Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

The coast at Aberths w, the point at which the tourists first touched the Welsh side of the channel, is stated to be consposed of a kind of limestone peculiar to that spot, and which furnishes an incomparable cetaent.

• When burnt into lime and placed under water, it immediately assumes the hardness of the original rock, and even when pulverised and scattered over the land it is converted into a hard grit by the first shower of rain. In the construction of bridges, piers, and all stone work that is exposed to water, this lime is in the highest estimation. All the roofs and walls in the village are delended by a coat of this eternal cement; and when a rouf admits the rain, it is conceived quite time to pull the house down.'

Wbile looking at the modernized cashe at Cardiff, our Author, í a sprightly and sensible strain, defends against the reproacies of antiquaries, the practice of repairing and depraving castles into commodious dwelling-bouses,' instead of keeping up ruins ' in a state of purity, at an expense suflicient to build a palace.” The prodigious operation by which a canal has been formed from Penarth harbour, two miles below Cardiff, to the grand scene of iron-works-Merthyr Tydvil, is duly celebrated, as well as those works.

• The head of the canal, at Merthyr, is more than five hundred and fifty feet higher than the tide-lock where it falls into Penarth harbour; and in the intervening space it is raised sometimes more than three hundred feet above the river Taff, to which it runs parallel in its whole course.'

The notice suggested by the instance of the church-yard at Britton F'erry, in Swansea bay, of the now declining practice of decorating the graves of relatives with planted ever-greens, and flowers, lcads to the mention of a curious mode of petty spite and revenge. None but sweet-scented flowers are planted on the graves, they alono being considered as emblematical of goodness;

.but the turnsole, African marygold, or some other memorials of iniquity, are sometimes insidiously introduced among the pinks and roses by a piqued neighbour, in expression of contempt for the de. ceased or his surviving relations. The facility which is thus given to every malevolent individual, of dropping a seed against the memory of another, is certainly a great imperfection in this system of monumental gardening.'

And upon this follows one of that sort of foreed jokes, which are interspersed throughout the narrative with a liberality which leaves the reader's gratitude far behind. • It forms a puzzling ' kind of consideration to determine what possible construction

the law of libel could put on this singular mode of slander : it

would have rather a droll effect in a trial, to hear of a man 6. escaping on a nice question of sinell, or being at once pro

poupeed guilty by the whole nose of the court.?

6

a

a

In truth, the affectation of jocular smartness recurs so very often, as to become a nuisance in the composition. Besides par taking but slenderly of the wit for which it may be suspected to be intended and mistaken, it is generally of what we may fairly call a rather low quality, we do not mean in a sense importing turpitude, but as expressive of a certain vulgarity of taste, much estranged from the mental babit created in the best schools of literature. These ill-judged vivacities shall sometimes be protracted, in a continuous form, through a succession of sentences, and sometimes they are made to crack off in a single phrase, or queer combination of words. Of the latter kind, we have an example 'only two or three paragraphs further on than the sentence we have just transcribed.

• In the last boisterous excesses of a wake or a fair, I can easily conceive that the ancient feelings of national rivalship might be for a a moment revived,' [between the people of English and of ancient Cambrian descent,] and that the parties might be ready to decide the question of superiority at the point of their knuckles; but in the ordinary business of life, they do not suffer their peace to be disturbed by such fanciful distinctions; but associate on terms of the most intimate familiarity, and interchange hearts and hats without reserve.'

In viewing the copper-works carried on at Neath, and near Swansea, the Travellers had occasion to observe the very destructive effect of the smoke on vegetation. In the immediate vicinity of one of these establishments, situated in a hollow,

there is not a blade of grass, a green bush, nor any form of • vegetation : volumes of smoke, thick and pestilential, are seen crawling up the sides of the hills, which are as bare as a turnpike-road.' They find, however, a much stronger cause of complaint against the copper-works and the iron - works, in the wretched, squalid, and revolting condition to which the women are doomed in these employments. In their sooty persons and coarse attire, they present, says the Describer, a form of more

roughness and radeness, in the shape of woman, than I ever • saw in any other part of the kingdom.' It is added, thatip • all parts of Wales the women are employed in the hardest and • • dirtiest drudgery like the men.' A siinilar account is given of their condition on some parts of the previously surveyed tract of English coast. A strong deposition is made of the depravatios of morals and matters of which they notoriously partake at Swansea, and throughout the districts of the manufactories. A laudable and indignant regret is expressed at the pernicious system of these establishments, in the article especially of their devoting very young children to barbarism, and vice, and all their consequences, amit the employments and corrupt example of their busy and profligate crowds.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The number of ruined castles in the western tract of Glamor. ganshire, attributed chiefly to Norman usurping occupants of the territory, is so great, that the Tourists seldom found themselves convicted of an impertinent question in asking regularly, at hazard, on entering a village, Which is the way to the castle? There are some very lively and just reflections on the bloody, but yet unvaried and uninteresting history of these castles. (Vol. I. p. 78.) Nevertheless, the writer has taken laudable pains to furnish a general idea of the transactions constituting this history, with several special samples relating to particular spots and castles, the scenes of long and ardent strife between the Welsh on the one side, and the intruding Normans, and a colony of Flemings who made good their ground in Pembrokeshire, on the other. These foreigners were willingly patronized and abetted by the English monarchs. It was seen that they must, and that they did, to a degree very highly convenient to those monarchs, engross the martial animosity of the Welsh, violently and justly indignant at this encroachment on their territory. The cost of energy and blood, expended on these resolate invaders and their castles, was so much gained to the cause of English ambition and conquest. The colonists, in addition to the facilities for receiving aid by sea, and to their im-'

measurable superiority in the arts and works of fortification, had 11

the grand advantage of faithful compact among themselves ; whereas the Welsh, condemned to a wretched distribution among rival chieftains, all possessed with the spirit of the first-born • Cain,' could not be restrained even by the urgency of this general interest, from backing and demolishing one another, as if to save the Normans, Flemings, and English, a part of the trouble of doing it for them; and as if, by giving these adversaries the opportunity of recruiting their force, consolidating their defensive system, and rebuilding their sometimes burned fortresses, to compensate to them the mischief often done by the impetuous fury of Cambrian attack. Our Author takes occasion, in describing Pembroke castle, and adverting to its bistory, to give a hideous specimen of this state of things, in a brief recital of the events of eight years of murder and devastation ; an exhibition to make even the deepest hater of ambition invoke the strong arm of a conqueror.

The long course from Pembroke, by Milford Haven, St. David's, Fishguard, and Cardigan, to Aberystwith, is marked ? by many curious descriptions and observations, which we must

not stay to particularize. The most disconsolate kind of scene, as uniting dreariness in the works of nature with decay in those of man, would seem to be St. David's.

• In a melancholy desert, and within view of a wild and terrible eoast, stands the city of St. David's, .which, whatever may-have

a

been its former extent and con/lition, is now reduced to a village of the meanest and most wretched description. So mournful a combination of nature and art I never remember to have scen; every ohjett bears the same impression of dismal poverty, whether the eye settles upon the ragged and tattered village, or wanders over the surrounding country, divided by stone walls into large unprofitable enclosures, without one spot of verdure, and with a soil insufficient, on every little eminence, to hide the nakedness and deformity of the rocks.

"The ancient buildings are situated in a deep hollow, and no part of them is visible from the village except the summit of the cathedral tower; but on approaching to the brink of the close, they all burst upon you in one view, and present a very melancholy scene, with some little surviving magnificence, but waste, silent, and forsaken. The cathedral is the only building within the close that is not pertectly a ruin.'

And even this vencrable structure scems hastening toward that still more venerable condition ; for the side aisles of the chancel ' are roofless, and yielded up without reinorse to the inclemencies 6 of the weather, no care being taken to preserve the monuments

or any of the decorations of the interior.' There are some beauties of monumental inscription worthy to survive the hardest substances in which any of them are engraved. For example,

• Petra, precor, dic sic,

• Anselmus Episcopus est hic.' Again :

• Silvester medicus jacet hic. Ejusque ruina,

• Monstrat quod morti non obsistit medicina. In reverting to the sterile bleakness of the coast, the Writer justly remarks, that

« The want of trees and verdure has not the same mournful effect immediately on the coast as in the interior; we are not accustomed to these ornaments on the coast, and they give way to a new order of scenery, possessing many charms in compensation. If the land be not embellished with vegetation, it is infinitely diversified in its outline, and with the rocks in all their fantastic detail, and the majestic sea spotted with ships and boats, constitutes a scene that is always interesting.'

Our Author's style is well adapted to the story of the ludicrous French invasion at Fishguard, in 1797. Harmless, however, and almost farcical as it was, it inade on the people, unused to the martial games so amusing to their ancestors, an impression perfectly awful, which the subsequent twenty years have not modified to an indifference capable of according with the sportive strain of the Traveller's narration.

But the most striking part of this long stage of descriptions, is the account of a lighthouse on one of the rocks named the Smalls, near the southern promontory of St. Bride's Bay; a

a

a

structure, says our Author, which stands in a more exposed and • terrible situation than any other building of the kind on any

part of our coast, the Eddystone not excepted It is seven

leagues from the main land, completely open to ihe Atlantic, and "surrounded on all sides by a wild and disordered sea. At eth * Eddystone the tide runs less than three knots, and bere more 6 than six. The rock is not more than six feet above high-water, mark, so that the sea, if in any degree agitated, passes entirely

over it, and in gales of wind from the south or west, rises in a • body thirty feet above it.'

• It is built entirely with wood, and is very skilfully contrived. The base consists of eighit vak posts, whole trees, surrounding a central one ; and so arranged as to form a segment of an octagonai pranid, twenty-four feet wide at the base, and sixteen at the apex The posts are fixed eiglit feet deep into the rock, and rise forty feet above it: the intervals between them are open so as to give a free pissage for the sea, except for a small space near the summit, where there is a close boarded cabin seven feet high, in which three men live, who have the charge of the lighthouse : above this there is a wooden cage forming the lantern. The building was erected in the summer of 1775, by Mr. Whitesides of Liverpool, a very ingenious man, who is still the superintendant.

In October, 1812, the inliabitants were in a dreadful situation for a whole fortniglit, in consequence of a most violent tempest, which broke, in the night, one of the supporting posts.

• Others were loosened and displaced ; the lantern was entirely swept away; and the men's cabin so shattered, that the sea burst in upon them and drenched them with every wave. They gave up all hope of being saved, and waited in utter darkness, their cabin rocking in the wind, and the pillars cracking under them, for the final crush which they expected every moment to overwhelm them.'

Doomed to remain in their terrible abode fifteen days before it was possible to render them assistance, it is not improbable they endured a greater measure of the passion of fear,--the estimate being combined of duration and intensity, than the collective amount of that suffering in the whole life of some mortals.

The difference of appearance, in reference to picturesque character, between the coast of Cardiganshire, and the adjoining coast of Pembrokeshire, is strongly marked.

• The latter is so deeply indented, and its promontories are so frequent and of such vast projection, that our views along its front were always bounded by a distinct and bold horizon; but the coast of Cardiganshire is drawn out in one long range of stupendous cliffs, broken by gentle bays and promontories, so as to vary without inter, rupting the perspective, which the eye follows in all its turnings and ipfilections, till it gradually fades into obscurity.' No single natural object seen on this western and northern line

coast, was so striking as one on the southern side of PeioVol. IX. N.S.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »