LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
Henry Warburton to John Whishaw, 12 August 1812

Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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Woodbridge, Aug, 22, 1814.

My Dear W.,—You will be surprised at my date, and at hearing that I have not yet reached my aphilion, so much have I miscalculated my orbit. I am in the field twelve hours every day, and have met with no impediments in my journey; but flat enclosed country so conceals everything, that you want wings or the use of the divining rod to see deeper than other people. My researches began at St. Osyth, from which I have coasted as far northward as Orford; and have come inland from Harwich to this place. I am going to Aldborough, Dunwich, Lowestoft, and Yarmouth, thence to Norwich, and then I must read my letters to see whether I can complete my intended excursion to Hunstanton or not. The whole country I have traversed is very uniform in the appearance of its surface and in its geological character. Hillocks of sand or gravel resting on an irregular base of blue clay, similar to that of London or Southend, compose the whole of the Eastern maritime district. Except where sandhills form the coast, the sea is everywhere encroaching on these perishable materials, and where there is a cliff, the air is still more destructive to the blue clay, which is full of pyritous wood, than the water. The collecting the pyrites, that is washed out of the fallen clay for the use of the vitriol makers, affords a livelihood to some of the women and children that live on the coast. They sell it at the low price of 2d. a basket of about half a cubic foot capacity. The other
From Henry Warburton
product of this clay is the septarium, which is burnt to make Parker’s cement. The Ordnance have a very expensive apparatus with steam-engine for grinding it at Harwich. They send the cement thence to the different Government works in the kingdom. You may see the organic remains of this bed at the Society. On this coast I have not found the animals’ reliques numerous, though I believe I have obtained some that are new.

The most curious bed of this district is the gravel which covers the blue clay, and which is no other, I believe, as to the date and manner of its formation, than that which you disregard every day in Hyde Park. In some loamy varieties of this at Walton-le-Soken, I have collected some magnificent remains of the elephant, the elk, the hippopotamus, the buffalo, and the stag. You may judge that they are found pretty abundantly, by my obtaining in one day two teeth, one tusk of the elephant, three horns of the elk, one of the stag, one of the buffalo, and two jaws of the hippopotamus. Have the goodness not to talk about this to our geological friends at present, as I have set some little pensioners to work to collect for me what they may meet with, and by which I hope to make our cabinet at the G.S.1 more perfect. By the time that my present one is arranged, they will have probably found all that the beds of Walton yield, and may open the door to the public. I have found the same remains less perfect, and in fragments very numerous, in the gravel beds as far as my researches have extended north-

1 Geological Society.

ward; but after leaving Walton they are found mixed with the great beds of marine shells, which form another important feature in the gravel. These beds of shell, or crag, as they are called, extend over the whole maritime district north of Harwich, running several miles inland, and varying from ten to a hundred feet in thickness. The shells are mostly broken, and are mixed with a red ferruginous sand. Fragments of the septaria of the subjacent blue clay, are very common in this crag, and therefore iron is probably derived from the decomposed pyrites of the clay. The crag is very extensively used in this district.

I have seen the extract from the new corn report in the newspapers, and it is very true as there stated that the state of agriculture in this district is more improved than in any other part of England. This is evident to the most careless eye. It is not, however, equal to that of the south of Scotland—longo intervallo. The proximity of the London market by means of water carriage, and the lightness of the soil, rending labour more productive, are two principal reasons for this improvement. There is very little of the appearance of the splendid opulence of the manufacturing counties: and yet a great deal of good substantial comfort. It is not a little proof of wealth that I found myself most comfortably located in all the little public-houses in which I lodged along the coast. They have lowered the price of labour 6d. per diem in many parishes in Essex. The importations from the Dutch coast of corn, meat, and poultry have been very small, although with every facility for
From Henry Warburton
effecting them. Beef had been imported at Harwich for 6½d. the pound, and was said to be very good, but not to be well killed or clean in its appearance for the market. I did not expect to be so long engaged in this survey, but, having begun, am desirous of completing it. I fear I may have disappointed you in your hopes of a companion, whom you must secure another time before he undertakes a fortnight’s journey. I know how imprudent it is sometimes to have limited oneself to a day in these expeditions; I should have missed my elephants at Walton had I done so according to my first intention. It cost me two days to prepare the coffins for these mighty bones.

H. W.