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(where are two or three encampments), and an examination of the route traversed. Of the stakes themselves, Gale says, “ The wood of these stakes proves its own antiquity, being, by its long duration under the water, so consolidated as to resemble ebony, and will admit of a polish, and is not in the least rotted. It is evident, from the exterior grain of the wood, that the stakes were the entire bodies of young oak-trees, there not being the least appearance of any mark of any tool to be seen upon the whole circumference; and if we allow in our calculation for the gradual increase of growth towards its end, where fixed in the bed of the river, the stakes, I think, will exactly answer the thickness of a man's thigh, as described by Bede; but whether they were covered with lead at the ends fixed in the bottom of the river, is a particular I could not learn.” None of the stakes remain now; the last was removed about ten years ago. They are said to have been capped with metal for convenience of driving, but whether brass or iron, accounts vary.
Since Gale wrote, the greater number of antiquaries have acquiesced in his opinion ; but there have been many dissentients. Petersham, Kingston, and several other places have been fixed on as more probable, chiefly on account of the river being easier to ford, and military weapons having been found in the bed of the river at those places. But none of the weapons found are, I believe, Roman, and though the Romans used auxiliaries taken from friendly tribes belonging to the country they were traversing, yet it must not be forgotten that those tribes were constantly at war among themselves, and that fords would, in the rude system of fighting then in practice, be always desperately defended. It is said, on the authority of the water-bailiff, that the river at Coway Stakes is not now fordable at all, except in very dry summers. But that is far from being decisive that this was not the place which Cæsar's legions forded. The waters then no doubt flowed untrammelled over the adjoining marshes, whereas now they are confined within artificial banks wherever the natural banks are low; weirs and locks have been constructed for modern wants; and to improve the navigation, the river has often been dredged-changes fully sufficient to account for a place being no longer fordable except in dry summers, which nineteen centuries ago was only fordable 66 with great difficulty," and only allowed the “ heads of the soldiers to be seen above water."
Some writers, as Daines Barrington and others, doubt whether Cæsar ever crossed the Thames at all; and Mr. Lysons treats Coway Stakes as unceremoniously as Edie Ochiltree did another Roman memorial,* pronouncing them to be “ neither more por less than the remains of a fishing-weir.” The former need no answer; and the latter certainly seems rather a bold guess, when what Gale said of the stakes is recollected, and it is also remembered that they were in existence when Camden wrote, and are probably those which in Bede's day were regarded as those planted in order to oppose Cæsar's passage. It is at best merely conjectural, but the various probabilities appear to converge so much more towards this, than any other place which has been suggested, that I think we may be fairly
* “ Prætorian here, prætorian there, I mind the bigging o' it.”- Antiquary.
content to look on the matter as being as nearly established as such things usually are, or well can be.
On both sides of the river in this neighbourhood there still exist the traces of several encampments, and some are known to have been destroyed. The largest is on St. George's Hill, in Walton parish; it covers an area of twelve acres, and is connected with another in Oatlands Park: a road runs through it, and the town of Walton has been supposed to owe its name to this vallum. St. George's Camp is now covered with a fir plantation.
We need only notice in passing the long straggling combination of arches called Walton Bridge. It is in fact a sort of double bridge, a second set of arches being carried over a low tract of ground, south of the principal bridge, which crosses the river. According to the popular tradition this marshy tract was the original bed of the Thames ; and the change of the river's course here is mentioned in many books, and in some with considerable embellishment. That most credulous of collectors, Aubrey, has recorded a report, which he had from Elias Ashmole, that when the river changed its bed, a church was “ swallowed up by the waves ;” and a much more recent writer tells us that the tradition states the river to have run sup hill and down valley7 south of Walton town!
Walton is a good-sized busy country-village, without anything remarkable in its appearance. The church is a strange patched affair-extremely old and extremely ugly. The interior is little better, but it contains a good deal that is worth looking at. Several monuments and some brasses are curious or interesting. The showiest monument is a large one to the memory of Lord Shannon, of which Roubiliac was the sculptor. Not the least note-worthy monument is a black marble slab with a florid inscription designed to celebrate the merit and perpetuate the memory of one
"Who not far from hence did dwell,
That cunning man hight Sidrophel,” otherwise William Lilly, otherwise the English Merlin.
This prince of British astrologers ought not to pass without due honour in the place where he dwelt alive, and where he was laid when · dead. The last five-and-twenty years of his life were spent on an estate which he had purchased, called Hersham in Walton, in ease and affluence; but the early part of his career was humble enough. His story, as related by himself, in his Life and Times, is characteristic and amusing; and it contains much curious information relating to the manners of both the middle and higher ranks of society in his day. His parents were decent poor people
living at Dewsbury in Leicestershire, who gave • him such education as they could afford. Growing
tired, as he grew towards manhood, of the penury in which he lived at home, he determined to try his fortune in the wider world of London. His stock in trade was the writing and arithmetic he had acquired in the school of Ashby-de-la-Zouch; to this his father added, he says, “ 20s. to buy him a new suit, hose, doublet, &c.; his doublet was fustian;" and his friends and relations made him up a sum of 10s., which was a great confort to him.” Thus provisioned, he set out for the great city, having first taken dutiful leave of his father, who was confined in Leicester gaol for debt. He started, in company with the Dewsbury carrier, on Tuesday, the 4th of April, 1620, and arrived in London on the following Sunday, at three o'clock in the afternoon. He “ footed it,” he tells us, all the way. Travelling thus was not very expensive in those days, for after “ contenting the carrier and his servants," he had seven shillings and sixpence left of his store. He was taken into the service of the person to whom he was directed to apply, one Gilbert Wright, of Newgate Market, who was “ of no trade or profession, but lived upon his annual rents.” Gilbert could neither read nor write, and he hired William for his scholarship. But besides keeping the accounts and conducting the correspondence of Mr. Wright, our William had multifarious employments. “My work,” he says, “ was to go before my master to church; to attend my master when he went abroad ; to make clean his shoes ; sweep the streets; help to drive bucks when we washed; fetch water in a tub froin the Thames I have helped to carry eighteen tubs of water in one morning; weed the garden, scrape trenchers, and so forth. If I had any profession, it was of this nature. I should never have denied my being a tailor, had I been one,”—as had been inaliciously insinuated by some of
“ Those wholesale critics, that in coffee
Houses cry down all philosophy". and philosophers, when William wrote himself gentleman and student in astrology." His master before he died settled on him an annuity of twenty pounds : and his mistress cast her eyes on him as a likely lad to console her for the loss of her spouse. She accordingly threw out some gentle hints to her