Old Hampshire Mapped


Defoe's Hampshire

Transcription (7)


Southampton
trade
smuggling
Jersey
Guernsey
wine trade
French Church
town walls
Bevis
giants
previous

Southampton is a truly antient town, for 'tis in a manner dying with age; the decay of the trade is the real decay of the town; and all the business of moment that is transacted there, is the trade between us and the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, with a little of the wine trade, and much smuggling: The building of ships also is much stop'd of late; however, the town is large, has many people in it, a noble fair High-Street, a spacious key; and if its trade should revive, is able to entertain great numbers of people: There is a French church, and no inconsiderable congregation, which was a help to the town, and there are still some merchants who trade to Newfoundland, and to the Streights with fish; but for all other trade, it may be said of Southampton as of other towns, London has eaten it up. The situation of the town between two rivers was to its advantage formerly in point of strength, and the town was wall'd with a very strong wall, strengthen'd with a rampart, and a double ditch; but I do not hear that they ever were put to make much use of them.

Whatever the fable of Bevis of Southampton, and the gyants in the woods thereabouts may be deriv'd from, I found the people mighty willing to have those things pass for true; and at the north gate of the town, the only entrance from the land side, they have the figures of two eminent champions, who might pass for gyants, if they were alive now, but they can tell us very little of their history, but what is all fabulous like the rest, so I say no more of them.

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