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England

Except among the select few, generally either enthusiastic boys or London mechanics of an inquiring mind, who keep fresh-water aquariums and replenish them from ponds and brooks at "weekends," few persons outside the fancy either see or know much of the water insects,[1] or are aware, when floating on a summer day under the willows in a Thames backwater, of the near presence of thousands of aquatic creatures, swift, carnivorous, and pursuing, or feeding greedily on the plants in the water garden that floats below the boat, or weaving nests, tending eggs, or undergoing the most astonishing t

The cycle of dry seasons seems to be indefinitely prolonged. During the period, now lasting since 1893, in which we have had practically no wet summers, and many very hot ones, a very curious phenomenon has been remarked upon the high and dry chalk downs. The dew ponds, so called because they are believed to be fed by dew and vapours, and not by rain, have kept their water, while the deeper ponds in the valleys have often failed.

Bitterne is now a suburb of Southampton on the opposite side of the Itchen, but it may claim to be the original town from which the Saxon settlement arose. It is the site of the Roman Clausentium, an important station between Porchester and Winchester, and when the Saxons came up the water and landed upon the peninsula between the two rivers they probably found a populous town on the older site.

The South of England generally is wanting in that particular scenic charm that consists of broad stretches of inland water backed by high country. The first sight of Poole harbour with the long range of the Purbeck Hills in the distance will come as a delightful revelation to those who are new to this district. The harbour is almost land-locked and the sea is not in visual evidence away from the extremely narrow entrance between Bournemouth and Studland.

The railway from Wareham to Dorchester runs through the heart of that great wild tract that under the general name of Egdon Heath forms a picturesque and often gloomy background to many of Mr. Hardy's romances. These heath-lands are a marked characteristic of the scenery of this part of the county. Repellent at first, their dark beauty, more often than not, will capture the interest and perhaps awe of the stranger.

The fashionable Weymouth of to-day is the Melcombe Regis of the past, and quite a proportion of visitors to Melcombe never go into the real Weymouth at all. The tarry, fishy and beery (in a manufacturing sense only) old town is on the south side of the harbour bridge and has little in common with the busy and popular watering place on the north and east. Once separate boroughs, the towns are now under one government, and Melcombe Regis has dropped its name almost entirely in favour of that of the older partner.

The branch line of the Great Western from Maiden Newton makes a wide detour northwards to reach Bridport, passing through a very charming and unspoilt countryside where old "Do'set" ways still hold out against that drab uniformity that seems to be creeping over rustic England. In this out-of-the-way region are small old stone-built villages lying forgotten between the folds of the hills and rejoicing in names that makes one want to visit them if only for the sake of their quaint nomenclature.

To go from one Dorset or East Devon coast town to another by rail involves an amount of thought and a consultation of time-tables that would not be required for a journey from London to Aberystwyth, and unless the traveller hits on a particularly lucky set of connexions he will find that he can walk from one town to the other in less time than by taking the train. From Lyme to Seaton by the Landslip is barely seven miles; by rail it is fifteen, involving two changes. From Seaton to Sidmouth is nine miles by road and twenty-four by rail, with two changes and a possible third.

Chard is a place which satisfies the aesthetic sense at first sight and does not pall after close and long acquaintance. The great highway from Honiton to Yeovil becomes, as it passes through the last town in South Somerset, a spacious and dignified High Street with two or three beautiful old houses, among a large number of other picturesque dwellings which would sustain the reputation of Chard even without their aid. First is the one-time Court House of the Manor, opposite the Town Hall. Part of the building is called Waterloo House.

There are three obvious ways of approaching Salisbury from Shaftesbury and the west: by railway from Semley; by the main road, part of the great trunk highway from London to Exeter via Yeovil; and by a kind of loop road that leaves this at Whitesand Cross and follows the valley of the Ebble between the lonely hills of Cranborne Chase and the long line of chalk downs that have their escarpment to the north, overlooking the Exeter road.

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