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yet more ludicrous. Setting aside this consideration, and it is not to be supposed that Mr. Britton should be a profound antiquary) the views and little ground-plans seem to be executed with considerable care *. The probability seems now to be admitted that this work was erected by the Belgæ, whose chief town was Old Sarum, and who were a German nation, speaking the German language, and in no wise connected with the Welsh. When our author observes, p. 132, that the inhabitants of Denmark and Sweden have no memorials concerning such remains, he falls into a gross error, for such are familiar to them as ancient seats of judgement, and some were even erected in Iceland in the twelfth century. The Germans, p. 133, call the Italians, and most foreigners, Welsh, just as the word was used in the Anglo-Saxon ; but the Wendi do not speak the Welsh, but the Sclavonic; and Mr. Owen shows himself very little qualified even for a slight examination of such a question. Mr. Gibbon has long ago observed concerning the Irish and Welsh antiquaries, that, as their historical records are of little fame or consequence, they eagerly grasp at every fable that can flatter their national vanity. But what delight there can exist in the contemplation of deceiving others, or the vain assumption of plumes which the first breeze of science disperses, is a matter of difficult conjecture to any rational inquirer.
We now return to more pleasing topics. The general view of Wiltshire contained in the first section is too brief, and may admit of great improvements, even on a confined scale. The description of Salisbury cathedral, &c. is rather too much in the manner of the Salisbury Guide. The account of Longford castle is thus introduced.
• The original building was erected by sir Thomas Gorges, and his lady the marchioness dowager of Northampton, in the year 1591, as appears by an inscription of that date over the entrance on the north-west front. It claims our particular attention, not only from the singularity of its architecture, and the rare and valuable collection of original paintings with which it is decorated, but also from the consideration of its being continually visited by the connoisseur
* We cannot, however, assent to Mr. Britton's idea of two small trilithons, and rather suppose that tbc impost belonged to onc trilithon, forming a kind of door to the second circle of stones. We are surprised that no large plan has yet appeared of this singular edifice, in which every individual stone should be numbered, so that an easy reference might be made either in books or by travelers. We would recommend a sheet plan, extending a considerable distance beyond the cir. cle, so as to include the mound which we inentioned on a former occasion, in which, after a recent visit, we gave our opinion at some length. (See Vol. X*X. p. 571.) The fat stone marked D, in Mr. Britton's second plan, we suppose to be li;e altar, and that marked 17 in his first plan, cominonly called thic altar, to be the judiuent-seat, or throne on which the monarchis sat, as usual in Denmarh, Sweden, &c. while the other thirteen in most stones were for the counsellors of statc, judges, or jury. Mr Britton's plaos and ricws, though small, have given us murc satisfaction than any that we have yet scen. Rev.
and man of taste, who may be gratified by a faithful description of the peculiarities of its structure and beauties of its cabinet. The mansion is situated in a flat but fertile valley, close on the banks of the river Avon, which, contrary to the assertion of Mr. Gilpin, flows through the grounds in a rapid and pellucid stream. formerly surrounded by a moat and other military works, and is mentioned in sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, under the title of Amphiolus's Castle.
• Its form is that of a triangle, inclosing a court of a similar shape, with round towers at the external corners, containing several of the principal apartments. At the internal angles are circular staircases.
“The towers remain nearly the same as when first erected; but the intermediate spaces have been so much altered and modernised as to retain but little appearance of their original shape.
« The north-west front is adorned with a great variety of architectural ornaments, such as caryatides, pilasters, &c.—The south front, composed of tessellated pebbly flint and stone, remains perfect. The towers (the principal one measuring thirty feet diameter in the inside) are surmounted with cannon-shaped chimneys, answering the double purpose of utility and ornament.
Although this seat is deprived of that mountainous and romantic scenery which is necessary to render a place picturesque or grand, yet there are some prospects surrounding it peculiarly beautiful. To the south, the white tower of Downton church, apparently arising from the midst of a rich grove, forms a pleasing picture, contrasted with the dark purple hue of the woods which clothe the distant hills on the borders of the New Forest. The view, eastward, is bounded by a ridge of Salisbury Plain, on the summit of which a small building rears its solitary head, and commands an extensive view of the surrounding country. To the north-west the spire of Salisbury cathedral, seemingly connected with the park, is seen through a vista of woods, and forms an object of superior beauty to any garden obelisk I ever beheld. The park, though in general flat, lias some varieties and swells, which, being judiciously planted, give it a picasing and sylvan appearance.
• The lady Northampton who first built the house was maid of honour to queen Elizabeth, who then occasionally resided at Clarendon palace, in the vicinity of this estate. In an old plan of this castle the circular room now used as a chapel is called the Queen's bed-chamber, from which circumstance it is concluded that the athle. tie queen Bess sometimes slept in this apartment.
• It appears, from a letter published by order of the house of commons, that this place, as well as many others in the county, was subjected to the horrors of civil warfare during the troublesome reiga of Charles the First. It was garrisoned for the king, hut soon cbliged to surrender to the daring and successful Cromwell. Vol. i. P. 96.
In describing the chief houses, Mr. Britton enumerates their most valuable pictures. Wilton House presents a remarkable assemblage of antiquities; but there are many gross errors in the catalogue of paintings in this noble mansion, even as to the sex of the objects, and we remember having seen there a beautiful basso relievo, called, we think, the Head of Britannicus, while the bosom loudly proclaimed it to be a female. When this grand collection was formed, the knowledge of antiquities was very imperfect; and many opinions rashly assumed have continued, for want of more critical examination. It appears, from Mr. Britton's statement, that some of the best paintings of Vandyke preserved at Wilton have been injured by improper modes of cleaning. The noted picture of Richard the Second, supposed to be painted in oil, is critically examined from the report of a Mr. Philips, an artist engaged for some time in the house.
• It is certainly painted in water-colours, on a gilt ground, which is left in a most ingenious manner for the ornaments of the draperies : these ornaments are exceedingly rich and minute. The colours ate laid on very thick, with an even and full touch. The arrangement is formal, and the expressions are not at all contrasted ; but a placid aspect reigos in every countenance. The drawing is very good, when we consider the early period of its production.
• The artist appears to have proceeded as follows :—He covered his pannel pretty thick with a reddish ground; then gilt the whole, and painted upon that gilding. What remained to relieve the figures is chased in small fret-work, with ornamented lines. The backs of the pannels are also gilt and painted. That on which the king is represented has a white hart with gold horns, collar, and chains, sit. ting on the ground, relieved from the plain gold; on the other is a coat of arms, party per pale ; the dexter side, az. ; a cross, patee gu. between three martles, arg. ; the sinister side quarterly, first and fourth az. ; semé with fleur-de-lis, or ; second and third, gu.; three lions passant guardant, or. The crest is too much disfigured to be understood, by the ground having been dissolved.' Vol. i. P. 195.
Mr. Raspe has clearly evinced that oil-painting was known in Italy three or four centuries before the time of Van Eyck.
• Fonthill is supposed to derive its name from font, a spring or fountain, and bill--an etymology which peculiarly characterises the place. It belonged for several centuries to the ancient family of the Mervins, from whom, through his maternal grandmother, its present possessor is lineally descended.
• There are two regular approaches to the house: one from Salisbury, through the village of Fonthill-Bishop; the other from the south, by Fonthill-Gifford. At the latter place is an inn, where the generality of company leave their carriages and horses while they visit the house.
• As the way to Fonthill is by the public road, Mr. Beckford has neglected to make any exclusive entrance to his place. I approached it froin Salisbury; and, on entering the grounds, passed under an arch, with lodges on either side, built after a design of Inigo Jones, From this spot I beheld the north, or principal, front of the house,
which forms a grand façade, nearly four hundred feet in length. On the right, and immediately contiguous to the house, rises a knoll, or hill, whose sides and summit are thickly mantled with lofty groves of ancient growth and luxuriant foliage.
• Behind the house, and apparently connected with this side-screen, an undulating belt forms a kind of amphitheatric back ground, and leads the eye to a distant ridge of Salisbury Plain, which terminates the prospect eastward. On the left, a noble river, or lake, expands its pellucid waters, and, after passing the east wing of the house in a gentle curve, seems to lose itself among woody islands.
; The house is built with fine white freestone, obtained from quarreys within half a mile of its site, so that the stoical builder was at little expense either for carriage or materials.
• The centre or body of the house is in the same grand style, and nearly in the same form, as Houghton Hall in Norfolk.
Two uniform square wings are connected with it by light elliptical colonnades, supported in front by Doric pillars, with a characteristic frieze above the architrave.' Vol. i. p. 210.
Our author afterwards proceeds, as usual, to an account of the pictures; and that of the two famous landscapes by Claude is tolerably ample and satisfactoryIn speaking of the grounds, he exposes some gross errors in Mr. Gilpin's picturesque book. Among others, it is not a little curious that this reverend artist, living within thirty miles of Fonthill, should describe a grand bridge as still existing, which has been removed for at least twenty years. We should particularly expect a clergyman to be attentive to veracity.
The second volume opens with a description of Stourhead; but we confess we are fatigued with catalogues of pictures, and shall not much enlarge on the remainder of the work. The description of Salisbury Plain commences in the following manner.
• The distant appearance of this extensive tract of country is that of an immense elevated plain, intersected by deep valleys, and broken into numerous inequalities.
“Such appears the spacious plain
DYER'S FLEECE. • Mr. Gilpin has beautifully illustrated this idea of the poet. He observes, that “ the ground is indeed spread like the ocean ; but it is like the ocean after a storm ; it is continually heaving in large swells." The abrupt boldness and rotundity of the hills may well justify the classic metonymy of the ground heaving into billows; but some other parts of this gentleman's description do not so happily coincide with truth and accuracy. For instance:
« Though Salisbury Plain, in Druid times, was probably a very busy scene, we now find it wholly uninhabited. Through all this vast district scarce a cottage, or even a bush, appears. Here and there
Cxit. Rev.Vol. 34. Jan. 1802.
we meet a flock of sheep scattered over the side of some rising ground, and a shepherd with his dog attending them; or perhaps we may descry some solitary waggon winding round a distant hill. But the only resident inhabitant of this vast waste is the bustard.
“ It extends many miles in all directions, in some not less than fifty. An eye unversed in these objects is filled with astonishment in viewing waste after waste, rising out of each new horizon."
• Such a train of inaccuracies were hardly ever presented to the world in so rapid a succession. The Plain, instead of being wholly uninhabited, is interspersed with a multitude of villages. Wherever there is a valley intersected with a stream of water, there we are almost sure of finding a number of inhabitants. Neither is this vast waste so destitute of wood as the foregoing statement would lead us to imagine. The numerous dips and bourns are generally overspread with fine trees, many of which are so thickly clustered on the banks of mæandering rivulets, and assume such a variety of graceful forms, that I am astonished they should have escaped the observation of this essayist on picturesque beauty. The remarks in the quoted passages appear to have been derived from the opinions of the ignorant, instead, of being the emanations of his own mind. The Plain does not extend in any direction to the length of fifty miles: the common maps would have given better information.
• It is of importance to contradict these assertions, because, from the known celebrity of Mr. Gilpin, a greater degree of credit is attached to his representations than would be given to the more accurate statements of an obscure writer. When, in addition to the above remarks, he informs us that “ these regions have come down to us rude and untouched from the beginning of time;" what other idea can be excited than that of sterility and desolation? What opi. nion can we form on the state of these wide-spreading plains, than that of their being bleak, barren, and inhospitable? Reader, the idea would be false; the opinion would be absurd. The busy hand of man is apparent in the cultivation of many thousand acres; and, like the industrious bee, he has built him a hive in every dell. The solitary shepherd, and the sheep here and there scattered over the side of a hill, would induce us to suppose they were but few in number; yet the quantity of these useful animals gathering sustenance on the Downs is assuredly not less than half a million!
• It is unpleasant to comment on the errors of a popular writer; neither should I have done it, but from a reason of much more consequence than the one already mentioned. In an age when the cultivation of waste lands forms a principal topic of conversation, from the variety of interests involved in the discussion, it becomes a matter of infinite importance to ascertain correctly what lands are waste, and what are not, though apparently they may be. The observations of Mr. Gilpin are only calculated to mislead; a superficial inquirer, from deference to the general credibility of that gentleman's testimony, would consider the Wiltshire Downs as an absolute desert, wholly uncultivated, and entirely useless ;--a more erroneous conceplion could never enter the head of a human being, subject as he is to mistake and absurdity.' Vol. ii. p. 65.