Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and dreary region, with scarcely a vestige of agriculture, and presenting nothing but the most harsh and

savage features of nature. But I must caution you once more against the superlative phraseology of the tourists, when speaking of these places. They set out from London, where they have perhaps lived all their lives, without seeing a bill higher than Hampstead or Highgate, or any object of nature more sublime than the Thames and Rosamond's Pond, and coming into Wales, are fully assured that every thing they behold is on a scale of immensity, because it exceeds all they have ever seen before. When they come to a cascade of a brook three yards wide, falling down a rock thirty seet high, they cannot possibly make it brawl and roar loud enough, or work up the foam into sufficient vigour to astonish the reader, A precipice always threatens destruction, as loud as it can bawl, if it be only high enough to stand for a precipice; the rocks are all “ gigantic ;' the torrents are “ vast,” and rushing with most " savage impetuosity ;' the “ waters" are “tremendous," and the sheep and goats are always in imminent danger of breaking their necks. All this certainly makes a book read well, and gives the poor citizen, who never knows any thing of nature, except from books, a great advantage over an actual spectator of these scenes, because the latter sees only through his eyes, the former through his imagination. I assure you, brother, I have not half the opinion of Welsh scenery that I had, when reading tours and looking at pictures of Llangollan, &c. by your fire-side in America. The mountains of Switzerland present objects on a far greater scale ; and nothing I have ever yet seen, in England or Wales, can rival the scenery of the Rhine and its neighbourhood for sublinity and beauty combined. All England can produce nothing to compare with the Rhinegau,

any more than all England can produce such wine.

Still you are not to understand me to mean, that the Welsh scenery is not very pretty, very respectable indeed, in point of variety at least. By one, who has never been out of England, it will undoubtedly be considered wonderful and unequalled. It is under this impression, that the tourists have deceived themselves and their readers, hy adopting the superlative, when they should modestly have confined themselves to the positive, and not even ventured upon the comparative. Excepting the pass of Penmanmuir, the higher class of sublimity is no, where to be seen in Wales. For my part, it was neither the mountains, the rivers, the cataracts, nor the magnitude, indeed, of any particular feature of nature that struck me. It was the beautiful, romantic, and solitary little vales, deeply embosomed in the mountains—the softer and more latent beauties, that caught my heart, and awakened the rural feeling in its highest state. abounds in Wales, and to those who have a taste for it, few countries present more frequent or more entire gratification.

The view of the vale of Festiniog, on emerging from the defiles among the ruins and rugged tributaries of Snowdoun, was of this character, and carried with it also the charm of novelty, as well as the sight of a comfortable looking little inn, to a weary and hungry traveller. This last is a prospect in which all true lovers of the picturesque delight.

Such scenery

LETTER XI.

London.

DEAR BROTHER,

The vale of Festiniog or Maentwrog is well cultivated, and abounds in rural beauties, the very seat of musing, and tranquillity. It is all wild mountains without, and all gentleness within. The little village of Festiniog lies somewhat elevated above the surrounding fields, and at the foot of the mountains. Near it are the pretty falls of Cynfael, separated by a distance of about half a quarter of a mile, and the principal pitch about forty feet high. Below this, the water, being confined in a narrow pass of rocks, rushes along with considerable velocity, exhibiting altogether a picturesque and romantic spectacle. There is a singular rock rising out of the bed of the river like a column, and is called Hugh Lloyd's pulpit.

This little vale, which is only about three miles long and a mile wide, is intersected by a rivulet, called the river Dwyrid, on either side skirted with meadows, succeeded by cultivated fields along the sides of the hills, which, in many places, are covered with wood. At either end are high mountains, shutting out this little sequestered spot from all but the skies. The tide, at the bottom of the vale, flows in from the sea, which is just distinguished through the opening, as you pass between the mountains. It is indeed a beautiful scene ; presenting on every side a combination of objects, associated with all that is gay, innocent, and happy, in the lot of man. Let those, who cannot make their spirits harmonize with nature in her rural paradise and rural pastimes, seek the luxurious en. joyments of the crowded city, eat, drink, and not be inerry, and die. In the evening, I mean the twilight of the day, which in summer is so charming, that it seems a pity it is not longer, the Welsh songs were occasionally heard, and though but rude and simple, they were so much the better, for they harmonized with the simplicity of every thing around. The harp, too, is frequently heard in this vale, and in the repose of evening has a wondrous poetical effect, associated as it is with the hards and minstrelsy of the period of romance. Yet these rural people are not happy, as it would seein both God and nature intended they should be. High rents and heavy taxes will spoil even paradise, and bend the spirit of man down to the earth, be it ever so elastic. In a country labouring under these, it is not sufficient that the people have enough to supply their own little wants—they must have more - they must have something for the temporal, and something for the spiritual lord; and above all, they must have something, a very great something, for their sovereign lord, the king, who puts his hand into every man's put, and takes out the lion's share. It is indeed but little to the king, but it is every thing to the poor man, since it takes from him, not the superfluities, but the necessaries of life. That must be but a bad sort of government, which is felt so heavily even in the recesses of the Welsh mountains. The neighbourhood of the sea puts them in mind of emigration, and they seldom hear the" wide weltering waves" without thinking of our happy land beyond them. I must not omit to mention, that there is an inn here, called Tan-y-Bwlch, which is reprobated by all the picturesque travellers, and particularly those who journeyed on foot. Each of these has had a fling at the poor host, who, like Fielding's landlady, is not really an ill-natured person, but he loves money so well, that he hates every thing like poverty. There are two ways of quieting Englishmen, particularly English landlords.

One by the jingling of money, the other by the jingJing of bells. Either of these will calm the roarings of the stoutest John Bull. But among all the triumphs of gold, that of winning civility from an English innkeeper is certainly the greatest. It is conquering both nature and babit at a blow.

Passing the southern barrier of the valley, I took a farewell look at its beauties. The road now carried me for miles over mountains, which afforded views of great extent and variety, and comprehended the summit of Snowdoun, which seems to have as many heads as Hydra; for one cannot look, it would seem, in any direction, without seeing Snowdoun, or at least the clouds that hide his top. Passing a miserable village, inhabited by a miserable people, I gradually descended again into a valley abounding in wood ,the road through which leads to the famous cascade of Dollymyllan, formed by a brook called the Gamlan, which foams and dashes terribly in the accounts of the tourists, but is really no more than the ordinary mountain torrents of our country present to every traveller, who has leisure and taste to admire them. If one could come upon them by surprise, it would be delightful. But there is nothing surprising left in Wales. The tourists have given such exaggerated impressions of every thing, that disappointment is the prevailing feeling, and none,

« ZurückWeiter »