The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 207 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.
“Vocalis Nymphe; quæ nec reticere loquenti Nec prior ipsa loqui didicit, resonabilis Echo.  Ille fugit; fugiensque manus complexibus aufert.” — Ovid, Metamorph. lib. iii.

But this coy nymph does not onely escape our hands, but our sight, and wee doe understand her onely by induction and analogic.  As the motion caused by a stone lett fall into the water is by circles, so sounds move by spheres in the same manner, which, though obvious enough, I doe not remember to have seen in any booke.

None of our ecchos in this country that I hear of are polysyllabicall.  When the Gospels or Chapters are read over the choire dore of Our Lady Church in Salisbury, there is a quick and strong monosyllabicall echo, which comes presently on the reader’s voice:  but when the prayers are read in the choire, there is no echo at all.  This reading place is 15 or 16 foot above the levell of the pavement:  and the echo does more especially make its returnes from Our Ladies ChappelL

So in my kitchin-garden at the plain at Chalke is a monosyllabicall Echo; but it is sullen and mute till you advance .... paces on the easie ascent, at which place one’s mouth is opposite to the middle of the heighth of the house at right angles; and then, — to use the expression of the Emperor Nero,-

“—­ reparabilis adsonat Echo."-PERSIUS.

Why may I not take the libertie to subject to this discourse of echos some remarks of sounds?  The top of one of the niches in the grot in Wilton gardens, as one sings there, doth return the note A “re”, lowder, and clearer, but it doth not the like to the eighth of it.  The diameter is 22 inches.  But the first time I happened on this kind of experiment was when I was a scholar in Oxford, walking and singing under Merton-Colledge gate, which is a Gothique irregular vaulting, I perceived that one certain note could be returned with a lowd humme, which was C. “fa”, “ut”, or D. “sol”, “re”; I doe not now well remember which.  I have often observed in quires that at certain notes of the organ the deske would have a tremulation under my hand.  So will timber; so will one’s hat, though a spongie thing, as one holds it under one’s arm at a musique meeting.  These accidents doe make me reflect on the brazen or copper Tympana, mentioned by Vitruvius, for the clearer and farther conveying the sound of the recitatores and musicians to the auditors.  I am from hence induc’t to be of opinion that these tympana were made according to such and such proportions, suitable to such and such notes.

Mersennus, or Kircher, sayes, that one may know what quantity of liquor is in the vessel by the sound of it, knowing before the empty note.  I have severall times heard great brasse pannes ring by the barking of a hound; and also by the loud voice of a strong man.-(The voice, if very strong and sharp, will crack a drinking glass.- J. Evelyn.)

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