Obrazy na stronie

with Southampton Water, and on the other with the Thames, near Chertsey, and a branch is navigable to a short distance from Salisbury. The Winchester and Salisbury Canal is one of the oldest in England, having been formed nearly two centuries. Along the coast, and in the channel by which the Isle of Wight is separated from Hampshire, are numerous excellent harbours and roadsteads, capable of affording shelter to vessels of every description; and, in short, it would be difficult to point out a district better fitted by nature and art for commercial operations. In order to facilitate the communication with London, a plan has been announced for the formation of a Grand Ship Canal from Portsmouth to London, by which the difficult and sometimes dangerous navigation round the Foreland would be avoided, and a great portion of the commerce of the country would be turned out of its ancient channel. This Canal was intended to be of gigantic dimensions, capable of admitting ships of the line; the expense of forming it was calculated at about four millions sterling; and it was said to be under the patronage of the Government, the East India Company, &c. As, however, it was brought forward in the year 1925, so disgracefully celebrated for its bubbles, and as very little has been heard of it since, it is not improbable that the whole scheme, “ Grand” as it might be, has melted into “ thin air," and that the “ dangers and inconveniences” of the Kentish coast and the mouth of the Thames, must still be encountered by the mariners resorting to the great city.

The Roads of Hampshire are, generally speaking, good; but in traversing the New Forest, bogs are occasionally met with, to avoid which requires considerable caution, as their surface does not differ in appearance from the surrounding verdure; and the small forest horses often pass over them without that injury, which would be experienced by a larger animal, with a rider.

The Manufactures of this county are neither numerous nor important; they principally consist of woollen cloths, shalloons, serges, &c. At Basingstoke malt is prepared and leather made; and in various places are paper and silk mills, and consider

[ocr errors]

able salt works. The Fishery on the coast and in the rivers also gives employment to a considerable number of persons; and several large ponds have been formed on the heaths in the north-east part of the county, which are stocked with tench, carp, &c. for the London market.

The whole of Hampshire, with the Isles of Wight, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, is comprised in the diocese of Winchester. It is in the Western Circuit, and both the Spring and Summer Assizes are held at Winchester. The Lord Lieutenant of the County is the Duke of Wellington.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

of the original inhabitants of Hampshire we know little; they are generally supposed to have migrated from the opposite coast of Armorica, since called Britanny, and finding here extensive downs, adapted for hunting; fertile fields, for the pasture of their flocks; and wide spreading forests, suitable to the awful mysteries of the Druidical worship, they are conjectured to have settled here in considerable numbers. About three centuries previous to the Christian era, the Belga, a tribe of German extraction, but which had been long settled in Gaul, prompted by the roving disposition natural to their race, or perhaps impelled by the difficulty of finding subsistence in a period when agriculture was scarcely known, crossed the Chanuel, and after a long conflict succeeded in driving the aboriginal inhabitants from the plains, and in obtaining possession of all that part of the country which forms the present counties of Somerset, Wilts, and Hants; that portion which is now the latter county, was called Gwent, from its extensive downs.

Somewhat more than two centuries had elapsed from the invasion by the Belgæ, when Julius Cæsar, whose thirst for dominion was unslaked by the conquest of almost the whole of the then known world, determined to subject this island, and with that intention landed in Kent, as already related. The causes which led to his abandonment of this undertaking, and the manner in which it was resumed


and finally carried into effect under Claudius, will be found in an early part of this volume. Under the Roman government this county was comprised in the province of Britannia Prima. After the Romans had left the country to its fate, the Britons defended themselves here, during sixty years, with great bravery but inadequate success, against the warlike Saxons, but were at length subdued by Cerdic, who, about 519, formed his conquests into a new kingdom, called, from its relative situation, that of the West Saxons, or Wesser, and constituted Winchester the capital of his dominions. From the Saxons this district acquired the appellation of Hantunscyre, the transition from which to its present name is easy.

The kingdom of Wessex, the third founded by the Saxon invaders, comprised, when it had attained its greatest extent, the present counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wilts, Berks, and Hants; but it did not acquire the whole of this territory until after a long series of conflicts with the Britons, now grown valiant from desperation, and taught discipline by experience. Cerdic, the first king, died in 534, and was succeeded by his son Kenric, who dying in 560 left the crown to Ceaulin, in whose reign a part of Devon and Somersetshire were added to the kingdom; elated by his success against the Britons, he attacked the neighbouring Saxon states; a confederacy to resist this dangerous innovator was formed under the command of Ethelbert, King of Kent; and, having also exasperated his own subjects by his tyranny, Ceaulin was driven from the throne, and died in exile. His sons Cuichelme and Cuthwin succeeded him, and governed jointly during several years; the third in succession from them was Kynegils, under whom Christianity was introduced among the West Saxons, in 635, by Birinus, a monk whom Pope Honorius had despatched hither for that purpose. Kenewalch, the son and successor of Kynegils, was a Pagan; but, expelled from his throne by Penda, King of Mercia, he was persuaded by the King of East Anglia, in whose territories he had found protection, to embrace the Christian religion ; and on his restoration, he testified his attachment to his new faith by completing the building of Winchester Cathedral, and founding a Monastery near it.

On the death of Kenewalch in 672, his widow Sexburga mounted the throne, and by her spirit and abilities kept her seat until she died in 674; she affords the only instance of a reigning Queen throughout the whole of the Saxon dynasties. After her death, Escwin, and Kentwin, successively inherited the crown, and the latter was succeeded in 686 by Ceadwalla, who made the first step towards the superiority acquired by Wessex over the rest of the Heptarchy, by conquering the kingdom of Sussex, and annexing it to his dominions. He afterwards made a pilgrimage to Rome, and dying in 689 was succeeded by Ina, who finally vanquished the Britons of Somersetshire, and by his humanity secured the conquests which his valour had achieved. Instead of treating the inhabitants as slaves, as had hitherto been done by the Saxon conquerors, he allowed them to retain possession of their lands, promoted marriage between them and his other subjects, and allowed them the benefit of the same laws by which the Saxons were governed; which laws he collected and augmented; which formed the basis of those afterwards promulgated by his great descendant Alfred; and many of the provisions of which even now form the most valuable part of those legal privileges of which every Englishman is so justly proud. After a glorious reign of 37 years, Ina died in 726, and was succeeded by his kinsman Adelard; who was followed in 741 by Cudred; as he was in 754 by Sigebert, whose tyranny provoked an insurrection by which he was driven from the throne, and Kenulph chosen king in his stead. This prince was murdered in 784 by Kynehard, (brother of the deposed Sigebert), who expiated his crime with his life. Brithric, a remote descendant of the royal family, next obtained the crown; and evincing great jealousy of Egbert, who was much more nearly related to Ina, from whom both claimed descent, that young prince retired to France, where he was kindly received by Charlemagne, and acquired that tincture of learning and accomplishments which afterwards distinguished him, and enabled him to acquire such an ascendancy over his unpolished Saxon competitors, as led to the dissolution of the Heptarchy.

Brithric being poisoned by his wife Eadburga, the people of Wessex called Egbert to the sovereignty, and he mounted the throne in the year 800. By a singular fatality the families of every one of the original Saxon conquerors of Britain had become extinct, in the direct live, except that of Wessex; Egbert, therefore, might be considered as the sole representative of those heroes whom the people had been taught to revere; and this prejudice in his favour was strengthened by the great qualities of that prince, and very much facilitated bis subsequent acquirement of the undivided sovereignty of England. He was not, however, the first aggressor in the wars which terminated so much to his advantage. Being engaged in subduing the Britons in Cornwall, his dominions were invaded by Bernulf, King of Mercia, a powerful prince, who had already reduced the East Angles to subjection, and had established tributary princes in Kent and Essex. Egbert marched to meet the invaders, and totally defeated them at Ellandown in Wiltshire. This blow he followed up by marching into the enemy's territory, and despatching his son, at the head of an army, into Keut, from whence he soon expelled the Mercian tributary, and obtained possession of the kingdom. This conquest was followed by that of Essex; and the neighbouring East Anglians, abhorring their Mercian tyrants, rose in arms against them, and solicited the protection of Egbert. Bernulf, marching against the insurgents, was slain; as was Ludican, his successor, two years afterwards; and Egbert found but little further resistance from a people deprived of their Jeaders, and dispirited by repeated defeats. Не, however, allowed Wiglaf, whom they had chosen king, to retain that title, while he himself possessed the power, and received a tribute. Northumbria, distracted by intestine divisions, and weary of war, submitted with equal facility to his power, on the same terms; and Egbert thus became the real monarch of all England, although there were during a considerable period titular kings of East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. This great event took place about the year 827, and put an end to the Heptarchy, nearly 400 years after the first arrival of Hengist in this island.

« PoprzedniaDalej »