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.

The great bell at Westminster, in the Clockiar at the New Palace Yard, 36,OOOlib. weight.  See Stow’s Survey of London, de hoc.  It was given by Jo.  Montacute, Earle of (Salisbury, I think).  Part of the inscription is thus, sc. “...... annis ab acuto monte Johannis.”



[The late Mr. Thos.  Davis, of Longleat, Steward to the Marquess of Bath, drew up an admirable “View of the Agriculture of the County of Wilts”, which was printed by the Board of Agriculture in 1794. 8vo. -J.  B.]

Considering the distance of place where I now write, London, and the distance of time that I lived in this county, I am not able to give a satisfactorie account of the husbandry thereof.  I will only say of our husbandmen, as Sir Thom.  Overbury does of the Oxford scholars, that they goe after the fashion; that is, when the fashion is almost out they take it up:  so our countrey-men are very late and very unwilling to learne or be brought to new improvements.

[It was scarcely a reproach to the Wiltshire husbandmen to be far behind those of more enlightened counties, when, in the seat of learning, where the mental faculties of the students ought to have been continually exercised and cultivated, and not merely occupied in learning useless Greek and Latin, the “Oxford scholars” followed, rather than led, the fashion.  Agricultural societies were then unknown, farmers had little communication with distant districts, and consequently knew nothing of the practice of other places; rents were low, and the same families continued in the farms from generation to generation, pursuing the same routine of Agriculture which their fathers and grandfathers had pursued “time out of mind”.  In the days of my own boyhood, nearly seventy years ago, I spent some time at a solitary farmhouse in North Wiltshire, with a grandfather and his family, and can remember the various occupations and practices of the persons employed in the dairy, and on the grazing and corn lands.  I never saw either a book or newspaper in the house; nor were any accounts of the farming kept. — J. B.]

The Devonshire men were the earliest improvers.  I heard Oliver Cromwell, Protector, at dinner at Hampton Court, 1657 or 8, tell the Lord Arundell of Wardour and the Lord Fitzwilliams that he had been in all the counties of England, and that the Devonshire husbandry was the best:  and at length we have obtained a good deal of it, which is now well known and need not to be rehearsed.  But William Scott, of Hedington, a very understanding man in these things, told me that since 1630 the fashion of husbandry in this country had been altered three times over, still refining.

Mr. Bishop, of Merton, first brought into the south of Wiltshire the improvement by burn-beking or Denshiring, about 1639.  He learnt it in Flanders; it is very much used in this parish, and their neighbours doe imitate them:  they say ’tis good for the father, but naught for the son, by reason it does so weare out the heart of the land.

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