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GREAT Frost, 1814.
pace. There were frequent meetings of The severest and most remarkable carriages, and great "mischief ensued. frost in England of late years, commenced Foot passengers, alarmed at the idea of in December, 1813, and generally being run down, exclaimed, “Who is called “the Great Frost in 1814," was coming ?”-“ Mind !” — “Take care !" preceded by a great fog, which came on &c. Pemales who ventured abroad were with the evening of the 27th of Decem- in great peril; and innumerable people ber, 1813. It is described as a darkness lost their way. that might be felt. Cabinet business of After the fogs, there were heavier great importance had been transacted, falls of snow than had been within the and lord Castlereagh left London about memory of man. With only short intertwo hours before, to embark for the con- vals, it showed incessantly for forty-eight tinent. The prince regent, (since George hours, and this after the ground was IV.) proceeding towards Hatfield on a covered with ice, the result of nearly four visit to the marquis of Salisbury, was weeks continued frost. During this long obliged to return to Carlton-house, after period, the wind blew almost continually being absent several hours, during which from the north and north-east, and the period the carriages had not reached be- cold was intense. A short thaw of about yond Kentish-town, and one of the out one day, rendered the streets almost imriders fell into a ditch. Mr. Croker, se- passable. The mass of snow and water cretary of the admiralty, on a visit north was so thick, that hackney-coaches with ward, wandered likewise several hours in an additional horse, and other vehicles, making a progress not more than three or could scarcely plough their way through. four miles, and was likewise compelled to Trade and calling of all kinds in the put back. It was “darkness that might be streets were nearly stopped, and consifelt."
derably increased the distresses of the On most of the roads, excepting the industrious. Few carriages, even stages, high North-road, travelling was performed could travel the roads, and those in the with the utmost danger, and the mails neighbourhood of London seemed dewere greatly impeded.
serted. From many buildings, icicles, a On the 28th, the Maidenhead coach yard and a half long, were seen suspended. coming to London, missed the road near The water-pipes to the houses were all Hartford bridge and was overturned. frozen, and it became necessary to have Lord Hawarden was among the passen- plugs in the streets for the supply of all gers, and severely injured.
ranks of inhabitants. The Thames, from On the 29th, the Birmingham mail London Bridge to Blackfriars, was comwas nearly seven hours in going from the pletely blocked up at ebb-tide for nearly Post-office to a mile or two below Ux a fortnight Every pond and river near bridge, a distance of twenty miles only: the metropolis was completely frozen. and on this, and other evenings, the short Skating was pursued with great avidity stages in the neighbourhood of London on the Canal in St. James's, and the Ser. had two persons with links, running by pentine in Hyde-park. On Monday the the horses' heads. Pedestrians carried 10th of January, the Canal and the Basin links or lanterns, and many, who were in the Green-park were conspicuous for not so provided, lost themselves in the the number of skaters, who administered most frequented, and at other times well- to the pleasure of the throngs on the known streets. Hackney-coachmen mis- banks; some by the agility and grace of took the pathway for the road, and the their evolutions, and others by tumbles greatest confusion prevailed.
and whimsical accidents from clumsy atOn the 31st, the increased fog in the tempts. A motley collection of all orders metropolis was, at night, truly alarming. seemed eager candidates for applause. It required great attention and thorough The sweep, the dustman, the drummer, knowledge of the public streets to pro- the beau, gave evidence of his own good ceed any distance, and persons who had opinion, and claimed that of the belles who material business to transact were un viewed his movements. In Hyde-park, a avoidably compelled to carry torches, distinguished order of visitors The lamps appeared through the haze like crowded the banks of the Serpentine, small candles. Careful hackney-coach- Ladies, in robes of the richest fur, bid demen got off the box and led their horses, fiance to the wintry winds, and ventured while others drove only at a walking on the frail surface, Skaters, in great
numbers,' of first-rate notoriety, executed the skaters were in circles, squares, and some of the most difficult movements of oblongs. Next to the carriage ride on the the art, to universal admiration. A lady north side, many astonishing evolutions and two officers, who performed a reel were performed by the skaters. Skipping with a precision scarcely conceivable, re on skates, and the Turk-cap backwards, ceived applause so boisterous as to terrify were among the most conspicuous. The the fair cause of the general expression, ice, injured by a partial thaw in some and occasion her to forego the pleasure she places, was much cut up, yet elegantly received from the amusement. Two ac dressed females dashed between the hil. cidents occurred : 'a skating lady dislo- locks of snow, with great bravery. cated the patella or kneepan, and five gentlemen and a lady were submerged in At this time the appearance of the the frosty Auid, but with no other injury river Thames was most remarkable. Vast than from the natural effect of so cold an pieces of floating ice, laden generally with embrace.
heaps of snow, were slowly carried up
and down by the tide, or collected where On the 20th, in consequence of the the projecting banks or the bridges regreat accumulation of snow in London, it sisted the flow. These accumulations became necessary to relieve the roofs of sometimes formed a chain of glaciers, the houses by throwing off the load col- which, uniting at one moment, were at lected upon them. By this means the another cracking and bounding against carriage-ways in the middle of the streets each other in a singular and awful manner were rendered scarcely passable; and the with loud noise. Sometimes these ice streams constantly flowing from the open islands rose one over another, covered plugs, added to the general mass of ice. with angry foam, and were violently im
Many coach proprietors, on the northern pelled by the winds and waves through and western roads, discontinued to run the arches of the bridges, with trementheir coaches. In places where the roads dous crashes. Near the bridges, the were low, the snow had drifted above car
floating pieces collected about mid-water, riage height.' On Finchley-common, by or while the tide was less forcible, and the fall of one night, it lay to a depth ranged themselves on each other; the of sixteen feet, and the road was impass- stream formed them into order by its able even to oxen. On Bagshot-heath force as it passed, till the narrowness of and about Esher and Cobham the road the channel increased the power of the was completely choked up. Except the flood, when a sudden disruption taking Kent and Essex roads, no others were place, the masses burst away, and floated passable beyond a few miles from London. off. The river was frozen over for the The coaches of the western road remained
space of a week, and a complete Frost stationary at different parts. The Windsor Fair held upon it, as will be mentioned coach was worked through the snow at presently. Colnbrook, which was there sixteen feet deep, by employing about fifty labourers.
Since the establishment of mail-coaches At Maidenhead-lane, the snow was still deeper; and between Twyford and Read-correspondence had not been so inter
rupted as on this occasion. ing it assumed a mountainous appearAccounts say that, on parts of till the roads could be in some degree
communication was completely at a stand Bagshot-heath, description would fail to
cleared. The entire face of the country convey an adequate idea of its situation.
was one uniform sheet of snow; no trace The Newcastle coach went off the road
of road was discoverable. into a pit upwards of eight feet deep, but
The Post-office exerted itself to have without mischief to either man or horse. The middle North-road was impassable the mails, and the government interfered
the roads cleared for the conveyance of at Highgate-hill.
by issuing instructions to every parish in
the kingdom to employ labourers in reOn the 22d of January, and for some
opening the ways. time afterwards, the ice on the Serpentine in Hyde-park bore a singular appearance, from mountains of snow which In the midland counties, particularly sweepers had collected together in dif on the borders of Northamptonshire and ferent situations. The spaces allotted for Warwickshire, the snow lay to a height
altogether unprecedented. At Dunchurch, not pass over. Almost all labour witha small village on the road to Birming- out doors was at a stand. ham, through Coventry, and for a few At Gloucester, Jan. 17. The severity miles round that place, in all directions, of the frost had not been exceeded by the drifts exceeded twenty-four feet, and any that preceded it. The Severn was no tracks of carriages or travellers could frozen over, and people went to Tewkesbe discovered, except on the great road, bury market across the ice on horseback. for many days.
The cold was intense. The thermometer, The Cambridge mail coach, coming exposed in a north-eastern aspect, stood to London, sunk into a hollow of at thirteen degrees, nine below the freezthe road, and remained with the snow ing point. On the eastern coast, it stood drifting over it, from one o'clock to nine as low as nine and ten; a degree of cold in the morning, when it was dragged out unusual in this county. by fourteen waggon horses. The pas- Bristol, Jan. 18. The frost continued sengers, who were in the coach the whole in this city with the like severity. The of the time, were nearly frozen to death. Floating Harbour from Cumberland basin
to the Feeder, at the bottom of Avon
street, was one continued sheet of ice; On the 26th, the wind veered to the and for the first time in the memory of south-west, and a thaw was speedily dis- man, the skater made his appearance cernible. The great fall of the Thames under Bristol-bridge. The Severn was at London-bridge for some days presented frozen over at various points, so as to bear a scene both novel and interesting. At the weight of passengers. the ebbing of the tide, huge fragments of
At Whitehaven, Jan. 18, the frost had ice were precipitated down the stream increased in severity. All the ponds and with great violence, accompanied by a streams were frozen; and there was noise, equal to the report of a small piece scarcely a pump in the town that gave of artillery. On the return of the tide, out water. The market was very thinly they were forced back; but the obstacles attended, it having been found in many opposed to their passage through the parts impossible to travel until the snow arches were su great, as to threaten a total stoppage to the navigation of the
At Dublin, Jan. 14, the snow lay in a river, The thaw continued, and these quantity unparalleled for half a century, appearances gradually ceased.
In the course of one day and night, it On the 27th, 28th, and 29th, the roads descended so inconceivably thick and and streets were nearly impassable from rapid, as to block up all the roads, and floods, and the accumulation of snow. preclude the possibility of the mail coaches On Sunday the 30th a sharp frost set in, being able to proceed, and it was even and continued till the following Saturday found impracticable to send the mails on evening, the 5th of February.
horseback. Thus all intercourse with the
interior was cut off, and it was not until F The Falmouth mail coach started from the 18th, when an intense frost suddenly thence for Exeter, after having proceeded commenced, that the communication was a few miles was overturned, without ma- opened, and several mail bags arrived terial injury to the passengers. With the from the country on horseback. assistance of an additional pair of horses The snow in many of the narrow streets it reached the first stage; after which all of Dublin, after the footways had been in endeavours to proceed were found per some measure cleared, was more than six fectly useless, and the letters were sent to feet. It was nearly impossible for any Bodmin by the guard on horseback. The carriage to force a passage, and few venFalmouth and Plymouth coach and its tured on the bazardous attempt. Accipassengers were obliged to remain at St. dents, both distressing and fatal, occurred. Austell.
In several streets and lanes the poorer At Plymouth, the snow was nearly four inhabitants were literally blocked up in feet high in several of the streets.
their houses, and in the attempt to go At Liverpool, on the 17th of January, abroad, experienced every kind of misery. Fabrenheit's thermometer, in the Athe- The number of deaths from cold and næum, stood at fifteen degrees ; seven distress were greater than at any other below the freezing point. From the ice period, unless at the time of the plague. accumulated in the Mersey, boats could There were eighty funerals on the Sunday
before this date. The coffin-makers in gardens on the east side, from the cross Cook-street could with difficulty com to the bridge, and invaded the houses plete their numerous jorders : and not a behind by the doors and windows, exfew poor people lay dead in their wretched tinguishing the fires in a moment, lifting rooms for several days, from the impos- and tumbling the furniture, and gushing sibility of procuring assistance to convey out at the front doors with incredible them to the Hospital-fields, and the great rapidity. Its principal inroad was by difficulty and danger of attempting to the end of a bridge. Here, while the open the ground, which was very uneven, houses stood as a bank on either side, it and where the snow remained in some came crashing and roaring up the street parts, twenty feet deep.
in full career, casting forth, within a few From Canterbury, January 25, the yards of the cross, floats of ice like millcommunication with the metropolis was stones. The houses on the west side not open from Monday until Saturday were in the same situation with those on preceding this date, when the snow was the east. At one place the water was cut through by the military at Chatham- running on the house-eaves, at another hill, and near Gravesend; and the stages it was near the door-head, and midway proceeded with their passengers. The up the street, it stood three feet and a mail of the Thursday night arrived at half above the door. Had it advanced Canterbury late on Friday evening, the five minutes longer in this direction, the bags having been conveyed part of the whole village must have been inundated. distance upon men's shoulders. The bags of Friday and Saturday night arrived
During this frost a great number of together on Sunday morning about ten
the fish called golden maids, were picked o'clock. Dalrymple , North Britain, January prices. They floated ashore quite blind,
up on Brighton beach and sold at good 29.-Wednesday, the 26th, was an epoch having been reduced to that state by the ever to be remembered by the inhabitants of this village. The thaw of that and the preceding day had opened the Doon, formerly “ bound like a rock," to a con Annexed are a few of the casualties siderable distance above this; and the consequent on this great frost. A woman melting of the snow on the adjacent hills was found frozen to death on the Highswelled the river beyond its usual height, gate-road. She proved to have been a and burst up vast fragments of ice and charwoman, returning from Highgate, congealed snow. It forced them forward where she had been at work, to Pancras. with irresistible iinpetuosity, bending A poor woman named Wood, while trees like willows, carrying down Skel- crossing Blackheath from Leigh to the ton-bridge, and sweeping all before it village of Charlton, accompanied by her The overwhelming torrent in its awful
two children, was benighted, and missed progress accumulated a prodigious mass her way. After various efforts to extriof the frozen element, which, as if in cate herself, she fell into a hole, and was wanton frolic, it heaved out into the fields nearly buried in the snow. From this, on both sides, covering acres of ground however, she contrived to escape, and many feet deep. Alternately loading again proceeded; but at length, being and discharging in this manner, it came completely exhausted, and her children to a door or two in the village, as if to benumbed with cold, she sat down on apprize the inhabitants of its powers. the trunk of a tree, where, wrapping her The river having deserted its wonted children in her cloak, she endeavoured by channel, endeavoured to make its grand loud cries to attract the attention of some entry by several courses successively in passengers. Her shrieks at length were Saint Valley, and finding no one of them heard by a waggoner, who humanely sufficient for its reception, took them waded through the snow to her assistance, altogether, and overrunning the whole and taking her children, who seemed in holm at once, appeared here in terrific
a torpid state, in his arms, he conducted grandeur, between seven and eight o'clock her to a public-house; one of the infants in the evening, when the moon retreated was frozen to death, and the other was behind a cloud, and the gloom of night recovered with extreme difficulty. added to the horrors of the tremendous As some workmen were clearing away
Like a sea, it overflowed all the the snow, which was twelve feet deep, at
Kipton, on the border of Northampton- mass as to render it immovable by the shire, the body of a child about three tide. years old was discovered, and imme On Tuesday, February 1, the river diately afterwards the body of its mother. presented a thoroughly solid surface over She was the wife of a soldier of the 16th that part which extends from Blackfriars regiment, returning home with her infant Bridge to some distance below Three after accompanying her husband to the Crane Stairs, at the bottom of Queenplace of embarkation. It was supposed street, Cheapside. The watermen placed they had been a week in the snow. notices at the end of all the streets lead
There was found lying in the road ing to the city side of the river, anleading from Longford to Upbam, frozen nouncing a safe footway over, which to death, a Mr. Apthorne, a grazier, at attracted immense crowds, and in a short Coltsworth. He had left Hounslow at time thousands perambulated the rugged dusk on Monday evening, after having plain, where a variety of amusements drank rather freely, and proposed to go were provided. Among the more curious that night to Marlow.
of these was the ceremony of roasting a On his return from Wakefield market, small sheep, or rather toasting or burning Mr. Husband, of Holroyd Hall, was it over a coal fire, placed in a large iron frozen to death, within little more than pan. For a view of this extraordinary a hundred yards of the house of his spectacle, sixpence was demanded, and nephew, with whom he resided.
willingly paid. The delicate meat, when Mr. Chapman, organist, and master of done, was sold at a shilling a slice, and the central school at Andover, Hants, termed “ Lapland mutton.”
There were was frozen to death near Wallop, in that a great number of booths ornamented county.
with streamers, flags, and signs, and A young man named Monk, while within them there was a plentiful store driving a stage-coach near Ryegate, was of favourite luxuries with most of the thrown off the box on a lump of frozen multitude, gin, beer, and gingerbread. snow, and killed on the spot.
The thoroughfare opposite Three Crane
Stairs was complete and well frequented. The thermometer during this intense It was strewed with ashes, and afforded frost was as low as 70 and go of Fahren a very safe, although a very rough path. heit, in the neighbourhood of London. Near Blackfriars Bridge, however, the There are instances of its having been way was not equally severe; a plumber, lower in many seasons, but so long a named Davis, having imprudently vencontinuance of very cold weather was tured to cross with some lead in his never experienced in this climate within hands, sank between two masses of ice, the memory of man.
and rose no more. Two young women
nearly shared a similar fate; they were Frost Fair-1814, rescued from their perilous situation by
the prompt efforts of two watermen. On Sunday, the 30th of January, the Many a air nymph indeed was emimmense masses of ice that floated from braced in the icy arms of old Father the upper parts of the river, in conse- Thames ;-three young quakeresses had quence of the thaw on the two preceding a sort of semi-bathing, near London days, blocked up the Thames between Bridge, and when landed on terra-firma, Blackfriars and London Bridges ; and made the best of their way through the afforded every probability of its being Borough, amidst the shouts of an adfrozen over in a day or two. Some ad- miring populace. From the entire obventurous persons even now walked on struction the tide did not appear to ebb different parts, and on the next day, for some days more than one half the Monday the 31st, the expectation was usual mark. realized. During the whole of the after On Wednesday, Feb. 2, the sports were noon, hundreds of people were assembled repeated, and the Thames presented a on Blackfriars and London Bridges, to complete “ Frost Fair.” The grand see people cross and recross the Thames “mall” or walk now extended from Blackon the ice. At one time seventy per- friars Bridge to London Bridge; this was sons were counted walking from Queen- named the “ City-road," and was lined hithe to the opposite shore. The frost on each side by persons of all descriptions. of Sunday night so united the vast Eight or ten printing presses were erected