A pint of beer for a drover: 16th [- 17th] April

Friday, from Nettlebed to an inn, called Marlborough Arms, 9 miles. This is a very small village. Farming here not amiss. Lambs fit for weaning all the way, but don’t appear very fat. There I overtook fifteen very fine fat bullocks on their way to Smithfield. One of the drovers was a very civil, intelligent lad. I gave him a pint of beer, for which he seemed thankful, and gave me much information about their method of feeding; he had been feeder of these cattle all winter. I found they had left fifteen pounds each for winter feeding, but by a strict calculation they had cost for forage, turnips, hay, oilcake, &c, thirteen pounds, besides attendance: indeed they met with a very bad market. I saw them sold at Smithfield, the Devonshire “wubs” for the fattest. Two tip runts were the largest I saw in all my travels.


From Marlborough Arms to Windsor, 12 miles. The soil here in general is very good, but there being two townships on the way, and all the ground cropped very differently, gave it a very bad appearance. The fences were as bad as ever. There are no rivulets or running water save the Thames. They lead water from it for several miles in dry times, as they have no access by driving. As we came near to Windsor the ground seems to belong to very many different proprietors, like other towns, yet even there, though within two miles of the Royal residence, the hedges are shameful to be seen; some were very well, but they were few in number. I am now at Windsor before dinner, a pretty, neat town – with some very elegant inns. Here there is a perfect retinue of company at all times, whenever the Royal family stay at Windsor Lodge. When at Bradley Hall I had told Earl Chesterfield of my intention of going to London, and desire of seeing the King. He told me the King was at Windsor, and that he would give me a letter to Mr Frost, the King’s factor, that would be of service to me, and put me in the way of His Majesty. This I accepted, which answered my purpose exactly. After dining at the inn (Mr Gourley’s), the Star and Garter, who is a very great acquaintance of my son’s, I sent out Lord Chesterfield’s letter to Mr Frost, with a card of my own, wishing to know when, where, and how I could see him tomorrow. On Saturday I got a very genteel card from him saying he would wait upon me at eight o’clock in the morning and carry me out to see everything I wished. This was done, and we rode over a great part of the park, particularly the north of it, called the Flemish Farm, of which Mr Frost has the management. I saw all the stock and labouring, which is very extensive. Most of the soil was wet. A great deal of very large old timber; some oaks eight feet diameter, but very short bodies. All the work done by oxen. Not a single horse on both this farm and another. I did not see Dryland, called the Norfolk Farm, and managed according to the Norfolk system. After riding to about 12, a servant of the King came to Mr Frost telling him to repair to the Great Ox Byre, where we had been, to show Lord Sommerville, General Harcourt, and General Guidor the principal fat oxen. The King wanted the opinion of their weight, value, &c. We accordingly went back, and waited a little before they came. They all alighted and went into the byre, and stayed a long while. I waited before the door where the servants were standing with the horses. At last they all came out, when I heard Mr Frost say to Lord Sommerville, “here was a farmer come all the way from Scotland to see the King and improvements of the country.” Upon this, Lord Sommerville came to me and asked me my name, where I came from, &c., when he recollected me, as I had seen him at Commissioner Brown’s, but had heard, or rather read of me, in the statistical account of Bowden parish.

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