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COXHEATH.. and poverty, Alms-houses and similar institutions, as they are at once indications of the benevolence of Britons, and of course an ornament to the country,
Yes, in THIS ISLE $0 brave and fair
About five miles from Maidstone, on the road to Cranbrook, lies Cosheath, where, in the year 1779, a great number of troops were encamped ; his Majesty went down to review them.
Close to Coxheath is the parish of HUNTON, the delightful Parsonage of which was for many years the abode of its rector, the late Dr. Porteus, then Bishop of Chester. And here he entertained the celebrated Dr. JAMES BEATTIE, who, in a very entertaining letter to a friend, thus describes it as a kind of terrestrial paradise. A friend, Mr. B. P-e, in May, 1815, drove me to this spot-it had lost none of its beauty.
“ Hunton, near Maidstone, July 14, 1784. "The hot weather made London so disagreeable, that I was obliged to leave it before I
DESCRIPTION OF HUNTON. 483 had seen all my friends. I must make a longer stay when I return thither. I wish I had time and capacity to give you a description of THIS PARSONAGE. It is delightfully situated about half way down a hill fronting the south, about a mile from Coxheath. My windows command a prospect extending southward about twelve miles, and from east to west not less I suppose than forty! In this whole space I do not see a single speck of ground that is not in the highest degree cultivated, for Coxheath is not in sight. The lanes in the neighboạrhood, the hop grounds, the rich verdure of the trees, and their endless variety, form a scenery so picturesque and so luxuriant that it is not easy to fancy any thing finer. Add to this the cottages, churches, and villages, rising here and there among the trees, and scattered over the whole countryclumps of oaks and other lofty trees disposed in ten thousand different forms, and some of them visible in the horizon at the distance of more than ten miles, and you will have some idea of the beauty of HUNTON. The only thing wanting is the murmur of running water; but we have some ponds and clear pools that glitter through the trees, and have a very pleasing effect. With abundance of shade, we have no damp nor fenny ground; and though the country looks at a distance like one continued grove, the trees do not press upon usindeed I do not at present see one that I could wish removed. There is no road within sight, the hedges that overhang the highway being very high, so that we see neither travellers nor car
484 DESCRIPTION OF HUNTON. riages, and indeed hardly any thing in motion, which conveys such an idea of peace and quiet as I think I never was conscious of before, and forms a most striking contrast with the endless noise and restless multitudes of Piccadilly.
“ If I could give you an adequate idea of the way in which we pass our time at HUNTON, I am sure you would be pleased with it. This is a rainy day; and I have nothing else to do at present; why, then, should I not make the trial ?
66 Our hour of breakfast is ten. Immediately before it the Bishop calls his family together, prays with them, and gives them his blessing; the same thing is constantly done after supper, when we part for the night. In the intervals of breakfast, and in the evening when there is no company, his Lordship sometimes reads to us in some entertaining book. After breakfast we separate and amuse ourselves as we think proper till four, the hour of dinner. At six, when the weather is fair, we either walk, or make a visit to some of the clergy or gentry in the neighbourhood, and return about eight. We then have music, in which I am sorry to say that I am almost the only performer. I have got a violincello, and play Scotch tunes, and perform Handel's, Jackson's, and other songs, as well as I can; and my audience is very willing to be pleased.
“ So much for our week days. On SUNDAYS, at eleven we repair to church. It is a small but neat building, with a pretty good ring of six bells. The congregation are a stout, well-featured set of
DESCRIPTION OF HUNTON. 485 people, clean and neat in their dress, and most exemplary in the decorum with which they perform the several parts of public worship. As we walk up the area to the Bishop's pew, they all make on each side a profound obeisance, and the same as we return. The prayers are very well read by Mr. Hill, the curate; and the Bishop preaches. After evening service, during the summer months, his Lordship generally delivers from his pew a catechetical lecture, addressed to the children, who for this purpose are drawn up in a line before him, along the area of the church. In these lectures he explains to them in the simplest and clearest manner, yet with his usual elegance, the fundamental and essential principles of religion and morality, and concludes with an address to the more advanced in years. This institution of the Bishop I greatly admire. When children see themselves so much attended to, and so much pains taken in instructing them, they cannot fail to look upon religion as a matter of importance; and if they do so, it is not possible for them, considering the advantages they enjoy, to be ignorant of it. The catechetical examinations in the church of Scotland, such of them at least that I have seen, are extremely ill calculated for doing good, being encumbered with metaphysical distinctions, and expressed in a technical language, which, to children, is utterly unintelligible, and but little understood even by the most sagacious of the common people. The Bishop told me that he chose to deliver this lecture from the pew, and without putting on lawn 486 DESCRIPTION OF HUNTON. sleeves, that it might make the stronger impression upon the children--having observed that what is delivered from the pulpit, and with the usual formalities, is too apt to be considered, both by the young and the old, as a thing of course. On Sunday evening he sometimes reads to his servants a brief and plain abstract of the Scripture history, somewhat similar to that which was lately published by Mrs. Trimmer, and formerly by Lady Newhaven.
“ In no other district of Great Britain, that I have seen, is there so little the appearance of poverty, and such indications of competence and satisfaction in the countenance and dress of the common people, as in this part of Kent. In this parish there is only one ale-house, the profits of which are inconsiderable. The people are fond of cricket matches, at which there is a great concourse of men, women, and children, with good store of ale, beer, cakes, gingerbread, &c. One was solemnized a few nights ago in a field adjacent to the parish church. It broke up about sun-set with much merriment, but without drunkenness or riot. The contest was between the men of Hunton, and the men of Peckhań, and the latter were victorious!”
In 1787, Dr. Porteus became Bishop of London, upon the death of Lowth; and quitting Hunton, took up his residence at Fulham, where he died, worn out by infirmities, 13th May, 1809, in the 78th year of his age. He lies buried at Sun