The journey begins: 1st April 1802

HAVING had a long desire to see his Majesty King George our Sovereign, and the Metropolis of the Kingdom, and not having seen my oldest son for the space of thirteen years, who at present resides at Bradley Hall in Derbyshire, with Earl Chesterfield, I resolved to set out on a journey for accomplishing these purposes. Accordingly upon Thursday, the 1st day of April, 1802, and the sixty-fourth year of my age, I set out on horseback with the neat sum of thirty-one pounds in my pocket. Hawick to breakfast, 12 miles on my road, I saw nothing new.

From Hawick to Langholm that evening, 22 miles; the ground all the way on both sides the road belongs to the Duke of Buccleuch, save three small farms. In this stage there are very great improvements in the space of three years past by inclosing and irrigation; how far this last is, or will be, profitable I cannot say; it certainly produces more grass in the meantime, but so very foul and luscious that if the sheep are not well kept from it at particular seasons it must be very dangerous for giving them the rot. At present it seems to be the hobby-horse of his Grace and those about him, and of course it must be right. Upon the whole of the farms there are neat, new, or sufficient houses and steadings; the Duke allows slate and nails, the tenant is at all expenses. Some of these houses are better than ministers’ manses, with ten or twelve fire places in them. The farmers all live very comfortably more so than on any other large estate in Scotland. Langholm is a very pretty small place. The new town is in a very pleasant situation, and several branches of manufactures are carried on here – a large woollen one, two check ones, a paper mill, and a bleach-field. This being the illumination on account of the Dean many a feeble taper was lighted, but to look over to the new town was very pretty.

 

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