The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

        “So lowdly she did yerne, Like any swallow sitting on a berne."-

According to the severall sorts of earth in England (and so all the world over) the Indigense are respectively witty or dull, good or bad.

To write a true account of the severall humours of our own countrey would be two sarcasticall and offensive:  this should be a secret whisper in the eare of a friend only and I should superscribe here,

        “Pinge duos angues -locus est sacer:  extra
        Mei ite.” — PERSIUS satyr.

Well then! let these Memoires lye conceal’d as a sacred arcanum.

In North Wiltshire, and like the vale of Gloucestershire (a dirty clayey country) the Indigense, or Aborigines, speake drawling; they are phlegmatique, skins pale and livid, slow and dull, heavy of spirit:  hereabout is but little, tillage or hard labour, they only milk the cowes and make cheese; they feed chiefly on milke meates, which cooles their braines too much, and hurts their inventions.  These circumstances make them melancholy, contemplative, and malicious; by consequence whereof come more law suites out of North Wilts, at least double to the Southern Parts.  And by the same reason they are generally more apt to be fanatiques:  their persons are generally plump and feggy:  gallipot eies, and some black:  but they are generally handsome enough.  It is a woodsere country, abounding much with sowre and austere plants, as sorrel, &c. which makes their humours sowre, and fixes their spirits.  In Malmesbury Hundred, &c. (ye wett clayy parts) there have ever been reputed witches.

On the downes, sc. the south part, where ’tis all upon tillage, and where the shepherds labour hard, their flesh is hard, their bodies strong:  being weary after hard labour, they have not leisure to read and contemplate of religion, but goe to bed to their rest, to rise betime the next morning to their labour.

-----  “redit labor actus in orbem
Agricolae."-Virgil, ECLOG.

The astrologers and historians write that the ascendant as of Oxford is Capricornus, whose lord is Saturn, a religious planet, and patron of religious men.  If it be so, surely this influence runnes all along through North Wilts, the vale of Glocestershire, and Somersetshire.  In all changes of religions they are more zealous than other; where in the time of the Rome-Catholique religion there were more and better churches and religious houses founded than any other part of England could shew, they are now the greatest fanaticks, even to spirituall madness:  e. g. the multitude of enthusiastes.  Capt.  Stokes, in his “Wiltshire Rant, “printed about 1650, recites ye strangest extravagancies of religion that were ever heard of since the time of the Gnosticks.  The rich wett soile makes them hypochondricall.

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The Natural History of Wiltshire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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