Observations on the River Wye  

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"The following little work proposes a new object of pursuit; that of examining the face of a country by the rules of picturesque beauty."--Observations on the River Wye (1782) by William Gilpin

Wye Tour

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales, etc. Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the Summer of the Year 1770 (1782) is a text by William Gilpin. It is a practical book which instructed England's leisured travelers to examine "the face of a country by the rules of picturesque beauty". Picturesque, along with the aesthetic and cultural strands of Gothic and Celticism, was a part of the emerging Romantic sensibility of the 18th century.

As the title of Gilpin's work suggests, picturesque needs to be explained in terms of its relationship to two other aesthetic ideals: those of the beautiful and the sublime. By the last third of the 18th century, Enlightenment rationalist ideas about aestheticism were being challenged by looking at the experiences of beauty and sublimity as being non-rational (instinctual). Aesthetic experience was not just a rational decision - one did not look at a pleasing curved form and decide it was beautiful - rather it was a matter of basic human instinct and came naturally. Edmund Burke in his 1757 Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful said the soft gentle curves appealed, he thought, to the male sexual desire, while the sublime horrors appealed to our desires for self-preservation. Picturesque arose as a mediator between the opposed ideals of beauty and the sublime, showing the possibilities that existed in between these two rationally idealized states. As Thomas Gray wrote in 1765 of the Scottish Highlands "The mountains are ecstatic.. None but.. God know how to join so much beauty with so much horror." See also Gilpin and the picturesque.

See also

Full text[1]


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Strahan and Preftori) Printers-Street, London.




T?SSEX road. — Epping-foreft. — Wanfled-houfe. — '^^ Remarks on the ornament of bad pictures.


Woodford. — View of the joth ftone. — Another at the 13th. — Chefterford. — Lord Thomond's. — Audley-end. — Cambridge road. — Qogmagog hills. — Cambridge. — Queen's walk. — Clare-hall-piece. — King's college chap- pel. — Trinity-college. — Sir Ifaac Newton's ftatue. — Re- marks on ftatuary. — The fenate-houfe. The public

library. The fchools.


Fens. — - Comparifon between a lake and a fen. — Ely. The cathedral. — The parifh-church.


Situation of Ely — befieged by William I. — taken in the third year of the fiege.




Road beyond Ely. — Soham. — The fands. — Account of Scotch fands. — Brandon. — Strange ftory of mice and owls. — SwafFham,


Caftle-acre. — Country about Lexham. — Raynham. — Remarks on Salvator's Bellifarius — compared with Van- dyck's. — Catherine' of Medicis.


Houghton-hall. — Account of the moll ftriking pic- tures.


A catalogue of all the pidures, bought by the emprefs of Ruflia, with the prices annexed.


Road from Houghton to Holkam. — Holkam. — Wells. ^ Stiffkey. — Clay. — Holt. — Vv^olterton. — Blick- lin. — Library collected by fir Richard Ellis.


Road from Blicklin to Norwich. — Norwich. -^ The Yar. — The Waveny-meadows. — Scotch cattle. — Stoneham. — Ipfwich. — Road towards Colcheiler. — Norfolk-cattle.




Road toward Colchefter continued. — Colchefter. — St. Botolph's. — Scene of the incampment of Cromwell's army. — Sir Charles Lucas, and Sir George Lille. — Lord Grim- fton*s woods. '— Mr. Ducane's woods. — Lord Waltham's woods — his houfe. — Chelmsford. — Ingatfton. — Lord Petre's houfe. — View from Thurdon-hill, — Rum- ford.



Dunham-hall. — Salt-pits at Northwich — Delamere- foreft. — Beellon-caflle. — Chefter.


Harden-caftle. — Mold. — Ruthin — the caftle. — Vale of Ciuyd. — Denbigh — the Caftle. — Gwaynynog. — Lleweny. — Valley of CyfFredin.


Plafcoch. — Rhyddland-marfli — the caftle. — St. , Afaph. — Penmanbach. — Llandidno. — Perigrine fal- con,




Conway-caflle. — The river. • — Remarks on the introduc- tion of callles into land — on ruined caftles. — Pearl fifhery.


Succinant. — Penmanmawr. — Defcription of the road.


Lavan-fands. — Anglefea. — Defcription of the view from the fands. — Orm's-head. — Devil's cauldron, — Bangor. — Priell-holm.


Beaumaris. — Lavan fands formerly a marfli. — Welfh MS. — Beaumaris-caftle built by Edward I. — Anglefea.

SECT. vm.

"Woods of Penthryn. — Snov/don — formerly the retreat of Llewelin.


Pennant's account of the fummit of Snowdon. — Volney's defcription of Lebanon.


Snowdon confidered in a pifturefque light, — Dolbad- dern caftie built by Edward I. — Combrunog. — defcrip- tion of two lakes at Dolbaddern.




Carnarvon — the caftle — the birth place of Edward II. — Banks of the Menai. — Bangor. — Denbigh.


Vale of Cluyd. — Vale of Crucis — the abbey — its fituation — the proprietor's attempts at improvement.


Valley of the Dee. — Obfervations on pl6i:urefque com- pofition. — Beauties of the valley. ^


Llangollen — the bridge. — The river Dee. — Crow-caf- tle. — Lake of Bala. — Chirk-caftle. — Winftay. — Obfer- vations on the courfe of the Dee.


Ofweftry. — Shrewibury — its origin. — Battle-field, the fite of the batttle between Henry IV. and Hotfpur. — Road from Shrewfbury to Wenlock. — The Wrekln. — Ob- fervations on cultivation in landfcape. — Bildwas-abbey. — Lady-oak, — Wenlock-edge.


"Wenlock- abbey. — Remarkable flip of the banks of the Severn. — Road from Wenloch to Bridgenorth. — Bridge- north. — Story of Hubert de St. Clare.



SECT. xvir.

Road from Bridgenorth to Worcefter. — Worcefter. -^ The church. — Monument of bifhoo Hough. — The librayr. — Peifhore. — Abbot's-town.


Vale of Everfham. — Chapel-houfe. — Woodftock. -^ Blenheim-caftle. — Oxford. — Benfington. — Nettle-bed. — Approach to Henley. — Hounflow-heath. •— Kingfton.


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List of the plates.


L Cambridge - - . - fronting Page i6 IL Fenny-country - -- ---- i5

III. Ely-church -----j. - - i8


V. Castle-acre ---- -_. . 33 VI. Diftant View of Norwich - - - - 83

VII. NoRWICH-CASTLE - - - - - - - St'^

VIII. St* Botqlph's Colchester - - - 8S


IX. View into Wales and Beeston-cas*

TLE r- Page 100

X. Denbigh-castle - - - - t - - 10;/ XI. Rhyddland-castle at a Diftance - 114 XIL The Coafl about Penmanbagh and


%.lll. View of Conway-castle - - - 119

a Ruin

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XIV, Ruin illuftrated with regard to its Ge- neral Form - - - - - Page 122 XV. Road at Succinant - - - _ 125 XVI. View of Penmanmawr - - - - 126 XVII. DoLBADDERN-CASTLE at a Diftance 156 XVIII. Lower-lake, as it appears from Dol-


XIX. View of the Wre KIN - - - - - 189

]^X. Wenloch-abbey - - - - - - -9^








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nr^HE following remarks were the refult of ■^ a hafty tour through EfTex, Suffolk, and Norfolk. The principal view indeed of this journey, was to examine Lord Orford's pictures at Houghton-hall ; which I mention as an apology for dwelling fo long on fo difpropor- tioned a part.

The EfTex road, as we leave London, makes a fhort turn from Clapton to Lea-bridge; beyond which it crolTes the meadows in a dire6l line, and cuts at right angles a woody horizon, confifling of a diflant view of Epping- forell. The meadows are flat, and the Lea, of

p courfe,

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eourfe, is fluggifh. Little beauty can refult either from one, or the other.

From hence the road leads into clofe lanes -, and the country continuing flat, feldom opens into a dillance. Wherever an opening prefents itfelf, it is crouded with buildings, which are the fatiguing obje6ts in every part of the en- virons of London. So great a number of them, inflead of adorning landfcape, diftradt the eye, and deftroy all idea of unity. One obje6l, or two, in a view, is fufficient j but not fuch as we meet with here.

Epping-forefl is in many parts little better than a barren heath. About Snarefbrook we found it wild, woody, and pi6lurefque.

Lord Tilney's at Wanfted, built by Colin Campbell, perhaps of all the great houfes in England, anfwers beft the united purpofes of grandeur, and convenience. The plan is fim- ple, but magnificent. The front extends two hundred, and fixty feet, A hall, and a faloon occupy the body of the houfe, forming the cen- ter of each front. From thefe run a double

  • row

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row of chambers. Nothing can exceed their convenience. They communicate in one grand fuit ; and yet each, by the addition of a back

ftair, becomes a feparate apartment. It is

difficult to fay, whether we are better pleafed with the grandeur and elegance without; or with the limplicity, and contrivance within.

The chambers are furnifhed to profufion with velvets, embroidery, and tapeftry: but there are no piftures worth looking at ; and yet there is the affe6lation of a large colle6lion. Some indifferent hand has produced a great variety of copies from Rembrant, Guido, and other mafters ; but they are of little value. Here alfo are feveral of Panini's crouded ruins ; and in the hall, and eating-parlour, many hif- tories by CafTali. Coriolanus is a tolerable pi6lure; but, in general, they confifl of bad figures, injudicious grouping, and gawdy colouring. In the ball-room is a good Portia by Skalken.

It is not eafy to avoid fuch an opportunity of remarking the abfurdity of adorning a noble houfe with tawdry pi6lures. The genuine works of capital mafters, however indifferent, have a kind of clafTical authority ftamped upon them i and if they difpleafe one connoifTeur, may

B 2 pleafe

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pleafe another. Parts in all of them we may admire ; and if there is nothing elfe to pleafe, we may be amufed with examining the mode of execution in each. Pi6lures alfo, by inferior mailers, are often excellent ; and may adorn a great houfe with propriety. We fhould wifh them however to be original. But paltry paint- ing, whether original or copied, like paltry poetry, is difgufting. Horace's rule is admira- ble in all matters of tajie.

Ut gratas inter menfas fymphonia difcors,

Et craffum unguentum, & Sardo cum melle papaver

OfFendunt ; poterat duci quia coena fine iftis :

Sic animis natum, inventumque poema juvandis.

Si paulum fummo difceflit, vergit ad imum.

There are fome things (as I fhould tranllate this paiTage) which are abfolutely neceflaryi and which therefore we muji have -, and there are other things which are merely ornamental j and which we need not have. In the former, we difpenfe with perfe6lion : but in the latter, we muft either have perfeftion or fomething very like it : becaufe the end of ornament is to pleafe 3 and if it fail in this, it does nothing. A man muft have a dinner, for inftance, and tho homely, his appetite gives it a relifh. But when a man proceeds to treat his company at dinner


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with a band of mufick, unlefs it be good, he had better omit it. Thus a man muji have a houfe j and tho his houfe be not in elegant tafte ; yet ftill it is a valuable accommodation. But if he proceed to ornament his houfe j unlefs his orna- ments are elegant, his houfe is better without them ;

— — poterat duci quia coena fine iftis.

We may add, that paltry copies from great mafters take from the dignity of a noble manlion. If the ancefcry of fuch a houfe had been many years in the pollellion of it, it may be fuppofed they might have collefted a few original pi6lures. If nothing of that kind is found in it, the pofTeffors of the houfe may be fuppofed to be an upftart race.


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FROM Lord Tilney's we proceeded, through the forefl, to Woodford 3 in the neighbour- hood of which are fome pleafant views on the right. Ranges of villages fucceed : but no idea of foreft-fcenery. Here and there are little patches of common, circled with wood ; and a variety of villas, fhewing more the opulence, than the tafle of their owners. Sometimes the half-formed idea of a foreft-fcene breaks out : but the trees are feldom mafled — often only folitary pollards. .

At the Bald-faced Jiag, about the tenth ftone, a defcending plain, marked with many wheel- tracks, and clofed with a woody fcene, opens agreeably, A nother fcene of the fame kind rifes

B 4- about

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about the thirteenth ftone. Both thefe views afford a painter a good opportunity of ftudying the beauties of a winding road j forming an^afy Terpentine Hne, and diminifhing in perfpeft ive along a flip of wooded common. In other places, you fee it fmking into a dip of the forefl ; beyond which it appears winding among boles of trees, till it is loft in a thicket ; and is difco- vered again, perhaps at a confiderable diilance, entering a village in a direftion, contrary to that, in which it entered the wood.

About Epping the foil is a deep clay 3 the country much inclofed, and the meadows covered with a great luxuriance of natural herbage.

The road from Harlow to Chefterford affords nothing flriking. It is generally in- clofed j fometimes between high banks 3 and feldom opens into the country.

Lord Thomond's improvements, I fhould fuppofe, deferve notice. We had time only to


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give them a glance. The rivers and it's banks feemed more natural, than fuch modes of improvement cohimonly are j and the fcenery, on the whole, has an agreeable air.

Audley-end, or Audley-inn, as it was for- merly called, about two miles farther, was built by the Lord treafurer Audley in James the firll's time; and was perhaps the moil magnificent private houfe, that ever was erefted in England. One of king James's foolifh fpeeches is handed down on this occafion. It was fuitable, he faid, to a lord treafurer ; but too large for a king. If James meant any thing by this expreffion, it was that his treafurer had grown rich too fud- denly. He fhould either therefore have cor- rected the abufe ; or not have avowed the opi- nion. The archite6l of this magnificent palace was Bernard Janfen ; whofe original plan, tho now much difmembered, was fuppofed at that day, to be a work of as much tafte, as grandeur. A gallery, ninety-five yards in length has been taken down, together with a chappel, and fome other fpacious apartments, which compleated the back-front, and made at leaft a fourth part of the whole building. Sir John Vanbrugh


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was afterwards employed in forming the re- mainder into a whole ; in which he was thought

to have fhewn but little judgment. Audley-

end however, tho the improved grounds around it did not appear to us very interelling, is flill among the places pointed out, as worth feeing on this road.

The country beyond Audley-end grows chalky, bare, expofed, ridgy, and unpleafant; and, after we leave Cheiterford, it becomes flat alfo. The diftances, fuch as they are (no where farnifhed with variety of objefts, nor ever remote) are terminated with one even line of horizon: and the foregrounds are fpungy fwamps, producing only rufhes, the natural appendages of a fenny country. Gog-magog- hills, which we leave on the right, fo little defer ve the name of hills , that we fhould not have obferved them, unlefs they had been pointed out to us.

Cambridge makes no appearance at a dif- tance, King's-college chappel, is the only obje6l, which prefents itfelf with any dignity, as we approach.

At the end of Queen's" walk, Clare-hall makes a good perfpeSlhe, When you fee it


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ii^ front, as you do from Clare-hall-piece, it lofes half its grandeur. In full view, you are fure you fee the whole : whereas a perfpe6live view leaves the imagination room to extend the idea.

Kings-college chappel gives us on the outjide, a very beautiful form: within, tho it is an immenfe, and noble aifle, prefenting the adjund idea of lightnefs, and folemnityj yet its difproportion difgufts. Such height, and fuch length, united by fuch ftraitened parallels, hurt the eye. You feel immured. Henry the Sixth, we are told, fpent twelve hundred pounds in adorning the roof. It is a pity he had not fpent it in widening the walls. We fhould then have had a better form, and fhould have been reUeved from the tedious repetition of rofes and portcullifTes -, which are at beil but heavy, and unpleafmg ornaments.

Trinity -library is a well proportioned room. In the anti-chappel, the flatue of Newton is a mafter-piece. The chara6ler is rather boyifh : but the attitude, the expreffion, the manage- ment of the drapery, and indeed the whole,

and every part, are excellent. A fine flatue

I have often thought one of the greatefl efforts of human art. After th^ idea is conceived, the


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model is made j which is the great work of genius. As the model anfwers in ftatuary to the fketch in painting, it has much of it's virtue; and is often more fpirited and beau- tiful, than the ftatue itfelf. We however, who cannot have feen the models of the Apollo, or the Laocoon, muft be content with the flatues : and may remain the more fatisiied, as we can conceive nothing in ftatuary higher. — But ftill, though the model is the grand effort of genius, the mechanical part appears to be attended with great difficulty. Marble, and bronze, are fuch untraftable materials, that it is wonderful to fee them brought to afTume, in any degree, the foftnefs of flefh, or the pliant folds of drapery. For myfelf, therefore, I cannot but look with more commiferation at a wretched ftatue, than at a bad pi6lure. Some of the chief difficulties of the fculptor are unknown to the painter. The painter has only one furface to manage; one pofition to fecure; and the du6lile materials of oil and colour to work with. Michael Angelo was equally fkilled in painting, and in ftatuary; and, we are told, divided his time between them : but for one figure, which he produced in fculpture, he probably painted fifty piftures.


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Under the benign influence of fuch remarks, we forbore to criticize four very indifferent ftatues, which prefented themfelves in the Senate-houfe. The duke of Somerfet's is the beft i but it has only a low degree of comparifon,

in its favour. The Senate-houfe is a heavy

building ; and the gallery makes it heavier.

The public-library, however richly ftored with books, is not an obje61: to be fhewn. Nor are the public-fchools any ornament to the imiverfity.


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T7ROM Cambridge the road to Ely led us immediately among fens. Trees, groves, extenfive diftances, and all the variety of landfcape, are now totally gone. All is blank. The eye meets nothing but dreary caufeways ;

qua Pontinas via dividit uva paludes.

Stretches of flat, fwampy ground; and long ditches running in ftrait lines ; and inter- fe(Sted, at right angles, in various parts, by other ditches, make the v^hole of the fcenery on each fide. In the room of fuch beautiful objects as often adorn landfcape, the only orna- ments of this dreary furface are v^indmills, thofe types of expofure ; and thefe v^e obferved, in fome places, acceflible only by boats. Their ufe is to pump off the v^aters into the channel


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of the river: in dry fummers this is in part effec- ted naturally. But in fo flat a furface the water commonly lies longj and in many parts ftretches as far as the eye can reach j the road running through it, like a lengthened mole, in perfpeclive. The whole fcene refembles that melancholy one defcribed by Tacitus, in which a great part of the army of Germanicus was loft. " Anguftus trames, vaftas inter paludes, quondam a L. Domitio aggeratus. Caetera limofa, tenacia gravi coeno, aut rivis incertis erant."

A fen differs from a lake in thele particulars* — A lake is the produce of a mountainous country, formed commonly by a rapid river, which carries ojff the fuperfluous waters in the continuance of the fame ftream, that introduced

them. A fen, on the contrary, is generated

on a flat by land-fprings, or the exuberance of rain-waters ; which, having no natural dif- charge, but by exhalation or through the pores of the earth, ftagnate, and putrify upon the furface.

The lake has commonly a beautiful line, formed by the undulation of the rocks, and

rifmg grounds along it's banks. . The fen

unites in rufliy plalhes, with the fwampy foil,


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on which it borders. Here and there, as the waters fubfide, the eye^ traces a line of decaying fedge, and other offenfive fihh, which is left behind,

Inftead of the rocks, and woods, which fo beautifully adorn the lake, the fen prefents at beft only pollard-willows, defouled with flime, and oozy refufe hanging from their branches ; {landing in lines, and marking the hedge-rows, which appear by degrees, as the waters retire.

Again, the lake is a refplendent mirror, refle<5ling trees, and rocks from it's margin-, and the cope of heaven from it's bofom j all

glowing in the vivid tints of nature. The

fen, fpread with vegetable corruption, or craw- ling with animal generation, forms a furface, without depth, or fluidity -, and is fo far from reflefting an image, that, it hardly comes within the definition of a fluid.

Laflly, the lake is generally adorned with light fkiffs, fkimming, with white fails, along it's banks •-, or with fifhing-boats, drawing their circular nets 3 or groups of cattle laving their fides near the ftiore, — -^ The fen has no chear- ful inhabitants. Here and there may be feen a miferable cow, or horfe, (which in quefl of a mouthful of better herbage, had ventured too

G far)

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far) dragging its legs, befmeared with flime ; and endeavouring with painful operation to get fome ftable footing.

Through this uncomfortable country we travelled between Cambridge and Ely. It is fuch a country as a man would wifh to fee once for curiofity j but would never defire to vifit a fecond time. One view fufficiently imprints the idea. Indeed where there is but one idea, there can arife no confufion in the recollection.

As we approached Ely, the country afTumed a better face. The ground rofe out of the fens, from whence this little diftri6l aflumes the name of the Ifle of Ely: a degree of cultivation appeared ; and here and there a few trees gave fome life to the fcene.

Ely cathedral is a noble obje6l at a diilance : and on the fpot we found it a beautiful fample of the various modes, and improvements of

Saxon architecture very inferior indeed to

pure Gothic J yet much beyond that mixed ftyle, of which many cathedrals are compofed. In point of mere magnificence, it equals any thing, I believe, in the kingdom.

On entering the nave at the great gate, we have an effeCl in ^rchiteClure, which is always


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pleafing in painting — that of a graduating light. It was not, I fuppofe, for the purpofe of producing this efFe6l, that the windows at the entrance are gloomy. The gloom however is folemn ; and among fo many arches, and pillars exceedingly grand. As you walk up the nave, the light begins more and more to fteal in upon you^ till you arrive near the tranfept, where it fheds all it's luftre from a

magnificent lantern-dome placed above it.

We meet with this graduating effeSi of light fometimes in nature : but I have not often met with it in architecture. We regretted how- ever, that we faw this noble fabric in much confulion : the chapter were altering the choir ; and the ground being lowered, coffins, and monuments, and heaps of earth, and engines, and broken pews, and rails, and fcafFolding were all fo mingled together, that it was impoffible to judge, either of it's prefent or of it's intended efFe6l.

Contiguous to the cathedral is a piece of architedlure, purely Gothic, which goes by the name of the pariJJo-church, The internal proportions, and harmony of this building pleafed us much. It is in miferable plight; and feme of the windows are even blocked up : c 2 but

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but if it were repaired, and elegantly beautified, it would perhaps be one of the moft plealing rooms of the kind in England. We were informed at Ely, by our condu6lor that King's- college chapel in Cambridge was modelled from this ftru6lure. If it was, the architeft has ftrangely miftaken the proportions. King's- college chapel is in length two hundred and ninety one feet j but being divided in the middle by a Ikreen, the length of each part is one hundred and forty five feet. In breadth it is forty five, and in height feventy eight. The chapel at Ely is in length one hundred feet, in breadth forty fix, and in height fixty. The firft proportion is certainly a bad one j the latter, highly beautiful.


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^ I HE ille of Ely was formerly the fite of a monaftery ; and was more than once, from the difficulty of accefs to it, confidered as a fortrefs. The mofl memorable fiege it underwent, was conduced by William the conqueror j and it is worth a fhort detail, were it only to fhew the nature of the country, of which it gives a flronger im- preffion, than any defcription can do. This fiege is curforily mentioned by Rapin; but Bentham, in his Antiquities of Ely, has col- le6led the beft detail of it : from whom I have extra6led the few following particulars. Thurfton was then the abbot. He, and his monks having received great favours from Harold, efpoufed the part of Edgar Etheling ; and their inclinations being known, many of the difcontented barons, at a time when

c 3 the

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the Normans were held in common detefta- tion, retired with their adherents to the ifle of Ely, as to an afylum. Among thefe were the potent earls of Chefter and Northumber- land. This conflux obtaining by degrees the appearance of a garrifon, the chiefs of it came to a refolution to fortify the ifle againft William j and chofe Hereward, lord of Brune in Lincolnfliire, to be their commander. Hereward having been banifhed in a late reign, had fpent his youth abroad as a fol- dier of fortune. His father dying foon after the battle of Haftings, he came home with a hope of accommodating his affairs, as he had given no offence to William. But find- ing his lands beffowed on a Norman, he got together a few of his old tenants, and in the firfl: excefles of his rage, took forci- ble polfeflion. This action, drawing on him the refentment of William, he joined the mal-contents in the ifle of Ely, where he was confidered as a great acquifltion.

In the beginning of the year 1069, Wil- liam drew his forces towards the fens, againft the garrifon of Ely, which grew daily more formidable. Having fecured all the paffes, mi the eaft, which led into Suffolk, he began

3 a pro-

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a prodigious mole on the weft, which he carried two miles into the water, forming it on piles, and lining it with bags of earth* His intention was to join it to the ifle, as the beft means of accefs to the town. He had almoft compleated his works, when Here- ward fallying out, drove him from them, — • attacked his molej and in a few hours de- ftroyed the operations of a fummer^

Early the next year however, William re- turned } and having been unfuccefsful in his laft attempt on the weftern fide, he endea- voured to fecure a more favourable paflage over the fens on the eaft, where a neck of land running out, would affift his labour. But tho he gained an advantage in one point, he loft it in another* The paflage was fhort; but the waters were danger- ous. The tide often, on this fide, forces it's way up the Oufe, and other rivers of the fens, in an extraordinary manner; and the floods occafioned by this influx, of which William was not aware, deftroyed his vvorks*

The year however was not yet far ad* vanced. He called a council therefore at Brandon, in which it was determined to make a new attempt, where he had made one at

G 4 firft.

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lirft. With great difpatch he got together magazines, and materials, and laid the foun- dation of a new mole. — In the mean time Hereward, wifliing to check his operations, before he had proceeded the length he had done before, entered his camp in the habit of a fifherman ; and having obtained the intelli* gence he wanted, made a fally in his boats (probably by night) burnt the Norman forts, and magazines, and rendered all farther at- tempts this year, impra6licable.

The fiege however having now continued two years, the monks, at whofe expence it was chiefly carried on, began to be heartily tired of it. Their larders were devoured — their cellars were exhauiVed — their paftures depopulated ; and their corn-ricks confumed. They could not have received more injury from the ene- my himfelf. They were neglected alfo, as well as plundered. When the abbey-bell rang for dinner, inftead of fitting down in their own hall to a quiet meal, they were confidered rather as intruders. Every chief took his feat at table under his own arms, which hanging againfl the wall, denoted his place. The poor monks got what they could. Tired therefore of this expence, and '• negledy

' ( 25 )

negle6l, fome writers fay, they found means , in the third year of the fiege, to introduce the king's troops. Others fay, that William made a new mole, and being more fortunate, took the place by afTault. That the monks were diflatisfied with their military aflbciates, is beyond a doubt. But they feem to have been patient fufFerers : for when William, in the year 1071, took the place, it appears, that the monaftery fell as much under his difpleafure, as the garrifon.


( 27 )

SEC T. y.

T^ROM Ely we propofed to crofs the country by Lynn to Houghton : but being informed, that the fens beyond Ely were impaflable, we had no inclination to make the trial j having feen enough of the fens already to have no defire to fee them in a ftill more inhofpitable ftate. We altered our courfe therefore, and took our route by Mildon-hall.

The road, through five or fix miles, is a good turnpike, raifed over fwampy grounds, cut every where acrofs with drains, and ditches, as we found them in our approach to Ely. Rows of pollards with flime hanging from their branches, marked the limits of hedges, which emerged, as the waters drained off. In the mean time a circumfcribed hori- zon of fenny furface was our only diftance.


( 28 )

If it had been remote, it might have loft

in obfcurity it's difgufting form. But it's

difagreable features were apparent to the utmoft verge of it's extent.

We foon however found, that we were in the neighbourhood of a country ftill more difagreeable, at leaft for traveUing, than a fenny one. This was a vaft tra6t of fand. At Soham, which is a confiderable village, we landed, if I may fo fpeak, from the fensj and hoped we had now gotten upon ftable ground. But we foon found our miftake. We had fcarce left it, when we entered upon the fands j and only changed the colour of our landfcape; both of them being equally wild, open, and dreary. Not a tree was to be feen. The line of the horizon was fcarcely broken with a fmgle bufh. The wildnefs was in feme degree lefTened by a few patch- faced fheep, and a few ftraggling cattle graz- ing in the greener parts. But this little

appearance of herbage foon went off. In a few miles the country became an abfolute de- fert. Nothing was to be feen on either fide, but fand, and fcattered gravel, without the


( 29 )

leaft vegetation ; a mere African defert : ager arenofus, una fpecie sequalis, nudus gignen- tium*. In fome places this fandy v/afte oc- cupied the whole fcope of the eye : in other places, at a diftance, we could fee a fldrting of green, with a few flraggling buihes, which being furrounded by fand, appeared like a ftretch of low land, fhooting into the fea. The whole country indeed had the appear- ance of a beaten fea-coaft ; but without the beauties, which adorn that fpecies of land- fcape. In many places we faw the fand even driven into ridges 3 and the road totally co- vered ; which indeed was every where fo deep, and heavy, that four horfes, which we were obliged to take, could fcarce in the flowefl pace, drag us through it. It was a little furprizing to find fuch a piece of ahfolute defert almoft in the heart of England. To us it was a novel idea. We had not even heard of it.

In fome parts of the northern coaft of Scotland, dry, floating fands are very danger- ous, often covering lands and houfes. I have

  • Salluft. Bell. Jugurth.


( 30 )

fomewhere met with an account, (tho I can^ not readily quote my authority), that thefe Scotch fands were once fixed by a fort of matted-grafs, which cattle will not eat ; but the country people deftroying the grafs for fuel, an a6l of parliament pafTed in the

reign of George II., to prote6l it. It

has been recommended, I have alfo heard, to the Norfolk gentlemen, to fow this grafs, as a mean to fix thefe fands«:

By degrees the country acquires a better furface. Breaks of herbage begin, here and there, to arifej but it is dry, and meagre, fomething between grafs, and rufhes, thinly fcattered over plots of fand. No animals are feen, except a few rabbits, which are the only inhabitants it can provide for.

At Brandon (called by the country people Bran) we crofTed the Oufe into Norfolk. Our road at firft led through an intermixture of fand, and downj here and there varied with a few trees ; but, on the whole, very un- pleafmg, and unpi6lurefque. A little before we reach Swaffham, we get intp lanes.

A few

( 31 )

A few miles on the north of Brandon, lies a fmall peninfula called Helgay-fen, con- fifting of about one thoufand acres. Pe- riodically, in fix or feven years, this little diftrift, we were informed, is vifited by an innumerable hoft of field-mice ; which begin a very deftru6live depredation: but precifely, at the fame time, a flight of owls arrive from Norway, (of the large, white fpecies, called the horned-owl), as if drawn by in- ftinft. The owls immediately attack the in- vaders, and live delicioufly, till they have in- tirely deflroyed them. In the mean time they are revered by the peafants, as the Duch re- vere florks. When the mice are all devoured, the owls return quietly home. I dare not venture to vouch the truth of this ilrange ftory ; as we were informed of it too late to examine the particulars on the fpot : but I believe there is at leaft fome foundation for it*.

Similar accounts we fometimes meet with. Not long ago, a fwarm of locults appeared in fuch multitudes about Athens, that the people

  • See an account of this fad in the Gentt Mag. vol. xxii.


( 32 )

were greatly alarmed for their crops of corn. But unexpe61:edly a flight of ftorks vifited the country, at the fame time, and very foon dif- patched the invaders.

Swaffham is a neat, elegant town. The ftreets are open ; and well-built. The church

is handfome, and (lands pleafantly. Every

thing indeed, about the town, was in fuch exaftnefs, and order, that the whole feemed as if it were under the dire6lion of a fmgle perfon.


■ . ;*?.*'•>.

S 1 V •■

( 33 )


Tj^ROM Swaftham the road ftill continued fandy j fometimes running through furzy- commons, and fheep-walks, which are every where inhabited by numerous flocks.

Near Newton we leave, on the left, the ruins of Caftle-acre, once the manfion of the great earl Warren ^ and able ftill to imprels the idea of it's ancient fplendor. The ruin of the citadel only now remains. It makes a kind of ragged appearance (for it's form, in a good degree is loft) on a rifmg ground, containing about an acre. But the whole fite of the caftle, and it's dependencies, are faid to have covered eighteen acres 3 which fliews the immenfe power of the chief, who diftributed fuch of his vaflals, as were' his

c ufual

( 34 ) ufual guard, in fo wide a circumference around him.

A little beyond Lexham the road pafTes through a valley, with a rifmg carpet-lawn on each fide. The view is fmgular, and pleafmg. The open country points after- wards into lanes J which grow more pleafant as we approach Raynham.

We fav/ nothing ftriking in the fituation, or houfe at Raynham. Our errand indeed was chiefly to fee Salvator's Bellifarius ; which was prefented by the late king of Pruffia, to the grandfather of the prefent lord Townfhend. It is a very noble pi6lure, of which the print gives but an inadequate ideso The unfortunate chief ftands refting againft a wall. He occupies almoft the whole piece i leaving room only for two or three foldiers, who make a diftant group. The ftory, tho told in this fimple manner, can hardly be miftaken. A blind figure, fqua- lid, tho drefl'ed in rich armour — difcovering great dignity of chara6ler, both in his own


( 35 )

appearance, and from the diftant refpe6l fhewn him by the fpe6lators — leads the

memory eaiily to recolle6t Bellifarius.

The compojition is as pleafing as the dejign. All the objects of the piece are fo contrived,

as to form a good whole. ■ The harmony

of the colouring too is excellent. An agree- able fober tint runs through the pidlure. Scarce a touch is out of tune. If any, it is a flreak of light in the Iky, on the left. Bellifarius 's drapery is rich in the higheft de- gree; and yet harmonious. His mantle is yel- low : his fafh of a white, filvery hue 3 and his armour, fteel. — — The light alfo is well difpofed. In exprejjion there is the moft deficiency. Salvator has thrown over the hero's face a quantity of fqualid hair; and the fpe(5lator muil, in a great meafure, make out the expreflion from his own imagi- nation. I fpeak only of the face, which wants fomething of the dignity of wretched- nefs ; in the aBion and character ^ greatnefs, and mifery are well united.

In lord Burlington's gallery at Chifwick, we fee the fame fubje61: by Vandyck. Both thofe piftures are equally celebrated; but I think Salvatois is greatly fuperior. With

D 2 regard

( 36 )

regard to deftgn, Vandyck's accompanying figures engage the eye too much ; and con- found the ftory. It is better imagined alfo to reprefent the old chief, as Salvator has done, in his military habit j than drefTed in a civil garment. The flory fo told is better told; and the mind is more interefted. In point of compofition alfo we give the pre- ference to Salvator. Vandyck's detached figures are no groups. Nor is there that harmony of colourings and agreeable mafs of light in his picture, v^hich ftrikes us in the other. Expreffion is the only part, in v^hich Vandyck enters into contefi: v\dth Sal- vator. There is a union of great dignity^ and wretchednefs in every part of his princi- pal figure; and the expreffion of the foldier is inimitable. He is certainly however too interefling for a fecondary figure; at the fame time, his expreffion is an index to the fpe61ator, and refers him to Bellifarius, as the obje6l of concern. After all, perhaps there may be as much exprejjion in the wonder mixed with pity, and the refpe6lful diflance of Salvator's foidrers, as in the melancholy dejedion of Vandyck's. Such ^ a ■^,0^^ of expreffion certainly ^ives an air of


( 37 )

grandeur to the fallen chief, which ' Vandyck has loft by mixing him with low charac- ters.

Befides this pi<5lur6 of Bellifarius, lord Townfend has another very capital one — Mary of Medicis by Reubens. This is an admirable portrait. In expreflion it excells. Mary's misfortunes, after the death of her hufband, Henry IV., had flirivelled her form, and thrown the gloom of melancholy over her countenace. But here it is arrayed in all it's courtly fmiles, it's chearful air, it's liveli- nefs, and fprightly fmirk, which might be natural, but were moft probably affumed. The colouring is equal to any effort of the pencil : and the difplay of light on the head, and linen round the neck is happily introduced. The hands are very inferior to the head; and it would perhaps be no injury to the pi6lure, if they were removed by a

narrower frame. Mary of Medicis was a

great incourager of the arts. She faw the merit of Reubens, and profeffed herfelf his patronefs. At her requeft he engaged in that noble work, which adorns the Luxemburgh gallery.

i> 3 Pi6luresj

( 38 )

Pi6lures, like thefe, fuggefl an idea of paintiilg between hiftory, and portrait, which might be purfued, I think, with great ad- vantage. Hiftory-painting, Hke epic poetry, is certainly the grandeft produ6lion of the art. But we feldom fee a hiftory-piece com- pleatly executed, even by the beft mafters. To conceive a noble defign — to manage the various parts, — charadler — expreffion — ac- tion — drawing — drapery — and to unite all thefe parts harmonioufly by compofition — colouring — and light — is not eafily accom- pliflied. There is at lead a better chance for fuccefs, if the painter fhould fele6t fome hiflorical chara6ler, as Salvator has done here j and ftudying it attentively, lay out his whole ftrength upon it. He might eafily make it intelligible, by fome little appendage. Mofes might be diftinguifhed by refting on the tiioo tables of the covenant : St. Paul, by holding in his hand, an epifile to the Romans : Cgefar, by a map of Gaul : Peter of Mofcovy, by a plan of Peterfburgh; and fo on. I conceive indeed, that many awkward refemblances would


( 39 )

often be made of all thefe charafters; yet ftill there might be a better chance for a good pifture, than when thefe chara6lers are brought into fome hiflorical compojition. There are fewer points to guard againft, and of

courfe lefs danger of failing. In general

indeed we ftand a better chance of a pleafmg pi6lure, even from common portraits^ than from compojitions. And indeed, if I were about to furnifh a gallery from pi6lures now in my memory, I fhould chufe to have it adorned with portraits ; as I remember more por- traits, that are throughout pleafmg pi61:ures, than I remember hiftoiy-pieces. Among the firft that occur to my memory are the Cornaro-family in Northumberland-houfe — a full-length of Charles I., over a chim- ney-piece in Hampton-court — • a portrait of Chriftiern king of Denmark, in the fame palace — Reubens, and his wife, at Blenheim — a portrait of an earl of Danby at Hamil- ton-houfe, in Scotland; and fome others, which appeared to me throughout excellent. Whereas I hardly remember one hiflorical piece, however beautiful in many of it's parts, in which there was not fomething difgufting.


( 41 )


TJ^ROM Raynham a few miles brought us to Houghton-hall, which the late lord Or- ford, formerly fir Robert Walpole, built, and furnifhed with a noble colledlion of pic- tures.

Houghton-hall {lands low ^ and is fur- rounded by an ample park. It was built on the fite of an old family manfion; and fuch trees as formerly adorned it, are large > but, in general the plantations are modern j and it is eafy to trace, from the growth of the woods, and the veiliges of hedge-rows, where the ambition of the minifter made his ornamental inroads into the acres of his inheritance. Tafte however then was not. No Brown, at that time, exifted, to condu6l the channels of wealth. And tho there are many good ftenes in this park, (as it is


( 42 )

impoffible to have wood without beauty) yet an eye ufed to the jufter improvements of tafte, is every where hurt; nor can the magnificence of the whole atone for a number of awkward parts.

The houfe is a ftately, heavy building, joined by colonades to large wings ; the whole ex- tending four hundred and fifty feet. The fta- bles are fuperb. The rooms are of a mo- derate fize, except the hall, and the faloonj the former of which is decorated in a very pleafing manner. It is plain, fimple, and ele- gant. I ihould have liked it better, if the bafes of the ftatues, and all the other orna- mental parts, had been of the fame plain ftone-colour, with which the room is painted. The furniture, and decorations of the whole houfe are grand, and rich. We fcarce ob- ferved any inftances of littlenefs or affectation* The window-cafes, and doors are of maho- gany, gilt, and very grand.

But the houfe is not the obje6l at Hough- ton. The pi6fures attract the attention : and as this is the moft celebrated colledion, in England, I examined them with what care I was able; and fhall remark fuch of

them as particularly pleafedme.- .1 ought


.( 43 )

perhaps to apologize for differing in opinion,

on fome occafions from Mr. Walpole, who

has printed a catalogue of thefe pi6lures

with remarks on feveral of them. But I

ihall always give reafons for my opinion ;

and my opinion, of courfe can have no more

weight, than the reafons, which fupport it.

I am the lefs fcrupulous in differing from

Mr. Walpole, as, in honour of his father's

colle6lion, his criticifms feem plainly inclined

to the more favourable fide. Mine, I hope,

will not be thought too fevere, tho there are

very few piftures in this noble colle(5lion,

which intirely pleafed me. I had the fatis-

faftion however, in my own vindication, to

obferve, that among the multitude of capital

pi6lures, which fir Jofhua Reynolds faw in

his journey through Holland, and Flanders,

there is fcarce one, in which he does not

find fomething he diflikes.


A portrait of Gibbons, by Kneller. This is one of the beft pi6lures I have feen by this Hovenly mailer. He feldom painted with


( 44 )

care, tho he was able to paint well, when he took pains.

A fketch of king William on horfe-back, by Kneller. The freedom, fpirit, and bar-- mony of this fketch are admirable. The great pi6lure at Hampton-court, painted from it, hath none of thefe qualities.

A cook's-fhop, by Teniers. I mention this pi6lure, becaufe it is efteemed a very valua- ble one. I faw little in it myfelf, except good colourings The compolition I thought very bad.

But the cook's-fhop, on the oppofite fide, by Martin de Vos, is equal to any praife. Martin was Snyder's mafler. He had lefs reputation than his fcholar; but more merit. This pi6lure is a maflerpiece. It difplays a grand confufion of objefts ; and yet preferves a noble whole. The feveral parts too are admirably painted. The greyhound, and the cat, the turkey, and the fawn are all excel- lent. If there be any deficiency, it is in point of light, which might have been better dif- tributed. This pi61:ure is feven feet ten inches long; by five feet, eight.

A BacchanaUan, by Reubens, painted in his befl ftyle of colouring. The compojition, light,


( 45 )

and exprejjion, are all admirable. With re- gard to particulars^ the woman, and the fuck- ing fatyrines are particularly beautiful.

Sir Thomas Chaloner, by Vandyck, is a very fine portrait.

A friar's head, by Reubens, is painted with admu'able warmth of colouring.

In Rembrandt's wife, by Rembrandt • him- felf, are united all the beauties of the maf- ter ; his ftrong colouring — his management of light, and the fpirit of his touches.

The library, and two or three bed-cham- bers, which we were carried into next, cour- tain nothing very ftriking. In the drawing- room are feveral good portraits, which would have attrafted the eye in any other place.


On a table flands an admirable bronze, by John of Bolognia. It reprefents a Roman carrying off a Sabine.

The p?7ing of St. Stephen by Le Baur, I have heard called • one of the capital pieces in this coUedion. I am forry to fay, it did not pleafe me. There is an awkwardnefs in


( 46 )

the figures, particularly in the principal one, which is very difpleafmg ; and it has befides fo many ofFenfive parts, that no beauties (and it has many) could atone for them in my eyes ; or bring it to them with fatisfaftion.

The holy family, by Vandyck, is another celebrated picture, which I could not admire; tho Mr. Walpole tells us, it was twice fold for fourteen hundred pounds. There is no- thing, it is true, difgufting in it, except per- haps a little frippery; but as a whole ^ it wants compofition; a fobriety in the general complexion of the colouring; and a harmony in the tints. It is nine feet by feven.

Mary Magdalen wajhing the feet of Chriji^ by Reubens. This pi6lure is one of the noblell monuments of the genius of Reubens, that is to be feen in England. It contains four- teen figures, as large as the life. We feldom fee, in one piece, fo numerous a coUeftion

of expreflive heads. The point of time

feems to be taken, jufl after Chrifl had faid, T!hy fins be forgiven thee^. An air of difgufl runs through the whole table. The exprefTion

  • See Luke vii.


( 47 )

in Simon's face is admirable. With whatever view he invited his divine gueft, it is very evident he was difappointed. The whole pi6lare indeed is an excellent comment upon St. Luke. Our Saviour's face has great fweet- nefs, grace, and dignity. All the other charac- ters are fine 3 the two full faces, efpecially, which are neareft our Saviour. The attendants are all good figures ; particularly the girl carry- ing the dilh. The Magdalen is the worft fi- gure in the pifture. She is rather awkward and clumfy : but her pafTion is well exprefTed. A penitential forrow, beyond the fenfe of any- thing but it's own unworthynefs, has taken polTeffion of her. Her eyes are finely coloured with high-fwoln grief. Among deceptions, we feldom fee a better, than the watery hue of that tear which is neareft the eye. Our Saviour's hands are bad.

We are inclined to dwell more on the parts of this pi6lure, than on the whole. i\nd yet the compofition, tho not perfedl:, is far fl'om being difagreeable. It's chief want, as a whole ^ is a balance of fiade. Reubens is often, I think, faulty in this particular. This pic- ture is eight feet by fix.


( 48 )

■ Titian s fon^ and his nurfe, by Titian. The latter is a difmal charafter, probably fo intends ed ; but well painted.

The Cyclops, by Luca Jordano. The neareft figure is awkward j the breaft and arms of the other are good.

Daedalus, and Icarus, by Le Brun. The latter is a fine figure.


• We have here a collection of about twenty piclures, by this mailer, and his fcholars — almoft a compleat fchool. It is eileemed very valuable j was purchafed at a great ex- pence 5 and is much admired by connoilTeurs. It hurts me to diffent from any general opinion : but the works of this mafter have always appeared in my eye to want fornething, which every good pi6lure fhould have. I can fee in them many fine heads, great fweetnefs in the Madonas, broad folds of drapery, ele- gant attitudes, and pleafmg expreflion : but ilill they are unpleafant pi6lures. There feems to be a deficiency both in the colouring, and

in the execution. The colouring is gaudy,

A glare.

( 49 )

A glare, which hurts the eye, runs through every pifture. There is no fobriety in the tints ; no harmony ; no balance. Inftead of a whole, you have only a piece of fplendid

patch- work. — The execution is as difagreea-

bie. There is fo much effeminate foftnefs, and want of fpirit in it, that you do not think you are furveying the work of a great mafter ; but rather of fome pupil, copying with fear, and exaclnefs. It is not neceffary for a painter to execute with the fire of Bourgognone, but without fome degree of freedom, and fpirit, his execution will never pleafe.

The head of Clement IX. appeared to me, as far as I could compare my ideas, to be a very inferior pi6lure to that at Chifwick, by the fame mafter. That pifture, as I remem- ber, is warmly coloured, and even touched with fpirit. This is tamely executed 5 and fpread over with a bluifh tinge, which is a female tint, and here unnatural.


A holy family^ by Nic. Poulfin (5. 7. by 4. 3.) In this pi6lure the compojition, group-

( 5° )

ingy he ads ^ charaBers, exprejjlon^ and drapery are all good: but there is neither harmony, nor beauty in the colouring. A difagreeable blacknefs pervades the whole.

T^wo cattle pieces^ by Rofa of Tivoli. The cattle in both are finely painted j but the compofition in neither is good*


Reubens wife, by Vandyck. This is an ad-* mirable portrait. I fhould not hefitate to call it a mafter-piece. She is at full length, drefled in black fatin, with a hat. Nothino; can be eafier, more elegant, and graceful than this figure. The colouring too is beautiful 5 and the whole pi6lure3 and every part of it, is pleafing. This portrait I fhould place among the firfi: in my colle6lion, mentioned

in the 3 9th page. When we fee fuch a

portrait as this by Vandyck ; and in the fame colle6tion, one of his hifborical pieces, (the. holy family juft mentioned) which falls greatly below excellence, there is room for candour to believe, that Reubens might have had other motives, than thofe of envy, and jea- loufy, (which are the motives commonly afcrib-


( irr )

ed) for advifmg his favourite pupil to ap- ply himfelf to portrait-painting, rather than to hiftory. The advice appears to have been very judicious. Vandyck does not feem to have much invention, nor to have excelled in compofition. I do not remember that his compofition pleafed me in any pi6i:ure, (if we may judge from prints,) in w^hich he has many figures to manage. The family- pi6lure at Wilton, tho in his own way, is veiy deficient in this refpe6l*i

Reubens family , by Jordano of Antwerp, is a mere colle6tion of heads : but every head is a piece of nature^

Chriji laid into the fepulchre, by Parmi- giano. There is great expreflion in the figures j and great beauty in the colouring, and execu- tion of this pi6lure : but the painter has al- lowed himfelf fo little fcope (for it is fcarce above miniature fize) that it gives a poverty, and minutenefs to his pi6lure. It was pro- bably intended as a defign for a larger piece.

A very fine head of Innocent X., by Ve- lafco.

  • See remarks on this fubjeft, in the Appendix to the

Weftern Tour.

E 2 Friars

( 52 )

Friars difirihuting ahns to the poor^ by John Miel. There is a good balance of light, and fhade ; and an agreeable whole in this- pi6lure.

Two piclures by Bourgognone* One of them reprefents a battle; the other, the field after it ; in which the principal group is a dying officer, confeffing to a friar. Both arer excellent pi6tures 5 but the firfl is a mafter- piece.

A Iketch by Rubens of the middle com-' partment of the banqueting-houfe at White- halL The freedom, and fpirit of it are ad-- mirable.

Six fketches by the fame mafter, of trium- phal arches > equally free -, and beautiful,

. Bathjheba bringing Abifldag to David^ by Vanderwerffe. This pi6lure is as highly finifhed, as the fineft enamel > and yet the freedom and fpirit of it are preferved. The group is good. In Bathfheba you fee the remains of a very fine woman : but in David there is a mixture of youtb; which by no means gives us the idea of that total decrep- itude, under which the bible-hiftory repre- fents him. Abifhag is the fair, young damfel of the text 5 and her modell:, and maidenly


( 53 )

behaviour are finely exprelTed. After all,

we furvey fuch high-finiihed pi6lures only as curiofrties. Their ftyle is an efFe6l of vitiated tafle. They barely pleafe the eye: they want that ftrength, and boldnefs 3 that energy and fire, which raife raptures.

Two flower-pieces, by Van-Huyfum. Thefe admirable pi6lures are in the fame flyle of neatnefs, a§ the laft. But in flowers the Jinijhed manner is liable to no exceptions. Nobody expects to look at a flower-piece with emotion. If it pJcafe the eye^ it is fuf- ficient. Van-Huyfum feems to be a greater mafter of compofition and the knowledge of light, than Baptifle, In moil of the capital pi6lures, that I have feen by Baptifle, parti- cularly in thofe of the duke of St. Alban's at Windfor, the eye is hurt by ill-balanced compofition, and patches of light. But in the few I have met with by Van-Huyfum, all is well put together, and well mafTed. In thefe two pi6lures, efpecially in that, which confifls folely of flowers, he is particu- larly excellent both in the compofition, and in the diftribution of light. His manner has not the leafl ilifihefs 3 tho every object, flowers,

E 3 fruits,

( 54 )

fruits, and infe6ls, are finilhed with the laft charaileriftic touch, and tint of nature.

Two landfcapes in the manner of Salvator, by Bourgognone. They are well touched j and Hke the mafter they imitate; but the compofition is very indifferent in both.

T'he death of Jofeph, by Velafco. This is a noble, and affe6ling pi6lure. The ftory is well told. The chara6l:ers rife to the imagination. The expreffion is juft : the compofition good ; the lights broad : in fhort, the whole, and every part of this pi6lure is pleafmg.


The earl of Danby, at full length, by Vandyck, is excellent in all it's parts, and in the management of the whole.

Two fruit-pieces, by Michael Angelo, are both well-painted; but that which hangs near Sir Thomas Wharton, is a confufed compofition.


( 55 )


This large room was originally intended for a green-houfe : but when Sir Robert Wal- pole loft his employments in the year 1742, he fitted it up for the piftures, which he brought from Downing-ftreet.

The do6lors of the church confulting on the immaculate conception, by Guido, deferves our firft attention. This very celebrated pi6lure, v/e are told by Mr. Walpole, was bought in Italy by lord Orford 5 and fent to Civita Vecchia to be fhipped for England. But Innocent XIII., who was then pope, unwilling that fuch a treafure fhould be car- ried out of the country, remanded it. At length however, through his particular re- gard for the chara6ler of lord Orford, he per- mitted it's exportation. From this ac- count one fhould imagine it had uncommon merit. The colouring is certainly exquifite. There is a clearnefs, and brightnefs, and bril- liancy in it which we rarely find ; and hence, I fuppofe, arrives it's chief merit among connoifeurs. The draperies alfo are broad, and painted in a noble ftyle. The heads

E 4 too^

( 56 )

too, in general, are finely touched. The doc- tor in red particularly is an admirable figure ; and the virgin who fits in the clouds cloath- ed in white, is throug[hout immaculate, and is as lovely and charming a form, as the imagi- nation of man can conceive. Thefe beauties muft needs be acknowledged : but Hill the pifture, I think, on the whole, unpleafing. In the firfl place, the Jlory is ill told. The difpute about the immaculate conception was one of the fierceft, in which the Ro- man church engaged. But here it is carried on with a moil: provoking indifference. All is ftill, and quiet. Each difputant feems polfefTed of that calmnefs, which might fuit

an evangelift writing a gofpel. If the

painter objected to the charadter of an in- raged polemic, yet furely a proper zeal, an earneftnefs at leaft, might have been allowed.

— Here was an opportunity alfo to pay

a compliment to one fide, or the other; and it would have furnifiied copious room for exprefiion, if he had introduced one party laying down his point ; and the other

abafiied, angiy, or convinced. Or if the

painter had not chofen to decide a matter fo important^ he ought certainly to have car-^


( 57 )

ned on the difpute in fome Jhape^ if he meant

to tell his ftory with truth. But even

if the truth of hiftory had been preferved, there would remain, I fear, ftiil a great de- ficiency in the compofition^ and in the dif- tribiition of light : and, what is furprizing, there is but little harmo72y, I think, in the colouring, which is but ill-atoned for by it's brilliancy. — It is alfo difguiling to fee fo great a difference between the carnations of the two principal figures. The two doctors feem to be the inhabitants of two different climates. This however is not very uncommon in Guido's piftures. The wits fometimes fay, that in the fame piece, one of his pic- tures will appear roafted, and another boi- led. (8. 1 1, by 6.)

The prodigal fon, by Salvator Rofa, is painted with the full fpirit, freedom, and force of this pleafmg mafler. That agreeable flyle of colouring, that fober, pleafant tint, which iillicd fo often from his pallet, is here difplayed in great perfeftion. But this is all that can be faid for the pi6lure. The chara6ler of the prodigal is ill-preferved. Inftead of a melan- choly poflure, brooding over his mifery, or the " madnefs of defpair imprecating curfes upon his


C 58 )

folly, he is reprefented in a cold, unanimated attitude, kneeling indeed ; but without any fervour either of paffion, or devotion. His garb is tattered j but his face wears the hue of plenty. The mufcles of his arms, and legs are full-fed j nor has he that apparent diftrefs

about him, which his condition required.

The appendages of the piece too are ill put together ; and inftead of compleating a whole^ tend rather to deftroy it. But of all the dif- agreeable parts of this picture, the cow which runs athwart the prodigal, and cuts him at right angles, is the moft difplealing.

Meleager, and Atalanta, by Reubens. This is a large cartoon, (20. 9. by 10. 7.) defigned for tapeftryj and purpofely therefore painted in a light, gawdy ftile. However proper it might be for this ufe^ it certainly makes a bad piSiure. It is a vaft, glaring, difgufting obje6lj and ill-fuited to the company it ap- pears in. There is little compofition in it; and no balance of light, and fhade. Atalanta is a good figure ; but all the other parts are bad, fome of the dogs particularly fo.

Four markets by Snyders. The firft is a fifh-market. The compofition is good. There is a profufion of parts blended into an agreeable


( 59 )

whole. One circumftance only injures the general fhape — the formal repetition of a man on each fide of the pi6lure. The light is well-difpofed.

The fecond is a fowl-market. The dif- pofition of the light here is bad ; tho a flight alteration would have made it pleafing. Had the fwan been placed in the room of the boar's- head, it would have made a good mafs.

The third is a green-market. Nothing can be better managed, or more delightfully painted, than the mafs of greens : but the pi61:ure is difagreeably broken into two parts.

The fourth is a fruit-market. The fruit is richly painted : but the pi6lure is ill-com- pofed. The figures are good ; but there is no whole ( 1 1. I. by 6. 9.)

A lionefs very well painted by Reubens.

An old woman's head alfo by Reubens. The fac€ is good : but the drapery, and every thing elfe is difagreeable.

A head by Boil, finely painted.

A holy family, by Procaccino. The heads in this pi6lure are very fine 5 but there is a difagreeable glare of light.

An ufurer, and his wife, by Quintin Matfis of Antwerp. This picture is nearly the fame,


( 6o )

as that, which Matfis painted for Charles the firft at Windfor. There is infinite labour in it : but . thefe laboured pieces do not pleafe, like thofe thrown off in all the freedom of genius. They have the appearance of being merely mechanical.

The expofition of Cyrus, by Caftiglione. This mafter feems to have underftood the do6lrine of harmony; or the produftion of effeft from a combination of according tints. At leaft, I have made this obfervation on the few of Caftiglione's pictures, I have feen.

In this pi6lure, the harmonious arrangement of tints is very fi:riking. Each colour unites fo kindly with its neighbour, that, altho the whole is as rich as poffible, every part is in perfe6l repofe. The efFeft, which Caftig- lione produces by an effufion of rich colours, Salvator produces by orvt/obcr tmt. They are both mafters of the art of harmonizing a pifture : but Caftiglione's art is the greater, as he has more variety of tints to manage. With regard to particulars, all the figures in this pifture are beautiful. The dog is finely painted : but as it is fo capital in the ftory, it is not enough concerned in the a6lion. The fcene is fcarce fylvan enough for the fubie6l. (2. 4. by 3. 6.)


( 61 )

The companion of the lail pi6lure, by the fame mailer, is perhaps only an effufion of fancy, which Caftigilone was fond of in- dulging. The fubje6l of it is certainly ob- fcure. It has all that effeft of harmony, which we admire in the other. There are fome obje6ls, a cow, a dog, and a goat, difagreeably introduced: but every thing elfe is beautiful*

The adoration of the ihepherds, by old Palma, forms a difagreeable whole. But there is fine exprelTion in the ihepherd dreifed in green.

A nymph and fnepherd, by Carlo Cignani, The nymph is a charming figure : the com - pofition is beautiful' J and the light would have been well thrown, if the ram, a part of the boy's back, and the bottle had been in fhade. (4. I. by 3. 4.)

Reubens' waggon — — a landfcape, which goes under that title from the introduftion of a broken waggon on the foreground* There is little of the hue of nature in this land- fcape y and as little of the efFe6l of harmony. The hills are green, the fky is blue j and the reft of the objefts of a brownifh tint. In all this there is difcord. It is called a moon- light : but there is nothing of the fhadowy


( 62 )

dulk of evening in it; nor of the lunar

fplendor. In the compojition, there is much

nature ; but it is rather too unadorned. Bolf- wert's print has contributed to make this landfcape famous. (4. i. by 2. lo.)

The facrifice of Ifaac by Rembrandt. We feldom fee a pi6lure of this mailer in fo good a ftyle. We have here fomething like Italian elegance. Abraham's head is finely painted; and full of every expreffion, which the fubjeft could infpire. Ifaac's body is a fine piece of anatomy, and colouring. The angel is a bad figure, and injures the w^hole. The falling knife is an unpleafant circumftance fo near the eye. Bodies in motion fhould never be brought

clofe to the fight. There is a peculiar

delicacy in Abraham's covering his fon's face

with his hand a delicacy which one fliould

leaft have looked for in this mailer. We have a delicate touch of the fame kind in Virgil : but in Virgil we might expe6l it* The palTage I allude to, is that, in which Daedalus is introduced reprefenting, in fculp- ture, the hiflory of his own life. When he comes to that part, in which his fon was concerned, the poet, with his ufual feeling, tells us, the artifi: could not proceed :


( 63 )

,^ — «_. — . — Tu quoque magnatrt

Partem opere in tanto, lineret dolore, Icare, haberes* Bis conatus erat cafus effingere in auro : Bis patriae cecidere manus. — — — < -

The old man, and his fons, gathering flicks by Salvator. This pi6lure is not painted in Salvator's ufual manner. Tho it cannot be called a rich picture ; yet there are many more tints employed, than in the prodigal fon, or in the generality of Salvator's hiftorical com- pofitions. For myfelf, I prefer his fober fliyle. Salvator can produce an efFe6l with his fober browns ; but does not (in this picture at leall) make out (o good a one with a greater variety of colours. The compofition, and figures in this pi6lure are good : but I have no great relifli for fuch low unmeaning fubjefts. (6, by 4. 2.)

The adoration of the ihepherds, by Guido. The fmgle figures, efpecially their heads, and a6lions, are fine; but a whole is feldom found in an Italian picture. This is an o6lagon, on every fide, 3,

Scipio's continence, by Nic. PoufTm. The great beauty of this pifture confifls in the chaflnefs, and clalTical purity of its flyle. We admire the elegance, and fmiplicity of the


( ^4 )

whole; tho in the compofition there is nothing very ftriking. With regard to particulars — ■ excellence, and defeft, are pretty equally diftri- buted among the figures. (5. 2. by 3. 8.)

Mofes ftriking the rock, by Nic. Pouffih. This is by many degrees, a more mafterly performance, than its companion. It's purity of ftyle is the fame : but the compofition, the groups, and figures are all better. The prin- cipal figure is not perhaps enough principal. The great deficiency of this piclure is in the diftribution of light. It is not mafi^ed fo as

to make a whole. This piece was painted

by Nic. PoufTm for Stella, who afterwards, in compliment, engraved it. (6. 3. by 3. 11.)

The adoration of the Magi, by C. Maratt. I thought this the heft picture of Maratt's I had ever feen. There is great fimplicity in the whole ; and the figures are fine. — < — But it is a pity this mafter could paint nothing without a profufion of ftaring' colours. (6. u* by 4. 4.) ^

Solomon's idolatry, by Stella. This is the only piece I ever faw by this mafter. It repre- fents Solomon facrificing, in the midft- of his idolatrous women ; and exhibits a very high fcene of what may be called, voluptuous devo- tion.

( 65 )

tion. We cannot have a ftronger idea of the afFe6ling ftory of that wife profligate. It vs painted on black, and gold marble ; which is, in many parts, left as the ground } and gives a great richnefs to the pi61:ure. — - — • The chara(5leriftic of this piece is elegance, which is difplayed in the whole, and in every part, (3. 5. by I. lOi)

A fea-port by Claude Lorain. If the moft vivid effufions of light, and the moft har- monious touches of nature can make a good landfcape, this undoubtedly is one. But here is no country defcribed ; no beautiful obje6ls 5 no fhapes j no compofition.

The other pi6lure by the fame hand, in this gallery, defcribes a plealing country: but, for want of good compofition, all its beauteous tints, and hues of nature, can fcarce bring the

eye to it with pleafure. On the account

of this great deficiency in compofition, obvious in fo many of the works of Claude, I have thought few mafters are lefs indebted to the engraver, than he is. The print fgives us the compofition chiefly of the mafter, which is what we leaft value in Claude. But it can give us no idea of that lovely colouring, in which alone his works exceli all othejs.


( 67 )


QINCE thefe remarks were made, this grand colle6lion of piftures hath been fold to the emprefs of Rufliai and now exifts in England only in the prints, which that great encourager of the arts, Mr* Alderman Boydell, hath had engraved from them. The drawings, from which thefe prints were made, adorn a gallery in Pail-Mall, which the alderman built on purpofe to receive them* I never faw thefe drawings ; but from the hands employed on them, I fuppofe they are good.

For the amufement of the reader, I fhall annex to my own remarks, the value which was fet on each pi6lure by the Emprefs's agents. It will appear, that the valuer of this colle6lion of pi6tures hath not weighed them in my fcales. Which of us is right, is not my part to decide, All I can fay with pro- F 2 priety

( 68 )

priety on the fubje6l, is, firft, that I en- deavoured, as well as I could, to appreciate the value of each pi6ture by its approach to nature; or it's conformity to the rules of

art and, fecondly, that I v\rell know,

connoifTeurs are often guided by prejudices. A mafter may be famous for fome particular mode of colouring, to the negleft of every

thing elfe or he may be famous for

drawing — or for the fcarcity of his pictures

  • - — - or perhaps he may be a fafhionable pain-

ter. From the influence of all thefe things, it often happens, that piftures may be con- fidered as poffeffing more merit, than they really have.

After all, however thefe pi6tures might have been valued (as they ought) not according to their real merit ; but according to their Jaleable qualities ; and if fo, I may have only to oppofe the tricks and artifices of a few picture-deal- ers ; not the fettled judgment of any diftin- guifhed lovers of the art.

Horfe's head, by Vandyck - - ^o

Battle, by Julio Romano - - j ro

Sufannah, by Reubens - - 80

Landfcape, by Swanevelt - - 30


' ( 69 )



Jupiter and Europa, after Guido


Galatea, by Zimeni



A Woverman



Venus, by Sacchi ^



Holy family. Da Reggio



Archite6lure, by Steenwych



A cook's fhop, by Teniers



A cook's fhop, by De Vos



Bacchanalian, by Reubens



Nativity, by Cignani



Sir Thomas Chaloner, by Vandyck



Sir Thomas Grefham, by Ant, More


Erafnms, by Holbein



A friar's head, by Reubens



Fr. Hall, by himfelf



School of Athens, by Le Brun



Rembrandt's wife, by Rembrandt



Reubens' wife, by Reubens



A head, by Salvator



' Inigo Jones, by Vandyck



-Two ruins, by Viviano



Daughters of lord Wharton, by Vandyck


Judgment of Paris, and fleeping


ehus, by Jordano



Charles I. and his queen, by Vandyck


Lord Wharton, by Vandyck



Lord Wandesfordj by Vandyck




( 7<^ )



Lady Wharton, by Vandyck

Jane Wenman, by Vandyck


Chrift's baptifm, by Albano


St. Stephen, by Le Soeur - -


Holy family, by Vandyck


Magdalen, by Reubens


Holy family, by Cantarini ^ r


Holy family, by Titian -


Simeon, by Guido _ _ ^


Virgin, by Aug. Caracci


Titian's fon, and nurfe, by Titian


Holy family, by Sarto


AfTumption, by Morillio


Adoration, by Morillio


Cyclops, by Jordano ^ - -


Daedalus, by Le Brun - „ -


Clement IX., by Carl. Maratt


Galatea, and it's companion


Holy family, by Carl. Maratt


Virgin and Jefus, by C. Maratt r


St. Caecilia, by C. Maratt


AfTumption, by C. Maratt


Virgin and Jofeph, by C. Maratt -


St. Catharine's marriage, by C. Maratt


Virgin in the clouds, by C. Maiutt


St. John, by C. Maratt


Venus and Cupid, by C, Maratt ^






Holy family, by Beretonx - -

Aflumption, by Beretoni


Pool of Bethefda — Chrift on the

mount — Apollo, and Daphne

— , Bacchus, and Ariadne, by

Chiari _ - ^ -


Apollo — Diana, by Rofalba


Drawing of a head, by Raphael


St. Catharine, by Guido


Birth of the Virgin, and prefentation,

by Jordano - - - -


Flight into Egypt, by Morillio


Crucifixion, by Morillio


Hercules, and Omphale, by Romanelli


Holy family, by Pouflin


Reubens' wife, by Vandyck


Reubens' family, by Jord. of Ant-

werp - - - - _


Winter, by Giacomo BafTan


Summer, by Leonardo Baffan


Boors, by Teniers ^ -


Chrift appearing to Mary, by P. Cor-

tona ^ ^ ^ „ ,


Judgment of Paris ^ and of Midas^ by

Scavoni - - -


Chrift intombed, by Parrqigianp


F 4 ■ Adoration

( 7^ ) Adoration of the Magi, by V. Breughel


Virgin and child, by Barocchio


Venus, by A. Caracci


Head, by Dobfon


St. John, by C. Dolci


Innocent X. by Velafco - -r.


Boy's head, by Luti - - -


Friars, and it's companion, by J. Miol


Dying officer, by Bourgognione


^ It's companion t -


' Boors, by Teniers - _ _


Boors, by Oflade - _ _


Chrift in the fepulchre, by Giacomo

Baffan _ - . _


/ Holy family, by Wiliberts


Holy family, by Rottenhammer


Virgin and Child, by Alex. Veronefe


Soldiers, by S. Rofa _ _ _


Virgin, by Morillio - _ -


Virgin, by Seb. Concha


Edward VI. by Holbein


Laban, by Sebaf. Bourdun


Banquetting-houfe ceiling, by Reubens


Six Iketches, by Reubens


Bathfheba, by VenderwerfFe


Two flower-pieces, by V. Huyfum




{ 73 )


Chrift and Mary, by Phil. Laura

Holy family, by Bellino


Two landfcapes, by Bourgognione


Two landfcapes, by Gafp. Pouffin


Holy family, by Ponzoni


Death of the Innocents, by Seb. Bour-

don - - - - -


Death of Jofeph, by Velafco


St. Chriflopher, by Elfheimer -


Lord Danby, by Vandyck


Two pictures of the Afcenfion, by P.

Veronefe _ _ - ^


Do6lors of the church, by Guido


Prodigal, by S. Rofa - _ ^


Meleager, by Reubens - - _


Four markets, by Snyders


Curtius, and Cocks, by Mola, together


Lions, by Reubens - - _


Architefture, by Polidore, or J. Ro-

mano - - - - -


Two old women's heads, by Reubens,

and Boll - - - _


Cupid, by Ehz. Sirani - - -


Holy family, by Procacino


Ufurer, by QJVTatfis - - .


Job's friends, by Guido



( 74 )


Europa, by P. Brill, and Africa


Dives and Lazarus, by P. Veronefe.


Expofition of Cyrus, and its compa-

nion, by Caftiglione


Adoration, by Old Palma


Holy family, by Old Palma


Moon-light, by Reubens


Nymph and Shepherd, by Car. Cignani


Emblematic pi6lure, by Bourdon


Abraham, and Hagar, by P. Cortona


Abraham, and Ifaac, by Rembrandt -


Old man, and his fons, by S. Rofa


Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guldo


Continence of Scipio, by Pouffin


Mofes ftriking the rock, by Pouffin


Intombing Chrifl, by L. Caracci


The infant Mofes, by Le Soeur


Adoration of the Magi, by C. Maratt


Cattle, by Teniers ^ ^ _


Landfcape, by G. Pouffin


Laft fupper, by Raphael


Solomon's idolatry, by Stella


Two landfcapes, by C. Lorain


Two landfcapes, by G. Pouffin


Joconda, miftrefs to Francis I.


Apollo, by Cartarini ^ ^ ^



{ 75 )

Holy family, by Caflelli ' -



Ganymede, by M, Ang. Buon. :


Virgin and Child, by Dominic :


Salutation, by Albani




( V )


T^ROM Houghton we proceeded to Holkam, over furzy downs, and beautiful fheep- walks ; on which great numbers of fheep were grazing in feparate flocks, and gave fome life to a country, otherwife but uninterefting.

At Stower, the road enters fandy lanes, with neat clipped-hedges j but barren of wood. As we approach the fea, the ground rifes in feveral parts.

Holkam ftands on an eafy eminence. A beautiful piece of water is the firft obje61:, that fl-rikes the eye; and an ifland, well-wooded, gives it variety. The front of the houfe is

elegant; tho perhaps too much broken.

This was however all we could fee ; for tho we had, with fome inconvenience, accommodated ourfelves to the day, on which alone we were


( 78 )

informed, the houfe was to be feeri ; yet when we arrived on the fpot, we found a new diffi- culty. It feems the perquifites for fhewing it are affigned to an old houfe-keeper, and as fhe happened to be out of the way, no entrance could be obtained.

From Holkam we purfued the road to Wells ; and came upon a fea-coaft diverfified with a fmall winding river — a village — a harbour — and a grove — all good objefts ; yet they are fo feparated, and detached, that they no where appeared to advantage.

Wells is a difagreeable dirty £fhing-town. A little beyond it, Stiffkey appears from the higher grounds, pleafantly feated on a rivulet, in a hollow, decorated with trees ; and adorned with ruins. On a nearer approach, the ruins have a good effe61:.

From Stiffkey the road pafles through plea- fant lanes, and leaving Cley on the left, leads to Holt J a clean, neat village. In bur way we propofed to take Wolterton and Blicklin, the


( n )

feats of Lord Walpole, and the Earl of Buck- ingham.

Lord Walpole's contains nothing very inte- refting. A colle61:ion of chalky portraits, I know- not by whom, of the late royal family, adorn the beft rooms j together with a family-pi6lure, well compofed j but in the fame ftyle of colour- ing. In the ftate-room hang two pieces of

dead game over the doors. The compofition and light in both are good. That with the water- fall is the beft.

From Wolterton the road continues, through pleafant lanes, to Blicklin. The approach opens with noble views of meadow-lawns, and ancient woods, which fpeak the antiquity of the place. The weather however permitted us not to walk much abroad. The houfe is one of thofe manfions, w^hich cany us into the times of our fore- fathers. The moat, the bridges, the turrets, the battlements are all impreffed with the ideas of antiquity. A tale of woe alfo contributes to dignify this manfion. It w^as the birth-place of the unfortunate Ann

Bolen. Blicklin is now very expenlively

fitted up, and contains many grand rooms, in


( 8o )

which the chimnies, ceilings, wainfcot and other ornaments are in general fuitable to the antiquity of the whole. Yet fome of the rooms were hung with Indian paper ; which is gawdy, and difagreeable any where j but is particularly unfuitable to a venerable old manfion. — In the ftudy hangs a good full-length of fir John May- nard by Lely. The moft remarkable appen- dage of the houfe, is a library collected by fir Richard Ellis, which is efteemed the bell private colle6tion in England. The room in which it is contained, is a gallery of a hundred and twenty two feet, by twenty two. The ceiling is an old rich ftucco. The whole room, and

all it's furniture is noble. The ftair-cafe is

grand, and beautiful. It is modern ^ but has all the appearance of antiquity^ The firft flight fronts the great door of the hall; the next flight divides -, and a union is again formed in a gallery.


( 8i )

S E C T. X.

"PROM BUcklin the road flill continues through lanes, broad, noble, and pi6tu- refquely marked with a variety of winding wheel-tracks ; and planted with lofty oak. The country around is rather flat. At a diftance, here and there, appears a tower. We no where faw better-built churches, than in Nor- folk.

About feven miles before we reach Norwich, a pleafmg fcene is prefented. An extenlive flat common is formed into an amphitheatre by a rich edging of wood. Here and there, groups, and fingle trees, advancing, bring the woods loofely into the plain.

Other fcenes fucceed, which are not difagree- able, formed by Mr. Mafham's woods ^ and thefe are contrafted by patches of wild heath,

G orna-

, ( 82 )

ornamented by difiant woods, and two or three hazy towers.

But the heaths foon prevail % and become both foreground, and diflance without any variety. The road leads between the bare mounds of new-inclofed commons j nor does the eye find any thing to reft on, till within a mile of Nor- wich. At that diftance a grand view prefents itfelf of the town, lying on a gentle declivity, ftretching over a large compafs of ground ; and adorned with feveral towers, and fpires. The whole is crowned with a malTy fquare building, which we found afterwards to be the caftle, appearing in the diftance to ftand on a hill, in the middle of the town. It is a magnificent ruin, but too regular. On entering the faburbs, the eye lofes it : but the entrance into the yard of the King's-head inn prefents it again in great beauty. You fee it through the arched gate-way, which throws it into good per- lpe6live*.

Norwich is a large town, at leaft three miles in circumference. The river Yar (fome- times called the Wanfum) runs a mile along

• I believe a houfe is now built, whicK intercepts the view.


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the eaftern fide of it, and defends it like a ditch. The other parts are furrounded by a walL It is a well-built, agreeable town. You fee order in every part. The great church is a Saxon pile ; but good architefture of the kind. The cloifters are very noble. The caflle-hill affords a rich, tho not a pi6lurefque view 5 and the bridge over the caflle-ditch, with all it's appendages, vrould make a grand pi6lure. The Yar from Norwich (to which it is naviga- ble for large barges) purfues a winding courfe to Yarmouth, where it forms the peninfula, on which that town ftands, and where it makes one of the beft natural harbours in England.

From Norwich we fet out for Ipfwich. The road leads through lanes ; and the coun- try is well wooded. Tho flat, it is not unplea- fant, as far as we could judge from feeing it through a drizzling rain.

Near Scole we crofled the Waveny ; which divides Norfolk from Suffolk. This river, after running fifty miles towards the fea in an eaflern direction, and approaching it's very

G z fhores.

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fliores, is oppofed by a rifing ground, which gives it an abrupt direftion almoft due north, This leads it to the river Yarj and tho it's waters are fufficient to give name to a harbour of it's own, it merely affifts as a fecondary river, in deepening, and enlarging the harbour of Yarmouth. The meadows lying along the banks of the Waveny, (which pafles through them with an even, gentle courfe) are fuppofed to be among the richeft in England. Here befides the cattle of the country, numerous herds of ftarved cattle from the highlands of Scotland, find their way. Of fuch pafturage they had no idea. Here they lick up grafs by mouthfuUs : the only contention is, which of them can eat the moft, and grow fat the fooneft. When they have gotten fmooth coats, and fwagging fides, they continue their journey to the capital, and prefent themfelves in Smith- field, where they find many admirers.

About eight miles before we reach Ipfwich, the country aflumes a more variegated face. The village of Stoneham, which ftands high, incompaiTed with wood, makes a pi6lurefque appearance from the oppofite hill.


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The country ftill improves as we approach Ipfwich, but chiefly in near views. Pleafing woody fcenes open firil on one handj and then on the other: villas and villages adorn the landfcape on every fidej and here and there, a beautiful diftance opens, which was now become a novelty.

About the feventh flone Mr. Bacon's at Codenham, aftords a fcene of noble oaks rifmg on the left, a little above the road. His houfe juft opens, and fhuts, among the trees, as we glide pad.

Ipfwich is a large, incumbered, unpleafant place. The market-houfe is an old rotunda, fupported by wooden pillars, with a figure of juflice on the top. The form is not unpleafing.

On leaving Ipfwich we took the Colcheiler- road, through fandy, heavy lanes. The country is like what we had left 5 but in a lefs pi6furefque ftyle of landfcape. About fix miles from Ipfwich the lanes open upon a woody fcene, which looks like the fkirts of fome vail foreft.

This fcenery being removed, the road is adorned with two or three beautiful dips, on

G 3 the

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the left, interfperfed with cottages, and a variety of fine wood. Beyond thefe is a good diftance. Soon after the tower of Dedham-church makes a pifturefque appearance.

Having prefented us with thefe views, the road fuddenly fhuts in all objefts ; dives into a fhady bottom j and carries us into Stratford St. Mary's j which is the laft town in Suffolk.

The cattle, through all this country, are a beautiful breed of cream-coloured beafls, without horns.


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/^N entering EfTex, the road is more than ^"^ pleafant. It leads through woody lanes j which grow ftill more beautiful, as we ap- proach Colchefter. Ardley-woods, which in a manner furrounded us, afforded every where the moft pleafmg fylvan fcenes — fometimes retiring to a diftance — fometimes advanc- ing — now incircling a common with it's cottages J and forming a back-ground behind them — then doling up the whole road, fo as to leave the eye at a lofs, where it could break out. Nor were thefe effe<5ls produced by copfe-wood, or paltry trees j but by no- ble oaks, and elms ; many of which, even fmgle, had dignity enough to grace a fcene. As this fcenery removed, Colchefter ap- peared at a mile's diftance, ftretching along the declivity of a hill. We circled the town ;

G 4 and

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and had a fine winding view of it, as we approached ; entering it by St. Leonard's, where it makes a pidurefque appearance. The caftle is a fquare, heavy building, Hke many we had feen; but the ruins of St. Botolph's, in the middle of the town, are beautiful.

As we left Colchefter, on the oppofite fide, our delightful fcenery vanifhed : and the road led through garden-grounds ; low cut hedges -, and a naked country.

About the forty-ninth ftone, we enter a flat common, where Cromwell's army fat down to befiege Colchefter. His intrench- ments ftill make a formidable figure on the heath. The defence of this place was among the moft foldierly aftions of the war ; and the furrender of it among the moft de- plorable. No fcene of the higheft finiftied tragedy can go beyond thofe ftrokes of nature, which the noble hiftorian of the times has given us in describing the execution of thofe gallant officers, fir Charles Lucas, and fir George Lifle. The former, tho of morofe converfation, was in the day of battle a gal- lant

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lant man to look upon, and follow, the latter, to the fiercenefs of his courage added the fofteji and inoft gentle nature — was kind to all — beloved of all, and without a capacity to make an enemy. Sir Charles fell firft; on which fir George {looping down, embraced him. He then flood up j and turning to the file of muiketeers, who flood ready with their prefented arms, defired them to flep a little nearer. I'll warant you, fir, faid one of them, we'll hit you. " My friends, faid fir George fmiling, I have been nearer you,

when you have miffed me." The flory

is told at length in lord Clarendon with many afFefting circumftances.

About five miles from Colchefler, the woods meet us again, on the right 3 but keep at too great a diftance. The lanes flill con- tinue beautiful J tho adorned only with pol- lards.

At the forty-third flone we had a grand diflance, compofed of a noble continuation of woods, belonging to lord Grimflon ; which (after we had paffed Kelveden, a fweet village,) are taken up by Mr. Ducane's woods, and

3 continue

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continue as far as Witham, a pleafant, airy, clean town.

From hence to Chelmsford we had pleafant lanes. The country is flat, and woody. About the thirty-fecond ftone, lord Wal- tham's woods begin to make a fine appear- ance on the right ; and are anfwered by another range on the left. The former foon advance to the road, forming by degrees an avenue, a mile long. The woods, on the other fide, retire, and become the boundai'y to a noble bay of flat rich country.

Lord ¥/altham's houfe, to which the avenue leads, was once a royal manfion ; and after- wards belonged to general Monk. We did not fee it j but from the tradition of the country, it has once been a vafl edifice.' The kitchen contained fix large fire ranges ^ each range occupying fifteen feet. In the cen- tre was a bull ring. The bull was firfl baited in the kitchen, and afterwards roafted whole. Upon the landing of the great ftair-cafe, a coach, and fix might have turned. The hall, which is the only part of this pro- digious pile now remaining, is fixty feet high.


( 9' )

Chelmsford appears to advantage, as we approach it. The tower of the church is itfelf a good objedl; and is feen to advan- tage by the rich country, which is fpread behind it. From hence the road affords Httle variety. Near the twenty-ninth ftone, a bridge and other circumftances might be improved into a good view^ and between the twenty-third and twenty- fourth ftones, the road rifes beautifully, as if it entered a wood. Ingatflon-tower, furrounded with wood, is a good objeft, as we approach the town.

Between Ingatflon and Burntwood, we turned a little to the left, to fee lord Petre'g new houfe; which prefents a fcene of great magnificence. It's fituation, and extenfive view — the woods around it — and the form of the building, are all in the grandeft ftyle. The houfe itfelf is not a pleafmg obje61:. Neither front is elegant j and the little win- dows in the principal one, are much the reverfe. When you enter it, the lownefs of the hall hurts the eye. The apartments


( 92 ) ,

indeed are magnificent ; and to this every- thing feems to have been facrificed. Even the flair- cafe is fuch only as belongs to a private houfe. The true ftyle of architedture unites beauty, convenience, and grandeur, (where neceffary,) both in the parts, and in the v^^hole. On this journey, v^e had feen a noble inftance of this union in Wanfled- lioufe.

Burntwood is an agreeable, clean, thorough- fare village.

From Thurdon-hill, near this place, as we emerged from a dark lane, (which is among the beft modes of exhibiting a dif- tance,) is difplayed a very grand view of the Thames, winding through, what appears to be, a vaft vale, bounded, on one fide, by the high grounds, on which we flood, and on the other by the Kentifh hills. No part of England* affords a grander fpecimen of this mode of fcenery. Rivers, and vales we often fee: but fuch a river as the Thames, winding through fuch countries as Kent, and Eifex, is a fight we feldom meet with.

  • See Obfervations on the fouthern coafts of England, p. 79.


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To the grandeur of this river-view we may- add the fcene of navigation, which it con- tinually difplays.

Our ilage to Rumford was a little varied with rifmg grounds : but the environs of London began now to break in upon us -, and every rural idea was totally loft.








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S E C T. L

TIUSINESS carried us firft to Manchefters from whence we fet out for Chefter. The country as far as Alteringham, is flat, and woody. Dunham-hall, a feat of the earl of Stamford's, flands in a park which contains ibme of the ftatelieft timber in the country* Here the hern, a great admirer of lofty trees, has made a numerous fettlement. The woods croud up to the roads ; and as you ride paft, you juft get a catch of the houfe, through two or three old-fafhioned openings. From hence the road leads along pleafant lanes, in view of two or three large pieces of water -, and pafTes clofe by Tabley, a handfome houfe, belonging to Sir John Leicefter*

Northwich was our next llage. Near this town is fhewn one of the greateft curiofities in England. In novels we often read of in-

H chanted

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chanted caftles. Here is feen, what may well be called, an inchanted cathedral. The road to it indeed is not the moft convenient. You are let down in a balket, through an opening in the earth, at leaft a hundred and fifty feet. But this gives it only a more romantic air. When you arrive at the bottom, you find your- felf in a moft magnificent ftru6lure. For what purpofe defigned, or by what art of man contrived, and thus ere6led in the bowels of the earth, you are at a lofs to conceive. The largeft cathedral compared to it, is a mole-hill near a mountain. It's arched roof is formed of fplendid cryftal ; and is fupported by innu- merable rows of pillars compofed of the fame rich materials. The pavement glitters like glafs. Windows it can have none, fo deep below the furface. But windows are unnecef- fary : it is illumined with various lights hung up among the pillars, which being refle6led from bright furfaces in every dire6tion, are multiplied into thoufands. One may almoft fpeak of them in the language of poetry :

From the arched roof.

Pendent by fubtil magic, many a row Of fl'arry lamps, and blazing crc-fcents, fed With naptha, and afphaltus, yielded light As from a iky.


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In fome parts of this fuperb edifice, the orna- ments appear to be Gothic ; in others, Gre- cian : but as you examine it nicely, you find it cannot exa6tly be reduced to the rules of any order. In fhort, it appears to be an amazing piece of perfpeftive, conftru6led in a mode of architefture wholly it's own. I am forry to defcend from thefe lofty ideas by adding, that I have only been defcribing the falt-pits at North- wich. And yet I have no doubt, but if any one, unacquainted with them, fhould be let down ia his fleep, and left to awake at his leifure^ he would find this defcription fall fhort of the firft idea that would flrike him.

Soon after we leave North wich, we enter Delamere-foreft, which, tho a wild, heathy, country, affords the ground-plot of a noble fcene. The parts are large, with many confi- derable hills, and fmaller inequalities. The interfe6lions alfo among them, are often plea- fing. If the whole were woody, as it once probably was, it might afford many beautiful foreft- views • — roads winding through woods y and lav^ns interfperfed with groves, or bounded by the dark recelTes of the foreft^ the v/ild

H z deer

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deer every where ftarting. from the brakes, bounding along the plains, grazing in herds, or repofmg in groups. If our anceftors fmarted under foreft-laws, they had at leaft the com- penfation of beautiful landfcape.

Delamere-foreft is a gentle rife through the fpace of fix, or feven miles. Yet gentle as it is, continued through fo long a tra6l, the afcent becomes confiderable ; and when we ap- proach the end of the foreft, we find ourfelves mounted on a vaft terrace, from whence the eye is carried far, and wide, over a flat coun- try, bounded by the WeljQi mountains, under which appear in remote diftance, the windings of the Dee, and the towers of Chefter. In the middle fpace ftands Beefton-caflile, feated proudly on the brow of a hill. It's fituation is one of the moft impregnable in England. The hill is fteep and rocky j oppofmg all ac- cefs, but by a fmgle path on the eaft. Our views of it from the heights of Delamere, fhewed it in a more connefted, and pi6lurefque form, than when it appears infulated, as it does on a nearer approach. The caftle itfelf, which was built about the year 1200, was equal in ftrength to the fituation it occupies. It was fupplied with water by a well, which feems


( lOI )

to have been a work of aftonifliing labour; having been hewn through at leaft a hundred yards of foUd rock. The caftle, tho now in ruins, was ftrong enough, fo late in hiftory as the laft civil wars, to undergo two vigorous fieges. It held for the king. The parliament- troops affaulted it during four months ; when they were beaten off by prince Rupert. In the following year it fuffered a longer fiege, and was at length reduced. Ruined however as it now is, the country-people in it's neighbour- hood reff ftill on a prophecy, that in fome fu- ture time, Beefton-caftle fhall be reftored, and contribute to fave all England. I fhould add, that fome of it's ruins are very pi6lurefque; efpecially the grand entrance.

As we approach Cheller, the winding of the Dee has a good effeft. Ancient towns, like this, are among the nobleft records of hiftory. The Romans firft diftinguifhed Chefter as a mi- litary ftation. Here was pofted the legion fur- named viBrix ; of which the fpade difcovers ma- ny remains — votive altars, and bricks infcribed with it's name and title. In after ages, king Edgar made it a feat of royal refidence. Here

H 3 he

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he triumphed over all his enemies, failing up the Dee in fVate, (fo fays the hiflory of the times,) rowed by eight tributary kings. Some writers feat the king of Scotland among his bargemen : but the Scotch hiftorians have taken great pains to repel the fcandal. After the time of William I. Cheiter continued ftill a place of great confequence. The earls of Chefter were potent princes, and even con- vened parliaments.

In the map, Chefter appears to be well-feated for trade 3 {landing at the head of that grand eftuary formed by the Dee : but the mouth of that river is choked by dangerous fand-banks. For the reft, Chefter is a gloomy, incum- bered town. The caftle is an immenfe clufter of buildings J but lofes it's pifturefque gran- deur by being broken into parts. Our beft amufement was a walk on the walls, which command a great variety of beautiful views.


( I03 )

SECT. 11.

nPHE entrance into Wales from Chefter, pre- fented us with a long ftretch of flat coun- try. The dillance Hill bounded by the Welch mountains, is a portion of that vaft landfcape, which was fpread before the eye from the heights of Delamere.

Leaving on the right, the ruins of Harden- caflle, bofomed in wood ; and foon after leaving behind us the whole flat country, we afcended the higher grounds, which rofe gra- dually to the mountains. Thefe dreary waftes, totally unadorned with any of the beautiful appendages of landfcape, led us to the town of Mold.

Here we were fhewn a fpot of elevated ground, once occupied by a caftle of great prowefs. Under it's ruins lie buried the bones of many a Dane, and Briton, who fell beneath it's walls J during a fiege, which it long main*

H 4 tained.

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tained. The fiege of Mold is mentioned by the Welfh hiilorians, among the moft fplendid actions of their annals. The bards of the day, made it little inferior to the fiege of Troy. But all it's heroical monuments are now loft, together with the names of the heroes, and their gallant atchievements. The towers of the caftle, and it's very foundations are all blended together j and nothing remains of this celebrated obje6l of contention, but a few heaps of earth. The mere fite of the caftle is all, that can be traced.

We build with what we deem eternal rock ; A diftant age aflis, where the fabric ftood ? While in the duft, lifted, and fearched in vain, The undifcoverable ferret fleeps.

From Mold the country becomes ftill wilder. The heights rife into mountains ; fmooth in- deed, and rarely decorated with rockj but fteep, and lofty. Some of them we traverfed ; dipping, at intervals, into little fertile vallies, and mounting again the oppofite hills, till at length we came to the heights of Penbarris ; from the brow of which, we had a view into the beautiful and extenfive vale of Cluyd.


( I05 )

Down the formidable fteep of this mountain we defcended rapidly into the town of Ruthin, which ftands at the bottom of it, and about the middle of the vale.

Every little town in Wales boafts it's anti- quities. At Mold we found X^cvtjite of a caflle. Here we found the ruins of one. Ruthin- caftle was the ancient defence of the avenues into the vale of Cluyd, in this part. It's fitu- ation is curious. It ftands on a rifmg ground, in a difh of mountains j and if it had ever been in the hands of any chieftain, who had tafte in landfcape, it might ealily, with a little planting on the fore-ground, have been made beautiful, without lofs either of ftrength or dignity.

The vale of Cluyd, which we had now en- tered, is defervedly celebrated by all travellers. It is chiefly indeed confidered as a rich fcene of cultivation ; but it abounds alfo with pic- turefque beauty. It is very extenfive ; not lefs than twenty-four miles in length j and fix, feven, and fometimes eight, in breadth ; and is almoft every where ikreened by lofty moun- tains^ which are commonly ploughed at the


( io6 )

bottom, and paftured at the top, as is com- mon in all rough countries. It was the prac- tice in Virgil's time :

Serunt, & vomere duras

Exercent coUes ; atq. horum afperrima pafcunt.

Within thefe bold limits the vale forms one large fegment of a circle, varied only in diffe- rent parts by little mountain-recefles, which break the regularity of the fweep. The area of this grand fcene is in fome parts open, and extended, affording the moff amufmg diflances : in other parts, it is full of little knolls, and hillocks, and thickly planted with wood. The great want it fuflains, is that of water. Many little rivulets find their way through it i parti- cularly the Cluyd, from whence it takes it's name ; but none of them is in any degree equiva- lent to the fcene. The Gluid itfelf is but a diminutive flream. At one end indeed the vale wants no decoration of this kind, as it opens to the fea. The other end is lofl in mountains. About Ruthin the fcene is woody; and continues fo, near fix miles far- ther, till we reach Denbigh. Here the view becomes more extenfive, and opens towards St. Afaph, upon a wide and fpacious fiat called 4 Rhyddland-

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Rhyddland-marfh, from a callle of that name, which formerly guarded its confines.

As we approach Denbigh, it's caftle, feated on the lofty fummit of an inclined plane, makes a noble appearance. The hill, on which it ftands, is a limeftone-rock, and is the more remarkable, as we obferved no other rock in the vale.

The caftle, which is about a mile in cir- cumference, , is broken into fo many parts, that, on the fpot, no good view can be obtained of the whole together. But many of the parts are beautiful in themfelves j particularly the gate of the inner-caftle, which is a noble fragment.

The beft appearance which the caftle of Denbigh makes altogether, is from the parks. The ruins there, are pifturefque, defcending the rock, from the inner-caftle, which is the higheft part, to the well-tov/er, which is the loweft. This latter work takes its name from defending a well, at the bottom of the rock, which fupplied the garrifon with water. Lam- bert, who came before this caftle, in the civil war, found every part fo inacceffible, that he


( ro8 )

Began to fear the event ; till he was fortunate enough to fap the well-tower, on which the garrifon fur rendered.

In the caftle of Denbigh is a fmgular ruin, the original intention of which is not very apparent. It is moft like a church ; and yet unlike any ftru6lure of that kind in ufe. It confifls only of one fmgle area. Nothing re- mains, but walls ; in which are nine windows on each fide. The length of the building is fifty- feven paces ; and the breadth twenty-five. At the eaft end a good diftance opens along the vale, towards St. Afaph.

Denbigh is an inconfiderable town -, but the country around it is beautiful, and various. Among the hills are fequeftered fcenes ; while the vale furnifhes open views, with diflances j and a fea-coaft is hard at hand.

The woody fcenes of Gwaynynog, the feat of Col. Myddelton, about two miles from Denbigh, are worth vifiting. Gwaynynog ftands in the middle of a pleafant park : but the beauty of the place is a valley winding be- hind the houfe.


( I09 )

The pleafmg irregularity of this fweet recefs, — the feveral glades into which it opens ; and the fequeftered fcenes with which thefe glades are often clofed — the river, proportioned to the valley — > the fide-fcreens variouily adorned with woodi and the path judicioufly con- ducted through the whole, are all very beau- tiful. From the higher grounds the caflle of Denbigh makes a good objeft.

Lleweny, the feat of Sir Lynch Cotton, lies about two miles on the other fide of Denbigh j and in a fituation very different from that of Gwaynynog. Col. Myddelton's ftands on the edge of the vale 5 and has the advantage of the fmuous parts of one of the hills, which com- pofe it. Lleweny, with a fcreen of wood behind it, lies at the bottom of the vale, and has a large portion of it in profpe6l, of which Denbigh-caftle is the grand feature *,

• Lleweny was afterwards purchafed by Mr. Fitzmorris, brother to the earl of Shelburn, who added a number of buildings to it, and turned it into a bleaching-houfe. Here he lived with the afFefted humility of a tradefman, and the pomp of a lord. It is faid, he ufed to travel in his coach and fix to Chefter, and then fell his cloth behind a. counter.



But of all the beautiful fcenes in this neigh- bourhoodj the valley of Cyffredin pleafed us moft. It lies about five miles weft of Den- bigh, upon the banks of the Elway j which is a confiderable river. The high grounds, which lead into it, form alfo the fcreen of another valley, which unites with Cyffredin. This valley too is adorned with it's flream, (tho much inferior to the Elway,) and with a va- riety of wood, and lawn. A little bridge, at the bottom, was a point, from which we had a view of both vallies at once. But the views from the bridge itfelf, both above and below, folicited mofl of our attention. That part of this beautiful valley, which winds down the Elway, is formed by a lofty fcreen of rock on the left, in which the principal feature is a cave ; and by a high woody bank on the right ; but the river taking a fhort turn, this part of the valley foon winds out of fight. The other part, which runs up the flream, (Continues at lead a mile before the eye : both it's fcreens are woody, but are not fo lofty as thofe below the bridge. From hence we flill purfued our rout up the Elway, as far as Pont-newithj


( III )

where another bridge afforded us very beautiful views J both below, and above the ftream.

Having fpent a long morning among thefe pi6lurefque fcenes, we left them, convinced that if our time had permitted us to follow the river farther, we fhould have been well rewarded for our labour*


{ 113 )


T^ROM Denbigh, we fet out for Conway, -^ the iile of Anglefea, and the country about Snowdon.

Our ride was barren, till we came to Pon- tralcoch. Here we again met the Elway j the banks of which had given us fb much enter- tainment at CyfFrediii. At Pontralcoch we found a grand fingle arch thrown over the ri- ver. It ftands in the midfl of a fpacious am- phitheatre of woody hills -, which form a fcene correfponding with it in dignity.

We found other pleafing views, while we continued in the neighbourhood of the Elway ; particularly (if I miftake not the name,) at Plalcoch J where the river dividing into feveral channels forms a little plain into two or three woody illandsi which opening, and intercept- ing the view by turns, through the trees, made an agreeable fhifting fcene. This indeed is a

I mere

( iH )

friers miniature : but when the fcale is larger, ^nd the materials of more confequence, and well put together, we fometimes fee beautiful fcenery in this fpecies of landfcape. Not far from lience, the Elway joins the Cluyd^ and tho it is a ftream of much fuperior value j yet the Ciuyd taking a dignity of character from the grandeur of the vale, which it divides, car-^ ries the waters of the Elway, under it's own name, into the fea.

As we approach the end of the vale of Cluyd, we fee the laft hills, which compofe it's fcreens ; particularly tliofe on the right, fmking into the extended plain of Rhyddland-marfli. This vail furface was varied with different' tints melting into each other; but few obje6ls ap- peared upon k, which had any diflinft form. The tower of St. Afaph was almoll: fmgly con- fpicuous ; and a little to the left, the callle of Rhyddiand, The marfh fpread far and wide in every dire6lion; and beyond all appeared the lea.

As we arrived nearer the clofe of the vale, the tower of St. Afaph, and Rhyddland-eaftle took each a higher ftand, and formed an agree- able combination wiih a bridge, which con- fifted of feveral arches, and appeared as a


( 115 )

fecond diftance. The fore- ground was com^ pofed of the Elway^ and it's banks.

Our rout did not lead us into St. Afaph ; which offered no temptation to carry us out of our way. It is an inconfiderable place.

Here we forfook the vale of Cluyd, and turn- ing to the left, along the great Irifh road, we mounted higher grounds. From hence we had a ftill more extenfive view over Rhyddland- marih 5 which on one fide is bounded by mountains ; on the other by the fea. So vaft a flat made a good diftance, and had it's effe6t, as we travelled among the woods of a lofty bank, which was every where rough and broken, and made an excellent contraft, as well as a fore-ground. The fpecies of land- fcape we had before us, is not unlike that de- fcribed at Cotefwoli in Gloucefterfhire, from Crickly-hill * : only from that ftand was pre- fented a rich fcene — the vale of Severn; and here our diftance confifted of a bleak marfti. The marfti, no doubt, compofed a lefs amufmg mode of diftance than the vale^ yet when well inlightened, it was not deficient

  • See Obfervat. on the Wye, p. 7.

12 in

( "6 )

in beauty ; and being more fimple in it's com^ pofition, was grander in it's defign.

As we left the confines of Rhyddland-marfh, the fea having now full fcope, flowed up to the very bafe of the high grounds, on which we ilill travelled ; and formed them into pro- montories ; fome of which were formidable.

" Around yon cliff, (faid a peafant aniwer- ing fome of our inquiries,) runs a narrow road. It will fave you two miles riding. The people of the country commonly ufe it 3 but in many places it is fallen in 5 and is rather dangerous." Dangerous indeed it appeared to be. It was a mere Hielf, v/inding round a frightful precipice, and hanging over the fea. It looked like the path of defpair. As we fur- veyed the opening of it into the great road, where v^e flood, a fellow, who had jufl pafTed it, (as if to add credit to the information, we had received,-) prefented himfelf on horfe-back, betv^een two panniers, fmging a Welfh bid- lad, and driving a cow before him. Habit moulds us all. It is not the road, that is in kfelf frightful; for then the peafant would have been as much terrified as we were. It is the imagination that takes the alarm. Quiet the imagination by a little habit, and the road

. 3 becomes

( "7 )

becomes eafy. — The name of this place was Penmanbach.

Here we deferted the great road, and turning more towards the fea-coaft, we viewed the fliores as far as the promontory of Llandidno. We found a wild mountainous country j two or three beautiful bays j and here and there a good mountain fcene J but nothing, which greatly engaged our attention.

The promontory of Llandidno was famous in the days of our anceilors, for producing that fpecies of hawk, called ^h^ peregrine falcon. This falcon is one of the long-winged kind ; among which he is the fwifteft, the moil cou- ragious, and the moil docile. His prey is commonly the hern, or fome other bird that rifes aloft in the air. The falcon mounts after liim J and endeavours to rife above him, which the fwiftnefs of his wing enables him to do. When he has him thus at advantage, he ilrikes down upon him with his talons : and the fal- coner's amufement lies firil in feeing the pur- fuer, and his prey, mount into the air, till they are loil as fpecks in the clouds ^ and then in watching their defcent. We had not the pleafure of feeing any of thefe generous birds, as they are called, between whofe anceilors,

I 3 ^nd

( ii8 )

and ours, exifted formerly fo great an intimacy. We furveyed however their ancient caftles, and the diftrift around them ; nor muft I omit to add, what is generally mentioned both in the hiftory of Llandidno, and of the falcon, that a letter is ftill extant from the Lord treafurer Burleigh, to one of the Moftyns, lords of this country, thanking him for a very fine call of hawks from the rocks of Llandidno,


( iJ9 )


TC'ROM the defolate, but amufing coaft of '^ Llandidno, we purfued our way to Con- way, through kindred fcenes, wild, rough, and piclurefque.

The caftle of Conway, with the fcenery about it, is fuppofed to afford one of the grandeft views in Wales : and in fome meafure it deferves it's reputation. As we ftood oppo- fite to it, at the Ferry-houfe, a noble bay, at leaft half a mile broad, lay before us, formed by the tide entering the river Conway. This bay winds into the country : on the left, lofmg nothing of its dimenfions, while it continues in fight. On the right it ftretches to the fea ; but the opening is fo much clofed by promon- tories, and reaches of low-land, that the idea of the fea is nearly excluded j which is rather a cir- cumftance of advantage. Had the fea appeared in it's grandeur, the confequence of the bay had

( 120 )

been diminifhed. On the oppofite fide of the bay, on a knoll, which forms a fort of little peninfular promontory, Hands the caftle of Conway, fully equal in grandeur to the fcene ; and beyond the caftle, rifes a woody bank, as a back-ground ; whofe ample parts, and furni^ ture correfpond alfo with the objefts around.

Here then are all the ingredients of a fublime, and beautiful landfcape. — Water, rifmg ground, woody banks, and a caftle, all of grand dimeniions. And yet the pi6lure is but an indifferent one. The cafe is, the comr pofition is incorrect. The caftle is formal, difplaying a number of regular towers, and turrets ; the bank beyond it, tho woody, is heavy, and lumpifti j the lines have no variety, and there is ftill a nakednefs about the whole, which is difplealing.

The beft expedient to preferve truth in a view from the Ferry, and yet to add as much com-r pofition as the natural arrangement of the materials will allow, is to introduce only a part of the caftle near the corner of the pi6ture; v/hich would eaie it of fome of it's regular towers ; and to cut down part of the wood on the oppofite bank, which would remove, in fome degree, it's heavinefs. As the wood, in


( 121 )

fa6l, is periodically cut down, this liberty is very allowable. The pi6lure might be im- proved alfo by planting a tree or two on the fore-ground j and hiding part of the regu- larity by their branches *. As we approach the caftle in the ferry-boat, the point of view of courfe frequently varies, and often for the better : but in every point there is a barren- nefs, and uniformity, which are difpleafmg.

The art of conftru6ling caflles in landfcape, and of adapting landfcape to caflles, is rarely exemplified in the living fcene. Some caflles are more pi6turefque in their form, and fitua- tion than others ; and fome part almofl of every caflle may be pi6lurefque. But with regard to the whole, we feldom fee any caflle, however meliorated by age, and improved by ruin, which can, in all refpe6ls, be called a complete model. — This caflle certainly is not.

The pi6lurefque advantages, which a caflle, or any eminent building, receives from a Jiate of ruin, are chiefly thefe.

  • See vol. i. p. 9. of the Foreft-fcenery, when withered trees

are made ufe of for this purpofe : but it may be anfwered by flourifhing trees, if they are judicioufly ufed, and proportioned te the ufe.


( 122 )

It gains irregularity in it's general form. We judge of beauty in caftles, as we do in figures, in mountains, and other objects. The folid, iquare, heavy form, we diflike.j and are pleafed with the pyramidal one, which may be infinitely varied j and vv^hich ruin contributes to vary.

Secondly, a pile gains from a ftate of ruin, an irregularity in it's parts. The cornice, the window, the arch, ^nd battlement, which in their original form are all regular, receive from ruin a variety of little irregularities, which the eye examines with renewed delight.

Laftly, a pile in a ftate of ruin receives the richeft decorations from the various colours, which it acquires from time. It receives the ftains of weather j the incruftations of mofs ; and the varied tints of flowering weeds. The Gothic window is hung with feftoons of ivy; the arch with pendent wreaths ftreaming from each broken coigne; and the fummit of the wall is planted with little twifting bufhes, which fill up the fquare corners ; and contri-t bute ftill more to break the lines.

In thefe fources of beauty the caftle of Con- way is too deficient. It's parts indeed are fhattered : but it isi too intire to produce a


J^u/^n/ y^lou^^

y^yC^ a^^ie^Ui/'

JZ)- ^ecz^uUlcm^ .



( 123 )

good pi6lurefque whole : and it is very little adorned with vegetable furniture.

As we got into the middle of the ftream, in our approach to Conway, we had not only a varied view of the caftlej but of the noble river we navigated. This ftream, like a per- fon, fuddenly raifed to a great fortune, in^ creafes at once from a fpring to a river. The Conway runs only twenty-four miles ; juft the breadth of the two counties of Denbigh and Carnarvon, which it divides : and yet, tho it's courfe is fo fhort, it receives fuch vaft increafe from the various ftreams, which the furround- ing mountains pour into it, that it is navi- gable almoft to it's fountain head. We re- gretted much that we could not navigate it as far as Llanrwft j where the woods, and rocks, and fweeping mountains, we were aflured, were equal to any thing we could fee in Wales 5 but our time would not permit us to fee more of it than we could fee from the ferry. In this river was formerly carried on a pearl-fifhery, which is faid to have been valuable. The pearls were found in large mufcles. At pre- fent, no fuch bufmefs is followed. We faw


( 124 )

indeed a number of people boiling mufcles, on the banks of another river in the neighbour- hood : but they were in quefl only of thofe fmall pearls, which are fold to the apothecaries, for what they call crab's eyes.

Having crofTed the ferry, we landed under the walls of the caftle. Caftles are commonly the appendages of towns : here the town feems a mere appendage to the caftle. We were received at our inn, as we were at all the more confiderable inns on the road, by a harper, who is commonly blind. His infir- mity is probably the caufe of his being ap- pointed to the office of welcoming ftrangers into the town. Thefe venerable fubftitutes of the ancient Cambrian bards, are often refpeft- able figures. Their harps have an elegant form J and if their mufic is not exquifite, their appearance is pidurefque.


( m )


'T^HE retrofpe6l through the gate, as we leave Conway, affords a pleafing view of ruin ; compofed of battlements, and towers.

Here we met again the great Irifh road; and were condu6led above a mile from the town, between walls, clumfily formed, of a very beau- tiful kind of marbled flone. I know not how far it is fitted for mafonry j but if it were pro- perly difpofed, it would give great richnefs to a building.

As we approach Penmanmawr, the country grows wilder i and fome of the heights tre- mendous. At Succinant the precipices of the road have rather a frightful appearance. From all thefe heights we fee different parts of the fea-coafl, at a diilance ; — the promon- torial parts of the country, with the iflands by turns -— Anglefea, Priefl-holm, or Puflin's iile — - great, and little Orm's head, (the former of


( 126 )

which has the appearance of an ifland), and all the proje6ling lands in their neighbour* hood. The little vallies, and receffes among the mountains, which we now traverfed, were very beautiful. Abr, in particular, is a plea- fant, woody recefs, looking to the fea, and fecured on every other lide by lofty barriers.

At the difcance of two or three miles, we had the firft grand view of Penmanmawr 5 an immenfe rocky mountain, projecling into the fea, with the ifle of Anglefea as a diftance. It has no variety of line; but is one heavy, lumpifh form, falling plumb into the water, without any of thofe little projeft ions from it's bafe, which let a promontory down gently, as by a fl:ep; and which are, in general, great fources of beauty, as they prevent heavinefs; and add variety ■'^. But here, as the fcene is merely grojid^ without being at all indebted to beauty, this lumpifh appearance as more fimple, tends more ftrongly to imprefs the grandeur of the fcene.

Round the lower regions of Penmanmawr the road appears, at a difcance, winding like a

  • See vol. ii. p. ^'^i of Obfervations on the lakes and moun-

tains of Cumberland, &c.


( 127 )

narrow fhelf : but as we approach, we find it a noble terrace, defended by two good parapet- walls J one fecuring it from the fea below, and the other from the falling of the rocks above. The fituation too of the road took a new form, as we arrived on the fpot. Inftead of appearing, as it did at a diftance, to run along the bottom of the mountain, it now over- looked a tremendous precipice. — Formerly indeed this road was in reality, what it appears at a diftance, a mere fhelf, narrow, and with- out a parapet : and it was with great labour brought to it's prefent ftate of perfeftion. The fhivering face of the mountain v/as too unilable to work on ; and the road, where it doubles the point, is formed upon vaft folid arches -, which make it a very curious piece of mafonry.

Av/ful however as the fcene is below, the mountain above prefents a flill more horrid idea. It has a hideous appearance. One uniform dreary afpe6l prevails over the whole body of it. There are no large parts ; no projefting mafles of broken rock, nor beautiful interlacing of foil, herbage, and wood ; the whole is covered v/ith one univerfai face of fmall fhivering, flaty rock 5 as if a mafs of thefe materials had been


( 128 )

thrown together into one immenfe heap. The poet's idea of it is ftri(5tly geographical when he fpeaks of

The rude rocks

Of Penmanmawr, heaped hideous to the fky.

So Uttle of any kind of verdure appears on it's furface, that we wondered v/hat could tempt the wild goats, which clung about it, to climb it's heights.

We were told a ftory * of an intrepid genius, who, riding a vicious horfe along this road, before the parapet was made, took it into his head to teach the beaft in this place to fland fire. With this intention he turned him fuddenly round, and brought his head over the edge of the precipice. As he flood trem- bling in that pofition, the rider drew a pillol from his holfter, and poifmg it clofe to the ears of the horfe, fired it off. The greater terror overpowered the lefs ; and the horfe flood unmoved, except by one univerfal tre- mor, which fhook his frame. The rider efcaped the mifchief his rafhnefs defervcci ; but

  • We had this relation from Mr. Brifco, a very worthy gen-

tleman, the CoUedlor oi the cuftoms at Beaumaris.


{ 129 )

fuppofmg he had now gained his end, he re^ peated the experiment an hour after on the plain below J but his horfe, having now no counter-terror to contend with, broke away from all reftraint, and threw his rider, who was killed on the fpot.

That every part of Penmanmawr may be a fcene of immenfity, on it's fummit flood for- merly a caftle, equal in grandeur to the mountain, which is it's bafe, In the ruins, it's veftiges, and numerous towers, may yet be traced. It's lituation fo lofty, and inacceffible, -^-^ it's extent •— and it's ftrength, are all equally aflonifhing. It is thought to have been ca- pable of holding twenty thoufand men j tho the fteep avenues leading to it, are fuch, that a hundred might have defended it againft any number. But it is probable, it was meant rather as an afylum to the country, than as a fortrefs againft an enemy.




A T the bottom of Penmanmawr, the feene •"^"^ fhifted ; the mountains receded j and we were prefcnted with a fpacious view of the Lavan-fands; and of the ifle of Anglefea ilretching wide beyond them. The great Irifh road turns fhort to the left ; winds along the edge of the fands, under the mountains, and near Bangor crolles the Menai 5 which is the channel, that feparates Anglefea from the main. .

As a nearer and pleafanter rout to Beau- maris, which was our next ftage, we crofTed the fands. They extend about five miles j and we fleered over them by fixed poles, fet up as marks to avoid quick-fands. As we ap- proached th? middle of this vail area, it

K z ailumed

( 132 )

alTumed a circular form, nearly indeed it's natural one; and the country, which invi- roned it's fkirts, afforded a very noble piece of fcenery. There is fomething peculiarly grand in thefe great amphitheatres of nature j where the eye, flationed in a center, efpe- cially if that center be on a fpacious plain, and viewing a profufion of grand obje6ls on every fide, paffes along mountains, vallies, rivers, towns, forefts, iflands, and promontories, in fucceflion ; contrafting one part with another ; and every part, with the level area, which forms the fore-ground. The area of the am- phitheatre before us, had now alfo an adven- titious beauty. It was filled with people from the country gathering fhell-filli, which is their common pra6lice, on tlie retreat of the tide. Many of them had carts, and horfes with pan- niers, which formed a number of little groups upon the fand ; and made it a moving, and very amuling pi6ture.

The obje6ls, which compofe this grand circle around the fands, taken in rotation, as they prefent themfelves, are the promontory of Orm's-head flanding out into the fea ; and adjoining to it, on the right, the mountains of Penmanmawr, and Penmanbach, which


( 133 )

we had juft left. From thefe runs a Ikirting of rich country, {rich in a pi6lurefque light), formed into a recefs by mountains j one of which delving into a peculiar abyfs, is known by the name of the Devil's- cauldron. To this country facceeds, in the part oppofite the fea, another rich fcene. At the point of it lies Bangor, ikreened by a woody diftance, run- ning out behind it. From thence the ifle of Anglefea appears ftill farther diflant ; winding round like a long, low bank, towards the fea. Separated by a narrow channel from Anglefea rifes Prieil-holm, or Puffin's iflandj which another fmall channel divides from Orm's- head, from whence our view began. In this grand circle, the femi-diameter of which may be from fix to ten miles, no part pofTefTes peculiar beauty; yet the whole together is pleafmg; and many pidlures might be made from different portions of it : at leafl many excellent hints might be taken.

But if the forms of the obje6ls are not quite corre6l, as indeed we rarely fee in nature ex- amples of good compofition, yet in colouring, and light and fhade, the whole range of this circling fcenery, when we faw it, was tran-

K 3 fcendent.

( 134 )

iccndent. TKe woods, and hills of Bangor, which arofe full oppofite to the fetting fun, and all the ifle of Anglefea, which received it's beams allant, were fpread with vivid light; with tints and colours of great variety, tha always harmonious i while the mountains, on the Qppofite fide, were in deep fhadow. Here and there a prominent point was tipped with fplendor j and a fev/ ftraggling rays, diverging along fome mountain's fide, would fpread a kind of hazy light upon the valley beneath. In the mean time the chaftifed tint of fo vaft an area of fand was a pleafmg contraft to all this radiance, — — Something magical pofTelTes a pifturefque eye within fuch a circle of great obje6^s ; and if there had not been with us one or two of Gooller imagination, who intimated, that the tide was approaching, there might have: been fome danger of our delaying, till we had been intangled by it — a cafe, which has fometimes happened to inadvertent tra- vellers.

As we approached Anglefea, the town of Beaumaris, touched with the laft ray of a parting fun, made a diftinft appearance; and •beyond it Lord Bulkley's woods were in fha- dow.

( 135 ) •

dow. PufHn's-illand was now hid^ and a ftretch of fand appeared to run out as far as Orm's-head. Soon after, we came to the channel of the Menai, over which we fer- ried, and were landed on a pebble beach, clofe to Beaumaris.

^ 4 SECT.


SECT. Vll.

TT is a commonly received opinion, in thefe parts of Wales, that the whole track of fand, over which we had juft pafTed, was once a beautiful valley j and that Anglefea was feparated from Carnarvonfhire in this part, as well as in others, only by the ftreights of of Menaii It is one of thofe traditionary ilories, which feems founded on truth : and indeed the very name of Beaumaris, or the beautiful marJJj^ feems to indicate a fituation, which that town once had, and which now it certainly has not.

In confirmation of this tradition a clergy- man of thofe parts * fhewed us, among other Welfh MSS. an account of the breaking in of the fea upon this country. As the narrative

  • Mr.Myddeltoiij redor of St. George's near Denbigh*


( isS )

has very much the an* of truth, I ftiall give a tranflation of it.

" In the year 813 the caftle of Treganway w^as burnt by Ughtning; and in the year 823 it was re-built 4 It was afterwards reduced by the Saxons, and deftroyed. This caftle ftood within the prefent flood-mark, oppoiite to Pen- manbach j and the road from Rhyddland-caftle paffed through it, by the boundary-ftone, near thofe two rocks, which are called the Brown^ brothers. Thefe rocks make a part of the pro- montory of Llandidno, and ftood oppofite to the caftle of Treganway. From hence the road ran in a ftrait line to the palace of Elis Clynog, which lay about a mile from Prieft-holm iiland. This palace once com- manded a very beautiful vale, now totally flooded 3 and knov/n by the name of the Lavan- fands. For about the time when the caftle of Treganway was deftroyed by the Saxons, the fea broke in upon this country, and overflowed all the lands of the vale, which became a fand- beach, and took the name of Lav an, or lamen- tatio7i^ from the melancholy cries of it's fuf- fering inhabitants. It is faid that two per- fons only efcaped from the palace of Elis Clynog."


( ^39 )

The clergyman, who fhewed us this MS. told us farther, as I remember, that feme of the monuments mentioned in it, particularly the boundary-ftone, may flill be {qqii at low- water.

This extenfive flat is not lefs beautiful — - perhaps more fo, when the fea overfpreads it. It becomes then a grand lake covered with fhipping ; and the objefts around it are equally ornamental. The agitation of the water in a ilorm; and the refie6lion of ail the grand images around it, in a calm, are additional objefts of beauty. A gentleman of Beau- maris informed us, that fometimes the water in the bay is fo ftill, that the reflexions from Penmanmawr, and the mountains in it's neigh- bourhood, may be feen in great fplendor from the fhores of Anglefea.

The town of Beaumaris flands low, and is defended by a large caillej which is fcarce raifed above the level of the flood, and is one of the flrongefl fortreffes we met with among all the remains of Edward the firfl's prowefs. It is a kind of double caflle, built on a fquare, regular planj and is fortified with towers on


( HO )

every fide. The front of the iniier-caftle con- tains a noble room. The chapel alfo, to which we climbed with fome difficulty, is worth looking into. This old fortrefs is in no repair, tho it is too perfeft to be pi6lurefque. A few goats are it's only inhabitants. They are kept in it, like prifoners of flate, and are no little ornament to the place. They range .with great agility among the walls, and tur- rets; and find fome mode of accefs to every tuft of grafs, almoft on the loftieft parts of the caftle.

The ifland of* Anglefea is a naked fcene. It is beautifully wooded along the fhores of the Menai ; and affords very pleaiing landfcapes : but it's internal parrs promifed us fo little a- mufement, both from it's naked afpeft, and the accounts we had received of it, that we were not tempted to traverfe it's boundaries. " It is a tra6l of plain country, (fays Mr. Gray,) very fertile; but pi6lurefque only from the view it has of Carnarvonfhire." To an anti- quary in queft of Druid-remains, it furnifhes ample amufement. But thefe were not our obje6ts. We propofed therefore to take a boat,


( HI )

and fail up the channel of the Menai, as far as Carnarvon-bay ; the banks of which chan- nel, we were informed from all hands, would continue beautiful throughout : and from Car- narvon we propofed to explore the regions of Snowdon. But when we talked, on the fubje6l of our intended navigation, with the learned in winds, and tides, we were informed, that unlefs both were favourable, the voyage, trifling as it appears, might be attended with danger. Even this little channel, we found, had it's Sylla, and Charybdis, to threaten inad- vertent voyagers -, and as neither wind nor tide favoured our purpofe, we gave it up.


( 143 )


|U R next fcheme was to explore the regions of Snowdon firft; and to vifit Carnar- von, and the banks of the Menai afterwards.

With this view we fet out in the morning from Beaumaris j and croffing the Lavan-fands a fecond time, more to the fouthward, we forded the river Ogwen, a rapid, and often dangerous ilream, except vv^hen the v\^ater is low J and entered the hanging woods of Pen- thryn. The fan grew hot, and had fcorched us over the lands. The coolnefs of thefe woods was a defirable iheUer} and we had beautiful catches through their openings, of the moun- tains, iilands, and promontories, we had juil left. When we viewed all thefe objeBs together the day before, as we eroded the Lavan fands, they could be confidered only as affording ftudiesi but here they often formed good pic- tures, by the addition of a little woody fcenery,


( 144 )

on the fore-grounds. This mode indeed of viewing portions of landfcape between the boles of trees is pleafmg. The quick glance alfo of moving objects in thofe circumftances, is attended with amufement. We enjoy it the more, as we are eager to catch it before it is gone. " Beyond that meadow, (fays Mr. Gray, in a letter to Mr. Nicholls,) nods a thicket of oaks, that maik the buildings, an4 leave on either hand an opening to the blue glit- tering fea. Did you not obferve how that white fail fliot by, and was loft ?" — ■. — Virgil too, de- fcribing a fleet entering a river, feizes the fame image ; and gives his fhips a more pi6lurefque appearance, by prefenting them through the interfaces, and obfcurity of the grove :

Ut celfas videre rates, atq. inter opacum AUabi nemus. ■

On leaving the v/oods of Penthryn, we en-^ tered a wild, difagreeable country, with moun- tains on the left, towards which we verged. But we met nothing among them worth our notice. They are in general, fo uncouthly fhaped, and fo inharmonjoufly combined, that we were fcarce reward^ with a fingle moun- tain-fcene of any value All this wild coun- try

( H5 )

try pafTes under the name of the Forejl of Snow don.

Through many a yielding bog, and over many a dreary mountain we travelled :

Per rupes, fcopulofque, adituque carentia faxa ; Qua via difficilis ; quaque eft via nulla. —

In few places we could ride ; and where we could not, a fervant was of no ufe in leading our horfes j for every one was obliged to lead his own ; which was a great inconvenience to thofe, who had fketches, and obfervations to make.

In fa61:, Snowdon is a colle6lion of moun- tains, formed on the old gigantic plan of heap- ing mountain on mountain. You are kept in continual fufpenfe. After afcending much rifmg ground, you climb the f!:eep fide of a precipice ftill higher. This, you think furely muft be the fummit of Snov/don. You are miftaken. Another fteep ridge rifes before you : and thus you afcend, as it were by flairs, the feveral ftories of the mountain.

Thefe fcenes, the Cambro-Briton reverences as the laft retreat of Llewelin from the power of Edward, If that perfecuted prince had trufled more in thefe fcenes, than in his own

L prowefsj

( 146 )

prowefs, he might have remained unconquered : but he defcended with his army into the plain, and was ruined.

At length we arrived at the foot of, what feemed now, without doubt, to be the higheft ridge of Snowdon j from whence we had a fair view of what we conceived to be it's real fummit. The day was clear 5 and the moun- tain unincumbered with clouds. Paufmg a while on this eminence, and looking down on the parts of the mountain we had paffed, it made, on the whole, no very formidable ap- pearance. The Welfh call Snowdon about twelve hundred yards high j but they meafure from the level of the fea j and as the country, we have feen, afcends gradually many miles towards the fummit, there remains no great quantity of precipitate height for, what is properly called, the mouniaiji to appropriate. The geography therefore of Matthew of Weft- minfter is not fo very erroneous, as fome have imagined, when he tells us, that Con- way-caftle lies at the foot of Snowdon ; tho in fa6l it lies twenty miles from the fummit, which is commonly known by that name.

Tho we had thus afcended fo nearly the end ©f our journey, we felt but little inclination to


( 147 )

afcend higher. Indeed it was too late in the day; for tho the fummit of Snowdon appeared fo near, we doubted not, from paft experience, but we had many a weary ftep to take before we attained it. Whether there was a road for a horfe we knew not ; but we were very fure, we Ihould find no refrefhment, of vv/^hich both we, and our horfes, began to be in great want. ■ — Inftead therefore of afcending the fummit of Snowdon, we contented ourfelves with furveying the fertiUty of all the little vallies, and receifes, at our feet, which feemed luxu- riant on every fide. The Wellli indeed fay, that this fmgle mountain, (including, I fup- pofe, all it's appendages,) would find fummer^ pailurage for all the cattle in Wales.

L 2 ' SECT.

( 149 )


A S I cannot prefent the reader with any view of my own from the fummit of Snowdon, I fhall prefent him with one, ex- tracted from an account given by Mr. Pennant, who afcended it to fee the fun rife from fo noble a center ; and has colle6led a great va- riety of pi6lurefque images, from which I fhall feledl fome of the mofV interefting.

The night was remarkable fine, and ftarry. Towards morning the ftars fading away, left a fhort interval of darknefs ; which was foon difperfed by the dawn of day. The body of the fun appeared to rife like the moon without rays ; but foon the fea, which extended on the weft, began to glow with red. The profpe6l however difclofed gradually, as the mift, which inveloped the mountain, fubfided. The per- pendicular view furnifhed horrid ideas. " We looked down, (fays he,) into numerous abyfles,

L 3 which

( ^50 )

wliich were concealed by eddies of vapour, like thick fmoke, furiouily circulating in a kind of rapid whirl-pools. Often, a gull of wind, making an opening in the clouds, gave us a villa towards fome lake, or valley : and often the clouds, opening in various places at once, exhibited llrange appearances of waters, rocks, and chafms. Then at once they would clofej and leave us involved in darknefs. Separating again, they would fly off in wild eddies round the middle of the mountain, and expofe in part both it's fummit, and it's bafe. As we defcended from this various fcene, a thunder- llorm overtook us, before we reached our horfes. It's rolling among the mountains was inexpreffibly awful. The rain was heavy. We mounted our horfes, and gained the bot- tom with fome hazard. The little rills, which on our afcent, trickled down the fides of the mountain, were now fwelled into torrents; ^nd fome of them appeared dangerous."

Having thus taken a view of Snowdon, if the reader will follow me to mount Lebanon, I will prefent him with a ftill grander view. The comparifon of fmiilar fcenes, or of Na- ture's mode of diverfifying landfcape on the fame flan ^ is among the moll amufmg topics

. . of

( 151 )

of pi6lurefque obfervation. — t met with thd account here given of Lebanon in Volney's travels into Egypt, and Syria j from which I take, as I did from Mr* Pennant, a few of fuch pafTages, as appeared to me moft defcriptive, and pi6lurefquei

" Lebanon gives it's name to an extenfive chain of mountains, inhabited by the Druzes $ who enjoy among it's faftneifes fome degree of liberty, amidft thofe vaft territories, which are fubjeft to Turkifh tyranny. When you land on this coaft, the loftinefs, and fteep afcent of this mountainous ridge, which feems to inclofe the whole country, infpires you with aflonifh- ment, and awe. If you climb it in any part, the wide extended fpace at the top, be- comes a frefh objecl of admiration. But to en- joy in perfe6lion this majeftic fcene, you muft afcend that fummit of Lebanon, which is called Sannin. There on every fide you fee an horizon almoft without bounds. In clear wea- ther, the fight is loft over the deferts of Arabia, which extend to the Perfian gulph. In an- other dire6lion, you furvey the fea, which wafhes the coaft of Europe : and in a third, you look over the fucceflive chains of mountains, which carry the eye, at leaft the

i. 4 imagina-

( 152 )

imagination, as far as to Antioch. You feem to command the whole world ; till the wan- dering eye, fated with furveying remote obje6ls, turns at length to thofe, which are more within it's fcope. It looks down on the vaft profundity of the diminifhed coaft lying below. It examines the rocks, woods, torrents, and declivities of the mountain. It examines the various vallies, often obfcured by floating clouds 5 while the fwelling bafes of the moun- tain, vv^hich on landing at the bottom appeared fo magnificent, appear now only like the far- rows of a field. In the mean time, if you hear thunder j inflead of burfting above y ou, it now rolls below.

" If the traveller leave his lofty fland, and vifit the interior parts of thefe mountains, the ruggednefs of his path, the ileepnefs of the defcent, and the height of the precipices flrike him with terror : but by degrees he begins to have confidence in the fagacity, and certain foot-fteps of his mule 5 and examines, at his eafe, thofe grand, and pi6lurefque fcenes, which fucceed each other. He fees villages ready to glide from the declivities, on which they fland : convents hanging on folitary emi- nenceSj as if nothing could come near them :


( ^53 )

rocks perforated by torrents, and formed into natural arches ; or worn perpendicularly, and refembling lofty walls. But thefe pi6lurefque circumftances are often the occafion of very tragical events. Rocks lofe their equilibrium, and rolling down on the adjacent houfes, bury the inhabitants. Such an event, about twenty years ago, overwhelmed a whole village. And Hill more lately, the whole fide of a hill, co- vered with vines, and mulberries, was detached by a fudden thaw j and Aiding down the fide of a mountain, was launched like a (hip from the flocks, into the valley beneath."


( -^ss )

S E C T. ,X.

E now return to Snowdon. What mount Lebanon may be in a piBurefque lights I know not. Volney indeed fpeaks of many pi6lurefque pafTages in it's wide regions : but this matter depends intirely on Volney's tafte. With regard to Snowdon, however, I fear, not much can be faid. As it no where appears conne6led enough as one whole to form a grand obje6l j fo neither has it any of thofe accompaniments, which form a beautiful one. It is a bleak, dreary wafle^ without any pleafmg combination of parts, or any rich furniture, either of wood, or well-conftru6led rock. The elegant bard therefore who fang,

— — — what folemn fcenes on Snowdon's heights

Defcending flow, their ghttering flcirts unrolled,

did well in fixing his vifion on a bafe, where the eye had nothing elfe to engage it's at- tention.


( 156 )

Our trouble however in traverflng this rugged country was not totally unrewarded. Tho Snowdon itfelf afforded us little amufe- ment, we met with two or three beautiful fcenes about Dolbaddern-caftle, which lies at it's foot ; and is one of thofe fortreffes, built by Edward the firft, to guard this avenue into the country. The caftle appeared before us, at the diftance of two miles, {landing on the confines of a lake. The mountains around it, (which are called all appendages of Snowdon), fall into pleafmg lines, forming a deep valley, and folding over each other in eafy interfec- tions. Indeed a body of water among moun- tains, if it have no other ufe, has at leafl that of fhewing, by the little bays it forms, how one mountain folds over another ; which ftrengthens the pi6lurefque idea of a graduating diftance.

As we defcended towards the caffle, we were , drawn alide by a pleafant retreat called Com- brunog j where a little river flows through two circular vallies, each about a mile in circum- ference J and each furrounded with mountains. Both areas being nearly plains, and on dif- ferent levels, the river, having pafied through one, falls in a cafcade into the other. The


( ^57 )

whole fcenery is embellilhed with wood ; which is here the more ftriking, as it is in general, but thinly fcattered in thefe regions.

As we left Combrunog, and defcended ftill nearer Dolbaddern, the fcenery about it be- came more interefting. But as we had before the difficulties of afcent, they were now changed into thofe of defcent. In one place we defcended near a hundred ftone-fleps, or rather ftones laid irregularly in the form of fteps : and if our horfes had not been thofe of the country, we fhould not eafdy have per- fuaded them to attempt a pafTage, fo ill- adapted to quadrupeds. Through thefe, and other little difficulties, at length however we arrived at the bottom, where we found two lakes feparated by a neck of land -, near which arofe a knoll, much higher than the banks of the lakes, but inconfiderable when compared with the furrounding mountains. On this knoll ftands the caftle, which has never been a capital fortrefs j and now exhibits little more, than one round, folitary tower: but it is a very pi61:urefque fragment, and is more in union with the fcene, than if it had been a larger building. A lonely tower is itfeif an emblem of folitude. — Having afcended the


( 158 )

ca^le-hill, we had a good view of both the lakes.

The lower one is about two miles long, and half a quarter of a mile broad. It's lines are beautiful ; and it goes off, in good perfpe6live ; but it has a contra6led appearance, being funk too much, like a gully, under lofty mountains, to which it is in no degree equivalent. In every lake-view the water and ikreens fhould be proportioned, or there can be no very pleafmg effe6l. In the lakes of Conftance, and Geneva, and ftiil more in the great lakes of America, the fkreens are as little propor- tioned to the water, as in fuch a lake as this, the water is to it's fkreens. In neither cafe the fcenery is compleat.

The upper lake of Dolbaddern is flill more a gully, than the lower, having fcarce any banks, but mountains. Both lakes have a naked, defolate appearance; being wholly def- titute of furniture. In Cumberland, and Weflmorland, fuch lakes would attra6V, no at- tention. Here, a dearth of obje6ls gives them confequence.

The upper lake however afforded an oppor- tunity of obferving the fmgular ufe of reflec- tions in uniting land and water. In fome parts

( 159 )

the rough fhores of the lake being fully re- flefted, occafioned that pleafing ambiguity, which left a doubt where the land ended, and where the water began. In other parts, when the reflexions were not fo highly coloured, the feparation was more diftinft i and the reflec- tions gave an eafy tranfition from one element to the other. In fome places we obferved a dark furface of water urging againfl a light fhore, without any of thofe mediating tints, which reflections produce. This is unpleafing, and the painter will be cautious how he imi- tates it, tho he may plead the authority of nature. It is not often however that we fee thefe harfh connexions between land and wa^ ter : and in reprefentation they may eafily be foftened by a fmall degree of tint, or fhadow.

It was now a late evening hour, and tho we had feen little, we had laboured much j and began to want refrefhment, both for our- felves, and horfes. Among the mountains of Cumberland we might generally have found it ; but here all was defolation. We did not meet with a fmgle village, and but few feparate houfes ; and thefe were locked up, and the inhabitants gone with their cattle, as v/e were pformed, to the higher parts of the mountain,


( i6o )

where they fpend their fummers in little dairy- fheds. Here they enjoy a cooler climate, and find frefher pafture for their herds, and fiocks. It was too late however to inveftigate their haunts. The limpid rills of Snowdon were our only repaft ; to which a bifcuit, or crull of bread, would have been an acceptable addi- tion : but we had been improvident. We re- turned through the fame fort of wild country which we had palTed in the morning; and ipent with hunger and fatigue, difcovered at a diftance, through the fhades of evening, the towers of Carnarvon, with that kind of joy, with which feamen, after a rough voyage, dif- cover a beacon.


( i6i )


/CARNARVON is fo beautiful a town, and

it's fituation fo pleafmg, that we were

fiirprized we had never heard it particularly

admired. It ftands on a bay of the Menai;

and on the land fide, is wafhed by the river

Saint. It is fmall, but well built j walled

round, embellifhed with elegant walks, has a

noble caftle; and a good approach. The

caftle has the grandeil appearance of any caftle

we have feen in Wales, It's front is rich, and

magnificent ; but when we enter it, we find it

is not built on fo large a fcale, as we were led

to expe6l, from the grandeur of the gate. The

whole ftru(5lure has more the air of a royal

habitation, than of a fortrefs -, and is fo per-

fe6l, that it might eafily be repaired. Our

frugal anceftors were fparing of light : the ap-

partments therefore of thefe grand manfions

are commonly dark j tho their proportions are

M often

( i62 )

often elegant. One end of this caftle, (where the Eagle-tower ftands,) overlooks the Menai ; the other end furveys a winding creek, where the vefTels of thefe narrow feas lie fafely, and pi6lurefquely, between two woody hills in a bottom; which is a beautiful valley, when the tide ebbs, and a beautiful lake, when it flows.

The very pleafmg fituation of this town probably determined Edward the firft in chufmg it for the birth-place of his fon. The chamber is ftill Ihewn, where the firft Englifh prince of Wales was born ; and a window on the oppofite fide of the caftle, from which, tradition fays, the queen efcaped with her infant fon. This is a piece of fecret hiftory, intimating, what I think none of our public accounts affert, the intention of the Welili to detain him.

From Carnarvon we took our rout, along^ the banks of the Menai, which fully anfwered our expe6lations, and afforded us many beau- tiful views — more beautiful perhaps than if we had navigated the ftraits, as we at firft intended. The eye, when ftationed upon the


( i63 )

water, is fo low, that unlefs the banks of the river are uncommonly high, the fcenery is loft. The banks of the Wye in Herefordfhire, are fo lofty, that, in moft places, the river, and it's appendages, are feen to more advantage from the bottom, than from the top. But the country about the Menai, is in general, of a moderate height, and affords almoft every where, a good point of view ; as it commands reaches, and w^indings of the river, v^hich could not be feen w^ith equal advantage from the furface. The illand of Anglefea, on the other fide of the channel, has generally a good effeft i particularly about Sir Nicolas Baily's * v^here the woods afford beautiful fcenery.

The views of the Menai may be feen with advantage, either when the tide is high or low. The latter circumftance, I fhould fup- pofe, might be more adapted to them 3 as the high- water mark, gives a great variation to the winding of the beach.

The cattle, which are bred in great numbers in Anglefea, and afford a great fupply to the Englifh markets, are driven in large herds

• Now Lord Uxbridge,

M 2 Upon

( i64 )

Upon a point of low land, which runs into the Menai. Here, inftead of being ferried over, they are forced, at the balance of the tide, into the channel, over which they fwim into Carnarvonfliire 5 a boat attending on each fide of the fwimming drove, to prevent accidents, and dire6l it's motion.

Bangor lies at the mouth of the Menai, near it's opening to the Lavan fands. It is an infig- nificant town j but fome of the views around it are not unpleafant. One in particular we had, in which the tower of the church appeared to advantage, between woody hills, with a diftant view of Anglefea, and the town of Beaumaris.

Having thus performed our expedition to Anglefea, Snowdon, and Carnarvon, we re- turned to Denbigh J having left part of our company there, who did not choofe to encoun^ ter fo rough a march.


( I6i )


t*ROM Denbigh we purfued our rout along the vale of Cluydd, with which we were already acquainted, as far as Ruthin. There, inftead of mounting the fleeps of Penbarris *, which we had before defcended, we continued in the vale to the end of it j and compleated our view of that rich, and beautiful fcene.

As we leave Ruthin, the mountains which form the vale, retire into frequeiit recefTes. Their tops are commonly fmooth -, their bafes woody. But their fhapes and lines are greatly varied, tho the vale itfelf makes only one large curve: juft as the general form of a vifta, cut through a foreft, is every where partially broken by the various fhapes, growth, age, or fituation of the feveral trees, which com- pofe it.

  • Seepage 114.

M 3 . As

( i66 )

As we approach the end of the vale, having pafTed through a fpace of more than twenty miles, the mountains draw nearer, till they infenfibly clofe it up ; finifhing the whole in a noble bay of cultivation. Having afcended the higher grounds, we had a grand retrofpedl of the whole vale in one vaft fcene. It's bofom, interfperfed with lawns, cottages, and groves, appears winding in perfpe6l:ive be- tween the hills, till every form is loft in an expanfe of woody diftancej while the hills, on each fide, take the feveral lines which dis- tance gives, one after another, as they retire ; till at St. Afaph, the whole landfcape unites infenfibly with the fea. In a clear day, the caftle of Denbigh, the tower of St. Afaph, and various other obje6ls of the vale, if the light fall happily upon them, might probably inrich the view. But when we faw it, all was lightly obfcured by a thin azure tint, which could not well be called mift, but threw a flight degree of obfcurity over the face of the land- fcape. Each mode of atmofphere hath it's peculiar beauty, and it is difficult to fay, which is more pidlurefque. One gives clear iiefs ; the oiSitx Joftnefs ; the former, a greater fcope to the eyCy the latter to the imagination,

J As

( i67 )

As we leave the vale of Cluydd, we enter a difagreeable country j and had an unpleafant morning's ride among waftes, and open com- mons on our way to Llangollen. We travelled many miles on high grounds, till we came at length, without any fudden rife, to a precipitate defcent ; which, in the courfe of a rapid mile, let us down into the vale of Crueis, a fweet recefs j which made us fome amends for the uninterefting country we had pafTed. The ruins of Abbey Crueis, which gives name to the vale, ftand at one end of a flat meadow, about a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile in breadth. It is bounded on one lide by a mountain-ridge, with little variety of line, fave what it receives from a few oaks, ftraggling about it's fummit, and forming groups here and there, which juft ferve to break it's con- tinuity. It's bare fides, defcending fleep to the meadow, are received there by a piece of rich woody fcenery, which adorns the banks of a rivulet. This mountain-fkreen, tho it wants the beauty of variety itfelf, yet contrafls with feveral little hills j which fkreen the meadow on the oppofite fide, and are in general round

M 4 and

( i68 )

and detached, fome of them bare, and otheris woody, with little receffes between them.

The remains of the abbey are conliderable ; and many of the parts pi6lurefque. The eaft, and weft windows of the great church are in- tirej and much of the walls. The fituation of the town may be traced, but the whole is fo intirely overgrown with wood, and choked with rubbifhj that we could not trace the plan with any accuracy.

A judicious hand might make thefe ruins, and their invirons, a very pleafing fcene. To clear away fome of the rubbifh, and fome of the wood, is all the decoration which the abbey requires: and as it ftands near one end of the long meadow juft mentioned, a fimple walk might be traced round the whole fcene, in the form of an irregular ellipfis. The' ruins, which might be conlidered as a focus, would be the principal objeft^ and a little planting might hide, and difcover them with great beauty, and contraft; exhibiting fome- times a difiinB 'uiew^ and fometimes one at hand; here the whok, and there fome dijlin- guijhed part.

The flatnefs of the meadow is perhaps ra- ther a beauty. Beauty is derived from two

fources j

( i69 )

fources; from objects themfelves, and from their contraft with other obje6ls. In contrail even deformity may be one of thefe fources j and produce beauty, as difcords in mufic, pro- duce harmony. If however fo extenfive a flat, tho diverfified with wood, fhould be found to hurt the eye, part of the meadow might with great eafe be floated with a lake.

But the walk need not be confined to the meadow. In fome places it might fkirt along the flopes of the hills; in others it might climb them ; and exhibit new fcenes, of which the place is fruitfiil. One view it might exhibit from the higher grounds, which is loft, I believe, in the lower, and that is, of Crow- caftle, or Dinas-bran; which ftands upon a lofty fummit, and affifts the fcene by the intro- du6lion of a diftance.

The only thing, which difgufts the eye through this whole fcenery, is the lumpifli- nefs of fome of thofe hills, which are op- pofite to the continued Jkreen. In a fcene of mere grandeur, a lumpifh hill may heighten the idea * ; but where beauty is meant to par-

  • See remarks on Penmanmawr, jp. 126.


( ^70 )

ticipate, and efpecially where the obje(5l:s are fmall, it difgufts. Thefe hills however might be greatly improved by a little judicious femi- planting^ which might be fo contrived, as to vary the line, and take off much from the hea- vinefs of the appearance. I have known fome improvers adorn a lumpifh hill by planting it all over. By this mode of planting they have gained little ; transforming only a round hill into a round bufh. The woody-hill, which Ikreened Conway-caftle was of this kind.

Having viewed in idea fuch beauties, as the fcenery before us might receive from a little judicious art, we are hurt at feeing it in reality fo exceedingly injured. The proprietor has juft now taken it into his head to improve it. A large fquare pond is dug in front of the ruins. The rivulet, which glides and mur- murs naturally under the mountain-lkreen, is here taught another lefibn. It is dire6ted to a flight of ftone-fteps, down which it is made to fall in a regular cafcade, and enter the pond at right angles. The pond is adorned with Chinefe railing, painted a lively green. A fquare walk is laid out between the rail and


( 171 )

the water ; and a fummer-houfe, tipped with a gilded ball, and ftationed oppolite the cafcade, is juft finifhed. All this however we can bear, becaufe nothing is done, but what might be undone j but if this man of tafte fhould ftretch his hand towards the ruin itfelf, in the fame ftyle of improvement, we fhould find it a difficult matter to reprefs indignation. In thefe remarks I am not per- fonal 5 for I know not even the name of the improver.


( 173 )


A S we left the vale of Crucis, we entered direftly a valley of a different kind ; but of it's kind the mod interefting. It has no fcenes of grandeur to boaft. It's beauties, in a humbler ftyle, are merely fylvan. It extends nearly two miles in length, with a proportional degree of breadth. It's fides are little more than eafy fwelling banks, varioufly broken. At the bottom runs the Dee, which gives it's name to the valley j and, tho not too impor- tant, is here a river of fome confequence. A large river would be unfuitable to the fcene. We want only a fhallow ftream to murmur among the rocks and ftones, which compofe it's channel.

All the other obje6ls of this valley are as much in harmony, as the river. We faw no- thing ftriking from one end of it to the other ; no peculiar feature ; nothing that could give it


form in defcription. It had no bold ikreen ; no flat extended meadow j no magnificent ruin : but was varied into fo pleafing a combination of parts i the ground fo beautifully thrown about i the little knolls, and vallies fo diverfi- fied, and contrafted; the trees fo happily in- terfperfed ; and the openings, and windings of the river difplayed to fuch advantage; in a word, the whole formed into fuch a variety of pleafmg, natural fcenes, that we fcrupled not to call this valley one of the moft interefting we had feen.

The fource of all it's beauty is the harmo- nious combination of it's parts. Compofition is the life of fcenery. It is not trees, it is not rocks, it is not varied ground, it is not alto- gether, that makes a beautiful fcene. From the fame pallet we may fee a pi6lurefque land- fcape; or a daubed canvas. The colours are the fame in both ; in the former only they are more artfully combined.

In compofition alone — I mean pifturefque compofition — nature yields to art. Nature is full of fire, wildnefs, and imagination. She touches every obje6l with fpirit. Her general colouring, and her local hues, are exquifite. In compofition only fhe fails. We fpeak how- ever

( ^75 )

ever in this matter like the fly on the column* Her plans are too immenfe for our confined optics. They include kingdoms, continents, and hemifpheresj and may be as elegant, as they are incomprehenfible. Could we take in the whole of her landfcapes at one caft ; could we view the Hyrcanian forefl as a grove ; the kingdom of Poland as a lawn ; the coaft of Norway as a piece of rocky fcenery; and the Mediterranean as a lake -j we might then difcover a plan juftly compofed, and perhaps beautiful even in a painter's eye. But as we can view only detached parts, we muft not wonder, if we feldom find in any of them our confined ideas of a whole. Sometimes however we do ; as in the valley we are now admiring j in which nature has given us a fuccelfion of fylvan fcenery, as corre6l in the whole, as it is elegant in it's parts.

The beauty of nature's fcenes, like thofe of art, depends much alfo on the light, in which they are feen. The fame landfcape, which ap- pears to advantage under a fetting fun, may lofe many a charming touch, and many a beau- tiful form, when feen through the hazinefs of a morning. Some capital part may require a deep fhadow to give it force j which can only


( 176 )

be given by a ftrong light. Other paffages again are fo'ftened by fhade. Their features may be too ftrong to endure a blaze of light. But this valley, I fhould imagine, like fome bodies, that v^ill bear all climates, has a con- flitutional ftrength, which no mode of atmo- fphere can injure.

If this valley were added to the vale, in which the ruin of Abbey-Crucis ilands, and united with it in one plan, it would form a moll pleafmg and varied continuity of fcene. From views of grandeur we might infenfibly glide into a path of retirement :

fallentis femita vitse.

where groves, and rivulets draw the mind to meditation, and inforce wifdom more effec- tually than books, and pulpits.

In the valley of the Dee very little improve- ment would be neceffary. There will always be a rudenefs in the works of nature. A polijhed gem fhe never produces. In the vaft- nefs of her defigns the minutiae of finiihing is overlooked. Man's microfcopic eye requires more exa6lnefs. A little rubbifh, and under- wood might be cleared away j a few openings might have a good efFe6l ; and here and there,

a proper

( -^11 )

a proper obje6l, if it were truly fylvan, might appear to advantage : but a path could hardly be condu6ted better, than the road in which we pafs through it. It winds regularly along the flope of one of the fkreens, and could only be improved by a little variation. As the fpace is large, it might branch out in other direc- tions ; climbing fometimes to the top, and fometimes defcending to the bottom. In it's natural rudenefs however, the whole fcene has fo many innate charms, that the traveller, in paffing through it, may be fatisfied with it, as it is 3 and has only to fear left fome thriftlefs hand may defpoil it of it's beauties.


( "^19 )


nPHE town of Llangollen (or Clangothlinj as it is pranounced,) lies at the end of this valley. It is a place of no confequence ^ but pleafantly feated on the banks of the Dee, Some of the hills, which furround it, are woody, and others fmooth. The bridge is efteemed among the curiofities of Wales. It is founded on a rock, is an ancient ftru6lure, ornamented with large buttreiles ; and is a pic- turefque objeft. The bed of the river, in this part, does not confift of detached ftones, and fragments, as the beds of mountain-rivers com- monly do J but is a continued furface of fplid rock, varioully broken, or rather channelled by the rapidity of the ftream. Thefe rocky channels give the bed of the river a peculiar form 5 and the water, which is caft in thefe molds, a peculiar mode of agitation, But the river, when we faw it, fcarce occupied one third of it's bed,

N 2 FroiTi

( iBo )

From the church-yard at Llangollen we ha4 a very amufmg view of the Dee, and it's woody banks ; but the perfpe6live of the river from this fland is not very pleafmg. This view therefore is rather what the painters call a Jiudy than a compojition j and in this light many of the parts are admirable.

From the fame Hand we had a good view alfo of Crow-caftle, which is no very pic-? turefque objeft j but it breaks the line of the round hill, on which it ftands. In itfelf how- ever, at leaft upon the fpot, it is a fcene of grandeur; not occupying lefs fpace through it's whole circumference than three quarters of a mile. It has withftood the ftorms of many a century; and tho in the moft expofed fitua- tion, preferves flill a form ; Ihewing here and there, the remnant of a tower, the fragment of a wall, and other veftiges, from which it's ancient prowefs may be traced. There is a meagre fpring within it's precinfts ; but this is always dry before the end of fummer 3 and refervoirs, which were it's chief fupply, mull have been a very precarious one. What could make a place fo ill fupplied with water, worth the trouble of fortifying fo ftrongly, does not appear. From the fituation of many of the Welih cailles, we are led to believe them of


{ i8i )

three kinds — fuch as were the refidence of chiefs — the defence of paffes — or temporary places of refuge for the country in time of alarm. Thefe latter were commonly feated on lofty mountains, and were of immenfe fize. We have already feen one of them on Penman- mawr * ; and it is probable Dinas Bran might have been another^

Before we left Llangollen, we could have wifhed our time had permitted us to viiit the lake of Bala, about fifteen miles to the weft of it 5 which is faid to be the moft beautiful fheet of water in Wales. It is furrounded by wooded hills, and fringed banks, which are refle6led from a mirror of the pureft water. The lake of Bala is the fource of the river Dee; on the banks of which, near it's exit from the lake, in ancient times, prince Ar- thur was foftered by good old Timon, whofe dwelling was

full low in valley green j

Under the foot of Auran, mofly hoar ; From whence the Dee, as pureft filver clean> His tumbling billows rolls with gentle roar.

{ i82 )

At prefent however, the good people of Bala^ inftead of foftering princes, fofter flocks of flieep J and fpin a kind of fine yarn, of which they make the fofteft, and pleafanteft ftockens. They who wear their winter-ftockens for fhew^ muft be content to fubmit to the more rigid texture of cotton or worftedj but they who wear them for comfort, efpecially people in years, may get them of the beft kind, from the good folks of Bala.

Befides the lake of Bala, we fhould have been glad to have feen fome other parts of Merionethfliire, moft of which is faid to afford fine landfcapej particularly the vale of Fef- tiniog, which is more celebrated than any other fcene in Wales. In this county alfa ftands the famous mountain of Cader Idris.

From Llangollen we purfued our rout to Chirk-caftle, along a noble natural terrace, which overlooks the winding of the Dee, and it's oppofite banks.

The fituation of Chirt-caflle, which belongs to Mr. Myddelton, does not feem the moil: eligible. As you approach, there is a rude- nefs, and nakednefs about it, without any of


( i83 )

thofe grand farts of nature, which compenfatc the want of beauty. Behind the houfe hangs a wood 5 but it does not appear as we ap- proach. The general air of the houfe is mag- nificent, from its round towers, and elevated fituation; but on a nearer furvey it appears regular and formal without; and within de- tached, incumbered, and inconvenient. The rooms form the fides of a large fquarej the angles of which are adorned with round towers. It ftands in a park 5 which may be beautiful, when fome new plantations have attained their growth. The garden is laid out in tafte j and contains fome pleafmg fcenery, particularly about the green-houfe *.

A few miles from Chirk- caftle ftands Win- ftay, a rival manlion ; the feat of fir W. W. Wynne. From a diftant view, which was all we had of it, it feems to enjoy a much more ad- vantageous fituation, than Chirk-caftle^ ftand- ing on the banks of the Dee, and overlooking a great profufion of woody fcenery^ with Chirk-caftle as a principal obje6l.

  • The reader will remember, that this was written above 30

year's ago.

N 4 Thefe

( i84 )

Thefe were the laft places we vifited in Wales 5 and here we took a final leave of the Dee, after having had three or four very- agreeable interviews with it. We faw it firfl, in all it's glory, at Chefter ; where it intro- duces it's waters to the fea. We found it after- wards in the form of a pure, paftoral ftream, in the valley we had juft paft, to which it gives it's name. This idea however is loft at Llan- gollen, where it got among grander obje6ls, and took a more romantic caft. — It's vague Gourfe gives it all this variety. When it leaves the lake of Bala, it runs almoft due eaft about thirty miles, and then takes a fudden turn to tjie north; in which direclion it continues, till it arrive at Chefter. From thence it bends towards the weft in it's courfe to the fea ; fo that it forms a bow, to which a line drawn from the lake of Bala to Air-point would make the ftring. But tho when we faw it in the middle of June, it was every where a mild, and at loudeft, but a murmuring ftream, it is notwithftanding, in it's furious moods, un- commonly turbulent. Receiving vaft and fud- den

{ '85 )

den fupplies from the mountains, into a chan- nel naturally precipitate, it is immediately raifed ; and in it's impetuofity overturns every thing it meets. Very different is the chara6ler of the Conway. It too receives great and fud- den fupplies; but having a more horizontal channel, itpaffes quietly, and gently, through the country, in it's courfe to the fea.


{ iS; )


^7[7£ now entered Shropfhire by Ofweflry* from which town to Shrewfbury the country is fo flat, and fandy, that we fcarce met a fmgle obje6l to engage our attention.

The many marks of antiquity about Shrewf- bury give it a venerable appearance. It's litu- ation is fmgular. The Severn having per- formed a devious courfe through Montgomery- Ihire, and having now colle6led abundant fupplies, and fpme of them from rivers of name, enters Shropfhire with a full lliream. About the middle of the county it meets a rocky eminence, which it forms into a penin- fula. On the ifthmus rifes an eminence ftill higher. The former eminence was chofen for the fituation of a tow?i : the latter of- fered itfelf naturally for the fite of a cajlk. Which took the firll pofTeffion — - — which was the principal, and which the appendage, tra- dition

( IB8 )

dition leaves dubious. Both were admirably chofen. This was the origin of Shrewfbury j which received it's name from it's fituation* Shrewfbury is the corruption of an old Saxon word, which fignifies a buJJjy hill. In former times therefore, it is probable the caftle, and towers of Shrewfbury would appear to better effe6t rifmg from a woody hill, with the river circling beneath, than they dc now, when the hill is ungarnifhed : for as a town confifls necelTarily of many uniform parts, it appears to moft advantage, when fome of thofe parts are judicioufly fkreened.

Csfar's defcription of a town in Gaul, ex- a6lly fuits Shrewfbury. " Flumen, ut circino circumdu6lum, psena totum oppidum cingit." You enter Shrewfbury by one bridge, and leave it by another, over the fame river. The firfl is a grand, old flru6lure, with a noble gate ; the latter is modern. — The walls about tlie town are pleafant, and amufmg. Indeed they could hardly be otherwife in the neighbour- hood of fuch a river as the Severn.

On a plain, about three miles from the town, was fought that celebrated battle, between Henry IV. and Hotfpur, which the drama hath made more famous, than either hiftory,


( i89 )

or tradition. The mofi: noted a£lion of that day, was FalftafF's fighting a full hour by Shrewfbury-clock with Percy, after he had been killed. The fcene of this battle is ilill fhewn by the name of Battle-field.

From Shrewfbury to Wenlock, the country becomes more hilly. The Wrekin bore us company, on the left, through m'oft of the way. The appearance of this mountain is rather fmgular. It is of a round, uniform fhape, rifing in a country not indeed flat j but very little elevated.

The common toaft of this country, is a health round the Wrekin : and the infularity of the mountain at once turns the health into a wifh of univerfal benevolence. A health round 3nowdon would be confined. That mountain crannies out fo widely, and takes fo many longitudinal, and latitudinal excurfions, that it is hard to determine it's environs : and a perfon might be twenty miles from it's fum- mit, and yet his fituation in fome appendage of the mountain, might be fo ambiguous, as to leave it in doubt, whether he came properly within tlie fphere of the wifh. But a health


( 19^ )

round the Wrekin is fubjecl to no ambiguity. It is to be hoped only that the good people of Shropshire do not mean to confine their bene^ volent wifh to their own county.

Tho this mountain is a detached obje6l, it adds beauty to the fcene 3 at leaft in a country, which is barren of fcenery. It's furface was pleafantly tinged when we fav/ it, with a va- triey of hues, formed by pafturage, fallows, wood, and cultivation, all melted together, by diflance, into one rich mafs. As the year advanced, all thefe views would change, and form a new affemblage of colouring. The pafture would become burnt, the corn yellow j and the wood tinged with it's autumnal hue. It might be more beautiful under thefe circum- ftances ; or it might be more difcordant. No- thing is more tranfient, and uncertain, than the vegetable tints of nature.

It is recorded of the elder Charles, that the fide of a cultivated hill was an obje6l, at which he always exprelTed difguft. He would fay, it was like a beggar-woman's petticoat, patched with various clouts of yellow, green, and red. The obfervation is certainly juft^ and marks the royal obferver's tafte, which indeed was jiever queftioned. But it muil be fuppoftd,


( 191 )

t^e king fpoke of a hill only when it is feen too near the eye. At a proper diftance, when all this patchwork is blended together j when the harfh edges of difcordant hues difappear^ and all is harmonized into one uniform, tho varied furface, it may ftill be beautiful. Who- ever has obferved the operation of cleaning a painter's-pallet, may have an eafy illuftration of this difi:in6lion. When the colours are ranged in order, reds, greens, and blues, by the fide of each other, nothing can be more inharmonious. But after the day's duty, when the refufe is fcraped together into the colour- pot, you often fee, on blending the mafs toge- ther, the moft harmonious ti|its, reds, blues, and yellows, not perfe6lly mixed, but broken, pelting into each other, marbled, and con- trafted perhaps with fome dingy namelefs co- Jour, which is produced, in thofe parts where a perfe6l mixture of all the colours has taken place. The production of fuch an effe6l is like ftriking the cords of mufical inftruments : you have agreeable tones, but no compolition.

Befides thefe tints on the fides of mountains, which arife from natural hues, we often fee other tints arifmg from different modifications gf the airj and other caufes, perhaps un- known.

( 192 )

known. Thefe are local and uncommon. Among the mountains and lakes of Cumber- land and Weftmoreland, we had frequent op- portunities of obferving them.

With regard to the form of the Wrekin, in fome politions it appears almoft the regular fe6lion of a globe: but it generally takes a form more varied 3 and in fome views it is a continuous ridge. It's greateil extent ftretches along the Severn ; where, at it's foot, ftand the ruins of Bildwas-abbey. We did not fee them, as we v/ere informed they were heavy, and unpifturefque. But I fhould think they muft be very bad, if they cannot form a fcene ; with fuch a river in front ; and fuch a hill for a back-ground.

In the middle of the road we took notice of an oak of fmgular beauty, and dimenfions, known by the name of the Lady-oak. The road is widened around it, and it is left at full liberty to extend it's fhade, and flielter, to all travellers. A circumflance of this kind on a road, befides it's ufe, has fo beautiful an effe6l, that it is a pity we do not oftener find it.

The only remarkable piece of fcenery we met in our way to Wcnlock, was a lofty bank, known by the name of Wenlock-edge.


( 193 )

We faw it at a diftance, running like a long, black-ridge, covered with wood, athwart the country. As we approached, the road being every where hid with thickets, it appeared mat- ter of wonder, how a paflage could be contrived to afcend it, for it was plainly too continuous to evade. When we arrived on the fpot, we found a winding road cut through it. This work has been efFefted with great labour, and is fteep, as may be imagined ^ but not very incommodious. When we had attained the fummit, we had no defcent on the other fide j this long ridge being the flope only of one of thofe grand, natural terraces, by which one tra6l of country fometimes defcends into another.


{ 195 )


AT Wenlock we were entertained with the ^ ruins of an abbey. The fcenery around it is lefs inviting, than we commonly find in the fituation of thofe monaftic dwellings. It ftands, as abbeys often do, on the banks of a rivulet; but thefe banks have nothing very interelling about them. All their furniture is gone.

We found fault with Abbey-Crucis for being too much incumbered. The ruins of Wenlock-abbey offend from being too de^ tached. They are not only unadorned with fcenery ; but they iland naked, and flaring in three parts, v/ithout any connexion, either of wood, or" ruin, as if diftributed into three Jots, and expofed. to fale. In their prefent flate therefore we confider them only as findies : if they had been con?ie6led with each

Q 2. Other

( 196 )

Other by fragments of old walls : and conneBed with the ground by a few heaps of rubbifh ; and a little adorned with wood, we fhould have confidered them in a higher ftile, and looked at them as piBures.

But it may be faid, 2i x\\vs\ Jhould be d.tioX'^ttl — It is true : but we make a diftin6lion. It fliould be defolated by art; not by nature. Nature claims it as her own ; and all nature's produ6lions may flourifli around it. With trees particularly, uncut, and unmutilated, it may be adorned with great profufion, without injuring the idea of defolation.

It is merely however in a piBurefque light that I can call the ruins of Wenlock-abbey unconneBed. In an architeBural view^ they all belong to the great church of the monaftery, the plan of which may eafily be traced. Part of the fouth aifle, and it's end-windows are left J a fragment of the north aifle, and a frag- ment of the weft. At Abbey-Crucis we had a greater mafs of external ruins, but here is more of the infide work ; which is often very beautiful ; and in this ruin particularly, all of it being conftrufted in the pureft Gothic. There are a few other remains -, part of which are fuppofed to have been cloifterss but no- thing

C 197 )

thing of any conliderable extent, except thefe three fragments*

In the neighbourhood of Wenlock hap- pened, not many weeks before we were there, (May 1773,) a remarkable y7?/>, as it was called, on the banks of the Severn, between Cole- broke-dale, and Buildway-bridge, which great- ly alarmed the whole country. A piece of high ground, containing at leaft twenty acres, gave way ; and rufliing into the channel of the Severn, pufhed it forward ; leaving behind many horrid chafms, fome of them thirty feet wide* A houfe ftanding on the ground, was moved many yards from it's ftation 5 and the inhabitants had but juft time to efcape. In- deed they had been fwallovved up, if they had not fortunately fled in a right direftion. A turnpike road was removed -, and thrown up edge- ways J and the Severn, taking a new courfe, gave room for future litigation by this ftrange removal of property. Many thought this great convulfion was owing to an earth- quake, as it was accompanied with a noife; but it feems to have been more local, than earthquakes generally are,

o 3 From

( 198 )

From Wenlock to Bridgenorth the country is hilly and woody. The falling tower of Bridgnorth makes an odd appearance, as we approach it. We had heard much of the views from the caflle-hill. They confift of the windings of the Severn ; and the meadows along it's banks. But there is nothing re- markably beautiful in the objefts j and fome- thing very difagreeable in the compofition of them. — At the fiege of this caftle by Henry II. a fmgular piece of loyalty is recorded. Henry preffing the fiege with vigour, had advanced too near the walls. Hubert de St. Clare, dne of his generals, flood by his fidej and perceiving an archer from the tower taking aim at the king, who was confpicuous by a golden crown round his helmet, had jull time to interpofe between him, and fate: he received the arrow in his breaft, and dropped dead at the king's feet. — To en- deavour to refcue a friend in battle,, where the chance may be equal, is a flight effort, in com- parifon with this, where a certain blow is received, without any idea of felf-defence. — - The kingj as may be fupporei, was over-


( 199 )

whelmed with grief 5 and had no way left of (howing his gratitude, but by taking St. Clare's infant daughter under his protection — giving her a princely education ; and obtaining for her an honourable match.


( 201 )


N leaving Bridgenorth, we found the country wild, fandy, and heathy. A little above Pool-hall, we had a beautiful diftance, feen obliquely, of the windings of the Severn, which we eafily traced, tho the river itfelf was frequently concealed. The fame view appeared afterwards in front.

A little beyond the three-fhive ftone, we had another very pifturefque diftance on the right, over a woody bottom ; which likewife opened again, ftill more beautiful and extenfive, as we afcended the hill, before we reached the turnpike. Indeed the whole road is a noble terrace, affording views on every fide.

The church at Kidderminfter is a good ob--- je61:. From hence the road becomes clofe and woody. The views break out again towards Weftwood, the feat of fir Herbert Packington, where we had a good diftance. At this houfe


Mr. Addifon is fuppofed to have colle6led his materials, and drawn his inimitable portrait of fir Roger de Coverly.

Having pafled the fv^eet groves of Omber- fley, v^e got again into a flat country ; where the only diftance we faw, was now and then an interrupted view of the Malvern hills, on on the right.

Worcefter is one of the neatefl:, and moft beautiful towns in England. The whole place has an air of elegance. The town-houfe makes a good appearance, as we paiTed it j but the profufion of it's ornaments, I fear, would not bear a clofe infpeftion. The great church is a beautiful Gothic pile, and deferves more admi- ration than it generally finds. The tower is elegantly adorned. As a whole, it fliould have been loftier; but it was once probably only the fapport of a fpire, if a fpire was ever a Gothic ornament. All the other proportions of the church are pleaiing ; the pillars and or- naments are light and airy.

The good bifhop Hough's monument, by Rubiliac, is a mafi:erly work. The figure of the bifhop, clafping his hands, and looking


( 203 )

up, in a llirong aft of faith, deferves any praife. I have no idea of more in fculpture. An inanimated form, however fair, is a meagre effort of art ; compared with a figure, charac- terized like this. The lines of an elegant human body are highly beautiful j but ilill they affeft the eye only : when chara6ler, and expreilion are added, they affe6l the foul"^. The bifhop lies in his full epifcopal habit; and yet, (fuch is the exquifite touch of the mafter,) his m.arble robes fit as light, and eafy upon him, as his lawn ufed to do. If it were not a kind of Sutorian remark -j-, I ihould ob- ferve, that his heavy fhoe is the only part of his drefs, which is exceptionable. The figure of Religion is a good figure ; but very inferior to that of the bifhop ; and is befides iil- balanced.

The library is worth feeing. It is a circular room, about fixty feet in diameter, and was formerly the ch8T:)ter-houfe. The roof is fup- ported by a fingle pillar in the middle : but we fometimes fee better proportioned rooms of this kind adjoining to cathedrals.

  • See this obfervation carried farther in the Weftern tour, p. 21.

\ The Ilory of Apelles and the cobler is well known.


( 204 )

As we leave Worcefter we have a good re- trofpe6l of it from the hill about a mile beyond it : we then enter the flat country again.

A little fhort of Perjhore an extenlive view opens in front. One fcene rifes behind an- other; and Perfhore church appears beautiful among the woods. The whole is fet off by a very remote diftance.

From Perfhore we entered the vale of Ever- fham. The Abbofs-tower is a piece of un- rivalled architecture of it's kind. It was finifhed jufl before the difTolution took place ; and having efcaped all the injuries, and vio- lence of the fucceeding times, it flill exhibits a beautiful fpecimen of Gothic architeClure, in it's latefl period.


( 205 )


THHE vale of Everfliam is among the mod extenfive vales in England. It runs along the banks of the Avon from Tcwkfbury in Gloceflerfhire, to Stratford in Warwick- fhire. It is as rich alfo as it is extenfive. But it is rich in the farmer's eye, not in the painter's. I fcarce remember meeting a more unpi6lurefque tra6l of country. As it is called a vale, and by that circumftance reminds us of the vale of Cluydd, and other vales, vi^hich are confined by noble limits, and fpread with a varied furface, the difappointment v^^as the greater. The vale of Everfliam, in a pi6lurefque light, is little more, than an immenfe flat corn- field J and we faw nothing in it but uniform fl:reaks of growing corn of difl:erent colours, and running in different directions . When it becom.es a diftance at Broadway- hill, and all regularity is removed, it prefents the beauty of other extenfive fcenes of cultivation.


( 2C6 )

Having croffed the vale of Everfham, w^e rofe into a hilly country; but the hills are fmooth, and naked. The imagination by planting, may form them into beautiful fcenes : but unadorned, they are dreary. They abound however with fheep-walks ; and often entertain the eye with beautiful grbups.

As we approach Chapel-houfe, we have a good flat diflance. On the left, we pafs lord Shrewlbury's ; and foon after, a woody dip, on the right, accompanies us almoft to Wood- ftock. In fome places Blenheim -callle, partly concealed in woods, appearing over the trees, gives grandeur to the fcene.

As we leave Woodftock towards Oxford, the plain at Campsfield, and the diftance beyond it, are well balanced ; and fet off each other. The approach to Oxford, on this fide, is no way interefling *.

Between Oxford and Benfington we found little that v^as pleafmg. Beyond that town, the road is hilly, and interfperfed with copfes, which fometimes produce a good efFed,

  • See this country more defcribed in Obfervations on the lakes

of Cumberland, &c.

. As

( 207 )

As we leave Nettle-bed, the common, tlie woods btyond it, and the diftance beyond that, make a pleafing aflemblage. The road from thence winds agreeably among woody hills, as it did when we left Benfmgton.

The iirfl view of Henly, lying among fold- ing hills, is pi6lurefque ; and the approach to It, through a noble villa, along a valley near two miles in length, has, from it's regularity, the beauty at leaft of propriety to recommend it. The tower of the church fronts the viila ; and gives ftill farther intimation, that we are approaching a town. The back-ground is compofed of woody hills. A viila of this kind at the entrance of a town, is one of thofe conne6ling circumftances, which draws the eye gradually from one mode of objeft to another ; and prevents abruptnefs. The two objefts united here, are a town, and a country. A vifta partaking both of the regularity of the one \ and of the natural fimplicity of the other, is a good connefting link. Where obje6ls indeed are fmall, an introduftion is iinnecefTary. A houfe, tho a formal obje6lj if it be not fuperb, may ftand in the midfc of rural ideas. But when the eye is to dwell }ong on a large objedb, as on a town, or a


( 208 )

palace, a conne(5ling tye is natural. Indeed nature generally introduces a change of obje6ls in this gradual way j joining one country to another, with fgrne circumflances, which par- ticipate of both.

About the 29th ftone, the variety of open ground, copfes, and diftances on the right, are amuling.

Near the 2 2d ftone, the high trees at the end of the road, prefent a good group j but beauties of this kind fcarce deferve mentioning. Among all the beauties of nature, nothing is fo tranfient as a tree, which is liable to fo many accidents. A fcene therefore, which depends merely on a few trees, is not worth recording.

From hence we ftruck over Hounflow-heath to Kingilon, where we entered Surrey.

June 19th, 1773.


Strahan and Pretlon, Printeis-Stteet, London.












Printed by A. Strahan, Printers-Street,




As this little work is still thought worth the notice of the public, a new edition of it in large octavo hath been printed, with a set of new etchings, as the old plates were too much worn to be of farther use. — A small edition hath also been printed, as a more portable companion to those who wish to take it with them, in their travels through Wales.

A 2




IHE very favourable manner in which you spoke of some observations I shewed you in MS.

several years ago, on the lakes and mountains of the northern parts of England*, induced many of my friends at diflferent times to de- sire the publication of them. But as they are illustrated by a great variety of drawings, the hazard and expence had rather a formid- able appearance. A subscription was men- tioned to me, and the late duchess dowager of Portland, with her usual generosity, sent me a hundred pounds as a subscription from herself: but I could not accept her grace's

  • See Gray's Memoirs, p. 377.


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kindness, as I was still afraid of an engagement with the public.

You advised me to make an essay in a smaller work of the same kind, which might enable me the better to ascertain the expences of a larger. — I have followed your advice, and have chosen the following little piece for that purpose, which was the first of the kind I ever amused myself with ; and as it is very unim- portant in itself, you will excuse my endea- vouring to give it some little credit by the following anecdote.

In the same year in which this journey was made, your late valuable friend Mr. Gray *

  • Mr. Gray's account of this tour is contained in a letter,

dated the 24th of May 1771.

" My last summer's tour was through Worcestershire, " Glocestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and Shrop- " shire, five of the most beautiful counties in the kingdom.

  • ' The very principal light, and capital feature of my journey

" was the river Wye, which I descended in a boat for near " forty miles from Ross to Chepstow. Its banks are a suc- " cession of nameless beauties. One out of many you may " see not ill-described by Mr. Whately, in his observations

  • ' on gardening, under the name of the New-Weir. He has


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made it likewise, and hearing that I had put on paper a few remarks on the scenes which he had so lately visited, he desired a sight of them. They were then only in a rude state : but the handsome things he said of them to a friend * of his, who obligingly repeated them to me, gave them some little degree of credit in my own opinion, and made me some- what less apprehensive in risking them before the public.

If this little work afforded any amusement to Mr. Gray, it was the amusement of a very late period of his life. He saw it in London about the beginning of June 1771, and he

"also touched on two others, Tintern- Abbey and Persfield, " both of them famous scenes, and both on the Wye. Mon- " mouth, a town I never heard mentioned, Hes on the same " river In a vale that is the delight of my eyes, and the very " seat of pleasure. The vale of Abergavenny, Ragland,

  • ' and Chepstow-castles, Ludlow, Malvern-hills, &c. were

" the rest of my acquisitions, and no bad harvest in my opi- " nion : but I made no Journal myself, else you should have " had it. I have indeed a short one, written by the com- " panion of ray travels, Mr. Nicholls, that serves to recal " and fix the fleeting images of these things."

  • William Fraser, Esq. under-secretary of state.


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died, you know, at the end of the July fol- lowing.

Had he lived, it is possible, he might have been induced to have assisted me with a few of his own remarks on scenes which he had so accurately examined. The slightest touches of such a master would have had their effect ; no man was a greater admirer of nature than Mr. Gray, nor admired it with better taste.

I can only however offer this little work to the public as a hasty sketch. A country should be seen often to be seen correctly ; it should be seen also in various seasons ; dif- ferent circumstances make such changes in the same landscape, as give it wholly a new aspect. But these scenes are marked just as they struck the eye at first ; I had no oppor- , tunity to repeat the view.

For the drawings I must apologise in the same manner. They were hastily sketched, and under many disadvantages ; and pretend at best to give only a general idea of a place or scene;, without entering into the details of portrait.

I do

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I do not myself thoroughl}^ understand the process of working in aqua-tinta ; but the great inconvenience of it seems to arise from its not being sufficiently under the artist's command. It is not always able to give that just gradation of light and shade, which he desires. Harsh edges will sometimes appear. It is however a very beautiful mode of multi- plying drawings ; and certainly comes nearer than any other to the softness of the pencil. It may indeed literally be called drawing ; as it washes in the shades. The only differ- ence is, that it is a more unmanageable process to wash the shades upon copper with aqua- fortis, than upon paper with a brush. If how- ever the aqua-tinta method of multiplying drawings hath some inconveniences, it is no more than every other mode of working on copper is subject to — engraving, particularly, is always accompanied with a degree of stiff- ness.

For myself, I am most pleased with the free, rough style of etching landscape with a needle, after the manner of Rembrandt, in which much is left to the imagination to make out. But this would not satisfy the public; nor indeed any one, whose imagination is

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not so conversant with the scenes of nature, as to make out a landscape from a hint. — This rough work hath, at] least, the advantage of biting the copper more strongly, and giving a greater number of good impressions.

Believe me to be, dear sir, with great regard and esteem,

Your very sincere, And affectionate


November 20, 1782.


SECTION I. page 1.

vTeneral Purposes of travelling — end proposed in this tour — Lord Cadogan's — Wallingford-road — Shiliingford — Witney — Burford — picture of the More family — view at Barrington — Northleach — vale of Severn — Glocester — Ross.

SECT. II. p. 17.

The Wye— sources of its beauty — and general ornaments.

SECT. III. p. 27.

Remarks on weather as it affects landscape — first part of the river from Ross — Goodrich-castle — remarks on natural" composition — Rure-dean church — Stone-quarries and Bi- shop's wood — remarks on Mannerists — Lidbroke — Welch- Bicknor — Cold-well — White-church — New- Weir — coricle — Monmouth.

SECT. IV. p. 45.

Saint Breval's — how pasturage affects landscape — ^Tintern- abbey — iron works.

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SECT. V. p. 57.

Persfield— Chepstow — country between Chepstow and Mon- mouth.

SECT. VI. p. 67.

Journey to the sources of the Wye, and through the mid- land counties of Wales.

SECT. VII. p. 89.

Ragland -castle — Brecknoc hills — Abergavenny — vale of Usk — Tretower-castle — Brecknoc — its castle and abbey — country between Brecknoc and Trecastle — remarks on white objects — Llandovery.

SECT. VIII. p. 101.

Llandilo — vale of Towy — poem of Grongar-hill criticised — Dinevawr-castle — observations on varied surfaces — Merlin's cave — distant view of the vale of Towy.


Country after we leave Llandilo — Black-mountain — effects of a storm — scenery beyond the Black-mountain — view of Neath.

SECT. X. p. 119. Vista of mountains — copper works- — Margam sand-bank — river Abravon — Lord Mansell's woods — Pyle — remarks on painting a crowd.

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SECT. XI. p. 127.

Bridgend — Cowbridge — distant view of the Bristol channel • — heights of Clanditham — remarks on distant views — Cardiff — Newport — approach to the ferry — passage — distant view of the Welsh coast.

SECT. XII. p. 141.

Road to Bristol — remarks on strong tinting — Bristol— hot- wells — country between Bristol and Bath — Bath — Chippen- ham — Marlborough — Marlborough 'downs — road to New- berry — Donnington-castle— remarks on painting imaginary objects.






ON the left of the river stood a lofty rock, as if hewn from the quarry, hanging over the precipice, haunted by birds of prey.


PerhapV you may introduce some trifling plant : but does this compensate for want of unity and simplicity in a whole ?


Every man is at liberty to fill his glass to the height he chooses.


Glasses unequally filled.


Countries which have never known the plough are my delight — wild woods and rivers wandering through artless vales.


At first, when the vessel pushing from the shore, ap- peared surrounded by water, all was terror. The trembling animals urging each other on both sides from it, occasioned at first some confusion ; but


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their fears subsiding gradually from the familiarity of the object^ tranquillity took place.

151. A scene of wild brushwood.

151 . Even then the awful genius of the place held the trem- bling rustic in awe. Even then he entered those gloomy woods, with superstitious fear. Some God, no doubt, (though what God is uncertain,) inhabits those sacred groves. The Arcadians often think they see Jove himself, flashing lightning from the clouds, when the louring storm comes forward over the lofty woods.






WE travel for various purposes — to ex- plore the culture of soils, to view the curiosities of art, to survey the beauties of nature, and to learn the manners of men, their different politics and modes of life.

The following little work proposes a new object of pursuit; that of examining the face of a country by the rules of picturesque beauty ; opening the sources of those pleasures which are derived from the comparison.

Observations of this kind, through the

vehicle of description, have the better chance

of being founded in truth, as they are not the

B offspring

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offspring of theory, but are taken immediately from the scenes of nature as they arise.

Crossing Hounslow-heath from Kingston in Surry, we struck into the Reading road ; and turned a little aside to see the approach to Caversham-house, which winds about a mile along a valley through the park. This was the work of Brown, whose great merit lay in pursuing the path which nature had marked out. Nothing can be easier than the sweep, better united than the ground, or more ornamental than several of the clumps ; but many of the single trees, which are beeches, are heavy, and offend the eye. Almost any ordinary tree may contribute to form a group. Its deformities are lost in a crowd ; nay, even the deformities of one tree may be corrected by the deformities of another. But few trees have those characters of beauty which will enable them to appear- with advantage as individuals.*

  • This approach to Caversham-house, I have been in-

formed, is now much injured.


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From lord Cadogan's we took the Walling- ford-road to Oxford. It affords some va- riety, running along the declivity of a range of hills ; and overlooking one of the vallies of the Thames. But these scenes afford no- thing very interesting. The Thames appears; but only in short reaches. It rarely exceeds the dimensions of a pool ; and does not once, as I remember, exhibit those ample sweeps, in which the beauty of a river so much con- sists. The woods too are frequent ; but they are formal copses : and white spots, bursting everywhere from a chalky soil, disturb the eye.

From Wallingford to Oxford, we did not observe one good view, except at Shilling- ford : where the bridge, the river, and its woody banks exhibit some scenery.

From Oxford we proposed to take the nearest road to Ross. As far as Witney, the country appears flat ; though in fact it rises. About the eleventh stone the high grounds Command a noble semicircular distance on the B 2 lefti

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left ; and near Burford there are views of the same kind on the right ; but not so extensive. None of these landscapes however are per- fect, as they want the accompaniments of foregrounds.

At Mr. Lenthal's, in Burford, we admired a capital picture of the family of the Mores, which is said to be Holbein's ; and appeared to us entirely in that master's stile. But Mr. Walpole thinks it not an original ; and says he found a date upon it subsequent to the death of that master. It is however a good picture of its kind. It contains eleven figures — Sir Thomas More, and his father ; two young ladies, and other branches of the family. The heads are as expressive, as the composition is formal. The judge is marked with the character of a dry, facetious, sensible, old man. The chancellor is handed down to us in history, both as a cheerful philosopher, and as a severe inquisitor. His countenance here has much of that eagerness and stern attention which remind us of the latter. The subject of this piece seems to be a dispute between the two young ladies ; and


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alludes probably to some well-known family- story.

Indeed every family-picture should be founded on some little story or domestic incident, which, in a degree, should engage the attention of all the figures. It would be invidious perhaps to tax Vandyck on this head ; otherwise I could mention some of his family-pictures, which, if the sweetness of his colouring and the elegant simplicity of his airs and attitudes did not screen his faults, would appear only like so many distinct portraits stuck together on the same canvas. It would be equally invidious to omit mentioning a modern master, now at the head of his profession*, whose great fertility of invention in employing the figures of his family-pictures, is not among the least of his many excellences.

The country from Biirford is high, and downy. A valley, on the right, kept pace with us ; through which flows the Windrush ; not indeed an object of sight, but easily traced

  • Sir Joshua Reynolds.


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along the meadows by pollard-willows, and a more luxuriant vegetation.

At Barrington we had a pleasant view, through an opening on the foreground.

About North-leach the road grows very disagreeable. Nothing appears but downs on each side ; and these often divided by stone-w^alls, the most offensive separation of property.

From the neighbourhood of London we had now pursued our journey through a tract of country almost uniformly rising, though by imperceptible degrees, into the heart of Glocestershire ; till at length we found our- selves on the ridge of Coteswold.

The county of Glocester is divided into three capital parts; the Wolds, or high downy grounds towards the east, the vale of Severn in the middle, and the forest of Dean towards the west. The first of these tracts of country we had been traversing from our


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entrance into Glocestershire ; and the ridge we now stood on made the extremity of it. Here the heights which we had been ascend- ing by imperceptible degrees, at length broke down abruptly into the lower grounds ; and a vast stretch of distant country appeared at once before the eye.

I know not that I was ever more struck with the singularity and grandeur of any landscape. Nature generally brings several countries together in some easy mode of connection. If she raise the grounds on one side by a long ascent, she commonly unites them with the country on the other in the same easy manner. Such scenes we view without wcmder or emotion. We glide without observation from the near grounds into the more distant. All is gradual and easy. But when nature works in the bold and singular stile of composition in which she works here ; when she raises a country through a progress of a hundred miles, and then breaks it down at once by an abrupt precipice into an expansive vale, we are immediately struck with the novelty and grandeur of the scene.


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It was the vale of Severn which was spread before us. Perhaps nowhere in England a distance so rich, and at the same time so ex- tensive, can be found. We had a view of it almost from one end to the other, as it wound through the space of many leagues in a di- rection nearly from west to north. The eye was lost in the profusion of objects which were thrown at once before it, and ran wild over the vast expanse with rapture and asto- nishment, before it could compose itself enough to make any coherent observations. — At length we began to examine the detail, and to separate the vast immensity before us into parts.

To the north, we looked up the vale along the course of the Severn. The town of Chel- tenham lay beneath our feet, then at the dis- tance of two or three miles. The vale appeared afterwards confined between Bredon hills on the right, and those of Malvern on the left. Ri^ht between these in the middle of t?ie vale, lay Tewksbury, bosomed in wood : the great church, even at this distance, made a respectable appearance. A little to the right, but in distance very remote, we might see


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the towers of Worcester, if the day were clear ; especially if some accidental gleam of light relieved them from the hills of Shrop- shire, which close the scene.

To the west, we looked toward Glocester. And here it is remarkable, that as the objects in the northern part of the vale are confined by the hills of Malvern and Bredon ; so in this view the vale is confined by two other hills, which, though inconsiderable in them- selves, give a character to the scene ; and the more so as^ they are both insulated. One of these hills is known by the name of Robin's-w^ood ; the other by that of Church- down, from the singularity of a church seated on its eminence. Between these hills the great object of the vale is the city of Glo- cester, which appeared rising over rich woody scenes. Beyond Glocester the eye still pur- sued the vale into remote distance, till it united with a range of mountains.

Still more to the west, arose a distant forest- view, composed of the woods of the country uniting with the forest of Dean. Of this view the principal feature is the mouth of the Severn, where it first begins to assume a cha- racter of grandeur by mixing with the ocean.


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We see only a small portion of it streching in an acute angle over a range of wood. But an eye, used to perspective, seeing such a body of water, small as it appears, wearing any determined form at such a distance, gives it credit for its full magnitude. The Welch mountains also, which rise beyond the Severn, contributed to raise the idea ; for by forming an even horizontal line along the edge of the water, they gave it the appearance of what it really is, an arm of the sea.

Having thus taken a view of the vast expanse of the vale of Severn from the extre- mity of the descent of Coteswold, w^e had leisure next to examine the grandeur of the descent itself; which forms a foreground not less admirable than the distance. The lofty ridge on which we stood is of great extent ; stretching beyond the bounds of Glocester- shire, both towards the north and towards the south. It is not everywhere, we may suppose, of equal beauty, height, and abrupt- ness: but fine passages of landscape, I have been told, abound in every part of it. The spot where we took this view over the vale


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of Severn, is the high ground on Crickiey^ hill ; which is a promontory standing out in the vale between the villages of Leckhamp- ton and Birdlip. Here the descent consists of various rocky knolls, prominences, and abruptnesses ; among which a variety of roads wind down the steep towards different parts of the vale ; and each of these roads, through its whole varying progress, exhibits some beautiful view ; discovering the vale, either in whole or in part, with every advantage of a picturesque foreground.

Many of these precipices also are finely wooded. Some of the largest trees in the kingdom, perhaps, are to be seen in these parts. The Cheltenham oak, and an elm not far from it, are trees, which curious travellers always inquire after.

Many of these hills, which inclose the vale of Severn on this side, furnish landscapes themselves, without borrowing assistance from the vale. The woody vallies, which run winding among them, present many pleasing pastoral scenes. The cloathing country about Stroud, is particularly diversified in this way : though many of these vallies are greatly in- jured in a picturesque light, by introducing


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scenes of habitation and industry. A cottage, a mill, or a hamlet among trees, may often add beauty to a rural scene : but when houses are scattered through every part, the moral sense can never make a convert of the pic- turesque eye. Stroud-water valley especially, which is one of the most beautiful of these scenes, has been deformed lately not only by a number of buildings, but by a canal cut through the middle of it.

Among the curiosities of these high grounds, is the seven-well-head of the Thames. In a glen near the road, a few limpid springs, gushing from a rock, give origin to this noblest of English rivers; though I suppose several little streams in that district might claim the honour with equal justice, if they could bring over the public opinion.

Nothing can give a stronger idea of the nature of the t^ountry I have been describing, than this circumstance of its giving rise to the Thames. On one side, within half a dozen miles below the precipice, the Severn has arrived at so much consequence, as to take its level from the tides of the ocean ; on the other, the Thames arising at our feet,


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does not arrive at that dignity, till it have performed a coarse of two hundred and fifty miles.

Having descended the heights of Crickley, the road through the vale continues so level to Glocester, that we scarcely saw the town till we entered it.

The cathedral is of elegant Gothic on the outside, but of heavy Saxon within ; that is, these different modes of architecture prevail most in these different parts of the building : for in fact, the cathedral of Glocester is a compound of all the several modes which have prevailed from the days of Henry the second to those of Henry the seventh, and may be said to include, in one part or other, the whole history of sacred architecture during that period. Many parts of it have been built in the times of the purest Gothic ; and others, which have been originally Saxon, appear plainly to have been altered into the Gothic ; which was no uncommon practice. A Grecian screen is injudiciously introduced to separate the choir. The cloisters are light and airy.

, As

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As we leave the gates of Glocester, the view is pleasing. A long stretch of meadow, filled with cattle, spreads into a foreground. Beyond, is a screen of wood, terminated by distant mountains ; among which Malvern- hills make a respectable appearance. The road to Ross leads through a country, woodv, rough, hilly, and picturesque.

Ross stands high, and commands many distant views; but that from the church- yard is the most admired, and is indeed very amusing. It consists of an easy sweep of the Wye, and of an extensive country beyond it. But it is not picturesque. It is marked by no characteristic objects : it is broken into too many parts ; and it is seen from too high a point. The spire of the church, which is the man of Ross's heaven-directed spire, tapers beautifully. The inn, which was the house he lived in, is known by the name of the man of Moss's house.


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At Ross we planned our voyage down the Wye to Monmouth ; and provided a covered boat, navigated by three men. Less strength would have carried us down ; but the labour is in rowing back.


Ihe Wye takes its rise near the summit of Plinlimmon, and, dividing the counties of Radnor and Brecnoc, passes through the middle of Herefordshire : it then be- comes a second boundary between Mon- mouthshire and Gloucestershire, and falls into the Severn a little below Chepstow. To this place from Ross, which is a course of near forty miles, it flows in a gentle, unin- terrupted stream ; and adorns, through its various reaches, a succession of the most picturesque scenes.

The beauty of these scenes arises chiefly from two circumstances ; the lofty hanks of the river, and its mazy course: both which are accurately observed by the poet, when he describes the Wye as echoing through its winding bounds*. It could not well echo,

  • Pleas'd Vaga echoes thro' its winding bounds,

And rapid Severn hoarse applause resounds.

Pope's Eth. Ep. c unless

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unless its banks were both lofty and wind- ing.

From these two circumstances, the views it exhibits are of the most beautiful kind of perspective, free from the formality of lines.

The most perfect river-views, thus cir- cumstanced, are composed of four grand parts : the area, which is the river itself; the two side-screens, which are the opposite banks, and lead the perspective ; and the front- screen^ which points out the winding of the j"iver.

If the Wye ran, like a Dutch canal, be- tween parallel banks, there could be no front- screen : the two side screens, in that situation, would lengthen to a point.

If a road were under the circumstance of a river winding like the Wye, the effect would be the same. But this is rarely the case. The road pursues the irregularity of the country. It climbs the hill, and sinks into the valley ; and this irregularity gives each view it exhibits a different character.


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The views on the Wye, though composed only of these simple parts, are yet exceedingly varied.

They are varied, first, by the contrast of the screens : sometimes one of the side-screens is elevated, sometimes the other, and some- times the front; or both the side-screens may be lofty, and the front either high or low.

Again, they are varied by the folding of the side-screens over each other ; and hiding more or less of the front. When none of the front is discovered, the folding side either winds round, like an * amphitheatre, or it becomes a long reach of perspective.

These simple variations admit still farther variety from becoming complex. One of the sides may be compounded of various parts, while the other remains simple ; or both may be compounded, and the front simple ; or the front alone may be compounded.

  • The word amphitheatre, strictly speaking, is a complete

inclosure ; but, I believe, it is commonly accepted, as here, for any circular piece of architecture, though it do not wind entirely round.

c 2 Beside

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Besides these sources of variety, there are other circumstances, which, under the name of ornaments, still farther increase them. Plain banks will admit all the variations we have yet mentioned ; but when this plain- ness is adorned, a thousand other varieties arise.

The ornaments of the Wye may be ranged under four heads : ground, wood, rocks, and buildings.

The ground, of which the banks of the Wye consist, (and which have thus far been considered only in its general effect,) affords every variety which ground is capable of receiving ; from the steepest precipice to the flattest meadow. This variety appears in the line formed by the summits of the banks ; in the swellings and excavations of their de- clivities ; and in their indentations at the bottom, as they unite with the water.

In many places also the ground is broken ; which adds new sources of variety. By broken ground, we mean only such ground as


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hath lost its turf, and discovers the naked soil. We often see a gravelly earth shivering from the hills, in the form of water-falls : often dry, stony channels, guttering down preci- pices, the rough beds of temporary torrents ; and sometimes so trifling a cause as the rubbing of sheep against the sides of little banks or hillocs, will occasion very beautiful breaks.

The colour too of the broken soil is a great source of variety ; the yellow or the red oker, the ashy grey, the black earth, or the marly blue : and the intermixtures of these with each other, and with patches of verdure, blooming heath, and other vegetable tints, still increase that variety.

Nor let the fastidious reader think these remarks descend too much in detail. Were an extensive distance described, a forest- scene, a sea-coast view, a vast semicircular range of mountains, or some other grand display of nature, it would be trifling to mark these minute circumstances. But here the hills around exhibit little except fore- grounds ; and it is necessary, where we have no distances, to be more exact in finishing objects at hand.


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The next great ornament on the banks of the Wye are its woods. In this country are many works carried on by fire ; and the woods being maintained for their use, are periodically cut down. As the larger trees are generally left, a kind of alternacy takes place : what is this year a thicket, may the next be an open grove. The woods them- selves possess little beauty, and less grandeur ; yet, as we consider them merely as the orna- mental parts of a scene, the eye will not examine them with exactness, but compound for a general effect.

One circumstance attending this alternacy is pleasing. Many of the furnaces on the banks of the river consume charcoal, which is manufactured on the spot ; and the smoke issuing from the sides of the hills, and spread- ing its thin veil over a part of them, beauti- fully breaks their lines, and unites them with the sky.

The chief deficiency, in point of wood, is of large trees on the edge of the water; which, clumped here and there, would di- versify the hills as the eye passes them ; and


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remove that heaviness which always, in some degree, (though here as little as anywhere,) arises from the continuity of ground. They would also give a degree of distance to the more removed parts ; which in a scene like this, would be attended with peculiar advan- tage : for as we have here so little distance, we wish to make the most of what we have. — But trees immediately on the foreground cannot be suffered in these scenes, as they would obstruct the navigation of the river.

The rocks^ which are continually starting through the woods, produce another ornament on the banks of the Wye. The rock, as all other objects, though more than all, receives its chief beauty from contrast. Some objects are beautiful in themselves. The eye is pleased with the tuftings of a tree : it is amused with pursuing the eddying stream ; or it rests with delight on the broken arches of a Gothic ruin. Such objects, independent of composition, are beautiful in themselves. But the rock, bleak, naked, and unadorned, seems scarcely to deserve a place among them. Tint it with mosses and lychens of various


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hues, and you give it a degree of beauty. Adorn it with shrubs and hanging herbage, and you make it still more picturesque. Connect it with wood, and water, and broken ground, and you make it in the highest degree interesting. Its colour and its form are so accommodating, that it generally blends into one of the most beautiful appendages of landscape.

Different kind of rocks have different de- grees of beauty. Those on the Wye, which are of a greyish colour, are in general simple and grand ; rarely formal or fantastic. Some- times they project in those beautiful square masses, yet broken and shattered in every line, which is characteristic of the most ma- jestic species of rock. Sometimes they slant obliquely from the eye in shelving diagonal strata : and sometimes they appear in large masses of smooth stone, detached from each other, and half buried in the soil. Rocks of this last kind are the most lumpish, and the least picturesque.

The various buildings which arise every- where on the banks of the Wye, form the


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last of its ornaments : abbeys, castles, villages spires, forges, mills, and bridges. One or other of these venerable vestiges of past, or cheerful habitations of present times, charac- terize almost every scene.

These works of art are, however, of much gvesiter use in artificial than in natur^allant}- scape. In pursuing the beauties of nature, we range at large among forests, lakes, rocks, and mountains. The various scenes we meet with, furnish an inexhausted source of plea- sure : and though the works of art may often give animation and contrast to these scenes, yet still they are not necessary ; we can be amused without them. But when we intro- duce a scene on canvass ; when the eye is to be confined within the frame of a picture, and can no longer range among the varieties of nature, the aids of art become more im- portant ; and we want the castle or the abbey, to give consequence to the scene. Indeed the landscape-painter seldom thinks his view perfect without characterizing it by some ob- ject of this kind.


JlIaving thus analyzed the Wye, and con- sidered separately its constituent parts ; the steepness of its banks, its mazi/ course, the grounds, woods and rocks, which are its na- tive ornaments ; and the buildings, which still further adorn its natural beauties ; we shall now take a view of some of those pleasing scenes which result from the com- bination of all these picturesque materials.

I must, however, premise how ill-qualified I am to do justice tQ the banks of the Wye, were it only from having seen them under the circumstance of a continued rain, which began early in the day, before one third of our voyage was performed.

It is true, scenery at hand suffers less under such a circumstance, than scenery at a dis- tance, which it totally obscures.


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The picturesque eye also, in quest of beauty, finds it almost in every incident and under every appearance of nature. Even the rain gave a gloomy grandeur to many of the scenes ; and by throwing a veil of obscurity over the removed banks of the river, intro- duced, now and then, something like a pleasing distance. Yet still it hid greater beauties ; and we could not help regretting the loss of those broad lights and deep sha- dows which would have given so much lustre to the whole, and which ground like this is in a peculiar manner adapted to receive.

The first part of the river from Ross is tame. The banks are low ; and scarcely an object attracts the eye, except the ruins of Wilton-castle, which appear on the left, shrouded with a few trees. But the scene wants accompaniments to give it grandeur.

The bank, however, soon began to swell on the right, and was richly adorned with wood. We admired it much ; and also the


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vivid images reflected from the water, which were continually disturbed as we sailed past them, and thrown into tremulous con- fusion by the dashing of our oars. A disturbed surface of water endeavouring to collect its scattered images and restore thfem to order, is among the pretty appearances of nature.

We met with nothing for some time du- ring our voyage but these grand woody banks, one rising behind another; appearing and vanishing by turns, as we doubled the several capes. But though no particular objects characterized these different scenes, yet they afforded great variety of pleasing views, both as we wound round the several promontories, w^hich discovered new beauties as each scene opened, and when we kept the same scene a longer time in view, stretch- ing along some lengthened reach, where the river is formed into an irregular vista by hills shooting out beyond each other, and going off in perspective.


r 30 ;

The channel of no river can be more de- cisively marked than that of the Wye. Who hath divided a water-course for the flowing of rivers'^, saith the Almighty in that grand apostrophe to Job on the works of creation. The idea is happily illustrated here. A nobler water-course was never divided for any river than this of the Wye. Rivers, in general, pursue a devious course along the countries through which they flow ; and form channels for themselves by constant fluxion. But sometimes, as in these scenes, we see a channel marked with such precision, that it appears as if originally intended only for the bed of a river.

After sailing four miles from Ross, we came to Goodrich-castle ; where a grand view presented itself; and we rested on our oars to examine it. A reach of the river, form- ing a noble bay, is spread before the eye. The bank, on the right, is steep, and covered with wood ; beyond which a bold promon- tory shoots out, crowned with a castle, rising among trees.


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This view, which is one of the grandest on the river, I should not scruple to call correctly picturesque ; which is seldom the cha- racter of a purely natural scene.

Nature is always great in design. She is an admirable colourist also ; and harmonizes tints with infinite variety and beauty : but she is seldom so correct in composition, as to produce an harmonious whole. Either the foreground or the background is dispropor- tioned ; or some awkward line runs across the piece ; or a tree is ill-placed ; or a bank is formal ; or something or other is not ex- actly what it should be. The case is, the immensity of nature is beyond human com- prehension. She works on a vast scale; and, no doubt harmoniously, if her schemes could be comprehended. The artist, in the mean time, is confined to a span ; and lays down his little rules, which he calls the principles of picturesque beauty^ merely to adapt such diminutive parts of nature's surfaces to his own eye as come within its scope. — Hence, therefore, the painter who adheres strictly to the composition of nature, will rarely make a good picture. His picture must contain a whole ; his archetype is but a part. In


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general, however, he may obtain views of such parts of nature, as with the addition of a few trees or a little alteration in the foreground, (which is a liberty that must always be allowed,) may be adapted to his rules ; though he is rarely so fortunate as to find a landscape so completely satisfactory to him. In the scenery indeed at Goodrich- castle the parts are few ; and the whole is a simple exhibition. The complex scenes of nature are generally those which the artist finds most refractory to his rules of com- position.

In following the course of the Wye, which makes here one of its boldest sweeps, we were carried almost round the castle, survey- ing it in a variety of forms. Some of these retrospects are good ; but, in general, the castle loses, on this side, both its own dignity and the dignity of its situation.

The views from the castle were mentioned to us as worth examining ; but the rain was now set in, and would not permit us to land.


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As we leave Goodrich-castle, the banks on the left, which had hitherto contributed less o entertain us, began now principally to attract our attention, rearing themselves gra- dually into grand steeps ; sometimes covered with thick woods, and sometimes forming vast concave slopes of mere verdure ; un- adorned, except here and there, by a strag- gling tree ; while the sheep which hang browzing upon them, seen from the bottom, were diminished into white specks.

The view at Rure-dean-church unfolds it- self next ; which is a scene of great grandeur. Here both sides of the river are steep, and both woody; but in one the woods are in- termixed with rocks. The deep umbrage of the forest of Dean occupies the front; and the spire of the church rises among the trees. The reach of the river which exhibits this scene is long; and, of course, the view, which is a noble piece of natural perspective, continues some time before the eye : but

o when

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when the spire comes directly in front, the grandeur of the landscape is gone.

The stone-quarries on the right, from which Bristol-bridge was built, and on the left the furnaces of Bishop' s-wood^ vary the scene ; though they are objects of no great import- ance in themselves.

For some time both sides of the river con- tinue steep and beautiful. No particular circumstance indeed characterizes either : but in such exhibitions as these nature character- izes her own scenes. We admire the infinite variety with which she shapes and adorns these vast concave and convex forms. We admire also that varied touch with which she expresses every object.

Here we see one great distinction between her painting and that of all her copyists. Artists universally are mannerists in a certain degree. Each has his particular mode of


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forming particular objects. His rocks, his trees, his figures, are cast in one mould ; at least they possess only a varied sameness. The figures of Rubens are all full-fed ; those of Salvator spare and long-legged : but nature has a different mould for every object she presents.

The artist again discovers as little variety in filling up the surfaces of bodies, as he does in delineating their forms. You see the same touch, or something like it, universally pre- vail ; though applied to different subjects. But nature's touch is as much varied as the form of her objects.

In every part of painting except execution, an artist may be assisted by the labours of those who have gone before him. He may improve his skill in composition, in light and shade, in perspective, in grace and elegance ; that is, in all the scientific parts of his art. But with regard to execution, he must set up on his own stock. A mannerist, I fear, he must be. If he get a manner of his own, he may be an agreeable mannerist ; but if he copy another's, he will certainly be a formal one. The more closely he copies the detail D 2 of

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of nature, the better chance he has of being free from this general defect.

At Lidhroke is a large wharf, where coals are shipped for Hereford and other places. Here the scene is new and pleasing. All has thus far been grandeur and tranquillity. It continues so yet ; but mixed with life and bustle. A road runs diagonally along the bank ; and horses and carts appear passing to the small vessels which lie against the wharf to receive their burdens. Close behind a rich woody hill hangs sloping over the wharf, and forms a grand back-ground to the whole. The contrast of all this business, the engines used in lading and unlading, together with the variety of the scene, produce all together a picturesque assemblage. The sloping hill is the front-screen ; the two side-screens are low.

But soon the front becomes a lofty side- screen on the left; and sweeping round the eye at Welsk-Bickner, forms a noble amphi- theatre.


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At Cold-well the front-screen first appears as a woody hill, swelling to a point. In a few minutes, it changes its shape, and the woody hill becomes a lofty side-screen on the right ; while the front unfolds itself into a majestic piece of rock-scenery.

Here we should have gone on shore and walked to the New-Weir, which by land is only a mile ; though, by water, I believe, it is three. This walk would have afforded us, we were informed, some very noble river- views : nor should we have lost any thing by relinquishing the water, which in this part was uninteresting.

The whole of this information we should probably have found true, if the weather had permitted us to profit by it. The latter part of it was certainly well founded ; for the water-views in this part were very tame. We left the rocks and precipices behind, exchang- ing them for low banks and sedges.


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But the grand scenery soon returned. We approached it, however, gradually. The views at White-church were an introduction to it. Here we sailed through a long reach of hills, whose sloping sides were covered with large, lumpish, detached stones ; which seemed, in a course of years, to have rolled from a girdle of rocks that surrounds the upper regions of these high grounds on both sides of the river ; but particularly on the left.

From these rocks we soon approached the New-Weir, which may be called the second grand scene on the Wye.

The river is wider than usual in this part ; and takes a sweep round a towering promon- tory of rock; which forms the side-screen on the left, and is the grand feature of the view. It is not a broad fractured face of rock; but rather a woody hill, from which large rocky projections, in two or three places, burst out ; rudely hung with twisting branches and shaggy furniture, which, like mane round the lion's head, give a more


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savage air to these wild exhibitions of nature. Near the top a pointed fragment of solitary rock, rising above the rest, has rather a fan- tastic appearance ; but it is not without its effect in marking the scene. — A great master in landscape has adorned an imaginary view with a circumstance exactly similar :

  • ' Stabat acuta silex, prsecisis undiq ; saxis,

" dorso insurgens, altissima visu,

" Dirarum nidis domus opportuna volucrura,

" prona jugo, Isevum incumbebat ad amnera."

iEn. VIII. 233.

But the most wonderful appearance of this kind I ever met with, is to be found in the 249th page of Mr. Anderson's Narrative of the British Embassy to China ; where he tells us, that in Tartary, beyond the wall, he saw a solitary rock of this kind, which rose from the summit of a mountain at least one hun- dred feet. Its base was somewhat smaller than its superstructure ; and, what was very extraordinary, several streams of water issued from it.

On the right side of the Wye, opposite the rock we have just described, the bank

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forms a woody amphitheatre, following the course of the stream round the promontory. Its lower skirts are adorned with a hamlet ; in the midst of which, volumes of thick smoke, thrown up at intervals from an iron forge, as its fires receive fresh fuel, add double grandeur to the scene.

But what peculiarly marks this view, is a circumstance on the water. The whole river at this place makes a precipitate fall; of no great height indeed, but enough to merit the name of a cascade ; though to the eye, above the stream, it is an object of no consequence. In all the scenes we had yet passed, the water, moving with a slow and solemn pace, the objects around kept time, as it were, with it ; and every steep and every rock which hung over the river, was awful, tranquil, and majestic. But here the violence of the stream and the roaring of the waters impressed a new character on the scene : all was agitation and uproar ; and every steep and every rock stared with wild- ness and terror.

A kind

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A kind of fishing-boat is used in this part of the river, which is curious. It is con- structed of waxed canvas stretched over a few slight ribs, and holds only a single man. It is called a coricle ; and is derived, probably, as its name imports, from that species of an- cient boat which was formed of leather.

An adventrous fellow, for a wager, once navigated a coricle as far as the isle of Lundy, at the mouth of the Bristol-channel. A full fortnight, or more, he spent in this dan- gerous voyage ; and it was happy for him that it was a fortnight of serene weather. Many a current and many an eddy ; many a flowing tide, and many an ebbing one, afforded him occasion to exert all his skill and dexterity. Sometimes his little bark was carried far to leeward, and sometimes as far to windward ; but still he recovered his course ; persevered in his undertaking ; and at length happily achieved it. When he returned to the New~Weir, report says, the account of his expedition was received like a voyage round the world.


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Below the New-Weir are other rocky views of the same kind, though less beauti- ful. But description flags in running over such a monotony of terms. High, low, steep, woody, rocky, and a few others, are all the colours of language we have to describe scenes in which there are infinite gradations, and, amidst some general sameness, infinite peculiarities.

After we had passed a few of these scenes, the hills gradually descend into Monmouth, which lies too low to make any appearance from the water; but on landing, we found it a pleasant town, and neatly built. The town-house and church are both hand- some.

The transmutations of time are often ludi- crous. Monmouth-castle was formerly the palace of a king, and birth-place of a mighty prince : it is now converted into a yard for fatting ducks.


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The sun had set before we arrived at Monmouth. Here we met our chaise ; but, on inquiry, finding a voyage more likely to produce amusement than a journey, we made a new agreement with our bargemen, and embarked again the next morning.


As we left Monmouth, the banks on the left were at first low ; but on both sides they soon grew steep and woody; varying their shapes as they had done the day before. The most beautiful of these scenes is in the neighbourhood of St. Breval's castle; where the vast woody declivities on each hand are uncommonly magnificent. The castle is at too great a distance to make any object in the view.

The weather was now serene; the sun shone ; and we saw enough of the effect of light in the exhibitions of this day, to regret the want of it the day before.

During the whole course of our voyage from Ross, we had scarcely seen one corn- field. The banks of the Wye consist almost


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entirely either of wood or of pasturage ; which I mention as a circumstance of peculiar value in landscape. Furrowed-lands and waving- corn, however charming in pastoral poetry, are ill accommodated to painting. The painter never desires the hand of art to touch his grounds. — But if art must stray among them; if it must mark out the limits of property, and turn them to the uses of agri- culture, he wishes that these limits may, as much as possible, be concealed ; and that the lands they circumscribe may approach as nearly as may be to nature ; that is, that they may be pasturage. Pasturage not only pre- sents an agreeable surface ; but the cattle which graze it add great variety and anima- tion to the scene.

The meadows below Monmouth, which ran shelving from the hills to the water-side, were particularly beautiful and well inhabited. — Flocks of sheep were everywhere hanging on their green steeps ; and herds of cattle oc- cupying the lower grounds. We often sailed past groups of them laving their sides in the water ; or retiring from the heat under shel- tered banks.


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In this part of the river also, which now begins to widen, we were often entertained with light vessels gliding past us. Their white sails passing along the sides of wood- land hills were very picturesque.

In many places also the views were varied by the prospect of bays and harbours in miniature, where little barks lay moored, taking in ore and other commodities from the mountains. These vessels, designed plainly for rougher water than they at pre- sent encountered, shewed us, without any geographical knowledge, that we approached the sea.

From Monmouth we reached, by a late breakfast-hour, the noble ruin of Tintem- ahhey, which belongs to the Duke of Beau- fort; and is esteemed, with its appendages, the most beautiful and picturesque view on the river.

Castles and abbeys have different situations, agreeable to their respective uses. The castle,


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meant for defence, stands boldly on the hill ; the abbey, intended for meditation, is hid in the sequestered vale.

Ah ! happy thou, if one superior rock Bear on its brow the shivered fragment huge Of some old Norman fortress : happier far, Ah I then most happy, if thy vale below Wash, with the crystal coolness of its rills, Some mould'ring abbey's ivy-vested wall.

Such is the situation of Tintern-ahhey. It occupies a great eminence in the middle of a circular valley, beautifully screened on all sides by woody hills, through which the river winds its course ; and the hills, closing on its entrance and on its exit, leave no room for inclement blasts to enter. A more pleasing retreat could not easily be found. The woods and glades intermixed ; the winding of the river ; the variet}'- of the ground ; the splendid ruin, contrasted with the objects of nature; and the elegant line formed by the summits of the hills which include the whole, make all together a very enchanting piece of scenery. Every thing around bears an air so calm and tranquil, so sequestered from the com- merce of life, that it is easy to conceive, a


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man of warm imagination, in monkish times, might have been allured by such a scene to become an inhabitant of it.

No part of the ruins of Tintern is seen from the river except the abbey-church. It has been an elegant Gothic pile ; but it does not make that appearance as a distant object which we expected. Though the parts are beautiful, the whole is ill-shaped. No ruins of the tower are left, which might give form and contrast to the buttresses and walls. In- stead of this a number of gabel-ends hurt the eye with their regularity, and disgust it by the vulgarity of their shape. A mallet judiciously used (but w^ho durst use it ?) might be of service in fracturing some of them ; particularly those of the cross isles, which are both disagreeable in themselves, and con- found the perspective.

But were the building ever so beautiful, incompassed as it is with shabby houses, it could make no appearance from the river. From a stand near the road it is seen to more advantage.

But if Tintern-abhey be less striking as a distant object, it exhibits, on a nearer view, (when the whole together cannot be seen,)

E a very


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a very enchanting piece of ruin. The eye settles upon some of its nobler parts. Nature has now made it her own. Time has worn off all traces of the chisel : it has blunted the sharp edges of the rule and compass, and broken the regularity of opposing parts. The figured ornaments of the east-window are gone ; those of the west-window are left. Most of the other windows, with their prin- cipal ornaments, remain.

To these were superadded the ornaments of time. Ivy, in masses uncommonly large, had taken possession of many parts of the wall ; and given a happy contrast to the grey-coloured stone of which the building is composed : nor was this undecorated. Mosses of various hues, with lychens, maiden- hair, penny-leaf, and other humble plants, had over-spread the surface, or hung from every joint or crevice. Some of them were in flower, others only in leaf; but all together gave those full-blown tints which add the richest finishing to a ruin.

Such is the beautiful appearance which Tintern-abbey exhibits on the outside^ in those parts where we can obtain a nearer view of it. But when we enter it we see it in most

perfection ;

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perfection ; at least if we consider it as an independent object, unconnected with land- scape. The roof is gone ; but the walls, and pillars, and abutments which supported it are entire. A few of the pillars indeed have given way ; and here and there a piece of the facing of the wall ; but in corre- sponding parts one always remains to tell the story. The pavement is obliterated: the elevation of the, choir is no longer visi- ble : the whole area is reduced to one level, cleared of rubbish, and covered with neat turf, closely shorn ; and interrupted with no- thing but the noble columns which formed the isles and supported the tower.

When we stood at one end of this awful piece of rain, and surveyed the whole in one view, the elements of air and earth, its only covering and pavement ; and the grand and venerable remains which terminated both; perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity ; the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the greatness, and the novelty of the -scene. More picturesque it certainly would -have been, if the area, unadorned, had been left with all its rough fragments of ruin E 2 scattered


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scattered round ; and bold was the hand that removed them : yet as the outside of the ruin, which is the chief object of picturesque curio- sity, is still left in all its wild and native rudeness, we excuse, perhaps we approve, the neatness that is introduced within : it may add to the heauty of the scene ; to its novelty it undoubtedly does.

Among other things in this scene of deso- lation, the poverty and wretchedness of the inhabitants were remarkable. They occupy little huts, raised among the ruins of the monastery, and seem to have no emplo3'^ment but begging ; as if a place once devoted to indolence could never again become the seat of industry. As we left the abbey, we found the whole hamlet at the gate, either openly soliciting alms, or covertly, under the pre- tence of carrying us to some part of the ruins, which each could shew, and which was far superior to anything which could be shewn by any one else. The most lucrative occa- sion could not have excited more jealousy and contention.


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One poor woman we followed, who had engaged to shew us the monks' library. She could' scarcely crawl; shuffling along her palsied lambs and meagre contracted body by the help of two sticks. She led us through an old gate into a place overspread with nettles and briars ; and pointing to the remnant of a shattered cloister, told us that was the place. It was her own mansion. All indeed she meant to tell us was the story of her own wretchedness ; and all she had to shew us, was her own miserable habitation. We did not expect to be interested as we were. I never saw so loathsome a human dwelling. It was a cavern loftily vaulted between two ruined walls, which streamed with various coloured stains of unwholesome dews. The floor was earth ; yielding through moisture to the tread. Not the merest utensil or furniture of any kind appeared, but a wretched bedstead, spread with a few rags, and drawn into the middle of the cell to prevent its receiving the damp which trick- led down the walls. At one end was an aperture, which served just to let in light enough to discover the wretchedness within. — When we stood in the midst of this cell


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of misery, and felt the chilling damps which struck us in every direction, we were rather surprised that the wretched inhabitant was still alive, than that she had only lost the use of her limbs.

The country about Tintem-ahhey hath been described as a solitary tranquil silence ; but its immediate environs only are meant. — Within half a mile of it are carried on great iron-works, which introduce noise and bustle into these regions of tranquillity.

The ground about these works appears from the river to consist of grand woody hills, sweeping and intersecting each other in ele- gant lines. They are a continuation of the same kind of landscape as that about Tintern- ahbey, and are fully equal to it.

As we still descend the river, the same scenery continues : the banks are equally steep, winding, and woody ; and in some parts diversified by prominent rocks, and ground finely broken and adorned.


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But one great disadvantage began here to invade us. Hitherto the river had been clear and splendid ; reflecting the several objects on its banks. But its waters now became ouzy and discoloured. Sludgy shores too appeared on each side ; and other symptoms which discovered the influence of a tide.


Mr. Morris's improvements at Persfield, which we soon approached, are generally thought as much worth a traveller's notice as any thing on the banks of the Wye. We pushed on shore close under his rocks ; and the tide being at ebb, we landed with some difficulty on an ouzy beach. One of our bargemen, who knew the place, served as a guide ; and under his conduct we climbed the steep by an easy regular zig-zag.

The eminence on which we stood (one of those grand eminences which overlooks the Wye) is an intermixture of rock and wood, and forms, in this place, a concave semicircle, sweeping round in a segment of two miles. The river winds under it; and the scenery, of course, is shewn in various directions. The river itself, indeed, as we just observed, is charged with the impurities of the soil it washes ; and when it ebbs its verdant banks become slopes of mud : but


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if we except these disadvantages, the situation of Persfield is noble.

Little indeed was left for improvement, but to open walks and views through the woods to the various objects around them ; to those chiefly of the eminence on which we stood. All this the ingenious proprietor hath done with great judgment; and hath shewn his rocks, his woods, and his preci- pices, under various forms, and to great ad- vantage. Sometimes a broad face of rock is presented, stretching along a vast space, like the walls of a citadel. Sometimes it is broken by intervening trees. In other parts the rocks rise above the woods ; a little far- ther they sink below them ; sometimes they are seen through them ; and sometimes one series of rocks appears rising above another : and though many of these objects are repeat- edly seen, yet seen from different stations, and with new accompaniments, they appear new. The winding of the precipice is the magical secret by which all these enchanting scenes are produced.

We cannot, however, call these views pic- turesque. They are either presented from too high a point, or they have little to mark


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them as characteristic; or they do not fall into such composition as would appear to ad- vantage on canvas. But they are extremely romantic, and give a loose to the most pleasing riot of imagination.

These views are chiefly shewn from dif- ferent stands in a close walk carried along the brow of the precipice. It would be invi- dious, perhaps, to remark a degree of tedi- ousness in this walk, and too much sameness in many of its parts; notwithstanding the general variety which enlivens them : but the intention probably is not yet complete ; and many things are meant to be hid, which are now too profusely shewn.*

Having seen every thing on this side of the hill, we found we had seen only half the beauties of Persfield, and pursued a walk which led us over the ridge of the eminence to the opposite side. Here the ground depositing its wild appearance, assumes a more civilized form. It consists of a great

  • As it is many years since these remarks were made,

several alterations have probably, since that time, taken place.


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variety of lawns, intermixed with wood and rock ; and, though it often rises and falls, yet it descends without any violence into the country beyond it.

The views on this side are not the romantic steeps of the Wye ; but though of another species, they are equally grand. They are chiefly distances, consisting of the vast waters of the Severn, here an arm of the sea, bounded by a remote country ; of the mouth of the Wye entering the Severn ; and of the town of Chepstow, and its castle and abbey. Of all these distant objects an admirable use is made ; and they are shewn, (as the rocks of the Wye were on the other side,) some- times in parts, and sometimes altogether. In one station we had the scenery of both sides of the hill at once.

It is a pity the ingenious embellisher of these scenes could not have been satisfied with the grand beauties of nature which he commanded. The shrubberies he has intro- duced in this part of his improvements, I fear, will rather be esteemed paltry. Ag the embellishments of a house, or as the orna- ments of little scenes which have nothing better to recommend them, a few flowering


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shrubs artfully composed may have their ele- gance and beauty; but in scenes like this, they are only splendid patches, which injure the grandeur and simplicity of the whole.

Fortasse cupressum

Scis simulare : quid hoc ?

Sit quidvis simplex duntaxat et unum.

It is not the shrub which offends ; it is the formal introduction of it. Wild underwood may be an appendage of the grandest scene ; it is a beautiful appendage. A bed of violets or lilies may enamel the ground with pro- priety at the root of an oak ; but if you intro- duce them artificially in a border, you intro- duce a trifling formality, and disgrace the noble object you wish to adorn.

From the scenes of Persfield w^e walked to Chepstow, our barge drawing too much water to pass the shallows till the return of the tide. In this walk we wished for more time than w^e could command, to examine the romantic scenes which surrounded us ; but we were obliged to return that evening to Monmouth.


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The road, at first, affords beautiful distant views of those woody hills which bad en- tertained us on the banks of the Wye ; and which appeared to as much advantage when connected with the country, as they had al- ready done in union with the river : but the country soon loses its picturesque form, and assumes a bleak unpleasant wildness.

About seven miles from Chepstow, we had an extensive view into Wales, bounded by mountains very remote. But this view, though much celebrated, has little, except the grandeur of extension, to recommend it. And yet it is possible, that in some lights it may be very picturesque ; and that we might only have had the misfortune to see it in an unfavourable one. Different lights make so •great a change even in the composition of landscape, at least in the apparent composition of it, that they create a scene perfectly new. In distance, especially, this is the case. Hills and vallies may be deranged ; awkward ab- ruptnesses

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ruptnesses and hollows introduced ; and the effect of woods and castles, and all the orna- mental detail of a country lost. On the other hand, these ingredients of landscape may in reality be awkwardly introduced ; yet through the magical influence of light, they may be al- tered, softened, and rendered pleasing.

In a mountainous country particularly, I have often seen, during the morning hours, a range of hills rearing their summits, in ill- disposed fantastic shapes. In the afternoon, all this incorrect rudeness hath been removed ; and each mis-shapen summit hath softened beautifully into some pleasing form.

The different seasons of the year also pro- duce the same effect. When the sun ride& high in summer, and when, in the same meridian, he just skirts the horizon in winter, he forms the mountain-tops, and indeed the whole face of a country into very different appearances.

Fogs also vary a distant country as much as light, softening the harsh features of land- scape ;, and spreading over them a beautiful grey harmonizing tint^


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We remark farther on this subject, that scarcely any landscape will stand the test of different lights. Some searching ray, as the sun veers round, will expose its defects. And hence it is, that almost every landscape is seen best under some peculiar illumination — either of an evening or of a morning, or, it may be, of a meridian sun.

During many miles we kept upon the heights ; and, through a long and gentle descent, approached Monmouth. Before we reached it we were benighted ; but as far as we could judge of a country through the grey obscurity of a summer-evening, this seemed to abound with many beautiful woody vallies among the hills, which we descended. A light of this kind, though not so favorable to landscape, is very fa- vorable to the imagination. This active power embodies half-formed images, which it rapidly combines ; and often composes landscapes, perhaps more beautiful, if the imagination be well-stored, than any that can be found in Nature herself. They


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are formed indeed from Nature — from the most beautiful of her scenes ; and having been treasured up in the memory, are called into these fanciful creations by some distant resemblances which strike the eye in the multiplicity of dubious surfaces that float before it.


Having thus navigated the Wye betweetl Ross and Chepstow, we had such pleasing accounts of its beautiful scenery above Ross, that if our time had permitted, we could have wished to have explored it.

A journal, however, fell into my hands (since the first edition of this book was printed) of a tour to the source of the Wye ; and thence through the midland counties of Wales ; which I shall put into a little form ; and making a few picturesque remarks, which the subject may occasionally suggest, shall insert for the benefit of those who may have more time than we had.

From Ross to Hereford the great road leaves the river, which is hardly once seen. But it is not probable that much is lost ; for the whole country here has a tame ap- pearance.

F 2 The

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The cathedral of Hereford consists, in many parts, of rich Gothic. The west-front k fall- ing fast to decay, and is every year receiving more the form of a fine ruin* .

At Hereford we again meet the Wye ; of which we have several beautiful views from the higher grounds. The road now follows the course of the river to the Hay ; winding along its northern banks.

About six miles from Hereford, and but little out of the road, stands Foxley. The form of the grounds about it, and the beau- tiful woods that surround it, are said to be worth seeing. My journalist says it contains a choice collection of pictures ; and some good drawings of landscape by the late Mr. Price.

The ruins of Bradwardine-castle appear soon in view ; though but little of them remains. At a bridge near them you cross the Wye, and now traverse the south-side of the river. The country which had been greatly varied before, begins now to form bolder swells. Among these Mirebich-hill, which rises full in

  • A subscription, I hear, is now opened to repair it.


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front, continues some time before the eye, as a considerable object.

Leaving Witney-bridge on the right, you still continue your course along the southern bank of the river, and come soon in view of the ruins of ClyfFord-castle ; where tradition informs us the celebrated Rosamond spent her early life.

Soon after you arrive at the Hay, a town pleasantly seated on the Wye. It was for- merly a Roman station, and was long after- wards considered as a place of great strength, being defended by a castle and lofty walls, till Owen Glendouer laid it in ashes in one of those expeditions in which he drove Harry Bolingbroke

thrice from the banks of Wye,

And sandy-bottomed Severn

If you have time to make a little excursion, you will find, about half way between the Hay and Abergavenny, the ruins of Llantony- priory. Dugdale describes it, in his Monasti- con, as a scene richly adorned with wood. But Dugdale lived a century ago ; which is a


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terra that will produce or destroy the finest scenery. It has had the latter effect here, for the woods about Llantony-priory are now totally destroyed ; and the ruin is wholly naked and desolate.

After this excursion you return again to the Hay, and continue your route to Bualt, still on the south-side of the river.

On the north-side, about four miles beyond the Hay, stands Maeslough, the ancient seat of the Howarths. The house shews the neglect of its possessor ; though the situation is in its kind perhaps one of the finest in Wales. The view from the hall-door is spoken of as wonderfully amusing. A lawn extends to the river ; which encircles it with a curve, at the distance of half a mile. The banks are enriched with various objects ; among which, two bridges, with winding roads, and the tower of Glasbury-church, surrounded by a wood are conspicuous. A distant country equally enriched, fills the re- mote'parts of the landscape, which is terminated by' mountains. One of the bridges in this view, that at Glasbury, is remarkably light

and I

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and elegant, consisting of several arches.— How these various objects are brought to- gether I know not. I should fear there are loo many of them.

As you continue your route to Bualt, the country grows grander and more picturesque. The valley of the Wye becomes contracted, and the road runs at the bottom, along the edge of the water.

It is possible, I think, the Wye may in this place be more beautiful than in any other part of its course. Between Ross and Chep- stow, the grandeur and beauty of its banks are its chief praise. The river itself has no other merit than that of a winding surface of smooth water. But here, added to the same decoration from its banks, the Wye itself as- sumes a more beautiful character ; pouring over shelving rocks, and forming itself into eddies and cascades, which a solemn parading stream through a flat channel cannot ex- hibit.

An additional merit also accrues to such a river from the different forms it assumes, ac- cording to the fulness or emptiness of the


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stream. There are rocks of all shapes and sizes, which continually vary the appearance of the water as it rushes over or plays among them ; so that such a river, to a picturesque eye, is a continued fund of new entertain- ment.

The Wye also, in this part of its course, still receives farther beauty from the woods which adorn its banks, and which the navi- gation of the river, in its lower reaches, for- bids. Here the whole is perfectly rural and unincumbered. Even a boat, I believe, is never seen beyond the Hay. The boat itself might be an ornament ; but we should be sorry to exchange it for the beauties of such a river as will not suffer a boat.

Some beauties, however, the smooth river possesses above the rapid one. In the latter you cannot have those reflections which are so ornamental to the former : nor can you have in the rapid river the opportunity of contemplating the grandeur of its banks from the surface of the water, unless indeed the road winds close along the river at the bot- tom, when perhaps you may see them with additional advantage.


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The foundation of these criticisms on smooth and agitated water is this : when water is exhibited in small quantities it wants the agitation of a torrent, a cascade, or some other adventitious circumstance to give it consequence ; but when it is spread out in the reach of some capital river, in a lake^ or an arm of the sea, it is then able to support its own dignity : in the former case it aims at beauty ; in the latter at grandeur. Now the Wye has in no part of its course a quan- tity of water sufficient to give it any great degree of grandeur ; so that of consequence the smooth part must, on the whole, yield to the more agitated, which possesses more beauty.

In this wild enchanting country stands Llangoed, the house of Sir Edward Wil- liams. It is adorned, like the house at Foxley, with woods and playing grounds; but is a scene totally different. Here, how- ever, the trees are finer than those at Foxley ; and, when examined as individuals, appear to' great advantage ; though my journalist has


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heard that some of the best of them have lately been cut down.

The road still continues through the same beautiful country along the banks of the Wye ; and in a few miles farther brings you to Bualt. This town is seated in a pleasant vale surrounded with woods.

A little beyond Bualt, where the river Irvon falls into the Wye, is a field, where, tradition says, Llewellin, the last prince of Wales, was put to death. Some historians say he was killed in battle ; but the tradi- tional account of his being killed near Bualt seems more probable, and that he fell by the hands of an assassin. When Edward invaded Wales, Llewellin had entrenched himself in the fastnesses of Snowden. Here he might probably have foiled his adversary ; but some of his troops having been successful against the Earl of Surrey, one of Edward's generals, Llewellin came down from his strong holds, with the hope of improving his advantage, and offered Edward battle. Llewellin was totally routed ; and, in his flight


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into Glamorganshire, slept, the night before he was murdered, at Llechryd, which is now a farm-house. Here the farrier who shod his horse knew him under his disguise, and be^- trayed him to the people of Bualt, who put him to death ; and are to this day stigma- tized with the name of Brad wyr y Bualht, the traitors of Bualt.

At Bualt you cross the Wye again, and now pursue your route along the north-side of the river. The same grand scenery continues, lofty banks, woody vales, a rocky channel, and a rapid stream.

Soon after you come to the sulphureous springs of Llanydrindod, which you leave on the right ; and crossing the river Ithon, reach Rhaader, a town about thirteen miles beyond Bualt. — To a Welshman the appearance of the Wye at Rhaader need not be described. The word signifies a waterfall. There is no cascade indeed of consequence near the place ; but the river being pent up within close rocky banks, and the channel being steep, the whole is a succession of waterfalls.


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As you leave Rhaader you begin to ap- proach the sources of the Wye. But the river having not yet attained its chief supplies, is rather insignificant ; and as the country becomes wilder and more mountainous, the scenery of the river is now disproportioned. There is not a sufficiency of water in the land- scape to balance the land.

Llangerig, which is about twelve miles from Rhaader, is the last village you find on the banks of the Wye. Soon after all signs of inhabitancy cease. You begin to ascend the skirts of Plinlimmon ; and after rising gra- dually about ten miles from Llangerig, you arrive at the sources of a river, which through a course of so m. ny leagues hath afforded you so much entertainment.

It is a singular circumstance, that within a quarter of a mile of the well-head of the Wye, arises the Severn. The two springs are nearly alike ; but the fortunes of rivers,


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like those of men, are owing to various little circumstances, of which they take the advan- tage in the early parts of their course. The Severn meeting with a tract of ground rising on the right, soon after it leaves Plinlimmon, receives a push towards the north-east. In this direction it continues its course to Shrews- bury. There, taking the advantage of other circumstances, it makes a turn to the south- east. Afterwards, still meeting with favour- able opportunities, it successfully improves them ; enlarging its circle ; sweeping from one country to another ; receiving large ac- cessions every where of wealth and grandeur ; till at length, with a full tide, it enters the ocean under the character of an arm of the sea. — In the meantime the Wye, meeting with no opportunities of any consequence to improve its fortunes, never makes any figure as a capital river, and at length becomes subservient to that very Severn, whose birth and early setting out in life were exactly similar to its own. — Between these two rivers is comprehended a district, consisting of great part of the counties of Montgomery, Radnor, Salop, Worcester, Hereford, and Glocester:


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of the last country only that beautiful portiori which forms the forest of Dean.

The country about Plinlimmon, vast, wild^ and unfurnished, is neither adorned with accompaniments to be a scene of beauty : nor affords the materials of a scene of gran- deur. — Though grandeur consists in simpli- city, it must take some form of landscape ; otherwise it is a shapeless waste ; monstrous without proportion. — As there is nothing therefore in these inhospitable regions to de- tain you long, and no refreshment to be had, except a draught of pure water from the fountains of the Wye, you will soon be in- clined to return to Rhaader.

From Rhaader my journal leads into Car- diganshire. Crossing the Wye you ascend a very steep mountain, about seven miles over. Then skirting the banks of a sweet little river, the Elan, which falls into the Wye, you pass through a corner of Montgomeryshire, which* brings you to the verge of Cardiganshire.

The passage into this county is rather tre- mendous. You stand on very high ground, and see extending far below, a long con- tracted

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tracted valley. The perspective from the top gives it rather the appearance of a chasm. Down one of the precipitous sides of this valley the road hurries you ; while the river Istwith at the bottom is ready to receive you, if your foot should slip or your horse stumble*

Having descended safely into the bottom of the valley, and having passed through it, you cross the river over a handsome bridge, and arrive at the village of Pentre. Near this place is Havod, the seat of Mr. Johnes, member for Radnorshire, which affords so much beautiful scenery that you should by no means pass by it. It will open suddenly upon you, at the close of a well-conducted approach. The house is new, built in a style between Gothic and Moorish. It is a style of building I am not acquainted with ; but I am informed it has a good effect. It is a large commodious mansion, richly fur- nished. One thing is worth observing : over the chimney of the dining room is placed a neat tablet of white marble with this in- scription :

-Prout cuique libido est,

Siccat inequales cyathos.-


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The Welsh gentry are remarkable for their hospitality; which sometimes, I have heard, will not allow the inequales cyathos ; but brings all to a brimming level. The spirit of this inscription, I hope, is diffusing itself more and more over the country.

But elegant houses and rich furniture are everywhere to be found. The scenery at Havod is the object ; and such scenery is rarely met with. — The walks are divided into what is called the lady*s-walk, a circuit of about three miles ; and the gentleman s- walk, about six. To these is added a more extensive round, which might properly come under the denomination of a riding, if in all - parts it was accessible to horse-men.

The general ground-plot of these walks, and the scenery through which they convey you, are much beyond what we commonly meet with.

The river Istwith runs at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, from the house, which stands upon a lawn consisting of varied grounds descending to the river. It is a rapid stream, and its channel is filled with rocks, like many other Welsh streams, which form cataracts and cascades in various


( 81 ) parts, more broken and convulsed than the Wye about Bualt. Its banks consist of great variety of wooded recesses, hills, sides of mountains, and contracted vallies, thvi^arting and opposing each other in various forms ; and adorned with little cascades running everywhere among them in guttered chasms. Of the grandeur and beauty of these scenes I can speak as an eye-witness : for though I was never on the spot, I have seen a large collection of drawings and sketches (not fewer than between twenty and thirty) which were taken from them.

Through this variety of grand scenery the several walks are conducted. The views shift rapidly from one to another; each being characterized by some circumstance peculiar to itself.

The artificial ornaments are such chiefly as are necessary. Many bridges are wanted, both in crossing the Istwith and the several streams which run into it from the sur- rounding hills ; and they are varied as much as that species of architecture will admit, from the stone arch to the Alpine plank. — In one place you see a cottage pleasantly seated among the thickets of a woody hill,

G which

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which Mr. Johnes intends to fit up for the accommodation of a band of musicians ; for so a pack of hounds may be called among the hills, and dales, and echoing rocks of these grand scenes.

Among the natural curiosities of the place is a noble cascade sixty feet high, which is seen through a cavern, partly natural and partly artificial. You enter it by a passage cut through a rock four feet broad and seven high ; which continues about twenty yards, and brings you into a very lofty perforated cavern, through which you see the cascade to great advantage.

From the scenes of Havod you continue your excursions, among some other grand and beautiful exhibitions of landscape.

You are carried first to the DeviVs- Bridge, about four miles from Havod. I do not clearly understand the nature of the scenery here from the account given in my journal ; but I should suppose it is only one grand piece of fore-ground, without any distance or accompaniments ; and probably one of those scenes which is itself sufficient to form a picture. The plan of it is a rocky chasm, over which is thrown an arch. Between the


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cheeks of this chasm, and just beneath the bridge, the river Fimnach falls abruptly down the space of several yards ; and afterwards meeting with other steeps, makes its way, after a few of these interruptions, into the Rhydol a little below. The bridge, I should suppose, is an interesting object. It consists of two arches, one thrown over the other ; the under one, which is that said to be built by the devil, was not thought suflBciently strong. The common people suppose, when he built it he had some mischief in his head.

From the Devil's-bridge you visit Monk*s bridge; where the same kind of scenery is exhibited under a different modification.

From this place you descend into the vale of Rhydol, called so from the river of that name, which passes through it.

If the Welsh counties, distinguished for so much beautiful scenery of various kinds, are remarkable for pre-eminence in any mode, I think it is in their vales. Their lakes are greatly exceeded, both in grandeur and beauty, by those of Cumberland, Westmore- G 2 land,

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land, and Scotland. Nor are their moun- tains, as far as I have observed, of such pic- turesque form as many I have seen in those countries. They are often of a heavy lump- ish kind ; for there are orders of architecture in mountains as well as in palaces. Their rivers, I allow, are often very picturesque ; and so are their sea-coast views. But their vales and vallies, I think, exceed those of any country I ever saw.

The vale of Rhydol is described as a very grand and extensive scene, continuing not less than ten miles, among rocks, hanging woods, and varied ground, which in some parts becomes mountainous ; while the river is everywhere a beautiful object ; and twice or three times, in its passage through the vale, is interrupted in its course, and formed into a cascade. This is a circumstance in a vale, I think, rather uncommon. In a con- tracted valley it is frequent ; but an extended vale, as I apprehend this to be, is seldom so interrupted as not to give way to the river on one side or the other. I can easily how- ever imagine, that when the ivhole vale is interrupted, as I conceive it to be here, it will occasion a very beautiful scene, if the


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eye, from so good 2i foreground, hath such an elevated station as will enable it to trace the winding of the vale at a distance beyond the cascade. But this is perhaps reasoning (as we often do on higher subjects) without suf- ficient grounds. On the spot I should pro- bably find that all these conceptions are wrong, that the obstructions of the river in the vale of Rhydol are no advantage to the scene, or, perhaps, after all, that the vale of Rhydol does not deserve that name ; but is only a contracted valley of considerable length.

At the end of this vale or valley, by which- soever of these names it ought to be distin- guished, stands the ruins of Ahyrysthwick- castle. Of this fortress little now remains but a solitary tower, over-looking the sea. Once it was the residence of the great Cad- wallader; and in all the Welsh wars was considered as a fortress of the first conse- quence. Even so late as the civil wars of the last century it was esteemed a place ot strength.

But the rich lead-mines in its neighbour- hood were the basis of its glory. These mines are said to have yielded near a hundred ounces of silver from a ton of lead ; and


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to have produced a profit of two thousand pounds a month. Here Sir Hugh Middleton made that vast fortune, which he expended afterwards on the New-river. But a gentle- man of the name of Bushel worked these mines to the most profitable extent. He was allowed by Charles the First the privilege of setting up a mint in this castle for the benefit of paying his workmen. Here therefore all the business of the mines was transacted, which made Abyrysthwick-castle a place of more consequence and resort than any other place in Wales. King Charles also appointed Mr. Bushel governor of the Isle of Lundy ; where he made a harbour for the security of his vessels, which carried the produce of his mines up the Severn. When the civil wars broke out, he had an opportunity of shewing his gratitude ; which he did with the magnificence of a prince. He clothed the king's whole army, and offered his ma- jesty a loan, which was considered as a gift, of forty thousand pounds. Afterwards, when Charles was pressed by the parliament, Mr. Bushel raised a regiment in his service at his own expence.


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From the vale of Rhydol, you seek again the banks of the Istwith, and enter a vale which takes its name from the river.

This scene is another proof of what I have just observed of the Welsh vales. From the accounts I have heard of it, I should suppose it a scene of extraordinary beauty, less romantic than the vale of Rhydol, but more sylvan. Nature has introduced the rock more sparingly, but has made great amends by wood ; though in one part of it, an immense rock forms a very grand feature. — It is much easier, however, to conceive the variety of these scenes than to describe them. Na- ture's alphabet consists only of four letters; wood, water, rock, and ground : and yet, with these four letters she forms such varied compositions, such infinite combinations, as no language with an alphabet of twenty-four 'Can describe.

From the vale of Istwith you may visit the ruins of the abbey of Strata Florida : but there is little among those ruins, I should suppose, worth notice, except a Saxon gate- way; and that can hardly be an object of much beauty. The painter, therefore, can make little use of this old abbey, and con- signs

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signs it to the antiquarian, who tells you it was formerly the sacred repository of the bones of several of the Welsh princes ; and that here the records and acts of the princi- pality were preserved for many generations.

From the ruins of Strata Florida you return to Hereford, through Rhosfaiv, Rhaader, Pin- about, and New Radnor ; in which route I find nothing in my journal mentioned as worth notice; though it is hardly possible that in so large a tract of rough country there should not be many picturesque passages.

Here we drop our journal and return to Monmouth.


From Monmouth to Abergavenny, by Rag- land-castle, the road is a good stone cause- way, (as the roads in these parts commonly are,) and leads through a pleasant inclosed country; discovering on each side extensive views of rich cultivation.

Ragland'Castle seemed to stand (as we saw it from the heights) in a vale ; but as we descended, it took an elevated station. It is a large and very noble ruin : more perfect than ruins of this kind commonly are. It contains two areas within the ditch ; into each of which you enter by a lofty and lengthened gateway.

The buildings which circumscribe the first area, consist of the kitchen and offices. It is amusing to hear stories of ancient hospita- lity. " Here are the remains of an oven,"


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said our conductor, " which was large enough " to bake a whole ox ; and of a fire-range " wide enough to roast him."

The great hall, or banquetting-room, a large and lofty apartment, forms the screen between the two areas ; and is perfect, except the roof. The music-gallery may be distinct- ly traced ; and the butteries, which divide the hall from a parlour. Near the hall is shewn a narrow chapel.

On viewing the comparative size of halls and chapels in old castles, one can hardly, at first, avoid observing, that the founders of these ancient structures supposed a much greater number of people would meet toge- ther to feast than to pray. But yet we may perhaps account for the thing, without call- ing in question the piety of our ancestors. The hall was meant to regale a whole coun- try ; while the chapel was intended only for the private use of the inhabitants of the castle.

The whole area of the first inclosure is vaulted, and contains cellars, dungeons, and other subterraneous apartments. — The build- ings of the second area are confined merely to chambers.


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Near the castle stands the citadel, a large octagonal tower ; two or three sides of which are still remaining. This tower is incircled by a separate moat: and was for- merly joined to the castle by a draw- bridge.

Ragland -castle owes its present picturesque form to Cromwell, who laid his iron hands upon it ; and shattered it into ruin. A win- dow is shewn, through which a girl in the garrison, by waving a handkerchief, intro- duced his troops.

From Ragland-castle the views are still extensive, the roads inclosed, and the country rich. The distances are skirted by the Breck- noc-hills ; among which the Sugar-loaf makes a remarkable appearance.

The Brecknoc-hills are little more than gentle swellings, cultivated to the top. For many miles they kept their station in a dis- tant range on each side. But by degrees they began to close in, approximating more and more, and leaving in front a narrow- pass between them ; through which an ex- tensive country appeared. Through this pass


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we hoped the progress of our road would lead us ; as it seemed to open into a fair and beautiful country.

It led us first to Abergavenny, a small town, which has formerly been fortified, lying under the hills. We approached it by the castle ; of which nothing remains but a few staring ruins.

Hence we were carried, as we expected, through the pass; which we had long ob- served at a distance, and which opened into the vale of Usk.

The vale of Usk is a delightful scene. The river from which it borrows its name winds through the middle of it ; and the hills, on both sides, are diversified with woods and lawns. In many places they are partially cultivated. We could distinguish little cottages and farms, faintly traced along their shadowy sides; which, at such a dis- tance, rather varied and enriched the scene, than impressed it with any regular and un- pleasing shapes.

Through this kind of road we passed many miles. The Usk continued everywhere our


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playful companion ; and if at any time it made a more devious curve than usual, we were sure to meet it again at the next turn. Our passage through the vale was still more enlivened by many little foaming rills cross- ing the road, (some of them large enough to make bridges necessary,) and two ruined castles, with which, at proper intervals, the country is adorned.

After leaving the latter of them, called Tretower - castle, we mounted some high grounds, which gave variety to the scene, though not so picturesque an exhibition of it. Here the road brought us in view of Langor s-pool ; which is no very inconsider- able lake. As we descended these heights, the Usk met us once more at the bottom, and conducted us into Brecknoc.

Brecknoc is a very romantic place, abound- ing with broken grounds, torrents, dismantled towers, and ruins of every kind. I have seen few places where a landscape-painter might get a collection of better ideas. The castle has once been large ; and is still a ruin of dignity. It is easy to trace the main


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body, the citadel, and all the parts of ancient fortification.

In many places indeed these works are too much ruined even for picturesque use. Yet, ruined as they are, as far as they go they are amusing. The arts of modern fortifi- cation are ill calculated for the purposes of landscape. The angular and formal works of Vauban and Cohorn, when it comes to their turn to be superseded by works of superior invention, will make a poor figure in the annals of picturesque beauty. No eye will ever be delighted with their ruins ; while not the least fragment of a British or a Nor- man castle exists, that is not surveyed with delight.

But the most beautiful scenery we saw at Brecknoc, is about the abbey. We had a view of it, though but a transient view, from a little bridge in the neighbourhood. There we saw a sweet limpid stream, glistening over a bed of pebbles, and forming two or three cascades as it hurried to the bridge. It issued from a wood, with which its banks were beautifully hung. Amidst the gloom arose the ruins of the abbey, tinged with a bright ray, which discovered a profusion of


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rich Gothic workmanship; and exhibited in pleasing contrast the grey stone, of which the ruins are composed, with the feathering foliage that floated around them ; but we had no time to examine how all these beauteous parts were formed into a whole. — The ima- gination formed it, after the vision vanished : but though the imagination might possibly create a whole more agreeable to the rules of painting, yet it could scarcely do justice to the beauty of the parts.

From Brecknoc, in our road to Trecastle, we enter a country very diflerent from the vale of Usk. This too is a vale : but Nature always marks even kindred scenes with some peculiar character. The vale of Usk is almost one continued winding sweep. The road now played among a variety of hills. The whole seemed to consist of one great vale divided into a multiplicity of parts. All together, they wanted unity ; but separately, afforded a number of those pleasing passages, which, treasured up in the memory, become the in- gredient^ of future landscapes.


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Sometimes the road, instead of winding round the hills, took the shortest way over them. In general, they are cultivated like those of the vale of Usk : but as the cultiva- tion in many of them is brought too near the eye, it becomes rather offensive. Our best ideas were obtained from such as were adorned with wood ; and fell, in various forms, into the vallies below.

In these scenes we lost the Usk, our sweet, amusing companion in the vale : but other rivers of the same kind frequently met us, though they seldom continued long; disap- pearing in haste, and hiding themselves among the little tufted recesses at the bottom of the hills.

In general, the Welsh gentlemen in these parts seem fond of whitening their houses, which gives them a disagreeable glare. A speck of white is often beautiful ; but white, in profusion, is, of all tints, the most in- harmonious. A white seat at the corner of a wood, or a few white cattle grazing in a meadow, enliven a scene perhaps more than


97 )

if the seat or the cattle had been of any other,colour. They have meaning and effect. But a front and two staring wings, an extent of rails, a huge Chinese bridge, the tower of a Church, and a variety of other large objects, which we often see daubed over with white, make a disagreeable appearance, and unite ill with the general simplicity of Na- ture's colouring.

Nature never colours in this offensive way. Her surfaces are never white. The chalky cliff is the only permanent object of the kind which she allows to be hers ; and this seems rather a force upon her from the boisterous action of a furious element. But even here it is her constant endeavour to correct the offensive tint. She hangs her chalky cliff with samphire and other marine plants ; or she stains it with various hues, so as to remove, in part at least, the disgusting glare. The western end of the isle of Wight, called the Needle-cliff's, is a remarkable instance of this. These rocks are of a substance nearly resembling chalk : but Nature has so reduced their unpleasant lustre by a variety of chas- tising tints, that in most lights they have even a beautiful effect. She is continually

H at

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at work also, in the same manner, on the white cliffs of Dover ; though her endea- vours here are more counteracted by a greater exposure. But here, and in all other places, were it not for the intervention of foreign causes, she would in time throw her green mantle over every naked and exposed part of her surface.

In these remarks I mean only to insinuate, that white is a hue which nature seems stu- dious to expunge from all her works, except in the touch of a flower, an animal, a cloud, a wave, or some other diminutive or transient object; and that her mode of colouring should always be the model of ours.

In animadverting however on white objects^ I would only censure the mere raw tint. It may easily be corrected, and turned into stone-colours of various hues ; which though light, if not too light, may often have a good effect.

Mr. Lock, who did me the favour to over- look these papers, made some remarks on this part of my subject, which are so new and so excellent, that I cannot, without im- propriety, take the credit of them myself.

" White

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" White offers a more extended scale of " light and shadow than any other colour, " when near : and is more susceptible of " the predominant tint of the air, when " distant. The transparency of its shadows (which in near objects partake so little of " darkness, that they are rather second lights) " discovers, without injuring the principal " light, all the details of surfaces.

" I partake, however, of your general dis- " like to the colour ; and though I have " seen a very splendid effect from an accidental " light on a white object, yet I think it a " hue which oftener injures than improves " the scene. It particularly disturbs the " air in its office of graduating distances, " shews objects nearer than they really are, " and by pressing them on the eye, often " gives them an importance, which from " their form and situation they are not en- " titled to.

" The white of snow is so active and " refractory as to resist the discipline of " every harmonizing principle. I think I " never saw Mont Blanc, and the range of " snows which run through Savoy, in union " with the rest of the landscape, except when H 2 " they

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" they were tinged by the rays of the rising " and setting sun, or participated of some " other tint of the surrounding sky. In " the clear and colourless days so frequent " in that country, the Glaciers are always " out of tune."


From Trecastle we ascended a steep of three miles, which the country people call a pitch. It raised us to a level with the neighbouring hills, whose rugged summits interrupted our views into the vallies below.

From these heights we descended gently through a space of seven miles. As we approached the bottom, we saw at a distance the town of Llandovery, seated in the mea- dows below, at the conflux of several rivu- lets. Unadorned with wood, it made only a naked appearance ; but light wreaths of smoke rising from it in several parts shewed that it was inhabited, while a ray of the setting sun singled it out among the objects of the vale, and gave it some little conse- quence in the landscape. As we descended into it, its importance increased. We were met by an old castle which had formerly defended it, though nothing remains except the ruins of the citadel.


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Llandovery stands at the entrance of the vale of Towy, which, like other vales, re- ceives its name from the river that winds through it ; its delightful scenery opened be- fore us as we left Llandovery in our way to Llandilo, which stands about twelve miles lower in the vale.

The vale of Towy is still less a scene of cultivation than that of Usk ; the wood-land views are more frequent, and the whole more wild and simple. The scenery seems precisely of that kind with which a great master in landscape was formerly enamoured.

Juvat arva videre

Non rastris hominum, non ulli obnoxia curae : Rura mihi, & rigui placeant in vallibus amnes ; Flumina amem, sylvasque

In this vale the river Towy, though it frequently met us, and always kept near us, yet did not so constantly appear, and bear us such close company, as the Usk had done before. Some heights too we ascended, but such heights as were only proper stands, whence we viewed in greater perfection the beauties of the vale.


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This is the scene which Dyer celebrated in his poem of Grongar-hilL Dyer was bred a painter ; and had here a picturesque sub- ject ; but he does not give us so good a land- scape as might have been expected. We have nowhere a complete formed distance ; though it is the great idea suggested by such a vale as this : nowhere any touches of that beautiful obscurity which melts a variety of objects into one rich whole. Here and there we have a few accidental strokes which belong to distance*, though seldom masterly. I call them accidental, because they are not em- ployed in producing a landscape ; nor do they in fact unite in any such idea ; but are

  • As where he describes the beautiful form which removed

cultivation takes :

How close and small the hedges lie 1 What streaks of meadow cross the eye !

Or a distant spire seen by sun-set :

Rising from the woods the spire Seems from far, ascending fire.

Or the aerial view of a distant hill :

yon summits soft and fair

Clad in colours of the air ;

Which to those, who journey near,

Barren, brown, and rough appear.


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rather introductory to some moral sentiment, which, however good in itself, is perhaps here rather forced and misplaced.

Dinevawr-castle, which stands about a mile from Llandilo, and the scenery around it, were the next objects of our curiosity. This castle is seated on one of the sides of the vale of Towy, where it occupies a bold emi- nence richly adorned with wood. It was used not long ago as a mansion ; but Mr. Rice, the proprietor of it, has built a hand- some house in his park, about a mile from the castle, which, however, he still preserves as one of the greatest ornaments of his place.

This castle also is taken notice of by Dyer in his Grongar-hill, and seems intended as an object in a distance ; but his distances, I observed, are all in confusion ; and indeed it is not easy to separate them from his fore- grounds.

The landscape he gives us, in which the castle of Dinevawr makes a part, is seen from the brow of a distant hill. The first object that meets his eye is a wood : it is just be- neath

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neath him, and he easily distinguishes the several trees of which it is composed :

The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,

The yellow beech, the sable yew.

The slender fir that taper grows,

The sturdy oak with broad-spread boughs.

This is perfectly right; objects so near the eye should be distinctly marked. What next strikes him is a purple-grove; that is, I presume, a grove which has gained its pur- ple-hue from distance. This is, no doubt, very just colouring ; though it is here, I think, introduced rather too early in the landscape. The blue and purple tints belong chiefly to the most removed objects, which seem not here to be intended. Thus far, however, I should not greatly cavil.

The next object he surveys is a level lawn, from which a hill crowned with a castle arises ; this is meant, I am informed, for Dinevawr. Here his great want of keeping appears. The castle, instead of being marked with still fainter colours than the purple-grove^ is touched with all the strength of a fore- ground ; you see the very ivy creeping upon its walls. Transgressions of this kind are


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common in descriptive poetry. Innumerable instances might be collected from better poems than Grongar-hill. But I mention only the inaccuracies of an author, who, as a painter, should at least have observed

the most obvious principles of his art.

With how much more picturesque truth does Milton introduce a distant castle :

Towers and battlements he sees, Bosomed high in tufted trees.

Here we have all the indistinct colouring which obscures a distant object. We do not see the iron-grated window, the port- cullis, the ditch, or the rampart. We can just distinguish a castle from a tree, and a tower from a battlement.

The scenery around Dinevawr-castle is very beautiful, consisting of a rich profusion of wood and lawn ; but what particularly recommends it is, the great variety of ground. I know few places where a painter might study the inequalities of a surface with more advantage.


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Nothing gives so just an idea of the beau- tiful swellings of ground as those of water, where it has sufficient room to undulate and expand. In ground which is composed of refractory materials, you are presented often with harsh lines, angular insertions, and disagreeable abruptnesses. In water, whether in gentle or in agitated motion, all is easy ; all is softened into itself; and the hills and tke vallies play into each other, in a variety of beautiful forms. In agitated water abruptnesses indeed there are ; but yet they are such as, in some part or other, unite properly with the surface around them, and are, on the whole, perfectly harmonious. Now if the ocean in any of these swellings and agitations could be arrested and fixed, it would produce that pleasing variety which we admire in ground. Hence it is common to take images from water and apply them to land. We talk of a waving line, an un- dulating lawn, and a billowy surface ; and give a stronger and more adequate idea by such imagery than plain language can easily present.

The woods which adorn these beautiful scenes about Dinevawr-castle, and which form


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themselves into many pleasing groups, consist chiefly of the finest oak ; some of them of large Spanish chesnuts. There are a few, and but a few, young plantations.

The picturesque scenes which this place affords are numerous. Wherever the castle appears, and it appears almost everywhere, a landscape purely picturesque is generally presented. The ground is so beautifully dis- posed, that it is almost impossible to have bad composition. At the same time, the oppo- site side of the vale often appears as a back- ground, and makes a pleasing distance.

Somewhere among the woody scenes of Dinevawr, Spenser hath conceived, with that splendour of imagination which brightens all his descriptions, the cave of Merlin to be seated. Whether there is any opening in the ground which favours the fiction, I find no account ; the stanzas liowever are too much in place to be omitted.

To Maridunum, that is now, by change Of name, Cayr-Merdin called, they took their way ; There the wise Merlin whilom wont, they say, To make his wonne low underneath the ground,


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In a deep delve, far from the view of day, That of no living wight he mote be found. When so he counselled, with his sprights encompast round.

And if ih6u ever happen that same way To travel, go to see that dreadful place ; It is a hideous, hollow, cave-like bay Under a rock, that lies a little space From the swift Barry, tumbling down apace, Emongst the woody hills of Dinevawr. But dare thou not, I charge, in any case To enter into that same baleful bower, For fear the cruel fiends should thee un wares devour.

But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear ; And there such ghastly noise of iron chains. And brazen caudrons thou shalt rombling hear, Which thousand sprights with long enduring pains Do toss, that it will stun thy feeble brains. And oftentimes great groans, and grievous stounds. When too huge toil, and labour them constrains. And oftentimes loud strokes, and ringing sounds From under that deep rock most horribly rebounds*.

As we returned from Dinevawr-castle, into the road, a noble scene opened before us. It is a distant view of a grand circular part of the vale of Towy, (circular at least in ap- pearance,) surrounded by hills, one behind another ; and forming a vast amphitheatre. Through this expanse (which is rich to pro-

  • Book III. Cant. 3.


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fusion with all the objects of cultivation, melted together into one mass by distance) the Towy winds in various meanders. The eye cannot trace the whole serpentine course of the river ; but sees it here and there in glittering spots, which gives the imagination a pleasing employment in making out the whole. The nearest hills partake of the rich- ness of the vale ; the distant hills which rise gently above the others, seem barren.


PROM Dinevawr-castle we set out across the country for Neath ; a good turnpike-road, we were assured, would lead us thither, but we were told much of the difficulty of passing the mountain, as they emphatically call a ridge of high ground which lay be- fore us.

Though we had left the vale of Towy, the country continued to wear the same face of hill and dale which it had so long worn. On the right we had still a distant view of the scenery of Dinevawr-castle, which appeared like a grand woody bank. The woods also of Golden-grove varied the scene. Soon after, other castles, seated loftily on rising grounds, adorned other vales ; Truslan-castle on the right, and Caerkennel on the left.


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But all these beautiful scenes by degrees were closed ; castles, and winding rivers, and woody banks were left behind, one after another, and we approached nearer and nearer the tre- mendous mountain ; which spread its dark mantle athwart the view.

It did not however approach precipitately ; though it had long blotted out all distance, yet its environs afforded a present scene, and partook of the beautiful country we had passed. The ground about its foot was agree- ably disposed, swelling into a variety of little knolls covered with oak, which a foaming rivulet, winding along, shaped into tufted islands and peninsulas of different forms, wearing away the soil in some parts from the roots of the trees, and in others delving deep channels ; while the mountain afforded a dark solemn back-ground to the whole.

At length we began to ascend ; but before we had risen too high, we turn^ round to take a retrospect of all the rich scenes together, which we had left behind. It was a noble view, distance melting into distance, till the whole was closed by a semicircle of azure


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mountains, scarcely distinguishable from the sky which absorbed them.

Still ascending the spiral road round the shaggy side of the mountain, we arrived at what is called its gate. Here all idea of cul- tivation ceased. That was not deplorable ; but with it our turnpike-road ceased also ; which was finished on this side, no farther than the mountain-gate. We had gotten a guide however to conduct us over the pathless desert. But it being too steep and rugged to ascend on wheels, we were obliged to lighten our carriage, and ascend on foot.

In the midst of our labour, our guide called out that he saw a storm coming on along the tops of the mountains, a circumstance indeed which in these hilly countries cannot often be avoided. We asked him. How far it was off? He answered, Ten minutes. In less time, sky, mountains, and vallies were all wrapt in one cloud of driving rain and obscurity.

Our recompence consisted in following with our eye the rear of the storm; observ- ing through its broken skirts a thousand beautiful effects and half-formed images, which were continually opening, lost, and I varying,

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varying, till the sun breaking out, the wh ole resplendent landscape appeared again with double radiance, under the leaden gloom of the retiring tempest.

When we arrived at the top of the moun- tain, we found a level plain, which continued at least two miles. It was a noble terrace ; but was too widely spread to give us a display of much distant scenery.

At length we began to descend the moun- tain, and soon met an excellent turnpike-road, down which we slid swiftly, in an elegant spiral, and found, when we came to the bottom, that we had spent near four hours in surmounting this great obstruction.

Having thus passed the mount Cenis of this country, we fell into the same kind of beautiful scenery on this side of it which we had left on the other : only here the scene was continually shifting, as if by magical interposition.

We were first presented with a view of a deep woody glen lying below us, which the eye could not penetrate, resting only on the tops and tuftings of the trees.


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This suddenly vanished, and a grand rocky bank arose in front, richly adorned with wood.

It was instantly gone, as we were shut up in a close woody lane.

In a moment, the lane opened on the right, and we had a view of an enchanting vale.

We caught its beauties as a vision only. In an instant they fled, and in their room arose two bold woody promontories. We could just discover between them, as they floated past, a creek, or the mouth of a river, or a channel of the sea. We knew not what it was : but it seemed divided by a stretch of land of dingy hue, which appeared like a sand-bank.

This scene shifting, immediately arose, on our left, a vast hill, covered with wood ; through which, here and there, projected huge masses of rock.

In a few moments it vanished, and a grove of trees suddenly shot up in its room.

But before we could even discover of what species they were, the rocky hill, which had just appeared on the left, winding rapidly round, presented itself full in front. It had

I 2 now

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now acquired a more tremendous form. The wood, which had before hid its terrors, was now gone ; and the rocks were all left, in their native wildness, every where bursting from the soil.

Many of the objects which had floated so rapidly past us, if we could have exa- mined them, would have given us sublime and beautiful hints in landscape; some of them seemed even well combined, and ready prepared for the pencil ; but, in so quick a succession, one blotted out another; and it would have been endless to stop our chaise and examine them all. The country at length giving way on both sides, a view opened, which suffered the eye to rest upon it.

The river Neath, covered with shipping, was spread before us. Its banks were en- riched with wood, amidst which arose the ruins of Neath-abbey, with its double tower. Beyond the river the country arose in hills, which were happily adorned, when we saw them in a clear serene evening, with one or two of those distant forges or charcoal-pits,


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which we admired on the banks of the Wye, wreathing a light veil of smoke along their summits and blending them with the sky. — Through this landscape we entered the town of Neath, which with its old castle, and bridges, excited many picturesque ideas.


As we left Neath, a grand vista of woody mountains, pursuing each other along the river, and forming, no doubt, some enchanting vale, if we had had time to examine it, stretched into remote distance.

The vistas of art are tame and formal. They consist of streets, with the unvarying repetition of doors and windows ; or they consist of trees planted nicely in rows ; a succession of mere vegetable columns ; or they consist of some other species of regularity : but Nature's vistas are of a different cast. She forms them sometimes of mountains, sometimes of rocks, and sometimes of woods. But all her works, even of this formal kind are the works of a master. If the idea of regularity be impressed on the general form, the parts are broken with a thousand varieties. Her vistas are models to paint from. — In


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this before us, both the mountains themselves and the perspective combination of them, were beautiful.

The broken ground about a copper-work, a little beyond the town, would afford hints for a noble landscape. Two contiguous hills appear as if riven asunder, and lay open a picturesque scene of rocky fragments, inter- spersed with wood, through which a torrent, forcing its way, forms two or three cascades before it reached the bottom.

A little beyond this, the views which had entertained us as we entered Neath, entertained us a second time as we left it. The river covered with shipping, presented itself again. The woody scenery arose on its banks, and the abbey appeared among the woods, though in different perspective, and in a more removed situation.

Here too we were again presented with those two woody promontories of which we


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had just obtained a glimpse before, with a creek or channel between them, divided by what seemed a sand-bank. We had now approached much nearer, and found we had been right in our conjecture*. The ex- tensive object we had seen, was the bank of Margam, which, when the sea retires, is a vast sandy flat.

Hence we had, for a considerable time, con- tinued views on the left of grand woody pro- montories pursuing each other, all rich to profusion, with sea views on the right. Such an intermixture of high-lands and sea, where the objects are beautiful and well disposed, makes, in general, a pleasing mode of compo- sition. The roughness of the mountains above, and the smooth expanse of the waters below, wonderfully aid each other by the force of contrast.

From these views we were hurried at once upon a bleak sea-coast, which gave a kind of relief to the eye, almost surfeited with rich landscape. Margam sand-bank, which, seen

See page 114.


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partially, afforded a sweet ohastising tint to the verdure of the woody promontories through which we had twice seen it, became now (when unsupported and spread abroad in all its extension) a cold, disgusting object.

But relief was everywhere at hand, and

we seldom saw it long without some inter- vention of woody scenery.

As we approached the river Abravon, the country degenerated still more. Margam sand-bank, which was now only the bound-,, ary of marshes, became offensive to the eye ; and though on the left the woody hills con- tinued still shooting after us, yet they had lost their pleasing shapes. No variety of breaks, like the members of architecture, gave a lightness and elegance to their forms : no mantling furniture invested their sides ; nor tufted fringe adorned their promontories ; nor scattered oak discovered the sky through interstices along their towering summits : instead of this, they had degenerated into mere uniform lumps of matter, and were everywhere overspread with one heavy unin- terrupted bush.


( 1-^3 )

Of this kind were Lord Mansell's woods which cover a promontory. Time with its lenient hand may hereafter hang new beauties upon these hills, when it has corrected their heaviness, by improving the luxuriance of youthful foliage into the lighter forms of aged trees.

From Lord Mansell's to Pyle, which stands on a bleak coast, the spirit of the country is totally lost.

Here we found the people employed in sending provisions to the shore, where a Dutch West-Lidia ship had just been wrecked. Fifteen lives were lost, and among them the w^hole family of a Zealand merchant, who was bringing his children for education to Amsterdam. The populace came down in large bodies to pillage the wreck, which the officers of the customs and gentlemen of the country assembled to protect. It was a busy seene, composed of multitudes of men, carts, horses, and horsemen.


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The bustle of a crowd is not ill -adapted to the pencil; but the management of it requires great artifice. The whole must be massed together and considered as one body.

I mean not tq have the whole body so agglomerated as to consist of no detached groupes ; but to have these groupes (of which there should not be more than two or three) appear to belong to one whole, by the artifice of composition, and the effect of light.

This great whole must be varied also in its parts. It is not enough to stick bodies and heads together. Figures must be con- trasted with figures, and life, spirit, and action must pervade the whole.

Thus in managing a crowd, and in ma- naging a landscape, the same general rules are to be observed. Though the parts must be contrasted, the whole must be combined ; but the difficulty is the greater in a crowd ; as its parts, consisting of animated bodies, require a nicer observation of form : being all similar likewise, they require more art in the com- bination of them.


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Composition indeed has never a more difficult work, than when it is engaged in combining a crowd. When a number of people, all coloured alike, are to be drawn up in rank and file, it is not in the art of man to com- bine them in a picturesque manner. We can introduce a rencounter of horse where all regularity is broken, or we can exhibit a few general officers with their aids-de-camp on the foreground, and cover a fighting army with smoke at a distance ; but the files of war, the regiment or squadron in military array, admit no picturesque composition. Modern heroes, therefore, must not look to have their achievements recorded on canvas, till they abrogate their formal arts. — But even when we take all the advantages of shape and colour with which the human form can be varied or cloathed, we find it still a matter of difficulty enough.

r do not immediately recollect having seen a crowd better managed than Hogarth has managed one in the last print of his idle ap- prentice. In combining the multifarious company, which attends the spectacle of an execution, he hath exemplified all the ob- servations I have made. I have not the


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print before me ; but I have often admired it in this light ; nor do I recollect observ- ing any thing offensive in it ; which is rare in the management of such a multitude of figures.

The subject before us is as well adapted, as any species of crowd can be, to exhibit the beauties of composition. Horses, carts, and men make a good assemblage, and this variety in the parts would appear to great advantage in contrast with the simplicity of a winding shore, and of a stranded ship (a large dark object) heeling on one side, in the corner of the piece.


Jr ROM Pyle the country grows still worse ; till at last it degenerates into a naked heath; and continues a long time totally unadorned, or at best with a few transient beauties. .

At Bridgend, where we met the river Og- more, a beautiful landscape bursts again upon us. Woody banks arise on both sides, on the right especially, which continue a consi- derable way, marking the course of the rive^. On the left is a rich distance.

Hence we pass in view of cultivated val- lies, into which the rich distance we had just seen began to form itself, while the road winds over a kind of terrace above them. An old castle also enriches the scene ; till


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at lengtli the terrace giving way, we sink into the vale, and enter Cowbridge.

The heights beyond Cowbridge give us the first view of the Bristol channel on the right. The country between the eye and the water has a marshy appearance, but being well blended, and the lines broken, it makes a tolerable distance. The road passes through pleasant inclosed lanes.

At the fifth stone before we reached Car- diflT, we had a most grand and extensive view from the heights of Clanditham. It con- tained an immense stretch of country, melt- ing gradually into a faint blue semicircle of mountains, which edged the horizon ; this scene indeed, painted in syllables, words, and sentences, appears very like some of the scenes we had met with before, but in nature it was very different from any of them.

In distant views of cultivated countries, seen from lofty stands, the parts which lie nearest the eye are commonly disgusting. The divisions of property into squares, rhom- boids,

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boids, and other mathematical forms, are unpleasant. A view of this kind therefore does not assume its beauty, till on descending a little lower, the hedge-rows begin to lengthen, and form those agreeable discriminations of which Virgil* takes notice ; where fields and meadows become extended streaks, and yet are broken in various parts by rising grounds, castles, and other objects with which distances abound ; melting away from the eye in one general azure tint, just here and there diversified with a few lines of light and shade, and dotted with a few indistinct objects. Then, if we are so happy as to find a ruin, a spreading tree, a bold rock, or some other object large enough, with its appendages, to become a foreground, and balance the distance, (such as we found among the abrupt heights of Coteswoldt,) we have the chance of being presented with a noble picture, which distance alone cannot give.

Hence appears the absurdity of carrying a painter to the top of a high hill to take a

  • et late discrlminat agros. Mn. II. 144.

f See page 10.

K view.

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view. He cannot do it. Extension alone, though amusing in nature, will never make a picture. It must be supported.

Cardiff lies low, though it is not unplea- santly seated on the land side among woody hills. As we approached, it appeared with more of the furniture of antiquity about it than any town we had seen in Wales ; but on the spot the picturesque eye finds it too entire to be in full perfection. The castle, which was formerly the prison of the unfortunate Robert, son of William the First, who lan- guished here the last twenty years of his life, is still, I believe, a prison, and in good re- pair.

From the town and parts adjacent, the windings and approach of the river Tave from the sea, with the full tide, make a grand appearance. This is, on the whole, the finest estuary we have seen in Wales.

From the heights beyond Cardiff, the views of the channel on the right continue, and of the Welsh mountains on the left. The


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Sugar-loaf near Abergavenny appears still distinctly. The road leads through inclosed lanes.

Newport lies pleasantly on a declivity. A good view might be taken from the retro- spect of the river, the bridge and the castle. A few slight alterations would make it pic- turesque.

Beyond Newport some of the views of the channel were finer than any we had seen. The coast, though it continues flat, becomes more woody, and the parts are larger.

About seven miles from Newport, the road winds among woody hills ; which here and there form beautiful dips at their inter- sections. On one of these knolls stand the ruins of a castle, which has once made a grand appearance ; but it is now degraded into a modern dwelling.

As we approached the passage over the Bristol channel, the views of it became still

K 2 more

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more interesting. On the right, we left the magnificent ruins of Caldicot-castle, and ar- rived at the ferry-house about three in the afternoon, where we were so fortunate as to find the boat preparing to set sail. It had attempted to cross at high water in the morn- ing, but after toiling three hours against the Avind, it was obliged to put back. This afforded another opportunity when the water was at ebb ; for the boat can pass only at the two extremes of the tide, and seldom oftener than once in a day.

We had scarcely alighted at the ferry- house, when we heard the boatman winding his horn from the beach about a quarter of a mile beloW; as a signal to bring down the horses. When they were all embarked, the horn sounded again for the passengers. A very multifarious company assembled ; and a miserable walk we had to the boat through sludge and over shelving and slippery rocks. When we got to it we found eleven horses on board, and above thirty people ; and our chaise (which we had intended to convert into a cabin during the voyage) slung into the shrouds.


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The boat, after some struggling with the shelves, at length gained the channel. The wind was unfavourable, which obliged us to make several tacks, as the seamen phrase them. These tacks occasioned a fluttering in the sail; and this produced a fermen- tation among the horses, till their fears reduced them again to order.

Livy gives us a beautiful picture of the terror of cattle in a scene of this kind. — '* Primus erat pavor, quum, soluta rate, in " altum raperentur. Ibi urgentes inter se,

    • cedentibus extremis ab aqua, trepidati-

" onem aliquantam edebant; donee quietem

  • ' ipse timor circumspicientibus aquam fe-

" cisset*."

The scenery of this short voyage was of little value. We had not here the steep folding banks of the Wye to produce a suc- cession of new landscapes. Our picture now was motionless. From the beginning

  • Lib. XXI. cap. xxviii.


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to the end of the voyage it continued the same : it was only a display of water, varied by that little change introduced by distance, on a coast which, seen from so low a point as the surface of the water, became a mere thread. The screens bore no proportion to the area.

After beating near two hours against the wind, our voyage concluded as it began, with an uncomfortable walk through the sludge to the high-water mark.

The worst part of the affair is the usage of horses. If they are unruly, or any acci- dent occurs, there is hardly a possibility, at least if the vessel be crowded, of affording them relief. Early in our voyage, as the boat heeled, one of the poor animals fell down. Many an ineffectual struggle it made to rise, but nothing could be done till we arrived at the other side.

The operation too of landing horses, is equally disagreeable. They are forced out of the boat, through an aperture in the side of it ; which is so inconvenient a mode of egress, that in leaping many have been hurt from the difficulty of disengaging their hinder legs.


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This passage as well as the other over the Severn, (for there is one also a little above,) are often esteemed dangerous. The tides are uncommonly rapid in this channel ; and when a brisk wind happens to blow in a contrary direction, the waters are rough. The boats too are often ill-managed ; for what is done repeatedly, is often done care- lessly. A British admiral, who had lived much at sea, riding up to one of these ferries, with an intention to pass over, and observing the boat, as she was working across the channel from the other side, declared he durst not trust himself to the seamanship of such fellows as managed her ; and turning his horse, went round by Glocester.

Several melancholy accidents indeed with- in the course of a dozen years, have thrown discredit on these ferries. One w^e had from a gentleman, who himself providentially escaped being lost. He went to the beach just as the vessel was unmooring. His horse had been embarked before, together with sixty head of cattle. A passage with such company appeared so disagreeable, that he and about six or seven passengers whom he found on the beach, among whom was a


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young lady, agreed to get into an open boat and be towed over by the large one.

The passage was rough, and they observed the cattle on board the larger vessel rather troublesome. They were now about half wa}^ over, when an ox near the aperture in the side of the vessel, mentioned above for the entrance and egress of cattle, entangled his horn in a wooden slider which closes it, and which happened according to the care- less custom of boatmen, to be unpinned. The beast finding his head fixed, and en- deavouring to disengage himself, drew up the slider. The vessel heeled ; the tide rushed in ; and all was instant confusion. The danger and the impossibility of opposing it in such a crowd struck every one at once.

In the mean time the passengers in the open boat, who were equally conscious of the ruin, had nothing left but to cut the rope, which tied them to the sinking vessel. But not a knife could be found in the whole company. After much confusion, a little neat tortoise-shell pen-knife was produced ; with which unequal instrument they just got the rope severed, when the large vessel and its whole contents went down : all on board


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perished, except two or three oxen which were seen floating on the surface ; and it was believed got to shore.

The joy of the passengers in the boat was however short-lived. It soon appeared they had escaped only one mode of death: they were left to themselves in a wide ex- panse of water ; at the mercy of a tide ebb- ing with a violent current to the sea ; with- out oars or sail ; and without one person on board who had ever handled either. A gentleman among them had just authority enough to keep them all quiet ; without which their safety could not have been in- sured a moment. He then took up a paddle, the only instrument on board, with an inten- tion, if possible, to get the boat on shore ; but the young lady, who was his niece, throwing her arms round him in an agony of despair, not knowing what she did, would not let him proceed. He was obliged to quiet her by threatening in a furious tone to strike her down instantly with the oar, if she did not desist. Notwithstanding all his ef- forts they were hurried away by the ebbing waters as far as Kingroad ; where the vio- lence of the tide slackening, he prevented


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the boat from going out to sea ; and got it by degrees to shore.

From the gentleman who told iis this story, we had the account of the loss of an open boat in the same passage, through the obsti- nacy of a passenger.

The wind was rough, and a person on board lost his hat ; which floated away in a contrary direction. He begged the water- man to turn round to recover it ; but the waterman told him it was as much as their lives were worth to attempt it ; on which the passenger, who seemed to be a tradesman, started up, seized the helm, and swore the fellow should return. In the struggle the helm got a wrong twist, and the boat instantly filled and went to the bottom. It appeared afterwards that the hat was of value, for the owner had secreted several bills in the lining of it.

For ourselves, however, we found the pas- sage only a disagreeable one ; and if there was any danger, we saw it not. The danger chiefly, I suppose, arises from carelessness and overloading the boat.


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As our chaise could not be landed till the tide flowed up the beach, we were obliged to wait at the ferry-house. Our windows overlooked the channel, and the Welsh-coast, which, seen from a higher stand, became now, a woody and beautiful distance. The wind was brisk and the sun clear, except that at intervals it was intercepted by a few floating clouds. The playing lights, which arose from this circumstance on the opposite coast, were very picturesque. Pursuing each other, they sometimes just caught the tufted tops of trees ; then gleaming behind shadowy woods, they spread along the vales till they faded insensibly away.

Often these partial lights are more station- ary ; when the clouds, which fling their length- ened shadows on distant grounds, hang some time balanced in the air. But whenever found, or from whatever source derived, the painter observes them with the greatest ac- curacy ; he marks their different appearances, and lays them up in his memory among the choice ingredients of distant landscape. Al- most alone they are sufficient to vary distance.

A mul-

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A multiplicity of objects, melted harmoniously together, contribute to enrich it : but without throwing in these gleaming lights, the artist can hardly avoid heaviness*

  • When the shadows of floating clouds fall upon the sides

of mountains, they have a bad effect. See Picturesque

Observat. on Scotch Landscape, vol. ii. p. 152.


Jtrom the ferry-house to Bristol, the views are amusing. The first scene was a spacious lawn, about a mile in diameter, the area of which was flat ; and the boundary a grand woody bank, adorned with towers and villas, standing either boldly near the top, or seated in woody recesses near the bottom. The horizon line is^well varied, and broken.

The whole of this landscape is too large ; and not characterised enough to make a pic- ture ; but the contrast between the plain and the wood, both of which are objects of equal grandeur, is pleasing ; and many of the parts, taken separately, would form into good com- position.

When we left the plain, the road carried us into shady lanes, winding round woody eminences ; one of which was crowned with



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an artificial castle. The castle indeed, which consisted of one tower, might have been better imagined : the effect however was good, though the object was paltry.

About three miles on this side of Bristol we had a grand view of rising country. It consisted of a pleasing mixture of wood and lawn : the parts were large ; and the houses and villages scattered in good proportion. The whole, when we saw it, was overspread with a purplish tint, which as the objects were so near, we could not account for ; but it united all the parts together in very pleas- ing harmony.

Nature's landscapes are generally harmo- nized. Whether the sky is enlightened, or whether it low^ers; whether it is tinted, or whether it is untinted, it gives its yellow lustre, or its grey obscurity, to the surface of the earth. It is but seldom however, that we meet with those strong harmonizing tints, which the landscape before us presented.

As the air is the vehicle of these tints, distant objects will of course participate of them in the greatest degree ; the foregrounds


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will be little affected, as they are seen only through a very thin veil of tinted air. But when the painter thinks it proper to intro- duce these strong tints into his distances, he will give his foregrounds likewise, in some degree, a participating hue ; more perhaps than in reality belongs to them ; or, at least he will work them up with such colours, mute or vivid, as accord best with the general tone of his landscape. — -How far it is proper for him to attempt these uncommon appearances of nature, is not a decided question. If the landscape before us should be painted with that full purple glow, with which we saw it overspread, the connoisseur would probably take offence, and call it affected.

The approach to Bristol is grand ; and the environs everywhere shew the neighbourhood of an opulent city ; though the city itself lay concealed till we entered it. For a consider- able way, the road led between stone-walls, which bounded the fields on each side. This boundary, though of all others the most un- pleasing, is yet not an improper approach to

a greafr

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a great town ; it is a kind of connecting thread.

The narrowness of the port of Bristol, which is formed by the banks of the river, is very striking. It may be called a dry har- bour, notwithstanding the river : for the ves- sels, when the tide ebbs, lie on an ouzy bed in a deep channel. The returning tide lifts them to the height of the wharfs. It ex- hibits of course none of those beautiful wind- ing shores, which often adorn an estuary. The port of Bristol was probably first formed when vessels, afraid of being cut from their harbours by corsairs, ran up high into the country for security.

The great church is a remnant only of the ancient fabric. It has been a noble pile when the nave was complete, and the stunted tower crowned with a spire, as I suppose it once was. We were sorry we did not look into RatclifF church, which is said to be an elegant piece of Gothic architecture.

The country around Bristol is beautiful, though we had not time to examine it. The scenery about the Hot-wells is in a great de- gree picturesque. The river is cooped be- 4;ween two high hills ; both of which are


V ^45 )

adorned with a rich profusion of rock, wood, and verdure. Here is no offskip indeed, but as far as foregrounds alone make a picture, (and they will do much better alone than distances,^ we are presented with a very beau- tiful one. — Between these hills stands the pump-room, close to the river; and every ship, that sails into Bristol, sails under its windows.

The road between Bristol and Bath con- tains very little worth notice. We had been informed of some grand retrospect views, but we did not find them. We were told afterwards, there are two roads between Bath and Bristol ; of which the Glocestershire road is the more picturesque. If so, we unfortu- nately took the wrong one.

At Bath the buildings are splendid ; but the picturesque eye finds little amusement among such objects. The circus, from a corner of one of the streets that run into it, is thrown into perspective : and if it be hap-

L pily

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pily enlightened, is seen with advantage. The crescent is built in a simpler, and greater style of architecture.

I have heard an ingenious friend. Colonel Mitford, who is well versed in the theory of the picturesque, speak of a very beautiful and grand effect of light and shade, which he had sometimes observed from an afternoon sun, in a bright winter-day, on this structure. No such effect could happen in summer ; as the sun, in the same meridian, would be then too high. A grand mass of light, falling on one side of the Crescent, melted imperceptibly into as grand a body of shade on the other ; and the effect rose from the opposition and graduation of these extremes. It was still in- creased by the pillars, and other members of architecture, which beautifully varied, and broke both the light and the shade, and gave a richness to each. The whole seemed like an effort of nature to set off art ; and the eye roved about in astonishment to see a mere mass of regularity become the ground of so pleasing a display of harmony and picturesque effect. The elliptical form of the building was the magical source of this exhibition.


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As objects of curiosity, the parades, the baths, the rooms, and the abbey, are all worth seeing. The rising grounds about Bath, as they appear from the town, are a great orna- ment to it : though they have nothing pleas- ing in themselves. There is no variety in the out-line ; no breaks, no masses of woody scenery.

From Bath to Chippenham, the road is pleasant ; but I know not, that it deserves any higher epithet.

From Chippenham to Marlborough, we passed over a wild plain, which conveys no idea but that of vastness, unadorned with beauty.

Nature, in scenes like these, seems only to have chalked out her designs. The ground is laid in, but left unfinished. The orna- mental part is wanting — the river, or the lake winding through the bottom, which lies in form to receive it ; the hanging rocks, to adorn some shooting promontory ; and the

L 2 woody

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woody screens to incompass, and give richness to the whole.

Marlborough-down, is one of those vast dreary scenes, which 'our ancestors, in the dignity of a state of nature, chose as a repo- sitory of their dead. Everywhere we see the tumuli, which were raised over their ashes ; among which the largest is Silbury-hill. These structures have no date in the history of time ; and will be, in all probability, among its most lasting monuments. Our an- cestors had no ingenious arts to gratify their ambition ; and as they could not aim at im- mortality by a bust, a statue, or a piece of bas-relief, they endeavoured to obtain it by works of enormous labour. It was thus in other barbarous countries. Before the intro- duction of arts in Egypt, kings endeavoured to immortalize themselves by lying under pyramids.

As we passed, what are called, the ruins of A bury, we could not but admire the industr}^


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and sagacity of those antiquarians, who can trace a regular plan in such a mass of apparent confusion*.

At the great inn at Marlborough, formerly a mansion of the Somerset-family, one of these tumuli stands in the garden, and is wnimsically cut into a spiral walk ; which, ascending imperceptibly, is lengthened into half a mile. The conceit at least gives an idea of the bulk of these massy fabrics.

From Marlborough the road takes a more agreeable appearance. Savernake-forest, through which it passes, is a pleasant woody scene : and great part of the way afterwards is adorned with little groves, and opening glades, which form a variety of second dis- tances on the right. But we seldom found a foreground to set them off' to advantage.

  • See an account of Abury, by Dr, Stukely.


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The country soon degenerates into open corn-lands : but near Hungerford, which is not an unpleasant town, it recovers a little spirit ; and the road passes through close lanes, with breaks here and there, into the country, between the boles of trees.

As we approach Newberry, we had a view of Donnington-castle ; one of those scenes where the unfortunate Charles reaped some glory. Nothing now remains of this gallant fortress, but a gate-way and two towers. The hill, on which it stands, is so overgrown with brush-wood, that we could scarcely discern any vestiges either of the walls of the castle, or of the works which had been thrown up against it.

This whole woody hill, and the ruins upon it, are now tenanted, as we were informed by our guide, only by ghosts; which how- ever' add much to the dignity of these for- saken habitations, and are, for that reason, of great use in description.

In Virgil's days, when the Tarpeian rock was graced by the grandeur of the capital, it


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was sufficiently ennobled. But in its early state, when it was si/lvestribus horrida dumis, it wanted something to give it splendor. The poet therefore, has judiciously added a few ideas of the awful kimd ; and has con- trived by this machinery to impress it with more dignity in its rude state, than it possessed in its adorned one :

Jam turn religio pavidos terrebat agrestes

Dira loci ; jam tum sylvam, saxumque timebant.

" Hoc nemus, hunc, inquit, frondoso vertice coUem,

" (Quis Deus, incertum est) habitat Deus. Arcades ipsum

" Credunt se vidisse Jovem, cum saspe nigrantem

" iEgida concuteret dextra, nimbosque cieret."

Of these imaginary beings the painter, in the meantime, makes little use. The intro- duction of them, instead of raising, would depreciate his subject. The characters indeed of Jupiter, Juno, and all that progeny, are rendered as familiar to us, through the an- tique, as those of Alexander and Caesar. But the judicious artist will be cautious how he goes farther. The poet will introduce a phan- tom of any kind without scruple. He knows his advantage. He speaks to the imagination ; and if he deals only in general ideas, as all good


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poets on such subjects will do, every reader will form the phantom according to his own conception. But the painter, who speaks to the eye, has a more difficult work. He cannot 'deal in general terms : he is ohliged to particu^ larize: and it is not likely, that the spectator will have the same idea of a phantom which he

has. The painter therefore acts prudently

in abstaining, as much as possible, from the representation of fictitious beings.

The country about Newberry furnished little amusement. But if it is not pictur^esque, it is very historical.

In every historical country there are a set of ideas which peculiarly belong to it. Has- tings, and Tewkshury ; Runnemede, and Cla- rendon, have all their associate ideas. The ruins of abbeys and castles have another set : and it is a soothing amusement in travelling, to assimilate the mind to theideas of the country. The ground we now trod, has many histori- cal ideas associated with it ; two great battles, a long siege, and the death of the gallant Lord Falkland.


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The load from Newberry to Rearling, leads through lanes, from which a flat and woody country is exhibited on the right, and rising grounds on the left. Some unpleasant common fields intervene.

In the new road from Reading to Henley, the high grounds overlook a very picturesque distance on the right. The country indeed is flat ; but this is a circumstance we do not dislike in a distance, when it contains a variety of wood and plain ; and when the parts are large, and well-combined.

Henley lies pleasantly among woody hills : but the chalk, bursting everywhere from the soil, strikes the eye in spots ; and injures the landscape.

Hence we struck again into the road across

Hounslow-heath ; having crouded much more

M within

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within the space of a fortnight (|o which our time was limited) than we ought to have done. V:



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