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Gentleman's Magazine 1802 p.633

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  History of the Roman Wall

History of the Roman Wall

Review of New Publications
114. The History of the Roman Wall, which crosses the Island of Britain, from the German Ocean to the Irish Sea. Describing its antient State, and its Appearance in the Year 1801. By W. Hutton, F.A.S.S.
"You can never bring in a WALL - what say you, Bottom?" SHAKSPEARE.
WE have received much pleasure in reviewing former topographical works by this writer, who keeps up the ball of curiosity and narrative to the last.
"Having had the pleasure of seeing many antiques of various ages and people, it naturally excited a desire of proceeding in farther research; and the eye, unsatisfied with seeing, induced a wish to see the greatest of all the curiosities left us by the Romans, THE WALL; the wonderful and united works of Agricola, Hadrian, and Severus." ... "What astonishment must arise at the sight of the grandest production of Art in the whole island! the united work of a Commander in Chief and two Emperors, assisted by three powerful armies, and aided by a long series of years!" ... "I consulted all the authors I could procure; which strengthened desire. But I found they were only echoes to each other. Many have written upon the subject; but I could discover that very few had even seen it, and not a soul had penetrated from one end to the other. Besides, if those who paid a transient visit chose to ride, they could not be minute observers. Poor Camden travelled it till he was frightened, ran away, and wrote hastily. Horsley was weary, and retreated; but wrote more correct. The judicious Warburton, whom I regard for his veracity, rode on, desisted, and then remarked, "He believed he had trod upon ground which no foot had ever trodden since the Romans." He also transcribed Horsley, whom Mr. Gough professes to follow. I envied the people in the neighbourhood of the Wall, though I knew they valued it no more than the soil on which it stood. I wished to converse with an intelligent resident, but never saw one. I determined to spend a month, and fifty guineas, in minutely examining the relicks of this first of wonders; began to form my plan of operations, and wrote my sentiments to an eminent printer in London, for whom I have a singular regard; but, receiving no answer, I gave up the design, and, as I thought, for ever; destroyed my remarks, closed with regret all my books of intelligence, and never durst open them, lest it should revive a strong inclination, which I could not gratify. About four years elapsed, when my family agreed with a gentleman and his lady to visit the Lakes. They enlisted me of the party, in which they found no difficulty, becasue the temptation lay in the neighbourhood of that wonder which had long engaged my ideas*. I have given a short sketch of my approach to this famous bulwark; have described it as it appears in the present day, and stated my return. Perhaps I am the first man that ever travelled the whole length of this Wall, and probably the last that ever will attempt it. Who then will say, he has, like me, travelled it twice! Old people are much inclined to accuse youth of their follies; but on this head silence will become me, lest I should be asked, "What can exceed the folly of that man, who, at seventy-eight, walked six hundred miles to see a shattered Wall!" Preface.
"This first and most remarkable piece of Antiquity in the whole island is known by several names, some of them erroneous. It bore that of Agricola, which is now lost. The Picts Wall; but this seems inconsistent, for they had no concern with the Wall, except to pull it down; and I think it should rather bear the name of the man who built it up. Sometimes Hadrian's Wall; but I cannot see why a bank of earth should bear the name of a Wall. Our idea of a wall comprehends an erection of brick or stone. Perhaps Hadrian's Bank would be more in character, as agreeing with the materials of which it is composed. Severus's Wall is more proper, because he erected the stone wall, part of which is remaining. It is often called The Roman Wall, and by way of pre-eminence, The
* "Thirteen months elapsed after we had resolved upon our journey, when our friends declined the adventure; but we, having fed upon the imaginary but delightful repast, could not relinquish it. I procured for myself the exclusive privilege of walking, which, of all the modes of travelling, I prefer. My daughter rode behind her servant; and we agreed not to impede each other on the way, but meet at certain inns, for refreshment and rest. I was dressed in black, a kind of religious travelling-warrant, but divested of assuming airs; and had a budget of the same colour and materials, much like a dragoon's cartridge-box, or postman's letter-pouch, in which were deposited the maps of Cumberland, Northumberland, and the Wall, with appendages; all three taken out of Gough's edition of Britannia; also, Warburton's map of the Wall, with my own remarks, &c. To this little pocket I fastened with a strap an umbrella in a green case, for I was not likely to have a six weeks tour without wet, and flung it over that shoulder which was the least tired. And now, July the 4th, 1801, we begin our march." (pp.107-109.)
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