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We pass over an obscure part of Surrey, and cross the Basingstoke canal, in which there is nothing attractive of particular notice till we arrive at
a very pleasant little town, twelve miles from Guildford, twelve from Farnham, ten from Windsor, and nine from Egbam, situate on the great Western road, twenty-nine miles from London; it is remarkable for the neatness of its ions, and the good accommodations they afford to travellers. The church was* destroyed by lightning in 1676, and rebuilt by the parishioners. This place was formerly called Holy Hall, and was the lordship of the British monarchs, who had a capital palace here, with a park which was laid open after the Civil Wars. King James and king Charles often came to it, on account of its convenient situation for hunting. The heath that surrounds this town, is a prodigious tract of barren country, appearing to be capable of great improvement, if any judgment can be formed from several inclosures on its borders, and even in the centre; which previously to cultivation yielded nothing , but heath and worts, but now producing good grass and corn, and plantations of trees. The striking contrast betwixt the dark barren heath, and those green cultivated spots, affords pleasing sensations to the traveller; several gentlemen have been induced to build romantic villas and pleasant hunting seats, which are dispersed over every part of this prodigious waste.
Adjoining to the town, is a capital seat and park, formerly occupied by the right honourable lord Keppel. The inclosure is large and capacious; the wood walks and other plantations are at least two miles in circumference; and the park is upwards of three miles round.
Formerly the whole tract of country round Bagshot, for near twenty miles, very much resembled an arid desert. The sheep bred upon it are small, but remarkably fine flavoured; and when well fatted, and in proper order, pro
- duce duce the sweetest mutton in the world; this induces many who pass through the town, to carry home some of the Bag^hot mutton in their carriages. The town is without a market.
fcx Egham, the next object worthy of notice, is a large
tt ./Tillage seated on the Thames, eighteen miles from London. '// Here is a neat almshouse, founded in 1706, by Mr. Henry Strode, merchant of London, for six men and six women, who must be sixty years of age, and have been parishioners of Egham twenty years, without having received any parochial relief. They have each annually a chaldron of coals, clothing, and five pounds in money. The centre of this building is a good house for a schoolmaster, who hat 40/. a-year and a chaldron of coals, (beside an allowance for an assistant,) for the education of twenty poor boys of Egham. Sir John Denham, father of the poet of the same name, and baron of the exchequer in the reigns of James , and Charles I. resided in the parsonage house of this
parish, and founded an almshouse here, for six men and six women. The school is under the patronage of the Coopers Company, of London.
Egham is divided into four tythings, and, being a thoroughfare from London to the west, has some very good inns. In the west part of this parish is Camomile Hill, remarkable for camomile growing upon it without cultivation. The fair, which continues three days, begins May 29.
Cooper's Hill, the subject of a poem by Denham, is situated in the parish of Egham, on the right of the road from London. An ingenious but perhaps fastidious critic has observed, that Cooper's Hill, the professed subject of the piece, is not mentioned by name, nor is any account given of its situation, produce, or history; but that it serves, like the stand of a telescope, merely as a convenience for viewing other objects.—It would however be unjust not to quote here the fentiments of a celebrated critic, (Dr. Johnson), who was perhaps too rigid, to be fascinated by mere popular opinion: "Cooper's Hill is the work that confers upon Dcnham the rank and dignity of an original author.' He seems to have been, at least among us, the author of a species of composition that may be termed local poetry, of which the fundamental subject is some particular landscape, to be poetically described, with the addition of such embellishments as may be supplied by historical retrospection, or incidental meditation. To trace a new species of poetry has in itself a very high claim to praise, and its praise is yet more when it is apparently copied by Garth and Pope. Yet Cooper's Hill, if it be maliciously inspected, will not be found without its faults. The digressions are too long, the morality too frequent, and the sentiments sometimes such as will not bear a rigorous enquiry." Praise thus extorted from a critic not unreluctant to censure will contribute to secure the fame of Denham, which the charming eulogy of the bard of Windsor Forest alone wojfd have rendered imxnortal:
Bear me, oh I bear me, to sequester'd scenes,
To bowery mazes, and surrounding greens;
To Thames's banks which fragrant breezes fill,
Or where the muses sport on Cooper's Hill.
(On Cooper's Hill eternal wreaths shall grow,
'While lasts the mountain, or while Thames shall flow.)
1 seem through consecrated walks to rove,
I hear soft music die along the grove:
Led by the sound, I rove from shade to shade,
By godlike poets venerable made:
Here his first lays majestic Denham sung;
There the last numbers flow'd from Cowley's .tongue.
Nor shou'd we here omit the homage of Somerville, the excellent poet of the Chace:
Tread with respectful awe
Vol. V. No. 116. 2 z Kiwgswood
Kingswood Lodge, the elegant seat of William Smith, Esq. is delightfully situated on Cooper's Hill. Near the house, Mr. Smith has placed a seat, which the lover* of poetry will deem sacred; it being on the very spot where Sir John Denham took his beautiful view of the rich and various scenery, which he has so happily described in his celebrated poem. From this house, which is nineteen miles from London, the hour and minute hands of St. Paul's clock have, by the aid of a telescope, been distinctly seen.
Englefield Green, in this parish, but in the county of Berks, is delightfully situated on the summit of Cooper's Hill, in the road leading through Windsor Great Park to Reading.
But the glory of Egham, and its neighbourhood, is Runny Mead, where king John, in the year 1215, after using the most criminal prevarication, was compelled bj bis barons to sign Magna Charta, the great charter of the liberties of Britain, and the basis of its laws and privileges. It is true, that here his consent was extorted; but the charter was signed, it is said, in an island between Runny Mead and Ankenvyke House, before mentioned. This island, which is still called Charter Island, is iu the parish of Wraysbury.
The land a while,
To the wild herd, the pasture of the tame,
Unus'd to bend, impatient of controul,
In memory of the above completion of the glorious fabrie of British freedom, a plan was some years ago in agitation, at the head of which were some of the principal gentlemen of the kingdom, to erect a pillar in this celebrated mead; but the attention of the projectors has hitherto been attracted to other objects, and the plan is, for the present, laid aside.
On Runny Mead are annually horse races, which are generally attended by their majesties and the royal family; and thus the place has its name, Runny, or Running, Mead. They commence September 4, and continue that and the two following days.
A road leads from Egham to the pleasant and opulent town of
situated on the banks of the Thames, in a fertile spot off well cultivated soil. It is of considerable antiquity, having
Z 7. 2 been