BLTC Press Titles

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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

A tour through the south of England, Wales, and part of Ireland, made during the summer of 1791

by Edward Daniel Clarke


Portsmouth may, without impropriety, be called the key of England. Its noble haven, capable of containing a thousand sail of the line; its extensive fortifications, arranged and executed by engineers of the first ability; the number of its inhabitants, its dock-yards, its wonderful importance to Great-Britain, render it the admiration of Europe. The entrance to the harbour does not exceed, in breadth, that of the Thames at Westminster Bridge, a circumstance, which forms a considerable addition to its strength. There is also such plenty of water within it, that a' first rate man of war may always float in safety, and moreover ride secure from every

wind wind that blows. The mouth of the harbour is defended by a fort, called South Sea Castle, erected by Henry VIII. and situated about a mile and a half south of the town. This castle is fortified with a double moat, pallisadoes, ravelins, and a counterscarp, from which there are several advanced works, to cover the fort against the approach of an enemy. There is also on the same side a large platform, on which are placed pieces of ordnance; and on the opposite side, next Gosport, there is another platform, of twenty great guns, nearly level with the water.

One great convenience with respect to the harbour at Portsmouth, is the safe and spacious road of Spithead. It is defended from all the winds that blow from the west to the south east, by the high lands of the Isle of Wight; and from the winds of the opposite quarter, by the main land of Hampshire. The bottom is perfectly sound and good, and the flux and reflux of

the the sea repairs all the injuries done by the anchors.

This wonderful rendezvous of the royal navy, fortified on all sides, is a striking proof of the opulence and industry of Englishmen. An extensive fosse is filled in half an hour with water, eight feet deep. Within the fosse rises a wall 15 feet perpendicular, on which is a double parapet, regularly flanked with bastions and curtains, having also a glacis and covered way. These works are carried round the dock yards, so that the magazine of stores, arms and ammunition, defies every attack of an enemy.

The dock yard contains such an astonishing quantity of every article necessary for the royal navy, and is placed in a style of such uncommon regularity, that it exceeds imagination. There are seldom less than a thousand men employed within its walls, and sometimes double that number. These, in time of war, are all disciplined, and formed into a regiment, under the command of C the the Commissioner, who is Colonel; the Master Builder, Lieutenant Colonel, and the Clerk of the Cheque, Major; the Subalterns being chosen from among the other officers. The dock, and other yards, now resemble a town, and may be said to form a corporation, there being large rows of dwellings, built at the public expence, for all the officers, who are obliged to reside on the spot. The rope-house, where the cables, &c. are made, is 870 feet long, and some of the cables are so large, that it requires above 80 men to work them. The labour is so excessive, that they can only continue it for four hours in the day. From one end of this remarkable room, it is not easy to discern the pigmies working at the other. In this place, that noted incendiary, Jack the Painter, laid his system of combustibles, which is the more remarkable, as at least 100 men were constantly employed around him. The smith's shop is a curious spectacle, and reminds one of Vulcan's laboratory, where we find a trio, performed by the Cyclops, upon the anvil,

vil, in every corner. Among other things here, they mew you a sledge hammer, which the king used in this place, and beg of you to pay two-pence, and strike a blow with his Majesty's hammer. The tarring of the hemp is a most curious operation, being performed by horses; but it is impossible to convey upon paper, any idea adequate to the appearance of these immense magazines, where (hips are lifted in their docks, like infants in their cradles, and the most stupendous works conducted with all that ease, and ingenuity, so peculiar to the inhabitants of this country, in the superior excellence of their naval armaments.

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