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Pershore. I stopped in London about a week, in my way hither—during which time I had an opportunity to hear several of those that are deemed by some the most celebrated preachers there, and to see the British Museum, Tower, 8cc. I sat out from London in the evening, about twelve o'clock, of Thursday the 4th of July, in the Lynn stage, and arrived here about nine o'clock in the evening of the day following. Our journey was about 104 or 105 miles. We came through Newmarket: the stages choose to go that way because of the goodness of the road, otherwise that through Cambridge is somewhat shorter. Newmarket is a pretty little town, formerly favoured often with the presence of kings; but that honour it seldom or ever enjoys nowadays. It has still what they call the King's Palace, which, though it is kept in repair, has, I think, little or nothing of royalty in the appearance of it. The town seems to be situated in a very healthy, and, during the summer at least, a very delightful country. Nature seems to have formed it (if Nature ever formed any spot of the earth for such purposes) for the Races and other diversions, which make it the resort of the nobility, gentry, &c. during a good part of the summer season. All our way from London, the country on each side seemed very rich and fertile till we entered the sandy barren heaths of Suffolk! There for some miles we could see hardly any thing but the naked sands, which brought to my mind the description that some geographers and travellers give of the deserts of Arabia, and some other countries: for my own part, I never saw any thing like it before. However, Suffolk did not every where wear the same dismal and sorry aspect, but before we left it appeared something like other counties. When we entered Norfolk, the country looked still better. We had not advanced far into this county before the remarkable variety in the soil made me remember an observation which I had seen some writer make concerning it; namely, "That NorFolk, in that respect, is a specimen of all Britain; that there is no sort of soil any where in the kingdom but what may be found very common here!" This variety of the soil is probably one reason of Norfolk's being famous both for good corn and rich pastures; both for rich farmers and rich graziers. But though it feeds very numerous flocks of sheep, almost like Salisbury Plains, especially between this and Norwich, besides vast numbers of other cattle, yet they say it exceeds in corn. And I am informed there is such an amazing quantity of that article raised here, that every year, upon an average, affords a sufficiency for the use of the county for seven years. Hence it is that such quantities are continually exported, not only to the neighbouring counties, which raise not near enough for their own exigencies, but also to Scotland, France, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, &c.
Lynn is a rich, populous town, well built, and well situated in a plain open country, on the east side, and near the mouth of a large river, called the Great Ouse, which, on high spring-tides, flows liere (they say) upwards of twenty feet perpendicular, and is at least as wide as the Thames about London. The town has a great extent of inland navigation; the greatest (they say) of any port in England, London excepted. The reason ascribed for that is, that more navigable rivers empty themselves into the sea here, including the Wastes, which are branches of the same port, than at any one mouth of waters in England, except the Thames and Humber! By these navigable rivers the merchants of Lynn supply six counties wholly, and three counties in part, with their goods, especially wines and coals: in the former of which Lynn is said to be the third port in Britain, in the latter the second.
Lynn was once, it seems, a place of considerable strength, being encompassed with walls, ditches, and other works; and they say it might now, in case of any sudden emergency, be very easily put in a good state of defence. At the north end of the town, towards the sea, there is a royal fortress, called St. Ann's Fort, which had till within this year or two a platform of twelve large guns, which then commanded the entrance of the harbour: but the guns are now carried away to some other place that was thought to have more need of them.
The shipping belonging to this port consist, they say, of near 200 sail, most of them of considerable burden. They carry on a large foreign trade to Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, Germany, Norway, the Baltic, and Mediterranean. Some ships from here are said to be taken of late on the coast of Spain, by American privateers. There are some ships also fitted out here for the Greenland fishery, which have been pretty successful this year.
Lynn has been formerly very much distinguished by many grants and favours bestowed upon it by King John, Hen. IV., Hen. VII, Hen. VIII., &c. Those privileges the Corporation still enjoys.
The place is supposed to contain at present near 15,000 inhabitants. They are mostly very stanch Churchmen, and consequently bitter enemies to Dissenters, who are branded here by the name of Kulamites; which, I think, is the only name they have for them. However there are a few Dissenters that dare to live even here, and to bear their testimony openly and honourably for God and his truth. But, I think, Lynn is the only place that has any Dissenters in it in all this part of Norfolk, for more than thirty miles distance. There are a few in Lincoln and Cambridgeshires somewhat nigher to us. By this you see I live in a country whose inhabitants may well be compared to the ancient Galileans, who are in Scripture called "A people dwelling in darkness and in the region and shadow of death!" There are, however, they say, several dissenting churches in the southern part of the county, and, among others, nine or ten Baptist churches.
There is here, besides our meeting-house, one Presbyterian meeting-house, one of the Quakers, or rather of Wesley's. Our house is the smallest, but the best attended at present. I preach three times every Lord's day. Our place is generally full, especially in the afternoon and evening. We have besides a conference Monday evenings, a lecture Thursday evenings, and a prayer meeting Friday evenings. The people for the most part are persons of considerable knowledge in the Scriptures, and many of them in the works of most of our celebrated divines. They have behaved very friendly to me since I came among them, and, as far as 1 can find, my poor labours meet, as yet, with a general approbation. I have accepted of their invitation to stop among them over the winter. I have nothing to say now about a further stay, as I don't know upon what plan they will agree to form their church. They are divided about Mixed Communion. They are mostly Baptists in judgment; but some of those do not choose to submit to the ordinance. Old age seems to be the excuse of some: they think it hardly worth their while now, in the eve of life, and after they have made a profession of religion for many years, to submit to an ordinance that most properly requires submission to it at men's first setting out in religion's ways. Others have for an excuse what, for ought I know, may be called the delicacy of their constitution: they are afraid going into the cold water will injure their health. This you may think is a female excuse.