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LAND WE LIVE IN:
, Historical, and Literary Sketch-Book
THE BRITISH ISLANDS,
WITH DESCRIPTIONS OF THEIR MORE REMARKABLE FEATURES AND LOCALITIES.
PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD
EXPRESSLY DRAWN FOR THIS WORK BY W. HARVEY AND OTHER EMINENT ARTISTS,
WITH MAPS AND ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL.
THE MIDLAND COUNTIES AND THE EAST COAST OF ENGLAND.
WILLIAM S. ORR & CO, AMEN CORNER, PATERNOSTER ROW.
This work, originally published by Mr. CHARLES KNIGHT, presents a series of sketches of the LAND WE LIVE In, which unite the easy familiarity of the essay with the graver and more substantial matters of history. The authors have aimed at rendering their work a repertory of the useful, the entertaining, the practical, and the traditional; and while they place before the reader a vivid and animated resumé of living scenes, they have not been unmindful of those which have passed away.
The opening or introductory chapter to this volume takes a rapid glance at the physical features of the British Islands, their great water courses and mountain ranges, and their degrees of heat and cold. The second describes the progress we have made in the construction of our roads, and of the different methods of travelling in Britain, from the time of the Romans to the date of the last improvements upon our Railways.
Sixteen hundred years ago we had direct roads, with bold cuttings, and solid terraces worked in stone and cement, founded on piles where the soil was marshy, raised upon piers where it was necessary to gain elevation; and over these, for five centuries of Roman dominion, moved the legions of that mighty empire,
“In coats of mail and military pride."
In the rude times which succeeded—the strifes of the Heptarchy, the devastations of the Dane, the plunder of the Norman, the struggle between the Crown and the Barons, the Wars of the Roses, and the contests between England and Scotland, -we relapsed into a semi-barbarous state, as regards our highways and ordinary lines of communication; and it was not till the seventeenth century, when Parliament imposed a law for the preservation and improvement of our roads, that we began to adopt a better and really useful method. The ordinary journey to Edinburgh at that period was of six weeks' duration ; and the traveller, as a matter of course, made his will before he started upon such an adventurous exploit. The old pack-horse was then the ordinary medium of conveyance. In process of time, however, the long wagon was started, which was then deemed quite an improvement. To this succeeded the broad-wheel wagon, which united comfort and security, if it did not materially increase the rapidity of travelling. The two and four-horse coaches abridged the distance between the leading points of the country, and rendered locomotion a pleasure, as compared to what it had been previously; then followed the four-in-hand, with its well-appointed arrangements; and, lastly, the rail, which levels all, and knows no distinction of person, except such as can be measured by the most limited and simple formula of £ 8. d.
But the prime feature of the Work consists in the description of the several Localities. The relics and incidents of times gone by are brought into strong relief; while the teeming present, wherever it happens to be largely developed, is elaborately detailed, and its elements of future greatness strikingly indicated. Historical incidents, antiquarian relics, sketches of remarkable events, agricultural, manufacturing, and other industrial features, all crowd upon the scene, and infuse their spirit into the pages devoted to their description.