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The Natural History of Sutton Coldfield.
mile: At the weft end of the church there is an handfome fquare tower, 60 feet high, in which is a deep peal of fix bells, together with a clock and chimes newly put up by an approved artist in that branch of bufinefs, from the neighbouring town of Birmingham. There is a monument in the church belonging to the family of the Jeffons, (once of note here) put up by the late Sir William Wilson, Knight, an architect in this neighbourhood, in which two bufts appear in a fort of alcove or recefs, which is fuppofed to be difclofed to the fight, by the drawing back of a pair of curtains cut in white marble, with a golden fringe at their extremities. Thefe, though over-looked by the incurious, are remarkable, being fo well defigned in their folds, and executed with fuch an eafy flowing of the drapery as would not have difgraIced a Roubilliac. There are three vaults in the church which are taken notice of for confuming the bodies depofited therein very quickly: In two of them lately opened,corpfes have been found to have been reduced to mere duft, together with the coffins of wood which enclosed them, the interment of which has been within the memory of man: The height of the church yard, and the fandinefs of the foil may contribute to this. The prefent rector is the Rev. Mr Riland, who is likewife the patron of the liv ing. The church doth not ftand due East and Weft, as churches are commonly fuppofed to do, but varies fome degrees from the true points; the Eaft end declining to the North, and the Weft end to the South; whether this proceeds from the ignorance of our ancestors in thofe eafy parts of the mathematics which every builder underftands now-a-days, or whether it arifes from the continual change in the variation of the compafs, I leave others to determine: I have it from good authority that the great Sir Ifaac Newton faid, That he believed the yariation of the compafs at London was in his time not progreffive, but ftationary; fome of the mathematicians who heard of that opinion of his, declared against it, and experience has confirmed their judgment. In the reign of Henry the VIIIth, the aforefaid Bifhop Vefy, a native of this parith, procured a royal charter, conftituting a corporate body, by the name of the warden and fociety of the king's town of Sutton Coldfield to confift of 24 members befides the warden, with a grant
In fituation it is almoft full South of Lichfield, at the distance of about eight measured miles, by which it undoubtedly got its name of Sutton, a contraction of South Town: a remarkably bleak and barren common, which lies directly Weft of it, just out of the bounds of the parish, might probably give it the additional denomination of Coldfield; the air being, upon that heath, (as travellers have declared) as keen and cold as that upon the Highlands of Scotland. The parish is nearly oval in its figure, the longest diameter feven miles, and the breadth four; the face of it is agreeably diverfified with gently rifing hills, and vallies of tolerably fruitful meadows. It is bounded on the North by Shenfon, on the Welt by Barr, on the South by Curdworth, and Afton near Birmingbam, and on the Eaft by Middleton: It contains four hamlets, viz. Maney, Hill, Little-Sutton, and Warmley. In the year 1630 there were 298 houfes in the parish; in 1698 there were 310; in 1721 the number was increased to 360, which is nearly about the number at prefent. I compute the inhabitants at 1800. The register begins in the year 1603. The number of chriftenings for the firft 20 years of the register was 645; the burials during the fame period were 501; the number of christenings for the laft 29 years, (ending at Chrifimas 1761) was 747; the burials 694. The church ftands in the diocefe of Lichfield and Coventry, deanery of Arden, and hundred of Hemlingford; it is dedicated to the holy Trinity, and confifts of a nave, chancel, and two fide ifles; which iles were built in the reign of Henry the VIIIth, as an addition to the old building, by John Harman, alias Vely, Bishop of Exeter. The nave, being very old and decayed in the H foundation, was lately taken down and re-built with a fort of hard fandftone, of which there is a plentiful quarry within the distance of half a (Gent. Mag. Sept. 1762.)
propofe fome queries relating to the natural history and antiquities of different parts of England. I here fend you answers to fome of them with refpect to Sutton Coldfield in Warwickshire, which, however destitute of regularity or ornament, contain nothing but what may be depended upon as fact, being drawn up upon the spot, by one well acquainted with the place.
Great Munificence of Bishop Veley.
again: His burial was further remarkable, in that the floor of the market houfe fell down by the weight of a large affembly of poor people who were gathered together to receive a dole or charity given away in that place upon the day of his funeral; but providentially no lives were loft.
grant to them of the whole manor and
In the park before mentioned is plainly feen the course of Ikenild-fireet, one of the four eminent Roman confular military ways: It is now overgrown with furze and heath, but being high ridged up with ftone and gravel, it hath baffled all the efforts of time or the plough to efface it, and probably will continue unlevelled to the end of the world. Its course here is from N. N. E. to S. S. W. and it is continued without any confiderand from Tinemouth in Northumberland able interruption quite across the ito Winchefer and Southampton, a truly grand work, which will always be a just object of admiration. Some rivulets that take their rife in this park, feed feveral mills built in and near it ; not only for grinding corn, but for boring musket-barrels, polishing metal buttons, making faws, grinding axes, knives, bayonets, aud performing various other operations for the mechanical traders in Birmingham who, having had great numbers of their workmen impreffed, or voluntarily inlifted into his majesty's fervice during this war, have fet their inventions to work to perform by mills many operations which used to employ more hands than can be procured in the latter end of a war, when fo many have been buried in Germany and Canada. The event has rewarded their induftry and ingenuity, and makes the dearth of handicraftsmen lefs felt than otherwife it would be. The streams themselves not being capable of conftantly moving the mills by their common current, refervoirs are made, which yet have the inconvenience of being fometimes overflowed. Almoft a century ago, viz. July 24, 1668, a great food, owing to a fudden rain, flowed over a ftone wall, above ten feet high, which ferved for a mound to a pool close adjoining to the town called Sutton Pool. Two other large pools, of above 20 acres each, called Windley and Bracebridge pools, had their dam heads both broken through by the prefs of water deluging the meadow lands below them, which very large quantity of water falling in the middle of the fummner,
feet deep, in a part of the churchyard where the folid rock is found at the depth of little more than 4 feet; confequently he lies 5 feet deep within the folid ftone: If his defign was not to have his bones difturbed, he probably will obtain it, as nobody will be at the trouble to dig so far after him
Chronicle of an extraordinary Flood.
mer, was then thought fo remarkable
detriment to the land, especially when often repeated, as the barren calx left behind is at beft a ufelefs load upon the good foil, if it does not contribute to canker the roots of whatever grows thereon. In digging wells, after one or two fhallow itrata of mould, gravel, and clay, a hard fand, or crumbling fand ftone is generally continued to the depth of 60 feet, which is the greatest depth we have occafion to go to for water, but the depths are fo variable, that in fome wells the fprings are within five feet of the surface. The water is, in general, foft.
The rent of our beft meadow-land fcarcely exceeds one guinea per acre, the arable land is let at 14 or 155. The method of tillage is ufually to plow up the turf in the fpring, after which the land lies fallow during the Chent is fown, after which three fummer, and at Michaelmas a crop of
more crops are taken fucceffively of barley, oats, or peafe; with the last of these crops is fown clover, or ryegrafs, to bring a turf again, which muft continue for fix, or even ten years before it is broke up again, otherwife the land will be too much impoverished. We have no hop-gar, dens here; faffron is unknown among us, and very fmall quantities of flax or hemp are cultivated. In the unfrequented lanes and old hedges the solanum lethale foliis majoribus grows very common; but no children, or other perfons have been hurt by it lately, whofe efcape may be partly owing to the humane care of fome of our bettermoft neighbours, who deftroy it whenever they meet with it in their walks The colchicum commune, another poisonous plant, alfo grows plentifully in our neighbourhood, but the people never meddle with it. The cicuta vulgaris maculofa is also very plentiful; let me add, that a skilful furgeon of this town who has made ufe of its extract, which has been fo Gftrongly recommended from Vienna as a fpecific in cancerous cafes, has found its fuccefs much inferior to his expectations. Hunting and fhooting are the principal diverfions here, there being a great many foxes, hares, and partridges; the large pools alfo afford wild ducks and teal. And let me finifh my account with obferving, in general, that Sutton Coldfield is univerTally allowed to have a pleasant fituation, an healthful air, its full proportion of all the accommodations of life, and an agreeable neighbourhood; Wik
parish regifter, where the memorial of
which laft circumftance is chiefly ow-
Original Letter to Sir Richard Steele.
We are extremely obliged to our kind Correfpondent for this Account, and should think ourselves happy to receive other favours of the fame kind, which, with a little trouble, would at length produce fuch a biftory of our native country as bas been long defired, and can be procured by no other method.
Letter to Sir Richard Steele, on his Play of the Confcious Lovers: Written at the time of exhibition, but never before publifted.
have fo unlimitted an authority. Now, to make this neceffary, in order to preferve and fupport the character of a virtuous man, and a good fon, is highly injurious to virtue and filial duty, if thefe do not require it.
It is furprising to hear people infift, as they do, on fuch abfolute obedience to parents, especially Whigs, who, in political affairs, profefs to act upon principles fo much more reasonable. How can they who fay (and I think rightly) that the good of the governed is the end of government, and there fore wifely proteft against non-refift ance, and paffive obedience, be fo inconfiftent with themselves, as to introduce thofe principles into families, which they difavow in the ftate? Am I any more obliged to obey a tyrant father, than a tyrant king? If not, why is my obedience to the former made abfolute, and to the latter conditional?
No doubt there are ages of life in which children ought to be fubject to the abfolute commands of their pa rents, and that for this plain reason, becaufe at fuch ages thofe children are not arrived to the proper ufe of their own understanding, but when they are, they ought to be treated accordingly, and no more commanded and corrected (both which fhould cease together) but reafoned with; and if that will not do, what then? How should one reasonable creature treat another who does not fee the force of his arguments Ought he to break his head, or fhould he (as Mr Locke propofes in his Treatife on Education) pray for him ; which is all (he fays) a parent can or ought to do in such a cafe?" It will be no objection to the juftness of this affertion, that the exact time when each child is fit to be treated in this way cannot be determined, any more than it is true that black and white are the fame, because the edges of each may be fo blended, that it will be impoffible to fay where the one begins and the other ends, though at a greater distance from thofe edges the difference is fufficiently diftin guishable; as are virtue and vice in the extremes, how difficult foever it may be to determine the bounds of each precifely.
I fhould not have given you or myfelf, fir, any trouble on this fubject, but that I fear this play is capable of doing a great deal of mifchief, on the account of which I have objected to it For it is with great reluctance that oppole
pinion of the Cofcious Lovers, in general, than myself, or more admires the character of Indiana, in particular, which is, I think, drawn with exqui- E fite kill, She appears to be amiable in the highest degree, as her ftory is very judiciously told, and in the most affecting manner; but it grieves me to fay, what, however, I apprehend to be too juft, that the character of Bevil is ftrained beyond all reafon : You have, I fear, instead of making his cha- F racter proper to be imitated, rendered it fuch as no wife man ought to imitate; fince it is poffible, on his principles, for two perfons of the strictest virtue, perfectly fuited for each other, and in the highest degree fenfible of it, with a competency in their own hands to answer all confequences, and with which they themselves are contented, to be made as miferable as total feparation can be fuppofed to make them, merely because a perfon, who happens to be a parent of one of them, takes it into his head, that he has an abfolute power of commanding (by virtue of that relation) one, who is as much a man, and as capable of reafoning as himself, and a thousand times more intimately concerned in the affair about which he pretends jo
Letter to a Gentleman in the City on the approaching Peace. 405
oppose Sir Richard Steele, because, I fincerely believe, that he defigns to promote the caufe of virtue, not only in this performance, but likewife in all his writings I have ever feen. I believe too, that he has, in many respects, done it effectually, as I doubt not he has in every one aimed at it uprightly: And, I likewife believe, no man could be more concerned to find his defign fruftrated herein than himself, and that if he thought an alteration of any part of his performances would be more fubfervient to fuch his laudable defign, than the vindication of it, he would readily and chearfully make it, as I, for my part, am not only willing, but defirous to be better informed, if I am mistaken.
Yours, &c. X. Y.
conditions are, is not yet made known to the public, but the administration have declared, that the terms now offered, are much more favourable to Britain than thofe that were the foundation of the treaty laft war. As I write not to justify or defend the minifters, I write without any particular information, and think myself not the lefs fit to exprefs the fenfe of an honest man, warm with love to his Crifis, for her intereft, which Faction country, and zealous, at this great and Folly combine to hurt.
I take for granted, that the peace now offered by France and Spain united, is in many refpects better, and in no refpect worfe, than the peace which was fo near being concluded last year, when we had no enemy but C France to contend with. And is not
A Letter to a Gentleman in the City.
AM told that there is a great clamour in the city against the peace. The gentlemen of the city are very much in the right to clamour againit D any thing they think wrong; but they may poffibly be mistaken in their opinion. I dare fay they don't pretend to infallibility, and will hear with patience any man whofe fentiments differ from their's. Although politicians have fhort memories, yet I take it for granted, that every body who talks of public affairs, remembers the beginning and origin of the prefent war. Great Britain entered into a war with France, to put a stop to the encroachments of that nation in North America; and the Western world, as it was the fole caufe, fo it was at first allowed to be the primary object of the war. How we came to change both the object and the theatre of the war I will not take upon me to determine: 'tis fufficient for my purpose to obferve, that after the war has endured for several years upon a plan of expence unheard of, and even incredible, a plan propofed not for continuance, but merely for one vigorous effort; yet the ftate of the German war remains nearly the fame, and we have, notwithstanding our repeated victories, a wolf by the ears.
I acknowledge, with pleafure, that we have prevailed in every other quar- H ter of the world: Our enemies, fufficiently fenfible of this, fue for peace, and offer conditions which the miniftry have so far approved of as to agree to treat upon them. What thefe
this general outline highly fatisfactory till more is known? Is Spain nothing in the adverfe fcale? Is the defence of Portugal no addition to the burthen of the war? If I should adventure to guess at the terms, and enumerate upon report (and many people clamour upon no better authority) the particular advantages of the peace, I fhould be at a lofs to know what the enemies of peace really think advantageous to this country; for their opinion, or at least their language, is to tally changed.
North America, that mighty empire which we fo lately esteemed as the bafis of our trade and greatnefs, is now undervalued and defpifed.
Cape Breton, conquered at a great expence, and extolled in the addreffes of a former day, as a conqueft fo advantageous to us, and fo pernicious to our enemies, hath loft all its confequence.
Senegal, the first place taken from the enemy during a late adminiftration, whofe importance we heard fo much of at that time, is now depreciated as an ufelefs, burthenfome poffeflion: in short, every thing that it is fuppofed we are to keep at the peace, whether in Europe, Afia, Africa, and America, is diminified to nothing; and every thing that it is imagined we are to restore, is magnified without measure.
Is this the voice of truth, or is it the language of Prejudice and Error? Those who maintain, that we ought to keep all that we have conquered, mult certainly believe that France is totally ruined, and unable to support even a languishing and defenfive war: