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AS DESCRIBED IN A CONTEMPORARY RENT ROLL OF THE LEGH FAMILY, IN THE POSSESSION OF THOMAS LEGH, ESQUIRE,

OF LYME PARK.

EDITED BY

WILLIAM BEAMONT, ESQ.

c. Mancherr

PRINTED FOR THE CHETHAM SOCIETY.

M.DCCC.XLIX.

Manchester:

Printed by Charles Simras and Co.

INTRODUCTION.

In the year 79 of the Christian æra, the once flourishing and populous city of Pompeii was suddenly overwhelmed and entombed by a deep shower of ashes and scoria thrown out during an eruption of Vesuvius. From that time until less than a century from our own day, this gay city of a sunny clime, with its inhabitants, their arts, their treasures, their public and private buildings, and much of their domestic history, lay deeply imbedded beneath the black and heavy pall which had thus suddenly and unexpectedly descended upon them. But although the history of this terrible calamity had been handed down by the pen of an elegant writer, himself an eye-witness of the event, no adventurous or curious explorer appears to have attempted to discover, or resuscitate the buried city, until the year A.D. 1755. From that time to the present, the work of excavation and restoration has gone on; and the traveller, who is privileged to tread the deserted streets of this once busy city, reads, in vivid characters, what was its state and condition seventeen hundred years ago. Passing a long line of ancient tombs, the last resting places of a generation who had passed away before the eruption, and who slept in their

marble abodes, unconscious of its appalling ravages, he enters the place by one of its original gateways,

"He stands within the city disinterred,

And hears the autumnal leaves, like light footfalls
Of spirits passing through the streets."

Shelley, vol. iii. p. 82.

In the tracks worn in the pavements, the flint bears witness how long, and how well frequented the streets had been by an equestrian throng, before the period when the city was destroyed. He enters this or that dwelling-house, distinguished by the character of its architecture, or the richness of its decorations. He admires the splendour of the forum, the magnificence of the theatres, or the majesty of their temples; and, beholding on every side the multiplied traces of ancient and advanced art, the truth of the wise man's observation forcibly recurs to him, that there is nothing new under the sun. But the wonder and surprise which seized the first explorers of Pompeii, on revisiting its buried recesses, may be more easily conceived than described. An interval of more than fifteen hundred years was at once obliterated, and the discoverers saw before them, in all their vividness, the habits and abodes of a generation of men who were separated from themselves by the sea of many ages. Transported thus suddenly back, they were able to identify the names and abodes of the former occupants of the city; they would see and admire their domestic economy, and their skill in the fine arts; and would grow at once familiar with their streets, their trades, their religious rites, their superstitions, and their tombs!

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