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Viator. I thank you, Sir, and present you my service again, and to all the honest brothers of the angle.
PlSCATOR. I'll pledge you, Sir: so, there's for your ale, and farewell. Come, Sir, let's be going, for the sun grows low, and I would have you look about you as you ride: for you will see an odd country, and sights that will seem strange to you.
PlSCATOR. So, Sir, now we are got to the top of the hill out of town, look about you, and tell me how you like HA*' the country.
Viator. Bless me! what mountains are here! are we not in Wales?
Piscator. No, but in almost as mountainous a country; and yet these hills, though high, bleak, and craggy, breed and feed good beef and mutton above ground, and afford good store of lead within.
Viator. They had need of all those commodities to make amends for the ill landscape: but I hope our way does not lie over any of these, for I dread a precipice.
Piscator. Believe me, but it does; and down one, especially, that will appear a little terrible to a stranger; though the way is passable enough, and so passable that we who are natives of these mountains, and acquainted with them, disdain to alight.
Viator. I hope, though, that a foreigner is privileged to use his own discretion, and that I may have the liberty to intrust my neck to the fidelity of my own feet, rather than to those of my horse, for I have no more at home.
Piscator. 'Twere hard else. But in the meantime, I think 'twere best, while this way is pretty even, to mend our pace, that we may be past that hill I speak of, to the end your apprehension may not be doubled for want of light to discern the easiness of the descent.
Viator. I am willing to put forward as fast as my beast will give me leave, though I fear nothing in your company. But what pretty river is this we are going into?
PlSCATOR. Why this, Sir, is called Bentley brook,* and is full of very good Trout and Grayling, but so encumbered with wood in many places as is troublesome to an angler.
Viator. Here are the prettiest rivers, and the most of them, in this country that ever I saw: do you know how many you have in the country?
* A narrow swift stream, two miles beyond Ashbourn, in the present highroad, Lut considerably nearer to it in the old road.
PlSCATOR. I know them all, and they were not hard to reckon, were it worth the trouble: but the most considerable of them I will presently name you. And to begin where we now are, for you must know we are now upon the very skirts of Derbyshire, we have, first, the river Dove, that we shall come to by-and-by, which divides the two counties of Derby and Stafford for many miles together, and is so called from the swiftness of its current, and that swiftness occasioned by the declivity of its course, and by being so straitened in that course betwixt the rocks, by which (and those very high ones) it is, hereabout, for four or five miles, confined into a very narrow stream : a river that from a contemptible fountain, which I can cover with my hat, by the confluence of other rivers, rivulets, brooks, and rills, is swelled, before it fall into Trent, a little below Eggington, where it loses the name, to such a breadth and depth, as to be in most places navigable, were not the passage frequently interrupted with fords and weirs; and has as fertile banks as any river in England, none excepted. And this river, from its head for a mile or two, is a black water, as all the rest of the Derbyshire rivers of note originally are, for they all spring from the mosses; but is in a few miles' travel so clarified by the addition of several clear and very great springs, bigger than itself, which gush out of the limestone rocks, that before it comes to my house, which is but six or seven miles from its source, you will find it one of the purest crystalline streams you have seen.*
Viator. Does Trent spring in these parts?
PlSCATOR. Yes, in these parts; not in this county, but somewhere towards the upper end of Staffordshire, I think not far from a place called Trentham; and thence runs down, not far from Stafford, to Wolseley Bridge, and, washing the skirts and purlieus of the forest of Needwood, runs down to Burton in the same county; thence it comes into this, where we now are, and, running by Swarkeston and Dunnington, receives Derwent at Wildon; and, so, to Nottingham; thence, to Newark; and, by Gainsborough,
* Between Beresford Hall and Ashboum lies Dove Dale, whose crested cliff* and swift torrents are again noticed by Cotton in bis " Wonders of the Peak." Through this singularly deep valley the Dove runs for about two miles, changing its course, its motion, and its appearance perpetually; never less than ten, and rarely so many as twenty yards in width ; making a continued noise by rolling over or falling among loose stones. The rocks which form its sides are heaved up in enormous piles, sometimes connected with each other, and sometimes detached ; some perforated in natural cavities, others adorned with foliage ; with here and there a tall rock, having nothing to relieve the bareness of its appearance but a mountain-ash flourishing at the top. The grandeur of the scenery is probably unrivalled in England.—E.
to Kingston-upon-Hull, where it takes the name of Humber,* and thence falls into the sea: but that the Map will best inform you.
Viator. Know you whence this river Trent derives its name?
PlSCATOR. No, indeed; and yet I have heard it often discoursed upon : when some have given its denomination from the forenamed Trentham, though that seems rather a derivative from it; others have said it is so called from thirty rivers that fall into it.t and there lose their names; which cannot be, neither, because it carries that name from its very fountain, before any other rivers fall into it: others derive it from thirty several sorts of fish that breed there; and that is the most likely derivation : but be it how it will, it is doubtless one of the finest rivers in the world, and the most abounding with excellent Salmon, and all sorts of delicate fish.
Viator. Pardon me, Sir, for tempting you into this digression: and then proceed to your other rivers, for I am mightily delighted with this Discourse.
PlSCATOR. It was no interruption, but a very seasonable question; for Trent is not only one of our Derbyshire rivers, but the chief of them, and into which all the rest pay the tribute ot their names, which I had, perhaps, forgot to insist upon, being got to the other end of the county, had you not awoke my memory. But I will now proceed. And the next river of note, for I will take them as they lie eastward from us, is the river Wye: I say of note, for we have two lesser betwixt us and it, namely, Lathkin and Bradford; of which Lathkin is, by many degrees, the purest and most transparent stream that I ever yet saw, either at home or abroad, and breeds, it is said, the reddest and the best Trouts in England: but neither of these are to be reputed rivers, being no better than great springs. The river Wye, then, has its source near unto Buxton, a town some ten miles from hence, famous for a warm bath, and which you are to ride through in your way to Manchester: a black water, too, at the fountain, but, by the same reason with Dove, becomes very soon a most delicate clear river, and breeds admirable Trout and Grayling, reputed by those who, by living upon its banks, are partial to it, the best of any: and this, running down by Ashford, Bakewell, and Haddon, at a town a little lower, called Rowsley, falls into Derwent, and there loses its name.J
* Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name.—Milton. , t Trent, who, like some Earth-born giant spreads His thirty arms along the indented meads.— Ibid. \ By this it appears that there are two rivers in England that bear the name of Wye: the former Wye, occasionally mentioned in this work, has, as well as the Severn, its The next in order is Derwent, a black water too, and that not only from its fountain but quite through its progress, not having these crystal springs to wash and cleanse it which the two forementioned have, but abounds with Trout and Grayling, such as they are, towards its source, and with Salmon below. And this river, from the upper and utmost part of this county, where it springs, taking its course by Chatsworth, Darley, Matlock, Derby, Burrow-Ash, and Awberson, falls into Trent, at a place called Wildon; and there loses its name. The east side of this county of Derby is bounded by little inconsiderable rivers, as Awber, Eroways, and the like, scarce worth naming, but trouty too; and further we are not to inquire. But, Sir, I have carried you, as a man may say, by water, till we are now come to the descent of the formidable hill I told you of (at the foot of which runs the river Dove, which I cannot but love above all the rest); and therefore prepare yourself to be a little frighted.
Viator. Sir, I see you would fortify me that I should not shame myself: but I dare follow where you please to lead me. And I see no danger yet; for the descent, methinks, is thus far green, even, and easy.
PlSCATOR. You will like it worse presently, when you come to the brow of the hill: and now we are there, what think you?
Viator. What do I think? why, I think it the strangest place that ever, sure, men and horses went down; and that, if there be any safety at all, the safest way is to alight.
PlSCATOR. I think so too, for you who are mounted upon a beast not acquainted with these slippery stones: and though I frequently ride down, I will alight too to bear you company and to lead you the way. And, if you please, my man shall lead your .. horse.
Viator. Marry, Sir! and thank you too: for I am afraid I shall have enough to do to look to myself: and with my horse in my hand should be in a double fear, both of breaking my neck, and my horse falling on me, for it is as steep as a penthouse.
PlSCATOR. To look down from hence it appears so, I confess: but the path winds and turns, and will not be found so troublesome.
head in the Pliolimmon hill, on the borders of Montgomery and Cardiganshire : from whence, as its Latin name, Vaga, imports, wandering through part of Brecknockshire, it, near the Hay, enters Herefordshire, and at Mordiford, within four miles of Hereford, receives the Lug ; from thence, passing on to Ross, it enters Monmouthshire, and falls into the Severn below Chepstow.
It abounds with that small species offish called Last-springs, and also with Grayling.
And here it may be necessary to remark, that the names of Avon, Ouse, Stoure, and snmc others, are common to many rivers in England, as that of Dulas is to numbers in Wales. See Notes on the Polyotoion, Song the sixth.—E.
Viator. Would I were well down, though! Hoist thee! there's one fair 'scape! these stones are so slippery I cannot stand! yet again! I think I were best lay my heels in my neck and tumble down.
PlSCATOR. If you think your heels will defend your neck, that is the way to be soon at the bottom. But give me your hand at this broad stone, and then the worst is past
Viator. I thank you, Sir, I am now past it, I can go myselt What's here? the sign of a bridge? Do you use to travel with wheelbarrows in this country?
PlSCATOR. Not that I ever saw, Sir; why do you ask that question?
Viator. Because this bridge certainly was made for nothing else: why! a mouse can hardly go over it: 'tis not two fingers broad.
PlSCATOR. You are pleasant, and I am glad to see you so; but I have rid over the bridge many a dark night.
VIATOR. Why, according to the French proverb, and 'tis a good one, among a great many of worse sense and sound that language abounds in, Ce que Dieu garde est bien garde", " They whom God takes care of are in safe protection :" but, let me tell you, I would not ride over it for a thousand pounds, nor fall off it for two: and yet I think I dare venture on foot, though, if you were not by to laugh at me, I should do it on all four.
PlSCATOR. Well, Sir, your mirth becomes you, and I am glad to see you safe over, and now you are welcome into Staffordshire
Viator. How, Staffordshire! What do I there, trow? there is not a word of Staffordshire in all my direction.
PlSCATOR. You see you are betrayed into it, but it shall be in order to something that will make amends; and 'tis but an ill mile or two out of your way.
VIATOR. I believe all things, Sir, and doubt nothing. Is this your beloved river Dove? 'Tis clear and swift, indeed, but a very little one.
PlSCATOR. You see it, here, at the worst: we shall come to it anon again, after two miles' riding, and so near as to lie upon the very banks.
Viator. Would we were there once: but I hope we have no more of these Alps to pass over.
PlSCATOR. No, no, Sir, only this ascent before you, which you see is not very uneasy, and then you will no more quarrel with your way.