The ancient kingdom of England, forming geographically the principal division of the island of Great Britain, and politically the chief division of the United Kingdom enjoys a situation which has unquestionably tended much to make the country what it is, both politically and socially. The island, of which it is the southern and larger portion, is protected from neighboring countries by a sea of sufficient breadth in most parts, and sufficiently uncertain in its condition, to throw almost insuperable difficulty in the way of an invading force. Placed in a medium latitude, it is further saved by the surrounding ocean from those extremes of heat, cold, and aridity, to which continental countries in both higher and lower parallels are often subject.
While there are some districts, chiefly in the west and north, in which an uneven surface prevails, the country may be generally described as of a level and fertile character. Almost everywhere the eye rests upon the evidences of a long-enduring cultivation, in rich corn-fields and meadows, surrounded by wellgrown hedges and rows of trees ; the elm-surrounded Gothic parish church, the clean honey-suckled village, and the well-wooded park connected with the residence of the wealthy gentleman, being other notable features in the landscape, while the monthly-roses and other flowering shrubs, which climb over the cottages of those in humbler life, give an air of picturesque beauty to the rides throughout the whole of England.
England is situated between fifty degrees and fifty-five degrees forty-five minutes north latitude, and six degrees west and one degree fifty minutes east longitude, from Greenwich observatory. On the north, the only direction in which it is not surrounded by the sea, it is divided from Scotland by a series of rivers and a chain of mountains. The greatest length, from Lizard Point in Cornwall to Berwick-upon Tweed, is four hundred miles : and the greatest breadth, from St. David's Head in Pembrokeshire to the east of Essex, is three hundred miles. The area has been variously estimated, at fifty thousand three hundred and eighty-seven, and fifty-seven thousand nine hundred and sixty square miles; it has also been estimated at thirty-seven millions seven hundred and eighty-four thousand four hundred acres, of which only about a fourth part is said to be uncultivated.
Owing to the limited extent and insular position of England, it contains no rivers comparable in magnitude to those of various continental countries. There are, nevertheless, some fine navigable streams, as the Thames, Medway, Humber, and Tyne, on the east side of the island, and the Mersey and Severn on the west side. The Trent, Ouse, Tees, Wear, Dee, Avon, and Derwent, are minor, but not inconsiderable rivers; besides which there are many of inferior importance. England contains no large lakes; but those of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire, though of small size, are celebrated for the picturesque scenery by which they are surrounded.
Wales and the west side of England generally are mountainous. The chief ranges of mountains in this district have been classed under three heads: The Devonian range, stretching from Somersetshire through Devon into Cornwall, and terminating with the promontory of the Land's End ; the Cambrian range, extending from the Bristol channel through Wales ; and the Northern or Cumbrian range, stretching' from Derbyshire through Cumberland, and passing into Scotland. None of the individual hills exceed 3,000 feet in height, except a few in Wales; the highest being Snowdon, in Caernarvonshire (3,571 feet). In the central and eastern parts of England (south of Yorkshire) there are a few ill-defined ranges of swelling eminences, but none which reach the altitude of 1,000 feet. Besides Snowdon, the principal eminences in England are David (3,427 feet) and Llewellen (3,469), both in Wales; Skafell (3,166), Skiddaw (3,022), and Saddleback (2,787), in Cumberland; and Helvellyn (3,055), in Westmoreland. The loftiest points in the Devonian range are not more than from 1,000 to 1,200 feet in height.
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