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245 Then Robin he brought him through the wood, . And set him on his dapple grey, 0! bave me commended to your wife at home, So Robin went laughing away! Nottingham has, in modern times, been famous for political contentions; though latterly, it has enjoyed considerable tranquillity.
Robert White, author of the Ephemeris or Celestial Atlas, died aged 80, in 1773, at his native place Bingham near Nottingham, and in the parish church will be found a monument to his memory. See Bourne's Gazetteer, second edition, an highly useful work to the rising generation.
Leaving the populous town of Nottingham, 'I passed through Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Tamworth, in my way to Birmingham.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch is a tolerable town, and receives its name from the Zouches, its ancient lords, to distinguish it from another Ashby in this county, called Ashby Folvile. It consists of one open street, in which is a neat stone cross that has stood for ages. The town is populous, having a manufactory for stockings. The church is a handsome structure, and there is a meeting for Protestant Dissenters. It once had a castle in which James the First was entertained several days, during which time he was served at table by thirty poor knights clothed in scarlet gowns with golden: chains. During the civil wars Charles the First placed a garrison in it; the parliament, however, besieged it and demolished the battlements, from which time it has fallen into oblivion.
BIRMINGHAM. Tamworth is an ancient town, in a low situation on the river Tame, which at once waters and sup-' plies it with fish. As Ossa, king of Mercia, had once a palace here, and a deep trench surrounds it, we may suppose that in the Saxon times it was both a place of importance and strength. It was plundered by the Danes, but recovered its grandeur previous to the conquest. The present church is a collegiate one, and possesses much beauty. The town-hall, built by Mr. Guy, founder of the celebrated hospital in London, is a noble building, and has its name from him. The town, which has a manufactory of needles, is populous, and among its inhabitants are many dissenters.
In passing through the country I was delighted with the appearance of the approaching harvest :
How full of cheer,
Contented, rise, give thanks, and pass away! HURDIS. : Driving on about sixteen miles further, we reached Birmingham, which has been denominated the toy-shop of Europe. The town is of considerable extent, occupying a large space of ground. It is famous for its manufactures, consisting of all sorts of iron and steel ware, snuff-boxes, buckles, buttons, and a variety of other articles, which are
247 made here in such quantities that they not only supply London, and other capital places in the kingdom, but are also exported to most parts of the world! The town is situated on the side of a hill, and it is said was formerly called Birmicham, from a family of that name, who were benefactors to it. The lower part of it consists of old houses, chiefly inhabited by manufacturers, and from the forges is continually covered with a cloud of smoke. To use the elegant language of Virgil in one of his Eclogues :
Hic focus et tedæ pingues : hic plurimus ignis
Semper, et assidua postes fuligine nigri !
Abound; here black with soot the lintels smoke!
The upper part, however, is handsome, containing a number of regular streets, and a square of elegant buildings. Here are two churches, one of which, in the lower part of the town; is an ancient structure, with a lofty spire. The other is an handsome modern edifice, erected in the reign of Queen Ann, and dedicated to St. Philip. It has a square stone tower adorned with a cupola above, which rises from the turret. Within the tower is a fine peal of ten bells, and a set of musical chimes, which play seven different tunes, that is, one for each day of the week. This town was never incorporated, in consequence of which it is governed .by two constables and two bailiffs. Being open therefore for any person to come and settle there, this circumstance has not only contributed to the increase of the buildings, but to the advancements 248
RIOTS. IN 1791. of trade. Within the course of the last century it has attained to an astonishing degree of prosperity!
In the summer of the year 1791, disgraceful riots broke out in this town, and the outrages of the mob were directed for several days against the dissenters. The celebration of the French Revolution, on the 4th of July, by a few individuals, was made the pretext for these transactions; several of the finest seats, belonging to the dissenters, in and about Birmingham, were plundered and then set on fire; the ruins of some of them still remain, and they are beheld with commiseration. Two meeting-houses also were destroyed, over one of which presided the celebrated Dr. Priestley, who escaping with his life sought refuge in the metropolis. His house and invaluable philosophic apparatus also were consigned to the flames with savage fury. That such scenes should take place in Britain at the close of the eighteenth century, must be ascribed to the implacable malignity of bigotry and superstition,
On the walls of one of the ruined houses I saw, written with chalk, these words, — A lasting shame to Birmingham ! A compensation, however, though inadequate, was made to the sufferers, and a few. of the rioters were executed. An interesting account of the riots has appeared in the Life of William Hutton, written by himself, a most en-. tertaining and original piece of biography.
Dr. Priestley was settled at Clapton, immediately after these riots, but soon emigrated to America,