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mens of ancient military architecture in the country. It is not now the property of the Crown, although the period of its alienation cannot be ascertained; but was rented, during the war, of the proprietor, by Government. The village of Porchester forms a straggling street of nearly a mile in length, along the road to Fareham; the publicans of this place, and the adjacent village of Southwick, were exempted, by a charter granted by Elizabeth, from having soldiers billetted upon them, or quartered in their houses; an exemption which they still enjoy.
PORTSDOWN HILL, an eminence on the road from London to Portsmouth, distant 51 miles from the latter, runs east and west nearly seven miles, and is 447 feet in perpendicular height; its summit is crowned, most appropriately, with a monument to the memory of our most distinguished naval hero, Lord Nelson; and from hence the prospects are beautifully varied and extensive. On the south is a magnificent view of the British Channel, animated by innumerable vessels, and diversified by the charming scenery of the Isle of Wight, which is seen from hence in almost its whole extent. In the west the dark blue tints of the New Forest are beheld mingling with the horizon; while on the north the extensive and fertile Vale of Bere Forest, interspersed with farm-houses, cottages, and fields in a high state of cultivation, affords an agreeable contrast. In the east the eye ranges over the Wolds of Sussex, and rests at last on the tall'and graceful spire of Chichester Cathedral. A Fair is held on this hill annually, on the 26th of July, and, from its vicinity to Portsmouth, is numerously attended.
PORTSEA ISLAND. The circumference of this island is about 16 miles, but although it is surrounded on all sides by the sea, the channel on the north is so narrow as to be crossed by a Bridge. Beside the two great towns of Portsmouth and Portsea, it contains several considerable villages and hamlets. To the north it is defended by the extensive fortifications called the Lines, and towards the sea by a number of batteries. The greater portion of the land is well cultivated, and some of the farms are of considerable extent; on the east side are several Salt-works.
PORTSMOUTH. This town is of considerable antiquity, and is stated to have been built in consequence of the retirement of the sea from Porchester, which induced the inhabitants to raise a new town in a more convenient si. tuation. The earliest mention of Portsmouth occurs in 501, when Porta, a Saxon chief, landed here, from whom it has been supposed to derive its name. It has frequently been the scene of the embarkation or arrival of our monarchs. In 1193 Richard I granted its inhabitants a Charter, by which he endowed them with all the immunities enjoyed by the citizens of Winchester and Oxford, and with the privilege of holding a weekly Market, and an annual Fair during fifteen days. Early in the reign of Richard II the town was burnt by the French; Edward IV began to secure it by fortifications, which were continued during the short reign
of his brother Richard III, and completed by Henry VII. Henry VIII constituted it the great naval arsenal of his dominions; here he formed a Navy Office, arranged his ships under different classes, and caused a regular inventory of their stores to be kept. It has ever since continued to be considered the principal rendezvous of the British Royal Navy; and the preservation and augmentation of its defences has been attended to with care proportioned to the importance of the object. In the reign of Charles I, the armament designed for the relief of Rochelle, then besieged by Cardinal Richelieu, assem. bled here; and the Duke of Buckingham, who had come hither to hasten the preparations, was assassinated by an officer named Felton, who, making no attempt to escape, but glorying in the deed, was executed at Tyburn, and his body afterwards hanged in chains at this place. Here Charles II was married to Catherine of Portugal; and this town has, since his time, as well as before, received many royal visits.
Portsmouth is the most regularly fortified town in England, and is deemed nearly impregnable. The lines extending along the beach as far as Southsea Castle, form a noble terrace, of semicircular form, upwards of a mile in length, and being planted with
trees, kept in the best order, and commanding charming views of Spithead, the Isle of Wight, &c. afford a favourite promenade.
Under the general head of Portsmouth it is usual to comprehend the adjacent town of Portsea, which is of modern origin, and has arisen from the overflowing population of the parent town: early in the last century this circumstance occasioned the building of some houses on a spot called the Common, and by this name the whole of the buildings were distinguished until 1792, when the new erections having far outgrown their original, an Act of Parliament was obtained for lighting, paving, and improving them, under the title of the Town of Portsea. Both towns, however, are still under the government of the same magistrates, and enjoy the same privileges and immunities; but Portsmouth retains the civil and military establishments, while Portsea has within its precincts the Dock-yard and Gun-wharf. The first-named of these is of great extent, being surrounded by walls which include an area of 100 acres, and contain every article which can be required in fitting out ships of the line. In the centre of the sea wharf wall, (which extends 3500 yards along the western shore of the Harbour,) is the entrance to the Great Basin, which is 380 feet long by 260 wide. With this Basin four excellent dry Docks communicate, and on each side of it is a dry Dock opening into the Harbour; all of these are capable of receiving first-rate ships. Here is also a double Dock for frigates, and a Canal, with a wharf wall, 660 feet long, on each side, and of sufficient width to admit transports bringing stores. On the same side of the Dock-yard are three slips for building ships of the largest size, and a small one for sloops; and on the northern side are two slips for frigates, and another for sloops.
The entrance from the town is by a lofty Gateway, on passing which, a large house for the Porters, the Masthouses, and a handsome Guard-house, are the first objects that present themselves. A little further is the Pay Office, and beyond this the Royal Naval College, consisting of a centre and two wings; opposite to this building an elegant edifice has been erected as a school of Naval architecture, and is fur
nished with every requisite for the important branch of education there taught. The number of scholars now received at the College is limited to 100 in time of war, and 70 in peace; 30 of these, being sons of naval officers, are maintained and educated free of expense, the others pay yearly £72 each. Beyond the College is the Commissioner's House, a spacious and convenient residence, with a handsome portico, and a good garden behind. An immense range of Storehouses succeeds; to the right of which is a neat Chapel, and a little further the
New Guard-house. From hence we pass to the Anchor Wharf, where a vast number of anchors of every size is always kept ready for service. The next object is the Ropehouse, a building three stories high, and 1094 feet long; here the cables, &c. are twisted in the lower story, by the assistance of machinery, while in the upper ones the hemp is spun and the thread prepared. A range of stables, storehouses, and other buildings, and several immense piles of timber, are now passed, and we enter a kind of square, in the centre of which is a statue of William III, on a marble pedestal; the east side of this square is formed by a row of handsome residences for the chief officers of the establishment; on the north and south are various storehouses, offices, &c.; and the west side is left open. The next object of attention is the Anchor Forge, or Smithery, where the immense fires, the volumes of smoke, the sound of the enormous hammers, and the vast masses of glowing and sparkling metal which assume the destined shape beneath the strokes of the workmen, combine to impress the mind with sensations of fearful admiration; some of the anchors wrought here, weigh from 70 to 90 cwt. each. Many other parts of this celebrated Arsenal well deserve inspection; among which are the Rigginghouse and Sail-loft; the two Hemp-houses; the Tarring-house; the Iron Mill, Copper Mill, and Refinery, attached to the Smithery, where all the old copper from ships' bottoms is melted and rolled, and bolts, &c, cast. The Wood Mills, at the head of the north Dock, are used in manufacturing every article of turnery and rabbeting required for the use of the navy. Several immense piles of Storehouses in dif. ferent parts of the Yard are also worthy of notice; and the visitant will receive the most lively satisfaction from the sight of the ships in the various stages of building, and those lying in the Docks and Basins, when he reflects that the real safeguard of England is to be found in her “ wooden walls."
Although the utmost vigilance is exercised to guard against such a calamity, the Dock-yard has several times suffered severely from fire. In July, 1760, a dreadful conflagration occurred, supposed to be occasioned by lightning; in July, 1770, a second fire took place, which, from the circumstance of its breaking out in several parts of the Yard at the same time, was strongly suspected to be the work of an incendiary; in December, 1776, a third conflagration did considerable mischief, and in this instance the culprit, known by the name of John the Painter, was discovered, tried and found guilty, at Winchester, and executed near the Dock Gates, March 10th, 1777. Previously to his death he made a confession, which will be found below*, and afforded some repa
* He stated that “his real name was James Aitken, that he was born at Edinburgh, September 28, 1752; that his father was a blacksmith, and he believes his mother is now living; that' he served an apprenticeship to 'a painter; that curiosity led him to Virginia at the age of 21; that he left America in March, 1775; in October he enlisted in the 32d regiment at Gravesend, under the name of James Boswell, but soon deserted; in November he enlisted at Chard, in Somersetshire, in the 13th regiment, and soon afterwards deserted. He never was in the 45th regiment, neither did he go to America in any regiment.
“ At Birmingham and Warrington he followed the trade of a painter; as he did likewise at Titchfield, in Hants, where he conceived the first idea of setting fire to the Dock-yards. That he went to France, and applied to Mr. Silas Deane, (the American agent,] who told him, when the work was done, he should be rewarded. That, on his return to England, and after setting fire to the rope-yard at Portsmouth, he went to London, and waited on Dr. Bencraft, to whom he had a verbal recommendation from Mr. Deane; but that the doctor gave him no countenance. That he afterwards wrote to him, and the day following met him at the Salopian coffee-house, and told him he would do all the prejudice he could to this kingdom; but the doctor not approving of his conduct, he took his leave, hoping that the doctor would not inform against him, to which the doctor said, he did not like to inform against any man.
“ That from London he went to High Wycombe, where he broke open <a house; from thence to Oxford and Abingdon, at which last place he attempted to break into some silversmiths' shops, but without effect. At Fairford, he broke into a house, and took a watch and some money. At Plymouth, he twice attempted to set fire to the dock-yard, and twice reached the top of the wall for that purpose ; but the watchmen being within hearing, he desisted. He then went to Bristol, and in his way attempted to break into a house at Taunton. At Bristol he attempted to set fire to the shipping in the harbour, and afterwards set fire to a warebouse in Quay-lane. He then left the town, and broke open Mr. Lowe's