PORTSMOUTH-VIEW FROM THE SALUTING PLATFORM.

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VIEW FROM THE SALUTING PLATFORM

THE correctness of this view will be immediately recognized by every person in

the least acquainted with Portsmouth. The platform, from which it is taken, forms the

grand promenade of the inhabitants, and is usually the first place visited by strangers,

on account of the prospect which is thence obtained. Immediately in front of the

engraving is seen the northern extremity of the platform, on which are two soldiers,

who seem indulging themselves with a leisurely inhalation of the fresh breeze from the

water, after having liberally expended a portion of their own breath in sounding their

bugles at parade. Beyond the platform, the most conspicuous object is the Government

Semaphore, with three flags displayed as a signal; and to the left, the landing-place

called the King’s Stairs. Beyond the old round tower is seen the flag-ship of the Port

Admiral ; and, between her and the gun-brig which is running in, a distant view is

obtained of the Town Hall of Gosport.

Portsmouth, one of our greatest naval depots, is situated near the south western

extremity of the island of Portsea, in the county of Hampshire, and is about seventy

miles S.S.W. of London. Adjoining to it, on the northward, is the town of Portsea; and to

the south-east, without the walls, lays the suburb of South Sea. The three places may

be considered as forming one large town, under the general name of Portsmouth, the

aggregate population of which is about 50,000. The population of Gosport, which lies

to the westward of Portsmouth, on the opposite side of the harbour, is, with that of the

adjacent hamlet of Stoke, about 12,000. The docks and naval storehouses are within

the precinct of Portsea; the hospital and the victualling establishment are at Gosport;

and the offices of the Port Admiral and the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor are

at Portsmouth, within the lines of which are also the barracks for the accommodation

of the garrison. Portsmouth is strongly fortified by a circuit of bastions and a moat,

which enclose the town on the landslide, and which are connected with a similar line,

extending in a semi-circular form round the landslide of Portsea. In the event of a siege,

it would require 14,000 men to form an efficient garrison for the united towns. The

situation of Portsmouth is low and marshy ; and the peculiar smell which arises from

the mud at low water, and from the moat, may be perceived at the distance of two or

three miles, in approaching the town from the northward.

The principal church at Portsmouth stands in St. Thomas’-street, and nearly in

the centre of the town. It is dedicated to St. Thomas h Becket, and was erected between

1210 and 1220, by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester. The transept and the

chancel are the only parts which remain of the original structure, the nave and side-

aisles having been rebuilt in 1692. At the same time the old tower, which formerly stood

above the intersection of the transepts and the nave, was taken down, and the present

one erected at the western entrance. It is surmounted with a cupola, and its height is

about 120 feet.

With the exception of the older parts of St. Thomas’ Church, which afford one or

two good specimens of the Gothic style, Portsmouth contains but little in the shape of

architectural antiquities that is likely to attract the notice of the stranger. The building,

above which the Semaphore is erected, near the northern extremity of the saluting

platform, was, in former times, the residence of the governor of the town. Previous

to the suppression of the monasteries and religious houses, it belonged to a Domus

Dei, or hospital, which was founded in 1238. A part of the church of this hospital is

yet standing at a short distance to the south-east of the Semaphore, and near to the

grand parade. It is now the garrison chapel; and against its walls are placed numerous

monuments erected to the memory of officers, both naval and military, who have died in

the service of their country.

“A tomb is theirs on every page,

An epitaph on every tongue;

The present hour, the future age,

For them bewail, to them belong.

For them the voice of festal mirth

Grows hushed, — their name the only sound;

While deep remembrance pours to worth

The goblet’s tributary round.

A theme to crowds, who knew them not,

Lamented by admiring foes,

Who would not share their glorious lot!

Who would not die the death they chose!”

• Line by Lord Byron “On the Death of Sir Peter Parker”

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