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From the houses the transition is natural to the families that occupy them, and here the changes made by time are still greater. It is a remark common to other parts of England how rarely the same property is held by the same family for more than two or three generations. From this frequency of change Wiltshire has by no means been exempt. Of its really ancient families few indeed retain in the present day their early possessions. It were vain, of course, to look for the representatives, in any number, of the Barons and Knights of the times of the Plantagenets—the Giffards, Devereuxes, Montforts, Cheyneys, Daunteseys, Bassetts, De la Meres, Mauduits, Sturmys, Beauchamps, or Bonhams. But nearly all the aristocracy of the sixteenth century, Monpessons, Mautravers, Hungerfords, Gorges, Grobhams, Danverses, Ernleys, Pooles, Baynards, Kaynells, Bayntons, Ludlows, Gores, Snells, Moodys, Chafyns, Lamberts, Benetts, Buttons, Norbornes, Sadlers, and Smythes, are gone, or represented only by the female line. We have before us the very full list, called the Withy MS., which combines the visitations of 1565 and 1620. It contains near two hundred and fifty names, of which we can find but fourteen remaining in the county. Further, we have searched the Presentations to Livings by families owning advowsons in Wiltshire down to the year 1700, and find, out of the whole number, none still occupying their ancient seats, except the following few: Popham of Littlecote, Thynne of Longleat, Arundel of Wardour, Herbert of Wilton, Wyndham of Dinton, Fox of Foxley, Estcourt of Newnton, Wroughton of Wilcot, Scrope of Castle Combe, Goddards of Swindon and Cliffe, Penruddock of Compton, Ashe of Langley, Long of Wraxall, Talbot of Lacock, Calley of Burdrop, Grove of Ferns, Duke of Lake, Phipps of Leighton, Howe of Berwick St. Leonard's, Bruce of Tottenham, St. John of Lydiard. By coming down even to 1750, the following only can be added: Astley of Everley, Herbert of Christian Malford, Bouverie of Longford, Howard of Charlton, A'Court of Heytesbury, Eliot of Down Ampney.

Let us pass to the aristocracy of genius. The worthies of Wiltshire of the first class are not so numerous as to detain us long, and yet the county may be justly proud of the list. The Hydes of Hatch have been already mentioned. Sir Christopher Wren was born at East Knoyle, of which parish his father was rector; Philip Massinger at Wilton ; Joseph Addison at Milston; Hobbes, the philosopher of Malmesbury; Sir Michael Foster of Marlborough and Sir James Glanvile of Broad hinton, high-minded lawyers; George Montagu, the ornithologist, owner of Lackham, near Chippenham. Salisbury was the birthplace of Harry Lawes, the musical composer and friend of Milton; and boasts of having been for some time the residence of Fielding, who married the beauty of that place, Miss Cradock, the charming original both of his Sophia and Amelia, and here probably the great novelist commenced his greatest work, ‘Tom Jones.' From its neighbourhood he drew those vivid pictures of rural life which have conferred immortality on the Wiltshire squires and parsons of the last century. There are some alive yet who avouch their recollection of the originals of Western and Allworthy, Trulliber and Parson Adams. The scene is laid in the neighbourhood of Salisbury. Thwackum was the master of the Close school ; Philosopher Square and Lawyer Dowling were wellknown characters living at the time. Salisbury may, indeed, claim to be the birthplace of the modern novel, for the · Vicar of Wakefield' and 'Humphrey Clinker' were also both first printed there.

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But, to come down to our own days, we may speak of the remarkable group of poets whom at one time North Wilts possessed as residents and near neighbours-Moore, Crabbe, and Bowles. Will Sloperton cottage be visited hereafter with the same interest as Horace's Sabine villa ? Bowles's parsonage at Bremhill is beautifully situated, but' as Moore slily records in his Diary, he had a good deal frittered away its beauty with grottos, hermitages, and Shenstonian inscriptions. When company is coming he cries “Here, John, run with the crucifix and missal to the hermitage, and set the fountains going.” “But,' he adds, 'with his genius, his blunders, his absences, he is the most delightful of all existing parsons or poets. Bowles's oddities and simplicity were for a long period a great source of amusement to the neighbourhood.

The manufacturing town of Trowbridge was but a prosaic residence for a poet. But Crabbe studied human character rather than natural scenery. Moreover, it was not till a late period of his life that he settled there. One other notability of recent times

may

be added to this eminent trio, 'the inimitable Sydney Smith,' who for two years held the curacy of Nether Avon, a village hidden in one of the hollows of the South Wiltshire Downs, and where he seems to have undergone the most imminent risk of starvation, both mental and bodily. Once a week, writes Lady Holland, a butcher's cart came over from Salisbury; it was then only he could obtain any meat, and he often dined on a mess of potatoes sprinkled with a little ketchup. Too poor to command books, his only resource was the Squire, and his only relaxation long walks over those interminable plains, in one of which he narrowly escaped being buried in a snow-drift.'

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We have frequently mentioned one Wiltshire antiquary, John Aubrey of Easton Pierce. We have to regret the recent loss of another in the person of John Britton. To both we are under obligation for much of our knowledge of the past history of the county; and, singularly enough, both were natives of the same parish, Kington St. Michael's, near Chippenham. The works of the latter are well known. We cannot dismiss the former, our quaint and amusing gossip, without some further notice.

John Aubrey was born in 1626 on the site of what is now the farm-house of Lower Easton Percy in that parish. By birth a gentleman, he inherited a considerable landed estate, but burdened with debt, and was therefore all his life in embarrassment, and towards its close was indebted for shelter in adversity to the hospitality of the Earl of Abingdon at Lavington-house, and of his friend Sir James Long at Draycot, an original member of the Royal Society, and an acquaintance of Evelyn and Pepys. His manuscripts, memoranda, and collections, relating chiefly to the natural history or antiquities of his own county, have much of the amusing oddity and quaintness of style so popular in the latter's Memoirs. So far as his means allowed he endeavoured to rescue from destruction, and preserve to future ages, such records of the past as were then in existence, by drawing, copying, or describing them, and by urging the collection of ancient manuscripts, of which he says, 'In my grandfather's days the manuscripts

* flew about like butterflies. 'Tis pitie that they should fall into the merciless hands of women, and be put under pies.' And in another place, 'I remember the rector (of Yatton Keynell, where he went to school), Mr. William Stump, great gr. son of Stump the cloathier of Malmesbury, had several manuscripts of the Abbey. He was a proper man and a good fellow, and when he brewed a barrel of special ale his use was to stop the bunghole (under the clay) with a sheet of manuscript. He sayd nothing did it so well, which methought did grieve me then to see.' He was intimate with Thomas Hobbes, who was however much his senior, and whom he describes also 'as a proper man, briske, and in very good equipage; his haire then quite black. Aubrey was a believer in astrology, and drew his own nativity, being, as he says of himself, ' mightily susceptible of fascination. One of his published works, the Miscellanies,' is full of stories of • Fatalities, Omens, Dreams, Apparitions, Voices, Knockings, Magic, Converse with Angels, Ecstacies, Glances of Love and Envy, Second-sight,' &c.-in short, the Night-side of Nature.' And this love of the marvellous somewhat tinctured his record of facts. He left behind, among other manuscripts, two folio volumes. On the Natural History of Wiltshire,' and two more

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a Description of the North Division of the same county. In the preface to the latter work he regrets the continual enclosure of the country thus— In the time of Henry VIII. this county was a lovely champaign, as that about Sherston and Cotswold” (all now inclosed). Every year more and more is taken in.' • There were a world of people maintained then by the plough.' The enclosures of those days were,

it appears,

for the purpose

of converting arable land into pasture--the very opposite to its usual object now. • There were no rates for the

poor

in

my grandfather's days, but for Kington St. Michael (no small parish) the church-ale at Whitsuntide did the business.' 'In every parish was a church-house, to which belonged spits, crocks, and utensils for dressing provision. Here the housekeepers met and were merry, and gave their charity. The young people were there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at the butts, &c., the ancients sitting gravely by and looking on. And all things civil and without scandal.' • Such joy and merriment was every holiday which days were kept with great solemnity and reverence. His Natural History is full of gossiping stories of local interest, but of no scientific value. He is not very complimentary to his fellow-countrymen, of whom he says

• In North Wiltshire (a dirty clayey country) the indiginæ or aborigines speake drawling; they are phlegmatique, skins pale and livid, slow and dull, heavy of spirit; hereabout is but little village or hard labour, they only milk the cowes and make cheese. They feed chiefly on milk meates, which cools their braines too much, and hurts their inventions. These circumstances make them melancholy, contemplative, and malicious; by consequence many lawsuits, and by the same reason they are generally apt to be fanatiques; their persons are plump and feggy; gallipot eyes, some black; but they are generally handsome enough. The county abounds with soure and austere plants, which makes their humours soure and fixes their spirits. In all changes of religion they are more zealous than any other. In Malmesbury Hundred, &c. (the wett clayey parts) there have ever been reputed witches.'

• Contrariwise on the Downes, sc. the south part, where 'tis all upon tillage, and where the shepherds labour hard, their flesh is hard, their bodies strong: being weary after hard labour, they have not leisure to read on or contemplate of religion, but goe to bed to their rest to rise betime the next morning to their labour.'

Though these remarks are no doubt coloured by Aubrey's political preposessions and his disappointed and querulous temper, there was probably much truth in the distinction be draws between the races which occupied the two great natural divisions of the county, the Downs and the Vales. Even now the difference is very perceivable. A traveller will be struck by the stalwart proportions, blue eyes, fair hair, and ruddy complexions of the inhabitants of inany entire parishes in the former district, arguing the purity of their Saxon blood ; while the vale presents a greater mixture of races, and many examples to which Aubrey's description justly applies. Dissent is prevalent there still as in his time. Aubrey says little of the remarkably broad dialect of the peasantry of Wiltshire, which, like their physical aspect, preserves much of Saxon character: v is generally substituted for f, and z for s, as in veather for father, and zun for son, theaze for these ; for the plural s, en is often substituted as in houzen for houses, peazen for pease, &c. Thic, thesen, thuc and themmen, for this, these, that, and those. Some words in frequent use are peculiar, such as a wosbird for a mischievous person, meaning perhapsa woe's bird,' or bird of evil omen; .caddle' for confusion; dummel,' stupid ; 'sprack,' the opposite or lively; lear,' empty ; 'dunch,' deaf; 'frome,' growing, &c. That excellent Wiltshireman and antiquary, Mr. J. Y. Akerman, has printed some amusing specimens of the provincial dialect. They hardly bear transcribing however—the intonation making a full half of their oddity. These provincialisms are now of course fast disappearing under the influence of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, national and other. Boys and girls who have gone through Pinnock's Catechisms are not likely to retain any of them, though we do now and then hear such a phrase addressed, by new comers especially, to the schoolmaster, as 'Oh zur, zur, d'wonte wal

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of old customs and superstitions many yet remain in the purely rural villages, though fast fading, of course, under the influences alluded to above. Mummers still parade occasionally from house to house at Christmas-tide, enacting, in strange costume, a drama founded on the legend of St. George. The characters are usually Old Father Christmas, a Saracen knight, St. George, an Italian doctor, Mince-pie, and Little Jack. The harvest-home supper is also kept in some parts,

with the accompaniment of old songs and proverbs. In the Down villages, a custom still prevails, called the wooset,' of a procession, accompanied by a band of rough music, in honour of any parties suspected of conjugal infidelity. A similar favour, called a “skimmington,' is conferred on a couple where the wife is supposed to beat her husband. At Wootton Basset, one of the cuckingstools' anciently employed for the punishment of scolds is still in existence, though scarcely fit for use. It is an oak chair, bearing the date 1668, fixed upon a pair of wheels and very long shafts. The person seated in the chair was wheeled into a pond, and the shafts being suddenly tilted up, she was, of course,

plunged

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