indeed of all Lancamire, are efteemed
handfome, and in this refpecl, the title of
witches may be beftowed on them without
great impropriety.

Thurfday, the 2d of June. Go to Wor-
iley in the Duke of Bridgewate-r's pafTage-
boat, by his canal, which has been of fo great
fervice to Manchefler, and all the adjacent
eountry : the diftance ten miles. At Wor-
(ley is the mouth of the funnel which leads
to the Duke's coal mines. This funnel,
which is five feet high, and. fix feet broad,


( 43 )

goes two miles under ground. At one thou-
fand yards from the entrance, a fhaft is dug
to clear the mine from foul air. Several f
thole fhafts are dug at various diftanccs, for
the fame purpofe. This mode of giving
vent to the foul air, has been found necef-

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