Early on a spring morning in 1764 William Gilpin, headmaster of Cheam School in Surrey, accompanied by his brother Sawrey, drawing-master at the school, embarked on the Thames at Windsor to explore the river as far as London, about forty-two miles away by water.
We may suppose that bargemen rowed or sailed their wherry because the brothers were to spend the day from dawn to dusk 'taking a view' of the Thames in words and pictures: William making notes on the riverside scenery in a memorandum book, Sawrey sketching in pencil objects of interest on the banks of the river.
Gilpin never published his Thames Tour.
He was habitually cautious about publishing, and the tour remained incomplete — he had planned to navigate the river from Oxford to the sea to complete a volume of Thames scenery.
He said of himself: "During the summer vacation from Cheam School, Surrey, every year at least after his circumstances became easy, William Gilpin used to take a journey into some part of England.
His great amusement from his childhood was drawing; a love for which he inherited from his father, and grandfather.
And his pleasure on these journeys was to make remarks on the face of the country in a picturesque light; & to take sketches of such scenes as most pleased him.
A number of these remarks, and sketches he brought home from each journey in well filled memorandum books."
"I have often thought, that if a person wished particularly to amuse himself with picturesque scenes, the best method he could take, would be to place before him a good map of England; and to settle in his head the course of all the chief rivers of the country.
These rivers should be the great directing lines of his excursions.
On their banks he would be sure, not only to find the most beautiful views; but would also obtain a compleat system of every kind of landscape."
I have always thought the most beautiful scenery of a country was to be found upon the banks of its rivers; and for this reason have recommended, in my picturesque works, a search after this kind of scenery to all lovers of landscape.
Some years ago I proposed to take a view in this way, of the Thames; which being near me, allowed me the opportunity of recommencing my examination at different times of leisure.
The first part of the scheme was to navigate the river, and fix the principal points on it's banks. These would remain as a kind of landmarks," from which the appearance of the river from the land might afterwards be examined; and any thing remarkable in its neighbourhood might be brought within a picturesque survey.
With this view, in the spring of the year 1764, I engaged my brother, Mr. Sawrey Gilpin, to spend a day with me in navigating a part of the Thames; the whole of which we were to compleat by degrees.
It was my office to make remarks, while he furnished sketches.
These sketches were afterwards to be turned into finished drawings; and the whole, when compleated, was to be formed into a volume of Thames-scenery. But the scheme went no farther than the following fragment, which contains only a voyage from Windsor to London.
The few drawings, and sketches, that were made, are here exhibited nearly in their original form.
The Thames takes it's rise in the high grounds of Gloucestershire, called Cotswolds.
From hence it passes in an unmarked, ambiguous channel (for it is not always distinguishable from it's tributaries) into Oxfordshire.
Having been augmented. a little before it reaches Oxford with several considerable streams, and at Oxford with the Isis, it takes now a full, determined course, and begins to be considered as a river of consequence.
Till it arrive at Oxford therefore, we shall pass it unnoticed; but taking it up here, we shall divide it's future course into 3 great parts — from Oxford to Windsor — from thence to London — and from London to the sea. From Oxford to Windsor the character of the Thames is rural.
For though in this part of it's course, it visits some towns of consequence, as Abingdon, Wallingford, Reading, Henley, and Marlow, yet as it passes chiefly through meadowlands, and scenes of cultivation it may assume the character of a rural river.
Soon after it leaves Windsor, it takes a new appearance.
From being a rural river, it's banks are richly adorned with villas.
Gilt barges, and pleasure-boats are seen in different parts; and it displays everywhere an air of high improvement, expense, and splendor.
As it leaves London, it's character changes again.
It's broad, and bleak shores begin now to form bays, and shoot into distant points.
They are forsaken by the gay villas, which stood thick upon it's higher stream; and it's vast, and oozy waters, having now lost all power of reflecting objects, and indeed having nothing from their banks, worth reflecting, glide only, as the tide ebbs, and flows, past naked villages, and smoaky fish-towns.
It's light skiffs are changed into large ships, both of force, and burden; and it becomes intirely a naval, and commercial river.
Greenwich. and Woolwich are, no doubt, great scenes; and there are a few others; but I speak only of the general character of the river in this part.
Part the first: From Oxford to Windsor; not executed.
Part the Second: From Windsor to London.
As we rowed from Windsor, Eton college chapel afforded our first scene.
It's retrospect appears with great advantage from the river, though it is somewhat disproportioned to the landscape.
It becomes not so much an appendage. as a portrait.
In this light it should be considered.
I know not where a portrait of Eton college could be taken with more advantage.
The simplicity of it's appendages give a consequence to the object, with which nothing should interfere.
As the river winds round Windsor, we had several retrospect views of the castle; none of which are very interesting.
The parts are too much broken; and the towers appearing generally of an equal height, in so long a range of building, are displeasing.
None of them rises so high above the rest as to form an apex to the whole.
Those numbered 2 and 6 are the best.
In the midst of these views of Windsor-castle, we have a pleasing retrospect of Eton-college, which here makes a good object in a distance, and might be formed, with a few proper decorations, into a pleasing landscape.
A wall on the left of the picture has rather a formal appearance, but if this sketch were finished, the wall might either be removed; or broken with trees and brushwood, so as to destroy the deformity.
Soon after Windsor-park unfolds itself on the left.
Here also we have the nuisance of a wall; but the trees, which hang over it, add a richness, and variety to this side of the river.
Having now left Windsor far behind, we pass through a flat, uninteresting country, without any object to adorn it.
Some countries can maintain their own dignity, without borrowing the aid of any artificial object.
A grand rocky scene — a view into a forest under some happy circumstance — or a winding sea-coast, with it's beetling shores — are of this kind.
But in a flat country like this, especially when seen from the bed of a river, some little object is generally necessary to concentrate the view.
Datchet bridge was the first object we met with, in this flat country, which, though of little importance in itself, might be formed, with good management, into a tolerable picture.
A point of land shot out into the river, and the bridge was seen beyond it.
The point of land was occupied by a few cattle standing in the water, which were a great addition to the scene.
Passing under the bridge, we came soon in view of old Windsor;
and soon after sailed under Cooper's hill, a station celebrated in poetry for the objects it commands, and for the woody scenery it affords, in some parts, as a foreground: but deserving of little praise as an object seen from the water.
As the river unfolds, Ousley, and Beaumont lodge present themselves;
and then St. George's hill, with Runymede extended at it's foot.
But it is a landscape of little value, unless you possess your mind with the appropriate ideas of that celebrated scene,
Where England's ancient barons, clad in arms,
And stern with conquest, from their tyrant king
Then rendered tame, did challenge, and secure
The charter of her freedom -
The scene itself is somewhat improved by an island, opposite to Runimede, in which, it is supposed king John signed the great charter, while the barons were assembled, and incamped on the meadow before him.
The view, poor as it is, appears to most advantage, where you see the tower of Egham-church rising at the point, where the island, (of which a point only is seen) and St. George's hill intersect.
Large, handsome houses begin now to croud every where on the sight; and the river takes more, and more a character of splendor.
We pass Egham.
We pass Stains.
Every rural idea is vanished.
Nothing appears, but the works of man.
The simplicity of nature is gone: the grandeur of it we never had.
The river passes through all this district, as Polidore Virgil has just observed, 'mirâ lenitate '; which is only another expression for the extreme flatness of this part of the country.
We have, here and there, a few trees; with buildings, and towers of churches intermixed: but they form into no composition; and of what may properly be called Landscape we have nothing.
At St. Anne's hill, (which in a dearth of objects rather attracts this eye)
and about Laleham, a few traces of the country, such as it is, were restored: but they soon vanished.
Here we were interrupted by a herd of cows swimming across the river:
and an inquiry found that the chief part of the pasturage belonging to the farmers of Laleham lies on the opposite side of the water.
The cows therefore are taught from their calf-hood, to swim across the river, which they do very punctually, morning and evening, to be milked.
In the evening they are in the same order, and with the same regularity they return to their pastures.
Sometimes the water is so low, as to allow them to wade; and sometimes so much swollen, as to confine them at home.
A little below Laleham, stood once the ruins of Chertsey abbey.
Not the least trace of it now remains.
In countries less inhabited, a rood, or two of land is no object; and in such places we sometimes meet with the picturesque ruins of a Gothic abbey.
But we are not to expect them on the banks of the Thames, where every foot of land is turned to account; and where new buildings so much abound, that they dispossess every thing, that has the form of ruin.
Instead of a ruin therefore at Chertsey, our only object was a bridge.
In this village the celebrated Abraham Cowley spent his latter life.
The former part of it he had spent in supporting the royal cause, during the civil wars, as far as he was able.
When the country became settled, he retired, at the age of 40, to this village; from whence nothing could again draw him, (though he had powerful patrons) into the bustle of the world.
Virgil's Georgia, which he had always in his hands, inlivened his favourite pursuits of husbandry, and poetry.
Ingenious Cowley! courtly, though retired:
Though stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent bowers,
Not unemployed; but finding rich amends
For a lost world, in solitude, and verse.
Near Chertsey the passage of Cowey stakes was pointed out to us, where Caesar is supposed to have crossed the Thames in his march out of Kent.
This part of the river takes its name from the stakes, which the natives drove into it, to stop the progress of the Romans.
Here the Thames receives the Wey, from whence the town of Weybridgc takes it's name.
Soon after the woods of Oatland-park unfold themselves, stretching along an extensive reach of the river on the right.
They form no landscape; but give some variety in a dearth of objects.
Walton bridge a little below Oatlands, strikes us with a singular appearance.
It is one of the most beautiful, and curious structures of the kind perhaps in Europe.
It consists of one vast arch, larger than the Rialto at Venice; and of two smaller.
It is constructed of timber; and in so artificial a manner, that any decayed piece may easily be taken out, without endangering the rest.
At each end are several small stone-arches, to carry off the overflowing of the river.
The whole is a very magnificent object of its kind; and in some points of view, where good contrasts can be obtained, it is picturesque.
From hence, we passed the village of Sunbury,
where Lord Pomfret has just built a grand house which makes a handsom appearance from the river.
The village of Hampton opens next.
Here Mr. Garrick has built an elegant mansion.
His garden runs down to the river, which is greatly adorned, in this part, by a temple he has raised to the genius of Shakespear.
When we saw it, it was under the circumstance of a grand effect of light, which set it off to great advantage.
Hampton-court is seen over the park-wall in a long line of perspective — too long for any object of that kind without a break.
At the same time, the perspective takes off in part the deformity, which would have appeared, if this wall had been seen in front.
It is assisted also by throwing half the wall into shade.
A little lower the pavilions in these gardens come in sight; but with little more picturesque beauty.
Here the Mole enters the Thames;
and near the junction stands Thames Ditton;
about which some of the views are not unpleasing; where the buildings, and wood are well contrasted.
On the opposite side of the river the woods of Hampton-court add greatly to the scene.
Here we were entertained with a very curious appearance — that of a rainbow compleatly circular.
One half was formed exactly across the river; and the pool, being clear, and stagnant, reflected the other half in colours, almost as brilliant, as the reality.
I mention not however this circumstance in a picturesque light.
A rainbow, in it's simplest form, is too illustrious an object to be introduced in painting; though I have often seen it, but never judiciously, attempted.
Kingston makes a good appearance from the water, going off in perspective to the bridge.
Richmond hill, though not a more animated piece of distant landscape, than those hills we have already seen, gives some merit to the view of Kingston by forming a back-ground to it.
A little below Kingston lies Teddington, where we first met the tyde — at least an hundred miles from the sea; which Camden supposes to be a greater distance, than the tyde flows up any other river in Europe.
Camden however supposes it to flow as high as Kingston, which it very rarely does; though its effects, I believe, have sometimes been seen as high as Stains.
The great flatness of the country, through which the Thames passes, is the cause of the sea's ascending so high.
When a river falls precipitate into the sea, the tyde is presently choked.
Few villages, on the banks of the Thames, make a better appearance than Twickenham.
It's first opening is beautiful; and the richness of it's villas. though not picturesque, is amusing.
Villa after villa, through a long reach, unfold themselves to the eye.
Among these Mr. Pope's with it's little lawn, and two weeping willows hanging over the river, is in itself not an unpleasing object; but from the ideas it excites, will always be considered as an interesting one.
As we leave Twickenham reach it's closing scene might, with a little embellishment, be formed into a good river-view.
A point of land shoots out into the river, on the left, adorned with lofty trees.
On the right Lord Dysart's park extends far into the landscape; and beyond it Richmond hill rises, though very modestly, in the distance.
But among all the villas of this neighbourhood, Lady Suffolk's, which we sail past, on the left, a little below Twickenham, makes the best appearance from the river.
It stands in a woody recess, with a fine lawn, descending to the water, and adorned with wood well-disposed.
But we were here caught in a heavy shower, which prevented our taking a sketch of it.
Richmond hill, which we now approached, is a celebrated scene;
but like the other rising grounds of this country, it is more remarkable for the various objects it commands, than as an object itself from the water.
On the banks of the Wye it would scarce be considered as rising ground.
In this flat country the want of objects gives some consequence to every little elevation.
And yet the woody part of it is not devoid of beauty.
That part, which looks towards London, is almost a continued town, and of course disagreably chequered with brick, and tile.
The retrospect of it is the best view it exhibits.
It is rural, and not unpleasant.
As we still approach London, the banks of the river, which are in many places overspread with buildings, introduce us gradually to the capital.
Yet, here, and there, if we are so fortunate as to catch the right point, as we glide past, the church and houses of some of these villages are so disposed as to make tolerable views.
We had such a view at Thistleworth [Isleworth] where a few large trees shooting out on the right, threw the church, and village into a pleasing distance.
Leaving Thistleworth on the left, and the woods of Shene, and Richmond on the right, we entered Sion reach; where the river makes so magnificent an appearance, as to turn it's distant banks into mere threads of country.
Sion house is a large, square building, which seen unbroken by wood, has but a bad effect.
Where part of it is hid, you see it to more advantage.
The opening to it is pleasing.
The scenery also of Richmond gardens, on the right, assist in making this part of the river beautiful.
Their lawns, and woods extend to the water's edge.
The river too is here a noble bay; and when we draw near the right hand shore, and can get such a foreground, as we had at Thisselworth, we may have a good view.
Such a one we had towards Brentford, when we obtained a foreground from some of the lofty trees of Richmond gardens.
We next passed under Kew-bridge, and a little below had a grand expanse of water at Stand on the Green, and another at Mortlack.
There is grandeur in these vast surfaces of water; but little beauty.
They should have proper accompaniments: these had none.
The village of Chiswick appears next: but Lord Burlington's elegant villa is not seen from the water, nor does any thing here attract the eye.
In this part of the river buildings are so multiplied, on one side, or the other, that they have the appearance of a vast street.
At Barn elms we have again a short view of the country; and when we get a few trees on the right, near the shore, we have sometimes a good river view.
We had a view of this kind at Putney.
But when we get nearer Putney, where it is joined to Fulham by a bridge, the two villages, thus united, make only a formal appearance.
A little below Fulham-bridge, Wandsworth reach has more the form of a vast lake, than any part of the river we had yet seen; but still without any accompaniments.
The objects in the removed part of it, though many of them are in themselves large, are diminished to points.
Leaving Battersea on the right, we struck over towards Chelsea, to get the best view of that noble reach, which shews the grandeur of the river to much advantage.
But we were tired with seeing so many of these vast surfaces of water without appendages.
Genuine lakes, the produce of a rough country, are generally confined by mountains; which, though the surface of the water be large, still make a grand boundary.
They afford also great variety of outline: but the river-lake, in a flat country, is seldom more, than a mere thread of distance, dotted by a few obscure objects.
The grand lakes of America, and of other parts of the world, are often in this style.
The surface of water is immense: the boundary unequal.
In one part of Chelsea reach, where the Thames forms a curve, the country makes it's last struggle for existence.
The town begins now apace to thicken.
Vast manufactories pouring out volumes of condensed smoke — scenes of amusement, Ranelagh on one side, and Vauxhall on the other — row, after row, of well-built houses — wharfs with cranes, and all the apparatus of landing goods — innumerable boats plying from shore to shore — gilt barges, lying moored, ready for schemes of pleasure; and barges of burden landing their various commodities from the country — hulks of ships breaking up for old timber — and a variety of other objects, particularly a vast cloud of heavy atmosphere — all proclaim our entrance into some immense scene of throng, bustle, and business.
What astonishment would it excite in an ancient Briton, rising from his grave, to see all these wonderful transmutations of objects.
What! he would cry, is this busy, populous river the silent stream, which I have so often crossed in a simple raft?
Does this multitude of houses now occupy the room of those forests, where I have so often hunted the stag and the boar?
It is surely all inchantment.
We had inchantments amongst us.
I have myself often seen trees rise in a foggy morning, where no trees stood before.
I have seen a house carryed many leagues in the space of a night.
But such wonderful transmutations as these were never heard of.
Our posterity are certainly much greater proficients in all the arts of necromancy, than we were.
As the river winds from Chelsea reach, the whole city of London begins to open.
Lambeth towers first appear.
Beyond Lambeth, on the right, St. Paul's, at a distance, rises faintly through the smoke.
Westminster bridge next discloses itself, arch after arch.
Spires and towers begin soon to croud upon the view; till by degrees, the whole city appears — a view perhaps the most magnificent, that brick, and stone ever conspired to create.
The clouded atmosphere, which hangs over London, has often a very picturesque effect.
A morning-sun contending with so vast a body of vapour, and struggling between light, and darkness, is as grand, as it is beautiful.
The many gradations also which it exhibits of light and shade blending into each other, abound with picturesque ideas.
An evening sun often produces similar effects: but as it is not attended with the haziness of a morning-sun, it wants one of it's most picturesque appendages.
But we saw none of these effects.
The day had been showery; and now, as evening set in, the sky was overspread with that sort of gloom, which foreboded a wet night.
The atmosphere therefore being of the same hue with the smoaky vapours, which hung over London, the whole assumed one uniform, dusky tint.
Having thus finished our voyage, on discussing the various circumstances of it, we recollected many things that were amusing; though few, that were picturesque.
The water, in general, is grand; and the intricacies in it occasioned by islands (or aits, as they are called) which we frequently met with, are often pleasing.
But the banks are everywhere low; and although they never admit the country, they seldom form a boundary to the river worth notice.
If we wish to see what we lose by shutting out the country (which is not often of much value) we may land at any of the bridges, and from the middle of it, or from some other elevated point, we may at least see the kind of country we pass.
At Fulham bridge, for instance, the boundaries of the river, both above, and below, are of no value; but the little elevation, which do even the bridge gives us, presents a very pleasing view of its kind, on each side of it.
The wood, in general, along the banks of the Thames is but ordinary.
It is thinly scattered, and seldom unites in any pleasing combination.
In many places it consists, through the space of several miles, of pollard willows.
Nor do the ornamented villas on the banks of the river, afford much real beauty to the scene.
Many of them, no doubt, are decorated with taste; but this does not often appear from the river; and in general taste appears to be supplied with expence.
The villages seem to be the greatest ornaments on the banks of the Thames.
They are commonly adorned with the towers of churches, which have a good effect at the end of many of the smaller reaches of the river.
Bridges also, of which there are many, are often pleasing objects; especially when they happen to be properly introduced and in the neighbourhood of some woody scene.
If indeed we had landed, and taken a nearer view of the various objects we met with on the banks of the Thames. particularly the villas, many of which, no doubt, are laid out with taste, we might have continued our description to a great length.
Some of them are remarkable for the pictures, and curiosities they contain, as Strawberry hill in particular:
others for plantations of rare trees, as in Governor Ord's garden you see one of the noblest nut pines in England — and most of them are remarkable for the beautiful views they present of the river, where scenes of peculiar beauty have generally been sought for.
With beauties of this kind we might have filled volumes, instead of pages.
But we meant not to interrupt our voyage, with any objects, which did not arise casually in our descent through the river, leaving a view of what was most remarkable on its banks to some other opportunity.
Among the adventitious circumstances, which adorn the Thames, the various kinds of vessels are the most amusing.
Every species of the Thames-navigation is picturesque, except the gilt-barge.
The rowing wherry is picturesque; and when it rears a sail, it is more so:
it is picturesque also, when the fisherman carries out his circular net.
But of all the species of navigation on the Thames, the west-country barge is the most picturesque.
It is, first, a large object, and may be often used as a kind of foreground to set off the distant banks of the river.
It is useful also in confining a view.
But it is not only an object useful in composition; in itself also it is picturesque.
The hull is a simple form, and the sides take an easy sweep, especially if they appear a little in perspective; and you see the inside of the prow.
The long rudder too, extending from the hull, is a picturesque advantage.
Such also is the little capstone generally placed at the head of the vessel; and likewise the rough awning, composed of a few ribs, with a loose sail-cloth thrown over them.
Whoever therefore studies picturesque objects, will see abundantly more beauty in the hull of a west-country barge, with all this simple apparatus, than he will see in the barge of a Lord-Mayor with all it's carving, and gilding.
His eye too will be better pleased with a single figure holding a pole, or a paddle, than with six bargemen on a side measuring their equal strokes; and dressed in white jackets; or in the livery of the city, with their broad silver badges.
If the mere hull of the west-country barge is beautiful, it is doubly so, when it's sail is hoisted — at least, if swelled by a little wind.
The sail is a large square sail — in itself a disagreable form, and inferior either to the jib, or the boom.
Unimpressed therefore by the wind, it is a formal object; unless seen a little in perspective; or aided by the reflections of the water, under which circumstance Vandervelt made it often produce a beautiful effect.
But when it is filled by the wind the variety of it's sweeping lines is very pleasing.
Under this circumstance, the square sail of a barge is much more beautiful than the square sails of a larger vessel; both because there is less art, and apparatus about it, and because it is single.
Several sails of the same kind require different contrasts, which, among such a number, cannot easily be obtained.
Whereas the single sail of a barge, when filled, is always in beautiful contrast.
When this sail is furled it is also beautiful.
Even the simple mast may have its effect. There is still another picturesque circumstance attending the west-country barge and that is the smoke which is often seen issuing from its cabin, as the men are cooking their provisions.
Smoke in all circumstances is picturesque; though here perhaps as little as anywhere, because from the lowness of the banks, it is seen chiefly against the sky.
It has it's use however here in softening the trees and bushes, as it passes; and throwing over them that veil of obscurity, which graduating into air, is often a great source of beauty.
Among the amusing objects of the Thames the swan should never be forgotten.
The Thames is one of his favourite haunts.
He rarely descends so low as the capital — never, I believe, below it.
His chief delight is in those sequestered scenes, which we had just been visiting.
But wherever he appears, he is a great ornament to the river.
He is a very picturesque bird.
Though his form is clumsey, at land especially; yet his lines are beautiful; and when he spreads his wing, he is full of contrasts.
His colour too is pleasing — or rather, the lights are in the softest manner blended with the shades.
On the water he appears to most advantage; but not equally so.
When he is bent on expedition, with his breast sunk deep in the water — his wings close to his body — and his neck erect; though his motion, as he drives the water before him, is pleasing; his form is the reverse; his neck and body being at right angles.
As a loiterer, he makes the best figure; when with an arched neck, and wings raised from his sides, he rests upon his oars, motionless on the surface — or moving slowly on with the stream, when
... prono immobile corpus
Dat fluvio ...
Then indeed his form is very picturesque.
Milton's portrait of him in this advantageous attitude is touched in a very masterly manner.
... The swan with arched neck
Between his white wings mantling, proudly rows
His state with oary feet ...
But at this time of the year, the colony of swans is particularly amusing.
The breeding season is coming on; and they are now full of employment, and care.
The females dispersed on the little islands of the river, are either laying, or hatching their eggs: while the male of each family is employed in keeping guard, which he does with great assiduity;
And arching his proud neck, with oary feet
Bears forward fierce, and guards his osier isle,
Protective of his young ...
With such courage is he actuated at these seasons, that if a boat should approach too near the nest he guards, it would probably be attacked.
A swan on duty is as brave, as he is a careful centinel.
The swan fights with his wing, and gives so violent a stroke with the pinion of it, that it has been known to break a man's leg.
By what power of nature, a small engine, formed only of the muscles of a bird's wing, can exert a force, which one should only expect from a steel spring, cannot easily perhaps be explained.
We see the same powerful elasticity in other parts of nature, particularly in the thigh, and heel of a game-cock.
In the jaws of several animals, apparently of little force — in the beaks of several birds — or in the claw of a lobster, there is amazing strength: but it is a strength deliberately applied; and exerted always in a continued pressure. The stroke of a swan's pinion, or of a cock's heel is something very different.
It is exerted by a sort of mechanical trick, or operation, if I may so express myself.
The animal exerts it with a spring; and only in the action of offence.
Some power indeed one might expect from a swan's wing; but the force of a cock's heel is astonishing.
These however, and a variety of other things in nature, we can admire only, but cannot explain.
Swans nests are made with short stakes, and straw inserted, by the fishermen, who know their haunts.
He, whose nest a swan takes possession of, is intitled to receive of the city, whose property the swans are, five shillings, or a cygnet, for his care.
The cygnet is grey the first year, and does not assume its beauty, till the second, when it begins to breed.
The swan lays 3, 4, or sometimes 5 eggs.
In the winter season, they generally live in little flocks, though they are not generally gregarious — much less so than geese and ducks.
In winter, when the Thames is frozen, the swan suffers greatly.
He is deprived both of food, and exercise.
In these deplorable circumstances, the inhabitants of the banks of the Thames collect what numbers of swans, they can, in different places, and feed them with corn in hovels; for which the city amply repays them.
In these hovels, so different from their own bright element, they are far from being at their ease.
Filth of every kind is disagreable to them.
The frost however does not continue long.
The pens are opened; and they are again dismissed to their beloved haunts; where they soon cleanse themselves from the filth, they had contracted; and dress their feathers into their former beauty.
Though, in winter, you see swans often in companies together, as the spring advances, you see them always in pairs.
If you see three, or four together, you may be assured, they are either cygnets; or old swans, now effete.
It is probable the swan is faithful to his mate; though perhaps only for the season.
Most fowls, I believe, in a state of nature, are endowed with this constancy.
In eagles it has been particularly remarked.
In the farmyard we see nothing like it.
Indeed where a few males only are kept, and a number of females, a disposition to constancy, if it existed in nature, could not be shown.
All ties of constancy are broken of course.
But I should suppose, that if domestic fowls were turned loose into the woods, and rivers, a particular attachment would take place.
In doves, I believe, of all kinds it is observed — even in those, which are in a state of domestication.
Among beasts I doubt, whether any such fidelity would ever take place.
I do not recollect meeting with any instances of it, either among wild, or domestic animals.
Violence, and force, I believe, settle all disputes of this kind.
End of the Second part.
and the third: From London to the Sea; not executed.