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passage in Burke's speech on moving his resolutions for a conciliation with America in 1775. Many a spot in the grounds of Oakley Grove bears one or dther of the names of the famous men who used to assemble there. Pope, who " looked upon himself as the Magician appropriated to the place, without whom no mortal can penetrate into the recesses of these sacred shades," * in his letters, frequently refers'_ to the "enchanted forest," and his taste is said to have contributed to the arrangements of it. Besides the associations, it contains many other attractions, such as, a very extended avenue, an architectural combination called Alfred's hall, the ancient cross which formerly stood in Cirencester market-place, and, what is perhaps most interesting, there is in it one of the finest Boman tesselated pavements existing in this country; while the house, though not remarkably handsome, is a large building, and contains some good pictures. Permission to see these objects is readily granted to the stranger.
But we must with our stream proceed onwards. Leaving Cirencester, it runs, a reedy brook, for some distance alongside the Cricklade road, and then by Addington, and South Cerney—a pretty village with a fine old church—to the foot of Hailstone Hill, where, about a mile short of Cricklade, and close to the North Wilts Canal, it unites with the other branch, and they flow on together as the Isis, or, more correctly, as the Thames. The length of the stream which issues from Thames-head to the junction here is about ten miles; the length of the Churn from Seven Springs is about twenty miles.
* Letter to Mr. Digby, 1722.
Cricklade, which our stream leaves a little on the right, is a very uninteresting place. It is dull to look at, dull to live in, and no less dull to talk about. Some of our old writers discovered, or invented, a strange etymology for its name. Along with King Brute there came over to England, they affirmed, a colony of philosophers, who established themselves here—tempted, it may be, by the place, which seemed so little likely to divert their attention from their studies,—though Drayton gives another reason.* The college which they founded became famous for its Greek learning, and hence the town that grew up about it was called Greekfade. About the same time, it is added, there was established, a few miles lower down the river, a rival college, which excelled in Latin scholarship, and gave rise to the town of LatinlaAe. In process of time the colleges, like rival railways in our
* What Drayton says ought to be quoted, at least in a note:—
"Greeklade, whose great name yet vaunts that learned tongue,
Where to great Britain first the sacred Muses sung;
Poly- Olbion, Song 3.
clays, were amalgamated for mutual benefit, and removed to Oxford (or, as Fuller says, "the Muses swam down the stream of the river Isis, to be twenty miles nearer to the rising sun "); and the names of the towns became corrupted into Cricklade and Lechlade. This is as plausible as etymologies -usually are, and is soberly told by a host of our older writers; but others have been suggested more accordant with modern taste. Bishop Gibson thinks that Cricklade is derived from the British cerigwlad, a stony country; other writers believe it to have been compounded from the Saxon Cjiaecca, a brook, and laeddan, to empty: it probably is derived from the position of the town by the river, where a tributary, the Bay, falls into it, lade signifying the mouth of a stream.
Cricklade was plundered by the Danes in A.d. 905, and in 1016 Canute crossed the Thames here with his army; which are the only events history has recorded in which it was concerned, until 1782, when, as a too-rotten-borough, it was put into an anticipative Schedule A—not, however, without a hard Protectionist struggle. It was in consequence of the Cricklade vote that Pitt introduced his Reform Bill. The town has now little business, but still shows traces of its former greater size and prosperity. The church is the only building it contains worth examination. It is large and rather handsome; the east window is a very fine one, and the tower is lofty and of good design. There was, not many years ago, a second church; and formerly the town contained a hospital dedicated to St. John the Baptist, of which some remains still exist.
Although Cricklade has little occasion to boast. either of its own attractions or of the scenery by which it is surrounded, some pretty walks may be found in the neighbourhood, especially towards Highworth, while in the opposite direction is "Windmill-hill, noted all round those parts for the beauty of its prospects. The river for the next half-dozen miles flows at first through flat meads, and then along a rather narrow valley with gentle uplands on each side, that somewhat diversify the way ; but the landscape is not anywhere remarkable, and the stream is shallow and sluggish. Eisey chapel stands on some rising ground on the left, about a mile and a half below Cricklade; a little farther on the right is Water Eaton, and soon after Castle Eaton, where the hills terminate near what is known as " the Butts "—so called no doubt from its having been the spot where the butts were set up for the practice of archery, when the law directed that every Englishman should have his bow and arrows, and that butts should be erected in every township.
Beyond Castle Eaton the scenery is for some distance sufficiently unpicturesque. On the right it is low, and only relieved by the sallows that skirt the river and the cattle that graze in the marshes; while on the left the only objects are a long straight drain, and the high embankment of the canal, that here runs nearly parallel to the river. The village of Kempsford has nothing to detain the rambler; but Inglesham, with its little rustic chapel and neglected churchyard, and the quiet beauty of the neighbourhood, will tempt him to linger for a few minutes.
But by this time our river has considerably increased in size, having received two rather important affluents; the Cole on the Wiltshire side, and the Colne on that of Gloucestershire. The Cole is an inconsiderable brook, and passes by no place of consequence. The Colne is longer, larger, and more important. It rises only a few miles from Seven Springs, and passes by LWithington, Colne St. Denis, and Colne St. Aldwins, and through Fairford—a course of three-and-twenty miles, before it falls into the Thames. Fairford is about three miles from our river, and is worth visiting for its handsome church and the almost unrivalled glass windows which adorn it. The story of these windows, to which the town owes'the church, is somewhat curious. In the reign of Henry VII., John Tame, a wealthy merchant (and a sort of privateer apparently), captured a vessel which was conveying a quantity of painted glass to Rome in order to be placed in a church there. Tame, not liking to part with the glass, and hardly venturing to appropriate to the purpose of gain what had been dedicated to ecclesiastical use, resolved to erect a church of his own as a frame for it; and he accordingly built this at Fairford, where he had large estates. There are twenty-eight of these windows in the church, and they are very remarkable, though they have been greatly mutilated by mischievous and foolish people. They are said to have been painted from the designs of Albert Durer, but that may be doubted.
Lechlade is seen to most advantage as you approach it. The river, which is wide, is spanned by a handsome bridge, beyond which rise the irregular roofs of the houses, crowned by the graceful tower and tall and airy spire of the church, forming altogether a veiy pleasant picture. The town itself possesses nothing noticeable. Three centuries ago Leland described it as "a praty old village;" now