The climate is rather mild, and by no means so unheal thy as might be anticipated from the fenny nature of a large portion of the county. The most unhealthy parts are the low moorish tracts near Ilnntingdon, Godmancheste•, Ramsey, and Yaxley ; for in the other parts about Kimbol ton, and indeed through the whole of the hundred of Leightonstone, the air is remart,ably good.
The principal rivers connected with Huntingdonshire are the Ouse and the Nen. The Ouse, which is generally called the Lesser Ouse, to distinguish it from a Liver of the same name in Yorkshire, enters this county from Bed fordshire between St Ncots and Little Paxton, and, in its course southwards to Ifuntingdon, is increased by a num ber of small streams from the norm-west. After passing that town, it flows eastward, and passing the west end of St Ives, becomes, near Ilolywell, the boundary between this county and Cambridgeshire, till it enters the great le vel of the fens near Erith. It is navigable along its whole line across this county. The Nen rises in Northampton shire, and reaches Huntingdonshire near Elton, where it becomes the boundary between the two counties. It after wards flows to Peterborough, below which it sinks into the fens. Some smaller streams water the north-east side of the county, together with several large metes or pools of water. Of these, Whittlesea Mere is by far the largest. In the time of Camden, it was six miles long and three broad ; but its limits are now much contracted, so that the water is said at present to cover only an area of 1570 acres. It affords excellent sailing and fishing ; and is, in the summer season, much frequented by parties of plea sure. Anciently, there was a navigation from Peterbo rough by the river to this Mere, and from thence to Ram sey.
Though this county has long been celebrated for its wealthy farmers, particularly in the vicinity of Godman chester, yet its agriculture presents very little that is inter esting or important. In Camden's time, Godmanchester was reckoned the largest village in England ; and at that period, no place employed so many ploughs; and, accord ing to that author, no people had so much advanced in agri culture, either by their purse or their genius. When James I. came through it on his journey from Scotland to take possession of the throne of England, the inhabitants met him with 70 new ploughs, drawn by as many teams of horses; for they hold their lands by this tenure, that, whenever the sovereign took this place in their progress, the farmers should make the most pompous appearance with ploughs and horses, adorned like triumphal cars with rustic trophies. King James was so pleased with the sight, that he granted them a charter constituting Godmanchester a borough, at the same time condescending to partake of a collation prepared under a bush, still known by the name of the King's Bush, and the Beggar's Bush. But Hun
tingdonshire is no longer remarkable for the excellence of its agriculture; nor, indeed, could improvement in this most useful art be excited in a county where so large a proportion of the land is still in the barbarous state of open •field. Besides the common produce of wheat, barley, oats, hemp, and rape in the fens, turnips on the drier soils, and a few hops, this county grows a considerable quantity of mustard : it is cultivated on various soils, chiefly rich loam, good old pasture land, rich clay, and the best fen soils. The ground is ploughed only once for it : it is sown any time between Candlemas and Lady Day. There are two kinds, the black and white ; the former is most esteem ed. The weeding is performed by sheep, which will not eat the mustard. The produce is from 28 to 44 bushels per acre.
The breed of sheep upon the enclosed lands is of a mix ed description, nearly approaching to the Leicestershire and Lincolnshire kinds, with which the native breeds have been much crossed. Those bred on the open fields and commons are much inferior. The cattle are for the most part the refuse of the Lancashire, Leicestershire, and Der byshir e breeds : oxen are purchased for gt axing without any attention to the breed, and are used in • husbandry. From the open state of the county, dairy farm ing is not much followed ; and the cows are used for stick ling calves in the southern parts, to supply the London market. The rich and celebrated cheese, called Stilton cheese, takes its name from a village in Huntingdonshire; but it is made in the vicinity of ',Nichol) Mowbray in Leices tershire; and it is generally supposed never to have been made at Stilton, but always to have been sent there for sale: of this, however, there seems some doubt. Mr Nicholls, in his History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, says, that it began to be made in the parish of Little Dalby, in that county, about the year 1730 ; but, on the other hand, there is the evidence of a very old inhabitant of Stilton, who died there about the year 1777, aged 80 years, that; when he was a boy, the cream used to be collected in the neighbouring villages for the purpose of making Stilton cheese : this of course fixes the making of this famous cheese at Stilton long before, according to Mr Nicholls' evidence, it was made in Leicestershire. In the fens of Huntingdonshire, mares are used for all the purposes of agriculture; and every farmer breeds from them as many foals as be can, selling the colts off at two years old, and as many of the fillies as can be spared, with proper atten tion to the team. The high roads in this county, in gene ral, are tolerably good ; the cross roads are but indiffer ent, and in the winter season many of them are nearly im passable.