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Quitting Southampton by the majestic portal called Bargate, guarded by its appropriate lions and giants, that recal the days and heroes of romance, we proceed to the turnpike gate, and there take the road on the left.
Having entered it, on the right are seen the buildings still called the POLYGON; though they form only part of a plan, which, about forty years ago, was laid down by an architect, for building twelve substantial and elegant houses, with suitable offices and gardens, to form a polygonal figure. The magnitude of the undertaking led to a failure; the plan was abandoned; and the stuccoed houses in the background, which once formed the wings of a spacious hotel, dedicated, for a short time, under the direction of the celebrated Mrs. Cornely, to the orgies of dissipation, were converted into private dwellings. The smallest of these was afterwards occupied by Bryan Edwards, esq, the historian of the West Indies; who, having purchased the lawn in front, and some beautiful fields behind, erected a new back front to the house, and added other decorations and improvements, converted the whole into a detached and most delightful villa, and called it Springfield. Here Mr. Edwards resided, during his memorable and well-contested competition for the representation of Southampton in parliament. Here also he prepared for publication the narrative of the enterprising African traveller Mr. Park; and the third edition of his own History of the West Indies. To the latter, it is well known, that, with a too certain anticipation of his approaching dissolution, he added a brief yet frank and highly characteristic sketch of a small part of his own life. It is to be regretted, that the respectful delicacy of surviving friendship, has led the gentleman to whose care he consigned the completion of his third edition, altogether to withhold from the public, any additional traits of "the energy of mind, the industry,
and the truth, which characterized his conversation and his life"; any account of "his literary essays and legislative acts, so efficient in the cause of humanity towards the negroes, while a member of the assembly in Jamaica; of his independence while a member of the British parliament"; and of the origin and progress of that literary work, which will transmit his name to posterity.
At this villa, Mr. Edwards breathed his last; and in the parish church of All Saints, Southampton, his remains were deposited.
The village of FOUR POSTS, as well as almost every other village in the neighbourhood of Southampton, indicates the increasing population of the country, by its new and neat buildings, which have replaced a collection of shattered and miserable dwellings that lately stood here beneath a row of tall elms.
This village is immediately beyond the boundary of the separate jurisdiction of Southampton, which is a county of itself. When the town was last* visited by the plague, this was the place where the markets were held.
This dreadful disease made its appearance at Southampton in the summer of 1665, the year in which it so
* There is reason to believe that Southampton was twice afflicted with the plague before; particularly in 1348, when, being brought from China, it spent its first fury in this neighbourhood; proving so terribly destructive, that, "though provisions became cheap, for want of mouths to consume th m, labour became dear for want of hands to execute it." Knyghton says, that a fat ox sold for 4s, a cow for 12d, a sheep for 3d; and, in the following autumn, the wages of a common reaper were at the comparatively enormous price of 8d. a day, of a mower 12d. besides their food.- Hen. de Knyghton, an. 1348,-Milner's History of Winchester, vol. i. pp. 287, 288.
calamitously raged in the metropolis. It is said to have been introduced here by means of some infected child-bed linen. Its effects were extensively destructive. The rich having hastily retired into the country to avoid infection, trade being at a stand, and provisions extremely dear, the poorer inhabitants were deprived of the means of subsistence, and were in danger of perishing through want. The shops were shut, and the streets overgrown with grass:
Nothing but lamentabie sounds was heard,
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death.
And pale despair. 'Twas all the business then
A petition for relief and for medical assistance, was presented to King Charles II. at Salisbury, whither he had retired on account of the prevalence of the same disease in London. It was stated that there was much danger, lest the poor, driven to desperation, should break out of the town, and propagate the infection still more extensively. The king immediately promoted a subscription, to which himself contributed fifty pounds. He was followed by the earl of Southampton, then lord treasurer, with the same sum. The cities of Salisbury and Bristol also took up the cause of humanity, and nearly two thousand pounds were collected.* There is no record of the number who died.
A pleasing anecdote of filial piety, during this afflic
*The above particulars are extracted from the registers of the corporation of Southampton.
tive visitation, has been preserved by tradition. In a small family, consisting only of a husband, a wife, and one daughter, both the parents successively fell victims to the plague. The vehicle that conveyed the dead to an indiscriminate and unhonoured burial, passed by this house of affliction; and the customary cry,--" Bring out your dead,"---summoned the surviver to part with their remains. But affection prevailed over the horrors of sohitude, and the difficulty and the danger of providing a place of separate interment. Solitary and unassisted, with her own hands she buried them in her garden. She afterwards sickened herself, and encountered all the horrors of pestilence, "unpitied and alone," in her forsaken abode. Yet, through the mercy of Divine Providence, she recovered, and even reached an advanced age, frequently relating to her juniors the tale of her wo, and leaving them to reflect on the manner in which the Judge of the whole earth has often appeared to honour filial piety...
While the markets were held at this village of Fourposts, it is said that the persons who brought provisions from the country, were accustomed, in order to guard against infection, to range their commodities by the side of a brook, and to transact their business across the stream, which they would not suffer the townsmen to pass. Here the articles of sale were hoisted over to the purchasers; who deposited the price in a vessel provided: for that purpose; which, before it came into the sellers hands, was immersed in the water of the brook.*
*The brook runs beneath the second bridge on this road. That part of it which was the scene of the transactions alluded to, is now.