« VorigeDoorgaan »
for being proud of the memory of John Kyrle, not so much for the extent of his benefactions as for the manner and spirit in which they were conferred, and for the unfaltering energy he gave through his whole life to do good to his native town. The work was enduring, the best a philanthropist can do. With very limited means, he abridged and limited his own necessities, in order that he might set an example of frugality, and raise a monument of his bounty which should be a perpetual incentive to his townsmen to well-doing for ever. But John Kyrle was a philanthropist and nothing morea great and good one, doubtless, and for all time he will be what Pope designated him, “ The Man of Ross."
In Ralph Allen we have the type of a man of a wholly different order; we have a man with great creative faculties, and a nature full of sweetness and goodwill to his species. It may almost be said of him and his great work, in the slightly altered language of Longfellow
“ All the means of action-
That fire was genius.” This, if not literally, is substantially true. Those who feel an interest in Bath, and to whom its growth and progress is worth a little study and reflection, must go back something like a century and three-quarters, and we will accompany them on the journey, if they will permit us to monopolise the conversation. A glance at the map of 1600 and at that of 17001 will show how insignificant had been the growth of the century. The city was still for the most part confined within the walls, and
"The superficial observer will notice an apparent difference, but the only difference is in the advance made in the construction and engraving of the later maps.
the population had but slightly increased. All the best houses in the seventeenth century were those that were built in the reign of Elizabeth, and they were for the most part in the possession of the city officials and the medical men. But they were fine old roomy mansions, in which ample accommodation was found for the residents, and spare rooms for distinguished visitors (who came for the waters) as lodgers. Amongst the citizens there were few, if any, independent gentry, as we now understand the term. The houses were so built that in Westgate Street, Stall Street, Cheap Street, they left only the space of a few feet in the centre of the road. As were the streets in the time of Elizabeth su they continued to be in the time of Charles II. They were narrow, ill-paved, dirty, and could only be traversed on foot, and here and there on horseback. From the time of the construction of the mediæval walls the level of the city had in parts actually risen to the top of the ramparts by reason of the accumulation of dirt thrown into the streets. Sceptics on the point will find the statement fully confirmed by a glance at the old postern doorway, still standing, and the locality at the time referred to was, it must be remembered, in respect of cleanliness, the most highly favoured in the city. The distant commerce of the city was carried on (see Lyncombe) by the use of the pack-horse, whilst the local business in coals, grain, and domestic supplies was almost exclusively carried on by the use of donkeys.
The roads were the great historical highways,' and although, at the period in question, they had become much dilapidated and almost ruined, they led directly to the centres of our supplies—they clearly marked out the ancient ways ; but artfully and skilfully paved as they were by the Romans, and as they were to some extent kept up in later times, they had ceased to be roads in the sense in which we think and speak
1 Described in another part.
of roads in the present day.' In still later times, when the broad-wheel waggons were invented, they did not travel to London on the Roman roads, except on certain parts, but through wide expanses of open country, best adapted to the season, and very much according to the skill and will of the drivers, the tracks being to some extent indicated by rough landmarks. The first roads of which we have any account were the great trunk-roads, constructed by the Roads Commissioners, but they were very rugged, and did not admit of rapid travelling even down to the close of the last century. The first Act of Parliament for establishing new and systematic roads was passed about 1640, but the result was not satisfactory, and travellers often preferred the “old ways " to the new roads, which were narrow, darkened with trees, intersected with ruts and many swamps.'
"2 The next Act was 1 The Fosse, which evidently crosses all the middle part of England, and is to be seen and known (though in no place plainer than here) quite from Bath to Warwick, and thence to Leicester, to Newark, to Lincoln, and on to Burton, upon the banks of the Humber. Wa observe also how several cross-roads, as ancient as the Fosse, joined it, or branched out of it ; some of which the people have by ancient usage, though corruptly, called also Fosses : for example, the Akeman Street, which is an ancient Saxon road leading from Buckinghamshire through Oxfordshire to the Fosse, and so to Bath ; this joins the Fosse between Burford and Cirencester. Also Grimesdyke, from Oxfordshire, Wattlesbank, or Aves Ditch, from the same, and the Wold-way, also called the Fosse, crossing from Gloucester to Cirencester. - De l'oe, about 1725.
2 On the visit of Princess Anne, in 1692, she used what was then commonly called a machine, in which she attempted to ascend Lansdown. We cannot from the present state of the road judge the difficulty of overcoming the scarp, which was removed in the making of that road. The "machine" was cumbrous and heavy, and the Princess became much alarmed; her coachman stopping to give the horses breath, and the coach wanting a dragstaff,” it ran back in spite of the coachman's skill, the horses refused to strain the harness again, or "pull together," putting the guards behind in great confusion. The servants at length stopped the carriage (and the confusion) by putting their shoulders to
in 1670, followed by that of 1674, when locomotion became somewhat more practicable and less dangerous. The parish roads which were begun about this time were as bad as they could be. But it must be observed that, in the earlier as well as later times, no roads in England were comparable with the Bath road, one branch of which went through Chippenham and the other through Devizes, thence both to Marlborough and to London, through the most exquisite scenery conceivable.
To understand more distinctly the position of Bath at the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century, we must request you, kind readers, to go with us to the suburbs, upon the hills and to look down
the “small and mean city" encircled by walls, some portions of which were dilapidated and other portions hidden by refuse and dirt, the accumulations of centuries. The heights presented a rugged, bare appearance, being little cultivated, and unrelieved by foliage, except in some spots in which Nature was capable of taking care of herself, or in the localities in which were situate the seats of the squires of the day. Just outside the walls the meadows in summer—then the season-were covered with rich verdure, and the citizens and visitors enjoyed them for exercise and recreation.
But, gentle and patient readers, all this was about to undergo great and important changes, physically, morally, and socially, and one of the most remarkable phenomena of the age in relation to Bath is the fact that there were two elements
the wheels. This incident was remembered by the Princess after she had become Queen, on her second visit in 1702, nor was it forgotten by the city and municipality, for with unusual energy they, at short notice, provided for the safety of her Majesty and her machine, by widening and levelling the old bridle road from the down into Weston into the Via Julia, thence into the Fosse Road to the North Gate, where she was met by Bush, the Mayor, the Municipality, and 200 ladies of the city.Hyde's “The Royal Mail.” [It was the Westgate, not the Northgate.]
coincidently working together whose objects and results, if they did not assume absolute antagonism, were without sympathy, and between which there was no moral cohesion. The old traditions were losing their hold upon the public mind. The puritanism, pietism, and hypocrisy of the Cromwellian epoch produced the unblushing vices and shameless profligacy which characterised the reign of Charles II., and gradually the results of this moral decadence infected the whole nation. It assumed various phases in various parts, according to the moral soil in which the seeds of evil fell. In Bath the elements were peculiar; people began to gather together for an ostensible purpose, which was not the real
The bulk of them sought excitement and pleasure, and they cared very little either as to its nature or its tendency.
May we request you to follow us through the 'throngs," which will lead us into the Grove and thence into the Bowling Green ? (afterwards Harrison's Walks). That big booth which you behold is the great arcana of hidden mysteries, into the inner recesses of which we could now take you, but we will content ourselves with giving you a transient glance at the more common and vulgar enjoyments which were the first development of that peculiar inversion of nature when the brains descended into the heels, and men and women ceased to be anything more than the mere votaries of selfindulgence and capering vagaries.
We lift that curtain, and are at once in the midst of the incipient stages of Beaudom, Ladydom, and M.C.dom. You see that middle-sized man at the end of the tent on a slight elevation, under a canopy of common material ; he is dressed
; in a square-cut coat, a vast neckerchief, tied in a large bow, much frilled and fulled in the centre ; his legs are encased in breeches or pantaloons of a dark material, over which are drawn top boots. That gentleman is Capt. Webster. As he moves you perceive he falters a little—yes, he has been drinking, but he swaggers and brings his feet down as if all his